Born: Philip Augustus II of France, 1165; Aimé Bonpland, distinguished naturalist and friend of Humboldt, 1773, La Rochelle; Thomas Tredgold, engineer, 1788, Brandon, near Durham; John B. Gough, temperance orator, 1817, Sandgate, Kent.
Died: Pope Nicholas III, 1280; Philippe de Valois, king of France, 1350, Nogent-le-Roi, near Chartres; Richard III of England, killed at Bosworth Field, 1485; Guillaume Budé (Budaeus), scholar and author, 1540; Thomas Percy, Earl of Northumberland, beheaded at York, 1572; Dominic Bandius, jurist and philologist, 1613, Leyden; Pierre le Moine, Jesuit and poet, 1672, Paris; Louis Francois de Boufflers, duke and marshal of France, distinguished commander, 1711, Fontainbleau; William Whiston, celebrated divine and translator of Josephus, 1752, London; George, Lord Lyttelton, author of Dialogues of the Dead, 1773, Hagley, near Stourbridge; John Henry Tischbein, eminent painter, 1789, Cassel; Warren Hastings, governor general of India, 1818, Daylesford, Worcestershire; Dr. Franz Joseph Gall, founder of phrenology, 1828, Paris; Richard Oastler, 'The Factory King,' leader of the 'Ten-hours' Movement,' 1861, Harrogate.
Feast Day: St. Symphorian, martyr, about 178. St. Hippolytus, bishop and martyr, 3rd century. St. Timothy, martyr, 311. St. Philibert, abbot of Jumièges, 684. St. Andrew, deacon and confessor, about 880.
We are afraid that, except as an affix to a translation of Josephus-a stock-book in every ordinary library-the name of William Whiston suggests very little to modern memories. Yet at the beginning of the eighteenth century he-a restless, indiscreet, and loquacious man of learning-was in everybody's mouth, and by his heresies contrived to keep the Church of England for years in a fidget.
He was the son of a clergyman, and was born at Norton, near Twycross, in Leicestershire, in 1667. At Cambridge, he greatly distinguished himself by his mathematical attainments, and won the friendship of Newton, whose Principia he studied and appreciated. In 1696, he published his first work, the forerunner of a multitude, entitled A New Theory of the Earth from its Original to the Consummation of all Things, wherein the Creation of the World in Six Days, the Universal Deluge, and the General Conflagration as laid down in the Holy Scriptures are shewn to be perfectly agreeable to Reason and Philosophy; it ran through six editions. The flood he accounted for by a comet, but the wits objected, that while he had covered the earth with water, he had provided no means for drawing it off. Newton, in 1701, made him his deputy in the duties of the Lucasian chair, and in 1703, resigned the chair itself, and procured the election of Whiston as his successor.
Gradually he began to broach and promulgate Arian doctrine on the subject of the Trinity, and the result was, that in 1710, he was banished from the university, and the year after his professorship was declared vacant. These penalties only added fuel to his zeal; so that he provoked Convocation to censure his writings, and for five years to keep his case dangling before the public. Meanwhile Whiston sought his living by teaching mathematics in London, and Steele and Addison found him an audience at Button's coffee-house for a series of astronomical lectures. He tried to establish a sect, and held a meeting for worship in his house in Cross Street, Hatton Garden, but he could never get beyond a dozen or score of disciples. Apparently without any power of considerate reticence, he published his fancies as quickly as they were formed. He turned Baptist; he asserted the Jews would be restored to Palestine and the millennium begin in 1766, and that an earthquake in London would swallow up 7000 men, and the remainder would be converted. He had a method for finding the longitude, by means of signal-vessels moored at various points in the ocean, which he held was everywhere fathomable. In fact, his brain teemed with odd notions, theological, literary, and scientific.
There was no lack of friends who respected his honesty and learning, but his habit of blunt, free speech and immovable self-will, rendered it very difficult to assist him effectually. His Arianism was shared by many ecclesiastics, who regretted his retreat from the church as wholly unnecessary. Whiston, one day talking with Chief-Justice King, entered into a discussion about signing articles which were not believed, for the sake of preferment. King freely sanctioned the latitudinarian practice, saying: 'We must not lose our usefulness for scruples.' Whiston expressed his sorrow to hear his lordship say so, and proceeded to inquire, whether he permitted similar prevarication in the law-courts. The chief justice said, 'No,' whereon Whiston rejoined: 'Suppose God Almighty should be as just in the next world as my lord chief-justice is in this, where are we then?' King was silent. When Queen Caroline heard the story, she said: 'No answer was to be made to it.'
With Caroline, wife of George II, Whiston was somewhat of a favourite. She allowed him £50 a year, and usually sent for him every summer when she was out of town, to spend a day or two with her. At Richmond, on one occasion, she asked him what people thought of her. He told her that she was esteemed as a lady of great abilities, a patron of learned men, and a kind friend of the poor. 'But,' said she, 'no one is without faults, what are mine?' Whiston begged to be excused, but she insisting, he informed her majesty that she did not behave with proper reverence in church. She pleaded in excuse that the king would talk to her. He asked her to remember, that during worship, she was in the presence of One greater than kings. Confessing her fault, she went on: 'Pray tell me what is my next?' With fine tact Whiston evaded the dangerous topic with the promise: 'When your majesty has amended the fault of which we have spoken, we shall then proceed to the next.'
Another good story is told of his frank speech. A party, in which Addison, Pope, Walpole, and Secretary Craggs were included, was debating whether a secretary of state could be an honest man, and Whiston was appealed to for his opinion, which may be imagined. Craggs said: 'It might do for a fortnight, but not longer.' With much simplicity Whiston inquired: 'Mr. Secretary, did you ever try it for a fortnight?'
Whiston lived till he was eighty-five, dying in London in 1752. His long life was one of great literary activity, but his multitudinous publications, amongst which was an autobiography abounding in injudicious revelations, have long been neglected. Vain yet sincere, sceptical yet credulous, insensible alike to fear and favour, where he thought the interests of truth concerned; many laughed at Whiston's eccentricities, but those who knew him most intimately, were those who held him in highest honour for substantial virtue and uprightness.
WARREN HASTINGS: THE GREY GEESE OF ADDLESTROP HILL
The brilliant but mud-streaked history of Warren Hastings has been made familiar to the present generation by a masterly pen. It is not necessary here to repeat the tale of him who was the subject of a ruthless, though futile party prosecution of ten years by the House of Commons, and lived to enjoy the unexampled honour of having that House to rise to him on his entering it, an act of unpremeditated veneration. He enjoyed a long retirement from the cares of office at his seat of Daylesford, in Worcestershire, those paternal acres, to recover which for his family had been the great impulse and inspiration of his early life. There he died at the advanced age of eighty-five.
We find a simple circumstance in the private latter life of Mr. Hastings, which has come into a curious connection with modern literature. It will be remembered that the first of the Tales of My Landlord opens with the description of a moor on the Scottish border, which was encumbered with a number of huge blocks, called the Grey Geese of Mucklestane Moor, and connected with which was a legend, to the effect that a noted witch was driving her geese to market, when, losing patience with their waywardness, she suddenly exclaimed: 'Deevil! that neither they nor I ever stir from this spot more!' and instantly she and her flock were transformed into blocks of stone, as they had ever since remained, until the Black Dwarf appropriated them for the building of his lonely cottage.
In the annotated edition of his novels, Sir Walter fails to tell that he took up this idea from a communication to the Gentleman's Magazine of April 1808. In this paper it is stated that, on the top of an eminence in the parish of Addlestrop, in Gloucestershire, there was a number of blocks of stone, which had stood there from time immemorial, under the name of 'the Grey Geese of Addle-strop Hill', until they had lately been taken by Mr. Warren Hastings, and formed into a rock-work for the decoration of his grounds at Daylesford. There was added a ballad which had been composed evidently for the amusement of the circle at Daylesford-as follows:
Beneath the gray shroud of a wintry cloud
The day-star dimly shone;
And the wind it blew chill upon Addlestrop Hill,
And over the Four-shire Stone.
But the wind and the rain they threaten'd in vain;
Dame Alice was up and away:
For she knew to be healthy, and wealthy, and wise,
Was early to bed, and early to rise,
Though never so foul the day.
0 foul was the day, and dreary the way;
St. Swithin the good woman shield!
For she quitted her bower in an evil hour
To drive her geese a-field.
To rival this flock, howe'er they might mock,
Was never a wight could aspire;
The geese of Dame Alice bred envy and malice
Through many a bordering shire.
No wonder she eyed with delight and with pride
Their plumes of glossy gray:
And she counted them o'er, and she counted a score,
And thus to herself 'gan say:
'A score of gray geese at a groat a piece,
Makes six-and-eightpence clear;
Add a groat, 'tis enow to furnish a cow,
And I warrant, we'll make good cheer.'
But ah! well-a-day, no mortal may say
What fate and fortune ordain;
Or Alice, I ween, had her loss foreseen,
Where most she look'd for gain.
And didst thou not mark the warnings dark?
'Twas all on a Friday morn
She tripp'd unawares as she hurried down stairs,
And thrice was her kirtle torn.
And thrice by the way went the gander astray
Ere she reach'd the foot of-the hill;
And the raven's croak from a neighbouring oak
Proclaim'd approaching ill.
And now and 0 now had she climb'd the steep brow
To fatten her flock on the common,
When full in her path, to work her scath,
She met with a weird woman.
This hag she was foul both in body and soul,
All wild and tatter'd in trim,
And pale was the sheen of her age-wither'd cen-
Was never a witch so grim.
And 'Give me,' quoth she, 'of thy fair poultry-
Or dear shalt thou rue this day.'
So hoarse was the note of the beldam's throat,
That the geese they hiss'd with dismay.
But the dame she was stout, and could fleer and could flout:
'Gramercy! good gossip,' she cried,
'Would ye taste of my fry, ye must barter and buy,
Though weal or woe betide.
'Twere pity in sooth, 'gin ye had but a tooth,
Ye should lack for a giblet to chew:
Belike of the claw, and the rump, and the maw,
A hell-broth ye mean to brew.'
0 sour look'd the hag; and thrice did she wag
Her hoar head scatter'd with snow:
And her eye through the 'gloom of wrath and of rheum
Like a comet predicted woe.
And anon she began to curse and to ban
With loud and frantic din.
But the spell which she mutter'd must never be utter'd,
For that were a deadly sin.
Then sudden she soars in the whirlwind, and roars
To the deep-voic'd thunder amain;
And the lightning's glare envelops the air,
And shivers the rocks in twain.
But Alice she lay 'mid the wrack and the fray
Entranc'd in a deathlike swoon,
'Till the sheep were in fold, and the curfew toll'd.;
She arose by the light of the moon.
And much did she muse at the cold evening's dews,
That reflected the pale moonbeam;
But more at the sight that appeared by its light-
And she counted it all a dream.
0 what is yon heap that peers o'er 'the steep,
'Mid the furze and the hawthorn glen!
With trembling and fear the dame she drew near,
And she knew her own geese again!
But, alas! the whole flock stood as stiff as a stock;
And she nuinber'd them one by one.
All grisly they lay, and they lie to this day
A flock, as it were, of gray stone!
'Thy birds are not flown,' cried a voice to her moan;
'0 never again shall they fly,
Till Evenlode flow to the steeple at Stow
And Oddington mount as high.
'But here shall they stand, forlorn on dry land,
And parch in the drought and the blast,
Nor e'er bathe a feather, save in fog and foul weather,
'Till many an age be past.
'More fetter'd and bound than geese in it pound,
Could aught their bondage atone;
They shall ne'er dread the feast of St. Michael at least,
Like geese of flesh and bone.
'But pitying fate at length shall abate
The rigour of this decree,
By the aid of a sage in a far-distant age;
And he comes from the East country.
'A pundit his art to this seer shall impart;
Where'er he shall wave his wand,
The hills shall retire, and the valleys aspire,
And the waters usurp the land.
'Then, Alice, thy flock their charm shall unlock,
And pace with majestic stride,
From Addlestrop heath, to Daylesford beneath,
To lave in their native tide.
'And one shall go peep like an isle o'er the deep,
Another delighted wade,
At the call of this wizard, to moisten her gizzard
By the side of a fair cascade.
'This sage to a dame shall be wedded,
whose name Praise, honour, and love shall command;
By poets renown'd, and by courtesy crown'd
The queen of that fairy-land! '
Here ceased the high strain-but seek not in vain
To unravel the dark record:
Enough that ye wot, 'twas traced to the spot
By a clerk of Oxenford.'
THE BATTLE OF BOSWORTH: WELSH TALES CONNECTED THEREWITH
The 22nd of August 1485 was an important day for England, not merely in putting an end to the reign and the life of a usurper and murderer, whose rule was a disgrace to it, but in finally freeing it from the civil contentions comprehended under the title of the Wars of the Roses. It must, after all, be admitted that the atrocious Crookback somewhat redeemed his life by the way he ended it. It was worthy of his brave race, and of the pretensions he had set up, that he should perish in the thick of a fight which was to conclude his dynasty.
On the other hand, the gallant adventure of Henry of Richmond in landing with only two thousand Frenchmen to fight his way to the English crown, his stout struggle at Bosworth, and the picturesque incident of Stanley picking up Richard's crown, and placing it on the brows of Henry on the battle-field, raise expectations with which the subsequent events are somewhat out of harmony.
It should be more borne in mind than it is, that the first of the Tudor sovereigns was a Welsh noble, and owed much to the friendship of his warm-blooded countrymen. He was particularly indebted to the men of Pembrokeshire, his native county. At the time of the battle of Tewkesbury, Henry was a boy at Pembroke Castle, but this place not being thought one of safety, he was removed by his uncle, Jasper, Earl of Pembroke, to Tenby. Here he was received with much hospitality by the mayor, John White, who secretly conveyed him to Britanny in one of his own vessels. Afterwards, when he returned, it was at Milford he landed, marching thence to meet 'the bloody and usurping boar' at Bosworth-field.
Henry, upon coming to the throne, was not unmindful of the assistance he had received. He rewarded the mayor of Tenby with a lease, at a nominal rent, of all the crown-lands about that town; 'a good recompense,' says the historian of Pembrokeshire, 'to one man for a good deede done to the whole realme.' It is a rather curious circumstance, that Mr. George White, the present mayor of Tenby (1863), is a descendant of him who aided Henry in his escape; is, like his ancestor, a wine-merchant; and resides on the spot occupied by his family more than four centuries ago.
The treacherous Stanley may have placed the crown upon Richmond's head on Bosworth field, but the hand that virtually crowned him was that which dealt the gallant Richard his deathwound. According to Welsh tradition, the deed was done by Rhys ap Thomas, commonly called 'the valiant Welshman.' This hero of the principality came of a warlike stock. His grandfather fell fighting for the white rose, at Mortimer's Cross; his father was murdered as he lay spent and wounded by the side of the corpse of David Gough, whom he had killed in single-combat. Rhys himself was brought up at the court of Philip of Burgundy, and did credit to his knightly training. The death of his two elder brothers, killed in some petty border skirmishes, left him the representative of his race, and lord of the greater part of Carmarthenshire. During the latter part of Edward IV's reign, and through the minority of his successor, the Welsh chieftain occupied himself in training his tenantry in the art of war, that he might be ready for the troublous times he foresaw must come.
When Richard III became aware of the intention of the Earl of Richmond to dispute his right to the English throne, he wished to assure himself of the support of Rhys ap Thomas. To that end he sent commissioners to Carmarthen, to administer the oath of allegiance to Rhys, and demand the surrender of his son and heir, a boy of four years old, as hostage for his fidelity. Not caring to defy Richard's anger, the Welshman took the oath, though much against his will, but declined to give up his child. To mollify the king for this disobedience, he (or rather the abbot of Talye for him) wrote a letter to Richard, asserting his loyalty, and promising to obey his majesty's commands by preventing the landing of Richmond at Milford Haven. He says he 'deems it not unseasonable to annex this voluntary protestation: that, whoever, ill affected to the state, shall dare to land in those parts of Wales, where I have employments under your majesty, must resolve with himself to make his entrance and irruption over my belly!' As for the delivery of his heir, he pleads his infancy, 'more fit to be embosomed in a mother's care, than exposed to the world; nature as yet not having the leisure to initiate him in that first lecture of feeding himself;' concluding significantly by declaring that if the king persisted in depriving him of the sole prop of his-house, the better part of himself, 'I were then divided in my strength, which, united, might perhaps, serve as most useful were I called to some weighty employments for the good of your service.'
Not long after the despatch of this politic letter, the abbot of Talye and the bishop of St. David's employed all their influence with Rhys to persuade him to join the party of the Earl of Richmond. The latter promised him full absolution for breaking his oath, a matter which did not trouble the soldier's conscience so much as violating the promises he had given under his hand and seal. The wily ecclesiastic set him at ease on that point, by showing that Richmond could not be looked upon as ill affected to the state, seeing he came to relieve it from an unrighteous ruler, while it would not be difficult to keep to the letter of the remaining clause of his voluntary protestation. While Rhys was debating with himself, a letter arrived from Richmond soliciting his assistance, and promising great rewards in the event of success. This decided the Welsh captain's course of action. He at once took the field with two thousand men, kinsmen and friends flocked to his standard, and setting out for Milford Haven, he welcomed Richmond ashore, and tendered his services to him, at the same time satisfying his own scruples by lying down on the ground and allowing the earl to pass over his body.
Of the part he played in the battle of Bosworth, his biographer gives the following account:
While the avant-guards were in hot chase, the one of the other, King Richard held not his hands in his pockets; but, grinding and gnashing his teeth, up and down he goes in quest of Richmond, whom, no sooner espying, than he makes at him, and, by the way, in his fury, manfully overthrew Sir William Brandon, the earl's standard-bearer, as also Sir John Cheney, both men of mighty force and known valiancy. In Wales we say, that Rice ap Thomas, who from the beginning closely followed the earl, and ever had an eye to his person, seeing his party begin to quail, and the king's to gain ground, took the occasion to send unto Sir William Stanley, giving him to understand the danger they were in, and entreating him to join his forces for the disengaging of the earl, who was not only in despair of victory, but almost of his life. Whereupon for it seems he understood not the danger before) Sir William Stanley made up to Rice ap Thomas, and joining both together, rushed in upon their adversaries and routed them, by which means the glory of the day fell on the earl's side; King Richard, as a just guerdon for all his facinorous acts and horrible murders, being slain on the field. One Welsh tradition says that Rice ap Thomas slew Richard, manfully fighting with him hand to hand, and we have one strong argument in defence of our tradition, to prove that he was the man who in all likelihood had done the deed; for from that time forward, the Earl of Richmond, as long as he lived, did ever honour him with the title of Father Rhys.
Be this as it may, Rhys ap Thomas was knighted on the field, and was afterwards employed in the war with France and the rebellions at home. He was made a knight of the Garter and privy-councillor, and appointed constable and lieutenant of Brecknock, chamberlain of Carmarthen and Cardigan, seneschal and chancellor of Haverfordwest, Ross, and Builth, justiciar of South Wales, and. governor of the principality. At the end of Henry VII's reign, the recipient of so many honours retired to Wales, where he practised the national virtue of hospitality in a style of great magnificence till his death, at the good old age of seventy-six. His tomb, although sadly ruinated, may still be seen in St. Peter's Church, Carmarthen; while his memory is preserved in the poetic literature of his countrymen, whose bards have delighted to sing of Rhys-ap-Thomas as the sword and buckler of his country, the champion of Cambria, the shield of Britain, the scourge of the obstinate, the protector of the innocent, and the flower of Cambro-Britons.
RICHARD WATTS'S BEQUEST
The tendency of Englishmen to follow out the instincts of the individual character has been strikingly shewn in what may be called odd and whimsical bequests. It is no unusual thing amongst us, to see some singularity of opinion or fancy thus carried out, in the case of some obscure citizen, for hundreds of years after he has ceased to breathe.
Richard Watts, recorder of Rochester in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, was a man of large property, who had represented his city in parliament, and entertained his sovereign in his house. It is said that, on Elizabeth taking leave of him as a guest, he expressed regret that his house had not been larger and more commodious; when she replied. 'Satis' (enough); in consequence of which royal laconism, the house was afterwards called. Satis House. Part of the old building, standing on Bully Hill, still retains the name.
By his will, dated August 22, 1579, this house, with its furniture, was left to be sold for the maintenance of some almshouses in the High Street, and especially to provide:
six good matrices or flock-beds and other sufficient furniture, to harbour or lodge poor travellers or wayfaring men, being no common rogues, nor proctors, and they, the said wayfaring men, to harbour and lodge therein no longer than one night, unless sickness be the further cause thereof; and these poor folk there dwelling to keep the same sweet, and courteously intreat the said poor travellers; and every one of them, at their first coming in, to have fourpence; and to warm them at the fire of the resident within the said house, if need be.
It is said that the objection made in the above will to proctors, thus fixing a lasting stigma on the legal profession, arose from the fact that when Mr. Watts was travelling on the continent, he was seized with a serious illness, and calling in a proctor to make his will, he found, on his recovery, that the traitorous man of law had conveyed all the estates to himself, instead of writing the wishes of his client. Another author has, however, suggested. that the word proctor or procurator was applied to those itinerant priests, who in the reign of Queen Elizabeth travelled secretly about England, with dispensations from the pope to absolve her subjects from their allegiance.
A few years after the death of Mr. Watts, his widow, who married a second time, disputed the will, and was allowed to retain Satis House, on condition of paying over land to the value of twenty pounds a year; an immense increase has since arisen in the value of the property, so that the annual income is above £1000: one large estate which was then a marsh in Chatham, is now drained and covered with houses. The almshouses are of brick, three stories high, with large square windows and projecting centre. They were fully repaired in 1771, by Nathaniel Hood, then mayor of Rochester, and an inscription, describing the nature of the bequest, engraved on a tablet in front; but now, alas! a poor traveller will knock in vain for admittance, the wishes of the hospitable founder having been altogether set aside though the four pennies maybe obtained on application to the mayor. Among the file of orders retained by the provider, or man who distributes this money, is one dated 1677, as follows: 'Brother Wade: Pray relieve these two gentlemen, who have the king's letters recommendatory, and give them twelve pence a man, and foure a piece to the other five.'
The remainder of the income is appropriated to the payment of the poor's rates. Over the monument in the cathedral to the memory of Watts is a bust taken during his lifetime, and representing a man with a bald head, short hair, and a long flowing beard. It will be remembered by many of our readers that our distinguished countryman, Charles Dickens, has chosen this house at Rochester as the groundwork of one of his Christmas stories.
THE HYDES-CURIOSITIES OF THEIR GENEALOGY
Alexander Hyde, who died bishop of Salisbury, August 22, 1667, was son of Sir Lawrence Hyde, of the Close of Sarum. He had been, at the Restoration, made dean of Winchester, 'through the recommendation of his kinsman, Lord Chancellor Clarendon.'
This is nearly all that can now be learned regarding Bishop Hyde, of whom we may fairly presume that he would never have risen to great prominence but for the power and influence of his eminent nephew, the chancellor.
The fact of two queens-regnants of England being granddaughters of the Chancellor Earl of Clarendon, has made the genealogy of the Hydes of some interest to poking antiquaries. It appears beyond question that the paternal ancestry was respectable, Lawrence Hyde, the grandfather of the chancellor, and father of the bishop of Salisbury, being a younger son of Robert Hyde of Norbury and Hyde, in Cheshire, a family which had been settled there from the time of Henry III.
There is, however, a sort of legendary account of a humble ancestress, which has several times been adverted to in print. In a manuscript note of apparently a century old, now in our possession, it is stated that the common ancestor of the chancellor and bishop 'married a tub-woman, and retired to Dinton, in the county of Wilts [the birthplace of the chancellor].' If this were true, it would be a curious consideration that the grandfather's grandmother of the queens Mary and Anne was of such plebeian origin. Some years ago, there was a discussion of this subject in the Notes and Queries. The fact alleged was, that Lord Clarendon, when a young lawyer, had married a wealthy brewer's widow, who had originally come into her future husband's employment as a tub-woman, 'to carry out beer from the brew-house.' And it was conclusively shewn that this could not be true, as both of the chancellor's wives were women of family. There was, however, nothing brought forward on that occasion at issue with the old genealogical note in our possession, which makes the alleged tub-woman the mother of the bishop, and consequently grandmother of the chancellor. Nor in that version of the tale is there anything difficult to be believed. A younger son of Sir Robert Hyde of Norbury might very fairly have married a rich brewer's widow, and that widow might very fairly have risen from the humble condition ascribed to her by the tradition. Generally, where a story of this kind has taken root, there is some foundation for it.
Another genealogical particular connected with the two queens is equally remarkable, and can be better authenticated-namely, that a cousin of their mother, the Duchess of York, died in Emanuel Hospital, Tothill Fields, Westminster, so recently as December 1771. She was named Mrs. Windymore, or Windlemore, and stated to be 108 years of age at the time of her death. The Gentleman's Magazine and Annual Register both notice her demise, and her connection with royalty, and our old genealogical note enters her as next in descent from the son of the bishop of Salisbury.
THE FATE OF RUTH OSBORNE
It is a curious proof of the ignorance in which the English populace was allowed to rest down to very recent times that, so lately as the 22nd of August 1751, a man was executed at Tring for being concerned in the murder of a poor woman suspected of witchcraft.
It was in the year 1745 that this poor woman, Ruth Osborne by name, having vainly besought one Butterfield for a little milk, went away muttering, that she wished the Pretender would soon come and carry off his cattle. He soon after fell into ill health and adversity, and it became impressed on his mind that the ill-will of Mrs. Osborne was the cause of all his misfortunes. To counteract her evil influence, a renowned wise-woman or white-witch was fetched all the way from Northamptonshire. This sagacious female, on her arrival at Tring, confirmed the general opinion, and at once took measures to remove the spell; and as a preliminary step, she appointed six able men, armed with pitchforks, to guard Butterfield's house night and day; taking care, as a necessary precaution, to hang certain charms round the watchers' necks, to prevent them from being bewitched also.
The wise-woman's mode of treatment proving expensive, and not producing the desired effect of improving Butterfield's health and circumstances, it was determined to try another plan; one that, by a severe punishment, would deter the assumed witch from her evil courses, as well as, at the same time, produce a profit to Butterfield and the neighbouring publicans, by collecting a mob of thirsty beer-drinkers. Accordingly, the public-criers of the adjoining towns of Hemel-Hempstead, Leighton-Buzzard, and Winslow, were employed to make the following announcement on their respective market-days:
This is to give notice, that on Monday next a man and woman are to be publicly ducked at Tring, in this county, for their wicked crimes.
The parish overseer of Tring, learning that John Osborne and his wife Ruth, both upwards of seventy years of age, were the persons alluded to in the above notice, determined to protect them as far as he could, and for their better safety, lodged them in the workhouse. The master of the workhouse, to make the poor creatures more secure, secretly removed them, late on Sunday night, to the vestry of the parish church, vainly hoping that the sacred character of the edifice might have some effect in restraining their lawless persecutors.
On the Monday, however, a mob, consisting of more than five thousand persons-not all of the lowest class, for about one half were well mounted on horseback, assembled, and, proceeding to the workhouse, demanded that the Osbornes should be delivered up to them. The master assured the crowd that the persons sought for were not in the house, but the rabble disbelieving him, broke open the doors, and searched all parts of the building, looking into drawers, trunks, and even the salt-box, supposing, in their dense ignorance, that the alleged witch and wizard could conceal themselves in the same space as would contain two cats.
Disappointed of their victims, the mob, becoming infuriated, proceeded to demolish the workhouse; and having collected a quantity of straw, they lighted fire-brands, threatening to murder the master, and burn down the whole town of Tring, if their demand were not instantly complied with. Thus threatened, the master told where the Osbornes were concealed, and then the mob, with yells of fiendish delight, broke open the church-doors, seized their helpless victims, and carried them off to a neighbouring pond. Decency and humanity imperatively forbid any description of the horrible scene of brutal cruelty that ensued. Suffice it to say, that the woman was murdered in the pond, and the man, still breathing, was tied to the dead body of his wife, and expired soon afterwards.
Neither the clergyman of Tring, nor those of the adjoining parishes, interfered to save these wretched victims of superstition. But the legal authorities determined to punish some, at least, of the perpetrators of the brutal crime. A coroner's inquest was held on the body of Ruth Osborne, twelve of the principal gentlemen of Hertfordshire being summoned as the jury. For at an inquest held a short time previously on a similar case of murder at Frome, in Somersetshire, the jurors, selected, as is usual, from the lower middle class, would not convict the prisoner. The Hertfordshire gentlemen, however, brought in a verdict of wilful murder against one Thomas Colley and twenty-one other known and unknown persons.
At the ensuing county assizes, Colley being tried and found guilty, was sentenced to be executed, and hung in chains at the place where the murder was committed. To prevent a rescue, and impress on the ignorant minds of the country-people the power of the law, and an idea of the crime that had been perpetrated, the arrangements for the execution were conducted with military display and unusual solemnity. In the Universal Magazine of that year, we read as follows:
Thursday, August 22d.-About ten in the morning, Mr. Thomas Colley, condemned for the murder of Ruth Osborne, as a supposed witch, received the sacrament at Hertford, administered to him by the Rev. Mr. Edward Bouchier, when he signed a solemn declaration of his faith relating to witchcraft; which he desired might be carried to the place of execution, and was there publicly read at his earnest request, just before he was turned off, by the Rev. Mr. Randall, minister of Thug, who attended him in his last moments.
He was escorted by one hundred and eight men belonging to the regiment of Horse Guards Blue, with their officers and two trumpets; and the procession was slow, solemn, and moving. Friday night he was lodged in St. Alban's jail, and at five the next morning, he was put in a one-horse chaise with the executioner, and came to the place of execution about eleven; and after half an hour spent in prayer, he was executed, and immediately after hung up in chains on the same gibbet he was hanged on.
The infatuation of the greater part of the people in that country was so great, that they would not be seen near the place of execution, insisting that it was a hard case to hang a man for destroying an old wicked woman, that had done so much damage by her witchcraft.
A very odd accident happened in Tring town; which was, that just as the prisoner's wife and daughter were permitted to speak to him, one of the trooper's pistols in his holsters went off, occasioned by his handkerchief accidentally getting into the holster, which he pulling out, drew the trigger, and the ball went into the ground; but no other damage ensued than putting the corps in some disorder, it being at first imagined to have been fired out of a window.
THE ROYAL TELEGRAM ACROSS THE ATLANTIC
Once, and once only, has a royal telegraphic message crossed the Atlantic from Europe to America. In 1854, the colonial government of Newfoundland offered certain terms, in the form of guarantee, to a company undertaking to lay a submerged telegraph beneath the Atlantic from that colony to Ireland. This offer was followed, during that and the next two years, by elaborate experiments on the best form and size of cable, and by soundings to determine the depth of the Atlantic at various places. The greatest depth plumbed reached the vast amount of 25,000 feet (about five miles).
A company was then definitely formed, and a cable manufactured. The cable weighed about one ton per mile, and was 2500 miles long - 1700 miles for the direct distance from Valentia in Ireland to Cape Race in Newfoundland, and 800 miles for bendings, deviations, and unforeseen contingencies; there were 350,000 miles of wire altogether in the cable, taxing the wire-drawers of the United Kingdom to the utmost to produce it in time. The British government lent the war-ship Agamemnon to take out half the cable, while the American government lent the Niagara to take out the other half.
All being ready, operations commenced on the 5th of August 1857. The two magnificent ships, attended by the Susquehanna, Leopold, Willing Mind, and Advice set forth from Valentia. The portion of the cable on board the Agamemnon was uncoiled; and by means of central blocks, grooved-sheaves, friction-rollers, cramps, breaks, grips, and other mechanical appliances, it was lowered into the ocean as fast as the ship progressed. But disaster was impending. By the morning of the 11th, the engineer found that the cable had too much 'slack '-that is, too much of it had run out in proportion to the straight line traversed; it lay at the bottom of the ocean in too serpentine or zigzag a way. He therefore caused the grip-machinery to be tightened; this was unskilfully done, and the cable snapped. Thus, at a distance, in a straight line, of 350 miles from Ireland, the broken end of the cable sank to the bottom in 12,000 feet depth of water-more than forty times the height of St. Paul's Cathedral!
One whole year was lost, in addition to a large sum of money. During the winter and spring months, many attempts were made to raise the broken end of the cable, splice it to the unused portion, and pursue the voyage to America; but the cable broke again and again, chiefly owing to the uneasy movement of the ship in stormy weather. At length the Agamemnon and the Niagara made another attempt under better auspices.
They steamed out to mid-ocean, spliced together their two portions of the cable, and then parted company-the one returning to Valentia, the other proceeding onward to Cape Race. It was on the 29th of July 1858 that this parting of the two ships commenced; and as the distance between them increased, the officials on board the two ships interchanged telegraphic messages with each other, through the submerged portion of cable.
Notwithstanding the perils and obstacles afforded by a tremendous sea, both vessels reached their destinations on the 5th of August-the Agamemnon having payed-out 1020 nautical miles of cable, and the Niagara 1030-equal altogether to about 2400 English statute miles. Each ship sent a telegraphic message to the other through this wonderful length of submerged cable; but the actual connection from shore to shore could not be made, because the land ends of the cable were not yet adjusted.
At length the necessary attachments were made; and the submarine cable was placed in unbroken connection with the whole telegraphic system of England at one end, and with that of America at the other. The directors of the company in London exchanged compliments with their agents and coadjutors in New York; the lord mayor of London did the same with the mayor of New York.
On the 20th, the cable communicated the first commercial news from the New World to the Old, in the form of a telegram announcing a collision between the Arabia and Europa mail-steamers near Cape Race. On the 22nd, Queen Victoria and President Buchanan exchanged compliments. The Queen sent the following message:
The Queen desires to congratulate the President upon the successful completion of this great inter-national work, in which the Queen has taken the greatest interest. The Queen is convinced that the President will join with her in fervently hoping that the electric cable, which now connects Great Britain with the United States, will prove an additional link between the two nations, whose friendship is founded upon their common interests and reciprocal esteem. The Queen has much pleasure in thus directly communicating with the President, and in renewing to him her best wishes for the prosperity of the United States.
This message occupied about two hours in transmission from London to Washington. The President replied to it in a suitable strain.
The bright hopes thus raised were destined to be cruelly damped. On the 3rd of September the submarine cable refused to 'speak,' and it has never spoken since. New breakages and faults occurred, and a sum of £400,000 was virtually lost.