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Laws; and is indeed so constant to this Time of Year, that it is reckoned by the common People an Emblem of the Purification. The degree of Latitude makes very little difference in the periods of this Plant, as I find by comparing Journals kept at Rome with those kept at Walthamstow in Essex.
The yellow Spring Crocus, which is the next very common Plant, generally flowers about St. Valentine; though the white and blue Species come rather later.
That well known and favourite Flower, the Daisy, usually first trims the Meadows with its small yellow and white Blossoms about the 22d of February, on which Day is celebrated St. Margaret of Cotona, whose Name is preserved in the Cognomen of this Plant, still called in France La Belle Marguerite, and in England Herb Margaret.
The Early Daffodil blows about St. David's, March the Ist, and soon covers the Fields with its pendent yellow Cups; the Pilewort usually first bespangles the Banks and shaded Sides of Fields with its golden Stars about St. Perpetua, March 7th. About the 18th of March, or the Celebration of St. Edward the King of the West Saxons, comes into blow the magnificent Crown Imperial. The Cardamine, called Our Lady's Smock, first flowers about the 25th of March, and has, therefore, received its appellation from a part of the Virgin Mary's Garments, in commemoration of the Festival of the Annunciation; this being another Plant which, like the Snowdrop, is regarded as the emblem of Virgin Purity from its Whiteness. Shakespeare contrasts
The Lady Smocks of Silver white, with
Cuckoo Buds of yellow Hue.
The Marigold has a similar Allusion, and is so
called from a fancied resemblance of the Florets, of its Disk to the Rays of Glory round the Virgin's Head...
Violets, Heartseases, and Primroses, those continual Companions of Spring, observe less regular Periods, and last much longer in blow.
About St. George's Day the Blue Bell or Field Hyacinth covers the Fields and upland Pastures with its brilliant blue; a true Emblem of the Patron Saint of Albion's great maritime Empire, and which Poets have feigned to become a Braid for the bluehaired Oceanides of this seagirt Isle.
The Whitethorn used, in the Old Style, to flower about St. Philip and St. James, and thence was called May, after the initial Day of the fifth Month; but now the Blackthorn is hardly out by that Time.
The Invention of the Cross, May the 3d, usually produces the Poetic Narcissus, as well as the Primrose Peerless, in abundance in the Southern Counties of England; but Flora about this Time begins to be so lavish of her Beauties, that the Holiday Wardrobe of her more periodical Handmaids is lost amidst the Glare of a thousand “ quaint and enamelled Eyes” that glance on the gairish Frontlet of the vernal Day.
And on the green Turf suck the honied Showers,
The whole Race of Tulips are in perfection about the Commemoration of St. John the Evangelist ante Portum, May the 6th. The Fields are now yellow with the Crowfoots; the brilliant light red Monkey Poppy, the glowing crimson Peony, the purple of the German Iris, and a thousand others, are added daily. And the great and memorable Botanist Linnaeus seems to have been born in the Gala Time of his favourite Science. A different tribe of Plants now begins to succeed, which we
have denominated solstitial. The yellow Flag is hoisted by the Sides of Ponds and Ditches about St. Nicomede, June 1st. The Poppies cast a red mantle over the Fields about St. Barnabas, and last in the Corn Lands till about the first ancient Feast of Ceres. The bright Scarlet Lychnis flowers about the 24th of June; and hence a Poet who wrote Latin verses in the Eighteenth Century, calls this Plant Candelabrum Ingens lighted up for St. John the Baptist*: it is one of the most regular and sure tokens of the Summer Solstice. The white Lily expands its candid Bells about the Visitation; another coincidence of the opening of white Flowers on the Festivals of the Holy Virgin. The Roses of Midsummer are still in perfection, and we have recorded a curious old Poem, which makes this blushing Flower fade about the Feast of St. Mary Magdalen, July 22d; an Assertion not far off the real Fact. We might trace a number of the like Comparisons in the Sunflowers, the Tagetes, and all the Host of the aestival and autumnal Floras down to the Michaelmas Daisy, were it not for exceeding the customary Bounds of introductory Observations. We might quote Passages on the Blowing of the Passion Flower about Holy Rood Day, and bring ancient Documents to establish the Influence of almost every. Christian Festival with the Flowering of some Plants or other. The fact is, that in the Middle Ages, the Mind being ever bent on Religious Subjects, saw or fancied numberless Emblems, which the Imagination of a devoted but intelligent Race of Men readily furnished; but which we, in these Days of boasted Philosophy, can only view as accidental Coincidences of a fanciful, though perhaps of a pleasing kind. In the following Sheets we have amplified on the above Remarks; and have been enabled to bring
* See Warton on Milton.
forward many curious'Antiquities and popular Superstt. tions relating to Plants, and the Days with which their periodical Phenomena were coincidental! These Circumstances make up, as a Poet expresses it; “ the skört. and simple" Annals of the Poor. Trifling' as these may appear at the présent Day, they'greatly oécupied Men's minds in past' Ages : and they are still farniliar in the Recollections of most 'People; being inter! woven with the Tales and Legends related to Infanty, during that bright period of our Life, when Curiosity is on the alert to listen to the Voice of Instruction when Impressions are strong and durable, and when Observation is chiefly directed to the painted Exterior of Phenomena; before Reflection becomes engaged in the more important Researches into their Causes and Application. Thus do the periodical Revolutions of the Seasons and their natural Phenomená, as well as the annual Return of Festival Days, and their respective Pastimes, Customs, and Superstitions, form together a Code of pleasing Recollections of Childhood in the Minds of most reflecting People, whereby, 'trifling as they are, they acquire an Ascendency in the Scale of Knowledge. And it is from this Circumstance that we have been induced to give them, in the ensuing Sheets, a larger share of Consideration than, as mere Objects of Antiquarian Research, they would seem to de
Having explained the regular Matter of this Calendar, something ought perhaps to be said of the occasional Essays and Fragınents introduced here and there. Some of these were often the hasty Thoughts of Persons of the Editor's Acquaintance put down ou Paper, but never intended for Publication; others were written by the Editor as Memorandums, and have been printed with the rest of the Work, because, as a celebrated and philosophical Author says, they may serve as
Hints whereon to suspend more improved Dissertations from more qualified Persons.
It ought to be observed here, that the Reader will sometimes be surprised at seeing the Name of the Editor mentioned in the detached Essays of the Work in the third Person, and his Papers so referred to. This has arisen from the following Circunstance: that some of the Essays and Paragraphs being written by others, the Editor has inserted them just as they were originally written in the MSS., without the trouble of transcribing and altering them. For this he has to apologise, as well as for many other Errors and Oversights — the necessary Defects of a Book published in haste, under the peculiar and novel Circuinstances of the present Work.
We have introduced a great many Stories of Ghosts, extraordinary Visions, and Prodigies, originally collected in the same way, and meant only for MS. Records; but we have let them appear, as being amusing; not to strengthen the Empire of Superstition, but because their Physical History dispelled the Illusion, and because we had it in our power, in many Instances, to explain the real Causes of such Disorders of the Imagination as were capable of producing them, together with their Remedies; and it is hoped we have thus contributed, in some measure, to the advancing of real Knowledge. We have in general subjoined the Initials, though sometimes the final Letters of the Names of the Authors of the separate Essays above alluded to.
There are three principal Ways in which the following Calendar may be read :- Ist. The Reader may peruse it daily, reading .each Day's History as it comes in Rotation; and this is perhaps the best Mode of employing it: for in this case the whole will be read once a Year,