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this festival, as it is observed in our own country. It is recorded as a rural tradition, that on St. Valentine's day each bird of the air chooses its mate; and hence it is presumed, that our homely ancestors, in their lusty youth, adopted 'a practice which we still find peculiar to a season when nature bursts its imprisonments for
the coming pleasures of the cheerful spring. Lydgate, the monk of Bury, who died in 1440, and is described by Warton to have been " not only the poet of his monastery, but of the world in general," has a poem in praise of queene Catherine, consort to Henry V., wherein he says:
Seynte Valentine. Of custome yeere by j
To loke and serene Cupides kalendere.
And chose theyr choyse, by Crete affeccioun;
Takyng theyre choyse as theyr sort doth falle:
But I love con wliiche excellith alle.
Chaucer imagines " Nature the vicars of the Almightie Lord," to address the
Foules, take hede of my sentence I pray,
Ye know well, how on St. Valentine s day
Ye doe chew your Makes, and after flie away
Saint Valentine, thou art full high on loft,
happiest of living things at this season, the birds, thus:
Our young readers are informed, that the word " make" in Chaucer, now obsolete, signified mate.
Jago, a poet, who, if he has not soared to greatness, has at least attained to the easy versification of agreeable, and sometimes higher feelings, has left us a few stanzas, which harmonize with the suppositions of Chaucer:
v St. Valentine t Day.
The tuneful choir in amorous strains
Accost their feathered loves;
With cheerful hop from spray to spray
They sport along the meads; In social bliss together stray.
Where love or fancy leads.
Through Spring's gay scenes each happy pair
Their fluttering joys pursue;
For ever kind and true.
Their sprightly notes from every shade
Their mutual loves proclaim;
And damp th' enlivening flame.
Then all the jocund scene declines,
Nor woods nor meads delight;
And mourns th' unwelcome sight.
Go, blissful warblers! timely wise,
TV instructive moral tell;
My charming Annabelle!
Old John Dunton's " British Apollo" sings a question and answer:
Why, Valentine's a day to choose
Further on, in the same miscellany, is another question and answer:
"Question. In chuting valentines (according to custom) is not the party chusing (be it man or woman) to make a present to the party chosen?
"Answer. We think it more proper to say, drawing of valentines, since the most customary way is for each to take his or her lot. And chance cannot be termed choice. According to this
thod, the obligations are equal, and therefore it was formerly the custom mutually to present, but now it is customary only for the gentlemen."
This drawing of valentines is remarked in Poor Robin's Almanac for 1676, under St. Valentine's day:
"Now Andrew, Antho-
For Valentines draw Prue, Kate, Jilian." Misson, a learned traveller, who died in England about 1721, describes the amusing practices of his time: —" On the eve of the 14th of February, St. Valentine's day, the young folks in England and Scotland, by a very ancient custom, celebrate a little festival. An equal number of maids and bachelors get together, each writes their true or some feigned name upon separate billets, which they roll up, and draw by way of lots, the maids taking the men's billets, and the men the maids'; so that each of
upon a young man which she calls hers. By this means each has two valentines: but the man sticks faster to the valentine that is fallen to him, than to the valentine to whom he is fallen. Fortune having thus divided the company into so many couples, the valentines give balls and treats to their mistresses, wear their billets several days upon their bosoms or sleeves, and this little sport often ends in love. This ceremony is practised differently in different counties, and according to the freedom or severity of madam Valentine. There is another kind of valentine, which is the first young man or woman that chance throws in your way in the street, or elsewhere, on that day."
In some places, at this time, and more particularly in London, the lad's valentine is the first lass he sees in the morning, who is not an inmate of the house; the lass's valentine is the first youth she sees. Gay mentions this usage on St. Valentine's day: he makes a rustic housewife remind her good i
theyoung men lights upon a girl that he
I early rose just at the break of day,
Shakspeare bears witness to the cus
So also in the " Connoisseur" there is mention of the same usage preceded by certain mysterious ceremonies the night before; one of these being almost certain to ensure an indigestion is therefore likely to occasion a dream favourable to the dreamer's waking wishes.—" Last Friday was Valentine's day, and, the night before, I got five bay -leaves,and pinned four of them to the four corners of my pillow, and the fifth to the middle; and then, if I dreamt of my sweetheart, Betty said we should be married before the year was out. But to make it more sure, I boiled an egg hard, and took out the yolk, and filled it with salt; and when I went to bed, ate it, shell and all, without speaking or drinking after it. We also wrote our lovers' names upon bits of paper, and rolled them up in clay, and put them into water: and the first that rose up was to be our valentine. Would you think it, Mr. Blossom was my man. I lay a-bed and shut my eyes all the morning, till he came to our house; for I would not have seen another man before him for all the world."
tom of looking for your valentine, or desiring to be one, through poor Ophelia's singing
Good morrow! 'tis St. Valentine's day
All in the morning betime.
To be your valeutine!
Sylvanus Urban, in 1779, was informed by Kitty Curious, that on St. Valentine's day in that year, at a little obscure village in Kent, she found an odd kind of sport. The girls from five or six to eighteen years old were assembled in a crowd, burning an uncouth effigy which they called a "holly boy," and which they had stolen from the boys; while in another part of the village the boys were burning what they called an " ivy girl," which they had stolen from the girls. The ceremony of each burning was accompanied by acclamations, huzzas, and other noise. Kitty inquired the meaning of this from the oldest people in the place, but she could learn no more than that it had always been a sport at that season.
A correspondent communicates to the bourhood a similar boon. This was done, Everyday Book a singular custom, which says our correspondent, as an emblem, prevailed many years since in the west of that the owl being the bird of wisdom,
England. Three single young men went
The day Saint Valentine,
Of true-love knots and sonnets nicely penned.
could influence the feathered race to enter the net of love as mates on that day, whereon both single lads and maidens should be reminded that happiness could alone be secured by an early union.
On this ancient festival, it was formerly the custom for men to make presents to the women. In Scotland these valentine gifts were reciprocal, as indeed they are still in some parts. Hurdis calls this
St. Valentine is the lover's saint. Not that lovers have more superstition than other people, but their imaginings are more. As it is fabled that Orpheus "played so well, he moved old Nick ;" so it is true that Love, "cruel tyrant,'' moves the veriest brute. Its influence renders the coarsest nature somewhat interesting. A being of this kind, so possessed, is almost as agreeable as a parish cage with an owl inside ; • you hear its melancholy tee-whit tee-who, and wonder how it got there. Its place of settlement becomes a place of sentiment; nobody can liberate the starveling, and it will stay there. Its mural notes seem so many calls for pity, which are much abated on the recollection,that there are openings enough for its escape. The " tender passion" in the two mile an hour Jehu of an eighthorse waggon, puzzles him mightily. He "sighs and drives, sighs and drives, and drives and sighs again," till the approach of this festival enables him to buy "a Valentine," with a "halter" and a " couple o' hearts" transfixed by an arrow in the form of a weathercock, inscribed
"I' ll be yours, if you'll be mine,
This he gets his name written under by the shopkeeper, and will be quite sure that it is his name, before he walks after his waggon,which he has left to go on, because neither that nor his passion can brook delay. After he is out of the town, he looks behind him, lest any body should see, and for a mile or two on the road, ponders
on the " two hearts made one," as a most singular device, and with admired devotion. He then puts it in the trusty pocket under his frock, which holds the waggon bill, and flogs his horses to quicken their pace towards the inn, where " she," who is *' his heart's delight," has been lately promoted to the rank of under kitchen-maid, vice her who resigned, on being called "to the happy estate of matrimony" by a neighbouring carter. He gives her the mysterious paper in the yard, she receives it with a "what be this 1" and with a smack on the lips, and a smack from the whip on the gown. The gods have made him poetical, and, from his recollection of a play he saw at the statute-fair, he tells her that "love, like a worm in the mud, has played upon his Lammas cheek" ever since last Lammas-tide, and she knows it has, and that she's his valentine. With such persons and with nature, this is the season of breaking the ice.
St. Valentine, be it repeated, is the saint of all true lovers of every degree, and hence the letters missive to the fair, from wooers on his festival,bear his name. Brand thinks "one of the most elegant jeu-d'esprits on this occasion," is one wherein an admirer reminds his mistress of the choice attributed by the legend to the choristers of the air on this day, »nd inquires of her—
Shall only you and I forbear
Yet since the solemn time allows
A better might hare been selected from the "Magazine of Magazines," the * Gentleman's," wherein Mr. Urban has sometimes introduced the admirers of ladies to the admirers of antiquities—under which class ladies never come. Thence, ever and anon, as from some high barbican or watchtower old, " songs of loves and maids forsaken," have aroused the contemplation from "facts, fancies, and recollections" regarding other times, to lovers " sighing like furnace" in our own. Through Sylvanus, nearly a century ago, there was poured this
Invocation of St. Valentine.
Haste, friendly Saint ! to my relief,
Away she started from my view,
Seize her—yet treat the nymph divine
So pleasant, so descriptive an illustration of the present custom, requires a companion equally amiable:
Mark'd you her cheek that blooms and
A living emblem of the rose }
Mark'd you her artless smiles that speak
Mark'd you her face, and did hot there.
Mark'd you all this, and you have known
Every lady will bear witness that the roll of valentine poesy is interminable; and it being presumed that few would object to a peep in the editor's budget, he offers a little piece, written, at the desire of a lady, under an engraving, which represented a girl fastening a letter to the neck of a pigeon :—
THE COURIER DOVE.
"Va, portercet ecrit a l'objet de mon occur t"
Outstrip the winds my courier dove!
On pinions fleet and free.
Who's far away from me.
It bids him mark thy plume whereon
The changing colours range;
If he should also change.
It tells him thou relurn'st again
To her who sets tbee free;
He'll thus resemble thee 1
Lastly, from "Sixty-five Poems and Sonnets," he. recently published, he ventures to extract one not less deserving the honour of perusal, than either that he has presented :—
No hidden flame discover,
Disclaiming that of lover.
Heed not the fop, who loves himself,
The drunkard heed with cold disdain;
But should some generous youth appear,
Whose honest mind is void of art,
And serve him with a willing heart;
Though in this wilderness below
You still imperfect bliss shall find, Yet such a friend will share each woe, And bid you be to Heaven resign'd: While Faith unfolds the radiant prize, And Hope still points beyond the skies, At life's dark storms you'll not repine, But bless the day of Valentine.
Wit at a pinch. A gentleman who left his snuffbox at a friend's on St. Valentine's Eve, 1825, received it soon after his return home in an envelope, sealed, and superscribed—
To J E , Esq.
Sir William Blackstone died on the 14th of>February, 1780. He was born at the house of his father, a silkman, in Cheapside, London, on the 10th of July, 1723 ; sent to the Charter-house in 1730; entered Pembroke-college, Cambridge, in 1738; of the Middle Temple, 1741; called to the bar in 1746; elected recorder of Wallingford in 1749; made doctor of civil law in 1750; elected Vtnerian professor of common law in 1758; returned a representative to Parliament in 1761; married in 1761 ; became a justice of the court of Common Pleas in 1770. In the course of his life he filled other offices. He was just and benevolent in all his relations, and, on the judicial seat, able and impartial. In English literature and jurisprudence he holds a distinguished rank for his "Commentaries on the Laws of England." This work originated in the legal lectures he commenced in 1753: the first volume was published in 1759, and the remaining three in the four succeeding years. Through these his name is popular, and so will remain while law exists. The work is not for the lawyer alone, it is for every body. It is not so praiseworthy to be learned, as it is disgraceful to be igno
rant of the laws which regulate liberty and property. The absence of all information in some men when serving upon juries and coroners' inquests, or as constables, and in parochial offices, is scandalous to themselves and injurious to their fellow men. The " Commentaries" of Blackstone require only common capacity to understand. Wynne's " Eunomus" is an excellent introduction to Blackstone, if any be wanting. With these two works no man can be ignorant of his rights or obligations; and, indeed, the "Commentaries" are so essential, that he who has not read them has no claim to be considered qualified for the exercise of his public duties as an Englishman. He is at liberty, it is true, for the law leaves him at liberty, to assume the character he may be called on to bear in common with his fellow-citizens; but, with this liberty, he is only more or less than a savage, as he is more than a savage by his birth in a civilized country, and less than a savage in the animal instinct, which teaches that self-preservation is the first law of nature; and still further is he less, because, beside the safety of others, it may fall to him, in this state of ignorance, to watch and ward the safety of the commonwealth itself.
Blackstone, on making choice of his profession, wrote an elegant little poem, entitled "The Lawyer's Farewell to hit None." It is not more to be admired for ease and grace, than for the strong feeling it evinces in relinquishing the pleasures of poesy and art, and parting for ever from scenes wherein he had happily spent his youthful days. Its conclusion describes his anticipations—
Lost to the field and torn from you—
A Suit At Law. Its origin and progress may be traced in the Tree engraved on the opposite page.