Imágenes de páginas

hortation will ever be able to revive the primitive Use of it.

I know not how the present Generation will relifh his Reflections in this and many fubfequent Chapters: Serious Animadverfions of this Sort feem by no Means pleafing to the refined Tafte of our Age. We plainly discover an Intention of uniting Entertainment with Utility in his little Sermons; which, it must be confeffed, are not always delivered in the most agreeable Manner.-He does not always ftick by his Text:-His Inferences are often far fetched:-His good Meaning, however, muft atone for fome little Deficiencies of Stile, and Penury of Compofition.-Men, provided with keen Appetites for this Kind of Entertainment, will content themselves with the homely Manner in which he has ferved it up to them.-Indeed Squeamishnefs in this Particular would but ill fuit the Study of the English Antique. A great deal of wholfome Meat of this Sort has been brought on upon wooden Platters. Nice Guests will think our famous old Cook, Mr. Hearne himself, but a very coarse and greafy Kind of Hoft.

In fine, I have not prefumed to violate my Author's Text, left I should seem to play the Empiric, and lay the Foundation of my own little Structure upon the Ruins of his.

for Merit, and confounded the Idea of Scarceness with that of intrinfic Value.-I received this Information from one of the Society of Antiquaries, who understands the Subject too well himself to be mistaken in his Opinion of the Merit of those who have written upon it. On the Weight of that Opinion alone I have been induced to preserve every Line that our Author has left us in that Work.

[blocks in formation]


Of Watching with the Dead.

WATCHING with the Church, every

CHING with the Corps was an an

tient Custom of the Church, and

where practifed. They were wont to fit by it, from the Time of its Death till its Exportation to the Grave, either in the House it died in, or in the Church itself. Agreeable to this, we read in St. Austin, That as they watched his Mother Monica, * Euodius took the Pfalter, and began to fing a Pfalm, which the whole Family anfwered with that of the Pfalmift David, I will fing of Mercy and Judgment, unto thee, O LORD, will I fing. And we are told, †That at the Death of St. Ambrofe, his Body was carried into the Church before Day, the fame Hour he died. It was the Night before Eafter, and they watched with him there.

How unlike to this antient Custom of watching is the modern one, of locking up the Corps

* Pfalterium arripuit Euodius, & cantare cæpit pfalmum, cui refpondebamus omnes domus: Miferecordiam & judicium cantabo tibi Domine. Aug. Lib. 9. Confef. C. 12.

+ Ad ecclefiam antelucana hora qua defunctus eft, corpus ipfius portatum eft: ibique eadem fuit nocte, quam vigilavimus in pafcha. Gg. Turon. de Gloria, Confef. C. 104.


in a Room, and leaving it there alone? How unlike to this decent Manner of watching, is that watching of the Vulgar, which is a Scene of Sport and Drinking and Lewdnefs? Watching at that Time with a dear Friend, is the last Kindness and Respect we can shew him ; and how unfriendly is it, to change it into Negligence and too great Refignation? How unchristian, inftead of a becoming Sorrow and decent Gravity, to put on an unbecoming Joy and undecent Pastime.





UR Author, for what Reason I know not, has omitted the vulgar Name given here to this watching with a Corps. It is called the Lakewake; a Word plainly derived from the AngloSaxon Lic or Lice, a Corpfe, and Wæcce, a Wake, Vigil, or Watching. It is used in this Senfe by Chaucer, in his Knight's Tale:

Shall not be told for me,
How that Arcite is brent to Afhen cold,
Ne how that there the Liche-wake was yhold
All that Night long.

[blocks in formation]


Thus alfo I read in the Article Walkin, in the learned Gloffary to Douglas' Virgil, “ Properly •Like-wakes (Scotch) are the Meetings of the "Friends of the Deceafed, a Night, or Nights be"fore the Burial."


I am not fatisfied with either of the Quotations he has given us in Proof of the Antiquity of the Cuftom: They are indeed fomething to the Purpofe; but in the laft cited Paffage, one would be inclined to think from the Words of the Original, that the Watching was on Account of its being the Vigil of Eafter-Day.

The fubfequent Extract from one of the antient Councils quoted in Durant, † p. 232, is, I think, much more appofite:-" Now it must be observed, "that Pfalms are wont to be fung not only when "the Corps is conducted to Church, but that the "Antients watched on the Night before the Burial, "and spent the Vigil in finging Pfalms." So alfo Gregory, in the Epiftle that treats of the Death of his Sifter Macrina, has thefe Words: "Now when the nightly Watching, as is ufual" &c.

I could give numerous Paffages from the Antients, were there any Doubt of the Antiquity of a Cuftom, which probably owes its Origin to the tendereft Affections of human Nature, and has perhaps on that Account been used from the Infancy of Time.

By the late Mr. Ruddiman, as is generally fuppofed.

+ Porro obfervandum eft, nedum Pfalmos cani confuetum, cum furus ducitur, fed etiam nocte, quæ præcedit funus, veteres vigilaffe, nocturnafque vigilias canendis Pfalmis egiffe.

Cùm igitur (inquit) nocturna pervigilatio, ut in Martyrum celebritate canendis Pfalmis perfecta effet & Crepufculum adveniffet, &c. Durant, p. 232.

I find in Durant a pretty exact Account of fome of the Ceremonies used at present in what we call laying out or streeking in the North:Mention is made of the clofing the Eyes and Lips -the decent washing-dreffing-and wrapping in a Linen Shroud :-Of which Shroud Prudentius, the Christian Poet, has these Words: Candore nitentia claro

Prætendere lintea mos eft.

Hymn. ad Exequias Defunct.

The Interefts of our Woollen Manufactories have interfered with this antient Rite in England.

[ocr errors]

It is cuftomary at this Day in Northumberland, to fet a Pewter Plate, containing a little Salt||, upon



*To ftreek, to expand, or ftretch out, from the Anglo-Saxon strecan, extendere. See Benfon's Anglo-Saxon Vocabulary in verbo.-A Streeking-Board is that on which they stretch out and compose the Limbs of the dead Body.

Quinetiam Sanctorum Corpora, manibus erectis fupinifque excipere-occludere oculos-ora obturare-decenter ornaretavare accuratè & linteo funebri involvere, &c.

Durant. de Ritibus, p. 224.

Mr. Pennant, in his Tour in Scotland, tells us, that on the Death of a Highlander, the Corps being stretched on a Board, and covered with a coarfe Linen Wrapper, the Friends lay on the Breaft of the Deceafed a wooden Platter, containing a small Quantity of Salt and Earth, feparate and unmixed; the Earth an Emblem of the corruptible Body; the Salt an Emblem of the immortal Spirit. -All Fire is extinguished where a Corps is kept; and it is reckoned fo ominous for a Dog or a Cat to pass over it, that the poor Animal is killed without Mercy.

The Face Cloth too is of great Antiquity.—Mr Strutt tells us, that after the closing the Eyes, &c. a Linen Cloth was put over the Face of the Deceafed.-Thus we are told, that Henry the Fourth, in his laft Illness feeming to be dead, his Chamberlain covered his Face with a Linen Cloth. English Æra, p. 105.

[ocr errors]

Salem abhorrere conftat Diabolum, et ratione optima nititur,

« AnteriorContinuar »