Born: Sir William Jones, oriental scholar, 1746, London.
Died: Emperor Lothaire I, 855; Henry VI, emperor of Germany, 1197; Jean Baptiste Massillon, celebrated French preacher, 1742; Thomas Day, author of Sandford and Merton, 1789, Wargrave-upon-Thames; Granville Penn, miscellaneous writer, 1844, Stoke Park, Bucks; Thomas Amyot, literary antiquary, 1850, London; Dr. Karl Ritter, distinguished geographer, 1859, Berlin.
Feast Day: St. Eustochium, virgin, about 419. St. Exuperius, bishop of Toulouse, beginning of 5th century. St. Lioba, abbess, about 779. St. Wenceslas, Duke of Bohemia, martyr, 938.
Rousseau's ideal of education was a cross between the Red Indian and the Spartan. The influence of his fervid advocacy was greatest in France, but he did not lack thorough-going disciples in England, who reduced some of his most questionable dogmas to practice. Mrs. Gaskell, in her Life of Charlotte Brontê, relates that she had an aunt who, in her childhood, was adopted by a wealthy couple, with the purpose of training her on French and philosophic principles. Her food and clothing were of the simplest and rudest description; but for this she did not mind, being healthy and merry, and indifferent to dress and eating; her hardship lay in the fact, that she and a favourite dog were taken for an airing in the carriage on alternate days; the creature whose turn it was to be left at home being tossed in a blanket-an operation which the girl especially dreaded. Her aversion to the tossing was the reason why it was persevered in. She had grown indifferent to dressed-up ghosts, and so the blanket-exercise was selected as the next mode of hardening her nerves.
One of the most notable of Rousseau's English followers was Thomas Day, the author of Sandford and Merton, a book which several generations of children have heartily enjoyed for its stories, without a thought of its philosophy. Day was born in Wellclose Square, London, in 1748. His father held a place in. the custom-house, and left him a fortune of £1200 a year. He was educated at the Charterhouse and Oxford, and spent some summers in France, where, with all the enthusiasm of youth, he received the new philosophy of education, condemning old systems as wholly vicious, and believing that no perfection of character was unattainable under Rousseau's.
Having resolved on marriage, he determined that his wife should be modelled in accordance with the new light. He therefore went to an orphan asylum at Shrewsbury, and picked out a fiaxen-haired girl of twelve, whom he named Sabrina Sidney, after the Severn and Algernon Sidney; and then to the Foundling Hospital in London, where he selected a second, whom he called Lucretia. In taking these girls, he gave a written pledge, that within a year he would place one of them with a respectable tradesman, giving £100 to bind her apprentice, and that he should maintain her, if she should turn out well, until she married or commenced business, in either of which cases he would advance £500. With Sabrina and Lucretia he set off for France, in order that, in quiet, he might discover and discipline their characters. He, however, and the girls quarrelled; next they took small-pox, and he had to nurse them night and day; and by and by he was glad to return to London, and get Lucretia off his hands by apprenticing her to a milliner on Ludgate Hill. It is pleasant to know that she behaved well; and that on her marriage to a substantial linen-draper, Day cheerfully produced his promised dowry of £500.
Poor Sabrina was reserved for further trial, but by no means could she qualify for Mrs. Day; against the sense of pain and danger no discipline could fortify her. When Day dropped melting sealing-wax on her arms, she flinched; and when he fired pistols at her garments, she started and screamed. When he tried her fidelity by telling her pretended secrets, she divulged them in gossip with the servants. Finally, she exhausted his patience by wearing thin sleeves for ornament, instead of warmth, when out on a visit. He packed her off to an ordinary boarding-school, kept her there for three years, allowed her £50 a year, gave her £500 on her marriage to a barrister; and when she became a widow with two boys, he pensioned her with £30 a year. Failing to educate a wife, he was content to marry, in 1788, Miss Milnes of Wakefield, a lady whose opinions nearly coincided with his own, and who was willing to abjure all vanities in dress. Day was killed in 1789 by a kick from a young horse, which he was trying to train on a new method.
In the year 1749, the remote Highland district of Braemar, in Aberdeenshire, was the scene of a murder, which was subsequently alleged to have been discovered through the instrumentality of the ghost of the murdered person; to which effect evidence was given on the trial of two men before the High Court of Justiciary in Edinburgh. From the details of the trial, which have been printed in a separate volume by the Bannatyne Club, Sir Walter Scott framed a brief narrative, which may serve on the present occasion, with the help of a few additional particulars:
Upon the 10th of June 1754, Duncan Terig alias Clark, and Alexander Bain Macdonald, two Highlanders, were tried before the Court of Justiciary, Edinburgh, for the murder of Arthur Davis, sergeant in Guise's Regiment, on the 28th of September 1749.
The accident happened not long after the civil war [of 1745], the embers of which were still reeking, so there existed too many reasons on account of which an English soldier, straggling far from assistance, might be privately cut off by the inhabitants of these wilds.
[Davis had a fowling-piece, and money and rings upon his person, and some of his valuables were afterwards seen in possession of the accused. Robbery seems to have been the sole object of his murderers.]
It appears that Sergeant Davis was amissing many years without any certainty as to his fate. At length an account of the murder appeared from the evidence of one Alexander Macpherson [or Macgillies], (a Highlander [a farm-servant at lnverey, and about twenty-six years of age], speaking no langnage but Gaelic, and sworn by an interpreter), who gave the following extraordinary account of his cause of knowledge; He was, he said, in bed in his cottage, when an apparition came to his bedside, and commanded him to rise and follow him out of doors. Believing his visitor to be one Farquharson, a neighbour and friend, the witness did as he was bid; and when they were without the cottage, the appearance told the witness he was the ghost of Sergeant Davis, and requested him to go and bury his mortal remains, which lay concealed in a place which he pointed out, in a moor-land tract, called the hill of Christie. He desired him to take [Donald] Farquharson as an assistant.
Next day the witness went to the place specified, and there found the bones of a Human body, much decayed. The witness did not at the time bury the bones so found; in consequence of which the sergeant's ghost again appeared to him, upbraiding him with his breach of promise. On this occasion, the witness asked the ghost who were the murderers,, and received for answer that he had been slain by the prisoners at the bar. The witness, after this second visitation, called the assistance of Farquharson, and buried the body.
Farquharson was brought in evidence, to prove that the preceding witness, Macpherson, had called him to the burial of the bones, and told him the same story which he repeated in court. Isabel Machardie, a person who slept in one of the beds which run along the wall in an ordinary Highland hut, declared that upon the night when Macpherson said he saw the ghost, she saw a naked man enter the house, and go towards Macpherson's bed. [More in detail her evidence was this: I She saw some-thing naked come in at the door; which frighted her so much that she drew the clothes over her head: that when it appeared, it came in a bowing posture; that she cannot tell what it was; that next morning she asked Macpherson what it was that had troubled them the night before ? and that he answered, she might be easy, for it would not trouble her any more.']
Yet, though the supernatural incident was thus fortified, and although there were other strong presumptions against the prisoners, the story of the apparition threw an air of ridicule on the whole evidence for the prosecution. It was followed up by the counsel for the prisoners asking, in the cross-examination of Macpherson: 'What language did the ghost speak in?' The witness, who was himself ignorant of the English language, replied: 'As good Gaelic as I ever heard in Lochaber.' 'Pretty well for the ghost of an English sergeant,' answered the counsel. The inference was rather smart and plausible than sound, for the apparition of the ghost being admitted, we know too little of the other world to judge whether all languages may not be alike familiar to those who belong to it. It imposed, however, on the jury, who found the accused parties Not guilty, although their counsel and solicitor,' and most of the court, were satisfied of their having committed the murder.
Scott's hypothesis for the explanation of the alleged apparition, is that giving information is unpopular in the Highlands, and Macpherson got up the ghost-story, 'knowing well that his superstitious countrymen would pardon his communicating the commission intrusted to him by a being of the other world.' This hypothesis (whatever other may be adopted) is not only without support in positive fact, but it assumes a degree of anxiety for the execution of justice wholly gratuitous, and certainly far from characteristic of the Braemar Highlander of that day. It also ignores the corroborative evidence of Isabel Machardie. What is even more important, it is out of harmony with the chronology of the story, for Macpherson related his ghostly visitation and buried the sergeant's bones three years before any measures for the vindication of justice were taken, and' for anything that appears, no such measures would ever have been taken, but for the active interference of a retired officer of the army, named Small.
This gentleman seems to have been inspired with a strong feeling as a friend of the government and of the army, in contradistinction to the Jacobite sentiments which then largely prevailed. So vigorous were his efforts to make out evidence against the murderers of Davis, that it was taken notice of in the formal defences of the accused, and orally by their counsel, the eminent Mr. Lockhart, who was notoriously a Jacobite. Small felt so much exasperated by the insinuations of the counsel, that he next day appeared in the Parliament Close, with his sword by his side, and made an assault upon Mr. Lockhart, as the latter was walking to the court; for which offence he was put in prison by the Lords, and only liberated on his making an apology. It seems to have been to this circumstance that Wedderburn alluded in his famous retort upon Lockhart, in the Court of Session in Edinburgh, when, stung by the overbearing manner of his senior, he reminded him of his having been disgraced in his person and dishonoured in his bed-a burst of sarcasm followed by his laying down his gown, and deserting the Scotch for the English bar.
The case of Sergeant Davis, remarkable as it is, does not stand quite singular. A similar one, which occurred in the county of Durham in the year 1631, has been related in many books, and is the subject of a critical historical inquiry in Surtees's History of Durham. The circumstances can be made out with tolerable clearness as follows:
One Walker, a yeoman of good estate, and a widower, living at Chester-le-Street, had in his service a young female relative named Anne Walker. The results of an amour which took place between them, caused Walker to send away the poor girl under the care of one Mark Sharp, a collier, professedly that she might be taken care of as befitted her condition, but in reality that she might no more be troublesome to her lover in this world.
Nothing was heard of her till, one night in the ensuing winter, an honest fuller, named James Graham, who lived about six miles from Walker's house, coming down from the upper to the lower floor of his mill, found a woman standing there, with her hair hanging about her head, in which were five bloody wounds. According to the man's evidence, afterwards given,* be asked her who she was, and what she wanted; when she gave an account of her sad fate, having been killed by Sharp on the moor in their journey, and thrown into a coal-pit hard by, while the instrument of her death, a pick, had been hid under a bank, along with his clothes, which were stained with her blood. She demanded of Graham that he should undertake the business of exposing her murder, and having her murderers punished.; a task he did not enter upon till she had twice reappeared to him, the last time with a threatening aspect.
The body, the pick and the bloody clothes being found as Graham described, little doubt remained that Walker and Sharp were the guilty men. They were tried at Durham before Judge Davenport in August 1631. The mode of discovery could not fail in that age to make a great impression, and produce much excitement at the trial. Hence it is not very surprising to hear that one of the jury, named Fairbair, alleged that he saw a child sitting on Walker's shoulder. The men were found guilty, condemned, and executed.