The Perennial Calendar, by FORSTER, Thomas Ignatius (1789-1860).

FORSTER, Thomas Ignatius (1789-1860).

The Perennial Calendar, and Companion to the Almanack; Illustrating the Events of Every Day in the Year, as Connected with History, Chronology, Botany, Natural History, Asronomy, Popular Customs, & Antiquities,with Useful Rules of Health, Observations on the Weather; Explanations of the Fasts and Festivals of the Church. And Other Miscellaneous Useful Information. Compiled from Scientific Authorities as Well as From the Manuscripts of Several Distinguished Persons, and Revised and Edited by T. Forster. London, Harding, Mavor and Lepard, 1824.

First Edition. 8vo (212 x 120), pp. xxvii, [i], 803, [1], in contemporary half calf over marbled boards, rebacked, black spine lettered in gilt.

An entertaining compilation by the astronomer, physician and philosopher, fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and friend of Shelley and Herschel, also a vegetarian and early animal rights activist who founded the Animals’ Friend Society. This eccentric work, part prayer book, part self-help inspirational manual, offers a plentiful array of information for daily use, from feast days to poetry to advice on the weather. So, today, 9th June, marks the feast days of Saints Primus and Felicianus, Saint Columba, Saint Pelagia, Saint Vincent and Saint Richard Bishop and Confessor. ‘The feast of Vesta, recorded today, was the beginning of the Vetalia, festivals in honour of Vesta, observed at Rome on the 9th of June. Banquets were then prepared before the houses, and meat was sent to the Vestals to be offered to the gods, millstones were decked with garlands, and the Asses that turned them were led round the city covered with garlands. The ladies walked in the procession barefooted to the temple of the goddess’. In the Flora section we learn that the Corn Flag or Sword Lily Gladiolus now beings to flower and continues throughout the month, the Rosa Provincialis ‘in numberless beautiful varieties, now decorate our gardens... the smell of the Rose has been said to compete with that of the Pink Dianthus deltoides for beauty of fragrance. They form an agreeable interchange of odours, and the alternately smelling the one and the other is particularly agreeable’. In Fauna, the bat is seen to be giving way to the cuckoo: ‘the Song of the Cuckoo is always agreeable, because it puts one in mind of Spring; but it is particularly soft and pleasant of an evening.
When the Sun is in the West,
Sinking slow behind the trees,
And the Cuckoo, welcome guest,
Softly wooes the evening breeze’.

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