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Such acts to chronicles I yield ;
Go seek them there, and see :
Mine is a tale of Flodden Field,
And not a history.-
At length they heard the Scottish host
On that high ridge had made their post,
Which frowns o’er Millfield Plain ;
And that brave Surrey many a band
Had gather'd in the Southern land,
And march'd into Northumberland,
And camp at Wooler ta’en.
Marmion, like charger in the stall,
That hears, without, the trumpet-call,
Began to chafe, and swear :
A sorry thing to hide my head
In castle, like a fearful maid,
When such a field is near !
Needs must I see this battle-day :
Death to my fame if such a fray
Were fought, and Marmion away!
The Douglas, too, I wot not why,
Hath 'bated of his courtesy :
No longer in his halls I'll stay.'
Then bade his band they should array
For march against the dawning day.
INTRODUCTION TO CANTO SIXTH.
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 lol 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 yell’d 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.
And well our Christian sires of old
Loved when the year its course had roll’d, 25
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 holly green;
Forth to the wood did merry-men go,
To gather in the mistletoe.
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 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 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 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 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
Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas pie :
Nor faild old Scotland to produce,
At such high tide, her savoury goose.
Then came the merry maskers in,
And carols roard 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 maskers, 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 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 amber beard, and flaxen 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 hitch'd into a rhyme.
The simple sire could only boast,
That he was loyal to his cost;
The banish'd race of kings revered,
And lost his land,--but kept his beard.
In these dear halls, where welcome kind
Is with fair liberty combined ;
Where cordial friendship gives the hand,
And flies constraint the magic 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.
Tweed loves them well, and turns again,
As loth 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-
Of wonder and of war-'Profane !
What! leave the lofty Latian strain,