17th March

Born: Francesco Albano, painter, 1578, Bologna; David Ancillon, learned French Protestant clergyman, 1617, Metz; Samuel Patterson, first book auctioneer, 1728, London; Carsten Niebuhr, celebrated traveller, 1733, West Ludingworth; the Rev. Dr. Thomas Chalmers, 1780, Anstruther; Ebenezer Elliott, 'Corn Law Rhymer,' 1781, Masborough, York.

Died: Cneius Pompeius, Labienus, and Attius Varus, B.C. 45, killed, Munda; Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, A.D. 180, Sirmium William Earl of Pembroke, 1570, London; Thomas Randolph, poet, 1634, Blatherwick; Philip Massinger, dramatic poet, 1640; Bishop Gilbert Burnet, historian, 1715, Clerkenwell; Jean Baptiste Rousseau, eminent French lyric poet, 1741, Brussels; George Earl of Macclesfield, astronomer, P.R.S., 1764; Daniel Bernouilli, mathematician, 1782, Basle; David Dale, philanthropist, 1806; Sir J. E. Smith, first president of the Linnean Society, 1828, Norwich; J. J. Grandier, the eminent designer of book illustrations, 1847; Mrs. Anna Jameson, writer on art. 1860.

Feast Day: St. Joseph of Arimathaea, the patron of Glastonbury. Many martyrs of Alexandria, about 392. St. Patrick, apostle of Ireland, 464 or 493. St. Gertrude, virgin, abbess in Brabant, 659.


Almost as many countries arrogate the honour of having been the natal soil of St. Patrick, as made a similar claim with respect to Homer. Scotland, England, France, and Wales, each furnish their respective pretensions: but, whatever doubts may obscure his birthplace, all agree in stating that, as his name implies, he was of a patrician family. He was born about the year 372, and when only sixteen years of age, was carried off by pirates, who sold him into slavery in Ireland; where his master employed him as a swineherd on the well-known mountain of Sleamish, in the county of Antrim. Here he passed seven years, during which time he acquired a knowledge of the Irish language, and made himself acquainted with the manners, habits, and customs of the people. Escaping from captivity, and, after many adventures, reaching the Continent, he was successively ordained deacon, priest, and bishop: and then once more, with the authority of Pope Celestine, he returned to Ireland to preach the Gospel to its then heathen inhabitants.

The principal enemies that St. Patrick found to the introduction of Christianity into Ireland, were the Druidical priests of the more ancient faith, who, as might naturally be supposed, were exceedingly adverse to any innovation. These Druids, being great magicians, would have been formidable antagonists to any one of less miraculous and saintly powers than Patrick. Their obstinate antagonism was so great, that, in spite of his benevolent disposition, he was compelled to curse their fertile lands, so that they became dreary bogs: to curse their rivers, so that they produced no fish: to curse their very kettles, so that with no amount of fire and patience could they ever be made to boil; and, as a last resort, to curse the Druids themselves, so that the earth opened and swallowed them up.

A popular legend relates that the saint and his followers found themselves, one cold morning, on a mountain, without a fire to cook their break-fast, or warm their frozen limbs. Unheeding their complaints, Patrick desired them to collect a pile of ice and snow-balls: which having been done, he breathed upon it, and it instantaneously became a pleasant fire-a fire that long after served to point a poet's conceit in these lines:

Saint Patrick, as in legends told,
The morning being very cold,
In order to assuage the weather,
Collected bits of ice together;
Then gently breathed upon the pyre,
When every fragment blazed on tire.
Oh! if the saint had been so kind,
As to have left the gift behind
To such a lovelorn wretch as me,
Who daily struggles to be free:
I'd be content-content with part,
I'd only ask to thaw the heart,
The frozen heart, of Polly Roe.

The greatest of St. Patrick's miracles was that of driving the venomous reptiles out of Ireland, and rendering the Irish soil, for ever after, so obnoxious to the serpent race, that they instantaneously die on touching it. Colgan seriously relates that St. Patrick accomplished this feat by beating a drum, which he struck with such fervour that he knocked a hole in it, thereby endangering the success of the miracle. But an angel appearing mended the drum: and the patched instrument was long exhibited as a holy relic.

In 1831, Mr. James Cleland, an Irish gentleman, being curious to ascertain whether the climate or soil of Ireland was naturally destructive to the serpent tribe, purchased half-a-dozen of the common harmless English snake (matrix torqueta), in Covent Garden market in London. Bringing them to Ireland, he turned them out in his garden at Rathgael, in the county of Down: and in a week afterwards, one of them was killed at Milecross, about three miles distant. The persons into whose hands this strange monster fell, had not the slightest suspicion that it was a snake, but, considering it a curious kind of eel, they took it to Dr. J. L. Drummond, a celebrated Irish naturalist, who at once pronounced the animal to be a reptile and not a fish. The idea of a 'rale living sarpint' having been killed within a short distance of the very burial-place of St. Patrick, caused an extraordinary sensation of alarm among the country people. The most absurd rumours were freely circulated, and credited. One far-seeing clergyman preached a sermon, in which he cited this unfortunate snake as a token of the immediate commencement of the millennium: while another saw in it a type of the approach of the cholera morbus. Old prophecies were raked up, and all parties and sects, for once, united in believing that the snake fore-shadowed. 'the beginning of the end,' though they very widely differed as to what that end was to be. Some more practically minded persons, however, subscribed a considerable sum of money, which they offered in rewards for the destruction of any other snakes that might be found in the district. And three more of the snakes were not long afterwards killed, within a few miles of the garden where they were liberated. The remaining two snakes were never very clearly accounted for; but no doubt they also fell victims to the reward. The writer, who resided in that part of the country at the time, well remembers the wild rumours, among the more illiterate classes, on the appearance of those snakes: and the bitter feelings of angry indignation expressed by educated persons against the-very fortunately then unknown-person, who had dared to bring them to Ireland.

A more natural story than the extirpation of the serpents, has afforded material for the pencil of the painter, as well as the pen of the poet. When baptizing an Irish chieftain, the venerable saint leaned heavily on his crozier, the steel-spiked point of which he had unwittingly placed on the great toe of the converted heathen. The pious chief, in his ignorance of Christian rites, believing this to be an essential part of the ceremony, bore the pain without flinching or murmur; though the blood flowed so freely from the wound, that the Irish named the place St. fhuil (stream of blood), now pronounced Struill, the name of a well-known place near Downpatrick. And here we are reminded of a very remarkable fact in connection with geographical appellations, that the footsteps of St. Patrick can be traced, almost from his cradle to his grave, by the names of places called after him.

Thus, assuming his Scottish origin, he was born at Kilpatrick (the cell or church of Patrick), in Dumbartonshire. He resided for some time at Dalpatrick (the district or division of Patrick), in Lanarkshire; and visited Crag-phadrig (the rock of Patrick), near Inverness. He founded two churches, Kirkpatrick at Irongray, in Kireudbright; and Kirkpatrick at Fleming, in Dumfries: and ultimately sailed from Portpatrick, leaving behind him such an odour of sanctity, that among the most distinguished families of the Scottish aristocracy, Patrick has been a favourite name down to the present day.

Arriving in England, he preached in Patterdale (Patrick's dale), in Westmoreland: and founded the church of Kirkpatrick, in Durham. Visiting Wales, he walked over Sarn-badrig (Patrick's causeway), which, now covered by the sea, forms a dangerous shoal in Carnarvon Bay: and departing for the Continent, sailed from Llan-badrig (the church of Patrick), in the island of Anglesea. Undertaking his mission to convert the Irish, he first landed at Innis-patrick (the island of Patrick), and next at Holmpatrick, on the opposite shore of the mainland, in the county of Dublin. Sailing northwards, he touched at the Isle of Man, sometimes since, also, called. Innis-patrick, where he founded another church of Kirkpatrick, near the town of Peel. Again landing on the coast of Ireland, in the county of Down, he converted and baptized the chieftain Dichu, on his own threshing-floor. The name of the parish of Saul, derived from Sabbal-patrick (the barn of Patrick), perpetuates the event. He then proceeded to Temple-patrick, in Antrim, and from thence to a lofty mountain in Mayo, ever since called Croagh-patrick.

He founded an abbey in East Meath, called Domnach-Padraig (the house of Patrick), and built a church in Dublin on the spot where St. Patrick's Cathedral now stands. In an island of Lough Deng, in the county of Donegal, there is St. Patrick's Purgatory: in Leinster, St. Patrick's Wood; at Cashel, St. Patrick's Rock; the St. Patrick's Wells, at which the holy man is said to have quenched his thirst, may be counted by dozens. He is commonly stated to have died at Saul on the 17th of March 493, in the one hundred and twenty-first year of his age.

Poteen, a favourite beverage in Ireland, is also said to have derived its name from St. Patrick: he, according to legend, being the first who instructed the Irish in the art of distillation. This, however, is, to say the least, doubtful: the most authentic historians representing the saint as a very strict promoter of temperance, if not exactly a teetotaller. We read that in 445 he commanded his disciples to abstain from drink in the day-time, until the bell rang for vespers in the evening. One Colman, though busily engaged in the severe labours of the field, exhausted with heat, fatigue, and intolerable thirst, obeyed so literally the injunction of his revered preceptor, that he refrained from indulging himself with one drop of water during a long sultry harvest day. But human endurance has its limits: when the vesper bell at last rang for evensong, Colman dropped down dead-a martyr to thirst. Irishmen can well appreciate such a martyrdom; and the name of Colman, to this day, is frequently cited, with the added epithet of Shadhack-the Thirsty.

As the birthplace of St. Patrick has been disputed, so has that of his burial. But the general evidence indicates that he was buried at Downpatrick, and that the remains of St. Columb and St. Bridget were laid beside him: according to the old monkish Leonine distich:

In Burgo Duno, tumulo tumulantur in uno,
Brigida, Patricius, atque Columba pins.

Which may be thus rendered:

In the hill of Down, buried in one tomb,
Were Bridget and Patricius, with Columba the pious.

One of the strangest recollections of a strange childhood is the writer having been taken, by a servant, unknown to his parents, to see a silver case, containing, as was said, the jaw-bone of St. Patrick. The writer was very young at the time, but remembers seeing one much younger, a baby, on the same occasion, and has an indistinct idea that the jaw-bone was considered to have had a very salutary effect on the baby's safe introduction into the world. This jaw-bone, and the silver shrine enclosing it, has been, for many years, in the possession of a family in humble life near Belfast. In the memory of persons living, it contained five teeth, but now retains only one-three having been given to members of the family, when emigrating to America; and the fourth was deposited under the altar of the Roman Catholic Chapel of Derriaghy, when rebuilt some years ago.

The curiously embossed case has a very antique appearance, and is said to be of an immense age: but it is, though certainly old, not so very old as reported, for it carries the Hallmark 'plainly impressed upon it. This remarkable relic has long been used for a kind of extra-judicial trial, similar to the Saxon corsnet, a test of guilt or innocence of very great antiquity; accused or suspected persons freeing themselves from the suspicion of crime, by placing the right hand on the reliquary, and declaring their innocence, in a certain form of words, supposed to be an asseveration of the greatest solemnity, and liable to instantaneous, supernatural, and frightful punishment, if falsely spoken, even by suppressio veri, or suygestio falsi. It was also supposed to assist women in labour, relieve epileptic fits, counteract the diabolical machinations of witches and fairies, and avert the baleful influence of the evil eye. We have been informed, however, that of late years it has rarely been applied to such uses, though it is still considered a most welcome visitor to a household, where an immediate addition to the family is expected.

The shamrock, or small white clover (trifolium repens of botanists), is almost universally worn in the hat over all Ireland, on St. Patrick's day. The popular notion is, that when St. Patrick was preaching the doctrine of the Trinity to the pagan Irish, he used this plant, bearing three leaves upon one stem, as a symbol or illustration of the great mystery. To suppose, as some absurdly hold, that he used it as an argument, would be derogatory to the saint's high reputation for orthodoxy and good sense: but it is certainly a curious coincidence, if nothing more, that the trefoil in Arabic is called skamrakh, and was held sacred in Iran as emblematical of the Persian Triads. Pliny, too, in his Natural History, says that serpents are never seen upon trefoil, and it prevails against the stings of snakes and scorpions. This, considering St. Patrick's connexion with snakes, is really remarkable, and we may reason-ably imagine that, previous to his arrival, the Irish had ascribed mystical virtues to the trefoil or shamrock, and on hearing of the Trinity for the first time, they fancied some peculiar fitness in their already sacred plant to shadow forth the newly revealed and mysterious doctrine. And we may conclude, in the words of the poet, long may the shamrock,

The plant that blooms for ever,
With the rose combined,
And the thistle twined,
Defy the strength of foes to sever.
Firm be the triple league they form,
Despite all change of weather:
In sunshine, darkness, calm, or storm,
Still may they fondly grow together.

In the Galtee or Gaultie Mountains, situated between the counties of Cork and Tipperary, there are seven lakes, in one of which, called Lough Dilveen, it is said Saint Patrick, when banishing the snakes and toads from Ireland, chained a monster serpent, telling him to remain there till Monday.

The serpent every Monday morning calls out in Irish, 'It is a long Monday, Patrick.'

That St Patrick chained the serpent in Lough Dilveen, and that the serpent calls out to him every Monday morning, is firmly believed by the lower orders who live in the neighbourhood of the Lough.


The early English calendars pretend that on the 17th of March Noah entered the ark (introitus Noae in arcam), and they add, under the 29th of April, egressus Noae de area, here Noah went out of the ark. It would not be easy to determine why this particular day was chosen as that of Noah's entrance into the ark; but the poetic and romantic spirit of the middle ages habitually seized upon certain persons and facts in biblical history, and gave them a character and clothed them in incidents which are very different from those they present in the Scriptures. In this respect mediaeval legend took greater liberties with Noah's wife than with Noah himself. This lady was, for some reason or other, adopted as the type of the mediaeval shrew; and in the religious plays, or mysteries, the quarrels between Noah and his helpmate were the subject of much mirth to the spectators. In the play of Noah in the Towneley mysteries (one of the earliest of these collections), when Noah carries to his dame the news of the imminence of the flood which had just been announced to him by the Creator, she is introduced abusing him for his credulity, sneering at him as an habitual bearer of bad news, and complaining of the ill life she leads with him. He tells her to 'hold her tongue,' but she only becomes more abusive, till he is provoked to strike her; she returns the blow, and they fall a-fighting, until Noah has had enough, and runs away to his work. When the ark is finished another quarrel arises, for Noah's wife laughs at his ark, and declares that she will not go into it. In reply to the first invitation, she says scornfully (we modernize the orthography):

I was never barred ere, as ever might I the [prosper],
In such an oyster as this ! In faith, I cannot find
Which is before, which is behind;
But shall we here be pinned,
Noah, as have thou bliss?

The water is now rising, and she is pressed still more urgently to go into the ark, on which she returns for answer:

Sir, for Jack nor for Gill will I turn my face,
Till I have on this hill spun a space
On my rock;
Well were he might get me!
Now will I down set me;
Yet rede [counsel] I no man let [hinder] me
For dread of a knock.

The danger becomes now so imminent, that Noah's wife jumps into the ark of her own will, where she immediately picks up another quarrel with her husband, and they fight again, but this time Noah is conqueror, and his partner complains of being beaten 'blue,' while their three sons lament over the family discords.

In the similar play in the Chester mysteries, the wife assists in tolerably good temper during the building of the ark, but when it is finished she refuses to go into it, and behaves in a manner which leads Noah to exclaim:

Lorde, that women be crabbed aye!
And non are meke, I dare well saye.

Noah's wife becomes so far reconciled that she assists in carrying into the ark the various couples of beasts and birds; but when this labour is achieved, she refuses to go in herself unless she be allowed to take her gossips with her, telling Noah, that unless he agree to her terms, he may row whither he likes, and look out for another wife. Then follows a scene at the tavern, where the good dame and her gossips join in the following chant:

The good gossippe souge
The flude comes flittinge in full faste,
On everye syde that spreades full farre;
For feare of drowninge I am agaste;
Good gossippes, lett us drawe here,
And lett us drinke or [ere] we departe,
For ofte tymes we have done see.
For att a draughte thou drinkes a quarte,
And soe will I doe or I gee.
Heare is a pottill full of malmsine, good and stronge;
It will rejoice Louth hearte and tonge;
Though Noye thinke us never so longe,
Heare we will drinke alike.

At this moment, her three sons arrive and drag her away to the ark, which she has no sooner entered than she falls a-beating her husband.

These will serve as curious examples of the corrupt and not very reverent form in which the events of Scripture history were during the middle ages communicated to the vulgar. The quarrels of Noah and his wife formed so popular a story that they became proverbial. The readers of Chaucer will remember how, in the Canterbury Tales, Nicholas, when examining the carpenter on his knowledge of Noah's flood, asks him:

'Hast thou not herd,' quod Nicholas,' also
The some of Noe, with his felawship,
Or that he mighte get his wif to ship?
Him had be lever, I dare wel undertake,
At thilke time, than all his wethers blake,
That she had had a ship hireself alone.'


Died, on the 17th March 1806, David Dale, one of the fathers of the cotton manufacture in Scotland. He was the model of a self-raised, upright, successful man of business. Sprung from humble parents at Stewarton in Ayrshire, he early entered on a commercial career at Glasgow, and soon began to grapple with great undertakings. In company with Sir Richard Arkwright, he commenced the celebrated New Lanark Cotton Mills in 1783, and in the course of a few years he had become a rich man. Mr. Dale in this career had great difficulties to over-come, particularly in the prejudices and narrowsightedness of the surrounding country gentlefolk. He overcame them all. He took his full share of public duty as a magistrate. The poor recognized him as the most princely of philanthropists. He was an active lay preacher in a little body of Independents to which he belonged, and whose small, poor, and scattered congregations he half supported. Though unostentatious to a remarkable degree, it was impossible to conceal that David Dale was one of those rare mortals who hold all wealth as a trust for a general working of good in the world, and who cannot truly enjoy anything in which others are not participators. Keeping in view certain prejudices entertained regarding the moral effects of the factory system, it is curious to learn what were the motives of the philanthropic Dale in promoting cotton mills. His great object was to furnish a profitable employment for the poor, and train to habits of industry those whom he saw ruined by a semi-idleness. He aimed at correcting evils already existing, evils broad and palpable; and it never occurred to him to imagine that good, well-paid work would sooner or later harm any body.

By a curious chance, Robert Owen married the eldest daughter of Mr. Dale, and became his successor in the management of the New Lanark Mills. Both were zealous in promoting education among their people; but there was an infinite difference between the views of the two men as to education. Dale was content with little more than impressing the old evangelical faith of western Scotland upon the youth under his charge. Owen contemplated modes of moralising the people such as no Scotchman had ever dreamt of. The father-in-law was often put upon the defensive by the son-in-law, regarding his simple unmistrusting faith, and was obliged to admit that there was force in what Owen said, assuming the truth of his view of human nature. But he would generally end the discussion by remarking with his affectionate smile, 'Thou needest to be very right, for thou art very positive.'

David Dale was a remarkably obese man, insomuch it was said he had not for years seen his shoe-buckles as he walked. He one day spoke of having fallen all his length on the ice; to which his friend replied that he had much reason to be thankful that it was not all his breadth. The name of the worthy philanthropist has been commemorated in the names of two of his grandchildren,-the Hon. Robert Dale Owen, lately ambassador for the United States to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, and David Dale Owen, author of a laborious work on the Geology of Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota (1852).