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reader, if a true Rambler and lover of nature, will, knowing their cause, pardon these outbursts of joy; and should he feel only a tithe of the pleasure in reading, which I felt in recalling them, he will give them a cordial and hearty welcome. In such hope, to all true Ramblers I cheerfully commend this little book.

J. A. L.








THERE are many of the customs of our forefathers which we should like to revive for our own and our children's good. Unfortunately, in escaping from the evils of the past, we generally travel too far and leave the good behind us also. One of their wise customs, which has long been neglected, and the importance of which we are only now beginning to recognise, was the providing of out-door amusements for the people. All the seasons had their appropriate, harmless, and healthful recreations. On the central green of every village, and on some large space in every town, the May-pole was erected, round which men and women danced to gay and pleasant music, and found enjoyment, sweet social communion, and invigorating exercise at the same time. Then



there were football, morris-dancing, archery, and other genial and generous recreations, which are now, for the most part, but records of the past, to be found only in books devoted to the illustration of the manners and customs of the English in the fifteenth century; but gone for ever from our practice and encouragement.

Besides these national games, every village, hamlet, town, and city, had its own peculiar sports : the local boasts and glories of the people who practised them. To almost every agricultural operation, such as sheepshearing, hop-gathering, harvest-home, &c., was attached a celebration, which, for its noisy mirth, uproarious fun, and unmeasured licence of joy, might be called the British Saturnalia, without the gross vices of the ancient festivals known by that name, and chiefly characterized by the honest hearty cheer of English social meetings. So at Lammas-tide, Easter, Christmas, and the other general holidays, our ancestors entered into the spirit of the festivity more thoroughly, more heartily, more like children, if you will, and therefore to us more wisely than we do now. At such times all the worldly, if necessary, distinc

, tions of rank and caste, and the invidious feelings too often generated by modern exclusiveness, were laid aside; and the rich and the poor, the farmer and his humblest labourer, met on terms of almost primitive equality, and shared in each other's sports and pleasures. In other gatherings, the squire, or the lord of the manor, met his tenants and the

dwellers on his estate, and inquired into their wants, asked their


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