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March 4th

Born: Don Pedro, of Portugal, 1394; James Earl Waldegrave, 1715; Lord Chancellor Somers, 1652, Worcester.

Died: Saladin, 1193, Damascus; Bernard Gilpin, rector of Houghton-le-Spring, 1583; Matthias Hoe, 1645, Dresden; J. Vanderlinden, 1664, Leyden; John Anstis, Garter King-at-Arms, 1744; the Rev. Thomas Seward, 1790, Lichfield; Thomas Rickman, architect, 1841, Birmingham; Charles Leopold Von Bach, German geologist, 1853.

Feast Day: St. Lucius, pope and martyr, 253. St. Adrian, bishop of St. Andrew's, martyr in Scotland, 874. St. Casimir, Prince of Poland, 1482.


The famous sultan of Egypt and Syria, who overthrew the short-lived Latin kingdom of Jerusalem, and successfully bore the brunt of the third crusade, was very much a soldier of fortune after the type of the modern Mehemet Ali. It was in the course of a career of conquest, beginning with Egypt and going on to Syria, that he fought Guy de Lusignan, King of Jerusalem, at Tiberias, in 1187, and obtained possession of that city. Then did Philip Augustus of France and Richard I of England deem themselves called upon by Christian duty to fly to the rescue of the holy sepulchre. The energies of this third crusade were concentrated on a two years' siege of Acre, which they took, not-withstanding the efforts of Saladin for its rescue; but they vainly endeavoured to force a way to Jerusalem, and were finally obliged to rest satisfied with leaving the Christians in possession of a strip of the coast between Tyre and Jaffa.

In this contest between Europeans and Asiatics, there was a wonderful display of valour on both sides; but the struggle is mainly interesting to us through the magnanimity of Saladin. The lion-hearted King of England, being one day on the point of being taken prisoner, was saved from that fate by the generosity of a Norman gentleman, Guillaume de Preau, who called out, 'I am the king,' in a voice expressive of a wish to secure good treatment. Guillaume was instantly surrounded and taken, and he was quickly brought before Saladin, who at once knew that he was not Richard. On the stratagem being explained, the Sultan could only praise him for the self-devotion he had displayed.

On entering Jerusalem, after a successful battle, the people surrounded him, clamouring for their fathers, brothers, and sons whom he had taken prisoners. He could not resist this sad spectacle, but at once ordered the prisoners to be released.

Having established good laws in his territories, he was determined that they should be executed without respect of persons. His own nephew being cited in judgment, he compelled him to appear. Nay, a merchant venturing to accuse Saladin himself of some wrong, and the cadi having come to the sultan to ask what should be done, 'That which is just,' answered he. He went to the court, pleaded his own cause, and so far from punishing the plaintiff, thanked and rewarded him for shewing so much confidence in his integrity.

Though Saladin was a usurper, with the stain of ingratitude to his early masters, there must have been splendid qualities in a man who, born a Khoord in a moderate rank of life, raised himself to be the ruler of Egypt, Arabia, Syria, Mesopotamia, and the finest tracts of Asia Minor, all in the course of a life of fifty-seven years.

He left his vast territories amongst his seventeen sons: but their rule was everywhere of short duration.


This good man, born in Westmoreland in 1517, and by his mother related to Cuthbert Tunstall, the enlightened Bishop of Durham, through that prelate was appointed to the valuable rectory of Houghton-le-Spring. This was in the reign of Mary, a dangerous time for one of such Protestant tendencies as he. Entering at once upon his duties, He did not hesitate to preach the doctrines of the Reformation, and was accordingly very soon accused to Bishop Bonner. Gilpin obeyed the summons of the unpitying prelate, and, fully expecting to suffer at the stake, before setting out he said to his house-steward, 'Give me a long garment, that I may die with decency.' As he journeyed with the ministers of the bishop, he is said to have broken his leg, which, delaying his journey, saved his life, Mary dying in the interval. Gilpin then returned in joy and peace to his parishioners at Houghton. Queen Elizabeth offered him the bishopric of Carlisle, which he declined: and he continued to his death the rector of Houghton. He visited the ruder parts of Northumberland, where the people subsisted mostly on plunder, fearlessly holding forth to them the commands and sanctions of Christianity, and thus did much to change the character of the county. From these useful services he was often called the Northern Apostle.

Houghton, being then, as now, a rich benefice, yielded Gilpin an ample income. His hospitality resembled that of the primitive bishops: every fortnight, forty bushels of corn, twenty bushels of malt, and a whole ox, besides other provisions, were consumed in the rectory-house, which was open to all travellers. With equal zeal and assiduity, he settled differences among his parishioners, provided instruction for the young, and prayed by the bedsides of the sick and poor.


To Thomas Rickman belongs the merit of discriminating and classifying the styles resulting from progressive changes in the Gothic architecture of the middle ages, as clearly as to William Smith belongs the honour of first classifying strata by their respective shells. It must ever be felt as a curious and anomalous circumstance, that the genius who did us this service, and who ultimately gained celebrity by the vast number of Gothic churches which he built in England, was by birth and up-bringing a member of the Society of Friends, whose principle it is to attach no consequence whatever to the forms of 'steeple-houses.'


How our ancestors managed to pass the long winter evenings in the olden time, has never been satisfactorily explained. They had no new books, indeed few books of any kind, to read or talk about. Newspapers were unknown: a wandering beggar, minstrel, or pedler circulated the very small amount of news that was to be told. The innumerable subjects of interest that form our ordinary topics of conversation were then utterly unknown. So we can only conclude that our ancestors, like some semi-savage tribes at the present day, passed their spare hours in relating often-told stories, and exercised their wits in asking each other puzzling questions or riddles.

Many copies of what we would now term riddle-books, are found in both the French and English collections of old manuscripts, and some were printed at an early period. One of these, entitled Demands Joyous, which may be rendered Amusing Questions, was printed in English by Wynkyn de Worde, in 1511. From this work, of which one copy only is said to be extant, we cull a few 'demands,' with their responses, for the amusement of the reader: the greater part of them being too strongly impregnated with indecency and profanity to be presentable here:

Dem: What bare the best burden that ever was borne?
Res: The ass that carried our Lady, when she fled with our Lord into Egypt.

Dem: What became of that ass?
Res: Adam's mother ate her.

Dem. Who was Adam's mother?
Res: The earth.

Dem: How many calves' tails would it take to reach from the earth to the sky?
Res: No more than one, if it be long enough.

Dem: What is the distance from the surface of the sea to the deepest part thereof?
Res: Only a stone's throw.

Dem: When Antichrist appears in the world, what will be the hardest thing for him to understand?
Res: A hand-barrow, for of that he shall not know which end ought to go foremost.

Dem: What is it that never was and never will be?
Res: A mouse's nest in a cat's ear.

Dem: Why do men make an oven in a town?
Res: Because they cannot make a town in an oven.

Dem: How may a man discern a cow in a flock of sheep?
Res: By his eyesight.

Dem: Why doth a cow lie down?
Res: Because it cannot sit.

Dem: What is it that never freezeth?
Res: Boiling water.

Dem: Which was first, the hen or the egg?
Res: The hen, at the creation.

Dem: How many straws go to a goose's nest?
Res: Not one, for straws not having feet cannot go anywhere.

Dem: Who killed the fourth part of all the people in the world?
Res: Cain when he killed Abel.

Dem: What is it that is a builder, and yet not a man, doeth what no man can do, and yet serveth both God and man?
Res: A bee.

Dem: What man getteth his living backwards?
Res: A ropemaker.

Dem. How would you say two paternosters, when you know God made but one paternoster?
Res: Say one twice over.

Dem: Which are the most profitable saints of the church?
Res: Those painted on the glass windows, for they keep the wind from wasting the candles.

Dem: Who were the persons that made all, and sold all, that bought all and lost all?
Res: A smith made an awl and sold it to a shoe-maker, who lost it.

Dem: Why doth a dog turn round three times before he lieth down?
Res: Because he knoweth not his bed's head from the foot thereof.

Dem: What is the worst bestowed charity that one can give?
Res: Alms to a blind man: for he would be glad to see the person hanged that gave it to him.

Dem: What is the age of a field-mouse?
Res: A year. And the age of a hedgehog is three times that of a mouse, and the life of a dog is three times that of a hedge-hog, and the life of a horse is three times that of a dog, and the life of a man is three times that of a horse, and the life of a goose is three times that of a man, and the life of a swan is three times that of a goose, and the life of a swallow three times that of a swan, and the life of an eagle three times that of a swallow, and the life of a serpent three times that of an eagle, and the life of a raven is three times that of a serpent, and the life of a hart is three times that of a raven, and an oak groweth five hundred years, and fadeth five hundred years.

March 5th