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It blazes soon ; nine bandages it bears,
And, as they each disjoin, so Custom wills,
A mighty jug of sparkling cyder's brought,
With brandy mixt, to elevate the guests.

High on the cheerful fire
Is blazing seen the enormous Christinas brand.*
At the end of Wither's Juvenilia, in a “Miscellany of
Epigrams, Sonnets, Epitaphs,” &c. is a “ Christmas Carroll,”
in which the customs of that season are not overlooked.

Lo! now is come our joyful'st Feast !

Let every Man be jolly.
Each Roome with Yvie leaves is drest,

And every Post with Holly:
Now, all our Neighbours’ Chinneys smoke,

And Christmas Blocks are burning ;
Their Ovens they with bak't Meats choke,
And all their Spits are turning.

Without the Doore let sorrow lie;
And if, for cold, it hap to die,
Wee'le bury't in a Christmas Pye,

And ever more be merry.
Now every Lad is wondrous trimm,

And no Man minds his Labour.
Our Lasses have provided them

A Bagpipe and a Tabor.
Ranke Misers now doe sparing shun:

Theire Hall of Musicke soundeth:
And Dogs thence with whole Shoulders run,
So all Things there aboundeth.

The Countrey Folke themselves advance;
For Crowdy Mutton's come out of France :
And Jack shall pipe, and Jyll shall daunce,

And all the Towne be merry.

Gratiae.-On Evergreen Decorations, such as decking Houses

and Churches with the Boughs and Berries of Holly, Ivy, and Misletoe.

From every hedge is plucked by eager hands
The Holly branch with prickly leaves replete,
And fraught with berries of a crimson hue;
Which, torn asunder from its parent trunk,
Is straightway taken to the neighbouring towns,
Where windows, mantles, candlesticks, and shelves,
Quarts, pints, decanters, pipkins, basons, jugs,
And other articles of household ware,

The verdant garb confess.
This custom too, says Brand, the Christians appear to
have copied from their Pagan ancestors. Bourne, in his
Antiquities of the Common People, p. 173, cites the Council

“ Christmas," a Poem, by J. Thorn, 1795.

of Bracara, Canon 73, as forbidding Christians to deck their houses with Bay leaves and green boughs; but this extended only to their doing it at the same time with the Pagans.

Dr. Chandler tells us, in his Travels in Greece, that it is related, where Druidism prevailed the houses were decked with evergreens in December, that the sylvan spirits might repair to them, and remain unnipped with frost and cold winds, until a milder season had renewed the foliage of their darling abodes.

Stowe, in his Survey of London, says, that against the Feast of Christmas, every man's house, as also their parish churches, were decked with Holme, Ivy, Bayes, and whatsoever the season of the

year

afforded to be green. The corners of the streets, conduits, market crosses, and other eminent places, were also decorated.

In the South of England our churches and houses are still decked with evergreens regularly every Christmas Eve, as they are taken down every Candlemas Eve—a cheerful custom, which we hope may continue. Gay, in his Trivia, b. ii. 1. 437, describes this practiee:

When Rosemary and Bays, the poet's crown,
Are bawl'd in frequent cries through all the town;
Then judge the festival of Christmass near,
Chistmass, the joyous period of the year!
Now with bright Holly all the temples strow,

With Lawrel green, and sacred Misletoe. This sacred Epidendron, our modern Misletoe, is beautifully described by Virgil in the 6th Aeneid Quale solet silvis brumali frigore Viscum,&c. See January 3, p. Ovid says,

" Ad Viscum-Druidae Druidae cantare solebant." A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine for February 1791, says,

“ That Guidhel, Misseltoe, a magical shrub, appears to be the forbidden tree in the middle of the trees of Eden.Hence, perhaps, the idle custom of kissing the girls under the Misletoe.

We shall conclude our account of evergreens with the following Carol in praise of the Holly, written during the reign of the sixth Henry: it is to be found in the Harleian Collection of Manuscripts, No.5396 :

Nay, Ivy! nay, it shall not be I wys;
Let Holy hafe the maystry, as the maner ys.
Holy stond in the halle, fayre to behold;
Ivy'stond without the dore; she ys full sore a cold.
Holy, and hys mery inen they dawnsyn and they syng,
Ivy and hur maydenys they wepyn and they wryng.
Ivy hath a lybe; she laghtit with the cold,
So mot they all hafe that wyth Ivy hold.

5.

Holy hath berys as 'red as any Rose,
The foster the hunters, kepe hem from the doo.
Ivy hath berys as black as any slo;
Ther com the oule and ete hym as she goo.
Holy hath byrdys, aful fayre flok,
The Nyghtyogale, the Poppyngy, the gayntyl Lavyrok.
Good Ivy! what byrdys ast thou !

Non but the Howlet that “ How ! How!" From this it should seem that Holly was used only to deck the inside of Houses at Christmas; while Ivy was used not only as a vintner's sign, but also among the evergreens at funerals.

A modern writer observes, “ The evergreens, with which the churches are usually ornamented at Christmas, are a proper emblem of that time, when, as God says, by the prophet Isaiah, I will plant in the wilderness the Cedar, the Shittah tree, and the Myrile, and the Oil tree; I will set in the desert the Fir tree, and ihe Pine, and the Box tree, together, xli. 19. The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the Fir tree, the Pine tree, and the Box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious, Ix. 13. See also li. 3, ly. 12, 13, and Nehemiah viii. 15, 16."

Of various Superstitions relating to Christmas Eve and to this Time of Year in general.-Candles and lamps are still lighted up to figures, pictures, and images of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the Eve of the Nativity, which are kept burning all night.

Cocks have been said, at this season, to crow all night long, instead of keeping their wonted nightwatches. This notion had its origin in the popular belief, that the sound of the cockcrowing had the power of driving away ghosts, daemons, and other hideous creatures of the imagination, usually believed to walk about by night. Then these birds, by their perpetual vigilance on Christmas Eve, freed the country of evil spirits against the Feast of the Nativity. Prudentius, in a poem written early in the fourth century, observes :

Ferunt vagantes daeronas,
Laetos tenebris noctium,
Gallo canente, exterritos,
Sparsim timere et credere.
Invisa nam vicinitas
Lucis salutis numinis,
Rupto tenebrarum situ,
Noctis fugat satellites.
Hoc esse signum praescii,
Nôrunt repromissae spei,
Quâ nos, soporis liberi,
Speramus adventum Dei.

This word may incan doole, pain.

The following beautiful passage in Shakespeare's Hamlet is well known, wherein the ghost of the King of Denmark is described as retreating at the crowing of the Cock :

And then it started, like a guilty thing
Upon a fearful summons. I have heard
The Cock, that is the trumpet of the Morn,
Doth, with his lofty and shrill sounding throat,
Awake the God of day; and at his warning,
Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,
The extravagant and erring Spirit bies
To his confine! and of the truth herein
This present object made probation-
It faded on the crowing of the Cock.
Some say that ever 'gainst that hallowed season,
At which our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning croweth all night long.
The nights are wholesome, then no mildew falls,
No Planet strikes, nor Spirits walk abroad;
No Fairy takes, nor Witch hath power to charm;
So gracious and so hallowed is the time.

Hor. So have I heard, and do in part believe it.
But look, the Morn in russet mantle clad
Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastern bill.
Break we our watch up.*

We have noticed, whatever may be the reason, that during the dark season of midwinter, Cocks often crow all day and night, and are particularly vociferous; especially in dark still open weather. It is probable that the religious feelings prevalent at this time of year may have converted this circumstance into a sign of the Nativity; for at this season, although physically the darkest, the light of Christianity was said first to dawn on the darkness of the Pagan world. There is this remarkable circumstance about the crowing of

The following curious note is extracted from Ellis's edition of Brande's Popular Antiquities: it relates to a similar superstition :-“A superstitious notion prevails in the western parts of Devonshire, that at twelve o'clock at night on Christmas Eve, the oxen in their stalls are always found on their knees, as in an attitude of devotion; and that, which is still more singular, since the alteration of the style they continue to do this only on the Eve of old Christmas Day. An honest countryman, living on the edge of St. Stephen's Down, near Launceston, Cornwall, informed me, October 28th, 1790, that he once, with some others, made a trial of the truth of the above, and watching several oxen in their stalls at the above tinie, at twelve o'clock at night, they observed the two oldest oxen only fall upon their knees, and, as he expressed it in the idiom of the country, make ' a cruel woan like Christian creatures.' I could not but with great difficulty keep my countenance: he saw, and seemed angry that I gave so little credit to his tale, and, walking off in a pettish humour, seemed to marvel at my unbelief, There is an old print of the Nativity, in which the oxen in the stable, near the Virgin and Child, are represented upon their knees, as in a suppliant posture." It is well known that an Ox and Ass are recorded to have been in the stable at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ,

Cocks. At several different times in the course of the night a general crowing may be heard from all quarters of the villages where there are Cocks; the first that begins apparently setting all the rest off: and this fact is remarkably striking in places where numbers of Cocks are bred for the purpose of fighting. As far as we can observe, excepting at the dawn of day, these crowing matches happen at uncertain periods. The ancients, however, seem to have regarded them as taking place at marked intervals of time, which appear to have caused their division of the night watches by the first, second, and third Anextgogovias, as mentioned by St. John.

Some observations on this subject may be found in vol. i. of Dr. Hale's Analysis of Ancient Chronology, 4to, London, 1810. See also some account of the Gallicantus in Gesner's Hist. Avium, folio, sub Gallo.

Bourne has a long dissertation on the Periods of Cockcrowing, and attempts to explain the superstitions relating to it. And in Brande's Popular Antiquities are numerous additional citations on the same subject. See November 27.

MUSAE.—The following verses, written by a late eminent divine, in the style of Chaucer, deserve commemoration :

THE VILLAGE PRIEST.

Sir Priest, with Curate by his side,

O'er Bradoc Downs doth hie;
At churchyard stile the village folk

Them greet most courteously.

The clock struck ten, the Priest his breakfast got,
Then mounted he his little poney gray,
For larger beast o'er down he ne'er would trot,
And to the house of God went forth to pray:
The Curate with bim went, as was his way.
Pricketh Sir Priest all over Bradoc Down,
His band and gown were almost blown away,

Ne mote he stop till come to churchis town,
For words on common bleak did ever cast him down.

When come to that high church which Bradoc hight,
Tho' narrow lane, which him encheaned had,
The bell gan sound with mickle stound and might,
And all the people at his sight were glad;
In simple cleanliness the maids were clad,
And courtsy'd to Sir Priest as on he went;
The young lads also reverence to him paid,

The elder folk him hail'd with words well meant,
Gladness shone in their looks and pleasant merriment.

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