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Dee, close by the picturesque old bridge of Cheslure, and the beautiful borders of
that stretches across the river from the Wales, and looked from among swelling
quaint little city of Chester. I had hills down a long green Valley, through
already been carried back into former which • the Deva wound its wizard
days by the antiquities of that venerable stream,' my imagination turned all into
place; the examination of which is equal a perfect Arcadia.—One can readily ima-
to turning over the pages of a black-letter gine what a gay scene it must have been
volume, or gazing on the pictures in in jolly old London, when the doors
Froissart. The May-pole on the margin were decorated with flowering, branches,
of that poetic stream completed the illu- when every hat was decked with haw-
sion. My fancy adorned it with wreaths thorn; and Robin Hood, triar Tuck,
of flowers, and peopled the freen bank Maid Marian, the morris-dancers, and alí
with all the dancing revelry of May-day. the other fantastic inasks and revellers
The mere sight of this May-pole gave a were performing their antics about the
glow to my feelings, and spread a charm May-pole in every part of the city. On
over the country for the rest of the day; this occasion we are told Robin Hood
and as I traversed a part of the fair plains presided as Lord of the May --

“ With coat of Lincoln green, and mantle too,
And horn of ivory mouth, and buckle bright,

And arrows winged with peacock-feathers light,

And trusty bow well gathered of the yew;
“ whilst near him, crowned as Lady of the May, maid Marian,

" With cyes

of blue,
Sbining through dusk hair, like the stars of right,

And habited in pretty forest plight

His green-wood beauty sits, young as the dew :
" and there, too, in a subsequent stage of the pageant, were

“The archer-men in green, with belt and bow,
Feasting on pheasant, river-fowl, and swan,

With Robin at their head, and Marian.
I value every custom that tends to ing the May-pole and the characters in
Infuse poetical feeling into the common the May-games, and therefore little will
people, and to sweeten and soften the be adduced at present as to the origin of
rudeness of rustic manners, without de- pastimes, which royalty itself delighted
stroying their simplicity. Indeed it is to in, and corporations patronized. For ex.
ihe decline of this happy simplicity that anuple of these honours to the festal day,
the decline of this custom may be traced; an honest gatherer of older chronicles
and the rural dance on the green, and the shall relate in his own words, so much as
homely May-day pageant, have gradually he acquaints us with :-
disappeared, in proportion as the pea-

“ In the moneth of May, namely on santry have become expensive and arti. May day in the morning, every man, exficial in their pleasures, and too knowing cept impediment, would walke into the for simple enjoyment. Some atteinpts, sweet meddowes and green woods, there indeed, have been made of late years, by to rejoyce their spirits with the beauty and men of both taste and learning, to rally savour of sweet flowers, and with the harback the popular feeling to these stand- monie of birds, praising God in their ards of primitive simplicity; but the time kinde. And for example hereof, Edward has gone by, the feeling has become chill Hall hath noted, that king Henry the ed by habits of gain and traffic; the eighth, as in the third of his reigne, and country apes the manners and amuse- divers other yeeres, so namely in the ments of the town, and little is heard of seventh of his reigne, on May day in the May-day at present, except from the la- morning, with queene Katharine his wife, mentations of authors, who sigh after it accompanied with many lords and ladies, from among the brick walls of the city." rode a Maying from Greenwich to the

high ground of Shooters-hill: where as

they passed by the way, they espyed a There will be opportunity in the conrse company of tall yeomen, clothed all in of this work to dilate somewhat concern- greene, with greene boods, and with

his men

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powes and arrowes, to the number of “ I find also, that in the month of May, 200. One, being their chieftaine, was the citizens of London (of all estates) called Robin Hood, who required the lightly in every parish, or sometimes two king and all his company to stay and see or three parishes joyning together, had

shoot : whereunto the king their severall Mayings, and did fetch in granting, Robin Hood whistled, and all May-poles, with divers warlike shewes, the 200 archers shot off, loosing all at with good archers, morice-dancers, and once; and when he whistled againe, they other devises for pastime all the day long ; likewise shot againe : their arrows whis- and towards the evening, they had stagetled by craft of the head, so that the noise plaies, and bonefires in the streets. was strange and loud, which greatly de “Of these Mayings, we read in the lighted the king, queene, and their com- reign of Henry the sixth, that the alderpany:

men and sheriffes of London, being on “Moreover, this Robin Ilood desired May day at the bishop of Londous wood the king and queene, with their retinue, in the parish of Stebunheath, and having to enter the greene wood, where, in ar there a worshipfull dinner for themselves bours made of boughes, and deckt with and other commers, Lydgate the poet, flowers, they were set and served plenti- that was a monk of Bury, sent to then fully with venison and wine, by Robin by a pursivant a joyfull commendation of Hood and his meyny, to their great con that season, containing sixteene staves ill tentment, and had other pageants and mecter royall, beginning thus :pastimes; as yee may read in my said author.

“ Mighty Flora, goddesse of fresh flowers,

which clothed hath the soyle in Justy green,
Made buds to spring, with her sweet showers,

by influence of the sunne shine,
To doe pleasance of intent full cleane,

unto the states which now sit liere,
Hath Ver downe seyt her own daughter deare,

“ Making the verlue, that dured in the root,
Called the vertue, the vertue vegetable,

for to transcend, most wholesome and most soote, Into the top, this season so agreeable :

the bawmy liquor is so commendable, That it rejoyceth with liis fresh moisture,

map, beast, aud fuwle, and every creature," &c. Thus far hath our London historian like woodmen, and their heads hound conceived it good for his fellow citizens to with large garlands of ivy-leaves, interknow,

twined with sprigs of hawthorn. Thien

followed six young maidens of the village, Of the manner wherein a May game dressed in blue kirtles, with garlands of was anciently set forth, he who above all primroses on their heads, leading a fine writers contemporary with him could best sleek cow decorated with ribbons of vadevise it has “ drawn out the platform," rious colours, interspersed with flowers ; and exhibited the pageant, as performed and the horus of the animal were tipped by the household servants and depend- with gold. These were succeeded by ants of a baronial mansion in the six foresters, equipped in green tunius fifteenth century. This is the scene: with hoods and hosen of the sanie colour " In the front of the pavilion, a large each of them carried a bugle-horn attaci.. square was staked out, and fenced with ed to a baldrick of silk, which he sounded ropes, to prevent the crowd from pressing as he passed the barrier. After them upon the performers, and interrupting the came Peter Lanaret, the baron's chia diversion; there were also two bars at falconer, who personified Robin Hood , the bottom of the inclosure, through he was attired in a bright grass-greep which the actors might pass and repass, tunic, fringed with gold; his hood ang as occasion required.- Sir young men his hosen were parti-coloured, viue and first entered the square, clothed in jerkins white; he had a large garland of rose of leather, with axes upon their shoulders buds on his head, a bow bent in his hand

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a sheaf of arrows at his girdle, and a the pageant; and then it was elevated bugle-horn depending from a baldrick of amidst the reiterated acclamations of the Light blue tarantine, embroidered with spectators. The woodmen and the milksilver; he had also a sword and a dagger, maidens danced around it according to the the hilts of both being richly embossed rustic fashion; the measure was played with gold.--Fabian, i page, as Little by Peretto Cheveritte, the baron's chief John, walked at his right hand; and minstrel

, on the bagpipes accompanied Cecil Cellerman the butler, as Will with the pipe and tabour, performed by Stukely, at his left. These, with ten one of his associates. When the dance others of the jolly outlaw's attendants was finished, Gregory the jester, who unwho followed, were habited in green gar- dertook to play the hobby-horse, came ments, bearing their bows bent in their forward with his appropriate equipment, hauds, and their arrows in their girdles. and, frisking up and down the square Then came two muidens, in orange-co- without restriction, imitated the galloploured kirtles with white courtpies, strew- ing, curvetting, ambling, trotting, aid ing flowers, followed immediately by the other paces of a horse, to the infinite saMaid Marian, elegantly habited in a tisfaction of the lower classes of the specwatchet-coloured tunic reaching to the tators. lle was followed by Peter Parker, ground; over which she wore a white the baron's ranger, who personated a linen rochet with · loose sleeves, fringed dragon, hissing, yelling, and shaking his with silver, and very neatly plaited; her wings with wonderful ingenuity; and to girdle was of silver baudékin, fastened complete the mirth, Morris, in the chawith a double bow on the left side; her racter of Much, having small bells attach. long flaxen hair was divided into many ed to his knees and elbows, capered here singlets, and flowed upon her shoulders; and there between the two monsters in the top part of her head was covered the form of a dance; and as often as he with a net-work cawl of gold, upon

which came near to the sides of the inclosure, was placed a garland of silver, ornament- he cast slily a handful of meal into the ed with blue violets. She was supported faces of the gaping rustics, or rapped by two bride-maidens, in sky-coloured them about their heads with the bladder rochets girt with crimson girdles, wearing tied at the end of his pole. In the meagariands upon their heads of blue and time, Sampson, representing Friar Tuch wnite violets. After them came four walked with much gravity around the other femuies in green courtpies, and square, and occasionally let fall his heavy garlands of violets and cowslips. Then staff upon the toes of such of the crowa Sampson the smith, as Friar Tuck, carry- as he thought were approaching more ing a huge quarter-staff on his shoulder; forward than they ought to do; and if the and Morris the mole-taker, who repre- sufferers cried out from the sense of pain, sented Much the miller's son, having a he addressed them in a solemn tone of long pole with an inflated bladder attach- voice, advising them to count their beads, ed to one end. And after them the May- say a paternoster or two, and to beware pole, drawn by eight fine oxen, decorated of purgatory. These vagaries were highly with scarfs, ribbons, and flowers of divers palatable to the populace, who announced colours; and the tips of their horns were their delight by repeated plaudits and embellished with gold. The rear was loud bursts of laughter; for this reason closed by the hobby-horse and the dra- they were continued for a considerable gon. When the May-pole was drawn length of time: but Gregory, beginning into the square, the foresters sounded at last to faulter in his paces, ordered the their horns, and the populace expressed dragon to fall back: the well-nurtured their pleasure by shouting incessantly un- beast, being out of breath, readily obeytil it reached the place assigned for its ed, and their two companions followed elevation : - and during the time the their example ; which concluded this ground was preparing for its reception, part of the pastime. Then the archers the barriers of the bottom of the inclosure set up a target at the lower part of the were opened for the villagers to approach, green, and made trial of their skill in a and adorn it with ribbons, garlands, and regular succession. Robin Hood and Aowers, as their inclination prompted Will Stukely excelled their comrades them. The pole being sufficiently onera- and both of them lodged an arrow in the ted with finery, the square was cleared centre circle of gold, so near to each from such as had no part to perform in other that the difference could not readily


be decided, which occasioned them to gate, called of the shaft, Shaft-alley, (being shoot again; when Robin struck the gold of the possessions of Rochester-bridge,) in a second iime, and Stukely's arrow was the ward of Lime-street.-It was there, I affixed upon the edge of it. Robin was say, hanged on iron hooks many years, therefore adjudged the conqueror; and till the third of king Edward the sixth, the prize of honour, a garland of laurel (1552), that one sir Stephen, curate of embellished with variegated ribbons, was Št. Katherine Christ's church, preaching put upon his head; and to Stukely was at Paul's Cross, said there, that this shaft given a garland of ivy, because he was was made an idoll, by naming the church the second best performer iu that contest, of St. Andrew with the addition of Under- The pageant was finished with the shaft; he perswaded, therefore, that the archery; and the procession began to names of churches might be altered.move away to make room for the vil. This sermon at Paul's Cross took such lagers, who afterwards assembled in the effect, that in the afternoon of that present square, and amused themselves by danc- Sunday, the neighbors and tenants to ing round the May-pole in promiscuous the said bridge, over whose doors the companies, according to ile antient said shaft had lain, after they had dined

It is scarcely possible to (to make themselves strong,) gathered give a better general idea of the regular more help, and, with great labor, raising May-game, than as it has been here re the shaft from the hooks, (whereon it had presented.

rested two-and-thirty years, they sawed
it in pieces, every man taking for his

share so much as had lain over his door Of the English May-pole this may be and stall, the length of his house; and observed. An author before cited says, that they of the alley, divided amongst them,

at the north-west corner of Aldgate ward so much as had lain over their alley-gite. in Leadenhall-strcet, standeth the fair and Thus was his idoll (as he termed it,). beautiful parish church of St. Andrew mangled, and after burned."* the apostle, with an addition, to be known It was a great object with soine of the from other churches of that name, of the more rigid among our early reformers, knape, or undershaft, and so called St. to suppress amusements, especially MayAndrew Undershaf. because that of old poles; and these “ idols ” of the people time, every year (on May-day in the morn were got down as zeal grew tierce, and ing) it was used, that a high or long got up as it grew cool, till, after various shaft, or May-pole, was set up there, in ups and downs, the favourites of the pothe midst of the street, before the south pulace were, by the parliament, on the door of the said church, which shaft or 6th of April, 1644, thus provided against : pole, when it was set on end, and tixed in “ The lords and commons do further the ground, was higher than the church order and ordain, that all and singular rteeple. Jeffrey Chaucer, writing of a May-poles, that are or shall be erected, vain boaster, hath these words, meaning shall be taken down, and removed hy of the said shaft:

the constables, bussholders, tithing-men,

petty constables, and churchwardens of “Right well aloft, and high ye bear your the parishes, where the same be, and that head,

no May-pole be hereafter set up, erect

ed, or suffered to be set up within As would bear the great shaft of Corn-hill. this kingdom of England, or dominion of ye

Wales ; the said officers to be fined five “This shaft was not raised any time shillings weekly till the said May-pole be since evil May-day, (so called of an

taken down." insurrection being made by prentices, and other young persons against alier

Accordingly down went all the May

poles that were left. A famous one in in the year 1517,) but the said shaft was laid along over the doors, and under the teen sung in lofty metre, appears to have

ihe Strand, which had ten years before pentices or one rowe of houses, and Alley- previously fallen. The poet says

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Fairly we marched on, till our approach

Within the spacious passage of the Strand,
Objected to our siglit a summer broach,

Ycleap'd a May Pole, which in all our lan:),
No city, towne, nor sircete, can parralell,
Nor can the lofty spire of Clarken-well,
Although we have the advantage of a rocke,
Pearch up more ligh his turning weather-cock.
Stay, quoth my Muse, and here behold a signe

Of liarmelesse mirth and honest neiglibourliood,
Where all the parislı did in one combine

To mount the rod of peace, anu none withstood ·
When no capritious constables distarb them,
Nor justice of the peace did seek to curb them,
Nor peevisl puritan, in rayling sort,
Nor over-wise church-warden, spoyld the sport.
Happy the age, and harmlesse were the dayes,

For iken true love and amity was found)
When erery village did a May Pole raise,

And Whitson-ales and MAY-Games did ahound :
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 farmer's 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 merriments decay'd,
How lines and men are chang'd, so well is knowne,

It were but labour lost if more were said.

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But I doe hope once more the day will come,

That you shall mount and pearch your cocks as high
As ere you did, and that the pipe and drum

Shall bid defiance to your enemy;
And that all tidlers, which in corners lurke,
And wave been almost starv'd for want of worke,
Shail draw their crowds, and, at your exaltation,

Play many a fit of merry recreation.*
The restoration of Charles II. was the Palace, and from thence it was conveyed
signal for the resturation of May-poles. April 14th to the Strand to be erected.
On the very first May-day afterwards, in It was brought with a streamer flourish-
1661, the May-pole' in The Strand was ing before it, Drums beating all the way
reared with great ceremony and rejoicing, and other sorts of musick; it was sup.
a curious account of which, from a rare posed to be so long, that Landsmen (as
tract, is at the reader's service. “Let me Carpenters) could not possibly raise it;
declare to you," says the triumphant nar- (Prince James the Duke of York, Lord
rator, " the manner in general of that High Admiral of England, commanded
stately cedar erected in the strand 134 twelve seamen off a boord to come and
foot high, commonly called the May-Pole, officiate the business, whereupon they
upon the cost of the parishioners there came and brought their cables, Pullies,
adjacent, and the gracious consent of his and other tacklins, with six great anchors)
sacred Majesty with the illustrious Prince after this was brought three Crowns, bore
The Duke of York. This Tree was a by three men bare-headed and a streamer
most choice and remarkable piece; 'ıwas displaying all the way before them, Drums
caade hclow Bridge, and brought in two
parts up to Scotland Yard near the King's

• Pasquil's Palinndia, 1634, 40.


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