25th February

Born: Germain de Saint Foix, 1703, Rennes.

Died: William Lilly, master of St. Paul's School, London, 1523; Robert Earl of Essex, beheaded, 1600; Count Wallenstein, commander, assassinated, 1634, Eger; Frederick I (of Prussia), 1713; Sir Christopher Wren, architect, 1723, St. James's; Dr. William Buchan, 1805, St. Pancras; George Don, naturalist, 1856.

Feast Day: St. Victorinus, and six companions, martyrs, 284. St. Caesarius, physician of Constantinople, 369. St. Walbarge, virgin, of England, 779. St. Tarasius, patriarch of Constantinople, 806.


This famous schoolmaster, the friend of Erasmus and Sir Thomas More, was born at Odiham, Hants, about 1468; he was educated at Oxford University, and then travelled to the East, to acquire a knowledge of the Greek language. On his return to England he set up a private grammar-school, and was the first teacher of Greek in the metropolis. In 1512, Dean Colet, who had just founded. St. Paul's School, appointed Lily the first master. In the following year he produced his Grammar, which has probably passed through more editions than any work of its kind, and is used to this day in St. Paul's School; the English rudiments were written by Colet, and the preface to the first edition by Cardinal Wolsey; the Latin syntax chiefly by Erasmus; and the remainder by Lily; the book being thus the joint production of four of the greatest scholars of the age. Lily held the mastership of St. Paul's School for nearly twelve years; he died of the plague in London, and was buried in the north churchyard of St. Paul's, within bow-shot of the school to whose early celebrity he had so essentially contributed.


There is scarcely a personage in history of more awe striking character than Count Wallenstein, the commander of the Emperor's armies in that struggle with Protestantism, the Thirty Years' War.

Born of high rank in 1583, Wallenstein found himself at forty chief of the imperial armies, and the possessor of immense wealth. Concentrating a powerful mind on one object, the gratification of his ambition, he attained it to a remarkable degree, and was for some time beyond doubt the greatest subject in Europe. In managing troops by a merciless discipline, in making rapid marches, in the fiery energy of his attacks upon the enemy, he was unrivalled. In but one battle, that of Lutzen, where he met the Protestant army under Gustavus of Sweden, was he unsuccessful.

The personality and habits of the man have been strikingly described by Michiels in his History of the Austrian Government.

Wallenstein's immense riches, his profound reserve, and theatrical manners, were the principal means he employed to exalt the imagination of the masses. He always appeared in public surrounded by extraordinary pomp, and allowed all those attached to his house to share in his luxury. His officers lived sumptuously at his table, where never less than one hundred dishes were served. As he rewarded with excessive liberality, not only the multitude but the greatest personages were dazzled by this Asiatic splendour. Six gates gave entrance to his palace at Prague, to make room for which he had pulled down one hundred houses. Similar chateaux were erected by his orders on all his numerous estates. Twenty-four chamberlains, sprung from the most noble families, disputed the honour of serving him, and some sent back the golden key, emblem of their grade, to the Emperor, in order that they might wait on Wallenstein.
He educated sixty pages, dressed in blue velvet and gold, to whom he gave the first masters; fifty truants guarded his ante-chamber night and day; six barons and the same number of chevaliers were constantly within call to bear his orders. His maître-d'hôtel was a person of distinction. A thousand persons usually formed his household, and about one thousand horses filled his stables, where they fed from marble mangers. When he set out on his travels, a hundred carriages, drawn by four or six horses, convoyed his servants and baggage; sixty carriages and fifty led horses carried the people of his suite; ten trumpeters with silver bugles preceded the procession. The richness of his liveries, the pomp of his equipages, and the decoration of his apartments, were in harmony with all the rest. In a hall of his palace at Prague he had himself painted in a triumphal car, with a wreath of laurels round his head, and a star above him.
Wallenstein's appearance was enough in itself to inspire fear and respect. His tall thin figure, his haughty attitude, the stern expression of his pale face, his wide forehead, that seemed formed to command, his black hair, close-shorn and harsh, his little dark eyes, in which the flame of authority shone, his haughty and suspicious look, his thick moustaches and tufted beard, produced, at the first glance, a startling sensation. His usual dress consisted of a justaucorps of elk skin, covered by a white doublet and cloak; round his neck he wore a Spanish ruff; in his hat fluttered a large red plume, while scarlet pantaloons and boots of Cordova leather, carefully padded on account of the gout, completed his ordinary attire. While his army devoted itself to pleasure, the deepest silence reigned around the general. He could not endure the rumbling of carts, loud conversations, or even simple sounds.
One of his chamberlains was hanged for waking him without orders, and an officer secretly put to death because his spurs had clanked when he came to the general. His servants glided about the rooms like phantoms, and a dozen patrols incessantly moved round his tent or palace to maintain perpetual tranquillity. Chains were also stretched across the streets, in order to guard him against any sound. Wallenstein was ever absorbed in himself, ever engaged with his plans and designs. He was never seen to smile, and his pride rendered him inaccessible to sensual pleasures. His only fanaticism was ambition. This strange chief meditated and acted incessantly, only taking counsel of himself, and disdaining strange advice and inspirations. When he gave any orders or explanations, he could not bear to be looked at curiously; when he crossed the camp, the soldiers were obliged to pretend that they did not see him. Yet they experienced an involuntary shudder when they saw him pass like a super-natural being. There was something about him mysterious, solemn, and awe-inspiring. He walked alone, surrounded by this magic influence, like a saddening halo.

The end of Wallenstein was such as might have been anticipated. Becoming too formidable for a subject, he was denounced to the Emperor by Piccolomini, who obtained a commission to take the great general dead or alive. On the 25th of February 1634, he was assailed in the Castle of Eger by a band, in which were included one Gordon, a Scotsman, and one Butler, an Irishman, and fell under a single stroke of a partizan, dying in proud silence, as he had lived.


Wren's long and useful life, although protracted by activity and temperance much beyond the usual term of man's existence, was brought to a close by an accident. After his dismissal from the office of Surveyor-General, he occupied a town residence in St. James's-street, Piccadilly, and continued to superintend the repairs of Westminster Abbey. He also rented from the Crown a house at Hampton Court, where he often retired, and there he passed the greater part of the last five years of his life in study and contemplation. On his last journey from Hampton Court to London, he contracted a cold, which accelerated his death. The good old man had, in his latter days, accustomed himself to sleep a short time after his dinner, and on the 25th of February 1723, his servant, thinking his master had slept longer than usual, went into his room, and found him dead in his chair. He was in his ninety-first year.

The funeral of Wren was attended by an assemblage of honourable and distinguished personages, from his house in St. James's-street to St. Paul's Cathedral, where his remains were deposited in the crypt, adjoining to others of his family, in the recess of the south-eastern window, under the choir. His grave is covered with a black marble slab, with a short inscription in English; and on the western jamb of the window recess is a handsome tablet, with a Latin inscription written by the architect's son, Christopher, in which are the words, 'Lector, si monumentum quaeris, circumspice,' which. instruction, to 'look around,' has led to the conclusion that the tablet was intended for the body of the cathedral, where the public might read it. It is understood that the malice of the commissioners for rebuilding St. Paul's pursued Wren beyond the grave, and condemned the explanatory epitaph to the crypt, where it could be read but by comparatively few persons. Many years afterwards, Mr. Robert Mylne, architect, had a copy of the inscription placed over the marble screen to the choir, which has since been removed.

Wren adorned London with no fewer than forty public buildings, but was the worst paid architect of whom we have any record: his annual salary as architect of St. Paul's was £200; and his pay for rebuilding the churches in the city was only £100 a year.


Who has not heard of Buchan's Domestic Medicine, the medical Mentor, 'the guide, philosopher, and friend' of past generations, and scarcely yet superseded by Graham and Macaulay? This book, bearing on its title-page the epigraph, 'The knowledge of a disease is half its cure,' a sort of temptation to the reading of medical books in general, first appeared in 1769: it speedily obtained popularity by the plain and familiar style in which it is written; and no less than nineteen editions of the book, amounting to 80,000 copies, were sold during the author's life-time.

Dr. Buchan, who was born in Roxburghshire, in 1729, long enjoyed a good London practice as a physician. He lived many years at the house of his son, Dr Alexander Buchan, No. 6, Percy-street, Bedford-square; and there he died, at the age of seventy-six: he was buried in the west cloister of Westminster Abbey church.

It was Buchan's practice to see patients at the Chapter Coffee-house, in Paternoster-row, where he usually might be found in 'the Wittenagemot,' a box in the north-east corner of the coffee-room. Though he was a high Tory, he heard the political discussions of the place with good humour, and commonly acted as a moderator, an office for which his fine physiognomy, and his venerable white hairs, highly qualified him. His son belonged to the same club or set, and though somewhat dogmatical, added to the variety and intelligence of the discussions, which, from the mixture of the company, were as various as the contents of a newspaper.

Of this same Wittenagemot Dr. George Fordyce and Dr. Gower were also members; and it was very amusing to hear them in familiar chat with Dr. Buchan. On subjects of medicine they seldom agreed, and when such were started, they generally laughed at one another's opinions. They liberally patronised Chapter punch, which always bore a high reputation in London. If any one complained of being indisposed, Buchan would exclaim:

'Now, let me prescribe for you. Here, John or Isaac, bring a glass of punch for Mr -, unless he likes brandy-and-water better. Take that, sir, and I'll warrant you'll soon be well-you're a peg too low, you want stimulus; and if one glass won't do, call for a second.'

Buchan's Domestic Medicine was written in Sheffield; and James Montgomery, in his Memoirs, relates the following particulars of the author:

I remember seeing the old gentleman when I first went to London. He was of venerable aspect, neat in his dress, his hair tied behind with a large black ribbon, and a gold-headed cane in his hand, quite realizing my idea of an Esculapian dignitary.' Montgomery acknowledges that he never spoke to the Doctor, as he was quite out of his reach; but he looked upon him with respect, as a man who had published a book. In one of the Scottish editions of Buchan, there was an astounding misprint, in which a prescription containing one hundred ounces of laudanum, instead of that number of drops, is recommended.

In no other science does Pope's maxim that 'a little learning is a dangerous thing ' hold so strongly as in medicine; for those who read medical works, professing to be popular, are almost certain to suppose themselves affected with every disease about which they read. They forthwith take alarm at the probable consequences, and having some lurking suspicion that they may have mistaken the symptoms, they follow the prescriptions laid down in their book in secret, lest they should bring themselves into open ridicule.

Goalie shrewdly remarks:

He who studies his body too much becomes diseased -his mind, becomes mad

and there is an old Italian epitaph which, with a little amendment, would run thus:

I was well-I wished to be better-read medical books-took medicine-and died.


Towards the close of February 1744, the threatened invasion of England by the French, accompanied by the young Pretender, caused a general alarm throughout the kingdom, and all Roman Catholics were prohibited from appearing within ten miles of London. We had then three ships in the Downs; but the landing was expected to be in Essex or Suffolk. Walpole writes from the House of Commons, February 16th:

We have come nearer to a crisis than I expected! After the various reports about the Brest squadron, it has proved that they are sixteen ships of the line off Torbay; in all probability to draw our fleet from Dunkirk, where they have two men-of-war, and sixteen large Indiamen to transport eight thousand foot and two thousand horse which are there in the town. There has been some difficulty to persuade the people of the imminence of our danger; but yesterday the King sent a message to both Houses to acquaint us that he has certain information of the young Pretender being in France, and of the designed invasion from thence, in concert with the disaffected here.

Immediately addresses were moved to assure the King of standing by him with lives and fortunes. All the troops were sent for, in the greatest haste, to London; and an express to Holland to demand six thousand men. On the 23rd, Walpole writes:

There is no doubt of the invasion: the young Pretender is at Calais, and the Count de Saxe is to command the embarkation. Sir John Norris was to sail yesterday to Dunkirk, to try to burn their transports; we are in the utmost expectation of the news. The Brest squadron was yesterday on the coast of Sussex.

On the 25th of February, the English Channel fleet under Sir John Norris came within a league of the Brest squadron. Walpole says the coasts were covered with people to see the engagement; but at seven in the evening the wind changed, and the French fleet escaped. A violent storm shattered and wrecked the transports, and the expedition was glad to put back to Dunkirk. The dread of the invasion was then at an end.

With regard to the disaffected' mentioned in the King's message, Mr. P. Yorke notes in his Parliamentary Journal:

'1744, February 13. Talking upon this subject with Horace Walpole, he told me confidently that Admiral Matthews intercepted last summer a felucca in her passage from Toulon to Genoa, on board of which were found several papers of great consequence, relating to a French invasion in concert with the Jacobites; one of them particularly was in the style of an invitation from several of the nobility and gentry of England to the Pretender. These papers, he thought, had not been sufficiently looked into, and were not laid before the cabinet council until the night before the message was sent to both Houses.'

The invasion designed in 1744 did not take place, but in the next year the young Pretender, as is well known, came with only seven men, and nearly overturned the government.

Two horses free, a third doth swiftly chase,
The one is white, the other black of hue;
None bridles have for to restrain their pace,
And thus they both the other still pursue;
And never cease continual course to make,
Until at length the first they overtake.
The foremost horse that runs so fast away,
It is our time, while here our race we rim;
The black and white presenteth night and day,
Who after haste, until the goal be won;
And leave us not, but follow from our birth,
Until we yield, and turn again to earth.