« AnteriorContinuar »
one subject of diversion is to send people on'errands and expeditions that are to end in disappointment, and raise a laugh at the expense of the person sent.""
The Public Advertiser for April 13, 1789, gives the following humorous Jewish origin of the custom of making Fools on the first of April.
"This is said to have begun from the mistake of Noah in sending the dove out of the ark before the water had abated, on the first day of the month among the Hebrews, whicn answers to our first of April; and to perpetuate the memory of this deliverance, it was thought proper, whoever forgot so remarkable a circumstance, to punish them by sending them upon some sleeveless errand, similar to that ineffectual message upon which the bird was sent by the Patriarch."
Another paper for the 1st of April, 1792, says, "No antiquary has even tried to explain the custom of making April Fools. The writer recollects that he has met with a conjecture somewhere, that April Day is celebrated as part of the festivity of New Years Day. That day used to be kept on the 25th of March. All antiquaries know that an octave, or eight days, usually completed the festivals of our forefathers. If so, April Day, making the octave's close, may be supposed to be employed in foolmaking, all other sports having been exhausted in the foregoing seven days."
The "conjecture" just alluded to, was probably the following from the pen of Dr. Pegg, the venerable Rector of Whittington, in Derbyshire. It is to be found in the Gentleman's Magazine for April, 1766.
It is a matter of some difficulty to account for the expression, "An April Fool," and the strange custom so universally prevalent throughout this kingdom, of people making fools of one another, on the first of April, by trying to impose upon each other, and sending one another, upon that day, upon frivolous, ridiculous, and absurd errands. I have found no traces, either of the name or of the custom, in other countries, insomuch that it appears to me to be an indigenal custom of our own. Now, to account for it; the name undoubtedly arose from the custom, and this I think arose from hence: our year formerly began, as to some purposes, and in some respects, on the 25th of March, which was supposed to be the Incarnation of our Lord; and it is certain that the commencement of the new year, at whatever time that was supposed to be, was always esteemed an high Festival, and that both amongst the ancient Romans and with us. Now great Festivals were usually attended with an Octave, that is, they were wont to continue eight days, whereof the first and last were the principal; and you will find the 1st of April, is the Octave of the 25th of March, and the close, or ending, consequently, of that Feast, which was both the Festival of the Annunciation and of the New . Year. From hence as I take it, it became a day of extraordinary mirth and festivity, especially amongst the lower sorts, who are apt to pervert and make a bad use of institutions which at first might be very laudable in themselves.
We will close our extracts with a further suggestion from the indefatigable antiquary, to whom we are indebted for the above notices, and leave our readers to select for themselves the origin, which they may deem the most plausible.
Calling this " All Fools" Day," seems to denote it to be a different day from the Feast of Fools, which was held on the 1st of January: and I am inclined to think, the word "All," here is a corruption of our northern word " auld," for old; because I find in the ancient Romish Calendar, (which I have so often cited,) mention made of a "Feast of Old Fools." It must be granted that this Feast stands there on the 1st of another month, November: but then it mentions at the same time, that it i's by a removal; "The Feast of Old Fools is removed to this day." Such removals, indeed, in the very crowded Romish Calendars, were often obliged to be made.
There is nothing hardly that will bear a clearer demonstration, than that the primitive Christians, by way of conciliating the Pagans to a better worship, humoured their prejudices by yielding to a conformity of names, and even of customs, where they did not essentially interfere with the fundamentals of the Gospel doctrine. This was done in order to quiet their possession, and to secure their
tenure; an admirable expedient, and extremely fit, in those barbarous times, to prevent the people from returning to their old religion. Among these, in imitation of the Roman Saturnalia, was the Festum Fatuorum, (Feast of Fools,) when part of the jollity of the season, was a burlesque election of a mock Pope, mock Cardinals*, &c. attended with a thousand ridiculous and indecent ceremonies, gambols, and antics, all allusively to the exploded pretensions of the Druids, whom these sports were calculated to expose to scorn and derision.
This Feast of Fools had its designed effect, and contributed, perhaps, more to the extermination of those heathens, than all the collateral aids of fire and sword. The continuance of customs, (especially droll ones, which suit the gross taste of the multitude,) after the cause of them has ceased, is a great but no uncommon absurdity.
One epithet of Old Fools does not ill accord with the pictures of Druids transmitted to us. The united appearance of age, sanctity, and wisdom, which these ancient priests assumed, doubtless contributed in no small degree to the deception of the people. The Christian teachers, in their labours to undeceive the fettered multitudes, would probably spare no pains to pull off the mask from these venerable hypocrites, and point out to their converts, that age was not always synonymous with wisdom; that youth was not the peculiar period of folly: but that together with young ones, there were also old (auld) Fools,
N. P. S.
* Andrew, says the author of the Essay to retrieve the ancient Celtic, whom he is here quoting, signifies a head Druid, or Divine. Hence it was that, when the Christians, by way of exploding the Druids, turned them into ridicule, in their Feast, or Holidays of Fools, one of the buffoon personages was a " Merry Andrew." Mr. Pennant curiously remarks in nis Zoology,—" It is very singular, that most nations give the name of their favourite dUh to the facetious attendant upon every mountebank (Merry Andrew); thus the Dutch call him Pickled Herring; the Italians, Macaroni; the French, Jean Potage; the Germans, Hans Wurst, i.e. Jack Sausage; and we dignify him with the title of Jack Pudding."
We had an amusing account of an adventure which had occurred at Kazeroon, to two gentlemen of the Mission, who had been sent some months before to Shiraz. One of these, a relation of the Elchee, (ambassador,) was particularly averse to what he deemed unnecessary fatigue of body. But he and his companion had their curiosity so much raised, by the accounts they received of two strange creatures that were said to be in a house at the distance of fifteen miles, that, in spite of the severity of the weather, (for it was winter,) and the difficulties of the road, they determined to go and see them.
In answer to their inquiries, one man said " these creatures are very like birds, for they have feathers and two legs, but then their head is bare, and has a fleshy look, and one of them has a long beard on its breast." But the chief point on which they dwelt, was the singularity of their voice, which was altogether unlike that of any other bird they had ever heard of or seen. An old man, who had gone from Kazeroon to see them, declared it was a guttural sound very like Arabic, but confessed that, though he had listened with great attention, he had not been able to make out one word they uttered.
When the party arrived, very fatigued, at the end of their journey, the inhabitants of the small village where the objects of curiosity were kept came out to meet them. Being conducted to the house where the birds were shut up, tbe door was opened, and out marched a turkey-cock and hen! the former, rejoicing in his release from confinement, immediately commenced his Arabic. The Persians who came from Kazeroon were lost in astonishment, while our two friends looked at each other with that expression of countenance which indicates a doubt, between an inclination to laugh or be angry; the former feeling, however, prevailed. Their merriment surprised the Persians, who, on being informed of its cause, seemed disappointed to hear that the birds, which appeared so strange to them, were very common, both in India and England.
From the account given by the possessor of the turkeys, it appeared that they had been saved from the wreck of a vessel in the Gulf, and had gradually come to the part of the interior where they then were. Sketches of Persia.
JOHN WILLIAM FAKKKR, WEST STRAND. Published In Weekly Numbers, Price One Penny, And In Monthl-t Parts, Prick Sixpence, And Sold by all Booksellers anil Ncwiveuden in the Kingdom.
UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE COMMITTEE OK GENERAL LITERATURE AND EDUCATION APPOINTED BY THE SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE.
STATUE OF KING WILLIAM THE THIRD, IN BT, JAMES S SQUARE, LONDON.
Vol. IV. Ill
NATIONAL STATUES. No. V. Statue Ok King William The Third,
In St. James's Square. The engraving on the preceding page represents the large equestrian statue in bronze, of King William the Third, which stands in the centre of St. James's Square, and forms one of the noblest ornaments of the metropolis. It was cast by Mr. Bacon, son of the celebrated John Bacon the sculptor, (a son worthy of such a sire,) and erected in the year 1808.
This statue was executed, pursuant to the will of Samuel Travers Esq., who had lived in the reign of King William, and who, in his will, dated July 6th, 172-1, calls him, " his master King William the Third." After bequeathing considerable sums to various charitable purposes, he there directs, that an equestrian statue of his sovereign, in bronze, should be erected, either in St. James's Square, or in the Poultry. It being found next to impossible, in these later days, to fix it in the Poultry, it was, of course, assigned to its present position. It is curious, indeed, to contemplate the change that has taken place in the aspect of London, since the date of that will. "I have," says an ingenious modern author, " met with several old persons in my younger days, who remembered that there was but a single house, a cake-house, between the Mews-gate at Charing-cross, and St. James's Palace-gate, where now stand the stately piles of St. James's Square, formerly a place for cudgel-playing, &c., Pall Mall, and other fine streets."
In 1725, the year after the death of Mr. Travers, an Act of Parliament was passed, for adorning St. James's Square: but the will was disputed by surviving relations, and thrown into chancery, and was not confirmed for many years. It also appears, that the bequest had been forgotten, until the money was found in the list of unclaimed dividends. In consequence of all this delay, the commission was reserved for the employment of a modern artist.
The statue which is admirably executed, and possesses great expression, is of the same general dimensions as that of King Charles at Charing-cross. The bronze is about half an inch in thickness, the legs of the horse excepted, which are solid. It was, at the time of its being cast, supposed bysome persons, to have been one of the works left unfinished by the elder Bacon, who at his death, directed that his second son, John Bacon, should continue in the profession of sculpture, and finish the works which he had left incomplete. But it is right to add, that the whole of the beautiful statue here described, was performed since the death of the father, by a separate contract, entered into with the present Mr. Bacon.
For those of our readers who would like to know more of the person represented by the statue, and, in the words of Addison, to be informed "whether he was a dark or a fair man, of a mild or choleric disposition, with other particulars of the like nature," we add the following short, but spirited sketch of the person and character of William. It is extracted from a history of Great Britain, comprising the events from the Revolution in 1688 to the accession of George the First, and written originally in Latin by Alexander Cunningham, minister from the lastmentioned sovereign to the republic of Vienna. After describing the circumstances attending the king's death at Kensington, which was occasioned by a fever, brought on in consequence of breaking his collar-bone by a fall from his horse when hunting, the author continues:—
King William was of a middle stature, and had chesnutcoloured hair; he had a piercing eye, a hooked nose, round shoulders, and slender legs; his appearance was not un
comely, whether standing or sitting, but he was most graceful on horseback. In his common conversation he was courteous and affable; in matters of importance grave and reserved, and on no occasion did he sink below his dignity. He was sometimes apt to be choleric, but the heat of his temper vented itself among certain of his household and physicians. He was so mild and merciful, that he would have pardoned his most inveterate enemies, and even those who had conspired against his own life, if the Parliament had not prevailed with him to the contrary. In various kinds of eloquence no man was more acute, sententious, .or polite. In doubtful or dangerous cases, he displayed wonderful quickness, alacrity, and singular benevolence, and not less address to gain the favour of other princes, and to endear himself to God and man. Such was his benignity, that he seemed neither in his private capacity desirous of riches, nor in his public, desirous of a crown to gratify his ambition, but to qualify himself the better to become an instrument of doing good.
A correspondent in the Gentleman's Magazine of 1806, evidently a great admirer of this monarch, expresses his regret, that on walking through St. James's Square, he found on the east and west sides of the pedestal, Gulielmus III., and no more; and then suggests the insertion of a Latin inscription, by Akenside, which describes his character, and states the reasons Britons have to honour his memory.
A Labourer, at Hasketon, in the county of Suffolk, occupied four enclosures, containing fourteen acres of pasturejand, at a rent of £13 a year, upon which he kept two cows. He died in 1779, and these two cows, with a very little furniture and clothing, were all the property that devolved, upon his death, to bis widow and fourteen children, the eldest being a girl, under fourteen years of age. The parish is within the district of one of the Incorporated Houses of Industry. Upon being made acquainted with the situation of the family, the directors immediately agreed to relieve the widow, by taking seven of her youngest children into the house. This was proposed to her, hut with great agitation of mind, she refused to part with any of her children: she said, she would rather die in working for their maintenance, or go herself with all of them into the house, and work for them there, than either part with them all, or suffer any partiality to be shown to them. She then declared, that if her landlord would continue her in the farm, as she called it, she would undertake to maintain and bring up all her fourteen children, without parochial assistance. She persisted in her resolution; and being a strong woman, about forty-five years old, her landlord told her she should continue his tenant, and hold it, the first year, rent-free. This she accepted with much thankfulness, and assured him that she should manage her family without any other assistance.
At the same time, though without her knowledge, Mr. Way, the landlord, directed his steward not to call upon her at all for his rent, conceiving it would be a great thin;* if she could support so large a family, even with that advantage. The result,- however, was, that with the benefit of her two cows, and of the land, she exerted herself so as to bring up all her children, twelve of whom she placed out in service; continuing to pay her rent regularly, of her own accord, every year after the first. She carried part of the milk of her two cows, together with the cream and butter, every day to sell, at Woodbridge, a market-town, two miles off; and brought back bread and other necessaries, with which, and with her skim-milk, butter-milk, &c, she supported her family. The eldest girl took care of the rest, while the mother was gone to Woodbridge, and by degrees, as they grew up, the children went into the service of the neighbouring farmers.
She came at length and informed her landlord, that all her children, except the two youngest, were able to get their own living, and that she had taken to the employment of a nurse, which was a less laborious situation, and at the same time, would enable her to provide for the two remaining children, who, indeed, could now almost maintain themselves. She, therefore, gave up the land, expressing great gratitude for the enjoyment of it, which had afforded her the means of supporting her family under a calamity, which must otherwise have driven both her and her children into a workhouse. C.
WILLIAM OF WYKEHAM. We hear much said of the exorbitant wealth of churchmen of former times; while the beneficial purposes to which that wealth was frequently applied are passed over in silence. The subject of this memoir is a noble instance of liberality and munificence. We do not propose to enter at any length into the private and personal history of William of Wykeham, although it is by no means destitute of interest. He was born of humble parents, at Wykeham, in Hampshire, about the year 1324, in the reign of Edward the First. He received his education through the kindness of Nicholas Uvedale, a neighbouring landholder; and in his twenty-second or twenty-third year, was received into the service of Edward the Third, at first, for the purpose of superintending the buildings then going on at Windsor Castle. Such, however, were the prudence, assiduity, and intelligence displayed by Wykeham, that he gradually advanced in the favour and confidence of the king, until, after having passed through some inferior employments, he was made, in the year 136C, in the forty-second year of his age, Bishop of Winchester, and Lord High Chancellor of England.
The latter office, however, Wykeham did not long retain. Soon after his appointment to his bishopric, he retired to the charge and superintendence of his diocese. And, although, in the troubles and disturbances, which occurred in the latter days of Edward the Third, in the reign of Richard the Second, and the early part of the reign of Henry the Fourth, Wykeham was often called upon to take a share in public affairs, and never undertook them without credit to himself and advantage to the nation, yet he rather wished to devote himself to the duties of his episcopal office, and to the execution of the great design, which he was anxiously revolving in his mind.
This design was the creation of his two Colleges, of Winchester, and New College Oxford.
At an earlier period, the liberality of pious men had vented itself in the foundation and endowment of monasteries. These institutions, although not without their use in the dark and rude ages when they arose, were less suited to the advancing spirit of the times, and had become liable to gross abuses and corruptions. Learning, at the time of which we are now speaking, was beginning to revive; and the great demand was for institutions, not to form recluses and hermits, but men who should be qualified to take an useful part in life, and, more particularly, to fill, in an adequate manner, the office of secular priests.
This was the want which Wykeham designed to supply; a design, which he prosecuted with unwearied diligence and boundless liberality. For this purpose he founded his two Colleges. The first, that at Winchester, beside a Warden and ten Fellows, was endowed for the education of seventy poor scholars, who should be instructed in the learning suited to their years, and current in the times: the second, at Oxford, which consisted also of a Warden and seventy Fellows, was to receive the same scholars, as they advanced toward manhood, and to instruct them in Theology, Canon and Civil Law, Philosophy, Medicine, and in the various sciences most useful for the practice of social life. There was, besides, a noble establishment of clerks, choristers, and inferior officers; and the whole was endowed with funds on the noblest scale of munificence.
To this great work Wykeham devoted himself for many years. That the benefits of his design might not be suspended until the necessary buildings were
completed, he secured, in the intermediate time, the best instructions that he could procure for his seventy scholars at Winchester, and seventy at Oxford. And, at length, the two fabrics were finished with a magnificence of design, which might have been expected from a founder eminently skilled, as Wykeham was, in architecture. They were each about six years in building. The College at Oxford was opened and entered on, with great solemnity, on the 14th of April, 1386; that at Winchester on the 28th of March, 1393.
The design of Wykeham was one for which he had ho precedent before him; nor has his plan been completely followed by more than one person since, and that person was a king. Henry the Sixth, in the following century, made himself intimately acquainted with the institutions of Wykeham, and copied them for his two Colleges of Eton, and King's College Cambridge.
But, although only one individual was found completely to emulate Wykeham, the example of his munificence was not altogether lost. One of the youths, whom he himself placed iu his school, was Henry Chieheley; who afterwards became Archbishop of Canterbury, and founded All Souls' College in Oxford. His school at Winchester was also taught by William of Wainfleet, who, in the course of time, attained the highest honours in Church and State, and became the founder of Magdalen College in the same University.
Wykeham lived to see his foundations flourishing in reputation and usefulness. It was his principle not to leave his benefactions to take effect after his death. He expressly said, that he resolved to execute his designs during his life, that he might see with his own eyes their practical operation, and apply to them such securities and improvements, as experience might show to him to be useful. On the same principle, he executed in his life-time various other works, which might have immortalized any other man. He repaired his castles; he rebuilt churches; he made public roads. But his greatest work in architecture, was the re-construction of the entire nave of his Cathedral at Winchester; which remains, to the present time, a monument of his genius, and exhibits one of our finest specimens of the pointed style of building prevalent in his age.
We must mention one other very pleasing instance of the liberality of this munificent Prelate. By his will he had bequeathed legacies and remembrances to various friends and public bodies. And, in order to ensure their due appropriation, he paid them during his life-time; thus becoming, in a manner, the executor of his own will.
William of Wykeham died in the year 1404, in his eightieth year, full of age and honours; leaving an example that cannot easily be paralleled, of principles directed by consummate prudence and judgment, and animated by unbounded generosity.
A Great means of happiness is, a constant employment for a desirable end, and a consciousness of advancement towards that end.
One part, one little part, we dimly scan,
PENSILE BIRDS' NESTS. Volumes might be written, and have been, upon Birds' Nests. The great variety of materials and of construction displayed in these interesting structures, is known to every school-boy; but there is one kind of nests, of which we arc not aware that there is any specimen to be found in the architecture of British birds,—wc allude to Pensile, or Pendent Nests. There is an account of one of these nests, that of the. Tailor Bird, in our First Volume, page 172 ; and some curious specimens of pendent nests may be seen in the British Museum. Some of these structures are solitary, others are thickly clustered together; of the latter kind the most remarkable is that of the African Pensile Grosbeak, (Loxia pensilisj of which five or six hundred nests have been seen hanging upon one tree. The Grosbeak's nest is a sort of basket of straw and reeds, in the shape of a bag, with the entrance below. It is fastened to the twig of a tree, and, generally, overhangs a stream. The birds go on from year to year hanging one nest to another, so that these at length accumulate to a chain of five or six of them suspended from one twig.
Several varieties of the Finch Tribe, in South Africa, suspend their nests from the branches of trees, especially when they happen to impend over a river or precipice. The object of this precaution, it is supposed, is to secure their offspring from the assaults of their numerous enemies, particularly the serpent race.
The Baya, or Bottle-crested Sparrow, is remarkable for its pendent nest, brilliant plumage, and uncommon sagacity. These birds are found in most parts of Hindostan. The nests are formed in a very ingenious manner, by long grass woven together in the shape of a bottle, and suspended by the other end to the extremity of a flexible branch, the more effectually, says Mr. Forbes, to secure the eggs and young brood from serpents, monkeys, squirrels, and birds of prey.
But the most celebrated of the pendent nests is that of the Baltimore Starling, speaking of which Mr. Wilson, in his American Ornithology, says,—" Almost the whole genus of Orioles belong to America, and,
with few exceptions, build pensile nests. Few of them, however, equal the Baltimore Starling in the
construction of these receptacles for their young
I have a number of their nests now before me, all completed, and with eggs. One of these, the neatest, is in the form of a cylinder, of five inches diameter,
and seven inches in depth This nest was hung on
the extremity of the horizontal branch of an appletree, and was visible one hundred yards off, though shaded by the sun, and was the work of a very beautiful bird."
In one of the religious periodical publications for last month, (The Christian Observer J the Editor, in allusion to this passage from Wilson, has given a moralizing turn to the subject in the following verses, with which, for variety's sake, we shall conclude our present detached notices.
THE ORIOLE'S NEST.
The Oriole builds her a pensile nest •
It hangs by a thread, and it waves in the skies,
If he tempt the frail twig, it forsakes him—he dies.
In vain the whale snrinks to the dark icy wave;
Nor the swift-bounding fawn find retreat in her cave:
Though it hang by a thread and is rocked by the gale
Her offspring no prowling marauders assail.
In her fair leafy island she nurtures her brood ;—
By that path-way, so envied, would dangers intrude.
I ask no new ties of ambition or pride;
Unsullied by earth, though to earth near allied:
The thread that enlinks me to earth shall dissever;
Hut the soul disenthralled shall be buoyant for ever.
And a clime ever bright, heaven's spring-tide disclose;
And the fluttering wanderer sinks to repose.
I have hung by a thread over death's sullen wave;
Or tempests portended the night of the grave.