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YouxG men and maidens now
At Feed the Dove (with laurel leaf in mouth),
Or Blindman's Buff, or Hunt the Slipper, play,
Replete with glee. Some, haply, cards adopt:
Or if to Forfeits they the sport confine,
The happy folk adjacent to the fire
Their stations take ; excepting one alone
(Sometimes the social mistress of the house)
Who sits within the centre of the room,
cry the pawns; much is the laughter now,
At such as can't the Christmas catch repeat,
And who, perchance, are sentenced to salute
The jetty beauties of the chimney back,
Or lady's shoe; others more lucky far,
By hap or favour meet a sweeter doom,
And on each fair one's lovely lips imprint
The ardent kiss.
EVERGREEN-DECKING AT CHRISTMAS.
From every hedge is plucked by eager hands
The holly branch, with prickly leaves replete,
And fraught with berries of a crimson hue;
Which, torn asunder from its parent trunk,
Is straightway taken to the neighbouring towns;
Where windows, mantles, candlesticks, and shelves,
Quarts, pints, decanters, pipkins, basins, jugs,
And other articles of household ware,
The verdant garb confess.
THE CHRISTMAS FEAST. —THE GOOD OLD TIMES.
Now social friends their social friends invite
To share the feast : and on the table 's placed
The famed sirloin, with puddings nicely baked,
Surcharged with plums, and from the oven hot;
Nor wanting are minced pies, in plenteous heaps,
T'augment the dainties of the brave repast.
Having disposed of the few poems belonging to this section, that we have succeeded in meeting with, written by acknowledged authors, we now proceed to introduce several of an anonymous character. Our first selection has been made from “ Poor Robin's Almanack;" and, although these verses are of but a humble order of merit, they are still interesting, as exhibiting the particular features of the Christmas season during a considerable portion of the eighteenth century.
(From “Poor Robin's Almanack," 1709.)
Ilow happy were those days so old,
When feasting did all twelve days hold;
When tables groaned with boiled and roast,
And key of buttery door was lost;
When cooks had hardly time to eat,
For serving up of others' meat;
When the old hall with gambols rung,
And merry carols they were sung ;
many tales and jests were saying ;
Some were at Whisk and Cross Ruff playing,
Primevo, Gleek, Picquet, All Fours,
In harmless mirth they spent the hours ;
Knaves out of Town who may not hurt ye,
And tom-fool's game called One and Thirty,
Winning and Losing, Loudum, Put,
Then Post and Pair, and next New Cut.*
Some were a shoeing the wild mare.
With other tricks that used were.
But those things now are laid aside,
The better to maintain our pride,
And Christmas scarcely should we know,
Did not the almanacks it show.
(From "Poor Robin's Almanack," 1711.)
Now Christmas day approaches near,
Trim up the house with holly, And set abroach the strongest beer,
For neighbours to be jolly. Let fanatics old customs blame,
Yet Christmas is a High day, Though they will fast upon the same,
And feast upon Good Friday.
Good works are popishly inclined,
Say they that none will do, Yet they for pride can money find,
And keep a coach also.
AX INVITATION TO HOSPITALITY.
Thus, that which should relieve the poor,
And feast them at this tide, Is spent upon a coach and four,
To maintain foolish pride.
Hang up those churls that will not feast,
Or, with good fellows be a guest;
And hang up those who'd take away
The due observance of this day.
0, may they never minced pies eat,
Plum-pudding, roast beef, nor such meat.'
But blest be they, awake and sleep,
Who, at that time, good house do keep;
May never want conie nigh their door,
Who, at that time, relieve the poor ;
Be plenty always in their house
Of beef, veal, lamb, pork, mutton, souse.
SUMMER TOIL AND WINTER CHEER.
(From “ Poor Robin's Almanack," 1724.)
Now after all our slaving, toiling,
In harvest or hot weather broiling,
This scorching weather’s gone and past,
And shivering winter's come at last.
Good fires will now do very well,
For Christmas cheer begins to smell.
Those that in summer laboured hard,
Are for a Christmas storm prepared ;
And from their store are able now
To feast themselves, and neighbours too,
With pork and mutton, veal and beef,
Of country feasting these are chicf;
But those that vet would farther go,
May have a hollow bit or so,