p.230 /


      It is greatly to be feared that, notwithstanding the efforts made within the last few years by inidividuals who have desired to see the resuscitation of the merry sports and customs of old England, the spirit which formerly characterised them is not to be recovered. The mechanical spirit of the age has thrown a degree of ridicule over observances which have not been without use in their day; and might even now be rendered beneficial to the public, were it possible to exclude the influence which tells the humbler subject such matters are below his regard. Yet it must be confessed that most of our ancient customs are only suited to the thinly-populated rural districts, where charity, good-will, and friendship may be delicately cultivated under the plea of their observance.


Ha wish ye a merry Chresamas,
     An a happy new year,
A pantry full a' good rost beef,
     An a barril full a' beer.

      To these lines we may add the following North-country nursery song:
Now Christmas is come, and now Pappy's come home,
     Wi' a pegtop for Tammie, a hussif for Sue;
A new bag o' marbles for Dick; and for Joan,
     A workbox; for Phoebe a bow for her shoe;
For Cecily singing a humming-top comes,
     For dull drowsie Marie a sleeping-top meet;
For Ben, Ned, and Harry, a fife and two drums,
     For Jennie a box of nice sugar-plums sweet.

p.231 /

      A rude drama is performed at Christmas by the guisers or mummers in most parts of England and Scotland, but the versions are extremely numerous, and no less than six copies have reached me differing materially from each other. In the following copy, which is the most perfect one I have been able to procure, the dramatis personæ consist of a Fool, St. George, Slasher, a Doctor, Prince of Paradine, King of Egypt, Hector, Beelzebub, and little Devil Doubt. I am informed that this drama is occasionally acted at Easter as well as at Christmas.
Enter Actors.
     Fool. Room, room, brave gallants, give us room to sport,
For in this room we wish for to resort,
Resort, and to repeat to you our merry rhyme,
For remember, good sirs, this is Christmas time!
The time to cut up goose-pies now doth appear,
So we are come to act our merry Christmas here;
At the sound of the trumpet and beat of the drum,
Make room, brave gentlemen, and let our actors come!
We are the merry actors that traverse the street,
We are the merry actors that fight for our meat;
We are the merry actors that show pleasant play.
Step in, St. George, thou champion, and clear the way.
I am St. George, who from old England sprung,
My famous name throughout the world hath rung;
Many bloody deeds and wonders have I made known,
And made the tyrants tremble on their throne.
I followed a fair lady to a giant's gate,
Confined in dungeon deep to meet her fate;
Then I resolved, with true knight-errantry,
To burst the door, and set the prisoner free;
When a giant almost struck me dead,
But by my valour I cut off his head.
I've searched the world all round and round,
But a man to equal me I never found.
p.232 /
     Slasher. I am a valiant soldier, and Slasher is my name,
With sword and buckler by my side I hope to win the game;
And for to fight with me I see thou art not able,
So with my trusty broad-sword I soon will thee disable!
     St. George. Disable! disable! it lies not in thy power,
For with my glittering sword and spear I soon will thee devour.
Stand off, Slasher! let no more be said,
For if I draw my sword, I'm sure to break thy head!
   Slasher. How can'st thou break my head?
Since it is made of iron,
And my body's made of steel;
My hands and feet of knuckle-bone:
I challenge thee to field.
[They fight, and Slasher is wounded. Exit St. George.

Enter FOOL.
     Fool. Alas! alas! my chiefest son is slain!
What must I do to raise him up again?
Here he lies in the presence of you all,
I'll lovingly for a doctor call!
(Aloud.) A doctor! a doctor! ten pounds for a doctor!
I'll go and fetch a doctor.
     Doctor. Here am I.
     Fool. Are you the doctor?
     Doctor. Yes, that you may plainly see,
By my art and activity.
     Fool. Well, what's your fee to cure this man?
     Doctor. Ten pounds is my fee; but Jack, if thou be an honest man, I'll only take five of thee.
     Fool. You'll be wondrous cunning if you get any (Aside.)
Well how far have you travelled in doctrineship?
     Doctor. From Italy, Titaly, High Germany, France, and Spain,
And now am returned to cure the diseases in old England again.
     Fool. So far, and no further?
     Doctor. O yes! a great deal further.
     Fool. How far?
     Doctor. From the fireside cupboard, upstairs and into bed.
p.233 /
     Fool. What diseases can you cure?
     Doctor. All sorts.
     Fool. What's all sorts?
     Doctor. The itch, the pitch, the palsy, and the gout.
                   If a man gets nineteen devils in his skull,
                   I'll cast twenty of them out.
      I have in my pockets crutches for lame ducks, spectacles for blind humble-bees, pack-saddles and panniers for grasshoppers, and plaisters for broken-backed mice. I cured Sir Harry of a nang-nail, almost fifty-five yards long; surely I can cure this poor man.
     Here, Jack, take a little out of my bottle,
     And let it run down thy throttle;
     If thou be not quite slain,
     Rise, Jack, and fight again.                         [Slasher rises.
        Slasher. Oh, my back!
        Fool. What's amiss with thy back?
        Slasher. My back it is wounded,
     And my heart is confounded,
     To be struck out of seven senses into four score;
     The like was never seen in Old England before.

     Oh, hark! St. George, I hear the silver trumpet sound,
     That summons us from off this bloody ground;
     Down yonder is the way (pointing).
     Farewell, St. George, we can no longer stay.
[Exeunt Slasher, Doctor, and Fool.
        St. George. I am St. George, that noble champion bold,
     And with my trusty sword I won ten thousand pounds in gold;
     'Twas I that fought the fiery dragon,and brought him to the slaughter,
     And by those means I won the King of Egypt's daughter.

        Prince. I am Black Prince of Paradine, born of high renown;
     Soon I will fetch St. George's lofty courage down.
     Before St. George shall be received by me,
     St. George shall die to all eternity !
p.234 /
        St. George. Stand off, thou black Morocco dog,
    Or by my sword, thou'lt die;
     I'll pierce thy body full of holes,
     And make thy buttons fly.
        Prince. Draw out thy sword and slay,
     Pull out thy purse and pay;
     For I will have a recompense
     Before I go away.
        St. George. Now, Prince of Paradine, where have you been?
     And what fine sights, pray, have you seen?
     Dost think that no man of thy age
     Dares such a black as thee engage?
     Lay down thy sword; take up to me a spear,
     And then I'll fight thee without dread or fear.
[They fight, and Prince of Paradine is slain.
        St. George. Now Prince of Paradine is dead,
     And all his joys entirely fled;
     Take him, and give him to the flies,
     And never more come near mine eyes.

        King. I am the King of Egypt, as plainly doth appear;
     I'm come to seek my son, my son, and only heir.
        St. George. He is slain.
        King. Who did him slay, who did him kill,
     And on the ground his precious blood did spill?
        St. George. I did him slay, I did him kill,
     And on the ground his precious blood did spill!
     Please you, my liege, my honour to maintain,
     Had you been there, you might have fared the same.
        King. Cursed Christian ! what is this thou'st done ?
 Thou hast ruined me, and slain my only son.
    St. George. He gave me a challenge, why should I it deny?
 How high he was, but see how low he lies!
    King. O Hector! Hector! help me with speed,
 For in my life I never stood more need!

 And stand not there with sword in hand,
 But rise and fight at my command!
    Hector. Yes, yes, my liege, I will obey,
 And by my sword I hope to win the day;
p.235 /
     If that be he who doth stand there,
     That slew my master's son and heir;
     If he be sprung from royal blood,
     I'll make it run like Noah's flood!
        St. George. Hold, Hector! do not be so hot,
     For here thou knowest not who thou'st got,
     For I can tame thee of thy pride,
     And lay thine anger, too, aside;
     Inch thee, and cut thee as small as flies,
     And send thee over the sea to make mince-pies;
     Mince-pies hot, and mince-pies cold,
     I'll send thee to Black Sam before thou'rt three days old.
        Hector. How canst thou tame me of my pride,
     And lay mine anger, too, aside?
     Inch me, and cut me as small as flies,
     Send me over the sea to make mince-pies?
     Mince-pies hot, mince-pies cold;
     How canst thou send me to Black Sam before I'm three days old?
     Since my head is made of iron,
        My body's made of steel,
     My hands and feet of knuckle-bone,
        I challenge thee to field.
[They fight, and Hector is wounded.
     I am a valiant knight, and Hector is my name,
     Many bloody battles have I fought, and always won the same;
     But from St. George I received this bloody wound.
(A trumpet sounds.)
     Hark, hark! I hear the silver trumpet sound,
     Down yonder is the way (Pointing).
     Farewell, St. George, I can no longer stay.      [Exit.

Enter FOOL.
        St. George. He comes from post, old Bold Ben.
        Fool. Why, master, did ever I take you to be my friend?
        St. George. Why, Jack, did ever I do thee any harm?
        Fool. Thou proud saucy coxcomb, begone!
        St. George. A coxcomb! I defy that name!
     With a sword thou ought to be stabbed for the same.
        Fool. To be stabbed is the least I fear!
     Appoint your time and place, I'll meet you there.
        St. George. I'll cross the water at the hour of five,
     And meet you there, sir, if I be alive.      [Exit.
p.236 /
     Here come I, Beelzebub,
     And over my shoulders I carry my club;
     And in my hand a dripping-pan,
     And I think myself a jolly old man;
     And if you don't believe what I say,
     Enter in, Devil Doubt, and clear the way.

     Here come I, little Devil Doubt,
     If you do not give me money, I'll sweep you all out:
     Money I want, and money I crave;
     If you do not give me money I'll sweep you all to the grave.

God bless the master of this house,
     The mistress also,
And all the little children
     That round the table go;
And all your kin and kinsmen,
     That dwell both far and near;
I wish you a merry Christmas,
     And a happy new year.

      Wassel or Wassal.—A remnant of this part of our Saxon manners still exists at Yarmouth, and strange to say, in no other part of the Isle of Wight. On the first day of the new year the children collect together and sing wassel or wassal through the streets; the following is their song (see p. 249):
Wassal, wassal, to our town!
The cup is white and the ale is brown;
The cup is made of the ashen tree,
And so is the ale of the good barley;
Little maid, little maid, turn the pin,
Open the door and let us come in;
God be here, God be there.
I wish you all a happy new year!

p.237 /

      The following verses are said to be in some way or other connected with the amusements of this festival. They refer probably to the choosing the king and the queen on Twelfth-night:
Lavender's blue, dilly dilly, lavender's green,
When I am king, dilly dilly, you shall be queen:
Who told you so, dilly dilly, who told you so?
'Twas mine own heart, dilly dilly, that told me so.

Call up your men, dilly dilly, set them to work,
Some with a rake, dilly dilly, some with a fork;
Some to make hay, dilly dilly, some to thresh corn,
Whilst you and I, dilly dilly, keep ourselves warm.

If you should die, dilly dilly, as it may hap,
You shall be buried, dilly dilly, under the tap;
Who told you so, dilly dilly, pray tell me why?
That you might drink, dilly dilly, when you are dry.

      Another version may be given for the sake of adding the traditional tune to which it was sung:

Lavender Blue, traditional tune, first 6 bars

p.238 /

Lavender Blue, traditional tune, next 6 bars

Catharine and Clement, be here, be here,
Some of your apples, and some of your beer:
Some for Peter, and some for Paul,
And some for Him that made us all:
Clement was a good man,
For his sake give us some,
Not of the worst, but some of the best,
And God will send your soul to rest.
      These lines are sung by the children of Worcestershire on St. Catharine's day, when they go round to the farmhouses collecting apples and beer for a festival. This is no doubt the relic of a Popish custom; and the Dean of Worcester informs me that the Chapter have a practice of preparing a rich bowl of wine and spices, called the "Cathern bowl," for the inhabitants of the college precincts upon that day.

      In the western counties, the children, decked with the wreaths and true-lover's knots presented to them, p.239 / gaily adorn one of their number as their chief, and march from house to house, singing—
Good morrow to you, Valentine!
Curl your locks as I do mine;
Two before and three behind;
Good morrow to you, Valentine!
      They commence in many places as early as six o'clock in the morning, and intermingle the cry, "To-morrow is come!" Afterwards they make merry with their collections. At Islip, co. Oxon, I have heard the children sing the following when collecting pence on this day:
Good morrow, Valentine!
I be thine and thou be'st mine,
So please give me a Valentine!
      And likewise the following:
Good morrow, Valentine,
     God bless you ever!
If you'll be true to me,
I'll be the like to thee;
     Old England for ever!
      Schoolboys have a very uncomplimentary way of presenting each other with these poetical memorials:
Peep, fool, peep,
     What do you think to see?
Every one has a valentine,
     And here's one for thee!
      Far different from this is a stanza which is a great favorite [lit.] with young girls on this day, offered indiscriminately, and of course quite innocently, to most of their acquaintances:
The rose is red,
     The violet's blue,
Pinks are sweet,
     And so are you!
      The mission of valentines is one of the very few old customs not on the wane; and the streets of our me-p.240 / tropolis practically bear evidence of this fact in the distribution of love-messages on our stalls and shop-windows, varying in price from a sovereign to one halfpenny. Our readers, no doubt, will ask for its origin, and there we are at fault to begin with. The events of St. Valentine's life furnish no clue whatever to the mystery, although Wheatley, in his Illustration of the Common Prayer, absurdly disposes of the question in this way: "St. Valentine was a man of most admirable parts, and so famous for his love and charity, that the custom of choosing valentines upon his festival, which is still practised, took its rise from thence." We see no explanation here in any way satisfactory, and must be contented with the hope that some of our antiquaries may hit on something more to the purpose.
      Valentine's day has long been popularly believed to be the day on which birds pair. Shakespeare alludes to this belief:
Good morrow, friends: St. Valentine is past;
Begin these wood-birds but to couple now?
      It was anciently the custom to draw lots on this day. The names of an equal number of each sex were put into a box, in separate partitions, out of which every one present drew a name, called the valentine, which was regarded as a good omen of their future marriage. It would appear from a curious passage quoted in my Dictionary of Archaisms, that any lover was hence termed a valentine; not necessarily an affianced lover, as suggested in Hampson's Calendarium, vol. i. p. 163. Lydgate, the poet of Bury, in the fifteenth century, thus mentions this practice:
Saint Valentine, of custom year by year
     Men have an usance in this region
To look and search Cupid's calendere,
     And choose their choice by great affection:
     Such as be prick'd with Cupid's motion,
Taking their choice as their lot doth fall:
But I love one which excelleth all.

p.241 /

      Gay alludes to another popular notion referring to the same day:

Last Valentine, the day when birds of kind
Their paramours with mutual chirpings find,
I early rose, just at the break of day,
Before the sun had chas'd the stars away;
Afield I went, amid the burning dew,
To milk my kine, for so should housewives do.
Thee first I spied; and the first swain we see,
In spite of fortune shall our true love be.
      The divinations practised on Valentine's day is a curious subject. Herrick mentions one by rose-buds:
She must no more a-maying;
Or by rose-buds divine
Who'll be her valentine.
Perhaps the poet may here allude to a practice similar to the following, quoted by Brand: "Last Friday was Valentine day; and the night before I got five bay-leaves, and pinned four of them to the four corners of my pillow, and the fifth to the middle; and then, if I dreamt of my sweetheart, Betty said we should be married before the year was out. But to make it more sure I boiled an egg hard, and took out the yolk, and filled it with salt; and when I went to bed, eat it shell and all, without speaking or drinking after it. We also wrote our lovers' names upon bits of paper, and rolled them up in clay, and put them into water; and the first that rose up was to be our valentine. Would you think it? Mr. Blossom was my man. I lay abed, and shut my eyes all the morning, till he came to our house, for I would not have seen another man before him for all the world." According to Mother Bunch, the following lines should be said by the girl on retiring to rest the previous night:
Sweet guardian angels, let me have
     What I most earnestly do crave,
A valentine endow'd with love,
     That will both kind and constant prove.

p.242 /

      We believe the old custom of drawing lots on this eventful day is obsolete, and has given place to the favorite practice of sending pictures, with poetical legends, to objects of love or ridicule. The lower classes, however, seldom treat the matter with levity, and many are the offers of marriage thus made. The clerks at the post-offices are to be pitied, the immense increase of letters beyond the usual average adding very inconveniently to their labours.
      "This iz Volantine day, mind, an be wot ah can see theal be a good deal a hanksiaty a mind sturrin amang't owd maids an't batchillors; luv sickness al be war than ivver wor nawn, espeshly amang them ats gettin raither owdish like; but all al end weel, so doant be daan abaght it. Ah recaleckt, when ah wor a yung man, ah went tut poast-office an bowt hauf a peck a volantines for tuppance, an when ah look't em ovver, thear wor wun dereckted for mesen, an this wor wot thear wor it inside:

Paper's scarce, and luv iz dear,
So av sent ye a bit a my pig-ear;
And if t'same bit case we yo, my dear,
Pray send me a bit of yor pig-ear.
Ha, ah wor mad, yo mind, ah nivver look't at a yung womman for two days at after for't; but it wor becos ah hedant a chonce."—Yorkshire Dial.

      In Rogation week there is or was an odd custom in the country about Keston and Wickham, in Kent. A number of young men meet together for the purpose, and, with a most hideous noise, run into the orchards, and, encircling each tree, pronounce these words:
Stand fast, root; bear well, top;
God wend us a youling sop!
E'ry twig, apple big;
E'ry bough, apple enow.
Hats full, caps full,
Full quarter sacks full.

p.243 /

      For this incantation the confused rabble expect a gratuity in money, or drink, which is no less welcome; but if they are disappointed in both, they, with great solemnity, anathematize the owners and trees with altogether as insignificant a curse.
      "It seems highly probable," says Hasted, in his History of Kent, "that this custom has arisen from the ancient one of perambulation among the heathens, when they made their prayers to the gods, for the use and blessing of the fruits coming up, with thanksgiving for those of the preceding year; and as the heathens supplicated Eolus, the god of the winds, for his favorable blasts, so in this custom they still retain his name, with a very small variation, the ceremony being called yeuling; and the word is often used in their invocations."

      An old custom, formerly in vogue at Wenlock, in Shropshire, thus described by Mr. Collins: "I am old enough to remember an old custom, and the last time it took place was about sixty years ago; it was called the 'boy's bailiff,' and was held in the Easter week, Holy Thursday, or in Whitsun week, and I have no doubt was for the purpose of going a bannering the extensive boundaries of this franchise, which consists of eighteen parishes. It consisted of a man, who wore a hair-cloth gown, and was called the bailiff, a recorder, justices, town-clerk, sheriff, treasurer, crier, and other municipal officers. They were a large retinue of men and boys mounted on horseback, begirt with wooden swords, which they carried on their right sides, so that they must draw the swords out of the scabbards with their left hands. They, when I knew them, did not go the boundary, but used to call at all the gentlemen's houses in the franchise, where they were regaled with meat, drink, and money; and before the conclusion p.244 / they assembled at the pillory, at the guildhall, where the town-clerk read some sort of rigmarole which they called their charter, and I remember one part was—
We go from Bickbury and Badger to Stoke on the Clee,
To Monkhopton, Round Acton, and so return we.
Bickbury, Badger, and Stoke on the Clee, were and are the two extreme points of the franchise, north and south; Monkhopton and Round Acton are two other parishes on the return from Stoke St. Millborough, otherwise Stoke on the Clee (or perhaps Milburga, the tutelar saint of the Abbey of Wenlock), to Much Wenlock. This custom I conceive to have originated in going a bannering, unless it should have been got up as a mockery to the magistracy of the franchise; but I rather think the former."

      It is a custom in some parts of England for boys to go round the village on Easter eve begging for eggs or money, and a sort of dramatic song is sometimes used on the occasion. The following copy was taken down from recitation some years ago in the neighbourhood of York; but in another version we find Lords Nelson and Collingwood introduced, by a practice of adaptation to passing events, which is fortunately not extensively followed in such matters. A boy, representing a captain, enters and sings—
Here's two or three jolly boys all o' one mind,
We've come a pace-egging, and hope you'll be kind;
I hope you'll be kind with your eggs and your beer,
And we'll come no more pace-egging until the next year.
Then old Toss-pot enters, and the captain, pointing him out, says—
The first that comes in is old Toss-pot you see,
A valiant old blade for his age and degree;
He is a brave fellow on hill or in dale,
And all he delights in is a-drinking of ale.

p.245 /

Toss-pot then pretends to take a long draught from a huge quart-pot, and, reeling about, tries to create laughter by tumbling over as many boys as he can. A miser next enters, who is generally a boy dressed up as an old woman in tattered rags, with his face blackened. He is thus introduced by the captain:

     An old miser's the next that comes in with her bags,
     And to save up her money, wears nothing but rags.

Chorus. Whatever you give us we claim for our right,
               Then bow with our heads, and wish you good night.

This is repeated twice, and the performance concludes by the whole company shouting to the top of their voice—
     Now, ye ladies and gentlemen, who sit by the fire,
     Put your hands in your pockets, 'tis all we desire;
     Put your hands in your pockets, and lug out your purse,
     We shall be the better, you'll be none the worse!
      "Pase-day, Easter-day. Pase-eggs, Easter-eggs. Corrupt. from Pasch. They have a proverbial rhyme in those parts for the Sundaies in Lent:
Tid, Mid, Misera,
Carl, Paum, good Pase-day"         
Kennett, MS. Lansd. 1033.

Collop Monday,
Pancake Tuesday,
Ash Wednesday,
Bludee Thursday,
Friday's lang, but will be dune,
And hey for Saturday afternune!
Verses for Shrove-tide, Collop-Monday being a North-country name for Shrove-Monday, because eggs and collops compose a standard dish for that day. At p.246 / Islip, in Oxfordshire, the children, on Shrove-Tuesday, go round to the various houses to collect pence, saying:
Pit-a-pat, the pan is hot,
We are come a-shroving;
A little bit of bread and cheese
Is better than nothing.
The pan is hot, the pan is cold;
Is the fat in the pan nine days old?
      "Collap Munday.—This time reminds me on a bit ov a consarn at happand abaght two year sin, to a chap at thay call Jeremiah Fudgemutton. This Jerry, yo mun naw, went ta see a yung womman, a sweetheart a hiz, an when he put hiz arms raand her neck to gie her a cus, it happand shood been hevin sum fried bacon to her dinner, an fagettan ta wipe t' grease off on her magth at after. Thear hiz faice slip't off on her chin-end, an slap went hiz head reight throot winda, an cut tip ov hiz noaze off."—Yorkshire Dial.

      Until within about the last thirty years, it had been the custom in the Isle of Wight from time immemorial at all the farms and some other charitable houses to distribute cakes on Shrove-Tuesday, called Shrove-cakes, to the poor children of the parish or neighbourhood, who assembled early in the morning at the different villages, hamlets, and cottages, in parties of from two to thirty or more, for the purpose of what was denominated "Going Shroving," and the children bore the name of Shrovers. At every house they visited they had a nice Shrove-cake each given them. In those days the winters were much more inclement and of longer duration than at the present time, and it often happened that, in addition to a severe frost, the ground was covered several inches high with snow, yet however cold or intense the weather, it did not prevent these p.247 / little ones from what they called in the provincial dialect Gwine a Shrovun, and they jogged merrily along hand in hand from one house to another to obtain their cakes; but, before receiving them, it was expected and deemed necessary that they should all sing together a song suitable to the occasion; those who sang the loudest were considered the best Shrovers, and sometimes had an extra cake bestowed on them; consequently, there was no want of noise (whatever there might have been of harmony) to endeavour to get another Shroving gift. There were many different versions of the song according to the parishes they lived in. The one generally sang by the children of the East Medina was as follows:
     A Shrovun, a Shrovun,
     I be cum a Shrovun,
     A piece a bread, a piece a cheese,
     A bit a your fat beyacun,
     Or a dish of doughnuts,
     Aal of your own mayacun!

     A Shrovun, a Shrovun,
     I be cum a Shrovun,
     Nice meeat in a pie,
     My mouth is verrey dry!
     I wish a wuz zoo well a-wet,
     I'd zing the louder for a nut!*

Chorus. A Shrovun, A Shrovun,
              We be cum a Shrovun!

   * Composed of flour and lard, with plums in the middle, and made into round substances about the size of a cricket-ball. They were called nuts or dough-nuts, and quite peculiar to the Isle of Wight.

      The song of the children of the West Medina was different:
     A Shrovun, a Shrovun,
     I be cum a Shrovun,
     Linen stuff es good enuff,
     Vor we that cums a Shrovun.
p.248 /
     Vine veathers in a pie,
     My mouth is verrey dry.
     I wish a wuz zoo well a-wet,
     Then I'd zing louder vor a nut!
     Dame,* dame, a igg, a igg,†
     Or a piece a beyacun.
     Dro awaay‡ the porridge pot,
     Or crock to bwile the pecazun.
     Vine veathers in a pie,
     My mouth is verrey dry.
     I wish a wuz zoo well a-wet,
     Then I'd zing louder vor a nut!

Chorus. A Shrovun, A Shrovun,
              We be cum a Shrovun!

Dame. The mistress of the house, if past the middle age, was called Dame, i.e. Madame.
   † An egg an egg              ‡ Throw away.


      If the song was not given sufficiently loud, they were desired to sing it again. In that case it very rarely required a second repetition. When the Shrovers were more numerous than was anticipated, it not unfrequently happened that, before the time of the arrival of the latter parties, the Shrove-cakes had been expended; then dough-nuts, pancakes, bread and cheese, or bread and bacon, were given, or halfpence were substituted; but in no instance whatever were they sent from the door empty-handed. It is much to be regretted that this charitable custom should have become almost extinct; there being very few houses at the present time where they distribute Shrove-cakes.
      "There was another very ancient custom somewhat similar to the Shroving, which has also nearly, if not quite, disappeared; probably it began to decay within the last half-century: this was a gift of cakes and ale to children on New Year's Day, who, like the Shrovers, went from house to house singing for them; but, if we may judge from the song, those children were for the most part from the towns and larger villages, as the p.249 / song begins, "A sale, a sale in our town;" there is no doubt but it was written for the occasion some centuries since, when "a sale" was not a thing of such a common occurrence as now, and when there was one, it was often held in an open field in or near the town." So writes my kind and valued correspondent, Captain Henry Smith, but town is, I think, merely a provincialism for village. It is so, at least, in the North of England. As for the phrase a seyal, it seems to be a corruption of wassail, the original sense having been lost. The following was the song:
A seyal, a seyal in our town,
The cup es white and the eal es brown;
The cup es meyad from the ashen tree,
And the eal es brew'd vrom the good barlie.
Chorus. Cake and eal, cake and eal,
A piece of cake and a cup of eal;
We zing merrily one and aal
For a piece of cake and a cup of eal.
Little maid, little maid, troll the pin,*
Lift up the latch and we'll aal vall in;†
Ghee us a cake and zum eal that es brown,
And we dont keer a vig vor the seyal in the town.
Chorus. W'ill zing merrily one and aal
Vor a cake and a cup of eal;
God be there and God be here,
We wish you aal a happy New Year.
The above was the original song, but within the last fifty or sixty years, as the custom began to fall off, the chorus or some other part was often omitted.

That is, turn the pin inside the door in order to raise the latch. In the old method of latching doors, there was a pin inside which was turned round to raise the latch. An old Isle of Wight song says,—
     Then John he arose,
     And to the door goes,
And he trolled, and he trolled at the pin,
     The lass she took the hint,
     And to the door she went,
And she let her true love in.
   † "Aal vall in," stand in rank to receive in turn the cake and ale.

p.250 /

Love, to thee I send these gloves,
              If you love me,
              Leave out the G,
And make a pair of loves!
It appears from Hall's Satires, 1598, that it was customary to make presents of gloves at Easter. In Much Ado About Nothing, the Count sends Hero a pair of perfumed gloves, and they seem to have been a common present between lovers. In Devonshire, the young women thus address the first young man they happen to meet on St. Valentine's day—
Good morrow, Valentine, I go to-day,
To wear for you what you must pay,
A pair of gloves next Easter-day.
      In Oxfordshire I have heard the following lines intended, I believe, for the same festival:
The rose is red, the violet's blue,
The gilly-flower sweet, and so are you;
These are the words you bade me say
For a pair of new gloves on Easter-day.

      Parties of young people, during Lent, go to the most noted farmhouses, and sing, in order to obtain a crock or cake, an old song beginning—
I see by the latch
There is something to catch;
I see by the string
The good dame's within;
Give a cake, for I've none;
At the door goes a stone.
Come give, and I'm gone.
      "If invited in," says Mrs. Bray, "a cake, a cup of p.251 / cider, and a health followed. If not invited in, the sport consisted in battering the house door with stones, because not open to hospitality. Then the assailant would run away, be followed and caught, and brought back again as prisoner, and had to undergo the punishment of roasting the shoe. This consisted in an old shoe being hung up before the fire, which the culprit was obliged to keep in a constant whirl, roasting himself as well as the shoe, till some damsel took compassion on him, and let him go; in this case he was to treat her with a little present at the next fair."

Care Sunday, care away,
Palm Sunday and Easter-day.
Care-Sunday is the Sabbath next before Palm Sunday, and the second before Easter. Etymologists differ respecting the origin of the term. It is also called Carling-Sunday, and hence the Nottinghamshire couplet:
Tid, Mid, Misera,
Carling, Palm, Paste-egg day.

      The custom of making fools on the 1st of April is one of the few old English merriments still in general vogue. We used to say on the occasion of having entrapped any one—
Fool, fool, April fool,
You learn nought by going to school!
The legitimate period only extends to noon, and if any one makes an April-fool after that hour, the boy on whom the attempt is made, retorts with the distich—
April-fool time's past and gone,
You're the fool, and I'm none!

p.252 /

Rise up, fair maidens, fie, for shame,
For I've been four lang miles from hame;
I've been gathering my garlands gay;
Rise up, fair maids, and take in your May.
This old Newcastle May-day song is given by Brockett, ii. 32. At Islip, near Oxford, the children go round the village on this day with garlands of flowers, singing—
Good morning, missus and measter,
     I wish you a happy day;
Please to smell my garland,
     'Cause it is the first of May.

Here's a health unto our maister,
     The founder of the feast,
And I hope to God wi' all my heart,
     His soul in heaven mid rest.

That everything mid prosper
     That ever he tiak in hand,
Vor we be all his sarvants,
     And all at his command.

These verses were sometimes said in proposing the health of the farmer at a harvest-home supper. Another version of them is given in Hone's Table Book, ii.334. When they have had a fortunate harvest, and the produce has been carried home without an accident, the following lines are sang at the harvest-home:
Harvest home, harvest home,
Ne'er a load's been overthrown.

Here's a health to the barley mow,
     Here's a health to the man,
     Who very well can
Both harrow, and plough, and sow.
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     When it is well sown,
     See it is well mown,
Both raked and gravell'd clean,
And a barn to lay it in:
     Here's a health to the man,
     Who very well can
Both thrash and fan it clean.

      "November 2nd is All Souls, a day instituted by the Church of Rome in commemoration of all the faithful departed this life, that by the prayers and suffrages of the living they may be discharged of their purging pain, and at last obtain life everlasting. To this purpose the day is kept holy till noon. Hence proceeds the custom of Soul-mass cakes, which are a kind of oat-cakes that some of the richer sort of persons in Lancashire and Herefordshire (among the Papists there) use still to give the poor on this day; and they, in retribution of their charity, hold themselves obliged to say this old couplet:
"God have your saul,
Beens and all."
Festa Anglo-Romana, 1678, p. 109.

The fifth of November,
Since I can remember,
     Gunpowder treason and plot:
This was the day the plot was contriv'd,
To blow up the King and Parliament alive;
But God's mercy did prevent
To save our King and his Parliament.
     A stick and a stake
     For King James's sake!
If you won't give me one,
     I'll take two,
The better for me,
     And the worse for you!

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      This is the Oxfordshire song chanted by the boys when collecting sticks for the bonfire, and it is considered quite lawful to appropriate any old wood they can lay their hands on after the recitation of these lines. If it happen that a crusty chuff prevents them, the threatening finale is too often fulfilled. The operation is called going a progging, but whether this is a mere corruption of prigging, or whether progging means collecting sticks (brog, Scot. Bor.), I am unable to decide. In some places they shout, previously to the burning of the effigy of Guy Fawkes—

A penn'orth of bread to feed the Pope,
     A penn'orth of cheese to choke him;
A pint of beer to wash it down,
     And a good old faggot to burn him.
The metropolis and its neighbourhood are still annually visited by subdued vestiges of the old customs of the bonfire-day. Numerous parties of boys parade the streets with effigies of Guy Fawkes, but pence not anti-popery, is the object of the exhibition, and the evening fires have generally been exchanged for the mischievous practice of annoying passengers with squibs and crackers. The spirit and necessity of the display have expired, and the lover of old customs had better be contented to hear of it in history; even although the special service for the day, still retained in our Prayer-book, may tend to recognise the propriety of external rejoicings.

                        —— laws for all faults,
But faults so countenanc'd, that the strong statutes
Stand like the forfeits in a barber's shop,
As much in mock as mark.
      Steevens and Henley, in their notes on Shakespeare, bear testimony to the fact that barbers were accustomed to expose in their shops a list of forfeits for misbe- p.255 / haviour, which were "as much in mock as mark," because the barber had no authority of himself to enforce them, and they were in some respects of a ludicrous nature. "Barbers' forfeits," says Forby, in his Vocabulary of East Anglia, p.119, "exist to this day in some, perhaps in many, village shops. They are penalties for handling the razors, &c., offences very likely to be committed by lounging clowns, waiting for their turn to be scraped on a Saturday night or Sunday morning. They are still, as of old, 'more in mock than mark.' Certainly more mischief might be done two hundred years ago, when the barber was also a surgeon."
      Dr. Kenrick* was the first to publish a copy of barbers' forfeits,

Review of Johnson's Shakespeare, 1765, p. 42.

and, as I do not observe it in any recent edition of Shakespeare, I here present the reader with the following homely verses obtained by the Doctor in Yorkshire:

Rules for seemly Behaviour.
First come, first serve—then come not late;
And when arrived, keep your state;
For he who from these rules shall swerve,
Must pay the forfeits—so observe.

Who enters here with boots and spurs,
Must keep his nook, for if he stirs,
And give with armed heel a kick,
A pint he pays for ev'ry prick.

Who rudely takes another's turn,
A forfeit mug may manners learn.

Who reverentless shall swear or curse,
Must lug seven farthings from his purse.

Who checks the barber in his tale,
Must pay for each a pot of ale.

Who will or cannot miss his hat
While trimming, pays a pint for that.

p.256 /
And he who can or will not pay,
Shall hence be sent half-trimm'd away,
For will he nill he, if in fault
He forfeit must in meal or malt,
But mark, who is alreads in drink,
The cannikin must never clink!
      It is not improbable that these lines had been partly modernized from an older original before they reached Dr. Kenrick, but Steevens was certainly too precipitate in pronouncing them to be forgeries. Their authenticity is placed beyond a doubt by the testimony of my late friend, Major Moor, who, in his Suffolk Words, p. 133, informs us that he had seen a version of these rules at the tonsor's, of Alderton, near the sea.

My granny is sick, and now is dead,*
And we'll go mould some cockle-bread;
Up with my heels and down with my head,
And this is the way to mould cockle-bread.
Another version says, "and I wish she was dead, that I may go mould," &c., which, if correct, may be supposed to mean, "My granny is ill, and I wish she was dead, that I may use a charm for obtaining a husband."

A very old practice of young women, moving as if they were kneading dough, and repeating the above lines, which are sometimes varied thus:
Cockeldy bread, mistley cake,
When you do that for our sake.

      The entire explanation of this, which is not worth giving here, may be seen in Thoms's Anecdotes and Traditions, p. 95. An allusion to cockle-bread occurs as early as 1595, in Peele's singular play of the Old Wives Tale.

p.257 /

A pie sat on a pear tree,
A pie sat on a pear tree,
A pie sat on a pear tree,
Heigh ho! heigh ho! heigh ho!
These lines are sung by a person at the table after dinner. His next neighbour then sings "Once so merrily hopped she," during which the first singer is obliged to drink a bumper; and should he be unable to empty his glass before the last line is sung, he must begin again till he succeeds. The next line is "Twice so merrily hopped she," sung by the next person under a similar arrangement, and so on; beginning again after "Thrice as merrily hopped she, heigh ho! heigh ho! heigh ho!" till the ceremony has been repeated around the table. It is to be hoped so absurd a practice is not now in fashion.

      When a boy finds anything, and another sees him stoop for it, if the latter cries halves before he has picked it up, he is, by schoolboy law, entitled to half of it. This right may, however, be negatived, if the finger cries out first—

Ricket, racket, find it, tack it,
And niver give it to the aunder.
Or, sometimes the following:
No halfers,
Findee, keepee;
Lossee, seekee.
      Boys leaving the schoolroom are accustomed to shout—
Those that go my way, butter and eggs,
Those that go your way chop off their legs.
A sort of persuasive inducement, I suppose, for them to follow the speaker for the sake of forming a party for a game.