Page images
PDF
EPUB

clusion to our account; but I must now be allowed to introduce to your notice an amiable Christian priest, whose name is noted on the 6th. The first of last month, you no 'doubt, remember, was devoted to the memory of St. Remigius, of France; St. Leonard, or Leinard, of whom I am about to speak, was the friend, convert, and countryman of that distinguished character. He was admired for Christian zeal and eminent piety, and induced to quit the court of Clovis I. for the retirement of the monastery. He, however, was appointed bishop of Limoges, and concluded a life of labour in the cause of Christ, about the year 559. He is regarded as the prisoner's friend and guardian saint. * ANGELINA. Then he used to visit and relieve them, I suppose ? : WILLIAM. It is stated that his royal master entertained such a high respect for his character, as to grant him the privilege of selecting from amongst the many poor wretches lingering in prisons, those whom he thought worthy of being set at liberty.' Nothing further of importance is related of him, more than some miraculous and absurd stories. - .

. . . CHARLES. Do you intend to take any notice of Lord Mayor's Day, William? I should like to know the origin of the show. Ć WILLIAM. The word mayor comes, as is supposed, from the ancient English maier, meaning able or potent, and is said to have been given by king Richard I., A.D. 1189, to the chief magistrate of London, as an honourable rank of distinction from the title of bailiff, by which he had previously been recognised. The office used, prior to the year 1214, to be held for life; king John, however, granted the citizens the privilege of electing him annually, but required the oath to be taken before the king's justices; and it is now administered in the presence of the

barons of the Exchequer, according to the stipulation of Henry III. The high appellation of lord is said to have been annexed by king Richard II., in the year 1381, as a mark of his satisfaction of the bold conduct of William Walworth, who slew the rebel Wat Tyler, by knocking him off his horse.

CHARLES. I have understood, that to commemorate the conduct of the mayor on that occasion, the representation of a dagger was introduced into the city arms. If this be the fact, in my opinion it ought to be erased; for so far from the conduct of Walworth being an honour to the city, I think his treacherous behaviour upon that occa: sion disgraceful to him as a man, and discreditable to the citizens whom he served.

MR. CONSTANCE. It does not come within our province, Charles, to investigate the propriety of the conduct of all those characters who may come under our notice : it would take up too much of our time, and probably lead to some warm discussion ; but while I inform you that the conduct of Walworth did cause the insertion of the dagger into the city arms, I cannot help remarking that I agree with you in opinion as to its being a misplaced emblem; for although the act of the mayor may probably be legally justified, since Tyler had been declared a rebel, yet no one, I think, will deny, that it was rashly endangering the life of the young king, who appears, indeed, to have had more coolness and presence of mind, than him whom the citizens were desirous of immortalizing... .

ANGELINA. I believe that Lord Mayor's Day is more celebrated for feasting in the city, than any other day throughout the year. "

MR. CONSTANCE. Yes, it is quite a civic festival. In the morning the lord mayor and sheriffs, accompanied by the aldermen, common councilmen, and city officers, repair to the Thames, in procession, where they embark on

necessary, cluded, then they are Tect their se

board the city barges, and proceed amid the cheering sound of music, and the salutation of cannon from the different wharfs, to Whitehall Stairs, where they land, and are introduced to the barons in the court of Exchequer; when the lord mayor elect takes the oath, and goes through the necessary forms of entering his office. This ceremony being concluded, they return by water, and land at Blackfriars Bridge, where they are 'received by the liverymen of the city, bearing the banners of their several companies, who conduct his lordship back to Guildhall, where a splendid entertainment is provided. At this feast some of the royal family, as well as his Majesty's' ministers, generally attend, and do honour to his lordship's well-spread table. About nine o'clock an additional number of persons are occasionally admitted to join in the delights of the dance, which concludes the entertainment. :

WILLIAM. And at the hall of every company there is a similar entertainment, exclusive of the ball. The bustle displayed upon this day amongst cooks and confectioners has been well described in a parody upon the soliloquy of Shakspeare's Henry, previously to the mording of battle.

countless turbots and unnumber'd soles
Fill the wide kitchens of each livery hall :
From pot to spit, to kettle, stew, and pan,
The busy hum of greasy scullions sounds,
That the fixed beadles do almost perceive
The secret dainties of each other's watch:
Fire answers fire, and thro' their paly flames
Each table sees the other's bill of fare :
Cook threatens cook in high and saucy vaunt
Of rare and new-made dishes : confectioners
(Both pastry-cooks and fruiterers in league)
With candied art their rivets closing up,

Give pleasing notice of a good dessert. And so on. Indeed, the feasting and show of this day have been the subjects of many a jeu d'esprit, and alderman and good liver have become synonymous terms. At the coronation

of the kings of this country the lord mayor acts as chief butler, and in that capacity serves the sovereign with a cup of wine.

MR. CONSTANCE. The lord mayor's show is now, I believe, considered to be the only stated exhibition in the metropolis that remains as a memorial of the great doingg in the time of the pageants. It is now, however, but the mere shadow of what it was formerly. According to the accounts written at various periods, from the year 1575, we learn that the show then consisted of a far greater number of persons, banners, and decorations, than at the present time; and also that it was customary for the lord mayor and the nobility to stop three or four times between Blackfriars and Guildhall, to view the pageants, or plays, performed upon stages erected for the purpose. These pageants consisted for the most part of sundry scenes, speeches, and songs, delivered by persons personifying Diligence, Industry, Ingenuity, &c. and sometimes had allusion to the profession of the new mayor, who was of course generally complimented in his fitness for the office, and in conclusion, received the good wishes of the chief performer, for his health and happiness during his mayoralty. But we are forgetting, William, the number of remarkable days which we have to notice this evening: suppose I remind you of Saint Martin, on the 11th.

WILLIAM. Thank you, Sir; but as little is related of him, little is to be told. He appears to have been a Roman by birth, and son of a military tribune. Compelled to enter the army against his inclination, Martin took the first opportunity of obtaining his discharge, and retired into solitude. He afterwards became a public character, and held the office of bishop of Tours for the space of twenty-six years. He died about the year 397, mueh lamented, and highly esteemed for his virtues. He was afterwards translated to a more superb tomb, which cirs

éumstance, if you remember, was noticed by us in our Conversation for July; the event being recorded in the calendar for that month. i Mr. ConstanCE.' St. Martin has been termed the Father of the Latin church, he having been the first confessor to whom public prayers were offered. He appears to have been one of the amiable characters whose history withstood the investigation of the Reformers; and the retention of his name in our calendar is a guarantee of his pious and amiable endeavours to promote the spread of Christianity. It is related of him, that although his converts were numerous, and his destruction of heathen gods and temples quick in succession, his meekness and piety obtained for him the respect and admiration of his enemies; and at the age of eighty-four he died a natural death, much lamented. .. WILLIAM. The next name on the calendar, St. Britius, which stands for the 13th, should always be mentioned in connexion with his preceptor, Martin, whom he succeeded in the see of Tours, in the year 399. The early part of his life was spent in idleness and pride, and a total disregard of the instructions of his tutor. Afterwards, however, he acknowledged his error, and solicited the forgiveness of St. Martin, which he obtained ; and from this time is to be dated the commencement of those studies which, in the end, obtained for him the successorship of his master's situation. He died in the year 444. { Mr. CONSTANCE. The character of St. Britius will not bear a comparison with that of St. Martin. The follies of his youth remained with him, although probably in a lesser degree, throughout his life ; for we find that during his ministry some serious charges of misconduct were made against him. He appealed to the fiery ordeal, but the people expelled him from the city. Seven years elapsed tre he was allowed to return to his office and dignitiés.

« PreviousContinue »