Imágenes de páginas

Shaftesbury "Byzant."

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 wilh a raw calfs 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 1500J.*

the cart was drawn by mules ornamented with bunches of flowers and ribands; a number of people stuck over with Hovers 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 cerceati, 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 petticoats, and ornaments of flowers and ribands. These sports of Beziers were suspended during the revolution.*

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:

* Hutchins's Dorset. Vol. II.—73.

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


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 put down, with no small portion both of humour and argument. Not 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 bim; 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.Garnck, Reynolds, and Beauclerk g?ve 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 Nortn 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 conslitution 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 nis 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 man.

There is an engraving representing Diogenes at noon-day with his lantern in one hand, and in the other a circular picture frame, which is left vacant, that a purchaser of the print may insert the portrait of the man he delights to honour as the most honest. Hence the vacancy is sometimes supplied by the celebrated John Wilkes, the prophetic Richard Brothers, the polite lord Chesterfield, Churchill, the satirist, Sam House, or Joseph Baretti, oi any other. "Cornelius May," of whose existence, however, there is reason to doubt, would scarcely find a head to grace the frame.


"The Knaverie of the Worlde, tettr forthe in homelie verse, 4y Cornelius Mat/," from "The Seven Starrs of Witte," 1647.

Ah me througboute the worlde

Doth wickednesse abounde! And well I wot on neither hande

Can honestie be founde.

• General Biog. Diet.

The wisest man in Athens

Aboute the citie ran
With a lanthorne in the light of daic

To find an honeste man;

And when at night he sate him downc

To reckon on hia gaines,
He onely founde—alack poore man!

His labour for his paines.

And soe thou now shalt finde

Alle men of alle degree Striving, as if their onely trade

Were that of cheating thee.

Thy friend will bid thee welcome,
His servantes at thy calle—

The dearest friend he has on earthc
Till he has wonne thy alle;

He will play with thee at dice
Till thy golde is in his hande,

He will meete thee at the tennis court
Till he winne alle thy lande.

The brother of thy youth

When ye shared booke and bedde Would cat himself the sugar plums

And leave thee barley bread:

Hut growing up to manhode

His hart is colder grown,
Aske in thy neede for barley bread

And he'll give thee a stone.

The wife whom thou dost blesse

Alack, she is thy curse— A bachelor's an evil state,

But a married man's is worse.

The lawyer at his deske

Good lawe will promise thee

Untill thy very last groat
Is given for his fee.

Thy baker, and thy brewer

Doe wronge thee night and morne; And thy miller, he doth grinde thee

In grinding of thy come.

Thy goldsmith and thy jeweller
Are leagu'd in knavish sorte.

And the elwande of thy tailor
It is an inche too shorte.

Thy cooke hath made thy dish
From the offals on the shelfe,

While fishc and foivle and savourie hcrbcs
Are served to himselfe.

The valet thou dost trust,

Smooth-tongued and placid-faced, Dothe weare thy brilliant's in his cappc

And thou wear'st his of paste.

Alack ! thou canst not finde

Of high or lowe degree
In cott or courte or cabioctt

A man of honestie.

There is not in the worlde,

Northe, sonthe, or easte, or weste, Who would inajntaine a righteous cause

Against his intereste.

Ah me ! it grieves me sore,

And I sorrowe nighte and daie,

To sec how man's arch encmic
Doth leade his soule astraie.


Mean Temperature ... 53 • 22.


The bird-catchers are now peering about the fields and thickets in search of different species of song-birds, for the purpose of netting and training them for sale.

Old bird-fanciers treat the younger ones with disdain, as having corrupicd the rich melodies of the birds, by battling them against each other, in singing matches, for strength of pipe.

For the Every-Day Book.

Written on hearing my Blackbird, while con/wed to my Bed by lllnest.
Bird of the golden beak, thy pensive song

Floats visions of the country to my mind;
And sweet sounds heard the pleasant woods among,

I hear again, while on my bed reclined.
Weaken'd in frame, and harass'd by my kind,

I long for fair-green fields and shady groves,
Where dark-eyed maids their brows with wild flowers bind,

And rosy health with meditation roves.

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


Mean Temperature ... 54 * 57.

The Season. nanny Fishing.

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 seapieces has a very good one of this fishery. There are four principal places near Marseilles where it is carried on, called the madrague; 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 pounds. They are very delicious food, but the flesh is so solid that it seems something between fish and meat; it is <xS firm as sturgeon, but beyond all comparison finer flavoured. They dress this fish in France in a great variety of ways, and always excellent: it makes capital soup, or it is served as a ragout, or plain fried or broiled; pies are made of it, which aie 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 preserving it to keep the whole year round with salt and oil, called thou marine: 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.*

Naturalists' Calendar. Mean Temperature ... 54 • 70.

iWap 8.

"the Furry."
For the Every-Day Book.

On the eighth of May, at Helston, in Corn wall, is held what is called "the Furry." The word is supposed by Mr. Polwhele to have been derived from the old Cornish word/ifr, 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

• HU« Plnfiint.r

[ocr errors]

to the river, where he is sentenced to leap over a wide place, which he of course (ails in attempting, and leaps into the water. A small contribution towards the good cheer of (he day easily compounds for the leap. About nine o'clock the revellers appear before the grammarschool, and demand a holiday for the schoolboys. After which they collect contributions from house to house. They then fade into the country, (fade being an old English word for go,) and, about the middle of the day, return with flowers and oak branches in their hats and caps. From this time they dance hand in hand through the streets, to the sound of the riddle, playing a particular tune, running into every house they pass without opposition. In the afternoon, a select party of the ladies and gentlemen make a progress through the street, and very late in the evening repair to the ball-room. A stranger visiting the town on the eighth of May, would really think the people mad; so apparently wild and thoughtless is the merriment of the day.

There is no doubt of "the Furry" originating from the "Floralia," anciently observed by the Romans on the fourth of the calends of May.*

"Every pot has two handles." This means " that one story's good, till another story's told ;" or, "there is no evil without its advantages."

If it is generally " good" to anticipate festival days in the Every-Day Book, it is an " evil" to be " behind-hand ;" and yet "advantages" have sometimes resulted from it. For instance, the day of "the Furry" at Helston, elapsed before this sheet was sent to press; but a correspondent who was present at the festival on that day in the present year, 1826, sends an account of the manner wherein it is conducted at present; and though the former "story's good," his particular description of the last Furry, is a lively picture of the pleasant manner, wherein it continues to be celebrated: thus is illustrated the ancient saying, that "eveiy pot has two handles."

It would be ill acknowledgment of the annexed letter to abridge it, by omitting its brief notice of the origin of the Furry, already adverted to, and therefore the whole is inserted verbatim.

* Guide to Mount's Bay.

Helston "Furry, or Flora Day." To the Editor of the Every-Day Book.'

Sir,—Having for several years past resided in Cornwall, (from whence I have lately returned,) I beg to inform you of one of their gayest days of amusement, which is regularly kept up in the borough of Helston on the eighth day of May.

It originated from the Roman custom of paying an eaily tribute of respect to the goddest Flora; the garlands of flowers worn on the occasion confirms this opinion. This festival commences at an early hour: the morning is enlivened by the sound of " drum and fife;" and music, harmony, and dance are the sports of "high and low*'—" from morn to night." Some of the oldest townsmen chant some ancient ditties—not very comprehensible, "nor is the melody thereof enchanting."

The hilarity of the day precludes the possibility of doing business; every consideration but mirth, music, and feasting is set at naught. Should any persons be found at work, they are instantly seized, set astride on a pole, and jolted away on men's shoulders, amidst thousands of huzzas, 8cc, and at last sentenced to leap over the river, (which by the by is none of the narrowest,) the result which therefore frequently happens is—they jump info it. The payment of a certain fine towards the expenses of the day saves them from this cooling.

At nine in the morning the mob gathers round the various seminaries, and countless voices demand a holiday for all in them, which is acceded to: a collection from the housekeepers is then commenced towards the general fund. While this is going on, the young folks of both sexes go to the gardens of the neighbourhood, and return at twelve with their heads dressed out with gay flowers, oak branches, Sec. On entering the town they are joined by a band of music; they dance through the streets to the "Flora Tune." In their progress they go through every house and garden they please without distinction; all doors are opened, and, in fact, it is thought much of by the householders to be thus favoured.

The older branch of the population dance in the same manner, for it is to be noticed they have select parties, and at different hours; no two sets dance together, or at the same time. Then follows the gentry, which is really a very pleasing sight on a fine day from the noted respect

« AnteriorContinuar »