Born: Dr. John Gregory, miscellaneous writer, 1724, Aberdeen; Dr. James Hutton, one of the founders of geology, 1726, Edinburgh; Robert Tannahill, Scottish poet, 1774, Paisley; Sir William C. Ross, artist, 1794, London.
Died: Bishop (John) Aylmer, 1594, Fulham; William Harvey, discoverer of the circulation of the blood, 1657, buried. Hempstead, Essex; Admiral Opdam, blown up at sea, 1665; Dr. Edmund Calmly, nonconformist divine, 1732; Jethro Tull, speculative experimenter in agriculture, 1740.
Feast Day: St. Cecilius, confessor, 211. St. Clotildis or Clotilda, Queen of France, 545. St. Lifard, abbot, near Orleans, 6th century. St. Coemgen or Keivin, bishop and confessor in Ireland, 618. St. Genesius, bishop and confessor, about 662.
Jethro Tull was the inventor and indefatigable advocate of 'drill-sowing and frequent hoeing,' two of the greatest improvements that have been introduced into the modern system of agriculture. He was educated for the profession of the law, but an acute disease compelled him to relinquish a sedentary life. During his travels in search of health, he directed his attention to the agriculture of the various countries he traversed; and, observing that vines grew and produced well by frequently stirring the soil, without any addition of manure, he rashly concluded that all plants might be cultivated in a similar manner.
On his return to England, Tull commenced a life-long series of experiments on his own farm at Shalborne, in Berkshire; and in spite of a most painful disease, and the almost forcible opposition of besotted neighbours and brutally ignorant farm-labourers, he succeeded in gathering remunerative crops from the hungriest and barrenest of soils. His great invention was that of drill-sowing; the saving of seed effected by this practice is incalculable. From the scarcely numerable millions of acres that have been drill-sown since Tull's time, one-third at least of the seed has been saved. Nor is this all; the best informed agriculturists assert that this saving is of less importance than the facility which drill-sowing affords for the destruction of weeds and loosening of the soil by the hoe. It is true, that like many other speculative inventors, Tull arrived at conclusions scarcely justified by the results of his experiments, and principal among these was the erroneous notion that loosening and pulverizing the soil might supersede the use of manure altogether; but he lived long enough to discover his mistake, and he was honest and manly enough to acknowledge it.
Panegyrical inscriptions, graven on ponderous marble and perennial brass, point out the last resting-places of the destroyers of the human race; but, strange to say, no man can tell where the remains of Jethro Tull, the benefactor of his kind, were deposited. Mr. Johnson, speaking of Tull, says, 'His grave is undetermined; if he died at Shalborne, there is no trace of his burial in its parish register. The tradition of the neighbourhood is, that he died and was buried in Italy. His deeds, his triumphs, were of the peaceful kind with which the world in general is little enamoured: but their results were momentous to his native land. His drill has saved to it, in seed alone, the food of millions; and his horse-hoe system, by which he attempted to cultivate without manure, taught the farmer that deep ploughing and pulverization of the soil render a much smaller application of fertilizers necessary.'
KING JAMES AND THE TOWER LIONS
On the 3rd June 1605, King James and his family went to the Tower of London, to see the lions. From the time of Henry III, who placed in the Tower three leopards which had been sent him as a present from the Emperor Frederick, in allusion to the three leopards on the royal shield, there had always been some examples of the larger carnivora kept in this grim old seat of English royalty. It came td be considered as a proper piece of regal magnificence, and the keeper was always a gentleman. In the fourteenth century, to maintain a lion in the Tower cost sixpence a day, while human prisoners were supported for one penny. It cost, in 1532, £6,13s. 4d. to pay for and bring home a lion. To go and see these Tower lions became an indispensable duty of all country visitors of London, insomuch as to give rise to a proverbial expression, 'the lions' passing as equivalent to all kinds of city wonders which country people go to see. Travelling menageries did not long ago exist, and wild animals were great rarities. In such circumstances, the curiosity felt about the lions in the Tower can be readily appreciated. Even down to the reign of William IV, the collection of these animals was kept up in considerable strength; but at length it was thought best to consign the remnant of the Tower lions to the Zoological Gardens in the Regent's Park, where they have ever since flourished.
The taste of King James was not of the most refined character. It pleased him to have an addition made to the Tower lion-house, with an arrangement of trap-doors, in order that a lion might be occasionally set to combat with dogs, bulls, or bears, for the diversion of the court. The arena was now completed; so the monarch and a great number of courtiers came to see a fight. The designed gallery for their use was not ready; but they found seats on a temporary platform. When the under-keepers on this occasion got a couple of the lions turned out into the place of combat, they acted much like Don Quixote's lions: more amazed and puzzled than anything else, they merely stood looking about them till a couple of pieces of mutton were thrown to them. After a live cock had also been devoured by the savage creatures, a live lamb was let down to them by a rope. 'Being come to the ground, the lamb lay upon his knees, and both the lions stood in their former places, and only beheld the lamb. Presently the lamb rose up and went unto the lions, who very gently looked upon and smelled on him, without any hurt. Then the lamb was very softly drawn up again, in as good plight as he was let down.'
Afterwards, a different lion, a male one, was brought into the arena by himself, and a couple of mastiffs were let in upon him; by which he was fiercely attacked, but with little effect. 'A brended dog took the lion by the face, and turned him upon his back-but the lion spoiled them all; the best dog died the next day.'
In this and other combats of the same kind, the conduct of the lions was generally conformable to the observations of modern naturalists regarding the character of the so-called king of beasts. The royal family and principal courtiers having come to the Tower on the 23rd June 1609, a bear which had killed a child, a horse, and six strong mastiffs, was let in upon a lion, with only the effect of frightening the creature. 'Then were divers other lions put into that place one after another; but they showed no more sport nor valour than the first, and every of them, so soon as they espied the trap doors open, ran hastily into their dens. Lastly, there were put forth together the two young lusty lions which were bred in that yard, and were now grown great. These at first began to march proudly towards the bear, which the bear perceiving came hastily out of a corner to meet them; but both lion and lioness skipped up and down, and fearfully fled from the bear; and so these, like the former lions, not willing to endure any fight, sought the next way into their den.'
Such were amongst the amusements of the English court 250 years ago.
THE EMPRESS JOSEPHINE AND HER HOROSCOPE
On the 3rd of June 1814, a distinguished company of mourners assembled in the church of Ruel, in France, the parish in which the palace of Malmaison is situated. There were the Prince of Mecklenburg, General Sacken, several marshals of France, senators, general officers, ecclesiastics, prefects, sub-prefects, maires, and foreigners of note; and there were eight thou-sand townspeople and peasants from the neighbourhood, come to pay the last tribute of respect to one who, in the closing years of her life, had won their esteem and affection.
It was the funeral of the ex-Empress Josephine, a lady whose sixty years of life had been chequered in a most remarkable way. Josephine appears, as a woman, to have been actuated in some degree by a prediction made concerning her when a girl. Mademoiselle Ducrest, Madame Junot, and others who have written on Josephine's career, mention this prediction. Josephine-or, with her full name, Marie Josephine Rose Tascher de la Pagerie-was the daughter of a French naval officer, and was born in the French colony of Martinique, in 1763. When a sensitive, imaginative girl of about fifteen, her 'fortune was told,' by an old mulatto woman named Euphemie, in words somewhat as follows:
You will marry a fair man. Your star promises you two alliances. Your first husband will be born in Martinique, but will pass his life in Europe, with girded sword. An unhappy lawsuit will separate you. He will perish in a tragical manner. Your second husband will be a dark man, of European origin and small fortune; but he will fill the world with his glory and fame. You will then become an eminent lady, more than a queen. Then, after having astonished the world, you will die unhappy.
The writers on whose authority this mystic horoscope is put forward, do not fail to point out how perfectly the events of Josephine's life fit into it. By an arrangement between the two families, Mademoiselle de la Pagerie was married to the Comte de Beauharnois, a fair man, and a native of Martinique. The young people never liked each other; and when they went to Paris, each fell into the evil course of life which was likely to result from such aversion, and to which the state of morals in France lent only too much temptation. In a fit of jealousy, he went to Martinique to rake up evidence concerning his wife's conduct before marriage, and on return raised a suit against her: this was 'the unhappy lawsuit' that 'separated them.' From 1787 till 1790 she lived at Martinique with her two children, Eugene (afterwards one of Napoleon's best generals) and Hortense (afterwards mother of Napoleon III)
On their return to Paris, a reconciliation took place between her and her husband; and a period of comparative happiness lasted till 1793, when the guillotine put an end to his career. He 'perished in a tragical way.' Madame Beauharnois was imprisoned; she contrived to send her son and daughter away from home; but the Terrorists would not consent to let loose one who had been the wife of a count, and who for that reason was one of the aristocracy. While in prison, she showed that she did not forget the old mulatto woman's prediction. She and three other ladies of note being imprisoned in the same cell, they were all alike subject to the brutal language of the gaolers placed over them; and once, when the others were tearfully lamenting their fate, and anticipating the horrors of the guillotine, Josephine exclaimed - 'I shall not die: I shall be queen of France!'
The Duchess d'Aiguillon, one of her companions, with a feeble attempt at banter, asked her to 'name her future house-hold;' to which Josephine at once replied, 'I will make you one of my ladies of honour.' They wept, for they feared she was becoming demented. Robespierre's fall occurred in time to save the life of Josephine. After three years more of successful adventurous life, she was married to the young victorious general, Napoleon Bonaparte: 'a dark man, of European origin and small fortune.' Napoleon proceeded in his wonderful career of conquest, military and political, until at length he became emperor in 1804. Then was Josephine indeed ' an eminent lady, more than a queen;' and her husband 'filled the world with his glory and fame.' But the wheel of fortune was now turning. Napoleon. had no children by Josephine, and he began to fear for the succession to his great empire. His ambition led him to propose marriage to the Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria, after his victorious campaign of 1809; ho obtained poor Josephine's consent, in a heart-breaking scene, and the church allowed him to annul his first marriage, on grounds which would never have been allowed but for his enormous power. Josephine did 'die unhappy,' as a divorced wife; and thus fulfilled the last clause of the alleged prediction.
SUPERSTITIONS ABOUT DISEASES
Perhaps under this head may be classed the notion that a galvanic ring, as it is called, worn on the finger, will cure rheumatism. One sometimes sees people with a clumsy-looking silver ring which has a piece of copper let into the inside, and this, though in constant contact throughout, is supposed (aided by the moisture of the hand) to keep up a gentle, but continual galvanic current, and so to alleviate or remove rheumatism.
This notion has an air of science about it which may perhaps redeem it from the character of mere superstition; but the following case can put in no such claim. I recollect that when I was a boy a person carne to my father (a clergyman), and asked for a 'sacramental shilling,' i. e., one out of the alms collected at the Holy Communion, to be made into a ring, and worn as a cure for epilepsy. He naturally declined to give one for 'superstitious uses,' and no doubt was thought very cruel by the unfortunate applicant.
Ruptured children are expected to be cured by being passed through a young tree, which has been split for the purpose. After the operation has been performed, the tree is bound up, and, if it grows together again, the child will be cured of its rupture. I have not heard anything about this for many years; perhaps it has fallen into disuse. There is an article on the subject in one of Hone's books, I think, and there the witch elm is specified as the proper tree for the purpose; but, whether from the scarcity of that tree, or from any other cause, I am not aware that it was considered necessary in this locality.
Ague is a disease about which various strange notions are prevalent. One is that it cannot be cured by a regular doctor-it is out of their reach altogether, and can only be touched by some old woman's nostrum. It is frequently treated with spiders and cobwebs. These, indeed, are said to contain arsenic; and, if so, there may be a touch of truth in the treatment. Fright is also looked upon as a cure for ague. I suppose that, on the principle that similia similibus curantur, it is imagined that the shaking induced by the fright will counteract and destroy the shaking of the ague fit. An old woman has told me that she was actually cured in this manner when she was young. She had had ague for a long time, and nothing would cure it. Now it happened that she had a fat pig in the sty, and a fat pig is an important personage in a poor man's establishment. Well aware of the importance of piggy in her eyes, and deter-mined to give her as great a shock as possible, her husband came to her with a very long face as she was tottering down stairs one day, and told her that the pig was dead. Horror at this fearful news over-came all other feelings; she forgot all about her ague, and hurried to the scene of the catastrophe, where she found to her great relief that the pig was alive and well; but the fright had done its work, and from that day to this (she must be about eighty years old) she has never had a touch of the ague, though she has resided on the same spot.
Equally strange are some of the notions about small-pox. Fried mice are relied on as a specific for it, and I am afraid that it is considered necessary that they should be fried alive.
With respect to whooping-cough, again, it is believed that if you ask a person riding on a piebald horse what to do for it, his recommendation will be successful if attended to. My grandfather at one time used. always to ride a piebald horse, and he has frequently been stopped by people asking for a cure for whooping-cough. His invariable answer was, 'Patience and water-gruel;' perhaps, upon the whole, the best advice that could be given.
Earrings are considered to be a cure for sore eyes, and perhaps they may be useful so long as the ear is sore, the ring acting as a mild seton; but their efficacy is believed in even after the ear has healed.
-Warts are another thing expected to be cured by charms. A gentleman well known to me, states that, when he was a boy, the landlady of an inn where he happened to be took compassion on his warty hands, and undertook to cure them by rubbing them with bacon. It was necessary, however, that the bacon should be stolen; so the good lady tools it secretly from her own larder, which was supposed to answer the condition sufficiently. If I recollect rightly, the warts remained as bad as ever, which was perhaps due to the bacon not having been bona fide stolen.
I do not know whether landladies in general are supposed to have a special faculty against warts; but one, a near neighbour of mine, has the credit of being able to charm them away by counting them. I have been told by boys that she has actually done so for them, and that the warts have disappeared. I have no reason to think that they were telling me a down-right lie, but suppose that their imagination must have been strong to overcome even such horny things as warts. A more coincidence would have been almost more remarkable.
There is a very distressing eruption about the mouth and throat, called the thrush, common among infants and persons in the last extremity of sickness. There is a notion about this disease that a person must have it once in his life, either at his birth or death. Nurses like to see it in babies; they say that it is healthy, and makes them feed more freely; but, if a sick person shows it, he is given over as past recovery, which is really indeed extremely rare in such cases.
I am no doctor, and do not know whether the disease is really the same in both cases, but it appears to be so. C. W. J.
The following conversation, which took place in a Dorsetshire village, illustrates the popular nosology and therapeutics of that county:
'Well, Betty,' said a lady, how are you?'
'Pure, thank you ma'am; but I has been rather poorlyish.'
What has been the matter with yon?'
Why, ma'am, I was troubled with the rising of the lights; but I tooked a dose of shot, and that has akeepit them down.'
As a pendent to this take the following, hitherto unprinted. An old cottager in Morayshire, who had long been bed-rid, was charitably visited by a neighbouring lady, much given to the administration of favourite medicines. One day she left a bolus for him, from which she expected strengthening effects, and she called next day to inquire for her patient, as usual.
'Well, John, you would take the medicine I left with you?
Oh, no, ma'am,' replied John; 'it wadna gang cast.'
The Scotch, it must be understood, are accustomed to be precise about the 'airts' or cardinal points, and generally direct you to places in that way. This poor old fellow, constantly lying on one side, had come to have a geographical idea of the direction which anything took in passing into his gullet.