THE great popularity of BRAND'S Work on the Customs and Provincial Antiquities of Great Britain having led to the demand for a new edition, it was thought advisable to attempt some more convenient arrangement of the matter. With this object, the most entertaining and popular portions have been inserted in the text, while the merely recondite and subordinate have been thrown into foot-notes. This plan will, it is hoped, render the work more acceptable to the general reader. Various articles and passages also, that did not before appear to be inserted in their proper places, have been transposed: the long notes, for example, which in the former edition were subjoined to the Author's preface, are now placed under the heads to which they particularly relate. A copious Index, to be given in the last volume, will at once obviate any inconvenience that might arise to those who have been accustomed to the previous arrangement. In some few instances, where foreign books of an accessible description have been extensively quoted, it has been thought advisable to adopt an English translation in preference; especially with regard to Naogeorgus, the English version1 of whose book is in reality the only one in which the reader of Brand is concerned. No information or amusement whatever, which is contained in any [p.iv] of the previous editions, has been omitted; but considerable additions have been made from every available source, and of these, some have never before appeared in print. Notwithstanding all the pains that have been taken, there will still remain many relics of the older superstitions entirely unnoticed by Brand and his editors. Those who possess opportunities of collecting such notices, should place them on record before they entirely disappear. Any additional information on these subjects, addressed to the Publisher, will be gladly acknowledged.

November 1848.



THE respected Author of the following work, as will be seen by the date of his Preface, had prepared it to meet the public eye so long ago as 1795. The subjects, however, which form the different sections were then miscellaneously arranged, and he had not kept even to the chronological order of the Feasts and Fasts observed by his predecessor Bourne.

The idea of a more perspicuous method was probably the first occasion of delay; till the kindness of friends, the perseverance of his own researches, and the vast accession of intelligence produced by the statistical inquiries in Scotland, so completely overloaded his manuscript, that it became necessary that the whole work should be remodelled. This task, even to a person of Mr. Brand's unwearied labour, was discouraging; and, though he projected a new disposition of his materials, he had made no progress in putting them in order at the time of his death.

In this state, at the sale of the second part of Mr. Brand's library, in 1808, the manuscript of his 'Observations on Popular Antiquities' was purchased for the sum of six hundred pounds. An examination, however, soon proved that great revision was wanting; and though one or two antiquaries of eminence engaged in the task of its publication, each, after a time, abandoned it.

In 1810 the present Editor undertook the work, and gave it to the public in 1813, in two volumes, quarto. The whole was entirely rewritten with his own hand, and in many parts augmented by additional researches. Mr. Brand's extracts [p.vi] from books and manuscripts, too, which were very faulty, were all, as far as possible, collated with their originals; and a copious index added to the whole.

Whatever of importance has occurred to the Editor in augmentation of the work since the publication of the last edition has been added to the present, and another copious index supplied.

The arrangement of the work, founded on a sketch drawn out by Mr. Brand, is the same in the present as in the last edition, beginning with the days of more particular note in the calendar, to which popular observations attach, taken in chronological order. These, now, fill the first volume. The two which follow contain, first, the Customs at Country Wakes, Sheep-shearings, and other rural practices, with such usages and ceremonies as are not assignable to any particular period of the year. The Customs and Ceremonies of Common Life are next introduced, followed by the numerous train of Popular Notions, Sports, and Errors.

Mr. Brand, the author of the present work, was born at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, as is believed, about 1743, and was educated at Lincoln College, Oxford. He was, for a short time, usher at Newcastle School.

His earliest literary production was a Poem "written among the ruins of Godstow Nunnery," 4to, 1775. His next was the first edition of the present work, printed at Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1777. He was elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, on May 29th of that year, and in 1784, upon the death of Dr. Morell, succeeded to the office of its resident secretary. In 1784 he was also presented to the London rectory of St. Mary-at-Hill, by the Duke of Northumberland, to whom he was likewise librarian. In 1789 he published the History of his native town, in two volumes, quarto. He died, in a fit of apoplexy, September 10, 1806. A small volume of his Letters to Mr. Ralph Beilby, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, was published there in 1825. The History of Newcastle, and the Observations on Popular Antiquities, afford proofs of deep research, too evident to need a panegyric here.

May 22, 1841.


TRADITION has in no instance so clearly evinced her faithfulness as in the transmittal of vulgar rites and popular opinions.

Of these, when we are desirous of tracing them backwards to their origin, many may be said to lose themselves in the mists of antiquity.2 They have indeed travelled to us through a long succession of years, and the greater part of them, it is not improbable, will be of perpetual observation: for the generality of men look back with superstitious veneration on the ages of their forefathers, and authorities that are grey with time seldom fail of commanding those filial honours claimed even by the appearance of hoary age.

It must be confessed that many of these are mutilated, and, as in the remains of ancient statuary, the parts of some have been awkwardly transposed: they preserve, however, the principal traits that distinguished them in their origin.

Things that are composed of such flimsy materials as the fancies of a multitude do not seem calculated for a long duration; yet have these survived shocks by which even empires have been overthrown, and preserved at least some form and colour of identity, during a repetition of changes both in the religious opinions and civil polity of states.


But the strongest proof of their remote antiquity is, that they have outlived the general knowledge of the very causes that gave rise to them.3

The reader will find, in the subsequent pages, my most earnest endeavours to rescue many of those causes from oblivion.4 If, on the investigation, they shall appear to any to be so frivolous as not to have deserved the pains of the search, the humble labourer will at least have the satisfaction of avoiding censure by incurring contempt. How trivial soever such an inquiry may seem to some, yet all must be informed that it is attended with no inconsiderable share of literary toil
and difficulty. A passage is to be forced through a wilderness, intricate and entangled: few vestiges of former labours can be found to direct us in our way, and we must oftentimes [p.ix] trace a very tedious retrospective course, perhaps to return at last, weary and unsatisfied, from researches as fruitless as those of some ancient enthusiastic traveller, who, ranging the barren African sands, had in vain attempted to investigate the hidden sources of the Nile.

Rugged, however, and narrow as this walk of study may seem to many, yet must it be acknowledged that Fancy, who shares with Hope the pleasing office of brightening a passage through every route of human endeavours, opens from hence, too, prospects that are enriched with the choicest beauties of her magic creation.

The prime origin of the superstitious notions and ceremonies of the people is absolutely unattainable. We must despair of ever being able to reach the fountain-head of streams which have been running and increasing from the beginning of time.5 All that we can aspire to do is only to trace their [p.x] courses backward, as far as possible, on those charts that now remain of the distant countries whence they were first perceived to flow.

Few who are desirous of investigating the popular notions and vulgar ceremonies of our own nation can fail of deducing them, in their first direction, from the time when Popery was our established religion.6 We shall not wonder that these were able to survive the Reformation, when we consider that, though our own sensible and spirited forefathers were, upon conviction, easily induced to forego religious tenets which had been weighed in the balance and found wanting, yet were the bulk of the people by no means inclined to annihilate the seemingly innocent ceremonies of their former superstitious [p.xi] faith. These, consecrated to the fancies of the multitude by a usage from time immemorial, though erased by public authority from the written word, were committed as a venerable deposit to the keeping of oral tradition; and like the penates of another Troy, recently destroyed, were religiously brought off, after having been snatched out of the smoking ruins of Popery.

It is not improbable, indeed, but that, in the infancy of Protestantism, the continuance of many of them was connived at by the state.7 For men, who "are but children of a larger growth," are not to be weaned all at once; and the reformation both of manners and religion is always most surely established when effected by slow degrees, and, as it were, imperceptible gradations.

Thus, also, at the first promulgation of Christianity to the Gentile nations, though the new converts yielded through the force of truth to conviction, yet they could not be persuaded to relinquish many of their superstitions, which, rather than forego altogether, they chose to blend and incorporate with their new faith.

And hence it is that Christian, or rather Papal, Rome has borrowed her rites, notions, and ceremonies, in the most luxuriant abundance, from ancient and Heathen Rome,8 and that much the greater number of those flaunting externals which Infallibility has adopted by way of feathers to adorn the triple Cap, have been stolen out of the wings of the dying Eagle.

With regard to the rites, sports, &c. of the common people, I am aware that the morose and bigoted part of mankind,9 [p.xii] without distinguishing between the right use and the abuse of such entertainments, cavil at and malign them: yet must such be told that shows and sports have been countenanced in all ages, and that too by the best and wisest of states; and though it cannot be denied that they have sometimes been prostituted to the purposes of riot and debauchery, yet, were we to reprobate everything that has been thus abused, religion itself could not be retained: perhaps, indeed, we should be able to keep nothing.

The common people, confined by daily labour, seem to require their proper intervals of relaxation; perhaps it is of the highest political utility to encourage innocent sports and games among them. The revival of many of these would, I think, be highly pertinent at this particular juncture, when the general spread of luxury and dissipation threatens more than at any preceding period to extinguish the character of our boasted national bravery. For the observation of an honest old writer, Stow (who tells us, speaking of the May games, Midsummer Eve rejoicings, &c.,10 anciently used in the streets of London, which open pastimes11 in my youth [p.xiii] being now supprest, worse practices within doors are to be feared,  may with too singular propriety be adopted on the most transient survey of our present popular manners.12

Bourne, my predecessor in this walk, has not, from whatever cause, done justice to the subject he undertook to treat of. Let it not be imputed to me that I am so vain as to think that I have exhausted it, for the utmost of my pretensions is to the merit of having endeavoured, by making additions and alterations, to methodise and improve it. I think it justice to add, too, that he was deserving of no small share of praise for his imperfect attempt, for "much is due to those who first broke the way to knowledge, and left only to their successors the task of smoothing it."

New and very bright lights have appeared since his time. The English antique has become a general and fashionable study: and the discoveries of a chartered Society of Antiquaries, patronised by the best of monarchs, and boasting among its members some of the greatest ornaments of the British empire, have rendered the recesses both of Papal and Heathen Antiquities much easier of access.

I shall presume to flatter myself that I have, in some measure, turned all these circumstances to advantage. I have gleaned passages that seemed to throw light upon the subject, as my numberless citations will evince, from an immense variety of volumes, both printed and manuscript; and those written too in several languages: in the doing of which, if I shall not be found to have deserved the praise of judgment, I must at least make pretensions to the merit of industry.

Elegance of composition will hardly be expected in a work of this nature,13 which seems to stand much less in need of [p.xiv] Attic wit than of Roman perseverance, or, if we glance at modern times, of Dutch assiduity.

I shall offer many discoveries which are peculiarly my own, for there are not a few customs yet retained in the North, where I spent the earliest part of my life, of which I am persuaded the learned in the Southern parts of our island have hardly once heard mention, which is perhaps the sole cause why they have never before been investigated.

I have, once for all, to premise that, in perusing the subsequent observations, the candid reader, who has never before considered this neglected subject, is particularly requested not to be rash in passing sentence; but to suspend his judgment, at least till he has carefully examined all the evidence; by which caution let it not be understood that my determinations are in any degree thought to be infallible, or that every decision to be found in the following pages is not amenable to higher authorities: in the mean time prejudice may be forewarned, and it will apologise for many seemingly trivial reasons assigned for the beginning and transmitting of this or that popular notion or ceremony, to reflect that what may appear foolish to the enlightened understandings of men in the eighteenth century, wore a very different aspect when viewed through the gloom that prevailed in the seventh or eighth.

I should trespass on the patience of my reader were I to enumerate all the books I have consulted on this occasion: to which, however, I shall take care, in their proper places, to refer: but I own myself under particular obligations to Durand's Ritual of Divine Offices,14 a work inimical to every idea of rational worship, but to the inquirer into the origin of our popular ceremonies, an invaluable magazine of the most interesting intelligence. I would style this performance the great Ceremonial Law of the Romanists, in comparison [p.xv] with which the Mosaic code is barren of rites and ceremonies. We stand amazed, on perusing it, at the enormous weight of a new yoke, which Holy Church, fabricating with her own hands, had imposed on her ancient devotees.15

Yet the forgers of these shackles had artfully enough contrived to make them sit easy, by twisting flowers around them: dark as this picture, drawn by the pencil of gloomy Superstition, appeared upon the whole, yet was its deep shade in many places contrasted with pleasing lights.

The calendar was crowded with Red-letter days, nominally, indeed, consecrated to saints, but which, by the encouragement of idleness and dissipation of manners, gave every kind of countenance to sinners.

A profusion of childish rites, pageants, and ceremonies, diverted the attention of the people from the consideration of their real state, and kept them in humour, if it did not sometimes make them in love, with their slavish modes of worship.

To the credit of our sensible and manly forefathers, they were among the first who felt the weight of this new and unnecessary yoke, and had spirit enough to throw it off.

I have fortunately in my possession one of those ancient Roman calendars, of singular curiosity, which contains under the immoveable Feasts and Fasts (I regret much its silence on the moveable ones), a variety of brief observations, contributing not a little to the elucidation of many of our popular customs, and proving them to have been sent over from Rome, with Bulls, Indulgences, and other baubles, bartered, as it should seem, for our Peter-pence, by those who trafficked in spiritual merchandise from the continent.

These I shall carefully translate (though in some places it is extremely difficult to render the very barbarous Latin in which they are written, the barbarity, brevity, and obscurity of which I fear the critic will think I have transfused into my own English), and lay before my reader, who will at once see and acknowledge their utility.

A learned performance by a physician in the time of King James I, and dedicated to that monarch, is also luckily in my library: it is written in Latin, and entitled 'The Popedom, or [p.xvi] the Origin and Increase of Depravity in Religion,'16 containing a very masterly parallel between the rites, notions, &c., of Heathen, and those of Papal Rome.

The copious extracts from this work with which I shall adorn and enlighten the following pages will form their truest commendation, and supersede my poor encomiums.

When I call Gray to remembrance, the Poet of Humanity, who, had he left no other works behind him, would have transmitted his name to immortality by 'Reflections,' written among the little tombstones of the vulgar in a country churchyard, I am urged by no false shame to apologise for the seeming unimportance of my subject.

The antiquities of the common people cannot be studied without acquiring some useful knowledge of mankind; and it may be truly said, in this instance, that by the chemical process of philosophy, even wisdom may be extracted from the follies and superstitions of our forefathers.17


The People, of whom society is chiefly composed, and for whose good all superiority of rank, indispensably necessary, as it is in every government,18 is only a grant, made originally [p.xviii] by mutual concession, is a respectable subject to every one who is the friend of man.

Pride, which, independent of the idea arising from the necessity of civil polity, has portioned out the human genus into such a variety of different and subordinate species, must be compelled to own that the lowest of these derives itself from an origin common to it with the highest of the kind.

The well-known beautiful sentiment of Terence,

"Homo sum, human! niliil a me alienum puto,"

may be adopted, therefore, in this place, to persuade us that nothing can be foreign to our inquiry, much less beneath our notice, that concerns the smallest of the vulgar;19 of those little ones who occupy the lowest place, though by no means of the least importance, in the political arrangement of human beings.

J. B.

August 4th, 1795.


New Year's Eve ...... 1
New Year's Day ...... 10
Twelfth Day ...... 21
St. Agnes's Day or Eve ...... 34
St. Vincent's Day ...... 38
St. Paul's Day ...... 39
Candlemas Day ...... 43
St. Blaze's Day ...... 51
Valentine's Day ...... 53
Collop or Shrove Monday ...... 62
Shrovetide, or Shrove Tuesday ...... 63
Throwing at Cocks ...... 72
Pancake Customs ...... 82
Ash Wednesday ...... 94
St. David's Day ...... 102
St. Patrick's Day ...... 108
Mid-Lent Sunday ...... 110
Palm Sunday ...... 118
All Fools' Day ...... 131
Shere Thursday, also Maunday Thursday ...... 142
Good Friday ...... 150
Easter Eve ...... 157
Easter Day ...... 161
Easter Eggs ...... 168
Easter Holidays  ...... 176
Lifting on Easter Holidays ...... 181
Hoke Day ...... 184
St. George's Day ...... 192
St. Mark's Day or Eve ...... ib.
Rogation Week and Ascension Day or Holy Thursday ...... 197
May-day Customs ...... 212
Maypoles ...... .234
Maid Marian ...... 253
Robin Hood ...... 258
Friar Tuck ...... 262
The Fool ...... 263
Scarlet, Stokesley, and Little John ...... 266
Tom the Piper ...... ib.
The Hobby-horse ...... 267
Low Sunday ...... 271
St. Urban's Day ...... 272
Royal Oak Day ...... 273
Whitsun Ale ...... 276
The Boy's Bailiff ...... 284
Trinity, or Trinity Sunday, Even ...... ib.
Coventry Show Fair  ...... 286
Eve of Thursday after Trinity Sunday ...... 293
St. Barnabas' Day ...... ib.
Corpus Christi Day, and Plays ...... 294
St. Vitus's Day ...... 297
Midsummer Eve ...... 298
St. Peter's Day ...... 337
Processus and Martinian ...... 338
Translation of St. Thomas ...... 339
St. Ulric ...... ib.
Translation of Martin ...... ib.
St. Swithin's Day ...... 340
St. Kenelm's Day ...... 342
St. Margaret's Day ...... 345
St. Bridget ...... ib.
St. James's Day ...... 346
Mace Monday ...... 347
Gule of August, commonly called Lammas Day ...... ib.
St. Sixtus ...... 349
Assumption of the Virgin Mary ...... ib.
St. Roch's Day ...... 350
St. Bartholomew's Day ...... 351
Holyrood Day ...... ib.
Michaelmas ...... 353
All the Holy Angels ...... 356
Michaelmas Goose ...... 367
St. Michael's Cake or Bannock ...... 372
St. Faith, Virgin and Martyr ...... 373
St. Ethelburgh's Day ...... 374
St. Luke's Day ...... ib.
St. Simon and St. Judo's Day ...... 375
Allhallow Even ...... 377
The Fifth of November ...... 397
Martinmas ...... 399
Queen Elizabeth's Accession ...... 404
St. Clement's Day ...... 408
St. Catharine's Day ...... 410
Stir-up Sunday ...... 414
St. Andrew's Day ...... ib.
St. Nicholas's Day ...... 415
On the Montem at Eton ...... 432
Barring Out  ...... 441
Going a Gooding at St. Thomas's Day ...... 455
Hagmena ...... 457
Mumming ...... 461
Of the Yule Clog, or Block, burnt on Christmas Eve ...... 467
Going a Hodening ...... 474
Of the word Yule, formerly used to signify Christmas ...... ib.
Christmas Carol ...... 480
Hobby-horse at Christmas ...... 492
Christmas-box ...... 493
Lord of Misrule ...... 497
Fool Plough and Sword Dance ...... 505
Decking Churches, Houses, &c., with Evergreens at Christmas ...... 519
Yule Doughs, Mince Pies, and Plum Porridge ...... 526
St. Stephen's Day ...... 532
St. John the Evangelist ...... 534
Childermas, or Holy Innocents' Day ...... 535
The Quaaltagh ...... 538




Enter Wassel, like a neat sempster and songster, her page bearing a brown bowl, drest with ribbons and rosemary, before her.BEN JONSON.

THERE was an ancient custom, which is yet retained in many places, on New Year's Eve : young women went about with a Wassail Bowl of spiced ale, with some sort of verses that were sung by them as they went from door to door. "Wassail is derived from the Anglo-Saxon Wses hael, Be in health. It were unnecessary to add, that they accepted little presents on the occasion, from the houses at which they stopped to pay this annual congratulation." The Wassail Bowl," says Warton, "is Shakspeare's Gossip's Bowl, in the Midsummer Night's Dream. The composition was ale, nutmeg, sugar, toast, and roasted crabs or apples. It was also called Lamb's Wool." (Warton's ed. of Milton's Poems, Lond. 1785, 8vo, p. 51, note. See also the Beggar's Bush, act iv. sc. 4, and the following in Polwhele's Old English Gent., p. 117,

"A massy bowl, to deck the jovial day,
Flash'd from its ample round a sunlike ray.
Full many a century it shone forth to grace
The festive spirit of th' Andarton race,
As, to the sons of sacred union dear,
It welcomed with Lamb's Wool the rising year."


It appears from Thomas de la Moore's Life of Edward II. that Was-haile and Drinc-heil were the usual ancient phrases of quaffing among the English, and synonymous with the " Come, here's to you," and " I'll pledge you," of the present day.20 [These pledge-words were frequently varied in olden time. In the tale of King Edward and the Shepherd, MS. Cantab. Ff. v. 48, one says, Passilodion, and the other, Berafrynde; a strange kind of humour, the amusement of which is difficult to be comprehended, though "I warrant it proved an excuse for the glass." In this tale the king says,

"Passilodyon that is this,
Who so drynkes furst i-wys,

Wesseyle the mare dele:
Berafrynde also I wene,
Hit is to make the cup clene,
And fylle hit efte fulle wele."

But the best explanation of Wassail is that given by Robert de Brunne, in the following passage:

"This is ther custom and her gest
When thei are at the ale or fest.
Ilk man that lovis qware him think
Salle say Wosseille, and to him drink.
He that bidis salle say, Wassaile,
The tother salle say again DrinMaille.
That says Wosseille drinkis of the cop,
Kissand" his felaw he gives it up."

This explanation is stated to have been given on Vortigern's first interview with Rowena, or Ronix, the daughter of Hengist, the latter kneeling before him, and presenting a cup of wine, made use of the term. Vortigern, not comprehending the words of Rowena, demanded their meaning from one of the Britons. A fragment, preserved by Hearne, carries the origin of the term to a much earlier period.


The learned Selden, in his Table Talk (article Pope), gives a good description of it: "The pope," says he, "in sending relicks to princes, does as wenches do to their Wassels at New Year's tide they present you with a cup, and you must drink of a slabby stuff, but the meaning is, you must give them money, ten times more than it is worth." The following is a note of the same learned writer on the Polyolbion, song 9: "I see," says he, "a custome in some parts among us: I mean the yearly Was-haile in the country on the vigil of the new yeare, which I conjecture was a usuall ceremony among the Saxons before Hengist, as a note of health-wishing (and so perhaps you might make it Wish-heil), which was exprest among other nations in that form of drinking to the health of their mistresses and friends. 'Bene vos, bene vos, bene te, bene me, bene nostram etiam Stephanium,' in Plautus, and infinite other testimonies of that nature, in him, Martial, Ovid, Horace, and such more, agreeing nearly with the fashion now used : we calling it a health, as they did also, in direct terms; which, with an idol called Heil, antiently worshipped at Cerne in Dorsetshire, by the English Saxons, in name expresses both the ceremony of drinking and the new yeare's acclamation, whereto, in some parts of this kingdom, is joyned also solemnity of drinking out of a cup, ritually composed, deckt, and filled with country liquor."

In Herrick's Hesperides, p. 146, we read,

"Of Christmas sports, the Wassell Boule,
That tost up, after Fox-i'-lh'Hole;
Of Blind-man-buffe, and of the care
That young men have to shooe the Mare:
Of Ash-heapes, in the which ye use
Husbands and wives by streakes to chuse
Of crackling laurell, which fore-sounds
A plentious harvest to your grounds."

In the Antiquarian Repertory (i. 218, ed. 1775) is a woodcut of a large oak beam, the antient support of a chimney-piece, on which is carved a large bowl, with this inscription on one side, [Wass-heil. and on the other Drinc-heile. The bowl rests on the branches of an apple-tree, alluding, perhaps, to part of the materials of which the liquor was composed.] The ingenious remarker on this representation observes, that it is the figure of the old Wassel Bowl, so much the delight of our [p.4] hardy ancestors, who, on the vigil of the New Year, never failed to assemble round the glowing hearth with their cheerful neighbours, and then in the spicy Wassel Bowl (which testified the goodness of their hearts) drowned every former animosity an example worthy modern imitation. Wassel was the word, Wassel every guest returned as he took the circling goblet from his friend, whilst song and civil mirth brought in the infant year.

A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine (liv. May, 1784, p. 347) tells us, that "The drinking the Wassail Bowl or Cup was, in all probability, owing to keeping Christmas in the same manner they had before the feast of Yule. There was nothing the Northern nations so much delighted in as carousing ale, especially at this season, when fighting was over. It was likewise the custom, at all their feasts, for the master of the house to fill a large bowl or pitcher, and drink out of it first himself, and then give it to him that sat next, and so it went round. One custom more should be remembered; and this is, that it was usual some years ago, in Christmas time, for the poorer people to go from door to door with a Wassail Cup, adorned with ribbons, and a golden apple at the top, singing and begging money for it; the original of which was, that they also might procure lamb's wool to fill it, and regale themselves as well as the rich."21

[The following doggrel lines were communicated by a clergyman in Worcestershire, but the occasion and use of them appear to be unknown, and it is not unlikely some corruption has crept into them:


"Wassail brews good ale,
Good ale for Wassail;
Wassail comes too soon,
In the wane of the moon."]

In Ritson's Antient Songs, 1790, p. 304, is given "A Carrol for a Wassell Bowl, to be sung upon Twelfth Day, at night, to the tune of 'Gallants come away,' from a collection of New Christmas Carols; being fit also to be sung at Easter, Whitsuntide, and other Festival Days in the year." No date, 12mo, b. l., in the curious study of that celebrated antiquary, Anthony Wood, in the Ashmolean Museum.

"A jolly Wassel Bowl,
A Wassel of good ale,
Well fare the butler's soul,
That setteth this to sale
        Our jolly Wassel

Good Dame, here at your door
Our Wassel we begin,
We are all maidens poor,
We pray now let us in,
        With our Wassel.

Our Wassel we do fill
With apples and with spice,
Then grant us your good will,
To taste here once or twice
        Of our good Wassel.

If any maidens be
Here dwelling in this house,
They kindly will agree
To take a full carouse
        Of our Wassel.

But here they let us stand
All freezing in the cold ;
Good master, give command
To enter and be bold,
        With our Wasse.

Much joy into this hall
With us is entered in,
Our master first of all,
We hope will now begin,
        Of our Wassel.


And after, his good wife
Our spiced bowl will try,
The Lord prolong your life!
Good fortune we espy,
        For our Wassel.

Some bounty from your hands,
Our Wassel to maintain :
We'll buy no house nor lands
With that which we do gain,
        With our Wassel.

This is our merry night
Of choosing King and Queen,
Then be it your delight
That something may be seen
        In our Wassel.

It is a noble part
To bear a liberal mind;
God bless our master's heart!
For here we comfort find,
        With our Wassel.

And now we must be gone,
To seek out more good cheer ;
Where bounty will be shown,
As we have found it here,
        With our Wassel.

Much joy betide them all,
Our prayers shall be still,
We hope, and ever shall,
For this your great good will
        To our Wassel."

Macaulay, in his History and Antiquities of Claybrook, in Leicestershire, 1791, p. 131, observes: "Old John Payne and his wife, natives of this parish, are well known from having perambulated the hundred of Guthlaxton many years, during the season of Christmas, with a fine gewgaw which they call a Wassail, and which they exhibit from house to house, with the accompaniment of a duet. I apprehend that the practice of wassailing will die with this aged pair. We are by no means so tenacious of old usages and diversions in this country, as they are in many other parts of the world."

In the Collection of Ordinances for the Royal Household, 4to, 1790, p. 121, we have some account of the ceremony of Wasselling, as it was practised at Court, on Twelfth Night, in the reign of Henry VII. From these we learn, that the [p.7] ancient custom of pledging each other out of the same cup had now given place to the more elegant practice of each person having his cup, and that, "When the steward came in at the doore with the Wassel, he was to crie three tymes, Wassel, Wassel, Wassel; and then the chappell (the chaplain) was to answere with a songe." Under "Twelfth Day," an account will be found of the wassailing ceremonies peculiar to that season. At these times the fare, in other respects, was better than usual, and, in particular, a finer kind of bread was provided, which was, on that account, called Wassel-bread. Lowth, in his Life of William of Wykeham, derives this name from the Westellum or Vessel in which he supposes the bread to have been made. See Milner, ut supra, p. 421. [The earliest instance in which mention is made of Wastel-bread is the statute 51 Henry III., whence it appears to have been fine white bread, well baked. See Halliwell's Dictionary, p. 918.] The subsequent Wassailers' song, on New Year's Eve, as still sung in Gloucestershire, was communicated by Samuel Lysons, Esq. [and has since been given in Dixon's Ancient Poems, 8vo. 1846, p. 199.] The Wassailers bring with them a great bowl, dressed up with garlands and ribbons.

"Wassail! Wassail! all over the town,
Our toast it is white, our ale it is brown:
Our bowl it is made of a maplin tree,
We be good fellows all; I drink to thee.

Here's to our horse, and to his right ear,
God send our maister a happy New Year;
A happy New Year as e'er he did see
With my Wassailing Bowl 1 drink to thee.

Here's to our mare, and to her right eye,
God send our mistress a good Christmas pye;
A good Christmas pye as e'er I did see
With my Wassailing Bowl I drink to thee.

Here's to Fillpail22 and to her long tail,
God send our measter us never may fail
Of a cup of good beer: I pray you draw near,
And our jolly Wassail it's then you shall hear.

Be here any maids ? I suppose there be some
Sure they will not let young men stand on the cold stone;
Sing hey maids, come trole back the pin,
And the fairest maid in the house let us all in.


Come, butler, come bring us a bowl of the best:
I hope your soul in heaven will rest:
But if you do bring us a bowl of the small,
Then down fall butler, bowl, and all.'

Hutchinson, in his History of Cumberland, i. 570, speaking of the parish of Muncaster, under the head of "Ancient Custom," informs us: "On the eve of the New Year the children go from house to house, singing a ditty which craves the bounty 'they were wont to have in old King Edward's days.' There is no tradition whence this custom rose; the donation is twopence, or a pye at every house. We have to lament that so negligent are the people of the morals of youth, that great part of this annual salutation is obscene, and offensive to chaste ears. It certainly has been derived from the vile orgies of heathens."

SINGEN-EEN, Dr. Jamieson tells us, is the appellation given in the county of Fife to the last night of the year. The designation seems to have originated from the Carols sung on this evening. He adds, "Some of the vulgar believe that the bees may be heard to sing in their hives on Christmas Eve."

Dr. Johnson tells us, in his Journey to the Western Islands, that a gentleman informed him of an odd game. At New Year's Eve, in the hall or castle of the Laird, where, at festal seasons, there may be supposed a very numerous company, one man dresses himself in a cow's hide, upon which other men beat with sticks. He runs with all this noise round the house, which all the company quits in a counterfeited fright; the door is then shut. At New Year's Eve there is no great pleasure to be had out of doors in the Hebrides. They are sure soon to recover from their terror enough to solicit for readmission: which, for the honour of poetry, is not to be obtained but by repeating a verse, with which those that are knowing and provident take care to be furnished. The learned traveller tells us that they who played at this odd game gave no account of the origin of it, and that he described it as it might perhaps be used in other places, where the reason of it is not yet forgotten. It is probably a vestige of the Festival of Fools. The "vestiuntur pellibus Pecudum" of Du Cange, and "a man's dressing himself in a cow's hide," both, too, on the 1st of January, are such circumstances as leave no [p.9] room for doubt, but that, allowing for the mutilations of time, they are one and the same custom.

[It was formerly the custom in Orkney for large bands of the common class of people to assemble on this eve, and pay a round of visits, singing a song, which commenced as follows:

"This night it is guid New'r E'een's night,
We're a' here Queen Mary's men ;
And we're come here to crave our right,
And that's before our Lady !"]

In Sir John Sinclair's Statistical Account of Scotland, 1794, xii. 458, the minister of Kirkmichael, in the county of Banff, under the head of Superstitions, &c., says: "On the first night of January, they observe, with anxious attention, the disposition of the atmosphere. As it is calm or boisterous; as the wind blows from the south or the north from the east or the west, they prognosticate the nature of the weather till the conclusion of the year. The first night of the new year, when the wind blows from the west, they call dar-na-coille, the night of the fecundation of the trees; and from this circumstance has been derived the name of that night in the Gaelic language. Their faith in the above signs is couched in verses, thus translated: "The wind of the south will be productive of heat and fertility; the wind of the west, of milk and fish ; the wind from the north, of cold and storm ; the wind from the east, of fruit on the trees."

In the Dialogue of Dives and Pauper, printed by Richard Pynson, in 1493, among the superstitions then in use at the beginning of the year, the following is mentioned: "Alle that take hede to dysmal dayes, or use nyce observaunces in the newe moone, or in the new yere, as setting of mete or drynke, by nighte on the benche, to fede Alholde or Gobelyn" [APPLE-HOWLING. A custom in some counties, on New Year's Eve, of wassailing the orchards, alluded to by Herrick, and not forgotten in Sussex, Devon, and elsewhere. A troop of boys visit the different orchards, and, encircling the apple- trees, they repeat the following words:

"Stand fast root, bear well top,
Pray God send us a good howling crop;
Every twig, apples big;
Every bough, apples enou;
Hats full, caps full,
Full quarter sacks full."


They then shout in chorus, one of the boys accompanying them on the cow's-horn. During this ceremony they rap the trees with their sticks.

The following indications from the wind, on New Year's Eve, are said to be still observed and believed in the highlands of Scotland:

"If New Year's Eve night-wind blow south,
It betokeneth warmth and growth;
If west, much milk, and fish in the sea;
If north, much cold and storms there will be;
If east, the trees will bear much fruit;
If north-east, flee it man and brute."]




Froze January, leader of the year,
Minced pies in van, and calf's head in the rear.23


As the vulgar, says Bourne, are always very careful to end the old year well, so they are no less solicitous of making a good beginning of the new one. The old one is ended with a hearty compotation. The new one is opened with the custom of sending presents, which are termed New Year's Gifts, to friends and acquaintance. He resolves both customs into superstitions, as being observed that the succeeding year ought to be prosperous and successful. I find the New Year's Gift thus described in a poem cited in Poole's English Parnassus, in v. January:

"The king of light, father of aged Time,
Hath brought about the day which is the prime
To the slow gliding months, when every eye
Wears symptoms of a sober jollity;
And every hand is ready to present
Some service in a real compliment.


Whilst some in golden letters write their love,
Some speak affection by a ring or glove,
Or pins and points (for ev'n the peasant may
After his ruder fashion, be as gay
As the brisk courtly Sir), and thinks that he
Cannot, without gross absurdity,
Be this day frugal, and not spare his friend
Some gift, to shew his love finds not an end
With the deceased year."

From the subsequent passage in Bishop Hall's Satires, 1598, it should seem that the usual New Year's Gift of tenantry in the country to their landlords was a capon.

"Yet must he haunt his greedy landlord's hall
With often presents at ech festivall;
With crammed capons every New Yeare's morne,
Or with greene cheeses when his sheepe are shorne,
Or many maunds-full of his mellow fruite," &c.

So, in A Lecture to the People, by Abraham Cowley, 4to, Lond. 1678:

"Ye used in the former days to fall
Prostrate to your landlord in his hall,
When with low legs, and in an humble guise,
Ye offer'd up a capon-sacrifice
Unto his worship, at a New Year's tide."

An orange, stuck with cloves, appears to have been a New Year's Gift. So, Ben Jonson, in his Christmas Masque: "He has an orange and rosemary, but not a clove to stick in it." A gilt nutmeg is mentioned in the same piece, and on the same occasion. The use, however, of the orange, stuck with cloves, may be ascertained from the Seconde Booke of Notable Things, by Thomas Lupton, "Wyne wyll be pleasant in taste and savour, if an orenge or a lymon (stickt round about with cloaves) be hanged within the vessel that it touch not the wyae: and so the wyne wyll be preserved from foystiness and evyll savor." Reed's edition of Shakspeare, Love's Labour's Lost, v. 2. The quarto edition of that play, 1598, reads, "A gift nutmeg."

In a volume of Miscellanies, in the British Museum library, without title, printed in Queen Anne's time, p. 65, among "Merry Observations upon every month and every remarkable day throughout the whole year," under January it is said, "On the first day of this month will be given many [p.12] more gifts than will be kindly received or gratefully rewarded. Children, to their inexpressible joy, will be drest in their best bibs and aprons, and may be seen handed along streets, some bearing Kentish pippins, others oranges stuck with cloves, in order to crave a blessing of their godfathers and godmothers."

In Stephens's Characters, 8vo, Lond. 1631, p. 283, " Like an inscription with a fat goose against New Year's Tide."

Bishop Stillingfleet observes, that among the Saxons of the northern nations the Feast of the New Year was observed with more than ordinary jollity: thence, as Olaus Wormius and Scheffer observe, they reckon their age by so many Iolas:24 and Snorro Sturleson describes this New Year's Feast, just as Buchanan sets out the British Saturnalia, by feasting and sending presents or New Year's gifts to one another.25

In Westmoreland and Cumberland, "early on the morning of the 1st of January, the Fx Populi assemble together, carrying stangs and baskets. Any inhabitant, stranger, or whoever joins not this ruffian tribe in sacrificing to their favourite saint-day, if unfortunate enough to be met by any of the band, is immediately mounted across the stang (if a woman, she is basketed), and carried shoulder height to the nearest public-house, where the payment of sixpence immediately liberates the prisoner. None, though ever so industriously inclined, are permitted to follow their respective avocations on that day." Gent. Mag. 1791, p. 1169.26

The poet Naogeorgus is cited by Hospinian, as telling us, that it was usual in his time, for friends to present each other with a New Year's Gift; for the husband to give one to his wife; parents to their children; and masters to their ser- [p.13] vants, &c.; a custom derived to the Christian world from the times of Gentilism. The superstition condemned in this by the ancient fathers, lay in the idea of these gifts being considered as omens of success for the ensuing year. In this sense also, and in this sense alone, could they have censured the benevolent compliment of wishing each other a happy New Year. The latter has been adopted by the modern Jews, who, on the first day of the month Tisri, have a splendid entertainment, and wish each other a happy New Year. Hospinian also informs us that at Rome, on New Year's Day, no one would suffer a neighbour to take fire out of his house, or anything composed of iron; neither could he be prevailed upon to lend any article on that day.

The following is Barnabe Googe's translation of what relates to New Year's Day in Naogeorgus, better known by the name of "The Popish Kingdom," 1570.

"The next to this is NewYeare's Day, whereon to every frende
They costly presents in do bring, and Newe Yeare's Giftes do sende.
These giftes the husband gives his wife, and father eke the childe,
And maister on his men bestowes the like with favour milde;
And good beginning of the yeare they wishe and wishe againe,
According to the auncient guise of heathen people vaine.
These eight days no man doth require his dettes of any man,
Their tables do they furnish out with all the meate they can:
With marchpaynes, tartes, and custards great, they drink with staring eyes,
They rowte and revell, feede and feaste, as merry all as pyes:
As if they should at th' entrance of this New Yeare hap to' die,
Yet would they have their bellies full, and auncient friends allie."

Pennant tells us that the Highlanders, on New Year's Day, burn juniper before their cattle; and on the first Monday in every quarter sprinkle them with urine. Christie, in his "Inquiry into the ancient Greek Game, supposed to have been invented by Palamedes," 1801, p. 136, says, "The new year of the Persians was opened with agricultural ceremonies (as is also the case with the Chinese at the present day)."

The Festival of Fools at Paris, held on this day, continued for two hundred and forty years, when every kind of absurdity and indecency was committed.27



"At this instant," says Brand, "a little before twelve o'clock, on New Year's Eve, 1794, the bells in London are ringing in the New Year, as they call it." The custom is still continued.

In Scotland, upon the last day of the old year, the children go about from door to door asking for bread and cheese, which they call Nog-Money, in these words:

" Get up, gude wife, and binno sweir (i. e. be not lazy)
And deal your cakes and cheese while you are here ;
For the time will come when ye'll be dead,
And neither need your cheese nor bread."

It appears, from several passages in Nichols's Queen Elizabeth's Progresses, that it was anciently a custom at court, at this season, both for the sovereigns to receive and give New Year's Gifts. In the preface, p. 28, we read, " The only remains of this custom at court now is, that the two chaplains in waiting, on New Year's Day, have each a crown piece laid under their plates at dinner." [According to Nichols, the greatest part if not all of the peers and peeresses of the realm, all the bishops, the chief officers of state, and several of the Queen's household servants, even down to her apothecaries, master cooks, Serjeant of the pastry, &c., gave New Year's Gifts to Her Majesty, consisting, in general, either of a sum of money, or jewels, trinkets, wearing apparel, &c.

In the Banquet of Jests, 1634, is a story of Archee, the king's jester, who, having fooled many, was at length fooled himself. Coming to a nobleman's upon New Year's Day, to bid him good morrow, Archee received twenty pieces of gold, but, covetously desiring more, he shook them in his hand, and said they were too light. The donor answered, "I prithee, Archee, let me see them again, for there is one amongst them I would be loth to part with." Archee, expecting the sum to be [p.15] increased, returned the pieces to his lordship, who put them into his pocket with the remark, "I once gave money into a fool's hands who had not the wit to keep it."28]

Dr. Moresin tells us that in Scotland it was in his time the custom to send New Year's Gifts on New Year's Eve, but that on New Year's Day they wished each other a happy day, and asked a New Year's Gift. I believe it is still usual in Northumberland for persons to ask for a New Year's Gift on that day.

[On New Year's Day they have a superstition in Lincoln and its neighbourhood, that it is unlucky to take anything out of the house before they have brought something in: hence you will see, on the morning of that day, the individual members of a family taking a small piece of coal, or any inconsiderable thing in fact, into the house, for the purpose of preventing the misfortunes which would otherwise attach to them; and the rustics have a rhyme in which this belief is expressed:

"Take out, then take in,
Bad luck will begin;
Take in, then take out.
Good luck comes about."]

It appears from a curious MS. in the British Museum, of the date of 1560, that the boys of Eton school used, on the day of the Circumcision, at that time, to play for little New Year's Gifts before and after supper; and that the boys had a custom that day, for good luck's sake, of making verses, and sending them to the provost, masters, &c., as also of presenting them to each other.29


Sir Thomas Overbury, in his Characters, speaking of "a Timist," says, that "his New Yeare's Gifts are ready at Alhalomas, and the sute he meant to meditate before them."30

The title-page of a most rare tract in my library, entitled "Motives grounded upon the word of God, and upon honour, profit, and pleasure, for the present founding an University in the Metropolis, London; with Answers to such Objections as might be made by any (in their incogitancy) against the same," 1647, runs thus: "Humbly presented (instead of heathenish and superstitious New Yeare's Gifts) to the Eight Honourable the Lord Mayor, the right worshipfull the Aldermen, his brethren, and to those faithful and prudent citizens which were lately chosen by the said city to be of the Common Counsell thereof for this yeare insueng, viz. 1647; by a true Lover of his Nation, and especially of the said city."

In another rare tract, of an earlier date, entitled "Vox Graculi," 4to, 1623, p. 49, is the following, under "January:"

"This month drink you no wine commixt with dregs:
Eate capons, and fat hens, with dumpling legs."

"The first day of January being raw, colde, and comfortlesse to such as have lost their money at dice at one of the Temples over night, strange apparitions are like to be scene: Marchpanes marching betwixt Leaden-hall and the little Conduit in Cheape, in such aboundance that an hundred good [p.17] fellows may sooner starve than catch a corner or a comfit to sweeten their mouthes.

"It is also to be feared that through frailty, if a slip be made on the messenger's default that carries them, for non-delivery at the place appointed ; that unlesse the said messenger be not the more inward with his mistris, his master will give him ribrost for his New Yeare's Gift the next morning.

"This day shall be given many more gifts than shall be asked for, and apples, egges, and oranges, shall be lifted to a lofty rate; when a pome-water, bestucke with a few rotten cloves, shall be more worth than the honesty of an hypocrite; and halfe a dozen of egges of more estimation than the vowes of a strumpet. Poets this day shall get mightily by their pamphlets; for an hundred of elaborate lines shall be lesse esteemed in London, than an hundred of Walfleet oysters at Cambridge."

In the Monthly Miscellany for December, 1692, there is an Essay on New Year's Gifts, which states, that the Romans were "great observers of the custom of New Year's Gifts, even when their year consisted only of ten months, of thirty-six days each, and began in March; also, when January and February were added by Numa to the ten others, the calends or first of January were the time on which they made presents; and even Romulus and Tatius made an order that every year vervine should be offered to them with other gifts, as tokens of good fortune for the New Year. Tacitus makes mention of an order of Tiberius, forbidding the giving or demanding of New Year's Gifts, unless it were on the calends of January; at which time as well the senators as the knights and other great men brought gifts to the emperor, and, in his absence, to the Capitol. The ancient Druids, with great ceremonies, used to scrape off from the outside of oaks the misleden, which they consecrated to their great Tutates, and then distributed it to the people through the Gauls, on account of the great virtues which they attributed to it; from whence New Year's Gifts are still called in some parts of France, Guy-Van-neuf. Our English nobility, every New Year's tide, still send to the King a purse with gold in it. Reason may be joined to custom to justify the practice; for, as passages are drawn from the first things which are met on the beginning of a day, week, or year, none can be more pleasing than of those things that are given [p.18] us. We rejoice with our friends after having escaped the dangers that attend every year, and congratulate each other for the future by presents and wishes for the happy continuance of that course which the ancients called Strenarum Commercium. And as, formerly, men used to renew their hospitalities by presents, called Xenia, a name proper enough for our New Year's Gifts, they may be said to serve to renew friendship, which is one of the greatest gifts imparted by Heaven to men: and they who have always assigned some day to those things which they thought good, have also judged it proper to solemnize the Festival of Gifts, and, to show how much they esteemed it, in token of happiness, made it begin the year. The value of the thing given, or, if it is a thing of small worth, its novelty, or the excellency of the work, and the place where it is given, makes it the more acceptable, but above all, the time of giving it, which makes some presents pass for a mark of civility on the beginning of the year, that would appear unsuitable in another season."

Prynne, in his Histrio-Mastix, p. 755, has the following most severe invective against the Rites of New Years Day.

"If we now parallel our grand disorderly Christmasses with these Roman Saturnals and heathen festivals, or our New Yeare's Day (a chiefe part of Christmas) with their festivity of Janus, which was spent in mummeries, stageplayes, dancing, and such like enterludes, wherein fidlers and others acted lascivious effeminate parts, and went about their towns and cities in women's apparel; whence the whole Catholicke Church (as Alchuvinus with others write) appointed a solemn publike faste upon this our New Yeare's Day (which fast it seems is now forgotten), to bewaile those heathenish enterludes, sports, and lewd idolatrous practices which had been used on it: prohibiting all Christians, under pain of excommunication, from observing the calends, or first of January (which wee now call New Yeare's Day), as holy, and from sending abroad New Yeare's Gifts upon it (a custome now too frequent), it being a meere relique of paganisme and idolatry, derived from the heathen Romans' feast of two-faced Janus, and a practise so execrable unto Christians, that not onely the whole Catholicke Church, but even the four famous Councels of," &c. (here he makes a great parade of authorities) "have positively prohibited the solemnization of New Yeare's Day, and the sending [p.19] abroad of New Yeare's Gifts, under an anathema and excommunication."

In the Statistical Account of Scotland, 1793, vii. 488, Parishes of Cross, Burness, &c. county of Orkney, New Year's Gifts occur, under the title of "Christmas Presents," and as given to servant-maids by their masters. In the same work, p. 489, we read, "There is a large stone, about nine or ten feet high, and four broad, placed upright in a plain, in the Isle of North Ronaldshay; but no tradition is preserved concerning it, whether erected in memory of any signal event, or for the purpose of administering justice, or for religious worship. The writer of this (the parish priest) has seen fifty of the inhabitants assembled there, on the first day of the year, and dancing with moonlight, with no other music than their own singing." And again, in the same publication, 1795, xv. 201, the minister of Tillicoultry, in the county of Clackmannan, under the head of Diseases, says, "It is worth mentioning that one William Hunter, a collier, was cured in the year 1758 of an inveterate rheumatism or gout, by drinking freely of new ale, full of barm or yest. The poor man had been confined to his bed for a year and a half, having almost entirely lost the use of his limbs. On the evening of Handsel Monday, as it is called, (i.e. the first Monday of the New Year, O.S.), some of his neighbours came to make merry with him. Though he could not rise, yet he always took his share of the ale as it passed round the company, and, in the end, became much intoxicated. The consequence was, that he had the use of his limbs the next morning, and was able to walk about. He lived more than twenty years after this, and never had the smallest return of his old complaint." And again, in vol. v. p. 66, the minister of Moulin, in Perthshire, informs us, that "beside the stated fees, the master (of the parochial school there) receives some small gratuity, generally two-pence or three-pence, from each scholar, on Handsel Monday or Shrove-Tuesday."

Upon the Circumcision, or New Year's Day, the early Christians ran about masked, in imitation of the superstitions of the Gentiles. Against this practice Saint Maximus and Peter Chrysologus declaimed; whence in some of the very ancient missals we find written in the Mass for this day, [p.20] "Missa ad prohibendum ab Idolis." See Maeri Hiero-Lexicon, p. 156.

[It is a saying still heard in the North of England,

At New Year's tide,
The days lengthen a cock's stride.


If the grass grows in Janiveer,
It grows the worse for't all the year.

According to the Shepherd's Kalender, 1709, p. 16, "if New Year's Day in the morning open with duskey red clouds, it denotes strifes and debates among great ones, and many robberies to happen that year."

Opening the Bible on this day is a superstitious practice still in common use in some parts of the country, and much credit is attached to it. It is usually set about with some little solemnity on the morning before breakfast, as the ceremony must be performed fasting. The Bible is laid on the table unopened, and the parties who wish to consult it are then to open it in succession. They are not at liberty to choose any particular part of the book, but must open it at random. Wherever this may happen to be, the inquirer is to place his finger on any chapter contained in the two open pages, but without any previous perusal or examination. The chapter is then read aloud, and commented upon by the people assembled. It is believed that the good or ill fortune, the happiness or misery of the consulting party, during the ensuing year, will be in some way or other described and foreshown by the contents of the chapter.

Never allow any to take a light out of your house on New Year's Day; a death in the household, before the expiration of the year, is sure to occur if it be allowed.

If a female is your first visitant, and be permitted to enter your house on the morning of New Year's Day, it portendeth ill-luck for the whole year.

Never throw any ashes, or dirty water, or any article, however worthless, out of your house on this day. It betokens ill-luck; but you may bring in as many honestly gotten goods as you can procure.]



THIS day, which is well known to be called the Twelfth from its being the twelfth in number from the Nativity, is called also the Feast of the Epiphany, from a Greek word signifying manifestation, our Lord having been on that day made manifest to the Gentiles. This, as Bourne observes, is one of the greatest of the twelve, and of more jovial observation for the visiting of friends, and Christmas gambols. "With some," according to this author, "Christmas ends with the twelve days, but with the generality of the vulgar, not till Candlemas." Dugdale, in his Origines Juridiciales, p. 286, speaking of "Orders for Government Gray's Inne," cites an order of 4 Car. I. (Nov. 17), that "all playing at dice, cards or otherwise, in the hall, buttry, or butler's chamber, should be thenceforth barred and forbidden at all times of the year, the twenty days in Christmas only excepted." The following extract from Collier's Ecclesiastical History, i. 163, seems to account in a satisfactory manner for the name of Twelfth Day. "In the days of King Alfred a law was made with relation to holidays, by virtue of which the twelve days after the Nativity of our Saviour were made Festivals."

From the subsequent passage in Bishop Hall's Satires, 1598, p. 67, the whole twelve days appear to have been dedicated to feasting and jollity:

"Except the twelve days, or the wake-day feast,
What time he needs must be his cosen's guest."31

The customs of this day vary in different countries, yet agree in the same end, that is to do honour to the Eastern Magi, who are supposed to have been of royal dignity. In France, while that country had a court and king, one of the courtiers was chosen king, and the other nobles attended on this day at an entertainment. "Of these Magi, or Sages (vulgarly called the three Kings of Colen), the first, named, Melchior, an aged man with a long beard, offered gold; the second, Jasper, a beardless youth, offered frankincense; the [p.22] third, Balthasar, a black or Moor, with a large spreading beard, offered myrrh, according to this distich

"Tres Reges Regi Regum tria dona ferebant ;
Myrrham Homini, Uncto Aurum, Thura dedere Deo."
                                        Festa Anglo-Romana, p. 7

The dedication of The Bee-hive of the Romish Church concludes thus: "Datum in our Musseo the 5th of January, being the even of the three Kings of Collen, at which time all good Catholiks make merry and crie 'The King drinkes.' In anno 1569. Isaac Rabbolence, of Loven." Selden, in his Table Talk, p. 20, says, "Our chusing Kings and Queens on Twelfth Night has reference to the three Kings."

[According to Blount, the inhabitants of Staffordshire made a fire on the eve of Twelfth Day, "in memory of the blazing-star that conducted the three Magi to the manger at Bethlem." See Halliwell's Dictionary, p. 184.]

At the end of the year 1792, the Council-general of the Commons at Paris passed an arrt, in consequence of which "La Fete de Rois" (Twelfth Day) was thenceforth to be called "La Fte de Sans-Culottes." It was called an anti-civic feast, which made every priest that kept it a Royalist.

There is a very curious account in Le Roux, Dictionnaire Cornique, tome ii. p. 431, of the French ceremony of the "Roi de la Feve," which explains Jordaens' fine picture of "Le Roi boit." See an account of this custom in Busalde de Verville, Palais des Curieux, edit. 1612, p. 90, and also Pasquier, Recherches de la France, p. 375. Among the Cries of Paris, a poem composed by Guillaume de Villeneuve in the thirteenth century, printed at the end of Barbasan's Ordene de Chevalerie, Beans for Twelfth Day are mentioned, "Gastel a feve orrois crier."

To the account given by Le Roux of the French way of choosing King and Queen, may be added that in Normandy they place a child under the table, which is covered in such a manner with the cloth that he cannot see what is doing; and when the cake is divided, one of the company taking up the first piece, cries out, "Fabe Domini pour qui?" The child answers, "Pour le bon Dieu:" and in this manner the pieces are allotted to the company. If the bean be found in piece for the "bon Dieu," the king is chosen by drawing [p.23] long or short straws. Whoever gets the bean chooses the King or Queen, according as it happens to be a man or woman. Sir Thomas Urquhart, of Cromarty, in his curious work, entitled The Discovery of a most exquisite jewel, found in the kennel of Worcester streets, the day after the fight, 1651, says, p. 237, "Verily, I think they make use of Kings as the French on the Epiphany-day use their Roy de la fehve, or King of the Bean; whom after they have honoured with drinking of his health, and shouting aloud, 'Le Roy boit, Le Roy boit,' they make pay for all the reckoning; not leaving him sometimes one peny, rather than the exorbitancie of their debosh should not be satisfied to the full." In a curious book, entitled A World of Wonders, fol. Lond. 1607, we read, p. 189, of a Curate, "who having taken his preparations over evening, when all men cry (as the manner is) the King drinketh, chanting his Masse the next morning, fell asleep in his memento: and when he awoke, added with a loud voice, the King drinketh."

In Germany they observed nearly the same rites in cities and academies, where the students and citizens chose one of their own number for king, providing a most magnificent banquet on the occasion.

The choosing of a person king or queen by a bean found in a piece of a divided cake, was formerly a common Christmas gambol in both the English universities.32 Thomas Randolph, in a curious letter to Dudley, Lord Leicester, dated Edin. 15 Jan. 1563, mentions Lady Flemyng being "Queene of the Bene" on Twelfth Day. Pinkerton's Ancient Scot. Poems, ii. 431.

When the King of Spain told the Count Olivarez, that John, Duke of Braganza, had obtained the kingdom of Portugal, he slighted it, saying that he was but Rey de Havas, a bean-cake King (a King made by children on Twelfth Night). Seward's Anecdotes, iii. 317.

The bean appears to have made part of the ceremony on [p.24] choosing king and queen in England; thus, in Ben Jonson's Masque of Christmas, the character of Baby-Cake is attended by "an usher bearing a great cake with a bean and a pease."

Misson, in his Travels in England, translated by Ozell, p. 34, tells us, in a note, "On Twelfth Day they divide the cake, alias choose King and Queen, and the King treats the rest of the company."

Anstis, in his Collections relative to the Court of Chivalry, among the Addit. MSS. in the British Museum, i. 93, says, "The practisers of the Parliaments or Courts of Justice in France chose a governor among them, whom they styled Roy de Basoche, which calls to remembrance the custom observed in our Inns of Court, of electing a king on Christmas Day, who assumed the name of some fancied kingdom, and had officers with splendid titles to attend on him. Answerable hereto some of our colleges in Oxford did, from the time of their first foundation, annually choose a Lord at Christmas, styled in their registers Rex Fabarum, and Rex regni Fabarum, which was continued down to the Reformation of Religion, and probably had that appellation because he might be appointed by lot, wherein beans were used, as the Roy de la Febue on the feast of the Three Kings, or Twelfth Day, was the person who had that part of the cake wherein the bean was placed."

In the ancient calendar of the Romish church I find an observation on the fifth day of January, the eve or vigil of the Epiphany, "Kings created or elected by beans." The sixth is called "The Festival of Kings," with this additional remark, "that this ceremony of electing kings was continued with feasting for many days." There was a custom similar to this on the festive days of Saturn among the Romans, Grecians, &c. Persons of the same rank drew lots for kingdoms, and, like kings, exercised their temporary authority. (Alex, ab Alexandro, b. ii. ch. 22.)

The learned Moresin observes, that our ceremony of choosing a king on the Epiphany, or feast of the Three Kings, is practised about the same time of the year; and that he is called the Bean King, from the lot. This custom is practised nowhere that I know of at present in the north of England, though still very prevalent in the south. I find the following description of it in the Universal Magazine, 1774.


After tea a cake is produced, and two bowls, containing the fortunate chances for the different sexes. The host fills up the tickets, and the whole company, except the king and queen, are to be ministers of state, maids of honour, or ladies of the bedchamber. Often, the host and hostess, more by design perhaps than accident, become king and queen. According to Twelfth-day law, each party is to support his character till midnight.33

In Ireland "On Twelve-Eve in Christmas, they use to set up as high as they can a sieve of oats, and in it a dozen of candles set round, and in the centre one larger, all lighted. This in memory of our Saviour and his Apostles, lights of the world." Sir Henry Piers's Description of the County of Westmeath, 1682, in Vallancey's Collectanea de Rebus Hibernicis, vol. i. No. 1, p. 124.

A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine, vol. xxxiv. Dec. 1764, p. 599, thinks the practice of choosing king and queen on Twelfth Night owes it origin to the custom among the [p.26] Romans, which they took from the Grecians, of casting dice who should be the Rex Convivii: or, as Horace calls him, the Arbiter Bibendi. Whoever threw the lucky cast, which they termed Venus or Basilicus, gave laws for the night. In the same manner the lucky clown, who out of the several divisions of a plum-cake draws the king, thereby becomes sovereign of the company; and the poor clodpole, to whose lot the knave falls, is as unfortunate as the Roman, whose hard fate it was to throw the damnosum Caniculum.

It appears that the twelfth cake was made formerly full of plums, and with a bean and a pea: whoever got the former, was to be king ; whoever found the latter, was to be queen. Thus in Herrick's Hesperides, p. 376:

"Twelfe Night, or King and Queene.

    "Now, now the mirth comes
    With the cake full of plums,
Where beane's the king of the sport here;
    Besides we must know,
    The pea also
Must revell, as queene, in the court here.

    Begin then to chuse,
    (This night as ye use)
Who shall for the present delight here,
    Be a king be the lot,
    And who shall not,
Be Twelfe-day queene for the night here:

    Which knowne, let us make
    Joy-sops with the cake;
And let not a man then be seen here,
    Who unurg'd will not drinke
    To the base from the brink
A health to the king and the queene here.

    Next crowne the bowle full
    With gentle lamb's-wooll;
Adde sugar, nutmeg, and ginger,
    With store of ale too;
    And thus ye must doe
To make the Wassaile a swinger.

    Give them to the king
    And queene wassailing;
And though with the ale ye be whet here
    Yet part ye from hence,
    As free from offence,
As when ye innocent met here."


And at p. 271 we find the subsequent:

"For sports, for pagentrie, and playes,
Thou hast thy eves and holidayes:
Thy wakes, thy quintels, here thou hast,
Thy May-poles too, with garlands grac't:
Thy Morris-dance; thy Whitsun ale;
Thy shearing feast, which never faile.
Thy Harvest Home; thy Wassaile Bowie,
That's tost up after Fox-i'-th'-Hole;
Thy mummeries: thy twelfe-tide kings
And queens
: thy Christmas revellings."

So also in Nichols's Queen Elizabeth's Progresses, "Speeches to the Queen at Sudley," ii. 8,

"Melibaus. Nisa.

"Mel. Cut the cake: who hath the beane shall be king;
and where the pease is, shee shall be queene.
"Nis. I have the peaze, and must be Queene.
"Mel. I the beane, and king; I must commaunde."

Thus p. 146, ibid., we read

"Of Twelfe-tide cakes, of peas and heanes,
Wherewith ye make those merry scenes,
Whenas ye chuse your king and queene,
And cry out, Hey for our town green."

In the Popish Kingdome, Barnabe Googe's Translation, or rather Adaptation of Naogeorgus, f. 45, we have the following lines on "Twelfe Day:"

"The wise men's day here followeth, who out from Persia farre
Brought gifts and presents unto Christ, conducted hy a starre.
The Papistes do beleeve that these were kings, and so them call,
And do affirme that of the same there were but three in all.
Here sundrie friends together come, and meet in companie,
And make a king amongst themselves by voyce or destinie:
Who after princely guise appoyntes his officers alway,
Then unto feasting doe they go, and long time after play:
Upon their hordes in order thicke the daintie dishes stande,
Till that theire purses emptie be, and creditors at hande.
Their children herein follow them, and choosing princes here,
With pomp and great solemnitie, they meete and make good chere.
With money eyther got by stealth, or of their parents eft,
That so they may be traynde to know both ryot here and theft.
Then also every householder, to his abilitie,
Doth make a mightie cake, that might suffice his companie:


Herein a pennie doth be put before it come to fire,
This he divides according as his householde doth require,
And every peece distributeth, as round about they stand,
Which in their names unto the poore is given out of hand:
But who so chaunceth on the piece wherein the money lies,
Is counted king amongst them all, and is with showtes and cries
Exalted to the heavens up, who taking chalke in hande,
Doth make a crosse on every beame, and rafters as they stande:
Great force and powre have these agaynst all injuryes and harmes
Of cursed devils, sprites, and bugges, of conjurings and charmes.
So much this King can do, so much the crosses bring to passe,
Made by some servant, maide, or childe, or by some foolish asse.
Twice sixe nightes then from Christmasse, they do count with diligence,
Wherein eche maister in his house both burne up frankensence;
And on the table settes a loafe, when night approcheth nere,
Before the coles, and frankensence to be perfumed there:
First bowing down his heade he standes, and nose, and eares, and eyes,
He smokes, and with his mouth receyves the fume that doth arise:
Whom followeth straight his wife, and doth the same full solemnly,
And of their children every one, and all their family:
Which doth pi-eserve they say their teeth, and nose, and eyes, and eare,
From every kind of maladie and sicknesse all the yeare:
When every one receyved hath this odour, great and small,
Then one takes up the pan with coales and franckensence and all,
Another takes the loafe, whom all the reast do follow here,
And round about the house they go, with torch or taper clere,
That neither bread not meat do want, not witch with dreadful charme,
Have powre to hurt their children, or to do their cattell harme.
There are that three nightes onely do perfourme this foolish geare,
To this intent, and thinke themselves in safetie all the yeare.
To Christ dare none commit himselfe. And in these dayes beside,
They judge what weather all the yeare shall happen and betide:
Ascribing to each day a month, and at this present time,
The youth in every place doe flocke, and all apparel'd fine,
With pypars through the streets they runne, and sing at every dore,
In commendation of the man, rewarded well therefore:
Which on themselves they do bestowe, or on the church, as though
The people were not plagude with roges and begging friers enough.
There cities are, where boyes and gyrles together still do runne,
About the streets with like, as soon as night beginnes to come,
And bring abrode their Wassell Bowles, who well rewarded bee
With cakes and cheese, and great good cheare, and money plenteouslee."

In Gloucestershire there is a custom on Twelfth Day of having twelve small fires made, and one large one, in many parishes in that county, in honour of the day. In the Southams of Devonshire, on the eve of the Epiphany, the farmer, attended by his workmen, with a large pitcher of cider, goes [p.29] to the orchard, and there encircling one of the best bearing trees, they drink the following toast three several times:

"Here's to thee, old apple-tree,
Whence thou mayst bud, and whence thou mayst blow!
And whence thou mayst bear apples enow!
Hats full! caps full
Bushel bushel sacks full,
And my pockets full too! Huzza!"

This done, they return to the house, the doors of which they are sure to find bolted by the females, who, be the weather what it may, are inexorable to all intreaties to open them till some one has guessed at what is on the spit, which is generally some nice little thing, difficult to be hit on, and is the reward of him who first names it. The doors are then thrown open, and the lucky clodpole receives the tit-bit as his recompense. Some are so superstitious as to believe, that if they neglect this custom, the trees will bear no apples that year. See Gent. Mag. 1791, p. 403.

On the eve of Twelfth Day, as a Cornish man informed me on the edge of St. Stephen's Down, October 28, 1790, it is the custom for the Devonshire people to go after supper into the orchard, with a large milk-pan full of cider, having roasted apples pressed into it. Out of this each person in company takes what is called a clayen cup, i.e. an earthenware cup full of liquor, and standing under each of the more fruitful apple-trees, passing by those that are not good bearers, he addresses it in the following words:

"Health to thee, good apple-tree,
Well to bear pocket-fulls, hat-fulls,
Peck-fulls, bushel bag-fulls;"

And then drinking up part of the contents, he throws the rest, with the fragments of the roasted apples, at the tree. At each cup the company set up a shout.

So we read in the Glossary to the Exmoor dialect:

"Watsail, a drinking song, sung on Twelfth-day eve, throwing toast to the apple trees, in order to have a fruitful year, which seems to be a relic of the heathen sacrifice to Pomona."

[The following lines were obtained from this district, and probably form another version of the song above given,


"Apple-tree, apple-tree,
Bear apples for me:
Hats full, laps full,
Sacks full, caps full:
Apple-tree, apple-tree,
Bear apples for me."]

This seems to have been done in some places upon Christmas Eve; for in Herrick's Hesperides, p. 311, I find the following among the Christmas Eve ceremonies:

"Wassaile the trees, that they may beare
You many a plum and many a peare;
For more or lesse fruits they will bring,
As you do give them wassailing."

The same is done in Herefordshire, under the name of Wassailing, as follows: At the approach of the evening on the vigil of the Twelfth Day, the farmers, with their friends and servants, meet together, and about six o'clock walk out to a field where wheat is growing. In the highest part of the ground, twelve small fires, and one large one, are lighted up. The attendants, headed by the master of the family, pledge the company in old cider, which circulates freely on these occasions. A circle is formed round the large fire, when a general shout and hallooing takes place, which you hear answered from all the adjacent villages and fields. Sometimes fifty or sixty of these fires may be all seen at once. This being finished, the company return home, where the good housewife and her maids are preparing a good supper. A large cake is always provided, with a hole in the middle. After supper, the company all attend the bailiff (or head of the oxen) to the wain-house, where the following particulars are observed: The master, at the head of his friends, fills the cup (generally of strong ale), and stands opposite the first or finest of the oxen. He then pledges him in a curious toast: the company follow his example, with all the other oxen, and addressing each by his name. This being finished, the large cake is produced, and, with much ceremony, put on the horn of the first ox, through the hole above-mentioned. The ox is then tickled, to make him toss his head: if he throw the cake behind, then it is the mistress's perquisite; if before (in what is termed the boosy), the bailiff himself claims the prize. The company then return to the house, the doors of which they find locked, nor will they be [p.31] opened till some joyous songs are sung. On their gaining admittance, a scene of mirth and jollity ensues, which lasts the greatest part of the night. Gent. Mag. Feb. 1791.

Pennant, in his Tour in Scotland, giving an account of this custom, says, "that after they have drank a chearful glass to their master's health, success to the future harvest, &c., then returning home, they feast on cakes made of carraways, &c., soaked in cyder, which they claim as a reward for their past labours in sowing the grain. This," he observes, "seems to resemble a custom of the ancient Danes, who, in their addresses to their rural deities, emptied on every invocation a cup in honour of them."

In the Gentleman's Magazine for February, 1784, p. 98, Mr. Beckwith tells us that "near Leeds, in Yorkshire, when he was a boy, it was customary for many families, on the Twelfth Eve of Christmas, to invite their relations, friends, and neighbours to their houses, to play at cards, and to partake of a supper, of which minced pies were an indispensable ingredient: and after supper was brought in, the Wassail Cup or Wassail Bowl, of which every one partook, by taking with a spoon, out of the ale, a roasted apple, and eating it, and then drinking the healths of the company out of the bowl, wishing them a merry Christmas and a happy new year. (The festival of Christmas used in this part of the country to hold for twenty days, and some persons extended it to Candlemas.) The ingredients put into the bowl, viz., ale, sugar, nutmeg, and roasted apples, were usually called Lambs' Wool, and the night on which it used to be drunk (generally on the Twelfth Eve) was commonly called Wassail Eve" This custom is now disused.

A Nottinghamshire correspondent (ibid.) says, "that when he was a schoolboy, the practice on Christmas Eve was to roast apples on a string till they dropt into a large bowl of spiced ale, which is the whole composition of Lambs' Wool." It is probable that from the softness of this popular beverage it has gotten the above name. See Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream,

"Sometimes lurk I in a gossip's bowl,
In very likeness of a roasted crab;
And when she drinks, against her lips I bob,
And on her wither'd dew-lap pour the ale."


In Vox Graculi, 4to. 1623, p. 52, speaking of the sixth of January, the writer tells us, "This day, about the houres of 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 ; yea, in some places till midnight well nigh, will be such a massacre of spice-bread, that, ere the next day at noone, a two-penny browne loafe will set twenty poore folkes teeth on edge. Which hungry humour will hold so violent, that a number of good fellowes will not refuse to give a statute marchant of all the lands and goods they enjoy, for halfe-a-crowne's worth of two-penny pasties. On this night much masking in the Strand, Cheapside, Holburne, or Fleet-street."

Waldron, in his Description of the Isle of Man (Works, p. 155), says, "There is not a barn unoccupied the whole twelve days, every parish hiring fiddlers at the public charge. On Twelfth Day the fiddler lays his head in some one of the wenches' laps, and a third person asks who such a maid or such a maid shall marry, naming the girls then present one after another ; to which he answers according to his own whim, or agreeable to the intimacies he has taken notice of during this time of merriment. But whatever he says is as absolutely depended on as an oracle; and if he happen to couple two people who have an aversion to each other, tears and vexation succeed the mirth. This they call cutting off the fiddler's head; for after this he is dead for the whole year."

In a curious collection, entitled Wit a sporting in a pleasant Grove of New Fancies, by H. B. 8vo. Lond. 1657, p. 80, I find the following description of the pleasantries of what is there called

St. Distaff's Day, or the Morrow after Twelfth-Day.

"Partly worke and partly play,
You must on St. Distaff's Day:
From the plough soon free your teame;
Then come home and fother them:
If the maides a spinning goe,
Burne the flax and fire the tow;
Scorch their plackets, but beware
That ye singe no maiden haiie.
Bring in pales of water then,
Let the maids bewash the men.


Give St. Distaff all the right:
Then give Christmas-sport good night.
And next morrow every one
To his owne vocation."34

[In the parish of Pauntley, a village on the borders of the county of Gloucester, next Worcestershire, and in the neighbourhood, a custom prevails, which is intended to prevent the smut in wheat. On the eve of Twelfth-day, all the servants of every farmer assemble together in one of the fields that has been sown with wheat. At the end of twelve lands, they make twelve fires in a row with straw, around one of which, made larger than the rest, they drink a cheerful glass of cider
to their master's health, and success to the future harvest; then, returning home, they feast on cakes soaked in cider, which they claim as a reward for their past labours in sowing the grain.]

It may rather seem to belong to religious than popular customs to mention, on the authority of the Gentleman's Magazine for January, 1731, p. 25, that at the Chapel-Royal at St. James's, on Twelfth Day that year, "the king and the prince made the offerings at the altar of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, according to custom. At night their majesties, &c., played at hazard for the benefit of the groom-porter."

Feb. 18, 1839, Edward Hawkins, Esq., of the British Museum, showed to the editor (Sir Henry Ellis) a silver token or substitute for money, marked to the amount of ten pounds, which appears to have passed among the players for the groom-porter's benefit at Basset. It is within the size of a half-crown, one inch and a half in diameter. In the centre of the obverse within an inner circle is L X: Legend round, AT . THE . GROOM . PORTERS . BASSETT. Mint-mark, a fleur-de-lis. On the reverse, a wreath issuing from the sides of, and surmounting, a gold coronet : the coronet being of gold let in. Legend, NOTHING . VENTURE . NOTHING . WINNS. Mint-mark, again, a fleur-de-lis. Brand Hollis had one of these pieces. They are of very rare occurrence.

The groom-porter was formerly a distinct officer in the lord-steward's department of the royal household. His [p.34] business was to see the king's lodgings furnished with tables, chairs, stools, and firing ; as also to provide cards, dice, &c., and to decide disputes arising at cards, dice, bowling, &c. From allusions in some of Ben Jonson's and of Chapman's plays, it appears that he was allowed to keep an open gambling table at Christmas ; and it is mentioned as still existing in one of Lady Mary Montague's eclogues:

"At the groom-porters batter' d bullies play."
            Thursday. Ecl. iv. Dodsley's Collect, i. 107.

This abuse was removed in the reign of George III.; but Bray, in his Account of the Lord of Misrule, in Archaeologia, xviii. 317, says, George I. and II. played hazard in public on certain days, attended by the groom-porter. The appellation, however, is still kept up : the names of three groom-porters occurring among the inferior servants in the present enumeration of her Majesty's household.


ST. AGNES was a Roman virgin and martyr, who suffered in the tenth persecution under the Emperor Dioclesian, A.D. 306. She was condemned to be debauched in the public stews before her execution, but her virginity was miraculously preserved by lightning and thunder from heaven. About eight days after her execution, her parents, going to lament and pray at her tomb, saw a vision of angels, among whom was their daughter, and a lamb standing by her as white as snow, on which account it is that in every graphic representation of her there is a lamb pictured by her side.

On the eve of her day many kinds of divination were practised by virgins to discover their future husbands. [Dreams were the most ordinary media for making the desired discovery, and many allusions to the belief may be traced even in late works. The following notice of it occurs in Poor Robin's Almanack for 1734:


"Saint Agnes Day comes by and by,
When pretty maids do fast to try
Their sweethearts in their dreams to see,
Or know who shall their husbands be.
But some when married all is ore,
And they desire to dream no more,
Or, if they must have these extreams,
Wish all their sufferings were but dreams."

And in the same periodical for the previous year, 1 733, we hfcve a similar account:

"Tho' Christmas pleasure now is gone,
St. Agnes' Fast is coming on;
When maids who fain would married be,
Do fast their sweethearts for to see.
This year it has come so about,
That Sunday shoves St. Agnes out:
But lovers who would fortunes tell,
May find her here, and that's as well."]

This is called fasting St. Agnes's Fast. The following lines of Ben Jonson allude to this:

And on sweet St. Anna's night
Please you with the promis'd sight,
Some of husbands, some of lovers,
Which an empty dream discovers.

Aubrey, in his Miscellanies, p. 136, directs that, "Upon St. Agnes's Night, you take a row of pins, and pull out every one, one after another, saying a paternoster, sticking a pin in your sleeve, and you will dream of him or her you shall marry."35

Burton, in his Anatomy of Melancholy (ed. 1660, p. 538), speaks of Maids fasting on St. Agnes's Eve, to know who shall be their first husband. In Cupid's Whirligig, 1616, iii. 1, Pag says, "I could find in my heart to pray nine times [p.36] to the moone, and fast three St. Agnes's Eves, so that I might bee sure to have him to my husband."36

The following is the account of this festival, as preserved in the Translation of Naogeorgus, f. 46:

"Then commes in place St. Agnes' Day, which here in Germanie
Is not so much esteemde nor kept with such solemnitie:
But in the Popish Court it standes in passing hie degree,
As spring and head of wondrous gaine, and great commoditee.
For in St. Agnes' church upon this day while masse they sing,
Two lambes as white as snowe the nonnes do yearely use to bring
And when the Agnus chaunted is upon the aulter hie,
(For in this thing there hidden is a solemne mysterie)
They offer them. The servants of the pope, when this is done,
Do put them into pasture good till shearing time be come.
Then other wooll they mingle with these holy fleeces twaine,
Wherof, being sponne and drest, are made the pals of passing 1 gaine."

A passage not unsimilar occurs in The Present State of the Manners, &c. of France and Italyin Poetical Epistles to Robert Jephson, Esq., 8vo. Lond. 1794, from Rome, February, 14, 1793, p. 58.

St. Agnes's Shrine.

"Where each pretty Ba-lamb most gayly appears,
With ribands stuck round on its tail and its ears;
On gold fringed cushions they're stretch'd out to eat,
And piously ba, and to church-musick bleat;
Yet to me they seem'd crying alack, and alas!
What's all this white damask to daisies and grass!
Then they're brought to the pope, and with transport they're kiss'd,
And receive consecration from Sanctity's fist:
To chaste nuns he consigns them, instead of their dams,
And orders the friars to keep them from rams."


[The present rural address to the saint, as still heard in Durham, is as follows:

"Fair Saint Agnes, play thy part,
And send to me my own sweetheart,
Not in his best nor worst array,
But in the clothes he wears every day;
That to-morrow I may him ken,
From among all other men."

A curious old chap-book, called Mother Bunch's Closet newly Broke Open, has several notices of the St. Agnes divination: "On that day thou must be sure that no man salute thee, nor kiss thee; I mean neither man, woman, nor child, must kiss thy lips on that day; and then, at night, before thou goest into thy bed, thou must be sure to put on a clean shift, and the best thou hast, then the better thou mayst speed. And when thou liest down, lay thy right hand under thy head, saying these words, Now the god of Love send me my desire; make sure to sleep as soon as thou canst, and thou shalt be sure to dream of him who shall be thy husband, and see him stand before thee, and thou wilt take great notice of him and his complexion, and, if he offers to salute thee, do not deny him." And again, in the same tract, "There is, in January, a day called Saint Agnes' Day. It is always the one and twentieth of that month. This Saint Agnes had a great favour for young men and maids, and will bring unto their bedside, at night, their sweethearts, if they follow this rule as I shall declare unto thee. Upon this day thou must be sure to keep a true fast, for thou must not eat or drink all that day, nor at night; neither let any man, woman, or child kiss thee that day; and thou must be sure, at night, when thou goest to bed, to put on a clean shift, and the best thou hast the better thou mayst speed; and thou must have clean deaths on thy head, for St. Agnes does love to see clean cloaths when she comes; and when thou liest down on thy back as streight as thou canst, and both thy hands are laid underneath thy head, then say,

Now, good St. Agnes, play thy part,
And send to me my own sweetheart,
And shew me such a happy hliss,
This night of him to have a kiss.

And then be sure to fall asleep as soon as thou canst, and [p.38] before thou awakest out of thy first sleep thou shalt see him come and stand before thee, and thou shalt perceive by his habit what tradesman he is; but be sure thou declarest not thy dream to anybody in ten days, and by that time thou mayst come to see thy dream come to pass."

Mr. Hone has preserved a curious charm for the ague, which is said to be only efficacious on St. Agnes' s Eve. It is to be said up the chimney by the eldest female in the family:

"Tremble and go!
First day shiver and burn
Tremble and quake!
Second day shiver and learn;
Tremble and die!
Third day never return."]


MR. DOUCE' s manuscript notes say, "Vincenti festo si Sol radiet memor esto;" thus Englished by Abraham Fleming:

"Remember on St. Vincent's Day,
If that the sun his beams display."
        Scott's Discov. of Witchcraft, b. xi. c. 15.

[Dr. Foster is at a loss to account for the origin of the command; but he thinks it may have been derived from a notion that the sun would not shine unominously on the day on which the saint was burnt.]



I DO not find that any one has even hazarded a conjecture why prognostications of the weather, &c., for the whole year, are to be drawn from the appearance of this day.37

Lloyd, in his Diall of Daies, observes on St. Paul's, that "of this day the husbandmen prognosticate the whole year: if it be a fair day, it will be a pleasant year; if it be windy, there will be wars; if it be cloudy, it doth foreshow the plague that year." In the ancient calendar quoted below,38 I find an observation on the thirteenth of December, "That on this day prognostications of the months were drawn for the whole year." "Prognostica mensium per totum annum."

In the Shepherd's Almanack for 1676, among the observations on the month of January we find the following: "Some say that, if on the 12th of January the sun shines, it foreshows much wind. Others predict by St. Paul's Day; saying, if the sun shine, it betokens a good year; if it rain or snow, indifferent; if misty, it predicts great dearth; if it thunder, great winds and death of people that year."39

Hospinian, also, tells us that it is a critical day with the vulgar, indicating, if it be clear, abundance of fruits ; if windy, foretelling wars; if cloudy, the pestilence; if rainy or snowy, it prognosticates dearness and scarcity: according to the old Latin verses, thus translated in Bourne's Antiquities of the Common People:


"If St. Paul's Day be fair and clear,
It doth betide a happy year;
If blustering winds do blow aloft,
Then wars will trouble our realm full oft;
And if it chance to snow or rain,
Then will be dear all sorts of grain."

The Latin is given differently in Hearne's edition of Robert of Avesbury's History of Edward III., p. 266:

"Clara dies Pauli bona tempora denotat anni.
Si nix vel pluvia, designat tempora cara.
Se fiant nebulae, morientur bestia quaeque.
Se fiant venti, praeliabunt praelia genti."40

Thus translated (ibid.) under the title of "The Saying of Erra Pater to the Husbandman:"

"If the day of St. Paule be cleere,
Then shall betide an happie yeere:
If it doe chaunce to snow or raine.
Then shall bee deare all kinde of graine.
But if the winde then bee alofte,
Warres shall vex this realme full oft:
And if the cloudes make dark the skie,
Both neate and fowle this yeare shall die."41


Willsford, in his Nature's Secrets, p. 145, tells us, "Some observe the 25th day of January, celebrated for the conversion of St. Paul; if fair and clear, plenty; if cloudy or misty, much cattle will die: if rain or snow fall that day, it presages a dearth ; and if windy, wars; as old wives do dream."

He gives the verses as follow:

"If St. Paul's Day be fair and clear,
It does betide a happy year;
But if it chance to snow or rain,
Then will be dear all kind of grain:
If clouds or mists do dark the skie,
Great store of birds and beasts shall die;
And if the winds do fly aloft,
Then wars shall vex the kingdome oft."

He farther informs us, that "Others observe the twelve days of Christmas, to foreshow the weather in all the twelve succeeding moneths respectively." A pleasant writer in the World, No. 10 (I believe the late Lord Orford), speaking on the alteration of the style, observes, "Who that hears the following verses, but must grieve for the shepherd and husbandman, who may have all their prognostics confounded, and be at a loss to know beforehand the fate of their markets? Antient sages sung

"If St. Paul be fair and clear,' &c."

Bishop Hall, in his Characters of Virtues and Vices, speaking of the superstitious man, observes that "Saint Paules Day and Saint Swithines, with the Twelve, are his oracles, which he dares believe against the almanacke." The prognostications on St. Paul's Day are thus elegantly modernized by Gay, in his Trivia:

"All superstition from thy breast repel,
Let cred'lous boys and prattling nurses tell
How, if the Festival of Paul be clear,
Plenty from lib'ral horn shall strow the year;
When the dark skies dissolve in snow or rain,
The lab'ring hind shall yoke the steer in vain
But if the threat'ning winds in tempests roar,
Then war shall bathe her wasteful sword in gore."

He concludes,

"Let no such vulgar tales debase thy mind,
Nor Paul nor S within rule the clouds and wind."


[The following notices are taken from the Book of Knowledge, 1703: "If, on New Year's Day, the clouds in the morning be red, it shall be an angry year, with much war and great tempests. If the sun shine on the 22nd of January, there shall be much wind. If it shine on St. Paul's Day, it shall be a fruitful year; and if it rain and snow, it shall be between both. If it be very misty, it betokeneth great dearth. If it thunder that day, it betokeneth great winds, and great death, especially amongst rich men, that year."]

Schenkius, in his treatise on Images, chap, xiii., says, it is a custom in many parts of Germany to drag the images of St. Paul and St. Urban to the river, if, on the day of their feast, it happens to be foul weather. Bourne observes, upon St. Paul's Day, "How it came to have this particular knack of foretelling the good or ill fortune of the following year, is no easy matter to find out. The monks, who were undoubtedly the first who made this wonderful observation, have taken care it should be handed down to posterity, but why or for what reason this observation was to stand good they have taken care to conceal. St. Paul did indeed labour more abundantly than all the apostles ; but never, that I heard, in the science of astrology. And why his day should therefore be a standing almanack to the world rather than the day of any other saint will be pretty hard to find out."42




THIS is called in the north of England the Wives' Feast Day. The name of Candlemas is evidently derived from the lights which were then distributed and carried about in procession.43

In the first volume of Proclamations, &c., folio, remaining in the Archives of the Society of Antiquaries of London, is preserved, p. 138, an original one, printed in black letter, and dated 26th February, 30 Hen. VIII, "concernyng rites and ceremonies to be used in due fourme in the Churche of Englande," in which we read as follows: "On Candelmas Daye it shall be declared that the bearynge of candels is done in the memorie of Christe, the spirituall lyghte, when Simeon dyd prophecye, as it is redde in the churche that daye." The same had been declared by a decree of Convocation. See Fuller's Church History, p. 222.

In Herbert's Country Parson, 12mo. Lond. 1675, third impression, p. 157, he tells us, "Another old custom (he had been speaking of processions) there is, of saying, when light is brought in, God sends us the light of Heaven; and the parson likes this very well. Light is a great blessing, and as great as food, for which we give thanks: and those that think this superstitious, neither know superstition nor themselves." This appears to be at this time totally forgotten. In the ancient calendar of the Romish Church, before cited, [p.44] I find the subsequent observations on the 2d of February, usually called Candlemas Day:

"Torches are consecrated.
Torches are given away for many days."

Pope Sergius, says Bacon, in his Reliques of Rome, fol. 164, "commanded that all the people should go on procession upon Candlemass Day, and carry candels about with them brenning in their hands in the year of our Lord 684." How this candle-bearing on Candlemas Day came first up, the author of our English Festival declareth in this manner: "Somtyme," saith he, "when the Romaines by great myght and royal power conquered all the world, they were so proude, that they forgat God, and made them divers gods after their own lust. And so among all they had a god that they called Mars, that had been tofore a notable knight in battayle; and so they prayed to hym for help, and for that they would speed the better of this knight, the people prayed and did great worship to his mother, that was called Februa, after which woman much people have opinion that the moneth February is called. Wherefore the second daie of thys moneth is Candlemass Day. The Romaines this night went about the city of Rome with torches and candles brenning in worship of this woman Februa, for hope to have the more helpe and succoure of her sonne Mars. Then there was a Pope that was called Sergius, and when he saw Christian people drawn to this false maumetry44 and untrue belief, he thought to undo this foule use and custom, and turn it unto God's worship and our Lady's, and gave commandment that all Christian people should come to church and offer up a candle brennyng, in the worship that they did to this woman Februa, and do worship to our Lady and to her sonne our Lord Jesus Christ. So that now this feast is solemnly hallowed thorowe all Christendome. And every Christian man and woman of covenable age is bound to come to church and offer up their candles, as though they were bodily with our Lady, hopyng for this reverence and worship, that they do to our Ladye, to have a great rewarde in heaven," &c.


The Festyvall adds, "A candell is made of weke and wexe; so was Crystes soule hyd within the manhode: also the fyre betokeneth the Godhede: also it betokeneth our Laydes moderhede and maydenhede, lyght with the fyre of love!" In Dunstan's Concord of Monastic Rules it is directed that, on the Purification of the Virgin Mary, the monks shall go in surplices to the church for candles, which shall be consecrated, sprinkled with holy water, and censed by the Abbot. Let every monk take a candle from the Sacrist, and light it. Let a procession be made, Thirds and Mass be celebrated, and the candles, after the offering, be offered to the priest." See Fosbroke's British Monachism, i. 28. A note adds: "Candlemas Day. The candles at the Purification were an exchange for the lustration of the Pagans, and candles were used from the parable of the wise virgins." (Alcuinus de Divinis Officiis; p. 231.)

It was anciently a custom for women in England to bear lights when they were churched, as appears from the following royal bon mot. William the Conqueror, by reason of sickness, kept his chamber a long time, whereat the French King, scoffing, said, "The King of England lyeth long in child-bed;" which when it was reported unto King William, he answered, "When I am churched, there shall be a thousand lights in France;" (alluding to the lights that women used to bear when they were churched:) and that he performed within a few daies after, wasting the French territories with fire and sword.45

In a most rare book entitled The Burnynge of Paules Church in London, 1561, and the 4 day of June, by Lyghtnynge, &c. 8vo. Lond. 1563, we read, "In Flaunders everye Saturdaye betwixt Christmas and Candlemas they eate flesh for joy, and have pardon for it, because our Layde laye so long in child-bedde say they. We here may not eat so: the Pope is not so good to us; yet surely it were a good reason that we should eat fleshe with them all that while that our Lady lay in child-bed, as that we shuld bear our candel at her churchinge at Candlemas with theym as they doe. It is seldome sene that men offer candels at women's churchinges, eavinge at our Ladies: but reason it is that she have some [p.46] preferement, if the Pope would be so good maister to us as to let us eat fleshe with theym."

In Lysons' Environs of London, i. 310, among his curious extracts from the churchwardens' accounts at Lambeth, I find the following: "1519. Paid for Smoke Money at Seynt Mary's Eve, 0. 2. 6." This occurs again in 1521. "Paid by my Lord of Winchester's scribe for Smoke Money, 0. 2. 6."

The following is Barnabe Googe's Translation of Naogeorgus, in the Popish Kingdome, f. 47:

"Then comes the day wherein the Virgin offered Christ unto
The Father chiefe, as Moyses law commanded hir to do.
Then numbers great of tapers large both men and women beare
To church, being halowed there with pomp, and dreadful words to heare.
This done, eche man his candell lightes where chiefest seemeth hee,
Whose taper greatest may be scene, and fortunate to bee;
Whose candell burneth cleare and bright, a wondrous force and might
Doth in these candels lie, which if at any time they light,
They sure beleve that neyther storme or tempest dare abide,
Nor thunder in the skies be heard, nor any devil's spide,
Nor fearefulle sprites that walke by night, nor hurts of frost or haile."

We read in Wodde's Dialogue, cited more particularly under Palm Sunday, "Wherefore serveth holye candels? (Nicholas). To light up in thunder, and to blesse men when they lye a dying "46 Thomas Legh, in a letter to Lord Cromwell, of the time of Henry VIII. (MS. Cotton. Nero.. iii. f. 115), finishes, "Valete Hamburgise in fasto Purificationis Beatee Marise quo Candelas accensas non videbam, satis tamen clara dies."

In some of the ancient illuminated Calendars a woman holding a taper in each hand is represented in the month of February. In the Doctrine of the Masse Booke, &c. from Wyttonburge by Nicholas Dorcaster, 1554, 8vo. we find

"The Hallowing of Candles upon Candlemas Day."

The Prayer. "O Lord Jesu Christ, I-blesse thou this creature of a waxen taper at our humble supplication, and by the vertue of the holy crosse, pour thou into it an heavenly [p.47] benediction; that as thou hast graunted it unto man's use for the expelling of darkness, it may receave such a strength and blessing, thorow the token of the holy crosse, that in what places soever it be lighted or set, the Devil may avoid out of those habitations, and tremble for feare, and fly away discouraged, and presume no more to unquiet them that serve thee, who with God," &c. Then follow other prayers, in which occur these passages: "We humbly beseech thee, that thou wilt vouchsafe + to blesse and sanctify these candela prepared unto the uses of men, and health of bodies and soules, as wel on the land as in the waters." "Vouchsafe + to blesse and + sanctifye, and with the candle of heavenly benediction, to lighten these tapers; which we thy servants taking in the honour of thy name (when they are lighted) desire to beare," &c. "Here let the candles be sprinkled with holy water." Concluding with this rubrick: "When the halowyng of the candels is done, let the candels be lighted and distributed."

In Bishop Bonner's Injunctions, A.D. 1555, printed that year by John Cawood, 4to. we read, "that bearyng of candels on Candelmasse Daie is doone in the memorie of our Saviour Jesu Christe, the spirituall lyght, of whom Sainct Symeon dyd prophecie, as it is redde in the church that day." The ceremony, however, had been previously forbidden in the metropolis: for in Stowe's Chronicle, edited by Howes, ed. 1631, p. 595, we find, "On the second of February, 1547-8, being the Feast of the Purification of our Lady, commonly Candlemasse Day, the bearing of candles in the church was left off throughout the whole citie of London."

At the end of a curious sermon, entitled "the Vanitie and Downefall of the superstitious Popish Ceremonies, preached in the Cathedral Church of Durham, by one Peter Smart, a Prebend there, July 27, 1628, Edinb. 1628, I find, in "a briefe but true historicall narration of some notorious acts and speeches of Mr. John Cosens," (Bishop of Durham,) the following: "Fourthly, on Candlemass Day last past, Mr. Cosens, in renuing that Popish ceremonie of burning candles, to the honour of our Ladye, busied himself from two of the clocke in the afternoone till foure, in climbing long ladders to stick up wax candles in the said cathedral church: the number of all the candles burnt that evening was two hun- [p.48] dred and twenty, besides sixteen torches: sixty of those burning tapers and torches standing upon and near the high altar (as he calls it,) where no man came nigh."

In Nichols's Churchwardens' Accompts, 1797, p. 270, in those of St. Martin Outwich, London, under the year 1510, is the following article: "Paid to Randolf Merchaunt, wexchandiler, for the Pascall, the Tapers affore the Rode, the Cross Candelles, and Judas Candelles, ix a iiij d ." In the churchwardens' accounts of the parish of Alhallows Staining, mention of these frequently occurs. "Item: paid to William Bruce, peyntur, the xiij. day of Aprill, for peyntyng the Judasis of the Paschall, and of the Rode-loft, xx d. Item: paid the xx. day of Aprile to Thomas Arlome, joynour, for stuff and workmanship, planyng, and settyng up the said Judasis of the Paschall and the Rode-loft, and for the borde that the Crucifix, Marie, and John standen in, iij 8 vj d." And adverting to their dealings with William Symmys, wax chaundeller, the churchwardens observe, "Also he receyved of us Churchwardens of the beame lighte in cleyr wax xlviij 11, beside the Judaces. Also receyvid of hym in tenable candylls for the Judas and the Crosse Candyll on Ester evyn and the paschall." Tenable is a misnomer for teneber or tenebrae.47 So in a subsequent entry, "for our sepulchre light, our paschall and Judas candells called teneber candylls."

"There is a canon," says Bourne, in the Council of Trullus, "against those who baked a cake in honour of the Virgin's lying-in, in which it is decreed that no such ceremony should be observed, because she suffered no pollution, and therefore needed no purification." The purple-flowered Lady's Thistle, the leaves of which are beautifully diversified with numerous white spots, like drops of milk, is vulgarly thought to have been originally marked by the falling of some drops of the Virgin Mary's milk on it, whence, no doubt, its name Lady's, i,e. Our Lady's Thistle. An ingenious little invention of the dark ages, and which, no doubt, has been of service to the cause of superstition.48


At Ripon, in Yorkshire, the Sunday before Candlemas Day the collegiate church, a fine ancient building, is one continued blaze of light all the afternoon by an immense number of candles. See Gent. Mag. 1790, p. 719.

The following is from Herrick's Hesperides, p. 337:

"Ceremonies for Candlemass Eve"

"Down with the Rosemary and Bayes,
Down with the Misleto;
Instead of Holly, now up-raise
The greener Box for show.
The Holly hitherto did sway,
Let Box now domineere
Until the dancing Easter Day
Or Easter's Eve appeare.
Then youthful Box, which now hath grace
Your houses to renew,
Grown old, surrender must his place
Unto the crisped Yew.
When Yew is out, then Birch comes in,
And many flowers beside;
Both of a fresh and fragrant kinne
To honour Whitsontide.
Green Rushes then, and sweetest Bents,
With cooler Oaken boughs,
Come in for comely ornaments,
To re-adorn the house.
Thus times do shift ; each thing his turne do's hold;
New things succeed, as former things grow old."

So again, p. 361:

"Down with the Rosemary and so
Down with the Bales and Misletoe :
Down with the Holly, Me, all
Wherewith ye dress the Christmas Hall :
That so the superstitious find
No one least branch there left behind :
For look how many leaves there be
Neglected there, (maids, trust to me)
So many goblins you shall see."

So also Marrow-bones, for the knees. I'll bring him down upon his Marrow-bones, i.e. I'll make him bend his knees as he does to the Virgin Mary.


The subsequent "Ceremonies for Candlemasse Day" are also mentioned in p. 337:

"Kindle the Christmas brand, and then
Till sunne-set let it hurne;
Which quencht, then lay it up agen
Till Christmas next returne.

Part must be kept wherewith to teend49
The Christmas Log next yeare;
And where 'tis safely kept, the fiend
Can do no mischiefe there."

Also in p. 338:

"End now the white loafe and the pye,
And let all sports with Christmas dye."

"There is a general tradition" says Sir Thomas Browne, "in most parts of Europe, that inferreth the coldness of succeeding winter from the shining of the sun on Candlemas Day, according to the proverbiall distich:

"Si Sol splendescat Maria purificante,
Major erit glacies post festum quam fuit ante."

In the Country Almanack for 1676, under February we read,

"Foul weather is no news, hail, rain, and snow
Are now expected, and esteem'd no woe;
Nay, 'tis an omen bad, the yeomen say,
If Phoebus shews his face the second day."

The almanack printed at Basle in 1672, already quoted, says,

"Selon les Anciens se dit:
Si le Soleil clairment luit,
A la Chandeleur vous verrez
Qu'encore un Hyver vous aurez:
Pourtant gardez bien votre foin,
Car il vous sera de besoin:
Par cette reigle se gouverne
L'Ours, qui retourne en sa caverne."

Martin, in his Description of the Western Islands, 1716, p. 119, mentions an ancient custom observed on the second of February: "The mistress and servants of each family take a sheaf of oats and dress it up in woman's apparel, put it in [p.51] a large basket, and lay a wooden club by it, and this they call Briid's Bed; and then the mistress and servants cry three times, Briid is come, Briid is welcome. This they do just before going to bed, and when they rise in the morning they look among the ashes, expecting to see the impression of Briid's club there; which if they do, they reckon it a true presage of a good crop and prosperous year, and the contrary they take as an ill omen."

Ray, in his Collection of Proverbs, has preserved two relating to this day. "On Candlemas Day, throw candle and candle-stick away:" and "Sow or set beans on Candlemas Waddle." Somerset. In Somersetshire waddle means wane of the moon. [Another proverb50 on this day may also be mentioned,

"The hind had as lief see
His wife on a bier,
As that Candlemas Day
Should be pleasant and clear."

And it is a custom with old country people in Scotland to prognosticate this weather of the coming season by tine adage,

"If Candlemas is fair and clear,
There'll be twa winters in the year."]


MINSHEW, in his Dictionary, under the word Hocke-tide, speaks of "St. Blaze his day, about Candlemas, when country women goe about and make good cheere, and if they [p.52] find any of their neighbour women a spinning that day, they burne and make a blaze of fire of the distaffe, and thereof called S. Blaze his day." Dr. Percy, in his notes to the Northumberland Household Book, p. 333, tells us, "The Anniversary of St. Blazius is the 3d of February, when it is still the custom in many parts of England to light up fires on the hills on St. Blayse night: a custom anciently taken up, perhaps, for no better reason than the jingling resemblance of his name to the word Blaze."51

Reginald Scott, in his Discovery of Witchcraft, ed. 1665, p. 137, gives us a charm used in the Romish Church upon St. Blaze's Day, that will fetch a thorn out of any place of one's body, a bone out of the throat, &c., to wit, "Call upon God, and remember St. Blaze." [An ancient receipt "for a stoppage in the throat" was the following, "Hold the diseased party by the throat, and pronounce these words, Blaze, the martyr and servant of Jesus Christ, commands thee to pass up and down."]

The following is the account of Blaze in the Popish Kingdome, f. 47:

"Then followeth good Sir Blaze, who doth a waxen caudell give,
And holy water to his men, wherehy they safely live.
I divers barrels oft have scene, drawne out of water cleare,
Through one small blessed bone of this same Martyr heare:
And caryed thence to other townes and cities farre away,
Ech superstition doth require such earnest kinde of play."

In The Costumes of Yorkshire, 4to., 1814, Pl. 37, is a representation of the wool-combers' jubilee on this day. The writer, in illustration of it, says, "Blaize or Blasius, the principal personage in this festivity and procession, was bishop of Sebasta in Armenia, and the patron saint of that country. Several marvellous stones are related of him by Mede, in his 'Apostacy of the Latter Times,' but he need only be noticed here as the reputed inventor of the art of combing wool. On [p.53] this account the wool-combers have a jubilee on his festival, the 3d of February. The next principal character is Jason; but the story of the Golden Fleece is so well known that no introduction can be necessary to the hero of that beautiful allegory. The enterprising genius of Britain never ceases to realize the fable by rewarding many a British Jason with a golden fleece. The following is the order of this singular procession, denominated from its principal character Bishop Blaize: The masters on horseback, with each a white sliver; the masters' sons on horseback; their colours; the apprentices on horseback, in their uniforms; music; the king and queen; the royal family; their guards and attendants; Jason; the golden fleece; attendants; bishop and chaplain; their attendants; shepherd and shepherdess; shepherd's swains, attendants, &c.; foremen and wool-sorters on horseback; combers' colours; wool-combers, two and two, with ornamented caps, wool-wigs, and various coloured slivers." See a further account in Hone's Every Day Book, i. 210.


IT is a ceremony, says Bourne, never omitted among the vulgar, to draw lots, which they term Valentines, on the eve before Valentine Day. The names of a select number of one sex are, by an equal number of the other, put into some vessel; and after that every one draws a name, which, for the present, is called their Valentine, and is looked upon as a good omen of their being man and wife afterwards. He adds, there is a rural tradition, that on this day every bird chooses its mate, and concludes that perhaps the youthful part of the world hath first practised this custom, so common at this season. This idea is thus expressed by Chaucer:

"Nature, the vicare of the Almightie Lord,
That hote, colde, hevie, light, moist, and drie,
Hath knit by even number of accord,
In easie voice began to speak and say,
Foules, take heed of my sentence I pray,
And for your own ease in fordring of your need,
As fast as I may speak I will me speed.


Ye know well, how on St. Valentine's Day,
By my statute and through my governaunce,
Ye doe chese your makes, and after flie away
With hem as I pricke you with pleasaunce."

Shakespeare, in his Midsummer Night's Dream, alludes to the old saying, that birds begin to couple on St. Valentine's Day:

"St. Valentine is past;
Begin these wood-birds but to couple now?"

I once thought this custom might have been the remains of an ancient superstition in the Church of Rome on this day, of choosing patrons for the ensuing year; and that, because ghosts were thought to walk on the night of this day, or about this time, and that gallantry had taken it up when superstition at the Reformation had been compelled to let it fall.52 Since that time I have found unquestionable authority to show that the custom of choosing Valentines was a sport practised in the houses of the gentry of England as early as the year 1476. See a letter dated February 1446, in Fenn's Paston Letters, ii. 211. Of this custom John Lydgate, the monk of Bury, makes mention, as follows, in a poem written by him in praise of Queen Catherine, consort to Henry V. MS. Harl, 2251.

"Seynte Valentine, of custom yeere by yeere
Men have an usaunce in this regioun
To loke and serche Cupide's Kalendere,
And chose theyr choyse by grete affeccioun;
Such as ben prike with Cupides mocioun,
Takyng theyr choyse as theyr sort doth falle;
But I love oon which excellith alle."

In the catalogue of the Poeticall Devises, &c., done by the same poet, in print and MS., preserved at the end of Speght's edition of Chaucer's Works, fol. Lond. 1602, f. 376, occurs one with the title of Chusing Loves on S. Valentine's Day. "Lydgate," says Warton, "was not only the poet of his monastery, but of the world in general. If a Disguising was intended by the Company of Goldsmiths, a Mask before his Majesty at Eltham, a May game for the Sheriffs and Aldermen of London, a Mumming before the Lord Mayor, a Procession of Pageants from the Creation for the Festival of [p.55] Corpus Christi, or a Carol for the Coronation, Lydgate was consulted, and gave the poetry." The above catalogue mentions also, by Lydgate, "a Disguising before the Mayor of London, by the Mercers; a Disguising before the King in the Castle of Hartford; a Mumming before the King, at Eltham; a Mumming before the King, at Windsore; and a ballad given to Henry VI. and his mother on New Yeare's Day, at Hartford." Warton has also given a curious French Valentine, composed by Gower. See a curious, but by no means satisfactory, note upon this subject, by Monsieur Duchat, in the quarto edition of Rabelais, i. 393. There is an account of the manner in which St. Valentine's Day was anciently observed in France, in Goujet, Bibliotheque Fransoise, ix. 266, together with some poems composed by Charles Duke of Orleans, the father of Louis XII., when prisoner in England, in honour of that festival.

The following is one of the most elegant jeux d'esprits on this occasion that I have met with.

"To Dorinda, on Valentine's Day.

"Look how, my dear, the feather'd kind,
By mutual caresses joyn'd,
Bill, and seem to teach us two
What we to love and custom owe.

Shall only you and I forbear
To meet, and make a happy pair?
Shall we alone delay to live?
This day an age of bliss may give.
But ah ! when I the proffer make,
Still coyly you refuse to take
My heart I dedicate in vain,
The too mean present you disdain.

Yet, since the solemn time allows
To choose the object of our vows,
Boldly I dare profess my flame,
Proud to be yours by any name."
    Satyrs of Boileau Imitated, 1696, p. 101.53


Herrick has the following in his Hesperides, p. 172:

"To his Valentine on S. Valentine's Day.

"Oft have I heard both youth and virgins say,
Birds chuse their mates, and couple too, this day,
But by their flight I never can divine
When I shall couple with my Valentine."

In Dudley Lord North's Forest of Varieties, 1645, p. 61, in a letter to his brother, he says, "A lady of wit and qualitie, whom you well know, would never put herself to the chance of a Valentine, saying that shee would never couple herself e but by choyce. The custome and charge of Valentines is not ill left, with many other such costly and idle customes, which by a tacit generall consent wee lay downe as obsolete." In Carolina, or Loyal Poems, by Thomas Shipman, p. 135, is a copy of verses, entitled, "The Rescue, 1672. To Mrs. D.C., whose name being left after drawing Valentines, and cast into the fire, was snatcht out."

"I, like the angel, did aspire
Your Name to rescue from the fire.
My zeal succeeded for your name,
But I, alas! caught all the flame!
A meaner offering thus suffic'd,
And Isaac was not sacrific'd."

I have searched the legend of St. Valentine, but think there is no occurrence in his life that could have given rise to this ceremony. Wheatley, in his Illustration of the Common Prayer, 1848, p. 57, tells us that St. Valentine "was a man of most admirable parts, and so famous for his love and charity, that the custom of choosing Valentines upon his Festival (which is still practised) took its rise from thence." I know not how my readers will be satisfied with this learned writer's explication. He has given us no premises, in my opinion, from which we can draw any such conclusion. Were not all the saints supposed to be famous for their love and charity? Surely he does not mean that we should understand the word love here as implying gallantry!

In the British Apollo, 1708, vol. i. No. 3, we read,

"Why Valentine's a day to choose
A mistress, and our freedom loose,


May I my reason interpose,
The question with an answer close,
To imitate we have a mind,
And couple like the winged kind."

In the same work, vol. ii. No. 2, 1709: "Question: In chusing Valentines (according to custom), is not the party chusing (be it man or woman) to make a present to the party chosen? Answer: We think it more proper to say, drawing of Valentines, since the most customary way is for each to take his or her lot and chance cannot be termed choice. According to this method the obligations are equal, and therefore it was formerly the custom mutually to present, but now it is customary only for the gentlemen."

The learned Moresin tells us that at this festival the men used to make the women presents, as, upon another occasion, the women used to do to the men: but that presents were made reciprocally on this day in Scotland.

Gay has left us a poetical description of some rural ceremonies used on the morning of this day:

"Last Valentine, the day when birds of kind
Their paramours with mutual chirpings find,
I early rose, just at the break of day,
Before the sun had chas'd the stars away:
A-field I went, amid the morning dew,
To milk my kine (for so should house-wives do),
Thee first I spied, and the first swain we see,
In spite of Fortune, shall our true love be."

Pennant, in his Tour in Scotland, tells us, that in February young persons draw Valentines, and from thence collect their future fortune in the nuptial state; and Goldsmith, in his Vicar of Wakefield, describing the manners of some rustics, tells us they sent true-love knots on Valentine morning.54


Lewis Owen, in his work entitled the Unmasking of all Popish Monks, Friers, and Jesuits, 1628, p. 97, speaking of its being "now among the Papists as it was heretofore among the heathen people," says that the former "have as many saints, which they honour as gods, and every one have their several charge assigned unto them by God, for the succour of men, women, and children, yea, over countries, commonwealths, cities, provinces, and churches; nay, to help oves, et boves, et ccetera pecora campi:" and instances, among many others, "S. Valentine for Lovers."

We find the following curious species of divination in the Connoisseur, as practised on Valentine's Day or Eve. "Last Friday was Valentine's Day, and the night before I got five bay-leaves, and pinned four of them to the four corners of my pillow, and the fifth to the middle; and then, if I dreamt of my sweetheart, Betty said we should be married before the year was out. But, to make it more sure, I boiled an egg hard, and took out the yolk, and filled it with salt; and when I went to bed, eat it shell and all, without speaking or drinking after it. We also wrote our lovers' names upon bits of paper, and rolled them up in clay, and put them into water, and the first that rose up was to be our Valentine. Would you think it? Mr. Blossom was my man. I lay a-bed and shut my eyes all the morning till he came to our house; for I would not have seen another man before him for all the world."

Grose explains Valentine to mean the first woman seen by a man, or man seen by a woman, on St. Valentine's Day, the 14th of February. [Mr. Halliwell, in his Dictionary, p. 907, says the name drawn by lots was the Valentine of the writer, and quotes the following from the MS. Harl. 1735:

"Thow it be ale other wyn,
Godys blescyng have he and myn,
My none gentyl volontyn,
Good Tomas the frere."

On Valentine's Day, 1667, Pepys says, "This morning came up to my wife's bedside, I being up dressing myself, little Will Mercer to her Valentine, and brought her name written upon blue paper, in gold letters done by himself, very pretty; and we were both well pleased with it. But I am also this year my wife's Valentine, and it will cost me 5, but that [p.59] I must have laid out if we had not been Valentines." He afterwards adds, "I find that Mrs. Pierce' s little girl is my Valentine, she having drawn me; which I was not sorry for, it easing me of something more that I must have given to others; But here I do first observe the fashion of drawing of mottos as well as names; so that Pierce, who drew my wife, did also draw a motto, and this girl drew another for me. What mine was I forgot; but my wife's was, 'most courteous and most fair; which, as it may be used, or an anagram upon each name, might be very pretty. One wonder I observed to-day, that there was no music in the morning to call up our new married people, which is very mean methinks."]

From the following lines in Bishop Hall's Satires, iv. 1, it would seem that Valentine has been particularly famous for chastity:

"Now play the Satyre whoso list for me,
Valentine self, or some as chaste as hee."

From Deuce's manuscript notes I learn that Butler, in his Lives of the Saints, says, "To abolish the heathen, lewd, superstitious custom of boys drawing the names of girls, in honour of their goddess Februata Juno, on the 15th of February, several zealous pastors substituted the names of Saints in billets given on that day." See his Account of St. Valentine. And in vol. i., Jan. 29, he says, that "St. Frances de Sales severely forbad the custom of Valentines, or giving boys in writing the names of girls to be admired and attended on by them; and to abolish it, he changed it into giving billets with the names of certain Saints, for them to honour and imitate in a particular manner." But quaere this custom among the Romans above referred to.

Herrick, in his Hesperides, p. 61, speaking of a bride,

"She must no more a-maying;
Or by Rose-buds divine
Who'l be her Valentine?"

Misson, in his Travels in England, translated by Ozell, p. 330, says, "On the Eve of the 14th of February, St. Valentine's Day, a time when all living nature inclines to couple, the young folks in England and Scotland too, by a very [p.60] ancient custom, celebrate a little festival that tends to the same end. An equal number of maids and batchelors get together, each writes their true or some feigned name upon separate billets, which they roll up, and draw by way of lots, the maids taking the men's billets, and the men the maids'; so that each of the young men lights upon a girl that he calls his Valentine, and each of the girls upon a young man which she calls her's. By this means each has two Valentines: but the man sticks faster to the Valentine that is fallen to him, than the Valentine to whom he is fallen. Fortune having thus divided the company into so many couples, the Valentines give balls and treats to their mistresses, wear their billets several days upon their bosoms or sleeves, and this little sport often ends in love. This ceremony is practised differently in different counties, and according to the freedom or severity of Madam Valentine. There is another kind of Valentine, which is the first young man or woman that chance throws in your way in the street or elsewhere on that day.

[In Norfolk it is the custom for children to "catch" each other for Valentines; and if there are elderly .persons in the family who are likely to be liberal, great care is taken to catch them. The mode of catching is by saying "Good morrow, Valentine;" and if they can repeat this before they are spoken to, they are rewarded with a small present. It must be done, however, before sun-rise; otherwise, instead of a reward, they are told they are sun-burnt, and are sent back with disgrace. Does this illustrate the phrase sun-burned in Much Ado About Nothing?]

[In Oxfordshire the children go about collecting pence, singing

"Good morrow, Valentine,
First 'tis yours, then 'tis mine,
So please give me a Valentine."]

In Poor Robin's Almanack, for 1676, that facetious observer of our old customs tells us opposite to St. Valentine's Day, in February,

"Now Andrew, Anthony, and William,
For Valentines draw Prue, Kate, Jilian."

[The same periodical, for the year 1757, has the following verses on this day:


This month bright Phoebus enters Pisces,
The maids will have good store of kisses,
For always when the sun comes there,
Valentine's Day is drawing near,
And both the men and maids incline
To chuse them each a Valentine;
And if a man gets one he loves,
He gives her first a pair of gloves;
And, by the way, remember this,
To seal the favour with a kiss.
This kiss begets more love, and then
That love begets a kiss again,
Until this trade the man doth catch,
And then he does propose the match;
The woman's willing, tho' she's shy,
She gives the man this soft reply,
'I'll not resolve one thing or other,
Until I first consult my mother.'
When she says so, 'tis half a grant,
And may be taken for consent."

This is still one of the best observed of our popular festivals, and the extraordinary length to which the custom of Valentine letter-writing is carried may be gathered from the following enumeration of the letters which passed through the London post-office on St. Valentine's Day, 1847, vastly exceeding the usual average, and principally owing to this practice. "Monday being the celebration of St. Valentine's day, an extraordinary number of letters passed through the post-office. Not less than 150,000 letters of all descriptions, besides 20,000 newspapers, were delivered at nine in the morning by the general post letter-carriers, while in the London district office the numbers stood thus: At the ten o'clock delivery 25,000, and during the successive 'turns' of the duty, 175,000 were stamped, assorted, and delivered, forming a total of 200,000 district letters during the day. Independently of these numbers, not less than 12,000 letters and 5,000
newspapers were received by the midday mails and delivered throughout the metropolis, and at night not fewer than 120,000 newspapers were despatched, and 60,000 letters; the grand total, therefore, of letters and newspapers passing through the post-office stands as follows: Letters 422,000 ; newspapers, 145,000."

In an old English ballad, the lasses are directed to pray [p.62] cross-legged to St. Valentine for good luck. In some parts of England the poorer classes of children array themselves fantastically, and visit the houses of the wealthy, singing,

"Good morning to you, Valentine,
Curl your locks as I do mine,
Two before and three behind,
Good morrow to you, Valentine."]


IN the North of England, the Monday preceding Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Tuesday, is called Collop Monday. Eggs and collops compose a usual dish at dinner on this day, as pancakes do on the following, from which customs they have plainly derived their names. It should seem that on Collop Monday they took their leave of flesh in the papal times, which was anciently prepared to last during the winter by salting, drying, and being hung up. Slices of this kind of meat are to this day termed collops in the north, whereas they are called steaks when cut off from fresh or unsalted flesh; a kind of food which I am inclined to think our ancestors seldom tasted in the depth of winter. A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine asserts that most places in England have eggs and collops (slices of bacon) on Shrove Monday.

My late learned friend, the Rev. Mr. Bowles, informed me that in the neighbourhood of Salisbury, in Wiltshire, the boys go about before Shrove-tide, singing these rhymes:

"Shrove-tide is nigh at hand,
And I am come a shroving;
Pray, Dame, something,
An apple or a dumpling,
Or a piece of truckle cheese
Of your own making,
Or a piece of pancake."

At Eton school it was the custom, on Shrove Monday, for the scholars to write verses either in praise or dispraise of Father Bacchus, poets being considered as immediately under his protection. He was therefore sung on this occasion in all kinds of metres, and the verses of the boys of the [p.63] seventh and sixth, and some of the fifth forms, were affixed to the inner doors of the College. Verses are still written and put up on this day, but I believe the young poets are no longer confined to the subject of writing eulogiums on the god of wine. It retains, however, the name of Bacchus.

In the Ordinary of the Butchers' Company at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, dated 1621, I find the following very curious clause: "Item, that noe one Brother of the said Fellowship shall hereafter buy or seeke any Licence of any person whatsoever to kill Flesh within the Towne of Newcastle in the Lent season, without the general consent of the Fellowship, upon payne for every such defaute to the use aforesaide, 5." They are enjoined, it is observable, in this charter, to hold their head meeting-day on Ash-Wednesday. They have since altered it to the preceding Wednesday.

Sir Thomas Overbury, in his Characters, 1615, speaking of a Franklin, says, that among the ceremonies which he annually observes, and that without considering them as reliques of Popery, are Shrovings. [The passage is sufficiently curious to deserve a quotation: "He allowes of honest pastime, and thinkes not the bones of the dead anything brused, or the worse for it, though the country lasses daunce in the churchyard after evensong. Rocke Monday, and the wake in summer, shrovings, the wakefull ketches on Christmas Eve, the hoky or seed cake, these he yearely keepes, yet holdes them no reliques of Popery."]


SHROVE-TIDE plainly signifies the time of confessing sins, as the Saxon word shrive, or shift, means confession. This season has been anciently set apart by the church of Rome for a time of shriving or confessing sins. This seemingly no bad preparative for the austerities that were to follow in [p.64] Lent, was, for whatever reason, laid aside at the Reformation, In the Oxford Almanacks, the Saturday preceding this day is called the Egg-Feast. Perhaps the same as our Cofiop Monday. See, under Paste Eggs, Hyde's Account of the Festum Ovorum. In the churchwardens' accounts of St. Mary-at-Hill, in the City of London, A.D. 1493, is the following article: "For a mat for the Shreving Pewe, iij. d."

The luxury and intemperance that usually prevailed at this season were vestiges of the Romish carnival, which the learned Moresin derives from the times of Gentilism, introducing Joannes Boemus Aubanus as describing it thus: "Men eat and drink and abandon themselves to every kind of sportive foolery, as if resolved to have their fill of pleasure before they were to die, and as it were to forego every sort of delight."55 Thus also Selden: "What the church debars us one day, she gives us leave to take out another first there is a Carnival, and then a Lent."

"Shrove-tide," says Warton, "was formerly a season of [p.65] extraordinary sport and feasting.56 In the Romish Church there was anciently a Feast immediately preceding Lent, which lasted many days, called CARNISCAPIUM. (See Carpentier et Supp. Lat. Gloss. Du Cange, i. 381.) In some cities of France an officer was annually chosen, called Le Prince d'Amoreux, who presided over the sports of the youth for six days before Ash- Wednesday. Ibid. v. AMORATUS, p. 195; v. CARDINALIS, p. 818; v. SPINETUM, iii. 848. Some traces of these festivities still remain in our universities. In the Percy Household Book, 1512, it appears "that the Clergy and Officers of Lord Percy's Chapel performed a play before his Lordship, upon Shrowftewesday at night." p. 345. See also Dodsley's Collection of Old Plays, xii. 403, and notes in Shakespeare on part of the old song, "And welcome merry Shrove-tide."

In a curious tract, entitled, "Vox Graculi," quarto, 1623, p. 55, is the following quaint description of Shrove-Tuesday: "Here must enter that wadling, stradling, bursten-gutted Carnifex of all Christendome, vulgarly enstiled Shrove-Tuesday, but more pertinently, sole Monarch of the Mouth, high Steward to the Stomach, chiefe Ganimede to the Guts, prime Peere of the Pullets, first Favourite to the Frying pans, greatest Bashaw to the Batter-bowles, Protector of the Pan-cakes, first Founder of the Fritters, Baron of Bacon-flitch, Earle of Egge-baskets, &c. This corpulent Commander of those chollericke things called Cookes, will shew himselfe to be but of ignoble education; for by his manners you may find him better fed than taught wherever he comes."

The following extract from Barnaby Googe's Translation of Naogeorgus will show the extent of these festivities:

"Now when at length the pleasant time of Shrove-tide comes in place,
And cruell fasting dayes at hand approach with solemne grace:
Then olde and yong are both as mad as ghestes of Bacchus feast,
And foure dayes long they tipple square, and feede and never reast.57


Downe goes the hogges in every place, and puddings every wheare
Do swarme: the dice are ehakte and tost, and cardes apace they teare:
In every house are showtes and cryes, and mirth, and revell route,
And daintie tables spred, and all beset with ghestes aboute:
With sundrie playes and Christmasse games, and feare and shame away,
The tongue is set at libertie, and hath no kinde of stay.
And thinges are lawfull then and done, no pleasure passed by,
That in their mindes they can devise, as if they then should die:
The chiefest man is he, and one that most deserveth prayse,
Among the rest that can finde out the fondest kinde of playes.
On him they looke and gaze upon, and laugh with lustie cheare,
Whom boyes do follow, crying "foole," and such like other geare.
He in the meane time thinkes himselfe a wondrous worthie man,
Not mooved with their wordes nor cryes, do whatsoever they can.
Some sort there are that runne with staves, or fight in armour fine,
Or shew the people foolishe toyes for some small peece of wine.
Eche partie hath his favourers, and faythfull friendes enowe,
That readie are to turne themselves, as fortune liste to bowe.
But some againe the dreadfull shape of devils on them take,
And chase such as they rneete, and make poore boys for feare to quake.
Some naked runne about the streetes, their faces hid alone
With visars close, that, so disguisde, they might be knowne of none.
Both men and women chaunge their weede, the men in maydes aray,
And wanton wenches, drest like men, doe travell by the way,
And to their neighbours houses go, or where it likes them best,
Perhaps unto some auncient friend or olde acquainted ghest ;
Unknowne, and speaking but fewe wordes, the meat devour they up
That is before them set, and cleane they swinge of every cup.
Some runne about the streets attyrde like monks, and some like kings,
Accompanied with pompe and garde, and other stately things.
Some hatch young fooles as hennes do egges with good and speedie lucke,
Or as the goose doth use to do, or as the quacking ducke.
Some like wilde beastes doe runne abrode in skinnes that divers bee
Arayde, and eke with lothsome shapes, that dreadfull are to see,
They counterfet both beares and woolves, and lions fierce in sight,
And raging bulles: some play the cranes, with wings and stilts upright.
Some like the filthie forme of apes, and some like fooles are drest,
Which best beseeme these Papistes all, that thus keepe Bacchus feast.
But others beare a torde, that on a cushion soft they lay,
And one there is that with a flap doth keepe the flies away.
I would there might another be, an officer of those,
Whose roome might serve to take away the scent from every nose.
Some others make a man all stuft with straw or ragges within,
Apparayled in dublet faire, and hosen passing trim:


Whom as a man that lately dyed of- honest life and fame,
In blanket hid they beare about, and straightwayes with the same
They hurl him up into the ayre, not suffring him to fall,
And this they doe at divers tymes the citie over all.
I shew not here their daunces yet, with filthie jestures mad,
Nor other wanton sportes that on these holydayes are had.
There places are where such as hap to come within this dore,
Though old acquainted friendes they be, or never scene before,
And say not first here by your leave, both in and out I go,
They binde their handes behiride their backes, nor any difference tho
Of man or woman is there made, but basons ringing great,
Before them do they daunce with joy, and sport in every streat.
There are that certain praiers have that on the Tuesday fall,
Against the quartaine ague, and the other fevers all.
But others than sowe onyon seede, the greater to be scene,
And persley eke, and lettys both, to have them always greene.
Of truth I loth for to declare the foolish toyes and trickes,
That in these dayes are done by these same Popish Catholickes:
If snow lie deep upon the ground and almost thawing bee,
Then fooles in number great thou shalt in every corner see:
For balles of snow they make, and them at one another cast,
Till that the conquerde part doth yeelde and run away at last.
No matrone olde nor sober man can freely by them come,
At home he must abide that will these wanton fellowes shonne.
Besides the noble men, the riche, and men of hie degree,
Least they with common people should not seeme so mad to bee,
There wagons finely framde before, and for this matter meete,
And lustie horse and swift of pace, well trapt from head to feete
They put therein, about whose necke and every place before
An hundred gingling belles do hang, to make his courage more.
Their wives and children therein set, behinde themselves do stande,
Well arrnde with whips, and holding faste the bridle in their hande;
With all their force throughout the streetes and market-place they ron,
As if some whirlewinde mid, or tempest great from skies should come:
As fast as may be from the streates th' amazed people flye,
And give them place while they about doe runne continually.
Yea sometimes legges or armes they breake, and horse and carte and ali
They overthrow, with such a force they in their course doe fall.
Much lesse they man or childe do spare, that meetes them in the waye,
Nor they content themselves to use this madnesse all the daye :
But even till midnight holde they on, their pastimes for to make,
Whereby they hinder men of sleepe and cause their heads to ake.
But all this same they care not for, nor doe esteem a heare,
So they may have their pleasure still, and foolish wanton geare."

Among the records of the city of Norwich, mention is made of one John Gladman, "who was ever, and at thys our [p.68] is a man of sad disposition, and trewe and feythfull to God and to the Kyng, of disporte as hath ben acustomed in ony cite or burgh thorowe alle this reame, on Tuesday in the last ende of Crestemesse [1440,] vizt. Fastyngonge Tuesday, made a disport with hys neyghbours, havyng his hors trappyd with tynnsoyle and other nyse disgisy things, corouned as Kyng of Crestemesse, in tokyn that seson should end with the twelve monethes of the yere ; aforn hym went yche moneth dysguysed after the seson requiryd, and Lenton clad in white and red heryngs skinns, and his hors trappyd with oystershells after him, in token that sadnesse shuld folowe and an holy tyme, and so rode in divers stretis of the cite with other people with hym disguysed, makyng myrth, disportes, and plays, &c." Bloomfield's Norfolk, ed. 1 745, ii. 111.

A very singular custom is thus mentioned in the Gentleman's Magazine, 1779, "Being on a visit on Tuesday last in a little obscure village in this county (Kent), I found an odd kind of sport going forward: the girls, from eighteen to five or six years old, were assembled in a crowd, and burning an uncouth effigy, which they called an Holly-Boy, and which it seems they had stolen from the boys, who, in another part of the village, were assembled together, and burning what they called an Ivy-Girl, which they had stolen from the girls: all this ceremony was accompanied with loud huzzas, noise, and acclamations. What it all means I cannot tell, although I inquired of several of the oldest people in the place, who could only answer that it had always been a sport at this season of the year." Dated East Kent, Feb. 16th. The Tuesday before Shrove Tuesday in 1779 fell on February the 9th.

[In some places, if flowers are to be procured so early in the season, the younger children carry a small garland, for the sake of collecting a few pence, singing,

"Flowers, flowers, high-do!
Sheeny, greeny, rino!
Sheeny greeny, sheeny greeny,
Rum turn fra!"]

"The peasantry of France," says the Morning Chronicle, March 10th, 1791, "distinguish Ash Wednesday in a very singular manner. They carry an effigy of a similar description to our Guy Faux round the adjacent villages, and collect [p.69] money for his funeral, as this day, according to their creed, is the death of good living. After sundry absurd mummeries, the corpse is deposited in the earth." This is somewhat similar to the custom of the Holly Boy.

Armstrong, in his History of Minorca, p. 202, says, "During the Carnival, the ladies amuse themselves in throwing oranges at their lovers; and he who has received one of these on his eye, or has a tooth beat out by it, is convinced from that moment that he is a high favourite with the fair one who has done him so much honour. Sometimes a good handfull of flour is thrown full in one's eyes, which gives the utmost satisfaction, and is a favour that is quickly followed by others of a less trifling nature. We well know that the holydays of the ancient Romans were, like these carnivals, a mixture of devotion and debauchery. This time of festivity is sacred to pleasure, and it is sinful to exercise their calling until Lent arrives, with the two curses of these people, Abstinence and Labour, in its train."

Among the sports of Shrove Tuesday, cock-fighting and throwing at cocks appear almost everywhere to have prevailed. Fitzstephen, as cited by Stowe, informs us that anciently on Shrove Tuesday the school-boys used to bring cocks of the game, now called game-cocks, to their master, and to delight themselves in cock-fighting all the forenoon. One rejoices to find no mention of throwing at cocks on the occasion, a horrid species of cowardly cruelty, compared with which, cock-fighting, savage as it may appear, is to be reckoned among "the tender mercies" of barbarity.

The learned Moresin informs us that the Papists derived this custom of exhibiting cock-fights on one day every year from the Athenians, and from an institution of Themistocles. "Galli Gallinacei," says he, "producuntur per diem singulis annis in pugnam a Papisequis, ex veteri Atheniensium forma ducto more et Themistoclis instituto." Gael. Rhod. lib. jx. variar. lect. cap. xlvi. idem Pergami fiebat.; Alex, ab Alex, lib. v. cap. 8. Moresini Papatus, p. 66. An account of the origin of this custom amongst the Athenians may be seen in liani Variae Historiae, lib. ii. cap. xxviii.

This custom was retained in many schools in Scotland within the last century. Perhaps it is still in use. The [p.70] schoolmasters were said to preside at the battle, and claimed the run-away-cocks, called Fugees, as their perquisites.58

According to Fitzstephen: "After dinner, all the youths go into the fields to play at the ball. The scholars of every school have their ball or bastion in their hands. The ancient and wealthy men of the city come forth on horseback to see the sport of the young men, and to take part of the pleasure, in beholding their agility." Strype's edit, of Stowe, i. 247. See also Dr. Pegge's edit, of Fitzstepheu's London, 4to. 1772, pp. 45, 74. It should seem that Foot-Ball is here meant. In Sir John Sinclair's Statistical Account of Scotland, 1795, xv. 521, the minister of Kirkmichael, in Perthshire, speaking of the manners and customs of the inhabitants, says, "Foot-ball is a common amusement with the school-boys, who also preserve the custom of cock-fighting on Shrove Tuesday."

Hutchinson, in his History of Cumberland, ii. 322, speaking of the parish of Bromfield, and a custom there, that having now fallen into disuse, will soon be totally forgotten, tells us, "Till within the last twenty or thirty years, it had been a custom, time out of mind, for the scholars of the free school of Bromfield about the beginning of Lent, or, in the more expressive phraseology of the country, at Fasting's Even, to bar out the master; i.e. to depose and exclude him from his school, and keep him out for three days. During the period of this expulsion, the doors of the citadel, the [p.71] school, were strongly barricadoed within: and the boys, who defended it like a besieged city, were armed in general with bore-tree or elder pop-guns. The master meanwhile made various efforts, both by force and stratagem, to regain his lost authority. If he succeeded, heavy tasks were imposed, and the business of the school was resumed and submitted to; but it more commonly happened that he was repulsed and defeated. After three days' siege, terms of capitulation were proposed by the master, and accepted by the boys. These terms were summed up in an old formula of Latin Leonine verses, stipulating what hours and times should for the year ensuing be allotted to study, and what to relaxation and play. Securities were provided by each side for the due performance of these stipulations, and the paper was then solemnly signed both by master and scholars.

"One of the articles always stipulated for and granted, was the privilege of immediately celebrating certain games of long standing ; viz. a foot-ball match and a cock-fight. Captains, as they were called, were then chosen to manage and preside over these games: one from that part of the parish which lay to the westward of the school; the other from the east. Cocks and foot-ball players were sought for with great diligence. The party whose cocks won the most battles was victorious in the cock-pit; and the prize, a small silver bell, suspended to the button of the victor's hat, and worn for three successive Sundays. After the cock-fight was ended, the foot-ball was thrown down in the churchyard ; and the point then to be contested was, which party could carry it to the house of his respective captain, to Dundraw, perhaps, or West-Newton, a distance of two or three miles, every inch of which ground was keenly disputed. All the honour accruing to the conqueror at foot-ball, was that of possessing the ball. Details of these matches were the general topics of conversation among the villagers, and were dwelt on with hardly less satisfaction than their ancestors enjoyed in relating their feats in the border wars. It never was the fortune of the writer of this account to bear the bell (a pleasure which it is not at all improbable had its origin in the bell having been the frequent, if not the usual reward of victory in such rural contests). Our Bromfield sports were some- [p.72] times celebrated in indigenous songs : one verse only of one of them we happen to remember:

"At Scales, great Tom Barwise gat the ba' in his hand,
And t' wives aw ran out, and shouted, and bann'd:
Tom Cowan then pulch'd and flang him 'mang t' whins,
And he bledder'd, Od-white-te, tou's broken my shins.

"One cannot but feel a more than ordinary curiosity to be able to trace the origin of this improvement on the Romish Saturnalia; and which also appears pretty evidently to be the basis of the institution of the Terr filius in Oxford, now likewise become obsolete; but we are lost in a wilderness of conjectures: and as we have nothing that is satisfactory to ourselves to offer, we will not uselessly bewilder our readers."

Part of the income of the head master and usher of the Grammar School at Lancaster arises from a gratuity called a Cock-penny, paid at Shrove-tide by the scholars, who are sons of freemen. Of this money the head master has seven-twelfths, the usher five-twelfths. It is also paid at the schools at Hawkshead and Clithero, in Lancashire; and was paid at Burnley till lately, and at Whiteham and Millom, in Cumberland, near Bootle.

[There is a schoolboy's rhyme, used in a game not uncommon in some parts of Yorkshire, which may possibly have some reference to this practice,

A nick and a nock.
A hen and a cock,
And a penny for my master.]


The unknown but humane writer of a pamphlet entitled Clemency to Brutes, 1761, after some forcible exhortations against the use of this cruel diversion, in which there is a shocking abuse of time, ("an abuse so much the more shocking as it is shewn in tormenting that very creature which seems by nature intended for our remembrancer to improve it: the creature whose voice, like a trumpet, summoneth man forth to his labour in the morning, and admonisheth him of the flight of his most precious hours throughout the day,") has the following observation: "Whence it had its [p.73] rise among us I could never yet learn to my satisfaction; but the common account of it is, that the crowing of a cock prevented our Saxon ancestors from massacreing their conquerors, another part of our ancestors, the Danes, on the morning of a Shrove Tuesday, whilst asleep in their beds." In an old jest-book entitled Ingenii Fructus, or the Cambridge Jests, &c., by W. B., Lond. printed for D. Pratt, corner of Church-lane, Strand, no date, 12mo, is given what is called the original of "the throwing at cocks on Shrove-Tuesday," in which the rise of this custom is traced up to an unlucky discovery of an adulterous amour by the crowing of a cock. This account, I scarce need observe, is too ridiculous to merit a serious confutation.

In the pamphlet just cited, Clemency to Brutes, is the following passage: "As Christians, consider how very ill the pastime we are dissuading from agrees with the season, and of how much more suitable an use the victims of that pastime might be made to us. On the day following its tumultuous and bloody anniversary, our church enters upon a long course of humiliation and fasting: and surely an eve of riot and carnage is a most unfit preparative for such a course. Surely it would be infinitely more becoming us to make the same use of the cock at this season which St. Peter once made of it. Having denied his master, when it crew he wept." The author adds, though by mistake, "no other nation under heaven, I believe, practises it but our own."

In the British Apollo, 1708, vol. i. No. 4, is the following query: "How old, and from whence is the custom of throwing at cocks on Shrove Tuesday? A. There are several different opinions concerning the original of this custom, but we are most inclined to give credit to one Cranenstein, an old German author, who, speaking of the customs observed by the Christian nations, gives us the following account of the original institution of the ceremony: When the Danes were masters of England, and lorded it over the nations of the island, the inhabitants of a certain great city, grown weary of their slavery, had formed a secret conspiracy to murder their masters in one bloody night, and twelve men had undertaken to enter the town by a stratagem, and seizing the arms, surprise the guard which kept it; and at which time their fellows, upon a signal given, were to [p.74] come out of their houses and murder all opposers: but when they were putting it in execution, the unusual crowing and fluttering of the cocks, about the place they attempted to enter at, discovered their design ; upon which the Danes became so enraged that they doubled their cruelty, and used them with more severity than ever. Soon after they were forced from the Danish yoak, and to revenge themselves on the cocks, for the misfortune they involved them in, instituted this custom of knocking them on the head on Shrove Tuesday, the day on which it happened. This sport, tho' at first only practised in one city, in process of time became a natural advertisement, and has continued ever since the Danes first lost this island."

In the Gentleman's Journal, or the Monthly Miscellany, for January 1692-3, is given an English epigram, "On a cock at Rochester," by Sir Charles Sedley, wherein occur the following lines, which imply, as it should seem, as if the cock suffered this unusual barbarity by way of punishment for St. Peter's crime in denying his lord and master:

"May'st thou be punish'd for St. Peter's crime,
And on Shrove Tuesday perish in thy prime."

A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine, vol. liii. July, 1783, p. 578, says, "The barbarous practice of throwing at a cock tied to a stake at Shrovetide, I think I have read has an allusion to the indignities offered by the Jews to the Saviour of the world before his crucifixion." In the preface to Hearne's edition of Thomas Otterbourne, p. 66, he tells us that this custom of throwing at cocks must be traced to the time of King Henry the Fifth, and our victories then gained over the French, whose name in Latin is synonymous with that of a cock; and that our brave countrymen hinted by it that they could as easily, at any time, overthrow the Gallic armies as they could knock down the cocks on Shrove Tuesday. To those who are satisfied with Hearne's explanation of the custom we must object that, from the very best authorities, it appears also to have been practised in France, and that, too, long before the reign of our Henry the Fifth.

A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine, vol. vii. Jan. 1737, p. 7, says, (I think very erroneously,) that the "inhabitants of London, by way of reproach for imitating the French in [p.75] their modes and fashions, were named Cockneys, (turning upon the thought of a cock signifying a Frenchman,) i.e. apes and mimics of France."

With regard to the word Cockney, my learned friend Mr. Douce is of opinion, that perhaps after all that has been said with respect to the origin and meaning of this word, it is nothing more than a term of fondness or affection used towards male children, (in London more particularly,) in the same manner as Pigsnie is used to a woman. The latter word is very ancient in our tongue, and occurs in Chaucer:

"She was a primerole, a piggesnie,
For anie Lord to liggen in his bedde,
Or yet for any good yeman to wedde."
                            Cant. Tales, i. 3267.

The Romans used Oculus in the like sense, and perhaps Pigsnie, in the vulgar language, only means Ocellus, the eyes of that creature being remarkably small. Congreve, in his Old Batchelor, makes Fondle-wife call his mate "Cockey." Burd and Bird are also used in the same sense. Shadwell not only uses the word Pigsney in this sense, but also Birdsney. See his Plays, i. 357, iii. 385. The learned Hickes, in his Gram. Anglo. -Sax. Ling. Vett. Septentr. Thes. i. 231, gives the following derivation of Cockney: "Nunc Coquin, Coquine, quse olim apud Gallos otio, guise et ventri deditos ignavum, ignavam, desidiosum, deidiosam, segnem significabant. Hinc urbanos, utpote a rusticis laboribus, ad vitam sedentariam et quasi desidiosam avocatos pagani nostri olim Cokaignes, quod nunc scribitur Cockneys, vocabant. Et poeta hie noster in monachos et moniales, ut segne genus hoininum, qui desidise dediti, ventri indulgebant et coquinse amatores erant, malevolentissime invehitur; monasteria et monasticam vitam in Descriptione Terrse Cokainese parabolice perstringens." See also Tyrwhitt's observations on this word in his Chaucer, ed. 1775, iv. 253, C. Tales, 4206; Reed's Old Plays, v. 83, xi. 306, 307; Douce's Illustrations of Shakespeare, ii. 151.

The sense of the word Cockney seems afterwards to have degenerated into an effeminate person. Buttes, in his Dyets Dry Dinner, Lond. 1599, c. 2, says, "A Cochni is inverted, being as much as incoct, unripe;" but little stress can be laid upon our author's etymology. In the Workes of John [p.76] Heiwood, newly imprinted, 1598, is the following curious passage:

                           ----------------------"Men say
He that comth every day, shall have a Cocknay,
He that comth now and then, shall have a fat hen."59

Carpentier, under the year 1355, mentions a petition of the scholars to the masters of the school of Ramera, to give them a cock, which they asserted the said master owed them upon Shrove Tuesday, to throw sticks at, according to the usual custom, for their sport and entertainment.60

Among the games represented in the margin of the "Roman d'Alexandre," preserved in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, is a drawing of two boys carrying a third on a stick thrust between his legs, who holds a cock in his hands. They are followed by another boy, with a flag or standard emblazoned with a cudgel. Mr. Strutt has engraved the group in his Sports and Pastimes, pl. 35. He supposes, p. 293, that it represents a boyish triumph: the hero of the party having either won the cock, or his bird escaped unhurt from the dangers to which he had been exposed.61

This sport, now almost entirely forgotten among us, we wish consigned to eternal oblivion ; an amusement fit only for the bloodiest savages, and not for humanised men, much [p.77] less for Christians. That ingenious artist, Hogarth, has satirised this barbarity in the first of the prints called the Four States of Cruelty. Trusler's description is as follows:

"We have several groupes of boys at their different barbarous diversions ; one is throwing at a cock, the universal Shrove-tide amusement, beating the harmless feathered animal to jelly."

The custom of throwing at cocks on Shrove Tuesday is still (1791) retained at Heston, in Middlesex, in a field near the church. Constables have been often directed to attend on the occasion, in order to put a stop to so barbarous a custom, but hitherto they have attended in vain. I gathered the following particulars from a person who regretted that in his younger years he had often been a partaker of the sport. The owner of the cock trains his bird for some time before Shrove Tuesday, and throws a stick at him himself, in order to prepare him for the fatal day, by accustoming him to watch the threatened danger, and by springing aside, avoid the fatal blow. He holds the poor victim on the spot marked out by a cord fixed to his leg, at the distance of nine or ten yards, so as to be out of the way of the stick himself. Another spot is marked at the distance of twenty-two yards, for the person who throws to stand upon. He has three shys, or throws, for twopence, and wins the cock if he can knock him down and run up and catch him before the bird recovers his legs. The inhuman pastime does not end with the cock's life, for when killed it is put into a hat, and won a second time by the person who can strike it out. Broom-sticks are generally used to shy with. The cock, if well trained, eludes the blows of his cruel persecutors for a long time, and thereby clears to his master a considerable sum of money. But I fear lest, by describing the mode of throwing at cocks, I should deserve the censure of Boerhaave on another occasion: "to teach the arts of cruelty is equivalent to committing them."62

In Men-Miracles, with other Poems, by M. Lluellin, Stu- [p.78] dent of Christ-Church, Oxon, 1679, p. 48, is the following song on cock-throwing, in which the author seems ironically to satirise this cruel sport:

"Cocke a doodle doe, 'tis the bravest game,
Take a cock from his daine,
        And bind him to a stake,
How he struts, how he throwes,
How he swaggers, how he crowes,
        As if the day newly brake.

How his mistress cackles,
Thus to find him in shackles,
        And tied to a packe-thread garter.
Oh the beares and the bulls
Are but corpulent gulls
        To the valiant Shrove-tide martyr."

"Battering with massive weapons a cock tied to a stake, is an annual diversion," says an essayist in the Gentleman's Magazine, Jan. 1737, p. 6, "that for time immemorial has prevailed in this island." A cock has the misfortune to be called in Latin by the same word which signifies a Frenchman. "In our wars with France, in former ages, our ingenious forefathers," says be, "invented this emblematical way of expressing their derision of, and resentment towards that nation; and poor Monsieur at the stake was pelted by men and boys in a very rough and hostile manner." He instances the same thought at Blenheim House, where, over the portals, is finely carved in stone the figure of a monstrous lion tearing to pieces a harmless cock, which may be justly called a pun in architecture. "Considering the many ill consequences," the essayist goes on to observe, "that attend this sport, I wonder it has so long subsisted among us. How many warm disputes and bloody quarrels has it occasioned among the surrounding mob! Numbers of arms, legs, and skulls have been broken by the massive weapons designed as destruction to the sufferer in the string. It is dangerous in some places to pass the streets on Shrove Tuesday; 'tis risking life and limbs to appear abroad that day. It was first introduced by way of contempt to the French, and to exasperate the minds of the people against that nation. 'Tis a low, mean expression of our rage, even in time of war." One part of this extract is singularly corroborated by a passage in the Newcastle [p.79] Courant, for March 15th, 1783. "Leeds, March 11th, 1783: Tuesday se'nnight, being Shrove-tide, as a person was amusing himself, along with several others, with the barbarous custom of throwing at a cock, at Howden Clough, near Birstall, the stick pitched upon the head of Jonathan Speight, a youth about thirteen years of age, and killed him on the spot. The man was committed to York Castle on Friday."

Another writer in the Gentleman's Magazine, Jan. 1751, p. 8, says, "Some, yet more brutal, gratify their cruelty on that emblem of innocence the dove, in the same manner, to the reproach of our country and the scandal of our species." That hens were thrown at as well as cocks appear from many unquestionable evidences. In the same work, April, 1749, is "A strange and wonderful relation of a Hen that spake at a certain ancient borough in Staffordshire, on the 7th of February, being Shrove Tuesday, with her dying speech." Dean Tucker wrote "An earnest and affectionate Address to the Common People of England, concerning their usual Recreations on Shrove Tuesday," London, 12mo. no date, consisting of ten pages only.

In King Henry the Seventh's time it should seem this diversion was practised even within the precincts of the court. In a royal household account, communicated by Craven Ord, I find the following article: "March 2, 7 Hen. VII. Item to Master Bray for rewards to them that brought cokkes at Shrovetide, at Westmr. xx 8." In the manuscript Life of Thomas Lord Berkeley, the fourth of that name, by Mr. Smith, still remaining at Berkeley Castle, speaking of his recreations and delights, he tells the reader, "Hee also would to the threshing of the cocke, pucke with hens blindfolde and the like," ii. 459. This lord was born A.D. 1352, and died in 1417.

[A curious notice of cock-fighting is contained in a letter from Sir Henry Saville, dated 1546, printed in the Plumpton Correspondence, p. 251. He invites his relation to "se all our good coxs fight, if it plese you, and se the maner of our cocking. Ther will be Lanckeshire of one parte, and Derbeshire of another parte, and Hallomshire of the third parte. I perceive your cocking varieth from ours, for ye lay but the battell; and if our battell be but 10. to 5. thear wil be "10. to one laye or the battell be ended."]


In the hamlet of Pinner, at Harrow-on-the-Hill, the cruel custom of throwing at cocks was formerly made a matter of public celebrity, as appears by an ancient account of receipts and expenditures. The money collected at this sport was applied in aid of the poor-rates.

"1622. Received for cocks at Shrovetide 12s. 0d.
 1628. Received for cocks in Towne 19s. 10d.
  Out of Towne 0s. 6d."

This custom appears to have continued as late as the year 1680. (Lysons's Environs of London, ii. 588.)

By the following extract from Baron's Cyprian Academy, 1648, p. 53, it should seem to appear that hens also were formerly the objects of this barbarous persecution. A clown is speaking: "By the maskins I would give the best cow in my yard to find out this raskall; and I would thrash him as I did the henne last Shrove Tuesday" The subsequent passage in Bishop Hall's Virgidemarium, 1598, iv. 5, seems to imply that a hen was a usual present at Shrovetide, as also a pair of gloves at Easter:

"For Easter gloves, or for a Shrovetide Hen,
Which bought to give, he takes to sell again."

In Tusser's Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandry, we find the ploughman's feasting days or holidays, thus enumerated: 1. Plough Monday; 2. Shrove Tuesday, when, after confession, he is suffered to thresh the fat hen; 3. Sheep-shearing, with wafers and cakes; 4. Wake Day, or the vigil of the church Saint of the village, with custards; 5. Harvest-home, with a fat goose; 6. Seedcake, a festival kept at the end of wheat-sowing, when he is to be feasted with seed-cakes, pasties, and furmenty pot.

"At Shrovetide to shroving go thresh the fat hen,
If blindfold can kill her, then give it thy men."

These lines in Tusser Redivivus, 1744, p. 80, are thus explained in a note. "The hen is hung at a fellow's back, who has also some horse-bells about him; the rest of the fellows are blinded, and have boughs in their hands, with which they chase this fellow and his hen about some large court or small enclosure. The fellow with his hen and bells shifting as well as he can, they follow the sound, and sometimes hit him and [p.81] nis hen; other times, if he can get behind one of them, they thresh one another well favouredly: but the jest is, the maids are to blind the fellows, which they do with their aprons, and the cunning baggages will endear their sweethearts with a peeping hole, while the others look out as sharp to hinder it. After this, the hen is boiled with bacon, and store of pancakes and fritters are made. She that is noted for lying a-bed long, or any other miscarriage, hath the first pancake presented to her, which most commonly falls to the dog's share at last, for no one will own it their due." This latter part of the note is to illustrate the following lines:

"Maids, fritters, and pancakes, y-now see ye make,
Let Slut have one pancake for company sake."

Heath, in his account of the Scilly Islands, p. 120, has the following passage: "On a Shrove Tuesday each year, after the throwing at cocks is over, the boys in this island have a custom of throwing stones in the evening against the doors of the dwellers' houses; a privilege they claim from time immemorial, and put in practice without control, for finishing the day's sport. I could never learn from whence this custom took its rise, but am informed that the same custom is now used in several provinces of Spain, as well as in some parts of Cornwall. The terms demanded by the boys are pancakes, or money, to capitulate."

Mr. Jones informed me that, in Wales, such hens as did not lay eggs before Shrove Tuesday were, when he was a boy, destined to be threshed on that day by a man with a flail, as being no longer good for anything. If the man hit the hen, and consequently killed her, he got her for his pains.

"A learned foreigner (qu. if not Erasmus?) says, the English eat a certain cake on Shrove Tuesday, upon which they immediately run mad, and kill their poor cocks. 'Quoddam placentae genus, quo comesto, prolinus insaniunt, et gallos trucidant;' as if nothing less than some strong infatuation could account for continuing so barbarous a custom among Christians and cockneys." Note to 'Veille a la Campagne, or the Simnel, a Tale,' 1745, p. 16.

[SHYING AT COCKS. Probably in imitation of the barbarous custom of "shying," or throwing at the living animal. The "cock" was a representation of a bird or a beast, a [p.82] man or horse, or some device, with a stand projecting on all sides, but principally behind the figure. These were made of lead cast in moulds. They were shyed at with dumps from a small distance agreed upon by the parties, generally regulated by the size or weight of the dump, and the value of the cock. If the thrower overset or knocked down the cock, he won it; if he failed, he lost his dump. Shy for Shy. This was played at by two boys, each having a cock placed at a certain distance, generally about four or five feet asunder, the players standing behind their cocks, and throwing alternately; a bit of stone or wood was generally used to throw with, and the cock was won by him who knocked it down. These games had their particular times or seasons; and when any game was out, as it was termed, it was lawful to steal the thing played with ; this was called smugging, and it was expressed by the boys in a doggrel,

"Tops are in, spin 'em agin;
Tops are out, smugging about."
        Hone's Every-Day Book, i. 253.]


In the north of England Shrove Tuesday is called vulgarly Fasten's E'en; the succeeding day being Ash-Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten Fast.63

At Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the great bell of St. Nicholas's church is tolled at twelve o'clock at noon on this day; shops are immediately shut up, offices closed, and all kinds of business ceases: a little carnival ensuing for the remaining part of the day. [At Hoddesdon, in Hertfordshire, the old curfew bell, which was anciently rung in that town for the extinction and relighting of "all fire and candle light," still exists, and has from time immemorial been regularly rung on the morning of Shrove Tuesday, at four o'clock, after which hour the inhabitants are at liberty to make and eat pancakes, until the [p.83] bell rings at eight o'clock at night. This custom is observed so closely, that after that hour not a pancake remains in the town.]

"Let glad Shrove Tuesday bring the pancake thin,
Or fritter rich, with apples stored within."
                                Oxford Sausage, p. 22.

A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1790, p. 256 says that at Westminster School, upon Shrove Tuesday, the under clerk of the college enters the school, and preceded by the beadle and other officers, throws a large pancake over the bar which divides the upper from the under school. A gentleman, who was formerly one of the masters of that school, confirmed the anecdote to me, with this alteration, that the cook of the seminary brought it into the school, and threw it
over the curtain which separated the forms of the upper from those of the under scholars. I have heard of a similar custom at Eton school.

[At Baldock, in Hertfordshire, Shrove Tuesday is long anticipated by the children, who designate it as Dough-nut day; it being usual to make a good store of small cakes fried in hog's lard, placed over the fire in a brass skillet, called doughnuts, wherewith the youngsters are plentifully regaled. In Dorsetshire boys go round, begging for pancakes, singing,

"I be come a shrovin
Vor a little pankiak,
A. bit o' bread o' your biakin,
Or a little truckle cheese o' your miakin.
If you'll gi' me a little, I'll ax no more,
If you don't gi' me nothin, I'll rottle your door."]

The manuscript in the British Museum before cited, Status Schol Etonensis, 1560, mentions a custom of that school on Shrove Tuesday, of the boys being allowed to play from eight o'clock for the whole day; and of the cook's coming in and fastening a pancake to a crow, which the young crows are calling upon, near it, at the school-door. "Die Martis Carnis-privii luditur ad horam octavam in totum diem: venit coquus, affigit laganum cornici juxta illud pullis corvorum invocantibus eum, ad ostium scholse." The crows generally have hatched their young at this season.64


Shakespeare, in the following passage, alludes to the well-known custom of having pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, in the following string of comparisons put into the mouth of the clown in All's Well that Ends Well. "As fit as Tib's rush for Tib's forefinger, as a Pancake for Shrove Tuesday, a Morris for May-day, &c." In Gayton's Pleasant Notes upon Don Quixot, 1654, p. 99, speaking of Sancho Panza's having converted a cassock into a wallet, our pleasant annotator observes, "It was serviceable, after this greasie use, for nothing but to preach at a Carnivale or Shrove Tuesday, and to tosse Pancakes in after the exercise ; or else (if it could have been conveighed thither) nothing more proper for the man that preaches the Cook's Sermon at Oxford, when that plump society rides upon their governours horses to fetch in the Enemie, the Flie." That there was such a custom at Oxford, let Peshall, in his history of that city, be a voucher, who, speaking of Saint Bartholomew's Hospital, p. 280, says, "To this Hospital cooks from Oxford flocked, bringing in on Whitsun-week the Fly." Aubrey saw this ceremony performed in 1642. He adds: "On Michaelmas-day they rode thither again, to convey the Fly away." (Remains of Gentilisme and Judaisme. MS. Lansd. 226.) In the Life of Anthony Wood, p. 46, are some curious particulars relating to indignities shown at that time (1647) to freshmen at Oxford on Shrove Tuesday. A brass pot full of cawdle was made by the cook at the freshmen's charge, and set before the fire in the College-hall." Afterwards every freshman, according to seniority, was to pluck off his gowne and band, and if possible to make himself look like a scoundrell. This done, they were conducted each after the other to the high table, and there made to stand on a forme placed thereon, from whence they were to speak their speech with an audible voice to the company: which, if well done, the person that spoke it was to have a cup of caudle, and no salted drinke; if indifferently, some caudle and some salted drinke; but if dull, nothing was given to him but salted drink, or salt put in [p.85] College-beere, with Tucks66 to boot. Afterwards, when they were to be admitted into the fraternity, the senior cook was to administer to them an oath over an old shoe, part of which runs thus: ' Item, tu jurabis, quod Penniless Bench non visitabis,' &c., after which, spoken with gravity, the freshman kist the shoe, put on his gowne and band, and took his place among the seniors." The Editor observes, p. 50: "The custom described above was not, it is probable, peculiar to Merton College. Perhaps it was once general, as striking traces of it may be found in many societies in Oxford, and in some a very near resemblance of it has been kept up till within these few years."

"The great bell which used to be rung on Shrove Tuesday, to call the people together for the purpose of confessing their sins, was called Pancake Bell, a name which it still retains in some places where this custom is still kept up." Gent. Mag. 1790, p. 495. Macaulay, in his History and Antiquities of Claybrook, in Leicestershire, 1791, p. 128, says: "On Shrove Tuesday a bell rings at noon, which is meant as a signal for the people to begin frying their pancakes."

In a curious Tract, entitled A Vindication of the Letter out of the North, concerning Bishop Lake's Declaration of his dying in the belief of the Doctrine of Passive Obedience, 1690, p. 4, I find the subsequent passage: "They have for a long time at York had a custom (which now challenges the privilege of a prescription) that all the apprentices, journeymen, and other servants of the town, had the liberty to go into the Cathedral, and ring the Pancake-bell (as we call it in the country) on Shrove Tuesday; and that being a time that a great many came out of the country to see the city (if not their friends) and church; to oblige the ordinary people, the Minster used to be left open that day, to let them go up to see the Lanthorn and Bells, which were sure to be pretty well exercised, and was thought a more innocent divertisement than being at the alehouse. But Dr. Lake, when he came first to reside there, was very much scandalized at this custom, and was resolved he would break it at first dash, although all [p.86] his brethren of the clergy did dissuade him from it. He was resolved to make the experiment, for which he had like to have paid very dear, for Fie assure you it was very near costing him his life. However, he did make such a combustion and mutiny, that, I dare say, York never remembered nor saw the like, as many yet living can testify." Dr. Lake's zeal and courage on this occasion are more minutely detailed in 'A Defence of the Profession which the Right Reverend Lord Bishop of Chichester made upon his death-bed, concerning Passive Obedience, and the New Oaths: together with an account of some passages of his Lordship's life,' 1690, p. 4.

The Pancake-bell, at this period, was probably common everywhere. In Poor Robin, for 1684, we read, in February,

"But hark, I hear the Pancake-bell,
And fritters make a gallant smell."

Taylor, the Water Poet, in his Jacke-a-Lent, Workes, 1630, i. 115, gives the following most curious account of Shrove Tuesday:

"Shrove Tuesday, at whose entrance in the morning, all the whole kingdom is in quiet, but by that time the clocke strikes eleven, which (by the helpe of a knavish sexton) is commonly before nine, then there is a bell rung, cal'd the Pancake-belt the sound whereof makes thousands of people distracted, and forgetfull either of manner or humanitie; then there is a thing cald wheaten flowre, which the cookes doe mingle with water, egges, spice, and other tragicall, magicall inchantments, and then they put it by little and little into a frying-pan of boyling suet, where it makes a confused dismall hissing (like the Learnean snakes in the reeds of Acheron, Stix, or Phlegeton), untill, at last, by the skill of the Cooke, it is transform'd into the forme of a Flap-jack, cal'd a Pancake, which ominous incantation the ignorant people doe devoure very greedily."

I know not well what he means by the following: "Then Tim Tatters (a most valiant villaine), with an ensigne made of a piece of a baker's mawkin,66 fixt upon a broome-staffe, he [p.87] displaies his dreadfull colours, and calling the ragged regiment together, makes an illiterate oration, stuft with most plentifull want of discretion."

Selden, in p. 20 of his Table-talk, under Christmas, has this passage relating to the season: "So likewise our eating of fritters, whipping of tops, roasting of herrings, jack-of-lents, &c., they are all in imitation of church works, emblems of martyrdom."

Sir Frederick Morton Eden, in the State of the Poor, 1797, i. 498, tells us: "Crowdie, a dish very common in Scotland, and accounted a very great luxury by labourers, is a never-failing dinner in Scotland with all ranks of people on Shrove Tuesday (as Pancakes are in England), and was probably first introduced on that day (in the Papal times) to strengthen them against the Lenten Fast: it being accounted the most substantial dish known in that country. On this day there is always put into the bason or porringer, out of which the unmarried folks are to eat, a ring, the finder of which, by fair means, is supposed to be ominous of the finder's being first married." Crowdie is made by pouring boiling water over oatmeal and stirring it a little. It is eaten with milk or butter.

In Fosbrooke's British Monachism, ii. 127, we read: "At Barking Nunnery, the annual store of provision consisted of malt, wheat, russeaulx, herrings for Advent, red ones for Lent; almonds, salt-fish, salt salmones, figs, raisins, ryce, all for Lent; mustard; twopence for cripsis (some crisp thing) and crumcakes [cruman isfriare, Skin.] at Shrove-tide."

Dr. Goldsmith, in his Vicar of Wakefield, describingthe manners of some rustics, tells us, that among other old customs which they retained, "they eat Pancakes on Shrovetide." Poor Robin, in his Almanack for 1677, in his Observations on February, says there will be "a full sea of Pancakes and Fritters about the 26th and 27th days," (Shrove Tuesday fell on the 27th), with these lines,

"Pancakes are eat by greedy gut,
And Hob and Madge run for the slut."

[In Oxfordshire, the children go from door to door, singing the following doggrel rhyme,


"Knick, knock, the pan's hot,
And we be come a shroving:
A bit of bread, a bit of cheese,
A bit of barley dompling.
That's better than nothing,
Open the door and let us in,
For we be come a pancaking;"

and then begging for half-pence.

[At Islip, in the same county, this version is used,

"Pit a pat, the pan is hot,
We are come a shroving;
A little bit of bread and cheese
Is better than nothing.
The pan is hot, the pan is cold;
Is the fat in the pan nine days old?"]

A kind of Pancake Feast, preceding Lent, was used in the Greek Church, from whence we may probably have borrowed it with Pasche Eggs and other such like ceremonies. "The Russes," as Hakluyt tell us, "begin their Lent always eight weeks before Easter; the first week they eat eggs, milk, cheese, and butter, and make great cheer with Pancakes and such other things." The custom of frying Pancakes (in turning of which in the pan there is usually a good deal of pleasantry in the kitchen) is still retained in many families of the better sort throughout the kingdom, but seems, if the present fashionable contempt of old customs continues, not likely to last another century.

The apprentices, whose particular holiday this day is now esteemed, and who are on several accounts so much interested in the observation thereof, ought, with that watchful jealousy of their ancient rights and liberties, (typified so happily on this occasion by pudding and play,) as becomes young Englishmen, to guard against every infringement of its ceremonies, so as to transmit them entire and unadulterated to posterity. In Dekker's Seven Deadly Sinnes of London, 4to. 1606, p. 35, is this passage: "They presently (like Prentices upon Shrove Tuesday) take the lawe into their owne handes, and do what they list." And it appears from contemporary writers that this day was a holiday from time immemorial, for apprentices and working people. (See Dodsley's Old Plays, vi. 387, vii. 22, and xii. 403.)


["February welcome, though still cold and bitter,
Thou bringest Valentine, Pan cake, and Fritter;
But formerly most dreadful were the knocks
Of Prentices 'gainst Whore-houses and Cocks."
                                            Poor Robin, 1707.]

Two or three customs of less general notoriety, on Shrove Tuesday, remain to be mentioned. It is remarked with much probability in a note upon the old play of the Honest Whore, by Dekker, that it was formerly a custom for the peace-officers to make search after women of ill fame on Shrove Tuesday, and to confine them during the season of Lent. So, Sensuality says in Microcosmus, Act 5,

"But now welcome a Cart or a Shrove Tuesday's Tragedy."

In Strype's edition of Stow's Survey of London, 1720, i. 258, we read that in the year 1555, "An ill woman who kept the Greyhound in Westminster was carted about the city, and the Abbot's servant (bearing her good will) took her out of the cart, as it seems, before she had finisht her punishment, who was presently whipt at the same cart's tail for his pains." In 1556, "were carted two men and three women. One of these men was a bawd, for bringing women to strangers. One of the women kept the Bell in Gracechurch-street, another was the good wife of the Bull beside London-stone; both bawds and whores." 1559. "The wife of Henry Glyn, goldsmith, was carted about London, for being bawd to her own daughter." Several curious particulars concerning the old manner of carting people of this description may be gathered from the second part of the Honest Whore, 1630.

"Enter the two Masters after them the Constable, after them a Beadle beating a bason, &c." Mistris Horsleach says:

"You doe me wrong I am knowne for a motherly honest woman, and no bawd." To an inquiry, "Why before does the bason ring?" It is thus answered:

"It is an emblem of their revelling;
The whips we use lets forth their wanton blood,
Making them calme, and more to calme their pride,
Instead of coaches they in carts do ride."

And again, "Enter Constable and Billmen.
    "How now?
    I'st Shrove Tuesday, that these ghosts walke?"


In Nabbe's comedy entitled Tottenham Court, 1638, p. 6, the following occurs: "If I doe, I have lesse mercy then Prentices at Shrovetide."

Sir Thomas Overbury, in his Characters, speaking of "a Maquerela, in plaine English, a bawde," says, "Nothing daunts her so much as the approach of Shrove Tuesday." Again, speaking of "a roaring boy," he observes that "he is a supervisor of brothels, and in them is a more unlawful reformer of vice than prentises on Shrove Tuesday." In the Inner Temple Masque, 1619, we read,

"Stand forth Shrove Tuesday, one 'a the silencst Brickelayers,
T'is in your charge to pull down bawdy-houses,
To set your tribe aworke, cause spoyle in Shorditch," &c.

The punishment of people of evil fame at this season seems to have been one of the chief sports of the apprentices. In a Satyre against Separatists, 1675, we read,

"The Prentises for they
Who, if upon Shrove Tuesday, or May Day,
Beat an old Bawd or fright poor Whores they could,
Thought themselves greater than their Founder Lud.67
Have now vast thoughts, and scorn to set upon
Any whore less than her of Babylon.
They'r mounted high, contemn the humble play
Of Trap or Foot-tall on a holiday
In Finesbury-fieldes. No, 'tis their brave intent,
Wisely t'advise the King and Parliament."68

The use of the game of Foot-ball on this day has been already noticed from Fitzstephen's London, and it appears from Sir John Bramston's Autobiography, p. 110, that it was usual to play Foot-ball in the streets of London in the seventeenth century. In the Penny Magazine of April 6th, 1839, p. 131, is a long account of the Derby Foot-ball play, [and till within the last few years, the game was sufficiently common in the neighbourhood of London, so much to the annoyance of the inhabitants that it was in some places [p.91] suppressed by order of the magistrates . Billet or tip-cat is also a favorite game for this day, and in some parts of the North of England, it is customary for the girls to occupy some part of the festival by the game of battledore and shuttlecock, singing,

"Great A, little A,
This is pancake day;
Toss the ball high,
Throw the hall low,
Those that come after
May sing heigh-ho!"]

In the Statistical Account of Scotland, 1795, xvi. 19, Parish of Inverness, County of Mid-Lothian, we read: "On Shrove Tuesday there is a standing match at Foot-ball between the married and unmarried women, in which the former are always victorious." In the same work, 1796, xviii. 88, parish of Scone, county of Perth, we read: "Every year on Shrove Tuesday the batchelors and married men drew themselves up at the Cross of Scone, on opposite sides. A ball was then thrown up, and they played from two o'clock till sunset. The game was this. He who at any time got the ball into his hands, run with it till overtaken by one of the opposite party, and then, if he could shake himself loose from those on the opposite side who seized him, he run on: if not, he threw the ball from him, unless it was wrested from him by the other party ; but no person was allowed to kick it. The object of the married men was to hang it, i.e. to put it three times into a small hole in the moor, the dool or limit on the one hand: that of the batchelors was to drown it, i.e. to dip it three times into a deep place in the river, the limit on the other. The party who could effect either of these objects won the game. But, if neither party won, the ball was cut into equal parts at sun-set. In the course of the play, one might always see some scene of violence between the parties: but as the proverb of this part of the country expresses it, 'All was fair at the Ball of Scone.' This custom is supposed to have had its origin in the days of Chivalry. An Italian, it is said, came into this part of the country, challenging all the parishes, under a certain penalty in case of declining his challenge. .All the parishes declined the skallenjce except Scone, which beat the foreigner, and in [p.92] commemoration of this gallant action the game was instituted. Whilst the custom continued, every man in the parish, the gentry not excepted, was obliged to turn out and support the side to which he belonged ; and the person who neglected to do his part on that occasion was fined: but the custom, being attended with certain inconveniencies, was abolished a few years ago."

With regard to the custom of playing at Foot-ball on Shrove Tuesday, I was informed, that at Alnwick Castle, in Northumberland, the waits belonging to the town come playing to the Castle every year on Shrove Tuesday, at two o'clock p.m., when a Foot-ball was thrown over the Castle walls to the populace. I saw this done Feb. 5th, 1788. In King's Vale Royal of England, p. 197, there is an account that, at the city of Chester in the year 1533, "the offering of ball and foot-balls were put down, and the silver bell offered to the maior on Shrove Tuesday."

[In Ludlow, the custom of rope-pulling has been observed on Shrove Tuesday from time immemorial. The following account of it in 1846, is taken from a contemporary newspaper: "The annual and time-out-of-mind custom of rope-pulling was duly observed last week. A little before four o'clock, the Mayor, accompanied by a numerous party of gentlemen, proceeded towards the Market-hall, out of one of the centre windows of which was suspended the focus of attraction, viz. the ornamented rope. Many thousand people of all degrees were here assembled, the majority of them prepared for the tug of war; and precisely as the chimes told four, the Mayor and assistants gradually lowered the grand object of contention, amidst the deafening cheers of the multitude. The struggle then commenced in earnest, which, after the greatest exertion, ended in favour of the Corve-street Ward. As is always the case, the defeated party went round collecting subscriptions to purchase the leviathan rope from the successful possessors; which being accomplished, another fierce and manly struggle through the town ensued, and this time victory declared in favour of the Broad-street Ward. The approaching shades of night only put an end to the sports, and we are happy to add that not any accident occurred to mar the pleasures of the day."]

In Pennant's account of the city of Chester he tells us of [p.93] a place without the walls, called the Rood Eye, where the lusty youth in former days exercised themselves in manly sports of the age; in archery, running, leaping, and wrestling; in mock fights and gallant romantic triumphs. A standard was the prize of emulation in the sports celebrated on the Rood Eye, which was won in 1578 by Sheriff Montford on Shrove Tuesday.

In the Shepherd's Almanack for 1676, under February, we find the following remarks: "Some say thunder on Shrove Tuesday foretelleth wind, store of fruit, and plenty. Others affirm, that so much as the sun shineth that day, the like will shine every day in Lent."

From Lavaterus on Walking Spirits, p. 51, it should seem that, anciently, in Helvetia, fires were lighted up at Shrove-tide. "And as the young men in Helvetia, who with their fire-brand, which they light at the bone-fires at Shrof-tide," &c. Douce's manuscript notes say: "Among the Finns no fire or candle may be kindled on the Eve of Shrove Tuesday."

I shall close this account of the customs of Shrove Tuesday with a curious poem from Pasquil's Palinodia, 1634. It contains a minute description of all that appears to have been generally practised in England. The beating down the barber's basins on that day, I have not found elsewhere:

"It was the day of all dayes in the year,69
That unto Bacchus hath his dedication,
When mad-brain'd prentices, that no men feare,
O'erthrow the dens of bawdie recreation;
When taylors, coblers, plaist'rers, smiths, and masons,
And every rogue will beat down barbers' basons,
Whereat Don Constable in wrath appeares,
And runs away with his stout halbadiers.
It was the day whereon both rich and poore
Are chiefly feasted with the self-same dish,
When every paunch, till it can hold no more,
Is fritter-fill'd, as well as heart can wish;
And every man and maide doe take their turne,
And tosse their pancakes up for feare they burne;
And all the kitchen doth with laughter sound,
To see the pancakes fall upon the ground.


It was the day when every kitchen reekes,
And hungry bellies keepe a jubile,
When flesh doth bid adieu for divers weekes,
And leaves old ling to be his deputie.
It was the day when pullen goe to block,
And every spit is fill'd with belly-timber,
When cocks are cudgel'd down with many a knock,
And hens are thrasht to make them short and tender;
When country wenches play with stoole and ball,
And run at barly-breake untill they fall."

[The author of the Book of Knowledge, 1703, says, "On Shrove Tuesday, whosoever doth plant or sow, it shall remain always green: how much the sun did shine that day, so much shall it shine every day in Lent; and always the next new moon that falleth after Candlemas Day, the next Tuesday after that shall always be Shrove Tuesday." A MS. Miscellany in my possession, dated 1691, says that if the wind blows on the night of Shrove Tuesday, "it betokeneth a death amongst them are learned, and much fish shall die in the following summer."]


THIS, which is the first day of Lent, is called Ash Wednesday, as we read in the Festa Anglo-Romana, p. 19, from the ancient ceremony of blessing Ashes on that day, and therewith the priest signeth the people on the forehead, in the form of a cross, affording them withal this wholesome admonition: "Memento, homo, quod pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris;" (Remember, man, thou art dust, and shalt return to dust). The ashes used this day in the Church of Rome are made of the palms consecrated the Sunday twelve months before.70 In a convocation held in the time of Henry the Eighth, mentioned in Fuller's Church History, p. 222, "giving of ashes on Ash Wednesday, to put in remembrance every Christian man the beginning of Lent and Penance, that he is but ashes [p.91] and earth, and thereto shall return," is reserved, with some other rites and ceremonies which survived the shock that, at that remarkable era, almost overthrew the whole pile of Catholic superstitions.71

Durandus, in his Rationale,72 tell us, Lent was counted to begin on that which is now the first Sunday in Lent, and to end on Easter Eve; which time, saith he, containing forty-two days, if you take out of them the six Sundays on which it was counted not lawful at any time of the year to fast, then there will remain only thirty-six days: and, therefore, that the number of days which Christ fasted might be perfected, Pope Gregory added to Lent four days of the week before going, viz. that which we now call Ash Wednesday, and the three days following it. So that we see the first observation of Lent began from a superstitious, unwarrantable, and indeed profane conceit of imitating our Saviour's miraculous abstinence.73

There is a curious clause in one of the Romish Casuists concerning the keeping of Lent, viz. "that beggars which are ready to affamish74 for want, may in Lent time eat what they can get." See Bishop Hall's Triumphs of Rome, p. 123.

In the Festyvall, 1511, f. 15, it is said: "Ye shall begyn your faste upon Ashe Wednesdaye. That daye must ye come to holy chirche, and take ashes of the Preestes hondes, and thynke on the wordes well that he sayeth over your hedes, Memento, homo, quid cinis es y et in cinerem reverteris, have mynde, thou man, of ashes thou art comen, and to ashes thou shalte tourne agayne." This work, speaking of Quatuor Temporum, or Ymbre [p.96] Days, now called Ember Days, f. 41, says, they were so called "because that our elder fathers wolde on these days ete no brede but cakes made under ashes." In a proclamation, dated 26th Feb. 1539, in the library of the Society of Antiquaries of London, concerning Rites and Ceremonies to be retained in the Church of England, we read, "On Ashe Wenisday it shall be declared that these ashes be gyven, to put every Christen man in remembrance of penaunce at the begynnynge of Lent, and that he is but erthe and ashes."75

In the Doctrine of the Masse Booke, from Wyttonburge, by Nicholas Dorcastor, 1554, we find translated the form of "the halowing of the ashes." The Masse Book saith, that upon Ash Wednesdaye, when the Prieste hath absolved the people, then must there be made a blessynge of the ashes by the Priest, being turned towards the East. In the first prayer is this passage: "Vouchsafe to + blesse and + sanctifie these ashes, which because of humilitie and of holy religion, for the clensyng out of our trespaces, thou hast appointed us to cary upon our heades, after the manner of the Ninivites." And after directions to sprinkle the ashes with holy water, and another prayer, this rubrick is added, "Then let them distribute the ashes upon the heades of the clarckes and of the lay people, the worthier persons makyng a sygne of the crosse with the ashes, saying thus : Memento, homo, quod cinis, &c. Remember, man, that thou art ashes, and into ashes shalt thou retourne." In Bonner's Injunctions, 1555, we read, "that the hallowed ashes gyven by the Priest to the people upon Ashe Wednisdaye, is to put the people in remembrance of penance at the begynnynge of Lent, and that their bodies ar but earth, dust, and ashes." Dudley Lord North, in his Forest of Varieties, J645, p. 165, in allusion to this custom, styles one of his essays, "My Ashewednesday Ashes."

From a passage cited by Hospinian, from Naogeorgus, it appears that anciently, after the solemn service and sprinkling with ashes on Ash Wednesday, the people used [p.97] to repeat the fooleries of the Carnival. Then follows the Fool-Plough, for which the reader is referred to the sports of Christmas. The whole passage from Naogeorgus is thus translated by Barnaby Googe:

"The Wednesday next a solemne day to Church they early go;
To sponge out all the foolish deedes by them committed so,
They money give, and on their heddes the Prieste doth ashes laye,
And with his holy water washeth all their sinnes away:
In woondrous sort against the veniall sinnes doth profite this,
Yet here no stay of madnesse now, nor ende of follie is,
With mirth to dinner straight they go, and to their woonted play,
And on their devills shapes they put, and sprightish fonde araye.
Some sort there are that mourning go with lantarnes in their hande,
While in the day time Titan bright amid the skies doth stande,
And seeke their Shroftide Bachanals, still crying every where,
Where are our feastes become ? alas, the cruell fastes appere!
Some beare about a herring on a staffs, and loude doe rore,
Herrings, herrings, stincking herrings, puddings now no more.
And hereto joyne they foolish playes, and doltish dogrell rimes,
And what beside they can invent, belonging to the times.
Some others beare upon a staffe their fellowes horsed hie,
And carie them unto some ponde, or running river nie,
That what so of their foolish feast doth in them yet remayne,
May underneth the floud be plungde, and wash't away againe.
Some children doe intise with nuttes, and peares abrode to play,
And. singing through the towne they go before them all the way.
In some places all the youthful flocke with minstrels doe repaire,
And out of every house they plucke the girles and maydens fayre,
And then to plough they straightways put with whip one doth them hit,
Another holds the plough in hande: the minstrell here doth sit
Amidde the same, and drunken songes with gaping mouth he sings,
Whome foloweth one that sowes out sande, or ashes fondly flings.
When thus they through the streetes have plaide, the man that guideth all
Doth drive both plough and maydens through some ponde or river small,
And dabbled all with durt and wringing wette as they may be,
To supper calles, and after that to daunsing lustilee :
The follie that these dayes is usde can no man well declare,
Their wanton pastimes, wicked actes, and all their franticke fare.
On Sunday at the length they leave their mad and foolish game,
And yet not so, but that they drinke, and dice away the same.
Thus at the last to Bacchus is this day appoynted cleare,
Then (0 poor wretches!) fastings long approaching doe appeare:


In fortie dayes they neyther milke, nor fleshe, nor egges doe eate,
And butter with their lippes to touch is thought a trespasse great:
Both ling and saltfish they devoure, and fishe of every sorte,
Whose purse is full, and such as live in great and wealthie porte:
But onyans, browne bread, leekes, and salt, must poore men dayly gnaw,
And fry their oten cakes in oyle. The Pope devisde this law
For sinnes, th' offending people here from hell and death to pull,
Beleeving not that all their sinnes were earst forgiven full.
Yet here these woful soules he helpes, and taking money fast,
Doth all things set at libertie, both egges and flesh at last.
The images and pictures now are coverde secretlie
In every Church, and from the beanies, the roof and rafters hie,
Hanges painted linen clothes that to the people doth declare,
The wrathe and furie great of God, and times that fasted are
Then all men are constrainde their sinnes, by cruel law, to tell,
And threatned, if they hide but one, with dredful death and hell;
From hence no little gaines unto the Priestes doth still arise,
And of the Pope the shambles doth appeare in beastly wise."

According to Aubanus, trans, p. 279, there is a strange custom used in many places of Germany upon Ash Wednesday, "for then the young youth get all the maides together, which have practised dauncing all the year before, and carrying them in a carte or tumbrell (which they draw themselves instead of horses), and a minstrell standing a-top of it playing all the way, they draw them into some lake or river, and there wash them favouredly."

The ancient discipline of sackcloth and ashes, on Ash Wednesday, is at present supplied in our church by reading publicly on this day the curses denounced against impenitent sinners, when the people are directed to repeat an Amen at the end of each malediction. Enlightened as we think ourselves at this day, there are many who consider the general avowal of the justice of God's wrath against impenitent sinners as cursing their neighbours: consequently, like good Christians, they keep away from church on the occasion. In the Churchwarden's account of St. Mary-at-Hill, in the city of London, for 1492, is the following article: "For dyssplying roddys, ij d;" and again, in 1501, "For paintynge the Crosse Staffe for Lent, iiijd." It appears from the Status Schol Etonensis, 1560, already quoted, that at that time it was the custom of the scholars of that seminary to choose themselves confessors out of the masters or chaplains, to whom they were to confess [p.99] their sins. Herrick, in his Noble Numbers, has some lines on keeping Lent by fasting:

"To keep a true Lent.

"Is this a Fast, to keep
    The larder leane,
    And cleane,
From fat of veales and sheep?

Is it to quit the dish
    Of flesh, yet still
    To fill
The platter high with fish?

Is it to faste an houre,
    Or rag'd to go,
    Or show
A down-cast look and sowre?

No; 'tis a Fast to dole
    Thy sheaf of wheat,
    And meat,
Unto the hungry soule.

It is to fast from strife,
    From old debate,
    And hate;
To circumcise thy life;

To show a heart grief-rent,
    To starve thy sin,
    Not bin;
And that's to keep thy Lent."76

[Aubrey, in MS. Lansd. 231, gives the following very curious information: "It is the custom for the boys and girls in country schools, in several parts of Oxfordshire, at their breaking up in the week before Easter, to goe in a gang from house to house, with little clacks of wood, and when they come to any door, there they fall a-beating their clacks, and singing this song:


Herrings, herrings, white and red,
Ten a penny, Lent's dead;
Rise, dame, and give an egg
Or else a piece of bacon.
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for Jack a Lent's all
Away, Lent, away!

They expect from every house some eggs, or a piece of bacon, which they carry baskets to receive, and feast upon at the week's end. At first coming to the door, they all strike up very loud, "Herrings, herrings," &c., often repeated. As soon as they receive any largess, they begin the chorus,

"Here sits a good wife,
Pray God save her life;
Set her upon a hod,
And drive her to God."

But if they lose their expectation, and must goe away empty, then with a full cry,

"Here sits a bad wife
The devil take her life;
Set her upon a swivell,
And send her to the devill."

And, in further indignation, they commonly cut the latch of the door, or stop the key-hole with dirt, or leave some more nasty token of displeasure."]77

At Dijon, in Burgundy, it is the custom upon the first Sunday in Lent to make large fires in the streets, whence it is called Firebrand Sunday. This practice originated in the processions formerly made on that day by the peasants with lighted torches of straw, to drive away, as they called it, the bad air from the earth.

[Miss Plumptre has given us an account of a ceremony in Marseilles, on Ash Wednesday, called interring the carnival. A whimsical figure is dressed up to represent the carnival, which is carried, in the afternoon, in procession to Arrens, a small village on the sea-shore, about a mile out of the town, where it is pulled to pieces. This ceremony is usually attended by crowds of the inhabitants of Marseilles, of all ranks and classes.]


A Jack-of-Lent was a puppet formerly thrown at, in our own country, in Lent, like Shrove Cocks. So, in the Weakest goes to the Wall, 1600, "a mere anatomy, a Jack of Lent." Again, in the Four Prentices of London, 1615, " Now you old Jack of Lent six weeks and upwards," and in Green's Tu quoque, "for if a boy, that is throwing at his Jack o' Lent, chance to hit him on the shins." So, in the old Comedy of Lady Alimony, 1659:

"Throwing cudgels
At Jack- a-L cuts or Shrove-cocks."78

[Elderton, in a ballad, called Lenton Stuff, in a MS. in the Ashmolean Museum, thus concludes his account of Lent:

"Then Jake a Lent comes justlynge in,
With the hedpeece of a herynge,
And saythe, repent yowe of yower syn,
For shame, syrs, leve yower swerynge:
And to Palme Sonday doethe he ryde,
With sprots and herryngs by hys syde,
And makes an end of Lenton tyde!"]

In Quarle's Shepherd's Oracles, 1646, p. 88, we read,

"How like a Jack a Lent
He stands, for boys to spend their Shrove-tide throws,
Or like a puppit made to frighten crows."

[The term, as now used in the provinces, is applied to a scarecrow of old clothes, sometimes stuffed, and Fielding employs the term in that sense in his Joseph Andrews. It was also a term of contempt (See Halliwell's Dictionary, p. 481). Taylor, the Water-poet, wrote a very curious tract, called "Jack a Lent, his beginning and entertainment, with the mad prankes of his gentleman-usher, Shrove Tuesday, that [p.102] goes before him, and his footman Hunger attending," It commences as follows:

"Of Jacke an Apes I list not to endite,
Nor of Jack Daw my gooses quill shall write;
Of Jacke of Newbery I will not repeate,
Nor Jack of Both Sides, nor of Skipjacke neate.
But of the Jacke of Jackes, great Jacke a Lent,
To write his worthy acts is my intent."

It is a proverb in Norfolk that wherever the wind lies on Ash Wednesday, it continues during the whole of Lent.]


"March, various, fierce, and wild, with wind-crackt cheeks,
By wilder Welshman led, and crown'd with Leeks. CHURCHILL."

ACCORDING to Pitts, St. David, Archbishop of Menevy, now from him called St. David's, in Pembrokeshire, flourished in the fifth and sixth centuries of the Christian era, and died at the age of a hundred and forty years.79 [His day is still annually celebrated in London by the Society of Ancient Britons, and has long been assigned to the Welsh. In the Privy Purse Expenses of Henry VII., 1492, is the following entry under March 1st, " Walshemen, on St. David Day, 2."]

We read in the Festa Anglo-Romana, 1678, p. 29, that 4 the Britons on this day constantly wear a Leek, in memory of a famous and notable victory obtained by them over the Saxons; they, during the battle, having Leeks in their hats, [p.103] for their military colours and distinction of themselves, by the persuasion of the said prelate, St. David." Another account adds, that they were fighting under their king Cadwallo, near a field that was replenished with that vegetable. So, Walpole, in his British Traveller, tells us: "in the days of King Arthur, St. David won a great victory over the Saxons, having ordered every one of his soldiers to place a Leek in his cap, for the sake of distinction : in memory whereof the Welsh to this day wear a Leek on the first of March."

The following verses occur among Holmes' MS. collections in the British Museum, Harl. 1977, f. 9,

"I like the Leeke above all herbs and flowers,
When first we wore the same the feild was ours.
The Leeke is white and greene, whereby is ment
That Britaines are both stout and eminent;
Next to the Lion and the Unicorn,
The Leeke the fairest emblyn that is worne."

[In the Salysburye Prymer, 1533 are the following curious lines,

"Davyd of Wales loveth well lekes,
That wyll make Gregory lene chekes;
Yf Edwarde do eate some with them,
Mary sende hym to Bedlem."

The court at one time practised the custom of wearing leeks on this day; the Flying Post, 1699, informs us, "Yesterday, being St. David's Day, the King, according to custom, wore a leek in honour of the ancient Britons, the same being presented to him by the Serjeant-porter, whose place it is, and for which he claims the cloaths which his Majesty wore that day. The courtiers, in imitation of his Majesty, wore leeks likewise." Archseologia, xxxii. 399. Aubrey, MS. Lansd. 231, says, "the vulgar in the West of England doe call the moneth of March lide: a proverbial rhythm,

"Eate leekes in Lide, and Ramsins in May,
And all the year after Physitians may play."

The following proverbial sayings relative to this day are still current in the North of England,

"Upon St. David's day,
Put oats and barley in the clay."


"On the first of March,
The crows begin to search."

"First comes David, next come Chad,
And then comes Winnold as though he was mad."]

In the Diverting Post, No. 19, from Feb. 24 to March 3, 1705, we have these lines:

"Why on St. David's Day, do Welshmen seek
To beautify their hat with verdant Leek
Of nauseous smell? 'For honour 'tis,' hur say,
' Dulce et decorum est pro patria.'
Right, Sir, to die or fight it is, I think;
But how is't dulce, when you for it stink ?"

To a Querist in the British Apollo, 1708, vol. i. No. 10, asking, why do the Ancient Britons (viz. Welshmen) wear Leeks in their hats on the first of March? the following answer is given: "The ceremony is observed on the first of March, in commemoration of a signal victory obtained by the Britons, under the command of a famous general, known vulgarly by the name of St. David. The Britons wore a Leek in their hats to distinguish their friends from their enemies, in the heat of the battle." So Holt, in his Cambria, 1759, p. 63,

"In Cambria, 'tis said, tradition's tale Recounting, tells how fam'd Menevia's Priest Marshalled his Britons, and the Saxon host Discomfited; how the green Leek the bands Distinguished, since by Britons yearly worn, Commemorates their tutelary Saint."

Misson, in his Travels in England, translated by Ozell, p. 334, says, speaking of the Welsh, "On the day of St. David, their Patron, they formerly gain'd a victory over the English, and in the battle every man distinguish' d himself by wearing a Leek in his hat; and, ever since, they never fail to wear a Leek on that day. The King himself is so complaisant as to bear them company." In the Royal Apophthegms of King James, 1658, I read the following in the first page: "The Welchmen, in commemoration of the Great Fight by the Black Prince of Wales, do wear Leeks as their chosen ensign:" and the Episcopal Almanack for 1677 states that [p.105] St. David, who was of royal extraction, and uncle to king Arthur, "died aged a hundred and forty-six years, on the first of March, still celebrated by the Welsh, perchance to perpetuate the memory of his abstinence, whose contented mind made many a favourite meal on such roots of the earth." The commemoration of the British victory, however, appears to afford the best solution of wearing the Leek.80

[It would appear from some lines in Poor Robin's Almanack for 1757, that in England a Welshman was formerly burnt in effigy on this anniversary,

"But it would make a stranger laugh
To see th' English hang poor Taff:
A pair of breeches and a coat,
Hats, shoes, and stockings, and what not,
All stuffed with hay to represent
The Cambrian hero thereby meant:
With sword sometimes three inches broad,
And other armour made of wood,
They drag hur to some publick tree,
And hang hur up in effigy."

To this custom Pepys seems to allude in his Diary for 1667, "In Mark Lane I do observe (it being St. David's Day) the picture of a man dressed like a Welshman, hanging by the neck, upon one of the poles that stand out at the top of one of the merchant's houses in full proportion, and very handsomely done, which is one of the oddest sights I have seen a good while." Possibly arising from this was the practice till lately in vogue amongst pastrycooks of hanging or skewering taffies or Welshmen of gingerbread for sale on St. David's Day.]

Coles, in his Adam in Eden, says, concerning Leeks, "The Gentlemen in Wales have them in great regard, both for their feeding, and to wear in their hats upon St. David's Day."

In an old satirical Ballad, entitled "The Bishop's last [p.106] Good-night," a single sheet, dated 1642, the 14th stanza runs thus:

"Landaff, pro-vide for St. David's Day,
Lest the Leeke and Red-herring run away,
Are you resolved to go or stay?
You are called for Landaff:
Come in, Landaff."

Ray has the following proverb on this day,

"Upon St. David's Day, put oats and barley in the clay."

In Caxton's Description of Wales, at the end of the St. Alban's Chronicle, 1500, speaking of the "Manners and Rytes of the Walshemen," we read,

"They have gruell to potage,
And Leekes kynde to companage."

as also,

"Atte meete, and after eke,
Her solace is salt and Leeke."

In Shakespeare's play of Henry the Fifth, Act. v. Sc. 1, Gower asks Fluellen, "But why wear you your Leek to-day? Saint Davy's Day is past." From Fluellen's reply we gather, that he wore his Leek in consequence of an affront he had received but the day before from Pistol, whom he afterwards compels to eat Leek, skin and all, in revenge for the insult; quaintly observing to him, "When you take occasion to see Leeks hereafter, I pray you mock at them, that is all." Gower too upbraids Pistol for mocking "at an ancient tradition begun upon an honourable respect, and worn as a memorable trophy of pre-deceased valour."

[This seems to show that Shakespeare was acquainted with the tradition above quoted from the Festa Anglo-Romana. It is, however, sufficiently singular that Grimm quotes a passage from an ancient Edda in which a chieftain is represented as carrying an onion either as a returning conqueror, or because it was a custom to wear it at a name giving. See a paper by Mr. Thorns in the Archaeologia, xxxii. 398. The onion was held sacred by the ancient Egyptians, a superstition ridiculed by Juvenal,

"'Tis dangerous here
To violate an onion, or to stain
The sanctity of leeks with tooth profane."]


In the Flowers of the Lives of the most renowned Saints, we read of St. David, that "he died 1st March, about A.D. 550, which day, not only in Wales, but all England over, is most famous in memorie of him. But in these our unhappy daies, the greatest part of this solemnitie consisteth in wearing of a greene Leeke, and it is a sufficient theme for a zealous Welshman to ground a quarrell against him that doth not honour his capp with the like ornament that day."81 Ursula is introduced in the old play of the Vow-breaker, or the Fayre Maid of Clifton, 1636, as telling Anne "Thou marry German! His head's like a Welchman's crest on St. Davie's Day! He looks like a hoary frost in December! Now Venus blesse me, I'de rather ly by a statue!"

Owen, in his Cambrian Biography, 1803, p. 86, says: "In consequence of the romances of the middle ages which created the Seven Champions of Christendom, St. David has been dignified with the title of the Patron Saint of Wales: but this rank, however, is hardly known among the people of the Principality, being a title diffused among them from England in modern times. The writer of this account never heard of such a Patron Saint, nor of the Leek as his symbol, until he became acquainted therewith in London" He adds, "The wearing of the Leek on Saint David's Day probably originated from the custom of Cymhortha, or the neighbourly aid practised among farmers, which is of various kinds. In some districts of South Wales, all the neighbours of a small farmer without means appoint a day when they all attend to plough his lands and the like; and at such a time it is a custom for each individual to bring his portion of Leeks, to be used in making pottage for the whole company; and they bring nothing else but the Leeks in particular for the occasion." The reader is left to reconcile this passage with what has been already said upon the day.


[An amusing account of the origin of the leek custom is given in Howell's Cambrian Superstitions. The Welsh in olden days were so infested by ourang-outangs, that they could obtain no peace by night nor day, and not being themselves able to extirpate them, they invited the English, who came, but through some mistake, killed several of the Welsh themselves, so that in order to distinguish them from the monkeys, they desired them at last to stick leeks in their hats!

The leek is thus mentioned in the Antidote against Melancholy, 1661, speaking of Welsh food,

"And oat cake of Guarthenion,
With a goodly leek or onion,
To give as sweet a rellis
As e'er did harper Ellis."

The following amusing lines are found in Poor Robin's Almanack for 1757,

"The first of this month some do keep,
For honest Taff to wear his leek:
Who patron was, they say, of Wales,
And since that time, cuts plutter a nails,
Along the street this day doth strut
With hur green leek stuck in hur hat;
And if hur meet a shentletnan,
Salutes in Welsh, and if hur can
Discourse in Welsh, then hur shall be
Amongst the greenhorn'd Taffys free."]


THE Shamrock is said to be worn by the Irish upon the anniversary of this Saint, for the following reason. When the Saint preached the Gospel to the Pagan Irish, he illustrated the doctrine of the Trinity by showing them a trefoil, or three-leaved grass with one stalk, which operating to their conviction, the Shamrock, which is a bundle of this grass, [p.109] was ever afterwards worn upon this Saint's anniversary, to commemorate the event,82

"Chosen leaf
Of bard and chief,
Old Erin's native Shamrock."

The British Druids and bards had an extraordinary veneration for the number three. "The misletoe," says Vallancey, in his Grammar of the Irish Language, "was sacred to the Druids, because not only its berries, but its leaves also, grow in clusters of three united to one stock. The Christian Irish hold the Seamroy sacred in like manner, because of three leaves united to one stalk." Spenser, in his view of the State of Ireland, 1596, ed. 1633, p. 72, speaking of "these late warres of Mounster," before, "a most rich and plentifull countrey, full of corne and cattle," says the inhabitants were reduced to such distress that, "if they found a plot of watercresses or Shamrocks, there they flocked as to a feast for the time."

Mr. Jones, in his Historical Account of the Welsh Bards, 1794, p. 13, tells us, in a note, that "St. Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland, is said to be the son of Calphurnius and Concha. He was born in the Vale of Rhos, in Pembrokeshire, about the year 373." Mr. Jones, however, gives another pedigree of this Saint, and makes him of Caernarvonshire. [In fact, the various biographies of this holy personage are most conflicting, some asserting that he was born in Scotland.] He adds: "His original Welsh name was Maenwyn, and his ecclesiastical name of Patricius was given him by Pope Celestine, when he consecrated him a Bishop, and sent him missioner into Ireland, to convert the Irish, in 433. When St. Patrick landed near Wicklow, the inhabitants were ready [p.110] to stone him for attempting an innovation in the religion of their ancestors. He requested to be heard, and explained unto them that God is an omnipotent, sacred spirit, who created heaven and earth, and that the Trinity is contained in the Unity; but they were reluctant to give credit to his words. St. Patrick, therefore, plucked a trefoil from the ground, and expostulated with the Hibernians: 'Is it not as possible for the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as for these three three leaves, to grow upon a single stalk?' Then the Irish were immediately convinced of their error, and were solemnly baptized by St. Patrick."

In Sir Thomas Overbury's Characters, when describing a Footman, he says, "'Tis impossible to draw his picture to the life, cause a man must take it as he's running; onely this: horses are usually let bloud on St. Steven's Day: on S. Patricltes hee takes rest, and is drencht for all the yeare after, ed. 1615, sig. K3."83


IN the former days of superstition, while that of the Roman Catholics was the established religion, it was the custom for people to visit their Mother-Church on Mid-Lent Sunday, and to make their offering at the high altar. Cowel, in his Law Dictionary, observes that the now remaining [p.111] practice of Mothering, or going to visit parents upon Mid-Lent Sunday, is owing to that good old custom. Nay, it seems to be called Mothering from the respect so paid to the Mother-Church, when the Epistle for the day was, with some allusion, Galat. iv. 21, "Jerusalem Mater omnium" which Epistle for Mid-Lent Sunday we still retain, though we have forgotten the occasion of it.

The fourth Sunday in Lent, says Wheatly on the Common Prayer, 1848, p. 221, is generally called Mid-Lent, "though Bishop Sparrow, and some others, term it Dominica Refectionis, the Sunday of Refreshment; the reason of which, I suppose, is the Gospel for the day, which treats of our Saviour's miraculously feeding five thousand; or else, perhaps, from the first lesson in the morning, which gives us the story of Joseph's entertaining his brethren." He is of opinion, that "the appointment of these Scriptures upon this day might probably give the first rise to a custom still retained in many parts of England, and well known by the name of Mid-lenting or Mothering."84

The following is found in Herrick's Hesperides, p. 278:

"To Dianeme. A Ceremonie in Glocester.

"I 'le to thee a Simnell bring,
'Gainst thou go'st a mothering;
So that, when she blesseth thee,
Half that blessing thou'lt give me."

In the Gentleman's Magazine for February, 1784, p. 98, Mr. Nichols tells us, "that whilst he was an apprentice, the custom was to visit his mother (who was a native of Nottinghamshire) on Midlent Sunday (thence called Mothering Sunday) for a regale of excellent furmety."85 [A mothering cake is thus alluded to in Collins's Miscellanies, 1762, p. 114,

"Why, rot thee, Dick ! see Dundry's Peak
Lucks like a shuggard Motherin-cake."


The mothering cakes are very highly ornamented, artists being employed to paint them. It is also usual for children to make presents to their mother on this day, and hence the name of the festival is vulgarly derived.]

A correspondent in the same journal for 1783, p. 578, says: "Some things customary probably refer simply to the idea of feasting or mortification, according to the season and occasion. Of these, perhaps, are Lamb's Wool on Christmas Eve; Furmety on Mothering Sunday; Braggot (which is a mixture of ale, sugar, and spices) at the Festival of Easter; and Cross-buns, Saffron-cakes, or Symnels, in Passion week; though these being, formerly at least, unleavened, may have a retrospect to the unleavened bread of the Jews, in the same manner as Lamb at Easter to the Paschal Lamb." Macaulay, in his History and Antiquities of Claybrook, 1791, p. 128, says: "Nor must I omit to observe that by many of the parishioners due respect is paid to Mothering Sunday." In a curious Roll of the Expenses of the Household of 18 Edw. I. remaining in the Tower of London, and communicated to the Society of Antiquaries in 1805, is the following item on Mid-Lent Sunday. "Pro pisis j.d.," i.e. for pease one penny. Were these pease substitutes for furmenty, or carlings, which are eaten at present in the North of England on the following Sunday, commonly called by the vulgar Carling Sunday?

Another writer in the Gent. Mag. 1784, p. 343, tells us,

"I happened to reside last year near Chepstow, in Monmouthshire; and there, for the first time, heard of Mothering Sunday. My enquiries into the origin and meaning of it were fruitless; but the practice thereabouts was, for all servants and apprentices, on Mid-Lent Sunday, to visit their parents, and make them a present of money, a trinket, or some nice eatable ; and they are all anxious not to fail in this custom."86



At Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and many other places in the North of England, grey peas, after having been steeped a night in water, are fried with butter, given away, and eaten at a kind of entertainment on the Sunday preceding Palm Sunday, which was formerly called Care or Carle Sunday, as may be yet seen in some of our old almanacks. They are called Carlings, probably, as we call the presents at Fairs, Fairlings.

In Randal Holme's Academy of Armory and Blazon, 1688, iii. 3, p. 130, I find the following: "Carle Sunday is the second Sunday before Easter, or the fifth Sunday from Shrove Tuesday."

In the Glossary to the Lancashire Dialect, 1775, Carlings are explained: "Peas boiled on Care Sunday, i.e. the Sunday before Palm Sunday." So in the popular old Scottish song, "Fy! let us all to the Briddel:"

"Ther'll be all the lads and the lasses
Set down in the midst of the ha,
With sybows, and rifarts,87 and darlings,
That are both sodden and ra."

[Hone quotes an account of a robbery in 1825, in which an allusion is made to this custom: "It appeared that Hindmarch had been at Newcastle on Carling Sunday, a day so called because it is the custom of the lower orders in the North of England to eat immense quantities of small peas, called carlings, fried in butter, pepper, and salt, on the second Sunday before Easter, and that on his way home about half-past ten his watch was snatched from him."]

This day is also called Passion Sunday in some old almanacks. In the Gent. Mag. for 1785, p. 779, an advertisement for the regulation of Newark Fair is copied, which mentions that "Careinff Fair will be held on Friday before Careing Sunday:" and Nichols remarks on this passage, that he had heard the following old Nottinghamshire couplet:

"Care Sunday, Care away;
Palm Sunday, and Easter-day."88


Another writer in the Gent. Mag. for 1789, p. 491, tells us that, "in several villages in the vicinity of Wisbech, in the Isle of Ely, the fifth Sunday in Lent has been, time immemorial, commemorated by the name of Whirlin Sunday, when Cakes are made by almost every family, and are called, from the day, Whirlin Cakes."89 In Yorkshire, the rustics go to the public-house of the village on this day, and spend each their Carling groat, i.e. that sum in drink, for the Carlings are provided for them gratis; and a popular notion prevails there that those who do not do this will be unsuccessful in their pursuits for the following year.

Rites, peculiar, it should seem, to Good Friday, were used on this day, which the Church of Rome called, therefore, Passion Sunday. Durand assigns many superstitious reasons to confirm this, but they are too ridiculous to be transcribed. Lloyd tells us, in his Dial of Days, that on the 12th of March, at Rome, they celebrated the Mysteries of Christ and his Passion with great ceremony and much devotion.

In the old Roman Calendar so often cited, I find it observed on this day, that "a dole is made of soft Beans."89 I can hardly entertain a doubt but that our custom is derived from hence. It was usual amongst the Romanists to give away beans in the doles at funerals: it was also a rite in the funeral ceremonies of heathen Rome.90 Why we have substituted [p.115] peas I know not, unless it was because they are a pulse somewhat fitter to be eaten at this season of the year. They are given away in a kind of dole at this day. Our Popish ancestors celebrated (as it were by anticipation) the funeral of our Lord on this Care Sunday, with many superstitious usages, of which this only, it should seem, has travelled down to us. Durand tells us, that on Passion Sunday, "the church began her public grief, remembering the mystery of the Cross, the vinegar, the gall, the reed, the spear," &c. There is a great deal of learning in Erasmus's Adages concerning the religious use of beans, which were thought to belong to the dead. An observation which he gives us of Pliny, concerning Pythagoras's interdiction of this pulse, is highly remarkable. It is, "that Beans contain the souls of the dead." For which cause also they were used in the Parentalia. Plutarch also, he tells us, held that pulse was of the highest efficacy for invoking the manes. Ridiculous and absurd as these superstitions may appear, it is yet certain that our Carlings thence deduce their origin.

These beans, it should seem from the following passage in Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, were hallowed. He is enumerating Popish superstitions: "Their Breviaries, Bulles, hallowed Beans, Exorcisms, Pictures, curious Crosses, Fables, and Babies," Democritus to the Reader, ed. 1632, p. 29. Bale, in his Yet a Course at the Romysh Foxe, attributes to Pope Euticianus "the blessynge of benes upon the aultar."91

In Fosbrooke's British Monachism, ii. 127, is the following:

"At Barking Nunnery the annual store of provision consisted, inter alia, of Green Peas for Lent; Green Peas against Mid-summer;" and in the Order and Government of a Nobleman's House, in the Archaeologia, xiii. 373, "if one will have pease soone in the year following, such pease are to be sowenne [p.116] in the waine of the moone at St. Andre's tide before Christmas."

In Smith's MS. Lives of the Lords of Berkeley, in the possession of the Earl of Berkeley, p. 49, we read that on the anniversary of the Founder of St. Augustine's, Bristol, i.e. Sir Robert Fitzharding, on the 5th of February, "at that monastery there shall be one hundred poore men refreshed, in a dole made unto to them in this forme: every man of them hath a ehanon's loafe of bread, called a myche,92 and three hearings therewith. There shall be doaled also amongst them two bushells of pesys. And in the anniversary daye of Dame Eve" (Lady Eve, wife of the above Sir Robert), "our Foundresse, a dole shalbe made in this forme: that daye shalbe doled to fifty poore men fifty loafes called miches, and to each three hearings, and, amongst them all, one bushell of pease." Lord Robert Fitzharding died Feb. 5th, 1170, and Dame Eve died in 1173.

The vulgar, in the North of England, give the following names to the Sundays of Lent, the first of which is anonymous:

Tid, Mid, Misera,
Carliny, Palm, Paste Egg day.93

The three first are certainly corruptions of some part of the ancient Latin Service, or Psalms, used on each.

The word Care is preserved in the subsequent account of an obsolete custom at marriages in this kingdom. "According to the use of the Church of Sarum," says Blount, in his Glossographia, 1681, p. 108, "when there was a marriage before Mass, the parties kneel'd together, and had a fine linen cloth (called the Care Cloth) laid over their heads during the time of Mass, till they received the benediction, and then were dismissed." Palsgrave calls this the carde clothe, and seems to say that it was in his time (1530) out of use. (Halliwell's Dictionary, p. 232.)


I suspect the following passage to be to our purpose. Skelton, in his Colin Clout, has these words, in his usual style:

"Men call you therefore propbanes,
Ye pick no shrympes, nor pranes;
Salt-fish, stock-fish, nor herring,
It is not for your wearing.
Nor, in holy Lenton Season,
Ye will neither Beanes ne Peason,
But ye look to be let loose
To a pigge or to a goose."

In a book, intituled A World of Wonders, 1607, translated by R. C. from the French copy, speaking of a Popish book, intituled Quadragesimale Spirituale, printed at Paris, 1565, the writer extracts certain periods. Thus, chap. 2: "After the sallad (eaten in Lent at the first service) we eat fried beanes, by which we understand Confession. When we would have beanes well sooden, we lay them in steepe, for otherwise they will never seeth kindly. Therefore, if we purpose to
amend our faults, it is not sufficient barely to confess them at all adventure, but we must let our confession lie in steepe in the water of Meditation." And a little after: "We do not use to seeth ten or twelve beans together, but as many as we meane to eate; no more must we steepe, that is, meditate, upon ten or twelve sinnes onely, neither for ten or twelve dayes, but upon all the sinnes that ever we committed, even from our birth, if it were possible to remember them." Chap. 3: "Strained pease (Madames) are not to be forgotten. You know how to handle them so well, that they will be delicate and pleasant to the tast. By these strained pease onr allegorizing flute pipeth nothing else but true contrition of heart. River-water, which continually moveth, runneth, and floweth, is very good for the seething of pease. We must (I say) have contrition for our sins, and take the runninyloater, that is, the teares of the hearty which must runne and come even into the eyes."

Googe, in his Popish Kingdome, has the following summary for Care Sunday, f. 49:

"Now comes the Sunday forth of this same great and holy faste:
Here doth the Pope the shriven blesse, absolving them at last
From all their sinnes; and of the Jewes the law he doth allow,
As if the power of God had not sufficient bene till now,


Or that the law of Moyses here were still of force and might,
In these same happie dayes, when Christ doth raigne with heavenly light.
The boyes with ropes of straw doth frame an ugly monster here,
And call him Death, whom from the towne,with prowd and solemne chere.
To hilles and valleyes they convey, and villages thereby,
From whence they stragling doe returne, well beaten commonly.
Thus children also beare, with speares, their cracknelles round about,
And two they have, whereof the one is called Sommer stout,
Apparalde all in greene, and drest in youthfull fine araye
The other Winter, clad in mosse, with heare all hoare and graye:
These two togither fight, of which the palme doth Sommer get.
From hence to meate they go, and all with wine their whistles wet.
The other toyes that in this time of holly fastes appeare,
I loth to tell, nor order like, is used every wheare."

[On this day at Seville there is an usage evidently the remains of an old custom. Children of all ranks, poor and gentle, appear in the streets, fantastically dressed with caps of gilt and coloured paper. During the whole day they make an incessant din with drums and rattles, and cry, "Saw down the old woman." At midnight parties of the commonalty parade the streats, knock at every door, repeat the same cries, and conclude by sawing in two the figure of an old woman representing: Lent. This division is emblematical of Mid- Lent.]


THIS is evidently called Palm Sunday because, as the Ritualists say, on that day the boughs of Palm-trees used to be carried in procession, in imitation of those which the Jews strewed in the way of Christ when he went up to Jerusalem. The Palm-tree was common in Judea, and planted, no doubt, everywhere by the waysides. Sprigs of Boxwood are still used as a substitute for Palms in Roman Catholic countries. The Consecration Prayer seems to leave a latitude for the species of Palm used instead of the real Palm.93


The author of the Festyvall, 1511, f. 28, speaking of the Jews strewing Palm-branches before Christ, says: "And thus we take palme and floures in the processyon as they dyde, and go in processyon knelynge to the Crosse in the worshyp and mynde of hym that was done on the Crosse, worshyppynge and welcomynge hym with songe into the Chyrche, as the people dyde our Lord into the cyte of Jherusalem. It is called Palme Sondaye for bycause the Palme betokeneth vyctory, wherefore all Crysten people sholde here Palme in processyon, in tokennynge that he hath foughten with the fende our enemy e, and hath the vyctory of hym." In the Horda Angel-Cynnan, iii. 174, Strutt cites an old manuscript, printed also in Caxton's Directions for Keeping Feasts, which says, "Wherfor holi Chirche this daye makith soleinpne processyon, in mynde of the processyon that Cryst made this dey: but for encheson94 that wee have noone olyve
that bearith greene leves, therefore we taken palme, and geven instede of olyve, and beare it about in processione. So is thys daye called Palme Sonday."95 A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine, Dec. 1779, p. 579, observes on the above, "It is evident that something called a Palm was carried in procession on Palm Sunday. What is meant by our having no olive that beareth green leaves I do not know. Now it is my idea that these palms, so familiarly mentioned, were no [p.120] other than the branches of yew-trees." Googe, in the Popish Kingdome, f. 42, says:

"Besides they candles up do light, of vertue like in all,
And willow branches hallow, that they palmes do use to call.
This done, they verily beleeve the tempest nor the storme
Can neyther hurt themselves, nor yet their cattel, nor their come."

Coles, also, in his Adam in Eden, speaking of Willow, tells us, "The blossoms come forth before any leaves appear, and are in their most flourishing estate usually before Easter, divers gathering them to deck up their houses on Palm Sunday, and therefore the said flowers are called Palme." Newton, in his Herball for the Bible, 1587, p. 206, after mentioning that the Box-tree and the Palm were often confounded together, adds: "This error grew (as I thinke) at the first for that the common people in some countries used to decke their church with the boughes and branches thereof on the Sunday next before Easter, commonly called Palme Sunday; for at that time of the yeare all other trees, for the most part, are not blowen or blomed."

In Nichols's Extracts from Churchwardens' Accompts, 1797, among those of St. Martin Outwich, London, we have these articles: 1510-11, "First, paid for Palme, Box-floures, and Cakes, iiij d.; 1525: Paid for Palme on Palme Sunday, ij d. ib. Paid for Kaks, Flowers and Yow, ij d." The following similar entries occur in the churchwardens' accounts of the parish of Alhallows, Staining: "Item, for paulme-Jiowers, cakes, trashes, and for thred on Palme Sonday, viij d: Item for box andpalme on Palme Sondaye: Item for gennepore for the church e, ij d."

Stow, in his Survay of London, 1603, p. 98, under "Sports and Pastimes," tells us, that "in the weeke before Easter had ye great shewes made for the fetching in of a twisted tree or with,96 as they termed it, out of the woodes into the kinge's house, and the like into every man's house of honor or worship." This must also have been a substitute for the palm. An instance of the high antiquity of this practice in England [p.121] is afforded by the Domesday Survey, under Shropshire, i. 252, where a tenant is stated to have rendered in payment a bundle of box twigs on Palm Sunday, "Terra dimid. car unus reddit mdefascem buxi in die Palmarum"

The Church of Rome has given the following account of her ceremonies on this day, as described in the Rhemists' Translation of the New Testament: "The blessed sacrament reverently carried, as it were Christ upon the Ass, with strawing of bushes and flowers, bearing of palms, setting out boughs, spreading and hanging up the richest clothes, &c., all done in a very goodly ceremony to the honour of Christ, and the memory of his triumph upon this day."

In the Statistical Account of Scotland, 1 795, xv. 45, parish of Lanark, county of Lanark, we read of "a gala kept by the boys of the grammar-school, beyond all memory in regard to date, on the Saturday before Palm Sunday. They then parade the streets with a Palm, or its substitute, a large tree of the willow kind, Salix caprea, in blossom, ornamented with daffodils, mezereon, and box-tree. This day is called Palm Saturday, and the custom is certainly a Popish relic of very ancient standing."

I know not how it has come to pass, but to wear the willow an other occasions has long implied a man's being forsaken by his mistress. Thus the following, from a Pleasant Grove of New Fancies, 1657:

"The Willow Garland.

"A willow garland thou didst send
Perfum'd last day to me,
Which did but only this portend
I was forsook by thee.

"Since it is so, Fie tell thee what,
To-morrow thou shalt see
Me weare the willow, after that
To dye upon the tree."

[Shakespeare alludes to the custom in Much Ado about Nothing, act ii. sc. 1, "Even to the next willow about your own business, Count: what fashion will you wear the garland of?" This tree, says Douce, might have been chosen as the symbol of sadness from the Psalm, "We hanged our harps [p.122] upon the willows in the midst thereof;" or else from a coincidence between the weeping willow and falling tears. Another reason has been assigned. The Agnus Castus was supposed to promote chastity, "and the willow being of a much like nature," says Swan, in his Speculum Mundi, 1635, it is yet a custom that he which is deprived of his love must wear a willow garland."]

The Columbine, too, by the following passage from Browne's Britannia's Pastorals, had the same import, ii. 81:

"The Columbine, in tawing often taken,
Is then ascrib'd to such as are forsaken."

The following, "To the Willow Tree," is in Herrick's Hesperides, p. 120:

"Thou art to all lost love the best,
The only true plant found,
Wherewith young men and maids, distrest
And left of love, are crown'd.

"When once the lover's rose is dead,
Or laid aside forlorne,
Then willow-garlands 'bout the head,
Bedew'd with tears, are worne.

"When with neglect (the lover's bane)
Poor maids rewarded be,
For their love lost, their onely gaine
Is but a wreathe from thee.

"And underneath thy cooling shade
(When weary of the light)
The love-sick youth and love-sick maid
Come to weep out the night."

In Lilly's Sappho and Phao, ii. 4, is the folio wing passage: "Enjoy thy care in covert; weare willow in thy nut, and bayes in thy heart." A willow, also, in Fuller's Worthies (Cambr. p. 144), is described as "a sad tree, whereof such who have lost their love, make their mourning garlands, and we know what exiles hung up their harps upon such dolefull supporters. The twiggs hereof are physick to drive out the folly of children. This tree delighteth in moist places, and is triumphant in the Isle of Ely, where the roots strengthen their banks, and lop affords fuel! for their fire. It groweth incre- [p.123] dibly fast, it being a by-word in this county, that the profit by willows will buy the owner a horse before that by other trees will pay for his saddle. Let me adde, that if green ashe may burne before a queen, withered willows may be allowed to burne before a lady." To an inquiry in the British Apollo, vol. ii. No. 98, 1710, "why are those who have lost their love said to wear the willow garlands?" it is answered, " because willow was in ancient days, especially among herdsmen and rusticks, a badge of mourning, as may be collected from the several expressions of Virgil, in his Eclogues, where the nymphs and herdsmen are frequently introduced sitting under a willow mourning their loves. You may observe the same in many Greek authors, I mean poets, who take liberty to feign any sort of story. For the ancients frequently selected, and, as it were, appropriated several trees as indexes or testimonials of the various passions of mankind, from whom we continue at this day to use ewe and rosemary at funerals, in imitation of antiquity; these two being representatives of a dead person, and willow of love dead or forsaken. You may observe that the Jews, upon their being led into captivity, Psalm 137, are said to hang their harps upon willows, i.e. trees appropriated to men in affliction and sorrow, who had lost their beloved Sion."

In Marston's play of What you Will, ed. 1663, sig. 0, where a lover is introduced serenading his mistress, we read "he sings, and is answered; from above a willow garland is flung downe, and the song ceaseth." "Is this my favour? am I crown'd with scorne?"

[The earliest willow song is contained in a MS. collection of poems by John Heywood, about 1530.

"All a grene wyllow, wyllow, wyllow,
All a grene wyllow is my garland.
Alas! by what meane may I make ye to know
The unkyndnes for kyndnes, that to me doth growe?
That wone who most kynd love on me shoold bestow,
Most unkynd unkyndnes to me she doth show,
For all a grene wyllow is my garland!"]

In the Comical Pilgrim's Travels thro' England, 1723, p. 23, is the following: "Huntingdonshire is a very proper county for unsuccessful lovers to live in; for, upon the loss of their sweethearts, they will here find an abundance of willow-trees, so that they may either wear the willow green or [p.124] hang themselves, which they please: but the latter is reckoned the best remedy for slighted love." Coles, in his Art of Simpling, an Introduction to the Knowledge of Plants, p. 65, says, "the willow garland is a thing talked of, but I had rather talk of it then weare it."

"Wylowe-tree hit is sayd that the sede therof is of this vertue, that, if a man drynke of hit, he shall gete no sones, but only bareyne doughters." Bartholomeus de Prooriet. Rerum, fol. Lond. T. Berth, fol. 286.

[The practice does not appear to be obsolete. Macaulay, in his History of Claybrook, 1791, says, "the only custom now remaining at weddings, that tends to recall a classical image to the mind, is that of sending to a disappointed lover a garland made of willow, variously ornamented, accompanied sometimes with a pair of gloves, a white handkerchief, and a smelling-bottle."] According to Owen's Welsh Dictionary, in v. Cole, "There is an old custom of presenting a forsaken lover with a stick or twig of hazel; probably in allusion to the double meaning of the word. Of the same sense is the following proverb, supposed to be the answer of a widow, on being asked why she wept : f painful is the smoke of the hazel.'"

[At Kempton, in Hertfordshire, it has long been a custom for the inhabitants to eat figs on this day, there termed figSunday, when it is also usual for them to keep wassel, and make merry with their friends. A grocer in that village assured Hone that more figs were sold there the few days previous than in all the rest of the year.]

Naorgeorgus's description of the ceremonies on Palm Sunday is thus translated by Barnabe Googe:

"Here comes that worthie day wherein our Savior Christ is thought
To come unto Jerusalem, on asse's shoulders brought:
Whenas againe these papistes fonde their foolish pageantes have
With pompe and great solemnitie, and countnaunce wondrous grave.
A woodden asse they have,97 and image great that on him rides,
But underneath the asse's feete a table broad there slides,


Being borne on wheeles, which ready drest, and al things meete therfore,
The asse is brought abroad and set before the churche's doore:
The people all do come, and bowes of trees andpalmes they bere
Which things against the tempest great the Parson conjures there,
And straytwayes downe before the asse upon his face he lies,
Whome there another priest doth strike with rodde of largest sise:
He rising up, two lubbours great upon their faces fall
In straunge attire, and lothsomely with filthie tune they ball;
Who, when againe they risen are, with stretching out their hande,
They poynt unto the wooden knight, and, singing as they stande,
Declare that that is he that came into the worlde to save
And to redeeme such as in him their hope assured have:
And even the same that long agone, while in the streate he roade,
The people mette, and olive bowes so thicke before him stroade.
This being soung, the people cast the braunches as they passe,
Some part upon the image, and some part upon the asse,
Before whose feete a wondrous heape of bowes and braunches ly:
This done, into the church he strayght is drawne full solemly:
The shaven priestes before them marche, the people follow fast,
Still striving who shall gather first the bowes that downe are cast;
For falsely they beleeve that these have force and vertue great
Against the rage of winter stormes and thunders flashing heate.
In some place wealthie citizens, and men of sober chere,
For no small summe doe hire this asse, with them about to bere.
And manerly they use the same, not suffering any by
To touch this asse, nor to presume unto his presence ny.
Whenas the priestes and people all have ended this their sport,
The boyes doe after dinner come, and to the church resort :
The sexten pleasde with price, and looking well no harme be done,
They take the asse, and through the streetes and crooked lanes they rone,
Whereas they common verses sing, according to the guise,
The people giving money, breade, and egges of largest sise.
Of this their gaines they are compelde the maister halfe to give,
Least he alone without his Dortion of the asse should live."

In the Doctrine of the Masse Booke, concerning the making of Holye-water, Salt, Breade, Candels, Ashes, Fyre, Insence, Pascal, Pascal-lambe, Egges, and Herbes, the Marying-rynge, the Pilgrhnes Wallet, Staffe, and Crosse, truly translated into Englishe, Anno Domini 1554, the 2 of May, from Wyttonburge, by Nicholas Dorcaster, we have: "The Hallowing of Palmes. When the Gospel is ended, let ther follow the halowyng of flouers and braunches by the priest, being araied with, a redde cope, upon the thyrde step of the altare, turning [p.126] him toward the south: the palmes, wyth the flouers, being fyrst laied aside upon the altere for the clarkes, and for the other upon the steppe of the altere on the south side." Prayers: "I conjure the, thou creature of flouers andbraunches, in the name of God the Father Almighty, and in the name of Jesu Christ hys sonne our Lord, and in the vertue of the Holy Ghost. Therfore be thou rooted out and displaced from this creature of flouers and braunches, al thou strength of the Adversary, al thou host of the Divell, and al thou power of the enemy, even every assault of Divels, that thou overtake not the foote-steps of them that haste unto the grace of God. Thorow him that shal come to judge the quicke and the deade and the world by fyre. Amen." "Almightye eternal God, who at the pouring out of the floude diddest declare to thy servaunt Noe by the mouthe of a dove, bearing an olive braunch, that peace was restored agayne upon earth, we humblye beseche the that thy truthe may + sanctifie this creature of flouers and branches, and slips of palmes, or bowes of trees, which we offer before the presence of thy glory ; that the devoute people bearing them in their handes, may meryte to optayne the grace of thy benediction. Thorowe Christe," &c. There follow other prayers, in which occur these passages: After the flowers and branches are sprinkled with holy-water Blesse + and sanctifie + these braunches of palmes, and other trees and flouers concluding with this rubrick: So whan these thynges are fynyshed, let the palmes immediately be distributed."98


It is still customary with our boys, both in the south and north of England, to go out and gather slips with the willow-flowers or buds at this time. These seem to have been selected as substitutes for the real palm, because they are generally the only things, at this season, which can be easily procured, in which the power of vegetation can be discovered. It is even yet a common practice in the neighbourhood of London. The young people go a palming; and the sallow is sold in London streets for the whole week preceding Palm Sunday, the purchaser commonly not knowing the tree which produces it, but imagining it to be the real palm, and wondering that they never saw the tree growing! It appears, however, from a passage quoted in Halliwell's Dictionary, p. 600, that the sallow was anciently so called. In the North, it is called, "going a palmsoning of palmsning."

In a Short Description of Antichrist, &c., is the following:

"They also, upon Palmes Sonday, lifte up a cloth, and say, hayle our Kynge! to a rood made of a wooden blocke." At f. 8, is noted the Popish "hallowinge of Palme Stickes."99


[The following lines occur in some curious verses on Palm Sunday in a MS. of the fourteenth century in the British Museum, MS. Sloane 2478.

"Nou 366 that bereth to day jour palme,
Wei aujte je queme such a qualm,
    to Crist sour herte al jyve;
As dude the chyldren of tholde lawe,
3yf je hym lovede, 56 scholde wel vawe
    boe by tyme schryve.

Lewede, that bereth palm an honde,
That nuteth what palm ys tonderstonde,
    anon ichulle jou telle;
Hit is a tokne that alle and some
That buth y-schryve, habbeth overcome
    alle the develes of helle.

3yf eny habbeth braunches y-brojt,
And buth un-schryve, bar bost nys nojt
    ajee the fend to fyjte;
Hy maketh ham holy as y were,
Vort hy boe schryve hy schulleth boe skere
    of loem of hevene lyjte."]

The ceremony of bearing palms on Palm Sunday was retained in England after some others were dropped, and was one of those which Henry V11L, in 1536, declared were not to be contemned and cast away. In a Proclamation in the library of the Society of Antiquaries, dated 26th February 1539, "concernyng rites and ceremonies to be used in due fourme in the Churche of Englande," wherein occurs the following clause: "On Palme Sonday it shall be declared that bearing of Palmes renueth the memorie of the receivinge of [p.129] Christe in lyke maner into Jerusalem before his deathe." In Fuller's Church History, also, p. 222, we read that "bearing of palms on Palm Sunday is in memory of the receiving of Christ into Hierusalem a little before his death, and that we may have the same desire to receive him into our hearts." Palms were used to be borne here with us till 2 Edw. VI.; and the Rhenish translators of the New Testament mention also the bearing of Palms on this day in their country when it was Catholic.100

A similar interpretation of this ceremony to that given in King Henry the Eighth's Proclamation, occurs in Bishop Bonner's Injunctions, 4to. 1555. "To cary their palmes discreatlye," is among the Roman Catholic customs censured by John Bale, in his Declaration of Bonner's Articles, 1554, as is, "to conjure palmes." In Howes' s edition of Stow's Chronicle, it is stated, under the year 1548, that "this yeere the ceremony of bearing of palmes on Palme Sonday was left off, and not used as before." That the remembrance of this custom, however, was not lost is evident. In "Articles to be enquired of within the Archdeaconry of Yorke, by the churche wardens and sworne men, A.D. 163 +," I find the following, alluding, it should seem, both to this day and Holy Thursday: "Whether there be any superstitious use of Crosses with Towels, Palmes, Metwands, or other memories of idolaters." Douce says, "I have somewhere met with a proverbial saying, that he that hath not a Palm in his hand on Palm Sunday must have his hand cut off."

In Yet a Course at the Romysh Foxe, a Dysclosynge or Openynge of the Manne of Synne, contayned in the late Declaration of the Pope's olde Faythe made by Edmonde Boner, Byshopp of London, &c. by Johan Harryson (J. Bale) printed at Zurik, A.D. 1542, 8vo., the author enumerates some "auncyent rytes and lawdable ceremonyes of holy churche," then it should seem laid aside, in the following censure of the Bishop: "Than ought my Lorde also to suffre the same selfe ponnyshment for not rostyng egges in the Palme ashes fyre," &c. In Dives and Pauper, cap. iv. we read: "On Palme Sondaye at procession the priest drawith up the veyle before the rode, and falleth down to the ground with all [p.130] the people, and saith thrice, Ave Rex Noster, Hayle be thou our King. He speketh not to the image that the carpenter hath made, and the peinter painted, but if the priest be a fole, for that stock or stone was never King; but he speakethe to hyna that died on the crosse, for us all, to him that is Kynge of all thynge."101

"Upon Palm Sunday," says Carew, in his Survey of Cornwall, "at our Lady Want's Well, at Little Golan, idle-laeaded seekers resorted, with a palm crosse in one hand and an offering in the other. The offering fell to the priest's share; the cross they threw into the well, which, if it swainme, the party should outlive that yeare; if it sunk, a short ensuing death was boded, and perhaps not altogether untruly, while a foolish conceyt of this halsenyng (i.e. omen) might the sooner help it onwards."

The Russians (of the Greek Church) have a very solemn procession on Palm Sunday.

[There is a very singular ceremony at Caistor Church, Lincolnshire, on Palm Sunday, which must not be passed over unnoticed. A deputy from Broughton brings a very large [p.131] ox-whip, called there a gad- whip. Gad is an old Lincolnshire measure of ten feet ; the stock of the gad-whip is, perhaps, of the same length. The whip itself is constructed as follows. A large piece of ash, or any other wood, tapered towards the top, forms the stock; it is wrapt with white leather half way down, and some small pieces of mountain ash are inclosed. The thong is very large, and made of strong white leather. The man comes to the north porch about the commencement of the first lesson, and cracks his whip in front of the porch door three times ; he then, with much ceremony, wraps the thong round the stock of the whip, puts some rods of moun- tain ash lengthwise upon it, and binds the whole together with whipcord. He next ties to the top of the whip-stock a purse containing two shillings (formerly this sum was in twenty-four silver pennies); then taking the whole upon his shoulder, he marches into the church, where he stands in front of the reading-desk till the commencement of the second lesson: he then goes up nearer, waves the purse over the head of the clergyman, kneels down on a cushion, and continues in that position, with the purse suspended over the clergyman's head till the lesson is ended. After the service is concluded, he carries the whip, &c. to the manor-house of Undon, a hamlet adjoining, where he leaves it. There is a new whip made every year ; it is made at Broughton and left at Undon. Certain lands in the parish of Broughton are held by the tenure of this annual custom.]


"While April morn her Folly's throne exalts;
While Dobb calls Nell, and laughs because she halts;
While Nell meets Tom, and says his tail is loose,
Then laughs in turn and call poor Thomas goose;
Let us, my Muse, thro' Folly's harvest range,
And glean some Moral into Wisdom's grange."
        Verses on several Occasions, 8vo. Lond. 1782, p. 50.

A CUSTOM prevails everywhere among us on the 1st of April, when everybody strives to make as many fools as he [p.132] can. The wit chiefly consists in sending persons on what are called sleeveless errands,102 for the History of Eve's Mother, for Pigeon's Milk, with similar ridiculous absurdities. ["A neighbour of mine," says the Spectator, "who is a haber-dasher by trade, and a very shallow conceited fellow, makes his boasts that for these ten years successively he has not made less than a hundred fools. My landlady had a falling out with him about a fortnight ago for sending every one of her children upon some sleeveless errand, as she terms it. Her eldest son went to buy a halfpenny worth of incle at a shoemaker's; the eldest daughter was despatched half a mile to see a monster; and, in short, the whole family of innocent children made April fools."] He takes no notice of the rise of this singular kind of anniversary, and I find in Poor Robin's Almanack for 1760 a metrical description of the modern fooleries on the 1st of April, with the open avowal of being ignorant of their origin:

"The first of April some do say,
Is set apart for All Fools Day;
But why the people call it so,
Nor I nor they themselves do know.
But on this day are people sent
On purpose for pure merriment;
And though the day is known before,
Yet frequently there is great store
Of these forgetfuls to be found,
Who're sent to dance Moll Dixon's round;
And, having tried each shop and stall,
And disappointed at them all,


At last some tells them of the cheat,
Then they return from the pursuit,
And straightway home with shame they run,
And others laugh at what is done.
But 'tis a thing to be disputed,
Which is the greatest fool reputed,
The man that innocently went,
Or he that him design'dly sent."

[The Bairnsla Foaks Annual for 1844 says, "Ah think ah need ant tell you at this iz April-fooil-day, cos, if yor like me, yol naw all abaght it, for ah wonce sent a this day to a stashoner's shop for't seckand edishan a Cock Robin, an a haupath a crockadile quills; ah thowt fasure, at when ah axt for am, at chap it shop ad a splittin t'caanter top we laffiin."] A similar epoch seems to have been observed by the Romans, as appears from Plutarch, ed. 1599, ii. 285, "Why do they call the Quirinalia the Feast of Fools? Either, because they allowed this day (as Juba tells us) to those who could not ascertain their own tribes, or because they permitted those who had missed the celebration of the Fornacalia in their proper tribes along with the rest of the people, either from business, absence, or ignorance, to hold their festival apart on this day."

[The following verses on the tricks practised on this day occur in Poor Robin's Almanack for 1738,

"No sooner doth St. All-fools morn approach,
But waggs, e'er Phebus mount his gilded coach,
In sholes assemble to employ their sense,
In sending fools to get intelligence;
One seeks hen's teeth, in farthest part of th' town;
Another pigeons milk; a third a gown,
From stroling coblers stall, left there by chance;
Thus lead the giddy tribe a merry dance:
And to reward them for their harmless toil,
The cobler 'noints their limbs with stirrup oil.
Thus by contrivers inadvertent jest,
One fool expos'd makes pastime for the rest.
Thus a fam'd cook became the common joke,
By frying an unboiled artichoak,
And turn'd his former glory into smoak.
Oft have I seen a subtle monkey fix
His eyes, intent on our weak, silly tricks,
No sooner shall our backs be turn'd but he.
Will act distinctly each deformity.
Where then is room to follow such a course,
Monkeys to teach and make the world still worse?"]


In Ward's Wars of the Elements, 1708, p. 55, in his Epitaph on the French Prophet, who was to make his resurrection on the 25th May, he says:

"O th' first of April had the scene been laid,
I should have laugh'd to've seen the living made
Such April Fools and blockheads by the dead"

Dr. Goldsmith, also, in his Vicar of Wakefield, describing the manners of some rustics, tells us, that, among other customs which they followed, they "showed their wit on the first of April."

A late ingenious writer in the World (No. 10), if I mistake not, the late Earl of Orford, has some pleasant thoughts on the effect the alteration of the style would have on the First of April. "The oldest tradition affirms that such an infatuation attends the first day of April as no foresight can escape, no vigilance can defeat. Deceit is successful on that day out of the mouths of babes and sucklings. Grave citizens have been bit upon it: usurers have lent their money on bad security: experienced matrons have married very disappointed young fellows: mathematicians have missed the longitude: alchymists the philosopher's stone: and politicians preferment on that day. What confusion will not follow if the great body of the nation are disappointed of their peculiar holiday! This country was formerly disturbed with very fatal quarrels about the celebration of Easter; and no wise man will tell me that it is not as reasonable to fall out for the observance of April Fool Day. Can any benefits arising from a regulated calendar make amends for an occasion of new sects? How many warm men may resent an attempt to play them off on a false first of April, who would have submitted to the custom of being made fools on the old computation! If our clergy come to be divided about Folly's anniversary, we may well expect all the mischiefs attendant on religious wars." He then desires his friends to inform him what they observe on that holiday both according to the new and old reckoning. "How often and in what manner they make or are made fools: how they miscarry in attempts to surprise, or baffle any snares laid for them. I do not doubt but it will be found that the balance of folly lies greatly on the side of the old first of April; nay, I much question whether [p.135] infatuation will have any force on what I call the false April Fool Day:" and concludes with requesting an union of endeavours "in decrying and exploding a reformation which only tends to discountenance good old practices and venerable superstitions."

The French too have their All Fools' Day,103 and call the person imposed upon an April Fish, Poisson d'Avril, whom we term an April Fool. Bellingen, in his Etymology of French Proverbs, 1656, gives the following explanation of this custom: the word Poisson, he contends, is corrupted through the ignorance of the people from Passion, and length of time has almost totally defaced the original intention, which was as follows: that as the Passion of our Saviour took place about this time of the year, and as the Jews sent Christ backwards and forwards to mock and torment him, i.e. from Annas to Caiaphas, from Caiaphas to Pilate, from Pilate to Herod, and from Herod back again to Pilate, this ridiculous or rather impious custom took its rise from thence, by which we send about from one place to another such persons as we think proper objects of our ridicule.

A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine for July, 1783, p. 578, conjectures that "the custom of imposing upon and ridiculing people on the first of April may have an allusion to the mockery of the Saviour of the world by the Jews. Something like this which we call making April Fools, is practised also abroad in Catholic countries on Innocents' Day, on which occasion people run through all the rooms, making a pretended search in and under the beds, in memory, I believe of the search made by Herod for the discovery and destruction of the child Jesus, and his having been imposed upon and deceived by [p.136] the wise men, who, contrary to his orders and expectation, 'returned to their own country another way.'"

There is nothing hardly, says the author of the Essay to Retrieve the Ancient Celtic, that will bear a clearer demonstration than that the primitive Christians, by way of conciliating the Pagans to a better worship, humoured their prejudices by yielding to a conformity of names and even of customs, where they did not essentially interfere with the fundamentals of the Gospel doctrine. This was done in order to quiet their possession, and to secure their tenure: an admirable expedient, and extremely fit in those barbarous times to prevent the people from returning to their old religion. Among these, in imitation of the Roman Saturnalia, was the Festum Fatuorum, when part of the jollity of the season was a burlesque election of a mock pope, mock cardinals, mock bishops, attended with a thousand ridiculous and indecent ceremonies, gambols, and antics, such as singing and dancing in the churches, in lewd attitudes, to ludicrous anthems, all allusively to the exploded pretensions of the Druids, whom these sports were calculated to expose to scorn and derision. This Feast of Fools, continues he, had its designed effect; and contributed, perhaps, more to the extermination of those heathens than all the collateral aids of fire and sword, neither of which were spared in the persecution of them. The continuance of customs (especially droll ones, which suit the gross taste of the multitude), after the original cause of them has ceased, is a great, but no uncommon absurdity.104

In the British Apollo, 1708, vol. i. No. 1, is the following query: "Whence proceeds the custom of making April Fools? Answer. It may not improperly be derived from a memorable transaction happening between the Romans and Sabines, mentioned by Dionysius, which was thus: the Romans, about the infancy of the city, wanting wives, and finding they could not obtain the neighbouring women by their peaceable addresses, resolved to make use of a stratagem; and, accordingly, Romulus institutes certain games to be performed in the beginning of April (according to the Roman Calendar), in honour of [p.137] Neptune. Upon notice thereof the bordering inhabitants, with their whole families, flocked to Rome to see this mighty celebration; where the Romans seized upon a great number of the Sabine virgins, and ravished them, which imposition we suppose may be the foundation of this foolish custom." This solution is ridiculed in No. 18 of the same work, as follows:

"Ye witty sparks, who make pretence
To answer questions with good sense,
How comes it that your monthly Phoebus
Is made a fool by Dionysius?
For had the Sabines, as they came,
Departed with their virgin fame,
The Romans had been styl'd dull tools,
And theo, poor girls ! been April Fools.
Therefore, if this ben't out of season,
Pray think, and give a better reason."

The following, by Dr. Pegge, is from the Gentleman's Magazine, April 1766, p. 186: "It is matter of some difficulty to account for the expression, 'an April Fool,' and the strange custom so universally prevalent throughout this kingdom, of people making fools of one another, on the first of April, by trying to impose upon each other, and sending one another upon that day, upon frivolous, ridiculous, and absurd errands. However, something I have to offer on the subject, and I shall here throw it out, if it were only to induce others to give us their sentiments. The custom, no doubt, had an original, and one of a very general nature; and, therefore, one may very reasonably hope that, though one person may not be so happy as to investigate the meaning and occasion of it, yet another possibly may. But I am the more ready to attempt a solution of this difficulty, because I find Mr. Bourne, in his Antiquitates Vulgares, has totally omitted it, though it fell so plainly within the compass of his design. I observe, first, that this custom and expression has no connection at all with the Festum Hypodiaconorum, Festum Stultorum, Festum Fatuorum, Festum Innocentium, &c., mentioned in Du Fresne; for these jocular festivals were kept at a very different time of the year. Secondly, that I have found no traces, either of the name or of the custom, in other countries, insomuch that it appears to me to be an indigenal custom of our own. I speak only as to myself in this; for others, perhaps, may have discovered it in [p.138] other parts, though I have not. Now, thirdly, to account for it; the name undoubtedly arose from the custom, and this I think arose from hence: our year formerly began, as to some purposes, and in some respects, on the 25th of March, which was supposed to be the Incarnation of our Lord  and it is certain that the commencement of the new year, at whatever time that was supposed to be, was always esteemed a high festival, and that both amongst the ancient Romans and with us. Now great festivals were usually attended with an Octave, that is, they were wont to continue eight days, whereof the first and last were the principal; and you will find the first of April is the octave of the 25th of March, and the close or ending, consequently, of that feast, which was both the Festival of the Annunciation and of the New Year. From hence, as I take it, it became a day of extraordinary mirth and festivity, especially amongst the lower sorts, who are apt to pervert and make a bad use of institutions which at first might be very laudable in themselves."

The following is extracted from the Public Advertiser, April 13th, 1769:

"Humorous Jewish Origin of the Custom of making Fools on the First of April. This is said to have begun from the mistake of Noah sending the dove out of the ark before the water had abated, on the first day of the month among the Hebrews, which answers to our first of April ; and to perpetuate the memory of this deliverance, it was thought proper, whoever forgot so remarkable a circumstance, to punish them by sending them upon some sleeveless errand similar to that ineffectual message upon which the bird was sent by the patriarch."

The subsequent, too, had been cut out of some newspaper: "No Antiquary has even tried to explain the custom of making of April Fools. It cannot be connected with the 'Feast of the Ass,' for that would be on Twelfth Day; nor with the ceremony of the 'Lord of Misrule,' in England, nor of the 'Abbot of Unreason,' in Scotland, for these frolics were held at Christmas. The writer recollects that he has met with a conjecture somewhere, that April Day is celebrated as part of the festivity of New Year's Day. That day used to be kept on the 25th of March. All antiquaries know that an octave, or eight days usually completed the festivals of our forefathers.


If so, April Day, making the octave's close, may be supposed to be employed in Fool-making, all other sports having been exhausted in the foregoing seven days." Douce says, "I am convinced that the ancient ceremony of the Feast of Fools has no connexion whatever with the custom of making fools on the first of April. The making of April Fools, after all the conjectures which have been formed touching its origin, is certainly borrowed by us from the French, and may, I think, be deduced from this simple analogy. The French call them April Fish (Poissons d'Avril),105 i.e. Simpletons, or, in other words, silly Mackerel, who suffer themselves to be caught in this month. But, as with us, April is not the season of that fish, we have very properly substituted the word Fools."106

[Mr. Hampson relates a curious tale of a French lady, who, on April 1st, 1817, pocketed a watch in a friend's house, and when charged with the fact before the police, she said it was unpoisson d'Avril, an April joke. On denying that the watch was in her possession, a messenger was sent to her apartments, who found it on a chimney-piece, upon which the lady said she had made the messenger unpoisson d'Avril. She was convicted and imprisoned until April 1st, 1818, and then to be discharged, comme un poisson d'Avril.

The custom of making fools on the 1st of April prevails among the Swedes, it being alluded to in Toreen's Voyage to China, 1750-2; [and in Germany we have the making of an April fool described in the phrase "Einen zam April shicken." In Scotland the persons sent on errands were called corbie, messengers.]

In the north of England persons thus imposed upon are called "April Gouks." A gouk, or gowk, is properly a cuckoo, and is used here, metaphorically, in vulgar language, for a fool. The cuckoo is, indeed, everywhere a name of contempt.


Gauch, in the Teutonic, is rendered stultus, fool, whence also our northern word, a Goke, or a Gawky. In Scotland, upon April Day, they have a custom of Hunting the Gowk, as it is termed. This is done by sending silly people upon fools' errands, from place to place, by means of a letter, in which is written:

"On the first day of April
Hunt the Gowk another mile."107

Maurice, in his Indian Antiquities, vi. 71, speaking of "the first of April, or the ancient feast of the vernal equinox, equally observed in India and Britain," tells us: "The first of April was anciently observed in Britain as a high and general festival, in which an unbounded hilarity reigned through every order of its inhabitants; for the sun, at that period of the year, entering into the sign Aries, the New Year, and with it the season of rural sports and vernal delight was then supposed to have commenced. The proof of the great antiquity of the observance of this annual festival, as well as the probability of its original establishment in an Asiatic region, arises from the evidence of facts afforded us by astronomy. Although the reformation of the year by the Julian and Gregorian Calendars, and the adaptation of the period of its commencement to a different and far nobler system of theology, have occasioned the festival sports, anciently celebrated in this
country on the first of April, to have long since ceased, and although the changes occasioned during a long lapse of years, by the shifting the equinoctial points, have in Asia itself been productive of important astronomical alterations, as to the exact era of the commencement of the year; yet, on both continents, some very remarkable traits of the jocundity which then reigned remain even in these distant times. Of those preserved in Britain, none of the least remarkable or ludicrous is that relic of its pristine pleasantry, the general practice of making April-Fools, as it is called, on the first day of that month: but this, Colonel Pearce (Asiatic Researches, ii. 334) [p.141] proves to have been an immemorial custom among the Hindoos, at a celebrated festival holden about the same period in India, which is called the Huli Festival. 'During the Huli, when mirth and festivity reign among the Hindoos of every class, one subject of diversion is to send people on errands and expeditions that are to end in disappointment, and raise a laugh at the expense of the person sent. The Huli is always in March, and the last day is the general holiday. I have never yet heard any account of the origin of this English custom; but it is unquestionably very ancient, and is still kept up even in great towns, though less in them than in the country. With us, it is chiefly confined to the lower class of people; but in India high and low join in it; and the late Suraja Doulah, am told, was very fond of making Huli Fools, though he was a Mussulman of the highest rank. They carry the joke here so far as to send letters making appointments, in the names of persons who it is known must be absent from their houses at the time fixed upon; and the laugh is always in proportion to the trouble given.' The least inquiry into the ancient customs of Persia, or the minutest acquaintance with the general astronomical mythology of Asia, would have told Colonel Pearce, that the boundless hilarity and jocund sports prevalent on the first day of April in England, and during the Huli Festival of India, have their origin in the ancient practice of celebrating with festival rites the period of the vernal equinox, or the day when the new year of Persia anciently began."

[Cardanus mentions having tried with success a precept, that prayers addressed to the Virgin Mary on this day, at eight o'clock a.m., were of wonderful efficacy, provided a Pater Noster and Ave Maria were added to them. The day was much esteemed amongst alchemists, as the nativity of Basilius Valentinus. In some parts of North America, the first of April is observed like St. Valentine's Day, with this difference, that the boys are allowed to chastise the girls, if they think fit, either with words or blows.]



SHERE THURSDAY is the Thursday before Easter, and is so called, says an old homily, "for that in old Fathers' days the people would that day shere theyr hedes and clypp theyr berdes, and pool theyr heedes, and so make them honest ayenst Easter day," It was also called Maunday Thursday, and is thus described by the translator of Naogeorgus in the Popish Kingdome, f. 51:

"And here the monkes their Maundie make, with sundrie solemne rights,
And signes of great humilitie, and wondrous pleasant sights:
Ech one the others feete doth wash, and wipe them cleane and drie,
With hatefull minde, and secret frawde, that in their heartes doth lye:

As if that Christ, with his examples, did these things require,
And not to helpe our brethren here with zeale and free desire,
Ech one supplying others want in all things that they may,
As he himselfe a servaunt made to serve us every way.
Then strait the loaves doe walke, and pottes in every place they skiuke,
Wherewith the holy fathers oft to pleasaunt damsels drinke.108

In Fosbrooke's British Monarchism, ii. 127, mention occurs at Barking Nunnery, of "russeaulx (a kind of allowance of corn) in Lent, and to bake with eels on Sheer Thursday:" also p. 128, "stubbe eels andshafte eels baked for Sheer Thursday." A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine for July 1779, p. 349, says: "Maunday Thursday, called by Collier Shier Thursday, Cotgrave calls by a word of the same sound and import, Sheere [p.143] Thursday. Perhaps, for I can only go upon conjecture, as sheer means purus, mundus, it may allude to the washing of the disciples' feet (John xiii. 5, et seq.), and be tantamount to clean. If this does not please, the Saxon sciran signifies dividere, and the name may come from the distribution of alms upon that day; for which see Archaeol. Soc. Antiq., i. 7, seq. Spelman, Gloss, v. Mandatum; and Du Fresne, iv. 400. Please to observe too, that on that day they also washed the altars, so that the term in question may allude to that business. See Collier's Eccles. Hist. ii. 197."109

Cowell describes Maunday Thursday as the day preceding Good Friday, when they commemorate and practise the commands of our Saviour, in washing the feet of the poor, &c., as our kings of England have long practised the good old custom of washing the feet of poor men in number equal to the years of their reign, and giving them shoes, stockings, and money. Some derive the word from mandatum, command; but others, and I think much more probably, from maund, a kind of great basket or hamper, containing eight bales or two fats.

[Dr. Bright has given us the following very singular account of a ceremony he witnessed on this day at Vienna: "On the Thursday of this week, which was the 24th of March, a singular religious ceremony was celebrated by the Court. It is known in German Catholic countries by the name of the Fusswaschung, or the "washing of the feet." The large saloon in which public court entertainments are given, was fitted up for the purpose; elevated benches and galleries were constructed round the room, for the reception of the court and strangers ; and in the area, upon two platforms, tables were spread, at one of which sat twelve men, and at the other [p.144] twelve women. They had been selected from the oldest and most deserving paupers, and were suitably clothed in black, with handkerchiefs and square collars of white muslin, and girdles round their waists. The emperor and empress, with the archdukes and archduchesses, Leopoldine and Clementine, and their suites, having all previously attended mass in the royal chapel, entered and approached the table to the sound of solemn music. The Hungarian guard followed in their most splendid uniform, with their leopard-skin jackets falling from their shoulders, and bearing trays of different meats, which the emperor, empress, archdukes, and attendants placed on the table, in three successive courses, before the poor men and women, who tasted a little, drank each a glass of wine, and answered a few questions put to them by their sovereigns. The tables were then removed, and the empress and her daughters, dressed in black, with pages bearing their trains, approached. Silver bowls were placed beneath the bare feet of the aged women. The grand chamberlain, in a humble posture, poured water upon the feet of each in succession from a golden urn, and the empress wiped them with a fine napkin she held in her hand. The emperor performed the same ceremony on the feet of the men, and the rite concluded amidst the sounds of sacred music."]

The British Apollo, 1709, ii, 7, says: "Maunday is a corruption of the Latin word mandatum, a command. The day is therefore so called, because as on that day our Saviour washed his disciples' feet, to teach them the great duty of being humble; and therefore he gives them in command to do as he had done, to imitate their Master in all proper instances of condescension and humility." Maunday Thursday, says a writer in the Gentleman's Magazine for July, 1779, p. 354, "is the poor people's Thursday, from the Fr. maundier, to beg. The King's liberality to the poor on that Thursday in Lent [is at] a season when they are supposed to have lived very low. Maundiantis, at this day, in French, a beggar."

In Copley's Wits, Fits, and Fancies, 1614, p. 82, is the following: "A scrivener was writing a marchant's last will and testament; in which the marchant expressed many debts that were owing him, which he will'd his executors to take up, and dispose to such and such uses. A kinsman of this marchant's then standing by, and hoping for some good thing [p.145] to be bequeathed him, long'd to heare some good newes to that effect, and said unto the scrivener, Hagh, hagh, what saith my uncle now? doth he now make his Maundies? No (answered the scrivener), he is yet in his demaunds." Perhaps in this passage maundies is merely an error for maundes, commands.

In Quarles' Shepheard's Oracles, 1646, p. 66, is the following passage:

"Nay, oftentimes their flocks doe fare
No better than chamelions in the ayre;
Not having substance, but with forc'd content
Making their maundy with an empty sent."

[The order of the Maundy, as practised by Queen Elizabeth in 1572, is here given from a MS. collection, as quoted by Hone: "First, the hall was prepared with a long table on each side, and formes set by them; on the edges of which tables, and under those formes, were lay'd carpets and cushions, for her majestic to kneel when she should wash them. There was also another table set across the upper end of the hall, somewhat above the footpace, for the chappelan to stand at. A little beneath the midst whereof, and beneath the said footpace, a stoole and cushion of estate was pitched for her majestic to kneel at during the service-time. This done, the holy water, basons, alms, and other things being brought into the hall, and the chappelan and poore folkes having taken the said places, the laundresse, armed with a faire towell, and taking a silver bason filled with warm water and sweet flowers, washed their feet all after one another and wiped the same with his towell, and soe making a crosse a little above the toes kissed them. After hym, within a little while, followed the subalmoner, doing likewise, and after him the almoner hymself also. Then, lastly, her majestic came into the hall, and after some singing and prayers made, and the gospel of Christ's washing of his disciples feet read, 39 ladyes and gentlewomen (for soe many were the poore folkes, according to the number of the yeares complete of her majesties age,) addressed themselves with aprons and towels to waite upon her majestie; and she, kneeling down upon the cushions and carpets under the feete of the poore women, first washed one foote of every one of them in soe many several basons of warm [p.146] water and swete flowers, brought to her severally by the said ladies and gentlewomen ; then wiped, crossed, and kissed them, as the almoner and others had done before. When her majestic had thus gone through the whole number of 39, (of which 20 sat on the one side of the hall, and 19 on the other,) she resorted to the first again, and gave to each one certain yardes of broad clothe to make a gowne, so passing to them all. Thirdly; she began at the first, and gave to each of them a pair of sieves. Fourthly; to each of them a wooden platter, wherein was half a side of salmon, as much ling, six red herrings and lofes of cheat bread. Fifthly; she began with the first again, and gave to each of them a white wooden dish with claret wine. Sixthly; she received of each waiting-lady and gentlewoman their towel and apron, and gave to each poore woman one of the same, and after this the ladies and gentlewomen waited noe longer, nor served as they had done throweout the courses before." The Queen then gave them money, and departed "by that time the sun was setting."]

The following is from the Gentleman's Magazine, April, 1731, p. 172: "Thursday, April 15, being Maunday Thursday, there was distributed at the Banquetting House, Whitehall, to forty-eight poor men and forty-eight poor women (the king's age forty-eight) boiled beef and shoulders of mutton, and small bowls of ale, which is called dinner; after that, large wooden platters of fish and loaves, viz. undressed, one large old ling, and one large dried cod; twelve red herrings, and twelve white herrings, and four half quarter loaves. Each person had one platter of this provision; after which were distributed to them shoes, stockings, linen and woollen cloth, and leathern bags, with one penny, two penny, three penny, and four penny pieces of silver, and shillings; to each about four pounds in value. His Grace the Lord Archbishop of York, Lord High Almoner, performed the annual ceremony of washing the feet of a certain number of poor in the Royal Chapel, Whitehall, which was formerly done by the kings themselves, in imitation of our Saviour's pattern of humility, &c. James the Second was the last king who performed this in person."110 In Langley's Polydore Vergil, f. 98, we read:


"The kynges and quenes of England on that day washe the feete of so many poore menne and women as they be yeres olde, and geve to every of them so many pence, with a gowne, and another ordinary almes of meate, and kysse their feete; and afterward geve their gownes of their backes to them that they se most nedy of al the nomber."

Nor was this custom entirely confined to royalty. In the Earl of Northumberland's Household Book, begun in 1512, f. 354, we have an enumeration of

"Al manner of things yerly yeven by my Lorde of his Maundy, ande my Laidis and his Lordshippis childeren, as the consideracion why more playnly hereafter folowith.

"Furst, my Lorde useth ande accustomyth yerely uppon Maundy Thursday, when his Lordship is at home, to gyf yerly as manny gownnes to as manny poor men as my Lorde is yeres of aige, with hoodes to them, and one for the yere of my Lordes aige to come, of russet cloth, after iij. yerddes of brode cloth in every gowne and hoode, ande after xij.?. the brod yerde of clothe. Item, my Lorde useth ande accustomyth yerly uppon Maundy Thursday, when his Lordship iat home, to gyf yerly as manny sherts of lynnon cloth to as manny poure men as his Lordshipe is yers of aige, and one for the yere of my Lord's aige to come, after ij. yerdis dim. in every shert, ande after .... the yerde. Item, my Lorde useth ande accustomyth yerly uppon the said Mawndy Thursday, when his Lordship is at home, to gyf yerly as manny tren111 platers after ob. the pece, with a cast of brede and a certen meat in it, to as manny poure men as his Lordship is yeres of aige, and one for the yere of my Lordis aige to come. Item, my Lorde used and accustomyth yerly, upon the said Maundy Thursday, when his Lordship is at home, to gyf yerely as many eshen cuppis, after ob. the pece, with wyne [p.148] in them, to as many poure men as his Lordeship is yeres of aige, and one for the yere of my Lordis aige to come. Item, my Lorde useth and accustomyth yerly uppon the said Mawndy Thursday, when his Lordshipe is at home, to gyf yerly as manny pursses of lether, after ob. the pece, with as many pennys in every purse, to as many poore men as his Lordship is yeres of aige, and one for the yere of my Lord's aige to come. Item, my Lorde useth ande accustomyth yerly, uppon Mawndy Thursday, to cause to be bought iij. yerdis and iij. quarters of brode violett cloth, for a gowne for his Lordshipe to doo service in, or for them that schall doo service in his Lordshypes abscence, after iij.s. viij.c. the yerde, and to be furrede with blake lamb, contenynge ij. keippe and a half after xxx. skynnes in akepe, and after vj.s. iij. d. thekepe, and after i.d. ob. the skynne, and after Ixxv. skynnys for furringe of the said gowne, which gowne my Lord werith all the tyme his Lordship doith service ; and after his Lordship hath done his service at his said Maundy, doith gyf to the pourest man that he fyndyth, as he thynkyth, emongs them all the said gowne. Item, my Lorde useth and accustomyth yerly, upon the said Mawnday Thursday, to caus to be delyvered to one of my Lordis chaplayns, for my Lady, if she be at my Lordis fyndynge, and not at hur owen, to comaunde hym to gyf for her as many groits to as many poure men as hir Ladyship is yeres of aige, and one for the yere of hir aige to come, owte of my Lordis coffueres, if sche be not at hir owen fyndynge. Item, my Lorde useth and accustomyth yerly, uppon the said Maundy Thursday, to caus to be delyvered to one of my Lordis chaplayns, for my Lordis eldest sone the Lord Percy, for hym to comaunde to gyf for hym as manny pens of ij. pens to as many poure men as his Lordship is yeeres of aige, and one for the yere of his Lordshipis age to come. Item, my Lorde useth and accustomyth yerly, uppon Mawndy Thursday, to caus to be delyverit to one of my Lordis chaplayns, for every of my yonge maisters, my Lordis yonger sonnes, to gyf for every of them as manny penns to as manny poore men as every of my said maisters is yeres of aige, and for the yere to come."

Among the ancient annual Church Disbursements of St. Mary-at-Hill, in the City of London, I find the following entry: "Water on Maundy Thursday and Easter Eve, 1d."


[Cavendish, in his Life of Wolsey, says, that in 1530, at Peterborough Abbey, that prelate on Maundy Thursday "made his maundy there in our Lady's chapel, having fifty-nine poor men whose feet he washed and kissed; and after he had wiped them, he gave every of the said poor men twelve pence in money, three ells of good canvas to make them shirts, a pair of new shoes, a cast of red herrings, and three white herrings; and one of these had two shillings." At the Maundy festival in 1818, in consequence of the advanced age of the King, the number of the poor was one hundred and sixty, it being customary to relieve as many men and a like number of women as he is years old. A new stair-case being then erected to Whitehall chapel, a temporary room was fitted up in Privy Gardens for the ceremony to take place, where two cod, two salmon, eighteen red herrings, eighteen pickled herrings, and four loaves, were given to each person in a wooden bowl, to which was afterwards added three pounds and a half of beef, and another loaf.]

Dr. Clarke, in his Travels in Russia, 1810, i. 55, says: "The second grand ceremony of this season takes place on Thursday before Easter, at noon, when the Archbishop of Moscow washes the feet of the Apostles. This we also witnessed. The priests appeared in their most gorgeous apparel. Twelve monks, designed to represent the twelve Apostles, were placed in a semicircle before the Archbishop. The ceremony is performed in the cathedral, which is crowded with spectators. The archbishop, performing all, and much more than is related of our Saviour in the thirteenth chapter of St. John, takes off his robes, girds up his loins with a towel, and proceeds to wash the feet of them all, until he comes to the representative of St. Peter, who rises, and the same interlocution takes place as between our Saviour and that Apostle."

A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine, li. 500, states, that "it is a general practice of people of all ranks in the Roman Catholic countries to dress in their very best clothes on Maunday Thursday. The churches are unusually adorned, and everybody performs what is called the Stations; which is, to visit several churches, saying a short prayer in each, and giving alms to the numerous beggars who attend upon the occasion." Another writer in the same journal, for July 1783, p. 577, tells us that "the inhabitants of Paris, on [p.150] Thursday in Passion Week, go regularly to the Bois de Boulogne, and parade there all the evening with their equipages. There used to be the Penitential Psalms, or Tenebres, sung in a chapel in the wood on that day, by the most excellent voices, which drew together great numbers of the best company from Paris, who still continued to resort thither, though no longer for the purposes of religion and mortification (if one may judge from appearances), but of ostentation and pride. A similar cavalcade I have also seen, on a like occasion, at Naples, the religious origin of which will probably soon cease to be remembered."


[IN the north of England a herb-pudding, in which the leaves of the passion-dock are a principal ingredient, is an indispensable dish on this day. The custom, says Carr, is of ancient date; and it is not improbable that this plant, and the pudding chiefly composed of it, were intended to excite a grateful reminiscence of the Passion, with a suitable acknowledgment of the inestimable blessings of Redemption. This plant, in the parts of fructification, produces fancied representations of the cross, hammer, nails, &c.]

Hospinian tells us that the kings of England had a custom of hallowing rings, with much ceremony, on Good Friday, the wearers of which will not be afflicted with the falling sickness. He adds, that the custom took its rise from a ring which had been long preserved, with great veneration, in Westminster Abbey, and was supposed to have great efficacy against the cramp and falling sickness, when touched by those who were afflicted with either of those disorders. This ring is reported to have been brought to King Edward by some persons coming from Jerusalem, and which he himself had long before given privately to a poor person, who had asked alms of him for the love he bare to St. John the Evangelist.

Andrew Boorde, in his Breviary of Health, 1557, f. 166, speaking of the cramp, adopts the following superstition among [p.151] the remedies thereof: "The Kynge's Majestic hath a great helpe in this matter in halowyng crampe ringes, and so geven without money or petition." Lord Berners, the accomplished translator of Froissart, when ambassador to the Emperor Charles V., writing "to my Lorde CardinalPs grace, from Saragoza, the xxj. daie of June," 1518, says: "If your grace remember me with some crampe ryngs, ye shall doo a thing muche looked for; and I trust to bestowe thaym well with Goddes grace, who evermor preserve and encrease your moost reverent astate," Harl. MS. 295, f. 119.112

Hearne, in one of his manuscript diaries in the Bodleian, Iv. 190, mentions having seen certain prayers, to be used by Queen Mary at the consecration of the cramp-ring. Mr. Gage Rokewode, in his History of the Hundred of Thingoe, 1838, Introd. p. xxvi, says that in Suffolk "the superstitious use of cramp-rings, as a preservative against fits, is not entirely abandoned; instances occur where nine young men of a parish each subscribe a crooked sixpence, to be moulded into a ring for a young woman afflicted with this malady."

[In the confession of Margaret Johnson, in 1633, a reputed witch, she says: " Good Friday is one constant day for a generall meeting of witches, and that on Good Friday last they had a generall meetinge neere Pen die Water syde;" and Mr. Hampson quotes an old charm for curing the bewitched,

"Upon Good Friday
I will fast while I may,
Until I hear them knell
Our Lord's own bell!"

In the midland districts of Ireland, viz. the province of [p.152] Connaught, on Good Friday, it is a common practice with the lower orders of Irish Catholics to prevent their young from having any sustenance, even to those at the breast, from twelve on the previous night to twelve on Friday night, and the fathers and mothers will only take a small piece of dry bread and a draught of water during the day. It is a common sight to see along the roads, between the different market towns, numbers of women, with their hair dishevelled, barefooted, and in their worst garments ; all this is in imitation of Christ's passion.]

The old Popish ceremony of Creepinge to the Crosse on Good Friday, is given, from an ancient book of the Ceremonial of the Kings of England, in the Notes to the Northumberland Household Book. The usher was to lay a carpet for the Kinge to "creepe to the crosse upon." The Queen and her Ladies were also to creepe to the Crosse. In an original Proclamation, black letter, dated 26th February, 30 Henry VIII, in the first volume of a Collection of Proclamations in the Archives of the Society of Antiquaries of London, p. 138, we read: "On Good Friday it shall be declared howe creepyng of the Crosse signifyeth an humblynge of ourselfe to Christe before the Crosse, and the kyssynge of it a memorie of our redemption made upon the Crosse."

In a Short Description of Antichrist, the author notes the Popish custom of "Creepinge to the Crosse with egges and apples." "Dispelinge with a white rodde" immediately fellows; though I know not whether it was upon the same day. "To holde forth the Crosse for egges on Good Friday" occurs among the Roman Catholic customs censured by John Bale, in his Declaration of Bonner's Articles, 1554, as is "to creape to the Crosse on Good Friday featly."

It is stated in a curious Sermon, preached at Blandford Forum, in Dorsetshire, January 17th, 1570, by William Kethe, minister, and dedicated to Ambrose, Earl of Warwick, p. 18, that on Good Friday the Roman Catholics "offered unto Christe egges and bacon, to be in his favour till Easter Day was past;" from which we may at least gather with certainty that eggs and bacon composed a usual dish on f hat day. In Whimsies, or a New Cast of Characters, 1631, p. 196, we have this trait of "a zealous brother:" "he is an Antipos to all church-government: when she feasts, he fasts; when she fasts, [p.153] he feasts: Good Friday is his Shrove Tuesday: he commends this notable carnall caveat to his family eate flesh upon days prohibited, it is good against Popery."

[A provincial newspaper, of about the year 1810, contains the following paragraph: Good Friday was observed with the most profound adoration on board the Portuguese and Spanish men-of-war at Plymouth. A figure of the traitor Judas Iscariot was suspended from the bowsprit end of each ship, which hung till sunset, when it was cut down, ripped up, the representation of the heart cut in stripes, and the whole thrown into the water ; after which, the crews of the different ships sung in good style the evening song to the Virgin Mary. On board the Iphigenia, Spanish frigate, the effigy of Judas Iscariot hung at the yard-arm till Sunday evening, and when it was cut down, one of the seamen ventured to jump over after it, with a knife in his hand, to show his indignation of the traitor's crime, by ripping up the figure in the sea ; but the unfortunate man paid for his indiscreet zeal with his life; the tide drew him under the ship, and he was drowned.]

The following is Barnabe Googe's account of Good Friday, in his English version of Naogeorgus, f . 5 1:

"Two priestes, the next day following, upon their shoulders beare
The image of the crucifix about the altar neare,
Being clad in coape ofcrimozen die,113 and dolefully they sing:
At length before the steps, his coate pluckt of, they straight him bring,
And upon Turkey carpettes lay him down full tenderly,
With cushions underneath his heade, and pillows heaped hie;
Then flat upon the grounde they fall, and kisse both hand and feete,
And worship so this woodden god with honour farre unmete;
Then all the shaven sort114 falles downe, and foloweth them herein,
As workemen chiefe of wickednesse, they first of all begin:
And after them the simple soules, the common people come,
And worship him with divers giftes, as golde, and silver some,
And others corne or egges againe, to poulshorne persons sweete,
And eke a long-desired price for wicked worship meete.


How are the idoles worshipped, if this religion here
Be Catholike, and like the spowes of Christ accounted dere?
Besides, with images the more their pleasure here to take,
And Christ, that everywhere doth raigne, a laughing-stock to make,
Another image doe they get, like one but newly deade.
With legges stretcht out at length, and handes upon his body spreade;
And him, with pompe and sacred song, they beare unto his grave,
His bodie all being wrapt in lawne, and silkes and sarcenet brave;
The boyes before with clappers go, and filthie noyses make;
The sexten beares the light : the people hereof knowledge take,
And downe they kneele or kisse the grounde, their hands held up abrod,
And knocking on their breastes, they make this woodden blocke a god:
And, least in grave he should remaine without some companie,
The singing bread is layde with him, for more idolatrie.
The priest the image worships first, as falleth to his turne,
And franckencense, and sweet perfumes, before the breade doth burner
With tapers all the people come, and at the barriars stay,
Where downe upon their knees they fall, and night and day they pray,
And violets and every kinde of flowres about the grave
They straw, and bring in all their giftes, and presents that they have:
The singing men their dirges chaunt, as if some guiltie soule
Were buried there, and thus they may the people better poule."

[It was customary in Popish countries, on Good Friday, to erect a small building to represent the Holy Sepulchre. In this they put the host, and set a person to watch both that night and the next. On the following morning, very early, the host being taken out, Christ is risen. This ceremony was formerly used in England. In the Churchwardens' Accounts of Abingdon, co. Berks, 1557, is the entry, "to the sextin for watching the sepulture two nyghts, viij.d."]


[The following curious lines are found in Poor Robin's Almanack for 1733:

"Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs
With one or two a penny hot cross buns,
Whose virtue is, if you believe what's said,
They'll not grow mouldy like the common bread."]


Hutchinson, in his History of Northumberland, following Bryant's Analysis, derives the Good Friday Bun from the sacred cakes which were offered at the Arkite Temples, styled Boun, and presented every seventh day. Bryant has also the following passage on this subject: "The offerings which people in ancient times used to present to the Gods were generally purchased at the entrance of the Temple; especially every species of consecrated bread, which was denominated accordingly. One species of sacred bread which used to be offered to the Gods, was of great antiquity, and called Boun. The Greeks, who changed the Nu final into a Sigma, expressed it in the nominative flovs, but in the accusative more truly Boun, flow. Hesychius speaks of the Boun, and describes it a kind of cake with a representation of two horns. Julius Pollux mentions it after the same manner, a sort of cake with horns. Diogenes Laertius, speaking of the same offering being made by Empedocles, describes the chief ingredients of which it was composed. " He offered one of the sacred Liba, called a Bouse, which was made of fine flour and honey." It is said of Cecrops that he first offered up this sort of sweet bread. Hence we may judge of the antiquity of the custom, from the times to which Cecrops is referred. The prophet Jeremiah takes notice of this kind of offering, when he is speaking of the Jewish women at Pathros, in Egypt, and of their base idolatry; in all which their husbands had encouraged them. The women, in their expostulation upon his rebuke, tell him: "Did we make her cakes to worship her?" Jerem. xliv. 18, 19 ; vii. 18. "Small loaves of bread," Hutchinson observes, "peculiar in their form, being long and sharp at both sides, are called Buns." These he derives as above, and concludes: "We only retain the name and form of the Boun ; the sacred uses are no more."

[In several counties a small loaf of bread is annually baked on the morning of Good Friday, and then put by till the same anniversary in the ensuing year. This bread is not intended to be eaten, but to be used as a medicine, and the mode of administering it is by grating a small portion of it into water, and forming a sort of panada. It is believed to be good for many disorders, but particularly for a diarrhoea, for which it is considered a sovereign remedy. Some years ago, a cottager [p.156] lamented that her poor neighbour must certainly die of this complaint, because she had already given her two doses of Good Friday bread without any benefit. No information could be obtained from the doctress respecting her nostrum, but that she had heard old folks say that it was a good thing, and that she always made it.]

A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine, for July, 1783, p. 578, speaking of Cross Buns, Saffron Cakes, or Symnels, in Passion Week, observes that "these being, formerly at least, unleavened, may have a retrospect to the unleavened bread of the Jews, in the same manner as Lamb at Easter to the Paschal Lamb." These are constantly marked with the form of the cross. Indeed, the country people in the North of England make, with a knife, many little crossmarks on their cakes, before they put them into the oven. I have no doubt but that this too, trifling as the remark may appear, is a remnant of Popery. Thus also persons who cannot write, instead of signing their names, are directed to make their marks, which is generally done in the form of a cross. From the form of a cross at the beginning of a horn-book, the alphabet is called the Christ-Cross Row. The cross used in shop-books Butler seems to derive from the same origin:

"And some against all idolizing
The cross in shop-books, or baptizing."115

[It is an old belief that the observance of the custom of eating buns on Good Friday protects the house from fire, and several other virtues are attributed to these buns. Some thirty or forty years ago, pastry-cooks and bakers vied with each other for excellence in making hot cross-buns; the demand has decreased, and so has the quality of the buns. But the great place of attraction for bun-eaters at that time was Chelsea; for there were the two "royal bun-houses." Before [p.157] and along the whole length of the long front of each stood a flat-roofed neat wooden portico or piazza of the width of the footpath, beneath which shelter "from summer's heat and winter's cold" crowds of persons assembled to scramble for a chance of purchasing "royal hot cross Chelsea buns," within a reasonable time; and several hundreds of square black tins, with dozens of hot buns on each tin, were disposed of in every hour from a little after six in the morning till after the same period in the evening of Good Friday. Those who knew what was good better than new-comers, gave the preference to the "old original royal bun-house," which had been a bun-house "ever since it was a house," and at which "the king himself once stopped," and who could say as much for the other? This was the conclusive tale at the door, and from within the doors, of the "old original bun-house." Alas! and alack ! there is that house now, and there is the house that was opened as its rival; but where are ye who contributed to their renown and custom among the apprentices and journeymen, and the little comfortable tradesmen of the metropolis, and their wives and children, where are ye? With thee hath the fame of Chelsea buns departed, and the "royal bun-houses" are little more distinguished than the humble graves wherein ye rest. Hone.


VARIOUS superstitions crept in by degrees among the rites of this eve; such as putting out all the fires in churches and kindling them anew from flint, blessing the Easter Wax, &c. They are described by Hospinian, in the poetical language of Naogeorgus, in his Popish Kingdom, thus translated by Googe:

"On Easter Eve the fire all is quencht in every place,
And fresh againe from out the flint is fetcht with solemne grace:
The priest doth halow this against great daungers many one,
A brande whereof doth every man with greedie minde take home,
That, when the fearefull storme appeares, or tempest black arise,
By lighting this he safe may be from stroke of hurtful skies.


A taper great, the Paschall namde, with musicke then they blesse,
And franckencense herein they pricke, for greater holynesse;
This hurneth night and day as signe of Christ that conquerde hell,
As if so be this foolish toye suffiseth this to tell.
Then doth the bishop or the priest the water halow straight,
That for their baptisrae is reservde: for now no more of waight
Is that they usde the yeare before; nor can they any more
Young children christen with the same, as they have done before.
With wondrous pomp and furniture amid the church they go,
With candles, crosses, banners, chrisme, and oyle appoynted tho':
Nine times about the font they marche, and on the Saintes do call;
Then still at length they stande, and straight the priest begins withall.
And thrise the water doth he touche, and crosses thereon make ;
Here bigge and barbrous wordes he speakes, to make the Devill quake;
And holsome waters conjureth, and foolishly doth dresse,
Supposing holyar that to make which God before did blesse.
And after this his candle than he thrusteth in the floode,
And thrice he breathes thereon with breath that stinkes of former foode.
And making here an end, his chrisme he poureth thereupon,
The people staring hereat stande amazed every one;
Deleaving that great powre is given to this water here,
By gaping of these learned men, and such like trifling gere.
Therefore in vessels brought they draw, and home they carie some
Against the grieves that to themselves or to their beastes may come.
Then clappers ceasse, and belles are set againe at libertee,
And herewithal the hungrie times of fasting ended bee."

On Easter Even it was customary in our own country to light the churches with what were called Paschal Tapers. In Coates's History of Reading, 1802, p. 131, under Churchwardens' Accounts, we find the subsequent entry, 1559: "Paid for raakynge of the Paschall and the Funte Taper, 5s. 8d." A note on this observes, "The Pascal taper was usually very large. In 1557 the Pascal taper for the Abbey Church of Westminster was 300 pounds weight."

The Cottonian MS. Galba E. iv. f. 28, gives the following assize for the different sorts of candles used anciently in the sacristy of Christ Church, Canterbury: "Cereus Paschalis continere debet ccc. libr. Cereus ad fontes x. libr. Cereus super hastam, j. libr. Cerei ad septem brachia, 1. lilbr., viz. yj. quibus vij. libr. et septimus in medio, viij. libr."

In the ancient annual Church Disbursements of St. Mary-at-Hill, in the City of London, I find the following article:


"For a quarter of coles for the hallowed fire on Easter Eve, 6d."116 Also, "To the clerk and sexton, for two men fo watching the Sepulchre from Good Friday to Easter Eve, and for their meate and drinke, 14d." I find also in the Churchwardens' Accounts, ibid. 5th Henry VI., the following entries: "For the Sepulchre, for divers naylis and wyres and glu, 9d. ob. Also payd to Thomas Joynor for makyng of the same Sepulchre, 4s. Also payd for bokeram for penons, and for the makynge, 22d. Also payd for betyng and steynynge of the penons, 6s. For a pece of timber to the newe Pascall, 2d. Also payd for a dysh of peuter for the Paskall, 5d. Also payd for pynnes of iron for the same Pascall, 4d."

We have already alluded to the custom of watching the Sepulchre at Easter. In Coates's Hist. of Reading, p. 130, under Churchwardens' Accounts, we read, sub anno 1558: "Paide to Roger Brock for watching of the Sepulchre, 5d. Paid more to the said Roger for syses and colles, 3d." With this note: "This was a ceremony used in churches in remembrance of the soldiers watching the Sepulchre of our Saviour. We find in the preceding accounts, the old Sepulchre and 'the toumbe of brycke' had been sold." The accounts alluded to are at p. 128, and run thus: "1551. Receyvid of Henry More for the Sepulcher, xiijs. iiijd. Receyvid of John Webbe for the toumbe of brycke, xijd." Under 1499, p. 214, we read, "Imprimis, payed for wakyng of the Sepulcre, viijd. It. payed for a li. of encens, xijd." and under Recypt, "It. rec. at Estur for the Pascall, xxxviis." Ibid. p. 216, under 1507 are the following: "It. paied to Sybel Derling for nayles for the Sepulcre, and for rosyn to the Resurrection play, ijd. ob. It. paied to John Cokks for wryting off the Fest of Jhesus, and for vj. hedd and herds to the church. It. paid a carter for carrying of pypys and hogshedds into the Forbury, ijd. It. paid to the laborers in the Forbury for setting up off the polls for the scaphoid, ixd. It. paied for bred, ale, and bere, that longyd to the pleye in the Forbury, ijs. jd. It. payed for the ij. Boks of the Fest of Jhesu and the Vysytacyon of our Lady, ijs. viijd. 1508. It payed to Water Barton for xxl. wex [p.160] for a pascall pic. le li. vd. Summa viijs. iiijd. It. payed for one li. of grene flowr to the foreseid pascall, iid. Ibid. p. 214, 1499, It. rec. of the gaderyng of the stage-play, xvijs. It. payed for the pascall bason, and the hanging of the same, xviijd. It. payed for making lenger Mr. Smyth's molde, with a Judas for the pascall, iid. It. payed for the pascall and the fonte taper to M. Smyth, iiijd." St. Giles's parish, 1519, "Paid for making a Judas for the pascall."117

Among the ancient annual Disbursements of the Church of St. Mary at-Hill, I find the following entry against Easter:

"Three great garlands for the crosses, of roses and  lavender  ....... } 3s."
  Three dozen other garlands for the quire .......

The same also occurs in the Churchwardens' Accounts, 1512. Also, among the Church Disbursements, in the Wax-Chandler's Accompt, "for making the pascal at Ester, 2s. 8d. For garnishing 8 torches on Corpus Christi day, 2s. 8d." Ibid. 1486, "At Ester, for the howslyn people for the pascal, 11s. 5d."118

[During the last century it was the custom in Dorsetshire on Easter Eve for boys to form a procession bearing rough torches, and a small black flag, chanting the following lines,

"We fasted in the light,
For this is the night."

This custom was no doubt a relic of the Popish ceremonies formerly in vogue at this season.]



[THE day before Easter Day is in some parts called "Holy Saturday." On the evening of this day, in the middle districts of Ireland, great preparations are made for the finishing of Lent. Many a fat hen and dainty piece of bacon is put into the pot, by the cotter's wife, about eight or nine o'clock, and woe be to the person who should taste it before the cock crows. At twelve is heard the clapping of hands, and the joyous laugh, mixed with an Irish phrase which signifies "out with the Lent:" all is merriment for a few hours, when they retire, and rise about four o'clock to see the sun dance in honour of the Resurrection. This ignorant custom is not confined to the humble labourer and his family, but is scrupulously observed by many highly respectable and wealthy families, different members of whom I have heard assert positively that they had seen the sun dance on Easter morning.]

Sir Thomas Browne, the learned author of the Vulgar Errors, has left us the following quaint thoughts on the subject of sun-dancing: "We shall not, I hope," says he, "disparage the Resurrection of our Redeemer, if we say that the sun doth not dance on Easter Day: and though we would [p.162] willingly assent unto any sympathetical exultation, yet we cannot conceive therein any more than a tropical expression. Whether any such motion there was in that day wherein Christ arised, Scripture hath not revealed, which hath been punctual in other records concerning solitary miracles; and the Areopagite that was amazed at the eclipse, took no notice of this; and, if metaphorical expressions go so far, we may be bold to affirm, not only that one sun danced, but two arose that day; that light appeared at his nativity, and darkness at his death, and yet a light at both; for even that darkness was a light unto the Gentiles, illuminated by that obscurity. That was the first time the sun set above the horizon. That, although there were darkness above the earth, yet there was light beneath it, nor dare we say that Hell was dark if he were in it."

In the Country-man's Counsellor, by E. P. Phil. 1633, p. 220, is the following note: "Likewise it is observed, that if the sunne shine on Easter Day, it shines on Whitsunday likewise." The following is an answer to a query in the Athenian Oracle, ii. 348: "Why does the sun at his rising play more on Easter day than Whitsunday? The matter of fact is an old, weak, superstitious error, and the sun neither plays nor works on Easter day more than any other. It's true, it may sometimes happen to shine brighter that morning than any other; but, if it does, 'tis purely accidental. In some parts of England, they call it the lambplaying, which they look for as soon as the sun rises in some clear spring or water, and is nothing but the pretty reflection it makes from the water, which they may find at any time, if the sun rises clear, and they themselves early, and unprejudiced with fancy." In a rare book, entitled Recreation for Ingenious Head Pieces, 1667, I find this popular notion alluded to in an old ballad:

"But Dick, she dances such a way,
No sun upon an Easter day
Is half so fine a sight."

[Sir Walter Scott introduces a similar image applied to the inflection of the moon in the water,

"The stag at eve had drunk his fill,
Where danced the moon on Monan's rill."]


In the British Apollo, 1 708, vol. i. No. 40, we read:

Q.   "Old wives, Phoebus, say
        That on Easter Day
            To the musick o' th' spheres you do caper.
        If the fact, sir, be true,
        Pray let's the cause know,
        When you have any room in your Paper.

A.   The old wives get merry,
       With spic'd ale or sherry,
            On Easter, which makes them romance:
        And whilst in a rout
        Their brains whirl about,
        They fancy we caper and dance."

I have heard of, when a boy, and cannot positively say from remembrance, whether I have not seen tried, an ingenious method of making an artificial sun dance on Easter Sunday. A vessel full of water was set out in the open air, in which the reflected sun seemed to dance, from the tremulous motion of the water. This will remind the classical scholar of a beautiful simile in the Loves of Medea and Jason, in the Argonautics of Apollonius Rhodius, where it is aptly applied to the wavering reflections of a lovesick maiden.

"Reflected from the sun's far cooler ray,
As quiv'ring beams from tossing water play
(Pour'd by some maid into her beechen bowl),
And ceaseless vibrate as the swellings roll,
So heav'd the passions," &c.

In Lysons's Environs of London, i. 230, amongst his extracts from the Churchwardens' and Chamberlains' Books at Kingston-upon-Thames, are the following entries concerning some of the ancient doings on Easter Day:

  s d
5 Hen. VIII. For thred for the Resurrection .  .    .    .    .   .    .   .   .   .    .    . 0 0 1
For three yerds of Dornek120 for a pleyer's coat, and the makyng .   .    .    .   . 0 1 3
12 Hen. VIII. Paid for a skin of parchment and gunpowder, for the play on Easter Day .  .  . 0 0 8
For brede and ale for them that made the stage, and other things belonging to the play .   .  . 0 1 2


By a subsequent entry these pageantries seem to have been continued during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, 1565, "Recd. of the players of the stage at Easter, 1l. 2s. 5d."

Barnabe Googe, in his adaptation of Naogeorgus, has thus preserved the ceremonies of the day in the Popish Kingdome, f. 52:

"At midnight then with carefull minde they up to mattens ries,
The Clarke doth come, and after him, the Priest with staring eies.
At midnight strait, not tarying till the daylight doe appeere,
Some gettes in flesh, and, glutton lyke, they feede upon their cheere.
They rost their flesh, and custardes great, and egges and radish store,
And trifles, clouted creame, and cheese, and whatsoever more
At first they list to eate, they bring into the temple straight,
That so the Priest may halow them with wordes of wond'rous waight.
The friers besides, and pelting priestes, from house to house do roame,
Receyving gaine of every man that this will have at home.
Some raddish rootes this day doe take before all other meate,
Against the quartan ague, and such other sicknesse great.
Straight after this into the fieldes they walke to take the viewe,
And to their woonted life they fall, and bid the reast adewe."

In the Doctrine of the Masse Book, from Wyttonburge, by Nicholas Dorcastor, 1554, in the form of "the halowing of the Pascal Lambe, egges and herbes, on Easter Daye," the following passage occurs: "God! who art the Maker of all flesh, who gavest commaundments unto Noe and his sons concerning cleane and uncleane beastes, who hast also permitted mankind to eate clean four-footed beastes even as egges and green herbs.'' The form concludes with the following rubrick: "Afterwards, let al be sprinkled with holye water and censed by the priest." Dugdale, in his Origines Juridiciales, p. 276, speaking of Gray's Inn Commons, says: "In 23 Eliz. (7 Maii) there was an agreement at the cupboard by Mr. Attorney of the Duchy and all the Readers then present, that the dinner on Good Friday, which had been accustomed to be made at the cost and charges of the chief cook, should thenceforth be made at the costs of the house, with like provision as it had been before that time. And likewise, whereas, they had used to have eggs and green sauce on Easter Day, after service and communion, for those gentlemen who came to breakfast, that in like manner they should be provided at the charge of the house."


A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine, July 1783, p. 578, conjectures that "the flowers, with which many churches are ornamented on Easter Day, are most probably intended as emblems of the Resurrection, having just risen again from the earth, in which, during the severity of winter, they seem to have been buried."

[Every person must have some part of his dress new on Easter Day, or he will have no good fortune that year. Another saying is that unless that condition be fulfilled, the birds are likely to spoil your clothes. This is alluded to in Poor Robin:

"At Easter let your clothes be new
Or else be sure you will it rue."

So says Mr. Barnes, the Dorsetshire poet,

"Laste Easter I put on ray blue
Frock cuoat, the vust time, vier new;
Wi' yaller buttons aal o' brass,
That glitter'd in the zun lik glass;
Bekiaze 'twer Easter Zunday."]

The Festival, 1511, f. 36, says, "This day is called, in many places, Godde's Sondaye: ye knowe well that it is the maner at this daye to do the fyre out of the hall, and the blacke wynter brondes, and all thynges that is foule with fume and smoke shall be done awaye, and there the fyre was shall be gayly arayed with fayre floures, and strewed with grene rysshes all aboute." In Nichols's Illustrations of Ancient Manners and Expences, 1797, in the Churchwardens' Accompts of St. Martin Outwich, London, under the year 1525 is the following item: "Paid for brome ageynst Ester, jd."

"There was an ancient custom at Twickenham," according to Lysons, "of dividing two great cakes in the church upon Easter Day among the young people; but it being looked upon as a superstitious relick, it was ordered by Parliament, 1645, that the parishioners should forbear that custom, and, instead thereof, buy loaves of bread for the poor of the parish with the money that should have bought the cakes. It appears that the sum of 1l. per annum is still charged upon [p.166] the vicarage for the purpose of buying penny loaves for poor children on the Thursday after Easter. Within the memory of man they were thrown from the church-steeple to be scrambled for; a custom which prevailed also some time ago at Paddington, and is not yet totally abolished."

Hasted, in his History of Kent, iii. 66, speaking of Biddenden, tells us that "twenty acres of land, called the Bread and Cheese Land, lying in five pieces, were given by persons unknown, the yearly rents to be distributed among the poor of this parish. This is yearly done on Easter Sunday, in the afternoon, in 600 cakes, each of which have the figures of two women impressed on them, and are given to all such as attend the church; and 270 loaves, weighing three pounds and a half a-piece, to which latter is added one pound and a half of cheese, are given to the parishioners only, at the same time. There is a vulgar tradition in these parts, that the figures on the cakes represent the donors of this gift, being two women, twins, who were joined together in their bodies, and lived together so till they were between twenty and thirty years of age. But this seems without foundation. The truth seems to be, that it was the gift of two maidens of the name of Preston; and that the print of the women on the cakes has taken place only within these fifty years, and were made to represent two poor widows, as the general objects of a charitable benefaction." An engraving of one of these cakes will be found in Hone's Every Day Book, ii. 443.

The following is copied from a collection of Carols in Douce' s collection,

"Soone at Easter cometh Alleluya,
With butter, cheese, and a tansay."

which reminds one of the passage in the Oxford Sausage, p. 22,

"On Easter Sunday be the pudding seen,
To which the tansey lends her sober green."

On Easter Sunday, as I learnt from a clergyman of Yorkshire, the young men in the villages of that county have a custom of taking off the young girls' buckles. On Easter Monday young men's shoes and buckles are taken off by the young women. On the Wednesday they are redeemed by [p.167] little pecuniary forfeits, out of which an entertainment, called a Tansey Cake, is made, with dancing. An account of this custom at Ripon, in Yorkshire, occurs in the Gentleman's Magazine for August 1790, p. 719, where it is added, that,  some years ago no traveller could pass the town without being stopped, and having his spurs taken away, unless redeemed by a little money, which is the only way to have your buckles returned."

The following is from Seward's Anecdotes of some distinguished Persons, i. 35. "Charles (the Fifth) whilst he was in possession of his regal dignity, thought so slightly of it, that when, one day, in passing through a village in Spain, he met a peasant who was dressed with a tin crown upon his head, and a spit in his hand for a truncheon, as the Easter King (according to the custom of that great festival in Spain), who told the Emperor that he should take off his hat to him: 'My good friend,' replied the Prince, 'I wish you joy of your new office: you will find it a very troublesome one, I can assure you.'"

A superstitious practice appears to have prevailed upon the Continent, of abstaining from flesh on Easter Sunday, to escape a fever for the whole year. I know not whether it ever reached this island. It was condemned by the Provincial Council of Rheims, in 1 583, and by that of Toulouse in 1590. (Traite des Superstitions, 1679, i. 319, 320.)

The following is taken from the Antiquarian Repertory, 1780, iii. 44, from the MS. Collection of Aubrey, in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, dated 1678: "The first dish that was brought up to the table on Easter Day was a red-herring riding away on horseback; i.e. a herring ordered by the cook something after the likeness of a man on horseback, set in a corn sallad. The custom of eating a gammon of bacon at Easter, which is still kept up in many parts of England, was founded on this, viz. to shew their abhorrence to Judaism at that solemn commemoration of our Lord's Resurrection."



[IN the North of England it is still the custom to send reciprocal presents of eggs121 at Easter to the children of families respectively betwixt whom any intimacy exists. The modes adopted to prepare the eggs for presentation are the following: there maybe others which have escaped my recollection. The eggs being immersed in hot water for a few moments, the end of a common tallow candle is made use of to inscribe the names of individuals, dates of particular events, &c.
The warmth of the egg renders this a very easy process. Thus inscribed, the egg is placed in a pan of hot water, saturated with cochineal, or other dye-woods; the part over which the tallow has been passed is impervious to the operation of the dye; and consequently when the egg is removed from the pan, there appears no discoloration of the egg where the inscription has been traced, but the egg presents a white inscription on a coloured ground. The colour of course depends upon the taste of the person who prepared the egg; but usually much variety of colour is made use of. Another method of ornamenting "pace eggs" is, however, much neater, although more laborious, than that with the tallow candle. The egg being dyed, it may be decorated in a very pretty manner, by means of a penknife, with which the dye may be scraped off, leaving the design white, on a coloured ground. An egg is frequently divided into compartments, which are filled up according to the taste and skill of the designer. Generally one compartment contains the name, and (being young and unsophisticated) also the [p.169] age of the party for whom the egg is intended. In another is perhaps a landscape; and sometimes a Cupid is found lurking in a third: so that these "pace eggs" become very useful auxiliaries to the missives of St. Valentine. Nothing is more common in some northern villages than to see a number of these eggs preserved very carefully in the corner-cupboard; each egg being the occupant of a deep long-stemmed ale-glass, through which the inscription could be read without removing it. Probably many of these eggs now remain in Cumberland, which would afford as good evidence of dates in a court of justice as a tombstone or a family Bible. It will be readily supposed that the majority of pace eggs are simply dyed or dotted with tallow to present a piebald or bird's-eye appearance. These are designed for the junior boys, who have not began to participate in the pleasures of "a bended bow and quiver full of arrows," a flaming torch, or a heart and a true lover's knot. These plainer specimens are seldom promoted to the dignity of the ale-glass or the corner-cupboard. Instead of being handed down to posterity, they are hurled to swift destruction. In the process of dying they are boiled pretty hard, so as to prevent inconvenience if crushed in the hand or the pocket. But the strength of the shell constitutes the chief glory of a pace egg, whose owner aspires only to the conquest of a rival youth. Holding his egg in his hand, he challenges a companion to give blow for blow. One of the eggs is sure to be broken, and its shattered remains are the spoil of the conqueror, who is instantly invested with the title of "a cock of one, two, three," &c., in proportion as it may have fractured his antagonists' eggs in the conflict. A successful egg in a contest with one which had previously gained honours adds to its number the reckoning of its vanquished foe. An egg which is "a cock" of ten or a dozen, is frequently challenged. A modern pugilist would call this a setto for the championship. Such on the borders of the Solway Frith were the youthful amusements of Easter Monday.]

Hutchinson, in his History of Northumberland, ii. 10, speaking of Pasche Eggs, says, "Eggs were held by the Egyptians as a sacred emblem of the renovation of mankind after the Deluge. The Jews adopted it to suit the circumstances of their history, as a type of their departure from the land of [p.170] Egypt; and it was used in the feast of the Passover as part of the furniture of the table, with the Paschal Lamb. The Christians have certainly used it on this day, as retaining the elements of future life, for an emblem of the Resurrection. It seems as if the egg was thus decorated for a religious trophy, after the days of mortification and abstinence were over, and festivity had taken place; and as an emblem of the resurrection of life, certified to us by the Resurrection from the regions of death and the grave." The ancient Egyptians, if the resurrection of the body had been a tenet of their faith, would perhaps have thought an egg no improper hieroglyphical representation of it. The exclusion of a living creature by incubation, after the vital principle has laid a long while dormant, or seemingly extinct, is a process so truly marvellous, that, if it could be disbelieved, would be thought by some a thing as incredible to the full, as that the Author of Life should be able to reanimate the dead.

A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine, July 1783, p. 578, supposes the egg at Easter "an emblem of the rising up out of the grave, in the same manner as the chick, entombed, as it were, in the egg, is in due time brought to life." Le Brun, in his Voyages, i. 191, tells us that the Persians, on the 20th of March, 1704, kept the Festival of the Solar New Year, which he says lasted several days, when they mutually presented each other, among other things, with coloured eggs.

Easter, says Gebelin, and the New Year, have been marked by similar distinctions. Among the Persians, the New Year is looked upon as the renewal of all things, and is noted for the triumph of the Sun of Nature, as Easter is with Christians for that of the Sun of Justice, the Saviour of the World, over death, by his Resurrection. The Feast of the New Year, he adds, was celebrated at the Vernal Equinox, that is, at a time when the Christians, removing their New Year to the Winter Solstice, kept only the Festival of Easter. Hence, with the latter, the Feast of Eggs has been attached to Easter, so that are no longer made presents of at the New Year.122


The Jews, in celebrating their Passover, placed on the table two unleavened cakes, and two pieces of the Lamb; to this they added some small fishes, because of the Leviathan; a hard egg, because of the bird Ziz; some meal, because of the Behemoth; these three animals being, according to their Rabbinical Doctors, appointed for the feast of the elect in the other life. I saw at the window of a baker's shop in London, on Easter Eve 1805, a Passover cake, with four eggs, bound in with slips of paste, crossways, in it. I went into the shop and inquired of the baker what it meant ; he assured me it was a Passover cake for the Jews.123

The learned Hyde, in his Oriental Sports, tells us of one with eggs among the Christians of Mesopotamia on Easter Day, and forty days afterwards, during which time their children buy themselves as many eggs as they can, and stain them with a red colour in memory of the blood of Christ, shed as at that time of his Crucifixion. Some tinge them with green and yellow. Stained eggs are sold all the while in the market. The sport consists in striking their eggs one against another, and the egg that first breaks is won by the owner of the egg that struck it. Immediately another egg is pitted against the winning egg, and so they go on (as in that barbarous sport of a Welsh main at cockfighting), till the last remaining egg wins all the others, which their respective owners shall before have won. This sport, he observes, is not retained in the midland parts of England, but seems to be alluded to in the old proverb, "an egg at Easter," because the liberty to eat eggs begins again at that Festival, and thence must have arisen this festive egg-game; for neither the Papists, nor those of the Eastern Church, eat eggs during Lent, but at Easter begin again to eat thorn. And hence the egg-feast formerly at Oxford, when the [p.172] scholars took leave of that kind of food on the Saturday after Ash Wednesday, on what is called "Cleansing Week."

In the Museum Tradescantianum, 1660, p. 1, we find, "Easter Egges of the Patriarchs of Jerusalem."

In the North of England, continues Hyde, in Cumberland and Westmoreland, boys beg, on Easter Eve, eggs to play with, and beggars ask for them to eat. These eggs are hardened by boiling, and tinged with the juice of herbs, broom-flowers, &c. The eggs being thus prepared, the boys go out and play with them in the fields, rolling them up and down, like bowls upon the ground, or throwing them up, like balls, into the air. Eggs, stained with various colours in boiling, and sometimes covered with leaf-gold, are at Easter presented to children, at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and other places in the North, where these young gentry ask for their Paste Eggs, as for a fairing, at this season. Paste is plainly a corruption of Pasque, Easter.

In the neighbourhood of Newcastle they are tinged yellow with the blossoms of furze, called their Whin-bloom. A curious tract, 1644, lies before me, entitled, To Sion's Lovers, being a golden Egge, to avoide Infection, a title undoubtedly referring to this superstition. In a curious Roll of the Expenses of the Household of 18 Edw. I., communicated to the Society of Antiquaries, 1805, is the following item in the Accounts of Easter Sunday: "Four hundred and a half of eggs, eighteen pence:" highly interesting to the investigator of our ancient manners: not so much on account of the smallness of the sum which purchased them, as for the purpose for which so great a quantity was procured on this day in particular: i.e. in order to have them stained in boiling, or covered with leaf gold, and to be afterwards distributed to the Royal Household.

That the Church of Rome has considered eggs as emblematical of the Resurrection, may be gathered from the subsequent prayer, which the reader will find in an extract from the Ritual of Pope Paul the Fifth, for the use of England, Ireland, and Scotland. It contains various other forms of benediction. "Bless, Lord! we beseech thee, this thy creature of eggs, that it may become a wholesome sustenance to thy faithful servants, eating it in thankfulness to thee, on account of the Resurrection of our Lord."


The following, from Emilianne's Frauds of Romish Monks and Priests, is much to our purpose: "On Easter Eve and Easter Day, all the heads of families send great chargers, full of hard eggs, to the church, to get them blessed, which the priests perform by saying several appointed prayers, and making great signs of the cross over them, and sprinkling them with holy water. The priest, having finished the ceremony, demands how many dozen eggs there be in every bason? These blest eggs have the virtue of sanctifying the entrails of the body, and are to be the first fat or fleshy nourishment they take after the abstinence of Lent. The Italians do not only abstain from flesh during Lent, but also from eggs, cheese, butter, and all white meats. As soon as the eggs are blessed, every one carries his portion home, and causeth a large table to be set in the best room in the house, which they cover with their best linen, all bestrewed with flowers, and place round about it a dozen dishes of meat, and the great charger of eggs in the midst. 'Tis a very pleasant sight to see these tables set forth in the houses of great persons, when they expose on side-tables (round about the chamber) all the plate they have in the house, and whatever else they have that is rich and curious, in honour of their Easter eggs, which of themselves yield a very fair show, for the shells of them are all painted with divers colours, and gilt. Sometimes they are no less than twenty dozen in the same charger, neatly laid together in the form of a pyramid. The table continues, in the same posture, covered, all the Easter week, and all those who come to visit them in that time are invited to eat an Eastern egg with them, which they must not refuse."

In the Beehive of the Romishe Churche, 1579, f. 14, Easter eggs occur in the following list of Romish superstitions: "Fasting Dayes, Years of Grace, Differences and Diversities of Dayes, of Meates, of Clothing, of Candles, Holy Ashes, Holy Pace Eygs and Flanes, Palmes and Palme Bough es, Staves, Fooles Hoods, Shelles and Belles, Paxes, Licking of Rotten Bones," &c. The last article relates to pilgrims and relics. The author of Le Voyageur a Paris, ii. 112, supposes that the practice of painting and decorating eggs at Easter, amongst the Catholics, arose from the joy which was occa- [p.174] sioned by their returning to their favorite food after so long an absence from them during Lent.l24

In the ancient Calendar of the Romish Church, to which I have so often referred, I find the following: "Ova annunciates, ut aiunt, reponuntur," i.e. eggs laid on the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary are laid by. This must have been for some such purpose as the following: "ad hanc superstitionem diariam referendi quoque sunt, qui ova, quse gallinae pariunt die Parasceues, toto asservant anno, quia credunt ea vim hascre ad extinguenda incendia si in ignem injiciantur." (Delrio Disquis. Magic, p. 205.) Lebrun, too, in his Superstitions Anciennes et Modernes, says that some people keep eggs aid on Good Friday all the year.

Dr. Chandler, in his Travels in Asia Minor, gives the following account of the manner of celebrating Easter among the modern Greeks: "The Greeks now celebrated Easter. A small bier, prettily decked with orange and citron buds, jasmine, flowers, and boughs, was placed in the church, with a Christ crucified, rudely painted on board, for the body. We saw it in the evening, and, before day-break, were suddenly awakened by the blaze and crackling of a large bonfire, with singing and shouting in honour of the Resurrection. They made us presents of coloured eggs and cakes of Easter bread."

Easter Day, says the Abb d'Auteoroche, in his Journey to Siberia, is set apart for visiting in Russia. A Russian came into my room, offered me his hand, and gave me, at the same time, an egg. Another followed, who also embraced, and gave me an egg. I gave him in return the egg which I had just before received. The men go to each other's houses in the morning, and introduce themselves by saying, "Jesus Christ is risen." The answer is "Yes, he is risen." The people then embrace, give each other eggs, and drink a great deal of brandy. The subsequent extract from Hakluyt's Voyages is of an older date, and shows how little the custom has varied: "They (the Russians) have an order at Easter, which they alwaies observe, and that is this: every yeere, against Easter, to die or colour red, with Brazzel (Brazil wood), [p.175] a great number of egges, of which every man and woman giveth one unto the priest of the parish upon Easter Day, in the morning. And, moreover, the common people use to carrie in their hands one of these red egges, not only upon Easter Day, but also three or foure days after, and gentlemen and gentlewomen have egges gilded, which they carry in like maner. They use it, as they say, for a great love, and in token of the Resurrection, whereof they rejoice. For when two friends meete during the Easter Holydayes, they come and take one another by the hand; the one of them saith, 'The Lord, or Christ, is risen;' the other answereth, 'It is so of a trueth;' and then they kiss and exchange their egges, both men and women, continuing in kissing four dayes together." Our ancient voyage-writer means no more here, it should seem, than that the ceremony was kept up for four days. On the modern practice of this custom in Russia, see Dr. Clarke's Travels, i. 59.125

In Germany, sometimes, instead of eggs at Easter, an emblematical print is occasionally presented. One of these is preserved in the Print-room of the British Museum. Three hens are represented as upholding a basket, in which are placed three eggs, ornamented with representations illustrative of the Resurrection. Over the centre egg the Agnus Dei, with a chalice representing Faith; the other eggs bearing the emblems of Charity and Hope. Beneath all, the following lines in German

"Alle gute ding seynd drey.
Drum schenk dir drey Oster Ey
Glaub und Hoffnung sambt der Lieb.
Niemahls auss dem Herzen schieb
Glaub der Kirch, vertrau auf Gott,
Liebe Ihn biss in den todt."


All good things are three.
Therefore I present you three Easter eggs,
Faith and Hope, together with Charity.
Never lose from the heart
Faith to the Church; Hope in God
And love him to thy death.

[The Pace-Egger's song, as still heard in the North, commences as follows:

"Here's two or three jolly boys, all of one mind,
We have come a pace-egging, and hope you'll prove kind;
I hope you'll prove kind with your eggs and strong beer
And we'll come no more near you until the next year."

A sort of drama appears to form part of the amusements of this day. I possess a tract of this kind, entitled the Peace Egg, with woodcuts, which concludes as follows,

"Enter Devil Doubt.

"Here come I, little Devil Doubt,
If you do not give me money,
I'll sweep you all out;
Money I want, and money I crave,
If you do not give me money
I'll sweep you all to the grave."]


Easter has ever been considered by the Church as a season of great festivity. Belithus, a ritualist of ancient times, tells us that it was customary in some churches for the Bishops and Archbishops themselves to play with the inferior clergy at handball, and this, as Durand asserts, even on Easter Day itself. Why they should play at hand-ball at this time rather than any other game, Bourne tells us he has not been able to discover; certain it is, however, that the present custom of playing at that game on Easter Holidays for a tansy-cake has been derived from thence. Erasmus, speaking of the proverb, Mea est pila, that is, "Pve got the ball," tells us that it signifies "Pve obtained the victory; I am master of my wishes." The Romanists certainly erected a standard on Easter Day, in token of our Lord's [p.177] victory; but it would perhaps be indulging fancy too far to suppose that the bishops and governors of churches, who used to play at hand-ball at this season, did it in a mystical way, and with reference to the triumphal joy of the season. Certain it is, however, that many of their customs and superstitions are founded on still more trivial circumstances, even according to their own explanations of them, than this imaginary analogy.126

Fitzstephen, as cited by Stow, tells us of an Easter holiday amusement used in his time at London: "They fight battels on the water. A shield is hanged upon a pole (this is a species of the quintain) fixed in the midst of the stream. A boat is prepared without oars, to be carried by violence of the water, and in the forepart thereof standeth a young man ready to give charge upon the shield with his lance. If so be he break his lance against the shield and do not fall, he is thought to have performed a worthy deed. If so be that without breaking his launce, he runneth strongly against the shield, down he falleth into the water, for the boat is violently forced with the tide; but on each side of the shield ride two boats furnished with young men, which recover him that falleth as soon as they may. Upon the bridge, wharfs, and houses, by the river side, stand great numbers to see and laugh thereat." Henry, in his History of Britain, iii. 594, thus describes another kind of quintain: "A strong post was fixed in the ground, with a piece of wood which turned upon a spindle, on the top of it. At one end of this piece of wood a bag of sand was suspended, and at the other end a board was nailed. Against this board they tilted with spears, which made the piece of wood turn quickly on the spindle, and the bag of sand strike the riders on the back with great force, if they did not make their escape by the swiftness of their horses."

They have an ancient custom at Coleshill, in Warwickshire, that if the young men of the town can catch a hare, and bring it to the parson of the parish before ten o'clock on Easter Monday, the parson is bound to give them a calf s head and a hundred of eggs for their breakfast, and a groat in money.


(Beckwith's edit, of Blount's Jocular Tenures, p. 286.) A writer in the Gent. Mag. for July, 1783, p. 578, mentions a beverage called "Braggot (which is a mixture of ale, sugar, and spices) in use at the festival of Easter."127

Tansy, says Selden, in his Table Talk, was taken from the bitter herbs in use among the Jews at this season. Our meats and sports, says he, "have much of them relation to church works. The coffin of our Christmas pies, in shape long, is in imitation of the cratch,128 i.e. rack or manger, wherein Christ was laid. Our tansies at Easter have reference to the bitter herbs, though at the same time 'twas always the fashion for a man to have a gammon of bacon, to show himself to be no Jew." In that curious book, entitled Adam in Eden, or Nature's Paradise, 1657, by William Coles, our author, speaking of the medicinal virtues of tansy, says: "Therefore it is that Tansays were so frequent not long since about Easter, being so called from this herb tansey: though I think the stomach of those that eat them late are so squeamish that [p.179] they put little or none of it into them, having altogether forgotten the reason of their originall, which was to purge away from the stomach and guts the phlegme engendered by eating of fish in the Lent season (when Lent was kept stricter then now it is), whereof worms are soon bred in them that are thereunto disposed, besides other humours, which the moist and cold constitution of Winter most usually infects the body of man with; and this I say is the reason why tanseys were and should be now more used in the Spring than at any other time of the year, though many understand it not, and some simple people take it for a matter of superstition so to do." Johnson, in his edition of Gerard's Herball, 1633, p. 651, speaking of tansy, says: "In the spring time are made with the leaves hereof newly sprung up, and with eggs, cakes, or tansies, which be pleasant in taste, and good for the stomacke; for, if any bad humours cleave thereunto, it doth perfectly concoct them and scowre them downewards." Tansy cakes are thus alluded to in Shipman's Poems, p. 17. He is describing the frost in 1 654:

"Wherever any grassy turf is view'd,
It seems a tansie all with sugar strew'd."129

It is related in Aubanus's Description of Ancient Rites in his country, that there were at this season foot-courses in the meadows, in which the victors carried off each a cake, given to be run for, as we say, by some better sort of person in the neighbourhood. Sometimes two cakes were proposed, one for the young men, another for the girls; and there was a great concourse of people on the occasion. This is a custom by no means unlike the playing at hand-ball for a tansy-cake, the winning of which depends chiefly upon swiftness of foot. It is a trial, too, of fleetness and speed, as well as the foot-race.

In Lewis's English Presbyterian Eloquence, p. 17, speaking of the tenets of the Puritans, he observes that "all games where there is any hazard of loss are strictly forbidden; not so much as a game of stool-ball for a tansay, or a cross and pyle for the odd penny at a reckoning upon pain of damna- [p.180] tion." The following is in a curious collection, entitled A Pleasant Grove of New Fancies, 1657, p. 74:

"At stool-ball, Lucia, let us play
    For sugar, cakes, and wine
Or, for a tansey let us pay,
    The loss be thine or mine.

If thou, my dear, a winner be,
    At trundling of the ball,
The wager thou shalt have and me,
    And my misfortunes all."

Poor Robin, in his Almanack for 1677, in his observations on April, says:

"Young men and maids, now very brisk,
At barley-break and stool-ball frisk.''

[There is a custom at this season, which yet prevails in Kent, with young people, to go out holiday-making in public houses to eat pudding-pies, and this is called going apudding-pieing. The pudding-pies are from the size of a teacup to that of a small tea-saucer. They are flat, like pastry-cooks, cheesecakes, made with a raised crust to hold a small quantity of custard, with currants lightly sprinkled on the surface. Pudding-pies and cherry-beer usually go together at these feasts. From the inns down the road towards Canterbury they are frequently brought out to the coach travellers, with an invitation to taste the pudding-pies.]

Durand tell us, that on Easter Tuesday wives used to beat their husbands, on the day following the husbands their wives. The custom which has been already mentioned in a preceding page, on Easter Sunday, is still retained at the city of Durham in the Easter holidays. On one day the men take off the women's shoes, or rather buckles, which are only to be redeemed by a present: on another day the women make reprisals, taking off the men's in like manner.

"In the Easter Holidays," says the account in the Antiquarian Repertory, from MS. Collections of Aubrey, in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, 1678, was "the clerk's ale, for his private benefit and the solace of the neighbourhood." Denne, in his "Account of Stone Figures carved on the Porch of [p.181] Chalk Church," (Archaeol. xii. 12,) says: "the clerks' ale was the method taken by the clerks of parishes to collect more readily their dues." Denne is of opinion that Give-Ales were the legacies of individuals, and from that circumstance entirely gratuitous.

The rolling of young couples down Greenwich-hill, at Easter and Whitsuntide, appears by the following extract from E. Fletcher's Translations and Poems, 1656, p. 210, in a poem called "May Day," to be the vestiges of a May game:

"The game at best, the girls May rould must bee,
Where Croyden and Mopsa, he and shee,
Each happy pair make one hermophrodite,
And tumbling, bounce together, black and white."

[A Warwickshire correspondent in Hone's Every Day Book, i. 431, says, "When I was a child, as sure as Easter Monday came, I was taken to see the children clip the churches." This ceremony was performed amid crowds of people, and shouts of joy, by the children of the different charity schools, who at a certain hour flocked together for the purpose. The first comers placed themselves hand in hand with their backs against the church, and were joined by their companions, who
gradually increased in number, till at last the chain was of sufficient length completely to surround the sacred edifice.

As soon as the hand of the last of the train had grasped that of the first the party broke up, and walked in procession to the other church (for in those days Birmingham boasted but of two), where the ceremony was repeated.]


In 1805, Lysons communicated to the Society of Antiquaries the following extract from a record in the Tower, entitled "Liber Contrarotulatoris Hospicii," 18 Edw. I. "Dominae de camera Reginse, xv. die Maii, vij. domiriabus et domicillis reginae, quia ceperunt dominum regem in lecto suo, in crastino Paschse, et ipsum fecerunt finire versus eas pro pace regis, quam fecit de dono suo per manus Hugonis de Ceru, scutiferi dominee de Weston. xiiij. li." The taking Edward Longshanks in his bed by the above party of ladies of the bedchamber and maids of honour, on Easter Monday, was very probably for the pur- [p.182] pose of heaving or lifting the king, on the authority of a custom which then doubtless prevailed among all ranks throughout the kingdom, and which is yet not entirely laid aside in some of our distant provinces ; a custom by which, however strange it may appear, they intended no less than to represent our Saviour's Resurrection. At Warrington, Bolton, and Manchester, on Easter Monday, the women, forming parties of six or eight each, still continue to surround such of the opposite sex as they meet, and, either with or without their consent, lift them thrice above their heads into the air, with loud shouts at each elevation. On Easter Tuesday, the men, in parties as aforesaid, do the same to the women. By both parties it is converted into a pretence for fining or extorting a small sum, which they always insist on having paid them by the persons whom they have thus elevated.

In the Gentleman's Magazine for February 1784, p. 96, a gentleman from Manchester says, that "Lifting was originally designed to represent our Saviour's Resurrection. The men lift the women on Easter Monday, and the women the men on Tuesday. One or more take hold of each leg, and one or more of each arm near the body, and lift the person up, in a horizontal position, three times. It is a rude, indecent, and dangerous diversion, practised chiefly by the lower class of people. Our magistrates constantly prohibit it by the bellman, but it subsists at the end of the town ; and the women have of late years converted it into a money job. I believe it is chiefly confined to these Northern counties."

The following extract is from the Public Advertiser for Friday, April 13th, 1787: "The custom of rolling down Greenwich-hill at Easter is a relique of old City manners, but peculiar to the metropolis. Old as the custom has been, the counties of Shropshire, Cheshire, and Lancashire boast one of equal antiquity, which they call Heaving, and perform with the following ceremonies, on the Monday and Tuesday in the Easter week. On the first day, a party of men go with a chair into every house to which they can get admission, force every female to be seated in their vehicle, and lift them up three times, with loud huzzas. For this they claim the reward of a chaste salute, which those who are too coy to submit to may get exempted from by a fine of [p.183] one shilling, and receive a written testimony, which secures them from a repetition of the ceremony for that day. On the Tuesday the women claim the same privilege, and pursue their business in the same manner, with this addition that they guard every avenue to the town, and stop every passenger, pedestrian, equestrian, or vehicular." That it is not entirely confined, however, to the Northern counties, may be gathered from the following letter, which Brand received from a correspondent of great respectability in 1799: "Having been a witness lately to the exercise of what appeared to me a very curious custom at Shrewsbury, I take the liberty of mentioning it to you, in the hope that amongst your researches you may be able to give some account of the ground or origin of it. I was sitting alone last Easter Tuesday at breakfast at the Talbot at Shrewsbury, when I was surprised by the entrance of all the female servants of the house handing in an arm-chair, lined with white, and decorated with ribbons and favours of different colours. I asked them what they wanted? Their answer was, they came to heave me. It was the custom of the place on that morning, and they hoped I would take a seat in their chair. It was impossible not to comply with a request very modestly made, and to a set of nymphs in their best apparel, and several of them under twenty. I wished to see all the ceremony, and seated myself accordingly. The group then lifted me from the ground, turned the chair about, and I had the felicity of a salute from each. I told them I supposed there was a fee due upon the occasion, and was answered in the affirmative; and, having satisfied the damsels in this respect, they withdrew to heave others. At this time I had never heard of such a custom; but, on inquiry, I found that on Easter Monday, between nine and twelve, the men heave the women in the same manner as on the Tuesday, between the same hours, the women heave the men. I will not offer any conjecture on the ground of the custom, because I have nothing like data to go upon; but if you should happen to have heard any thing satisfactory respecting it, I should be highly gratified by your mentioning it," &c.

[A Warwickshire correspondent says, Easter Monday and Easter Tuesday were known by the name of heaving day, because on the former day it was customary for the men to [p.184] heave and kiss the women, and on the latter for the women to retaliate upon the men. The women's heaving day was the most amusing. Many a time have I passed along the streets inhabited by the lower orders of people, and seen parties of jolly matrons assembled round tables on which stood a foaming tankard of ale. There they sat in all the pride of absolute sovereignty, and woe to the luckless man that dared to invade their prerogatives as sure as he was seen, he was pursued as sure as he was pursued, he was taken, and as sure as he was taken he was heaved and kissed, and compelled to pay six-pence for "leave and licence" to depart.]

Another writer in the Gentleman's Magazine, for July 1783, p. 578, having inquired whether the custom of Lifting is "a memorial of Christ being raised up from the grave," adds: "There is at least some appearance of it; as there seems to be a trace of the descent of the Holy Ghost on the heads of the Apostles in what passes at Whitsuntide Fair, in some parts of Lancashire, where one person holds a stick over the head of another, whilst a third, unperceived, strikes the stick, and thus gives a smart blow to the first." But this, probably, is only local. In a General History of Liverpool, reviewed in the Gent. Mag. for 1798, p. 320, it is said, "the only ancient annual commemoration now observed is that of lifting; the women by the men on Easter Monday, and the men by the women on Easter Tuesday." Pennant says, that "in North Wales, the custom of heaving, upon Monday and Tuesday in Easter week, is preserved; and on Monday the young men go about the town and country, from house to house, with a fiddle playing before them, to heave the women. On the Tuesday the women heave the men."


BY some this is thought to have been the remains of a heathen custom, which might have been introduced into this island by the Romans. Hoke Day, according to the most commonly received account, was an annual festival, said to [p.185] have been instituted in memory of the almost total destruction of the Danes in England by Ethelred, in 1002. Bryant has shown this to be destitute of any plausible support. The measure is proved to have been as unwise as it was inhuman, for Sweyn, the next year, made a second expedition into England, and laid waste its Western Provinces with fire and sword. The conquest of it soon followed, productive of such misery and oppression as this country had, perhaps, never before experienced. A holiday could therefore never have been instituted to commemorate an event which afforded matter rather for humiliation than of such mirth and festivity. The strongest testimony against this hypothesis is that of Henry of Huntingdon, who expressly says that the massacre of the Danes happened on the feast of St. Brice, which is well known to be on the 13th of November.130 Dugdale and others say it was instituted on the death of Hardicanute, Verstegan, with no great probability, derives Hoc-tide from Heughtyde, which, says he, in the Netherlands means a festival season; yet he gives it as a mere conjecture. The substance of what Spelman says on this subject is as follows. Hoc Day, Hoke Day, Hoc Tuesday, a festival celebrated annually by the English, in remembrance of their having ignominiously driven out the Danes, in like manner as the Romans had their Fugalia, from having expelled their kings. He inclines to Lambarde's opinion, that it means "deriding Tuesday," as Hocken, in German, means to attack, to seize, to bind, as the women do the men on this day, whence it is called "Binding Tuesday." The origin he deduces from the slaughter of the Danes by Ethelred, which is first mentioned in the Laws of Edward the Confessor, c. 35. He says the day itself is uncertain, and varies, at the discretion of the common people, in different places ; and adds, that he is at a loss why the women are permitted at this time to have the upper hand.131


Our ancient authorities for the mention of Hoctide are I. Matthew of Westm. p. 307, "Die Lunse ante le Hokeday." 2. Monast. Anglic, old edit. i. 104, "A die quae dicitur Hoke-dai usque ad festum S. Michaelis." 3. An instrument in Kennet's Paroch. Antiq. dated 1363, which speaks of a period between Hoke Day and St. Martin's Day. 4. chartulary at Caen, cited by Du Cange, p. 1150, in which a period between "Hocedie usque ad Augustum" is mentioned. 5. An Inspeximus in Madox's Formulare, p. 225, dated 42 Ed. III., in which mention is made of "die Martis proximo post quindenam Paschae qui vocatur Hokeday." It seems pretty clear then that that Hoc Tuesday fell upon the Tuesday fortnight after Easter Day, and that it could not be in memory of the Danish massacre, if that happened on St. Brice's Day, and which, in 1002, would fall on a Friday. Matthew Paris appears to be the oldest authority for the word "Hokedaie," and he, as Plott well observes, makes it fall both on a Monday, "quindena Paschse," and on a Tuesday, "die Martis." And yet he does not call the Monday by the name of Hokedaie. Plott expressly mentions that in his time they had two Hocdays, viz. "The Monday for the women," which, says he, "is the more solemn; and the Tuesday for the men, which is very inconsiderable." Blount, in his edition of Cowell's Glossary, says, that Hoc Tuesday money was a duty given to the landlord, that his tenants and bondsmen might solemnize that day on which the English mastered the Danes, being the second Tuesday after Easter week.

[In MS. Bodl. 692, a curious miscellany of the fifteenth century, f. 163, is an order from the Bishop of Worcester, dated April 1450, to the Almoner of Worcester Cathedral and others, "ut subditi utriusque a ligationibus et ludis inhonestis in diebus communiter vocatis hok-days cessent sub pcena excommunicationis."]

Blount, in his Law Dictionary, v. Hokeday, says he has seen a lease, without date, reserving so much rent payable "ad duos anni terminos, scil. ad le Hokeday, et ad festum [p.187] S. Mich." He adds, that in the accounts of Magdalen College, in Oxford, there is yearly an allowance pro mulieribus hocantibus, of some manors of theirs in Hampshire, where the men hoc the women on Monday, and contra on Tuesday.

Higgins, in his Short View of English History, says, that at Hoctide the people go about beating brass instruments, and singing old rhymes in praise of their cruel ancestors, as is recorded in an old chronicle.

This festival was celebrated, according to ancient writers, on the Quindena Paschae, by which, Denne informs us, the second Sunday after Easter cannot be meant, but some day in the ensuing week: and Matthew Paris, and other writers, have expressly named Tuesday. There are strong evidences remaining to show that more days were kept than one. Denne supposes the change of the Hock, or Hoketyde, from June to the second week after Easter (changes of this nature he evinces were frequent), might be on the following account: "when the 8th of June fell on a Sunday, the keeping of it on that day would not have been allowed; and as, when Easter was late, the 8th of June was likely to be one of the Ember days in the Pentecost week (a fast to be strictly observed by people of all ranks), the prohibition would also have been extended to that season." The expression Hock, or Hoke-tyde, comprises both days. Tuesday was most certainly the principal day, the dies Martis ligatoria. Hoke Monday was for the men, and Hock Tuesday for the women. On both days the men and women, alternately, with great merriment intercepted the public roads with ropes, and pulled passengers to them, from whom they exacted money, to be laid out in pious uses. (See Jacob's Dict., in v.) So that Hoketyde season, if you will allow the pleonasm, began on the Monday immediately following the second Sunday after Easter, in the same manner as several feasts of the dedications of churches, and other holidays, commenced on the day or the vigil before, and was a sort of preparation for, or introduction to, the principal feast.

I find this, among other sports, exhibited at Kenilworth Castle by the Earl of Leicester, for the entertainment of Queen Elizabeth, 1575, "And that there might be nothing wanting that these parts could afford, hither came the Coventr6 men, and acted the ancient play, long since used in that city, called Hocke Tuesday, setting forth the destruction of the Danes in [p.188] King Ethelred's time, with which the Queen was so pleas'd, that she gave them a brace of bucks, and five marks in money, to bear the charges of a feast." (Dugdale's Warwickshire, 1 656, p. 166.)

[According to Laneham's Letter, this storial show "set forth how the Danes were for quietness borne, and allowed to remain in peace withal, until, on the said St. Brice's night, they were 'all despatched and the realm rid;' and because the matter did show 'in action and rhymes,' how valiantly our English women, for love of their country, behaved, the 'men of Coventry' thought it might move some mirth in her majesty. 'The thing,' said they, 'is grounded in story, and for pastime was wont to be played in our city yearly, without ill example of manners, papistry, or any superstition:' and they knew no cause why it was then of late laid down, 'unless it was by the zeal of certain of their preachers; men very commendable' for their behaviour and learning, and sweet in their sermons, but somewhat too sour in preaching away their pastime.' By license, therefore, they got up their Hock-tide play at Kenilworth, wherein Capt. Cox, a person here indescribable without hindrance to most readers, 'came marching on valiantly before, clean trussed, and garnished above the knee, all fresh in a velvet cap, flourishing with his tonsword, and another fence-master with him, making room for the rest. Then proudly came the Danish knights on horse-back, and then the English, each with their alder-pole martially in their hand.' The meeting at first waxing warm, then kindled with courage on both sides into a hot skirmish, and from that into a blazing battle, with spear and shield; so that, by outrageous races and fierce encounters, horse and man sometimes tumbled to the dust. Then they fell to with sword and target, and did clang and bang, till the fight so ceasing, afterwards followed the foot of both hosts, one after the other marching, wheeling, forming in squadrons, triangles and circles, and so winding out again; then got they so grisly together, that inflamed on each side, twice the Danes had the better, but at last were quelled, and so being wholly vanquished, many were led captive in triumph by our English women. This matter of good pastime was wrought under the window of her highness, who beholding in the chamber delectable dancing, and there with great thronging of the people, [p.189] saw but little of the Coventry play; wherefore her majesty commanded it on the Tuesday following to have it full out, and being then accordingly presented, her highness laughed right well."]

Denne conjectures the name of this festivity to have been derived from "Hockzeit," the German word for a wedding, and which, according to Bailey's Dictionary, is particularly applied to a wedding-feast. "As it was then," says he, "at the celebration of the feast at the wedding of a Danish lord, Canute Prudan, with Lady Githa, the daughter of Osgod Clape, a Saxon nobleman, that Hardicanute died suddenly, our ancestors had certainly sufficient grounds for distinguishing the day of so happy an event by a word denoting the wedding feast, the wedding day, the wedding Tuesday. And, if the justness of this conjecture shall be allowed, may not that reason be discovered, which Spelman says he could not learn, why the women bore rule on this celebrity, for all will admit that at a wedding the bride is the queen of the day?"

In an indenture printed in Hearne's Appendix to the History and Antiquities of Glastonbury, p. 328, constituting John atte Hyde steward of the Priory of Poghley, among many other things granted him, are two oxen for the larder on Hoke-day, "Item ij. boves pro lardario apud Hoccoday." It is dated on the Feast of the Annunciation, in the 49th of Edward the Third.

Dr. Plott says, that one of the uses of the money collected at Hoketyde was, the reparation of the several parish churches where it was gathered. This is confirmed by extracts from the Lambeth Book.132 The observance of Hoketyde declined soon after the Reformation. Joyful commemorations of a release from the bondage of Popery obliterated the remembrance of the festive season instituted on account of a deliverance from the Danish yoke, if we dare pronounce it certain that it was instituted on that occasion.

In Peshall's History of the City of Oxford, under St. Mary's Parish, are the following curious extracts from old records [p.190] "1510: Recepts reed, atte Hoctyde: of the wyfes gaderynge, xvs. ijd. From 1522-23, Rec. for the wyfes gatheryng at Hoctyde de claro, xvis. xd. Parish of St. Peter in the East, 1662: About that time it was customary for a parish that wanted to raise money to do any repairs towards the church to keep a Hocktyde, the benefit of which was often very great: as, for instance, this parish of St. Peter in the East gained by the Hocktide and Whitsuntide, anno 1664, the sum of 14. 1663: Hocktide brought in this year 6. 1667: 4 10s. gained by Hoctide; the last time it is mentioned here." In the Churchwardens' Accounts of St. Mary-at-Hill, in the city of London, under the year 1496, is the following article: "Spent on the wyves that gadyred money on ffob Monday, 10d." In 1518, there is an order for several sums of money gathered on Hob Monday, &c. to go towards the organs, but crossed out with a pen afterwards. In 1497, "Gatherd by the women on Hob Monday, 13s. 4d. By the men on the Tuesday, 5s." In Nichols's Illustrations of Antient Manners and Expences, 1797, are other extracts from the same accounts. Under the year 1499, is the following article: "For two rybbs of bief, and for bred and ale, to the wyvys yn the parish that gathered on Hok Monday, 1s. 1d." Under 1510, "Received of the gaderynge of Hob Monday and Tewisday, 1 12s. 6d."

In Lysons's Environs of London, i. 229, among many other curious extracts from the Churchwardens' and Chamberlain's Books at Kingston-upon-Thames, are the following concerning Hocktyde: "1 Hen. VIII. Recd for the garderyng at Hoc-tyde, 14s. 2 Hen. VIII. Paid for mete and drink at Hoc-tyde, 12d." The last time that the celebration of Hocktyde appears is in 1578: "Recd of the women upon Hoc Monday, 5s. 2d." Ibid. ii. 145, Parish of Chelsea; "Of the women that went a hocking, 13 April, 1607, 45s." In Coates's History of Reading, p. 214, in the Churchwardens' Accounts of St. Laurence's parish, 1499, are the following entries: "It. rec. of Hock money gaderyd of women, xxs. It. rec. of Hok Money gaderyd of men, iiijs." Ibid. p. 226, we read the following observation, 1573: "The collections on Hock Monday, and on the festivals, having ceased, it was agreed that every woman seated by the churchwardens in any seat on the south side of the church, above the doors, or in the middle [p.191] range above the doors, should pay 4d. yearly, and any above the pulpit 6d. at equal portions." Ibid. 1559: "Hoctyde money, the men's gatheryng, iiijs. The women's, xijs." Ibid, St. Giles, Reading, 1526: "Paid for the wyves supper at Hoctyde, xxiiijd." Here a note observes: "The Patent of the 5th of Henry V. has a confirmation of lands to the Prior of St. Frideswide, and contains a recital of the Charter of Ethelred in 1004; in which it appears that, with the advice of his lords and great men, he issued a decree for the destruction of the Danes." According to Milner's History of Winchester, i. 172, "the massacre took place on November the 5th, St. Brice's Day, whose name is still preserved in the Calendar of our Common Prayer: but, by an order of Ethelred, the sports were transferred to the Monday in the third week after Easter." Under 1 535, "Hock-money gatheryd by the wyves, xiiis. ixd" It appears clearly, from these different extracts, that the women made their collection on the Monday: and it is likewise shown that the women always collected more than the men.

The custom of men and women heaving each other alternately on Easter Monday and Easter Tuesday, must have been derived from this Hocking each other on Hok-days, after the keeping of the original days had been set aside.

There is, however, a curious pyssage in Wythers' Abuses Stript and Whipt, 1618, p. 232, which seems to imply that Hocktide was still generally observed:

"Who think (forsooth) because that once a yeare
They can affoord the poore some slender cheere,
Observe their country feasts or common doles,
And entertaine their Christmass wassaile boles
Or els because that, for the Churche's good,
They in defence of Hocktide custome stood,
A Whitsun-ale, or some such goodly motion,
The better to procure young men's devotion:
What will they do, I say, that think to please
Their mighty God with such fond things as these?
                ----------------------Sure, very ill."



IT appears from the old play of Ram Alley, that blue coats were formerly worn by people of fashion on St. George's Day, April 23d. [Compare also the following passage in Freeman's Epigrams, 1611:

"With's eorum nomine keeping greater sway
Than a court blew on St. George's day."]

In Coates's History of Reading, p. 221, under Churchwardens' Accounts, 1536, are the following entries: "Charges of Saynt George. First payd for iij. caffes-skynes, and ij. horse-skynnes, iiijs. vjd. Paid for makeying the loft that Saynt George standeth upon, vjd. Payd for ij. plonks for the same loft, viijd. Payd for iiij. pesses of clowt lether, ijs. ijd. Payd for makeyng the yron that the hors resteth upon, vjd. Payd for makeyng of Saynt George's cote, viijd. Payd to John Paynter for his labour, xlvs. Payd for roses, bells, gyrdle, sword, and dager, iijs. iiijd. Payd for settyng on the bells and roses, iijd. Payd for naylls necessarye thereto, xd. ob."

Among the Fins, whoever makes a riot on St. George's Day is in danger of suffering from storms and tempests. (Tooke's Russia, i. 47.)

[Aubrey, in his Natural History of Wilts, a MS. in the library of the Royal Society, has recorded the following proverb:

"St. George cries goe;
St. Mark cries hoe."]


IT is customary in Yorkshire, for the common people to sit and watch in the church porch on St. Mark's Eve, April 25th, from eleven o'clock at night till one in the morning. The third year (for this must be done thrice) they are supposed to see the ghosts of all those who are to die the next year, pass [p.193] by into the church, [which they are said to do in their usual dress, and precisely in the order of time in which they are doomed to depart. Infants and young children, not yet able to walk, are said to roll in on the pavement. Those who are to die remain in the church, but those who are to recover return, after a longer or shorter time, in proportion to the continuance of their future sickness.] When any one sickens that is thought to have been seen in this manner, it is presently whispered about that he will not recover, for that such or such a one, who has watched St. Mark's Eve, says so. This superstition is in such force, that, if the patients themselves hear of it, they almost despair of recovery. Many are said to have actually died by their imaginary fears on the occasion; a truly lamentable, but by no means incredible, instance of human folly. [According to Willan, a person, supposed to have made this vigil, is a terror to his neighbours; for, on the least offence received, he is apt, by significant hints and grimaces, to insinuate the speedy death of some cherished friend or relation.

On the eve of St. Mark, the ashes are riddled or sifted on the hearth. Should any of the family be destined to die within the year, the shoe will be impressed on the ashes; and many a mischievous wight has made a superstitious family miserable by slily coming down stairs after the rest of the family have retired to rest, and impressing the ashes with a shoe of one of the party. Poor Robin, for 1770, says,

"On St. Mark's Eve, at twelve o'clock,
The fair maid will watch her smock,
To find her husband;in the dark,
By praying unto good St. Mark."]

Pennant says, that in North Wales no farmer dare hold his team on St. Mark's Day, because, as they believe, one man's team was marked that did work that day with the loss of an ox. The Church of Rome observes St. Mark's day as a day of abstinence, in imitation of St. Mark's disciples, the first Christians of Alexandria, who, under this Saint's conduct, were eminent for their great prayer, abstinence, and sobriety. See Wheatly on the Common Prayer, 1848, p. 198. Strype, in his Annals of the Reformation, i. 191, under 1559, informs us: "The 25th April, St. Mark's Day (that year), was a pro- [p.194] cession in divers parishes of London, and the citizens went with their banners abroad in their respective parishes, singing in Latin the Kyrie Eleeson, after the old fashion."

In Pilkington's work, entitled the Burnynge of Paules Church in London, 1561, and the 4 day of June, by Lyghtnynge, 1563, we read: "Althoughe Ambrose saye that the churche knewe no fastinge day betwix Easter and Whitsonday, yet beside manye fastes in the Rogation weeke, our wise popes of late yeares have devysed a monstrous fast on St. Marke's Daye. All other fastinge daies are on the holy day even, only Sainte Marke must have his day fasted. Tell us a reason why, so that will not be laughen at. We knowe wel ynough your reason of Tho. Beket, and thinke you are ashamed of it: tell us where it was decreed by the Churche or Generall Couusell. Tell us also, if ye can, why the one side of the strete in Cheapeside fastes that daye, being in London diocesse, and the other side, beinge of Canterbury diocesse, fastes not? and soe in other townes moe. Could not Becket's holynes reache over the strete, or would he not? If he coulde not, he is not so mighty a Saint as ye make hym; if he would not, he was maliciouse, that woulde not doe soe muche for the citye wherein he was borne."

"In theyeare of our Lord 1589, I being as then but a boy, do remember that an ale wife, making no exception of dayes, would needes brue upon Saint Marke's days; but loe, the marvailous worke of God! whiles she was thus laboring, the top of the chimney tooke fire; and, before it could bee quenched, her house was quite burnt. Surely, a gentle warning to them that violate and prophane forbidden daies," Vaughan's Golden Grove, 1608. "On St. Mark's Day, blessings upon the corn are implored," Hall's Triumphs, page 58.

The following custom at Alnwick, in Northumberland, on St. Mark's day, is thus described in Tom Thumb's Travels, p. 96: "I was at Alnwick on a court-day, when the whimsical ceremony was performed of making free two young men of the town. They jumped, with great solemnity, into a miry bog, which took one of them up to his arm-pits, and would have let me in far enough over head and ears, which made me glad I had no right to the freedom of Alnwick. It seems King John imposed this upon the townsmen in their charter, [p.195] as a punishment for not mending the road : his Majesty having fallen into this very hole, and stuck there in state till he was relieved." And in the Gent. Mag. 1756, "The manner of making freemen of Alnwick Common is not less singular than ridiculous. The persons that are to be made free, or, as the phrase is, that are to leap the well, assemble in the market-place very early in the morning, on the 25th of April, being
St. Mark's day. They are on horseback, with every man his sword by his side, dressed in white with white nightcaps, and attended by the four Chamberlains and the Castle Bailiffe, who are also mounted and armed in the same manner. From the market-place they proceed in great order, with musick playing before them, to a large dirty pool, called the Freemen's Welly on the confines of the Common. Here they draw up in a body, at some distance from the water, and then, all at once, rush into it, like a herd of swine, and scramble through the mud as fast as they can. As the water is generally breast high, and very foul, they come out in a condition not much better than the heroes of the DUNCIAD after diving in Fleet Ditch; but dry cloathes being ready for them on the other side, they put them on with all possible expedition, and, then, taking a dram, remount their horses, and ride full gallop round the whole confines of the district, of which, by this atchievement, they are become free. And, after having completed this circuit, they again enter the town sword in hand, and are generally met by women dressed up with ribbons, bells, and garlands of gum-flowers, who welcome them with dancing and singing, and are called timber-waits (perhaps a corruption of timbrel-waits, players on timbrels, waits being an old word for those who play on musical instruments in the streets.) The heroes then proceed in a body till they come to the house of one of their company, where they leave him, having first drank another dram; the remaining number proceed to the house of the second, with the same ceremony, and so of the rest, till the last is left to go home by himself. The houses of the new freemen are, on this day, distinguished by a great holly-bush, which is planted in the street before them, as a signal for their friends to assemble and make merry with them at their return. This strange ceremony is said to have been instituted by King John, in memory of his having once bogged his horse *in this pool, called Freemen's Well."


[The following popular sayings for the month of April may find a place here:

"The nightingale and cuckoo sing both in one month.
Timely blossom, timely ripe.
April showers bring milk and meal.
April fools or gowks.
Sweet as an April meadow.
To smell of April and May
Black-Cross Day.

April showers
Bring Summer flowers.

April weather
Rain and sunshine,
Both together.

In April a Dove's flood
Is worth a king's good.

The bee doth love the sweetest flower
So doth the blossom the April shower.

The Cuckoo comes in Aperill
And stays the month of May;
Sings a song at Midsummer,
And then goes away.

In the month of Averil,
The gowk comes over the hill,
In a shower of rain :
And on the of June,
He turns his tune again.

On the first of Aperill,
You may send a gowk whither you will.

On Lady-day the later,
The cold comes over the water."]



IT was a general custom formerly, says Bourne,133 and is still observed in some country parishes, to go round the bounds and limits of the parish on one of the three days before Holy Thursday, or the Feast of our Lord's Ascension, when the minister, accompanied by his churchwardens and parishioners, were wont to deprecate the vengeance of God, beg a blessing on the fruits of the earth, and preserve the rights and properties of the parish. To this Wither alludes in his Emblems, 1635, p. 161,

"That ev'ry man might keep his owne possessions,
Our fathers us'd, in reverent processions,
(With zealous prayers, and with praiseful cheere,)
To walke their parish-limits once a yeare:
And well-knowne markes (which sacrilegious hands
Now cut or breake) so bord'red out their lands,
That ev'ry one distinctly knew his owne,
And many brawles, now rife, were then unknowne."

[These gang-days not only brought to the recollection or Englishmen the settlement of the Christian faith on the soil, but they also impressed on the memory correct notions concerning the origin and nature of proprietorship in land. These religious processions mark out the limits of certain portions of land, under which the whole kingdom is contained; and in all these the principle of God's fee is recognised by the law and the people. The primitiee, or eyrie-scot, or church-rate, is admitted as due throughout the bounds, and the tithes, also, as a charge on the parish; but, together with these admissions, there is formed in the mind a mental boundary, and a sacred restraint is placed upon the consciences of men, that co-mingles religious awe with the institution of landed right and landed inheritance, and family succession to it. Until these previous notions as to God's right and God's property [p.198] were formed, the inhabitants of this country held very vague and fluctuating opinions as to the parties to whom the soil belonged, or upon what terms or principles landed occupation rested. The walking of the parish bounds on the gang-days, in religious procession, very materially contributed to form and keep fresh in the minds of each passing generation the terms on which property was held, and some of the duties belonging to the holding. There is a short service ordered to be read occasionally, such as "Cursed is he that translateth the bounds and doles of his neighbour."]

Bourne cites Spelman (in v. Perambulatio), as deriving the custom of processioning from the times of the Heathens, and that it is an imitation of the Feast called Terminalia, which was dedicated to the God Terminus, whom they considered as the guardian of fields and landmarks, and the keeper up of friendship and peace among men. The primitive custom used by Christians on this occasion was, for the people to accompany the bishop or some of the clergy into the fields, where Litanies were made, and the mercy of God implored, that he would avert the evils of plague and pestilence, that he would send them good and seasonable weather, and give them in due season the fruits of the earth. In Lysons's Environs of London, i. 309, among his extracts from the Churchwardens' Accounts at Lambeth, I find the following relative to our present subject:

  s d
"1516. Paid for dyinge of buckram for the Letfy clothes ...... . .. 0 0 8
  For paynting the Lett'ny clothes .   .    .    .   . 0 0 8
  For lynynge of the Lett'ny clothes  .  .  . 0 0 4

probably for the processions in which they chanted the Litany on Rogation Day."

A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine for August 1790, p. 719, tells us: "Some time in the spring, I think the day before Holy Thursday, all the clergy, attended by the singing men and boys of the choir, perambulate the town (Ripon) in their canonicals, singing hymns ; and the blue-coat charity boys follow singing, with green boughs in their hands." In London, these parochial processions are still kept up on Holy Thursday. Shaw, in his History of Staffordshire, ii. part 1, p. 165, speaking of Wolverhampton, says: "Among the local customs which have prevailed here may be noticed that which [p.199] was popularly called 'Processioning.' Many of the older inhabitants can well remember when the sacrist, resident prebendaries, and members of the choir, assembled at Morning Prayers on Monday and Tuesday in Rogation Week, with the charity children bearing long poles clothed with all kinds of flowers then in season, and which were afterwards carried
through the streets of the town with much solemnity, the clergy, singing men, and boys dressed in their sacred vestments, closing the procession, and chanting, in a grave and appropriate melody, the Canticle, Benedicte, Omnja Opera, &c. This ceremony, innocent at least, and not illaudable in itself, was of high antiquity, having probably its origin in the Roman offerings of the Primitise, from which (after being rendered conformable to our purer worship) it was adopted by the first Christians, and handed down, through a succession of ages, to modern times. The idea was, no doubt, that of returning thanks to God, by whose goodness the face of nature was renovated, and fresh means provided for the sustenance and comfort of his creatures. It was discontinued about 1765. The boundaries of the township and parish of Wolverhampton are in many points marked out by what are called Gospel Trees, from the custom of having the Gospel read under or near them by the clergyman attending the parochial perambulations. Those near the town were visited for the same purpose by the processioners before mentioned, and are still preserved with the strictest care and attention." One of these Gospel trees was till lately standing at Stratford-on-Avon, and a representation of it may be seen in Halliwell's Life of Shakespeare, p. 159. The subsequent is from Herrick's Hesperides, p. 18:

"-------------------Dearest, bury me
Under that Holy-Oke, or Gospel Tree,
Where (though thou see'st not) thou may'st think upon
Me, when thou yerely go 'st procession."

It appears, from a sermon preached at Blandford Forum, 1.570, by William Kethe, minister, p. 20, that in Rogation Week the Catholics had their "Gospelles at superstitious Crosses, decked like idols."

Plott, in his History of Oxfordshire, p. 203, tells us that at Stanlake, in that county, the minister of the parish, in his procession in Rogation Week, reads the Gospel at a barrel's [p.200] head, in the cellar of the Chequer Inn, in that town, where some say there was formerly a hermitage, others that there was anciently a Cross, at which they read a Gospel in former times; over which the house, and particularly the cellar, being built, they are forced to continue the custom in manner as above.134

At Oxford, at this time, the little crosses cut in the stones of buildings, to denote the division of the parishes, are whitened with chalk. Great numbers of boys, with peeled willow rods in their hands, accompany the minister in the procession.

In one of Skelton's Merie Tales, the poet says to a cobler, "Neybour, you be a tall man, and in the kynge's warres you must bere a standard: A standard, said the cobler, what a thing is that?" Skelton said, "It is a great banner, such a one as thou dooest use to beare in Rogacyon Wecke." Of the magnificence of processions in former times on Rogation Day, the following may serve as a specimen, from MS. Cott. Galba. E. iv. They are the banners belonging to Christ Church, Canterbury: "Vexilla pro Rogacionibus Vexillum Sancti Thomse de panno albo de serico brud: Item ij. vexill. de armis Regis Anglise. Item ij. vexill. de armis Comitis Gloveraise. Item ij. vexill. de armis Comitis Warennee. Item ij. vexill. de armis de Hastingg : Item ij. vexill. de rub. damicto cum leopardis aur:" In Bridges's History of Northamptonshire are recorded various instances of having processions on Cross Monday.

Pennant, in his Tour from Chester to London, p. 30, tells us that, "on Ascension Day the old inhabitants of Nantwich piously sang a hymn of thanksgiving for the blessing of the Brine. A very ancient pit, called the Old Brine, was also [p.201] held in great veneration, and till within these few years was annually, on that festival, bedecked with boughs, flowers, and garlands, and was encircled by a jovial band of young people, celebrating the day with song and dance."

[Aubrey, in MS. Lansd. 23 1, says: "This custome is yearly observed at Droftwich, in Worcestershire, where, on the day of St. Richard, they keepe holyday, and dresse the well with green boughs and flowers. One yeare in the Presbyterian time it was discontinued in the civil warres, and after that, the springe shranke up or dried up for some time; so afterwards they revived their annual custom, notwithstanding the power of the parliament and soldiers, and the salt water returned again, and still continues. This St. Richard was a person of great estate in these parts, and a briske young fellow that would ride over hedge and ditch, and at length became a very devout man, and after his decease was canonized for a saint."]

In the Episteles and Gospelles, London, imprinted by Richard Bankes, 4to, f. 32, is given "a Sermon in the Crosse Dayes, or Rogation Dayes." It begins thus: "Good people, this weke is called the Rogation Weke, bycause in this weke we be wonte to make solempne and generall supplications, or prayers, which be also called Lytanyes." The preacher complains: "Alacke, for pitie! these solemne and accustomable processions be nowe growen into a right foule and detestable abuse, so that the moost parte of men and women do come forth rather to set out and shew themselves, and to passe the time with vayne and unprofitable tales and mery fables, than to make generall supplications and prayers to God, for theyr lackes and necessities. I wyll not speake of the rage and furour of these uplandysh processions and gangynges about, which be spent in ryotyng and in belychere. Furthermore, the banners and badges of the Crosse be so unreverently handled and abused, that it is merveyle God destroye us not in one daye. In these Rogation Days, if it is to be asked of God, and prayed for, that God of his goodnes wyll defende and save the corne in the felde, and that he wyll vouchsave to pourge the ayer, for this cause be certaine Gospels red in the wyde felde amonges the corne and grasse, that by the vertue and operation of God's word, the power of the wicked spirites, which keepe in the air and infecte the same (whence come pestilences and the other kyndes of diseases and syknesses), [p.202] may be layde downe, and the aier made pure and cleane, to th' intent the corne may remaine unharmed, and not infected of the sayd hurteful spirites, but serve us for our use and bodely sustenance." The Litanies or Rogations then used gave the name of Rogation Week to this time. They occur as early as A. D. 550, when they were first observed by Mamertus, Bishop of Vienne, on account of the frequent earthquakes that happened, and the incursions of wild beasts which laid in ruins and depopulated the city.

Blount tells us that Rogation Week (Saxon Gang dagas, i.e. days of perambulation) is always the next but one before Whitsunday; and so called, because on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, of that week, Rogations and Litanies were used; and fasting, or, at least, abstinence, then enjoined by the Church to all persons, not only for a devout preparative to the feast of Christ's glorious Ascension, and the descent of the Holy Ghost shortly after, but also to request and supplicate the blessing of God upon the fruits of the earth. And, in this respect, the solemnization of matrimony is forbidden from the first day of the said week till Trinity Sunday. The Dutch call it Crays-week, Cross-week, and it is so called in some parts of England, because of old (as still among the Roman Catholics), when the priests went in procession this week, the Cross was carried before them. In the Inns of Court, he adds, it is called Grass-week, because the commons of that week consist much of salads, hard eggs, and green sauce upon some of the days. The feast of the old Romans, called Robigalia and Ambarvalia (quod victima arva ambiret), did, in their heathenish way, somewhat resemble these institutions, and were kept in May, in honour of Robigus.

Gerard, in the third book of his Herbal, speaking of the birch-tree, p. 1295, says: "It serveth well to the decking up of houses and banquetting-roomes, for places of pleasure, and for beautifying the streetes in the Crosse or Gang Weeke, and such like." Rogation Week, in the northern parts of England, is still called Gang Week, from to gang, which, in the north, signifies to go. Gang-days are classed under certain "Idolatries maintained by the Church of England," in a work entitled the Cobler's Book.

In the Tryall of a Man's Owne Selfe, by Thomas Newton, 1602, p. 47, he inquires, under "Sinnes externall and out- [p.203] ward" against the first Commandment, whether the parish clergyman "have patiently winked at, and quietly suffered, any rytes wherein hath been apparent superstition as gadding and raunging about with procession." To gadde in procession is among the customs censured by John Bale, in his Declaration of Bonner's Articles, 1554. In Michael Wodde's Dialogue (already cited under Palm Sunday), 1554, we read: "What say ye to procession in Gang-daies, when Sir John saith a Gospel to our corne feldes? (Oliver.) As for your Latine Gospels read to the corne, I am sure the corne understandeth as much as you, and therefore hath as much profit by them as ye have, that is to sai, none at al." Kennett, in MS. Lansd. 1033, says: "GANG-FLOWER, Rogation Flower, a sort of flower in prime at Rogation Week, of which the maids made garlands and wore them in those solemn processions."

By the Canons of Cuthbert, Archbishop of Canterbury, made at Cloveshoo, in the year 747, it was ordered that Litanies, that is, Rogations, should be observed by the clergy and all the people, with great reverence, on the seventh of the Calends of May, according to the rites of the Church of Rome, which terms this the greater Litany, and also according to the custom of our forefathers, on the three days before the Ascension of our Lord, with fastings, &c. In the Injunctions also made in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, it is ordered "that the Curate, at certain and convenient places, shall admonish the people to give thanks to God, in the beholding of God's benefits, for the increase and abundance of his fruits, saying the 103rd Psalm, &c. At which time the minister shall inculcate these, or such sentences, 'Cursed be he which translateth the bounds and doles of his neighbours,' or such orders of prayers as shall be hereafter." What is related on this head in the Life of Hooker, author of the Ecclesiastical Polity, is extremely interesting: "He would by no means omit the customary time of procession, persuading all, both rich and poor, if they desired the preservation of love and their parish rights and liberties, to accompany him in his perambulation; and most did so; in which perambulation he would usually express more pleasant discourse than at other times, and would then always drop some loving and facetious observations, to be remembered against the next year, especially by the boys and young people: still inclining them, and all his present parishioners, to meekness and mutual [p.204] kindnesses and love; because love thinks not evil, but covers a multitude of infirmities."By" Advertisements partly for due Order in the publique Administration of Common Prayers, &c. by vertue of the Queene's Majesties Letters commanding the same, the 25th day of January (7 an. Eliz.)" 4to., it was directed, "Item, that, in the Rogation Daies of Procession, they singe or saye in Englishe the two Psalmes beginnyng 'Benedic Anima mea,' &c. with the Letanye suffrages thereunto, with one homelye of thankesgevying to God, already devised and divided into foure partes, without addition of any superstitious ceremonyes heretofore used." I find the following in Articles of Enquiry within the Archdeaconry of Middlesex, A.D. 1662, 4to: " Doth your Minister or Curate in Rogation Days go in Perambulation about your Parish, saying and using the Psalms and Suffrages by law appointed, as viz. Psalms 103 and 104, the Letany and Suffrages, together with the Homily, set out for that end and purpose? Doth he admonish the people to give thanks to God, if they see any likely hopes of plenty, and to call upon him for his mercy, if there be any fear of scarcity; and do you, the Churchwardens, assist him in it?" In similar Articles for the Archdeaconry of Northumberland, 1662, the following occurs: "Doth your Parson or Vicar observe the three Rogation Dayes?" In others for the Diocese of Chichester, 1637, is the subsequent: "Doth your Minister, yeerely, in Rogation Weeke, for the knowing and distinguishing of the bounds of parishes, and for obtaining God's blessing upon the fruites of the ground, walke the Perambulation, and say, or sing, in English, the Gospells, Epistles, Letanie, and other devout Prayers; together with the 103rd and 104th Psalmes?"135


In Nichols's Churchwardens' Accounts, 1797, St. Margaret's Westminster, under A.D. 1555, is the following article: "Item, paid for spiced bread on the Ascension-Even, and on the Ascension Day, 1s. 1556. Item, paid for bread, wine, ale, and beer, upon the Ascension-Even and Day, against my Lord Abbott and his Covent came in Procession, and for strewing herbs the samme day, 7s. 1d. 1559. Item, for bread, ale, and beer, on Tewisday in the Rogacion Weeke, for the parishioners that went in Procession, 1s. 1560. Item, for bread and drink for the parishioners that went the Circuit the Tuesday in the Rogation week, 3s. 4d. Item, for bread and drink the Wednesday in the Rogation Week, for Mr. Archdeacon and the Quire of the Minster, 3s. 4d. 1585. Item, paid for going the Perambulacion, for fish, butter, cream, milk, conger, bread and drink, and other necessaries, 4s. 5d. 1597. Item, for the charges of diet at Kensington for the Perambulation of the Parish, being a yeare of great scarcity and deerness, 61. 8s. 8d. 1605. Item, paid for bread, drink, cheese, fish, cream, and other necessaries, when the worshipfull and others of the parish went the Perambulation to Kensington, 15l."

"On Ascension Day," says Hawkins, in his History of Music, ii. 112, "it is the custom of the inhabitants of parishes, with their officers, to perambulate in order to perpetuate the memory of their boundaries, and to impress the remembrance thereof in the minds of young persons, especially boys; to invite boys, therefore, to attend to this business, some little gratuities were found necessary; accordingly it was the custom, at the commencement of the procession, to distribute to each a willow-wand, and at the end thereof a handful of points, which were looked on by them as honorary rewards long after they ceased to be useful, and were called Tags."

In the Churchwardens' Accounts of St. Mary-at-Hill, in the City of London, 1682, are the following entries:

  s d
For fruit on Perambulation Day...... . .. 1 0 0
For points for two yeres.   .    .    .   . 2 1 0

The following extracts are from the Churchwardens' Bcoks of Chelsea (Lysons's London, ii. 126):


  s d
1679. Spent at the Perambulation Dinner ...... . .. 3 10 0
Given to the 6oys that were whipt   .    .    .   . 0 4 0
Paid for poynts for the boys . . . . 0 2 0

The second of these entries alludes to another expedient for impressing the recollection of particular boundaries on the minds of some of the young people. Bumping persons to make them remember the parish boundaries has been kept up even to this time. A trial on the occasion, where an angler was bumped by the parishioners of Walthamstow parish, is reported in the Observer newspaper of January 10th, 1830. He was found angling in the Lea, and it was supposed that bumping a stranger might probably produce an independent witness of parish boundary. He obtained 50l. damages.

[The custom of perambulation, as now practised in Dorsetshire, is well described by Mr. Barnes in Hone's Year Book, 1178-9, and he gives an amusing account of the modes taken to impress the situation of the boundaries on the memory. A man, perhaps, if asked whether such a stream were a boundary, would reply, "Ees, that 'tis, I'm sure o't, by the same token that I were tossed into't, and paddled about there lik a water-rot, till I wor hafe dead."]

It appears from an order of the Common Council of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 15th May, 1657, that the scholars of the public grammar-school there, and other schools in the town, were invited to attend the magistrates when they perambulated the boundaries of the town. On Ascension Day, the Magistrates, River Jury, &c. of the corporation of that town, according to an ancient custom, make their annual procession by water, in their barges, visiting the bounds of their jurisdiction on the river, to prevent encroachments. Cheerful libations are offered on the occasion to the genius of the "coaly Tyne."

[Aubrey, in MS. Lansd. 231, says, "In Cheshire, when they went in perambulation, they did blesse the springs, i.e. they did read a Gospell at them, and did believe the water was the better:" to this account is added in pencil: "On Rogation days Gospells were read in the corn-fields here in England untill the Civill Warrs:" and Kennet has added, "Mem. A [p.207] gospell read at the head of a barrel in procession within the parish of Stanlake, Co. Oxon."]136

Heath, in his History of the Scilly Islands, 1750, p. 128, tells us: "At Exeter, in Devon, the boys have an annual custom of damming up the channel in the streets, at going the bounds of the several parishes in the city, and of splashing the water upon people passing by. Neighbours as well as strangers are forced to compound hostilities, by given the boys of each parish money to pass without ducking: each parish asserting its prerogative in this respect."

The following is from Hasted's History of Kent, i. 109: "There is an odd custom used in these parts, about Keston and Wickham, in Rogation Week, at which time a number of young men meet together for the purpose, and with a most hideous noise, run into the orchards, and, incircling each tree, pronounce these words:

"Stand fast root; bear well top;
God send us a youling sop!
Every twig apple big,
Every bough apple enow."

For which incantation the confused rabble expect a gratuity in money, or drink, which is no less welcome; but if they are disappointed of both, they with great solemnity anathematize the owners and trees with altogether as insignificant a curse, It seems highly probable that this custom has arisen from the ancient one of perambulation among the Heathens, when they made prayers to the Gods for the use and blessing of the fruits coming up, with thanksgiving for those of the preceding year; and as the Heathens supplicated Eolus, God of the Winds, for his favorable blasts, so in this custom they still retained his name with a very small variation: this ceremony is called Youling, and the word is often used in their invocations."

Armstrong, in his History of Minorca, 1752, p. 5, thus alludes to processioning, "as the Children in London are accustomed to perambulate the limits of their Parish, which they call processioning: a custom probably derived to them from the Romans, who were so many ages in possession of the [p.208] Island of Great Britain."137 The following customs can properly find a place nowhere but in this section: "Shaftesbury is pleasantly situated on a hill, but has no water, except what the inhabitants fetch at a quarter of a mile's distance from the man our of Gillingham, to the lord of which they pay a yearly ceremony of acknowledgment, on the Monday before Holy Thursday. They dress up a garland very richly, calling it the Prize Besom, and carry it to the Manor-house, attended by a calf's-head and a pair of gloves, which are presented to the lord. This done, the Prize Besom is returned again with the same pomp, and taken to pieces; just like a milk-maid's garland on May Day, being made up of all the plate that can be got together among the housekeepers." Travels of Tom Thumb, p. 16.

Brand's servant, Betty Jelkes, who lived several years at Evesham, in Worcestershire, informed him of an ancient custom at that place for the master-gardeners to give their workpeople a treat of baked peas, both white and grey (and pork), every year on Holy Thursday.

The following is the account given of Procession Weeke and Ascension Day, in Barnaby Googe's Translation of Naogeorgus, f. 63:

"Now comes the day wherein they gad abrode, with Crosse in hande,
To boundes of every field, and round about their neighbour's lande:
4nd, as they go, they sing and pray to every saint above,
But to our Ladie specially, whom most of all they love,
When as they to the towne are come, the Church they enter in,
And looke what Saint that Church doth guide, they humbly pray to him,
That he preserve both corne and fruit e from storme and tempest great
And them defend from harme, and send them store of drinke and meat
This done, they to the taverne go, or in the fieldes they dine,
Where downe they sit and feede apace, and fill themselves with wine,
So much that oftentymes without the Crosse they come away,
And miserably they reele, still as their stomacke up they lay.
These things three dayes continually are done, with solemne sport;
With many Crosses often they unto some Church resort,
Whereas they all do chaunt alowde, whereby there streight doth spring
A bawling noyse, while every man seeks hyghest for to syng.


Then comes the day when Christ ascended to his Father's seate.
Which day they als'o celebrate with store of drinke and meate;
Then every man some birde must eate, I know not to what ende,
And after dinner all to Church they come, and there attende.
The blocke that on the aultar still till then was seene to stande,
Is drawne up hie above the roofe, by ropes and force of hande;
The Priestes about it rounde do stand, and chaunt it to the skie,
For all these mens religion great in singing most doth lie.
Then out of hande the dreadfull shape of Sathan downe they throw,
Oft times, with fire burning bright, and dasht asunder tho;
The boyes with greedie eyes do watch, and on him straight they fall,
And beate him sore with rods, and breake him into peeces small.
This done, the wafers downe doe cast, and singing cakes the while,
With papers rounde amongst them put, the children to beguile.
With laughter great are all things done: and from the beames they let
Great streames of water downe to fall, on whom they meane to wet.
And thus this solemne holiday, and hye renowned feast
their whole devotion here is ended with a jeast."

The following superstition relating to this day is found in Scot's Discovery of Witchcraft, 1065, p. 152. "In some countries they run out of the doors in time of tempest, blessing themselves with a cheese, whereupon was a cross made with a rope's end upon Ascension Day. Item, to hang an egg laid on Ascension Day in the roof of the house, preserveth the same from all hurts." The same writer mentions the celebrated Venetian superstition on this day, which is of great antiquity. "Every year, ordinarily, upon Ascension Day, the Duke of Venice, accompanied with the States, goeth with great solemnity to the sea, and, after certain ceremonies ended, casteth thereinto a gold ring of great value and estimation, for a pacificatory oblation; wherewith their predecessors supposed that the wrath of the sea was assuaged." This custom is said to have taken its rise from a grant of Pope Alexander the Third, who, as a reward for the zeal of the inhabitants in his restoration to the Papal chair, gave them power over the Adriatick Ocean, as a man has power over his wife. In memory of which the chief magistrate annually throws a ring into it, with these words: "Desponsamus te, Mare, in signum perpetui dominii.  We espouse thee, Sea, in testimony of our perpetual dominion over thee," Gent. Mag. Nov. 1764, p. 483. See also Gent. Mag. March 1735, p. 118. In another volume of the same miscellany, for March 1798, p. 184, we have an account of the ceremony rather more minute: "On [p.210] Ascension Day, the Doge, in a splendid barge, attended by a thousand barks and gondolas, proceeds to a particular place in the Adriatic. In order to compose the angry gulph, and procure a calm, the patriarch pours into her bosom a quantity of holy water. As soon as this charm has had its effect, the Doge, with great solemnity, through an aperture near his seat, drops into her lap a gold ring, repeating these words, 'Desponsamus te y Mare, in signum veri perpetuique dominii:' We espouse thee, Sea, in token of real and perpetual dominion over thee."

[Brockett mentions the smock-race on Ascension Day, a race run by females for a smock. These races were frequent among the young country wenches in the North. The prize, a fine Holland chemise, was usually decorated with ribands. The sport is still continued at Newburn, near Newcastle. The following curious poem on this amusement is extracted from a small volume, entitled Poetical Miscellanies, consisting of Original Poems, and Translations, by the best hands, published by Mr. Steele, 8vo, 1714, p. 199:

"Now did the bag-pipe in hoarse notes begi
Th' expected signal to the neighb'ring green;
While the mild sun, in the decline of day,
Shoots from the distant West a cooler ray.
Allarm'd, the sweating crowds forsake the town,
Unpeopled Finglas is a desart grown.
Joan quits her cows, that with full udders stand,
And low unheeded for the milker's hand.
The joyous sound the distant reapers hear,
Their harvest leave, and to the sport repair.
The Dublin prentice, at the welcome call,
In t hurry rises from his cakes and ale;
Handing the flaunting sempstress o'er the plains,
He struts a beau among the homely swains.

" The butcher's foggy spouse amidst the throng,
Rubb'd clean, and tawdry drest, puffs slow along;
Her pond'rous rings the wond'ring mob behold,
And dwell on every finger heap'd with gold.
Long to St. Patrick's filthy shambles bound,
Surpris'd, she views the rural scene around;
The distant ocean there salutes her eyes,
Here tow'ring hills in goodly order rise;
The fruitful valleys long extended lay,
Here sheaves of corn, and cocks of fragrant hay;


While whatsoe'er she hears, she smells, or sees,
Gives her fresh transports, and she doats on trees.
Yet (hapless wretch), the servile thirst of gain
Can force her to her stinking stall again.

"Nor was the country justice wanting there,
To make a penny of the rogues that swear;
With supercilious looks he awes the green,
'Sirs, keep the peace I represent the queen.'
Poor Paddy swears his whole week's gains away,
While my young squires blaspheme, and nothing pay.
All on the mossie turf confus'd were laid
The jolly rustick, and the buxom maid,
Impatient for the sport, too long delay'd.

"When, lo, old Arbiter, amid the croud,
Prince of the annual games, proclaim'd aloud,
Ye virgins, that intend to try the race,
The swiftest wins a smock enrich'd with lace:
A cambrick kerchiff shall the next adorn,
And kidden gloves shall by the third be worn,
This said, he high in air display'd each prize;
All view the waving smock with longing eyes.

"Fair Oonah at the barrier first appears,
Pride of the neighb'ring mill, in bloom of years
Her native brightness borrows not one grace,
Uncultivated charms adorn her face,
Her rosie cheeks with modest blushes glow,
At once her innocence and beauty show:
Oonah the eyes of each spectator draws,
What bosom beats not in fair Oonah's cause?

"Tall as a pine majestick Nora stood,
Her youthful veins were swell'd with sprightly blood,
Inur'd to toyls, in wholesom gardens bred,
Exact in ev'ry limb, and form'd for speed.

"To thee, Shevan, next what praise is due?
Thy youth and beauty doubly strike the view,
Fresh as the plumb that keeps the virgin blue!
Each well deserves the smock, but fates decree,
But one must wear it, tho' deserv'd by three.
"Now side by side the panting rivals stand,
And fix their eyes upon th' appointed hand;
The signal giv'n, spring forward to the race,
Not fam'd Camilla ran with fleeter pace.
Nora, as lightning swift, the rest o'er-pass'd,
While Shevan fleetly ran, yet ran the last.
But, Oonah, thou hadst Venus on thy side;
At Nora's petticoat the goddess ply'd,


And in a trice the fatal string unty'd.
Quick stop'd the maid, nor wou'd, to win the prize,
Expose her hidden charms to vulgar eyes.
But while to tye the treach'rous knot she staid,
Both her glad rivals pass the weeping maid.
Now in despair she plies the race again,
Not winged winds dart swifter o'er the plain:
She (while chaste Dian aids her hapless speed)
Shevan outstrip'd nor further cou'd succeed.
For with redoubled haste bright Oonah flies,
Seizes the goal, and wins the noblest prize.

"Loud shouts and acclamations fill the place,
Tho' chance on Oonah had bestow'd the race;
Like Felim none rejoyc'd a lovelier swain
Ne'er fed a flock on the Fingalian plain.
Long he with secret passion lov'd the maid,
Now his encreasing flame itself betray'd.
Stript for the race how bright did she appear!
No cov'ring hid her feet, her bosom bare,
And to the wind she gave her flowing hair.
A thousand charms he saw, conceal'd before,
Those yet conceal'd he fancy'd still were more.

"Felim, as night came on, young Oonah woo'd,
Soon willing beauty was by truth subdu'd.
No jarring settlement their bliss annoys,
No licence needed to defer their joys.
Oonah e'er morn the sweets of wedlock try'd,
The smock she won a virgin, wore a bride."]


"If thou lov'st me then,
Steal forth thy father's house to-morrow night;
And in the wood, a league without the town,
Where I did met thee once with Helena,
To do observance for a morn of May,
There will I stay for thee."
        Mids. Night's Dream, Act i. sc. 1.

IT was anciently the custom for all ranks of people to go out a Maying early on the first of May. Bourne tells us that in his time, in the villages in the North of England, the iuvenile part of both sexes were wont to rise a little after midnight on the morning of that day, and walk to some [p.213] neighbouring wood, accompanied with music and the blowing of horns, where they broke down branches from the trees and adorned them with nosegays and crowns of flowers. This
done, they returned homewards with their booty about the time of sunrise, and made their doors and windows triumph in the flowery spoil.

Stubbs, in the Anatomic of Abuses, 1585, f. 94, says:

"Against Maie, every parishe, towne, and village, assemble themselves together, bothe men, women, and children, olde and yong, even all indifferently: and either goyng all together, or devidyng themselves into companies, they goe some to the woodes and groves, some to the hilles and mountaines, some to one place, some to another, where they spende all the night in pastymes, and in the mornyng they returne, bringing with them birch, bowes, and braunches of trees to deck their assemblies withall. I have heard it credibly reported (and that viva voce) by men of great gravitie, credite, and reputation, that of fourtie, threescore, or a hundred maides goyng to the woode over night, there have scarcely the thirde parte of them returned home againe undefiled."

Hearne, in his Preface to Robert of Gloucester's Chronicle, p. 18, speaking of the old custom of drinking out of horns, observes: "'Tis no wonder, therefore, that upon the jollities on the first of May formerly, the custom of blowing with, and drinking in, horns so much prevailed, which, though it be now generally disus'd, yet the custom of blowing them prevails at this season, even to this day, at Oxford, to remind people of the pleasantness of that part of the year, which ought to create mirth and gayety, such as is sketched out in some old Books of Offices, such as the Prymer of Salisbury, printed at Rouen, 1551, 8vo." Aubrey, in his Remains of Gentilisme and Juadisme, MS. Lansd. 266, f. 5, says: "Memorandum, at Oxford, the boys do blow cows' horns and hollow canes all night; and on May Day the young maids of every parish carry about garlands of flowers, which afterwards they hang up in their churches." Mr. Henry Rowe, in a note in his Poems, ii. 4, says: "The Tower of Magdalen College, Oxford, erected by Cardinal Wolsey, when bursar of the College, 1492, contains a musical peal of ten bells, and on May Day the choristers assemble on the top to usher in the spring." Dr. Chandler, however, in his Life of Bishop Waynflete, [p.214] assures us that Wolsey had no share in the erection of the structure; and Mr. Chalmers, in his History of the University, refers the origin of the custom to a mass or requiem, which, before the Reformation, used to be annually performed on the top of the tower, for the soul of Henry VII. "This was afterwards commuted," he observes, "for a few pieces of musick, which are executed by the choristers, and for which the Rectory of Slimbridge, in Gloucestershire, pays annually the sum of 10l."

In Herrick's Hesperides, p. 74, are the following allusions to customs on May Day:

"Come, my Corinna, come: and comming, marke
How each field turns a street, each street a park
Made green and trimmed with trees: see how
Devotion gives each house a bough,
Or branch: each porch, each doore, ere this,
An arke, a tabernacle is,
Made up of white-thorne neatly enterwove,
A deale of youth, ere this, is come
Back, and with white-thorne laden home.
Some have dispatch'd their cakes and creame,
Before that we have left to dreame."

[In an old ballad called the Milk-maid's Life, printed about 1630, we are told:

"Upon the first of May,
With garlands fresh and gay,
With mirth and musick sweet,
For such a season meet,
They passe their time away:
They dance away sorrow,
And all the day thorow
Their legs doe never fayle.
They nimbly their feet doe ply,
And bravely try the victory
In honour o' th' milking paile."]

There was a time when this custom was observed by noble and royal personages, as well as the vulgar. Thus we read in Chaucer's Court of Love, that, early on May Day, "fourth goth al the Court, both most and lest, to fetche the flouris fresh, and braunch, and blome." It is on record that King Henry the Eighth and Queen Katherine partook of this diversion; and historians also mention that he with his courtiers, [p.215] in the beginning of his reign, rose on May Day very early to fetch May, or green boughs, and they went with their bows and arrows, shooting to the wood. Shakespeare says (Hen. VIII.) it was impossible to make the people sleep on May morning; and (Mids. N. Dream) that they rose early to observe the right of May. The court of King James the First, and the populace, long preserved the observance of the day, as Spelman's Glossary remarks under the word Maiuma. Milton has the following beautiful song on May morning:

"Now the bright morning star, day's harbinger,
Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her
The flow'ry May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow cowslip and the pale primrose.

Hail, bounteous May! that dost inspire
Mirth and youth, and fond desire;
Woods and groves are of thy dressing,
Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.
Thus we salute thee with our early song,
And welcome thee, and wish thee long."

Stow, in his Survey of London, 1603, pp. 98-9, quotes from Hall an account of Henry the VIII.'s riding a Maying from Greenwich to the high ground of Shooter's-hill, with Queen Katherine his wife, accompanied with many lords and ladies. He tells us also, that "on May Day in the morning, every man, except impediment, would walke into the sweete meadowes and greene woods, there to rejoyce their spirites with the beauty and savour of sweete flowers, and with the harmony of birds praysing God in their kind. I find also, that in the moneth of May, the citizens of London, of all estates, lightly in every parish, or sometimes two or three parishes joyning togither, had their severall Mayings, and did fetch in May-poles, with diverse warlike shewes, with good archers, morice-dauncers, and other devices, for pastime all the day long, and towards the evening they had stage-playes, and bonefiers in the streetes. Of these Mayings we reade, in the raigne of Henry the Sixt, that the aldermen and shiriffes of London being, on May Day, at the Bishop of London's wood, in the parish of Stebunheath, and having there a worshipfull dinner for themselves and other commers, Lydgatethe poet, that was a monke of Bery, sent to them by a pursivant a joyfull [p.216] commendation of that season, containing sixteen staves in meter royall, beginning thus:

"Mightie Flora, goddesse of fresh flowers,
Which clothed hath the soyle in lustie greene,
Made buds spring with her sweete showers,
By influence of the sunne-shine;
To doe pleasance of intent full cleane,
Unto the States which now sit here,
Hath Vere downe sent her owne daughter deare."

Polydore Vergil says, that "at the Calendes of Maie," not only houses and gates were garnished with boughs and flowers, but "in some places the churches, whiche fashion is derived of the Romaynes, that use the same to honour their goddesse Flora with suche ceremonies, whom they name Goddesse of Fruites." (Langley's Polyd. Verg. f. 102.) In an account of Parish Expenses in Coates's Hist. of Reading, p. 216, 1504, we have: "It. Payed for felling and bryngyng home of the bow set in the Mercat-place, for settyng up of the same, mete and drink, viijd."

In Vox Graculi, 1623, p. 62, under May, are the following observations:

"To Islington and Hogsdon runnes the streame
Of giddie people, to eate cakes and creame."

"May is the merry moneth: on the first day, betimes in the morning, shall young fellowes and mayds be so enveloped with a mist of wandering out of their wayes, that they shall fall into ditches, one upon another. In the afternoone, if the skie cleare up, shall be a stinking stirre at Pickehatch, with the solemne revels of m once-dancing, and the hobbie-horse so neatly presented, as if one of the masters of the parish had playd it himselfe. Against this high-day, likewise, shall be such preparations for merry meetings, that divers durty sluts shall bestow more in stuffe, lace, and making up of a gowne and a peticote, then their two yeares wages come to, besides the benefits of candles' ends and kitchen stuffe." In Whimzies, or a True Cast of Characters, 1631, p. 132, speaking of a ruffian, the author says: "His soveraignty is showne highest at May-games, Wakes, Summerings, and Rush-bearings."

In the old Calendar of the Romish Church so often referred [p.217] to, I find the following observation on the 30th of April:

"The boys go out and seek May trees." This receives illustration from an order in a MS. in the British Museum, entitled "The State of Eton School," 1560, wherein it is stated, that on the day of St. Philip and St. James, if it be fair weather, and the master grants leave, those boys who choose it may rise at four o'clock, to gather May branches, if they can do it without wetting their feet : and that on that day they adorn the windows of the bedchamber with green leaves, and the houses are perfumed with fragrant herbs.

Misson, in his Travels in England, translated by Ozell, p. 307, says: "On the 1st of May, and the five and six days following, all the pretty young country girls that serve the town with milk dress themselves up very neatly, and borrow abundance of silver plate, whereof they make a pyramid, which they adorn with ribbands and flowers, and carry upon their heads, instead of their common milk-pails. In this equipage, accompany'd by some of their fellow milk-maids, and a bagpipe or fiddle, they go from door to door, dancing before the houses of their customers, in the midst of boys and girls that follow them in troops, and everybody gives them something." In the Dedication to Colonel Martin's Familiar Epistles, 1685, we have the following allusion to this custom: "What's a May-day milking-pail without a garland and fiddle?" "The Mayings," says Strutt, ii. 99, "are in some sort yet kept up by the milk-maids at London, who go about the streets with their garlands, music, and dancing: but this tracing is a very imperfect shadow of the original sports; for May-poles were set up in streets, with various martial shows, morris-dancing, and other devices, with which, and revelling and good cheer, the day was passed away. At night they rejoiced, and lighted up their bonfires."

Scott, in his Discovery of Witchcraft, p. 152, tells us of an old superstition: "To be delivered from witches, they hang in their entries (among other things) hay-thorn, otherwise white-thorn, gathered on May-day." The following divination on May-day is preserved in Gay's Shepherd's Week, 4th pastoral:

"Last May-day fair, I search'd to find a snail,
That might my secret lover's name reveal;


Upon a gooseberry-bush a snail I found,
For always snails near sweetest fruit abound.
I seized the vermine ; home I quickly sped,
And on the hearth the milk-white embers spread:
Slow crawl'd the snail, and, if I right can spell,
In the soft ashes marked a curious L:
Oh, may this wondrous omen lucky prove!
For L is found in Lubberkin and Love."

The May customs are not yet forgotten in London and its vicinity. In the Morning Post, May 2d, 1791, it was mentioned, "that yesterday being the 1st of May, according to annual and superstitious custom, a number of persons went into the fields and bathed their faces with the dew on the grass, under the idea that it would render them beautiful."

"Vain hope! No more in choral bands unite
Her virgin votaries, and at early dawn,
Sacred to May and Love's mysterious rites,
Brush the light dew-drops from the spangled lawn."

I remember, too, that in walking that same morning, between Hounslow and Brentford, I was met by two distinct parties of girls, with garlands of flowers, who begged money of me, saying, "Pray, sir, remember the garland." The young chimney-sweepers, some of whom are fantastically dressed in girls' clothes, with a great profusion of brick-dust, by way of paint, gilt paper, &c., making a noise with their shovels and brushes, are now the most striking objects in the celebration
of May-day in the streets of London.

[May-dew was held of singular virtue in former times. Pepys, on a certain day in May, makes this entry in his diary: "My wife away down with Jane and W. Hewer to Woolwich, in order to a little ayre, and to lie there to-night, and so to gather Maydew to-morrow morning, which Mrs. Turner hath taught her is the only thing in the world to wash her face with; and," Pepys adds, "I am contented with it." His reasons for contentment seem to appear in the same line; for he says, "I went by water to Fox-hall, and there walked in Spring-garden." And there he notices "a great deal of company, and the weather and garden pleasant; and it is very pleasant and cheap going thither, for a man may go to spend what he will, or nothing all as one. But to hear the nightingale and other birds, and here a fiddler, and there a harp, and here a Jew's trump, and here laughing, [p.219] and there fine people walking, is mighty diverting," says Mr. Pepys, while his wife is gone to lie at Woolwich, "in order to a little ayre and to gather May-dew."]

I have more than once been disturbed early on May morning, at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, by the noise of a song which a woman sung about the streets, who had several garlands in her hands, and which, if I mistook not, she sold to any that were superstitious enough to buy them. It is homely and low, but it must be remembered that our treatise is not on the sublime:

"Rise up, maidens! fy for shame!
For I've been four lang miles from hame:
I've been gathering my garlands gay:
Rise up, fair maids, and take in your May."138

[At Islip, co. Oxon, the children with their May garlands sing,

"Good morning, Missus and Master,
I wish you a happy day;
Please to smell my garland,
Because it is the First of May."]

The following shows a custom of making fools on the 1st of May, like that on the 1st of April: "U. P. K. spells May Goslings," is an expression used by boys at play, as an insult to the losing party. U.P.K. is "up pick," that is, up with your pin or peg, the mark of the goal. An additional punishment was thus: the winner made a hole in the ground with his heel, into which a peg about three inches long was driven, its top being below the surface; the loser, with his hands tied behind him, was to pull it up with his teeth, the boys buffeting with their hats, and calling out, "Up pick, you May Gosling," or "U.P.K. Gosling in May." A May Gosling on the 1st of May is made with as much eagerness in the north of England, [p.220] as an April Noddy (Noodle), or Fool, on the 1st of April." Gent. Mag. for April, 1791, p. 327.

[If, however, a May gosling was made on the second of the month, the following rhyme was uttered to turn the ridicule:

"May-day's past and gone;
Thou's a gosling, and I'm none."]

To May-Day sports may be referred the singular bequest of Sir Dudley Diggs (mentioned in Hasted's Kent, ii. 787), who, by his last will, dated in 1638, left the yearly sum of 20l., "to be paid to two young men and two maids, who, on May 19th, yearly, should run a tye at Old Wives Lees in Ckilham, and prevail; the money to be paid out of the profits of the land of this part of the manor of Selgrave, which escheated to him after the death of Lady Clive. These lands, being in three pieces, lie in the parishes of Preston and Faversham, and contain about forty acres, all commonly called the Running Lands. Two young men and two young maids run at Old Wives Lees in Chilham, yearly, on May 1st, and the same number at Sheldwich Lees on the Monday following, by way of trial: and the two which prevail at each of those places run for the 10l. at Old Wives Lees, as above mentioned, on May 19th." A great concourse of the neighbouring gentry and inhabitants constantly assemble there on this occasion. "There was, till of late years," says the same writer (Hist. of Kent, ii. 284), "a singular, though a very ancient, custom kept up, of electing a Deputy to the Dumb Borsholder of Chart, as it was called, claiming liberty over fifteen houses in the precinct of Pizeinwell; every householder of which was formerly obliged to pay the keeper of this Borsholder one penny yearly. This Dumb Borsholder was always first called at the Court-Leet holden for the hundred of Twyford, when its keeper, who was yearly appointed by that court, held it up to his call, with a neckcloth or handkerchief put through the iron ring fixed at the top, and answered for it. This Borsholder of Chart, and the Court-Leet, has been discontinued about fifty years: and the Borsholder, who is put in by the Quarter Sessions for Watringbury, claims over the whole parish. This Dumb Borsholder is made of wood, about three feet and half an inch long, with an iron ring at the top, and four more by the sides, near the bottom, where it has a square [p.221] iron spike fixed, four inches and a half long, to fix it in the ground, or, on occasion, to break open doors, &c., which used to be done, without a warrant of any justice, on suspicion of goods having been unlawfully come by and concealed in any of these fifteen houses. It is not easy at this distance of time, to ascertain the origin of this dumb officer. Perhaps it might have been made use of as a badge or ensign by the office of the market here. The last person who acted as deputy to it was one Thomas Clampard, a blacksmith, whose heirs have it now in their possession."

In the Laws of the Market, printed by Andrew Clark, printer to the Honourable City of London, 1677, under "The Statutes of the Streets of this City against Noysances," 29, I find the following: "No man shall go in the streets by night or by day with bow bent, or arrows under his girdle, nor with sword unscabbar'd, under pain of imprisonment; or with hand-gun, having therewith powder and match, except it be in a usual May-game or Sight."

Audley, in a Companion to the Almanack, 1802, p. 21, says: "Some derive May from Maia, the mother of Mercury, to whom they offered sacrifices on the first day of it; and this seems to explain the custom which prevails on this day where the writer resides (Cambridge), of children having a figure dressed in a grotesque manner, called a May Lady, before which they set a table, having on it wine, &c. They also beg money of passengers, which is considered as an offering to the manikin; for their plea to obtain it is, "Pray remember the poor May Lady.'' Perhaps the garlands, for which they also beg, originally adorned the head of the goddess. The bush of hawthorn, or, as it is called, May, placed at the doors on this day, may point out the first fruits of the Spring, as this is one of the earliest trees which blossoms."

Browne, in his Britannia's Pastorals, 1625, ii. 122, thus describes some of the May revellings:

As I have scene the Lady of the May
Set in an arbow (on a holy-day)
Built by the May-pole, where the jocund swaines
Dance with the maidens to the bagpipe's straines,
When envious Night commands them to be gone,
Call for the merry youngsters one by one,
And for their well performance, soone disposes
To this a garland interwove with roses;


To that a carved hooke or well-wrought scrip;
Gracing another with her cherry lip;
To one her garter; to another then
A hand-kerchief e cast o'er and o'er agen:
And none returneth emptie that hath spent
His paines to fill their rurall meriment."

Hutchinson, in his History of Northumberland, ii. 14, tells us "that a syllabub, is prepared for the May Feast, which is made of warm milk from the cow, sweet cakes and wine: and a kind of divination is practised, by fishing with a ladle for a wedding-ring, which is dropped into it, for the purpose of prognosticating who shall be first married."

Tollet, in the description of his famous window, of which more will be said hereafter, tells us: "Better judges may decide that the institution of this festival originated from the Roman Floralia, or from the Celtic La Beltine, while I conceive it derived to us from our Gothic ancestors." Olaus Magnus, de Gentibus Septentrionalibus, lib. xv. c. 8, says, "that after their long winter, from the beginning of October to the end of April, the Northern nations have a custom to welcome the returning splendour of the sun with dancing, and mutually to feast each other, rejoicing that a better season for fishing and hunting was approached." In honour of May Day the Goths and Southern Swedes had a mock battle between Summer and Winter, which ceremony is retained in the Isle of Man, where the Danes and Norwegians had been for a long time masters.

Borlase, in his curious account of the manners of Cornwall, speaking of the May Customs, says: "This usage is nothing more than a gratulation of the Spring;" and every house exhibited a proper signal of its approach, "to testify their universal joy at the revival of vegetation." He says: "An antient custom, still retained by the Cornish, is, that of decking their doors and porches on the first day of May with green boughs of sycamore and hawthorn, and of planting trees, or rather stumps of trees, before their houses."

In the Gentleman's Magazine for 1754, p. 354, a custom is alluded to, I believe, not yet entirely obsolete. The writer says, "They took places in the waggon, and quitted London early on May morning; and it being the custom in this month for the passengers to give the waggoner at every inn a ribbon [p.223] to adorn his team, she soon discovered the origin of the proverb, 'as fine as a horse;' for, before they got to the end of their journey, the poor beasts were almost blinded by the tawdry party-coloured flowing honours of their heads."

Another writer in the Gentleman's Magazine for June, 1790, p. 520, says: "At Helstone, a genteel and populous borough-town in Cornwall, it is customary to dedicate the eighth of May to revelry (festive mirth, not loose jollity). It is called the Furry Day, supposed Flora's Day; not, I imagine, as many have thought, in remembrance of some festival instituted in honour of that goddess, but rather from the garlands commonly worn on that day. In the morning, very early, some troublesome rogues go round the streets with drums, or other noisy instruments, disturbing their sober neighbours, and singing parts of a song, the whole of which
nobody now recollects, and of which I know no more than that there is mention in it of 'the grey goose quill,' and of going to the green wood to bring home 'the Summer and the May-o.' And, accordingly, hawthorn flowering branches are worn in hats. The commonalty make it a general holiday; and if they find any person at work, make him ride on a pole, carried on men's shoulders, to the river, over which he is to leap in a wide place, if he can; if he cannot, he must leap in, for leap he must, or pay money. About 9 o'clock they appear before the school, and demand holiday for the Latin boys, which is invariably granted; after which they collect money from house to house. About the middle of the day they collect together, to dance hand-in-hand round the streets, to the sound of the fiddle, playing a particular tune, which they continue to do till it is dark. This they call a 'Faddy.' In the afternoon the gentility go to some farmhouse in the neighbourhood, to drink tea, syllabub, &c., and return in a morris-dance to the town, where they form a Faddy, and dance through the streets till it is dark, claiming a right of going through any person's house, in at one door, and out at the other. And here it formerly used to end, and the company of all kinds to disperse quietly to their several habitations; but latterly corruptions have in this, as in other matters, crept in by degrees. The ladies, all elegantly dressed in white muslins, are now conducted by their partners to the [p.224] ball-room, where they continue their dance till supper-time; after which they all faddy it out of the house, breaking off by degrees to their respective houses. The mobility imitate their superiors, and also adjourn to the several public-houses, where they continue their dance till midnight. It is, upon the whole, a very festive, jovial, and withal so sober, and, I believe, singular custom: and any attempt to search out the original of it, inserted in one of your future Magazines, will very much please and gratify DURGAN."

[I am enabled to furnish a copy of the Furry-day song, which has escaped the memory of this writer:

"Robin Hood and Little John,
They both are gone to the fair,
And we'll go to the merry green wood,
And see what they do there.
For we were up as soon as any day
For to fetch the summer home,
The summer and the May, O,
For the summer now is come!
Where are those Spaniards
That make so great a boast?
They shall eat the grey goose feather,
And we will eat the roast.
As for the brave St. George,
St. George he was a knight;
Of all the knights in Christendom
St. Georgy is the right.
God bless Aunt Mary Moses,
And all her powers and might,
And send us peace in merry England,
Both day and night!"]

The month of May is generally considered as an unlucky time for the celebration of marriage. This is an idea which has been transmitted to us by our Popish ancestors, and was borrowed by them from the ancients.

In Sinclair's Statistical Account of Scotland, 1794, xi. 620, the minister of Callander, in Perthshire, says, the people of district "have two customs, which are fast wearing out, not only here but all over the Highlands, and therefore ought to be taken notice of while they remain. Upon the first day of May, which is called Baltan or Bal-tein-day, all the boys in a township or hamlet meet in the moors. They cut a table in the green sod, of a round figure, by casting a trench in the [p.225] ground of such circumference as to hold the whole company. They kindle a fire, and dress a repast of eggs and milk of the consistence of a custard. They knead a cake of oatmeal, which is toasted at the embers against a stone. After the custard is eaten up, they divide the cake into so many portions, as similar as possible to one another in size and shape, as there are persons in the company. They daub one of these portions all over with charcoal until it be perfectly black. They put all the bits of the cake into a bonnet. Every one, blindfold, draws out a portion. He who holds the bonnet is entitled to the last bit. Whoever draws the black bit is the devoted person who is to be sacrificed to Baal, whose favour they mean to implore, in rendering the year productive of the sustenance of man and beast. There is little doubt of these inhuman sacrifices having been once offered in this country as well as in the East, although they now omit the act of sacrificing, and only compel the devoted person to leap three times through the flames; with which the ceremonies of this festival are closed." (The other custom, supposed to have a similar mystical allusion, will be found under ALLHALLOW EVEN.) "Bal-tein signifies the Fire of Baal. Baal or Ball is the only word in Gaelic for a globe. This festival was probably in honour of the sun, whose return, in his apparent annual course, they celebrated, on account of his having such a visible influence, by his genial warmth, on the productions of the earth. That the Caledonians paid a superstitious respect to the sun, as was the practice among many other nations, is evident, not only by the sacrifice at Baltein, but upon many other occasions. When a Highlander goes to bathe, or to drink waters out of a consecrated fountain, he must always approach by going round the place from East to West on the South side, in imitation of the apparent diurnal motion of the sun. This is called in Gaelic going round the right, or the lucky way. The opposite course is the wrong, or the unlucky way. And if a person's meat or drink were to affect the wind-pipe, or come against his breath, they instantly cry out desheal! which is an ejaculation, praying that it may go by the right way." In the same work, v. 84, the minister of Logierait, in Perthshire, says: "On the 1st of May, 0. S., a festival called Belt an is annually held here. It is chiefly celebrated by the cowherds, who assemble by scores in the fields to dress [p.226] a dinner for themselves of boiled milk and eggs. These dishes they eat with a sort of cakes baked for the occasion, and having small lumps, in the form of nipples, raised all over the surface. The cake might, perhaps, be an offering to some deity in the days of Druidism."

Pennant's account of this rural sacrifice is more minute. He tells us in his Tour in Scotland, p. 90, that, on the 1st of May, in the Highlands of Scotland, the herdsmen of every village hold their Bel-tein. "They cut a square trench in the ground, leaving the turf in the middle; on that they make a fire of wood, on which they dress a large caudle of eggs, butter, oatmeal, and milk, and bring, besides the ingredients of the caudle, plenty of beer and whisky: for each of the company must contribute something. The rites begin with spilling some of the caudle on the ground, by way of libation: on that, every one takes a cake of oatmeal, upon which are raised nine square knobs, each dedicated to some particular being, the supposed preserver of their flocks and herds, or to some particular animal, the real destroyer of them. Each person then turns his face to the fire, breaks off a knob, and, flinging it over his shoulders, says: 'This I give to thee, preserve thou my horses.' 'This to thee, preserve thou my sheep;' and so on. After that they use the same ceremony to the noxious animals. 'This I give to thee, O fox! spare thou my lambs,' 'this to thee, O hooded crow,' 'this to thee, eagle!' When the ceremony is over, they dine on the caudle; and, after the feast is finished, what is left is hid by two persons deputed for that purpose; but on the next Sunday they re-assemble, and finish the reliques of the first entertainment."

I found the following note in p. 149 of the Muses' Threnodie, 1774: "We read of a cave called 'The Dragon Hole,' in a steep rock on the face of Kinnoul Hill, of very difficult and dangerous access. On the first day of May, during the era of Popery, a great concourse of people assembled at that place to celebrate superstitious games, now (adds the writer) unknown to us, which the Reformers prohibited under heavy censures and severe penalties, of which we are informed from the ancient records of the Kirk Session of Perth."

Martin, in his Account of the Western Islands of Scotland (ed. 1716, p. 7), speaking of the Isle of Lewis, says, that "the natives in the village Barvas retain an ancient custom of [p.227] sending a man very early to cross Barvas river, every first day of May, to prevent any females crossing it first; for that, they say, would hinder the salmon from coming into the river all the year round." They pretend to have learned this from a foreign sailor, who was shipwrecked upon that coast a long time ago. This observation they maintain to be true, from experience.

For an account of the custom called Hobby-horsing, on the 1st of May, at Minehead, county Somerset, see Savage's History of the Hundred of Carhampton, p. 583.

Sir Henry Piers, in his Description of Westmeath, 1682, tells us that the Irish "have a custom every May Day, which they count their first day of Summer, to have to their meal one formal dish, whatever else they have, which some call stir-about, or hasty-pudding, that is, flour and milk boiled thick; and this is holden as ail argument of the good wife's good huswifery, that made her corn hold out so well as to have such a dish to begin summer fare with; for if they can hold out so long with bread, they count they can do well enough for what remains of the year till harvest; for then milk becomes plenty, and butter, new cheese, and curds, and sham-rocks, are the food of the meaner sort all this season. Nevertheless, in this mess, on this day, they are so formal, that even in the plentifullest and greatest houses, where bread is in abundance all the year long, they will not fail of this dish, nor yet they that for a month before wanted bread." Camden, in his Antient and Modern Manners of the Irish, says: "They fancy a green bough of a tree, fastened on May Day against the house, will produce plenty of milk that summer." General Vallancey, in his Essay on the Antiquity of the Irish Language, 1772, p. 19, speaking of the 1st of May, says: "On that day the Druids drove all the cattle through the fires, to preserve them from disorders the ensuing year. This Pagan custom is still observed in Minister and Connaught, where the meanest cottager, worth a cow and a wisp of straw, practises the same on the first day of May, and with the same superstitious ideas."

In the Survey of the South of Ireland, p. 233, we read something similar to what has been already quoted from the Statistical Account of Scotland. "The sun," says the writer, "was propitiated here by sacrifices of fire: one was on the [p.228] 1st of May, for a blessing on the seed sown. The 1st of May is called in the Irish language La Beal-tine, that is, the day of Beal's fire. Vossius says it is well known that Apollo was called Belinus, and for this he quotes Herodian, and an inscription at Aquileia, Apollini Belino. The Gods of Tyre were Baal, Ashtaroth, and all the Host of Heaven, as we learn from the frequent rebukes given to the backsliding Jews for following after Sidonian idols: and the Phenician Baal, or Baalam, like the Irish Beal, or Bealin, denotes the sun, as Asturoth does the moon."

Aubrey, in his Remains of Geritilisme, MS. Lansd. 226, informs us that, "'Tis commonly say'd in Germany that the witches do meet in the night before the first day of May, upon an high mountain, called the Blocksberg, situated in Ascanien where they, together with the devils, do dance and feast; ant the common people doe, the night before the said day, fetch a certain thorn, and stick it at their house-door, believing the witches can then doe them no harm."

Dr. Clarke, in his Travels in Russia, 1810, i. 110, speaking of the "First of May," says: "The promenades at this season of the year (during Easter) are, amongst the many sights in Moscow, interesting to a stranger. The principal is on the 1st of May, Russia style, in a forest near the city. It affords a very interesting spectacle to strangers, because it is frequented by the bourgeoisie as well as by the nobles, and the national costume may then be observed in its greatest splendour. The procession of carriages and persons on horseback is immense. Beneath the trees, and upon the green sward, Russian peasants are seen seated in their gayest dresses, expressing their joy by shouting and tumultuous songs. The music of the Balalaika, the shrill notes of rustic pipes, clapping of hands, and the wild dances of the gipsies, all mingle in one revelry."

Bourne cites Polydore Vergil as telling us that, among the Italians, the youth of both sexes were accustomed to go into the fields on the Calends of May, and bring thence the branches of trees, singing all the way as they came, and so place them on the doors of their houses. This, he observes, is a relic of an ancient custom among the Heathens, who observed the four last days of April, and the first of May, in honour of the goddess Flora, who was imagined the deity presiding over the [p.229] fruit and flowers: a festival that was observed with all manner of obscenity and lewdness. Dr. Moresin follows Polydore Vergil in regard to the origin of this custom.

[It was an old custom in Suffolk in most of the farmhouses, that any servant who could bring in a branch of hawthorn in full blossom on the 1st of May, was entitled to a dish of cream for breakfast. This custom is now disused, not so much from the reluctance of the masters to give the reward, as from the inability of the servants to find the white-thorn in flower. To this custom the following stupid jingle appears to belong,

"This is the day,
And here is our May,
The finest ever seen,
It is fit for the queen;
So pray, ma'am, give us a cup of your cream."

A gentleman residing at Hitchin, in Hertfordshire, communicated to Mr. Hone a curious account of the way in which May-day is observed at that place. The Mayers there express their judgment of the estimableness of the characters of their neighbours by fixing branches upon their doors before morning; those who are unpopular find themselves marked with nettle or some other vile weed instead. "Throughout the day parties of these Mayers are seen dancing and frolicking in various parts of the town. The group that I saw to day, which remained in Bancroft for more than an hour, was composed as follows: First came two men with their faces blacked, one of them with a birch broom in his hand, and a large artificial hump on his back; the other dressed as a woman, all in rags and tatters, with a large straw bonnet on, and carrying a ladle: these are called 'Mad Moll and her husband.' Next came two men, one most fantastically dressed with ribbons, and a great variety of gaudy-coloured silk handkerchiefs tied round his arms, from the shoulders to the wrists, and down his thighs and legs to the ankles; he carried a drawn sword in his hand; leaning upon his arm was a youth dressed as a fine lady, in white muslin, and profusely bedecked from top to toe with gay ribbons; these, I understood, were called the 'Lord and Lady of the company.' After these followed six or seven couples more, attired much in the same style as the lord and [p.230] lady, only the men were without swords. When this group received a satisfactory contribution at any house, the music struck up from a violin, clarionet, and fife, accompanied by the long drum, and they began the merry dance, and very well they danced, I assure you; the men-women looked and footed it so much like real women, that I stood in great doubt as to which sex they belonged to, till Mrs. J. assured me that women were not permitted to mingle in these sports. While the dancers were merrily footing it, the principal amusement to the populace was caused by the grimaces and clownish tricks of Mad Moll and her husband. When the circle of spectators became so contracted as to interrupt the dancers* then Mad Moll's husband went to work with his broom, and swept the road dust all round the circle into the faces of the crowd; and when any pretended affronts were offered (and many were offered) to his wife, he pursued the offenders, broom in hand; if he could not overtake them, whether they were males or females, he flung his broom at them. These flights and pursuits caused an abundance of merriment. The Hitchin Mayers have a song, much in the style of a Christmas Carol, which Mr. Hone has also given:

"Remember us, poor Mayers all,
And thus do we begin
To lead our lives in righteousness,
Or else we die in sin.
We have been rambling all this night,
And almost all this day;
And now returned back again,
We have brought you a branch of May.
A branch of May we have brought you,
And at your door it stands;
It is but a sprout,
But it's well budded out
By the work of our Lord's hands
The hedges and trees they are so green,
As green as any leek;
Our heavenly Father he watered them
With his heavenly dew so sweet.
The heavenly gates are open wide,
Our paths are beaten plain,
And if a man be not too far gone,
He may return again.


The life of man is but a span,
It flourishes like a flower;
We are here to-day and gone to-morrow
And we are dead in an hour.
The moon shines bright, and the stars give a light,
A little before it is day;
So God bless you all, both great and small,
And send you a joyful May!"

In London, May-day was once as much observed as it was in any rural district. There were several May-poles throughout the city, particularly one near the bottom of Catherine-street, in the Strand, which, rather oddly, became in its latter days a support for a large telescope at Wanstead in Essex, the property of the Royal Society. The milkmaids were amongst the last conspicuous celebrators of the day. They used to dress themselves in holiday guise on this morning, and come in bands with fiddles, whereto they danced, attended by a strange-looking pyramidal pile, covered with pewter plates, ribands, and streamers, either borne by a man upon his head, or by two men upon a hand-barrow: this was called their garland. The young chimney-sweepers also made this a peculiar festival, coming forth into the streets in fantastic dresses, and making all sorts of unearthly noises with their shovels and brushes. The benevolent Mrs. Montagu, one of the first of the class of literary ladies in England, gave these home slaves an annual dinner on this day, in order, we presume, to aid a little in reconciling them to existence. In London, May-day still remains the great festival of the sweeps, and much finery and many vagaries are exhibited on the occasion.

The following account of May-day in the streets of London in 1844, is extracted from the Times of the following day: "Yesterday being May-day, the more secluded parts of the metropolis were visited by Jack-in-the-Green, and the usual group of grotesque attendants. Among numerous displays of this nature, the only one that exhibited any novelty was a group of tinselled holiday-makers, attended, not by the usual 'My lady,' with a gilt ladle, but by a very sturdy-looking impersonation of the 'Pet of the ballet,' attired in a remarkably short gauze petticoat, beneath which were displayed a pair of legs and ankles that had certainly been brought to a most extraordinary state of muscular development. This strapping repre- [p.232] sentative of stage elegance was attended by a protector in the somewhat anomalous garb of Jem Crow, and who addressed his lady by the title of 'Marmselle Molliowski,' introducing her to the spectators as a foreign dancer of notoriety, who had that day condescended to make her first appearance in public by dancing the polka as it really ought to be danced, and in such a manner as would at once satisfy everybody that it was the most extraordinary dance ever invented. After this introduction, Marmselle Molliowski went through a most facetious burlesque, combining all the various absurdities of stage dancing, and ending, by way of climax, with a regular summerset; and the somewhat lavish display of a pair of yellow buckskins, the discovery of which, together with a mock curtesy that terminated the performance, excited shouts of laughter among the multitude, who rewarded the very masculine-looking Mademoiselle Molliowski with a heavy shower of 'browns.'"

I am induced to give at length a very interesting communication on this anniversary by Mr. L. Jewitt, printed in the Literary Gazette, May, 1847: "While you are deafened by the discordant sounds of the drums and other instruments, and the host of hooting boys, accompanying Jack-in-the-Green in his perambulations through your busy streets, and while you are bewildered by the giddy whirling dance of the sooty monarch under the green extinguisher, and his gay attendants, with their flaunting ribands, their flowers, their brass ladles, and tinsel, the cocked hats and court dresses of the males, and the rustic broad-brimmed straws, the short white dresses, and graceful sylph-like movements of the chummy females, it will be a relief to you to turn and contemplate the pretty and simple celebration of this 'sweet May-day' in a quiet country village. And now the milkmaids' garlands are no more, and the dancing round the Maypole has passed away, and other May customs and ceremonies are fast being buried in that oblivion where many remnants of the habits and superstitions of our forefathers have long been laid, it will be pleasant to you to know that in some secluded spots May-day customs are still observed, and are looked forward to with as much interest as ever. In Oxford, the singing at Magdalen College still takes place, as you are aware, on the top of the magnificent tower. The choristers assemble there in their white [p.233] gowns, at a little before five o'clock in the morning, and as soon as the clock has struck, commence singing their matins. The beautiful bridge and all around the college are covered with spectators; indeed it is quite a little fair; the inhabitants of the city, as well as of the neighbouring villages, collecting together, some on foot and some in carriages, to hear the choir, and to welcome in the happy day. Hosts of boys are there too, with tin trumpets, and stalls are fitted up for the sale of them and sweetmeats; and as soon as the singers cease, the bells peal forth their merry sounds in joyful welcome of the new mouth; and the boys, who have been impatiently awaiting for the conclusion of the matins, now blow their trumpets lustily, and, performing such a chorus as few can imagine, and none forget, start off in all directions, and scour the fields and lanes, and make the woods re-echo to their sounds, in search of flowers. The effect of the singing is sweet, solemn, and almost supernatural, and during its celebration the most profound stillness reigns over the assembled numbers; all seem impressed with the angelic softness of the floating sounds, as they are gently wafted down by each breath of air. All is hushed, and calm, and quiet even breathing is almost forgotten, and all seem lost even to themselves, until, with the first peal of the bells, the spell is broken, and noise and confusion usurp the place of silence and quiet. But even this custom, beautiful as it is, is not so pleasing and simple as the one observed at Headington, two miles from Oxford, where the children carry garlands from house to house. They are all alert some days beforehand, gathering evergreens, and levying contributions of flowers on all who possess gardens, to decorate their sweet May offerings. Each garland is formed of a hoop for a rim, with two half hoops attached to it, and crossed above, much in the shape of a crown; each member is beautifully adorned with flowers, and the top surmounted by a fine crown imperial, or other showy bunch of flowers. Each garland is attended by four children, two girls dressed in all their best, with white frocks, long sashes, and plenty of ribands, and each wearing a cap, tastefully ornamented with flowers, &c., who carry the garland supported betwixt them, by a stick passed through it, between the arches. These are followed by the lord and lady, a boy and girl, linked together by a white handkerchief, which they hold at either end, and [p.234] who are dressed as gaily as may be in ribands, sashes, rosettes, and flowers the 'lady' wearing a smart tasty cap, and carrying a large purse. They then go from house to house, and sing this simple verse to a very primitive tune:

'Gentlemen and ladies,
We wish you happy May;
We come to show you a garland,
Because it is May-day.'

"One of the bearers then asks, 'Please to handsel the lord and lady's purse;' and on some money being given, the 'lord' doffs his cap, and taking one of the 'lady's' hands in his right, and passing his left arm around her waist, kisses her; the money is then put in the purse, and they depart to repeat the same ceremony at the next house. In the village are upwards of a dozen of these garlands, with their 'lords and ladies,' which give to the place the most gay and animated appearance."

The May Garlands are thus alluded to in Fletcher's Poems, 12mo, Lond. 1656, p. 209.

"Heark, how Amyntas in melodious loud
Shrill raptures tunes his horn-pipe! whiles a crowd
Of snow-white milk-maids, crownd with garlands gay,
Trip it to the soft measure of his lay;
And fields with curds and cream like green-cheese lye;
This now or never is the Gallaxie.
If the facetious Gods ere taken were
With mortal beauties and disguis'd, 'tis here.
See how they mix societies, and tosse
The tumbling ball into a willing losse,
That th' twining Ladyes on their necks might take
The doubled kisses which they first did stake."]


Bourne, speaking of the 1st of May, tells us: "The after part of the day is chiefly spent in dancing round a tall pole, which is called a May Pole; which being placed in a convenient part of the village, stands there, as it were, consecrated to the Goddess of Flowers, without the least violation offer' d to it in the whole circle of the year." Stubbs, a puritanical writer, in his Anatomic of Abuses, says: "But their cheefest Jewell they [p.235] bring from thence [the woods] is their Male poole, whiche they bring home with greate veneration, as thus: They have twentie or fourtie yoke of oxen, every oxe havyng a sweete nosegaie of flowers tyed on the tippe of his homes, and these oxen drawe home this Maie poole (this stinckyng idoll rather), which is covered all over with flowers and hearbes, bounde rounde aboute with stringes, from the top to the bottome, and sometyme painted with variable colours, with twoo or three hundred men, women, and children followyng it with greate devotion. And thus beyng reared up, with handkerchiefes and flagges streamyng on the toppe, they strawe the grounde aboute, binde greene boughes about it, sett up sommer haules, bowers, and arbours, hard by it. And then fall they to banquet and feast, to leape and daunce aboute it, as the Heathen people did at the dedication of their idolles, whereof this is a perfect patterne, or rather the thyng itself."

[No essay on this subject can be considered complete without the curious old ballad in the Westminster Drollery, called the "Rural Dance about the May-pole, the tune the first figure dance at Mr. Young's ball, May 1671:"

"Come lasses and lads, take leave of your dads,
And away to the May-pole hie;
For every he has got him a she,
And the minstrel's standing by.
For Willy has gotten his Jill, and Johnny has got his Joan.
To jig it, jig it, jig it, jig it up and down.
Strike up, says Wat. Agreed, says Kate,
And, I prithee, fidler, play;
Content, says Hodge, and so says Madge,
For this is a holiday!
Then every man did put his hat off to his lass,
And every girl did curchy, curchy, curchy on the grass.
Begin, says Hall. Aye, aye, says Mall,
We'll lead ftp Packington's Pound:
No, no, says Noll. And so, says Doll,
We'll first have Sellenger's Round.
Then every man began to foot it round about,
And every girl did jet it, jet it, jet it in and out.
You're out, says Dick. 'Tis a lie, says Nick;
The fiddler played it false:
'Tis true, says Hugh; and so says Sue,
And so says nimble Alee.
The fiddler then began to play the tune again,
And every girl did trip it, trip it, trip it to the men."


"I shall never forget," says Washington Irving, "the delight I felt on first seeing a May-pole. It was on the banks of the Dee, close by the picturesque old bridge that stretches across the river from the quaint little city of Chester. I had already been carried back into former days by the antiquities of that venerable place, the examination of which is equal to turning over the pages of a black-letter volume, or gazing on the pictures in Froissart. The May-pole on the margin of that poetic stream completed the illusion. My fancy adorned it with wreaths of flowers, and peopled the green bank with all the dancing revelry of May-day. The mere sight of this May-pole gave aglow to my feelings, and spread a charm over the country for the rest of the day ; and as I traversed a part of the fair plain of Cheshire, and the beautiful borders of Wales, and looked from among swelling hills down a long green valley, through which 'the Deva wound its wizard stream,' my imagination turned all into a perfect Arcadia."]

In Vox Graculi, 1623, p. 62, speaking of May, the author says: "This day shall be erected long wooden idols, called May-poles; whereat many greasie churles shall murmure, that will not bestow so much as a faggot-sticke towards the warming of the poore: an humour that, while it seems to smell of conscience, savours indeed of nothing but covetousness." Stevenson, in the Twelve Moneths, 1661, p. 22, says, "The tall young oak is cut down for a May-pole, and the frolick fry of the town prevent the rising of the sun, and, with joy in their faces and boughs in their hands, they march before it to the place of erection." I find the following in A Pleasant Grove of New Fancies, 1657, p. 74:

"The Maypole is up,
Now give me the cup,
I'll drink to the garlands around it,
But first unto those
Whose hands did compose
The glory of flowers that crown'd it."139

In Northbrooke's Treatise, wherein Dicing, Dauncing, vaine Playes or Enterluds, with other idle Pastimes, &c., commonly used on the Sabbath-day, are reproved, 1577, p. 140, is the [p.237] following passage: "What adoe make our yong men at the time of May? Do they not use night-watchings to rob and steale yong trees out of other men's grounde, and bring them into their parishe, with minstrels playing before: and when they have set it up, they will decke it with floures and garlands, and daunce rounde (men and women togither, moste unseemely and intolerable, as I have proved before) about the tree, like unto the children of Israeli that daunced about the golden calfe that they had set up."

Owen, in his Welsh Dictionary, in v. Bedwen, a birch-tree, explains it also by "a May-pole, because it is always (he says) made of birch. It was customary to have games of various sorts round the bedwen; but the chief aim, and on which the fame of the village depended, was to preserve it from being stolen away, as parties from other places were continually on the watch for an opportunity, who, if successful, had their feats recorded in songs on the occasion."

Tollett, in the account of his painted window, printed in the Variorum Shakespeare, tells us, that the May-pole there represented "is painted yellow and black, in spiral lines." Spelman's Glossary mentions the custom of erecting a tall May-pole, painted with various colours: and Shakespeare, in A Midsummer Night's Dream, iii. 2, speaks of a painted Maypole. "Upon our pole," adds Tollett, "are displayed St. George's red cross, or the banner of England, and a white penon or streamer, emblazoned with a red cross, terminating like the blade of a sword, but the delineation thereof is much faded."140 Keysler, in p. 78 of his Northern and Celtic Antiquities, gives us, perhaps, the origin of May-poles; and that the French used to erect them appears also from Mezeray's History of their King Henry IV., and from a passage in Stow's Chronicle in the year 1560. Mr. Theobald and Dr. Warburton acquaint us that the May-games, and particularly some [p.238] of the characters in them, became exceptionable to the puritanical humour of former times. By an ordinance of the [Long] Parliament, in April, 1644, all May-poles were taken down, and removed by the constables, churchwardens, &c. After the Restoration they were permitted to be erected again.

By Charles I.'s warrant, dated Oct. 18, 1633, it was enacted, that, "for his good people's lawfull recreation, after the end of Divine Service, his good people be not disturbed, letted, or discouraged from any lawfull recreation; such as dancing, either men or women; archery for men, leaping, vaulting, or any other such harmless recreations: nor from having of May Games, Whitson Ales, and Morris Dances, and the setting up of May-poles, and other sports therewith used; so as the same be had in due and convenient time, without impediment or neglect of Divine Service. And that women shall have leave to carry rushes to the church for the decorating of it, according to their old custom. But withal his Majesty doth hereby account still as prohibited, all unlawful games to be used on Sundays only, as bear and bull-baitings, interludes, and, at all times, in the meaner sort of people by law prohibited, bowling." (Harris's Life of Charles I., p. 48.) The following were the words of the ordinance for their destruction, 1644: "And because the prophanation of the Lord's Day hath been heretofore greatly occasioned by Maypoles, (a heathenish vanity, generally abused to superstition and wickednesse,) the Lords and Commons do further order and ordain that all and singular May-poles, that are or shall be erected, shall be taken down and removed by the constables, borsholders, tything-men, petty constables, and churchwardens of the parishes, when the same shall be; and that no May-pole shall be hereafter set up, erected, or suffered to be within this kingdom of England, or dominion of Wales. The said officers to be fined five shillings weekly till the said May-pole be taken downe."

In Burton's Judgments upon Sabbath Breakers, a work written professedly against the Book of Sports, 1641, are some curious particulars illustrating May-games, p. 9, Example 16: "At Dartmouth, 1634, upon the coming forth and publishing of the Book of Sports, a company of yonkers, on May-day morning, before day, went into the country to fetch [p.239] home a May-pole with drumme and trumpet, whereat the neighbouring inhabitants were affrighted, supposing some enemies had landed to sack them. The pole being thus brought home, and set up, they began to drink healths about it, and to it, till they could not stand so steady as the pole did: whereupon the mayor and justice bound the ringleaders over to the sessions; whereupon these complaining to the Archbishop's Vicar-generall, then in his visitation, he prohibited the justices to proceed against them in regard of the King's Book. But the justices acquainted him they did it for their disorder in transgressing the bounds of the book. Hereupon these libertines, scorning at authority, one of them fell suddenly into a consumption, whereof he shortly after died. Now although this revelling was not on the Lord's Day, yet being upon any other day, and especially May-day, the May-pole set up thereon giving occasion to the prophanation of the Lord's Day the whole year after, it was sufficient to provoke God to send plagues and judgments among them." The greater part of the examples are levelled at summer-poles.

In Pasquil's Palinodia, a Poem, 1634, is preserved a curious description of May-poles:

"Fairely we marched on, till our approach
Within the spacious passage of the Strand,
Objected to our sight a summer-broach,
Ycleap'd a May-pole, which, in all our land,
No city, towne, nor streete, can parralell,
Nor can the lofty spire of darken-well,
Although we have the advantage of a rocke,
Pearch up more high his turning weathercock.
Stay, quoth my Muse, and here behold a signe
Of harmlesse mirth and honest neighbourhood,
Where all the parish did in one combine

To mount the rod of peace, and none withstood:
When no capritious constables disturb them,
Nor justice of the peace did seeke to curb them,
Nor peevish puritan, in rayling sort,
Nor over-wise church-warden, spoyl'd the sport.
Happy the age, and harmlesse were the dayes,
(For then true love and amity was found)
When every village did a May-pole raise,
And Whitson-ales and May-games did abound:


And all the lusty yonkers, in a rout,
With merry lasses daunc'd the rod about,
Then Friendship to their banquets bid the guests,
And poore men far'd the better for their feasts.

The lords of castles, mannors, townes, and towers,
Rejoic'd when they beheld the farmers flourish,
And would come downe unto the summer bowers
To see the country gallants dance the morrice.

But since the summer poles were overthrown,
And all good sports and merriment decay'd,
How times and men are changed, so well is knowne,
It were but labour lost if more were said.

Alas, poore May-poles! what should be the cause
That you were almost banish't from the earth?
Who never were rebellious to the lawes;
Your greatest crime was harmlesse honest mirth:
What fell malignant spirit was there found,
To cast your tall pyramides to ground?
To be some envious nature it appeares,
That men might fall together by the eares.

Some fiery, zealous brother, full of spleene,
That all the world in his deepe wisdom scornes,
Could not endure the May-pole should be seene
To weare a coxe-combe higher than his homes:

He took it for an idoll, and the feast
For sacrifice unto that painted beast;
Or for the wooden Trojan asse of sinne,
By which the wicked merry Greeks came in.
But I doe hope once more the day will come,
That you shall mount and pearch your cocks as high
As e'er you did, and that the pipe and drum

Shall bid defiance to your enemy;
And that all fidlers, which in comers lurke,
And have been almost starved for want of worke,
Shall draw their crowds, and at your exaltation,
Play many a fit of merry recreation.

And you, my native town (Leeds), which was of old,
Whenas thy bon-fires burn'd and May-poles stood,
And when thy wassail-cups were uncontrol'd
The summer bower of peace and neighbourhood;
Although since these went down, thou lyst forlorn,
By factious schismes and humours overborne,
Some able hand I hope thy rod will raise,
That thou mayst see once more thy happy daies."


Douce observes that, "during the reign of Elizabeth, the Puritans made considerable havoc among the May-games by their preachings and invectives. Poor Maid Marian was assimilated to the whore of Babylon; Friar Tuck was deemed a remnant of Popery; and the Hobby-horse as an impious and Pagan superstition: and they were at length most completely put to the rout, as the bitterest enemies of religion. King James's Book of Sports restored the Lady and the Hobby-horse: but during the Commonwealth, they were again attacked by a new set of fanatics; and, together with the whole of the May festivities, the Whitsun-ales, &c., in many parts of England, degraded." (Illustr. of Shakespeare, ii, 463.) In a curious tract, entitled the Lord's loud Call to England, published by H. Jessey, 1660, there is given part of a letter from one of the Puritan party in the North, dated Newcastle, 7th of May, 1660: "Sir, the countrey, as well as the town, abounds with vanities; now the reins of liberty and licentiousness are let loose: May-poles, and playes, and juglers, and all things else, now pass current. Sin now appears with a brazen face," &c.141

In Rich's Honestie of this Age, 1615, p. 5, is the following passage: "The country swaine, that will sweare more on Sundaies, dancing about a May-pole, then he will doe all the week after at his worke, will have a cast at me."

In Small Poems of divers Sorts, written by Sir Aston Cokain, 1658, p. 209, is the following, of Wakes and May-poles:

"The zealots here are grown so ignorant,
That they mistake wakes for some ancient saint,
They else would keep that feast ; for though they all
Would be cal'd saints here, none in heaven they call:
Besides they May-poles hate with all their soul,
I think, because a Cardinal was a Pole."


Stevenson, in the Twelve Moneths, p. 25, has these observations at the end of May:

"Why should the priest against the May-pole preach?
Alas! it is a thing 'out of his reach;
How he the errour of the time condoles,
And sayes, 'tis none of the caelestial poles;
Whilst he (fond man !) at May-poles thus perplext,
Forgets he makes a May-game of his text.
But May shall tryumph at a higher rate,
Having trees for poles, and boughs to celebrate;
And the green regiment, in brave array,
Like Kent's great walking grove, shall bring in May."

After the Restoration, as has been already noticed, May-poles were permitted to be erected again. Thomas Hall, however, another of the puritanical writers, published his Funebriae Florae, the Downfall of May Games, so late as 1660. At the end is a copy of verses,142 from which the subsequent selection has been made:

"I am Sir May-pole, that's my name;
Men, May, and Mirth give me the same.
And thus hath Flora, May, and Mirth,
Begun and cherished my birth,
Till time and means so favour'd mee,
That of a twig I waxt a tree:
Then all the people, less and more,
My height and tallness did adore,
under Heaven's cope,
There's none as I so near the Pope;
Whereof the Papists give to mee,
Next papal, second dignity.
Hath holy father much adoe
When he is chosen ? so have I too:
Doth he upon men's shoulders ride?
That honour doth to mee betide:
There is joy at my plantation,
As is at his coronation;
Men, women, children, on an heap,
Do sing, and dance, and frisk and leap;
Yea, drumms and drunkards, on a rout,
Before mee make a hideous shout;
Whose loud alarum and blowing cries,
Do fright the earth and pierce the skies.


Hath holy Pope his holy guard,
So have I to do it watch and ward.
For, where 'tis nois'd that I am come,
My followers summoned are by drum.
I have a mighty retinue,
The scum of all the raskall crew
Of fidlers, pedlers, jayle-scap't slaves,
Of tinkers, turn-coats, tospot-knaves,
Of theeves and scape-thrifts many a one,
With bouncing Besse, and jolly Jone,
With idle boyes, and journey-men,
And vagrants that their country run :
Yea, Hobby-horse doth hither prance,
Maid-Marrian and the Morrice-dance.
My .summons fetcheth, far and near,
All that can swagger, roar and swear,
All that can dance, and drab and drink,
They run to mee as to a sink.
These mee for their commander take,
And I do them my black-guard make.
I tell them 'tis a time to laugh,
To give themselves free leave to quaff,
To drink their healths upon their knee,
To mix their talk with ribaldry
Old crones, that scarce have tooth or eye,
But crooked back and lamed thigh,
Must have a frisk, and shake their heel,
As if no stitch nor ache they feel.
I bid the servant disobey,
The childe to say his parents nay.
The poorer sort, that have no coin,
I can command them to purloin.
All this, and more, I warrant good,
For 'tis to maintain neighbourhood.
The honour of the Sabbath-day
My dancing-greens have ta'en away
Let preachers prate till they grow wood:
Where I am they can do no good."

At page 10, he says: "The most of these May-poles are stollen, yet they give out that the poles are given them. There were two May-poles set up in my parish [King's Norton]; the one was stollen, and the other was given by a profest papist. That which was stolen was said to bee given, when 'twas proved to their faces that 'twas stollen, and they [p.244] were made to acknowledge their offence. This poll that was stollen was rated at five shillings: if all the poles one with another were so rated, which was stollen this May, what a considerable sum would it amount to! Fightings and blood-shed are usual at such meetings, insomuch that 'tis a common saying, that 'tis no festival unless there bee some fightings" "If Moses were angry," he says in another page, "when he saw the people dance about a golden calf, well may we be angry to see people dancing the morrice about a post in honour of a whore, as you shall see anon." "Had this rudeness," he adds, "been acted only in some ignorant and obscure parts of the land, I had been silent; but when I perceived that the complaints were general from all parts of the land, and that even in Cheapside itself the rude rabbl had set up this ensign of profaneness, and had put the lord-mayor to the trouble of seeing it pulled down, I could not, out of my dearest respects and tender compassion to the land of my nativity, and for the prevention of the like disorders (if possible) for the future, but put pen to paper, and discover the sinful rise, and vile profaneness that attend such misrule."

So, again, in Randolph's Poems, 1646,

"These teach that dancing is a Jezabel,
And Barley-Break the ready way to Hell;
The Morice idols, Whitsun-Ales, can be
But prophane reliques of a jubilee:
There is a zeal t' expresse how much they do
The organs hate, have silenc'd bagpipes too;
And harmless May-poles all are rail d upon,
As if they were the tow'rs of Babylon."

So in the Welsh Levite tossed in a Blanket, 1691: "I remember the blessed times, when every thing in the world that was displeasing and offensive to the brethren went under the name of horrid abominable Popish superstition. Organs and May-poles, Bishop's Courts and the Bear Garden, surplices and long hair, cathedrals and play-houses, set-forms and painted glass, fonts and Apostle spoons, church musick and bull-baiting, altar rails and rosemary on brawn, nay fiddles, Whitson ale, pig at Bartholomew Fair, plum porrige, puppet shows, carriers bells, figures in gingerbread, and at last Moses and Aaron, the Decalogue, the Creeds, and the Lord's Prayer, [p.245] A crown, a cross, an angel, and bishops head, could not be endured, so much as in a sign. Our garters, bellows, and warming pans wore godly mottos, our bandboxes were lined with wholesome instructions, and even our trunks with the Assembly-men's sayings. Ribbons were converted into Bible-strings. Nay, in our zeal we visited the gardens and apothecary's shops. Unguentum Apostolicum, Carduus benedictus, Angelica, St. John's Wort, and Our Ladies Thistle, were summoned before a class, and commanded to take new names. Weunsainted the Apostles."143

The author of the pamphlet entitled The Way to Things by Words, and Words by Things, in his specimen of an Etymological Vocabulary, considers the May-pole in a new and curious light. We gather from him that our ancestors held an anniversary assembly on May-day; and that the column of May (whence our May-pole) was the great standard of justice in the Ey-Commons or Fields of May.144 Here it was that the people, if they saw cause, deposed or punished their governors, their barons, and their kings. The judge's bough or wand (at this time discontinued, and only faintly represented by a trifling nosegay), and the staff or rod of authority in the civil and in the military (for it was the mace of civil power, and the truncheon of the field officers), are both derived from hence. A mayor, he says, received his name from this May, in the sense of lawful power; the crown, a mark of dignity and symbol of power, like the mace and sceptre, was also taken from the May, being representative of the garland or crown, which, when hung on the top of the May or pole, was the great signal for convening the [p.246] people; the arches of it, which spring from the circlet, and meet together at the mound or round bell, being necessarily so formed, to suspend it to the top of the pole. The word May-pole, he observes, is a pleonasm; in French it is called singly the Mai. He further tells us, that this is one of the most ancient customs, which from the remotest ages has been, by repetition from year to year, perpetuated down to our days, not being at this instant totally exploded, especially in the lower classes of life. It was considered as the boundary day that divided the confines of winter and summer, allusively to which there was instituted a sportful war between two parties; the one in defence of the continuance of winter, the other for bringing in the summer. The youth were divided into troops, the one in winter livery, the other in the gay habit of the spring. The mock battle was always fought booty; the spring was sure to obtain the victory, which they celebrated by carrying triumphantly green branches with May flowers, proclaiming and singing the song of joy, of which the burthen was in these or equivalent terms: "We have brought the summer home."

Keysler, says Mr. Borlase, thinks that the custom of the May-pole took its rise from the earnest desire of the people to see their king, who, seldom appearing at other times, made his procession at this time of year to the great assembly of the States held in the open air.

Sir Henry Piers, in his Description of Westmeath, in Ireland, 1682, says: "On May Eve, every family sets up before their door a green bush, strewed over with yellow flowers, which the meadows yield plentifully. In countries where timber is plentiful they erect tall slender trees, which stand high, and they continue almost the whole year; so as a stranger would go nigh to imagine that they were all signs of ale-sellers, and that all houses were ale-houses."

"A singular custom," says Ireland, in his Views of the Medway, "used to be annually observed on May Day by the boys of Frindsbury and the neighbouring town of Stroud. They met on Rochester bridge, where a skirmish ensued between them. This combat probably derived its origin from a drubbing received by the monks of Rochester in the reign of Edward I. These monks, on occasion of a long drought, set out on a procession for Frindsbury to pray for rain; but [p.247] the day proving windy, they apprehended the lights would be blown out, the banners tossed about, and their order much discomposed. They therefore requested of the Master of Stroud Hospital leave to pass through the orchard of his house, which he granted without the permission of his brethren; who, when they had heard what the Master had done, instantly hired a company of ribalds, armed with clubs and bats, who way-laid the poor monks in the orchard, and gave them a severe beating. The monks desisted from proceeding that way, but soon after found out a pious mode of revenge, by obliging the men of Frindsbury, with due humility, to come yearly on Whit Monday, with their clubs, in procession to Rochester, as a penance for their sins. Hence probably came the by-word of Frindsbury Clubs."

In the British Apollo, 1708, vol. i. No. 25, to one asking "whence is derived the custom of setting up May-poles, and dressing them with garlands; and what is the reason that the milk-maids dance before their customers' doors with their pails dressed up with plate?" it is answered: "It was a custom among the ancient Britons, before converted to Christianity, to erect these May-poles, adorned with flowers, in honour of the goddess Flora; and the dancing of the milk-maids may be only a corruption of that custom in complyance with the town."

"The Tears of Old May-Day.

"To her no more Augusta's wealthy pride
Pours the full tribute from Potosi's mine;
Nor fresh-blown garlands village-maids provide,
A purer offering at her rustic shrine.

No more the May-pole's verdant height around,
To valour's games th' ambitious youths advance;
No merry bells and tabor's sprightly sound
Wake the loud carol and the sportive dance."


THE Morris-dance, in which bells are gingled, or staves or swords clashed, was learned, says Dr. Johnson, by the Moors, and was probably a kind of Pyrrhic, or military dance. [p.248] "Morisco," says Blount, "(Span.) a Moor; also a dance, so called, wherein there were usually five men, and a boy dressed in a girl's habit, whom they called the Maid Marrion, or perhaps Morian, from the Italian Morione, a head-piece, because her head was wont to be gaily trimmed up. Common people call it a Morris-dance."

The Churchwardens' and Chamberlains' Books of Kingston-upon-Thames furnished Lysons with the following particulars illustrative of our subject, given in the Environs of London, i. 226 :

    s d
23 Hen. VII. To the menstorel upon May-day 0 0 4
" For pay n ting of the Mores garments, and for serten gret leveres145 0 2 4
" For paynting of a bannar for Robin-hode 0 0 3
" For 2 M. and pynnys 0 0 10
" For 4 plyts and of laun for the Mores garments 0 2 11
" For orseden [i.e. tinsel] for the same 0 0 10
" For a goun for the lady 0 0 8
" For belly s for the dawnsars 0 0 12
" 24 Hen. VII. For Little John's cote 0 8 0
1 Hen. VIII. For silver paper for the Mores dawnsars 0 0 7
" For Kendall, for Robyn-hode's cotes 0 1 3
" For 3 yerds of white for the frere's cote 0 3 0
" For 4 yerds of Kendall for Mayd Marian's huke146 0 3 4
" For saten of sypers for the same hukee 0 0 6
" For 2 payre of glovys for Robyn-hode and Mayde Maryan 0 0 3


I Hen. VIII. For 6 brode arouys 0 0 6
  To Mayde Marian, for her labour for two yeers 0 2 0
  To Fygge the taborer 0 6 0
  Rec d for Robyn-hood's gaderyng 4 marks147      
5 Hen. VIII. Rec d for Robin-hood's gaderyng at Croydon 0 9 4
II Hen. VIII. Paid for three brode yerds of rosett for makyng the frer's cote 0 3 6
  Shoes for the Mores daunsars, the frere, and Mayde Maryan, at 7d. a peyre 0 5 4
13 Hen. VIII. Eight yerds of fustyan for the Mores daunsars coats 0 16 0
  A dosen of gold skynnes148 for the Morres 0 0 10
15 Hen. VIII. Hire of hats for Robynhode 0 0 16
  Paid for the hat that was lost 0 0 10
16 Hen. VIII. Rec d at the Church-ale and Robyn-hode, all things deducted 3 10 6
  Payd for 6 yerds of satyn for Robyn-hode's cotys 0 12 6
  For makyng the same 0 2 0
  For 3 ells of locram149 3 0 16
21 Hen. VIII. For spunging and brushing Robyn-hode's cotys 0 0 2
28 Hen. VIII. Five hats and 4 porses for the daunsars 0 0 4
  4 yerds of cloth for the fole's cote 0 2 0
  2 ells of worstede for Maide Maryan's kyrtle 0 6 8
  For 6 payre of double sollyd showne 0 4 6
  To the mynstrele 0 10 8
  To the fryer and the piper for to go to Croydon 0 0 8

"29 Hen. VIII. Mem. lefte in the keping of the Wardens now beinge, a fryer's cote of russet, and a kyrtle of worsted weltyd with red cloth, a mowren's150 cote of buckram, and 4 Morres daunsars cotes of white fustain spangelyd, and two gryne saten cotes, and a dysardd's151 cote of cotton, and 6 payre of garters with bells." After this period, says Mr. Lysons, I find no entries relating to the above game.152 It [p.250] was so much in fashion in the reign of Henry VIII. that the king and his nobles would sometimes appear in disguise as Robin Hood and his men, dressed in Kendal, with hoods and hosen. See Holinshed's Chron. iii. 805.

In Coates's History of Reading, p. 130, Churchwardens' Accounts of St. Mary's parish, we have, in 1557,

  s d
Item, payed to the Mynstrels and the Hobby Horse uppon May Day 0 3 0
Item, payed to the Morrys Daunsers and the Mynstrelles, mete and drink at Whitsontide 0 3 4
Payed to them the Sonday after May Day 0 0 20
Pd to the Painter for painting of their cotes 0 0 28
Pd to the Painter for 2 dz. of Lyveryes 0 0 20

In the rare tract of the time of Queen Elizabeth, entitled Plaine Percevall the Peace-maker of England, mention is made of a "stranger, which, seeing a quintessence (beside the Foole and the Maid Marian) of all the picked youth, strained out of a whole endship, footing the Morris about a May-pole, and he not hearing the minstrelsie for the fidling, the tune for the sound, nor the pipe for the noise of the tabor, bluntly demaunded if they were not all beside themselves, that they so lip'd and skip'd without an occasion."

Shakespeare makes mention of an English Whitson Morrice-dance, in the following speech of the Dauphin in Henry V.:

"No, with no more, than if we heard that England
Were busied with a Whitson Morrice-dance."

"The English were famed," says Dr. Grey, "for these and such like diversions ; and even the old as well as young persons formerly followed them: a remarkable instance of which is given by Sir William Temple, (Miscellanea, Part 3, Essay of Health and Long Life,) who makes mention of a Morrice Dance in Herefordshire, from a noble person, who told him he had a pamphlet in his library, written by a very ingenious gentleman of that county, which gave an account how, in such a year of King James's reign, there went about the country a sett of Morrice-dancers, composed of ten men, who danced a Maid Marrian, and a tabor and pipe: and how these ten, one with another, made up twelve hundred years.


"'Tis not so much, says he, that so many in one county should live to that age, as that they should be in vigour and humour to travel and dance." (Notes on Shakspeare, i. 382.)

The following description of a Morris-dance occurs in a very rare old poem, entitled Cobbe's Prophecies, his Signes and Tokens, his Madrigalls, Questions and Answers, 1614:

"It was my hap of late, by chance,
To meet a country Morris-dance,
When, cheefest of them all, the Foole
Plaied with a ladle and a toole;
When every younker shak't his bels,
Till sweating feete gave fohing smels:
And fine Maide Marian with her smoile
Shew'd how a rascall plaid the roile:
But when the hobby-horse did winy,
Then all the wenches gave a tihy:
But when they gan to shake their boxe,
And not a goose could catch a foxe,
The piper then put up his pipes,
And all the woodcocks look't like snipes."

As is the following in Cotgrave's English Treasury of Wit and Language, 1655, p. 56:

"How they become the Morris, with whose bells
They ring all in to Whitson Ales, and sweat
Through twenty scarfs and napkins, till the hobby horse
Tire, and the Maid Marian, resolved to jelly,
Be kept for spoon-meat."

[Compare, also, the following curious song printed in Wits Recreations, 1640:

"With a noyse and a din,
Comes the Maurice-dancer in,
With a fine linnen shirt, but a buckram skin.
Oh ! he treads out such a peale
From his paire of legs of veale,
The quarters are idols to him,
Nor do those knaves inviron
Their toes with so much iron,
'Twill ruine a smith to shooe him.
I, and then he flings about,
His sweat and his clout,
The wiser think it two ells:
While the yeomen find it meet
That he jingle at his feet,
The fore-horses' right eare jewels."]


We have an allusion to the Morris-dancer in the preface to Mythomistes, a tract of the time of Charles I. "Yet such helpes, as if nature have not beforehand in his byrth, given a Poet, all such forced art will come behind as lame to the businesse, and deficient as the best taught countrey Morris-dauncer, with all his bells and napkins, will ill deserve to be, in an Inne of Courte at Christmas, tearmed the thing they call a fine reveller."

Stevenson, in the Twelve Months, 1661, p. 17, speaking of April, tells us: "The youth of the country make ready for the Morris-dance, and the merry milkmaid supplies them with ribbands her true love had given her." In Articles of Visitation and Inquiry for the Diocese of St. David, 1662, I find the following article: "Have no minstrels, no Morris-dancers, no dogs, hawks, or hounds, been suffered to be brought or come into your church, to the disturbance of the congregation?" Waldron, in his edition of the Sad Shepherd, 1783, p. 255, mentions seeing a company of Morrice-dancers from Abington, at Richmond, in Surrey, so late as the summer of 1783. They appeared to be making a kind of annual circuit. A few years ago, a May-game, or Morrice-dance, was performed by the following eight men in Herefordshire, whose ages, computed together, amounted to 800 years: J. Corley, aged 109; Thomas Buckley, 106; John Snow, 101; John Edey, 104; George Bailey, 106; Joseph Medbury, 100; John Medbury, 95; Joseph Pidgeon, 79.

Since these notes were collected, a Dissertation on the ancient English Morris Dance has appeared, from the pen of Mr. Douce, at the end of the second volume of his Illustrations of Shakespeare. Both English and foreign glossaries, he observes, uniformly ascribe the origin of this dance to the Moors: although the genuine Moorish or Morisco dance was, no doubt, very different from the European Morris. Strutt, in his Sports and Pastimes of the People of England, has cited a passage from the play of Variety, 1649, in which the Spanish Morisco is mentioned. And this, he adds, not only shows the legitimacy of the term Morris, but that the real and uncorrupted Moorish dance was to be found in Spain, where it still continues to delight both natives and foreigners, under the name of the Fandango. The Spanish Morrice was also danced at puppet-shows by a person habited like a Moor, with cas- [p.253] tagnets; and Junius has informed us that the Morris-dancers usually blackened their faces with soot, that they might the better pass for Moors.

Having noticed the corruption of the Pyrrhica Saltatio of the ancients, and the uncorrupted Morris-dance, as practised in France about the beginning of the thirteenth century, Douce says: "It has been supposed that the Morris-dance was first brought into England in the time of Edward the Third, when John of Gaunt returned from Spain (see Peck's Memoirs of Milton, p. 135), but it is much more probable that we had it from our Gallic neighbours, or even from the Flemings. Few, if any, vestiges of it can be traced beyond the time of Henry the Seventh, about which time, and particularly in that of Henry the Eighth, the churchwardens' accounts in several parishes afford materials that throw much light on the subject, and show that the Morris-dance made a very considerable figure in the parochial festivals. We find, also, that other festivals and ceremonies had their Morris; as, Holy Thursday; the Whitsun Ales; the Bride Ales, or Weddings; and a sort of play, or pageant, called the Lord of Misrule. Sheriffs, too, had their Morris-dance."

"The May-games of Robin Hood," it is observed, "appear to have been principally instituted for the encouragement of archery, and were generally accompanied by Morris-dancers, who, nevertheless, formed but a subordinate part of the ceremony. It is by no means clear that, at any time, Robin Hood and his companions were constituent characters in the Morris. In Laneham's Letter from Kenilworth, or Killingworth Castle, a Bride Ale is described, in which mention is made of 'a lively Moris dauns, according to the auncient manner: six dauncerz, Mawd-marion, and the fool.'"


In Pasquill and Marforius, 1589, we read of "the May-game of Martinisme, verie defflie set out, with pompes, pagents, motions, maskes, scutchions, emblems, impreases, strange trickes and devises, betweene the ape and the owle; the like was never yet seene in Paris Garden. Penry the Welchman is the foregallant of the Morrice with the treble belles, shot [p.254] through the wit with a woodcock's bill. I would not for the fayrest horrie-beast in all his countrey, that the Church of England were a cup of metheglin, and came in his way when he is overheated; every Bishopricke would procure but a draught, when the mazer is at his nose. Martin himselfe is the Mayd-Marian, trimlie drest uppe in a cast gowne, and a kercher of Dame Lawson's, his face handsomelie muffled with A diaper napkin to cover his beard, and a great nose-gay in his hande of the principalest flowers I could gather out of all hys works. Wiggenton daunces round about him in a cotten-
coate, to court him with a leatherne pudding and a wooden ladle. Faget marshalleth the way with a couple of great clubbes, one in his foote, another in his head, and he cries to the people, with a loude voice, 'Beware of the man whom God hath markt.' I cannot yet finde any so fitte to come lagging behind, with a budget on his necke to oat her the devotion of the lookers on, as the stocke-keeper of the Bridewelhouse of Canterburie; he must carry the purse to defray their charges, and then hee may be sure to serve himselfe."

[Maid Marian is alluded to in the following very curious lines in a MS. of the fifteenth century:

"At Ewle we wonten gambole, daunse, to carol, and to sing,
To have gud spiced sewe, and roste, and plum pie for a king;
4t Easter Eve, pampuffes; Gangtide-Gates did olie masses bring;
At Paske begun oure Morris, and ere Pentecoste oure May,
Tho' Roben Hood, liell John, Frier Tuck, and Mariam deftly play,
And lord and ladie gang 'till kirk with lads and lasses gay;
Fra masse and een songe sa gud cheere and glee on every green,
As save oure wakes 'twixt Eames and Sibbes, like gam was never scene.
At Baptis-day, with ale and cakes, bout bonfires neighbours stood;
At Martlemas wa turn'd a crabbe, thilk told of Roben Hood,
Till after long time myrke, when blest were windowes, dores, and lightes,
And pailes were fild, and harthes were swept, gainst fairie elves and sprites:
Rock and Plow-Monday gams sal gang with saint feasts and kirk sightes."]

Tollett, in his Description of the Morris Dancers upon his Window, thus describes the celebrated Maid Marian, who, as Queen of May, has a golden crown on her head, and in her left hand a red pink, as emblem of Summer. Her vesture was once fashionable in the highest degree. Margaret, the [p.255] eldest daughter of Henry VII., was married to James King of Scotland with the crown upon her head and her hair hanging down. Betwixt the crown and the hair was a very rich coif, hanging down behind the whole length of the body. This simple example sufficiently explains the dress of Marian's head. Her coif is purple, her surcoat blue, her cuffs white, the skirts of her robe yellow, the sleeves of a carnation colour, and her stomacher red, with a yellow lace in cross bars. In Shakespeare's play of Henry the Eighth, Anne Boleyn, at her coronation, is in her hair, or, as Holinshed says, her hair hanged down, but on her head she had a coif, with a circlet about it full of rich stones.153

In Greene's Quip for an upstart Courtier, 1620, f. 11, that effeminate-looking young man, we are told, used to act the part of Maid Marian, "to make the foole as faire, forsooth, as if he were to play Maid Marian in a May-game or a Morris-dance." In Shakerley Marmion's Antiquary, act iv., is the following passage: "A merry world the while, my boy and I, next Midsommer Ale, may serve for a fool, and he for Maid Marrian." Shakespeare, Hen. IV., Part I., act iii. sc. 3, speaks of Maid Marian in her degraded state. It appears by one of the extracts already given from Lysons's Environs of London, that in the reign of Henry VIII., at Kingston-upon-Thames, the character was performed by a woman who received a shilling each year for her trouble. In Braithwaite's Strappado for theDivell, 1615, p. 63, is the following passage:

"As for his bloud,
He says he can deriv't from Robin Hood
And his May-Marian, and I thinke he may,
For's mother plaid May-Marian t'other day."

Douce, however, considers the character of Marian as a dramatic fiction: "None of the materials," he observes, "that constitute the more authentic history of Robin Hood, prove the existence of such a character in the shape of his mistress. There is a pretty French pastoral drama of the eleventh or twelfth century, entitled Le Jeu de Berger et de la Bergere, [p.256] in which the principal characters are Robin and Marion, a shepherd and shepherdess. Warton thought that our English Marian might be illustrated from this composition; but Ritson is unwilling to assent to this opinion, on the ground that the French Robin and Marion are not the 'Robin and Marian of Sherwood.' Yet Warton probably meant no more than that the name of Marian had been suggested from the above drama, which was a great favourite among the common people in France, and performed much about the season at which the May-games were celebrated in England. The great intercourse between the countries might have been the means of importing this name amidst an infinite variety of other matters; and there is indeed no other mode of accounting for the introduction of a name which never occurs in the page of English history. The story of Robin Hood was, at a very early period, of a dramatic cast; and it was perfectly natural that a principal character should be transferred from one drama to another. It might be thought, likewise, that the English Robin deserved his Marian as well as the other. The circumstance of the French Marian being acted by a boy contributes to support the above opinion; the part of the English character having been personated, though not always, in like manner."

After the Morris degenerated into a piece of coarse buffoonery, and Maid Marian was personated by a clown, this once elegant Queen of May obtained the name of Malkin. To this Beaumont and Fletcher allude in Monsieur Thomas:

"Put on the shape of order and humanity,
Or you must marry Malkyn, the May lady."

Percy and Steevens agree in making Maid Marian the mistress of Robin Hood. It appears from the old play of the Downfall of Robert Earl of Huntingdon, 1601, that Maid Marian was originally a name assumed by Matilda, the daughter of Robert Lord Fitzwalter, while Robin Hood remained in a state of outlawry:

"Next 'tis agreed (if thereto shee agree)
That faire Matilda henceforth change her name;
And while it is the chance of Robin Hoode
To live in Sherewodde a poore outlaw's life,
She by Maid Marian's name be only call'd.
Mat. I am contented; reade on, little John:
Henceforth let me be nam'd Maide Marian."


This lady was poisoned by King John at Dunmow Priory, after he had made several fruitless attempts on her chastity. Drayton has written her legend.

["In this our spacious isle I think there is not one,
But he hath heard some talk of him [Hood] and Little John;
Of Tuck, the merry Friar, which many a sermon made
In praise of Robin Hood, his outlaws and their trade;
Of Robin's mistress dear, his loved Marian,
Was sovereign of the woods, chief lady of the game;
Her clothes tuck'd to the knee, and dainty braided hair,
With bow and quiver arm'd."
                    Drayton's Polyolbion, Song 26.

So also Warner, in Albion's England,

"Tho' Robin Hood, liell John, Frier Tucke,
And Marian deftly play;
And lord and ladie gang till kirke
With lads and lasses gay."]

Waldron, in his Description of the Isle of Man, (Works, p. 154,) tells us that the month of May is there every year ushered in with the following ceremony: "In almost all the great parishes, they choose from among the daughters of the most wealthy farmers a young maid for the Queen of May. She is drest in the gayest and best manner they can, and is attended by about twenty others, who are called maids of honour: she has also a young man who is her captain, and has under his command a good number of inferior officers. In opposition to her is the Queen of Winter, who is a man dressed in woman's clothes, with woollen hoods, furr tippets, and loaded with the warmest and heaviest habits one upon another: in the same manner are those who represent her attendants drest, nor is she without a captain and troop for her defence. Both being equipt as proper emblems of the beauty of the Spring, and the deformity of the Winter, they set forth from their respective quarters; the one preceded by violins and flutes, the other with the rough musick of the tongs and cleavers. Both companies march till they meet on a common, and then their trains engage in a mock battle. If the Queen of Winter's forces get the better, so far as to take the Queen of May prisoner, she is ransomed for as much as pays the expences of the day. After this ceremony, Winter and her company retire, and divert themselves in a barn, and [p.258] the others remain on the green, where, having danced a considerable time, they conclude the evening with a feast: the Queen at one table with her maids, the Captain with his troop at another. There are seldom less than fifty or sixty persons at each board, but not more than three knives."

Douce says, "It appears that the Lady of the May was sometimes carried in procession on men's shoulders; for Stephen Batman, speaking of the Pope and his ceremonies, states that he is carried on the backs of four deacons, ' after the manner of carying Whytepot Queenes in Western May Games.'" He adds, "There can be no doubt that the Queen of May is the legitimate representative of the Goddess Flora in the Roman Festival."

In the Gentleman's Magazine for Oct. 1793, p. 188, there is a curious anecdote of Dr. Geddes, the well-known translator of the Bible, who, it should seem, was fond of innocent festivities. He was seen in the summer of that year, "mounted on the poles behind the Queen of the May at Marsden Fair, in Oxfordshire."

[A very curious tract appeared in 1609, entitled, 'Old Meg of Herefordshire for a Maid Marian, and Hereford Towne for a Morris Dance, or twelve Morris dancers in Herefordshire of twelve hundred years old.' It gives us, however, very few particulars respecting the manner of conducting the morris, the humour of the author being chiefly occupied with the extreme age of the performers. "And howe doe you like this Morris dance of Herefordshire? Are they not brave olde youths? Have they not the right footing? the true tread? comely lifeting up of one legge, and active bestowing of the other? Kemp's morris to Norwich was no more to this than a galliard on the common stage at the end of an old dead comedie is to a caranto daunced on the ropes."]


Bishop Latimer, in his sixth sermon before King Edward VI., mentions Robin Hood's Day, kept by country people in memory of him. "I came once myself," says he, "to a place, riding a journey homeward from London, and sent word overnight into the town that I would preach there in the morning, because it was a holy-day, and I took my horse and my [p.259] company and went thither (I thought I should have found a great company in the church); when I came there, the church door was fast locked. I tarried there half an hour and more; at last the key was found, and one of the parish comes to me and says: 'This is a busy day with us, we cannot heare you; this is Robin Hoode's daye, the parish is gone abroad to gather for Robin Hoode.' I thought my rochet should have been regarded, though I were not: but it would not serve, but was fayne to give place to Robin Hoode's men."154

We read, in Skene's Regiam Majestatem, "Gif anie provest, baillie, counsel!, or communitie, chuse Robert Hude, litell John, Abbat of Unreason, Queens of Maii, the chusers sail tyne their friedome for five zeares; and sail bee punished at the King's will; and the accepter of sick ane office salbe banished furth of the realme." And under "pecuniall crimes," " all persons, quha a landwort, or within burgh, chuses Robert Hude, sail pay ten pounds, and sail be warded induring the King's pleasure."155

Douce thinks "the introduction of Robin Hood into the celebration of May, probably suggested the addition of a King or Lord of May."' The Summer King and Queen, or Lord and Lady of the May, however, are characters of very high antiquity. In the Synod at Worcester, A.D. 1240, can. 38, a strict command was given, "Ne intersint ludis inhonestis nee [p.260] sustineant ludos fieri de rege et regina, nee arietes levari, nee palestras publicas."156

Lysons, in his extracts from the Churchwardens' and Chamberlains' Accounts at Kingston-upon Thames, affords us some curious particulars of a sport called the "Kyngham," or Kinggame. "Be yt in mynd, that the 19 yere of King Harry the 7, at the geveng out of the Kynggam by Harry Bower and Harry Nycol, cherchewardens, amounted clerely to 64. 2s. 6d. of that same game.

  s d
"Mem. That the 27 day of Joun, a". 21 Kyng H. 7, that we, Adam Bakhous and Harry Nycol, hath made account for the Kenggam, that same tym don Wylm Kempe, Kenge, and Joan Whytebrede, quen, and all costs deducted 4 5 0
23 Hen. 7. Paid for whet and malt and vele and motton and pygges and ger and coks for the Kyngam 0 33 0
To the taberare 0 6 8
Totheleutare 0 2 0
1 Hen. 8. Paid out of the Churche-box at Walton Kyngham 0 3 6
Paid to Robert Neyle for goyng to Wyndesore for maister doctor's horse agaynes the Kyngham day 0 4 0
For bakyng the Kyngham brede 0 0 6
To a laborer for bering home of the geere after the Kyngham was don 0 1 0"

The contributions to the celebration of the same game, Lysons observes, in the neighbouring parishes, show that the Kyngham was not confined to Kingston. In another quotation from the same accounts, 24 Hen. VII., the "cost of the Kyngham and Robyn-hode" appears in one entry, viz.

  s d
"A kylderkin of 3 halfpennye bere and a kilderkin of sing-gyl bere 0 2 4
7 bushels of whete 0 6 3
2 bushels and of rye 0 1 8
3 shepe 0 5 0
A lamb 0 1 4
2 calvys 0 5 4
6 pygges 0 2 0
3 bushell of colys 0 0 3
The coks for their labour 0 1 11"


The clear profits, 15 Henry VIII. (the last time Lysons found it mentioned), amounted to 9 10s. 6d., a very considerable sum for that period.

In a comedy by Beaumont and Fletcher, entitled the Knight of the burning Pestle, 1613, Rafe, one of the characters, appears as Lord of the May:

"And, by the common-councell of my fellows in the Strand,
With gilded staff, and crossed skarfe, the May-Lord here I stand."

He adds:

"The Morrice rings while Hobby Horse doth foot it featously;"

and, addressing the group of citizens assembled around him, "from the top of Conduit-head," he says:

"And lift aloft your velvet heads, and, slipping of your gowne,
With bells on legs, and napkins cleane unto your shoulders tide,
With scarfs and garters ,as you please, and hey for our town cry'd:
March out and shew your willing minds by twenty and by twenty,
To Hogsdon or to Newington, where ale and cakes are plenty.
And let it nere be said for shame, that we, the youths of London,
Lay thrumming of our caps at home, and left our custome undone.
Up then, I say, both young and old, both man and maid, a Maying,
With drums and guns that bounce aloude, and merry taber playing."

In Sir David Dalrymple's extracts from the Book of the Universal Kirk, in the year 1576, Robin Hood is styled King of May.

[The following curious account is extracted from Stow's Survey of London, 1603, p. 98: "In the moneth of May, namely on May-day in the morning, every man, except impediment, would walke into the sweete meadowes and greene woods, there to rejoyce their spirites with the beauty and savour of sweete flowers, and with the harmony of birds, praysing God in their kind, and for example hereof, Edward Hall hath noted that K. Henry the Eight, as in the 3. of his raigne and divers other yeares, so namely in the seaventh of his raigne, on May-day in the morning, with Queene Katheren his wife, accompanied with many lords and ladies, rode a Maying from Greenwitch to the high ground of Shooters Hill, whereas they passed by the way, they espied a companie of tall yeomen cloathed all in greene, with greene whoodes, and with bowes and arrowes to the number of two hundred. One, being their chieftaine, was called Robin Hoode, who required the king and his companie to stay and see his men [p.262] shoote, whereunto the king graunting, Robin Hoode whistled, and all the 200 archers shot off, loosing all at once, and when he whistled againe, they likewise shot againe, their arrowes whistled by craft of the head, so that the noyse was straunge and loude, which greatly delighted the king, queene, and their companie. Moreover, this Robin Hoode desired the king and queene, with their retinue, to enter the greene wood, where, in harbours made of boughes and decked with flowers, they were set and served plentifully with venison and wine by Robin Hoode and his meynie, to their great contentment, and had other pageants and pastimes." This description has been already slightly alluded to.]


Tollett describes this character upon his window, as in the full clerical tonsure, with a chaplet of white and red beads in his right hand: and, expressive of his professed humility, his eyes are cast upon the ground. His corded girdle and his russet habit denote him to be of the Franciscan Order, or one of the Grey Friars. His stockings are red; his red girdle is ornamented with a golden twist, and with a golden tassel. At his girdle hangs a wallet for the reception of provision, the only revenue of the mendicant orders of religious, who were named Walleteers, or Budget-bearers. Steevens supposes this Morris Friar designed for Friar Tuck, chaplain to Robin Hood, as King of May. He is mentioned by Drayton, in lines already quoted at p. 257.

He is known to have formed one of the characters in the May-games during the reign of Henry the Eighth, and had been probably introduced into them at a much earlier period. From the occurrence of this name on other occasions, there is good reason for supposing that it was a sort of generic appellation for any friar, and that it originated from the dress of the order, which was tucked or folded at the waist by means of a cord or girdle. Thus Chaucer, in his Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, says of the Reve:

"Tucked he was, as is a frere aboute:"

and he describes one of the friars in the Sompnour's Tale:

"With scrippe and tipped staff, y-tucked hie."

This Friar maintained his situation in the Morris under the [p.263] reign of Elizabeth, being thus mentioned in Warner's Albion's England:

Tho' Robin Hood, litell John, frier Tucke, and Marian, deftly play: but is not heard of afterwards. In Ben Jonson's Masque of Gipsies, the clown takes notice of his omission in the dance:

"There is no Maid Marian nor Friar amongst them, which is a surer mark."

The Friar's coat, as appears from some of the extracts of Churchwardens' and Chamberlains' Accounts of Kingston, already quoted, was generally of russet. In an ancient drama, called the Play of Robin Hood, very proper to be played in May-games, a friar, whose name is Tuck, is one of the principal characters. He comes to the forest in search of Robin Hood, with an intention to fight him, but consents to become chaplain to his lady.


Tollett, describing the Morris-dancers in his window, calls this the counterfeit Fool, that was kept in the royal palace, and in all great houses, to make sport for the family. He appears with all the badges of his office; the bauble in his hand, and a coxcomb hood, with asses' ears, on his head. The top of the hood rises into the form of a cock's neck and head, with a bell at the latter: and Minshew's Dictionary, 1627, under the word Cock's-comb, observes, that "natural idiots and fools have [accustomed] and still do accustome themselves to weare in their cappes cocke's feathers, or a hat with the necke and head of a cocke on the top, and a bell thereon." His hood is blue, guarded or edged with yellow at its scalloped bottom; his doublet is red, striped across, or rayed, with a deeper red, and edged with yellow; his girdle yellow; his left-side hose yellow, with a red shoe; and his right-side hose blue, soled with red leather.157

In the Churchwardens' Accounts of the parish of St. Helen's, [p.264] in Abingdon, Berkshire, from Phil. & Mar., to 34 Eliz., the Morrice bells are mentioned: 1560, "For two dossin of Morres bells." As these appear to have been purchased by the community, we may suppose the diversion of the Morris-dance was constantly practised at their public festivals. "Bells for the dancers" have been already noticed in the Churchwardens' Accounts of Kingston-upon-Thames: and they are mentioned in those of St. Mary-at-Hill, in the city of London.

Morrice-dancing, with bells on the legs, was common in Oxfordshire, and the adjacent counties, on May-day, Holy Thursday, and Whitsun Ales, attended by the Fool, or, as he was generally called, the Squire, and also a lord and lady; the latter, most probably, the Maid Marian mentioned in Mr. Tollett's note: nor was the Hobby-horse forgot. The custom is by no means obsolete.

In the Knave of Hearts we read,

"My sleeves are like some Morris-dansing fello,
My stockings, ideot-like, red, greene, yellow."

Steevens observes: "When fools were kept for diversion in great families, they were distinguished by a calf-skin coat, which had the buttons down the back; and this they wore that they might be known for fools, and escape the resentment of those whom they provoked with their waggeries. The custom is still preserved in Ireland; and the Fool, in any of the legends which the mummers act at Christmas, always appears in a calf's or cow's skin."

"The properties belonging to this strange personage," says Strutt, "in the early times, are little known at present ; they were such, however, as recommended him to the notice of his superiors, and rendered his presence a sort of requisite in the houses of the opulent. According to the illuminators of the thirteenth century, he bears the squalid appearance of a wretched idiot, wrapped in a blanket which scarcely covers his nakedness, holding in one hand a stick, with an inflated bladder attached to it by a cord, which answered the purpose of a bauble. If we view him in his more improved state, where his clothing is something better, yet his tricks158 are so [p.265] exceedingly barbarous and vulgar, that they would disgrace the most despicable Jack-pudding that ever exhibited at Bartholomew Fair: and even when he was more perfectly equipped in his party-coloured coat and hood, and completely decorated with bells,159 his improvements are of such a nature as seem to add but little to his respectability, much less qualify him as a companion for kings and noblemen. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the fool, or more properly the jester, was a man of some ability; and, if his character has been strictly drawn by Shakespeare and other dramatic writers, the entertainment he afforded consisted in witty retorts and sarcastical reflections; and his licence seems, upon such occasions, to have been very extensive. Sometimes, however, these gentlemen overpassed the appointed limits, and they were, therefore, corrected or discharged. The latter misfortune happened to Archibald Armstrong, jester to King Charles the First. The wag happened to pass a severe jest upon Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, which so highly offended the supercilious prelate, that he procured an order from the King in council for his discharge."160



These appear to have been Robin Hood's companions, from the following old ballad:

"I have heard talk of Robin Hood,
Deny, Derry, Deny down,
And of brave Little John,
Of Friar Tuck and Will Scarlet,
Stokesky and Maid Marrian,
Hey down," &c.

Among the extracts given by Lysons, from the Churchwardens' and Chamberlains' Accounts of Kingston-upon-Thames, an entry has been already quoted "for Little John's cote." Douce says, Little John "is first mentioned, together with Robin Hood, by Fordun, the Scottish historian, who wrote in the fourteenth century (Scotichron. ii. 104), and who speaks of the celebration of the story of these persons in the theatrical performances of his time, and of the minstrels' songs relating to them, which he says the common people preferred to all other romances."


Among the extracts already quoted in a note from Lysons's Environs of London, there is one entry which shows that the Piper was sent (probably to make collections) round the country. Tollett, in the description of his window, says, to prove No. 9 to be Tom the Piper, Steevens has very happily quoted these lines from Drayton's third Eclogue:

"Myself above Tom Piper to advance,
Who so bestirs him in the Morris-dance,
For penny wage."

His tabour, tabour-stick, and pipe attest his profession; the feather in his cap, his sword, and silver-tinctured shield161 may denote him to be a squire-minstrel, or a minstrel of the superior order. Chaucer, 1721, p. 181, says: "Minstrels [p.267] used a red hat." Tom Piper's bonnet is red, faced or turned up with yellow, his doublet blue, the sleeves blue, turned up with yellow, something like red muffetees at his wrists; over his doublet is a red garment, like a short cloak with arm-holes, and with a yellow cape; his hose red, and garnished across and perpendicularly on the thighs with a narrow yellow lace. His shoes are brown.


Tollett, in his description of the Morris-dancers in his window, is induced to think the famous Hobby-horse to be the King of the May, though he now appears as a juggler and a buffoon, from the crimson foot-cloth,162 fretted with gold, the golden bit, the purple bridle, with a golden tassel, and studded with gold, the man's purple mantle with a golden border, which is latticed with purple, his golden crown, purple cap, with a red feather and with a golden knop. "Our Hobby," he adds, "is a spirited horse of pasteboard, in which the master dances and displays tricks of legerdemain, such as the threading of the needle, the mimicking of the whigh-hie, and the daggers in the nose, &c., as Ben Jonson acquaints us, and thereby explains the swords in the man's cheeks. What is stuck in the horse's mouth I apprehend to be a ladle, ornamented with a ribbon. Its use was to receive the spectators' pecuniary donations. The colour of the Hobby-horse is reddish-white, like the beautiful blossom of the peach-tree. The man's coat, or doublet, is the only one upon the window that has buttons upon it; and the right side of it is yellow, and the left red."

In the old play of the Vow-Breaker, or the Fayre Maid of Clifton, 1636, by William Sampson, is the following dialogue between Miles, the Miller of Ruddington, and Ball, which throws great light upon this now obsolete character:


"Ball. But who shall play the Hobby-horse? Master Major?

"Miles. I hope I looke as like a Hobby-horse as Master Major. I have not liv'd to these yeares, but a man woo'd thinke I should be old enough and wise enough to play the Hobby-horse as well as ever a Major on 'em all. Let the Major play the Hobby-horse among his brethren, an he will; I hope our towne ladds cannot want a Hobby-horse. Have I practic'd my reines, my carree'res, my pranckers, my ambles, my false trotts, my smooth ambles, and Canterbury paces, and shall Master Major put me besides the Hobby-horse? Have I borrowed the fore horse-bells, his plumes, and braveries, nay, had his mane newshorne and frizl'd, and shall the Major put me besides the Hobby-horse? Let him hobby-horse at home, and he will. Am I not going to buy ribbons and toyes of sweet Ursula for the Marian, and shall I not play the Hobby-horse?

"Ball. What shall Joshua doe?

"Miles. Not know of it, by any meanes; hee'l keepe more stir with the Hobby-horse then he did with the Pipers at Tedbury Bull-running: provide thou for the Dragon, and leave me for a Hobby-horse.

"Ball. Feare not, I'le be a fiery Dragon." And afterwards, when Boote askes him: "Miles, the Miller of Ruddington, gentleman and souldier, what make you here?"

"Miles. Alas, sir, to borrow a few ribbandes, bracelets, eare-rings, wyer-tyers, and silke girdles and hand-kerchers for a Morice, and a show before the Queene.

"Boote. Miles, you came to steale my neece.

"Miles. Oh Lord! Sir, I came to furnish the Hobby-horse.

"Boote. Get into your Hobby-horse gallop, and be gon then, or I'le Moris-dance you Mistris, waite you on me. [Exit.

"Ursula. Farewell, good Hobby-horse. Weehee. [Exit."

Douce informs us, that the earliest vestige now remaining of the Hobby-horse is in the painted window at Betley, already described. The allusions to the omission of the Hobby-horse are frequent in the old plays; and the line,

For O, for O, the Hobby-horse is forgot.

is termed by Hamlet an epitaph, which Theobald supposed, with great probability, to have been satirical.


[Compare also Ben Jonson,

["But see, the Hobby-horse is forgot.
Fool, it must be your lot
To supply his want with faces,
And some other buffon graces."]

A scene in Beaumont and Fletcher's Women Pleased, act iv., best shows the sentiments of the Puritans on this occasion.

[The following lines occur in a poem on London, in MS. Harl. 3910.

"In Fleet strete then I heard a shoote:
I putt off my hatt, and I made no staye,
And when I came unto the rowte,
Good Lord ! I heard a taber playe,

For so, God save mee! a Morrys-daunce:
Oh ! ther was sport alone for mee,
To see the Hobby-horse how he did praunce
Among the gingling company.

I proffer'd them money for their coats,
But my conscience had remorse,
For my father had no oates,
And I must have had the Robbie-horse."]

"Whoever," says Douce, "happens to recollect the manner in which Bayes's troops, in the Rehearsal, are exhibited on the stage, will have a tolerably correct notion of a Morris Hobby-horse. Additional remains of the Pyrrhic, or sword-dance, are preserved in the daggers stuck in the man's cheeks, which constituted one of the hocus-pocus or legerdemain tricks practised by this character, among which were the threading of a needle, and the transferring of an egg from one hand to the other, called by Ben Jonson, in his Every Man out of his Humour, the travels of the egg. To the horse's mouth was suspended a ladle, for the purpose of gathering money from the spectators. In later times the fool appears to have performed this office, as may be collected from Nashe's play of Summer's last Will and Testament, where this stage-direction occurs: Ver goes in and fetcheth out the Hobby- [p.270] horse and the Morrice-daunce, who daunce about.' Ver then says: 'About, about, lively, put your horse to it, reyne him harder, jerke him with your wand, sit fast, sit fast, man: Foole, hold up your ladle there.' Will Summers is made to say, 'You friend with the Hobby-horse, goe not too fast, for fear of wearing out my lord's tyle-stones with your hob-nayles.' Afterwards there enter three clowns and three maids, who dance the Morris, and at the same time sing the following song:

'Trip and goe, heave and hoe,
Up and downe, to and fro,
From the towne to the grove
Two and two, let us rove,
A Maying, a playing;
Love hath no gainsaying:
So merrily trip and goe.'"

Lord Orford, in his Catalogue of English Engravers, under the article of Peter Stent, has described two paintings at Lord Fitzwilliam's, on Richmond Green, which came out of the old neighbouring palace. They were executed by Vinckenboom, about the end of the reign of James I., and exhibit views of the above palace: in one of these pictures a Morris-dance is introduced, consisting of seven figures, viz. "a fool, a Hobby-horse, a piper, a Maid Marian, and three other dancers, the rest of the figures being spectators." Of these, the first four and one of the dancers, Douce has reduced in a plate from a tracing made by the late Captain Grose. The fool has an inflated bladder, or eel-skin, with a ladle at the end of it, and with this he is collecting money. The piper is pretty much in his original state; but the Hobby-horse wants the legerdemain apparatus, and Maid Marian is not remarkable for the elegance of her person.

A short time before the revolution in France, the May-games and Morris-dance were celebrated in many parts of that country, accompanied by a fool and a Hobby-horse. The latter was termed un chevalet; and, if the authority of Minshew be not questionable, the Spaniards had the same character under the name of tarasca.163



[A CURIOUS volume of sermons, printed in 1652, is entitled, 'The Christian Sodality, or Catholic Hive of Bees sucking the honey of the Church's prayers from the blossoms of the Word of God, blown out of the Epistles and Gospels of the divine service throughout the year. Collected by the puny bee of all the hive, not worthy to be named otherwise than by these elements of his name, F. P.' The author, in his sermon for White or Low Sunday, the first Sunday after Easter, thus writes: "This day is called White or Low Sunday, because, in the primitive Church, those neophytes that on Easter-Eve were baptised and clad in white garments did to-day put them off, with this admonition, that they were to keep within them a perpetual candour of spirit, signified by the Agnus Dei164 hung about their necks, which, falling down upon their breasts, put them in mind what innocent lambs they must be, now that, of sinful, high, and haughty men, they were, by baptism, made low and little children of Almighty God, such as ought to retain in their manners and lives the Paschal feasts which they had accomplished." Other
writers have supposed that it was called Low Sunday because it is the lowest or latest day that is allowed for satisfying of the Easter obligation, viz. the worthily receiving the blessed Eucharist. The former, however, appears the most probable reason for the designation of Low Sunday, and may be more correct and better founded than other speculations which were advanced. For certainly, in ancient Teutonic, lowe signifies a flame, and to lowe signifies to burst into flame or light. It may be, too, that in England the Sunday in question was never actually called White, but Low Sunday. The author, however, of the Christian Sodality, says, "it is called White Sunday, or Low Sunday." If so, the designation white, as Dominica in albis, was naturally traceable to the fact of the neophytes that day putting off the white garments which they received at their baptism on Holy Saturday; and [p.272] the epithet low, alluded to the newness of life, which neophytes were exhorted to cultivate: they had been proud and haughty: now they must be low, little, humble, mortified, &c. Another name for the Sunday in question is Quasimodo Sunday, from the first word in Latin opening the introit of the mass "Like new-born infants" &c. The Greek church also designates it the new (Gr.) Sunday, in allusion to the newness of life preached to the neophytes. These facts are noticed as tending to show that a prevailing thought, which may have been generative of the appellation of the Sunday, was the newness of life then preached. Hence Low Sunday. You were, neophytes, high and proud; you must now be low and humble. Literary Gazette.']

MAY 25

UNDER St. Paul's Day, I have shown that it is customary in many parts of Germany to drag the image of St. Urban to the river, if on the day of his feast it happens to be foul weather. Aubanus tells us, that "upon St. Urban's Day all the vintners and masters of vineyards set a table either in the market-steed, or in some other open and public place, and covering it with fine napery, and strewing upon it greene leaves and sweete flowers, do place upon the table the image of that holy bishop, and then if the day be cleare and faire, they crown the image with greate store of wine; but if the weather prove rugged and rainie, they cast filth, mire, and puddle-water upon it; persuading themselves that, if that day be faire and calm, their grapes, which then begin to flourish, will prove good that year; but if it be stormie and tempestuous, they shall have a bad vintage." (p. 282.) The same anecdote is related in the Regnum Papisticum of Naogeorgus.



ON the 29th of May, the anniversary of the Restoration of Charles II., it is still customary, especially in the North of England, for the common people to wear in their hats the leaves of the oak, which are sometimes covered on the occasion with leaf-gold. This is done, as everybody knows, in commemoration of the marvellous escape of that monarch from those that were in pursuit of him, who passed under the very oak-tree in which he had secreted himself after the decisive battle of Worcester.

"May the 29th," says the author of the Festa Anglo-Romana, "is celebrated upon a double account; first, in commemoration of the birth of our sovereign king Charles the Second, the princely son of his royal father Charles the First of happy memory, and Mary the daughter of Henry the Fourth, the French king, who was born the 29th day of May, 1630; and also, by Act of Parliament, 12 Car. II., by the passionate desires of the people, in memory of his most happy Restoration to his crown and dignity, after twelve years forced exile from his undoubted right, the crown of England, by barbarous rebels and regicides. And on the 8th of this month his Majesty was with universal joy and great acclamations proclaimed in London and Westminster, and after throughout all his dominions. The 16th he came to the Hague; the 23rd, with his two brothers, embarqued for England; and on the 25th he happily landed at Dover, being received by General Monk and some of the army; from whence he was, by several voluntary troops of the nobility and gentry, waited upon to Canterbury; and on the 29th, 1660, he made his magnificent entrance into that emporium of Europe, his stately and rich metropolis, the renowned City of London. On this very day also, 1662, the king came to Hampton Court with his queen Catherine, after his marriage at Portsmouth. This, as it is his birth-day, is one of his collar-days, without offering."

"It was the custom, some years back, to decorate the monument of Richard Penderell (in the church-yard of St. Giles in the Fields, London), on the 29th of May, with oak-branches; but, in proportion to the decay of popularity in [p.274] kings, this practice has declined." (Caulfield's Memoirs of Remarkable Persons, p. 186.) Had Caulfield attributed the decline of this custom to the increasing distance of time from the event that first gave rise to it, he would perhaps have come much nearer to the truth. [It is to this day the practice to decorate the statue of Charles I. at Charing Cross with oak-leaves on this anniversary.]

I remember the boys at Newcastle-upon-Tyne had formerly a taunting rhyme on this occasion, with which they used to insult such persons as they met on this day who had not oak-leaves in their hats:

"Royal Oak,
The Whigs to provoke."

There was a retort courteous by others, who contemptuously wore plane-tree leaves, which is of the same homely sort of stuff:

"Plane-tree leaves;
The Church-folk are thieves."

Puerile and low as these and such-like sarcasms may appear, yet they breathe strongly that party spirit which they were intended to promote, and which it is the duty of every good citizen and real lover of his country to endeavour to suppress. The party spirit on this occasion showed itself very early: for in the curious tract entitled the Lord's loud Call to England, published by H. Jessey, 1660, p. 29, we read of the following judgment, as related by the Puritans, on an old woman for her loyalty: "An antient poor woman went from Wapping to London to buy flowers, about the 6th or 7th of May, 1660, to make garlands for the day of the king's proclamation (that is, May 8th), to gather the youths together to dance for the garland; and when she had bought the flowers, and was going homewards, a cart went over part of her body, and bruised her for it, just before the doors of such as she might vex thereby. But since she remains in a great deal of miserie by the bruise she had gotten, and cried out, the devil! saying, the devil had owned her a shame, and now thus he had paid her. It's judged at the writing hereof that she will never overgrow it."

I find a note too in my MS. collections, but forget the authority, to the following effect: "Two soldiers were whipped [p.275] almost to death, and turned out of the service, for wearing boughs in their hats on the 29th of May, 1716."

The Royal Oak was standing in Dr. Stukeley's time, indosed with a brick wall, but almost cut away in the middle by travellers whose curiosity led them to see it. The king, after the Restoration, reviewing the place, carried some of the acorns, and set them in St. James's Park or Garden, and used to water them himself. "A bow-shoot from Boscobel-house," says Dr. Stukeley (Itinerarium Curiosum, 1724, iii. p. 57), "just by a horse-track passing through the wood, stood the Royal Oak, into which the king and his companion, Colonel Carlos, climbed by means of the hen-roost ladder, when they iudg'd it no longer safe to stay in the house; the family reaching them victuals with the nuthook. The tree is now enclosed in with a brick wall, the inside whereof is covered with lawrel, of which we may say, as Ovid did of that before the Augustan palace, 'mediamque tuebere quercum.' Close by its side grows a young thriving plant from one of its acorns. Over the door of the inclosure, I took this inscription in marble: "Felicissimam arborem quam in asylum potentissimi Regis Caroli II. Deus O. M. per quern reges regnant hie crescere voluit, tarn in perpetuam rei tantee memoriam, quam specimen firmse in reges fidei, muro cinctam posteris commendant Basilius et Jana Fitzherbert. Quercus arnica Jovi.'"

In Carolina, or Loyal Poems, by Thomas Shipman, 1683, p. 53, are the following thoughts on this subject:

"Blest Charles then to an oak his safety owes;
The Royal Oak ! which now in songs shall live,
Until it reach to Heaven with its boughs;
Boughs that for loyalty shall garlands give.

"Let celebrated wits, with laurels crown'd,
And wreaths of bays, boast their triumphant brows;
I will esteem myself far more renown'd
In being honoured with these oaken boughs.

"The Genii of the Druids hover'd here,
Who under oaks did Britain's glories sing;
Which, since, in Charles compleated did appear,
They gladly came now to protect their king."

[At Tiverton, Devon, on the 29th of May, it is customary for a number of young men, dressed in the style of the seven- [p.276] teenth century, and armed with swords, to parade the streets, and gather contributions from the inhabitants. At the head of the procession walks a man called Oliver, dressed in black, with his face and hands smeared over with soot and grease, and his body bound by a strong cord, the end of which is held by one of the men to prevent his running too far. After these come another troop, dressed in the same style, each man bearing a large branch of oak; four others, carrying a kind of throne made of oaken boughs, on which a child is seated, bring up the rear. A great deal of merriment is excited among the boys at the pranks of Master Oliver, who capers about in a most ludicrous manner. Some of them amuse themselves by casting dirt, whilst others, more mischievously inclined, throw stones at him. But woe betide the young urchin who is caught! His face assumes a most awful appearance from the soot and grease with which Oliver begrimes it, whilst his companions, who have been lucky enough to escape his clutches, testify their pleasure by loud shouts and acclamations. In the evening the whole party have a feast, the expenses of which are defrayed by the collection made in the morning. This custom is probably as old as 1660.]


FOR, the church-ale, says Carew, in his Survey of Cornwall, p. 68, "two young men of the parish are yerely chosen by their last foregoers to be wardens, who, dividing the task, make collection among the parishioners of whatsoever provision it pleaseth them voluntarily to bestow. This they employ in brewing, baking, and other acates,165 against Whitsontide; upon which holydays the neighbours meet at the church-house, and there merily feed on their owne victuals, contributing some petty portion to the stock, which, by many smalls, groweth a meetly greatness: for there is entertayned a kind of emulation between these wardens, who, by his graciousness in gathering, and good husbandry in expending, can best advance the churches profit. Besides, the neighbour parishes at those times lovingly visit each one another, [p.277] and this way frankly spend their money together. The afternoones are consumed in such exercises as olde and yong folke (having leisure) doe accustomably weare out the time withall. When the feast is ended, the wardens yeeld in their account to the parishioners; and such money as exceedeth the disbursement is layd up in store, to defray any extraordinary charges arising in the parish, or imposed on them for the good of the countrey, or the prince's service: neither of which commonly gripe so much, but that somewhat stil remayneth to cover the purse's bottom."

The Whitsun-ales have been already mentioned as common in the vicinity of Oxford. There lies before me, 'A serious dissuasive against Whitsun Ales, as they are commonly so called: or the public diversions and entertainments which are usual in the country at Whitsuntide. In a Letter from a Minister to his Parishioners, in the Deanery of Stow, Gloucestershire,' 4to, 1736. At page 8 we read: "These sports are attended usually with ludicrous gestures, and acts of foolery and buffoonery but children's play, and what therefore grown-up persons should be ashamed of. Morris-dances, so called are nothing else but reliques of paganism. It was actually the manner of the heathens, among other their diversions, to dance after an antick way in their sacrifices and worship paid to their gods; as is the fashion of those who now-a-days dance round about their idol the Maypole, as they call it. Hence the ancient fathers of the Christian church, as they did rightly judge it to be sinful to observe any reliques of paganism, so they did accordingly, among other practices of the heathens, renounce Morris-dances." Our author adds in the Postscript: "What I have now been desiring you to consider, as touching the evil and pernicious consequences of Whitsun-Ales among us, doth also obtain against Dovers Meeting, and other the noted places of publick resort of this nature in this country; and also against Midsummer Ales and Mead-mowings; and likewise against the ordinary violations of those festival seasons, commonly called Wakes. And these latter, in particular, have been oftentimes the occasion of the profanation of the Lord's Day, by the bodily exercise of wrestling and cudgel-playing, where they have been suffered to be practised on that holy day."

In Coates's History of Reading, 1802, p. 130, under Church- [p.278] wardens' Accounts, St. Mary's parish, we find the following:

"1557. Item, payed to the Morrys Daunsers and the Myristrelles, mete and drink at Whytsontide, iijs. iiijd." Also, p. 216, Parish of St. Laurence, 1502, "It. payed to Will'm Stayn' for makyng up of the mayden's baner cloth, viijd. 1504. It. payed for bred and ale spent to the use of the church at Whitsontyd, ijs. vjd. ob. It. for wyne at the same tyme, xiiid. 1505. It. rec. of the mayden's gaderyng at Whitsontyde by the tre at the church dore, clerly ijs. vjd. It. rec. of Richard Waren, for the tre at the church dore, iijd." Ibid. p. 378, Parish of St. Giles, 1535, "Of the Kyng play at Whitsuntide, xxxvjs. viijd." This last entry probably alludes to something of the same kind with the Kyngham, already mentioned in p. 260. In p. 214 of Coates's History, parish of St. Laurence, we read: "1499. It. payed for horse mete to the horses for the kyngs of Colen on May-day, vjd." A note adds: "This was a part of the pageant called the King-play, or King-game, which was a representation of the Wise Men's Offering, who are supposed by the Romish church to have been kings, and to have been interred at Cologne." Then follows: "It. payed to mynstrells the same day, xijd."

In Sir Richard Worsley's History of the Isle of Wight, p. 210, speaking of the parish of Whitwell, he tells us, that there is a lease in the parish chest, dated 1574, "of a house called the church house, held by the inhabitants of Whitwell, parishioners of Gatcombe, of the Lord of the manor, and demised by them to John Brode, in which is the following proviso: Provided always, that, if the Quarter shall need at any time to make a Quarter-Ale, or Church-Ale, for the maintenance of the chapel, that it shall, be lawful for them to have the use of the said house, with all the rooms, both above and beneath, during their Ale." It appears from a Sermon made at Blanford Forum, 1570, by William Kethe, that it was the custom at that time for the Church-Ales to be kept upon the Sabbath-day; which holy day, says our author, "the multitude call their revelyng day, which day is spent in bulbeatings, bearebeatings, bowlings, dicyng, cardyng,daunsynges, drunkenness, and whoredome, in so much, as men could not keepe their servauntes from lyinge out of theyr owne houses the same Sabbath-day at night."

"At present," says Douce, quoting from Rudder, "the [p.279] Whitsun-ales are conducted in the following manner. Two persons are chosen, previously to the meeting, to be lord and lady of the ale, who dress as suitably as they can to the character they assume. A large empty barn, or some such building, is provided for the lord's hall, and fitted up with seats to accommodate the company. Here they assemble to dance and regale in the best manner their circumstances and the place will afford; and each young fellow treats his girl with a riband or favour. The lord and lady honour the hall with their presence, attended by the steward, sword-bearer, purse-bearer, and mace-bearer,166 with their several badges or ensigns of office. They have likewise a train-bearer or page, and a fool or jester, drest in a party-coloured jacket, whose ribaldry and gesticulation contribute not a little to the entertainment of some part of the company. The lord's music, consisting of a pipe and tabor, is employed to conduct the dance. Some people think this custom is a commemoration of the ancient Drink-lean, a day of festivity formerly observed by the tenants and vassals of the lord of the fee within his manor; the memory of which, on account of the jollity of those meetings, the people have thus preserved ever since. The glossaries inform us that this Drink-lean was a contribution of tenants towards a potation or Ale provided to entertain the lord or his steward."167

[In Pericles, it is recorded of an old song, that

"It hath been sung at festivals,
On ember eves and holy ales"


And Ben Jonson says,

"All the neighbourhood, from old records,
Of antique proverbs, drawn from Whitsun lords,
And their authorities at wakes and ales,
With country precedents, and old wives tales,
We bring you now."

The Whitson Lord is also alluded to by Sir Philip Sidney,

"Strephon, with leavy twigs of laurell tree,
A garlant made, on temples for to weare,
For he then chosen was the dignitie
Of village lord that Whitsuntide to beare."]

Stubbs, in his Anatomie of Abuses, 1585, p. 95, gives the following account of the Manner of Church-Ales in England: "In certaine townes, where dronken Bacchus beares swaie, against Christmas and Easter, Whitsondaie, or some other tyme, the churchewardens of every parishe, with the consent of the whole parishe, provide halfe a score or twentie quarters of mault, whereof some they buy of the churche stocke, and some is given them of the parishioners themselves, every one conferring somewhat, according to his abilitie; whiche maulte being made into very strong ale or here, is sette to sale, either in the church or some other place assigned to that purpose. Then when this is set abroche, well is he that can gete the soonest to it, and spend the most at it. In this kinde of practice they continue sixe weekes, a quarter of a yeare, yea, halfe a yeare together. That money, they say, is to repaire their churches and chappels with, to buy bookes for service, cuppes for the celebration of the Sacrament, surplesses for sir John, and such other necessaries. And they maintaine other extraordinarie charges in their parish besides."

At a vestry held at Brentford, in 1621, several articles were agreed upon with regard to the management of the parish stock by the chapelwardens. The preamble stated, that the inhabitants had for many years been accustomed to have meetings at Whitsontide, in their church-house and other places there, in friendly manner, to eat and drink together^ and liberally to spend their monies, to the end neighbourly society might be maintained; and also a common stock raised for the repairs of the church, maintaining of orphans, placing poor children in service, and defraying other charges. In the [p.281] Accompts for the Whitsontide Ale, 1624, the gains are thus discriminated:

  s d
"Imprimis, cleared by the pigeon-holes 4 19 0
--------------------------by hocking 7 3 7
--------------------------by riffeling 2 0 0
--------------------------by victualling 8 0 2
  22 2 9"

The hocking occurs almost every year till 1640, when it appears to have been dropped. It was collected at Whitsuntide.

  s d
"1618. Gained with hocking at Whitsuntide 16 12 3"

The other games were continued two years later. Riffeling is synonymous with raffling. (Lysons's Environs of London, ii. 55.) In p. 54 are the following extracts from the Chapel-wardens' Account Books:

  s d
"1620. Paid for 6 boules 0 0 8
6 tynn tokens 0 0 6
for a pair of pigeon holes 0 1 6
1621. Paid to her thatwasL\DY at Whitsontide, by consent 0 5 0
Good wife Ansell for the pigeon holes 0 1 6
Paid for the Games 1 1 0
1629. Received of Robert Bicklye, for the use of our Games 0 2 0
Of the said R. B. for a silver bar which was lost at Elyng 0 3 6
1634, Paid for the silver Games 1 1 8
1643. Paid to Thomas Powell for pigeon holes 0 2 0"

The following occur in the Churchwardens' Books, at Chiswick:

  s d
"1622. Cleared at Whitsuntide 5 0 0
Paide for making a new pair of pigeing-holes 0 2 6"

At a Court of the Manor of Edgware, in 1555, "it was presented that the butts at Edgware were very ruinous, and that the inhabitants ought to repair them, which was ordered to be done before the ensuing Whitsontide." Sir William [p.282] Blackstone says, that it was usual for the lord of this manor to provide a minstrel or piper for the diversion of the tenants while they were employed in his service.

In the Introduction to the Survey and Natural History of the North Division of the County of Wiltshire, by Aubrey, at p. 32, is the following curious account of Whitsun-Ales: "There were no rates for the poor in my grandfather's days; but for Kingston St. Michael (no small parish) the Church-Ale of Whitsuntide did the business. In every parish is (or was) a church-house, to which belonged spits, crocks, &c., utensils for dressing provision. Here the housekeepers met and were merry, and gave their charity. The young people were there too, and had dancing, bowling, shooting at butts, &c., the ancients sitting gravely by, and looking on. All things were civil, and without scandal. The Church-Ale is doubtless derived from the Αγαπαί, or Love Feasts, mentioned in the New Testament." He adds, "Mr. A. Wood assures that there were no almshouses, at least they were very scarce, before the Reformation; that over against Christchurch, Oxon, is one of the ancientest. In every church was a poor man's box, but I never remembered the use of it; nay, there was one at great inns, as I remember it was before the wars. These were the days when England was famous for the grey goose quills."

The following lines on Whitsunday occur in Barnaby Googe's translation of Naogeorgus:

"On Whitsunday whyte pigeons tame in strings from heaven flie,
And one that framed is of wood still hangeth in the skie.
Thou seest how they with idols play, and teach the people too;
None otherwise than little gyrls with puppets used to do."

Among the ancient annual church disbursements of St. Mary-at-Hill, in the city of London, I find the following entry: "Garlands, Whitsunday, iijd." Sometimes also the subsequent: "Water for the Font on Whitson Eve, jd" This is explained by the following extract from Strutt's Manners and Customs, iii. 174: "Among many various ceremonies, I find that they had one called 'the Font hallowing,' which was performed on Easter Even and Whitsunday Eve; and, says the author of a volume of Homilies in Harl. MS. 2371, 'in the begynnyng of holy chirch, all the children weren kept to be crystened on thys even, at the Font hal- [p.283] lowyng; but now, for enchesone that in so long abydynge they might dye without crystendome, therefore holi chirch ordeyneth to crysten at all tymes of the yeare; save eyght dayes before these Evenys, the chylde shalle abyde till the Font hallowing, if it may savely for perrill of death, and ells not.'"

Collinson, in his History of Somersetshire, iii. 620, speaking of Yatton, says, that "John Lane of this parish, gent, left half an acre of ground, called the Groves, to the poor for ever, reserving a quantity of the grass for the strewing church on Whitsunday."

A superstitious notion appears anciently to have prevailed in England, that "whatsoever one did ask of God upon Whitsunday morning, at the instant when the sun arose and play'd, God would grant it him." See Arise Evans's Echo to the Voice from Heaven; or, a Narration of his Life, 1652, p. 9. He says, "he went up a hill to see the sun rise betimes an Whitsunday morning," and saw it at its rising "skip, play, dance, and turn about like a wheel."

"At Kidlington, in Oxfordshire, the custom is, that on Monday after Whitsun week there is a fat live lamb provided; and the maids of the town, having their thumbs tied behind them, run after it, and she that with her mouth takes and holds the lamb, is declared Lady of the Lamb, which being dressed, with the skin hanging on, is carried on a long pole before the lady and her companions to the Green, attended with music, and a Morisco dance of men, and another of women, where the rest of the day is spent in dancing, mirth, and merry glee. The next day the lamb is part baked, boiled, and roast, for the Lady's Feast, where she sits majestically at the upper end of the table, and her companions with her, with music and other attendants, which ends the solemnity." (Beckwith's edition of Blount's Jocular Tenures, p. 281.)

In Poor Robin's Almanack for 1676, stool-ball and barley-break are spoken of as Whitsun sports. In the Almanack for the following year, in June, opposite Whitsunday and Holidays, we read:

"At Islington a fair they hold,
Where cakes and ale are to be sold.
At Highgate and at Holloway,
The like is kept here every day;
At Totnam Court and Kentish Town,
And all those places up and down."


[A custom formerly prevailed amongst the people of Burford to hunt deer in Whichwood Forest, on Whitsunday. An original letter is now in the possession of the Corporation, dated 1593, directing the inhabitants to forbear the hunting for that year, on account of the plague that was then raging, and stating that an order should be given to the keepers of the forest, to deliver to the bailiffs two bucks in lieu of the hunting; which privilege, was not, however, to be prejudiced in future by its remittance on that occasion.]


[AN old custom so called formerly prevailed at Wenlock, in Shropshire, in the Whitsun week. It consisted, says Mr. Collins, of a man who wore a hair-cloth gown, and was called the bailiff, a recorder, justices, and other municipal officers. They were a large retinue of men and boys mounted on horseback, begirt with wooden swords, which they carried on their right sides, so that they were obliged to draw their swords out with their left hands. They used to call at the gentlemen's houses in the franchise, where they were regaled with refreshments; and they afterwards assembled at the Guildhall, where the town clerk read some sort of rigmarole which they called their charter, one part of which was

"We go from Bickbury, and Badger, to Stoke on the Clee,
To Monkhopton, Round Acton, and so return we."

The three first-named places are the extreme points of the franchise ; and the other two are on the return to Much Wenlock. Mr. Collins supposes this custom to have originated in going a bannering.]


THE observance of Trinity Sunday is said to have been first established in England by Archbishop Becket, soon after his consecration. "Hic post consecrationem suam instituit festivitatem principalem S. Trinitatis annis singulis in perpetuam [p.285] celebrandam, quo die primam Missam suam celebravit." Whart. Anglia Sacra, P. i. p. 8.

In Lysons's Environs of London, i. 310, among his extracts from the Churchwardens' Accounts at Lambeth are the following:

  s d
"1519. Item, for garlonds and drynk for the chylderne on Trenyte Even 0 0 6
To Spryngwell and Smyth for syngyng with the Procession on Trenete Sonday Even 0 0 12
Item, for four onssys of garnesyng rebonds, at 9d. the onse 0 3 0"

In the Memoires de 1'Academic Celtique, iii. 447, in "Notice sur quelques Usages et Croyances de la ci-devant Lorraine," we read, "Le jour de la fete de la Trinite, quelques personnes vont de grand matin dans la campagne, pour y voir lever trois soleils a la fois."

In a Letter to Aubrey (Miscellanies, 1714), dated Ascension Day, 1682, is an account of Newnton, in North Wiltshire; where, to perpetuate the memory of the donation of a common to that place, by King Athelstan and of a house for the hayward, i.e. the person who looked after the beasts that fed upon this common, the following ceremonies were appointed: "Upon every Trinity Sunday, the parishioners being come to the door of the hay ward's house, the door was struck thrice in honour of the Holy Trinity; then they entered. The bell was rung; after which, silence being ordered, they read their prayers aforesaid. Then was a ghirland of flowers (about the year 1660 one was killed striving to take away the ghirland) made upon an hoop, brought forth by a maid of the town upon her neck; and a young man (a bachelor) of another parish, first saluted her three times, in honour of the Trinity, in respect of God the Father. Then she puts the ghirland upon his neck, and kisses him three times, in honour of the Trinity, particularly God the Son. Then he puts the ghirland on her neck again, and kisses her three times, in respect of the Holy Trinity, and particularly the Holy Ghost. Then he takes the ghirland from her neck, and, by the custom, must give her a penny at least, which, as fancy leads, is now exceeded, as 2s. 60d, or &c. The method of giving this ghirland is from house to house annually, till it comes round. In [p.286] the evening every commoner sends his supper up to this house, which is called the Bale House; and having before laid in there equally a stock of malt which was brewed in the house, they sup together, and what was left was given to the poor."


[THIS celebrated Fair commences upon the Friday in Trinity week, and continues for eight days. It is of very high antiquity, the Charter being granted by Henry III. in 1218, at the instigation of Randle, Earl of Chester. For many centuries it was one of the chief marts in the kingdom for the sale of the various articles of merchandise in general consumption. Of late years, it has been principally celebrated for the Show or procession, which is exhibited at intervals of from three to seven years, on the first day of the fair, and on that account has acquired a great degree of notoriety and interest. This procession is believed to have been first instituted in 1678, or at least the procession of Lady Godiva was then first introduced into the pageant, thus laying the foundation of that splendid cavalcade usually designated the Procession of Lady Godiva, and to the same period must be referred the first public exhibition of the far-famed Peeping Tom of Coventry.

Leofric, Earl of Mercia, Lord of Coventry, imposed certain hard and grievous services upon the place, which his Countess Godiva, out of feelings of compassion for the inhabitants, frequently and earnestly implored her husband to free them from, but without effect; and unwilling to give up an exaction which tended so much to his profit, he at length commanded her to urge him no more on the subject. Godiva was not thus to be diverted from her purpose, and, resuming her importunities, he thought to silence her at once, by declaring that he never would accede to her wishes, unless she would consent to ride naked from one end of the town to the other, in the sight of the inhabitants. To this extraordinary proposal, however, he heard with astonishment her reply in these words, "But will you give me leave to do so?" and being compelled [p.287] to answer "Yes" the good Countess soon afterwards, upon a day appointed for that purpose, got upon her horse, naked, her loose and flowing tresses forming a complete covering down to her legs, and having achieved her undertaking returned with joy and triumph to her husband, who faithfully redeemed his pledge, by granting to the inhabitants a Charter of Freedom, in the words of an old chronicler, "from servitude, evil customs, and exactions." Until of late years, in a window of Trinity Church, a memorial of this event was preserved in ancient stained glass, representing the portraits of Leofric and Godiva, the former holding in his hand, as in the act of presenting to his Countess, a scroll or charter, inscribed thus:

" I, Luriche, for the love of thee,
Doe make Coventrie tol-fre."

The city legends relate that before their good patroness performed her task, an order was issued requiring all the inhabitants, on pain of death, to remain within their houses during her progress; but that a tailor, whose curiosity was not to be restrained by this denunciation, was resolved to have a peep at the fair Countess, and paid for his presumption and inquisitiveness by the immediate loss of his sight. In commemoration of this incident, and in proof of the veracity of the tradition, a figure, whose name and fame are widely spread, called Peeping Tom, is still to be seen at the corner of Hertford Street, in an opening at the upper part of a house. The figure itself is of considerable antiquity, and in size rather exceeds the usual proportions of a man: it is formed from a single piece of oak, hollowed out in the back to render it less weighty, and in its original state represented a man in complete plate armour with skirts, the legs and feet also armed, and a helmet on the head, the crest of which has been cut away to make room for a flowing wig, that, until of late years, formed a part of the dress of this figure, which upon being brought forth from some unknown receptacle, to personify the celebrated Peeping Tom, underwent a considerable degree of alteration in its external appearance, by the application of paint, so as to show the resemblance of clothing; this, with a large and long cravat, shoulder-knots, and other ornaments, and a hat of corresponding fashion, clearly pointed [p.288] out a perfect agreement in his dress with that of the period when the enlarged procession was instituted, in 16/8. Of late years the wig has been discontinued, as well as the long cravat and shoulder-knots; and a hat of military fashion has been introduced, with some alterations in the manner of painting the figure. In its original state, the effigy called Peeping Tom had the lower part of the arms (now wanting) fixed to the trunk by pegs, the indications of which are still visible; and the position of the body and legs show that the figure was in a posture of attack, having, probably a shield and spear or ancient bill.

The first persons in the Godiva procession are the City Guards, the representatives of a once important class of men, who were trained and armed at the costs of the Corporation and various trading companies, and in days of yore formed an aggregate body of considerable numbers168 and importance; from whence were furnished from time to time, as need required, reinforcements to the national forces. The armour consisted of corslets, with and without skirts, back pieces, and morions, and their offensive weapons, either the English long-bow, or the variously-formed bill, of which several different specimens may be observed in the procession; the whole being an interesting display of the ancient city armour.169 The next character in the procession is that of St. George, completely armed; the helmet, to which the vizor only is attached, is of considerable antiquity, and the whole suit is a fine specimen of entire body armour. St. George, it will be remembered, was a native of Coventry, according to the old ballad

"Where being in short space arriv'd,
Unto his native dwelling-place;
Therein with his dear love he liv'd,
And fortune did his nuptials grace;
They many years of joy did see,
And led their lives at Coventry."

The City Streamer and two City Followers are the next processioners. The streamer bears the arms of Coventry, being [p.289] party per pale, gules and vert, an elephant argent, on a mount proper, bearing a castle triple-towered on his back, or ; crest, a cat a mountain. In addition to which the cognizance of the Princes of Wales has been used by the city from the time of Edward the Black Prince, who first assumed it. The city followers, whose original characters, probably, were those of pages or train-bearers, and, as the name imports, used in such capacity to follow the person on whom they attend, are habited in antique dresses, the singular costume of which produces a remarkable contrast to the showy and tasteful style generally used in the decoration of this most interesting juvenile portion of the procession.

The next object of attraction is the renowned Lady Godiva, mounted on a white horse, with rich housings and trappings. On each side of this celebrated personage rides the city crier and beadle, whose coats present a singular appearance, being in conformity with the field of the arms of Coventry, half green and half red, divided down the centre. On the left arm each wears a large silver badge, wrought with the elephant and castle. The female representing the fair patroness of Coventry is usually habited in a white cambric dress, closely fitted to the body, and a profusion of long-flowing locks, decorated with a fillet or bandeau of flowers, and a plume of white feathers, generally complete her dress and ornaments.

The city officers, who next appear in the procession, require but few remarks. The sword and large mace, which are on this occasion decorated with pink ribands, are handsome and costly; and the cap of maintenance and crimson velvet hat, worn by the official bearers of this part of the city insignia, produce an antique and interesting effect.

The Mayor's Followers. These are generally children of about five years of age, attired in elegant fancy dresses, with tastefully ornamented scarfs, and head-gear of ostrich plumes. The horse on which each rides is richly caparisoned and attended by two men, the one as its leader, the other as protector to the child; the attendants are without coats, their white shirt-sleeves being tied round with pink ribands, a rosette of which is frequently worn on the breast, and a large one in front of the hat. The same style is observed by the attendants on most of the other followers.

The Mayor and Corporation. The magistrates, on this [p.290] occasion, wear their scarlet robes, which add considerably to the effect of the procession. The remaining members of the corporation wear black gowns. The sheriffs, chamberlains, and wardens are each attended by two followers.

The city companies now commence their appearance in the cavalcade, beginning with the most ancient, and following according to their seniority.

In the printed order of the procession, for several years past, the Mercers, according to its right of precedency, has always been placed at the head of the incorporated companies; but neither master nor followers have been seen in the show, to represent the premier company in the city. The procession of the companies and numerous benefit societies is terminated by that of the Wool-combers, which, although last in the cavalcade, is by no means least in its display of attractions; for, instead of confining themselves, as in the case of the other companies, to an exhibition of the streamer, master, and followers, the latter having in general no mark or distinction (a few only carrying little ornamented truncheons, surmounted by a device or symbol, showing the trade to which they belong), this junior fraternity has, for many years past, contrived to obtain and deserve a greater share of notice than any other company. The streamer is, with great characteristic propriety, woollen, instead of silk, and discovers some ingenuity in its fabric. This is followed by the master and his customary attendant, as in the case of the other companies; but the Wool-combers stop not here, adding first, a Shepherd and Shepherdess, the former of whom used to ride upon a horse, bearing a dog before him, whilst the shepherdess was seated upon another horse, within a sort of bower, formed of branches and flowers, and in her lap an artificial lamb, each carrying the emblematic crook. At the procession of 1824, this interesting little pair were first displayed underneath a large bower, constructed upon a platform affixed to a carriage drawn by a pair of horses, and a living lamb supplied the place of the former artificial one, the dog attending upon the shepherd as usual, and has been so repeated on each succeeding occasion. Following is the representative of the renowned Jason, bearing the golden fleece in triumph, in his left hand, and in his right a naked sword, with numerous wool-sorters, in characteristic fancy dresses; and next appears [p.291] the patron saint of the wool-combers, Bishop Blaze, the representative of this saint and martyr of the Romish Church was, until very recently, dressed out with great ingenuity, by the adapting of combed jersey to various parts of his costume. The mitre was black, with white lining, and in a remarkable degree produced the desired effect. Two broad belts of black jersey, crossing over the front of his body, served, upon the white ground of a shirt, to give a very good appearance to that part of the dress; whilst the "lawn sleeves" were at once recognised in those of the bishop's shirt. A black gown has been substituted for the more characteristic dress above described, but the mitre is still formed according to that description, and he bears a book in his left hand, and the iron comb of the trade in his right. An indefinite number of wool-combers follow, who usually excite a considerable degree of attention, from their dresses being composed of various combinations of coloured jersey.

The foregoing account of this celebrated pageant describes it as seen until the year 1826,170 since which period the corporation have ceased to form any part of the cavalcade, and by the change in the disposal of corporate funds, prescribed by the Municipal Reform Act, the pecuniary aid formerly contributed by the old corporation has been withdrawn. The masters of the companies have also discontinued their presence, but allow the use of their streamers, and supply a representative and followers. The feeling of the citizens for processional display has not, however, been removed; and some spirited individuals have projected, and successfully carried out, various additions to the late processions, to supply the place of the corporation group; this has been occupied by a characteristic attendant upon Lady Godiva, in the representative of the celebrated Leofric, Earl of Mercia, with pages, esquires, and attendants, attired in the costume of the period, and forming a novel and imposing addition to the procession.

The following account of the procession in 1848, is extracted from the Coventry Herald: "Large as was the influx of visitors contributed by common stages, horse, and foot, it was prodigiously augmented by the torrent of human beings which poured into the town in rapid succession by the railway trains, which, [p.292] from authentic information, we are enabled to state, brought into Coventry on that day the amazing number of 15,600 persons. In various parts of the town had been erected triumphal arches of great height, ornamented with flowers and evergreens; and of which verdant materials wreaths were suspended across the public thoroughfares in many other places. Many private houses were also similarly decorated in front. The cavalcade started at eleven o'clock, headed by Mr. Wombwell's elephant bearing a castle, and thus forming a living and literal representation of the city arms of Coventry. Madame Warton's performance of Godiva was regarded as highly satisfactory. She was attired in a close-fitting elastic silk dress, of pinky-white colour, entire from the neck to the toes, excepting the arms, which were uncovered; over this a simple white satin tunic, edged with gold fringe, completed her riding habit. Her only head-dress was the perfectly unartificial and not very profuse supply of glossy black hair, simply braided in front, and hanging down, slightly confined behind. Mr. Warton, her husband, rode a short distance in the rear, as Edward the Black Prince, clad in a suit of mail. Queen Margaret, Sir John Falstaff, Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, William and Adam Botoner (the celebrated mayors of Coventry), Sir Thomas White (its great benefactor), and Sir W. Dugdale, the eminent local historian, also found representatives in the cavalcade. Last in the procession was a 'sylvan bower bearing the Shepherd and Shepherdess,' a capacious platform furnished with flowers, fountains, and foreign birds in golden cages. The fleecy lambs and faithful dog formed an object which attracted all eyes, while the arbour of evergreens rising and tapering off to the height of forty feet, formed a magnificent finish to the cavalcade. The show concluded at three o'clock."

There are many who consider this custom would be "more honoured in the breach than in the observance." Some, even, perhaps, who go so far as to recall the adage of Queen Elizabeth,

"Ye men of Coventry,
Good lack, what fools ye be !"]



"IN Wales, on Thursday after Trinity Sunday, which they call Dudd son Duw, or Dydd gwyl duw, on the eve before, they strew a sort of fern before their doors, called Red yn Mair." This is at Caerwis. Mr. Pennant's MS.


IN the Churchwardens' Accounts of St. Mary-at-Hill, in the city of London, 17 and 19 Edward IV., Palmer and Clerk, churchwardens, the following entry occurs: "For Rose garlondis and Woodrove171 garlondis on St. Barnebe's Daye, xjd." And, under the year 1486: "Item, for two doss' di bocse garlands for prestes and clerkes on Saynt Barnabe daye, js. xd." Ibid. 1512, Woulffe and Marten, churchwardens, the following: "Recd of the gadryng of the May dens on St. Barnabas' Day, vjs. viijd." And, among the church disbursements of the same year, we have: "Rose-garlands and Lavender, St. Barnabas, js. vjd." In the same accounts, for 1509, is the following: "For bred, wine, and ale, for the singers of the King's Chapel, and for the Clarks of this town, on St. Barnabas, js. iijd."

Collinson, in his History of Somersetshire, ii. 265, speaking of Glastonbury, tells us, that "besides the Holy Thorn, there grew in the Abbey churchyard, on the north side of St. Joseph's Chapel, a miraculous walnut-tree, which never budded forth before the feast of St. Barnabas, viz. the 11th [p.294] of June, and on that very day shot forth leaves, and flourished like its usual species. This tree is gone, and in the place thereof stands a very fine walnut-tree of the common sort. It is strange to say how much this tree was sought after by the credulous; and, though not an uncommon walnut, Queen Anne, King James, and many of the nobility of the realm, even when the times of monkish superstition had ceased, gave large sums of money for small cuttings from the original."

Among Ray's Proverbs, the following is preserved relating to Saint Barnabas:

"Barnaby Bright,
The longest day and shortest night."

It was formerly believed that storms were prevalent on this day. So in the ancient Romish calendar, "Barnabse Apost. tempestas ssepe oritur."

The author of the Festa Anglo Romana says, p. 72, "This Barnaby-day, or thereabout, is the summer solstice or sunsted, when the sun seems to stand, and begins to go back, being the longest day in the year, about the 11th or 12th of June; it is taken for the whole time, when the days appear not for fourteen days together either to lengthen or shorten."


CORPUS CHRISTI DAY, says the Festa Anglo Romana, p. 73, in all Roman Catholic countries is celebrated with music, lights, flowers, strewed all along the streets, their richest tapestries hung out upon the walls, &c.

The following is Googe's translation of what Naogeorgus has said upon the ceremonies of this day in his Popish Kingdom, f. 53.

"Then doth ensue the solemne feast of Corpus Christi Day,
Who then can shewe their wicked use, and fond and foolish play:
The hallowed bread, with worship great, in silver pix they beare
About the church, or in the citie passing here and theare.


His armes that beares the same two of the welthiest men do holde,
And over him a canopey of silke and cloth of golde.
Foure others used to beare aloufe, least that some filthie thing
Should fall from hie, or some mad birde hir doung thereon should fling.
Christe's passion here derided is with sundrie maskes and playes,
Faire Ursley, with hir maydens all, doth passe amid the wayes:
And. valiant George, with speare thou killest the dreadfull dragon here
The Devil's house is drawne about, wherein there doth appere
A wondrous sort of damned sprites, with foule and fearfull looke;
Great Christopher doth wade and passe with Christ amid the brooke:
Sebastian, full of feathred shaftes, the dint of dart doth feele,
There walketh Kathren, with hir sworde in hande, and cruel wheele:
The challis and the singing cake with Barbara is led,
And sundrie other pageants playde, in worship of this bred,
That please the foolish people well : what should I stand upon
Their banners, crosses, candlestickes, and reliques many on,
Their cuppes and carved images, that priestes, with count'nance hie,
Or rude and common people, beare about full solemlie?
Saint John before the bread doth go, and poynting towards him,
Doth shew the same to be the Lambe that takes away our sinne:
On whome two clad in angels shape do sundrie flowres fling,
A number great with sacring belles, with pleasant sound doe ring.
The common wayes with bowes are strawde, and every streete beside,
And to the walles and windowes all are boughes and braunches tide.
The monkes in every place do roame, the nonnes abrode are sent,
The priestes and schoolmen lowd do rore, some use the instrument.
The straunger passing through the streete upon his knees doe fall.
And earnestly upon this bread, as on his God, doth call;
For why, they counte it for their Lorde, and that he doth not take
The form of flesh, but nature now of breade that we do bake.
A number great of armed men here all this while do stande,
To looke that no disorder be, nor any filching hande:
For all the church-goodes out are brought, which certainly would bee
A bootie good, if every man might have his libertie.
This bread eight dayes togither they in presence out do bring,
The organs all do then resound, and priestes alowde do sing:
The people flat on faces fall, their handes held up on hie,
Beleeving that they see their God, and soveraigne Majestic.
The like at masse they doe, while as the bread is lifted well,
And challys shewed aloft, whenas the sexten rings the bell.
In villages the husbandmen about their corne doe ride,
With many crosses, banners, and Sir John their priest beside,
Who in a bag about his necke doth beare the blessed breade,
And oftentyme he downe alightes, and Gospel lowde doth reade.
This surely keepes the corne from winde, and raine, and from the blast;
Such fayth the Pope hath taught, and yet the Papistes hold it fast."


In Lysons's Environs of London, i. 229, I find the following extracts from the Churchwardens' and Chamberlains' Accounts at Kingston-upon-Thames, relating to this day

  s d
"21 Hen. VII. Mem. That we, Adam Backhous . s. d. and Harry Nycol, amountyd of a play 0 0 0
  27 Hen. VII. Paid for packthred on Corpus Christ! Day 0 0 1

"This," Lysons adds, "was probably used for hanging the pageants, containing the History of our Saviour, which were exhibited on this day, and explained by the Mendicant Friars." The Cotton MS. Vesp. D. viii. contains a Collection of dramas in old English verse (of the fifteenth century) relating principally to the History of the New Testament. Sir William Dugdale mentions this manuscript under the name of Ludus Corporis Christi, or Lucius Coventriae, and adds, "I have been told by some people, who, in their younger years were eye-witnesses of these pageants so acted, that the yearly confluence of people to see that shew was extraordinary great, and yielded no small advantage to this city." See Antiq. of Warwickshire, p. 116. It appears by the latter end of the prologue, that these plays or interludes were not only played in Coventry, but in other towns and places upon occasion. [This MS. was edited by Mr. Halliwell in 1841, for the Shakespeare Society. The elder Heywood thus alludes to the devil, as a character in these mysteries,

"For as good happe wolde have it chaunce,
Thys devyll and I were of olde acqueyntaunce;
For oft in the play of Corpus Christi
He hath played the devyll at Coventry."]

In the Royal Entertainment of the Earle of Nottingham, sent Ambassador from his Majestie to the King of Spaine, 1605, p. 12, it is stated that on Corpus Christi Day, "the greatest day of account in Spaine in all the yeare," at Valladolid, where the Court was, "the king went a procession with all the apostles very richly, and eight giants, foure men and foure women, and the cheefe was named Gog-magog."

In the Churchwardens' Accounts of St. Mary-at-Hill, in the city of London, 17 and 19 Edw. IV., Palmer and Clerk [p.297] churchwardens, the following entry occurs: "Garlands on Corpus Christi Day, xd." I find also, among the ancient annual church disbursements, "For four (six or eight) men bearing torches about the parish" on this day, payments of 1d. each. Among the same accounts for the 19th and 21st years of Edw. IV. we have: "For flaggs and garlondis, and pak-thredde for the torches, upon Corpus Christi Day, and for six men to bere the said torches, iiijs. vijd." And in 1485, "For the hire of the garments for pageants, js. viijd." Rose-garlands on Corpus Christi Day are also mentioned under the years 1524 and 1525, in the parish accounts of St. Martin Outwich. Pennant's Manuscript says, that in North Wales, at Llanasaph, there is a custom of strewing green herbs and flowers at the doors of houses on Corpus Christi Eve.

[On this day the members of the Skinners' Company of London, attended by a number of boys which they have in Christ's Hospital school, and girls strewing herbs before them, walk in procession from their hall, on Dowgate-hill, to the church of St. Antholin, in Watling-street, to hear service. This custom has been observed time out of mind.]

Nares, in his Glossary, p. 103, says this festival was held annually on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, in memory, as was supposed, of the miraculous confirmation of the doctrine of Transubstantiation under Pope Urban IV. Its origin, however, is involved in great obscurity.


IN the Sententiae Rythmicae of J. Buchlerus, p. 384, is a passage which seems to prove that St. Vitus's Day was equally famous for rain with St. Swithin's:

"Lux sacrata Vito si sit pluviosa, sequentes
Triginta facient omne madere solum."


Googe, in the translation of Naogeorgus, says:

"The nexte is Vitus sodde in oyle, before whose ymage faire
Both men and women bringing hennes for offring do repaire:
The cause whereof I doe not know, I thinke for some disease
Which he is thought to drive away from such as him do please."

See a Charm against St. Vitus's Dance in Turner on the Diseases of the Skin, p. 419.

[The following rural charm on parchment was actually carried by an old woman in Devonshire, as a preventive against this complaint:

"Shake her, good devil,
Shake her once well;
Then shake her no more
Till you shake her in."]


THE Pagan rites of this festival at the summer solstice may be considered as a counterpart of those used at the winter solstice at Yule-tide. There is one thing that seems to prove this beyond the possibility of a doubt. In the old Runic Fasti, as will be shown elsewhere, a wheel was used to denote the festival of Christmas. The learned Gebelin derives Yule from a primitive word, carrying with it the general idea of revolution and a wheel; and it was so called, says Bede, because of the return of the sun's annual course, after the winter solstice. This wheel is common to both festivities. Thus Durand, speaking of the rites of the Feast of St. John
Baptist, informs us of this curious circumstance, that in some places they roll a wheel about, to signify that the sun, then occupying the highest place in the zodiac, is beginning to descend,172 and in the amplified account of these ceremonies [p.299] given by the poet Naogeorgus, we read that this wheel was taken up to the top of a mountain and rolled down from thence; and that, as it had previously been covered with straw, twisted about it and set on fire, it appeared at a distance as if the sun had been falling from the sky. And he farther observes, that the people imagine that all their ill luck rolls away from them together with this wheel.

Googe, in the translation of Naogeorgus, says:

"Then doth the joyfull feast of John the Baptist take his turne,
When bonfiers great, with loftie flame, in everie towne doe burne;
And yong men round about with maides doe daunce in everie streete,
With garlands wrought of motherwort, or else with vervain sweete,
And many other flowres faire, with violets in their handes,
Whereas they all do fondly thinke, that whosoever standes,
And thorow the flowres beholdes the flame, his eyes shall feel no paine,
When thus till night they daunced have, they through the fire amaine
With striving mindes doe runne, and all their hearbes they cast therein.
And then with wordes devout and prayers they solemnely begin,
Desiring God that all their illes may there consumed bee;
Whereby they thinke through all that yeare from agues to be free.
Some others get a rotten wheele, all worne and cast aside,
Which, covered round about with strawe and tow, they closely hide:
And caryed to some mountaines top, being all with fire light,
They hurle it downe with violence, when darke appears the night:
Resembling much the sunne, that from the Heavens down should fal,
A straunge and monstrous sight it seemes, and fearefull to them all:
But they suppose their mischiefes all are likewise throwne to hell,
And that from harmes and daungers now in safetie here they dwell."

The reader will join with me in thinking the following extract from the homily De Festo Sancti Johannis Baptistae a pleasant piece of absurdity: "In worshyp of Saint Johan the people waked at home, and made three maner of fyres: one was clene bones, and noo woode, and that is called a Bone Fyre; another is clene woode, and no bones, and that is called a Wode Fyre, for people to sit and wake therby; the thirde is made of wode and bones, and it is callyd Saynt Johannys [p.300] fyre. The first fyre, as a great clerke Johan Belleth telleth he was in a certayne countrey, so in the countrey there was soo greate hete the which causid that dragons to go togyther in tokenynge that Johan dyed in brennynge love and eharyte to God and man, and they that dye in eharyte shall have parte of all good prayers, and they that do not, shall never be saved. Then as these dragons flewe in th'ayre they shed down to that water froth of ther kynde, and so envenymed the waters, and caused moche people for to take theyr deth therby, and many dyverse sykenesse. Wyse clerkes knoweth well that dragons hate nothyng more than the stenche of brennynge bones, and therefore they gaderyd as many as they mighte fynde, and brent them; and so with the stenche thereof they drove away the dragons, and so they were brought out of greete dysease. The second fyre was made of woode, for that wyl brenne lyght, and wyll be seen farre. For it is the chefe of fyre to be seen farre, and betoken nyn get hat Saynt Johan was a lanterne of lyght to the people. Also the people made biases of fyre, for that they shulde be scene farre, and specyally in the nyght, in token of St. Johan' s having been seen from far in the spirit by Jeremiah. The third fyre of bones betokenneth Johan's martyrdome, for hys bones were brente, and how ye shall here." The Homilist accounts for this by telling us that after John's disciples had buried his body, it lay till Julian, the apostate emperor, came that way, and caused them to be taken up and burnt, "and to caste the ashes in the wynde, hopynge that he shuld never ryse again to lyfe."

Bourne tells us, that it was the custom in his time, in the North of England, chiefly in country villages, for old and young people to meet together and be merry over a large fire, which was made for that purpose in the open street. This, of whatever materials it consisted, was called a Bonefire.173 [p.301] Over and above this fire they frequently leap, and play at various games, such as running, wrestling, dancing, &c.: this, however, is generally confined to the younger sort; for the old ones, for the most part, sit by as spectators only of the vagaries of those who compose the "Lasciva decentius setas," and enjoy themselves over their bottle, which they do not quit till midnight, and sometimes till cock-crow the next morning. The learned Gebelin, in his Allegories Orientales, accounts in the following manner for the custom of making fires on Midsummer Eve: "Can one," says he, "omit to mention here the St. John Fires, those sacred fires kindled about midnight, on the very moment of the solstice, by the greatest part as well of ancient as of modern nations; a religious ceremony of the most remote antiquity, which was observed for the prosperity of states and people, and to dispel every kind of evil? The origin of this fire, which is still retained by so many nations, though enveloped in the mist of antiquity, is very simple: it was a Feu de Joie, kindled the very moment the year began; for the first of all years, and the most ancient that we know of, began at this month of June. Thence the very name of this month, junior, the youngest, which is renewed; while that of the preceding one is May, major, the ancient. Thus the one was the month of young people, while the other belonged to old men. These Feux de Joie were accompanied at the same time with vows and sacrifices for the prosperity of the people and the fruits of the earth. They danced also round this fire (for what feast is there without a dance?), and the most active leaped over it. Each on departing took away a firebrand, great or [p.302] small, and the remains were scattered to the wind, which, at the same time that it dispersed the ashes, was thought to expel every evil. When, after a long train of years, the year ceased to commence at this solstice, still the custom of making these fires at this time was continued by force of habit, and of those superstitious ideas that are annexed to it. Besides, it would have been a sad thing to have annihilated a day of joy in times when there were not many of them. Thus has the custom been continued and handed down to us.'"

So far our learned and ingenious foreigner. But I can by no means acquiesce with him in thinking that the act of leaping over these fires was only a trial of agility. A great deal of learning might be produced here to show farther that it was as much a religious act as making them.174

In the Gent. Mag. for May 1733, p. 225, a posthumous piece of Sir Isaac Newton, entitled Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John, is cited, where that great philosopher, on Daniel ii. v. 38, 39, observes, that "the Heathens were delighted with the festivals of their gods, and unwilling to part with those ceremonies; therefore Gregory, Bishop of Neo-Csesarea, in Pontus, to facilitate their conversion, instituted annual festivals to the saints and martyrs: hence the keeping of Christmas with ivy, feasting of Christmas with ivy, feasting, plays, and sports, came in the room of the Bacchanalia and Saturnalia; the celebrating of May-day with flowers, in the room of the Floralia; and the festivals to the Virgin Mary, John the Baptist, and divers of the Apostles, in the room of the solemnities at the entrance of the sun into the signs of the zodiac in the old Julian Calendar."

Borlase, in his Antiquities of Cornwall, p. 130, tells us:


"Of the fires we kindle in many parts of England at some stated times of the year, we know not certainly the rise, reason, or occasion, but they may probably be reckoned among the relics of the Druid superstitious fires. In Cornwall, the festival fires, called bonfires, are kindled on the Eve of St. John Baptist and St. Peter's Day; and Midsummer is thence, in the Cornish tongue, called 'Goluan,' which signifies both light and rejoicing. At these fires the Cornish attend with lighted torches, tarr'd and pitch'd at the end, and make their perambulations round their fires, and go from village to village, carrying their torches before them; and this is certainly the remains of the Druid superstition, for 'faces preeferre,' to carry lighted torches, was reckoned a kind of Gentilism, and as such particularly prohibited by the Gallick Councils: they were in the eye of the law 'accensores facularum,' and thought to sacrifice to the devil, and to deserve capital punishment."

In Ireland, "on the Eves of St. John Baptist and St. Peter, they always have in every town a bonfire late in the evenings, and carry about bundles of reeds fast tied and fired; these being dry, will last long, and flame better than a torch, and be a pleasing divertive prospect to the distant beholder; a stranger would go near to imagine the whole country was on fire." (Sir Henry Piers's Description of Westmeath, 1682.) The author of the Survey of the South of Ireland, says, p. 232: "It is not strange that many Druid remains should still exist; but it is a little extraordinary that some of their customs should still be practised. They annually renew the sacrifices that used to be offered to Apollo, without knowing it. On Midsummer's Eve, every eminence, near which is a habitation, blazes with bonfires; and round these they carry numerous torches, shouting and dancing, which affords a beautiful sight, and at the same time confirms the observation of Scaliger: 'En Irlande, ils sont quasi tous papistes, mais c'est Papaute meslee de Paganisme, comme partout.' Though historians had not given us the mythology of the Pagan Irish, and though they had not told us expressly that they worshipped Beal, or Bealin, and that this Beal was the sun and their chief god, it might nevertheless be investigated from this custom, which the lapse of so many centuries has not been able to wear away. I have, however, heard it lamented that the alteration [p.304] of the style had spoiled these exhibitions: for the Roman Catholics light their fires by the new style, as the correction originated from a pope; and for that very same reason the Protestants adhere to the old."

I find the following, much to our purpose, in the Gentleman's Magazine for February 1795, p. 124: "The Irish have ever been worshippers of fire and of Baal, and are so to this day. This is owing to the Roman Catholics, who have artfully yielded to the superstitions of the natives, in order to gain and keep up an establishment, grafting Christianity upon Pagan rites. The chief festival in honour of the sun and fire is upon the 21st of June, when the sun arrives at the summer solstice, or rather begins its retrograde motion. I was so fortunate in the summer of 1782 as to have my curiosity gratified by a sight of this ceremony to a very great extent of country. At the house where I was entertained, it was told me that we should see at midnight the most singular sight in Ireland, which was the lighting fires in honour of the sun. Accordingly, exactly at midnight, the fires began to appear: and taking the advantage of going up to the leads of the house, which had a widely extended view, I saw on a radius of thirty miles, all around, the fires burning on every eminence which the country afforded. I had a farther satisfaction in learning, from undoubted authority, that the people danced round the fires, and at the close went through these fires, and made their sons and daughters, together with their cattle, pass through the fire; and the whole was conducted with religious solemnity." This is at the end of some Reflections by the late Rev. Donald M'Queen, of Kilmuir, in the Isle of Sky, on Ancient Customs preserved in that island.

The late Dr. Milner was opposed to the notion of the Irish having ever been worshippers of fire and of Baal. In An Inquiry into certain Vulgar Opinions concerning the Catholic Inhabitants and the Antiquities of Ireland, 1808, p. 100, he tells us that the "modern hunters after Paganism in Ireland think they have discovered another instance of it (though they derive this neither from the Celtic Druidesses nor the Roman Vestals, but from the Carthaginians or Phoenicians) in the fires lighted up in different parts of the country on the Eve of St. John the Baptist, or Midsummer-day. This they represent as the idolatrous worship of Baal, the Philistine god of [p.305] fire, and as intended by his pretended Catholic votaries to obtain from him fertility for the earth. The fact is, these fires, on the eve of the 24th of June, were heretofore as common in England and all over the continent as they are now in Ireland, and have as little relation with the worship of Baal as the bonfires have which blaze on the preceding 4th of June, being the King's birthday: they are both intended to be demonstrations of joy. That, however, in honour of Christ's precursor is particularly appropriate, as alluding to his character of bearing witness to the light, John i. 7, and of his being himself a bright and shining light, John v. 35." The author of the Comical Pilgrim's Pilgrimage into Ireland, 1723, p. 92, says: "On the vigil of St. John the Baptist's Nativity, they make bonfires, and run along the streets and fields with wisps of straw blazing on long poles to purify the air, which they think infectious, by believing all the devils, spirits, ghosts, and hobgoblins fly abroad this night to hurt mankind. Furthermore, it is their dull theology to affirm the souls of all people leave their bodies on the eve of this feast, and take their ramble to that very place, where, by land or sea, a final separation shall divorce them for evermore in this world."175

Levinus Lemnius, in the work already quoted, tells us that the Low Dutch have a proverb, that "when men have passed a troublesome night's rest, and could not sleep at all, they say, we have passed St. John Baptist's Night; that is, we have not taken any sleep, but watched all night; and not only so, but we have been in great troubles, noyses, clamours, and stirs, that have held us waking." "Some," he previously observes, "by a superstition of the Gentiles, fall down before his image, and hope to be thus freed from the epileps; and they are further persuaded that if they can but gently go unto this saint's shrine, and not cry out disorderly, or hollow like madmen when they go, then they shall be a whole year free from this disease ; but if they attempt to bite with their teeth the saint's head they go to kisse, and to revile him, then they shall be troubled with this disease every month, which commonly comes with the course of the moon, yet extreart [p.306] juglings and frauds are wont to be concealed under this matter." English translat. fol. 1658, p. 28.

Leaping over the fires is mentioned among the superstitious rites used at the Palilia in Ovid's Fasti:

"Moxque per ardentes stipulse crepitantis acervos
Trajicias celeri strenua membra pede."

The Palilia were feasts instituted in honour of Pales, the goddess of shepherds (though Varro makes Pales masculine), on the calends of May. In order to drive away wolves from the fold and distempers from the cattle, the shepherds on this day kindled several heaps of straw in their fields, which they leaped over. See Sheridan's Persius, 2d edit. p. 18. The following passage may be thought, however, to confirm Gebelin: it is in an old collection of satyres, epigrams, &c. where this leaping over a Midsummer bonefire is mentioned among other pastimes:

"At shove-groate, venter-point, or crosse and pile,
At leaping over a Midsommer lone-fier,
Or at the drawing Dun out of the myer."

In the Works of William Browne, ed. 1 772, " The Shepherd's Pipe," iii. 53, occur the following lines:

"Neddy, that was wont to make
Such great feasting at the wake,
And the Blessing Fire."

with a note on Blessing Fire, informing us that "the Midsummer fires are termed so in the west parts of England."

The following very curious passage on this head is extracted from Torreblanca's Demonology, p. 106: "Ignis lustrationis, quse in filiorum consecratione fiebat, sive expiatione, ad stabiiiendam eorum fortunam, de qua agit sacra Parcemia, Reg. 4, c. 17. Et consecraverunt filios suos, et filias per ignem. Quae fiebat ex transjectione per ignem, ex qua similiter felicis illi casus prsemmciabant, quam superstitionem damnatam invenio Deut. c. 18. Nee inveniatur in te, qui lustrat filium suum, aut filiam ducens per ignem. In quo peccant Germani in successione pyrarum, quas pie in honorem. Johannis accendunt, dum ad crepitura, fumum, flammse modum, et similia attendunt. Nam sunt reliquiae veteris paganismi, ut censet Conrad. Wissin cle Divinat. c. 2. Necnon qui pyras [p.307] hujusmodi definitis vicibus se circumire et transilire aeoere putant in futuri mail averruncatione, ut tradit Gliucas, p. 2. Aimal. fol. 269, quod ut hodie, ita teste Ovid, lib. iv, Faster.

'Certe ego transilii positas ter in ordine flammas.'"

In a most rare tract, entitled Perth Assembly, 1619, p. 83, probably printed in Scotland, but without printer's name, we read, "Bellarmine telleth us (De Reliquiis, c. 4), Ignis accendi solet ad Isetitiam significandam etiam in rebus prophanis, that fire useth to be kindled even in civil and profane things. Scaliger calleth the candels and torches lightened upon Midsomer Even, the foote steps of auncient gentility " De Emendat. Temper, lib. vii. p. 713.

Stow, in his Survey of London, tells us, "that on the vigil of St. John Baptist, every man's door being shadowed with green birch,176 long fennel, St. John's wort,177 orpine, white [p.308] lilies and such like, garnished upon with garlands of beautiful flowers, had also lamps of glass, with oil burning in them all the night. Some," he adds, "hung out branches of iron, curiously wrought, containing hundreds of lamps lighted at once." He mentions also bonefires in the streets, every man bestowing wood and labour (without any notice taken of bones) towards them. He seems, however, to hint that they were kindled on this occasion to purify the ail."

In a most curious sermon preached at Blandford Forum, Dorsetshire, Jan. 17, 15/0, by William Kethe, minister, and dedicated to Ambrose Earl of Warwick, 8vo. p. 18, speaking of the Jews, he says, "for the synnes they daylie committed, they would be very busie in oifryng sacrifices and exercising themselves in ceremonies;" adding, "a lyke kynde of policie was practised by the Papistes in the tyme of Poperie (in England) to bynde God to forgeve them theyr sinnes. For whereas, in the tyme of Christmasse, the disorders were marvelous in those dayes (and how it is now God seeth), at Candlemasse, which some counte the ende of Christmasse, the Papistes would be even with God, by the tyme they had offered hym a bribe, and such a bribe (beyng a candle or taper) as a very meane officer would take foule scorne of, though he could do a man but small pleasure in his sute. Shroft Tuesday was a day of great glottonie, surfetting, and dronkennes, but by Ashe Wensday at night, they thought God to be in their debt. On Good Friday they offered unto Christ egges and bacon, to be in hys favour till Easter Day was past. The sinnes committed betwene Easter and Whytsontyde they were fullye discharged by the pleasaunt walkes and processyons in the rogyng, I should say Rogation Weeke. What offences soever happened from that tyme to Midsommer, the fumes of the fiers dedicated to John, Peter, and Thomas Becket the traytor, consumed them. And as for all disorders from that tyme to the begynnyng of Christmasse agayne, they were in this countrey all roonge away, upon All Halloun Day and All Soule's Day, at night last past." He adds, at page 20, "So sayth God to the brybyng Papistes, who requireth these thynges at your handes whiche I never commaunded, as your candles at Candlemasse, your Popish penaunce on Ash Wensday, your egges and bacon on Good Friday, your gospelles at superstitious crosses, decked lyke idols, your fires at Midsom- [p.309] mer, and your ringyng at Allhallountide for all Christen soules? I require, sayth God, a sorrowful and repentaunt hart ; to be mercyfull to the poore," &c.

In a Royal Household Account, communicated by Craven Ord, of the Exchequer, I find the following article: "23 June, 8 Hen. VII. Item, to the making of the Bonefuyer on Middesomer Eve, xs." [In a MS. at the Rolls House, A. v. 15, dated July 1st, 1 Hen. VIII., "Item, to the pages of the hall, for makyng of the Kinges bonefyre upon Mydsomer evyn, xs."]

Douce says he does not know whether Fraunce, in the following passage in his Countesse of Pembroke's Ivy Church, tdludes to the Midsummer Eve fires:

"A most mighty Pales, which still bar'st love to the country
And poore countrey folk, hast thou forgotten Amyntas,
Now, whenas other gods have all forsaken Amyntas?
Thou on whose feast-day bonefires were made by Amyntas,
And quyte leapt over by the bouncing dauncer Amyntas?
Thou for whose feast-dayes great cakes ordayned Amyntas,
Supping mylk with cakes, a- -'ing mylk to the bonefyre?"

The learned Moresin178 appears to have been of opinion that the custom of leaping over these fires is a vestige of the ordeal, where to be able to pass through fires with safety was held to be an indication of innocence.179 To strengthen the probability of this conjecture, we may observe that not only the young and vigorous, but even those of grave characters used to leap over them, and there was an interdiction of ecclesiastical [p.310] authority to deter clergymen from this superstitious instance of agility.

In the Appendix No. II. to Pennant's Tour, Shaw, in his Account of Elgin and the Shire of Murray, tells us, "that in the middle of June, farmers go round their corn with burning torches, in memory of the Cerealia."

Every Englishman has heard of the "dance round our coalfire," which receives illustration from the probably ancient practice of dancing round the fires in our Inns of Court (and perhaps other halls in great men's houses). This practice was still in 1733 observed at an entertainment at the Inner Temple Hall, on Lord Chancellor Talbot's taking leave of the house, when "the master of the revels took the chancellor by the hand, and he, Mr. Page, who with the judges, Serjeants, and benchers, danced round the coal fire, according to the old ceremony, three times; and all the times the ancient song, with music, was sung by a man in a bar gown." See Wynne's Eunomus, iv. 107. This dance is ridiculed in the dance in the Rehearsal.

Mr. Douce has a curious French print, entitled "L'este le Feu de la St. Jean;" Mariette ex. In the centre is the fire made of wood, piled up very regularly, and having a tree stuck in the midst of it. Young men and women are represented dancing round it hand in hand. Herbs are stuck in their hats and caps, and garlands of the same surround their waists, or are slung across their shoulders. A boy is represented carrying a large bough of a tree. Several spectators are looking on. The following lines are at the bottom:

"Que de feux bruians dans les airs!
Qu'ils font une douce harmonic!
Redouhlons cette melodic
Par nos dances, par nos concerts!"

The sixth Council of Constantinople, A.D. 680, by its 65th canon (cited by Prynne in his Histriomastix, p. 585), has the following interdiction: "those bonefires that are kindled by certaine people on new moones before their shops and houses, over which also they are ridiculously and foolishly to ]eape, by a certaine antient custome, we command them from henceforth to cease. Whoever therefore shall doe any such thing; if he be a clergyman, let him be deposed; if a layman, let him be excommunicated; for in the Fourth Book of the Kings, it is thus written, 'And Manasseh built an altar to all the [p.311] hoast of heaven, in the two courts of the Lord's house, and made his children to passe through the fire,'" &c. Prynne observes upon this: "Bonefires, therefore, had their originall from this idolatrous custome, as this General Councell hath defined; therefore all Christians should avoid them." And the Synodus Francica under Pope Zachary, A.D. 742, cited ut supra, p. 587, inhibits "those sacrilegious fires which they call Nedfri (or bonefires), and all other observations of the Pagans whatsoever."

"Leaping o'er a Midsummer bonefire" is mentioned amongst other games in the Garden of Delight, 1658, p. 76. A clergyman of Devonshire informed me that, in that county, the custom of making bonfires on Midsummer Eve, and of leaping over them, still continues. In the Statistical Account of Scotland, xxi. 145, parish of Mongahitter, it is said: "The Midsummer Even fire, a relic of Druidism, was kindled in some parts of this county."

The subsequent extract from the ancient Calendar of the Romish Church, so often cited in this work, shows us what doings there used to be at Rome on the Eve and Day of St. John the Baptist.


"23. The Vigil of the Nativity of John the Baptist
        Spices are given at vespers. Fires are lighted up.
        A girl with a little drum that proclaims the garland.
        Boys are dressed in girls cloaths.
        Carols to the liberal; imprecations against the avaritious
        Waters are swum in during the night, and are brought
        in vessels that hang for purposes of divination.
        Fern in great estimation with the vulgar, on account of its seed.
        Herbs of different kinds are sought with many ceremonies.
        Girl's thistle is gathered, and an hundred crosses by the same.
24. The Nativity of John the Baptist. Dew and new leaves in estimation.
        The vulgar solstice."180

[p.312] Monsieur Bergerac, in his Satyrical Characters and Handsome Descriptions, in Letters, translated out of the French by a Person of Honour, 1658, p. 45, puts into the mouth of a magician the following very curious catalogue of superstitions on the Continent: "I teach the shepherd the woolf's paternoster, and to the cunning men how to turn the sieve. I send St. Hermes fire to the marches and rivers, to drown travellers. I make the fairies to dance by moonelight. I encourage the gamesters to look under the gallows for the foure of clubs. I send at midnight the ghosts out of the churchyard, wrapt in a sheet, to demand of their heires the performance of those vows and promises they made to them at their deaths. I command the spirits to haunt the uninhabited castles, and to strangle those that come to lodge there, till some resolute fellow compels them to discover to him the treasure. I make those that I will enrich find hidden wealth. I cause the thieves to burn candles of dead men's grease to lay the hoasts asleep, while they rob their houses. I give the flying money, that returnes again to the pocket after 'tis spent. I give those annulets to footmen that enable them to go two hundred miles a day. 'Tis I, that invisible, tumble the dishes and bottles up and down the house without breaking or spoiling them. I teach old women to cure a feaver by words. I waken the country fellow on St. John's eve to gather his hearb, fasting and in silence. I teach the witches to take the form of woolves and eate children, and when any one hath cut off one of their legs (which prove to be a man's arme), I forsake them when they are discovered, and leave them in the power of justice. I send to discontented persons a tall black man, who makes them promises of great riches, and other felicities, if they'll give themselves to him. I blind them that take contracts of him, and when they demand thirty years time, I [p.313] make them see the (3) before the (0) which I have placed after. 'Tis I that strangle those that when they have called me up, give me an haire, an old shoe, or a straw. I take away from those dedicated churches the stones that have not been paid for. I make the witches seem to those that are invited to Sabat, nothing but a troope of cats, of which Marcou (a gib-cat) is prince. I send all the confederates to the offering, and give them the goates taile (seated on a joint-stoole) to kisse. I treat them splendidly, but give them no salt to their meat; and if any stranger, ignorant in the customes, gives God thanks, I cause all things to vanish, and leave him five hundred miles from his owne home, in a desart full of nettles and thornes. I send to old letchers beds succub asses, and to the whorish, incubusses. I convay hob-goblins in shape of a long piece of marble, to lye by those that went to bed without making the signe of the crosse. I teach negromancers to destroy their enemies by making a little image in waxe, which they throwing into the fire, or pricking, the original is sensible of those torments that they expose the image to. I make witches insensible in those parts where the ram hath set his seale. I give a secret virtue to nolite fieri, when 'tis said backwards, that it hinders the butter from coming. I teach husbandmen to lay under the grounds of that sheep-fold which he hath a mind to destroy, a lock of haire, or a toade, with three curses, that destroyes all the sheep that passe over it. I teach the shepherds to tye a bridegroomes point the marriage day, when the priest sayes conjuncgo voj. I give that mony that is found by the leaves of an old oak. I lend rnagitians a familiar that keepes them from undertaking anything without leave from Robin Goodfellow. I teach how to break the charmes of a person bewicht, to kneade the triangular cake of Saint Woolfe, and to give it in almes to the first poore body. I cure sick persons of the hob-thrush, by giving them a blow with a forke just between the two eyes. I make the witches sensible of the blowes that are given them with an elder-stick. I let loose the hobgoblin at the advents of Christmass; and command him to rowle a barrell, or draw a chaine along the streets, that he may wring off their necks that look out at the window. I teach the composition of the charms, seales, talismans, spells, of the magique looking glasses, and of the inchanted figures.


I teach them to find the misseltoe of the new yeare, the wandring hearbs, the gamahely, and the magnetique plaster. I send the goblins, the shod-mule, the spirits, the hob-goblins, the haggs, the night bats, the scraggs, the breake-neckes, the black men and the white women, the fantasms, the apparitions, the sear-crowes, the bug-beares, and the shaddowes: in fine, I am the divel of Vauvert, the Jew-errant, and the grant huntsman of Fountain-bleau Forrest."

Mr. Douce has a curious Dutch mezzotinto, representing one of the months "Junius." "C. Dusart. inv. J. Cole ex Amstelod." There is a young figure (I think a boy dressed in girl's clothes) with a garland of flowers about her head; two rows, seemingly of beads, hang round her neck, and so loosely as to come round a kind of box, which she holds with both hands, perhaps to solicit money. She has long hair flowing down her back and over* her shoulders. A woman is represented bawling near her, holding in her right hand a bough of some plant or tree, pointing out the girl to the notice of the spectators with her left. She has a thrift-box hung before her. Another woman holds the girl's train with her right hand, and lays her left on her shoulder. She too appears to be bawling. The girl herself looks modestly down to the ground. Something like pieces of money hangs in loose festoons on her petticoat.

"Fern-seed," says Grose, "islooked on as having great magical powers, and must be gathered on Midsummer Eve. A person who went to gather it reported that the spirits whisked by his ears, and sometimes struck his hat and other parts of his body; and, at length, when he thought he had got a good quantity of it, and secured it in papers and a box, when he came home he found both empty." [Bovetjinhism Pandaemonium, 1684, gives a narrative of some ladies who say, "We had been told divers times that if we fasted on Midsummer Eve, and then at 12 o'clock at night laid a cloth on the table with bread and cheese, and a cup of the best beer, setting ourselves down as if we were going to eat, and leaving the door of the room open, we should see the persons whom we should afterwards marry, come into the room and drink to us."] Torreblanca, in his Daemonologia, 1623, p. 150, suspects those persons of witchcraft who gather fern-seed on this night: "Vel si reperiantur in nocte S. Joannis colligendo grana [p.315] herbee Faelicis, vulgo Helecho, qua Magi ad maleficia sua utuntur."

A respectable countryman at Heston, in Middlesex, informed me in June, 1793, that, when he was a young man, he was often present at the ceremony of catching the fern-seed at midnight on the eve of St. John Baptist. The attempt, he said, was often unsuccessful, for the seed was to fall into the plate of its own accord, and that too without shaking the plant.

Dr. Rowe, of Launceston, informed me, Oct. 17th, 1790, of some rites with fern-seed which were still observed at that place. "Fern," says Gerard, "is one of those plants which have their seed on the back of the leaf, so small as to escape the sight. Those who perceived that fern was propagated by semination, and yet could never see the seed, were much at a loss for a solution of the difficulty; and, as wonder always endeavours to augment itself, they ascribed to fern-seed many strange properties, some of which the rustick virgins have not yet forgotten or exploded." This circumstance relative to fern-seed is alluded to in Beaumont and Fletcher's Fair Maid of the Inn:

"Had you Gyges' ring?
Or the herb that gives Invisibility ?"
Again, in Ben Jonson's New Inn:

"I had
No medicine, sir, to go invisible,
No fern-seed in my pocket."181

Again, in Philemon Holland's translation of Pliny, book xxvii. ch. 9: "Of ferae be two kinds, and they beare neither floure nor seed." The ancients, who often paid more attention to received opinions than to the evidence of their senses, believed that fern bore no seed. Our ancestors imagined that this plant produced seed which was invisible. Hence, from an extraordinary mode of reasoning, founded on the fantastic doctrine of signatures, they concluded that they who possessed, the secret of wearing this seed about them would become in- [p.316] visible. This superstition Shakespeare's good sense taught him to ridicule. It was also supposed to seed in the course of a single night, and is called, in Browne's Britannia's Pastorals, 1613,

"The wond'rous one-night-seeding feme."

Absurd as these notions are, they were not wholly exploded in the time of Addison. He laughs at a doctor who was arrived at the knowledge of the green and red dragon, and had discovered the female fern-seed. (Tatler, No. 240.)

In the curious tract, entitled Plaine Percevall the Peacemaker of England, temp. Eliz. 4to. is this passage: "I thinke the mad slave hath tasted on a ferne-stalke, that he walkes so invisible." Butler alludes to this superstitious notion, Hudibras, Part III. Cant. iii. 3, 4:

"That spring like fern, that insect weed,
Equivocally without seed."

Levinus Lemnius tells us: "They prepare fern gathered in the summer solstice, pulled up in a tempestuous night, rue, trifoly, vervain, against magical impostures." English translat. 1658, p. 392. In a most rare little book, entitled a Dialogue or Communication of Two Persons, devysed or set forthe, in the Latin Tonge, by the noble and famose clarke Desiderius Erasmus, intituled, the Pylgremage of pure Devotyon, newly translatyd into Englishe, printed about 1551, is the following curious passage: "Peraventure they ymagyne the symylytude of a tode to be there, evyn as we suppose when we cutte the fearne-stalke there to be an egle, and evyn as chyldren (whiche they see nat indede) in the clowdes, thyuke they see dragones spyttynge fyre, and hylles flammynge with fyre, and armyd men encounterynge."

It was the custom in France, on Midsummer Eve, for the people to carry about brazen vessels, which they use for culinary purposes, and to beat them with sticks for the purpose of making a great noise. A superstitious notion prevailed also with the common people, that if it rains about this time, the filberts will be spoiled that season.182


In Bucelini Histories Universalis Nucleus, 1659, there is a calendar entitled "Catendarium Astronomicum priscum," with "Observations rusticae" at the end of every month, among which I find the following: "Pluvias S. Joannis 40 dies pluvii sequuntur, certa nucum pernicies." And again: "2 Julii pluvia 40 dies similes conducit."

Bourne cites from the Trullan Council a singular species of divination on St. John Baptist's Eve: "On the 23d of June, which is the Eve of St. John Baptist, men and women were accustomed to gather together in the evening by the sea-side, or in some certain houses, and there adorn a girl, who was her parents' first-begotten child, after the manner of a bride. Then they feasted and leaped after the manner of Bacchanals, and danced and shouted as they were wont to do on their holy-days: after this they poured into a narrow-neck' d vessel some of the sea-water, and put also into it certain things belonging to each of them. Then, as if the devil gifted the girl with the faculty of telling future things, they would enquire with a loud voice about the good or evil fortune that should attend them: upon this the girl would take out of the vessel the first thing that came to hand, and shew it, and give it to the owner, who, upon receiving it, was so foolish as to imagine himself wiser, as to the good or evil fortune that should attend him." (The Words of the Scholiast, Can. 65. in Syn. Trul. in Bals. P. 440. Bourne, chap, xx.)

Midsummer-eve festivities are still kept up in Spain. "At Alcala, in Andalusia," says Dalrymple, in his Travels through Spain and Portugal, "at twelve o'clock at night, we were much alarmed with a violent knocking at the door. 'Quein es?' says the landlord; 'Isabel de San Juan,' replied a voice: he got up, lighted the lamp, and opened the door, when five or six sturdy fellows, armed with fusils, and as many women, came in. After eating a little bread, and drinking some brandy, they took their leave; and we found that, it being the Eve of St. John, they were a set of merry girls with their lovers, going round the village to congratulate their friends on the approaching festival." A gentleman who had resided long in Spain informed me that in the villages they light up fires on St. John's Eve, as in England.

The boys of Eton School had anciently their bonfires at Midsummer, on St. John's Day. Bonfires were lately, or still [p.318] continue to be made, on Midsummer Eve, in the villages of Gloucestershire.

In the Ordinary of the Company of Cooks at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1575, I find the following clause: "And alsoe that the said Felloship of Cookes shall yearelie of theire owne cost and charge mainteigne and keep the bone-fires, according to the auntient custome of the saidtowneon the Sand-hill; that is to say, one bone-fire on the Even of the Feast of the Nativitie of St. John Baptist, commonly called Midsomer Even, and the other on the Even of the Feast of St. Peter the Apostle, if it shall please the maior and aldermen of the said towne for the time being to have the same bone-fires." In Dekker's Seaven deadly Sinnes of London, 1606, speaking of "Candle-light, or the Nocturnall Triumph," he says: "what expectation was there of his coming? Setting aside the bonfiers, there is not more triumphing on Midsommer Night." In Langley's Polydore Vergil, f. 103, we read: "Our Midsomer bonefyres may seme to have comme of the sacrifices of Ceres, Goddesse of Corne, that men did solemnise with fyres, trusting thereby to have more plenty and aboundance of corne."

They still prevail also, on the same occasion, in the northern parts of England.183 Pennant's Manuscript, which I have so often cited, informs us that small bonfires are made on the Eve of St. John Baptist, at Darowen, in Wales. Hutchinson, in his History of Northumberland, ii. 15, says it is usual to raise fires on the tops of high hills, and in the villages, and sport and dance around them. On Whiteborough (a large tumulus with a fosse round it), on St. Stephen's Down, near Launceston, in Cornwall, as I learnt at that place in October 1790, there was formerly a great bonfire on Midsummer Eve: a large summer pole was fixed in the centre, round which the fuel was heaped up. It had a large bush on the top of it.184 Round this were parties of wrestlers contending for small prizes. An honest countryman informed me, who had often [p.319] been present at these merriments, that at one of them an evil spirit had appeared in the shape of a black dog, since which none could wrestle, even in jest, without receiving hurt; in consequence of which the wrestling was, in a great measure, laid aside. The rustics hereabout believe that giants are buried in these tumuli, and nothing would tempt them to be so sacrilegious as to disturb their bones. [The custom of lighting fires on Midsummer Eve is still observed in many parts of Cornwall. On these occasions, the fishermen and others dance about them, and sing appropriate songs. The following has been sung for a long series of years at Penzance and the neighbourhood, and is taken down from the recitation of a leader of a west country choir, as communicated by Mr. Sandys to Dixon's Ancient Poems, p. 189:

"The bonny month of June is crowned
With the sweet scarlet rose;
The groves and meadows all around
With lovely pleasure flows

"As I walked out to yonder green,
One evening so fair,
All where the fair maids may be seen
Playing at the bonfire.

"Hail! lovely nymphs, be not too coy,
But freely yield your charms;
Let love inspire with mirth and joy,
In Cupid's lovely arms.

"Bright Luna spreads its light around,
The gallants for to cheer,
As they lay sporting on the ground,
At the fair June bonfire.

"All on the pleasant dewy mead,
They shared each other's charms,
Till Phoebus' beams began to spread,
And coming day alarms.

"Whilst larks and linnets sing so sweet,
To cheer each lovely swain,
Let each prove true unto their love,
And so farewell the plain."]

Hutchinson, in his History of Northumberland, mentions another custom used on this day; it is, "to dress out stools [p.320] with a cushion of flowers. A layer of clay is placed on the stool, and therein is stuck, with great regularity, an arrangement of all kinds of flowers, so close as to form a beautiful cushion. These are exhibited at the doors of houses in the villages, and at the ends of streets and cross lanes of larger towns" (this custom is very prevalent in the city of Durham), "where the attendants beg money from passengers, to enable them to have an evening feast and dancing." He adds: "This custom is evidently derived from the Ludi Compitalii of the Romans; this appellation was taken from the compit. or cross lanes, where they were instituted and celebrated by the multitude assembled before the building of Rome. Servius Tullius revived this festival after it had been neglected for many years. It was the feast of the lares, or household gods, who presided as well over houses as streets. This mode of adorning the seat or couch of the lares was beautiful, and the idea of reposing them on aromatic flowers and beds of roses was excellent. We are not told there was any custom among the Romans of strangers or passengers offering gifts. Our modern usage of all these old customs terminates in seeking to gain money for a merry night."

Dr. Plott, in his History of Oxfordshire, p. 349, mentions a custom at Burford in that county (yet within memory), of making a dragon yearly, and carrying it up and down the town in great jollity, on Midsummer Eve; to which, he says, not knowing for what reason, they added a giant. It is curious to find Dr. Plott attributing the cause of this general custom to a particular event. In his Oxfordshire, f. 203, he tells us "that, about the year 750," a battle was fought near Burford, perhaps on the place still called Battle-Edge, west of the town towards Upton, between Cuthred or Cuthbert, a tributary king of the West Saxons, and Ethelbald, king of Mercia, whose insupportable exactions the former king not being able to endure, he came into the field against Ethelbald, met, and overthrew him there, winning his banner, whereon was depicted a golden dragon: in remembrance of which victory he supposes the custom was, in all likelihood, first instituted. So far from being confined to Burford, we find our dragon flying on this occasion in Germany: thus Aubanus, p. 270: "Ignus fit, cui orbiculi quidam lignei perforati imponuntur, qui quuni inflammantur, flexilibus virgis praefixi, [p.321] arte et vi in aerem supra Moganum amnern excutiuntur: Draconem igneum volare putant, qui prius non viderunt."

The dragon is one of those shapes which fear has created to itself. They who gave it life, have, it seems, furnished it also with the feelings of animated nature: hut our modern philosophers are wiser than to attribute any noxious qualities in water to dragon's sperm. Gibbon, in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ed. 1788, vi. 392, speaking of the times of the British Arthur, tells us that "Pilgrimage and the holy wars introduced into Europe the specious miracles of Arabian magic; fairies and giants, flying dragons, &c. were blended with the more simple fictions of the west."

It appears from the Husbandman's Practice, or Prognostication for ever, 1664, p. 105, that a kind of fiery meteors in the air were called burning dragons. In a curious book, entitled A Wonderful History of all the Storms, Hurricanes, Earthquakes, 1704, p. 66, is the following account of "Fiery Dragons and Fiery Drakes appearing in the air, and the cause of them. These happen when the vapours of a dry and fiery nature are gathered in a heap in the air, which ascending to the region of cold, are forcibly beat back with a violence, and by a vehement agitation kindled into a flame; then the highest part which was ascending, being more subtile and thin, appeareth as a dragon's neck smoaking; for that it was lately bowed in the repulse, or made crooked, to represent the dragon's belly; the last part, by the same repulse, turned upwards, maketh the tail, appearing smaller, for that it is both further off, and also the cloud bindeth it, and so with impetuous motion it flies terribly in the air, and sometimes turneth to and fro, and where it meeteth with a cold cloud it beateth it back, to the great terror of them that behold it. Some call it a fire-drake, others have fancied it is the devil, and in popish times of ignorance, various superstitious discourses have gone about it." In a rare work by Thomas Hill, entitled a Contemplation of Mysteries, printed about 1590, is a chapter "Of the Flying Dragon in the Ayre, what the same is" (with a neat wooden print of it). Here he tells us: "The flying dragon is when a fume kindled appeereth bended, and is in the middle wrythed like the belly of a dragon: but in the fore part for the narrownesse, it representeth the figure of the neck, from whence the sparkes are [p.322] breathed or forced forth with the same breathing." He concludes his wretched attempt to explain it, with attributing his phenomenon to the "pollicie of devils and inchantments of the wicked." Asserting that "in the yere 1532, in manye countries were dragons crowned scene flying by flocks or companies in the ayre, having swines snowtes; and sometimes were there scene foure hundred flying togither in a companie."

In the Statistical Account of Scotland, 1793, vi. 467, parish of New-Machar, Presbytery and Synod of Aberdeen, we read: "In the end of November and beginning of December last (1792), many of the country people observed very uncommon phenomena in the air (which they call dragons) of a red fiery colour, appearing in the north, and flying rapidly towards the east, from which they concluded, and their conjectures were right, a course of loud winds and boisterous weather would follow." In the same work, xiii. 99, parish of Strathmartin, county of Forfar, we read: "In the north end of the parish is a large stone, called Martin's Stone. Tradition says that, at the place where the stone is erected, a dragon, which had devoured nine maidens (who had gone out on a Sunday evening, one after another, to fetch spring-water to their father), was killed by a person called Martin, and that hence it was called Martin's Stone." Borlase tells us, in his Antiquities of Cornwall, p. 137, that in most parts of Wales, and throughout all Scotland, and in Cornwall, we find it a common opinion of the vulgar, that about Midsummer Eve (tho' in the time they do not all agree), it is usual for snakes to meet in companies, and that by joyning heads together and hissing, a kind of bubble is form'd, which the rest, by continual hissing, blows on till it passes quite through the body, and then it immediately hardens, and resembles a glass-ring, which, whoever finds (as some old women and children are persuaded) shall prosper in all his undertakings. The rings thus generated are call'd Gleinau Nadroeth ; in English, Snake-stones."' In the printed Accounts of the Churchwardens of St. Margaret, Westminster, (Illustrations of the Manners and Expenses of Ancient Times in England, 1797, p. 3,) under the year 1491, are the following items: "Item, Received of the Churchwardens of St. Sepulcre's for the Dragon, 2s. 8d. Item, Paid for dressing of the Draff on and for packthread, id. Ibid. p. 4, under [p.323] 1502: Item, to Michell Wosebyche for making of viij. Dragons, 6s. 5d. In King's Vale Royal of England, p. 208, we learn that Henry Hardware, Esq., mayor of Chester in 1599, "for his time, altered many antient customs, as the shooting for the sheriff's breakfast; the going of the Giants at Midsommer, &c. and would not suffer any playes, bear-baits, or bull-bait." Ormerod, in his History of Cheshire, i. 210, says: "1677, June 7. The antient Midsummer shows ordered to be abolished at Chester from that time forward." Puttenham, in his Arte of English Poesie, 1589, p. 128, speaks of "Midsommer pageants in London, where, to make the people wonder, are set forth great and uglie gyants, marching as if they were alive, and armed at all points,185 but within they are stuffed full of browne paper and tow, which the shrewd boyes, underpeeping, do guilefully discover, and turne to a greate derision." In Smith's Latin poem, De Urbis Londini Incendio, 1667, the carrying about of pageants once a year is confirmed:


"Te jam fata vocant, sublitnis, curia, moles;
Purpureus praetor qua sua jura debit.
Qua solitus toties lautis accumbere mensis,
Annua cum renovat pegmata celsa dies;
Qua senior populus venit, populique senatus,
Donee erant istis prospera fata locis."

And in Marston's play, called the Dutch Courtezan, we read:

"Yet all will scarce make me so high as one of the gyant's stilts that stalks before my Lord Maior's pageants." This circumstance may perhaps explain the origin of the enormous figures still preserved in Guildhall. From the New View of London, ii. 6177, it should appear that the statues of Gog and Magog were renewed in that edifice in 1706. The older figures, however, are noticed by Bishop Hall, in his Satires, who, speaking of an angry poet, says he "makes such faces that mee seemes I see

Some foul Megaera in the tragedie
Threat'ning her twined snakes at Tantales ghost;
Or the grim visage of some frowning post,
The crab-tree porter of the Guild Hall gates,
While he his frightfull beetle elevates.''


Stow mentions the older figures as representations of a Briton and a Saxon. See Pennant's London, 1793, p. 374. See also Malcolm's Londinium Redivivum, iii. 525; and the Picture of London, 1804, p. 131. The giants are thus noticed in the Latin poem, Londini quod reliquum, 1667, p. 7:

"Haud procul, excelsis olini prsetoria pinnis
Surgebant pario raarmore fulsit opus.
Alta duo jEtnei servabant atria fratres.
Praetextaque frequens splenduit aula toga.
Hie populo Augustus reddebat jura senatus,
Et sua praetori sella curulis erat.
Sed neque "Vulcanum juris reverentia cepit,
Tuta satellitio nee fuit aula suo.
Vidit, et exurgas, dixit, speciosior aula
Atque frequens solita curia lite strepat."

Bragg says, in his Observer, Dec, 25, 1706, "I was hemmed in, like a wrestler in Moorfields; the cits begged the colours taken at Ramilies, to put up in Guildhall. When I entered the Hall, I protest, Master, I never saw so much joy in the countenances of the people in my life, as in the cits on this occasion; nay, the very giants stared at the colours with all the eyes they had, and smiled as well as they could."

In Grosley's Tour to London, translated by Nugent, 1772, ii. 88, we find the following passage: "The English have, in general, rambling tastes for the several objects of the polite arts, which does not even exclude the, Gothic: it still prevails, not only in ornaments of fancy, but even in some modern buildings. To this taste they are indebted for the preservation of the two giants in Guildhall. These giants, in comparison of which the Jacquemard of St. Paul's at Paris is a bauble, seem placed there for no other end but to frighten children: the better to answer this purpose, care has frequently been taken to renew the daubing on their faces and arms. There might be some reason for retaining those monstrous figures if they were of great antiquity, or if, like the stone which served as the first throne to the kings of Scotland, and is carefully preserved at Westminster, the people looked upon them as the palladium of the nation ; but they have nothing to recommend them, and they only raise, at first [p.325] view, a surprise in foreigners, who must consider them as a production in which both Danish and Saxon barbarism are happily combined." In the Churchwardens' Accounts of St. Andrew Hubbard parish, in the city of London, A.D. 1533 to 1535, we have: "Receyvyd for the Jeyantt xixd. Receyvyd for the Jeyantt ijs. viijd," perhaps alluding to some parochial Midsummer pageant.

If the following Scottish custom, long ago forgotten in the city of Edinburgh, is not to be referred to the Midsummer Eve festivities, I know not in what class to rank it. Warton, in his History of English Poetry, ii. 310, speaking of Sir David Lyndesay, a Scottish poet, under James the Fifth, tells us: "Among ancient peculiar customs now lost, he mentions a superstitious idol annually carried about the streets of Edinburgh:

"Of Edinburgh the great idolatrie,
And manifest abominatioun!
On thare feist-day, all creature may see.
Thay beir one aid stoic-image throw the toun,
With talbrone, trumpet, shalme, and clarioun,
Quhilk has bene usit mony one yeir bigone,
With priestis and freris, into processioun,
Siclyke as Bal was borne through Babilon."

"He also speaks of the people flocking to be cured of various infirmities, to the auld rude, or cross of Korrail." Warton explains "aid stok-image" to mean an old image made of a stock of wood: as he does "talbrone" by tabor. The above passage is from Sir David Lyndesay's Monarchic.

On the subject of giants, it may be curious to add, that Dr. Milner, in his History of Winchester, 1798, p. 8, speaking of the gigantic statue that inclosed a number of human victims, among the Gauls, gives us this new intelligence concerning it: "In different places on the opposite side of the channel, were we are assured that the rites in question prevailed, amongst the rest at Dunkirk and Douay, it has been an immemorial custom, on a certain holiday in the year, to build up an immense figure of basket-work and canvas, to the height of forty or fifty feet, which, when properly painted and dressed, represented a huge giant, which also contained a number of living men within it, who raised the same, and caused it to move from place to place. The popular tradition [p.326] was, that this figure represented a certain Pagan giant, who used to devour the inhabitants of these places, until he was killed by the patron saint of the same. Have not we here a plain trace of the horrid sacrifices of Druidism offered up to Saturn, or Moloch, and of the beneficial effect of Christianity in destroying the same?"

In a most rare poem, entitled London's Artillery, by Richard Niccolls, 1616, p. 97, is preserved the following description of the great doings anciently used in the streets of London on the Vigils of St. Peter and St. John Baptist, "when," says our author, "that famous marching-watch, consisting of two thousand, beside the standing watches, were maintained in this citie. It continued from temp. Henrie III. to the 31st of Henry VIII., when it was laid down by licence from the king, and revived (for that year only) by Sir Thomas Gresham, Lord Mayor, 2 Edw. VI."'

"That once againe they seek and imitate
Their ancestors, in kindling those faire lights
Which did illustrate these two famous nights.
When drums and trumpets sounds, which do delight
A cheareful heart, waking the drowzie night,
Did fright the wandring moone, who from her spheare
Beholding earth heneath, lookt pale with feare,
To see the aire appearing all on flame,
Kindled by thy bon-fires, and from the same
A thousand sparkes disperst throughout the skie,
Which like to wandring starres about did flie;
Whose holesome heate, purging the aire, consumes
The earthe's unwholesome vapors, fogges, and fumes.
Thewakefull shepheard by his flocke in field,
With wonder at that time" farre off beheld
The wanton shine of thy tryumphant fiers,
Playing upon the tops of thy tall spiers:
Thy goodly buildings, that till then did hide
Their rich array, opened their windowes wide,
Where kings, great peeres, and many a noble dame,
Whose bright, pearle-glittering robes did mocke the flame
Of the night's burning lights did sit to see
How every senator, in his degree,
Adorn'd with shining gold and purple weeds,
And stately mounted on rich -trapped steeds,
Their guard attending, through the streets did ride
Before their foot-bands, graced with glittering pride
Of rich-guilt armes, whose glory did present
A sunshine to the eye, as if it ment,


Amongst the cresset lights shot up on hie,
To chase darke night for ever from the skie:
While in the streets the stickelers to and fro,
To keepe decorum, still did come and go;
Where tables set were plentifully spread,
And at each doore neighbor with neighbor fed;
Where modest mirth, attendant at the feast,
With plentye, gave content to every guest;
Where true good will crown'd cups with fruitfull wine,
And neighbors in true love did fast combine ;
Where the lawes picke purse, strife 'twixt friend and friend,
By reconcilement happily tooke end.
A happy time, when men knew how to use
The gifts of happy peace, yet not abuse
Their quiet rest with rust of ease, so farre
As to forget all discipline of warre."

A note says: "King Henrie the Eighth, approving this marching ivatch, as an auncient commendable custome of this eittie, lest it should decay thro' neglect or covetousnesse, in the first yeare of his reigne came privately disguised in one of his guard's coates into Cheape, on Midsommer Even; and seeing the same at that time performed to his content, to countenance it, and make it more glorious by the presence of his person, came after on St. Peter's Even, with Queen Katherine, attended by a noble traine, riding in royall state to the King's Heade in Cheape, there to behold the same; and after, anno 15 of his reigne, Christerne, King of Denmarke, with his Queene, being then in England, was conducted through the cittie to the King's-heade, in Cheape, there to see the same."

Douce's MS. notes say, "It appears that a watch was formerly kept in the city of London on Midsummer Eve, probably to prevent any disorders that might be committed on the above occasion. It was laid down in the 20th year of Henry VIII. See Hall's Chronicle at the latter end of the year. The Chronicles of Stow and Byddell assign the sweating sickness as a cause for discontinuing the watch." Niccols says, the watches on Midsummer and St. Peter's Eve were laid down by licence from the king, "for that the cittie had then bin charged with the leavie of a muster of 15,000 men." We read in Byddell's Chronicle, under the year 1527: "This yere was the sweatinge sicknesse, for the which cause there [p.328] was no watche at Mydsommer." See also Grafton's Chronicle, p. 1290, in ann. 1547, when the watch appears to have been kept both on St. John Baptist's Eve and on that of St. Peter.

[It was again prohibited in 1539, and appears to have been discontinued from that period till 1547, when it was revived under the mayoralty of Sir John Gresham, with more than usual splendour. Mr. Gage Rokewode quotes the following entry from Lady Long's household book, relating to this ceremony: "Paid to xxx. men for weying of your La: harneys on Midsommer eve and St. Peter's eve, that is to say x.s. to my Lord Mayor and xx. to Sir Roland Hill."]

Sir John Smythe's "Instructions, Observations, and Orders Militarie," 1595, p. 129, say: "An ensigne-bearer in the field, carrieng his ensigne displayed, ought to carrie the same upright, and never, neither in towne nor field, nor in sport, nor earnest, to fetche flourishes about his head with his ensigne-staff, and taffata of his ensigne, as the ensigne-bearer s of London do upon Midsommer Night."

"In Nottingham," says an old authority quoted by Deering, p. 123, "by an antient custom, they keep yearly a general watch every Midsummer Eve at night, to which every inhabitant of any ability sets forth a man, as well voluntaries as those who are charged with arms, with such munition as they have; some pikes, some muskets, calivers, or other guns, some partisans, holberts, and such as have armour send their servants in their armour. The number of these are yearly almost two hundred, who at sun-setting meet on the Row, the most open part of the town, where the Mayor's Serjeant at Mace gives them an oath, the tenor whereof followeth, in these words: 'They shall well and truly keep this town till to-morrow at the sun-rising; you shall come into no house without license or cause reasonable. Of all manner of casualties, of fire, of crying of children, you shall due warning make to the parties, as the case shall require. You shall due search make of all manner of affrays, bloudsheds, outcrys, and all other things that be suspected, &c. Which done, they all march in orderly array through the principal parts of the town, and then they are sorted into several companies, and designed to several parts of the town, where they are to keep the watch until the sun dismiss them in the morning. In [p.329] this business the fashion is for every watchman to wear a garland, made in the fashion of a crown imperial, bedeck'd with flowers of various kinds, some natural, some artificial, bought and kept for that purpose, as also ribbans, jewels, and, for the better garnishing whereof, the townsmen use the day before to ransack the gardens of all the gentlemen within six or seven miles about Nottingham, besides what the town itself affords them, their greatest ambition being to outdo one an- other in the bravery of their garlands. This custom is now quite left off. It used to be kept in this town even so lately
as the reign of King Charles I."

Plays appear to have been acted publicly about this time. We read in King's Vale Royal, p. 88, that in 1575, "Sir John Savage, maior, caused the Popish Plays of Chester to be played the Sunday, Munday, Tuesday, and Wednesday after Mid-sommer Day, in contempt of an Inhibition, and the Primat's Letters fromYork, and from the Earl of Huntingdon." In the same work, p. 199, it is said: "Anno 1563, upon the  Sunday after Midsummer Day, the History of Eneas and Queen Dido was play'd in the Roods Eye; and were set out by one Willliam Croston, gent, and one Mr. Man, on which triumph there was made two forts and shipping on the water, besides many horsemen, well armed and appointed."

In Lyte's translation of Dodoen's Herball, 1578, p. 39, we read: "Orpyne. The people of the countrey delight much to set it in pots and shelles on Midsummer Even, or upon timber, slattes, or trenchers, daubed with clay, and so to set or hang it up in their houses, where as it remayneth greene a long season and groweth, if it be sometimes oversprinckled with water. It floureth most commonly in August." The common name for orpine plants was that of Midsummer Men. In one of the tracts printed about 1800 at the Cheap Repository, was one entitled Tawney Rachel, or the Fortune-Teller, said to have been written by Hannah More. Among many other superstitious practices of poor Sally Evans, one of the heroines of the piece, we learn that "she would never go to bed on Midsummer Eve without sticking up in her room the well-known plant called Midsummer Men, as the bending of the leaves to the right, or to the left, would never [p.330] fail to tell her whether her lover was true or false." Spenser thus mentions orpine:

"Cool violets, and orpine growing still."

It is thus elegantly alluded to in the Cottage Girl, a poem "written on Midsummer Eve, 1786:"

"The rustic maid invokes her swain,
And hails, to pensive damsels dear,
This Eve, though direst of the year.
Oft on the shrub she casts her eye,
That spoke her true-love's secret sigh;
Or else, alas! too plainly told
Her true-love's faithless heart was cold."

On the 22d of January, 1801, a small gold ring, weighing eleven pennyweights seventeen grains and a half, was exhibited to the Society of Antiquaries by John Topham, Esq. It had been found by the Rev. Dr. Bacon, of Wakefield, in a ploughed field near Cawood, in Yorkshire, and had for a device two orpine plants joined by a true-love knot, with this motto above: "Ma fiance velt;" i.e. My sweetheart wills, or is desirous. The stalks of the plants were bent to each other, in token that the parties represented by them were to come together in marriage.186 The motto under the ring was, "Joye 1'amour feu." From the form of the letters it appeared to have been a ring of the fifteenth century.

The orpine plant also occurs among the following love divinations on Midsummer Eve, preserved in the Connoisseur, No. 56: "I and my two sisters tried the dumb-cake together: you must know, two must make it, two bake it, two break it, and the third put it under each of their pillows (but you must not speak a word all the time), and then you will dream of the man you are to have. This we did: and to be sure I did nothing all night but dream of Mr. Blossom. The same night, exactly at twelve o'clock, I sowed hemp-seed in our back yard, and said to myself, 'Hemp-seed I sow, Hempseed I hoe, and he that is my true-love come after me and mow.' Will you believe me? I looked back, and saw him [p.331] behind me, as plain as eyes could see him. After that, I took a clean shift and wetted it, and turned it wrong-side out, and hung it to the fire upon the back of a chair; and very likely my sweetheart would have come and turned it right again (for I heard his step), but I was frightened, and could not help speaking, which broke the charm. I likewise stuck up two Midsummer Men, one for myself, and one for him. Now if his had died away, we should never have come together, but I assure you his blowed and turned to mine. Our maid Betty tells me, that if I go backwards, without speaking a word, into the garden, upon Midsummer Eve, and gather a rose, and keep it in a clean sheet of paper, without looking at it till Christmas Day, it will be as fresh as in June; and if I then stick it in my bosom, he that is to be my husband will come and take it out."

The same number of the Connoisseur fixes the time for watching in the church porch on Midsummer Eve: "I am sure my own sister Hetty, who died just before Christmas, stood in the church porch last Midsummer Eve, to see all that were to die that year in our parish; and she saw her own apparition." This superstition was more generally practised, and, I believe, is still retained in many parts on the Eve of St. Mark. (See p. 193.) Cleland, however, in his Institution of a young Nobleman," has a chapter entitled "A Remedie against Love," in which he thus exclaims: "Beware likewise of these fearful superstitions, as to watch upon St. John's evening, and the first Tuesdaye in the month of Marche, to conjure the moon, to lie upon your backe having your ears stopped with laurel leaves, and to fall asleepe, not thinking of God, and such like follies, all forged by the infernal Cyclops and Plutoe's servants."

Grose tells us that any person fasting on Midsummer Eve, and sitting in the church porch, will at midnight see the spirits of the persons of that parish who will die that year, come and knock at the church door, in the order and succession in which they will die. One of these watchers, there being several in company, fell into a sound sleep, so that he could not be waked. Whilst in this state, his ghost, or spirit, was seen by the rest of his companions knocking at the church door. (See Pandemonium, by R. B.) Aubrey, in his Remains of Gentilisme, mentions this custom on Midsummer Eve [p.332] nearly in the same words with Grose. It is also noticed in the poem of the Cottage Girl, already quoted:

"Now, to relieve her growing fear.
That feels the haunted moment near
When ghosts in chains the church-yard walk,
She tries to steal the time by talk.
But hark ! the church-clock swings around,
With a dead pause, each sullen sound,
And tells the midnight hour is come,
That wraps the groves in spectred gloom!"

On the subject of gathering the rose on Midsummer Eve, we have also the following lines:

"The moss-rose that, at fall of dew,
(Ere eve its duskier curtain drew,)
Was freshly gather'd from its stem,
She values as the ruby gem;
And, guarded from the piercing air,
With all an anxious lover's care,
She bids it, for her shepherd's sake,
Await the new-year's frolic wake
When, faded, in its alter'd hue
She reads the rustic is untrue!
But if it leaves the crimson paint,
Her sick'ning hopes no longer faint.
The rose upon her bosom worn,
She meets him at the peep of morn ;
And, lo! her lips with kisses prest,
He plucks it from her panting breast."

With these, on the sowing of hemp:187

"To issue from beneath the thatch,
With trembling hand she lifts the latch,
And steps, as creaks the feeble door,
With cautious feet, the threshold o'er;
Lest, stumbling on the horse-shoe dim,
Dire spells unsinew ev'ry limb.

Lo! shuddering at the solemn deed,
She scatters round the magic seed,
And thrice repeats, 'The seed I sow,
My true-love's scythe the crop shall mow.
Strait, as her frame fresh horrors freeze,
Her true-love with his scythe she sees.'


And next, she seeks the yew-tree shade,
Where he who died for love is laid;
There binds upon the verdant sod
By many a moon-light fairy trod,
The cowslip and the lily-wreath
She wove, her hawthorn hedge beneath:
And whispering, 'Ah! may Colin prove
As constant as thou wast to love!'
Kisses, with pale lip, full of dread,
The turf that hides his clay-cold head!
At length, her love-sick projects tried,
She gains her cot the lea beside;
And on her pillow, sinks to rest,
With dreams of constant Colin blest."

Grose says: "Any unmarried woman fasting on Midsummer Eve, and at midnight laying a clean cloth, with bread, cheese, and ale, and sitting down as if going to eat, the street-door being left open, the person whom she is afterwards to marry will come into the room and drink to her by bowing; and after filling the glass will leave it on the table, and, making another bow, retire."

[Mother Bunch mentions "the old experiment of the Midsummer shift." It is thus: "My daughters, let seven of you go together on a Midsummer's Eve, just at sun-set, into a silent grove, and gather every one of you a sprig of red sage, and return into a private room, with a stool in the middle: each one having a clean shift turned wrong side outwards, hanging on a line across the room, and let every one lay their sprig of red sage in a clean basin of rose-water set on the stool; which done, place yourselves in a row, and continue until twelve or one o'clock, saying nothing, be what it will you see; for, after midnight, each one's sweetheart or husband that shall be, shall take each maid's sprig out of the rose-water, and sprinkle his love's shift; and those who are so unfortunate as never to be married, their sprigs will not be moved, but in lieu of that, sobs and sighs will be heard. This has been often tried, and never failed 6f its effects." Another edition of Mother Bunch says: "On Midsummer Eve three or four of you must dip your shifts in fair water, then turn them wrong side outwards, and hang them on chairs before the fire, and lay some salt in another chair, and speak not a word. In a short time the likeness of him you are to [p.334] marry will come and turn your smocks, and drink to you; but, if there be any of you will never marry, they will hear a bell, but not the rest."]

Lupton, in his Notable Things, b. i. 59, tells us: "It is certainly and constantly affirmed that on Midsummer Eve there is found, under the root of mugwort, a coal which saves or keeps them safe from the plague, carbuncle, lightning, the quartan ague, and from burning, that bear the same about them: and Mizaldus, the writer hereof, saith, that he doth hear that it is to be found the same day under the root of plantane, which I know to be of truth, for I ham found them the same day under the root of plantane, which is especially and chiefly to be found at noon." In Natural and Artificial Conclusions, by Thomas Hill, 1650, we have: "the vertue of a rare cole, that is to be found but one houre in the day, and one day in the yeare. Diverse authors affirm concerning the verity and vertue of this cole; viz. that it is onely to be found upon Midsummer Eve, just at noon, under every root of plantine and of mugwort ; the effects whereof are wonderful; for whosoever weareth or beareth the same about with them, shall be freed from the plague, fever, ague, and sundry other diseases. And one author especially writeth, and constantly averreth, that he never knew any that used to carry of this marvellous cole about them, who ever were, to his knowledge, sick of the plague, or (indeed) complained of any other maladie."

"The last summer," says Aubrey, in his Miscellanies, 1696, p. 103, "on the day of St. John Baptist, [1694,] I accidentally was walking in the pasture behind Montague house; it was twelve a clock. I saw there about two or three and twenty young women, most of them well habited, on their knees, very busie, as if they had been weeding. I could not presently learn what the matter was; at last a young man told me that they were looking for a coal under the root of a plantain, to put under their heads that night, and they should dream who would be their husbands. It was to be found that day and hour."

The following, however, in part an explanation of this singular search, occurs in the Practice of Paul Barbette, 1675, p. 7: "For the falling sicknesse some ascribe much to coals pulled out (on St. John Baptist's Eve) from under the roots of mugwort: but those authors are deceived, for they are not [p.335] coals, but old acid roots, consisting of much volatile salt, and are almost always to be found under mugwort: so that it is only a certain superstition that those old dead roots ought to be pulled up on the eve of St. John Baptist, about twelve at night."

The Status Scholae Etonesis, A.D. 1560, (MS. Addit. Brit. Mus. 4843,) says, "In hac Vigilia moris erat (quamdiu stetit) pueris, ornare lectos variis rerum variarum picturis, et carmina de vita rebusque gestis Joannis Baptistee et praecursoris componere: et pulchre exscripta affigere Clinopodiis lectorum, eruditis legenda." And again, "Mense Junii, in Festo Natalis D. Johannis post matutinas preces, dum consuetudo floruit accedebant omnes scholastici ad rogum extructum in orientali regione templi, ubi reverenter a symphoniacis cantatis tribus Antiphonis, et pueris in ordine stantibus venitur ad merendam."

In Torreblanca's Daemonologia, p. 150, I find the following superstition mentioned on the night of St. John, or of St. Paul: "Nostri saeculi puellse in nocte S. Joannis vel S. Pauli ad fenestras spectantes, primas prsetereuntium voces captant, ut cui nubant conjectant." Our author is a Spaniard.

Scott, in his Discovery of Witchcraft, p. 144, tells us: Against witches "hang boughs (hallowed on Midsummer Day) at the stall door where the cattle stand."

Bishop Hall, in his Triumph of Rome, p. 58, says, that "St. John is implored for a benediction on wine upon his day."

A singular custom at Oxford, on the day of St. John, Baptist, still remains to be mentioned. The notice of it, here copied, is from the Life of Bishop Home, by the Rev. William Jones, (Works, vol. xii. p. 131.) "A letter of July the 25th, 1755, informed me that Mr. Home, according to an established custom at Magdalen College, in Oxford, had begun to preach before the University, on the day of Saint John the Baptist. For the preaching of this annual sermon, a permanent pulpit of
stone is inserted into a corner of the first quadrangle; and so long as the stone pulpit was in use, (of which I have been a witness,) the quadrangle was furnished round the sides with a large fence of green boughs, that the preaching might more nearly resemble that of John the Baptist in the wilderness; and a pleasant sight it was: but for many years the custom [p.336] has been discontinued, and the assembly have thought it safer to take shelter under the roof of the chapel."

[A chap-book in my possession gives the following method "to know what trade your husband will be: On Midsummer Eve take a small lump of lead (pewter is best), put it in your left stocking on going to bed, and place it under your pillow; the next day being Midsummer Day, take a pail of water, and place it so as the sun shines exactly on it, and as the clock is striking twelve, pour in your lead or pewter melted and boiling hot; as soon as it is cold and settled, take it out, and you will find among the emblems of his trade, a ship is a sailor, tools a workman, trees a gardener, a ring a silversmith or jeweller, a book a parson or learned man, and so on."]

Lupton, in his Book of Notable Things, ed. 1660, p. 40, says: "Three nails made in the vigil of the Nativity of St. John Baptist, called Midsommer Eve, and driven in so deep that they cannot be seen in the place where the party doth fall that hath the falling sickness, and naming the said parties name while it is doing, doth drive away the disease quite."

Cullinson, in his Somersetshire, iii. 586, says: "In the parishes of Congresbury and Puxton are two large pieces of common land, called East and West Dolemoors (from the Saxon dal, which signifies a share or portion), which are divided into single acres, each bearing a peculiar and different mark cut in the turf, such as a horn, four oxen and a mare, two oxen and a mare, a pole-axe, cross, dung-fork, oven, duck's nest, hand-reel, and hare's-tail. On the Saturday before Old Midsummer, several proprietors of estates in the parishes of Congresbury, Puxton, and Week St. Lawrence, or their tenants, assemble on the commons. A number of apples are previously prepared, marked in the same manner with the beforementioned acres, which are distributed by a young lad to each of the commoners from a bag or hat. At the close of the distribution each person repairs to his allotment, as his apple directs him, and takes possession for the ensuing year. An adjournment then takes place to the house of the overseer of Dolemoors (an officer annually elected from the tenants), where four acres, reserved for the purpose of paying expenses, are let by inch of candle, and the remainder of the day is spent in that sociability and hearty mirth so congenial to the soul of a Somersetshire yeoman." [Midsummer Eve was formerly thought [p.337] to be a season productive of madness. So Olivia observes, speaking of Malvolio's seeming frenzy, that it "is a very Midsummer madness;" and Steevens thinks that as "this time was anciently thought productive of mental vagaries, to that circumstance the Midsummer Night's Dream might have owed its title." Heywood seems to allude to a similar belief, when he says188

"As mad as a March hare; where madness compares,
Are not Midsummer hares as mad as March hares?"]


STOW tells us that the rites of St John Baptist's Eve were also used on the Eve of St. Peter and St. Paul: and Dr. Moresin informs us that in Scotland the people used, on this latter night, to run about on the mountains and higher grounds with lighted torches, like the Sicilian women of old in search of Proserpine.189

In Sir John Sinclair's Statistical Account of Scotland, 1792, iii. 105, the Minister of Loudoun in Ayrshire, under the head of Antiquities, tells us: "The custom still remains amongst the herds and young people to kindle fires in the high grounds, in honour of Beltan. Beltan, which in Gaelic signifies Baal, or Bel's fire, was anciently the time of this solemnity. It is now kept on St. Peter's Day."190

I have been informed that something similar to this was practised about half a century ago in Northumberland on this night; the inhabitants carried some kind of firebrands about the fields of their respective villages. They made encroach- [p.338] ments, on these occasions, upon the bonfires of the neighbouring towns, of which they took away some of the ashes by force: this they called "carrying off the flower (probably the flour) of the wake." Moresin thinks this a vestige of the ancient Cerealia.

It appears from the sermon preached at Blandford Forum, in 1570, by W. Kethe, that, in the Papal times in this country, fires were customary, not only on the Eves of St. John the Baptist at Midsummer, and of St. Peter and St. Paul the Apostles, but also on that of St. Thomas a Becket, or, as he is there styled, "Thomas Becket the Traytor."

The London Watch on this evening, put down in the time of Henry the Eighth, and renewed for one year only in that of his successor, has been already noticed under Midsummer Eve. It appears also from the Status Scholae Etonensis, 1560, that the Eton boys had a great bonfire annually on the east side of the church on St. Peter's Day, as well as on that of St. John Baptist.

In an old Account of the Lordship of Gisborough in Cleveland, Yorkshire, and the adjoining coast, printed in the Antiquarian Repertory from an ancient manuscript in the Cotton Library, speaking of the fishermen, it is stated, that "upon St. Peter's Daye they invite their friends and kinsfolk to a festyvall kept after their fashion with a free hearte, and noe shew of niggardnesse: that daye their boates are dressed curiously for the shewe, their mastes are painted, and certain rytes observed amongst them, with sprinkling their prowes with good liquor, sold with them at a groate the quarte, which custome or superstition suckt from their auncestors, even contynueth down unto this present tyme."


[The following proverbial lines relating to this day (July 2,) were copied from an early MS. by Cole, in vol. 44 of his MS. Collections:

"Si pluat in festo Processi et Martiniani,
Imber erit grandis, et suffocatio grani."]



"In Translatione D. Thomse (mense Julii) solebant rogum construere, sed nee ornare lectos, nee carmina componere, sed ludere si placet preceptor!" Status Scholae Etonensis, A.D. 1560, MS. ut supra.


THE following are the ceremonies of this day preserved in Googe's translation of Naogeorgus:


"Wheresoever Huldryche hath his place, the people there brings in
Both carpes and pykes, and mullets fat, his favour here to win.
Amid the church there sitteth one, and to the aultar nie,
That selleth fish, and so good cheep, that every man may buie:
Nor any thing he loseth here, bestowing thus his paine,
For when it hath beene offred once, 'tis brought him all againe,
That twise or thrise he selles the same, ungodlinesse such gaine
Doth still bring in, and plentiously the kitchin doth maintaine.
Whence comes this same religion newe ? what kind of God is this
Same Huldryche here, that so desires and so delightes in fishe?"
                                                    The Popish Kingdome, fol. 55.


[A similar tradition was current on this day, July 4th, to that now ascribed to St. Swithin

"Martini magni translatio in pluviam det
Quadraginta dies continuere solet.'']



THE following is said to be the origin of the old adage: "If it rain on St. Swithin's Day, there will be rain more or less for forty-five succeeding days." In the year 865, St. Swithin, Bishop of Winchester, to which rank he was raised by King Ethelwolfe, the Dane, dying, was canonized by the then Pope. He was singular for his desire to be buried in the open church-yard, and not in the chancel of the minster, as was usual with other bishops, which request was complied with; but the monks, on his being canonized, taking it into their heads that it was disgraceful for the saint to lie in the open churchyard, resolved to remove his body into the choir, which was to have been done with solemn procession on the 15th of July. It rained, however, so violently on that day, and for forty days succeeding, as had hardly ever been known, which made them set aside their design as heretical and blasphemous; and instead, they erected a chapel over his grave, at which many miracles are said to have been wrought.

Blount tells us that St. Swithin, a holy Bishop of Winchester about the year 860, was called the weeping St. Swithin, for that, about his feast, Preesepe and Aselli, rainy constellations, arise cosmically, and commonly cause rain. Gay, in his Trivia, mentions

"How if, on Swithin's feast the welkin lours,
And ev'ry pent-house streams with hasty show'rs,
Twice twenty days shall clouds their fleeces drain,
And wash the pavements with incessant rain."

Nothing occurs in the legendary accounts of this Saint, which throws any light upon the subject; the following lines occur in Poor Robin's Almanack for 1697:

"In this month is St. Swithin's Day;
On which, if that it rain, they say
Full forty days after it will,
Or more or less, some rain distill.
This Swithin was a sanit, I trow,
And Winchester's bishop also.


Who in his time did many a feat,
As Popish legends do repeat:
A woman having broke her eggs
By stumbling at another's legs,
For which she made a woeful cry,
St. Swithin chanc'd for to come by,
Who made them all as sound, or more
Than ever that they were before.
But whether this were so or no,
'Tis more than you or I do know.
Better it is to rise betime,
And to make hay while sun doth shine,
Than to believe in tales or lies
Which idle monks and friars devise."

[And in Poor Robin for 1735:

"If it rain on St. Swithin's Day;
I've heard some antient farmers say
It will continue forty days,
According to the country phrase.
'Tis a sad time, the lawyers now,
And doctors nothing have to do,
Likewise the oyster women too."

Ben Jonson, in Every Man out of his Humour, thus alludes to the day: "O, here St. Swithin's, the fifteenth day; variable weather, for the most part rain; good; for the most part rain. Why, it should rain fourty days after, now, more or less; it was a rule held afore I was able to hold a plough, and yet here are two days no rain; ha! it makes me to muse."]

Churchill thus glances at the superstitious notions about rain on St. Swithin's Day:

"July, to whom, the dog-star in her train,
St. James gives oisters, and St. Swithin rain."191

These lines upon St. Swithin's Day are still common in oaany parts of the country:

"St. Swithin's Day, if thou dost rain,
For forty days it will remain:
St. Swithin's Day, if thou be fair,
For forty days 'twill rain na mair."


There is an old saying, that when it rains on St. Swithin's Day, it is the Saint christening the apples.

In the Churchwardens' Accounts of the parish of Horley, in the county of Surrey, under the years 1505-6, is the following entry, which implies a gathering on this saint's day, or account: "Itm. Saintt Swithine farthyngs the said 2 seres, 3s. 8d."

In Lysons's Environs of London, i. 230, is a list of church duties and payments relating to the church of Kingston-upon-Thames, in which the following items appear: "23 Hen. VII. Imprimis, at Easter for any howseholder kepying a brode gate, shall pay to the paroche prests wages 3d. Item, to the paschall 6d. To St. Swithin 1d. Also any howse-holder kepyng one tenement shall pay to the paroche prests wages 2d. Item, to the Paschal 6d. And to St. Swithin 1d."

[The following local proverbs may find a place here:

"If St. Swithin greets [weeps] , the proverb says,
The weather will be foul for forty days.
A shower of rain in July, when the corn begins to fill,
Is worth a plough of oxen, and all that belongs theretill.
Some rain, some rest;
Fine weather isn't always best.
Frosty nights, and hot sunny days,
Set the corn-fields all in a blaze,
(i.e. they have a tendency to forward the ripening of the 'white' crops."]


[A VERY curious custom was formerly practised at Clent, in the parish of Hales-Owen, co. Salop. "A fair was wont to be held in the field in which St. Kenelm's Chapel is situate; it is of very ancient date, and probably arose from the congregating together of numbers of persons to visit the shrine of t. Kenelm on the feast of the Saint, 17th of July. By the 33d Henry VIII., the fair, or rather, we presume, the tolls of the fair, were granted to Roger de Somery, the Lord of Clent. The article of cheese was the principal commodity brought for sale till, about a quarter of a century ago, the fair was numbered amongst the bygones. Clent was royal demesne, and [p.343] still enjoys peculiar privileges: the inhabitants are free from serving on juries at assizes and sessions, and also of tolls throughout the kingdom, and at St. Kenelm's fair, and also at the fair of Holy Cross, in the parish of Clent, and the inhabitants sold ale and other refreshments without license or the intervention of the gauger, by an old charter which was granted by Edward the Confessor, and confirmed by Elizabeth. St. Kenelm's wake is held, or rather used to be held, for 'tis now but little noticed, on the Sunday after the fair; on which day, within the recollection of numbers of persons now living, it was the annual practice to crab the parson. The last clergyman but one who was subjected to this process was a somewhat eccentric gentleman, named Lee. He had been chaplain to a man-of-war, and was a jovial old fellow in his way, who could enter into the spirit of the thing. My informant well recollects the worthy divine, after partaking of dinner at the solitary house near the church, quietly quitting the table when the time for performing the service drew nigh, and reconnoitring the angles of the building, and each 'buttress and coign of vantage' behind which it was reasonable to suppose the enemy would be posted, and watching for a favourable opportunity, he would start forth at his best walking pace (he scorned to run) to reach the church. Around him, thick and fast, fell from ready hands a shower of crabs, not a few telling with fearful emphasis on his burly person, amid the intense merriment of the rustic assailants; but the distance is small; he reaches the old Saxon porch, and the storm is over. Another informant, a man of Clent, states that he has seen the late incumbent, the Rev. John Todd, frequently run the gauntlet, and that on one occasion there were two sacks of crabs, each containing at least three bushels, emptied in the church field, besides large store of other missiles provided by other parties; and it also appears that some of the more wanton not infrequently threw sticks, stakes, &c., which probably led to the suppression of the practice. The custom of crabbing the parson is said to have arisen on this wise. 'Long, long ago,' an incumbent of Frankley, to which St. Kenelm's is attached, was accustomed, through horrid, deep-rutted, miry roads, occasionally to wend his way to the sequestered depository of the remains of the murdered Saint King, to perform divine service. It was his wont to carry creature [p.344] comforts with him, which he discussed at a lone farm-house near the scene of his pastoral duties. On one occasion, whether the pastor's wallet was badly furnished, or his stomach more than usually keen, tradition sayeth not; but having eat up his own provision, he was tempted (after he had donned his sacerdotal habit, and in the absence of the good dame) to pry into the secrets of a huge pot in which was simmering the savoury dinner the lady had provided for her household; among the rest, dumplings formed no inconsiderable portion of the contents. The story runs that our parson poached sundry of them, hissing hot, from the caldron, and hearing the footsteps of his hostess, he, with great dexterity deposited them in the ample sleeves of his surplice; she, however, was conscious of her loss, and closely following the parson to the church, by her presence prevented him from disposing of them, and to avoid her accusation, he forthwith entered the reading-desk and began to read the service, the clerk beneath making the responses. Ere long a dumpling slips out of the parson's sleeve, and falls on sleek John's head; he looked up with astonishment, but took the matter in good part, and proceeded with the service; by and bye, however, John's pate receives a second visitation, to which he, with upturned eyes and ready tongue, responded, 'Two can play at that, master!' and suiting the action to the word, he forthwith began pelting the parson with crabs, a store of which he had gathered, intending to take them home in his pocket to foment the sprained leg of his jade of a horse; and so well did the clerk play his part, that the parson soon decamped amid the jeers of the old dame, and the laughter of the few persons who were in attendance; and in commemoration of this event (so saith the legend), 'crabbing the parson' has been practised on the Wake Sunday from that time till a very recent period."192

This very singular custom is alluded to in the Gentleman's Magazine for Sept. 1797, p. 738: "At the wake held there, called Kenelm's Wake, alias Crab Wake, the inhabitants have a singular custom of pelting each other with crabs; and even the clergyman seldom escapes, as he goes to, or comes from the chapel." It would seem from this, that the clergyman was not the only object of attack.]



GRANGER, in his Biographical History of England, iii. 54, quotes the following passage from Sir John Birkenhead's Assembly Man: "As many Sisters flock to him as at Paris on St. Margaret's Day, when all come to church that are or hope to be with child that year."

"From the East," says Butler, "the veneration of this Saint was exceedingly propagated in England, France, and Germany, in the eleventh century, during the holy wars."


"JULY 23. The departure out of this life of St. Bridget, widdow, who, after many peregrinations made to holy places, full of the Holy Ghost, finally reposed at Rome: whose body was after translated into Suevia. Her principal festivity is celebrated upon the seaventh of October." See the Roman Martyrologe according to the Reformed Calendar, translated into English by G. K. of the Society of Jesus, 1627. In the Diarium Historicum, 4to. Francof. 1590, p. Ill, we read, under 23 Julii, "Emortualis Dies S. Brigittee Reg. Suecise, 1372."

Col. Vallancey, in his Essay on the Antiquity of the Irish Language, 1772, p. 21, speaking of Ceres, tells us: "Mr. Rollin thinks this deity was the same queen of heaven to whom the Jewish women burnt incense, poured out drink offerings, and made cakes for her with their own hands." Jerem. ch. xvii. v. 18; and adds: "This Pagan custom is still preserved in Ireland on the eve of St. Bridget; and which was probably transposed to St. Bridget's Eve, from the festival of a famed poetess of the same name in the time of Paganism. In an ancient Glossary now before me, she is described: 'Bridget, a poetess, the daughter of Dagha; a goddess of Ireland.' On St. Bridget's Eve every farmer's wife in Ireland [p.346] makes a cake, called Bairinbreac; the neighbours are invited, the madder of ale and the pipe go round, and the evening concludes with mirth and festivity."

Yet, according to the Flowers of the Lives of the most Renowned Saints of the three Kingdoms, England, Scotland, and Ireland, by Hierome Porter, 1632, p. 118, Bridget's Day (Virgin of Kildare, in Ireland) was February the 1st.


THE following is the blessing of new apples upon this day, preserved in the Manuale ad Usum Sarum, 1555, f. 64. "Benedictio Pomorum in Die Sancti Jacobi. Te deprecamur, oranipotens Deus, ut benedicas huncfructum novorum pornorum: ut qui esu arboris letalis et porno in primo parente justa funeris sententia mulctati sumus; per illustrationem unici filii tui Redemptoris Dei ac Domini nostri Jesu Christi et Spiritus Sancti benedictionem sanctificata sint omnia atque benedicta: depulsisque primi facinoris intentatoris insidiis, salubriter ex hujus, diei anniversaria solennitate diversis terris edenda germina sumamus per eundem Dominum in unitate ejusdem. Deinde sacerdos aspergat ea aqua benedicta."

Hasted, in his History of Kent, i. 537, parish of Cliff, in Shamel hundred, tells us that "the rector, by old custom, distributes at his parsonage house on St. James's Day, annually, a mutton pye and a loaf, to as many persons as chuse to demand it, the expense of which amounts to about 151. per annum."

On St. James's Day, old style, oysters come in, in London: and there is a popular superstition still in force, like that relating to goose on Michaelmas Day, that whoever eats oysters on that day will never want money for the rest of the year.193



[THE first Monday after St. Anne's Day, July 26, a feast is held at Newbury, in Berkshire, the principal dishes being bacon and beans. In the course of the day, a procession takes place; a cabbage is stuck on a pole, and carried instead of a mace, accompanied by similar substitutes for other emblems of civic dignity. A character in the Devonshire Dialogue, ed. 1839, p. 33, says, "Why, dant'e know the old zouls keep all holidays, and eat pancakes Shrove Tuesday, bacon and beans Mace Monday, and rize to zee the zin dance Easter Day ?"]


DR. PETTINGAL, in the second volume of the Archaeologia, p. 67, derives Gule from the Celtic or British Wyl, or Gwyl, signifying a festival or holiday, and explains "Gule of August" to mean no more than the holiday of St Peter ad Vincula in August, when the people of England under Popery paid their Peter pence. This is confirmed by Blount,194 who tells us that Lammas Day, the 1st of August, otherwise called the Gule, or Yule of August, may be a corruption of the British word Gwyl Awst, signifying the Feast of August. He adds, indeed, "or it may come from Vincula, chains, that day being called, in Latin, Festum Sancti Petri ad Vincula."

Gebelin, in his Allegories Orientales, says, that as the month of August was the first in the Egyptian year, the first day of it was called Gule, which being Latinized makes Gula. Our legendaries, surprised at seeing this word at the head in the month of August, did not overlook, but converted it to their own purpose. They made out of it the feast of the daughter of the Tribune Quirinus, cured of some disorder in the throat (Gula is the Latin for throat) by kissing the chains of St. Peter, whose feast is solemnized on this day.


Gebelin's etymon of the word will hereafter be considered under Yule as formerly used to signify Christmas.

In the ancient Calendar of the Romish Church which I have had occasion so frequently to cite, I find the subsequent remark on the first of August:

"Chains are worshipped, &c.

"Catenae coluntur ad Aram in Exquiliis
Ad Vicum Cyprium juxta Titi thermas."

Antiquaries are divided also in their opinions concerning the origin of the word Lam, or Lamb-mass. We have an old proverb, "At latter Lammass," which is synonymous with the "ad Grsecas Calendas" of the Latins, and the vulgar saying, "When two Sundays come together," i.e. never. It was in this phrase that Queen Elizabeth exerted her genius in an extempore reply to the ambassador of Philip II.: "Ad Graecas, bone Rex, fient mandata Kalendas."

"Lammass day, in the Salisbury Manuals, is called 'Benedictio novorum fructuum,' in the Red Book of Derby, [Anglo-Sax.]; see also Oros. Interp. 1. 6. c. 19. But in the Sax. Chron. p. 138, A.D. 1009, it is [Anglo-Sax.]. Mass was a word for festival: hence our way of naming the festivals of Christmass, Candlemass, Martinmass, &c. Instead therefore of Lammass quasi Lamb-masse, from the offering of the tenants at York, may we not rather suppose the p to have been left out in course of time from general use, and La-mass or [Anglo-Sax.] will appear." Gent. Mag. Jan. 1799, p. 33.

Some suppose it is called Lammass Day, quasi Lamb-masse, because, on that day, the tenants who held lands of the Cathedral Church in York, which is dedicated to St. Peter ad Vincula, were bound by their tenure to bring a live lamb into the church at high mass. Others, according to Blount, suppose it to have been derived from the Saxon [Anglo-Sax.], i.e. loaf masse, or bread masse, so named as a feast of thanksgiving to God for the first-fruits of the corn. It seems to have been observed with bread of new wheat; and accordingly it is a usage in some places for tenants to be bound to bring in wheat of that year to their lord, on or before the 1st of August.

Vallancey, in his Collectanea de Rebus Hibernicis, x. 464, [p.349] cites Cormac, Archbishop of Cashel in the tenth century, in his Irish Glossary, as telling us that, "in his time, four great fires were lighted up on the four great festivals of the Druids; viz. in February, May, August, and November." Vallancey also tells us, p. 472, that this day (the Gule of August) was dedicated to the sacrifice of the fruits of the soil. La-ith-mas was the day of the oblation of grain. It is pronounced La-ee-mas, a word readily corrupted to Lammas. It is all kinds of grain, particularly wheat: and mas, fruit of all kinds, especially the acorn, whence mast. Cul and Gul in the Irish implies a complete circle, a belt, a wheel, an anniversary."


[The following lines are quoted by Cole in vol. 44 of his MS. collections:

"In Sixti festo venti validi memor esto;
Si sit nulla quies, farra valere scies."]


BARNABE GOOGE has the following lines upon this day in the English version of Naogeorgus:

"The blessed Virgin Maries feast hath here his place and time,
Wherein, departing from the earth, she did the heavens clime;
Great bundels then of hearbes to church the people fast doe beare,
The which against all hurtfull things the priest doth hallow theare.
Thus kindle they and nourish still the peoples wickednesse,
And vainly make them to believe whatsoever they expresse:
For sundrie witchcrafts by these hearbs are wrought, and divers charmes,
And cast into the fire, are thought to drive away all harmes,
And every painefull griefe from man, or beast, for to expell,
Far otherwise than nature or the worde of God doth tell."
Popish Kingdome, p. 55.


Bishop Hall also tells us, in the Triumphs of Rome, p. 58, "that upon this day it was customary to implore blessings upon herbs, plants, roots, and fruits."


AMONG the Extracts from the Churchwardens' Accounts of St. Michael Spurrier-Gate, in the city of York, printed in Nichols's Illustrations of Ancient Manners, I find "1518. Paid for writing of St. Royke Masse, 9d."195

Dr. Whitaker thinks that St. Roche or Rockes Day was celebrated as a general harvest-home.

In Sir Thomas Overbury's Characters, 1630, under that of the Franklin, he says: "He allowes of honest pastime, and thinkes not the bones of the dead any thing bruised, or the worse for it, though the country lasses dance in the churchyard after even-song. Rock Monday, and the wake in summer, shrovings, the wakefull ketches on Christmas Eve, the hoky, or seed cake, these he yeerely keepes, yet holds them no reliques of Popery."

I have sometimes suspected that "Rocke Monday" is a misprint for "Hock Monday" but there is a passage in Warner's Albions England, ed. 1597 and 1602, p. 121, as follows:

"Rock and Plow Monday gams sal gang with saint feasts and kirk sights."

And again, ed. 1602, p. 407,

"I'le duly keepe for thy delight Rock Monday and the wake,
Have shrovings, Christmas gambols, with the hokie and seed cake."



IN New Essayes and Characters, by John Stephens the younger, of Lincolnes Inne, Gent. 1631, p. 297, we read: "Like a bookseller's shoppe on Bartholomew Day at London, the stalls of which are so adorn'd with Bibles and Prayer-bookes, that almost nothing is left within, but heathen knowledge."

Mr. Gough, in his History of Croyland Abbey, p. 73, mentions an ancient custom there of giving little knives to all comers on St. Bartholomew's Day. This abuse, he says, "was abolished by Abbot John de Wisbech, in the time of Edward the Fourth, exempting both the abbot and convent from a great and needless expense. This custom originated in allusion to the knife wherewith St. Bartholomew was Head. Three of these knives were quartered with three of the whips so much used by St. Guthlac, in one coat borne by this house. Mr. Hunter had great numbers of them, of different sizes, found at different times in the ruins of the abbey and in the river. We have engraved three from drawings in the Minute Books of the Spalding Society, in whose drawers one is still preserved. These are adopted as the device of a town-piece, called the Poore's Halfe-peny of Croyland, 1670."

[In allusion, says Mr. Hampson, to the forty days of rain which were supposed to depend upon the state of St. Swithin's Day, there is a proverb,

"All the tears that St. Swithin can cry,
St. Bartholomew's dusty mantle wipes dry."]


THIS festival, called also Holy Cross Day, was instituted on account of the recovery of a large piece of the Cross by the emperor Heraclius, after it had been taken away, on the plundering of Jerusalem by Chosroes, king of Persia, about the year of Christ 615.


Rood and cross are synonymous. From the Anglo-Saxon. "The rood," as Fuller observes, "when perfectly made, and with all the appurtenances thereof, had not only the image of our Saviour extended upon it, but the figures of the Virgin Mary and St. John, one on each side: in allusion to John xix. 26, ( Christ on the Cross saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing by.'" See Fuller's Hist. Waltham Abbey, pp. 16, 17.

Such was the representation denominated the rood, usually placed over the screen which divided the nave from the chancel of our churches. To our ancestors, we are told, it conveyed a full type of the Christian church: the nave representing the church militant, and the chancel the church triumphant; denoting that all who would go from the one to the other must pass under the rood, that is, carry the Cross and suffer affliction. Churchwardens' accounts, previous to the Reformation, are usually full of entries relating to the rood-loft. The following extracts belong to that formerly in the church of St. Mary-at-Hill, 5 Hen. VI.: "Also for makynge of a peire endentors betwene William Serle, carpenter, and us, for the rode lofte and the under clerks chambre, ijs. viijd." The second leaf, he observes, of the churchwardens' accounts contains the names (it should seem) of those who contributed to the erection of the rood-loft.196 "Also ress. of serteyn men for the rod loft; fyrst of Ric. Goslyn Wl.; also of Thomas Raynwall 10l.; also of Rook 26s. 1d.; and eighteen others. Summa totalis 95l. 11s. 9d." The carpenters on this occasion appear to have had what in modern language is called "their drinks" allowed them over and above their wages. "Also the day after St. Dunston the 19 day of May, two carpenters with her Nonsiens."197


In Howe's edition of Stow's Chronicle, 2 Edw. VI. 1547, we read: "The 17 of Nov. was begun to be pulled downe the roode in Paules Church, with Mary and John, and all other images in the church, and then the like was done in all the churches in London, and so throughout England, and texts of Scripture were written upon the walls of those churches against images, &c." Many of our rood-lofts, however, were not taken down till late in the reign of Queen Elizabeth.

It appears to have been the custom to go a-nutting upon this day, from the following passage in the old play of Grim the Collier of Croydon:"

"This day, they say, is called Holy-rood Day,
And all the youth are now a nutting gone."

[The following occurs in Poor Robin, 1709:

"The devil, as the common people say,
Doth go a nutting on Holy-rood day;
And sure such leachery in some doth lurk,
Going a nutting do the devil's work."]

It appears from the curious MS. Status Scholae Etonensis, 1560, that in the month of September, "on a certain day," most probably on the 14th, the boys of Eton school were to have a play-day, in order to go out and gather nuts, with a portion of which, when they returned, they were to make presents to the different masters of that seminary. It is ordered, however, that before this leave be granted them, they should write verses on the fruitfulness of autumn, the deadly colds, &c. of advancing winter.


"MICHAELMAS," says Bailey, "is a festival appointed by the church to be observed in honour of St. Michael the Arch angel, who is supposed to be the chief of the Host of Heaven, as Lucifer is of the infernal; and as he was supposed to be [p.354] the protector of the Jewish, so is he now esteemed the guardian and defender of the Christian Church."

It has long been and still continues the custom at this time of the year, or thereabouts, to elect the governors of towns and cities, the civil guardians of the peace of men, perhaps, as Bourne supposes, because the feast of angels naturally enough brings to our minds the old opinion of tutelar spirits, who have, or are thought to have, the particular charge of certain bodies of men, or districts of country, as also that every man has his guardian angel, who attends him from the cradle to the grave, from the moment of his coming in, to his going out of life.198 The following account is taken from the Gentleman's Magazine for October, 1804, p. 965:

"Monday, October 1st, 1804. This day the lord mayor and aldermen proceeded from Guildhall, and the two sheriffs with their respective companies from Stationer's Hall: and having embarked on the Thames, his lordship in the city barge, and the sheriffs in the stationers' barge, went in aquatic state to Palace-yard. They proceeded to the Court of Exchequer, where, after the usual salutations to the bench (the cursitor baron, Francis Maseres, Esq., presiding), the recorder presented the two sheriffs; the several writs were then read, and the sheriffs and the senior undersheriff took the usual oaths. The ceremony, on this occasion, in the Court of Exchequer, which vulgar error supposed to be .an unmeaning farce, is solemn and impressive; nor have the new sheriffs the least connexion either with chopping of sticks or counting of hobnails. The tenants of a manor in Shropshire are directed [p.355] to come forth to do their suit and service; on which the senior alderman below the chair steps forward, and chops a single stick, in token of its having been customary for the tenants of that manor to supply their lord with fuel. The owners of a forge in the parish of St. Clement (which formerly belonged to the city, and stood in the high road from the Temple to Westminster, but now no longer exists) are then called forth to do their suit and service; when an officer of the court, in the presence of the senior alderman, produces six horseshoes and sixty-one hob-nails, which he counts over in form before the cursitor baron, who, on this particular occasion, is the immediate representative of the sovereign. The whole of the numerous company then again embarked in their barges, and returned to Blackfriars-bridge, where the state carriages were in waiting. Thence they proceeded to Stationers' Hall, where a most elegant entertainment was given by Mr. Sheriff Domville."

For a custom after the election of a mayor at Abingdon, in Berkshire, see the Gent. Mag. for Dec. 1782, p. 558. The following occurs in the same periodical for 1790, p. 1191: "At Kidderminster is a singular custom. On the election of a bailiff the inhabitants assemble in the principal streets to throw cabbage-stalks at each other. The town-house bell gives signal for the affray. This is called lawless hour. This done (for it lasts an hour), the bailiff elect and corporation, in their robes, preceded by drums and fifes (for they have no waits), visit the old and new bailiff, constables, &c. &c., attended by the mob. In the mean time the most respectable families in the neighbourhood are invited to meet and fling apples at them on their entrance. I have known forty pots of apples expended at one house."

In the ancient Romish Calendar, the following entry occurs on Michaelmas Day: "Arx tonat in gratiam tutelaris numims." Bishop Hall, in his Triumphs of Rome, ridicules the superstitions of Romish sailors, who, in passing by St. Michael's Grecian promontory Malla, used to ply him with their best devotions, that he would hold still his wings from resting too hard upon their sails. A red velvet buckler is said by the bishop to be still preserved in a castle of Normandy, and was believed to have been that which the archangel made use of when he combated the dragon.


Stevenson, in his Twelve Moneths, 1661, p. 44, says: "They say so many dayes old the moon is on Michaelmas Day, so many floods after."

[The following lines are proverbial in Suffolk:

"At Michaelmas time, or a little before,
Half an apple goes to the core;
At Christmas time, or a little after,
A crab in the hedge, and thanks to the grafter."

At this season village maidens in the west of England go up and down the hedges gathering crab-apples, which they carry home, putting them into a loft, and forming with them the initials of their supposed suitors' names. The initials which are found on examination to be most perfect on Old Michaelmas day, are considered to represent the strongest attachments, and the best for the choice of husbands.]


THE following saints are invoked against various diseases: St Agatha against sore breasts; St. Anthony against inflammations; St. Apollonia and St. Lucy against the toothache; St. Benedict against the stone and poison; St. Blaise against bones sticking in the throat, fire, and inflammations;199 St. Christopher200 and St. Mark against sudden death; St. Clara against sore eyes; St. Genow against the gout; St. Job and St. Fiage against the venereal disease; St. John against epilepsy and poison;201 St. Liberius against the stone and fistula; [p.357] St. Maine against the scab; St. Margaret against clanger in child-bearing, also St. Edine; St. Martin201 for the itch; St. Marus against palsies and convulsions; St. Maure for the gout; St. Otilia against sore eyes and headache, also St. Juliana; St. Petronilla and St. Genevieve against fevers; St. Quintan against coughs; St. Romanus against devils possessing people; St. Ruffin against madness; St. Sebastian and St. Roch against the plague; St. Sigismund against fevers and ague; St. Valentine against the epilepsy; St. Venisa against green-sickness; St. Wallia or St. Wallery against the stone; and St. Wolfgang against lameness.

In imitation of heathenism, the Romanists assigned tutelar gods to distinct professions and ranks of people (some of them not of the best sort), to different trades, &c.; nay, they even condescended to appoint these celestial guardians also to the care of animals, &c. It is observable in this place how closely Popery has in this respect copied the Heathen mythology. She has the Supreme Being for Jupiter; she has substituted angels for genii, and the souls of saints for heroes, retaining all kinds of demons. Against these pests she has carefully provided her antidotes. She exorcises them out of waters, she rids the air of them by ringing her hallowed bells, &c.

Barnaby Rich, in the Irish Hubbub, or the English Hue and Crie, 1619, p. 36, has the following passage: "There [p.358] be many miracles assigned to saints, that (they say) are good for all diseases; they can give sight to the blinde, make the deafe to heare, they can restore limbs that be cripled, and make the lame to goe upright; they be good for horse, swine, and many other beasts. And women are not without their shee saints, to whom they doe implore when they would have children, and for a quick deliverance when they be in labour.

"They have saints to pray to when they be grieved with a third day ague, when they be pained with the tooth-ach, or when they would be revenged of their angry husbands. They have saints that be good amongst poultry, for chickins when they have the pip, for geese when they doe sit, to have a happy successe in goslings: and, to be short, there is no disease, no sicknesse, no greefe, either amongst men or beasts, that hath not his physician among the saints."

We find the following in Moresini Papatus, p. 133: "Porcus Pani et Sylvano commendabatur (Alex, ab Alexand. lib. iii. cap. 12), nunc autem immundissimus porcorum greges custodire cogitur miser Antonius." In the World of Wonders is the following translation of an epigram:

"Once fed'st thou, Anthony, an heard of swine,
And now an heard of monkes thou feedest still:
For wit and gut, alike both charges bin:
Both loven filth alike; both like to fill
Their greedy paunch alike. Nor was that kind
More beastly, sottish, swinish than this last.
All else agrees : one fault I onely find,
Thou feedest not thy monkes with oken mast."

The author mentions before, persons "who runne up and downe the country, crying, 'have you anything to bestow upon my lord S. Anthonie's swine?' A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine for Dec. 1790, p. 1086, derives the expression, "An it please the pigs," not from a corruption of " An it please the Fix," i.e. the host, but from a saying of the scholars of St Paul's school, London, founded in the reign of king Stephen, whose great rivals were the scholars of the neighbouring foundation of the brotherhood of St. Anthony of Vienna, situated in the parish of St. Bennet Finke, Threadneedle-street, and thence nicknamed "St. Anthony's Pigs." So that whenever those of St. Paul's answered each other in the affirmative, they added this expression, scoffingly insinuat- [p.359] ing a reserve of the approbation of the competitors of St. Anthony's, who claimed a superiority over them."

In Michael Wodde's Dialogue, 1554, we read: "If we were sycke of the pestylence we ran to Sainte Rooke; if of the ague, to Saint Pernel, or Master John Shorne: if men were in prison, thei praied to St. Leonarde; if the Welchman wold have a pursse, he praied to Darvel Gatherne; if a wife were weary of her husband, she offred otes at Poules, at London, to St. Uncumber.203 Thus we have been deluded with their images."

Newton in his Tryall of a Man's Owne Selfe, 1602, p. 50, censures "Physitions, when they beare their patient in hand, or make him to think that some certain saints have power to send, and also to take away this or that disease."

St. Agatha presides over nurses; St. Catherine and St. Gregory are the patrons of literati, or studious persons; St. Catherine also presides over the arts in the room of Minerva; St. Christopher and St Nicholas preside over mariners,204 also St. Herams; St. Cecilia is the patroness of musicians; St. Cosmas and St. Damian are the patrons of physicians and surgeons, also of philosophers. (See Patrick's Devotions, p. 264.) St. Dismas and St. Nicholas preside over thieves; St. Eustace and St. Hubert over hunters;205 St. Felicitas over young children; St. Julian is the patron of pilgrims;206 St. Leonard and St. Barbara protect captives; St. Luke is the patron of painters; St. Magdalen, St. Afra (Aphra or Aphrodite) and St Brigit preside over common women; St. Martin and St Urban over ale-knights to guard them from falling into the kennel; St. Mathurin over fools; St. Sebastian over archers; St. Thomas over divines; St. Thomas Becket over blind men, eunuchs, and sinners; St Valentine over lovers; [p.360] St. "Winifred over virgins; and St Yves over lawyers and civilians. St. JSthelbert and St. lian were invoked against thieves, there also may be noticed that St. Agatha presides over valleys; St. Anne over riches; St Barbara over hills; St. Florian over fire; St. Giles and St. Hyacinth are invoked by barren women; St. Osyth by women to guard their keys; St. Sylvester protects the woods; St. Urban wine and vineyards; and St. Vincent and St. Anne are the restorers of lost things. St. Andrew and St. Joseph were the patron saints of carpenters; St. Anthony of swineherds and grocers; St,. Arnold of millers; St. Blase of wool-combers; St. Catherine of spinners; St. Clement of tanners; St. Cloud of nailsmiths, on account of his name; St. Dunstan of goldsmiths; St. Eloy of blacksmiths, farriers, and goldsmiths; St. Euloge (who is probably the same with St. Eloy) of smiths,207 though others say of jockeys; St. Florian of mercers; St. Francis of butchers; St. George of clothiers; St. Goodman of tailors, sometimes called St. Gutman, and St Ann;208 St. Gore, with the devil on his shoulder and a pot in his hand, of potters, also called St. Goarin; St. Hilary of coopers; St. John Port-Latin of booksellers;209 St. Josse and St. Urban of ploughmen; St. Leodagar of drapers; St Leonard of locksmiths, as well as captives; St. Louis of periwig-makers; St. Martin of master shoemakers, and St. Crispin of cobblers and journeymen shoemakers; St. Nicholas of parish clerks, and also of butchers; St Peter of fishmongers; St. Sebastian of pinmakers, on account of his being stuck with arrows; St. Severus of fullers; St. Stephen of weavers; St. Tibba of falconers;210 St. Wilfred of bakers, St. Hubert [p.361] also,211 and St. Honor or Honore;212 St. William of hatmakers; and St. Windeline of shepherds. St. Anthony protects hogs; St. Ferioll presides over geese, others say St. Gallicet, St. Gallus, or St. Andoch; St. Gallus also protects the keepers of geese; St. Gertrude presides over mice and eggs; St. Hubert protects dogs, and is invoked against the bite of mad ones; St. Magnus is invoked against locusts and caterpillars; St. Pelagius, otherwise St. Pelage, or St. Peland, protects oxen; and St. Wendeline, sheep; or, as one writer has it, St. Wolfe. St. Eloy, or Eligius, was the guardian of farriers. Bridges, in his History of Northamptonshire, i. 258, speaking of Wedon-Pinckney, says: "In this church was the Memorial of St. Loy's kept, whither did many resort for the cure of their horses; where there was a house at the east end thereof, plucked down within few years, which was called St. Loy's house." A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine, however, for 1779, p. 190, would have St. Loy to be the diminutive of St. Lucian: "In the uncertainty we labour under about the miracle supposed to be commemorated on the Frekenham bas relief (see Gent. Mag. xlvii. 416, xlviii. 304), I cannot concur with my ingenious friend your correspondent in the last month's Mag. p. 138, in ascribing it to St. Eligius. Bridges gives no authority for this opinion. He would rather lead us to suppose St. Loy to be St. Lucian, to whose monastery Wedon-Pinckney was a cell, though its parish church was dedicated to the blessed Virgin; and Tyrwhitt seems of this sentiment. Loy is a more natural abbreviation of Lewis, or Lucian, than of Elegius; for Eloy rests only on Urry's authority. Eligius served his time to one Abbo, a goldsmith, and made for King Clotaire two saddles of gold set with jewels, such as one might suppose Mr. Cox would make for the Nabob of Arcot. He became bishop of Noyon, where he died. (Lippelii Vit. Sanctor. iv. 632, ex Baronii Annal. viii.) Not a word of his patronizing farriers. Till the particular miracle [p.362] in question is ascertained, I think the claim lies at present between St. Anthony and St. Hippolytus." In the Ordinary of the Smiths' Company in Brand's History of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, ii. 318, the fraternity is ordered to meet on "St. Loy's day." St. Loy, says Brand, is certainly not St. Lucian. In the World of Wonders, p. 308, we have the following remarks, in part only to our present, though altogether to our general purpose. The opening at least serves to show that Eloy does not rest only on Urry's authority. "When St. Eloy (who is the Saint for smiths) doth hammer his irons, is he not instead of God Vulcan? and do they not give the same titles to St. George, which in old times were given to Mars? and do they not honour St. Nicholas after the same manner that Pagans honoured God Neptune? and when S. Peter is made a porter, doth he not represent God Janus? Nay, they would faine make the Angel Gabriel beleeve that he is God Mercury. And is not Pallas, the Goddesse of arts and sciences, represented to us by St. Katherine? And have they not St. Hubert, the God of Hunters instead of Diana? (which office some give to St. Eustace.) And when they apparell John Baptist in a lion's skin, is it not to represent Hercules unto us? And is not St. Katherine commonly painted with a wheele, as they were wont to paint Fortune? They will needs have St. Genneuiefue (her especially at Paris) to bestir her stumps in hastening God to cause raine, when there is a great drought: as also to leave rayning when it poureth down too fast, and continueth over long. And as for the thunder and the thunderbolts, St. Barbe (their Saint for harquebuziers) obtained this office, to beate backe the blowes of the thunderbolt. They have made St. Maturin physitian for fooles, having relation to the word Matto. St. Acaire cureth the acariastres, i.e., frantic or furious bedlams. St. Avertin curith the avertineux, i.e. fantasticall lunatic persons, and all the diseases of the head; St. Eutrope the dropsie; Saint Mammard is made physitian des mammelles, that is, of the paps; Saint Phiacre of the phy, or emeroids, of those especially which grow in the fundament; St. Main healeth the scab des mains, that is, of the hands; St. Genou the gout; St Agnan, or St. Tignan, the filthy disease called la tiffne, the scurfe."

[The following lines occur in Bab's Interlude concerning the Laws of Nature, 1562:


"With blessynges of Saynt Germayne
I will me so determyne,
That neyther fox nor vermyne

Shall do my chyckens harme.
For your gese seke Saynt Legearde,
And for your duckes Saynt Leonardo,
There is no better charme."]

Barnabe Googe, in the Popish Kingdome, ff. 98, 99, has given us the following translation of Naogeorgus on this subject, under the head of Helpers:

"To every saint they also doe his office here assine,
And fourtene doe they count of whom thou mayst have ayde divine;
Among the which our Ladie still doth holde the chiefest place,
And of her gentle nature helpes in every kinde of case.
Saint Barbara lookes that none without the body of Christ doe dye,
Saint Cathern favours learned men, and gives them wisedome hye;
And teacheth to resolve the doubtes and alwayes giveth ayde
Unto the scolding sophister, to make his reason stayde.
Saint Appolin the rotten teeth doth helpe, when sore they ake;
Otilla from the bleared eyes the cause and griefe doth take;
Rooke healeth scabbes and maungines, with pockes, and skurfe, and skall,

And cooleth raging carbuncles, and byles, and botches all.
There is a saint whose name in verse cannot declared be,
He serves against the plague, and ech infective maladie.
Saint Valentine beside to such as doe his power dispise
The falling sicknesse sendes, and helpes the man that to him cries.
The raging rninde of furious folkes doth Vitus pacific,
And doth restore them to their witte, being calde on speedilie.
Erasmus heales the collicke and the griping of the guttes;
And Laurence from the backe and from the shoulder sicknesse puttes.
Blase drives away the quinsey quight with water sanctifide,
From every Christian creature here, and every beast beside.
But Leonerd of the prisoners doth the bandes asunder pull,
And breakes the prison doores and chaines, wherewith his church is full.

The quartane ague, and the rest, doth Pernel take away,
And John preserves his worshippers from pryson every day:
Which force to Benet eke they give, that helpe enough may bee
By saintes in every place. What dost thou omitted see?
From dreadful unprovided death doth Mark deliver his,
Who of more force than death himselfe, and more of value is.
Saint Anne gives wealth and living great to such as love hir most,
And is a perfite finder out of things that have beene lost:
Which vertue likewise they ascribe unto another man,
Saint Vincent; what he is I cannot tell, nor whence he came.


Against reproache and infamy on Susan doe they call;
Romanus driveth sprites away, and wicked devills all.
The byshop Wolfgang heales the goute, S. Wendlin kepes the shepe,
With shepheardes, and the oxen fatte, as he was woont to keepe.
The bristled hogges doth Antonie preserve and cherish well,
Who in his life tyine alwayes did in woodes and forrestes dwell.
Saint Gartrude riddes the house of mise, and killeth all the rattes;
The like doth bishop Huldrich with his earth, two passing cattes.
Saint Gregorie lookes to little boyes, to teach their a, b, c,
And makes them for to love their bookes and schollers good to be.
Saint Nicolas keepes the mariners from daunger and diseas,
That beaten are with boystrous waves, and tost in dreadfull seas.
Great Chrystopher, that painted is with body big and tall,
Doth even the same, who doth preserve and keepe his servants all
From fearefull terrours of the night, and makes them well to rest,
By whom they also all their life with divers joyes are blest.
Saint Agathae defendes thy house from fire and fearefull flame,
But when it burnes, in armour all doth Florian quench the same.
Saint Urban makes the pleasant wine, and doth preserve it still,
And spourging vessels all with must continually doth fill.
Judocus doth defende the corne from myldeawes and from blast,
And Magnus from the same doth drive the grasshopper as fast.
Thy office, George, is onely here the horseman to defende,
Great kinges and noble men with pompe on thee doe still attende.
And Loye the smith doth looke to horse, and smithes of all degree,
If they with iron meddle here, or if they goldesmithes bee.
Saint Luke doth evermore defende the paynters facultie,
Phisitions eke by Cosme and his fellow guided be."

Moresin tells us that Papal Rome, in imitation of this tenet of Gentilism, has fabricated such kinds of genii for guardians and defenders of cities and people. Thus she has assigned St. Andrew to Scotland, St. George to England, St. Dennis to France; thus, Egidius to Edinburgh, Nicholas to Aberdeen.213


I find the following patron-saints of countries in other authorities: St. Colman and St. Leopold for Austria; St. Wolfgang and St. Mary Atingana for Bavaria; St. Winceslaus for Bohemia; St. Andrew and St. Mary for Burgundy; St. Anscharius and St. Canute for Denmark; St. Peter for Flanders: to St. Dennis is added St. Michael as another patron Saint of France; St. Martin, St. Boniface, and St. George Cataphractus, for Germany; St. Mary for Holland; St. Mary of Aquisgrana and St. Lewis for Hungary; St. Patrick for Ireland; St. Anthony for Italy; St. Firmin and St. Xavierus for Navarre; St. Anscharius and St. Olaus for Norway; St. Stanislaus and St. Hederigafor Poland; St Savine for Poitou; St. Sebastian for Portugal; also St. James and St. George; St. Albert and St. Andrew for Prussia; St. Nicholas, St. Mary, and St. Andrew, for Russia; St. Mary for Sardinia; St. Maurice for Savoy and Piedmont; St. Mary and St. George for Sicily; St. James (Jago) for Spain; St. Anscharius, St. Eric, and St. John, for Sweden; and St. Gall and the Virgin Mary for Switzerland.

It were superfluous to enumerate the tutelar gods of heathenism.214 Few are ignorant that Apollo and Minerva presided over Athens, Bacchus and Hercules over Boeotian Thebes, Juno over Carthage, Venus over Cyprus and Paphos, Apollo over Rhodes; Mars was the tutelar god of Rome, as Neptune of Teenarus; Diana presided over Crete, &c.

St. Peter succeeded to Mars at the revolution of the religious Creed of Rome. He now presides over the castle of St. Angelo, as Mars did over the ancient Capitol.

The Romanists, in imitation of the heathens, have assigned tutelar gods to each member of the body.215

Januarius of Naples; St. Sebald of Nuremberg; St. Frideswide of Oxford; St. Genevieve of Paris; St. Peter and St. Paul of Rome: St. Rupert of Soltzberg; the Virgin Mary of Sienna; St. Ursus of St. Soleure; St. Hulderich and St. Ulric of Strasburgh; St. Mark of Venice; and St. Stephen of Vienna.


"They of the Romish religion," says Melton in his Astrologaster, p. 20, "for every limbe in man's body have a saint; for St. Otilia keepes the head instead of Aries; St. Blasius is appointed to governe the necke instead of Taurus; St. Lawrence keepes the backe and shoulders instead of Gemini, Cancer, and Leo; St. Erasmus rules the belly with the entrayles, in the place of Libra and Scorpius: in the stead of Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius, and Pisces, the Holy Church of Rome hath elected St. Burgarde, St. Rochus, St. Quirinus, St. John, and many others, which governe the thighes, feet, shinnes, and knees."

It is, perhaps, owing to this ancient notion of good and evil genii attending each person, that many of the vulgar pay so great attention to particular dreams, thinking them, it should seem, the means these invisible attendants make use of to inform their wards of any imminent danger.

In Bale's comedy of Thre Lawes, 1538, Infidelity begins his address:

"Good Christen people, I am come hyther verelye
As a true proctour of the howse of Saint Antonye."

And boasts, among other charms:

"Lo here is a belle to hange upon your hogge,
And save your cattell from the bytynge of a dogge."

He adds,

"And here I blesse ye with a wynge of the Holy Ghost,
From thonder to save ye, and from spretes in every coost."


In the Tryall of a Man's own Selfe, by Thomas Newton, 1602, p. 44, he inquires, under "Sinnes externall and outward" against the first commandment, "whether, for the avoiding of any evill, or obtaining of any good, thou hast trusted to the helpe, protection, and furtherance of angels, either goode or badde. Hereunto is to be referred the paultring mawmetrie and heathenish worshipping of that domesticall god, or familiar aungell, which was thought to bee appropriated to everie particular person."

In answer to a query in the Athenian Oracle, vol. i. p. 4, "Whether every man has a good and bad angel attending him?" we find the following to our purpose: "The ministration of angels is certain, but the manner how, is the knot to be untied. 'Twas generally believed by the ancient philosophers, that not only kingdoms had their tutelary guardians, but that every person had his particular genius, or good angel, to protect and admonish him by dreams, visions, &c. We read that Origen, Hierome, Plato, and Empedocles in Plutarch, were also of this opinion; and the Jews themselves, as appears by that instance of Peter's deliverance out of prison. They believed that it could not be Peter, but his angel. But for the particular attendance of bad angels we believe it not, and we must deny it till it finds better proofs than conjectures."


September, when by custom, right divine,
Geese are ordain'd to bleed at Michael's shrine." CHURCHILL.

THERE is an old custom still in use among us of having a roast goose to dinner on Michaelmas-day. "Goose-intentos," as Blount tells us, is a word used in Lancashire, where "the husbandmen claim it as a due to have a Goose-intentos on the sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost: which custom took origin from the last word of the old church-prayer of that day: 'Tua [p.368] nos qusesumus, Domine, gratia semper prseveniat et sequatur; ac bonis operibus jugiter prsestet esse intentos." The common people very humorously mistake it for a goose with ten toes. This is by no means satisfactory. Beckwith, in his new edition of the Jocular Tenures, p. 223, says, upon it: "But besides that the sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, or after Trinity rather, being moveable, and seldom falling upon Michaelmas-day, which is an immoveable feast, the service for that day could very rarely be used at Michaelmas, there does not appear to be the most distant allusion to a goose in the words of that prayer. Probably no other reason can be given for this custom, but that Michaelmas-day was a great festival, and geese at that time most plentiful. In Denmark, where the harvest is later, every family has a roasted goose for supper on St. Martin's Eve.216

[The old custom of eating goose on Michaelmas-day has much exercised the ingenuity of antiquaries. Brady remarks that this festival "is no longer peculiar for that hospitality which we are taught to believe formerly existed, when the landlords used to entertain their tenants in their great halls upon geese: then only kept by persons of opulence, and of course considered as a peculiar treat, as was before the case at Martinmas, which was the old regular quarterly day: though as geese are esteemed to be in their greatest perfection in the autumnal season, there are but few families who totally neglect the ancient fashion of making that bird a part of their repast on the festival of St. Michael." There is a current but erroneous tale, assigning to Queen Elizabeth the introduction of this custom of the day. Being on her way to Tilbury Fort on the 29th September, 1588, she is alleged to have dined with Sir Neville Humfreville, at his seat near that place, and to [p.369] have partaken of a goose, which the knight, knowing her taste for high-seasoned dishes, had provided ; that after her dinner she drank a half-pint bumper of Burgundy to the destruction of the Spanish Armada; soon after which she received the joyful tidings that her wishes had been fulfilled; and that, being delighted with the event, she commemorated the day annually by having a goose for dinner, in imitation of Sir Neville's entertainment; and that, consequently, the court adopted the like practice, which soon became general throughout the kingdom. This anecdote is a strong proof that the usage was sanctioned by royalty in the days of Queen Bess, but there is evidence that it was practised long anterior to the destruction of the Spanish Armada.] Among other services, John de la Haye was bound to render to William Barnaby, Lord of Lastres, in the county of Hereford, for a parcel of the demesne lands, one goose fit for the lord's dinner on the feast of St. Michael the Archangel. And this as early as the tenth year of King Edward the Fourth. The custom may have originated in a habit among the rural tenantry, of their bringing a good stubble goose with their rent to the landlord at Michaelmas, in the hope of making him lenient. In the Poesies of George Gascoigne, 1575, are the following lines:

"And when the tenauntes come to paie their quarter's rent,
They bring some fowle at Midsummer, a dish of fish in Lent,
At Christmasse a capon, at Michaelmasse a goose,
And somewhat else at New Yere's tide, f or f care their lease file."

A pleasant writer in the periodical paper called The World, No. 10 (if I mistake not, the late Lord Orford), remarking on the effects of the alteration of the style, tells us: "When the reformation of the calendar was in agitation, to the great disgust of many worthy persons, who urged how great the harmony was in the old establishment between the holidays and their attributes (if I may call them so), and what confusion [p.370] would follow if Michaelmas-day, for instance, was not to be celebrated when stubble-geese are in their highest perfection; it was replied, that such a propriety was merely imaginary, and would be lost of itself, even without any alteration of the calendar by authority; for if the errors in it were suffered to go on, they would in a certain number of years produce such a variation that we should be mourning for good King Charles on a false 30th of January, at a time when our ancestors used to be tumbling over head and heels in Greenwich Park in. honour of Whitsuntide; and at length be choosing king and queen for Twelfth Night, when we ought to be admiring the London Prentice at Bartholomew Fair."

It is a popular saying, "If you eat goose on Michaelmasday you will never want money all the year round." Geese are eaten by ploughmen at harvest home.218 In Poor Robin's Almanack for 1695, under September, are the following quaint lines:

"Geese now in their prime season are,
Which, if well roasted are good fare:
Yet, however, friends, take heed
How too much on them you feed,
Lest when as your tongues run loose,
Your discourse do smell of goose."

Buttes, in his Dyets dry Dinner, 1599, says, on I know not what authority, that "a goose is the emblem of meere modestie."

In a curious tract entitled A Health to the Gentlemanly Profession of Servingmen, or the Servingman's Comfort, 1598, is the following passage: "He knoweth where to have a man that will stande him in lesse charge his neighbour's sonne, who will not onely maynteine himselfe with all necessaries, but also his father will gratifie his maister's kindnesse at Christmas with a New Yeere's Gyft, at other festivall times with pigge, goose, capon, or other such like householde provision." It appears, by the context, that the father of the serv- [p.371] ingman dots this to keep his son from going to serve abroad as a soldier. In Deering's Nottingham, p. 107, mention occurs of "hot roasted geese" having formerly been given on Michaelmas-day there by the old mayor, in the morning, at his house, previous to the election of the new one.

In the British Apollo, fol. Lond. 1708, vol. i. No. 74, is the following:

"Q.   Supposing now Apollo's sons
        Just rose from picking of goose bones,
        This on you pops, pray tell me whence
        The custom'd proverb did commence,
        That who eats goose on Michael's-day
        Shan't money lack his debts to pay.

A.    This notion, fram'd in days of yore,
        Is grounded on a prudent score;
        For, doubtless, 'twas at first designed
        To make the people Seasons mind,
        That so they might apply their care
        To all those things which needful were,
        And, by a good industrious hand,
        Know when and how t'improve their land."

In the same work, 1709, ii. 55, we have:

" Q.  Yet my wife would persuade me (as I am a sinner)
        To have a fat goose on St. Michael for dinner:
        And then all the year round, I pray you would mind it,
        I shall not want money oh ! grant I may find it.
        Now several there are that believe this is true,
        Yet the reason of this is desired from you.

A.    We think you're so far from the having of more,
        That the price of the goose you have less than before:
        The custom came up from the tenants presenting
        Their landlords with geese, to incline their relenting
        On following payments."

Our ancestors, when they found a difficulty in carving a goose, hare, or other dish, used to say, jestingly, that they should hit the joint if they could but think on the name of a cuckold.



MARTIN, in his Description of the Western Islands of Scotland, p. 213, speaking of the Protestant inhabitants of Skie, says, "They observe the festivals of Christmas, Easter, Good Friday, and that of St. Michael's. Upon the latter they have a cavalcade in each parish, and several families bake the cake called St. Michael's Bannock." In the same work, p. 100, speaking of Kilbar village, he observes: "They have likewise a general cavalcade on St. Michael's Day, in Kilbar village, and do then also take a turn round their church. Every family, as soon as the solemnity is ended, is accustomed to bake St. Michael's Cake, and all strangers, together with those of the family, must eat the bread that night."

In Macauley's History of St. Kilda, p. 82, we read: "It was, till of late, an universal custom among the islanders, on Michaelmas-day, to prepare in every family, a loaf of cake of bread, enormously large, and compounded of different ingredients. This cake belonged to the archangel, and had its name from him. Every one in each family, whether strangers or domestics, had his portion of this kind of shew-bread, and had, of course, some title to the friendship and protection of Michael." He adds, "In Ireland a sheep was killed in every family that could afford one, on the same anniversary; and it was ordained by law that a part of it should be given to the poor. This, as we gather from Keating's General History of Ireland, ii. 12, and a great deal more, was done in that kingdom to perpetuate the memory of a miracle wrought there by St. Patrick, through the assistance of the archangel. In commemoration of this, Michaelmas was instituted a festal day of joy, plenty, and universal benevolence." The following very extraordinary septennial custom at Bishops Stortford, in Hertfordshire, and in the adjacent neighbourhood, on Old Michaelmas-day, I find in a London newspaper, Oct. 18, 1787: "On the morning of this day, called Ganging-day, a great number of young men assemble in the fields, when a very active fellow is nominated the leader. This person they are bound to follow, who, for the sake of diversion, generally chooses the route through ponds ditches, and places of difficult passage. Every person they [p.373] meet is bumped, male or female; which is performed by two other persons taking them up by their arms, and swinging them against each other. The women in general keep at home at this period, except those of less scrupulous character, who, for the sake of partaking of a gallon of ale and a plum-cake, which every landlord or publican is obliged to furnish the revellers with, generally spend the best part of the night in the fields, if the weather is fair; it being strictly according to ancient usage not to partake of the cheer anywhere else."


[On St. Faith' s-day, Oct. 6th, a very curious love charm is employed in the north of England. A cake, of flour, springwater, salt, and sugar, must be made by three maidens or three widows, and each must have an equal share in the composition. It is then baked before the fire in a Dutch oven, and all the while it is doing, silence must be strictly observed, and the cake must be turned nine times, or three times to each person. When it is thoroughly done, it is divided into three parts, each one taking her share, and cutting into nine slips, must pass each slip three times through a wedding-ring, previously borrowed from a woman who has been married at least seven years. Then each one must eat her nine slips as she is undressing, and repeat the following verses:

"O good St. Faith, be kind to-night,
And bring to me my heart's delight;
Let me my future husband "view,
And be my visions chaste and true."

Then all three must get into one bed, with the ring suspended by a string to the head of the couch ; and they will be quite sure to dream of their future husbands.]



IN Fosbroke's British Monachism, ii. 127, mention occurs amidst the annual store of provision at Barking Nunnery, of "wheat and milk for frimite upon St. Alburg's Day."


DRAKE tells us in his Eboracum, p. 219, that "St. Luke's Day is known in York by the name of Whip-dog-day, from a strange custom that schoolboys use here of whipping all the dogs that are seen in the streets that day. Whence this uncommon persecution took its rise is uncertain: yet, though it is certainly very old, I am not of opinion, with some, that it is as ancient as the Romans. The tradition that I have heard of its origin seems very probable, that in times of Popery a priest, celebrating mass at this festival, in some church in York, unfortunately dropped the pax after consecration, which was snatched up suddenly and swallowed by a dog that lay under the altar-table. The profanation of this high mystery occasioned the death of the dog, and a persecution began, and has since continued, on this day, to be severely carried on against his whole tribe in our city."

[The following curious extract is taken from the second part of Mother Bunch's Closet Newly Broke Open: "The next which entered the room was Margaret, the miller's maid, who, after making a low curtesy, and giving Mother Bunch the time of the day, desired to know for what reason she sent her a letter. "Why," quoth the old woman, "that I might reveal to you some secrets that are both relative and conducive to love, which I have never yet discovered to the world." "But, mother," said Margaret, "I am a meer stranger to love, for I never knew what it meant." "That may be," quoth she; "yet you know not how soon you may receive the arrows of Cupid, and then you'll be glad of my advice; for [p.375] I know the best of you desires to lie with a man, and I'll appeal to you if you would not be glad of a husband." "Mother," quoth Margaret, "you come too close to the matter, and if I may speak my mind, I'd willingly embrace such a one; for although housekeeping is chargeable, yet marriage is honourable." "Thou say'st well, daughter," quoth Mother Bunch, "and if thou hast a mind to see the man, follow my directions, and you shall not fail. Let me see, this is St. Luke's Day, which 1 have found by long experience to be fitter for this purpose than St. Agnes' s, and the ingredients more excellent. Take marigold flowers, a sprig of marjoram, thyme, and a little wormwood; dry them before a fire, rub them to powder, then sift it thro' a fine piece of lawn; simmer these with a small quantity of virgin honey in white vinegar, over a slow fire; with this anoint your stomach, breast, and lips lying down, and repeat these words thrice:

"St. Luke, St. Luke, be kind to me;
In dreams let me my true love see!"

This said, hasten to sleep, and in the soft slumber of your night's repose, the very man whom you shall marry will appear before you, walking to and fro, near your bedside, very plain and visible to be seen. You shall perfectly behold his visage, stature, and deportment; and if he be one that will prove a loving husband, he will approach you with a smile; which, if he does, do not seem to be over fond or peevish, but receive the same with a mild and modest blush. But if it be one, who after marriage will forsake thy bed to wander after strange women, he will offer to be rude and uncivil with thee."]


IT appears that St. Simon's and St. Jude's Day was accounted rainy as well as St. Swithin's, from the following passage in the old play of the Roaring Girls: "As well as I [p.376] know 'twill rain upon Simon and Jude's Day." And again: "Now a continual Simon and Jude's rain beat all your feathers as flat down as pancakes." And we learn from Holinshed that, in 1536, when a battle was appointed to have been fought upon this day, between the king's troops and the rebels, in Yorkshire, that so great a quantity of rain fell upon the eve thereof as to prevent the battle from taking place. In the Sententiae Rythmicae of J. Buchlerus, p. 390, I find the following observations upon St. Simon and St Jade's Day:

"Festa dies JucUe prohibet te incedere nude,
Sed vult ut corpus vestibus omne tegas.
Festa dies Judae cum transiit atque Simonis
In foribus nobis esse putatur hiems.
Simonis, Judse post festum vag tibi nude,
Tune inflant genti mala gaudia veste carenti."219

[On this day take an apple, pare it whole, and take the paring in your right hand, and standing in the middle of the room, say the following verse:

"St. Simon and Jude, on you I intrude,
By this parting I hold to discover,
Without any delay, to tell me this day
The first letter of my own true lover."

Turn three times round, and cast the paring over your left shoulder, and it will form the first letter of your future husband's surname, but if the paring breaks into many pieces, so that no letter is discernible, you will never marry; take the pips of the same apple, put them into spring water and drink them. Why this latter injunction my informant sayeth not.]



IN the ancient Calendar of the Church of Rome, so often cited, I find the following observation on the 1st of November: "The feast of Old Fools is removed to this day." Hallow Even is the vigil of All Saints' Day, which is on the 1st of November.

It is customary on this night with young people in the north of England to dive for apples, or catch at them, when stuck upon one end of a kind of hanging beam, at the other extremity of which is fixed a lighted candle, and that with their mouths only, their hands being tied behind their backs.220

Dr. Goldsmith, in his Vicar of Wakefield, describing the manner of some rustics, tells us, among other customs which they preserved, that they "religiously cracked nuts on All-hallow Eve." In the Life and Character of Harvey, the famous Conjuror of Dublin, 1728, in a letter, dated Dublin, 31st of October, the author says, p. 10, "This is the last day of October, and the birth of this packet is partly owing to the affair of this night. I am alone; but the servants having demanded apples, ale, and nuts, I took the opportunity of running back my own annals of Allhallows Eve; for you are to know, my lord, that I have been a meer adept, a most famous artist both in the college and country, on occasion of this anile, chimerical solemnity. When my Life, which I have almost fitted for the press, appears in public, this Eve will produce some things curious, admirable, and diverting."

Nuts have not been excluded from the Catalogue of Superstitions under Papal Rome. Thus, on the 10th of August, in the Romish ancient Calendar I find it observed that some religious use was made of them, and that they were in great estimation: "Nuces in pretio et religiosse."


"The 1st of November," says Hutchinson, in his Northumberland, vol. ii. ad finem, p. 18, "seems to retain the celebration of a festival to Pomona, when it is supposed the summer stores are opened on the approach of winter. Divinations and consulting of omens attended all these ceremonies in the practice of the heathen. Hence, in the rural sacrifice of nuts, propitious omens are sought touching matrimony : if the nuts lie still and burn together, it prognosticates a happy marriage or a hopeful love; if, on the contrary, they bounce and fly asunder, the sign is unpropitious. I do not doubt but the Scotch fires kindled on this day anciently burnt for this rural sacrifice."

Nuts and apples chiefly compose the entertainment, and from the custom of flinging the former into the fire, or cracking them with their teeth, it has doubtless had its vulgar name of Nutcrack-night, and under that name is thus alluded to in Poor Robin for 1735: "This quarter begins the 12th of September, and holds till the 11th of December, in which time the landlord has a quarter-day, as he has in every one of the other quarters. This quarter also affords a Term begins for the lawyers, a Crispin for the shoemakers, a Lord Mayor's day for the citizens, a Nutcrack-night for young people and sweethearts; it brings on a winter, and a long dark nights for tallow-chandlers and linkboys, and concludes with a shortest day for everybody on this side the equinoctial." See in Stafford's Niobe, or his Age of Teares, 1611, p. 107, where this is called a Christmas Gambol. Polwhele describes it in his Old English Gentleman, p. 120:

"Or catch th' elusive apple with a bound,
As with its taper it flew whizzing round."

Mr. Pennant tell us, in his Tour in Scotland, that the young women there determine the figure and size of their husbands by drawing cabbages blindfold on Allhallow Even, and, like the English, fling nuts into the fire. This last custom is beautifully described by Gay in his Spell:

"Two hazel nuts I threw into the flame,
And to each nut I gave a sweetheart's name:


This with the loudest bounce me sore amaz'd,
That in Aflame of brightest colour blaz'd;
As blaz'd the nut so may thy passion grow,
For 'twas thy nut that did so brightly glow!"

Nor can I omit the following lines, by Charles Graydon, "On Nuts burning, Allhallows Eve," in a Collection of Poems, Dublin, 1801, p. 137:

"These glowing nuts are emblems true
Of what in human life we view;
The ill-match'd couple fret and fume,
And thus in strife themselves consume;
Or from each other wildly start,
And with a noise for ever part.
But see the happy, happy pair,
Of genuine love and truth sincere;
With mutual fondness, while they burn,
Still to each other kindly turn;
And as the vital sparks decay,
Together gently sink away:
Till life's fierce ordeal being past,
Their mingled ashes rest at last."

Owen, in his Welsh Dictionary, voce Cyniver, mentions "A play in which the youth of both sexes seek for an even-leaved sprig of the ash; and the first of either sex that finds one calls out Cyniver, and is answered by the first of the other that succeeds; and these two, if the omen fails not, are to be joined in wedlock."

It is a custom in Ireland, when the young women would know if their lovers are faithful, to put three nuts upon the bars of the grates, naming the nuts after the lovers. If a nut cracks or jumps, the lover will prove unfaithful; if it begins to blaze or burn, he has a regard for the person making the trial. If the nuts named after the girl and her lover burn together, they will be married.

[Our account of the ceremonies and divinations practised on this night will be best illustrated by the following extracts from Burns's poem, the notes to which will furnish the reader with much curious information:




Amang the bonnie winding banks
Whar Boon rins, 'wimplin', clear,
Where Bruce222 ance rul'd the martial ranks,
An' shook his Carrick spear,
Some merry, friendly, countra folks,
Together did convene,
To burn their nits, an' pou their stocks,
An' haud their Halloween
Fu' blythe that night.
Then, first and foremost, thro' the kail,
Their stocks223 maun a' be sought ance;
They steek their een, an' graip an' wale,
For muckle anes, an' straught anes
Poor hav'rel Will fell aff the drift,
An' wander'd through the bow-kail,
An' pou't, for want o' better shift
A runt was like a sow-tail,
Sae bow't that night.
Then, straught or crooked, yird or nane,
They roar an' cry a' throu'ther;
The vera wee-things, todlin', rin,
Wi' stocks out-owre their shouther;
An' gif the custoc's sweet or sour
Wi' joctelegs they taste them;
Syne coziely, aboon the door,
Wi' cannie care they've placed them,
To lie that night.


The lasses staw frae 'mang them a'.
To pou their stalks o' corn;224
But Rab slips out, an' jinks about.
Behint the muckle thorn:
He grippet Nelly hard an' fast;
Loud skirl'd a' the lasses;
But her tap-pickle maist was lost,
Whan kuittlin' in the Pause-house225
Wi' him that night.
The auld guidwife's weel-hoorded nits226
Are round an' round divided,
An' monie lads' and lasses' fates
Are there that night decided:
Some kindle, couthie, side by side,
An' burn thegither trimly;
Some start awa wi' saucy pride,
And jump out-owre the chimlie,
Fu' high that night.
But Merran sat behint their backs,
Her thoughts on Andrew Bell;
She lea'es them gashin' at their cracks,
An* slips out by hersel':
She thro' the yard the nearest taks,
An' to the kiln she goes then,
An' darklins graipit for the bauks,
And in the blue clue227 throws then,
Right fear't that night.


An' aye she win't, an' aye she swat;
1 wat she made nae jaukin';
Till something held within the pat;
Guid L d ! but she was quaukin'!
But whether 'twas the deil himsel',
Or whether 'twas a bauk-en',
Or whether it was Andrew Bell,
She did na wait on talkin'
To spier that night.
Wee Jenny to her grannie says,
"Will ye go wi' me, grannie?
I'll eat the apple 1 at the glass,
I gat frae uncle Johnnie."
She fuff' t her pipe wi' sic a lunt,
In wrath she was sae vap'rin228
She notic't na, an aizle brunt
Her braw new worset apron
Out thro' that night.
" Our stibble-rig was Rob M'Graen,
A clever, sturdy fallow;
He's sin gat Eppie Sim wi' wean,
That liv'd in Achmacalla:
He gat hemp-seed,229 mind it weel,
An' he made unco light o't
But monie a day was by-himsel'
He was sae sairly frighted
That vera night."
Then up gat fechtin Jamie Fleck,
An' he swoor by his conscience,
That he could saw hemp-seed a peck
For it was a' but nonsense.
The auld guidman raught down the pock,
An' out a handfu' gied him;
Syne bad him slip frae 'mang the folk,
Sometime when nae ane see'd him,
An' try't that night.


He marches thro' amang the stacks
Tho' he was something sturtin;
The graip he for a harrow taks,
An' haurls at his curpin:
In' every now an' then he says,
"Hemp-seed, I saw thee;
An' her that is to be my lass,
Come after me, an' draw thee
As fast this night.
Meg fain wad to the barn hae gane,
To win' three wechts o' naething;230
But for to meet the deil her lane,
She pat but little faith in:
She gies the herd a pickle nits,
An' twa red-cheekit apples,
To watch, while for the barn she sets,
In hopes to see Tarn Kipples
That vera night.
They hoy't out Will, wi' sair advice;
They hecht him some fine braw ane:
It chanc'd the stack he faddom't thrice,231
Was timmer-propt for thrawin':
He taks a swirlie, auld moss oak,
For some black, grousome carlin:
An' loot a winze, an' drew a stroke,
Till skin in blypes cam haurlin'
Aff's nieves that night.


A wanton widow Leezie was,
As canty as a kittlen;
But, och! this night, amang the shaws,
She got a fearfu' settlin'!232
She thro' the whins, an' by the cairn,
An' owre the hill gaed scrievin,
Whare three lairds' lands met at a burn,
To dip her left sark- sleeve in,
Was bent that night.
In order, on the clean hearthstane,
The luggies three233 are ranged;
And ev'ry time great care is ta'en,
To see them duly changed:
Auld uncle John, wha wedlock's joys
Sin' Mar's-year did desire,
Because he gat the toom-dish thrice,
He heav'd them on the fire
In wrath that night.
Wi' merry sangs, an' friendly cracks,
I wat they did na weary;
An' unco' tales, an funny jokes,
Their sports were cheap an' cheery;
Till butter'd so'ns,234 wi' fragrant lunt,
Set a' their gabs a-steerin';
Syne, wi' a social glass o' strunt,
They parted aff careerin',
Fu' blythe that night.

Gay mentions another species of love divination by the insect called the lady-fly:


"This lady-fly I take from off the grass,
Whose spotted back might scarlet red surpass.
Fly, lady-bird, north, south, or east, or west,
Fly where the man is found that I love best."
Ana thus also another, with apple-parings:
"I pare this pippin round and round again,
My shepherd's name to flourish on the plain;
I fling th' unbroken paring o'er my head,
Upon the grass a perfect L is read."

Girls made trial also of the fidelity of their swains by sticking an apple-kernel on each cheek. (The Connoisseur, No. 56, represents them as being stuck upon the forehead.) That which fell first indicated that the love of him whose name it bore was unsound. Thus Gay:

"This pippin shall another trial make;
See from the core two kernels brown I take:
This on my cheek for Lubberkin is worn,
And Booby Clod on t'other side is borne:
But Booby Clod soon drops upon the ground,
A certain token that his love's unsound;
While Lubberkin sticks firmly to the last;
Oh! were his lips to mine but join'd so fast!"

Something of this kind occurs in Beroaldus's Commentary on the Life of Claudius Caesar, cap. 8: "Hac tempestate pueri ossiculis cerasorum, quae digitis exprimunt, incessere homines ludibrij causa consueverunt. Scribit Porphyrio Horatianus interpres solere amantes duobus primis digitis compressare pomorum semina, eaque mittere in cameram, veluti augurium, ut si cameram contigerint sperare possint ad effectum perduci quod animo conceperunt" (Ad. C. Sueton. Tranq. xii. Caesares Comment, fol. Par. 1610, col. 560, a.)235


[I extract the following from an old chap-book, called the True Fortune-Teller, in a chapter headed To know whether a woman will have the man she wishes. "Get two lemon-peels, wear them all day, one in each pocket; at night rub the four posts of the bedstead with them; if she is to succeed, the person will appear in her sleep, and present her with a couple of lemons; if not, there is no hope!"]

The subsequent passage from Gay's Pastorals greatly resembles the Scottish rite, though at a different time of the year

"At eve last Midsummer no sleep I sought,
But to the field a bag of hemp-seed brought;
I scatter'd round the seed on ev'ry side,
And three times, in a trembling accent, crie
This hemp-seed with my virgin hand I sow.
Who shall my true love be, the crop shall mow."

[The following curious love divinations are extracted from the old chap-book, entitled Mother Bunch's Closet Newly Broke Open: "First, if any one here desires to know the name of the man whom she shall marry, let her who desires this seek a green peascod, in which there are full nine peas; which done, either write or cause to be written, on a small slip of paper, these words 'Come in, my dear, and do not fear;' which writing you must inclose within the aforesaid peascod, and lay it under the door, then mind the next person who comes in, for you'll certainly marry one of the same name. Secondly, she who desires to be satisfied whether she shall enjoy the man desired or no, let her take two lemon-peels, in the morning, and wear them all day under her arm-pits; then at night let her rub the four posts of the bed with them; which done, in your sleep he will seem to come and present you with a couple of lemons, but if not, there is no hope.


Thirdly, she who desires to know to what manner of fortune she shall be married, if a gentleman, a tradesman, or a traveller, the experiment is this: a walnut, a hazle-nut, and a nutmeg, grate them, and mix them; and mix them up with butter and sugar into pills, which must be taken at lying down, and then, if her fortune to marry a gentleman, her sleep will be filled with golden dreams; if a tradesman, odd noises and tumults, if a traveller, then will thunder and lightning disturb her. Fourthly, St. Agnes' s Day I have not yet wholly blotted out of my book, but I have found a more exact way of trial than before. You need not abstain from kisses, nor be forced to keep fast for a glance of a lover in the night. If you can but rise, to be at the church door between the hours of twelve and one in the morning, and put the forefinger of your right hand into the keyhole and then repeat the following words thrice:

"O sweet St. Agnes, now draw near,
And with my true love straight appear."

Then will he presently approach with a smiling countenance. Fifthly, my daughters, know ye the 14th of February is Valentine's day, at which time the fowls of the air begin to couple; and the young men and maids are for choosing their mates. Now, that you may speed, take this approved direction: Take five bay-leaves, lay one under every corner of your pillow, and the fifth in the middle; then lying down to rest, repeat these lines seven times:

"Sweet guardian angels, let me have,
What I most earnestly do crave,
A. Valentine endowed with love,
That will both kind and constant prove."

Then to your content you'll either have the Valentine you desire, or one more excellent.

THE DUMB-CAKE. In order to make the dumb-cake to perfection, it is necessary to observe strictly the following instructions: Let any number of young women take a handful of wheat flour, and place it on a sheet of white paper. Then sprinkle it over with as much salt as can be held between the finger and thumb; then one of the damsels must make it [p.388] into a dough without the aid of spring-water; which, being done, each of the company must roll it up, and spread it thin and broad, and each person must, at some distance from each other, make the initials of her name with a large new pin towards the end of the cake. The cake must then be set before the fire, and each person must sit down in a chair as far distant from the fire as the room will admit, riot speaking a single word all the time. This must be done soon after eleven at night; and between that and twelve o'clock each person must turn the cake once, and in a few minutes after the clock strikes twelve, the husband of her who is first to be married will appear, and lay his hand on that part of the cake which is marked with her name. Silence must be strictly preserved throughout this operation. Some say that the cake must be made of an eggshell-full of salt, an eggshell-full of wheat meal, and an eggshell-full of barley-meal.]

Snails, too, were used in love divinations; they were sent to crawl on the hearth, and were thought to mark in the ashes the initials of the lover's name. See some lines on this subject at p. 218. Shaw, in his History of the Province of Moray, p. 241, seems to consider the festivity of this night as a kind of harvest-home rejoicing: "A solemnity was kept," says he, "on the eve of the 1st of November, as a thanksgiving for the safe in-gathering of the produce of the fields. This I am told, but have not seen it, is observed in Buchan and other countries, by having Hallow Eve fire kindled on some rising ground"236

In Sinclair's Statistical Account of Scotland, 1793, v. 84, the minister of Logierait, in Perthshire, describing the superstitious opinions and practices in the parish, says: "On the evening of the 31st of October, O. S., among many others, one remarkable ceremony is observed. Heath, broom, and dressings of flax are tied upon a pole. This faggot is then kindled. One takes it upon his shoulders, and, running, bears it round the village. A crowd attend. When the first faggot [p.389] is burnt out, a second is bound to the pole and kindled in the same manner as before. Numbers of these blazing faggots are often carried about together, and when the night happens to be dark they form a splendid illumination. This is Hallow-e'en, and is a night of great festivity." The minister of Callander, in Perthshire, ibid., xi. 621, mentioning peculiar customs, says, "On All Saints' Even they set up bonfires in every village. When the bonfire is consumed, the ashes are carefully collected into the form of a circle. There is a stone put in near the circumference, for every person of the several families interested in the bonfire; and whatever stone is removed out of its place or injured before the next morning, the person represented by that stone is devoted, or fey, and is supposed not to live twelve months from that day; the people received the consecrated fire from the Druid priests next morning, the virtues of which were supposed to continue for a year." In the same work, 1795, xv. 517, the minister of Kirkmichael, in Perthshire, speaking of antiquities and curiosities, says, "the practice of lighting bonfires on the first night of winter, accompanied with various ceremonies, still prevails in this and the neighbouring Highland parishes. The custom, too, of making a fire in the fields, baking a consecrated cake, &c., on the 1st of May is not quite worn out." Ibid. xxi. 145, parish of Monguhitter, county of Aberdeen, we are told that formerly "the Midsummer Even fire, a relic of Druidism, was kindled in some parts of this county; the Hallow Even fire, another relic of Druidism, was kindled in Buchan. Various magic ceremonies were then celebrated to counteract the influence of witches and demons, and to prognosticate to the young their success or disappointment in the matrimonial lottery. These being devoutly finished, the hallow fire was kindled, and guarded by the male part of the family. Societies were formed, either by pique or humour, to scatter certain fires, and the attack and defence were often conducted with art and fury. But now, the hallow fire, when kindled, is attended by children only; and the country girl, renouncing the rites of magic, endeavours to enchant her swain by the charms of dress and of industry."

In North Wales (Mr. Pennant's MS; informs me) there is a custom upon All Saints' Eve of making a great fire called Coel Coeth, when every family about an hour in the night makes a [p.390] great bonfire in the most conspicuous place near the house, and when the fire is almost extinguished every one throws a white stone into the ashes, having first marked it; then having said their prayers turning round the fire, they go to bed. In the morning, as soon as they are up, they come to search out the stones, and if any one of them is found wanting they have a notion that the person who threw it in will die before he sees another All Saints' Eve. They have a custom also of distributing soul-cakes on All Souls' Day, at the receiving of which the poor people pray to God to bless the next crop of wheat. There is a general observation added: "N.B. 1735. Most of the harmless old customs in this MS. are now disused." In Owen's account of the Bards, however, preserved in Sir R. Hoare's Itinerary of Archbishop Baldwin through Wales, ii. 315, we read: "The autumnal fire is still kindled in North Wales, being on the eve of the 1st day of November, and is attended by many ceremonies; such as running through the fire and smoke, each casting a stone into the fire, and all running off at the conclusion to escape from the black short-tailed sow; then supping upon parsnips, nuts, and apples; catching at an apple suspended by a string, with the mouth alone, and the same by an apple in a tub of water; each throwing a nut into the fire; and those that burn bright betoken prosperity to the owners through the following year, but those that burn black and crackle denote misfortune. On the following morning the stones are searched for in the fire, and if any be missing, they betide ill to those who threw them in." Owen has prefaced these curious particulars by the following observations: "Amongst the first aberrations may be traced that of the knowledge of the great Huon, or the Supreme Being, which was obscured by the hieroglyphics or emblems of his different attributes, so that the grovelling minds of the multitude often sought not beyond those representations for the objects of worship and adoration. This opened an inlet for numerous errors more minute; and many superstitions became attached to their periodical solemnities, and more particularly to their rejoicing fires, on the appearance of vegetation in spring, and on the completion of harvest in autumn."

A writer in the Gent.'s Mag. for 1783, p. 578, thinks "the custom prevailing among the Roman Catholics of lighting fires [p.391] 'upon the hills on All Saints' night, the Eve of All Souls, scarcely needs explaining: fire being, even among the Pagans, an emblem of immortality, and. well calculated to typify the ascent of the soul to heaven." In the same work, for November 1784, p. 836, it is stated, that "at the village of Findern, in Derbyshire, the boys and girls go every year in the evening of the 2d of November (All Souls' Day), to the adjoining common, and light up a number of small fires amongst the furze growing there, and call them by the name of Tindles. Upon inquiring into the origin of this custom amongst the inhabitants of the place, they supposed it to be a relic of Popery, and that the professed design of it, when first instituted, was to light souls out of purgatory. But as the commons have been inclosed there very lately, that has most probably put an end to the custom, for want of the wonted materials." A third writer in the Gent.'s Mag. for 1788, p. 602, speaks of a custom observed in some parts of the kingdom among the Papists, of illuminating some of their grounds upon the Eve of All Souls by bearing round them straw, or other fit materials, kindled into a blaze. The ceremony is called a Tinley, and the vulgar opinion is, that it represents an emblematical lighting of souls out of purgatory. Accounts of the origin of the feast of All Souls may be seen in the Golden Legend and other Legends, and in Dupre's Conformity of Ancient and Modern Ceremonies, p. 92. In Sir William Dugdale's Diary, at the end of his Life, 1827, p. 104, we read, "On All-Hallow Even the master of the family anciently used to carry a bunch of straw, fired, about his corne, saying

'Fire and Red low
Light on my teen low.'"

The original memorandum was at the end of one of Dugdale's Almanacks of 1658.

Different places adopt different ceremonies. Martin tells us that the inhabitants of St. Kilda, on the festival of All Saints, baked "a large cake in the form of a triangle, furrowed round, and which was to be all eaten that night." The same, or a custom nearly similar, seems to have prevailed in different parts of England. The same writer, speaking of the Isle of Lewis, p. 28, says, "The inhabitants of this island had an ancient custom to sacrifice to a sea god, call'd Shony, at [p.392] Hallow-tide, in the manner following: the inhabitants round the island came to the church of St. Mulvay, having each man his provision along with him; every family furnish'd a peck of malt, and this was brewed into ale: one of their number was picked out to wade into the sea, up to the middle, and carrying a cup of ale in his hand, standing still in that posture, cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'Shony, I give you this cup of ale, hoping that you'll be so kind as to send us plenty of sea-ware for enriching our ground the ensuing year;' and so threw the cup of ale into the sea. This was performed in the night time. At his return to land they all went to church, where there was a candle burning upon the altar: and then standing silent for a little time, one of them gave a signal, at which the candle was put out, and immediately all of them went to the fields, where they fell a drinking their ale, and spent the remainder of the night in dancing and singing, &c." He adds, "the ministers in Lewis told me they spent several years before they could persuade the vulgar natives to abandon this ridiculous piece of superstition."

In the Festyvall, 1511, f. 149, is the following passage: "We rede in olde tyme good people wolde on All hallowen daye bake brade and dele it for all crysten soules." I find the following, which is much to my purpose, in Festa Anglo-Romana, p. 109: "All Souls' Day, Nov. 2d: the custom of Soul Mass cakes, which are a kind of oat cakes, that some of the richer sorts of persons in Lancashire and Herefordshire (among the Papists there) use still to give the poor on this day; and they, in retribution of their charity, hold themselves obliged to say this old couplet:

'God have your saul,
Beens and all.'"

At Ripon, in Yorkshire, on the eve of All Saints, the good women make a cake for every one in the family: so this is generally called Cake Night. See Gent. Mag. for Aug. 1790, p. 719. "My servant, B. Jelkes," says Brand, "who is from Warwickshire, informs me that there is a custom in that county to have seed cake at All-hallows, at the end of wheat seed-time.237 [p.393] As also that at the end of barley and bean seed-time there is a custom there to give the ploughmen froise, a species of thick pancake."

Bishop Kennett mentions the seed cake as an old English custom. It is also noticed by Tusser in his Five Hundred Pointes of Good Husbandrie, 1580, f. 75:

"Wife, some time this weeke, if the wether hold cleere,
An end of wheat-sowing we make for this yeare.
Remember you, therefore, though I do it not,
The Seed-cake, the Pasties, and Furmentie-pot."

"It is worth remarking," says Tollett, in a note on the Two Gent, of Verona, ii. 2, "that on All Saints' Day, the poor people in Staffordshire, and perhaps in other country places, go from parish to parish a souling, as they call it, i.e. begging and puling (or singing small, as Bailey's Dictionary explains puling) for soul cakes, or any good thing to make them merry. This custom is mentioned by Peck, and seems a remnant of Popish superstition to pray for departed souls, particularly those of friends. The Souler's Song in Staffordshire is different from that which Mr. Peck mentions, and is by no means worthy of publication."

[The custom of going a Souling still continues in some parts of the county, peasant girls going to farmhouses, singing,

"Soul, soul, for a soul cake,
Pray you, good mistress, a soul cake."

And other verses sung on the same occasion, but which I suspect are not the ancient ones, will be found under the article Catherning, Nov. 25th. It was formerly usual to keep a soulmass-cake for good luck. Mr. Young, in his History of Whitby, says, "a lady in Whitby has a soul-mass loaf near a hundred years old."]

Aubrey, in the Remains of Gentilisme, MS. Lansd. 227, says that, in his time, in Shropshire, &c., there was set upon the board a high heap of soul-cakes, lying one upon another, like the picture of the shew-bread in the old Bibles. They [p.394] were about the bigness of twopenny cakes, and every visitant that day took one. He adds, "there is an old rhyme or saying, 'A soule-cake, a soule-cake, have mercy on all Christen soules for a soule-cake.'"238

Brand, in his Description of Orkney, p. 62, speaking of the superstitions of the inhabitants, says, "when the beasts, as oxen, sheep, horses, &c., are sick, they sprinkle them with a water made up by them, which they call fore-spoken water; wherewith likewise they sprinkle their boats when they succeed and prosper not in their fishing. And especially on Hallow Even they use to sein or sign their boats, and put a cross of tar upon them, which my informer hath often seen. Their houses also some use then to sein." In the Statistical Account of Scotland, xii. 459, the minister of Kirkmichael, in Banffshire, tells us, "the appearance of the three first days of winter is observed in verses thus translated from the Gaelic: 'Dark, lurid, and stormy, the first three days of winter; whoever would despair of the cattle, I would not till summer.'"

It is stated in Kethe's Sermon preached at Blandford Forum, 1570, p. 19, that "there was a custom, in the Papal times, to ring bells at Allhallow-tide for all Christian souls. In the draught of a letter which Henry VIII. was to send to Cranmer "against superstitious practices," (Burnet's Hist. Ref. 1683, p. ii., Records and Instr. i. 237,) "the vigil and ringing of bells all the night long upon Allhallow Day at niaht" are directed to be abolished; and the said vigil to have no watching or ringing. In the Appendix also to Strype's Annals of the Reformation, vol. i., the following injunction, made early in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, occurs: "That the superfluous ringing of bels, and the superstitious ringing of bells at Allhallowntide, and at Al Souls Day, with the two nights next before and after, be prohibited."


In Nichols's Churchwarden's Accounts, p. 154, parish of Heybridge, near Maldon, Essex, 1517, are the following items: "Inprimis, payed for frankyncense agense Hollowmasse, 01. 0s. 1d. Item, payed to Andrew Elyott, of Maldon, for newe mendinge of the third bell knappell agenste Hallowmasse, 0l. 1s. 5d. Item, payed to John Gidney, of Maldon, for a new bell-rope agenste. Hallowmasse, 0l. 0s. 8d." In articles to be inquired of within the archdeaconry of York by the Churchwardens and sworn men, 163 ... any year till 1640), I find the following: "Whether there be any within your parish or chappelry that use to ring bells superstitiomly upon any abrogated holiday, or the eves thereof."

In a poem entitled Honoria, or the Day of All Souls, 1782, the scene of which is supposed to be in the great church of St. Ambrose at Milan, the 2d of November, on which day the most solemn office is performed for the repose of the dead, are these lines:

"Ye hallowed bells, whose voices thro' the air
The awful summons of afflictions bear."

The description of "All Soulne Day," in Barnabe Googe's translation of Naogeorgus's Popish Kingdome, is grossly exaggerated.

There is a great display of learning in Vallancey's Collectanea de Rebus Hibernicis, vol. iii., on Allhallow Eve. "On the Oidhche Shamhna (Ee Owna) or Vigil of Saman," he says, "the peasants in Ireland assemble with sticks and clubs (the emblems of laceration), going from house to house, collecting money, bread-cake, butter, cheese, eggs, &c. &c., for the feast, repeating verses in honour of the solemnity, demanding preparations for the festival in the name of St. Columb Kill, desiring them to lay aside the fatted calf, and to bring forth the black sheep. The good women are employed in making the griddle cake and candles; these last are sent from house to house in the vicinity, and are lighted up on the (Saman) next day, before which they pray, or are supposed to pray, for the departed soul of the donor. Every house abounds in the best viands they can afford; apples and nuts are devoured in abundance; the nut-shells are burnt, and from the ashes many strange things are foretold; cabbages are torn up by the root; hemp-seed is sown by the maidens and they believe that [p.396] if they look back they will see the apparition of the man intended for their future spouse; they hang a smock before the fire on the close of the feast, and sit up all night, concealed in a corner of the room, convinced that his apparition will come down the chimney and turn the smock; they throw a ball of yarn out of the window, and wind it on the reel within, convinced that if they repeat the Pater Noster backwards, and look at the ball of yarn without, they will then also see his sith or apparition; they dig for apples in a tub of water, and endeavour to bring one up in the mouth; they suspend a cord with a cross stick, with apples at one point, and candles lighted at the other, and endeavour to catch the apple, while it is in a circular motion, in the mouth. These, and many other superstitious ceremonies, the remains of Druidism, are observed on this holiday, which will never be eradicated while the name of Saman is permitted to remain."

A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine, for May, 1784, p. 343, says, he has often met with lambs' wool in Ireland, where it is a constant ingredient at a merry-making on Holy Eve, or the evening before All Saints' Day; and it is made there by bruising roasted apples and mixing them with ale, or sometimes with milk. Formerly, when the superior ranks were not too refined for these periodical meetings of jollity, white wine was frequently substituted for ale. To lambs' wool, apples and nuts are added as a necessary part of the entertainment, and the young folks amuse themselves with burning nuts in pairs on the bar of the grate, or among the warm embers, to which they give their name and that of their lovers, or those of their friends who are supposed to have such attachments, and from the manner of their burning and duration of the flame, &c., draw such inferences respecting the constancy or strength of their passions as usually promote mirth and good humour."

The feast of Allhallows is said to drive the Finns almost out of their wits. See an account of some singular ceremonies practised by them at this time in Tooke's Russia, i. 48.



IT is still customary in all parts of the country for the boys to dress up an image of the infamous conspirator Guy Fawkes, holding in one hand a dark lantern and in the other a bundle of matches, and to carry it about the streets, begging money in these words, "Pray remember Guy Fawkes!" In the evening there are bonfires, and these frightful figures are burnt in the midst of them. In Poor Robin's Almanack for the year 1677 are the following observations on the Fifth of November:

"Now boys with
Squibs and crackers play,
And bonfires blaze
Turns night to day."

[The House of Commons instituted this day "a holiday for ever in thankfulness to God for our deliverance and detestation of the Papists." See a letter dated Feb. 10th, 1605-6, in the Court and Times of James I., 1848, i. 46.]

When the Prince of Orange came in sight of Torbay, in 1688, we are told by Burnet, it was the particular wish of his partisans that he should defer his landing till the day the English were celebrating their former deliverance from Popish tyranny. Bishop Sanderson, in one of his Sermons, p. 242, says: "God grant that we nor ours ever live to see November the Fifth forgotten, or the solemnity of it silenced." The Standard Newspaper of Nov. 6th, 1834, has a paragraph relating to the falling off of the exhibition of Guy Fawkes; but descriptive of the old practice, in the memory of ancient people, of burning the figures of Guy Fawkes in Lincoln's Inn Fields, near what at that time was the Duke of Newcastle's house, as many as twelve or fourteen, between the hours of six and twelve at night.

[The following song is used in some parts of the North of England on this occasion:

"Hollo, boys, hollo, boys,
Let the bells ring;
Hollo, boys, hollo, boys,
God save the king.


Pray to remember,
The fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and plot,
When the king and his train
Had nearly been slain,
Therefore it shall not be forgot.
" Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,
And his companions,
Strove to blow all England up;
But God's mercy did prevent,
And sav'd our king and his parliament.
Happy was the man,
And happy was the day,
That caught Guy,
Going to his play,
With a dark lanthorn,
And a brimstone match,
Ready for the prime to touch.
" As I was going through the dark entry,
I spied the devil,
Stand back ! stand back!
Queen Mary's daughter,
Put your hand in your pocket
And give us some money,
To kindle our bonfire.
Huzza! Huzza!"

In the parish accounts of Islip, Oxfordshire, for 1700, is the entry, "For ringing on gunpowder treason, 2s. 6d." The following is the ballad now used in that village:

"The fifth of November,
Since I can remember,
Gunpowder treason and plot:
This is the day that God did prevent,
To blow up his king and parliament.
A stick and a stake
For Victoria's sake;
If you wont give me one
I'll take two:
The better for me,
And the worse for you."

The sovereign's name is of course adapted to the period ; but the above has certainly been current in the parish for nearly a century.]



FORMERLY a custom prevailed everywhere amongst us, though generally confined at present to country villages, of killing cows, oxen, swine, &c., at this season, which were cured for the winter, when fresh provisions were seldom or never to be had. In Tusser's Five Hundred Points of Husbandry, under June, "The Farmers Daily Diet," are the following lines:

"When Easter comes, who knows not than,
That veale and bacon is the man?
And Martilmass Eeefe doth bear good tacke,
When countrey folke do dainties lacke."

With this note in Tusser Redivivus, 1744, p. 78: "Martlemass beef is beef dried in the chimney, as bacon, and is so called because it was usual to kill the beef for this provision about the feast of St. Martin, Nov. 11 ." Hall, in his Satires, mentions

"dried flitcnes of some smoked beeve,
Hang'd on a writhen wythe since Martin's Eve."

"A piece of beef hung up since Martlemass" is also mentioned in the Pinner of Wakefield, 1599.

In the Statistical Account of Scotland, 1793, vi, 517, parish of Forfar, we read: about fifty or sixty years ago, "between Hallowmass and Christmass, when the people laid in their winter provisions, about twenty-four beeves were killed in a week; the best not exceeding sixteen or twenty stone. A man who had bought a shilling's worth of beef, or an ounce of tea, would have concealed it from his neighbours like murder." In the same work, ix, 326, parish of Tongland, Kirkcudbright, we have some extracts from a Statistical Account, "drawn up about sixty or seventy years ago," i.e. from 1793, in which it is stated that "at Martilmass" the inhabitants "killed an old ewe or two, as their winter provision, and used the sheep that died of the braxy in the latter end of autumn." Ibid. xiv. 482, parish of Wigton: "Almost no beef, and very little mutton, was formerly used by the common [p.400] people; generally no more than a sheep or two, which were killed about Martinmass, and salted up for the provision of the family during the year." Ibid. xvi. 460, parishes of Sandwick and Stromness, Orkney, we read: "In a part of the parish of Sandwick, every family that has a herd of swine, kills a sow on the 17th day of December, and thence it is called Sow-day. There is no tradition as to the origin of this practice."

Two or more of the poorer sort of rustic families still join to purchase a cow, &c., for slaughter at this time, called always in Northumberland a mart;239 the entrails of which, after having been filled with a kind of pudding meat, consisting of blood, suet, groats, &c.,240 are formed into little sausage links, boiled, and sent about as presents. They are called black-puddings from their colour.

The author of the Convivial Antiquities, tells us that in Germany there was in his time a kind of entertainment called "The feast of Sausages, or Gut-puddings,"241 which was wont to be celebrated with great joy and festivity. Butler mentions the black-pudding in his Hudibras, speaking of the religious scruples of some of the fanatics of his time:

"Some for abolishing black-pudding,
And eating nothing with the blood in."


The Feast of St. Martin is a day of debauch among Christians on the Continent: the new wines are then begun to be tasted, and the Saint's day is celebrated with carousing. Aubanus tells us that in Franconia there was a great deal of eating and drinking at this season; no one was so poor or so niggardly that on the feast of St. Martin had not his dish of the entrails either of oxen, swine, or calves. They drank, too, as he also informs us, very liberally of wine on the occasion.

In the ancient Calendar of the Church of Rome, so often quoted in this work, I find the subsequent observations on the 11th of November. "Martinalla, geniale Festum. Vini delibantur et defecantur. Vinalia, veterum festum hue translatum. Bacchus in Martini figura," i.e. wines are tasted and drawn from the lees. The Vinalia, a feast of the ancients, removed to this day. Bacchus in the figure of Martin. In Nichols's Illustrations, 1797, among the churchwardens' accounts of St. Martin Outwich, London, pp. 272-3, are the following articles: 1517. "Payd on Seynt Marten's Day for bred and drynke for the syngers, vd." 1524. "It'm for mendyng of the hovell on Sent Marten, vjd. It'm for rose garlands, brede, wyne, and ale, on ij. Sent Marten's Days, xvd. ob." 1525. "Payd for brede, ale, and wyne, and garlonds, on Seynt Martyn's Day, the translacyon, xvjd."

Stukely, Iter. vi. 131, speaking of Martinsall-hill, observes: "I take the name of this hill to come from the merriments among the northern people, call'd Martinalia, or drinking healths to the memory of St. Martin, practis'd by our Saxon and Danish ancestors. I doubt not but upon St. Martin's Day, or Martinmass, all the young people in the neighbourhood assembled here, as they do now, upon the adjacent St. Ann's-hill upon St. Ann's Day." A note adds, "St. Martin's Day, in the Norway clogs, is marked with a goose; for on that day they always feasted with a roasted goose: they say, St. Martin being elected to a bishoprick, hid himself (noluit episcopari), but was discovered by that animal. We have transferred the ceremony to Michaelmas."

The learned Moresin refers the great doings on this occasion, which, he says, were common to almost all Europe in his time, to an ancient Athenian festival, observed in honour of Bacchus, upon the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth days of the month Anthesterion, corresponding with our [p.402] November.242 Aubanus, before cited, seems to confirm this conjecture, though there is no mention of the slaughter of any animal in the description of the rights of the Grecian festival. The eleventh month had a name from the ceremony of "tapping their barrels on it;" when it was customary to make merry. See Potter's Grecian Antiquities. It is very observable that the fatted goose,243 so common in England at Michaelmas, is by the above foreign authors, and others, marked as one of the delicacies in common use at every table on the continent at Martinmass.244


The following is Googe's translation of Naogeorgus:

"To belly cheare yet once againe doth Martin more encline,
Whom all the people worshippeth with rosted geese and wine :
Both all the day long and the night now ech man open makes
His vessels all, and of the must oft time? the last he takes,
Which holy Martyn afterwarde alloweth to be wine;
Therefore they him unto the skies extoll with prayse devine,
And drinking deepe in tankardes large, and bowles of compasse wide
Yea, by these fees the schoolemaisters have profite great beside;
For with his scholars every one about do singing go,
Not praysing Martyn much, but at the goose rejoyceing tho' t
Whereof they oftentimes have part, and money therewithall ;
For which they celebrate this feast, with song and musicke all."

It may be proper to notice here M. Millin's tract, 'Les Martinales, ou Description d'une Medaille qui a pour Type I'Oie de la Saint-Martin, par A. L. Millin, Membre de 1'Institut Royale, 1815.' The medal alluded to, found in Denmark, had the appearance of having been struck about 1700; bearing a goose on one side, and on the reverse the word "MARTIN ALIA."

I read in the Glossary to Rennet's Parochial Antiquities, "SALT SILVER. One penny paid at the Feast of Saint Martin, by the servile tenants to their lord, as a commutation for the service of carrying their lord's SALT from market to his larder."

Douce says, that on St. Martin's night, boys expose vessels of water, which they suppose will be converted into wine. The parents deceive them by substituting wine. Dresier de festis diebus. Weinnacht is explained in Duben. Catal. Prodig. p. 22. See also Hospinian. Orig. Festor. f. 159.

[The following verses are extracted from an old ballad entitled Martilmasse Day:

"It is the day of Martilmasse,
Cuppes of ale should freelie passe,
What though Wynter has begunne
To push downe the summer sunne
To our fire we can betake,
And enjoye the crackling brake,
Never heeding winter's face,
On the day of Martilmasse.


"Nel had left her wool at home,
The Flanderkin hath stayed his loom,
No beame doth swinge, nor wheel go round,
Upon Gurgunt urn's walled ground.
Where now no anchorite doth dwell,
To rise and pray at Lenard's bell:
Martyn hath kicked at Balaam's ass,
So merrie be old Martilmasse

When the dailie sportes be done,
Rounde the market crosse they runne,
Prentis laddes, and gallant blades,
Dancing with their gamesome maids,
Till the beadle, stout and sowre,
Shakes his bell and calls the houre:
Then farewell ladde and farewell lasse
To th' merry night of Martilmasse.

"Martilmasse shall come againe,
Spite of wind, and snow, and raine;
But many a strange thing must be done,
Many a cause be lost and won,
Many a tool must leave his pelfe,
Many a worldlinge cheat himselfe,
And many a marvel come to passe,
Before return of Martilmasse."]


FROM a variety of notices scattered in different publications, the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's Accession appears to have been constantly observed even within the last century; and in many of the almanacs was noted, certainly as late as 1684, and probably considerably later.245

In a Protestant Memorial for the Seventeenth of November, [p.405] being the Inauguration Day of Queen Elizabeth, 1713, is the following passage: "In a grateful remembrance of God's mercy in raising up, continuing, and prospering this most illustrious benefactor of England, the good Protestants of this nation (those especially of London and Westminster) have annually taken notice (and not without some degree of decent and orderly solemnity) of the 17thof November, being the day on which her Majesty Queen Elizabeth began her happy reign. And at present," the author adds, "such decent and orderly observation of it seems to me not only warranted by former motives, but also enforc'd by a new and extraordinary argument. For this present Pope, call'd Clement XL, has this very year canoniz'd the forementioned enemy of England, Pope Pius the Fifth, putting him into the number of heavenly saints, and falling down and worshipping that image of a deity, which he himself has set up. Now the good Protestants of England, who well consider that this present Pope has, so far as in him lies, exalted that Pope who was so bold and so inveterate an adversary of Queen Elizabeth, and all her subjects, as also that he is an avowed patron of the Pretender, will think it behoves them to exert their zeal now, and at all times, (tho' always in a fit and legal manner,) against the evil spirit of Popery, which was cast out at the Reformation, but has ever since wandered about seeking for a remittance, which I verily hope the good providence of God, at least for his truth's sake, will never permit. I say we have now a new motive to this zeal, the preservation of our most gracious Queen Anne being to be added to the vindication of the most gracious Queen Elizabeth."

[A jest related in the Plesant Conceites of Old Hobson, 1607, commences, "Upon Saint Hewes Day, being the seventeenth of November, upon which day the triumph was holden for Queene Elizabeth's happy government, as bonfiers, ringing of bells, and such like, &c."]

The figures of the Pope and the Devil were usually burnt on this occasion. In the Gentleman's Magazine for November 1760, p. 514, is an account of the remarkable cavalcade on the evening of this day in 1679, at the time the Exclusion Bill was in agitation, copied from Lord Somers's Collection, vol. xx. The Pope, it should seem, was carried on this occasion in a pageant representing a chair of state covered [p.406] with scarlet, richly embroidered and fringed; and at his back, not an effigy, but a person representing the Devil, acting as his holiness's privy-councillor; and "frequently caressing, hugging, and whispering him, and oftentimes instructing him aloud." The procession was set forth at Moorgate, and passed first to Aldgate, thence through Leadenhall street, by the Royal Exchange and Cheapside to Temple Bar. The statue of the queen on the inner or eastern side of Temple Bar having been conspicuously ornamented, the figure of the Pope was brought before it, when, after a song, partly alluding to the protection afforded by Elizabeth to Protestants, and partly to the existing circumstances of the times, a vast bonfire having been prepared "over against the Inner Temple Gate, his holiness, after some compliments and reluctances, was decently toppled from all his grandeur, into the impartial flames; the crafty devil leaving his infallibilityship in the lurch, and laughing as heartily at his deserved ignominious end, as subtle Jesuits do at the ruin of bigoted lay Catholics whom have themselves drawn in."

Bishop Kennett, in one of his MSS. now in the Museum, notices a "Sermon at St. Paul's Cross, the 17th of November, 1599, by Thomas Holland, D.D., Professor of Divin. in Oxford, on Mat. xii. 42; to which is annexed the Apologie or Defence of the Church and Commonwealth of England for their annual celebration of Queen Elizabeth's Coronation Day, the 17th of November, 4to. 1601." In the Apology he lays down "The State of the Question. 1. Whether the sacred solemnities at these times yearly celebrated by the Church of England, the 17th of November, commonly named 'Queen Elizabeth's Holiday,' be repugnant to the immaculate institutions of the law of God, and to the reverend and Christian constitutions of the Holy Catholique Church. 2. Whether the triumphs undertaken and performed at Court that day, bonfires, ringing of bells, discharging of ordnance at the Tower of London in the honour of the Queen, and other signs of joy than usually and willingly exhibited by the people of our land to express their unfeigned love to her Majestie, be laudable, convenient, and in their own natures tolerable in a Christian commonwealth. The adversaries hold the negative, particularly Nic. Sanders, in his book de Schismate, Ep. 302-3; Will Reynolds, in Calvino-Duraismus, lib. 2, p. 347, cap. 18; and Nicholaus Serrarius. [p.407] Manner of celebrating the day: The particular office on the 17th of November now used is an exposition of some part of scripture and public prayer. The exposition of scripture chosen by the minister that day is such as is fitte to perswade the auditory to due obedience to her Majestic, and be thankful to God for her Majesty's happy and flourishing regiment," &c.

One great objection of the Papists was, that the solemnizing of Queen Elizabeth's Holiday shut out the Memorial of St. Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, a canonized saint. "Time of beginning of the observation of the 17th of November: About the 12th year of the reign of her Excellency, was the first practice of the publick solemnization of this day, and (as farre-forth as I can hear, or can by any diligent inquiry learne) the first public celebrity of it was instituted in Oxford, by D. Cooper, being then their Vice-chan., after B. of Line., and by remove from thence, B. of Winches., from whence this institution flowed, by a voluntary current, over all this realme, not without the secret motion of God's Holy Spirit," &c.

In Queen Anne's time a fresh advantage was taken of this anniversary ; and the figure of the Pretender, in addition to those of the Pope and the Devil, was burnt by the populace. This custom was probably continued even after the defeat of the second Pretender, and no doubt gave rise to the following epigram printed in the works of Mr. Bishop:

"Quaere Peregrinum.

"Three Strangers blaze amidst a bonfire's revel:
The Pope, and the Pretender, and the Devil.
Three Strangers hate our faith, and faith's defender:
The Devil, and the Pope, and the Pretender.
Three Strangers will be strangers long we hope:
The Devil, and the Pretender, and the Pope.
Thus in three rhymes, three Strangers dance the hay:
And he that chooses to dance after 'em may."

In the volume of Miscellanies, without a title, in the British Museum, of the time of George I., I find, p. 65, "Merry observations upon every month, and every remarkable day throughout the whole year." Under November, p. 99, it is said: "The 1 9th of this month will prove another Protestant holiday, dedicated to the pious memory of that antipapistical [p.408] princess and virgin preserver of the Reformed Churches, Queen Elizabeth. This night will be a great promoter of the tallow-chandlers' welfare: for marvellous illuminations will be set forth in every window, as emblems of her shining virtues; and will be stuck in clay, to put the world in mind that grace, wisdom, beauty, and virginity, were unable to preserve the best of women from mortality.

With the Society of the Temple, the 17th of November is considered as the grand day of the year. It is yet kept as a holiday at the Exchequer, and at Westminster and Merchant Tailors' Schools. At Christ's Hospital also the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth is a prime holiday. The Governors attend an annual sermon at Christ Church, and afterwards dine together in their hall.


DR. PLOTT, in his History of Staffordshire, p. 430, describing a Clog-Almanack, says, "A pot is marked against the 23d of November, for the Feast of St. Clement, from the ancient custom of going about that night to beg drink to make merry with."

[Hone has printed the following account of an annual ceremony on the evening of St. Clement's day, by the blacksmiths' apprentices of the dockyard at Woolwich: "One of the senior apprentices being chosen to serve as Old Clem (so called by them), is attired in a great coat, having his head covered with an oakum wig, face masked, and a long white beard flowing therefrom. Thus attired he seats himself in a large wooden chair, chiefly covered with a sort of stuff called bunting, with a crown and anchor made of wood, on the top and around it, four transparencies representing the 'blacksmiths' arms,' 'anchorsmiths at work,' 'Britannia with her anchor,' and 'Mount Etna.' He has before him a wooden anvil, and in his hands a pair of tongs and wooden hammer, which, in general, he makes good use of whilst reciting his speech. A [p.409] mate, also masked, attends him with a wooden sledge hammer; he is also surrounded by a number of other attendants, some of whom carry torches, banners, flags, &c.; others battle-axes, tomahawks, and other accoutrements of war. This procession, headed by a drum and fife, and six men, with Old Clem mounted on their shoulders, proceed round the town, stopping and refreshing at nearly every public-house, (which, by the by, are pretty numerous) not forgetting to call on the blacksmiths and officers of the dockyard. There the money-box is pretty freely handed after Old Clem and his mate nave recited their speeches, which commence by the mate calling for order, with

'Gentlemen all, attention give,
And wish St. Clem, long, long, to live.'

Old Clem then recites the following speech: 'I am the real St. Clement, the first founder of brass, iron, and steel, from the ore. I have been to Mount Etna, where the god Vulcan first built his forge, and forged the armour and thunderbolts for the god Jupiter. I have been through the deserts of Arabia ; through Asia, Africa, and America; through the city of Pongrove; through the town of Tipmingo, and all the northern parts of Scotland. I arrived in London on the 23rd of November, and came down to his majesty's dockyard, at Woolwich, to see how all the gentlemen Vulcans came on there. I found them all hard at work, and wish to leave them well on the 24th. The mate then subjoins:

'Come all you Vulcans stout and strong,
Unto St. Clem we do belong,
I know this house is well prepared
With plenty of money, and good strong beer,
And we must drink before we part,
All for to cheer each merry heart,
Come all you Vulcans strong and stout,
Unto St. Clem I pray turn out
For now St. Clem's going round the town
His coach and six goes merrily round.

After having gone round the town and collected a pretty decent sum, they retire to some public-house, where they enjoy as good a supper as the money collected will allow."]


In a proclamation, July 22, 1540, in an ancient Chronicle respecting London, 8vo., it is ordered "neither that children should be decked, ne go about upon S. Nicholas, S. Katharine, S. Clement, the Holy Innocents, and such like dayes."

Brady, in his Clavis Calendaria, 1812, ii. 279, observes that OLD MARTINMAS continues to be noticed in our almanacs on the 23d of November, because it was one of the ancient quarterly periods of the year, at which even at this time a few rents become payable. A payment of corn at Martinmas occurs in the Domesday Survey, i. 280.


SAINT CATHARINE has been already noticed from Googe's translation of Naogeorgus as the favourer of learned men. The same writer adds,

"What should I tell what sophisters on Cathrin's Day devise?
Or else the superstitious joyes that maisters exercise."

Camden, in his Ancient and Modern Manners of the Irish, says, " The very women and girls keep a fast every Wednesday and Saturday throughout the yeare, and some of them also on St. Catharine's Day; nor will they omit it though it happen on their birthday, or if they are ever so much out of order. The reason given by some for this is, that the girls may get good husbands, and the women better by the death or desertion of their present ones, or, at least, by an alteration in their manners."

["Old Symon Brunsdon, of Winterton Basset, in Wilts, he had been parish-clarke there, tempore Marise Reginse: the tutelar saint of that church is Saint Katharine. He lived downe till the beginning of King James I. When the gad-flye had happened to sting his oxen or cowes, and made them to run away in that champagne country, he would run after them, crying out, praying "Good Saint Katharine, of Winterborne, stay my oxen." MS. Aubrey. Thorn's Anecdotes and Traditions, p. 87.]


In an original MS. of the Churchwardens' Accounts of Horley, co. Surrey, I find: "Mem. that reste in the hands of the wyffe of John Kelyoke and John Atye, 4 merkes, the yere of ower Lord God 1521, of Sent Kateryn mony. Mem. that rests in the hands of the wyff of John Atthy, and the wyff of Rye Mansell, 3 pounds, 2s. 9d. the yere of our Lorde God 1522, of Sent Kateryn mony. Summa totalis S'cte Katerine V. Luminis remanet in manibus uxoris Johannis Peers et uxoris WyPi Celarer, anno D'ni 1526, tres libras et undecim solidos. Summa totalis S'cte Katerine Luminis remanet in manibus uxoris Wyl'i Cowper, et uxoris Thome Leakeforde, anno D'ni 1527, quatuor marcas. Summa totalis Katerine Luminis remanet in manibus uxoris Thome Leakeforth, et uxoris Henrici Huett, anno D'ni 1528, quatuor marcas. Item remanet in manibus uxoris Joh'is Bray, de eodem Luminis, anno supradicto, 17 s."

[The Charms of St. Catharine. Let any number of young women not exceeding seven, nor less than three, assemble in a room by themselves, just as the clock strikes eleven at night. Take from your bosom a sprig of myrtle, which you must have worn there all day, and fold it up in a piece of tissue paper; then light up a small chafing-dish of charcoal, and let each maiden throw on it nine hairs from her head, and a paring of each of her toe and finger nails. Then let each sprinkle a
small quantity of myrrh and frankincense in the charcoal, and while the vapour rises, fumigate the myrrh with it. Go to bed while the clock is striking twelve, and place the myrtle exactly under your head. You will then be sure to dream of your future husband. This curious account is taken from Mother Bunch's Golden Fortune Teller, a chap-book in my possession.]


La Motte, in his Essay on Poetry and Painting, 1730, p. 126, says: "St. Catharine is esteemed in the Church of Rome as the saint and patroness of the spinsters; and her holiday is observed, not in Popish countries only, but even in many places in this nation; young women meeting on the 25th of November, and making merry together, which they call Catherning."


[The following account of this custom was communicated by a correspondent to the Athenaeum, October 31st, 1846: "Having been reared in a remote village in Worcestershire, your papers on Folk-Lore have recalled a custom to my memory, which was called going 'a Cattaring,' from St. Catharine, in honour of whom, and of St. Clement, it originated. About this season of the year the children of the cottagers used to go round to the neighbouring farm-houses, to beg apples and beer, for a festival on the above saints' days. The apples were roasted on a string before the fire, stuck thickly over with cloves, and allowed to fall into a vessel beneath. There were set verses for the occasion, which were sung, in a not unmusical chant, in the manner of carol singing. I can only recollect the first few lines:

Catt'n and Clement comes year by year.
Some of your apples and some of your beer;
Some for Peter, some for Paul,
Some for Him who made us all
Peter was a good old man,
For his sake give us some:
Some of the best, and none of the worst,
And God will send your souls to roost.
I well remember it always concluded with
'Up the ladder and down with the can,
Give me red apples and I'll begone.'

The ladder alluding to the store of apples, generally kept in a loft, or somewhere at the top of the house; and the can, doubtless, to the same going down into the cellar for the beer."

Some years ago (1844) Mr. George Stephens, now resident at Stockholm, communicated to me another version of the above lines, which contained some trifling variations. The last lines were,

"Not of the worst, but some of the best,
And God will send your soul to rest."

Until within a very recent period, it was the custom of the dean and chapter of Worcester, yearly, on St. Catharine's Day, being the last day of their annual audit, to distribute amongst the inhabitants of the college precincts a rich compound of [p.413] wine, spices, &c., which was specially prepared for the occasion, and called the Cattern or Catharine bowl. In another paper, in the Athenaeum, 1847, Mr. Allies informs us, that the following lines were sung by the children on the occasion of Catherning:

"If you're within,
Open the door and let us in,
And when we're in,
We won't come out
Without a red apple
Rolled up in a clout.
Roll, roll,

Gentle butler, fill the bowl;
If you fill it of the best,
God will send your soul to rest;
But if you fill it of the small,
The devil take butler, bowl and all.

"Our bowl is made of the ashen tree.
Pray good butler drink to we!
Some for Peter some for Paul,
A few red apples will serve us all."

Mr. Allies adds, "I recollect that, in my juvenile days, 1 once saw, at the season in question, apples roasting on strings before the kitchen fire, at a farm-house, in Leigh parish, in this county, in the manner above alluded to. They were studded thickly with oats instead of cloves, and some of the apples so studded were not roasted, but each affixed on a wooden skewer, and dredged all over with flour, resembling, in a manner, a dandelion in full seed."

The following lines were taken down verbatim from the lips of one of the merry pack, who sing them from door to door on the eve of All Souls' Day, in Cheshire, and are similar to those quoted above:

"Soul Day, Soul Day, Saul!
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for Him who made us all.
An apple or a pear, a plum or a cherry,
Any good thing that will make us all merry.
Put your hand in your pocket and pull out your keys,
Go down in the cellar, bring up what you please,
A glass of your wine, or a cup of your beer,
And we'll never come Souling till this time next year.


We are a pack of merry boys an in a mind,
We have come a souling foe what we can find.
Soul! Souls! Sole of my shoe,
If you have no apples, money will do.

"Up with your kettle and down with your pan,
Dive us an answer and let us be goae."]


(The twenty-fifth Sunday after Trinity is called by school-boys Stir-up Sunday from the collect used on that day; and they repeat the following lines, without considering its irreverent application:

"Stir up, we beseech thee,
The pudding in the pot.
And when we get home,
We'll eat it all hot."]


LUTHER, in his Colloquia, i. 233, says, that on the evening of the feast of St. Andrew the young maidens in his country strip themselves naked: and, in order to learn what sort of husband they shall have, they recite the following prayer: "Deus, Deus meus, O Sancte Andrea, effice ut bonmn pium acquiram virum; hodie mihi ostende qualis sit cui me in uxorem ducere debet," Googe, in the translation of Naogeorgus, f. 55, probably alludes to some such observances:

"To Andrew all the lovers and the lustie woers come,
Beleeving, through his ayde, and certaine ceremonies done,
(While as to him they presentes bring, and conjure all the night,)
To have good lucke, and to obtain their chiefe and sweet delight."

In the Statistical Account of Scotland, xviii. 359, Dndings-ston parish, distant from Edinburgh a little more than a mile, [p.415] we read that many of the opulent citizens resort thither in the summer months to solace themselves over one of the ancient homely dishes of Scotland, for which the place has been long celebrated. The use of singed sheep's heads, boiled or baked, so frequent in this village, is supposed to have arisen from the practice of slaughtering the sheep fed on the neighbouring hill for the market, removing the carcases to town, and leaving the heads, &c., to be consumed in the place. Singed sheep's heads are borne in the procession before the Scots in London, on St. Andrew's day.

Hasted, in his History of Kent, ii. 757, speaking of the parish of Easting, says, that "On St. Andrew's Day, November 30, there is yearly a diversion called squirrel-hunting in this and the neighbouring parishes, when the labourers and lower kind of people, assembling together, form a lawless rabble, and bring accoutred with guns, poles, clubs, and other such weapons, spend the greatest part of the day in parading through the woods and grounds, with loud shoutings, and under pretence of demolishing the squirrels, some few of which they kill, they destroy numbers of hares, pheasants, partridges, and, in short, whatever comes in their way, breaking down the hedges, and doing much other mischief, and in the evening betaking themselves to the alehouses, finish their career there, as is usual with such sort of gentry."

[A correspondent of the Athenaeum, 993, says that this custom was kept up in Sussex till within the last thirty or forty years, many people now living having often joined in it; but now, in consequence of the inclosure of the coppices, and the more strict preservation of the game, it has wholly dropped.]

In Scotland this day is called Andrys Day, Androiss Mess, and Andermess.

December 6.

ST. NICHOLAS was born at Patara, a city of Lycia, and, for a piety, from a layman was made bishop on the 8th of the ides of December, 343.


Some have thought that it was on account of his very early abstinence246 that he was chosen patron of schoolboys; but a much better reason is afforded to us by a writer in the Gent.'s Magazine for April, 1777, p. 158, who mentions having in his possession an Italian Life of St. Nicholas, 1645, from which he translates the following story, which fully explains the occasion of boys addressing themselves to St. Nicholas's patronage: "The fame of St. Nicholas's virtues was so great, that an Asiatic gentleman, on sending his two sons to Athens for education, ordered them to call on the bishop for his benediction, but they, getting to Myra late in the day, thought proper to defer their visit till the morrow, and took up their lodgings at an inn, where the landlord, to secure their baggage and effects to himself, murdered them in their sleep, and then cut them into pieces, salting them, and putting them into a pickling tub, with some pork which was there already, meaning to sell the whole as such. The bishop, however, having had a vision of this impious transaction, immediately resorted to the inn, and, calling the host to him, reproached him for his horrid villainy. The man, perceiving that he was discovered, confessed his crime, and entreated the bishop to intercede on his behalf to the Almighty for his pardon; who, being moved with compassion at his contrite behaviour, confession, and thorough repentance, besought Almighty God not only to pardon the murderer, but also, for the glory of his name, to restore life to the poor innocents who had been so [p.417] inhumanly put to death. The saint had hardly finished his prayer, when the mangled and detached portions of the two youths were, by divine power, reunited, and perceiving themselves alive, threw themselves at the feet of the holy man to kiss and embrace them. But the bishop, not suffering their humiliation, raised them up, exhorting them to return thanks to God alone for this mark of his mercy, and gave them good advice for the future conduct of their lives; and then giving them his blessing, he sent them with great joy to prosecute their studies at Athens." And adds: "This, I suppose, sufficiently explains the naked children and tub," the well-known emblems of St. Nicholas.247

[A curious practice, still kept up in schools, refers to this patron saint. When a boy is hard pressed in any game depending upon activity, and perceives his antagonist gaining ground upon him, he cries out Nic'las, upon which he is entitled to a suspension of the play for a moment; and on any occasion of not being ready, wanting, for instance, to fasten his shoe, or remedy any accidental inconvenience, the cry of Nic'las always entitles him to protection.]

It appears that Gregory the Great was also the patron of scholars, and that on his day boys were called, and in many places, in Hospinian's time, still continued to be called, to the school with certain songs, substituting one in the place of St. Gregory to act as bishop on the occasion with his companions [p.418] of the sacred order. Presents were added, to induce the boys to love their schools. This custom is stated to have descended from the heathens to the Christians. Among the ancient Romans, the Quinquatria, on the 20th of March, were the holidays both of masters and scholars, on which occasion the scholars presented their masters with the Minervalia, and the masters distributed among the boys ears of corn.248

From the circumstance of scholars being anciently denominated clerks, the fraternity of Parish Clerks adopted St. Nicholas as their patron. In Shakespeare's First Part of Henry IV., act ii. sc. 1, robbers are called St. Nicholas's clerks. They were also called St. Nicholas's knights. St. Nicholas being the patron saint of scholars, and Nicholas, or Old Nick, a cant name for the devil, this equivocal patronage may possibly be solved; or, perhaps, it may be much better accounted for by the story of St. Nicholas and some thieves, whom he compelled to restore some stolen goods, and brought "to the way of trouth;" for which the curious reader is referred to the Golden Legend. In Plaine Percevall, the Peace-Maker of England, 4to., we read, p. 1: "He was a tender-harted fellow, though his luck were but hard, which hasting to take up a quarrell by the highway side, between a brace of St. Nicholas's clarffiemen, was so courteously imbraced on both parties, that he tendered his purse for their truce."

There is no end of St. Nicholas's patronship. He was also the mariners' saint. In the Vitae Sanctorum, by Lippeloo and Gras, 1603, we read, in his Life, that St. Nicholas preserved from a storm the ship in which he sailed to the Holy Land; and also certain mariners, who in a storm invoked his aid; to whom, though at a distance and still living, he ap- [p.419] peared in person, and saved them.249 See Gent. Mag. Oct. 1790, p. 1076. Armstrong, in his History of the Island of Minorca, 1756, p. 72, speaking of Ciudadella, says: "Near the entrance of the harbour stands a chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas, to which the sailors resort that have suffered ship-wreck, to return thanks for their preservation, and to hang up votive pictures (representing the danger they have escaped), in gratitude to the Saint for the protection he vouchsafed them, and in accomplishment of the vows they made in the height of the storm. This custom, which is in use at present throughout the Roman Catholic world, is taken from the old Romans, who had it, among a great number of other superstitions, from the Greeks; for we are told that Bion the philosopher was shown several of these votive pictures hung up in a temple of Neptune near the sea-side. Horace alludes to them in his Odes, i. 5. St. Nicholas is the present patron of those who lead a seafaring life (as Neptune was of old), and his churches generally stand within sight of the sea, and are plentifully stocked with pious moveables."

Hospinian tells us that in many places it was the custom for parents, on the vigil of St. Nicholas, to convey, secretly, presents of various kinds to their little sons and daughters, who were taught to believe that they owed them to the kindness of St. Nicholas and his train, who, going up and down among the towns and villages, came in at the windows, though they were shut, and distributed them. This custom, he says, originated from the legendary account of that Saint having given portions to three daughters of a poor citizen, whose necessities had driven him to an intention of prostituting them, and this he effected by throwing a purse filled with money, privately, at night, in at the father's bed- [p.420] chamber window, to enable him to portion them out honestly. So Naogeorgus:

"Saint Nicholas money usde to give to maydens secretlie,
Who, that he still may use his wonted liberalitie,
The mothers all their children on the Eeve do cause to fast,
And when they every one at night in senselesse sleepe are cast,
Both apples, nuttes, and peares they bring, and other things beside,
As caps, and shooes, and petticotes, which secretly they hide,
And in the morning found, they say, that this St. Nicholas brought:
Thus tender mindes to worship saints and wicked things are taught."

There is a festival or ceremony observed in Italy (called Zopata, from a Spanish word signifying a shoe), in the courts of certain princes, on St. Nicholas's Day, wherein persons hide presents in the shoes and slippers of those they do honour to, in such manner as may surprise them on the morrow when they come to dress. This, it is repeated, is done in imitation of the practice of St. Nicholas, who used in the night-time to throw purses in at the windows of poor maids, to be marriage portions for them.250

"St. Nicholas," says Brady, in the Clavis Calendaria, ii. 297, "was likewise venerated as the protector of virgins; and there are, or were until lately, numerous fantastical customs observed in Italy and various parts of France, in reference to that peculiar tutelary patronage. In several convents it was customary, on the eve of St. Nicholas, for the boarders to place each a silk stocking at the door of the apartment of the abbess, with a piece of paper inclosed, recommending themselves to great St. Nicholas of her chamber: and the next day they were called together to witness the Saint's attention, who never failed to fill the stockings with sweetmeats, and other trifles of that kind, with which these credulous virgins made a general feast." See a curious passage in Bishop [p.421] Fisher's sermon of the 'Monthes Minde' of Margaret Countess of Richmond, where it is said that she prayed to St. Nicholas, the patron and helper of all true maidens, when nine years old, about the choice of a husband, and that the Saint appeared in a vision, and announced the Earl of Richmond.

Aubanus,251 describing some singular customs used in his time in Franconia, tells us, that scholars, on St. Nicholas's Day, used to elect three out of their numbers, one of whom was to play the Bishop, the other two the parts of Deacons. The Bishop was escorted by the rest of the boys, in solemn procession, to church, where, with his mitre on, he presided during the time of divine worship : this ended, he and his Deacons went about singing from door to door, and collected money, not begging it as alms, but demanding it as the Bishop's subsidy. On the eve of this day the boys were prevailed upon to fast, in order to persuade themselves that the little presents, which were put that night for them into shoes (placed under the table for that purpose), were made them by St. Nicholas: and many of them kept the fast so rigorously on this account, that their friends, in order to prevent them from injuring their health, were under the necessity of forcing them to take some sustenance.

I know not precisely at what period the custom of electing Boy-Bishops on St. Nicholas's Day commenced in England, but there is little doubt that, after it had been established on the Continent, it would soon be imported hither. Warton thought he found traces of the religious mockery of the Boy-Bishop as early as 867 or 870. His words are: "At the Constantmopolitan Synod, 867, at which were present three hundred and seventy-three bishops, it was found to be a solemn [p.422] custom in the courts of princes, on certain stated days, to dress some layman in the episcopal apparel, who should exactly personate a bishop, both in his tonsure and ornaments. This scandal to the clergy was anathematised. But ecclesiastical synods and censures have often proved too weak to suppress popular spectacles, which take deep root in the public manners, and are only concealed for a while, to spring up afresh with new vigour."

In Bishop Hall's Triumphs of Rome is the following curious passage on this subject: "What merry work it was here in the days of our holy fathers (and I know not whether, in some places, it may not be so still), that upon St. Nicholas, St. Katherine, St. Clement, and Holy Innocent's Day, children were wont to be arrayed in chimers, rochets, surplices, to counterfeit bishops and priests, and to be led, with songs and dances, from house to house, blessing the people, who stood girning252 in the way to expect that ridiculous benediction. Yea, that boys in that holy sport were wont to sing masses, and to climb into the pulpit to preach (no doubt learnedly and edifyingly) to the simple auditory. And this was so easily done, that in the cathedral church of Salisbury (unless it be lately defaced) there is a perfect monument of one of these Boy-Bishops (who dyed in the time of his young pontificality), accoutred in his episcopal robes, still to be seen. A fashion that lasted until the later times of King Henry the Eighth, who, in 1541, by his solemn Proclamation, printed by Thomas Bertlet, the king's printer, cum privilegio, straitly forbad the practice." In the year 1299 we find Edward the First, on his way to Scotland, permitted one of these Boy-Bishops to say vespers before him in his chapel at Heton, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and made a considerable present to the said bishop, and certain other boys that came and sang with him on the occasion, on the 7th of December, the day after St. Nicholas's Day. This appears from the Wardrobe Accounts of 28 Edw. I., published by the Society of Antiquaries, p. 25. Warton, in his History of English Poetry, seems to restrain the custom of electing Boy-Bishops on this day to collegiate churches, but later discoveries adduce evidence of its having prevailed, it should seem, in almost every parish.


Though the election was on St. Nicholas's Day, yet the office and authority appears to have lasted from that time till Innocent's Day, i.e. from the 6th to the 28th of December. In cathedrals, this Boy-Bishop seems to have been elected from among the children of the choir. After his election, being completely apparelled in the episcopal vestments, with a mitre and crosier, he bore the title and state of a bishop, and exacted ceremonial obedience from his fellows, who were dressed like priests. Strange as it may appear, they took possession of the church, and, except mass, performed all the ceremonies and offices. In the Statutes of Salisbury Cathedral, sub anno 1319, tit. 45, de Statu Choristarum MS., it is ordered that the Boy-Bishop shall not make a feast. The Boy-Bishop, as it should seem in the following extract from the Register of the Capitulary Acts of York Cathedral, was to be handsome and elegantly shaped: "Dec. 2, 1367. Joannes de Quixly coufirmatur episcopus puerorum, et capitulum ordinavit quod electio episcopi puerorum in ecclesia Eboracensi de cetero fieret de eo qui diutius et magis in dicta ecclesia laboraverit, et magis idoneus repertus fuerit, dum tamen competenter sit corpore formosus, et quod aliter facta electio non valebit."

There is printed in the Notes to the Northumberland Household Book, p. 441, from an old MS. communicated by Thomas Astle, Esq., an inventory of the splendid robes and ornaments belonging to one of these (Boy, called also Beam) Bishops.

"Contenta de Ornamentis Episcopi pueri.

"Imprimis, i. myter, well garnished with perle and precious stones, with nowches of silver and gilt before and behind. Item, iiii. rynges of silver and gilt, with four ridde precious stones in them. Item, i. pontifical with silver and gilt, with a blue stone in hytt. Item, i. owche, broken, silver and gilt, with iiii. precious stones, and a perle in the mydds. Item, a croose, with a staff of coper and gilt, with the ymage of St. Nicolas in the mydds. Item, i. vestment, redde, with lyons, with silver, with brydds of gold in the orferes of the same. Item, i. albe to the same, with starres in the paro. Item, i. white cope, stayned with tristells and orferes, redde sylke, with does of gold, and whytt napkins about the necks. It. iiii. copes, blew sylk with red orferes, trayled, with whitt [p.424] braunchis and flowres. It. i. steyned cloth of the ymage of St. Nicholas. It. i. tabard of skarlet, and a hodde thereto lyned with whitt sylk. It. a hode of skarlett, lyned with blue sylk."

In Hearne's Liber Niger Scaccarii, 1728, ii. 674, 686, we find that Archbishop Rotheram bequeathed "a myter for the Barnebishop, of cloth of gold, with two knopps of silver gilt and enamyled." In Ly sons's Environs of London, i. 310, among his curious extracts from the Churchwardens' Accounts at Lambeth, is the following: "1523. For the Bishop's dynner and hys company on St. Nycolas Day, ijs. viijd." The Churchwardens' Accounts of St. Mary-at-Hill, London, 10 Henry VI., mention "two childrens copes, also a myter of cloth* of gold set with stones." Under 1549, also, Lucas and Stephen, churchwardens, is: "For 12 oz. silver, being clasps of books and the bishop's mitre, at vs. viijd. per oz. vjl. xvjs. jd." These last were sold. In the Inventory of Church Goods, belonging to the same parish, at the same time, we have: "Item, a mitre for a bishop at St. Nicholas-tyde, garnished with silver, and amelyd, and perle, and counterfeit stone." In Nichols's Illustrations of Ancient Manners, 1797, p. 110, among some extracts from the same Church Accounts, 1554, is the following entry: "Paid for makyng the bishop's myter, with staff and lace that went to it, iijs. Paid for a boke for Nicholas, viijd." This was the restoration of the ceremony under Queen Mary.

The Boy-Bishop at Salisbury is actually said to have had the power of disposing of such prebends there as happened to fall vacant during the days of his episcopacy. If he died during his office, the funeral honours of a bishop, with a monument, were granted him. In the Processionale ad usum insignis et preclare Ecclesie Sarum, 1566, is printed the service of the Boy-Bishop set to music. By this we learn that, on the Eve of St. Innocents' Day, the Boy-Bishop was to go in solemn procession with his fellows "ad altare Sanctae Trinitatis et Omnium Sanctorum" (as the Processional), or, "ad altare Innocentium sive Sanctse Trinitatis" (as the Pie), "in capis et cereis ardentibus in manibus," in their copes, and burning tapers in their hands. The bishop beginning, and the other boys following: "Centum quadraginta quatuor," &c. Then the verse "Hi emti sunt ex omnibus," &c., and this was [p.425] sung by three of the boys. Then all the boys sang the "Prosa sedentem in superno majestatis, arce," &c. The chorister bishop, in the mean time, fumed the altar first, and then the image of the Holy Trinity. Then the bishop said, modesta voce, the verse "Lsetamini," and the response was "Et gloriamini," &c. Then the prayer which we yet retain: "Deus cujus hodierna die preconium Innocentes Martyres non loquendo, sed moriendo, confessi sunt, omnia in nobis vitiorum mala mortifica, ut fidem tuam quam lingua nostra loquitur, etiam moribus vita fateatur: qui cum patre," &c. In their return from the altar, preecentor puerorum incipiat, &c., the chanter-chorister began "De Sancta Maria," &c. The response was "Felix namque," &c. et "sic processio," &c. The Procession was made into the quire, by the west door, in such order that the dean and canons went foremost; the chaplains next; the bishop, with his little prebendaries, in the last and highest place. The bishop took his seat, and the rest of the children disposed themselves upon each side of the quire, upon the uppermost ascent, the canons resident bearing the incense and the book ; and the petit canons the tapers, according to the Rubrick. And from this hour to the full end of the next day's procession, "Nullus clericorum solet gradum superior em ascender e cujuscumque conditionisfuerit." Then the bishop on his seat said the verse "Speciosus forma, &c. diffusa est gratia in labiis tuis," &c. Then the prayer, "Deus qui salutis seternae," &c. "Pax vobis," &c. Then, after the "Benedicarnus Domino," the bishop of the children, sitting in his seat, gave the benediction to the people in this manner: "Princeps ecclesiae pastor ovilis cunctam plebem tuam benedicere digneris," &c. Then, turning towards the people, he sung, or said, "Cum mansuetudine et charitate humiliate vos ad benedictionem:" the chorus answering "Deo gratias." Then the cross-bearer delivered up the crosier to the bishop again, et tune episcopus puerorum primb signando se in fronte sic dicat, "Adjutorium nostrum," &c. The chorus answering, "Qui fecit coelum et terram." Then, after some like ceremonies performed, the Boy-Bishop began the Completorium, or Complyn; and that done, he turned towards the quire, and said, "Adjutorium," &c., and then, last of all, he said, "Benedicat vos omnipotens Deus, Pater, et Films, et Spiritus Sanctus." In die sanctorum Innocentium ad secundas vesperas accipiat cruciferarius bacu- [p.426] lum episcopi puerorum et cantent Antiphon: "Princeps ecclesise," &c., sicut ad primas vesperas. Similiter episcopus puerorum benedicat populum supradicto modo, et sic compleatur servitium hujus diei. (Rubric. Processional.) And all this was done with solemnity of celebration, and under pain of anathema to any that should interrupt or press upon these children. (See Gregory's Posthumous Works, 1649, p. 114.) Having had occasion to trace the ceremony of the Boy-Bishop at Canterbury, Eton, St. Paul's, London, Colchester, Winchester, Salisbury, Westminster, Lambeth, York, Beverley, Rotherham, and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, there can be little doubt that the discoveries of future antiquaries will prove it to have been almost universal. Gregory, in his Account of the Episcopus Puerorum, thought he had made a great discovery, and confined it to Salisbury.

It appears that in Germany, 1274, at the Council of Saltzburg, the "ludi noxii quos vulgaris eloquentia JSpiscopatus Puerorum appellat" were prohibited, as having produced great enormities. (See Du Fresne, v. EPISCOPUS PUERORUM.) In Spain, Mr. Bowie informs us, anciently, in cathedral churches, in memory of the election of St, Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, a chorister being placed with solemnity in the midst of the choir, upon a scaffold, there descended from the vaulting of the ceiling a cloud, which, stopping midway, opened. Two angels within it carried the mitre, and descended just so low as to place it on his head, ascending immediately in the same order in which they came down. This came to be an occasion of some irregularities; for till the day of the Innocents, he had a certain jurisdiction, and his prebendaries took secular offices, such as alguazils, catchpoles, dog-whippers, and sweepers. "This, thank God," says the author Covarruvias, under the article Obsipillis, "has been totally done away." He is, however, contradicted in the great Dictionary, where it is asserted that it is still kept up, particularly at Corunna, and other cities, and in some universities and colleges. The word is Latinised "Puer episcopali habitu ornatus." See Archaeologia, ix. 43.253


The following is an extract from the St. James's Chronicle, Nov. 1797: "From Zug, in Switzerland, it is observed that the annual procession of the fete of the bishop and his scholars, on the Fair Day, Dec. 6, is suppressed by authority. The bishop, it seems, was only a scholar, habited as such. Going through the streets, he was preceded by a chaplain carrying his crozier, and followed by a fool in the usual costume, the latter also carrying a staff with a bladder filled with pease. Other scholars, dressed like canons, with a military guard, made up the procession. After going to church, it was the bishop's custom to go and demand money from all the booths and stands in the fair. The French, and other traders, it is said, had complained of this absurd exaction, and the bishop, it is added, means to appeal to the Pope."

Of the several sports or entertainments, that mixed in the solemnization of this most singular festival, few particulars seem to have been transmitted.254 Warton thinks we can trace [p.428] in them some rude vestiges of dramatic exhibitions. We have evidence that the boy bishop and his companions walked about in procession, and find even a statute to restrain one of them within the limits of his own parish.255 That the arts of secular entertainment were exercised upon this occasion, appears from a curious entry, which states that one of these boy bishops received a present of thirteen shillings and sixpence for singing before King Edward the Third, in his chamber, on the day of the Holy Innocents.256

The show of the boy bishop, rather on account of its levity and absurdity than of its superstition, was abrogated by a proclamation, July 22, 1542. The conclusion of King Henry the Eighth's proclamation is much to our purpose: "And whereas heretofore dyvers and many superstitions and chyldysh observauncis have been used, and yet to this day are observed and kept, in many and sundry partes of this Realm, as upon Saint Nicholas, the Holie Innocents, and suche like, children be straingelie decked and apparayled to counterfeit Priests, Bishops, and women257 and to be ledde with songes and dances from house to house, blessing the people, and gathering of money,258 and boyes do sing masse, and preache in the pulpitt, [p.429] with suche other unfittinge and inconvenient usages, rather to the derysyon than anie true glorie of God, or honour of his Sayntes. The Kynge's Majestic wylleth and commaundeth that henceforth all such superstitious observations be left and clerely extinguished throwout all this Realme and Dominions," &c. According to a small Cronicle of Yere's respecting London, it should seem that there had been a previous Proclamation, dated July 22d, 1540, in part, at least, to the same effect.

In "Yet a Course at the Romyshe foxe: A dysclosynge or openynge of the Manne of Synne, contayned in the late declaration of the Pope's old faythe, made by Edmonde Boner, Bysshopp of London," &c. by Johan Harryson, [i.e. Bale,] Zurik, 1542, the author enumerates some "auncyent rytes and lawdable ceremonyes of holy churche," then, it should seem, laid aside, with the following censure on the bishop: "than ought my lorde also to suffer the same selfe ponnyshment, for not goynge abought with Saynt Nycholas clarkes" &c.

With the Catholic liturgy, all the pageantries of popery were restored to their ancient splendour by Queen Mary. Among these, the procession of the boy bishop was too popular a mummery to be overlooked.

In Strype's Ecclesiastical Memorials, iii. 202, we read that, Nov. 13, 1554, an edict was issued by the Bishop of London to all the clergy of his diocese, to have a boy bishop in procession. In the same volume, however, p. 205, we read: Anno 1554, December 5, "the which was St. Nicholas Eve, at even-song time came a commandment that St. Nicolas should not go abroad nor about. But, notwithstanding, it seems, so much were the citizens taken with the mock of St. Nicolas, that is, a boy bishop, that there went about these St. Nicolases in divers parishes, as in St. Andrew's Holborn, and St Nicolas Olaves, in Bread street. The reason the procession of St. Nicolas was forbid, was, because the cardinal had this St. Nicolas Day sent for all the convocation, bishops, and inferior clergy, to come to him to Lambeth, there to be absolved from all their perjuries, schisms, and heresies." In the following page, Strype gives some account of the origin of this ceremony, in which there is nothing that has not been [p.430] already noticed. He says, ibid. iii. 310, that in 1556, on St. Nicholas Even, "St. Nicholas, that is, a boy habited like a Bishop in pontificalibus, went abroad in most parts of London, singing after the old fashion, and was received with many ignorant but well-disposed people into their houses, and had as much good cheer as ever was wont to be had before, at least in many places."

Warton informs us that one of the child bishop's songs, as it was sung before the Queen's Majesty, in her privy chamber, at her manor of St. James in the Fields, on St. Nicholas's Day, and Innocents' Day, 1555, by the child bishop of St. Paul's, with his company, was printed that year in London, containing a fulsome panegyric on the queen's devotions, comparing her to Judith, Esther, the Queen of Sheba, and the Virgin Mary.

The pageantry, of the boy bishop would naturally be put down again when Queen Elizabeth came to the crown: but yet it seems to have been exhibited in the country villages toward the latter end of her reign.

The practice of electing a boy-bishop appears to have subsisted in common grammar-schools.259 St. Nicholas, says Warton, was the patron of scholars, and hence, at Eton College, St. Nicholas has a double feast; i.e. one on account of the college, the other of the schools. He adds, "I take this opportunity of observing that the anniversary custom at Eton of going ad montem, originated from the ancient and popular practice of theatrical processions in collegiate bodies." But, with great deference to his opinion, I shall endeavour to show that it is only a corruption of the ceremony of the boy-bishop, and his companions, who, being, by Henry the Eighth's edict, prevented from mimicking any longer their religious superiors, gave a new face to their festivity, and began their present play at soldiers. The following shows how early our youth began to imitate the martial manners of their elders in these sports, for it appears from the close rolls of Edward I. memb. 2, that a precept was issued to the sheriff of Oxford in 1305, from the [p.431] King, "to prohibit tournaments being intermixed with the sports of the scholars on St. Nicholas's Day."

It appears, by Hasted's History of Kent, iii. 174, that the master of Wye School, founded by Archbishop Kempe in 1447, was to teach all the scholars, both rich and poor, the art of grammar gratis, unless a present was voluntarily made, and except "comuetam gallorum et denariorum Sancti Nicolai gratuitam oblationem" the usual offerings of cocks and pence at the feast of St. Nicholas. See also Gent. Mag. for May, 1777, p. 208, and for Dec. 1790, p. 1076.

In the statutes of St. Paul's school, A.D. 1518, (see Knight's Life of Colet, p. 362,) the following clause occurs: "All these children shall every Childermas Daye come to Pauli's Churche, and hear the Childe-bishop sermon : and after he be at the hygh masse, and each of them offer a Id. to the Childe-bishop, and with them the maisters and surveyors of the scole." Strype, in his Ecclesiastical Memorials, speaking of the boy-bishop among scholars, says: "I shall only remark, that there might this at least be said in favour of this old custom, that it gave a spirit to the children; and the hopes that they might one time or other attain to the real mitre made them mind their books."

The following most curious passage from the "Status Scholae Etonensis," A.D. 1560, shows that in the Papal times the Eton scholars (to avoid interfering, as it should seem, with the boy-bishop of the college there on St. Nicholas's Day,) elected their boy-bishop on St. Hugh's Day, in the month of November. St. Hugh was a real boy-bishop at Lincoln. His day was on November 17th. "Mense Novembri. In die Sancti Hugom's Pontificis solebat Etonse fieri electio Episcopi Nihilensis: sed consuetude obsolevit. Olim Episcopus ille puerorum habebatur nobilis. In cujus electione et literata et laudatissima exercitatio ad ingeniorum vires et motus excitan dos Etonse Celebris erat."



"But weak the harp now tuned to praise,
When fed the raptured sight,
When greedy thousands eager gaze,
Devoured with delight:
When triumph hails aloud the joy
Which on those hours await:
When Montem crowns the Eton boy,
Long famed triennial fete."
        Poems by Henry Rowe, 1796, i. 11.

I HAVE just shown that the ceremony of the boy-bishop was called down by a proclamation under the reign of Henry the Eighth, and that, with its parent Popery, it revived under that of Queen Mary: as also, that on the accession of Queen Elizabeth it would most probably be again put down. Indeed, such a mockery of episcopal dignity was incompatible with the principles of a Protestant establishment.

The loss of a holiday, however, has always been considered, even with "children of a larger growth," as a matter of some serious moment; much more with the tyros of a school, that of an anniversary that promised to a young mind, in the cessation from study, and the enjoyment of mirth and pleasure, every negative as well as every positive good. Invention then would be racked to find out some means of retaining, under one shape, the festivities that had been annually forbidden under another. By substituting for a religious, a military appearance, the Etonians happily hit upon a method of eluding every possibility of giving offence.

The Lilliputian see having been thus dissolved, and the puny bishop "unfrocked," the crozier was extended into an ensign, and, under the title of captain, the chieftain of the same sprightly band conducted his followers to a scene of action in the open air, where no consecrated walls were in danger of being profaned, and where the gay striplings could, at least, exhibit their wonted pleasantries with more propriety of character. The exacting of money from the spectators and [p.433] passengers, for the use of the principal remained exactly the same as in the days of Popery; but it seems no evidence has been transmitted whether the deacons then, as the salt-bearers do at present, made an offer of a little salt in return when they demanded the annual subsidy. I have been so fortunate, however, as to discover, in some degree, a similar use of salt, that is, an emblematical one, among the scholars of a foreign university, at the well-known celebrity of "Deposition," in a publication dated at Strasburgh so late as 1666.260 The consideration of every other emblem used on the above occasion, and explained in that work, being foreign to my purpose, I shall confine myself to that of the salt261 alone, which one of the heads of the college explains thus to the young academicians: "With regard to the ceremony of Salt," says he, "the sentiments and opinions both of divines and philosophers concur in making salt the emblem of wisdom or learning; and that not only on account of what it is composed of, but also with respect to the several uses to which it is applied. As to its component parts, as it consists of the purest matter, so ought wisdom to be pure, sound, immaculate, and incorruptible: and similar to the effects which salt produces upon bodies ought to be those of wisdom and learning upon the mind." In another [p.434] part of the oration he tells them, "This rite of salt is a pledge or earnest which you give that you will most strenuously apply yourselves to the study of good arts, and as earnestly devote yourselves to the several duties of your vocation." How obvious is it then, to make the same application of the use of salt in the present ceremony at Eton! May we not, therefore, without any forced construction, understand the salt-bearers, when, on demanding of the several spectators or passengers their respective contributions, they laconically cry, 'Salt, salt,' as addressing them to the