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Bona Dea, the Good Goddess, or the Earth, represented in the Frontispiece to the first volume of the Every-Day Book, with the zodiacal signs of the celestial system, which influences our sphere to produce its fruits in due order.
It is in May that “Spring is with us once more pacing the earth in all the primal pomp of her beauty, with flowers and soft airs and the song of birds every where about her, and the blue sky and the bright clouds above. But there is one thing wanting, to give that happy completeness to her advent, which belonged to it in the elder times; and without which it is like a beautiful melody without words, or a beautiful flower without scent, or a beautiful face without a soul. The voice of man is no longer heard, hailing her approach as she hastens to bless him; and his choral symphonies no longer meet and bless her in return—bless her by letting her behold and hear the happiness that she comes to create. The soft songs of women are no longer blended with her breath as it whispers among the new leaves; their slender feet no longer trace her footsteps in the fields and woods and wayside copses, or dance delighted measures round the flowery offerings that she prompted their lovers to place before them on the village green. Even the little children themselves, that have an instinct for the spring, and feel it to the very tips of their fingers, are permitted to let May come upon them, without knowing from whence the impulse of happiness that they feel proceeds, or whither it tends. In short,
* All the earth is gay;
while man, man alone, lets the season come without glorying in it; and when it goes he lets it go without regret; as if * all seasons and their change’ were alike to him; or rather, as if he were the lord of all seasons, and they were to do homage and honour to him, instead of he to them l How is this? Is it that we have “sold our birthright for a mess of E. !"—that we have bartered “our
ing's end and aim' for a purse of gold 1. Alas! thus it is:
“The world is too much with us; late and
soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: Little we see in nature that is ours; We have given our hearts away—a sordid boon f
—But be this as it may, we are still able to feel what nature is, though we have in a #. measure ceased to know it; though we
ave chosen to neglect her ordinances, and absent ourselves from her presence, we still retain some instinctive reminiscences of her beauty and her power; and every now and then the sordid walls of those mud hovels which we have built for ourselves, and choose to dwell in, fall down before the magic touch of our involuntary fancies, and give us glimpses into “that imperial palace whence we came,” and make us yearn to return thither, though it be but in thought.
One more ditty, a favourite in many parts of England, is homely, but there is a prettiness in its description that may reconcile it to the admirers of a “country life:”—
THE MAY DAY HERD.
Now at length 'tis May-day morn, And the herdsman blows his horn ; Green with grass the common now, Herbage bears for many a cow.
Too long in the straw yard fed, Have the cattle hung their head, And the milk did well nigh fail, The milk-maid in her ashen pail.
Well the men have done their job,
Yet they first a fight maintain,
Drive them gently o'er the lawn, Keep them from the growing corn; When the common they shall gain, Let them spread wide o'er the plain.
Show them to the reedy pool,
Bring them gently home at eve, That their bags they may relieve, And themselves of care divest, Chew the cud and take their rest.
Now the dairy maid will please,
Raise the song, then, let us now, Sing the healthful, useful cow, England well the blessing knows, A land with milk that richly flows.
May-day is a Spring day.
Spring—“the innocent spring,” is the firstling of revolving nature; and in the first volume, is symbolized by an infant. In that engraving there is a sort of appeal to parental feeling; yet an address more touching to the heart is in the following little poem:—
A Mother to her First-born.
"Tis sweet to watch thee in thy sleep, When thou, my boy, art dreaming;
"Tis sweet, o'er thee a watch to keep,
To mark the smile that seems to creep O'er thee like daylight gleaming.
'Tis sweet to mark thy tranquil breast, Heave like a small wave flowing;
To see thee take thy gentle rest,
With nothing save fatigue opprest,
To see thee now, or when awake,
For thou, in time, a part must take,
That may thy fortunes mar or make, In the wide world before thee.
But I, my child, have hopes of thee, And may they ne'er be blighted 1–
That I, years hence, may live to see
Thy name as dear to all as me,
I'll watch thy dawn of joys, and mould Thy little mind to duty—
I'll teach thee words, as I behold
T; faculties like flowers unfold, n intellectual beauty.
And then, perhaps, when I am dead,
The Maypole nearest to the metropolis, that stood the longest within the recollection of the editor, was near Kennington-green, at the back of the houses, at the south corner of the Workhouselane, leading from the Vauxhall-road to Elizabeth-place. The site was then nearly vacant, and the Maypole was in the field on the south side of the Workhouse-lane, and nearly opposite to the Black Prince public-house. It remained till about the year 1795, and was much frequented, particularly by milk maids.
A delightfully pretty print of a merrymaking “round about the Maypole,” sup: plies an engraving on the next page illust trative of the prevailing tendency of this work, and the simplicity of rural manners. It is not so sportive as the dancings about the Maypoles near London formerly; there is nothing of the boisterous rudeness which must be well remembered by many old Londoners on May
to his neighbours. He was deemed eccentric, and so he was; for he was never proud to the humble, nor humble to the É. His eloquence and wit elevated umility, and crushed insolence; he was the champion of the oppressed, a foe to the oppressor, a friend to the friendless, and a brother to him who was ready to perish. Though a prebend of the church with university honours, he could afford to make his parishoners happy without derogating from his ecclesiastical dignities, or abatement of self-respect, or lowering himself in the eyes of any who were not inferior in judgment, to the most inferior of the villagers of Hatton.
Welcome 1 dawn of summer's day,
The most ancient of our bards makes noble melody in this glorious month. Mr. Leigh Hunt selects a delightful passage from Chaucer, and compares it with Dryden's o: :
It is sparkling with young manhood and a gentle freshness. What a burst of radiant joy is in the second couplet; what a vital quickness in the comparison of the horse, “starting as the fire;” and what a native and happy case in the conclusion!
The busy lark, the messenger of day,
Dryden falls short in the freshness and feeling of the sentiment. His lines are beautiful; but they do not come home to us with so happy and cordial a face.
* Saluteth, t Groves. + Royal.