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like a shepherd and shepherdess, with pipe and crook, acting in an Arcadian pastoral, a sight once not unfrequent on a London holiday.
That the Festival of May might often have led to excesses is very probable, and thus the anger of some puritanical writers has condemned it altogether.* If it were viewed as a religious rite, and made use of for cherishing a blind superstition, such a censure might be just. Laying this aside, the merriment of villages and country people on May-day, as it was formerly kept, was far better than pot-house feasts and drunken revelling, which are the marks of the festivals observed in the present day. The fair sex also then participated and heightened the simple pleasures of the time. What can be a more harmless amusement than greeting the most delicious of seasons with dance and music?
The virtuous and learned author of " The Minstrel” expresses a wish that the sports common in the month of May should be celebrated around his grave.
thither let the village swain repair;
And celebrate the merry morn of May. When nature smiles to greet her worshippers, how graceless to withhold our hearts from sharing the common happiness! He who formed us with the capacity for relishing natural beauty, is not illpleased that we should express our joy and gratitude by innocent mirthfulness—that “we” should “frolic while 'tis May." One instance of this feeling, in a revival of the festival of May-day, shall conclude this article.
The writer was travelling, on foot, in Warwickshire, on a delicious old May-day, two or three years ago, and being about four miles from the county town, took a path on the right-hand side of the road, invited by a better prospect of the country beyond. At a short distance he entered a church-yard, where reposed the remains of many of the humble in life, but apparently few of those who even in death display, by the "frail memorials” erected over their ashes, the vanity
* In the Anatomie of Abuses, printed in 1595, is the following account of May. keeping:-“Every parish, town, or village, assemble themselves, both men, women and children: and either altogether, or dividing themselves into companies, they go some to the woods and groves, some to the hills and mountains, some to one place and some to another, where they spend all the night in pleasant pastimes, and in the morning they return, bringing with them birch boughs and branches of trees to deck their assemblies withal. But their chiefest jewel they bring from thence is the Maie-pole, which they bring with great veneration, as thus—they have twentie or fourtie yoake of oxen, every ox having a sweet nosegaie of flowers tied to the tip of his hornes, and those oxen drewe home the May-poale, their stinking idol rather, which they covered all over with flowers and herbs, bound round with strings from the top to the bottome, and sometimes it was painted with variable colours, having two or three hundred men, women, and children, following it with great devotion. And thus equipped, it was reared, with handkerchiefs and Aaggy streaming on the top: they strawe the ground round about it, they bind green boughs about it, they set up summer halles, bowers, and arbours, hard by it, and then they fall to banquetting and feasting, to leaping and dancing about it, as the heathen people did at the dedication of their idols. I have heard it credibly reported, that of fourscore or an hundred maidens that have gone forth to the woods in the evening, not above one-third have returned home again as they went.”
of human pretensions. A small ancient Gothic church stood in the midst of the graves, having a tower of little elevation at the west end, and near it on each side grew yew trees, the children of many a century's growth, fast hastening to decay. Unclipped they spread their funereal shade wide over the burial mounds beneath them. The site of the church was on the flat summit of an eminence, which latter sloped towards the east somewhat steeply. The church-yard commanded a noble and very extensive prospect. On the eastern side were seen the feudal turrets of Warwick Castle rising over the deep green foliage beneath them; and still farther beyond lay an extensive and rich country that melted far away into the blue distance. In the southeast or southerly point of the horizon, the Edge hills were distinguished, so renowned in the civil wars; and on the north, distant a very few miles, arose the grey ruins of Kenilworth Castle-melancholy remnants of departed magnificence. The intervening space was filled with fine meadow land, the turf of which was scarcely visible for the thickly growing trees that marked the different boundaries. Yet farther than Kenilworth, and in nearly the same direction, the spires and towers of Coventry presented themselves, peering above the dark forest that seemed to fill up the whole interval between. From the western end of the church, the view was confined, and presented a meadow crossed by a broad carriage path which led to a few houses on the village green, close by the road side. The church appeared to be carefully kept in repair"; but there was nothing to induce a belief that the. church-wardens were either masons or carpenters by profession, because all seemed to be done with consistency, and there was no "beautifying," to adopt a parish phrase. Painted glass of great elegance had been introduced into the narrow windows, and cast “a dim religious light" on the simple interior of the edifice; the coloured rays from which alone attracted the eye to any thing like ornament.
The largest of these designs represented the crucifixion, and the prevailing colour being a deep blue, the effect was peculiarly striking. These windows had been made and placed there at the sole expense of the , minister, who must have taken no little pride in thus adorning the humble scene of his labours : for humble it was, compared to the majority of churches, or to the pompous cathedrals of our island. It was truly the church of the village minister; yet fervent aspirations had been offered up there, and by hearts as pure as in places of greater ecclesiastical note, where often
men display to congregations wide
Devotion's every grace except the heart. In the centre of the irregularly-shaped village-green there were several trees surrounded by groups of persons of both sexes, many of whom appeared to belong to the genteeler circles of society, and a number of private carriages were drawn up in a line near, the horses being taken out. A May-pole, decorated with sumptuous garlands of natural and artificial flowers, the gifts of the fair parishioners, stood not far from the road side ; and a band of rustic music was stationed at a place which was enclosed with ropes for dancing, close to the foot of the May-pole. On the other side of the road, and a hundred yards farther on, was a plain but comfortable brick dwelling, in a garden, with the usual appendages of out-houses on the right-hand side. SeVol. III, No. 17.-1822.
veral well-dressed persons were loitering about its front in conversation, apparently waiting for the festive scene to commence. In a few minutes a venerable son of the church, in a wig of no common dimensions, and a clerical cocked hat, came out of the house. It was the minister. In stature he was short and stoutly made, his hands were crossed behind his back, unless when he presented them to receive the hearty shake of a well known bystander. His large bushy eyebrows completely shaded eyes showing considerable liveliness and fire; and though they evidently belonged to a septuagenary, he was not one whom the usual feebleness of body, at that era of life, had yet overtaken. The furrows of time on his face were not deeply indented; indeed his cheeks were rather smooth and full than wrinkled. He conversed with those around him smilingly, and the character of his countenance was then remarkably attractive. There was a strong cast of benevolence in his physiognomy even when it approached to sternness, which it was capable of putting on in a moment of indignation to the utmost degree of severity. His features proved the fallacy of Lavater's system, for they did not show any thing remarkably intellectual, and yet few men were possessed of stronger intellect. By those of the parish around he appeared to be much beloved, and he moved towards the green with a firm step, inquiring of one individual the health of his family, and even of his domestics, with an interest that showed he was truly sincere about their welfare. On arriving there he ordered the music to strike up, and the dancing to begin. All mingled in the harmless and graceful amusement without regarding those distinctions in life, which are cominonly witnessed on similar occasions. The daughter of the humble farmer was the partner of the son of the patrician; every individual present seemed to devote himself, for a season, to cheerful gaiety. It was one of those scenes which are so very rare in this land of ostentation, when the vulgar distinctions of wealth are forgotten, and human beings seem to acknowledge that they are all children of the same common parent. Such occasional interminglings of classes in the country are not without their uses, and the donor of the féte was no doubt well aware of this: two young ladies, who, as is commonly the case in similar circumstances, had very little reason to "lift high the head” beyond their fellows, having come under bis marked displeasure for exhibiting symptoms of their ill-breeding from self-consequence. After dancing an hour or two in the open air, the assemblage adjourned to different places for refreshment. Fifty of the company dined in the library, at the parsonage-house. After dinner dancing was resumed, at intervals, until nine o'clock, when it çeased entirely, to commence again on the accustomed anniversary, in the succeeding year.
This revival of May-day keeping, divested, by the spirit of the times, of all superstitious taint, deserves general imitation, if it be only to bring together, occasionally, the inhabitants of the same district belonging to different classes. Abroad such scenes are common throughout the year: here it would require a local e ample among the higher orders to establish something similar in our villages, once or twice in the same space of time, which might be more distinguished by the society, and by sobriety and correctness of manners, than noisy fairs and vicious wakes. Different ranks would then meet, and without becoming too familiar, know each other's faces, and be closer linked together in the great chain of civil society. No opportunity could be more favourable for this communion of different ranks, which was once such a characteristic of our forefathers, than the genial first of May—a communion which has now nearly faded away before the aristocracy of wealth, and left nothing in its place but a heartlessness and low species of pride, brutal to inferiors, envious to equals, and grovelling towards superiors.
Reader, if you inquire who the retired minister may be that lives so friendly and contentedly among the inhabitants of his little parish, and the name of the parish wherein the festival of May-day has been thus renewed-know that the one may be found in Warwickshire, and the other in a reverend philanthropist and profound scholar, the warm hearted friend of Fox and Romilly.
MILK AND HONEY, OR THE LAND OF PROMISE.
Miss Lydia BARROW TO Miss Kitty Brown.
Delineation of a Ball-Room French Dress.—Essay on Hair-dressing.-Miss Kelly
and Miss Foote.—'The Temple of Janus. - Lydia with two faces. - Consternation occasioned by her French Dress.—High Blood.—The Macheaths, the Lockets, and the Dawsons.-Waltzing Catastrophes.
My dress-you'd be vex'd if I did not put that in-
Including the sarsnet, with honeycomb flounces,
Conceive-what your Liddy wants words to expresso
But ho, let no novice Miss Dawson put trust in!