Saturday, December 13, 2014

"A Christmas Ride" by Mrs. Le Grand Benedict (1870)

A Christmas Ride.


Oh, children, I've something to tell you

        About what has happened to me,

And I wish it had only been managed

        That you had been with me to see.

It was just on the night before Christmas,

        The streets were all carpeted white,

The man in the moon sat there laughing,

        And hurridly shaking down light.

Our stockings were hung in the chimney,

        So white and so pretty and neat,

One big one, one smaller, one wee one,

        All lank from the tops to the feet.

And mamma had pleasantly told us

        To hurry ourselves into bed,

But that she must sit up until midnight

        To hear what old Santa Claus said.

'Twas a very long while after this time,

        While Johnny and Lou were asleep,

I was sure that I heard a strange talking,

        And I went to the doorway to peep.

And whom should I see but St. Santa,

        A-laughing and muttering low,

And I knew by the lumps in the stockings,

        That he was just ready to go.

So I crept soft and still close beside him,

        "Well, well, well, little one," so he said,

"Come, I think that you'll have to go with me,

        Or you'll tell all my secrets in bed."

Oh, wasn't I terribly frightened

        When he put his strong arm round my waist,

And bounded up the dark, sooty chimney

        With me folded close to his breast!

And there on the roof were the reindeer

        And the sleigh about which I'd been told;

Down he sat me in that, in my night gown,

        And I never once thought of the cold.

The cushions were snow and the lap-robes,

        Though as warm as an eider-down quilt,

And the sleigh and the reins and the trappings,

        Were a-blaze with bright scarlet and gilt.

The little sleigh-bells commenced tinkling

        When merry old Santa sat down;

He laughed at and petted and cheered me

        While we drove on our trip about town.

And when to the edge of the house-top

        We came along frightfully near,

Old Santa chirped up to the reindeer,

        And said I had nothing to fear;

The fleet-footed, dear little creatures

        Gave a toss to their heads and a jump,

And down we came safely and soundly

        On the opposite side, with a bump.

Old Santa had oceans of business

        To tend to between this and light,

And mountains of toys to distribute

        To many good children that night.

And when he went down in the chimneys,

        He carried me with him to see,

And once he went in a church window

        And trimmed up a green Christmas tree.

And all of the while on our journey

        The angels sang time and again,

"Give glory to God up in Heaven,

        On earth peace and good will unto men."

And once in a while poor old Santa

        Would wipe a great tear from his eye;

And I said, "Why, I think it is funny

        That Santa Claus ever should cry!"

He answered, "My dear little daughter,

        There are many good children who live

To whom,—why, you'll understand later,—

        I am never permitted to give.

Do you think you can spare, on to-morrow,

        A book, or a sweetmeat, or toy,

From out of your large stock of treasures,

        To give some poor little one joy?"

Sometimes we would come to a house-roof

        Where a wind from the fireplace would cry,

"Bad boys, naughty girls; do not come here!"

        And Santa would heave a deep sigh.

And when all the cows, and the horses,

        And trumpets, and dollies, and skates,

Were safe in the stockings of Jimmies,

        And Lizzies, and Tommis, and Kates,

The man in the moon looked quite sleepy,

        And so did the stars in the sky,

And so did the reindeer and Santa,

        And really, I think, so did I.

The next thing I knew it was daylight,

        And Johnny and baby were round;

They yelled in my ears "Merry Christmas

        See what in our stockings we've found!"

Every word I have said is true gospel,

        Though papa and mamma do smile,

They say that they think I've been dreaming,

        But I know more than that all the while.

Troy Times. January 1, 1870: 4.

The author of the poem might have been Emma Frances Gardner, born in Troy, who married Le Grand Benedict in 1863. They lived in Lansingburgh and later moved to Brooklyn.

One of several different origin stories for the dish Eggs Benedict involves Mr. and Mrs. Le Grand Benedict:

"To the Editor: I am writing to correct the statement by Edward P. Montgomery concerning the origin of Eggs Benedict, as reported recently by Craig Claiborne. The true story, well known to the relations of Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, of whom I am one, is as follows. Mr. and Mrs. Benedict, when they lived in New York around the turn of the century, lunched every Saturday at Delmonico's. One day Mrs. Benedict said to the maitre d'hotel, 'Haven't you anything new or different to suggest?' On his reply that he would like to hear something new from her, she suggested poached eggs on toasted English muffins with a thin slice of ham, hollandaise sauce and a truffle on top. This recipe has gone around the world. Commodore E. C. Benedict, who was given the credit, was a cousin and undoubtedly enjoyed these eggs, but it would have been unlike him to have called them his inventions. The name is occasionally given, erroneously, as 'Eggs Benedictine.'--Mabel C. Butler, Vineyard Haven, Mass."

---Letters to the Editor, New York Times, November 26, 1967 (p. SM 40)

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