Born: John Wallis, mathematician, 1616, Ashford, Kent; Dr. Thomas Birch, historical and biographical writer, 1705, London.
Died: Louis, Duke of Orleans, brother of Charles VI, assassinated at Paris, 1407; Thomas Tullis, composer of church music, 1585, Greenwich; Richard Hakluyt, chronicler of voyages and travels, 1616; William Bentinck, first Earl of Portland, favourite minister of William III, 1700; Antoine Francois Prevot, novelist, 1763, Forest of Chantilly; Thomas Henderson, professor of astronomy, 1844; Sir John Barrow, author of biographies and books of travel, 1848, London.
Feast Day: St. Clement, pope and martyr, 100. St. Amphilochius, bishop of Iconium, confessor, 100. St. Daniel, bishop and confessor, 545. St. Troll, confessor, 693.
ARDEN OF FAVERSHAM
One of the most terrible tragedies in private life afterwards dramatised as a tragedy for the stage by George Lillo was that known in connection with the name of Arden of Faversham. In 1539, Henry VIII having ordered the principal part of the monastic buildings at Faversham, in Kent, to be pulled down, granted the site of the abbey, with some adjoining lands, to Sir Thomas Cheyney, who alienated them five years afterwards to Mr. Thomas Arden, or Ardern, a gentleman of Faversham. It was this Arden whose atrocious murder, while mayor of the town in 1550, became lastingly impressed on the history of Kent.
From Holinshed's Chronicle are derived all the later narratives of the event which we now proceed to relate.
Arden's wife, Mistress Alice, young, tall, and well favoured of shape and countenance, formed a criminal connection with a paramour, named Mosbye, a black, swart man. Mosbye had been servant to Sir Edward North, Alice's father in law; and then settled as a tailor in London. The infatuated wife, lost to all sense of duty and morality, conspired with Mosbye to put an end to her husband's existence, in order that she might marry the profligate black, swart man.
They employed as their confederates one John Green, a Faversham tailor; George Bradshaw, a goldsmith of the same town; and one Black Will, of Calyce (Calais), a murderer, which murderer was privily sent for to Calyce by the earnest sute, appoyntment, and confederate of Alice Arden and Thomas Mosbye.
The conspirators watched Master Arden walking in Poule's (St. Paul's Cathedral, the nave of which was a public promenade in those days), but could not find an opportunity to murder him; they then lay in wait for him on Rainham Down, and a second time in the Broomy Close (two places near Faversham), but on all these occasions failed in obtaining an opportunity.
The wicked wife then laid a plot for murdering her husband in his own house. She procured the services of Mosbye's sister, Cicely Pounder, and of two of Arden's domestic servants, Michael Saunderson and Elizabeth Stafford. On a particular day selected Sunday, too Black Will was hidden in a closet at the end of Arden's parlour. After supper, Arden sat down to play some kind of game with Mosbye; Green stood at Arden's hack, holding a candle in his hand, to shaddowe Black Will when he should come out; and the other conspirators had their cue. At a given signal in the game, Black Will came with a napkyn in his hand, anal sodenlye came behind Arden's back, threw the said napkyn over his hedd and face, and strangled him; and forthwith Mosbye stept to him, and strake him with a taylor's great pressing iron upon the scull to the braine, and immediately drew out his dagger, which was groat and broad, and therewith cut the said Arden's throat.
It is added that Mistress Alice herself, with a knife, gave him seven or eight pricks into the breast. When Black Will had helped to drag the dead body into the closet, he went to Cicely Pounder's house, received eight pounds for his nefarious services, and left Faversham. Cicely then went to Arden's habitation, and assisted in bearing the corpse out into a meadow, called the Almery Croft, behind the house; where they laid him on his back in his night gown, with his slippers on. We are told by the chronicler, that:
the doubly wicked Alice and her companions danced, and played on the virginals, and were merrie.
It would appear to have been their intention to make the towns-people aware of an entertainment, with dancing and music, having been given by Arden to his friends on that evening; and to induce them to believe, from the dead body being arrayed in night clothes, that the unfortunate man had been murdered by some one during the night. On the following morning, Alice seems to have alarmed the town with an announcement of her husband's absence from the house, and her fears for his safety. A search was made by the towns-people, and the dead body was found in the Croft.
But here occurred one of those trifling incidents which generally tend to the discovery of a murder. Some of the people saw a 'long rushe or two from the parlour floor there were no carpets in those days, stuck between one of his slippers and his foot. Suspicious being aroused, the house was searched, and it was soon found that Arden had been murdered in his own parlour.' Very likely Alice's conduct as a wife had already attracted public attention; for she was at once accused of the murder. Her courage gave way, and she cried out:
Oh the blond of God help! for this blond have I shed!
One by one, as evidence came home to them, the guilty confederates suffered the punishment due to their crimes. Mistress Alice was burned at Canterbury; Mosbye was taken in bed, and was afterwards hung at Smithfield; Green was hung at Faversham; Black Will escaped for many years, but was at length taken, and 'brent on a seaffolde at Flushing;' Bradshaw was hanged in chains at Canterbury; Cicely Pounder was hanged at Smithfield; Saunderson was drawn and hanged at Faversham; and Elizabeth Stafford was burned at the same place. It was, in truth, a time when hanging and burning, drawing and quartering, were fearfully rife as punishments for criminals. It was long said that no grass would grow on the spot where Arden's dead body was found; some, in accordance with the superstitions of the times, attributed this to the murder; while others declared that 'the field he hadde cruelly taken from a widow woman, who had curst him most bitterly, even to his face, wishing that all the world might wonder on him.'
A tragedy, entitled Arden of Faversham, was printed in 1592, and was at first attributed to Shakspeare. In after times, the subject was made the groundwork of a play by Lille, author of George Barnwell and Fatal Cariosity. It is believed that an old house, still standing at Faversham, near the Abbey Gateway, is that in which the terrible crime was committed; and a low-arched door, near the corner of the Abbey wall, is pointed out as that through which the murdered Arden was carried out to the Croft.
PLUGGING LOBSTERS' CLAWS
There is a curious practice followed by dealers in lobsters, arising out of the action of the wonderful claws with which these crustacea are provided. We do not refer here to the retail fishmongers of London and other towns, but to the boilers and wholesale-dealers. Concerning the mode of obtaining the supplies of this favourite delicacy, is writer in the Quarterly Review (No. 189) says:
Where do all the lobsters come from? The lovers of this most delicious of all the crustaceous tribe will probably be astonished to learn that they are mainly brought from Norway. France and the Channel Islands, the Orkneys and the Shetlands, do, it is true, contribute a few to the metropolitan market; but fully two thirds are relentlessly, and with much pinching and twisting, dragged out of the thousand rock bound inlets which indent the Norway coast. They are conveyed alive in a screw steamer, and by smacks, in baskets, sometimes to the extent of twenty thousand in a night, to Great Grimsby, and are then forwarded to town by the Great Northern Railway: another ten thousand arriving perhaps from points on our own and the French coasts. The fighting, twisting, blue black masses are taken, as soon as purchased, to what are termed the 'boiling houses,' of which there are four, situated in Dark and Love Lanes, near Billingsgate.
In 1830, particulars were made public respecting the manner in which these fighting, twisting, blue black masses are, or were at that time, occasionally treated. Mr. Saunders, the leading salesman in the lobster trade, and Mr. Gompertz, secretary to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, waited on the lord mayor on 23rd November, to solicit the interference of his lordship with a practice by which needless pain was inflicted on the animals.
It has been the practice, when lobsters are caught, to tie up the claws with cords, in order to prevent them from doing each other injury; as it is known that shellfish of this kind will, if some precaution be not taken, tear each other to pieces. The fish are fretted by being thus prevented from grasping whatever they approach; but they sustain no damage in quality as food. To save trouble, however, the persons who deal in shellfish substitute another mode of preventing the lobsters from fighting, and stick a ping in the spot where the claw is divided. This practice is the cause of great agony to the poor animal; for the moment the shell is removed, the substance appears to have lost its firmness, and the place where the plug has been stuck is completely mortified. Lobsters are very often to be found in fishmongers' shops with the bodies injured materially; and the claws, which are considered the most delicate parts of the fish, absolutely rotten. It was ascertained beyond doubt, that the mortified condition of the fish was attributable to the cruel method of plugging.
The lord mayor might not, perhaps, have been able to check the practice merely because it was unnecessarily cruel; but as it was proved to injure the lobster as an article of food, he had magisterial power to interfere on this ground.
Crabs seem to be more sensitive than lobsters. When the lobsters are taken to the boiling houses (the Quarterly Review informs us), they are plunged into a boiling caldron, basket and all, for twenty minutes. Crabs are boiled in the same way; but their nervous systems are so acute, that they would dash off their claws, in convulsive agony, if plunged in hot water. To prevent this mutilation, they are first killed by the dextrous insertion of a needle through the head.