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Pressing in Church.
On the morning of Easter Sunday, 1596, during the reign of queen Elizabeth, the lord mayor and aldermen of London received the royal command to raise a thousand men with the utmost expedition; wherefore they repaired with their deputies, constables, and other officers, to the churches, and having caused the doors to be shut, took the people during divine service from their worship, till the number was completed, and having armed them, the men, so raised and equipped, were marched the same night for Dover, in order to their embarkation for France; but in the mean time, Elizabeth having received advice of the reduction of Calais by the Spaniards, they were countermanded, and returned to the city in about a week after their departure."
EASTER DAY Customs At Twickenham and Paddington. According to Mr. Lysons, “There was an ancient custom at Twickenham, of dividing two great cakes in the church upon Easter-day among the young people; but it being looked upon as a superstitious relic, it was ordered by parliament, 1645, that the parishioners should forbear that custom, and, instead thereof, buy loaves of bread for the poor of the parish with the money that should have bought the cakes. It appears that the sum of £1.. per annum is still charged upon the vicarage for the purpose of buying nny loaves for poor children on the ursday after Easter. Within the memory of man they were thrown from the church-steeple to be scrambled for; a custom which prevailed also, some time ago, at Paddington, and is not yet totally abolished.” A correspondent imagines that the Paddington custom of throwing bread from the church-steeple, which exists also in other parishes, was derived from largesses bestowed on the poor by the Romish clergy on occasion of the festival, and that it has been continued since the Reformation, and, therefore, since the institution of poor rates, without due regard to its original object. Biddenden Custom. Since the former sheet was printed, an article occurs to the editor in the “Gentleman's Magazine,” which it seems proper to
* Maitland. Vol.ll.–67.
notice. The writer there states, that “Biddenden is a parish of great extent, as most parishes in the wealdof Kent are;” that this part of the country, is called the weald, “from the growth of largetimber, oak par. ticularly;” that the town of Biddenden is about five miles equi-distant from three several market towns, Cranbrook, Smarden, and Tenterden; and is distant about fifteen miles from Maidstone. On the same authority, is now added that it does not furnish any antique inscriptions, nor does the weald in general yield the inquirer any thing antique or invaluable to repay his search. In the reign of queen Elizabeth, John Mayne, esq. endowed a good house and garden with 201 per annum, for a free grammar school, which owing to the salary being fixed at that amount by the founder, is neither eligible to persons qualified under the regulations, nor is it capable of being increased. The visitation of the school, was formerly in the archbishop of Canterbury, but is so no longer, and the schoolmaster is appointed by the lord. The archbishop is patron of the rectory, which, in the reign of Hen VIII., was valued so high as 35l. The fair here is on the 8th of November. Mr. Urban's correspondent noticing “the two maided-sisters who grew together from the waist downwards,” refers to accounts of similar wonders, and waggishly ends his list by directing to the “Memoirs of Scriblerus, by A Pope,” as an authori corroborative of the apocryphal “Bi denden Maids.”
rolling them up and down, like bowls, upon the ground, or throwing them up, like balls, into the air."
To the Editor of the Every-Day Book. Tideswell, Derbyshire, March 31, 1826. Sir, The pleasure and instruction I have derived from the perusal of your interesting miscellany, induce me to offer to your notice a custom in this neighbourhood denominated Sugar-cupping, which, like similar remnants of the “olden
time,” is gradually running into disuse. Last Sunday, being Easter-day, I walked to the “Dropping Tor,” the rendezvous of the “sugar-cuppers,” but, owing to the extreme inclemency of the weather, no one was there, nor was it, I believe, once visited during the day. From frequent inquiry of the oldest persons in the neighbourhood, I can learn nothing but that, on Easter Sunday, they were used, when children, to go to the “Dropping Tor,” with a cup in one pocket and a quarter of a pound of sugar in the other, and having caught in their cups as much water as was desired from the droppings of the †. they dissolved the sugar in it, and rank it. The natural consequences resulting from the congregation of a quantity of “young men and maidens” followed, and they returned home. I was anxious to discover some jargon repeated by the youthful pilgrims, as an invocation to the saint of the spring, or otherwise; but I could not collect anything of the kind. I conjecture this custom to be peculiar to this part. If you, or any ...”your correspondents, can furnish more satisfactory information respecting it, some of your readers will not regret I have troubled you
with the hint.
Your obedient servant,
Further notice of this usage at “the Peak,” will be acceptable to the editor, who is neither acquainted with the practice nor its origin. At some wells it is customary, on certain days, for persons to strew flowers, or hang garlands on the brink. Accounts of this nature, especially if accompanied by a drawing of the place, are very desirable. We have hitherto had
no water customs, yet springs were very early objects of veneration. These remains of ancient respect will be duly respected when communicated.
EASTER DAY AT Rome.
On this day the pope himself goes in grand procession to the cathedral of St. Peter, and assists at the high mass. The church is lined with the guarda nobile, in their splendid uniforms of gold and scarlet, and nodding plumes of white ostrich feathers, and the Swiss guards, with their polished cuirasses and steel helmets. The great centre aisle is kept clear by a double wall of armed men, for the grand procession, the approach of which is proclaimed by the sound of trumpet from the farther end of the church. Priests advance, loaded with still augmenting magnificence, as t ascend to the higher orders. Cloth of gold, and embroidery of gold and silver, and crimson velvet, and mantles of spotted ermine, and flowing trains, and attendant train-bearers, and mitres and crucifixes glittering with jewels, and priests and patriarchs, and bishops and cardinals, dazzle the eye, and fill the whole length of St. Peter's. Lastly, comes the pope, in his crimson chair of state, borne on the shoulders of twenty palfremieri, arrayed in robes of white, and wearing the tiara, or triple crown of the conjoined Trinity, with a canopy of cloth of silver floating over his head; preceded by two men, carrying enormous fans, composed of large plumes of ostrich feathers, mounted on long gilded wands. He stops to pay his adorations to the miraculous Madonna in her chapel, about half-way up; and this duty, which he never omits, being performed, he is slowly borne past the high altar, liberally giving his benediction with the twirl of the three fingers as he passes.
He is then set down upon a magnificent stool, in front of the altar, on which he kneels, and his crown being taken off, and the cardinals taking off their little red caps, and all kneeling in a row, he assumes the attitude of praying. Having remained a few minutes, he is taken to a chair prepared for him, to the right of the throne. There he reads from a book, and is again taken to the altar, on which his tiara has been placed; and, bareheaded, he repeats—or as, by courtesy, it is called, sings—a small part of the ser
vice, throws up clouds of incense, and is removed to the crimson-canopied throne. High mass is celebrated by a cardinal and two bishops, at which he assists. During the service, the Italians seem to consider it quite as much of a pageant as foreigners, but neither a new nor an interesting one; they either walk about, and talk, or interchange pinches of snuff with each other, exactly as if it had been a place of amusement, until the tinkling of a little bell, which announces the elevation of the host, changes the scene. Every knee is now bent to the earth, and every voice hushed; the reversed arms of the military ring with an instantaneous clang on the marble pavement, as they sink on the ground, ...] all is still as death. This does not last above two minutes till the host is swallowed. Thus begins and ends the only part that bears even the smallest outward aspect of religion. The military now pour out of St. Peter's, and form an extensive ring before its spacious front, behind which the horse guards are drawn up, and an immense number of carriages, filled with splendidly dressed women, and thousands of people on foot, are assembled. Yet the multitude almost shrunk into insignificance in the vast area of the piazza; and neither piety nor curiosity collect sufficient numbers to fill it. The tops of the colonnades all round, however, are thronged with spectators; and it is a curious sight to see a mixture of all ranks and nations,—from the coronetted heads of kings, to the poor cripple who crawls along the pavement, assembled together to await the blessing of their fellow mortal. Not the least picturesque figures among the throng are the contadini, who, in every variety of curious costume, flock in from their distant mountain villages, to receive the blessing of the holy father, and whose bright and eager countenances, shaded by their long dark hair, turn to the balcony where the pope is to appear. At length the two white ostrich-feather fans, the forerunners of his approach, are seen; and he is borne forward on his throne, above the shoulders of the cardinals and bishops, who fill the balcony. After an audible prayer he arises, and, elevating his hands to heaven, invokes a solemn benediction upon the multitude, and the people committed to his charge. Every head uncovers; the soldiers, and many of the spectators, kneel on the pavement to receive the blessing. It is given with im
pressive solemnity, but with little of gesture or parade. Immediately the thundering of cannon from the castle of St. Angelo, and the of bells from St. Peter's, proclaim the joyful tidings to the skies. }. pope is borne out, and the people rise from their knees.”
The “Picture of Greece in 1825," by Messrs. Emerson and Humphreys, and count Pecchio, contains some particulars of the celebration of the Greek church. They say,
“To-day being the festival of Easter, Napoli presented a novel appearance, viz. a clean one. This feast as the most important in the Greek church, is observed with particular rejoicings and respect. Lent having ceased, the ovens were crowded with the preparations for banquetting. Yesterday every street was reeking . the blood of lambs and goats; and to-day, every house was fragrant with odours of pies and baked meats; all the inhabitants, in festival array, were hurrying along to pay their visits and receive their congratulations; every one, as he met his friend, saluted him with a kiss on each side of his face, and repeated the words Xplorros avearm—‘Christ is risen.” The day was spent in rejoicings in every quarter; the guns were fired from the batteries, and every moment the echoes of the Palamede were replying to the incessant reports of the pistols and trophaics of the soldiery. On these occasions, the Greeks (whether from laziness to extract the ball, or for the purpose of making a louder report, I know not,) always discharge their arms with a bullet: frequent accidents are the consequence. To-day, one poor fellow was shot dead in his window, and a second severely wounded by one of these random shots. In the evening, a grand ceremony took place in the square: all the members of the government, after attending divine service in the church of St. George, met opposite the residence of the executive body; the legislative being the most numerous, took their places in a line, and the executive passing along them from right to left, kissing commenced with great vigour, the latter body embracing the former with all fervour and affection. Amongst such an intriguing factious senate as the Greek legislation, it requires little calculation to discern that the greater portion of these salutations were Judas's kisses.”
* Rome in the Nineteenth century.
'The journals of 1824, contain the following extract, from a private letter, dated Tangiers, in Africa:-‘The day after my arrival I was present at the celebration of this country's Easter, a religious ceremony which greatly resembles our Easter, and is so called.—At break of day, twenty salutes of cannon announce the festival. At this signal, the pacha proceeds to a great plain ranged outside the city, where he is received by all the troops of the garrison, ranged under arms. An unfortunate ram is laid upon an altar there; the pacha approaches it, and plunges a knife into its throat; a Jew then seizes the bleeding animal, hoists it on his shoulders, and runs off with it to the mosque. If the animal still lives at the moment he arrives there, which very seldom fails to occur, the year will be a good one: if the contrary happens, great lamentations and groanings are made—the year will be bad. As soon as the victim is dead, a great carnage begins. Bvery Moor sacrifices, according to his means, one or more sheep, and this in the open street; the blood streams down on all sides; men and women imbrue themselves in it as much as they please; they cry, sing, dance, and endeavour to manifest the joy that animates them in a thousand forms. As soon as night appears, the town resounds with discharges of musketry, and it is not till the end of eight days that this charming festival concludes.'
PRophecy CoNCERNING EASTER. For the Every-Day Book.
Notwithstanding the flood of information which has been poured over the country during the last half century, superstition, at once the child and mother of ignorance, still holds no inconsiderable sway over the minds of men. It is true, that the days of ghosts and apparitions are nearly over, but futurity is as tempting as ever, and the seventh son of a seventh son is still potent enough to charm away the money and bewilder the senses of the credulous, and Nixon's and Mother Shipton's prophecies still find believers.
The coincidences by which these legendary predictions are sometimes fulfilled, are often curious. The present year may be said to witness the accomplishment of one. It has been said—
When my Lord falls in my Lady's lap, England beware of some mishap.
Meaning thereby, that when the festival of Easter falls near to Lady-day, (the 25th of March,) this country is threatened with some calamity. In the year 1818, Easter-day happened on the 22d of March, and in the November of that year, queen Charlotte died. In 1826, Easter-day happening on the 26th of March, distress in the commercial world may be regarded as a fulfilment of the prediction. Spanish history affords a curious instance of this kind. It is related, that Peter and John de Carvajal, who were condemned for murder, (A. D. 1312,) on circumstantial evidence, and that very frivolous, to be thrown from the summit of a rock, Ferdinand IV., then king of Spain, could by no means be prevailed upon to grant their pardon. As they were leading to execution, they invoked God to witness their innocence, and appealed to his tribunal, to which they summoned the king to appear in thirty days' time. He laughed at the summons; nevertheless, some days after, he fell sick, and went to a place called Alcaudet to divert himself and recover his health, and shake off the remembrance of the summons if he could. Accordingly, the thirtieth day being come, he found himself much better, and after showing a great deal of mirth and cheerfulness on that occasion with his courtiers, and ridiculing the illusion, retired to rest, but was found dead in his bed the next morning. (See Turquet's general History of Spain 1612, p. 458, cited in Dr. Grey's notes to Hudibras, part iii. canto 1. lines 209, 210.)
The same author (Dr. Grey,) quotes from Dr. James Young, (Sidrophel vapulans, p. 29,) that Cardan, a celebrated astrologer lost his life to save his credit; for having predicted the time of his own death, he starved himself to verify it: or else being sure of his art, he took this to be his fatal day, and by those apprehensions made it so. The prophecy of George Wishart, the Scottish martyr, respecting the death of cardinal Beatoun, is a striking feature in a catalogue of coincidences. In such light may be cited the stories of the predicted death of the duke of Buckingham, in the time of Charles I., that of lord Lyttleton in later days, and many others.
Lord Bacon, who, on many points illuminated the sixteenth with the light of the nineteenth century, after referring in his chapter on prophecies (see his Essays) to the fulfilment of many remarkable fulfilments, delivers his opinion on that point in the following words:—“My judgment is, that they ought all to be despised, and ought to serve but for winter talk by the fireside. Though when I say despised, I mean for belief. That that hath given them grace, and some credit consisteth in these things. 1st. that men mark when they hit, and never when they miss; as they do, also of dreams. 2d. that probable conjectures and obscure traditions many times turn themselves into prophecies: while the nature of man which coveteth divination, thinks it no peril to foretell that, which indeed they do but collect. The 3d. and last (which is the great one) is, that almost all them, being infinite in number, have been impostures, and by idle and crafty brains, merely contrived and feigned after the event passed.”
J. W. H.
The editor is favoured with a hint, which, from respect to the authority whence it proceeds, is communicated below in its own language. To the Editor of the Every-Day Book. Harley street, March 22, 1826. Sir, Before I slip from town for the holidays, let me observe that it may be useful, and more useful perhaps than you imagine, to many of your readers, if you were to mention the earliest day whereon Easter can occur: for, as not only movable feasts, but law terms, and circuits of judges, and the Easter recess of parliament, depend on this festival, it influences a vast portion of public business, and of the every-day concerns of a great number of individuals in the early season of the year. The earliest possible day whereon Easter can happen, in any year, is the 22d of March. It fell on that day in 1818, and cannot happen on that day till the year 2285. The latest possible day whereon Easter can happen, is the 25th of April.
We can have no squabble this year concerning the true time of Easter. The result of the papers on that subject in the first volume of your excellent publication, vindicated the time fixed for its celebration, in this country, upon those principles which infallibly regulate the period.
In common with all I am acquainted with, who have the pleasure of being acquainted with your Every-Day Book, I wish you and your work the largest possible success. I am, &c.
P.S. It occurs to me that you may not be immediately able to authenticate my statement; and, therefore, I subscribe my name for your private satisfaction.
Now, at last, the Easter week is arrived, and the poor have for once in the year the best of it, setting all things, but their own sovereign will, at a wise defiance.” The journeyman who works on Easter Monday should lose his caste, and be sent to the Coventry of mechanics, wherever that may be. In fact, it cannot happen. On Easter Monday ranks change places; Jobson is as good as sir John; the “rude mechanical” is “monarch of all he surveys” from the summit of Greenwich-hill, and when he thinks fit to say “it is our royal pleasure to be drunk" who shall dispute