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equally ripe for anything that should occasion romping and merriment, they had carried it into instant effect. The old housekeeper had been consulted, the antique clothes-presses and wardrobes rummaged and made to yield up the relics of finery that had not seen the light for several generations; the younger part of the company had been privately convened from the parlour and hall, and the whole had been bedizened out into a burlesque imitation of the antique mask.
Master Simon led the van as "Ancient Christmas,"quaintly apparelled in a ruff, a short cloak which had very much the aspect of one of the old housekeeper's petticoats, and a hat that might have served for a village steeple, and must indubitably have figured in the days of the Covenanters. From under this his nose curved boldly forth, flushed with a frost-bitten bloom, that seemed the very trophy of a December blast. He was accompanied by a blue-eyed romp, dished upas "Dame Mince Pie," in the venerable magnificence of a faded brocade, long stomacher, peaked hat, and high-heeled shoes. The young officer appeared as Robin Hood, in a sporting-dress of Kendal green, and a foraging cap with a gold tassel. The fair Julia hung on his arm in pretty rustic dress, as "Maid Marian." The rest of the train had been metamorphosed in various ways; the girls trussed up in the finery of the ancient belles of the Bracebridge line, and the striplings bewhiskered with burnt cork, and gravely clad in broad skirts, hanging sleeves, and full-bottomed wigs, to represent the characters of Roast Beef, Plum-Pudding, and other worthies celebrated in ancient maskings. The whole was under the control of the Oxonian, in the appropriate character of Misrule.
The irruption of this motley crew, with beat of drum, according to ancient custom, was the consummation of uproar and merriment. Master Simon covered himself with glory by the stateliness with which, as " Ancient Christmas," he walked a minuet with the peerless, though giggling, Dame Mince Pie. It was followed by a dance of all the characters, which from its medley of costumes, seemed as though all the family portraits had skipped down from their frames to join in the sport.
But enough of Christmas and its gambols: it is time for me to pause in this garrulity.—Washington Irvinu.
The minstrels played their Christmas tune,
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,
Keen was the air, but could not freeze,
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;
In honour of each household name.
How touching, when, at midnight, sweep
The mutual nod—the grave disguise,
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.
CHURCH-DECKING AT CHRISTMAS.
Would that our scrupulous sires had dared to leave
Less scanty measure of those graceful rites
And usages, whose due return invites
A crown for Hope! I dread the boasted lights
That all too often are but fiery flights,
The counter-spirit found in some gay church,
Green with fresh holly, every pew a porch In which the linnet or the thrush might sing
Merry and loud, and safe from prying search, Strains offered only to the genial spring.
THE HOLLT TREE. 547
We still dress up both our churches and houses on Christmas and other festival days, with its cheerful green and rutilant berries. Is there under heaven a more glorious and refreshing object of the kind than an impregnable hedge of about four hundred feet in length, nine feet high, and five in diameter, which I can now show in my round gardens at Say's Court (thanks to the Czar of Muscovy) at any time of the year, glittering with its armed and varnished leaves, the taller standards at orderly distances blushing with their natural coral ?—Evelyn.
THE HOLLY TREE.
0 reader! hast thou ever stood to see
The eye that contemplates it well, perceives
Its glossy leaves
Below, a circling fence, its leaves are seen
Wrinkled and keen;
Can reach to wound;
1 love to view these things with curious eyes,
And in this wisdom of the holly tree
Can emblems see,
Thus, though abroad perchance I might appear
Harsh and austere,
Reserved and rude,
And should my youth, as youth is apt I know,
Some harshness show,
Would wear away,
And as when all the summer trees are seen
So bright and green,
Less bright than they;
So serious should my youth appear among
The thoughtless throng,
More grave than they,
The misletoe, or misseltoe, receives the Latin name of viscum from viscus, bird-lime, on account of the sticky nature of the berries. This plant is perennial, often existing to a great age. The root by which it becomes firmly attached to a tree is thick and woody; the stem is bushy and thickly jointed, but very smooth, as are also the leaves. These are of a lance-shape, but become broader and blunt at the extremity. The flowers are yellowish, seated on the stem; the berries white. In Herefordshire and Worcestershire, and wherever apple trees are cultivated to a considerable extent, the misletoe is common; but in other situations it is less frequent. The plant is often cut from the trees in severe winters and given to sheep, who devour it with great eagerness, and who are popularly said to be thereby preserved from the disease called the rot.
The common lime-tree, the black poplar, the apple-tree,