20th September

Born: Alexander the Great, Macedonian conqueror, 356 B.C., Pella; Emperor Antoninus Pius, 86 A.D.; Prince Arthur, elder brother of Henry VIII, 1486, Winchester; Maria Paulina Bonaparte, sister of Napoleon, 1780, Ajaccio.

Died: Lucius Crassus, orator, 91 B.C., Rome; Owen Glendower, Welsh patriot, 1415, Monnington; John Gruter, eminent scholar and critic, 1527, Heidelberg; Jerome Cardan, physician, 1576; Lucius Carey, Lord Falkland, royalist statesman, killed at Newbury, 1643; John Gauden, bishop of Worcester, supposed author of the Icon Basiliké, 1662; Charles VI, emperor of Germany, 1740, Vienna; William Hutton, self-taught man, and miscellaneous writer, 1815, Birmingham; Dr. Jose Gaspar Rodriguez Francia, dictator of Paraguay, 1840; William Finden, engraver, 1852.

Feast Day: St. Eustachius and companions, martyrs, 2nd century. St. Agapetus, pope and confessor, 536.


This celebrated chieftain, the Paladin of Welsh nationality, forms a prominent character during the reign of Henry IV, and has been immortalised by Shakspeare, in his play of that name. The injury inflicted on him by Lord Grey de Ruthyn, who treacherously maligned him to the king, and afterwards, under pretext of forfeiture, took possession of his lands, first prompted Glendower to seek, by force of arms, the redress denied him by the English government. Claiming to be the representative of the ancient Welsh kings, through his mother, who was lineally descended from Llewelyn, the last of these princes, he asserted his right to the crown of the principality, and, about 1400, raised the standard of insurrection. Among his own countrymen he enjoyed an unbounded influence, both from his enterprising and energetic character, and the reputation of possessing super-natural powers. This latter attribute our readers will remember is forcibly made use of by Shakspeare, in the discussion which he represents as taking place between Glendower and Hotspur:

Glend: 'I can call spirits from the vasty deep.'
Hotspur: 'Why, so can I, or so can any man; But will they come, when you do call for them?'
Glend: 'Why, I can teach thee, cousin, to command the devil.'
Hotspur: 'And I can teach thee, coz, to shame the devil, By telling truth; tell truth, and shame the devil.'

For some years, fortune favoured Glendower's arms, and having taken prisoner his enemy Lord Grey, he compelled him to ransom himself by the payment of a large sum of money, and give one of his daughters in marriage to his captor. A complaint was made by the English House of Commons, that the Welsh scholars had left the universities, and Welsh labourers, their masters, to join in the rebellion at home.

With Sir Edmund Mortimer and the Northumbrian Percies, Glendower formed a close alliance, and so sanguine were the expectations of the confederacy, that they formally partitioned among themselves the whole dominions of Henry IV, the country to the west of the Severn being assigned as the share of the Welsh champion. After the battle of Shrewsbury, however, in which his allies, the Percies, were overthrown, his star of success appears to have waned, and having sustained two signal defeats in 1405, he was compelled for a time to wander up and down the country, with a few faithful followers, concealing himself in remote and untravelled districts. One of his places of refuge, a cave in Merionethshire, is known to this day, by the name of Ogof Owain or Owen's Cave. From this retreat he emerged to appear again at the head of an army, and being joined by a large body of French troops, whose king had formed an alliance with the Welsh insurgents, he made a devastating march through Glamorganshire, and advanced as far as the environs of Worcester. Here, he took up a strong position, and maintained for three days a succession of skirmishes with the royal troops, but was at last obliged, from want of supplies, to retire with his allies into Wales. No further enterprise of any importance was from this time attempted by him, but to the close of his life, he continued to harass the English by predatory incursions from the mountain-fastnesses.

In the reign of Henry V, an offer of pardon was made by the king to Glendower and his followers, and negotiations were accordingly entered into, to be interrupted by the death of the aged chief; he expired peacefully on 20th September 1415, at the house of one of his daughters. A tombstone, but without any inscription, in the churchyard of Monnington-on-Wye, is said to mark his place of sepulture.

The very name of Glendower has a romantic interest attached to it, and we would gladly attribute to its owner all the shining qualities of a hero and patriot. Yet truth compels us to state, that, though. brave, active, and vigilant, Glendower is charged with both cruelty and rapacity. The portrait of him, engraved in the Archaeologia from his great seal, represents a man of majestic and intellectual mien, such as is generally attributed to those destined by nature to the leadership of their fellows.


One of the most voluminous authors that ever wrote, perhaps the ablest physician of his day, and certainly a man of the most decided and versatile genius, Jerome Cardan, or to designate him more properly by his Italian name, Girolamo Cardano, presents, in his singular history, a curious epitome of the sixteenth century, its eccentricities, energies; and modes of thought. The natural son of an eminent jurisconsult of Milan, he found himself thrown on the world as a waif and vagabond, and for many long and weary years had to battle with it in that character, though he ultimately succeeded in winning for himself a place amid the most favoured of its children.

Few men who have risen to eminence and distinction, have had so protracted a period of probation as Cardan, or exhibited such perseverance and tenacity of purpose in prosecution of the fame to which they believed themselves destined. Though regularly educated at the universities of Pavia and Padua, his stain of illegitimacy prevented his admission as a member of the Milanese College of Physicians; and it was not till after he had gained, by his literary and medical abilities, some powerful friends, that he was enabled by their aid to force his entrance into that learned body.

The appointment of professor of medicine at the university of Pavia, with a salary of two 'hundred and forty, afterwards raised to four hundred gold crowns, followed shortly after this victory, and from this time fortune may be said to have smiled. on Cardan. His fame as a physician diffused itself not only over Italy, but throughout Europe. Pope Paul III. offered him a handsome pension if he would enter his service, and a proffer of an annual stipend of eight hundred crowns, with the maintenance of his household, was forwarded to him by the king of Denmark; but with neither of these invitations would he accord compliance, the uncertainty of the papal tenure of office, and the cold and moist climate of Scandinavia, being both insuperable objections. To another offer, however, which he received, he lent a more ready ear, and the journey which he undertook in consequence forms, to a Briton, more especially, one of the most curious episodes in the life of the Italian physician.

In the middle of the sixteenth century, the regency of the kingdom of Scotland was held by James Hamilton, Earl of Arran, whose weak and vacillating disposition was very markedly controlled by his more decided and energetic brother John, abbot of Paisley, and afterwards archbishop of St. Andrews. The health of the latter, whose course of life was by no means consonant to his ecclesiastical character, had for some years been in a declining condition, and he laboured under a 'periodic asthma.'

Benefiting apparently little by the ministration of his own physician, William Cassanate, a Frenchman, of Spanish extraction, settled in Edinburgh, Hamilton was recommended to consult the famous Garden, who had now quitted Pavia for Milan. The suggestion was readily accepted by the archbishop, and a flattering letter was forth-with despatched by Cassanate to Italy, in which he besought Cardan to travel to Paris or at least to Lyon, where he would be met by Archbishop Hamilton, who had resolved to make this journey for the sake of his health. Such an invitation happened to fall in with Jerome's humour at the time, and he returned a favourable reply. The sum of two hundred crowns was paid him, in name of travelling expenses, by the archbishop's messenger, and on 23rd February 1552, he started on his journey across the Alps, taking the Simplon Pass into Switzerland, and proceeding from thence through Geneva to Lyon. At the latter town, he expected to meet either the archbishop or his physician, but neither made appearance, and he remained upwards of a month in the place, where he reaped a golden harvest from the exercise of his profession of the healing art, nobles and distinguished persons eagerly pressing to him to avail themselves of his services. At last Cassanate arrived, bearing a letter from Archbishop Hamilton, in which that prelate, after apologising for his inability from cares of church and state to visit France at present, besought the learned Cardanus to give him the benefit of his professional skill, by extending his journey to Scotland. He further intimated that Cassanate would provide him with a safe-conduct, and also give him the security of any banker in Milan, for such suitable remuneration as might be agreed on.

It was not without considerable difficulty that Cardan was prevailed on to enter on this new undertaking, as he entertained the perfectly natural belief that the archbishop had inveigled him so far on the way, knowing well that he would have absolutely refused to visit Scotland had he been invited to do so at Milan. However, a reluctant consent was at last given, and after receiving an additional guerdon of three hundred crowns, Cardan and Cassanate set out together on their journey northward. Having arrived at Paris, the travellers made a stay of a few weeks, during which the most flattering attentions were paid to Cardan, including a request from Henry II that he would take up his abode with him as court-physician, but the Milanese professor declined thus to expatriate himself. In like manner as he had practised at Lyon, however, he held numerous and crowded levees of patients, and realised large sums of money in shape of fees. Towards the end of May, he and Cassanate quitted Paris, a place of which Cardan seems to have carried away no exalted opinion in point of cleanliness and salubrity. He suggests sarcastically, indeed, that its ancient name, Lutetia, may have been derived from the dirt (lutum) which formed, in his opinion, one of the leading characteristics of the place. They then proceeded down the Seine to Rouen, of which our physician speaks in the most eulogistic terms, and from thence journeyed to Boulogne and Calais, where they took ship for London, and arrived there on 3rd June. After a rest in the English metropolis of three days, they set out on their overland journey to Edinburgh, which they reached at the end of twenty-three days.

From the end of June to the middle of September, Cardan remained in Edinburgh in attendance on Archbishop Hamilton, who seems to have benefited greatly by the prescriptions of his Italian doctor. A full account has been left us by the latter of the remedies employed and the regimen prescribed for his distinguished patient, much of which seems sufficiently absurd at the present day, but is, nevertheless, accompanied by numerous sensible and judicious injunctions. Among these were recommendations to use frequently the cold bath (the water to be poured from a pail or pitcher over the archiepiscopal head and shoulders), feather-beds and pillows to be avoided, a sufficient amount of sleep to be taken, moderation and regularity to be observed as regards meals, and the mind to be kept free from harassing cares.

So sensible was Hamilton of the benefits which he had received from this treatment, that he would gladly have detained. Cardan for a much longer period.; but the latter was inexorable, being both impatient to return to his country and family, and unwilling to face the inclement skies of a Scottish winter. He, accordingly, quitted Edinburgh for London, after receiving from the archbishop the princely remuneration of eighteen hundred gold crowns, of which four hundred went to Cardan's attendants.

The subsequent history of the prelate, to whom a renewed lease of life had thus been granted, is well known to all readers of Scottish history. After endeavouring ineffectually to avert the change in religion and ecclesiastical establishments which shortly afterwards took place in the country, he became, on the arrival of Queen Mary in Scotland, one of her most favoured counsellors; and on her deposition and subsequent confinement in Loch Leven, an active member of that party which sought to reinstate her on the throne. Doomed to see all his hopes disappointed, he took refuge in Dumbarton Castle, and on the capture of that fortress by the government forces in 1571, was tried and condemned on the charge, among others, of participating in the murder of the Regent Murray. In prusuance of this sentence, Hamilton was ignominiously hanged in his pontifical robes on the common gibbet at Stirling, being both the last Roman Catholic primate of Scotland, and the first of its prelates to suffer capital punishment.

In passing through London on his return home, Cardan was summoned to attend the young king, Edward VI, then in a declining state of health, and who fell a victim to consumption in the ensuing summer. He had several interviews and conversations with the youthful sovereign, whose generally received reputation for distinguished abilities and goodness of heart he amply confirms. Probably he foresaw that Edward's life must ere long come to a termination, but to have expressed any opinion to that effect would have been both perilous to himself and cruel towards the amiable prince. After a short stay in London, he proceeded to Dover, crossed over from thence into Belgium, and passing through the Low Countries, reached Cologne, from which he sailed up the Rhine to Strasburg and Basel. He then continued his journey through Switzerland, crossed the Alps, and re-entered Milan, on 3rd January 1553, after an absence of nearly a year.

The sunshine of prosperity continued for several years to beam on Cardan, but his latter clays were embittered by a terrible calamity. Gianbatista, his eldest son, had married a worthless girl, and thereby occasioned his father the most poignant sorrow; but the indignation which he expressed at the event gradually relented, and he allowed the disreputable couple a maintenance. Soon fearful quarrels arose between husband and wife, the latter of whom did not scruple to glory in her infidelities, and thereby roused the implacable resentment of Gianbatista, who conceived the design of poisoning her, and effected it through the medium of a cake. His wife died, and thereupon he and his brother Aldo were arrested as her murderers. As regarded the latter, the charge was abandoned, but the proofs of Gianbatista's criminality were strong, and not-withstanding all the efforts of his father to save him, he was condemned, and put to death in prison at the early age of twenty-six.

Desolation and misery were now the portion of Cardan. The disgrace which had fallen on his house told even on his worldly fortunes, and, afflicted and depressed, he accepted a professorship in the university of Bologna; after residing in which town for several years, he was thrown into 'prison in 1570 on the charge of impiety, but was liberated after a detention of eighty-six days, the condition of his release being that he should publish no more books. At this time, he resigned his chair by the advice of his friends, who obtained for him a pension from Pope Pius V. On this arrangement being made, he left Bologna for Rome, where the remaining six years of his life were spent. He died on 20th September 1576, at the age of seventy-five, his birth having been on 24th September 1501.

Throughout life, Cardan never enjoyed robust health, but his literary activity was excessive, and it is said that he left behind him no less than one hundred and thirty-one printed works and one hundred and eleven in manuscript, besides having written a large amount of matter which he had committed to the flames. Among his productions may be mentioned De Maio Recentiorum Medicorum Medendi usu (On the Bad Practice of the Healing Art among Modern Physicians), which, as might be expected, occasioned a tremendous outcry from the profession against its author; his philosophical books on Wisdom and Consolation; his Practice of Arithmetic; and his Algebra. Of all his works, the last has tended most to perpetuate his fame, being the first in which the whole doctrine of cubic equations was given to the world, and which also made known for the first time some most important rules and principles.

The value of his contributions to mathematical science is still recognised, but most of his disquisitions on medicine and philosophy, which excited such attention in his own day, have long ago been completely forgotten. Of his personal character, it is not possible to speak very favourably, as he seems to have been loose in morals, and to have been imbued to an ample extent with all the objectionable tendencies of his time. But he appears to have been a kind and affectionate husband and parent, and a genial and agreeable companion, though his manners, like his person, are said to have been unprepossessing. Considering the misfortune of his birth, the defects of his education, and the period in which he lived, we may fairly give our tribute of admiration to his undoubted genius; and while making the most of the good points, cast the mantle of charity over the defects in the character of Jerome Cardan.


Pepys, in a letter to Mrs. Steward, dated September 20th, 1695, notes that the extreme depression of the London public at that time, under a grievous war and heavy losses at sea, was enlivened by an extraordinary occurrence in connection with Christ's Hospital (the Blue-Coat School). Two wealthy citizens, lately deceased, had left their estates, the one to a Blue-coat boy, the other to a Blue-coat girl, and this had led some of the magistrates to bring about a match between these two young persons. The boy, in a habit of blue satin, led by two of the girls; the girl, in blue, with a green apron, and yellow petticoat, all of sarsenet, led by two of the boys; proceeded in procession along Cheapside to Guildhall, where (in the chapel) they were united in wedlock by the dean of St. Paul's, the lord mayor giving away the bride. Then there was an entertainment in the hall of the hospital, Bow bells ringing out a merry peal all the time. The high patronage thus bestowed upon the union of two persons in nonage, gives a strange idea of the taste and morals of the age. It would be easy to shew that the incident was far from being unique.


On the 20th of September 1839, an English officer, residing in the neighbourhood of Calcutta, saw a quantity of live fish descend in a smart shower of rain. They were about three inches in length, and all of one kind. Some, falling on hard ground, were killed; some, which fell on soft grass, continued in life. 'The most strange thing that struck me in connection with this event,' said the officer, 'was that the fish did not fall helter-skelter, everywhere, or here and there: they fell in a straight line, not more than a cubit in breadth.' Shortly after this event, at a village near Allahabad, 3000 or 4000 fish were found on the ground, of a well-known species, and about a span in length, but all dead and dry.

The instances are more numerous than most observers would suppose, of animals falling to the ground in the manner of rain, sometimes accompanied by real rain. On the 14th of April 1828, Major Forbes Mackenzie, of Fodderty, in Rossshire, while walking in a field on his farm, saw a great portion of the ground covered with herring-fry, three to four inches in length, fresh and entire. The spot was three miles from the Firth of Dingwall. About two years afterwards, in the island of Islay, in Argyleshire, after a day of very heavy rain, the inhabit-ants were surprised to find a large number of small herrings strewed over the fields, perfectly fresh, and some of them alive. On another occasion, during a strong gale, herrings and other fish were carried from the Firth of Forth so far as Loch Leven, eight or ten miles distant. More recently, a Wick newspaper stated that, on a particular morning, a large quantity of herrings were found lying scattered in a garden about half a mile from the shore at that town. The peasants cooked and ate them-not without misgiving on the part of others as to the possibility of some Satanic agency having been concerned in the transfer of herrings to such a spot.

Hasted, in his History of Kent, narrates that about Easter, 1666, in the parish of Stanstead, which is at a considerable distance from the sea, and has no fish-ponds near it, a pasture-field was found strewed over with small fish.

Frogs and insects have similarly rained down upon the fields, but more rarely. Professor Pontus, of Cahors, communicated to the French Academy in 1804 the particulars of a shower of frogs near Toulouse. Pontus saw the young frogs on the cloaks of two gentlemen, who were caught in the storm on the road. When the diligence in which he was travelling arrived at the place where the storm burst, the road and fields were observed to be full of frogs, in some places three or four deep; the horses' hoofs killed thousands during the passage of the vehicle along this spot. Concerning showers of 'insects, we will simply notice one instance recorded in the Journal de St. Petersburg for 1827. A heavy snow-storm occurred on the 17th of October, at Pakroff, in the government of Tver. The snow was accompanied by a prodigious number of black insects about an inch and a quarter in length; they had flat shining heads, antennae, a velvety kind of skin marked with rings or bands, and feet which enabled them to crawl rapidly over the snow. Such of them as were carried into a warm place, died presently; but the rest remained alive for a considerable time in a very severe temperature.

How are these phenomena to be accounted for? There seems little doubt that winds, whirlwinds, and waterspouts are the chief source of their production. Waterspouts are not unknown in that portion of Ross-shire where the shower of herrings took place in 1828. The herring fall at Islay occurred after a day of very heavy rain; and that at Loch Leven during a strong gale from the Firth of Forth. The occurrence at Wick was attributed by the more intelligent inhabitants to a waterspout. At Stanstead, a thunder-storm preceded the fall of fish. At Calcutta, the fish-shower was both preceded and accompanied by a smart shower of rain. At Allahabad, a blast of wind came on suddenly, so violently as to blow down several large trees; and it was after this wind that the fish were found on the ground. At Toulouse, the shower of frogs was preceded by the sudden appearance of a very thick cloud from the horizon, and the bursting out of a thunder-storm. In all these instances, the results were probably due, wholly or in part, to this fact (ascertained by modern science), that wind has a strong tendency to become circular or rotatory, sucking up from beneath any small light objects that may be in the way, carrying them to a distance, and depositing them when the force is allayed. If this occurs on land, we have a whirlwind; if on sea, a waterspout. There is one case on record, in Norway, of a colony of rats, while migrating in vast numbers from the high to the low countries, having been overtaken by a whirlwind; they were caught up, carried to a neighbouring valley, and there fell as a rat-shower.