« PreviousContinue »
Poetical Moods and Tenses.
Let us examine the moods and tenses of the poets.
He who plays off the amiable in verse, and writes to display his own fine feelings, is in the sentimental or indicative mood. Didactic poets are in the imperative, satirists in the potential, your amourist in the optative. The classification is defective in the other moods.
The fame of those who write personal satire is in the present tense—that of most poets in the imperfect, the great ones who are dead, in the perfect—the great ones who are living must be content to have theirs in the future.
The Sphinr. We believe the sphinx to be the symbol of the sun at the summer solstice, precisely at the point where the last degree of Leo meets the first degree of Virgo. The head of a woman, joined to the body of a lion, seems to justify this explanation of the symbol.- We should then place the sun at the summer solstice, when the zodiac was constructed, pretty nearly where he is now at the autumnal equinox.--Edin. Review, vol. xviii.
Sun and Moon.
The sun of the Anglo-Saxons was a female deity, and their moon was of the male sex. The same peculiarity of genders obtained in the ancient northern language. Edda Semundi, p. 14. It is curious, that in the
passage of an Arabian poet, cited by Pocock, in not. ad Carmen Tograi, p. 13, we meet with a female sun and masculine moon.
The distich is
Nec masculinum lunæ gloria. In the Saxon treatise on the vernal equinox, we have the peculiar genders of these bodies displayed, “ When the sun goeth at evening under this earth,
then is the earth's breadth between us and the sun; so that we have not her light till she rises up at the other end.” Of the moon, it says, “ always he turns his ridge to the sun.”. “ The moon hath no light but of the sun, and he is of all stars the lowest." Cotton MS. Tib. A. III. p. 63.
Hocus-Pocus and Old Nick. These were two personages feared in the North, in whose names we may probably see the origin of the two expressions above. One was Ochus Bochus, a magician and demon; the other was Neccus, a malign deity, who frequented the waters. If any perished in whirlpools, or by cramp, or bad swimming, he was thought to be seized by Neccus. Steel was thought to expel him, and therefore all who bathed threw some little pieces of steel in the water for that purpose. Verel. Secio. Goth. p. 13.
Bear-baiting. We may infer that bear-baiting was an amusement of some importance to our ancestors, as it is stated in Doomsday-book, among the annual payments from Norwich, that it should provide one bear, and six dogs for the bear.
Æsop's Fables. It is not perhaps generally known that Maximus Planudes, a monk of the fourteenth century, was the writer of the Fables which pass under the name of Æsop,the biography of that illustrious slave generally pre- . fixed to the Fables, is also demonstrably the invention of this writer. Nothing can more strongly prove the natural case and vivacity of style, by which these celebrated productions are distinguished, than the credulous acquiescence with which they appear to have been universally received as genuine till the seventeenth century. Then, indeed, father Vivasor made the fatal discovery, that Æsop, in his supposed life, is frequently made to quote Euripides, who was not born till near a century after his death; and that the Fables not only speak of the Piræus by a name which it did not receive till the days of Themistocles, but also anticipate the
very words of a religious observation, which may be found in the 6th verse of the 4th chapter of St. James's Epistle.
Peg Tankards were invented by the Saxon King Edgar, about the year 965 in order to repress drunkenness, at that time a vice of great prevalence. Drinking cups were ordered to be made of a specific size, and to have certain pins or pegs at stated distances down the side, and severe penalties were exacted of those who presumed to drink at one draught beyond a peg or mark.
Stratford-le-Bow took its name from a stone bridge built there by Maud, queen to Henry I. This was the first stone bridge erected in England; and, says the old Chronicle, “ because it was arched over like a bow, the town was af. terwards called Stratford-le-Bow.
Armour in Churches. “ The custom of hanging up armour in churches,” says Peter Pictaui (chancellor of Paris), arose from the Danish king Canute refusing to wear his crown, after he had rebuked the flattery of his courtiers, but placed the same upon the head of the crucifix at Winchester, where it ever after remained.”
Curious Grant by William the Conqueror. “ I William king, the third yeere
my raygne Give to the Norman hunter, to me that art both life and
deere, The Hop and the Hopton, and all the boundes up and
downe, Under the earth to Hell, above the earth to Heaven, From me, and from mine, to thee, and to thine, As good and as fayre, as ever they mine were, To witness that this is sooth, I bite the white wax with
Before Jugge, Mawde, and Margery, and my youngest
son Harry, For one bow and broad arrow, when I come to hunt
From an old MS. in the Library at Richmond.
Doomsday's Book. « The boke of Bermondsey” says,
" this boke was laid up in the King's Treasury, (which was in the churche of Westminster) in a place called Domus Dei or God's House, and so the name of the boke was therefore called Domus Dei, and since Domes-day.” Howe's Chron. p. 118.
Cardinal Wolsey's Present to Henry VIII. “ When Master Norris was returned, hee (the Cardinal) say'd unto bim, I am sorie that I have no token to send to the king; but if you will, at my request, present the king with this poore foole, I trust hee will accept him; for hee is for a nobleman's pleasure, forsooth worth 1000 pounde: so Master Norris tooke the foole, with whome my Lorde was faine to send sixe of his tallest yeoman, to help him to convey the foole to the court; for the poore foole tooke on like a tyrant rather than hee would have departed from my Lorde, but notwithstanding they conveyed him, and so brought bim to the court, where the king received him verie gladly."
The King's Mews, so called, " for that the king's hawkes were there formerly mewed * and kept."
Derby, Sept. 7, 1811.
TO THE EDITORS OF THE ENQUIRER.
GENTLEMEN, Should the following detached pieces of knowledge be deemed worthy insertion in the Enquirer, they shall be succeeded by others of the same nature. Bocking Academy, Feb. 25, 1811.
* From the obsolete verb “ to mew,” signifying to shut up, to confine, &c. The word mewing, when applied to hawks, signified the casting of the feathers.
Galoshes. This word, though in common use, is not found in Johnson's Dictionary. It signifies outer shoes, which in walking are worn over dress ones, to keep them from the dirt. It is derived from the French galoches, which describes the same articles of wear.
Allodial, or free lands, is derived from odhal, implying freeholds in Norway; the first being merely a transposition of the syllables of the second. Hence fee-odh, feodum, feudal, denoting stipendiary property, a fee being a stipend.
Bumper, a corruption of bon-pere, good-father (i. e.) the
pope, whose health was always drank by the monkes in a full glass after dinner.
Coward. A feudal expression, implying cowherd, for which office a man void of courage was deemed
Poltroon, from pollex truncatus. The inhabitants of France in former days cut off their thumbs to avoid serving in the army. Hence the French word poltroon for coward.
Rap is a very old word in the laws of Canute, signifying robbery or rapine. Hence the expression, “ he snatches all he can rap and ran."
SOLDIERS I suppose derived from the circumstance of
some noblemen among the ancient Gauls being attended by a band of men, called soldurii; who devoted themselves to every hazard in defence of their patron.”
The following quaint conceit of one of our old wri. ters on Queen Elizabeth and Sir Francis Drake, is perhaps not generally known.
O nature, to old England still
Continue these mistakes ;
And for our dux such drakes. “ GREAT CRY AND LITTLE WOOL." This proverb had its rise during the time that plays were performed in the open fields; when it was customary for the devil to appear in character on the stage, shearing the bristles of swine.
(To be continued.)