Boul-Janus, or Voldanus; and much venerated by the Armorican Gauls. The people came three times a-year to adore him in this temple: upon the third of the Ides of January, at the Nones of April, and the Calends of August. Albert le Grand quotes a very ancient Latin Manuscript, in which it is stated that Boulianus was an Armorican divinity, represented with three heads enclosed in a triangle; and underneath, the letters 'A, N,,' signifying, the beginning, the middle, and the end. This image had a globe beneath it. It bore in its right hand a thunderbolt, and seemed as if about to launch it, whilst with its left hand it guided the clouds. One of its feet rested on the land, and the other on the water. The sig nification of the statue was, that it was Janus governing the earth. This temple was destroyed when Constantine the Great was Emperor, and Eumenius occupied the see of Nantes."

In quoting this last passage, it is only necessary to remark, that the statue here described must be regarded as an embodiment of the Druid's conception of a Trinity, combined with an omnipotent power over the land, sea, and air.

II. Amongst the early heresies, was one that maintained Christ to be "the sun"!

"The half-philosophical and semi-heathenish sects," observes Herr Paulus Cassel, in his learned work on Christmas, recently published in Germany, "confounded the worship of Mythra, or the Sun, with that of Christ Himself. Tertullian has recounted that some have supposed the Sun was our God.' The Manicheans said, Christ is the Sun;' and hence, in their festivals, they laid especial claim to the Sun-day. It is the sun,' says St. Augustine to them, that you honour on the Sunday.' Let the heretics be dumb,' says St. Cyril of Jerusalem, 'who declare that Christ is the Sun; He is the Creator of the sun, and not the shining orb itself." "

The first gross abuses that manifested themselves in Christian countries, in connexion with the observance of the Christmas festivals, took place upon "the first of January," and not upon "Christmas Day" itself. In that sermon of St. Eloy, which the Rev. Mr. Maitland has popularised in his truly valuable book, The Dark Ages, it will be seen that, amongst the many superstitions of the time denounced by the saint, though he particularises the improprieties of what occurred upon the Calends of January, he makes no reference to any as taking place upon Christmas Day. Information upon this point will be found in the annexed extract from Butler's Lives of the Saints:

"The Calends of January were solemnized with licentious shows in honour of Janus and the goddess Strenia; and it is from those infamous diversions that, among Christians, are derived the profane riots of New Year's Day, Twelfthtide, and Shrovetide; by which many pervert these times into days of sin and intemperance. Several councils severely condemn these abuses; and the better to prevent them, some churches formerly kept the 1st of January a fast day; as it is mentioned by St. Isidore of Seville (lib. ii. offic. c. 40); Alcuin (Lib. de Div. Offic.), &c. Dom Martene observes (Lib. de Antiquis Ritibus in Celebr. Div. Offic., c. 13) that, on this account, the second Council of Tours in 567 ordered that on the calends of the Circumcision the Litany be sung, and high mass be

gun only at the eighth hour, that is, two in the afternoon; that it might be finished by three, the hour at which it was allowed to eat on the fasts of the stations. We have among the works of the Fathers many severe invectives against the superstitions and excesses of this time. See St. Austin (Serm. 198, .in hunc diem); St. Peter Chrysologus (Serm. in Calendas); St. Maximus of Turin (Hom. 5, apud Mabill. in Museo Italico); Faustinus, the Bishop (apud Bolland. hac die, p. 3), &c. The French name étrennes is Pagan, from strena, or new year's gifts, in honour of the goddess Strenia. The same in Poitou and Pache, anciently the country of the Druids, is derived from their rites. For the Poitevins, for étrennes use the word Auguislanneuf ; and the Percherons Eguilans, from the ancient cry of the Druids, Au guy l'an neuf, i. e. Ad viscum, annus novus, or to the misletoe, the new year, when, on New Year's Day, the Pagans went into the forests to seek the misletoe on the oaks."

"A long time," says the Rev. M. Manet, "after the abolition of Druidism, it was the custom among the populace, and young persons in our provinces, to go about the streets crying out, on the first day of the new year, Aguilaneuf, or, the misletoe (gui)' of the new year; and by a still greater corruption of the word, Hauguillané; both as a token of rejoicing, as well as an excuse for seeking a present from all they were acquainted with."


The same author, Manet, points out other remnants of heathen manners, but still more gross and shameful. They will be found illustrative of the statements made by the Rev. Alban Butler.

III. "Upon 17th November, 566, in the sixth year of the reign of King Caribert, King of Paris, was opened the Second Council of Tours, for the confirmation of that which had been transacted at Paris in the year 557. This Council recommended the removal of all the filth of Pagan superstitions, then remaining in the land. Notwithstanding its anathemas, several of these idolatrous customs did not disappear until a much later period.”

Amongst the practices so denounced, and that were perpetuated for a long time, the author mentions" that of men disguising themselves as deer, and other animals, and running about the country in various grotesque disguises, and committing all sorts of follies."

IV. "On the 23rd April, 1431," the Rev. M. Manet states, "Philip de Coetquis, Archbishop of Tours, presided over the Provincial Council of Nantes, at which several remarkable canons were promulgated." Amongst these was a prohibition, under pain of excommunication, of celebrating what was called "La Fête des Fous," as well as of practising disorders which hitherto had accompanied the festival of Easter Monday, and the anniversary of the first of May :

"The Fête des Fous," observes M. Manet, "was a farce worthy of the ancient Saturnalia, and which, upheld for a long time, was anew prohibited by the General Council of Bâle; and then by the Church of Troyes, on the 17th April, 1445; but still it did not fall into disuse, until the close of the sixteenth century. Such is the empire of folly over the human heart! It is difficult to believe that Christians should have selected the Church of God, and the altar itself, for a spectacle so indecent; and that any persons, calling themselves Ecclesiastics, should have taken part in it. They were, however, generally only young clerks who participated in the scandal. They, the chanters,

and the boys of the choir, selected one of their body; and dressed him up in bishop's vestments, with the wrong side outwards, and called him 'the master of the fête.' After making him mutter some words as if from a book, held upside down before him, and from which he pretended to read through a pair of spectacles made out of an orange peel, and fastened on his nose; whilst they, grotesquely dressed like him, occupied the principal seats in the choir; from which they subsequently descended to burn before him incense, that was composed of the smouldering smoke of old shoes. When this absurdity was at an end, there were then dances and profane songs; and a repast diversified by all sorts of buffooneries. The sham-bishop, accompanied by a crowd of idlers, was next led through the city; mounted upon a carriage, as if it were a triumphal car. The shouts of the mob, and the loose discourse of the licentious, were a fitting adornment to the crown of glory acquired by the hero of the day. Since the year 1198, had the Papal Legate, Peter of Capua, then at Paris, prohibited under pain of excommunication this impious and burlesque amusement, which used to take place in that capital on the 1st of January. The Council of Cognac, in the Archdiocese of Bordeaux, had, in the year 1260, denounced the same scandal under the name of the boy-bishop,' as being celebrated on the day of the Holy Innocents.' And yet, this sacrilegious derision of the episcopal dignity was persevered with in a great many places!"

[merged small][ocr errors]

"M. Vaysse (Descript. Rout. de l'Emp. Fr., 1813), and M. Malte-Brun (Préc. de Géog. Univ., vol. viii. p. 423), affirm that, even up to the present time, there is preserved at Sens the celebrated Dyptic, which contains the 'Office des Fous,' as well as that of the Fête de l'Ane,' according to the usage of that church. This last monstrosity," continues M. Manet, "falsely called 'religious,' was not, however, so universally prevalent as the other. Here is an account of the manner in which it was practised at Beauvais. A young girl, the most beautiful in the city, was selected for the purposes of the fête. She was placed upon an ass, richly caparisoned; and in her arms was a little child, that both might represent 'the flight into Egypt.' In this state, followed by the clergy, she was conducted in a procession from the Cathedral to the Church of St. Stephen. She was brought inside the sanctuary, and placed on the Gospel side, near the altar; and then the mass was begun. The Introit, the Kyrie, the Gloria, and the Credo, all that the people chanted (the matter is absolutely incredible, if it were not so thoroughly attested), terminated with the jolly

chorus of Hin-han! Hin-han!' The Prose, which commenced with these words-Orientis de partibus, adventavit asinus, pulcher et fortissimus, sarcinis aptissimus'was a pompous encomium of the animal with long ears, and each strophe finished with this polite invitation addressed to it: Hé, Sire âne, chantez! belle bouche, rechignez! Vous aurez de foin assez, et de l'avoine à planter.' In fine, the asinine animal was exhorted to forget his food, for the purpose of incessantly repeating 'Amen!' And the clergyman himself, instead of saying 'Ite, Missa est,' made three times be heard the melodious


intonations of Hin-han!'-to which the congregation responded with similar sounds!!!"

Such are abuses described by a Catholic clergyman, as being interpolated into the pious observances of Christmas times. A Lutheran has, with equal candour, exhibited the gross scandals

that followed in the train of the Reformation; and that, too, in a seeming religious attention to the festival of Christmas.

V. "Nothing worse could ever have occurred in Catholic churches, at Christmas time, in the fifteenth century," declares the Lutheran author, Paulus Cassel, in his Weihnachten, "than what happened during the eighteenth century in many Protestant towns, where the Morning Service was combined with popular indulgences and enjoyments. A well-meaning clergyman, at the close of the last century, writes to the following effect:-"The so-named matins (Frühmetten), which, to the honour of Christianity, have been done away with in most places, and that ought to be put an end to in others, were so outrageously bad, that they could serve for no other purpose than the dishonour of God and of the Redeemer.' The same person then describes the proceedings at Matins in Zillau:-Divine Service,' he says, 'began about four o'clock in the morning: the church was filled with lights, and music was playing, and songs were sung. The festival attracted multitudes of persons out of the neighbouring hill-villages; and every one of these came plenteously supplied with brandy and sweet cakes, which they were incessantly stuffing down their throats to protect themselves from the effects of the cold, and-to keep up Christmas! The church was crammed chock-full, and the clamour and clatter as great as if all the drums of a regiment had been beaten together. The awful steam from brandy, lights, and tobacco, filled the sacred edifice, and choked almost the only sober man then present, namely, the preacher; who, on account of the fearful turmoil, was not able to utter a single word: all he could do was to stand still, and look down from his pulpit at the riotous conduct of his congregation! Then were to be seen fuming flambeaux torn down from their sockets by the drunken people, and waved madly by them around the church. In another passage, the author tells of the misconduct of the women of Fühnen on a Christmas Eve, and avers, 'that such a passion for liquor is then exhibited, that the women are complete matches for the men in drunkenness." "

VI. Polydore Virgil (1470—1555), in his work, De gli Inventori delle Cose, when giving an account of the manner of celebrating the Christmas festivities by his contemporaries, pays this country the compliment of saying that an observance of them was especially upheld by the English: "E questo tale institutione si conserva particolarmente tra gl' Inglesi." He declares that the Italians imitated the fashions of the ancient Romans upon the first day of the new year, with joyful salutations, and mutual wishes of health and happiness; and that, like their forefathers, they indulged in dancing and singing, in the manner described by Virgil, which Polydore thus translates:

"Parte menan le danze lieti, e parte

Cantano versi.

Senza piu recordarsi feron balli

I nostri."

And then, we are informed, that Pope Zacharias had prohibited those practices; declaring that— "If any one should be so audacious as to celebrate the Calends of January, after the manner of the Pagans, or to do anything strange, on account of the new year; or to lay out in their houses tables with lights, or to have

banquets, or to go singing about the streets and squares; or to join in dancing parties: then all such persons should stand excommunicated and accursed."

Despite this prohibition, Polydore says, that the Italians in his day had public spectacles and amusements-sports, races, lance-throwing, and the recitation of comedies; and in their houses of worship, representations of the lives and martyrdoms of the saints; and, in order that each person might derive instruction as well as amusement from these representations, they were carried on in the vulgar tongue. Having mentioned the modern masquerade festivals of May, like to those of the goddess Flora-and of their torch-excursions in March, which were similar to the Cereali in honour of Ceres-he then proceeds to speak of Christmas, and says:

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

The editorial labours of the Bibliophile Jacob, and the enterprise of A. Delahays of Paris, have placed within reach of lovers of the "esprit gaulois" a delicious collection of these Vaux-deVire, and ancient Norman chansons-à-boire of the same epoch. The former edition (8vo, 1811), edited by M. Asselin and others, "dont il a été tiré cent exemplaires, dont douze seulement sur papier vélin," had become excessively rare. Dr. Dibdin, in his Bibliographical &c. Tour in France and Germany, gives an amusing account (vol. i. p. 428) of the skilful manner in which he succeeded in wheedling an uncut copy, in blue spotted paper," from M. de la Renandière, one of its editors. That delightful bibliographer, Charles Nodier, whose labours in the same field are so valuable, obtained his copy with less trouble.


D. de P., préfet du département, qui n'y a probablement "Le mien est celui qui a été offert par les éditeurs à M. pas attaché une grande importance; car je l'ai trouvé sur un quai."-Mélanges tirés d'une petite Bibliothèque. No. xxxiii. p. 249.

[blocks in formation]

MS. No. 1139, in the Imperial Library of Paris, contains a series of metrical compositions, accompanied by musical notes, remarkable, first, as being probably the most ancient specimens extant of the religious dramas of the Middle Ages (Journal des Savants, 1846, p. 6); and, secondly, for the curious mixture of Latin and Romance which some of them present. The MS. formerly belonged to the Abbey of St. Martial de Limoges, and consists of 235 leaves of small 4to (the size of a page of "N. & Q." without its margin.) I have selected a Mystery of the Nativity, all Latin, as the subject of a Note on the present occasion, not alone for its intrinsic merit, but principally because it.was very appropriately represented in the churches at the season of Christmas. M. de Coussemaker, in his splendid work, Histoire de l'Harmonie au Moyen Age (Paris, 1852), has given a fac-simile in chromo-lithography, drawn on the stone by his own hand, of several portions of the MS., and a translation of the music into a more modern notation. As the original is thus made readily accessible to those who desire to study it, I venture to subjoin, for the entertainment of those who take up the Christmas number of "N. & Q." mainly for amusement, a free English imitation, in which rhyming and metre are strictly adhered to, and as faithful a representation of the literal sense as possible given also.

The poem is a dialogue between the principal ecclesiastic or (as M. Maguin suggests, Journal des Savants, 1846, p. 88), some high dignitary, and certain witnesses and predictors of Christ's birth and advent, whom he summons in succession before him to give evidence. These would be represented by the priests and monks, costumed with some variety and richness, according to the rôle assigned to each, who would advance from their respective stalls when the turn came for them to chant their replies. (Fauriel, Histoire de la Poésie Provençale, iv. 257. Paris, 1846.) The three commencing verses, and the "Benedicamus" at the end, may perhaps have been sung by the whole choir. The representation begins with a song of praise :

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

"Thus 'tis: just is
God above us,

Yet he deigns to bless and love us."
Daniel is the next witness:-

"Daniel, tell us all
What's thy prophetical
View of the Lord of all."

Daniel replies from chap. ix. 24, 25:-
"At the end of weeks appointed,
Prince Messiah was anointed."
Habakkuk is summoned: -

"Habakkuk, display thy fitness

Of King Christ to offer witness."

The reply is founded on passages in the 3rd chapter of his prophecies:

"Who God's speech heareth, Trembleth feareth,
When his glory covers heaven;
When His horses, Through the courses

Of the sea, chastise the heathen."

"David of thine own descendant

Speak, while all are here attendant."

David's reply is taken from the beautiful Psalm given in 1 Chron. xvii. 31-33, and from Psalm

cx. 1:

[ocr errors]

I have searched unavailingly for the line in Virgil, and I have the authority of a distinguished professor, well acquainted with the text of Virgil, for saying that it is not there. He suggests that it may be Lucretius's, but this I cannot tell.

This closes the roll of the prophets. King who is addressed with wonderful incivility, as The second heathen witness is Nebuchadnezzar, David is next called upon:


lagenæ." This I imitate as follows:
"Bottle-nosed old toper, mention
What came under thy attention.
Nabuchodonosor, tell us truly

"Earth rejoices; Myriad voices

Hail the Lord's commencing reign:

Fields and trees all, Floods and seas all,

"Old Simeon ye may believe,
Who was so blest as to receive
A promise that his life on earth
Should last until the Saviour's birth."

[blocks in formation]

M. Maguin suggests that the second couplet was an optional variation if the first were thought too gross for use. I do not know whether there is any authority for representing Nebuchadnezzar as a drunkard. Perhaps it arises from some con

Roar, rejoice, and sing amain.

The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand." fusion with Belshazzar, and the feast which was

Simeon next comes forward:

"Blest Believer, I receive her,

As the mother of my Lord:
While, unbidden, Babes, though hidden
In the womb, their joy record."

John Baptist himself is next called upon, in a very irregular verse:—

He replies, Matt. iii. 11:

"Tell, O Baptist, Witness aptest,
Why thou praisedst Christ, when yet on life unentered:
Give glory to the Saviour, whom
Thou hailedst in thy mother's womb."

[blocks in formation]


Virgil answers, "Ecce polo demissa solo nova progenies est," which I venture to render : "See from heaven descending, the first of a new race on earth here."

What it was that checked thy course unruly."

his ruin. At any rate, I suppose that the person in the mystery who represented Nebuchadnezzar wore a grotesque mask, or was so got up as to give colour to the imputation. His reply is Dan. iii. 25:

"When raged the fire Full seven times higher

Than it is wont, I bound and cast

In it three men: Now four free men


Walk there-God's own Son the last.

Fire, that did but snap their fetters,
Burnt their enemy's abettors."

Last comes the Sibyl (of whom more if there were space) :

"Tell us, Sibyl, ere thou goest,

Signs of Christ, which thou foreknowest."

She replies:

"A sign of the judgment: earth in its sweat is dissolving;

From heaven descendeth the Ruler of ages yet future, Present with us in flesh, to be made the Judge of the whole world."

This forms the first strophe of a longer composition found in other MSS., which, from its frequent occurrence, would seem to have been very popular. The music attached to it is of a simple and beautiful character, and M. de Coussemaker regrets that it has not been preserved in the offices

« ElőzőTovább »