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What dogs before his death he tore,
And all the baiting of the boar.
The wassail round, in good brown bowls,
Garnished with ribbons, blithly trowls.
There the huge sirloin reeked; hard by
Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas pie;
Nor failed old Scotland to produce,
At such high tide, her savoury goose.
Then came the merry masquers in,
And carols roared with blithsome 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.
'T was Christmas broached the mightiest ale ;
'T was Christmas told the merriest tale;
A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man's heart through half the year.

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Wassail! wassail! Ye merry men, hail,

Who brightened the days of old ;
What brave conceits, and humoursome feats,

Are sung of our fathers bold.
From morning chime, unto vesper time,

They revelled in careless glee,
And danced at night with spirits as light

As the notes of their minstrelsy.

Wassail! wassail! At the knight's regale

"T was the signal for deep carouse, Nor there alone, for the joyous tone

Shook many a priestly house ;
The monks forgot their bachelor's lot,

Surrounded by goodly cheer,
And raised the cup, in its brim full up,

To the utter contempt of care.

Wassail! wassail! cried the yeoman hale,

As he shouldered his quarter-staff,
And homeward rode where the spiced ale stood

Awaiting his hearty quaff;
The cot meanwhile, lit up by the smile

Of a frank good-hearted mirth,
And free to all who might chance to call,

Was the happiest place on earth!

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HE Minstrels played their Christmas tune

To-night beneath my cottage eaves ; While, smitten by a lofty moon,

The encircling laurels, thick with leaves, Gave back a rich and dazzling sheen, That overpowered their natural green.

Through hill and valley every breeze

Had sunk to rest with folded wings : Keen was the air, but could not freeze,

Nor check the music of the strings; So stout and hardy were the band That scraped the chords with strenuous hand!



And who but listened ?-till was paid

Respect to every inmate's claim :
The greeting given, the music played,

In honour of each household name,
Duly pronounced with lusty call,
And“ merry Christmas” wished to all!

O brother! I revere the choice

That took thee from thy native hills; And it is given thee to rejoice:

Though public care full often tills (Heaven only witness of the toil) A barren and ungrateful soil.

Yet, would that Thou, with me and mine,

Hadst heard this never-failing rite;
And seen on other faces shine

A true revival of the light,
Which Nature and these rustic powers,
In simple childhood, spread through ours !

For pleasure hath not ceased to wait

On these expected annual rounds;
Whether the rich man's sumptuous gate

Call forth the unelaborate sounds,
Or they are offered at the door
That guards the lowliest of the poor.

How touching, when, at midnight, sweep

Snow-muffled winds, and all is dark, To hear—and sink again to sleep!

Or, at an earlier call, to mark, By blazing fire, the still suspense Of self-complacent innocence.

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