« ÎnapoiContinuați »
AN ARTIFICIAL SOVEREIGN.
successor, was, in her own words, 'to pin up her windingsheet before her.'
It will sometimes happen that, spite of the surplus of royal nymphs, a hive is unexpectedly bereft of its sovereign when there is no successor to supply her place. How then do the people act? Why, in such a strait they
make a queen.
“For the space of several hours grief and consternation prevail, after which the mourning, but not despairing, people bestir themselves to supply her place. Let us watch their proceedings. Surely they are bereft not only of their sovereign but of their senses, and in a fit of frenzy are making havoc in the streets of this well-ordered city! Several parties are here and there attacking the six-sided houses, hastily pulling down their waxen walls, regardless of the young that lie cradled therein; out of perhaps four or five of these unhappy nurslings, all but one are sacrificed by those who had heretofore been their careful nurses ; but for this one, still in its infant or grub estate, a changed and brilliant destiny is in store. Save for the unlooked-for accident which has left the throne without an occupant, this low-born bee would have left her narrowed cell in form and colour like her working sisterhood; but now, her body will be expanded, her colours brightened, her wings and her instinctive virtues alone curtailed.
" The first process of her manufacture is begun by the destruction going on around her. Her narrow lodging has been converted into a spacious chamber, allowing scope for her bodily expansion, and soon will numerous nurses be busy cramming her with that nutritious, stimulating substance, called 'royal-jelly.' Thence, in due season, in about ten days or thereabouts, out will come an artificial sovereign, in all respects as good as ever issued from a royal egg." And now having concluded the above poetical and almost fabulously singular narrative, let us turn to a poetical yet really much more prosaic picture of Beelife.
TO A BEE.
Thou wert out betimes, thou busy, busy Bee !
As abroad I took my early way,
On the meadow, with dew so grey,
After the fall of the Cistus flower;
In the silence of the evening hour,
Late and early at employ;
What thy winter will never enjoy ;
What is the end of thy toil.
Thy master comes for the spoil:
ANTIQUARIAN MONTH. May was called by our Saxon ancestors Tri-milki, because in that time they began to milk their kine three times in
Every year on this day met the folkmote of our Saxon ancestors—the annual parliament, as it is explained by Spelman, or convention of the bishops, thanes, aldermen, and freemen, in which the laymen having first sworn to defend one another, and conjointly with the king maintain the laws of the realm, then proceeded to consult about the common safety.
The modern name of the month is from the Latin Maius, or Majus, which itself has been variously derived, and occasioned much dispute, as Macrobius tells us, amongst the
Roman writers. According to one account, it was called Majus, from Majores, the elders, just as the month of June. had its name from Juniores, the younger, these appellations having been respectively given in honour of the two great masses into which Romulus had divided the Roman people, -namely, the elders and the juniors,—the one being appointed to maintain the republic by their counsels, and the other by their arms. Cincius, however, imagines that the name was derived from Maia, whom he calls the wife of Vulcan, while Piso contends that the goddess in question was called Majesta, and not Maia, whom others call the mother of Mercury. Some again derive it from Jupiter, called, Majus, from his majesty; and not a few have maintained that the Maia, to whom sacrifices were made in May, was the earth, so named from its magnitude, as in the sacred rites she is called Mater Magna, the Great Mother. The plain inference from all these augmentary suppositions is, that neither Varro, nor Cincius, nor Macrobius, nor any of the authors cited by him, knew a jot more of the matter than ourselves.
The festival of May-day has existed in this country, though its form has often changed, from the earliest times : and we find abundant traces of it both in our poets and old chroniclers. Tollet imagines that it originally came from our Gothic ancestors; and certainly, if that is to be taken for a proof, the Swedes and Goths welcomed the first of May with songs and dance, and many rustic sports ; but, there is only a general, not a particular, likeness between our May-day festivities and those of our Gothic ancestors. Others again have sought for the origin of our customs in the Floralia, or rather
in the Maiuma of the Romans, which were established at a later period under the Emperor Claudius, and differed perhaps but little from the former, except in being more decent.
But though it may at first seem probable that our Maygames may have come immediately from the Floralia, or Maiuma of the Romans, there can be little question that their final origin must be sought in other countries, and far remoter periods. Maurice says, and I have no doubt truly, that our May-day festival is but a repetition of the phallic festivals of India and Egypt, which in those countries took
place upon the sun entering Taurus, to celebrate nature's renewed fertility. Dallos in Greek signifies a pole, in addition to its more important meaning, of which this is the type : and in the precession of the equinoxes and the changes of the calendar we shall find an easy solution of any apparent inconsistencies arising from the difference of For obvious reasons,
I can do no more than hint at these mysteries, which besides would require a volume for their full discussion.
That the May festival has come down to us from the Druids, who themselves had it from India, is proved by many striking facts and coincidences, and by none more than the vestiges of the God, Bel, the Apollo or Orus of other nations. The Druids celebrated his worship on the first of May, by lighting immense fires in honour of him upon the various carns, and hence the day is called by the aboriginal Irish and the Scotch Highlanders—both remnants of the Celtic stock—“la Bealtine," "Bealtaine," or "Beltine," that is, the day of Belen's fire; for, in the Cornish, which is a Celtic dialect, we find that “tan” is fire, and to tine, signifies to light the fire. The Irish still retain the Phænician custom of lighting fires at short distances, and making the cattle pass between them. Fathers too, taking their children in their arms, jump or run through them, thus passing the latter, as it were, through the flames, the very practice so expressly condemned in Scripture.* But even this custom appears to have been only a substitute for the atrocious sacrifice of children, as practised by the elder Phænicians. The God, Saturn—that is, Moloch-was represented by a statue bent slightly forward, and so placed that the least weight was sufficient to alter its position. Into the arms of this idol the priest gave the child to be sacrificed, when, its balance being thus destroyed, it flung, or rather dropt, the victim into a fiery furnace that blazed below. If other proof were wanting of Eastern origin, we might find them in the fact that Britain was called by the earlier inhabitants the " Island of Beli,” † and that Bel had
* “ And made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abomination of the heathen," 2 Kings xvi. 3.
+ Thus in one of the Welsh Triads, a collection of aphorisms, supposed to be of great antiquity, we read : “sincerely I worship thee, Beli, giver of good, and Manbogan the king, who preserves the honours of Bel, the island of Beli." Davies' “ Celtic Researches," p. 191, 8vo, London, 1806.
also the name of Hu, a word which we see again occurring in the Huli festival of India.
“ In the moneth of May,” says Stow," namely, on Mayday in the morning, every man, except impediment, would walke into the sweete meadows and greene woods, there to rejoyce their spirites with the beauty and savour of sweete flowers, and with the harmony of birds praysing God in their kind; and for example hereof Edward Hall hath noted that K. Henry the Eight, as in the 3 of his reigne and divers other years, so namely on the seventh of his reigne on May-day in the morning, with Queene Katheren bis wife, accompanied with many Lords and Ladies, rode a Maying from Greenwitch to the high ground of Shooter's hill, where, as they passed by the way, they espied a company of tall yeomen clothed all in Greene, with greene whoodes and with bowes and arrowes to the number of 100. One being their chieftaine was called Robin Hoode, who required the king and his companie to stay and see his men shoote, whereunto the king graunting, Robin Hoode whistled, and all the 200 archers shot off losing all at once; and when he whistled againe, they likewise shot againe ; their arrowes whistled by craft of the head, so that the noyse was strange and loude, which greatly delighted the king, queene, and their companie."
The next class of May-day festivals to be considered is the Morris-dance, of which Robin Hood and his companions often, but not always, nor of necessity, formed the principal characters. It is generally supposed to be of Moorish origin, and to be derived to us from Spain. Hence its name. And in confirmation of this opinion we are told by Junius, that at one time the dancers blackened their faces to resemble Moors. The principal characters of it generally, though not always, were Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Scarlet, Stokesley, Little John, the Hobby Horse, the Bavian or Fool, Tom the Piper, with his pipe and tabor, the Dragon, of which last we have no mention before the time of the fanatic Stubbes—that is, not before 1585. But it must be distinctly understood that the number of characters