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village ; for I observed all his companions to wait with open mouths for his retorts, and burst into a gratuitous laugh before they could well understand them.

The whole house indeed seemed abandoned to merriment: as I passed to my room to dress for dinner, I heard the sound of music in a small court, and, looking through a window that commanded it, I perceived a band of wandering musicians, with pandean pipes and tambourine ; a pretty coquettish housemaid was dancing a jig with a smart country lad, while several of the other servants were looking on. In the midst of her sport the girl caught a glimpse of my face at the window, and, coloring up, ran off with an air of roguish affected cor fusion.


Lo, now is come our joyful'st feast!

Let every man be jolly,
Eache roome with yvie leaves is drest,

And every post with holly.
Now all our neighbours' chimneys smoke,

And Christmas blocks are burning;
Their ovens they with bak't meats choke,
And all their spits are turning,

Without the door let sorrow lie,
And if, for cold, it hap to die,
Wee 'le bury 't in a Christmas pye,
And evermore be merry.


HAD finished my toilet, and was loitering with Frank Bracebridge in the li

brary, when we heard a distant thwacking sound, which he informed me was a signal for the serving up of the dinner. The Squire kept up old customs in kitchen as well as hall; and the rolling-pin, struck upon the dresser by the cook, summoned the servants to carry in the meats.

6 Just in this nick the cook knock'd thrice,
And all the waiters in a trice

His summons did obey;
Each serving man, with dish in hand,
March'd boldly up, like our train band,

Presented, and away.' The dinner was served up in the great hall, where the Squire always held his Christmas ban

* Sir John Suckling.

quet. A blazing, crackling fire of logs had been heaped on to warm the spacious apartment, and the flame went sparkling and wreathing up the wide-mouthed chimney. The great picture of the crusader and his white horse had been profusely decorated with greens for the occasion ; and holly and ivy had likewise been wreathed round the helmet and weapons on the opposite wall, which I understood were the arms of the same warrior. I must own, by the by, I had strong doubts about the authenticity of the painting and armor as having belonged to the crusader, they certainly having the stamp of more recent days; but I was told that the painting had been so considered time out of mind; and that, as to the armor, it had been found in a lumber-room, and elevated to its present situation by the Squire, who at once determined it to be the armor of the family hero; and as he was absolute authority on all such subjects in his own household, the matter had passed into current acceptation. A sideboard was set out just under this chivalric trophy, on which was a display of plate that might have vied (at least in variety) with Belshazzar's parade of the vessels of the temple : “flagons, cans, cups, beakers, goblets, basins, and ewers ; the


utensils of good companionship that had gradually accumulated through many generations of jovial housekeepers. Before these stood the two Yule candles, beaming like two stars of the first magnitude ; other lights were distributed in branches, and the whole array glittered like a firmament of silver.

We were ushered into this banqueting scene


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with the sound of minstrelsy, the old harper being
seated on a stool beside the fireplace, and twanging
his instrument with a vast deal more power than
melody. Never did Christmas board display a
more goodly and gracious assemblage of counte-
nances; those who were not handsome were, at
least, happy; and happiness is a rare improver
of your hard-favored visage. I always consider
an old English family as well worth studying as
a collection of Holbein's portraits or Albert Dürer's
prints. There is much antiquarian lore to be
acquired; much knowledge of the physiognomies
of former times. Perhaps it may be from having
continually before their eyes those rows of old
family portraits, with which the mansions of this
country are stocked ; certain it is, that the quaint
features of antiquity are often most faithfully per-
petuated in these ancient lines ; and I have traced
an old family nose through a whole picture gallery,
legitimately handed down from generation to gen-
eration, almost from the time of the Conquest.
Something of the kind was to be observed in the
worthy company around me. Many of their faces
had evidently originated in a Gothic age, and been
merely copied by succeeding generations; and
there was one little girl in particular, of staid de-
meanor, with a high Roman nose, and an antique
vinegar aspect, who was a great favorite of the
Squire's, being, as he said, a Bracebridge all over,
and the very counterpart of one of his ancestors
who figured in the court of Henry VIII.


which was not a short familiar one, such as is commonly addressed to the

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Deity in these unceremonious days; but a long, courtly, well-worded one of the ancient school. There was now a pause, as if something was expected; when suddenly the butler entered the hall with some degree of bustle: he was attended by a servant on each side with a large wax-light, and bore a silver dish, on which was an enormous pig's head, decorated with rosemary, with a lemon in its mouth, which was placed with great formality at the head of the table. The moment this pageant made its appearance, the harper struck up a flourish ; at the conclusion of which the young Oxonian, on receiving a hint from the Squire, gave, with an air of the most comic gravity, an old carol, the first verse of which was as follows:

“ Caput apri defero

Reddens laudes Domino.
The boar's head in hand bring I,
With garlands gay and rosemary.
I pray you all synge merrily

Qui estis in convivio." Though prepared to witness many of these little eccentricities, from being apprised of the peculiar hobby of mine host, yet, I confess, the parade with which so odd a dish was introduced somewhat perplexed me, until I gathered from the conversation of the Squire and the parson, that it was meant to represent the bringing in of the boar's head : a dish formerly served up with much ceremony and the sound of minstrelsy and song, at great tables, on Christmas day. “I like the old custom,” said the Squire, “not merely because it is stately and pleasing in itself, but because it was observed at the college at Oxford at which I was educated. When

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