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Seignors il est crié en lost,
Qe cil qui despent bien et tost,
E fet les granz honors sovent
Deu li duble quanque il despent
Por faire honor.
Deu doint a.
Seignors escriez les malveis,
Car vus nel les troverez jameis
De bone part:
Botun, batun, ferun gruinard,
Car tot dis a le quer cuuard
Por faire honor.
NOEL beyt bien li vin Engleis
NOEL fait beivre son veisin,
Si quil se dort, le chief enclin,
Deu doint a tuz cels.
Seignors jo vus di par NOEL,
E jo primes beurai le men,
Si jo vus di trestoz Wesseyl
Dehaiz eit qui ne dirra Drincheyl!
Lordings, from a distant home,
To seek old CHRISTMAS we are come,
And here, unless report mis-say,
The grey-beard dwells; and on this day
With festive mirth and glee.
To all who honour CHRISTMAS, and commend our lays, Love will his blessings send, and crown with joy their days*.
Lordings list, for we tell you true;
His liberal board is deftly spread
*These two lines seem intended, in the original, as a kind of burden or chorus at the end of each stanza; but as they only intrude upon the measure, the translation were perhaps better without them.
+ It was the custom at this time to serve up at entertainments peacock and pheasant pies, the forms of those elegant
Lordings, you know that far and near
On him will bounteous heaven bestow
Lordings, believe us, knaves abound;
But chiefly from these scenes of joy
CHRISTMAS quaffs our English wines*,
He puts th' insidious goblet round,
Till all the guests in sleep are drown'd,
Then wakes 'em with the tabor's sound,
And plays the prank anew.
birds being externally preserved, and much pomp bestowed on their appearance. See what has been already said on this subject in vol. i. p. 472.
* This is a stubborn fact against the opinion of those who maintain that wine was not made in England. See the controversy on this subject in Archæologia, vol. iii.
Lordings, it is our host's command,
And I'll be foremost to obey;
Then pledge me sirs, and drink away,
Now WASSEL to you all! and merry may ye be!
Sc. 4. p. 60.
HAM. This heavy-headed revel, east and west,
Makes us traduc'd, and tax'd of other nations:
Dr. Johnson has noticed the frequent allusions in this play to the king's intemperance, a failing that seems to have been too common among the Danish sovereigns as well as their subjects. A lively French traveller being asked what he had seen in Denmark, replied; "rien de singulier, sinon qu'on y chante tous les jours, le roy boit;" alluding to the French mode of celebrating Twelfth-day. See De Brieux, Origines de quelques coutumes, p. 56. Heywood Heywood in his Philocothonista, or The drunkard opened, dissected, and anatomized, 1635, 4to, speaking of what he calls the vinosity of nations, says of
the Danes, that "they have made a profession thereof from antiquity, and are the first upon record that brought their wassell-bowles and elbowe-deep healthes into this land."
Sc. 4. p. 68..
HAM. That thou, dead corse, again, in cómplete steelThis word is accented in both ways by our old poets as suited the metre. Thus in Sylvester's Du Bartas, edit. folio, 1621, p. 120:
"Who arms himself so cómplete every way."
But in King John, Act ii. we have:
"Such as she is, in beauty, virtue, birth,
Sc. 4. p. 68.
HAM. Say why is this, wherefore, what should we do? This interrogation is perfectly consistent with the opinions entertained by our forefathers concerning ghos., which they believed had some particular motive for quitting the mansions of the dead; such as a desire that their bodies, if unburied, should receive Christian rites of sepul