Sunday, December 1, 2019

Genius of Liberty, 1826 reprinting of A Visit from St Nicholas from the Charleston Mercury

In brackets, The Genius of Liberty (Leesburg, Virginia) acknowledges "the Charleston Mercury" as its source for the holiday piece titled, as in the Charleston, South Carolina Mercury of December 25, 1825, "Account of a visit from St. Nicholas, or Sante Claus." The Genius of Liberty was then owned by Brook Watson Sower (1784-1864). The borrowed holiday verses appear below an original paragraph of introduction (by Sower?) explaining the Christmas Eve custom of hanging up stockings for Santa or "Sante Claus" to fill overnight "with nuts, raisins, apples, cakes, toys, &c. &c."

The text of "A Visit from St.Nicholas" is transcribed below from the Leesburg VA Genius of Liberty, December 26, 1826. Also reprinted there on December 26, 1835, with minor changes in punctuation. Like the Charleston Mercury, both versions print "nested" for "nestled" in the fifth line. However, where the earliest Charleston Mercury versions in 1824 and 1825 read "Dunder and Blixem," following the first printing of the Christmas poem in the Troy Sentinel, Sower's Genius of Liberty has "Dunder and Blixen." Images of both the 1826 and 1835 printings of "A Visit from St. Nicholas" in the Genius of Liberty are accessible online via Virginia Chronicle: Digital Newspaper Archive.

Genius of Liberty (Leesburg, VA) December 26, 1826
via Virginia Chronicle


As these are holiday times, the following piece is quite appropriate to the season. But as many readers may not be acquainted with the attributes and province of ST NICHOLAS, or SANTE CLAUS, it may not be amiss to remark, that in some families, in different parts of the country, it is customary on the eve before Christmas, for the children, on retiring to bed, to hang up their stockings round and about the chimney, and it is the province of SANTE CLAUS, on such occasions, to fill them before morning, with nuts, raisins, apples, cakes, toys, &c. &c. We know not whence the custom is derived, farther than that the saint, or patron deity, is of German extraction, and generally, we believe, dispenses his favours accordingly -- In the morning of life, when the gilded visions of childhood enchained the affections, we remember to have hailed the approach of this festive season, as well in anticipation of the munificence of SANTE CLAUS, as of other festivities. That period, though long since past, is still grateful to the recollection; and, if ever deception deserved the appellation of pious fraud, it would seem to be when ministering to the sum of infantine happiness.-- [Gen. Lib. 
 [From the Charleston Mercury]
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 plums 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 rein-deer,
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 call’d them by name;
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer! and Vixen.
“On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Dunder and Blixen;
“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 the 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 tarnished 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 head 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 laughed 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 spoke not 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."

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