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the evergeens into churches, says Brand, but it was hung up in great state in houses, and whatever female chanced to stand under it, the young men present claimed the right of saluting her, and of plucking off a berry at each kiss. Mr. Archdeacon Nares, in his valuable glossary, adds," there was a charm attached to it that the maid who was not kissed under it at Christmas would not be married in the year.”
The Puritans, rigid religionists, naturally disgusted with the excesses which had grown up under a licentious priesthood, sought to curtail the people's festivals ; but unhappily their zeal was without knowledge ; and they could only reform by uprooting. The Parliament began in 1642, by suppressing the plays,-relics of the mysteries of papal times, which formed a part of the amusements of the days, in which the unhappy Charles the First, following the example of his predecessors for many ages, had frequently taken part. This was followed, in 1647, by an ordinance, * forbidding “ the feast of the nativity,” (or Christide as it was then generally termed, in abhorrence of the word mass) with other holidays to be any longer observed. And, five years afterwards, not content with sanctioning the non-observance of that day, they proceeded to encourage its desecration, by directing the markets to be held thereon, and charging the city authorities “to protect from wrong and violence" those who should open their shops on that day!
It may with reason be urged, that in all the feasting and mummery of the olden time, there was not much like a commemoration of the epoch of the Gospel dispensation ; but we confess we should grieve to see a return of the gloomy severity of the Puritans. There is a happy medium which is more generally observed in our day,-a decent, if not a devout, observance of religious ordinances, combined with the exercise of kindly feelings towards connexions, neighbours, and dependents, the meeting of families whose members are at other times divided, the invitation to the social board of the lone beings whose home affords no gladdening circle of happy faces, the “ dealing of thy bread to the hungry and the bringing of the poor to thy house,” which the inspired volume declares to be the feast preferred by the Giver of all good, and which brings to the heart the “light breaking forth as the morning, and the (moral) health springing forth speedily.” Far distant be the day when such exercises of the best affections shall be restrained ; but alike removed be the scenes of noisy revelling, of excess and wantonness, which put open shame on that great Gift to the world, of which Christmas is the celebration.
Beautifully has a talented American author written of this happy season :-“Of all the old festivals, that of Christmas awakens the strongest and most heartfelt associations. There is a tone of sacred and solemn feeling that blends with our conviviality, and lifts the spirit to a state of hallowed and elevated enjoyment. The services of the Church about this season are extremely tender and inspiring. They dwell on the beautiful story of the origin of our faith, and the pastoral scenes that accompanied its announcement. They gradually increase in fervour and pathos during the season of Advent, until they break forth in full jubilee on the morning that brought peace and good will to men. I do not know a grander effect of music on the moral feelings, than to hear the full choir and the pealing organ performing a Christmas anthem in a cathedral, and filling every part of the vast pile with triumphant harmony."
* In allusion to these ordinances, we find Butler directing his wit against those who
“Quarrel with mince-pies, and disparage
Concluded from Page 168.
In resuming our paper with a glance at the fretful and disturbed reign of the second James, we are very painfully impressed by the fact, that popery, under every circumstance, is the fell foe of all civil reforms,—the vampire that exhausts the lifeblood of national greatness,—the tyrant whose iron heel falls foully on personal independence and free thought,—the huge demon that usurps the place of God, and trades with heaven and conscience as marketable commodities. The historian Hume says rightly enough, that it is a very dangerous experiment to trifle with the settled protestant complexion of the English mind, and if any stronger proof were needed, we would only advert to the present reign, furnishing as it does, on one hand an imperious bigot papist driving his kingly authority to the utmost; and on the other, a sturdy well-principled resistance, that sent back the affront with such terrible recoil, as soon, not only to abridge the monarch's power into the narrowest circle, but to make the very throne itself totter. Let the events of this reign burn into living remembrance, and stand out in so striking a relief, as not only to be recollected by protestant monarchs, but read by every religious man in the empire. Don't tell us that the devil, transformed into an angel of light, is less satanic; nor that the papacy, under the guise of modern tissues and phases, is less monstrous and destructive. To hate its principles and dogmas, is a part of virtuous, religious, and political duty. William of Orange was called to take the reins of a mis-managed government, and though in himself a cold, inflexible, and reserved man, mistrustful of his subjects, and narrowed in his religious views, yet his firmness of command l'esulted in the return of a healthful state of public mind, the advancement of the sciences, and the diffusion of domestic comfort. The clouds had already rolled back from the eastern firmament, and one by one arose those fixed stars of mental greatness, Locke, Boyle, and Dryden. This was the time also when the barber's business received a new impulse, for as the long beard was reduced to a small pointed lock of hair in the reign of Charles I., and mustachios only remained in the reign of James II., now the use of beards was discontinued altogether, and men looked smooth, sleek, and christianly. It would have been no small treat to listen to the lucubrations of Tim Latherem, who saw his labours extended by the length of visage over which his razor was now privileged to glide, nor a little amusing to hear him, as tradesmen are wont, depreciate the ability of a limping shoemaker who, to fill up his time and increase his gains, had trespassed upon his immunities by commencing barber, in all its important and mysterious varieties.--"Gentlemen, he can neither bleed, nor cure corns. charm away an ague fit, nor take a body respectably by the
Fah! He's a cobbler and his hands”—and here he broke off, to open the door for another customer, and if he forgot to renew the strain, it is likely he did less injury both to truth and conscience. And now breaks upon us, what is called, the Augustan Age of England, radiant with those constellations of literature, Newton, Addison, Pope, Steele, and Swift, and adorned by the trophies of such commanders as Marlborough, Peterborough, and Shovel. “ Our Town” rang with their praise and exploits, and especially as of yore, the “Royal Arms” the arena of politics and song, Shovel, who was the son of a Norfolk peasant, might have heard his name and doings jingled in rhyme, and trilled in such nasal
No. 12. Vol. I.
measures as would have made his very sword leap out of its scabbard in madness,
“For he's a brave lord admiral,
With a roodle doodle diddle lol the dal." since men's heads were much more filled with narratives of engagements than ought beside, and with the exception of the clergyman, few were improved or benefitted by the learned pens that now began to distil thoughts which are too indelible to be destroyed by time, and too valuable to be contrasted.
The House of, Brunswick-Hanover, brings us to a period when oral history is full of authenticity. Those hoary heads that lately went down to the grave like a ripe shock of corn, have amused us by stirring relations of what their fathers and our great grandsires said of the first and second Georges,-of their rough, cold, and heartless manners --of the Pretender and the young Pretender,-of Sir John Blunt's South Sea bubble, a scheme to buy up the national debt,--of the barbarous treatment of the Jacobites,-the alteration in the calendar, and so on. But we must let the panorama glide off, relieved as it is by curteseying and smiling dames with painfully pinched-in waists, the skirt standing out over enormous hoops, and the elbows adorned with huge ruffles. The hair too is drawn tight up over the forehead and towers above the head like Eddystone lighthouse. Look at the flounces, frills, and trimmings, the endless variety of colours exhibited on the same dress, and whilst wondering at the tom-fool fashion, we will avert our eyes and blush that dignified beings like ourselves should be led by its certain tyranny, yet uncertain laws.
The christian King and father of the people, George III., was permitted to reign long and gloriously, over a nation progressing year by year, in all that constitutes true and permanent greatness, and it would have been utterly strange, if the rising tide of general improvement had not reached “Our Town.”. Space compels us to be brief, so we pass by at once the stupendous events of these times, events which disruptured empires, destroyed thrones and sent their influences through the world's centre. It is ours, under the blesscd sceptre of Victoria, to enjoy peace, settled peace, and an amount of prosperity and general enlightenment, unprecedented in any other period of our History. Go through the hamlet nooks, the pretty towns, the bustling cities of Great Britain, and tell us whether you would exchange your native soil for the romantic hills of Switzerland, or the balmy air of Italy, No!
“ England with all thy faults I love thee still." And who can deny that “Our Town” is a fair feature in the general landscape, and especially that it presents a good degree of moral, social, and mental excellence. We have within our parish a few of the best hearts, in the universe, and some heads too, whose wisdom is worth respecting, and whose precepts are worth following. We have the cunning hand to write, and the powerful press to disseminate what is written, and by these and other means we hope, not only to become a happy people ourselves, but also the humble agents of communieating happiness to others.
EXCURSION TO THE DEAD SEA AND THE JORDAN.
Concluded from Page 171. At the first dawning, the tints of the rising sun, purple and gold, with the deep shadows concealing the nakedness of the land, gave beauty to the landscape. The mountains encircling the lake, which lay sleeping and motionless beneath them reflecting their images, supplied a noble outline which fancy might fill up at its pleasure with a thousand Edens; but as the sun ascended, the illusion was quickly
dissipated: the full glare of day displayed the wilderness in its true colouring of awful desolation--a desolation that was felt, and which depressed the spirits. The mountains assumed one uniform brown livery, unrelieved by even a passing shadow, for not a cloud was visible in the blazing heavens: the sea was of a dull, heavy, leaden hue, unlike the fresh transparent purple which the living waters of a still mountain-lake usually display. The ground over which we rode, riven into chasms and ravines showed not a blade of verdure: the few stunted shrubs that had struggled into life were masses of thorns with scarcely a leaf upon them, and wore the brown garb of the desert. The whole scene was a fearful exhibition of the blasting of the breath of the Almighty's displeasure!
In the centre of the plain stood a huge vulture, looking like the evil genius of the place, who suffered us to approach within pistol-shot, then sullenly rose with a loud scream of indignation at our invasion of his territories, and sailed slowly away over the lake to his eyry in the mountains of Moab. Enormous locusts, three and four inches in length, of a yellowish-green colour, were flying about; they were so large that, by the uncertain light of the early morning, I at first mistook them for birds; and a miserable hare, no larger than a rabbit, of a dusty gray colour, started from beneath a bush. These were the only wild creatures that we saw.
The shores at this northern extremity are remarkably flat, and strewed with vast quantities of drift-wood, white and bleached by the sun, which is brought down by “the swellings of Jordan.” I did not perceive any bitumen lying about; but, as I was unable to dismount, I could not make a narrow inspection. There were a considerable number of shells resembling the cockle along the shore. It was a sore disappointment to me that I was compelled to relinquish my intention of bathing in these memorable waters; one of my companions, however, did so, and his experience corroborated the accounts of their extraordinary buoyancy, which enabled him to float with a facility which he had never experienced in the sea.
The lake was so shallow that he was obliged to wade a long way before he could obtain sufficient depth for swimming; the bottom, when stirred, threw out quantities of fixed air bubbles, and the water, as it dried upon his skin, left a slight white incrustation, and was intolerably nauseous to the taste. My fellow-traveller related the result of his bath to one of the Frenchmen in company, who never went within two hundred yards of the lake, though he was there for the purpose of writing a book. “Ah, bah! monsier,” replied he, “it is all a fable.” So much for accuracy of investigation !
Proceeding along the shore of the Dead Sea, we arrived at the mouth of the river, which was not more than fifty or sixty yards across, flowing between steep banks about fourteen feet in height, with sedges growing thickly at the bottom; higher up, the stream is overshadowed by Willows and other shrubs. Riding along the bank for a couple of miles, and passing through a thicket of tamarisks and oleanders, at a bend of the river thickly shaded with willows, we found the spot which tradition marks as that where the Israelites marched over Jordan, and where our Saviour was baptised. It was here fordable, being not more than four feet deep; the current
apid. The pilgrims immediately stripped, and rushing down the steep bank, plunged into the sacred stream. Many had brought a white robe with them to wear at this ceremony, among whom was a Greek priest, who was busily engaged in dipping his compatriots “ seven times in Jordan.” The process of ablution lasted half an hour, which, if it did not, as they fondly imagined, wash their souls wbite, had that very desirable effect upon their bodies, which was in most instances highly needful. When they were re-clad, and had filled their bottles with the holy water, and cut down branches of the willows to be carried off as mementoes of the place, we returned towards Rihhah by a more direct route.
At some distance from the present bank of the Jordan, is another line of bank. Whether this has been formed by inundations, or whether in ancient times the Jordan was a far more considerable stream than it is at present, is a question which I am unable to determine. The river was very low, although at this time of year (the middle of April) one might suppose that the melting of the snows of Lebanon would have increased the body of its waters, if it ever did so.
Three Weeks in Palestine and Lebanon.
Who ever gazed upon the broad Sea without emotion ? Whether seen in stern majesty, hoary with the tempest, rolling its giant waves upon the rocks, and dashing with resistless fury some gallant bark on an iron-bound coast; or sleeping beneath the silver moon, its broad bosom broken but by a gentle ripple, just enough to reflect a long line of light, a path of gold upon a pavement of sapphire;- who has looked upon the Sea without feeling that it has power “To stir the soul with thoughts profound.”
Perhaps there is no earthly object, not even the cloud-cleaving mountains of an Alpine country, so sublime as the Sea in its severe and naked simplicity. Standing on some promontory, whence the eye roams far out upon the unbounded Ocean, we may conceive a nobler idea of the majesty of that God, who holdeth “the waters in the hollow of his hand.” But it is only when on a long voyage, climbing day after day to the giddy elevation of the mast-head, one still discerns nothing in the wide circumference but the same boundless waste of waters, that the mind grasps anything approaching an adequate idea of the grandeur of the Ocean. There is a certain indefiniteness
and mystery connected with it in various aspects, that gives it a character widely different from that of the land. At times, in peculiar states of the atmosphere, the the boundary of the horizon becomes undistinguishable, and the surface, perfectly calm, reflects the pure light of heaven in every part, and we seem alone in infinite space, with nothing around that appears tangible and real save the ship beneath our feet. At other times, particularly in the clear waters of the tropical seas, we look downward unmeasured fathoms beneath the vessel's keel, but still find no boundary; the sight is lost in one uniform transparent blueness. Mailed and glittering creatures of strange forms suddenly appear, play a moment in our sight, and with the velocity of a thought have vanished in their boundless depths. The very birds we see in the wild waste are mysterious: we wonder whence they come, whither they go, how they sleep, homeless and shelterless as they seem to be. The breeze, so fickle in its visitings, rises and dies away; but " thou knowest not whence it cometh and whither it goeth;” the night-wind moaning by, soothes the watchful helmsman with gentle sounds, that remind him