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dens of the rich or of the great of this world, where exotics hloom nursed by artificial heat. These lowlier flowers blossom near the churches in which the people have been baptised, amongst the graves in which their fathers sleep, and on the sunny heights of their loved fatherland, where the ivy climbs around the crumbling nuns of the past,—and where children love to play.
"In the midst of scenes such as these, gentle reader, did the legend of ' The Red Book' find its origin; and if you will lend mo your attention for a brief space, I will gladly relate it you .
"In a small town of our beloved fatherland, there lived long years ago, a handicraftsman who went by the name of Master Martin. Day and night did he ply his trade with all diligence, often singing a hymn as he worked—for he feared God, and there was much peace in his heart and in his house, although it was scant of earthly store. Many of his neighbours who took less pains than he did, prospered more, and flourished like trees planted by the river-side, but as for Master Martin, he earned his daily bread, and that was all. One possession, however, he had which he valued much,—a garden plot on the town wall,—very small and very sunny, and containing an arbour covered with honeysuckles. This garden was Martin's delight, and here he might every evening be seen tending his plants, watching their growth with interest, or, perchance, sitting in his arbour, meditating over God's word and works, thinking how fair this world was now; how much fairer it would yet one day be, when that promise should be fulfilled, ' I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you."
"Absorbed in thoughts such as these, he sat one evening in his arbour, gazing upon the setting sun. As he was thus engaged, a stranger suddenly entered the garden, greeted him with friendly courtesy, spoke of the beauty of the evening and the sunny aspect of the garden, and was vol. T.
altogether so kindly and gracious in his manners that Master Martin felt his heart drawn towards the stranger, and requested him to sit down and rest himself in the arbour.
"The stranger willingly accepted the invitation, laid Ids Spanish cloak aside, took off his plumed hat, and then placed a large book on the table. This book was bound in red leather, enriched with much gilding, and letters of foreign character in massive gold stood out in bold relief upon the binding.
"Every moment that Master Martin passed in the company of this stranger seemed to increase the attraction which he felt towards him, —there was something so condescending in his manner; he inquired with so much friendly interest after his wife and children, his work and his earnings, that poor Martin's heart opened itself out, and he told the stranger without reserve all Ms joys and all his griefs.
'" You might be a much more prosperous man than you are, Master Martin,' observed the visitor at length, in a friendly tone, 'and I have come to you in a happy hour. I am a travelling merchant, and require an abundant stock of goods; let us enter into partnership together; you will never repent the bargain. I will give your goods the preference, no matter how large the supply you have to offer me, and I will pay you a double price for them; but in return you must pledge yourself to work for no one but me. You must also work every day in the week, Sundays included; you can easily overtake the church-going thus neglected by-and-by, when you have become a prosperous man, and have nothing else to do. So, now do not waste time or thought upon the subject, but write your name in this Red Book; the partnership between us will then be completed—and here is the earnestmoney for you,' added the singular visitant, throwing, at the same time, a well-filled purse upon the table. 'And,' continued he, 'as we have no ink at hand, take this small knife and make a little cut in your arm— blood writes as well as ink.'
Christian World ifagaane, April, 1866.
"At first the words of the stranger had sounded like organ-tones of melody in the ears of the astonished Martin, but as he listened to the terms of the agreement—the Sunday work—the bloody signature— his heart sank within him; he cast his eyes to the ground—he fancied that he caught a glimpse of a cloven foot; and regaining all his energy, he exclaimed—
'" Ha! now I know thee well, thou bird of evil omen!'
"So saying, he firmly grasped the knife, made a deep incision in his arm, and dipping the pen in the blood, wrote in the stranger's Red Book, ' Christ is my life!'
"No sooner had the stranger read this sentence, than he gnashed his teeth, and clenched his fists in impotent rage, and then hastily dis
appeared; but he left Ids Red Book behind him!!
"At this moment the evening bells began to chime, announcing the approach of the blessed day of rest. Master Martin sank on his knees, and with clasped hands, exclaimed, 'Christ, Thou art my life.'
"Martin took the Red Book home with him, and then brought it to the town-councillor, who, after examining its contents, caused it to be burned by the hand of the executioner.
"Many names, alas! were found written in that book, names of poor and rich, of great and small.
"Reader, let us take heed that our names be not found written therein, but rather in the 'Lamb's Book of Life.'"
MEMORANDA OF THE MONTHS.
By The Editor.
"Next came fresh April!, fall of lustyhed,
And wanton as a kid whose home new buds;
Europa noting through th' Argolick fluids.
And garnished with garlands goodly dight,
The Latin name of this month is Aprilis, from Aperio, to open or set forth, hence our April, referring of course to the general development of nature, its awakening from the icy sleep of winter—so to speak, its opening at this season of the year. The Saxons called it Oster, or Eastermonath, because at this time they celebrated a great festival in honour of the goddess Eastre or Eastor, probably the same as the Astarte of the Oriental world.
Though Spenser depicts April as a rollicking boy riding on a prancin g bull (in allusion to the zodiacal sign Taurus), the more general representation of this month is that of a fair young virgin, clad in green, crowned with myrtle and hawthorn
CknXian H'orW Itatxmnt, April, IMS.
buds, holding in one hand primroses and violets, and in the other the zodiacal sign. April is also compared to a fickle maiden, coquetting with her lover, perpetually changing her mind, and perplexing her enamoured swain, whom one day she greets with smiles and caresses, and the next with frowns and pouts, and sullen looks, and ever and anon, when she has driven him away through her unkindness, weeping and sighing till she gets him back again.
The first of the month is popularly called All Fools' Day. Its observance, is, however, rapidly dying away, and is now confined to the very lowest circles of society; but the custom of making " April fools"
is undoubtedly of great antiquity, and not confined to European nations alone; for Colonel Pearce, in his "Asiatic Researches," proves it to have been an immemorial practice among the Hindoos, who kept what was called the Hula Festival on the oldest of March; and Mussulmans of
high rank, not half a century ago, were extremely fond of the joke of making Huli fools. Some authors attribute the origin of All Fools' Day to an eastern legend, too lengthy and ridiculous to transcribe in these memoranda. Suffice it to say that—
"From Chitiock't Isle, told by some sacred man,
The French call the person whom they make an April fool," uu Jioiston itAvril:" a term not so easily accounted for as our own.
But this year, |A.D. 1866, the imstomary jokes cannot possibly transpire, for on the 1st of April ixx-urs the great sacred festival of Easter Sunday! We borrow the word Easter, of course, like that of Lent, from our Saxon and heathen ancestors, who kept at this season the feast of their goddess Easter.
"Easter-day, on which all movable feasts of the Church depend, falls always on the first Sunday after the full moon, which happens upon or next after, the '21st day of March; and if the full moon happens upon u Sunday, Easter-day is the Sunday after. Therefore if the 21st of March should fall on Saturday, and the moon be at the full, the next day, Sunday, would be Easterday, March 22 being, it must be noted, the earliest day on which it is possible that Easter Sunday can occur ; but I find on looking through a table of movable feasts for fifty four years, it never once falls on the -'2nd of March, and only twice, to wit, in the years 1843 and 183(i, on March 28. Indeed, out of the whole fifty-four years, forty Easter Sundays are in April, and in the other fourteen years, Easter-day never occurs in March twice consecutively. This year, the full moon being on Saturday, the 31st of March, the next day, as a matter of (nurse, must be Easter Sunday. The -5th of April is the very latest date at which Easter Sunday can occur."
But to understand the subject
clearly, it is necessary to revert to the origin of the festival, instituted in honour of the glorious Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, on the third day after His execution as a common malefactor. The early Church fixed on Friday as the day on which His death should be commemorated, and as that terrible and pathetic tragedy was enacted on the day of the full moon, the first full moon after the 21st of March was chosen as the regulator of the festival, the great point being to prevent the feast of Easter-day from being observed on the day of a full moon, but as near to it as circumstances would permit. The Jews observe their Passover by juster rules, for they celebrate it on different days of the week. The French call this festival Paques, derived from the Greek pattella, which come * from the Hebrew pesech, signifying passover: and hence is our English word paschal, applied to the lamb which formed part of the evening meal, the last of which our blessed Lord partook! on the night of His betrayal, when He met with His disciples in the "upper chamber."
Easter-day is observed all over Christendom, by the Protestant, Greek, and Romish Churches; in the latter. High Mass is celebrated with great pomp and ceremony, and the Host is adored with the greatest reverence. This host, derived from the Latin word hnstia, a victim, is a circular, so-called consecrated wafer, composed of flour and water only, because the bread which our Lord took was unleavened bread, such as is used by the Jews in Passover
C'ArMf m World Utetu:-.t, April, VST.
week, even to the present time. In into exulting strains of sacred liar-
"As when the paschal week is o'er
The breat h of sacred song,
Or deepening rolls along.''
The poet also refers to the custom of putting up evergreen boughs at Easter, as at Christmas-time, which custom is very prevalent in the south of England.
Easter Monday and Tuesday are observed as holidays in every part of the country: not at all as holy days, alas! for the multitude, as a rule, instead of innocently indulging in necessary relaxation from toil, and healthy rambles in the open air, spend much of their time in drinking and noisy revellings. The custom of "lifting " on Easter Monday and Tuesday is still extant in Lancashire and some of the midland counties: the men lift or heave the women, and the women the men, sometimes in a chair, sometimes in a horizontal position; and from every one lifted a contribution is extorted. The contribution will, however, generally purchase exemption from the ceremony, which to gentlemen who are unlucky enough to stray into certain quarters, far from aristocratic, on that particular day, cannot be exactly agreeable. Decidedly this custom is more honoured in the breach than the observance, as its absurdity, vulgarity, and oftentimes indelicacy, are unquestionable.
But still it is a very ancient custom, and was once practised in "high life," not " below stairs!" In the records of the Tower of London occurs an entry of certain monies paid to ladies of the Court and maids of honourfor " taking King Edward I. in his bed, at Easter," from which entry it is presumed that he was lifted according to the custom then prevalent among all ranks throughout the kingdom. The usage is said to be a vulgar, and to our minds shockingly profane commemoration
ChriHitm World ilagazint. Avr
or rather travesty of the Resurrection, which the festival of Easter celebrates.
Another, and far more refined relic of ancient times, are the eggs which pass about at Easter, under the name of pask. or paste, or paee eggs. In the north of England, a very few years ago, I had an opportunity myself of examining these eggs, several of which were sent to me as the proper compliment of the season. They were all ornamented in various designs and colours: on one my name being inscribed in white on a deep rose-coloured ground ; on another certain designs being traced in white and green and amber. The common method of preparing the eggs is first to boil them very hard, then to write on them while still warm, with the end of a tallow candle, any letters you please, and then to place the egg in fl hot preparation of cochineal and water, or any other dye you may select. The part over which the tallow has passed is impervious to the operation of the dye, and consequently the egg re-appears with a clear white inscription on a coloured ground. There are other and more laborious modes of ornamenting "pace eggs," but I need not specify them here. Suffice it to say that some of these designs are extremely pretty and fanciful, and require no small ingenuity and patience on the part of the operator.
Four hundred eggs were bought for eighteenpence in the time of Edward I.,as appears by a royal roll in the Tower, which also states that they were purchased for the purpose of being boiled and stained, or covered with gold leaf, and afterwards distributed to the royal household. They were formerly consecrated : on Easter-evo and Easterday the heads of families used to send to the Church large chargers filled with hard-boiled eggs, and there the "creature of eggs" became sacred by virtue of holy water, crossings and the like.
The old custom of eating tunny pudding at Easter is also derived from a bygone Romish practice, intended to symbolize the bitter herbs used by the Jews at their passover; but that the people might also show a proper abhorrence of these unfortunate Jews, they ate from a gammon of bacon at the same time ; "as many still do in country places," says Mr. Hone, in 1826, "at thisseason, without knowing from whence this practice is derived."
On the 6th of April, 1848, died the celebrated Laura, whom Petrarch has immortalized! She was born in 1304, and the poet first saw her in a church at Avignon: she appears to have returned his passion with indifference, which was certainly very much to her credit,
since she was undoubtedly married when he first beheld her. Petrarch fostered his love at Vaucluse, where he composed sonnet after sonnet to her beauty: he survived her six and thirty years.
April 21st is about the average day of arrival of the cuckoo: at least its voice is commonly heard about that time; but in early seasons it has been known to sing as soon as the 9th of April, and occasionally, when the spring is unusually retarded, as late as May 7th. About the same period, or earlier, the swallow is also seen, and towards the end of the month the martin appears, and we may occasionally listen to the corncrake's unmelodious note, if the weather be entirely favourable.
The 19th of April is the anniversary of Lord Byron's death. He expired at Missolonghi. 1N24, in the flower of his age, a morbid, melancholy, disappointed man. Mrs. Barrett Browning, in her " Vision of Poets," introduces him as
"Poor proud Byron, sad as grave, And salt as lii'e : forlornly brave, And quivering with the dart he drave."
April 23rd is St. George's day, and St. George must be a personage of note, since he is our own especial patron saint; and " St. George for merrie England!" was the old battlecry of our stalwart warlike ancestors ages long ago! Who, then, was St. George? The Greeks long distinguished him as "the great martyr,' and five or six of the churches in Constantinople were dedicated to him; moreover, the Byzantine chronicles relate how battles were gained and miracles wrought by his intercession. He is said to have been a great soldier, and chosen by our forefathers as tutelary saint, under the first Norman kings ; and in 1222 the council at Oxford commanded his feast to be kept as a holiday of the lesser rank. Under his name and ensign onr Edward III. instituted the most noble order of knighthood in Europe, and this institution was prior to that of St. Michael of
France, by Louis XL, full fifty years, and eighty years to that of the Golden Fleece, by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy; and, says Butler, the elaborate biographer of saints :—" The extraordinary devotion of all Christendom to this saint is an authentic proof how glorious his triumph and name have always been in the Church." Still the question remains unanswered— "Who was St. George, our patron saint?"
We are told that he was a native of Cappadocia; that he went with his mother into Palestine, where she had a considerable estate, being, in fact, a daughter of that country. This estate fell to her son George, who was a soldier, and became "a tribune or colonel in the army," wherein he was further promoted by the Emperor Diocletian, to whom he resigned his commission and posts, when that potentate waged war against the Christian religion.
PArwfitwt World llaoaiint, April, ISfW.