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portions called furlongs, which were but that some of the junior part of the marked out by strong oak posts, placed company were desirous of making a trial at regular distances from each other; of their skill in the sublime art of pugilism, which posts were constantly kept up. when hard knocks, thumps, bangs, and After the apples were properly prepared, kicks, and consequently black eyes, bloody they were put into a hat or bag, and cer- noses, and sore bones, were distributed tain persons fixed on for the purpose, with the greatest liberality amongst the began to measure with the chain before- combatants. mentioned, and proceeded till they had measured off one acre of ground; at the “And now the field of Death, the lists end of which, the boy who carried the hat Are enter'd by antagonists." or bag containing the marks took out one of the apples, and the mark which In this stage of the business, some vesuch apple bore, was immediately cut in nerable yeoman usually stepped forward the turf with a large knife kept for that and harangued the contending parties, in purpose :
: this knife was somewhat in the some such speech as the following, which shape of a scimetar with its edge reversed. I am sorry to say was most commonly In this manner they proceeded till the thrown away upon these pot-valiant whole of the commons were laid out, and champions : each proprietor knowing the mark and furlong which belonged to his estate, he “What rage, O friends! what fury took possession of his allotment or allot- Doth you to these dire actions hurry? ments accordingly, for the ensuing year.
What towns, what garrisons might you, An adjournment then took place to the
With hazard of this blood subdue, house of one of the overseers, where a
Which now y'are bent to throw away
In vain untriumphable fray ?" certain number of acres reserved for the purpose of paying expenses, and called the "out-let or out-drift,” were let by seldom bore each other any grudge or ill
Yet after these civil broils, the parties inch of candle. During the time of letting, the whole the contest,
will, and generally at the conclusion of party were to keep silence, (except the person who bid,) under the penalty of one “ Tho' sorely bruis'd, their limbs all o'er shilling. When any one wished to bid, With ruthless bangs still stiff and sore,” he named the price he would give, and immediately deposited a shilling on the they shook hands, became good friends table where the candle stood; the next again, and departed with the greatest who bid, also named his price and depo- sang-froid to apply sited bis shilling in like manner, and the person who first bid was then to take up “ Fit med'cines to each glorious bruise his shilling. The business of letting thus They got in fight, reds, blacks, and blues; proceeded till the candle was burnt out, To mollify th' uneasy pang and the last bidder, prior to that event, was Of ev'ry honourable bang." declared the tenant of the out-let, or outdrift, for the ensuing year.
In the year 1779, an attempt was made Two overseers were annually elected to procure an act of parliament for allotfrom the proprietors or their tenants. A ting these moors in perpetuity; but an quantity of strong ale or brown-stout was opposition having been made by a majoallowed for the feast, or “revel,” as it rity of the proprietors, the plan was rewas called ; also bread, butter and cheese, linquished. I have now by me a printed together with pipes and tobacco, of which copy of the bill drawn up on that ocany reputable person, whose curiosity or casion. The land, however, was actually casual business led him to Puxton on that enclosed and allotted in the year 1811, and day, was at liberty to partake, but he was the ancient mode of dividing it, and conexpected to deposit at his departure one sequently the drunken festival, or revel, shilling with the overseer, by way of from that time discontinued. forfeit for his intrusion. The day was The following marks are correct deligenerally spent in sociality and mirth, neations of those used, being taken from frequently of a boisterous nature, from the the originals in the book appropriated exhilarating effects of the brown-stout for the purpose of keeping the accounts before alluded to; for it rarely happened of this very singular and ancient usage.
I have from my youth lived within a many of your readers, to see them refew miles of the place mentioned, and corded in your very interesting and popubave often heard of the “ humours of lar work. These customs originated in Dolmoor revel,” and on one occasion all probability with our Saxon ancesattended personally the whole day for the tors, and it would be unpardonable to purpose of observing them, and ascertain- consign them to total oblivion. ing the customs of this rude, rural festival.
I am, Sir, As the customs before-mentioned are now
Yours respectfully, become obsolete, it would be pleasing to
After this description of the method of another, and another," for they all followed “ laying out of lands," at a period of the each other as regular as the change of the year when steam boats are conveying moon; that by these means some poos visiters to the “ watering places on the fellows” had picked up a good living, Thames," it seems prudent and season- and collected together from the whole a able to notice another custom
little snug fortune ; that he himself had LAYING OUT OF WIVES
made more money this way than he ever
could do by his labour, for that he was In the Fens of Essex and Kent.
now at his tenth wife, and she could And, first, as to this “
grave" custom not possibly stand it out above three on the London side of the Thames, we
weeks longer; that these proceedings were have the epistolary testimony of a writer very equitable, for such girls as were born in the year 1773, viz.
among themselves they sent into the up
lands to get husbands, and that, in exSir,-Nothing but that unaccountable change, they took their young women as variety of life, which my stars have im- wives ; that he never knew a better enstom posed upon me, could have apologised in his life, and that the only comfort he for my taking a journey to the fens of ever found against the ill-nature and caEssex. . Few strangers go into those price of women was the fens. This scenes of desolation, and fewer still (I woman-killer then concluded with desiring find) return from thence-as you shall me, if I had a wife with whom I was not hear."
over head and ears in love, to bring her When I was walking one morning be- to his house, and it would kill her as tween two of the banks which restrain the effectually as any doctor in Christendom waters in their proper bounds, I met one could do. This offer I waved; for you of the inhabitants, a tall and emaciated know, sir, that (thank God) I am not figure, with whom I entered into conver- married. sation. We talked concerning the man
This strange conversation of my friend, ners and peculiarities of the place, and I the fen-man, I could not pass over without condoled with him very pathetically on many reflections; and I thought it ny his forlorn and meagre appearance, He duty to give notice to my countrymen gave me to understand, however, that his concerning a place which may be concase was far from being so desperate as I verted in so peculiar a manner to their seemed to apprehend it, for that he had advantage.* never looked better since he buried the first of his last nine wives. “ Nine wives !" rejoined I, eager and ler into Essex, who, be it observed,
So far is from the narrative of a travelastonished,“ have you buried nine wives ?”
“speaks for himself,” and whose account “ Yes," replied the fen-man, “and I hope to bury nine more.”
is given “ without note or comment;" it & Bravissimo!”—This was so far from reader will form a correct opinion of such
being certain that every rightly affected allaying my astonishment, that it increased it. I then begged him to explain the
a narrator, and of the “ fearful estate" of
upland women” who marry lowland miraculous matter, which he did in the
men.” following words :
“ Lord ! master,” said he, “ we people in the fens here be such strange creatures,
As regards the “custom of Kent,” in that there be no creatures like us; we be this matter, we have the account of a like fish, or water-fowl, or others, for we
“ Steam-boat Companion," who, turning be able to live where other folks would die
“to the Kentish shore," says thus :sure enough."
YENLET CREEK He then informed me, that to reside in Divides the isle of Grean from Allthe fens was a certain and quick death to hallows, on the main land, and from the people who had not been bred among cliff marshes. them; that therefore when any of the Who would believe while beholding fen-men wanted a wife, they went into these scenes of pleasure before us, that for the upland country for one, and that, six months in the year the shores of this after they carried her down among the hundred (Hoo) were only to be explored fens, she never survived long: that after by the amphibious ; that the sun is selher death they went to the uplands for another, who also died; then“another and
• Universal Magazine,
dom seen for the fog, and that every crea-fore you will see, sir, a fog is as natura, ture in love with life, flies the swamps of to me as a duck-pool to a dab-chick. Hoo, preferring any station to its ague When poor dame Piper died, I found dealing vapours, its fenny filth, and muddy myself exceedingly melancholy to live fats; a station, that during the winter alone on these marshes, so determined to season is destitute of every comfort, but change my condition by taking a wife. It fine eels, luscious founders, smuggled was very fortunate for me, sir, I knew a brandy, Holland's gin, and sea-coal fire. rich old farmer in the uplands, and he had We will here relate a whimsical circum- three blooming daughters, and that whicha stance that once took place in this neigh- made the thing more desirable, he had bourhood while we were of the party. determined to give each a portion of his
It was at that time of the year when nature honourably acquired property. The far. seems to sicken at her own infirmities, we mer had for many years been acquainted think it was in the month of November, with my good father, gone to rest, and this we were bound to Sheerness, but the fog gave me courage to lay my case before coming on so gloomily that no man could him. The elder girl was the bird for me, discover his hand a yard before him, our the farmer gave his consent, and we were waterman, whether by design or accident married. Directly after, I quitted the upwe cannot pretend to say, mistook the lands for the fog, with a pretty wife and Thames, and rowed up the Yenlet creek. five hundred golden guineas in my pocket, After a long, cold, and stubborn pull, pro- as good as ever bribed a lawyer to sell his testing at the time he had never (man or client, or a parliament-man to betray his boy) seen any thing so dismal, he landed country. This was a good beginning, sir, us near Saint Mary's, that church but alas ! there is no comfort without a yonder, with the very lofty and white cross; my wife had been used from her spire, and then led us to an alehouse, infancy to a fine keen open air, and our the sign of which he called the Red Cock lowland vapours so deranged her constiand Cucumber, and the aleman he hailed tution, that within nine months, Margaret by the merry name of
left me and went to heaven. John Piper,
Being so suddenly deprived of the And a very pleasant fellow John turned society of one good woman, where could out to be ; if he was a little hyperbolical, I apply for another, better than to the his manner sufficiently atoned for the sack from whence I drew the first sample ? transgression. The gloom of the day was
The death of my dear wife reflected no soon forgotten, and the stench arising disgrace on me, and the old man's sefrom filthy swamps less regarded. At cond daughter having no objection to a our entrance we complained heavily of good husband, we presently entered into the insupportable cloud with which we the bonds of holy matrimony, and after a had been enveloped.
few days of merriment, I came home with “Ha! ha! ha!" sang out the landlord, Susan, from the sweet hills to the fogs of « to be sure it is too thick to be eaten the lowlands, and with four hundred as with a spoon, and too thin to be cut with good guineas in my purse as ever gave a knife, but it is not so intolerable as a new springs to the life of poverty. Similar scolding wife, or a hungry lawyer." causes, sir, they say produce similar ef“ Curse the fog," cried our waterman,
fects; and this is certainly true, for in “Bless the fog," answered our land. somewhere about nine months more, Susan Ford, “ for it has made a man of me for slept with her sister. life.”
“I ran to the uplands again, to condole “ How do you make that appear ?" we with my poor old Nestor, and some bow requested to know.
or other so managed the matter, that his “Set you down, sir, by a good sea-coal youngest daughter, Rosetta, conceived a fire, for we pay no pool duties here, take tender affection for Piper. I shall never your grog merrily, and I'll tell you all forget it, sir, while I have existence; I had about it presently,” rejoined the tapster, been there but a few days, when the good when drawing a wooden stool towards us, farmer, with tears in his eyes, thus adwhile his wife was preparing the bowl, dressed me: 'Piper, you have received John Piper thus began :
about nine hundred pounds of my money, “ You must know, sir, I was born in and I have about the same sum left; nuw, this fog, and so was my mother and her son, as you know how to make a good relatives for many past generations; there- use of it, I think it is a pity it should go
out of the family; therefore, if you have is my seventh wife; with her I had a fora fancy for Rosetta, I will give you three tune also, but of a different nature from hundred pounds more, and the remnant all the rest. I married her without proat my departure.'
per consideration—the wisest are some“ Sir, I had always an aversion to stand times overtaken ; Solomon had his disapshilly shally, 'make haste and leave no- pointments; would you think it, sir? she thing to waste,' says the old proverb. The was fogborn like myself, and withal, is so kind girl was consenting, and we finished tough in her constitution, that I fear she the contract over a mug of her father's best will hold me a tight tug to the end of my October. From the hills we ran to the existence, and become my survivor." fogland, and in less than two years more,
“ Ha! ha! ha!” interjected Mrs. Piper, poor Rosetta was carried up the church- (who had heard all the long tale of the way path, where the three sisters, as they tapster,) " there is no fear about that, used to do in their infancy, lie by the John, and bury as many upland husbands, side of each other; and the old man dying when you lie under the turf, as you, with of grief for the loss of his favourite, I the fog, have smothered wives." placed him at their head, and became Our Yorick now became chop-fallen, master of a pretty property.
and a brisk wind springing up from the “ A short time after, a wealthy widow north-west, the fog abated, and we took from Barham, (of the same family,) came to our boat.* in the summer time to our place. I saw her at church, and she set her cap at If there be truth in these narratives, Piper ; I suon married her for her Èldo- the “ lowland lasses” of the creeks, rado metal, but alas! she turned out a have good reason for their peculiar liking shrew. Nil desperandum' said I, Piper, to "highland laddies;" and " upland” girls to myself, the winter is coming in good had better “ wither on the virgin thorn," time; the winter came, and stood my than marry “ lowland" suitors andfriend; for the fog and the ague took her
" Fall as the leaves do by the hand and led her to Abraham's
And die in October." bosom.
Far be it from the editor, to bring the “ An innkeeper's relict was the next I
worthy “ neither fish nor flesh” swains, ventured on, she had possessions at Sit- of the Kent and Essex fens and fogs, tingbourne, and they were hardly, mine into contempt; he knows nothing about before my good friend, the fog, laid Ara- them. What he has set down he found bella“ at all-fours' under the turf, in St. in “ the books,” and, having given his Mary's churchyard; and now, sir, her authorities, he wishes them every good sister, the cast-off of a rich Jew, fell into they desire--save wives from the upmy trap, and I led her smiling, like a lands. vestal, to the temple of Hymen ; but although the most lively and patient crea- NATURALISTS CALENDAR. ture on earth, she could not resist the
Mean Temperature . . . 61 • 75. powers of the fog, and I for the sixth time became a widower, with an income of three hundred a year, and half the cottages in this blessed hundred. To be
THOMAS A BECKET. brief, sir, I was now in want of nothing but a contented mind; thus, sir, through
Strange to say, the name of this saint, the fog you treated with such malignity, still retained in the church of England
so obnoxious to the early reformers, is I became qualified for a country member. But alas! sir, there is always something the day of his festival is the anniversary
calendar; the fact is no less strange that unpleasant to mingle with the best of human affairs, envy is ever skulking be of the translation of his relics from the bind us, to squeeze her gall-bag into the undercroft of the cathedral of Canterbury, cup of our comforts, and when we think in the year 1220, to a sumptuous shrine ourselves in safety, and may sing the at the east end of the church, whither they song of 'O! be joyful,' our merriment attracted crowds of pilgrims, and, accord ends with a miseracordia.'
ing to the legends of the Romish church, After a short pause, “Look, sir,” said
worked abundant miracles. Piper, in a loud whisper, “ at that woman in the bar, now making the grog, she 1823, p. 150.
• The Steam-boat Companion, by Thomas Nichols,