But lo! through this dark cloud of evils
A ray is beginning to peer,
Which startles the host of blue-devils,
As though 'twere Ithuriel's spear:
The pulses again freely play; for

Though faster may fall the snow flakes,
Merry Christmas is coming, and hey for
Romps, turkeys, mince-pies, and twelfth-cakes!

A fig for each cynical railer—
We'll keep it up early and late:

I shall have a long bill from my tailor,
No matter, the rascal must wait!
Come, what shall it be, pretty lasses,

Hot cockles? pope-joan? blindman's-buff?
It's no matter how the time passes,
So you do but make racket enough!

Though Fashion such sports has exploded,
Her firman ne'er think upon now;
But bring, with its pretty pearls loaded,
The mistletoe's mystical bough:

Oh, why should we part with our blisses,
To follow the taste of a few?

Though some people may not like kisses,
I honestly own that I do.

Of course, there'll be some little tussling—
The fluster is half of the fun;
And what's a few yards of book-muslin,
Compared to the prize that is won?
Would some one but set it a going,

Quadrilles would be soon out of date;
For who would be seen dos-à-dos-ing,

When they could be thus tête-à-tête ?

Round a large wassail-bowl of rich fluids,
Would quench e'en a Tantalus' thirst,
Libations then pour to the Druids,

Who gathered the mistletoe first:

And next to the sweet girls who've blest it, Wherever the pretty rogues be,

And who, though they must seem to detest it, Would live and die under the tree! (By permission of the Author.)


I HAD an uncle once-a man

Of threescore years and three ;-
And when my reason's dawn began,
He'd take me on his knee;
And often talk, whole winter nights,
Things that seemed strange to me.
He was a man of gloomy mood,

And few his converse sought;
But, it was said, in solitude

His conscience with him wrought;
And there, before his mental eye,
Some hideous vision brought.
There was not one in all the house
Who did not fear his frown,
Save I, a little careless child,

Who gambolled up and down,
And often peeped into his room,

And plucked him by the gown.
I was an orphan and alone,-

My father was his brother,
And all their lives I knew that they
Had fondly loved each other;
And in my uncle's room there hung
The picture of my mother.
There was a curtain over it,-
'Twas in a darkened place,
And few or none had ever looked
Upon my mother's face,
Or seen her pale expressive smile
Of melancholy grace.

One night I do remember well,
The wind was howling high,
And through the ancient corridors
It sounded drearily—

I sat and read in that old hall;
My uncle sat close by.

I read but little understood
The words upon
the book;

For with a sidelong glance I marked
My uncle's fearful look,

And saw how all his quivering frame In strong convulsions shook.

A silent terror o'er me stole,
A strange, unusual dread;
His lips were white as bone-his eyes
Sunk far down in his head;

He gazed on me, but 'twas the gaze
Of the unconscious dead.

Then suddenly he turned him round, And drew aside the veil

That hung before my mother's face;—
Perchance my eyes might fail,
But ne'er before that face to me
Had seemed so ghastly pale.

"Come hither, boy !" my uncle said,— I started at the sound;

'Twas choked and stifled in his throat, And hardly utterance found:"Come hither, boy !" then fearfully He cast his eyes around.

"That lady was thy mother once,—
Thou wert her only child;-
O God! I've seen her when she held
Thee in her arms and smiled,—
She smiled upon thy father, boy,

'Twas that which drove me wild!

"He was my brother, but his form
Was fairer far than mine;

I grudged not that;-he was the prop
Of our ancestral line,

And manly beauty was of him
A token and a sign.

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Boy! I had loved her too,-nay, more,
'Twas I who loved her first;

For months-for years-the golden thought
Within my soul was nursed;

He came he conquered-they were wed;My air-blown bubble burst!

"Then on my mind a shadow fell,
And evil hopes grew rife;

The damning thought stuck in my heart,
And cut me like a knife,
That she, whom all my days I loved,
Should be another's wife!

"By heaven! it was a fearful thing
To see my brother now,

And mark the placid calm that sat
For ever on his brow,

That seemed in bitter scorn to say,
I am more loved than thou!

"I left my home-I left the land-
I crossed the raging sea ;—
In vain-in vain-where'er I turned,
My memory went with me;—
My whole existence, night and day,
In memory seemed to be.

"I came again-I found them here-
Thou'rt like thy father, boy-
He doted on that pale face there,
I've seen them kiss and toy,-
I've seen him locked in her fond arms,
Wrapped in delirious joy!

"He disappeared-draw nearer, child-
He died-no one knew how;
The murdered body ne'er was found,
The tale is hushed up now;

But there was one who rightly guessed
The hand that struck the blow.

"It drove her mad-yet not his death,— No-not his death alone:

For she had clung to hope, when all
Knew well that there was none;—
No, boy! it was a sight she saw
That froze her into stone!

“I am thy uncle, child,—why stare So frightfully aghast ?—

The arras waves, but know'st thou not
'Tis nothing but the blast ?

I, too, have had my fears like these,
But such vain fears are past.

“I'll show thee what thy mother saw,—
I feel 'twill ease my breast,
And this wild tempest-laden night
Suits with the purpose best.-
Come hither-thou hast often sought
To open this old chest.

“It has a secret spring; the touch
Is known to me alone;
Slowly the lid is raised, and now—
What see you, that you groan
So heavily?—That thing is but
A bare-ribbed skeleton."

A sudden crash-the lid fell down-
Three strides he backwards gave,—
“Oh God! it is my brother's self
Returning from the grave!

His grasp of lead is on my throat—
Will no one help or save?"

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