vol II date / index
——— Then came cold February, sitting
In an old waggon, for he could not ride,
Drawne of two fishes, for the season fitting,
Which through the flood before did softly slyde
And swim away; yet had he by his side
His plough and harnesse fit to till the ground,
And tooles to prune the trees before the pride
Of hasting prime did make them burgeon round.
This month has Pisces or the fishes for its zodiacal sign. Numa, who was chosen by the Roman people to succeed Romulus as their king, and became their legislator, placed it the second in the year, as it remains with us, and dedicated it to Neptune, the lord of waters. Its name is from the Februa, or Feralia, sacrifices offered to the manes of the gods at this season. Ovid in his Fasti attests the derivation:
In ancient times, purgations had the name
Of Februa, various customs prove the same;
The pontiffs from the rex and flamen crave
A lock of wool; in former days they gave
To wool the name of Februa.
A pliant branch cut from a lofty pine,
Which round the temples of the priests they twine,
Is Februa called; which if the priest demand,
A branch of pine is put into his hand;
In short, with whatsoe'er our hearts we hold
Are purified, was Februa termed of old;
Lustrations are from hence, from hence the name
Of this our month of February came;
In which the priests of Pan processions made;
In which the tombs were also purified
Of such as had no dirges when they died;
For our religious fathers did maintain,
Purgations expiated every stain
Of guilt and sin; from Greece the custom came,
But here adopted by another name;
The Grecians held that pure lustrations could
Efface an impious deed, or guilt of blood
Weak men; to think that water can make clean
A bloody crime, or any sinful stain.
Our Saxon Ancestors, according to Verstegan, "called February Sprout-kele, by kele meaning the kele-wurt, which we now call the colewurt, the greatest pot-wurt in time long past that our ancestors used, and the broth made therewith was thereof also called kele; for before we borrowed from the French the name of potage, and the name of herbe, the one in our owne language was called kele, and the other wurt; and as this kele-wurt, or potage-hearbe, was the chiefe winter-wurt for the sustenance of the husbandman, so was it the first hearbe that in this moneth began to yeeld out wholesome yong sprouts, and consequently gave thereunto the name of Sprout-kele." The "kele" here mentioned, is the well-known kale of the cabbage tribe. But the Saxons likewise called this month "Solmonath," which Dr. Frank Sayers in his "Disquisitions" says, is explained by Bede "mensis plancentarum," and rendered by Spelman in an unedited manuscript "pan-cake month," because in the course of it, cakes were offered by the pagan Saxons to the sun; and "Sol," our "soul," signified "food," or ["]cakes."
In "The Months," by Mr. Leigh Hunt, he remarks that "if February were not the precursor of spring, it would be the least pleasant season of the year, November not excepted. The thaws now take place; and a clammy mixture of moisture and cold succeeds, which is the most disagreeable of wintery sensations." Yet so variable is our climate, that the February of 1825 broke in upon the inhabitants of the metropolis with a day or two of piercing cold, and realized a delightful description of January sparkled from the same pen. "What can be more delicately beautiful than the spectacle which sometimes salutes the eye at the breakfast-room window, occasioned by the hoar-frost dew? If a jeweller had come to dress every plant over night, to surprise an Eastern sultan, he could not produce any thing like the 'pearly drops,' or the 'silvery plumage.' An ordinary bed of greens, to those who are not at the mercy of their own vulgar associations, will sometimes look crisp and corrugated emerald, powdered with diamonds."
Sunk in the vale, whose concave depth receives
The waters draining from these shelvy banks
When the shower beats, yon pool with pallid gleam
Betrays its icy covering. From the glade
Issuing in pensive file, and moving slow,
The cattle, all unwitting of the change,
To quench their customary thirst advance.
With wondering stare and fruitless search they trace
The solid margin: now with fastidious nose
Snuffing the marble floor, and breathing loud,
From the cold touch withdraw. Awhile they stand
In disappointment mute; with ponderous feet
Then bruise the surface: to each stroke the woods
Reply; forth gushes the imprisoned wave.
St. Ignatius. St. Pionius, A.D. 250. St. Bridget. St. Kinnia. St. Sigebert II. King.
St. Bride, otherwise St. Bridget, confers her name upon the parish of St. Bride's, for to her its church in Fleet-street is dedicated. Butler says she was born in Ulster, built herself a cell under a large oak, thence called Kill-dara, or cell of the oak, was joined by others of her own sex, formed several nunneries, and became patroness of Ireland. "But," says Butler, "a full account of her virtues has not been transmitted down to us, together with the veneration of her name;" yet he declares that "her five modern lives mention little else but wonderful miracles." According to the same author, she flourished in the beginning of the sixth century, and her head "is now kept in the church of the Jesuits at Lisbon." This writer does not favour us with any of her miracles, but bishop Patrick mentions, that wild ducks swimming in the water, or flying in the air, obeyed her call, came to her hand, let her embrace them, and then she let them fly away again. He also found in the breviary of Sarum, that when she was sent a-milking by her mother to make butter, she gave away all the milk to the poor; that when the rest of the maids brought in their milk she prayed, and the butter multiplied; that the butter she gave away she divided into twelve parts, "as if it were for the twelve apostles; and one part she made bigger than any of the rest, which stood for Christ's portion; though it is strange," says Patrick, "that she forget to make another inequality by ordering one portion more of the butter to be made bigger than the remaining ones in honour of St. Peter, the prince of the apostles."
BURIAL OF ALLELUIA.
In Mr. Fosbroke's "British Monarchism," [sic - "Monachism"] the observation of this catholic ceremony is noticed as being mentioned in "Ernulphus's Annals of Rochester Cathedral," and by Selden. From thence it appears to have taken place just before the octaves of Easter. Austin says, "that it used to be sung in all churches from Easter to Pentecost, but Damasus ordered it to be performed at certain times, whence it was chanted on Sundays from the octaves of Epiphany to Septuagesima, and on Sundays from the octaves of Pentecost and Advent. One mode of burying the Alleluia was this: in the sabbath of the Septuagesima at Nones, the choristers assembled in the great vestiary, and there arranged the ceremony. Having finished the last 'Benedicamus,' they advanced with crosses, torches, holy waters, and incense, carrying a turf (Glebam) in the manner of a coffin, passed through the choir and went howling to the cloister, as far as the place of interment; and then having sprinkled the water, and censed the place, returned by the same road. According to a story (whether true or false) in one of the churches of Paris, a choir boy used to whip a top, marked with Alleluia, written in golden letters, from one end of the choir to the other. In other places Alleluia was buried by a serious service on Septuagesima Sunday."
Lesser Water Moss. Fontinalis minor.
Dedicated to St. Ignatius.
Bay. Laurus nobilis.
Dedicated to St. Bridget.