Popular Music Of The Olden Time Vol 1

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132                                        MORRIS-DANCE AND MAY-DAY.
the day long: and towards the evening they had stage-plays and bonfires in the streets. . . .These great Mayings and May-games, made by the governors and masters of this city, with the triumphant setting up of the great shaft (a principal Maypole in Cornhill, before the parish church of St. Andrew, which, from the pole being higher than the steeple itself, was, and still is, called St. Andrew Under-shaft), by means of an insurrection of youths against aliens on May-day, 1517,a the ninth of Henry the Eighth, have not been so freely used as afore."—Survey of London, 1598, p. 72.
The celebration of May-day may be traced as far back as Chaucer, " who, in the conclusion of his Court of Love, has described the Feast of May, when—" " Forth go'th all the court, both most and least,
To fetch the floures fresh, and brauncli "and bloom—
And namely hawthorn brought, both page and groom ;
And they rejoicen in their great delight;
Eke each at other throw the floures bright,
The primerose, the violete, and the gold,
With freshe garlants party blue and white."
Henry the Eighth appears to have been particularly attached to the exercise of archery, and the observance of May. " Some short time after his coronation," says Hall, " he came to Westminster, with the queen, and all their train: and on a time being there, his grace, the Earls of Essex, Wiltshire, and other noblemen, to the number of twelve, came suddenly in a morning into the queen's chamber, all appareled in short coats of Kentish Kendal, with hoods on their heads, and hosen of the same, every one of them his bow and arrows, and a sword and buckler, like outlaws or Robin Hood's men; whereof the queen, the ladies, and all other there, were abashed, as well for the strange sight, as also for their sudden coming: and, after certain dances and pastime made, they departed."— Hen. VIII, fo. 6, b. The same author gives a curious account of Henry and Queen Catherine going a Maying.
Bourne, in his Antiquitates Vulgares, says, " On the Calends, or first day of May, commonly called May-day, the juvenile part of both sexes were wont to rise a little before midnight and walk to some neighbouring wood, accompanied with music, and the blowing of horns, where they brake down branches from the trees, and adorn them with nosegays and crowns of flowers. When this is done, they return with their booty homewards, about the rising of the sun, and make their doors and windows to triumph in the flowery spoil. The after part of the day is chiefly spent in dancing round a tall pole, they call a May-pole; which being placed in a convenient part of the village, stands there, as it were consecrated to the goddess of flowers, without the least violence offered it in the whole circle of the year." Borlase, in his Natural History of Cornwall, tells us, " An ancient custom, still retained by the Cornish, is that of decking their doors and porches, on the first of May, with green sycamore and hawthorn boughs, and of planting trees, or rather stumps of trees, before their houses: and on May-eve, they from
» The "story of 111 May-day, in the time of Henry the the subject of an old ballad in Johnson's Crown Garland Eight, and why it is so called; and bow-Queen Catherine of Golden Roset, and has been reprinted in Evans' Old begged the lives of two thousand London apprentices," is Halladx, vol. iii. p. 76, edition of 1810.