KING CHARLES'S MARTYRDOM.
Holiday at the Public Offices; except the Stamps, Customs, and Excise.
St. Bathildes, Queen of Navarre, A.D. 680. St Martina. St. Aldegondes, A.D. 660. St. Barsimœus, A.D. 114.
The Jesuit Ribadeneira relates that the emperor Alexander IV., having decreed that all christians should sacrifice to the Roman gods, or die, insinuated to St[.] Martina, that if she would conform to the edict, he would make her his empress[;] but on her being taken to the temple, "by a sudden earthquake the blockish idol of Apollo was broken in pieces, a fourth part of his temple thrown down, and, with his ruins, were crushed to death; his priests and many others, and the emperor himself, began to fly." Whereupon St. Martina taunted the emperor; and the devil, in the idol, rolling himself in the dust, made a speech to her, and another to the emperor, and "fled through the air in a dark cloud; but the emperor would not understand it." Then the emperor commanded her to be tortured. The jesuit's stories of these operations and her escapes, are wonderfully particular. According to him, hooks and stakes did her no mischief; she had a faculty of shining, which the pouring of hot lard upon her would not quench; when in gaol, men in dazzling white surrounded her; she could not feel a hundred and eighteen wounds; a fierce lion, who had fasted three days, would not eat her, and fire would not burn her; but a sword cut her head off in 228, and at the end of two days two eagles were found watching her body. "That which above all confirmeth the truth of this relation," says Ribadeneira, "is, that there is nothing herein related but what is in brief in the lessons of the Roman Breviary, commanded by public authority to be read on her feast by the whole church."
On this day, in the year 1649, king Charles I. was beheaded. In the Common Prayer Book of the Church of England, it is called "The Day of the Martyrdom of the Blessed King Charles I.;" and there is "A Form of Prayer, with Fasting, to be used yearly" upon its recurrence.
The sheet, which received the head of Charles I., after its decapitation, is carefully preserved along with the communion plate in the church of Ashburnham, in this country; the blood, with which it has been almost entirely covered, now appears nearly black. The watch of the unforunate monarch is also deposited with the linen, the movements of which are still perfect. These relics came into the possession of lord Ashburnham immediately after the death of the king.—Brighton Herald.
Lord Orford says, "one can scarce conceive a greater absurdity than retaining the three holidays dedicated to the house of Stuart. Was the preservation of James I. a greater blessing to England than the destruction of the Spanish armada, for which no festival is established? Are we more or less free for the execution of king Charles? Are we at this day still guilty of his blood? When is the stain to be washed out? What sense is there in thanking heaven for the restoration of a family, which it so soon became necessary to expel again?"
According to the "Life of William Lilly, written by himself," Charles I. caused the old astrologer to be consulted for his judgment. This is Lilly's account: "His majesty, Charles I., having intrusted the Scots with his person, was, for money, delivered into the hands of the English parliament, and, by several removals, was had to Hampton-court, about July or August, 1647; for he was there, and at that time when my house was visited with the plague. He was desirous to escape from the soldiery, and to obscure himself for some time near London, the citizens whereof began now to be unruly, and alienated in affection from the parliament, inclining wholly to his majesty, and very averse to the army. His majesty was well informed of all this, and thought to make good use hereof: besides, the army and parliament were at some odds, who should be masters. Upon the king's intention to escape, and with his consent, madam Whorewood (whom you knew very well, worthy esquire) came to receive my judgment, viz. in what quarter of this nation he might be most safe, and not to be discovered until himself pleased. When she came to my door, I told her I would not let her come into my house, for I buried a maid-servant of the plague very lately: however, up we went. After erection of my figure, I told her about twenty miles (or thereabouts) from London, and in Essex, I was certain he might continue undiscovered. She liked my judgment very well; and, being herself of a sharp judgment, remembered a place in Essex about that distance, where was an excellent house, and all conveniences for his reception. Away she went, early next morning, unto Hampton-court, to acquaint his majesty; but see the misfortune: he, either guided by his own approaching hard fate, or misguided by Ashburnham, went away in the nightime westward, and surrendered himself to Hammond, in the Isle of Wight. Whilst his majesty was at Hampton-court, alderman Adams sent his majesty one thousand pounds in gold, five hundred whereof he gave to madam Whorewood. I believe I had twenty pieces of that very gold for my share." Lilly proceeds thus: "His majesty being in Carisbrook-castle, in the Isle of Wight, the Kentish men, in great numbers, rose in arms, and joined with the lord Goring; a considerable number of the best ships revolted from the parliament; the citizens of London were forward to rise against the parliament; his majesty laid his design to escape out of prison, by sawing the iron bars of his chamber window; a small ship was provided, and anchored not far from the castle to bring him into Sussex; horses were provided ready to carry him through Sussex into Kent, that so he might be at the head of the army in Kent, and from thence to march immediately to London, where thousands then would have armed for him. The lady Whorewood came to me, acquaints me herewith. I got G. Farmer (who was a most ingenious locksmith, and dwelt in Bow-lane) to make a saw to cut the iron bars in sunder, I mean to saw them, and aqua fortis besides. His majesty in a small time did his work; the bars gave liberty for him to go out; he was out with his body till he came to his breast; but then his heart failing, he proceeded no farther: when this was discovered, as soon after it was, he was narrowly looked after, and no opportunity after that could be devised to enlarge him."
Lilly goes on to say, "He was beheaded January 30, 1649. After the execution, his body was carried to Windsor, and buried with Henry VIIIth, in the same vault where his body was lodged. Some, who saw him embowelled, affirm, had he not come unto his untimely end, he might have lived, according unto nature, even unto the height of old age. Many have curiously inquired who it was that cut off his head: I have no permission to speak of such things; only thus much I say, he that did it is as valiant and resolute a man as lives, and one of a competent fortune. For my part, I do believe he was not the worst, but the most unfortunate of kings."
Lilly elsewhere relates, "that the next Sunday but one after Charles I. was beheaded, Robert Spavin, secretary unto lieutenant-general Cromwell at that time, invited himself to dine with me, and brought Anthony Pierson, and several others, along with him to dinner. Their principal discourse all dinner-time was, who it was beheaded the king: one said it was the common hangman; another Hugh Peters; others also were nominated, but none concluded. Robert Spavin, so soon as dinner was done, took me by the hand, and carried me to the south window; saith he, 'These are all mistaken, they have not named the man that did the fact; it was lieutenant-colonel Joice: I was in the room when he fitted himself for the work, stood behind him when he did it; when done, went in again with him. There is no man knows this but my master, viz. Cromwell, commissary Ireton, and myself.'—'Doth not Mr. Rushworth know of it?' said I. 'No, he doth not know it,' saith Spavin. The same thing Spavin since hath often related unto me when we were alone."
SHROVE TUESDAY regulates most of the moveable feasts. Shrove Tuesday itself is the next after the first new moon in the month of February. If such new moon should happen on a Tuesday, the next Tuesday following is Shrove Tuesday. A recently published volume furnishes a list, the introduction of which on the next page puts the reader in possession of serviceable knowledge on this point, and affords an opportunity for affirming, that Mr. Nicolas's book contains a variety of correct and valuable information not elsewhere in a collected form:—
"Tables, Calendars, &c. for the use of Historians, Antiquaries, and the Legal Profession, by N. H. Nicolas, Esq."
Advent Sunday, is the nearest Sunday to the feast of St. Andrew, November 30th, whether before or after.
Ascension Day, or Holy Thursday, is the Thursday in Rogation week, i.e. the week following Rogation Sunday.
Ash Wednesday, or the first day in lent, is the day after Shrove Tuesday.
Carle, or Care Sunday, or the fifth Sunday in lent, is the fifth Sunday after Shrove Tuesday.
Corpus Christi, or Body of Christ, is a festival kept on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday; and was instituted in the year 1264.
Easter Day. The Paschal Sabbath. The Eucharist, or Lord's Supper, is the seventh Sunday after Shrove Tuesday, and is always the first Sunday after the first full moon, which happens on or next after the 21st of March.
Easter Monday, Easter Tuesday, are the Monday and Tuesday following Easter day.
Ember Days, are the Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, after the first Sunday in lent; after the Feast of Pentecost; after Holy-rood Day, or the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, viz. 14th September; and after St. Lucia's day, viz. 15th December.
Ember Weeks, are those weeks in which the Ember days fall.
The Eucharist. See Easter day.
Good Friday, is the Friday in Passion Week, and the next Friday before Easter day.
Holy Thursday. See Ascension day.
Lent, a Fast from Ash Wednesday, to the Feast of Easter, viz. forty days.
Lord's Supper. See Easter day.
Low Sunday, is the Sunday next after Easter day.
Maunday Thursday, is the day before Good Friday.
Midlent, or the fourth Sunday in Lent, is the fourth Sunday after Shrove Tuesday.
Palm Sunday, or the sixth Sunday in Lent, is the sixth Sunday after Shrove Tuesday.
Paschal Sabbath. See Easter day.
Passion Week, is the week next ensuring after Palm Sunday.
Pentecost, or Whit Sunday, is the fiftieth day and seventh Sunday after Easter day.
Quinquagesima Sunday, is so named from its being about the fiftieth day before Easter. It is also called Shrove Sunday.
Relick Sunday, is the third Sunday after Midsummer-day.
Rogation Sunday, is the fifth Sunday after Easter day.
Rogation Days are the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday following Rogation Sunday.
Shrove Sunday, is the Sunday next before Shrove Tuesday. It is also called Quinquagesima Sunday.
Septuagesima Sunday, so called from its being about the seventieth day before Easter, is the third Sunday before Lent.
Sexigesima Sunday, is the second Sunday before Lent, or the next to Shrove Sunday, so called as being about the sixtieth day before Easter.
Trinity Sunday, or the Feast of the Holy Trinity, is the next Sunday after Pentecost or Whitsuntide.
Whit Sunday. See Pentecost.
Whit Monday, Whit Tuesday, are the Monday and Tuesday following Whit Sunday.
Whitsuntide, is the three days above-mentioned.
The Vigil or Eve of a feast, is the day before it occurs. Thus the Vigil of the feast of St. John the Baptist is the 23d of June. If the feast-day falls upon a Monday, then the Vigil or the Eve is kept upon the Saturday preceding.
The Morrow of a feast, is the day following: thus the feast of All Souls, is November 2d, and the Morrow of All Souls is consequently the 3d of November.
The Octave or Utas of each feast, is always the eighth day after it occurs; for example, the feast of St. Hillary, is the 13th of February, hence the Octave of St. Hillary, is the 20th of that month.
In the Octaves, means within the eight days following any particular feast.
Is the ninth Sunday before Easter Sunday.
Is the eighth Sunday before Easter.
Is the sixth Sunday before Easter, and the first Sunday in Lent, which commences on Ash Wednesday.
"The earliest term of the Septuagesima Sunday is the 18th of January, when Easter day falls on the 22d of March; the latest is the 22d of February, when Easter happens on the 25th of April[.]"
Shepherd in his "Elucidation of the Book of Common Prayer" satisfactorily explains the origin of these days:
"When the words Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima were first applied to denote these three Sundays, the season of Lent had generally been extended to a fast of six weeks, that is thirty-six days, not reckoning the Sundays, which were always celebrated as festivals. At this time, likewise, the Sunday which we call the first Sunday in Lent, was styled simply Quadragesima, or the fortieth, meaning the fortieth day before Easter. Quadragesima was also the name given to Lent, and denoted the Quadragesimal, or forty days' fast. When the three weeks before Quadragesima ceased to be considered as weeks after the Epiphany, and were appointed to be observed as a time of preparation for Lent, it was perfectly conformable to the ordinary mode of computation to reckon backwards, and for the sake of even and round numbers to count by decades. The authors of this novel institution, and the compilers of the new proper offices, would naturally call the first Sunday before Quadragesima, Quinquagesima; the second, Sexagesima; and the third, Septuagesima. This reason corresponds with the account that seems to be at present most generally adopted."
There is much difference of opinion as to whether the fast of Lent lasted anciently during forty days or forty hours.
Common Maidenhair. Asplenium trichomanes.
Dedicated to St. Martina.