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money collected during the day's excur- corated by four o'clock in the morning. sion is appropriated to defray whatever Throughout the day parties of these May expenses may have been incurred in the ers are seen dancing and frolicking it necessary preparations, and the remainder various parts of the town. The group is spent in jovial festivity:
that I saw to-day, which remained in This ancient custom, like many others Bancroft for more than an hour, was comamong the ancient Britons, is annually posed as follows. First came twoʻmen growing into disuse.
The decline of with their faces blacked, one of them with sports and pastimes is in every age a sub- a birch broom in his hand, and a large ject of regret. For in a civil point of artificial' hump on his back'; the other view, they denote the general prosperity, dressed as a woman, all in rags and tatters, natural energy, and happiness of the with a large straw bonnet on, and carrying people, consistent with morality,—and a ladle : these are called “
men, one which unlike the howling of the dismal most fantastically dressed with ribbons, hyæna or ravening wolf, is as a lamb and a great variety of gaudy coloured sportive and innocent, and as a lion mag- silk handkerchiefs tied round his arms nanimous and bold !
from the shoulders to the wrists, and I am, Sir,
down his thighs and legs to the ancles; Yours sincerely, he carried a drawn sword in his hand H. T. B.
leaning upon his arm was a youth dressed April 14, 1825.
as a fine lady, in white muslin, and pro
fusely bedecked from top to toe with gay WAY-DAY AT HITCHIN, IN HERTFORDSHIRE the “ Lord and Lady" of the company;
ribbons: these, I understood, were called For the Every-Day Book.
after these followed six or seven couples EXTRACT from a letter dated Hitching the lord and lady, only the men were
more, attired much in the same style as 5!3m3!
May 18t, 1823. On this day a curious custom is ob- ceived a satisfactory contribution at any served here, of which I will give you a house, the music struck up from a violin, brief account.
clarionet, and fife, accompanied by the Soon after three o'clock in the morning long drum, and they began the merry a large party of the town-people, and dance, and very well they danced, I asneighbouring labourers, parađe the town, sure you; the men-women looked and singing the Mayer's Seng.” They carry footed it so much like rea. women, that I in their hands large branches of May, and stood in great doubt as to which sex they they affix a branch either upon, or at the belonged to, till Mrs. J.-assured me side of, the doors of nearly every respect- that women were not permitted to mingle able house in the town; where there are in these sports. While the dancers were knockers, they place these branches within merrily footing it, the principal amusethe handles; that which was put into our ment to the populace was caused by the knocker was so large that the servant grimaces and clownish tricks of mad Moll could not open the door till the gardener, and her husband. When the circle of came and took it out. The larger the spectators became so contracted as to inbranch is, that is placed at the door, the terrupt the dancers, then mad Moll's more honourable to the house, or rather husband went to work with his broom, to the servants of the house. If, in the and swept the road-dust, all round the course of the year, a servant has given circle, into the faces of the crowd, and offence to any of the Mayers, then, instead, when any pretended affronts were offered of a branch of May, a branch of elder, and many were offered) to his wife, he with a bunch of nettles, is affixed to her pursued the offenders, broom in hand; if door : this is considered a great disgrace, he could not 'overtake them, whether they and the unfortunate şubject of it is ex were males or females, he flung his broom posed to the jeers of her rivals. On May at them. These flights and pursuits morning, therefore, the girls look with caused an abundance of merriment. come, anxiety for their May-branch, and I saw another company of Mayers in rise very early to ascertain their good or Sun-street, and, as far as I could judge id fortune. The houses are all
all thus de- from where I stood, it appeared to be of
PYN SINUSITO 9977297 Win , JL.
exactly the same description as that above- busband exercising his broom so briskly mentioned, but I did not venture very upon the flying crowd, that I kept at a near them, for I perceived mad Moll's respectful distance.
Map-Day at Hitchin, in Hertfordshire.
By the work of our Lord's hands.
As green as any leek, had anticipated; but at length succeeded Our heavenly Father He watered them in obtaining it from one of the Mayers.
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, And thus do we begin
He may return again. To lead our lives in righteousness,
The life of man is but a span, Or else we die in sin,
It flourishes like a flower,
We are here to-day, and gone to-morrow, We have been rambling all this night,
re dead in an hour. And almost all this day, And now returned back again
The moon shines bright, and the stars give a We bave brought you a branch of May.
A little before it is day, A branch of May we have brought you, So God bless you all, both great and small, And at your door it stands,
And send you a joyful May.
Milkmaids' Garland on May-day.
In London, thirty years ago,
was a goodly sight to see
Their shining garland in the middle,
tabor on before,
Their custom to cry“ milk below !"
Join'd hands, and pointed toe to toe.
The hop'd-for annual present sent-
And at that door cease merriment
And charm'd my ears—but all have vanish'd !
For milk-maids, and their dance, are banish d.
« Annihilate both time and space;"
volt tensorat May 4, 1825... Nov 24, 6. RD na
+370 612 11 TY* TL'y aan uan v. lutym 1, IPODY IKLIO
From the preceding lines somewhat may the old abbey. Ah! those were the be learned of a lately disused custom in days. London. The milkmaids' garland was a The milkmaids' earlier plate-garland pyramidical trame, covered with damask, was a pyramid of piled utensils, carried glittering on each side with polished on a stout damsel's head, under which silver plate, and adorned with ảnots of she danced to the violin. gay-coloured ribbons, and posies of fresh fowers, surmounted by a silver urn, or tankard. The garland being placed on a The great May-fair was formerly held wooden horse, was carried by two men, near Piccadilly. An antiquary, (shudder as represented in the engraving, some not, good reader, at the chilling name—he times preceded by a pipe and tabor, but was a kind soul,) Mr. Carter, describes more frequently by a fiddle; the gayest this place in an interesting communicamilkmaids followed the music, others tion, dated the 6th of March, 1816, to his followed the garland, and they stopped valued friend, the venerable “ Sylvanus at their customers' doors, and danced. Urban." “Fifty years have passed away The plate, in some of these garlands, was since this place of amusement was at its very costly. It was usually borrowed of height of attraction : the spot where the the pawnbrokers, for the occasion, upon fair was held still retains the name of security. One person in that trade was May-fair, and exists in much the same particularly resorted to for this accommo. state as at the above period : for instance, dation. He furnished out the entire gar- Shepherd's market, and houses surrounding land, and let it at so much per hour, un it on the north and east sides, with White der bond from responsible housekeepers Horse-street, Shepherd's-court, Sun-court, for its safe return. In this way one set Market-court. Westwards an open space of milkmaids would hire the garland from extending to Tyburn (now Park) lane, ten o'clock till one, and another set would since built upon, in Chapel-street, Shephave the garland from one o'clock till herd's - street, Market - street, Hertford. six; and so on, during the first three days street, &c. Southwards, the noted Duckof May.
ing-pond, house, and gardens, since built It was customary with milk-people of upon, in a large Riding-school, Carringless profitable walks to make a display of ton-street, (the noted Kitty Fisher lived in another kind, less gaudy in appearance, this street,) &c. The market-house conbut better bespeaking their occupation, sisted of two stories ; first story, a long and more appropriate to the festival. and cross aisle, for butcher's shops, exterThis was an exhibition of themselves, in nally, other shops connected with culinary their best apparel, and of the useful ani- purposes ; second story, used as a theatre mal which produced the fluid they re at fair-time, for dramatic performances. tailed. One of these is thus described to My recollection serves to raise before me the editor of the Every-Day Book, by an the representation of the “ Revenge,' in intelligent eye-witness, and admirer of which the only object left on remembrance the pleasant sight. A beautiful country is the black man,' Zanga. Below, the girl *“ drest all in her best,” and more butchers gave place to toy-men and gingergaily attired than on any other day, with bread-bakers. At present, the upper story Horal ornaments in her neat little hat, is unfloored, the lower ditto nearly desertand on her bosom, led her cow, by a rope ed by the butchers, and their shops occudepending from its horns, garlanded with pied by needy peddling dealers in small flowers and kr.ots of ribbons; the horns, wares ; in truth, a most deplorable contrast neck, and head of the cow were decorated to what once was such a point of allurement. in like manner: a fine net, like those upon In the areas encompassing the marketladies' palfreys, tastefully stuck with building were booths for jugglers, prizeflowers, covered Bess's back, and even fighters, both at cudgels and back-sword, her tail was ornamented, with products boxing-matches, and wild beasts. The of the spring, and silken knots. The sports not under cover proprietress of the cow, a neat, brisk, tebanks, fire-eaters, ass-racing, sausagelittle, matronly body, followed on one tables, dice-tables, up-and-downs, merry. side, in holiday-array, with a sprig in her go-rounds, bull-baiting, grinning for a country bonnet, a blooming posy in her hat, running for a shift, hasty-pudding handkerchief, and ribbons on her stomach- eaters, eel-divers, and an infinite variety er. This scene was in Westminster, near of other similar pastimes. Among the
extraordinary and wonderful delights of laid its head, and another puppet then the happy spot, take the following items, instantly chopped it off with an axe. In which still hold a place within my mind, a circular staircase-window, at the north though I cannot affirm they all occurred end of Sun-court, a similar performance at one precise season. The account may took place by another set of puppets. be relied on, as I was born, and passed The condemned puppet bowed its head my youthful days in the vicinity, in Picca to the cill which, as above, was soon dedilly, (Carter's Statuary,) two doors from capitated. In these representations, the the south end of White Horse-street, late punishment of the Scotch chieftain since rebuilt (occupied at present by (lord Lovat) was alluded to, in order to lady Pulteney).-Before a large commo- gratify the feelings of southern loyalty, at dious house, with a good disposure of the expense of that farther north.—In a walks, arbours, and alcoves, was an area, fore one-pair room, on the west side of with an extensive bason of water, other- Sun-court, a Frenchman submitted to wise · Ducking-pond,' for the recreation the curious the astonishing strength of of lovers of that polite and humane sport, the Strong Woman,' his wife. A Persons who came with their dogs paid a blacksmith's anvil being procured from trifling fee for admission, and were cona White Horse-street, with three of the sidered the chief patrons and supporters men, they brought it up, and placed it of the pond; others, who visited the place on the floor. The woman was short, but as mere spectators, paid a double fee. A most beautifully and delicately formed, duck was put into the pond by the mas- and of a most lovely countenance. She ter of the hunt; the several dogs were first let down her hair, (a light auburn.) of then let loose, to seize the bird. For a long a length descending to her knees, which time they made the attempt in vain; for, she twisted round the projecting part of when they came near the devoted victim, the anvil, and then, with seeming ease, she dived under water, and eluded their lifted the ponderous weight some inches remorseless fangs. Herein consisted the from the floor. After this, a bed was laid extreme felicity of the interesting scene in the middle of the room; when, reclinAt length, some dog more expert than ing on her back, and uncovering her the rest, caught the feathered prize, and bosom, the husband ordered the smiths bore it away, amidst the loudest acclama- to place thereon the anvil, and forge upon tions, to its most fortunate and envied it a horse-shoe! This they obeyed; by
This diversion was held in such taking from the fire a red-hot piece of iron, high repute about the reign of Charles II., and with their forging hammers comthat he, and many of his prime nobility, pleting the shoe, with the same might did not disdain to be present, and partake, and indifference as when in the shop at with their dogs, of the elegant entertain their constant labour. The prostrate fair ment. In Mrs. Behn's play of “Sir Pa one appeared to endure this with the tient Fancy,' (written at the above pe- utmost composure, talking and singing riod,) a sir Credulous Easy talks about a during the whole process; then, with an cobbler, his dog-tutor, and his expectation effort which to the by-standers seemed of soon becoming the duke of Duck- like some supernatural trial, cast the ing-pond.' - A Mountebanks' Stage' anvil from off her body, jumping up at the was erected opposite the Three Jolly same moment with extreme gaiety, and Butchers' public-house, (on the east side without the least discomposure of her of the market area, now the King's dress or person. That no trick or colluArms.) Here Woodward, the inimitable sion could possibly be practised on the comedian and harlequin, made his first occasion was obvious, from the following appearance as merry-andrew ; from these evidence : The audience stood promishumble boards he soon after found his cuously about the room, among whom way to Covent-garden theatre. — Then were our family and friends; the smiths there was ‘Beheading of Puppets.' In a were utter strangers to the Frenchman, coal-shed attached to a grocer's shop, but known to us ; therefore the several (then Mr. Frith's, now Mr. Frampton's,) efforts of strength must have proceeded one of these mock executions was exposed from the natural and surprising power to the attending crowd. A shutter was this foreign dame was possessed of. She fixed horizontally; on the edge of which, next put her naked feet on a red-hot after many previous ceremonies, a puppet salamander, without receiving the least