Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

these fires, and made their sons and of flowers. A layer of clay is placed on daughters, together with their cattle, pass the stool, and therein is stuck, with great the fire; and the whole was conducted regularity, an arrangemeni of all kinds of with religious solemnity.”

flowers, so close as to form a beautiful

cushion. These are exhibited at the doors Mr. Brand notices, that Mr. Douce has of houses in the villages, and al the ends a curious French print, entitled “L'este of streets and cross-lanes of larger towns, le Feu de la St. Jean;" Mariette ex. In where the attendants beg money from the centre is the fire made of wood piled passengers, to enable them to have an up very regularly, and having a tree evening feast and dancing.* stuck in the midst of it. Young men One of the “Cheap Repository Tracts," and women are represented dancing round entitled, “Tawney Rachel, or the Forit hand in hand. Herbs are stuck in tune-Teller," said to have been written their hats and caps, and garlands of the by Miss Hannah More, relates, among same surround their waists, or are slung other superstitious practices of Sally across their shoulders. A boy is repre- Evans, that “she would never go to bed sented carrying a large bough of a tree. on Midsummer eve, without sticking up Several spectators are looking on. The in her room the well-known plant called following lines are at the bottom :- Midsummer Men, as the bending of the

“Que de Feux brulans dans les airs ! leaves to the right, cr to the left, would Qu'ils font une douce harmonie !

never fail to tell her whether her lover Redoublons cette mélodie

was true or false." The Midsummer Men Par nos dances, par nos concerts !" were the orpyne plants, which Mr. Brand This “curious French print,” furnished says is thus elegantly' aliuded to in the the engraving at page 82.), or to speak “Cottage Girl," a poem “written on more correctly, it was executed from one Midsummer eve, 1786:"in the possession of the editor of the Every-Day Book.

“ The rustic maid invokes her swain;

And hails, to pensive damsels dear, To enliven the subject a little, we may This eve, though direst of the year. recur to recent or existing usages at this

« Oft on the shrub she casts her eye, period of the year. It may be stated then

That spoke her true-love's secret sigh; on the authority of Mr. Brand's collec

Or else, alas! too plainly told tions, that the Eton scholars formerly had

Her true-love's faithless heart was cold.' bonfires on St. John's day; that bonfires are still made on Midsummer eve in In the “Connoisseur," there is men. several villages of Gloucester, and also tion of divinations on Midsummer eve. in the northern parts of England and in “I and my two sisters tried the dumbWales; to which Mr. Brand adds, that cake together: you must know, two must there was one formerly at Whiteborough, make it, two bake it, two break it, and a tumulus on St. Stephen's down near the third put it under each of their pilLaunceston, in Cornwall. A large summer lows, (but you must not speak a word all pole was fixed in the centre, round which the time), and then you will dream of the the fuel was heaped up. It had a large man you are to have. This we did : and bush on the top of it. 'Round this were to be sure I did nothing all night but parties of wrestlers contending for small dream of Mr. Blossom. The same night, prizes. An honest countryman, who had exactly at twelve o'clock, I sowed hempoften been present at these merriments, seed in our back-yard, and said to myinformed Mr. Brand, that at one of them self,----Hemp-seed I sow, hemp-seed I an evil spirit had appeared in the shape hoe, and he that is my true-love come of a black dog, since which none could after me and mow.' Will you believe wrestle, even in jest, without receiving me? I looked back, and saw him behind hurt : in consequence of which the wrest

me, as plain as eyes could see him. After ling was, in a great measure, laid aside. that, I took a clean shift and wetted it, The rustics there believe that giants are and turned it wrong-side out, and hung buried in these tumuli, and nothing would it to the fire upon the back of a chair; tempt them to be so sacrilegious as to and very likely my sweetheart would have disturb their bones.

come and turned it right again, (for I In Northumberland, it is customary on this day to dress out stools with a cushion * Hutchioson's Northumberland,

:

heard his step) but I was frightened, keep it in a clean sheet of paper, without
and could not help speaking, which broke looking at it till Christmas-day, it will
:he charm. I likewise stuck up two be as fresh as in June; and if I then stick
Midsummer Men, one for myself and it in my bosom, he that is to be my bus.
one for him. Now if his had died band will come and take it out. My own
away, we should never have come toge- sister Hetty, who died just before Christ-
ther, but I assure you his blowed and mas, stood in the church porch last Mid-
turned to mine. Our maid Betty tells summer eve, to see all that were to die
me, that if I go backwards, without speak- that year in our parish; and she saw her
ing a word, into the garden upon Mid- own apparition.
summer eve, and gather a rose, and Gay, in one of his pastorals, says

At eve last Midsummer no sleep I sought,
But to the field a bag of hemp-seed brought :
I scattered round the seed on every side,
And three times, in a trembling accent cried :-
“ This hemp-seed with my virgin hand I sow,
Who shall my true love be, the crop shall mow."
I straight looked back, and, if my eyes speak truth,

With his keen scythe behind me came the youth.
It is also a popular superstition that The moss-rose that, at fall of dew,
any unmarried woman fasting on Mid- (Ere Eve its duskier curtain drew,)
summer eve, and at midnight laying a Was freshly gather'd from its stem,
clean cloth, with bread, cheese, and ale,

She values as the ruby gem ; and sitting down as if going to eat, the

And, guarded from the piercing air, street-door being left open, the person

With all an anxious lover's care, whom she is afterwards to marry will

She bids it, for her shepherd's sake,

Await the new-year's frolic wake come into the room and drink to her by

When, faded, in its alter'd hue bowing; and after filling the glass will She reads—the rustic is untrue ! leave it on the table, and, making another But, if it leaves the crimson paint, bow, retire.*

Her sick’ning hopes no longer faint. So also the ignorant believe that any The rose upon her bosom worn, person fasting on Midsummer eve, and She meets him at the peep of morn; sitting in the church porch, will, at mid

And lo! her lips with kisses prest, night, see the spirits of the persons of that

He plucks it from her panting breast. parish who will die that year, come and knock at the church door, in the order In “Time's Telescope," there is cited and succession in which they will die. the following literal version of a beautiful

In the “Cottage Girl," before referred ballad which has been sung for many to, the gathering the rose on Midsummer centuries by the maidens, on the banks of eve and wearing it, is noticed as one of the Guadalquivir in Spain, when they go the modes by which a lass seeks to divine forth to gather flowers on the morning of the sincerity of her suitor's vows:- the festival of St John the baptist :

Spanish Ballad.
Come forth, come forth, my maidens, 'tis the day of good St. John,
It is the Baptist's morning that breaks the hills upon ;
And let us all go forth together, wliile the blessed day is new,
To dress with flowers the snow-wbite wether, ere the sun bas dried the dew.

Come forth, come forth, &c.
Come forth, come forth, my maidens, the hedgerows all are green,
And the little birds are singing the opening leaves between ;
And let us all go forth together, to gather trefoil by the stream,
Ere the face of Guadalquivir glows beneath the strengthening beam.

Come, forth, come forth, &c.
Come forth, come forth, my maidens, and slumber not away
The blessed, blessed morning of John the Baptist's day;
There's trefoil ou the meadow, and lilies on the lee,
And hawthorn blossoms on the bush, which you must pluck with me.

Come forth, come forth, &c.
Grose

1

Come forth, come forth, my maidens, the air is calm and cool,
And the violet blue far down ye'll view, reflected in the pool ;
The violets and the roses, and the jasmines all together,
We'll bind in garlands on the brow of the strong and lovely wether.

Come fortb, coine forth, &c.
Come forth, come forth, my maidens, we'll gather myrtle boughs,
Aud we all shall learn, from the dews of the fern, if our lads will keep their vows :
If the wether be still, as we dance on the hill, and the dew hangs sweet on the flowers,
Then we'll kiss off the dew, for our lovers are true, and the Baptist's blessing is ours.

Come forth, come forth, &c.
Come forth, come forth, my maidens, 'tis the day of good St. John,
It is the Baptist's morning that breaks the hills upon;
And let us all go forth together, while the blessed day is new,
To dress with flowers the snow-white wether, ere the sun has dried the dew.

Come forth, come forth, &c. There are too many obvious traces of follow. He accordingly called several of the fact to doubt its truth, that the mak- his friends together, on an appointed day, ing of bonfires, and the leaping through and having lighted a large fire, brought them, are vestiges of the ancient worship forth his best calf; and, without ceremoof the heathen god Bal; and therefore, ny or remorse, pushed it into the flames. it is, with propriety, that the editor of The innocent victim, on feeling the in“ Times's Telescope," adduces a recent tolerable heat, endeavoured to escape ; occurrence from Hitchin's “ History of but this was in vain. The barbarians Cornwall," as a probable remnant of pagan that surrounded the fire were armed with superstition in that county. He presumes pitchforks, or pikes, as in Cornwall they that the vulgar notion which gave rise are generally called; and, as the burning to it, was derived from the druidical victim endeavoured to escape from death, sacrifices of beasts. “An ignorant old with these instruments of cruelty the farmer in Cornwall, having met with wretches pushed back the tortured animal some severe losses in his cattle, about the into the flames. In this state, amidst the year 1800, was much afflicted with his wounds of pitchforks, the shouts of unmisfortunes. To stop the growing evil, feeling ignorance and cruelty, and the he applied to the farriers in his neigh- corrosion of flames, the dying victim bourhood, but unfortunately he applied poured out its expiring groan, and was in vain. The malady still continuing, consumed to ashes. It is scarcely posand all remedies failing, he thought it sible to reflect on this instance of supernecessary to have recourse to some extra- stitious barbarity, without tracing a kind ordinary measure. Accordingly, on con- of resemblance between it, and the ansulting' with some of his neighbours, cient sacrifices of the Druids. This calf equally ignorant with himself, and evi- was sacrificed to fortune, or good luck, dently not less barbarous, they recalled to avert impending calamity, and to ento their recollections a tale, which tradi- sure future prosperity, and was selected tion had handed down from remote anti- by the farmer as the finest among his quity, that the calamity would not cease herd.” Every intelligent native of Cornuntil he had actually burned alive the wall will perceive, that this extract from finest calf which he had upon his farm; the history of his county, is here made for but that, when this sacrifice was made, the purpose of shaming the brutally ignothe murrian would afflict his cattle no rant, if it be possible, into humanity. more The old farmer, influenced by this To conclude the present notices rather counsel, resolved immediately on reduc- pleasantly, a little poem is subjoined, ing it to practice; that, by making the which shows that the superstition respectdetestable experiment, he might secure ing the St. John's wort is not confined to an advantage, which the whisperers of England; it is a version of some lines tradition, and the advice of his neigh- transcribed from a German almanac :bours, had conspired to assure him would

The St. John's Wort.
The young maid stole through the cottage door,
And blushed as she sought the plant of pow'r ;-

“ Thou silver glow-worm, 0 lend me thy light,
I must gather the mystic St. John's wort to-night,
The wonderful herb, whose leaf will decide
If the coming year shall make me a bride."

And the glow-worm came
With its silvery flame,
And sparkled and shone

Thro' the night of St. John,
And soon has the young maid her love-knot tied.

With noiseless tread

To her chamber she sped,
Where the spectral moon her white beams shed :-

“ Bloom here-bloom here, thou plant of pow'r,
To deck the young bride in her bridal hour !"
But it drooped its head that plant of power,
And died the mute death of the voiceless flower;
And a withered wreath on the ground it lay,
More meet for a burial than bridal day.

And when a year was past away,
All pale on her bier the young maid lay

And the glow-worm came
With its silvery flame,
And sparkled and shone

Thro' the night of St. John,
And they closed the cold grave o'er the maid's cold clay.

It would be easy, and perhaps more Franking of Newspapers. agreeable to the editor than to his readers, to accumulate many other notices con

By a recent regulation it is not necescerning the usages on this day; let it suf- sary to put the name of a member of fice, however, that we know enough to be either house of parliament on the cover;

the address of assured, that knowledge is engendering

party to whom it is good sense, and that the superstitions of sent, with the ends of the paper left open our ancestors will in no long time have delivery. This is a praiseworthy accom

as usual, will be sufficient to ensure its passed away for ever. Be it the business of their posterity to hasten their decay.

modation to common sense. The old fiction was almost universally known to

be one, and yet it is only a few years FLORAL DIRECTORY.

ago, that a member of parliament reSt. John's Wort. Hypericum Pulchrum. ceived a humble letter of apology, coupled Nativity of St. John.

with a request from one of his coasttuents, that he might be allowed to use

the name of his representative in directJune 25.

ing a newspaper.

To the ingenuous,

pretences seem realities. St. Prosper, A. D. 463. St. Marimus,

Bp. A. D. 465. St. William of Monte-
Vergine, A. D. 1142. St. Adelbert,

FLORAL DIRECTORY.
A. D. 740. St. Moloc, Bp. 7th Cent. Sweet Williams. Dianthus barbatus.
Sts. Agoard and Aglibert, A. D. 400.

Dedicated to St. William. CHRONOLOGY. 1314. The battle of Bannockburn

June 26. which secured the independence of Scotland, and fixed Robert Bruce on the St. John and Paul, Martyrs abont A. D. throne of that kingdom, was fought on 362. St. Marentius, Abbot, A. D. 515. this day between the Scots under that St. Vigilius, Bp. A. D. 400, or 405. chieftain, and the English under Ed. St. Babolen. St. Anthelm, Bp. of ward II.

Bellay, a. D. 1178. Raingarda, Widow,
A. D. 1135

[graphic]
« НазадПродовжити »