Born: Mary I, Queen of England, 1516, Greenwich; Isaac Casaubon, scholar, 1559, Geneva; James Cassini, astronomer, 1677, Paris: Alexander Volta, discoverer of Voltaism, 1745, Como; David Bogue, eminent Independent divine, 1750, Damian, near Eyemouth, Berwickshire: Charles Lamb, essayist, 1775, London.
Died: Pope Gregory V, 999: George Duke of Clarence, murdered, 1478: Martin Luther, Protestant Reformer, Wittenberg, 1546; Sir Richard Baker, chronicler, 1645, Fleet Prison; John Louis de Balzae, littératear, 1654, Angouléme; Dr. Thomas Hyde, Orientalist, 1702, Hamburg; John Ernest Count Bernstein', Hanoverian minister, I772, Hamburg; Sir Jeffry Wyatville, architect (Windsor Castle restoration), 1840, Windsor; Baron von Theta, astronomer, 1856.
Feast Day: St. Simeon, or Simon, bishop of Jerusalem, martyr, 116. Saints Leo and Paragorius, martyrs, 3rd century.
GEORGE DUKE OF CLARENCE-WAS HE DROWNED IN MALMSEY?
Among the old historic traditions of the Tower of London is the story that George Duke of Clarence, brother of Edward the Fourth, who met his death on February 18th, 1478, was, by order of his other brother, Richard Duke of Gloucester, drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine in the above prison. It is said that, being condemned to die, the Duke's partiality for Malmsey led him to select this strange mode of quitting life. There is considerable confusion in the narratives: first, Sir Thomas More insinuates that Gloucester's efforts to save Clarence were feeble: next, Lord Bacon accuses him of contriving his brother's death: and Shakspeare characterizes him as the associate of the murderers: while Sandford makes him the actual murderer. It is conjectured that Clarence was sentenced to be poisoned, and that the fatal drug may have been conveyed to hint in 'malvoisie,' or Malmsey, then a favourite wine. The scene of the murder is disputed: by some it is said to have been a room in the Bowyer Tower: but Mrs. Hutchinson, the daughter of Sir Allan Apsley, Lieutenant of the Tower, and herself born in it, and therefore well acquainted with the traditions of the building, states that the drowning took place in a chamber in the Bloody Tower.
The only contemporary, or nearly contemporary authorities for the story, are Fabyan and Comines: now, Fahyan was an Englishman, and a Londoner, and had no doubt about it whatever. 'The Duke of Clarence,' he says, 'was secretly put to death, and drowned in a butt of malmsey within the Tower:' and Comines considered the authority good, otherwise he would scarcely have mentioned it in the way he has done.
Among the many customs which have been handed down to us from early times, but which have now, unfortunately, become obsolete, one of the most beautiful, simple, and most poetically symbolic, was that of carrying garlands before the corpses of unmarried females on their way to the grave, and then hanging up the garland in the church as a memento of the departed one. This sweetly pretty custom was in former ages observed in most parts of the kingdom, but in Derbyshire-that land of wild and beautiful scenery, where remnants of old customs, of popular beliefs and superstitions, and of the sports and habits of past generations linger in plenty about its mountains and its dales, its farms, its old halls, and its humbler homesteads-its observance has, perhaps, been continued to a much later 'period than in any other district. Indeed, in some of the Peak villages the garland has been carried even within memory of their more aged inhabitants.
Flowers have ever been an emblem of purity, and even in the primitive Christian church it was usual to place them, formed into wreaths or crowns, at the heads of deceased virgins. In every age, indeed, true virginity has been honoured in its purity by flowers pure as itself, and fresh from the hands of their Maker.
The same feeling which tempts the bride to adorn her beautiful tresses with a wreath of orange blossoms for her nuptials-which gives rise to the offering of a bouquet of flowers, and to the custom of strewing the pathway she is to tread on her way to the altar-has been the origin of the custom of adorning the corpse, the coffin, and the grave of the vie in with the same frail but lovely and appropriate emblems. The same feeling which calls virginity itself a flower,' is that which places flowers in the hair of the bride, in the hands or around the face of the corpse, and in the garlands at the grave.
In early ages, doubtless, the funeral garlands were composed of real flowers, but this gradually gave way to those composed of hoops and paper intermixed with ribands, which were much more durable, and had a better appearance when suspended in the churches. The custom has been referred to by many of the old writers, and Shakespeare himself alludes to it when he says, (Hamlet, Act v. scene 1,) ' Yet here she is allowed her virgin cramts'-' crants signifying ' garlands.'
Old John Marston, in 1605, wrote in his Dutch Courtezan, 'I was afraid, i' faith, that I should ha' seene a garland on this beauties hearse:' and a ballad of a later date runs thus:
But since I'm resolved to die for my dear,
I'll chuse six young virgins my coffin to bear:
And all those young virgins I now do chase,
Instead of green ribbands, green ribbands, green ribbauds,
Instead of green ribbands, a garland shall wear:
And when in the church in my grave I lie deep,
Let all those fine garlands, fine garlands, fine garlands,
Let all those fine garlands hang over my feet.
And when any of my sex behold the sight,
They may see I've been constant, been constant,
They may sec I've been constant to my heart's delight.
William Sampson, in 1636, thus alludes to this charming custom, in his lines on the death of Miss E. Tevery:
Why did the Lilly, Pounce, and Violet weepe,
The Marigold ere sun-set in did creepe?
At whose reflection she us'd for to rise
And at his way-gate to close up her eies.
Why were the beaten waies with flowers strowne,
And set with needy Lazar's, hanging down
Their mournful heades? why did the Pulpit mourne,
As if prepared for some Fuuerall urne
And yet the :Temple was with garlands hung,
Of sweet-smelling Flowers, which might belong
Unto some bridall! Noe! heaven knows the cause,
'Twas otherwise decreed in Nature's Lawes:
Those smelling sweetes with which our sense was fed,
Were for the buriall of a 'maiden, dead;
Which made an Autamne just in the mid-spring,
And all things contrary their births to bring:
Herbs, Plants, and Flowers contrariously grew,
Because they now received not Nature's dew:
The needy beggars hung their heads for thee,
Thou matchlesse map of maiden modesty,
From whose faire handes they had an almners's pay,
As often as they met thee every day.
The sacred Temple, where thy holy fires
Of incense was pow'red on, in chest desires
Was thus prepard, and deck'd on every side
To welcome thee, as her sole soveraigne Bride:
Whose goodness was inimitable, whose vertices shone,
Like to the sun in his bright horizon:
The Maiden Vestalls, that with wat'ry eies,
Bore thee to th' Church for Vesta's sanitize,
Were all in white! carracts of innocence
Prefiguring thy greater eminence.
So great their base, that with watery eine,
They offer teares still to thy virgin shrine:
And if that teares, sighes, or praires could save thee,
What would not they expresse now to have thee?
Sacred divinity allows of no such wish,
Therefore, emparadie'd soule, rest thou in blisse.
Gay, in his poems, has more than allusion to the custom. He says:
To her sweet memory flow'ry garlands strung
On her now empty seat aloft were hung.
Of the garlands themselves but few examples remain, but they may still be seen in some of the churches of Derbyshire. It is curious that, although allusions to the custom arc not unfrequent, no representation of a garland had ever been engraved until within the last few months, when some examples were given in The. Reliquary quarterly journal. Two of these engravings we are now enabled to reproduce.
The first engraving shows five garlands as they at present exist in the north aisle of Ashford-in-the-Water Church, and the second exhibits on a larger scale a particular garland, one of eight which formerly existed in Matlock Church, but are now preserved in a local museum. They are thus described in The Reliquary:
'The garlands are each composed of two hoops of wood, with bands crossing each other at right angles, and attached to the hoops: thus forming a kind of open arched crown. The hoops and bands are all of wood, wrapped round with white paper, and at the top is a loop for suspension. The hoops and bands of the smaller one, as shown in the accompanying woodcut, are decorated with paper flowers and rosettes, and at the top is a flower formed of hearts, and having somewhat the appearance of that of the Clackia pulchcella. From between the rosettes of the upper hoop, a paper band, gimped on the edges, and ornamented by diamonds cut out with scissors, hangs down to below the lower band, to which they are not attached.
'In another example, the hoops and bands are decorated with paper flowers, or rosettes, inter-mixed with bunches of narrow slips, or shreds of paper: and at the top is a bunch of the same, over paper folded like a fan. Originally, the flowers have been formed, some of plain, and others of folded or crimped paper: and others again of both; and in some parts the paper has been afterwards coloured red or blue, thus producing a somewhat gay appearance. From the centre of the top are suspended a pair of gloves, cut out of white paper, and a kerchief or collar, also of paper, gimped on the edges and carefully folded. In most instances the name of the female in whose honour these garlands were pre-pared was written on the collar, gloves, or handkerchief. On this under notice no name occurs, but its date is probably of the latter part of last century. Through age the colours on the paper have nearly disappeared.
'The garlands at Ashford-in-the-Water, al-though in general character resembling the others we have described, differ from them in detail. They are not so profusely ornamented with rosettes, boar no bunches of shreds of paper, and have no 'pinked' or cut ribands, Each garland contains a single glove, and a kerchief or collar. On the collar or kerchief of each has been written a verse of poetry, and the name, age, and date of death of the virgin in whose honour they were prepared. Owing to age, the decay of the paper, and the fading of the ink, the writing on most of them is obliterated. On one, however, the date of April 12th, 1717, occurs; there has also on this one been six lines of poetry, now perfectly illegible, and the name of the female appears to have been Ann Howard, died at the age of twenty-one. On another of a later date, we succeeded with considerable difficulty in deciphering the following lines:
Be always ready, no time delay,
I in my youth was called away,
Groat grief to those that's left behind,
But I hope I'm great joy to find. Ann Swindel,
Aged 22 years, Dec. 9th, 1798.
The form of garland of course varied in different localities, but the same general design prevailed wherever the custom was observed. In some of the metropolitan churches the garland, instead of being composed of real flowers, or of paper ones, was frequently composed of wire formed into filagree work resembling flowers and leaves, ornaments of gum, wax, and of dyed horn, and other materials, and sometimes had a gay, instead of a simple and pure appearance. A garland of this time has thus been described in the Antiquarian Repertory:
'These garlands at the funerals of the deceased were carried solemnly before the corpse by two maids, and afterwards hung up in some conspicuous place within the church, and they were made in the following manner, viz.:-the lower rim or circlet was a broad hoop of wood, whereunto was fixed at the sides thereof two other hoops, crossing each other at the top at right angles, which formed the upper part, being about one-third longer than the width. These hoops were wholly covered with artificial flowers of paper, dyed horn, and silk, and more or loss beautiful, according to the skill or ingenuity of the performer. In the vacancy inside, from the top, hung white paper cut in form of gloves, whereon was written deceased's name, age, &c., together with long slips of various coloured paper, or ribands: these were many times inter-mixed with gilded or painted shells of blown eggs, as farther ornaments, or it may be as emblems of bubbles, or the bitterness of this life: while other garlands had only a solitary hour-glass hanging therein, as a more significant symbol of mortality.'
Of garlands, and the funeral rites generally of a virgin, a most interesting account is to be found in a very scarce little book entitled The Virgin's Pattern, which describes the funeral of a lady at Hackney, named Perwich: ' The hearse, covered with velvet, was carried by six servant maidens of the family, all in white. The sheet was held up by six of those gentlewomen in the school that had most acquaintance with her, in mourning habit, with white scarfs and gloves. A rich costly garland of gumwork adorned with banners and 'scutcheons, was borne immediately before the hearse, by two proper young ladies that entirely loved her. Her father and mother, with other near relations and their children, followed next the hearse in due order, all in mourning : the kindred next to them: after whom came the whole school of gentlewomen, and then persons of chief rank from the neighbourhood and from the city of London, all in white gloves: both men, women, children, and servants having been first served with wine. The hearse having been set down, with the garland upon it, the Rev. Dr. Spurstow preached her funeral sermon. This done, the coffin, anointed with rich odours, was put down into the grave, in the middle alley of the said (Hackney) church.'
In a singular old book entitled the Comical Pilgrim's Pilgrimage, the author says: 'When a virgin dies, a garland made of all sorts of flowers and sweet herbs, is carried by a young woman on her head, before the coffin, from which hang down two black ribands, signifying our mortal state, and two white, as an emblem of purity and innocence. The ends thereof are held by four young maids, before whom a basket full of herbs and flowers is supported by two other maids, who strew them along the streets to the place of burial: then, after the deceased, follow all her relations and acquaintance.'
In some districts the garlands were only allowed to remain suspended in the church for a twelvemonth after the burial of the young woman. In others the garland was buried in the same grave with her. In Derbyshire, however, they appear to have remained hung up on the arches or on the beams of the roof, until they have either decayed away or been removed by order of some one whose love of change was greater than his veneration for these simple memorials of the dead.
In 1662, an inquiry in the diocese of Ely was made as follows: 'Are any garlands and other ordinary funeral ensigns suffered to hang where they hinder the prospect, or until they grow foul and dusty, withered and rotten?' At Heanor, not many years ago, a number of these interesting relics, which had hung there for years, were removed at a general church-cleaning which took place on the coming in of a new incumbent, and at many other places they have been as ruthlessly destroyed. At Llandovery the garlands and gloves hang a year in the church, and are then taken down, and on each anniversary of the death of the virgin the grave is by some friend decorated with flowers, and a pair of white gloves is laid upon it. These gloves are taken away by the nearest relative who visits the grave that day.
Beautifully and touchingly has Anna Seward sung:
Now the low beams with paper garlands hung,
In memory of some village youth or maid,
Draw the soft tear, from thrill'd remembrance sprung;
How oft my childhood marked that tribute paid!
The gloves suspended by the garland's side,
White as its snowy flowers with ribands tied.
Dear village! long these wreaths funereal spread,
Simple memorial of the early dead!
and it is much to be hoped that wherever any of these 'simple memorials of the early dead' exist, they may long escape the hand of the spoliator, and be allowed to remain where the loving hands and the sorrowing hearts of the mourners, generations past, had placed them.
FUNERAL FEAST OF SIR JOHN PASTON
In 1466 died in London, Sir John Paston, the head of the wealthy family whose correspondence, known as the Paston Letters, presents so many pictures of the life of the English gentry of that age. The body of Sir John was conveyed, for interment, to the Priory of Bromholm, in the parish of Barton, a little village on the north-cast coast, and within sight of the sea. A curious roll of accounts of the expenses of the funeral is preserved, from which we gather that for the feast, during three continuous days, one man was occupied in flaying beasts: and provision was made of thirteen barrels of beer, twenty-seven barrels of ale, one barrel of beer of the greatest assize, and a runlet of red wine of fifteen gallons.
All these, however, copious as they seem, proved inadequate to the demand: for the account goes on to state that five coombs of malt at one time, and ten at another, were brewed up expressly for the occasion. Meat, ton, was in proportion to the liquor: the country round about must have been swept of geese, chickens, capons, and such small gear, all which, with thirteen hundred eggs, thirty gallons of milk, and eight of cream, forty-one pigs, forty calves, and ten 'nete,' slain and devoured, give a fearful picture of the scene of festivity within the priory walls. Amongst such provisions, the article of bread bears nearly the same proportion as in Falstaff's bill of fare. On the other hand, the torches, the many pounds weight of wax to burn over the grave, and the separate candle of enormous stature and girth, form prodigious items. No less than £20 was changed from gold into smaller coin that it might be showered amongst the attendant throng; and twenty-six marks in copper had been used for the same object in London, before the procession began to move. A barber was occupied five days in smartening up the monks for the ceremony: and 'the reke of the torches at the dirge' was so great that the glazier had to remove two panes to permit the fumes to escape.