26th April

Born: Thomas Reid (moral philosophy), 1710, Strachan, Kincardineshire; David Hume, philosopher and historian, 1711, Edinburgh; Johann Ludwig Uhland, German poet, 1787.

Died: Ferdinand Magellan, Portuguese navigator, killed, 1521, Isle of Matan; John, Lord Somers, Lord High Chancellor of England, 1697-1700, statesman, 1716, North Mims; Jeremy Collier, writer against the stage, 1726, London; Sir Eyre Coote, military commander, 1783, Madras; Carsten Niebuhr, traveller, 1815, Meldorf in Holstein; Henry Cockburn, author of 'Memorials of Edinburgh,' &c., 1854.

Feast Day: Saints Cletius and Marcellinus, popes and martyrs, 1st and 3rd centuries. St. Riquier, or Ricardus, French anchoret, about 645. St. Paschasius Radbert, abbot of Corwei, in Saxony, about 865.


The exact or parochial nativity of David Hume has never been stated. It was the Tron church parish in Edinburgh, as appears from a memorandum in his father's handwriting among the family papers. The father was a small laird on the Whitadder, in Berwickshire, within sight of English ground, and the family mansion, where David must have spent many of his early years, was a plain small house, as here represented, taking its name of Ninewells from a remarkable spring, which breaks out in the steep bank, descending from the front of the house to the river.

Ninewells House

The sketch of Ninewells House here given-the more curious, as the house has long since been superseded by a neat modern mansion-is from Drummond's History of Noble British Families. The eccentric author of the work says, underneath: 'It is a favourable specimen of the best Scotch lairds' houses, by the possession of which they think themselves entitled to modify their family coats, and establish coats of their own.'

A remarkable circumstance in the early history of the philosopher has been little regarded. Though. of good descent, and the nephew of a Scotch peer, he was compelled, by the narrow circumstances of the family, to attempt a mercantile career at Bristol when a little over twenty years of age. We know nothing of what he did, with whom he was placed, or how he chiefly spent his time while aiming at a mercantile life in the city of the west; but we are made aware by himself that the scene was an alien one. He seems to have looked back with some degree of bitterness to his sojourn in Bristol, if we may judge from a little quiet sarcasm at the place which he utters in his History of England. He is there describing James Naylor, the quaker's, entry into the city at the time of the civil war, in imitation of that of Christ into Jerusalem:

He was mounted,' says Hume, 'on a horse;' then adds, 'I suppose from the difficulty in that place of finding as ass.

Doubtless, David believed there could have been no difficulty in finding an ass in Bristol.

It is a curious fact, sometimes adverted to in Edinburgh, but which we cannot authenticate, that in the room in which David Hume died, the Bible Society of Edinburgh was many years afterwards constituted, and held its first meeting.


The antiquary Hearne, as an illustration of the views of the early reformed church of England regarding amusements for the people on Sundays, brings forward the following license issued by Elizabeth on the 26th of April, in the eleventh year of her reign (1569):

To all mayors, sheriff's, constables, and other head officers within the county of Middlesex. After our hearty commendations, whereas we are informed that one John Seconton, poulter, dwelling within the parish of St. Clement's Danes, being a poor man, having four small children, and fallen into decay, is licensed to have and use some plays and games at or upon several Sundays, for his better relief, comfort, and sustentation, within the county of Middlesex, to commence and begin at and from the 22nd of May next coming, after the date hereof, and not to remain in one place not above three several Sundays; and we considering that great resort of people is like to come thereunto, we will and require of you, as well for good order as also for the preservation of the Queen's Majesty's peace, that you take with you four or five of the discreet and substantial men within your office or liberties where the games shall be put in practice, then and there to foresee and do your endeavour to your best in that behalf, during the continuance of the games or plays, which games are hereafter severally mentioned; that is to say, the shooting with the standard, the shooting with the broad arrow, the shooting at twelve score prick, the shooting at the Turk, the leaping for men, the running for men, the wrestling, the throwing of the sledge, and the pitching of the bar, with all such other games as have at any time heretofore or now be licensed, used, or played. Given the 26th day of April, in the eleventh year of the Queen's Majesty's reign.

In connexion with the above, it may be worth while to advert to the fact that, on the 27th September, 1631, being Sunday, the play of the Midsummer Night's Dream was privately performed in the Bishop of Lincoln's house in London. The Puritans had influence to get this affair inquired into and visited with punishment, and there is something rather humorous in what was decreed to the performer of Bottom the weaver:

We do order that Mr. Wilson, as he was a special plotter and contriver of this business, and did in such a brutish manner act the same with an ass's head, shall upon Tuesday next, from six o'clock in the morning till six o'clock at night, sit in the porter's lodge at my lord bishop's house, with his feet in the stocks, and attired with an ass's head, and a bottle of hay before him, and this subscription on his breast:
Good people, I have played the beast,
And brought ill things to pass;
I was a man, but thus have made,
Myself a silly ass.