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O quivered Virgins bright, Pans rustical, Satyrs arid Sylvans all, Dryads, and ye That up the mountains be; and ye beneath la meadow or flowery heath,—ye are alone.
"This time two hundred years ago, our ancestors were all anticipating their May holidays. Bigotry came in, and frowned them away; then debauchery, and identified all pleasure with the town; then avarice, and we have ever since been mistaking the means for the end.— Fortunately, it does not follow, that we shall continue to do so. Commerce, while it thinks it is only exchanging commodities, is helping to diffuse knowledge. All other gains,—all selfish and extravagant systems of acquisition,—tend to over-do themselves, and to topple down by their own undiffused magnitude. The world, as it learns other things, may learn not to confound the means with the end, or at least, (to speak more philosophically,) a really poor means with a really richer. The veriest cricket-player on a green has as sufficient a quantity of excitement, as a fundholder or a partizan; and health, and spirits, and manliness to boot. Knowledge may go on ; must do so, from necessity; and should do so, for the ends we speak of: but knowledge, so far from being incompatible with simplicity of pleasures, is the quickest to perceive its wealth. Chaucer would lie for hours looking at the daisies. Scipio and Lrelius could amuse themselves with making ducks and drakes on the water. Epaminondas, the greatest of alt the active spirits of Greece, was a flute-player and dancer. Alfred the Great could act the whole part of a minstrel. Epicurus taught the riches of temperance and intellectual pleasure in a garden. The other philosophers of his country walked between heaven and earth in the colloquial bowers of Academus; and 'the wisest heart of Solomon,' who found every thing vain because he was a king, has left us panegyrics on the spring and 'the voice of the turtle,' because he was a poet, a lover, and a wise man."*
and fetch away a number of hawthornetrees, which they set before their dores: 'tis pity that they make such a destruction of so tine a tree."
Aubrey remarks, that he never remembers to have seen a Maypole in France; but he says, " in Holland, they have their May-booms, which are streight young trees, set up; and at Woodstock, in Oxon, they every May-eve goe into the parke,
* The Indicator.
As the old antiquary takes us to Woodstock, and a novel by the "Great Unknown," bears that title, we will " inn" there awhile, agreeably to an invitation of u correspondent who signs flpax^AToroj, and who promises entertainment to the readers of the Every-Day Book, from an account of some out-of-the-way doings at that place, when there were out-of-theway doings every where. Our friend with the Greek name is critical; for as regards the "new novel," he says, that "Woodstock would have been much better if the author had placed the incidents before the battle of Worcester, and supposed that Charles had been drawn over to England to engage in some plot of Dr. Rochecliffes, which had proved unsuccessful. This might have spared him one great anachronism, (placing the pranks of the merry devil of Woodstock in 1651, instead of 1049,) at the same time that it would throw a greater air of probability over the story; for the reader who is at all acquainted with English history, continually feels his pleasure destroyed by the recollection that in Charles'sescapes after the battle of Worcester, he never once visited Woodstock. Nor does' the merry devil of Woodstock excite half the interest, or give us half tbe amusement he would have done, if the author had lately read the narrative I am now about to copy. He seems to have perused it at some distance of time, and then to have written the novel with imperfect recollection of the circumstances.—But let me begin my story; to wit, an article in the 'British Magazine' tor April, 1747, which will I suppose excite some curiosity, and is in the following words :—
"the Genuintj History
"Goon Devil Op Wooostock,
"Famous in the world in the year 1649, and never accounted for, or at all vnderttood to this time."
The teller of this "Genuine History" proceeds as hereafter verbatim.
Some original papers having lately fallen into my hands under the name of "Authentic Memoirs of the Memorable Joseph Collins of Oxford, commonly known by the name of Funny Joe, and now intended for the press," I was extremely delighted to find in them a circumstantial and unquestionable account of the most famous of all invisible agents, so well known in the year 1649, under the name of the good devil of Woodstock, and even adored by the people of that place for the vexation and distress it occasioned some people they were not much pleased with. As this famous story, though related by a thousand people, and attested in all its circumstances beyond all possibility of doubt by people of rank, learning, and reputation, of Oxford and the adjacent towns, has never yet been accounted for or at all understood, and is perfectly explained in a manner that can admit of no doubt in these papers, I could not refuse my readers their share of the pleasure it gave me in reading
As the facts themselves were at that time so well known that it would have been tedious to enumerate them, they are not mentioned in these papers; but that our readers may have a perfect account of the whole transaction, as well as the secret history of it, I shall prefix a written account of it, drawn up and signed by the commissioners themselves, who were the people concerned, and which I believe never was published, though it agrees very well with the accounts Dr. Plot and other authors of credit give of the whole affair. This I found affixed to the author's memorial, with this title :—
"A particular account of the strange and surprising apparitions and work* of spirits, which happened at Woodstock, in Oxfordshire, in the months of October and November, in the year of our Lord Christ 164°, when the honourable the commissioners for surveying the said manor-house, park, woods, and other demesnes belonging to that manor, tat and remained there. Collected and attested by themselves.
"The honourable the commissioners arrived at Woodstock manor-house, October 13th, and took up their residence in the king's own rooms. His majesty's bedchamber they made their kitchen, the council hall their pantry, and the presence chamber was the place where they sat for despatch of business. His majesty's dining
room they made their wood yard, and stowed it with no other wood but that of the famous royal oak* from the high park, which, that nothing might be left with the name of the king about it, they had dug up by the roots, and bundled up into faggots for their firing.
"October 16. This day they first sat for the despatch of business. In the midst of their first debate there entered a large black dog (as they thought) which made a terrible howling, overturned two or three of their chairs, and doing some other damage, went under the bed, and there gnawed the cords. The door this while continued constantly shut, when after some two or three hours, Giles Sharp, their secretary, looking under the bed, perceived that the creature was vanished, and that a plate of meat which one of the servants had hid there was untouched, and showing them to their honours, they were all convinced there could be no real dog concerned in the case; the said Giles also deposed on oath that to his certain knowledge there was not.
"October 17. As they were this day sitting at dinner in a lower room, they heard plainly the noise of persons walking over their heads, though they well knew the doors were all locked, and there could be none there; presently after they heard also all the wood of the king's oak brought by parcels from the dining-room, and thrown with great violence into the presence chamber, as also the chairs, stools, tables, and other furniture, forcibly hurled about the room, their own papers of the minutes of their transactions torn, and the ink-glass broken. When all this had some time ceased, the said Giles proposed to enter first into these rooms, and in presence of the commissioners of whom he received the key, he opened the door, and entering with their honours following him, he there found the wood strewed about the room, the chairs tossed about and broken, the papers torn, and the ink-glass broken over them, all as they had heard, yet no footsteps appeared of any person whatever being there, nor had the doors ever been opened to admit or let out any persons since their honours were last there. It was therefore
* This iii not king Charlea the Second'* celebrated " Royal Oak," bat the" King's Oak." to often mentioned In the novel. To make it atand tag in 1451 is another anachronism by the by.
voted nem. con. that the person who did this mischief could have entered no other way than at the keyhole of the said doors.
"In the night following this same day, the said Giles and two other of the commissioners' servants, as they were in bed at the same room with their honours, had their bed's feet lifted up so much higher than their heads, that they expected to have their necks btoken, and then they were let fall at once with such violence as shook them up from the bed to a good distance; and this was repeated many times, their honours being amazed spectators of it. In the morning the bedsteads were found cracked and broken, and the said Giles, and his fellows, declared they were sore to the bones with the tossing and jolting of the beds.
"October 19. As they were all in bed together, the candles were blown out with a sulphurous smell, and instantly many trenchers of wood were hurled about the room, and one of them putting his head above the clothe9, had not less than six forcibly thrown at him, which wounded him very grievously. In the morning the trenchers were all found lying about the room, and were observed to be the same they had eaten on the day before, none being found remaining in the pantry.
"October 20. This night the candles were put out as before, the curtains of the bed in which their honours lay, were drawn to and fro many times with great violence; their honours received many cruel blows, and were much bruised beside with eight great pewter dishes, and three dozen wooden trenchers which were thrown on the bed, and afterwards heard rolling about the room.
"Many times also this niyht they heard the forcible falling of many faggots by their bed side, but in the morning no faggots were found there, no dishes or trenchers were there seen neither, and the aforesaid Giles attests that by their different arranging in the pantry, they had assuredly been taken thence and after put there again.
"October 21. The keeper of their ordinary and his bitch lay with them; this night they had no disturbance.
"October 22. Candles put out as before. They had the said bitch with them again, but were not by that protected ; the bitch set up a very piteous cry, the clothes of their beds were all pulled off, and the bricks, without any wind, were thtown off the chimney tops into the midst.
"October 24. The candles put out as before. They thought all the wood of the king's oak was violently thrown down by their bedsides ; they counted sixty-four faggots that fell with great violence, and some hit and shook the bed, but in the morning none were found there, nor the door of the room opened in which the said faggots were.
"October 25. The candles put out as before. The curtains of the bed in the drawing-room were forcibly drawn many times; the wood thrown out as before; a terrible crack like thunder was heard, and one of the servants running to see if his masters were not killed, found at his return three dozen of trenchers laid smoothly upon his bed under the quilt.
"October 26. The beds were shaken as before, the windows seemed all broken to pieces, and the glass fell in vast quantities all about the room. In the morning they found the windows all whole, but the floor strewed with broken glass, which they gathered and laid by.
"October 29.* At midnight, candles went out as before; something walked majestically through the room and opened and shut the window; great stones were thrown violently into the room, some whereof fell on the beds, others on the floor; and at about a quarter after one a noise was heard as of forty cannon discharged together, and again repeated at about eight minutes distance. This alarmed and raised all the neighbourhood, who coming into their honours' room gathered up the great stones, fourscore in number, many of them like common pebbles and boulters, and laid them by where they are to be seen to this day at a corner of the adjoining field. This noise, like the discharge of cannon, was heard throughout the country for sixteen miles round. During these noises, which were heard in both rooms together, both the commissioners and their servants gave one another over for lost and cried out for help, and Giles Sharp snatching up a sw> rd had well nigh killed one of their honours, taking him for the spirit as he came in his shirt into the room. While they were together the noise was continued, and part of the tiling of the house and all the windows of an upper room were taken awny with it.
"October 30. At midnight, something walked into the chamber treading like a bear: it walked many times about, then threw the warming-pan violently on the floor, and so bruised it that it was spoiled. Vast quantities of glass were now thrown about the room, and vast numbers of great stones and horses' bones thrown in; these were all found in the morning, and the floor, beds, and walls, were all much damaged by thevioleuce they were thrown in.
"November 1. Candles were placed in all parts of the room, and a great fire made; at midnight, the candles all yet burning, a noise like the burst of a cannon was heard in the room, and the burning billets were tossed all over the room and about the beds, that had not their honours called in Giles and his fellows, the house had been assuredly burnt; an hour after the candles went out as usual, the crack of many cannon was heard, and many pails full of green stinking water were thrown on their honours in bed; great stones were also thrown in as before, the bed curtains and bedsteads torn and broken: the windows were now all really broken, and the whole neighbourhood alarmed with the noises; nay, the very rabbit-stealers that were abroad that night in the warren, were so frightened at the dismal thundering, that they fled for fear, and left their ferrets behind them.
"One of their honours this night spoke, and in the name of God asked what it was and why it disturbed them so. No answer was given to this, but the noise ceased for a while, when the spirit came again, and as they all agreed brought with it seven devils worse than itself. One of the servants now lighted a large candle, and set it in the doorway between the two chambers, to see what passed, and as he watched it he plainly saw a hoof striking the candle and candlestick into the middle of the room, and afterwards making three scrapes over the snuff of the candle to scrape it out. Upon this, the same person was so bold as to draw a sword ; but he had scarce got it out when he perceived another invisible hand had hold of it too, and pulled with him for it, and at length prevailing, struck him so violently on the head with the pummel, that he fell down for dead with the blow. At this instant was heard another burst like the discharge of a broadside of a ship of war, and at about a minute or two s distance each, no less than nineteen more
such; these shook the house so violently that they expected every moment it would fall upon their heads. The neighbours on this were all alarmed, and running to the house, they all joined in prayers and psalm-singing, during which the noise still continued in the other rooms, and the discharge of cannon without though no one was there.''
Dr. Plot concludes his relation of this memorable event with observing, that though tricks have been often played in affairs of this kind, many of these things are not reconcileable to juggling; such as—1. The loud noises beyond the power of man to make without such instruments as were not there. 2. The tearing and breaking the beds. 3. The throwing about the fire. 4. The hoof treading out the candle; and, 5. The striving for the sword, and the blow the man received from the pummel of it.
To see, however, how great men are sometimes deceived, we may recur to this one tiact, where among other things there is one entitled " The secret history of the good devil of Woodstock," in which we find it under the author's own hand, that he, Joseph Collins, commonly called funny Joe, was himself this very devil; that he hired himself as a servant to the commissioners under the feigned name of Giles Sharp, and by the help of two friends, an unknown trap-door in the ceiling of the bedchamber, and a pound of common gunpowder, played all these amazing tricks by himself, and his fellow servants, whom he had introduced on purpose to assist him, had lifted up their own beds.
The candles were contrived by a common trick of gunpowder put in them, to put themselves out by a certain time.
The dog who began the farce was, as he swore, no dog, but truly a bitch who had the day before whelped in that room and made all this disturbance in seeking for her puppies; and which when she had served his purpose, he let out and then looked for. The story of the hoof and sword himself alone was witness to, and was never suspected as to the truth of them though mere fictions. By the trapdoor his friends let down stones, faggots, glass.water, &c.which they either left there or drew up again as best suited with him; and by this way let themselves in and out without opening the doors and going through the key-holes; and all the noises he declares he made by placing quantities of white gunpowder over pieces ol burning charcoal on plates of tin, which as they melted went off with that violent explosion.
One thing there was beyond all these he tells us, which was also what drove them from the house in reality, though they never owned it. This was they had formed a reserve of part of the premises to themselves, and hid their mutual agreement, which they had drawn up in writing, under the earth in a pot in a corner of the room in which they usually dined, in which an orange tree grew: when in the midst of their dinner one day this earth of itself took fire and burned violently with a blue flame, filling the room with a strong sulphurous stench ; and this he also professes was his own doing, by a secret mixture he had placed there the day before.
I am very happy in having an opportunity of setting history right about these -emarkable events; and would not have the reader disbelieve my author's account of them, from his naming either white gunpowder going off when melted, or his making the earth about the pot take (ire of its own accord; since, however improba )le these accounts may appear to some
readers, and whatever secrets they might be in Joe's time, they are well known now in chemistry. As to the last, there needs only to mix an equal quantity of iron fiU ings, finely powered, and powder of pure brimstone, and make them into a paste with fair water. This paste, when it has lain together about twenty-six hours, will of itself take fire, and burn all the sulphur away, with a blue flame and great stink. For the others, what he calls white gunpowder, is plainly the thundering powder called jmlvis fulminant by our chemists. It is made only of three parts of saltpetre, two parts of pearl-ashes, or salt of tartar, and one part of flower of brimstone, mixed together and beat to a fine powder; a small quantity of this held on the point of a knife over a candle will not go off till it melts, and then give a report like a pistol; and this he might easily dispose of in larger quantities, so as to make it go off of itself, while he was with his masters.
From this diversion at Woodstock, wherein if we have exceeded be it remembered that Aubrey car.ied us thither, we return to the diversions of the month.
Ye shepherdesses, in a goodly round,
Purpled with health, as in the greenwood shade,
Incontinent ye thump the echoing ground,
And deftly lead the dance along the glade;
(O may no showers your merry makes affray!)
Hail at the opening, at the closing day,
All hail, ye Bonnibels, to your own season, May.
Nor ye absent yourselves, ye shepherd swains,
But lead to dance and song the liberal May,
And while in jocund ranks you beat the plains,
Your flocks shall nibble and your lambkins play,
Frisking in glee. To May your garlands bring.
And ever and anon her praises sing:
The woods shall echo May,—with May the rallies ring.
May Day In Londos.
The traunt schoolboy now at eve we meet,