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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 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 recal The boisterous joys of Odin's hall.
And 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 uncontroll’d 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,
The huge hall-table’s oaken face,
If unmelodious was the song,
Still linger, in our northern clime,