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the days of his youth, when he was 'a sad young dog, sir,' and knew all the sparks and bloods about town.

One reminiscence of his makes me cherish a particular remembrance of this Christmas Day. He had once seen Dr. Johnson. When he was a very little boy his father had held him up in a crowd near Temple Bar, to look at a fat man in a brown coat and a shovel hat. And that fat man was the great lexicographer.

'Did you ever see Oliver Goldsmith?' I asked.

No, he never saw him.'

But you heard a great deal about him, at that time?'

'No; we didn't hear much about Oliver Goldsmith. Johnson was the great man.'

You can imagine that, can you not? The talking man much heard of; the quiet man of thought and modest genius unregarded.

Some great-grandchildren came in in the evening. One, aged five, a pretty little puss, with blue eyes and flaxen hair, behaved quite in a motherly manner towards her great-granddad; kissed him patronizingly on both cheeks, patted his bald head, and making him comfortable in his chair, talked to him soothingly in baby language. There were four generations round the suppertable. The old man was so proud and so happy that he would insist upon sitting up long after his usual bed time. When his daughter said it was time for by-by, he snapped his fingers at her, demanded another glass of punch, and declared he would sing us a song. There was a capital song that Captain Morris used to sing, he said, but--but he couldn't remember it. He, he was a rare blade, Captain Morris, a rare blade; could sing a first-rate song. No; he couldn't remember that song, but he would try to remember another. And presently, after a good deal of cogitation, the nonagenarian struck up, in a shrill, quavering treble

'Here's to the maiden of blushing fifteen,

Here's to the widow of fifty;

Here's to the flaunting extravagant quean,
Here's to the-'

At this point his memory failed him,
and, thinking for some time, he said-
'Never mind, we'll sing the chorus,'
Let the glass pass,
We'll drink to the lass,

I'll warrant she'll prove an excuse for the glass.'

The next verse escaped him altogether, and he said he would sing us another capital song, called the Vicar and Moses.

But he forgot that too, and went back to the chorus of 'Here's to the maiden,' and finished up by draining his half glass of weak punch, with some faint imitation of the manner of the roaring blade he used to be when he was young.

It was not until twelve o'clock struck that the old great-granddad would consent to retire. And then his loving daughter took him by the arm and helped him to his room, where she put him to bed and tucked him up like a child.

Alas! he sleeps in his last bed now; the old hearth is desolate; the children are scattered, never to meet more until they are gathered together in the Father's House of many Mansions.

The next Christmas Day that rises on the magic disc of memory is suggested by the one I have just described; not because it was like it, but because it was very unlike it. It is memorable as one of the coldest, most uncomfortable Christmas Days I ever spent. I had three invitations to dinner that day. One to a country-house, a long distance from London; the second came from a homely family in the natural wilds of Islington; and the third was conveyed to me by an aristocratic personage, with a handle to his name, who resided in the unnatural tamenesses of Belgravia. He was not a duke, nor a lord, but he was something even more awful, grand, and unapproachable, for he was a scientific baronet, who wrote D.C.L., and LL.D., and F.R.S., and F.R.G.S., &c., after his name.

The terms in which he couched his invitation make it clear to me nowthough I did not perceive it at the time -that he invited me rather in pity than in a spirit of genial hospitality. The note was written on very thick, coarsegrained paper-(I wonder why thick coarse-grained paper is considered aristocratic!)-adorned with a coat of arms, and the handwriting was an illegible scientific scrawl. (I wonder why science, which is so accurate and precise in other things, always writes such a bad hand.) And the great man, Bart., D.C.L., LL.D., F.R.S., F.R.G.S., &c., said, as well as I could make out, that I might come and 'eat my Christmas dinner' with him. I didn't like that phrase 'eat my Christmas dinner.' To be sure it was the purpose of the thing; but it was, I thought, a cold-blooded way of putting it. I remember now that I had turned author about that period. I daresay he thought a dinner at any time would be a charity to me. My desire to dine with a baronet, however, blinded me to any

offence that might have lurked in the terms of the note; and disdaining humble Islington, where I should have been supremely happy, I accepted the invitation.

I went in full evening costume, and arrived at the grand mansion a quarter of an hour before the time appointed, which was six o'clock. I was received in the hall by a stately footman, who conducted me to the drawing-room. The Baronet was there, seated in his arm-chair, absorbed in a Review with a sombre cover, indicating that it was solemn and solid and scientific. He did not rise to bid me welcome; but carelessly extended three cold fingers for me to shake, and said 'How do ?' Nothing about a merry Christmas to me, or any seasonable greeting of that sort. Indeed there were no signs of Christmas in the house. The drawing-room was very elegant, with rich curtains, soft couches, large mirrors, marble busts and statues, and a great deal of gilding; but my eye searched in vain for the pleasant twinkle of a holly-berry or the glint of a mistletoe-leaf. The baronet's guests dropped in one by one. They were all males, and as they mostly appeared with rumpled hair, and wore spectacles, I judged that, like their host, they were scientific, and wrote capital letters after their names. It proved so.

There were no ladies of the family except her ladyship, and she excused herself from coming down to dinner on the ground of indisposition. So we, the male guests, tumbled down to the dining-room in a disorderly mob. On the stairs I heard 'superphosphate' mentioned, also 'carbonated' something, likewise an allusion to caloric.'

It was a magnificent dinner, with everything proper to the season, and many other things besides. It struck me, however, that the, viands proper to the season-the turkey, the roast beef, and the plum-pudding, were introduced almost apologetically, in deference to prejudice and foolish custom. It was a long time before we came to the turkey, nobody took roast beef, and the plumpudding was a little thing made in a shape, with no sprig of holly in it, and without a glory of blazing brandy. Everything was handed round by two silent footmen. And the guests were almost as silent as the attendants. At no time was there any general conversation; but after the champagne had gone round, I heard one gentleman, with tumbled hair and spectacles, say something to a gentleman next him, with a rumpled shirt and spectacles,

about albumen in connection with the veal cutlets; while the sight of the plum-pudding suggested to a third gentleman, with a bald head and a black stock, a grave remark about saccharine matter and prussic acid.

After dinner the scientific gentlemen drank a good deal of wine; but it seemed to have no particular effect upon them, except to make their faces red. They did not become at all jolly, and merry Christmas was not once alluded to. After tea, which was served in the drawing-room-handed round on a magnificent, but chilly silver salver, by the solemnest of the two footmen-the baronet and his guests-with the exception of four who sat down to play whist for half-crown points in a corner, dimly lighted by two tall yellow-looking wax candles-went to sleep. I was not sleepy. My dinner had not warmed my blood a bit, nor added a throb to my pulse, and I sat uncomfortably awake in the midst of the sleepers, afraid to move, lest I should make a noise and wake them. I would have given anything to sneak away; but I was bound to wait and bid my host good night. I found an opportunity at last.

Good night, sir; I-am-very-I have

I could not say it, and the baronet did not care whether I said it or not. He gave me, without rising, the same three fingers, still cold, and said

'Good night to you. James, show


He fell asleep again here.

James showed me the- -door, in fact, and I went forth into the keen frosty night with a sense that the free air, at least, was seasonable. Going home through the chilly streets, seeing the brightly-lighted windows, and hearing the sound of merry voices within, I felt, even after my sumptuous dinner, as if I were homeless, friendless, and hungry, on that Christmas night.

The scene changes once more, bringing back to me a Christmas Day big with my fate. I was nervous, excited, and had no appetite. Was I ill, or was I going to be married? Neither. Wassail flowed in abundance, but not for me. Pretty girls stood under the mistletoe and tempted me not. In the midst of the mirth and jollity I was moody, thoughtful, and anxious. Something was going to happen on the morIt was not Christmas Day that I thought about, but the day after. Was I reckoning what I should get in Christmas boxes? Not exactly that either; but I was reckoning with fear and trembling what I might expect from


Christmas boxes, pit, and gallery. I had written a Christmas piece for a theatre, and to-morrow would bring boxingnight, and success or failure. I remember, while looking out of the window humming, not Christmas carols, but my own comic songs, that a crow flew by. Was that an omen? And was one crow a good omen? The wish being father to the thought, I comforted myself with the conclusion that it was a good omen. Presently a second crow flew by. No, I was wrong. Two crows were a good omen. By-and-by a third crow flew past. Ah! now I remember, it is three crows that constitute a good omen. No more crows came, and I was quite sure of it. Three crows had appeared to me, and the piece would be a success. But still I am anxious and doubtful, and my heart is in a flutter. I am realizing

once more in memory a sensation which I am afraid I shall never realize again in actuality; for I have come to estimate applause at its true value; I have come to know that that which is applauded the most is generally that which deserves it the least.

I was bowing to the public in answer to the enthusiastic call which made me that night the happiest man in London, when the sound of the knocker dispelled the vision, and announced that my people had come home from their Christmas festivities. They apologized for being so late, and expressed great concern that I had been condemned to loneliness and gruel on Christmas Day.

Had I thought the time long? Not at all,' I said. Have you, my readers? If not, plaudite et valete.


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VEN if we had not been told by a

E higher authority that, To every

thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;if the maxim had not been consecrated by ages, forming part of the golden oldworld wisdom, it would still be pressed upon our acceptance by a perusal of the almanack, as well as by our observation, if not by our proper experience, of the daily events of human life.

For all Christendom there are days

and seasons (as Good Friday and Lent) when, without being bigoted or superstitious-although cheerful thankfulness is allowable, nay, praiseworthy, excessive merriment is most inopportune. For most individuals past their early youth-for many, unfortunately, still in early youth-there are sad anniversaries on which mirth shocks the feeling heart; when it avoids the world's bustle, seeking the shade, for retirement and searching self-examination. Without being altogether plunged in grief, it is in the mood of 'Il Penseroso,

There, in close covert, by some brook,
Where no profaner eye may look,
Hide me from day's garish eye,
While the bee, with honey'd thigh,
At her flowery work doth sing,
And the waters murmuring.
Or if the air will not permit,
Some still, removed place will fit,
Where glowing embers through the room
Teach light to counterfeit a gloom,
Far from all resort of mirth,
Save the cricket on the hearth.'

But there are also brithdays, wedding-days, days of rescue from perilgrateful remembrances of escape from railway collision, shipwreck, disease, struggles with beasts of prey (whether quadruped or human) and other shocks which flesh is heir to.

There are

thanksgiving days for signal good fortune, happy restorations, or even mere bare justice done; when the very mourner lays aside his tokens of bereavement, and wears a smile, at least for the sake of others. L'Allegro' is in the ascendant:

Haste thee, Nymph, and bring with thee
Jest and youthful jollity,
Sport that wrinkled Care derides,
And Laughter holding both his sides;
Come, and trip it as you go

On the light fantastic toe,

And in thy right hand lead with thee
The mountain nymph, sweet Liberty.'

Similarly, what people is not bound, as a society, to rejoice on the recurrence of Easter, Whitsuntide, and Christmas time? Holydays may remain holy days, without suppressing a whit of their gaiety. There is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing. Now is the time to speak out cheerily, to shake hands and embrace-observing the strictest punctilio with hearty goodwill and friendliness.

It is a time for four o'clock dinners and pantomime-going; for evening parties and hops (not balls), with stand-up suppers, snapdragon, private lotteries with all prizes, and juvenile dramatic efforts to vary which, and call forth the Nods, and becks, and wreathed smiles' enshrined in Milton's immortal verse, we will resuscitate a few of the quips and cranks known to our childhood as Christmas games. All they need, to carry them out successfully, is a room or two neither too spacious nor too fragile-furnitured, and thorough good-nature on the part of the performers.

Christmas games are based on the grand fundamental theory of being, like Falstaff, amusing in themselves,

and in calling forth after-amusement as their consequence. They make you laugh while bringing in forfeits, which will probably make you laugh still more. What would a Christmas game without forfeits be, but soup without salt, plum-pudding without plums, Cupid without his bow and arrows, a fiddler or a drummer without their drum or fiddlesticks? Blindman's Buff is no exception, because the forfeit is exacted on the spot. The blind man takes his toll in ready money. 'One bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,' is applicable to flounced, flowered, and furbelowed, as well as to feathered bipeds.

Forfeits, then, there must be, enough and to spare. If they come in slowly by the more serious (so to speak) and orthodox games, they must be had by readier, looser, less dignified methods; because it is not to a Quakers' meeting that the light-hearted guests have been invited. The queen of the evening must maintain her revenue of fun, and has a right to levy forfeit-taxes according to her own good pleasure. Even if she resort to Nip-Nose I shall not grumble, provided that a pretty hand nip mine. Having mentioned which, we may as well have done with it. It is as good an overture as any other to our harmonious performance of concerted pieces.

The party, seated in a circle, ladies and gentlemen alternately, as far as may be, each gently takes successively the tip of his or her neighbour's nose between his or her finger and thumb. While doing this, the parties concerned interrogate each other with absurd questions or indulge in ridiculous remarks. As all are bound to keep their countenance, under pain of fine, and perhaps eventual imprisonment, the object is to make your neighbour laugh. Whoever laughs pays a forfeit. It need not be a downright horse laugh; a broad grin or a giggle suffices to incur the penalty.

Be careful not to soil the tips of your finger and thumb with burnt cork, carmine, or other colouring matter, before applying them to your neighbour's nose. But, if you do, pray don't, for the world, tell anybody that I put you up to it. Still less will you tinge your own nose with any hue not natural to it before presenting it to be nipped. It might make your fair neighbour laugh, and so expose her to the payment of a forfeit, besides causing her to convey with her fingers the pigment to her neighbour's nose. Oh, no! you would never think of such a thing! Its name is NeverKnown.'

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Another mode of collecting forfeits in plenty in a very short time is the Game of Tapes. It plays, in a measure, on the same confusion of ideas which renders a losing game' of draughts so perplexing at first. Each person holds a piece of tape by one end. The other ends are grasped, like so many single reins, in the hands of the leader of the game, whose place is consequently in the centre of the ring. When he calls out Loose!' everybody must tighten their tape; when he gives the word of command, Tight!' they must slacken it. It is an experiment on the Rule of Contraries, showing how much we are the creatures of habit. A forfeit is exacted from every person who literally obeys the word of command.

For Fly, Feather, fly! ten or twelve

young people sit in a circle as close together as they can get, without crowding. Somebody takes a tuft of cotton wool, or a downy feather, and lets it float in the air above the heads of the group, giving it a puff with his breath. The person towards whom it directs its descent must likewise blow it upwards and away. If it falls upon him he pays a forfeit. A dozen persons so employed in chasing with their breath the common enemy compose a most amusing group, resembling the messengers of Eolus, as represented in old mythological pictures. The feather often defies them bravely, challenging them to do their worst, with poor King Lear's world-famous taunt

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks; rage blow!'


Each person thus exhibits their own private and peculiar mode of giving a puff. It occasionally happens that, as it is hard to laugh and blow at the same time, the feather finds its way into the mouth of the intending blower. Of course the involuntary feather-eater pays a double forfeit as the penalty of his curious taste.

Blindman's Buff may be played with a wand, which relieves it of the objection of a tendency to romp. The blind man, with a long wand in his hand, is placed in the middle of the room. The players stand round him in a ring, hand in hand, singing a chorus. They suddenly cease, and as soon as they are silent, the blind man stretches out his wand till it touches somebody who is obliged to take hold of it by the end.

The blind man utters three cries, which the person holding the wand must imitate. If recognized by the voice, he must pay a forfeit, and likewise take the blind man's place.

Whose Shadow am I? Guess if you can, is almost an artistic game. The Guesser (chosen by lot) in this, has no bandage on his eyes, but he need have all his wits about him. A white sheet is stretched on a screen, exactly as for a magic lantern. The Guesser is made to sit facing the screen on a stool so low that his shadow will not fall upon it. At a suitable distance behind him, a single waxlight is placed on a table or stand, and all the other lights are extinguished. When everything is ready, the company form a sort of procession, passing one after the other in Indian

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