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Queen. Sweets to the sweet: Farewell!

(Scaltering Flowers.)
I hop'd thou should'st have been my Hamlet's wise;
I thought thy bride-bed to have dech'd, sweet maid,
And not have strew'd thy grave.”

Act v, sc. ). It was considered, likewise, as a duty incumbent on the survivors, annually to plant shrubs and flowers upon, and to tend and keep neat, the turf which covered the remains of their beloved friends ; in accordance with this usage, Mariana is drawn in Pericles decorating the tomb of her nurse :

“I will rob Tellus of her weed,
To strew thy green with flowers: the yellows, blues,
The purple violets, and marigolds,
Sball, as a chaplet, hang upon thy grave,
While summer days do last : ”

Act iv, sc. 1. and Arviragus, in Cymbeline, pathetically exclaims,

“ With fairest flowers,
Whilst summer lasts, and I live here, Fidele,
I'll sweeten thy sad grave: Thou shalt not lack
The flower, that's like thy face, pale primrose; nor
The azur'd hare-bell, like thy veins; no, nor
The leaf of eglantine, whom not to slander,
Out-sweeten'd not thy breath."*

Act iv, sc. 2. The only relic which yet exists in this country of a custom so interesting, is to be found in the practice of protecting the hallowed mound by twigs of osier, an attention to the mansions of the dead, which is still observable in most of the country-church-yards in the south of England.

We have thus advanced in pursuit of our object, namely, “ A Survey of Country Life during the Age of Shakspeare," as far as a sketch of its manner and customs, resulting from a brief description of rural characters, holidays, and festivals, wakes, fairs, weddings, and burials, will carry us; and we shall now proceed with the picture, by adding some account of those diversions of our ancestors which could not with propriety find a place under any of the topics that have been hitherto noticed; endeavouring in our progress to render the great dramatic bard the chief illustrator of his own times.


In Mr. Malkin's notes on Mason's Elegy, we have the following elegant and pleasing description of this pathetic custom, as it still exists in Wales : --" It is a very ancient and general practice in Glamorgan,” he remarks,“ to plant flowers on the graves, so that many Church-yards have something like the splendour of a rich and various parterre. Besides this it is usual to strew the graves with flowers and ever-greens, within the Church as well as out of it, thrice at least every year, on the same principle of delicate respeci as the stones are whitened.

." No flowers or ever-greens are permitted to be planted on graves but such as are sweet-scented: the pink and polyanthus, sweet williams, gillifowers, and carnations, mignionette, thyme, hyssop, camomile, rosemary, make up the pious decoration of this consecrated garden.

“The white rose is always planted on a virgin's tomb. The red rose is appropriated to the grave of any person distinguished for goodness, and especially benevolence of character.

* In the Easter week most generally the graves are newly dressed, and manured with fresh earth, when such flowers or ever-greens as may be wanted or wished for are planted. In the Whitsuntide Holidays, or rather the preceding week, the graves are again looked after, weeded, and otherwise dressed, or, if necessary, planted again. This work the nearest relations of the deceased always do with their own hands, and never hy servants or hired persons.

“When a young couple are to be married, their ways to the Church are strewed with sweet-scented flowers and ever-greens. When a young unmarried person dies, his or her ways to the grave are also strewed with sweet flowers and ever-greens; and on such occasions it is the usual phrase, that those persons are going to their nuptial beds, not to their graves.- None ever molest the flowers that grow on graves; for it is deemed a kind of sacrilege to do so. Å relation or friend will occasionally take a pink, if it can be spared, or a sprig of thyme, from the grave of a beloved or respected person, to wear it in remembrance; but they never take much, lest they should deface the growth on the grave.

“These elegant and highly pathetic customs of South Wales make the best impression on the mind. What can be more affecting than to see all the youth of both sexes in a village, and in every village through which the corpse passes, dressed in their best apparel, and strewing with sweet-scented lowers the ways along which one of their beloved neighbours goes to his or her marriage-bed."

Malkin's Scenery, Antiquities, and Biography of South Wales. 4to. 1804. p. 606.


View of Country Life during the Age of Shakspeare continued-Diversions.

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The attempt to describe all the numerous rural diversions which were prevalent during the age of Shakspeare, would be, in the highest degree, superfluous; for the greatest part of them, it is evident, must remain, with such slight or gradual modification as to require but little notice. It will be, therefore, our endeavour, in the course of this chapter, after giving a catalogue of the principal country diversions of the era in question, to dwell only upon those which have subsequently undergone such alterations as to render their former state an object of novelty and curiosity.

This catalogue may be taken, with tolerable accuracy, from Randal Holme of Chester, and from Robert Burton ; the former enumerating the games and diversions of the sixteenth century, and the latter those of the prior part of the seventeenth, If to these we add the notices to be drawn from Shakspeare, the sketch will, there is reason to suppose, prove sufficiently extensive.

In the list of Randal Holme will be found the names of some juvenile sports, which are now perhaps no longer explicable ; this poetical antiquary, however, shall speak for himself.

- They dare challenge for to throw the sledge;
To jumpe or lepe over ditch or hedge;
To wrastle, play at stool-balle, or to runne;
To pitch the barre or to shote ofle the gunne ;
To play at loggets, nineholes, or ten pinnes;
To trye it out at fote balle by the shinnes;
At ticke tacke, seize noddy, maw, or ruffe ;
Hot-cockles, leape froggé, or blindman's buffe ;
To drinke the halfer pottes, or deale at the whole canne;
To playe at chesse, or pue, and inke-horénne;
To daunce the morris, playe at barley breake;
At alle exploytes a man can thinke or speake;
At shove-grote, 'venter poynte, at crosse and pyle;
At“ Beshrewe him that's last at any style; ”
At lepynge over a Christmas bon fyer,
Or at the “ drawynge dame owte o' the myre ;”
At“ Shoote cock, Gregory," stoole-ball, and what not;

Picke-poynt, top, and scourge to make him hot.”* Burton, after mentioning Hawking, Hunting, Fowling, and Fishing, says, “ many other sports and recreations there be, much in use, as ringing, bowling, shooting, (with the bow), keelpins, tronks, coits, pitching bars, hurling, wrestling, leaping, running, fencing, mustring, swimming, wasters, foiles, foot-ball, balown, quintan, etc., and many such which are the common recreations of the Country folks." +

He subsequently adds bull and bear baiting as common to both countrymen and † citizens, and then subjoins to the list of rural amusements, dancing, singing, masking, mumming, and stage-players. S For the ordinary recreations of winter, as well in the country as in town, he recommends “cards, tables and dice, shovelboord, chess-play, the philosopher's game, small trunks, shuttle-cock, billiards, musick, masks, singing, dancing, ule games, frolicks, jests, riddles, catches, purposes, questions and commands, and merry tales." **

From this statement it will immediately appear, that many of the rural diver

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* MS, Harl. Libr., No. 2057, apud Strutt's Customs, &c.
† Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, 8th edit. fol. 1676. p. 169, 170.
Ibid p. 172.

$ lbid.



Ibid. p. 172.

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