Benjamin Rush, 1745, Philadelphia; Thomas Pringle,
traveler and poet, 1789.
Died: Edward the Confessor, 1066, Westminster;
Catherine de Medicis, Queen of France, 1589; James
Merrick, 1769, Reading; John Howie, author of The
Scots Worthies, 1793; Isaac Reed, commentator on
Shakespeare 1807; Marshal Radetsky, 1858.
Feast Day: St. Simeon Stylites, 459; St.
Telesphorus, seventh bishop of Rome, 128; St.
Syncletica (4th century?), virgin.
ST. SIMEON STYLITES
So named from the Greek word stylos, a pillar, was
the founder of an order of monks, or rather solitary
devotees, called pillar-saints. Of all the forms of
voluntary self-torture practised by the early
Christians this was one of the most extra-ordinary.
Originally a shepherd in Cilicia about the year 408,
when only thirteen years of age, Simeon left his
flocks, and obtained admission into a monastery in
Syria, but afterwards withdrew to a mountain about
thirty or forty miles east from Antioch, where he at
first confined himself within a circle of stones.
Deeming this mode of penance not sufficiently severe,
in the year 423 he fixed his residence on the top of a
pillar, which was at first nine feet high, but was
successively raised to the somewhat incredible height
of sixty feet (forty cubits). The diameter of the top
of the pillar was only three feet, but it was
surrounded by a railing which secured him from falling
off, and afforded him some relief by leaning against
it. His clothing consisted of the skins of beasts, and
he wore an iron collar round his neck. He exhorted the
assembled people twice a day, and spent the rest of
his time in assuming various postures of devotion.
Sometimes he prayed kneeling, sometimes in an erect
attitude with his arms stretched out in the form of a
cross, but his most frequent exercise was that of
bending his meagre body so as to make his head nearly
touch his feet. A spectator once observed him make
more than 1240 such reverential bendings without
resting. In this manner he lived on his pillar more
than thirty years, and there he died. in the year 459.
His remains were removed to Antioch with great
solemnity. His predictions and the miracles ascribed
to him are mentioned at large in Theodoretus, who
gives an account of the lives of thirty celebrated
hermits, ten of whom were his contemporaries,
including St. Simeon Stylites. The pillar-saints were
never numerous, and the propagation of the order was
almost exclusively in the warm climates of the East.
Among the names recorded is that of another Simeon,
styled the younger, who is said to have dwelt sixty
years on his pillar.
EDWARD THE CONFESSOR
Towards the close of 1065, this pious monarch
completed the rebuilding of the Abbey at Westminster,
and at Christmas he caused the newly-built church to
be hallowed in the presence of the nobles assembled
during that solemn festival.
The king's health continued to decline; and early
in the new year, on the 5th of January, he felt that
the hand of death was upon him. As he lay, tradition
says, in the painted chamber of the palace at
Westminster, a little while before he expired, Harold
and his kinsman forced their way into the apartment,
and exhorted the monarch to name a successor, by whom
the realm might be ruled in peace and security.
know full well, my lords,' said Edward, 'that I have
bequeathed my kingdom to the Duke of Normandy, and are
there not those here whose oaths have been given to
secure his succession? 'Harold stepped nearer, and
interrupting the king, he asked of Edward upon whom
the crown should be bestowed. 'Harold! take it, if
such be thy wish; but the gift will be thy ruin.
Against the Duke and his baronage no power of thine
can avail thee!' Harold replied that he did not fear
the Norman or any other enemy. The dying king, wearied
with importunity, turned himself upon his couch, and
faintly intimated that the English nation might name a
king, Harold, or whom they liked; and shortly
afterwards he expired.
In the picturesque language of
Sir Francis Palgrave,
'On the festival of the
Epiphany, the day after the king's decease, his
obsequies were solemnised in the adjoining abbey, then
connected with the royal abode by walls and towers,
the foundations whereof are still existing. Beneath
the lofty windows of the southern transept of the
Abbey, you may see the deep and blackened arches,
fragments of the edifice raised by Edward, supporting
the chaste and florid tracery of a more recent age.
Westward stands the shrine, once rich in gems and
gold, raised to the memory of the Confessor by the
devotion of his successors, despoiled, indeed, of all
its ornaments, neglected, and crumbling to ruin, but
still surmounted by the massy iron-bound oaken coffin
which contains the ashes of the last legitimate
Anglo-Saxon king.' — History of England: Anglo-Saxon
We long possessed many interesting memorials Of the
Confessor in the coronation insignia which he gave to
the Abbey Treasury—including the rich vestments,
golden crown and sceptres, dalmatic, embroidered pall,
and spurs—used at the coronations of our sovereigns,
until the reign of Charles II.
death and funeral of the Confessor are worked in a
compartment of the Bayeux Tapestry, believed to be of the age of the
Conquest. The crucifix and gold chain and ring were
seen in the reign of James II.
The sculpures upon the
frieze of the present shrine represent fourteen scenes
in the life of the Confessor. He was the first of our
sovereigns who touched for the king's-evil; he was
canonized by Pope Alexander about a century after his
death. The use of the Great Seal was first introduced
in his reign: the original is in the British Museum.
He was esteemed the patron-saint of England until
superseded in the 13th century by St. George; he
translation of his relics from the old to his new
shrine at Westminster, in 1263, still finds a place,
on the 13th of October, in the English Calendar: and
more than twenty churches exist, dedicated either to
him or to Edward the king and martyr.
Was author of a book of great popularity in Scotland, entitled the
Scots Worthies, being a homely but
perspicuous and pathetic account of a select number of
persons who suffered for 'the covenanted work of
Reformation' during the reigns of the last Stuarts. Howie was a simple-minded Ayrshire moorland farmer,
dwelling in a lonely cot amongst bogs, in the parish
of Fenwick, a place which his ancestors had possessed
ever since the persecuting time, and which continued
at a recent period to be occupied by his descendants.
His great-grandfather was one of the persecuted
people, and many of the unfortunate brethren had
received shelter in the house when they did not know
where else to lay their head. One friend, Captain Paton, in Meadowhead, when executed at Edinburgh in
1684, handed down his bible from the scaffold to his
wife, and it soon after came into the hands of the
Howies, who still preserve it.
The captain's sword, a flag for the parish of
Fenwick, carried at Bothwell Bridge, a drum believed
to have been used there, and a variety of manuscripts
left by covenanting divines, were all preserved along
with the captain's bible, and rendered the house a
museum of Presbyterian antiquities. People of great
eminence have pilgrimised to Lochgoin to see the home
of John Howie and his collection of curiosities, and
generally have come away acknowledging the singular
interest attaching to both. The simple worth,
primitive manners, and strenuous faith of the elderly
sons and daughters of John Howie, by whom the little
farm was managed, formed a curious study in
themselves. Visitors also fondly lingered in the
little room, constituting the only one besides the
kitchen, which formed at once the parlour and study of
the author of the Worthies; also over a bower in the
little cabbage-garden, where John used to spend
hours—nay, days—in religious exercises, and where, he
tells us, he formally subscribed a covenant with God
on the 10th of June 1785.
A stone in the parish churchyard records the death
of the great-grandfather in 1691, and of the
grandfather in 1755, the latter being ninety years
old, and among the last survivors of those who had
gone through the fire of persecution. John Howie wrote
a memoir of himself, which no doubt contains something
one cannot but smile at, as does his other work also.
Yet there is so much pure-hearted earnestness in the
man's writings, that they cannot be read without a
certain respect. The Howies of Lochgoin may be said to
have formed a monument of the religious feelings and
ways of a long by-past age, protracted into modern
times. We see in them and their cot a specimen of the
world of the century before the last. It is to be
feared that in a few more years both the physical and
the moral features of the place will be entirely
ATTEMPTED ASSASSINATION OF LOUIS XV
On the 5th of January 1757, an attempt was made
upon the life of the worthless French king, Louis XV.,
by Robert Francis Damiens. 'Between five and six in
the evening, the king was getting into his coach at
Versailles to go to the Trianon. A man, who had lurked
about the colonnades for two days, pushed up to the
coach, jostled the dauphin, and stabbed the king under
the right arm with a long knife; but, the king having
two thick coats, the blade did not penetrate deep.
Louis was surprised, but thinking the man had only
pushed against him, said, 'Le coquin m'a donne un
furieux coup de poing,' but putting his hand to his
side, and feeling blood, he said, 'Il m'a blesse;
qu'on le saisisse, et qu'on ne lui fasse point de
mal.' The king being carried to bed, it was quickly
ascertained that the wound was slight and not
Damiens, the criminal, appeared clearly to be mad.
He had been footman to several persons, had fled for a
robbery, had returned to Paris in a dark and restless
state of mind; and by one of those wonderful
contradictions of the human mind, a man aspired to
renown that had descended to theft. Yet in this
dreadful complication of guilt and frenzy, there was
room for compassion. The unfortunate wretch was
sensible of the predominance of his black temperament;
and the very morning of the assassination, asked for a
surgeon to let him blood; and to the last gasp of
being, he persisted that he should not have committed
this crime, if he had been blooded. What the miserable
man suffered is not to be described. When first raised
and carried into the guard-chamber, the Garde-desceaux
and the Duc d'Ayen ordered the tongs to be heated, and
pieces torn from his legs, to make him declare his
accomplices. The industrious art used to preserve his
life was not less than there finement of torture by
which they meant to take it away. The inventions to
form the bed on which he lay (as the wounds on his leg
prevented his standing), that his health might in no
shape be affected, equalled what a reproving tyrant
would have sought to indulge his own luxury.
When carried to the dungeon, Damiens was wrapped
up in mattresses, lest despair might tempt him to dash
his brains out, but his madness was no longer
precipitate. He even amused himself by indicating a
variety of innocent persons as his accomplices; and
sometimes, more harmlessly, by playing the fool with
his judges. In no instance he sank either under terror
or anguish. The very morning on which he was to endure
the question, when told of it, ho said with the
coolest intrepidity, " La journee sera rude" —after
it, insisted on some wine with his water, saying, "I’l faut ici de la force." And at the accomplishment
of his tragedy, studied and prolonged on the precedent
of Ravaillac's, he supported all with unrelaxed
firmness; and even unremitted torture of four hours,
which succeeded to his being two hours and a-half
under the question, forced from him but some momentary
yells.' —Mensoirs of the Reign of King George the
Second, ii., 281.
That, in France, so lately as 1757, such a criminal
should have been publicly torn to pieces by horses,
that many persons of rank should have been present on
the occasion, and that the sufferer allowed 'quelques
plaisanteries' to escape him during the process,
altogether leave us in a strange state of feeling
regarding the affair of Damiens.
Twelfth-day Eve is a rustic festival in England.
Persons engaged in rural employments are, or have
heretofore been accustomed to celebrate it; and the
purpose appears to be to secure a blessing for the
fruits of the earth.
In Herefordshire, at the approach of the evening,
the farmers with their friends and servants meet
together, and about six o'clock walk out to a field
where wheat is growing. In the highest part of the
ground, twelve small fires, and one large one, are
lighted up. The attendants, headed by the master of
the family, pledge the company when in old
cider, which circulates freely on these occasions. A
circle is formed round the large fire, when a general
shout and hallooing takes place, which you hear
answered from all the adjacent villages and fields.
Sometimes fifty or sixty of these fires may be all
seen at once. This being finished, the company return
home, where the good housewife and her maids are
preparing a good supper. A large cake is always
provided, with a hole in the middle. After supper, the
company all attend the bailiff (or head of the oxen)
to the wain-house, where the following particulars are
observed: The master, at the head of his friends,
fills the cup (generally of strong ale), and stands
opposite the first or finest of the oxen. He then
pledges him in a curious toast: the company follow his
example, with all the other oxen, and addressing each
by his name. This being finished, the large cake is
produced, and, with much ceremony, put on the horn of
the first ox, through the hole above mentioned. The ox
is then tickled, to make him toss his head: if he
throw the cake behind, then it is the mistress's
perquisite; if before (in what is termed the boosy),
the bailiff himself claims the prize. The company then
return to the house, the doors of which they find
locked, nor will they be opened till some joyous songs
are sung. On their gaining admittance, a scene of
mirth and jollity ensues, which lasts the greatest
part of the night.' — Gentleman's Magazine, February,
1791. The custom is called in Herefordshire
Wassailing. The fires are de-signed to represent the Saviour and his apostles, and it was customary as to
one of them, held as representing Judas Iscariot, to
allow it to burn a while, and then put it out and kick
about the materials.
At Pauntley, in Gloucestershire, the custom has in
view the prevention of the smut in wheat. 'All the
servants of every farmer assemble in one of the fields
that has been sown with wheat. At the end of twelve
lands, they make twelve fires in a row with straw;
around one of which, made larger than the rest, they
drink a cheerful glass of cider to their master's
health, and success to the future harvest; then
returning home, they feast on cakes made with carraways, soaked in cider, which they claim as a
reward for their past labour in sowing the grain.'
'In the south hams [villages] of Devonshire, on the
eve of the Epiphany, the farmer, attended by his
workmen, with a large pitcher of cider, goes to the
orchard, and there encircling one of the best bearing
trees, they drink the following toast three several
Here's to thee, old apple-tree,
Whence thou mayst bud,
and whence thou mayst blow!
And whence thou mayst bear apples enow!
Hats full! caps full!
And my pockets full too! Huzza!
This done, they return to the house, the doors of
which they are sure to find bolted by the females,
who, be the weather what it may, are inexorable to all
entreaties to open them till some one has guessed at
what is on the spit, which is generally some nice
little thing, difficult to be hit on, and is the
reward of him who first names it. The doors are then
thrown open, and the lucky clod-pole receives the
tit-bit as his recompense. Some are so superstitious
as to believe, that if they neglect this custom, the
trees will bear no apples that year.' — Gentleman's
Magazine, 1791, p. 403.
The history of the pronunciation of the English
language has been little traced. It fully appears that
many words have sustained a considerable change of
pronunciation during the last four hundred years: it
is more particularly marked in the vowel sounds. In
the days of Elizabeth, high personages pronounced
certain words in the same way as the common people now
do in Scotland. For example, the wise Lord Treasurer
Burleigh said whan instead of when, and war instead of
were; witness a sentence of his own: 'At Enfield, fyndying a dozen in a plump, whan there was no rayne,
I bethought myself that they war appointed as
watchmen, for the apprehendyng of such as are missyng,'
&c.—Letter to Sir Francis Walsingham, 1586. (Collier's
Papers to Shakespeare Society.) Sir Thomas
Gresham, writing to his patron in behalf of his wife,
says: 'I humbly beseech your honour to be a stey and
some comfort to her in this my absence.' Finding these
men using such forms, we may allowably suppose that
much also of their colloquial discourse was of the
same homely character.
Lady More, widow of the Lord Chancellor Sir Thomas
More, writing to the Secretary Cromwell in 1535,
beseeched his 'especial gude maistership, out of his
'abundant gudeness' to consider her case. 'So, bretherne, here is my maister,' occurs in Bishop
Lacy's Exeter Pontifical about 1450. These
pronunciations are the broad Scotch of the present
Tway for two, is another old English pronunciation.
'By whom came the inheritance of the lordship of
Burleigh, and other lands, to the value of twai
hundred pounds yearly,' says a contemporary life of
the illustrious Lord Treasurer. Tway also occurs in
Piers Ploughman's Creed in the latter part of
the fourteenth century:
Thereon lay a litel chylde lapped in cloutes,
And tweyne of tweie yeres olde,' &c.
So also an old manuscript poem preserved at
'Dame, he seyde, how schalle we deo,
He fayleth twaye tethe also.'
This is the pronunciation of Tweeddale at the
present day; while in most parts of Scotland they say
twa. Tway is nearer to the German zwei.
A Scotsman, or a North of England man, speaking in
his vernacular, never says 'all: 'he says 'a'.' In the
old English poem of Havelok, the same form is used:
'He shall haven in his hand
A Denemark and Engeland.'
The Scotsman uses onyx for any:
'Aye keep something to yoursel'
Ye scarcely tell to ony.'
This is old English, as witness Caxton the printer
in one of his publishing advertisements issued about
1490: 'If it pies ony man, spirituel or temporel,' &c.
An Englishman in those days would say ane for one,
even in a prayer:
Thus was Thou aye, and evere salle be,
Thre yn ane, and ane yn thre.'
A couplet, by the way, which gives another Scotch
form in sal for shall. He also used among for among,
sang for song, faught for fought,
('They faught with Heraud everilk ane.' Guy of
tald for told, fund for found, Bane for gone, and
awn for own. The last four occur in the curious verse
inscriptions on the frescoes representing scenes in
St. Augustine's life in Carlisle Cathedral, and in
many other places, as a reference to Halliwell's
Dictionary of Archaisms will shew.
In a manuscript form of the making of an abbess, of
probably the fifteenth century, mainteyne for
maintain, sete for seat, and guere for quire, shew the
prevalence at that time in England of pronunciations
still retained in Scotland. (Dugdale's Monasticon, i.
437.) Abstain for abstain, persevered down to the time
of Elizabeth: 'He that will doo this worke shall
absteine from lecherousness and dronkennesse,' &e.
Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft, 1584, where
contein also occurs. The form cook for suck, which
still prevails in Scotland, occurs in Capgrave's
metrical Life of St. Katherine, about 1450.
Ah! Jesa Christ, crown of maidens all,
A maid bare thee, a maid gave thee wok.'
Stree for straw—being very nearly the Scottish
pronunciation—occurs in Sir
of the fourteenth century. Even that peculiarly
vicious northern form of shooter for suitor would
appear, from a punning passage in Shakespeare, to have
formerly prevailed in the south also:
Boyct.—Who is the suitor?
Rosatine.—Well, then, I am the shooter.
Love's Labour Lost
It is to be observed of Shakespeare that he uses
fewer old or northern words than some of his
contemporaries; yet the remark is often made by
Scotsmen, that much of his language, which the
commentators explain for English readers, is to them
intelligible as their vernacular, so that they are in
a condition more readily to appreciate the works of
the bard of Avon than even his own countrymen.
The same remark may be made regarding Spenser, and
especially with respect to his curious poem of' the
Shepherd's Calendar. When he there tells of a ewe,
that 'She mought ne gang on the greene,' he uses
almost exactly the language that would be employed by
a Selkirkshire shepherd, on a like occasion, at
thepresent day. So also when Thenot says: 'Tell me,
good Hobbinol, what gars thee greete ? ' he speaks
pure Scotch. In this poem, Spenser also uses tinny for
two, gait for goat, mickle for much, wark for work,
wae for woe, ken for know, craig for the neck, warr
for worse, hame for home, and teen for sorrow, all of
these being Scottish terms.
From that rich well of old English,
translation of the Bible, we learn that in the
fourteenth century aboon, stood for above ('Gird
abowen with knychtis gyrdill,' 2 Kings iii. 21),
nowther was neither, and breed was bread ('Give to us
this day oure breed,' &c.), all of these being
Scottish pronunciations of the present day.
Wycliffe also uses many words, now obsolete in
England, but still used in Scotland, as oker for
interest, orison for oration, almery, a press or
cupboard, sad for firm or solid, tolbooth, a place to
receive taxes ('He seith a man syttynge in a tolbothe,
Matheu by name,' Malt. ix. 9); loan for a farm ('The
first saide, Y have boucht a toun, and Y have node to
go out and se it,' Luke xiv. 19), scarry for
precipitous, repo for a handful of corn-straw ('Here's
a rip to thy auld baggie.'—Burns. 'Whanne thou repest
corn in the feeld, and forgetist and leeuest a rope,
thou schalt not turn agen to take it,' Deut. xxiv.
19), forleit for left altogether. The last, a term
which every boy in Scotland applies to the forsaking
of a nest by the bird, was used on a remarkable public
occasion to describe the act of James II. in leaving
his country. 'Others,' says Sir George Mackenzie,
'were for declaring that the king had forleited the
The differences of pronunciation which now exist
between the current English and cognate languages
chiefly lie in the vowel sounds. The English have
flattened down the broad A in a vast number of cases,
and played a curious legerdemain with E and I, while
other nations have in these particulars made no
change. It seems to have been a process of refinement,
or what was thought to be such, in accordance with the
advancing conditions of domestic life in a country on
the whole singularly fortunate in all the
circumstances that favour civilization. Whether there
is a real improvement in the case may be doubted; that
it is a deterioration would scarcely be asserted in
any quarter. Even those, however, who take the most
favourable view of it, must regret that the change
should have extended to the pronunciation of Greek and
Latin. To introduce the flat A for the broad one, and
interchange the sounds of E and I, in these ancient
languages, must be pronounced as an utterly
unwarrantable interference with something not our own
to deal with—it is like one author making alterations
in the writings of another, an act which justice and
good taste alike condemn.