The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Wonders of Santa Claus

Harper's Weekly
December 26, 1857
Pages 820-821

CHAPTER 1.

Concerning Santa-Claus, -- His Astonishing Castle, -- His Beautiful Gifts For All Good Children, -- and His Real Name

Beyond the ocean many a mile,
    And many a year ago,
There lived a wonderful queer old men
    In a wonderful house of snow;
And every little boy and girl,
    As Christmas Eves arrive,
No doubt will be very glad to hear,
    The old man is still alive.

In his house upon the top of a hill,
    And almost out of sight,
He keeps a great many elves at work,
    All working with all their might,
To make a million of pretty things,
    Cakes, sugar-plums, and toys,
To fill the stockings, hung up you know
    By the little girls and boys.

It would be a capital treat be sure,
    A glimpse of his wondrous ‘shop;
But the queer old man when a stranger comes,
    Orders every elf to stop;
And the house, and work, and workmen all
    Instantly take a twist,
And just you may think you are there,
    They are off in a frosty mist.

 

But upon a time a cunning boy
    Saw this sign upon the gate,
Nobody can ever enter here
    Who lies a-bed too late:
Let all who expect a good stocking full,
    Not spend too much time in play;
Keep book and work all the while in mind,
    And be up by the peep of day.

A holiday morning would scarce suffice
    To tell what was making there;
Wagons and dolls, whistles and birds,
    And elephants most rare:
Wild monkeys drest like little men,
    And dogs that could almost bark,
Watches, that, if they only had wheels,
    Might beat the old clock in the Park.

Whole armies of little soldier folk,
    All marching in grand review,
And turning up their eyes at the girls,
    As the City soldiers do.
Engines, fast hurrying to a fire,
    And many a little fool
A-trudging after them through the streets,
    Instead of going to school.

Tin fiddles, and trumpets made of wood,
    That will play as good a tune
As a Scotch bag-piper could perform
    From Christmas-day till June.
Horses, with riders upon their backs,
    Conches, and carts, and gigs,
Each trying its best to win the race,
    Like the Democrats and Whigs.

Some little fellows turning a crank,
    And others beating a drum:
Little pianos, so exact
    You could almost hear them thrum,
Tea-sets and tables quite complete,
    With ladies sitting around,
Chatting as older ladies do,
    But a little more profound.

Steamboats made to sail in a tub,
    And fishing-smacks ahoy,
And heats and skiffs with oars and sails,
    A fleet for a sailor boy.
Ships of the line, equipt for sea,
    With officers and crew,
Each with a rod cap on his head,
    And a jacket painted blue.

Bold pewter men with pistols armed,
    Like duelists se smart,
Each very wickedly taking aim
    At his little comrade’s heart!
And nimble Jacks with stipple joints,
    That when you pull a string,
Will give you an easy lesson how
    To dance the Pigeon Wing.

Ugly old women in a box,
    As some younger ones ought to be,
Which, when the cover is lifted off,
    Fly out most spitefully.
Ripe wooden pears like real fruit,
    Somehow made to unscrew;
Kittens with mice sawed to their mouths,
    And tabby cats crying mew.

Gay Humming-tops that spin about,
    And snake a senseless sound,
Like windy representatives
    In Congress often found.
Fine marbles, and ride China—men,
    That you can play from taw,
As lawyers play rich clients down
    The ring-pits of the law.

Bright caskets filled with jewelry,
    Chains, bracelets, pins, and pearls,
All glittering with tinsel, like
    Some fashionable girls.
Delightful little picture books,
    And tales of Mother Goose,
More witty than most novels are,
    And twenty, times their use.

But it were an endless task to tell,
    The length that the list extends,
Of the curious gifts the queer old man
    Prepares for his Christmas friends.
Belike you are guessing who he is,
    And the country whence lie came.
Why, he was born in Germany,
    And St. Nicholas is his name.

CHAPTER II.

How St. Nicholas Got All His Packages Ready, In Order To Start At Sundown Upon His Long Journey. How He Went To Amsterdam, Paris, Dublin, London, and St. Petersburg.

DECEMBER’S four and twentieth day
    Through its course was almost run,
St. Nicholas stood at his castle door
    Awaiting the setting sun.
His goods ware packed in a great balloon,
    Near by were his horse and sleigh;
He had his skates upon his feet
    And a ship getting under weigh.

For he was to travel by sea and land,
    And sometimes through the air,
And then to skim on the rivers smooth,
    When the ice his weight would bear.
The wind blew keen, and the snow fell fast,
    But not a whit cared he;
For he knew a myriad little hearts,
    Were longing that night to see.

Away he flew to Amsterdam,
    As soon as the son want down,
And left whole bushels of play-things there,
    For every child in town.
Then he tried his skates on the Zuyder Zee,
    Southwest to Dover’s Strait,
Then Southward with his horse and sleigh,
    He was soon at Paris’ gate.

He scaled the walls of the Tuileries,
    The children were all retired,
And every stocking. was hanging up,
    As St. Nicholas desired.
In one he put a sceptre and crown,
    In another a guillotine,
And a little man without a head,
    Who King of the French had been.

He paused a while at Notre Dame,
    To see the Christmas shows;
Then with his grand Montgolfier
    Majestically rose,
And from his splendid parachute,
    A shower of bonbons threw,
For all the little ones in France,
    And bade them all adieu.

Then down he drove on the River Seine,
    And on the Biscay bay,
Took ship for famous Dublin town,
    And London on his way.
In Dublin what do you think be left,
    For the hearty Irish boys?
Why, bags of potatoes instead of cakes,
    And shillalaghs instead of toys.

In London he gave them rounds of beef,
    And two plum-puddings a-piece,
Then stepped to Windsor palace of course,
    To see his royal niece.
He gave her a little Parliament,
    Discussing a knotty bill,
And two or three nuts for them to crack,
    And a birch to keep them still.

And now, said he, for St. Petersburg!
    Over the cold North Sea,
And up the Baltic he sped in haste,
    And was there when the clock struck three.
He hied to the palace of the Czar,
    And clambered in at the dome;
A great many stockings were hung around!
    But the folks were not at home.

He gave them little Siberian mines,
    With little men in chains,
Who strove to avenge their country’s wrongs,
    And were sent there for their pains.
He left the Emperor a snap,
    With Russia cut in four,
As much as to say, great Muscovite,
    Your sway may soon be o’er.

Then down he hastened for Italy,
    To call at the Vatican,
Forgetting, until he had arrived,
    The Pope is a bachelor man.
But he looked in at St. Peter’s church,
    And saw the whole town at prayer,
So he left a basket full at the door,
    For all the good children there.

Upon the Mediterranean Sea,
    He boarded his ship again,
And hoisted sail, and steered west,
    To see the Queen of Spain,
And give her a legion of wooden men,
    Equipt from foot to nose,
And a troop of leaden horsemen too,
    The rebels to oppose.

CHAPTER III.

St. Nicholas Hurries Away From Spain, And Sets Sail For America.

O’er the Cantabrian mountains wild,
    He hurried to the strand,
To meet his treasure-laden ship,
    There waiting his command.
He scattered beautiful gifts around,
    As he event flying past,
Then put his trumpet to his lips,
    And blew a rousing blast.

Up, up my gallant sailors all,
    Swiftly your anchor weigh,
The wind is fair, and we must sail,
    For far America.
By wind and steam for New Amsterdam,
    Three thousand miles an hour,
Onward he drove his elfin ship,
    With a thousand-fairy power.

Down at the Battery he moored,
    And gave a grand salute,
With cannon charged with sugar-plums,
    And powder made to suit.
Thou he hoisted out a score of bales,
    Of his cakes, and nuts, and wares;
You would have been amazed to see
    The heaps on the ferry stairs.

All’s well, all’s well! loud voices cried;
    St. Nicholas is here!
How charming many a stocking full
    In the morning will appear.
Now all good little boys and girls
    Shall have a noble treat,
Delightful presents, that will make
    The holidays complete.

Upon the spires of old St. Paul’s
    Policemen saw him stand,
Reading his list of ancient friends,
    With his leather bags in hand.
‘Tis said lie dropt a frozen tear,
    As he locked on the streets below,
And saw what a mighty change has come
    Since Christmas times ago!

Those brave old times when great mince pies
    Were piled on every shelf,
And every Knickerbocker boy
    Might go and help himself.
When Broadway was a path for cows,
    And all the streets were lanes,
And the houses were so snug and quaint,
    With their bull’s-eye window-panes;

And low old fashioned door-ways, where,
    The upper part swung in,
The Dutchman could his elbows lean,
    And smoke his pipe and grin.
Then doughnuts were all good to eat,
    And made as big as bricks,
And ‘twas not thought unmannerly
    To eat as many as six.

Good simple times, when lad and lass,
    In happy groups were seen,
With sled and skate for winter sports,
    Around the Bowling Green.
When maidens plied the spinning-wheel,
    And idlers were unknown,
And all the up-town people lived
    Below the one-mile stone.

When all were good and went to church,
    And heeded what they heard,
And children never learned to speak
    A bad or saucy word.
With plenty smiling every where,
    Like Christmas every day,
Content and love at every hearth,
    O what rare times were they!

But long before all this was said,
    The stockings were all filled,
And Santa-claus was skating home,
    With his nose a little chilled.
He whistled as he skimmed along,
    Till the day began to dawn,
Then giving a twirl in the frosty air,
    St. Nicholas was gone!

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