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Monday, 13 October 2014

Rough Music: The Customs and Traditions of the Sherborne Pack Monday Fair

Rough Music - Teddy Rowe's Band
The Pack Monday Fair was held on Old Michaelmas Day, 10th October in Sherborne.  This was usually heralded with the arrival of the Teddy Rowe's Band. comprising of a group of young people who paraded the streets making as much discordant noise as possible on horns, bugles, whistles, tin trays, saucepans.  The origin for this noisy custom is explained that Teddy Rowe was the master mason employed in the 15th century to build the great fan vault in the nave of the Abbey Church. When the work was completed, the workmen packed their tools and paraded in triumph around the town, hence why the fair is called ‘Pack Monday’

Teddy Rowe's Band was suppressed in the 1960s because of the potential for anti-social behaviour. The heralding of a fair with a discordant parade is not unique, and such a noisy gathering is also a core feature of rough music traditions (see also Skimmington Ride).

Dorset Folklorist, John Symonds Udal mentioned about the traditions of the  Pack Monday Fair in his book 'Dorsetshire Folklore' published in 1922:
Hutchins (iv.209), speaking of the annual fairs held in the town of Sherborne:

"The first on St. Thomas a Becket's Day, O.S., upon the green near the site of St. Thomas a Becket's chapel; the second in St. Swithin's Street on St. Swithin's day, O.S ; the third, outside the Abbey Close, on the first Monday after the feast of St. Michael, O.S. This last is the most considerable, and is a great holiday for the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood. It is ushered in by the ringing of the great bell at 4 a.m., and by the boys and young men perambulating the streets with cows' horns at a still earlier hour, to the no small annoyance of their less wakeful neighbours. It has been an immemorial custom in Sherborne for the boys to blow horns in the evenings, in the streets, for some weeks before the fair. It is commonly known as Pack Monday Fair, and there is a tradition that Abbot Peter Ramsam and his workmen completed the nave of the abbey and kept a holiday on that day in 1490, and that the name was derived from the men packing up their tools. These fairs are chiefly for cattle, horses, and sheep. At the last woollen cloths and all sorts of commodities are sold. The tolls of St. Swithin's belong to the Vicar ; those of the others to the lord of the Manor"

In September, 1826, a resident in Sherborne sent to Hone's Every-Day Book (ii, 654) the following very full description of what goes on at Pack Monday Fair. He says :
"This fair is usually held on the first Monday after the 10th of October, and is a mart for the sale of horses, cows, fat and lean oxen, sheep, lambs, and pigs, cloth, earthenware, onions, wall and hazel nuts, apples, fruit trees, and the usual nick nacks for children, toys, ginger-bread, sweetmeats, sugar plums etc. etc. with drapery, hats, bonnets, caps, ribands, etc. for the country belles, of whom, when the weather is favourable, a great number is drawn together from the neighbouring villages. Tradition relates that this fair originated at the termination of the building of the church, when the people who had been employed about it packed up their tools, and held a fair or wake in the churchyard, blowing cows' horns in their rejoicing, which at that time was perhaps the most common music in use. ..
 

The fair has been removed from the churchyard about six or seven years, and is now held on a spacious parade in a street not far from the church. . .
 

To the present time Pack Monday fair is annually announced three or four weeks previous by all the little urchins who can procure and blow a cow's horn parading the streets in the evenings, and sending forth the different tones of their horny bugles, sometimes beating an old sauce-pan for a drum, to render the sweet sound more delicious, and not infrequently a whistle-pipe or a fife is added to the band.
 

The clock's striking twelve on the Sunday night previous is the summons for ushering in the fair, when the boys assemble with their horns and parade the town with a noisy shout, and prepare to forage for fuel to light a bonfire, generally of straw obtained from some of the neighbouring farmyards, which are sure to be plundered, without respect to the owners, if they have not been fortunate enough to secure the material in some safe part of their premises.
 

In this way the youths enjoy themselves in boisterous triumph, to the annoyance of the sleeping part of the inhabitants, many of whom deplore, whilst others, who entertain respect for old customs, delight in the deafening mirth. At four o'clock the great bell is rang for a quarter of an hour. From this time the bustle commences by the preparation for the coming scene : stalls erecting, windows cleaning and decorating, shepherds and drovers going forth for their flocks and herds, which are depastured for the night in the neighbouring fields, and every individual seems on the alert. The business in the sheep and cattle fairs (which are held in different fields, nearly in the centre of the town, and well attended by the gentlemen farmers of Dorset, Somerset and Devon) takes precedence, and is generally concluded by twelve o'clock, when what is called the in-fair begins to wear the appearance of business-like activity, and from this time till three or four o'clock more business is transacted in the shop, counting-house, parlour, hall and kitchen than at any other time of the day, it being a custom of the tradespeople to have their yearly accounts settled about this time, and scarcely a draper, grocer, hatter, ironmonger, bookseller, or other respectable tradesman but is provided with an ample store of beef and home-brewed October, for the welcome of their numerous customers, few of whom depart without taking quantum suff: of the old English fare placed before them."

"Now," Hone's correspondent goes on to say,—" is the town alive." And he tells us of the usual merry sights of a country fair—the giant, the learned pig, the giantess and dwarf, the conjuror, the managerie of wild beasts, the merry-go-round, the lucky bag, the Sheffield hardwareman with his wonderful display of cheap cutlery, the inevitable Cheap Jack offering everything for next-to-nothing—for fuller details of which I would refer my readers to his account. And he concludes with the following remarks :—
 

"This is Pack Monday fair, till evening throws on her dark veil, when the visitors, in taking their farewell, stroll through the rows of ginger-bread stalls ... By this time the country folks are for jogging home, and vehicles and horses of every description on the move, and the bustle nearly over, with the exception of what is to be met with at the inns, where the lads and lasses so disposed, on the light fantastic toe, assisted by the merry scraping of the fiddle, finish the fun, frolic, and pastime of Pack Monday fair."

Some sixty years later Mr. E. Archdall Ffooks - the present clerk of the peace for the county of Dorset, and then a resident in the neighbourhood of Sherborne — at my request for information as to the modern proportions of the fair, wrote me a letter in which he says :
 
"The old custom of horn blowing has now,through the aid of the police, been reduced to reasonable limits. A few years ago small boys blew horns at all hours of the day and night until their bed-time for more than a month before Pack Monday Fair. Then the inhabitants complained of the nuisance, and the police were instructed to prevent it and to take away the horns, with the result that now only a few occasional horns are heard for about a week beforehand. On Sunday evening about 10 p.m. on October 12th (1884) a few horns in different parts, calling together those who were to take part in the march round, were heard ; and these gradually increased in number and became mingled with an occasional tin tray etc. until 12 o'clock, when the whole body of about 300 assembled at the Antelope Hotel moved off in no particular order and marched once all over the town, starting down Cheap Street and then passing through as many as possible until all the most important had been visited, keeping up an incessant din the whole time with horns, bugles, and all sorts of tin trays etc. that would make a noise. About 2 a.m. the town is allowed to go to sleep.This is what is left of the old custom, and seems likely to last in about its same proportions until something puts an end to Pack Monday Fair itself."
Other sources read: Dark Dorset - Folklore, Customs and Ghost Stories in Sherborne by Elisabeth Bletsoe

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

'Merry Meet' issue 53 out now!

Merry Meet Issue 53 Summer 2014
Merry Meet Magazine is an independent quarterly journal of Folklore and Pagan Heritage, produced and edited by local musician and author Jerry Bird. 

In Issue 53 Summer 2014, articles include:
  •  News & Comment
  • The Angel of Mons
  • Montem Mound
  • A Midsummer Divination Spell
  • The Lost Stone Circles of Dorset (Part 1)
  • Reviews: Ameth - The Life and Times of Doreen Valiente by Jonathan Tapsell and Pagan Britain by Prof. Ronal Hutton
  • Folklore Diary
Current Stockists

    For more information visit www.merrymeetmagazine.co.uk

    Monday, 29 September 2014

    The Devil Spits - The Traditions and Customs of Michaelmas Day

    The 29th September is better known as ‘Michaelmas Day’, or ‘The Feast of St Michael and All Angels’. ‘St Michael’ is the archangel who personally threw ‘Lucifer’ out of Heaven. According to the legend, when Lucifer fell from grace, he landed on Earth right in the middle of a bramble bush. Since then, he returns on every anniversary to get his revenge by fouling and spitting upon all unpicked blackberries. Therefore it is believed whoever gathers them afterwards will have bad luck! It is true that, by this day, maggots and early frosts will probably have spoilt the crop!

    MICAHAELMAS DAISIES

    At this time of year, the Aster (Aster nova-belgii) blooms, and it has become known as the Michaelmas Daisy. The Michaelmas Daisy comes in many colours, from white to pink to purple. An old verse goes:

    The Michaelmas Daisies,
    among dede weeds,

    Bloom for St Michael's valorous deeds.

    And seems the last of flowers that stood,

    Till the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude.


    (The Feast of St. Simon and St.Jude is 28 October) An old custom surrounds Michaelmas Daisies; one plucks off the petals one by one thus: pull a petal while saying

    Michaelmas Daisies
    ""S/he loves me," then pull of the next while saying "S/he loves me not," and repeat until all petals are gone. The words one intones while pulling off the last petal lets one know if one's love is requited.

    As to foods, geese were, at least at one time, plentiful during this time of year, so roast goose dinners are traditional (eating them on this day is said to protect against financial hardship, according to Irish and English folk belief). It was also the time (at least in Ireland) when the fishing season ended, the hunting season began, and apples were harvested, so eating apples today with that goose would be a nice touch.

    WEATHER LORE

    Michaelmas was considered another key date for weather predictions. A clear sunny Michaelmas Day meant that a dry but freezing winter lay ahead.

    If ducks do slide at Michaelmas,
    At Christmas they will swim;

    If ducks do swim at Michaelmas

    At Christmas they will slide.


    Extract taken from the Chambers Book of Days September 29th 1864, details the traditions of Michaelmas.
    MICHAELMAS DAY

    Michaelmas Day, the 29th of September, properly named the day of St. Michael and All Angels, is a great festival of the Church of Rome, and also observed as a feast by the Church of England. In England, it is one of the four quarterly terms, or quarter-days, on which rents are paid, and in that and other divisions of the United Kingdom, as well as perhaps in other countries, it is the day on which burgal magistracies and councils are re-elected. The only other remarkable thing connected with the day is a widely prevalent custom of marking it with a goose at dinner.
    St Michael defeats the Devil
    Michael is regarded in the Christian world as the chief of angels, or archangel. His history is obscure. In Scripture, he is mentioned five times, and always in a warlike character; namely, thrice by Daniel as fighting for the Jewish church against Persia; once by St. Jude as fighting With the devil about the body of Moses; and once by St. John as fighting at the head of his angelic troops against the dragon and his host. Probably, on the hint thus given by St. John the Romish church taught at an early period that Michael was employed, in command of the loyal angels of God, to overthrow and consign to the pit of perdition Lucifer and his rebellious associates—a legend which was at length embalmed in the sublimest poetry by Milton.

    Sometimes Michael is represented as the sole arch-angel, sometimes as only the head of a fraternity of archangels, which includes likewise Gabriel, Raphael, and some others. He is usually represented in coat-armour, with a glory round his head, and a dart in his hand, trampling on the fallen Lucifer. He has even been furnished, like the human warriors of the middle ages, with a heraldic ensign—namely, a banner hanging from a cross. We obtain a curious idea of the religious notions of those ages, when we learn that the red velvet-covered buckler worn by Michael in his war with Lucifer used to be shewn in a church in Normandy down to 1607, when the bishop of Avranches at length forbade its being any longer exhibited.

    Angels are held by the Church of Rome as capable of interceding for men; wherefore it is that prayers are addressed to them and a festival appointed in their honour. Wheatley, an expositor of the Book of Common Prayer, probably expresses the limited view of the subject which is entertained in the Church of England, when he says, that 'I the feast of St. Michael and All Angels is observed that the people may know what blessings are derived from the ministry of angels.'

    Amongst Catholics, Michael, or, as he has been named, St. Michael, is invoked as 'a most glorious and warlike prince,' chief officer of paradise,' I captain of God's hosts,' receiver of souls,' 'the vanquisher of evil spirits,' and 'the admirable general.' It may also be remarked, that in the Sarum missal, there is a mass to St. Raphael, as the protector of pilgrims and travellers, and a skilful worker with medicine; likewise an office for the continual intercession of St. Gabriel and all the heavenly militia. Protestant writers trace a connection between the ancient notion of tutelar genii and the Catholic doctrine respecting angels, the one being, they say, ingrafted on the other.

    As to the soundness of this view we do not give any opinion, but it seems certain that in early ages there was a prevalent notion that the affairs of men were much under the direction of angels, good and bad, and men prayed to angels both to obtain good and to avoid evil. Every human being was supposed to have one of these spiritual existences watching over him, aiming at his good, and ready to hear his call when he was in affliction. And, however we may judge this to be a delusion, we must certainly own that, as establishing a connection between the children of earth and something above and beyond the earth, as leading men's minds away from the grossness of worldly pursuits and feelings into the regions of the beautiful and the infinite, it is one of by no means the worst tendency. We must be prepared, however, to find simplicity amidst all the more aspiring ideas of our forefathers.

    In time, the sainted spirits of pious persons came to stand in the place of the generally name-less angels, and each place and person had one of these as a special guardian and protector. Not only had each country its particular patron or tutelar saint, but there was one for almost every town and church. Even trades and corporations had their special saints. And there was one more specially to be invoked for each particular ail that could afflict humanity. It will be curious here to descend a little into particulars.

    First, as to countries, England had St. George; Scotland, St. Andrew; Ireland, St. Patrick; Wales, St. David; France, St. Dennis and (in a less degree) St. Michael; Spain, St. James (Jago); Portugal, St. Sebastian; Italy, St. Anthony; Sardinia, St. Mary; Switzerland, St. Gall and the Virgin Mary; Germany, St. Martin, St. Boniface, and St. George Cataphractus; Hungary, St. Mary of Aquisgrana and St. Lewis; Bohemia, St. Winceslaus; Austria, St. Colman and St. Leopold; Flanders, St. Peter; Holland, St. Mary; Denmark, St. Anscharius and St. Canute; Sweden, St. Anscharius, St. Eric, and St. John; Norway, St. Olaus and St. Anscharius; Poland, St. Stanislaus and St. Hederiga; Prussia, St. Andrew and St. Albert; Russia, St. Nicholas, St. Mary, and St. Andrew.

    Then as to cities, Edinburgh had St. Giles, Aberdeen St. Nicholas, and Glasgow St. Mungo; Oxford had St. Frideswide; Paris, St. Genevieve; Rome, Feast Day: St. Peter and St. Paul; Venice, St. Mark; Naples, St. Januarius and St. Thomas Aquinas; Lisbon, St. Vincent; Brussels, St. Mary and St. Gudula; Vienna, St. Stephen; Cologne, the three kings, with St. Ursula and the eleven thousand virgins.

    St. Agatha presides over nurses. St. Catherine and St. Gregory are the patrons of literati and studious persons; St. Catherine also presides over the arts. St. Christopher and St. Nicholas preside over mariners. St. Cecilia is the patroness of musicians. St. Cosmas and St. Damian are the patrons of physicians and surgeons, also of philosophers. St. Dismas and St. Nicholas preside over thieves; St. Eustace and St. Hubert over hunters; St. Felicitas over young children. St. Julian is the patron of pilgrims. St. Leonard and St. Barbara protect captives. St. Luke is the patron of painters. St. Martin and St. Urban preside over tipsy people, to save them from falling into the kennel. Fools have a tutelar saint in St. Mathurin, archers in St. Sebastian, divines in St. Thomas, and lovers in St. Valentine. St. Thomas Becket presided over blind men, eunuchs, and sinners, St. Winifred over virgins, and St. Yves over lawyers and civilians. St. Æthelbert and St. Elian were invoked against thieves.

    Generally, the connection of these saints with the classes of persons enumerated took its rise in some incident of their lives, and in the manner of their deaths; for instance, St. Nicholas was once in danger at sea, and St. Sebastian was killed by arrows. Probably, for like reasons, St. Agatha presided over valleys, St. Anne over riches, St. Barbara over hills, and St. Florian over fire; while St. Silvester protected wood, St. Urban wine and vineyards, and St. Osyth was invoked by women to guard their keys, and St. Anne as the restorer of lost things. Generally, the patron-saints of trades were, on similar grounds, persons who had themselves exercised them, or were supposed to have done so. Thus, St. Joseph naturally presided over carpenters, St. Peter over fishmongers, and St. Crispin over shoemakers. St. Arnold was the patron of millers, St. Clement of tanners, St. Eloy of smiths, St. Goodman of tailors, St. Florian of mercers, St. John Port-Latin of booksellers, St. Louis of periwig-makers, St. Severus of fullers, St. Wilfred of bakers, St. William of hatters, and St. Windeline of shepherds. The name of St. Cloud obviously made him the patron-saint of nailsmiths; St. Sebastian became that of pinmakers, from his having been stuck over with arrows; and St. Anthony necessarily was adopted by swine-herds, in consequence of the legend about his pigs. It is not easy, however, to see how St. Nicholas came to be the presiding genius of parish-clerks, or how the innocent and useful fraternity of potters obtained so alarming a saint as 'St. Gore with a pot in his hand, and the devil on his shoulder.'

    The medicating saints are enumerated in the following passage from a whimsical satire of the sixteenth century:

    To every saint they also do his office here assign,
    And fourteen do they count, of whom thou may'st have aid divine;
    Among the which Our Lady still cloth hold the chiefest place,
    And of her gentle nature helps in every kind of case.
    St. Barbara looks that none without the body of Christ oth die;
    St. Cath'rine favours learned men and gives them wisdom high,
    And teacheth to resolve the doubts, and always giveth aid
    Unto the scolding sophister, to make his reason staid.
    St. Apolin the rotten teeth doth help when sore they ache;
    Otilia from the bleared eyes the cause and grief cloth take;
    Rooke healeth scabs and mangins, with pocks, and scurf, and scall,
    And cooleth raging carbuncles, and boils, and botches all.
    There is a saint, whose name in verse cannot declared be,
    He serves against the plague and each infective malady.
    St. Valentine, beside, to such as do his power despise
    The falling-sickness sends, and helps the man that to him cries.
    The raging mind of furious folk oth Vitus pacify,
    And oth restore them to their wit, being called on speedily.
    Erasmus heals the colic and the griping of the guts,
    And Laurence from the back and from the shoulder sickness puts.
    Blaise drives away the quinsy quite with water sanctified,
    From every Christian creature here, and every beast beside.
    But Leonard of the prisoners oth the bands asunder pull,
    And breaks the prison-doors and chains, wherewith his church is full.
    The quartan ague, and the rest cloth Pernel take away,
    And John preserves the worshippers from prison every day;
    Which force to Bennet eke they give, that help enough may be,
    By saints in every place. What dost thou omitted see?
    From dreadful unprovided death oth Mark deliver his,
    Who of more force than death himself, and more of value is.
    St. Anne gives wealth and living great to such as love her most,
    And is a perfect finder out of things that have been lost;
    Which virtue likewise they ascribe unto another man,
    St. Vincent; what he is I cannot tell, nor whence he came.
    Against reproach and infamy on Susan do they call;
    Romanus driveth sprites away and wicked devils all.
    The bishop Wolfgang heals the gout, St. Wendlin keeps the sheep,
    With shepherds and the oxen fat, as he was wont to keep.
    The bristled hogs cloth Anthony preserve and cherish well,
    Who in his lifetime always did in woods and forests dwell.
    St. Gertrude rids the house of mice, and killeth all the rats;
    And like doth Bishop Huldrick with his two earth-passing cats.
    St. Gregory looks to little boys, to teach their a, b, c,
    And makes them for to love their books, and scholars good to be.
    St. Nicholas keeps the mariners from dangers and disease,
    That beaten are with boisterous waves, and toss'd in dreadful seas.
    Great Christopher that painted is with body big and tall,
    Doth even the same, who doth preserve and keep his servants all
    From fearful terrors of the night, and makes them well to most,
    By whom they also all their life with diverse joys are blest.
    St. Agatha defends the house from fire and fearful flame,
    But when it burns, in armour all doth Florian quench the same.'

    It will be learned, with some surprise, that these notions of presiding angels and saints are what have led to the custom of choosing magistracies on the 29th of September. The history of the middle ages is full of curious illogical relations, and this is one of them. Local rulers were esteemed as in some respects analogous to tutelar angels, in as far as they presided over and protected the people. It was therefore thought proper to choose them on the day of St. Michael and All Angels. The idea must have been extensively prevalent, for the custom of electing magistrates on this day is very extensive,

    'September, when by custom (right divine)
    Geese are ordained to bleed at Michael's shrine'

    says Churchill. This is also an ancient practice, and still generally kept up, as the appearance of the stage-coaches on their way to large towns at this season of the year amply testifies. In Blount's Tenures, it is noted in the tenth year of Edward IV, that John de la Hay was bound to pay to William Barnaby, Lord of Lastres, in the county of Hereford, for a parcel of the demesne lands, one goose fit for the lord's dinner, on the feast of St. Michael the archangel. Queen Elizabeth is said to have been eating her Michaelmas goose when she received the joyful tidings of the defeat of the Spanish Armada. The custom appears to have originated in a practice among the rural tenantry of bringing a good stubble goose at Michaelmas to the landlord, when paying their rent, with a view to making him lenient. In the poems of George Gascoigne, 1575, is the following passage:

    And when the tenants come to pay their quarter's rent,
    They bring some fowl at Midsummer, a dish of fish in Lent,
    At Christmas a capon, at Michaelmas a goose,
    And somewhat else at New-year's tide, for fear their lease fly loose.'

    We may suppose that the selection of a goose for a present to the landlord at Michaelmas would be ruled by the bird being then at its perfection, in consequence of the benefit derived from stubble-feeding. It is easy to see how a general custom of having a goose for dinner on Michaelmas Day might arise from the multitude of these presents, as land-lords would of course, in most cases, have a few to spare for their friends. It seems at length to have become a superstition, that eating of goose at Michaelmas insured easy circumstances for the ensuing year. In the British Apollo, 1709, the following piece of dialogue occurs:

    'Q: Yet my wife would persuade me (as I am a sinner)
    To have a fat goose on St. Michael for dinner:
    And then all the year round, I pray you would mind it,
    I shall not want money—oh, grant I may find it!
    Now several there are that believe this is true,
    Yet the reason of this is desired from you.

    A: We think you're so far from the having of more,
    That the price of the goose you have less than before:
    The custom came up from the tenants presenting
    Their landlords with geese, to incline their relenting
    On following payments, &c.'

    Michaelmas Day, 1613, is remarkable in the annals of London, as the day when the citizens assembled to witness, and celebrate by a public pageant, the entrance of the New River waters to the metropolis.

    Sunday, 21 September 2014

    Happy Birthday H.G.Wells - British Science Fiction Author

    H.G.Wells
    Herbert George Wells was born on 21st September 1866 at Atlas House in Bromley, Kent. He began his literary career in earnest in 1895 with the publication of his first novel, "The Time Machine." Until this first success his life had been a patchwork of unsatisfactory drapery and chemist apprenticeships that were interrupted by stints as a teacher's assistant, and eventually acceptance into London's Normal School of Science where he studied biology under Darwin's "bull dog," the great T.H. Huxley.

    The 1890's saw the publication of the "scientific romances" that were to make him the most successful author of his time. Following "The Time Machine" was "The Island of Dr. Moreau" (1896), "The Invisible Man" (1897), "The War of the Worlds" (1898), "When the Sleeper Wakes" (1899), and "The First Men in the Moon" (1901). After this point he turned his prolific pen to social topics, history, and even a bit of hopeful prophecy with books like "Anticipations" (1901), "The Discovery of the Future" (1902), "Mankind in the Making" (1903), "The War in the Air" ,"War and the Future" (1917), "The Open Conspiracy" (1928), "The Shape of Things to Come" (1933), and "The New World Order" (1939).

    Martian Invasion!: The War of the Worlds
    A revolutionary in thought and deed, Wells was often the subject of public controversy owing to his attitude on so-called "free love" and women's rights. He was also a life-long believer in Socialism as the means to mankind's ultimate social salvation. His particular brand had nothing to do with the retrogressive Marxist strain and also helped bring him in conflict with other leading Socialist thinkers of his day during his brief stint with The Fabian Society. The outbreak of the First World War found a heretofore pacifist Wells changing his mind to support this Great War against the Hohenzollern "Blood and Iron" Imperial aggression. He reacted by writing a pamphlet in 1914 addressing the anti-war and pacifist elements in Britain entitled "The War That Will End War." Its title became proverbial almost instantly and is used to refer to the First World War even today. After spending time with the British government's War Office in the Propaganda Department and helping to define a clear set of war aims, he resigned and returned to writing propaganda his way. Even before the Great War began he published "The World Set Free" early in 1914. It was a prophetic novel about a world war against Imperial Germany and her "Central European Allies" which included a remarkably accurate forecast of atomic warfare and even coined the term "atomic bomb." He was amongst the first to call for a post war League of Nations but was bitterly disappointed with and critical of the actual League that developed. He spent the early part of the 1920's writing "The Outline of History," which like so many of his previous works was also enormously successful on both sides of the Atlantic. The 1930's found H.G. Wells profoundly disturbed by the rising din of Nietzschean nationalism from Nazi Germany and Fascism in Italy. His critical writings on the aggressive "Krupp cum Kaiser" Imperial Germany coupled with his outright vicious attacks on Adolf Hitler and his accomplices earned H.G. Wells the distinction of having his "anti-German" books burned by Goebbels during the infamous book bonfires at German universities. The name "H.G. Wells" also appeared very near the top of a list compiled by the SS/SD command staff of those intellectuals and politicians slated for immediate liquidation upon the invasion of Britain by the Nazis. Winston Churchill was also named. He remained at his flat at number 13 Hanover Terrace, Regent's Park, London throughout the war and walked his own fire watch, even as his equally wealthy neighbors fled the Luftwaffe's Blitz to their comfortable country estates.

    On the 13th August 1946, H.G.Wells died at his London home in Regent's Park. In his preface to the 1941 edition of "The War in the Air", Wells had stated that his epitaph should be: "I told you so. You damned fools!" but his wish was not granted as he was cremated on 16th August 1946.

    His ashes were later scattered at sea, off Old Harry Rocks, Studland. In his book "H.G.Wells: Aspects of a Life" the son of Wells, Anthony West gives a moving account.
    "My father died on the afternoon of the thirteenth of August 1946, a few weeks before reaching his eightieth birthday. His body was cremated three days later, and rather more than a year after that I chartered a boat named the Deirdre, owned by Captain Miller of Poole in Dorset. My half-brother George Philip Wells came down from London bringing the ashes with him, and we went out to scatter them on the sea at a point we had picked out on a line between Alum Bay on the Isle of Wight and St. Alban's Head on the Dorset shore. That was our intention. But when the Deirdre cleared the narrow mouth of Poole Harbour we found that the wind coming up the Solent from the South West beyond St. Alban's Head was freshening. The tide was just turning and beginning to run out into the face of the wind. A wind blowing over a contrary tide is a recipe for short steep seas, and the Deirdre was soon pitching nastily.

    The idea of burying my father at sea had come to my half-brother during the memorial service at the crematorium. A passage from the last chapter of his novel Tono-Bungay, "Night and the Open Sea," had then been read with telling effect, and while listening to its description of the book's narrator taking his newly launched torpedo-boat destroyer down the Thames and out into the North Sea to run its speed trials, my half-brother had thought, yes, that will be it, that will be the right thing to do. "We make and pass," the passage concludes by saying. "We are all things that make and pass, striving upon a hidden mission, out to the open sea."
    Old Harry Rocks
    The idea had seemed romantic and suitable when it was put to me,and I had been for it. But its defects soon became clear in that condition of wind and tide. My half-brother and I both became quiet and thoughtful. Captain Miller became entirely expressionless as he kept his boat bunting into the waves. We could all see that as soon as we were out of the shelter of Purbeck Island and in the open Solent things were going to be a lot wetter and much more uncomfortable. While we were still abeam of the two chalk stacks called Old Harry and Old Harry's Wife that stand below the white cliffs between Swanage and Studland, my father's ashes went into the sea. The wind took them off as a long veil that struck the very pale green water with a hiss. The Deirdre wallowed as Captain Miller put her about, and I had a moment of agony. He was really gone now, and I was never, ever going to get that stupid business about blackmail and the pro-Nazi conspirators in the BBC straightened out with him. I was surprised by the intense bitterness this thought aroused in me, and by the discovery that I could feel so strongly about the matter when he was no longer in a position to care about anything at all."
    Websites:

    The H.G.Wells Society

    Online Literature: HG Wells. Biography of HG Wells and a searchable collection of works.

    Saturday, 30 August 2014

    Happy Birthday Mary Shelley - author of Frankenstein

    Few seaside towns can claim so many literary associations as Bournemouth. The remains of writer, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly, author of one of the most famous of all Gothic horror novels - Frankenstein, is buried in the cemetery of St. Peters in the centre of the town.

    Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly
    Portrait of Mary Shelley, painted by Richard Rothwell in 1840.
    Mary Shelley was born on the 30th August 1797, in Somers Town, London. She was the second daughter of feminist and writer Mary Wollstonecraft and political journalist William Godwin (who are aso interred in her grave). Her mother died shortly after Mary's birth from a hemorrhage  sustained either during delivery or by the actions of the midwife. Unusual for girls at the time, Mary received an excellent education. She published her first poem at the age of ten.
    Percy Bysshe Shelley and his first wife Harriet often visited Godwin's home and bookshop in London. At the age of 16 Mary eloped to France and then Switzerland with Shelley. During May of 1816, the couple travelled to Lake Geneva. Apparently inspired by a ghost tale contest among her friends, Lord Byron, John William Polidori, and Claire Clairmont Mary had what she called a waking dream that became the manuscript for her most famous work, entitled ‘Frankenstein' or 'The Modern Prometheus'.

    It tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a scientist who tries to create a living being for the good of humanity but instead produces a monster.  Frankenstein creates his monster by assembling parts of dead bodies and activating the creature with electricity.  The monster, which has no name in the book, is actually a gentle, intelligent creature.  However, everyone fears and mistreats him because of his hideous appearance.  Frankenstein rejects the monster and refuses to create a mate for him.  The monster's terrible loneliness drives him to seek revenge by murdering Frankenstein's wife, brother, and best friend.  Frankenstein dies while trying to track down and kill the monster, who disappears into the Arctic at the end of the novel. 


    Film Posters for Universal Studios 1931 version of 'Frankenstein'
    Film Posters for Universal Studios 1931 version of 'Frankenstein'
    Many films have been based on the character of Frankenstein's monster, the most iconic being played by Boris Karloff in the Universal Studios 1931 version of the novel.  Most are simply tales of horror and have little to do with the serious themes of Shelley's novel.  These themes include the possible dangers involved in scientific experimentation with life and the suffering caused by judging people by their appearance. 

    Mary and Shelley married in 1816 after Shelley's first wife committed suicide by drowning. In 1818 the Shelleys left England for Italy. The Italian adventure was, however, blighted for Mary by the death of both her children Clara, in Venice and their son Will died from malaria in Rome.  Mary suffered a nervous breakdown after the death and almost died of a later miscarriage. It was followed by the birth of her only surviving child, Percy Florence Shelley. In July 1822, Percy Bysshe Shelley sailed up the Italian coast and was caught in a storm on his return. He drowned on the 8th July along with his friend Edward Williams and a young boat attendant.

     To support herself and her child, Mary wrote novels, including Valperga (1823), The Last Man (1826), and the autobiographical Lodore (1835).  She spent much of her life in promoting her late husband's work, including editing and annotating unpublished material. She returned to England, never to re-marry.


    The Grave of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly
    The Grave of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly
    She died on 1st February 1851 in Chester Square, London of what some suspect to be a brain tumor, before her to move to live with her son Percy Florence Shelley at Boscombe Manor. Her last book, sometimes considered her best work, was ‘Maria', which was published posthumously.  Her son brought his mothers remains to be interred in St. Peter's Churchyard in Bournemouth, along with Percy's heart, which was not originally buried with his body. It was retrieved from his funeral pyre by his friend Trelawny and kept by Shelley's wife Mary, pressed flat, in a copy of the poet's "Adonais" and was interred for the first time in Mary's tomb.

    Source: www.darkdorset.co.uk

    Friday, 22 August 2014

    Happy Birthday "Folklore" - On this day, the 22nd August 1846, the term Folk-Lore, was 'born'


    William John Thoms
    William John Thoms
    On this day, the 22nd August 1846, the term "Folklore", was coined, by English antiquarian, William John Thoms (1803-1885).

    Thoms is credited with inventing the term under the pseudonym Ambrose Merton in a letter to the London literary magazine ‘Athenaeum’. 

    He invented this composite word to replace the various other terms used at the time including (1803-1885)"popular antiquities" or "popular literature" to describe people’s traditional beliefs, ballads, proverbs, customs, popular superstitions and legends.

    During the 1800's, scholars like Thoms, believed that folklore in ancient times had been shared by all members of a society. Most ancient peoples lived in rural communities. Over the centuries, large numbers of people moved to cities and gradually lost touch with so-called "authentic" folk uneducated peasants called ‘folk’, whose way of life had changed little for traditions. According to the scholars of the 1800’s, those traditions were preserved by hundreds of years.


    Brothers Grimm
    The Brothers Grimm
    Amongst the most notable leading folklore scholars were two German brothers, Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm. From 1807 to 1814, they collected folk tales from peasants who lived near Kassel, in Germany. The Grimms believed that by collecting the tales, they were preserving for all time the heritage of all Germans. The stories they collected became famous as Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

    But some versions of these tales are found throughout Europe, the Near East, and Asia. Today, scholars consider folk to be any group of people who share at least one common linking factor. This factor may be, Geography, as in folklore of the English Countryside, Religion, as in Jewish folklore, Occupation, as in Fisherman folklore, Ethnic background, as in French-Canadian folklore. Some scholars believe that even a family can be considered folk because many families have their own traditions and stories.

    Characteristics of folklore

    Folklore can be short and simple or long and complicated. Brief proverbs, such as "Time flies" and "Money talks," are famous examples of folklore. On the other hand, in other parts of the world, some folk plays begin at sundown and end at dawn. It is extremely difficult to make up folklore.

    The songs, stories, and other material that became folklore were, of course, thought up by various people. But those individuals had the rare ability to create a subject and a style that appealed to others over the years. Folklore survives only if it retains that appeal.

    People would not bother to retell tales or continue to follow customs that had no meaning for them. This is the reason people keep on using the same folklore over and over. To be considered authentic folklore, an item must have at least two versions.


    For example, scholars have identified more than 1,000 versions of the fairy tale about Cinderella. These versions developed over hundreds of years in many countries, including China, France, Germany, and Turkey. Changes in folklore often occur as a story passes from person to person. These changes, called variations, are one of the surest indications that the item is true folklore. Variations frequently appear in both the words and music of folk songs. The same lyrics may be used with different tunes, or different words may be set to the same music. For example the nursery rhymes "Baa, Baa Black Sheep" and "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" have the same melody. 

    Kinds of folklore:  

    Myths
    Myths are stories that explain how the world and humanity reached their present form. Myths differ from most types of folk stories because myths are considered to be true among the people who develop them. Many myths describe the creation of the earth. In some of these stories, a god creates the earth. In others, the earth emerges from a flood. A number of myths describe the creation of the human race and the origin of death.
    Folk Tales
    Folk tales are fictional stories about animals or human beings. Most of these tales are not set in any particular time or place, and they begin and end in a certain way. For example, many English folk tales begin with the phrase "Once upon a time" and end with "They lived happily ever after." Fables are one of the most popular types of folk tales. They are animal stories that try to teach people how to behave. One fable describes a race between a tortoise and a hare. The tortoise, though it is a far slower animal, wins because the hare foolishly stops to sleep. This story teaches the lesson that someone who works steadily can come out ahead of a person who is faster or has a head start. In many European fairy tales, the hero or heroine leaves home to seek some goal. After various adventures, he or she wins a prize or a marriage partner, in many cases a prince or princess. One popular kind of folk tale has a trickster as the hero. Each culture has its own trickster figure. Most tricksters are animals like the wolf, fox and the cunning hare who act like human beings.
     Legends
    Legends, like myths, are stories told as though they were true. But legends are set in the real world and in relatively recent times. Many legends tell about human beings who meet supernatural creatures, such as fairies, ghosts, vampires, and witches. A number of legends are associated with famous people who have died. Others tell of holy persons and religious leaders. Some legends describe how saints work miracles. The action in myths and folk tales ends at the conclusion of the story. But the action in many legends has not been completed by the story's end. For example, a legend about a buried treasure may end by saying that the treasure has not yet been found. A legend about a haunted house may suggest that the house is still haunted. A number of legends tell about the Loch Ness Monster, a lake monster in Scotland; and the Beast of Exmoor, a large cat that haunts the Somerset moors. Some people believe these creatures actually exist. From time to time, various expeditions have tried to find both of them.
     Folk songs
    Folk songs have been created for almost every human activity. Some are associated with work. For example, sailors sing songs called ‘shanties’ while pulling in their lines. Folk songs may deal with birth, childhood, courtship, marriage, and death. Parents sing folk lullabies to babies. Children sing traditional songs as part of some games. Other folk songs are sung at weddings and funerals. Some folk songs are related to seasonal activities, such as planting and harvesting. Many are sung on certain holidays. The English Christmas folk song "I saw three ships " is a popular example. Some folk songs celebrate the deeds of real or imaginary heroes. But people sing many folk songs simply for enjoyment.
    Superstitions and Customs

    A large number of superstitions and customs supposedly help control or predict the future. The people of fishing communities may hold elaborate ceremonies that are designed to ensure a good catch as in the custom of the Abbostbury Garland. Many people try to foretell future events by analysing the relationships among the planets and stars.

    Superstitions and customs are involved largely in marking a person's advancement from one stage of life to another. For example, one such superstition concerns the Cerne Abbas Giant's powers of fertility and the belief that childless couples who made love on a phallic part of the figure would soon be blessed with children. While young women wishing to keep their lovers faithful would walk around the hill figure three times.
     Holidays
    Holidays are special occasions celebrated by a group, and almost all of them include some elements of folklore. Christmas is especially rich in folklore. A national group may celebrate this holiday with its own special foods and costumes. Many groups have variations of the same folk custom. In a number of countries, for example, children receive presents at Christmas. In Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, Father Christmas or Santa Claus brings the presents. In Italy, an old woman named La Befana distributes the gifts. In some countries of Europe, the gifts come from the Christ child. In others, the Three Wise Men bring them.
     Folklore and the arts
    Folklore has made a major contribution to the world's arts. Many folk stories and folk songs are beautiful works of art themselves. Folklore has also inspired masterpieces of literature, music, painting, and sculpture. The English poet Geoffrey Chaucer used a number of folk tales in his famous Canterbury Tales. William Shakespeare based the plots of several of his plays on folk tales. These plays include King Lear, The Merchant of Venice and The Taming of the Shrew.

    Certain legends and myths have attracted artists, composers, and writers for centuries, most recent revival has been made by Seth Lakeman in his songs that have been inspired by legends and folk stories of the south west of England like Childe the Hunter, Kitty Jay, The White Hare and The Hurlers.
    One legend tells about a medieval German scholar named Faust who sold his soul to the devil. This legend has been the basis of many novels, plays, operas, and orchestral works. Faust, a drama by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, is perhaps the greatest work in German literature.
     Folklore and society
    Folklore reflects the attitudes and ideals of a society. For example, much folklore reflects how a society regards the roles of males and females in real life. In many examples of Western folklore, women are depicted as passive and uncreative. A society that produces such folklore considers men superior to women.

    This attitude appears in a 18th century Scottish proverb “A crooning cow, a crowing Hen and a whistling Maid boded never luck to a house”. According to the proverb, a girl who whistles like a boy and a hen that crows like a rooster are unnatural. The proverb implies that women should not try to take part in activities traditionally associated with men, an idea that has become outdated in modem society.

    A common wedding custom calls for the groom to carry his bride over the threshold of their home. This custom suggests that the woman is weak and must be carried through the doorway - and presumably through life - by the strong male. In many Western fairy tales, a female is captured by a villain and waits quietly until a heroic male rescues her.



    Saturday, 2 August 2014

    The Harvest Customs and Traditions in Dorset


    Dorset Folklorist, John Symonds Udal wrote about the customs and traditions of Harvest Home in Dorset in his book 'Dorsetshire Folklore' published in 1922:-
    HAY-MAKING

    The season of hay-making would seem never to have been such a period of gaiety and festivity in Dorsetshire as was the case with the "harvest-home" gatherings later in the year. The success of the hay harvest, however, was a very important matter to so large a pastoral community as the county comprised; and without doubt some celebration by way of reward for and appreciation of services loyally rendered, often in long extended hours of work when the weather was uncertain, was indulged in at the conclusion of that harvest. Extra money payments, as in the corn harvest, have largely taken the place of social gatherings and festivities amongst the labourers in which their employers once freely joined. Still in many places at the ingathering of the hay an extra jar of cider or ale would be brought out, and the men would sit down and have a chat amongst themselves and, perhaps, a song or two ; whilst at the close hats would be raised and " hip, hip, hurrahs " would be given.


    In later years, both in hay and corn harvesting, machinery has taken a very active part in reducing the amount of manual labour employed in these operations, which at its introduction went sorely against the conservative feelings of the Dorset peasant. This feeling was just as strongly expressed as in the great industrial centres in the North where labour-saving appliances were ever on the increase; and sometimes took the form of reprisals by way of burning hay and corn ricks as well as the occasional destruction of the offending machinery.
     

    Under these influences in course of time the very names of the old haymakers' several occupations would be lost. In William Barnes's early days—a century ago—these were numerous and distinctive. We are fortunate in having him to record what they were. Here is a description which he gives in his Glossary (1863) of what haymaking was like in his time (s.v. Häymeäken).

    "Hay-making consists of several operations which with fine weather, commonly follow each other in Dorsetshire, thus : The mown grass—in zwath, swath,—is thrown abroad—tedded, and afterwards turned once or twice ; in the evening it is raked up into little ridges—rollers,—single or double, as they may be formed by one raker, or by two raking against each other ; and sometimes put up into small cones or heaps, called cocks. On the following morning the rollers or cocks are thrown abroad in passels—parcels,—which, after being turned, are in the evening put up into large ridges—weals ; and the weals are sometimes pooked, put up into larger cones—pooks,—in which the hay is loaded. In raking grass into double rollers, or pushing hay into weals, the fore raker or pickman is said to rake in or push in, or row or roo, and the other to close."


    Barnes had already preserved many of these terms in two of his charming dialect poems, one on "Häymeäken ", and the other on "Häy-carrén" (pp. 51-2), which afford so delightful a picture of rustic life in the hay-field that one feels inclined to say, too:

    "I do long to toss a pick, 
    A pitchén or a-meäkén rick."
    HARVEST HOME

    The celebration of the ingathering of the corn harvest is common to all our counties and to most countries. Full accounts of these festivals and their significance may be found in Brand's, Hone's, and Chambers's works, as well as in those of less known writers.
     

    It is to the late William Barnes that we might expect to look for a fitting description of a Dorset harvest-home feast, or supper, and we find it in an account,—as particular and as life-like as a painting of an old Dutch interior—of what usually took place on these occasions, which he contributed to Hone's Year Book (p. 586), from which I take the following extract:—

    "Harvest Home, formerly celebrated with great mirth but now a declining usage, was a feast given by the farmer at the end of harvest, or when his hay and corn were got in ... Some years ago the ' harvest home ' in my native county, Dorset, was kept up with good old English hospitality.


    "When the last load was ricked the labourers, male and female, the swarthy reaper and the sun-burnt hay-maker, the saucy boy who had not seen twelve summers and the stiff horny-handed old mower who had borne the toil of fifty, all made a happy groupe, and went with singing and loud-laughing to the harvest-home supper at the farmhouse, where they were expected by the good mistress, dressed in a quilted petticoat and a linsey-wolsey apron, with shoes fastened by large silver buckles which extended over her foot like a pack-saddle on a donkey.
     

    "The dame and her husband welcomed them to a supper of good wholesome food, a round of beef, and a piece of bacon; and perhaps the host and hostess had gone so far as to kill a fowl or two, or stick a turkey, which they had fattened in the wheat-yard. The plain English fare was eaten from wooden trenchers, by the side of which were put little cups of horn filled with beer or cider. When the cloth was removed one of the men, putting forth his large hand like the gauntlet of an armed knight, would grasp his horn of beer, and standing up on a pair of legs which had long out-grown the largest holes of the village stocks, and with a voice which, if he had not been speaking a dialect of the English language, you might have thought came from the deep-seated lungs of a lion, he would propose the health of the farmer in the following lines :—
    'Here's a health unto our miaster
    The founder of the feast, 
    And I hope to God wi' all my heart
    His soul in heaven mid rest;
     

    That everything mid prosper
    That ever he tiak in hand,
    Vor we be all his sarvants, 
    And all at his command.'
    "After this would follow a course of jokes, anecdotes, and songs, in some of which the whole company joined, without attention to the technicalities of counterpoint, bass, tenor, and treble, common chords and major thirds; but each singing the air and pitching in at the key that best fitted his voice, making a medley of big and little sounds, like the lowings of oxen and the low beatings of old ewes, mixed up with the shrill pipings of the lambs at a fair.

    "The conversation commonly turned on the incidents of the summer ; how the hay-makers overtook the mowers, or how the rain kept the labour back ; how they all crept in a heap under the waggon in a thunderstorm ; how nearly some of them were crushed under the load that was upset; who was the best mower or reaper in the village ; which field yielded the best crop ; and which stack was most likely to heat."


    Later Barnes devoted two of his charming dialect poems to a similar description, which form such a delightful complement to the whole subject that I have no hesitation in reproducing them here in full. They are to be found at pp. 78-80 of the first collected edition of the poems published by Kcgan Paul & Co. in 1879, and again in 1888. (The first edition of Poems of Rural Life in the Dorset Dialect was in 1844, whilst the earlier edition of Hone's Year Book in which Barnes's contribution first appeared was published in 1832. A change of spelling in some of the dialect words,—particularly the '"vowel sounds ",— (e.g. " ia ", in " miaster ", or " tiak ", to " eä, ") will be noticed in the earlier and later editions of the poems ; a scheme not involving so much a change of pronunciation» perhaps, but, as justified by Barnes in the preface to the third edition of his " first collection" of poems, published in 1862, on the ground that " while it affords the Dorset forms of the words to Dorset readers it may make them of more English look and more legible to others ".)
     

    HARVEST HWOME

    The vu'st peärt. The Supper.
    "Since we wer striplèns naïghbour John,
    The good wold merry times be gone:
    But we do like to think upon
    What we've a-zeed an' done.

    When I wer up a hardish lad,
    At harvest hwome the work-vo'k had

    Sich suppers, they wer jumpèn mad
    Wi' feästèn an' wi' fun.

    At uncle's, I do mind, woone year,

    I zeed a vill o' hearty cheer;
    Fat beef an' puddèn, eäle an' beer,
    Vor ev'ry workman's crop
    An' after they'd a-gie'd God thanks,
    They all zot down, in two long ranks,
    Along a teäble-bwoard o' planks,
    Wi' uncle at the top.

    An' there, in platters, big and brown,

    Wer red fat beäcon, an' a roun'
    O' beef wi' gravy that would drown
    A little rwoastèn pig;
    Wi' beäns an' teäties vull a zack,
    An' cabbage that would meäke a stack,
    An' puddèns brown, a-speckled black
    Wi' figs, so big's my wig.

    An' uncle, wi' his elbows out,

    Did carve, an' meäke the gravy spout;
    An' aunt did gi'e the mugs about

    A-frothèn to the brim.
    Pleätes werden then ov e'then ware,
    They ate off pewter, that would bear
    A knock; or wooden trenchers, square,
    Wi' zalt-holes at the rim.

    An' zoo they munch'd their hearty cheer,

    An' dipp'd their beards in frothy-beer,
    An' laugh'd, an' jok'd--they couldden hear
    What woone another zaid.
    An' all o'm drink'd, wi' woone accword,
    The wold vo'k's health: an' beät the bwoard,
    An' swung their eärms about, an' roar'd,
    Enough to crack woone's head.
    Second Peärt. What they did after Supper.
    Zoo after supper wer a-done,
    They clear'd the teäbles, an' begun
    To have a little bit o' fun,
    As long as they mid stop.
    The wold woones took their pipes to smoke,
    An' tell their teäles, an' laugh an' joke,
    A-lookèn at the younger vo'k,
    That got up vor a hop.

    Woone screäp'd away, wi' merry grin,
    A fiddle stuck below his chin;
    An' woone o'm took the rollèn pin,
    An' beät the fryèn pan.
    An' tothers, dancèn to the soun',
    Went in an' out, an' droo an' roun',
    An' kick'd, an' beät the tuèn down,
    A-laughèn, maïd an' man.

    An' then a maïd, all up tip-tooe,
    Vell down; an' woone o'm wi' his shoe
    Slit down her pocket-hole in two,
    Vrom top a-most to bottom.
    An' when they had a-danc'd enough,
    They got a-plaÿèn blindman's buff,
    An' sard the maïdens pretty rough,
    When woonce they had a-got em.

    An' zome did drink, an' laugh, an' roar,
    An' lots o' teäles they had in store,
    O' things that happen'd years avore
    To them, or vo'k they know'd.
    An' zome did joke, an' zome did zing,
    An' meäke the girt wold kitchen ring;
    Till uncle's cock, wi' flappèn wing,
    Stratch'd out his neck an' crow'd.

    To these Barnes has added " A Zong of the Harvest Home " (p. 80), of which the refrain to each of the six verses is:
    "The happy zight—the merry night—
    The men's delight—the Harvest Hwome."
    Again, many years later, in his " Fore-say " to this work, Barnes speaks of the decline of the old-time celebrations of this festival. He says: "The feasts of Harvest-Home in which the work-folk were invited to
    'the hall
    where beards wagged all,—'(Thomas Tusser: Five Hundred Points of Husbandry)
     to share of mirth and meat under the smiles of the master and mistress, as tokens of approbation of their work, are now less customary than they formerly were, as in these commercial days it seems to be felt that the clock measures all the workman owes his master and the paytable all that the master owes to him."

    As Brand says (i, 443), " Different places adopt different ceremonies " ; but that which seems to me to conform most to the Dorset ritual on these occasions is that of " crying the knack ", or " neck ", in the neighbouring counties of Devon and Cornwall, and in which there seems not only a strong affinity but traces of considerable antiquity. (Conf. Shropshire Folk-lore, pp372-3)


    In 1873 I contributed an article to Notes and Queries (Ser. iv, xii, 491), describing " A Dorsetshire Harvest-Home " in West Dorset, which I had recently attended, and this I now reproduce :

    "It was my good fortune to be present in September last at one of those old-fashioned gatherings in the West of Dorset, a harvest-home, and I thought that perhaps an account of such a quaint and time-honoured custom might not be unacceptable to some among the readers of ' N. and Q.', especially as these congenial meetings are becoming scarcer year by year and ere long bid fair to rank amongst the things that have been. Small sums of money are now in many places given to the men, women, and boys instead of the usual supper, a practice that I am sorry to say seems to be on the increase, and which I here offer up my voice to protest against.


    " I say 'sorry', first, because it denotes a departure from old customs, and, secondly, because the purpose for which the alteration is intended is, it seems to me, but very imperfectly carried out. At the time of such a general holiday in the parish the labourers of one farm do not seem willing to disperse quietly to their own homes and husband the few shillings they may have received as 'largess', whilst their fellows are enjoying themselves on another farm ; but rather to keep up a harvest-home of their own in the village ale-house, though, I need scarcely say, not of so orderly a character as that of the bond fide supper ; and which, to tell the truth, they themselves much prefer, for a ' Dorsetshire labourer ', though he may be poor, is none the less Conservative.

    "On the day appointed for the celebration of the harvest, the labourers from the several farms attended afternoon service in the parish church, dressed in their best clothes, the church being decorated in the usually seasonable manner. The entrance-gates of the principal farms were likewise decorated with an arch of evergreen, flowers, corn, etc., crowned with a sickle and scythe swathed in bands of wheat barley, the whole surmounted by appropriate mottoes.
     

    "In the evening tables were laid out in the kitchen of a size sufficient to accommodate the men, women, boys and girls employed on the farm, the ' master ', assisted by such members of his family as might be, sitting at their head and carving a grand rump of Old English beef.
     

    "As soon as the company had partaken of as much beef and plum-pudding as was considered desirable an adjournment was made to a large tree that stood near the homestead, where the following quaint custom—peculiar, I was informed, to the west of Dorset—took place. (it would seem to be somewhat similiar to the custom of 'crying the knack', which obtains to Devon and Cornwall)

    "The men formed themselves into a circle, and each taking off his hat and holding it out in front of him, stooped to the ground; then, led by one standing in the centre, chanted the words : ' We have 'em ' (or ' 'en'). The first word, ' We/ is commenced in a very low tone, the men the while slowly and gradually raising themselves up, and so prolonged till they have almost reached their full height. They close the sentence by saying ' have 'em ' more quickly. This is done three times. They then shout ' Huzza ! ' once. Again they stoop down and go the same performance ; finishing up this time with two ' huzzas'. This is repeated once more, and finally wound up by huzzaing three times. As soon as the men have finished the women come forward and go through the same ceremony. This, when well performed, a not altogether unimpressive or unmusical effect. The words, I believe, bear reference to the conclusion of the harvest and the sheaves of corn being satisfactorily ' had ' in.


    "The discharge of small cannon, (the peculiar care of the boys) likewise gave considerable éclat to the whole proceeding. This over, the party returned to the house and entered upon a course of singing and drinking, not unmixed with dancing in the back kitchen.
     

    "The first song was, of course, in honour of the ' meäster ', and unenriched by the Dorset vernacular indulged in by the toast-master, was in the following words :—
    'Here's a health unto our master, 
    The founder of the feast,
    And when that he is dead and gone,
    I hope his soul may rest.
    I wish all things may prosper,
    Whatever he takes in hand.
    For we are all his servants
    And serve at his command.
    So drink, boys, drink!

    And see that you do not spill.
    For if you do,
    You shall drink two,

    "Tis by your master's will.'
     "This song is repeated till everybody present has drunk the health.

    "Then follow the ' healths' of the mistress and various members of the family, to the following words :—

    'Here's Mrs' (or Mr's) good health !
    Let the glass go round
    And the trumpet sound,—
    Huzza !  huzza !  huzza !
    Down fall all the re-bels,
    We long to see the day,—
    Con-fusion unto them
    That set 'em up again !
    Huzza I huzza i  huzza !
    Confusion etc.'
    "This, like the last, was repeated till all had drunk.

    "Then followed the curious and laughable custom of' drinking to your love over the left arm '. Each man, while the following verse was being sung, was obliged to drain his mug or horn-cup of ale by holding it in his right hand, and passing it outside of and over his left arm, which would be thrown across the chest. Great merriment was afforded when some of the older hands, through age or other infirmities failed to accomplish this in a satisfactory manner. The words sung were the following :—

    ' As I was a-riding over a mountain so high
    I saw a pretty girl that plea-sed my eye,
    She plea-sed my eye, but pla-gued my heart;
    From this cup of liquor we never will part;
    'Twill do us no good,—'twill do us no harm.
    "Here's a health to my love, over left arm, over left arm! "
    Here's a health etc.'
    "This was continued till all had satisfactorily passed the crucial test. Songs of a more general character and sundry speeches followed; and eventually the proceedings were brought to a close about midnight by the whole company joining in the National Anthem, ' God Save the Queen.' "

    The following version, similar but less ornate, of the " whooping " ceremony,—as it was called in the district,—was given me as having been performed at a farmhouse in the same neighbourhood as the last. At the end of the harvest a jar of cider or ale and two small cups were taken just outside the yard, when all the labourers would gather in a circle round the jar, which is presided over by the oldest man amongst them, and, taking off their hats and standing in a stooping position, would bow slowly down to the ground, whilst singing in a low, guttural, drawling tone, " We-e-e-e have 'en ! " They then stand upright again and holloa " hurrah " once. This is gone through a second time, when the " hurrah" is given twice. Again, a third repetition, when three " hurrahs " are given. They then have a drink all round; after which they return mostly for songs or dances after supper. I have been told that these cheers were often heard at a distance of a mile or two!

    At the time I sent the above account to Notes and Queries I was not acquainted with Jacob Grimm's Teutonic Mythology—or, rather, Stallybrass's translation of it,—in four volumes, which were not published till 1880-8. After I had read it I was struck by the very strong resemblance to the Dorset " whooping ", as it is called, that exists in the custom of the people in Lower Saxony invoking their great god Woden at the conclusion of the harvest. Grimm states (i, 154) that it is usual to leave a clump of corn standing in a field to Woden for his horse.


    He then describes (p. 156) a custom in Schaumburg where the people, having finished the mowing of the corn, or having purposely left only a small strip standing which they could cut down at a stroke, then at the finish would raise their implements aloft, beating the blades three times with the strop, while each would spill a small quantity of beer on the ground and then drink himself. They would then wave their hats and beat their scythes three times and cry aloud, " Wôld-wôld-wôld" which, Grimm says, a Schaumburg man pronounced as " wauden ". They would then march home shouting and singing. If the ceremony were omitted the next year would bring bad crops of hay and corn.


    It is a pity that Grimm did not know of the custom as existing in western Dorsetshire, which I have described above. I wonder whether he would have agreed with the suggestion that I now venture to make, that the Dorset labourers' cry in this corner of old Wessex of  "We hav'en ", repeated three times, is but a survival of the old invocation to the great god Woden of their Saxon ancestors, still continued from time immemorial at these harvest celebrations but of which the real significance and meaning have been lost.

    Shortly before I left England in 1889 I was anxious to test this resemblance still further, so I invited certain of the farm labourers belonging to the same West Dorset parish—Symondsbury— in which the ceremony had been performed in 1873, after they had attended the now usual harvest festival service at the old parish church, to do their " whooping " on the lawn in front of the Manor House close to the church. They went through it all in much the same way as their predecessors had done, and again the close affinity to what Grimm had related was borne in upon me. Out of compliment to him I added a further Teutonic association that was by no means unacceptable to the performers. I made the men drink the healths from a tall seventeenth century pewter tankard, or loving-cup, with covered lid (of which there were one or two similar ones in the Victoria and Albert Museum at South Kensington), of a capacity of several quarts, which had formerly been the property of some civic company or guild in some German town (to judge from the inscription), this being the first opportunity I had had of putting it to anything approaching its former use. It would be a strange but not inappropriate incident if it should again, after so many years, have assisted in the survival of an ancient Teutonic festivity.
     

    I have since obtained from locally printed sources and otherwise a few songs or verses that were sung at harvest-home gatherings. Several of these, as I have already pointed out, may also have been sung at sheep-shearing feasts in the days when these feasts were more worthy of the name. The main toasts were evidently the same. In particular the one sent by Mr. T. H. Garland to the Dorset County Chronicle (which had reprinted my paper from Notes and Queries), wherein he added that he was a West Dorset man and had for many years witnessed the old customs to which I had alluded.

    The following verse appeared in the Bridport News in 1874 as having been sung at the same place as my account referred to:

    "When the wheat is all ripe the harvest begin,
    The farmer the fruits of the earth gather in ;
    In the mornings as soon as the reap hooks are grind
    We repair to the field for to reap and to bind."
    Another couplet ran :—
    "When the harvest is over to our master's we will steer,
    And wet a good supper with a drink of strong beer."
    The following toast was given by a farm labourer at a harvest home at Blandford in 1849 (" N. & Q.," Ser. v, x, 306. For a more correctly rhyming Worcestershire variant see the same volume, p. 375) :—
    "Horses strong, sheep healthy, 
    Barns full, money plenty."
    A correspondent in Notes and Queries in 1878 (Ser. v, x, 375) speaks to his having heard, some forty years previously, the same refrain
    " Drink, boys, drink, and see you do not spill;
    If you do you shall drink two,
    For 'tis our master's will."
    at a sheep-shearing feast in the lower part of Dorsetshire, when each man was supplied with a small cup of about the third of a pint to drink the customary healths in.

    Forfeits.—Amongst the amusements at harvest home suppers forfeits appear to have been sometimes indulged in (though such games were usually set apart for Christmas), when songs or rhythmic jingles were sung with the object of entrapping the unwary. The following were given me as having been used at harvest homes in the parish of Stoke Abbott, also in West Dorset.

    One of the company leads off with the following rhythmic jingle, followed by the others :—


    "Green grow the leaves on the hawthorn tree,
    Some grow high and some grow low;
    With my ringo and my jingo
    We seldom disagree,
    And the tenor of my song goes merrily—
    And the tenor of my song goes merrily."

    The leader alone then sings :

    " Twenty, nineteen, eighteen—"
    The next one in rotation :
    " Seventeen, sixteen, fifteen—" 
    The next, in their order :
    " Fourteen, thirteen, twelve—"
    " Eleven, ten, nine—"
    " Eight, seven, six—"
    The last in rotation chimes in with " Five, four, three "—and they all add:
    "And the tenor of my song goes merrily."
    When this is done the person next to the leader begins it over again, and it goes on as before, except that when he comes to the figures he starts with " Seventeen, sixteen, fifteen "—the next to him taking it up as before, and so on to the end. This over, the third person in rotation commences the strain, beginning the figures at " Fourteen, thirteen, twelve "—and so on as before until the whole is exhausted.
     

    Should anyone make a mistake in repeating his portion he must pay forfeit, which, on these occasions, generally consists in being made to drink something.

    Here is another one from the same place :— 

    "O splice the cable-rope,
    The rope it is so fine;*
    And with a sugar loaf we'll have
    A glass of currant wine ;
    And if the wine is sharp
    The sugar makes it sweet;
    What greater joy in all the world
    When two sweethearts do meet!
    With my Rider, Ready, Rum,
    My Rider, Ready, Rum,
    So drink half your liquor, boys,
    And say no more than ' Mum '.
    So drink off your liquor, boys,
    And say no more than ' Mum ' !"
    *Possibly a covert allusion to the excellent quality of the hemp grown in the neighbourhood. So highly was it esteemed that a statute, 21 Henry VIII, provided that cables intended for the use of the Royal Navy should be made from hemp grown within a certain radius of Bridport, within which radius the parish of Stoke Abbott is situated.

    The above rhyme is sung by all the company together, after which the leader, and any one who may be initiated in the game, endeavour to entrap the person sitting next them into answering more than the permitted " Mum " by accusing him, truly or otherwise, of having made a mistake in singing or in drinking more than half the liquor at the wrong time, so as to entail a forfeit. The verse is then gone through again, and the next person is interrogated with the like object, and so on in rotation until all have been subjected to the ordeal."

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