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Cleveland, might jest at Cromwell's “ holding his neck awry when he maketh speeches, and cocking up his ear as if he expected Mahomet's pigeon to come and prompt him," comparing his nose to the “ Dominical letter," and little dreaming that he whom they said “whistled to his Cambridge team,” would so soon drive him into the bog, which, for hundreds of years afterwards, was to be immortalised by his own name. A colonel whom they said " beat up
his drums clean through the Old Testament, in whose regiment you might learn the genealogy of our Saviour from their names, and whose muster-roll included the whole list in the first chapter of Matthew." Little did they deem that the man whom they thus sneered at held in his hand the future destinies of England, and was one day to look proudly down from the ancient throne of a long line of kings; and even the witty Cleveland, who thus jeered at both his personal appearance and the muster roll of his soldiers, was compelled, on a future day, to commence his letter from prison, with the proud title, which it must have half choked a royalist to have uttered, of—“May it please your Highness. I beseech your Highness to put some bounds to the overthrow, and do not pursue the chase to the other world. Can your thunder be levelled so low as our grovelling condition? Can your towering spirit, which hath quarried upon kingdoms, make a stoop at us who are the rubbish of these ruins ? Methinks I hear your former achievements interceding with you not to sully your glories with trampling upon the prostrate, nor clog the wheel of your chariot with so degenerate a triumph. The most renowned heroes have ever with such tenderness cherished their captives, that their swords did but cut out work for their courtesies. Those that fell by their prowess, sprung
by their favour, as if they had struck them down only to make them rebound the higher.” Strange times and strange changes were these, and such was the strain in which the Protector was addressed from the prison of Yarmouth by John Cleveland, the soldier, the wit, and the poet; a writer whose works abound with so many beauties, that they half counterbalance the numerous specks which blot the sunny literature of that period.
Although we may admire the old May games, the rough and boisterous buffoonery of the ancient Christmas revels, and all the light-hearted tomfoolery which contributed to make the “ merry England” we read of, still, we much question if the same amusements, which gave such gratification to our simple forefathers, would not, if now repeated, pall and dissatisfy the more refined taste of the present age. We fancy we should soon grow weary of watching the foolish curvetings of a stupid clown and hobby-horse; find but little pleasure in hearing some strong-voiced fellow halloing from out the throat of a pasteboard dragon; that the rude antics of Maid Marian, and the coarse jests of Friar Tuck would hardly be tolerated in a decent household; nor could we get up those uproarious bursts of laughter which these spectacles were greeted with by our ancestors. The holidays of England will never be again what they once were. They were adapted for a rude age and a rude race :—the barbarous relics of the past, worn by a pastoral people, who unaware were progressing towards a more refined and poetical age. We look upon them as manners and customs now obsolete ; as things pretty enough to gaze upon in a picture where the obstreperous uproar is silent, and we see but the quaint costume and odd antics of the actors; the eye pleased, and the ear
unoffended. We retain, and improve upon the music, the singing, and the dancing of their merry-makings: the sunshine, the scenery, and the flowers we still worship; but their maskings and their mummerings we leave to sleep in oblivion. We are still worshippers at the same shrine, though we have hurled down the idols that disfigured the fair temple of Nature.
To a thinking man, the great change which has taken place in our holiday amusements are easily accounted for ; place them side by side with the progress made in other matters, and there is nothing left for wonderment. The drama alone appears to have degenerated, as music lectures and literary associations have increased. Zoological and botanical gardens and museums, such as we have now, were unknown to our forefathers; yet amid so much light and knowledge, Tom Thumb has still his admirers, neither are the Giant or Fat Boy entirely neglected.
Nature will ever have her worshippers, while Spring putteth forth her flowers, and Summer clotheth the woods in her heart-cheering livery of green. Old manners and rude customs will only be remembered by the pages of the historian and the poet, to be pored over and pondered upon, as we now gaze upon those rare fossil remains, in which we trace the links of an old and forgotten age. The Twenty-ninth of May, the Restoration of King Charles the Second, his hiding in the oak, and the holidays that celebrated such events, are minor matters of history, when compared to the mighty convulsions which preceded them. There are but few places where “ Oak-apple Day” is kept as an holiday now, every few years will see the number less, and by-and-by the very name of it will be forgotten. It might be, that, in such localities as we have described,
where the weight of Cromwell's arm was long felt after the blow had been struck; where his men had been quartered, and he in person had been heard to command, while men trembled and obeyed him; that a few of the old families who had fled the neighbourhood, would, on their return at the Restoration, endeavour to keep alive the remembrance of an event which again replaced them in their old ancestral halls: and that only in places thus restored to their ancient occupants, would be celebrated the Twenty-ninth of May.
“Ah! could we but know all
THERE is an old moated manor house still standing at the head of a long straggling village, which we shall call Morton, as we wish not the locality to be known. A wide marsh spreads for miles beside the hamlet; and, saving the wooden fence which runs along the low sandy highroad, this vast arena of rich grazing land is unmarked by any