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sometimes liable, endeavored to persuade mankind that long hair was
criminal, in order to reduce the whole to a similarity with themselves.
Amongst these, St. Wulstan eminently distinguished himself. "He rebuked,"
says William of Malmsbury, "the wicked of all ranks with great boldness,
but was _peculiarly_ severe upon those who were proud of their long
hair. When any of these vain people bowed their heads before him, to
receive his blessing, before he gave it he cut a lock from their hair,
with a sharp penknife, which he carried about him for that purpose; and
commanded them, by way of penance for their sins, to cut all the rest in
the same manner: if any of them refused to comply with his command he
reproached them for their effeminacy, and denounced the most dreadful
judgments against them. Such, however, was the value of their hair in
these days, that many rather submitted to his censures than part with
it; and such was the folly of the church, and of this saint in
particular, that the most solemn judgments were denounced against
multitudes, for no other crime than not making use of pen-knives and
scissors, to cut off an ornament bestowed by nature."
ST. VALENTINE'S DAY.
On St. Valentine's day, it is customary, in many parts of Italy, for an
unmarried lady to choose, from among the young gentlemen of her
acquaintance, one to be her guardian or gallant; who, in return for the
honor of this appointment, presents to her some nosegays, or other
trifles, and thereby obliges himself to attend her in the most
obsequious manner in all her parties of pleasure, and to all her public
amusements, for the space of one year, when he may retire, and the lady
may choose another in his place. But in the course of this connection it
frequently happens, that they contract such an inclination to each
other, as prompts them to be coupled for life. In the times of the
chivalry, we have seen that the men gloried in protecting the women, and
the women thought themselves safe and happy when they obtained that
protection. It is probable, therefore, that this custom, though now more
an affair of gallantry than of protection, is a relic of chivalry still
subsisting among that romantic and sentimental people.
But the observation of some peculiar customs on St. Valentine's day is
not confined to Italy; almost all Europe has joined in distinguishing it
by some particular ceremony. As it always happens about that time of the
year, when the genial influences of the spring begin to operate, it has
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