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1823. We insert it as a matter of amusement: it is not intended to be confounded with a true history. We have omitted such parts of the story as do not agree with existing circumstances, and with the ancient traditions. We will not pretend to say how much credit is to be attributed to this legend.
The Legend of St. Dunstan. - In pious seclusion from the lusts and vanities of a profane world, St. Dunstan devoted a solitary life to the exercise of religion. His virtue, his austerities, and his miracles, sanctioned and certified by the authority of an infallible Church, were devoutly reverenced by the countless numbers of her faithful votaries. The renown of his piety and of his penance resounded through the universe. With mingled sentiments of resentment and of doubt, the Devil received the unwelcome tidings. He determined to examine, he hoped to falsify, the foundations of a fame which kindled his envy, and insulted his power. The execution of his purpose required privacy, and the leader of embattled spirits against the enthroned Omnipotence of Heaven was above the ostentation of a vulgar vanity. Accompanied by the humble retinue of only two attendant imps, the enemy of mankind directed his steps to the lonely abode of the ascetic recluse. The staff and scrip, the shells and sandals of a pilgrim, disguised the demon. Leaving his attendants at the entrance, he introduced himself alone into the cell of St. Dunstan. The piety, the existence of which he was unwilling to believe, he had the mortification to behold. Surrounded by holy images and relics, his rosary folded to his breast, and prostrate on the earth in devout adoration of a crucifix, the Saint was at his prayers. Near to him was placed an earthen vessel of the coarsest material, and rudest workmanship. In the estimation of a judgment enlightened by religious influence, it surpassed in value the costliest vase that was ever wrought of gold and gems; it had been an utensil of Saint Winifred. In the consecrated relic, on the canonical anniversary of her festival, and from her own well, the pure hands of Dunstan himself had drawn the material element of baptismal regeneration. In an ecstacy of devotional rapture, the eyes of the Saint were fixed on the more than crystalline transparency of the holy fluid, when, suddenly agitated, like the pool of Bethseda by the periodical visit of the descending angel, the perturbation of the mystic symbol of spiritual purification, announced the unhallowed presence of a spiritual foe. The real nature of his insidious visitor stood instantly revealed to the sanctity of Dunstan. Incensed at the unseasonable intrusion, the
Saint was deaf to the dictates of courtesy, and disclaimed the obligations of hospitality. With iron tongs, he rudely seized, and with a firm grasp held fast, the nose of the detected impostor. The imps who had been stationed at the entrance of Dunstan's cell, believed that the screams which they heard proceeded from the Saint, and his imagined sufferings excited their unfeeling derision. Their error, and their merriment, were of short duration. Amazed at the precipitate flight of a sovereign and a master whom the zeal of a loyal and affectionate attachment had deemed invincible by aught less than Omnipotence, they were seized by the exasperated Saint before they could recover from their consternation. His miraculous power was exercised in fixing them to the spot on which they stood, and in condemning them to the irksome task of preventing, by unremitting vigilance, a recurrence of unlicensed intrusion on his studies or his devotion. With reluctant fidelity they discharged the ungrateful duty, until the death of Dunstan changed the scene; it scarcely varied the nature of their punishment. Removed to the clock that is attached to the Church in Fleet Street dedicated to the memory of the Saint, they hebdominally summon, by eleven strokes of their sounding clubs, devout cockneys to Divine Worship. For many centuries they have expected, and with pertinacious credulity (the strongest minds are not inaccessible to the illusions of hope), they persist in expecting a speedy termination of their imprisonment. But their expectation is vain. The wrath of a Saint is implacable, and they will continue to mark with painful attention, and to notify with inflexible regularity, the minuter divisions of time, until time itself shall be finally engulfed in eternity.
From the ridiculous legend of St. Dunstan, let us turn to the beauties of animated nature at this season, and conclude our lucubrations today, with the following lines froin Thomson's Spring, which will apply to this period :
Should I my steps turn to the rural seat,
And, arching proud his neck, with oary feet
May 20. St. Bernadin of Sienna. St. Ethelbert, K.
and M. B. Yvo Bishop.
rises at iv. 8'. and sets at vii. 52'. St. Bernadin was born at Massa in 1380, of the noble family of Albizeschi, of the republic of Sienna. He is recorded to have fasted every Saturday in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, from the young age of eleven years, or upwards, and became one of the Fraternity de Nostre Dame of Scala, where he was in 1400 miraculously preserved from the ravages of the great pestilence which then prevailed. He died, 63 years old, this day in 1444, and was canonized by Nicholas the Fifth in 1450.
St. Ethelbert, King of the East Angles, succeeded King Ethelred, and reigned 44 years. He was barbarously martyred by Queen Quendreda in 793. Alfreda his wife afterwards retired to Croyland Abbey in the Fens.
The twentieth of May has been said to be particularly lucky for lovers to meet in couples to marry; at least so an ancient Ballad in “ Bighthelmstone's Fancies, p. 22," says :
Song to Harriet.
Roses and Violets blue,
I have plucked for you.
Our bearts and hands to join;
And thou shall rest on mine. FLORA.-In early years a few Roses begin to appear about this time, and sweet Violets decay. These two flowers have been styled the Rivals of the Spring, and are oftener put in contrast than any others. See Goethe's Poems passim, and Verses by a Madman, written on a Rock, p. 2. Roses, however, succeed, and do not accompany Violets.
Map 21. St. Godrick, Hermit. St. Hospitius, Re
cluse in Provence. St. Felix.
O enters the nominal n. Agonaliu Vejovi. Canis oritur.-Rom. Cal. FLORA.— The Small Crimson Peony Paeonia humilis flowers about this time; and we have observed the regularity of this, and other species of the same genus, for many years.
Coelum.-Among atmospheric phenomena to be noticed at this time of year, we may mention a pale lambent light of an electric sort, which plays of an evening in fine weather about the leaves of plants; and of which an account will be found in Forster's Atmospheric Phenomena, third edition, and in the Journal subjoined to that work, under May 21, 1808.
The sky is generally serene, and the weather mild and agreeable, about this time. A cloudy day, however, frequently happens, and is sometimes succeeded by a day's rain; but we have noticed frequently, that an overcast sky, when not too obscure, is the best for viewing flowers, and at this time of year often sets off the splendid Vernal Flora to great advantage.
Song to Summer.
From the blooming mead below,
May 22. St. Yvo, Confessor. St. Bobo.
St. Bobo. St. Basilicus. SS. Castus and Aemilius. St. Conall.
COELUM.—The weather about this time is very apt to become warmer, and the cold winds which sometimes blow in May to be changed for more temperate gales; in that case Summer seems to come on all at once.
AEOLUS.-As the prognosticative philosopher, can generally see indications of the sort of Summer we are to have about this time, and as the winds which have blown in Spring, and which blow at this time, afford one of the most certain means of judging of the approaching season; so we take this occasion to recommend to our speculative readers, who would become weather wise, to observe very accurately all the changes of wind about this time, as, between the 22d of May and the 1st of June, the weather for the ensuing Summer generally shows itself. The subject of the winds is one by no means sufficiently attended to by Meteorologists; for the currents, like other phenomena, are all subject to general laws, and admit of an easier prognosis than is generally imagined, of which we shall say more by and by. Something may be said of the construction of Weathercocks, often so ill made as to frustrate the object of their con