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The New Year.
Anciently on new year's day the Romans were accustomed to carry small presents, as new year's gifts, to the senators, under whose protection they were severally placed. In the reigns of the emperors, they flocked in such numbers with valuable ones, that various decrees were made to abolish the custom; though it always continued among that people. The Romans who settled in Britain, or the families connected with them by marriage, introduced these new year's gifts among our forefathers, who got the habit of making presents, even to the magistrates. Some of the fathers of the church wrote against them, as fraught with the greatest abuses, and the magistrates were forced to relinquish them. Besides the well-known anecdote of sir Thomas More, when lord chancellor,* many instances might be adduced from old records, of giving a pair of gloves, some with "linings," and others without. Probably from thence has been derived the fashion of giving a pair of gloves upon particular occaNew sions, as at marriages, funerals, &c. year's gifts continue to be received and given by all ranks of people, to commemorate the sun's return, and the prospect of spring, when the gifts of nature are shared by all. Friends present some small tokens of esteem to each other-husbands to their wives, and parents to their children. The custom keeps up a cheerful and friendly intercourse among acquaintance, and leads to that good-humour and mirth so necessary to the spirits in this dreary season. Chandlers send as presents to their customers large mould candles; grocers give raisins, to make a Christmas pudding, or a pack of cards, to assist in spending agreeably the "thriftlong evenings. In barbers' shops box," as it is called, is put by the apprentice boys against the wall, and every customer, according to his inclination, puts something in. Poor children, and old infirm persons, beg, at the doors of the charitable, a small pittance, which, though collected in small sums, yet, when put together, forms to them a little treasure; so that every heart, in all situations of life, beats with joy at the nativity of his Saviour.
The Hagman Heigh is an old custom observed in Yorkshire on new year's eve, as The keeper of appertaining to the season. the pinfold goes round the town, attended
• Every-Day Book, i. 9.
by a rabble at his heels, and knocking at certain doors, sings a barbarous song, beginning with
"To-night it is the new year's night, to-morrow is
We are come about for our right and for our ray,
The song always concludes with "wishing a merry Christmas and a happy new year." When wood was chiefly used as fuel, in heating ovens at Christmas, this was the most appropriate season for the hagman, or wood-cutter, to remind his customers of his services, and to solicit alms. The word hag is still used in Yorkshire, to signify a wood. The "hagg" opposite to Easby formerly belonged to the abbey, to supply them with fuel. Hagman may be a name compounded from it. Some derive it from the Greek Ayunin, the holy month, when the festivals of the church for our Saviour's birth were celebrated. Formerly, on the last day of the year, the monks and friars used to make a plentiful harvest, by begging from door to door, and reciting a kind of carol, at the end of every stave of which they introduced the words "agia mene,' alluding to the birth of Christ. A very different interpretation, however, was given to it by one John Dixon, a Scotch presbyterian minister, when holding forth against this custom in one of his sermons at Kelso. "Sirs, do you know what the hagman signifies? It is the devil to be in the house;
that is the meaning of its Hebrew original.”
ON THE NEW YEAR.
When we look back on hours long past away,
Had nothing learnt from what they saw or felt:
• Clarkson's History of Richmond, cited by a cor. respondent, A. B.
The following letter, written by Horace Walpole, in relation to the tombs, is curious. Dr. whom he derides, was Dr. Zachary Pearce, dean of Westminster, and editor of Longinus, &c.
I heard lately, that Dr. a very learned personage, had consented to let the tomb of Aylmer de Valence, earl of Pembroke, a very great personage, be removed for Wolfe's monument; that at first he had objected, but was wrought upon by being told that hight Aylmer was a knight templar, a very wicked set of people as his lordship had heard, though he knew nothing of them, as they are not mentioned by Longinus. I own I thought this a made story, and wrote to his lordship, expressing my concern that one of the finest and most ancient monuments in the abbey should be removed; and begging, if it was removed, that he would bestow it on me, who would erect and preserve it here. After a fortnight's deliberation, the bishop sent me an answer, civil indeed, and commending my zeal for antiquity! but avowing the story under his own hand. He said, that at first they had taken Pembroke's tomb for a knight templar's;-observe, that not only the man who shows the tombs names it every day, but that there is a draught of it at large in Dart's Westminster;—that upon discovering whose it was, he had been very unwilling to consent to the removal, and at last had obliged Wilton to engage to set it up within ten feet of where it stands at present. His lordship concluded with congratulating me on publishing learned authors at my press. I don't wonder that a man who thinks Lucan a learned author, should mistake a tomb in his own cathedral. If I had a mind to be angry, I could complain with reason, as having paid forty pounds for ground for my mother's funeral that the chapter of Westminster sell their church over and over again: the ancient monuments tumble upon one's head through their neglect, as one of them did, and killed a man at lady Elizabeth Percy's funeral; and they erect new waxen dolls of queen Elizabeth, &c. to draw visits and money from the mob.
Angoulême, in the sixteenth century, being awakened during the night, she was surprised at an extraordinary brightness which illuminated her chamber; apprehending it to be the fire, she reprimanded her women for having made so large a one; but they assured her it was caused by the moon. The duchess ordered her curtains to be undrawn, and discovered that it was a comet which produced this unusual light. “Ah!” exclaimed she, "this is a phenomenon which appears not to persons of common condition. Shut the window, it is a comet, which announces my departure; I must prepare for death." The following morning she sent for her confessor, in the certainty of an approaching dissolution. The physicians assured her that her apprehensions were ill founded and premature. "If I had not," replied she, "seen the signal for death, I could believe it, for I do not feel myself exhausted or peculiarly ill." On the third day after this event she expired, the victim of terror. Long after this period all appearances of the celestial bodies, not perfectly comprehended by the multitude, were supposed to indicate the deaths of sovereigns, or revolutions in their govern
When the duke d'Aremberg was confined at Antwerp, a person was brought in as a spy, and imprisoned in the same place. The duke observed some slight sketches by his fellow prisoner on the wall, and, conceiving they indicated talent, desired Rubens, with whom he was intimate, and by whom he was visited, to bring with him a pallet and pencils for the painter, who was in custody with him. The materials requisite for painting were given to the artist, who took for his subject a group of soldiers playing at cards in the corner of a prison. When Rubens saw the picture, he cried out that it was done by Brouwer, whose works he had often seen, and as often admired. Rubens offered six hundred guineas for it; the duke would by no means part with it, but presented the painter with a larger sum. Rubens exerted his interest, and obtained the liberty of Brouwer, by becoming his surety, received him into his house, clothed as well as maintained him, and took pains to make the world acquainted with his merit. But the levity of Brouwer's temper would not suffer him long to consider his situation any better than a state of confinement; he therefore quitted Rubens, and died shortly afterwards, in ccn. Brantome relates, that the duchess of sequence of a dissolute course of life.
Coventry is distinguished in the history of the drama, because, under the title of "Ludus Coventriæ," there exists a manuscript volume of most curious early plays, not yet printed, nor likely to be, unless there are sixty persons, at this time sufficiently concerned for our ancient literature and manners, to encourage a spirited gentleman to print a limited number of copies. If by any accident the manuscript should be destroyed, these plays, the constant theme of literary antiquaries from Dugdale to the present period, will only be known through the partial extracts of writers, who have sometimes inaccurately transcribed from the originals in the British Museum.
Mr. Sharp's taste and attainments qualifying him for the task, and his residence at Coventry affording him facility of research among the muniments of the corporation, he has achieved the real labour of drawing from these and other unexplored sources, a body of highly interesting facts, respecting the vehicles, characters, and dresses of the actors in the pageants or dramatic mysteries anciently performed by the trading companies of that city; which, together with accounts of municipal entertainments of a public nature, form his meritorious volume.
Very little has been known respecting the stage "properties," before the rise of the regular drama, and therefore the abundant matter of that nature, adduced by this gentleman, is peculiarly valuable. With "The Taylors' and Shearemens' Pagant," complete from the original manuscript, he gives the songs and the original music, engraved on three plates, which is eminently remarkable, because it is, perhaps, the only existing specimen of the melodies in the old Mysteries. There are ten other plates in the work; one of them represents the club, or maul, of Pilate, a character in the pageant of the Cappers' company. "By a variety of entries it appears he had a club or maul, stuffed with wool; and that the exterior was formed of leather, is authenticated by the actual existence of such a club or maul, discovered by the writer of this Dissertation, in an antique chest within the Cappers' chapel, (together with an iron
By a notice in Mr. Sharp's "Dissertation," he proposes to publish the "Coventry Mysteries," with notes and illustrations, in two vols. octavo: 100 copies on royal paper, at three guineas; and 25, on imperial paper, at five guineas. Notwithstanding he limits the entire impression to these 125 copies, and will commence to print as soon as the names of sixty subscribers are sent to his publishers, it appears that this small number is not yet complete. The fact is mentioned here, because it will be a reproach to the age if such an overture is not embraced.
cresset, and some fragments of armour,) where it had probably remained ever since the breaking up of the pageant." The subject of the Cappers' pageant was usually the trial and crucifixion of Christ, and the descent into hell.
The pageant vehicles were high scaffolds with two rooms, a higher and a lower, constructed upon four or six wheels; in the lower room the performers dressed, and in the higher room they played. This higher room, or rather, as it may be called, the "stage," was all open on the top, that the beholders might hear and see. On the day of performance the vehicles were wheeled, by men, from place to place, throughout the city; the floor was strewed with rushes; and to conceal the lower room, wherein the performers dressed, cloths were hung round the vehicle: there is reason to believe that, on these cloths, the subject of the performance was painted or worked in tapestry. The higher room of the Drapers' vehicle was embattled, and ornamented with carved work, and a crest; the Smiths' had vanes, burnished and painted, with streamers flying.
In an engraving which is royal quarto, the size of the work, Mr. Sharp has laudably endeavoured to convey a clear idea of the appearance of a pageant vehicle, and of the architectural appearance of the houses in Coventry, at the time of performing the Mysteries. So much of that engraving as represents the vehicle is before the reader on the preceding page. The vehicle, supposed to be of the Smiths' company, is stationed near the Cross in the Cross-cheaping, and the time of action chosen is the period when Pilate, on the charges of Caiphas and Annas, is compelled to give up Christ for execution. Pilate is represented on a throne, or chair of state; beside him stands his son with a sceptre and poll-axe, and beyond the Saviour are the two high priests; the two armed figures behind are knights. The pageant cloth bears the symbols of the passion.
Besides the Coventry Mysteries and other matters, Mr. Sharp notices those of Chester, and treats largely on the ancient setting of the watch on Midsummer and St. John's Eve, the corporation giants, morris dancers, minstrels, and waites.
I could not resist the very fitting opportunity on the opening of the new year, and of the Table Book together, to introduce a memorandum, that so important an accession has accrued to our curious litera
ture, as Mr. Sharp's "Dissertation on the Coventry Mysteries."
"THE THING TO A T."
A young man, brought up in the city of London to the business of an undertaker, went to Jamaica to better his condition. Business flourished, and he wrote to his father in Bishopsgate-street to send him, with a quantity of black and grey cloth, twenty gross of black Tacks. Unfortu nately he had omitted the top to his T, and the order stood twenty gross of black Jacks. His correspondent, on receiving the letter, recollected a man, near Fleet-market, who made quart and pint tin pots, ornamented with painting, and which were called black Jacks, and to him he gave the order for the twenty gross of black Jacks. The maker, surprised, said, he had not so many ready, but would endeavour to complete the order; this was done, and the articles were shipped. The undertaker received them with other consignments, and was astonished at the mistake. A friend, foud of speculation, offered consolation, by proposing to purchase the whole at the invoice price. The undertaker, glad to get rid of an article he considered useless in that part of the world, took the offer. His friend immediately advertised for sale a number of fashionable punch vases just arrived from England, and sold the jacks, gaining 200 per cent. !
The young undertaker afterwards discoursing upon his father's blunder, was old by his friend, in a jocose strain, to erder a gross of warming -pans, and see whether the well-informed correspondents in London would have the sagacity to consider such articles necessary in the latitude of nine degrees north. The young man laughed at the suggestion, but really put in practice the joke. He desired his father in his next letter to send a gross of warming-pans, which actually, and to the great surprise of the son, reached the island of Jamaica. What to do with this cargo he knew not. His friend again became a purchaser at prime cost, and having knocked off the covers, informed the planters, that he had just imported a number of newlyconstructed sugar ladles. The article under that name sold rapidly, and returned a large profit. The parties returned to EngJand with fortunes, and often told the story of the black jacks and warming-pans over the bottle, adding, that "Nothing is lost in a good market."
Leave to enjoy myself. That place, that does
And sometimes for variety, I confer
Imagination enriches every thing. great library contains not only books, but "the assembled souls of all that men held wise." The moon is Homer's and Shakspeare's moon, as well as the one we look The sun comes out of his chamber in the east, with a sparkling eye, "rejoicing like a bridegroom." The commonest thing becomes like Aaron's rod, that budded. Pope called up the spirits of the Cabala to wait upon a lock of hair, and justly gave it the honours of a constellation; for he has hung it, sparkling for ever, in the eyes of posterity. A common meadow is a sorry thing to a ditcher or a coxcomb; but by the help of its dues from imagination and the love of nature, the grass brightens for us, the air soothes us, we feel as we did in the daisied hours of childhood. Its verdures, its sheep, its hedge-row elms,-all these, and all else which sight, and sound, and association can give it, are made to furnish a treasure of pleasant thoughts. brick and mortar are vivified, as of old at the harp of Orpheus. A metropolis becomes no longer a mere collection of houses or of trades. It puts on all the grandeur of its history, and its literature; its towers, and rivers; its art, and jewellery, and foreign wealth; its multitude of human beings all intent upon excitement, wise or yet to learn; the huge and sullen dignity of its canopy of smoke by day; the wide gleam upwards of its lighted lustre at night.. time; and the noise of its many chariots, heard, at the same hour, when the wind sets gently towards some quiet suburb.-Leigh Hunt.
Madame Rollan, who died in 1785, in the seventy-fifth year of her age, was a principal dancer on Covent-garden stage in