The evening comes on. Cards, snap-dragons, quadrilles, country-dances, with a hundred devices to make people eat and drink, send night into morning; and it may be at six or seven on the twenty-sixth of December, our friend CHOKEPEAR, a little mellow, but not at all too mellow for the season, returns to his sheets, and when he rises declares that he has passed a very merry Christmas. If the human animal were all stomach—all one large paunch—we should agree with CHOKEPEAR that he had passed a merry Christmas: but was it the Christmas of a good man or a Christian? Let us see.
We have said all CHOKEPEAR’S daughters dined with him. We forgot: one was absent. Some seven years ago she married a poorer husband, and poverty was his only, but certainly his sufficient fault; and her father vowed that she should never again cross his threshold. The Christian keeps his word. He has been to church to celebrate the event which preached to all men mutual love and mutual forgiveness, and he comes home, and with rancour in his heart—keeps a merry Christmas!
We have briefly touched upon the banquet spread before CHOKEPEAR. There is a poor debtor of his in Horsemonger-lane prison—a debtor to the amount of at least a hundred shillings. Does he dine on Christmas-day? Oh! yes; Mr. CHOKEPEAR will read in The Times of Monday how the under-marshal served to each prisoner a pound of beef, a slice of pudding, and a pint of porter! The man might have spent the day in freedom with his wife and children; but Mr. CHOKEPEAR in his pew thought not of his debtor, and the creditor at least—kept a merry Christmas!
How many shivering wretches pass CHOKEPEAR’S door! How many, with the wintry air biting their naked limbs, and freezing within them the very springs of human hope! In CHOKEPEAR’S house there are, it may be, a dozen coats, nay, a hundred articles of cast-off dress, flung aside for the moth—piles of stuff and flannel, that would at this season wrap the limbs of the wretched in comparative Elysium. Does Mr. CHOKEPEAR, the respectable, the Christian CHOKEPEAR, order these (to him unnecessary) things to be given to the naked? He thinks not of them; for he wears fleecy hosiery next his skin, and being in all things dressed in defiance of the season—keeps a merry Christmas.
Gentle reader, we wish you a merry Christmas; but to be truly, wisely merry, it must not be the Christmas of the CHOKEPEARS. That is the Christmas of the belly: keep you the Christmas of the heart. Give—give.
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