As promised, a bit more Victorian Christmas cheer from London Society, but I’d like to précis that with a little bit of information about the periodical, just in case anyone is interested.
London Society was an illustrated monthly magazine circulating from 1862 to 1898, which advertised itself as "An Illustrated Magazine of Light and Amusing Literature for the Hours of Relaxation". It was published independently and contained the usual mix of miscellaneous articles, short fiction - much of it anonymous - and serialised novels. Mrs J. H. (Charlotte) Riddell contributed at least two novels to it, Above Suspicion in 1874 and The Senior Partner in 1881-2. Some of the other authors featured were Arthur Conan Doyle (pre-Sherlock Holmes), Alan Muir, Eleanor Catharine Price, W. W. Fenn and Florence Marryat who contributed her novel, Open Sesame and also edited the periodical for a time.
Some of the illustrators featured were M. E. Edwards who was a common illustrator also in the Argosy, R Caldecott, Harry Furniss (later known for his work on Punch and as a pioneer of British cinematography), F. A. Fraser and George Cruikshank, Jr.
The magazine issued lavish Christmas numbers with stories by such luminaries as J. Sheridan Le Fanu, Shirley Brooks, George A. Sala and Edmund Yates.
If you’re into thumbing through that kind of thing it’s a decent read. Perhaps not as interesting as other periodicals such as Leisure Hour, Punch or All the Year Round, although it has its charm, as I’m hopefully about to demonstrate with the following piece of poetry by the editor of London Society with his 1868 Christmas greeting, promoting the widespread readership of the magazine;
OW, when the ash-clusters blacken as they hang,
And brightly red the holly berries grow,
Christmas returns! His heralds are the winds,
And earth for him is tapestried with snow.
What though the silent woods are bare of leaf,
And not a blossom in the garden burns?
Christmas revives the year in joyous hearts,
And to delight the barren winter turns.
All give him warmest greeting; none so high,
So great, but welcome Christmas to their door;
And those whom genial word and kindly thought
Warm not at such a time, indeed are poor.
Season of generous acts and gracious words!
It well befits that now, as each extends
The hand to each, we should send forth once more
A cordial greeting to our myriad friends.
A merry Christmas to them one and all!
Warm from our hearts the words spontaneous flow –
A merry Christmas and a bright New Year
Wherever these, our pictured pages go.
Wide is the wish, for there is that far shore
To which these Christmas leaves will not be blown?
Winds waft them where ‘Society’ is not,
And even ‘London’ is a name unknown.
Beside the white Nyanza, English eyes
Will gaze on them, and brighten as they gaze;
And in the Arctic glooms will shipmates crowd,
To snatch a joy amid the darkening haze.
Deep in the virgin forests of the West
The lonely settler’s heart they will delight;
And his who sees the islands of the South
Eve after eve fade in the purple light.
Gladly the stranger of the under world
Will thus beguile his summer-Christmas hours.
While with strange viands they set forth the feast.
Garnished and garlanded with unknown flowers!
In desert ranges and on nameless seas,
The wanderer at our presence will rejoice,
And in the greeting of a stranger hear
The melody of a remembered voice.
And well we know, in many an English home,
At many a fireside of the dear old land,
Our greeting will awaken a response
Warm as the living touch of hand to hand.
And kindly hearts will join with us in thanks
To those whose genius aids us on our way,
The authors and the artists of the year,
Who in these pages of their best display.
Once more then, in the old familiar words,
(‘Age cannot wither’ them, ‘nor custom stale,’)
To each a merry Christmas, and may all
An opening year of happy omen hail!
And as we seek the individual good,
May we help on the era, long divined,
Of glory to the highest, peace on earth,
And good-will reuniting all mankind!
Not my cup of tea but as I said, it has its charm! Nontheless, a Christmassy Victorian piece of poetry to get you in a seasonal mood, and if anyone is still left saying 'Humbug', I have one last piece of Victorian Christmas poetry left which I am saving for a few days before Christmas!