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the Objects of its contemplation, by means of impressions which powerfully exerted the Organic Medium ; we speak now in the language of the critical and experimental philosophy.
The religion of Indostan is a series of savage and revolting rites; that of the Mohammedans is an ennobled sensuality, and differs little from that of antient Greece and Rome except in the single name of its founder; the Christian alone is an appeal to the higher sentiments, and to the faculty of Hope, pointing to a posthumous reward, and cemented with annually revolving and ceremonial mementos. And Monastic Institutions afford the most perfect examples of devotion to that cause.
The Benedictines were founded by St. Benedict in the end of the fifth century, and are described in Butler's Lives, vol. iii. p. 230; where will be found an ample account of the Visions seen by their founder, of the twelve celebrated monasteries, and of the holy lives, charity, and sincerity of the Order.
The Carmelites or White Friars seem to have originated in a set of hermits, who existed in succession on Mount Carmel, and who regarded Elias as their founder: they early embraced Christianity, they lived entirely on vegetables, observed silence from Vespers till Matins, and other austerities. They begun to use a mantle and hood in 1288.
The Barefooted Carmelites or Grey Friars were reformed by St. Teresa, and went shoeless and barefooted.
The Cistertian Order originated with St.Robert the Abbot of Molesme, towards the close of the eleventh century; they were so called from the place where they first settled, Cistercian, near Dijon in France. They were originally Benedictines of the reformed order, professing to follow them in the strict rules of their primitive rigour. After the formation of the Cistertian Order, it became so popular, that, in fifty years' time, there were no less than five hundred Cistertian Abbeys.
The Order of La Trappe is the most severe and rigorous reformation of the above order, and the pitch to which they carried, and still carry their austerities, beggars all belief. See Visit to La Trappe, &c.
Another reformation of the same order is that of Our Lady de Sept Fons, near Bourbon Lasci in France. See Butler's Lives, iv. 317.
The Carthusians, whose austerities are universally known, took their origin from St. Bruno celebrated October the 6th; who, with six other holy persons, founded the order under the auspices of St. Hugh, in the diocese of Grenoble, and in the wilderness of the Chartreuse. St. Hugh is recorded
to have had a remarkable Vision of God's building a Church in his diocese, and of seven Stars encircling it the very night before St. Bruno applied to him for leave to found this order. Voltaire observes, that this is the only order that never has been reformed.
The other orders, of St. Francis, St. Dominic, St. Augustine, the Black, White, and Grey Friars, &c. may be found described in Dugdale's Monasticon, and in the numerous works of the late Richard Gough, Esq.
Of all the severe orders, those of the Chartreuse and of La Trappe were the most austere; and as instructive histories of them are now to be every where found, we shall not dwell on the subject, but conclude our observations on these devoted Hermits, Anchorites, Pilgrims, and religious devotees, by the reflection, that if justice be a ruling principle in the universe, they must have their premium. For we may say of them as the late Mr. Day said of posthorses and beasts of burthen. Where is universal benevolence, after your hard and oppressed life of toil and restless activity, beaten, despised, and denied the comforts of life, and yet faithful,
December 11. St. Damasus Pope and Confessor.
SS. Fuscian, Victoricus, and Gentian Martyrs.
Alcyonii Dies.Rom. Cal. The fourteen Halcyon days began today. The limitation of their number was one of the abuses of the Calendar; but the fact, on which was founded their existence, was the calm weather which at this time of year on the shores of the Mediterranean usually succeeds the blustering winds of the end of Autumn. The reason why these calendar days were called Halcyon or Alcyon requires some further explanation. Alcyone was the daughter of Aeolus ; she married herself to Ceyx, who was drowned as he was going to Claros to consult the oracle. The gods apprised Alcyone in a dream of her husband's fate; and when she found on the morrow, his body washed on the seashore, she threw herself into the sea, and was with her husband changed into birds of the same name, who keep the waters calm and serene, while they build and sit on their nests on the surface of the sea, for the space of seven, eleven, or fourteen days.
Hence Virgil, in describing the approaching tempestuous weather, says:
Non tepidi ad solem pennas in littore pandunt,
Most loved and honoured by the Nereid train.-THECOR. Ovid calls the Alcyone a Wintry Queen, and represents her as calming the rough sea.
The bird in question was supposed to be the Kingfisher called by Linnaeus Alcedo, after the ancients; who so named it because they supposed it to make its nest in midwinter during the Alcyon days, agreeably to the above fable. Hence, in time, quiet and tranquil times were not only called Alcyonii, but also Alcedonia. See Ovid, Metamorph. ii. to fab. 10. Apollod. i.7. Hygei, fab. 65.
Our modern European Kingfisher, Alcido ispeda and Le Martin Pêcheur of Buffon, does not agree with the fabulous account of the Alcyone of antiquity. There are, however, some extraordinary habits belonging to this splendid little bird, which have probably led to its being fixed on to represent the fabled Alcedo.
Pliny tells us that their nests are wonderful — of the figure of a ball rather elevated, with a very narrow mouth; they look like a large sponge: they cannot be cut with a knife, but may be broken with a smart stroke: they have the appearance of petrified sea froth. It is not discovered of what they are formed; some think of prickly back bones, since they live upon fish.
Aristotle compares the nest to a gourd, and its substance and texture to those sea balls or lumps of interwoven filaments which are cut with difficulty; but, when dried, become friable.
Aelian and Plutarch describe it as being made to float on the placid face of the ocean.
Dr. Heysham of Carlisle, in his Catalogue of Cumberland Animals, says, “ on the 7th of May a boy from Upperby brought me a Kingfisher alive, which he had taken when sitting on her eggs the night before : from him I received the following information : -Having often this spring observed these birds frequent a bank upon the river Peteril, he watched them carefully, and saw them go into a small hole in the bank. The hole was too small to admit his hand, but as it was made in the soft mould, he easily enlarged it. It was upwards of half a yard long; at the end of it the eggs, which were six in number, were placed upon the bare
mould, there being not the smallest appearance of a nest." If the boy was correct in his relation to Dr. Heysham, it may be concluded that these birds sometimes, from necessity, perhaps, build a nest, and sometimes make the dry mould answer that purpose.
Kingfishers are not so numerous as might be expected from the number of eggs found in their nests, owing probably to the young being destroyed by the foods, which must often rise above the level of the holes where they are bred.
We remember being once at a dance, in a house above the marshes of the river Lea, when about midnight a Kingfisher entered the window of the room, attracted probably by the lights, and was easily caught. This bird is not uncommon about many ponds and rivers in the South of England. December 12. SS. Epimachus and Alexander Martyrs.
St. Finian Bishop and Confessor in Ireland. St.
Equiria.-Rom. Cal. FLORA.-During the calm, though often dark weather of the Alcyon days, which we have already described, and which we frequently enjoy even in this country, Flora puts forth, particularly if the previous weather have been mild, a few of her hybernal attendants. The Scented Coltsfoot blows, smelling sweetly, and not unlike some vernal plants of the liliaceous tribes, and it frequently scents the air for a considerable distance around. The Black Hellebore Helleborus niger, too, has been known to flower. Besides these many plants of Autumn, and those which flower all the year, shew a few brilliant blossoms; as Stocks, Walldowers, the Leopardsbane, and some others. The Laurestine is also in flower.
But there is a beauty afforded to the country at this season which does not arise from flowers, but from berries. The May Bush, with the vernal opening of whose blossoms we attach so many pleasing ideas, now exhibits its beautiful red berries, either in hedge rows, or in separate trees. The Black Thorn also shews its dark purple sloes; while Holy Ivy and the Misletoe, and several climbing plants which grow on walls, by their brilliant berries render the short period of fine winter weather very delightful; and remind us of the advice given in The Spectator to compose a winter garden of Evergreens, and of those shrubs that can become ornamental at this season, so as almost to beguile us into a belief that we are enjoying summer. Musae.—Lines on Howard's Tomb, on the banks of the Dniester.
Here Horrard rests, the prostrate wretch to raise,
Fearless he stood where Death's pale victims lie,
December 13. St. Lucy Virgin and Martyr. St. Jodoc
Confessor. St. Kenelm King and Martyr. St.
St. Lucy Virgin and Martyr was born at Syracuse. She refused to marry a young man who paid his addresses to her, because she determined to devote herself to religion; and, to prevent his importunities, gave her whole fortune to the poor. The scoundrel, enraged at this denial, accused her before Paschasius, the heathen judge, of professing Christianity; and Lucy, after much cruel treatment, fell a martyr to this revenge in the year 305.
CHRONOLOGY.-Henry IV. of France, born at Pau in 1559.
beautiful appearance through the night at this time of year. About ten o'clock the Pleiades, and Aldebaran are approaching the meridian. Capella is nearly on the zenith; lower down in the south east we may observe Sirius of celebrated brilliancy; above, and a little more east, is Procyon; still higher up and further east the two stars of Gemini, while the beautiful constellation Orion holds a conspicuous place among the above in south south east. At present, in 1823, Saturn and Jupiter add to the effect, being both visible; the former to the south and the latter is east south east.
On the last falling Leaves.