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Now, musing o'er the changing scene
With an abundance of freshly accumulated materials, and my power not lessened, for adventuring in the track pursued in the Every-Day Book, I find, gentle reader, since we discoursed in that work, that the world, and all that is therein, have changed I know not how much, nor whether to the disadvantage of my present purpose. It is my intention, however, to persevere in my endeavours to complete a popular and full record of the customs, the seasons, and the ancient usages of our country.
Each new year has increased my early likings, and my love for that quiet without which research cannot be made either into
antiquity, or a man's self. The most bustling are not the busiest. The "fool i the forest" was not the melancholy Jaques : he bestowed the betrothed couples, recommended them to pastime, and withdrew before the sports began. My present doings are not with the great business that bestirs the world, yet I calculate on many who are actors in passing events finding leisure to recreate with the coming pages, where will be found many things for use, several things worth thinking over, various articles of much amusement, nothing that I have brought together before, and a prevailing feeling which is well described in these verses
POWER AND GENTLENESS.
I've thought, in gentle and ungentle hour,
All his great nature, gathering, seems to crown;
Of ghastly castle, that eternally
Holds its blind visage out to the lone sea;
And of all sunless subterranean deeps
The creature makes, who listens while he sleeps,
That stride, they say, over heroic bones;
And those stone heaps Egyptian, whose small doors
I've thought of all this pride and all this pain,
The consciousness of strength in enemies,
Most old, and mild, and awful, and unbroken,
Literary Pocket Book, 1819.
Certain Festival Days were believed, formerly,to prognosticate the weather of the coming year; and, although the alteration of the style, by removing each festival about twelve days forwarder in the calendar, created great confusion in the application of these prognostications, yet many an ignorant husbandman and astrologer still consults the "critical days.
It is not however the particular day, but the particular time of year, which justifies an expectation of particular weather.
There are weather prognostics derived from St. Vincent's Day, January 22d; St. Paul's,January 25th; Candlemas, February 2d; St. John, June 24th; St. Swithin, July 15th; and St. Simon and Jude, October 28th. But, to render the prognostics concerning these or any other days valid and consistent, a constant relation should subsist between the phenomena of each in every year. This is not the case, and therefore, if there were no other reason, the fallacy of relying on the weather of any particular day is obvious.
It is true that certain critical changes of the weather usually take place, and certain well known plants begin to flower in abundance, about the time of certain festival days; yet these marks of the year are connected only, because the festivals were appointed to be celebrated at the weather-changing and plant-blowing sea
The fragrant coltsfoot in mild seasons has the greatest quantity of its flowers at Christmas.
The dead nettle is generally in flower on St. Vincent's Day, January 22d.
The winter hellebore usually flowers, in mild weather, about the conversion of St. Paul, January 25th.
The snowdrop is almost proverbially constant to Candlemas Day, or Purification, February 2d. The mildness or severity of the weather seems make but little difference in the time of its appearance; it comes up blossoming through the snow, and appears to evolve its white and pendant flowers, as if by the most determined periodical laws.
The yellow spring crocus generally flowers about St. Valentine's Day, February 14th; the white and blue species come rather later.
The favorite daisy usually graces the meadows with its small yellow and white blossoms about February 22d, the festival day of St. Margaret of Cortona, whence it is still called in France La Belle Marguerite, and in England Herb Margaret.
The early daffodil blows about St. David's Day, March 1st, and soon covers the fields with its pendant yellow cups.
The pilewort usually bespangles the banks and shaded sides of fields with its golden stars about St. Perpetua, March 7th.
About March 18th, the Day of St. Edward, the magnificent crown imperia:
The cardamine first flowers about March 25th, the festival of the Annunciation, commonly called Lady Day. Like the snowdrop it is regarded as the emblem of virgin purity, from its whiteness.
The Marygold is so called from a fancied resemblance of the florets of its disk to the rays of glory diffused by artists from the Virgin's head.
The violets, heartseases, and primroses, continual companions of spring, observe less regular periods, and blow much longer.
About April 23d, St. George's Day, the blue bell or field hyacinth, covers the
fields and uplano pastures with its brilliant blue-an emblem of the patron saint of England-which poets feigned to braid the bluehaired Oceanides of our seagirt isle.
The whitethorn used, in the old style, to flower about St. Philip and St. James, May 1st, and thence was called May; but now the blackthorn is hardly out by the first of that month.
At the Invention of the Cross, May 3d, the poetic Narcissus, as well as the primrose peerless, are usually abundant in the southern counties of England; and about this season Flora begins to be so lavish of her beauties, that the holiday wardrobe of her more periodical handmaids is lost amidst the dazzle of a thousand "quaint and enamelled eyes," which sparkle on her gorgeous frontlet. Plants of surpassing beauty are blowing every bour,
And on the green turf suck the honied showers, And purple all the ground with vernal flowers.
The whole race of tulips come to perfection about the commemoration of St. John the Evangelist ante portum, May 6th, and the fields are yellow with the crowfoots. The brilliant light red monkey poppy, the glowing crimson peony, the purple of the German iris, and a thouJand others are added daily. A different tribe of plants begin to succeed, which may be denominated solstitial.
The yellow flag is hoisted by the sides of ponds and ditches, about St. Nicomede, June 1st.
The poppies cast a red mantle over the fields and corn lands about St. Barnabas, June 11th.
The bright scarlet lychnis flowers about June 24th, and hence a poet calls this plant Candelabrum ingens, lighted up for St. John the Baptist: it is one of the most regular tokens of the summer sol stice.
The white lily expands its candied bells about the festival of the Visitation, July 2d.
The roses of midsummer remain in perfection until they fade about the feast of St. Mary Magdalen, July 22d.
Many similar coincidences might be instituted between remarkable days in the calendar and the host of summer and autumnal flowers down to the michaelmas daisy, and various ancient documents might be adduced to show a former prevailing belief in the influence of almost every festival on the periodical blowing
of plants. For, in the middle or dark ages, the mind fancied numberless signs and emblems, which increase the list of curious antiquities and popular superstitions in "the short and simple annals of the poor." The persuasion which occupied and deluded men's minds in the past days are still familiarly interwoven with the tales and legends of infancy -that fairy time of life, when we wonder at all we see, and our curiosity is most gratified by that which is most marvellous.*
Lo, my fair! the morning lazy
Frost has stopp'd the village mill.
All around looks sad and dreary,
Fast the flaky snow descends: Yet the red-breast chirrups cheerly, While the mitten'd lass attends.
Rise the winds and rock the cottage, Thaws the roof, and wets the path; Dorcas cooks the savory pottage; Smokes the cake upon the hearth.
Sunshine intermits with ardor,
Shades fly swiftly o'er the fields; Showers revive the drooping verdure, Sweets the sunny upland yields.
Pearly beams the eye of morning;
Hawthorn every hedge adorning,
Pluck the flowers-but spare the nest.
Schoolboys, in the brook disporting,
Spend the sultry hour of play:
While the nymphs and swains are courting, Seated on the new-made hay.
Maids, with each a guardian lover,
Dr T. Forster's Perennial Calendar.
AUGUST. See the reapers, gleaners, dining, Seated on the shady grass; O'er the gate the squire reclining, Slily eyes each ruddy lass.
Hark! a sound like distant thunder,
Now Pomona pours her treasure,
Now the giddy rites of Comus
Crown the hunter's dear delight; Ah! the year is fleeing from us : Bleak the day, and drear the night DECEMBER.
Bring more wood, and set the glasses, Join, my friends, our Christmas chcer, Come, a catch!-and kiss the lasses-
Christmas comes but once a year.
Discovered since 1780.
Pallas. ? Ceres.
Juno. Concerning the old planets there is sufficient information: of those newly discovered a brief notice may be acceptable. Uranus was called the Georgium Sidus by its discoverer Dr. Herschell, and, in compliment to his discovery, some astronomers call it Herschell. Before him Dr. Flamstead, Bayer, and others had seen and mistaken it for a fixed star, and so placed it in their catalogues. It is computed to be 1,800,000,000 of miles from the sun; yet it can be seen without a glass, on clear nights, like a small star of the fifth magnitude, of a bluish-white color, and considerably brilliant. To obtain a good view of its disk, a telescopic power of nearly 200 is requisite.
Pallas was first seen on the 28th of March, 1802, at Bremen in Lower
Saxony, by Dr. Olbers. It is situated between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter; is nearly of the same magnitude with Ceres, but less ruddy in color; is surrounded with a nebulosity of almost the same extent; and revolves annually in about the same period. But Pallas is remarkably distinguished from Ceres, and the other primary planets, by the immense inclination of its orbit; for while they revolve around the sun in paths nearly circular, and rise only a few degrees above the plane of the ecliptic, Pallas ascends above this plane at an angle of about thirty-five degrees. From this eccentricity of Pallas being greater than that of Ceres, while their mean distances are nearly equal, the orbits of these two planets mutually intersect each other, which is a phenomenon without a parallel in the solar system.
Ceres was re-discovered by Dr. Olbers, after she had been lost to M. Piazzi and other astronomers. She is of a ruddy color, and appears, through a proper telescope, about the size of a star of the eighth magnitude, surrounded with a large dense atmosphere. She is situated between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and revolves around the sun in four years, seven months, and ten days; her mean distance from it is nearly 260,000,000 of miles. The eccentricity of her orbit is not great, but its inclination to the ecliptic exceeds that of all the old planets.
Juno. On the 1st of September, 1804, Professor Harding at Libiensthall, near Bremen, saw a star in Pisces, not inserted in any catalogue, which proved to be this planet.
Vesta is of the fifth apparent magnitude, of an intense, pure, white color, and without any visible atmosphere. To account for certain facts connected with the
discovery of Pallas, Ceres, and Juno, Dr. Olbers imagined the existence of another planet in the constellations of Aries and the Whale, and carefully examined them thrice every year until the 29th of March, 1807, when his anticipation was realised by finding in the constellation of Virgo this new planet.*
88 A planet's ascending node. 88 Descending node.
6 Conjunction, or planets situated in the same longitude.