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THE VISIT OF ST. NICHOLAS.

289

XV.

THE VISIT OF ST. NICHOLAS.

Tore open

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring - not even a mouse :
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In the hope that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads,
And mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there rose such a clatter,
I sprang

from the bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash,

the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the luster of midday to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick !
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name :
“ Now, Dasher ! now, Dancer ! now,

Prancer ! now,

Vixen !
On, Comet! on, Cupid ! on, Dunder and Blixen !
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall !
Now, dash

all!”
As dry leaves, that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of toys — and St. Nicholas, too;
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack ;
His eyes, how they twinkled ! his dimples, how merry !
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry ;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow ;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath,

away,

away! dash

away! dash

He had a broad face, and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, - a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye, and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all his stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And, laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He

sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew like the down of a thistle ; But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

CLEMENT C. MOORE.

XVI. — BEAUTY, WIT, AND GOLD.
In a bower a widow dwelt;
At her feet three suitors knelt;
Each adored the widow much,
Each essayed her heart to touch ;
One had wit, and one had gold,
And one was cast in beauty's mould;
Guess which was it won the prize,
Purse, or tongue, or handsome eyes ?

First appeared the handsome man,
Proudly peeping o'er her fan ;
Red his lips, and white his skin,
Could such beauty fail to win ?
Then stepped forth the man of gold ;
Cash he counted, coin he told,
Wealth the burden of his tale,
Could such golden projects fail ?

Then the man of wit and sense
Wooed her with his eloquence.
Now she blushed, she knew not why;
Now a tear was in her eye;
Then she smiled, to hear him speak;
Then the tear was on her cheek;
Beauty, vanish! Gold, depart !
Wir has won the widow's heart !

MOORK.

THE RAZOR-SELLER.

291

XVII. — THE TIPPLER CONFOUNDED.
Out of the tavern I've just stepped to-night:
Street ! you are caught in a very bad plight:
Right hand and left hand are both out of place –
Street, you are drunk, 't is a very

clear case !
Moon, 't is a very queer figure you cut;
One eye is staring, while t other is shut.
Tipsy, I see; and you 're greatly to blame;
Old as you are, 't is a horrible shame!
Then the street-lamps, what a scandalous sight !
None of them soberly standing upright;
Rocking and staggering; why, on my word,
Each of the lamps is as drunk as a lord !
All is confusion :-

now, is n't it odd ?
I am the only thing sober abroad !
Sure it were rash with this crew to remain,-
Better go into the tavern again.

[blocks in formation]

A FELLOW, in a market-town, most musical, cried “Razors ! up and down, and offered twelve for eighteen-pence; which certainly seemed wondrous cheap, and, for the money, quite a heap, as every man should buy

with cash and sense. A country bumpkin the great offer heard : poor Hodge, who suffered by a thick, black beard, that seemed a shoe-brush stuck beneath his nose. With cheerfulness the eighteen-pence he paid, and proudly to himself, in whispers, said, “This rascal stole the razors,

I

suppose ! No matter if the fellow be a knave, provided that the razors shave! It sartinly will be a monstrous prize.” So, home the clown with his good fortune went, smiling — in heart and soul content — and quickly soaped himself to ears and eyes.

Being well lathered from a dish or tub, Hodge now began with grinning pain to grub, just like a hedger cutting furze. Twas a then the rest he tried. All were impostors.

" Ah!" Hodge sighed, " I wish my eighteen-pence were in my purse !"

In vain to chase his beard, and bring the graces, he cut, and dug, and winced, and stamped, and swore; brought blood, and danced, gaped, grinned, and made wry faces, and tried each razor's body o'er and o'er! His muzzle, formed of opposition

vile razor

stuff, erect and wiry, would not lose its ruff; so kept it — laughing at the steel and suds. Hodge, in a passion, stretched his angry jaws, vowing the direst vengeance, with clinched claws, on the vile cheat that sold the goods. “ Razors ! a vile confounded dog! Not fit to scrape a hog!”

Hodge sought the fellow — found him, and began — “Perhaps, Master Razor-rogue, to you 't is fun, that people flay themselves out of their lives. You rascal ! for an hour have I been grubbing, giving my scoundrel whiskers here a scrubbing, with razors just like oyster-knives. Sirrah! I tell you, you 're a knave, to cry up razors that can't shaye.”

Friend,” quoth the razor-merchant, “ I'm no knave. As for the razors you have bought, upon my word, I never thought that they would shave.” — “Not think they'd shave !” cried Hodge, with wondering eyes, and voice not much unlike an Indian yell. “What were they made for, then, you dog ?” he cries. “Made !" quoth the fellow, with a smile, — " to sell !

WOLCOTT (altered).

XIX. — THE DIRECTING POST.
In winter, once, an honest traveling wight
Pursued his road to Derby, late at night ;
’T was very cold, the wind was bleak and high,
And not a house nor living thing was nigh;
At length he came to where some four roads met,
It rained, too, and he was completely wet,
And, being doubtful which way he should take,
He drew up to the finger-post to make
It out - and after much of poring, fumbling,
Some angry oaths, and a great deal of grumbling,
'T was thus the words he traced “To Derby — five.”
“A goodly distance yet, as I'm alive!"
But on he drove a weary length of way,
And wished his journey he'd delayed till day:
He wondered that no town appeared in view,
The wind blew stronger, it rained faster, too,
When, to his great relief, he met a man :
“I say, good friend, pray

tell me, if

you can, How far is 't hence to Derby ?” Derby, hey! Why, zur, thee be’est completely come astray, This y’ant the road.” Why, zounds, the guide-post showed • To Derby, five,' — and pointed down this road ! "

ADDRESS TO AN EGYPTIAN MUMMY.

293

Ay, hang it, that may be, for you maun know, The post it war blown down last night, and so This morn I

put

it

up again, but whether — As I can't put great A and B together The post is right, I’m zure I can not zay : The town is just five miles the other way.ANON.

XX.

- ADDRESS TO AN EGYPTIAN MUMMY.

And thou hast walked about (how strange a story!)

In Thebes's streets three thousand years ago;
When the Memnonium was in all its glory,

And Time had not begun to overthrow
Those temples, palaces, and piles stupendous,
Of which the very ruins are tremendous.
Speak! for thou long enough hast acted dummy;
Thou hast a tongue,

come, let us hear its tune ; Thou ’rt standing on thy legs, above ground, Mummy!

Revisiting the glimpses of the moon,
Not like thin ghosts or disembodied creatures,
But with thy bones, and flesh, and limbs, and features.
Tell

us, for doubtless thou canst recollect,
To whom should we assign the Sphinx's fame ?
Was Cheops * or Ce-phre'nēs architect

Of either pyramid that bears his name?
Is Pompey's Pillar really a misnomer ?
Had Thebes a hundred gates, as sung by Homer ?
Perhaps thou wert a mason, and forbidden

By oath to tell the mysteries of thy trade ;
Then say what secret melody was hidden

In Memnon's statue, which at sunrise played ? Perhaps thou wert a priest, and hast been dealing In human blood, and horrors past revealing. Perchance that very hand, now pinioned flat,

Has hob-a-nobbed with Pharaoh, glass to glass ;
Or dropped a halfpenny in Homer's hat,

Or doffed thine own to let Queen Dido pass,
Or held, by Solomon's own invitation,
A torch at the great temple's dedication.

* The ch in this word has the sound of k.

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