« AnteriorContinuar »
beral species,” soon became objects of depravity and unbridled licentiousness. ;P a totally different nature also, and analagous only in quaintness of appellation, were the societies established by men of letters in various parts of Italy, such as the society of the “Insensate,” at Perugia, of the “Stravaganti,” at Pisa, and the “Eteróclyti,” at Pesaro. Nor can I allow myself to pass over in silence on the present occasion the order or society of Fools, otherwise denominated “Respublica Binepsis,” which was founded towards the middle of the fourteenth century by some Polish noblemen, and took its name from the estate of one Psomka, the principal instigator, near Leublin. Its form was modelled after that of the constitution of Poland; like this, too, it had its king, its council, its chamberlain, its master of the hunt, and various other offices. Whoever made himself ridiculous by any singular and foolish propensity, on him was conferred an appointment befitting it. Thus he, who carried his partiality to the canine species to a ridiculous extreme, was created master of the hunt; whilst another, who constantly boasted of his valorous achievements, was raised to the dignity of field marshal. No one dared to refuse the acceptance of such a vocation, unless he wished to become a still greater object of ridicule and animadversion than before. This order soon experienced so rapid an increase of numbers that there were few at court who were not members of it. At the same time it was expressly forbidden that any lampooner should be introduced amongst them. The avowed object of this institution was to prevent the rising generation from the adoption of bad habits and licentious manners; and ridiculous as was its outward form, is not its design at least entitled to our esteem and veneration?
Patent of Creation of the Order of Fools.
“We all, who have hereunto affixed our seals, make known unto all men, and declare, that after full and mature consideration, both on our own behalf and on account of the singular goodwill and friendship which we all bear, and will continue to bear towards one another, we have instituted a sóciety of fools, according to the form and manner hereunto subjoined:—
“Be it therefore known, that each member shall wear a fool, either made of silver,
or embroidered, on his coat. And such member as shall not daily wear this fool, him shall and may any one of us, as often as he shall see it, punish with a mulct of three old great tournois, (livres tournois, about four-pence halfpenny,) which three tournois shall be appropriated to the relief of the poor in the Lord! “Further, will we fools yearly meet, and hold a conventicle and court, and assemble ourselves, to wit at Cleves, every year on, the Sunday after Michaelmas-day; and no one of us shall depart out of the city, nor mount his horse to quit the place where we may be met together, without previous notice, and his having defrayed that part of the expenses of the court which he is bound to bear. And none of us shall remain away on any pretence or for any other reason whatsoever than this, namely, that he is labouring under very great infirmity; excepting moreover those only who may be in a foreign country, ...} at six days’ journey from their customary place of residence. If it should happen that any one of the society is at enmity with another, then must the whole society use their utmost endeavours to adjust their differences and reconcile them; and such members and all their abettors shall be excluded from appearing at the court on the Friday morning when it commences its sitting at sun-rise, until it breaks up on the same Friday at sun-set. “And, we will further, at the royal court yearly elect one of the members to be king of our society, and six to be counsellors; which king with his six counsellors shall regulate and settle all the concerns of the society, and in particular appoint and fix the court of the ensuing year; they shall also procure, and cause to be procured, all things necessary for the if court, of which they shall kee an exact account. These expenses .# be alike both to knights and squires, and a third part more shall fall upon the lords than upon the knights and squires; but the counts shall be subject to a third part more than the lords. “And early on the Tuesday morning (during the period of the couri's sitting) all of us members shall go to the church of the Holy Virgin at Cleves, to pray for the repose of all those of the society who may o, died; and there shall each bring his separate offering. “And each of us has mutually pledged his good faith, and solemnly engaged to
MoUNTEBANKS AND MR. MERRIMAN. For the Every-Day Book. Little inferior to Mr. Punch, Mr. Merriman has stood eminently high at fairs, figured in market-places, and scarcely a village green in England, that has not felt , the force of his irresistible appeals. He does not often approach the over-grown metropolis; his success here is less certain, and the few patrons that remain, love to feast their eyes and risible faculties without sparing a modicum from their *. : the droll simpleton might crack is jokes without finding the kernel— cash, A company of mountebanks, however, appeared on a green, north of White Conduit-house, several evenings last week. On Saturday the performance commenced at five o'clock in the afternoon. The performers consisted of the master, a short, middle aged person,with a florid complexion, dressed in decent half mourning. He possessed a sound pair of lungs, fair eloquence, and a good portion of colloquial ability. By the assistance of a little whip she kept in order a large ring, formed of boys, girls, and grown persons of both -sexes. His eye, gray as , a falcon's, watched the reception he received, and seemed to communicate with his “mind's eye,” as to his subscribers. The rosyfaced maid servants, glad of the oppor, tunity of gazing at the exhibitors, were rejoiced by the pretence of holding the | * From Dr. Aikin s Athenæum. ‘. . . . Gentleman's Magazine.
which he was possessed.
“nursery treasures” to see all that could be seen. Here the calculator looked for patronage and encouragement. “Mr.Merriman,” a young man with his face and clothes duly coloured, a la Grimaldi, raised laughter by his quaint retorts, by attempts at tumbling to prove he could tumble well, and by drilling with a buglehorn a dozen volunteer boys in many whimsical exercises, truly marvellous to simpering misses and their companions. The next performer was a short man with sharp features, sunburnt face, and shrill goat-like voice:—he tumbled in a clever, but, I think, dangerous manner. Then Mr. Merriman’s “imitations” followed; not to say any thing of those inimitable imitators, Mathews, Reeve, and Yates, he suited his audience to the very echo of the surrounding skeletons in brick and mortar. The tumbler then reposed by putting a loose coat over his party. coloured habit, and playing a pandeanpipe while “Mr. Merriman’” sat on a piece of carpet spread on the ground, and tossed four gilt balls in the air at the same time, to the variations of the music. A drum was beat by a woman about forty, with a tiara on her head, who afterwards left the beating art and mounting the slack-wire, which was supported by three sticks, coned at each end to a triangle; she danced and vaulted a la Gouffe. A table was put on the wire, which she balanced, and bore a glass full of liquor bn the rim as she twirled it on her finger. This was the acme of the display. Tickets at one shilling each were now handed round with earnestness and much promise, for a lottery of prizes, consisting of teapots, waiters, printed calico, and two sovereigns thrown on the grass instead of a sheep. These temptations held out to many a Saturday night labourer the hope of increasing his week's wages. The “conductor” of his company no doubt profited by the experience of Many tickets were sold; expectation breathed—fancy pictured a teapot—or some token of fortune's performance. The decision made, the die cast, now the laughing winner walked hurriedly away, hugging his prize, while the losers hid their chagrin, and were quietly dispersed by the “blank" influence, with secret wishes that their money was in their pockets again. When I reflect upon this kind of amuse
ment for the labouring classes, I see nothing to prevent its occasional appear
ance. The wit scattered about, though in a blundering way, is often smart. In spite of decorum, of my better instruction in gentility, and Chesterfield's axioms, I love to stand and shake my human system, if it be only to remind me of past observation, and to see the children so happy, who ring out music, in every responsive applause of the tricks so plausibly represented to their view. While “Mr. Merriman” does not invade the [. of society, I hope he will be allowed is precarious reign, as he promised “that he would forfeit fifty guineas if he came into the parish again at least for a twelvemonth.”
On the 3d of October, 1737, a cartgelding belonging to Mr. Richard Fendall, of the Grange, Southwark, died by an accidental cut in his knee with a gardenmellon bell-glass; which is taken notice of, because this gelding was forty-four years in his possession. It was bought Michaelmas, 1693, at Uxbridge, was never sick nor lame all the time, and within the fifteen years preceding, drew his owner and another in a chaise, fifty miles in one day.t
BiRDs AND MISTs.
It is observed that—“Among the miscellaneous events of October, one of the most striking and curious is the interchange which seems to take place between our country, and the more northern as well as the more southern ones, in regard to the birds. The swallow tribe now all quit us: the swift disappeared wholly, more than a month ago; and now the house swallow, house martin, and bank or sand martin, after congregating for awhile in vast flocks about the banks of rivers and other waters, are seen no more as general frequenters of the air. If one or two are seen during the warm days that sometimes occur fer the next two or three weeks, they are to be looked upon as strangers and wanderers; and the sight of them, which has hitherto been so pleasant, becomes altogether different in its effect: it gives one a feeling of desolateness, such as we experience on meeting a poor shivering lascar in our winter streets.--In exchange for this tribe of truly summer visiters, we have now great flocks of the fieldfares and redwings come back to us; and also wood pigeons, snipes, woodcocks, and several of the numerous tribe of water-fowl.
* Gentlem:an's Magazine. f Ibid
“Now, occasionally, we may observe the singular effects of a mist, coming gradually on, and wrapping in its dusky cloak a whole landscape that was, the moment before, clear and bright as in a spring morning. The vapour rises visibly (from the face of a distant river perhaps) like steam from a boiling caldron; and climbing up into the blue air as it advances, rolls wreath over wreath till it reaches the spot on which you are standing; and then, seeming to hurry past you, its edges, which have hitherto been distinctly defined, become no longer visible, and the whole scene of beauty, which a few moments before surrounded you, is as it were wrapt from your sight like an unreal vision of the air, and you seem (and in fact are) transferred into the bosom of a cloud.”
A provincial papert says, “It is a fact, which has not been satisfactorily accounted for by ornithologists, that the number of swallows which visit this island are not near so numerous as they formerly were; and this is the case, not only in this neighbourhood, but throughout the country. The little that is satisfactoril known concerning the parts to whic they emigrate, and the many statements respecting their anuual migration, not only serves to show that something remains to be discovered respecting these interesting visiters, but perhaps prevents us from ascertaining the causes of the decrease in their numbers. In the month of September, 1815, great numbers of these §. congregated near Rotherham, previous to their departure for a more genial climate. Their appearance was very extraordinary, and attracted much attention. We extract some account of this vast assemblage of the feathered race, from an elegantly written little work, H.” on the occasion, by the rev.
omas Blackley, vicar of #9 he ham; containing ‘Observations and Reflections on this circumstance:—
“‘Early in the month of September, 1815, that beautiful and social tribe of the feathered race began to assemble in the neighbourhood of Rotherham, at the Willow-ground, near the Glass-house, preparatory to their migration to a a warmer climate; and their numbers were daily
• Mirror of the Months. t Sheffield Mereury.
augmented, until they became a vast flock which no man could easily number—thousands upon thousands, tens of thousands, and myriads—so great, indeed, that the spectator would almost have concluded that the whole of the swallow race were there collected in one huge host. It was their manner, while there, to rise from the willows in the morning, a little before six o'clock, when their thick columns literally darkened the sky. Their divisions were formed into four, five, ano sometimes six grand wings, each of these filing off and taking a different route— one east, another west, another south, and so on; as if not only to be equally disF. throughout the country, to provide ood for their numerous troops; but also to collect with them whatever of their fellows, or straggling parties, might be still left behind. Just before the respective columns arose, a few birds might be observed first in motion at different points, darting through their massy ranks—these appeared like officers giving the word of command. In the evening, about five o'clock, they began to return to their station, and continued coming in, from all quarters, until nearly dark. It was here that you might see them go through their various aerial evolutions, in many a sportive ring and airy gambol—strengthening their pinions in these playful feats for their !. etherial journey; while contentment and cheerfulness reigned in every breast, and was expressed in their evening song by a thousand pleasing twitters from their little throats, as they cut the air and frolicked in the last beams of the setting sun, or lightly skimmed the surface of the glassy pool. The notes of those that had already gained the willows sounded like the murmur of a distant waterfall, or the dying roar of the retreating billow on the sea beach. “‘The verdant enamel of summer had already given place to the warm and mellow tints of autumn, and the leaves were now fast falling from their branches, while the naked . of many of the trees appeared—the golden sheaves were safel lodged in the barns, and the reapers had, for this year, shouted their harvest home —frosty and misty mornings now succeeded, the certain presages of the approach of winter. These omens were understood by the swallows as the route for their march; accordingly, on the morning of the 7th of October, their mighty army broke up their encampment,
debouched from their retreat, and, rising, covered the heavens with their legions; thence, directed by an unerring guide, they took their trackless way. On the morn: ing of their going, when they ascended from their temporary abode, they did not, as they had been wont to do, divide into different columns, and take each a different route, but went off in one vast body, bearing to the south. It is said that they would have gone sooner, but for a contrary wind which had some time prevailed; that on the day before they took their departure, the wind got round, and the favourable breeze was immediately embraced by them. On the day of their flight, they left behind them about a hundred of their companions; whether they were slumberers in the camp, and so had missed the going of their troops, or whether they were left as the rear-guard, it is not easy to ascertain; they remained, however, till the next morning, when the greater part of them mounted on their pinions, to follow, as it should seem, the celestial route of their departed legions. After these a few stragglers only remained; these might be too sick or too young to attempt so great an expedition; whether this was the fact or not, they did not remain after the next day. If they did not follow their army, yet the dreary appearance of their depopulated camp and their affection for their kindred, might influence them to attempt it, or to explore a warmer and safer retreat.’”
On Sunday evening, the 6th of October, 1823, a lad named George Davis, sixteen and a half years of age, in the service of Mr. Hewson, butcher, of Bridge-road, Lambeth, at about twenty minutes after nine o'clock, bent forward in his chair, and rested his forehead on his hands. In ten minutes he started up, fetched his whip, put on his one spur, and went thence to the stable; not finding his own saddle in the proper place, he returned to the house, and asked for it. Being asked what he wanted with it, he replied, to go his rounds. He returned to the stable, got on the horse without the saddle, and was proceeding to leave the stable; it was with much difficulty and force that Mr. Hewson junior, assisted by the other lad, could remove him from the horse; his strength was great, and it was with difficulty he was brought in doors. Mr. Hewson senior, coming home at this time, sent for Mr. Benjamin Ridge, an eminent ractitioner, in Bridge-road, who stood by im for a quarter of an hour, during which time the lad considered himself stopped at the turnpike gate, and took sixpence out of his pocket to be changed; and holding out his hand for the change, the sixpence was returned to him. He immediately observed, “None of your nonsense—that is the sixpence again, give me my change.” When threepence halfpenny was given to him, he counted it over, and said, “None of your gammon; that is not right, I want a penny more;”
* Gentleman't Magazine.
* A General Biographical Dictionary, (Hunt and Clarke,) vol. ii.