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All the Days came to their day. Covers were provided for three hundred and sixty-five guests at the principal table; with an occasional knife and fork at the sideboard for the Twenty-ninth of February.
I should have told you that cards of invitation had been issued. The carriers were the Hours ; twelve little, merry, whirligig foot-pages, as you should desire to see, that went all round, and found out the persons invited well enough, with the exception of Easter Day, Shrove Tuesday, and a few such Moveables, who had lately shifted their quarters.
Well, they all met at last, foul Days, fine Days, all sorts of Days, and a rare din they made of it. There was nothing but, Hail! fellow Day-well met—brother Day-sister Day, -only Lady Day kept a little on the aloof, and seemed somewhat scornful. Yet some said, Twelfth Day cut her out and out, for she came in a tiffany suit, white and gold, like a queen on a frost-cake, all royal, glittering, and Epiphanous. The rest came, some in green, some in white--but old Lent and his family were not yet out of mourning. Rainy Days came in, dripping; and sunshiny Days helped them to change their stockings. Wedding Day was there in his marriage finery, a little the worse for wear. Pay Day came late, as he always does; and Doomsday sent word-he might be expected.
April Fool (as my young lord's jester) took upon himself to marshal the guests, and wild work he made with it. It would have posed old Erra Pater to have found out any given Day in the year to erect a scheme upon-good Days, bad Days, were so shuffled together, to the confounding of all sober horoscopy.
He had stuck the Twenty-first of Junc next to the Twentysecond of December, and the former looked like a maypole siding a marrow-bone. Ash Wednesday got wedged in (as was concerted) between Christmas and Lord Mayor's Days. Lord! how he laid about him! Nothing but barons of beef and turkeys would go down with him—to the great greasing and detriment of his new sackcloth bib and tucker. And still Christmas Day was at his elbow, plying him with the wassail-bowl, till he roared, and hiccoughed, and protested there was no faith in dried ling, but commended it to the devil for a sour, windy, acrimonious, censorious, hy-po-crit-critcritical mess, and no dish for a gentleman. Then he dipped his fist into the middle of the great custard that stood before his left-hand neighbour, and daubed his hungry beard all over with it, till you would have taken him for the Last Day in December, it so hung in icicles.
At another part of the table, Shrove Tuesday was helping
the Second of September to some cock-broth—which courtesy the latter returned with the delicate thigh of a hen pheasant --so there was no love lost for that matter. The Last of Lent was sponging upon Shrovetide's pancakes; which April Fool perceiving, told him he did well, for pancakes were proper to a good fry-day.
In another part, a hubbub arose about the Thirtieth of January, who, it seems, being a sour, Puritanic character, that thought nobody's meat good or sanctified enough for him, had smuggled into the room a calf's head, which he had had cooked at home for that purpose, thinking to feast thereon incontinently; but as it lay in the dish, March Manyweathers, who is a very fine lady, and subject to the megrims, screamed out there was a “ human head in the platter," and raved about Herodias' daughter to that degree, that the obnoxious viand was obliged to be removed; nor did she recover her stomach till she had gulped down a Restorative, confected of Oak Apple, which the merry Twenty-ninth of May always carries about with him for that purpose.
The king's health* being called for after this, a notable dispute arose between the Twelfth of August (a zealous old whig gentlewoman) and the Twenty-third of April, (a niew-fangled lady of the tory stamp,) as to which of thein should have the honour to propose it. August grew hot upon the matter, affirming time out of mind the prescriptive right to have lain with her, till her rival had basely supplanted her; whom she represented as little better than a kept mistress, who went about in fine clothes, while she (the legitimate BIRTHDAY) had scarcely a rag, &c.
April Fool, being made mediator, confirmed the right in the strongest form of words to the appellant, but decided for peace' sake that the exercise of it should remain with the present possessor. At the same time, he slily rounded the first lady in the ear, that an action might lie against the crown for bigeny.
It beginning to grow a little duskish, Candlemas lustily bawled out for lights, which was opposed by all the Days who protested against burning daylight. Then fair water was handed round in silver ewers, and the same lady was observed to take an unusual time in washing herself.
May Day, with that sweetness which is peculiar to her, in a neat speech proposing the health of the founder, crowned her goblet (and by her example the rest of the company) with garlands. This being done, the lordly New Year from the upper end of the table, in a cordial but somewhat lofty
* The late king.
lone, returned thanks. He felt proud on an occasion of meeting so many of his worthy father's late tenants, promised to improve their farms, and, at the same time, to abate (if any. thing was found unreasonable) in their rents.
At the mention of this, the four Quarler Days involuntarily looked at each other, and smiled ; April Fool whistled to an old tune of “ New Brooms ;" and a surly old rebel at the farther end of the table (who was discovered to be no other than the Fifth of November) muttered out, distinctly enough to be heard by the whole company, words to this effect, that, “ when the old one is gone, he is a fool that looks for a better." Which rudeness of his the guests, resenting, unani. mously voted his expulsion ; and the malecontent was thrust out neck and heels into the cellar, as the properest place for such a boutefeu and firebrand as he had shown himself to be.
Order being restored—the young lord (who, to say truth, had been a litle ruffled, and put beside his oratory) in as few, and yet as obliging words as possible, assured them of entire welcome ; and, with a graceful turn, singling out poor Twentyninth of February, that had sat all this while mumchance at the sideboard, begged to couple his health with that of the good company before him—which he drank accordingly; observing, that he had not seen his honest face
time these four years—with a number of endearing expressions besides. At the same time, removing the solitary Day from the forlorn seat which had been assigned him, he stationed him at his own board, somewhere between the Greek Calends and Latter Lammas. Ash Wednesday, being now called upon
with his eyes fast stuck in his head, and as well as the Canary he had swallowed would give him leave, struck up a carol, which Christmas Day had taught him for the nonce ; and was followed by the latter, who gave “ Miserere" in fine style, hitting off the mumping notes and lengthened drawl of Old Mortification with infinite humour. April Fool swore they had exchanged conditions : but Good Friday was observed to look extremely grave; and Sunday held her fan before her face, that she might not be seen to smile.
Shrovetide, Lord Mayor's Day, and April Fool, next joined in a glee
Which is the properest day to drink ?" in which all the Days chiming in, made a merry burden.
They next fell to quibbles and conundrums. The question being proposed, who had the greatest number of followersthe Quarter Days said, there could be no question as to that,
for a song,
for they had all the creditors in the world dogging their heels. But April Fool gave it in favour of the Forty Days before Easter; because the debtors in all cases outnumbered the creditors, and they kept lent all the year.
All this while, Valentine's Day kept courting pretty May, who sat next him, slipping amorous billets-doux under the table, till the Dog Days (who are naturally of a warm constitution) began to be jealous, and to bark and rage exceedingly. April Fool, who likes a bit of sport above measure, and had some pretensions to the lady besides, as being but a cousin once removed—clapped and hallooed them on; and as fast as their indignation cooled, those mad ways, the Ember Days, were at it with their bellows, to blow it into a flame; and all was in a ferment: till old Madam Septuagesimu (who boasts herself the Mother of the Days) wisely diverted the conversation with a tedions tale of the lovers which she could reckon when she was young ; and of one Master Rogation Day in particular, who was for ever putting the question to her ; but she kept him at a distance, as the chronicle would tell—by which I apprehend she ineant the Almanac. Then she rambled on to the Days that were gone, the good old Days, and so to the Days before the Flood—which plainly showed her old head to be little better than crazed and doited.
Day being ended, the Duys called for their cloaks and greatcoats, and took their leaves. Lord Mayor's Day went off in a mist, as usual ; Shortest Day in a deep black fog, that wrapped the little gentleman all round like a hedge-hog. Two Vigils—so watchmen are called in heaven-saw Christmas Day safe home—they had been used to the business before. Another Vigil-a stout, sturdy patrol, called the Eve of St. Christopher-seeing Ash Wednesday in a condition little better than he should be-e'en whipped him over his shoulders, pick-a-back fashion, and Old Mortification went floating home, singing—
On the bat's back do I fly,"
and a number of old snatches besides, between drunk and sober, but very few Aves or Penitentiaries (you may believe me) were among them. Longest Day set off westward in beautiful crimson and gold-the rest, some in one fashion, some in another ; but Valentine and pretty May took their departure together in one of the prettiest silvery twilights a Lover's Day could wish to set in.
I do not know when I have been better pleased than at being invited last week to be present at the wedding of a friend's daughter. I like to make one at these ceremonies, which to us old people give back our youth in a manner, and restore our gayest season, in the remembrance of our own success, or the regrets, scarcely less tender, of our own youthful disappointments, in this point of a settlement. On these occasions I am sure to be in good-humour for a week or two after, and enjoy a reflected honeymoon. Being without a family, I am flattered with these temporary adoptions into a friend's family; I feel a sort of cousinhood, or uncleship, for the season; I am inducted into degrees of affinity; and, in the participated socialities of the little community, I lay down for a brief while my solitary bachelorship. I carry this humour so far, that I take it unkindly to be left out, even
when a funeral is going on in the house of a dear friend. But to my subject.
The union itself had been long settled, but its celebration had been hitherto deferred, to an almost unreasonable state of suspense in the lovers, by some invincible prejudices which the bride's father had unhappily contracted upon the subject of the too early marriages of females. He has been lecturing any time these five years—for to that length the courtship has been protracted-upon the propriety of putting off the solemnity till the lady should have completed her five-and-twentieth year. We all began to be afraid that a suit, which as yet had abated of none of its ardours, might at last be lingered on, till passion had time to cool, and love go out in the experiment. But a little wheedling on the part of his wife, who was by no means a party to these overstrained notions, joined to some serious expostulations on that of his friends, who, from the growing infirmities of the old gentleman, could not promise ourselves many years' enjoyment of his company, and were anxious to bring matters to a conclusion during his lifetime, at length prevailed; and on Monday last the daughter of my old friend, Admiral -, having attained the womanly age of nineteen, was conducted to the church by her pleasant cousin J- who told some few years older.
Before the youthful part of my female readers express their indignation at the abominable loss of time occasioned to