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A FEW THOUGHTS ON CHRISTMAS

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A FEW THOUGHTS ON CHRISTMAS "Fled are the se. nes so fair to view, That summer's vivid pencil drew With variegating power Fled are the beauties of the vale, For winter comes with features pale, And strips the roseate bower." WINTER is approaching us with rapid strides his misty mornings and evenings, his shortened and dark days, and, at length, his frosts, both black and white, have appeared—forerunners, certainly, of his browner hor- rors." Yet there is a pleasurable sensation in the approach of Christmas, I soould imagine, to all classes; and, though the custom of singing carols about the streets is fast falling into oblivion—a custom that, at one period, was not, as now, considered— "More honoured in the breach than the observance •" yet, I confess, I am always pleased to hear under my window, however inelegant the rhymes, or hoarse- Toiced the singer, the celebrated stanza beginning- Cod bless yon, merry gentlemen, Let nothing you disway it does, indeed, make one remember Christmas Day the burden of the song; it carries back the memory to many a past year, to the recollection of friends and relatives with whom we have spent happy hours, now gone to that" bourne whence no traveller returns;" and to many other reminiscences, both of pleasure and pain. It also carries the mind forward in joyous hope to many a coming Christmas, and happy meetings with those now in existence, and ho are near and dear to us. There is another sound in the streets of an evening at this time, which is associated with the long-past recollec- tions of most of us—I mean the well-ground barrel- organ, followed and accompanied by the cry of "Gallantie Show." Full of delight, indeed, is this cry to the young folks, who arc generally at home about this period for their holidays school trammels are all forgotten; plea- hey are come home for, and pleasure they will have -at least, they contrive to extract it fr,)m almost eveiy- thing at their time (if life. And then the Christmas pantomimes, and all the slaps, and falls, and jumps, and miraculous changing of persons and things, by Harle- quin's magjn sword and then the last splendid temple scene—oh! who would not be young again, to enjoy it all as children enjoy it at Christmas. Then there are the anticipated plum-puddings, and oranges, and snap- dragons, and sweetmeats, and eatings and drinkings of all sorts; and the games at forfeits, and blind-man's-buff, and laugh-and-lie down these are some of the many joys that come to youth with the festival of Christmas an I if they come not with the same zest to the mature in they can at least look on and smile, and think how I t^oy kaveenjoyed the same things. f;" oW' are the poor holly-hedges stripped of their "■'cries, and borne off by wholesale to market, that they mav deck with brilliant red berries, being first properly blended with laurels, misletoe, and other evergreens, the houses, hotels, and churches: your waggish cook-maids are very fond of a good bush of misletoe, in their true and proper territory, the kitchen; and disappointed, indeed are they, if any contumelious swain should pre- sume to depart thence without first having had a good tussle for the Christmas kiss under it. It is rather a pleasant thing, amongst other pleasant things, to see in market the immense collection of evergreens brought together for these decorative and amu-ing purposes. Then comas the great, the eventful day to the poorer classes, called Boxing-day, which is now divested of much of that real kindness and neighbourly feeling which used to attend the gifts called Christmas-boxes they are now too often given merely to get rid of a troublesome beggar, for seldom are they given with any other feeling; and, on the other hand, it but too frequently happens that the money is spent, by those who receive it, in low extravagance and debauchery. url n During the period of Christmas, the New Year arrives, and with it another time for gifts; but these are fallen into a greater degree of disuetude than even the Christ- mas-boxes. All these observances are in-the nature of charity:— Fairest and foremost of the train, that wait On men smo.t dignify and happiest state Who seeks to praise thee, and to make thee known To other hearts, must have thee in his own." The general inclemency of the season adds another incentive for affluence to seek out the residence of misery to hear- The short and simple annals of the poor when, aft-r relieving the want and wretchednessit finds, affluence returns to the well. covered table and the com- fortable fireside, with additional enjoyment. Amongst many other things that tell the approach of his genial season, the poulterers' and butchers' shops are A.. iwiiir—————naa—^—mm very conspicuous; and I presume it can be no common treat to an epicure, to take a stroll on Christmas Eve in the markets, there to feast his eyes on viands that he would be well pleased to feast on in another way; the fat beef and mutton reserved to astonish comfortable folks at this time of feasting; all the best pieces being ornamented with a holly-branch, or some such thing, stu-k in them; then there are the fine fat pampered tur- keys, the geese and ducks, both wild and tame, the capons, the real dairy-fed sausages, and a thousand other fine things to devour with the eyes, which are indicative of the time this is the gourmand's treat. The Waits, too, are another warning of the season's approach just before Christmas it is by no means unpleasant, if you happen to bo lying awake, to have the dreariness of midnight broken in upon by a distant strain of music, made more pleasant even by the very distance; something of Mozart's, perhaps, for really our street music is wonderfully improved of late; and I take it that the ancient waits could by no means have com- peted with th )se of the present day. S'till there are drawback- to these same musical parties—these winter's night serenaders, that are not amongst the pleasurable sensations; for instance, it is not very delightful to a light stupor, a lier-awake, or a feeble convalescent, to whom sleep is of the first consequence, just as they have coaxed themselves, as it were, after much turning and tumbling, into the arms of Somnus, to be torn back again by the tones of a French horn, &c., played just under their window other objections might be raised against the waits, but I will not conjure them up, as their pleasurable qualities are paramount in my mind. Last, but not least to o-ir juvenile friends, comes Twelfth Day, with its cakes and characters, its king and its queen, and its walk, with Mary the nurse-maid, to look at the pastry-cooks' shops, with the important constable and his long staff at the door, to keep rude boys and pennyless folks away. What a display! Our good Queen, at her coronation, felt not half the delight that Master Jacky and Miss Eliza feel during such a walk; first, there are the cakes, great and small, the largest, of course, exciting most wonderment; then the delicious frost-work of sugar over the top, and the fancied crumping of it between their teeth at night; then the figures on the cakes-stars and crowns, and soldiers and sailors, and flags and ships, and I know not what besides then there's the row of coloured illumina- tion lamps in the shop, lighted, if it is getting dusk, or the day is foggy; and tiie pastry-cook's wife and all the maids dressed out in their best bibs and tuckers, making, altogether, such a galaxy of beauty, that the impression thus made in early youth never afterwards leaves the mind; and at night, to wind up the holidays, there are ( wanton boys, with their hammers and nails, to fasten down any witless passenger, man, woman, or child, to the shop-front, who is tempted to take a passing look at the cakes and, 0I1 what a roar of laughter there is, when the coat or gown is torn in turning away. Thus ends Christmas; and yet people cannot quite give up its pleasures, and so they contrive to add a few days to it; somebody has g)t a turkey, a goose, or a head of game, lett of their country presents, or the mince pies are not yet all eaten and this forms an excuse for another and another little party; and the snug fire-side, the round game at cards, the glass of grog, and the song, finish the last remnant of the seas m. Then we begin to think of spring and her budding beauties, though yet at a distance and cockneys cannot help. in their rambles to the Regent's Park or to Nun- head Hill, looking for an early bud or flower, to assure them it is not very far off: and when we find one, we exclaim with the poet "Behold a peeping snow-drop there Has dared to face the piercing air, A presage sure of spring; This gentle unassuming flower Buds, in a rude unkindly hour, Beneath the season's sting. But thus its petals seem to say, Spring soon shall bless the smiling day, And clothe the world in bloom Another summer lingers near, And soon shall dry the wintry tear That falls for nature's doom."

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-' TREDEGAR CATTLE SHOW. .