170 THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
of a beautiful moonlight Christmas-eve. The Indian made signals to him to be silent; and, when questioned as to his reason, replied, —" Me watch to see the deer kneel; this is Christmas night, and all the deer fall upon their knees, to the great spirit, and look up." In various parts of England, bees are popularly said to express their veneration for the Nativity, by " singing," as it is called, in their hives, at midnight, upon Christmas-eve:—and in some places, particularly in Derbyshire, it is asserted that the watcher may hear the ringing of subterranean bells. In the mining districts, again, the workmen declare that
"-----------ever 'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,"
high mass is solemnly performed, in that cavern which contains the richest lode of ore,—that it is brilliantly lighted up with candles, —and that the service is chanted by unseen choristers.
Superstitions of this kind seem to be embodied in the carol commencing with " I saw three ships come sailing in," to which we have before alluded;—the rhythm of which old song is, to our ear, singularly melodious:—
" And all the bells on earth shall ring, On Christmas-day, on Christmas-day, And all the bells on earth shall ring, On Christmas-day in the morning.
And all the angels in Heaven shall sing,
On Christmas-day, on Christmas-day, And all the angels in Heaven shall sing,
On Christmas-day in the morning.
And all the souls on earth shall sing,
On Christmas-day, on Christmas-day, And all the souls on earth shall sing,
On Christmas-day in the morning."
Such fancies are but the natural echoes, in the popular mind, of ancient songs and customs :—and so strongly is that mind impressed with the feeling of a triumph pervading the entire natural economy on
" the happy night
That to the cottage as the crown,
Rrnu<jht tiding of salvation down."—