Every-Day Book


January 6.

Epiphany. { Close holiday at all public offices except Stamp, Customs, and Excise.

St. Melanius. St. Peter. St. Nilammon.

St. Peter was a disciple of Gregory the Great, the first abbot of St. Augustine's monastery at Canterbury, and drowned in 608 while proceeding on a voyage to France. According to Cressy, the inhabitants buried his body without knowing anything about him, till "a heavenly light appeared every night over his sepulture," when they held an inquest and a count Fumert buried him in the church of Boulogne. From a quotation in Patrick, it appears that a weasel who gnawed his robe was found dead upon it for his sauciness.


The Rev. Thomas Dudley Fosbroke, M. A. F. A. S., &c. whose "Encyclopædia of Antiquities" has been already cited from, is the author of "British Monachism, or, Manners and Customs of the Monks and Nuns of England," 4to. 1817; a most erudite work, wherein he gives an account, from Du Cange, of the Feast of the Star, or Office of the Three Kings, a catholic service performed on this day. "Three priests, clothed as kings, with their servants carrying offerings, met from different directions of the church before the altar. The middle one, who came from the east, pointed with his staff to a star: a dialogue then ensued; and after kissing each other, they began to sing, 'Let us go and inquire;' after which the precentor began a responsory, 'Let the Magi come.' A procession then commenced, and as soon as it began to enter the nave, a crown like a star, hanging before the cross, was lighted up, and pointed out to the Magi, with 'Behold the star in the east.' This being concluded, two priests, standing at each side of the altar, answered, meekly, 'We are those whom you seek,' and drawing a curtain showed them a child, whom, falling down, they worshipped. Then the servants made the offerings of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, which were divided among the priests. The Magi in the mean while continued praying till they dropped asleep; when a boy clothed in an alb, like an angel, addressed them with, 'All things which the prophets said are fulfilled.' The festival concluded with chanting services, &c."

Mr. Fosbroke adds, that at Soissons a rope was let down from the roof of the church, to which was annexed an iron circle, having seven tapers, intended to represent Lucifer, or the morning star.

The three persons honoured by this service, and called kings, were the three wise men who, in catholic works, are usually denominated the Three Kings of Cologne. Cressy tells us, that the empress Helena, who died about the year 328, brought their bodies from the east to Constantinople; from whence they were transferred to Milan, and afterwards, in 1164, on Milan being taken by the emperor Frederick, presented by him to the archbishop of Cologne, who put them in the principal church of that city, "in which place," says Cressy, "they are to this day celebrated with great veneration." Patrick quotes a prayer to them from the romish service, beginning "O, king Jaspar, king Melchior, king Balthasar;" and he says that the Salisbury Missal states their offerings to have been disposed of in this way:—"Joseph kept of the gold as much as him needed, to pay his tribute to the emperor, and also to keep our lady with while she lay in childbed, and the rest he gave to the poor. The incense he burnt to take off the stench of the stable there as she lay in; and with the myrrh, our lady anointed her child, to keep him from worms and disease." Patrick makes several observations on the service to these three kings of Cologne, and as to the credibility of their story; and he inquires what good this prayer will do to Jaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, when another tradition says their names were Apellius, Amerus, and Damascus; third, that they were Magalath, Galgalath, and Sarasin; and a fourth, Ator, Sator, and Peratoras? which last, Patrick says, he should choose in this uncertainty to call them by, as having the more kingly sound, if it had not been that Casaubon represents these three, "together with Misael, Achael, Cyriacus, and Stephanus, (the names of the four shepherds that came to visit our Lord in Bethlehem,) had been use (and he tells how) for a charm to cure the biting of serpents and other venomous beasts." Patrick gives other prayers to these three kings, one of the from the "Hours of the Virgin," and also quotes this miraculous anecdote; that one John Aprilius, when he was hanged, implored the patronage of the three kings of Cologne; the consequence of which seems to have been, that after he had been hung three days and was cut down, he was found alive; whereupon he came to Cologne half naked, with his halter about his neck, and returned thanks to his deliverers.


Such are the scenes, that, at the front and side
       Of the Twelfth-cake-shops, scatter wild dismay;
As up the slipp'ry curb, or pavement wide,
       We seek the pastrycooks, to keep Twelfth-day;
While ladies stand aghast, in speechless trance,
Look round—dare not go back—and yet dare not advance.

In London, with every pastrycook in the city, and at the west end of the town, it is "high change" of Twelfth-day. From the taking down of the shutters in the morning, he, and his men, with additional assistants, male and female, are fully occupied by attending to the dressing out of the window, executing orders of the day before, receiving fresh ones, or supplying the wants of chance customers. Before dusk the important arrangement of the window is completed. Then the gas is turned on, with supernumerary argand-lamps and manifold wax-lights, to illuminate countless cakes of all prices and dimensions, that stand in rows and piles on the counters and sideboards, and in the windows. The richest in flavour and heaviest in weight and price are placed on large and massy salvers; one, enormously superior to the rest in size, is the chief object of curiosity; and all are decorated with all imaginable images of things animate and inanimate. Stars, castles, kings, cottages, dragons, trees, fish, palaces, cats, dogs, churches, lions, milk-maids, knights, serpents, and innumerable other forms in snow-white confection- ary, painted with variegated colours, glitter by "excess of light" from mirrors against the walls festooned with artificial "wonders of Flora." This "paradise of dainty devices," is crowded by successive and successful desirers of the seasonable delicacies, while alternate tapping of hammers and peals of laughter, from the throng surrounding the house, excite smiles from the inmates.

The cause of these sounds may be inferred from something like this passing outside.

Constable. Make way, make way! Clear the way! You boys stand aside!

Countryman. What is all this; is any body ill in the shop?

1st Boy. Nobody, sir; it's only Twelfth day!

2d Boy. This is a pastrycook's, sir; look at the window! There they stand! What cakes!

3d Boy. What pretty ones these are!

4th Boy. Only see that!

5th Boy. Why it's as large as the hind-wheel of a coach, and how thick!

6th Boy. Ah! it's too big to come out at the door, unless they roll it out.

7th Boy. What elegant figures, and what lots of sweetmeats!

8th Boy. See the flowers; they look almost like real ones.

Countryman. What a crowd inside!

9th Boy. How the people of the house are packing up all the good things!

Countryman. What a beautiful lady that is behind the counter!

10th Boy. Which?

Countryman. Why the young one!

10th Boy. What her? oh, she's the pastrycook's daughter, and the other's her mother.

Countryman. No, no; not her; I mean her, there.

10th Boy. Oh, her; she's the shopwoman; all the pastrycooks always try to get handsome ladies to serve in the shop!

11th Boy. I say, I say! halloo! here's a piece of work! Look at this gentleman—next to me—his coat-tail's nailed to the window! Look, look!

Countryman. Aye, what?

All the boys. Ah! ah! ah! Huzza.

Countryman. Who nailed my coat-tail? Constable!

12th Boy. That's the boy that's got the hammer!

2d Boy. What me? why that's the boy—there; and there's another boy ham- mering! and there's a man with a hammer!

1st Boy. Who pinned that woman to the gentleman? Why there's a dozen pinned together.

Countryman. Constable! constable!

2d Boy. Here comes the constable. Hark at him!

Const. Clear away from the doors! Let the customers go in! Make way! Let the cakes come out! Go back, boy!

13th Boy. If you please, Mr. Constable, I'm going to buy a cake!

Const. Go forward, then!

Man with cakes. By your leave! by your leave!

Const. Clear the way!

All the Boys. Huzza! huzza! More people pinned — and plenty nailed up!——

To explain, to those who may be ignorant of the practice. On Twelfth-night in London, boys assemble round the inviting shops of the pastrycooks, and dexterously nail the coat-tails of spectators, who venture near enough, to the bottoms of the window frames; or pin them together strongly by their clothes. Sometimes eight or ten persons find themselves thus connected. The dexterity and force of the nail driving is so quick and sure, that a single blow seldom fails of doing the business effectually. Withdrawal of the nail without a proper instrument is out of the question; and, consequently, the person nailed must either leave part of his coat, as a cognizance of his attachment, or quit the spot with a hole in it. At every nailing and pinning shouts of laughter arise from the perpetrators and the spectators. Yet it often happens to one who turns and smiles at the duress of another, that he also finds himself nailed. Efforts at extrication increase mirth, nor is the presence of a constable, who is usually employed to attend and preserve free "ingress, egress, and regress," sufficiently awful to deter the offenders.

Scarcely a shop in London that offers a halfpenny plain bun to the purchase of a hungry boy, is without Twelfth-cakes and finery in the windows on Twelfth-day. The gingerbread-bakers—there are not many, compared with their number when the writer was a consumer of their manufactured goods,—even the reduced gingerbread-cakes periwig a few plum-buns with sugar-frost to-day, and coaxingly interpolate them among their new made sixes, bath-cakes, parliament, and ladies' fingers. Their staple-ware has leaves of untarnished dutch-gilt stuck on; their upright cylinder-shaped show-glasses, containing peppermint-drops, elecampane, sugar-sticks, hard-bake, brandy-balls, and bulls'-eyes, are carefully polished; their lolly-pops are fresh encased, and look as white as the stems of tobacco pipes; and their candlesticks are ornamented with fillets and bosses of writing paper; or, if the candles rise from the bottom of inverted glass cones, they shine more sparkling for the thorough cleaning of their receivers in the morning.

How to eat Twelfth-cake requires no recipe; but how to provide it, and draw the characters, on the authority of Rachel Revel's "Winter Evening Pastimes," may be acceptable. First, buy your cake. Then, before your visitors arrive, buy your characters, each of which should have a pleasant verse beneath. Next look at your invitation list, and count the number of ladies you expect; and afterwards the number of gentlemen. Then, take as many female characters as you have invited ladies; fold them up, exactly of the same size, and number each on the back; taking care to make the king No. 1, and the queen No. 2. Then prepare and number the gentlemen's characters. Cause tea and coffee to be handed to your visitors as they drop in. When all are assembled and tea over, put as many ladies' characters in a reticule as there are ladies present; next put the gentlemen's characters in a hat. Then call on a gentleman to carry the reticule to the ladies as they sit, from which each lady is to draw one ticket, and to preserve it unopened. Select a lady to bear the hat to the gentlemen for the same purpose. There will be one ticket left in the reticule, and another in the hat, which the lady and gentleman who carried each is to interchange, as having fallen to each. Next, arrange your visitors according to their numbers; the king No. 1, the queen No. 2, and so on. The king is then to recite the verse on his ticket; then the queen the verse on hers; and so the characters are to proceed in numerical order. This done, let the cake and refreshments go round, and hey! for merriment!

They come! they come! each blue-eyed sport,
The Twelfth-night king and all his court—
   'Tis Mirth fresh crown'd with mistletoe!
Music with her merry fiddles,
   Joy "on light fantastic toe,"
Wit with all his jests and riddles,
   Singing and dancing as they go.
And Love, young Love, among the rest,
A welcome — nor unbidden guest.

Twelfth-day is now only commemorated by the custom of choosing a king and queen. "I went," says a correspondent in the Universal Magazine for 1774, "to a friend's house in the country to partake of some of those innocent pleasures that constitute a merry Christmas. I did not return till I had been present at drawing king and queen, and eaten a slice of the Twelfth-cake, made by the fair hands of my good friend's consort. After tea yesterday, a noble cake was produced, and two bowls containing the fortunate chances for the different sexes. Our host filled up the tickets; the whole company, except the king and queen, were to be ministers of state, maids of honour, or ladies of the bed-chamber. Our kind host and hostess, whether by design or accident, became king and queen. According to Twelfth-day law, each party is to support their character till midnight." The mainte nance of character is essential to the drawing. Within the personal observation of the writer of these sheets, character has never been preserved. It must be admitted, however, that the Twelfth-night characters sold by the pastrycooks, are either commonplace or gross—when genteel they are inane; when humorous, they are vulgar.

Young folks anticipate Twelfth-night as a full source of innocent glee to their light little hearts. Where, and what is he who would negative hopes of happiness for a few short hours in the day-spring of life? A gentle spirit in the London Magazine beautifully sketches a scene of juvenile enjoyment this evening: "I love to see an acre of cake spread out—the sweet frost covering the rich earth below—studded all over with glittering flowers, like ice-plants, and red and green knots of sweetmeat, and hollow yellow crusted crowns, and kings and queens, and their paraphernalia. I delight to see [a] score of happy children sitting huddled all round the dainty fare, eyeing the cake and each other, with faces sunny enough to thaw the white snow. I like to see the gazing silence which is kept so religiously while the large knife goes its round, and the glistening eyes which feed beforehand on the huge slices, dark with citron and plums, and heavy as gold. And then, when the "Characters" are drawn, is it nothing to watch the peeping delight which escapes from their little eyes? One is proud, as king; another stately, as queen; then there are two whispering grotesque secrets which they cannot contain (those are sir Gregory Goose and sir Tunbelly Clumsy.) The boys laugh out at their own misfortunes; but the little girls (almost ashamed of their prizes) sit blushing and silent. It is not until the lady of the house goes round, that some of the more extravagant fictions are revealed. And then, what roar of mirth! Ha, ha! The ceiling shakes, and the air is torn. They bound from their seats like kids, and insist on seeing Miss Thompson's card. Ah! what merry spite is proclaimed—what ostentatious pity! The little girl is almost in tears; but the large lump of allotted cake is placed seasonably in her hands, and the glass of sweet wine 'all round' drowns the shrill urchin laughter, and a gentler delight prevails." Does not this make a charming picture?

There is some difficulty in collecting accounts of the manner wherein Twelfth-night is celebrated in the country. In "Time's Telescope," an useful and entertaining annual volume, there is a short reference to the usage in Cumberland, and other northern parts of England. It seems that on Twelfth-night, which finishes their Christmas holidays, the rustics meet in a large room. They begin dancing at seven o'clock, and finish at twelve, when they sit down to lobscouse, and ponsondie; the former is made of beef, potatoes, and onions fried together; and in ponsondie we recognise the wassail or waes-hael of ale, boiled with sugar and nutmeg, into which are put roasted apples,—the anciently admired lambs'-wool. The feast is paid for by subscription: two women are chosen, who with two wooden bowls placed one within the other, so as to leave an opening and a space between them, go round to the female part of the society in succession and what one puts into the uppermost bowl the attendant collectress slips into the bowl beneath it. All are expected to contribute something, but not more than a shilling, and they are best esteemed who give most. The men choose two from themselves, and follow the same custom, except that as the gentlemen are not supposed to be altogether so fair in their dealings as the ladies, one of the collectors is furnished with pen, ink, and paper, to set down the subscriptions as soon as received.

If a satirical prophecy in "Vox Graculi," 4to. 1623, may be relied on as authority, it bears testimony to the popularity of Twelfth-night at that period. On the 6th of January the author declares, that "this day, about the houses of 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10, yea, in some places till midnight well nigh, will be such a massacre of spice-bread, that, ere the next day at noon, a two-penny browne loafer will set twenty poore folkes teeth on edge. Which hungry humour will hold so violent, that a number of good fellowes will not refuse to give a statute-marchant of all the lands and goods they enjoy, for half-a-crown's worth of two-penny pasties." He further affirms, that there will be "on this night much masking in the Strand, Cheapside, Holbourne, or Fleet-street."

"The twelve days of Christmas," as the extent of its holidays, were proverbial; but among labourers, in some parts, the Christmas festivities did not end till Candlemas. Old Tusser, in his "Five Hundred Points of good Husbandry," would have the merriments end in six days; he begins January with this advice to the countrymen:

When Christmas is ended,
          bid feasting adue [sic],
Goe play the good husband,
          thy stock to renue:
Be mindful of rearing,
          in hope of a gaine,
Dame Profit shall give thee
          reward for thy paine.

This was the recommendation of prudence tempered by kindness; a desire for diligence in the husbandman, with an allowance of reasonable pastime to sweeten his labour.

From Naogeorgus, in "The Popish Kingdome," a poem before quoted, and which will be frequently referred to for its lore regarding our ancient customs, it is to be gathered, that the king of Twelfth-night, after the manner of royalty, appointed his officers. He himself attained his dignity thus:

Then also every householder,
     to his abilitie,
Doth make a mightie cake, that may
     suffice his companie:
Herein a pennie doth he put,
     before it come to fire,
This he divides according as
     his householde doth require,
And every peece distributeth,
     as round about they stand,
Which in their names unto the poore
     is given out of hand:
But who so chaunceth on the peece
     wherein the money lies,
Is counted king amongst them all,
     and is with showtes and cries
Exalted to the heavens up.

Mr. Fosbroke notices, that "the cake was full of plums, with a bean in it for the king, and a pea for the queen, so as to determine them by the slices. Sometimes a penny was put in the cake, and the person who obtained it, becoming king, crossed all the beams and rafters of the house against devils. A chafing-dish with burning frankincense was also lit, and the odour snuffed up by the whole family, to keep off disease for the year. After this, the master and mistress went round the house with the pan, a taper, and a loaf, against witchcraft."

So far Mr. Fosbroke abridges Naogeorgus's account, which goes on to say, that

     — in these days beside,
They judge what weather all the yeare
     shall happen and betide:
Ascribing to each day a month,
     and at this present time,
The youth in every place doe flocke,
     and all apparel'd fine,
With pypars through the streetes they runne,
     and singe at every dore.

     *      *      *      *      *

The cities are, where boyes and gyrles,
     together still do runne,
About the streete with like, as soone
     as night beginnes to come,
And bring abrode their wassel bowles,
     who well rewarded bee,
With cakes and cheese, and great good cheare,
     and money plenteouslee.

Queen Elizabeth's Progresses by Mr. Nichols, contain an entertainment to her at Sudley, wherein were Melibæus, the king of the Bean, and Nisa, the queen of the Pea.

"Mel. Cut the cake: who hath the beane, shall be King; and where the peaze is, she shall be Queene.

"Nis. I have the peaze, and must be Queene.

"Mel. I have the beane, and King; I must commande."

Pinkerton's "Ancient Scotish Poems," contain a letter from sir Thomas Randolph, queen Elizabeth's chamberlain of the Exchequer, to Dudley lord Leicester, dated from Edinburgh on the 15 January, 1563, wherein he mentions, that Lady Flemyng was "Queen of the Beene" on Twelfth-day in that year: and in Ben Jonson's Masque of Christmas, Baby-cake, one of the characters, is attended by "an Usher, bearing a great cake with a bean and a pease." Herrick, the poet of our festivals, has several allusions to the celebration of this day by our ancestors: the poem here subjoined, recognises its customs with strict adherence to truth, and in pleasant strains of joyousness.


      Now, now the mirth comes
      With the cake full of plums,
Where beane's the king of the sport here
      Beside, we must know,
      The pea also
Must revell, as queene in the court here.

      Begin then to chuse,
      This night as ye use,
Who shall for the present delight here,
      Be a king by the lot,
      And who shall not
Be Twelfe-day queene for the night here.

      Which knowne, let us make
      Joy-sops with the cake;
And let not a man then be seen here,
      Who unurg'd will not drinke,
      To the base from the brink,
A health to the king and the queen here.

      Next crowne the bowl ful,
      With gentle lambs-wooll;
Adde sugar, nutmeg, and ginger,
      With store of ale, too;
      And thus ye must doe
To make the wassaile a swinger.

      Give them to the king
      And queene wassailing;
And though with ale ye be whet here;
      Yet part ye from hence,
      As free from offence,
As when ye innocent met here.

A citation by Brand represents the ancient Twelfth-night cake to have been composed of flour, honey, ginger, and pepper. The maker thrust in, at random, a small coin as she was kneading it, When baked, it was divided into as many parts as there were persons in the family, and each had his share. Portions of it were also assigned to Christ, the Virgin, and the three Magi, and were given in alms.

On Twelfth-day the people of Germany and the students of its academies chose a king with great ceremony and sumptuous feastings.

In France, the Twelfth-cake is plain, with a bean; the drawer of the slice containing the bean is king or queen. All drink to her or his majesty, who reigns, and receives homage from all, during the evening. There is no other drawing, and consequently the sovereign is the only distinguished character. In Normandy they place child under the table, which is so covered with a cloth that he cannot see; and when the cake is divided, one of the company taking up the first piece, cries out, "Fabe Domini pour qui?" The child answers, "Pour le bon Dieu:" and in this manner the pieces are allotted to the company. If the bean be found in the piece for the "bond Dieu," the king is chosen by drawing long or short straws. Whoever gets the bean chooses the king or queen, according as it happens to be a man or woman. According to Brand, under the old order of things, the Epiphany was kept at the French court by one of the courtiers being chosen king, and the other nobles attended an entertainment on the occaion; but, in 1792, during the revolution, La Fête de Rois was abolished; Twelfth-day was ordered to be called La Fête de Sans-Culottes; the old feast was declared anti-civic and any priest keeping it was deemed a royalist. The Literary Pocket Book affirms, that at La Fête de Rois the French monarch and his nobles waited on the Twelfth-night king, and that the custom was not revived on the return of the Bourbons, but that instead of it the royal family washed the feet of some people and gave them alms.

There is a difference of opinion as to the origin of Twelfth-day. Brand says, "that though its customs vary in different countries, yet they concur in the same end, that is, to do honour to the Eastern Magi." He afterwards observes, "that the practice of choosing 'king,' on Twelfth-day, is similar to a custom that existed among the ancient Greeks and Romans, who, on the festival days of Saturn, about this season of the year, drew lots for kingdoms, and like kings exercised their temporary authority." Indeed, it appears, that the question is almost at rest. Mr. Fosbroke affirms that "the king of Saturnalia was elected by beans, and that from thence came our king and queen on this day." The coincidence of the election by beans having been common to both customs, leaves scarcely the possibility of doubt that ours is a continuation of the heathen practice under another name. Yet "some of the observances on this day are the remains of Druidical, and other superstitious ceremonies." On these points, if Mr. Fosbroke's Dictionary of Antiquities be consulted by the curious inquirer, he will there find the authorities, and be in other respects gratified.

The Epiphany is called Twelfth-day, because it falls on the twelfth day after Christmas-day. Epiphany signifies manifestation, and is applied to this day because it is the day whereon Christ was manifested to the Gentiles. Bourne in his Vulgar Antiquities, which is the substructure of Brand's Popular Antiquities, remarks that this is the greatest of the twelve holidays, and is therefore more jovially observed, by the visiting of friends and Christmas gambols, than any other.

Finally, on observances of this festival not connected with the Twelfth-night king and queen. It is a custom in many parishes in Gloucestershire on this day to light up twelve small fires and one large one; this is mentioned by Brand: and Mr. Fosbroke relates, that in some countries twelve fires of straw are made in the fields "to burn the old witch," and that the people sing, drink, and dance around it, and practise other ceremonies in continuance. He takes "the old witch" to be the Druidical God of Death. It is stated by sir Henry Piers, in Vallencey's "Collectanea," that, at Westmeath, "on Twelve-eve in Christmas, they use [sic] to set up as high as they can a sieve of oats, and in it a dozen of candles set round, and in the centre one larger, all lighted; this in memory of our saviour and his apostles, lights of the world." Sir Henry's inference may reasonably be doubted; the custom is probably of higher antiquity than he seems to have suspected.

A very singular merriment in the Isle of Man is mentioned by Waldron, in his history of that place. He says, that "during the whole twleve days of Christ mas, there is not a barn unoccupied, and that every parish hires fiddlers at the public charge. On Twelfth-day, the fiddler lays his head in some one of the girls' laps, and a third person asks, who such a maid, or such a maid shall marry, naming the girls then present one after another; to which he answers according to his own whim, or agreeable to the intimacies he has taken notice of during this time of merriment. But whatever he says is as absolutely depended on as an oracle; and if he happens to couple two people who have an aversion to each other, tears and vexation succeed the mirth. This they call cutting off the fiddler's head; for, after this, he is dead for the whole year."

It appears from the Gentleman's Magazine, that on Twelfth-day 1731, the king and the prince at the chapel royal, St. James's, made their offerings at the altar, of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, according to custom, and that at night their majesties, &c. played at hazard for the benefit of the groom-porter. These offerings which clearly originate from the Roman church, and are not analogous to any ceremony of the church of England, continue to be annually made; with this difference, however, that the king is represented by proxy in the person of some distinguished officer of the household. In other respects the proceedings are conducted with the usual state.


Midwinter is over. According to astronomical reckoning, we have just passed that point in the earth's orbit, where the north pole is turned most from the sun. This position is represented in the diagram above, by the direction of the terminator, or boundary line of light and darkness, which is seen to divide the globe into two equal parts; the north pole, which is the upper pole in the figure, and all parts within 321/2 degrees, being enveloped in constant darkness. We now trace the sun among the stars of the constellation Capricorn or sea-goat, and it is winter in the whole northern hemisphere. At the beginning of January the earth is at its least distance from the sun, which is proved by measuring the apparent magnitude of that luminary by means of an instrument called a micrometer, his disc being now about 32 minutes of a degree; whereas at the opposite season, or at the beginning of July, near our Midsummer, his apparent diameter is only about 31 minutes. The coldness of winter therefore does not depend on the distance of the earth from the sun, but on the very oblique or slanting direction of his rays; less heat falling on any given part of the earth, than when the rays fall more direct. From the slanting direction of his rays they pass through a more dense region of the atmosphere, and are somewhat intercepted; while another cause of the cold is the shortness of our days and the length of our nights; the sun continuing only about seven hours and a half above the horizon, while he is absent for about sixteen hours and a half.

This position of the earth relatively to the sun is exemplified in the Popular Lectures on Astronomy, now delivering at the Assembly-room, Paul's Head, Cateaton-street, by Mr. John Wallis, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. His explanations of this noble science are familiarly and beautifully illustrated, by an original and splendid apparatus devised and constructed by his own hands. It consists of extensive mechanism and numerous brilliant transparencies. Mr. Wallis's lectures on Tuesday and Thursday next, the 18th and 20th of January, 1825, are under the patronage of the Lord Mayor. Here is a sure mode of acquiring astonomical knowledge, accompanied by the delightful gratification of witnessing a display of the heavens more bewitching than the mind can conceive. Ladies, and young persons especially, have a delightful opportunity of being agreeably entertained by the novelty and beauty of the exhibition and the eloquent descriptions of the enlightened lecturer.

The holly with its red berries, and the "fond ivy," still stick about our houses to maintain the recollection of the seasonable festivities. Let us hope that we may congratulate each other on having, while we kept them, kept ourselves within compass. Merriment without discretion is an abuse for which nature is sure to punish us. She may suffer our violence for a while in silence; but she is certain to resume her rights at the expense of our health, and put us to heavy charges to maintain our existence.