Every-Day Book
vol II date    /    index  

May 12.

Holy Thursday, holiday at the Public Offices, except Excise, Stamp, and Custom.

Sts. Nereus and Achilleus. St. Flavia Domitilla. St. Pancras, A.D. 304. St. Epiphanius, Abp. A.D. 403. St. Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople, A.D. 733. St. Rictrudes, Abbess, A.D. 688.

Holy Thursday,

Or Ascension Day.

The anniversary of Christ's Ascension as kept by the Romish church, is set forth in the "Popish Kingdome," thus:

Then comes the day when Christ ascended
       to his father's seate
Which day they also celebrate,
       with store of drinke and meate,
Then every man some birde must eate,
       I know not to what ende,
And after dinner all to church they come,
       and their attende
The blocke that on the aultar still,
       till then was seene to stande,
Is drawne vp hie aboue the roofe,
       by ropes and force of hande:
The Priestes about it rounde do stand,
       and chaunt it to the skie,
For all these mens religion great,
       in singing most doth lie.
Then out of hande the dreadfull shape
       of Sathan downe they throw,
Oft times, with fire burning bright,
       and dasht a sunder tho,*[1]
The boyes with greedie eyes do watch,
       and on him straight they fall,
And beate him sore with rods,
       and breake him into peeces small.
This done, they wafers downe doe cast,
       and singing Cakes the while,
With papers round amongst them put,
       the children to beguile.
With laughter great are all things done;
       and from the beames they let
Great streames of water downe to fall,
       on whom they meane to wet.
And thus this solemne holiday,
       and hye renowned feast,
And all their whole deuotion here,
        is ended with a ieast.† [2]

It is sufficient for the present to observe of Holy Thursday, that with us on this day it is a common custom of established usage, for the minister of each parish, with the parochial officers and other inhabitants of the parish, followed by the boys of the parish school, headed by their master, to go in procession to the different parish boundaries; which boundaries the boys strike with peeled willow wands that they bear in their hands, and this is called "beating the bounds." More, concerning this and other practices connected with the day, is purposely deferred till the subject be properly set forth hereafter.

Rule of Health for May.

The month of May is called a "trying" month, to persons long ailing with critical complaints. It is common to say, "Ah, he'll never get up May-hill!" or, "If he can climb over May-hill he'll do." "As a rule of health for May," says Dr. Forster, "we may advise early rising in particular, as being essentially conducive to that blessing. Every thing now invites the sluggard to leave his bed and go abroad. Milton has given such a lively description of morning scenes as must rouse every lover of the country from his couch:—

Lines from l'Allegro

To hear the lark begin his flight,
And singing, startle the dull night,
From his watch-tower in the skies,
Till the dappled dawn doth rise;
Then to come, in spite of sorrow,
And at my window bid good morrow,
Through the sweet-brier, or the vine,
Or the twisted eglantine:
While the cock, with lively din,
Scatters the rear of darkness thin;
And to the stack, or the barn-door,
Stoutly struts his dames before.
Oft listening now the hounds and horn
Cheerly rouse the slumbering morn,
From the side of some hoar hill,
Through the high wood echoing shrill:
Some time walking, not unseen,
By hedge-row elms, on hillocks green,
Right against the eastern gate
Where the great sun begins his state,
Robed in flames, and amber light,
The clouds in thousand liveries dight;
While the ploughman, near at hand,
Whistles o'er the furrow'd land,
And the milkmaid singeth blithe,
And the mower whets his sithe,
And every shepherd tells his tale
Under the hawthorn in the dale.
Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures,
Whilst the landscape round it measures;
Russet lawns, and fallows gray,
Where the nibbling flocks do stray;
Mountains, on whose barren breast,
The labouring clouds do often rest;
Meadows trim with daisies pide,
Shallow brooks, and rivers wide:
Towers and battlements it sees
Bosomed high in tufted trees,
Where perhaps some beauty lies,
The cynosure of neighbouring eyes.


Not as a picture of general manners, but as sketches of particular characters in certain parts of Ireland, the following anecdotes are extracted from one of the "Letters from the Irish Highlands," dated in May, 1823.

"In the same spirit, the pleasures of the table are but too often shared by the gentlemen of the country with those who are very much their inferiors, both in birth and fortune. The lowest and most degrading debauchery must be the natural consequence, and here I must not forget an anecdote which will at once illustrate this, and also make you acquainted with the childish superstition, with which it is a frequent practice of all ranks to combat this pernicious vice, encouraged by their indolent manner of life, and by the former facility of procuring smuggled liquors. A gentleman, whose rental at one time amounted to 10,000l. per annum, and who was in the constant habits of intoxication, took an oath to drink nothing after the cloth was removed; but, unable to comply with the spirit, he soon contented himself with adhering to the letter of this rash vow, and, keeping the cloth on table after dinner was over, could drink all night without fear of infinging it. He then swore not to drink in his dining-parlour, but again as easily evaded his engagement, by adjourning to the next apartment; in the next apartment, however, on some fresh qualms of conscience, the vow was renewed; and so, in each room successively, until he fairly swore himself out of the house. He then took refuge in the summer-house of his garden, and there used to dine and drink daily; till, rashly renewing his vow here also, he was reduced to find a new subterfuge by taking lodgings in neighbouring town.

"This story reminds me of a circumstance which has taken place within these few days, and in which the chief actor was one of the remaining branches of a numerous family, among the second-rate gentry, who are here distinguished by the title of buckeens. Originally supported in a state of comparative ease and indulgence, partly by their share in the contraband trade, partly by their close connection and alliance with the principal families in the country, their incomes have gradually sunk with the change of circumstances, which has, in a great measure, dissolved this ancient bond of fellowship, as well as destroyed their more illegitimate sources of revenue. Many of these, without seeking employment for themselves, or education for their children, still cling to customs which have now passed away; and, when reduced almost to a state of mendicity, continue their former boast of being 'gentlemen.'

"A puncheon of spirits lately came ashore, and fell to the share of the individual above mentioned. It was too large to be got in at the door of his house; he therefore pulled part of the wall down; still, however, it stuck half way. His small stock of patience could last no longer; he tapped the end that was within, and he and his wife, with their servant, soon became completely intoxicated. His neighbours, aware of this, tapped the cask at the other end, and the next day, when this worthy personage would have taken his morning, he found the cask completely emptied!"

Conduct, or rather misconduct, such as this, is very natural in a country wherein social feelings are cultivated; wherein capital is not employed; and wherein the knowledge of principles among the influential classes of the community, is not sufficiently extended to unite in cooperation by way of example and instruction. Industry is essential to happiness, and the unemployed will be either playful or vicious. We say of children, "Give them something to do, or they will be in mischief;" this is equally true of men.

Francis Grose, Esq. F. S. A. etc.

This gentleman died on the 12th of May, 1791; he was son of Francis Grose, esq. jeweller at Richmond, who fitted up the coronation crown of George II. He was a captain in the Surrey militia, an eminent antiquary, and a right worthy man. His "Antiquities of England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland," are more generally known perhaps than other topographical works of more profound inquiry. They were commenced in numbers, and published by "Master Samuel Hooper," so he called his bookseller, to whom he was a steady and affectionate friend, though he says, in one of his letters, "he never did any one thing I desired him." His "Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," Mr. Nichols says, "it would have been for his credit to have suppressed." The truth of this observation is palpable to every one who is not sophisticated by the wretchedly mischievous line, that

"Vice, to be hated, needs but to be seen."

A more mischievous sentiment was never promulgated. Capt. Grose's "Olio" is a pleasant medley of whimsicalities. He was an excellent companion, a humorist, and caricaturist: he wrote "Rules for drawing Caricatures," and drew and etched many, wherein he took considerable liberties with his friends. Yet he seems to have disliked a personal representation of himself sleeping in a chair, which Mr. Nichols pronounces "an excellent likeness; a copy of which we have given in the preceding page. Adjoining it is another of him, a whole length, standing, from an engraving by Bartolozzi, after a drawing by Dance. The sleeping portrait is attributed to the rev. James Douglas, one of his brother antiquaries, who dedicated the print to their "devoted brethren" of the society. Beneath it were inscribed the following lines:

"Now Grose, like bright Phœbus, has sunk into rest,
Society droops for the loss of his jest;
Antiquarian debates, unseason'd with mirth,
To Genius and Learning will never give birth.
Then wake, Brother Member, our friend from his sleep,
Lest Apollo should frown, and Bacchus should weep.

He was remarkably corpulent, as the engravings show. In a letter to the rev. James Granger, he says, "I am, and ever have been, the idlest fellow living, even before I had acquired the load of adventitious matter which at present stuffs my doublet." On the margin of this letter Mr. Granger wrote, "As for the matter that stuffs your doublet, I hope it is all good stuff; if you should double it, I shall call it morbid matter and tremble for you. But I consider it as the effect of good digestion, pure blood, and laughing spirits, coagulated into a wholesome mass by as much sedentariness (I hate this long word) as is consistent with the activity of your disposition." In truth, Grose was far from an idle man; he had great mental activity, and his antiquarian knowledge and labours were great. He was fond however of what are termed the pleasures of the table; and is represented in a fine mezzotinto, drawn and engraved by his friend Nathaniel Hone, with Theodosius Forrest, the barrister, and Hone himself, dressed in the character of monks, over a bowl, which Grose is actively preparing for their carousal. He died of apoplexy in Mr. Hone's house in Dublin, at the age of fifty-two. In reference to his principal works, the following epitaph, quoted by Mr. Nichols in his "Anecdotes," was proposed for him in the "St. James's Chronicle:"—

Here lies Francis Grose.
On Thursday, May 12, 1791,
Death put an end to
His views and prospects.


German Fleur de lis. Iris Germanica.
Dedicated to St. Germanus.


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

1. Shepherd. [return]

2. Naogeorgus, by Googe. [return]