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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 viadicate our family predilections.
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 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,
Of wonder and of war—“Profane :
What! leave the lofty Latian strain,
Her stately prose, her verse's charms,
To hear the clash of rusty arms;
In Fairy Land or Limbo lost,
To jostle conjuror and ghost, -
Goblin and witch "–Nay, Heber dear,
Before you touch my charter, hear.
Though Leyden aids, alas! no more,
My cause with many-languaged lore,
This may I say:-in realms of death
Ulysses meets Alcides' wraith;
AEneas, upon Thracia's shore,
The ghost of murdered Polydore;
For omens, we in Livy cross,
At every turn, locutus Bos.
As grave and duly speaks that ox,
As if he told the price of stocks;
Or held, in Rome republican,
The place of common-councilman.
All nations have their omens drear,
Their legends wild of wo and fear.
To Cambria look—the peasant see,
Bethink him of Glendowerdy,
And shun “the spirit's blasted tree.”
The Highlander, whose red claymore
The battle turned on Maida's shore,
Will, on a Friday morn, look pale,
If asked to tell a fairy tale:
He fears the vengeful Elfin King, Who leaves that day his grassy ring; Invisible to human ken, He walks among the sons of men. Didst eer, dear Heber, pass along Beneath the towers of Franchemont, Which, like an eagle's nest in air, Hang o'er the stream and hamlet fair?— Deep in their vaults, the peasants say, A mighty treasure buried lay, Amassed through rapine and through wrong, By the last lord of Franchemont. The iron chest is bolted hard, A huntsman sits its constant guard; Around his neck his horn is hung, His hanger in his belt is slung; Before his feet his bloodhounds lie: An 'twere not for his gloomy eye, Whose withering glance no heart can brook, As true a huntsman doth he look, As bugle e'er in brake did sound, Or ever hallooed to a hound. To chase the fiend, and win the prize, In that same dungeon ever tries An aged Necromantic Priest; It is an hundred years at least, Since 'twixt them first the strife begun, And neither yet has lost or won. And oft the Conjuror's words will make The stubborn Demon groan and quake;
And oft the bands of iron break,
Or bursts one lock, that still amain,
Fast as 'tis opened, shuts again.
That magic strife within the tomb
May last until the day of doom,
Unless the Adept shall learn to tell
The very word that clenched the spell,
when Franch'mont locked the treasure cell.
An hundred years are past and gone,
And scarce three letters has he won.
Such general superstition may
Excuse for old Pitscottie say;
Whose gossip history has given
My song the messenger from heaven,
That warned, in Lithgow, Scotland's King,
Nor less the infernal summoning.
But why such instances to you,
Who, in an instant, can review
Your treasured hoards of various lore,
And furnish twenty thousand more ?
Hoards, not like theirs whose volumes rest
Like treasures in the Franch'mont chest;
While gripple owners still refuse
To others what they cannot use,
Give them the priest's whole century,
They shall not spell you letters three;
Their pleasure in the books the same
The magpie takes in pilfered gem.