Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/404

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[Cornelia, the Moor, and three other ladies discovered
winding Marcello's corse. A song.

Cor. This rosemary is withered, pray get fresh;
I would have these herbs grow up in his grave,
When I am dead and rotten. Reach the bays,
I'll tie a garland here about his head:
'Twill keep my boy from lightning. This sheet
I have kept this twenty years, and every day
Hallow'd it with my prayers. I did not think
He should have worn it."

The shroud, which was white, was often stuck with bits of yew. This practice is referred to in Twelfth Night (ii. 4): "My shroud of white, stuck all with yew."

The customary wake that intervened between death and burial, had changed somewhat with the passage of years. Originally the dearest friends and the nearest relatives met solemnly and sedately for the purpose of watching the corpse during the brief time it remained above the ground. The wake, however, soon degenerated into a feast of wild revelry and intoxication. Throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it continued to be of this character. So unbecoming, indeed, was the behaviour of guests and relatives at this time that the celebration of the wake bordered upon sacrilege.

Before burial the corpse was amply decorated.