4th of January

St Titus, disciple of St Paul. St Gregory, bishop, 541. St Rigobert, or Robert, about 750. St Rumon, bishop.

 

Born. – Archbishop Usher, 1580; Jacob Ludwig Karl Grimm, 1785.
Died. – The Maréchal Duc de Luxembourg, 1695; Charlotte Lennox, novelist, 1804; Rachel, tragédienne, 1858; Joseph John Gurney, philanthropist, 1847.

 

JACOB LUDWIG KARL GRIMM.

Jacob Grimm (1785-1863) and his younger brother Wilhelm (1786-1859), natives of Hanau in the electorate of Hesse-Cassel, were distinguished as investigators of the early history and literature of Germany. They produced numerous works, including the fairy tales collected from various parts of Germany, and were fully engaged upon a large Dictionary of the German Language. ‘All my labours,’ says Jacob Grimm, ‘have been either directly or indirectly devoted to researches into our ancient language, poetry, and laws. These studies may seem useless to many; but to me they have always appeared a serious and dignified task, firmly and distinctly connected with our common fatherland, and calculated to foster the love of it. I have esteemed nothing trifling in these inquiries, but have used the small for the elucidation of the great, popular traditions for the elucidation of written documents. Several of my books have been published in common with my brother William. We lived from our youth up in brotherly community of goods; money, books, and collectanea, belonged to us in common, and it was natural to combine our labours.’ The publications of Jacob extended over fully half a century, the first having appeared in 1811.

 

HANDSEL MONDAY.

The first Monday of the year1 is a great holiday among the peasantry of Scotland, and children generally, as being the day peculiarly devoted in that country to the giving and receiving of presents. It is on this account called Handsel Monday, handsel being in Scotland the equivalent of a Christmas box, but more specially inferring a gift at the commencement of a season or the induing of some new garment. The young people visit their seniors in expectation of tips (the word, but not the action, unknown in the north). Postmen, scavengers, and deliverers of newspapers look for their little annual guerdons. Among the rural population, Auld Hansel Monday, i.e. Handsel Monday old style, or the first Monday after the 12th of the month, is the day usually held. The farmers used to treat the whole of their servants on that morning to a liberal breakfast of roast and boiled, with ale, whisky, and cake, to their utmost contentment; after which the guests went about seeing their friends for the remainder of the day. It was also the day on which any disposed for change gave up their places, and when new servants were engaged. Auld Hansel Monday continues to be the holiday of the year to the class of farm-labourers in Scotland.

‘It is worth mentioning that one William Hunter, a collier (residing in the parish of Tillicoultry, in Clackmannanshire), was cured in the year 1738 of an inveterate rheumatism or gout, by drinking freely of new ale, full of barm or yeast. The poor man had been confined to his bed for a year and a half, having almost entirely lost the use of his limbs. On the evening of Handsel Monday, as it is called, some of his neighbours came to make merry with him. Though he could not rise, yet he always took his share of the ale, as it passed round the company, and in the end he became much intoxicated. The consequence was that he had the use of his limbs next morning, and was able to walk about. He lived more than twenty years after this, and never had the smallest return of his old complaint.’ – (Sinclair’s) Statistical Account of Scotland, xv. 201, note.

 

THE MAN IN THE MOON.

This is a familiar expression, to which few persons attach any definite idea. Many would be found under a belief that it refers merely to that faint appearance of a face which the moon presents when full. Those who are better acquainted with natural objects, and with folklore, are aware that the Man in the Moon – the object referred to under that name – is a dusky resemblance to a human figure which appears on the western side of the luminary when eight days old, being somewhat like a man carrying a thorn-bush on his back, and at the same time engaged in climbing, while a detached object in front looks like his dog going on before him. It is a very old popular notion amongst various nations, that this figure is the man referred to in the book of Numbers (chap. xv. v. 32 et seq.), as having been detected by the children of Israel in the wilderness, in the act of gathering sticks on the Sabbath-day, and whom the Lord directed (in absence of a law on the subject) to be stoned to death without the camp. One would have thought this poor stick-gatherer sufficiently punished in the actual history: nevertheless, the popular mind has assigned him the additional pain of a perpetual pillorying in the moon. There he is with his burden of sticks upon his back, continually climbing up that shining height with his little dog before him, but never getting a step higher! And so it ever must be while the world endures!

 

1  The year 1864 being assumed as the basis of the Book of Days, the popular Scotch festival of Hansel-Monday comes to be treated under the 4th of January. [It would be the 7th now in 2019.]

 

On This Day from Other Sources.

 

PAYMENT TO LURE A PRINTER TO SET UP THE FIRST PRESS IN EDINBURGH.

There was no press in Glasgow till near the middle of the seventeenth century. Printing was first introduced there by George Anderson, who came to the city by special invitation of the magistrates in 1638. The earliest recorded notice on the subject is contained in the following minute of the town council: “4 January 1640 Ordaines the thesaurare to pay to George Andersone printer ane hundrethe pundis [£5] in satisfactioun to him of the superplus he disbursit in transporting of his geir to this brughe by [besides] the ten dollouris he gave of him befor to that effect, and als in satisfactioun to him of his haill bygane fiallis fra Whitsonday in anno 1638 to Martinmas last.”  

Old Glasgow, pp.299-307. 

 

GLASGOW FREED.

The [Glasgow] community also, under the more general diffusion of liberty and expression of thought which was now beginning to prevail, must have felt more keenly the inferiority of their status to that of their smaller neighbours who enjoyed the full privileges of the royal burghs, while their subjection to the archbishops and to the temporal lords, in the nomination of their provost and magistrates, as well as in other matters relating to the city, must have become intolerably irksome. We are prepared, therefore, to find the community now taking a prominent part in those events which resulted in the Revolution. We know that they took an active share in promoting the cause of the Prince of Orange, and as they were among the first of the burghs to congratulate the prince and the queen on their accession, so the services which the city had rendered towards bringing about that event were early recognized by the new sovereigns. By royal charter dated 4th January, 1690, the city was declared free; and in the “humble and thankful address” which “the provost, bailiffs, town council and other citizens” presented in the following month, the feelings of the community on the contrast between the past and present state of matters found energetic expression. “As your citie of Glasgow,” the address bears, “hath shared in the common benefit, so hath she tasted of your royal bounty and favour, in particular by giving your high commissioner a special instruction for our freedom by act of parliament. And now by your royal grant, given at Kingsintown the 4th of Januar last, wherein your majestie is graciously pleased to notice and putt ane value upon the zeal for the Protestant religion and loyal affections of your citie of Glasgow, and to give to her a full right and libertie for electing her own magistrates in all tyme comeing, als frelie as the royal borrowes of this your majesties ancient kingdom, by which being emancipated from the slaverie of ane imposed magistracie, the instruments of our bishops, their tyrannie and avarice, the public interest of this once flourishing corporation being thereby recovered, we are delivered from the fears and secured from the dangers of a future relapse into what has been the source of our past miserie.”  

Old Glasgow, pp.83-98. 

 

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