« AnteriorContinuar »
ber, are decorated with wreaths and garlands of newly-gathered flowers, disposed in various devices. Sometimes boards are used, which are cut to the figure intended to be represented, and covered with moist clay, into which the stems of the flowers are inserted to preserve their freshness; and they are so arranged as to form a beautiful mosaic work, often tasteful in design, and vivid in colouring: the boards, thus adorned, are so placed in the spring, that the water appears to issue from amongst beds of flowers. On this occasion the villagers put on their best attire, and open their houses to their friends. There is service at the church, where a sermon is preached: afterwards a procession takes place, and the wells are visited in succession: the psalms for the day, the epistle and gospel are read, one at each well, and the whole concludes with a hymn which is sung by the church singers, and accompanied by a band of music. This done, they separate, and the remainder of the day is spent in rural sports and holiday pastimes. -- The custom of well-flowering as it exists at Tissington, is said to be a popish relic; but in whatever way it originated, one would regret to see it discontinued. That it is of great antiquity cannot be disputed; it seems to have existed at different periods of time, in countries far remote from each other. In the earliest ages of poetry and romance, wherever fountains and wells were situated, the common people were
accustomed to honour them with the title of saints. In our own country innumer able instances occur of wells being so denominated.” “Where a spring rises or a river flows,” says Seneca, “ there should we build altars, and offer sacrifices.” At the fountain of Arethusa in Syracuse, of which every reader of poetry and history has often heard, great festivals were celebrated every year." In Roman antiquity the fontiualia were religious feasts, held in honour of the nymphs of wells and fountains; the ceremony consisted in throwing nosegays into fountains, and utting crowns of flowers upon wells. any authorities might be quoted in support of the antiquity of this elegant custom, which had its origin anterior to the introduction of christianity. It was mingled with the rites and ceremonies of the heathens, who were accustomed to worship streams and fountains, and to suppose that the nymphs, whom they imagined the goddesses of the waters, presided over them. Shaw in his “History of the Province of Morray,” says, that “heathen customs were much practised amongst the people there;” and he cites as an instance, “that they performed pilgrimages to wells, and built chapels to fountains.” From this ancient usage, which has been continued through a long succession of ages, and is still in existence at Tissington, arose the practice of sprinkling the Severn and the rivers of Wales with flowers, as alluded to by Dyer in his poem of the Fleece and by Milton in his Comus.
The town of Shaftesbury from its situation on the top of a high hill, is entirely destitute of springs; except at the foot of the hills in St. James's parish, where are two wells, in the possession of private persons. At the foot of Castle-hill were formerly some water-works, to supply the town, their reservoir was on the top of the Butter cross; but the inhabitants have from time immemorial been supplied with water brought on horse's backs, or on people's heads, from three or four large wells, a quarter of a mile below the town in the hamlet of Motcomb, and parish of Gillingham; on which account there is this particular custom yearly observed by ancient agreement, dated 1662, between the lord of the manor of Gillingham, and the mayor and burgesses of Shaftesbury. The mayor is obliged the Monday before Holy Thursday to dress up a prize besom, or byzant, as they call it, somewhat like a May garland in form, with gold and peacock's feathers, and carry it to Enmore Green, half a mile below the town, in Motcomb, as an acknowledgment for the water; together with a raw calf's head, a pair of gloves, a gallon of beer, or ale, and two penny loaves of white wheaten bread, which the steward receives, and carries away to his own use. The ceremony being over, the “byzant” is restored to the mayor, and brought back by one of his officers with great solemnity. This “byzant” is generally so richly adorned with plate and jewels, borrowed from the neighbouring gentry, as to be worth not less than 1500l.”
PRocession of THE CAMEL.
Holy Thursday was formerly a day of great festivity at Beziers, in France, and was celebrated with a variety of little sports.
“The Procession of the Camel” constituted one part of them. A figure representing that animal, with a man in the inside, was made to perform ridiculous tricks. The municipal officers, attended by the companies of the different trades and manufactures, preceded the camel. It was followed by a cart, over which were branches of trees twined into an arbour, filled with people :
the cart was drawn by mules ornamented with bunches of flowers and ribands; a number of people stuck over with flow, ers and little twigs of trees, who were called the “wild men,” followed the cart and closed the procession. After parading about the town all day, towards evening the whole company repaired to the chapel of the Blue Penitents, where it was met by the chapter of the cathedral, who had previously also gone in procession round the town, and then a large quantity of bread was given away by the chapter among the poor.
Another part of the ceremonies of the day was, that the peasants from the country assembled in the streets with crooks in their hands, and ranging themselves in long files on each side, made mock skirmishes with their crooks, aiming strokes at each other, and parrying them with great dexterity. Each of these skirmishes ended with a dance to the fife and tabourine. The inhabitants threw sugar-plums and dried fruits at each other from their windows, or as they passed in the streets.
The day usually concluded by a favourite dance among the young men and women, called la danse des treilles. Every dancer carried a cerceau, as it is called, that is a half hoop, twined with vine branches; and ranging themselves in long files on each side of the street, formed different groups. The young men were all dressed in white jackets and trowsers, and the young women in white jackets with short o and ornaments of flowers and ribands. These sports of Beziers were suspended during the revolution.”
* Hutchins's Dorset. Vol. II.-73.
* Miss Plumptre.
It should be observed of Joseph Baretti, who died on this day in the year 1789, that he was the friend and associate of Johnson, who introduced him to the Thrale family, and whom he assisted in the compilation of his “Dictionary of the
English Language.” Baretti was a native of Turin; he had received a good education, and inherited paternal property, which in his youth he Soon gambled away, and resorted to a livelihood by teaching Italian to some English gentlemen at Venice; whence he repaired to England, and distinguished himself as a teacher of Italian. By his employment under Dr. Johnson, he acquired such a knowledge of our language as to be enabled to compile the “ Italian and English Dictionary,” which is still in use. He then revisited his native country, and after an absence of six years returned through Spain and Portugal, and in 1768 published “An Account of the Manners and Customs of Italy,” in reply to some querulous strictures on that country in the “Letters from Italy” by surgeon Sharp, which Baretti's book effectually ut down, with no small portion both of umour and argument. ot long afterwards, he was accosted in the Haymarket by a woman, whom he repulsed with a degree of roughness which was resented by her male confederates, and in the scuffle, he struck one of them with a French pocket desert knife. On this, the man pursued and collared him; when Baretti, still more alarmed, stabbed him repeatedly with the knife, of which wounds he died on the following day. He was immediately taken into custody, and tried for murder at the Old Bailey, when Johnson, Burke, Goldsmith,Garrick, Reynolds, and Beauclerk gave testimony to his good character; and although he did not escape censure for his too ready resort to a knife, he was acquitted. Domesticated in the Thrale family, he accompanied them and Dr. Johnson to Paris, but in a fit of unreasonable disgust, quitted them the next year; and in the latter part of his life was harassed with pecuniary difficulties, which were very little alleviated by his honorary post of foreign secretary to the Royal Academy, and an ill-paid pension of eighty pounds per annum under the North administration. Among other works he published one with the singular title of “Tolondron: Speeches to John Bowles about his edition of Don Quixote,
together with some account of Spanish Literature.” This was his last production; his constitution was broken by uneasiness of mind and frequent attacks of the gout, and he died in May, 1789. .
Baretti was rough and cynical in appearance, yet a pleasant companion; and of his powers in conversation Johnson thought very highly.
He communicated several of Dr. Johnson's letters to the “European Magazine,” and intended to publish several more ; but on his decease his papers fell into the hands of ignorant executors, who barbarously committed them to the flames.”
It is remarkable that with Johnson's scrupulous attachment to the doctrines and ceremonies of the church of England, he was sincerely attached to Baretti, whose notions on religious matters widely differed from the opinions of “the great lexicographer." Johnson seems to have been won by his friend's love of literature and independence of character. Baretti often refused pecuniary aid when it was greatly needed by his circumstances: his morals were pure, and his conduct, except in the unhappy instance which placed his life in jeopardy, was uniformly correct. He died with the reputation of an honest Iman.
written on hearing my Blackbird, while confined to my Bed by Illness.
Bird of the golden beak, thy pensive song
And sweet sounds heard the pleasant woods among,
Weaken'd in frame, and harass'd by my kind,
where dark-eyed maids their brows with wild flowers bind,
And rosy health with meditation roves.
The Mediterranean produces many sorts of fish unknown to us, the thunny among others. The manner in which these fish are caught is somewhat curious; it is a sort of hunting at sea. The nets are extended in the water so as to close upon the fish when they come within reach of them, and then the boats chase them to that part where they are taken: they have great force in their tails, so that much caution is required in getting them aboard. Vernet among his other seaieces has a very good one of this fishery. ere are four principal places near Marseilles where it is carried on, called the madragues, which are rented out to the fishers, by the town, at a considerable advantage. When Louis XIII. visited Marseilles in 1662, he was invited to a thunny fishing at the principal madrague of Morgion, and found the diversion so much to his taste, that he often said it was the pleasantest day he had spent in his whole progress through the south. The thunnies come in such shoals, that in the height of the season, that is, in the months of May and June, from five to six hundred are sometimes taken in a day at one madrague only : they commonly weigh from about ten to twenty or twentyfive pounds each, but they have been known to weigh even as much as fifty ounds. They are very delicious food, ut the flesh is so solid that it seems something between fish and meat; it is as firm as sturgeon, but beyond all comF. finer flavoured. They dress this h in France in a great variety of ways, and always excellent: it makes capital soup, or it is served as a ragout, or lain fried or broiled; pies are made of it, which are so celebrated as to be sent
all over France; they will keep good for six weeks or two months. There is also a way of 3. it to keep the whole year round with salt and oil, called than mariné: this is eaten cold, as we eat pickled salmon, and is delicious. Besides the great season in May and June, they are caught in considerable numbers in the autumn, about November, which is the great season for making the pies. A large quantity of them were sent to Paris against Buonaparte's coronation. Stragglers of these fish are occasionally taken the whole year round. They are an ugly fish to the eye. The palamede, though much smaller than the thunny, seems so much of the same nature that some persons have supposed it only the young thunny; but naturalists say that it is a distinct species of fish. It is mentioned by Gibbon in his description of Constantinople, as, at the time of the foundation of that city, the most, celebrated among the variety of excellent fish taken in the Propontis."
On the eighth of May, at Helston, in Cornwall, is held what is called “the Furry." The word is supposed by Mr. Polwhele to have been derived from the old Cornish word fer, a fair or jubilee. The morning is ushered in by the music of drums and kettles, and other accompaniments of a song, a great part of which is inserted in Mr. Polwhele's history, where this circumstance is noticed. So strict is the observance of this day as a general holiday, that should any person be found at work, he is instantly seized, set astride on a pole, and hurried on men's shoulders
* Miss Plumptre.