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the burning of martyrs, first fashionable in England in the reign of King Henry the Fourth. But others derive the word (more truly in my mind) from Boon, that is Good, and Fires; whether good be taken for merry and chearfull, such fires being always made on welcome occasions."* It is hard to say which of the divine's derivations is the most absurd. The more probable explanation seems to be that of Dr. Hickes, and which has been adopted by Lye in the ETYMOLOGICON of Junius-namely, that it was derived from the Anglo-Saxon-balfyr, a burning pile, by the change of a single letter only, baal in the Islandic signifying a conflagration.

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It appears, too, among other ceremonies, that on these occasions a wheel, covered with lighted straw, was taken to the top of a hill and rolled down, which, we may presume, was originally intended to symbolize the approaching descent of the sun, then in his highest place in the zodiac. But as the early idea faded away under the influence of Christianity, an idle superstition took the place of a beautiful symbol, and people fancied all their ill luck rolled away with the wheel.† The Church, too, had its own version of the matter, and one not a jot more rational than the popular belief, the wheels according to the priests signifying that the fame of St. John, who had been falsely

* Mixt Contemplations of Better Times. By Thomas Fuller, B.D. p. 25. 12mo. London, 1660.

+"Some others get a rotten wheele, all worne and cast aside,
Which covered round about with strawe and towe they closely hide;
And caryed to some mountaines top, being all with fire light,
They hurle it down with violence when darke appears the night;
Resembling much the sunne, that from the Heavens downe should fal,
A straunge and monstrous sight it seemes, and fearefull to them all,
But they suppose their mischiefes all are likewise thrown to hell,
And that from harmes and daungers now in safetie here they dwelle."
Regnum Papisticum-translated by Barnaby Googe.

supposed to be Christ, diminished on the appearance of the latter, just as the sun was then beginning to descend from the highest point of the zodiac.*

The bonfires were only one feature in the festivities of this season, though I have given them precedence because in their very nature they point out the pagan origin of the whole. A yet more striking part of the Midsummer pageant was the array and marching of the city watch, as we find it described by Stow. "Then had ye besides the standing watches all in bright harness, in every ward and street of this city and suburbs, a marching watch that passed through the principal streets thereof. The whole way for this marching watch extendeth to three thousand two hundred tailor's yards of assize; for the furniture whereof with lights there were appointed seven hundred cressets,† five hundred of them being found by

* "Rota in quibusdam locis volvitur, ad significandum quod sicut sol ad altiora sui circuli pervenit, nec altius potest progredi, sed tunc sol descendit in circulo, sic et fama Joannis, qui putabatur Christus, descendit, etiam quod ipse testimoniu habet, dices - me oportuit minui, illam autem crescere-quod dicunt quidam dictum esse eo quòd tunc dies incipiunt minui, et in nativitate Christi crescere. Sed quia ante festum S. Joannis decrescunt, et ante natale Dmni crescunt, intelligendum est de nativitate in matre, qu scilicet conceptus est uterque; qm Joannes conceptus fuit decrescentibus diebus, ut in Septembri, et Christus in crescentibus, ut in Aprili : Vel de die mortis utriusque; nam corpus Christi exaltatu est in cruce, corpus Joannis capite minoratum."-Durandi Ration. Div. Offici. p. 292. lib.vii. c. 14. + Douce, in his ILLUSTRATIONS OF SHAKSPEARE, derives the word cresset from the French croiset, a cruet or earthen pot, while Hanmer and others deduce it from croisette, a little cross, because, as they say, the cresset was surmounted by a little cross. Either etymology seems to me improbable. I should be much more inclined to seek for the origin of the word, as Minshew has done, in the Belgic KAERSE, candela, lychnus, which at all events describes the cresset whatever form it might assume, whereas either croiset or croisette can only apply to it under a particular shape, and one which it certainly did not always assume.

the companies, the other two hundred by the chamber of London. Besides the which lights every constable in London, in number more than two hundred and forty, had his cresset; the charge of every cresset was in light two shillings and four pence; and every cresset had two men, one to bear or hold it, another to bear a bag with light, and to serve it, so that the poor men pertaining to the cressets, taking wages, besides that every one had a straw hat, with a badge painted, and his breakfast in the morning, amounted in number to almost two thousand. The marching watch contained in number about two thousand men, part of them being old soldiers of skill, to be captains, lieutenants, serjeants, corporals, &c., wiflers,* drummers, and fifes, standard and ensign bearers,

* Whiffler is explained by Douce in his Illustrations of Shakspeare (vol. i. p. 506) to mean a fifer, and to be derived from whiffle, another name for a fife or a small flute, but he has given no authority whatever for this signification of the word whiffle. His dictum therefore can hardly be received, and the less as Minshew (sub voce) explains Whiffler by "bastionero," i.e. a staff-bearer, an interpretation which to my mind is fully borne out by Randle Holme in his description of the Printers' and Founders' May Festival-" About 10 of the clock in the morning on the feastday, the company invited meet at the place appointed, and from thence go to some church thereabouts in this following order. First 4 Whifflers (as servitures) by two and two walking before with white staves in their hands, and red and blew ribbons hung beltwise upon their shoulders; these make way for the company."-A Store House of Armoury and Blazon, by Randle Holme, book iii. chap. 3, fol. 127. It is scarcely possible with such a quotation before our eyes to put the slightest faith in Mr. Douce's unsupported assertion, although he has in part borrowed it from Warton, who in a note upon Othello explains whiffler to mean fifer. But if any thing else be wanted we find in Grose's Provincial Glossary "WHIFFLERS; Men who make way for the corporation of Norwich by flourishing their swords."-The only error of Grose is in making that to be provincial which was clearly general. Nares, who had some reading, but not a grain of common sense, and who seems

sword-players, trumpeters on horseback, demilances on great horses, gunners with hand-guns, or half hakes, archers in coats of white fustian, signed on the breast and back with the arms of the city, their bows bent in their hands, with sheaves of arrows by their sides, pikemen in bright corslets, burgonets,* &c., halberds, the like billmen in almaine rivets and apernes of maile in great number; there were also divers pageants, morris-dancers, constables, the one half, which was one hundred and twenty, on St. John's Eve, the other half on St. Peter's Eve,† in bright harness, some overgilt, and every one a

unable to draw any thing like a right conclusion from the most simple premises, has a vast deal of trash upon this subject, (Glossary, sub voce) all of which has been greedily swallowed by poor Hone without the slightest suspicion of an error. The derivation, however, is plain enough; it comes from whiffle, to disperse as by a puff of wind, to scatter." This is a plain and obvious sense, against such as would whiffle away all these truths by resolving them into a mere moral allegory."-More on the Ser. Ch. ch. 9. Whiffle again is derived from whiff, which means, as Junius tells us, a sudden puff of wind, (flatus subitus et vehemens) but he seems not to be quite satisfied with his own explanation, for he refers us to Otfred's poem, as likely to throw a better light upon this subject. I must confess that on looking at the work I have been unable to find any thing that at all bears upon the question.

* The burgonet, as any dictionary will inform the reader, signifies "a sort of helmet." As to the almaine rivets and apernes of mail, I must plead ignorance.

†There are no less than seven festivals of St Peter. Probably the festival here alluded to is that on the day of St. Peter and St. Paul, on the 29th of June, which at one time appears to have been celebrated with no little splendour. Mention has already been made of it incidentally in a previous quotation from Stow.

It is hardly necessary to remind the reader of Shakspeare that harness was formerly used for armour

"Blow, wind! come, wrack,

At least we'll die with harness on our back.”—Macbeth.

jornet of scarlet thereupon and a chain of gold, his henchman following him, his minstrels before him, and his cresset light passing by him, the waits of the city, the mayor's officers for his guard before, all in a livery of worsted or say † jackets party-coloured, the mayor himself well-mounted on horseback, the swordbearer before him in fair armour, well mounted also, the mayor's footmen and the like torchbearers about him, henchmen twain upon great stirring horses following him. The sheriffs' watches come one after the other in like order, but not so large in number as the mayor's, for where the mayor had besides his giant three pageants, each of the sheriff's had besides their giants but two pageants, each their morrice-dance and one henchman, their officers in jackets of worsted or say party-coloured, differing from the mayor's, and each from other, but having harnessed men a great many, &c. This Midsummer Watch was thus accustomed yearly, time out of mind, until the year 1539, the 31st of Henry VIII., in which year on the 8th of May a great muster was made by the citizens at the Mile's end, all in bright armour, with coats of white silk, or cloth and chains of gold, in three great battles, to the number of fifteen thousand, which passed through London to West

* A jornet is a surtout or wrapper, from the French journade, which Roquefort, in his Glossaire de la Langue Romane, interprets "surtout, casaque.”

+ I should hardly have thought this word needed any explanation but that it has pleased Todd in his edition of Johnson's Dictionary to tell us it is deduced from the French soie, and means a thin sort of silk. It is neither so derived nor does it signify any thing of the sort. Say-or sai, as Minshew writes it,-is a sort of fine serge, and comes from the Italian saia, which is well explained in the great Dictionary of the Academy, "spezie di panno lano sottile e leggieri." Minshew at once, and very properly, refers us to SERGE.

‡ i. e. Divisions-a very common use of the word in all our old writers.

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