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covered by it. The diameter of the ground overspread by its branches is fifty-three feet, its trunk eleven feet in circumfe
From the best information it cannot be under two hundred years old. It seems rather more probable to be between three hundred and four hundred years old.” Ibid. xvi. 111: “Two yew-trees at Ballikinrain, parish of Killearn, co. of Stirling, at a distance like one tree, cover an area of eighteen yards diameter.” Ibid. xviii. 328: “There is a yew-tree in the garden of Broich, parish of Kippen, counties of Perth and Stirling. The circumference of the circle overspread by the lower branches is a hundred and forty feet. It is sapposed to be two hundred or three hundred years old.”
The following song in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, act i. sc. 4 (of which our poet gives this character
“Mark it, Cesario; it is old and plain :
The spinsters and the knitters in the sun,
Do use to chant it;"-)
“Come away, come away, death,
Fly away, fly away, breath :
O, prepare it;
Did share it.
&c. &c. And here the reader must be again reminded that in whatever country Shakespeare lays the scene of his drama, he follows the costume of his own. There is another song of like import in Ritson's Songs, 1790, p. 197, from the Maid's Tragedy, by Beaumont and Fletcher, 1619:
“ Lay a garland on my hearse,
Of the dismal yew ;
Say I died true.
From my hour of birth :
Lightly, gentle earth !"
In Poole's English Parnassus, the yew has the epithets of “ warlick, dismal, fatal, mortal, venemous, unhappy, verdant, deadly, deadful,” annexed to it: these are all from old English poets. Chaucer, in his Assemblie of Foules, calls it the shooter ewe.” The yew-tree is thus mentioned in Love's Festivall at Lust's Funerall, at the end of “a Boulster Lecture,” 1640:
“The screch owle frights us not, nor the towling bell
Summons our vading-startling ghosts to hell.
'Cause Vertue was our gole, her praise our prize." The following is from Herrick's Hesperides, p. 27:
“An' look, what smallage, night-shade, cypresse, yew,
Unto the shades have been, or now are due,
Here I devote." Ibid. p. 126: “To the yew and cypresse to grace his funerall :"
“ Both you two have
And where The fun’ral trump sounds, you are there." In Gayton's Art of Longevity, 1659, p. 58, is the following passage alluding to St. Paul's Churchyard having been turned into a herb market:
“ The ewe, sad box, and cypress (solemn trees),
Give place to sallads,” &c. A credible person, who was born and brought up in a village in Suffolk, informed me that when he was a boy, it was customary there to cut sprigs and boughs of yew-trees to strew on the graves, &c. at rustic funerals. In Coles's Introduction to the Knowledge of Plants, 1656, p. 59, is an account of “the leaves of yew-trees poisoning a clergyman's cowes that eat them, who, seeing some boyes breaking boughs from the yewtree in the churchyard, thought himselfe much injured. To prevent the like trespasses, he sent one presently to cut downe the tree, and to bring it into his back yard.” Two of the cows feeding upon the leaves died in a few hours afterwards ; and Coles remarks that the clergyman had a just reward.
In Collinson's History of Somersetshire, i. 13, speaking of two very large yew-trees in the churchyard at Ashill, the author observes in a note, that “our forefathers were particularly careful in preserving this funereal tree, whose branches it was usual for mourners to carry in solemn procession to the grare, and afterwards,” as has been already noticed, “ to deposit therein under the bodies of their departed friends.
The branches thus cut off from their native stock, which was to shoot forth again at the returning spring, were beautifully emblematical of the resurrection of the body, as, by reason of their perpetual verdure, they were of the immortality of the soul.”
And as the carrying of these evergreens is an emblem of the soul's immortality, so it is also of the resurrection of the body: for as these herbs are not entirely plucked up, but only cut down, and will at the returning season revive and spring up again; so the body, like them, is but cut down for a while, and will rise and shoot up again at the resurrection. For, in the language of the evangelical prophet, our bones shall flourish like an herb.
Bourne cites Gregory, c. 26, as observing, that it was customary among the ancient Jews, as they returned from the grave, to pluck up the grass two or three times, and then throw it behind them, saying these words of the Psalmist
, “ They shall flourish out of the city, like grass upon the earth,' which they did to show that the body, though dead, should spring up again as the grass.
1 Levi, describing the rites and ceremonies of the Jews as they exist at present, says, p. 169: “The corpse is carried forward to the grave and interred by some of the society; and as they go forth from the burying ground, they pluck some grass and say, “They shall spring forth from the city, as the grass of the earth :' meaning at the day of the resur. rection."
MUSIC AT FUNERALS, &c
Various are the proofs of the ancient custom of carrying out the dead with psalmody in the primitive church ;' in imitation of which it is still customary in many parts of this nation to carry out the dead with singing of psalms and hymns of triumph, to show that they have ended their spiritual warfare, that they have finished their course with joy, and are become conquerors. This exultation, as it were, for the conquest of their deceased friend over hell, sin, and death, vas the great ceremony used in all funeral processions among the ancient Christians.
In Pilkington's Burnynge of Paules Church, 1561, we read: “In burialls we do not assemble a number of priestes to swepe purgatorye, or bye forgivenes of synnes of them whiche have no authoritye to sell, but accordinge to Saint Jerom's example we followe. At the death of Fabiola, sais he, the people of Ro. were gathered to the solemnite of the buriall. Psalmes were songe, and Alleluia sounding oute on height, did shake the gildet celinges of the temple. Here vas one companye of yonge menne and there another which did singe the prayses and worthy dedes of the woman. And no mervaile if men rejoyce of her salvation, of whose conversion th' angelles in heaven be glad. Thus Jerom used burialls.”
Stopford, in his Pagano-Papismus, p. 282, says: “The heathens sang their dead to their graves, or places of burial. Alex. ab Alexandro, Gen. Dier. lib. iii. cap. 7. And Macrobius affirms, that this custom was according to the institutions of several nations, and grounded upon this reason, because they believed that souls after death returned to the original of musical sweetness, that is heaven : and therefore in this life every soul is taken with musical sounds, &c. In Somn. Scipion. lib. ii. cap. 3. Other reasons are assigned by Kirkman,
Bourne (chap. iii.) cites Socrates, telling us " that when the body of Babylas the martyr was removed by the order of Julian the Apostate, the Christians, with their women and children, rejoiced and sung psalıns all the way as they bore the corpse from Dauphne to Antioch. Thus was Paula buried at Bethlehem, and thus did St. Anthony bury Paul the hermite."
and several authorities urged for this custom : De Funeribus Roman. lib. ii. cap. 4.”!
I find the following passage in a rare book, entitled, Greene in Conceipt, 1598, p. 43: “It is a custome still in use with Christians, to attend the funerall of their deceased friendes with whole chantries of choyce quire-men singing solemnly before them: but behinde followes a troope all clad in blacke, which argues mourning: much have I marveled at this ceremony, deeming it some hidden paradox, confounding thus in one things so opposite as these signes of joy and sorrowe.” Pennant, in his MS. relating to North Wales, says, “there is a custom of singing psalms on the way as the corpse is carried to church."
Waldron, in his Description of the Isle of Man, p. 170, speaking of the Manks burials, says: “ The procession of carrying the corpse to the grave is in this manner : when they come within a quarter of a mile of the church they are met by the parson, who walks before them singing a psalm, all the company joining with him. In every churchyard there is a cross, round which they go three times before they enter the church.” In Cymbeline, iv. 2, Arviragus, speaking of the apparently dead body of Imogen, disguised in men's clothes, says :
“ And let us, Polydore, sing him to the ground,
As once our mother; use like note and words,
Save that Euriphile must be Fidele." Gough, in the introduction to the second volume of his Sepulchral Monuments, p. 7, says: “Music and singing made a part of funerals. Macrobius assigns as a reason, that it implied the soul's return to the origin of harmony, or hearen. Hyginus understands it to mean a signal of decent disposal of the dead, and that they came fairly by their death, as the tolling bell among Christians."
The following passage is curious on the subject of singing psalms before the corpse : "Cantilena feralis per Antiphonas in pompa funebri et fano debacchata hinc est. Inter Græcos demortui cadavere deposito in inferiori domus aula ad portam, et peractis cæteris ceremoniis, cantores funerales accedunt et Iprvov canunt, quibus per intervalla respondebant domesticæ servæ, cum assistentium corona, neque solum domi, sed usque ad sepulchrum præcedebant feretrum ita canentes," Guichard, lib. ii. cap. 2, Funeral. apud Moresini Papatum, &c. p. 32.