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Cockle-bread." Young wenches have a wanton sport, which they call moulding of cockle-bread; viz. they get upon a table-board, and then gather up their knees and their coates with their hands as high as they can, and then they wabble to and fro, as if they were needing of dough, and say these words, viz.
My dame is sick and gone to bed,
I did imagine nothing to have been in this but mere wantonnesse of youth; but I find in Burchardus, in his 'Methodus Confitendi,' printed at Colon, 1549, (he lived before the Conquest) one of the articles-on the seventh commandment-of interrogating a young woman is, if she did ever subigere panem clunibus,* and then bake it and give it to one she loved to eat, ut in majorem modum exordesceret amor? So here I find it to be a relique of natural magick, an unlawful philtrum."‡
Upon the margin of Aubrey's manuscript White Kennett adds by way of note to the text,-"In Oxfordshire the maids, when they put themselves into the fit posture, sing thus,
* I must explain this only by paraphrase" did she ever kneed bread by placing herself upon the dough ?"
The passage in Burchard, alluded to by Aubrey, is this-" Fecisti, quod quædam mulieres solent, quæ prosternunt se in faciem, et discopertibus natibus jubent, ut supra nudas nates conficiatur panis, et eo decocto tradunt maritis suis ad comedendum. Hoc ideo faciunt ut plus exardescant in amorem illorum." But this is delicacy itself, compared with some of the questions of the confessional, as given by Burchard, himself a Romish priest, and whose book seems to have been approved of by his church. As to the word cockle, in another part of the same unprinted work, Aubrey adds that "the word, cockle, is an old antiquated Norman word, which signifies'nates,' from a beastly rustic kind of play, or abuse, which was used when I was a schoolboy by a Norman gardener that lived at Downton, near me."
Aubrey's Remains of Gentilisme and Judaisme, MS. fol. British Museum. Landsd. Biblio. No. 231.
My granny is sick, and now is dead,
So too in PEEL'S "Old Wives Tale,"
And thou shalt have some cockle-bread."+
Rocking-Cakes. At Burcester, in Oxfordshire, at a christening, the women bring every one a cake, and present one first to the minister if present. At Wendelbury and other places they bring their cakes at a gossiping, and give a large cake to the father of the child, which they call a Rocking-cake.‡
Bite of Dogs.-The bite of a dog may be cured by applying his skin to the wound. Is not this vulgar error the origin of the proverb, popularly addressed to one who has been drunk but become sober again ?—“ take a hair of the dog that bit you."§
Peel's Works, vol. i. p. 234.
Upon this subject Mr. Dyce, as in so many other instances, has shown his utter incompetency for the task of editor. In his wretched edition of Peel (vol. i. p. 234), he first of all tells us that he does not know what cockell-bread is; next he conjectures, "that it was so called from being made into a particular shape resembling that of a cockle-shell;" then he quotes, on the authority of some female acquaintance, an old nursery rhyme, which ought to have opened his eyes, but which of course failed to do so;
'My grandmother is sick; I wish she was dead
For she taught me the way to make cockelly bread." And lastly he says that it has been suggested to him "that cockell-bread is an error of the press for cocket-bread;" this, however, he does not believe, and because it has nothing to do with the question, he immediately sets about explaining cocket-bread, by the help of Cowel's Law Dictionary.
Aubrey's Remains of Gentilisme and Judaisme, p. 139, folio, MS. Landsdowne Catalogue, in British Museum, No. 231.
§"La morsure du chien se guerit avec son poil appliquè sur la ploie," says Pluquet in his Contes Populaires (p. 39).
OCTOBER is from the Latin without any change, and is thus designated as having been the eighth month from March. On the subject of the suffix I have already spoken.
By our Saxon ancestors it was called Wynmonat,* i.e. Wine-month; and Winterfulleth, or Winterfyllith↑
Even at this late period the Flora is not altogether without interest. The Autumnal Crocus, or Saffron, now blows, its flowers being of a purplish pink colour, and so abundant was it at one time about Saffron Walden in Essex, that the place is said to have derived its name from that circumstance. The Guernsey Lily to, (Amaryllis Sarniensis) also blows in the open borders, exhibiting the
* VERSTEGAN, p. 49. Edit. 1655.
+ WINTERFULLETH, or WINTERFYLLITH, is a compound word of winter, and full, because from the full moon of this month the winter seems to take its beginning; for our Saxon ancestors divided the year into two principal sections,-namely, winter and summer; the six months which included the longest days, being their summer, the other six making up their winter.-" Principaliter annum totum in duo tempora, hyemis videlicet et æstatis, dispartiebant; sex illos menses, quibus longiores noctibus dies sunt, æstati tribuendo, sex reliquos hyemi. Unde et mensem, quo hyemalia tempora incipiebant, WINTERFYLLITH appellabant, composito novo nomine ab hyeme et plenilunio, quia videlicet a plenilunio ejusdem mensis hyems sortiretur initium." BEDE OPERA-De Temporum Ratione, cap. xiii. p. 68. tom. ii
intensest and most brilliant crimson. Nor have many other flowers even up to the middle of the month entirely deserted us. If the weather continues tolerably fine we shall still have Asters, Marigolds, African Marigolds, Chrysanthemums, Zinnias, Dahlias, and many others of the æstival plants, still in flower, besides the stumps of old stocks, and the occasional appearance of late-sown poppies. At the same time the forest-foliage presents such a variety of tints as we shall in vain look for at any other season.
By the middle of the month few æstival plants are seen except those just mentioned; but the autumnal Flora still prevails, and the Michaelmas Daisy (Aster Tradescanti) with a few others of the same sort are still abundant. The fungi too are common, their appearance, however, greatly depending upon the weather. They are sure to spring up plentifully at any period of the Autumn when wet weather succeeds to drought. The Agaricus Floccosus, one of the most regular as to the time of its first appearance, is generally found springing up about the roots of apple-trees in orchards and other places. That beautiful kind too, the Agaricus Muscarius, with its crimson and spotted pileus makes a splendid figure amongst the grass, though indeed it has often appeared before, and so early as the end of August.
Nothing can be more striking to him that loves nature than the changes of this month; the China Asters, African Marigolds, Stocks, Starworts, and many of the autumnal, as well as what remains of the æstival Flora seem about to bid farewell to the year; and, as the gales come on, the woods are stript of their leaves, and every thing has the barren look of winter, little else remaining to us but the Virginia Creeper (Hedera quinquefolia), and perhaps a few late roses and wall-flowers be seen. This last change does not take place all at once; the ash is among the first
to cast its leaves; the elm becomes greatly thinned; and the foliage of the poplar begin to fall fast. The beech, the hornbeam, and the oak, retain their leaves the longest, and in a measure keep them throughout the winter. Of the fruit trees, cherries, apples, and pears, now become bare, while the mulberry keeps its green foliage to the last, and frequently does not lose its leaves till the coming of the first sharp frost. Then they may often be seen dropping down in a shower on the rise of the sun after a frosty night, just as if they had been shaken from the tree by some sudden impulse from without.
In the garden the autumnal fruits of various kinds are ripened and ready to be gathered. Apples, pears, peaches, and nectarines are in full season; the over-ripe fruit drops from the damson-tree; the red berries from the mountain-ash fall apace; and the acorns cover the ground and mingle with the withered leaves. Even some very late kinds of grapes may now be seen ripening if the weather chances to be tolerably mild, and other sorts are still hanging on the vines. The sowing of wheat too is generally carried on this month unless the weather should prove too wet, in which case the farmer ploughs up the stubble-fields for winter-fallows and the sowing is deferred till later in the year. Acorns are sown at this season, and fruit, as well as forest, trees are planted.
On the first of the month pheasant shooting coinmences, and hare-hunting a little later, though indeed for this last sport there seems to be no fixed time, as it often begins in September, the state of the fields regulating the date of its commencement. Fox-hunting properly begins on, or near, the 13th.
About this time sheep are turned into the stubble-lands, where they feed on the herbage that grows among the old corn-stalks; and the hogs may be seen rambling about in all directions after acorns, beechmast, and