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quadragesima; and the first Sunday in the fast was called Quadragesima Sunday, because it is about the fortieth day before Easter. Now, after a time, the church, considering that the six Sundays included in the time of the observance of Lent could not properly, be kept as fasts (seeing they were in themselves festivals), thought fit to take those days out of the forty, and make up the number again by beginning Lent a week earlier than usual: consequently, this regulation included another Sunday, to distinguish which, a new appellation was given to it, taken from the next decimal number, fifty; and quinquagesima being the Latin word for fiftieth, it was of course called Quinquagesima Sunday.
ANGELINA. But, papa, you have not yet explained the term Septuagesima Sunday, which comes before either of those days.
MR. Constance. Be patient, my dear; I shall come to it presently. After a considerable number of years had elapsed, some succeeding Popes thought it right to exempt from the list of fast-days the festivals of several saints, fin addition to the Sundays already excluded,) and which fell within the period of Lent. This fresh alteration of course extended the time still further backward, and compelled them to take in another Sunday; which, in imitation of the former mode of proceeding, was called the Sunday of sixty days, or, in Latin, sexagesima; and, finally, a third addition of a week having been made to the time of Lent, for reasons of the same nature, the Sunday beginning that week was called the Sunday of seventy days, or, in Latin, septuagesima. This last is. the Sunday of which Angelina asked the meaning; but you will perceive that, in answering the question, I have likewise explained to you the reason of giving the names Sexagesima, Quinquagesima, and Quadragesima, to the three following Sundays; therefore, no further explanation
of those days will be necessary, provided you comprehend what I have already said.
ANGELINA. O, perfectly, papa; but I wish to ask why the names of those days are still retained in the reformed calendar, when Lent now consists only of forty days (exclusive of Sundays), as at first?
MR. CONSTANCE. For the very reason which William stated when you first asked the question; namely, for the purpose of qualifying or preparing the mind for due attention to the fast of Lent. For although in England we do not now extend the fast (as the Romish church did) beyond its natural and original term of forty days (besides Sundays), yet those names are still very proper, or at least as proper as any others, since they serve to assist those who are strangers to our church, in ascertaining the days and portions of service which they celebrate.
CHARLES. Then Septuagesima Sunday is not the beginning of Lent.
MR. Constance. No: Ash Wednesday is the first day; of which we shall speak in February. But now, William, please to proceed to the consideration of the next remarkable day noticed.
William. It is the 30th of this month, when the theatres, and other places of amusement, as well as all public offices, are closed, in memory of the public execution of King Charles the First. The day is styled, in the calendar, King Charles's Martyrdom. The circumstances of his conduct, trial, and death are no doubt familiar to you all ; and the piety, magnanimity, and resignation of this accomplished, yet unfortunate prince, will inspire a veneration for his memory, even in those who may conceive his death to have been an act of political justice, Although majestic in his deportment, and ever anxious to hold a high bearing towards all foreigners who came to his court, yet he was far from being proud; for he would
converse freely with scholars, artists, or mechanics. His way of arguing on any subject was civil and patient, preferring reason and fair argument to authoritatively imposing his own opinions; and always offered his exceptions with this civil introduction—“ By your favour, Sir, I think otherwise.” His religious exercises were constant and regular; for every morning and evening he retired to private meditation in his closet, and never sat down to dinner without having part of the Liturgy read to him and to his menial servants. On Sundays and Tuesdays he attended divine service, accompanied by his court and the nobility.
MR. CONSTANCE. To this regular attendance upon the ordinances of God may be attributed his cool forbearance and steady deportment on his trial, and calm resignation at the moment of his execution. He never, during that distressing period, forgot his station as a prince or a man. . In his defence and replies at the time of trial, he maintained the utmost command of thought and expression, and looked down with contempt on all the means of human malice and iniquity, though the indignities and insults the royal sufferer experienced from those who were placed over him, are universally admitted to have been excessive. Even the name of our heavenly Creator was treated with levity; for on the king's way to execution, the leader of his guard tauntingly said, “ You had better have humbled yourself to those appointed to try you ;" when his Majesty, in a calm and dignified manner, replied, “ Not to them, but to God alone am I accountable.” “ Then to God we shall soon send you for that purpose," rejoined the miscreant. As he was conducted to his fate, some of the soldiers also acted with the most brutal violence, and spit in his face. Such indignities were continued to the last moment of his existence; for while on the scaffold, and as he stooped to meet his
doom, he remarked that the block was too low. “Perhaps so; but we will make it do," was the brutal reply.
MRS. CONSTANCE. Although there were some doubts as to the burial-place of King Charles, I believe it is now ascertained that Windsor contains his ashes.
WILLIAM. It does : common report had long stated the circumstance of his baving been there interred ; but it was put beyond doubt in the year 1813, the body being then discovered, in a high state of preservation, in a cemetery of St. George's chapel, by Sir Henry Halford.
MR. CONSTANCE. Have you now, William, explained all the holydays in the month of January?
WILLIAM. I have, Sir, excepting one or two: but as they are not perpetual in the Almanack, holding a place there only during the lifetime of the persons mentioned, I think it unnecessary to enter into any particulars respect. ing them. I allude to the birthdays of some of our Royal Family.
The chief business of the evening being disposed of, a relief was given to the young party, and conversation became general; when the appearance of a servant with sweetmeats, and a china bowl of spiced liquor, the fumes from which soon dispensed a fragrance to the whole apartment, attracted their notice.
“What have we here?” was many times repeated, as each smilingly looked into the bowl when placed upon the table.
“ I have directed this small bowl of good liquor to be made,” replied Mr. Constance, “ that each of you might have an opportunity of tasting the famous and muchtalked-of beverage so common with our ancestors at this season of the year. It is a composition of ale, wine, sugar, toast, and roasted apples, with a variety of spices. It is
called the wassail-bowl ; and as this is the evening of a new year, we will take a glass of it in remembrance of an ancient custom."
The young party were much gratified by this mark of kindness; and upon Mr. Constance offering an extra glass to those who should inform the company of the origin of its name, and its introduction into this country, William immediately said, there was no doubt but it was of Saxon origin, although several explanations had been given of the term wassail. “On the interview," he added, “ between Vortigern and Rowena, the daughter of a Saxon chief, it is related that the lady knelt before him, and, presenting a cup of wine, said to him, “Lord king, wes hæl, literally meaning, be health, or health be to you. As Vortigern was unacquainted with the Saxon language, he inquired the meaning of these words; and being told that they wished him health, and that he should answer them by saying drinc hæl, he did so, and commanded Rowena to drink. Then taking the cup from her hand, he kissed the damsel and pledged her. From this circumstance, as related by the historian, there is no doubt of the term being purely Saxon, and that the custom descended to the Britons from that people.”
" It is even now,” added Mr. Constance, “ sometimes heard in the western counties of England, when the young men of a village carry a bowl from door to door, singings
Wassail ! Wassail! all over the town,
They then drink healths, and solicit presents from the different inhabitants. The practice, I am sorry to say, more frequently tends to boisterous mirth than the promotion of sober friendship.” .