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Although the following poem contains no immediate reference to the Christmas season, still, the pictures which it presents of the hospitality of the period, and the character of the entertainment met with at the table of a country gentleman, of the reign of Charles I., render it peculiarly applicable to that particular season of the year, when open-handed liberality, such as it commemorates, is in the ascendant.



TILL I shall come again, let this suffice,
I send my salt, my sacrifice

To thee, thy lady, younglings, and as far
As to thy Genius and thy Larr ;*

To the worn threshold, porch, hall, parlour, kitchen,
The fat-fed smoking temple, which in

The wholesome savour of thy mighty chines,

Invites to supper him who dines,

Where laden spits, warped with large ribs of beef,
Not represent, but give relief

To the lank stranger and the sour swain,

Where both may feed and come again;
For no black-bearded vigil from thy door

Beats with a buttoned-staff the poor;
But from thy warm love-hatching gates, each may
Take friendly morsels, and there stay
To sun his thin-clad members, if he likes,

For thou no porter keep'st who strikes.
No comer to thy roof his guest-rite wants;
Or, staying there, is scourged with taunts

Of some rough groom, who, yirked with corns, says, "Sir,
You've dipt too long i' th' vinegar;

And with our broth and bread and bits, Sir friend,

You've fared well, pray make an end;

An elfish spirit.

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Two days you've larded here; a third, you know,
Makes guests and fish smell strong; pray go
You to some other chimney, and there take
Essay of other giblets; make

Merry at another's hearth! you 're here

Welcome as thunder to our beer;"
Manners know distance, and a man unrude
Would soon recoil, and not intrude

His stomach to a second meal. No, no,

Thy house, well fed and taught, can show

No such crabbed visard: Thou hast learnt thy train
With heart and hand to entertain;

And by the armsful, with the breast unhid,

As the old race of mankind did,

When either's heart, and either's hand did strive
To be the nearer relative;

Thou dost redeem those times; and what was lost
Of ancient honesty, may boast

It keeps a growth in thee, and so will run
A course in thy fame's pledge, thy son.
Thus, like a Roman Tribune, thou thy gate
Early sets ope to feast, and late;

Keeping no currish waiter to affright,
With blasting eye, the appetite,

Which fain would waste upon thy cates, but that
The trencher creature marketh what
Best and more suppling piece he cuts, and by
Some private pinch tells danger's nigh,
A hand too desp'rate, or a knife that bites
Skin deep into the pork, or lights
Upon some part of kid, as if mistook,

When checked by the butler's look.

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No, no, thy bread, thy wine, thy jocund beer
Is not reserved for Trebins here,
But all who at thy table seated are,

Find equal freedom, equal fare:
And thou, like to that hospitable god,

Jove, joy'st when guests make their abode To eat thy bullock's thighs, thy veals, thy fat Wethers, and never grudged at

The pheasant, partridge, godwit, reeve, ruff, rail,
The cock, the curlew, and the quail:
These, and thy choicest viands do extend
Their taste unto the lower end

Of thy glad table; not a dish more known
To thee, than unto any one;

But as thy meat, so thy immortal wine

Makes the smirk face of each to shine,

And spring fresh rosebuds, while the salt, the wit Flows from the wine, and graces it;

While reverence, waiting at the bashful board,
Honours my lady and my lord.

No scurrile jest, no open scene is laid
Here, for to make the face afraid;

But temp'rate mirth dealt forth, and so discreet-
Ly, that it makes the meat more sweet,
And adds perfumes unto the wine, which thou
Dost rather pour forth, than allow

By cruise and measure; thus devoting wine
As the Canary Isles were thine;
But with that wisdom and that method, as
No one that's there his guilty glass
Drinks of distemper, or has cause to cry
Repentance to his liberty.

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Yet, ere twelve moons shall whirl about
Their silv'ry spheres, there's none may doubt
But more's sent in than was served out.

Next, may your dairies prosper so,
As that your pans no ebb may know;
But if they do, the more to flow:

• Fine wheaten bread.

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Like to a solemn sober stream,

Banked all with lilies, and the cream
Of sweetest cowslips filling them.

Then may your plants be pressed with fruit,
Nor bee nor hive you have be mute,

But sweetly sounding like a lute.

Next, may your duck and teeming hen,
Both to the cock's tread say, amen ;
And for their two eggs render ten.

Last, may your harrows, shares, and ploughs,
Your stacks, your stocks, your sweetest mows,
All prosper by your virgin-vows.

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