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and disposed of their little freehold to Farmer Fletcher ; but in what quarter of the world they afterwards resided, we have not been able hitherto to collect any information that may be depended upon. Rumour does say that he assisted in the management of a small country paper; and that the publisher was served with three notices of trial for libels within a month, which is not at all unlikely if the Saint was once intrusted to pen a paragraph. Still there is not half the fun going on in Skellingthorpe, which there was in Saint Saxby's days; his very abuse served to amuse many, and the discoveries which he was ever making were generally fraught with matter of merriment; and though a few, who merited the abuse he was wont to shower upon them, were almost to dance with joy, yet there were others who sorely missed Saint Saxby in Skelling "pe.
“ Wash, dress, be brief in praying,
Made green and trimmed with trees: see how
When the Puritans preached against long love-locks and May-poles as a sin, and the old-fashioned May games were, in a great measure, put down by law, and Oliver Cromwell had it all his own way, and the roystering Royalists were compelled to be as mute as mice, a great change was
wrought in the ancient merry-makings and picturesque festivals, which time-out-of-mind had been celebrated in rural England. Nor was it until after the Restoration that the country began to assume its old cheerful look; though, Heaven knows! it had not much occasion, for what good Charles the Second ever did for his subjects; a merry monarch he might be, but it was far from being a merry England over which he reigned. It was at this time no doubt that a new holiday commenced, when the Twentyninth of May, or Oak-apple Day," was, in some measure, instituted for the ancient May-day: partly to commemorate the Restoration, and also to recall the king's escape from Noll's iron sides, when he hid himself in an oak: for which brave act he is still immortalised on many an ale-house sign, where sometimes he is made to peep out like an owl from an ivy-tod. In my own native town, in Lincolnshire, some years ago, the Twenty-ninth of May was a great holiday, at least amongst us boys; and it was a custom with us to go to the neighbouring woods—often before it was day. light-and fetch home large branches of oak and hawthorn, with which the streets were decorated. Many of the boughs we brought home were of an enormous size,- so large that it took the whole strength of five or six of us to drag one of them along with a rope, which process of removal gave any thing but an additional beauty to the foliage. Dreadful was the havoc we made amongst the oaks, for we were not particular about bringing away a young tree whole, provided it was plentifully covered with leaves. This was very wrong; for the woods were then free and open to us, and we wandered where we chose; and even if a keeper appeared, he rarely did more than warn us not to injure the young trees. Many a bough have we sawn off or chopped down, which we
were afterwards unable to remove on account of its great weight, as the old faggot gatherer said, it was always good “gleaning" after “Oak-apple Day."
What a grave satire was our game of hiding in the oak when we reached the wood !—The representative of a king pelted with oak-apples and rotten sticks until he came down,- for such was the rule of the game, when once the monarch's hiding-place was discovered; and sometimes the modern Charles, if he were big enough, would punish the little Cromwell (who had been too fortunate in his aim) when he alighted, and, with divers punches, show that he could play well his kingly part. Nor did our court lack its accompaniment of beauties: romping, red-cheeked, mischiefloving girls, who cared no more about tearing their frocks than we did our jackets; for their mothers before them had gone out in the early morning a-Maying, and why should not they? We decorated their bonnets with oakleaves, and wreathed our own hats with as much care as an ancient Druid would have done his own brows. We had our music, too,-bullocks' horns, with the tips cut off, through which we blew until we were black in the face. A score of bulls could not have outroared us with their bellowing. Many a curse did we get, no doubt, from some crusty tempered old fellow whom we awoke out of a sound sleep, as we passed along the streets; while the kinder-hearted would sigh, and recall the days when they also went a-Maying
To me there seems, even now, something beautiful and poetical in this old custom-a last link left in the golden chain of sweet associations,—the memory of age looking down the dim vista of years, and with a fond, though dim eye, attempting to pick out some half-distinguished object
which revives the recollections of departed youth. The grey dawn of morning—the untrodden dew that hung heavy upon the grass—the silence of the fields—the old wood, with all its giant trees hushed in sleep—the first singing of the birds as they awoke-and the slow rising of the glorious sun,-all seem to heave up like a grand picture fresh from the hand of Nature, and presenting such features as we never again see.
Was it a love of the beautiful which drew us forth so early, while scores of our companions remained behind asleep; or is there not something lovable about these old customs, breathing, as it were, sweet airs from the green still world, and tinged with a quiet, pastoral look, recalling images of poetry-scenes which still live in Chaucer, and Spenser, and Herricktelling us that the dim woods were the places chosen by our ancestors for their merry-makings; that the queen of beauty in those days had a flowery bank for her throne, the music of birds and the murmuring of waters for her concert, while liberty roamed everywhere unfettered ? To bring back the green of old forests into the streets of a town; to toil, and moil, and chop, and saw, and then drag the heavy branches home, that we might place them over our doors and windows; to look at them with pride, and feel that it was no common day; to wander here and there in groups, and envy the possessor of the largest bough, was surely to evince a devotion becoming the spirit of ancient Britons, to say the least of it? And, oh! poor Antiquity! how grotesque is thy appearance when placed side by side with Truth, to proclaim that our rude forefathers, who battled foot to foot with the refined Romans, were worshippers of oak trees! Did a party of youthful Britons never invade the sanctity of the ancient groves, and meet with a