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the Romans, afterwards borrowed their Pentathlum, which was composed of running, wrestling, leaping, throwing and boxing, though the prizes were generally nothing but a crown of cypress or parsley, hats not being in fashion in those days: that there is an old statute which obliges every man in England, having such an estate, to keep and exercise the long bow; by which means our ancestors excelled all other nations in the use of that weapon; and we had all the real advantages without the inconvenience of a standing army; and that I once met with a book of projects, in which the author, considering to what noble ends that spirit of emulation, which remarkably shows itself among our common people in these wakes, might be directed, proposes, that for the improvement of all our handicraft trades, there should be annual prizes set up for such persons as were most excellent in their several arts. But laying aside all these political considerations, which might tempt me to pass the limits of my paper, I confess the greatest benefit and convenience that I can observe in these country festivals, is the bringing young people together, and giving them an opportunity of showing themselves in the most advantageous light. A country fellow that throws his rival upon his back, has generally as good success with their rommon mistress; as nothing is more usual than for nimble-footed wench to get a husband at the san e time she wins a smock. Love and marriages are the natural effects of these anniversary assemblies. I must therefore very much approve the method by which my correspondent tells me each sex endeavours to recommend itself to the other, since
nothing seems more likely to promise a healthy offspring or a happy cohabitation. And I believe I may assure my country friend, that there has been many a court lady who would be contented to exchange her crazy young husband for Tom Short, and several men of quality who would have parted with a tender yoke-fellow for Black Kate.
I am the more pleased with having love made the principal end and design of these meetings, as it seems to be most agreeable to the intent for which they were at first instituted, as we are informed by the learned Dr. Kennet, with whose words I shall conclude my present paper.
• These wakes, says he, were in imitation of the ancient ayardi, or love-feasts, and were first established in England by Pope Gregory the Great, who, in an epistle to Melitus the Abbot, gave order that they should be kept in shades or arbories made up with the branches and boughs of trees round the church.'
He adds, that this laudable custom of wakes prevailed for many ages, until the nice puritans began to exclaim against it as a remnant of popery; and by degrees the precise humour grew so popular, that at an Exeter assizes the lord chief baron Walter made an order for the suppression of all wakes: but on bishop Laud's complaining of this innovating humour, the king commanded the order to be reversed.'
END OF VOL. III.
sketches of the Lives of the Authors,
IN TWELVE VOLUMES.
No. 162. WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 5, 1711.
- Servctur ad imum,
NOTHING that is not a real crime makes a man appear so contemptible and little in the eyes of the world as inconsistency, especially when it regards religion or party. In either of these cases, though a man perhaps does but his duty in changing his side, he not only makes himself hated by those he left, but is seldom heartily esteemed by those he comes over to.
In these great articles of life, therefore, a man's conviction ought to be very strong, and if possible so well timed, that worldly advantages may seem to have no share in it, or mankind will be ill-natured enough to think he does not change sides out of principle, but either out of levity of temper or prospects of interest. Converts and renegadoes of all kinds should take particular care to let the world see they act upon honourable motives, for whatever approbations they may receive from themselves, and applauses from those they converse with, they may be very well