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pole! Round to the quaint cadence of that primeral musio-hand in hand with uncouth caper and black-letter joke. Jump hobby horse !-roll dragon! Jester-varlet as thou art-joke thy jokes; it is Summer's Saturnalia—the feast of the greenwood tree.
“Now creatures all are merrie minded." Chant as ye dance some quaint old madrigal : make the bright air ring with the traditional tra-la-la of the roaring burden. Nature is singing around you. Join your voices in one flood of joyous revelry to those of
“Shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals." It is the time for jest and quip and crank. The cottage and the castle confess its influence. Hark! mingling in the rustic revelry, the uncouth babble of the village swain, with the courtly words the wire-drawn phraseology of a mimic Arcadia, which the Cavalier-all forms and pedantic state-addresses in measured accents to the high-born dame, moving floatingly along the dance with high-heeled shoe and rustling fardingale !
Such was Mid-day in the times gone by. It gradually fell away from its quaint glory. We got more business like and less pleasure-seeking. We became, somehow, ashamed of dancing in the open air. To the radiance of the sun we preferred the glimmer of melting tallow. The bounding freshness of the Elizabethan times—when European mind, shaking off a mighty incubus, sent out its Shakspeares and its Spencers to show how much of God there was in man--drooped and died for a time under the sad-coloured vestments of the Puritan. Another change came on. Praise-God-Barebones vanished. The snuffling twang of his tabernacle was silent ; but great stern minds vanished with the men, who sung psalms to celebrate the downfal of the Cavaliers. Then our country was ruled in the spirit throned amid the gilded salons and marble terraces of Versailles. Revelry became debauch-love-making, intrigue. The rule of conduct was the law of ceremony. Heart-fresh impulse was gone. The court shone like the moon—without heat. Its withering influence fell upon the people. The blithe Welch milkmaid became the jaded. mistress of the king. Another change. In prim sobriety of soul, a Dutchman built his bricken palace. The land was grave and plodding. Then Queen Anne's reign came-a time of tasteless pedantry-of perriwigs, hoops and clouded canes—and those days
gradually merged through a shifting, changing century into those in the memory of our own generation, men becoming less formal but more industrious-cities springing up from villages ; huge trading ports from fishing hamlets ; the whole land becoming one hive of busy, swarming industry.
And from all those revolutions our holiday customs suffered. The Puritans held them to be abominations before the Lord. The Second Charles's reign passed amid the mummery of the court and the murmurings of the people. May-day was not more favoured by the House of Orange. Pope tells us what happened
6 Where the tall Maypole once o'erlooked the Strand,
A church collects the saints of Drury-lane." And after the “ little crooked thing which asks a question " had passed away from time and Twickenham, we became so busy—50 monstrously active in spinning, hammering, weaving, and at last fighting, that we proclaimed the undivided reign of Industry, and banished holidays as a species of vagrants-interlopers who could give no good account of themselves—fellows quite unsuited to come between the wind and our respectability. True, we kept one or two as samples of the banished race; but even they were not suffered to exist, until by decking them with the outward badges rather than inspiring them with the subtle spirit of religion, we had taken bond-so far as we could—that they should not, in the ordinary sense of the term, be days of amusement; that is to say, that people should not dance, or hear cheerful music, or witness lively plays then--although, of course, they might get drunk ad
Such is nearly our condition at present. We have nominal Easter and Whitsun holidays, but they are very partial-very imperfect. We would have something like National Jubilees. The French have-not, it is true, a very rational one-in Carnival time, when the whole population get frantic with pleasurable excitement in that crescendo of rejoicings, which has its final crash on Mardi gras. The advent of summer time, we contend, naturally inspires men with pleasurable sensations. Why not, then, devote something like a week to universal relaxation to rational holiday keeping ? No use in re-erecting the fallen May-poles no use in summoning back the departed race of morris-dancers-no use in extending the sooty revelry of Jack-in-the-Green, and attempting
to persuade honest citizens to officiate as “ My Lords ;" or praying boarding-school misses to carry round the copper begging ladles. No all those means of enjoyment have faded with another age. A widely different class of amusements would we wish to see provide a fitting “ May-day for the people."
Holiday-keeping and locomotion are beginning to be almost inseparable ideas. During Easter-tide we have a partial immigration of the lusty men of the fields into the town, and a partial emigration of the pale faces of the towns into the country. The change does good to either. Rest indeed, properly understood, means change of occupation. When we talk of a “day of rest” we should not attempt to realise it in a day of inaction. Doing nothing is more wearisome than doing anything, and assuredly we would rather pass a day at stone-breaking than one stretched supine upon a sofa, forbidden even to twiddle our thumbs. Rest, we repeat, means change. A tailor rests himself by standing. The upright is not a natural posture of repose, but it becomes so because it is the opposite of that required by a particular labour. By the same rule the day of rest to a population cramped in workshops and crowded chambers ought to be a day of healthful exer. cise in the open air. Why should the rest-day of the week be the most dismal day of the week? Assuredly it was intended to be the most lively. The Holy Days of our ancestors were amusement days.
The word has come down to us, but little of the thing--or perhaps we separate the one from the other. Our fathers, guided by the consummate policy of the old faith, blended religion with amusement. The same word conveyed both ideas. The day devoted to innocent pleasure they accounted holy, for they believed
and we think they were right—that whatever tends to invigorate man's spirit--refresh his soul-infuse new strength into his limbs, and new healthfulness into his body, had a necessary effect in elevating and making more pure his whole being, in advancing it a step higher-a step nearer to the great perfection from whence it came. We should like to see this doctrine more received and more acted upon than it is at present. We should like-all reverently be it said to see harmless amusement become part and parcel of religious duty. We would shock no man's conscientious feelings. We have even a sort of respect for honest prejudice when it is not too lightly taken up or too blindly and obstinately adhered to; but we cannot NO. XVII.- VOL. III.
help saying that we believe it would be for the lasting and ima mense benefit of England were every facility afforded for making Sundays more of holidays in the old sense, but not in the new application of that sense, than they are. We should love to see our noble river and the green haunts round London crowded every seventh day by the dingy denizens of swarming city lanes. Leave the smoke for a few hours a week. Leave the stifling air of fusty, darkened churches for a summer's Sunday in the fields ; let your children see the sun without gazing at it through the soot-fog ; let them hear other birds sing than the dingy captives of the cage. Do this-look on nature-learn to love her-learn to appreciate her, and the lesson she may convey. The thoughts she may inspire will be those which ought to be taught and learned upon-in the liberal sense of the word-a holiday.
But we are losing sight of May-time of that period when, obeying the secret impulses of our nature, we would establish a general National Jubilee-a great and refreshing Sunday for enervating labour. We have said that locomotion is become inseparable from our ideas of holiday keeping. This we note as a good and promising sign. Intersected as our land is with railways-covered as our seas are with steamers—we should wish to see our May festival become a grand and instructive pilgrimage time. It is good for man to run among his fellows--to see distant spots to become acquainted with new and untrodden localities. Travel is a glorious pill for purging nonsense. The lion of the country coterie has the conceit taken out of him by London's cold shoulder. The prejudice-stuffed John Bull, who hates the French for eating frogs and wearing wooden shoes, very soon becomes ashamed of his cherished opinions, if he airs them on the other side of the water. The townsman has much to learn from the countryman--the countryman from the townsman. Let them mingle as often as may be. Whisk your agricultural population amid the chimneys of the regions of iron and cotton. Bring the sooty men of the forge, and the pale men of the loom, amid ploughs and harrows. The change will do both good-will inspire both with new ideas--will kill old prejudices will make people think less of themselves and more of their neighbours. We have had too much class warfare lately. The country has been too long and too fiercely set against the town. Now that a peace seems likely to be at hand, we would cement the alliance with personal intercourse. We should like to see the man of Lancashire shake
hands with the man of Somersetshire. We would have the ruddy tenant of 500 arable acres conducting the weaver- freed for a space from the roar of the engine and the clatter of the powerloom-around the rustic homestead ; and again, it would as much delight us to see a friendly lex talionis practised by the operative of the north in conducting, in his turn, his country acquaintance from engine to furnace-from mill to Mechanics’ Institute. Now, this is much more than mere dreaming. It would have been but idle imaginings were it not for steam ; but, thank Heaven, we now wield a power which twenty years ago we wot not of-a power which is working a greater revolution than ever was rung in by clang of tocsin, or baptized in the blood of kings.
Let May time be celebrated then, not by the monster devices of yore, but by the monster trains of the present day. Our ancestors danced round a pole-let our holiday movements run in a more extended circle. Railway companies can do much in this way ; and if employers of labour unite with the rulers of the rails, cheap, very cheap trips might every summer be instituted which would reveal to millions new beauties of creation-open to them fresh fountains of thought-fresh means of enjoyment. We would in particular wish to link, by these holiday bands, great towns with rural and manufacturing districts, and inland counties with the sea. We would go further--we would not stop at the coast. We have just been reading in the morning journals of a new line of steamers to trip it over the Channel waves in an hour and twenty minutes from Dover to Calais, and in a little more than four hours from Dover to Ostend. Why then should we stop our cheap trips at the white cliffs? 'Tis but a hop, skip, and a jump to the Falaises of France, and the long sea dykes and level cornfields of Flanders. In a year or two the former country will be intersected by railroads--the glorious old towns of the latter are already knit by their iron bands. Well, then, gentlemen Directors of the Great Northern Line of France and its many branches -Directors of the Flemish and the English railways, why not come to some amicable arrangement and concert cheap trips in communication with each other? Easter is a festival in all three countries :- why not teach the people of either the sweets and advantages of foreign travel ? Why not dispatch the Londoner, and for that matter the men of Lancashire and York, across the water to orchards of La belle Normandie, and thence away by Amiens and Lisle, or Valenciennes, down into the historic “ Low