Immagini della pagina
PDF

heard his step) but I was frightened, and could not help speaking,which broke the charm. I likewise stuck up two Midsummer Men, one for myself and one for him. Now if his had died away, we should never have come together, but I assure you his blowed and turned to mine. Our maid Betty tells me, that if I go backwards, without speaking a word, into the garden upon Midsummer eve, and gather a rose, and

keep it in a clean sheet of paper, without looking at it till Christmas-day, it will be as fresh as in June; and if I then stick it in my bosom, he that is to be my husband will come and take it out. My own sister Hetty, who died just before Christmas, stood in the church porch last Midsummer eve, to see all that were to die that year in our parish ; and she saw her own apparition.’

Gay, in one of his pastorals, says—

At eve last Midsummer no sleep I sought,
But to the field a bag of hemp-seed brought:
I scattered round the seed on every side,
And three times, in a trembling accent cried :-
“This hemp-seed with my virgin hand I sow,
Who shall my true love be, the crop shall mow.”
I straight looked back, and, if my eyes speak truth,

With his keen scythe behind me came the youth.

It is also a popular superstition that any unmarried woman fasting on Midsummer eve, and at midnight laying a clean cloth, with bread, cheese, and ale, and sitting down as if going to eat, the street-door being left open, the person whom she is afterwards to marry will come into the room and drink to her by bowing ; and after filling the glass will leave it on the table, and, making another bow, retire."

So also the ignorant believe that any person fasting on Midsummer eve, and sitting in the church porch, will, at midnight, see the spirits of the persons of that parish who will die that year, come and knock at the church door, in the order and succession in which they will die.

In the “Cottage Girl,” before referred to, the gathering the rose on Midsummer eve and wearing it, is noticed as one of the modes by which a lass seeks to divine the sincerity of her suitor's vows:—

+ The moss-rose that, at fall of dew, (Ere Eve its duskier curtain drew,) Was freshly gather'd from its stem, She values as the ruby gem ; And, guarded from the piercing air, With all an anxious lover's care, She bids it, for her shepherd's sake, Await the new-year's frolic wake— When, faded, in its alter'd hue She reads—the rustic is untrue ! But, if it leaves the crimson paint, Her sick'ning hopes no longer faint. The rose upon her bosom worn, She meets him at the peep of morn; And lo! her lips with kisses prest, He plucks it from her panting breast.

In “Time's Telescope,” there is cited the following literal version of a beautiful ballad which has been sung for many centuries by the maidens, on the banks of the Guadalquivir in Spain, when they go forth to gather flowers on the morning of the festival of St John the baptist :—

Spanish Ballad.

Come forth, come forth, my maidens, 'tis the day of good St. John,
It is the Baptist's morning that breaks the hills upon ;
And let us all go forth together, while the blessed day is new,
To dress with flowers the snow-white wether, ere the sun has dried the dew.

Come forth, come forth, &c.

Come forth, come forth, my maidens, the hedgerows all are green,
And the little birds are singing the opening leaves between ;
And let us all go forth together, to gather trefoil by the stream,
Ere the face of Guadalquivir glows beneath the strengthening beam.

Come, forth, come forth, &c.

Come forth, come forth, my maidens, and slumber not away
The blessed, blessed morning of John the Baptist's day;
There's trefoil ou the meadow, and lilies on the lee,
And hawthorn blossoms on the bush, which you must pluck with me.

[merged small][ocr errors]

* Grose

Come forth, come forth, my maidens, the air is calm and cool,
And the violet blue far down ye’ll view, reflected in the pool;
The violets and the roses, and the jasmines all together,
We'll bind in garlands on the brow of the strong and lovely wether.

Come forth, come forth, &c.

Come forth, come forth, my maidens, we'll gather myrtle boughs,
Aud we all shall learn, from the dews of the fern, if our lads will keep their vows:
If the wether be still, as we dance on the hill, and the dew hangs sweet on the flowers,
Then we'll kiss off the dew, for our lovers are true, and the Baptist's blessing is ours.

Come forth, come forth, &c.

Come forth, come forth, my maidens, 'tis the day of good St. John,
It is the Baptist's morning that breaks the hills upon ;
And let us all go forth together, while the blessed day is new,
To dress with flowers the snow-white wether, ere the sun has dried the dew.

There are too many obvious traces of the fact to doubt its truth, that the making of bonfires, and the leaping through them, are vestiges of the ancient worship of the heathen god Bal; and therefore, it is, with propriety, that the editor of “Times's Telescope,” adduces a recent occurrence from Hitchin’s “History of Cornwall,” as a probable remnant of pagan superstition in that county. He presumes that the vulgar notion which gave rise to it, was derived from the druidical sacrifices of beasts. “An ignorant old farmer in Cornwall, having met with some severe losses in his cattle, about the year 1800, was much afflicted with his misfortunes. To stop the growing evil, he applied to the farriers in his neighbourhood, but unfortunately he applied in vain. The malady still continuing, and all remedies failing, he thought it necessary to have recourse to some extraordinary measure. Accordingly, on consulting with some of his neighbours, equally ignorant with himself, and evidently not less barbarous, they recalled to their recollections a tale, which tradition had handed down from remote antiquity, that the calamity would not cease until he had actually burned alive the finest calf which he had upon his farm ; but that, when this sacrifice was made, the murrian would afflict his cattle no more The old farmer, influenced by this counsel, resolved immediately on reducing it to practice; that, by making the detestable experiment, he might secure an advantage, which the whisperers of tradition, and the advice of his neighbours, had conspired to assure him would

Come forth, come forth, &c.

follow. He accordingly called several of his friends together, on an appointed day, and having lighted a large fire, brought forth his best calf; and, without ceremony or remorse, pushed it into the flames. The innocent victim, on feeling the intolerable heat, endeavoured to escape; but this was in vain. The barbarians that surrounded the fire were armed with pitchforks, or pikes, as in Cornwall they are generally called; and, as the burning victim endeavoured to escape from death, with these instruments of cruelty the wretches pushed back the tortured animal into the flames. In this state, amidst the wounds of pitchforks, the shouts of unfeeling ignorance and cruelty, and the corrosion of flames, the dying victim poured out its expiring groan, and was consumed to ashes. It is scarcely possible to reflect on this instance of superstitious barbarity, without tracing a kind of resemblance between it, and the ancient sacrifices of the Druids. This calf was sacrificed to fortune, or good luck, to avert impending calamity, and to en. sure future prosperity, and was selected by the farmer as the finest among his herd.” Every intelligent native of Cornwall will perceive, that this extract from the history of his county, is here made for the purpose of shaming the brutally ignorant, if it be possible, into humanity. To conclude the present notices rather pleasantly, a little poem is subjoined, which shows that the superstition respecting the St. John's wort is not confined to England; it is a version of some lines transcribed from a German almanac:--

The St. John's IPort.

The young maid stole through the cottage door,
And blushed as she sought the plant of pow'r;–

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

Franking of Newspapers.

By a recent regulation it is not necessary to put the name of a member of either house of parliament on the cover; the address of the party to whom it is sent, with the ends of the paper left open as usual, will be sufficient to ensure its delivery. This is a praiseworthy accommodation to common sense. The old fiction was almost universally known to be one, and yet it is only a few years ago, that a member of parliament received a humble letter of apology, coupled with a request from one of his constituents, that he might be allowed to use the name of his representative in directing a newspaper. To the ingenuous, pretences seem realities.

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

- Chronology.

On the 26th of June, 1541, Francis Pizarro, the conqueror of Peru, was assassinated. He was born at Truxillo, in Spain; his birth was illegitimate, and in his youth he was a keeper of hogs. Becoming a soldier, he went to America, and settled at Punama, where he projected the prosecution of discoveries to the eastward of that settlement. By means of an expedition, which he solicited, and was intrusted to command from the court of Spain, he entered Peru when the empire was divided by a civil war between Huascar the legitimate monarch, and Atahualpa his half brother. Pretending succour to Atahualpa, he was permitted to penetrate twelve days’ journey into the country, and received as an ally by Atahualpa, whose confidence he rewarded

by suddenly attacking him, and making him prisoner. The exaction of animo mense ransom for this king's release; the shameful breach of faith, by which he was held in captivity after his ransom was paid; his brutal murder under the infamous mockery of a trial; the horrible frauds by which he was inveigled to die in the profession of the christian faith, without being able to comprehend its tenets; and the superaddition of other acts of perfidy and cruelty, will render the name of Pizarro infamous so long as it exists.

His assassination was effected by the friends of Almagro, his original associate, with whom he had quarelled, and whom he caused to be executed when he got him into his power.

Copenijagtmabouge

In olden times, so high a rise Was, perhaps, a Tor or beacon ground And lit, or 'larm'd, the country round,

For pleasure, or against surprise

There is a cobler's stall in London that I pass its vicinity, because it was the seat of I go out of my way to look at whenever an honest old man who patched my shoes

[graphic]

and my mind, when I was a boy. I involuntarily reverence the spot; and if I find myself in Red Lion-square, I, with a like affection, look between the iron railings of its enclosure, because, at the same age, from my mother's window, I watched the taking down of the obelisk, stone by stone, that stood in the centre, and impatiently awaited the discovery of the body of Oliver Cromwell, which, according to local legend, was certainly buried there in secrecy by night. It is true that Oliver's bones were not found; but then “every body” believed that “ the workmen did not dig deep enough.” Among these believers was my friend, the cobbler, who, though no metaphysician, was given to ruminate on “causation.” He imputed the nonpersistence of the diggers to “private reasons of state,” which his awfully mysterious look imported he had fathomed, but dared not reveal. From ignorance of wisdom, I venerated the wisdom of ignorance; and though I now know better, I respect the old man's memory. He allowed me, though a child, to sit on the frame of his little pushed-back window; and I obtained so much of his good-will and confidence, that he lent me a folio of fragments from Caxton's “Polychronicon,” and Pynson's “Shepherd's Kalendar,” which he kept in the drawer of his seat, with “St. #. bones,” the instruments of his “gentle craft.” This black-letter lore, with its wood-cuts, created in me a desire to be acquainted with our old authors, and a love for engravings, which I have indulged without satiety. It is impossible that I should be without fond recollections of the spots wherein I received these early impressions. From still earlier impressions, I have like recollection of the meadows on the Highgate side of Copenhagen-house. I often rambled in them in summer-time, when I was a boy, to frolic in the newmown hay, or explore the wonders of the hedges, and listen to the songs of the birds. Certain indistinct apprehensions of danger arose in me from the rude noises of the visitors at Copenhagenhouse itself, and I scarcely ventured near enough to observe more than that it had drinking-benches outside, and boisterous company within. I first entered the place in the present month of June, 1825, and the few particulars I could collect concerning it, as an old place of public entertainment, may be acceptable to many who recollect its former notoriety. Spe

culators are building up to it, and if they continue with their present s , it will in a few years be hidden by their operations.

Copenhagen-house stands alone in the fields north of the metropolis, between Maiden-lane, the old road to Highgate on the west, and the very ancient north road, or bridle-way, ...? Hagbush-lane, on the east; on this latter side it is nearly in a line with Cornwall-place, Holloway. Its name is said to have been derived from a Danish prince, or a Danish ambassador, having resided in it during a great plague in London; another representation is, that in the beginning of the seventeenth century, it was opened under its present name by a Dane, as a place of resort for his countrymen. “CoopenHagen” is the name given to it in the map in Camden’s “Britannia,” Dublished in 1695.” It is situated in the parish of Islington, in the manor of St. John of Jerusalem, in the rental of which manor, dated the 25th of February, 1624, its name does not occur;+ it is therefore probable from thence, and from the appearance of the oldest part of the present edifice, that it was not then built.

It is certain that Copenhagen-house has been licensed for the sale of beer, and wine, and spirits, upwards of a century; and for such refreshments, and as a teahouse, with a garden and grounds for skittles and Dutch pins, it has been greatly resorted to by Londoners. No house of the kind commands so extensive and uninterrupted a view of the metropolis and the immense western suburb, with the heights of Hampstead and Highgate, and the rich intervening meadows. Those nearest to London are now rapidly destroying for their brick-earth, and being covered with houses; though from Copenhagen-street, which is built on the green lane from White Conduit-house, there is a way to the footpath leading to Copenhagen-house, from the row of handsome cottages called Barnesbury-park.

The latter buildings are in the manor of Berners, or Bernersbury, otherwise Barnesbury; the name being derived

* Mr. Nelson's History of Islington. + To Mr. Simes, bailiff of the manor, I am indebted for a sight of this rental.

« IndietroContinua »