Chambers, Robert, 1802-1871 / Chambers's book of days, a miscellany of popular antiquities in connection with the calendar, including anecdote, biography & history, curiosities of literature and oddities of human life and character
Vol. I (1879)
June, pp. [unnumbered]-832 PDF (75.4 MB)
3IARELAGE SUPERSTITIONS AND CUSTOMS. JUNE 1. JAMES GILLRAY. 'Marry in Lent, And you'll ive to repent,' is a common saying in East Anglia; and so also is 'To change the name, and not the letter, Is a change for the worst, and not for the better;' i.e., it is unlucky for a woman to marry a man whose surname begins with the same letter as her own. A curious custom with regard to marriages still exists : at any rate, I knew of its being observed a few years ago; it is that if a younger sister marries before the elder one, the elder must dance in the hog's trough. In the case to which I refer, a brother went through the ceremony also, and the dancers performed their part so well, that they danced both the ends off the trough, and the trough itself into two pieces. [n the West of England it is a fixed rule that the lady should dance in green stockings; but I am not aware of any peculiar stockings being required on the occasion in East Anglia. The attendance at the weddings of agricultural labourers is naturally small; but it is very remarkable that neither father nor mother of bride or bridegroom come with them to church. I can hardly recollect more than one instance of any of the parents being present at the ceremony, and then what brought the bridegroom's father was the circumstance of the ring being left behind. The omission had not been dis- covered by the wedding party, and the father came striding up the church, very ted and hot, in time to shove a tiny screw of paper into the bridegroom's hand before the clergyman held out his book for the ring, to be laid upon it. The usual attendants at a labourer's wedding are only three-the official father, the bridesmaid, and the groomsman; the two latter being, if possible, an engaged couple, who purpose to be the next pair to come up to the a tar on a similar errand upon their own account. The parties very frequently object to sign their names, and try to get off from doing so, even when they can write very fairly, preferring to set their mark to the entry in the register : and, unless the clergyman is awake to this disinclination, and presses the point, many good writers will appear in the books as 'marksmen,' a circumstance which much impairs the value of the comparative number of names and marks in the marriage registers as a test of the state of education among the poor. The bridegroom sometimes considers it his duty to profess that he considers the job a very dear one-not particularly complimentary to the bride,-and once a man took the trouble to pay my fee entirely in three- penny and fourpenny pieces; which was, I suppose, a very good joke; not so much so, however, as when a friend of mine had his fee paid in coppers. Sulfolk C. W. J. JUNE 1. St Justin, the philosopher, 167. St Pamphilius, priest and martyr, 309. St Caprias, abbot, 430. St Wi tan, Prince of Mlercia, martyr, 849. St Peter of Pisa, founder of the Hermits of St Jerome, 1435. Born.-Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, minister to Eliziheth and James I., 1560; Nicolas Poussin, painter, 1594, Andely. in Normandy; Secretary John Thurlo-, 1616, Abbots Rodinq, Essex; Sir John Dugdale, antiquary, 1628, Shustoke; John Tweddell (Eastern travels), 1769, Threepwood, near Hexham. Died.-Henry Dandolo, doge of Venice, 1205, bur. in St Sophia, Constantinople; Jerome of Prague, rel;gious reformer, burnt at Constance, 1416; Christopher Marlowe, dramatist, 1593; James Gillray, caricaturist. 1815 London; Sir David Wilkie, artist, died at sea off &trrat tar, 1841 ; Pope Gregory XVI. 1846. JAMES GILLRAY. In the churchyard of St James, Piccadilly, there is a flat stone, bearing the following inscrip- tion IN MEMORY OF MR JAMES GILLRAY, CARICATURIST, WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE lST JUNE, 1815, AGED 58 YEARS. Gillray was the son of a native of Lanark- shire,* a soldier in the British army, who lost an arm at the fatal field of Fontenoy. Like Hogarth, Gillray commenced his career as a mere letter engraver; but, tiring of this monotonous occupation, he ran away, and joined a company of wandering comedians. After experiencing the well-known hardships of a stroller's life, he returned to London, and became a student of the Royal Academy and an engraver. Admirably as many of his engravings, particularly landscapes, are executed, it is as a caricaturist that he is best known. In this peculiar art he never had even a rival, so much have his works surpassed those of all other prac- titioners. The happy tact with w hich he seized upon the points in manners and politics most open to ridicule, was equalled only by the exquisite skill and spirit with which he satiri- cally portrayed them. By continual practice he became so facile, that he used to etch his ideas at once upon the copper, without making a preliminary drawing, his only guides being sketches of the characters he intended to intro- duce made upon small pieces of card, which he always carried in his pocket, ready to catch a face or form that might be serviceable. The history of George 111. may be said to have been inscribed by the graver of Gillray, and sure never monarch had such an historian. The unroyal familiarity of manner; awkward, shuffling gait, undignified carriage, and fatuous countenance ; the habit of entering into conver- sation with persons of low rank ; the volubility with which he poured out his pointless questions, without waiting for any other answer than his own 'hay ? hay ? hay ?' his love of money, his homely savings ; have all been trebly emphasized by the great caricaturist of his reign ; and not less ably because the pencil of the public satirist was pointed by private pique. Gillray had accom- panied Loutherbourg into France, to assist him in making sketches for his grand picture of the siege of Valenciennes. On their return, the king, who made pretensions to be a patron of art, desired to look over their sketches, and expressed great admiration of Loutherbourg's, which were plain landscape drawings, sufficiently finished to be intelligible. But when he saw Gillray's rude, though spirited sketches of * Gillray is a Highland name, meaning Ruddy Lad; but it is found in the south of Scotland. The writer remembers a family of the name in a county adjacent to Lanarkshire. 723 JUNE 1. JAMES GILLRAY. MARRIAGE SUPERSTITIONS AND CUSTOMS.
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