Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Verses for the Printer's 18th century poem of a Colonial Christmas

"The Mistletoe Bough" by Francis Wheatley, 1790
This week I beg my Reader's pardon and indulgence as I celebrate this busy and beloved Christmas week, with little time to research and write, with a poem I've just discovered which gives an amusing look and first person insight into 18th century American Christmas traditions. It was written in the late 1700's by St. George Tucker of Williamsburg, Virginia. The term "Printer's Devil" refers to a printer's apprentice, often the youngest, who spent much of his time stained with black ink. As my husband was a printer's apprentice in his younger days, this poem is especially dear to me. 

 "Christmas Verses for the Printer's Devil"
                   by St. George Tucker
Now the season for mirth and good eating advances,
Plays, oysters and sheldrakes, balls, mince pies and dances;
Fat pullets, fat turkeys, and fat geese to feed on,
Fat mutton and beef; more by half than you've need on;
Fat pigs and fat hogs, fat cooks and fat venison,
Fat aldermen ready the haunch to lay hands on;
Fat wives and fat daughters, fat husbands and sons,
Fat doctors and parsons, fat lawyers and duns;
What a dancing and fiddling, and gobbling and grunting,
As if Nimrod himself had just come in from hunting!
These all are your comforts—while mine are so small,
I may truly be said to have nothing at all.
I'm a Devil you know, and can't live without fire,
From your doors I can see it, but I dare not come nigher;
Now if you refuse me some wood, or some coal,
I must e'en go and warm, in old Beelzebub's hole;
Next, tho' I'm a devil, I drink and I eat,
Therefore stand in need of some rum, wine and meat;
Some clothes too I want—for I'm blacker than soot,
And a hat, and some shoes, for my horns and my foot;
To supply all these wants, pray good people be civil
And give a few pence to a poor printer's devil.
Have a good week, dear Reader. Thanks for stopping by...Y'all come back now...
and a Merry Christmas to one and all!


No comments: