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proof that such weakness was not confined to the people, we have Edward the Fourth putting off his coronation to a Monday because the preceding Sunday happened to be Childermass Day.*
The lawyers of Lincoln's Inn appear to have kept this feast with ceremonies peculiar to themselves; but Dugdale's account is so concise-as if writing on a subject familiar at the time to every one-we now can make out little more than that there was a king of their revels called the King of Cockneys, and had been a Jack Straw, who with all his followers was in his day forbidden. The whole passage is curious and well worth transcribing as indicative of the manners of the time: "The first order wherewith I have met, which maketh any mention of these solemnities in this House was in 9 H. 8, it being then agreed and ordained, that he who should after that time be chosen King on Christmass Day ought then to occupy the said room if he were present; and in his absence the Marshall for the time being, by the advice of the Utter Barristers,† present to name another.
"And for learning of young gentlemen to do service, that the Marshal should sit as king on New Year's Day, and have like service as on Christmas Day; and the Master of the Revell during dinner time supply the Marshal's
* See FENN'S Paston Letters, with the note. Letter v.-Edward IV. vol. i. p. 234.
+"UTTER BARRASTERS (Jurisconsulti) are such who for their long study and great industry bestowed upon the knowledge of the common law are called out of their contemplation to practice, and in the view of the world to take upon them the protection and defence of clients. In other countries they are called Licentiati in Jure. They are called UTTER BARRASTERS, i. e. pleaders ouster the bar, to distinguish them from Benchers, or those who have been readers, who are sometimes admitted to plead within the bar, as the king's, queen's, or prince's counsel are." BLOUNT'S LAW DICTIONARY.
"Moreover that the King of Cockneys on Childermasse Day should sit and have due service; and that he and all his officers should use honest manner and good order, without any wast or destruction-making in wine, brawn, chely,* or other vittaills; as also that he and his marshal, butler, and constable-marshal should have their lawful and honest commandments by delivery of the officers of Christmass; and that the said King of Cockneys, ne none of his officers medyll neither in the buttry, nor in the Stuard of Christmass his office, upon pain of xis for every such medling. And lastly that Jack Straw and all his adherents should be thenceforth utterly banisht, and no more to be used in this house, upon pain to forfeit for every time five pounds, to be levied on every fellow hapning to offend again this rule.†
That the custom of was-hael prevailed among the heathen Saxons is abundantly clear, but the introduction of Christianity did not at all tend to its abolition, though
* Chely, from the Latin, chele, is here used for shell-fish in general.
† SIR W. DUGDALE'S ORIGINES JURIDICALES, p. 247. Folio: London, 1666.-In those days every amusement and indulgence was granted to the law-students, possibly with the idea of attracting others to a pursuit in itself so little inviting. Masks, and revels,—another name for dances-were not only permitted at certain seasons, but enjoined; or, as Dugdale tells us, "they were thought very necessary and much conducing to the making of gentlemen more fit for their books at other times." If the young lawyers neglected this essential part of their profession they were visited with pains and penalties well calculated to set all their legs in motion, though one would scarcely have imagined that compulsion in such a case could be at all requisite. By an order made 6th Feb. 7th Jac. it appears that the Under-Barristers were by decimation put out of commons, for example's sake, because the whole bar offended by not dancing on Candlemass Day preceding, according to the antient order of this society, when the judges were present; with this, that if the like fault were committed afterwards, they should be fined or disbarred." Idem,
it quickly gave the practice a religious character, and the wassel-bowl, placed on the tables of abbots at the upper end of the refectory to be circulated at their discretion, now assumed the honourable appellation of Poculum Charitatis. In those days the liquor it contained was sometimes Metheglin or Mead, but more frequently Hippocras, that is wine spiced and sweetened. To these succeeded the Lamb's-wool already mentioned; the 'master of the house, having first drunk of the capacious bowl, handed it to his nearest neighbour, who in turn passed it to him that sate next, and thus it went round till the merry chiming of the village bells warned them all that they had drunk the Old Year out and the New Year in. The custom, mutatis mutandis, still exists in many parts of the country, and even among some classes in the metropolis.*
The wassail bowl not only formed a principal feature in the evening's banquet, but it was made a means amongst the humbler classes of obtaining little presents in money from their wealthy neighbours. The young women at an early hour of the evening would go about singing from house to house with a large bowl of spiced ale, a custom which has afforded Selden a happy illustration when speaking of papal gifts—“ the Pope in sending relicks to princes does as wenches do by their wassels at New-Year's Tide; they present you with a cup, and you must drink of a slabby stuff; but the meaning is, you must give them moneys, ten times more than it is worth." +
A similar custom existed in Cumberland among the children, who went the round of the houses with a ditty
* There is a very interesting paper on this subject by Milner in the 11th volume of the Archæologia, p. 419.
+ Table-Talk-The Pope, p. 43. 4to. London, 1689.
craving the bounty," they were wont to have in old king Edward's days." Hutchinson, who is the narrator of this custom,* then adds, "There is no tradition whence this custom arose; the donation is twopence, or a pye, at every house. We have to lament that so negligent are the people of the morals of youth, that great part of this annual salutation is obscene and offensive to chaste ears. It has certainly been derived from the vile orgies of heathens."
NEW YEAR'S EVE-SINGIN-E'EN; December 31st.-The last of these names is peculiar to Fife, and is supposed by Jamieson to be derived from the carols sung on this evening.†
To this day also belongs the Hogmanay, Hogmenay, or Hagmena, which has been supposed, and not without some appearance of reason, to be a corruption of a Druid rite, while the word itself would seem to have come to us from Normandy. Gue, or Guy is the Celtic name for oak, and Keysler tells us that on the 31st of December the boys and youths go about the towns and villages, begging for gifts, while by way of wishing a happy New-Year they cry, "Au Guy L'An Neuf— To the Mistletoe, the New Year's come;' by which word they designate not only the season but the gift received." Others however
* HUTCHINSON'S HISTORY OF CUMBERLAND, vol. i. p. 570, note. 4to. Carlisle. 1794.
JAMIESON'S ETYMOLOGICAL DICTIONARY OF THE SCOTTISH LAN
"Quotannis pridie Calendas Januarias pueri atque adolescentes vicos villasque obeunt, carmine stipem petentes sibique atque aliis, pro voto in exordio novi anni exclamantes Au GUY L'AN NEUF; h. e. ad viscum, novus annus adest,' qua voce etiam non solum tempus illud, sed et donum acceptum denominant."—ANTIQUITATES SEPTENTRIONALES ET CELTICE, A. J. G. Keysler.-De Visco Druidum. p. 305. 12mo. Hannoveræ, 1720. The word is explained in a similar way by Carpentier in his continuation of Du Cange-" Haguillenne: Présent qu'on faisoit aux jeunes gens la veille du nouvel an,
have assigned a very different origin to this word, deriving it from ǎyia μývŋ i. e. sacred month, which according to them was the name given to December by the monks and friars, who used on the last day of the year to go about begging, while they recited a kind of carol, every verse of which was introduced by the phrase, ayıα μývŋ. This they say was in allusion to the birth of our Saviour.* It
may be so; but here are many assertions without the
shadow of a proof, and after all the explanation seems too far fetched to be true.
In Scotland the custom prevailed till very lately, if indeed it has ever ceased entirely to exist, of distributing sweet cakes and a particular kind of sugared bread for several days before and after the new year; and on the last night of the old year, especially called Hagmenai, the social meetings made a point of remaining together till the clock struck twelve, when they all rose up, kissed. each other, and wished a happy new year around. Children, and others, went about for several nights from house to house in guisarts, or guisards, that is to say in masquerade disguises, singing at the same time;
ou de certaines fêtes de l'annee," gifts made to young people on the eve of the New Year, or on certain other annual festivals.-So too Cotgrave : "Au guy l'an neuf; the voice of countrey people begging small presents, or new-yeare's gifts in Christmas; an ancient tearme of rejoicing derived from the Druids who were wont the first of January to goe into the woods, where having sacrificed and banqueted together they gathered misletoe, esteeming it excellent to make beasts fruitfull, and most soveraigne against all poison."
The word thus spelt certainly does not seem to come very near our Hagmena; but then it should be recollected that it was not always so written; in Touraine they say, Aguilanneu; in Spain, Aguinaldo ; in Lower Normandy, Hoguinanno; which words differ well nigh as much from each other as they do from the term in use amongst ourselves.
See GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE for June, 1790, p. 499, vol. Ix.