Born: Edward, 'the Black Prince,' 1330, Woodstock Thomas Randolph, poet, 1605, Badby, Northamptonshire, Anthony Francis de Fourcroy, eminent French chemist, 1755, Paris.
Died: Wat Tyler, plebeian insurgent, slain in Smithfield, 1381; Philip the Good, of Burgundy, 1467, Bruges; Rene Aubert de Vertot, French historian, 1735, Paris; James Short, maker of reflecting telescopes, 1768 Francis Pilatre de Rosier, killed by falling from a balloon, 1785, near Boulogne; Freteau de St. Just, guillotined, 1794, Paris; Thomas Campbell, poet, 1844, Boulogne.
Feast Day: Saints Vitus, or Guy, Crescentia, and Modestus, martyrs, 4th century; St. Vaughe, or Vorech, hermit in Cornwall, 585; St. Landelin, Abbot of Crespin, 686. St. Bernard of Menthon, confessor, 1008; Blessed Gregory Lewis Barbadigo, Cardinal Bishop of Padua, confessor, 1697.
This saint has an importance from a purely accidental cause. In the Romish hagiology, we only find that he was a Sicilian boy who was made a Christian by his nurse, and, subsequently flying from a pagan father's wrath into Italy, fell a martyr under the sweeping persecution by Diocletian. Somehow a chapel near Ulm was dedicated to him; and to this chapel came annually some women who laboured under a nervous or hysteric affection impelling them to violent motion. This ailment came to be called St. Vitus's Dance, and perhaps the term was gradually extended to other affections involving involuntary muscular motion, of which there seems to be a considerable number. In modern times, in English medical practice, the name of St. Vitus's Dance is confined to an ailment which chiefly befalls young persons during the five or six years preceding puberty, and manifests itself in an inability to command the movements of the limbs. As to its cause, whether nervous or intestinal, and equally as to the means of its cure, the greatest dubiety seems to prevail.
EDWARD THE BLACK PRINCE
In the whole range of English history there is no name so completely wrapped up in the idea of English chivalry as that of Edward the Black Prince. Born on the 15th of June 1330, the son of Edward III and Philippa of Hainault, he was only in his sixteenth year when he accompanied his father in the expedition into France which was crowned by the battle of Crecy.
On that memorable day, Sunday, the 26th of August, the young prince, supported by the Earls of Warwick and Hereford, the gallant John Chandos, and Godfroi d'Harcourt, had the command of the vanguard, or first of the three divisions into which the English army was divided, which in fact bore the brunt of the battle.
It was the beginning of an entirely new system of military tactics, and the English men-at-arms on this occasion had dismounted from their horses, and engaged on foot the far more numerous mounted men-at-arms of France, who were led by princes and nobles, always looked upon as the ablest and bravest of the feudal chivalry of Franco.
The English, encouraged by the conduct of their young leader, fought steadily in their ranks, but the struggle seemed so unequal, that the Earls of Northampton and Arundel, who commanded the second, or central division of the English army, hastened to their assistance; yet, though the force of the enemy appeared still so overwhelming, King Edward, who commanded the third division, or rear-guard, continued to stand aloof, and held his division in inaction. He appears to have had the greatest confidence in his son, and he was far better aware of the importance of the change in military tactics which he was inaugurating than any of his contemporaries. The Earls of Northampton and Arundel, however, when they moved up to support the Prince, dispatched a messenger to the king, who was surveying the battle calmly from the mound of a windmill, to ask him for immediate succour. When he had delivered his message, the king asked him:
'Is my son dead? or is he struck to the ground, or so wounded that he cannot help himself?'
'God forbid, Sir,' the messenger replied, 'but he is hard beset, and your aid would be right welcome.'
The king replied firmly: 'Return to those who sent you, and tell them from me that they must not send for me today as long as my son is alive. Let the boy earn his spurs. I desire, if it be God's will, that the day be his, and that the honour of it remain to him and to those whom I have appointed to support him.'
The king's confidence gave courage to the English soldiers as well as to the English commanders, and led to that great and decisive victory, in which nearly all the great baronage of France perished.
Next day, King Edward's heralds reported that there lay on the field of battle, on the side of the French, the bodies of eleven princes, of eighty knights bannerets, or knights who led their own troops into the field under their own banners, of twelve hundred knights, and of about thirty thousand ordinary soldiers. Among the most illustrious of the slain were John of Luxemburg, King of Bohemia, and his son Charles, who had been elected, through the French interest at Rome, King of the Romans, and was a claimant to the empire. It is said that the crest of the King of Bohemia, three ostrich feathers, with the motto ich dien (I serve), being presented to the young prince, he adopted it as his own, and hence this has ever since been the crest of the princes of Wales.
Edward had been created Duke of Cornwall in the year 1337, which is understood to be the first creation of a dukedom by an English monarch, and since that time the eldest son of the King of England is considered as being born Duke of Cornwall. His father had knighted him when the army landed in Normandy on this expedition, and he is said to have gained the popular title of the Black Prince from the circumstance of his usually wearing black armour.
In the hour of battle, the Black Prince never belied the promises he had given on the field of Crecy. At Calais, he is said by his valour to have saved his father from being taken by the enemy; and he was with him again in the great victory gained over the Spaniards at sea in the year 1350. In the August of 1355, the prince proceeded to Bordeaux to take the command in Gascony, and his destructive excursion through the French provinces in the south brought on, on the 19th of September in the following year, the celebrated battle of Poitiers, which was, if anything, a more extraordinary victory than that of Crecy. It was fought in some respects under circumstances not very dissimilar; though the numbers on each side were much less, for the army of the Black Prince is believed to have been under ten thousand men, while that of the King of France was estimated at about fifty thousand. The prince, believing that his father was advancing into France from Calais, had formed the rash design of marching through the heart of France to join him, and he was not made aware of his mistake until he found himself so completely surprised by the French army in the neighbourhood of Poitiers, that it was impossible to avoid a battle with these unequal numbers.
It is right to say that the victory must be attributed quite as much to his own great military talents, and to the steady bravery of his officers and troops, as to the blunders and rashness of the French. The quaint old historian Stowe, in describing the prowess of the Black Prince in this battle, quite warms up with his subject.
'Then,' says he, bestirreth himself the worthy Prince of Wales, cutting and hewing the Frenchmen with a sharpe sword. In the meantime, Captain de la Buche (the Captal de Buch) marches a compane aboute under the hanging of the hill, which he with the Prince a little before forsooke and so sodainly breaking forth unlooked for, and shewing by the enscyne of St. George that hee was our friend, the prince with great courage giveth a fresh charge on the French armie, being desirous to breake their rankes before the Captaine aforesayd should set on the side of the battayle. The prince, lustily encountring with his enemies, goeth into the middle of the throng, and where hee seeth most company, there he layeth about him on every side...
This was the courage of the prince, who at the length thrusteth thorow the throngs of them that guarded the French king; then should you see an ancient (ensign) beginne to nod and stumble, the bearers of them to fall downe, the blood of slaves and princes ran mingled together into the waters which were nigh. In like sort the bore of Cornewall rageth, who seeketh to have none other way to the French king's standard then by blood onely; but when they came there, they met with a company of stout menne to withstand them; the Englishmen fight, the Frenchmen also lay on, but at length, God having so disposed, the prince presseth forward on his enemies, and like a fierce lion beating downe the proud, hee came to the yielding upp of the French king.'
It is hardly necessary to state that the latter, and his youngest son Philippe, a boy of thirteen, who had remained by his side during the whole battle, and was, in fact, the only one of his sons who shewed any courage, were taken, and carried prisoners to Bordeaux. King John of France seemed not greatly to have felt his defeat, and he appeared almost to have forgotten it in his admiration of the knightly courtesy of the Black Prince, who that night served his prisoner at the supper table. The hostilities between England and France were ended for the present by a truce, and the latter country was left to all the consequences of bad government, popular discontent and insurrection, and the ravages and tyranny of the free companies.
The bravery and military talents of the Black Prince seem to have dazzled people's eyes to qualities of a description less to be admired. He appears to have been generous in disposition, and to have been respected and beloved by his friends, and he possessed in a high degree what were then considered noble and courtly feelings; but he showed on many occasions an inclination to be arbitrary, and he could often be cruel and ferocious. But these, too, were then considered as qualities of a great soldier. He possessed a restless desire of activity, and at the same time a desire to gain popularity. These qualities, perhaps, made him fitter for the governor of a turbulent province than for a statesman at home. He was therefore entrusted with the government of Gascony, and in 1362 his father conferred upon him the duchy of Aquitain. He subsequently married his cousin Joan, the 'fair maid of Kent,' by whom he had two sons, Edward, who died in infancy, and Richard, called from the place of his birth, Richard of Bordeaux, who subsequently ascended the throne of England as Richard II.
In the year 1365, Pedro, the cruel King of Castile, was dethroned by his subjects, who chose his bastard brother, Enrique (or Henry), king in his stead, and the Black Prince rejoiced in the prospect of another active campaign, when, in the following year, Pedro sought his assistance to recover his throne. The war which occupied the year 1367 presents no great interest for English readers. Prince Edward was victorious again in the battle of Navaretta, fought on the 5th of April, and Pedro was restored to his throne, but only to disgust his protector by his ingratitude. The prince returned to Bordeaux sick in body, and apparently in mind, and his disease soon assumed the character of dropsy. Charles V., now King of France, had made up his mind to undertake a new war in England, and he began by exciting a spirit of insurrection in the provinces under thegovernment and feudal sovereignty of the Black Prince, in which he was so completely successful, that we cannot suppose that the prince had succeeded in making himself popular among his own subjects.
The rapidity with which town after town revolted from him to the French king, at length so roused the prince's anger, that he rose from his bed of sickness at Angouleme, and took the field in person. His valour was rewarded by the capture of Limoges, which had been treacherously surrendered to the French; but his reputation was stained by the massacre in cold blood, by his imperious orders, of 3000 citizens, and by the destruction of the town. This was the last military action in which he commanded in person. In January 1371, he resigned his government to the Duke of Lancaster, his brother, and returned to England.
The history of the remaining years of the life of the Prince of Wales is imperfectly known. He appears to have given great displeasure to his father by opposing the misgovernment of the closing period of his reign, and by espousing the popular cause; and extravagant hopes appear to have been raised of the reforms which. would take place when the prince himself succeeded to the throne. These prospects, however, were destined never to be realized, for the Black Prince died on the 8th of June 1376, nearly a year before the death of his father. He was deeply lamented by the whole nation.
JAMES EARL OF BOTHWELL
On the 15th of June 1567, a very hot sunny day, two little armies lay facing each other on a piece of gently sloping ground in Haddingtonshire. Along the crest of the rising ground were about two thousand men, many of them mounted, being chiefly the retainers of a powerful noble, James Earl of Bothwell. Beside the leader were one or two females on horseback, not as taking part in the war, but as under protection.
The principal lady was Mary queen of Scots, who had lately wedded Bothwell, knowing or unknowing (who can ever tell which?) that he reeked with the blood of her former husband, Darnley. The army grouped on the slope below was composed of troops hastily assembled by a few nobles who professed indignation at this horrible marriage, and anxiety on account of the danger into which it brought the heir of the crown, the son of Mary, an infant of a year old. All through that long summer day there went on conferences for various issues, with a view to avoiding a hostile collision between the armies. And at length, towards evening, the queen consented to pass under the care of the insurgent lords, on a promise of respectful treatment.
The blood-stained Bothwell then took leave of her, and withdrew within his own country to the eastward. They had been married but a month-and they never met again. The infatuated queen, refusing to declare against him or give him up, was deposed, while her infant son was crowned as king in her stead. Bothwell, hunted from the land, took to sea; was chased there; and obtained refuge in Denmark. His bold and unscrupulous mind had speculated with confidence on being at the head of everything in Scotland through the queen's means. But public opinion was too strong for him. The Scotch people had been accustomed to see a good deal of violence practised by their men of affairs, but they could not stand seeing one king killed, and his murderer placed almost in the throne beside his widow.
It is only of late years that we have got any clear account of Bothwell's subsequent history. It appears that Frederick king of Denmark for some time treated him as a refugee of distinction, who might in time be once more a ruler in his own country. By and by, when made aware of how he stood in Scotland, the Danish monarch became cooler, and remanded the exile to the castle of Malmo, in Sweden, which then belonged to Denmark, and where he was treated as a prisoner, but still an honourable one. Frederick was pulled various ways; the Protestant government in Scotland demanding the rendition of Bothwell as a murderer and the associate of a Catholic sovereign,-Mary, and her friend the king of France, claiming his liberation; Bothwell himself offering to assist in getting the Orkneys back to Denmark as the purchase-money of freedom and assistance.
Five years passed in fruitless negotiations. The cause of Mary being in 1573 regarded as ruined, Frederick unrelentingly assigned the Scottish noble to a stricter and baser imprisonment, in the castle of Drachsholm in the island of Zealand. Here his seclusion was so great, that a report of his being dead spread abroad without contradiction; and Mary herself, in her English prison, regarded herself as a widow some years before she really was one. It is now ascertained that Bothwell died on the 14th of April 1578, when he must have been about forty-seven or forty-eight years of age, and after he had endured a captivity more or less strict of nearly eleven years. He was buried in the neighbouring church of Faareveile. So ended a dream of ambition which at first must have seemed of fair enough prospects, being not much out of keeping with the spirit of the age, but which had been signally unfortunate in its results, precipitating both of the principal parties into utter ruin, and leaving their names to suspicion and reproach through all ages.
Mr. Horace Marryat, travelling in Denmark in 1858, paid a visit to Faareveile church, and there, in a vault, found the coffin of Bothwell, which had originally been deposited in a chapel of the Adeler family, but afterwards placed in the church, that it might be more conveniently open to the visits of strangers. On the lid being raised, the English visitor beheld the figure of a man of about middle height, whose red hair mixed with grey denoted the age of fifty; with 'high. cheek bones, remarkably prominent long hooked nose, somewhat depressed towards the end (this may have been the effect of emaciation), wide mouth; hands and feet small, well-shaped, those of a high-bred man.'
The whole aspect suggested to Mr. Marryat the idea of 'an ugly Scotchman,' though we think it hard to judge of a man's looks after he has been three hundred years in his grave. Mr. Marryat remarks, 'Bothwell's life was a troubled one; but had he selected a site in all Christendom for quiet and repose in death, he could have found none more peaceful, more soft and calm, than the village church of Faareveile.''' It is worthy of remark, that on being first discovered, 'the body was found enveloped in the finest linen, the head reposing on a pillow of satin;' which looks like an evidence that Bothwell was treated with consideration to the last. If it be true, as alleged, that he was for some time chained up in a dungeon-and Mr. Marryat tells us he saw, in what is now a wine-cellar, the ring to which he is believed to have been fixed-it may be that the one fact is not irreconcilable with the other, as the consignment to chains in a dungeon might be only a part of the horrible medical treatment for an insane person customary in that age.
A curious relic of Bothwell came before the public in November 1856, in the form of a book from his library. Life is full of surprises. Who could have dreamt that the murderous Scotch earl of the sixteenth century had a library at all? From this volume it fully appeared that he must have possessed one, for it bore his arms stamped on its side; of course, he could not have had a book-stamp unless he had had a plurality of books on which to get it impressed. Another curious and unexpected circumstance was the nature of the book. Had it been one devoted to the arts of the chase, or a copy of Boccaccio, one would not have been much surprised: strange to say, it was a philosophical book L'Arithmetique et Geometrie de Maistre Etienne de in Roche, printed at Paris in 1538. Of the fact of Bothwell's ownership the book left no room for doubt, for not only were the arms impressed, but the inscription, 'JACOBUS HEPBORN, Comes Bothv. D. Hailes Crichtoniae Liddes. et Magn. Admiral. Scotiae.' It was supposed that the binding had been executed in France. The volume was purchased by Mr. James Gibson Craig, of Edinburgh, for thirteen guineas, and deposited in his beautiful and extensive collection, beside an equally precious volume from the library of Queen Mary.
RISING OF THE NILE
The great advantages which. Egypt derives from the annual inundation of the Nile in saving the country from total barrenness, cause us to feel little wonder at the inhabitants still calling it 'the most holy river;' or that they should believe that it draws its source from paradise. In former days it had its appointed priests, festivals, and sacrifices, and if its rising were delayed for a single day, they took the most beautiful young girl they could find, and dressing her richly, drowned her in the waters, as a victim to turn away the god's anger, and merit his favours. The caliphs abolished this cruel sacrifice, substituting one less barbarous but more ridiculous: they threw into its waters a letter, in which it was commanded to rise if it were the will of God.
The inundation usually commences on the 15th of June, the greatest height is at the autumnal equinox, and the waters gradually subside until the following April. The quality of the Nile water for drinking purposes is highly extolled: it is among waters what champagne is among wines, and the priests of Apis would not give it to the sacred bull lest he should become too fat. Benjamin of Tudela describes it as both drink and medicine; and Purchas goes farther: 'Nilus water I thinke to be the profitablest and wholesomest in the world by being both bread and drink.' However long it is kept, it never becomes impure, and it will be remembered that on the late visit of the Pasha of Egypt to this country, he brought jars of the Nile water to use during his absence from home.