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TO

RICHARD HEBER, Esq.

Mertoun-House, Christmas. 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 deem'd the new-born year The fittest time for festal cheer :

Even, 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 deck'd the wall,

They gorged upon the half-dress'd steer ;
Caroused in seas of sable beer;
While round, in brutal jest, were thrown
The half-gnaw'd rib, and marrow-bone ;
Or listen'd all, in grim delight,
While scalds yelld out the joys of fight.
Then forth, in frenzy, would they hie,
While wildly loose their red locks fly,
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.

Aud well our Christian sires of old

Loved when the year its course had rollid,
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 donn'd her kirtle sheen ;
The hall was dress’d with holy green ;
Forth to the wood did merry-men go,
To gather in the misletoe.
Then open'd wide the Baron’s hall
To vassal, tenant, serf, and all ;
Power laid his rod of rule aside,
And Ceremony doff'd her pride.
The heir, with roses in his shoes,
That night might village partner chuse;
The lord, underogating, share
The vulgar game of “ post and pair."
All hail'd, with uncontrolld 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,
Scrubb’d till it shone, the day to grace,
Bore then upon its massive board
No marks 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 frown'd on high,
Crested with bays and rosemary.
Well can the green-garb'd ranger tell,
How, when, and where, the monster fell;
What dogs before his death he tore,
And all the baiting of the boar.
The wassel round, in good brown bowls,
Garnish'd with ribbons, blithely trowls.
There the huge sirloin reek'd; hard by
Plumb-porridge stood, and Christmas pye;
Nor fail'd old Scotland to produce,
At such high tide, her savoury goose.
Then came the merry masquers in,
And carols roar'd 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 cheeks 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 broach'd 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, Even when, perchance, its far-fetch'd claim To southern ear sounds empty name;

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