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( WINTER, ruler of the inverted year,
Thy scattered hair with sleet like ashes filled,
Thy breath congealed upon thy lips, thy cheeks
Fringed with a beard made white with other shows
Than those of age, thy forehead wrapped in clouds,
A leafless branch thy sceptre, and thy throne
A sliding car, indebted to no wheels,
But urged by storms along its slippery way,
I love thee, all unlovely as thou seem'st,
And dreaded as thou art! Thou hold'st the sun
A prisoner in the yet undawning east,
Shortening his journey between morn and noon,
And hurrying him, impatient of his stay,
Down to the rosy west; but kindly still
Compensating his loss with added hours
Of social converse and instructive case,
And gathering, at short notice, in one group,
The family dispersed, and fixing thought,
Not less dispersed by daylight and its cares.
I crown thee king of intimate delights,
Fireside enjoyments, homeborn happiness,
And all the comforts that the lowly roof
Of undisturbed retirement, and the hours
Of long uninterrupted evening know.
" Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go ;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
“Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
“ Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws."
CIIRISTMAS VERSES OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY.
FEW words will suffice by way of intro-
duction to the Christmas Poems of the
nineteenth century, as for the most part
these treat of customs and peculiarities
familiar to all. The picturesque cere-
monies and rude festivities that distin-
guished the Christmas of bygone times
have passed away, and, for ourselves, we
can regard the loss of them without regret.
We are too thankful to have lighted upon
a more civilized age, and to have escaped
all the troubles, dangers, and miseries
with which the good old times were so
thickly beset, to grieve overmuch for the
loss of even the better part of them. We
conceive that Queen Victoria can celebrate
her Christmas with her accustomed gra-
cious hospitality, without its being necessary for the Lord Chamberlain to
assume the character, and perform all the absurdities, of a Lord of Misrule.
And, although the office of poet-laureate has come to be regarded as in-
consistent with the spirit of the present age, yet it was an advantageous
change for the fooleries of a court-jester. We are well content, too,
that the Christmas pantomime, and an occasional Bal-Masquè, should be
the only existing remnants of the absurd Mummings of our ancestors.
The Yule log and the Wassail bowl are beyond revival, and even the
Christmas Carol is falling into desuetude. The practice of decking
churches and houses with evergreens is, perhaps, the most honoured of
all the old Christmas customs. The Boar's head still has a place in the
Christmas banquet at one of our colleges, and at the mansions of some
few of our nobility; yet, even this once favourite dish is very nigh dis-
placed by the formidable baron of beef. It is at Queen's College, Oxford, that the Boar's head is brought, on Christmas day, to the high table in the Hall, while an altered version of the Old Carol printed by Wynkin de Worde, is chaunted forth by a band of attendant choristers.
The following picturesque and oft-quoted description of Christmas in the olden time is from the introduction to the sixth canto of “Marmion."
CHRISTMAS IN THE OLDEN TIME.
HEAP on more wood !-the wind is chill;
But let it whistle as it will,
We'll keep our Christmas merry still.
Each age has deemed the new-born year
The fittest time for festal cheer.
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 honour 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 doffed his pride.
The heir, with roses in his shoes,
That night might village partner choose
The lord, underogating, 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 wassail round, in good brown bowls,
Garnished with ribbons, blithly 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 masquers in,
And carols roared with blithsome din;
If unmelodious was the song,
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, ()! what masquers, richly dight,
Can boast of bosoms half so light!
England was merry England, when
Old Christmas brought his sports again.
'T was Christmas broached the mightiest ale;
"T was Christmas told the merriest tale;
A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man's heart through half the year.