Page images
PDF
EPUB

answer.

are still some small tribes of Be- weight in the current coin of the douins in this country, who profess country, I have very often enquired Christianity; they are chiefly to be why they preferred ploughing met with about Zúan and that neigh. amongst the ruins of ancient cities, bourhood.

but could never get a satiefactory Among the ruins of Udena, are a great many deep wells, and in these I have the honour to be, sir, the wild pigeons build their nests; Your most obedient servant, by throwing stones down the wells,

John Jacksoo. the pigeons flew up, by which ineans John Wilkinson, esq. M. D. F. R. S. we caught several.

and F. A.S. While examining the ruins of Udena, the strange infatuation of the ignorant Bedouins, to prefer Some Remarks on the Ancient Cere. sowing their corn in the midst of

mony of the Feast of Fools, and is ruins, struck iny mind very forcibly; a Sculptured Girdle wora at its these ruins being in a more perfect Celebration. By Francis Doux, state than those of Carthage, there

Esq. F. A. S. is, consequently, not so much arable

Read May 10, 1804. land; but wherever they find a small patch amongst the ruins, they are During the early ages of Chris. sure to plough it. I could not easily tianity, when the minds of men wer: account for this strange notion of yet under the dominion of their pas the Bedouins, because it is certainly judices for the Pagan superstitions

. contrary to nature. In the kingdom it had become necessary on the per: of Tunis, the quantity of corn de. of those who held the reins of cirl pends en:irely on the quantity of and ecclesiastical government, eithe rain, and it cannot be supposed that to endure the practice of certain water can lodge much amongst remonies and amusements, to stic ruins, where the whole is under the common people had beca mined ; it must of course drain off. long accustomed, or to substitare alınost as fast as it falls : it cannot others in their stead, which bore 2: do so upon a good solid ground, least some resemblance to the which will naturally imbibe the One of the most ancient of the late moisture, and retain it a considerable kind, and wbich appears to have time.

been the greatest favourite, was the I imagined they might have some known by the name of the “ Feast other inducement, more than the of the Calends.” It had arisen est bare prospect of the crops of corn; of the Roman Saturnalia, and it and that was the prospect they had sembled, in a great degre, the of finding treasure; was this their excesses of a modern carnival. principal motive, they certainly Amidst various other absurdities me would know how to turn whatever ran through the streets disguised as they found to a better account. A old women, and even as brute aniBedouin will sell the most valuable mals, whence this ceremony has antique to a Jew, for a caroob, (1įd. been sometimes distinguished by the

English money) and the gold and names of " Vetula," and "Cervosilver for much less than their la.” As it was attended by the

3

commission

[graphic]

commission of many crimes, and had In France a very singular cere. become in all respects an object of mony crept into the church about ecclesiastical censure, we accord- this time, under the name of “ La ingły find the pious Tertullian, with Fête des Foudiacres ;” or the feast many oiher fathers of the church, of subdeacons. The learned M. Duvehemently declaiming against it; cange conjectures that this expres. and St. Augustine, in one of his sion did not indicate that the subsermons, menaces severe punishment deacons were exclusively the actors against all who should encourage it; in this farce, but that it is to be lite. but the anathemas of these holy rally expounded, diacres faouls, or men appear to have no effect in drunken clerks, from their baccha. checking these impious fooleries, for nalian excesses; an opinion, which they were continued without inter- with great reverence to so high an ruption even to the middle ages, the authority, I cannot help regarding religious and other manuscripts of as very apocryphal. It is more gewhich, particularly those of the nerally known under the title of the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth Feast of Fools, on which occasion in centuries, furnish many allusions to the cathedrals, a mock bishop or them, depicted in their margins. The archbishop was elected. Sometimes late ingenious Mr. Struit, whose in- he was called an abbot, and in those defatigable but ill-rewarded services churches that were more immediately will be duly appreciated by every under the papal jurisdiction, a pope. real antiquary, has preserved a me- There was no unity of time in ibis morial of these representations, but election, for it is found to have been not aware of their precise significa. celebrated, according to variety of tion, he has included them in the place, on Christmas-day, St. Ste. general mass of ancient mummeries. phen's, St. John's, and the Innocents'

These festivities, which prevailed Days; the Circumcision, the Epi. at the opening of the new year, were, phany, and on some of the octaves it is to be hoped, originally confined of those festivals. An ancient cereto the laity; but it is certain that monial for the church of Viviers they were very soon imitated by the states, that the abbot was elected op clergy. In the ninth century ibe the 17th of December. It is neces. acts of the eighth general council ofsary to observe, that an episcopus Constantinople, indistinctly refer to stultorum bad been already elected some ecclesiastical mockeries, that on the Innocents' day of the preseem to have relation to the before. ceding year, but he enjoyed his offi. mentioned excesses. During the cial rights only during the three iwellth century, a festival remained, days of Sı. Stephen, St. Jobn, and called “ Libertas Decembrica,” the Innocents’. At Auxerre the ubich in some degree resembled the ceremony took place on the 18th of Roman Saturnalia, inasmuch as the July. in the celebrated Bedford archbishops and bishops degraded Missal, now in the possession of Mr. themselves by playing at dice and Edwards, there is a calendar, in acher games, and dancing with the whicb, under the month of February, inferior clergy in the monasteries the following inscription occurs, ind episcopal houses.

" Comment a Ferrier on souloit faire 3 S 3

la

In short,

men

la feste aux fils et aux mors." One procession through the streets, in a might be supposed at first sight to triumplial car, filled with ordure, imagine that the Feast of Fools is with which he bespartered the spechere alluded to as celebrated in țhis tators. His attendants ibrew thenmonth ; but as the fabrication of selves into all kinds of indecer! this calendar uniformly refers to attitudes, saluting the people in the feasts a:id ceremonies in use among grossestand most lascivit us language, the ancients, it is evident that in Sometimes obey danced in the cher this instance he applies the above in the churches, and chaunted diese 'expression to the Quirinalia, which lure songs. They even profaned be were also termed feriæ stultorum, altars by converting them inne between which and the Feast of tables for their provisions, carousing Fools in question, there is not the in the most ríorous manner, and slightest connection. The illumina. crowning their impious orgies with tion that belongs to this line, repre- playing al dice and other games. sents several men (easting in a Nor should it be vmitted to state church-yard, who have been sup- that the ceremony of buretz posed by an eminent antiquary, in incense was likewise ridiculed with his account of this invaluable ma- the sm ke of old shoes, which they nu-cript, to wear fools' caps ; but burned for this purpose. this will be found, on attentive exa. the excesses of these foels and mad 'mination of the figures, to be a mis. may very well warrant the

take, probably originating from a expression of a writer on the subject, part of the above morio. The ub- anu bas emphatically called them ject of it refers to another ancient the abornination of desulation. festival, on the 21st of Feb. viz. the The en rmities of this idle cereferaliu, or seast of the dead, inslia mony became al length so excesyjur, tuled by Numa, in honour of the that it might well be expected scre manes, and sometimes called paren- effort would be made in curbane tália.

It is to be supposed that si- counteract, if not wholly to abah milas variations would arise in the it. Accordingly, many of the manner of celebrating this indeco- councils issued their decrees agains: rous violation of every thing that them, but as it should seem to very was sacred and solemn, yet the prin. little purpose ; so deeply rooted cipal incidents were at least univorm, were they become in the minds of and these were, a ludicrous para- the lower orders of the clergy, and phrase of the service of the mass, of the common people every where, performed by persons with blackened who always joined in and supporte: faces, disguised in masquerade ha- them.' Mons. Da Titliot, a writer bits of women, of fools, and of brute who has given many curious partanimals, exhibiting, in this respeci, culars relating to this ceremors. evident traces of ihe Veluta and but whose treatise is on the whole Cervula, already noticed. The bis very confused and immethodica!, shop, or abbot, was'arrayed in mock from his indiscriminate admission e: pontificals, parily borrowed from extraneous inatter, bas cited several the dresses of jesters and busfoons, ecclesiastical decrees for its abolitios. and after his election carried in Ducange supposes it to have been

altogette:

altogether suppressed in France in neously, called missals, as well as the year 1444, when the faculty of some of the sculptures in ancient theology at Paris issued circular carbedrals, have a reference to the letters for that purpose ; but it seems subject in question. mpossible to state with any precision, The Feast of Fools soon made iis when it disappeared entirely at any way into England, but its vestiges place, except at Sens, where it here are by no means so numerous ceased in 1528, because it is said 10 as among our neighbours. The ear. pe mentioned in edicts of a much liest mention of it that I have traced, ater dare, and 'particularly in one is under the reign of Henry III. o low as 1620; but there is very when Grosthead, bishop of Lincoln, good reason for supposing it to have in a letter addressed to the dean and been confounded with the Feast of chapter of that diocese, about the be Innocents, which, from the best year 1240, thus speaks of it consideration I have been able to 66 Erecrabilem etiam consuetudinem žive it, appears to have been a very quæ consuerit in quibusdam ecclesiis fifferent ceremony, and to have observari de faciendo festo stullorum, xisted long after the abolition of the speciali muthoritate rescripta apostolici Feast of Fools.

penitus inhibemus, ne de domo ora. M. Ducange has cited the ceremo- tionis fiut domus ludibrii, et acerbitas nial for this festival, belonging to circumcisionis Domini Jesu jocis et he cathedral of Viviers, in 1365, voluptatibus subsannetur. Qua propund another for Sens has been ter vobis mandumus in virtute obe. described by M. Lancelot, in vol. 7, dientiæ firmiter injungentes, quatenus of the “ Mem. de l'Acad. des Inscrip- festum stultorum cum sit ranitate pletions et Belles Lettres.The latternum et voluptatibus spurcum, Deo s a long folio, covered with ivory, odibile et dæmonibus amabile, de ce. on which some of the ceremonies of tero in ecclesia Lincoln die venerande he festival itself are said to be rudely solemnitatis circumcisionis Domini culptured. Of this a transcript on nullatenus permittatis fieri." What. vellum is preserved in the French ever effect ibis inbibition might have national library at Paris. No. 1351, had in the place to which it immewhich is thus described “ Officium diately related, it is certain that the tultorum ad usum metropoleus et Feast of Fools continued to be obo: premitialis ecclesiæ Senonensis: cum served in various parts of the kingolis, musicis.At the beginning is dom, for more than a century aftereritten, “ Transcriptus est liber se- wards. It was probably abolished fuens, vel potius officium, er originali about the end of the fourteenth verantiquo in thesauro metropolitanæ century; for, in some statutes and Senonensis ecclesiæ conservato, ex ordinations, made by Thomas Arueutraque parte foliis eburneis munito, del, archbishop of York, for the tunc in auctivis capitularibus incluso.” better government of the collegiate Engravings from these ivory covers church of St. John, at Beverley, in vould be very desirable, and I shall 1391, there is the following regulaake this opportunity of hazarding tion :-" In festis insuper sanctorum

remark, that many of the grotesque Stephani, Diaconis, et Johannis, Viigures in the illuminated religious cariis ; ac sanctorum innocentium, nanuscripts generally, but erro. Thuribularis et Choristis ; in die

3 S4

etian

These were,

etiam circumcisionis domini, subdia- different occasions. conis et clericis de secunda forma de the feast of the ass; the elections of victualibus annis singulis, secundum an abbe des conards op cornards, of morem et cunsuctudinem ecclesiæ ab an abbe des esclaffards, of an abbe antiquo usitatos, debite ministrabit de malgouverne, whence our abbat. ( i.e. præpositus), antiqua consuetu- . or lord of mis-rule, ofa prince des sets, dine immo verius corruptela regis (sometimes called mere folle, or fole stultoruin infra ecclesiam et extra os a prince de plaisance, a prince de hactenus usitata sublata et extirpata.” l’esirille, a prevot des' elourdis, 9

This festival has by many writers roi des ribauds, and se me ochers ci a been strangely confounded with the similar nature. It is 1.8 time to ceremony of electing a boy-bishop advert to the more Thediate sus in cathedrals and other places. ject of the extik.. in which has Ducange, followed by Du Tilliot, given rise to this imperfect comnequotes from Dugdale's Monasticon, nication. It is a girdle which traan inventory of ornaments, &c. dilen reports to have been worn by belonging to ibe cathedral of York, the abbot of fools, in the catbedra in 1510, wherein are mentioned å of Dijon, on his election into oface small mirre and a ring, for the From the style of it, I conceive i: “ episcopus puerorum," from which to belong to the fourieenth century. he has inferred that the Feast of It consists of thirty-five square Fools continued till that period in pieces of wood, so contrived as 13 England: but it is evident that ibis let into each other, by which means refers to the election of a boy-bishop, it easily assumes a circular fert. a ceremony not only of a serious On these are carved a variety si nature, and instituted in bonour of ludicrous and grotesque figures, St. Nicholas, or, as some have, consisting of fools, tumblers, huntsthink erroneously, conceived, in men, and animals, with others, tha: remembrance of the massacre of the from their licentiousness do N: Innocents, but which uniformly took admit of a particular descriptior. place on the 6th of December, St. They bear, on the whole, e very Nicholas's Day, from which time to striking similitude to the sculptats the Feast of the Innocents, this boy- on the seats of tbe stalls in our csbi-hup remained in office. But I thedrals and monastic buildings purposely wave any further discuss which were, no doubt, conceived : sion of ihis subject, because I feel ridicule of the clergy in general, bo: much pleasure in reflecting that it more particularly of the friars; (1, will most probably find a place as I have already observed, they amidst a general exhibition of our may, in some instances at least, rezi popular customs and antiquities, by to the mockeries that were practicat ihe masterly hand of my valuable in celebrating the Feast of Fools. and learned friend, the secretary of only remains to add, ihat for tee this society, and shall conclude my possession of this, perhaps unique remarks on the Feast of Fools, with curiosity, I am indebted to the lidestating that numerous imitations of rality of monsieur l'abbe de Tersoa, it arose in various places, and on of Paris.

MISCELLANEOUS

« PreviousContinue »