« AnteriorContinuar »
And now in parting company with the old fisherman, let us turn to our poets and hear what they have to tell us of April showers and sunshine, rainbows and blossom :—
The showers of the spring
Rouse the birds and they sing;
The flowers live by the tears that fall
From the sad face of the skies;
Were there no watery eyes.
Love thou thy sorrow; grief shall bring
Its own excuse in after years;
God hath built up from tears.
TO THE RAINBOW.
Triumphal arch that fill'st the sky
I ask not proud philosophy
Still seem, as to my childhood's sight,
A midway station given For happy spirits to alight
Betwixt the earth and heaven.
Can all that Optics teach, unfold
Thy form to please me so,
Hid in thy radiant bow?
When Science from creation's faca
What lovely visions yield their place
And yet, fair bow, no fabling dreams,
Have told why first thy robe of beams
When o'er the green undeluged earth
How came the world's grey fathers forth To watch thy sacred sign!
And when its yellow lustre smiled
O'er mountains yet untrod, Each mother held aloft her child,
To bless the bow of God.
Methinks, thy jubilee to keep,
On earth, deliver'd from the deep,
Nor ever shall the Muse's eye
Theme of primeval prophecy,
XS APRIL BADfBOW. 173
The earth to thee her incense yields,
The lark thy welcome sings,— When glittering in the freshen'd fields
The snowy mushroom springs.
How glorious is thy girdle cast
O'er mountain, tower, and town; Or mirror'd in the ocean vast,
A thousand fathoms down 1
As fresh in yon horizon dark,
As young thy beauties seem, As when the eagle from the ark
First sported in thy beam.
For, faithful to its sacred page,
Heaven still rebuilds thy span; Nor lets the type grow pale with age,
That first spoke peace to man.
Fair pledges of a fruitful tree
Why do ye fall so fast!
Your date is not so past
To blush and gently smile,
What were ye born to be
An hour and half's delight,
And so to bid good-night?
Merely to show your worth
But you are lovely leaves, where we
We cannot conclude our April day more fitly than in the quaint words of the pious old George Herbert:—
Sweet day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridal of the earth and sky,
Sweet rose ! whose hue, early and brave,
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye,
Sweet spring! full of sweet days and roses,
A box where sweets compacted lie,
THE ANTIQUARIAN MONTH.
Writers are by no means agreed in their derivation of the Latin name assigned to this month. Ovid stoutly maintains that it was called April from the Greek name of Venus, 'AQpo&lrr), the deity having been born of acppbv, i. e. the sea-foam. At the same time he notices, although with the contempt becoming a descendant of Venus, that there were some who endeavoured to rob the goddess of her just rights by deriving the month from aperire, to open, because at this season the spring uncloses everything, and the prolific earth is open to receive the seeds. Macrobius gives us a variety of derivations for the word. First he says that as Romulus called the first month of the year March after his father, Mars, so he named the second month April, in honour of the mother of iEneas; but he admits that some have imagined the founder of Some to have been influenced by other and more abstract considerations, and that as he had given March to the slayer of mankind, so he appropriated April to Venus, that her gentleness might temper his ferocity. Scaliger, however, denies the authority both of Ovid and Macrobius, and oddly enough chooses to derive April from aper, a wild boar,
ALL FOOLS* DAT. 175
asserting that the Romans in this only imitated the Greeks, who called February cXafafioXiuv, from the striking of deer, which were then immolated to Diana.
The same uncertainty seems to prevail in regard to the etymology of the Saxon term for this month, Oster, or Oxter Monat. Verstegan says, "they (the Saxons) called April by the name of Oster-Monat. The winds, indeed, by ancient observation, were found in this month most commonly to blow from the east, and east in the Teutonic is ost.
All Fools' Day.—The custom of making April fools on the first day of this month is exceedingly old, as well as general. Both Maurice and Colonel Pierce have shown that it prevailed in India, and the latter says that it forms a part of the Huli Festival.—" During the Hull, when mirth and festivity reign among the Hindoos of every class, one subject of diversion is to send people on errands and expeditions that are to end in disappointment, and raise a laugh at the expense of the person sent. The Huli is always in March, and the last day is the general holiday. I have never yet heard any account of the origin of this English custom; but it is unquestionably very ancient, and is still kept up even in great towns, though less in them than in the country. With us it is chiefly confined to the lower class of people, but in India high and low join in it; and the late Sourajah Doulah, I am told, was very fond of making Huli fools, though he was a Mussulman of the highest rank. They carry the joke here so far as to send letters making appointments in the names of persons, who it is known must be absent from their houses at the time fixed upon; and the laugh is always in proportion to the trouble given."
This custom seems to have prevailed also in Sweden, for we find that Toreen, in his "Voyage to Suratte," says, "The 1st of April we set sail on board the ship called the 'Gothic Lion,' after the west wind had continued to blow for five months together at Gothenburgh, and had almost induced us to believe that there is a trade-wind in the Skaggerac Sea. The wind made April fools of us, for we were forced to return before Skagen, and to anchor at Eifwefiol."