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CURIOSITIES OF LITERATURE
BOOK OF THE MONTHS.
GEORGE SOANE, B.A.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
E. CHURTON, 26, HOLLES-STREET.
CURIOSITIES OF LITERATURE.
THERE can be no doubt whatever that the English name of this month is derived from the Latin Junius, though in regard to the etymology of the latter the opinions of the classic writers are exceedingly various and contradictory. Macrobius * tells us that it was so named either
* Junius Maium sequitur, aut ex parte populi, ut supra diximus, nominatus; aut, ut Cincius arbitratur, quod Junonius apud Latinos ante vocitatus, diuque apud Aricinos, Prænestinosque, hac appellatione in fastos relatus sit ; adeo ut, sicut Nisus in commentariis fastorum dicit, apud majores quoque nostros hæc appellatio mensis diu manserit ; sed post, detritis quibusdam literis, ex Junonio Junius dictus sit ; nam et ædes Junoni Monetæ Kalend. Juniis dedicata est. Nonnulli putaverunt, Junium mensem a Junio Bruto, qui primus Romæ consul factus est, nominatum, quod hoc mense, id est Kalendis Juniis, pulso Tarquinio, sacrum Carnæ Deæ in Cælio monte voti reus fecerit. Hanc Deam vitalibus humanis præesse credunt. Ab ea denique petitur, ut jecinora et corda, quæque sunt intrinsecus viscera, salva conservet, et quia cordis beneficio, cujus dissimulatione Brutus habebatur idoneus emendationi publici status, exstitit, hanc Deam, quæ vitalibus præest, templo sacravit, quód his maxime rebus vires corporis roborantur; nam et Kalendæ Juniæ fabariæ vulgo vocantur, quia hoc mense adulte fabæ divinis rebus adhibentur.-Aur. Macrobii Saturnaliorum, lib. i. p. 260, vol. i.
from Juniores, the younger part of the Romans, to whom Romulus assigned the defence of the city, or from the old word Junonius; or from Junius Brutus, because in this month Tarquinius being driven froin the city, he in pursuance of his vow dedicated a temple upon Mount Cælius to Carna, the Goddess of the Hinge (Cardinis) who, according to Ovid, by her power opens or shuts all things.*
Amongst our Saxon ancestors this month had various names, and all of them much more appropriate than the one we have borrowed, and retained, from the Romans. It was called Weydmonath, from the German weiden, to pasture;+ Medemonath; Midsumormonath; Braeckmunath, or Brachmonat, i. e. breaking the soil, from the Saxon bræcan; Solstitialis; Woedmoneth, i. e. weed-month; and Lida-erra.
The month opens with an abundant Flora, the vernal flowers being gradually succeeded by those which we may call the solstitial the two Yellow Day Lilies ; the
* Prima dies tibi, Carna, datur; Dea cardinis hæc est ;
P. Ovidii N. Fastorum, lib. vi. 1. 101. The poet then goes on to detail the amours of Janus and Carna, but they are neither very delicate, nor particularly worth repeating.
+ Dr. Sayers, in speaking of this name, has fallen into a most unaccountable blunder; he says “ weyd is probably from the German weyden, to go about, as if to pasture." (Disquisitions, p. 255.) Weyden, or as it is now written, weiden, signifies to feed, to pasture ; and the “ going about,” which he imagines to be the real signification of the verb, is nothing more than a necessary concomitant of the action. No doubt the sheep while feeding, or pasturing, are constantly in motion.
† “I can find no satisfactory account of the word Lida ; Lida, or Litha, signifies in the Icelandic tongue, to move, or pass over (Gloss. to Soemundar Edda); and I am in some degree supported by Bede's remarks on this month, in conjecturing that Lida implies the sun's passing its greatest height, and that LIDA ERRA consequently means the first month of the sun's descent. Lida is by some deemed the same as set-lift or smooth-air.”Sayer's Disquisitions, p. 255.
earliest, or Orange Lily; the Yellow Flag, with various other species of Iris. The Papaver Argemone, the earliest of our field poppies, is now in blow. The Monkey Poppy ; pinks of all kinds; and roses, both wild and of the garden, come forth in profusion ; while the peonies are going out, the tulips fading, and the blossoms on the latest fruit-trees fall off and are succeeded by a full green foliage. The yellow colour of the fields still remains, and continues till the grass is mowed towards the end of the month, the buttercup (Ranunculus acris) being the latest of this genus.
As the month advances we have Clover in blossom, both white and red; beans and peas putting forth their blossoms : gooseberries ; the Madock Cherry, commonly called the May-Duke ; cauliflowers and various sorts of garden vegetables; the corn-flag or sword-lily; the Indian Pink in full flower; and a variety of sea-plants, such as the Sea-barley (Hordeum maritimum), Sulphurwort (Pucedanum Officinale), Loose Sedge in salt marshes (Carex Distans), the Sea-Plantain (Plantago Maritima), among rocks on the coast; the Slender-leafed Buffonia (Buffonia Tenuifolia), the Tassel Pondweed (Ruppia Maritima) in saltwater ditches the common Alkanet (Anchusa Officinalis), the Narrow-leafed Pepperwort (Lepidum Ruderale), the Roman Nettle (Urtica Pilulifera), in sea-wastes ;
the Black Saltwort (Glaux Maritima), on muddy shores; the Sea Chickweed (Arenaria Peplaides), and the common Sea-Rocket (Bunias Cakile), on sandy shores ; and the Perfoliate Cabbage (Brassica Orientalis), among maritime rocks. As the month still farther progresses, St. Barnaby's Thistle, the Corn-Rose or Red Poppy, the Doubtful or Pale Red-Poppy, begin to flower and arrive at their greatest abundance about the sulstice, from which time they continue to blow all the summer ; Pinks ; Sweet Williams ; Canterbury Bells ; Deadly Night-Shade ; Jas