« PreviousContinue »
which is the motto “ Honi soit qui mal y pense" (evil be to him that evil thinks); the figure of St. George on horseback in armour, executed in gold enamelled, and enriched with jewels at the pleasure of the possessor, is worn pendant to a dark blue riband across the right shoulder. Of this illustrious order there have been many emperors, kings, and other distinguished persons. But now, Wila. liam, favour us with a sketch of the life of St.Mark, which will close our inquiries for the evening. .
WILLIAM. St. Mark the Evangelist, and martyr, whose day is the 25th in our calendar, was a Jew, of the tribe of Levi; and is supposed to have been indebted to the apostle Peter for his conversion to Christianity; he having attended that eminent character in all his travels, officiating as an amanuensis. Being sent by St. Peter into Egypt, he, by his mildness of manner, and force of argument, succeeded in converting a great number of the natives. But during his residence at Alexandria (of which place he is, by some authors, styled bishop), and while he was engaged in the duties of his priesthood, a great portion of the populace broke in upon him, and dragged him out of the church, through the streets of the city, and along the rugged coast, till he expired.
MARIA. What was the particular cause of this outrage on his person?
WILLIAM. There are various accounts given. The immense number of converts he is said to have made, no doubt excited the jealousy of the Egyptian priests, who, probably, instigated the mob to acts of violence against him. But it is generally understood to have arisen from the mistaken ardour of some of his followers, who, on a day of festival among the Egyptians, foolishly attacked the superstitious devotees, and destroyed their idols. Exasperated to madness by this gross assault upon their persons and their gods, they could be satisfied with nothing short
of the complete destruction of the head of the Christians' church—and the martyrdom of the saint was the result. · Mr. Constance. I believe, William, that your account of the death of St. Mark, notwithstanding it is the popular tradition, has been discountenanced by men of learning. The ancient authors are, for the most part, silent upon the subject of his demise; or if, indeed, any thing is to be gathered from them, it is that he met his death in the natural course. This happened on the 25th of April, in the eighth year of the Emperor Nero, on which day, however, the church commemorates his martyrdom. Another popular notion also is, that his body was translated from the church of Alexandria, to that which now bears his name in Venice. There is no authority for such an opinion, although he is well known to be the tutelar saint and patron of the Venetians.
Angelina. Was he one of the twelve disciples of Christ?
WILLIAM. No: but being the companion and disciple of St. Peter, he was entreated by the converts .of Rome, to commit to writing the admirable discourses they had heard from St. Peter and himself; with which request he complied, and composed the gospel which now bears his name; although in the earlier ages. it was designated—“The Gospel according to St. Peter.”
Mrs. CONSTANCE. It would appear, from what has been said of this eminent evangelist to-night, that the history of his life, and the manner of his death, are lost in the obscurity of time: but, it seems, there is little doubt of his having been a man of mild and engaging manners, which has probably induced the artists of every age and country, to vie with each other in portraying him with a placid and benignant countenance. He is usually depicted sitting with a pen in his hand, in the act of writing; by his side a lion couchant, winged, (the lion emblematic
of the nervous solidity of his writings; the wings, of the more than human powers displayed in their composition;) and in the back ground is to be seen a person dragged by the heels, in token of the manner by which his existence is supposed to have been terminated.
William having stated this to be the last day of note in the calendar for April, Mr. Constance, before dismissing his youthful friends, recalled their attention to the most striking facts which had been mentioned, and drew such conclusions, and made such applications as the subject appeared naturally to call forth. He also reminded them that it was wise to draw from Nature lessons of religion and morality; and as it had been already noticed, with evident delight, in the early part of the evening, that the season of Spring had commenced, he hoped they would not permit it to pass away without their serious reflections. “Spring,” he said, “ conspicuously displays the power and goodness of God, in whom there is no variableness nor shadow of turning. He by his almighty power, annually renovates the earth, and causes it to teem with productions for the benefit of his creatures. Can we, then, who observe this yearly evidence of his careful regard, extract no lesson worthy of being treasured in the mind ? Do we not feel an increased incitement to industry in good works, and a desire to know more of Him who is allwise, benevolent, and just ? Assuredly we do. Attend, therefore, to the warning voice now abroad; and learn from it, that, if the spring of your days be spent in activity and usefulness, your summer shall abound with fruitfulness and joy."
Hail, bounteous May, that dost inspire,
parto friendship sed through he has the law
The warm-hearted disposition and lively spirits of Angelina, were ever suggesting something new for the gratification of her juvenile friends ; and, as the Spring advanced, and the days became longer and warmer, she partook of the glowing inspiration of the season. Love and friendship sprung from her heart, as flowers from the field, and beamed through her sparkling eyes with a joyinspiring charm, that vied with the laughing appearance of the whole face of nature. It is not then to be wondered at, that, prompted by such feelings, and entertaining so friendly a disposition towards those around her, she should wish to make holyday of a day rendered famous by the poets. of olden time, and the breaking forth of whose morning never failed to awaken, in the minds of both old and young, a feeling of gratitude and love. In short, she wished to keep “ May-day :”-she wished to celebrate, by some appropriate, friendly festivity, the opening of a month, admired throughout Europe for its verdure, and its loveliness; and upon which a gladsome invitation
FIFTH MONTH, MAY.
seemed given to all creatures to celebrate the presence of Spring.
To obtain her desire, it was necessary she should have the consent of her parents; and, not merely the consent, but the hearty concurrence and affectionate assistance of those, to whom Angelina conceived she owed so much. With her, their approbation was all in all-deprived of it, the gayest amusements were flat and unprofitable. She therefore took the first opportunity that presented itself, to make them acquainted with her desire.
“And so you wish to keep May-day?" said Mr. Constance, smiling, and turning to his daughter, as she finished her application, which, indeed, had been inore particularly addressed to her mother. “And in what manner do you propose to celebrate it? Is it to be in the style of the Druids, making your rural sacrifice, or Beltein; or is it to be in imitation of the Romans, paying your devotions to the goddess Flora, and thereby turning heathen ?”
"No, papa,” replied Angelina, a little disconcerted, at the spirit of raillery with which her father seemed to view her request: " it is not in that way I wish to celebrate it.”
“O! then, I suppose,”: (he continued, in the same strain,) “ it is to be after the old English style; and you and your young friends are to rise a little after midnight, and sally forth to the neighbouring wood, break down the branches from the trees, then enter the gardens, pluck the flowers to decorate those branches, and”
“ La! papa," exclaimed Angelina, half laughing, “ how can you think so?”
« Well, my dear, it is impossible for me to understand what you mean by keeping May-day, if it be not in something after this manner.”
“What, in getting up at midnight to rob the gardens ! No no," she replied, laughing heartily, seeing that her father was disposed to joke ; " we shall keep it by no