« ElőzőTovább »
parts of the country, have fixed a worth upon the salmon which will not quickly admit of reduction',
The stock-dove (columba ænas), one of the latest winter birds of passage, arrives from more northern regions, towards the end of this month. Before our beechen woods were destroyed (observes Mr. White), there were myriads of them, reaching in strings for miles together. At this time, twenty have been killed in a day; and an old sportsman assured me, that, with a large fowling-piece, he had shot seven or eight at a time on the wing, as they came wheeling over his head. The food of these number. less emigrants was beech-mast and some acorns, and particularly barley, which they collected in the stub. bles; they also eat the young tops of turnips.
The wild pigeons, which migrate in large flocks into England at the approach of winter, build their nests in the hollows of decayed trees, and commonly have two broods in the year. In a state of domestication their increase is prodigious; and, allowing them to breed nine times in the year, the produce of a single pair, at the expiration of four years, may amount (acoording to Mr. Stillingfleet) to the enormous num.. ber of fourteen thousand seven hundred and sixty-two. The varieties of the domestic pigeon are very numerous. Of these, the carrier pigeon is most worthy of notice, having been made use of, from very early times, to convey intelligence on the most important occasions, and it never fails to execute its commission with unequalled expedition and certainty. . . : The farmer usually finishes his ploughing this month. Cattle and horses are taken into the farmyard; sheep are sent to the turnip-field; ant-hills are destroyed; and bees are put under shelter.
* In February, 1809, a Severn salmon, weighing nineteen pounds, was sold at Billingsgate for the immense sum of ONE GUINEA per pound.
ve DECEMBER must be expressed with a horrid and fearful aspect, clad in Irish rugge, or course freeze, girt unto him; upon his head no garland but three or four night-caps, and over them a Turkish turbant; his nose red; his mouth and beard clogd with iseickles ; at his back a bundle of holly, ivy, or misletoe, holding in furd mittens the sign of Capricornus.'-(Peacham, p. 421.)
December had his due appellation given him in the name of winter-monat, to wit, winter-moneth; but after the Saxons received Christianity, they then, of devotion to the birth time of Christ, tearmed it by the name of heligh-monat, that is to say, holymoneth.'-(Verstegan, p. 62.),
December, last of months, but best, who gave .
6.--SAINT NICHOLAS. Nicholas was Bishop of Myra in Lycia, and died about the year 392. He was of so charitable a disposition, that he portioned three young women, who were reduced in circumstances, by secretly conveying a sum of money into their father's house. The antient annual ceremony of a boy-bishop (episcopus puerorum), on this day, is thus described by SIR JOHN HAWKINS in his elaborate-History of Music, vol. i, pp. 5.-7. The boy-bishop was elected from among the choristers of the Cathedral of Sarum, on the anniversary of St. Nicholas, being the sixth day of December; he was invested with great authority, and had the state of a diocesan bislop from ihe time of his election until Innocents' Day, as it is called, the 28th of the same month. It seems that the original design of this singular institution was to, -do honour to the memory of St. Nicholas, who, even in his infancy, was remarkable for his piety, and, in the language of St. Paul to Timothy, is said to have known the scriptures of a child. Ribadeneyrà has given his life at large; but the following extract from the English festival contains as much about him as any reasonable man can be expected to believe. “It is sayed that his fader hyght Epiphanius, and his moder, Joanna, 8c. And whan he was born, 8c. they made hym chrysten, and called him Nycholas, that is a mannes name; but he kepeth the name of a chyld ; for he chose to kepé vertues, meknes, and sym. plenes, and without malyce. Also we rede, whyle he lay in his cradel, he fasted Wednesday and Friday : these days he would souke but ones of the day, and therewyth held him plesed. Thus he lyved all his lyf in vertues, with this chyldes name, and therefore chyldren don him worship before all other saynts.”
• The ceremonies attending the investiture of the
episcopus puerorum are prescribed by the statutes of the church of Sarum, which contain a title, “de episcopo choristarum; ” and also by the processional. From these it appears, that he was to bear the name and maintain the state of a bishop, habited with a crosier or pastoral staff in his hand, and a mitre on his head. His fellows, the rest of the children of the choir, were to take upon them the stile and office of prebendaries, and yield to the bishop canonical obedience; and, farther, the same service as the very bishop himself, with his dean and prebendaries, had they been to officiate, were to have performed, the very same, mass excepted, was done by the chorister and his canons, upon the eve and the holiday. The use of Sarum required also, that upon the eve of Innocents' Day the chorister bishop, with his fellows, should go in solemn procession to the altar of the Holy Trinity, in copes, and with burning tapers in their hands; and that, during the procession, three of the boys should sing certain hymns mentioned in the rubric. The procession was made through the great door at the west end of the church, in such order that the dean and canons went foremost, the chaplain next, and the bishop with his little prebendaries last; agreeable to that rule in the ordering of all processions, which assigns the rearward sta, tion to the most honourable. In the choir was a seat or throne for the bishop; and as to the rest of the children, they were disposed on each side of the choir, upon the uppermost ascent. And so careful was the church to prevent any disorder which the rude curiosity of the multitude might occasion in the celebration of this singular ceremony, that their statutes forbid all persons whatsoever, under pain of the greater excommunication, to interrupt or press upon the children, either in the procession or during any part of the service directed by the rubric; or any way to hinder or interrupt them in the execution or performance of what it concerned them to do. Farther
it appears, that this infant bishop did, to a certain limit, receive to his own use rents, capons, and other emoluments of the church.
• In case the little bishop died within the month, his exequies were solemnized with great pomp; and he was interred, like other bishops, with all his ornaments. The memory of this custom is preserved, not only in the ritual books of the cathedral church of Salisbury, but by a monument in the same church, with the sepulchral effigies of a chorister bishop, supposed to have died in the exercise of his pontifical office, and to have been interred with the solemnities above noted.'
In the statutes of St. Paul's School, framed by its venerable founder, Dean Colet, it is expressly ordered that the scholars shall every Childermas (Innocents] day, come to Pauli's churche, and hear the CHYLDE-BISHOP's [of St. Paul's Cathedral] sermon. And after be at the high masse ; and each of them offer a penny to the chylde-bishop, and with them the maysters and surveyors of the Scole!! This singa. lar custom was abrogated by HENRY VIII, in 1542; but it was restored, by MARY, to all its antient splendour in 1554; and an edict issued by the Bishop of London, to all the clergy in his diocese, to have a boy-bishop in procession. On the accession of ELI- ZABETH, this silly mockery was set aside, we hope,
FOR EVER'. '. : ** 8.-CONCEPTION OF THE VIRGIN MARY.
This festival was instituted by Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, because William the Cono queror's fleet, being in a storm, afterwards came safe to shore. The Council of Oxford, however, held in 1222, permitted every one to use his discretion in keeping it.
- 1 The celebration of the Eton Montem is supposed by Mr. Brand to be, merely, a modification of this antient ceremony,