No. 583
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
November 29, 2022

Christmas in Bohemia.

December 24, 2013
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Fifteen-year-old Jody Randall of Long Beach, California, was in most ways a typical suburban teenager.  The one thing that set her apart was a passion for antiques which was unusual for someone of her youth.  As a result of spending all her available free time (and her parents’ money) on her hobby, she eventually amassed some impressive pieces, including a doll collection noteworthy enough to
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Strange Company - 11/28/2022
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Shell and Pea Game on the Trail"Sketched from life by M. W. Newberry"San Francisco ChronicleApril 10, 1898(Click image to enlarge)    UNKO MEN AND THEIR TRICKS      A wonderfully detailed description of the modus operandi of Soapy Smith's three shell and pea manipulators along the Chilkoot and White Pass trails. Witnessed and reported by Joseph D. Barry, and published in the San Francisco
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 11/21/2022
Working as a domestic servant in 19th century New York City had plenty of challenges. Sure, servants received room and board in addition to their wages, and they usually had at least Sunday afternoon off. But living in another family’s home was isolating and lonely—particularly if you didn’t speak English or weren’t accustomed to urban […]
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Ephemeral New York - 11/28/2022
On this date in 2002, Pakistani Mir Aimal Kansi, Kasi, or Qazi was executed by lethal injection in Virginia, U.S.A. “Real angry with the policy of the U.S. government in the Middle East, particularly toward the Palestinian people,”* Qazi on January 25, 1993 revenged himself on Central Intelligence Agency commuters queued for a left turn […]
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Executed Today - 11/14/2022
Museum of the City of New YorkWilliam Howe and Abraham Hummel were the most successful criminal lawyers in Gilded Age New York. With a combination of skill, showmanship, and unethical practices, they defended most of the city’s significant criminals and many of its murderers. Whether they won or lost, Howe and Hummel made every trial sensational. Here are a few of the many accused murderers
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Murder By Gaslight - 11/26/2022
Wishing you a happy and bountiful Thanksgiving Day! Lizzie is thankful for turkey and all the trimmings – and no mutton broth in sight!
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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 11/22/2022
An article I recently wrote for the British online magazine, New Politic, is now available online. The article, “The Criminal Origins of the United States of America,” is about British convict transportation to America, which took place between the years 1718 and 1775, and is the subject of my book, Bound with an Iron Chain: […]
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Early American Crime - 12/17/2021
Burglars on Bicycles. | Puck's Dude Champions.

Christmas in Bohemia.

Christmas in Bohemia.

Celebrations of the annual festival in which comfort and fun replace fashion and ceremony, and those who enjoy to-day leave to-morrow to take care of itself.

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Christmas in Bohemia.

The Revels of Genius in its Gay World Within a World.

There are a good many ways of celebrating Christmas and the world makes use of all of them. But from first to last there is no jollier way than the one which Bohemia enjoys Christianity’s great holiday.

There are grander ways, to be sure. The stately pageant with which royalty commemorates it, for instance, with thunder of guns and blare of trumpets; with the flash of jewels, the shimmer of imperial purple and discussion of a banquets under the shadows of flapping banners to the music of a court band. The church, too, has its special celebration, perfumed with the incense of sacrifice, and society does the occasion honor after its on stately and ceremonious fashion. But these are the hollowest of mockeries after all; ghost of that real, healthful enjoyment of a holiday which all the wealth of the world can not buy without the spirit of content to back it.

That enjoyment is found in Bohemia if it is found anywhere. There the revel runs most merrily, the tongue grows lighter and the airy nonsense of the social board sparkles in gems of wit that outshine the diamonds of the most splendid drawing-rooms. What reck they if the fest to-day is followed by fast to-morrow? Is not to-morrow a new day and did they not wonder yesterday where to-day’s feast was to come from? No shadow of the future darkens the Bohemian holiday. If such ever does rise in some graver brain it is resolutely bounced. The wind wails without and misery is buffeted by the storm, but we are warm and gay within and with good store of inner comfort for the present. Time enough to face the tempest when we are forced to; time enough to regret the past when we have no longer a future.

Thus, in studio and green-room, over the beer table and at the garret feast, the men and women who amuse the world sit down to wassail, casting their gay defiance into the face of a staid society which may frown on them for spurning its hollow creeds but can not darken the enjoyment of their holiday. Does society’s frown lighten at the sight of that haggard figure under the lighted window? Doubtless, for in that figure and many like it it sees its vengeance embodied, it sees Bohemia’s wrecks drifting upon the dark sea to which the present revelers close their eyes.


Reprinted from The National Police Gazette, December 31, 1881.