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thought of. The money is now derived from publicans whose interest it is to keep up the custom. An old steel helmet was used some years ago, but it is now no more; a tin one is used instead.
This custom is applied to another purpose. The occupation of the last couple married in the old year are represented on the effigy. If a tailor, the shears hang dangling by his side; if a draper, the cloth yard, and so on. The effigy then at the usual time visits the happy couple's door, and unless the bearers are fed in a handsome manner, the dividing gentlemen are not easily got rid of. Some authors state that it is the first couple in the new year; but this is incorrect, as there is always great pressing for marrying on new year's day, in order to be sufficiently early in the year.
Such is the custom of Blake Lad Monday —or Riding the Black Lad, a custom which thousands annually witness, and numbers come from great distances to see. . It is the most thronged, and the most foolish, day the Ashtonians can boast of.
C. G. M. R. C. S. E.
It is observed by the historian of “Manchester and Salford,” that the most prevalent of several traditions, as to the origin of this custom, is, that it is kept up to perpetuate the disgraceful actions of sir o Ashton, who in the year 1483, as vice-constable of the kingdom, exercised great severity in this part of the country. From a sum issued out of the court to de
fray the expense of the effigy, and from a
suit of armour, which till of late it usually rode in, together with other traditional particulars, there is another account of the custom. According to this, in the reign of Edward III., at the battle of Neville's Cross, near Durham, his queen, with the earl of Northumberland as general, gained a complete victory over the Scots, under David, king of Scotland, and in this battle one Thomas Ashton of Ashton-underLyne, of whom no other particulars are known, served in the queen's army, rode through the ranks of the enemy, and bore away the royal standard from the Scottish king's tent. For this act of heroism, Edward III. knighted him; he became sir Thomas Ashton, of Ashton-under-Lyne; and to commemorate his valour, he instituted the custom above described, and left ten shillings yearly (since reduced to five) to support it, with his own suit of black
velvet, and a coat of mail, the nelmet of which yet remains.” It will be observed in our correspondent's account, that the helmet has at last disappeared.
William Conway, who cried “hard metal spoons to sell or change,” is mentioned by Mr. J. T. Smith, as “a man whose c tants of London and its environs;” but since Mr. Smith wrote, the “cry” of Conway has ceased from the metropolis, and from the remembrance of all, save a few surviving observers of the manners in humble life that give character to the times. He is noticed here because he introduces another individual connected with the history of the season. Adopting Mr. Smith's language, we must speak of Conway as though his “cry” were still with us. “This industrious man, who has eleven walks in and about London, never had a day's illness, nor has once slept out of his own bed; and let the weather be what it may, he trudges on, and only takes his rest on Sundays. He walks, on an average, twenty-five miles a day; and this he has done for nearly forty-four years. His shoes are made .rom old boots, and a pair will last him about six weeks. In his walks he has frequently found small pieces of money, but never more than a one pound note. He recollects a windmill standing near Moorfields, and well remembers Old Vinegar.” Without this notice of Conway, we should not have known “Old Vinegar,” who made the rings for the boxers in Moorfields, beating the shins of the spectators, and who, after he had arranged the circle, would o “mind your pockets all round.”. He provided sticks for the cudgel players, whose sports commenced on Easter Monday. At that time the “Bridewell boys” joined in the pastime, and enlivened the i. by their skill in athletic exercises.
WETTING THE BLock. For the Every-Day Book.
The first Monday in March being the time when shoemakers in the country cease from working by candlelight, it
* Aikin’s Manchester. * Smith's Ancient Topography of London, 1815, 4to.
is well-known to the inhabi
used to he customary for them to meet together in the evening for the purpose of wetting the block. On these occasions the master either provided a supper for his men, or made them a present of money or drink; the rest of the expense was defrayed by subscriptions among themselves, and sometimes by donations from customers. After the supper was ended, the block candlestick was placed in the midst, the shop candle was lighted, and all the glasses being filled, the oldest hand in the shop poured the contents of his glass over the candle to extinguish it: the rest then drank the contents of theirs standing, and gave three cheers. The meeting was usually kept to a late hour.
This account of the custom is from personal observation, made many years ago, in various parts of Hampshire, Berkshire, and the adjoining counties. It is now growing into disuse, which I think is not to be regretted; for, as it is mostly a very drunken usage, the sooner it is sobered, or becomes altogether obsolete the better.
A Shoem AKER.
Formerly, “in the Easter holidays, was the Clarke's-ale for his private benefit, and the solace of the neighbourhood.” Our ancestors were abundant drinkers; they had their “bride-ales,” church-ales,” and other sort of ales, and their feats of potation were so great as to be surprising to their posterity; the remainder of whom, in good time, shall be more generally informed of these regular drinking bouts. “ Easter-ale” was not always over with Easter week. Excessive fasting begat excessive feasting, and there was no feast in old times without excessive drinking. A morning head-ache from the contents of the tankard was cured by “a hair of the same dog,”—a phrase.well understood by hard-drinkers, signifying that madness from drinking was to be cured by the madness of drinking again. It is in common use with drinkers of punch.
There are frequently mornings in March, when a lover of nature may enjoy, in a stroll, sensations not to be exceeded, or, perhaps, equalled by any thing which the full glory of summer can awaken :mornings, which tempt us to cast the memory of winter, or the fear of its recurrence out of our thoughts. The air is mild and balmy, with, now and then, a
however, they are to be seen in all their glory—blue and white—modestly peering through their thickly clustering leaves. The lark is carolling in the blue fields of air; the blackbird and thrush are again shouting and replying to each other from the tops of the highest trees. As you pass cottages, they have caught the happy infection. There are windows thrown open, and doors standing a-jar. The inhabitants are in their gardens, some cleaning away rubbish, some turning up the light and fresh-smelling soil amongst the tufts of snowdrops and rows of glowing yellow crocuses, which every where abound; and the children, ten to one, are busy peeping into the first bird's-nest of the season—the hedge-sparrow's, with its four blue eggs, snugly, but unwisely, built in the pile of old pea-rods. In the fields the labourers are plashing and trimming the hedges, and in all directions are teams at plough. You smell the wholesome, and we may truly say, aromatic soil, as it is turned up to the sun, brown and rich, the whole country over It is delightful as you pass along deep hollow lanes, or are hidden in copses, to hear the tinkling gears of the horses, and the clear voices of the lads
calling to them. It is not less pleasant to catch the busy caw of the rookery, and the first meek cry of the young lambs. The hares are hopping about the fields, the excitement othe season overcoming their habitual timidity. The bees are revelling in the yellow catkins of the sallow. The woods, though yet unadorned with their leafy garniture, are beautiful to look on. They seem flushed with life. Their boughs are of a clear and gloss lead colour, and the tree-tops are . with the vigorous hues of brown, red, and purple; and if you plunge into their solitudes, there are symptoms of revivification under your feet, the springing mercury, and green blades of the blue-bells— and perhaps, above you, the early nest of the missel-thrush perched between the boughs of a young oak, to tinge your thoughts with the anticipation of summer. These are mornings not to be neglected by the lover of nature; and if not neglected, then, not to be forgotten, for they will stir the springs of memory, and make us live over again times and seasons, in which we cannot, for the pleasure and the purity of our spirits, live too much. Nottingham. W. II.
NATURALists' cALEND An. Mean Temperature . . . 45 - 12.
#arth 30. Kitty FISHER.
On the 30th of March, 1759, this celebrated female issued a singular advertisement through the “Public Advertiser,” which shows her sensitiveness to public opinion. She afterwards became duchess of Bolton.
O ERR is a blemish entailed upon mortality, and indiscretion seldom or never escapes without censure, the more heavy, as the character is more remarkable; and doubled, nay trebled, by the world, if that character is marked by success: then malice shoots against it all her stings, and the snakes of envy are let loose. To the humane, and generous heart then must the injured appeal, and certain relief will be found lin impartial honour. Miss Fisher is forced to sue to that jurisdiction to protect her from the baseness of little scribblers, and scurvy malevolence. She has been abused
in public papers, exposed in print shops, Museum.” At its date, which was long oto wind up the whole, some wretches, before “the troubles of England,” wheremean, ignorant, and venal, would impose in he bore a distinguished part, it upon the public by daring to publish her appears that he was absorbed by memoirs. She hopes to prevent the suc- constant avocation, and attention to the cess of their endeavours, by declaring business of others. The letter has been that nothing of that sort has the slightest obligingly transcribed and communicated foundation in truth. by our kind correspondent, T.A. It is
C. Fisher. curious from its style and sentiments, and is here printed, because it has not before been Joo. The commencing
NATURALISTS' cALEN DAR.
- and concluding words are given facMean Temperature . . . 44 67. simile, from the original. It is addressed thus, Th 31. To my honoured and #arti) deare friend Sr. John HAMPDEN. John Elliott at
his lodging in
This celebrated man wrote a letter to
sir John Elliott, on this day, in the year
Tis well for mee that letters cannot blush, else you would easily reade mee guilty. I am ashamed of so long a silence and know not how to excuse it, for as nothing but businesse can speake for mee, of wet kinde I have many advocates, so can I not tell, how to all, any businesse greater than holding an affectionate correspondence with, so excellent a friend. My only confidence is I pleade at a barr of lone, where absolutions are much more frequent then censures. Sure I ame that conscience of neglect doth not accuse mee; though euidence of fact doth. I would add more but y" entertainment of a straunger friend calls upon mee, and one other unsuitable occasion hold mee excused: therefore, deare friend, and if you vouchsafe mee a letter, lett mee begg of you to teach mee some thrift of time; that I may imploy more in yo' service who will ever bee
Hampd. Command my service to
We may now see the great luminary shake off dull sloth,” and set our faces
to be greeted by his, at his rising, in the open air. Lying a bed is a sad destroyer of health, and getting up early a vast improver of time. It is an old and a true saying, that “an hour in the morning before breakfast, is worth two all the rest of the day.”
In “The Examiner” of the 31st of March, 1822, there is the following pleasant little story.
The WonderFUL PhysiciaN.
One morning at daybreak a father came into his son's bedchamber, and told him that a wonderful stranger was to be seen. “You are sick,” said he, “and fond of great shows. Here are no quack-doctors now, nor keeping of beds. A remarkable being is announced all over the town, who not only heals the sick, but makes the very grass grow; and what is more, he is to rise out of the sea.” The boy, though he was of a lazy habit, and did not like to be waked, jumped up at hearing of such an extraordinary exhibition, and hastened with his father to the door of the house, which stood upon the seashore. “There,” said the father, pointing to the sun, which at that moment sprung out of the ocean like a golden world, “there, foolish boy, you who get me so many expenses with your lazy diseases, and yourself into so many troubles, behold at last a remedy, cheap, certain, and delightful. Behold at last a physician, who has only to look in your face every morning at this same hour, and you will be surely well.”
PRovincIAL MEDICAL PRAGTICE.
Country people who are unusually plain in notion, and straight forward in conduct, frequently commit the care of their health to very odd sort of practitioners.
A late celebrated empiric, in Yorkshire, called the Whitworth Doctor, was of so great fame as to have the honour of attending the brother of lord Thurlow. The name of this doctor was Taylor: he and his brother were farriers by profession, and to the last, if both a twolegged and a four-legged patient were presented at the same time, the doctor always preferred the four-legged one. Their practice was immense, as may be well imagined from the orders they gave the druggist; they dealt principally with
Ewbank and Wallis, of York, and a ton of Glauber's salt, with other articles in proportion, was their usual order. On a Sunday morning the doctors used to bleed gratis. The patients, often to the number of an hundred, were seated on benches round a room, where troughs were placed to receive the blood. One of the doctors then went and tied up the arm of each patient, and was immediately followed by the other who opened the vein. Such a Scene is easier conceived than described. From their medical practice, the nice formality of scales and weights was banished; all was “rule of thumb.” An example of their practice may elucidate their claim to celebrity: being sent for to a patient who was in the last stage of a consumption, the learned doctor prescribed a leg of mutton to be boiled secundum artem, into very strong broth, a quart of which was to be taken at proper intervals: what might have been its success is not to be related, as the patient died before the first dose was got down. As bone-setters they were remarkably skilful, and, o; to their real merit in this, and the cheapness of their medicines, they were indebted for their great local fame.
The “Public Ledger” of the 31st of
March, 1825, contains
A o ublished in the year 1703, has the following strange title:— “The deformity of sin cured, a sermon, F. at St. Michael's, Crooked Lane,
efore the Prince of Orange; by the Rev. James Crookshanks. Sold by Matthew Dowton, at the Crooked Billet, near Sipplegate, and by all other Booksellers.” The words of the text are, “Every crooked path shall be made straight.” The Prince before whom it was preached was deformed in his person.
A SEAsonABLE EPITAPH on the late J. C. MARch, Esq.
Death seemed so envious of my clay,
NATURALISTS' cALENDAR. Mean Temperature ... 44 ° 22.