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In the Praise of Musicke, by Dr. Case, 1586, the author says: “ I wil end with death, the end of all mortality, which, though it be the dissolution of nature and parting of the soul from the body, terrible in itself to flesh and blood, and amplified with a number of displeasant and uncomfortable accidents, as the shaving of the head, howling, mourning apparel, funeral boughes of yew, box, cipresse, and the like, yet we shal find, by resorting to antiquities, that musick hath had a share amongst them, as being unseasonable at no time.”
Barnaby Rich, in his Irish Hubbub, 1619, p. 2, tells us : “ Stanhurst, in his History of Ireland, maketh this report of his countreymen : they follow the dead corpse to the ground with howling, and barbarous outcries, pitifull in appearance, whereof (as he supposeth) grew this proverb, “to weep Irish.' Myselfe am partly of his opinion, that (indeede) to weepe Irish is to weep at pleasure, without either cause or greete, when it is an usuall matter amongst them, upon the buriall of their dead, to hire a company of women, that for some small recompence given them, they will follow the corpse, and furnish out the cry with such howling and barbarous outcries, that hee that should but heare them, and did not know the ceremony, would rather thinke they did sing than weep. And yet in Dublin itselfe there is not a corpse carried to the buriall which is not followed with this kinde of mourners, which you shall heare by their howling and their hollowing,
1 The author of the Survey of the South of Ireland, pp. 206, 209, tells us : " It is the custom of this country to conduct their dead to the grave in all the parade they can display; and as they pass through any town, or meet any remarkable person, they set up their howl. The conclamatio among the Romans coincides with the Irish cry. The Mulieres præficæ' exactly correspond with the women who lead the Irish band, and who make an outcry too outrageous for real grief.
• Ut qui conducti plorant in funere, dicunt
Et faciunt prope plura dolentibus ex animo.'” That this custom was Phænician we may learn from Virgil, who was very correct in the costume of his characters. The conclamatio over the Phænician Dido, as described by him, is similar to the Irish cry:
“Lamentis gemituque et fæmino ululatu
Tecta fremunt." The very word “ululatus,” or “hulluloo," and the Greek word of the same import, have all a strong affinity to each other.
but never see them to shed any tears." “Such a kinde of lamentation,” he adds, it is, “as in the judgement of any man that should but heare, and did not know their custome, would think it to bee some prodigious presagement, prognosticating some unlucky or ill successe, as they use to attribute to the howling of doggs, to the croaking of ravens, and the shrieking of owles, fitter for infidels and barbarians than to bee in use and custome among Christians.”
The author of the Comical Pilgrim's Pilgrimage into Ireland, 1723, p. 92, says: “As soon as Death brings his last summons to any one, the wild Irish (both men, women, and children, go before the corpse, and from his or her house to the church yard, set up a most hideous holoo, loo, loo, which may be heard two or three miles round the country.” This custom is also alluded to in King's Art of Cookery, Works, 1776, üi. 87:
“So at an Irish funeral appears
A train of drabs with mercenary tears ;
And love unfeign'd with inward passion bleeds."
“ Meanwhile the rout to work do fall,
To celebrate the funeral.
For greater state his highnes hires." In Dutton's Statistical Survey of the County of Clare, 1808, p. 364, speaking of persons who attended wakes, he says: “ And when they first enter the house, they set up the most hideous but dry-ey'd yell, called the Irish cry : this, however,
lasts but a short time.” The following is from an ingenious paper in the World, No. 24 (written, I believe, by Lord Chesterfield): “When the lower sort of Irish, in the more uncivilized parts of Ireland, attend the funeral of a deceased friend or neighbour, before they give the last parting howl, they expostulate with the dead body, and reproach him with having died, notwithstanding that he had an excellent wife, a milch cow, seven fine children, and a competency of potatoes.”
On the subject of the Irish howl, in Sir H. Piers's Description of West Meath, 1682, in Vallancey, i. 124, we read : “ In Ireland at funerals they have their wakes, which, as now, they celebrate, were more befitting Heathens than Christians. They sit up commonly in a barn or large room, and are entertained with beer and tobacco. The lights are set up on a table over the dead; they spend most of the night in obscene stories and bawdye songs, until the hour comes for the exercise of their devotions; then the priest calls on them to fall to their prayers for the soul of the dead, which they perform by repetition of aves and paters on their beads, and close the whole with a ‘De Profundis,' and then immediately to the story or song again, till another hour of prayer comes. Thus is the whole night spent till day. When the time of burial comes, all the women run out like mad, and now the scene is altered, nothing heard but wretched exclamations, howling, and clapping of hands, enough to destroy their own and others' sense of hearing: and this was of old the heathenish custom, as the poet hath observed, as translated by Dryden:
• The gaping croud around the body stand,
veep ........... his fate,
And hasten to perform the fun’ral state.' “This they fail not to do, especially if the deceased were of good parentage, or of wealth and repute, or a landlord, &c., and think it a great honour to the dead to keep all this coyl, and some have been so vain as to hire these kind of mourners to attend their dead; and yet they do not by all this attain the end they seem to aim at, which is to be thought to mourn for the dead ; for the poet hath well observed,
“The truly griev'd in secret weep.' “At some stages, where commonly they meet with great heaps of stones in the way, the corpse is laid down, and the
priest or priests and all the learned fall again to their ares and paters, &c. During this office all is quiet and hushed. But this done, the corpse is raised, and with it the outcry again. But that done, and while the corpse is laying down and the earth throwing on, is the last and most vehement scene of this formal grief; and all this perhaps but to earn a groat, and from this Egyptian custom they are not to be weaned. In some parts of Connaught, if the party deceased were of good note, they will send to the wake hogsheads of excellent stale beer and wine from all parts, with other provisions, as beef, &c., to help the expense at the funeral, and oftentimes more is sent in than can well be spent.”
Gough, in his Sepulchral Monuments, ii. Introd. 7, in a note, says : “ The women of Picardy have a custom of calling the deceased by his name, as he is carried to the grave. (Incert. des Signes de la Mort, p. 180.) So do the Indians, and expostulate with him for dying. Xaipe was a common and affecting parting exclamation at the grave.”
Howling at funerals appears to have been of general use in the Papal times from the following passage in Vernon's Hunting of Purgatory to Death, 1561, f. 37, where, speaking of St. Chrysostom, he says: “No mention at al doth he make of that manner of singinge or rather unseemely howling that your Papists use for the salvation of theyr dead, therby, under a pretence of godlinesse, picking the purses of the pore simple and ignorant people.” Anthony Stafford, in his Meditations and Resolutions, 1612, p. 16, says: “It is a wonder to see the childish whining we now-adayes use at the funeralls of our friends. If we could houl them back againe, our lamentations were to some purpose; but as they are, they are vaine, and in vain." In Whimzies, or a New Cast of Characters, 1631, p. 207, speaking of the death of “a zealous brother," the author says: “Some mourners hee hath of his owne, who howle not so much that hee should leave them, as that nothing is left them.”
In the Statistical Account of Scotland, xv. 636, Parish of Avoch, Ross-shire, we read : “At common funerals, in this district, the corpse is preceded by the parish officer tolling a hand-bell. The pail or mort-cloth is of plain black velvet, without any decoration, except a fringe. An immense crowd of both sexes attend; and the lamentations of the women, in
some cases, on seeing a beloved relative put into the grave, would almost pierce a heart of stone."
Park, in his Travels in the Interior of Africa, tells, that among the Moors, April 3, a child died in one of the tents, « and the mother and the relations immediately began the death-howl. They were joined by a number of female visitors, who came on purpose to assist at this melancholy concert. I had no opportunity of seeing the burial, which is generally performed secretly in the dusk of the evening, and frequently at only a few yards distance from the tent. Over the grave they plant one particular shrub; and no stranger is allowed to pluck a leaf, or even to touch it.” Speaking elsewhere of the Negroes, he says: “When a person of consequence dies, the relations and neighbours meet together and manifest their sorrow by loud howlings.”
In Dudley Lord North’s Forest of Varieties, 1645, at p. 80, is preserved the following Requiem at the Entertuinment of Lady Rich, who died August 24th, 1638:
“ Whoe'er you are, patron subordinate,
Unto this house of prayer, and doe extend
Your eare and care to what we pray and lend;
To this once powerful, now potential dust,
Concredited to your fraternal trust,
Wert happy guardian to so faire a charge,
O leave not now part of thy care at large,
And though you all confound, and she convert,
Favour this relique of divine desert,
Saint, church, earth, angel, time, prove truly kind
As she to you, to this bequest consign'd.”. In Batt upon Batt, a Poem on the Parts, Patience, and Pains of Barth. Kempster, already quoted more than once, we find a notice of what is called stirrup verse at the grave, p. 12:
“ Must Megg, the wife of Batt, aged eightie,