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Santa Claus And His Works

By George P Webster

Color illustrations by Thomas Nast, based on his woodcut from 1886, "Santa Claus and His Works", Harper’s Weekly, 1866. Originally published by McLoughlin Brothers, New York, circa 1869.

This nice little story for Girls and for Boys

Is all about Santa Claus, Christmas and toys.

So gather around me, but speak not a word

For I mean what I say, by you all will be heard.


In a nice little city called Santa Claus-ville,

With its houses and church at the foot of the hill

Lives jolly old Santa Claus; day after day

He works and he whistles the moments away.


You must know, he is honest, and toils for his bread,

And is fat and good-natured with nothing to dread.

His eyes are not read, but they twinkle and shine,

For he never was known to drink brandy or wine;


But day after day at his bench he is found,

For he works for good children hard, all the year round.

Though busy all day he is happy, and sings

While planning and making the funniest things,


Such as wagons and horses, and dishes and ladles,

And soldiers and monkeys, and little dolls cradles.

And garters and socks, and the tiniest shoes,

And lots of nice things such as doll babies use.


(See, the top of his head is all shining and bare –

‘Tis the good men, dear children, who lose all their hair.)

With many things more, for I can not tell half –

But just look at his picture, I’m sure you will laugh,


With trumpets and drummers, farms, sheep, pigs and cattle,

And he makes the pop-guns and the baby’s tin rattle;

Then he takes the new dolls that have long curly hair,

And, setting the table, seats each in a chair,


And he makes them pretend they are taking their tea –

He’s the jolliest fellow you ever did see,

And can make a queer codger jump out of a box,

Or will make with his knife and new parrot or fox,


Or sit with his spectacles over his nose

And work all day long making little dolls clothes,

Such as dresses and sashes, and hats for the head,

And night-gowns to wear when they jump into bed;


With his dog standing near him, and spy-glass in hand,

He looks for good children all over the land.

His home through the long summer months, you must know,

Is near the North Pole, in the ice and the snow.


And when he sees children at work or at play

The old fellow listens to hear what they say;

And if they are gentle, loving and kind,

He finds where they live, and he makes up his mind


That when Christmas shall come in cold frosty December

To give them a call, he will surely remember;

And he’s sure to have with him a bundle of toys

For the nice little girls and the good little boys.


Oh, if you could see him start out with his team

You would doubt your own eyes, and would think it a dream –

Wrapped up in a bear-skin to keep out the cold,

And his sleigh covered over with jewels and gold,


While his deer from the mountains, all harnessed with care,

Like race-horses prance through the cold winter air.

‘Tis fun just to watch them and hear the bells tinkle,

E’en the stars seem to laugh and they look down and twinkle.


And the hungry raccoon and the fox lean and shy

Give a wink as they hear him go galloping by;

For they know by his looks and the crack of him whip,

And his sleigh-load of toys, he is out for a trip.


Then the fox steals the farmer’s old goose for his dinner,

Which you know is not right – but the fox is a sinner,

And his morals are bad and his habits are loose,

For he’s never so gay as when stealing a goose.


Ah! Here is a picture. Oh, children, just look

At the names of the good little girls in his book,

And a long list of names of the good little boys,

Who never disturb Pa and Ma with their noise.


There is Tommy, who tended the baby with care,

He gets some beautiful books for his share;

And Eliza, just think how bright her eyes will twinkle

When she looks in her stockings and finds Rip Van Winkle.


And Georgie, you know, is the five-year-old dandy –

Wont he strut with his pockets all filled up with candy?

There the old fellow stands with a queer knowing look,

Till he has in his mind every name in the book;


And he would be kind to them all if he could,

But he gives his presents to none but the good.

An army he gives to the boy who is neat,

And never cries when he wants something to eat.


And a farm to the boy who goes smiling to school,

Who keeps out of the mud and obeys every rule;

And all the good girls will get presents, we know,

And the boys who behave will have something to show.


When Christmas Eve comes, into bed you must creep,

And late in the night, when you all are asleep

He is certain to come, so your stockings prepare,

And hang them all close to the chimney with care,


And when in the morning you open your eyes

You will meet, I am sure, a most pleasant surprise;

And you’ll laugh and you’ll giggle and call to Mamma,

And keep up the noise till you waken Papa –


And of this for one morning will be very nice,

But the rest of the year be as quiet as mice.

How funny he looks as he stands on the round

And gathers the toys that hang far from the ground.


He is large round the waist, but what care we for that –

‘Tis the good-natured people who always get far.

The grumbling wolf who lies hidden all day,

And the fox that at midnight goes out for his prey,


And the serpent that hides in the foliage green,

And all of them ugly, ill-tempered and lean;

But Santa Claus comes in his queer looking hat,

And we know he’s good-humored because he is fat.


So when you grow up I would not have you slim,

But large round the waist, and good natured like him.

Just think, if the ladder should happen to break

And he should fall down, what a crash it would make;


And that is not all, for besides all the noise,

It would frighten the dolls and would damage the toys.

I told you his home was up north by the Pole:

In a palace of ice lives this happy old soul,


And the walls are as bright as diamonds that shone

In the cave, when Aladdin went in all alone

To look for the lamp we have often been told

Turned iron and lead into silver and gold.


His bedstead is made of ivory white,

And he sleeps on a mattress of down every night;

For all the day long hew is working his best,

And surely at night the old fellow should rest.


He uses no gas, for the glimmerying light

Of the far polar regions shines all through the night.

Should he need for his breakfast a fish or some veal,

The sea-calves are his, and the whale and the seal.


Where he lives there is always a cool pleasant air,

Last summer, oh! Didn’t we wish we were there?

He’s a funny old chap, and quite shy, it would seem,

For I never but once caught a glimpse of is team;


‘Twas a bright moonlight night, and it stood in full view,

And, so you see, I can describe it to you.

See! Christmas has come, and he toils like a Turk,

And now the old fellow is busy at work –


There are presents for Julia and Bettie and Jack,

And a bundle still left on the old fellow’s back,

And if Evrie behaves well and don’t tear his clothes,

And quits teasing the cat, why he will, I suppose,


Find on Christmas a horse or a gun or a sled,

All ready for use when he gets out of bed.

But see he has worked quite enough for to-night,

He must fill all the stockings before it is light.


With his queer looking team through the air he will go,

And alight n the roof, now all white with the snow,

And into the chimney will dart in a trice,

When all are asleep but the cat and the mice;


Then will fill up the stockings with candy and toys,

And all without making the least bit of noise.

When the labors of Christmas are over he goes

Straight home, and takes a full week of repose;


And then when the holyday frolics are o’er,

He goes to his shop and his labors once more,

And all the long year with his paints and his glue,

He is making new toy, little children, for you.


So now I must leave you – but stand in a row –

Come Julia, and Bettie, and Louie, and Joe,

And Gracie, and Fannie, what are you about –

Get ready, I say, for a jolly good shout.


Now, three cheers for Christmas! Give them, boys, with a will!

Three more for the hero of Santa-Clausville;

When know he is old, and bald headed and fat,

But the cleverest chap in the world for all that,


And jollier codger no man ever saw –

But good-bye, merry Christmas, Hip, Hip, Hip Hurrah!


Graphics from an Early Version


A reprinted copy – with different illustrations – was located in a Christmas store in December, 2000. The publisher was B. Shackman & Co., Inc, 11 East 26th St., New York, New York 10010 (No. 1874S; printed in Hong Kong). This vision of Santa Claus was more modern than Nast’s version was of an obese, fir-clad Santa. The Santa in this version only rarely appears in a fir coat and breeches, as opposed to Nast’s jump-suit. Additionally, this Santa is noticeably slimmer. No artistic credit is given in this version; given the different illustrations – and taking into consideration the later works of Nast – it seems unlikely that Nast was the illustrator of this version. Four illustrations appear in the link below. B. Shackman & Company had no additional information.


Subsequently, another copy of Santa Claus and His Works was located, published the the Merrimack Publishing Corporation, 85 Fifth avenue, New York, New York 10003 (also No. 1874S; printed in Hong King). It was identical to the Shackman version above.


A photo album of graphics from the Shackman Version.



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