9* s. ix. APRIL 12, im] NOTES AND QUERIES.
and began to cry Walk Knave Walk: Whereupon the Owl thinking it hard Measure, before he was well seen, or at all heard, to be ejected, began to set a good Face of the Business ; and raising his Ruff to shew its Feather, and stretching out its Neck, to exalt its Voice, look'd so frightfully, and made so hideous, loud, and screeching a Noise, that all the Birds were so terrified, that they presently left all their Places, and the poor ParocKete fell out of the Chair in a Swoon, altering its Note from Walk Knave to Poor Pafl, and was taken up in a very sad Condition ; and so all the Debates ended, and the whole Assembly dissolved themselves."
Although Concavum is so printed both in the title and on the first page, I incline to think it a misprint for Conclavum. Allusions are made (p. 26) to Old Nobs and Brisk Hall; (p. 28) to the slapping of pew-doors during tne prayers; (p. 30) to the "Churchwardens Half-pintin the Vestry"; (p. 31) to"Humming in the Church " ; and (p. 55^) to Dick Medler and Harry Monkey-face. Tnere is scarcely a dull page in the tract.
RICHARD H. THORNTON.
" BLOCKHEAD " APPLIED TO A WOMAN. The 'H.E.D.' gives no instance of this. See, however, Boswell's * Life of Johnson ' (Dr. G. Birkbeck Hill's edition), vol. ii. p. 456, where Boswell, after recording that Johnson addressed the very stupid maid who opened the door at Mr. 'Hector's as "blockhead, comments as follows :
" I never heard the word blockhead applied to a woman before, though I do not see why it should not [sic], when there is evident occasion for it." Compare Carlyle's * History of Fried rich II of Prussia,' book xx. chap. x. :
"The reigning C/arina, old Catin herself, is silently the Olympian Jove to Catharine, who reveres her very much. Though articulately stupic as ever, in this Book of Catharine's, she comes oul with a dumb weight, of silence, of obstinacy, o
intricate abrupt rigour, which who knows bui
it may savour of dumb unconscious wisdom in the fat old blockhead?"
The University, Adelaide, South Australia.
WASSAILING THE APPLE-TREE. The follow ing from the Western Morning News of Janu ary may be worth preserving in * N. & Q.' :
"The ancient custom, now fast dying out, o wassailing or toasting the apple-trees, is stil observed in some of the outlying parishes of Nort Devon and Somerset, and probably nowhere wit! more ceremonv and solemnity than at \\oottor Basset, near Minehead. Old Twelfth-eve, Thursda last, twelve days after Old Christmas-eve is th usual day, and in the evening well-nigh all the fol of the parish assemble at the farmhouse, and, afte a good square meal, start in procession for th nearest orchard. A goodly supply of cider is came by the stronger men of the party, 'the butler brings a two-handled mug and some pieces of toas
nd the 'master' walks in front with the light,
whilst a number of men with guns, old muzzle-
oaders, blunderbusses, or anything that will make
noise, form the rearguard. Arrived at the
rchard, the party all form in a ring, joining hands,
nd the master in the middle seizes a branch of the
ree, and more or less out of tune sings the following
apple-tree, I wassail thee,
In nopes that thou wilt blow, To blow and to bear well,
So merry let us be ; For the Lord doth know where we shall be
To be merry another year.
hen all the folks standing round holloa, shout, or ing:
Hatfuls, capfuls, three-bushel bagfuls, Barn floorfuls, tullet holefuls.
And a little heap under the stairs. )eafening cheers are then given, and the men who lave been standing outside say, * Now, Tom Pod, we wassail thee!' and then they let off their Blunderbusses and other weapons. The health of the pple-tree having been solemnly drunk, the master owing off the froth, and the two-handled mug having gone right round the ring, the butler takes , piece of toast, and, pouring cider over it (called basting'), hands it to the master, who sticks it up n the tree for the robins, in the hope that it will >ring luck. The ceremony completed, the pro- cession moves off to the next orchard, and so on until each has been visited and wassailed."
R. BARCLAY-ALLARDICE. Lostwithiel.
[See 7 th S. xi. 103, 217, 337.]
" BY ROTE." To say or learn anything by rote means by memory, without attending to the meaning. What is the etymology of "rote"? The word is generally ex- plained in the dictionaries as a doublet of " route," Fr. route (Lat. rupta) ; so Skeat, Annandale, Webster, Wedgwood, Richard- son. The lexicographers say that this word "rote" is identical in form with Old French rote (modern route). But I think that when we come to look into the matter we shall find that the English word is not identical in form with the French word. The evidence goes to show that the two words differ m the quality of the root vowel, the English word having an open o ( = Latin <5), the trench word a close o (=Latin u). For evidence of the open o in the English "rote" I may cite Chaucer's rime rote : cote ('C.T.,' Prol., 327). Tvndale, Surrey, Shakespeare, Drayton, spell the word " roat " (see Nares, Richardson, and Schmidt). It is, therefore, impossible that our " rote," with an open o, can be a doublet of " route." "Rote" is not derived from a Latin form *rupto, but is a learned form* Latin r6ta< a wheel, which in the Middle Ages was used in the sense of a regular course or order (see Ducange).