25th April

Born: King Edward II, of England, 1284, Carnarvon; Oliver Cromwell, Protector of England, 1599, Huntingdon; Sir Mark Isambard Brunel, engineer of the Thames Tunnel, 1769.

Died: Torquato Tasso, Italian poet, 1595, Rome; James Hay, Earl of Carlisle, statesman, 1636; Dr. Henry Hammond, theologian, 1660; Dr. John Woodward, naturalist, 1728; Samuel Wesley, the elder, 1735, Epworth; William Cowper, poet, 1800, East Dercham; Dr. Patrick Colquhoun, writer on police and social improvements, 1820.

Feast Day: St Mark, evangelist [68?]; St. Anianus, second bishop of Alexandria [86?]; St. Kebius of Cornwall, 4th century; St. Phaebadius, bishop of Agen, after 392. St. Maughold or Macallius, of Isle of Man, 6th century; St. Ivo, 7th century.


Tis now, replied the village belle,
St. Mark's mysterious eve,
And all that old traditions tell
I tremblingly believe;
How, when the midnight signal tolls,
Along the churchyard green,
A mournful train of sentenced souls
In winding-sheets are seen.
The ghosts of all whom death shall doom
Within the coming year,
In pale procession walk the gloom,
Amid the silence drear.

In the northern parts of England, it is still believed that if a person, on the eve of St. Mark's day, watch in the church porch from eleven at night till one in the morning, he will see the apparitions of all those who are to be buried in the churchyard during the ensuing year. The following illustration of this superstition is found among the Hollis manuscripts, in the Lansdowne Collection. The writer, Gervase Hollis, of Great Grimsby, in Lincolnshire, was a colonel in the service of Charles the First, and by no means one who could be termed a superstitious man, even in his own day. He professes to have received the tale from Mr. Liveman Rampaine, minister of God's word at Great Grimsby, in Lincolnshire, who was household chaplain to Sir Thomas Munson, of Burton, in Lincoln, at the time of the incident.

In the year 1631, two men (inhabitants of Burton) agreed betwixt themselves upon St. Mark's eve at night to watch in the churchyard at Burton, to try whether or no (according to the ordinary belief amongst the common people) they should see the Spectra, or Phantasma of those persons which should die in that parish the year following. To this intent, having first performed the usual ceremonies and superstitions, late in the night, the moon shining then very bright, they repaired to the church porch, and there seated themselves, continuing there till near twelve of the clock. About which time (growing weary with expectation and partly with fear) they resolved to depart, but were held fast by a kind of insensible violence, not being able to move a foot.
About midnight, upon a sudden (as if the moon had been eclipsed), they were environed with a black darkness; immediately after, a kind of light, as if it had been a resultancy from torches. Then appears, coming towards the church porch, the minister of the place, with a book in his hand, and after him one in a winding-sheet, whom they both knew to resemble one of their neighbours. The church doors immediately fly open, and through pass the apparitions, and then the doors clap to again. Then they seem to hear a muttering, as if it were the burial service, with a rattling of bones and noise of earth, as in the filling up of a grave. Suddenly a still silence, and immediately after the apparition of the curate again, with another of their neighbours following in a winding-sheet, and so a third, fourth, and fifth, every one attended with the same circumstances as the first.
These all having passed away, there ensued a serenity of the sky, the moon shining bright, as at the first; they themselves being restored to their former liberty to walk away, which they did sufficiently affrighted. The next day they kept within doors, and met not together, being both of them exceedingly ill, by reason of the affrightment which had terrified them the night before. Then they conferred their notes, and both of them could very well remember the circumstances of every passage. Three of the apparitions they well knew to resemble three of their neighbours; but the fourth (which seemed an infant), and the fifth (like an old man), they could not conceive any resemblance of. After this they confidently reported to every one what they had done and seen; and in order designed to death those three of their neighbours, which came to pass accordingly.
Shortly after their deaths, a woman in the town was delivered of a child, which died likewise. So that now there wanted but one (the old man), to accomplish their predictions, which likewise came to pass after this manner. In that winter, about mid-January, began a sharp and long frost, during the continuance of which some of Sir John Munson's friends in Cheshire, having some occasion of intercourse with him, despatched away a foot messenger (an ancient man), with letters to him. This man, tramling this bitter weather over the mountains in Derbyshire, was nearly perished with cold, yet at last he arrived at Burton with his letters, where within a day or two he died. And these men, as soon as ever they see him, said peremptorily that he was the man whose apparition they see, and that doubtless he would die before he returned, which accordingly he did.

It may readily be presumed that this would prove a very pernicious superstition, as a malignant person, bearing an ill-will to any neighbour, had only to say or insinuate that he had seen him forming part of the visionary procession of St. Mark's Eve, in order to visit him with. a serious affliction, if not with mortal disease. Of a similar tendency was a custom indulged in among cottage families on St. Mark's Eve, of riddling out all the ashes on the hearth-stone over night, in the expectation of seeing impressed upon them, in the morning, the footstep of any one of the party who was to die during the ensuing year. In circles much given to superstition, great misery was sometimes created by a malicious or wanton person coming slily into the kitchen during the night, and marking the ashes with the shoe of one of the party.

St. Mark's Eve appears to have enjoyed among our simple ancestors a large share of the privileges which they assigned to All Saints' Eve (the Scottish Halloween.) In Poor Robin's Almanack for 1770, occurs this stanza:

Until lately, St. Mark's Day was marked at Alnwick by a ridiculous custom, in connection with the admission of freemen of the common, and described as follows: 'The persons who are to receive this privilege march on horseback, in great ceremony, dressed in white, with their swords by their sides, to the common, headed by the Duke of Northumberland's chamberlains and bailiff. Arrived at the Freemen's Well, a large dirty pool on the border of the common, they all deliberately walk into and through it, coming out on the other side begrimed with mud, and dripping all over.

On St. Mark's eve, at twelve o'clock,
The fair maid will watch her smock,
To find her husband in the dark,
By praying unto good St. Mark.

We presume that the practice was to hang up the smock at the fire before going to bed; the rest of the family having retired, the anxious damsel would plant herself to wait till the resemblance of him who was to be her husband should come in and turn the garment. The divination by nuts was also in vogue. A row being planted amongst the hot embers on the hearth, one from each maiden, and the name of the loved one being breathed, it was expected that if the love was in any case to be successful, the nut would jump away; if otherwise, it would go on composedly burning till all was consumed:

If you love me, pop and fly,
If not, lie there silently.

Then hastily changing their clothes, and having comforted themselves with a dram, they make a round of the common, return into the town, where a ceremonial reception by fantastically dressed women awaits them, and end by calling at each other's houses, and imbibing more liquor. It is alleged that this singular procedure has reference to a visit which King John paid to Alnwick. Having been 'laired' in this pool, he punished the inhabitants for their bad roads by imposing upon them, in the charter of their common, an obligation each to subject himself, on his entry, to the same filthy ablution.' Alnwick common lands being now enclosed, this absurd custom is abolished. The last time the freemen passed through the well was April 25, 1854.

THE BIRTH OF EDWARD OF CARNARVON (The first Prince of Wales, A.D. 1284)
Weep, noble lady, weep no more,
The woman's joy is won;
Pear not, thy time of dread is o'er,
And thou hast borne a son!
Then ceased the Queen from pain and cry,
And as she proudly smiled,
The tear stood still within her eye-
A mother saw her child!
'Now bear him to the Castle-gate!'
Thus did the King command,
There, stern and stately all, they wait,
The warriors of the land.
They met! another lord to claim,
And loud their voices rang,
'We will not brook a stranger's name,
Nor serve the Saxon tongue!
Our King shall breathe a British birth,
And speak with native voice:
He shall be lord of Cymryan earth,
The Chieftain of our choice!'
Then might you hear the drawbridge fall,
And echoing footsteps nigh
And hearken! by you haughty wall
A low and infant cry!
'God save your Prince!' King Edward said,
'Your wayward wish is won,
Behold him! from his mother's bed,
My child! my firstborn son!
'Here in his own, his native place,
His future feet shall stand,
And rule the children of your race,
In language of the land!
'Twas strange to see! so sternly smiled
The warriors gray and grim:
How little thought King Edward's child
Who thus would welcome him!
Nor knew they then how proud the tone
They taught their native vales
The shout, whole nations lived to own,
God bless the Prince of Wales!


The Protector, as is well known, was born at Huntingdon, April 25, 1599, the son of Robert Cromwell, a gentleman well-connected in that county. Through the favour of an obliging correspondent, there is here presented a facsimile of the entry of his birth and baptism in the parish register.

Thus extended and translated Anno Domini 1599, Oliver, son of Robert Cromwell, gentleman, and Elizabeth his wife, born on the 25th of April, baptized the 29th of the same month.

It will further be observed that some zealous cavalier has inserted, under the year of our Lord, the words 'England's Plague for five years,' which have subsequently been erased.


Dr. Henry Hammond must be held as a somewhat notable figure in the history of English literature, if it be true, as is alleged of him by Hearne, that he was 'the first man in England that had copy-money, i.e., a price for the copy-right of a literary work. 'He was paid such a sum of money (I know not how much) by Mr. Royston, the king's printer, for his Annotations on the New Testament.'

One naturally feels some curiosity about a man who was the first of the long list who have written for booksellers' pay. He was one of the most noted of the many divines who lost their benefices (his was that of Penshurst, in Kent) under the Cromwellian rule. He was devoted to the monarchy, and bewailed the martyred Charles with bitter tears. His activity was thereafter given to the investigation of the literature and antiquities of the Bible, in which he had in his own age no rival. There could not be a more perfect ideal of a student. He ate little more than one meal a-day; five hours of his bed sufficed; he read in walking, and had books read to him while dressing. Finally, he could compose faster than any amanuensis could transcribe-a most serviceable quality at first sight for one who looked to be paid by the sheet. Five sheets a-day were within his range of power. It is related of him that, on two several occasions, he sat down at eleven at night, and composed a pamphlet for the press before going to rest. Dr. Fell, however, who wrote his life, seems to have found that easy writing made rather hard reading, for he speaks of Hammond's compositions as incumbered with parentheses. It is also to be observed that the learned doctor did not thrive upon his assiduity in study, for he died of the stone at fifty-five.

In connection with this article, it may be mentioned that the first book published in England by subscription was a polyglot Bible, prepared under the care of Dr. Brian Walton, and published in six volumes in 1657. The learned editor became, at the Restoration, Bishop of Chester, but enjoyed the honour a very short time, dying November 29, 1661.

It may also be worth while to introduce to notice the first person who made any efforts in that business of popularising literature which now occupies so broad a space. It was unquestionably Nathaniel Crouch, a bookseller at the sign of the Bell, in the Poultry, London. He flourished in the reigns of William III and Queen Anne, but very little of his personal history is known. With probably little education, but something of a natural gift for writing in his native language, Crouch had the sagacity to see that the works of the learned, from their form and price, were kept within a narrow circle of readers, while there was a vast multitude outside who were able and willing to read, provided that a literature suited to their means and capacities were supplied to them. He accordingly set himself to the task of transfusing the matter of large and pompous books into a series of small, cheap volumes, modestly concealing his authorship under the nom de plume of Robert Burton, or the initials R. B. Thus he produced a Life of Cromwell, a History' of Wales, and many other treatises, all printed on very plain paper, and sold at an exceedingly reasonable rate.

His enterprise and diligence were rewarded by large sales and considerable wealth. He must have appeared as something of a phenomenon in an age when authors were either dignified men in the church and the law, or vile Grub-streeters, whose lives were a scandal to the decent portion of society. John Dunton, a contemporary bookseller, who was pleased to write and publish an account of his own life, speaks of Crouch in such terms as betray a kind of involuntary respect. He says:

'He [Crouch] prints nothing but what is very useful and very entertaining. . . . His talent lies at collection. He has melted down the best of our English histories into twelve-penny books, which are filled with wonders, rarities, and curiosities.. .. Nat. Crouch is a very ingenious person, and can talk fine things on any subject. He is . . . the only man who gets an estate by writing books. He is, or ought to be, an honest man; and I believe the former, for all he gets will wear well. . . His whole life is one continued lecture, wherein all his friends, but especially his two sons, may legibly read their duty.'


Among the wonderful things believed in by our ancestors were instances of long-protracted fasts. In Rymer's Faedera (vol. vi., p. 13), there is a rescript of King Edward III, having reference to a woman named Cecilia, the wife of John de Rygeway, who had been put up in Nottingham gaol for the murder of her husband, and there had remained mute and abstinent from meat and drink for forty days, as had been represented to the king on fully trustworthy testimony; for which reason, moved by piety, and for the glory of God and the Blessed Virgin, to whom the miracle was owing, his grace was pleased to grant the woman a pardon. The order bears date the 25th of April, in the 31st year of the king's reign, equivalent to A.D. 1357.

About the year 1531, one John Scott, a Teviotdale man, attracted attention in Scotland by his apparent possession of the ability to fast for many days at a time. Archbishop Spottiswood gives an account of him:

This man,' says the historian, 'having succumbed in a plea at law, and knowing himself unable to pay that wherein he was adjudged, took sanctuary in the abbey of Holyrood-house, where, out of a deep displeasure, he abstained from all meat and drink the space of thirty or forty days together. Public rumour bringing this about, the king would have it put to trial, and to that effect, shutting him up in a private room within the Castle of Edinburgh, whereunto no man had access, he caused a little bread and water to be set by him, which he was found not to have tasted in the space of thirty-two days. This proof given of his abstinence, he was dimitted, and coming forth into the street half naked, made a speech to the people that flocked about him, wherein he professed to do all this by the help of the Blessed Virgin, and that he could fast as long as he pleased. Many did take it for a miracle, esteeming him a person of singular holiness; others thought him to be frantic and mad; so as in a short time he came to be neglected, and thereupon leaving the country, went to home, where he gave the like proof to Pope Clement the Seventh.
From Rome he came to Venice, apparelled with holy vestures, such as the priests use when they say mass, and carrying in his hand a testimonial of his abstinence under the Pope's seal. He gave there the like proof, and was allowed some fifty ducats to make his expense towards the Holy Sepulchre, which he pretended to visit. This voyage he performed, and then returned home, bringing with him some palm-tree leaves and a scripful of stones, which he said were a part of the pillar to which our Saviour was tied when he was scourged; and coming by London, went up into the pulpit in Paul's churchyard, where he cast forth many speeches against the divorce of King Henry from Katherine his queen, inveighing bitterly against him for his defection from the Roman see, and thereupon was thrust into prison, in which he continued fifty days fasting.

John Scott, the faster, is alluded to by his relative Scott of Satchells, an old soldier of the German wars, who, about 1688, drew up a strange rhyming chronicle of the genealogies of the Scotts and other Border families, which he published, and of which a new edition appeared at Hawick in 1784. The author plainly tells that he was

'-------ane that can write nave
But just the letters of his name,

and accordingly his verses are far from being either elegant in form or clear in meaning. Yet we can gather from him that the faster was John Scott of Borthwick, son of Walter Scott, of the family of Buccleuch, since ennobled.

Hearne states (Leland's Itinerary, vi., preface) that the story of John Scott, the fasting-man, was investigated with great care by Signor Albergati, of Bononia, and set down by him in a paper which is preserved, and of which he prints a copy. The learned signor affirms that he himself took strict means of testing the verity of Scott's fasting power during a space of eleven days in his own house, and no fallacy was detected. He put the man into clothes of his own, locked him up, kept the key himself, and did not allow meat or drink to come near him. He ends the document, which is dated the 1st of September 1532, with a solemn protestation of its truthfulness.

The industrious Dr. Robert Plot quotes these two fasting cases in his Natural History of Staffordshire, and adds a third, of a somewhat different nature. Mary Waughton, of Wigginton, in Staffordshire, had been accustomed, he tells us, from her cradle to live upon an amount of food and liquor so much below what is customary, that she had become a local wonder. She does not eat in a day, he says, 'a piece above the size of half-a-crown in bread and butter; or, if meat, not above the quantity of a pigeon's egg at most. She drinks neither wine, ale, or beer, but only water or milk, or both mixed, and of either of these scarce a spoonful in a day. And yet she is a maiden of a fresh complexion, and healthy enough, very piously disposed, of the Church of England, and therefore the less likely to put a trick upon the world; besides, 'tis very well known to many worthy persons with whom she has lived, that any greater quantities, or different liquors, have always made her sick.''

In 1751, a young French girl, Christina Michelot, was attacked with a fever, which was followed by many distressing consequences, one of which was an inability or disinclination to take food. Water was her constant beverage, unaccompanied by any solid food whatever. From November in the year above named, until July 1755, this state of things continued. She was about eleven years old when the attack commenced; and M. Lardillon, a physician who attended her three years afterwards, expressed a belief that she would yet surmount her strange malady, and eat again. This opinion was borne out by the result. Her case attracted much attention among the medical men of France, who tested its credibility by various observations. In 1762, Ann Walsh, of Harrowgate, a girl of twelve years old, suddenly lost her appetite. For eighteen months her daily sustenance consisted solely of one-third of a pint of wine and water. Her good looks and general state of health suffered little; and she gradually recovered her normal condition.

About the same time a boy was living at Chateauroux, in France, who was not known to have taken any kind of food for a whole year; he had strength enough to assist his father's labourers in field work, but he became very thin and cadaverous. The accounts recorded lead to the conclusion that his inclination for food returned when the malady was removed which had brought on the abstinence. The journals of 1766 noticed with wonder the case of a gentleman at Clapham, who for twenty-five years had tasted no butcher's meat, and no beverage but water; but the professed vegetarians can doubtless adduce many instances analogous to this.

In 1771, a man at Stamford, for a wager of ten pounds, kept himself for fifty-one days without any kind of solid food or milk; he won his wager, but probably inflicted more than ten pounds worth of damage upon his constitution. In 1772, occurred the case which has become known as Pennant's fasting woman of Ross-shire, Pennant having described it in his Tour. Katherine M'Leod, aged thirty-five, was attacked with fever, which occasioned partial blindness, and almost total inability to take food. Her parents sometimes put a little into her mouth; but for a year and three-quarters they had no evidence that either food or drink passed down her throat. Once, now and then, by a forcible opening of the mouth and depression of the tongue, they sought to compel the passage of food; but a suffocating constriction led them to desist from their course. When Pennant saw her, she was in a miserable state of body and mind.

In 1774, attention was drawn to the case of Monica Mutcheteria, a Swabian woman, about thirty-seven years of age, who had been attacked by fever and nervous maladies several years before. For two years she could take no other sustenance than a little curds and whey and water; for another year, she took (according to the narrative) not a single atom of food or drop of liquid, and she did not sleep during the three years. The difficulty in all such narratives is not to believe the main story, but to believe that the truth goes so far as the story asserts. Monica, it is said, swallowed a bit of the consecrated wafer once a month, when the Eucharist was administered to her; if this were so, other small efforts at swallowing might have been practicable. In 1786, Dr. Willan, an eminent physician whose labours have been noticed by Dr. Marshall Hall, was called in to attend a monomaniac who had been sixty-one days without food. The physician adopted a course which threw a little sustenance into the system, and kept the man alive for seventeen days longer; but there seems to have been no doubt entertained that he really fasted for the space of time named.

One of' the most curious cases of the kind was the exploit of Ann Moore, the 'Fasting woman of Tutbury,' who, in and about the year 1809, astonished the public by her assertion, or the assertion made by others concerning her, of a power to remain without food. The exposure, while it showed the possibility of really wonderful things in this way, equally showed how possible is deception in such matters. Several gentlemen in the neighbourhood, suspecting that Ann Moore's performances were not quite genuine, formed a plan by which they should become cognizant of any attempt to give this woman food or drink. She held on resolutely till the ninth day; when, worn out with debility and emaciation, she yielded, partook of food like other persons, and signed the following confession:

I, Ann Moore, of Tutbury, humbly asking pardon of all persons whom I have attempted to deceive and impose upon, and, above all, with the most unfeigned sorrow and contrition imploring the Divine mercy and forgiveness of that God whom I have so greatly offended, do most solemnly declare that I have occasionally taken sustenance during the last six years.

Of course, the detection of one imposture does not condemn other eases, for simulation of truth is a course open to every one. It gives us, however, to suspect that if equal care had been taken in other cases, similar detections might have followed. The question of the possibility must remain unresolved. We know that the need of nutrition depends on the fact of waste. If, in certain abnormal circumstances, waste be interrupted, the need of nutrition must be interrupted also, and a fasting woman like Cecilia Ridgway, or a fasting man like John Scott, will become a possibility of nature.


The sportsmen of the middle ages invented a peculiar kind of language, with which it was necessary to be acquainted when speaking of things belonging to the chase. Different kinds of beasts, when going together in companies, were distinguished each by their own particular epithet, which was in some way descriptive of the nature or habits of the animal to which it was applied; and to have made a wrong use of one of these would have subjected him who made the mistake to undisguised ridicule; indeed, such is still the case, and to use the word dog, when sporting language would have that animal called a hound, would be an offence which the ears of a sportsman would not tolerate, and of which it would be no palliation to argue that, though every dog is not a hound, still, every hound is a dog.

Of the epithets applied to companies of beasts in past times several are in use at the present day, though the greater part have passed away from us; or if they have not entirely done so, they are not all universally employed, though perhaps every one of them might still be found in existence if sought in the different counties of England. Of those which we daily apply we are at a loss to account for the origin in many cases, though no doubt when first employed the application seemed natural and descriptive enough; but as words are continually undergoing change in their spelling, or are subject to become obsolete or repudiated because old fashioned, we come, in time, no longer to recognise their source.

The following list will show what were those invented in the middle ages and what we retain. There was said to be a pride of lions; a lepe of leopards; a herde of harts, of bucks, and of all sorts of deer; a bevy of roes; a sloth, of bears; a singular of boars; a sounder of wild swine; a doyft of tame swine; a route of wolves; a harms of hoses; a rag of colts; a stud of mares; a pace of asses; a baren of mules; a team of oxen; a drove of kine; a flock of sheep; a tribe of goats; a skulk of foxes; a cete of badgers; a richesse of martins; a fesynes of ferrets; a huske, or down of hares; a nest of rabbits; a clowder of cats, and a kindle of young cats; a shrewdness of apes, and a labour of moles. Also, of animals when they retired to rest, a hart was said to be harbored, a buck lodged, a roebuck bedded, a hare formed, a rabbit set. Two greyhounds were called a brace, and three a leash, but two harriers or spaniels were called a couple. We have also a mute of hounds for a number, a kennel of raches, a litter of whelps, and a cowardice of curs.

This kind of descriptive phraseology was not confined to birds and beasts and other of the brute creation, but extended to the human species and their various natures, propensities, and callings, as shown in the list below, in which the meaning of the epithets is more obvious than in many of the foregoing.

Here we have: a state of princes; a skulk of friars; a skulk of thieves; an observance of hermits; a subtiltie of sergeants; a safeguard of porters; a stalk of foresters; a blast of hunters; a draught of butlers; a temperance of cooks; a melody of harpers; a poverty of pipers; a drunkenship of cobblers; a disguising of tailors; a wandering of tinkers; a fighting of beggars; a ragful (a netful) of knaves; a blush of boys; a bevy of ladies; a nonpatience of wives; a gagle of women and a gagle of geese. As applied to inanimate things, there was a cluster of grapes, a cluster of nuts, a caste of bread, &c.

The cluster of grapes and of nuts we are well acquainted with, but the caste of bread is quite gone, probably because bread is no longer baked in the same way as formerly, for by the word caste is meant that whole quantity of bread which was baked in a tin with divisions in it, or in a set of moulds all run together, and in that way the word is used as of something cast in a mould, as we say of metal. No doubt there was as much reason in all the terms when they were invented, and, as to the use of them, we are as rigorous as ever where we have them at all. Who would dare to call two horses anything bat a pair when they are harnessed to a carriage, though they may be two in any other situation, and although four horses are four, let them be where they will. Then, two pheasants are a brace, two fowls are a pair, and two ducks are a couple, and so we might go on with an endless number.