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EEIGN OF ELIZABETH.                                                133
towns make excursions into the country, and having cut down a tall elm, brought it into town, fitted a straight and taper pole to the end of it, and painted the same, erect it in the most public places, and on holidays and festivals adorn it with flower garlands, or insigns and streamers."
Philip Stubbes, the puritan, who declaims as vehemently against May-games as against dancing, minstrelsy, and other sports and amusements, thus describes " the order of their May-games " in this reign. " Against May, Whitsuntide, or some other time of the year, every parish, town, and village, assemble themselves together, both men, women, and children; and either all together, or dividing themselves into companies, they go, some to the woods and groves, some to the hills and mountains, some to one place, some to another, and in the morning they return, bringing with them birch, boughs, and branches of trees, to deck their assemblies withal. . . . But their chiefest jewel they bring from thence is their May-pole, which they bring home with great veneration, as thus: they have twenty or forty yoke of oxen, every ox having a sweet nosegay of flowers tied to the tip of his horns; and these oxen draw home this May-pole, (this stinking idol rather), which is covered all over with flowers and herbs, bound round about with strings, from the top to the bottom, and sometime painted with variable colours, with two or three hundred men, women, and children, follow­ing it with great devotion. And thus, being reared up, with handkerchiefs and flags streaming on the top, they strew the ground about, bind green boughs about it, set up summer halls, bowers, and arbours, hard by it; and then fall they to banquet and feast, to leap and dance about it, as the heathen people did at the dedication of their idols, whereof this is a perfect pattern, or rather the thing itself."—(Anatomie of Abuses, reprint of 1585 edit., p. 171.)
Browne, also, has given a similar description of the May-day rites, in his Britannia's Pastorals, book ii., song 4:—
" As I have seen the Lady of the May
Sit in an arbour, ....
Built by a May-pole, where the jocund swains
Dance with the maidens to the bagpipe's strains,
When envious night commands them to be gone,
Call for the merry youngsters one by one,
And, for their well performance,' she' disposes
To this a garland interwove with roses;
To that a carved hook, or well-wrought scrip;
Gracing another with her cherry lip:
To one her garter; to another, then,
A handkerchief, cast o'er and o'er again;
And none returneth empty, that hath spent
His pains to fill their rural merriment." The Morris-dance, when performed on May-day, and not connected with the Games of Kobin Hood, usually consisted of the Lady of the May, the fool or jester, a piper, and two, four, or more, morris-dancers. But, on other occasions, the hobby­horse, and sometimes a dragon, with Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Friar Tuck, Little John, and other characters supposed to have been the companions of that famous

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III