7 JUNE 1913, Page 15


[To THE EDITOR Or THE "SPECTATOZ."1 SIR,—Your correspondent who writes about "Mothering Sunday" attributes to Herrick the saying, " Who goes a-mothering finds violets in the lane." This, however, is not a line of poetry but a popular proverb, current, or formerly current, in Westmorland, and perhaps elsewhere. It sug- gests, I suppose, the blessing which comes of filial affection, with a reference also to the customary gift of flowers from the children to the mother, who in her turn makes the simnel cake for the children. Herrick's reference to the observance is this "I'll to thee a simnel bring

'Gainst thou goest a-mothering, So that when she blesseth thee, Half that blessing thou'lt give me."

The lines are headed " To Dianeme: a Ceremony in Gloucester," whence we gather that it was not observed in Herrick's own county, Devonshire. We note also that in this case the simnel was to be carried as an offering to the mother, and with regard to this the usage evidently varies. In my younger days the ceremony was quite well known in Shrop- shire, and I hope it is still kept up. There, I believe, it was the mother who provided the simnel cake. Recently I have had evidence of the existence of the custom in Huntingdon- shire, but in the instance that came under my notice I believe it had been imported from Yorkshire, which seems to be, or to have been once, a great centre for this observance. At Altrincham, too, I am told, it is well known. As to the origin, it probably has to do with the keeping of Mid-Lent as a holiday, which is customary in countries where Lent is a reality; and to this probably the name "Refreshment Sunday" refers rather than to any lesson, epistle, or gospel appointed for the