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Merloun-House, Christmas.' HEAP
EAP 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
Fit time for festival and cheer:
E'en heathen yet, the savage Dane
At Iol more deep the mead did drain,
High on the beach his galleys drew,
And feasted all his pirate crew;
Then in his low and pine-built hall,
Where shields and axes decked the wall,
They gorged upon the half-dressed steer;
Caroused in seas of sable beer;
While round, in brutal jest, were thrown
The half-gnawed rib, and marrow-bone;
Or listened all, in grim delight,
While scalds yelled out the joys of fight.
Then forth, in frenzy, would they hie,
And wildly loose their red locks ily;
And dancing round the blazing pile,
They make such barbarous mirth the while;
As best might to the mind recall
The boisterous joys of Odin's hall.
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 misletoe,
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 ball-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; While round the merry wassel bowl, Garnished with ribbons, blithe did trowl. There the huge sirloin reeked; hard by Plumb-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 blithesome 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 cha the visors made; But, O! what masquers richly dight Can boast of bosoms half so light!
England was merry England, when
Old Christmas brought his sports again.
'Twas Christmas broached the mightiest ale;
'Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man's heart through half the year.
Still linger in our northern clime
Some remnants of the good old time;
And still, within our valleys here,
We hold the kindred title dear,
E’en when perchance its far-fetched claim
To Southron ear sounds empty name;
For course of blood, our proverbs deem,
Is warmer than the mountain-stream.*
And thus, my Christmas still I hold
Where my great-grandsire came of old;
With flaxen beard, and amber hair,
And reverend apostolic air
The feast and holy-tide to share,
And mix sobriety with wine,
And honest mirth with thoughts divine.
Small thought was his, in after time
E'er to be hitched into a rhyme.
The simple sire could only boast,
That he was loyal to his cost;
The banished race of Kings revered,
And lost his land,-but kept his beard.
* “Blood is warmer than water," -a proverb meant to vindicate our family predilections.
In these dear halls, where welcome kind
Bee with fair liberty combined;
Where cordial friendship gives the hand,
And flies constraint the magie wand
Of the fair dame that rules the land.
Little we heed the tempest drear,
While music, mirth, and social cheer,
Speed on their wings the passing year.
And Mertoun's halls are fair e'en now,
When not a leaf is on the bough.
I'weed loves them well, and turns again,
As loath to leave the sweet domain;
And holds his mirror to her face,
And clips her with a close embrace:-
Gladly as he, we seek the dome,
And as reluctant turn us home.
How just, that, at this time of glee,
My thoughts should, Heber, turn to thee!!
For many a merry hour we've known,
And heard the chimes of midnight's tone.
Cease, then, my friend ! a moment cease,
And leave these classic tomes in peace!
Of Roman and of Grecian lore,
Sure mortal brain can hold no more.
These ancients, as Noll Bluff might say,
Were" pretty fellows in their day,'
But time and tide o'er all prevail.
On Christmas eve a Christmas tale
* “ Hannibal was a pretty fellow, sir-a very pretty fellow in his day." Old Bachelor,