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day in the whole year; all the shops are shut,--labour suspends his toil, --commerce reposes on her oars, and the philosopher postpones his studies, nature and nature's son enjoy a universal holiday. For several weeks preceding new year's-day, various classes of ingenious artists employ all their talents and skill, to shine with an uncommon lustre on the auspicious opening of the new year; these are the confectioners, the embossers of visiting cards, the jewellers, &c.; and their shops on this day display a degree of taste and magnificence difficult to describe, and totally unknown in England. This is the day of universal greetings, of renewing acquaintance, of counting how many links have been broken by time last year in the circles of friendship, and what new ones have replaced them. All persons, whatever may be their rank, degree, or profession, form a list of the names of persons whose friendship they wish to preserve or cultivate; to each of these persons a porter is sent to deliver their card. Those more particularly connected with them by blood or friendship, are visited in person; and all who meet embrace on this happy day. Millions of cards are distributed; and nothing is seen in the streets but well dressed persons going to visit their friends and relations, and renew, in an affectionate manner, all the endearing charms of friendship. On this day, too, parents, friends, and lovers, bestow their presents on the various objects of their affection, and pour so many draughts of the most delightful balm that human nature can partake.
6.-EPIPHANY, or TWELFTH-DAY. • The rites of this day, the name of which signifies an appearance of light, or a manifestation, are different in various places, but all in honour of the Eastern Magi.-For an account of a very antient and singular custom, which takes place, in various parts of the continent, on the eve of this day, see our last volume, pp. 4,5.
In the antient calendar of the Romish church, there is an observation on the 5th day of January, the eve or vigil of the Epiphany: ‘Kings created or elected by beans. The 6th is called “The Festival of Kings, with this additional remark, that the ceremony of electing kings was continued with feasting for many days.' . In the cities and academies of Germany, the students and citizens choose one of their own number for king, providing a most magnificent banquet on the occasion. In France, during the ancien regime, one of the courtiers was chosen king, and the nobles attended on this day at an entertainment.
With the French, Le Roi de la Fève” signifies a Twelfth Night King; and they have a proverb, 'Il a trouvé la fève'au gâteau,' signifying, he is in luck,' &c. but, literally, he has found the bean in the cake.'-In the Anthologie Française for 1817, this subject is thus happily moralized :
Les Rois de la Feve.
Quand vers les cieux mon oil s'élève,
The evening and early part of the night of the Epiphany in Rome is a feast particularly dear to children. Not that they draw king and queen as we do, but there are cakes and sweetmeats and fruit, and, in short, all good things, sold and given away upon the occasion. The Piazza della Rotonda is particularly distinguished by the gay appearance of the fruit and cake-stalls, ornamented with flowers and lighted with paper lanterns. Persons dressed up to resemble the pictures of Mother Bunch or Mother Goose, and called Beffana, are led about the streets, and a great deal of popular wit is displayed. But these visible Beffanas are nothing in importance to the invisible. When the children go to bed, each hangs up a stocking near the pillow. If the child has been good, the stocking is filled with sweetmeats and cakes before morning; but if naughty, the Beffana puts nothing but stones and dirt into it, and we have seen (says Mrs. Graham) many a smile and many a tear occasioned by the impartial gifts of the Beffana.
The Carnival commences on Twelfth-day, and usually holds till Lent. During this festival at Paris, the grand annual procession of a Fat Ox, with all its motley accompaniments of buffoonery, the glory of Paris, and the pride and joy of the Boulevards, lasts for three whole days together. A great improvement was made in the procession of the Fat Os this year (1822), for the first time. Formerly the child who represents Cupid used to sit in a chair on the back of the ox; but this year the ox was led first covered with a fine pall, and Cupid sat on a canopied throne, fixed on a triumphal car, in which there were other smiling loves like himself.
A curious species of carnival spectacle was prepared and executed by Pietro di Cosimo, a Florentine painter, who flourished shortly after Leonardo da Vinci. [t consisted of processions of three or four hundred persons, dressed to represent particular stories, with much splendour and whimsicality. -- On one occasion he got up, with great secresy, the Triumph of Death, which was performed by torchlight: a black car was drawn by black buffaloes, and painted with skulls and crosses; Death sat triumphant on his throne, surrounded by yawning sepulchres, from which, at every halt, the dead arose, and sang a dolorous music. Several men on horseback, painted to represent skeletons, were the escort, with staffieri, dressed as the mutes at funerals, bearing black torches. The black standard of Death, with skulls and cross-bones, was borne aloft, while a mourning band thundered forth the miserere. The terrified people at first fled in horror; but, struck with the novelty, soon returned ; and Pietro, as Vasari tells, was loaded with praises (sommamente lodato). Andrea del Sarto, his pupil, assisted in the execution of this triumph, which was supposed to allude to the return of the Medici, then banished from Florence. It was the bad taste of the day thus to mingle sacred and profane allusions: in the midst of this Carnival festival, they sang the 50th Psalm.
For an interesting account of the Carnival at Rome in 1820,' we must refer to our last vol., pp. 5-9. The following sensible observations on this Festival are from the pen of an acute modern writer:-"The Carnival is the wreck of one of those popular institutions which can flourish only in barbarous times, and in daysof rude and profound ignorance. As knowledge spreads, such periodical excitements to relaxation and pleasure gradually lose their influence; and their last efforts are still exerted in Italy by the sole patronage and protection of the church and govern. ment. Under the French regime, the carnival nearly fell into disuse; and though in every community there will always be found a sufficient number of the dissipated and the idle to obey the call of pleasure, yet the marked difference between the carnival, as we saw it in 1820, and in the various accounts which remain of its festivities in preceding ages, down to the latter end of the eighteenth century, prove how far the people of Rome have got the start of their government, and how little comparative interest such institutions are now calculated to excite. To the period, nearly, of the French Revolution, the Carpival at Rome was characterized by great magnificence; complicated machinery was brought into play, and dramas were acted in the streets. All the heathen gods and goddesses were personified by persons of wealth and condition: the highest ranks were not excluded by fashion or taste from joining in the festivity; and princes and princesses performed the parts which are now entrusted to butchers and their wives, or to persons below the rank of gentry. To maintain a character would now be supreme mauvais ton. The nobles, in their closed carriages, drive for an hour up and down the Corso each day; the mezze dame, with their husbands or cavaliers, occasionally put on a domino and mask to join the crowd, for the purpose of quizzing or rallying some friend or relation; but the great support of the carnival is the multitude of foreigners, who crowd to Rome to witness a spectacle to which they themselves principally contribute. The novelty of the scene has an attraction for them, which is wanting to the Italians; and to the foreign visitants the carnival and other church festivals owe their principal splendour. 1 - After the first two days, however, even the spirits of strangers begin to flag; and after the first sensations subside, the barbarous character of the institution appears in its true symptoms of puerility,