« AnteriorContinuar »
to aim a blow at. Of this we have an interesting instance in an account given by sir William Eure, the envoy of Henry the Eighth to James the Fifth, in a letter to the lord privy seal of England, dated 26th of January 1540, on the performance of a play, or morality, written by the celebrated sir David Lindsay. It was entitled The Satire of the Three Estate; and was performed at Linlithgow, "before the king, queene, and the whole counsaill, spirituall and temporall," on the feast of Epiphany. It gives a singular proof of the liberty then allowed, by king James and his court witnessing the exhibition of a piece, in which the corruptions of the existing government and religion were treated with the most satirical severity.
The principal dramatis persona were a king, a bushop, a hurges man, " armed in harness, with a swerde drawn in his hande," a poor man, and Experience, "clede like ane doctor." The poor man (who seetns to have represented the people) " looked at the king, and said he was -ot king in Scotland, for there was another king in Scotland that hanged Johne Armstrong with his fellows, Sym the aird, and mony other mae." He then makes' » long narracione of the oppression of the poor by the taking of the corsepresaunte beits, and of the berrying of poor men by the consistorye lawe, and of mony other abusions of the spiritualitie and church. Then the bushop raised and rebuked him, and defended himself. Then the man of arms alleged the contrarie, and commanded the-poor man to go on. The
Cr man proceeds with a long list of the hop's evil practices, the vices of cloisters, &c. This is proved by Experience, who, from a New Testament, showes the office of a bishop. The man of arms and burges approve of all that was said against the clergy, and allege the expediency of a reform, with the consent of parliament. The bushop dissents. The man of arms and burgitsaid they were two and he but one, where/ore their voice should have the most effect. Thereafter the king in the play ratified, approved, and confirmed ali that was rehearsed."
None of the ancient religious observances, which have escaped, through the riot of time and barbarism, to our day, have occasioned more difficulty than that which forms the subject of these remarks. It is remaikable, that in all disputed etymological investigations, a number of words got as explanatory, are so pro
vokingly improbable, that decision is rendered extremely difficult. With no term is this more the case, than Hoomenay. So wide is the field of conjecture, as to the signification of this word, that we shall not occupy much space in attempting to settle which of the various etymologies is the most correct.
Many complaints were made to the Gallic synods of the great excesses committed on the last night of the year and first of January, by companies of both sexes dressed in fantastic habits, who ran about with ilieir Christmas boxes, calling tire lire, and begging for the lady in the straw both money and wassels. The chief of these strollers was called Rollet Follet. They came into the churches during the vigils, and disturbed the devotions. A stop was put to this in 1598, at the representation of the bishop of Angres; but debarred from coming to the churches, they only became more licentious, and went about the country frightening the people in their houses, so that the legislature having interfered, an end was put to the practice in 1668.
The period during the continuance of these festivities corresponded exactly with the present daft days, which, indeed, is nearly a translation of their French name files de fous. The cry used by the bachelettes during the sixteenth century has also a striking resemblance to the still common cry "hogmenay trololay—gi'us your white bread and nane o' your grey," it being " au gui menez, Rollet Follet, au gui menez, tire lire, mainte du blanc et point du bis."
The word Rollet is, perhaps, a corruption of the ancient Norman invocation of their hero, Rollo. Gui, however, seems to refer to the druidical custom of cutting branches from the mistletoe at the close of the year, which were deposited in the temples and houses with great ceremony.
A supposition has been founded upon the reference of this cry to the birth of our Saviour, and the arrival of the wise men from the east; of whom the general belief in the church of Rome is, that they were three in number. Thus the language, as borrowed from the French may be "homme est ng, trois rois allois I" A man is born, three kings are come 1
Others, fond of referring to the dark period of the Goths, imagine that this name had its origin there. Thus, minne was one of the cups drunk at the feast of Yule, as celebrated in the times of heatnenism, and oel is the general term for festival. The night before Yule was called hoggin nott, or hogenat, signifying the slaughter night, and may have originated from the number of cattle slaughtered on that night, either as sacrifices, or in preparation for the feast on the following day. They worshipped the sun under the name Thor. Hence, the call for the celebration of their sacrifices would be "Hogg-minne I Thorl oel! oel 1" Remember your sacrifices, the feast of Thor! the feast!
Tliat the truth lies among these various explanations, there appears no doubt; we however turn to hogmenay among ourselves, and although the mutilated legend which we have to notice remains but as a few scraps, it gives an idea of the existence of a custom which has many points of resemblance to that of France during theftles tin funs. It has hitherto escaped the attention of Scottish antiquaries.
Every person knows the tenacious adherence of the Scottish peasantry to the tales and observances of auld long syne. Towards the close of the year many superstitions are to this day strictly kept up among the country people, chiefly as connected with their cattle and crops. Their social feelings now get scope, and while one may rejoice that he has escaped difficulties and dangers during the past year, another looks forward with bright anticipation for better fortune in the year to come. The bannock of the oaten cake gave place a little to the currant loaf and bun, and the amorie* of every cottager have goodly store of dainties, invariably including a due proportion of Scotch drink. The countenances of all seem to say
"Let mirth abound; let social rheer
To crown our joy,
Our bliss destroy.
When merry Vuleday comt-s, 1 trow
O' gusty gear
Then tho' at odds-wi' a' the war),
To spoil our glee,
We'll drink and gree!"
It is deemed Inchy to see the new moo? with some money (silver) in tne pocket. A similar idea is perhaps connected with the desire to enter the new year rife o' roughness. The grand affair among the boys in the town is to provide themse.ves v>'nhfmu$efaces, or masks; and those with crooked hotns and beards are in greatest demand. A high paper cap, with one of their great grandfather's antique coats, then equips them as a guisard—they thus go about the shops seeking their hogmenay. In the carses and moor lands, however, parties of guisards have long kept up the practice in great style. Fantastically dressed, and each having his character allotted him, they go through the farm houses, and unless denied entrance by being told that the Old Style is kept, perform what must once have been a connected dramatic piece. We have heard various editions of this, but the substance of it is something like the following :—
One enters first to speak the prologue in the style of the Chester mysteries, called the JFhitsvn plays, and which appear to have been performed during the mayoralty of John Arneway, who filled that office in Chester from 1268 to 1276. It is usually in these words at present—
Rise op crude wife and shake your feathers
Dinna think that we're lieggars,
We arc bairns com'd to play
And for to seek our hogmenay;
Redd up stocks, redd up stools,
Here comes in a pack o' fools.*
Muckle head and little wit stand hcliint the door,
But sic a set as we are, ne'er were here before.
One with a sword, who corresponds with the Rollet, now enters and savs:
Here conies in the great king of Macedon,
If national partiality does not deceive us, we think this speech points out the origin of the story to be the Roman invasion under Agricola, and the name of Galgacus (although Oalacheiu and •Sain
« The author of Waverly, in a note to the Abbnt, mentions three Moralitio played during the time of the reformatio—T«e Abbot of Unrtatoit, Tae Hrt Hi'b"i>- "nd the Pept »' P1/0I1—may not pack o JOSH be a corruption of ihu latt I
Lawrence are sometimes substituted, but most probably as corruptions) makes the famous struggle for freedom by the Scots under that leader, in the battle fought at the foot of the Grampians, the subject of this historical drama.
Enter Galgacns. Here comes in Galgacus—wha doesna fear
my name t Sword and buckler by my side, I hopn to win
the game! They close in a sword fight, and in the "hash smash" the chief is victorious. He says: Down Jack! down to the ground you must
go— Oh O! what's this I've done? I've killed my brother Jack, my father's
only son! Call upon the doctor.
Enter Doctor (saying) Here comes in the best doctor that ever Scotland bred.
Chief. What can you cure? The doctor then relates his skill in surgery.
Chief. What will ye tak to cure this man?
Doctor. Ten pound and a bottle of wine
Chief. Will six not do?
Doctor. That will not put on the pot, fcc.
A bargain however is struck, and the Doctor says to Jack, start to your feet and stand!
Jack. Oh hon, my back, I'm sairly wounded.
Doctor. What ails your back? Jack. There's a hole in't you may turn your tongue ten times round it 1 Doctor. How did you get it? Jack. Fighting for our land. Doctor. How mony did you kill? Jack. I killed a' the loons save ane, but he ran, he wad na stand.
Here, most unfortunately, there is a "hole (the ballad" a hiatus which irreparably closes the door upon our keenest prying. During the late war with France Jack was made to say he had been '• fighting the French," and that the loon who took leg bail was no less a personage than Nap. le grand! Whether we ate to regard this as a dark prophetic anticipation ef what did actually take place, seems
really problematical. The strange eventful history however is wound up by the entrance of Judas with the bag. He says:
Here comes in Judas—Judas is my name, If ye pit nought sillar i'my bag, for gude
sake mind our wame! When I gaed to the castle yett and tirl't at
the pin, They keepit the keys o' the castle wa , and
wad na let me in. I've been i' the east carse, I've been i' the west carse, IVe been i' the carse o' Gowric, Where the clouds rain a' day wi' peat and
wi' beans! And the farmers theeh houses wi' Media
and prim! I've seen geese ga'in' on pattens! And swine fleeing i' the air like peelings o'
onions! Our hearts are made o' steel, but our body's
sma' as ware, If you've ouything to gi" us, itap it in there.'
This character in the piece seems to mark its ecclesiastical origin, being of course taken from the office of the betrayer in the New Testament; whom, by the way, he resembles in another point; as extreme jealousy exists among the party, this personage appropriates to himself the contents of the bag The money and wassel, which usually consists of/arte* of short bread, or cakes and pieces of cheese, are therefore frequently counted out before the whole.
One of the guisards who has the best voice, generally concludes the exhibition by singing an "auld Scottish tang." The most ancient melodies only are considered appropriate for this occasion, and many very fine ones are often sung that have not found their way into collections: or the group join in a reel, lightly tripping it, although encumbered with buskins of straw wisps, to the merry sound of the fiddle, which used to form a part of the establishment of these itinerants. They anciently however appear to have been accompanied with a musician, who played the kythels, or stock-and-horn, a musical instrument made of the thigh bone of a sheep and the horn of a bullock.
The above practice, like many customs of the olden time, is now quickly falling into disuse, and the revolution of a few years may witness the %>tal extinction of this seasonable doing. That there does still exist in other places of Scotland the remnants of plays performed upon similar occasions, and which may contain many interesting allusions, is very likely. TKa noticed above, however, is the first which we remember of seeing noticed in a particular manner.
The kirk of Scotland appears formerly to have viewed these festivities exactly as the Roman church in France did in the sixteenth century; and, as a proof of this, and of the style in which the sport was anciently conducted in the parish of Falkirk, we have a remarkable instance so late as the year 1702. A great number of farmers' sons and farm servants from the " East Carse " were publicly rebuked before the session, or ecclesiastical court, for going about in disguise upon the last night of December that year, "acting things unseemly;" and having professed their sorrow for the sinfulness of the deed, were certified if they should be found guilty of the like in time coming, they would be proceeded against after another manner. Indeed the scandalized kirk might have been compelled to put the cutty ttool in requisition, as a consequence of such promiscuous midnight meetings.
The observance of the old custom of "first fits" upon New-year's day is kept up at Falkirk with as much spirit as any where else. Both Old and New Style have their "keepers," although many of the lower classes keep them in rather a "disorderly style." Soon as the steeple clock strikes the ominous twelve, all is running, and bustle, and noise; hot-pints in clear scoured copper kettles are seen in all directions, and a good noggin to the well-known toast, " A gude new year, and a merry hansel Monday," is exchanged among the people in the streets, as well as friends in the houses. On hansel Monday O. S. the numerous colliers in the neighbourhood of the town have a grand main of cocks ; but there is nothing in these customs peculiar to the season. Falkirk, 1825. J.W.R.
ANNUAL JOCULAR TENURE.
The following are recorded particulars of a whimsical custom in Yorkshire, by which a right of sheep-walk is held by the tenants of a manor :
Hutlon Conyers, Com. York.
Near this town, which lies a few miles from Ripon, there is a large common, called Hutton Conyers Moor, whereof William Aislabie, esq. of Studley Royal, (lord of the manor of Hutton Conyers,) is lord of the soil, and on which there is a
large coney-warren belonging to the lord. The occupiers of messuages and cottages within the several towns of Hutton Conyers, Baldersby, Rainton, Dishforth, and Hewick, have right of estray for their sheep to certain limited boundaries on the common, and each township has a shepherd. The lord's shepherd has a preeminence of tending his sheep on every part of the common; and wherever he herds the lord's sheep, the several other shepherds are to give way to him, and give up their hoofing-place, so long as he pleases to depasture the lord's sheep thereon. The lord holds his court the first day in the year, to entitle those several townships to such right of estray; the shepherd of each township attends the court, and does fealty, by bringing to the court a large apple-pie, and a twopenny sweetcake, (except the shepherd of Hewick, who compounds by paying sixteen pence for ale, which is drank as after mentioned,) and a wooden spoon; each pie is cut in two, and divided by the bailiff, one half between the steward, bailiff, and the tenant of the coney-warren before mentioned, and the other half into six parts, and divided amongst the six shepherds of the above mentioned six townships. In the pie brought by the shepherd of Rainton an inner one is made, filled with prunes. The cakes are divided in the same manner. The bailiff of the manor provides furmety and mustard, and delivers to each shepherd a slice of cheese and a penny roll. The furmety, well mixed with mustard, is put into an earthen pot, and placed in a hole in the ground, in a garth belonging to the bailiff's house; to which place the steward of the court, with the bailiff, tenant of the warren, and six shepherds, adjourn with their respective wooden spoons. The bailiff provides spoons for the stewards, the tenant of the warren, and himself. The steward first pays respect to the furmety, by taking a large spoonful, the bailiff has the next honour, the tenant of the warren next, then the shepherd of Hutton Conyers, and afterwards the other shepherds by regular turns; then each person is served with a glass of ale, (paid for by the sixteen pence brought by the Hewick shepherd,) and the health of the lord of the manor is drank; then they adjourn back to the bailiff s house, and the further business of the court is proceeded in.
Each pie contains about a peck of flour, is about sixteen or eighteen inches dumeter, and as large as will go into the mouth of an ordinary oven. The bailiff of the manor measures them with a rule, and takes the diameter; and if they are not of a sufficient capacity, he threatens to return them, and fine the town. If they are large enough, he divides them with a rule and compasses into four equal parts; of which the steward claims one, the warrener another, and the remainder is divided amongst the shepherds. In respect to the furmety, the top of the dish in which it is put is placed level with the surface of the ground; all persons present are invited to eat of it, and those who do not, are not deemed loyal to the lord. Every shepherd is obliged to eat of it, and for that purpose is to take a tpoon in his pocket to the court; for if any of them neglect to carry a spoon with him, he is to lay him down upon his belly, and sup the furmety with his face to the pot or dish, at which time it is usual, by way of sport, for some of the bystanders to dip his face into the furmety; and sometimes a shepherd, for the sake of diversion, will purposely leave his spoon at home.*
NEW-YEARS DAY IN SUSSEX.
To the Editor of the Every-Day Book.
a plentiful dinner in the servants' hall; and after dinner they also receive prizes for their good conduct as teachers, and their diligence as scholars.
I am, f<c.
Sir, A practice which well deserves to be known and imitated is established at Maresfield-park, Sussex, the seat of sir John Shelley, bart. M. P. Rewards are annually given on New-year's day to such of the industrious poor in the neighbourhood as have not received parish relief, and have most distinguished themselves by their good behaviour and industry, the neatness of their cottages and gardens, and their constant attendance at church, &c. The distribution is made by lady Shelley, assisted by other ladies; and it is gratifying to observe the happy effects upon the character and disposition of the poor people with which this benevolent practice has been attended during the few years it has been established. Though the highest reward does not exceed two guineas, yet it has excited a wonderful spirit of emulation, and many a strenuous effort to avoid receiving money from the parisn. Immediately as the rewards are given, all (he children belonging to the Sunday-school and national-school lately established in the parish, are set down to
• nirainl'j Flu*. Antiq. by B«.k«itr,
ODE TO "HE NEW YEAR.
A Gentleman of Literary Habits and Means.
All hail to the birth of the year,
Stern Winter congeals every brook,
Now wild duck and widgeon abound,
The winds blow out shrilly and hoarse,
Alas! for the poor! as unwilling
The wood pigeon, sacred to love,
Now gone is St. Thomas's day.
And the old year for ever is gone.
The scythe and the hour glass of time,
We are truly and agreeably informed by the "Mirror of the Months," that "Now periodical works put on their best attire; the old ones expressing their determination to become new, and tha new