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CHRISTMAS is coming. Cold weather, snow
in the streets, mince-pies, and our little boys
and girls home for the holidays.
Kindhearted people's donations for the poor-boxes.
Turkeys from the country; Goose Clubs in
town; plums and candied citron in the
windows of the grocers' shops; hot elderwine;
snap-dragon; hunt the slipper; and
the butcher's and baker's quarterly bills.
The great anniversary of humanity gives signs
of its approach, and with it the joyfulness,
and unbending, and unstarching of white
neckcloths, and genial charity, and genial
hand-shaking and good-fellowship, which,
once a-year at least, dispel the fog of caste
and prejudice in this land of England. Christmas
is coming, and, in his jovial train, come
also the Pantomimes.

Goodness! though we know them all by
heart, how we love those same Pantomimes
still! Though we have seen the same Clowns
steal the same sausages, and have been asked
by the Pantaloon " how we were to-morrow?"
for years and years, how we delight in the
same Clown and Pantaloon still! There
can't be anything aesthetic in a pantomime
it must be deficient in the "unities ";  it has
no " epopoea," or anything in the shape of
dramatic property, connected with it; yet it
must have something good about it to make
us roar at the old, old jokes, and wonder at
the old tricks, and be delighted with the old
spangled fairies, and coloured fires. Perhaps
there may be something in the festive season,
something contagious in the wintry jollity of
the year, that causes us, churchwardens,
householders, hard men of business, that we may
be, forget parochial squabbles, taxes and
water-rates, discount and agiotage, for hours,
and enter, heart and soul, into participation
and appreciation of the mysteries of " Harlequin
Fee-fo-fum; or the Enchanted Fairy of
the Island of Abracadabra." Possibly there
may be something in the shrill laughter, the
ecstatic hand-clapping, the shouts of triumphant
laughter of the little children, yonder.
It may be, after all, that the sausages, and
the spangles, the tricks and coloured fires
of Harlequin Fee-fo-fum may strike some
long-forgotten chords; rummage up long-
hidden sympathies; wake up kindly feelings
and remembrances of things that were, ere
parochial squabbles, water-rates, and discount
had being; when we too were little children;
when our jackets buttoned over our trousers,
and we wore frills round our necks, and long
blue sashes round our waists. Else why should
something like a wateriness in the eye, and a
huskiness in the throat (not sorrowful, though)
come over us, amid the most excruciatingly
comic portion of the " comic business? " Else
why should the lights, and the music, the
children's laughter, and the spangled fairies
conjure up that mind-picture, half dim and
half distinct, of our Christmases years ago;
of "Magnall's Questions," and emancipation
from the cane of grandmamma, who always
kept sweet-stuff in her pockets; of Uncle
William, who was never without a store of
half-crowns wherewith to " tip " us; of poor
Sister Gussey, who died; of the childish joys
and griefs, the hopes and fears of Christmas,
in the year eighteen hundred and———; never
mind how many.

Hip, hip, hip! for the Pantomime,
however! Exultingly watch the Clown through
his nefarious career; roar at Jack-pudding
tumbling; admire the paint on his face;
marvel at the " halls of splendour " and
"glittering coral caves of the Genius of the
Sea," till midnight comes, and the green baize
curtain rolls slowly down, and brown holland
draperies cover the ormolu decorations of
the boxes. Then, if you can spare half-an-
hour, send the little children home to Brompton
with the best of governesses, and tarry
awhile with me while I discourse of what
goes on behind that same green curtain,
of what has gone on, before the Clown
could steal his sausages, or the spangled
Fairy change an oak into a magic temple, or
the coloured fires light up the "Home of
Beauty in the Lake of the Silver Swans." Let
me, as briefly and succinctly as I can,
endeavour to give you an idea of the immense
labour, and industry, and perseveranceof the
nice ingenuity, and patient mechanical skill
of the various knowledge, necessary, nay,
indispensableere Harlequin Fee-fo-fum can
be put upon the stage; ere the green baize
can rise, disclosing the coral caves of the
Genius of the Sea. Let us put on the cap
of Fortunio, and the stilts of Asmodeus; let
us go back to when the pantomime was but

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