vol II date / index
St. Peter, Martyr, Bp. of Alexandria, A. D. 311. St. Nicon, surnamed Metanoite, A. D. 998. St. Sylvester Gozzolini, A. D. 1267. St. Conrad, Bp. of Constance, A. D. 976.
A NEW MOON CUSTOM,
and "more last words" respecting
To the Editor of the Every-Day Book.
I do not remember to have seen in your book "where every-day we turn the leaf to read," any notice of a custom, which is not only very prevalent, but which is, also, most harmless in its nature and endearing in its tendency—promotes in its practice goodwill and good humour—and, not unfrequently, with those who view the "future i' th' instant," love itself. Among the many new moon customs, such as looking through a new silk handkerchief to ascertain the number of your loves, feeling for money in your pocket, to see if you will have a lucky month, &c.; I know of none so pleasant, or, to my thinking, so rational, as that of claiming the FIRST KISS FOR A PAIR OF GLOVES! The person, in a company, male or female, who first gets a glimpse of the new moon, immediately kisses some member of the company, and pronounces with a triumphant chuckle, "Aha! Jane, (or as the name may be,) there's a pair of gloves for me!" By this means a pleasant interruption is often given to a tedious tale, or uninteresting debate, and a new subject starts, in which all may join with greater or less avidity. How happy is some modest youth, should the blushing and ingenuous girl, whom he has secretly "singled from the world," have laid him under the penalty of a pair of new gloves, by that soft phrase and that first delicious kiss—how fruitful are his sweet anticipations of that golden time—
"When life is all one dream of love and flowers."
How joyful is an amiable sister, if, by this species of initiation, she has been enabled to re-conciliate the vagrant affections of some estranged brother: and even where love and sisterly feelings are out of the question, viewed as an interchange of common (common!) friendship, between the sexes, how felicitous is it in effect and operation! Should you, Mr. Editor, be of opinion with me, respecting this no longer "tyrant custom," you may, possibly, by printing this letter, be productive of much good humour, and a pair of new gloves.
Your constant and approving reader,
W. G. T.
P. S. I cannot write the name of the town where I reside, without feeling a strong inducement to say one word of him, who has been so pleasantly immortalized by yourself, and the inimitable being who wrote so affectingly of "Rosamund Gray," and the "Old Familiar Faces"—I mean poor Starkey.  I was born, and have lived all my life (not a long one), in the town where he terminated his humble career, and gave another name to the neglected and unpitied list of those, who seem chiefly to have entered the world for the purpose of swelling
"The short and simple annals of the poor,"
and my earliest recollections are haunted by his meagre care-worn form;—many a time have I shrunk from the shaking of his stick, and the imperious "dem your bluds," which he bestowed with uncommon celerity on the defenceless heads of his young and unthinking sources of annoyance, as they assailed him from the corners which he was accustomed to pass. But the captain was a humble man, and these "moods of the mind" were seldom indulged in, save when he was returning, brim-full of brief and intemperate importance, from the Black Horse, in Pilgrim-street, the tap-room of which was the scene of many a learned disputation with the "unwashed artificers" of the evening, and in which the captain was always proportionably brilliant to the number of gills he had drank. On these occasions, in his efforts to silence the sons of toil, he did not scruple to use his Latin—and, in such instances, appeal was impossible, and victory sure. Among several anecdotes, I am in possession of two, which you, his most celebrious biographer, may not think unworthy of recording. On one evening, when he was returning from a carousal, furnished by the generosity of friends, or his own indiscretion—for the captain despised to-morrow as much as any man, and was fully convinced of the propriety of the apophthegm, "sufficient unto the day is its own evil"—he found the gate of the Freemen's Hospital, where he resided, closed, and no one in a better condition for exclaiming with Dr. Beattie,
"Ah! who can tell how hard it is to climb!"
than himself. What was to be done? To fly over was impossible—and he was much too deep in the scale of intoxication to dream of scaling the wall. A party of young bucks, "ripe for fun," fresh from their sacrifices at the shrine of "the reeling goddess with the zoneless waist," came up the street; to these, hat in hand, did the captain prefer his petition to be assisted over, and they, with a thoughtlessness hardly to be excused by their condition, took him up, and threw him completely on to the grass plot on the other side. The veteran scrambled to his legs, and, for the wall was not very high on the inside, returned them thanks in his best manner for their timely assistance, utterly forgetful that it might have proved most disastrous both to himself and them. The second, and with which I must conclude a postscript which has already far outgrown the letter, was less harmless and equally illustrative of the man. He had gone with another eleemosynary worthy, on some gratulatory occasion, to the hall of one of the members for the town, and the butler, who was well aware of the object of his guests, treated them handsomely in his refectory to cold beef and good ale. He was accidentally called away, and the two friends were left alone. Alas! for the temptations which continually beset us! The "expedition of" the captain's "violent love outran the pauser, reason:" he suggested, and both adopted, the expedient of secreting a slice or two of the member's beef, to make more substantial the repast of the evening. Starkey's share was deposited in his hat. The man in office returned, pressed his visiters afresh, "and still the circling cup was drained," until the home-brewed had made considerable innovations, and the travellers thought it fitting to depart. The captain's habitual politeness was an overmatch for his cunning: whilst he was yet at the door, cast his "last lingering looks behind," he must needs take off his hat to give more effect to the fervour of his farewell—when—"out upon 't"—the beef fell as flat on his oration, as did the hat of corporal Trim on the floor in the scene of his eloquence. Starkey was dumb-founded, his associate was in agonies, and the butler was convulsed with the most "side-splitting" laughter. The captain, like other great men, has not fallen "unsung." Hearken to Gilchrist, one of the "bards of the Tyne," who thus sings in his apotheosis of Benjamin Starkey:—
"His game is up, his pipe is out, an' fairly laid his craw,
His fame 'ill blaw about just like coal dust at Shiney-Raw.
He surely was a joker rare—what times there'd been for a' the nation,
Had he but lived to be a mayor, the glory o' wor [sic] corporation!
W. G. T.
Linear Wood Sorrel. Oxalis linearis.
Dedicated to St. Conrad.
Notes [all notes are Hone's unless otherwise indicated]:
1. For Hone's earlier accounts of Starkey, see the entries for July 9 and July 21. [KG] [return]