J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Anticks? Bah, Humbug!

The appearance of "Anticks," or mummers, in Revolutionary Boston, as described in yesterday's post, was not enjoyed by all.

On 20 Dec 1793, the Massachusetts Mercury published a letter, actually dated the following day, to the "INSPECTOR of the POLICE," a recent addition to the lineup of town officials. (That timing confirms that the Anticks made their appearances at Christmas, a detail Samuel Breck did not recall in the passage I quoted yesterday.)

The time will soon arise on which the ANTICKS are wont to assemble. The disadvantages, interruptions and injuries which the inhabitants sustain from these gangs, are too many for enumeration, a few only must suffice.

When different clubs of them meet in the street, noise and fighting immediately commences. Their demands for entrance in houses, are insolent and clamorous; and should the peaceful citizen (not choosing to have the tranquillity of his family interrupted) persevere in refusing them admittance, his windows are broke, or the latches and knockers wrenched from his door as the penalty; Or should they gain admittance, the delicate ear is oftentimes offended, children affrighted, or catch the phrases of their senseless ribaldry.

As you wish no doubt to purge the town of every evil or inconvenience, I conceive this to be one of no small magnitude...
And a Merry Christmas to you, too, sir.


BionicBuddha said...

Some people just can't appreciate good spirit and human compassion.


Kimchee Dreamer said...

It's unfortunate that mummering is no longer practiced! We also had a long tradition of mummering in Canada, but as the antics became less and less appreciated, it eventually became illegal.

Malnurtured Snay said...

Merry Christmas to you! Belated, as the case would be.

bobcee said...

To me, as a beginner, an excellent blog!!
Informative, historical interest and very easy on the eye.

A very happy and prosperous New Year to you.