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September 27th

Born: Louis XIII of France, 1601, Fontainebleau; Jacques Bonigne Bossuet, eminent preacher and controversialist, 1627, Dijon.

Died: Marco Girolamo Vida, author of Latin poems, &c., 1566, Alba; St. Vincent de Paul, eminent philanthropist, 1660; Pope Innocent XII, 1700; Dr. Thomas Burnet, author of the Sacred Theory of the Earth, 1715, Charterhouse, London; Admiral Rene Duguay-Trouin, French naval commander, 1736, Paris; James Brindley, celebrated engineer, 1772, Turnhurst, Staffordshire.

Feast Day: Saints Cosmas and Damian, martyrs, about 303. St. Elzear, Count of Arian, and his wife, St. Delphina, 14th century.

ROBERT, DUKE OF NORMANDY

By the battle of Tinchebrai, fought this day in 1106, was decided the destiny of the dukedom of Normandy, and of its unfortunate ruler Robert, the eldest son of William the Conqueror.

Carried away by the impetuosity of his character, and deceived by evil counsellors, Robert brought trouble into his dominions, and discord into the house of his father, who forgave him only on his dying bed. Leaving to his brother William the care of his Norman subjects, he yielded to the religious and chivalric spirit of the times, and with the choicest of the nobility set out to show his valour on the plains of Syria, where he was one of the chiefs of the first Crusade.

We can only praise the courage and military exploits of Duke Robert in the east; they were so extraordinary as to obtain him the offer of the crown of Jerusalem, which, on his refusal, was given to Godfrey of Bouillon. A few flags which he had taken from the enemy, were all he brought back from his victories, and these he presented to, the Abbey of the Holy Trinity at Caen. During his absence, his brother Henry had seized on the vacant throne of England, and, though deep in debt, Robert was led into further expenses in the vain hope of recovering his lost inheritance. After this, reconciliation between the brothers became impossible, and want of order and economy were the ruin of Robert. He had recourse to arbitrary taxes, not only imposed upon the provinces, but upon the citizens, merchants, and rich people, thus causing general discontent. Numerous and powerful factions were formed; Henry I was only too ready to obey their call, and arrived in Normandy at the head of his army. His gold bought many partizans; the towns of Bayeux and Caen alone remained faithful to Duke Robert; and after a long siege the first was carried by assault and burned, whilst a conspiracy broke out in Caen, scarcely leaving the unfortunate duke time to escape. A few gallant chevaliers, faithful to their oaths and the principles of legitimacy, rallied round him ; but the battle of Tinchebrai was gained by the king, and the duke was taken prisoner.

Become master of his brother, Henry imprisoned him in the castle of Cardiff. For greater security, the eyes of the unhappy duke were put out. His detention lasted from 1106 to 1135, when he died, and it was during this long period that he endeavoured to soothe his weariness by becoming a poet. The songs of the Welsh bards were tried to alleviate his sorrows, and the deep distress he felt at being separated from his only child, whose prospects he had blighted. Forced to learn the language of his jailers, he made use of it to compose several pieces in Welsh, one of which remains, a sort of plaintive elegy. The prince looked on an old oak-tree rising above the forest, which covered the promontory of Penarth, on the Bristol Channel, and from the depths of his prison he thus mournfully addresses it, following the custom of the Welsh bards, who repeat the name of the person or thing they address in each stanza:

Oak, born on these heights, theatre of carnage, where
   blood has rolled in streams:
Misery to those who quarrel about words over wine.

Oak, nourished in the midst of meadows covered with
   blood and corpses:
Misery to the man who has become an object of hatred.

Oak, grown up on this green carpet, watered with the
   blood of those whose heart was pierced by the sword:
Misery to him who delights in discord.

Oak, in the midst of the trefoil and plants which
   whilst surrounding thee have stopped thy growth
   and hindered the thickening of thy trunk:
Misery to the man who is in the power of his enemies.

Oak, placed in the midst of woods which cover the
   promontory from whence thou see'st the waves
   of the Severn struggle against the sea:
Misery to him who sees that which is not death.

Oak, which has lived through storms and tempests
   in the midst of the tumult of war and the ravages of death:
Misery to the man who is not old enough to die.

He died at Cardiff, in 1135, in his eightieth year.

EXPENSE OF A DECENT LODGING IN LONDON IN 1710

Swift thus writes from London to his friend Stella, 27th September 1710: 'I lodge in Bury Street [St James's], where I removed a week ago. I have the first floor, a dining-room, and bed-chamber, at eight shillings per week; plaguy deep, but I spend nothing for eating, never go to a tavern, and very seldom in a coach; yet, after all, it will be expensive: Works, Scott's edition, ii. 28.

What seemed to Swift in Anne's days so 'plaguy deep,' would now be found considerably deeper ; certainly it would not be less than forty-eight shillings a week.

September 28th

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