THE CHRISTMAS DINNER 123
plate that might have vied (at least in variety) with Belshazzars parade of the vessels of the temple; " flagons, cans, cups, beakers, goblets, basins, and ewers ;" the gorgeous utensils of good companionship, that had gradually accumulated through many generations of jovial housekeepers. Before these stood the two Yule candles beaming like two stars of the first magnitude ; other lights were distributed in branches, and the whole array glittered like a firmament of silver.
We were ushered into this banqueting scene with the sound of minstrelsy, the old harper being seated on a stool beside the fireplace, and twanging his instrument with a vast deal more power than melody. Never did Christmas board display a more goodly and gracious assemblage of countenances : those who were not handsome were, at least, happy; and happiness is a rare improver of your hard-favoured visage. I always consider an old English family as well worth studying as a collection of Holbein's portraits or Albert Durer's