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August, 1785: “At Grey's-Foot church, between Wrexham and Chester, were garlands, or rather shields, fixed against the pillars, finely decorated with artificial flowers and cut gilt paper.” In 1794, Sir H. Ellis saw garlands of white paper hanging up in a church, no farther from the metropolis than Paul's Cray, in Kent. The following occurs in Marston's play entitled the Dutch Courtezan: “I was afraid, i'faith, that I should ha seene a garland on this beauties herse.”
The author of the Comical Pilgrim's Pilgrimage into Ireland, 1723, p. 92, says: “When a virgin dies, a garland made of all sorts of flowers and sweet herbs, is carried by a young woman on her head, before the coffin, from which hang down two black ribbons, signifying our mortal state, and two white, as an emblem of purity and innocence. The ends thereof are held by four young maids, before whom a basket full of herbs and flowers is supported by two other maids, who strew them along the streets to the place of burial; then, after the deceased, follow all her relations and acquaintance." [So also in the old ballad :
“ But since I am resolved to die for my dear,
I'll chuse six young virgins my coffin to bear;
They may see I'm constant to my hearts delight."] The following is copied from the Argus, August 5, 1790: “Sunday being St. James's Day, the votaries of St. James's churchyard attended in considerable crowds at the shrines of their departed friends, and paid the usual tributary honours of paper gloves and garlands of flowers on their graves.”
There is a passage in Shakespeare's Hamlet, act v. sc. I: “Yet here she is allowed her virgin crants," which seems to have been misunderstood by some of the commentators. The editor of the first folio substitutes rites; and Bishop Warburton thought the true word was chants : but Dr. Johnson says: “I have been informed by an anonymous correspondent that crants is the German word for garlands, and I suppose it was retained by us from the Saxons. To carry garlands before the bier of a maided, and to hang them over her grave, is still the practice in rural parishes.”
A writer in the Antiquarian Repertory, iv. 239, says: “ That in this nation, as well as others, by the abundant zeal of our ancestors, virginity was held in great estimation : insomuch that those who died in that state were rewarded at their death with a garland or crown on their heads, denoting their triumphant victory over the lusts of the flesh. Nay, this honour was extended even to a widow who had never enjoyed but one husband. These garlands, or crowns, were most artificially wrought in filagree work, with gold and silver wire, in resemblance of myrtle, with which plant the funebrial garlands of the ancients were always composed, whose leaves were fastened to hoops of larger iron wire, and they were lined with cloth of silver. Besides these crowns the ancients had also their depository garlands, the use of which continued till of late years, and may perhaps still in some parts of England. These garlands at the funerals of the deceased were carried solemnly before the corpse by two maids, and afterwards hung up in some conspicuous place within the church, and were made in the following manner, viz. the lower rim or circlet was a broad hoop of wood, whereunto was fixed at the sides thereof part of two other hoops, crossing each other at the top at right angles, which formed the upper part, being about one third longer than the width. These hoops were wholly covered with artificial flowers of paper, dyed horn, and silk, and more or less beautiful according to the skill or ingenuity of the performer. In the vacancy of the inside from the top hung white paper cut in form of gloves, whereon was written the deceased's name, age, &c., together with long slips of various coloured paper or ribbons; these were many times intermixed with gilded or painted empty shells of blown eggs, as farther ornaments, or it may be as emblems of bub
1 “ KRANS, sertum. Isl. et Belg. id. Germ. krantz. Helvigius natum putat a kopwviç; alii a cranium ; Wachterus a C. B. crwnn, rotundus, quum circulari figura caput ambiat.” Ihre, Gloss. Suio-Goth. i. 1156.
? This perhaps explains the following passage in the Horn Exalted, or Room for Cuckolds, 1661, p. 10 : “ Our garlands in the winter, and at virgins' funerals, are they not made of horns ?” An Italian is speaking.
bles, or the bitterness of this life; while other garlands had only a solitary hour-glass hanging therein, as a more signifi. cant symbol of mortality.” These garlands are thus described by Gay:
“To her sweet mem'ry flow'ry garlands strung,
On her now empty seat aloft were hung." In a curious and very rare book entitled the Virgin's Pattern in the exemplary Life and lamented Death of Mrs. Susannah Perwich, who died at Hackney, July 3, 1661, we have the rites of a virgin lady's funeral minutely described, p. 40: “ The herse, covered with velvet, was carried by six servantmaidens of the family, all in white. The sheet was held up by six of those gentlewomen in the school that had most acquaintance with her, in mourning habit, with white scarfs and gloves. A rich costly garland of gum-work, adorned with banners and scutcheons, was borne immediately before the herse, by two proper young ladies that entirely loved her. Her father and mother, with other near relations and their children, followed next the herse in due order, all in mourning: the kindred next to them ; after whom came the whole school of gentlewomen, and then persons of chief rank from the neighbourhood and from the city of London, all in white glores, both men, women, children, and servants, having been first served with wine. The herse being set down (in Hackney church) with the garland upon it, the Rev. Dr. Spurstos preached her funeral sermon. This done, the rich coffin, anointed with sweet odours, was put down into the grave in the middle alley of the said church,” &c. Her father, it seems, kept a great boarding-school for young ladies at Hackney. In Articles of Enquiry for the Diocese of Ely, 1662, p. 7, I read as follows: "Are any garlands and other ordinary funeral ensigns suffered to hang where they hinder the prospect, or until they grow foul and dusty, withered and rotten ?"
Wax appears to have been used in the formation of these garlands, from the subsequent passage in a rare black-letter book, on the Distinction of Dreames, by Thomas Hill: “A garlande of waxe (to dream of) signifyeth evill to all personnes, but especiallye to the sicke, for as muche as it is commonlye occupyed aboute burialls.”
Gough, in the Introduction to his second volume of Sepulchral Monuments, p. 5, has the following passage : “ The
ancients used to crown the deceased with flowers, in token of the shortness of life; and the practice is still retained in some places in regard to young women and children. The Roman ritual recommends it in regard of those who die soon after baptism,' in token of purity and virginity. It still obtains in Holland and parts of Germany. The primitive Christians buried young women with flowers, and martyrs with the instruments of their martyrdom. I have seen fresh flowers put into the coffins of children and young girls.”
The custom of strewing flowers upon the graves of departed friends, which has been already incidentally noticed, is also derived from a custom of the ancient church. St. Ambrose, in his Funeral Oration on the Death of Valentinian, has these words: “I will not sprinkle his grave with flowers, but pour on his spirit the odour of Christ. Let others scatter baskets of flowers : Christ is our lily, and with this will I consecrate his relics."3 And St. Jerome, in his Epistle to Pammachius, upon the death of his wife, tells us : “ Whilst other husbands strewed violets, roses, lilies, and purple flowers upon the graves of their wives, and comforted themselves with suchlike offices, Pammachius bedewed her ashes and venerable bones with the balsam of alms.”4
Durand tells us that the ancient Christians, after the funeral, used to scatter flowers on the tomb. There is a great deal
1 “ Cum igitur infans vel puer baptizatus, defunctus fuerit ante usum rationis, induitur juxta ætatem, et imponitur ei corona de floribus, seu de herbis aromaticis et odoriferis, in signum integritatis carnis et virginitatis.” See the Ordo Baptizandi, &c., pro Anglia, Hibernia, et Scotia. 12mo. Par. 1636, p. 97.
2 Pennant's MS. says that in North Wales “the people kneel and say the Lord's prayer on the graves of their dead friends for some Sundays after their interment; and this is done generally upon their first coming to church, and, after that, they dress the grave with flowers. Llanrechan."
3 " Nec ego floribus tumulum ejus aspergam, sed spiritum ejus Christi odore perfundam; spargant alii plenis lilia calathis; nobis lilium est Christus : hoc reliquias ejus sacrabo." Ambros. Orat. Funebr. de Obitu Valentin.
4 - Cæteri mariti super tumulos conjugum spargunt violas, rosas, lilia, floresque purpureos, et dolorem pectoris his officiis consolantur; Pammachius noster sanctam favillamossaque veneranda eleemosynæ balsamis rigat.” Hieron. Epist. ad Pammachium de Obitu Uxoris.
5 “Condito et curato funere solebant nonnulli antiquitus tumulun floriof learning in Moresin upon this subject. It appears from Pliny's Natural History, from Cicero in his Oration on Lucius Plancus, and from Virgil's sixth Æneid, that this was a funeral rite among the heathens. They used also to scatter them on the unburied corpse.
Gough, in the Introduction to the second volume of the Sepulchral Monuments, p. 18, speaking of the Feralia, says: “The tombs were decked with flowers, particularly roses and lilies. The Greeks used the amaranth and polyanthus (one species of which resembles the hyacinth), parsley, myrtle. The Romans added fillets or bandeaux of wool. The primitive Christians reprobated these as impertinent practices : but in Prudentius's time they had adopted them, and they obtain, in a degree, in some parts of our own country, as the garland hung up in some village churches in Cambridgeshire, and other counties, after the funeral of a young woman, and the enclosure of roses round graves in the Welsh churchyards testify.” Gay thus describes the strewing of flowers upon the graves :
“Upon her grave the rosemary they threw,
The daisy, butter'd flow'r, and endive blue." He adds the custom, still used in the south of England of fencing the graves with osiers, &c.; and glances at clerical economy, for which there is oftentimes too much occasion, in the last two lines :
bus adspergere.” Durand, p. 237. In Huss. Dissert. Acad. de antiquis Humandi Ritibus, 12mo. Upsaliæ, 1698, p. 44, we read : “ Violis quoque et floribus tumulos suos exornasse Christianos ex Prudentii hymno in exaquiis defunctorum Ambrosii et Hieronomi edocemur. Neque alium in finem hoc factum est, quam ut spem resurrectionis testatum redderent, quod sicuti flores verno tempore renascuntur, ita et nos die avatav OEC sumus redituri.”
I “Sepnlchra funeralibus expletis quandoque floribus odoramentisque fuisse sparsa legimus. Idemque mos cum in plerisque regionibus Italiæ, tum maxime in subjectis Appennino collibus, Romandiolæ alicubi ætate nostra servatur. Adhibita sunt post funeralia in templis ornamenta, clypei, coronæ, et hujusmodi donaria, quod nostra quoque ætas in nobilibus et honoratis viris servat.” Moresini Papatus, p. 156. Hence our custom of hanging up over the tombs of knights, &c., banners, spurs, and other insignia of their order. “Flores et serta, educto cadavere, certatim injiciebant Athenienses. Guichard, lib. ii. cap. 3, Funeral. Retinent Papani morem.” Ibid. p. 61.