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known to bibliographers.

The name of the Compost et Kalendrier des Bergiers is in
some measure known to students of literature, on account of its
similarity with that of Edmund Spenser's pastoral poem. The
Shepherd's Calendar, Beyond the likeness of name, however,,
there is little to connect the rather dreary elegies of the Eliza-
bethan poet with the thoroughly mediaeval compilation printed
nearly a century earlier. The Kalendrier des Bergiers is nothing
more nor less than a popular almanac, and though its title to be
regarded as the earliest of such literary ventures might be dis-
puted,* in the English tongue at least its claim to priority seems
well established. Perhaps no better summary of its contents can
be furnished than that which was given long ago in Warton's
History of English Poetry :

*' This piece," he says, "was calculated for the purposes of a perpetual almanac,,
and seems to have been the universal magazine of every article of salutary and useful
knowledge. It is a medley of verse and prose, and contains amongst many other
curious particulars, the saints of the whole year, the movable feasts, the signs of the
zodiac, the properties of the twelve months, rules for blood-letting, a collection of
proverbs, a S3rstem of ethics, politics, divinity, physiognomy, medicine, astrolojgy, and
geography.*'

In the days when books were rare, and the man who could
read was looked upon as a scholar, it was out of the question for

' In Germany more particularly there were a few publications in the vulgar
tongue very similar to the Calendar of Shepherds in their contents. The earliest I
have seen is one attributed to the <* Meyster Almansor," Augsburg, 1481.



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THE CALENDAR OF THE SHEPHERDS. 3



Fig. I. — Remember Death.



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4 THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW.

all save a very few to accumulate volumes and form a library.
What was likely to be most in favor both among the burghers of
the towns and the husbandmen of the country was a compen-
dium of all knowledge which might be read aloud and expounded
by any chance visitor who happened to be clerk enough to read
it Probably, too, in most households that were a little raised
above the level of the very poor, one or two members could be
found who had sufficient education to spell out the meaning of
easy words, especially now that the invention of printing had
made the task of deciphering the letters less difficult. Under
these circumstances it is easy to understand that the possession of
a single volume was likely to satisfy the literary aspirations of
most families. The great thing was to produce a volume which
would be as representative and comprehensive as possible.

It is this characteristic which makes the Calendar of Shepherds
a truly popular book. As the name implies, it was to the country
folk that it more directly appealed, but its contents were of a
nature to interest all ; and even now it has a fascination for the
modem reader, as a singular revelation of the ideas, the super-
stitions, the science, the art, and above all the deep religious
instincts, which were distinctive of life in the Middle Ages. Two
facts more than anything else show the hold which the book
exercised upon the popular taste. The first of these is the rarity
of the surviving copies, and that in spite of the numerous editions
which we know were issued ; the second is the persistence with
which books of identical or closely analogous contents have con-
tinued to be printed and to find a ready sale, especially in rural
districts, almost to within our own times. To this latter point I
shall have occasion to return later on ; for the present, let me say
a word about the early editions. When Dr. Sommer a few years
since published his elaborately annotated facsimile reprint of the
first English version,' he was under the impression that the French
original first saw the light in 1493. This is a mistake. The beauti-
fully illuminated copy on vellum in the Biblioth^que Nationale
which Dr. Sommer showed to be the work of the printer Guiot
Marchant, although his device had been painted out and replaced

• The Kalender of ShtpherdeSy facsimile reprint, edited by Dr. H. Oskar Sommer
London : Kegan Paul. 1892.



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THE CALENDAR OF THE SHEPHERDS,



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6 THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW.

by Verard's, is not really the earliest edition. The Bibliotheque
Mazarine, as I have recently satisfied myself by a careful inspection
and collation, contains a still earlier edition, also by Guiot Mar-
chant, printed in 149 1. The size is smaller, the contents are less
ample, but it is the same book, illustrated with the same wood-
cuts. So far as is known, this is the only copy in existence of the
first French edition, and even this is very imperfect, for out of
32 leaves, or 64 pages, of which the book probably consisted,
6 leaves, or 12 pages, are certainly missing. The device of the
printer and an elaborately scrolled capital / appear on the title-
page, and with them a description of the contents, which may be
thus translated :

Here is the Calendar of Shepherds, containing three
principal matters. The first is the knowledge which shep-
herds have of the skies, of the signs of the zodiac, of
the stars, of the planets, of their courses, movements and
properties. The second is of feasts, both moveable and
immoveable, of the golden number ; of new moons, and
generally of all that is contained in the science of the
computus. The third is of the almanac, of the four com-
plexions, of governing and dieting oneself according as
the seasons require, in order to live healthily, happily
and long.

Printed for the commodities above mentioned, and
many others, as the table following showeth.

The scheme outlined in this title-page was enlarged in subse-
quent editions. How many these editions were we can but guess.
Of several of those known to us we possess but a single copy, and
it is only reasonable to infer that there were others, of which no
single specimen has yet been found. In the year 1493 two hand-
some editions appeared, both printed by Marchant ; one saw the
light on April i8th, the other on July i8th. Of the former, two
copies survive ; of the latter, the only known specimen is in the
British Museum. Besides the work of the Paris printers, numerous
other impressions, but with inferior woodcuts, were brought out at
Geneva, Lyons, Rouen, and Troyes, all within a period of twenty
or thirty years.



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THE CALENDAR OF THE SHEPHERDS.



Fia 3. — How TO Tell the Time at Night.



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8 THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW.

It was natural that so popular a work should before long find
translators, and accordingly in 1 503 a Scotchman residing in Paris
seems to have been engaged by the famous publisher, Antoine
Verard, to produce an English version of the Compost How far
the translator may have been competent or the reverse we have
little means of judging; for although this English edition duly
appeared and was illustrated by some of the best wood-blocks
then in existence, the dialectical peculiarities of the translator, and
still more the blunders of the French printers, totally unacquainted
with English, have combined to produce a jargon which is almost
unparalleled in the history of typography. The most extraordinary
freak of the compositors was seemingly due to the absence of the
letter K from their founts of French type, the result being that
wherever it occurred they substituted for it the combination /r,
which in their Gothic form, when taken together, bear a distant
resemblance to a K. Here is a specimen of this curious Scotch
translation ; it renders the first paragraph of the French text in
Fig. I, which, the reader will notice, is really in verse, though
printed continuously as prose. The dead man is supposed to say,
as he shoulders his coflin-lid :

Qweyr ar the wepyngs of my deces

Parens, fireyndys at gret plants

Qwych wepyt wyth owt conterpas

Qweyr is the E that above them I have plantyt

It ys good to thynlr of them self qwyl they have heelth

For yt ys foljrshnes to seylr suffrage of others

After the deeth of the qwych had wsayge

To por wey them befor theyr latter day

Qwen after god thayr ys no law above thejrr awn

Even this is rather a favorable representation of the text as
printed, for the letter w, wherever it occurs, is there supplied by
two z/'s side by side. By " the £," the yew tree is no doubt meant,
and thynlr and seylr stand of course for think and seek. Of this
Paris edition of 1503 two copies only are known to survive, and
it is from one of these, which belongs to the Duke of Devonshire,
that Dr. Sommer has reproduced his facsimile reprint.

It is no wonder if, under such circumstances, an entirely new
English version was soon found to be necessary. In 1 506 the



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THE CALENDAR OF THE SHEPHERDS.



Fig. 4. — The DoMiNA-noN of the Signs of the Zodiac.



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lO THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW.

London printer, Richard Pynson, seems to have purchased from
Verard the whole set of blocks which had been used for the Paris
impression, and with their aid he brought out at his own press a
second and much more satis&ctory edition of the Calendar of
Shepherds for the use of his countrymen. In his introduction
Pynson explains how " before tyme this boke was prynted in
Paris in too comipte englysshe, and nat by no englysshe man,
wherefore these bokes that were brought into Englande no man
coude understande." Pynson's own version was not free from
reproach, for he seems to have contented himself with mending
the Scotchman's text, without reference to the original French, but
he has added some interesting verses of his own as a kind of envoi,
A few stanzas may here be quoted, one of which has some bear-
ing upon the question of the pre-Reformation English Bible which
has been a good deal discussed of late by Abbot Gasquet and
others. I modernize the spelling.

Remember clerk^s daily do their diligence,
Into our corrupt speech matters to translate,
Yet between French and English is great difference.
Their language in reading is douce and delicate,
In their mother tongue they be so fortunate
They have the bible and apocalipse of dirinity.
And other noble books that in English may not be.

Wherefore with patience I you all desire,
Beware of the rising of false heresy
Let every perfect faith set your hearts afire,
And the chaff from the com clean out to try
They that believeth amiss be worthy to die,
And he is the greatest fool in the world ywis
That thinketh no man's wit is as good as his.

Thus endeth here the Shepherd's Calendar,

Drawn into English to God*s reverence,

And for profit and pleasure, small clerks to cheer,

Plainly shewed to their intelligence,

Our part is done ; now readers do 3rour diligence,

And remember that Pynson saith to you this,

He that liveth well may not die amiss.

Only one copy of this 1 506 edition is now known to be in ex-
istence. It is in the British Museum, and it is unfortunately far



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THE CALENDAR OF THE SHEPHERDS, II



Fig. 5.— The Barber-Surgeon at Work.



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12 THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW,

from complete. So much has it been injured, that nearly all the
leaves have had to be covered on both sides with transparent
paper, which makes it difficult to photograph. The only wood-
cut I have attempted to reproduce is that representing the sec-
ond part of the Hail Mary, which was here for the first time
printed in England. The other early editions of the English
Shepherd! s Calendar are hardly less scarce. Of Wynkyn de
Worde's edition (1508), only one copy is known ; of Julian Nota-
ry's (15 18), there are said to be three copies, but no one of them
is entire ; of the 1528 Wynkyn de Worde, there are two copies.
Lastly, I have recently found that, at the Mazarine Library in
Paris, there is preserved a copy of a singularly handsome edi-
tion by Pynson, the existence of which was not even suspected.
Probably there were many others of which no trace is left. Of
post-Reformation editions I am not now speaking.

Turning now to the contents of this eminently popular com-
pendium of knowledge, one cannot help being struck by the pre-
dominant part which religion plays in the whole scheme of the
work. Not to speak of the calendar itself, and the apparatus for
the compost (or computus), the book provides not only a complete
manual of religious instruction, but also a body of spiritual coun-
sels and exhortations of the most practical kind. The keynote is
struck from the outset in such terms as these :

Here before time there was a shepherd keeping his
sheep in the fields, which was no clerk, he understood no
manner of scripture nor writing, but only by his natural
wit. He saith that living and dying is all at the will and
pleasure of Almighty God. And he saith that by the
course of nature a man may live three score and twelve
year or more. For every man is XXXVI year old ere
he come to his full strength and virtue. And then he is
at his best, both in wisdom and also in sadness and dis-
cretion. For by XXXVI year, and if so be that he have
not good manners, then it is unlikely that ever he shall
have good manners after, while he live.

Drawing the inference that a man's body will take as long to
wear out as to reach its maturity, the writer concludes that if men



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THE CALENDAR OF THE SHEPHERDS. 1 3

die before the term of three score and twelve years, " it is ofttime
by violence or outrage of themself, but if they live beyond that



.J

X






H

X

NO*



time it is by good govemaunce and good dyet. One desire of this
shepherd/' he goes on, ** was to live long holily and to die well.



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14 THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW.

But this desire of long life was in his soul, which he hoped to
have after his death. For the soul shall never die, whether it be
in bliss or in pain."

As might be expected from such an introduction and from
other words in Pynson's preface, too long to quote, the religious
character of the book, however oddly assorted with an astrology
and mythology smacking strongly of paganism, is the predominant
feature. The series of woodcuts which most readily catch the
eye, the alarming realism of which cannot wholly hide their artistic
qualities, represent the seven deadly sins, as illustrated in the
punishments of the lost. I have not reproduced any of them here,
because they belong more strictly to another work which may
perhaps be noticed in a future article. But the chapter on the
deadly sins is only one item among many. The commandments
of Grod and the commandments of the Church are duly empha-
sized as the foundation of all sound religious teaching. The cut
(here shown in Fig. 2) of Moses giving to the world the tables of
the law, has been reproduced from a copy of Guiot Marchant*s
1 500 edition at the Bodleian. The original is a fine bold engrav-
ing filling the whole width of a folio page, and the rhymed version
of the commandments, Un seid Dieu tu adoreras, etc., as some of
my readers will be aware, is the same which is learnt by French
school children at the present day. Again the Our Father, Hail
Mary, and Creed are all set down with an exposition of their
meaning and some excellent illustrations, while the topics of Con-
fession and especially of death are brought before the reader in a
variety of ways. Thus almost at the close of the volume we
have a picture of a negro trumpeter blowing upon a horn, with
the inscription :

How every man and woman ought to cease of their
sins at the sounding of the dreadable horn.

Ho ! Ho ! you blind folk darkened in the cloud
Of ignorant fumes, thick and mystical.
Take heed of my horn tooting all aloud
With boysterous sounds and blastes boreal,
Giving you warning of the judgment final
The which daily is ready to give sentence
Of perverse people replete with negligence.



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THE CALENDAR OF THE SHEPHERDS. 1 5

Ho ! Ho ! betimes ere that it be too late,
Cease while ye have space and opportunity,
Leave your follies ere death make you checkmate,
Cease your ignorant incredulity,
Chase your thoughts of immundicity.
Cease of your pecunial i>ensement
The which defileth your entendement.



Fig. 7. — An English Rosary Picture.

One cannot entirely congratulate the translator in these and
similar renderings. The version is almost as much French as
English. " Pecunial pensement " means presumably anxiety
about money, and " entendement " is no doubt the equivalent of
understanding. But the religious purpose of the verses is clear



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l6 THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW.

enough, and so is the introduction into such a book, or " Medita-
tions of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, that shepherds and
all other people should think on when they pray." Even in the
" rules for the governance of health ** the religious aspect of the
matter is evidently not far from the writer's thoughts :

** Suffer no surfeits in thy house at night,
Ware [beware) of rare [late) suppers and oi great excess.
Of nodding heads and of candle light.
Of sloth at morrow and slumbering idleness,
Which of all vices is chief pwrtresser [introducer)^
Void [avoid) all drunkenness, liars and lechours.
Of all unthrifty exile the maystresse [profession) ^
That is to say, dice-players and hazarders.*'

The writer is not afraid of detail, and some of his directions
are minute in the extreme. The following will afford a sufficient
specimen :

<< Dine not at morrow [morn) before thy appetite.
Gear air and walking maketh good digestion.
Between meals drink not for no ih>ward delight.
But [unless) thirst or travail give thee occasion.
Over-salt meat doth great oppression
To feeble stomachs when they cannot refrain
From things contrary to their complexion.
Of greedy hands the stomach hath great pain."

It must not be supposed from these extracts that the bulk of
the book is in verse or that it is principally made up of moral
counsels. It is above all things an almanac, and a large amount
of space is taken up with the moon and stars, and the phases of
the heavens ; but often, as already said, with a curious mixture of
astrology and medicine. A woodcut from the second edition of
Wynkyn de Worde (Fig. 3), while it illustrates the inferior execu-
tion of his quarto impression, will also give an idea of the obser-
vations suggested to shepherds by which they may tell the hour
of the night Very curious are the anatomical figures found in
all the editions, or the pictures and descriptions which illustrate
the four complexions and the influence of the planets. I content
myself, however, with reproducing (Fig. 4) the chart of the human
frame as dominated by the twelve signs of the zodiac. This plan
was regarded as specially important for deciding the delicate
question of the time and manner of bleeding, a remedy then of



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THE CALENDAR OF THE SHEPHERDS. 1/

universal application. The kind of directions given are such as
follow :

Aries is good for blood letting when the moon is in it,
save for the part that it dooiineth.



E3

X

H

X

H



a

X

S3

X

Q
Z,

<

s
s

5
Ss

X



o

fi



Taurus is evil for bleeding. Taurus is dry and cold,
nature of the earth, and govemeth the neck and the knot
under the throat, and it is evil for bleeding.



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1 8 THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW.

Or again :

Between the wrist of the foot and the great toe, is a vein
the which is letten blood for divers sicknesses and incon-
veniences, as the pestilence, that taketh a person suddenly
by the great superabundance of humours and the bleed-
ing must be made within a natural day, that is to wit:
Within XXIV hours after that the sickness is taken
of the patient and before the fever come on him, and this
bleeding ought to be done after the corpulence of the
patient.

As an example of a type of illustration, which appears in
almost every book of this class, I reproduce (Fig. 5) a cut from a
German work, which, though not strictly a copy of the Shepherds
Calendar^ is entered under that heading in the Bodleian Catalogue.
In the accompanying text a list is given of lucky days to be bled
on ; whence one learns, for instance, with interest, that the days
most recommended were the feasts of St. Blaise, St. Bartholomew,
St. Martin, etc. ; or that a man over twenty ought to be bled in
the right arm, on the i6th of March, for the sake of his hearing ;
and so on.

Or again we are informed :

A man ought not to make incision nor to touch with
iron the member governed of any sign the day that the
moon is in it, for fear of the great effusion of blood that
might happen, nor in like wise also when the sun is in
it, for the danger and peril that might ensue.

Even here in the more scientific part of the treatise pious ap-
plications are not absent Thus the succession of the months is
treated as a parable of the life of man. For instance :

May is the season that all flowers are spread and be
then in their most virtue with sweet savour, in these six
years he is in his most strength, but then let him gather
the flowers of good manners betimes, for if he tarry past
that age it is an hap if ever he take them ; for he is then
XXX years.

December. Then is man LX and XII years. Then had



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THE CALENDAR OF THE SHEPHERDS. 19

he lever have a warm fire than a fair lady. And after this
age he goeth into decrepitus to wax a child again, and



Fig. 9. — The Calendar for December.

can not wield himself. And the young folk be weary of
their company and without they have much goods, they



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20 THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW.

be full little taken heed of; God wot, and the more pity,
for age should be worshipped in the honour of the Father
of Heaven and for His sake cherished.

The really popular character of the Shepherd's Calendar^ as
was said above, is made clear from many circumstances. Any
one who will look into the history of the almanacs published
both in England and on the Continent, during the last three cen-
turies, will see how the astrological and miscellaneous features of
the Shepherds Calendar have been perpetuated. There have
been also some avowed imitations, as in particular the Kalendrier
des Bergiercs (the Calendar of Shepherdesses), a very similar
work, of which two editions were published in Paris before the
end of the fifteenth century. But perhaps the most remarkable
testimony to the popularity of the book, and to the influence it
must have exerted upon whole generations of readers, is the per-
sistence of its distinctively Catholic lineaments in England long
after Catholicism as a system had been completely swept away.*
I hardly think I should exaggerate if I described this as one of
the most remarkable phenomena in the history of religious litera-
ture. For any one who knows something of the feeling in Eng-
land during the Commonwealth, or the Stuart period which
preceded, the fact that such papistical books were openly pub-
lished and sold will appear almost incredible. Of course there
had been some expurgation and modification of the book at the
beginning of the Elizabethan period, but after that it appears to
have been left unchanged, exhibiting its popery under disguises
that were almost ludicrous in their transparency. Take, for in-
stance, such an example as the following, which survives in the
very latest known edition of the Shepherds Calendar, that of
1656;

Here demandeth the Master Shepherd in how many
things the Christian man ought to follow Jesus Christ,
for to accomplish the promise of Baptism. The simple
shepherd answereth : I say in six things. The first is clean-

* Of seventeenth century editions we know for certain of copies printed in 1604,
161 1, 16 1 8, 1 63 1, and 1656. There were probably other editions which have com-
pletely perished.



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THE CALENDAR OF THE SHEPHERDS. 21



Fig. io. — A Survival of Catholicism, 1656.



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22 THE ECCLESIASTICAL REVIEW,

ness of conscience, for there is nothing more pleasing to
God than a clean conscience, and it will be made clean
in two manners — one is by Baptism, when we receive it ;
and the other is by patience^ that is contrition of heart,
confession of mouth, satisfaction of work. And then when



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