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There the huge sirloin reeked; hard by
Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas pye;
Nor failed old Scotland to produce,
At such high-tide, her savory 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 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 broached the mightiest ale,
'Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;

A Christmas gambol oft would cheer

The poor man's heart through half the year."

The ceremonies, and superstitions, and sports of the Christmas season, are not only various in various places, but have varied from time to time in the same. Those of them which have their root in the festival itself, are, for the most part, common to all, and have dragged out a lingering existence even to our times. But there are many which, springing from other sources, have placed themselves under its protection, or, naturally enough, sought to associate themselves with merry spirits like their own. Old Father Christmas has had a great many children in his time, some of whom he has survived; and not only so, but in addition to his own lawful offspring, the generous old man has taken under his patronage, and adopted into his family, many who have no legitimate claim to that distinction, by any of the wives to whom he has been united-neither by the Roman lady, his lady of the Celtic family, nor her whom he took to his bosom, and converted from the idolatry of Thor. His family appears to have been, generally, far too numerous to be entertained, at one time, in the same establishment or indeed by the same community; and to have rarely travelled, therefore, in a body.

In Ben Jonson's Masque of Christmas,—to which we have

already alluded, the old gentleman is introduced, "attired in round hose, long stockings, a close doublet, a high-crowned hat, with a broach, a long thin beard, a truncheon, little ruffs, white shoes, his scarfs, and garters tied cross, and his drum beaten before him ;" and is accompanied by the following members of his fine family,-MISSRULE, CAROLL, MINCED-PIE, GAMBOLL, POST-AND-PAIR (since dead), NEW YEAR'S GIFT, MUMMING, WASSALL, OFFERING, and BABY CAKE,—or BABY COCKE, as we find him elsewhere called, but who, we fear, is dead too,—unless he may have changed his name, for we still find one of the family bearing some resemblance to the description of him given by Ben Jonson.

What a merry masque is this said masque of Christmas! The old man, like another magician, summons his spirits from the four winds, for a general muster. The purpose, we believe, is to take a review of their condition, and see if something cannot be done to amend their prospects. We are glad to see, amongst the foremost, as he ought to be, ROAST BEEF, that English "champion bold,"— who has driven the invader, hunger, from the land, in many a wellfought fray; and for his doughty deeds, was created a knight banneret on one of his own gallant fields, so long ago as King Charles's time. We suppose he is the same worthy who, in the Romish calendar appears canonized by the title of St. George,— where his great adversary, Famine, is represented under the figure of a dragon. Still following ROAST BEEF, as he has done for many a long year, we perceive his faithful 'squire (bottleholder, if you will), PLUM PUDDING, with his rich round face, and rosemary cockade. He is a blackamoor, and derives his extraction from the spice lands. His oriental properties have, however, received an English education, and taken an English form; and he has long ago been adopted into the family of Father Christmas. In his younger days, his name was "PLUM PORRIDGE," but since he grew up to be the substantial man he is, it has been changed into the one he now bears, as indicative of greater, consistency and strength. His master treats him like a brother! and he has, in return, done good service against the enemy, in many a hardfought field, cutting off all straggling detachments, or flying par

ties, from the main body, whom the great champion had previously routed. Both these individuals, we think, are looking as vigorous as they can ever have done in their lives;—and offer, in their well-maintained and portly personages, a strong presumption that they, at least, have at no time ceased to be favorite guests at the festivals of the land.

Near them stands, we rejoice to see, their favorite sister Wassail. She was of a slender figure, in Ben Jonson's day, and is so still. If the garb in which she appears has a somewhat antiquated appearance, there is a play of the lip and a twinkle of the eye, which prove that the glowing and joyous spirit which made our ancestors so merry "ages long ago," and helped them out with so many a pleasant fancy and quaint device, is not a day older than it was in the time of King Arthur. How should she grow old who bathes in such a bowl? It is her fount of perpetual youth! Why, even mortal hearts grow younger, and mortal spirits lighter, as they taste of its charmed waters. There it is, with its floating apples and hovering inspirations! We see, too, that the "tricksy spirit," whose head bears it (and that is more than every head could do), has lost none of his gambols; and that he is, still, on the best of terms with the Turkey who has been his play-fellow, at these holiday times, for so many years. The latter, we suppose, has just come up from Norfolk, where Father Christmas puts him to school; and the meeting on both sides seems to be of the most satisfactory kind.

MUMMING, also, we see, has obeyed the summons, although he looks as if he had come from a long distance, and did not go about much now. We fancy he has become something of a student. MISRULE too, we believe, has lost a good deal of his mercurial spirit, and finds his principal resource in old books. He has come to the muster, however, with a very long "feather in his cap," as if he considered the present summons portentous of good fortune. He looks as if he were not altogether without hopes of taking office again. We observe, with great satisfaction, that the Lord of Twelfth-night has survived the revolutions which have been fatal to the King of the Cockneys, and so many of his royal brethren; and that he is still, "every inch a king." Yonder he

comes, under a state-canopy of cake, and wearing yet his ancient crown. The lady whom we see advancing in the distance, we take to be ST. DISTAFF. She used to be a sad romp; but her merriest days, we fear, are over-for she is looking very like an old maid. Not far behind her, we fancy we can hear the clear voice of CAROLL singing, as he comes along, and, if our ears do not deceive us, the WAITS are coming up in another direction. The children are dropping in, on all sides.

But what is he that looks down from yonder pedestal, in the back-ground, upon the merry muster, with a double face?—and why, while the holly and the misletoe mingle with the white tresses that hang over the brow of the one, is the other hidden by a veil? The face on which we gaze is the face of an old man, and a not uncheerful old man ;- —a face marked by many a scar, -by the channels of tears that have been dried up, and the deep traces of sorrows passed away. Yet does it look placidly down, from beneath its crown of evergreens, on the joyous crew who are assembled, at the voice of Christmas. But what aspect hath that other face, which no man can see?—Why doth our flesh creep, and the blood curdle in our veins, as we gaze? What awful mystery doth that dark curtain hide ? What may be written on that covered brow,-that the old man dare not lift the veil, and show it to those laughing children? Much-much-much that might spoil the revels. Much that man might not know, and yet bear to abide. That twin-face is Janus-he who shuts the gates upon the old year, and opens those of the new-he who looks into the past and into the future, and catches the reflections of both, and has the tales of each written on his respective brows. For the past, it is known and has been suffered ;—and even at a season like this, we can pause to retrace the story of its joys and of its sorrows, as they are graven on that open forehead; and from that retrospect, glancing to the future for hope, can still turn to the present for enjoyment. But, oh! that veil, and its solemn enigmas !—On that other brow may be written some secret, which, putting out the light of hope, should add the darkness of the future to the darkness of the past; until, amid the gloom behind, the festal lamps of the season, looked on by eyes dim with our

own tears, should show as sad as tapers lighted up in the chamber of the dead. God, in mercy, keep down that veil !

"Such foresight who, on earth, would crave,
Where knowledge is not power to save?"

It will be our business to introduce to our readers each of the children of old Christmas, as they come up, in obedience to the summons of their father;-reserving to ourselves the right of settling the order of their precedence :—and we will endeavor to give some account of the part which each played of old, in the revelries of the season peculiarly their own, and of the sad changes which time has made, in the natural constitutions or animal spirits of some of them. Preparatory, however, to this, we must endeavor to give a rapid glance at the causes which contributed to the decay of a festival so ancient and universal and uproarious as that which we have described; and brought into the old man's family that disease to which some of them have already fallen victims, and which threatens others with an untimely extinction.

We have already shown that, so early as the reign of Elizabeth, the puritans had begun to lift up their testimony against the pageantries of the Christmas-tide; and the Lord of Misrule, even in that day of his potential ascendency, was described as little better than the great Enemy of Souls himself. Our friend Stubs (whose denunciations were directed against all amusements which, from long usage and established repetition, had assumed anything like a form of ceremonial,—and who is quite as angry with those who " goe some to the woodes and groves, and some to the hilles and mountaines . ... where they spende all the night in pastymes, and in the mornyng they return, bringing with them birch bowes and braunches of trees, to deck their assemblies withall," in the sweet month of May, as he could possibly be with the Christmas revellers, although the very language in which he is obliged to state the charge against the former was enough to tempt people out "a Maying," and might almost have converted himself) assures the reader of his "Anatomie," that all who contribute "to the maintenaunce of these execrable pastymes " do neither more nor less than "offer sacrifice to the devill and Satha

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