Christmas Gambols

Communicated by Mrs Flaxman

“Heap the sea-coal! come, heap it higher!
The oaken log lay on the fire:”
The well-wash’d stools, a circling row,
With lad and lass, how fair the show!
The merry can of nut-brown ale,
The laughing jest, the lovesick tale,
‘Till tir’d of chat the game begins,
The lasses prick the lads with pins;
Roger from Dolly twitch’d the stool
She falling, kiss’d the ground, poor fool!
She blush’d so red! — with side-long glance
At hob-nail Dick, who griev’d the chance
But now for blind-man’s buff they call
Of each incumbrance clear the hall
Jenny her silken ’kerchief folds,
And merry Will the black log holds;
Now laughing, stops, with “Silence! hush!”
And Peggy Pout gives Sam a push.
The blind-man’s arms extended wide,
Sam slips between; — “O woe betide
Thee clumsy Will!” — but titt’ring Kate
Is penn’d up in the corner strait!
And now, Will’s eyes behold the play
He thought his face was t’other way —
Now Kitty now, what chance hast thou?
Roger so near thee, trips; I vow!
She catches him, then Roger ties
His own head up — but not his eyes;
For thro the slender cloth he sees,
And runs at Sam, who slips with ease
His clumsy hold; and dodging round
Sukey is tumbled on the ground!
“See what it is to play unfair!
Where cheating is, there’s mischief there.”
But Roger still pursues the chase,
“He sees! he sees!” cries softly Grace;
O Roger, thou, unskill’d in art
Must, surer bound, go thro’ thy part.
But down he came, alas how frail
Our best of hopes, how soon they fail!
With crimson drops he stains the ground,
Confusion startles all around!
Poor piteous Dick supports his head,
And fain would cure the hurt he made,
But Kitty hasted with a key,
And down his back they strait convey
The cold relief — the blood is stay’d.
And Hodge again holds up his head.
Such are the fortunes of the game,
And those who play, should stop the same
By wholesome laws; such, as all those
Who on the blinded man impose,
Stand in his stead; as long a-gone
When men were first a nation grown,
Lawless they liv’d, till wantonness
And liberty began t’increase,
And one man lay in another’s way
Then laws were made, to keep fair play.

Mich. Missletoe