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the Boy Bishop had the power of disposing of sucht prebends as happened to be vacant in the days of his episcopacy; and if he died in his bigh office, the funeral honours of a bishop, with a monument, were granted to him. His office and authority lasted from the 6th to the 28th of December.
This ceremony is said 'to have been in honour of St. Nicholas, the patron of scholars. Such a show, at the present day, would have been deemed somewhat of a burlesque, or even blasphemous parody on the Christian religion. The show of the Boy Bishop was abolished by a proclamation in 1542, more from its absurdity than impiety.
The MONTEM, AT Eron, bears some resemblance to the preceding pageant; modified, ir: conformity with the altered feelings of the times, from a religious to a military spectacle. The Montem takes place on Tuesday in Whitson week, when the Eton scholars go in military procession, with drums and trumpets, to Salt-hill. The scholars of the superior classes dress in the uniform of captain, lieutenant, or other regimental officer ; which they obtain from London. The procession begins with marching threc timés round the school-yard ; from thence to Salt-Hill, where one of the scholars, dressed in black with a band, as chaplain, reads certain prayers: after which a dinner, dressed in the college kitchen, is provided by the taptain for his guests at the in there; the rest getting a dinner for themselves at the other houses of entertainment. The price of the dinner in Huggett's time was 10s. 6d. and 2s. 6d. more for salt-money. The dinner being over, they march back, in the order they came, into the school yard, round which they march three times, when the ceremony is concluded.
The motto on the colours is, Pro More et Monte. Every scholar, who is no officer, marches with a long pole, two and two. Before the procession begins, two of the scholars, called salt-bearers, dressed in white, with a handkerchief of salt in their hands, and attended each with some sturdy young felJow, hired for the occasion, go round the college, and through the town, and from thence up into the high road, offer-, ing salt to all, but scarcely leaving it to their choice, whether they will give or not; for money they will have, if possible, and that even from servants. The contributions thus levied are very considerable ; in 1793 they amounted to 10001., but that was an unusual sumy, the average being about 500l. The salt money paid by the king on this occasion is 100
guineas. The custom of offering salt is differently explained : it is supposed to be an emblem of learning; and the scholars, in presenting it to passengers, and asking money, engage to become proficient therein.
Royal-Oak Day, as every one knows, commemorates the escape of Charles the Second from his pursuers, after the battle of Worcester. Brand relates, that he remembered a taunting rhyme, with which the boys at Newcastle-upon-Tyne used to insult such persons as they met on that day, who had not oak leaves in their liats:
“ Royal oak,
The Whigs to provoke.” To this was a retort courteous by others, who contemptuously wore plane-tree leaves, of the same homely diction :
• Plane-tree leaves;
The Church-folk are thieves." The royal oak, at a short distance from Boscobel-house, was standing in Dr. Stukeley's tiine (1724,) enclosed with a brick-wall, but almost cut away in the middle by travellers, whose curiosity led them to see it. Charles, after the Restoration, visiting the place, carried away some of the acorns and set them in St. James's Park, and used to water them himself.
The Passing Bell was anciently rung for two purposes : one, to bespeak the prayers of all good Christians for a soul just departing ; the other, to fright away the evil spirits who stood at the bed's-foot, and about the house, ready to seize their prey ; or, at least, to molest and terrify the soul in its passage: but by the ringing of that bell they were kept aloof; and the soul, like a hunted bare, gained the start, or had what by sportsmen is called law. Hence, perhaps, exclusive of the additional labour, was occasioned the high price demanded for tolling the greater bell of the church; for that being louder, the evil spirits must go farther off ; it would likewise procure the deceased a great number of prayers.
MOTHERING SUNDAY, or Mid-Lent Sunday, is the day on which the people used to visit their mother church, and make their offerings at the high altar. The only remains of this custom is the practice of going to visit parents on Mic. lent Sunday,
" April with rools, and May with bastards blest.”
CHURCHILL. A custom, says The Spectator, prevails every where amongst us on the first of April, when every body strives to make as many fools as he can. The wit consists chiefly in sending persons on what are called sleeveless errands, for the History of Eve's Mother, for Pigeon's milk, with similar ridiculous absurdities. The French call the person imposed upon, à Poisson dø Avril, “ an April fish," who we term an April fool. In the North of England, person thus imposed upon are called “ April Gowks :" Gowk being the word for à cuckoo; metaphorically, a fool. In Scotland, they send silly people from place to place, by means of letter, in which is written:
- On the first day of April,
Hunt the Gowk another mile!" Similar fooleries prevail in Portugal, as we learn from Mr. Southey. « On the Sunday and Monday,” says he,“ preceding Lent, as on the first of April, in England, people are pri. vileged here (Lisbon) to play the fool. It is thought very jocose to pour water on any person who passes, or throw water on his face; but to do both is the perfection of wit.”
Mr. Brand has not ascertained the origin of All-Fool's day. It has been stated, it arose from the custom of letting all the insanie persons be at large on the first of April, when the boys amused themselves by sending them on ridiculous errands.
MAUNDAY THURSDAY is the Thursday before Easter, and is the Thursday of the poor, from the French mendier, “ to beg.” It was formerly the custom of the Kings of England to wash the feet of poor men, in number equal to the years of their reign, in imitation of the humility of our Saviour; and give them shoes, stockings, and money. James the Second was the last king who performed this in person. The custom of giving alms is still continued.
The SHAMROCK is said to be worn by the Irish on St. Patrick's Day, in memory of the means resorted to by their patron Saint, to convert them to Christianity. When St. Patrick landed near Wicklow, the natives were ready to stone him for attempting an innovation in the religion of their ancestors.
He requested to be heard, and explained to them, that God is an omnipotent spirit, who created heaven and earth, and that the Trinity contained the Unity : but they were reluctant to give credit to his words. St. Patrick then plucked a trefoil, or ihree-leaved grass with one stalk, exclaiming, “ Is it not as possible for the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to be in one, as for these three leaves to grow upon a single stalk !” Then the Irish were immediately convinced of their error, and were solemnly baptized by St. Patrick
It was a general custom, and is still observed in some parishes, to go round the bounds and linits of the parish, on one of the three days before Holy THURSDAY ; when the minister, accompanied by his churchwardens and parishioners, were wont to deprecate the vengeance of God, beg a blessing upon the fruits of the earth, and preserve the rights and boundaries of the parish. It is supposed to hare been de. rived from the ancients, in imitation of the feast called Terminalia, which was dedicated to the god Terminus, whom they considered the guardian of fields and landmarks, and the preserver of friendsbip and peace. In London, these parochial perambulations are still kept up on Holy Thursday. Hooker, author of Ecclesiastical Polity, would by no means omit the customary procession; persuading all, both rich and poor, if they desired the preservation of love, and their parish rights and liberties, to accompany him in his perambulation.
The custom of electing municipal officers and magistrates at MichaeLMAS is still observed, as well as the old fare of a roast goose to dinner. Perhaps no reason can be given for this latter custom, but that Michaelmas day was a great festival, and stubble geese at that time were plentiful and good :
“Geese now in their prime season are,
Poor Robin's ALMANACK, 1693.
Some ascribe the eating of goose at Michaelmas, to the circumstance, that on that day Queen Elizabeth received the news of the defeat of the Spanish Armada, while she was eating a goose ; and to commemorate the event, she ever afterwards dined on that day on a goose. But, as Brand observes, this is a strong proof that the custom prevailed at court even in Queen Elizabeth's time. In Denmark, where the harvest is later, every family has a roasted goose for supper on St. Martin's eve.
ENGLAND was always famous among foreigners for the celebration of Christmas, at which season they admitted sports and pastinies, not known in other countries.
“At the feast of Christmas," says Stowe, “ in the King's court, wherever he chanced to reside, there was appointed a LORD OF MISRULE, or master of merry disports : the same merry fellow made his appearance at the house of every nobleman and person of distinction; and, among the rest, the lord mayor of London, and the sheriffs, had their lords of pisrule, ever contending, without quarrel or offence, who should make the rarest pastime to delight the beholders.” The society of Lincoln's Inn had an officer chosen at this sea. son, who was honoured with the title of King of Christmas Day, because he presided in the hall on that day, with his marshal and steward to attend him. The marshal, in the absence of the monarch, was permitted to assume his state ; and upon New-Year's day he sat as king in the hall, when the master of the revels, during the time of diping, supplied the marshal's place.
The custom of going a-begging, called HAGMENA, a few nights before Christmas, singing Christmas carols, and wishing a happy New Year, is still followed in the North of England. They get, in return, apples, nuts, refreshinents, and money. Mumming is another Christmas drollery, which consists in men and women changing clothes ; and, so disguisedi, going from one neighbour's house to another, partaking of Christmas cheer.
On the night of Christmas Eve, it was formerly the practice to light up candles of an uncommon size, called Christ. mas candles, and lay a log of wood on the fire, called a Yule Clog, to illuininate the house, and turn, as it were, day into night. In the Latin, or Western church, Christmas was called the Feast of Lights.
The forins of the TWELFTH Day vary in different countries,