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´╗┐Title: A Masque of Days - From the Last Essays of Elia: Newly Dressed & Decorated
Author: Lamb, Charles, 1775-1834
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Masque of Days - From the Last Essays of Elia: Newly Dressed & Decorated" ***

produced from images generously made available by The
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       *       *       *       *       *

                A MASQUE OF DAYS



               CASSELL & COMPANY
                LIMITED: LONDON:


                   FROM THE
                  LAST ESSAYS
                   OF ELIA:

                 NEWLY DRESSED
                  & DECORATED

                  WALTER CRANE

                PARIS, NEW YORK
               & MELBOURNE. 1901.


       *       *       *       *       *

THE OLD YEAR being dead, and the NEW YEAR coming of age, wh: he does by
Calendar Law, as soon as the breath is out of the old gentleman's body,
nothing would serve the young spark but he must give a dinner upon the
occasion, to wh: all the Days in the year were invited. The Festivals,
whom he deputed as his stewards, were mightily taken with the notion.
They had been engaged time out of mind, they said, in providing mirth and
good cheer for mortals below; and it was time they should have a taste of
their own bounty. It was stiffly debated among them whether the Fasts
should be admitted. Some said, that the appearance of such lean, starved
guests, with their mortified faces, would pervert the ends of the meeting.
But the objection was overruled by Christmas Day who had a design upon Ash
Wednesday (as you shall hear), and a mighty desire to see how the old
Domine would behave himself in his cups.

Only the VIGILS were requested to come with their lanterns to light the
gentlefolks home at night.

All the Days came to their day. Covers were provided for three hundred and
sixty-five guests at the principal table; with an occasional knife and
fork at the side-board for the Twenty-Ninth of February.

I should have told you that cards of invitation had been issued. The
carriers were THE HOURS twelve little, merry whirligig foot-pages as
you should desire to see, that went all round, and found out the persons
invited well enough, with the exception of Easter Day, Shrove Tuesday, and
a few such Moveables, who had lately shifted their quarters.

Well, they all met at last, foul Days, fine Days, all sorts of Days,
and a rare din they made of it. There was nothing but, Hail! fellow
Day,--well met--brother Day--sister Day--only LADY DAY kept a little aloof
and seemed somewhat scornful. Yet some said, TWELFTH DAY cut her out and
out, for she came in a tiffany suit, white and gold, like a queen on a
frost-cake, all royal glittering, and Epiphanous.

The rest came, some in green, some in white--but old Lent and his
family were not yet out of mourning.

Rainy Days came in, dripping; and sun-shiny Days helped them to change
their stockings.

Wedding Day was there in his marriage finery, a little the worse for

Pay Day came late, as he always does; and Doomsday sent word--he might
be expected.

April Fool (as my young lord's jester) took upon himself to marshal the
guests, and wild work he made with it. It would have posed old Erra Pater
to have found out any given Day in the year, to erect a scheme upon good
Days, bad Days were so shuffled together, to the confounding of all sober
horoscopy. He had stuck the Twenty-First of June next to the Twenty-Second
of December, and the former looked like a Maypole siding a marrow-bone.

Ash Wednesday got wedged in (as was concerted) betwixt Christmas & Lord
Mayor's Days. Lord! how he laid about him! Nothing but barons of beef &
turkeys would go down with him to the great greasing & detriment of his
new sackcloth bib and tucker. And still Christmas Day was at his elbow,
plying him with the wassail-bowl, till he roared, & hiccupp'd, &
protested there was no faith in dried ling, a sour, windy, acrimonious,
censorious hy-po-crit-crit-critical mess & no dish for a gentleman. Then
he dipt his fist into the middle of the great custard that stood before
his left-hand neighbour, & daubed his hungry beard all over with it, till
you would have taken him for the Last Day in December it so hung in

At another part of the table, Shrove Tuesday was helping the Second of
September to some cock broth,--which courtesy the latter returned with
the delicate thigh of a hen pheasant--so there was no love lost for that

The Last of Lent was spunging upon Shrovetide's pancakes; which April
Fool perceiving, told him he did well, for pancakes were proper to a good

In another part a hubbub arose about the Thirtieth of January, who, it
seems, being a sour puritanic character, that thought nobody's meat good
or sanctified enough for him, had smuggled into the room a calf's head,
which he had had cooked at home for that purpose, thinking to feast
thereon incontinently; but as it lay in the dish March Many-weathers,
who is a very fine lady, and subject to the meagrims, screamed out there
was a "human head in the platter," and raved about Herodias' daughter to
that degree, that the obnoxious viand was obliged to be removed; nor did
she recover her stomach till she had gulped down a Restorative, confected
of Oak Apple, which the merry Twenty-Ninth of May always carries about
with him for that purpose.

The King's health being called for after this, a notable dispute arose
between the 12th of August (a zealous old Whig gentlewoman), and the
Twenty Third of April (a new-fangled lady of the Tory stamp) as to which
of them should have the honour to propose it.

August grew hot upon the matter, affirming time out of mind the
prescriptive right to have lain with her, till her rival basely supplanted

               *       *       *

     April Fool being made mediator, confirmed the right in the
     strongest form of words to the appellant, but decided for peace'
     sake that the exercise of it should remain with the present

               *       *       *

It beginning to grow a little duskish, Candlemas lustily bawled out for
lights which was opposed by all the Days, who protested against burning
daylight. Then fair water was handed round in silver ewers, and the same
lady was observed to take an unusual time in washing herself.

May-Day, with that sweetness which is peculiar to her, in a neat speech
proposing the health of the founder, crowned her goblet, {and by her
example the rest of the company} with garlands. This being done, the
lordly New Year from the upper end of the table, in a cordial but
somewhat lofty tone, returned thanks. He felt proud on an occasion of
meeting so many of his father's late tenants, promised to improve their
farms, & at the same time to abate {if anything was found unreasonable} in
their rents.

At the mention of this the Four Quarter Days involuntarily looked at
each other, & smiled; April Fool whistled to an old tune of "New Brooms" &
a surly old rebel at the further end of the table {who was discovered to
be no other than the Fifth-of-November} muttered out distinctly enough to
be heard by the whole company, words to this effect, that, "when the old
one is gone, he is a fool that looks for a better." Which rudeness of his,
the guests resenting, unanimously voted his expulsion; & the malcontent
was thrust out neck & heels into the cellar, as the properest place for
such a boutefeu & firebrand as he had shewn himself to be.

Order being restored--the young lord {who, to say truth, had been a
little ruffled & put beside his oratory} in as few, & yet as obliging
words as possible, assured them of entire welcome; &, with a graceful
turn, singling out poor Twenty-Ninth of February, that had sate all this
while mumchance at the side-board, begged to couple his health with that
of the good company before him--which he drank accordingly; observing,
that he had not seen his honest face any time these four years--with a
number of endearing expressions besides. At the same time, removing the
solitary Day from the forlorn seat which had been assigned to him, he
stationed him at his own board, somewhere between the Greek Calends and
Latter Lammas.

Ash Wednesday, being now called upon for a song, with his eyes fast stuck
in his head, & as well as the Canary he had swallowed would give him
leave, struck up a Carol, which Christmas Day had taught him for the
nonce; & was followed by the latter, who gave "Miserere" in fine style,
hitting off the mumping notes & lengthened drawl of Old Mortification with
infinite humour.

    [April Fool swore they had exchanged conditions; but Good
    Friday was observed to look extremely grave; & Sunday held her fan
    before her face, that she might not be seen to smile.]

Shrove tide, Lord Mayor's Day, and April Fool, next joined in a glee--

     Which is the properest day to drink?

in which all the days chiming in, made a merry burden.

They next fell to quibbles & conumdrums.

The question being proposed, who had the greatest number of followers--the
Quarter Days said, there could be no question as to that; for they had all
the creditors in the world dogging their heels. But April Fool gave it in
favour of the Forty Days before Easter; because the debtors in all cases
outnumbered the creditors, & they kept _lent_ all the year round.

All this while Valentine's Day kept courting pretty May, who sate next
him, slipping amorous billets-doux under the table, till the Dog Days
{who are naturally of a warm constitution} began to bark and rage

April Fool, who likes a bit of sport above measure, & had some
pretensions to the lady besides as being but a cousin once
removed,--clapped & halloo'd them on; and as fast as their indignation
cooled those mad wag's, the Ember Days, were at it with their bellows, to
blow it into a flame; & all was in a ferment: till old Madame Septuagesima
{who boasts herself the Mother of the Days} wisely diverted the
conversation with a tedious tale of the lovers which she could reckon
when she was young; & of one Master Rogation Day in particular, who was
for ever putting the question to her; but she kept him at a distance, as
the chronicle wd: tell--by which I apprehend she meant the Almanack.

Then she rambled on to the Days that were gone, the good old Days, & so to
the Days before the Flood--which plainly showed her old head to be little
better than crazed & doited.

Day being ended, the Days called for their cloaks & great-coats & took
their leaves.

Lord Mayor's Day went off in a mist as usual; Shortest Day in a deep black
Fog that wrapt the little gentleman all round like a hedgehog. Two
Vigils--so watchmen are called in heaven--saw Christmas Day safe
home--they had been used to the business before. Another Vigil--a stout,
sturdy patrole, called the Eve of St. Christopher--seeing Ash Wednesday
in a condition little better than he should be--e'en whipt him over his
shoulders, pick-a-back fashion, & Old Mortification went floating home

     "On the bat's back do I fly,"

& a number of old snatches besides, between drunk & sober; but very few
Aves or Penitentiaries {you may believe me} were among them. Longest Day
set off westward in beautiful crimson & gold--the rest, some in one
fashion, some in another; but Valentine & pretty May took their departure
together in one of the prettiest silvery twilights a Lover's Day could
wish to set in.





*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Masque of Days - From the Last Essays of Elia: Newly Dressed & Decorated" ***

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