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'May-day's past and gone, Thou's a gosling, and I'm none." This distich was also said, mutatis mutandis, on the second of April. The practice of making May goslings was very common about twelve years ago, but is now dying away.
As the present month is one when very severe colds are often caught by bathers, it may not be amiss to submit to the readers of the Table Book the following old saying, which is very prevalent in Skipton:"They who bathe in May Will be soon laid in clay; They who bathe in June Will sing a merry tune."
T. Q. M.
SAILORS ON THE FIRST OF MAY. For the Table Book.
Sir,-You have described the ceremony adopted by our sailors, of shaving all nautical tyros on crossing the line, but perhaps you are not aware of a custom which prevails annually on the first of May, in the whale-fishery at Greenland and Davis's Straits. I therefore send you an account of the celebration which took place on board the Neptune of London, in Greenland, 1824, of which ship I was surgeon at that period.
Previous to the ship's leaving her port, the sailors collected from their wives, and other female friends, ribands "for the garland," of which great care was taken until a few days previous to the first of May, when all hands were engaged in preparing the said garland, with a model of the ship.
The garland was made of a hoop, taken from one of the beef casks; this hoop, decorated with ribands, was fastened to a stock of wood, of about four feet in length, and a model of the ship, prepared by the carpenter, was fastened above the hoop to the top of the stock, in such a manner as to answer the purpose of a vane. The first of May arrives; the tyros were kept from between decks, and all intruders excluded while the principal performers got ready the necessary apparatus and dresses. The barber was the boatswain, the barber's
The performers then came forward, as follows:-First, the fiddler, playing as well as he could on an old fiddle, "See the conquering hero comes;" next, four men, two abreast, disguised with matting, rags, &c. so as to completely prevent them from being recognised, each armed with a boathook; then came Neptune himself, also disguised, mounted on the carriage of the largest gun in the ship, and followed by the barber, barber's mate, swab-bearer, shaving-box carrier, and as many of the ship's company as chose to join them, dressed in such a grotesque manner as to beggar all description. Arrived on the quarter-deck they were met by the captain, when his briny majesty immediately dismounted, and the following dialogue ensued:
Nept. Are you the captain of this ship,
Capt. I am..
Nept. Well, I hope I shall drink your honour's health, and I wish you a prosperous fishery.
[Here the captain presented him with three quarts of rum.]
Nept. (filling a glass.) Here's health to you, captain, and success to our cause. Have you got any fresh-water sailors on board? for if you have, I must christen them, so as to make them useful to our king and country.
Capt. We have eight of them on board at your service; I therefore wish you good morning.
The procession then returned in the same manner as it came, the candidates for nautical fame following in the rear; after descending the fore-hatchway they congregated between decks, when all the offerings to Neptune were given to the deputy, (the cook,) consisting of whiskey, tobacco, &c. The barber then stood ready with his box
of lather, and the landsmen were ordered before Neptune, when the following dialogue took place with each, only with the alteration of the man's name, as follows:
Nept. (to another.) What is your name?
Nept. Where do you come from?
Nept. Have you ever been to sea before?
Nept. Where are you going to?
At each of these answers, the brush dip. ped in the lather (consisting of soap-suds, oil, tar, paint, &c.) was thrust into the respondent's mouth and over his face; then the barber's-mate scraped his face with a razor, made of a piece of iron hoop well notched; his sore face was wiped with a damask towel, (a boat-swab dipped in filthy water) and this ended the ceremony. When it was over they undressed themselves, the fiddle struck up, and they danced and regaled with their grog until they were "full three sheets in the wind."
I remain, sir, &c.
H. W. DEWHURST.
During the siege of Acre, Daniel Bryan, an old seaman and captain of the fore-top, who had been turned over from the Blanche into sir Sidney Smith's ship Le Tigré, repeatedly applied to be employed on shore; but, being an elderly man and rather deaf, his request was not acceded to. At the first storming of the breach by the French, one of their generals fell among the multitude of the slain, and the Turks, in triumph, struck off his head, and, after mangling the body with their sabres, left it a prey to the dogs, which in that country are of great ferocity, and rove in herds. In a few days it became a shocking spectacle, and when any of the sailors who had been on shore returned to their ship, inquiries were constantly made respecting the state of the French general. To Dan's frequent demands of his messmates why they had not buried him, the only answer he received was, "Go and do it yourself." One morning having obtained leave to go and see the town, he dressed himself as though for an excursion of pleasure, and went ashore with the surgeon in the jolly-boat. About an hour or two after, while the surgeon was dressing the wounded Turks in the hospital, in came honest Dan, who, in his rough,
good-natured manner, exclaimed, “I've been burying the general, sir, and now I'm come to see the sick!" Not particularly attending to the tar's salute, but fearing that he might catch the plague, which was making great ravages among the wounded Turks, the surgeon immediately ordered him out. Returning on board, the cockswain asked of the surgeon if he had seen old Dan? It was then that Dan's words in the hospital first occurred, and on further inquiry of the boat's crew they related the following circumstances :
The old man procured a pick-axe, a shovel, and a rope, and insisted on being let down, out of a port-hole, close to the breach. Some of his more juvenile companions offered to attend him. "No!" he replied, "you are too young to be shot yet; as for me, I am old and deaf, and my loss would be no great matter." Persisting in his adventure, in the midst of the firing, Dan was slung and lowered down, with his implements of action on his shoulder. His first difficulty was to beat away the dogs. The French levelled their pieces-they were on the instant of firing at the hero!but an officer, perceiving the friendly intentions of the sailor, was seen to throw himself across the file: instantaneously the din of military thunder ceased, a dead, solemn silence prevailed, and the worthy fellow consigned the corpse to its parent earth. He covered it with mould and stones, placing a large stone at its head, and another at its feet. The unostentatious
grave was formed, but no inscription recorded the fate or character of its possessor. Dan, with the peculiar air of a British sailor, took a piece of chalk from his pocket, and attempted to write
"HERE YOU LIE, OLD CROP !" He was then, with his pick-axe and shovel, hoisted into the town, and the hostile firing immediately recommenced.
A few days afterwards, sir Sidney, having been informed of the circumstance, ordered old Dan to be called into the cabin."Well, Dan, I hear you have buried the French general."-" Yes, your honour.""Had you any body with you?”—-“ Yes, your honour." Why, Mr. says you
had not."- -"But I had, your honour.""Ah! who had you?"-"God Almighty, sir."-"A very good assistant, indeed. Give old Dan a glass of grog.""Thank your honour." Dan drank the grog, and left the cabin highly gratified. He was for severa years a pensioner in the royal hospital at Greenwich.
THE "RIGHT" LORD LOVAT. The following remarkable anecdote, communicated by a respectable correspondent, with his name and address, may be relied on as genuine.
For the Table Book.
An old man, claiming to be" the right lord Lovat," i. e. heir to him who was beheaded in 1745, came to the Mansion-house in 1818 for advice and assistance. He was
in person and face as much like the rebel lord, if one may judge from his pictures, as a person could be, and the more especially as he was of an advanced age. He said he had been to the present lord Lovat, who had given him food and a little money, and turned him away. He stated his pedigree and claim thus:-The rebel lord had an only brother, known by the family name of Simon Fraser. Before lord Lovat engaged in the rebellion, Simon Fraser went to a wedding in his highland costume; when he entered the room where the party was assembled, an unfortunate wight of a bagpiper struck up the favourite march of a clan in mortal enmity with that of Fraser, which so enraged him, that he drew his dirk and killed the piper upon the spot. Fraser immediately fled, and found refuge in a mine in Wales. No law proceedings took place against him as he was absent, and supposed to have perished at sea. He married in Wales, and had one son, the old man abovenamed, who said he was about sixty. When lord Lovat was executed his lands became forfeited; but in course of time, lord L. not having left a son, the estates were granted by the crown to a collateral branch, (one remove beyond Simon Fraser,) the present lord, it not being known that Simon Fraser was alive
him; and he, too, was none of the wisest, for he kept him in charity more than for any service he had of him. This man of his, named Miles, never could endure to fast like other religious persons did; for he always had, in one corner or other, flesh, which he would eat, when his master eat bread only, or else did fast and abstain from all things.
Friar Bacon seeing this, thought at one time or other to be even with him, which he did, one Friday, in this manner: Miles, on the Thursday night, had provided a great black-pudding for his Friday's fast; that pudding he put in his pocket, (thinking to warm it so, for his master had no fire on those days.) On the next day, who was so demure as Miles! he looked as though he could not have eat any thing. When his master offered him some bread, he refused it, saying, his sins deserved a greater penance than one day's fast in a whole week. His master commended him for it, and bid him take heed he did not dissemble, for if he did, it would at last be known. "Then were I worse than a Turk," said Miles. So went he forth, as if he would have gone to pray privately, but it was for nothing but to prey privily on his black-pudding. Then he pulled out, and fell to it lustily: but he was deceived, for, having put one end in his mouth, he could neither get it out again, nor bite it off; so that he stamped for help. His master hearing him, came; and finding him in that manner, took hold of the other end of the pudding, and led him to the hall, and showed him to all the scholars, saying, "See here, my good friends and fellowstudents, what a devout man my servant Miles is! He loved not to break a fastday-witness this pudding, that his con
science will not let him swallow!" His master did not release him till night, when Miles did vow never to break any fast-day while he lived.
or had left issue. It is further remarkable that the applicant further stated, that both he and his father, Simon Fraser, were called lord Lovat by the miners and other inhabitants of that spot where he was known. The old man was very ignorant, not knowing how to read or write, having been born in the mine and brought up a miner; but he said he had preserved Simon Fraser's highland dress, and that he had it in THE Wales.
EXTRACT FROM THE FAMOUS HISTORIE OF FRIAR BACON.
How Friar Bacon deceived his Man, that
would fast for conscience sake. Friar Bacon had only one man to attend
For the Table Book.
REV. MR. ALCOCK, OF BURNSAL, NEAR SKIPTON, YORKSHIRE. Every inhabitant of Craven has heard tales of this eccentric person, and numberless are the anecdotes told of him. I have not the history of Craven, and cannot name the period of his death exactly, but I believe it happened between fifty and sixty years ago. He was a learned man and a witso much addicted to waggery, that he
sometimes forgot his office, and indulged in sallies rather unbecoming a minister, but nevertheless he was a sincere Christian. The following anecdotes are well known in Craven, and inay amuse elsewhere. One of Mr. Alcock's friends, at whose house he was in the habit of calling previously to his entering the church on Sundays, once took occasion to unstitch his sermon and misplace the leaves. At the church, Mr. Alcock, when he had read a page, discovered the joke. "Peter," said he, "thou rascal! what's thou been doing with my sermon?" then turning to his congregation he said, "Brethren, Peter's been misplacing the leaves of my sermon, I have not time to put them right, I shall read on as I find it, and you must make the best of it that you can ;" and he accordingly read through the confused mass, to the astonishment of his flock. On another occasion, when in the pulpit, he found that he had forgotten his sermon; nowise disappointed at the loss, he called out to his clerk," Jonas, I have left my sermon at home, so hand us up that Bible, and I'll read 'em a chapter in Job worth ten of it!" Jonas, like his master, was an oddity, and used to make a practice of falling asleep at the commencement of the sermon, and waking in the middle of it, and bawling out "amen," thereby destroyed the gravity of the congregation. Mr. Alcock once lectured him for this, and particularly requested he would not say amen till he had finished his discourse. Jonas promised compliance, but on the following Sunday made bad worse, for he fell asleep as usual, and in the middle of the sermon awoke and bawled out "Amen at a venture!" The Rev. Mr. Alcock is, I think, buried before the communion-table of Skipton church, under a slab of blue marble, with a Latin inscription to his memory.
T. Q. M.
For the Table Book.
FRANK FRY, of Christian Malford, Wilts, whose bones lie undisturbed in the churchyard of his native village, wrote for himself the following
"Here lies I
Who did die;
I lie did
As I die did,
Old Frank Fry!
LA MORTE D'OLOFERNE.
In the interval of the frist to the second act it shall have a new and pompous Ball of the composition of John Baptista Gianini, who has by title:
IL SACRIFICIO D'ABRAMO, in which will enter all the excellent corp of Ball, who dance at present in the said Royal Theatre; the spetacle will be finished with the second act and Ball analog to the same Drama, all with the nessessary decoration.
This is who is offered to the Respectable Publick of whom is waited all the proctetion and concurrence :
It will begin at 8 o'clok.
Na Officina de Simão Thaddeo Ferreira. 1811. Com licenca.
For the Table Book.
At West-end, near Skipton in Craven, Yorkshire, a gate hangs, as a sign to a public-house, with this inscription on it
This gate hangs well,
And hinders none;
Refresh and pay,
And travel on.