enisled crowns, and kings and queens,

and their paraphernalia. I delight to see score of happy children sitting huddled all round the dainty fare, eyeing the cake tad each other, with faces sonny enough to thaw the white snow. I like to see 4be taxing silence which is kept so religiously while the large knife goes its round, and the glistening eyes which ked beforehand on the huge slices, dark with citron and plums, and heavy as fold. And then, when the "Characters" are drawn, is it nothing to watch the peeping delight which escapes from their little eyes? One is proud, as king ; another stately, as queen; then there are two whispering grotesque secrets which they ntain (those are sir Gregory

Goose and sir Tunbelly Clumsy.) The boys laugh out at their own misfortunes; but the little girls (almost ashamed of their prices) sit blushing and silent. It is not until the lady of the house goes round, that some of the more extravagant fictions are revealed. And then, what a roar of mirth 1 Ha, ha! The ceiling shakes, and the air is torn. They bound from their seats like kids, and insist on seeing Miss Thompson's card. Ahl what merry spite isproclaimed—what ostentatious pity! The little girl is almost in tears; but the large lump of allotted cake is placed seasonably in her hands, and the glass of sweet wine 'all round' drowns the shrill urchin laughter, and a gentler delight prevails." Does not this make a charming picture?

There is some difficulty in collecting accounts of the manner wherein TwelfthDifrht is celebrated in the country. In '"Time's Telescope," an useful and entertaining annual volume, there is a short reference to the usage in Cumberland, and other northern parts of England. It seems that on Twelfth-night, which finishes their Christmas holidays, the rustics meet in a large room. "They begin dancing at seven o'clock, and finish at twelve, when they sit down to lobscouse, and ponsondie.; the former is made of beef, potatoes, and onions fried together; and in ponsondie we recognise the wassail or waes-hael of ale, boiled * with sugar and nutmeg, into ■hich are put roasted apples,—the anciently admired lambs'-wool. The feast is paid for by subscription : two women »re chosen, who with two wooden bowls

eced one within the other, so as to H an opening and a space between

them, go round to the female part of the society in succession, and what one puts into the uppermost bowl the attendant collectress slips into the bowl beneath it. All are expected to contribute something, but not more than a shilling, and they are best esteemed who give most. The men choose two from themselves, and follow the same custom, except that as the gentlemen are not supposed to be altogether so fair in their dealings as the ladies, one of the collectors is furnished with pen, ink, and paper, to set down the subscriptions as soon as received.

If a satirical prophecy in " Vox Graculi," 4to. 1623, may be relied on as authority, it bears testimony to the popularity of Twelfth-night at that period. On the 6th of January the author declares, that "this day, about the houres of 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10, yea, in some places till midnight well nigh, will be such a massacre of spice-bread, that, ere the next day at noon, a two-penny browne loafe will set twenty poore folkes teeth on edge. Which hungry humour will hold so violent, that a number of good fellowes will not refuse to give a statute-marcbant of all the lands and goods they enjoy, for half-a-crown's worth of two-penny pasties." He further affirms, that there will be " on this night much masking in the Strand, Cheapside, Holbourne, or Fleetstreet."

"The twelve days of Christmas," as the extent of its holidays, were proverbial; but among labourers, in some parts, the Christmas festivities did not end till Candlemas. Old Tusser, in his "Five Hundred Points of good Husbandry," would have the merriments end in six days; he begins January with this advice to the countryman:

When Christmas is ended,

bid feasting atlue, Goe play the good husband,

thy stock to renue: Be mindful of rearing,

in hope of a gaine, Dame Profit shall give thee

reward for thy paine. This was the recommendation of prudence tempered by kindness; a desire for diligence in the husbandman, with an allowance of reasonable pastime to sweeten his labour.

From Naogeorgus, in "The Popish Kingdome," a poem before quoted, and which will be frequently referred to for its lata regarding our ancient customs, it is to be gathered, that the king of Twelfthnight, after the manner of royalty, appointed his officers. He himself attained his dignity thus:

Then also every householder,

to his abilities,
Doth make a mightie cake, that may

suffice his companies :
Herein a pennie doth he put,

before it come to fire,
This he divides according as

his householde doth require,
And every peece distributeth,

as round about they stand,
Which in their names unto the poors

is given out of hand:
But who so chaunceth on the peece

wherein the money lies,
Is counted king amongst them all,

and is with showtes and cries
Exalted to the heavens up.

Mr. Fosbroke notices, that "the cake was full of plums, with a bean in it for the king, and a pea for the queen, so as to determine them by the slices. Sometimes a penny was put in the cake, and the person who obtained it, becoming king, crossed all the beams and rafters of the house against devils. A chafingdish with burning frankincense was also lit, and the odour snuffed up by the whole family, to keep off disease for the year. After this, the master and mistress went round the house with the pan, a taper, and a loaf, against witchcraft."

So far Mr. Fosbroke abridges Naogeorgus's account, which goes on to say, that

— in these dayes beside. They judge what weather all the yeare

shall happen and betide: Ascribing to each day a month,

and at this present time, The youth in every place doe flocke,

and all apparel d fine, With pypars through the streetes they runne,

and singe at every dare.

# • • • •

There cities are, where boyes and gyrles,

together still do runne, About the streete with like, as soone

as night beginnes to come, And bring abrode their wassel bowles,

who well rewarded bee, With cakes and cheese, and great good cheare,

and money plenteouslee. Queen Elizabeth's Progresses by Mr. Nichols, contain an entertainment to her at Sudley, wherein were Melibams, the king of the Bean, and Nisa, the queen of the Pea.

"Mel. Cut the cake: who hath the beane,

shall be King; and where the peaze is, she shall be Queene.

"NU. I have the peaze, and must be Queene.

"Mel. I have the beans, and King; I must commande."

Pinkerton's "Ancient Scottish Poems," contain a letter from sir Thomas Randolph, queen Elizabeth's chamberlain of the Exchequer, to Dudley lord Leicester, dated from Edinburgh on the 15th January, 1563, wherein he mentions, that Lady Flemyng was "Queen of the Beene" on Twelfth-day in that year: and in Ben Jon son's Masque of Christmas, Baby-cake, one of the characters, is attended by " an Usher, bearing a great cake with a bean, and a pease." Herrick, the poet of our festivals, has several allusions to the celebration of this day by our ancestors: the poem here subjoined, recognises its customs with strict adherence to truth, and in pleasant strains of joyousness.


Now, now the mirth comes
With the cake full of plums,
Where beane's the king of the sport here
Beside, we must know,
The pea also
Must revel], as queene in the court here.
Begin then to chase,
This night as ye use,
Who shall for the present delight here,
Be a king by the lot,
And who shall not
BeTwelfe-day queene for the night here.
Which knowne, let us make
Joy-sops with the cake;
And let not a man then be seen here.
Who unurg'd will not drinke,
To the base from the brink,
A health to the king and the queene here.
Next crowne the bowle full
With gentle lambs-wooll;
Adde sugar, nutmeg, and ginger,
With store of ale, too;
And thus ye must doe
To make the wassaile a swinger.
Give them to the king
And queene wassailing;
And though with ale ye be whet here;
Yet part ye from hence,
As free from offence,
As when ye innocent met here.

A citation by Brand represents the ancient Twelfth-night-cake to have been composed of flour, honey, ginger, and pepper. The maker thrust in, at random, a small coin as she was kneading it. When baked, it was divided into as many parts as there were persons in the family, and each had his share. Portions of it were also assigned to Christ, the Virgin, and the three Magi, and were given in alms.

On Twelfth-day the people of Germany and the students of its academies chose a king with great ceremony and sumptuous feastings.

In France, the Twelfth-cake is plain, with a bean; the drawer of the slice containing the bean is king or queen. All drink to her or his majesty, who reigns, lad receives homage from all, during the evening. There is no other drawing, and consequently the sovereign is the only distinguished character. In Normandy they place a child under the table, which is so covered with a cloth that he cannot see; and when the cake is divided, one of the company taking up the first piece, cries out, " Fabe Domini pour qui!'' The child answers, " Pour ie bou Dieu:" and in this manner the pieces are allotted to the company. If the bean be found in the piece for the "bon Dieu," the king is chosen by drawing long or short straws. Whoever gets ■he bean chooses the king or queen, according as it happens to be a man or «oman. According to Brand, under the old order of things, the Epiphany was kept at the French court by one of the courtiers being chosen king, and the other nobles attended an entertainment on the occasion; but, in \792, during the evolution, La Fete de Rois was abolished; Twelfth-day was ordered to be called La Fete de Sans-Culottes; the old feast was declared anti-civic; and any Priest keeping it was deemed a royalist. The Literary Pocket Book affirms, that at File de Itoit the French monarch and his nobles waited on the Twelfthlight king, and that the custom was not revived on the return of the Bourbons, but that instead of it the royal family washed the feet of some people and gave them alms.

There is a "difference of opinion as to the origin of Twelfth-day. Brand says, "that though its customs vary in different countries, yet they concur in the same end, that is, to do honour to the Eastern Magi." He afterwards observes, "that the practice of choosing 'king,' on Twelfth-day, is similar to a custom that existed among the ancient Greeks and Romans, who, on the festival days of Saturn, about this season of the year,

drew lots for kingdoms, and like kings exercised their temporary authority." Indeed, it appears, that the question is almost at rest. Mr. Fosbroke affirms that "the king of Saturnalia was elected by beans, and that from thence came our king and queen on this day." The coincidence of the election by beans having been common to both customs, leaves scarcely the possibility of doubt that ours is a continuation of the heathen practice under another name: Yet " some of the observances on this day are the remains of Druidical, and other superstitious ceremonies." On these points, if Mr. Fosbroke's Dictionary of Antiquities be consulted by the curious inquirer, he will there find the authorities, and be in other respects gratified.

The Epiphany is called Twelfth-day, because it falls on the twelfth day after Christmas-day. Epiphany signifies manifestation, and is applied to this day because it is the day whereon Christ was manifested to the Gentiles. Bourne in his Vulgar Antiquities, which is the substructure of Brand's Popular Antiquities, remarks that this is the greatest of the twelve holidays, and is therefore more jovially observed, by the visiting of friends and Christmas gambols, than any other.

Finally, on observances of this festival not connected with the Twelfth-night king and queen. It is a custom in many parishes in Gloucestershire on this day to light up twelve small fires and one large one; this is mentioned by Brand : and Mr. Fosbroke relates, that in some countries twelve fires of straw are made in the fields "to burn the old witch," and that the people sing, drink, and dance around it, and practise other ceremonies in continuance. He takes "the old witch " to be the Druidical God of Death. It is stated by sir Henry Piers, in genl. Vallancey's " Collectanea," that, at Westmeath, " on Twelve-eve in Christmas, they use to set up as high as they can a sieve of oats, and in it a dozen of candles set round, and in the centre one larger, all lighted ; this in memory of our saviour and his apostles, lights of the world." Sir Henry's inference may reasonably be doubted; the custom is probably of higher antiquity than he seems to have suspected.

A very singular merriment in the Isle of Man is mentioned by Waldron, in his history of that place. He says, that "during the whole twelve days of Christmas, there is not a barn unoccupied, and that every parish hires fiddlers at the public charge. On Twelfth-day, the tiddler lays his head in some one of the girls' laps, and a third person asks, who such a maid, or such a maid shall marry, naming the girls then present one after another; to which he answers according to his own whim, or agreeable to the intimacies he has taken notice of during this time of merriment. But whatever he says is as absolutely depended on as an oracle; and if he happens to couple two people who have an aversion to each other, tears and vexation succeed the mirth. This they call cutting off the fiddler's head; for, after this, he is dead for the whole year."

It appears from the Gentleman's Magazine, that on Twelfth-day 1731, the king and the prince at the chapel royal, St. James's, made their offerings at the altar, of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, according to custom, and that at night their majesties. 8cc. played at hazard for the benefit of the groom-porter. These offerings which clearly originate from the Roman church, and are not analogous to any ceremony of the church of England, continue to be annually made; with this difference, however, that the king is represented by proxy in the person of some distinguished officer of the household. In other respects the proceedings are conducted with the usual state.

[merged small][graphic]

Midwinter is over. According to astronomical reckoning, we have just passed that point in the earth's orbit, where the north pole is turned most from the sun. This position is represented in the diagram above, by the direction of the terminator, or boundary line of light and darkness, which is seen to divide the globe into two equal parts; the north pole, which is the upper pole in the figure, and all parts within 32§ degrees, being enveloped in constant darkness. We now trace the sun among the stars of the constellation Capricorn or sea-goat, and it is winter in the whole northern

hemisphere. At the beginning of January the earth is at its least distance from the sun, which is proved by measuring the apparent magnitude of that luminary by means of an instrument called a micrometer, his disc being now about 32 minutes of a degree; whereas at the opposite season, or at the beginning of July, near our Midsummer, his apparent diameter is only about 31 minutes. The coldness of winter therefore does not depend on the distance of the earth from the sun, but on the very oblique or slanting direction of his rays; less heat falling on any given part of the earth, than when the rays fall more direct. From the slanting direction of his rays they pass through a more dense region of the atmosphere, and are somewhat intercepted; while another cause of the cold is the shortness of our days and the length of our nights; the sun continuing only about seven hours and a half above the horizon, while he is absent for about sixteen hours and a half.

This position of the earth relatively to the sun is exemplified in the Popular Lectures on Astronomy, now delivering at the Assembly-room, Paul's Head, Cateaton-street, by Mr. John Wallis, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. His explanations of this noble science are familiarly and beautifully illustrated, by an original and splendid apparatus devised and constructed by his own hands. It consists of extensive mechanism and numerous brilliant transparencies. Mr. Wallis's lectures on Tuesday and Thursday next, the 18th and 20th of January, 1825, are under the patronage of the Lord Mayor. Here is a sure mode of acquiring astronomical knowledge, accompanied by the delightful gratification of witnessing a display of the heavens more bewitching than the mind can conceive. Ladies, and young persons especially, have a delightful opportunity of being agreeably entertained by the novelty and beauty of the exhibition and the eloquent descriptions of the enlightened lecturer.

The holly with its red berries, and the "fond ivy," still stick about our houses to maintain the recollection of the seasonable festivities. Let us hope that we may congratulate each other on having, while we kept them, kept ourselves within compass. Merriment without discretion is an abuse for which nature is sure to Danish us. She may suffer our violence for a while in silence; but she is certain to resume her rights at the expense of our health, and put us to heavy charges to maintain existence.

3anuarp 7.

St. Lucian . St. Cedd. St. Kentigerna. Si. Aldric. St. ThiUo. St. Canut. St. Lucian. This saint is in the calendar of the church of England on the following day, 8th of January. He was a learned Syrian. According to Butler, he corrected the Hebrew version of the Scriptures for the inhabitants of Palestine, during some years was separated from the Romish church, afterwards conformed to it, and died after nine years imprisonment, either by famine or the sword, on this day,1n the year 312. It further appears from Butler, that the A nans affirmed of St. Lucian, that to him Arms was indebted for his distinguishing doctrine, which Butler however


«T. Distaff's Day, Or Rock-day. The day after Twelfth-day was so called because it was celebrated in honour of the rock, which is a distaff held in the hand, from whence wool is spun twirling a ball below. It seems that burning of the flax and tow belonging to the women, was the men's diversion in the evening of the first day of labour after the twelve days of Christmas, and that the women repaid the interruption to their industry by sluicing the mischiefmakers. Herrick tells us of the custom in his Hesperides :—

St. Dutaff'* day, or the morrow after

Partly work, and partly play,
Ye must on S. Distaff's Day :
From the plough boone free your teame,
Then come home and fother them.
If the maides a spinning goe,
Burne the Max, and fire the tow;
» q •

Bring in pailcs of water then,

Let the maides bewash the men:

Give S. Distaffc all the right,

Then bid Christinas sport good-night.

And next morrow, every one

To his own vocation.

In elder times, when boisterous diversions were better suited to the simplicity

of rustic life than to the comparative refinement of our own, this contest between fire and water must have afforded great amusement.

Chronology. 1772. "An authentic, candid, and cir cumstancial narrative of the astonishing transactions at Stockwell, in the county of Surry, on Monday and Tuesday, the 6th and 7th days of January, 1772, containing a series of the most, surprising and unaccountable events that ever happened; which continued from first to last upwards of twenty hours, and at different places. Published with the consent and approbation of the family, and other parties concerned, to authenticate which, the original Copy is signed by them."

This is the title of an octavo tract published in " London,printed for J. Marks, bookseller, in St. Martin's-lane, 1772." It describes Mrs. Golding, an elderly lady, at Stockwell, in whose house the transactions happened, as a woman of unblemished honour and character; her niece, Mrs. Pain, as the wife of a farmer at Brixton-causeway, the mother of several children, and well known and respected in the parish; Mary Martin as an elderly woman, servant to Mr. and Mrs. Pain, with whom she had lived two years, having previously lived four years with Mrs. Golding, from whom she went into Mrs. Pain s service; and Richard Fowler and Sarah, his wife, as an honest,industrious, and sober couple, who lived about opposite to Mr. Pain, at the Brick-pound. These were the subscribing witnesses to many of the surprising transactions, which were likewise witnessed by some others. Another person who bore 'a principal part in these scenes was Ann Robinson, aged about twenty years, who had lived servant with Mrs. Golding but one week and three days. The "astonishing transactions" in Mrs. Golding's house were these:

On Twelfth-day 1772, about ten o'clock in the forenoon, as Mrs. Golding was in her parlour, she heard the china and glasses in the back kitchen tumble down and break; her maid came to her and told her the stone plates were falling from the shelf; Mrs. Golding went into the kitchen and saw them broke. Presently after, a row of plates from the next shelf fell down likewise, while she was there, and nobody near them; this

[ocr errors]
« ElőzőTovább »