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January 8.

1826. First Sunday after Epiphany.


On the 8th of January, 1753, died sir Thomas Burnet, one of the judges of the court of Common Pleas, of the gout in his stomach, at his house in Lincoln's-inn fields. He was the eldest son of the celebrated Dr. Gilbert Burnet, bishop of Salisbury; was several years consul at Lisbon: and in November, 1741, made one of the judges of the Common Pleas, in room of judge Fortescue, who was appointed master of the rolls. On November 23, 1745, when the lord chancellor, judges, and association of the gentlemen of the law, waited on his majesty with their address, on occasion of the rebellion, he was knighted. He was an able and upright judge, and a great benefactor to the poor.[1]


To the Editor of the Every-Day Book.

Encouraged by your various expressions of willingness to receive notices of customs not already "imprinted" in your first volume, I take the liberty of presenting the first of several which I have not yet seen in print.

I am, sir,
Your constant reader,
J. O. W.



Gentle reader,
If thou art not over-much prejudiced by the advances of modernization, (I like a long new-coined word,) so that, even in these "latter days," thou dost not hesitate to place explicit reliance on ancient, yet infallible "sayings and doings," (ancient enough, since they have been handed down to us by our grandmothers—and who would doubt the weight and authority of so many years?—and infallible enough, since they themselves absolutely believed in their "quite-correctness,") I will tell thee a secret well worth knowing, if that can be called a secret which arises out of a well-known and almost universal custom, at least, in "days of yore." It is neither more nor less than the possession throughout "the rolling year" of a pocket never without money. Is not this indeed a secret well worth knowing? Yet the means of its accomplishment are exceedingly simple (as all difficult things are when once known); On the first day of the first new moon of the new year, or so soon afterwards as you observe it, all that you have to do is this:—on the first glance you take at "pale Luna's silvery crest" in the western sky, put your hand in your pocket, shut your eyes, and turn the smallest piece of silver coin you possess upside down in your said pocket. This will ensure you (if you will but trust its infallibility!) throughout the whole year that "summum bonum" of earthly wishes, a pocket never empty. If, however, you neglect, on the first appearance of the moon, your case is hopeless; nevertheless and notwithstanding, at a future new moon you may pursue the same course, and it will be sure to hold good during the then current month, but not a "whit" longer.

This mention of the new moon and its crest brings to mind a few verses I wrote some time ago, and having searched my scarp-book, (undoubtedly not such a one as Geoffery Crayon's,) I copied them from thence, and they are here under. Although written in the "merry merry month of May," they may be read in the "dreary dark December," for every new moon presents the same beautiful phenomenon.

A Simile.

Hast thou ne'er marked, when first the crescent moon
Shines faintly in the western horizon,
O'er her whole orb a slight soft blush o'erspread,
As though she were abashed to be thus seen
From the sun's couch with silver steps retreating?
Hast thou ne'er marked, that when by slow degrees,
Night after night, her crescent shape is lost,
And steadily she gains her stores of light,
Till half her form resplendently proclaims
An envious rival to the stars around—
Then mark'st thou not, that nought of her sweet blush
Remains to please the gazer's wistful sight,
And that she shines increasingly in strength,
Till she is full-orb'd, mistress of the sky?—
So is it with the mind, when silently
Into the young heart's void steals timorous love.
Then enter with it fancy's fairy dreams,
Visions of glory, reveries of bliss;
And then they come and go, till comes, alas!
Knowledge, forced on us, of the "world without!"
How soon these scenes of beauty disappear!
How soon fond thought sinks into nothingness!
How soon the mind discovers that true bliss
Reposes not on sublunary things,
But is alone when passion's blaze is o'er
In that high happy sphere, where love's supreme.

Here it may not be out of place to endeavour to describe, as familiarly as possible, the cause of the lunar appearance. Hold a piece of looking-glass in a ray of sunshine, and then move a small ball through the reflected ray: it is easy to conceive that both sides will be illumined: that side towards the sun by the direct sunbeam, and the side towards the mirror, though less powerfully, by the reflected sunbeam. In a somewhat similar manner, the earth supplies the place of the mirror, and as at every new moon, and for several days after the moon is in that part of her orbit between the earth and the sun, the rays of the sun are reflected from the earth to the dark side of the moon, and consequently to the inhabitants of that part of the moon, (if any such there be, and query why should there not be such?) the earth must present the curious appearance of a full moon of many times the diameter which ours presents.

J. O. W.


Mean Temperature   . . .   36 . 05.

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

1. Gentleman's Magazine. [return]