Born: William Congreve, poet and dramatist (baptized), 1670,
Bardsey; Aaron Hill, poet, 1685, Strand;
Hoadly, 1706, Broad-street, London; James Smith, comic poet, 1775, London; Rev.
Dr Henry H. Milman, historian, 1791, London.
Died: Sir William Dugdale, historian and antiquary, 1686,
Shustoke; Isaac Vossius, scholar, of Leyden, 1689, Windsor; Thomas Chubb,
Wiltshire divine, 1747,
Salisbury; Montesquieu, French jurist, 1755, Paris; Dr. James Nares, musical
composer, 1783, Westminster; Samuel Prout, painter in water-colours, 1852.
Feast Day: St. Soteris, virgin-martyr, 4th
century. St. Scholastics, virgin, 543. St. Erlulph, of Scotland, bishop, martyr
at Verdun, 830. St.
William of Maleval, 1157.
LENT - ASH WEDNESDAY
It is an ancient custom of the Christian church to hold as a period
of fasting and solemnity the forty days preceding Easter, in commemoration of
abstinence of Jesus when under temptation. From leaglen-tide, a Saxon term for
spring (as being the time of the lengthening of the day), came the familiar word
period�LENT. Originally, the period began on what is now the first Sunday in
Lent; but, it being found that, when Sundays, as improper for fasting, were
omitted, there remained
only thirty-six days, the period was made by Pope Gregory to commence four days
earlier namely, on what has since been called Ash Wednesday. This name was
derived from the
notable ceremony of the day in the Romish church. It being thought proper to
remind the faithful, at commencement of the great penitential season, that they
were but dust and
ashes, the priests took a quantity of ashes, blessed them, and sprinkled them
with holy water.
The worshipper then approaching in sack-cloth, the priest took up
some of the ashes on the end of his fingers, and made with them the mark of the
cross on the
worshipper's forehead, saying, Memento, hemo, quia cinis es, et in pulverem
reverleris (Remember, man, that you are of ashes, and into dust will
return). The ashes used were
commonly made of the palms consecrated on the Palm Sunday of the previous year.
In England, soon after the Reformation, the use of ashes was discontinued, as 'a
vain show,' and Ash
Wednesday thence became only a day of marked solemnity, with a memorial of its
original character in a reading of the curses denounced against impenitent
The popular observances on Ash Wednesday are not of much account.
The cocks being now dispatched, a thin scare-crow-like figure or puppet was set
up, and shied at
with sticks, in imitation of one of the sports of the preceding day. The figure
was called a Jake-a-lent, a term which is often met with in old literature, as
expressive of a small
and insignificant person. Beaumont and Fletcher, in one of their plays, make a
If I forfeit,
Make me a Jack o' Lent and break my shins
For untamed points and counters.'
Boys used to go about clacking at doors, to get eggs or bits of
bacon wherewith to make up a feast among themselves; and when refused, would
stop the keyhole with
dirt, and depart with a rhymed denunciation. In some parts of Germany, the young
men gathered the girls into a cart, and drove them into a river or pool, and
there 'washed them
favouredly,'�a process which shews that abstinence from merriment was not there
held as one of the proprieties of the day.
'Among the ancient customs of this country which have sunk into
disuse, was a singularly absurd one, continued even to so late a period as the
reign of George
I. During the Lenten season, an officer denominated the 'King's Cock Crones'
crowed the hour each night, within the precincts of the Palace, instead of
proclaiming it in the
ordinary manner of watchmen.' On the first Ash, Wednesday after the accession
of the House of Hanover, as the Prince of Wales, afterwards George II, sat
down to supper, this
officer abruptly entered the apartment, and according to accustomed usage,
proclaimed in a sound resembling the shrill pipe of a cock, that it was
"past ten o'clock." Taken by
surprise, and imperfectly acquainted with the English language, the astonished
prince naturally mistook the tremulation of the assumed crow, as some mockery
intended to insult
him, and instantly rose to resent the affront: nor was it without difficulty
that the interpreter explained the nature of the custom, and satisfied him,
that a compliment was
designed, according to the court etiquette of the time. From that period we
find no further account of the exertion of the imitative powers of this
important officer: but the
court has been left to the voice of reason and conscience, to remind them of
their errors, and not to that of the cock, whose clarion called back Peter to
repentance, which this
fantastical and silly ceremony was meant to typify.'�Brady
ISAAC VOSSIUS: A STRANGE
This eccentric Dutch scholar, a son of Gerard Vossius, a still more
learned man, died on the 10th of February, 1688-9, in Windsor Castle,
II had assigned him apartments fifteen years previously, when he came to England
from Holland, and the king made him a canon of Windsor. Never did a man
undertake the clerical
office who was more unfit for it. Although a canon of Windsor, he did not
believe in the divine origin of the Christian religion, and he treated religious
matters with contempt,
although in all other things he was exceedingly credulous. Charles, on one
occasion, said, 'This learned divine is a strange man: he will believe anything
except the Bible.'
When he attended divine service in the chapel at Windsor, it is
said that he used to read Ovid's Are Amandi instead of the prayer-book.
He knew all the
European languages, without being able to speak one of them correctly. He was
familiar with the manners and customs of the ancients, but profoundly ignorant
of the world and the
affairs of ordinary life. On his death-bed he refused the sacrament, and was
only prevailed upon to take it by the remark of one of his colleagues, that if
he would not do it for
the love of God, he ought to do it for the honour of the chapter to which he
Vossius took an odd delight in having his hair combed in a measured
or rhythmical manner. He would have it done by barbers or other persons skilled
in the rules
of prosody. A Latin treatise on rhythm, published by him at Oxford in 1673,
contains this curious passage: 'Many people take delight in the rubbing of their
limbs, and the combing
of their hair: but these exercises would delight much more, if the servants at
the baths, and of the barbers, were so skilful in this art, that they could
express any measure with
their fingers. I remember that more than once I have fallen into the hands of
men of this sort, who could imitate any measure of songs in combing the hair: so
as sometimes to
express very intelligibly iambics, trochees, dactyles, &c., from whence
there arose to me no small delight.'
RIOT AT OXFORD
ON St. SCHOLASTICA'S DAY
On the 10th of February 1354, in the reign of Edward
III, a dire conflict took place between the students of the University of Oxford
and the citizens.
The contest continued three days. On the second evening, the townsmen called
into their assistance the country people: and thus reinforced, completely
overpowered the scholars, of
whom numbers were killed and wounded. The citizens were, consequently, debarred
the rites and consolations of the church: their privileges were greatly
narrowed: they were heavily
fined: and an annual penance for ever was enjoined that on each anniversary of
St. Scholastica, the mayor and sixty-two citizens attend at St. Mary's Church,
where the Litany
should be read at the altar, and an oblation of one penny made by each man.
HISTORY OF THE UMBRELLA
The designation of this useful contrivance (from umbra, shade)
indicates the earliest of its twofold uses. Johnson describes it as 'a screen
used in hot countries
to keep off the sun, and in others to bear off the rain: 'and Kersey, many years
before (1708), had described it as 'a kind of broad fan or screen, commonly used
by women to
shelter them from rain; also, a wooden frame, covered with cloth, to keep off
the sun from a window.' Phillips, in his New World of Words, edit. 1720,
describes the umbrella
as 'now commonly used by women to shelter them from rain.'
As a shade from the sun, the umbrella is of great antiquity. We see
it in the sculptures and paintings of Egypt, and Sir Gardner
Wilkinson has engraved a delineation of an Ethiopian princess, travelling
in her chariot through Upper Egypt to Thebes, wherein the car is furnished with
a kind of umbrella
fixed to a tall staff rising from the centre, and in its arrangement closely
resembling the chaise umbrella of the present time. The recent discoveries at
Nineveh show that the
umbrella (or parasol) 'was generally carried over the king in time of peace, and
even in war. In shape,' says Layard, 'it resembled very closely those now in
common use, but it is
always seen open in the sculptures. It was edged with tassels, and was usually
adorned at the top by a flower or some other ornament. On the later basreliefs,
a long piece of linen
or silk, falling from one side, Elio a curtain, appears to screen the king
completely from the sun. The parasol was reserved exclusively for the monarch,
and is never represented
as borne over any other person. On several bas-reliefs from Persepolis, the king
is represented under an umbrella, which a female slave holds over his head.'
From the very limited use of the parasol in Asia and Africa, it
seems to have passed, both as a distinction and a luxury, into Greece and Rome.
The Skiadeion, or
day-shade of the Greeks, was carried over the head of the effigy of Bacchus: and
the daughters of the aliens at Athens were required to bear parasols over the
heads of the maidens
of the city at the great festival of the Panathenea. We see also the parasol
figured in the hands of a princess on the Hamilton vases in the British Museum.
At Rome, when the veil
could not be spread over the roof of the theatre, it was the custom for females
and effeminate men to defend themselves from the sun with the umbrella or
umbraculum of the period:
and this covering appears to have been formed of skin or leather, capable of
being raised or lowered, as circumstances might require.
Although the use of the umbrella was thus early introduced into
Italy, and had probably been continued there as a vestige of ancient Roman
manners, yet so late as
1608, Thomas Coryat notices the invention in such
terms as to indicate that it was not commonly known in his own country. After
describing the fans of
the Italians, he adds:
'Many of them do carry other fine things, of a far greater price,
that will cost at least a ducat (5s. 6d.), which they commonly call, in the
umbrellaes: that is, things that minister shadow unto them, for shelter
against the scorching heat of the sun. These are made of leather, something
answerable to the form of a
little canopy, and hooped in the inside with divers little wooden hoopes, that
extend the umbrella into a pretty large compasse.
They are used especially by horsemen, who carry them in their
hands when they ride, fastening the end of the handle upon one of their
thighs; and they impart so
long a shadow unto them, that it keepeth the heate of the sun from the upper
part of their bodies."
It is probable that a similar contrivance existed, at the same
period, in Spain and Portugal, whence it was taken to the New World. Defoe, it
will be remembered,
makes Robinson Crusoe describe that he had seen umbrellas employed in the
Brazils, and that he had constructed his own umbrella in imitation of them. 'I
covered it with skins,' he
adds, 'the hair outwards, so that it cast off the rain like a penthouse, and
kept of the sun so effectually, that I could walk out in the hottest of the
weather with greater
advantage than I could before in the coolest.' In commemoration of this
ingenious production, one species of the old heavy umbrellas was called 'The
The umbrella was used in England as a luxurious sun-shade early in
the seventeenth century. Ben Jenson mentions it by name
in a comedy
produced in 1616: and it occurs in Beaumont and Fletcher's Rule a Wife and Hare
a Wife, where Altea says:
'Are you at ease.? Now is your heart at rest?
Now you have got a shadow, an umbrella,
To keep the scorching world's opinion
From your fair credit.'
In those days, as we may infer from a passage in Drayton, the
umbrella was composed exteriorly of feathers, in imitation of the plumage of
Afterwards, oiled silk was the ordinary material. In the reign of Queen Anne,
the umbrella appears to have been in common use in London as a screen from rain,
but only for the
weaker sex.. Swift in the Tatler, October 17, 1710, says, in 'The City
The tuck'd up seamstress walks with hasty strides,
While streams run down her oiled umbrella's sides.'
speaks of it in his Trivia; or, the
Art of Walking the Streets of
'Good housewives all the winter's rage despise,
Defended by the riding-hood's disguise:
Or underneath th' umbrella's oily shed,
Safe through the wet on clinking pattens tread.
Let Persian dames th' umbrella's ribs display,
To guard their beauties from the sunny ray:
Or sweating slaves support the shady load,
When Eastern monarchs shew their state abroad:
Britain in winter only knows its aid,
To guard from chilly showers the walking maid.'
This passage, which points to the use of the umbrella exclusively
by women, is confirmed by another passage in the Trivia, wherein the surtout is
men to keep out 'the drenching shower:
'By various names, in various countries known,
Yet held in all the true surtout alone,
Be thine of korsey firm, though small the cost;
Then brave unwet the rain, unchill'd the frost.'
At Woburn Abbey is a full-length portrait of the beautiful Duchess
of Bedford, painted about 1730, representing the lady as attended by a black
servant, who holds
an open umbrella to shade her. Of about the same period is the sketch engraved
on the next page, being the vignette to a song of Aaron Hill's, entitled. The
Generous Repulse, and
set to a tolerable air by Carey:
'Thy vain pursuit, fond youth, give o'er.
What more, alas! can Flavia do?
Thy worth I own, thy fate deplore,
All are not happy that are true.
'But if revenge can ease thy pain,
I'll soothe the ills I cannot cure,
Tell thee I drag a hopeless chain,
And all that I inflict endure.'
Flavia, as will be observed, administers this poorish consolation,
seated on a flowery bank, and keeping off the sunshine with a long-stalked
umbrella, or what we
should now call a parasol, while the 'fond youth' reclines hare-headed by her
The eighteenth century was half elapsed before the umbrella had
even begun to be used in England by both sexes, as we now see it used. In 1752,
(afterwards General) Wolfe, writing from Paris, says:
'The people here use umbrellas in hot weather to defend them from
the sun, and something of the same kind to save them from the snow and rain. I
practice so useful is not introduced in England.'
Just about that time, a gentleman did exercise the moral courage to
use an umbrella in the streets of London. He was the noted Jonas Hanway,
newly returned from Persia, and in delicate health, by which, of course, his
using such a convenience was justified both to himself and the considerate part
of the public. 'A
parapluie,' we are told, 'defended Mr. Hanway's face and wig.' For a time, no
others than the dainty beings then called Macaronies ventured to carry an
umbrella. Any one doing so
was sure to be hailed by the mob as 'a mincing Frenchman.' One John Macdonald, a footman, who has favoured the
public with his memoirs, found as late
as 1770, that, on appearing with a fine silk umbrella which he had brought from
Spain, he was saluted with the cry of 'Frenchman, why don't you get a coach?' It
as if there had previously been a kind of transition period, during which an
umbrella was kept at a coffee-house, liable to be used by gentlemen on special
occasions by night,
though still regarded as the resource of effeminacy.
In the Female Tatler of December 12, 1709, there occurs the
'The young gentleman belonging to the Custom House, who, in the
fear of rain, borrowed the umbrella at Will's coffee-house, in Cornhill, of
the mistress, is
hereby advertised that to be dry from head to foot on the like occasion, he
shall be welcome to the maid's pattens.'
It is a rather early fact in the history of the general use of
umbrellas, that in 1758, when Dr.
placed in the pillory, a servant
stood beside him with an umbrella to protect him from the weather, physical and
moral, which. was
raging around him.
Much of the clamour which was raised against the general use of the
umbrella originated with the chairmen and hackney-coachmen, who, of course,
regarded rainy weather as a thing especially designed for their advantage, and
from which the public were entitled to no other protection than what their
vehicles could afford.
In all the large towns of the empire, a memory is preserved of the
courageous citizen who first carried an umbrella. In Edinburgh, it was a popular
named Spens. In the Statistical Account of Glasgow, by Dr. Cleland, it is
related that, about the year 1781, or 1782, the late Mr. John Jameson,
surgeon, brought with him an umbrella, on his return from Paris, which was the
first seen in the city, and attracted universal attention. This umbrella was
made of heavy wax-cloth,
with cane ribs, and was a ponderous article. Cowper mentions the umbrella twice
in his Task, published in 1784.
The early specimens of the English umbrella made of oiled silk,
were, when wet, exceed
ingly difficult to open or to close: the stick and
furniture were heavy and inconvenient, and the article generally very expensive:
though an umbrella manufacturer in Cheapside, in 1787, advertised pocket and
superior to any kind ever imported or manufactured in this kingdom: and 'all
kinds of common umbrellas prepared in a particular way, that will never stick
substitution of silk and gingham for the oiled silk, however, remedied the above
The umbrella was originally formed and carried in a fashion the
reverse of what now obtains. It had a ring at top, by which it was usually
carried on the finger
when furled (and by which also it could be hung up within doors), the wooden
handle terminating in a rounded point to rest on the ground. The writer
remembers umbrellas of this
kind being in use among old ladies so lately as 1810. About thirty years ago,
there was living in Taunton, a lady who recollected when there were but two
umbrellas in that town:
one belonged to a clergyman, who, on proceeding to his duties on Sunday, hung up
the umbrella in the church porch, where it attracted the gaze and admiration of
coming to church.
ANECDOTE PRESERVED BY
The laboriously industrious antiquary, Sir William Dugdale, to whom
we owe a large proportion of what has been preserved of the ecclesiastical
England, died at the ripe age of eighty-six. His son, Sir John Dugdale,
preserved from his conversation some brief anecdotes, and among the rest a merry
tale regarding the Scotch
covenanting minister, Patrick Gillespie. This esteemed leader having fallen into
a grievous sin, the whole of his party felt extremely scandalised, and 'nothing
less would serve
them than to hold a solemn convention, for seeking the Lord (as their term was)
to know of him wherefore he allowed this holy brother to fall under the power of
Satan, That a
speedy solution might he given them, each of them by turn vigorously wrestled
with God, till (as they pretended) he had solved their question: viz.: that this
fall of their
preacher was not for any fault of his own, but for the sins of his parish laid
upon him. Whereupon the convention gave judgment that the parish should be fined
satisfaction, as was accordingly done.'�Life of Dugdale, 4to, 1827, p. 60, note.