THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
tree,—it was the practice to introduce into the house, with great ceremony, and to the sound of music Herrick's direction is:—
" Come, bring with a noise, My merrie, merrie boys,
The Christmas log to the firing; While my good dame she Bids you all be free,
And drink to your heart's desiring."
In Drake's " Winter Nights " mention is made of the Yule Clog, as lying, " in ponderous majesty, on the kitchen floor," until " each had sung his Yule song, standing on its centre'"— ere it was consigned to the flames that
" Went roaring up the chimney wide."
This Yule Clog, according to Herrick, was to be lighted with the brand of the last year's log—which had been carefully laid aside for the purpose ; and music was to be played during the ceremony of lighting :—
" With the last yeere's brand Light the new block, and
For good successe in his spending, On your psaltries play, That sweet luck may
Come while the log is a teending." This log appears to have been considered as sanctifying the roof-tree,—and was probably deemed a protection against those evil spirits over whom this season was, in every way, a triumph. Accordingly, various superstitions mingled with the prescribed ceremonials in respect of it. From the authority already quoted on this subject, we learn that its virtues were not to be extracted, unless it were lighted with clean hands—a direction, probably, including both a useful household hint to the domestics, and, it may be, a moral of a higher kind :—
" Wash your hands, or else the fire Will not tend to your desire ; Unwash'd hands, ye maidens, know, Dead the fire, though ye blow."