John Hookham Frere

(21 May 1769 – 7 January 1846 / London, England)

Christmas At The Round Table


The great King Arthur made a royal feast,
And held his Royal Christmas at Carlisle,
And thither came the vassals, most and least,
From every corner of the British Isle;
And all were entertained, both man and beast,
According to their rank, in proper style;
The steeds were fed and littered in the stable,
The ladies and the knights sat down to table.

The bill of fare (as you may well suppose)
Was suited to those plentiful old times,
Before our modern luxuries arose,
With truffles, and ragouts, and various crimes;
And, therefore, from the original in prose
I shall arrange the catalogue in rhymes:
They served up salmon, venison and wild boars
By hundreds, and by dozens, and by scores.

Hogsheads of honey, kilderkins of mustard,
Muttons, and fatted beeves, and bacon swine;
Herons and bitterns, peacocks, swan, and bustard,
Teal, mallard, pigeons, widgeons, and, in fine.
Plum-puddings, pancakes, apple-pies, and custard,
And therewithal they drank good Gascon wine,
With mead, and ale, and cider of our own;
For porter, punch, and negus were not known.

All sorts of people there were seen together,
All sorts of characters, all sorts of dresses;
The fool with fox's tail and peacock feather,
Pilgrims, and penitents, and grave burgesses;
The country people with their coats of leather,
Vintners and victuallers with cans and messes,
Grooms, archers, varlets, falconers, and yeomen,
Damsels, and waiting-maids, and waiting-women.

Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

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