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THIS month derives its name from the Romans, who so call it in honour of Augustus Cæsar, because he had then first entered upon his consulship, brought three triumphs into the city, subdued Egypt to the Roman dominion, and put an end to the civil war. Prior to that time it had been known as Sextilis, as being the sixth month from March which, I have already observed, was the beginning of the Roman year.*
With the Anglo-Saxons it had the name of ARNMONATH, -Arn signifying, harvest; BARN-MONATH; HARVESTMONATH; and, according to Bede,† WOEDMONATH, or WEIDMONATH, i.e. Weedmonth, a name, which, as we have already seen, was also given to June.‡
* "Augustus deinde est, qui SEXTILIS ante vocatus est, donec honori Augusti daretur ex senatusconsulto." Aur. Macrobii Saturnal: Lib. i. p. 261, 8vo. Bipont, 1788.
† De Temporum Ratione, cap. 13-De Mensibus Anglorum.
It may be as well in this place to notice some peculiarities of the Saxon calendar, which ought perhaps to have been mentioned before. From Bede (De Temporum Ratione, cap. 13), we learn that the Saxons commenced their year on the 25th December, and called it the Mother of Nights-Mædrenech-and probably on account of the ceremonies then celebrated. When it was the common year, they gave three lunar months to each season; when it was the Embolismus they added the superfluous month to the summer, so that then three months were
The Corn now glows in all its golden or yellow hues, and the Amaranth is in full flower, sometimes called Love lies Bleeding, perhaps from the way in which its long spiral red flower-stalks fall down and lie on the ground. There is, however, another species called Princes Feather, with red leaves, the flowers of which are always erect. The holly hock shows itself in all its varieties, and continues blowing till the end of October, while the edges are full of the TOADFLAX with its tall pyramid-spikes of yellow flowers, and remain so till September. The Roundleaved Bellflower, which had begun to open its blossoms in July, now in a few days flowers abundantly, and throughout the whole Autumn decorates dry banks, ruined walls, and
called LIDA, and hence the year was named TRILIDI. In general, they divided the year into two equal seasons, of six months each,— summer and winter-giving the months with the longest days to summer; and those with the shortest to winter. Hence the month, in which the winter-season commenced, was called WINTERFYLLITH, the name being compounded of winter and full moon, because the winter began with the full moon of the same month.
I know not whether any of my readers will thank me for adding, that the Common Year is that which has only twelve lunar months, namely, 354 days-" Communis Annus dicitur qui duodecim tantum lunas, hoc est dies 354, habet." (ISIDORI HISPAL. EPISC. ETYMOL, Lib.vi., cap.17.) while Embolismus is the year which has thirteen lunar months, namely, 364 days. It is so called because it fills up the number of Common Years, to which eleven lunar days are seen to be wanting. The two years may be thus found: if from the fourteenth moon of the preceding to the fourteenth of the following, there are three hundred and sixty four days, then it is the Embolismal year; if three hundred and fifty four, then it is the Common-" Embolismus annus est qui tredecim menses lunares, i.e. 364 dies, habere monstratur. Embolismus autem nomen Græcum est, quod interpretatur Latinè, superaugmentum, eò quòd expleat numerum annorum communium, quibus undecim lunares dies deesse cernuntur. Embolismi autem anni et communes sic inveniuntur. Si enim a decima quarta luna paschæ præcedentis usque ad decimam quartam sequentis, 364 dies fuerint, embolismalis annus est; si 354, communis." Idem, p. 50.
the sides of pastures with its little hanging, light blue flowers. About the middle of the month, the Marvel of Peru, and the China Asters, as well as the Zinnia, and other æstival flowers of this sort are in the height of flowering; then come the Hedge and Field Bindweed St. John's Wort, Field and Musk Mallow, Garden Convolvulus, with many others. But as August declines, the number of plants is sensibly diminished; roses now are fast decaying, though Marygolds, Poppies, Stocks, Wallflowers, Foxgloves, many of the senecious plants, and others which blow all the year round, are still of course in profusion. But while those of the preceding months are thus running fast to seed, very few new ones come to supply their place. To make amends the wastes and commons are covered with heath or ling as with a rich purple mantle; and the low moist lands are adorned with the Gentiana Amarella and the beautiful pink blossoms of the Meadow Saffron. As we advance nearer to the close of the month, a few violets may still be seen, and some of the autumnal species of the genus Amaryllis begin to blow:
In fruits August is particularly rich. We have in succession Apricots, Peaches, Nectarines, and Plums; and a few early Pears begin to ripen, while Currants, Gooseberries, and Strawberries are on the decline. In fact it may be observed that all the Solstitial fruits are either gone or rapidly passing away, and we have fairly come into the season of the Estival Pomona. Towards the close of the month, Barley becomes ripe, a few early apples are fit for the table, Melons, Blackberries, Bilberries, Dogberries, Mu berries, and Walnuts, abound; and, what is of yet more importance, we have now the most usual time for harvest, though it may occasionally happen in some counties that the corn is not carried till the middle of September.
The Insect tribe, as a natural consequence of the month's productive powers, is also abundant. The Lady Bird or Lady Cow is very common, and, though often slandered by ignorance as being the cause of blights, it is in truth their greatest enemy, for both in its perfect and larva state it feeds upon the Aphis, which is itself the blight in question. Nor is it less useful in the hop-countries, as it there destroys the blight so injurious to the hop, which is gathered about the middle of the month. The same good however can not be said of the Harvest Bug, which in some of our southern counties is particularly troublesome,or of the flies which at this time abound everywhere ; and they are soon joined by the yet more annoying array of wasps. Now too the Mole burrows; and the Glow-worm, the Solitary Bee, and the White Moth make their appearance; the Tabanus Pluvialis begins his formidable attack on the cattle, piercing their skins with his proboscis and causing severe inflammation, while the beautiful Dragon Fly, (Libellula) though perfectly harmless, bears all the blame under the name of Horse-Stinger. We next begin to miss the Swifts (Hirundo apus), which now migrate, though it is not ascertained to what countries they go upon leaving Europe.
The month is about three parts over, and the Earwig and other insects of the kind are numerous in places where vines or creeping plants are nailed against the walls. Soon afterwards we find Lapwings congregate, Martins and Swallows assemble in flocks, and Linnets, Sparrows, and other birds are seen in abundance, while the air swarms with Butterflies. The Grasshoppers sing less and less every day, and with the end of the month the best river-fishing ceases.
Gule of August.-Lammas Day.-St. Peter ad Vincula.(August 1st). The first of these names has been a source of much trouble to etymologists and antiquarians.
can Gule possibly mean? Blount tells us that it was named GULE from the Latin Gula, a throat; and he refers us to Durandus, who says nothing at all about the derivation of Gule, but who, while giving many excellent reasons for the day being dedicated to St. Peter ad Vincula, tells a tale that inferentially may seem to some to bear out his opinion.-"Quirinus the Tribune having a daughter with a diseased throat-filiam gutturosam-she at the command of Pope Alexander, who was the sixth from St. Peter, sought the chains with which the apostle had been bound under Nero, and kissed them, whereupon she was made whole." Hence Blount very logically infers that the day" was termed indifferently, either St. Peter's Day ad Vincula, from the instrument that wrought the miracle, or the Gule of August, from that part of the virgin whereon the miracle was wrought."‡
This absurd fancy is well ridiculed by Gebelin, who says that August being the first month of the year with the Egyptians, the first day of it was by them called Gule, and subsequently latinized into Gula.§
* Blount's LAW DICTIONARY-sub voce, Gula.
+ Durandi RATIONALE DIV. OFFIC. Lib. vii. cap. 19, p. 294. Spelman, in his Glossary, follows in the same tract.
In the face of Blount's own explanation, which I have here faithfully given from his Glossary, Brand says-and of course his editor, Sir Henry Ellis, who never enquires into any thing, does not correct him-" Blount tells us that Lammas Day, the first of August, otherwise called the Gule, or Yule, of August, may be a corruption of the British word, Gwyl Awst, signifying the Feast of August." Such a thing may indeed occur in an edition that I have not seen; but, if so it is a flat contradiction of his own words.
§ "Comme le mois d'Août etoit le premier de l'année Egyptienne on en appella le premier jour, Gule; ce mot latinisé fit gula. Nos legendaires surpris de voir ce nom à la tete du mois d'Août, ne s'oub lierent pas; ils en firent la fete de la fille du tribun Quirinus, guerié d'un mal de gorge en baisant les liens de S. Pierre dont on célebre la fète ce jour la."-ALLEGORIES ORIENTALES, Monde Primitif, p. 194 4to. Paris, 1774.