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So, of all the growth by the King's highway
I love that plant the best;
'Tis a bower for the birds upon Christinas Day,
That bush with the bleeding breast;
O! the holly with her drops of blood for me,
For that is our sweet Aunt Mary's Tree.


FOR many years I have been accustomed
to eat my Christmas dinner in a white jacket
and a loose shirt collar, the doors and windows
thrown wide open, admitting with the warm
and sluggish breeze the scent of summer
flowers and newly made hay. A much prized
lump of ice cooling my tepid lemonade, has
long been to me the only sign of frost—  the sole
memento of old-country Christmas weather.
In Tasmania, a dessert of juicy English
cherries, ripe jolly-looking gooseberries, ruddy
bunches of newly-gathered currants, and
delicious strawberries, formed a repast far more
in keeping with the weather, than the dinner
of roast beef and hot plum-pudding which, in
obedience to the good old custom, we vainly
strove to swallow. But still, in Australia, as
in every English colony whatever be its latitude,
Christmas retains its old associations,
and loved usages; and the Yule log, and midnight
waits, the rich spice cake and mellow
cheese, recall to the long absent settler many
a happy Christmas of his boyhood. In. the
bunch of mistletoe that hangs above his
head (for Australia has her mistletoe), the
newly landed emigrant sees the bright eyes
and sunny smiles of that fair cousin who was
his partner all last Christmas eve; and in
whose company he was continually losing himself
among the dancers, and as often turning
up beneath the glistening bough that hung in
the ball-room kitchen of the old house
at home.

But, although thus inured to hot Decembers
and no longer wondering to meet old Christmas
dressed in flowers instead of holly, and
adding to his English winter cheer the fruits
of summer; yet, in some southern countries,
I have seen him so disguised as scarcely to
admit of recognition: and in none, perhaps,
does he wear a stranger garb, than in the
half Indian and half Spanish cities of the
South American republics. Of these cities
not one presents so singular and so interesting
an aspect as Lima, the capital of Peru. Its
Moorish architecture, ita magnificent religious
festivals; its many-coloured population;
its picturesque costumes; and its strange
mixture of the customs of old Spain with those
of the ancient empire of the Incas; combine
to form a picture that offers to the traveller
many rare attractions.

On Christmas Eve—  noche buena, the good
night, as the Spaniards call itthe whole
city is alive with preparations for the
approaching festivity. Droves of asses crowd
the streets, laden with fruit, liquors, and
merchandise; ugly calezas, ornamented with
gaudy paper instead of paint, rattle over the
rough pavement; and Indians with ice pails
on their heads, elbow through the crowd,
crying in musical tones helado! helado!

Suddenly the great bell of the cathedral, witli
three slow and heavy strokes, calls to oraciones
or evening prayers. The effect is magical.
The life of the city is instantly suspended.
Every foot is arrested; every tongue is silent,
and the whole population kneel or bow in
whispered prayer. With the last stroke of
the bell the silence is broken; each individual
turning to his neighbour wishes him "good
night," and the busy stream flows on all the
more rapidly for the transient interruption.
This scene is enacted in the streets of Lima
every evening in the year; but on Christmas
Eve it is more especially the signal for the
cessation of toil, and the commencement of
the merry festival.

The Alemadas or public walks outside the
walls are, on Christmas Eve, crowded with
pleasure seekers; and the great square is filled
by a motley throng, whose faces present
every shade of human colour, from the
aristocratic white and slender figure of the pure
Spanish Creole through fifty crosses and
gradations, to the jetty black and robust
frame of the equally pure negro; each
deepening of the tint marking a new and more
degraded race, distinguished by a different
name, and scornfully looked down on by the
lighter-hued mulatto or mestizo, in whose
veins a drop of pure white blood has mingled
with the darker stream. Numerous ice
stalls surrounded with chairs and benches,
are scattered over the square, and drive a
busy trade; for, to the Limeña ice is a necessary
of life, and never is it more welcome than
during the sultry Christmas tide. As the
night darkens the crowd increases, and
presently is heard above the hum of voices the
wild chanting of the Peruvian waits: bands
of negroes dressed in flowing robes of red; with
thin, black faces, sometimes disguised by ugly
and still blacker masks, and carrying in their
hands small painted gourds or calabashes
filled with pebbles. To the monotonous
music of the guitar and clattering castanets,
they sing strange guttural songs, and dance
wild and uncouth measures, rattling the
pebbles in their gourds to mark the time:
and, seen by the flickering lamplight, they
bear to us a greater likeness to a mosque of
devils than to English waits.

After the negroes, come groups of Indian
women, loosely dressedtheir long black
hair, unbound, falling round themcarrying
long slender wands fluttering with ribbons.
In the low soft tones peculiar to their race
they sing sweet melodies, and move in circles
performing the most graceful dances, waving
their light wands in time to the music of a
flute and harp.

As we wander through the streets we find
the doors all open, and hear music in every
house, catching sometimes a glimpse of the

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