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town, and proceeds to a place where all the inhabitants are assembled to meet him. The appearance of Mumbo Jumbo, it may be supposed, is unpleasing to the African ladies; but they dare not refuse to appear when summoned, and the ceremony commences with dancing and singing, which continues till midnight, when Mumbo seizes on the offender. The unfortunate victim, being stripped naked, is tied to a post, and severely scourged with Mumbo's rod, amidst the shouts and derision of the whole assembly; and it is remarkable that the rest of the women are very clamorous and outrageous in their abuse of their unfortunate sister, till daylight puts an end to this disgusting revelry.”
The following is an extract from Hentzner's Travels in England, 1598: “Upon taking the air down the river (from London), on the left hand lies Ratcliffe, a considerable suburb. On the opposite shore is fixed a long pole, with ram's-horns upon it, the intention of which was vulgarly said to be a reflection upon wilful and contented cuckolds.” Edit. 1757, p.47.
Grose mentions a fair called Horn-Fair, held at Charlton, in Kent, on St. Luke's day, the 18th of October. It consists of a riotous mob, who, after a printed summons dispersed through the adjacent towns, meet at Cuckold's Point, near Deptford, and march from thence in procession through that town and Greenwich to Charlton, with horns of different kinds upon their heads; and at the fair there are sold ram’s-horns, and every sort of toy made of horn; even the ginger-bread figures have horns. A sermon is preached at Charlton church on the fair day. Tradition attributes the origin of this licentious fair to King John, who, it is said, being detected in an adulterous amour, compounded for his crime by granting to the injured husband all the land from Charlton to Cuckold's Point, and established the fair as a tenure.
It appears from the Whole Life of Mr. William Fuller. 1703, p. 122, that it was the fashion in his time to go to Horn fair dressed in women's clothes. “I remember being there upon Horn fair day, I was dressed in my land-lady's best gown, and other women's attire, and to Horn fair we went, and as we were coming back by water, all the cloaths were spoiled by dirty water, &c., that was flung on us in an inundation, for which I was obliged to present her with two guineas, to make atonement for the damage sustained, &c.”
In an extract from an old newspaper, I find it was formerly a custom for a procession to go from some of the inns in Bishopsgate street, in which were a king, a queen, a miller, a councillor, &c., and a great number of others, with horns in their hats, to Charlton, where they went round the church three times, &c. So many indecencies were committed upon this occasion on Blackheath (as the whipping of females with furze, &c.), that it gave rise to the proverb of “all is fair at Horn fair." Lysons, in the Environs of London, iv. 325, says the burlesque procession has been discontinued since the year 1768. [I possess an old ballad called the Merry Humours of Horn Fair, in which this procession is referred to:
“ The first that rides is called the king, sir,
He has a large pair of horns
That all who see may know he's horned.
She said, I hate horns, I do declare,
My husband he shall have a pair.”] Grose in his Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, has noticed two customs evidently connected with our present subject :
"HIGHGATE. Sworn at Highgate.-A ridiculous custom formerly prevailed at the public-houses in Highgate, to administer a ludicrous oath to all travellers of the middling rank who stopped there. The party was sworn on a pair of horns, fastened on a stick; the substance of the oath was, never to kiss the maid when he could kiss the mistress, never to drink small heer when he could get strong, with many other injunctions of the like kind: to all which was added the saving clause, • Unless you like it best. The person administering the oath was always to be called father by the juror, and he in return was to style him son, under the penalty of a bottle.” One or two of the public-houses in this village still (1841) have a pair of horns elevated upon a post standing in front of the house.
“Hosting. A ludicrous ceremony formerly performed on every soldier the first time he appeared in the field after being married. It was thus managed : As soon as the regiment or company had grounded their arms to rest awhile, three or four men of the same company to which the bridegroom belonged seized upon him, and, putting a couple of bayonets out of the two corners of his hat to represent horns, it was placed on his head, the back part foremost. He was then hoisted on the shoulders of two strong fellows, and carried round the arms, a drum and a fife beating and playing the Pioneers' call, named Round-heads and Cuckolds, but on this occasion styled the Cuckold's March. In passing the colours he was to take off his hat. This in some regiments was practised by the officers on their brethren.”
The following is from a View of London and Westminster, or the Town Spy, 1725, p. 26. The author is speaking of St. Clement Danes : “ There was formerly a good custom of saddling the spit in this parish, which, for reasons well known at Westminster, is now laid aside; so that wives, whose husbands are sea-faring persons, or who are otherwise absent from them, have lodged here ever since very quietly.”
OF THE WORD CUCKOLD. I know not how this word, which is generally derived from cuculus a cuckoo, has happened to be given to the injured husband, for it seems more properly to belong to the adul. terer, the cuckoo being well known to be a bird that deposits its eggs in other birds' nests. The Romans seem to have used cuculus in its proper sense, as the adulterer, calling with equal propriety the cuckold himself carruca, or hedge-sparrow, which bird is well known to adopt the other's spurious offspring. Johnson, in his Dictionary, says: “The cuckow is
I Arga, in Sir Henry Spelman's Glossary, is rendered by curruca and cucurbita, i. e. cuckold, or coucold. For the French call a gourd, coucord ; and we only change their r into 1, as we say Coriander for their Coliander, coronel for their colonel, &c. Such a blockhead, then, that hath caput cucurbitinum, is called arga, as Paul. Diacon. de Gest. Longobard., per. haps from the Greek åpyos, i. e. one that doth not his work or business, and so corbita in LL. Longobard. signifies advoutery and whoredom, which Martinus derives from roupßn, a tree of a saddle, and says kurba i in the Sclavonian signifies a lewd woman, as kurvin, to bow down, &c., from curvare, as fornication from fornix, and probably hence comes our word pumpkin for a silly rude fellow.
said to suck the eggs of other birds, and lay her own to be hatched in their place; from which practice it was usual to alarm a husband at the approach of an adulterer by calling ‘Cuckoo,' which by mistake was in time applied to the husband.”
Pennant, in his Zoology, 1776, i. 234, speaking of the cuckoo, says : “ His note is so uniform, that his name in all languages seems to have been derived from it, and in all other countries it is used in the same reproachful sense :
• The plain song cuckoo grey,
Shakesp. “The reproach seems to arise from this bird making use of the bed or nest of another to deposit its eggs in, leaving the care of its young to a wrong parent; but Juvenal, vi. 275, with more justice, gives the infamy to the bird in whose nest the supposititious eggs were layed :
Tu tibi tunc curruca places.'” Pliny, xviii. 26, tells us that vine-dressers were anciently called cuckoos, i. e. slothful, because they deferred cutting their vines till that bird began to sing, which was later than the right time; so that the same name may have been given to the unhappy persons under consideration, when, through disregard and neglect of their fair partners, they have caused them to go a gadding in search of more diligent and industrious companions. The cuckoo has been long considered as a bird of omen. Gay, in his Shepherd's Week, in the fourth Pastoral, notes the vulgar superstitions on first hearing the bird sing in the season :
“ When first the year, I heard the cuckoo sing,
And call with welcome note the budding spring,
As if upon his comely pate it grew." I Thus described in the Connoisseur, No. 56: “I got up last May morning, and went into the fields to hear the cuckoo, and when I pulled off my left shoe I found a hair in it exactly the same colour with his."
I find the following still more extraordinary in Naturall and Artificiall Conclusions, by Thomas Hill, 1650, cxxvii. : “A very easie and merry conceit to keep off fleas from your beds or chambers. Plinie reporteth that if, when you first hear the cuckow, you mark well where your right foot standeth, and take up of that earth, the fleas will by no means breed, either in your house or chamber, where any of the same earth is thrown or scattered.”
In the north of, and perhaps all over England, it is vulgarly accounted to be an unlucky omen if you have no money in your pocket when you hear the cuckoo for the first time in a season.
Green, the author of a Quip for an Upstart Courtier, 1620, calls a cuckoo the cuckold's quirister : “ It was just at that time when the cuckold's quirister began to bewray April gen. tlemen with his never-changed notes.”
The Morning Post newspaper of May 17th, 1821, says: “ A singular custom prevails in Shropshire at this period of the year, which is peculiar to that county. As soon as the first cuckoo has been heard, all the labouring classes leave work, if in the middle of the day, and the time is devoted to mirth and jollity over what is called the cuckoo ale."
There is a vulgar error in natural history in supposing the substance vulgarly called “cuckoo-spit” to proceed from the exhalation of the earth, from the extravasated juice of plants, or a hardened dew. According to the account of a writer in the Gent. Mag. for July, 1794, p. 602, it really proceeds from a small insect, which incloses itself within it, with an oblong obtuse body, a large head, and small eyes. The animal emits the spume from many parts of the body, undergoes its changes within it, then bursts into a winged state, and flies abroad in search of its mate; it is particularly innoxious ; has four wings, the two external ones of a dusky brown, marked with two white spots.
From the subsequent passage in Green's work just quoted, it should seem that this substance was somehow or other vulgarly considered as emblematical of cuckoldom : « There was loyal lavender, but that was full of cuckow-spittes, to show that women's light thoughts make their husbands heavy heads."
The following passage is in that most rare tract, Plaine