Died: Bishop Nicolas Longespee,1297; Bishop Herbert Croft, 1691; Elias Ashmole, antiquary, 1692, Great Lambeth; Charles Perrault, miscellaneous writer, 1703; Ephraim Chambers, encyclopaedist, 1740; Bishop John Douglas, 1807.
Feast Day: St. Venantius, martyr, 250; St. Theodotus, vintner, and seven virgins, martyrs, 303; St. Potamon, martyr, 341.;St. Eric, King of Sweden, martyr, 1151.
This name calls for a brief passing notice, as one associated with pleasures which we have all enjoyed in childhood. It is but little and even dubiously known, that the universally diffused Tales of Mother Goose, to wit, Blue Beard, Tom Thumb, Cinderella, &c., were a production of this celebrated French writer. After having spent along life in more or less profound studies, and produced several learned dissertations, it pleased him to compose these fairy tales, probably to amuse a little son who had been born to him in his advanced age. It was in 1697 that these matchless stories were given to the world at Paris; not, however, as the production of Charles Perrault, the accomplished and esteemed scholar and critic, but as the work of Perrault d'Armancourt, his son, who was as yet a mere child. They have since been translated into nearly every language. Perrault died in the seventy-sixth year of his age.
A ROMANCE OF MILITARY HISTORY
Early in the last century, the government raised six companies of highland soldiers, as a local force to preserve the peace and prevent robberies in the northern parts of Scotland. These companies, the famous Black Watch of Scottish song and story, were formed into a regiment in 1739, and four years after were marched to London, on their way to join the British army, then actively serving in Germany. Many of the men composing this regiment, believing that their terms of enlistment did not include foreign service, felt great dissatisfaction on leaving Scotland; but it being represented to them that they were merely going to London to be reviewed by the king in person, no actual disobedience to orders occurred. About the time, however, that the regiment reached London, the king departed for the Continent, and this the simple and high-minded Highlanders considered as a slight thrown upon either their courage or fidelity. Several disaffected persons, among the crowds that went to see the regiment in their quarters at Highgate, carefully fanned the flame of discontent; but the men, concealing any open expression of ill-feeling, sedulously prepared for a review announced to take place on the king's birthday, the 14th of May 1743. On that day Lord Sempill's Highland regiment, as it was then termed, was reviewed by General Wade, on Finchley Common. A paper of the day, says:
The Highlanders made a very hand-some appearance, and went through their exercise and firing with the utmost exactness. The novelty of the sight drew together the greatest concourse of people ever seen on such an occasion.
The review having taken place, the dissatisfied portion of the regiment, considering that the duty for which they were brought to London had been performed, came to the wild resolution of forcing their way back to Scotland. So immediately after midnight, on the morning of the 18th of May, about one hundred and fifty of them, with their arms and fourteen rounds of ball-cartridge each, commenced their march north-wards. On the men being missed, the greatest consternation ensued, and the most frightful apprehensions were entertained regarding the crimes likely to be perpetrated by the (supposed) savage mountaineers, on the peaceful inhabitants of English country-houses. Despatches were sent off to the officers commanding in the northern districts, and proclamations of various kinds were issued; among others, one offering a reward of forty shillings for every captured deserter. The little intercourse between different parts of the country, and the slow transmission of intelligence at the period, is remarkably exemplified by the fact that the first authentic news of the deserters did not reach London till the evening of the seventh day after their flight.
The retreat was conducted by a corporal, Samuel Macpherson, who exhibited considerable military skill and strategy. Marching generally by night, and keeping the line of country between the two great northern roads, they pushed forward with surprising celerity, carefully selecting strong natural positions for their resting-places. When marching by day, they directed their course from one wood or defensive position to another, rather than in a direct northern line-thus perplexing the authorities, who never knew where to look for the deserters, as scarcely two persons agreed when describing their line of march.
General Blakeney, who then commanded the north-eastern district, specially appointed Captain Ball, with a large body of cavalry, to intercept the Highlanders. On the evening of the 21st, Ball received intelligence that about three o'clock on the same day the fugitives had crossed the river Neu, near Wellingborough, in Northamptonshire. Conjecturing that they were making for Hutlandshire, he placed himself in an advantageous position at Uppingham, on the border of that county; Blakeney, with a strong force, being already posted at Stamford, on the border of Lincolnshire. But the Highlanders encamped for the night in a strong position on a hill surrounded by a dense wood, about four miles from Oundle, in Northamptonshire.
Early on the following morning, a country magistrate named Creed, hearing of the Highlanders' arrival in his neighbourhood, went to their camp, and endeavoured to persuade them to surrender. This they refused to do without a grant of pardon, which Creed could not give. After considerable discussion, both parties agreed to the following terms. Creed was to write to the Duke of Montague, Master-General of the Ordnance, stating that the deserters were willing to return to their duty on promise of a free pardon; they engaging to remain in the place they then occupied till a reply arrived from the duke; Creed also was to write to the military officer commanding in the district, desiring him not to molest the Highlanders until the duke's wishes were known. At five o'clock in the morning the letters were written by Creed, in the presence of the Highlanders, and immediately after despatched, by special messengers, to their respective destinations. In that to the military officer, Creed says, 'These Highlanders are a brave, bold sort of people, and are resolved not to submit till pardon comes down.'
In the meantime, a gamekeeper of Lord Gainsborough, having reported the position of the Highlanders to Captain Ball, that officer, arriving on the ground on the forenoon of the same day, demanded their immediate surrender. They replied that they were already in treaty with the civil authorities, and referred Captain Ball to Mr. Creed. At the same time they wrote the following letter to Mr. Creed, then attending church at Oundle:
Honoured Sir,-Just now came here a captain belonging to General Blakeney's regiment, and proposed to us to surrender to him, without regard to your honour's letter to the Duke of Montague, which we refused to do; wherefore he is gone for his squadron, and is immediately to fall on us. So that, if you think they can be kept off till the return of your letter, you'll be pleased to consider without loss of time.
With this letter they also sent a verbal message, stating that they were strongly posted, and resolved to die to a man, rather than surrender on any other terms than those they had already proposed. Creed replied, advising them to surrender, and offering his good offices in soliciting their pardon. Ball, finding the position of the deserters unassailable by cavalry, rested till the evening, when General Blakeney's forces arrived. The Highlanders then sent out a request for another interview with Ball, which was granted. He told them he could grant no other terms than an unconditional surrender. They replied that they preferred dying with arms in their hands. They took him into the wood, and showed him the great strength of their position, which, from Ball's military description, seems to have been one of those ancient British or Roman earth-works which still puzzle our antiquaries. They said they were soldiers, and would defend it to the last. Ball replied that he too was a soldier, and would kill the last, if it came to the arbitrament of arms. They then parted, a guard of the Highlanders leading Ball out of the wood. On their way, Ball, by offering an absolute pardon to the two by whom he was accompanied, succeeded in inducing them to return to their duty. One went with him to the general; the other, returning to the wood, prevailed upon a number of his comrades to submit also; these persuaded others, so that in the course of the night the whole number surrendered to General Blakeney.
As the Highlanders in their retreat conducted themselves in the most unexceptionable manner, none of the fearful anticipations respecting them were realized. So, on their surrender, the public fright resolved itself into the opposite extreme of public admiration. The flight of the deserters was compared to the retreat of the Ten Thousand; and Corporal Macpherson was regarded as a second Xenophon. But the stern exigencies of military discipline had to be satisfied. By sentence of a court-martial, two corporals, Macpherson and his brother, and one private named Shaw, were condemned to be shot. The execution took place on the 12th of July, a newspaper of the day tells that-'The rest of the Highlanders were drawn out to see the execution, and joined in prayer with great earnestness. The unfortunate men behaved with perfect resolution and propriety. Their bodies were put into three coffins by three of their clansmen and namesakes, and buried in one grave near the place of execution.'
General Stewart, in his Sketches of the Highlanders, says, 'There must have been something more than common in the case or character of these unfortunate men, as Lord John Murray, who was afterwards colonel of the regiment, had portraits of them hung up in his dining-room. I have not at present the means of ascertaining whether this proceeded from an impression on his lordship's mind that they had been victims to the designs of others, and ignorantly misled rather than wilfully culpable, or merely from a desire of preserving the resemblances of men who were remarkable for their size and handsome figure.'
Whatever stain may have been cast on the character of a brave and loyal regiment by this ill-judged affair, was soon after effectually washed away by their desperate courage on the sanguinary field of Fontenoy. One of Sempill's Highlanders, named Campbell, killed nine Frenchmen with his broadsword, and, while aiming a blow at a tenth, had his arm carried away by a cannon-ball. The Duke of Cumberland nominated him to a lieutenancy on the field; his portrait was engraved; and there was scarcely a village throughout England but had the walls of its cottages decorated with the representation of this warlike Celt. Sempill's regiment, losing its distinctive appellation about the middle of the last century, became the 42nd Highlanders, and as such can boast of laurels gained in every part of the globe where British valour and determination have stemmed and turned the headlong tide of battle.
On the 18th May 1778, a remarkable fete, known by the name of the Mischianza (Italian for a medley), took place in the city of Philadelphia. A British army, under General Sir William Howe had occupied the city as winter quarters for some months, while Washington lay with his shoeless army in a hutted camp a few miles off. The British troops had found the possession of Philadelphia barren of results, although they had friends in a portion of the population. Howe, disappointed, was about to retire from the command and go home. The army itself contemplated withdrawal, and did a month afterwards withdraw. It was, nevertheless, resolved to put a good face upon matters, and hold a festival, professedly in honour of the retiring general.
The affair took a character of romance and elegant gaiety from the genius of a young officer, named Andre. There was first a regatta on the river Delaware; then the main personages landed, and made a splendid procession for about a quarter of a mile to a piece of ground designed for the land fete. There a tournament took place between six knights of the Blended Rose on one side, and as many of the Burning Mountain on the other; all in fantastic silk dresses, with ribbons, devices, and mottoes, lances, shields, and pistols, each attended by his squire, and each professing to serve some particular lady of his love. Lord Cathcart, who acted as chief of the knights (and whom the writer remembers seeing thirty years afterwards in much soberer circumstances), rode at the head, with a squire on each hand; the device of his shield, a Cupid mounted on a lion, and professing to appear 'in honour of Miss Auchmuty.' One of the knights of the Blended Rose was the young Captain Andre, already alluded to, who stood forth for Miss P. Chew, with the device of two game cocks, and the motto, 'No Rival.' The first set of knights caused their herald to proclaim their intention to maintain by force of arms the supremacy of their ladies, in wit, beauty, and virtue; the herald of the other set responded with defiance, and they closed in mock fight, shivering lances, discharging pistols, and finally taking to their swords, until the Marshal of the Field, at the request of the ladies, ordered them to desist.
Then the gay party adjourned to a large and handsome house near by, where, in finely decorated rooms, they entered upon a series of dances. Afterwards, a pair of hitherto concealed doors being thrown open, they moved into a large pavilion laid out with an elegant supper. Fire-works completed this fantastic entertainment, the like of which had never before been seen on the west side of the Atlantic. A few days afterwards, General Howe withdrew to England, and three or four weeks later the English troops vacated Philadelphia.
The tragic fate which three years after befell the sprightly and ingenious Andre, the moving spirit of this show, gives it a sad interest. The writer, being not long ago in Philadelphia, sought out the scene of the fete, and with some difficulty found it, involved amidst the meaner details of that largely increased city. The house in which the ball and banquet took place appears as one which originally belonged to some opulent merchant, but is now sadly fallen from its once high estate, and used as a charity school. The spacious halls of the Mischianza we found rudely partitioned into smaller apartments for a variety of school classes. The walls, which were fantastically coloured for the ball, are now in a state of neglect. It was melancholy to tread the floors, and think of them as they were in May 1778, freighted with the festivity of gay, hopeful men and women, not one of whom is now in the land of the living.
DISRUPTION OF THE SCOTCH CHURCH, MAY 18, 1843
This was an event of very great moment in Scotland, and perhaps of more importance to the rest of the United Kingdom than the rest of the United Kingdom was aware of. It took its origin in a movement of zeal in the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, mainly promoted by Dr. Chalmers, and to which a stimulus was given by a movement in the Scotch dissenting bodies for putting an end to the connexion of church and state. Eager to show itself worthy of the status it enjoyed, and to obtain popular support, the church in 1834 passed a law of its own, ordaining that thenceforth no presentee to a parish church should be admitted or 'settled' (a duty of the presbytery of the district), if he was objected to by a majority of the male communicants of the congregation. This of course struck at the face of the system of patronage, long established-a system involving important civil rights. A presentee objected to next year claimed the protection of the civil courts, and had his claim allowed. The Veto law, as it was called, became a dead letter. It was after several years of vain struggling against the civil powers on points like this, that a large portion of the national clergy formed the resolution of withdrawing from an Establishment in which, as they held, 'Christ's sole and supreme authority as king in his church,' was dishonoured
When the annual convocation or assembly of the church was approaching in May 1843, it was generally understood that this schism was about to take place; but nearly all cool on-lookers fully assured themselves that a mere handful of clergy-men, chiefly those specially committed as leaders, would give up their comfortable stipends and manses, and all the other obvious advantages of their position. The result was such as to show that to judge of a probable course of action by a consideration of the grosser class of human motives only, is not invariably safe-on the contrary, may be widely wrong. The day of the meeting arrived. The assembly met in St. Andrew's Church, in Edinburgh, under its Moderator or President, Dr. Welsh, and with the usual sanctioning presence of the royal commissioner - an anomalous interference with the very principle concerned, which had been quietly submitted to by the church ever since the Revolution.
There was a brilliant assemblage of spectators within, and a vast crowd without, most of them prepared to see the miserable show of eight or ten men voluntarily sacrificing themselves to what was thought a fantastic principle. When the time came for making up the roll of the members, Dr. Welsh rose, and said that he must protest against further procedure, in consequence of proceedings affecting the rights of the church which had been sanctioned by her Majesty's government and by the legislature of the country. After reading a formal protest, he left his place and walked out of the church, followed first by Dr. Chalmers, then by other prominent men, afterwards by others, till the number amounted to four hundred; who then walked along the streets to another place of meeting, and constituted themselves into the Free Church of Scotland-free, as distinguished from one fettered by the state connexion.
There was of course general astonishment, mingled with some degree of consternation, at the magnitude of the separating body, indicating, as it did, something like the break-up of a venerable institution. But the full numbers of the seceding clergy were not yet ascertained; they reached four hundred and seventy, or not much less than a half of the entire body. It was a remarkable instance of the energy of religious (though, in the estimation of many, mistaken) principles, in an age of material things. When Lord Jeffrey was told, an hour after, what had taken place, he started up, exclaiming:
Thank God for my country; there is not another upon earth where such a deed could have been done!
Within four years the new church numbered 720 clergy, for whose subsistence a very fair provision was made by the contributions of their adherents; thus, by the way, proving the energy of that voluntary principle, to check which this movement had partly been made, and to which this sect still professed to be opposed. The real importance of the event lay in its taking away the support of a majority of the people from the Establishment, in one more of the three divisions of the empire.