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And though the parish steeple
Ring thou it holyday.
Their noises forth in thunder, As fearful to awake This city, or to shake
Their guarded gates asunder? -
With beatings of our drums.
With touch of dainty thumbs.
That when the quire is full
The angels from their spheres
Whilst it the ditty hears.
And sister to just Lewis,
And of her father's prowess.
This sea-girt isle upon,
Had got the cestus on!
See, see ! our active king
Upon his pointed lance;
“Hey for the Flower of France !”
And with a reverent fear.
this crowned day
Two years later we have this by Ben Jonson :
TO THE KING ON HIS BIRTHDAY, 1632. This is King Charles his day ; speak it, thou Tower,
Unto the ships, and they, from tier to tier, Discharge it 'bout the island in an hour,
As loud as thunder and as swift as fire. Let Ireland meet it out at sea, half
way, Repeating all Great Britain's joy, and more, Adding her own glad accents to this day,
Like echo playing from the other shore.
The poetry of steeples, with the bells,
Made lighter with the wine. All noises else,
* A favourite sport at festivals was this of “ riding at the ring.” Two perpendicular posts were erected, with a beam, from which a ring was suspended. The competitors, each mounted on horseback, and having a lance or pointed rod in his hand, galloped at full speed between the posts, and whoever carried away the ring on the point of his lance won the prize.
As bonfires, rockets, fireworks, with the shouts
Thatcry that gladness which their hearts would pray, Had they but grace of thinking, at these routs,
On the often coming of this holy day; And ever close the burden of the song, Still to have such a Charles, but this Charles long.
And later still, this, Ben Jonson's last offering to the same sovereign, Charles I., when the aged laureate was near the close of his earthly career :
ON THE KING'S BIRTHDAY.
Though now our green conceits be grey ;
To take thy Phrygian harp and play,
In honour of this cheerful day.
Which chastely flames in royal eyes;
When the benignest stars do rise,
And sweet conjunctions grace the skies,
Whilst diadems invest his head:
More than his laws, and better led
By high example than by dread.
His roses and his lilies blown;
Joy in ideas of their own
And kingdom's hopes, so timely sown.
Soon after Ben Jonson's death, Sir William Davenant wrote the following courtly sonnet to the consort of Charles I.:
TO THE QUEEN,
ENTERTAINED AT NIGHT BY THE COUNTE3S OF ANGLESEY.
Fair as unshaded light, or as the day
here? Here, where the summer is so little seen That leaves, her cheapest wealth, scarce reach at
green ; You come, as if the silver planet were Misled awhile from her much-injured sphere; And, tease the travels of her beams to-night, In this small lanthorn would contract her light.
That admired court poet, Waller, celebrated the twenty-fifth birthday of Catherine of Braganza, the queen
of Charles II. “On St. Catherine's day, the day her Majesty completed her twenty-fifth year, Mrs. Knight sang to her the following graceful birthday ode:”_
This happy day two lights are seen-
May all those years which Catherine
your blest life among us here !
And all the torments of her wheel,
May heaven itself content
With Catherine the saint!
An hundred times may you,
With eyes as bright as now, This happy day behold! I must not omit Waller's praise of tea as a birthday beverage in palaces (in his time it was a novelty) :
The best of queens and best of herbs we owe
Thackeray, speaking of the customs of the last century, says :-“New clothes on the birthday was the fashion for all loyal people. Swift mentions the custom several times; Walpole is constantly speaking of it, laughing at the practice, but having the very finest clothes from Paris nevertheless. If the king and queen were unpopular, there were very few new clothes at the drawing-room. In a paper in the True Patriot, No. 3, written to attack the
* The Dutch, who first imported tea into Europe.