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"You don't seem to answer me, Mister; mayhap
I wish you would let me have Cobbett on Grammar:
The English America's eight parts of speech.
For want of that key, how I sigh when I miss
-"Yes, a craw full."
-" Jane."-" Have you dined?"
"I've an item of that."-" Aye?"—" I hope she's not awful." "Is your son his own boss?"" Yes, he keeps by that hedge." "How's his health?"-" Mighty grand, and his spirits are hedge! He bought his own store by an elegant trick,
At a lag."- -"How's his bus'ness?"-" Progressively slick.” "Tom's done up, I guess; but he wa'n't much to blame."
"How's Billy?"—" Clear'd out.”—" What an almighty shame!” "I'll bet you a cent. he recovers his station."
"Guess how much he owes me?"-"Ten dollars !"-"Tarnation!" My tea is too weak: I am never so spry
"As when I've a raft of good tea."- No, nor I."
"Ma'am, where does your young one hang out?"—"Doctor Tebb's.
They put him last week in his abbs and his ebbs.
They say the young shaver has got 'em by heart."
"Then he takes to his learning?"— -"Yes, awfully smart."
What a pity it is, that you poor British caitiff's
Don't learn how to talk of our elegant natives.
These flowers of speech, and these graces of style,
Deprived of a tutor to point out the wit
Of these spritely sallies, dumb-founded I sit,
Up and down, at an inn, while the mercantile throng
Can you ride in a cart when the weather is foggy?
Round and round, to get dry, like a goose on a spit?
In telling a tale can you ponder and prose?
Can you spit thro' your teeth? Can you talk thro' your nose?
Of emigrant players, discarded from Drury?
Can you place Poet Barlow above Poet Pope?
Can you wash, at an inn, without towel or soap?
Can you shut either eye to political knavery?
Can you make your white liberty mix with black slavery?
If not, my dear Jeremy, stay where you are!
THE NEW YEAR.
"New year forth looking out of Janus' gate,
And warns the earth with divers colored flowre,
WHETHER or not it was at the commencement of a new year that Horace, two thousand years ago, exclaimed:
"Eheu! fugaces Posthume, Posthume,
he has not informed us; but the exclamation itself was never more appropriate than it would have been at that season. The poet took a right view of the question, at all events; and directed his ideas to the comparatively large portion of time which had fleeted by, out of the span allotted to human life, and did not go with the multitude in its greetings of the term newly commenced. We fear this mode, however, will not entirely do for us to follow; we must, in some respect, yield to the many, and look upon the beginning of the new year as a time of merriment and glee,-of thankfulness for prolonged existence-of wishes to be fulfilled, and pleasures to be enjoyed.
We must not hint at the spirit of prodigality we evince when we forget, amidst our exultations, the additional portion of our little time which has passed away; but act somewhat on the principle of those Indian tribes that make great rejoicings at the deaths of their compatriots, and be merry that our sand of life is so much nearer exhaustion.
Be it so: and let us for a moment overlook the less valued quarter of the picture, and, in compliment to the prevailing taste, admire only the brighter parts. The antiquity of the custom of marking in a peculiar manner the opening of the new year seems beyond written history. The Jews, one of the oldest nations, had their civil and religious years, and celebrated the commencement of the latter. Their civil year began with the month Tisri, or September, and their sacred year with Nisan, a month answering to the latter part of March and the beginning of April. Moses altered the commencement of the Jewish year, which until that time had probably been the same as the Egyptian, and he distinguished it by the feast of the Passover in the first month, Nisan, purposely to commemorate the escape of the Israelites from bondage. Though this festival was not fixed to commence on the first day of the month, it expressly belonged to the opening of the new year. All the first days of the months, or moons, were distinguished beyond the other days; but whether that day in the month Nisan was particularly observed, is unknown. Subsequently, the Jews kept the first day of the first civil month, Tisri; but, as no command to do so appears
* How swiftly, O Posthumus, glide away our flying years.
among the institutes of Moses, its observance was, perhaps, derived from the customs of surrounding nations. Indeed, it might not have been observed by them at all until they became a people dispersed over the world, and no longer preserved their unity as a nation. The Jews have, however, long given splendid entertainments on that day, and passed the compliments of the season to each other, as the Romans did, and as we do now. This seems to shew that the ceremony of greeting each other was adopted by them at a comparatively late period of their history; and was, perhaps, learned from their conquerors after the destruction of Jerusalem.
The Greeks, as most ancient nations did, held the opening of the new year in great esteem. They had festive meetings to celebrate the commencement of the sun's annual course, but these were probably not confined to one day. In fact, the Greek nations differed as to the period when the year began. In the days of Homer they do not appear to have had any settled years and months, though they reckoned time by * At a later era, the Macedonians dated their new year from the autumnal equinox, and called the first month Dius. The old Arcadian year was first composed of three months and afterwards of four. The Acarnanians counted six months to their year. The ancient Athenian year began after the winter solstice; and they calculated by lunar months, while the other nations of Greece used solar ones. Meton reformed the Athenian calendar, and settled the beginning of the after the summer solstice, from the first new moon, being about the latter end of June. The first month was called Hecatombaion, on account of the number of sacrifices offered up at that time of the year. This first month consisted of thirty days: it was anciently named Kronios or Kronion, from Kronia, or the festival of Saturn, the Saturnalia of the Romans, on which our festival of Christmas appears to have been engrafted, though, among the Romans, it seems to have been kept. at a different time of the year from the Greeks. The Spartans chose one of the Ephori, chief magistrate on new year's day, who was changed every year at the new moon after the autumnal equinox, and that year was always called by the name of the magistrate so chosen.
The different years of Romulus, Numa, and Julius Cæsar, among the Romans, with the successive improvements in computing their time adopted by that people are generally known. The first month of the year of Romulus, the latter consisting of ten months, was consecrated to Mars, answering to our March. Numa added two other months, making twelve, namely: January, so called from the God Janus, and February, from Februo, to purify; because the feasts of the purification were celebrated in that month. It may not be irrelevant to observe that, seven hundred years before Christ, the foundation of the Purification, or Candlemas, of the Roman Catholic and English churches may be traced; thus shewing how the heathen customs were transmuted in the early ages into the simple rites of Christianity, and what gross corruptions took place in the Christian worship, which have been continued to our day. Julius Cæsar effected the last improvement in the Roman year, which afterwards differed nothing from that now in New Year's day, or, according to the Roman phraseology, the
* Homer's Odyss. 3. v. 161.
+ See Vol. II. page 609 of this work.
first of the Kalends of January, was remarkable for the compliments people paid to each other, which were literally the same as those now in use, that have descended to us from our ancient intercourse with them. On New Year's day the Agonalia, or festival in honour of Janus, took place. Presents were sent round among friends with wishes of health and prosperity, and such presents were called Strene. Clerks and freedmen also sent presents to their patrons. Gifts were presented by the people to their governors: this custom was as ancient as the time of Romulus. The Roman knights gave a new year's gift annually to Augustus Cæsar and to succeeding emperors. Nero established games on new year's day, which were at first kept privately in his palacegardens in honour of the shaving of his beard, but afterwards they were made public, and celebrated by succeeding emperors with great splendour, under the name of Juvenalia. The magistrates of Rome came into office on new year's day, and the artisans began any new work which they had to perform, but they only worked a little upon it for good fortune, and then laid it aside. No one in Rome was allowed to take fire out of his neighbour's house on that day, nor any iron utensil, nor was any thing to be lent.*
New Year's day as the fete of the Circumcision is only to be traced among Christians to the year 1090; it is likely, therefore, that this was one of the many observances foisted into Christianity by the popes, and councils of that period, and for which there is not a remote authority in the Scriptures. The first day of the year was kept as a festival among Christians as far back as the year 487. They used to run about masked, until forbidden to do so, in the manner of the heathens during the Saturnalia. At a later period, the Saxons observed the day with great jollity and revelling, and the waes-heil bowl was always circulated briskly. Waes-heil, or drinc-heil,† were originally their modes of drinking health on public occasions. Gifts were always presented at this season. The new year's gift in France is even now, in some parts, called Guy-l'an-neuf. In England, on new year's eve the wassail bowl was carried from door to door by the youth of both sexes, filled with a composition of ale, sugar, toast, and roasted crabs or apples, asking presents in return. It has been stated, however, that the presents were not given until the following day. It has also been supposed by some, that wassailing was a religious rite derived from the worship of an idol named Heil, once adored at Cerne, in Dorsetshire; but this appears to have nothing but fable for its foundation. If it had any thing connected with religion about it, the worship of Bacchus must have been the object. Mr. Brand has published a song of six stanzas, in his " Popular Antiquities," which is sung to this day by the lower classes in Gloucestershire, clearly shewing the traditional meaning of the word. The following is the first stanza :
Selden says that bene vos, bene te, bene me, bene nostram etiam Stephanium, in Plautus, and other writers of antiquity, agrees nearly with the custom of drinking 'healths in later days.
† For much on this subject see Brand's Popular Antiquities.
See Vol. II. page 613.
"Wassail! Wassail! all over the town-
We be good fellows all,-I drink to thee! &c. &c.
This shews that the popular sense of the term agrees with Milton's in Comus, which means revelling.
"I should be loath
To meet the rudeness and swill'd insolence
Of such late wassailers."
Shakspeare also makes Hamlet say:—
"The king doth wake to-night, and takes his rouse,
With us, new year's gifts were formerly presented by the husband to the wife, the father to the child, or the master to the servant; and, curious enough, we seem to have reversed the Roman custom, which was generally from the inferior to the superior. The gifts were not confined to particular things, though some were preferred to others, and appear to have been offerings peculiar to the season, and made more for ceremony's sake, than for a token of remembrance, or for value. An orange stuck full of cloves was one of this class. Eggs dyed of different colours were also sent as presents, particularly red ones; which was the favourite colour of the Celtic nations. It is remarkable that a similar custom prevailed in Persia at the beginning of the last century, when they celebrated the commencement of their solar year by a feast, at which they gave each other coloured eggs. Verses in the shape of compliment or congratulation were formerly sent as new year's gifts, and were, consequently, plenty enough during the season. An old tract, treating of this custom, says, "The poets get mightyly that day (new year's day) by their pamphlets, for a hundred elaborate lines shall be lesse esteemed then in London than a hundred of Wansfleet oysters at Cambridge."
The English nobility formerly sent the king a purse of gold, as a new year's gift; a custom derived, without doubt, from that of the Roman knights, to the emperors before-mentioned. Among our records of singular presents made on that day, is the gift of a Testament, by bishop Latimer, to king Henry VIII. splendidly bound, and having marked upon it," Fornicatores et adulteros judicavit Dominus." It is wonderful that the good bishop, who certainly did not rank with many of later times in courtliness, but thus fearlessly pursued the duties of his calling, should have been reserved for the vengeance of the bloody bigot Mary, after such an act of faithfulness to that tyrant. The gift formerly presented on the opening of the new year by the tenantry to their lord, was a capon. Pins were, also, on their first invention, deemed acceptable new year's gifts to the fair sex.
The Law Society of Lincoln's-Inn, as they were formerly great