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come; and in token thereof receive this cup." Whereupon each herald receives a can of ale; and soon after the whole jovial company comes storming into the farmer's yard, and, riding round the Maypole, which stands in the centre, alight amid a grand salute and flourish of music.
In the hall sits the bride, with a crown upon her head and a tear in her eye, like the Virgin Mary in old church paintings. She is dressed in a red boddice and kirtle, with loose linen sleeves. There is a gilded belt around her waist; and around her neck strings of golden beads, and a golden chain. On the crown rests a wreath of wild roses, and below it another of cypress. Loose over her shoulders falls her flaxen hair; and her blue innocent eyes are fixed upon the ground. O thou good soul! thou hast hard hands, but a soft heart! Thou art poor. The very ornaments thou wearest are not thine. They have been hired for this great day. Yet thou art rich; rich in health, rich in hope, rich in thy first, young, fervent love. The blessing of heaven be upon thee! So thinks the parish priest, as he joins together the hands of bride and bridegroom, saying in deep solemn tones, "I give thee in marriage this damsel, to be thy wedded wife in all honour, and to share the half of thy bed, thy lock and key, and every third penny which you two may possess, or may inherit, and all the rights which Upland's laws provide, and the holy King Erik gave."
The dinner is now served, and the bride sits between the bridegroom and the priest. The spokesman delivers an oration after the ancient custom of his fathers. He interlards it well with quotations from the Bible, and invites the Saviour to be present at this marriagefeast, as he was at the marriage-feast of Cana of Galilee. The table is, not sparingly set forth. Each makes a long arm, and the feast goes cheerly on. Punch and brandy pass round between the courses, and here and there a pipe is smoked, while waiting for the next dish. They sit long at table; but, as all things must have an end, so must a Swedish dinner. Then the dance begins. It is led off by the bride and the priest, who perform a solemn minuet together. Not till after midnight comes the last dance. The girls form a ring around the bride, to keep her from the hands of the married women, who endeavour to break through the magic circle, and seize their new
sister. After long struggling they succeed; and the crown is taken from her head and the jewels from her neck, and her boddice is unlaced and her kirtle taken off; and like a vestal virgin, clad all in white, she goes, but it is to her marriage-chamber, not to her .grave; and the wedding guests follow her with lighted candles in their hands. And this is a village bridal.
Nor must I forget the suddenly changing seasons of the northern clime. There is no long and lingering spring, unfolding leaf and blossom one by one; no long and lingering autumn, pompous with many-coloured leaves and the glow of Indian summers. But winter and summer are wonderful, and pass into each other. The quail has hardly ceased piping in the corn, when winter, from the folds of trailing clouds, sows broad-cast over the land snow, icicles, and rattling hail. The days wane apace. Ere long the sun hardly rises above the horizon, or does not rise at all. The moon and the stars shine through the day; only, at noon, they are pale and wan, and in the southern sky a red, fiery glow, as of sunset, burns along the horizon, and then goes out. And pleasantly under the silver moon, and under the silent solemn stars, ring the steel shoes of the skaters on the frozen sea, and voices, and the sound of bells.
And now the Northern Lights begin to burn, faintly at first, like sunbeams playing in the waters of the blue sea. Then a soft crimson glow tinges the heavens. There is a blush on the cheek of night. The colours come and go, and change from crimson to gold, from gold to crimson. The snow is stained with rosy light. Twofold from the zenith, east and west, flames a fiery sword; and a broad band passes athwart the heavens like a summer sunset. Soft purple clouds come sailing over the sky, and through their vapoury folds the winking stars shine white as silver. With such pomp as this is merry Christmas ushered in, though only a single star heralded the first Christmas. And in memory of that day the Swedish peasants dance on straw, and the peasant girls throw straws at the timbered roof of the hall, and for every one that sticks in a crack shall a groomsman come to their wedding. Merry Christmas indeed! For pious souls there shall be church-songs and sermons, but for Swedish peasants brandy and nut-brown ale in wooden bowls; and the great Yulecake crowned with a cheese, and garlanded with apples, and upholding a three
armed candlestick over the Christmas feast. They may tell tales, too, of Jons Lundsbracka, and Lunkenfus, and the great Riddar-Finke of Pingsdaga*.
And now the glad leafy midsummer, full of blossoms and the song of nightingales, is come! Saint John has taken the flowers and festival of heathen Balder; and in every village there is a Maypole fifty feet high, with wreaths and roses, and ribands streaming in the wind, and a noisy weathercock on top, to tell the village whence the wind cometh and whither it goeth. The sun does not set till ten o'clock at night, and the children are at play in the streets an hour later. The windows and doors are all open, and you may sit and read till midnight without a candle. O how beautiful is the summer night, which is not night, but a sunless yet unclouded day, descending upon earth with dews, and shadows, and refreshing coolness! How beautiful the long mild twilight, which, like a silver clasp, unites to-day with yesterday! How beautiful the silent hour, when morning and evening thus sit together, hand in hand, beneath the starless sky of midnight! From the church-tower in the public square the bell tolls the hour, with a soft musical chime; and the watchman, whose watch-tower is the belfry, blows a blast on his horn for each stroke of the hammer, and four times, to the four corners of the heavens, in a sonorous voice he chants,
"Ho! watchman, ho!
Twelve is the clock !
God keep our town
And hostile hand!
Twelve is the clock !"
From his swallow's nest in the belfry he can see the sun all night long; and farther north the priest stands at his door in the warm midnight, and lights his pipe with a common burning-glass.
124.-AN ELIZABETHAN COUNTRY HOUSE.
SIR JOHN CULLUM.
[THERE is a quarto volume, little known to general readers, entitled The History and Antiquities of Hawsted and Hardwick, in the
*These are names of popular stories.
County of Suffolk.' Yet it is a book full of curious matter, and suggestive of valuable thought. What Gilbert White did for the Natural History of his own parish of Selborne, the Rev. Sir John Cullum, the author of this book, did for the domestic antiquities of his own parish of Hawsted. He looked with the eyes of a scholar and a general observer at the past history, and the existing state, of the various objects by which he was surrounded in the rural district of which he was the chief proprietor as well as the sacred instructor. He describes its natural features, its church, its manorial and other properties, its landed tenures and cultivation; and, by a minute investigation of every parochial record, he brings together a mass of facts that have a far higher interest than the common pedantries of antiquarianism. Sir John Cullum was born in 1733; was, in 1762, presented to the rectory of Hawsted by his father, whom he succeeded in the baronetcy and family estates in 1774; and died in 1785.]
Its situation, as of many old seats in this neighbourhood, is on an eminence, gently sloping towards the south. The whole formed a quadrangle, two hundred and two by two hundred and eleven feet within; an area formerly called the Base Court, afterwards the Court Yard. Three of the sides consisted of barns, stables, a mill-house, slaughterhouse, blacksmith's shop, and various other offices, which Harrison, in his description of Britain, tells us, began in this reign to be thrown to a greater distance from the principal house than they were in the time of Henry VIII. The entrance was by a gate-house in the centre of the south side, over which were chambers for carters, &c. This was afterwards laid open, and fenced with iron palisades. The mansion-house, which was also a quadrangle, formed the fourth side, standing higher than the other buildings, and detached from them by a wide moat, faced on all its banks with bricks, and surrounded by a handsome terrace, a considerable part of which commanded a fine view of the surrounding country, and bespoke a taste superior to the artificial mount, which in many old gardens was to be clambered up for the sake of the prospect. The approach to the house was by a flight of steps, and a strong brick bridge of three arches, through a small jealous wicket, formed in the great well-timbered gate, that rarely grated on its hinges.
Immediately upon your peeping through the wicket, the first object that unavoidably struck you was a stone figure of Hercules, as it was called, holding in one hand a club across his shoulders, the other rest
ing on one hip, discharging a perennial stream of water into a carved stone bason. On the pedestal of the statue is preserved the date 1578, which was the year the queen graced this house with her presence; so that doubtless this was one of the embellishments bestowed upon the place against the royal visit. A fountain was generally (yet surely injudiciously in this climate) esteemed a proper ornament for the inner court of a great house. This, which still continues to flow, was supplied with water by leaden pipes, at no small expense, from a pond near half a mile off.
This inner court, as it was called, in which this statue stood, and about which the house was built, was an area of fifty-eight feet square. The walls of the house within it were covered with the pyracantha (Mespilus pyracantha) of venerable growth, which, with its evergreen leaves, enlivened with clusters of scarlet berries, produced in winter a very agreeable effect.
Having crept through the wicket before mentioned, a door in the gateway on the right conducted you into a small apartment, called the smoking-room; a name it acquired probably soon after it was built, and which it retained, with good reason, as long as it stood. There is scarcely any old house without a room of this denomination. In these, our ancestors, from about the middle of the reign of Elizabeth till within almost every one's memory, spent no inconsiderable part of their vacant hours, residing more at home than we do, and having fewer resources of elegant amusement. At one period at least, this room was thought to be the scene of wit; for in 1688, Mr. Hervey, afterwards Earl of Bristol, in a letter to Mr. Thomas Cullum, desires" to be remembered by the witty smokers at Hausted." Adjoining to this was a large wood-closet, and a passage that led to the dining-room, of moderate dimensions, with a large buffet. These occupied half the south front. At the end of the dining-room was originally a cloister, or arcade, about forty-five feet long, fronting the east, and looking into a flower garden within the walls of the moat. The arches were afterwards closed up and glazed, and a parlour made at one end. There are few old mansions without one or more of these sheltered walking places; and they certainly had their use: but this age of list, sandbags, and carpets, that dreads every breath of air as if it were a pestilence, shudders at the idea of such a body of the element being admitted into any part of a dwelling. This cloister was terminated by