Friday, November 24, 2023

Old Santeclaus

 

In A Visit From St. Nicholas, best known as " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas," Clement C. Moore borrowed the reindeer and other details from the illustrated Christmas poem in The Children's Friend Number III, published in New York in 1821 by William B. Gilley. 

Old SANTECLAUS with much delight
His reindeer drives this frosty night,
O'er chimney-tops, and tracks of snow,
To bring his yearly gifts to you.

The steady friend of virtuous youth,
The friend of duty, and of truth,
Each Christmas eve he joys to come
Where love and peace have made their home.
Through many houses he has been,
And various beds and stockings seen;
Some, white as snow, and neatly mended,
Others, that seem'd for pigs intended. 
To some I gave a pretty doll,
To some a peg-top, or a ball;
No crackers, cannons, squibs, or rockets,
To blow their eyes up, or their pockets.

Where e’er I found good girls or boys,
That hated quarrels, strife and noise,
I left an apple, or a tart,
Or wooden gun, or painted cart. 

No drums to stun their Mother’s ear,
Nor swords to make their sisters fear;
But pretty books to store their mind
With knowledge of each various kind.
But where I found the children naughty,
In manners rude, in temper haughty,
Thankless to parents, liars, swearers,
Boxers, or cheats, or base tale-bearers, 
I left a long, black, birchen rod,
Such as the dread command of GOD
Directs a Parent’s hand to use
When virtue’s path his sons refuse.

The American Antiquarian Society and Yale University Library /  Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library have beautiful, very rare copies. Thankfully great digital images from both are accessible online:

AAS https://gigi.mwa.org/imagearchive/filename/249665_ 

YALE https://collections.library.yale.edu/catalog/2014510 


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