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is, four days before the calends of May. These prophetic books had a college of priests appointed to undertake the charge of them, and were held in such reverence that they were never consulted but when the state seemed in danger, and then it was done with the greatest solemnity.

From the writings of Pliny the Elder, we learn that the worship of this goddess had been greatly neglected, and that it was not until after some unfruitful seasons that the Sibylline books were consulted, which ordained that the feast of Flora should be celebrated with regularity so as to ensure the well flowering and kindly shedding of the blossoms of all species of plants.

Let one great day
To celebrate sports and floral play
Be set aside.

PRIOR.

This festival was introduced into Britain by the Romans, as we have already noticed in the Sylva Florifera ; to which we shall add, that as late as the time of Henry VIII. it was so much the fashion for the citizens of London to keep up this ancient custom, by

diverting themselves in the neighbouring woods and meadows on May-day, that in the year 1515 it engaged the attention of this bluff monarch, who, accompanied by his Queen, and attended by the court, rode amaying from Greenwich to Shooter's-hill.

When merry May first early calls the morn,
With merry maids a-maying they do go.

Sidney.

In this morning's excursion, their Majesties were designedly met by two hundred yeomen, clad in green, with green hoods, and furnished with bows and arrows, the whole being under the direction of a captain, named Robin Hood, who invited his Majesty to stop and see his men shoot, which they performed with great dexterity at the sound of their captain's whistle. Their arrows were so contrived at the head, that, when flying through the air, they made a loud whistling noise, that greatly delighted the royal party, who were afterwards conducted to the 'greenwood, and entertained plentifully with wine and venison, under arbours formed of boughs, and decorated with flowers.-Hall's Chronicle.

Shakspeare notices with what eagerness the pleasures of May-day morning were entered into in his time :

'Tis as much impossible,
Unless we swept them from the door with cannons,
To scatter 'em, as 'tis to make 'em sleep

On May-day morning.
Pope refers to the May-pole in London-

Amid the area wide she took her stand,

Where the tall May-pole once o'erlook'd the Strand. Of these festivities we have so nearly lost all remains, that even the dance around the May-pole is now rarely seen in our villages; and were it not for the garlands which the cottager's children bear from door to door, in modern dulness, we might outlive the memory of this ancient festival, whilst in the metropolis it is totally disregarded, excepting by the chimney-sweepers, who now usurp this holiday as their exclusive right *

Poets of all ages have sung the joys of this flowery month. Milton exclaims,

* It is related of the famous wit George Selwyn, that walking one May-day through the streets of London, and observing the chimney-sweepers bedizened in all their sooty finery, he observed to a friend, that “ he had often heard talk of the Majesty of the people, and supposed these were some of the young princes.”

Hail! bounteous May, that doth inspire
Mirth and youth, and warm desire ;
Woods and groves are of thy dressing,

Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing. In eastern nations flowers and perfumes have been considered as one of the indispensable enjoyments of the higher classes of society, from the remotest antiquity. From those nations the Romans appear to have borrowed this delicate refinement, and to have carried it to the utmost excess in their costly entertainments. They soon began to consider flowers as forming a very essential article in their festal preparations; and it is the opinion of Baccius, that at their desserts the number of their flowers far exceeded that of their fruits. The odour of flowers was thought to arouse the fainting appetite, and they certainly must have added an ethereal enjoyment to the grosser pleasures of their banqueting boards.

Flowers were not only used as a stimulus to the palate, or that two senses might be gratified at one time, but it was thought that certain plants and flowers facilitated the functions of the brain, and assisted materially to neutralise the inebriating qualities of wine. Even the warriors did not hesitate to crown themselves with flowers during their principal repast.

Horace, it seems, could not sit down to his bachelor's glass of wine without his garland. His lively little ode at the end of his first book is thus well translated by Francis

I tell thee, boy, that I detest
The grandeur of a Persian feast;
Nor for me the Linden's rind
Shall the flowery chaplet bind.
Then search not where the curious Rose
Beyond his season loitering grows ;
But beneath the mantling vine,
While I quaff the flowing wine,
The Myrtle's wreath shall crown our brows,
While you shall wait and I carouse.

The allusion to Persia in this Ode confirms our idea that the taste for flowers came to Rome from the East; and garlands were suspended at the gates or in the temples where feasts or solemn rejoicings were held, and at all places where public joy and gaiety were desired. It was also the custom to place garlands and festoons of flowers on the heads of victims, in the ancient sacrifices, at which

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