+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

Christmas is invariably recognised as a time
when almost all diseases become aggravated.
Within the walls the sick are under control,
but those who seek it only for medicine, and
live in their own way, are at liberty to follow
or neglect the advice which is to cure them.
Christmas, to most of them, is a time of over-
eating and over-drinking, and hence it is a
notorious morsel of Christmas Hospital
experience, that the out-patients will all be
worse after " Boxing Day" than they were
before. In some large classes of diseases this
may be said to be invariably the case.

In a large Hospital like Bartholomew's, for
instance, it is always a question who is to be
house surgeon on duty on Boxing Night; for
so sure as the night shall come, it shall be no
night of rest for him. Double the number of
casualties are brought in as compared with
the average of any other night in the year.
Broken heads, " got in a scrimmage, your
hanner,with Paddy Phelan;" broken legs, and
sometimes thighs, from slipping down stairs
after the feastings and drinkings; stabs given
by folks who met and quarrelled "just in a
friendly way; " insensible bundles of clothes
and humanity, who had taken poison with
their drink for jealousy sake; and cabs with
men in a state which defies policemen and
good-natured pedestrians to decide whether
they be dead with drink or dying of an
apoplectic fit. A dreary side of the Christmas
picture is this, but a true one nevertheless;
the shadow of the subject; the gloom that
must exist, to contrast with brightness in all
things human. The poor house surgeon,
possibly, ought to think so, but as splints,
and bandages, and plaisters, and sleepy-
looking nurses, and lancets, and drugs, and
stomach-pumps, throng round about him in
the disturbed quiet of his Hospital night, no
one can blame him much if he lectures the
hero of the "scrimmage" and the broken head,
or mildly supplies advice, as well as bandages,
to the tipsy proprietor of the broken leg, upon
the old and good adage " That Enough's as
Good as a Feast "—even at Christmas Tide.


Christmas in India!—There is anomaly in
the very sound. Christmas in the heart of the
land, where millions fall in idolatrous worship
before the rude images of Brahma, Shiva and
Vishnuand where hundreds of thousands of
the followers of Mahomed scoff at the promises
of the Redeemer! Christmasidentical
in English minds with frost and snow,
and crisp hollyin a clime where the scorching
rays of the sun eternally pierce the very
marrow of man, and penetrate the very bowels
of the earth!

And were India solely tenanted by the
Hindoo and the Mussulman,—had the zealous
missionaries and propagandists, who followed
the fortunes of Albuquerque and Vasco de
Gama, borne the cross to the shores of
Hindostan,—had the French Abb├ęs who enjoyed
the protection of Lally and Dupleix
failed to till the field of proselytismhad
England never played her part in the revelation
of Christian truthsto this moment no
voice would be heard to tell with impunity,
on the blessed anniversary, how herald angels
sang " glory to the new-born King!"

But, the tide of European conquest, and,
better still, the tide of European civilisation,
has carried to the benighted land knowledge,
and a large spirit of toleration; and now, from
Cape Comorin to the farthest northern confines
of the Punjaub, the cross is recognised
by thousands who gladly accept its guarantee
of salvation. In Western India, and in many
parts of the Peninsula, the peasantry have
adopted the Roman Catholic faith: imperfectly
taught, however, and rudely administered by
the degenerate descendants of the early
Portuguese settlers. At all the Presidencies, there
are handsome Romish churches, and still more
chaste and beautiful edifices dedicated to
Protestant worship. In many parts of the large
towns, the eye can take in, at a single view, a
Pagoda, a Mosque, a Protestant church, and
a Catholic chapel. Sixty thousand Englishmen,
Irishmen, and Scotchmen, scattered over
India; and five hundred thousand of the half-
castes or country-born, in whose veins some
British blood flows and throbs, together with
a few hundred natives, are of the Protestant
persuasion. And every day sees their number
and the beneficent effects of their example,
and the teaching of their ministers, augment.

Is there, then, anything so very anomalous
in the connection of the idea of Christianity
with idol-worshipping India? Or can it be a
matter of surprise that Christmas Day should
be observed throughout the localities tenanted
by Europeans, and (so called) Portuguese, with
peculiar interest and solemnity?

At once the season of worship and rejoicing,
Christmas in India, and more especially at
the Presidencies, abounds with interesting

It is early morning; the sun is up and
Christians of all classes are afoot. The bells
of all the places of Christian worship are
summoning to prayer. Hurrying along the roads
and across the maidauns, or esplanades, the
Portuguese clerks and ayahs (nurses and waiting-
women) attired in their best cottons, wend their
way to mass, to celebrate the glorious Nativity,
and behold the image of Nossa Senora. The
gorgeous paintings which decorate the massive
religious structures in Italy, Austria, Spain and
Portugal, are wanting; but, there are other
types which equally address themselves to
the vulgar sense. After mass, at many
chapels and churches, a little bed is exhibited,
and, within, reposes an effigy of the Virgin
mother bearing the infant Jesus. Crowds
rush forward to render homage to the image.
It is kissed by thousands, and bedewed with
the tears of joy and gratitude. Holy water
is at a premium. The vast congregations