The snow had been gently falling outside my little bookbinding studio, and on wintery-white days like this, one of my favorite things to do is to curl up next to the fire with a hot buttered rum and Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. This year is the 170th birthday of that fine work (first published on the 19th of December, 1843). Here are the opening pages of the first edition (click on the picture to see a larger version):
The charming illustration, by John Leech, is of the ball that Mr. Fezziwig gave for his employees, including young Scrooge. Here is a close-up:
At holiday festivities in those days, a variety of fortifying beverages might be served, including something called Purl (beer heated up, then mixed with gin, ginger an sugar). Which might account for the liveliness of Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig's country dancing.
At the end of A Christmas Carol, a newly reformed and convivial Scrooge invites Bob Cratchit to join him in making merry with a glass of "Smoking Bishop", an exciting-looking punch made with port, red wine, oranges, cinnamon cloves, and other spices. It's then heated or "mulled" before serving.
“A merry Christmas, Bob!” said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. “A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you, for many a year! I’ll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a
Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob!"