This full-page illustration reinforces accessing the joys of the season through alcohol consumption as young Christmas, barely an adolescent but already inebriated, is about to assume his throne, centre. Three putti carry in an enormous wassail bowl filled with punch, and a yule log blazes in the foreground, as half-a-dozen youths carry in the youthful male figure whose head is swathed in holly as he waves a drinking cup. Evergreens dangle in profusion from the ceiling, while outside falling snow obscures the moon. The clothing in Harvey's yuletide scene suggests a bygone period, probably the middle ages, rather than Victorian England. The only discordant element is the old man who grips the throne and points downward. Neither scene even hints, however, at the privation that still haunted the streets of England's larger towns and cities in the mid-eighteen forties. Rather, the illustration for the song "An English Christmas Home" (28 December 1845) emphasises traditional good cheer — the gigantic pudding, bottles, decanters, and a punch bowl surrounded by seasonal greenery — amidst a wintry village scene in which villagers (left) attach lines to a yule log.
[Click on image for larger picture.] Scanned image and caption by Philip V. Allingham from a copy in the Robarts Library, University of Toronto. Formatting and image correction by George P. Landow. [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]
“Bringing in Christmas.” Illustrated London News (23 December 1843): 417.
Last modified 7 July 2011