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Title: Christmas - Its Origin, Celebration and Significance as Related in Prose and Verse
Author: Schauffler, Robert Haven, 1879-1964 [Editor]
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Our American Holidays

Edited by

Robert Haven Schauffler

and Others

A series of anthologies for the use of students and teachers in schools
and colleges; consisting of the best verse, plays, stories, addresses,
special articles, orations, etc. Applicable to the holidays listed as
follows:

    CHRISTMAS.........................._December 25th_
    DEMOCRACY DAYS....................................
    EASTER............................_March or April_
    GOOD WILL DAYS....................................
    HALLOWE'EN.........................._October 31st_
    INDEPENDENCE DAY........................_July 4th_
    LINCOLN'S BIRTHDAY................._February 12th_
    THE MAGIC OF BOOKS....................._Book Week_
    THE MAGIC OF MUSIC...................._Music Week_
    MEMORIAL DAY............................_May 30th_
    MOTHER'S DAY................_Second Sunday in May_
    PAN-AMERICAN DAY......................_April 14th_
    PEACE DAYS........................................
    ROOSEVELT DAY......................._October 27th_
    THANKSGIVING..........._Last Thursday in November_
    WASHINGTON'S BIRTHDAY.............._February 22nd_


       *       *       *       *       *


Our American Holidays

CHRISTMAS

Its Origin, Celebration and Significance As Related in Prose and Verse

Edited by

ROBERT HAVEN SCHAUFFLER



[Illustration]



New York
Dodd, Mead and Company
1968

       *       *       *       *       *

Copyright 1907 by
Dodd, Mead & Company

       *       *       *       *       *



CONTENTS


Preface

Introduction

    I
    ORIGIN

    Is There a Santa Claus?............... _F.P. Church_
    O Little Town of Bethlehem............ _Phillips Brooks_
    The Glad Evangel...................... _Kate Douglas Wiggin_
    The Shepherds......................... _William Drummond_
    A Christmas Carol..................... _James Russell Lowell_
    A Christmas Hymn...................... _Alfred Domett_
    Sons of the Morning................... _Reginald Heber_
    God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen.......... _Dinah Maria Mulock_
    The Christmas Silence................. _Margaret Deland_
    A Christmas Lullaby................... _John Addington Symonds_
    Hymn for the Nativity................. _Edward Thring_
    Masters in this Hall................... _Anonymous_
    The Adoration of the Wise Men......... _Cecil Frances Alexander_
    The Shepherds in Judea................ _Mary Austin_
    Christmas Carol....................... _James S. Park_
    Neighbors of the Christ Night......... _Nora Archibald Smith_
    Cradle Hymn........................... _Isaac Watts_
    An Ode on the Birth of Our Saviour.... _Robert Herrick_
    Christmas Song........................ _Edmund Hamilton Sears_
    A Hymn on the Nativity of My Saviour.. _Ben Jonson_
    The Shepherd's Song................... _Edmund Bolton_
    A Christmas Carol..................... _Aubrey de Vere_
    A Christmas Hymn...................... _Anon_
    Christmas Day......................... _Charles Wesley_
    Christmas............................. _Anonymous_
    Christmas............................. _Nahum Tate_
    "While Shepherds Watched
       Their Flocks by Night"............. _Margaret Deland_
    Colonial Christmases.................. _Alice Morse Earle_
    The Angels............................ _William Drummond_
    Hymn for Christmas.................... _Felicia Hemans_
    New Prince, New Pomp.................. _Robert Southwell_
    The Three Kings....................... _Henry Wadsworth Longfellow_
    Hymn on the Nativity.................. _John Milton_

    II
    CELEBRATION

    Christmas Eve at Mr. Wardle's......... _Charles Dickens_
    A Visit from St. Nicholas............. _Clement C. Moore_
    A Christmas Piece..................... _Fred S. Cozzens_
    Wassailer's Song...................... _Robert Southwell_
    Christmas Eve......................... _Hamilton Wright Mabie_
    Christmas In The Olden Time........... _Walter Scott_
    Sly Santa Claus....................... _Mrs. C.S. Stone_
    The Waits............................. _Margaret Deland_
    The Knighting of the Sirloin.......... _Anonymous_
    The Christmas Goose at the Cratchits'. _Charles Dickens_
    God Bless Us Every One................ _James Whitcomb Riley_
    Bells Across the Snow................. _Frances Ridley Havergal_
    Christmas Bells....................... _Henry Wadsworth Longfellow_
    Minstrels and Maids................... _William Morris_
    Inexhaustibility of the
      Subject of Christmas................ _Leigh Hunt_
    Song of the Holly..................... _William Shakespeare_
    Under the Holly-Bough................. _Charles Mackay_
    Ceremonies for Christmas.............. _Robert Herrick_
    Santa Claus........................... _Anonymous_
    The Ceremonies for Christmas Day...... _Robert Herrick_
    December.............................. _Harriet F. Blodgett_
    The Festival of St. Nicholas.......... _Mary Mapes Dodge_
    The Christmas Holly................... _Eliza Cook_
    To the Fir-Tree....................... _From the German_
    The Mahogany-Tree..................... _William Makepeace Thackeray_
    Christmas............................. _Washington Irving_
    Church Decking at Christmas........... _William Wordsworth_
    So, Now is Come Our Joyful'st Feast... _George Wither_
    Fairy Faces........................... _Anonymous_
    Merry Christmas....................... _Anonymous_
    A Merry Christmas to You.............. _Theodore Ledyard Cuyler_
    Christmas Bells....................... _Anonymous_
    The Birth of Christ................... _Alfred Tennyson_
    The Christmas Carol................... _William Wordsworth_
    Christmas at Fezziwig's Warehouse..... _Charles Dickens_
    Christmas Bells....................... _John Keble_

    III
    SIGNIFICANCE AND SPIRIT

    A Christmas Carmen.................... _John G. Whittier_
    The Spirit Of Christmas............... _Charles Dickens_
    On Good Wishes at Christmas........... _Friswell_
    A Christmas Song...................... _William Cox Bennett_
    Sery.................................. _Richard Watson Gilder_
    A Christmas Song...................... _Tudor Jenks_
    Christmas............................. _Alexander Smith_
    Christmas Carol....................... _Phillips Brooks_
    The End of the Play................... _William Makepeace Thackeray_
    Christ's Nativity..................... _Henry Vaughan_
    Christmas Dreams...................... _Christopher North_
    Keeping Christmas..................... _Henry Van Dyke_
    Mark Well My Heavy, Doleful Tale...... _Anonymous_
    A Christmas Carol..................... _Christina G. Rossetti_
    The Glorious Song of Old.............. _Edmund H. Sears_
    A Christmas Carol for Children........ _Martin Luther_
    On Santa Claus........................ _George A. Baker, Jr._
    A Christmas Carol..................... _Josiah Gilbert Holland_
    An Offertory.......................... _Mary Mapes Dodge_
    Christmas Song........................ _Lydia A.C. Ward_
    A Christmas Carol..................... _Christian Burke_
    A Simple Bill of Fare
      for a Christmas Dinner.............. _H.H._
    A Ballade of Old Loves................ _Carolyn Wells_
    Ballade of Christmas Ghosts........... _Andrew Lang_
    Hang Up the Baby's Stocking........... [Emily Huntington Miller]
    The Newest Thing in Christmas Carols.. _Anonymous_
    A Christmas Letter from Australia..... _Douglas Sladen_
    Christmas............................. _Rose Terry Cooke_

    IV
    STORIES

    The Fir Tree.......................... _Hans Christian Andersen_
    Little Roger's Night in the Church.... _Susan Coolidge_
    Mr. Bluff's Experiences of Holidays... _Oliver Bell Bunce_
    Santa Claus at Simpson's Bar.......... _Bret Harte_

    V
    OLD CAROLS AND EXERCISES

    God Rest You, Merry Gentlemen
    Old Christmas Returned
    Christmas Carol
    In Excelsis Gloria
    The Boar's Head Carol
    Christmas Carol


    ADDITIONAL PIECES

    A Christmas Insurrection.............. _Anne P.L. Field_
    The Night After Christmas............. _Anne P.L. Field_
    When the Stars of Morning Sang........ _Anne P.L. Field_
    A Prayer at Bethlehem................. _Anne P.L. Field_
    The Christmas Fires................... _Anne P.L. Field_
    The Mother (A Story).................. _Robert Haven Schauffler_



NOTE

The Publishers desire to acknowledge the kindness of Messrs. Charles
Scribner's Sons; Houghton, Mifflin and Company; Little, Brown and
Company; Dodd, Mead and Company; Bobbs-Merrill Company and others, who
have granted us permission to reproduce selections from works bearing
their copyright.



PREFACE

Christmas is our most important holiday, and its literature is
correspondingly rich. Yet until now no adequate bundle of Christmas
treasures in poetry and prose has found its way into the library of
Santa Claus.

While this book brings to children of all ages, in school and at home,
the best lyrics, carols, essays, plays and stories of Christmas, its
scope is yet wider. For the Introduction gives a rapid view of the
holiday's origin and development, its relation to cognate pagan
festivals, the customs and symbols of its observance in different lands,
and the significance and spirit of the day. This Introduction endeavors
to be as suggestive as possible to parents and teachers who are
personally conducted and introduced to the host of writers learned and
quaint, human and pedantic, humorous and brilliant and profound, who
have dealt technically with this fascinating subject.



INTRODUCTION

It was the habit of him whose birthday we celebrate to take what was
good in men and remould it to higher uses. And so it is peculiarly
fitting that the anniversary of Christmas, when it was first celebrated
in the second century of our era should have taken from heathen
mythology and customs the more beautiful parts for its own use.
"Christmas," says Dean Stanley, "brings before us the relations of the
Christian religion to the religions which went before; for the birth at
Bethlehem was itself a link with the past."

The pagan nations of antiquity[A] always had a tendency to worship the
sun, under different names, as the giver of light and life. And their
festivals in its honor took place near the winter solstice, the shortest
day in the year, when the sun in December begins its upward course,
thrilling men with the first distant promise of spring. This holiday was
called _Saturnalia_ among the Romans and was marked by great merriment
and licence which extended even to the slaves. There were feasting and
gifts and the houses were hung with evergreens. A more barbarous form of
these rejoicings took place among the rude peoples of the north where
great blocks of wood blazed in honor of Odin and Thor, and sacrifices of
men and cattle were made to them. Mistletoe was cut then from the sacred
oaks with a golden sickle by the Prince of the Druids, between whom and
the Fire-Worshippers of Persia there was an affinity both in character
and customs.

[Footnote A: An account of the early history of Christmas may be found
in Chamber's Book of Days.]

The ancient Goths and Saxons called this festival Yule, which is
preserved to us in the Scottish word for Christmas and also in the name
of the Yule Log. The ancient Teutons celebrated the season by decking a
fir tree, for they thought of the sun, riding higher and higher in the
heavens, as the spreading and blossoming of a great tree. Thus our own
Christmas fir was decked as a symbol of the celestial sun tree. The
lights, according to Professor Schwartz, represent the flashes of
lightning overhead, the golden apples, nuts and balls symbolize the sun,
the moon and the stars, while the little animals hung in the branches
betoken sacrifices made in gratitude to the sun god.[B]

[Footnote B: A delightful account of the origin of the Christmas tree
may be found in Elise Traut's Christmas in Heart and Home.]

As Christianity replaced paganism, the Christians, in the tolerant
spirit of their Master, adopted these beautiful old usages, merely
changing their spirit. So that the Lord of Misrule who long presided
over the Christmas games of Christian England was the direct descendant
of the ruler who was appointed, with considerable prerogatives, to
preside over the sports of the Saturnalia. In this connection the narrow
Puritan author of the "Histrio-Mastix" laments: "If we compare our
Bacchanalian Christmasses with these Saturnalia, we shall find such a
near affinitye between them, both in regard to time and in manner of
solemnizing, that we must needs conclude the one to be but the very
issue of the other."

"Merrie old England," writes Walsh,[C] "was the soil in which Merrie
Christmas took its firmest root." Even in Anglo-Saxon days we hear of
Alfred holding high revelry in December, 878, so that he allowed the
Danes to surprise him, cut his army to pieces and send him a fugitive.
The court revelries increased in splendor after the conquest. Christmas,
it must be remembered was not then a single day of sport. It had the
preliminary novena which began December 16, and it ended on January 6,
or Twelfth Night. All this period was devoted to holiday making.

[Footnote C: Curiosities of Popular Customs.]

It was a democratic festival. All classes mixed in its merry-makings.
Hospitality was universal. An English country gentleman of the fifteenth
and sixteenth centuries held open house. With daybreak on Christmas
morning the tenants and neighbors thronged into the hall. The ale was
broached. Blackjacks and Cheshire cheese, with toast and sugar and
nutmeg, went plentifully round. The Hackin, or great sausage, must be
boiled at daybreak, and if it failed to be ready two young men took the
cook by the arm and ran her around the market-place till she was ashamed
of her laziness.

With the rise of Puritanism the very existence of Christmas was
threatened. Even the harmless good cheer of that season was looked upon
as pagan, or, what was worse, Popish. 'Into what a stupendous _height_
of more than pagan impiety,' cried Prynne (...) 'have we not now
_degenerated!_' Prynne's rhetoric, it will be seen, is not without an
unconscious charm of humor. He complained that the England of his day
could not celebrate Christmas or any other festival 'without drinking,
roaring, healthing, dicing, carding, dancing, masques and stage-plays
(...) which Turkes and Infidels would abhor to practise.'

Puritanism brought over with it in the Mayflower the anti-Christmas
feeling to New England. So early as 1621 Governor Bradford was called
upon to administer a rebuke to 'certain lusty yonge men' who had just
come over in the little ship Fortune. 'On ye day called Christmas day,'
says William Bradford, 'ye Gov^r caled them out to worke (as was used),
but ye most of this new company excused themselves and said it went
against their consciences to worke on ye day. So ye Gov^r tould them
that if they made it matter of conscience, he would spare them till they
were better informed. So he led away ye rest, and left them; but when
they came home at noone from their worke, he found them in ye streete at
play, openly: some pitching ye barr, and some at stoole-ball and such
like sports. So he went to them and tooke away their implements, and
tould them that it was against his conscience that they should play and
others worke. If they made ye keeping of it matter of devotion, let them
kepe their houses, but ther should be no gameing or revelling in ye
streets. Since which time nothing hath been attempted that way, at least
openly.'

In England the feeling culminated in 1643, when the Roundhead Parliament
abolished the observance of saints' days and "the three grand festivals"
of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide, "any law, statute, custom,
constitution, or canon to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding." The
king protested. But he was answered. In London, nevertheless, there was
an alarming disposition to observe Christmas. The mob attacked those who
by opening their shops flouted the holiday. In several counties the
disorder was threatening. But Parliament adopted strong measures, and
during the twelve years in which the great festivals were
discountenanced there was no further tumult, and the observance of
Christmas as a general holiday ceased.

The General Court of Massachusetts followed the example of the English
Parliament in 1659 when it enacted that 'anybody who is found observing,
by abstinence from labor, feasting, or any other way, any such day as
Christmas day, shall pay for every such offense five shillings.'

The restoration of English royalty brought about the restoration of the
English Christmas. It was not till 1681, however, that Massachusetts
repealed the ordinance of 1659. But the repeal was bitter to old
Puritanism, which kept up an ever attenuating protest even down to the
early part of the present century.

There are many superstitions connected with the coming of Christmas
itself. The bees are said to sing, the cattle to kneel, in honor of the
manger, and the sheep to go in procession in commemoration of the visit
of the angel to the shepherds.

Howison in his "Sketches of Upper Canada" relates that on one moonlit
Christmas Eve he saw an Indian creeping cautiously through the woods. In
response to an inquiry, he said. 'Me watch to see deer kneel. Christmas
night all deer kneel and look up to Great Spirit.'

In the German Alps it is believed that the cattle have the gift of
language on Christmas Eve. But it is a sin to attempt to play the
eavesdropper upon them. An Alpine story is told of a farmer's servant
who did not believe that the cattle could speak, and, to make sure, he
hid in his master's stable on Christmas Eve and listened. When the clock
struck twelve he was surprised at what he heard. 'We shall have hard
work to do this day week,' said one horse. 'Yes; the farmer's servant is
heavy,' answered the other horse. 'And the way to the churchyard is long
and steep,' said the first. The servant was buried that day week.

There is a beautiful superstition about the cock that Shakespeare put
into the mouth of Marcellus, in _Hamlet_--

    "Some say, that ever 'gainst that season comes
    Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
    The bird of dawning singeth all night long:
    And then, they say, no spirit can walk abroad;
    The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
    No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm;
    So hallow'd and so gracious is the time."

No other holiday has so rich an heritage of old customs and observances
as Christmas. The Yule Log has from time immemorial been haled to the
open fire-place on Christmas Eve, and lighted with the embers of its
predecessor to sanctify the roof-tree and protect it against those evil
spirits over whom the season is in everyway a triumph. Then the wassail
bowl full of swimming roasted apples, goes its merry round. Then the
gift-shadowing Christmas tree sheds its divine brilliance down the path
of the coming year; or stockings are hung for Santa Claus (St. Nicholas)
to fill during the night. Then the mistletoe becomes a precarious
shelter for maids, and the Waits--descendants of the minstrels of
old--go through the snow from door to door, singing their mellow old
carols, while masquerades and the merry Christmas game of Snapdragon are
not forgotten.[D]

[Footnote D: An exhaustive study of the history and customs of Christmas
has been made by W.F. Dawson in "Christmas and its Associations."]

Even the Christmas dinner has its special observances. In many an
English hall the stately custom still survives of bearing in a boar's
head to inaugurate the meal, as a reminder of the student of Queens
College, Oxford, who, attacked by a boar on Christmas day, choked him
with a copy of Aristotle and took his head back for dinner. The mince
pie, sacred to the occasion, is supposed to commemorate in its mixture
of oriental ingredients the offerings made by the wise men of the East.
As for turkey and plum pudding, they have a deep significance, but it is
clearer to the palate than to the brain.

Elise Traut relates the legend that on every Christmas eve the little
Christ-child wanders all over the world bearing on its shoulders a
bundle of evergreens. Through city streets and country lanes, up and
down hill, to proudest castle and lowliest hovel, through cold and storm
and sleet and ice, this holy child travels, to be welcomed or rejected
at the doors at which he pleads for succor. Those who would invite him
and long for his coming set a lighted candle in the window to guide him
on his way hither. They also believe that he comes to them in the guise
of any alms-craving, wandering person who knocks humbly at their doors
for sustenance, thus testing their benevolence. In many places the aid
rendered the beggar is looked upon as hospitality shown to Christ.

This legend embodies the true Christmas spirit which realizes, with a
rush of love to the heart, the divinity in every one of "the least of
these" our brethren. Selfishness is rebuked, the feeling of universal
brotherhood is fostered, while the length of this holiday season by
encouraging the reunion of families and of friends, provides a wonderful
rallying place for early affections. A wholesome and joyous current of
religious feeling flows through the entire season to temper its
extravagance and regulate its mirth.

"Under the sanctions of religion," writes Hervey,[E] "the covenants of
the heart are renewed.... The lovers of Earth seem to have met
together."

[Footnote E: For a beautiful and extended discussion of the significance
of the day, see Hervey's "The Book of Christmas."]

Christmas is the birthday of one whose chief contribution to the human
heart and mind was his message of boundless, universal love, He brought
to the world the greatest thing in the world and that is why the season
of his birth has won such an intimate place in our hearts and why its
jubilant bells find this echo there:

    "Ring out the old, ring in the new,
      Ring, happy bells, across the snow;
      The year is going, let him go;
    Ring out the false, ring in the true.

    "Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
      For those that here we see no more;
      Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
    Ring in redress to all mankind.

    "Ring out a slowly dying cause,
      And ancient forms of party strife;
      Ring in the nobler modes of life,
    With sweeter manners, purer laws.

    "Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
      The faithless coldness of the times;
      Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
    But ring the fuller minstrel in.

    "Ring out false pride in place and blood,
      The civic slander and the spite;
      Ring in the love of truth and right,
    Ring in the common love of good.

    "Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
      Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
      Ring out the thousand wars of old,
    Ring in the thousand years of peace.

    "Ring in the valiant man and free,
      The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
      Ring out the darkness of the land,
    Ring in the Christ that is to be."

                                   R.H.S.



I

ORIGIN



IS THERE A SANTA CLAUS?

_The following, reprinted from the editorial page of the New York Sun,
was written by the late Mr. Frank P. Church:_


We take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently the
communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification
that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of _The Sun_:

    Dear Editor: I am 8 years old.
    Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
    Papa says "If you see it in _The Sun_ it's so."
    Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
                                               Virginia O'Hanlon.

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the
scepticism of a sceptical age. They do not believe except they see. They
think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little
minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are
little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in
his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as
measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and
knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love
and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and
give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be
the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if
there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no
poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no
enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which
childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies!
You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on
Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa
Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but
that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in
the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever
see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that
they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there
are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise
inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the
strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men
that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love,
romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal
beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world
there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand
years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he
will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

       *       *       *       *       *

    O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM

    PHILLIPS BROOKS

    O little town of Bethlehem,
      How still we see thee lie!
    Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
      The silent stars go by;
    Yet in thy dark streets shineth
      The everlasting Light;
    The hopes and fears of all the years
      Are met in thee to-night.

    For Christ is born of Mary,
      And, gathered all above,
    While mortals sleep, the angels keep
      Their watch of wondering love.
    O morning stars, together
      Proclaim the holy birth!
    And praises sing to God the King,
      And peace to men on earth.
    How silently, how silently,
      The wondrous gift is given!
    So God imparts to human hearts
      The blessings of His heaven.
    No ear may hear His coming,
      But in this world of sin,
    Where meek souls will receive Him still,
      The dear Christ enters in.

    O holy Child of Bethlehem!
      Descend to us, we pray;
    Cast out our sin, and enter in,
      Be born in us to-day.
    We hear the Christmas angels
      The great glad tidings tell;
    Oh, come to us, abide with us,
      Our Lord Emmanuel!

       *       *       *       *       *

    THE GLAD EVANGEL

    KATE DOUGLAS WIGGIN

When the Child of Nazareth was born, the sun, according to the Bosnian
legend, "leaped in the heavens, and the stars around it danced. A peace
came over mountain and forest. Even the rotten stump stood straight and
healthy on the green hill-side. The grass was beflowered with open
blossoms, incense sweet as myrrh pervaded upland and forest, birds sang
on the mountain top, and all gave thanks to the great God."

It is naught but an old folk-tale, but it has truth hidden at its heart,
for a strange, subtle force, a spirit of genial good-will, a new-born
kindness, seem to animate child and man alike when the world pays its
tribute to the "heaven-sent youngling," as the poet Drummond calls the
infant Christ.

When the Three Wise Men rode from the East into the West on that "first,
best Christmas night," they bore on their saddle-bows three caskets
filled with gold and frankincense and myrrh, to be laid at the feet of
the manger-cradled babe of Bethlehem. Beginning with this old, old
journey, the spirit of giving crept into the world's heart. As the Magi
came bearing gifts, so do we also; gifts that relieve want, gifts that
are sweet and fragrant with friendship, gifts that breathe love, gifts
that mean service, gifts inspired still by the star that shone over the
City of David nearly two thousand years ago.

Then hang the green coronet of the Christmas-tree with glittering
baubles and jewels of flame; heap offerings on its emerald branches;
bring the Yule log to the firing; deck the house with holly and
mistletoe,

    "And all the bells on earth shall ring
    On Christmas day in the morning."

       *       *       *       *       *

    THE SHEPHERDS

    WILLIAM DRUMMOND, OF HAWTHORNDEN

    O than the fairest day, thrice fairer night!
      Night to blest days in which a sun doth rise
      Of which that golden eye which clears the skies
    Is but a sparkling ray, a shadow-light!
    And blessed ye, in silly pastor's sight,
      Mild creatures, in whose warm crib now lies
    That heaven-sent youngling, holy-maid-born wight,
      Midst, end, beginning of our prophecies!

    Blest cottage that hath flowers in winter spread,
      Though withered--blessed grass that hath the grace
      To deck and be a carpet to that place!
    Thus sang, unto the sounds of oaten reed,
      Before the Babe, the shepherds bowed on knees;
      And springs ran nectar, honey dropped from trees.

        *       *       *       *       *

    A CHRISTMAS CAROL

    JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL

    "What means this glory round our feet,"
      The Magi mused, "more bright than morn?"
    And voices chanted clear and sweet,
      "To-day the Prince of Peace is born!"

    "What means that star," the Shepherds said,
      "That brightens through the rocky glen?"
    And angels, answering overhead,
      Sang, "Peace on earth, good-will to men!"

    'Tis eighteen hundred years and more
      Since those sweet oracles were dumb;
    We wait for Him, like them of yore;
      Alas, He seems so slow to come!

    But it was said, in words of gold,
      No time or sorrow e'er shall dim,
    That little children might be bold
      In perfect trust to come to Him.

    All round about our feet shall shine
      A light like that the wise men saw,
    If we our loving wills incline
      To that sweet Life which is the Law.

    So shall we learn to understand
      The simple faith of shepherds then,
    And, clasping kindly hand in hand,
      Sing, "Peace on earth, good-will to men!"

    But they who do their souls no wrong,
      But keep at eve the faith of morn,
    Shall daily hear the angel-song,
      "To-day the Prince of Peace is born!"

       *       *       *       *       *

    A CHRISTMAS HYMN

    ALFRED DOMETT

    It was the calm and silent night!
      Seven hundred years and fifty-three
    Had Rome been growing up to might,
      And now was Queen of land and sea.
    No sound was heard of clashing wars;
      Peace brooded o'er the hush'd domain;
    Apollo, Pallas, Jove and Mars,
      Held undisturb'd their ancient reign,
           In the solemn midnight
               Centuries ago.

    'T was in the calm and silent night!
      The senator of haughty Rome
    Impatient urged his chariot's flight,
      From lordly revel rolling home.
    Triumphal arches gleaming swell
      His breast with thoughts of boundless sway;
    What reck'd the Roman what befell
      A paltry province far away,
            In the solemn midnight
                Centuries ago!

    Within that province far away
      Went plodding home a weary boor:
    A streak of light before him lay,
      Fall'n through a half-shut stable door
    Across his path. He pass'd--for nought
      Told what was going on within;
    How keen the stars! his only thought;
      The air how calm and cold and thin,
           In the solemn midnight
                Centuries ago!

    O strange indifference!--low and high
      Drows'd over common joys and cares:
    The earth was still--but knew not why;
      The world was listening--unawares.
    How calm a moment may precede
      One that shall thrill the world for ever!
    To that still moment none would heed,
      Man's doom was link'd, no more to sever,
            In the solemn midnight
                Centuries ago.

    It _is_ the calm and solemn night
      A thousand bells ring out, and throw
    Their joyous peals abroad, and smite
      The darkness, charm'd and holy now.
    The night that erst no name had worn,
      To it a happy name is given;
    For in that stable lay new-born
      The peaceful Prince of Earth and Heaven,
           In the solemn midnight
               Centuries ago.

       *       *       *       *       *

    BRIGHTEST AND BEST OF THE SONS OF THE MORNING

    REGINALD HEBER

    Brightest and best of the Sons of the morning!
      Dawn on our darkness and lend us thine aid!
    Star of the East, the horizon adorning,
      Guide where our Infant Redeemer is laid!

    Cold on His cradle the dewdrops are shining,
      Low lies His head with the beasts of the stall;
    Angels adore Him in slumber reclining,
      Maker and Monarch and Saviour of all!

    Say, shall we yield Him, in costly devotion,
      Odors of Edom and offerings divine?
    Gems of the mountain and pearls of the ocean,
      Myrrh from the forest, or gold from the mine?

    Vainly we offer each ample oblation;
      Vainly with gifts would His favor secure:
    Richer by far is the heart's adoration;
      Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.

    Brightest and best of the Sons of the morning!
      Dawn on our darkness and lend us thine aid!
    Star of the East, the horizon adorning,
      Guide where our Infant Redeemer is laid!

       *       *       *       *       *

    GOD REST YE, MERRY GENTLEMEN

    DINAH MARIA MULOCK

    God rest ye, merry gentlemen; let nothing you dismay,
    For Jesus Christ, our Saviour, was born on Christmas-day.
    The dawn rose red o'er Bethlehem, the stars shone through the gray,
    When Jesus Christ, our Saviour, was born on Christmas-day.

    God rest ye, little children; let nothing you affright,
    For Jesus Christ, your Saviour, was born this happy night;
    Along the hills of Galilee the white flocks sleeping lay,
    When Christ, the child of Nazareth, was born on Christmas-day.

    God rest ye, all good Christians; upon this blessed morn
    The Lord of all good Christians was of a woman born:
    Now all your sorrows He doth heal, your sins He takes away;
    For Jesus Christ, our Saviour, was born on Christmas-day.

       *       *       *       *       *

    THE CHRISTMAS SILENCE

    MARGARET DELAND

    Hushed are the pigeons cooing low
      On dusty rafters of the loft;
      And mild-eyed oxen, breathing soft,
    Sleep on the fragrant hay below.

    Dim shadows in the corner hide;
      The glimmering lantern's rays are shed
      Where one young lamb just lifts his head,
    Then huddles 'gainst his mother's side.

    Strange silence tingles in the air;
      Through the half-open door a bar
      Of light from one low-hanging star
    Touches a baby's radiant hair.

    No sound: the mother, kneeling, lays
      Her cheek against the little face.
      Oh human love! Oh heavenly grace!
    'Tis yet in silence that she prays!

    Ages of silence end to-night;
      Then to the long-expectant earth
      Glad angels come to greet His birth
    In burst of music, love, and light!

       *       *       *       *       *

    A CHRISTMAS LULLABY

    JOHN ADDINGTON SYMONDS

    Sleep, baby, sleep! The Mother sings:
    Heaven's angels kneel and fold their wings.
                        Sleep, baby, sleep!

    With swathes of scented hay Thy bed
    By Mary's hand at eve was spread.
                        Sleep, baby, sleep!

    At midnight came the shepherds, they
    Whom seraphs wakened by the way.
                        Sleep, baby, sleep!

    And three kings from the East afar,
    Ere dawn came, guided by the star.
                        Sleep, baby, sleep!

    They brought Thee gifts of gold and gems,
    Pure orient pearls, rich diadems.
                        Sleep, baby, sleep!

    Thou who liest slumbering there,
    Art King of Kings, earth, ocean, air.
                        Sleep, baby, sleep!

    Sleep, baby, sleep! The shepherds sing:
    Through heaven, through earth, hosannas ring.
                        Sleep, baby, sleep!

       *       *       *       *       *

    HYMN FOR THE NATIVITY

    EDWARD THRING

    Happy night and happy silence downward softly stealing,
      Softly stealing over land and sea,
    Stars from golden censors swing a silent eager feeling
      Down on Judah, down on Galilee;
    And all the wistful air, and earth, and sky,
    Listened, listened for the gladness of a cry.

    Holy night, a sudden flash of light its way is winging:
      Angels, angels, all above, around;
    Hark, the angel voices, hark, the angel voices singing;
      And the sheep are lying on the ground.
    Lo, all the wistful air, and earth, and sky,
    Listen, listen to the gladness of the cry.

    Happy night at Bethlehem; soft little hands are feeling,
      Feeling in the manger with the kine:
    Little hands, and eyelids closed in sleep, while angels kneeling,
      Mary mother, hymn the Babe Divine.
    Lo, all the wistful air, and earth, and sky,
    Listen, listen to the gladness of the cry.

    Wide, as if the light were music, flashes adoration:
      "Glory be to God, nor ever cease,"
    All the silence thrills, and speeds the message of salvation:
      "Peace on earth, good-will to men of peace."
    Lo, all the wistful air, and earth, and sky,
    Listen, listen to the gladness of the cry.

    Holy night, thy solemn silence evermore enfoldeth
      Angels songs and peace from God on high:
    Holy night, thy watcher still with faithful eye beholdeth
      Wings that wave, and angel glory nigh,
    Lo, hushed is strife in air, and earth, and sky,
    Still thy watchers hear the gladness of the cry.

    Praise Him, ye who watch the night, the silent night of ages:
      Praise Him, shepherds, praise the Holy Child;
    Praise Him, ye who hear the light, O praise Him, all ye sages;
      Praise Him, children, praise Him meek and mild.
    Lo, peace on Earth, glory to God on high,
    Listen, listen to the gladness of the cry.

       *       *       *       *       *

    MASTERS IN THIS HALL

    ANONYMOUS

    "To Bethlem did they go, the shepherds three;
    To Bethlem did they go to see whe'r it were so or no,
    Whether Christ were born or no
        To set men free."

        Masters, in this hall,
          Hear ye news to-day
        Brought over sea,
          And ever I you pray.

                         _Nowell! Nowell! Nowell! Nowell!
                            Sing we clear!
                          Holpen are all folk on earth,
                            Born is God's Son so dear._

        Going over the hills,
          Through the milk-white snow,
        Heard I ewes bleat
          While the wind did blow.
                        Nowell, &c.

        Shepherds many an one
          Sat among the sheep;
        No man spake more word
          Than they had been asleep.
                        Nowell, &c.

        Quoth I 'Fellows mine,
          Why this guise sit ye?
        Making but dull cheer,
          Shepherds though ye be?
                        Nowell, &c.

        'Shepherds should of right
          Leap and dance and sing;
        Thus to see ye sit
          Is a right strange thing.'
                        Nowell, &c.

        Quoth these fellows then
          'To Bethlem town we go,
        To see a Mighty Lord
          Lie in manger low.'
                        Nowell, &c.

        'How name ye this Lord,
          Shepherds?' then said I.
        'Very God' they said,
          'Come from Heaven high.'
                        Nowell, &c.
        Then to Bethlem town
          We went two and two,
        And in a sorry place
          Heard the oxen low.
                        Nowell, &c.

        Therein did we see
          A sweet and goodly May,
        And a fair old man;
          Upon the straw she lay.
                        Nowell, &c.

        And a little CHILD
          On her arm had she;
        'Wot ye who this is?'
          Said the hinds to me.
                        Nowell, &c.

        Ox and ass him know,
          Kneeling on their knee:
        Wondrous joy had I
          This little BABE to see.
                        Nowell, &c.

        This is CHRIST the Lord,
          Masters, be ye glad!
        Christmas is come in,
          And no folk should be sad.
                        Nowell, &c.

       *       *       *       *       *

    THE ADORATION OF THE WISE MEN

    CECIL FRANCES ALEXANDER

    Saw you never in the twilight,
      When the sun had left the skies,
    Up in heaven the clear stars shining,
      Through the gloom like silver eyes?
    So of old the wise men watching,
      Saw a little stranger star,
    And they knew the King was given,
      And they follow'd it from far.

    Heard you never of the story,
      How they cross'd the desert wild,
    Journey'd on by plain and mountain,
      Till they found the Holy Child?
    How they open'd all their treasure,
      Kneeling to that Infant King,
    Gave the gold and fragrant incense,
      Gave the myrrh in offering?

    Know ye not that lowly Baby
      Was the bright and morning star,
    He who came to light the Gentiles,
      And the darken'd isles afar?
    And we too may seek his cradle,
      There our heart's best treasures bring,
    Love, and Faith, and true devotion,
      For our Saviour, God, and King.

       *       *       *       *       *

    THE SHEPHERDS IN JUDEA

    MARY AUSTIN

        Oh, the Shepherds in Judea,
          They are pacing to and fro,
        For the air grows chill at twilight
          And the weanling lambs are slow!

    Leave, O lambs, the dripping sedges, quit the bramble and the brier,
    Leave the fields of barley stubble, for we light the watching fire;
    Twinkling fires across the twilight, and a bitter watch to keep,
    Lest the prowlers come a-thieving where the flocks unguarded sleep.

        Oh, the Shepherds in Judea,
          They are singing soft and low--
        Song the blessed angels taught them
          All the centuries ago!

    There was never roof to hide them, there were never walls to bind;
    Stark they lie beneath the star-beams, whom the blessed angels find,
    With the huddled flocks upstarting, wondering if they hear aright,
    While the Kings come riding, riding, solemn shadows in the night.

        Oh, the Shepherds in Judea,
          They are thinking, as they go,
        Of the light that broke their watching
          On the hillside in the snow!--

    Scattered snow along the hillside, white as springtime fleeces are,
    With the whiter wings above them and the glory-streaming star--
    Guiding-star across the housetops; never fear the Shepherds felt
    Till they found the Babe in manger where the kindly cattle knelt.

        Oh, the Shepherds in Judea!--
          Do you think the Shepherds know
        How the whole round earth is brightened
          In the ruddy Christmas glow?

    How the sighs are lost in laughter, and the laughter brings the tears,
    As the thoughts of men go seeking back across the darkling years
    Till they find the wayside stable that the star-led Wise Men found,
    With the Shepherds, mute, adoring, and the glory shining round!

       *       *       *       *       *

    CHRISTMAS CAROL

    JAMES S. PARK

    So crowded was the little town
      On the first Christmas day,
    Tired Mary Mother laid her down
      To rest upon the hay.
    (Ah, would my door might have been thrown
      Wide open on her way!)

    But when the Holy Babe was born
      In the deep hush of night,
    It seemed as if a Sabbath morn
      Had come with sacred light.
    Child Jesus made the place forlorn
      With his own beauty bright.

    The manger rough was all his rest;
      The cattle, having fed,
    Stood silent by, or closer pressed,
      And gravely wonderèd.
    (Ah, Lord, if only that my breast
      Had cradled Thee instead!)

       *       *       *       *       *

    NEIGHBORS OF THE CHRIST NIGHT

    NORA ARCHIBALD SMITH

    Deep in the shelter of the cave,
      The ass with drooping head
    Stood weary in the shadow, where
      His master's hand had led.
    About the manger oxen lay,
      Bending a wide-eyed gaze
    Upon the little new-born Babe,
      Half worship, half amaze.
    High in the roof the doves were set,
      And cooed there, soft and mild,
    Yet not so sweet as, in the hay,
      The Mother to her Child.
    The gentle cows breathed fragrant breath
      To keep Babe Jesus warm,
    While loud and clear, o'er hill and dale,
      The cocks crowed, "Christ is born!"
    Out in the fields, beneath the stars,
      The young lambs sleeping lay,
    And dreamed that in the manger slept
      Another white as they.

                   - - - - -

    These were Thy neighbors, Christmas Child;
      To Thee their love was given,
    For in Thy baby face there shone
      The wonder-light of Heaven.

       *       *       *       *       *

    CRADLE HYMN

    ISAAC WATTS

    Hush, my dear, lie still and slumber;
      Holy angels guard thy bed;
    Heavenly blessings without number
      Gently falling on thy head.

    Sleep, my babe, thy food and raiment,
      House and home, thy friends provide;
    All without thy care, or payment,
      All thy wants are well supplied.

    How much better thou'rt attended
      Than the Son of God could be,
    When from heaven He descended,
      And became a child like thee!

    Soft and easy is thy cradle;
      Coarse and hard thy Saviour lay,
    When His birthplace was a stable,
      And His softest bed was hay.

    See the kindly shepherds round him,
      Telling wonders from the sky!
    When they sought Him, there they found Him,
      With his Virgin-Mother by.

    See the lovely babe a-dressing;
      Lovely infant, how He smiled!
    When He wept, the mother's blessing
      Soothed and hushed the holy child.

    Lo, He slumbers in His manger,
      Where the honest oxen fed;
    --Peace, my darling! here's no danger!
      Here's no ox a-near thy bed!

    Mayst thou live to know and fear Him,
      Trust and love Him all thy days;
    Then go dwell forever near Him,
      See His face, and sing His praise!

    I could give thee thousand kisses,
      Hoping what I most desire;
    Not a mother's fondest wishes
      Can to greater joys aspire.

       *       *       *       *       *

    AN ODE ON THE BIRTH OF OUR
            SAVIOUR

    ROBERT HERRICK

    In numbers, and but these few,
    I sing thy birth, O Jesu!
    Thou pretty baby, born here
    With sup'rabundant scorn here;
    Who for thy princely port here,
      Hadst for thy place
      Of birth, a base
    Out-stable for thy court here.

    Instead of neat enclosures
    Of interwoven osiers,
    Instead of fragrant posies
    Of daffodils and roses,
    Thy cradle, kingly stranger,
      As gospel tells,
      Was nothing else
    But here a homely manger.

    But we with silks, not crewels,
    With sundry precious jewels,
    And lily work will dress thee,
    And, as we dispossess thee
    Of clouts, we'll make a chamber,
      Sweet babe, for thee
      Of ivory,
    And plaster'd round with amber.

       *       *       *       *       *

    CHRISTMAS SONG

    EDMUND HAMILTON SEARS

    Calm on the listening ear of night
      Come heaven's melodious strains,
    Where wild Judea stretches far
      Her silver-mantled plains;
    Celestial choirs from courts above
      Shed sacred glories there;
    And angels with their sparkling lyres
      Make music on the air.

    The answering hills of Palestine
      Send back the glad reply,
    And greet from all their holy heights
      The day-spring from on high:
    O'er the blue depths of Galilee
      There comes a holier calm,
    And Sharon waves, in solemn praise,
      Her silent groves of palm.

    "Glory to God!" The lofty strain
      The realm of ether fills:
    How sweeps the song of solemn joy
      O'er Judah's sacred hills!
    "Glory to God!" The sounding skies
      Loud with their anthems ring;
    "Peace on the earth; good-will to men,
      From heaven's eternal King!"

    Light on thy hills, Jerusalem!
      The Saviour now is born:
    More bright on Bethlehem's joyous plains
      Breaks the first Christmas morn;
    And brighter on Moriah's brow,
      Crowned with her temple-spires,
    Which first proclaim the new-born light,
      Clothed with its Orient fires.

    This day shall Christian lips be mute,
      And Christian hearts be cold?
    Oh, catch the anthem that from heaven
      O'er Judah's mountains rolled!
    When nightly burst from seraph-harps
      The high and solemn lay,--
    "Glory to God! on earth be peace;
      Salvation comes to-day!"

       *       *       *       *       *

    A HYMN ON THE NATIVITY OF MY
              SAVIOUR

    BEN JONSON

    I sing the birth was born to-night
    The author both of life and light;
      The angels so did sound it.
    And like the ravished shepherds said,
    Who saw the light, and were afraid,
      Yet searched, and true they found it.

    The Son of God, th' eternal king,
    That did us all salvation bring,
      And freed the soul from danger;
    He whom the whole world could not take,
    The Word, which heaven and earth did make,
      Was now laid in a manger.

    The Father's wisdom willed it so,
    The Son's obedience knew no No,
      Both wills were in one stature;
    And as that wisdom had decreed,
    The Word was now made flesh indeed,
      And took on him our nature.

    What comfort by him do we win,
    Who made himself the price of sin,
      To make us heirs of glory!
    To see this babe all innocence;
    A martyr born in our defence:
      Can man forget the story?

       *       *       *       *       *

    THE SHEPHERD'S SONG

    EDMUND BOLTON

        Sweet music, sweeter far
          Than any song is sweet:
        Sweet music, heavenly rare,
          Mine ears, O peers, doth greet.
    You gentle flocks, whose fleeces pearled with dew,
      Resemble heaven, whom golden drops make bright,
    Listen, O listen, now, O not to you
      Our pipes make sport to shorten weary night:
        But voices most divine
          Make blissful harmony:
        Voices that seem to shine,
          For what else clears the sky?
    Tunes can we hear, but not the singers see,
    The tunes divine, and so the singers be.

        Lo, how the firmament
          Within an azure fold
        The flock of stars hath pent,
          That we might them behold,
    Yet from their beams proceedeth not this light,
      Nor can their crystals such reflection give.
    What then doth make the element so bright?
      The heavens are come down upon earth to live
        But hearken to the song,
          Glory to glory's King,
        And peace all men among,
          These quiristers do sing.
    Angels they are, as also (shepherds) He
    Whom in our fear we do admire to see.

        Let not amazement blind
          Your souls, said he, annoy:
        To you and all mankind
          My message bringeth joy.
    For lo! the world's great Shepherd now is born,
      A blessed Babe, an Infant full of power:
    After long night uprisen is the morn,
      Renowning Bethlem in the Saviour.
        Sprung is the perfect day,
          By prophets seen afar:
        Sprung is the mirthful May,
          Which winter cannot mar.
    In David's city doth this Sun appear
    Clouded in flesh, yet, shepherds, sit we here!

       *       *       *       *       *

    A CHRISTMAS CAROL

    AUBREY DE VERE

    They leave the land of gems and gold,
      The shining portals of the East;
    For Him, the woman's Seed foretold,
      They leave the revel and the feast.

    To earth their sceptres they have cast,
      And crowns by kings ancestral worn;
    They track the lonely Syrian waste;
      They kneel before the Babe new born.

    O happy eyes that saw Him first;
      O happy lips that kissed His feet:
    Earth slakes at last her ancient thirst;
      With Eden's joy her pulses beat.

    True kings are those who thus forsake
      Their kingdoms for the Eternal King;
    Serpent, her foot is on thy neck;
      Herod, thou writhest, but canst not sting.

    He, He is King, and He alone
      Who lifts that infant hand to bless;
    Who makes His mother's knee His throne,
      Yet rules the starry wilderness.

       *       *       *       *       *

    A CHRISTMAS HYMN

    ANON

Written in the Chapel of the Manger, in the Convent Church of Bethlehem,
Palestine:

    In the fields where, long ago,
      Dropping tears, amid the leaves,
    Ruth's young feet went to and fro,
      Binding up the scattered sheaves,
    In the field that heard the voice
      Of Judea's shepherd King,
    Still the gleaners may rejoice,
      Still the reapers shout and sing.

    For each mount and vale and plain
      Felt the touch of holier feet.
    Then the gleaners of the grain
      Heard, in voices full and sweet,
    "Peace on earth, good will to men,"
      Ring from angel lips afar,
    While, o'er every glade and glen,
      Broke the light of Bethlehem's star.

    Star of hope to souls in night,
      Star of peace above our strife,
    Guiding, where the gates of death
    Ope to fields of endless life.
    Wanderer from the nightly throng
      Which the eastern heavens gem;
    Guided, by an angel's song,
      To the Babe of Bethlehem.

    Not Judea's hills alone
      Have earth's weary gleaners trod,
    Not to heirs of David's throne
    Is it given to "reign with God."
    But where'er on His green earth
      Heavenly faith and longing are,
    Heavenly hope and life have birth,
      'Neath the smile of Bethlehem's star.

    In each lowly heart or home,
      By each love-watched cradle-bed,
    Where we rest, or where we roam,
      Still its changeless light is shed.
    In its beams each quickened heart,
      Howe'er saddened or denied,
    Keeps one little place apart
      For the Hebrew mother's Child.

    And that inner temple fair
      May be holier ground than this,
    Hallowed by the pilgrim's prayer,
      Warmed by many a pilgrim's kiss.
    In its shadow still and dim,
      Where our holiest longings are,
    Rings forever Bethlehem's hymn,
      Shines forever Bethlehem's star.

       *       *       *       *       *

    CHRISTMAS DAY

    CHARLES WESLEY

    Hark! the herald angels sing
    Glory to the new-born King!
    Peace on earth and mercy mild,
    God and sinners reconciled.

    Joyful all ye nations rise,
    Join the triumph of the skies,
    With the angelic host proclaim
    Christ is born in Bethlehem!

    Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
    Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
    Light and life to all he brings,
    Risen with healing in his wings.

    Mild, he lays his glory by;
    Born, that man no more may die,
    Born to raise the sons of earth,
    Born to give them second birth.

       *       *       *       *       *

    CHRISTMAS

    ANON

    Once in Royal David's city
      Stood a lowly cattle shed,
    Where a mother laid her baby
      In a manger for His bed.
    Mary was that mother mild,
    Jesus Christ that little child.

    He came down to earth from Heaven,
      Who is God and Lord of all.
    And his shelter was a stable,
      And his cradle was a stall.
    With the poor and mean and lowly,
    Lived on earth our Saviour Holy.

    And our eyes at last shall see Him
      Through His own redeeming love,
    For that child so dear and gentle
      Is our Lord in Heaven above;
    And He leads His children on
    To the place where He is gone.

    Not in that poor, lowly stable,
      With the oxen standing by,
    We shall see Him; but in Heaven,
      Set at God's right hand on high,
    When, like stars, His children crowned
    All in white, shall wait around.

       *       *       *       *       *

    CHRISTMAS

    NAHUM TATE

    While shepherds watch'd their flocks by night,
      All seated on the ground,
    The angel of the Lord came down,
      And glory shone around.

    "Fear not," said he (for mighty dread
      Had seized their troubled mind);
    "Glad tidings of great joy I bring
      To you and all mankind.

    "To you, in David's town, this day
      Is born of David's line
    The Saviour who is Christ the Lord;
      And this shall be the sign:

    "The heavenly Babe you there shall find
      To human view display'd,
    All meanly wrapt in swathing bands,
      And in a manger laid."

    Thus spake the Seraph; and forthwith
      Appear'd a shining throng
    Of angels, praising God, and thus
      Address'd their joyful song:

    "All glory be to God on high,
      And to the earth be peace;
    Good-will henceforth from heaven to men
      Begin, and never cease!"

       *       *       *       *       *

    "WHILE SHEPHERDS WATCHED THEIR FLOCKS BY NIGHT"

    MARGARET DELAND

    Like small curled feathers, white and soft,
      The little clouds went by,
    Across the moon, and past the stars,
      And down the western sky:
    In upland pastures, where the grass
      With frosted dew was white,
    Like snowy clouds the young sheep lay,
      That first, best Christmas night.

    The shepherds slept; and, glimmering faint,
      With twist of thin, blue smoke,
    Only their fire's crackling flames
      The tender silence broke--
    Save when a young lamb raised his head,
      Or, when the night wind blew,
    A nesting bird would softly stir,
      Where dusky olives grew--

    With finger on her solemn lip,
      Night hushed the shadowy earth,
    And only stars and angels saw
      The little Saviour's birth;
    Then came such flash of silver light
      Across the bending skies,
    The wondering shepherds woke, and hid
      Their frightened, dazzled eyes!

    And all their gentle sleepy flock
      Looked up, then slept again,
    Nor knew the light that dimmed the stars
      Brought endless Peace to men--
    Nor even heard the gracious words
      That down the ages ring--
    The Christ is born! the Lord has come,
      Good-will on earth to bring!

    Then o'er the moonlit, misty fields,
      Dumb with the world's great joy,
    The shepherds sought the white-walled town,
      Where lay the baby boy--
    And oh, the gladness of the world,
      The glory of the skies,
    Because the longed-for Christ looked up
      In Mary's happy eyes!

       *       *       *       *       *

COLONIAL CHRISTMASES

ALICE MORSE EARLE

[From "Customs and Fashions in Old New England."]

The first century of colonial life saw few set times and days for
pleasure. The holy days of the English Church were as a stench to the
Puritan nostrils, and their public celebration was at once rigidly
forbidden by the laws of New England. New holidays were not quickly
evolved, and the sober gatherings for matters of Church and State for a
time took their place. The hatred of "wanton Bacchanallian Christmasses"
spent throughout England, as Cotton said, in "revelling, dicing,
carding, masking, mumming, consumed in compotations, in interludes, in
excess of wine, in mad mirth," was the natural reaction of intelligent
and thoughtful minds against the excesses of a festival which had ceased
to be a Christian holiday, but was dominated by a lord of misrule who
did not hesitate to invade the churches in time of service, in his noisy
revels and sports. English Churchmen long ago revolted also against such
Christmas observance.

Of the first Pilgrim Christmas we know but little, save that it was
spent, as was many a later one, in work....

By 1659 the Puritans had grown to hate Christmas more and more; it was,
to use Shakespeare's words, "the bug that feared them all." The very
name smacked to them of incense, stole, and monkish jargon; any person
who observed it as a holiday by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any
other way was to pay five shillings fine, so desirous were they to
"beate down every sprout of Episcopacie." Judge Sewall watched jealously
the feeling of the people with regard to Christmas, and noted with
pleasure on each succeeding year the continuance of common traffic
throughout the day. Such entries as this show his attitude: "Dec. 25,
1685. Carts come to town and shops open as usual. Some somehow observe
the day, but are vexed I believe that the Body of people profane it, and
blessed be God no authority yet to compel them to keep it." When the
Church of England established Christmas services in Boston a few years
later, we find the Judge waging hopeless war against Governor Belcher
over it, and hear him praising his son for not going with other boy
friends to hear the novel and attractive services. He says: "I dehort
mine from Christmas keeping and charge them to forbear."

Christmas could not be regarded till this century as a New England
holiday, though in certain localities, such as old Narragansett--an
opulent community which was settled by Episcopalians--two weeks of
Christmas visiting and feasting were entered into with zest by both
planters and slaves for many years previous to the revolution.

       *       *       *       *       *

    THE ANGELS

    WILLIAM DRUMMOND

    Run, shepherds, run where Bethlehem blest appears.
    We bring the best of news; be not dismayed:
    A Saviour there is born more old than years,
    Amidst heaven's rolling height this earth who stayed.

    In a poor cottage inned, a virgin maid,
    A weakling did him bear, who all upbears;
    There is he poorly swaddled, in manger laid,
    To whom too narrow swaddlings are our spheres:
    Run, shepherds, run, and solemnize his birth.

    This is that night--no, day, grown great with bliss,
    In which the power of Satan broken is:
    In heaven be glory, peace unto the earth!
    Thus singing, through the air the angels swarm,
    And cope of stars re-echoèd the same.

    Or say, if this new Birth of ours
    Sleeps, laid within some ark of flowers,
    Spangled with dew-light; thou canst clear
    All doubts, and manifest the where.

    Declare to us, bright star, if we shall seek
    Him in the morning's blushing cheek,
    Or search the beds of spices through,
    To find him out?

    _Star_.--No, this ye need not do;
    But only come and see Him rest,
    A princely babe, in's mother's breast.

       *       *       *       *       *

    HYMN FOR CHRISTMAS

    FELICIA HEMANS

    Oh! lovely voices of the sky
      Which hymned the Saviour's birth,
    Are ye not singing still on high,
      Ye that sang, "Peace on earth"?
        To us yet speak the strains
          Wherewith, in time gone by,
        Ye blessed the Syrian swains,
          Oh! voices of the sky!

    Oh! clear and shining light, whose beams
      That hour Heaven's glory shed,
    Around the palms, and o'er the streams,
      And on the shepherd's head.
        Be near, through life and death,
          As in that holiest night
        Of hope, and joy, and faith--
          Oh! clear and shining light!

       *       *       *       *       *

    NEW PRINCE, NEW POMP

    ROBERT SOUTHWELL

    Behold a simple, tender Babe,
      In freezing winter night,
    In homely manger trembling lies;
      Alas! a piteous sight.

    The inns are full; no man will yield
      This little Pilgrim bed;
    But forced he is with silly beasts
      In crib to shroud his head.

    Despise him not for lying there;
      First what he is inquire:
    An Orient pearl is often found
      In depth of dirty mire.

    Weigh not his crib, his wooden dish,
      Nor beasts that by him feed;
    Weigh not his mother's poor attire,
      Nor Joseph's simple weed.

    This stable is a Prince's court,
      The crib his chair of state;
    The beasts are parcel of his pomp,
      The wooden dish his plate.

    The persons in that poor attire
      His royal liveries wear;
    The Prince himself is come from heaven:
      This pomp is praisèd there.

    With joy approach, O Christian wight!
      Do homage to thy King;
    And highly praise this humble pomp,
      Which he from heaven doth bring.

       *       *       *       *       *

    THE THREE KINGS

    HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

    Three Kings came riding from far away,
      Melchior and Gaspar and Baltasar;
    Three Wise Men out of the East were they,
    And they traveled by night and they slept by day,
      For their guide was a beautiful, wonderful star.

    The star was so beautiful, large and clear,
      That all the other stars of the sky
    Became a white mist in the atmosphere;
    And by this they knew that the coming was near
      Of the Prince foretold in the prophecy.

    Three caskets they bore on their saddle-bows,
      Three caskets of gold with golden keys;
    Their robes were of crimson silk, with rows
    Of bells and pomegranates and furbelows,
      Their turbans like blossoming almond-trees.

    And so the Three Kings rode into the West,
      Through the dusk of night over hill and dell,
    And sometimes they nodded with beard on breast,
    And sometimes talked, as they paused to rest,
      With the people they met at some wayside well.

    "Of the child that is born," said Baltasar,
      "Good people, I pray you, tell us the news;
    For we in the East have seen his star,
    And have ridden fast, and have ridden far,
      To find and worship the King of the Jews."

    And the people answered, "You ask in vain;
      We know of no king but Herod the Great!"
    They thought the Wise Men were men insane,
    As they spurred their horses across the plain
      Like riders in haste who cannot wait.

    And when they came to Jerusalem,
      Herod the Great, who had heard this thing,
    Sent for the Wise Men and questioned them;
    And said, "Go down unto Bethlehem,
      And bring me tidings of this new king."

    So they rode away, and the star stood still,
      The only one in the gray of morn;
    Yes, it stopped, it stood still of its own free will,
    Right over Bethlehem on the hill,
      The city of David where Christ was born.

    And the Three Kings rode through the gate and the guard,
      Through the silent street, till their horses turned
    And neighed as they entered the great inn-yard;
    But the windows were closed, and the doors were barred,
      And only a light in the stable burned.

    And cradled there in the scented hay,
      In the air made sweet by the breath of kine,
    The little child in the manger lay,
    The Child that would be King one day
      Of a kingdom not human, but divine.

    His mother, Mary of Nazareth,
      Sat watching beside his place of rest,
    Watching the even flow of his breath,
    For the joy of life and the terror of death
      Were mingled together in her breast.

    They laid their offerings at his feet:
      The gold was their tribute to a King;
    The frankincense, with its odor sweet,
    Was for the Priest, the Paraclete;
      The myrrh for the body's burying.

    And the mother wondered and bowed her head,
      And sat as still as a statue of stone;
    Her heart was troubled yet comforted,
    Remembering what the angel had said
      Of an endless reign and of David's throne.

    Then the Kings rode out of the city gate,
      With a clatter of hoofs in proud array;
    But they went not back to Herod the Great,
    For they knew his malice and feared his hate,
      And returned to their homes by another way.

       *       *       *       *       *

    HYMN ON THE NATIVITY

    JOHN MILTON

    It was the winter wild,
    While the heaven-born child
      All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
    Nature, in awe of him,
    Had doffed her gaudy trim,
      With her great Master so to sympathize:
    It was no season then for her
    To wanton with the sun, her lusty paramour.

    Only with speeches fair
    She wooes the gentle air,
      To hide her guilty front with innocent snow;
    And on her naked shame,
    Pollute with sinful blame,
      The saintly veil of maiden-white to throw;
    Confounded, that her Maker's eyes
    Should look so near upon her foul deformities.

    But he, her fears to cease,
    Sent down the meek-eyed Peace:
      She, crowned with olive green, came softly sliding
    Down through the turning sphere,
    His ready harbinger,
      With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing;
    And, waving wide her myrtle wand,
    She strikes a universal peace through sea and land.

    No war or battle's sound
    Was heard the world around:
      The idle spear and shield were high uphung;
    The hookèd chariot stood
    Unstained with hostile blood;
      The trumpet spake not to the armèd throng;
    And kings sat still with awful eye,
    As if they surely knew their sovereign lord was by.

    But peaceful was the night,
    Wherein the Prince of Light
      His reign of peace upon the earth began:
    The winds, with wonder whist,
    Smoothly the waters kissed,
      Whispering new joys to the mild ocean,
    Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
    While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmèd wave.

    The stars, with deep amaze,
    Stand fixed in steadfast gaze,
      Bending one way their precious influence;
    And will not take their flight,
    For all the morning light,
      Or Lucifer had often warned them thence:
    But in their glimmering orbs did glow,
    Until their Lord himself bespake, and bid them go.

    And, though the shady gloom
    Had given day her room,
      The sun himself withheld his wonted speed,
    And hid his head for shame.
    As his inferior flame
      The new-enlightened world no more should need;
    He saw a greater sun appear
    Than his bright throne, or burning axletree, could bear.

    The shepherds on the lawn,
    Or ere the point of dawn,
      Sat simply chatting in a rustic row;
    Full little thought they then
    That the mighty Pan
      Was kindly come to live with them below;
    Perhaps their loves, or else their sheep,
    Was all that did their silly thoughts so busy keep.

    When such music sweet
    Their hearts and ears did greet,
      As never was by mortal fingers strook,
    Divinely warbled voice
    Answering the stringèd noise,
      As all their souls in blissful rapture took:
    The air, such pleasure loath to lose,
    With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly close.

    Nature, that heard such sound,
    Beneath the hollow round
      Of Cynthia's seat, the airy region thrilling,
    Now was almost won,
    To think her part was done,
      And that her reign had here its last fulfilling;
    She knew such harmony alone
    Could hold all heaven and earth in happier union.

    At last surrounds their sight
    A globe of circular light,
      That with long beams the shame-faced night arrayed;
    The helmèd cherubim,
    And sworded seraphim,
      Are seen in glittering ranks with wings displayed,
    Harping in loud and solemn quire,
    With unexpressive notes, to Heaven's new-born heir.

    Such music as 'tis said
    Before was never made,
      But when of old the sons of morning sung,
    While the Creator great
    His constellations set,
      And the well-balanced world on hinges hung,
    And cast the dark foundations deep,
    And bid the weltering waves their oozy channel keep.

    Ring out, ye crystal spheres,
    Once bless our human ears,
      If ye have power to touch our senses so;
    And let your silver chime
    Move in melodious time;
      And let the bass of Heaven's deep organ blow;
    And, with your ninefold harmony,
    Make up full concert to the angelic symphony.

    For, if such holy song
    Enwrap our fancy long,
      Time will run back, and fetch the age of gold;
    And speckled Vanity
    Will sicken soon and die,
      And leprous Sin will melt from earthly mould;
    And Hell itself will pass away,
    And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day.

    Yea, Truth and Justice then
    Will down return to men,
      Orbed in a rainbow; and, like glories wearing,
    Mercy will sit between,
    Throned in celestial sheen,
      With radiant feet the tissued clouds down steering;
    And Heaven, as at some festival,
    Will open wide the gates of her high palace hall.

    But wisest Fate says no,
    This must not yet be so;
      The babe yet lies in smiling infancy,
    That on the bitter cross
    Must redeem our loss,
      So both himself and us to glorify:
    Yet first, to those chained in sleep,
    The wakeful trump of doom must thunder through the deep,

    With such a horrid clang
    As on Mount Sinai rang,
      While the red fire and smouldering clouds outbrake;
    The aged earth aghast,
    With terror of that blast,
      Shall from the surface to the centre shake;
    When, at the world's last session,
    The dreadful Judge in middle air shall spread his throne.

    And then at last our bliss,
    Full and perfect is,
      But now begins; for, from this happy day,
    The old dragon, underground,
    In straiter limits bound,
      Not half so far casts his usurpèd sway;
    And, wroth to see his kingdom fail,
    Swinges the scaly horror of his folded tail.

    The oracles are dumb;
    No voice or hideous hum
      Runs through the archèd roof in words deceiving.
    Apollo from his shrine
    Can no more divine,
      With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving.
    No nightly trance, or breathèd spell,
    Inspires the pale-eyed priest from the prophetic cell.

    The lonely mountains o'er,
    And the resounding shore,
      A voice of weeping heard and loud lament;
    From haunted spring and dale,
    Edged with poplar pale,
      The parting Genius is with sighing sent;
    With flower-inwoven tresses torn,
    The nymphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets mourn.

    In consecrated earth,
    And on the holy hearth,
      The Lars and Lemures mourn with midnight plaint.
    In urns and altars round,
    A drear and dying sound
      Affrights the Flamens at their service quaint;
    And the chill marble seems to sweat,
    While each peculiar power foregoes his wonted seat.

    Peor and Baälim
    Forsake their temples dim
      With that twice-battered God of Palestine;
    And moonèd Ashtaroth
    Heaven's queen and mother both,
      Now sits not girt with tapers' holy shine;
    The Libyac Hammon shrinks his horn;
    In vain the Tyrian maids their wounded Thammuz mourn.

    And sullen Moloch, fled,
    Hath left in shadows dread
      His burning idol all of blackest hue:
    In vain with cymbals' ring
    They call the grisly king,
      In dismal dance about the furnace blue:
    The brutish gods of Nile as fast,
    Isis, and Orus, and the dog Anubis, haste.

    Nor is Osiris seen
    In Memphian grove or green,
      Trampling the unshowered grass with lowings loud;
    Nor can he be at rest
    Within his sacred chest,
      Naught but profoundest hell can be his shroud;
    In vain with timbrelled anthems dark
    The sable-stolèd sorcerers bear his worshipped ark.

    He feels from Judah's land
    The dreaded infant's hand,
      The rays of Bethlehem blind his dusky eyne;
    Nor all the gods beside
    Longer dare abide,
      Not Typhon huge ending in snaky twine;
    Our babe, to show his Godhead true,
    Can in his swaddling bands control the damnèd crew.

    So, when the sun in bed,
    Curtained with cloudy red,
      Pillows his chin upon an orient wave,
    The flocking shadows pale
    Troop to the infernal jail,
      Each fettered ghost slips to his several grave;
    And the yellow-skirted fays
    Fly after the night-steeds, leaving their moon-loved maze.

    But see, the Virgin blest
    Hath laid her babe to rest;
      Time is our tedious song should here have ending:
    Heaven's youngest-teèmed star
    Hath fixed her polished car,
      Her sleeping Lord with handmaid lamp attending;
    And all about the courtly stable
      Bright-harnessed angels sit in order serviceable.

       *       *       *       *       *



II

CELEBRATION



CHRISTMAS EVE AT MR. WARDLE'S

From "Pickwick Papers"

CHARLES DICKENS

From the center of the ceiling of this kitchen, old Wardle had just
suspended with his own hands a huge branch of mistletoe, and this same
branch of mistletoe instantaneously gave rise to a scene of general and
most delightful struggling and confusion; in the midst of which Mr.
Pickwick with a gallantry which would have done honour to a descendant
of Lady Trollimglower herself, took the old lady by the hand, led her
beneath the mystic branch, and saluted her in all courtesy and decorum.
The old lady submitted to this piece of practical politeness with all
the dignity which befitted so important and serious a solemnity, but the
younger ladies not being so thoroughly imbued with a superstitious
veneration of the custom, or imagining that the value of a salute is
very much enhanced if it cost a little trouble to obtain it, screamed
and struggled, and ran into corners, and threatened and remonstrated,
and did everything but leave the room, until some of the less
adventurous gentlemen were on the point of desisting, when they all at
once found it useless to resist any longer, and submitted to be kissed
with a good grace. Mr. Winkle kissed the young lady with the black eyes,
and Mr. Snodgrass kissed Emily; and Mr. Weller, not being particular
about the form of being under the mistletoe, kissed Emma and the other
female servants, just as he caught them. As to the poor relations, they
kissed everybody, not even excepting the plainer portion of the
young-lady visitors, who, in their excessive confusion, ran right under
the mistletoe, directly it was hung up, without knowing it! Wardle stood
with his back to the fire, surveying the whole scene, with the utmost
satisfaction; and the fat boy took the opportunity of appropriating to
his own use, and summarily devouring, a particularly fine mince-pie,
that had been carefully put by for somebody else.

Now the screaming had subsided, and faces were in a glow and curls in a
tangle, and Mr. Pickwick, after kissing the old lady as before
mentioned, was standing under the mistletoe, looking with a very pleased
countenance on all that was passing around him, when the young lady with
the black eyes, after a little whispering with the other young ladies,
made a sudden dart forward, and, putting her arm around Mr. Pickwick's
neck, saluted him affectionately on the left cheek; and before Mr.
Pickwick distinctly knew what was the matter, he was surrounded by the
whole body, and kissed by every one of them.

It was a pleasant thing to see Mr. Pickwick in the centre of the group,
now pulled this way, and then that, and first kissed on the chin and
then on the nose, and then on the spectacles, and to hear the peals of
laughter which were raised on every side; but it was a still more
pleasant thing to see Mr. Pickwick, blinded shortly afterwards with a
silk-handkerchief, falling up against the wall, and scrambling into
corners, and going through all the mysteries of blind-man's buff, with
the utmost relish of the game, until at last he caught one of the poor
relations; and then had to evade the blind-man himself, which he did
with a nimbleness and agility that elicited the admiration and applause
of all beholders. The poor relations caught just the people whom they
thought would like it; and when the game flagged, got caught themselves.
When they were all tired of blind-man's buff, there was a great game at
snapdragon, and when fingers enough were burned with that, and all the
raisons gone, they sat down by the huge fire of blazing logs to a
substantial supper, and a mighty bowl of wassail, something smaller than
an ordinary washhouse copper, in which the hot apples were hissing and
bubbling with a rich look, and a jolly sound, that were perfectly
irresistible.

"This," said Mr. Pickwick, looking round him, "this is, indeed,
comfort."

"Our invariable custom," replied Mr. Wardle. "Everybody sits down with
us on Christmas eve, as you see them now--servants and all; and here we
wait till the clock strikes twelve, to usher Christmas in, and wile away
the time with forfeits and old stories. Trundle, my boy, rake up the
fire."

Up flew the bright sparks in myriads as the logs were stirred, and the
deep red blaze sent forth a rich glow, that penetrated into the furthest
corner of the room, and cast its cheerful tint on every face.

"Come," said Wardle, "a song--a Christmas song. I'll give you one, in
default of a better."

"Bravo," said Mr. Pickwick.

"Fill up," cried Wardle. "It will be two hours good, before you see the
bottom of the bowl through the deep rich colour of the wassail; fill up
all round, and now for the song."

Thus saying, the merry old gentleman, in a good, round, sturdy voice,
commenced without more ado--

    A CHRISTMAS CAROL

    I care not for Spring; on his fickle wing
    Let the blossoms and buds be borne:
    He woos them amain with his treacherous rain,
    And he scatters them ere the morn.
    An inconstant elf, he knows not himself,
    Or his own changing mind an hour,
    He'll smile in your face, and, with wry grimace,
    He'll wither your youngest flower.

    Let the summer sun to his bright home run,
    He shall never be sought by me;
    When he's dimmed by a cloud I can laugh aloud,
    And care not how sulky he be;
    For his darling child is the madness wild
    That sports in fierce fever's train;
    And when love is too strong, it don't last long,
    As many have found to their pain.

    A mild harvest night, by the tranquil light
    Of the modest and gentle moon,
    Has a far sweeter sheen for me, I ween,
    Than the broad and unblushing noon,
    But every leaf awakens my grief,
    As it lieth beneath the tree;
    So let Autumn air be never so fair,
    It by no means agrees with me.

    But my song I troll out, for Christmas stout,
    The hearty, the true, and the bold;
    A bumper I drain, and with might and main
    Give three cheers for this Christmas old.
    We'll usher him in with a merry din
    That shall gladden his joyous heart,
    And we'll keep him up while there's bite or sup,
    And in fellowship good, we'll part.

    In his fine honest pride, he scorns to hide
    One jot of his hard-weather scars;
    They're no disgrace, for there's much the same trace
    On the cheeks of our bravest tars.
    Then again I sing 'till the roof doth ring,
    And it echoes from wall to wall--
    To the stout old wight, fair welcome to-night,
    As the King of the Seasons all!

       *       *       *       *       *

    A VISIT FROM ST. NICHOLAS

    CLEMENT C. MOORE

    'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
    Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
    The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
    In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
    The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
    While visions of sugar-plums danced through their heads;
    And mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
    Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap,--
    When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
    I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
    Away to the window I flew like a flash,
    Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
    The moon, on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
    Gave a lustre of midday to objects below;
    When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
    But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer,
    With a little old driver, so lively and quick
    I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
    More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
    And he whistled and shouted and called them by name:
    "Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
    On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
    To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall!
    Now, dash away, dash away, dash away all!"
    As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
    When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
    So, up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
    With a sleigh full of toys,--and St. Nicholas too.
    And then in a twinkling I heard on the roof
    The prancing and pawing of each little hoof,
    As I drew in my head and was turning around,
    Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
    He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot,
    And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
    A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
    And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
    His eyes how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
    His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
    His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
    And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
    The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
    And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
    He had a broad face, and a little round belly
    That shook, when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
    He was chubby and plump,--a right jolly old elf--
    And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
    A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
    Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
    He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
    And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
    And laying his finger aside of his nose,
    And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
    He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
    And away they all flew like the down of a thistle;
    But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight:
    "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

       *       *       *       *       *

A CHRISTMAS PIECE

Of garnered rhyme, from hidden stores of olden time that since the
language did begin, have welcomed merry Christmas in, and made the
winter nights so long, fleet by on wings of wine and song; for when the
snow is on the roof, the house within is sorrow proof, if yule log
blazes on the hearth, and cups and hearts o'er-brim with mirth. Then
bring the wassail to the board, with nuts and fruit--the winter's hoard;
and bid the children take off shoe, to hang their stockings by the flue;
and let the clear and frosty sky, set out its brightest jewelry, to show
old Santa Claus the road, so he may ease his gimcrack load. And with the
coming of these times, we'll add some old and lusty rhymes, that suit
the festive season well, and sound as sweet as Christmas bell.

Now just bethink of castle gate, where humble midnight mummers wait, to
try if voices, one and all, can rouse the tipsy seneschal, to give them
bread and beer and brawn, for tidings of the Christmas morn; or bid each
yelper clear his throat, with water of the castle moat, for thus they
used, by snow and torch, to rear their voices at the porch:

                                                _Fred S. Cozzens._

        *       *       *       *       *

    WASSAILER'S SONG

    ROBERT SOUTHWELL

    Wassail! wassail! all over the town,
    Our toast it is white, and our ale it is brown;
    Our bowl is made of a maplin tree;
    We be good fellows all;--I drink to thee.

    Here's to our horse, and to his right ear,
    God send master a happy new year;
    A happy new year as e'er he did see,--
    With my wassailing bowl I drink to thee.

    Here's to our mare, and to her right eye,
    God send our mistress a good Christmas pie;
    A good Christmas pie as e'er I did see,--
    With my wassailing bowl I drink to thee.

    Here's to our cow, and to her long tail,
    God send our measter us never may fail
    Of a cup of good beer: I pray you draw near,
    And our jolly wassail it's then you shall hear.

    Be here any maids? I suppose here be some;
    Sure they will not let young men stand on the cold stone!
    Sing hey O, maids! come trole back the pin,
    And the fairest maid in the house let us all in.

    Come, butler, come, bring us a bowl of the best;
    I hope your soul in heaven will rest;
    But if you do bring us a bowl of the small,
    Then down fall butler, and bowl and all.

               - - - - -

And here's a Christmas carol meant for children, and most excellent, and
though the monk that wrote it was hung, yet still his verses may be
sung.

    A CAROL

    As I in a hoarie winter's night
      Stood shivering in the snow,
    Surpriz'd I was with sudden heat,
      Which made my heart to glow;
    And lifting up a fearefull eye
      To view what fire was neere,
    A prettie babe, all burning bright,
      Did in the aire appeare;
    Who, scorchèd with excessive heat,
      Such flouds of teares did shed,
    As though his flouds should quench his flames,
      Which with his teares were bred:

    Alas! (quoth he) but newly borne,
      In fierie heats I frie,
    Yet none approach to warm their hearts,
      Or feele my fire, but I;
    My faultless brest the furnace is,
      The fuell, wounding thornes:
    Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke,
      The ashes, shames and scornes;
    The fuell justice layeth on,
      And mercy blows the coales,
    The metalls in this furnace wrought,
      Are Men's defiled soules:
    For which, as now on fire I am,
      To work them to their good,
    So will I melt into a bath,
      To wash them in my blood.
    With this he vanisht out of sight,
      And swiftly shrunke away,
    And straight I called unto minde
      That it was Christmasse Day.

       *       *       *       *       *

CHRISTMAS EVE

HAMILTON WRIGHT MABIE

[From "My Study Fire."]

The world has been full of mysteries to-day; everybody has gone about
weighted with secrets. The children's faces have fairly shone with
expectancy, and I enter easily into the universal dream which at this
moment holds all the children of Christendom under its spell. Was there
ever a wider or more loving conspiracy than that which keeps the
venerable figure of Santa Claus from slipping away, with all the other
oldtime myths, into the forsaken wonderland of the past? Of all the
personages whose marvelous doings once filled the minds of men, he alone
survives. He has outlived all the great gods, and all the impressive and
poetic conceptions which once flitted between heaven and earth; these
have gone, but Santa Claus remains by virtue of a common understanding
that childhood shall not be despoiled of one of its most cherished
beliefs, either by the mythologist, with his sun myth theory, or the
scientist, with his heartless diatribe against superstition. There is a
good deal more to be said on this subject, if this were the place to say
it; even superstition has its uses, and sometimes, its sound heart of
truth. He who does not see in the legend of Santa Claus a beautiful
faith on one side, and the naive embodiment of a divine fact on the
other, is not fit to have a place at the Christmas board. For him there
should be neither carol, nor holly, nor mistletoe; they only shall keep
the feast to whom all these things are but the outward and visible signs
of an inward and spiritual grace.

Rosalind and myself are thoroughly orthodox when it comes to the keeping
of holidays; here at least the ways of our fathers are our ways also.
Orthodoxy generally consists in retaining and emphasizing the
disagreeable ways of the fathers, and as we are both inclined to
heterodoxy on these points, we make the more prominent our observance of
the best of the old-time habits. I might preach a pleasant little sermon
just here, taking as my text the "survival of the fittest," and
illustrating the truth from our own domestic ritual; but the season
preaches its own sermon, and I should only follow the example of some
ministers and get between the text and my congregation if I made the
attempt. For weeks we have all been looking forward to this eventful
evening, and the still more eventful morrow. There have been hurried and
whispered conferences hastily suspended at the sound of a familiar step
on the stair; packages of every imaginable size and shape have been
surreptitiously introduced into the house, and have immediately
disappeared in all manner of out-of-the-way places; and for several
weeks past one room has been constantly under lock and key, visited only
when certain sharp-sighted eyes were occupied in other directions.
Through all this scene of mystery Rosalind has moved sedately and with
sealed lips, the common confidant of all the conspirators, and herself
the greatest conspirator of all. Blessed is the season which engages the
whole world in a conspiracy of love!

After dinner, eaten, let it be confessed, with more haste and less
accompaniment of talk than usual, the parlor doors were opened, and
there stood the Christmas tree in a glow of light, its wonderful
branches laden with all manner of strange fruits not to be found in the
botanies. The wild shouts, the merry laughter, the cries of delight as
one coveted fruit after another dropped into long-expectant arms still
linger in my ears now that the little tapers are burnt out, the boughs
left bare, and the actors in the perennial drama are fast asleep, with
new and strange bedfellows selected from the spoils of the night.
Cradled between a delightful memory and a blissful anticipation, who
does not envy them?

After this charming prelude is over, Rosalind comes into the study, and
studies for the fortieth time the effect of the new design of decoration
which she had this year worked out, and which gives these rather somber
rows of books a homelike and festive aspect. It pleases me to note the
spray of holly that obscures the title of Bacon's solemn and weighty
"Essays," and I get half a page of suggestions for my notebook from the
fact that a sprig of mistletoe has fallen on old Burton's "Anatomy of
Melancholy." Rosalind has reason to be satisfied, and if I read her face
aright she has succeeded even in her own eyes in bringing Christmas,
with its fragrant memories and its heavenly visions, into the study. I
cannot help thinking, as I watch her piling up the fire for a blaze of
unusual splendor, that if more studies had their Rosalinds to bring in
the genial currents of life there would be more cheer and hope and
large-hearted wisdom in the books which the world is reading to-day.

When the fire has reached a degree of intensity and magnitude which
Rosalind thinks adequate to the occasion, I take down a well-worn volume
which opens of itself at a well-worn page. It is a book which I have
read and re-read many times, and always with a kindling sympathy and
affection for the man who wrote it; in whatever mood I take it up there
is something in it which touches me with a sense of kinship. It is not a
great book, but it is a book of the heart, and books of the heart have
passed beyond the outer court of criticism before we bestow upon them
that phrase of supreme regard. There are other books of the heart around
me, but on Christmas Eve it is Alexander Smith's "Dreamthorp" which
always seems to lie at my hand, and when I take it up the well-worn
volume falls open at the essay on "Christmas." It is a good many years
since Rosalind and I began to read together on Christmas Eve this
beautiful meditation on the season, and now it has gathered about itself
such a host of memories that it has become part of our common past. It
is, indeed, a veritable palimpsest, overlaid with tender and gracious
recollections out of which the original thought gains a new and subtle
sweetness. As I read it aloud I know that she sees once more the
familiar landscape about Dreamthorp, with the low, dark hill in the
background, and over it "the tender radiance that precedes the moon";
the village windows are all lighted, and the "whole place shines like a
congregation of glowworms." There are the skaters still "leaning against
the frosty wind"; there is the "gray church tower amid the leafless
elms," around which the echoes of the morning peal of Christmas bells
still hover; the village folk have gathered, "in their best dresses and
their best faces"; the beautiful service of the church has been read and
answered with heartfelt responses, the familiar story has been told
again simply and urgently, with applications for every thankful soul,
and then the congregation has gone to its homes and its festivities.

All these things, I am sure, lie within Rosalind's vision, although she
seems to see nothing but the ruddy blaze of the fire; all these things I
see, as I have seen them these many Christmas Eves agone; but with this
familiar landscape there are mingled all the sweet and sorrowful
memories of our common life, recalled at this hour that the light of the
highest truth may interpret them anew in the divine language of hope. I
read on until I come to the quotation from the "Hymn to the Nativity,"
and then I close the book, and take up a copy of Milton close at hand.
We have had our commemoration service of love, and now there comes into
our thought, with the organ roll of this sublime hymn, the universal
truth which lies at the heart of the season. I am hardly conscious that
it is my voice which makes these words audible: I am conscious only of
this mighty-voiced anthem, fit for the choral song of the morning stars:

      "Ring out, ye crystal spheres,
      And bless our human ears,
    If ye have power to touch our senses so;
      And let your silver chime
      Move in melodious time;
    And let the bass of heaven's deep organ blow;
    And, with your ninefold harmony,
    Make up full concert to the angelic symphony.

      "For, if such holy song
      Enwrap our fancy long,
    Time will run back and fetch the age of gold;
      And speckled vanity
      Will sicken soon and die,
    And leprous sin will melt from earthly mold;
    And hell itself will pass away,
    And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day.

                   - - - - -

      "The oracles are dumb,
      No voice or hideous hum
    Runs through the archéd roof in words deceiving;
      Apollo from his shrine
      Can no more divine
    With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving,
    No nightly trance or breathed spell
    Inspires the pale-eyed priest from the prophetic cell.

      "The lonely mountains o'er,
      And the resounding shore,
    A voice of weeping heard and loud lament;
      From haunted spring, and dale
      Edgéd with poplars pale,
    The parting genius is with sighing sent;
    With flower-enwoven tresses torn,
    The nymphs in twilight shades of tangled thickets mourn."

               - - - - -

Like a psalm the great Hymn fills the air, and like a psalm it remains
in the memory. The fire has burned low, and a soft and solemn light
fills the room. Neither of us speaks while the clock strikes twelve. I
look out of the window. The heavens are ablaze with light, and somewhere
amid those circling constellations I know that a new star has found its
place, and is shining with such a ray as never before fell from heaven
to earth.

       *       *       *       *       *

    CHRISTMAS IN THE OLDEN TIME

    WALTER SCOTT

    On Christmas-eve the bells were rung;
    The damsel donned her kirtle sheen;
    The hall was dressed with holly green;
    Forth to the wood did merry men go,
    To gather in the mistletoe.
    Thus opened wide the baron's hall
    To vassal, tenant, serf and all;
    Power laid his rod of rule aside
    And ceremony doffed 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 hailed, with uncontrolled 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,
    Scrubbed 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 frowned on high,
    Crested with bays and rosemary.
    Well can the green-garbed ranger tell
    How, when and where the monster fell;
    What dogs before his death he tore,
    And all the baitings of the boar.
    The wassal round, in good brown bowls,
    Garnished with ribbons, blithely trowls.
    There the huge sirloin reeked: hard by
    Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas pye;
    Nor failed old Scotland to produce,
    At such high-tide, her savory goose.

    Then came the merry maskers in,
    And carols roared with blithesome din.
    If unmelodious was the song,
    It was a hearty note, and strong;
    Who lists may in their murmuring 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 broached the mightiest ale,
    'Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
    A Christmas gambol oft would cheer
    The poor man's heart through half the year.

       *       *       *       *       *

    SLY SANTA CLAUS

    MRS. C.S. STONE

    All the house was asleep,
      And the fire burning low,
    When, from far up the chimney,
      Came down a "Ho! ho!"
    And a little, round man,
      With a terrible scratching,
    Dropped into the room
      With a wink that was catching.
    Yes, down he came, bumping,
    And thumping, and jumping,
      And picking himself up without sign
           of a bruise!

    "Ho! ho!" he kept on,
    As if bursting with cheer.
    "Good children, gay children,
      Glad children, see here!
    I have brought you fine dolls,
      And gay trumpets, and rings,
    Noah's arks, and bright skates,
      And a host of good things!
    I have brought a whole sackful,
    A packful, a hackful!
      Come hither, come hither, come hither
           and choose!

    "Ho! ho! What is this?
      Why, they all are asleep!
    But their stockings are up,
      And my presents will keep!
    So, in with the candies,
      The books, and the toys;
    All the goodies I have
      For the good girls and boys.
    I'll ram them, and jam them,
    And slam them, and cram them;
      All the stockings will hold while the
          tired youngsters snooze."

    All the while his round shoulders
      Kept ducking and ducking;
    And his little, fat fingers
      Kept tucking and tucking;
    Until every stocking
      Bulged out, on the wall,
    As if it were bursting,
      And ready to fall.

    And then, all at once,
      With a whisk and a whistle,
    And twisting himself
      Like a tough bit of gristle,
    He bounced up again,
      Like the down of a thistle,
        And nothing was left but the prints of his shoes.

       *       *       *       *       *

    THE WAITS

    MARGARET DELAND

    At the break of Christmas Day,
      Through the frosty starlight ringing,
    Faint and sweet and far away,
      Comes the sound of children, singing,
        Chanting, singing,
          _"Cease to mourn,
          For Christ is born,
      Peace and joy to all men bringing!"_

    Careless that the chill winds blow,
      Growing stronger, sweeter, clearer,
    Noiseless footfalls in the snow
      Bring the happy voices nearer;
        Hear them singing,
          _"Winter's drear,
          But Christ is here,
      Mirth and gladness with Him bringing!"_

    "Merry Christmas!" hear them say,
      As the East is growing lighter;
    "May the joy of Christmas Day
      Make your whole year gladder, brighter!"
        Join their singing,
          _"To each home
          Our Christ has come,
    All Love's treasures with Him bringing!"_

       *       *       *       *       *

    THE KNIGHTING OF THE SIRLOIN OF BEEF BY CHARLES THE SECOND

    ANON

    The Second Charles of England
      Rode forth one Christmas tide,
    To hunt a gallant stag of ten,
      Of Chingford woods the pride.

    The winds blew keen, the snow fell fast,
      And made for earth a pall,
    As tired steeds and wearied men
      Returned to Friday Hall.

    The blazing logs, piled on the dogs,
      Were pleasant to behold!
    And grateful was the steaming feast
      To hungry men and cold.

    With right good-will all took their fill,
      And soon each found relief;
    Whilst Charles his royal trencher piled
      From one huge loin of beef.

    Quoth Charles, "Odd's fish! a noble dish!
      Ay, noble made by me!
    By kingly right, I dub thee knight--
      Sir Loin henceforward be!"

    And never was a royal jest
      Received with such acclaim:
    And never knight than good Sir Loin
      More worthy of the name.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE CHRISTMAS GOOSE AT THE CRATCHITS'

CHARLES DICKENS

You might have thought a goose the rarest of all birds; a feathered
phenomenon, to which a black swan was a matter of course; and in truth,
it was something like it in that house. Mrs. Cratchit made the gravy
(ready before-hand in a little saucepan) hissing hot; Master Peter
mashed the potatoes with incredible vigor; Miss Belinda sweetened up the
apple-sauce; Martha dusted the hot plates; Bob took Tiny Tim beside him
in a tiny corner, at the table; the two young Cratchits set chairs for
everybody, not forgetting themselves, and mounting guard upon their
posts, crammed spoons into their mouths, lest they should shriek for
goose before their turn came to be helped. At last the dishes were set
on, and grace was said. It was succeeded by a breathless pause, as Mrs.
Cratchit, looking slowly all along the carving knife, prepared to plunge
it in the breast; but when she did, and when the long-expected gush of
stuffing issued forth, one murmur of delight arose all around the board,
and even Tiny Tim, excited by the two young Cratchits, beat on the table
with the handle of his knife, and feebly cried hurrah!

There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn't believe there ever was
such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavor, size and cheapness, were
the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by the apple-sauce and
mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family;
indeed, as Mrs. Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small
atom of a bone on the dish), they hadn't ate it all at last! Yet every
one had had enough, and the youngest Cratchits in particular were
steeped in sage and onion to the eye-brows! But now, the plates being
changed by Miss Belinda, Mrs. Cratchit left the room alone--too nervous
to bear witnesses--to take the pudding up, and bring it in.

Suppose it should not be done enough! Suppose it should break in turning
out! Suppose somebody should have got over the wall of the backyard, and
stolen it, while they were merry with the goose; a supposition at which
the two young Cratchits became livid! All sorts of horrors were
supposed.

Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell
like a washing-day! That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and
a pastry cook's next door to each other, with a laundress next door to
that! That was the pudding. In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered,
flushed, but smiling proudly, with the pudding like a speckled
cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of
ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.

Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that he
regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since
their marriage. Mrs. Cratchit said that now the weight was off her mind,
she would confess she had had her doubts about the quantity of flour.
Everybody had something to say about it, but nobody said or thought it
was at all a small pudding for so large a family. It would have been
flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such a
thing.

At last the dinner was all done, the cloth was cleared, the hearth
swept, and the fire made up. The compound in the jug being tasted and
considered perfect, apples and oranges were put upon the table, and a
shovelful of chestnuts on the fire. Then all the Cratchit family drew
round the hearth, in what Bob Cratchit called a circle, meaning half a
one; and at Bob Cratchit's elbow stood the family display of glass--two
tumblers, and a custard-cup without a handle.

These held the hot stuff from the jug, however, as well as golden
goblets would have done; and Bob served it out with beaming looks, while
the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and cracked noisily. Then Bob
proposed:

"A merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!"

Which all the family re-echoed.

"God bless us every one!" said Tiny Tim, the last of all.

       *       *       *       *       *

    GOD BLESS US EVERY ONE

    JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY

    [From "Sketches in Prose."]

    "God bless us every one!" prayed Tiny Tim,
      Crippled, and dwarfed of body, yet so tall
    Of soul, we tiptoe earth to look on him,
          High towering over all.

    He loved the loveless world, nor dreamed, indeed,
      That it, at best, could give to him, the while,
    But pitying glances, when his only need
          Was but a cheery smile.

    And thus he prayed, "God bless us every one!"
      Enfolding all the creeds within the span
    Of his child-heart; and so, despising none,
          Was nearer saint than man.

    I like to fancy God, in Paradise,
      Lifting a finger o'er the rhythmic swing
    Of chiming harp and song, with eager eyes
          Turned earthward, listening--

    The Anthem stilled--the angels leaning there
      Above the golden walls--the morning sun
    Of Christmas bursting flower-like with the prayer,
          "God bless us Every One!"

       *       *       *       *       *

    BELLS ACROSS THE SNOWS

    FRANCES RIDLEY HAVERGAL

    O Christmas, merry Christmas!
      Is it really come again,
    With its memories and greetings,
      With its joy and with its pain?
    There's a minor in the carol,
      And a shadow in the light,
    And a spray of cypress twining
      With the holly wreath to-night.
    And the hush is never broken
      By laughter light and low,
    As we listen in the starlight
      To the "bells across the snow."

    O Christmas, merry Christmas!
      'Tis not so very long
    Since other voices blended
      With the carol and the song!
    If we could but hear them singing
      As they are singing now,
    If we could but see the radiance
      Of the crown on each dear brow;
    There would be no sigh to smother,
      No hidden tear to flow,
    As we listen in the starlight
      To the "bells across the snow."

    O Christmas, merry Christmas!
      This never more can be;
    We cannot bring again the days
      Of our unshadowed glee.
    But Christmas, happy Christmas,
      Sweet herald of good-will,
    With holy songs of glory
      Brings holy gladness still.
    For peace and hope may brighten,
      And patient love may glow,
    As we listen in the starlight
      To the "bells across the snow."

       *       *       *       *       *

    CHRISTMAS BELLS

    HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

    I heard the bells on Christmas Day
    Their old, familiar carols play,
      And wild and sweet
      The words repeat
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And thought how, as the day had come,
    The belfries of all Christendom
      Had rolled along
      The unbroken song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Till, ringing, swinging on its way,
    The world revolved from night to day
      A voice, a chime,
      A chant sublime
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Then from each black, accursèd mouth
    The cannon thundered in the South
      And with the sound
      The carols drowned
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    It was as if an earthquake rent
    The hearth-stones of a continent,
      And made forlorn
      The households born
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And in despair I bowed my head;
    "There is no peace on earth," I said;
      "For hate is strong
      And mocks the song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep.
    "God is not dead; nor doth He sleep!
      The Wrong shall fail,
      The Right prevail,
    With peace on earth, good-will to men!"

       *       *       *       *       *

    MINSTRELS AND MAIDS

    WILLIAM MORRIS

    Outlanders, whence come ye last?
      _The snow in the street and the wind on the door._
    Through what green seas and great have ye past?
      _Minstrels and maids, stand forth on the floor._

    From far away, O masters mine,
      _The snow in the street and the wind on the door._
    We come to bear you goodly wine,
      _Minstrels and maids, stand forth on the floor._

    From far away we come to you,
      _The snow in the street and the wind on the door._
    To tell of great tidings strange and true,
      _Minstrels and maids, stand forth on the floor._

    News, news of the Trinity,
      _The snow in the street and the wind on the door._
    And Mary and Joseph from over the sea!
      _Minstrels and maids, stand forth on the floor._

    For as we wandered far and wide,
      _The snow in the street and the wind on the door._
    What hap do you deem there should us betide!
      _Minstrels and maids, stand forth on the floor._

    Under a bent when the night was deep,
      _The snow in the street and the wind on the door._
    There lay three shepherds tending their sheep.
      _Minstrels and maids, stand forth on the floor._

    "O ye shepherds, what have ye seen,
      _The snow in the street and the wind on the door._
    To slay your sorrow, and heal your teen?"
      _Minstrels and maids, stand forth on the floor._

    "In an ox-stall this night we saw,
      _The snow in the street and the wind on the door._
    A babe and a maid without a flaw.
      _Minstrels and maids, stand forth on the floor._

    "There was an old man there beside,
      _The snow in the street and the wind on the door._
    His hair was white and his hood was wide.
      _Minstrels and maids, stand forth on the floor._

    "And as we gazed this thing upon,
      _The snow in the street and the wind on the door._
    Those twain knelt down to the Little One,
      _Minstrels and maids, stand forth on the floor._

    "And a marvellous song we straight did hear,
      _The snow in the street and the wind on the door._
    That slew our sorrow and healed our care."
      _Minstrels and maids, stand forth on the floor._

    News of a fair and marvellous thing,
      _The snow in the street and the wind on the door._
    Nowell, nowell, nowell, we sing!
      _Minstrels and maids, stand forth on the floor._

       *       *       *       *       *

INEXHAUSTIBILITY OF THE SUBJECT OF CHRISTMAS

LEIGH HUNT

So many things have been said of late years about Christmas, that it is
supposed by some there is no saying more. O they of little faith! What!
do they suppose that every thing has been said that _can_ be said about
any one Christmas thing?

    About beef, for instance?
    About plum-pudding?
    About mince-pie?
    About holly?
    About ivy?
    About rosemary?
    About mistletoe? (Good Heavens! what an immense number of things
    remain to be said about mistletoe!)
    About Christmas Eve?
    About hunt-the-slipper?
    About hot cockles?
    About blind-man's-buff?
    About shoeing the wild-mare?
    About thread-the-needle?
    About he-can-do-little-that-can't-do-this?
    About puss-in-the-corner?
    About snap-dragon?
    About forfeits?
    About Miss Smith?
    About the bell-man?
    About the waits?
    About chilblains?
    About carols?
    About the fire?
    About the block on it?
    About school-boys?
    About their mothers?
    About Christmas-boxes?
    About turkeys?
    About Hogmany?
    About goose-pie?
    About mumming?
    About saluting the apple-trees?
    About brawn?
    About plum-porridge?
    About hobby-horse?
    About hoppings?
    About wakes?
    About "feed-the-dove"?
    About hackins?
    About yule-doughs?
    About going-a-gooding?
    About loaf-stealing?
    About _Julklaps_? (Who has exhausted that subject,
      we should like to know?)
    About wad-shooting?
    About elder-wine?
    About pantomimes?
    About cards?
    About New-Year's Day?
    About gifts?
    About wassail?
    About Twelfth-cake?
    About king and queen?
    About characters?
    About eating too much?
    About aldermen?
    About the doctor?
    About all being in the wrong?
    About charity?
    About all being in the right?
    About faith, hope, and endeavor?
    About the greatest plum-pudding for the greatest number?

_Esto perpetua_,--that is, faith, hope and charity, and endeavor; and
plum-pudding enough by and by, all the year round, for everybody that
likes it. Why that should not be the case, we cannot see,--seeing that
the earth is big, and human kind teachable, and God very good, and
inciting us to do it. Meantime, gravity apart, we ask anybody whether
any of the above subjects are exhausted; and we inform everybody, that
all the above customs still exist in some parts of our beloved country,
however unintelligible they may have become in others. But to give a
specimen of the non-exhaustion of any one of their topics.

Beef, for example. Now, we should like to know who has exhausted the
subject of the fine old roast Christmas piece of beef, from its original
appearance in the meadows as part of the noble sultan of the herd,
glorious old Taurus,--the lord of the sturdy brow and ponderous agility,
a sort of thunderbolt of a beast, well chosen by Jove to disguise in,
one of Nature's most striking compounds of apparent heaviness and
unencumbered activity,--up to its contribution to the noble
Christmas-dinner, smoking from the spit, and flanked by the outposts of
Bacchus. John Bull (cannibalism apart) hails it like a sort of relation.
He makes it part of his flesh and blood; glories in it; was named after
it; has it served up, on solemn occasions, with music and a hymn, as it
was the other day at the royal city dinner:--

    "Oh the roast beef of old England!
    And oh the old English roast beef!"

"_And_ oh!" observe, not merely "oh!" again; but "and" with it; as if,
though the same piece of beef, it were also another,--another and the
same,--cut, and come again; making two of one, in order to express
intensity and reduplication of satisfaction:--

    "Oh the roast beef of old England!
    _And_ oh the old English roast beef!"

We beg to assure the reader, that a whole _Seer_ might be written on
this single point of the Christmas-dinner; and "shall we be told" (as
orators exclaim), "and this, too, in a British land," that the subject
is "_exhausted_"!

Then plum-pudding! What a word is that! how plump and plump again! How
round and repeated and plenipotential! (There are two p's, observe, in
plenipotential; and so there are in plum-pudding. We love an exquisite
fitness,--a might and wealth of adaptation). Why, the whole round cheek
of universal childhood is in the idea of plum-pudding; ay, and the
weight of manhood, and the plenitude of the majesty of city dames.
Wealth itself is symbolized by the least of its fruity particles. "A
plum" is a city fortune,--a million of money. He (the old boy, who has
earned it)--

    "Puts in his thumb,

_videlicet_, into his pocket,

    And pulls out a plum,
    And says, What a _good man_ am I!"

Observe a little boy at a Christmas-dinner, and his grandfather opposite
him. What a world of secret similarity there is between them! How hope
in one, and retrospection in the other, and appetite in both, meet over
the same ground of pudding, and understand it to a nicety! How the
senior banters the little boy on his third slice! and how the little boy
thinks within himself that he dines that day as well as the senior! How
both look hot and red and smiling, and juvenile. How the little boy is
conscious of the Christmas-box in his pocket! (of which, indeed, the
grandfather jocosely puts him in mind); and how the grandfather is quite
as conscious of the plum, or part of a plum, or whatever fraction it may
be, in his own! How he incites the little boy to love money and good
dinners all his life! and how determined the little boy is to abide by
his advice,--with a secret addition in favor of holidays and
marbles,--to which there is an analogy, in the senior's mind, on the
side of trips to Hastings, and a game at whist! Finally, the old
gentleman sees his own face in the pretty smooth one of the child; and
if the child is not best pleased at his proclamation of the likeness (in
truth, is horrified at it, and thinks it a sort of madness), yet nice
observers, who have lived long enough to see the wonderful changes in
people's faces from youth to age, probably discern the thing well
enough, and feel a movement of pathos at their hearts in considering the
world of trouble and emotion that is the causer of the changes. _That_
old man's face was once like that little boy's! _That_ little boy's will
be one day like that old man's! What a thought to make us all love and
respect one another, if not for our fine qualities, let at least for the
trouble and sorrow which we all go through!

Ay, and joy too; for all people have their joys as well as troubles, at
one time or another,--most likely both together, or in constant
alternation: and the greater part of troubles are not the worst things
in the world, but only graver forms of the requisite motion of the
universe, or workings towards a better condition of things, the greater
or less violent according as we give them violence, or respect them like
awful but not ill-meaning gods, and entertain them with a rewarded
patience. Grave thoughts, you will say, for Christmas. But no season has
a greater right to grave thoughts, in passing; and, for that very
reason, no season has a greater right to let them pass, and recur to
more light ones.

So a noble and merry season to you, my masters; and may we meet, thick
and three-fold, many a time and oft, in blithe yet most thoughtful
pages! Fail not to call to mind, in the course of the 25th of this
month, that the divinest Heart that ever walked the earth was born on
that day: and then smile and enjoy yourselves for the rest of it; for
mirth is also of Heaven's making, and wondrous was the wine-drinking at
Galilee.

       *       *       *       *       *

    SONG OF THE HOLLY

    WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

        Blow, blow thou winter wind--
        Thou art not so unkind
            As man's ingratitude!
        Thy tooth is not so keen,
        Because thou art not seen,
            Although thy breath be rude.
    Heigh ho! sing heigh ho! unto the green holly:
    Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly.
        Then heigh ho! the holly!
        This life is most jolly!

        Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky--
        Thou dost not bite so nigh
            As benefits forgot!
        Though thou the waters warp,
        Thy sting is not so sharp
            As friend remembered not.
    Heigh ho! sing heigh ho! unto the green holly,
    Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly.
        Then heigh ho, the holly!
        This life is most jolly!

       *       *       *       *       *

    UNDER THE HOLLY-BOUGH

    CHARLES MACKAY

    Ye who have scorned each other,
    Or injured friend or brother,
      In this fast-fading year;
    Ye who, by word or deed,
    Have made a kind heart bleed,
      Come gather here!
    Let sinned against and sinning
    Forget their strife's beginning,
      And join in friendship now.
    Be links no longer broken,
    Be sweet forgiveness spoken
      Under the Holly-Bough.

    Ye who have loved each other,
    Sister and friend and brother,
      In this fast-fading year:
    Mother and sire and child,
    Young man and maiden mild,
      Come gather here;
    And let your heart grow fonder,
    As memory shall ponder
      Each past unbroken vow;
    Old loves and younger wooing
    Are sweet in the renewing
      Under the Holly-Bough.

    Ye who have nourished sadness,
    Estranged from hope and gladness
      In this fast-fading year;
    Ye with o'erburdened mind,
    Made aliens from your kind,
      Come gather here.
    Let not the useless sorrow
    Pursue you night and morrow,
      If e'er you hoped, hope now.
    Take heart,--uncloud your faces,
    And join in our embraces
      Under the Holly-Bough.

       *       *       *       *       *

    CEREMONIES FOR CHRISTMAS

    ROBERT HERRICK

      Come, bring with a noise,
      My merry, merry boys,
    The Christmas log to the firing,
      While my good dame, she
      Bids ye all be free,
    And drink to your heart's desiring.

      With the last year's brand
      Light the new block, and
    For good success in his spending,
      On your psalteries play,
      That sweet luck may
    Come while the log is a-teending.

      Drink now the strong beer,
      Cut the white loaf here,
    The while the meat is a-shredding;
      For the rare mince-pie,
      And the plums stand by,
    To fill the paste that's a kneading.

       *       *       *       *       *

    SANTA CLAUS

    ANON

    He comes in the night! He comes in the night!
      He softly, silently comes;
    While the little brown heads on the pillows so white
      Are dreaming of bugles and drums.
    He cuts through the snow like a ship through the foam,
      While the white flakes around him whirl;
    Who tells him I know not, but he findeth the home
      Of each good little boy and girl.

    His sleigh it is long, and deep, and wide;
      It will carry a host of things,
    While dozens of drums hang over the side,
      With the sticks sticking under the strings:
    And yet not the sound of a drum is heard,
      Not a bugle blast is blown,
    As he mounts to the chimney-top like a bird,
      And drops to the hearth like a stone.

    The little red stockings he silently fills,
      Till the stockings will hold no more;
    The bright little sleds for the great snow hills
     Are quickly set down on the floor.
    Then Santa Claus mounts to the roof like a bird,
      And glides to his seat in the sleigh;
    Not the sound of a bugle or drum is heard
      As he noiselessly gallops away.

    He rides to the East, and he rides to the West,
      Of his goodies he touches not one;
    He eateth the crumbs of the Christmas feast
      When the dear little folks are done.
    Old Santa Claus doeth all that he can;
      This beautiful mission is his;
    Then, children, be good to the little old man,
      When you find who the little man is.

       *       *       *       *       *

    THE CEREMONIES FOR CHRISTMAS DAY

    ROBERT HERRICK

    Kindle the Christmas brand, and then
      Till sunset let it burn;
    Which quench'd, then lay it up again
      Till Christmas next return.

    Part must be kept wherewith to teend
      The Christmas log next year,
    And where 'tis safely kept, the fiend
      Can do no mischief there.

       *       *       *       *       *

    DECEMBER

    HARRIET F. BLODGETT

    I

    Oh! holly branch and mistletoe.
      And Christmas chimes where'er we go.
    And stockings pinned up in a row!
      These are thy gifts, December!

    II

    And if the year has made thee old,
      And silvered all thy locks of gold,
    Thy heart has never been a-cold
      Or known a fading ember.

    III

    The whole world is a Christmas tree,
      And stars its many candles be.
    Oh! sing a carol joyfully
      The year's great feast in keeping!

    IV

    For once, on a December night
      An angel held a candle bright.
    And led three wise men by its light
      To where a child was sleeping.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE FESTIVAL OF ST. NICHOLAS

MARY MAPES DODGE

We all know how, before the Christmas-tree began to flourish in the
home-life of our country, a certain "right jolly old elf," with "eight
tiny reindeer," used to drive his sleigh-load of toys up to our
housetops, and then bound down the chimney to fill the stockings so
hopefully hung by the fireplace. His friends called him Santa Claus; and
those who were most intimate ventured to say, "Old Nick." It was said
that he originally came from Holland. Doubtless he did; but, if so, he
certainly, like many other foreigners, changed his ways very much after
landing upon our shores. In Holland, St. Nicholas is a veritable saint,
and often appears in full costume, with his embroidered robes glittering
with gems and gold, his mitre, his crosier, and his jewelled gloves.
_Here_ Santa Claus comes rollicking along on the 25th of December, our
Holy Christmas morn; but in Holland, St. Nicholas visits earth on the
5th, a time especially appropriated to him. Early on the morning of the
6th, which is St. Nicholas Day, he distributes his candies, toys and
treasures, and then vanishes for a year.

Christmas Day is devoted by the Hollanders to church-rites and pleasant
family visiting. It is on St. Nicholas Eve that their young people
become half wild with joy and expectation. To some of them it is a sorry
time; for the saint is very candid, and, if any of them have been bad
during the past year, he is quite sure to tell them so. Sometimes he
carries a birch-rod under his arm, and advises the parents to give them
scoldings in place of confections, and floggings instead of joys.

It was well that the boys hastened to their abodes on that bright winter
evening; for, in less than an hour afterwards, the saint made his
appearance in half the homes of Holland. He visited the king's palace,
and in the self-same moment appeared in Annie Bouman's comfortable home.
Probably one of our silver half-dollars would have purchased all that
his saintship left at the peasant Bouman's. But a half-dollar's worth
will sometimes do for the poor what hundreds of dollars may fail to do
for the rich: it makes them happy and grateful, fills them with new
peace and love.

Hilda van Gleck's little brothers and sisters were in a high state of
excitement that night. They had been admitted into the grand parlor:
they were dressed in their best, and had been given two cakes apiece at
supper. Hilda was as joyous as any. Why not? St. Nicholas would never
cross a girl of fourteen from his list, just because she was tall and
looked almost like a woman. On the contrary, he would probably exert
himself to do honor to such an august-looking damsel. Who could tell? So
she sported and laughed and danced as gayly as the youngest, and was the
soul of all their merry games. Father, mother and grandmother looked on
approvingly; so did grandfather, before he spread his large red
handkerchief over his face, leaving only the top of his skull-cap
visible. This kerchief was his ensign of sleep.

Earlier in the evening, all had joined in the fun. In the general
hilarity, there had seemed to be a difference only in bulk between
grandfather and the baby. Indeed, a shade of solemn expectation, now and
then flitting across the faces of the younger members, had made them
seem rather more thoughtful than their elders.

Now the spirit of fun reigned supreme. The very flames danced and
capered in the polished grate. A pair of prim candles, that had been
staring at the astral lamp, began to wink at other candles far away in
the mirrors. There was a long bell-rope suspended from the ceiling in
the corner, made of glass beads, netted over a cord nearly as thick as
your wrist. It generally hung in the shadow, and made no sign; but
to-night it twinkled from end to end. Its handle of crimson glass sent
reckless dashes of red at the papered wall, turning its dainty blue
stripes into purple. Passers-by halted to catch the merry laughter
floating through curtain and sash into the street, then skipped on their
way with the startled consciousness that the village was wide awake. At
last matters grew so uproarious that the grandsire's red kerchief came
down from his face with a jerk. What decent old gentleman could sleep in
such a racket! Mynheer van Gleck regarded his children with
astonishment. The baby even showed symptoms of hysterics. It was high
time to attend to business. Mevrouw suggested that, if they wished to
see the good St. Nicholas, they should sing the same loving invitation
that had brought him the year before.

The baby stared, and thrust his fist into his mouth, as Mynheer put him
down upon the floor. Soon he sat erect, and looked with a sweet scowl at
the company. With his lace and embroideries, and his crown of blue
ribbon and whalebone (for he was not quite past the tumbling age), he
looked like the king of babies.

The other children, each holding a pretty willow basket, formed at once
in a ring, and moved slowly around the little fellow, lifting their eyes
meanwhile; for the saint to whom they were about to address themselves
was yet in mysterious quarters.

Mevrouw commenced playing softly upon the piano; soon the voices
rose,--gentle, youthful voices, rendered all the sweeter for their
tremor,--

    "Welcome, friend! St. Nicholas, welcome!
      Bring no rod for us to-night!
    While our voices bid thee welcome,
      Every heart with joy is light.

        "Tell us every fault and failing;
        We will bear thy keenest railing
        So we sing, so we sing:
        Thou shalt tell us everything!

    "Welcome, friend! St. Nicholas, welcome!
      Welcome to this merry band!
    Happy children greet thee, welcome!
      Thou art gladdening all the land.

        "Fill each empty hand and basket;
        'T is thy little ones who ask it.
        So we sing, so we sing:
        Thou wilt bring us everything!"

During the chorus, sundry glances, half in eagerness, half in dread, had
been cast towards the polished folding-doors. Now a loud knocking was
heard. The circle was broken in an instant. Some of the little ones,
with a strange mixture of fear and delight, pressed against their
mother's knee. Grandfather bent forward, with his chin resting upon his
hand; grandmother lifted her spectacles; Mynheer van Gleck, seated by
the fireplace, slowly drew his meerschaum from his mouth; while Hilda
and the other children settled themselves beside him in an expectant
group.

The knocking was heard again.

"Come in," said the mevrouw, softly.

The door slowly opened; and St. Nicholas, in full array, stood before
them. You could have heard a pin drop. Soon he spoke. What a mysterious
majesty in his voice! what kindliness in his tone!

"Karel van Gleck, I am pleased to greet thee, and thy honored _vrouw_,
Kathrine, and thy son, and his good _vrouw_, Annie.

"Children, I greet ye all,--Hendrick, Hilda, Broom, Katy, Huygens and
Lucretia. And thy cousins,--Wolfert, Diedrich, Mayken, Voost and
Katrina. Good children ye have been, in the main, since I last accosted
ye. Diedrich was rude at the Haarlem fair last fall; but he has tried to
atone for it since. Mayken has failed, of late, in her lessons; and too
many sweets and trifles have gone to her lips, and too few stivers to
her charity-box. Diedrich, I trust, will be a polite, manly boy for the
future; and Mayken will endeavor to shine as a student. Let her
remember, too, that economy and thrift are needed in the foundation of a
worthy and generous life. Little Katy has been cruel to the cat more
than once. St. Nicholas can hear the cat cry when its tail is pulled. I
will forgive her, if she will remember from this hour that the smallest
dumb creatures have feeling, and must not be abused."

As Katy burst into a frightened cry, the saint graciously remained
silent until she was soothed.

"Master Broom," he resumed, "I warn thee that boys who are in the habit
of putting snuff upon the foot-stove of the school-mistress may one day
be discovered, and receive a flogging--"

(Master Broom colored, and stared in great astonishment.)

"But, thou art such an excellent scholar, I shall make thee no further
reproof.

"Thou, Hendrick, didst distinguish thyself in the archery match last
spring, and hit the _doel_,[A] though the bird was swung before it to
unsteady thine eye. I give thee credit for excelling in manly sport and
exercise; though I must not unduly countenance thy boat-racing, since it
leaves thee too little time for thy proper studies.

[Footnote A: Bull's-eye.]

"Lucretia and Hilda shall have a blessed sleep to-night. The
consciousness of kindness to the poor, devotion in their souls, and
cheerful, hearty obedience to household rule, will render them happy.

"With one and all I avow myself well content. Goodness, industry,
benevolence and thrift have prevailed in your midst. Therefore, my
blessing upon you; and may the New Year find all treading the paths of
obedience, wisdom and love! To-morrow you shall find more substantial
proofs that I have been in your home. Farewell!"

With these words came a great shower of sugar-plums upon a linen sheet
spread out in front of the doors. A general scramble followed. The
children fairly tumbled over each other in their eagerness to fill their
baskets. Mevrouw cautiously held the baby down upon the sheet till the
chubby little fists were filled. Then the bravest of the youngsters
sprang up and threw open the closed doors. In vain they searched the
mysterious apartment. St. Nicholas was nowhere to be seen.

Soon they all sped to another room, where stood a table, covered with
the whitest of linen damask. Each child, in a flutter of pleasure, laid
a shoe upon it, and each shoe held a little hay for the good saint's
horse. The door was then carefully locked, and its key hidden in the
mother's bedroom. Next followed good-night kisses, a grand family
procession to the upper floor, merry farewells at bedroom doors, and
silence, at last, reigned in the Van Gleck mansion.

Early the next morning, the door was solemnly unlocked and opened in the
presence of the assembled household; when, lo! a sight appeared, proving
good St. Nicholas to be a saint of his word.

Every shoe was filled to overflowing; and beside each stood a
many-colored pile. The table was heavy with its load of
presents,--candies, toys, trinkets, books and other articles. Every one
had gifts, from grandfather down to the baby.

       *       *       *       *       *

    THE CHRISTMAS HOLLY

    ELIZA COOK

    The holly! the holly! oh, twine it with bay--
      Come give the holly a song;
    For it helps to drive stern winter away,
      With his garment so sombre and long;

    It peeps through the trees with its berries of red,
      And its leaves of burnished green,
    When the flowers and fruits have long been dead,
      And not even the daisy is seen.
    Then sing to the holly, the Christmas holly,
      That hangs over peasant and king;
    While we laugh and carouse 'neath its glittering boughs,
      To the Christmas holly we'll sing.

    The gale may whistle, the frost may come
      To fetter the gurgling rill;
    The woods may be bare, and warblers dumb,
      But holly is beautiful still.
    In the revel and light of princely halls
      The bright holly branch is found;
    And its shadow falls on the lowliest walls,
      While the brimming horn goes round.

    The ivy lives long, but its home must be
      Where graves and ruins are spread;
    There's beauty about the cypress tree,
      But it flourishes near the dead;
    The laurel the warrior's brow may wreathe,
      But it tells of tears and blood;
    I sing the holly, and who can breathe
      Aught of that that is not good?

    Then sing to the holly, the Christmas holly,
      That hangs over peasant and king;
    While we laugh and carouse 'neath its glittering boughs,
      To the Christmas holly we'll sing.

       *       *       *       *       *

    TO THE FIR-TREE

    FROM THE GERMAN

    O Fir-tree green! O Fir-tree green!
      Your leaves are constant ever,
    Not only in the summer time,
    But through the winter's snow and rime
      You're fresh and green forever.

    O Fir-tree green! O Fir-tree green!
      I still shall love you dearly!
    How oft to me on Christmas night
    Your laden boughs have brought delight.
    O Fir-tree green! O Fir-tree green!
      I still shall love you dearly.

       *       *       *       *       *

    THE MAHOGANY-TREE

    WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY

    Christmas is here;
    Winds whistle shrill,
    Icy and chill,
    Little care we;
    Little we fear
    Weather without,
    Sheltered about
    The Mahogany-Tree.

    Once on the boughs
    Birds of rare plume
    Sang in its bloom;
    Night-birds are we;
    Here we carouse,
    Singing, like them,
    Perched round the stem
    Of the jolly old tree.

    Here let us sport,
    Boys, as we sit--
    Laughter and wit
    Flashing so free.
    Life is but short--
    When we are gone,
    Let them sing on,
    Round the old tree.

    Evenings we knew,
    Happy as this;
    Faces we miss,
    Pleasant to see.
    Kind hearts and true,
    Gentle and just,
    Peace to your dust!
    We sing round the tree.

    Care like a dun,
    Lurks at the gate;
    Let the dog wait;
    Happy we'll be!
    Drink, every one;
    Pile up the coals;
    Fill the red bowls,
    Round the old tree!

    Drain we the cup.--
    Friend, art afraid?
    Spirits are laid
    In the Red Sea.
    Mantle it up;
    Empty it yet;
    Let us forget,
    Round the old tree!

    Sorrows begone!
    Life and its ills,
    Duns and their bills,
    Bid we to flee.
    Come with the dawn,
    Blue-devil sprite;
    Leave us to-night,
    Round the old tree!

       *       *       *       *       *

CHRISTMAS

WASHINGTON IRVING

    But is old, old, good old Christmas gone? Nothing but the hair on
    his good, gray, old head and beard left? Well, I will have that,
    seeing I cannot have more of him.

                             Hue and Cry after Christmas.


    A man might then behold
      At Christmas, in each hall,
    Good fires to curb the cold,
      And meat for great and small.
    The neighbors were friendly bidden,
      And all had welcome true,
    The poor from the gates were not chidden,
      When this old cap was new.
                                  Old Song.



There is nothing in England that exercises a more delightful spell over
my imagination than the lingerings of the holiday customs and rural
games of former times. They recall the pictures my fancy used to draw in
the May morning of life, when as yet I only knew the world through
books, and believed it to be all that poets had painted it; and they
bring with them the flavor of those honest days of yore, in which,
perhaps with equal fallacy, I am apt to think the world was more
homebred, social, and joyous than at present. I regret to say that they
are daily growing more and more faint, being gradually worn away by
time, but still more obliterated by modern fashion. They resemble those
picturesque morsels of Gothic architecture, which we see crumbling in
various parts of the country, partly dilapidated by the waste of ages,
and partly lost in the additions and alterations of latter days. Poetry,
however, clings with cherishing fondness about the rural game and
holiday revel, from which it has derived so many of its themes--as the
ivy winds its rich foliage about the Gothic arch and mouldering tower,
gratefully repaying their support, by clasping together their tottering
remains, and, as it were, embalming them in verdure.

Of all the old festivals, however, that of Christmas awakens the
strongest and most heartfelt associations. There is a tone of solemn and
sacred feeling that blends with our conviviality, and lifts the spirit
to a state of hallowed and elevated enjoyment. The services of the
church about this season are extremely tender and inspiring: they dwell
on the beautiful story of the origin of our faith, and the pastoral
scenes that accompanied its announcement; they gradually increase in
fervor and pathos during the season of Advent, until they break forth in
full jubilee on the morning that brought peace and good-will to men. I
do not know a grander effect of music on the moral feelings than to hear
the full choir and the pealing organ performing a Christmas anthem in a
cathedral, and filling every part of the vast pile with triumphant
harmony.

It is a beautiful arrangement, also, derived from the days of yore, that
this festival, which commemorates the announcement of the religion of
peace and love, has been made the season for gathering together of
family connections, and drawing closer again those bands of kindred
hearts, which the cares and pleasures and sorrows of the world are
continually operating to cast loose; of calling back the children of a
family, who have launched forth in life, and wandered widely asunder,
once more to assemble about the paternal hearth, that rallying-place of
the affections, there to grow young and loving again among the endearing
mementos of childhood.

There is something in the very season of the year, that gives a charm to
the festivity of Christmas. At other times, we derive a great portion of
our pleasures from the mere beauties of Nature. Our feelings sally forth
and dissipate themselves over the sunny landscape, and we "live abroad
and everywhere." The song of the bird, the murmur of the stream, the
breathing fragrance of spring, the soft voluptuousness of summer, the
golden pomp of autumn; earth with its mantle of refreshing green, and
heaven with its deep, delicious blue and its cloudy magnificence,--all
fill us with mute but exquisite delight, and we revel in the luxury of
mere sensation. But in the depth of winter, when Nature lies despoiled
of every charm, and wrapped in her shroud of sheeted snow, we turn for
our gratifications to moral sources. The dreariness and desolation of
our landscape, the short gloomy days and darksome nights, while they
circumscribe our wanderings, shut in our feelings also from rambling
abroad, and make us more keenly disposed for the pleasures of the social
circle. Our thoughts are more concentrated; our friendly sympathies more
aroused. We feel more sensibly the charm of each other's society, and
are brought more closely together by dependence on each other for
enjoyment. Heart calleth unto heart, and we draw our pleasures from the
deep wells of living kindness which lie in the quiet recesses of our
bosoms; and which, when resorted to, furnish forth the pure element of
domestic felicity.

The pitchy gloom without makes the heart dilate on entering the room
filled with the glow and warmth of the evening fire. The ruddy blaze
diffuses an artificial summer and sunshine through the room, and lights
up each countenance with a kindlier welcome. Where does the honest face
of hospitality expand into a broader and more cordial smile--where is
the shy glance of love more sweetly eloquent--than by the winter
fireside? and as the hollow blast of wintry wind rushes through the
hall, claps the distant door, whistles about the casement, and rumbles
down the chimney, what can be more grateful than that feeling of sober
and sheltered security, with which we look around upon the comfortable
chamber, and the scene of domestic hilarity?

The English, from the great prevalence of rural habits throughout every
class of society, have always been fond of those festivals and holidays
which agreeably interrupt the stillness of country life; and they were
in former days particularly observant of the religious and social rights
of Christmas. It is inspiring to read even the dry details which some
antiquaries have given of the quaint humors, the burlesque pageants, the
complete abandonment to mirth and good fellowship, with which this
festival was celebrated. It seemed to throw open every door, unlock
every heart. It brought the peasant and the peer together, and blended
all ranks in one warm generous flow of joy and kindness. The old halls
of castles and manor-houses resounded with the harp and the Christmas
carol, and their ample boards groaned under the weight of hospitality.
Even the poorest cottage welcomed the festive season with green
decorations of bay and holly--the cheerful fire glanced its rays through
the lattice, inviting the passenger to raise the latch, and join the
gossip knot huddled round the hearth beguiling the long evening with
legendary jokes, and oft-told Christmas tales.

One of the least pleasing effects of modern refinement is the havoc it
has made among the hearty old holiday customs. It has completely taken
off the sharp touchings and spirited reliefs of these embellishments of
life, and has worn down society into a more smooth and polished, but
certainly a less characteristic surface. Many of the games and
ceremonials of Christmas have entirely disappeared, and, like the
sherris sack of old Falstaff, are become matters of speculation and
dispute among commentators. They flourished in times full of spirit and
lustihood, when men enjoyed life roughly, but heartily and vigorously:
times wild and picturesque, which have furnished poetry with its richest
materials, and the drama with its most attractive variety of characters
and manners. The world has become more worldly. There is more of
dissipation and less enjoyment. Pleasure has expanded into a broader,
but a shallower stream, and has forsaken many of those deep and quiet
channels, where it flowed sweetly through the calm bosom of domestic
life. Society has acquired a more enlightened and elegant tone; but it
has lost many of its strong local peculiarities, its homebred feelings,
its honest fireside delights. The traditionary customs of golden-hearted
antiquity, its feudal hospitalities, and lordly wassailings, have passed
away with the baronial castles and stately manor-houses in which they
were celebrated. They comported with the shadowy hall, the great oaken
gallery, and the tapestried parlor, but are unfitted for the light showy
saloons and gay drawing-rooms of the modern villa.

Shorn, however, as it is, of its ancient and festive honors, Christmas
is still a period of delightful excitement in England. It is gratifying
to see that home feeling completely aroused which holds so powerful a
place in every English bosom. The preparations making on every side for
the social board that is again to unite friends and kindred--the
presents of good cheer passing and repassing, those tokens of regard and
quickeners of kind feelings--the evergreens distributed about houses and
churches, emblems of peace and gladness--all these have the most
pleasing effect in producing fond associations, and kindling benevolent
sympathies. Even the sound of the waits, rude as may be their
minstrelsy, breaks upon the midwatches of a winter night with the effect
of perfect harmony. As I have been awakened by them in that still and
solemn hour "when deep sleep falleth upon man," I have listened with a
hushed delight, and connecting them with the sacred and joyous occasion,
have almost fancied them into another celestial choir, announcing peace
and good-will to mankind. How delightfully the imagination, when wrought
upon by these moral influences, turns everything to melody and beauty!
The very crowing of the cock, heard sometimes in the profound repose of
the country, "telling the night-watches to his feathery dames," was
thought by the common people to announce the approach of the sacred
festival:

    "Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes
    Wherein our Saviour's birth was celebrated,
    This bird of dawning singeth all night long:
    And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad;
    The nights are wholesome--then no planets strike,
    No fairy takes, no witch hath power to charm,
    So hallowed and so gracious is the time."

Amidst the general call to happiness, the bustle of the spirits, and
stir of the affections, which prevail at this period, what bosom can
remain insensible? It is, indeed, the season of regenerated feeling--the
season for kindling not merely the fire of hospitality in the hall, but
the genial flame of charity in the heart. The scene of early love again
rises green to memory beyond the sterile waste of years, and the idea of
home, fraught with the fragrance of home-dwelling joys, reanimates the
drooping spirit--as the Arabian breeze will sometimes waft the freshness
of the distant fields to the weary pilgrim of the desert.

Stranger and sojourner as I am in the land--though for me no social
hearth may blaze, no hospitable roof throw open its doors, nor the warm
grasp of friendship welcome me at the threshold--yet I feel the
influence of the season beaming into my soul from the happy looks of
those around me. Surely happiness is reflective, like the light of
heaven; and every countenance bright with smiles, and glowing with
innocent enjoyment, is a mirror transmitting to others the rays of a
supreme and ever-shining benevolence. He who can turn churlishly away
from contemplating the felicity of his fellow-beings, and can sit down
darkling and repining in his loneliness when all around is joyful, may
have his moments of strong excitement and selfish gratification, but he
wants the genial and social sympathies which constitute the charm of a
merry Christmas.

       *       *       *       *       *

    CHURCH DECKING AT CHRISTMAS

    WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

    Would that our scrupulous sires had dared to leave
      Less scanty measure of those graceful rites
      And usages, whose due return invites
    A stir of mind too natural to deceive;
    Giving the memory help when she could weave
      A crown for Hope!--I dread the boasted lights
      That all too often are but fiery blights,
    Killing the bud o'er which in vain we grieve.
    Go, seek, when Christmas snows discomfort bring,
      The counter Spirit found in some gay church
      Green with fresh holly, every pew a perch
    In which the linnet or the thrush might sing,
      Merry and loud, and safe from prying search,
    Strains offered only to the genial spring.

       *       *       *       *       *

    SO, NOW IS COME OUR JOYFULST FEAST

    GEORGE WITHER

    So, now is come our joyfulst feast,
      Let every man be jolly;
    Each room with ivy leaves is drest,
      And every post with holly.
    Though some churls at our mirth repine,
    Round your foreheads garlands twine;
    Drown sorrow in a cup of wine,
      And let us all be merry.

    Now all our neighbours' chimnies smoke,
      And Christmas logs are burning;
    Their ovens they with baked meats choke,
      And all their spits are turning.
    Without the door let sorrow lie;
    And if for cold it hap to die,
    We'll bury't in a Christmas pie,
      And evermore be merry.

    Now every lad is wondrous trim,
      And no man minds his labour;
    Our lasses have provided them
      A bag-pipe and a tabor;
    Young men and maids, and girls and boys,
    Give life to one another's joys;
    And you anon shall by their noise
      Perceive that they are merry.

    Rank misers now do sparing shun;
      Their hall of music soundeth;
    And dogs thence with whole shoulders run,
      So all things there aboundeth.
    The country folks themselves advance
    For crowdy-mutton's[A] come out of France;
    And Jack shall pipe, and Jill shall dance,
    And all the town be merry.

[Footnote A: Fiddlers.]

       *       *       *       *       *

    FAIRY FACES

    ANON

        Out of the mists of childhood,
          Steeped in a golden glory,
        Come dreamy forms and faces,
          Snatches of song and story;
        Whispers of sweet, still faces;
          Rays of ethereal glimmer,
        That gleam like sunny heavens,
          Ne'er to grow colder or dimmer:
    Now far in the distance, now shining near,
    Lighting the snows of the shivering year.

        Faces there are that tremble,
          Bleared with a silent weeping,
        Weird in a shadowy sorrow,
          As if endless vigil keeping.
        Faces of dazzling brightness,
          With childlike radiance lighted,
        Flashing with many a beauty,
          Nor care nor time had blighted.
    But o'er them all there's a glamour thrown.
    Bright with the dreamy distance alone.

        Aglow in the Christmas halo,
          Shining with heavenly lustre,
        These are the fairy faces
          That round the hearthstone cluster.
        These the deep, tender records,
          Sacred in all their meetness,
        That, wakening purest fancies,
          Soften us with their sweetness;
    As, gathered where flickering fagots burn,
    We welcome the holy season's return.

       *       *       *       *       *

    MERRY CHRISTMAS

    ANON

    In the rush of the merry morning,
      When the red burns through the gray,
    And the wintry world lies waiting
      For the glory of the day;
    Then we hear a fitful rushing
      Just without upon the stair,
    See two white phantoms coming,
      Catch the gleam of sunny hair.

    Are they Christmas fairies stealing
      Rows of little socks to fill?
    Are they angels floating hither
      With their message of good-will?
    What sweet spell are these elves weaving,
      As like larks they chirp and sing?
    Are these palms of peace from heaven
      That these lovely spirits bring?

    Rosy feet upon the threshold,
      Eager faces peeping through,
    With the first red ray of sunshine,
      Chanting cherubs come in view;
     Mistletoe and gleaming holly,
      Symbols of a blessed day,
    In their chubby hands they carry,
      Streaming all along the way.

    Well we know them, never weary
      Of this innocent surprise;
    Waiting, watching, listening always
      With full hearts and tender eyes,
    While our little household angels,
    White and golden in the sun,
    Greet us with the sweet old welcome,--
      "Merry Christmas, every one!"

       *       *       *       *       *

A MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU

THEODORE LEDYARD CUYLER

My own boyhood was spent in a delightful home on one of the most
beautiful farms in Western New York--an experience that any city-bred
boy might envy. We had no religious festivals except Thanksgiving Day
and Christmas, and the latter was especially welcome, not only on
account of the good fare but its good gifts. Christmas was sacred to
Santa Claus, the patron saint of good boys and girls. We counted the
days until its arrival. If the night before the longed-for festival was
one of eager expectation in all our houses, it was a sad time in all
barn-yards and turkey-coops and chicken-roosts; for the slaughter was
terrible, and the cry of the feathered tribes was like "the mourning of
Hadadrimmon." As to our experiences within doors, they are portrayed in
Dr. Clement C. Moore's immortal lines, "The Night Before Christmas,"
which is probably the most popular poem for children ever penned in
America. As the visits of Santa Claus in the night could only be through
the chimney, we hung our stockings where they would be in full sight.
Three score and ten years ago such modern contrivances as steam pipes,
and those unpoetical holes in the floor called "hot-air registers," were
as entirely unknown in our rural regions as gas-burners or telephones.
We had a genuine fire-place in our kitchen, big enough to contain an
enormous back-log, and broad enough for eight or ten people to form "a
circle wide" before it and enjoy the genial warmth.

The last process before going to bed was to suspend our stockings in the
chimney jambs; and then we dreamed of Santa Claus, or if we awoke in the
night, we listened for the jingling of his sleigh-bells. At the peep of
day we were aroused by the voice of my good grandfather, who planted
himself in the stairway and shouted in a stentorian tone, "I wish you
all a Merry Christmas!" The contest was as to who should give the
salutation first, and the old gentleman determined to get the start of
us by sounding his greeting to the family before we were out of our
rooms. Then came a race for the chimney corner; all the stockings came
down quicker than they had gone up. What could not be contained in them
was disposed upon the mantelpiece, or elsewhere. I remember that I once
received an autograph letter from Santa Claus, full of good counsels;
and our colored cook told me that she awoke in the night and, peeping
into the kitchen, actually saw the veritable old visitor light a candle
and sit down at the table and write it! I believed it all as implicitly
as I believed the Ten Commandments, or the story of David and Goliath.
Happy days of childish credulity, when fact and fiction were swallowed
alike without a misgiving! During my long life I have seen many a
day-dream and many an air-castle go the way of Santa Claus and the
wonderful "Lamp of Aladdin."

In after years, when I became a parent, my beloved wife and I,
determined to make the Christmastide one of the golden days of the
twelve months. In mid-winter, when all outside vegetation was bleak and
bare, the Christmas-tree in our parlor bloomed in many-colored beauty
and bounty. When the tiny candles were all lighted the children and our
domestics gathered round it and one of the youngsters rehearsed some
pretty juvenile effusion; as "they that had found great spoil." After
the happy harvesting of the magic tree in my own home, it was my custom
to spend the afternoon or evening in some mission-school and to watch
the sparkling eyes of several hundreds of children while a huge
Christmas-tree shed down its bounties. Fifty years ago, when the
degradation and miseries of the "Five-Points" were first invaded by
pioneer philanthropy, it was a thrilling sight to behold the denizens of
the slums and their children as they flocked into Mr. Pease's new "House
of Industry" and the "Brewery Mission" building. The angelic host over
the hills of Bethlehem did not make a more welcome revelation to them
"who had sat in darkness and the shadow of death." In these days the
squalid regions of our great cities are being explored and improved by
various methods of systematic beneficence. "Christian Settlements" are
established; Bureaus of Charity are formed and Associations for the
relief of the poor are organized. A noble work; but, after all, the most
effective "bureau" is one that, in a water-proof and a stout pair of
shoes, sallies off on a wintry night to some abode of poverty with not
only supplies for suffering bodies, but kind words of sympathy for
lonesome hearts. A dollar from a warm hand with a warm word is worth two
dollars sent by mail or by a messenger-boy. The secret of power in doing
good is _personal contact_. Our incarnate "Elder Brother" went in person
to the sick chamber. He anointed with His own hand the eyes of the blind
man and He touched the loathsome leper into health. The portentous chasm
between wealth and poverty must be bridged by a span of personal
kindness over which the footsteps must turn in only one direction. The
personal contact of self sacrificing benevolence with darkness, filth
and misery--that is the only remedy. Heart must touch heart. Benevolence
also cannot be confined to calendars. Those good people will exhibit the
most of the spirit of our Blessed Master who practice Christmas-giving
and cheerful, unselfish and zealous Christmas-living through all the
circling year.

       *       *       *       *       *

    CHRISTMAS BELLS

    ANON

    There are sounds in the sky when the year grows old,
      And the winds of the winter blow--
    When night and the moon are clear and cold,
      And the stars shine on the snow,
    Or wild is the blast and the bitter sleet
      That beats on the window-pane;
    But blest on the frosty hills are the feet
      Of the Christmas time again!
        Chiming sweet when the night wind swells,
        Blest is the sound of the Christmas Bells!

    Dear are the sounds of the Christmas chimes
      In the land of the ivied towers,
    And they welcome the dearest of festival times
      In this Western world of ours!
    Bright on the holly and mistletoe bough
      The English firelight falls,
    And bright are the wreathed evergreens now
      That gladden our own home walls!
        And hark! the first sweet note that tells,
        The welcome of the Christmas Bells!

    The owl that sits in the ivy's shade,
      Remote from the ruined tower,
    Shall start from his drowsy watch afraid
      When the clock shall strike the hour;
    And over the fields in their frosty rhyme
      The cheery sounds shall go,
    And chime shall answer unto chime
      Across the moonlit snow!
        How sweet the lingering music dwells,--
        The music of the Christmas Bells.

    It fell not thus in the East afar
      Where the Babe in the manger lay;
    The wise men followed their guiding star
      To the dawn of a milder day;
    And the fig and the sycamore gathered green,
      And the palm-tree of Deborah rose;
    'Twas the strange first Christmas the world had seen--
      And it came not in storm and snows.
        Not yet on Nazareth's hills and dells
        Had floated the sound of Christmas Bells.

    The cedars of Lebanon shook in the blast
      Of their own cold mountain air;
    But nought o'er the wintry plain had passed
      To tell that the Lord was there!
    The oak and the olive and almond were still,
      In the night now worn and thin;
    No wind of the winter-time roared from the hill
      To waken the guests at the inn;
        No dream to them the music tells
        That is to come from the Christmas Bells!

    The years that have fled like the leaves on the gale
      Since the morn of the Miracle-Birth,
    Have widened the fame of the marvellous tale
      Till the tidings have filled the earth!
    And so in the climes of the icy North,
      And the lands of the cane and the palm,
    By the Alpine cotter's blazing hearth,
      And in tropic belts of calm,
        Men list to-night the welcome swells,
        Sweet and clear, of Christmas Bells!

    They are ringing to-night through the Norway firs,
      And across the Swedish fells,
    And the Cuban palm-tree dreamily stirs
      To the sound of those Christmas Bells!
    They ring where the Indian Ganges rolls
      Its flood through the rice-fields wide;
    They swell the far hymns of the Lapps and Poles
      To the praise of the Crucified.
        Sweeter than tones of the ocean's shells
        Mingle the chimes of the Christmas Bells!

    The years come not back that have circled away
      With the past of the Eastern land,
    When He plucked the corn on the Sabbath day
      And healed the withered hand:
    But the bells shall join in a joyous chime
      For the One who walked the sea,
    And ring again for the better time
      Of the Christ that is to be!
        Then ring!--for earth's best promise dwells
        In ye, O joyous Prophet Bells!

    Ring out at the meeting of night and morn
      For the dawn of a happier day!
    Lo, the stone from our faith's great sepulchre torn
      The angels have rolled away!
    And they come to us here in our low abode,
      With words like the sunrise gleam,--
    Come down and ascend by that heavenly road
      That Jacob saw in his dream.
        Spirit of love, that in music dwells,
        Open our hearts with the Christmas Bells!

    Help us to see that the glad heart prays
      As well as the bended knees;
    That there are in our own as in ancient days
      The Scribes and the Pharisees;
    That the Mount of Transfiguration still
      Looks down on these Christian lands,
    And the glorified ones from that holy hill
      Are reaching their helping hands.
        These be the words our music tells
        Of solemn joy, O Christmas Bells!

       *       *       *       *       *

    THE BIRTH OF CHRIST

    ALFRED TENNYSON

    The time draws near the birth of Christ;
      The moon is hid--the night is still;
      The Christmas bells from hill to hill
    Answer each other in the mist.

    Four voices of four hamlets round,
      From far and near, on mead and moor,
      Swell out and fail, as if a door
    Were shut between me and the sound.

    Each voice four changes on the wind,
      That now dilate and now decrease,
      Peace and good-will, good-will and peace,
    Peace and good-will to all mankind.

    Rise, happy morn! rise, holy morn!
      Draw forth the cheerful day from night;
      O Father! touch the east, and light
    The light that shone when hope was born!

       *       *       *       *       *

    THE CHRISTMAS CAROL

    WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

    The 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 honor of each household name,
    Duly pronounced with lusty call,
    And "Merry Christmas" wished to all!

    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;

    The mutual nod,--the grave disguise
      Of hearts with gladness brimming o'er;
    And some unbidden tears that rise
      For names once heard, and heard no more;
    Tears brightened by the serenade
    For infant in the cradle laid.

    Hail ancient Manners! sure defence,
      Where they survive, of wholesome laws;
    Remnants of love whose modest sense
      Thus into narrow room withdraws;
    Hail, Usages of pristine mould,
    And ye that guard them, Mountains old!

       *       *       *       *       *

CHRISTMAS AT FEZZIWIG'S WAREHOUSE

CHARLES DICKENS

"Yo ho! my boys," said Fezziwig. "No more work to-night; Christmas Eve,
Dick! Christmas, Ebenezer! Let's have the shutters up," cried old
Fezziwig with a sharp clap of his hands, "before a man can say Jack
Robinson...."

"Hilli-ho!" cried old Fezziwig, skipping down from the high desk with
wonderful agility. "Clear away, my lads, and let's have lots of room
here! Hilli-ho, Dick! Cheer up, Ebenezer!"

Clear away! There was nothing they wouldn't have cleared away, or
couldn't have cleared away, with old Fezziwig looking on. It was done in
a minute. Every movable was packed off, as if it were dismissed from
public life forevermore; the floor was swept and watered, the lamps were
trimmed, fuel was heaped upon the fire; and the warehouse was as snug,
and warm, and dry, and bright a ball-room as you would desire to see
upon a winter's night.

In came a fiddler with a music-book, and went up to the lofty desk and
made an orchestra of it and tuned like fifty stomach-aches. In came Mrs.
Fezziwig, one vast, substantial smile. In came the three Misses
Fezziwig, beaming and lovable. In came the six followers whose hearts
they broke. In came all the young men and women employed in the business
In came the housemaid with her cousin the baker. In came the cook with
her brother's particular friend the milkman. In came the boy from over
the way, who was suspected of not having board enough from his master,
trying to hide himself behind the girl from next door but one who was
proved to have had her ears pulled by her mistress; in they all came,
anyhow and everyhow. Away they all went, twenty couple at once; hands
half round and back again the other way; down the middle and up again;
round and round in various stages of affectionate grouping, old top
couple always turning up in the wrong place; new top couple starting off
again, as soon as they got there; all top couples at last, and not a
bottom one to help them.

When this result was brought about the fiddler struck up "Sir Roger de
Coverley." Then old Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs. Fezziwig. Top
couple, too, with a good stiff piece of work cut out for them; three or
four and twenty pairs of partners; people who were not to be trifled
with; people who would dance and had no notion of walking.

But if they had been thrice as many--Oh, four times as many--old
Fezziwig would have been a match for them, and so would Mrs. Fezziwig.
As to her, she was worthy to be his partner in every sense of the term.
If that's not high praise, tell me higher and I'll use it. A positive
light appeared to issue from Fezziwig's calves. They shone in every part
of the dance like moons. You couldn't have predicted at any given time
what would become of them next. And when old Fezziwig and Mrs. Fezziwig
had gone all through the dance; advance and retire; both hands to your
partner, bow and courtesy, corkscrew, thread the needle, and back again
to your place; Fezziwig "cut"--cut so deftly that he appeared to wink
with his legs, and came upon his feet again without a stagger.

When the clock struck eleven the domestic ball broke up. Mr. and Mrs.
Fezziwig took their stations, one on either side of the door, and
shaking hands with every person individually, as he or she went out,
wished him or her a Merry Christmas!

       *       *       *       *       *

    CHRISTMAS BELLS

    JOHN KEBLE

    Wake me to-night, my mother dear,
    That I may hear
    The Christmas Bells, so soft and clear,
    To high and low glad tidings tell,
    How God the Father loved us well;
    How God the Eternal Son
    Came to undo what we had done.

       *       *       *       *       *



III

SIGNIFICANCE AND SPIRIT



    A CHRISTMAS CARMEN

    JOHN G. WHITTIER

    I

    Sound over all waters, reach out from all lands,
    The chorus of voices, the clasping of hands;
    Sing hymns that were sung by the stars of the morn,
    Sing songs of the angels when Jesus was born!
        With glad jubilations
        Bring hope to the nations!
    The dark night is ending and dawn has begun:
    Rise, hope of the ages, arise like the sun,
        All speech flow to music, all hearts beat as one!

    II

    Sing the bridal of nations! with chorals of love
    Sing out the war-vulture and sing in the dove,
    Till the hearts of the peoples keep time in accord
    And the voice of the world is the voice of the Lord!
        Clasp hands of the nations
        In strong gratulations:
    The dark night is ending and dawn has begun;
    Rise, hope of the ages, arise like the sun,
        All speech flow to music, all hearts beat as one!

    III

    Blow, bugles of battle, the marches of peace;
    East, west, north, and south let the long quarrel cease:
    Sing the song of great joy that the angels began,
    Sing of glory to God and of good-will to man!
        Hark! joining in chorus
        The heavens bend o'er us!
    The dark night is ending and dawn has begun;
    Rise, hope of the ages, arise like the sun,
        All speech flow to music, all hearts beat as one!

       *       *       *       *       *

THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS

From "Pickwick Papers."

CHARLES DICKENS

And numerous indeed are the hearts to which Christmas brings a brief
season of happiness and enjoyment. How many families whose members have
been dispersed and scattered far and wide, in the restless struggles of
life, are then re-united, and meet once again in that happy state of
companionship and mutual good-will, which is a source of such pure and
unalloyed delight, and one so incompatible with the cares and sorrows of
the world, that the religious belief of the most civilized nations, and
the rude traditions of the roughest savages, alike number it among the
first joys of a future state of existence, provided for the blest and
happy! How many old recollections, and how many dormant sympathies, does
Christmas time awaken!

We write these words now, many miles distant from the spot at which,
year after year, we met on that day, a merry and joyous circle. Many of
the hearts that throb so gaily then, have ceased to beat; many of the
looks that shone so brightly then, have ceased to glow; the hands we
grasped, have grown cold; the eyes we sought, have hid their lustre in
the grave; and yet the old house, the room, the merry voices and smiling
faces, the jest, the laugh, the most minute and trivial circumstance
connected with those happy meetings, crowd upon our mind at each
recurrence of the season, as if the last assemblage had been but
yesterday. Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions
of our childish days, that can recall to the old man the pleasures of
his youth, and transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of
miles away, back to his own fireside and his quiet home!

       *       *       *       *       *

ON GOOD WISHES AT CHRISTMAS

FRISWELL

At Christmas, which is a good holiday for most of us, but especially for
that larger and better half of us, the young, there is, as everybody
knows, a profusion of good things. The final cause of a great many
existences is Christmas Day. How many of that vast flock of geese, which
are now peacefully feeding over the long, cold wolds of Norfolk, or are
driven gabbling and hissing by the gozzard to their pasture--how many of
those very geese were called into being simply for Christmas Day! In the
towns, with close streets and fetid courts, where the flaring gas at the
corner of an alley marks the only bright spot, a gin-palace, there a
goose-club is held; and there, for a short time, is the resting-place,
side by side with a bottle of gin, of one of those wise-looking and
self-concentrated gobblers, whose name men have generally, and, as we
think, unjustly, applied to the silly one amongst themselves.

But it is only the profusion of good things, of cakes, puddings, spices,
oranges, and fruits, from sunny Italy and Spain, from India and from
Asia, from America, North and South, and even from distant Australia; it
is not that amongst us, as long ago with the _Franklin_ in Chaucer, that
at this time--

    "It snowës in our house
    Of meate and drinke;"

it is not that we have huge loads of beef chines, ribs, sirloins, legs,
necks, breasts, and shoulders of mutton, fillets of veal, whole hogs,
and pigs in various stages, from the tender suckling to the
stiff-jointed father of a family, whose "back hair" makes good
clothes-brushes, and whose head is brought in at college feasts; it is
not that the air gives up its choicest fowl, and the waters yield their
best fish: plentiful as these are with us, they are nothing in profusion
to the kindly greeting and good wishes that fly about in the cold
weather, and that circulate from land's end to land's end. The whole
coast of England is surrounded by a general "shake hands." The
coast-guard on their wintry walks do not greet each other more surely
than old friends all over England do: one clasps another, and another a
third, till from Dover to London and so on to York, from Yarmouth on the
east to Bristol on the west, from John O'Groat's house at the extreme
north to the Land's End, the very toe-nail of England on the south--a
kindly greeting, we may be sure, will pass. And a cheerful thing it is,
on this day of universal equality, on this day which--

    "To the cottage and the crown,
    Brought tidings of salvation down,"

to think that we can touch and hold each other with friendly hands all
over our land. We all of us shake hands on Christmas Day. Leigh Hunt had
a quaint fancy that he had, as it were, by lineal descent, shaken hands
with Milton. He would argue thus: he knew a man who had shaken hands
with Dr. Johnson, who had clasped the hand of him who had shaken
Dryden's right hand, who himself had thus greeted Andrew Marvell, who
knew Master Elwood, the Quaker friend of Milton, who knew Milton
himself; and thus, though our Sovereign has her hand kissed, not shaken,
by her subjects, yet doubtless she will clasp the hands of her children,
who, shaking those of others, will let the greeting and the good wishes
descend to the lowest on that ladder of society which we are all trying
to climb.

As for hearty good wishes, spoken in all kinds of voices, from the
deepest bass to the shrillest treble, we are sure that they circulate
throughout the little island, and are borne on the wings of the post all
over the seas. Erasmus, coming to England in Henry VIII's time, was
struck with the deep heartiness of our wishes--good, ay, and bad too;
but he most admired the good ones. Other nations ask in their greetings
how a man carries himself, or how doth he stand with the world, or how
doth he find himself; but the English greet with a pious wish that God
may give one a good morning or a good evening, good day, or "god'd'en,"
as the old writers have it; and when we part we wish that "God may be
with you," though we now clip it into "Good b'ye."

       *       *       *       *       *

    A CHRISTMAS SONG

    WILLIAM COX BENNETT

      Blow, wind, blow,
    Sing through yard and shroud;
    Pipe it shrilly and loud,
      Aloft as well as below;
    Sing in my sailor's ear
    The song I sing to you,
    "Come home, my sailor true,
    For Christmas that comes so near."

      Go, wind, go,
    Hurry his home-bound sail,
    Through gusts that are edged with hail,
      Through winter, and sleet, and snow;
    Song, in my sailor's ear,
    Your shrilling and moans shall be,
    For he knows they sing him to me
    And Christmas that comes so near.

       *       *       *       *       *

    SERY

    RICHARD WATSON GILDER

    With wild surprise
    Four great eyes
    In two small heads,
    From neighboring beds
    Looked out--and winked--
    And glittered and blinked
    At a very queer sight
    In the dim starlight.

    As plain as can be
    A fairy tree
    Flashes and glimmers
    And shakes and shimmers.
    Red, green and blue
    Meet their view;
    Silver and gold
    Their sharp eyes behold;
    Small moon, big stars;
    And jams in jars,
    And cakes, and honey
    And thimbles, and money,
    Pink dogs, blue cats,
    Little squeaking rats,
    And candles, and dolls,
    And crackers, and polls,
    A real bird that sings,
    And tokens and favors,
    And all sorts of things
    For the little shavers.

    Four black eyes
    Grow big with surprise;
    And then grow bigger
    When a tiny figure,
    Jaunty and airy,
    (Is it a fairy?)
    From the tree-top cries,
    "Open wide! Black Eyes!
    Come, children, wake now!
    Your joys you may take now!"

    Quick as you can think
      Twenty small toes
      In four pretty rows,
    Like little piggies pink,
      All kick in the air--
    And before you can wink
      The tree stands bare!

       *       *       *       *       *

    A CHRISTMAS SONG

    TUDOR JENKS

    When mother-love makes all things bright,
    When joy comes with the morning light,
    When children gather round their tree,
          Thou Christmas Babe,
          We sing of Thee!

    When manhood's brows are bent in thought,
    To learn what men of old have taught,
    When eager hands seek wisdom's key,
          Wise Temple Child,
          We learn of Thee!

    When doubts assail, and perils fright,
    When, groping blindly in the night,
    We strive to read life's mystery,
          Man of the Mount,
          We turn to Thee!

    When shadows of the valley fall,
    When sin and death the soul appall,
    One light we through the darkness see--
          Christ on the Cross,
          We cry to Thee!

    And when the world shall pass away,
    And dawns at length the perfect day,
    In glory shall our souls made free,
          Thou God enthroned,
          Then worship Thee.

       *       *       *       *       *

CHRISTMAS

(A Selection from "Dreamthorp")

ALEXANDER SMITH

Sitting here, I incontinently find myself holding a levee of departed
Christmas nights. Silently, and without special call, into my study of
imagination come these apparitions, clad in snowy mantles, brooched and
gemmed with frosts. Their numbers I do not care to count, for I know
they are the numbers of many years. The visages of two or three are sad
enough, but on the whole 'tis a congregation of jolly ghosts. The
nostrils of my memory are assailed by a faint odor of plum-pudding and
burnt brandy. I hear a sound as of light music, a whisk of women's
dresses whirled round in dance, a click as of glasses pledged by
friends. Before one of these apparitions is a mound, as of a new-made
grave, on which the snow is lying. I know, I know! Drape thyself not in
white like the others, but in mourning stole of crape; and instead of
dance music, let there haunt around thee the service for the dead! I
know that sprig of mistletoe, O Spirit in the midst! Under it I swung
the girl I loved--girl no more now than I am a boy--and kissed her spite
of blush and pretty shriek. And thee, too, with fragrant trencher in
hand, over which blue tongues of flame are playing, I do know--most
ancient apparition of them all. I remember thy reigning night. Back to
very days of childhood am I taken by the ghostly raisins simmering in a
ghostly brandy flame. Where now the merry boys and girls that thrust
their fingers in thy blaze? And now, when I think of it, thee also would
I drape in black raiment, around thee also would I make the burial
service murmur.

                               - - - - -

This, then, is Christmas, 1862. Everything is silent in Dreamthorp. The
smith's hammer reposes beside the anvil. The weaver's flying shuttle is
at rest. Through the clear wintry sunshine the bells this morning rang
from the gray church tower amid the leafless elms, and up the walk the
villagers trooped in their best dresses and their best faces--the latter
a little reddened by the sharp wind: mere redness in the middle aged; in
the maids, wonderful bloom to the eyes of their lovers--and took their
places decently in the ancient pews. The clerk read the beautiful
prayers of our Church, which seem more beautiful at Christmas than at
any other period. For that very feeling which breaks down at this time
the barriers which custom, birth, or wealth have erected between man and
man, strikes down the barrier of time which intervenes between the
worshipper of to-day and the great body of worshippers who are at rest
in their graves. On such a day as this, hearing these prayers, we feel a
kinship with the devout generations who heard them long ago. The devout
lips of the Christian dead murmured the responses which we now murmur;
along this road of prayer did their thoughts of our innumerable dead,
our brothers and sisters in faith and hope, approach the Maker, even as
ours at present approach Him. Prayers over, the clergyman--who is no
Boanerges, of Chrysostom, golden-mouthed, but a loving, genial-hearted,
pious man, the whole extent of his life from boyhood until now, full of
charity and kindly deeds, as autumn fields with heavy wheaten ears; the
clergyman, I say--for the sentence is becoming unwieldy on my hands, and
one must double back to secure connexion--read out in that silvery voice
of his, which is sweeter than any music to my ear, those chapters of the
New Testament that deal with the birth of the Saviour. And the red-faced
rustic congregation hung on the good man's voice as he spoke of the
Infant brought forth in a manger, of the shining angels that appeared in
the mid-air to the shepherds, of the miraculous star that took its
station in the sky, and of the wise men who came from afar and laid
their gifts of frankincense and myrrh at the feet of the child. With the
story every one was familiar, but on that day, and backed by the
persuasive melody of the reader's voice, it seemed to all quite new--at
least, they listened attentively as if it were. The discourse that
followed possessed no remarkable thoughts; it dealt simply with the
goodness of the Maker of heaven and earth, and the shortness of time,
with the duties of thankfulness and charity to the poor; and I am
persuaded that every one who heard returned to his house in a better
frame of mind. And so the service remitted us all to our own homes, to
what roast-beef and plum-pudding slender means permitted, to gatherings
around cheerful fires, to half-pleasant, half-sad remembrances of the
dead and the absent.

From sermon I have returned like the others, and it is my purpose to
hold Christmas alone. I have no one with me at table, and my own
thoughts must be my Christmas guests. Sitting here, it is pleasant to
think how much kindly feeling exists this present night in England. By
imagination I can taste of every table, pledge every toast, silently
join in every roar of merriment. I become a sort of universal guest.
With what propriety is this jovial season, placed amid dismal December
rains and snows! How one pities the unhappy Australians, with whom
everything is turned topsy-turvy, and who holds Christmas at midsummer!
The face of Christmas glows all the brighter for the cold. The heart
warms as the frost increases. Estrangements which have embittered the
whole year, melt in to-night's hospitable smile. There are warmer
handshakings on this night than during the by-past twelve months. Friend
lives in the mind of friend. There is more charity at this time than at
any other. You get up at midnight and toss your spare coppers to the
half-benumbed musicians whiffling beneath your windows, although at any
other time you would consider their performance a nuisance, and call
angrily for the police. Poverty, and scanty clothing, and fireless
grates, come home at this season to the bosoms of the rich, and they
give of their abundance. The very red-breast of the woods enjoys his
Christmas feast. Good feeling incarnates itself into plum-pudding. The
Master's words, "The poor ye have always with you," wear at this time a
deep significance. For at least one night on each year over all
Christendom there is brotherhood. And good men, sitting amongst their
families, or by a solitary fire like me, when they remember the light,
that shone over the poor clowns huddling on the Bethlehem plains
eighteen hundred years ago, the apparition of shining angels overhead,
the song "Peace on earth and good-will toward men," which for the first
hallowed the midnight air,--pray for that strain's fulfilment, that
battle and strife may vex the nations no more, that not only on
Christmas eve, but the whole year round, men shall be brethren owning
one Father in heaven.

                               - - - - -

Once again, for the purpose of taking away all solitariness of feeling,
and of connecting myself, albeit only in fancy, with the proper gladness
of the time, let me think of the comfortable family dinners now being
drawn to a close, of the good wishes uttered, and the presents made,
quite valueless in themselves, yet felt to be invaluable from the
feelings from which they spring; of the little children, by sweetmeats
lapped in Elysium; and of the pantomime, pleasantest Christmas sight of
all, with the pit a sea of grinning delight, the boxes a tier of beaming
juvenility, the galleries, piled up to the far-receding roof, a mass of
happy laughter which a clown's joke brings down in mighty avalanches. In
the pit, sober people relax themselves, and suck oranges, and quaff
ginger-pop; in the boxes, Miss, gazing through her curls, thinks the
Fairy Prince the prettiest creature she ever beheld, and Master, that to
be a clown must be the pinnacle of human happiness: while up in the
galleries the hard literal world is for an hour sponged out and
obliterated; the chimney-sweep forgets, in his delight when the
policeman comes to grief, the harsh call of his master, and Cinderella,
when the demons are foiled, and the long parted lovers meet and embrace
in a paradise of light and pink gauze, the grates that must be scrubbed
to-morrow. All bands and trappings of toil are for one hour loosened by
the hands of imaginative sympathy. What happiness a single theatre can
contain! And those of maturer years, or of more meditative temperament,
sitting at the pantomime, can extract out of the shifting scenes
meanings suitable to themselves; for the pantomime is a symbol or
adumbration of human life. Have we not all known Harlequin, who rules
the roast, and has the pretty Columbine to himself? Do we not all know
that rogue of a clown with his peculating fingers, who brazens out of
every scrape, and who conquers the world by good humour and ready wit?
And have we not seen Pantaloons not a few, whose fate it is to get all
the kicks and lose all the halfpence, to fall through all the trap
doors, break their shins over all the barrows, and be forever captured
by the policeman, while the true pilferer, the clown, makes his escape
with the booty in his possession? Methinks I know the realities of which
these things are but the shadows; have met with them in business, have
sat with them at dinner. But to-night no such notions as these intrude;
and when the torrent of fun, and transformation, and practical joking
which rushed out of the beautiful fairy world gathered up again, the
high-heaped happiness of the theatre will disperse itself, and the
Christmas pantomime will be a pleasant memory the whole year through.
Thousands on thousands of people are having their midriffs tickled at
this moment; in fancy I see their lighted faces, in memory I see their
mirth.

By this time I should think every Christmas dinner at Dreamthorp or
elsewhere has come to an end. Even now in the great cities the theatres
will be dispersing. The clown has wiped the paint off his face.
Harlequin has laid aside his wand, and divested himself of his
glittering raiment; Pantaloon, after refreshing himself with a pint of
porter, is rubbing his aching joints; and Columbine, wrapped up in a
shawl, and with sleepy eyelids, has gone home in a cab. Soon, in the
great theatre, the lights will be put out, and the empty stage will be
left to ghosts. Hark! midnight from the church tower vibrates through
the frosty air. I look out on the brilliant heaven, and see a milky way
of powdery splendour wandering through it, and clusters and knots of
stars and planets shining serenely in the blue frosty spaces; and the
armed apparition of Orion, his spear pointing away into immeasurable
space, gleaming overhead; and the familiar constellation of the Plough
dipping down into the west; and I think when I go in again that there is
one Christmas the less between me and my grave.

       *       *       *       *       *

    CHRISTMAS CAROL

    PHILLIPS BROOKS

    The earth has grown old with its burden of care,
      But at Christmas it always is young,
    The heart of the jewel burns lustrous and fair,
    And its soul full of music bursts forth on the air,
      When the song of the angels is sung.

    It is coming, Old Earth, it is coming to-night!
      On the snowflakes which cover thy sod
    The feet of the Christ-child fall gentle and white,
    And the voice of the Christ-child tells out with delight
      That mankind are the children of God.

    On the sad and the lonely, the wretched and poor,
      The voice of the Christ-child shall fall;
    And to every blind wanderer open the door
    Of hope that he dared not to dream of before,
      With a sunshine of welcome for all.

    The feet of the humblest may walk in the field
      Where the feet of the Holiest trod,
    This, then, is the marvel to mortals revealed
    When the silvery trumpets of Christmas have pealed,
      That mankind are the children of God.

       *       *       *       *       *

    THE END OF THE PLAY

    WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY

    The play is done--the curtain drops,
      Slow-falling to the prompter's bell:
    A moment yet the actor stops,
      And looks around, to say farewell.
    It is an irksome word and task;
      And, when he's laughed and said his say,
    He shows, as he removes his mask,
      A face that's anything but gay.

    One word, ere yet the evening ends,
      Let's close it with a parting rhyme;
    And pledge a hand to all young friends,
      As fits the merry Christmas time.
    On life's wide scene you, too, have parts
      That fate erelong shall bid you play;
    Good-night!--with honest, gentle hearts
      A kindly greeting go alway!

    Good-night!--I'd say the griefs, the joys,
      Just hinted in this mimic page,
    The triumphs and defeats of boys,
      Are but repeated in our age.
    I'd say your woes were not less keen,
      Your hopes more vain than those of men,
    Your pangs or pleasures of fifteen
      At forty-five played o'er again.

    I'd say we suffer and we strive,
      Not less nor more as men than boys,
    With grizzled beards at forty-five
      As erst at twelve in corduroys;
    And if, in time of sacred youth,
      We learned at home to love and pray,
    Pray Heaven that early love and truth
      May never wholly pass away.

    And in the world as in the school
      I'd say how fate may change and shift,
    The prize be sometimes to the fool,
      The race not always to the swift:
    The strong may yield, the good may fall,
      The great man be a vulgar clown,
    The knave be lifted over all,
      The kind cast pitilessly down.

    Who knows the inscrutable design?
      Blessèd be He who took and gave!
    Why should your mother, Charles, not mine,
      Be weeping at her darling's grave?
    We bow to Heaven that willed it so,
      That darkly rules the fate of all,
    That sends the respite or the blow,
      That's free to give or to recall.

    This crowns his feast with wine and wit,--
      Who brought him to that mirth and state?
    His betters, see, below him sit,
      Or hunger hopeless at the gate!
    Who bade the mud from Dives's wheel
      To spurn the rags of Lazarus?
    Come, brother, in that dust we'll kneel,
      Confessing Heaven that ruled it thus.

    So each shall mourn, in life's advance,
      Dear hopes, dear friends, untimely killed;
    Shall grieve for many a forfeit chance,
      And longing passion unfulfilled.
    Amen!--whatever fate be sent,
      Pray God the heart may kindly glow,
    Although the head with cares be bent,
      And whitened with the winter snow!

    Come wealth or want, come good or ill,
      Let young and old accept their part,
    And bow before the awful will,
      And bear it with an honest heart.
    Who misses or who wins the prize,
      Go, lose or conquer, as you can;
    But if you fail, or if you rise,
      Be each, pray God, a gentleman!

    A gentleman, or old or young!
      (Bear kindly with my humble lays;)
    The sacred chorus first was sung
      Upon the first of Christmas days;
    The shepherds heard it overhead,--
      The joyful angels raised it then:
    "Glory to Heaven on high," it said,
      "And peace on earth to gentle men!"

    My song, save this, is little worth;
      I lay the weary pen aside,
    And wish you health and love and mirth,
      As fits the solemn Christmas-tide.
    As fits the holy Christmas birth,
      Be this, good friends, our carol still:
    Be peace on earth, be peace on earth
      To men of gentle will!

       *       *       *       *       *

    CHRIST'S NATIVITY

    HENRY VAUGHAN

    Awake, glad heart! get up and sing!
    It is the Birthday of thy King.
            Awake! awake!
            The sun doth shake
    Light from his locks, and, all the way
    Breathing perfumes, doth spice the day.

    Awake! awake! hark how th' wood rings,
    Winds whisper, and the busy springs
            A concert make!
            Awake! awake!
    Man is their high-priest, and should rise
    To offer up the sacrifice.

    I would I were some bird, or star,
    Fluttering in woods, or lifted far
            Above this inn,
            And road of sin!
    Then either star or bird should be
    Shining or singing still to thee.

    I would I had in my best part
    Fit rooms for thee! or that my heart
            Where so clean as
            Thy manger was!
    But I am all filth, and obscene;
    Yet, if thou wilt, thou canst make clean.

    Sweet Jesu! will then. Let no more
    This leper haunt and soil thy door!
            Cure him, ease him,
            O release him!
    And let once more, by mystic birth,
    The Lord of life be born in earth.

       *       *       *       *       *

CHRISTMAS DREAMS

CHRISTOPHER NORTH

To-morrow is Merry Christmas; and when its night descends there will be
mirth and music, and the light sounds of the merry-twinkling feet within
these now so melancholy walls--and sleep now reigning over all the house
save this one room, will be banished far over the sea--and morning will
be reluctant to allow her light to break up the innocent orgies.

Were every Christmas of which we have been present at the celebration,
painted according to nature--what a Gallery of Pictures! True that a
sameness would pervade them all--but only that kind of sameness that
pervades the nocturnal heavens. One clear night always is, to common
eyes, just like another; for what hath any night to show but one moon
and some stars--a blue vault, with here a few braided, and there a few
castellated, clouds? yet no two nights ever bore more than a family
resemblance to each other before the studious and instructed eye of him
who has long communed with Nature, and is familiar with every smile and
frown on her changeful, but not capricious, countenance. Even so with
the Annual Festivals of the heart. Then our thoughts are the stars that
illumine those skies--and on ourselves it depends whether they shall be
black as Erebus, or brighter than Aurora.

"Thoughts! that like spirits trackless come and go"--is a fine line of
Charles Lloyd's. But no bird skims, no arrow pierces the air, without
producing some change in the Universe, which will last to the day of
doom. No coming and going is absolutely trackless; nor irrecoverable by
Nature's law is any consciousness, however ghostlike; though many a one,
even the most blissful, never does return, but seems to be buried among
the dead. But they are not dead--but only sleep; though to us who recall
them not, they are as they had never been, and we, wretched ingrates,
let them lie for ever in oblivion! How passing sweet when of their own
accord they arise to greet us in our solitude!--as a friend who, having
sailed away to a foreign land in our youth, has been thought to have
died many long years ago, may suddenly stand before us, with face still
familiar and name reviving in a moment, and all that he once was to us
brought from utter forgetfulness close upon our heart.

My Father's House! How it is ringing like a grove in spring, with the
din of creatures happier, a thousand times happier, than all the birds
on earth. It is the Christmas Holidays--Christmas Day itself--Christmas
Night--and Joy in every bosom intensifies Love. Never before were we
brothers and sisters so dear to one another--never before had our hearts
so yearned towards the authors of our being--our blissful being! There
they sat--silent in all that outcry--composed in all that
disarray--still in all that tumult; yet, as one or other flying imp
sweeps round the chair, a father's hand will playfully strive to catch a
prisoner--a mother's gentler touch on some sylph's disordered symar be
felt almost as a reproof, and for a moment slacken the fairy flight. One
old game treads on the heels of another--twenty within the hour--and
many a new game never heard of before nor since, struck out by the
collision of kindred spirits in their glee, the transitory fancies of
genius inventive through very delight. Then, all at once, there is a
hush, profound as ever falls on some little plat within a forest when
the moon drops behind the mountain, and small green-robed People of
Peace at once cease their pastime, and vanish. For she--the
Silver-Tongued--is about to sing an old ballad, words and air alike
hundreds of years old--and sing she doth, while tears begin to fall,
with a voice too mournfully beautiful long to breathe below--and, ere
another Christmas shall have come with the falling snows, doomed to be
mute on earth--but to be hymning in Heaven.

Of that House--to our eyes the fairest of earthly dwellings--with its
old ivyed turrets, and orchard-garden bright alike with fruit and with
flowers, not one stone remains. The very brook that washed its
foundations has vanished along with them--and a crowd of other
buildings, wholly without character, has long stood where here a single
tree, and there a grove, did once render so lovely that small demesne;
which, how could we, who thought it the very heart of Paradise, even for
one moment have believed was one day to be blotted out of being, and we
ourselves--then so linked in love that the band which bound us
altogether was, in its gentle pressure, felt not nor understood--to be
scattered far and abroad, like so many leaves that after one wild
parting rustle are separated by roaring wind-eddies, and brought
together no more! The old Abbey--it still survives; and there, in that
corner of the burial-ground, below that part of the wall which was last
in ruins, and which we often climbed to reach the flowers and
nests--there, in hopes of a joyful resurrection, lie the Loved and
Venerated--for whom, even now that so many grief-deadening years have
fled, we feel, in this holy hour, as if it were impiety so utterly to
have ceased to weep--so seldom to have remembered!--And then, with a
powerlessness of sympathy to keep pace with youth's frantic grief, the
floods we all wept together--at no long interval--on those pale and
placid faces as they lay, most beautiful and most dreadful to behold, in
their coffins.

We believe that there is genius in all childhood. But the creative joy
that makes it great in its simplicity dies a natural death or is killed,
and genius dies with it. In favored spirits, neither few nor many, the
joy and the might survive; for you must know that unless it be
accompanied with imagination, memory is cold and lifeless. The forms it
brings before us must be inspired with beauty--that is, with affection
or passion. All minds, even the dullest, remember the days of their
youth; but all cannot bring back the indescribable brightness of that
blessed season. They who would know what they once were, must not merely
recollect but they must imagine, the hills and valleys--if any such
there were--in which their childhood played, the torrents, the
waterfalls, the lakes, the heather, the rocks, the heaven's imperial
dome, the raven floating only a little lower than the eagle in the sky.
To imagine what he then heard and saw, he must imagine his own nature.
He must collect from many vanished hours the power of his untamed heart,
and he must, perhaps, transfuse also something of his maturer mind into
these dreams of his former being, thus linking the past with the present
by a continuous chain, which, though often invisible, is never broken.
So is it too with the calmer affections that have grown within the
shelter of a roof. We do not merely remember, we imagine our father's
house, the fireside, all his features then most living, now dead and
buried; the very manner of his smile, every tone of his voice. We must
combine with all the passionate and plastic power of imagination the
spirit of a thousand happy hours into one moment; and we must invest
with all that we ever felt to be venerable such an image as alone can
satisfy our filial hearts. It is thus that imagination, which first
aided the growth of all our holiest and happiest affections, can
preserve them to us unimpaired--

    "For she can give us back the dead,
    Even in the loveliest looks they wore."

Then came a New Series of Christmases, celebrated, one year in this
family, another year in that--none present but those whom Charles Lamb
the Delightful calleth the "old familiar faces;" something in all
features, and all tones of voice, and all manners, betokening origin
from one root--relations all, happy, and with no reason either to be
ashamed or proud of their neither high nor humble birth, their lot being
cast within that pleasant realm, "the Golden Mean," where the dwellings
are connecting links between the hut and the hall--fair edifices
resembling manse or mansion-house, according as the atmosphere expands
or contracts their dimensions--in which Competence is next-door neighbor
to Wealth, and both of them within the daily walk of Contentment.

Merry Christmases they were indeed--one Lady always presiding, with a
figure that once had been the stateliest among the stately, but then
somewhat bent, without being bowed down, beneath an easy weight of most
venerable years. Sweet was her tremulous voice to all her
grandchildren's ears. Nor did these solemn eyes, bedimmed into a
pathetic beauty, in any degree restrain the glee that sparkled in orbs
that had as yet shed not many tears, but tears of joy or pity. Dearly
she loved all those mortal creatures whom she was soon about to leave;
but she sat in sunshine even within the shadow of death; and the "voice
that called her home" had so long been whispering in her ear, that its
accents had become dear to her, and consolatory every word that was
heard in the silence, as from another world.

Whether we were indeed all so witty as we thought ourselves--uncles,
aunts, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, cousins, and "the rest," it
might be presumptuous in us, who were considered by ourselves and a few
others not the least amusing of the whole set, at this distance of time
to decide--especially in the affirmative; but how the roof did ring with
sally, pun, retort, and repartee! Ay, with pun--a species of
impertinence for which we have therefore a kindness even to this day.
Had incomparable Thomas Hood had the good fortune to have been born a
cousin of ours, how with that fine fancy of his would he have shone at
those Christmas festivals, eclipsing us all! Our family, through all its
different branches, has ever been famous for bad voices, but good ears;
and we think we hear ourselves--all those uncles and aunts, nephews and
nieces, and cousins--singing now! Easy it is to "warble melody" as to
breathe air. But we hope harmony is the most difficult of all things to
people in general, for to us it was impossible; and what attempts ours
used to be at Seconds! Yet the most woful failures were rapturously
encored; and ere the night was done we spoke with most extraordinary
voices indeed, every one hoarser than another, till at last, walking
home with a fair cousin, there was nothing left it but a tender glance
of the eye--a tender pressure of the hand--for cousins are not
altogether sisters, and although partaking of that dearest character,
possess, it may be, some peculiar and appropriate charms of their own;
as didst thou, Emily the "Wild-cap!"--That _soubriquet_ all forgotten
now--for now thou art a matron, nay a Grandam, and troubled with an elf
fair and frolicsome as thou thyself wert of yore, when the gravest and
wisest withstood not the witchery of thy dancings, thy singings, and thy
showering smiles.

On rolled Suns and Seasons--the old died--the elderly became old--and
the young, one after another, were wafted joyously away on the wings of
hope, like birds almost as soon as they can fly, ungratefully forsaking
their nests and the groves in whose safe shadow they first essayed their
pinions; or like pinnaces that, after having for a few days trimmed
their snow-white sails in the land-locked bay, close to whose shores of
silvery sand had grown the trees that furnished timber both for hull and
mast, slip their tiny cables on some summer day, and gathering every
breeze that blows, go dancing over the waves in sunshine, and melt far
off into the main. Or, haply, some were like fair young trees,
transplanted during no favorable season, and never to take root in
another soil, but soon leaf and branch to wither beneath the tropic sun,
and die almost unheeded by those who knew not how beautiful they had
been beneath the dews and mists of their own native climate.

Vain images! and therefore chosen by fancy not too plainly to touch the
heart. For some hearts grew cold and forbidding with selfish
cares--some, warm as ever in their own generous glow, were touched by
the chill of Fortune's frowns, ever worst to bear when suddenly
succeeding her smiles--some, to rid themselves of painful regrets, took
refuge in forgetfulness, and closed their eyes to the past--duty
banished some abroad, and duty imprisoned others at home--estrangements
there were, at first unconscious and unintended, yet erelong, though
causeless, complete--changes were wrought insensibly, invisibly, even in
the innermost nature of those who being friends knew no guile, yet came
thereby at last to be friends no more--unrequited love broke some
bonds--requited love relaxed others--the death of one altered the
conditions of many--and so--year after year--the Christmas Meeting was
interrupted--deferred--till finally it ceased with one accord, unrenewed
and unrenewable. For when Some Things cease for a time--that time turns
out to be forever.

Survivors of those happy circles! wherever ye be--should these imperfect
remembrances of days of old chance, in some thoughtful pause of life's
busy turmoil, for a moment to meet your eyes, let there be towards the
inditer a few throbs of revived affection in your hearts--for his,
though "absent long and distant far," has never been utterly forgetful
of the loves and friendships that charmed his youth. To be parted in
body is not to be estranged in spirit--and many a dream and many a
vision, sacred to nature's best affections, may pass before the mind of
one whose lips are silent. "Out of sight out of mind" is rather the
expression of a doubt--of a fear--than a belief or a conviction. The
soul surely has eyes that can see the objects it loves, through all
intervening darkness--and of those more especially dear it keeps within
itself almost undimmed images, on which, when they know it not, think it
not, believe it not, it often loves to gaze, as on relics imperishable
as they are hallowed.

All hail! rising beautiful and magnificent through the mists of
morning--ye Woods, Groves, Towers, and Temples, overshadowing that
famous Stream beloved by all the Muses! Through this midnight
hush--methinks we hear faint and far-off sacred music--

    "Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault,
    The pealing anthem swells the note of praise!"

How steeped now in the stillness of moonlight are all those pale,
pillared Churches, Courts and Cloisters, Shrines and Altars, with here
and there a Statue standing in the shade, or Monument sacred to the
memory of the pious--the immortal dead. Some great clock is striking
from one of many domes--from the majestic Tower of St. Mary
Magdalen--and in the deepened hush that follows the solemn sound, the
mingling waters of the Cherwell and the Isis soften the severe silence
of the holy night.

Remote from kindred, and from all the friendships that were the native
growth of the fair fields where our boyhood and our youth had roamed and
meditated and dreamed, those were indeed years of high and lofty mood
which held us in converse with the shades of great Poets and ages of old
in Rhedicyna's hallowed groves, still, serene, and solemn, as that Attic
Academe where divine Plato, with all Hybla on his lips, discoursed such
excellent music that his life seemed to the imagination spiritualized--a
dim reminiscence of some former state of being. How sank then the
Christmas Service of that beautiful Liturgy into our hearts! Not
faithless we to the simple worship that our forefathers had loved; but
Conscience told us there was no apostasy in the feelings that rose
within us when that deep organ began to blow, that choir of youthful
voices so sweetly to join the diapason,--our eyes fixed all the while on
that divine Picture over the Altar, of our Saviour

    "Bearing his cross up rueful Calvary."

The City of Palaces disappears--and in the setting sunlight we behold
mountains of soft crimson snow! The sun hath set, and even more
beautiful are the bright-starred nights of winter, than summer in all
its glories beneath the broad moons of June. Through the woods of
Windermere, from cottage to cottage, by coppice-pathways winding up to
dwellings among the hill-rocks where the birch-trees cease to grow--

    "Nodding their heads, before us go,
    The merry minstrelsy."

They sing a salutation at every door, familiarly naming old and young by
their Christian names; and the eyes that look upward from the vales to
the hanging huts among the plats and cliffs, see the shadows of the
dancers ever and anon crossing the light of the star-like window, and
the merry music is heard like an echo dwelling in the sky. Across those
humble thresholds often did we on Christmas-week nights of
yore--wandering through our solitary silvan haunts, under the branches
of trees within whose hollow trunks the squirrel slept--venture in,
unasked perhaps, but not unwelcome, and, in the kindly spirit of the
season, did our best to merrify the Festival by tale or song. And now
that we behold them not, are all those woods, and cliffs, and rivers,
and tarns, and lakes, as beautiful as when they softened and brightened
beneath our living eyes, half-creating, as they gazed, the very world
they worshipped! And are all those hearths as bright as of yore, without
the shadow of our figure! And the roofs, do they ring as mirthfully,
though our voice be forgotten. We hang over Westmoreland, an
unobserved--but observant star. Mountains, hills, rocks, knolls, vales,
woods, groves, single trees, dwelling--all asleep! O Lakes! but we are
indeed, by far too beautiful! O fortunate Isles! too fair for human
habitation, fit abode for the Blest! It will not hide itself--it will
not sink into the earth--it will rise; and risen, it will stand steady
with its shadow in the overpowering moonlight, that ONE TREE! that ONE
HOUSE!--and well might the sight of ye two together--were it
harder--break our heart. But hard at all it is not--therefore it is but
crushed.

Can it be that there we are utterly forgotten! No star hanging higher
than the Andes in heaven--but sole-sitting at midnight in a small
chamber--a melancholy man are we--and there seems a smile of
consolation, O Wordsworth! on thy sacred Bust.

Alas! how many heavenly days, "seeming immortal in their depth of rest,"
have died and been forgotten! Treacherous and ungrateful is our memory
even of bliss that overflowed our being as light our habitation. Our
spirit's deepest intercommunion with nature has no place in her
records--blanks are there that ought to have been painted with
imperishable imagery, and steeped in sentiment fresh as the morning on
life's golden hills. Yet there is mercy in this dispensation--for who
can bear to behold the light of bliss re-arising from the past on the
ghastlier gloom of present misery? The phantoms that will not come when
we call on them to comfort us, are too often at our side when in our
anguish we could almost pray that they might be reburied in oblivion.
Such hauntings as these are not as if they were visionary--they come and
go like forms and shapes still imbued with life. Shall we vainly stretch
out our arms to embrace and hold them fast, or as vainly seek to
intrench ourselves by thought of this world against their visitation?
The soul in its sickness knows not whether it be the duty of love to
resign itself to indifference or to despair. Shall it enjoy life, they
being dead? Shall we, the survivors, for yet a little while, walk in
other companionship out into the day, and let the sunbeams settle on
their heads as they used to do, or cover them with dust and ashes, and
show to those in heaven that love for them is now best expressed by
remorse and penitence?

Sometimes we have fears about our memory--that it is decaying; for,
lately, many ordinary yet interesting occurrences and events, which we
regarded at the time with pain or pleasure, have been slipping away
almost into oblivion, and have often alarmed us of a sudden by their
return, not to any act of recollection, but of themselves, sometimes
wretchedly out of place and season, the mournful obtruding upon the
merry, and worse, the merry upon the mournful--confusion, by no fault of
ours, of piteous and gladsome faces--tears where smiles were a duty as
well as a delight, and smiles where nature demanded, and religion
hallowed, a sacrifice of tears.

For a good many years we have been tied to town in winter by fetters as
fine as frost-work filigree, which we could not break without destroying
a whole world of endearment. That seems an obscure image; but it means
what the Germans would call in English--our winter environment. We are
imprisoned in a net; yet we can see it when we choose--just as a bird
can see, when he chooses, the wires of his cage, that are invisible in
his happiness, as he keeps hopping and fluttering about all day long, or
haply dreaming on his perch with his poll under his plumes--as free in
confinement as if let loose into the boundless sky. That seems an
obscure image too; but we mean, in truth, the prison unto which we doom
ourselves no prison is; and we have improved on that idea, for we have
built our own--and are prisoner, turnkey, and jailer all in one, and
'tis noiseless as the house of sleep. Or what if we declare that
Christopher North is a king in his palace, with no subjects but his own
thoughts--his rule peaceful over those lights and shadows--and
undisputed to reign over them his right divine.

The opening year in a town, now answers in all things to our heart's
desire. How beautiful the smoky air! The clouds have a homely look as
they hang over the happy families of houses, and seem as if they loved
their birthplace;--all unlike those heartless clouds that keep
_stravaiging_ over mountain-tops, and have no domicile in the sky! Poets
speak of living rocks, but what is their life to that of houses? Who
ever saw a rock with eyes--that is, with windows? Stone-blind all, and
stone-deaf, and with hearts of stone; whereas who ever saw a house
without eyes--that is, windows? Our own is an Argus; yet the good old
Conservative grudges not the assessed taxes--his optics are as cheerful
as the day that lends them light, and they love to salute the setting
sun, as if a hundred beacons, level above level, were kindled along a
mountain side. He might safely be pronounced a madman who preferred an
avenue of trees to a street. Why, trees have no chimneys; and, were you
to kindle a fire in the hollow of an oak, you would soon be as dead as a
Druid. It won't do to talk to us of sap, and the circulation of sap. A
grove in winter, hole and branch--leaves it has none--is as dry as a
volume of sermons. But a street, or a square, is full of "vital sparks
of heavenly flame" as a volume of poetry, and the heart's blood
circulates through the system like rosy wine.

But a truce to comparisons; for we are beginning to feel contrition for
our crime against the country, and, with humbled head and heart, we
beseech you to pardon us--ye rocks of Pavey-Ark, the pillared palaces of
the storms--ye clouds, now wreathing a diadem for the forehead of
Helvellyn--ye trees, that hang the shadows of your undying beauty over
the "one perfect chrysolite," of blessed Windermere!

Our meaning is transparent now as the hand of an apparition waving peace
and good-will to all dwellers in the land of dreams. In plainer but not
simpler words (for words are like flowers, often rich in their
simplicity--witness the Lily, and Solomon's Song)--Christian people all,
we wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New-Year, in town or in
country--or in ships at sea.

       *       *       *       *       *

KEEPING CHRISTMAS

Romans, xiv, 6: _He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord,_

HENRY VAN DYKE

[From "The Spirit of Christmas."]

It is a good thing to observe Christmas day. The mere marking of times
and seasons, when men agree to stop work and make merry together, is a
wise and wholesome custom. It helps one to feel the supremacy of the
common life over the individual life. It reminds a man to set his own
little watch, now and then, by the great clock of humanity which runs on
sun time.

But there is a better thing than the observance of Christmas day, and
that is, keeping Christmas.

Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people, and to
remember what other people have done for you; to ignore what the world
owes you, and to think what you owe the world; to put your rights in the
background, and your duties in the middle distance, and your chances to
do a little more than your duty in the foreground; to see that your
fellowmen are just as real as you are, and try to look behind their
faces to their hearts, hungry for joy; to own that probably the only
good reason for your existence is not what you are going to get out of
life, but what you are going to give to life; to close your book of
complaints against the management of the universe, and look around you
for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness--are you willing
to do these things even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas.

Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and the desires of
little children; to remember the weakness and loneliness of people who
are growing old; to stop asking how much your friends love you, and ask
yourself whether you love them enough; to bear in mind the things that
other people have to bear in their hearts; to try to understand what
those who live in the same house with you really want, without waiting
for them to tell you; to trim your lamp so that it will give more light
and less smoke, and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall
behind you; to make a grave for your ugly thoughts and a garden for your
kindly feelings, with the gate open--are you willing to do these things
even for a day? Then you can keep Christmas.

Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the
world--stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death--and
that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years
ago is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love? Then you can keep
Christmas.

And if you keep it for a day, why not always?

But you can never keep it alone.

       *       *       *       *       *

    MARK WELL MY HEAVY DOLEFUL TALE

    ANONYMOUS

    Mark well my heavy doleful tale,
      For Twelfth-day now is come,
    And now I must no longer sing,
      And say no words but mum;
    For I perforce must take my leave
      Of all my dainty cheer,
    Plum-porridge, roast beef, and minced pies,
      My strong ale and my beer.

    Kind-hearted Christmas, now adieu,
      For I with thee must part,
    And for to take my leave of thee
      Doth grieve me at the heart;
    Thou wert an ancient housekeeper,
      And mirth with meat didst keep,
    But thou art going out of town,
      Which makes me for to weep.

    God knoweth whether I again
      Thy merry face shall see,
    Which to good-fellows and the poor
      That was so frank and free.
    Thou lovedst pastime with thy heart,
      And eke good company;
    Pray hold me up for fear I swoon,
      For I am like to die.

    Come, butler, fill a brimmer up
      To cheer my fainting heart,
    That to old Christmas I may drink
      Before he doth depart;
    And let each one that's in this room
      With me likewise condole,
    And for to cheer their spirits sad
      Let each one drink a bowl.

    And when the same it hath gone round
      Then fall unto your cheer,
    For you do know that Christmas time
      It comes but once a year.
    But this good draught which I have drunk
      Hath comforted my heart,
    For I was very fearful that
      My stomach would depart.

    Thanks to my master and my dame
      That doth such cheer afford;
    God bless them, that each Christmas they
      May furnish thus their board.
    My stomach having come to me,
      I mean to have a bout,
    Intending to eat most heartily;
      Good friends, I do not flout.

       *       *       *       *       *

    A CHRISTMAS CAROL

    CHRISTINA G. ROSSETTI

    In the bleak mid-winter
      Frosty wind made moan,
    Earth stood hard as iron,
      Water like a stone;
    Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
      Snow on snow,
    In the bleak mid-winter
      Long ago.

    Our God, Heaven cannot hold him
      Nor earth sustain;
    Heaven and earth shall flee away,
      When he comes to reign.
    In the bleak mid-winter
      A stable-place sufficed
    The Lord God Almighty,
      Jesus Christ.

    Angels and archangels
      May have gathered there;
    Cherubim and seraphim
      Thronged the air.
    But only His Mother,
      In her maiden bliss,
    Worshipped her Beloved
      With a kiss.

    What can I give Him,
      Poor as I am?
    If I were a shepherd
      I would bring a lamb;
    If I were a wise man,
      I would do my part,--
    Yet what I can I give Him,
      Give my heart.

       *       *       *       *       *

    THE GLORIOUS SONG OF OLD

    EDMUND H. SEARS

    It came upon the midnight clear,
      That glorious song of old,
    From angels bending near the earth
      To touch their harps of gold,
    "Peace on the earth, good-will to men,
      From heaven's all-gracious King"--
    The world in solemn stillness lay
      To hear the angels sing.

    Still through the cloven skies they come
      With peaceful wings unfurled,
    And still their heavenly music floats
      O'er all the weary world;
    Above its sad and lowly plains
      They bend on hovering wing,
    And ever o'er its Babel-sounds
      The blessed angels sing.

    But with the woes of sin and strife
      The world has suffered long;
    Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
      Two thousand years of wrong.
    And man at war with man hears not
      The love-song which they bring;
    Oh, hush the noise, ye men of strife,
      And hear the angels sing!

    And ye beneath life's crushing load,
      Whose forms are bending low,
    Who toil along the climbing way
      With painful steps and slow,
    Look now! for glad and golden hours
      Come swiftly on the wing:--
    Oh, rest beside the weary road
      And hear the angels sing!

    For lo! the days the hastening on
      By prophet-bards foretold,
    When with the ever-circling years
      Comes round the age of gold;
    When peace shall over all the earth
      Its ancient splendors fling,
    And the whole world give back the song
      Which now the angels sing.

       *       *       *       *       *

    A CHRISTMAS CAROL FOR CHILDREN

    MARTIN LUTHER

    Good news from heaven the angels bring,
    Glad tidings to the earth they sing:
    To us this day a child is given,
    To crown us with the joy of heaven.

    This is the Christ, our God and Lord,
    Who in all need shall aid afford:
    He will Himself our Saviour be,
    From sin and sorrow set us free.

    To us that blessedness He brings,
    Which from the Father's bounty springs:
    That in the heavenly realm we may
    With Him enjoy eternal day.

    All hail, Thou noble Guest, this morn,
    Whose love did not the sinner scorn!
    In my distress Thou cam'st to me:
    What thanks shall I return to Thee?

    Were earth a thousand times as fair,
    Beset with gold and jewels rare,
    She yet were far too poor to be
    A narrow cradle, Lord, for Thee.

    Ah, dearest Jesus, Holy Child!
    Make Thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
    Within my heart, that it may be
    A quiet chamber kept for Thee.

    Praise God upon His heavenly throne,
    Who gave to us His only Son:
    For this His hosts, on joyful wing,
    A blest New Year of mercy sing.

       *       *       *       *       *

ON SANTA CLAUS

GEORGE A. BAKER, JR.

Brave old times those were. In the first half of the seventeenth
century, we mean; before there was any such place as New York and
Manhattan Island was occupied mostly by woods, and had a funny little
Dutch town, known as New Amsterdam, sprouting out of the southern end of
it. Those were the days of solid comfort, of mighty pipes, and unctuous
doughnuts. Winter had not yet been so much affected by artificiality as
he is now-a-days, and was contented to be what he is, not trying to pass
himself off for Spring; and Christmas--well, it was Christmas. Do you
know why? Because in those times Santa Claus used to live in a great old
house in the midst of an evergreen forest, just back of the Hudson, and
about half-way between New Amsterdam and Albany. A house built out of
funny little Dutch bricks, with gables whose sides looked like
stair-cases, and a roof of red tiles with more weathercocks and chimneys
sticking out of it than you could count. Phew, how cold it was there!
The wind roared and shouted around the house, and the snow fell steadily
half the year, so that the summers never melted it away till winter came
again. And Santa Claus thought that was the greatest pleasure in life:
for he loved to have enormous fires in the great fire-places, and the
colder it was, the bigger fires he would have, and the louder the winds
roared around his chimney. There he sat and worked away all the year
round, making dolls, and soldiers, and Noah's arks, and witches, and
every other sort of toy you can think of. When Christmas Eve came he'd
harness up his reindeers, Dasher, and Prancer, and Vixen, and the rest
of them, and wrap himself up in furs, and light his big pipe, and cram
his sled full of the doll-babies and Noah's arks, and all the other toys
he'd been making, and off he'd go with a great shout and tremendous
ringing of sleigh-bells. Before morning he'd be up and down every
chimney in New Amsterdam, filling the stout grey yarn stockings with
toys, and apples, and ginger-bread, laughing and chuckling so all the
while, that the laughs and chuckles didn't get out of the air for a week
afterwards.

But the old house has gone to ruin, and Santa Claus doesn't live there
any longer. You see he married about forty years ago; his wife was a
Grundy, daughter of old Mrs. Grundy, of Fifth Avenue, of whom you've all
heard. She married him for his money, and couldn't put up with his plain
way of living and his careless jollity. He is such an easy-going, good
natured old soul, that she manages him without any trouble. So the first
thing she did was to make him change his name to St. Nicholas; then she
made him give up his old house, and move into town; then she sent away
the reindeers, for she didn't know what Ma _would_ say to such an
outlandish turn-out; then she threw away his pipe because it was vulgar,
and the first Christmas Eve that he went off and stayed out all night
she had hysterics, and declared she'd go home to her Ma, and get a
divorce if he ever did such a thing again. She'd have put a stop to his
giving away toys every year, too, only she thought it looked well, and
as it was, she wouldn't let him make them himself any more, but
compelled him to spend enormous sums in bringing them from Paris, and
Vienna, and Nuremberg.

So now Santa Claus is St. Nicholas, and lives in a brown stone house on
Fifth Avenue, a great deal handsomer than he can afford, and keeps a
carriage, not because he wants it, but because Mrs. Shoddy, next door,
keeps one; and loves, not to be jolly himself and to make everybody else
so, but to please his wife's mother. He has to give an awful pull, what
with his wife's extravagance, and the high prices of Parisian and
Viennese toys, to make both ends meet, although he does speculate in
stocks, and is very lucky. Instead of looking forward to Christmas with
pleasure, and thinking what a good time he will have, he pulls out his
ledger, and groans, and wonders how on earth he's going to make his
presents this year, and thinks he would stop giving them entirely, only
he's so mortally afraid of his mother-in-law, and he knows what she'd
say if he did. So he borrows money wherever he can, and sends over to
Paris for fans, and opera-glasses, and bon-bon boxes, and jewelry, and
when they come he sits down in his parlor and lets his wife tell him
just what to do with them. So she takes out her list and runs over the
names; she has all the rich people down, for she is a religious woman,
and the Bible says "unto him that hath, it shall be given." This is the
way she talks: "The little Croesuses must have some very elegant things,
of course; their mother's a horrid old cat, but Croesus could help you
very much in business. And there are the Centlivres; we must pick out
something magnificent for them; they give a party Christmas night: of
course the presents will be on exhibition, and I shall sink with shame
if any one else's are handsomer than ours." So she goes on, until all
the rich people are disposed of. Then Santa Claus asks: "How about the
Brinkers, my dear?" The Brinkers are great favorites of his. "Good
gracious, dearest! How often have I told you, you mustn't manifest such
an interest in those Brinkers? What would Ma say if she knew you
associated with such common people!" "But, I'm Dutch myself, pet." "Of
course you are, darling, but there's no need of letting every one know
it!" St. Nicholas hardly dares to do it, but he finally suggests very
meekly: "The poor children, my darling." "Bother the poor children, my
dear!" They're a most affectionate couple, you know. Then St. Nicholas
sighs and sighs, and sends for his messengers, and they all come in with
long faces, and take off big packages to the Croesuses and the
Centlivres, and the rest of them. The messengers do their work entirely
as a matter of business, so there isn't a sign of a laugh, nor a symptom
of a chuckle in the air next day. The little Croesuses first cry,
because they haven't received more, and then fight over what they have;
then they eat too much French candy, and get sick and cross, and the
whole house is filled with their noise. So mamma has a headache; and
papa longs for his office, and misses the tick-tick of the stock
telegraph, and thinks what a confounded nuisance holidays are. That is
what Christmas is like in good society.

But I must tell you a secret. Away up in the fourth-story of his grand
house, where his wife never goes, St. Nicholas has a little workshop,
and there he sits whenever he gets a chance, making the most wonderful
dolls, and gorgeous soldiers, and miraculous jumping-jacks, and tin
horns--such quantities of tin horns! Some one ought to speak to him
about those tin horns. But after all they please the poor children, so
we suppose it's all right. Now do you know what he does with these
things? On Christmas Eve he gets his old sled down from the stable away
up by the North Pole, and as soon as his wife is fast asleep, he puts on
his old furs and gets out from under his shirts in his bureau drawer a
Dutch pipe, three times as big as the one his wife threw away, and off
he goes. He tumbles down all the poor people's chimneys, and fills up
the stockings to overflowing, and plants gorgeous Christmas trees in all
the Mission schools.

He has a glorious good time, and laughs and chuckles tremendously,
except when, once in a while, he thinks of what would happen if his wife
found him out.

So there's a little fun going on after all.

Do you know, if it were not for this performance of his, we should wish
with all our heart that St. Nicholas were dead and buried. But we must
say, we wish his wife would die, and that all the Grundy family would
follow her good example, for between them they've spoiled a good many
jolly people besides St. Nicholas.

       *       *       *       *       *

    A CHRISTMAS CAROL

    JOSIAH GILBERT HOLLAND

          There's a song in the air!
          There's a star in the sky!
          There's a mother's deep prayer
          And a baby's low cry!
    And the star rains its fire while the Beautiful sing,
    For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a king.

          There's a tumult of joy
          O'er the wonderful birth,
          For the virgin's sweet boy
          Is the Lord of the earth,
    Ay! the star rains its fire and the Beautiful sing,
    For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a king.

          In the light of that star
          Lie the ages impearled;
          And that song from afar
          Has swept over the world.
    Every hearth is aflame, and the Beautiful sing
    In the homes of the nations that Jesus is King.

          We rejoice in the light,
          And we echo the song
          That comes down through the night
          From the heavenly throng.
    Ay! we shout to the lovely evangel they bring,
    And we greet in his cradle our Saviour and King!

       *       *       *       *       *

    AN OFFERTORY

    MARY MAPES DODGE

    Oh, the beauty of the Christ Child,
        The gentleness, the grace,
        The smiling, loving tenderness,
        The infantile embrace!
          All babyhood he holdeth,
          All motherhood enfoldeth--
        Yet who hath seen his face?

    Oh, the nearness of the Christ Child,
        When, for a sacred space,
        He nestles in our very homes--
        Light of the human race!
          We know him and we love him,
          No man to us need prove him--
        Yet who hath seen his face?

       *       *       *       *       *

    CHRISTMAS SONG

    LYDIA A.C. WARD

    Why do bells for Christmas ring?
    Why do little children sing?

    Once a lovely, shining star,
    Seen by shepherds from afar,
    Gently moved until its light
    Made a manger-cradle bright.

    There a darling baby lay
    Pillowed soft upon the hay.
    And his mother sang and smiled,
    "This is Christ, the holy child."

    So the bells for Christmas ring,
    So the little children sing.

       *       *       *       *       *

    A CHRISTMAS CAROL

    CHRISTIAN BURKE

    The trees are hung with crystal lamps, the world lies still and white,
    And the myriad little twinkling stars are sharp with keener light;
    The moon sails up the frost-clear sky and silvers all the snow,
    As she did, perchance, that Christmas night, two thousand years ago!
        Good people, are you waking?
          Give us food and give us wine,
        For the sake of blessed Mary
          And her Infant Son Divine,
        Who was born the world's Redeemer--
          A Saviour--yours and mine!

    Long ago angelic harpers sang the song we sing to-day,
    And the drowsy folk of Bethlehem may have listened as they lay!
    But eager shepherds left their flocks, and o'er the desert wild
    The kingly sages journeyed to adore the Holy Child!
        Has any man a quarrel?
          Has another used you ill?
        The friendly word you meant to say,
          Is that unspoken still?--
        Then, remember, 'twas the Angels
          Brought glad tidings of good will!

    Of all the gifts of Christmas, are you fain to win the best?
    Lo! the Christ-child still is waiting Himself to be your guest;
    No lot so high or lowly but He will take His part,
    If you do but bid Him welcome to a clean and tender heart.
        Are you sleeping, are you waking?
          To the Manger haste away,
        And you shall see a wond'rous sight
          Amid the straw and hay.--
       'Tis Love Himself Incarnate
          As on this Christmas Day!

       *       *       *       *       *

A SIMPLE BILL OF FARE FOR A CHRISTMAS DINNER

H.H.

All good recipe-books give bills of fare for different occasions, bills
of fare for grand dinners, bills of fare for little dinners; dinners to
cost so much per head; dinners "which can be easily prepared with one
servant," and so on. They give bills of fare for one week; bills of fare
for each day in a month, to avoid too great monotony in diet. There are
bills of fare for dyspeptics; bills of fare for consumptives; bills of
fare for fat people, and bills of fare for thin; and bills of fare for
hospitals, asylums, and prisons, as well as for gentlemen's houses. But
among them all, we never saw the one which we give below. It has never
been printed in any book; but it has been used in families. We are not
drawing on our imagination for its items. We have sat at such dinners;
we have helped prepare such dinners; we believe in such dinners; they
are within everybody's means. In fact, the most marvellous thing about
this bill of fare is that the dinner does not cost a cent. Ho! all ye
that are hungry and thirsty, and would like so cheap a Christmas dinner,
listen to this:

    BILL OF FARE FOR A CHRISTMAS DINNER

_First Course_--Gladness.

This must be served hot. No two housekeepers make it alike; no fixed
rule can be given for it. It depends, like so many of the best things,
chiefly on memory; but, strangely enough, it depends quite as much on
proper forgetting as on proper remembering. Worries must be forgotten.
Troubles must be forgotten. Yes, even sorrow itself must be denied and
shut out. Perhaps this is not quite possible. Ah! we all have seen
Christmas days on which sorrow would not leave our hearts nor our
houses. But even sorrow can be compelled to look away from its sorrowing
for a festival hour which is so solemnly joyous at Christ's Birthday.
Memory can be filled full of other things to be remembered. No soul is
entirely destitute of blessings, absolutely without comfort. Perhaps we
have but one. Very well; we can think steadily of that one, if we try.
But the probability is that we have more than we can count. No man has
yet numbered the blessings, the mercies, the joys of God. We are all
richer than we think; and if we once set ourselves to reckoning up the
things of which we are glad, we shall be astonished at their number.

Gladness, then, is the first item, the first course on our bill of fare
for a Christmas dinner.

_Entrées._--Love garnished with Smiles.

GENTLENESS, with sweet-wine sauce of Laughter.

GRACIOUS SPEECH, cooked with any fine, savory herbs, such as Frollery,
which is always in season, or Pleasant Reminiscence, which no one need
be without, as it keeps for years, sealed or unsealed.

_Second Course_--HOSPITALITY.

The precise form of this also depends on individual preferences. We are
not undertaking here to give exact recipes, only a bill of fare.

In some houses Hospitality is brought on surrounded with Relatives. This
is very well. In others, it is dished up with Dignitaries of all sorts;
men and women of position and estate for whom the host has special
likings or uses. This gives a fine effect to the eye, but cools quickly,
and is not in the long-run satisfying.

In a third class, best of all, it is served in simple shapes, but with a
great variety of Unfortunate Persons,--such as lonely people from
lodging-houses, poor people of all grades, widows and childless in their
affliction. This is the kind most preferred; in fact, never abandoned by
those who have tried it.

_For Dessert._--MIRTH, in glasses.

GRATITUDE and FAITH beaten together and piled up in snowy shapes. These
will look light if run over night in the moulds of Solid Trust and
Patience.

A dish of the bonbons Good Cheer and Kindliness with every-day mottoes;
Knots and Reasons in shape of Puzzles and Answers; the whole ornamented
with Apples of Gold in Pictures of Silver, of the kind mentioned in the
Book of Proverbs.

This is a short and simple bill of fare. There is not a costly thing in
it; not a thing which cannot be procured without difficulty.

If meat be desired, it can be added. That is another excellence about
our bill of fare. It has nothing in it which makes it incongruous with
the richest or the plainest tables. It is not overcrowded by the
addition of roast goose and plum-pudding; it is not harmed by the
addition of herring and potatoes. Nay, it can give flavor and richness
to broken bits of stale bread served on a doorstep and eaten by beggars.

We might say much more about this bill of fare. We might, perhaps,
confess that it has an element of the supernatural; that its origin is
lost in obscurity; that, although, as we said, it has never been printed
before, it has been known in all ages; that the martyrs feasted upon it;
that generations of the poor, called blessed by Christ, have laid out
banquets by it; that exiles and prisoners have lived on it; and the
despised and forsaken and rejected in all countries have tasted it. It
is also true that when any great king ate well and throve on his dinner,
it was by the same magic food. The young and the free and the glad, and
all rich men in costly houses, even they have not been well fed without
it.

And though we have called it a Bill of Fare for a Christmas Dinner, that
is only that men's eyes may be caught by its name, and that they,
thinking it a specialty for festival, may learn and understand its
secret, and henceforth, laying all their dinners according to its magic
order, may "eat unto the Lord."

       *       *       *       *       *

    A BALLADE OF OLD LOVES

    CAROLYN WELLS

    Who is it stands on the polished stair,
      A merry, laughing, winsome maid,
    From the Christmas rose in her golden hair
      To the high-heeled slippers of spangled suède
    A glance, half daring and half afraid,
      Gleams from her roguish eyes downcast;
    Already the vision begins to fade--
      'Tis only a ghost of a Christmas Past.

    Who is it sits in that high-backed chair,
      Quaintly in ruff and patch arrayed,
    With a mockery gay of a stately air
      As she rustles the folds of her old brocade,--
    Merriest heart at the masquerade?
      Ah, but the picture is passing fast
    Back to the darkness from which it strayed--
      'Tis only a ghost of a Christmas Past.

    Who is it whirls in a ball-room's glare,
      Her soft white hand on my shoulder laid,
    Like a radiant lily, tall and fair,
      While the violins in the corner played
    The wailing strains of the Serenade?
      Oh, lovely vision, too sweet to last--
    E'en now my fancy it will evade--
      'Tis only a ghost of a Christmas Past.

    L'ENVOI

    Rosamond! look not so dismayed,
      All of my heart, dear love, thou hast
    Jealous, beloved? Of a shade?--
      'Tis only a ghost of a Christmas Past.

       *       *       *       *       *

    BALLADE OF CHRISTMAS GHOSTS

    ANDREW LANG

    Between the moonlight and the fire
    In winter twilights long ago,
    What ghosts we raised for your desire,
    To make your merry blood run slow!
    How old, how grave, how wise we grow!
    No Christmas ghost can make us chill,
    Save those that troop in mournful row,
    The ghosts we all can raise at will!

    The beasts can talk in barn and byre
    On Christmas Eve, old legends know.
    As year by year the years retire,
    We men fall silent then I trow,
    Such sights hath memory to show,
    Such voices from the silence thrill,
    Such shapes return with Christmas snow,--
    The ghosts we all can raise at will.

    Oh, children of the village choir,
    Your carols on the midnight throw,
    Oh, bright across the mist and mire,
    Ye ruddy hearths of Christmas glow!
    Beat back the dread, beat down the woe,
    Let's cheerily descend the hill;
    Be welcome all, to come or go,
    The ghosts we all can raise at will.

    ENVOY

    Friend, sursum corda, soon or slow
    We part, like guests who've joyed their fill;
    Forget them not, nor mourn them so,
    The ghosts we all can raise at will.

       *       *       *       *       *

    HANG UP THE BABY'S STOCKING

    [Emily Huntington Miller]

    Hang up the baby's stocking:
      Be sure you don't forget;
    The dear little dimpled darling!
      She ne'er saw Christmas yet;
    But I've told her all about it,
      And she opened her big blue eyes,
    And I'm sure she understood it--
      She looked so funny and wise.

    Dear! what a tiny stocking!
      It doesn't take much to hold
    Such little pink toes as baby's
      Away from the frost and cold.
    But then for the baby's Christmas
      It will never do at all;
    Why, Santa wouldn't be looking
      For anything half so small.

    I know what will do for the baby.
      I've thought of the very best plan:
    I'll borrow a stocking of grandma,
      The longest that ever I can;
    And you'll hang it by mine, dear mother,
      Right here in the corner, so!
    And write a letter to Santa,
      And fasten it on to the toe.

    Write, "This is the baby's stocking
      That hangs in the corner here;
    You never have seen her, Santa,
      For she only came this year;
    But she's just the blessedest baby!
      And now, before you go,
    Just cram her stocking with goodies,
      From the top clean down to the toe."

       *       *       *       *       *

    THE NEWEST THING IN CHRISTMAS CAROLS

    ANONYMOUS

    God rest you, merry gentlemen!
      May nothing you dismay;
    Not even the dyspeptic plats
      Through which you'll eat your way;
    Nor yet the heavy Christmas bills
      The season bids you pay;
    No, nor the ever tiresome need
      Of being to order gay;

    Nor yet the shocking cold you'll catch
      If fog and slush hold sway;
    Nor yet the tumbles you must bear
      If frost should win the day;
    Nor sleepless nights--they're sure to come--
      When "waits" attune their lay;
    Nor pantomimes, whose dreariness
      Might turn macassar gray;

    Nor boisterous children, home in heaps,
      And ravenous of play;
    Nor yet--in fact, the host of ills
      Which Christmases array.
    God rest you, merry gentlemen,
      May none of these dismay!

       *       *       *       *       *

A CHRISTMAS LETTER FROM AUSTRALIA

DOUGLAS SLADEN

    'Tis Christmas, and the North wind blows; 'twas two years yesterday
    Since from the Lusitania's bows I looked o'er Table Bay,
    A tripper round the narrow world, a pilgrim of the main,
    Expecting when her sails unfurled to start for home again.

    'Tis Christmas, and the North wind blows; to-day our hearts are one,
    Though you are 'mid the English snows and I in Austral sun;
    You, when you hear the Northern blast, pile high a mightier fire,
    Our ladies cower until it's past in lawn and lace attire.

    I fancy I can picture you upon this Christmas night,
    Just sitting as you used to do, the laughter at its height;
    And then a sudden, silent pause intruding on your glee,
    And kind eyes glistening because you chanced to think of me.

    This morning when I woke and knew 'twas Christmas come again,
    I almost fancied I could view white rime upon the pane,
    And hear the ringing of the wheels upon the frosty ground,
    And see the drip that downward steals in icy casket bound.

    I daresay you'll be on the lake, or sliding on the snow,
    And breathing on your hands to make the circulation flow,
    Nestling your nose among the furs of which your boa's made,--
    The Fahrenheit here registers a hundred in the shade.

    It is not quite a Christmas here with this unclouded sky,
    This pure transparent atmosphere, this sun mid-heaven-high;
    To see the rose upon the bush, young leaves upon the trees,
    And hear the forest's summer hush or the low hum of bees.

    But cold winds bring not Christmastide, nor budding roses June,
    And when it's night upon your side we're basking in the noon.
    Kind hearts make Christmas--June can bring blue sky or clouds above;
    The only universal spring is that which comes of love.

    And so it's Christmas in the South as on the North-sea coasts,
    Though we are staved with summer-drouth and you with winter frosts.
    And we shall have our roast beef here, and think of you the while,
    Though all the watery hemisphere cuts off the mother isle.

    Feel sure that we shall think of you, we who have wandered forth,
    And many a million thoughts will go to-day from south to north;
    Old heads will muse on churches old, where bells will ring to-day--
    The very bells, perchance, which tolled their fathers to the clay.

    And now, good-night! and I shall dream that I am with you all,
    Watching the ruddy embers gleam athwart the panelled hall;
    Nor care I if I dream or not, though severed by the foam,
    My heart is always in the spot which was my childhood's home.

       *       *       *       *       *

    CHRISTMAS

    ROSE TERRY COOKE

    Here comes old Father Christmas,
      With sound of fife and drums;
    With mistletoe about his brows,
      So merrily he comes!
    His arms are full of all good cheer,
      His face with laughter glows,
    He shines like any household fire
      Amid the cruel snows.
    He is the old folks' Christmas;
      He warms their hearts like wine;
    He thaws their winter into spring,
      And makes their faces shine.
    Hurrah for Father Christmas!
      Ring all the merry bells!
    And bring the grandsires all around
      To hear the tale he tells.

    Here comes the Christmas angel,
      So gentle and so calm;
    As softly as the falling flakes
      He comes with flute and psalm.
    All in a cloud of glory,
      As once upon the plain
    To shepherd-boys in Jewry,
      He brings good news again.
    He is the young folks' Christmas;
      He makes their eyes grow bright
    With words of hope and tender thought,
      And visions of delight.
    Hail to the Christmas angel!
      All peace on earth he brings;
    He gathers all the youths and maids
      Beneath his shining wings.

    Here comes the little Christ-child,
      All innocence and joy,
    And bearing gifts in either hand
      For every girl and boy.
    He tells the tender story
      About the Holy Maid,
    And Jesus in the manger
      Before the oxen laid.
    Like any little winter bird
      He sings his sweetest song,
    Till all the cherubs in the sky
      To hear his carol throng.
    He is the children's Christmas;
      They come without a call,
    To gather round the gracious Child,
      Who bringeth joy to all.

    But who shall bring _their_ Christmas
      Who wrestle still with life?
    Not grandsires, youths, or little folks,
      But they who wage the strife--
    The fathers and the mothers
      Who fight for homes and bread,
    Who watch and ward the living,
      And bury all the dead?
    Ah! by their side at Christmas-tide
      The Lord of Christmas stands:
    He smooths the furrows from their brow
      With strong and tender hands.
    "I take my Christmas gift," He saith,
      "From thee, tired soul, and he
    Who giveth to My little ones
      Gives also unto Me."

       *       *       *       *       *



IV

STORIES



THE FIR TREE

HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN

Out in the forest stood a pretty little Fir Tree. It had a good place;
it could have sunlight, air there was in plenty, and all around grew
many larger comrades--pines as well as firs. But the little Fir Tree
wished ardently to become greater. It did not care for the warm sun and
the fresh air; it took no notice of the peasant children, who went about
talking together, when they had come out to look for strawberries and
raspberries. Often they came with a whole pot-full, or had strung
berries on a straw; then they would sit down by the little Fir Tree and
say, "How pretty and small that one is!" and the Tree did not like to
hear that at all.

Next year he had grown a great joint, and the following year he was
longer still, for in fir trees one can always tell by the number of
rings they have how many years they have been growing.

"Oh, if I were only as great a tree as the others!" sighed the little
Fir, "then I would spread my branches far around, and look out from my
crown into the wide world. The birds would then build nests in my
boughs, and when the wind blew I could nod just as grandly as the others
yonder."

He took no pleasure in the sunshine, in the birds, and in the red clouds
that went sailing over him morning and evening.

When it was winter, and the snow lay all around, white and sparkling, a
hare would often come jumping along, and spring right over the little
Fir Tree. Oh! this made him so angry. But two winters went by, and when
the third came the little Tree had grown so tall that the hare was
obliged to run around it.

"Oh! to grow, to grow, and become old; that's the only fine thing in the
world," thought the Tree.

In the autumn woodcutters always came and felled a few of the largest
trees; that was done this year too, and the little Fir Tree, that was
now quite well grown, shuddered with fear, for the great stately trees
fell to the ground with a crash, and their branches were cut off, so
that the trees looked quite naked, long, and slender--they could hardly
be recognized. But then they were laid upon waggons, and horses dragged
them away out of the wood. Where were they going? What destiny awaited
them?

In the spring, when the swallows and the Stork came, the Tree asked
them, "Do you know where they were taken? Did you not meet them?"

The swallows knew nothing about it, but the Stork looked thoughtful,
nodded his head, and said,

"Yes, I think so. I met many new ships when I flew out of Egypt; on the
ships were stately masts; I fancy that these were the trees. They smelt
like fir. I can assure you they're stately--very stately."

"Oh that I were only big enough to go over the sea! What kind of thing
is this sea, and how does it look?"

"It would take too long to explain all that," said the Stork, and he
went away.

"Rejoice in thy youth," said the Sunbeams; "rejoice in thy fresh growth,
and in the young life that is within thee."

And the wind kissed the Tree, and the dew wept tears upon it; but the
Fir Tree did not understand that.

When Christmas-time approached, quite young trees were felled, sometimes
trees which were neither so old nor so large as this Fir Tree, that
never rested but always wanted to go away. These young trees, which were
almost the most beautiful, kept all their branches; they were put upon
wagons, and horses dragged them away out of the wood.

"Where are they all going?" asked the Fir Tree. "They are not greater
than I--indeed, one of them was much smaller. Why do they keep all their
branches? Whither are they taken?"

"We know that! We know that!" chirped the Sparrows. "Yonder in the town
we looked in at the windows. We know where they go. Oh! they are dressed
up in the greatest pomp and splendor that can be imagined. We have
looked in at the windows, and have perceived that they are planted in
the middle of the warm room, and adorned with the most beautiful
things--gilt apples, honey-cakes, playthings, and many hundreds of
candles."

"And then?" asked the Fir Tree, and trembled through all its branches.
"And then? What happens then?"

"Why, we have not seen anything more. But it was incomparable."

"Perhaps I may be destined to tread this glorious path one day!" cried
the Fir Tree rejoicingly. "That is even better than traveling across the
sea. How painfully I long for it! If it were only Christmas now! Now I
am great and grown up, like the rest who were led away last year. Oh, if
I were only on the carriage! If I were only in the warm room, among all
the pomp and splendor! And then? Yes, then something even better will
come, something far more charming, or else why should they adorn me so?
There must be something grander, something greater still to come; but
what? Oh, I'm suffering, I'm longing! I don't know myself what is the
matter with me!"

"Rejoice in us," said Air and Sunshine, "Rejoice in thy fresh youth here
in the woodland."

But the Fir Tree did not rejoice at all, but it grew and grew; winter
and summer it stood there, green, dark green. The people who saw it
said, "That's a handsome tree!" and at Christmas-time it was felled
before any one of the others. The axe cut deep into its marrow, and the
tree fell to the ground with a sigh: it felt a pain, a sensation of
faintness, and could not think at all of happiness, for it was sad at
parting from its home, from the place where it had grown up: it knew
that it should never again see the dear old companions, the little
bushes and flowers all around--perhaps not even the birds. The parting
was not at all agreeable.

The Tree only came to itself when it was unloaded in a yard, with other
trees, and heard a man say,

"This one is famous; we only want this one!"

Now two servants came in gay liveries, and carried the Fir Tree into a
large beautiful saloon. All around the walls hung pictures, and by the
great stove stood large Chinese vases with lions on the covers; there
were rocking-chairs, silken sofas, great tables covered with
picture-books, and toys worth a hundred times a hundred dollars, at
least the children said so. And the Fir Tree was put into a great tub
filled with sand; but no one could see that it was a tub, for it was
hung round with green cloth, and stood on a large many-colored carpet.
Oh, how the Tree trembled! What was to happen now? The servants, and the
young ladies also, decked it out. On one branch they hung little nets,
cut out of colored paper; every net was filled with sweetmeats; golden
apples and walnuts hung down as if they grew there, and more than a
hundred little candles, red, white, and blue, were fastened to the
different boughs. Dolls that looked exactly like real people--the Tree
had never seen such before--swung among the foliage, and high on the
summit of the Tree was fixed a tinsel star. It was splendid,
particularly splendid.

"This evening," said all, "this evening it will shine."

"Oh," thought the Tree, "that it were evening already! Oh that the
lights may be soon lit up! When may that be done? I wonder if trees will
come out of the forest to look at me? Will the sparrows fly against the
panes? Shall I grow fast here, and stand adorned in summer and winter?"

Yes, he did not guess badly. But he had a complete backache from mere
longing, and the backache is just as bad for a Tree as the headache for
a person.

At last the candles were lighted. What a brilliance, what splendor! The
Tree trembled so in all its branches that one of the candles set fire to
a green twig, and it was scorched.

"Heaven preserve us!" cried the young ladies; and they hastily put the
fire out.

Now the Tree might not even tremble. Oh, that was terrible! It was so
afraid of setting fire to some of its ornaments, and it was quite
bewildered with all the brilliance. And now the folding doors were
thrown open, and a number of children rushed in as if they would have
overturned the whole Tree; the older people followed more deliberately.
The little ones stood quite silent, but only for a minute; then they
shouted till the room rang: they danced gleefully round the Tree, and
one present after another was plucked from it.

"What are they about?" laughed the Tree. "What's going to be done?"

And the candles burned down to the twigs, and as they burned down they
were extinguished, and then the children received permission to plunder
the Tree. Oh! they rushed in upon it, so that every branch cracked
again: if it had not been fastened by the top and by the golden star to
the ceiling, it would have fallen down.

The children danced about with their pretty toys. No one looked at the
Tree except one old man, who came up and peeped among the branches, but
only to see if a fig or an apple had not been forgotten.

"A story! a story!" shouted the children: and they drew a little fat man
towards the Tree; and he sat down just beneath it,--"for then we shall
be in the green wood," said he, "and the tree may have the advantage of
listening to my tale. But I can only tell one. Will you hear the story
of Ivede-Avede, or of Klumpey-Dumpey, who fell down stairs, and still
was raised up to honor and married the Princess?"

"Ivede-Avede!" cried some, "Klumpey-Dumpey!" cried others, and there was
a great crying and shouting. Only the Fir Tree was quite silent, and
thought, "Shall I not be in it? shall I have nothing to do in it?" But
he had been in the evening's amusement, and had done what was required
of him.

And the fat man told about Klumpey-Dumpey, who fell down stairs, and yet
was raised to honor and married the Princess. And the children clapped
their hands, and cried, "Tell another! tell another!" for they wanted to
hear about Ivede-Avede; but they only got the story of Klumpey-Dumpey.
The Fir Tree stood quite silent and thoughtful; never had the birds in
the wood told such a story as that. Klumpey-Dumpey fell down stairs, and
yet came to honor and married the Princess!

"Yes, so it happens in the world!" thought the Fir Tree, and believed it
must be true, because that was such a nice man who told it. "Well, who
can know? Perhaps I shall fall down stairs too, and marry a Princess!"
And it looked forward with pleasure to being adorned again, the next
evening, with candles and toys, gold and fruit. "To-morrow I shall not
tremble," it thought. "I will rejoice in all my splendor. To-morrow I
shall hear the story of Klumpey-Dumpey again, and, perhaps, that of
Ivede-Avede too."

And the Tree stood all night quiet and thoughtful.

In the morning the servants and the chambermaid came in.

"Now my splendor will begin afresh," thought the Tree. But they dragged
him out of the room, and up stairs to the garret, and here they put him
in a dark corner where no daylight shone.

"What's the meaning of this?" thought the Tree. "What am I to do here?
What is to happen?"

And he leaned against the wall, and thought, and thought. And he had
time enough, for days and nights went by, and nobody came up; and when
at length some one came, it was only to put some great boxes in a
corner. Now the Tree stood quite hidden away, and the supposition was
that it was quite forgotten.

"Now it's winter outside," thought the Tree. "The earth is hard and
covered with snow, and people cannot plant me; therefore I suppose I'm
to be sheltered here until spring comes. How considerate that is! How
good people are! If it were only not so dark here, and so terribly
solitary!--not even a little hare! That was pretty out there in the
wood, when the snow lay thick and the hare sprang past; yes, even when
he jumped over me; but then I did not like it. It is terribly lonely up
here!"

"Piep! piep!" said a little Mouse, and crept forward, and then came
another little one. They smelt at the Fir Tree, and then slipped among
the branches.

"It's horribly cold," said the two little Mice, "or else it would be
comfortable here. Don't you think so, you old Fir Tree?"

"I'm not old at all," said the Fir Tree. "There are many much older than
I."

"Where do you come from?" asked the Mice. "And what do you know?" They
were dreadfully inquisitive. "Tell us about the most beautiful spot on
earth. Have you been there? Have you been in the store-room, where
cheeses lie on the shelves, and hams hang from the ceiling, where one
dances on tallow candles, and goes in thin and comes out fat?"

"I don't know that!" replied the Tree; "but I know the wood, where the
sun shines, and where the birds sing."

And then it told all about its youth.

And the little Mice had never heard anything of the kind; and they
listened and said,

"What a number of things you have seen! How happy you must have been!"

"I?" said the Fir Tree; and it thought about what it had told. "Yes,
those were really quite happy times." But then he told of the
Christmas-eve, when he had been hung with sweetmeats and candles.

"Oh!" said the little Mice, "how happy you have been, you old Fir Tree!"

"I'm not old at all," said the Tree. "I only came out of the wood this
winter. I'm only rather backward in my growth."

"What splendid stories you can tell!" said the little Mice.

And next night they came with four other little Mice, to hear what the
Tree had to relate; and the more it said, the more clearly did it
remember everything, and thought, "Those were quite merry days! But they
may come again. Klumpey-Dumpey fell down stairs, and yet he married the
Princess. Perhaps I may marry a Princess too!" And then the Fir Tree
thought of a pretty little birch tree that grew out in the forest: for
the Fir Tree, that birch was a real Princess.

"Who's Klumpey-Dumpey?" asked the little Mice.

And then the Fir Tree told the whole story. It could remember every
single word: and the little Mice were ready to leap to the very top of
the tree with pleasure. Next night a great many more Mice came, and on
Sunday two Rats even appeared; but these thought the story was not
pretty, and the little Mice were sorry for that, for now they also did
not like it so much as before.

"Do you only know one story?" asked the Rats.

"Only that one," replied the Tree. "I heard that on the happiest evening
of my life; I did not think then how happy I was."

"That's a very miserable story. Don't you know any about bacon and
tallow candles--a store-room story?"

"No," said the Tree.

"Then we'd rather not hear you," said the Rats.

And they went back to their own people. The little Mice at last stayed
away also; and then the Tree sighed and said,

"It was very nice when they sat round me, the merry little Mice, and
listened when I spoke to them. Now that's past too. But I shall remember
to be pleased when they take me out."

But when did that happen? Why, it was one morning that people came and
rummaged in the garret: the boxes were put away, and the Tree brought
out; they certainly threw him rather roughly on the floor, but a servant
dragged him away at once to the stairs, where the daylight shone.

"Now life is beginning again," thought the Tree.

It felt the fresh air and the first sunbeams, and now it was out in the
courtyard. Everything passed so quickly that the Tree quite forgot to
look at itself, there was so much to look at all round. The courtyard
was close to a garden, and here everything was blooming; the roses hung
fresh and fragrant over the little paling, the linden trees were in
blossom, and the swallows cried, "Quinze-wit! quinze-wit! my husband's
come!" But it was not the Fir Tree that they meant.

"Now I shall live!" said the Tree, rejoicingly, and spread its branches
far out; but, alas! they were all withered and yellow; and it lay in the
corner among nettles and weeds. The tinsel star was still upon it, and
shone in the bright sunshine.

In the courtyard a couple of the merry children were playing, who had
danced round the tree at Christmas-time, and had rejoiced over it. One
of the youngest ran up and tore off the golden star.

"Look what is sticking to the ugly old fir tree," said the child, and he
trod upon the branches till they cracked again under his boots.

And the Tree looked at all the blooming flowers and the splendor of the
garden, and then looked at itself, and wished it had remained in the
dark corner of the garret; it thought of its fresh youth in the wood, of
the merry Christmas-eve, and of the little Mice which had listened so
pleasantly to the story of Klumpey-Dumpey.

"Past! past!" said the old Tree. "Had I but rejoiced when I could have
done so! Past! past!"

And the servant came and chopped the Tree into little pieces; a whole
bundle lay there, it blazed brightly under the great brewing copper, and
it sighed deeply, and each sigh was like a little shot: and the children
who were at play there ran up and seated themselves at the fire, looked
into it, and cried, "Puff! puff!" But at each explosion, which was a
deep sigh, the Tree thought of a summer day in the woods, or of a winter
night there, when the stars beamed; he thought of Christmas-eve and of
Klumpey-Dumpey, the only story he had ever heard or knew how to tell;
and then the Tree was burned.

The boys played in the garden, and the youngest had on his breast a
golden star, which the Tree had worn on its happiest evening. Now that
was past, and the Tree's life was past, and the story is past too: past!
past!--and that's the way with all stories.

       *       *       *       *       *

LITTLE ROGER'S NIGHT IN THE CHURCH

SUSAN COOLIDGE

The boys and girls had fastened the last sprig of holly upon the walls,
and then gone to their homes, leaving the old church silent and
deserted. The sun had set in a sky clear and yellow as topaz. Christmas
eve had fairly come, and now the moon was rising, a full moon, and all
the world looked white in the silver light. Every bough of every tree
sparkled with a delicate coating of frost, the pines and cedars were
great shapes of dazzling snow, even the ivy on the gothic tower hung a
glittering arabesque on the gray wall. Never was there a lovelier night.

That light that you see yonder comes from the window of old Andrew, the
sexton, and inside sits his grandson, little Roger, eating his supper of
porridge. The kitchen is in apple-pie order, chairs and tables have been
scrubbed as white as snow, the tins on the dresser shine like silver,
the hearth is swept clean, and Grandfather's chair is drawn into the
warmest corner. Grandfather is not sitting in it though; he has gone to
the church to put the fire in order for the night, lock up the doors,
and make all safe.

Grandmother, in her clean stuff gown and apron, is mounted upon a chair
to stick a twig of holly on the tall clock in the corner. And now, as
she turns round, what a pleasant face she shows us, does she not? Old
and wrinkled, to be sure, but so good-natured and gentle that she is
prettier than many a young girl even now. Is it any wonder that little
Roger there is so fond of her?

Now another bit of holly is wanted on the chimney-piece; and it is while
putting this up that the dear old dame gives sign that something has
gone wrong. "Ts, ts, ts,--deary me!"

"What's the matter, Granny?" said Roger.

"Why, Roger," replied Granny, carefully dismounting from her chair,
"look here, Grandfather has gone off and forgot his keys. He took 'em
from the door this morning, because last year some of the young folks
let 'em drop in the snow, and had a sad time hunting for them. He knew
they would be in and out all day, so he just opened the door and brought
the keys home. Deary me! it's a cold night for old bones to be out of
doors. Would'st be afeard, little 'un, to run up with them?"

"Not a bit," said Roger, stoutly, as he crammed the last spoonful of
porridge in his mouth, and seized hat and mittens from the table. "I'll
take 'em down in a minute. Granny, and then run home. Mother'll want me
in the morning, likely."

For Roger's parents lived in a cottage near the old people, and the boy
often said that he had two homes, and belonged half in one and half in
the other, and the small press-bed in Granny's loft seemed as much his
own as the cot in the corner of his mother's sleeping-room, and was
occupied almost as often. So, after a good-night hug from Granny, off he
ran. The church was near, and the moon light as day, so he never thought
of being afraid, not even when, as he brushed by the dark tower,
something stirred overhead, and a long, melancholy cry came shuddering
from the ivy. Roger knew the owls in the belfry well, and now he called
out to them cheerily: "To-whit-whit-whoo!"

"Whoo-whoo-whit!" answered the owls, startled by the cry. Roger could
hear them fluttering in the nest.

The church-door stood ajar, and he peeped in. The glow from the open
door of the stove showed Grandfather's figure, red and warm, stooping to
cover the fire with ashes for the night. He was so busy he never knew
the boy was there till he got close to him and jingled the keys in his
ear; but after one start he laughed, well pleased.

"I but just missed them," he said. "Thou'rt a good boy to fetch them up.
Art going home with me to-night?"

"No, I'm to sleep at my mother's," said Roger, "but I'll wait and walk
with you, Grandfather." So he slipped into a pew, and sat down till the
work should be finished, and they ready to go; and as he looked up he
saw all at once how beautiful the old church was looking.

The moon outside was streaming in so brightly, that you hardly missed
the sun, Roger could see distinctly way up to the carved beams of the
roof, and trace the figures on the great arched windows over the altar,
whose colors had so often dazzled him on Sundays. The colors were soft
and dim now, but the figures were there. Roger could see them
plainly,--the sitting figure of the Lord Christ, with St. Matthew and
two other apostles, and the fisher-lad with his basket of fish. He had
often asked Granny to read him the story.

That gleam at the further end of the nave came from the organ-loft,
where the moonbeams had found out the great brass pipes, and were
playing all manner of tricks with them. Almost the red of the
holly-berries could be seen, and every pointed ivy-leaf and spike of
evergreen in the wreathings of the windows stood out in bold relief
against the shining panes. With this beautiful whiteness the red glow of
the fire blended, and flooded the chancel with a lovely pink light, in
which shone the gilded letters on the commandment-tables, and the
brasses of the tablets on the walls. It was a wonderful thing to see.

To study the roof better, Roger thought he would lie flat on the cushion
awhile, and look straight up. So he arranged himself comfortably, and
somehow--it _will_ happen, even when we are full of enjoyment and
pleasure--his eyes shut, and the first thing he knew he was rubbing them
open again, only a minute afterward, as it seemed; but Grandfather was
gone. There was the stove closed for the night, and the great door at
the end of the aisle was shut. He jumped up in a fright, as you can
imagine, and ran to see, and shook it hard. No: it was locked, and poor
Roger was fastened in for the night.

He understood it all in a moment. The tall pew had hidden him from
sight. Grandfather had thought him gone home; his mother would ever
doubt that he was safe at the other cottage; no one would miss him, and
there was no chance of being let out before morning.

He was only six years old, so no wonder that at first he felt choked and
frightened, and inclined to cry. But he was a brave lad, and that idea
soon left him. He began to think that he was not badly off, after
all,--the church was warm, the pew-cushion as soft as his bed. No one
could get in to harm him. In fact, after the first moment, there was
something so exciting and adventurous in the idea of spending the night
in such a place, that he was almost glad the accident had happened. So
he went back to the pew, and tried to go to sleep again.

That was not so easy. Did you ever get thoroughly waked up in the night
by a sudden fright? Do you remember how your eyes wouldn't stay shut
afterward, even when you closed them tight, but jerked open almost
against your will, as if a string was fastened to them and some one was
twitching it? Just so poor Roger felt. He lay still and kept himself
quiet for a moment, and then some little noise would come, and his heart
beat and his eyes be wide open in a minute. It was a coal dropping from
the fire, or a slight crack on the frosty panes: once a little mouse
crept out from the chancel, glaring shyly about with his bright eyes,
nibbled a moment at a leaf on the carpet and then crept back again. No
other living thing disturbed the quiet.

He had heard the clock strike eleven a long time since, and was lying
with eyes half shut, gazing at the red fire-grate, and feeling at last a
little drowsy, when all at once a strange rush and thrill seemed to come
to him in the air, like a cool clear wind blowing through the church,
and in one minute he was wide awake and sitting upright, with ears
strained to catch some sound afar off. It was too distant and faint for
ordinary sense, but a new and sharper power of hearing seemed given him.
Little voices were speaking high in the air, outside the church,--very
odd ones, like birds' notes, and yet the words were plain. He listened
and listened, and made out at last that it was the owls in the tower
talking together.

"Hoo, hoo, why don't you lie still there?" said one.

"Whit-whoo-whit," said the other, "I can't. I know what is coming too
well for that."

"What is coming,--what, what?" said two voices together.

"Ah! you'll see soon," replied the first. "The elves are coming, the
hateful Christmas elves. You'll not get a wink of sleep to-night."

"Why not? What will they do to us?" chirped the young ones.

"You'll see," hooted the old owl. "You'll see! They'll pull your tails,
and tickle your feathers, and prick you with thorns. I know them, the
tricksy, troublesome things! I've been here many a long year. You were
only hatched last summer. To-whoo, to-whoo!"

Just at this moment the church-clock began to strike twelve. At the
first clang the owls ceased to hoot, and Roger listened to the deep
notes, almost awe-struck, as they sounded one by one. He knew the voice
of the clock well, but it never before sounded so loud or so solemn:
five--six--seven--eight--nine--ten--eleven--twelve. It was Christmas
Day.

As the last echo died away, a new sound took its place. From afar off
came the babble of tiny voices drawing nearer. Anything so gay and
charming was never dreamed of before,--half a laugh, half a song, the
tones blended into an enchanting peal, like bells on a frolic. Above the
old tower the sounds clustered and increased,--then a long, distressed
cry came from the owl, and a bubbling laugh floated in on the wind.
Roger could not stand it. Wild to see, he flew to the window, and tried
to stretch his neck in such a way as to catch what was going on above;
but it was a vain attempt, and just then the church-bells began to ring
all together, a chime, a Christmas chime, only the sounds were
infinitely small, as if baby hands had laid hold on the ropes. But his
sharpened senses brought every note and change to Roger's ears, and they
were so merry and so lovely that he felt he must get nearer or die; and
almost before he knew it he was climbing the dark belfry-stairs as fast
as his feet could carry him, never thinking of fear or darkness, only of
the elfin bells which were pealing overhead.

Up, up, through the long slits in the tower the moon could be seen
sailing in the cold, clear blue. Higher, higher,--at last he gained the
belfry. There hung the four great bells, but nobody was pulling at their
heavy ropes. On each iron tongue was perched a fay; on the chains which
suspended them clustered others, all keeping time by the swaying of
their bodies as they swung to and fro, just grazing either side, and
bringing forth a clear, delicate stroke, sweet as laughter,--just loud
enough for fairy ears.

Through the windows the crowd of floating fays could be seen whirling
about in the moonlight like glittering gossamer. They floated in and out
of the tower, they mounted the great bells and sat atop in swarms, they
chased and pushed each other, playing all sorts of pranks. Below, others
were attacking the owl's nest. Roger could hear their hoots and grunts
and the gleeful laughter of the elves. The moon made the tower light as
noon; all the time the elves sang or talked,--which, he could not tell;
there were words, but all so blent with laughs and mirthful trills that
it was nothing less than music.

To and fro, to and fro, keeping time to a fairy rhythm, they swayed in
unison with the tiny peal they rang. Little quarrels arose. Once Roger
watched an elf trying to mount the clapper, and whenever he neared the
top a mischievous comrade pushed him off again. Then the elf pouted,
and, flying away, he returned with a holly-leaf. Small as it was, it
curled over his head like a huge umbrella. With the spiky point he slyly
pricked the elf above; and he, taken by surprise, lost his hold, and
came tumbling down, while the other danced for glee and clapped his
hands mockingly. Pretty soon, however, all was made up again,--they
kissed and were friends,--and Roger saw them perched opposite each
other, and moving to and fro like children in a swing.

How long the pretty sight lasted he could not tell. So fearful was he of
marring the sport that he never stirred a finger; but all at once there
came a strain of music in the air, solemn, and sweeter than ever mortal
heard before. In a moment the elves left their sports; they clustered
like bees together in the window, and then flew from the tower in one
sparkling drift, and were gone, leaving Roger alone, and the owls
hooting below in the ivy.

And then he felt afraid,--which he had not been as long as the fays were
there,--and down he ran in a fright over the stone steps of the stairs,
and entered the church again. The red glow of the fire was grateful to
him, for he was shivering with cold and excitement; but hardly had he
regained his old seat, when, lo! a great marvel came to pass. The wide
window over the altar swung open, and a train of angels slowly floated
through. How he knew them to be angels, Roger could not have told; but
that they were, he was sure,--Christmas angels, with faces of calm,
glorious beauty, and robes as white as snow. Over the altar they
hovered, and a wonderful song rose and filled the church--no bird's
strain was ever half so sweet. The words were few, but again and again
and again they came: "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace,
good-will to men!"

Roger knew the oft-repeated words,--they were those of the great
evergreen motto which overarched the chancel; but I think he never
forgot the beautiful meaning they seemed to bear as the angels sang them
over and over. It was so wondrous sweet that he could not feel
afraid,--he could only gaze and gaze, and hold his breath lest he should
lose a note.

And the song rang on, clear and triumphant, even as the white-robed
choir parted and floated like soft summer clouds to and fro in the
church, pausing ever and anon as in blessing. They touched the leaves of
the Christmas green as they passed; they hung over the organ and brushed
the keys with their wings; a long time they clustered above the benches
of the poor, as if to leave a fragrance in the air; and then they rested
before a tablet which had been put up but a few months before, and which
bore the name of the rector's eldest son, and the dates of his birth and
death. Roger had been told of this brave lad, and how he had lost his
life in plunging from his ship to save the drowning child of an
emigrant; and now the angel-song seemed sweeter than ever, as over and
again they chanted, "Good-will to men,--good-will to men."

At last one of the white-winged ones left the others, and hovered awhile
above the Squire's pew, near which our little boy was hidden. A
prayer-book lay open on the rail, and over this the fair angel bent as
in benediction. A girl had sat there once,--the Squire's only daughter.
Roger remembered her well, and the mourning of the whole parish when,
only a twelvemonth ago, the lovely child had been buried from their
sight; and now, as he timidly glanced into the glorious face above him,
it seemed to him to have the same look, only so ineffably beautiful that
he closed his dazzled eyes to shut out the vision and the light that
shone from the white wings,--only for a moment, then he opened them
again, as a gentle rustling filled the air, and he saw the bending
figure stoop, leave a kiss or a blessing on the pages of the open book,
and then glide away with the others. Again the group hovered above the
altar,--louder and clearer rose the triumphant strain, and, noiseless as
a cloud, the snowy train floated to the window. For one moment their
figures could be seen against the sky, then the song died away,--they
were gone, and Roger saw them no more.

And now the light of dawn began to creep into the windows, twittering
sounds showed the birds awakening outside, and a pink streak appeared in
the sky. Too much rapt by his vision to feel impatience, the boy sat and
waited; and by and by a jingling in the lock showed Grandfather at
hand,--the door opened, and he came in.

You can guess his surprise when his little grandson flew to meet him
with his wonderful story. As for the story, he pooh-poohed
_that_,--sleeping in such a strange place might well bring about a queer
dream, he said; but he took the boy home to the cottage, and Granny,
full of wonderment and sympathy, speedily prepared a breakfast for her
darling after his adventure. But, even with his mouth full of scalding
bread and milk, Roger would go on telling of angels and fairies, and the
owls' talk in their nest, till both grandparents began to think him
bewitched.

Perhaps he was, for to this day he persists in the story. And though the
villagers that morning exclaimed that at no time had their old church,
in its Christmas dress, looked so beautiful before, and though the organ
sent forth a rarer, sweeter music than fingers had ever drawn from it,
still nobody believed a word of it. And though the poor mother, kneeling
in her lonely pew, and missing her darling from beside her, felt a
strange peace and patience enter her heart, and came away calmed and
blessed, still no one listened to the story. "Roger had dreamed it all,"
they said; and perhaps he had,--only the owls knew.

        *       *       *       *       *

MR. BLUFFS EXPERIENCES OF HOLIDAYS

OLIVER BELL BUNCE

"I hate holidays," said Bachelor Bluff to me, with some little
irritation, on a Christmas a few years ago. Then he paused an instant,
after which he resumed: "I don't mean to say that I hate to see people
enjoying themselves. But I hate holidays, nevertheless, because to me
they are always the dreariest and saddest days of the year. I shudder at
the name of holiday. I dread the approach of one, and thank Heaven when
it is over. I pass through, on a holiday, the most horrible sensations,
the bitterest feelings, the most oppressive melancholy; in fact, I am
not myself at holiday-times."

"Very strange," I ventured to interpose.

"A plague on it!" said he, almost with violence. "I'm not inhuman. I
don't wish anybody harm. I'm glad people can enjoy themselves. But I
hate holidays all the same. You see, this is the reason: I am a
bachelor; I am without kin; I am in a place that did not know me at
birth. And so, when holidays come around, there is no place anywhere for
me. I have friends, of course; I don't think I've been a very sulky,
shut-in, reticent fellow; and there is many a board that has a place for
me--but not at Christmas-time. At Christmas, the dinner is a family
gathering; and I've no family. There is such a gathering of kindred on
this occasion, such a reunion of family folk, that there is no place for
a friend, even if the friend be liked. Christmas, with all its
kindliness and charity and good-will, is, after all, deuced selfish.
Each little set gathers within its own circle; and people like me, with
no particular circle, are left in the lurch. So you see, on the day of
all the days in the year that my heart pines for good cheer, I'm without
an invitation.

"Oh, it's because I pine for good cheer," said the bachelor, sharply,
interrupting my attempt to speak, "that I hate holidays. If I were an
infernally selfish fellow, I wouldn't hate holidays. I'd go off and have
some fun all to myself, somewhere or somehow. But, you see, I hate to be
in the dark when all the rest of the world is in light. I hate holidays,
because I ought to be merry and happy on holidays, and can't.

"Don't tell me," he cried, stopping the word that was on my lips; "I
tell you, I hate holidays. The shops look merry, do they, with their
bright toys and their green branches? The pantomime is crowded with
merry hearts, is it? The circus and the show are brimful of fun and
laughter, are they? Well, they all make me miserable. I haven't any
pretty-faced girls or bright-eyed boys to take to the circus or the
show, and all the nice girls and fine boys of my acquaintance have their
uncles or their grand-dads or their cousins to take them to those
places; so, if I go, I must go alone. But I don't go. I can't bear the
chill of seeing everybody happy, and knowing myself so lonely and
desolate. Confound it, sir, I've too much heart to be happy under such
circumstances! I'm too humane, sir! And the result is, I hate holidays.
It's miserable to be out, and yet I can't stay at home, for I get
thinking of Christmases past. I can't read--the shadow of my heart makes
it impossible. I can't walk--for I see nothing but pictures through the
bright windows, and happy groups of pleasure-seekers. The fact is, I've
nothing to do but to hate holidays.--But will you not dine with me?"

Of course, I had to plead engagement with my own family circle, and I
couldn't quite invite Mr. Bluff home _that_ day, when Cousin Charles and
his wife, and Sister Susan and her daughter and three of my wife's kin,
had come in from the country, all to make a merry Christmas with us. I
felt sorry, but it was quite impossible, so I wished Mr. Bluff a "merry
Christmas," and hurried homeward through the cold and nipping air.

I did not meet Bachelor Bluff again until a week after Christmas of the
next year, when I learned some strange particulars of what occurred to
him after our parting on the occasion just described. I will let
Bachelor Bluff tell his adventure for himself:

"I went to church," said he, "and was as sad there as everywhere else.
Of course, the evergreens were pretty, and the music fine; but all
around me were happy groups of people, who could scarcely keep down
_merry_ Christmas long enough to do reverence to _sacred_ Christmas. And
nobody was alone but me. Every happy paterfamilias in his pew tantalized
me, and the whole atmosphere of the place seemed so much better suited
to every one else than me that I came away hating holidays worse than
ever. Then I went to the play, and sat down in a box all alone by
myself. Everybody seemed on the best of terms with everybody else, and
jokes and banter passed from one to another with the most good-natured
freedom. Everybody but me was in a little group of friends. I was the
only person in the whole theater that was alone. And then there was such
clapping of hands, and roars of laughter, and shouts of delight at all
the fun going on upon the stage, all of which was rendered doubly
enjoyable by everybody having somebody with whom to share and
interchange the pleasure, that my loneliness got simply unbearable, and
I hated holidays infinitely worse than ever.

"By five o'clock the holiday became so intolerable that I said I'd go
and get a dinner. The best dinner the town could provide. A sumptuous
dinner. A sumptuous dinner for one. A dinner with many courses, with
wines of the finest brands, with bright lights, with a cheerful fire,
with every condition of comfort--and I'd see if I couldn't for once
extract a little pleasure out of a holiday!

"The handsome dining-room at the club looked bright, but it was empty.
Who dines at this club on Christmas but lonely bachelors? There was a
flutter of surprise when I ordered a dinner, and the few attendants
were, no doubt, glad of something to break the monotony of the hours.

"My dinner was well served. The spacious room looked lonely; but the
white, snowy cloths, the rich window-hangings, the warm tints of the
walls, the sparkle of the fire in the steel grate, gave the room an air
of elegance and cheerfulness; and then the table at which I dined was
close to the window, and through the partly-drawn curtains were visible
centers of lonely, cold streets, with bright lights from many a window,
it is true, but there was a storm, and snow began whirling through the
street. I let my imagination paint the streets as cold and dreary as it
would, just to extract a little pleasure by way of contrast from the
brilliant room of which I was apparently sole master.

"I dined well, and recalled in fancy old, youthful Christmases, and
pledged mentally many an old friend, and my melancholy was mellowing
into a low, sad undertone, when, just as I was raising a glass of wine
to my lips, I was startled by a picture at the window-pane. It was a
pale, wild, haggard face, in a great cloud of black hair, pressed
against the glass. As I looked, it vanished. With a strange thrill at my
heart, which my lips mocked with a derisive sneer, I finished the wine
and set down the glass. It was, of course, only a beggar-girl that had
crept up to the window and stole a glance at the bright scene within;
but still the pale face troubled me a little, and threw a fresh shadow
on my heart. I filled my glass once more with wine, and was again about
to drink, when the face reappeared at the window. It was so white, so
thin, with eyes so large, wild, and hungry-looking, and the black,
unkempt hair, into which the snow had drifted, formed so strange and
weird a frame to the picture, that I was fairly startled. Replacing,
untasted, the liquor on the table, I rose and went close to the pane.
The face had vanished, and I could see no object within many feet of the
window. The storm had increased, and the snow was driving in wild gusts
through the streets, which were empty, save here and there a hurrying
wayfarer. The whole scene was cold, wild, and desolate, and I could not
repress a keen thrill of sympathy for the child, whoever it was, whose
only Christmas was to watch, in cold and storm, the rich banquet
ungratefully enjoyed by the lonely bachelor. I resumed my place at the
table; but the dinner was finished, and the wine had no further relish.
I was haunted by the vision at the window, and began, with an
unreasonable irritation at the interruption, to repeat with fresh warmth
my detestation of holidays. One couldn't even dine alone on a holiday
with any sort of comfort, I declared. On holidays one was tormented by
too much pleasure on one side, and too much misery on the other. And
then, I said, hunting for justification of my dislike of the day, 'How
many other people are, like me, made miserable by seeing the fullness of
enjoyment others possessed!

"Oh, yes, I know," sarcastically replied the bachelor to a comment of
mine; "of course, all magnanimous, generous, and noble-souled people
delight in seeing other people made happy, and are quite content to
accept this vicarious felicity. But I, you see, and this dear little
girl--"

"Dear little girl!"

"Oh, I forgot," said Bachelor Bluff, blushing a little, in spite of a
desperate effort not to do so, "I didn't tell you. Well, it was so
absurd! I kept thinking, thinking of the pale, haggard, lonely little
girl on the cold and desolate side of the window-pane, and the over-fed,
discontented, lonely old bachelor on the splendid side of the
window-pane; and I didn't get much happier thinking about it, I can
assure you. I drank glass after glass of the wine--not that I enjoyed
its flavor any more, but mechanically, as it were, and with a sort of
hope thereby to drown unpleasant reminders. I tried to attribute my
annoyance in the matter to holidays, and so denounced them more
vehemently than ever. I rose once in a while and went to the window, but
could see no one to whom the pale face could have belonged.

"At last, in no very amiable mood, I got up, put on my wrappers, and
went out; and the first thing I did was to run against a small figure
crouching in the doorway. A face looked up quickly at the rough
encounter, and I saw the pale features of the window-pane. I was very
irritated and angry, and spoke harshly; and then, all at once, I am sure
I don't know how it happened, but it flashed upon me that I, of all men,
had no right to utter a harsh word to one oppressed with so wretched a
Christmas as this poor creature was. I couldn't say another word, but
began feeling in my pocket for some money, and then I asked a question
or two, and then I don't quite know how it came about--isn't it very
warm here?" exclaimed Bachelor Bluff, rising and walking about, and
wiping the perspiration from his brow.

"Well, you see," he resumed nervously, "it was very absurd, but I did
believe the girl's story--the old story, you know, of privation and
suffering, and all that--and just thought I'd go home with the brat and
see if what she said was all true. And then I remembered that all the
shops were closed, and not a purchase could be made. I went back and
persuaded the steward to put up for me a hamper of provisions, which the
half-wild little youngster helped me carry through the snow, dancing
with delight all the way.--And isn't this enough?"

"Not a bit, Mr. Bluff. I must have the whole story."

"I declare," said Bachelor Bluff, "there's no whole story to tell. A
widow with children in great need, that was what I found; and they had a
feast that night, and a little money to buy them a load of wood and a
garment or two the next day; and they were all so bright, and so merry,
and so thankful, and so good, that, when I got home that night, I was
mightily amazed that, instead of going to bed sour at holidays, I was in
a state of great contentment in regard to holidays. In fact, I was
really merry. I whistled. I sang. I do believe I cut a caper. The poor
wretches I had left had been so merry over their unlooked-for Christmas
banquet that their spirits infected mine.

"And then I got thinking again. Of course, holidays had been miserable
to me, I said. What right had a well-to-do, lonely old bachelor hovering
wistfully in the vicinity of happy circles, when all about there were so
many people as lonely as he, and yet oppressed with want? 'Good
gracious!' I exclaimed, 'to think of a man complaining of loneliness
with thousands of wretches yearning for his help and comfort, with
endless opportunities for work and company, with hundreds of pleasant
and delightful things to do! Just to think of it!' It put me in a great
fury at myself to think of it. I tried pretty hard to escape from myself
and began inventing excuses and all that sort of thing, but I rigidly
forced myself to look squarely at my own conduct. And then I reconciled
my conscience by declaring that, if ever after that day I hated a
holiday again, might my holidays end at once and forever!

"Did I go and see my _protégés_ again? What a question! Why--well, no
matter. If the widow is comfortable now, it is because she has found a
way to earn without difficulty enough for her few wants. That's no fault
of mine. I would have done more for her, but she wouldn't let me. But
just let me tell you about New Year's--the New-Year's-day that followed
the Christmas I've been describing. It was lucky for me there was
another holiday only a week off. Bless you! I had so much to do that day
that I was completely bewildered, and the hours weren't half long
enough. I did make a few social calls, but then I hurried them over; and
then hastened to my little girl, whose face had already caught a touch
of color; and she, looking quite handsome in her new frock and her
ribbons, took me to other poor folk, and--well, that's about the whole
story.

"Oh, as to the next Christmas. Well, I didn't dine alone, as you may
guess. It was up three stairs, that's true, and there was none of that
elegance that marked the dinner of the year before; but it was merry,
and happy, and bright; it was a generous, honest, hearty, Christmas
dinner, that it was, although I do wish the widow hadn't talked so much
about the mysterious way a turkey had been left at her door the night
before. And Molly--that's the little girl--and I had a rousing appetite.
We went to church early; then we had been down to the Five Points to
carry the poor outcasts there something for their Christmas dinner; in
fact, we had done wonders of work, and Molly was in high spirits, and so
the Christmas dinner was a great success.

"Dear me, sir, no! Just as you say. Holidays are not in the least
wearisome any more. Plague on it! When a man tells me now that he hates
holidays, I find myself getting very wroth. I pin him by the button-hole
at once, and tell him my experience. The fact is, if I were at dinner on
a holiday, and anybody should ask me for a sentiment, I should say, God
bless all holidays!"

       *       *       *       *       *

SANTA CLAUS AT SIMPSON'S BAR

BRET HARTE

It was nearly midnight when the festivities were interrupted. "Hush!"
said Dick Bullen, holding up his hand. It was the querulous voice of
Johnny from his adjacent closet: "Oh, dad!"

The Old Man arose hurriedly and disappeared in the closet. Presently he
reappeared. "His rheumatiz is coming on agin bad," he explained, "and he
wants rubbin'." He lifted the demijohn of whiskey from the table and
shook it. It was empty. Dick Bullen put down his tin cup with an
embarrassed laugh. So did the others. The Old Man examined their
contents, and said hopefully, "I reckon that's enough; he don't need
much. You hold on, all o' you, for a spell, and I'll be back;" and
vanished in the closet with an old flannel shirt and the whiskey. The
door closed but imperfectly, and the following dialogue was distinctly
audible:--

"Now, sonny, whar does she ache worst?"

"Sometimes over yar and sometimes under yer; but it's most powerful from
yer to yer. Rub yer, dad."

A silence seemed to indicate a brisk rubbing. Then Johnny:--

"Hevin' a good time out yar, dad?"

"Yes, sonny."

"Tomorrer's Chrismiss,--ain't it?"

"Yes, sonny. How does she feel now?"

"Better. Rub a little furder down. Wot's Chrismiss, anyway? Wot's it all
about?"

"Oh, it's a day."

This exhaustive definition was apparently satisfactory, for there was a
silent interval of rubbing. Presently Johnny again:--

"Mar sez that everywhere else but yer everybody gives things to
everybody Chrismiss, and then she jist waded inter you. She sez thar's a
man they call Sandy Claws, not a white man, you know, but a kind o'
Chinemin, comes down the chimbley night afore Chrismiss and gives things
to chillern,--boys like me. Puts 'em in their butes! Thet's what she
tried to play upon me. Easy, now, pop, whar are you rubbin' to,--thet's
a mile from the place. She jest made that up, didn't she, jest to
aggrewate me and you? Don't rub thar--Why, dad!"

In the great quiet that seemed to have fallen upon the house the sigh of
the near pines and the drip of leaves without was very distinct.
Johnny's voice, too, was lowered as he went on: "Don't you take on now,
for I'm gettin' all right fast. Wot's the boys doin' out thar?"

The Old Man partly opened the door and peered through. His guests were
sitting there sociably enough, and there were a few silver coins and a
lean buckskin purse on the table. "Bettin' on suthin',--some little game
or 'nother. They're all right," he replied to Johnny, and recommenced
his rubbing.

"I'd like to take a hand and win some money," said Johnny reflectively,
after a pause.

The Old Man glibly repeated what was evidently a familiar formula, that
if Johnny would wait until he struck it rich in the tunnel, he'd have
lots of money, etc., etc.

"Yes," said Johnny, "but you don't. And whether you strike it or I win
it, it's about the same. It's all luck. But it's mighty cur'o's about
Chrismiss,--ain't it? Why do they call it Chrismiss?"

Perhaps from some instinctive deference to the overhearing of his
guests, or from some vague sense of incongruity, the Old Man's reply was
so low as to be inaudible beyond the room.

"Yes," said Johnny, with some slight abatement of interest, "I've heerd
o' him before. Thar, that'll do dad. I don't ache near so bad as I did.
Now wrap me tight in this yer blanket. So. Now," he added in a muffled
whisper, "sit down yer by me till I go asleep." To assure himself of
obedience he disengaged one hand from the blanket, and, grasping his
father's sleeve, again composed himself to rest.

For some moments the Old Man waited patiently. Then the unwonted
stillness of the house excited his curiosity, and without moving from
the bed he cautiously opened the door with his disengaged hand, and
looked into the main room. To his infinite surprise it was dark and
deserted. But even then a smoldering log on the hearth broke, and by the
upspringing blaze he saw the figure of Dick Bullen sitting by the dying
embers.

"Hello!"

Dick started, rose, and came somewhat unsteadily toward him.

"Whar's the boys?" said the Old Man.

"Gone up the canon on a little pasear. They're coming back for me in a
minit. I'm waitin' round for 'em. What are you starin' at, Old Man?" he
added, with a forced laugh; "do you think I'm drunk?"

The Old Man might have been pardoned the supposition, for Dick's eyes
were humid and his face flushed. He loitered and lounged back to the
chimney, yawned, shook himself, buttoned up his coat and laughed.
"Liquor ain't so plenty as that, Old Man. Now don't you git up," he
continued, as the Old Man made a movement to release his sleeve from
Johnny's hand. "Don't you mind manners. Sit jest whar you be; I'm goin'
in a jiffy. Thar, that's them now."

There was a low tap at the door. Dick Bullen opened it quickly, nodded
"Good-night" to his host, and disappeared. The Old Man would have
followed him but for the hand that still unconsciously grasped his
sleeve. He could have easily disengaged it; it was small, weak and
emaciated. But perhaps because it was small, weak and emaciated he
changed his mind, and, drawing his chair closer to the bed, rested his
head upon it. In this defenceless attitude the potency of his earlier
potations surprised him. The room flickered and faded before his eyes,
reappeared, faded again, went out, and left him--asleep.

Meantime Dick Bullen, closing the door, confronted his companions. "Are
you ready?" said Staples. "Ready," said Dick; "what's the time?" "Past
twelve," was the reply; "can you make it?--it's nigh on fifty miles, the
round trip hither and yon." "I reckon," returned Dick shortly. "Whar's
the mare?" "Bill and Jack's holdin' her at the crossin'." "Let 'em hold
on a minit longer," said Dick.

He turned and reentered the house softly. By the light of the guttering
candle and dying fire he saw that the door of the little room was open.
He stepped toward it on tiptoe and looked in. The Old Man had fallen
back in his chair, snoring, his helpless feet thrust out in a line with
his collapsed shoulders, and his hat pulled over his eyes. Beside him,
on a narrow wooden bedstead, lay Johnny, muffled tightly in a blanket
that hid all save a strip of forehead and a few curls damp with
perspiration. Dick Bullen made a step forward, hesitated, and glanced
over his shoulder into the deserted room. Everything was quiet. With a
sudden resolution he parted his huge mustaches with both hands, and
stooped over the sleeping boy. But even as he did so a mischievous
blast, lying in wait, swooped down the chimney, rekindled the hearth,
and lit up the room with a shameless glow, from which Dick fled in
bashful terror.

His companions were already waiting for him at the crossing. Two of them
were struggling in the darkness with some strange misshapen bulk, which
as Dick came nearer took the semblance of a great yellow horse.

It was the mare. She was not a pretty picture. From her Roman nose to
her rising haunches, from her arched spine hidden by the stiff
_machillas_ of a Mexican saddle, to her thick, straight, bony legs,
there was not a line of equine grace. In her half blind but wholly
vicious white eyes, in her protruding under-lip, in her monstrous color,
there was nothing but ugliness and vice.

"Now, then," said Staples, "stand cl'ar of her heels, boy, and up with
you. Don't miss your first holt of her mane, and mind ye get your off
stirrup quick. Ready!"

There was a leap, a scrambling, a bound, a wild retreat of the crowd, a
circle of flying hoofs, two springless leaps that jarred the earth, a
rapid play and jingle of spurs, a plunge, and then the voice of Dick
somewhere in the darkness. "All right!"

"Don't take the lower road back onless you're pushed hard for time!
Don't hold her in down hill. We'll be at the ford at five. G'lang!
Hoopa! Mula! GO!"

A splash, a spark struck from the ledge in the road, a clatter in the
rocky cut beyond, and Dick was gone.

                                - - - - -

Sing, O Muse, the ride of Richard Bullen! Sing, O Muse, of chivalrous
men! the sacred quest, the doughty deeds, the battery of low churls, the
fearsome ride and gruesome perils of the Flower of Simpson's Bar! Alack!
she is dainty, this Muse! She will have none of this bucking brute and
swaggering, ragged rider, and I must fain follow him in prose, afoot!

It was one o'clock, and yet he had only gained Rattlesnake Hill. For in
that time Jovita had rehearsed to him all her imperfections and
practised all her vices. Thrice had she stumbled. Twice had she thrown
up her Roman nose in a straight line with the reins, and, resisting bit
and spur, struck out madly across country. Twice had she reared, and,
rearing, fallen backward; and twice had the agile Dick, unharmed,
regained his seat before she found her vicious legs again. And a mile
beyond them, at the foot of a long hill, was Rattlesnake Creek. Dick
knew that here was the crucial test of his ability to perform his
enterprise, set his teeth grimly, put his knees well into her flanks,
and changed his defensive tactics to brisk aggression. Bullied and
maddened, Jovita began the descent of the hill. Here the artful Richard
pretended to hold her in with ostentatious objurgation and well-feigned
cries of alarm. It is unnecessary to add that Jovita instantly ran away.
Nor need I state the time made in the descent; it is written in the
chronicles of Simpson's Bar. Enough that in another moment, as it seemed
to Dick, she was splashing on the overflowed banks of Rattlesnake Creek.
As Dick expected, the momentum she had acquired carried her beyond the
point of balking, and, holding her well together for a mighty leap, they
dashed into the middle of the swiftly flowing current. A few moments of
kicking, wading, and swimming, and Dick drew a long breath on the
opposite bank.

The road from Rattlesnake Creek to Red Mountain was tolerably level.
Either the plunge into Rattlesnake Creek had dampened her baleful fire,
or the art which led to it had shown her the superior wickedness of her
rider, for Jovita no longer wasted her surplus energy in wanton
conceits. Once she bucked, but it was from force of habit; once she
shied, but it was from a new, freshly-painted meeting-house at the
crossing of the country road. Hollows, ditches, gravelly deposits,
patches of freshly-springing grasses, flew from beneath her rattling
hoofs. She began to smell unpleasantly, once or twice she coughed
slightly, but there was no abatement of her strength or speed. By two
o'clock he had passed Red Mountain and begun the descent to the plain.
Ten minutes later the driver of the fast Pioneer coach was overtaken and
passed by a "man on a Pinto hoss,"--an event sufficiently notable for
remark. At half past two Dick rose in his stirrups with a great shout.
Stars were glittering through the rifted clouds, and beyond him, out of
the plain, rose two spires, a flagstaff, and a straggling line of black
objects. Dick jingled his spurs and swung his _riata_, Jovita bounded
forward, and in another moment they swept into Tuttleville, and drew up
before the wooden piazza of "The Hotel of All Nations."

What transpired that night at Tuttleville is not strictly a part of this
record. Briefly I may state, however, that after Jovita had been handed
over to a sleepy ostler, whom she at once kicked into unpleasant
consciousness, Dick sallied out with the barkeeper for a tour of the
sleeping town. Lights still gleamed from a few saloons and gambling
houses; but, avoiding these, they stopped before several closed shops,
and by persistent tapping and judicious outcry roused the proprietors
from their beds, and made them unbar the doors of their magazines and
expose their wares. Sometimes they were met by curses, but oftener by
interest and some concern in their needs. It was three o'clock before
this pleasantry was given over, and with a small waterproof bag of India
rubber strapped on his shoulders Dick returned to the hotel. And then he
sprang to the saddle, and dashed down the lonely street and out into the
lonelier plain, where presently the lights, the black line of houses,
the spires, and the flagstaff sank into the earth behind him again and
were lost in the distance.

The storm had cleared away, the air was brisk and cold, the outlines of
adjacent landmarks were distinct, but it was half-past four before Dick
reached the meeting-house and the crossing of the country road. To avoid
the rising grade he had taken a longer and more circuitous road, in
whose viscid mud Jovita sank fetlock deep at every bound. It was a poor
preparation for a steady ascent of five miles more; but Jovita,
gathering her legs under her, took it with her usual blind, unreasoning
fury, and a half hour later reached the long level that led to
Rattlesnake Creek. Another half hour would bring him to the Creek. He
threw the reins lightly upon the neck of the mare, chirruped to her, and
began to sing.

Suddenly Jovita shied with a bound that would have unseated a less
practised rider. Hanging to her rein was a figure that had leaped from
the bank, and at the same time from the road before her arose a shadowy
horse and rider. "Throw up your hands," commanded the second apparition,
with an oath.

Dick felt the mare tremble, quiver, and apparently sink under him. He
knew what it meant, and was prepared.

"Stand aside, Jack Simpson. I know you, you d----d thief! Let me pass,
or--"

He did not finish the sentence. Jovita rose straight in the air with a
terrific bound, throwing the figure from her bit with a single shake of
her vicious head, and charged with deadly malevolence down on the
impediment before her. An oath, a pistol-shot, horse and highwayman
rolled over in the road, and the next moment Jovita was a hundred yards
away. But the good right arm of her rider, shattered by a bullet,
dropped helplessly at his side.

Without slacking his speed he lifted the reins to his left hand. But a
few moments later he was obliged to halt and tighten the saddle-girths
that had slipped in the onset. This in his crippled condition took some
time. He had no fear of pursuit, but, looking up, he saw that the
eastern stars were already paling, and that the distant peaks had lost
their ghostly whiteness, and now stood out blackly against a lighter
sky. Day was upon him. Then completely absorbed in a single idea, he
forgot the pain of his wound, and, mounting again, dashed on towards
Rattlesnake Creek. But now Jovita's breath came broken by gasps, Dick
reeled in his saddle, and brighter and brighter grew the sky.

Ride, Richard; run, Jovita; linger, O day!

For the last few rods there was a roaring in his ears. Was it exhaustion
from a loss of blood, or what? He was dazed and giddy as he swept down
the hill, and did not recognize his surroundings. Had he taken the wrong
road, or was this Rattlesnake Creek?

It was. But the brawling creek he had swam a few hours before had risen,
more than doubled its volume, and now rolled a swift and resistless
river between him and Rattlesnake Hill. For the first time that night
Richard's heart sank within him. The river, the mountain, the quickening
east, swam before his eyes. He shut them to recover his self-control. In
that brief interval, by some fantastic mental process, the little room
at Simpson's Bar and the figures of the sleeping father and son rose
upon him. He opened his eyes wildly, cast off his coat, pistol, boots,
and saddle, bound his precious pack tightly to his shoulders, grasped
the bare flanks of Jovita with his bared knees, and with a shout dashed
into the yellow water. A cry arose from the opposite bank as the head of
a man and horse struggled for a few moments against the battling
current, and then were swept away amidst uprooted trees and whirling
driftwood.

                               - - - - -

The Old man started and woke. The fire on the hearth was dead, the
candle in the outer room flickering in its socket, and somebody was
rapping at the door. He opened it, but fell back with a cry before the
dripping, half-naked figure that reeled against the doorpost.

"Dick?"

"Hush! Is he awake yet?"

"No; but Dick--"

"Dry up, you old fool! Get me some whiskey, quick!" The Old Man flew,
and returned with--an empty bottle! Dick would have sworn, but his
strength was not equal to the occasion. He staggered, caught at the
handle of the door, and motioned to the Old Man.

"Thar's suthin' in my pack yer for Johnny. Take it off. I can't."

The Old Man unstrapped the pack, and laid it before the exhausted man.

"Open it, quick."

He did so with trembling fingers. It contained only a few poor
toys,--cheap and barbaric enough, goodness knows, but bright with paint
and tinsel. One of them was broken; another, I fear, was irretrievably
ruined by water; and on the third--ah me! there was a cruel spot.

"It don't look like much, that's a fact," said Dick ruefully ... "But
it's the best we could do.... Take 'em Old Man, and put 'em in his
stocking, and tell him--tell him, you know--hold me, Old Man--" The Old
Man caught at his sinking figure. "Tell him," said Dick, with a weak
little laugh,--"tell him Sandy Claus has come."

And even so, bedraggled, ragged, unshaven and unshorn, with one arm
hanging helplessly at his side, Santa Claus came to Simpson's Bar, and
fell fainting on the first threshold. The Christmas dawn came slowly
after, touching the remoter peaks with the rosy warmth of ineffable
love. And it looked so tenderly on Simpson's Bar that the whole
mountain, as if caught in a generous action, blushed to the skies.

        *       *       *       *       *



V

OLD CAROLS AND EXERCISES



    GOD REST YOU, MERRY GENTLEMEN

    OLD CAROL

    God rest you, merry gentlemen,
      Let nothing you dismay,
    For Jesus Christ, our Saviour,
      Was born upon this day.
    To save us all from Satan's pow'r
      When we were gone astray.
        O tidings of comfort and joy!
        For Jesus Christ, our Saviour,
        Was born on Christmas Day.

    In Bethlehem, in Jewry,
      This blessed Babe was born.
    And laid within a manger,
      Upon this blessed morn;
    The which His mother, Mary,
      Nothing did take in scorn.

    From God our Heavenly Father,
      A blessed angel came;
    And unto certain shepherds
      Brought tidings of the same:
    How that in Bethlehem was born
      The Son of God by name.

    "Fear not," then said the angel,
      "Let nothing you affright,
    This day is born a Saviour
      Of virtue, power, and might,
    So frequently to vanquish all
      The friends of Satan quite."

    The shepherds at those tidings
      Rejoicèd much in mind,
    And left their flocks a-feeding
      In tempest, storm, and wind,
    And went to Bethlehem straightway,
      This blessed Babe to find.

    But when to Bethlehem they came,
      Whereat this infant lay,
    They found Him in a manger,
      Where oxen feed on hay,
    His mother Mary kneeling,
      Unto the Lord did pray.

    Now to the Lord sing praises,
      All you within this place,
    And with true love and brotherhood
      Each other now embrace;
    This holy tide of Christmas
      All others doth deface.
        O tidings of comfort and joy!
      For Jesus Christ, our Saviour,
        Was born on Christmas Day.

       *       *       *       *       *

    OLD CHRISTMAS RETURNED

    All you that to feasting and mirth are inclined,
    Come here is good news for to pleasure your mind,
    Old Christmas is come for to keep open house,
    He scorns to be guilty of starving a mouse:
    Then come, boys, and welcome for diet the chief,
    Plum-pudding, goose, capon, minced pies, and roast beef.

    The holly and ivy about the walls wind
    And show that we ought to our neighbors be kind,
    Inviting each other for pastime and sport,
    And where we best fare, there we most do resort;
    We fail not of victuals, and that of the chief,
    Plum-pudding, goose, capon, minced pies, and roast beef.

    All travellers, as they do pass on their way,
    At gentlemen's halls are invited to stay,
    Themselves to refresh, and their horses to rest,
    Since that he must be Old Christmas's guest;
    Nay, the poor shall not want, but have for relief,
    Plum-pudding, goose, capon, minced pies, and roast beef.

       *       *       *       *       *

    CHRISTMAS CAROL

    As Joseph was a-waukin'
      He heard an angel sing,
    "This night shall be the birthnight
      Of Christ our heavenly King.

    "His birth-bed shall be neither
      In housen nor in hall,
    Nor in the place of paradise,
      But in the oxen stall.

    "He neither shall be rockèd
      In silver nor in gold,
    But in the wooden manger
      That lieth in the mould.

    "He neither shall be washen
      With white wine nor with red,
    But with the fair spring water
      That on you shall be shed.

    "He neither shall be clothèd
      In purple nor in pall,
    But in the fair, white linen
      That usen babies all."

    As Joseph was a-waukin',
      Thus did the angel sing,
    And Mary's son at midnight
      Was born to be our King.

    Then be you glad, good people,
      At this time of the year;
    And light you up your candles,
      For His star it shineth clear.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "IN EXCELSIS GLORIA"

    When Christ was born of Mary free,
    In Bethlehem, in that fair citie,
    Angels sang there with mirth and glee,
          _In Excelsis Gloria!_

    Herdsmen beheld these angels bright,
    To them appearing with great light,
    Who said, "God's Son is born this night,"
          _In Excelsis Gloria!_

    This King is come to save mankind,
    As in Scripture truths we find,
    Therefore this song have we in mind,
          _In Excelsis Gloria!_

    Then, dear Lord, for Thy great grace,
    Grant us the bliss to see Thy face,
    That we may sing to Thy solace,
          _In Excelsis Gloria!_

       *       *       *       *       *

    THE BOAR'S HEAD CAROL

    (Sung at Queen's College, Oxford.)

    The boar's head in hand bear I,
    Bedecked with bays and rosemary;
    And I pray you, my masters, be merry,
      Quot estis in convivio.
       _Caput apri defero
        Reddens laudes domino._

    The boar's head, as I understand,
    Is the rarest dish in all this land,
    Which thus bedeck'd with a gay garland
      Let us servire cantico.
       _Caput apri defero
        Reddens laudes domino._

    Our steward hath provided this
    In honour of the King of bliss;
    Which on this day to be served is
      In Reginensi Atrio.
       _Caput apri defero
        Reddens laudes domino._

       *       *       *       *       *

    CHRISTMAS CAROL

    Listen, lordings, unto me, a tale I will you tell;
    Which, as on this night of glee, in David's town befell.
    Joseph came from Nazareth with Mary, that sweet maid;
    Weary were they nigh to death, and for a lodging prayed.

    In the inn they found no room; a scanty bed they made;
    Soon a babe, an angel pure, was in the manger laid.
    Forth He came, as light through glass, He came to save us all.
    In the stable, ox and ass before their Maker fall.

    Shepherds lay afield that night to keep the silly sheep,
    Hosts of angels in their sight came down from Heaven's high steep:--
    Tidings! tidings unto you! to you a child is born,
    Purer than the drops of dew, and brighter than the morn!

    Onward then the angels sped, the shepherds onward went,--
    God was in His manger bed; in worship low they bent.
    In the morning see ye mind, my masters one and all,
    At the altar Him to find, who lay within the stall.

    _Chorus_.

          Sing high, sing low,
          Sing to and fro,
        Go tell it out with speed,
          Cry out and shout,
          All round about,
        That Christ is born indeed!
    Pray whither sailed those ships all three
      On Christmas day in the morning?

    Oh, they sailed into Bethlehem
      On Christmas day, on Christmas day;
    Oh, they sailed into Bethlehem
      On Christmas day in the morning.

    And all the bells on earth shall ring
      On Christmas day, on Christmas day;
    And all the bells on earth shall ring
      On Christmas day in the morning.

    And all the angels in heaven shall sing
      On Christmas day, on Christmas day;
    And all the angels in heaven shall sing
      On Christmas day in the morning.

    And all the souls on earth shall sing
      On Christmas day, on Christmas day;
    And all the souls on earth shall sing
      On Christmas day in the morning.

    Then let us all rejoice amain
      On Christmas day, on Christmas day;
    Then let us all rejoice amain
      On Christmas day in the morning.

       *       *       *       *       *



ADDITIONAL PIECES



    A CHRISTMAS INSURRECTION

    ANNE P.L. FIELD

    In the hush of a shivery Christmas-tide dawn
      Sing hey! sing ho! heigho!
    Three small frozen figures hung stiff and forlorn
      Sing hey! sing ho! heigho!
    Three dim ghostly forms in the glimmering gray
    Locked up in dark cold storage quarters were they
    Awaiting the coming of glad Christmas day
      Sing hey! sing ho! heigho!

    Suspended each one from a hickory twig
      Sing hey! sing ho! heigho!
    A turkey, a goose, and a little fat pig
      Sing hey! sing ho! heigho!
    With chestnuts the turkey was garnished and stuffed
    With onions and sage was the goose-carcass puffed,
    While piggy was spiced, and his neck was beruffed
      Sing hey! sing ho! heigho!

    Three spirits regretful were hovering near
      Sing hey! sing ho! heigho!
    "Look!" gobbled the turkey's, "what tragedy's here!"
      Sing hey! sing ho! heigho!
    "For this did they tempt me with fattening food,
    For this did I bring up my beautiful brood,
    I always thought farmers uncommonly rude!"
      Sing hey! sing ho! heigho!

    The goose spirit trembled, then hissingly said
      Sing hey! sing ho! heigho!
    "Most men care for nothing except to be fed!"
      Sing hey! sing ho! heigho!
    "What horror is this, filled with onions and sage
    To be served on a platter at my tender age!
    'Tis enough any well-disposed fowl to enrage!"
      Sing hey! sing ho! heigho!

    The phantom pig grunted, "Do please look at that!"
      Sing hey! sing ho! heigho!
    "Oh! why did I grow up so rosy and fat!"
      Sing hey! sing ho! heigho!
    "They put in my mouth a sweet, juicy corncob
    Just when of sensations my palate they rob,
    Do you wonder such sights make a spirit-pig sob!"
      Sing hey! sing ho! heigho!

    Conferring, the spirits resolved on a plan
      Sing hey! sing ho! heigho!
    By which to wreak vengeance on merciless man
      Sing hey! sing ho! heigho!
    "We'll each disagree with the human inside,
    We'll cause indigestion and damage his pride,
    And the pains of this Christmas we'll spread far and wide!"
      Sing hey! sing ho! heigho!

       *       *       *       *       *

    THE NIGHT AFTER CHRISTMAS

    ANNE P.L. FIELD

    Twas the night after Christmas in Santa-Claus land
    And to rest from his labors St. Nicholas planned.
    The reindeer were turned out to pasture and all
    The ten thousand assistants discharged till the fall.
    The furry great-coat was laid safely away
    With the boots and the cap with its tassel so gay,
    And toasting his toes by a merry wood fire,
    What more could a weary old Santa desire?
    So he puffed at his pipe and remarked to his wife,
    "This amply makes up for my strenuous life!
    From climbing down chimneys my legs fairly ache,
    But it's well worth the while for the dear children's sake.
    I'd bruise every bone in my body to see
    The darlings' delight in a gift-laden tree!"
    Just then came a sound like a telephone bell--
    Though why they should have such a thing I can't tell--
    St. Nick gave a snort and exclaimed in a rage,
    "Bad luck to inventions of this modern age!"
    He grabbed the receiver--his face wore a frown
    As he roared in the mouth-piece, "I will not come down
    To exchange any toys like an up-to-date store,
    Ring off, I'll not listen to anything more!"
    Then he settled himself by the comforting blaze
    And waxed reminiscent of halcyon days
    When children were happy with simplest of toys:
    A doll for the girls and a drum for the boys--
    But again came that noisy disturber of peace
    The telephone bell--would the sound never cease?
    "Run and answer it, wife, all my patience has fled,
    If they keep this thing up I shall wish I were dead!
    I have worked night and day the best part of a year
    To supply all the children, and what do I hear--
    A boy who declares he received roller-skates
    When he wanted a gun--and a cross girl who states
    That she asked for a new Victor talking machine
    And I brought her a sled, so she thinks I am 'mean!'"
    Poor St. Nicholas looked just the picture of woe,
    He needed some auto-suggestion, you know,
    To make him think things were all coming out right,
    For he didn't get one wink of slumber that night!
    The telephone wire was kept sizzling hot
    By children disgusted with presents they'd got,
    And when the bright sun showed its face in the sky
    The Santa-Claus family were ready to cry!
    Just then something happened--a way of escape,
    Though it came in the funniest possible shape--
    An aeronaut, sorely in need of a meal,
    Descended for breakfast--it seemed quite ideal!
    For the end of it was, he invited his host
    Out to try the balloon, of whose speed he could boast.
    St. Nick, who was nothing if not a good sport,
    Was delighted to go, and as quick as a thought
    Climbed into the car for a flight in the air--
    "No telephone bells can disturb me up there!
    And, wife, if it suits me I'll count it no crime
    To stay up till ready for next Christmas time!"
    Thus saying--he sailed in the giant balloon,
    And I fear that he will not return very soon.
    Now, when you ask "Central" for Santa-Claus land
    She'll say, "discontinued"--and you'll understand.

       *       *       *       *       *

    WHEN THE STARS OF MORNING SANG

    ANNE P.L. FIELD

    When the stars of morning sang
        Long ago,
    Sweet the air with music rang
        Through the snow,
    There beside the mother mild
    Slept the blessed Christmas child,--
    Slumber holy, undefiled--
        Here below.

    When the wise men traveled far
        Through the night,
    Following the guiding star
        Pure and bright,
    Lo! it stood above the place
    Sanctified by Heaven's grace,
    And upon the Christ-Child's face
        Shed its light.

    When the world lay hushed and still
        Christmas morn,
    Suddenly were skies athrill--
        "Christ is born!"
    Angel voices, high and clear,
    Chanted tidings of good cheer,
    "See, the Infant King is here,
        Christ is born!"

       *       *       *       *       *

    A PRAYER AT BETHLEHEM

    ANNE P.L. FIELD

    O pulsing earth with heart athrill
    With infinite creative will!
    O watchful shepherds in whose eyes
    Sweet hopes and promises arise!
    O angel-host whose chanting choir
    Proclaims fulfillment of desire!
    O flaming star so purely white
    Against the black Judean night!
    O blessed Mary bending low
    With sense of motherhood aglow!
    O holy Babe with haloed head
    Soft pillowed in a manger bed!
    O Mystery divine and deep
    Help us Thy prophecies to keep!

       *       *       *       *       *

    THE CHRISTMAS FIRES

    ANNE P.L. FIELD

    The Christmas fires brightly gleam
      And dance among the holly boughs,
    The Christmas pudding's spicy steam
      With fragrance fills the house,
    While merry grows each friendly soul
    Over the foaming wassail bowl.

    Resplendent stands the glitt'ring tree,
        Weighted with gifts for old and young,
    The children's faces shine with glee,
        And joyous is each tongue,
    While lads and lassies come and go
    Under the festive mistletoe.

    When suddenly the frosty air
        Is filled with music, voices sweet,
    Lo! see the Christmas waits are there
        Snow-crowned and bare of feet,
    Yet high and clear their voices ring,
    And glad their Christmas carolling.

       *       *       *       *       *

    CAROL

    O Child of Mary's tender care!
    O little Child so pure and fair!
    Cradled within the manger hay
    On that divine first Christmas day!
    The hopes of every age and race
    Are centered in Thy radiant face!

    O Child whose glory fills the earth!
    O little Child of lowly birth!
    The shepherds, guided from afar,
    Stood worshiping beneath the star,
    And wise-men fell on bended knee
    And homage offered unto Thee!

    O Child of whom the angels sing!
    O little Child, our Infant King!
    What balm for every sorrow lies
    Within those clear, illumined eyes!
    O precious gift to mortals given
    To win us heritage in Heaven!

       *       *       *       *       *

THE MOTHER

ROBERT HAVEN SCHAUFFLER

All day her watch had lasted on the plateau above the town. And now the
sun slanted low over the dull, blue sheen of the western sea, playing
changingly with the angular mountain which rose abruptly from its surge.

The young matron did not heed the magic which was transforming the
theater of hills to the north and lingering lovingly at last on the
eastern summit. Nor had she any eyes for the changing hue of the
ivy-clad cubes of stone that formed the village over which her hungry
gaze passed, sweeping the length and breadth of the plain below.

She seemed not much above thirty: tall, erect and lithe. Her throat,
bared to the breeze, was of the purest modeling; her skin of a whiteness
unusual in that warm climate. Her head, a little small for her rounded
figure, was crowned with a coil of chestnut hair, and her eyes glowed
with a look strange to the common light of every day. It was her soul
that was scanning that southward country.

From time to time she would fondle a small object hidden beneath the
white folds of her robe. Once she threw her arms out in a passionate
gesture toward the plain, and tears overflowed the beautiful eyes. Again
she fell on her knees, and the throes of inner prayer found relief at
her lips:

"Father, my Father, grant me to see him ere the dusk!"

Once again she sank down, moaning:

"He is in Thine everlasting arms. But Thou, who knowest times and
seasons, give him to me on this day of days!"

Under the curve of a shielding hand her vision strained through the
clear, pure air,--strained and found at last two specks far out in the
plain, and followed them breathlessly as they crept nearer. One traveler
was clad in a dark garment, and stopped presently, leaving his
light-robed companion to hasten on alone toward the hungry-eyed woman on
the plateau.

All at once she gathered her skirt with a joyous cry and ran with lithe,
elastic steps down through the village.

They met on a low, rounded hill near the plain.

"My son, my darling!" she cried, catching him passionately to her bosom.
"We have searched, and waited, and agonized," she continued after a
pause, smiling at him through her happy tears. "But it matters nothing
now. I have thee again."

"My mother," said the boy as he caressed her cheek, looking at her
dreamily, "I have been with my cousin. Even now he waits below for me. I
must bid thee farewell. I must pass from thy face forever."

His lip trembled a little, but he smiled bravely. "For it is the will of
God, the Father."

The mother's face went ashen. She tottered and would have fallen but for
his slender arm about her.

Her thoughts were whirling in wild confusion, yet she knew that she must
decide calmly, wisely, quickly.

Her lips moved, but made no sound.

"Oh, lay Thy wise and gracious hand upon me!" was what she breathed in
silence.

Then her voice sounded rich and happy and fresh, as it had always
sounded for him.

"His will be done. Thou comest to bid farewell to thy brothers and
father?"

"It may not be," he answered. "My lot henceforth is to flee the touch of
the world, the unsympathetic eye, the ribald tongue of those like my
brothers--the defilement of common life."

The mother pressed him closer.

"Say all that is in thine heart," she murmured. "We will bide here."

They sank down together on the soft, bright turf, facing the brilliance
of the west, she holding her child as of old in the hollow of her arm.

He began to speak.

"For long and long a voice within me said, 'Go and seek thy cousin.' So
I sought and found, and we abode together in the woods and fields, and
were friends with our dear brothers the beasts, and the fishes, and the
birds. There, day by day, my cousin would tell me of the dream that
filled his soul and of the holy men who had put the dream there."

The mother's eyes grew larger with a swift terror, but she held her
peace.

"And at the last, when the beauty, the wind, the sun, the rain, and the
voice of God, had purified me in some measure, my cousin brought me to
visit these holy men."

The clear, boyish voice rose and began to vibrate with enthusiasm.

"Ah, mother, _they_ are the chosen ones of God! Sweet and grave and
gentle they are, and theirs is the perfect life. They dwell spotless and
apart from the world. They own one common purse, and spend their lives
working with their hands and pondering and dreaming on purity, goodness,
and the commands of the great law."

He sprang up in his excitement from her encircling arm and stood erect
and wide-eyed before her.

"Ah, mother, they are so good that they would do nothing on the Sabbath,
even to saving their own lives or the lives of their animals, or their
brothers. They bathe very often in sacred water. They have no wives, and
mortify the flesh, and--"

"What is their aim in this?" the mother interrupted gently.

The boy was aflame with his subject.

"Ah, that is it--the great goal toward which they all run," he cried.
"They are doing my Father's work, and I must help! Hear, hear what is
before me: When a young novice comes to them they give him the symbols
of purity: a spade, an apron, and a white robe to wear at the holy
meals. In a year he receives a closer fellowship and the baths of
purification. After that he enters the state of bodily purity. Then
little by little he enters into purity of the spirit, meekness,
holiness. He becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit, and prophesies. Ah,
think, mother, how sweet it would be to lie entranced there for days and
weeks in an earthly paradise, with no rough world to break the spell,
while the angels sing softly in one's ears! I, even I, have already
tasted of that bliss."

"Say on," she breathed. "What does the holy man do then?"

"Then," the inspired, boyish tones continued--"then he performs
miracles, and finally--" he clasped her hand convulsively--"he becomes
Elias, the forerunner of the Messiah!"

From far out in the wilderness came a melancholy cry.

"It is John, my cousin," said the boy, radiant, half turning himself at
the sound. "I must go to him."

She drew in her breath sharply, and rose to her feet.

"Bear a message to John," she said. "Not pourings of water, nor white
robes; not times and seasons, nor feasts in darkness and silence, shall
hasten the kingdom of heaven; neither formulas, nor phylacteries, nor
madness on the Sabbath. Above all, no selfish, proud isolation shall
usher in the glorious reign of the Messiah. These holy men,--these
Essenes,--are but stricter, sterner, nobler Pharisees. Tell thy cousin
to take all the noble and fine, to reject all the selfish and unmeaning,
in their lives. Doctrine is not in heaven. Not by fasts and scourgings,
not by vigils and scruples about the law; not by selfishly shutting out
the world, but by taking all poor, suffering, erring, striving humanity
into his heart will he become the true Elias."

There was a breathless, thrilling moment of perfect silence as the
glowing eyes of the mother looked deep into the astonished, questioning
eyes of the son.

Then she rested both hands on his shoulders and spoke almost in a
whisper.

"As for thee, the time is now come. Does my son know what this day
means?"

He looked at her wonderingly and was silent.

The mother spoke:

"For many years I have kept these things and pondered them in my heart.
Now, _now_ the hour is here when thou must know them."

She bent so close that a strand of loosened hair swept his forehead.

"In the time before thou wert born came as in a dream a wondrous visitor
to me straight from the Father. And that pure, ecstatic messenger
announced that the power of the Highest would overshadow me, and that my
child was to be the son of the Highest, who should save His people from
their sins--the Prince of Peace--the Messiah!"

From the wilderness came a long, melancholy cry, but the rapt boy heard
not.

The mother continued in the soft, tender voice that began to tremble
with her in her ecstasy.

"This day is thy birthday. Twelve years ago this eventide, when thou
camest into the world of men, men came to worship and praise God for
thee,--the lowliest and the highest,--as a token that thou wert to be
not only Son of God but Son of Man as well. Poor, ignorant shepherds
crowded about us in that little stable where we lay, and left the sweet
savor of their prayers, and tears, and rejoicings. And great, wise kings
from another part of the earth came also."

From beneath the folds of her robe she drew forth by a fine-spun chain
an intricately chased casket of soft, yellow gold.

The boy took it dreamily into his hands, and as his fingers opened it,
there floated forth upon the air of the hills of Nazareth the sacred
odor of incense mingled with a perfume indescribably delicate and
precious.

"Read!" whispered the mother.

The boy held his breath suddenly.

There, on the lower surface of the lid, graven in rude characters, as if
on the inspiration of the moment, stood the single word

LOVE

She flung wide her arms as if to embrace the universe.

"Love! Love! Love!" she cried in her rich mother's voice. "It is the
greatest thing in the world! It is the message of the Messiah!"

The heavens over the sea were of molten gold, and a golden glow seemed
to radiate from the boyish face that confronted them. In their
trance-like ecstasy the wonderful eyes gazed full into the blinding
west--gazed on and on until day had passed into night.

One iterant sound alone, as it drew closer, stirred the silence of that
evening: it was the voice of one crying in the wilderness.

       *       *       *       *       *



THE END



       *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's notes.


1. There is an editorial error in the original edition
of this book: "The Star Song" by Robert Herrick is listed in the Table
of Contents but not included in the text. For this edition "The Star
Song" was removed from the Table of Contents.

2. In the "Inexhaustibility of the Subject of Christmas" by Leigh Hunt the
following sentence:

    "There are two p's, observe, in plenipotential; and so there are in
    plum-pudding. We love an exquisite fitness,--a might and wealth of
    adaptation).

is transcribed:

    (There are two p's, observe, in plenipotential; and so there are in
    plum-pudding. We love an exquisite fitness,--a might and wealth of
    adaptation).

3. In "Christmas Holly:"

    I sing the holly, and who can breathe
      Aught of that that is not good?
    Then sing to the holly, the Christmas holly,
      That hangs over peasant and king;

was changed as follows to correct an error and to preserve the symmetrical
verse structure [4,8,8,8,4]:

    I sing the holly, and who can breathe
      Aught of that that is not good?

    Then sing to the holly, the Christmas holly,
      That hangs over peasant and king;

4. In "Sery" by Richard Watson Gilder:

    At a very queer sight
    In the dim starlight.
    As plain as can be

    A fairy tree

was changed to:

    At a very queer sight
    In the dim starlight.

    As plain as can be
    A fairy tree

5. In Christmas Dreams, the word "stravaigging" was corrected to
"stravaiging."

6. "Hang up the Baby's Stocking" was not attributed in the Table of
Contents or in the text in the original edition. For clarity this edition
attributed both as follows: [Emily Huntington Miller]. Attribution makes
the text more readable. Without it one could believe the poem to have
been written by Andrew Lang; especially after Haven inserts an extra
poem by Southwell, "A Carol" following "The Wassailer's Song," which
is unlisted in the contents.

7. Finally, the 1907 edition includes a story called "Golden Cobwebs" at
the close of section IV that was not included in the 1968 edition used
for this transcription.





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