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CHRISTMAS MUSIC.

T I HOW A PLUM PUDDING WAS…

After a Divorce.

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THE OAK AND THE MISTLETOE.

Snapdragon.

---AN UNMISTAKABLE MISTAKE.

IFIRESIDE CRACKERS. ..

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Old Yule-Tide Customs. I .

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GOSSIPS' CORNER. I

CHRISTMAS BELLS.

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ECHOES OF CHRISTMAS.

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CHRISTMAS.

CHRISTMAS EVE IN THE COUNTRY.

,BALLADE OF CHRISTMAS.

ISEASONABLE ECHOES. I

ECHOES FROM THE CALENDAR.

CAUGHT BY A DOG.

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IChristmas in Many Lands.

THE MAORIS AND THE BRITISH…

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Dickens' Christmas Stories.…

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Dickens' Christmas Stories. The Christmas Carol. As often as Christmas comes round the name of -Charles Dickens is brought prominently before the great reading public by numerous references to his Christmas stories. It is true that many writers have written beautiful things of Christ- I Parley's Ghost. mas in the best of kindly and sympathetic spirits and couched in glowing language, but none have interwoven their names with thoughts of Christ- mas as Charles Dickens has done by his Christ- mas books. We do net compare the writings cf Dickens on the subject with those of Thackeray or Washington Irving, nor do we write one dero- gatory word of the latter two, but we simply call attention to the fact that Dickens is the one writer whose name has bc-cume inseparably associated with the festive season of Christinas. We do not intend to summarise A Christmas Carol. That would spoil the reading of it to any who have still the great delight before them of a first perusal and acquaintance with this delight- ful little creation of a warm and humane soul. We only intend to write of it and to give the opinions of others. It was the first, as it is the best, of his Christmas books, and there are many capable judges who have placed A Christmas Carol in the catalogue of the masterpieces of English literatine. Dickens had written "Martin Chuzzlewit," and had been greatly disappointed with its reception and sale. During the interval of this greater work lie had also penned his first Christmas story, which became at once a great success. We thoroughly agree with Mr Frank T. Marzials-one of Dickens' biographers—when he says of it All Dickens' great gifts seem reflected, sharp and distinct, in this little book, Scrooge's Third Visitor. as in a convex mirror. His humour, his best pathos, which is not that of grandiloquence, but of simplicity, his bright poetic fancy, his kindli- ness—all here find a place. It is a great painting in miniature, genius in its quintessence, a gem of perfect water. We may apply to it any simile that implies excellence in the smallest compass. None but a fine imagination would have con- ceived the supernatural agency that works old Scrooge's moral regeneration — the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and to come-that each in turn speaks to the wizened heart of the old miser, so that, almost unwittingly, he is softened by the tender memories of childhood, warmed bv sympathy for those who struggle and suffer, and appalled by the prospect of his own ultimate desolation and black solitude. Then the episodes—the scenes to which these ghostly visitants convey Scrooge the story of his earlier years as shown in his vision the household of the Cratch its, and poor little crippled Tiny Tim the party given by Scrooge's nephew nay, before all these, the terrible inter- view with Marley's Ghost. All are admirably executed. Sacrilege would it be to suggest the al teratioll of a word." The Last of the Spirits. j It was in 1843 that it first appeared—nearly half-a-century ago—and it is now more widely popular than when it was first given to the public. How many wizened, flinty hearts and grim consciences it must have touched and melted during 49 Christmases It is a little "tract of the times," and so long as the world lasts A Christmas OiYrcl will be of use. And now let John Foister speak. He knew Dickens as no other man did knew his short- comings, his weaknesses as well us hia etrong points and his manly qualities. He was his life- long friend, his close cop-fidant and adviser. This is what he says about the "Carol" and its author :—There was, indeed, nobody that had not some interest in tho message of the Christmas Carol.' It told the selfish man to Mr Fezziwig's Ball. rid himself of selfishness, the just man to make himself generous, and the good-natured man to enlarge the sphere of his f?cod-natui e. Its cheery voice of faith and hope, ringing from one end of the island to th" other, carried pleasant warning alike to all, that if the duties of Christmas were wanting no trocd could come cf its outward observances that it must shine upon the cold hearth and warm it, and into the sorrowful heart and comfort it; that it must be kindness, benevo- lence, charity, mercy, and forbearance, or its plum pudding would turn to bile and its roast beef be indigestible. Nor could any man have said it with the same appropriateness as Dickens. What was marked in him to the last was manifest now. He had identified himself with Christmas fancies. Its lift, and spirits, its humour and riotous abundance, of right belonged to him. Its imaginations, as weli as its kindly thought-, were his and its privilege to light up with some sort of comfort the squalidest places, he had mads his own." Who can listen," exclaimed Thackeray, to objections regarding such a book as this ? It seems to me a national benefit, and to every man or woman who reads it, a personal kindness." Jeffrey wrote to the author of the "Carol"- Blessings on your kind heart. You should be happy y out self, for you may be sure you have done more good by this little publication, fostered more kindly feelings, and prompted more positive acts of beneficence, than can be traced to all the pulpits and confessionals in Christendom since Christmas, 184-2." In this case Virtue had its own reward, for Dickens received numerous letters from pocr people as well as literary men, thanking him for his Carol. These letters told how the Carol had been read aloud, aud how it was kept by some on a little shelf by itself, and that it bad done no end of good. Have we not matter enough to interest those of our readers who are not familiar with A Christmas Carol," in one of the best things on this most delightful of all seasons ? Those who 1_ The End of It. I know it by heart will not be wearied by bearing of it again, and to our readers who have not yet read it we advise them to procure it at once. The poorest this is not precluded from treat, for it has this year been published complete for a penny, and there are many pretty little editions at sixpence and a shilling. Our illustrations are copied from John Leech's original designs for the work. A Christmas Carol will serve as much as anything Dickens wrote to keep his memory green," and we will close our scribbling on the Carol with the words of Tiny Tim,— "GOD BLESS US, EVERY ONE

DICKENS'S GRAVE.

THEN AND NOW.

THEJJRIGIN OF THE SCOTTISH…