Christmas Carols, Ancient And Modern

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xlvii
Christmas holydays; the tables were all spread from the first to the last, the sir-loyns of beef, the minc'd-pies, the plumb-porridge, the capons, tur­keys, geese, and plumb-puddings, were all brought upon the board; and all those who had sharp sto­machs and sharp knives, eat heartily and were wel­come, which gave rise to the proverb,
Merry in the Ball, when beards wag all.
There were then turnspits employed, who by the time dinner was over, would look as black and as greasy as a Welch porridge-pot, but the Jacks have since turned them all out of doors. The geese, which used to be fatted for the honest neighbours, have been of late sent to London^ and the quills made into pens to convey away the Landlord's estate; the sheep are drove away to raise money to answer the loss at a game at dice or cards, and their skins made into parchment for deeds and indentures; nay, even the poor innocent bee, who was used to pay its tribute to the Lord once a year at least in good metheglin, for the entertain­ment of the guests, and its wax converted into beneficial plaisters for sick neighbours, is now used for the sealing of deeds to his disadvantage."
He gives a ridiculous instance of the influence of the Squire in former times, that if he happened to ask a neighbour what it was o' clock, he re­turned with a low scrape, " It is what your Wor­ship pleases." He adds, " The spirit of hospitality has not quite forsaken us; several of the gentry are gone down to their respective seats in the country, in order to keep their Christmas in the old way, and entertain their tenants and trades-folks as their ancestors used to do, and I wish them a merry Christmas accordingly."

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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III