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The Calendar - Primitive Almanacs

It was a custom in ancient Rome, one which came down from a very early period, to proclaim the first of the month, and affix a notice of its occurrence on a public place, that the people might be apprised of the religious festivals in which they would have to bear a part. From the Greek verb καλω, I call or proclaim, this first of the month came to be styled the Kalendae or Kalends, and Rasa Calendares became a name for the placard. Subsequently, by a very natural process of ideas, a book for accounts referring to days was called Calendarium, a calendar; and from this we have derived our word, applicable to an exposition of time arrangements generally.

At Pompeii there has been found an ancient calendar, cut upon a square block of marble, upon each side of which three months are registered in perpendicular columns, each headed by the proper sign of the zodiac. The information given is astronomical, agricultural, and religious. —Lib. Ent. KKnowl.—Pompeii, vol. ii. pp. 287-8.

'The calendar, strictly speaking, refers to time in general almanac to only that portion of time which is comprehended in the annual revolution of the earth round the sun, and marking, by previous computation, numerous particulars of general interest and utility; religious feasts public holidays; the days of the week, corresponding with those of the month; the increasing and decreasing length of the day; the variations between true and solar time; tables of the tides the sun's passage through the zodiac; eclipses; conjunctions and other motions of the planets, &c., all calculated for that portion of duration comprehended within the year. . . The calendar denotes the settled and national mode of registering the course of time by the sun's progress an almanac is a subsidiary manual formed out of that instrument. . . The etymology of the word almanac has been, perhaps, the subject of more dispute than that of any term admitted into our language. With the single exception of Verstegan, all our lexicographers derive the first syllable al from the article definite of the Arabic, which signifies the; but the roots of the remaining syllables are variously accounted for, some taking it from the Greek μανακσl, a lunary circle; others from the Hebrew manach., to count; Johnson derives it from the Greek μήν a month; but why the first syllable should be in one language, which these authorities agree in, and the two last in any other language, it is not easy to comprehend. Whether, therefore, the Saxons originally took their term from the Arabic, either wholly or in part, Verstegan seems the most to be relied on. " They," he says, alluding to our ancient Saxon ancestors, " used to engrave upon certaine squared sticks, about a foot in length, or shorter, or longer as they pleased, the courses of the moones of the whole yeere, whereby they could always certainly tell when the new moones, full moones, and changes should happen, as also their festival daies; and such a carved stick they called an al-coon-aght; that is to say, al-mon-heed, to wit, the regard or observation of all the moones; and hence is derived the name of almanac." An instrument of this kind, of a very ancient date, is to be seen in St. John's College at Cambridge, and there are still in the midland counties several remains of them.'
                                                        —Brady. Analysis of the Calendar

The Clog Almanac

The simple-minded, yet for his time intelligent and inquiring Dr Robert Plot, in his Natural Ipistoru of Staffordshire (folio, 1686), gives an account of what he calls the Clog Almanac, which he found in popular use in that and other northern counties, but unknown further south, and which, from its being also used in Denmark, he conceived to

have come into England with our Danish invaders and settlers many centuries before. The clog bore the same relation to a printed almanac which the Exchequer tallies bore to a set of account books. It is a square stick of box, or any other hard wood, about eight inches long, fitted to be hung up in the family parlor for common reference, but sometimes carried as part of a walking-cane. Properly it was a perpetual almanac, designed mainly to shew the Sundays and other fixed holidays of the year, each person being content, for use of the instrument, to observe on what day the year actually began, as compared with that represented on the clog; so that, if they were various, a brief mental calculation of addition or subtraction was sufficient to enable him to attain what he desired to know.

The entire series of days constituting the year was represented by notches running along the angles of the square block, each side and angle thus presenting three months; the first day of a month was marked by a notch having a patulous stroke turned up from it, and each Sunday was distinguished d by a notch, somewhat broader than usual. There were indications but they are not easily described—for the Golden Number and the cycle of the moon. The feasts were denoted by symbols resembling hieroglyphics, in a manner which will be best understood by examples. Thus, a peculiarly shaped emblem referred to the Circumcisio Domini on the 1st of January.

From the notch on the 13th of that month proceeded a cross, as indicative of the Eiscopal rank of St. Hilary; from that on the 25th, an axe for St. Paul, such being the instrument of his martyrdom. Against St. Valentine's Day was a true lover's knot, and against St. David's Day (March 1st), a harp, because the Welsh saint was accustomed on that instrument to praise God. The notch for the 2nd of March (St. Ceadda's Day) ended in a bough, indicating the hermit's life which Ceadda led in the woods near Lichfield. The 1st of May had a similar object with reference to the popular fete of bringing home the May. A rake on St. Barnaby's Day (11th June) denoted hay harvest. St. John the Baptist having been beheaded with a sword, his day (June 24th) was graced with that implement. St. Lawrence had his gridiron on the 10th of August, St. Catherine her wheel on the 25th of the same month, and St. Andrew his peculiar cross on the last of November.

The 23rd of November (St. Clenient's Day) was marked with a pot, in reference to the custom of going about that night bogging drink to make merry with. For the Purification, Annunciation, and all other feasts of the Virgin, there was a heart, though 'what it should import, relating to Mary, unless because upon the shepherds' relation of their vision, Mary is said o have kept all these things and pondered them. in her heart, I cannot imagine,' says our author. For Christmas there was a born, 'the ancient vessel in which the Danes used to wassail or drink healths, signifying to us that this is the time we ought to make merry, cornua, exhaurienda notans, as Wormius will have it.' The learned writer adds; 'The marks for the greater feasts observed in the church have a large point set in the middle of them, and another over against the preceding day, if vigils or fasts were observed boffin them.'

Written and Printed Almanacs

The history of written almanacs has not been traced further hack than the second century of the Christian era. All that is known is, that the Greeks of Alexandria, in or soon after the time of Ptolemy (100-150 A.D.), constructed almanacs; and the evidence for this fact is an account of Theon the commentator on Ptolemy, in a manuscript found by Delambre at Paris, in which the method of arranging them is explained, and the materials necessary for them pointed out. The Greek astronomers were not astrologers. That pretended science appears to have been introduced into Europe from the East, where it has prevailed from time immemorial. Lalande, an assiduous inquirer after early astronomical works, has stated that the most ancient almanacs of which he could find any express mention were those of Solomon Jarchus, published about 1150.

Petrus do Dacia, about the year 1300, published an almanac, of which there is a manuscript copy in the Savilian Library at Oxford. In this almanac the influence of the planets is thus stated;

‘Jupiter atque Venus boni, Saturnusque maligns;
Sol et Mercurius cum Luna sunt mediocres.'

The ‘homo signorum' (man of the signs), so common in later almanacs, is conjectured to have had its origin from Peter of Dacia.

During the middle ages, Oxford was the seat of British science, mixed as that science occasionally was with astrology, alchemy, and other kinds of false learning; and from Oxford the standard almanacs emanated; for instance, that of John Somers, written in 1380, of Nicolas do Lynna, published in 1386, and others.

An almanac for 1386 was printed as a literary curiosity in 1812. It is a small book, and is thus introduced:

'Almanac for the Year 1386. Transcribed verbatim from the Original Antique Illuminated Manuscript in the Blade Letter; omitting only the Monthly Calendars and some Tables. Containing many Curious Particulars illustrative of the Astronomy, Astrology, Chronology, History, Religious Tenets, and Theory and Practice of Medicine of the Age. Printed for the Proprietor by C. Slower, Hackney, 1812. The Manuscript to be disposed of. Apply to the printer. Entered at Stationers' Hall.' The contents are-1. The Houses of the Planets and their Properties; 2. The Exposition of the Signs; 3. Chronicle of Events from the Birth of Cain; 4. To find the Prime Numbers; 5. Short Notes on Medicine; 6. On Blood-letting; 7. A Description of the Table of Signs and Movable Feasts; 8. Quantitates Diei Artificialis. Of the information given under the head, ‘Exposycion of the Synes,' the following extract may serve as a specimen; 'Aquarius es a sync in the whilk the son es in Jan', and in that moneth are 7 plyos [pluviose] dayes, the 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 15, 19, and if thoner is heard in that moneth, it betokens grete wynde, mykel fruite, and batch Aquarius is hote, moyste, sanguyne, and of that ayre it es gode to byg castellis, or hour, or to wed.' The clumsy method of expressing numbers of more than two figures, shows that the Arabic notation had been but recently introduced, and was then imperfectly understood; for instance, 52mcc20 is put for 52,220.

Almanacs in manuscript of the fifteenth century are not uncommon. In the library at Lambeth Palace there is one dated 1460, at the end of which is a table of eclipses from 1460 to 1481. There is a very beautiful calendar in the library of the University of Cambridge, with the date of 1482.

The first almanac printed in Europe was probably the Kalendarium Novum, by Regiomontanus, calculated for the three years 1475, 1494, and 1513. It was published at Buda, in Hungary. Though it simply contained the eclipses and the places of the planets for the respective years, it was sold, it is said, for ten crowns of gold, and the whole impression was soon disposed of in Hungary, Germany, Italy, France, and England.

The first almanac known to have been printed in England was the Sheapheards Kalendar, translated from the French, and printed by Richard Pynson in 1497. It contains a large quantity of extraneous matter. As to the general influence of the celestial bodies, the reader is informed that

Saturne is hyest and coldest, being full old,
And Mars with his Muddy swerde ever ready to kyll.
Sol and Luna is half good and half ill.'

Each month introduces itself with a description in verse. January may be given as an example:

'Called I am Jannyero the colde.
In Christmas season good fyre I love.
Yonge Jesu, that sometime Judas solde,
In me was circumcised for man's behove.
Three kinges sought the sonne of God above;
They kneeled downe, and dyd him homage, with love
To God their Lorde that is mans own brother.'

Another very early printed almanac, of unusually small size, was exhibited to the Society of Antiquaries on the 16th of June 1842. Dr. Bliss brought it with him from Oxford. It had been found by a friend of Dr. Bliss at Edinburgh, in an old chest, and had been transmitted to him as a present to the Bodleian. Library. Its dimensions were 2.5 inches by 2 inches, and it consisted of fifteen leaves. The title in black letter, was Almanacke for XII. Yere. On the third leaf, 'Lately corrected and emprynted in the Fletestrete by Wynkyn de Worde. In the yore of the reyne of our most redoubted sovereyne Lordo Ringo Henry the VII.'

Almanacs became common on the continent before the end of the fifteenth century, but were not in general use in England till about the middle of the sixteenth. Skillful mathematicians were employed in constructing the astronomical part of the almanacs, but the astrologers supplied the supposed planetary influences and the predictions as to the weather and other interesting matters, which were required to render them attractive to the popular mind. The title-pages of two or throe of these early almanacs will sufficiently indicate the nature of their contents.

A Prognossicacion and an Almanack fastened together, declaring the Dispocission of the People and also of the Wet her, with certain Electyons and Tymes chosen both for Phisike and Surgerye, and for the husbandman. And also for Hawekyng, Huntynq, Fishynq, and Foulynge, according to the Science of Astronomy, made for the Yeare of our Lord God M.D.L., Calculed for the Merydyan of Yorke, and practiced by Anthony Askham. At the end, ‘Imprynted at London, in Flete Strete, at the Signe of the George, next to Saint Dunstan's Church, by Wyllyam Powell, cum privilegio ad imprimendum dim.' Then follows the Prognostication, the title-page to which. is as follows:

A Prognossicacion for the Yere of our Lord MCCCCCL, Calculed upon the Merydyan of the Towne of Anwarpe and the Country thereabout, by Master Peter of Moorbeeke, Doctour in Physicke of the same Towne, whereunto is added the Judgment of M. Cornelius Schute, Doetour in Physicke of the Towne of Bruges in Flanders, upon and concerning the Disposicion, Estate, and Condicion of certaine Prynces, Centreys, and Regions, for the present Yere, gathered oute of his Prognossicacion for the same Yere. Translated oute of Duch into Englyshe by William Harrys. At the end, 'Imprynted at London by John Daye, dwellyne over Aldersgate, and Wyllyam Seres, dwellyne in Peter Colledge. These Bokes are to be sold at the Newe Shop by the Lytle Conduyte in Chepesyde.'

‘An Almanacke and Prognosticatyon for the Yeare of our Lorde MDLI., practysed by Simon Henringius and Lodowyke Boyard, Doctors in Physike and Astronomye, &c. At Worcester in the Hygb. Strete.'

'A Newe Almanacke and Prognostication, Collected for the Yere of our Lord MDLVIII., wherein is expressed the Change and Full of the Moone, with their Quarters. The Varietie of the lyre, and also of the Windes throughout the whole Yere, with Infortunate Times to Bie and Sell, take Medicine, Sowe, Plant, and Journey, &c. Made for the Meridian of Norwich and Pole Arcticke LII. Degrees, and serving for all England. By William Kenningham, Physician. Imprynted at London by John Daye, dwelling over Alders-gate.'

Leonard Digges, a mathematician of some eminence, and the author of two or three practical treatises on geometry and mensuration, was also the author of a Prognostication, which was several times reprinted under his own superintendence, and that of his son, Thomas Digges.' It is not properly an almanac, but a sort of companion to the almanac, a collection of astrological materials, to be used by almanac-makers, or by the public generally. It is entitled 'A Prognostication everlasting of Right Good Elect, fructfully augmented by the Author, containing Plaine, Briefe, Pleasant, Chosen Rules to judge the Weather by the Sunne, Moon, Starres, Comets, Rainbow, Thunder, Clowdes, with other Extraordinary Tokens, not omitting the Aspects of Planets, with a Briefe Judgement ,for ever, of Plentie, Lacke, Sicknes, Dearth, Warres, &c., opening also many naturall causes worthie to be hnowne. To these and other now at the last are joined divers generall pleasant tables, with many compendious rules, easie to be had in memorie, maneifolde wages profitable to all men of understanding. Published by Leonard Digges. Lately Corrected and Augmented by Thomas Digges, his sonne. London, 1605.'

The first edition was published in 1553; the second edition, in 1555, was 'fructfully augmented,' and was 'imprynted at London within the Macke Fryars.' In his preface he thus discourses concerning the influence of the stars (the spelling modernised): 'What meteoroscoper, yea, who, learned in matters astronomical, noteth the great effects at the rising of the star called the Little Dog? Truly, the consent of the most learned do agree of his force. Yea, Pliny, in his History of Nature, affirms the seas to be then most fierce, wines to flow in cellars, standing waters to move, dogs inclined to madness. Further, these constellations rising—Orion, Arcturus, Corona—provoke tempestuous weather; the Kid and Goat, winds; Hyades, rain. What meteorologer consenteth not to the great alteration and mutation of air at the conjunction, opposition, or quadrant aspect of Saturn with either two lights? Who is ignorant, though poorly skilled in astronomy, that Jupiter, with Mercury or with the sun, enforces rage of winds? What is he that perceives not the fearful thunders, lightnings, and rains at the meeting of Mars and Venus, or Jupiter and Mars ? Desist, for shame, to oppugn these judgments so strongly authorised. All truth, all experience, a multitude of infallible grounded rules, are against him.'

In France, a decree of Henry III, in 1579, forbade all makers of almanacs to prophesy, directly or indirectly, concerning affairs either of the state or of individuals. No such law was ever enacted in England. On the contrary, James I, allowing the liberty of prophesying to continue as before, granted a monopoly of the publication of almanacs to the two Universities and the Company of Stationers. The Universities, however, accepted an annuity from their colleagues, and relinquished any active exercise of their privilege. Under the patronage of the Stationers' Company, astrology continued to flourish.

Almanac-making, before this time, had become a profession, the members of which generally styled themselves Philomaths, by which they probably meant that they were fond of mathematical science; and the astrologers had formed themselves into a company, who had an annual dinner, which Ashmole, in his Diary, mentions having attended during several successive years. The Stationers' Company were not absolutely exclusive in their preference for astrological almanacs. Whilst they furnished an ample supply for the credulous, they were willing also to sell what would suit the taste of the skeptical; for Allstree's Almanac in 1624 calls the supposed influence of the planets and stars on the human body 'heathenish,' and dissuades from astrology in the following doggrel lines;

'Let every philomathy
Leave lying astrology;
And write true astronomy,
And I'll bear you company.'

Thomas Decker, at a somewhat earlier period, evidently intending to ridicule the predictions of the almanac-makers, published The Raven's Almanacke, foretelling of a Plague, Famine, and Civill Warr, that shall happen this present yere, 1609. With certain Remedies, Rules and Receipts, &c. It is dedicated ' To the Lyons of the Wood, to the Wilde Buckes of the Forrest, to the Harts of the Field, and to the whole country that are brought up wisely to prove Guls, and are born rich to dye Beggars.' By the Lyons, Buckes, and Harts, are meant the courtiers and gallants, or fast young men' of the time.

There was perhaps no period in which the prophetic almanacs were more eagerly purchased than during the civil wars of Charles I and the parliament. The notorious William Lilly was one of the most influential of the astrologers and almanac-makers at that time, and in his autobiography not only exhibits a picture of himself little creditable to him, but furnishes portraits of several other almanac-makers of the seventeenth century, Dr Dee, Dr Forman, Booker, Winder, Kelly, Evans, &c. The character of

Sidrophel in Iludibras has been supposed to represent Lilly, but probably Butler merely meant to hold up to ridicule and scorn the class of persons of whom Lilly may be regarded as a type. He was evidently a crafty, time-serving knave, who made a good living out of the credulity of his countrymen. He was consulted as an astrologer about the affairs of the king, but afterwards, in 1645, when the royal cause began to decline, he became one of the parliamentary party. He was born in 1602, was educated at the grammar-school of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, came to London when he was about eighteen years of age, and spent the latter part of his life at Horsham, near Waltonon-Thames, where he died in 1681.

In the chapter of his autobiography, Of the Manner how I came to London, he states that he was engaged as a servant in the house of Mr Gilbert Wright, who could neither read nor write, lived upon his annual rents, and was of no calling or profession. He states; 'My work was to go before my master to church; to attend my master when he went abroad; to make clean his shoes; sweep the street; help to drive bucks when he washed; fetch water in a tub from the Thames (I have helped to carry eighteen tubs of water in one morning); weed the garden. All manner of drudgeries I performed, scraped trenchers,' &c ....' In 1644, I published Merlins Anrylicus Junior about April. In that year I published Prophetical Merlin, and had eight pounds for the copy.' Alluding to the comet which appeared in 1677, Lilly says; 'All comets signify wars, terrors, and strange events in the world.' He gives a curious explanation of the prophetic nature of these bodies; ' The spirits, well knowing what accidents shall come to pass, do form a star or comet, and give it what figure or shape they please, and cause its motion through the air, that people might behold it, and thence draw a signification of its events.' Further, a cornet appearing in the sign Taurus portends 'mortality to the greater part of cattle, as horses, oxen, cows, &c.,' and also 'prodigious shipwrecks, damage in fisheries, monstrous floods, and destruction of fruit by caterpillars and other vermine.' Lilly, in his autobiography, appears on one occasion to have acted in one of the meanest of capacities. There is no doubt that he was employed as a spy; but the chief source of income to Lilly, and to most of the other astrologers, was probably what was called casting nativities, and foretelling, or rather foreshadowing, the future events of the lives of individuals; in fact, fortune-telling.

It has been mentioned before that the Stationers' Company had no objection to supply an almanac to the skeptics and scofters who treated the celestial science with ridicule and contempt. Such an almanac was 'Poor Robin, 1664: an Almanack after a New Fashion, wherein the Reader may see (if he be not blinde) many Remarkable Things worthy of Observation, containing a two-fold Kalender—viz., the Julian or English, and the Rozindheads or Fanatics, with their several Saints' Daies, and Observations upon every Month. Written by Poor Robin, Knight of the Burnt Island, a well-wisher to the Mathematics; calculated for the Meridian of Saffron Walden, where the Pole is elevated 52 degrees and 6 minutes above the Horizon. Printed for the Company of Stationers.'

Poor Robin has four lines of verse at the head of each of the odd pages of the Calendar. For instance, under January, we have:

'Now blustering Boreas sends out of his quiyer
Arrows of snow and hail, which makes men shiver;
And though we hate sects and their vile partakers,
Yet those who want fires must now turn Quakers.'

As a specimen of his humour in prose, under January we are told that 'there will be much frost and cold weather in Greenland.' Under February, 'We may expect some showers of rain this month, or the next, or the next after that, or else we shall have a very dry spring.'  Poor Robin first appeared in 1663. Robert Herrick, the poet, is said to have assisted in the compilation of the early numbers. It was not discontinued till 1828. The humour of the whole series was generally coarse, with little of originality, and a great deal of indecency.

In 1664, John Evelyn published his Kalendarium Hortense, the first Gardener's Almanac, containing directions for the employment of each month. This was dedicated to the poet Cowley, who acknowledged the compliment in one of his best pieces, entitled ' The Garden.' It was perhaps in this almanac that there appeared a sage counsel, to which Sir Walter Scott somewhere alludes, as being presented in an almanac of Charles II's time—namely, that every man ought for his health's sake to take a country walk of a mile, every morning before breakfast—'arid, if possible, let it be upon your own ground.'

The next almanac-maker to whom the attention of the public was particularly directed was John Partridge, chiefly in consequence of' Swift's pre-tended prophecy of his death. Partridge was born in 1644, and died in 1714. He was brought up to the trade of a shoemaker, which he practiced in Covent Garden in 1680; but having acquired some knowledge of Latin, astronomy, and astrology, he at length published an almanac. Swift began his humorous attacks by Predictions for the Year 1708, wherein the Mouth and the Day of the Month are set down, the Persons named, and the Great Actions and Events of Next Year particularly related as they will come to pass. Written to prevent the People of England from being further imposed upon by the Vulgar Almanac-makers.

 After discussing with much gravity the subject of almanac-making, and censuring the almanac-makers for their methods of proceeding, lie continues as follows: 'But now it is time to proceed to my predictions, which I have begun to calculate from the time the sun enters Aries, and this I take to be properly the beginning of the natural year. I pursue them to the time when he enters Libra, or somewhat more, which is the busy time of the year; the remainder I have not yet adjusted,' &c. . . . ' My first prediction is but a trifle, yet I will mention it to show how ignorant those Sottish pretenders to astronomy are in their own concerns. It relates to Partridge the almanac-maker. I have consulted the star of his nativity by my own rules, and find he will infallibly die on the 29th of March next, about eleven at night, of a raging fever; therefore, I advise him to consider of it, and settle his affairs in time.' Partridge, after the 29th of March, publicly denied that he had died, which increased the fun, and the game was kept up in The Tatler. Swift wrote An Elegy on the Supposed Death, of Partridge, the Almanac-maker, followed by


Here, five foot deep, lies on his back
A cobbler, starmonger, and quack,
Who to the stars, in pure good-will,
Does to his best look upward still.
Weep, all ye customers, that use
His pills, his almanacs, or shoes;
And you that did your fortunes seek,
Step to his grave but once a week.
This earth, which bears his body's print,
You'll find has so much virtue in't,
That I durst pawn my ears 'twill tell
Whate'er concerns you full as well
In physic, stolen goods, or love,
As he himself could when above.'

Partridge, having studied physic as well as astrology, in 1682 styled himself 'Physician to his Majesty,' and was one of the sworn physicians of the court, but never attended nor received any salary. His real epitaph, and a list of some of his works, are printed by Granger in his Biographical History. Partridge wrote a life of his contemporary almanac-maker, John Cadbury.

The Vox Stellarune of Francis Moore was the most successful of the predicting almanacs. There has been much doubt as to whether Francis Moore was a real person, or only a pseudonym. A communication to Notes and Queries, vol. iii. p. 466, states that 'Francis Moore, physician, was one of the many quack doctors who duped the credulous in the latter period of the seventeenth century. He practised in Westminster.' In all probability, then, as in our own time, the publication of an almanac was to act as an advertisement of his healing powers, &c. Cookson, Salmon, Cadbury, Andrews, Tanner, Coley, Partridge, &c., were all predecessors, and were students in physic and astrology. Moore's Almanac appears to be a perfect copy of Tanner's, which appeared in 1656, forty-two years prior to the appearance of Moore's. The portrait in Knight's London is certainly imaginary. There is a genuine and certainly very characteristic portrait, now of considerable rarity, representing him as a fat-faced man, in a wig and large neckcloth, inscribed "Francis Moore, born in Bridgenorth, in the county of Salop, the 29th of January 1656-7.

John Drapentier, delim et scalp." Moore appears to have been succeeded as compiler of the Almanac by Mr. Henry Andrews, who was born in 1744, and died at Royston, Herts, in 1820. "Andrews was astronomical calculator to the Board of Longitude, and for many years corresponded with Maskelyne.and other eminent men." '—Notes and Queries, vol. iv. p. 74. Mr. Robert Cole, in a subsequent communication to Notes and Queries, vol. iv. p. 162, states that he had purchased from Mr. William Henry Andrews of Royston, son of Henry Andrews, the whole of the father's manuscripts, consisting of astronomical and astrological calculations, with a mass of very curious letters from persons desirous of having their nativities cast. Mr W. H. Andrews, in a letter addressed to Mr Cole, says; 'My father's calculations, &c., for Moone's Almanac continued during a period of forty-three years, and although, through his great talent and management, ho in-creased the sale of that work from 100,000 to 500,000, yet, strange to say, all he received for his services was £25 per annum.'

The Ladies' Diary, one of the most respectable of the English almanacs of the eighteenth century, was commenced in 1704. Disclaiming astrology, prognostications, and quackery, the editor undertook to introduce the fair sex to the study of mathematics as a source of entertainment as well as instruction. Success was hardly to have been expected from such a speculation; but, by presenting mathematical questions as versified enigmas, with the answers in a similar form, by giving receipts for cookery and preserving, biographies of celebrated women, and other 'entertaining particulars peculiarly adapted for the use and diversion of the fair sex,' the success of the work was secured; so that, though the Gentleman's Diary was brought out in 1741 as a rival publication, the ladies' Diary continued to circulate independently till 1841, when it was incorporated with the Gentleman's Diary. The projector and first editor of the Ladies' Diary, was John Tipper, a schoolmaster at Coventry.

In 1733, Benjamin Franklin published in the city of Philadelphia the first number of his almanac under the fictitious name of Richard Saunders. It was commonly called Poor Richard's Almanac, and was continued by Franklin about twenty-five years. It contained the usual astronomical information, 'besides many - pleasant and witty verses, jests, and sayings.' Tie little spaces that occurred between the remarkable days of the calendar he filled with proverbial sentences inculcating industry and frugality. In 1757, he made a selection from these proverbial sentences, which he formed into a connected discourse, and prefixed to the almanac, as the address of a prudent old man to the people attending an auction. This discourse was afterwards published as a small tract, under the title of The Way to Wealth, and had an immense circulation in America and England. At the sale of the In-graham Library, in Philadelphia, an original Poor Richard's Almanac sold for fifty-two dollars.

In 1775, the legal monopoly of the Stationers' Company was destroyed by a decision of the Court of Common Pleas, in the case of Thomas Carnan, a bookseller, who had invaded their exclusive right. Lord North, in 1779, brought in a bill to renew and legalize the Company's privilege, but, after an able argument by Erskine in favor of the public, the minister's bill was rejected. The defeated monopolists, however, still kept possession of the trade, by bribing their competitors, and by their influence over the bookmark et. In 1828, The British Almanac of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge was published, and in the course of a few years the astrological portions disappeared from the other almanacs. Several new ones, containing valuable information, have since been presented to the public. But the measure which led to the improvement and great increase of almanacs, was the entire repeal of the stamp-duties thereon, by 3 and 4 Will. IV. c. 37, 13th August 1834. hitherto, the stamp-duty upon each. Moore's Almanac was 15d.

In a letter from Robert Heath, of Upnor Castle, date about 1753, the sheet almanac of the Stationers' Company is stated to sell '175,000, and they give three guineas for the copy; Moore's sells 75,000, and they give five guineas for the copy; the Lady sods above 30,000, and they give ten guineas, the most copy-money of any other. The Gentleman's copy is three guineas, sells 7000. Here are a fine company to write for.' In 1751, he describes White, who computes an ephemeris for the Stationers' Company, as living at Grantham, in Lincolnshire.

The Stationers' Company present annually to the Archbishop of Canterbury copies of their almanacs, which custom originated as follows; When Tenison was archbishop, a near relation of his, who was master of the Stationers' Company, thought it a compliment to call at Lambeth Palace in the Company's stately barge, on the morning of Lord Mayor's Day, when the arch-bishop sent out a pint of wine for each liveryman, with bread and cheese and hot-spiced ale for the watermen and attendants; and this grow into a settled custom; the Stationers' Company acknowledging the hospitality by presenting to the archbishop a copy of the several almanacs which they publish. The wine was served in small two-handled wooden bowls, or small cups, which were provided yearly by the Company. But since the abolition of the procession by water on Lord Mayor's Day, this custom has been discontinued.

Southey, in the Doctor, relates the following legal anecdote, to exemplify how necessary it is upon any important occasion to scrutinize the accuracy of a statement before it is taken on trust. A follow was tried at the Old Bailey for highway robbery, and the prosecutor swore positively to him, saying he had seen his face distinctly, for it was a bright moonlight night. The counsel for the prisoner cross-questioned the man so as to make him repeat that assertion, and insist upon it. He then affirmed that this was a most important circumstance, and a most fortunate one for the prisoner at the bar; because the night on which the alleged robbery was said to have been committed was one in which there had been no moon; it was then during the dark quarter ! In proof of this he handed an almanac to the bench, and the prisoner was acquitted accordingly. The prosecutor, however, had stated everything truly; and it was known afterwards that the almanac with which the counsel came provided, had been prepared and printed for the occasion.

The same writer remembers when a country-man had walked to the nearest large town, thirty miles distant, for the express purpose of seeing an almanac, the first that had been heard of in those parts. His inquiring neighbors crowded round the man on his return. ' Well, well,' said he, 'I know not; it mules and talks. But all I could make out is, that Collop Monday falls on a Tuesday next year.'


There is a father with twice six sons; these sons have thirty daughters a piece, party-coloured, having one cheek white and the other black, who never see each other's face, nor live above twenty-four hours.


Among those who have contributed to the advancement of learning, many have risen to eminence in opposition to all the obstacles which external circumstances could place in their way, amidst the tumults of business, the distresses of poverty, or the dissipation of a wandering and unsettled state. A great part of the life of Erasmus was one continued peregrination; ill supplied with the gifts of fortune, and led from city to city, and from kingdom to kingdom, by the hopes of patrons and preferment—hopes which always flattered and always deceived lull — he yet found means, by unshaken constancy and a vigilant improvement of those hours which, in the midst of the most restless activity, will remain unengaged, to write more than another in the same condition could have hoped to read. Compelled by want to attendance and solicitation, and so much versed in common life that he has transmitted to us the most perfect delineation of the manners of his age, he joined to his know-ledge of the world such application to books, that he will stand for ever in the first rank of literary heroes. Now, this proficiency he sufficiently discovers by informing us that the Praise of Folly, one of his most celebrated performances, was composed by him on the road to Italy, lest the hours which he was obliged to spend on horseback should be tattled away, with-out regard to literature.--Johnson.

The Chancellor D'Aguesseau, finding that his wife always kept him waiting a quarter of an hour after the dinner-bell had rung, resolved to devote the time to writing a book on jurisprudence, and, putting the project in execution, in course of time produced a work in four quarto volumes.

Many persons thoughtlessly waste their own time simultaneously with that of others. Lord Sandwich, when he presided at the Board of Admiralty, paid no attention to any memorial that extended beyond a single page. 'If any man,' he said, 'will draw up his case, and will put his name to the bottom of the first page, I will give him an immediate reply; where he compels me to turn over the page, he must wait my pleasure.'