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March 31.

St. Benjamin, Deacon, Martyr, A.D. 424. St. Acacius, or Achates, Bishop of Antioch, A.D. 250, or 251. St. Guy, A. D. 1046.


1814. On this day the sovereigns who have since formed the holy alliance, entered Paris at the head of the Russian troops. The capitulation of this capital was succeeded by the return of the Bourbons to France.

Maundy Thursday,



Maundy Thursday is always the Thursday before Easter; its name has occasioned some trouble to antiquaries. One writer conceives maundy to be corrupted from the mandate of Christ to his disciples to break bread in remembrance of him: or from his other mandate, after he had washed their feet, to love one another.* [1] With better reason it is conceived to be derived from the Saxon word mand, which afterwards became maund, a name for a basket, and subsequently for any gift or offering contained in the basket. Thus Shakspeare says, "a thousand favours from her maund she drew:" and Hall in his satires, speaks of "a maund charged with household merchandize:" so also Drayton tells of "a little maund being made of osiers small;" and Herrick says,

"Behold, for us, the naked graces stay
With maunds of roses, for to strew the way."

The same poet speaks of maundie as alms:

"All's gone, and death hath taken
          Away from us
          Our maundie, thus
The widdowes stand forsaken."

Thus then, "Maundy Thursday, the day preceding Good Friday, on which the king distributes alms to a certain number of poor persons at Whitehall, is so named from the maunds in which the gifts were contained."† [2]

According to annual custom, on Maundy thursday, 1814, the royal donations were distributed at the Chapel Royal, Whitehall. In the morning, Dr. Carey, the sub-almoner, and Mr. Hanby, the secretary to the lord high almoner, Mr. Nost, and others belonging to the lord chamberlain's office, attended by a party of the yeomen of the guard, distributed to seventy-five poor women, and seventy-five poor men, being as many as the king was years old, a quantity of salt fish, consisting of salmon, cod, and herrings, pieces of very fine beef, five loaves of bread, and some ale to drink the king's health. Mr. Hanby gave notice that in future their cases must be certified by the minister of the parish, by order of the lord almoner. At three o'clock they assembled again, the men on one side the chapel, and the women on the other. A procession entered, of those engaged in the ceremony, consisting of a party of yeoman [sic] of the guard, one of them carrying a large gold dish on his head, containing 150 bags, with seventy-five silver pennies in each, for the poor people, which was placed in the royal closet. They were followed by the sub-almoner in his robes, with a sash of fine linen over his shoulder and crossing his waist. He was followed by two boys, two girls, the secretary, and another gentleman, with similar sashes, &c. &c., all carrying large nosegays. The church evening service was then performed, at the conclusion of which the silver pennies were distributed, and woollen cloth, linen, shoes and stockings, to the men and women, and a cup of wine to drink the king's health.

Anciently, on Maundy Thursday, the kings and queens of England washed and kissed the feet of as many poor men and women as they were years old, besides bestowing their maundy on each. This was in imitation of Christ washing his disciples' feet. Queen Elizabeth performed this at Greenwich, when she was thirty-nine years old, on which occasion the feet of the same number of poor persons were first washed by the yeomen of the laundry with warm water and sweet herbs, afterwards by the sub-almoner, and lastly, by the queen herself; the person who washed, making each time a cross on the pauper's foot above the toes, and kissing it. This ceremony ws performed by the queen, kneeling, being attended by thirty-nine ladies and gentlewomen. Clothes, victuals, and money were then distributed among the poor.* [3] James II. is said to have been the last of our monarchs who performed this ceremony in person. It was afterwards performed by the almoner. On the 5th of April, 1731, it being Maundy Thursday, the king being then in his forty-eighth year, there was distributed at the Banquetting-house, Whitehall, to forty-eight poor men and forty-eight poor women, boiled beef and shoulders of mutton, and small bowls of ale, which is called dinner; after that, large wooden platters of fish and loaves, viz. undressed, one large old ling, and one large dried cod; twelve red herrings, and twelve white herrings, and four half quartern loaves. Each person had one platter of this provision; after which was distributed to them shoes, stockings, linen and woollen cloth, and leathern bags, with one-penny, two-penny, three-penny, and four-penny pieces of silver, and shillings; to each about four pounds in value. His grace, the lord archbishop of York, lord high almoner, performed the annual ceremony of washing the feet of the poor in the Royal Chapel, Whitehall, as was formerly done by the kings themselves.† [4]

This day was also called Shere Thursday, and by corruption Chare Thursday. Shere Thursday signified that it wa the day whereon the clergy were wont to shere or shear their heads, or get them shorn or shaven, and to clip their beards against Easter-day.‡ [5] In the miraculous legend of St. Brandon it is related that he sailed with his monks to the island of sheep, "and on sherethursdaye, after souper, he wesshe theyr feet and kyssed them lyke as our lorde dyd to his dyscyples." §[6] Maundy Thursday is nowhere observed in London except, as before stated, at the Chapel Royal.

Good Friday.

A Holiday at all the Public Offices.

This and Christmas-day are the only two close holidays now observed throughout London, by the general shutting up of shops, and the opening of all the churches. The dawn is awakened by a cry in the streets of "Hot-cross-buns; one-a-penny buns, two-a-penny buns; one-a-penny, two-a-penny, hot-cross-buns!" This proceeds from some little "peep-o'-day boy," willing to take the "top of the morning" before the rest of his compeers. He carries his covered buns in a basket hanging on one arm, while his other hand is straightened like an open door, at the side of his mouth, to let forth his childish voice, and he "pipes and trebles out the sound" to the extremity of his lungs. Scarcely has he departed before others come; "another and another still succeeds," and at last the whole street is in one "common cry of buns." Old men and young men, young women and old women, big children and little children, are engaged in this occupation, and "some cry now who never cried before." The bun-venders who eclipse the rest in voice and activity, are young women who drive fruit-barrows—barrows, by the bye, are no more, but of them by and bye. A couple of these ex-barrow-women trip along, carrying a wicker clothes-basket between them, in which the "hot-cross-buns" are covered, first by a clean flannel or green baize, and outwardly by a clean white cloth, which coverings are slowly and partially removed, for fear of letting the buns cool, when a customer stops to buy, or calls them to the door. They continue their lengthened cry, with a volume of concerted sound, unequalled by other rivals in the ephemeral Good Friday trade. These scenes and sounds continue till church-time, and resume in the afternoon. It partially commences on the evening before Good Friday, but with little success.

Some thirty or forty years ago pastry-cooks and bakers vied with each other for excellence in making hot-cross-buns; the demand has decreased, and so has the quality of the buns. But the great place of attraction for bun-eaters at that time was Chelsea; for there were the two "royal bun houses." Before and along the whole length of the long front of each, stood a flat-roofed, neat, wooden portico or piazza of the width of the foot-path, beneath which shelter "from summer's heat and winter's cold," crowds of persons assembled to scramble for a chance of purchasing "royal hot cross Chelsea buns," within a reasonable time; and several hundreds of square black tins, with dozens of hot buns on each tin, were disposed of in every hour from a little after six in the morning, till after the same period in the evening of Good Friday. Those who knew what was good, better than new comers, gave the preference to the "old original royal bun-house," which had been a bun-house "ever since it was a house," and at which "the king himself once stopped," and who could say as much for the other? This was the conclusive tale at the door, and from within the doors, of the "old original bun-house." Alas! and alack! there is that house now; and there is the house that was opened as its rival; but where are ye who contributed to their renown and custom, among the apprentices and journeymen, and the little comfortable tradesmen of the metropolis, and their wives and children—where are ye? With ye hath the fame of "Chelsea buns" departed, and the "royal bun-houses" are little more distinguished than the humble graves wherein ye rest.

Formerly "hot-cross-buns" were commonly eaten in London by families at breakfast, and some families still retain the usage. They are of the usual form of buns; though they are distinguished from them inwardly by a sweeter taste, and the flavour of all-spice, and outwardly by the mark of sign of the cross. The "hot-cross-bun" is the most popular symbol of the Roman catholic religion in England that the reformation has left. Of the use of the cross, as a mark or sign in papal worship and devotion, most readers are aware; for it has been insisted on by Roman catholic writers from the days of Constantine to Alban Butler himself, who giving example of its great virtue on Good Friday, says, "to add one more instance, out of many, St. Teresa assures us, in her own life, that one day the devil, by a phantom, appeared to sit on the letters of her book, to disturb her at her devotions; but she drove him away thrice by the sign of the cross, and at last sprinkled the book with holy water; after which he returned no more."* [7] In the houses of some ignorant people, a Good Friday bun is still kept "for luck," and sometimes there hangs from the ceiling a hard biscuit-like cake of open cross-work, baked on a Good Friday, to remain there till displaced on the next Good Friday by one of similar make; and of this the editor of the Every-Day Book has heard affirmed, that it ["]preserves the house from fire;" "no fire ever happened in a house that had one." This undoubtedly is a relic of the old superstition; as is also a vulgar notion in the west of England, that the straight stripe down the shoulders of the ass, intersected by the long on from the neck to the tail, is a cross of honour conferred upon him by Christ, and that before Christ rode upon the ass, that animal was not so distinguished.

Hot-cross-buns are the ecclesiastical Eulogiæ, or consecrated loaves, bestowed in the church as alms, and to those who from any impediment could not receive the host. They are made from the dough from whence the host itself is taken, and are given by the priest to the people after mass, just before the congregation is dismissed, and are kissed before they are eaten. They are marked with the cross as our Good Friday buns are. Winckelman relates this remarkable fact, that at Herculaneum were found two entire loaves of the same size, a palm and a half, or five inches in diameter. They were marked by a cross, within which were four other lines; and so the bread of the Greeks was marked from the earliest periods. Sometimes it had only four lines, and then it was called quadra. This bread had rarely any other mark than a cross, which was on purpose to divide and break it more easily.* [8]

The Tenebræ, a Roman catholic service signifying darkness, is performed on and before Good Friday, to denote the circumtances and darkness at the crucifixion. This is partly symbolized by a triangular candlestick with fourteen yellow wax candles and one white one, seven of these yellow candles being on one side, the seven other yellow ones on the other side, and the white wax candle being at the top. The fourteen yellow candles represent the eleven apostles, the virgin Mary, and the women that were with her at the crucifixion; the white candle at the top is to represent Christ. Fourteen psalms are sung, and at the end of each psalm one of the yellow candles is put out till the whole fourteen are extinguished, and the white candle alone left alight. After this and the extinction of the light on the altar, "the white candle is taken down from the top of the triangular candlestick, and hid under the altar." The putting out of the fourteen candles is to denote the flight or mourning of the apostles and the women; and the hiding of the white candle denotes that Christ is in the sepulchre; then a noise is made by beating the desks or books, and by beating the floor with the hands and feet, and this noise is to represent the earthquake and the splitting of the rocks at the crucifixion.* [9]

In the church of St. Peter's at Rome on Good Friday, the hundred burning lamps on the tomb of St. Peter are extinguished, and a stupendous illuminated cross depends from the immense dome of the cathedral, as if it hung self-supported. But to relate the papal ceremonies pertaining to the fast of lent, and its ensuing festival, would fill volumes of this size, and we hasten from the devices of men to contemplate works which all his art is incompetent to rival.

Nature! to me, thou art more beautiful
In thy most simple forms, than all that man
Hath made, with all his genius, and his power
Of combination: for he cannot raise
One structure, pinnacled, or domed, or gemm'd,
By architectural rule, or cunning hand,
Like to the smallest plant, or flower, or leaf,
Which living hath a tongue, that doth discourse
Most eloquent of Him, the great Creator
Of all living things. Man's makings fail
To tell of aught but this, that he, the framer
Sought also to create, and fail'd, because
No life can he impart, or breath infuse,
To give inertness being.

Notes [all notes are Hone's unless otherwise indicated]:

1. Dunton's British Apollo. [return]

2. Archdeacon Nares's "Glossary," wherein the authorities briefly cited above are set forth at large. [return]

3. Gentleman's Magazine. [return]

4. Lambarde. [return]

5. Brand's Pop. Antiq. Nares's Glossary, Chare and shere. [return]

6. "Golden Legend." [return]

7. Butler's Moveable Feasts, 1774, 8vo. p. 379. [return]

8. Fosbroke's Brit. Monach. Herculaneum it will be remembered was overwhelmed and destroyed by the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius, A.D. 79. [return]

9. Butler's Moveable Feasts. [return]