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doors, in the form of a song; but more generally, especially in the north of England and in Scotland, the house was entered very early in the morning, by some young men and maidens selected for the purpose, who presented the spiced bowl, and hailed you with the gratulations of the seasons.
Wassailing, or going about with a bowl of spiced ale, is an ancient custom still kept up in some parts, of the country. The bowl contained a mixture of ale, nutmeg, sugar, toast, and roasted apples, and was carried from house to house on new year's eve, by a party of either men or women, who danced and sung for either meat, drink, or money. This practice, however, is now almost obsolete. In Ritson's Ancient Songs is the following Carrol for a WasselBowl, which presents a good picture of the custom.
A jolly Wassel-Bowl,
A Wassel of good ale
Our jolly Wassel.
Our Wassel we begin,
With our Wassel.
With apples and with spice,
Of our good Wassel.
Here dwelling in this house,
Of our Wassel.
All freezing in the cold;
· With our Wassel.
Much joy into this hall
With us is entered in,
Of our Wassel.
Our spiced bowl will try,
For our Wassel.
Our Wassel to maintain ;
With our Wassel.
Of choosing king and queen,
In our Wassel.
To bear a liberal mind
With onr Wassel.
To seek out more good cheer;
With our Wassel.
Our prayers shall be still ;
To our Wassel. The origin of the Wassel-Bowl is thus given in The Antiquarian Repertory :-—" This annual custom,” says Geoffrey of Monmouth, had its rise from Rouix, or Rowen, or as some will have it, Rowena, daughter of the Saxon Hengist; she, at the command of her father, who had invited the British king, Vortigern, to a banquet, came in the presence
with a bowl of wine, and welcomed him in these words, 'Louerd King, wass-heile;' he in return, by the help of an interpreter, answered, 'Drinc heile !""
Leigh Hunt, speaking of new year's day, says :“ Every day, from Christmas Eve to Twelfth Day, and often till Candlemas, was, more or less, a repetition of the same enjoyments. At court, and in the houses of the principal noblemen, a temporary merry officer was created, who was jocosely called the Lord of Misrule, and whose business it was to invent and manage the entertainments, and see that they were in proper spirit. In these upper circles, the inmates and visitors all repaired of a morning into the great hall to breakfast; various sports and gambols took place among high and low, between that meal and dinner : the dinner was in the highest style of hospitality, with music and other household pomps; and so was the supper, before and after which there were revels, dances, or masks, interspersed with singing-almost every decent person in those days being something of a singer, and able to take his part in a catch or glee."
In the year 1589, on new year's day, Sir Francis Drake presented Queen Elizabeth with a fan made of white and red feathers, with a gold handle, enamelled with a half-moon of mother-oʻ-pearl; within that half-moon, another garnished with sparks of diamonds, and a few seed pearls on one side, having her majesty's picture within it; and on the other side was a device with a crown over it.
The following Animated Sketch of Sports on New Year's Day in the New World, will be found a pleasing contrast to the revels of our own quarter of the world at this season of the year. It is from the pen of Mr. J. K. Paulding, one of the most amusing of American writers.
66 Winter, with silver locks and sparkling icicles, now gradually approached, under cover of his north
west winds, his pelting storms, cold frosty mornings, and bitter freezing nights. And here we will take occasion to express our obligations to the popular : author of the · Pioneers, for the pleasure we have derived from his happy delineations of the progress of our seasons, and the successive changes which mark their course. All that remember their youthful days in the country, and look back with tender melancholy enjoyment upon their slippery gambols i on the ice, their Christmas pies, and nut-crackings, by the cheerful fireside, will read his pages with a gratified spirit, and thank him heartily for having refreshed their memory with the half-effaced recollections of scenes and manners, labors and delights, which, in the progress of Time, and the changes which every where mark his course, will, in some future age, perhaps, live only in the touches of his pen. If, in the course of our history, we should chance to dwell upon scenes somewhat similar to those he describes, or to mark the varying tints of our seasons with a sameness of coloring, let us not be stigmatized with borrowing from him, since it is next to impossible to be true to nature, without seeming to have his sketches in our eye.
“ The holydays,—those wintry blessings, which cheer the heart of young and old, and give to tbe gloomy depths of winter the life and spirit of laughing jolly spring, were now near at hand. The chopping-knife gave token of goodly minced pies, and the bustle of the kitchen afforded shrewd indications of what was coming by and by. The celebration of the new year, it is well known, came originally from the northern nations of Europe, who still keep up many of the practices, amusements, and enjoyments, known to their ancestors. The Heer Piper valued himself upon being a genuine northern man, and, consequently, held the winter holydays in special favor and affection. In addition to this
hereditary attachment to ancient customs, it was shrewdly suspected, that his zeal in celebrating these good old sports was not a little quickened, in consequence of his mortal antagonist, William Penn, having hinted, in the course of their controversy, that the practice of keeping holydays savoured not only of popery, but paganism.
“Before the Heer consented to sanction the projects of Dominie Kanttwell for abolishing sports and ballads, he stipulated for full liberty, on the part of himself and his people of Elsingburgh, to eat, drink, sing, and frolic, as much as they liked, during the winter holydays. In fact, the Dominie made no particular opposition to this suspension of his bluelaws, being somewhat addicted to good eating and drinking, whenever the occasion justified; that is to say, whenever such accidents came in his way.
“ It had long been the custom with Governor Piper to usher in the new year with a grand supper, to which the Dominie, the members of the council, and certain of the most respectable burghers, were always bidden. This year, he determined to see the old year out, and the new one in, as the phrase was, baving just heard of a great victory gained by the bulwark of the protestant religion, the immortal Gustavus Adolphus; which, though it happened nearly four years before, had only now reached the village of Elsingburgh. Accordingly, the Snowball Bombie was set to work in the cooking of a mortal supper; which, agreeably to the taste of West Indian epicures, she seasoned with such enormous quantities of red pepper, that whoever ate was obliged to drink, to keep his mouth from getting on fire, like unto a chimney.
« Exactly at ten o'clock, the guests sat down to the table, where they ate and drank to the success of the protestant cause, the glory of the great Gustavus, the downfall of popery and the quakers, with equal