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Of Garlands in Country Churches: Of frawing Flowers on the Grave; the Antiquity of thefe Cuftoms, the Innocency of them.


N fome Country Churches 'tis customary, to hang a Garland of Flowers over the Seats of deceafed Virgins, as a Token of Efteem and Love, and an Emblem of their Reward in the heavenly Church.

This Custom perhaps may be look'd upon, as fprung from that ancient Custom of the Heathens, of crowning their Corps with Garlands in Token of Victory. But Mr. Bingham tells us, That we find not this Cuftom used by the Ancients in their Funeral Rites. For as he obferves, the Heathen in Minutius makes it one Topick of Accufation against them, * That they did not crown their Sepulchres.

But if they did not crown them after the Manner of the Heathens, they had a Custom of using Crowns of Flowers, if we may believe Caffalion, who tells us, † It was a Custom of the ancient Chriftians to place Crowns of

*Min. P. 35. Coronas etiam fepulchris denegatis. Bing. Vol. 10. P. 68.

+ Fuit quoque mos ad capita virginum apponendi florum coronas, &c. Cal. de Vet. Sacr. Chrift. P. 334.

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Flowers, at the Heads of deceased Virgins; for which he quotes Damafcen, Gregory Nyffen, St. Jerom and St. Auftin. And this hath probably been the Original of this Custom among the Vulgar.

That other Custom of ftrawing Flowers upon the Graves of their departed Friends, is alfo derived from a Cuftom of the ancient Church. For it was usual in those Times for the common Sort of People, to straw the Graves of their Friends with various Flowers. Of this there are two notable Instances taken Notice of by Caffalion, and several other Ritualists. The one is that of St. Ambrofe, in his Funeral Oration on the Death of Valentinian, * I will not fprinkle his Grave with Flowers, but pour on his Spirit the Odour of CHRIST. Let others Scatter Baskets of Flowers: CHRIST is our Lilly, and with this will I confecrate his Relicks. The other is that of St. Jerom, in his Epistle to Pammachius upon the Death of his Wife. Whilft other Hufbands strawed Vio

* Nec ego floribus tumulum ejus afperagam, fed spiritum ejus Chrifti odore perfundam; fpargant alii plenis lilia calathis: Nobis lilium eft Chriftus: Hoc reliquias ejus facrabo. Ambrof. Orat. Funebri, ae obitu Valentin

+ Cæteri mariti fuper tumulos conjugum fpargunt violas, rofas, lilia, florefque purpureos, & dolorem pectoris his offi. ciis confolantur; Pammachius nofter fanctam favillam offaque veneranda eleemofyna balfamis rigat. Hieron. Epift. ad Pammachium de obitu Uxoris.


lets, and Rofes, and Lillies, and purple Flowers, upon the Graves of their Wives, and comforted themselves with fuch like Offices, Pammachius bede w'd her Ashes and venerable Bones with the Balfam of Alms.

Now these Instances, tho' they justly commend these other Actions, and wifely prefer them to the Ceremonies of adorning Graves with Flowers, yet they no Way decry these ancient Customs. These lower Marks of Efteem and Honour, which the Vulgar paid to the Remains of their Friends, were in themfelves harmless and innocent, and had no Cenfure; and as they were fo, fo fhould the present Customs be without any, being full as harmless and innocent as the other.





Have seen many of the Garlands our Author here fpeaks of, in Village Churches in the South of England: The Cuftom feems to be entirely laid aside in the North*. It is undoubtedly

*Not entirely-I faw lately, in the Churches of Wolfingham and Stanhope, in the County of Durham Specimens of these Garlands. The form of a Woman's Glove, cut in white Paper, hangs in each of them.


of very high Antiquity.-In the earlier Ages of the Church, Virginity (out of Deference, it should feem, to the Virgin Mother) was honoured with almoft divine Adoration. There is little Doubt but that Nunneries and this Garland claim one common Origin.

Durant tells us, the antient Chriftians, after the Funeral, ufed to fcatter Flowers on the Tomb.-There is a great Deal of Learning in Morefin + above cited, on this Subject.-It appears from Pliny's Natural History, from Cicero in his Oration for Lucius Plancius, and from Virgil's fixth Æneid, that this was a Funeral Rite among the Heathenst. They ufed also to scatter them on the unburied Corps.-Gay describes the strewing on the Grave,


Upon her Grave the Rosemary they threw,

"The Daify, Butter-Flow'r, and Endive blue."

*Condito et curato funere folebant Nonnulli antiquitus tumulum floribus adfpergere. Durant. p. 237.

+ Sepulchra funeralibus expletis quandoque floribus, odoramen. tifque fuiffe fparfa legimus. Idemque mos cum in plerifque Regionibus Italiæ, tum maximè in fubjectis Appennino Collibus, Romandiola alicubi ætate noftra fervatur. Adhibita funt poft funeralia in Templis Ornamenta, Clypei, Corona, et hujufmodi Donaria, quod noftra quoque Etas in nobilibus et honoratis viris fervat.

Morefini Deprav. Rel. Orig. p. 156. Hence our Cuftom of hanging up over the Tombs of Knights, &c. Banners, Spurs, and other Infignia of their Order.

Flores et ferta, educto cadavere" certatim injiciebant Athenienfes. Guichard, lib. 2. cap. 3. Funeral.-Retinent Papani morem. Morefini Deprav. Rel. Orig. p. 62.

Thus alfo our Shakespear:

Our bridal Flow'rs serve for a buried Coarse.

Rom. and Juliet.


Thus alfo the Garland:

"To her fweet Mem'ry flow'ry Garlands ftrung,
"On her now empty Seat aloft were hung

The Custom too, ftill used in the South of England, of fencing the Grave with Ofiers, &c. is added: The Poet glances in the two laft Lines at clerical Oeconomy:

“ With Wicker Rods we fenc'd her Tomb around, "To ward from Man and Beast the hallow'd Ground; "Left her new Grave the Parfon's Cattle raze, "For both his Horfe and Cow the Church-yard graze."* Gay's Dirge.

* Mr. Strutt cites the Bishop of London in his Additions to Camden, telling us, that of old it was ufual to adorn the Graves of the Deceased with Rofes and other Flowers (but more especially thofe of Lovers, round whofe Tombs they often planted Rofe Trees): Some traces (he obferves) of this antient Custom are yet remaining in the Church-yard of Oakley, in Surry, which is full of Rose Trees, planted round the Graves.

Anglo Saxon Æra, Vol. I. p. 69. Mr. Pennant, in his Tour in Scotland, remarks a fingular Custom in many Parts of North Britain, of painting on the Doors and Window-fhutters, white Tadpole-like Figures, on a black Ground; defigned to exprefs the Tears of the Country for the Lofs of any Perfon of Distinction.

Nothing feems to be wanting to render this Mode of expreffing Sorrow compleatly ridiculous, but the fubjoining of a N. B. "Thefe are Tears."


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