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What were ye born to be
An hour and half's delight,
And so to bid good-night?
And lose you quite.
May read how soon things have
Their end, though ne'er so brave :
We cannot conclude our April day more fitly than in the quaint words of the pious old George Herbert :
Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridal of the earth and sky,
For thou must die !
Sweet rose ! whose hue, early and brave,
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye,
And thou must die !
Sweet spring ! full of sweet days and roses,
A box where sweets compacted lie,
THE ANTIQUARIAN MONTH.
Writers are by no means agreed in their derivation of the Latin name assigned to this month. Ovid stoutly maintains that it was called April from the Greek name of Venus, 'Appodirn, the deity having been born of appor, 2. e. the sea-foam. At the same time he notices, although with the contempt becoming a descendant of Venus, that there were some who endeavoured to rob the goddess of her just rights by deriving the month from aperire, to open, because at this season the spring uncloses everything, and the prolific earth is open to receive the seeds. 'Macrobius gives us a variety of derivations for the word. First he says that as Romulus called the first month of the year March after his father, Mars, so he named the second month April, in honour of the mother of Æneas; but he admits that some have imagined the founder of Rome to have been influenced by other and more abstract considerations, and that as he bad given March to the slayer of mankind, so he appropriated April to Venus, that her gentleness might temper his ferocity. Scaliger, however, denies the authority both of Ovid and Macrobius, and oddly enough chooses to derive April from aper, a wild boar,
asserting that the Romans in this only imitated the Greeks, who called February (xaonBoliwr, from the striking of deer, which were then immolated to Diana.
The same uncertainty seems to prevail in regard to the etymology of the Saxon term for this month, Oster, or Oster Monat. Verstegan says, “they (the Saxons) called April by the name of Oster-Monat. The winds, indeed, by ancient observation, were found in this month most commonly to blow from the east, and east in the Teutonic is ost.
All Fools' Day. The custom of making April fools on the first day of this month is exceedingly old, as well as general. Both Maurice and Colonel Pierce have shown that it prevailed in India, and the latter says that it forms a part of the Huli Festival.—“During the Huli, when mirth and festivity reign among the Hindoos of every class, one subject of diversion is to send people on errands and expeditions that are to end in disappointment, and raise a laugh at the expense of the person sent. The Huli is always in March, and the last day is the general holiday. I have never yet heard any account of the origin of this English custom ; but it is unquestionably very ancient, and is still kept up even in great towns, though less in thein than in the country. With us it is chiefly confined to the lower class of people, but in India high and low join in it; and the late Sourajah Doulah, I am told, was very fond of making Huli fools, though he was a Mussulman of the highest rank. They carry the joke here so far as to send letters making appointments in the names of persons, who it is known must be absent from their houses at the time fixed upon; and the laugh is always in proportion to the trouble given."
This custom seems to have prevailed also in Sweden, for we find that Toreen, in his “ Voyage to Suratte,” says, “ The 1st of April we set sail on board the ship called the
Gothic Lion,' after the west wind had continued to blow for five months together at Gothenburgh, and had almost induced us to believe that there is a trade-wind in the Skaggerac Sea. The wind made April fools of us, for we were forced to return before Skagen, and to anchor at Rifwefiol."
Amongst the French the custom itself exists, though the name attached to it is changed. With them the person imposed upon is called a "poisson d'Avril,” which Bellingen explains to be a corruption of passion, and contends that it is a memorial of the Jews' mockery of our Saviour in taking him backwards and forwards from Annas to Caiaphas, from Caiaphas to Pilate, from Pilate to Herod, and from Herod back again to Pilate.
Palm Sunday, Dominica Palmarum, Dominica in Ramis Palmarum, Parasceue, or Pascha Floridum, is the sixth and last Sunday in Lent, and the one immediately preceding Easter. It was thus called from the old Roman Catholic custom of carrying palm-branches in procession on that day, in commemoration of the palms or olives, that the Jews strewed in the way of Christ when he went up to Jerusalem. Strutt, in the third volume of “Horda Angel-Cynnan," quotes from an old manuscript, “ wherefor holi Chirche this day makeith solempne processyon, in mynde of the processyon that Cryst made this dey; but for encheson that wee have noone Olyve that bearith greene leaves, therefor we taken Palme, and geven instede of Olyve, and bear it about in processione.'
Hospinian, however, denies that any mention of this custom occurs till about the year 455, and is extremely indignant with Polydorus for saying that it was instituted by the Apostles.
It had also the name of Dominica Magna, or the Great Lord's Day, because of the "great and many infallible good things that were conferred on the faithful the week ensuing, namely, death abolished, slander, and the tyranny of Satan, removed by the painful and ignominious death of our Saviour."
Lastly, it was called Capitilavium by the vulgar, because it was a custom on that day to wash the heads of the children, who were to be anointed, lest they should be unclean from the previous observance of Quadragesima.
The boughs used on these occasions were previously blessed by the priest, a solemn ritual being appointed for the purpose. In the Doctrine of the Mass, as quoted by Brand, we read that the priest was directed, after the conclusion of the Gospel, to array himself in a red cope, and, taking his place upon the third step of the altar, to
177 turn towards the south, palm-flowers and branches of palm being first laid on the altar for the clergy, and upon the altar-step on the south side for others. He is then to recite certain prayers, appropriated to the occasion, and accompanied by crossings and genuflexions, duly established in the rubric, the whole being clearly the invention of monkish times, if we may believe the authority of Hospinian as to the period when the custom originated. So far, however, it is easy to understand the policy of the priesthood, who lost no opportunity of impressing scriptural events upon the people's minds, by connecting them with fasts or holidays. But one cannot help being surprised at finding these ceremonies so frequently of a low and ridiculous nature, and calculated above all measure to bring the thing celebrated into contempt. Thus on the present occasion the progress of Christ to Jerusalem was burlesqued, rather than commemorated, by a wooden image