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so) E. B.—E. B. lived opposite a young maiden, whom he had often seen, unseen, from his parlour window in C c street. She was all joyousness and innocence, and just of an age to enjoy receiving a Valentine, and just of a temper to bear the disappointment of missing one with good humour. E. B. is an artist of no common powers; in the fancy parts of designing, perhaps inferior to none; his name is known at the bottom of many a well-executed vignette in the way of his profession, but no further; for E. B. is modest, and the world meets nobody half-way. E. B. meditated how he c uld repay this young maiden for many a favour which she had done him unknown; for, when a kindly face greets us, though but passing by, and never knows us again, nor we it, we should feel it as an obligation; and E. B. did. This good artist set himself at work to please the damsel. It was just before Valentine's day three years since. He wrought unseen, and unsuspected, a wondrous work. We need not say it was on the finest gilt paper with borders—full, not of common hearts and heartless allegory, but all the prettiest stories of love from Ovid, and older poets than Ovid (for E. B. is a scholar.) There was Pyramus and Thisbe, and be sure Dido was not forgot, nor Hero and Leander, and swans more than sang in Cayster, with mottoes and fanciful devices, such as beseemed,—a work in short of magic. Iris dipt the woof. This on Valentine's eve he commended to the all-swallowing indiscriminate orifice—(O, ignoble trust!)—of the common post; but the humble medium did its duty, and from his watchful stand, the next morning, he saw the cheerful mesfinger knock, and by and by the precious charge delivered. He saw, unseen, the happy girl unfold the Valentine, dance about, clap her hands, as one after one the pretty emblems unfolded themselves. She danced about, not with light love, or foolish expectations, for she had no lover; or, if she had, none she knew that could have created those bright images which delighted her. It was more like some fairy present; a God-send, as our familiarly pious ancestors termed a benefit received, where the benefactor was unknown. It would do her no harm. It would do her good for ever after. It is good to love the unknown. I only give this as a specimen of E B., and his modest way of doing a concealed kindness.
"Good morrow to my Valentine, sings poor Ophelia; and no better wish, but with better auspices, we wish to all faithful lovers, who are not too wise to despise old legends, but are content to rank themselves humble diocesans with old Bishop Valentine, and his true church."
Mr. Douce, whose attainments include more erudition concerning the origin and progress of English customs than any other antiquarian possesses, must be referred to upon this occasion. He observes, in his " Illustrations of Shakspeare," concerning St. Valentine's day, that "it was the practice in ancient Rome, during a great part of the month of February, to celebrate the Lupercalia, w hich were feasts in honour of Pan and Juno, whence the latter deity was named Februata, Februalis, and Februlla. On this occasion, amidst a variety of ceremonies, the names of young women were put into a box, from which they were drawn by the men as chance directed. The pastors of the early christian church, who by every possible means endeavoured to eradicate the vestiges of pagan superstitions, and chiefly by some commutations of their forms, substituted, in the present instance, the names of particular saints instead of those of the women , and as the festival of the Lupercalia had commenced about the middle of February, they appear to have chosen St. Valentine's day for celebrating the new feast, because it occurred nearly at the same time. This is, in part, the opinion of a learned and rational compiler of the 'Lives of the Saints,' the Rev. Alban Butler. It should seem, however, that it was t 'terly impossible to extirpate altogether any ceremony to which the common people had been much accustomed: a fact which it were easy to prove in tracing the origin of various other popular superstitions. And accordingly the outline of the ancient ceremonies was preserved, but modified by some adaptation to the christian system. It is reasonable to suppose that the above practice of choosing mates would gradually become reciprocal in the sexes; and that all persons so chosen would be called Valentines, from the day on which the ceremony took place."'
Leaving intermediary facts to the curious inquirer, we come immediately to a. few circumstances and sayings from grave authors and gay poets respecting this festival, as it is observed in our own country. It is recorded as a rural tradition, that on St. Valentine's day each bird of the air chooses its mate; and hence it is presumed, that our homely ancestors, in their lusty youth, adopted a practice which we still find peculiar to a season when nature bursts its imprisonments for
the coming pleasures of the cheerful spring. Lydgate, the monk of Bury, who died in 1440, and is described by Warton to have been " not only the poet, of his monastery, but of the world in general," has a poem in praise of queene Catherine, consort to Henry V., wherein he says:
Seynte Valentine. Of custome yeere by yeere
To loke and serche Cupides kalendere,
And chose theyr choyse, by grete affeccioun;
Takyne theyre choyse as theyr sort doth lalle:
But I love oon whiche excellith alle.
happiest of living things at this se ison, the birds, thus:
Chaucer imagines " Nature the vicars of the Almightie Lord," to address the
Foules, take hede of my sentence I pray,
Ye know well, how on St. Valentine's day
Ye doe chese your Makes, and after flie away
With hem as I move you with pleasaunce
Saint Valentine, thou art full high on loft,
Our young readers are informed, that the word " make" in Chaucer, now obsolete, signified mate.
Jago, a poet, who, if he has not soared to greatness, has at least attained to the easy versification of agreeable, and sometimes higher feelings, has left us a few stanzas, which harmonize with the suppositions of Chaucer:
St. Valentine's Day.
The tuneful choir in amorous strains
Accost their feathered loves;
The tender suit app.oves.
With cheerful hop from spray to spray
They sport along the meads; In social bliss together stray,
Where love or Cinjy leads.
Through Spring's grj vei,"s each happy pair
Their fluttering joys p'irsue;
For ever kind and true.
their sprightly notes from every sirde
Their mutual loves proclaim;
And damp th' enlivening flame
Then all the jocund scene declines,
Nor woods nor meads delight; The drooping tribe in secret pines,
And mourns th' unwelcome sight.
Go, blissful warblers! timely wise,
TV instructive moral tell;
My charming Annabelle!
Old John Dunton's " British Apollo" sings a question and answer:
Why, Valentine's a day to choose
Further on, in the same miscellany, is another question and answer:
"Question. In chuting valentines (according to custom) is not the party chusing (be it man or woman) to make a present to the party chosen?
"Answer. We think it more proper te say, drawing of valentines, since the most customary way is for each to take his or her lot. And chance cannot be termed choice. According to this me
thod, the obligations are equal, and therefore it was formerly the custom mutually lo present, but now it is customary only for the gentlemen."
This drawing of valentines is remarked in Poor Robin's Almanac for 1676, under St. Valentine's day:
"Now Andrew, Anthony, and William, For Valentines draw Prue, Kate, Jilian" Misson, a learned traveller, who died in England about 1721, describes the amusing practices of his time:—" On the eve of the 14th of February, St. Valentine's day, the young folks in Eng.and and Scotland, by a very ancient custom, celebrate a little festival. An equal number of maids and bachelors get together, each writes their true or some feigned name upon separate billets, which they roll up, and draw by way of lots, the maids taking the men's billets, and the men the maids'; so that each of the young men lights upon a girl that he calls his valentine, and each of the girls
upon a young man which she calls her?. By this means each has two valentines • but the man sticks faster to the valentine that is fallen to him, than to the valen tine to whom he is fallen. Fortune having thus divided the company into so many couples, the valentines give balls and treats to their mistresses, wear their billets several days upon their bosoms or sleeves, and this little sport often ends in love. This ceremony is practised differently in different counties, and according to the freedom or severity of madam Valentine. There is another kind of valentine, which is the first young man or woman that chance throws in your way in the street, or elsewhere, on that day."
In some places, at this time, and more particularly in London, the lad's valentine is the first lass he sees in the morning, who is not an inmate of the house , the lass's valentine is the first youth she sees. Gay mentions this usage on St. Valentine's day: he makes a rustic housewife remind her good man,—
I early rose just at the break of day,
Before the sun had chas'd the stars away;
A field I went, amid the morning dew
To milk my kine,(for so should housewives do,)
Thee first I spied, and the first swain we see
In spite of Fortune shall our true-love be.
So also in the " Connoisseur" there is mention of the same usage preceded by certain mysterious ceremonies the night before ; one of these being almost certain to ensure an indigestion is therefore likely to occasion a dream favourable to the dreamer's waking wishes.—" Last Friday wasValentine's day, and, the night before, I got five bay-leaves,and pinned fourof them to the four corners of my pillow, and the fifth to the middle; and then, if I dreamt of my sweetheart, Betty said we should be married before the year was out. But to make it more sure, I boiled an egg hard, and took out the yolk, and filled it with salt; and when I went to bed, ate it, shell and all, without speaking or drinking after it. We also wrote our lovers' names upon bits of paper, and rolled them up in clay, and put them into water: and the first that rose up was to be our valentine. Would you think it, Mr. Blossom was my man. I lay a-bed and shut my eyes all the morning, till he came to our house; for I would not have seen another man before him for all the wc rid."
Shakspeare bears witness to the custom of looking for your valentine, or desiring to be one, through poor Ophelia's singing
Good morrow! 'tis St..Valentine's dav
All in the morning betime, And I a maid at your window,
To be your valentine!
Sylvanus Urban, in 1779, was informed by Kitty Curious, that on St. Valentine's day in that year, at a little obscure village in Kent, she found an odd kind of sport. The girls from five or six to eighteen years old were assembled in a crowd, burning an uncouth .ffigy which they called a •' holly boy, and which they had stolen from the boys; while in another part of the village the boys were burning what they called an " ivy girl," which they had stolen from the girls. The ceremony of each burtiing was accompanied by acclamations, huzzas, and other noise. Kitty inquired the meaning of this from the oldest people in the place, but she could learn no more than that it had always been a sport it that season.
bourhood a similar boon, says our correspondent,
A correspondent communicates to the Every-Day Book a singular custom, which prevailed many years since in the west of England. Three single young men went out together before daylight on St. Valentine's day, with a clapnet to catch an old owl and two sparrows in a neighbouring barn. If they were successful, and could bring the birds to the inn without injury before the females of the house had risen, they were rewarded by the hostess with three pots of purl in honour of St. Valentine, and enjoyed the privilege of demanding at any other house in the neigh
The day Saint Valentine,
This was done, as an emblem that the owl being the bird of wisdom, could influence the feathered race to enter the net of love as mates on that day, whereon both single lads and maidens should be reminded that happiness could alone be secured by an early union.
On this ancient festival, it was formerly the custom for men to make presents by the women. In Scotland these valentine gifts were reciprocal, as indeed they are still in some parts. Hurdis calls this
St. Valentine is the lover's saint. Not thatlorers have more superstition than other people, but their imaginings are more. As it is fabled that Orpheus "played so well, he moved old Nick ;" so it is true that Love, " cruel tyrant," moves the veriest brute. Its influence renders the coarsest nature somewhat interesting. A being of this kind, so possessed, is almost as agreeable as a parish cage with an owl inside; you hear its melancholy tee-whit tee-who, and wonder how it got there. Its place of settlement becomes a place of sentiment; nobody can liberate the starveling, and it will stay there Its mural notes seem so many calls for pity, which are much abated on the recollection,that there are openings enough for its escape. The " tender passion" in the two mile an hour Jehu of an eighthorse waggon, puzzles him mightily. He "sighs and drives, sighs and drives, and drives and sighs again," till the approach of this festival enables him to buy "a valentine," with a "halter" and a " couple o' hearts" transfixed by an arrow in the form of a weathercock, inscribed
"I'll be yours, if you'll be mine,
This he gets his name written under by the shopkeeper, and will be quite sure that it is his name, before he walks after his waggon,which he has left to go on, because neither that nor his passion can brook delay. After he is out of the town, he looks behind him, lest any body should see, and for a mile or two on the road, ponders
on the " two hearts made one," as a most singular device, and with admired devotion. He then puts it in the trusty pocket under his frock, which holds the waggor bill, and flogs his horses to quicken their pace towards the inn, where " she," who is "his heart's delight," has been lately promoted to the rank of under kitchen-maid, vice her who resigned, on being called "to the happy estate of matrimony" by a neighbouring carter. He gives her the mysterious paper in the yard, she receives it with a "what be this !" and with a smack on the lips, and a smack from the whip on the gown. The gods have made him poetical, and, from his recollection of a play he saw at the statute-fair, he tells her that "love,like a worm in the mud, has played upon his Lammas cheek" ever since last Lammas-tide, and she knows it has, and that she's his valentine. With such persons and with nature, this is the season of breaking the ice.
St. Valentine, be it repeated, is the saint of all true lovers of every degree, and hence the letters missive to the fair, from wooers on hisfestival.bear his name. Brand thinks "one of the most elegant jeu-d'esprits on this occasion," is one wherein an admirer reminds his mistress of the choice attributed by the legend to the choristers of the air on this d; T, and inquires of her—
Shall only you and I forbear
Yet since the solemn time allows
A better might have been selected from the "Magazine of Magazines," the "Gentleman's," wherein Mr. Urban has sometimes introduced the admirers of ladies to the admirers of antiquities—under which class ladies never come. Thence, ever and anon, as from some high barbican or watchtower old, " songs of loves and maids forsaken," have aroused the contemplation from "facts, fancies, and recollections" regarding other times, to lovers " sighing like furnace" in our own. Through Sylvanus, nearly a century ago, there was poured this
Invocation of St. Valentine.
Away she started from my view,
Seize her—yet treat the nymph divine
So pleasant, so descriptive an illustration of the present custom, requires a companion equally amiable:
Mark'd you her eye's resistless glance,
Mark'd you her cheek that blooms and
A living emblem of the rose 1
Mark'd you her artless smile* that speak
Mark'd you her face, and did not there,
Mark'd you all this, and you have known
Every lady will bear witness that the roll of valentine poesy is interminable; and it being presumed that few would object to a peep in the editor's budget, he offers a little piece, written, at the desire of a lady, under an engraving, which represented a girl fastening a letter to the neck of a pigeon :—
THE COURIER DOVE.
"Va, porter cet ecrit k l'objct de mon ccrur I"
Outstrip the winds my courier dove I
On pinions fleet and free,
Who's far away from me.
It bids him mark thy plume whereon
The changing colours range;
If he should also change. ,
It tells him thou return'st again
To her who sets thee free;
He'll thus resemble thee I
Lastly, from "Sixty-five Poems and Sonnets," &c. recently published, he ventures to extract one not less deserving the honour of perusal, than either that he has presented :—
No hidden flame discover,
Disclaiming that of lover.
Heed not the fop, who loves himself,
The drunkard heed with cold disdain;