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Then forth, in frenzy, would they hie,
While wildly loose their red locks fly,
And, dancing round the blazing pile,
They make such barbarous mirth the while,
As best might to the mind recall
The boisterous joys of Odin's hall.
And well our Christian sires of old
Loved when the year its course had rolled,
And brought blithe Christmas back again,
With all his hospitable train;
Domestic and religious rite
Gave honours to the holy night;
On Christmas Eve the bells were rung;
On Christmas Eve the mass was sung ;
That only night, in all the year,
Saw the stoled priest the chalice rear ;
The damsel donned her kirtle sheen;
The hall was dressed with holly green;
Forth to the wood did merry men go
To gather in the mistletoe.
Then opened wide the baron’s hall
To vassal, tenant, serf, and all ;
Power laid his rod of rule aside,
And Ceremony dropped his pride.
The heir, with roses in his shoes,
That night might village partner choose ;
The lord, his pride forgotten, share
The vulgar game of “post and pair.”
All hailed, with uncontrolled delight,
And general voice, the happy night,
That to the cottage, as the crown,
Brought tidings of salvation down.
The fire, with well-dried logs supplied,
Went roaring up the chimney wide;
The huge hall-table's oaken face,
Scrubbed till it shone, the day to grace,
Bore then upon its massive board
No mark to part the squire and lord ;
Then was brought in the lusty brawn,
By old blue-coated serving-man;
Then the grim boar's head frowned on high,
Crested with bays and rosemary.
Well can the green-garbed ranger tell
How, when, and where the monster fell;
What dogs before his death he tore,
And all the baiting of the boar.
The wassel round in good brown bowls,
Garnished with ribbons, blithely trowls.
There the huge sirloin reeked, hard by
Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas pie;
Nor failed old Scotland to produce,
At such high tide, her savoury goose.
Then came the merry maskers in,
70 And carols roared with blithesome din If unmelodious was the
It was a hearty note, and strong.
Who lists may in their mumming see
Traces of ancient mystery ;
White shirts supplied the masquerade,
And smutted cheeks the visors made ;
But oh! what maskers richly dight
Can boast of bosoms half so light?
England was Merry England, when
80 Old Christmas brought his sports again. 'Twas Christmas broached the mightiest ale, 'Twas Christmas told the merriest tale, A Christmas gambol oft could cheer The poor man's heart through half the year. 85
THE CRUISE OF THE “DOLPHIN."-1,
Every Rivermouth boy looks upon the sea as being in some way mixed up with his destiny. While he is yet a baby lying in his cradle he hears the dull, far-off boom of the breakers; when he is older he wanders by the sandy shore, watching the waves that come plunging up the beach like white-maned sea-horses; his eye follows the lessening sail as it fades into the blue horizon, and he burns for the time when he shall stand on the quarter-deck of his own ship, and go sailing proudly across that mysterious waste of waters.
Then the town itself is full of hints and flavours of the sea. The gables and roofs of the houses facing eastward are covered with red rust, like the flukes of old anchors; a salty smell pervades the air, and dense grey