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marked.” For an account of this book see Gough’s British Topography, ii. 568.
Gough, in the Introduction to the second volume of his Sepulchral Monuments, p. 204, says: “It is the custom at. this day all over Wales to strew the graves, both within and without the church, with green herbs, branches of box, flowers, rushes, and flags, for one year; after which, such as can afford it lay down a stone. Mr. Grose calls this a filthy custom, because he happened to see some of the flowers dead and turned to dung, and some bones and bits of coffins scattered about in Ewenny church, Glamorganshire. The common Welsh graves are curiously matted round with single or double matting, and stuck with flowers, box, or laurel, which are frequently renewed.” Pepys, in his Memoirs, i. 139, mentions a churchyard near Southampton, where, in the year 1662, the graves were “accustomed to be all sowed with sage.”
In the Statistical Account of Scotland, xiv. 210, parishes of Kilfinichen and Kilviceven, co. Argyll, we read : The inhabitants “are by no means superstitious, yet they still retain some opinions handed down by their ancestors, perhaps from the time of the Druids. It is believed by them that the spirit of the last person that was buried watches round the churchyard till another is buried, to whom he delivers his charge.” In the same work, xxi. 144, it is said: “In one division of this county, where it was believed that the ghost of the person last buried kept the gate of the churchyard till relieved by the next victim of death, a singular scene occurred when two burials were to take place in one churchyard on the same day. Both parties staggered forward as fast as possible, to consign their respective friend in the first place to the dust. If they met at the gate, the dead were thrown down till the living decided by blows whose ghost should be condemned to porter it.”
1 The following is an extract from the old Register-book of Christ Church, in Hampshire: “ April 14, 1604. Christian Steevens, the wife of Thomas Steevens, was buried in child-birth, and buried by women, for she was a Papishe.” Warner's Topographical Remarks relating to the South-Western Parts of Hampshire, ii. 130.
BEES INFORMED OF DEATHS.
[SOME years since, observes a correspondent of the Athenæum, a gentleman at a dinner-table happened to mention that he was surprised, on the death of a relative, by his servant in. quiring “whether his master would inform the bees of tbe event, or whether he should do so.” On asking the meaning of so strange a question, the servant assured him that bees ought always to be informed of a death in a family, or they would resent the neglect by deserting the hive. This gentleman resides in the Isle of Ely, and the anecdote was told in Suffolk ; and one of the party present, a few days afterwards, took the opportunity of testing the prevalence of this strange notion, by inquiring of a cottager who had lately lost a relative, and happened to complain of the loss of her bees, “whether she had told them all she ought to do?” She immediately replied, “Oh, yes; when my aunt died I told every skep (i. e. hive) myself, and put them into mourning.” I have since ascertained the existence of the same superstition in Cornwall, Devonshire, Gloucestershire, (where I have seen black crape put round the hive, or on a small stick by its side,) and Yorkshire. It probably exists in every part of the kingdom. I should be glad to ascertain whether it prevails in Wales; though, from its being known in Cornwall, I have little doubt that its origin is earlier than the Saxon invasion, and perhaps is known on the continent of Europe. The mode of communication is by whispering the fact to each hive separately. There are many other singular notions afloat as to these insects. In Oxfordshire I was told that if man and wife quarrelled, the bees would leave them.]
In the Living Librarie, Englished by John Molle, 1621, p. 283, we read : “ Who would beleeve without superstition, (if experience did not make it credible,) that most commonly all the bees die in their hives, if the master or mistresse of the house chance to die, except the hives be presently removed into some other place? And yet I know this hath hapned to folke no way stained with superstition.” A vulgar prejudice prevails in many places of England, that, when bees remove or go away from their hives, the owner of them will die soon after.
A clergyman in Devonshire informed me that, when any
Devonian makes a purchase of bees, the payment is never made in money, but in things (corn for instance) to the value of the sum agreed upon; and the bees are never removed but on a Good Friday,
I found the following in the Argus, a London newspaper, Sept. 13, 1790: “A superstitious custom prevails at every funeral in Devonshire, of turning round the bee-hives that belonged to the deceased, if he had any, and that at the moment the corpse is carrying out of the house. At a funeral some time since, at Collumpton, of a rich old farmer, a laughable circumstance of this sort occurred : for, just as the corpse was placed in the hearse, and the horsemen, to a large number, were drawn up in order for the procession of the funeral, a person called out, Turn the bees,' when a servant who had no knowledge of such a custom, instead of turning the hives about, lifted them up, and then laid them down on their sides. The bees, thus hastily invaded, instantly attacked and fastened on the horses and their riders. It was in vain they galloped off, the bees as precipitately followed, and left their stings as marks of their indignation. A general confusion took place, attended with loss of hats, wigs, &c., and the corpse during the conflict was left unattended; nor was it till after a considerable time that the funeral attendants could be rallied, in order to proceed to the interment of their deceased friend.”
Sampson, in his Statistical Survey of the County of Londonderry, 1802, p. 436, says, that there “ bees must not be given away, but sold; otherwise neither the giver nor the taker will have luck.”
GRAVESTONES. The custom of laying flat stones in our churches and churchyards over the graves of better sort of persons, on which are inscribed epitaphs containing the name, age, character, &c. of the deceased, has been transmitted from very ancient times, as appears from the writings of Cicero and others.
i Cicero de Legibus, xi. “Lapidea mensa terra operitur humato corpore hominis qui aliquo sit numero, que contineat laudem et nomen mortui incisum. Mos retinetur."--Moresini Papatus, p. 86.
In Malkin's Scenery, Antiquities, and Biography of South Wales, 1804, p. 604, under Glamorganshire, in Mr. Mason's Elegy written in Neath churchyard, we read :
“ And round that fane the sons of toil repose,
Who drove the ploughshare, or the sail who spread,
Two whiten'd stones well mark the feet and head." Explained, p. 605: “ The stones at each end of the grave are whitened with lime every Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide."
GARLANDS IN COUNTRY CHURCHES,
AND STREWING FLOWERS ON THE GRAVES. In Yorkshire, as a clergyman of that county informed me, when a virgin dies in a village, one, nearest to her in size and age and resemblance, carries the garland before the corpse in the funeral procession, which is afterwards hung up in the church. This is sometimes composed entirely of white paper, and at others, the flowers, &c. (cut out upon it), are coloured. There appeared in the London Morning Chronicle for Sept. 25th, 1792, an elegiac ode from the elegant pen of Miss Seward, wherein, speaking of the village of Eyam, in Derbyshire, this passage occurs :
“ Now the low beams with paper garlands hung,
In memory of some village youth or maid,
How oft my childhood marked that tribute paid !
Simple memorial of the early dead !” The following note is subjoined: “The ancient custom of hanging a garland of white roses made of writing paper, and a pair of white gloves, over the pew of the unmarried villagers who die in the flower of their age, prevails to this day in the village of Eyam, and in most other villages and little towns in the Peak.”] Nichols, in his History of Lancashire, i.
i Coles, in his Introduction to the Knowledge of Plants (probably speaking of the metropolis only), p. 64, says: “It is not very long since the custome of setting up garlands in churches hath been left off with us."
pt. i. p. 382, speaking of Waltham, in Framland hundred, says: “In this church, under every arch, a garland is suspended; one of which is customarily placed there whenever any young unmarried woman dies.” From the minute-book of the Society of Antiquaries it appears that on June 4th, 1747, a letter was read by the secretary “from Mr. Edward Steel of Bromley, concerning the custom of burying the dead, especially bachelors and maidens, with garlands of flowers, &c., used formerly in several parts of this kingdom.”
It is still the custom in many country churches to hang a garland of flowers over the seats of deceased virgins, in token, says Bourne, of esteem and love, and as an emblem of their reward in the heavenly church. It was usual in the primitive Christian church to place crowns of flowers at the heads of deceased virgins ;' for this we have the authority of Damascen, Gregory Nyssen, St. Jerome, and St. Austin.
In the earliest ages of Christianity, virginity was honoured, out of deference most likely to the Virgin Mother, 2 with almost divine adoration, and there is little doubt but that the origin of nunneries is closely connected with that of the virgin garland. '
In North Wales," as Pennant's MS. informs us, “ when they bless another, they are very apt to join to the blessing of God, the blessing of white Mary.” In the Papal times in England, sometimes, the form of a last testament ran thus : “Commendo animam meam Deo, beatæ Mariæ, et omnibus Sanctis.”
I saw in the churches of Wolsingham and Stanhope, in the county of Durham, specimens of these garlands; the form of a woman's glove, cut in white paper, hung in the centre of each of them. Douce saw a similar instance in the church at Bolton in Craven, in 1783. At Skipton, too, the like custom still prevails. Dr. Lort made the following observation in
1 "Fuit quoque mos ad capita virginum apponendi forum coronas," &c. Cass. de Vet. Sac. Christi, p. 334.
2 “Some say no evil thing that walks by night,
In fog or fire, by lake or moorish fen,