vol II date / index
St. Clare, Aggess, A. D. 1253. St. Euplius, A. D. 304. St. Muredach, First Bp. of Killala, A. D. 440.
King George IV. was born on the 12th of August, 1762; but the anniversary is kept on St. George's-day, the 23d of April.
Twelfth of August.
The the Editor of the Every-Day Book.
THE HUMBLE PETITION OF AN UNFORTUNATE DAY.
I am a poor wronged Day. I appeal to you as the general patron of the family of Days. The candour with which you attended to the expostulations of a poor relative of ours—a sort of cousin thrice removed* —encourages me to hope that you will listen to the complaint of a Day of rather more consequence. I am the Day, Sir, upon which it pleased the course of nature that your gracious Sovereign should be born. As such, before his Accession, I was always observed and honoured. But since that happy event, in which naturally none had a greater interest than myself, a flaw has been discovered in my title. My lustre has been eclipsed, and —to use the words of one of your own poets,—
"I fade into the light of common day."
It seems, that about that time, an Impostor crept into Court, who has the effrontery to usurp my honours, and to style herself the King's-birth-Day, upon some shallow pretence that, being St. George's-Day, she must needs be King-George's-Day also. All-Saints-Day we have heard of, and All-Souls-Day we are willing to admit; but does it follow that this foolish Twenty-third of April must be All-George's-Day, and enjoy a monopoly of the whole name from George of Cappadocia to George of Leyden, and from George-a-Green down to the George Dyer?
It looks a little oddly that I was discarded not long after the dismission of a set of men and measures, with whom I have nothing in common. I hope no whisperer has insinuated into the ears of Royalty, as if I were any thing Whiggishly inclined, when, in my heart, I abhor all these kind of Revolutions, by which I am sure to be the greatest sufferer.
I wonder my shameless Rival can have the face to let the Tower and Park Guns proclaim so many big thundering fibs as they do, upon her Anniversary—making your Sovereign too to be older than he is, by an hundred and odd days, which is no great compliment one would think. Consider if this precedent for ante-dating of Births should become general, what confustion it must make in Parish Registers; what crowds of young heirs we should have coming of age before they are one-and-twenty, with numberless similar grievances. If these chops and changes are suffered, we shall have Lord-Mayor's-Day eating her custard unauthentically in May, and Guy Faux preposterously blazing twice over in the Dog-days.
I humbly submit, that it is not within the prerogatives of Royalty itself, to be born twice over. We have read of the supposititious births of Princes, but where are the evidences of this first Birth? why are not the nurses in attendance, the mid-wife, &c. produced?—the silly story has not so much as a Warming Pan to support it.
My legal advisers, to comfort me, tell me that I have the right on my side; that I am the true Birth-Day, and the other Day is only kept. But what consolation is this to me, as long as this naughty-kept creature keeps me out of my dues and privileges?
Pray take my unfortunate case into your consideration, and see that I am restored to my lawful Rejoicings, Firings, Bon-Firings, Illuminations, &c.
And your humble Petitioner shall ever pray,
Twelfth Day of August
THE EDITOR'S ANSWER.
You mistake my situation: I am not the "patron," but a poor servant of the Days—engaged to attend their goings out and comings in, and to teach people to pay proper respect to them. Mine is no trifling post, Madam; for without disrespect to you, many of your ancient family were spoiled long ago, by silly persons having taken undue notice of them; and in virtue of my office, I am a sort of judge in their court of claims, without authority to enforce obedience to my opinions. However, I shall continue to do my duty to the Days, and to their firends, many of whom are mere hangers-on, and, in spite of their pretended regard, grossly abuse them:—but this only verifies the old saying, "Too much familiarity breeds contempt:" such liberties must not be allowed, nor must the antiquity of the Days be too much insisted on. It is said, "there's reason in every thing," but there's very little in some of the OLD Days—excuse me, Madam, you are a young one; and I have something to excuse in you, which I readily do, on account of your inexperience, and of your bringing up.
That you are "the King's-birth-Day" is undisputed: you are stated so to be in the almanac; as witness this line in August, 1825:—
"12. F. K. Geo. IV. b."
Can any thing be plainer than the b. or more certain than that it stands for born? So much then for your rank in the Day family, and at Court, where you are acknowledged, and received as the birth-Day once a year, and "kept" as well as His Majesty can keep you. A king represents the majesty of the public welfare, and maintains the dignity of the throne whereon he is placed by promoting the interests of the people. His present Majesty regards your, and their, and his own, interest by remembering you, when you are not entitled to especial recollection with another day in the almanac, and this remembrance stands in April 1825, thus—
23. S. St. Geo. K. b. d. k.
St. George's-Day does not supersede you; it is not called the King's-birth-Day; the almanac by K. b. d. k. denotes that you, the King's-birth-Day, are kept with all the honours due to your August quality on St. George's-Day. If it had not "pleased the course of nature," you would only have been distinguished as the first Day after the Day whereon the almanac says "Dog-Days end"—a fine distinction!
"It looks a little oddly" you say that you should have been "discarded not long after the dismission of a set of men and measures with whom you have nothing in common;" and you "hope," that "no whisperer has insinuated" that you are "whiggishly inclined." Allow me to tell you, Madam, that if the family of the Days had not been "whiggishly inclined" in the year 1688, you might still have been a "common Day." I know not how you incline now, and it is of very little consequence; for all "parties" are busy in promoting the happiness of the commonwealth, and I hope, in my lifetime at least, that no Day will be dishonoured by dissensions about trifles at home, or war upon any pretence abroad. And now, Madam, after this indispensable notice of your little flaunt, let me add, that the prorogation of parliament during that season when "in the course of nature" you arrive, and the king's attention to the manufacturing and trading of the country, are obvious reasons for keeping the King's-birth-Day, in customary splendour on the 23d Day of April, instead of the 12th Day of August. You are honoured again in your own season at the palace; and your complaint amounts to no more than this, that having received your honours in the presence of a full court circle before you are entitled to them, they are not all repeated to a semi-circle:—how childish! Then, you talk about the "ante-dating of births" and "Parish Registers" as if you were the daughter of a parish cleark—remember yourself, Madam.
St. George's-Day has far more cause for vexation than you. The little respect usually paid to her celebration is eclipsed by the uproar of yours. "The Tower and Park guns proclaim so many big thundering fibs upon her anniversary" for you; and you call her, your elder sister, a "naughty kept creature;" poor thing! How eloquent is her silence compared with your loquacity! how dignified! yet she has antiquity to boast of—the antiquity of many generations, while you at the utmost, are only of sixty-three years standing; indeed, as the KING'S-birth-Day, you are not halfway to your teens. A quarrel among the Days would be odious; this would be detestable. Happily the Day-family is saved from this disgrace by the prudence of your more experienced sister, who will no doubt decline provocation even under your spiteful collocation of George of Leyden with George of Appadocia—she understand the taunt well enough; and can see through the whimsical association of Geroge-a-Green with George Dyer. The dead George-a-Green no one can harm, and the living George Dyer is as harmless. This is pitiful work, and if you were not the King's-birth-Day you would be made to suffer for it. "However," as my friend Dyer would say, "let that pass:" he is a good creature, and maintains his innocence spite of his union—with George-a-Green.
On the presentation of your petition I had some doubt whether I ought to entertain such a petition for a moment; but on reconsideration I doubted whether the justice of the case would not be better answered by dealing with it in another way; and I give you the benefit of that doubt: the petition is dismissed.
Great Sowthistle. Sonchus palustris.
Dedicated to St. Clare
Notes [all notes are Hone's unless otherwise indicated]:
1. Twenty-ninth Day of February. [return]