Born: Cuthbert, Admiral Lord Collingwood, 1750, Newcastle-on-Tyne.
Died: Pope Clement VII (Giulio de' Medici), 1534; Richard Colley, Marquis Wellesley, statesman, and eldest brother of the Duke of Wellington, 1842, Kingston House, Brompton.
Feast Day: Saints Cyprian and Justina, martyrs, 304. St. Eusebius, pope and confessor, 310. St. Colman Elo, abbot and confessor, 610. St. Nilus the Younger, abbot, 1005.
ST. CYPRIAN THE MAGICIAN
This saint, so surnamed from his having, previous to his conversion, practised the arts of a magician or diviner, has been coupled in the calendar with Justina, a young Syrian lady, regarding whom a young pagan nobleman applied to Cyprian to assist him with his arts in rendering her more favourable to his suit. Justina was a Christian, and opposed, we are told, through the aid of the Virgin, such an effectual resistance to the devices of Cyprian, that the latter was convinced of the weakness of the infernal spirits, and resolved to quit their service. He consulted a priest named Eusebius, who encouraged him in the work of conversion, which he ultimately consummated by burning all his magical books, giving his substance to the poor, and enrol-ling himself among the Christian catechumens. On the breaking out of the persecution under Dioclesian, Cyprian was apprehended and carried before the Roman governor at Tyre. Justina, who had been the original mover in his change of life, was, at the same time, brought before this judge and cruelly scourged, whilst Cyprian was torn with iron hooks. After this the two martyrs were sent to Nicomedia, to the Emperor Dioclesian, who forthwith commanded their heads to be struck off. The history of St. Cyprian and St. Justina was recorded in a Greek poem by the Empress Eudocia, wife of Theodosius the Younger, a work which is now lost.
JAM AND JELLY MAKING
In Galt's Annals of the Parish, in which the Rev. Micah. Balwhidder quaintly chronicles the occurrences of his district from 1760 downwards, the following entry occurs relative to an important epoch in the parochial history:
I should not, in my notations, forget to mark a new luxury that got in among the commonalty at this time. By the opening of new roads, and the traffic thereon with carts and carriers, and by our young men that were sailors going to the Clyde, and sailing to Jamaica and the West Indies, heaps of sugar and coffee-beans were brought home, while many, among the hail-stocks and cabbages in their yards, had planted groset and berry bushes; which two things happening together, the fashion to make jam and jelly, which hitherto had been only known in the kitchens and confectionaries of the gentry, came to be introduced into the clachan [village]. All this, however, was not without a plausible pretext; for it was found that jelly was an excellent medicine for a sore throat, and jam a remedy as good as London candy for a cough or a cold, or a shortness of breath. I could not, how-ever, say that this gave me so much concern as the smuggling trade; only it occasioned a great fasherie to Mrs. Balwhidder; for in the berry-time, there was no end to the borrowing of her brass-pan to make jelly and jam, till Mrs. Toddy of the Cross-Keys bought one, which in its turn came into request, and saved ours.
This manufacture of jam and jelly may now be said to form an undertaking of some importance in every Scottish household, occupying a position in the social scale above the humblest. In South Britain, the process is also extensively carried on, but not with the universality or earnestness of purpose observable in the north. To purchase their preserves at the confectioner's, or to present to their guests sweetmeats, stored in those mendacious pots, which belie so egregiously the expectations entertained of them at first sight, in regard to cubic contents, would in the eyes of the generality of Scottish lathes (those of the old school at least), be held to indicate a sad lack of good housewifeship. Even when the household store was exhausted, as very frequently happens about the months of May or June, we have seen the proposal to remedy the deficiency by purchasing a supply from a shop rejected with scorn.
The jelly-making season may be said to extend over three months-from the beginning of July to the end of September, beginning with strawberries and going out with apples and plums. Great care is exercised in the selection of a dry day for the operation, to insure the proper thickening of the boiled juice. As is well known, this last circumstance constitutes the most critical part of the process; and the obstinate syrup, resolutely refusing to coalesce, not unfrequently tries sadly the patience and temper. In such cases, there is no remedy but to boil the mixture over again with an additional supply of sugar, the grudging of which, by the way, is a fertile cause of the difficulties in getting the juice thoroughly inspissated. We have a vivid recollection of being once in a farmhouse, when the wife of a collier in the neighbourhood, whom the goodwife had endeavoured to initiate in the mysteries of jelly-making, made her appearance with a most woebegone countenance, and dolorous narrative of non-success. 'I can mak naething o' yon thing,' she said with an expression of perfect helplessness; 'it's just stannin' like dub-water!' Whether she was enabled to get this unsatisfactory state of matters remedied, we are unable to say.
Like washing-day, the manufacture of jam and jelly, whilst it lasts, entails a total disregard of the lords of the creation and their requirements, unless, indeed, as not frequently happens, the 'men-folk' of the family are pressed into the service as assistants. A huge pan of fruit and sugar is sometimes a difficult matter to convey to, and place properly on, the fire, and we have seen a great stalwart fellow, now an officer in her Majesty's army, summoned from the parlour to the kitchen, to give his aid in accomplishing this domestic operation. Should a student be spending the recess in the country, during the summer, he is very likely to be pounced on by the ladies of the family to assist them in gathering and sorting the fruit, or snipping, off its noses and stalks with a pair of scissors. Of course, in general, the young man is only too happy to avail himself of so favourable an opportunity for flirtation, where the companions of his toils are young, good-looking, and blessed with a fair share of juvenile spirits.
The Boole of Days is not a cookery-book, and, therefore, any directions or recipes in connection. with jelly-making, would here be wholly out of place. Yet in connection with so familiar a custom of Scottish domestic life, we may allude to the difference of opinion prevalent among those versed in jam-lore, as to the proper time which should be allowed for the syrup remaining on the fire, after having reached the point of ebullition. Some recommend the space of twenty minutes, others half-an-hour, whilst a few, determined that the preserves shall be thoroughly subjected to the action of Vulcan, keep the pan bubbling away for three-quarters or even an entire hour. An esteemed relative of our own always insisted on this last period being allowed, with the result, it must be stated, sometimes of the jam becoming a veritable decoction, in which the original shape of the fruit could scarcely be recognised, whilst the substance itself became, after having cooled, so indurated as to be almost impracticable for any other use than as a lollipop. As her old servant was wont to declare, 'she boiled the very judgment out o't!'
In country places, besides the ordinary fruits of the garden, many of the wild products of the woods and fields are made use of in the manufacture of preserves. The bilberry or blaeberry, the barberry, and above all the bramble, are largely employed for this purpose; while in the High-lands and moorland districts, the cranberry, the whortleberry, and even the harsh and unsavoury berries of the rowan or mountain-ash are made into jam. On the shores of the Argyleshire lochs, where, from their sheltered position, the fuchsia grows with remarkable luxuriance, its berries are sometimes made into a very palatable compote. Bramble-gathering forms a favourite ploy amid the juvenile members of a Scottish family, and we have a very distinct recollection in connection therewith, of wild brakes where the purple fruit grew luxuriantly, amid ferns, hazel-nuts, and wild-raspberry bushes, with the invigorating brightness of a September sun overhead, and the brilliant varieties of a September foliage. Faces stained with livid hues, hands scratched with thorns and briers, and shoes and stockings drenched with ditch-water, are among the reminiscences of, the joyous days of bramble-gathering.
The inconvenient number of applications recorded by Mr. Balwhidder, as having been made to his wife for the use of her brass jelly-pan, is quite consonant with the actual state of matters in a country town in Scotland in former times. These culinary conveniences being rare, the fortunate possessor of one was beset on all sides by her neighbours with requests for it, and if she were good-natured and unselfish, she ran a considerable risk of being entirely excluded herself from participation in its use. Now, however, that these utensils have become an appendage to every kitchen of the least pretension to gentility, such a state of matters has come to be ranked fairly among the legendary reminiscences of the past.
The institution of jelly and jam, as already observed, has experienced a much more extended development in North than South Britain. In the former division of the island, the condiments in question are regarded as an indispensable appendage to every social tea-drinking, and are also invariably brought out on the occasion of any friend dropping in during the afternoon and remaining to partake of tea. To refrain from producing them, and allow the guest to make his evening repast on bread and butter, would be regarded as in the highest degree niggardly and inhospitable. When no stranger is present, these luxuries are rarely indulged in by the family-that is to say, during the week-but an exception always holds in the case of Sunday evening. On that occasion the children of a Scottish household expect to be regaled ad libitum with sweets, and the quantities of jelly then consumed in comparison with the rest of the week might form a curious question for statists.
The Sunday-tea, too, is enjoyed with all the more relish that the previous dinner has been generally rather meagre, to avoid as much as possible the necessity of cooking on the Sabbath, and also somewhat hurried, being partaken of 'between sermons,' as the very short interval between the morning and afternoon services is termed in Scotland. Whatever may be said of the rigour of Sunday observance in the north, our recollections of the evening of that day are of the most pleasant description, and will doubtless be corroborated by the memories of many of our Scottish readers. In England, where the great meal of the day is dinner, tea is, for the most part, but a secondary consideration, and neither jams and jellies, nor condiments of any kind, beyond simple bread and butter, are in general to be seen. A young Englishman, studying at the university of Edinburgh, on one occasion rather astonished the lady of the house where he was drinking tea. He had been pressed to help himself to jelly, and having been only accustomed to its use as an accompaniment of the dessert, he very quietly emptied out on his plate the whole dish, causing considerable wonderment to the other guests at this unaccountable proceeding.