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Use of the general Index to the Articles inserted at the End of the Volume.
Of the various Subjects of curious antiquarian Research which are interspersed in these Pages, we have taken the Materials from the many Works on Architecture and miscellaneous Antiquities of which this Age of Inquiry has furnished an abundant Store; they were selected at first and arranged for private Amusement, and afterwards found to be too interesting to be omitted in the published Calendar. In thus, however, extracting from other Works, we have stolen, or plagiarized, as it is vulgarly called, nothing original; but have only copied that which was beforehand merely a Subject of Quotation in the Work from which we made our Abstract. In whatever few instances this Rule has been departed from, it has been done with due acknowledgments. And as our Work is of a Nature entirely new, so do we not apprehend its interference with any other Publication whatever.*
The interest attached to this Department of Study is very general, and by no means confined to the learned. The History of the most remarkable Days in the Calendar, and of the Customs which have been attached to them at different Times, affords Matter for the most general Readers, and has never failed in any Age to be attractive. We find that remarkable Days, not only
* We have been indebted for some few Things to a Work entitled “ Time's Telescope;" but as we have only quoted the same Passages of other Authors as the Editor of that Work has, so we feel under no other obligation to make this acknowledgment than a desire to recommend a useful Publication to further notice; which being published every Year, instead of being perennial like our own, seems likely to become the annual Vehicle of new and interesting Information. The Editor of that Work has before availed himself verbatim of some original Matter from a former publication of the Author of this. See Clouds in T, T. for 1814, p. 338.
We have just been informed that Mr. Brady's Clavis Calendaria contains the most original Notices of the Festivals and Antiquities extant, and are requested to mention this by a Friend.
Feasts and Fasts in commemoration of joyful or of dolorous Events, but also Days of good or ill Luck, and critical Days of prognosticative Import for the rest of the Year, belong not to any individual Nation or Country, but to almost every civilized People in common; and we must, therefore, admit that the signalizing of certain Epochs, Months, and Days, in whatever Country it prevails, has its Origin in the Nature of the human Mind, and in the Situation of Mankind in the World. This Propensity of the Mind is the Basis of Calendars and Almanacks, which, combined with the Discovery of their religious and civil Use, has given them a durable Importance in the Scale of Literature, which mere fluctuating and temporary Productions have never possessed. It is, therefore, no matter of Surprise that People should always have taken an Interest in the popular Antiquities that relate to the Days of the Calendar. There is something too very pleasing in the periodical Return of Festive Days, and the various Rites and Ceremonies connected with them. They are like Landmarks and Mileposts on the great Road of artificial Life, which, by reminding the Palmer of the Progress that he is perpetually making, at the same tiine that they point out what is to be done on the Way, become salutary Mementos of Mortality, and useful Excitements to Vigilance.
But there is another sort of periodical Revolution described in the Calendar, possessing as general an interest to the Naturalist and Philosopher as the Rotation of Festivals does to the Historian and Antiquary; the grand Round of the Seasons, and the periodical Evolution of natural Phenomena; the Flowering of Plants, the Arrival and Departure of Migratory Birds and Animals, and the numerous rustic Employments necessary for each Month of the Year, have never failed to engage the Attention of the most superficial as well as the most erudite of Mankind.
The Astronomical Occurrences of each Time of Year, the diversified and ever changing Aspect of the bestarred Welkin, the Position of the Planets, and the varying Influence of the Sun by which our Seasons are regulated, have likewise obtained general Notice; and are no less interesting from the huge Masses of organized Matter, and the stupendous Powers exerted thereon, which they call.on us to contemplate with Wonder and Admiration, than they are from the practical Utility which results from their due Observance, by means of which we are enabled to establish and certify geographical Positions, and to navigate the watery Portions and explore the Surface of our own Globe. He who sweeps the Sky with Telescopes, and penetrates into remote Space, to contemplate myriads of Worlds moving in Harmony, enlarges his Knowledge of Matter, and elevates his conceptions of Power. By such a Contemplation of the Heavens we acquire immense ideas of Space, which seems, as it were, measured out and lengthened into Infinity by the Succession of Bodies which fill it. But when we regard these Bodies as revolving, as having Periods, and as being created and destined to have an End to give place to other Phenomena, all which Facts seem warranted by astronomical Observation,* then do we add to our Ideas of Space the Notion of Time, another grand elementary Power, which being, as far as it relates to the human Mind, a simple Idea, admits of no further Definition; and which, like Space, must never be identified with, though it seems measured by, the Phenomena which take place in it, and which divide it into Portions. We will not expatiate farther into metaphysical Disquisition about Time and Space, but bring the Reader to the upshot of these our Remarks, and remind him, with respect to the Aspect of the Celestial Bodies which fill the Immensity of Space in Heaven, that this Record in
See Remarks on lost Stars at p. 282.
the Repository of the Calendar, according to their periodical Relations to Time, has been found to be of the most essential Benefit, and to be, in fact, absolutely necessary to their Application to Practical Purposes on Earth; and that, therefore, the best Mode in which a young Mind can begin to examine any Astronomical Fact, is that of always contemplating it with respect to some particular Time of Year. The few popular Observations on Astronomy detailed in these Pages are likely to excite Attention to this Object, and to induce the general Reader to become acquainted with the periodical Aspect of the Stars, which is the Foundation of practical Astronomy.
There is yet another Observation which has resulted from an Examination of the Antiquities of the Calendar compared with the periodical Phenomena of Nature. Certain Days have been, by popular Custom, considered as ominous of the Weather of the coming Year. These Observations have been found not to be devoid of Truth; for though the assigning to St. Paul, to St. Vincent, or to St. Swithin, any particular Power over the Elements, must be set down to Superstition; yet there seem to be some natural Causes, not yet much known or well explained, why the Occurrence of certain atmospherical Phenomena, at particular Periods of the Year, will be attended by particular Kinds of Weather, or followed by particular Sorts of Seasons. Under the Days dedicated to St. Vincent, St. Paul, the Purification of the Virgin Mary, St. John, St. Swithin, and others, we have discussed this subject, and have collected some Facts and Deductions appertaining thereto, which future Observations
confirm or modify
The Alteration of the Style, by removing each Festival about twelve Days forwarder in the Calendar, must no doubt have created great Confusion in the application of their Prognostics; for consequently the Sun on
each of those Days was situated + 11° 59' nearer to the Aequinoctial Point than before. Nevertheless, the popular Belief in the Rules outlived the Change of Style, and the Husbandman and Astrologer still consult the critical Days as heretofore; for in fact it is not the particular Day, but the particular Time of Year, that is critical, and from which any indicative Conclusions can be drawn. In our Account of July 15 we have discussed this Subject with respect to Rain; and if the Reader will compare the particular Bearings of the Prognostics of St. Vincent's, Jan. 22, St. Paul's, Jan. 25, Candlemas Day, Feb. 2, St. John, June 24, St. Swithin, July 15, and SS. Simon and Jude, Oct. 28, he will find, that in order to render the Prognostics of all these Days valid and consistent, there must be a constant relation between the Phenomena of each of them in every Year, which is not found to be the Case. We have taken perhaps more trouble in demonstrating this than the subject deserves, since the fallacy of relying on the Weather of any particular Day is become obvious to every body; but we have done so in order to show the probable Cause of the Superstition. For it happens that critical Changes of the Weather take place about the Time when the Festivals alluded to are recorded in the Calendar. It happens too that certain familiar and well known Plants begin to flower in abundance about the Time of certain Saints' Days. The fragrant Coltsfoot in mild Seasons bas the maximum of its flowering at Christmas; the Dead Nettle is, generally in flower on St. Vincent's; if mild, the Winter Hellebore flowers usually about the Conversion of St. Paul; the Snowdrop is almost proverbially constant to Candlemas Day, and the Mildness or Severity of the Weather seems to make but little difference in the Time of its blowing. It comes up and flowers through the Snow, and seems to evolve its white and pendent Flowers as if by the inost determined periodical