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fice to their gods, was first miserably tortured, and then put to death. 20.-TRANSLATION OF EDWARD, King of the
West Saxons. Edward, being barbarously murdered by his motherin-law, was first buried at Warham, without any solemnity; but, after three years, was carried by Duke Alferus to the minster of Shrewsbury, and there interred with great pomp.
21.-LONGEST DAY. This day is, in London, 16 h. 34 m. 5s., allowing 9 m. 16 s. for refraction. 24.-SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST, and MIDSUMMER
DAY. The nativity of Saint John the Baptist is celebrated by the Christian church on this day, because he was the Forerunner of our blessed Lord, and, by preach, ing the doctrine of repentance, prepared the way for the Gospel. His birth was foretold by an angel ; and bis peculiar office of Harbinger of Christ was predicted by the prophets. He passed an ascetic life, and, until the time of his preaching, retired into a wilderness, subsisting upon locusts and wild honey : his apparel was suitable to his hermitical life, being only a rough garment of camel's hair, tred with a leathern girdle. He was imprisoned by Herod for preaching against his marriage with his brother's wife, and was afterwards beheaded by the arts of that enraged woman. This festival is first noticed by Maximus Tauricensis, who lived about the year 400. : On the eve of St. John the Baptist, commonly called Midsummer Eve (observes Mr. Bourne), it is usual in most country places, and also here and there in towns and cities, for both old and young to meet together, and be merry over a large fire, which is made in the open street. Over this they frequently leap and play at various games, such as running, wrestling,
together, and beer. Over this tas running, w
dancing, &c. But this is generally the exercise of the younger sort; as the older ones, for the most part, sit by as spectators, and enjoy themselves and their bottle. And thus they spend the time till midnight, and sometimes till cock-crow.
Slow, in his Survey of London, tells us, that on the Vigil of St. John Baptist every man's door being shadowed with green birch, long fennel, St. John's wort, orpin, white lilies, and such like, garnished upon with garlands of beautiful flowers, had also lamps of glass, with oil burning in them all the night : some hung out branches of iron, curiously wrought, containing hundreds of lamps lighted at once. He mentions also the bone-fires in the streets, every man bestowing wood or labour towards them.
Some Midsummer-eye rites are thus noticed by Gay, in his Fourth Pastoral:
Ateve last Midsummer no sleep I sought,
With his keen scythe behind me came the youth. In the Connoisseur, No. 56, other curious ceremonies are noticed. I and my two sisters tried the dumb-cake together : you must know, two must make it, two bake it, two break it, and the third put
it under each of their pillows, (but you must not I speak a word all the time,) and then you will dream
of the man you are to have. This we did : and to be sure I did nothing all night but dream of Mr. Blossom. I likewise stuck up two Midsummer Men, one for myself and one for him. Now, if his had died away, we should never have come together, but I assure you his blowed and turned to mine. Our maid Betty tells me, that if I go backwards, without speaking a word, into the garden upon Midsummer Eve, and gather'a rose, and keep it in a clean sheet of paper, without looking at it, till Christmas Day, it will be as fresh as in June; and if I then stick it in my bosom, he that is to be my husband will come and take it out. Grose observes, any unmarried women fasting on Midsummer Eve, and at midnight laying a clean cloth, with bread, cheese, and ale, and sitting down as if going to eat, the streetdoor being left open, the person whom she is afterwards to marry will come into the room and drink to her by bowing; and after filling the glass will leave it on the table, and, making another bow, retire.'
The subsequent extract from the antient Calendar of the Romish church, will show the eeremonies observed at Rome on the eye and day of St. John the Baptist :
23. The Vigil of the Nativity of John the Baptist. Spices are given at vespers. Fires are lighted up A girl with a little drum that proclaims the garland. . Boys are dressed in girls' clothes. Carols to the liberal; Imprecations against the avaritious. Waters are swum in during the night, and are brought in vessels
that hang for the purposes of divination. Fern in great estimation with the vulgar, on account of its
seed. Herbs of different kinds are sought, with many ceremonies. Girls' Thistle is gathered, and an hundred crosses by the same. • 24. The Nativity of John the Baptist. Dew and new Leaves
in estimation. The Vulgar Solstice.'
According to Grose, any person fasting on Midsummer Eve, and sitting in the church porch, will, at midnight, see the spirits of the persons of that parish who will die that year, come and knock at the church door, in the order and succession in which they will die. One of these watchers (there being several in company) fell into a sound sleep, so that he could not be waked. While in this state, his ghost, or spirit, was seen by the rest of his com
panions knocking at the church door. This circumstance is noticed in the elegant poem of the Cottage
Now to relieve her growing fear,
That wraps the groves in spectred gloom! On the subject of gathering the Rose on Midsum- · mer Eve, we have also the following lines :
The Moss-rose that, at fall of dew,
She meets him at the peep of morn.
To issue from beneath the thatch,
The cowslip and the lily-wreath
29.-SAINT PETER.. " Peter's original name, Simon, was not abolished by Christ, but that of Cephas was added to it, which, in Syriac, the vulgar language of the Jews, signifies a stone, or rock; hence the Greek Témpos, and our Peter. The apostle's father was Jonah, probably a fisherman of Bethsaida. His brother Andrew, being first converted, was said to be an instrument of Peter's conversion, John i, 40, 41.
Some writers assert that Nero, being attached to the practices of the magicians, and resenting Peter's opposition to them, was not only the cause of his imprisonment, but also of his martyrdom, which was put into execution in the following manner: Peter was first scourged, and then led out to be crucified upon the hill called Janiculus, desiring to be fastened to the cross with his head downwards, alleging that he thought himself unworthy to die in the same way as his Lord and Master.
Astronomical Occurrences. Of the Diurnal Motion of the Heavens, and of the
fixed Stars. If in a fine night, says M. La Place, and in a place where the horizon is uninterrupted, we follow with attention the appearance of the heavens, it will be seen to vary at every instant. Some stars are rising above, others setting below the horizon ; some begin to appear in the west, others to disappear towards the west ; several, as the pole star and the stars of the Great Bear, never reach the horizon. In these various motions their respective positions to each other remain unchanged, and they describe circles so much the less as they are nearer a point which appears to be immoveable. Thus the heavens seem