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January 18.

St. Priscian.

In the church of England calendar.


This is still observed in some parts of England.

Don Sebastian.

In default of holiday making by the editor, who during the Chrismas season has been employed in finishing the indexes, which will be in the readers' hands in a few days to enable them to complete the first volume of this work, he has now and then turned to his collections to relieve the wearisomeness of his occupation, and finding the following anecdote in "The Times" of Dec. 1825, he subjoins from his stores an illustration of the curious fact it relates to. "It may be mentioned," The Times says, "as a singular species of infatuation, that many Portuguese residing in Brazil as well as Portugal, still believe in the coming of Sebastian, the romantic king, who was killed in Africa about the year 1578, in a pitched battle with the emperor Muley Moluc. Some of these old visionaries will go out, wrapped in their large cloaks, on a windy night, to watch the movements of the heavens, and frequently, if an exhalation is seen flitting in the air, resembling a falling star, they will cry out, "there he comes!" Sales of horses and other things are sometimes effected, payable at the coming of king Sebastian. It was this fact that induced Junot, when asked what he would be able to do with the Portuguese, to answer, what can I do with a people who are still waiting for the coming of the Messiah and king Sebastian?"

This superstitious belief is mentioned in a MS. Journal of a Residence at Lisbon in 1814, written by an individual personally known to the editor, who extracts from the narrative as follows:—

It is the daily practice at Lisbon for the master of the family to cater for the wants of his table himself. According to ancient usage, he must either employ and pay a porter to carry home his purchases at market, or send a servant for them. A certain doctor, well known to be a lover of fish, and an enthusiastic expectant of Don Sebastian, was watched several days in the fish market by some knavish youths, who contrived a trick upon him. One morning, they observed him very intent upon a fine large fish, yet disagreeing with the fishmonger as to its price. One of these knaves managed to inform the man, if he would let the doctor have the fish at his own price he would pay the difference, and the fishmonger soon concluded the bargain with the doctor. As soon as he was gone, one of the party, without the fishmonger's knowledge, insinuated down the fish's throat a scroll of parchment curiously packed, and shortly afterwards, the doctor's servant arrived for his master's purchase. On opening the fish, in order to its being cooked, the parchment deposit was found, and the credulous man, to his astonishment and delight, read as follows:—

"Worthy and well-beloved Signor ———, respected by the saints and now revered by men. From our long observation of thine heart's integrity, and in full knowledge of thy faith and firm belief, thou art selected as the happy instrument of our return; but know, most worthy Signor, the idea of a white horse in clouds of air, is a mere fable invented by weak men. It will be far otherwise, but be thou circumspect and secret, and to thee these things will be explained hereafter. Know, that by the element of water, by which we make this known, we shall return. Not far from Fort St. Juliana is a spot thou knowest well, a smooth declivity towards the sea; it is there we first shall touch the shore of our loved Portugal to-morrow's night at twelve. Be thou there alone, and softly gliding on the water's surface a small boat shall appear. Be silent and remain quiet on our appearance, for until we can join our prayers with thine thou must not speak; load not thyself with coin, for soon as dawn appears a troop of goodly horse from Cintra's Road will rise upon thy view. But be not destitute of wherewith to bear thine expense. All thy future life shall be thy prince's care.


The trick succeeded; for the next day the doctor left Lisbon as privately as possible, while his trepanners who had watched him quickly followed, two in a boat hired for the purpose, and two on shore, to make a signal. The boat arrived at the appointed hour, and the doctor expected nothing less than the landing of the long expected and well-beloved Sebastian. It reached the shore, and by those who stepped out and their confederates concealed on the beach, the doctor was eased of some doubloons he had with him, received a cool dip in the water, and was left on the beach to bewail his folly. The story soon got wind, and now (in 1814) there are wags who, when they observe the doctor coming, affect to see something in the sky; this hint concerning Don Sebastian's appearance is usually intimated beyond the reach of the doctor's cane.


Mean Temperature   . . .   36 . 12.