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Deep tangled, tree irregular, and bush
A ...; murmur through the whole.
eads the whitewinged Plover wheels
Her sounding flight, and then directly on,
The hot pursuing Spaniel far astray!
Mr. Fosbroke remarks that this feast was celebrated in Spain with representations of the gift of the Holy Ghost, and of thunder from engines, which did much damage. Wafers, or cakes, preceded by water, oak-leaves, or burning torches, were thrown down from the church roof; small birds, with cakes tied to their legs, and pigeons were let loose; sometimes there were tame white ones tied with strings, or one of wood suspended. Along censer was also swung up and down. In an old Computus, anno 1509, of St. Patrick's, Dublin, we have iv. vii”, paid to those playing with the great and little angel and the dragon; iii. paid for little cords, employed about the Holy Ghost; i".vi", for making the angel (thurificantis) censing, and ii". ii". for cords of it—all on the feast of Pentecost. On the day before Whitsuntide, in some places, men and boys rolled themselves, after drinking, &c. in the mud in the streets. The Irish kept the feast with milk food, as among the
Hebrews; and a breakfast composed of cake, bread, and a liquor made by hot water poured on wheaten bran. The Whitson Ales were derived from the Agapai, or love-feasts of the early Christians, and were so denominated from the churchwardens buying, and laying in from presents also, a large quantity of malt, which they brewed into beer, and sold out in the church or elsewhere. The profits, as well as those from sundry games, there being no poor rates, were given to the poor, for whom this was one mode of provision, according to the christian rule that all festivities should be rendered innocent by alms. Aubrey thus describes a Whitson Ale. “In every . was a church-house, to which beonged spits, crocks, and other utensils for dressing provisions. Here the housekeepers met. The young people were there too, and had dancing, bowling, shooting at butts, &c., the ancients sitting gravely by, and looking on.” It seems too that a tree was erected by the church door, where a banner was placed, and maidens stood gathering contributions. An arbour, called Robin Hood's Bower, was also put up in the church-yard. The modern Whitson Ale consists of a lord and lady of the ale, a steward, swordbearer, purse-bearer, mace-bearer, trainbearer, or page, fool, and pipe and tabor man, with a company of young men and women, who dance in a barn.
wasted in varying cadence, by the shore -
A day of jubilee,
Mortals! be gladsome while ye have the power,
I have had another holiday—a Whitsuntide holiday at Greenwich: it is true that I did not take a run down the hill, but I saw many do it who appeared to me happier and healthier for the exercise, and the fragrant breezes from the fine May trees of the park. '. I began Whit-Monday by breakfasting on Blackheath hill. . It was my good fortune to gain a sight of the beautiful grounds belonging to the noblest mansion on the heath, the residence of the princess Sophia of Gloucester. It is not a “show house,” nor is her royal highness a woman of show. “She is a noble lady," said a worthy inhabitant of
the neighbourhood, “she is always doing
as much good as she can, and more, per
haps, than she ought; her heart is larger
than her purse.” I found myself in this retreat I scarcely know how, and imagined that a place, like this might make good dispositions better, and intelligent minds wiser. Some of its scenes seemed, to my imagination, lovely, as were the spots in “the blissful seats of Eden.” Delightful green swards with majestic trees lead on to private walks; and gladdening shrubberies terminate in broad borders of fine flowers, or in sloping
paths, whereon fairies might dance in
silence by the sleeping moonlight, or to
the chant of nightingales that come
hither, to an amphitheatre of copses surrounding a “rose mount,” as to their É. choir, and pour their melody, uneard by earthly beings, —— save by the ear Of her alone who wanders here, or sits Intrelissed and enchanted as the Fair Fabled by him of yore in Comus' song, . Or rather like a saint in a fair shrine Carved by tellini's hand. It may not be good taste, in declaring the truth, to state “the whole truth,” but it is a fact, that I descended from the heights of royalty to “Sot's hole.” There, for “corporal refection,” and from desire to see a place which derives its name from the great lord Chesterfield, I took a biscuit and a glass of ginger-beer. His lordship resided in the mansion I had just left, and his servants were accustomed to “use" this alehouse too frequently. On one occasion he said to his butler, “Fetch the fellows from that sot's hole :” from that time, though the house has another name and sign, it is better known by the name or sign of “Sot's hole.” Ascending the rise to the nearest parkgate, I soon got to the observatory in the #. It was barely noon. The holiday olks had not yet arrived; the old pensioners, who ply there to ferry the eye up and down and across the river with their telescopes, were ready with their craft. Yielding to the importunity of one, to be freed from the invitations of the rest, I took my stand, and in less than ten minutes was conveyed to Barking church, Epping Forest, the men in chains, the London Docks, St. Paul's Cathedral, and Westminster Abbey. From the seat around the tree Iwatched the early comers; as each party arrived the pensioners hailed them with good success. In every instance, save one, the sight first demanded was the “men in chains:” these are the bodies of pirates, suspended on gibbets by the river side, to warn sailors against crimes on the high seas. An ablebodied sailor, with a new hat on his Saracen-looking head, carrying a handkerchief full of apples in his left hand, with a bottle neck sticking out of the neck of his jacket for a nosegay, dragged his female companion up the hill with all the might of his right arm and shoulder; and the moment he was at the top, assented to the proposal of a telescope-keeper for his “good lady” to have a view of the * men in chains.” She wanted to “see something else first.” “Don't be a fool,”
said Jack, “see them first; ji's the best sight.” No ; not she all Jack's arguments were unavailing, “welli what is it you'd like better, yo:i fool you?” “Why I wants to see our house in the court, with the flower-pots, and if I don't see that, I wont see nothing—what's the men in chains to that P Give us an apple.” She took one out of the bundle, and beginning to eat it, gave instructions for the direction of the instrument towards Limehouse church, Y'oe Jack drew forth the bottle and refooted himself. , Long she looked, and squabbled, and almost gave up the hope of finding “our house;” but on a sudden she screamed out, “Here Jack! here it is, pots and all! and there's our bed-post; I left the window up o' purpose as I might see it!” Jack himself took an observation. “D'ye see it, Jack?” “Yes,”, “D'ye see the pots?” “Yes." “And the bed-post?” “Ay; and here Sal, here, here's the cat looking out o' the window.” “Come away, let's look again;” and then she looked, and squalled “Lord! what a sweet place it .. and then she assented to seeing the “men in chains,” giving Jack the first look, and they looked “all down the river,” and saw “Tom’s ship,” and wished Tom was with them. #. breakings forth of nature and kind-heartedness, and especially the love of “home, sweet home,” in Jaek’s “good lady,” drew forth Jack's delight, and he kissed her till the apples rolled out of the bundle, and then he pulled her down the hill. From the moment they came up they looked at nobody, nor saw anything but themselves, and what they paid for looking at through the telescope. They were themselves a sight: and though the woman was far from - whatever fair
High fancy forms or lavish hearts could wish,
yet she was all that to Jack; and all that she seemed to love or care for, were “our house,” and the “flower-pots,” and the “bed-post,” and “Jack.” At the entrances in all the streets of Greenwich, notices from the magistrates were posted, that they were determined to put down the fair; and accordingly not a show was to be seen in the place wherein the fair had of late been held. Booths were fitting up for dancing and refreshment at night, but neither Richardson's, nor any other itinerant company of performers, was there. There were gingerbread stalls, but no learned pig, no
dwarf, no giant, no fire-eater, no exhibition of any kind. There was a large round-about of wooden horses for boys, and a few i. none of them half filled. The landlord of “the Struggler” could not struggle his stand into notice. In vain he chalked up “ Hagger's entire, two-pence a bottle:" this was gingerbeer; if it was not brisker than the demand for it, it was made “poor indeed;” he had little aid, but unsold “Lemmun aid, one penny a glass." Yet the publichouses *. * o i. fast, and the fiddles squeaked from several first-floor windows. It was now nearly two o'clock, and the stage-coaches from London, thoroughly filled inside and out, drove rapidly in: these, and the flocking down of foot passengers, gave sign of great visitation. One object I cannot, pass by, for it forcibly contrasted in me mind with the joyous disposition of the day. It was a poor blackbird in a cage, from the first-floor window of a house in Melville-place. The cage was high and square; its bars were of a dark brown bamboo; the top and bottom were of the same dolorous colour; between the bars were strong iron wires; the bird himself sat dull and mute; I passed the house several times; not a single note did he give forth. A few hours before I had heard his fellows in the thickets whistling in full throat; and here was he, in endless thrall, without a bit of green to cheer him, or even the decent jailery of a light wicker cage. I looked at him, and thought of the Lollards at Lambeth, of Thomas Delaune in Newgate, of Prynne in the Gatehouse, and Laud in the Tower: —all these were offenders; yet wherein had this poor bird offended that he should be like them, and be forced to keep Whitsuntide in prison? I wished him a holiday, and would have given him one to the end of his life, had I known how. After dining and taking tea at the “Yorkshire Grey,” I returned to the park, through the Greenwich gate, near the hospital. The scene here was very lively. Great numbers were seated on the grass, some refreshing themselves, others were lookers at the large company of walkers. Surrounded by a goodly number was a man who stood to exhibit the wonders of a single-folded sheet of writing paper to the sight of all except himself; he was blind. By a motion of his hand he changed it into various forms. “Here,” said he, “is a garden-chair for
your seat—this is a flight of stairs to your chamber—here is a flower-stand for your mantle-piece;" and so he went on ; presenting, in rapid succession, the wellshaped representation of more than thirty forms of different utensils or conveniences: at the conclusion, he was well rewarded for his ingenuity. Further on was a larger group; from the centre whereof came forth sounds unlike those heard by him who wrote—
“Orpheus play'd so well, he moved old
This player so “imitated Orpheus,” that he moved the very bowels, uneasiness seemed to seize on all who heard his discords. He was seated on the grass, in the garb of a sailor. At his right hand lay a square board, whereon was painted “a tale of woe,” in letters that disdained the printer's art; at the top, a little box, with a glass cover, discovered that it was “plus” of what himself was “minus;” its inscription described its contents— * These §: was taken out of my leg.” I could not withstand his claim to support. He was effecting the destruction of “Sweet Poll of Plymouth,” for which I gave him a trifle more than his “fair” audience usually bestowed, so He instantly begged I would name my “favourite;” I desired to be acquainted with his; he said he could not “den nothing to so noble a benefactor,” and he immediately began to murder “Blackeyed Susan.” If the man at the wall of the Fishmongers' almshouses were dead, he would be the worst player in England. There were several parties playing at “Kiss in the ring,” an innocent merriment in the country; here it was certainly not merriment. On the hill the runners were abundant, and the far greater number were, in appearance and manners, devoid of that vulgarity and grossness from whence it might be inferred that the sport was any way improper; nor did I observe, during a stay of several hours, the least indication of its being otherwise than a cheerful amusement. One of the prettiest sights was a game at “Thread my needle,” played by about a dozen lasses, with a grace and glee that reminded me of Angelica's nymphs. I indulged a hope that the hilarity of rural pastimes might yet be preserved. There was no drinking in the park. It lost its
visitants fast while the sun was going down. Many were arrested in their progress to the gate by the sight of the boys belonging to the college, who were at their evening play within their own grounds, and who, before they retired for the night, sung “God save the King,” and “Rule Britannia,” in full chorus, with fine effect. The fair, or at least such part of it as was suffered to be continued, was held in the open space on the right hand of the street leading from Greenwich to the Creek bridge. “The Crown and Anchor" booth was the great attraction, as indeed well it might. It was a tent, three hundred and twenty-three feet long, and sixty feet wide. Seventy feet of this, at the entrance, was occupied by seats for persons who chose to take refreshment, and by a large space from whence the viands were delivered. The remaining two hundred and fi feet formed the “Assembly room,” wherein were boarded floors for four rows of dancers throughout this extensive length; on each side were seats and tables. The price of admission to the assembly was one shilling. The check ticket was a card, whereon was printed,
VAUXHALL. CROWN AND ANCHOR, WHIT MONDAY.
This room was thoroughly lighted . by depending branches from the roofs handsomely formed; and by stars and festoons, and the letters G. R. and other devices, bearing illumination lamps. It was more completely filled with dancers and spectators, than were convenient to either. Neither the company nor the scene can be well described. The orchestra, elevated across the middle of the
tent, consisting of two harps, three violins, a bass viol, two clarionets, And a flute, played airs from “Der Freischütz,” and other popular tunes. Save the crowd, there was no confusion; save in the quality of the dancers and dancing, there was no observable difference between this and other large assemblies; /except, indeed, that there was no mastor of the ceremonies, nor any difficulty in obtaining or declining partners. Y It was neither a daneing school, nor a school of morals; but the moralist might draw conclusions which would here, and at this time, be out of place. There were at least 2,000 persons in this booth at one time. In the fair were about twenty other dancing booths; yet none of them comparable in extent to the “Crown and Anchor.” In one only was a price demanded for admission; the tickets to the “Albion Assembly” were sixpence. Most of these booths had names; for instance, “The Royal Standard;” “The Lads of the Village,” “The Black Boy and Cat Tavern,” “. The Moon-rakers,” &c. At eleven o'clock, stages from Greenwich to London were in full request. One of them obtained 4s. each for inside, and 2s. 6d. for outside o ers; the average ". was 3s. inside, and 2s. outside; and though the footpaths were crowded with passengers, yet all the inns in Greenwich and on the road were thoroughly filled. Certainly, the greater part of the visitors were mere spectators of the scene. o
The late Henry Kirke White, in a frag ment of a poem on “Time,” beautifully imagines the slumbers of the sorrowful. Reader, bear with its melancholy tone. A summer's day is not less lovely for a passing cloud.
Behold the world
Has ceased to weep, and her twin-orphans lie o
Dreams of her bridals.
Even the hectic lull'd