26 THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS
" All travellers, as they do pass on their way, At gentlemen's halls are invited to stay, Themselves to refresh and their horses to rest, Since that he must be old Christmas's guest; Nay, the poor shall not want, but have for relief, Plum-pudding, goose, capon, minc'd-pies, and roast-beef."
And so on,—through a variety of joyous and substantial anticipations ; from which the writer draws an inference, which we think is most satisfactorily made out:—
" Then well may we welcome old Christmas to town, Who brings us good cheer, and good liquor so brown; To pass the cold winter away with delight, We feast it all day, and we frolick all night."
In Ellis's edition of Brand's Popular Antiquities, an old Christmas song is quoted from " Poor Robin's Almanack," for 1695,— which gives a similar enumeration of Christmas dainties; but throws them into a form calculated for more rapid enunciation, as if with due regard to the value of those moments at which it was probably usual to sing it. The measure is not such a mouthful as that of the former one which we have quoted. It comes trip, pingly off the tongue; and it is not impossible that, in those days of skilful gastronomy, it might have been sung, eating. We will quote a couple of the verses,—though they include the same commissariat truths as that from which we have already extracted: and our readers will observe, from the ill-omened wish which concludes the second of these stanzas, in what horror the mere idea of fasting had come to be held, since it is the heaviest curse which suggested itself to be launched against those who refused to do homage to the spirit of the times.—
" Now thrice welcome Christmas,
Which brings us good cheer, Minc'd-pies and plumb-porridge,
Good ale and strong beer ; With pig, goose, and capon,
The best that may be, So well doth the weather
And our stomachs agree.