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Monday, December 4, 2017

A Visit from St Nicholas in The National Gazette

Here is an early, anonymous reprinting of Clement C. Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas," published in The National Gazette and Literary Register [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] on December 24, 1827.
On page 2 of the Christmas Eve issue, the editor of The National Gazette explained the decision to publish the Christmas poem on page 1 as follows:
"We do not know whether the verses in our first page be original or not. They possess merit and appropriateness, however; and are consequently entitled to the place which they occupy."  --National Gazette, December 24, 1827
Mon, Dec 24, 1827 – 1 · The National Gazette (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

FOR THE NATIONAL GAZETTE.

Account of a visit from St Nicholas or Sante Claus

Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro' the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hope that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
The children were nested all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plumbs danced in their heads,
And Mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap —
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter;
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below;
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name ;
“Now, Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen,
“On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Dunder and Blixem;
“To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With a sleigh full of toys—and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof,
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof;
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound:
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look'd like a pedlar just opening his pack;
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his lead like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly,
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread!
He spoken ot a word, but went straight to his work,
And fill'd all the stockings, then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team, gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim ere he drove out of sight—
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night."
As in The Casket for February 1826, the National Gazette printed "nested" instead of "nestled" in the fifth line. (Other readings in The Casket are not reproduced here, for instance the reindeer names"Dunter and Blixen." The National Gazette gives "Dunder and Blixem," as found in the earliest printing of the Christmas poem in the Troy Sentinel on December 23, 1823.) Some newspapers, for example the Poughkeepsie Journal on January 16, 1828, explicitly credited "The National Gazette" when reprinting the 1827 version transcribed above.

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