Lunch Time Concert – Lute and classical guitar and 200 year old Panormo guitar with Kevin Avebury and Bernardo

Kevin Avebury and Bernardo

Kevin Avebury and Bernardo

Continental guitarist Bernardo and Lute player and classical guitarist Kevin Avebury will be performing a lunchtime concert at the Dorset County Museum on Thursday 4 May 2017 from 1pm to 2pm

Bernardo was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne of Russian ancestry, emigrated to Canada in 1967 to return to the UK in 1984.  He graduated from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and for over 33 years been a guitar instructor.

A published composer, Bernardo has scored all ten of Florence Novelli’s children’s plays.  He has also performed as resident guitarist at Thorbury Castle in Gloucester, international holiday shows, the World Wine Fair in Bristol, Military bases, hotels, restaurants and cruise boats.  As one half of “The Continentals Duo” Bernardo has recorded his own compositions and guitar arrangements of international perennial favourites.  Bernardo performs on a genuine, 200 year old Louis Panormo guitar and this concert will include classical Spanish folk, Flamenco and Russian folk songs – balalaika style.

Kevin studied guitar, lute, piano, composition and figured bass at the Royal College of Music.  His specialisation is:  Continuo realisation (keyboard and fretboard), Renaissance and Baroque music history and compositional techniques.  He has performed concerts as a soloist, in duos, trios and larger ensembles.  He has worked with vocal soloists, small vocal and instrumental ensembles, Early Opera companies, cafes, restaurants, street events, festival and pubs!

Kevin is a key musician in the Bridport Ukelele Projects production of “Flea!” this May and has been appointed co-Musical Director for the Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis’ July production of “Monmouth”, a play covering the events of the 1685 local rebellion. He is also lead guitarist in the Dorchester based rock band Margot Escargot which is set to release three singles this year.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Damian Clarke plays Dulcimer and Hurdy Gurdy at Museum’s Lunchtime Concert

Damien Clarke playing the hammer dulcimer © Damien Clarke 2017

Damien Clarke playing the hammer dulcimer

On Thursday 16th February 2017 between 1.00pm to 2.00pm. Local touring musician, Damian Clarke will be playing Dulcimer and Hurdy Gurdy at the Dorset County Museum Lunchtime Concert

He has been performing since 1986, mainly with the international folk band “Pressgang” which he founded. He has toured in 12 countries and made several albums.

Damian, who is also an artist and lives in Dorchester, has appeared on television programmes including BBC’s period drama series ‘Wolf Hall’, playing his instruments from the past – the Hammer Dulcimer and Hurdy Gurdy which he has taught himself.  He is probably the only performer on these instruments in the UK who regularly plays concerts and sings with them.

He also has some great stories from his years on the road, playing in many interesting places. He plays a mix of folk songs from the British/Celtic tradition as well as some of his own contemporary songs.

The lunchtime concert is FREE although a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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Carols, Songs and Dancing: The Musical Heritage of Thomas Hardy’s Family

Among the fine collection of Hardy items in the Dorset County Museum, one of the most interesting is the music-book which belonged to his father and grandfather.  This is a hand-written book of carols, hymns, ballads and songs which had been passed down orally and collected over the generations, and the pages sewn together in this simple homemade book.

Here are two carols from the family carol book used for ‘Going the Rounds’ at Christmas, when the Mellstock Quire visited the cottages around Bockhampton and Stinsford to sing carols to the locals. If you’re musical, you might have a go at playing them!

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night

Hark The Herald Angels Sing

hark-the-herald-angels-sing_1Hark The Herald Angels Sing

Thomas Hardy’s grandfather, father and other relatives played violins and cellos in the West Gallery church choirs at Stinsford and Puddletown until about 1835-40, when the church replaced the instrumentalists with barrel organs.

On Christmas Eve, the tradition was for these singers and players to walk through the dark night, lit only by lanterns, carrying their music and instruments, to sing and play carols at all the cottages and houses.

From these family musicians, the young Thomas inherited a love of music.  As a boy, he was taught to tune and play the fiddle by his father, with whom he played at parties and weddings.  He later drew on the family memories of the choir in Under the Greenwood Tree:

Chapter 4: GOING THE ROUNDS

Shortly after ten o’clock the singing-boys arrived at the tranter’s house, which was invariably the place of meeting, and preparations were made for the start. The older men and musicians wore thick coats, with stiff perpendicular collars, and coloured handkerchiefs wound round and round the neck till the end came to hand, which they just showed their ears and noses, like people looking over a wall. The remainder, stalwart ruddy men and boys, were dressed mainly in snow-white smock-frocks, embroidered upon the shoulders and breasts, in ornamental forms of hearts, diamonds, and zigzags. The cider-mug was emptied for the ninth time, the music-books were arranged, and the pieces finally decided upon. The boys in the meantime put the old horn-lanterns in order, cut candles into short lengths to fit the lanterns; and, a thin fleece of snow having fallen since the early part of the evening, those who had no leggings went to the stable and wound wisps of hay round their ankles to keep the insidious flakes from the interior of their boots.

……………….

 

Just before the clock struck twelve they lighted the lanterns and started. The moon, in her third quarter, had risen since the snowstorm; but the dense accumulation of snow-cloud weakened her power to a faint twilight, which was rather pervasive of the landscape than traceable to the sky. The breeze had gone down, and the rustle of their feet and tones of their speech echoed with an alert rebound from every post, boundary-stone, and ancient wall they passed, even where the distance of the echo’s origin was less than a few yards. Beyond their own slight noises nothing was to be heard, save the occasional bark of foxes in the direction of Yalbury Wood, or the brush of a rabbit among the grass now and then, as it scampered out of their way.”

Helen Gibson
Honorary Curator of the Thomas Hardy Archive and Collection

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Literary Lives: Thomas Hardy and Folk Song by Dr. Peter Robson

Musicians of Mellstock Choir - Hardy Players 1910 DCM © 2015

Musicians of Mellstock Choir – Hardy Players 1910 DCM © 2015

Thomas Hardy refers to more than thirty folk songs in his novels, with many further references in his poetry, short stories, letters etc. 

Some knowledge of the folk songs in Hardy’s writings helps the reader to appreciate how appropriate they are to the author’s plotting, characterisation and settings. The songs can also occasionally throw light on Hardy’s own background.

This exploration of Hardy and Dorset song will begin by looking at the nature of folksong and at the golden age of folksong collecting, with particular reference to the work of the Hammond brothers in Dorset. Dr. Robson will then illustrate the variety of places where references to folksongs may be found in Hardy’s published and unpublished writings.

From this body of material it is then possible to suggest where and how Hardy might have obtained the songs which he knew and to look at some examples of the ways in which he used folk songs in his novels. Finally, the speaker will identify the songs which seem to have been Hardy’s personal favourites, and at a song which was actually collected from him.

Dr. Peter Robson has been researching Dorset folklore and folksong for many years and has written and spoken widely on this subject. Most recently he has become particularly interested in Thomas Hardy’s writings as an almost untapped source for the study of rural folklore.

The lecture will take place on Thursday 30 June in the Dorset County Museum’s Victorian Hall and is FREE to the public; however a donation of £3 encouraged to cover costs. Doors open at 7.00pm for a 7.30pm start.

For further information contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

In Memoriam Rev. William Barnes B.D.

Rev. William Barnes © DCM

Rev. William Barnes © DCM 2015

From the ‘Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society’ Volume 8, 1887, an memoriam written by the Reverend Octavius PickardCambridge FRS.

“Since October 7th, 1886, when we were suddenly called upon to mourn for our old friend and staunch member of the Dorset Natural History and Antiquarian Field Club, the Rev. William Barnes, B.D., so much has been written and said and published about him that little, at any rate, little new, can now be said; scarcely a periodical or journal has been silent ; all have been necessarily and deservedly eulogistic. Some, it has appeared to me? have placed his claim to public notice of somewhat insufficient grounds, and others on, as it were, the side issues rather than on the main ones of his long life. It would be, however, quite out of place in our Proceedings to criticise here what has been said and published. Want of space, if nothing else, would prevent it. A very characteristic and faithful portrait of Mr. Barnes forms a frontispiece to our annual volume. As regards this portrait, it may be remarked that this has been designedly chosen rather than another, which, while it, no doubt, faithfully gives Mr. Barnes’ general appearance according to the costume adopted late in life, was by no means characteristic of the man known to those who had enjoyed his friendship in earlier days, and had watched the development of his simple but strong and almost unique character under the more usual garb of the day. What it is proposed to give here as an accompaniment to our frontispiece will consist of such biographical details as may be necessary for the information of those who would hereafter know who Mr. Barnes was, whence he came, and the more salient points of his life. A list of his works is also appended. Some of these are now not known to many, even by name; and probably few have been read or studied.

On two of them I shall offer a few more detailed observations,—viz., his poems in the Dorset dialect, and one entitled “Views on Labour and Gold,” on which last I have not seen or heard any remark made amidst the much that has been said and written on the former. I have not attempted to give any classification of Mr. Barnes’ works, but have drawn out the list in chronological order, as, in flict, he himself drew it up in his later years, and, as by the kindness of his son (the llev. W. M. Barnes, Rector of Winterborne Monkton), I am enabled to give it. Mr. Barnes’ birthplace was Eushhay, Bagber (or Bagberry), a hamlet of Sturminster Newton, in the Vale of Blackmoor, Dorset. It seems that his family had been anciently landowners in or near the Vale, but had subsequently become tenant-farmers there ; and it was in the place above mentioned that his parents, John and Grace Barnes, were living at the time of Mr. W. Barnes’ birth in 1801. From his mother (Grace Scott) he appears to have inherited strong intellectual and poetical tastes, which, becoming marked as he grew up, it was decided to place him in some line of life above that of the toilsome work of the farm. He accordingly, at a very early age, entered the office of a solicitor — Mr. Dashwood—at Sturminster Newton as an engrossing clerk, and from thence afterwards (in 1818) he removed to occupy a similar post in the office of Mr. Coombs, Solicitor, Dorchester.

During the time of these clerkships (about seven or eight years) Mr. Barnes never lost a chance of acquiring knowledge on every possible subject, laying the foundation of his future great knowledge of languages, and qualifying himself for the Mastership of the Boarding School at Mere, Wiltshire ; to this post he was appointed in 1823, and we find him described in 1829 as “Teacher of Perspective and Drawing, and of the Latin, French, Italian, and German languages.” With Italian he seems to have become conversant some time before this date, as in 1827 he published translations in verse from the Italian of Metastasio. It was during his residence at Mere that Mr. Barnes first began seriously to study the origin of his own language, both British and English. It is probable that these studies were suggested and actually begun during a visit to Wales in 1831. At any rate in 1832-33 he published papers on these subjects in the “Gentleman’s Magazine;” and to his latest days Anglo-Saxon and the British language were his favourite study.

In 1835, an opening for advancement offering, Mr. Barnes (who had previously married Miss Miles, a Dorsetshire lady) removed to Dorchester and opened a school in Durngate Street, from which a further move was not long after made (1837) into more convenient premises within a door or two of the Dorchester Grammar School, next to the Almshouses, on the east side of South Street. Here for some years his school filled and prospered, and while giving every attention to his pupils Mr. Barnes carried on his own private studies with extraordinary vigour and success] no subject, no language daunted him when once he made up his mind for the attack; his clear and logical understanding seemed to get hold of the subject, take it in, absorb and assimilate it as completely as a sea-anemone does its food. And not only did Mr. Barnes thus simultaneously carry on his school work and private studies, but he found time for extra lessons to pupils desirous of getting on, and to his assistant masters, (Mr. Isaac Hann and others), as well as for wood engraving and music ; and a glance at the list of his works shows that during the whole of this time his pen was also pretty constantly at work for the publisher.

In 1817 Mr. Barnes removed from the east side of South Street to the opposite side of the street, and it was now (1847) that, having obtained the degree of B.D. at St. John’s College, Cambridge, as a “Ten-years-man,” he was ordained Deacon by Edward Denison, Bishop of Salisbury, on the nomination to Whitcombe as a title by the Hon. Col. Damer, of Came. In 1862 Mr. (now the Rev. W.) Barnes gave up his school (which was afterwards for a time carried on by a Mr. de Winton), and accepted the living of Came on the presentation of Captain Damer, son of his former patron, and himself at one time a pupil of Mr. Barnes’. Here in the faithful work of his small secluded parish and in his own studies and literary recreation the autumn and winter of his life passed on in peace, happiness, and usefulness, until from the natural decay of extreme age he passed away on the 7th of October last at 86 years old.

It has been said that there must be blame somewhere that Mr. Barnes, with all his genius and great talents, should have thus passed a long life without any signal or very substantial recognition in high or influential quarters. I think this is unjust both to himself and to the world in which he was known.

He had no ambition i.e., no desire to use his talents as a mere means of obtaining either the world’s fame or its more solid rewards ; his mind and powers were emphatically himself, and his happiness consisted, and was amply found, in attacking and assimilating those subjects which cropped up at every turn of his path. He would have considered it a prostitution of his powers to have designedly aimed at wealth or position by their means; the attainment of knowledge was the end he always had in view, and that end was to him its own sufficient reward. No greater injury could, I conceive, have been done to him than to have offered, or, perhaps, pressed upon him, the acceptance of honours or position which might have turned him in his course or tended to obscure the end he had in view. So far as concerned himself!; and as respects the fancied neglect of him by others, what was there in his life and work to draw upon him, perforce, the notice of any excepting those of his more immediate circle? From that circle, as occasion called, he did receive such recognition as put him in the very position of all others where his talents would be freely used and his worldly requirements sufficiently supplied for the modest needs of himself and his family. In this view of it Mr. Barnes’ life forms a harmonious whole such as the world rarely sees, and if I were going to lecture to young men on the examples set by striking characters gone before, I do not know of one whom I could select, like Mr. Barnes, as so pre-eminent in all that a Christian man’s life should be both for this world and the next. A sound mind in a sound body and sufficient food for both ; the result, a long life of physical and mental happiness, and a legacy to posterity from his mind’s work, the value of which will be the more felt the more it is used by those to whom it is bequeathed. If the recognition of himself by great men or great minds were an ambition with Mr. Barnes (I am not aware that it was, I think it was not) he did obtain a share of that in the visits paid him while Rector of Came by such men as Tennyson, Allingham, Prince Louis Lucien Bonaparte, Max Miller, Sir Henry Taylor, Coventry Patmore, and others.

With regard to Mr. Barnes’ family it is enough to say here that he had the great misfortune to lose his wife comparatively early in life, and has left four daughters and one son (Rev. William Miles Barnes, of Monkton Rectory) surviving him, another, a younger son, having died early. Miss Laura Barnes, the eldest daughter, is unmarried; the others are married. Two are settled in Italy, and from the talented pen of one of them, Lucy Barnes (Mrs. Baxter), we hope shortly to have a biography of our old friend such as none but a daughter so well qualified could possibly furnish. Some have questioned whether Mr. Barnes’ career can be pointed to as a successful one; of course that depends on what success in life is taken to mean. If I am right in the remarks I have made above, he must be considered to have been most successful. Some have pointed to his scholastic work and said it is not there that Mr. Barnes succeeded ; others have said his literary works, excepting the Poems in Dorset Dialect, will not live, and most are dead already, and that his clerical life was a mere accident. Well! I think these critics are all wrong. I am very confident that even in these separate parts of his career Mr. Barnes might, were it worth while, be shown to have amply succeeded.

I will only mention one fact in regard to his school work, and that is that he had the faculty of interesting his scholars, and not only of causing them to understand but to love what he taught. I can testify to this from my own experience as his pupil, and I feel confident of the supporting testimony of many others whom he taught. If this be so what scholastic success could be greater As regards his literary labours, perhaps few know anything of them except of the Dorset poems ; but may that not be simply a proof of their ignorance, not of any want of intrinsic value in his other works? And as respects his clerical life, those who know what it was speak of it as being as thoroughly complete as everything else he did; its sphere was no doubt small, but had it been ten, or twenty times the extent it was it could not have been more sincerely or systematically worked. Where is any proof of nonsuccess in these separate parts then of Mr. Barnes’ life? But these parts are simply parts of a whole, harmonious life, and ought not to be taken and analysed separately, rudely dissected like a beautiful flower by a would-be botanist! and that these portions of Mr. Barnes’ life and works are what they are constitutes, it seems to me, his life’s true success.

Space will not allow me to say anything scarcely of Mr. Barnes’ published works, excepting the one mentioned before, “Labour and Gold,” and his Dorset dialect poem’s. Criticism of these poems, in the ordinary sense, would be out of place – impossible! unnatural!

One might with equal propriety criticise a handful of spring flowers plucked fresh from the hedge-row. We might indeed admire one flower rather than another ; we might find greater beauties, greater sweetness, deeper suggestions in one than in another; but criticism, as such, would be, like the dissector’s knife—barbarous, almost brutal ! Mr. Barnes’ poems are the spontaneous outflowings of his remembrance of persons, things, and scenes, of which he bore away as he viewed them, the bright, the pure, the good side only. Lie looked at Nature, and human nature in his Blackmoor Vale haunts, with a soul only open to its beauties—quite closed (as far as it was possible) to all that might have been disfiguring or unsweet. His mind was attuned to harmonies, not discords ; such discords as may occasionally sound out in the songs he sings are instantly resolved into sweet harmony again. I am told, on good authority, that he never, with perhaps one exception, wrote his poems with “a purpose.” With such a purpose (everywhere evident in his poems) as that with which the bird sings, that is from the love that was in his heart and the instinct within his soul he, certainly, always wrote. I leave criticism, therefore, if such be possible, to others. Another thing I think is notable in respect to the Dorset poems; there is, if I do not mistake, not even the smallest reference there to any of the social sins or vices of peasant life. In one only such a reference may perhaps be found (Complete collection of the poems, p. 382), but only there as the product of evil in a higher rank of life, where the selfishness of idle vice has prevailed over the peasant child’s ignorant innocence.

Each poem is a picture true to life, without a touch too much or too little, and never a touch put in for mere effect. Those who have lived amongst, and loved, rural life, will, I think, see and feel this. Each poem, as it is read thus, satisfies the reader just as the picture itself, if viewed in nature, would satisfy. If this is, as I think, the perfection of poetry, then certainly Mr. Barnes approached perfection as a poet. I have remarked that he seldom or never wrote his poems ” with a purpose,” nor ever scarcely brought forward the frail or bad side of his country folk, but it was not that he was ignorant of the latter, or did not desire to have it as he wished to see it and sung of it – No! it would simply have been, in his view and intention, a distortion and blurring of what he saw and felt to have used his powers of song to denounce, or even to correct. Much rather would he look upon country life, wherever possible, from its humorous side, and this he did in his poems, as many of them so abundantly testify. He was indeed possessed with a very keen sense of humour, his laugh, at any sally of genuine wit or humour, was the most infectious that I ever met with ; it must have been a dull-witted one indeed who could fail to be caught by and to join in it. It has been remarked, and with truth, that throughout a volume of nearly 500 pages of poems there is no allusion to the sea, the seaside and its concomitants, or to mountains; but this, if it proves anything, proves the genuine sincerity of the man.

His Jot had been cast and his earliest and deepest impressions had been received inland, where neither sea nor mountain existed, and he sung of what was in him—impressions from the river, the brook, the lake or pond, the coppice, the hedgeside, the farmyard, the country folk of every degree, their thoughts, ways, habits, employments, and amusements ; these and such like formed the staple of his song, and to say that he only sang of these, but not of the sea or the mountain, is only equivalent to saying that a nightingale sings only the nightingale’s song, but never screeches like the seagull nor croaks like the raven ; and what better proof could be given than this that he had no keen ambition for any such fame as a great poet, in the world’s estimation, might aim at ! No! Mr. Barnes was here, as in all else, himself, and in his songs he was, as he was, and always loved to remember that he was, a Dorsetshire country-man. These few allusions to Mr. Barnes’ poems must suffice us here; space prevents any quotations from them. Others (notably Professor Palgrave, National Review, No. 48, February, 1887, p.p. 818-830, and the Rev. Walter Locke in an able Lecture at Dorchester, April 18th, 1887, to be published, I believe, shortly) have gone very fully into them and given numerous and apt quotations. Indeed, if anything I have said be true, the whole volume might be quoted in proof of Mr. Barnes having been a genuine staunch Dorset man; and to that proof I recommend every one who has not yet made a close.

Acquaintance with those genial and pleasant outflowings of a true and loving heart.
Although, as before remarked, Mr. Barnes did not write his poems ” with a purpose,” he could, and did, write with a purpose much, and to good purpose if some of his other works were studied. I fear, though, that most of them are but little known. I allude now to “Views of Labour and Gold,” a volume of 190 pages, published in 1859. He speaks of this work as formed from notes for a course of lectures ; but whether the lectures were ever publicly delivered, or if so, when, I do not know. This work appears to bo the outpouring of Mr. Barnes mind on an old subject, but one at that time cropping- up as a vital one for human society in all ranks, and which has, as we are aware, become the question underlying most of the other questions of the day – the question of the relations and respective rights of labour and capital. Mr. Barnes here, as in all his poems, touching en the temporal welfare of the labourer, is unmistakably in closest sympathy with the sons of toil ; but as in his poems, so here, too, he is filled with the conviction of the need of labour to man, and of its great dignity. But while he extols labour, he is unflinching in his severity upon labour for the mere sake of hoarding, and of labour that injures body, mind, or soul. Some kinds of labour, he observes, have “a painful reaction on the mind,” and others “a bad reaction on the conscience” (p. 33), and which, however easy may be “their action, and however great their gain, are not to be earnestly chosen by Christian men, since as they deaden the conscience they likewise do harm to the soul,” Weighty words of truth which need to be much taught, and still more learnt, in these enlightened days. As we might expect, Mr. Barnes is severe upon capital ! Not by any means that he objected to the prudent laying up for a rainy day, or the gathering of means to carry out works impossible to be effected without stored-up labour in the shape of gold or capital, but it was the ever-growing “monopoly and tyranny of capital” against which he warns.

A chapter is devoted to this under the above heading. Mr. Barnes’ object is “to show the possible effect of the increase of great working capitals and monopolies on the labourers’ freedom or welfare.” And, is there a doubt but that the present labourers’ Unions and Trades’ Unions, and the consequent strikes and lock-outs, and other warfare between employers and workers i.e., between “Labour and gold,” have been the result of that “tyranny and monopoly of capital” Mr. Barnes speaks of? He humorously, but forcibly, illustrates the benefits asserted to be conferred upon workers by capital when in the enlargement of an already perhaps great business, scores of small businesses of the kind are swallowed up by the outlay of capital ; “The kindness which is done by capital when it affords employment to people from whom, by a monopoly, it has taken their little businesses, is such as one might do to a cock by adorning his head with a plume made of feathers pulled out of his own tail.” And as regards these who have sunk from being (though perhaps small ones) masters to mere workers, he says their wages are doubtless better than nothing, but ” yet it may have been quite as well for them if the profit on their toil had been taken by themselves instead of the great capitalist, and if they had taken their money on their own desk rather than on the Saturday pay-table.” This, of course, at once opens up the whole question of the rights of labour to share in the profits of their work ; and this is the bone of contention still. Mr. Barnes also has a pertinent sentence upon a dogma which one frequently now hears, and sees in print, as addressed to our ” masters,” the agricultural labourers, and with a view to content them with their lot. It refers to the “identity of interest between the employer and the labourer,” or, what is the same, between ” capital and labour.” Mr. Barnes remarks (p. 70) —” It is often said that the interests of capital and labour are identical, and so in truth they are as long as they are kept so by the law of Christian kindness ; but if the truth or the broad form of it be misunderstood by the hand-hiring capital, it does not follow that the wealth of the capitalist and workman are identical.” Mr. Barnes here appeals to a higher law than the mere law of the land, or the market price, as a true and potent factor in all questions between labour and capital.

The capitalist may ensconce himself behind the law of the land, he may seek to justify himself by the ” market price of labour,” but no law, in Mr. Barnes’ opinion, can ever enforce any true identity of interest between capital and labour, but that one of which he speaks in the passage quoted, ” The law of Christian kindness,” which, when it works so as to discover that the market price is not always the just, although it may be the legal measure of labour’s value, will also operate so as to accord a share of the profits of Labour to the workman ! When will that be ? Echo answers, when? But if we may hazard a guess we shall not be far wrong, I think, in saying that the considerations and discussions continued in “Labour and Gold,” if widely spread abroad, will not fail to hasten the day. Mr. Barnes, again, speaking on the effects of the monopoly of great capitals, (p. 70), admits that “one man may leave a million to his wife, earned out of his capital by his workmen, but then fewer men out of every hundred in his trade can leave their children a hundred pounds.” Who cannot feel that the loss of the hundred pounds to each of the many is ill compensated for by the gain of a million to one person?

Everywhere throughout this little book the relations of capital and labour are discussed thus earnestly and temperately. If space allowed we might show how fair he is towards capital rightly employed, and how dear to his heart were the interests and well being of the working man, especially in those chapters on ” the measure and quantity of labour,” on ” overwork,” on the “reaction of labour,” and of ” inaction;” as well as on the “dignity and disdain of work,” on ” machinery,” and ” congregated labour.” But what I consider the essential point in this work is the insistence upon a higher law than the law of the land, and the market price as a factor in the relations of labour and capital—’ the law of Christian Kindness.” I have gone thus much into this work of Mr. Barnes’, not only because of the great and pressing present importance of the subject, but, principally, here, to show that Mr. Barnes was not merely a poet, not simply a singer of pretty melodious songs, but a true, a large hearted, and a just philanthropist; and I venture to think that Mr. Barnes ‘ fame will not in the future simply rest upon his Dorset Dialect poems, exquisite as they undoubtedly are.

It is time, though, that some mention should be made here of Mr. Barnes in connection with the Dorset Natural History and Antiquarian Field Club. As we might have supposed, Mr. Barnes was always forward to support anything connected with the interests of natural history and natural science. Every morning during his scholastic life before the regular school work began he gave his scholars a short lecture on some natural history or scientific subject. Each scholar had to take down in writing a proposition, generally embracing one point only, on which the lecture was based. Notes were to be taken upon the lecture, which was always illustrated by objects or experiments, and an examination upon it was subsequently made. I have still in my possession the MS. notes of these lectures during the whole of the two years that I was a pupil of Mr. Barnes’.

He was among the founders of the County Museum, and stood firmly by it through evil and good report until it bloomed into its present fair and prosperous form; and at once on its inauguration in 1875 became a member of the Field Club, frequently attending the Field Meetings, even down to a very recent period, and, whenever called upon to do so, always contributed his quota to the proceedings of the day in his habitually retiring, but simple, clear, and concise way. These contributions were usually of an Antiquarian kind, as are all those contributed in writing to the Field Club’s published proceedings. I have given these contributions in a separate list at the end of the general list of his works ; they are 14 in number and are mostly concerned with topics at the moment before the club. The last paper contributed to our Proceedings was in September, 1885, on “Pilsdon,” and is published in vol. vii. p. 102. Mr. Barnes was then in too feeble a state to attend outdoor meetings, and I myself had the pleasure of reading (in his absence) his last words to us ; and the very last words (with which the paper concludes) suggest to us a bit of practical work, which, I hope, some one among us may one day carry out. He was speaking of the curious parallelogram on the area of the Great Earthwork at Pilsdon, and, after hazarding a guess on the subject, concludes with these words—”I wonder what is under its turf?” and I will now add ” Will not some one institute a search and let us know?”

And now, ill done indeed I fear, but yet, so far as I have been able to do it, my task is done. I should have liked to dwell longer on many points of Mr. Barnes’ life and character, and particularly on some others of his published works. I feel little doubt but that if the real value of his philological work were thoroughly gone into he would be found to have been well abreast of the greatest contemporary masters of philological science, but I must leave that to other hands. To say that we of the Field Club most deeply lament our old friend is only to repeat what all the world has said since his death ; to say that we shall never see his like again would be to prophesy when we do not know, a proceeding proverbially unwise ; but I do think that it may well be the ambition of us all, when our time shall come, to have lived as Mr. Barnes lived and to have died as he died.

A CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF THE PUBLISHED WORKS OF THE REV. WILLIAM BARNES B.D.

1822 Orra : A Lapland Tale. A short poem, published by Clarke, Dorchester. 8vo., p.p. 28, with four woodcuts engraved by the Author,

Other Short Poems, also published in this year.

1827 Some Little Essays and other papers, signed “Dilettante,” in Dorset County Chronicle from 1827, cir. to 1835.

Some Sonnets and other Poems, some of which were printed in a book in 1846.

Translations in Verse from the Italian of Metastasio.

1829 The Etymological Glossary ; or Easy Exposition for the use of Schools and Non-Latinists, wherein the greater part of the English words of foreign derivation are so arranged that the learner is enabled to acquire the meaning at once. By William Barnes, Master of the Boarding School at Mere, in Wiltshire, Teacher of Perspective and Drawing, and of the Latin, French, Italian, and German languages. Shaftesbury : T. Rutter. London : Whittaker, Teacher, and Arnot.

1831 Papers in Gentleman’s Magazine –
ON ENGLISH DERIVATIONS.
ON THE STRUCTURE OF DICTIONARIES.
ON PRONUNCIATION OF LATIN.
HIEROGLYPHICS.

1832 Papers in Hones Year Book –
DORSETSHIRE CUSTOMS, p. 1172.
SINGLE STICK AND CUDGELS, p. 1525.
LENT CROCKING, p, 1599.

In Gentleman’s Magazine –
IDENTITY OF NATIONAL MANNERS AND LANGUAGE.
MERE CHURCH, WITH WOODCUTS.
SONGS OF THE ANCIENT BRITONS.
ANALOGY OF GREEK AND OTHER LANGUAGES.
ORIGIN OF LANGUAGE.
THORNHILL OBELISK, WITH A WOODCUT.
ORIGIN OF LANGUAGE.
ENGLISH COMPOUNDS.

1833 In Gentleman’s Magazine –
NAPPER’S MITE, Dorchester, with a woodcut.
SILTON CHURCH, with woodcut. Supplement to vol. ciii. pt.
STURMINSTER NEWTON CHURCH.
THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.
NAILSEA CHURCH, Somerset.
CHELVEY, Somerset.
A CATECHISM OF GOVERNMENT in general and of England in particular. Shaftesbury,

1833.
THE MNEMONICAL MANUAL, founded on a new and simple system of Mnemonics. Recommended to the notice of teachers and readers of
history, &c. , &c.

1834 A FEW WORDS ON THE ADVANTAGES of a MORE COMMON ADOPTION OF THE MATHEMATICS AS A BRANCH OF EDUCATION OR SUBJECT OF STUDY.
London : Whittaker. 20vo., and various Local Publishers, 1834.
POEMS OF RURAL LIFE in Dorset Dialect, begun in this year, published in
Dorset County Chronicle.
A DORSET IDYL, written in a sick room coming on to convalescence – ” When I was uphalening from a sickness – an ailing of the liver.”
“ON THE CROSS AT ST. (?).” A paper in Gentleman’s Magazine.

1835 A MATHEMATICAL INVESTIGATION of the principle of Hanging Doors, Gates, Swing Bridges, and other heavy bodies swinging on vertical axes. Dorchester : Simonds and Sydenham, 1835.

In Gentleman’s Magazine –
PUNCK KNOWLE HOUSE, with a woodcut.

1837 ON ROMAN MINERALS, p. 573.

1838 On Æsop.
SOME ETYMOLOGIES.

1840 ANOTHER LETTER to Gentleman’s Magazine on the distinction between VIR and HOMO. According to the general rule of the ‘Elegantitæ Latinsæ ” ViR is equivalent to a man, when noticed for praise or excellence; never when blame is expressed. Homo is used indiscriminately. What Mr. Barnes thought was that VIR is equivalent to man, as distinguished from a woman, as of the female sex ; Homo i equivalent to a human being, in distinction from one of a different order, whether higher or lower ; VIR is equivalent to the German Mann, Homo is equivalent to German MENSCH. He quotes from Ovid, Metamorph, Sallust, Horace, Terence, &c, in proof of his idea.

1839 In Gentleman’s Magazine –
ON THE SO-CALLED KIMMERIDGE COAL MONEY.
BATTLE OF PENN.
THE ROMAN AMPHITHEATRE AT DORCHESTER.
THE HINDOO SHASTERS.
PHŒNICIANS.
HINDOO POORAN AND SCIENCES.

1840 In Gentleman’s Magazine –
HINDOO FAQUEERS.
DORSET DIALECT compared with Anglo-Saxon.
THE OLD JUDGE’S HOUSE, DORCHESTER, with a woodcut.
LAWS OF CASE. An investigation of the Laws of Case in Language
Published 1840. Longman and Co. and Whittaker and Co , London.

1841 EDUCATION ON WORDS AND THINGS.
FIELDING’S HOUSE AT STOWER, with a woodcut.
GOTHS AND TEUTONS.
AN ARITHMETICAL AND COMMERCIAL DICTIONARY. Pubhshed by (?)
HINTS ON TEACHING, in the Educational Magazine, pp. 160, March 1841.
PRONOUNCING DICTIONARY of Geographical Names, pp. 249. Published by (?)

1842 THE ELEMENTS OF ENGLISH GRAMMAR. London : W^hittaker and Co.
THE ELEMENTS OF LINEAR Perspective and the Projection of Shadows,
16 woodcut diagrams, by author. Published by Longman and Co. and Hamilton and Adams.
NUMEROUS REVIEWS of all kinds of books in Gentleman’s Magazine from
1841 to 1849 (inclusive.)

1844 SIX SACRED SONGS “SABBATH LAYS.” Poetry by W. Barnes, music composed by F. W. Smith, Dorchester. Price to Subscribers, 5s. ; to Non-subscribers, 6s. London : Chappell, New Bond-street, London.
EXERCISES IN PRACTICAL SCIENCE, containing the Main Principles of Dynamics, Statics, Hydro-Statics and Hydrodynamics, with 14 diagrams in wood, by author, pp. 65 for my pupils. Pub. Dorchester, Clark,

DORSET POEMS (collected from Dorset County Chronicle) with a dissertation
on the Folk Speech, and a glossary of Dorset words. Published by George Simonds, Dorchester.

1846 POEMS PARTLY OF RURAL LIFE (in national English). London : J. R. Smith. Containing “Some of my Earlier Bits of verse Sonnets and others”, with some later ones in Common English.

1847 “POEMS OF RURAL LIFE IN DORSET DIALECT.” 2nd Edition. J. R. Smith. London.

OUTLINES OF GEOGRAPHY AND ETHNOGRAPHY FOR YOUTH, pp. 242. Barclay, Dorchester. 1857 A new edition, applied for by H. C. Harris ; published 21, Great Alie-street, Goodmansfields, and afterwards brought out.

1849 SE GEFYLSTA (the Helper) an Anglo-Saxon Delectus. J. R. Smith, London. (Another edition since.)
HUMILIS DOMUS. Some thoughts on the Abodes, Life, and Social Condition of the Poor, especially in Dorsetshire. (Printed from the Poole Herald).

1853 and 1854 Papers in ”The Retrosprctivi Review.” London: J. R. Smith. Vols. I. and 11.
POPULATION AND EMIGRATION AT THE BEGINNING OF THE 17TH CENTURY.
Art. 4.
ANECDOTA LITERARIA. Extracts from the Diary of John Richards, Esq.,
pp. 97, 201.
PYRRHONISM OF JOSEPH GLANVILLE
ENGLISH MUSIC AND MADRIGALS. Vol. II., Art. 4. The Antiquary.
Art. 6, No. 6. Lelantd, February, 1854.
ASTROLOGY, Xo. 7, Art. 5.
CONTROVERSIAL WRITERS on Waterhouse and Fox, on the Utility of
Learning in the Church. No. 8, Art. 3. Aug. 1854.

1854 A PHILOLOGICAL GRAMMAR, 8vo., pp. 312. J, R. Smith, London.

1859 HWOMELY RHYMES, a second collection of Dorset Poems. J. R. Smith, London.
BRITAIN AND THE ANCIENT BRITONS, pp. 167. J. R. Smith, London.

1859 VIEWS OF LABOUR AND GOLD, pp. 190. J. R. Smith, London.
THE SONG OF SOLOMON, in the Dorset Dialect (for ” Prince Louis Buonaparte).

1861 In Macmillans Magazine (May, 1861)
ON THE BEAUTIFUL IN NATURE AND ART.

1862 DORSET POEMS, 3rd Edition of 1st Coll , being in fact the 4th Edition: John Russell Smith, London.
TIU, OR A VIEW OF THE ROOTS, and stems of the English as a Teutonic
Tongue, p.p., 324. J. R. Smith.

Macmillan’s Magazine –
ON THE RISE AND PROGRESS OF TRIAL BY JURY in Britain, March 1S62.

1863 The “RARIORA” of Old Poetry. May 1863.
Fraser’s Magazine –
ON THE CREDIBILITY OF OLD SONG, History and Tradition, Sept. 1863.
ON PATMORE’S POETRY, July 1863.
POEMS IN THE DORSET DIALECT. 3rd collection, with frontispiece and vignette. 4s. 6d. 1st ed., J. R. Smith, London.
DORSET POEMS. 2nd edition of 2nd collection. J. R. Smith, London.
GRAMMAR AND GLOSSARY OF THE DORSET DIALECT, with the history, outspreading and bearing of the South-western English. Published for the Philological Society, by A. Asher and Co , Berlin – 8vo., p.p. 103.

1863 In the Reader –
A REVIEW OF DEAN HOARE on English Roots and Exotics.
In the Ladies’ Treasury –
“ON CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE.”

1864 In the Reader –
REVIEW OF COOKE’S “NEGLECTED FACT,” in English History.

1865 A GUIDE TO DORCHESTER. Published by Barclay.

1864 and 1865 VERSIONS OF THE PSALMS in English measures (unrhymed), formed upon those of the Hebrew, with some original and other notes – printed in the Dorset County Chronicle. (This appears to have been afterwards published in a vol. by some Liverpool publishers O.P.C.)

1865 “ON DORSET.” Read before the Archaeological Society at Dorchester. Printed in the Transactions of the Society.

1866 In Fraser s Magazine –
ON THE WELSH TRIADS, Oct. 1866.

1866 DORSET POEMS A 4th Edition of 1st coll.—in fact the 5th edition. John Russell Smith, London.

In Macmillans Magazine –
ON PLAGIARISM.

In Ladies’ Treasury –
ON PRINKING OR BODILY ORNAMENT.
A GLOSSARY, with some pieces of verse of the old dialect of the English Colony in the Baronies of Forth and Bargy, Co. Wexford, Ireland, formerly collected by Jacob Poole, of Growton. Edited by Rev. W. Barnes. J. R Smith, Lond.

1867 In the Ladies’ Treasury –
THE HOAX.

1867 In Macmillan’s Magazine –
ON BARDIC POETRY.
SOME BITS OF WRITING IN THE HAWK—a monthly hover from the Vale of Avon. Published by W. Wheaton, Ringwood.
THE CHURCH IN IRELAND. Logical anomalies of the disendowment of. Dorset County Chronicle.
THE RATING OF TITHES. Ditto.

1868 POEMS OF RURAL LIFE, in common English, pp. 200. Macmillan and Co.

1869 EARLY ENGLAND and the Saxon English, with some notes on the Fatherstock
of the Saxon English—the Frisians. J. R. Smith.

1869 A PAPER FOR THE GOVERNMENT COMMISSION on the Employment of children, young persons, and women in agriculture. Printed in the Blue Book. Appendix : Part II , to Second Report, p. 12.

1870 DORSET POEMS 2nd Edition of 3rd coll. J. R Smith.
“ON SOMERSET,” read before the Somerset Archaeological Society, at Wincanton.

1871 ON THE ORIGIN OF THE HUNDRED AND TITHING of English Law. Read before the Archaeological Association at Weymouth. Printed in the Transactions.

1878 AN OUTLINE OF ENGLISH SPEECHCRAFT. Kegan Paul and Co.

1879 POEMS OF RURAL LIFE (in the Dorset dialect.) 8vo , pp., 467: Kegan Paul and Co. (This is a complete collection of all the Dorset dialect poems.)

1880 AN OUTLINE OF REDECRAFT (logic) in English Wording. 8vo. pp. 56. Kegan Paul and Co.
In Leisure Hour (a series). Dorset Folk and Dorset, with illustrations.

188(?) A GLOSSARY OF DORSET and West English words as kindred stems from their main roots. Published by (?)

PAPERS PUBLISHED IN THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE DORSET NATURAL HISTORY AND ANTIQUARIAN FIELD CLUB, FROM 1875 TO 1886.

Vol. I. – A British Earthwork, p 94.
Vol. III .- Notes on the History of Shaftesbury, p. 27.
The Tout Hill, Shaftesbury, p. 48.

Vol. IV. – On the Iter xvi., of Antoninus, p. 62.
Addendum to Notes on the History of Shaftesbury, p. 77.
Cranborne, the so called Castle, p. 134.
On the Maze or Mismaze at Leigh, p. 154.

Vol. V. – Some Slight Notes on Badbury Rings, p. 38.
Eggardon and British Tribeship, p. 40.
A Study 0.1 the Bockley, or Bockerly, Dyke, and others, in Dorset, p 49.
Notes on the so-called Roman Roads, p. 69,

Vol. VI. – A Study on the Invasion of the South-West of Britain, by Vespasian, p. 18.
A Study on the Belga:; in South Britain, p. 33.

Vol. VII. – Pilsdon, p. 102.

Several songs have been composed by various composers to words written by
Mr. Barnes. Among these are : –

“There’s a Chakm in the Bloom of Youth.” Music by F. W. Smith.
” The Mother’.s Dream.” Music by Sir A. Sullivan.
“The Bells of Alderburnham.” Music by Dolores.
“John Bleake of Blackmoor.” Music by F. W. Smith,

MSS. NOT PRINTED

  • A Second Set of Poems in Common English.
  • Hymns on Church openings, Harvest Thanksgivings, Baptism, Marriage, Choir Meeting, School.
  • Word Building in English.
  • A Word List of EngUsh Words, which have heretofore holden, or would do, instead of others that have been intaken from other tongues,
  • A Latin Word-book of Words ranked under their Roots or main Stem-words,
  • On Angria the Pirate, and the Indian Wars of his time. (A paper meant for the Retrospective Review.)
  • Utilitarianism. An answer to Utilitarianism, by John Mill.
  • A Version of the Song of Solomon, handled as poetry, with some out-clearing notes from Eastern poetry, and other sources
  • Studies in poetry of less known schools.
  • Notes on Persian Word Stems.
  • Notes on the Song of Deborah and Barak.
  • Alphabetical and Etymological Dictionary of the common names of animals (not polished.)
  • Echoes from Zion – a free version of as many of the Psalms.
  • King Arthur and Welsh poetry, of and since his time
  • Notes on the God-ha-dum, a Redeemer of blood under the Law.
  • Latin Word-building in the noun and verb endings.
  • A Word List of Grammar terms, out-cleared by wording, and English words in their stead.
  • Essay on the Maintenance of the Church of England as an Established Church
    Palraam non meruit.
    (This is the author’s simple endorsement on the rejected essay, which was written in competition for the Peeke prizes in 1872, but failed to win.)
  • Dorset Dialogues.
  • Preaching.
  • Liturgy,
  • Hymn for a Harvest Thanksgiving,

Related Links:

 

The Occasional Singers present ‘Music for a Summer’s Evening’

The Occasional Singers

The Occasional Singers

On Sunday 5th July Dorset County Museum will be the venue for ‘Music for a Summer’s Evening’, a concert presented by The Occasional Singers, a mixed-voice choir based in Dorchester.

The Occasional Singers will be joined by celebrated local pianist Duncan Honeybourne in a programme of English music including works by Elgar and Vaughan Williams. A special feature will be works native to Dorset: poems of William Barnes set by Ian Purseglove and Henry Balfour Gardiner, and choral settings of Dorset folksongs, directed by Richard Hall and David Bruce-Payne.

Doors will open early at 6.00pm to allow time to look around the Museum first, and the concert will then begin at 7.30pm. Light refreshments will be available, for which a small donation would be much appreciated. The choir is non-profit making, and all proceeds from the evening will go to the Museum’s Collections Discovery Centre Development.

Tickets cost £8 each and are available in advance from Dorset County Museum’s shop, by phoning 01305 756827, or on the door.

Apple Tree Wassail – Survival of a Tree Cult

Apple Tree WassailFrom the ‘Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society’ Volume 42 1922, an article written by the W. O. Beament, M.A. entitled ‘Apple Tree Wassail: Survival of a Tree Cult’

I propose for the purpose of this paper to consider firstly the ceremonies accompanying the Apple Tree Wassail which are, or were until lately, observed in the South West of England,and secondly to consider certain parallels to the rite which may be found at various stages of the civilisation of Western Europe.

It may then be possible to indicate some connection between the two, and to suggest a theory which accounts for what I believe to be a genuine pre-historic survival on English Soil. At the outset, I ought to explain that the theory which I shall outline at the conclusion of this paper is not intended to be the result of any research. It is simply an indication of the lines along which I believe a possible solution of the problems presented by the Apple Tree Wassail may be found.

At the present day the custom of wassailing the apple trees does not appear to be observed in Dorset; and when I first commenced collecting material for this paper I was not aware that it had been practised in our own county in recent times. However, our Vice- President, Judge Udal, has very kindly forwarded to me an extract from the manuscript of his forthcoming book on Dorset Folklore with permission to make use of it for the purposes of this paper. Judge Udal refers to an article in Folklore for 1918 from which it appears that the ceremony observed in Dorset did not differ in any important particular from those still to be found in the sister county of Somerset. When we turn to the latter county, there is an abundance of material for consideration ; and I propose to take as a representative account, and one which forms an excellent basis for discussion, the description of the ceremony given by Mr. Cecil Sharp in his note to Song 128, Folk Songs, from Somerset, 5th Series.

The rite appears to have been observed at Bratton on the 17th January, and the procedure as described by several witnesses is roughly as follows:

Meeting about seven in the evening, the wassailers proceed to the orchard which is to be the scene of their first celebration, and, forming a ring round one of the oldest of the trees, dance round, singing a particular song, to the words of which I will presently revert. Cider, sometimes warmed, is then thrown upon the tree or poured over the roots to the accompaniment of much shouting, stamping of feet, and firing of guns. Before leaving the tree a piece of toast soaked in cider is placed in the fork of the branches. Mr. Sharp states that, on enquiry of one of the revellers as to what became of the toast, he was informed that ” some say that the birds eat it, but I don’t know.”

There are five points in this ceremony which are worth considering :

  1. The Tree.
  2. The Song and Dance.
  3. The Libation of Cider.
  4. The Noise.
  5. The Offering of Toast

It may be interesting to consider them briefly in detail as they appear to-day.

1. SONG AND DANCE. I cannot obtain any very clear idea of the dance itself. Whatever it may have been in the past, it does not seem to-day to be a set figure; it rather has the nature of a wild gambol round a tree by a number of men joining hands in a ring. Probably the fact that they have already wassailed each other in cider before setting out has some effect upon their gyrations. The words of the song are at the present day more or less doggerel. As given by Mr. Sharp they run as follows:

Old Apple Tree we’ll wassail thee
And hoping thou wilt bear
The Lord doth know where we shall be
To be merry another year:
So blow well and bear well
And so merry let us be
Let every man drink up his can
And health to the old Apple Tree.

Then follows a spoken piece, cheering, shouting, stamping and gun-firing. I have come to the conclusion, as a result of comparison between this and similar ceremonies, that the words have in comparatively modern times been substituted for more ancient formula having practically the same meaning.It is perfectly clear that the wish expressed is for a good crop of apples in the ensuing year. It is rather curious that, in the Sedgemoor district, verses of the New Year Wassail Song are added to the Apple Tree Wassail.

2. SHOUTING, GUN-FIRING, ETC. The use of gunpowder, a comparatively modern invention, has led certain correspondents on this subject to suggest that we have a survival of a primitive method of pruning. The theory is that in early clays pruning was accomplished by beating the tree with a stick; and subsequently the firing of shot into the branches was used to obtain the same result. I am inclined myself to think that the gun-firing is merely a method of making a noise. Lieut. Latrobe-Bateman in describing his Congo Explorations in the middle of the last century has noted that natives belonging to the Mohammedan faith fire off guns at certain religious celebrations. In this case he knows that the object is simply that of making a noise. It seems rather more likely that the idea of noise-making should be predominant in a rustic ceremony such as wassailing, rather than that it should be necessary to prc-suppose a primitive method of pruning,for which not only does no evidence exist, but which is more over rather insulting to the intelligence of our ancestors.

3. THE LIBATION. This as it survives scarcely requires any comment. It can best be considered in the next section of the paper.

4. OFFERING OF TOAST. This is undoubtedly a real offering. Mr. Sharp’s informant was clearly of the opinion that it was not eaten by the birds, although twentieth century materialism had made him rather shy of expressing this belief openly.

None of the participants in the ceremony, however, appear to have any very clear idea as to whom the offering was made. It seems that we have here a case in which folk-memory is rapidly failing. Toast is still placed in the branches because it is remembered that once the offering was made to someone or something.

But in a few years, if the ceremony lasts as long, the reason will have been entirely forgotten; and I think this particular part of the rite will disappear entirely or we shall be definitely told that it is intended as an offering to the birds, probably in the hope that they will not attack the crop during the year.

In considering one or two interesting parallels to the Apple Tree Wassail, I should like to begin with a reminder that tree worship still survives in twentieth century England in other forms. The simplest, and the one which comes most readily to mind, is the Maypole dance. The Maypole is usually a dry pole perhaps with a sprig of green at the top, but was once, as Sir James Frazer has pointed out in the Golden Bough, a living tree freshly cut from the forest. It was also not so long ago that the “Jack in the Green” was a well-known figure in village festivities. It is rather curious that, while Sir James Frazer lays great stress upon these two survivals, he does not in the Golden Bough refer to the Apple Tree Wassail.

Bearing in mind then that ceremonies, which at the present time appear to have a value only as burlesque, are none the less religious survivals, we shall he less surprised to find that our West Country Apple Tree Wassail has behind it a long and honourable history. I must apologise for proceeding to state one or two facts which are probably well known to most of those present to-day, but my excuse is that their clue remembrance is essential to the considerations I wish to advance.

It must be kept in mind that religions, and especially primitive religions as distinct from magical cults, fall generally speaking into one of two classes they are connected with earth spirits or with sky gods. Without being irreverent, it may be stated that Christianity, following its predecessor Judaism, falls into the latter class; but this class is, at any rate in Western Europe, by no means the older. Men worshipped spirits of the earth before they worshipped spirits of the sky.

If one may make an extremely rough generalisation of the work of archaeologists in the classical lands of the Mediterranean, it may be laid down that the first peoples of that region of whom we have knowledge were agriculturists who worshipped earth deities, and buried their dead ; while, at a later date, they were encroached upon by, and ultimately fused with, pastoral invaders from the north, a taller fairer race who worshipped sky and storm deities and practised cremation. If in the light of some of these researches we consider the various points of the Apple Tree Wassail we shall begin to see some connection between our folk custom and the religions of the ancient world.

The ritual song and the ritual dance are both expressions of the same idea. The dance expresses the result in action, the song is an expression of the wish in words. Thus the first men to dance round the tree, in the hope that a crop might be secured to them, were performing in their early world a species of primitive ballet, endeavouring to depict in action and to sing in words the ideas of life and fertility; they imitated the desired result by showing themselves in possession of health, vigour, strength and agility.

The problem that presents itself at this point is: why they should dance round the tree ? The answer is that, just as gods have been made in the form of men and in the form of animals, so we are beginning to learn they have also been made in the form of plants. The tree is, if it may be so expressed, a kind  of super-plant. It has an intimate connection with the earth. It towers in the air and it is strong and, generally speaking, has a long life. It is extremely likely that originally the ceremony which we are considering was not performed round an Apple Tree at all, but round some forest tree, in all likelihood an Oak. This is perfectly easy to understand if it be remembered that primitive man has connected the idea of life, as expressed in plant or animal, not merely with the plants which he eats or the animal which he uses for food, but with those which are not good for this purpose. Thus we have Snake Tribes and Rat

Tribes when, generally speaking, the snake or rat is not a common article of diet. Totemism is far older and has exercised far more influence in religious developement than any idea of prayer for actual food. Thus assuming that originally our tree was a forest tree, that the religious idea grew weaker and weaker, and that people began to query why they did this thing, the ceremony, to make it appear more rational, would be transferred to a tree whose crop was actually of value as food, and in such a district as South-west England the natural tree to select would be the apple tree.

In the libation of cider we have an obvious magical survival. The cider is simply apple-juice, the blood of the tree, drawn from it last year. It may be assumed still to contain the life of the tree and is, therefore, poured back upon the roots or upon the trunk during the dead season of the winter in order that the tree may once more blossom and bear fruit. It carries from one season to another life and growth.

In this connection it may be interesting to note that the sacred tree and the sacred pillar are considered to be merely two aspects of the same thing. The tree is a living sacred pillar, a pillar is a petrified tree. Each is the house of a god or spirit, the place of its indwelling, a central point between the spiritual and material worlds.

Jacob, when he set up the Stone of Bethel, poured on it .wine and oil in consecration and named it the “House of God,” thereby indicating that for him at least it w r as the dwelling-place of the God of his fathers whom he proposed to serve.

The cider poured on the tree is not a drink for the spirit dwelling there. It is a rather more magical rite, indicating that the celebrant is trying to bring about a desired result by assuming it done. He pours cider because he wants cider next year.

In the sacred dance we have imitated the desired result; in the song we have expressed our wishes and hopes in words; by pouring cider we have done our best by physical means to secure that a comparatively dead tree will come to life. All this belongs to a very .early stage in religious thought, when gods and spirits are scarcely as yet conceived as such. Primitive man thinks not so much of deities as of divinities vague, half understood forces at work something like that which the natives of Melanesia call ” mana.” And this word is so expressive that it has passed into current anthropological jargon. Thus we have hitherto dealt only with forces which are more or less impersonal and can be controlled by magic, spirits not requiring to be sought in prayer because they are not regarded as possessing definite personal wills. It is the great distinction between magic and religion as we know it. With the former it is a matter of knowing how to do the right thing, while the latter is a question of personal relationship with a being. Now the noise brings us to the stage in which a being is introduced.

The shouting, stamping, and gun-firing, while they may in some measure express the joy of life, yet none the less are intended to awaken the spirit in the tree who has fallen asleep during the winter and must be aroused in good time if he is to do his work in the coming spring. Elijah’s taunt to the prophets of Baal was not merely sarcastic : to those w r ho heard it meant something real. They were used to shouting to wake up their god when they had any particularly heavy work on hand for him to do. So the Wassailers shout to arouse the spirit of the tree.

The toast in the branches takes us one step further. Toast which is intended to disappear is obviously of no use unless it is consumed by somebody or something, and we have here an instance of the actual offering made to a god or spirit. It is rather interesting to query whether it is given in order that the god may do something in return, or as a bribe to induce him to refrain from doing harm. As a matter of fact in early religion God and the Devil are very  much one and the same. It might be noticed in this connection that the vegetation spirit in Syrian mythology is Adonis, and his connection with Aphrodite is a matter of common knowledge. Aphrodite is always accompanied by birds her doves have become a proverb. Is it then too fantastic to suggest that here in

Central Somerset we have a direct survival of rites which in the golden days of Greece centred round the worship of the Maiden of the Sea-Foam?

I have already hinted at what is possibly an explanation of the survival of such rites as tree-cults in Britain. There seems very little doubt that such cults were originally the property of a people who were agriculturists, whose religion was the worship of earth divinities and who buried their dead. We know as a matter of certainty that this was the case in pre-historic times in Greece and other lands around the Mediterranean.

The early culture of Crete, of Mycenae and of the traditional site of Troy has afforded abundant evidence of the fact that the phenomena which I have just mentioned occurred together. Moreover from the same sources we know that at some time a pastoral people worshipping Olympian deities came down upon the Mediterranean from the North and were fused with the original inhabitants of the basin, the result of which fusion can be seen in the strangely assorted collection of gods and goddesses which make up the Hellenic and Latin Pantheons.

Now it is a well-known fact that, even when one race is conquered by another, the ideas and institutions of the conquered survive with strange persistence.

Thus there will be no cause for surprise if it be suggested that vegetation cults have persisted from very early times, and through various stages of civilisation, down to the modern world. It remains for us now to endeavour to connect the known facts of the Mediterranean area with the survivals which we find in our own country. I would suggest as a basis for further investigation a theory somewhat on these lines:

Tradition and modern research alike lead us to believe that, when the Mediterranean race was squeezed between the mountains and the sea by the increasing pressure of the northern invaders, an outlet of escape was found in the far west, along the Spanish shores and into Gaul. The peculiar religious observances of an agricultural people can be traced along this route and into Britain. The traces of Neolithic culture in this country show that we are dealing with a people whose physical features, as far as can be ascertained, resemble those which Sergi has ascribed to the Mediterranean race; a people whose religious observances, so far as any evidence remains to us, were akin to those of primitive dwellers in the Mediterranean basin, and whose belief in future life and survival after death was connected with the under-world rather than with a heaven in the sky. I would suggest then that, in common with other survivals of tree-worship and vegetation cult, the Apple Tree Wassail is a survival of that common stock of religious experience possessed by those early inhabitants of Southern and Western Europe whom tradition has called in various places by the names of Pelasgians, Ligurians and Iberians.

These people, whom we know to have contributed to later Greek religion those elements dealing with the under-world, the gods of the sea, the vegetation demons and those divine or semi-divine beings who possess the power of appearing in the form of beasts such as Dionysus would, as long as they remain agriculturists, practise their particular cults; and that these would, moreover, be learnt by any races who came into contact with them who wished to change from the wandering pastoral life to the more settled occupation of agriculture. Primitive man knew very well that it was useless to carry on an occupation until he had first of all put himself right with the spirits whose special concern that occupation was. This fact alone would explain how the ceremony could survive through various changes of civilisation and religion, and would also explain why so many of these customs have been able to make honourable terms even with triumphant Christianity.

The Apple Tree Wassail is one of the more obscure of these ancient rites, but it is none the less interesting, and I have endeavoured to put forward an analysis of its elements and a suggestion as to the lines on which further investigation may be pursued.

Note.  An article in Folk-lore, Volume XXXI, page 307, by Miss M. A. Berkeley, in commenting on some of the conclusions reached by Miss J. L. Weston in her work From Ritual to Romance, points out that Avalon in Afalon has the traditional interpretation of the ” Isle of Apples,” and that Mr. Cook has in the “European Sky and Tree God ” connected the ” Apple tree of Avallach ” the “god” of Avalon with magic trees of Irish legends and with the grove of Nemi. After shewing the connection of the Holy Thorn with sacred trees in general Miss Berkeley proceeds to set out evidence for the existence of an important and widely-known cult of the life principle at Glastonbury in early, and even in historic, times. The whole of the article is most suggestive in connection with the persistence of the apple cult in Somerset in modern times.

Museum runs literary fundraising event

Rev. William Barnes © DCM

Rev. William Barnes © DCM

Dorset County Museum will be running a fundraising event on 30th August 2014. The event will take place between 10.00 am and 3.00 pm at St Peter’s Church hall, High West Street, Dorchester. Stalls will include home-made produce and preserves, books and bric-a-brac, a raffle and tombola and children’s clothes and toys. Refreshments will be available and there will be plenty of activities for children.

Between 11.00 am and 12.00 pm Tim Laycock, well-known folk musician, actor and storyteller will be performing Dorset music and songs.

The event will help the Museum update the William Barnes Gallery which is dedicated to Dorset’s greatest dialect poet. Some of the money will also be put towards the purchase of a portrait of Giles Dugdale – an author and previous member of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society which runs the Museum. The portrait, together with a collection of manuscripts, books and cuttings relating to William Barnes, are part of a private family collection and are being sold for £3,000.

Giles Dugdale

Giles Dugdale, Oil on canvas, 1923. Wilfred Gabriel de Glehn RA (1870-1951)

“Giles Dugdale played a key role in bringing the literary genius of William Barnes, Dorset’s greatest dialect poet, to light,” said Jon Murden, Director of Dorset County Museum. “He was also co-founder of the Museum and therefore his portrait is an important part of our Dorset heritage.”

The William Barnes Society has already donated £500 towards the purchase of the portrait. It is hoped that the fundraising event on 30th August will raise the rest of the funds needed to keep the portrait in its rightful place in Dorset County Museum.
For more information about the project, or to make a donation,please contact Jenny Cripps at the Museum on jenny@dorsetcountymuseum.org

For more information please Tel: 01305 262735 or visit our website at www.dorsetcountymuseum.org.

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