28 THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
his old cap was new,"—and which appears to have been written after the times of the Commonwealth. And this extract we are induced to add to those which have gone before, because, though it deals with precisely the same subjects, it speaks of them as of things gone by,—and is written in a tone of lamentation, in which it is one of the purposes of this chapter to call upon our readers to join. We are sorry we cannot give them directions as to the tune to which it should be sung,—further than that it is obviously unsuited to that of the " Delights of the Bottle," prescribed for the joyous ballad from which we first quoted on this subject; and that, whatever may be the tune, we are clear that the direction as to time should be the same as that which Mr. Hood prefixes to his song of the Guildhall Giants, viz.,—" Dinnertime and mournful.—"
" A man might, then, behold,
At Christmas, in each hall, Good fires to curb the cold,
And meat for great and small; The neighbors were friendly bidden,
And all had welcome true, The poor from the gates were not chidden,
When this old cap was new.
" Black jacks to every man
Were fill'd with wine and beer; No pewter pot nor can
In those days did appear: Good cheer in a nobleman's house
Was counted a seemly show ; We wanted no brawn nor souse,
When this old cap was new."
Can our readers bear, after this sad ditty, to listen to the enumeration of good things described by Whistlecraft to have been served up at King Arthur's table, on Christmas day ?—If the list be authentic, there is the less reason to wonder at the feats of courage and strength performed by the Knights of the Round Table.
" They served up salmon, venison, and wild boars, By hundreds, and by dozens, and by scores.