APRIL

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APRIL ; the name of a month; either from aperire, to open, because, at this time, the earth seems to be opening ant preparing to enrich us with its gifts; or according to Varro, from Aphrodite, because April is consecrated especially to this goddess.Something similar to April fools1 day, about the origin of which there are different opinions, is said, by Mr. Hammer, to exist in the East Indies, at the time of the Huli feast. This strange custom of April fools' day prevails throughout Europe, and in those parts of America which are inhabited by the descendants of Europeans. One of the explanations of the custom is as follows: In the middle ages, scenes from biblical history were often represented by way of diversion, without any feeling of impropriety. The scene in the life of Jesus, where he is sent from Pilate to Herod, and back again from Herod to Pilate, was represented in April, and may have given occasion to the custom of sending on fruitless errands, and other tricks practised at this season. The phrase of "sending a man from Pilate to Herod" is common in Germany, to signify sending about unnecessarily. The reason of choosing the first of April for the exhibition of this scene was, that the feast of Easter frequently falls in this month, and the events connected with this period of the life of Jesus would naturally afford subjects for the spectacles of the season. The tricks of the first of April may, however, be the remains of some Roman custom derived from the East, and spread over Europe, like so many other customs, by these conqueroi's. In France, the unlucky party who may be fooled is called un poisson or poison (mischief) (PAvrU. In the north of Scotland, he is called a gowk, which signifies, in the Scotch dialect, a cuckoo,One of the best tricks of this description is that of Rabelais, who, being at Marseilles without money, and desirous of going to Paris, filled some phials with brickdust or ashes, labelled them as containing poison for the royal family of France, and put them where he knew they would be discovered. The bait took, and he was conveyed as a traitor to the capital, where the discovery of the jest occasioned universal mirth.A PRIORI ; the opposite of a posteriori. To judge or prove any thing a priori,, means to do it on grounds or reasons preceding actual knowledge, or independent of it. Mathematical proofs, e. g., are a prion. On the contrary, judgments or proofs a posteriori are founded on knowledge before acquired, like the conclusions of natural history, and all experimental science.