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YOUNG men and maidens now
At Feed the Dove (with laurel leaf in mouth),
Or Blindman's Buff, or Hunt the Slipper, play,
Replete with glee. Some, haply, cards adopt :
Or if to Forfeits they the sport confine,
The happy folk adjacent to the fire
Their stations take; excepting one alone
(Sometimes the social mistress of the house)
Who sits within the centre of the room,
To cry the pawns; much is the laughter now,
At such as can't the Christmas catch repeat,
And who, perchance, are sentenced to salute
The jetty beauties of the chimney back,
Or lady's shoe; others more lucky far,
By hap or favour meet a sweeter doom,
And on each fair one's lovely lips imprint
The ardent kiss.


FROM every hedge is plucked by eager hands
The holly branch, with prickly leaves replete,
And fraught with berries of a crimson hue;
Which, torn asunder from its parent trunk,

Is straightway taken to the neighbouring towns;
Where windows, mantles, candlesticks, and shelves,
Quarts, pints, decanters, pipkins, basins, jugs,
And other articles of household ware,

The verdant garb confess.



Now social friends their social friends invite
To share the feast and on the table 's placed
The famed sirloin, with puddings nicely baked,
Surcharged with plums, and from the oven hot;
Nor wanting are minced pies, in plenteous heaps,
T'augment the dainties of the brave repast.

Having disposed of the few poems belonging to this section, that we have succeeded in meeting with, written by acknowledged authors, we now proceed to introduce several of an anonymous character. Our first selection has been made from "Poor Robin's Almanack;" and, although these verses are of but a humble order of merit, they are still interesting, as exhibiting the particular features of the Christmas season during a considerable portion of the eighteenth century.


(From "Poor Robin's Almanack," 1709.)

How happy were those days so old,

When feasting did all twelve days hold;
When tables groaned with boiled and roast,

And key of buttery door was lost;
When cooks had hardly time to eat,

For serving up of others' meat;
When the old hall with gambols rung,

And merry carols they were sung;

While many tales and jests were saying;
Some were at Whisk and Cross Ruff playing,
Primevo, Gleek, Picquet, All Fours,

In harmless mirth they spent the hours;

Knaves out of Town who may not hurt ye,

And tom-fool's game called One and Thirty,
Winning and Losing, Loudum, Put,

Then Post and Pair, and next New Cut.*
Some were a shoeing the wild mare.

With other tricks that used were.

But those things now are laid aside,
The better to maintain our pride,
And Christmas scarcely should we know,
Did not the almanacks it show.


(From "Poor Robin's Almanack," 1711.)

Now Christmas day approaches near,
Trim up the house with holly,
And set abroach the strongest beer,
For neighbours to be jolly.
Let fanatics old customs blame,

Yet Christmas is a High day,

Though they will fast upon the same,
And feast upon Good Friday.

Good works are popishly inclined,
Say they that none will do,
Yet they for pride can money find,

And keep a coach also.

All the above were games with cards, and several among them will be recognised as popular at the present day.


Thus, that which should relieve the poor,
And feast them at this tide,

Is spent upon a coach and four,
To maintain foolish pride.

Yet some there are, although but few,
In whom more goodness lurks,
Who, to the poor will pity show,

And show their faith by works.

I wish, for one, that these were twain,
And knaves away all swept,

That honest Christians, once again,
With feasting may be kept.


(From "Poor Robin's Almanack,” 1715.)

Now Christmas comes, 't is fit that we
Should feast and sing, and merry be,
Keep open house, let fiddlers play,
A fig for cold, sing care away;
And may they, who thereat repine,
On brown bread and on small beer dine.

Make fires with logs, let the cooks sweat
With boiling and with roasting meat.
Your ovens heat for fresh supplies
Of puddings, pasties, and minced pies.
And, whilst that Christmas doth abide,
Let buttery door stand open wide.

Hang up those churls that will not feast,
Or, with good fellows be a guest ;
And hang up those who'd take away
The due observance of this day.

O, may they never minced pics eat,
Plum-pudding, roast beef, nor such meat.'

But blest be they, awake and sleep,
Who, at that time, good house do keep;
May never want come nigh their door,
Who, at that time, relieve the poor;

Be plenty always in their house

Of beef, veal, lamb, pork, mutton, souse.


(From "Poor Robin's Almanack,” 1724.)

Now after all our slaving, toiling,

In harvest or hot weather broiling,
This scorching weather's gone and past,
And shivering winter's come at last.
Good fires will now do very well,
For Christmas cheer begins to smell.
Those that in summer laboured hard,
Are for a Christmas storm prepared ;
And from their store are able now
To feast themselves, and neighbours too,
With pork and mutton, veal and beef,
Of country feasting these are chief ;
But those that yet would farther go,
May have a hollow bit or so,

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