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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/313

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The Cow-Mass.

Both these subjects have been represented in works of art, but the former occurs much the more frequently.

"To the Editor of the Sporting Magazine.

"Sir,—The Cow-Mass, a show at Dunkirk, scarce exceeded by any in the known world, being continued till lately, may not be unamusing to your readers. It was first instituted by Charles V to amuse the turbulent and seditious inhabitants of that place.

"This very extraordinary show is on St. John's Day, the 24th of June. The morning is ushered in by the merry peals of the corillons (or bell-pulling). The streets are very early lined with soldiers; and by eight o'clock every house-top and window is filled with spectators, at least forty thousand, exclusive of inhabitants; and about ten o'clock, after High-Mass at the great church, the show begins by the townsmen being classed according to the different trades, walking two-and-two, each holding a burning wax candle, at least a yard long, and each dressed, not in their best apparel, but in the oldest and oddest fashion of their ancestors. After the several companies comes a pageant, containing an emblematical representation of its trade, and this pageant is followed by patron saints, most of which are of solid silver adorned with jewels. Bands of music, vocal and instrumental, attend the companies, the choruses of which are very solemn; then followed the friars and regular clergy, two-and-two, in the habits of their different Orders, slow in their motion, and with the appearance of solemn piety. Then came the abbot in a most magnificent dress, richly adorned with silver and gold, his train supported by two men in the dress of cardinals; the host was borne before him by an old white-bearded man of a most venerable aspect, surrounded by a great number of boys in white surplices, who strewed frankincense and myrrh under his feet, and four men supported a large canopy of wrought silver over his head, while four others sustained a large silver lanthorn, with a light in it, at the end of a pole. They then proceeded to the bottom of the street, where there was elevated a grand altar, ascended by a flight of steps, and there the procession stopped,