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One day, when he was plunged in a profound reverie, · he heard a carriage stop at his door. A stranger was announced, who requested to speak with him. A person was introduced, handsomely dressed, of dignified and impressive manners. “ I have been commissioned, sir, by a man of considerable importance, to call upon you." “ Who is he?" interrupted Mozart.
“ He does not wish to be known.”-"Well, what does he want?"
“ He has just lost a person whom he tenderly loved, and whose memory will be eternally dear to him. He is desirous of annually commemorating this mournful event by a solemn service, for which he requests you to compose a requiem."-Mozart was forcibly struck by this discourse, by the grave manner in which it was uttered, and by the air of mystery in which the whole was involved. He engaged to write the requiem. The stranger continued, “ Employ all your genius
on this work; it is destined for a connoisseur." “ So much the better."2" What time do you require?"-"A month."-" Very well ; in a month's time I shall return-what price do you set on your work?"-"A hundred ducats.” The stranger counted them on the table, and disappeared.
Mozart remained lost in thought for some time: he then suddenly called for pen, ink, and paper, and, in spite of his wife's entreaties, began to write. This rage for composition continued several days; he wrote day and night, with an ardour which seemed continually to increase; but his constitution, already in a state of great debility, was unable to support this enthusiasm ; one morning he fell senseless, and was obliged to suspend his work. Two or three days after, when his wife sought to divert his mind from the gloomy presages which occupied it, he said to her abruptly, “ It is certain that I am writing this requiem for myself; it will serve for my funeral service.' Nothing could remove this impression from his mind.
As he went on, he felt his strength diminish from day to day, and the score advancing slowly. The month which he had fixed being expired, the stranger again
made his appearance. “I have found it impossible," said Mozart, “ to keep my word.”
“ Do not give yourself any uneasiness," replied the stranger ; "what further time do you require?"-" Another month; the work has interested me more than I expected, and I have extended it much beyond what I at first designed.” -"In that case, it is but just to increase the premium; here are fifty ducats more.”— Sir,” said Mozart, with increasing astonishment, “who then are you!"-"That is nothing to the purpose; in a inonth's time I shall return."
Mozart immediately called one of his servants, and ordered him to follow this extraordinary personage, and find out who he was; but the man failed from want of skill, and returned without being able to trace him.
Poor Mozart was then persuaded that he was no ordinary being; that he had a connexion with the other world, and was sent to announce to him his approach
He applied himself with the more ardour to his requiem, which he regarded as the most durable monument of his genius. While thus employed, he was seized with the most alarming fainting fits ; but the work was at length completed before the expiration of the month. At the time appointed, the stranger returned, but Mozart was no more.
His career was as brilliant as it was short. He died before he had completed his thirty-sixth year; but in this short space of time he had acquired a name which will never perish, so long as feeling hearts are to be found.
ST. SWITHIN'S DAY.
( Fifteenth of July.) SWITHIN, in the Saxon Swithum, received his clerical tonsure, and put on the monastic habit, in the old monastery at Winchester. He was of noble parentage, and passed his youth in the study of grammar, phi
losophy, and the Scriptures. Swithin was promoted to holy orders by Helmstan, Bishop of Winchester, at whose death, in 852, King Ethelwolf granted him the
In this he continued eleven years, and died in 863. Swithin desired that he miglit be buried in the open churchyard, and not in the chancel of the minster, as was usual with other bishops ; and his request was complied with : but the monks, on his being canonized, considering it disgraceful for the saint to lie in a public cemetery, resolved to remove his body into the choir, which was to have been done with solemn procession on the 15th of July. It rained, however, so violently for forty days succeeding, that the design was abandoned as heretical and blasphemous; and they honoured his memory by erecting a chapel over his grave, at which many miraculous cures of all kinds are said to have been wrought. To the above rain of forty days belongs the origin of the old saying, “ that if it rains on St. Swithin's, it will rain forty days following !"
It is not to be supposed that an occurrence so local as the exhumation of the reinains of St. Swithin (however the miracle of the rain might have been blazoned by the church) could have obtained a celebrity so extensive and só durable as it is known to possess, if there were not some foundation in fact. commonly happened, that an unquestionable physical truth has received the appendage of fable; and in this case, the explanation, which is false, is made to pass current by means of the fact, which is true. The proverb concerning St. Swithin's day appears to stand in the predicament now described. It is probable, and it seems to be admitted, that if rain does fall in any given place, and in any great quantity, on the 15th of July, it will rain, more or less, at the same place, every day, for such a number of days as may well be proverbially reckoned at forty. In reality, rain, in the middle of July, in the climate of England, is seasonable, and therefore to be expected. Further, neither rain nor dry weather usually occur for single days only, but alternately for many days together. It follows, that if rain
It has very
falls on any given day, it is probable (that is, it usually happens) that it will also fall for many days after. Thus, the St. Swithin's day is placed is this twofold natural situation. First, that it falls in a part of the summer which is usually rainy; and secondly, that if it is a rainy day, it is natural that it should be accompanied by many other rainy days. It remains only to observe, that a philosophical explanation of the forty days' rain of St. Swithin has been given in which the heat of the season is taken into the account. St. Swithin's day falls in the dog-days; that is, in a time of great heat. Now it has been observed, that if a heavy rain falls upon the earth at this season, the heat is so great that the evaporation is exceedingly rapid. The water which has been thrown upon the earth rises rapidly in the form of a vapour; in the higher regions of the atmosphere it is condensed-it falls again—it is evaporated, or raised into the air again—it is condensed again-it falls again ; and thus repeatedly, for many days, till the winds, or other changes in the atmosphere, carry the clouds to distant parts; or rather till the diminished heat of the season suffers the rain, when it has fallen, to sink into the earth.
ORIGIN AND ANECDOTES
OF VARIOUS INVENTIONS AND NAMES.
THE THREE BALLS.
The three blue balls suspended from the doors or windows of pawn-brokers have been humorously enough described by the vulgar, as meaning that it was two chances to one that the things pledged should ever be redeemed: but in fact they are the arms of the Lombard merchants, who
the name to the street in which
they dwelt, and who were the first who publicly lent money on chattel securities.
THE BARBER'S POLE. Many mistakes have been made on the origin of a barber's pole, which is vulgarly supposed to be indicative of the poll or head of his customers : this is a far-fetched, although a popular conceit; that variouscoloured staff being no more than a sign that its master could breathe a vein as well as mow a beard, and professed bleeding as well as shaving : the custom then being, which is yet observed in some villages, for the practitioner to put a staff into the hands of his patient while the latter was undergoing the operation of phlebotomy.
The ancient British word Bardd, or Bard, originally implied a prophet, musician, poet, philosopher, teacher, and herald. His dress was unicoloured, ofsky-blue, as an emblem of truth, and of his sacred character ; not unlike the primitive priesthood; for the Lord commanded Moses, * And thou shalt make the robe of the Ephod all of blue."--Exodus, chap. xxviii. ver. 31; chap. xxxix. ver. 22 : and Leviticus, chap. xix. ver. 27 and 28. These Seers, or British Beirdd, are mentioned by Lucan, thus :
“ Plurima securi fudistis carmina Bardi.”
Can tune their timely voices cunningly.”-SPENCER. According to Juv. 16, 13. Bardaicus Judex seems to have been a Judge Advocate in the army. In the primitive times it was the office of the priesthood to sound the trumpet; and Barddhirgorn we call the Trumpet Major. The system of bardism having fallen into almost total oblivion, poetry and music are now the only characteristics preserved, by which the ancient Bardd is recognized. In the early state of mankind, the Bards