Kilvert's Diary, 1870-1879. Selections from the Diary of
The Rev. Francis Kilvert.
Chosen, Edited & Introduced by
William Plomer (1944; rpt. London: Jonathan Cape, 1964), pp. 28-29 (April 17, 1870):
The happiest, brightest, most beautiful Easter I have ever spent.
I woke early and looked out. As I had hoped the day was cloudless,
a glorious morning. My first thought was 'Christ is Risen'. It is
not well to lie in bed on Easter morning, indeed it is thought very
unlucky. I got up between five and six and was out soon after six.
There had been a frost and the air was rimy with a heavy thick white
dew on hedge, bank and turf, but the morning was not cold.
There was a heavy white dew with a touch of hoar frost on the
meadows, and as I leaned over the wicket gate by the mill pond
looking to see if there were any primroses in the banks but not
liking to venture into the dripping grass suddenly I heard the cuckoo
for the first time this year. He was near Peter's Pool and he called
three times quickly one after another. It is very well to hear the
cuckoo for the first time on Easter Sunday morning. I loitered up
the lane again gathering primroses.
The village lay quiet and peaceful in the morning sunshine, but
by the time I came back from primrosing there was some little stir
and people were beginning to open their doors and look out into
the fresh fragrant splendid morning.
There was a very large congregation at morning church, the
largest I have seen for some time, attracted by Easter and the splendour of the day, for they have here an immense reverence for Easter
Sunday. The anthem went very well and Mr. Baskerville complimented Mr. Evans after church about it, saying that it was sung in
good tune and time and had been a great treat. There were more
communicants than usual: 29. This is the fifth time I have received
the Sacrament within four days. After morning service I took
Mr. V. round the churchyard and showed him the crosses on his
mother's, wife's, and brother's graves. He was quite taken by surprise and very much gratified. I am glad to see that our primrose
crosses seem to be having some effect for I think I notice this Easter
some attempt to copy them and an advance towards the form of the
cross in some of the decorations of the graves. I wish we could get
the people to adopt some little design in the disposition of the
flowers upon the graves instead of sticking sprigs into the turf
aimlessly anywhere, anyhow and with no meaning at all. But one
does not like to interfere too much with their artless, natural way
of showing their respect and love for the dead. I am thankful to
find this beautiful custom on the increase, and observed more and
more every year. Some years ago it was on the decline and nearly
discontinued. On Easter Day all the young people come out in
something new and bright like butterflies. It is almost part of their
religion to wear something new on this day. It was an old saying
that if you don't wear something new on Easter Day, the crows will
spoil everything you have on.
Between the services a great many people were in the churchyard
looking at the graves. I went to Bettws Chapel in the afternoon.
It was burning hot and as I climbed the hill the perspiration rolled
off my forehead from under my hat and fell in drops on the dusty
road. Lucretia Wall was in chapel looking pale and pretty after her
illness. Coming down the hill it was delightful, cool and pleasant.
The sweet suspicion of spring strengthens, deepens, and grows more
sweet every day. Mrs. Pring gave us lamb and asparagus at dinner.