網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

in fiction, and would therefore be sure of a good forms and rules which we cannot transgress with reception.

impunity. One part of the principles of social life, which has There is, we suspect, another mistake in the views never been apprehended by novelists, and is little of Mr Jones and bis compeers on matters of this observed by men generally, but is a most important kind. He considers Smith as having been formerly thing in our ordinary experiences, is that regarding on his own level in mind and tastes, as well as in the feelings which actuate us in the formation of worldly circumstances, and complains accordingly as acquaintanceships and friendships. There is here not if there were no cause for the alienation but a change merely ignorance, but much positive mistake. When in the latter. But perhaps Smith was all the time Smith and his family decline the offered society of a man of higher powers as well as higher tendencies, Jones and Jones's family, there is never any other thrown by the mere accident of fortune into Jones's presumption in Jones than that Smith has been society, and good-naturedly to a certain extent determined in the matter wholly by some external enduring it, while aspiring to something better. The considerations, as that Jones is a man of compara- very progressiveness of some men, as compared with tively little means or influence, and that there is to others, progressiveness in tastes above all, would be nothing gained in the eye of the world by knowing account for much of that gradual separation which is him. When Brown chances to be drawn on by continually seen taking place between them, without fortune to a prominent and brilliant position, and the necessity of presuming any lack of constancy or gets new friends, then are all his old ones jealous of kindly feeling in one of the parties. if he abates in the least in the attentions he It is strange, while by our adage, "a man is known formerly paid them, as understanding that he now by his associates,' we practically acknowledge that looks down upon them. Now the truth may be, men clioose their society by elective affinity, and have nay, generally is, that Smith finds Jones and his a right to do so, that we should at the same time connections unfitted to his tastes, or moving in a leave our neighbours so little freedom in the choice. wholly different round of sympathies and interests, There is no privilege of humanity in which there is and very naturally reserves himself for friends who more interference, more foolish censure, more want of are in these respects more suitable. So also when reasonable judgment. Poor Smith and his womanBrown's position in life is changed, he necessarily kind cannot make a single move in the social world, comes into contact with new people, who must in a but the Joneses are upon him, misconstruing all his great measure engross any time he lias to bestow on motives and aims, and this for no observable reason social pleasures; without any failure of good feeling but that the Joneses would believe in anything before towards old acquaintances, he cannot give so much they would believe that there was any point of inelitime to them, perhaps cannot give any; one thing, in gibility about themselves. Mrs Smith never projects short, is superseded by another. Or with changed a dinner-party in perfect freedom. We have not circumstances have come changed tastes and new room for the Joneses; they might be asked at another sympathies ; so he no longer finds the enjoyment lie time; but then they will take offence if omitted from did in the society of those old acquaintances. Surely, a party where we are to have the Browns-they will in a world so full of change, this should not excite think it is because the Browns have got a rise lately, very much surprise. And there is surely no great and are thought their superiors.' So the plan of the difficulty in seeing how it all comes about. Com- party-and a party, to be successful, demands a plan munity of tastes, sympathies, and interests mainly --has to be deranged and probably spoilt, in order determine us in all these matters. Yet there is no to avoid giving offence in a quarter where there was subject on which the truth seems more screened from no real occasion for taking it. Unfortunately, the the common view.

acquaintances least appreciable for any attractive For much of what is complained of in the common qualities, are just those who are always on the most world on these subjects, there is a ground in ration- ticklish terms with us, and therefore the most liable ality, if our self-love would only allow us to see it. to be offended by any imagined slight; hence the When Hugh Miller rose from his original condition most tyrannical over us, if we are good-natured of a stone-mason to be a leader of public opinion enough to study and concede to them. and a cultivator of literature and science, could his We are disposed to form acquaintances under the old fellow-workers have reasonably expected him to influence of the elective affinity, and we have to bear associate as much with them as ever? No one who all the consequences of being presumed to do so; but knew the man can doubt that he would continue to in how many cases have we our associates assigned to regard them with kindness, that he would be willing us without any choice in the matter! Our son, while to help and serve them within reasonable bounds, and absent with his regiment, marries a thoughtless girl that any particular old favourite would be as sure of of mean tastes and ideas, with whom the circle of her a shake of his horny hand as ever, when accident husband's relations can never be harmonious. Old threw them together. But it was manifestly impos-Tomkins foolishly takes a second wife, whom he sible for Miller to be both what he now was and what imposes on his grown-up children as a person they he once was. Circumstances were changed, and he must respect, the fact being that, while having some was changed with them. He had new associates, inscrutable charm in his eyes, she is disagreeable in suitable to his present frame of intellectual and moral those of most other persons. Brothers and sisters being, and he could not also keep up on the original bring wives and husbands into the field, whose affinity terms with the old, for the two were wholly incom- of feeling with their new relatives is a mere matter patible. It chances that another man of genius, who of chance: they may or may not be 'pleasant people.' rose about the same time from humble life to an Your partners in business bring you associates, who equally high level in one of the fine arts, endeavoured, are not to be avoided, however much they may be from a misjudging good-nature, to keep up with his disrelished. In such ways you become half-surrounded old associates, instead of adopting new ones more with people whom you would never think of choosing suitable to liis altered circumstances, and the conse- as friends from any community of sympathy or taste, quence was that he got into wholly false positions, and or from any approbation or esteem. There is here was utterly deranged in his course of life. In an matter for much serious consideration-how to 'get early state of society, such a man would have been along' with all these associates of accident. It is to quite safe with all his genius and its éclat; but the be feared that the getting along is often of a halting world chances to be some thousands of years old, and kind, and that from this cause mainly spring those it has in the course of time crystallised into social family quarrels which are remarked to be so much

[ocr errors]

bitterer than others. It would require great judg- of male and female, were severally derived from Adam's
ment, great patience, great good-nature, to steer spade and Eve's spindle. The lines,
well through such difficulties, even where there are

When Adam delved, and Eve span, respectable qualities on both sides. Where it is

Who was then the gentleman ? otherwise, or even where there is simply a decided antagonism of disposition, the matter must be all but formed the rallying-cry in many popular insurrections, hopeless. Still we cling to the belief that a Christian as the people began to discover their own strength, tolerance-a subjection of the passing feelings to the and the hollow weakness of the feudal assumptions rule of a high moral principle-a higher kind of good- under which they were enslaved. The expulsion of our breeding-will avail much in softening away the first parents from the garden of Eden was a favourite worst difficulties of the kind.

subject with the medieval sculptors and painters; and Is it want of width of view that is the matter with they almost invariably represented it in the following the novelists, that they let so much of both the manner. Adam, as he passes out of the portal of the comedy and the tragedy of real life slip past them earthly paradise, receives, with an air of the most unworked up? Or is there something owing to the abject submission, a spade from the hands of an exigencies of art ? is it imperative that we always attendant angel; while Eve, already supplied with see, in their pages, the gifts of fortune avenged and spinning materials, and apparently quite unabashed, redressed on a principle of contraries ? Is there some- Holding up her head as if she had done no wrong, thing in the mysterious abysm of human sympathies boldly struts forth, carrying lier distaff, and twirling and antipathies, that makes us demand ridicule for the spindle as she walks along. This bold demeanour, the keepers of boarding-schools, a hateful description attributed to Eve, may be one of the unjust and petty for a step-mother, and a pattern case of justice for slurs against the female character which the artists of a poor man at law? Perhaps so. But, if so, then the period delighted to perpetrate; or it may denote we must pronounce that'veluti in speculum' can her confidence that the evil would eventually be never be an applicable motto for a book of fiction. remedied, that through her progeny the serpent's head

would ultimately be crushed.

In one of the old religious plays, annually acted by A YARN ABOUT SPINNING.

the Franciscan friars on the festival of Corpus Christi, Some five-and-twenty years ago, when the reform we find the same popular idea dramatically expressed. agitation was at its height, we chanced to be in a In the scene of the expulsion, Adam, with spade in small country town in the west of Scotland on the hand, addressing Eve, says: very day when an open-air meeting, followed by a

Let us walk into the land, grand procession, was held in favour of the popularly

With right hard labour our food to find, desired measure. Previous, however, to the procession

With delving and digging with my hand, starting, a hitch took place in the proceedings, caused

And, wife, to spin now must thou fend,

Our naked bodies in cloth to wind. by a difference of opinion on the important question of precedency. The gardeners, as old Adam's likeness,' Eve, with her distaff and spindle, suiting the action claimed to lead the van, on account of the antiquity of to the word, and the word to the action, replies : their calling. On the other hand, the tailors, claiming a still higher antiquity, insisted on their incontro

Alas! that ever we wrought this sin

Our bodily sustenance for to win, vertible right to the post of honour; asserting that

Thou must delve, and I must spin. Adam was not required to cultivate the earth until his expulsion froin the garden of Eden, whereas, previous The allusions to spinning in the sacred writings to that time, he had exercised the craft of a tailor, by are numerous and appropriate, pointing to the great sewing a garment of fig-leaves. Long and wordy were antiquity of the art, as well as eulogising its professors. the arguments; both sides displaying that thorough Abraham refused to take a thread of the spoil; flax knowledge of the sacred writings, which no other was cultivated in the time of Moses; the women that people possess in so remarkable a degree as the were wise-liearted spyn with their bands; those whose Scotch. At last, whether by dint of argument, numer- hearts stirred them up in wisdom spun goat's hair; ical force, or their evident desire of pugnaciously and she, the virtuous woman par excellence, whose pushing the dispute to the ultima ratio, the tailors worth was above rubies, laid her hands to the distaff gained their point, and, with waving banners and and the spindle. sounds of music, the procession started.

By the classical writers of Greece and Rome, That the arts of obtaining food and clothing have Minerva, as the instructress of man in the useful arts, been practised from the earliest period, is a mere com- was fabled to be the inventress of spinning. Homer mon-place truism known to all. Yet, while willingly speaks of a distaff being a present fit for a queen; and admitting the great antiquity and usefulness of both everybody has heard of the labours of Penelope, though gardeners and tailors, we must, nevertheless, assert Valerius, in Coriolanus, spitefully enouglı, says, that that the human race is much more indebted to the all the yarn she spun in Ulysses' absence only served spinsters, who, making the first advances in civilisation to fill Ithaca full of moths.' Herodotus relates a and refinement, relieved mankind from the necessity pleasing story respecting the removal, by Darius, of of wearing either leaves of trees or skins of beasts. the Pæonian and neighbouring tribes to the shores Nor has the world been forgetful of the boon thus of Asia. The Pæonian brothers caused their sister, conferred upon it. The literature, proverbs, customs, dressed in her best attire, to pass before the Persian superstitions, habits of thought, and modes of expres- monarch, carrying a vase upon her head, and a distaff sion of most nations have reference to this important in her girdle, and leading a horse with her left hand, fact; while the distaff and spindle have been the type while she twirled her spindle with the right. The and symbol of female industry, and the natural insignia king's attention being attracted by this unusual of the softer sex, in nearly every age and country. appearance, he kept the young woman in view, and

Among the many popular fancies of the middle ages, saw her approach a fountain, fill the vase, water the there was none so widely spread, or so firmly held, as horse, and return spinning as before. Darius immethe belief that Eve, the mother of mankind, was the diately asked to what country she belonged, and was first spinster. Those most mendacious of humbugs, told Pæonia. Were all the females of that country the old heraldic writers, unblushingly assert that the equally industrious ? he next inquired, and was told shield and lozenge, the distinguishing armorial symbols that they were so. The result was that the politic

monarch, considering that so diligent a people would When the royal sepulchres of France, in the abbey be valuable subjects, had them all transported to bis of St Denis, were disgracefully desecrated at the own territories in Asia.

period of the first revolution, several distaves and Pliny tells us that the distaff and spindle of Caia, spindles, richly gilt, were found in the tombs of various the queen of Tarquinius Priscus, was long preserved queens. In Germany, it is still as customary to susin the Temple of Fortune. This royal spinstress was pend a distaff and spindle over the tomb of a lady, as considered to be the perfect model of a good wife; it is to place a sword and helmet over that of a knight. hence a distaff, charged with wool, and a spindle, were Pennant tells us that he saw a distaff, carved in stone, carried before a Roman bride; and when the marriage on the tomb of Alice, prioress of the nunnery of procession reached the husband's house, she was asked | Enanuel, in Stirlingshire. The most remarkable her name, to which she replied Caia. The three Fates, instance of this kind in England is the tomb of Judge who, according to the ancient mythology, presided over Pollard, of the Common Pleas, who died in 1540. On man's mundane existence, were spinners; one held the one side of the judge's tomb are the stone-carved distaff, another spun, the third cut the thread of life. effigies of his eleven stalwart sons, each girded with ! Catullus, however, in his beautiful poem on the a sword; on the other, are represented his eleven fair marriage of Peleus and Thetis, describes all three as daughters, each carrying a spindle. A curious story, spinning. Affording an accurate description of the is related of the bustling housewife, the mother of ancient mode of using the distaff and spindle, the lines those twenty and two children. When twenty only are interesting :

of them had been born, the lady, in commemoration of

her large family, erected a magnificent painted window And as their hands the sacred labour plied,

in her seat of Ninnet Bishop in Gloucestershire; and The left the distaff grasped, the right hand drew

on this window she caused to be depicted' herself and The wool from thence, and twisted in the clew, On the bent thumb the winding spindle held,

husband, with their ten sons and ten daughters. By And as the whirlwind moves its course impelled.

some mistake, the artist left a blank space, which the Still as they spun, they bit off every shred

Jady ordered to be filled up by another son and That roughly hung about the new-made thread.

daughter; and, as quaint old Fuller tells us, 'her

expectancy came to pass in accordance.' A picture of Leda, on the wall of a house in Pompeii, About the very time when matronly Dame Pollard represents a female spinning in exactly the same man. was erecting her painted window, events of much ner as is described by the above lines ; and the peasant- greater importance were in progress. The spinning. girls of Italy still carry the distaff and twirl the spindle, wheel that worked with the foot was invented, and in as they did in the time of Caia. Yet, long 'ere Romulus course of introduction into England. Previous to this and Remus had been suckled,' as we learn from paint invention, spinning, though a most necessary art, was ings in the tombs of Beni-hassan, the yarn for the merely the occupation of female leisure; the employfine linen of Egypt' was spun in the same manner; ment of high and low, rich and poor, in the intervals and so do the wretched ophthalmia-stricken fellahs of of more important business, and during the long, Egypt still spin in the shade of the great pyramid. tedious nights of winter. Fitzherbert, a writer on Mummy has become merchandise, Pharaoh has been husbandry in the earlier part of Henry the VIII.'s sold for balsam, and, as that has gone out of fashion, reign, says: “Let thy distaff be always ready for a

the eagle and fasces, symbols of imperial pastime, that thou be not idle; undoubted a woman dominion and consular power, have long since been cannot get her living by spinning on a distaff, yet it swept away; but the distaff and spindle, emblems of stoppeth a gap, and yarn must needs be had.' But, domestic peace and household cares, still remain. through the more rapid production of yarn by the Their history, if it could be written, would be the wheel, enabling a few to spin for many, spinning history of the human race: the same aims and aspira- became a means of obtaining a livelihood, the higher tions, wants and wishes, hopes and fears, have been classes had less necessity to practise it, and, conseexperienced by millions of the various nations, tribes, quently, the time-honoured appellation of spinster religions, colours, and tongues, who have used these sank considerably in the social scale. That title, simple implements.

which in the primitive period of the distaff and spindle Among our Saxon ancestors, the terms spear-half bad been given to royal princesses, after the invention of and spindle-half expressed the male and female lines of the wheel, became legally applicable only to unmarried descent; and in their tombs, we find a spear beside the females under the rank of viscount's daughters. A skeleton of a man, a spindle with the remains of a somewhat similar change has been caused in our own woman. In Germany, even at the present day, the time by the invention of the machine, and consequent jurisprudents divide families into male and female by extinction of the spinning-wheel. In Sir Richard the titles of swerde-magen and spindel-magen—in other Steele's Spinster, published in 1719, the daughters of words, sword-members and spindle-members. Among wealthy farmers are among the spinners of linen and the ancient Franks, when a free woman formed an woollen, who petition against the use of the 'tawdry, attachment to a slave, she was summoned before the pie-spotted, Tabby, ragged, low-priced thing called elders of the tribe, who, in open council, offered her calico; a foreigner by birth; made the Lord knows the choice of a sword or a spindle. If she accepted the where, by a parcel of heathens and pagans that former, she not only retained the freedom, which was worship the devil, and work for a halfpenny a day.' her birthright, but also acquired supremacy over the Randle Holme, writing about the same time, describes serf with whose fortunes she had connected herself; three kinds of wheels then in use: the country, or on the contrary, if she chose the spindle, she reduced farmer's wheel; the city, or gentlewoman's wheel; and herself to the level of her lover.

the girdle wheel, which, being carried at the girdle, The French law, by which ‘No woman shall suc- could be used when walking about. This last, Randle ceed in Salic land,' has been expressed in popular says, was a little wheel with gigam-bobs, pleasing to phraseology by the words, le royaume de France ne ladies that love not to overtoil themselves. Indeed, tombe point en quenouillethe kingdom of France never down to the present century, the wheel was sedulously falls under the distaff. The well known fleur de lis is plied by ladies of slender income. There are men said to bave been adopted as the regal cognizance alive now, riding in their carriages, who were indebted of France, in allusion to the Salic code, and with for their first start in life to their mother's wheel. reference to the passage of Scripture respecting the Many a college expense has it aided to defray, many lilies of the field — they toil not, neither do they an Indian outfit has it helped to purchase. But the spin.'

wheel, emblem of variations and mutabilities,' as

even

Fluellen says, is subject to the very changes it so One of the most curious of the early printed books, aptly symbolises. It is persons of much lower standing that are embellished with wood-cuts, is well known to in the social scale who now wait in the halls of the connoisseurs as The Shepherd's Calendar. A chapter of giant Steam, to tend the whirling bobbins of the many- this rare work is entitled, “Of an Assault against a spinulled mule and jenny.

Snail.' The accompanying wood-cut represents a The quantity of yarn produced by a good spinner fortified palace. Upon one of the most accessible from the wheel in a certain time depended principally towers there is a snail, with head protruded and horns upon its fineness. From The Twa Dogs, we learn that elevated, evidently in an attitude of defence. Two a hank or twelve cuts was considered a fair day's work: soldiers, fully equipped, and a woman, armed only A country Jassie at her wheel,

with a distaff, form the assaulting-party against the Her dizzen done, she's unco weel.

snail-defended tower. In the letter-press, the snail

defies his opponents, telling them that his strength But the spinners of Tyrone, who had the reputation of and valour are fully commensurate with his terrific being the best in Ireland, thought two dozen no extra- appearance, and concludes his braggadocio thus : ordinary task; and at their kemps, or contests of skill

If that these armed men approach me near, in spinning, they frequently produced as many as four

I shall them vanquish every one, dozen in one day. The native Irish-we use the term

But they dare not for fear of me alone. in contradistinction to the descendants of Scotch and English settlers-had songs specially composed and The snail has a correct opinion of his antagonists' appropriated for singing at the wheel. Three of those courage. The soldiers, like the ancient Pistol, use spinning-wheel songs' are preserved in Bunting's brave words, but that is all. Commencing their Ancient Music; and the keen or funeral-cry of young speech with the words, ‘Horrible snail!' they threaten Ryan, translated from Irish by the late Mr Croker, to eat him with pepper and salt, but end with the commences thus:

impotent conclusion of merely requesting their horned Maidens, sing no more in gladness

enemy to abandon the tower:
To your merry spinning-wheels;

Get thee hence, by our advice,
Join the keener's voice of sadness,

Out of this place of so rich edifice,
Feel for what a mother feels.

We thee require, if it be thy will,
The able authoress of A Woman's Thoughts about And let us have this tower that we come till.
Women, in a late number (184) of this Journal, speak-
ing of the needle, says it is 'a wonderful brightener

The woman, however, exhibits more pluck than and consoler; our weapon of defence against slothful- her male companions, soldiers though they be. ness, weariness, and sad thoughts ; our thrifty helper Brandishing her distaff, she exclaims : in poverty; our pleasant friend at all times. In the Go out of this place, thou right ugly beast, medieval period, when men were women's tailors, the Which of the vines the tender shoots doth eat. needle was little used by females, but the spindle and Out of this place, or I shall thee sore beat distaff, being their constant companions, afforded the With my distaff, between the horns twain, same benefits and consolations to the sisterhood as the That it shall sound into the realm of Spain. needle does now. Curiously enouglı, an old proverbial This 'assault against a snail' has been a grievous Latin verse, of the kind termed Leonine, actually puzzle to antiquaries. Mr Offor, in England, asks: alludes to this fact, though in other respects unjust to What does it all mean?' M. Nisard, in France, says the sex:

that it is an insoluble enigma. The following nurseryFallere, flere, nere, dedit Deus in muliere;

rhyme, however, which we quote for the gratification which Chaucer thus translates in his prologue to the of the curious, seems to sufficiently explain, at least to Wife of Bath's Tale :

our own satisfaction, the mysterious affair :
Deceit, weeping, spinning, God hath give

Four-and-twenty tailors went to kill a snail,
To women kindly, while they may live.

The best man amongst them durst not touch her tail ; Besides being the universal, and we may say natural She put out her horvs like a great Kyloe cowsymbols of the softer sex, and their unfailing source of

Run, tailors, run, or she'll kill you all enow. profit and pastime, the spindle and distaff were also Nor has the rock, the modern representative of the their legitimate offensive and defensive weapons. In distaff, been found less useful as an offensive weapon the south of Europe, the keen-pointed steel spindle than its predecessor. An episode in domestic life, has often served as a stiletto; while in the north, the known in Scottish song as the Weary Pound of Tow, is large distaff could readily be used as a club. We'll much too natural to be wholly unfounded on fact: thwack him hence with distaves,' says Hermione in The Winter's Tale; again, in Beaumont and Fletcher's

I bought my wife a stone of lint,

As good as e'er did grow; King and no King, a paltry fellow is spoken of as one

And all that she has made of it 680 below a beating that the women find him not

Is one poor pound of tow. worthy of their distaves.' Goneril, in King Lear,

Quoth I : ' For shame, thou idle dame! alluding to the 'cowish terror' of ber helpmate, says:

Go spin your top of tow.' “I must change arms at home, and give the distaff into

She took the rock, and with a knock, my husband's hands.' The wife of the immortal host

She broke it o'er my pow. of the Tabard, also, when she found her husband unwilling to resent hier fancied injuries, exclaims :

When a French peasant wishes to designate the

golden age of his country, the good old times as we I will have thy knife,

often absurdly enough phrase it, he says it was in And thou shalt have my distaff, and go spin.

the days when Queen Bertha spun-au temps que la Chaucer, in another place, in the Nonne Preste's Tale, reine Bertha filait. This is generally understood to shews the use of the distaff on an emergency. When refer to a certain, or rather very 'uncertain, longDan Russell the fox, runs off with Chanticleer the footed, or, according to some authorities, goose-footed cock, the widow and her daughters cry:

Bertha, who figures in romantic legend as the mother Harrow and well-a-way!

of Charlemagne. But, allowing for difference of Ha, ha, the fox! And after him they ran,

language, the same saying (nel tempo ove Berta filava), And eke with staves many another man;

with exactly the same signification, is current in Italy. Ran Colley our dog, and Talbot and Garland, Who, then, was Bertha ? A clue to her real character And Malkin with her distaff in her hand.

is found in The Gospels of Distaves (Les Evangiles des

As

Quenouilles), one of those extraordinary old French tampering with forbidden arts, numbers of Scottish
works known as joyousetes, and which mingle Christi- matrons never used the winnle blades,' but measured
anity with paganism, piety with obscenity, and sound their yarn by winding it over the left hand and
sense with the absurdest superstition. One of the elbow, repeating a certain formula to aid the memory
preachers, in this remarkable production, is a Darne in retaining the reckoning. The useful agricultural
Bertha of the Horn, who can be readily identified implement for winnowing corn, termed a fan, was
with the spinning Queen Bertha of French romance, long unused in Scotland for a similar reason.
on the one hand, and with a Frau Berta of German another illustration of this feeling, we are induced to
superstition, on the other. This Frau Berta, some- copy the following paragraph in full from the Scots
times termed Fricke, still holds a conspicuous position Magazine of 1756. Without giving the whole, we
in the folk-lore of Northern Germany. She visits would despair of affording the reader a correct idea of
the farmhouses and peasants' cottages during the the curious affair:
twelve nights immediately succeeding Christmas. She Peter Pairny, servant to Mr Thomas Muir, minister
inspects the condition of the spinning-wheels, and is of the Seceding congregation at Orwell, who worked
particularly pleased to find all the flax spun off from his wlieel-plongh, was lately accused before the session
the rocks. The maidens who are tidy and industrious of using pranks something like enchantments, pretend.
spinners, she rewards with all kinds of good-luck; ing to stop or render unfit for service a wheel-plough,
while she showers misfortunes on the lazy and the by touching the beam with a rod, and bidding the
sluttish. And we have had her here, even in England, plough stop till he should lose (loose) it. The session
but in the character of a saint. Of the many miracles agreed to declare him under scandal, to debar him from
ascribed to St Bertha, we need only mention one. sealing ordinances till the offence be purged ; and to
A convent founded by her was deficient of water, ordain him to appear and be publicly rebuked ; at the
but, by merely drawing her distaff along the ground, same time leaving room for further inquiry into the
she formed a noble aqueduct, copiously supplied with matter, and for inflicting what further censure may be
the pure liquid, for the use of the establishment. Her judged necessary. This sentence was intimated from
festival, termed St Distaff's Day, was kept on the his pulpit by Mr Muir on Sunday, September 12th,
morning after Twelfth-day, and Herrick thus alludes and the man appeared and was rebuked.
to it:

If Pairny had lived a hundred years earlier, in all
Partly work and partly play,

probability he would have been burned ; if a hundred
You must on St Distaff's Day.

years later, he might have been honoured and fêted as If the maids a-spinning go,

a benefactor of his race. But we are wandering from Burn the flax, and fire the tow.

the thread of our discourse, and the length of our In short, Queen Bertha of the long-foot, and Dame yarn warns us to cut it short, and reel up, without Bertha of the Horn, Berta the fairy, and Bertha the more than alluding to the numerous songs, anecdotes, baint, are all derived from one source, being the proverbs, and homely tales connected with hand-spinmodern representatives of a much more ancient

ning, an art, in most places, completely passed out of patroness of spinners, the Herthus or Frija of the the distaff and spindle, was in its turn deposed by

recollection; for the spinning-wheel, after superseding Scandinavian mythology. It has been truly said that the religion of one era becomes the superstitions machinery, worked by steam. Like the black-jack, the of the next. The three well-known stars in Orion's wheel of the turnspit dog, the pillion, and the packbelt, which Scottish peasants term the ell-wand," saddle, the spinning-wheel is now almost unknown, were known to the ancient Northmen as Frija's

save as a relic of the past. As such, it may someDistaff; but since the introduction of Christianity times be found on the upper back-shelf of a museum among them, those stars have been termed Mary's consideration that a steam-engine will whirl 150,000

or collection of antiquities. And when we take into Rock.

The ramifications of popular superstitions are widely spindles at once, rattling off 30,000 miles of yarn in an spread. One of the Roman rural laws forbade a woman hour, at an expense of less than a halfpenny for every to spin on the highway, it being considered an

six miles—that the thousands of women tending inauspicious omen to the travellers who miglit meet steam-spinning machines earn more in one day than her so employed. Nearly two thousand years later, the they could have earned in a week by hand-spinningvery same notion was common in France. In the

we may, in spite of all the pleasing associations and Gospels of Distaves, we read that it is exceedingly tented to leave it on the shelf: its work is done-our

recollections of the spinning-wheel, be very well conunlucky for a man travelling on horseback to pass a woman spinning; he should either put off his journey,

yarn is spun. or avoid her by turning back and going another way. In the Isle of Man, and also in Northern Germany, it was considered sinful to spin on Saturday; and the

O ÇEO LA: peasantry still relate a story of two old women, inde

A ROMANCE.
fatigable spinners, who would spin on that day. At
last one of them died; and while the survivor was
spinning on the following Saturday, the deceased WE had escaped from the block-house in boats,
appeared to lier, and holding out a dreadfully burned down the river to its mouth, and by sea to St Marks.
hand, said:

Thence the volunteers scattered to their homes-their
Behold what I have justly won,

term of service liaving expired. They went as they
Because on Saturday I spun.'

listed ; journeying alone, or in straggling squads of

three and four together. In the Scottish cottage and farmhouse, the wheel was One of these groups consisted of old Hickman the always carefully put away at an early hour of the hunter, a companion of like kidney, myself, and my Saturday afternoon ; not from any superstitious feeling, ever-faithful henchman. but out of respect for the approaching day of rest. Jake was no longer the Black Jake' of yore. A There was, however, a curious feeling connected withi sad change hail come over liis external aspect. His the reel in Scotland, no later than in the times of the cheek-bones stood prominently out, while the cheeks grandmothers of many now living. The reel, register themselves had fallen in; his eyeballs had retreated ing the amount of yarn wound upon it, was looked far within their sockets, and the neglected wool stood upon as an approach to a magical contrivance, and out over his temples in a thick frizzled shock. His with a conscientious feeling of avoiding the slightest skin had lost its fine ebon polish, and shewed

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER LXXII.-THE CONDITION OF BLACK JAKE.

[ocr errors]
« 上一頁繼續 »