Born: John Theophilus Fichte, German philosophical writer, 1762, Rammenau; Professor John Wilson, poet and miscellaneous writer, 1785, Paisley.
Died: Flaccus Alcuinus, learned theologian, 804, Tours; Anne Boleyn, queen of England, beheaded, 1536; John Bales, 'the ever memorable' scholar and critic, Eton; Adam Billaut, French poet, 1662; Thomas Gent, printer, of York, 1778; James Boswell, author of Life of Dr. Johnson, 1795; Charles James Apperley, writer on field sports, 1483.
Feast Day: St. Prudentiana, virgin, 1st century; St. Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, 988. St. Peter Celestine, Pope, 1296.
St. Dunstan was one of those men who stamp their own character on the age they live in. He was in every way a remarkable man. And, like most remarkable men, he has been unduly extolled on one hand, and vilified on the other. Monkish writers have embellished his life with a multitude of ridiculous, or worse than ridiculous miracles; and their opponents have represented him as ambitious, bigoted, and utterly unscrupulous as to means, so that he only gained his end.
In the following sketch we hope to keep clear of both these extremes, and present a truthful outline of the man.
Dunstan was born in the isle of Glastonbury, about the year 924 A.D. He was of noble, even royal descent. His father's name was Herstan, his mother's Cynedryda. Those who seek for the formation of character in first impressions derived from external objects, find them in this case in the scenery and local associations of his birthplace. Glastonbury was always esteemed a sacred spot. King Arthur, of imperishable memory, was buried there; and it was also believed that the remains of Joseph of Arimathea, and of St. Patrick, the apostle of Ireland, rested within its hallowed precincts. On account of the clearness of the waters by which it was surrounded, the ancient British named it Ynyswytryn, or the 'Glassy Island;' the Romans knew it as Avalonia; and the Saxons called it Glaestingabyrig. Whatever its natural charms may have been, they can surely never have equalled those with which the poet laureate has invested it, when he describes it as:
The island valley of Avilion,
Where falls not hail, nor rain, nor any snow,
Nor ever wind blows loudly; but it lies
Deep-meadowed, happy, fair, with orchard lawns,
And bowery hollows, crowned with summer sea.
Amid the scenery and associations of this favoured spot young Dunstan grew up, delicate in bodily health, but of prodigious mental powers. Ardent, and full of imagination, he aimed at everything, and easily accomplished nearly all he attempted. Besides Holy Scripture, the great divines of the church, poetry and history, he paid considerable attention to arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. He excelled in drawing and sculpture. He spent much of his time in writing and illuminating books; and he also worked in gold and silver, copper and iron. Instead of moderating his too eager pursuit of knowledge, his parents and tutors made the grand mistake of inciting him to still greater efforts. The result was a brain fever. At the crisis of the disease, when his friends gave him up for dead, there was an access of delirium, and eluding the vigilance of his nurse, he rushed out of the room and went to the church. It was night, and the doors were closed; but he madly mounted some scaffolding, and by a perilous descent made his way into the building, where he was found the next morning, uninjured, and in a placid sleep. This was, of course, ascribed to a miracle-a belief which was confirmed both in his own mind and in that of others when he related, what was evidently a delirious dream, that he had been pursued by demons in the shape of wild dogs.
When the fever left him, change of scene was recommended, and his high connexions procured his admission into the court of Athelstan. Here he soon became a favourite, especially with the ladies, who frequently consulted him about their embroidery, &c. But the favourite at court is sure to have enemies there too. Whispers were spread abroad that he had learned to practise heathen charms and magic. Instead of allaying these reports, he freely indulged his wonder-loving propensities, till he proceeded a step too far. On one occasion he was in the bower of the noble Lady Ethelwyne, tracing some patterns for her embroidery, when the tune and words of a well-known anthem were heard proceeding from his harp, which hung against the wall, no hand being near it. The matron and her maidens rushed out of the apartment, declaring that Dunstan was wiser than he ought to be. Their statement confirmed the suspicions already excited; and he was banished from the court. The cold water ordeal was one specially provided for witches and wizards; and certain youngsters at court saw no reason why Dunstan should escape it. It would, at least, satisfy some old grudges to see whether he would sink or float, and perhaps it might do something towards clearing his character. So after him they went, as he was riding mournfully away, overtook him, dragged him from his horse, threw him into a pond, and, when he had succeeded in crawling to the bank, set their dogs to chase him. This cruel treatment disordered his imagination, and he again fancied that the demons of hell were let loose upon him.
Mortified by these indignities, and nearly heartbroken at being driven away from his ladylove-for he had become deeply enamoured of a young lady while at court-he betook himself to his uncle, Elphege the Bald, then bishop of Winchester. Elphege was a fanatic, and a fanatic in those days was sure to be an enemy to the married state. He was aware of the genius and talents of Dunstan, and he determined to enlist them on the monastic side, and, if possible, to make a monk of him. A return of fever aided the otherwise inconclusive arguments of the prelate, and Dunstan, on his recovery, was ordained priest, and went to Fleury to learn the rule of St. Benedict, and conform to monastic discipline. He returned to Glastonbury an enthusiastic monk; for whatever he did, he did with all his might. He built himself a cell five feet long by two and a-half feet wide, and not more than breast-high above ground, which served him for study, dormitory, and workshop, and in which he lived as an anchorite. As he entered manhood, his natural passions gained strength, and a hard conflict with himself ensued. To escape from his thoughts, he almost destroyed himself with fasting and labouring at his forge.
Osbern relates a story of this period of his life which has become one of the best known of monkish legends. The devil used to annoy the young saint by paying him nocturnal visits in the form of a bear, a serpent, or other noxious animal; but one night, as he was hammering away at his forge, Satan came in a human form as a woman, and looking in at his window, began to tempt him with improper conversation. Dunstan bore it till he had heated his pincers sufficiently, and then, with the red-hot instrument, seized his visitor by the nose. So, at least, he is reported to have told his neighbours in the morning, when they inquired what those horrible cries were which startled them from their sleep.
On the death of Athelstan, the new king, Edmund, recalled Dunstan to the court, made him abbot of the royal monastery of Glastonbury, and one of his counsellors. Having about this time inherited an ample fortune, he rebuilt and endowed the church, surrounded it with conventual buildings, introduced the Benedictine rule, and raised his favourite monastery to the rank of the first great public school in England during the rest of the Anglo-Saxon period. One great object of Dunstan's after life was to establish the Benedictine rule in all other monasteries in this country; and he succeeded so far as to be considered the father of the English Benedictines. His rule became the rule of the country.
Under Edred his power and influence were greatly increased. He was the personal friend of the king as well as his minister. And during the long illness with which he was afflicted, Dunstan not only conversed and prayed with him, but managed to convert his palace into a school of virtue. In fact, during this reign all real power was in the hands of Dunstan. Both the king and the Archbishop of Canterbury were governed by his superior mind. There could, therefore, be no temptation for him to leave the court; and when offered the bishopric of Winchester, and pressed by the king's mother to accept it, he could reply in all sincerity, 'Most assuredly the episcopal mitre shall never cover my brows while thy son liveth.'
A change of fortune came with the accession of Edwy. The young king, though only sixteen years old, was married to the beautiful Elgiva. On his coronation day he rose from the table after dinner, leaving his guests over their cups, and went into an inner apartment to his wife and her mother. This gave offence to the nobles, and Odo desired that some persons would go and bring the king back. Dunstan and one of his kinsmen under-took this rude commission; and instead of persuading, they actually dragged the king back into the Mead-hall by force. Edwy, justly offended, called the minister to account for the public money committed to his care during the previous reign; and as this was not done to his satisfaction, he deprived him of his honours, confiscated his property, and banished him from the kingdom. This was such a triumph for the devil, that he was heard laughing and exulting over the saint's departure; but Dunstan told him to moderate his joy, for his discomfiture would be as great at his return!-at least, so we read.
Edgar was shortly afterwards proclaimed king, and Dunstan returned in triumph. He was now made bishop of both Worcester and London, and still retained the abbey of Glastonbury. Shortly after he became Archbishop of Canterbury. In this position he was neither more nor less than an ecclesiastical statesman. He was the minister of Edgar, and though the king reigned, it was Dunstan who ruled. Clerical and monastic discipline were reformed by him. He encouraged the king to make royal progresses through the land, which brought him and his people together, and facilitated the administration of justice.
A splendid navy was also established and maintained in a state of efficiency through his instrumentality, and several public works were executed. Edgar was a most licentious wretch, and there can be little doubt that the archbishop connived at many of his disgraceful acts. At last, however, he went so far as to violate the sanctity of a convent. This raised an outcry. Dunstan was obliged to inflict a penance; and the king became more guarded in his amours for the future. Dr. Hook sums up the result of Dunstan's administration as follows:
Northumbria was divided into earldoms instead of kingdoms; the Danes were either subdued or conciliated; the sovereignty of the Anglo-Saxon king over the Scots was established; the navy was placed in such a state of efficiency that no enemy ventured to attack the coast; English pirates, who had infested our ports, were re-strained and punished; while at home, trade was encouraged, family feuds were suppressed, and men were compelled, instead of taking the law into their own hands, to submit the decision of their quarrels to the magistrates. Regular circuits were established for the administration of justice, forming a court of appeal from the inferior judges. Standard measures were made and deposited at Winchester. Steps were taken to annihilate the wolves which still abounded in the country. Even to trivial matters could the mind of Dunstan descend; finding that quarrels very frequently arose in taverns, from disputes among the topers about their share of the liquor when they drank out of the same cup, he advised Edgar to order gold or silver pegs to be fastened in the pots, that whilst every man knew his just measure, shame should compel each to confine himself to his proper share.' Hence the expression, 'a peg too low.'
A reaction on behalf of the married clergy now commenced, and gathered strength; and although Dunstan remained minister of the crown under Edgar, his power was effectually shaken. Two circumstances took place about this time, which brought considerable disgrace on his name. At a council held at Winchester, the advocates of the regular clergy were getting the best of the argument, and beginning to demand the restitution of their benefices which had been taken from them, when a voice was heard as if proceeding from a crucifix on the wall, saying, 'Let it not be! let it not be! you have done well, and would do ill to change it.' The regulars, however, suspected trickery, and were not to be silenced so easily. A second meeting was held without effecting anything.
A third was then called at Calne, in Wiltshire (A.D. 978), which was held, not in the open air, as was usual with the Anglo-Saxons, but in the upper room of a house. Another suspicious circumstance was, that the king, who had been present at both the previous councils, was kept away from this. When it came to Dunstan's turn to reply to the arguments of his adversaries, instead of doing so, he professed to commit his cause to Christ as judge, and immediately the floor of the room gave way, and all except the archbishop and his friends were precipitated to the floor beneath. Some were killed and some escaped. The populace sided with the Dunstanites, and it was supposed that the question was now settled by a miracle. This 'arch miracle-monger,' as Southey styles him, lived ten years after these exploits, to enjoy his victory and to establish his reforms. His death, like his life, was a scene of miracles. He expired in all the odour of monastic sanctity, on the 19th of May, in the year 988, and was buried in Canterbury cathedral.
Alcuin was one of the most remarkable Anglo-Saxons of the eighth century. He was born of noble and wealthy parents, at York, about the year 735, and was from his infancy dedicated to the church. York was at this period the great seat of learning among the Anglo-Saxons, and in the school of the celebrated Archbishop Egbert, Alcuin made such progress that he was subsequently appointed to the mastership, and became hardly less celebrated than his predecessor; and was on more than one occasion sent on important ecclesiastical missions to Rome, which made him early acquainted with the continent. It was on the second of these visits, in the year 781, that he met Charlemagne, who was then meditating great intellectual reforms in his kingdom, and who soon formed for the Anglo-Saxon ecclesiastic a warm attachment. In 782, at Charlemagne's earnest desire, having obtained the consent of his spiritual and temporal superiors, Eanbald, Archbishop of York, and Alfwold, King of Northumbria, Alcuin left England to settle in France.
He was received in the Frankish court as Charlemagne's friend and counsellor, as the companion of his private hours, and the instructor of his children; and the revenues of the two monasteries of Ferrieres and St. Lupus, at Troyes, were assigned to him for his income. About the year 790, he obtained the Emperor's reluctant consent to visit his native land, and that only on the condition that heshould return to France without delay. He had now, indeed, become an almost necessary minister of the great monarch, for he was a chief adviser in the plans of national instruction which had so great an influence on the civilization of Europe during the middle ages. He came in the character of ambassador from Charlemagne to King Offa, the great monarch of the Mercians, and remained till 792, when he left his native country for the last time, accompanied by a number of the Anglo-Saxon ecclesiastics.
Charlemagne had collected round him at this time an intellectual circle, which, by its refined learning and its philosophical spirit, reminds us almost of the intercourse of the philosophers and scholars of ancient Greece and Rome. Those who were admitted into this society assumed literary names and surnames in their intercourse and correspondence. Thus Charlemagne himself was called David; Alcuin assumed the name of Flaccus Albinus; Angilbert, another of the most distinguished men of this circle, took that of Homarus; and Riculf, Archbishop of Mentz, was named Damotas. Under these names, when assembled together, they no doubt laid aside all the pomp of worldly dignity, and conversed together on an equality of intellectual enjoyment, enlivened by wit as well as learning; and this spirit is reflected in many of the letters preserved among Alcuin's correspondence. Such a club appears as a bright light in the midst of the darkness of these remote ages.
When he was probably rather more than sixty years of age, Alcuin again formed the design of returning to his native country; but his departure was prevented by the news of great troubles and revolutions in the kingdom of Northumbria, and he gave up all intention of quitting France. He died at Tours, in the abbey of St Martin, of which he was abbot, on the 19th of May 804. Alcuin left many works, which were highly esteemed in the middle ages, and most of them have been printed. The most interesting to modern readers are his epistles, which furnish us with many details of his life and thoughts, and throw no little light on the history and condition of his time.
The unhappy fate of Anne Boleyn has been celebrated in the popular histories of England, as that of an innocent woman sacrificed by her husband for the sake of a new affection. And to the acceptance of this view of her character and history, it can scarcely be doubted that her connection with the advance of the Protestant cause has largely conduced: it had become, as it were, a point of faith among the friends of the reformed religion, to suppose only what was favourable of the lovely woman from whose bright eyes the light of truth had first shone. We may attribute even more importance to the influence exercised by the popular veneration in which the unfortunate queen's daughter, Elizabeth, was held, and the necessity felt for upholding the idea of her legitimacy against the views of the Roman Catholics. During the reign of the Virgin Queen, when Protestantism had such a struggle with its antagonists, it became a political point of the greatest consequence to assert the innocence of Anne Boleyn, because on that, to some degree, depended the soundness of the queen's pretentions to the throne.
In our age, there is no consideration of any kind to interfere with a true verdict regarding Anne Boleyn. A modern historian may discuss the question, if he pleases, in an impartial spirit, without fear of blame from any quarter. We find that Mr. Fronde, in his History of England under the Reign of Henry VIII, makes what he believes to be an effort to this effect, but perhaps not quite with success.
During seven years, while Henry was endeavouring to get quit of his first queen, Catherine of Aragon, on the shewing that his union with her was illegal, as she had previously been the wife of his brother, Anne Boleyn allowed herself to be entertained as a queen-elect in the royal household. There is presumably no guilt connected with her position there; but it argued a want of delicacy and just feeling on her part. At length the king wedded her in a private manner, and her coronation was soon after celebrated with extraordinary magnificence, as if to make up for any flaw that might be thought to derogate from her state as queen-consort.
In due time Anne gave birth to a daughter, afterwards the famous Queen Elizabeth, and for two years and a half more she and her husband appeared to live in harmony. At length in April 1536, Henry professed to be troubled in mind by various rumours which had reached him regarding his wife. By his orders, four gentlemen of the court were arrested as having been guilty of adultery with the queen. Afterwards the queen's brother, Lord Rochfort, was put in custody on the same charge, to which, of course, his relationship gave a deeper hue. From the first, one of the four gentlemen, Smeton, a musician, confessed the truth of the charge.
Mr. Fronde shews, very conclusively, that the trials of the alleged participants in criminality, and of the queen, were conducted with even an unusual degree of solemnity and care. The special commission which first acted in that business was composed of the most respectable men connected with the administration, and it included the queen's father and uncle. The indictment found by the grand jury of Middlesex made no vague charges, but indicated certain days on which the offences were alleged to have been committed. The queen and her brother Rochfort were tried before twenty-seven of the peers of highest character in the realm. Unfortunately, the proceedings on the trials have not been preserved, but Mr. Froude sees no reason to doubt that they were perfectly fair. Smeton, the musician, as before, admitted his guilt; the three commoners, his companions, were found guilty by the jury; and all were condemned to die the death of traitors.
Anne and her brother were, in succession, found guilty by the House of Peers, and adjudged to die. 'We can form no estimate of the evidence,' says Mr. Fronde, 'for we do not know what it was. . . . But the fact remains to us, that these twenty-seven peers, who were not ignorant, as we are, but were fully acquainted with the grounds of the prosecution, did deliberately, after hearing the queen's defence, pronounce against her a unanimous verdict. . . Men of all parties united in the sentence.' Including the grand jury, the petty jury, and the twenty-seven peers, 'we have,' says Mr. Fronde, 'the judicial verdict of more than seventy noblemen and gentlemen, no one of whom had any interest in the deaths of the accused, and some of whom had interests the most tender in their acquittal; we have the assent of the judges who sat on the commission, and who passed sentence after full opportunities of examination, with all the evidence before their eyes.' Our author also states, that none of the male convicts denied, while several acknowledged their guilt on the scaffold. The queen, indeed, denied her guilt; and Mr. Fronde admits its 'antecedent improbability.' On the other hand, 'we have also the improbability, which is great, that the king, now forty-four years old, who in his earlier years had been distinguished for the absence of those vices in which contemporary princes indulged themselves, in wanton weariness of a woman for whom he had revolutionised the kingdom, and quarrelled with half Christendom, suddenly resolved to murder her.' Mr. Froude further remarks the full approval given to the sentence on Anne and her paramours by parliament, the month after the execution, a fact to which he attaches great importance.
After all, however, the question of the criminality of the queen must be held as matter of doubt. It looks ill for the theory of Henry's belief in Anne's guilt, that, the very day after her death in the Tower green, he married Jane Seymour. We must also remember, that to get rid of one wife in order to obtain another, does not stand solitary in the history of King Henry. On the whole, it seems most probable that the poor queen had been simply imprudent in speaking with levity to those young courtiers, and that their confessions referred merely to gay and licentious talk, in which they had indulged in compliance with the lady's humours. The complaisance of ministers, courtiers, parliaments, and even judges to the imperious Tudor sovereigns, scarcely needs to be pointed out by us.
Boswell gets but hard measure from the world. We owe to him the best, because the most complete, account of a human being in short, the best piece of biography-that the world possesses; and yet he is seldom respectfully spoken of. Even the completeness of the life of Johnson, proceeding as it does from his extreme veneration for the man, stands as a fact rather against than for him. True, Boswell did not exhibit in life many solid qualities; he failed in his profession as a counsel, both in his own country and in London; and he clouded his latter days and cut them short by dissipation. Surely many estimable men have done no better. True, also, he was vain, fickle, frivolous, to some extent; but have not many been so without forfeiting the regard of those who knew them? Perhaps the best defence that can be made for Boswell is to cite the regard in which he was held by his contemporaries-Johnson, above all. Invariable tradition represents him as the most pleasant of all pleasant companions. His high spirits, his drollery, his pure self-revealing simplicity, made him the delight of his friends. Surely, if a man had these good qualities, was at the same time honourable in his social and domestic relations, and possessed of the literary power and industry required for such a book as the Life of Johnson, he could not be quite a despicable being.
It is little known that Boswell occasionally wooed the Muses. The following is a song which he composed to an Irish air, in celebration of one of his many youthful love-affairs, and which can scarcely be said to have been published.
Oh, Larghan Clanbrassil, how sweet is thy sound,
To my tender remembrance, as Love's sacred ground:
For there Marg'ret Caroline first charmed my sight,
And filled my young heart with a fluttering delight.
When I thought her my own, ah! too short seemed the day
For a jaunt to Downpatrick, or a trip on the sea;
To express what I felt then, all language were vain
'Twas in truth what the poets have studied to feign.
But too late I found even she could deceive,
And nothing was left but to weep and to rave;
Distracted' fled from my dear native shore,
Resolved to see Larghan Clanbrassil no more.
Yet still, in some moments enchanted,
I find A ray of her softness beam soft on my mind;
While thus in blest fancy my angel I see,
All the world is a Larghan Clanbrassil to me.
OPENING OF THE CANAL OF LANGUEDOC
In the reign of Louis XIV, long before any canal had been even projected in England, a noble one was executed in France, the famous canal of Languedoc, connecting the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. The obvious utility of such a communication had caused it to be projected so long ago as the reign of Francis I; but it was reserved for that of Louis XIV to see it effected. The difficulties overcome were prodigious. The meritorious engineer, Riquetti, unfortunately did not live to see his work completed; but his place was supplied by his two sons, and the opening-a great day for France-took place on the 19th of May 1681. The effect of this canal in promoting agriculture, commerce, and the arts, in the south of France, has been very marked, and as universally admitted.
DELUSIONS OF JOHN MASON
May 19, 1691, died John Mason, rector of Water Stratford, in Buckinghamshire; a strange offshoot of the religious fervours of the seventeenth century. He is allowed to have shown in his earlier days both learning and abilities, and the simplicity of his character was never doubted. Through some cause, however, which has not been clearly stated, Mason fell into that condition, so apt to beset persons who allow their religious practice to press upon their bodily health, in which the patient (as he may well be called) is visited with apparent messages and addresses from a higher world. All that we learn on this subject is that he had given himself up to 'Calvinistic and millenary notions;' but this alone would scarcely account for the results.
It became Mason's conviction that he was the Elias appointed to proclaim the second advent. Equally assured was he that the Saviour, at his re-descension upon earth, would commence his reign at Water Stratford. He promulgated his beliefs, probably in a style calculated to impress the vulgar, and in a short time his own delusion spread to others. Crowds of people, forsaking their homes, came to reside near him; many sold their estates, or what else they had, in order to take up their quarters at Water Stratford. Every house and every out-house in that parish was filled to overflowing with these misled people, among whom community of goods prevailed, even to a point outraging decency.
Browne Willis, the antiquary, anxious to have a correct notice of this delusion in his History of Buckinghamshire, wrote to a friend living near Mason's parish for full particulars. In reply, his friend, from his own and his mother's knowledge, gave him a minute account, from which the following is an extract:
They went out most evenings into the fields and sung their hymns. My grandfather and mother went out to see them. The first object they met with was a countryman who lay on his face in Water Stratford churchyard, who was quite tired with singing, and when turned on his back was speechless, but came to himself. Then they went into the parsonage-house, and there was a congregation walking round the hall in. a ring, making a most prodigious noise, and all of them crying out, 'Glory! Glory! Glory!' and all in a sweat, and looking as if they were mad. My mother told them she thought theirs was an odd way of serving God, and wished they were not mad. At which they all stood still, with their mouths open, and stared fiercely on her, but said nothing; and she verily believes, if my grandfather and another gentleman had not been with her, with their swords by their side, they would have served her as they did Mrs. Lisle, of Imley, whose head-clothes they pulled off, and cried, 'Avoid Satan!' Then my mother said, 'Poor deluded people! I am sorry for you. I wish I could speak with Mr. Mason.' Then one of their women went upstairs, and brought down word that Mr. Mason was not to be seen or spoke with. Some time after this came the then Duke of Richmond, and a great many more noble persons, who, though denied access to him, forced their way up to him, and talked to him a good deal. And amongst other things he told them he had seen our Lord Christ in the room whore they were then, with his fleshly eyes, and spoke to Him with his fleshly tongue; and that our Lord Christ told him. He would come and appeal' in the air over Water Strafford, and judge The world on Whit Sunday following.
After this he looked out of his chamber window, and said the same things to the multitude that stood underneath.
After this he was struck speechless, which was occasioned (as is supposed) by over talking himself; on which Dr. Paxton (a very eminent physician) was sent for from Buckingham, who came from visiting Mr. Mason to our house, and told my father and mother that Mr. Mason's ail was a squinacy, and that he would not recover; and he accordingly died of it. He (Mr Mason) told his auditory when he was alive, that he should rise the third day after his decease, and with his body ascend into heaven. He was buried before the third day; and several of his people averring that they had seen him and spoke to him after his resurrection, on a piece of ground close behind the parsonage-house, which they called Holy Ground, his successor, Mr. Rushworth, thought proper to take his body up, and had the coffin opened, and showed them the corpse. But this did not satisfy them. Still they would meet on Holy Ground, as they called it, and did so for sundry years; and when Mr. Rushworth discharged them from coming there, they assembled in a house at Water Stratford. In the year 1710 (sixteen years after Mason's death), one Sunday my mother and a neighbouring lady went and saw them there, and they sung the same hymns, and made the same noise, and went round in a ring as they used to do.
Never was there,' says Granger, 'a scene of more frantic joy, expressed by singing, fiddling, dancing, and all the wildness of enthusiastic gestures and rapturous vociferations, than was seen at Stratford. Every vagabond and village fiddler that could be procured bore a part in the rude concert at this tumultuous jubilee.
MARSHAL SOULT'S PICTURES
On the 19th May 1852, began at Paris a sale of the pictures which had belonged to the deceased Marshal Sault. The prices realized for some of the articles were of unprecedented liberality. On the first day, three pieces by Murillo were disposed of, the 'Jesus and Child,' at 63,000 francs (£2,520); 'St. Peter in Bonds,' at 151,000 francs (£6,040); and the Conception of the Virgin,' at the astounding price of 586,000 francs, which is equivalent to £23,440 sterling. The sums obtained for various articles on the ensuing days were on the same prodigious scale. It is understood that all Sonit's valuable pictures were the plunder of Spanish convents, ruined during his occupation of the country. It was a brave show and enviable possession, but it was not without some accompanying qualms. When the Republic was established in the spring of 1848, the wary old soldier became nervous about these interesting pictures, lest, in some democratic freak, they should be reclaimed. He accordingly had them all quietly removed to Brussels, where they found an obscure, though temporary resting-place, in a gentleman's stable. At that crisis, many of them were offered in England at sums comparatively moderate, but not purchased; the 'Conception of the Virgin,' for instance, which brought £23, 440 in 1852, might then have been had at £6,000.