« ПредишнаНапред »
the church. Surely then it is not pronouncing a harsh or unfounded judgment if we say that the whole web of popery is thickly interwoven with paganism, and has at least as much of Heathen fancies in its fabric as of the simple code of Christ. Nothing can be more direct to this purpose than the evidence of the prefect Symmachus in his touching and beautiful appeal to the Emperor Valentinian for the restoration of the ancient altars. †
Besides being one of the four quarterly days, Michaelmas is distinguished as the general time for the election of civic magistrates throughout the country.
* "Nunc ex Papismo angeli duo cuique assident; bonum his conceptis precantur verbis―
Angele, qui meus est custos pietate superna,
MORESINI PAPATUS, p. 10. Symmachus, who flourished in the fourth century, was a Roman senator, strongly attached to the religion of his forefathers, and a vehement opponent of Christianity. His address to the Emperor Valentinian the Second for the re-establishment of the vestals and of the altar of Victory is still extant in his letters (Epist. 54, lib. x. in the Paris 4to. of 1604—Epist. 61, lib. x. in the edition of the same, by Scioppius, 1608.) Notwithstanding the unfavourable opinion pronounced of his writings by Gibbon, I must confess that this appeal to Valentinian in behalf of the unfashionable faith appears to me both sensible and impassioned, and I am fully borne out in my judgment by Ambrosius, who, while vigorously endeavouring to repel his arguments, yet does justice to his genius. "I reply to him," says the bishop, "not as being doubtful of your faith, O Emperor, but from prudent caution, and only begging that you will not take elegance of language for force of things." And a little farther on he says 66 aurea est lingua sapientium litteratorum."-Golden is the tongue of the learned wise.-(S. AMBROSII Libellus Sec: contra Relationem Symmachi.) But let the reader take the following extract from Symmachus, and judge how far such a writer deserves the sneer of Gibbon, that his "luxuriancy consists of barren leaves without fruits, and even without flowers."
"Noster autem labor pro clementia vestra ducit excubias; cui enim magis commodat quòd instituta majorum, quòd patriæ jura et fata de
The Lord Mayor of London* is now elected for the ensuing year, and the two sheriffs, who have been previously chosen, are solemnly sworn into office.
The custom of eating geese upon this day has been a sad puzzle to antiquarians, and to the present time no reasonable cause has been assigned for it. Some have sug
fendimus, quam temporum gloriæ, quæ tum est major cùm vobis contra morem parentum intelligitis nil licere? Repetimus igitur religionum statum 'qui Reip. diu profuit. Certe numerentur principes utriusque sectæ, utriusque sententiæ; proximus eorum ceremonias patrum coluit, recentior non removit. Si exemplum non facit religio veterum, faciat dissimulatio proximorum. Quis ita familiaris est barbaris ut aram Victoriæ non requirat? Cauti in posterum sumus, et tristium rerum ostenta vitamus; reddatur tantùm nomini honor qui numini denegatus est. Multa Victoriæ debet æternitas vestra, et adhuc plura debebit. Aversantur hanc potestatem quibus nihil profuit; vos amicum triumphis patrocinium nolite deserere. Cunctis potentia ista votiva est. Nemo colendam neget quam profitetur optandam. Quod si numinis non esset justa curatio, saltim ornamentis Curiæ decuit abstineri. Præstate, oro vos, ut ea quæ pueri suscepimus, senes posteris relinquamus. Consuetudinis amor magnus est."
Now, so far from there being any of that luxuriance, which Gibbon reprehends, the style is extremely terse, simple, and energetic. The corruptions of the text are evident, but I have not ventured to touch them.
* It would seem that in former times the Lord Mayor of London was always elected, or supposed to be elected, from one of the twelve privileged companies. If he did not actually belong to any of them, the difficulty was got over by translating him, as it were, to one of the twelve; nor was the custom discontinued till the time of Sir Brook Watson, in 1796. Pennant, when speaking of the Mercers, observes, "this company is the first of the twelve, or such who are honoured with the privilege of the Lord Mayor's being elected out of one of them. The name by no means implied originally a dealer in silks; for mercery included all sorts of small wares, toys, and haberdashery. But as numbers of this opulent company imported great quantities of rich silks from Italy, the name became applied to the company and all dealers in silk." PENNANT'S LONDON, p. 440. 4to. Lond. 1793.
gested that it may have arisen from the fact of geese just now being in high season; but this seems to be rather a cutting of the knot than an untying of it. That, like most of our other customs and festivals, it has been derived from Paganism, I have no doubt whatever, though the connecting link in the chain is now lost to us. The goose, as we all know, was amongst the Egyptians sacred to Isis and Osiris,* and amongst the Romans to Junof and Priapus, and when we consider that in so many instances we find the prototypes of the saints in the Gods and Goddesses of heathendom, there seem to be strong grounds for suspecting that Saint Michael is here only occupying the place, and receiving the honours of some pagan deity." When St. Eloy, who is the saint for smiths,
"Nec defensa juvant Capitolia, quo minus anser
Det jecur in lances, Inachi lauta, tuas."
Ovidii Fastor. lib. i. v. 453.
"Isidi anser propria victima dicata fuit." Alexander ab AlexandroGENIALES DIES. Lib. iii. cap. xii. p. 705., tom. i. Lugd. Bat. 1673. Juvenal too assures us that Osiris was particularly fond of goose, and when offended by the ladies in certain delicate matters was to be bought off by the sacrifice of a fat one, and her anger thus completely mollified:
"Illius lacrymæ meditataque murmura præstant
Ut veniam culpæ non abnuat, ansere magno
Scilicet, et tenui popano corruptus Osiris.”
Satira vi., v. 540.
+ "Anseres non fefellere, quibus sacris Junoni in summa inopia cibi tamen abstinebatur."-T. Livii. Hist. lib. v. cap. 48.
Here we find that the people would starve rather than eat a piece of goose, leaving Juno to consume it by her deputies, the priest. The modern mode of folks devouring their own geese is a great improvement upon ancient manners.
"Occidisti Priapi delicias, anserem omnibus matronis acceptissimum."-T. Petronii Arbitri Satyricon, cap. 137. The fact is, that the goose had the same imaginary qualities amongst the profligate Romans that our elder dramatists attributed to eryngo and other roots of the same kind.
doth hammer his irons, is he not instead of God Vulcan ? And do they not give the same titles to St. George, which in old times were given to Mars? And do they not honour St. Nicholas after the same manner that pagans honoured God Neptune? And when St. Peter is made a porter, doth he not represent God, Janus? Nay, they would faine make the angell Gabriel beleeve that he is God Mercury. And is not Pallas the Goddesse of arts and sciences represented to us by St. Katherine? And have they not St. Hubert, the God of hunters instead of Diana? -which office some give to St. Eustace.-And when they apparell John Baptist in a lion's skin, is it not to represent Hercules unto us? And is not St. Katherine commonly painted with a wheele as they were wont to paint Fortune?"*
Mr. Douce has imagined that the custom originated from Queen Elizabeth's receiving the news of the defeat of the Spanish Armada, while dining off a goose, and hence that which had been merely casual grew into an observance. The story, sufficiently improbable in itself, is rendered absolutely impossible by the fact of the custom having existed so early as the time of Edward the Fourth. -" John de la Hay took of William Barnaby, Lord of Lastres, in the county of Hereford, one parcel of land of the demesne lands, rendering therefore twenty-pence a year, and one goose fit for the lord's dinner, on the feast of St. Michael, the archangel, suit of court, and other services thereupon due, &c."†
* WONDERS OF THE WORLD, p. 308, as quoted by Brand, vol. i. p. 203.
Joannes de la Hay cepit de Will. Barnaby, domino de Lastres in com. Heref. unum parcellum terræ de terris dominicalibus. Reddend. inde per annum xxd, et unam aucam habilem pro prandio domini in festo Sancti Michaelis, archangeli, sectam curiæ, et alia servitia inde debita &c. Rot. Cur. 10 Edw. IV.-Blount, 8. See Beckwith's edition of the Fragmenta Antiquitatis, p. 412.
A singular custom connected with this day prevails at Kidderminster in Worcestershire. "On the election of a bailiff the inhabitants assemble in the principal streets to throw cabbage-stalks at each other. The town-house bell gives signal for the affray. This is called lawless hour. This done for it lasts an hour-the bailiff elect and corporation, in their robes, preceded by drums and fifes, (for they have no waits) visit the old and new bailiff, constables, &c. &c., attended by the mob. In the mean time the most respectable families in the neighbourhood are invited to meet and fling apples at them on their entrance. I have known forty pots of apples expended at one house."*
In St. Kilda, one of the Scottish isles, it was a custom at one time upon this day to bake a large loaf, or cake rather, compounded of various ingredients, which had its name from St. Michael and was said in popular parlance to belong to him. Every one in the family, even to strangers and domestics, had his allotted portion of this cake, by the eating of which he testified his respect to the archangel, and laid a claim to his protection.†
In the island of Barray they have a similar custom, but attended with other ceremonies. Previously to eating of the cake they form a cavalcade in the village of Kilbar, and march about the church. ‡
Finally, to conclude our account of this month, there was a superstition attached to it, that "so many dayes old the moon is on Michaelmass day, so many floods after."§
* GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE for May, 1790, vol. 60, part ii. p.
+ See Macaulay's Hist. of St. Kilda, p. 22, 8vo. London, 1764. See Martin's Western Islands of Scotland, p. 100, 8vo, London, 1716.
§ Stevenson's TWELVE MONTHS, p. 44. 4to. London, 1661.