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my care is,
To worship ye, the Larès,
With crowns of greenest parsley,
And garlic chives not scarcely ;
For favours here to warm me,
And not by fire to harm me ;
For gladding so my hearth here
With inoffensive mirth here;
That while the Wassail bowl here
With North-down ale doth trowl here,
No syllable doth fall here,
To mar the mirth at all here.
For which, 0 chimney-keepers !
I dare not call ye sweepers,
So long as I am able
To keep a country table,
Great be my fare, or small cheer,
I'll eat and drink up all here.
ADDRESSED TO HIS FRIEND JOHN WICKES.
Next will I cause my hopeful lad,
If a wild apple can be had,
To crown the hearth;
Larr thus conspiring with our mirth ;
Then to infuse
Our browner ale into the cruise,
Which sweetly spiced, we'll first carouse Unto the genius of the house;
Then the next health to friends of mine,
Loving the brave Burgundian wine,
High sons of pith,
Whose fortunes I have frolicked with,
Such as could well
Bear up the magic bough and spell,
And dancing 'bout the mystic thyrse,
Give up the just applause to verse.
To those, and then again to thee
We'll drink, my Wickes; until we be
Plump as the cherry,
Though not so fresh, yet full as merry
As the cricket,
The untamed heifer, or the pricket ; *
Until our tongues shall tell our ears,
We're younger by a score
SENT TO SIR SIMEON STEWARD.
No news of navies burnt at seas:
No news of late-spawned titteries ;
No closet plot or open vent,
That frights men with a Parliament :
No new device or late-found trick,
To read by th' stars the kingdom's sick ;
No gin to catch the state, or wring
The free-born nostrils of the king,
We send to you; but here a jolly
Verse crowned with ivy and with holly ;
That tells of winter's tales and mirth,
That milk-maids make about the hearth,
Of Christmas sports, the Wassail bowl,
That's tossed up after Fox-i'th’hole ;
Of Blind-man’s-buff, and of the care
That young men have to shoe the mare ;
Of twelfth-tide cake, of peas and beans,
make those merry scenes, When as ye choose your king and queen, And cry out “ Hey for our town green.” Of ash-heaps, in the which ye use Husbands and wives by streaks to choose : Of crackling laurel, which fore-sounds A plenteous harvest to your grounds; Of these, and such like things, for shift, We send instead of new-year's gift. Read then, and when your faces shine With bucksome meat and cap’ring wine,
Remember us in cups full crowned,
And let our city health go round,
Quite through the young maids and the men,
To the ninth number, if not ten,
Until the fired chestnuts leap
For joy to see the fruits ye reap,
From the plump chalice and the cup
That tempts till it be tossèd up.
Then as ye sit about your embers,
Call not to mind those fled Decembers ;
But think on these, that are t appear,
As daughters to the instant year ;
Sit crowned with rose-buds, and carouse,
Till Liber Pater twirls the house
About your ears, and lay upon
' The year, your cares, that's fled and gone.
And let the russet swains the plough
And harrow hang up resting now;
And to the bag-pipe all address
Till sleep takes place of weariness.
And thus, throughout, with Christmas plays,
Frolic the full twelve holydays.
The following refers to a custom that prevailed in Devonshire, and other cider counties, of throwing the dregs of the Wassail-bowl, on the eve of twelfth-day, against the stems of the best bearing fruit trees. Further particulars respecting this singular practice are given in the next section.
WASSAIL the trees, that they may bear
You many a plum and many a pear ;
For more or less fruit they will bring,
As you do give them wassailing.
Tell us, thou clear and heavenly tongue,
Where is the Babe that lately sprung?
Lies he the lily-banks among ?
if this new Birth of ours
Sleeps, laid within some ark of flowers,
Spangled with dew-light? thou canst clear
All doubts, and manifest the where.
Declare to us, bright star, if we shall seek
Him in the morning's blushing cheek,
Or search the beds of spices through,
To find him out?
No, this ye need not do ;
But only come and see Him rest,
A Princely Babe, in 's mother's breast.
He's seen! He's seen! why then around,
Let's kiss the sweet and holy ground ;
And all rejoice that we have found
A King, before conception, crowned.
Come then, come then, and let us bring
Unto our pretty twelfth-tide King,
Each one his several offering.
And when night comes we'll give him wassailing ;
And that his treble honours may be seen,
We'll choose him King, and make his mother Qucen.