Imágenes de páginas
PDF

the proposition? Not I, for one. When our English mechanics accuse their betters of oppressing them, the said betters should reverse the old appeal, and refer from Philip sober to ...? drunk; and then nothing more could be said. But now, they have no betters, even in their own notion of the matter. And in the name of all that is transitory, envy them not their brief supremacyl o, will be over before the end of the week, and they will be as eager to return to their labour as they now are to escape from it; for the only thing that an Englishman, whether ; or low, cannot endure patiently for a week together, is, unmingled amusement. At this time, however, he is determined to try. Accordingly, on Easter Monday all the narrow lanes and blind alleys of our metropolis pour forth their dingy denizens into the suburban fields and villages, in search of the said amusement, which is plentifully provided for them by another class, even less enviable than the one on whose patronage they depend; for of all callings, the most melancholy is that of purveyor of pleasure to the poor. During the Monday our determined holiday-maker, as in duty bound, contrives, by the aid of a little or not a little artificial stimulus, to be happy in a tolerably exemplary manner. On the Tuesday, he fancies himself happy to-day, because he felt himself so yesterday. On the Wednesday he cannot tell what has come to him, but every ten minutes he wishes himself at home, where he never goes but to sleep. On Thursday he finds out the secret, that he is heartily sick of doing nothing; but is ashamed to confess it; and then what is the use of going to work before his money is spent On Friday he swears that he is a fool for throwing away the greatest part of his uarter's savings without having any thing to show for it, and gets gloriously drunk with the rest to prove his words; passing the pleasantest night of all the week in a watchhouse. And on Saturday, after thanking “his worship” for his good advice, of which he does not remember a word, he comes to the wise determination, that, after all, there is nothing like working all day long in silence, and at night spending his earnings and his breath in beer and politics So much for the Easter week of a London holiday-maker. But there is a sport belonging to

Easter Monday which is not confined to the lower classes, and which fun forbid that I should pass over silently. If the reader has not, during his boyhood, performed the exploit of riding to the turnout of the stag on Epping-forest—following the hounds all day long at a respect. ful distance—returning home in the evening with the loss of nothing but his hat, his hunting whip, and his horse, not to mention a portion of his nether person —and finishing the day by joining the lady mayoress's ball at the Mansionhouse; if the reader has not done all this when a boy, I will not tantalize him by expatiating on the superiority of those who have. And if he has done it, I need not tell him that he has no cause to envy his friend who escaped with a flesh wound from the fight of Waterloo; for there is not a pin to choose between them.

EPPING Hunt.

In 1226, king Henry III. confirmed to the citizens of London, free warren, or liberty to hunt a circuit about their city, in the warren of Staines, &c.; and in ancient times the lord mayor, aldermen, and corporation, attended by a due number of their constituents, availed themselves of this right of chace “in solemn guise.” From newspaper reports, it appears that the office of “common hunt,” attached to the mayoralty, is in danger of desuetude. The Epping hunt seems to have lost the lord mayor and his brethren in their corporate capacity, and the annual sport to have become a farcical show.

A description of the Epping hunt of Easter Monday, 1826, by one “Simon Youngbuck,” in the Morning Herald, is the latest report, if it be not the truest; but of that the editor of the Every-Day Book cannot judge, for he was not there to see: he contents himself with picking out the points; should anyone be dissatisfied with the “hunting of that day,” as it will be here presented, he has only to sit down, in good earnest, to a plain matter-of-fact detail of all the circumstances from his own knowledge, accompanied by such citations as will show the origin and former state of the usage, and such a detail, so accompanied, will be inserted—

“For want of a better this must do.”

On the authority aforesaid, and that, without the introduction of any term not in the Herald, be it known then, that before, and at the commencement of the hunt aforesaid, it was a cold, dry, and

dusty morning, and that the huntsmen of the east were all abroad by nine o'clock, trotting, fair and softly, down the road, on great nine-hand skyscrapers, nimble daisycutting nags, flowing-tailed chargers, and Ponies no bigger than the learned one at Astley's; some were in job-coaches, at two guineas a-day; some in three-bodied nondescripts, some in gigs, some in cabs, some in drags, some in short stages, and some in long stages; while some on no stages at all, footed the road, smothered by dust driven by a black, bleak northeaster full in the teeth. Every gentleman was arrayed after his own particular taste, in blue, brown, or black—in dress-coats, long coats, short coats, frock coats, great coats, and no-coats;–in drab-slacks and slippers;–in gray-tights, and blackspurred Wellingtons;–in nankeen bombballoons;–in city-white cotton-cord unmentionables, with jockey toppers, and in Russian-drill down-belows, as a memento of the late czar. The ladies all wore a goose-skin under-dress, in compliment to the north-easter. At that far-famed spot, the brow above Fairmead bottom, by twelve o'clock, there were not less than three thousand merry lieges then and there assembled. It was a beautiful set-out. Fair dames “in purple. and in pall,” reposed in vehicles of all sorts, sizes, and conditions, whilst seven or eight hundred mounted members of the hunt wound in and out “in restless ectasy,” chatting and laughing with the fair, sometimes rising in their stirrups to look out for the long-coming cart of the stag, “whilst, with off heel assiduously aside,” they “provoked the caper which they seemed to hide.” The green-sward was covered with ever-moving crowds on foot, and the pollard oaks which skirt the bottom on either side were filled with men aud hoys. But where the deuce is the stag all this while? One o'clock, and no stag. Two o'clock, and no stag!—a circumstance easily accounted for by those who are in the secret, and the secret is this. There are buttocks of boiled beef and fat hams, and beer and brandy in abundance, at the Roebuck public-house low down in the forest; if ditto at the Baldfaced Stag, on the top of the hill; and ditto at the Coach and Horses, at Woodford Wells; and ditto at the Castle, at Woodford; and ditto at the Eagle, at Snaresbrook; and if the stag had been brought out before the beef, beer, bacon, and brandy, were

eaten and drank, where would have been the use of providing so many good things: So they carted the stag from public-house to public-house, and showed him at threepence a head to those ladies and gentlemen who never saw such a thing before; and the showing and carting induced a consumption of eatables and drinkables, an achievement which was helped by a band of music in every house, playing hungry tunes, to help the appetite; and then, when the eatables and drinkables were gone, and paid for, they turned out the stag. Precisely at half-past two o'clock, the stag-cart was seen coming over the hill by the Baldfaced Stag, and hundreds of horsemen and gig-men rushed gallantly forward to meet and escort it to the top of Fairmead bottom, amidst such whooping and hallooing, as made all the forest echo again; and would have done Carl Maria Von Weber's heart good to hear. And then, when the cart stopped and was turned tail about, the horsemen drew up in long lines, forming an avenue wide enough for the stag to run down. For a moment, all was deep, silent, breathless i. and the doors of the cart were thrown open, and out popped a strappin #. red "...o. as a ...; with a chaplet of flowers round his neck, a girth of divers coloured ribbons, and a long blue and pink streamer depending from the summit of his branching horns. He was received, on his alighting, with a shout that seemed to shake heaven's concave, and took it very graciously, looking round him with great dignity as he stalked slowly and delicately forward, down the avenue prepared for him; and occasionally shrinking from side to side, as some supervalorous cockney made a cut at him with his whip. Presently, he caught a glimpse of the hounds and the huntsmen, waiting for him at the bottom, and in an instant off he bounded, sideways, through the rank, knocking down and trampling all who crowded the path he chose to take; and dashing at once into the cover, he was ought of sight before a man could say “Jack Robinson 1" Then might be seen, gentlemen running about without their horses, and horses galloping about without their gentlemen; and hats out of number brushed off their owners' heads by the rude branches of the trees; and every body asking which way the stag was gone, and nobody knowing anything about him; and ladies beseeching gentlemen not to

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

The Minervalia was a Roman festival in March, commencing on the 19th of the month, and lasting for five days. The first day was spent in devotions to the goddess; the rest in offering sacrifices, seeing the gladiators fight, acting tragedies, and reciting witticisms for prizes. It conferred a vacation on scholars who now, carried schooling money, or presents, called Minerval, to their masters.

According to Cicero there were five Minervas.

1. Minerva, the mother of Apollo.

2. Minerva, the offspring of the Nile, of whom there was a statue with this inscription:—“I am all that was, is, and is to come; and my veil no mortal hath yet removed.”

3. Minerva, who sprung armed from Jupiter's brain.

4. Minerva, the daughter of Jupiter and Corypha, whose father Oceanus invented four-wheeled chariots. 5. Minerva, the daughter of Pallantis, who fled from her father, and is, therefore, represented with wings on her feet, in the same manner as Mercury. The second Minerva, of Egypt, is imagined to have been the most ancient. The Phoenicians also had a Minerva, the daughter of Saturn, and the inventress of arts and arms. From one of these two, the Greeks derived their Minerva. Minerva was worshipped by the Athenians before the age of Cecrops, in whose time Athens was founded, and its name taken from Minerva, whom the Greek called 'A6#ym. It was proposed to call the city either by her name or that of Neptune, and as each had partizans, and the women had votes equal to the men,

[graphic]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

He leaves the features he contemplates, enters into the mind, becomes joint tenant of its hereditaments and appurtenances with the owner, and describes its secret chambers and closets. This faculty obtained lord Chesterfield his fame, and enabled him to persuade the judgment; but he never succeeded by his voice or }. in raising the passions, like Mr. Matthews, who, in that respect, is above the nobleman. The cause of this superiority is, that Mr. Matthews is the creature of feeling—of excitation and depression. This assertion is made without the slightest personal knowledge or even sight of him off the stage; it is grounded on a generalized view of some points in human nature. If Mr. Matthews were not the slave of temperament, he never could have pictured the Frenchman at the Post Office, nor the gaming Yorkshireman. These are prominences seized by his whole audience, on whom, however, his most delicate touches of character are lost. His high finish of the Irish beggar woman with her “poor child,” was never detected by the laughers at their trading duett of “Sweet Home!” The exquisite pathos of the crathur's story was lost. To please a large assemblage the points must be broad. Mr. Matthews's countenance of his host drawing the cork is an excellence that discovers itself, and the entire affair of the dinner is “pleasure made easy” to the meanest capacity. The spouting child who sings the “Bacchanal Song” in “Der Freischütz” from whence the engraving is taken, is another “palpable hit,” but amazingly increased in force to some of the many who heard it sung by Phillips. The “tipsy toss” of that actor's head, his rollocking look, his o in its chorus, and the altogetherness of his style in that single song, were worth the entirety of the drama—yet he was seldom encored. To conclude with Mr. Matthews, it is merely requisite to affirm that his “At Home” in the year 1826, evinces rarer talent than the merit of a higher order which he unquestionably possesses. He is an adept at adaptation beyond compeer.

[graphic]
[blocks in formation]

* Blount.

The people who attend it call at every o: for the purpose of begging iquor for its thirsty attendants, who are always numerous. During its progress the figure is shot at from all parts. When the journey is finished, it is tied to the market cross, and the shooting is continued till it is set on fire, and falls to the ground. The populace then commence tearing the effigy in jo. trampling it in mud and water, and throwing it in every direction. This riot and confusion are increased by help of a reservoir of water being let off, which runs down the streets, and not unfrequently persons obtain large quantities of hay, rags, &c. independent of that which falls from the effigy. The greatest heroes at this time are of the coarsest nature. The origin of this custom is of so ancient a nature that it admits of no real explanation: some assert that it is intended as a mark of respect to an ancient family —others deem it a disrespect. Dr. Hibbert considers it to have the same meaning as the gool-riding in Scotland, established for the purpose of exterminating weed from corn, on pain of forfeiting a wether sheep for every stock of gool found growing in a farmer's corn. Gool is the yellow flower called the corn Marygold. It is further supposed, that this custom originated with one of the Assheton's, who possessed a considerable landed property in this part of Lancashire. He was vicechancellor to Henry VI., who exercised great severity on his own lands, and established the gool or guld riding. He is said to have made his appearance on Easter Monday, clad in black armour, and on horseback, followed by a numerous train for the purpose of claiming the alties arising from the neglect of armers clearing their corn of the “carr gulds.” The tenants looked upon this visit with horror, and tradition has still perpetuated the prayer that was offered for a deliverance from his power:“Sweet Jesu, for thy mercy's sake, And for thy bitter passion; Save us from the axe of the Tower, And from Sir Ralph of Assheton. It is alleged that, on one of his visits on Easter Monday, he was shot as he was riding down the principal street, and that the tenants took no trouble to find out the murderer, but entered into a subscription, the interest of which was to make an effigy of disgrace to his memory. At the present day, however, the origin is never

« AnteriorContinuar »