4th January

Born: Archbishop Usher, 1580; Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm, 1785.

Died: The Mareschal Duc de Luxembourg, 1695; Charlotte Lennox, novelist, 1804; Rachel, Tragedienne, 1858.

Feast Day: St. Titus, disciple of St. Paul. St. Gregory, bishop, 541. St. Rigobert, or Robert, about 750. St. Ramon, bishop.


Jacob Grimm and his younger brother Wilhelm, natives of Hanau in the electorate of Hesse Cassel, now (1861) occupying professorships at Berlin, are distinguished as investigators of the early history and literature of Germany. They have produced numerous works, and finally have engaged upon a large Dictionary of the German Language. 'All my labours,' says Jacob Grimm, 'have been either directly or indirectly devoted to researches into our ancient language, poetry, and laws. These studies may seem useless to many; but to me they have always appeared a serious and dignified task, firmly and distinctly connected with our common fatherland, and calculated to foster the love of it. I have esteemed nothing trifling in these inquiries, but have used the small for the elucidation of the great, popular traditions for the elucidation of written documents. Several of my books have been published in common with my brother William. We lived from our youth up in brotherly community of goods; money, books, and collections, belonged to us in common, and it was natural to combine our labours.' The publications of Jacob extend over fully half a century, the first having appeared in 1811.


Whatever glory or territory France gained by arms under Louis XIV. might be said to be owing to this singularly able general. It was remarked that each of his campaigns was marked by some brilliant victory, and as these were always blazoned on the walls of the principal church of Paris, he came to be called, by one of those epigrammatic flatteries for which the French are distinguished, Le Tapissier de Notre Dame. With his death the prosperities of Louis XIV terminated.


The modern tragedy queen of France died at thirty-eight, that age which appears so fatal to genius; that is to say, the age at which an over-worked nervous system comes naturally to a close. An exhausting professional tour in America, entered upon for needless money-making, is believed to have had much to do in bringing the great tragédienne to a premature grave.

Rachel was the child of poor Hebrew parents, and her talents were first exercised in singing to a guitar on the streets of Paris. When at an early age she broke upon theatrical audiences in the characters of Roxane, Camille, and others of that class, she created a furor almost unexampled. Yet her style of acting was more calculated to excite terror than to melt with pity. She was in reality a woman without estimable qualities. The mean passion of avarice was her predominating one, and strange stories are told of the oblique courses she would resort to to gratify it. There was but one relieving consideration regarding it, that she employed its results liberally in behalf of the poor family from which she sprang. The feelings with which we heard in England in 1848 that Rachel had excited the greatest enthusiasm in the Théátre Francais by singing the Marseillaise hymn, and soon after that her lover M. Ledru Rollin, of the provisional government, had paid her song with a grant of public money, will not soon be forgotten.


It was on the 4th of January 536, that two monks came from the Indies to Constantinople, bringing with them the means of teaching the manufacture of silk. Workmen instructed in the art carried it thence to Italy and other parts of Europe. In England, the manufacture was practiced as early as the reign of Henry VI, in the middle of the fifteenth century.


The 4th of January 1641-2 is the date of one of the most memorable events in English history -the attempted arrest of the five members of the House of Commons-Pym, Hampden, Hollis, Haselrig, and Strode-by Charles I. The divisions between the unhappy king and his parliament were lowering towards the actual war which broke out eight months later. Charles, stung by the Grand Remonstrance, a paper in which all the errors of his past government were exposed, thought by one decisive act to strike terror into his outraged subjects, and restore his full authority. While London was on the borders of insurrection against his rule, there yet were not wanting considerable numbers of country gentle-men, soldiers of fortune, and others, who were eager to rally round him in any such attempt. His design of coming with an armed band to the House and arresting the five obnoxious members, was communicated by a lady of his court; so that, just as he approached the door of the House with his cavalier bands, the gentlemen he wished to seize were retiring to a boat on the river, by which they made their escape.

Mr. John Forster has assembled, with great skill, all the facts of the scene which ensued. 'Within the House,' he says, 'but a few minutes had elapsed since the Five Members had de-parted, and Mr. Speaker had received instruction to sit still with the mace lying before him, when a loud knock threw open the door, a rush of armed men was heard, and above it (as we learn from Sir Ralph Verney) the voice of the King commanding 'upon their lives not to come in.' The moment after, followed only by his nephew, Charles, the Prince Elector Palatine, Rupert's eldest brother, he entered; but the door was not permitted to be closed behind him. Visible now at the threshold to all were the officers and desperadoes, of whom, D'Ewes proceeds: 'some had left their cloaks in the hall, and most of them were armed with pistols and swords, and they forcibly kept the door of the House of Commons open, one Captain Hide standing next the door holding his sword upright in the scabbard.' A picture which Sir Ralph Verney, also present that day, in his place, completes by adding that, 'so the door was kept open, and the Earl of Roxburgh stood within the door, leaning upon it.' '

The King walked uncovered along the hall, while the members stood uncovered and silent on each side. Taking a position on the step in front of the Speaker's chair, he looked round for the faces of Pym and his four associates, and not finding them, he thus spoke: 'Gentlemen, I am sorry for this occasion of coming among you. Yesterday I sent a sergeant-at-arms upon a very important occasion to apprehend some that by my command were accused of high treason; whereunto I did expect obedience, and not a message. And I must declare unto you here, that albeit no king that ever was in England, shall be more careful of your privileges, to maintain them to the utter-most of his power, than I shall be, yet you must know that in cases of treason no person hath a privilege. And therefore I am come to know if any of these persons that were accused are here.'

Still casting his eyes vainly around, he after a pause added, 'So long as those persons that I have accused (for no slight crime, but for treason) are here, I cannot expect that this House will be in the right way I do heartily wish it. Therefore I am come to tell you that I must have them, wherever I find them.'

After another pause, he called out, 'Is Mr. Pym here?' No answer being returned, he asked if Mr. Hollis was here. There being still no answer, he turned to the Speaker, and put these questions to him. The scene became painfully embarrassing to all, and it grew more so when Lenthal, kneeling before the King, entreated him to understand that he could neither see nor speak but at the pleasure of the House.

Mr. Forster has been enabled by D'Ewes to describe the remainder of the scene in vivid terms. After another long pause-a 'dreadful silence'-'Charles spoke again to the crowd of mute and sullen faces. The complete failure of his scheme was now accomplished, and all its possible consequences, all the suspicions and retaliations to which it had laid him open, appear to have rushed upon his mind. ' Well, since I see all my birds are flown, I do expect from you that you will send them unto me as soon as they return hither. But, I assure you, on the word of a king, I never did intend any force, but shall proceed against them in a legal and fair way, for I never meant any other. And now, since I see that I cannot do what I came for, I think this no unfit occasion to repeat what I have said formerly, that whatsoever I have done in favour, and to the good, of my subjects, I do mean to maintain it. I will trouble you no more, but tell you I do expect, as soon as they come to the House, you will send them to me; otherwise I must take my own course to find them.'

To that closing sentence, the note left by Sir Ralph Verney makes a not unimportant addition, which, however, appears nowhere in Rushworth's Report. 'For their treason was foul, and such an one as they would all thank him to discover.' If uttered, it was an angry assertion from amid forced and laboured apologies, and so far, would agree with what D'Ewes observed of his change of manner at the time. ' After he had ended his speech, he went out of the House in a more discontented and angry passion than he came in, going out again between myself and the south end of the clerk's table, and the Prince Elector after him.'

'But he did not leave as he had entered, in silence. Low mutterings of fierce discontent broke out as he passed along, and many members cried out aloud, so as he might hear them, Privilege! Privilege! With these words, ominous of ill, ringing in his ear, he repassed to his palace through the lane again formed of his armed adherents, and amid audible shouts of an evil augury from desperadoes disappointed of their prey.'

There was but an interval of six days between the King's entering the House of Commons, and his flight from Whitehall. Charles raised the issue, the Commons accepted it, and so began our Great Civil War.


The northern coast of Wales, between the towns of Rhyl and Abergele, was thrown into excitement on the 4th of January 1847, by the loss of one gallant life-boat, and the success of another. A schooner, the Temperance of Belfast, got into distress in a raging sea. The Rhyl life-boat pushed off in a wild surf to aid the sufferers; whether the boat was injured or mismanaged, none survived to tell; for all the crew, thirteen in number, were overwhelmed by the sea, and found a watery grave. The Temperance, however, was not neglected; another life-boat set out from Point-of-Air, and braving all dangers, brought the crew of the schooner safe to land.

This event is a type of two important things in relation to the shipping of England-the enormous amount of wreck on our coasts, and the heroic and unselfish exertions made to save human life imperiled by those catastrophes. The wreck is indeed terrible. There is a 'Wreck Chart' of the British Islands now published annually, spotted with death all over; little black marks are engraved for every wreck, opposite the part of the coast where they occurred. More than one of these charts has had a thousand such spots, each denoting either a total wreck or a serious disaster, and involving the loss of a still larger number of lives. The collier ships which bring coal from the north to London are sadly exposed to these calamities during their ten or twelve thousand annual voyages. The eastern coast from the Tyne to the Humber, the coast opposite Yarmouth, the shoals off the mouth of the Thames, the Scilly Isles, the west coast of Wales, and Barnstaple Bay, are all dismal places for wrecks.

Little need is there to tell the story of shipwreck: it is known full well. How the returning emigrant, with his belt full of gold, sinks to a briny grave when within sight of his native shore; how the outgoing emigrant meets with a similar death before his voyage has well commenced; how the soldier is overwhelmed when departing to fight on foreign shores; how friends are severed, valuable goods lost, merchants ruined-all this is known to every one who takes up a newspaper. Some may say, looking at the prodigious activity of our shipping, that wreck is an inevitable accompaniment of such a system. When we consider that seven hundred over-sea voyages per day either begin or end at a port in the United Kingdom, we ought to expect disasters as one of the attendant consequences. True, some disasters: the question is, whether prudential arrangements might not lessen the number.

About seventy years ago, after a terrible storm on the Northumbrian coast, Mr. Greathead, of South Shields, constructed what he called a safety-boat or life-boat, containing much cork in its composition, as a means of producing buoyancy. Other inventors followed and tried to improve the construction by the use of air-tight cases, india-rubber linings, and other light but impervious substances. Sometimes these boats were instrumental in saving life; sometimes a Grace Darling, daring all perils, would push forth to a distressed ship in a common open boat; but still the loss of life by shipwreck was every year distressingly great.

It was under this state of things that the 'institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck' was founded in 1824, to establish life-boats and mortar-rockets at all the dangerous Farts of our coasts; to induce the formation of local committees at the chief ports for a similar purpose; to maintain a correspondence with those committees; and to encourage the invention of new or improved boats, buoys, belts, rocket apparatus, and other appliances for saving life. Right nobly has this work been done. Without fee or reward, without guarantee or 'subsidy,' the Institution, now called the 'Life-Boat Institution,' has been employed for nearly forty years in saving human life. Many an exciting narrative may be picked out of the pages of the Life-Boat, a journal in which the Institution occasionally records the story of shipwreck and of life-preserving.

The life-boat system is remarkable in all its points. In 1850 the Duke of Northumberland offered a prize for the best form of life-boat. The boat-builders set to work, and sent in nearly 300 plans; the winner was Mr. Beeching, boat-builder at Yarmouth. Oddly enough, however, the examiners did not practically adopt any one of them, not even Mr. Beeching's; they got a member of their own body ( Mr. Peake, master shipwright at Woolwich dockyard) to construct a life-boat that should comprise all the best points of all the best plans. This boat, slightly improved by later alterations, is the one now adopted by the Life-Boat Institution, and coming into use in other countries besides our own. It is about thirty feet long, seven wide, and four deep; nearly alike at both ends, and ingeniously contrived with air chambers, passages, and valves. It possesses in a high degree these qualities-great lateral stability; speed against a heavy sea; facility for landing and for taking the shore; immediate self-discharge of sea-water; facility of self-righting if upset; great strength of construction; and stowage room for a number of passengers. Gallantly the boatmen manage these life-boats.

The Institution maintains life-boat stations all round the coast, each of which is a little imperium in itself-a life-boat, generally a boat-house to keep it in, a carriage on which to drag it out to the sea, and a complete service of all the articles necessary for the use of the men. There is a captain or coxswain to each boat, and he can command the services of a hardy crew, obtained partly by salaries and partly by reward when actually engaged in saving life. The Institution can point to nearly 12,000 lives saved between 1824 and 1861, either directly by the boats and boatmen, or by exertions encouraged and rewarded by the Institution.

Nor should the gallant life-boatmen be grudged their bit of honest pride at what they have done. They can tell of the affair of October 7th, 1854, when, in an easterly gale at Holm Sand on the Suffolk coast, the life-boat boldly struck out, and finding a Norwegian brig in distress, was baffled by the drunken state of the eight sea-men on board, but succeeded, on a second at-tempt next morning, in bringing all safely off; the men being by that time sobered and manage-able. They can tell of the affair of the 2nd of May, 1855, when the Ramsgate beachmen saw signal rockets at the light-vessels moored off the Good-win Sands, denoting that a ship was in danger. The life-boat gallantly started on her mission of mercy. Then was there seen a hapless ship, the Queen of the Teign, high and dry on. the Goodwins, with a foaming sea on the edge of the sand. How to get near it? The boatmen waited till the morning tide supplied a sufficiency of water; they went in, ran on the sand among the breakers, and aided the poor exhausted crew of the ship to clamber on board the life-boat. All were saved; and by dexterous management the ship was saved also.

There was the Whitby case of January the 4th, 1857, when one of the boatmen was clearly washed out of the life-boat, over the heads of all his companions, by a raging sea; and yet all were saved, ship's crew and boatmen alike. But most of all do the life-boatmen pleasurably reflect on the story of the Northern Belle, and what they achieved for the crew of that ship. It was a fine vessel, an American trader of 1100 tons. On the 5th of January 1857, she was off the North Foreland struck by a terrible sea, and placed in imminent peril. The Broadstairs boatmen harnessed themselves to their life-boat carriage, and dragged it with the boat a distance of no less than two miles, from Broadstairs to Kingsgate, over a heavy and hilly country. In the dead of a winter's night, amid hail, sleet, and rain, the men could not see where to launch their boat. They waited through the darkness.

At day-break on the next morning, a distressing sight presented itself: twenty-three poor fellows were clinging to the rigging of the only remaining mast of the Northern Belle, to which they had held on during this appalling night. Off went the life-boat, the Mary White, manned by seven daring boatmen, who braved the raging sea which washed over them repeatedly. They went to the wreck, brought off seven men, and were obliged to leave the rest for fear of involving all in destruction. Meanwhile another life-boat, the Calmer White, was wheeled overland from Broadstairs, then launched, and succeeded in bringing away four-teen of the sufferers. There remained only two others, the captain and the pilot, who refused to leave the wreck so long as a spar was standing. The Calmer White dashed out a second time, rescued these two mariners, and left the hapless ship to its watery grave. How the poor American sailors were warmed and cared for at the little hostelry, the 'Captain Digby,' at Kingsgate; how the life-boats returned in triumphant pro-cession to Broadstairs; and how the quiet heroism of the life-boatmen was the admiration of all-the newspapers of the period fully told.


A claim having been made this day (1826), at the Marlborough-street Police Office, for a reward on account of the detection of a brewery chimney on fire, it was resisted on the ground that the flue, which was above eighty feet high, was so constructed and managed that it could not take fire. A witness on this side, who gave the (unnecessary) information that he was a chimney-sweep, set forth his evidence in the following terms: 'This here man (pointing to the patrol) has told a false affidavit, your worship. I knows that ere chimley from a infant, and she knows my foot as well as my own mother. The ways I goes up her is this-I goes in all round the boiler, then I twists in the chimley like the smoke, and then up I goes with the wind, for, your worship, there's a wind in her that would blow you out like a feather, if you didn't know her as well as I do, and that makes me always go to the top myself, because there isn't a brick in her that doesn't know my foot. So that you see, your worship, no soot or blacks is ever in her; the wind won't let 'em stop: and besides they knows that I go up her regular. So that she always keeps herself as clean as a new pin. I'll be bound the sides of her is as clean this minute as I am (not saying much for the chimney); therefore, your worship, that ere man as saw two yards of fire coining out of her, did not see no such thing, I say; and he has told your worship, and these here gentlemen present, a false affidavit, I say. I was brought up in that chimley, your worship, and I can't abear to hear such things said-lies of her; and. that's all as I knows at present, please your worship.'


The first Monday of the year is a great holiday among the peasantry of Scotland, and children generally, as being the day peculiarly devoted in that country to the giving and receiving of presents. It is on this account called Handsel Monday, Handsel being in Scotland the equivalent of a Christmas box, but more specially inferring a gift at the commencement of a season or the induing of some new garment. The young people visit their seniors in expectation of tips (the word, but not the action, unknown in the north). Postmen, scavengers, and deliverers of newspapers look for their little annual guerdons.

Among the rural population, Auld Hansel Monday, i.e. Handsel Monday old style, or the first Monday after the 12th of the month, is the day usually held. The farmers used. to treat the whole of their servants on that morning to a liberal breakfast of roast and boiled, with ale, whiskey, and cake, to their utmost contentment; after which the guests went about seeing their friends for the remainder of the day. It was also the day on which any disposed for change gave up their places, and when new servants were en-gaged. Even now, when most old fashions are much decayed, Auld Handsel Monday continues to be the holiday of the year to the class of farm-labourers in Scotland.

'It is worth mentioning that one William Hunter, a collier (residing in the parish of Tillicoultry, in Clackmannanshire), was cured in the year 1738 of an inveterate rheumatism or gout, by drinking freely of new ale, full of harm or yeast. The poor man had been confined to his bed. for a year and a half, having almost entirely lost the use of his limbs. On the evening of Handsel Monday, as it is called, some of his neighbours came to make merry with him. Though he could not rise, yet he always took his share of the ale, as it passed round the company, and in the end he became much intoxicated. The consequence was that he had the use of his limbs next morning, and was able to walk about. He lived more than twenty years after this, and never had the smallest return of his old complaint.'


This is a familiar expression, to which few persons attach any definite idea. Many would be found under a belief that it refers merely to that faint appearance of a face which the moon presents when full. Those who are better acquainted with natural objects, and with folklore, are aware that the Man in the Moon-the object referred to under that name-is a dusky resemblance to a human figure which appears on the western side of the luminary when eight days old, being somewhat like a man carrying a thornbush on his back, and at the same time engaged in climbing, while a detached object in front looks like his dog going on before him.

It is a very old popular notion amongst various nations, that this figure is the man referred to in the Book of Numbers (chap. xv. v. 32 et seq.), as having been detected by the children of Israel in the wilderness, in the act of gathering sticks on the Sabbath-day, and whom the Lord directed (in absence of a law on the subject) to be stoned to death without the camp. One would have thought this poor stick-gatherer sufficiently punished in the actual history: nevertheless, the popular mind has assigned him the additional pain of a perpetual pillorying in the moon. There he is with his burden of sticks upon his back, continually climbing up that shining height with his little dog before him, but never getting a step higher! And so it ever must be while the world endures!

Our poets make clear to us how old is this notion. When Moonshine is to be represented in the famous play of Pyramus and Thisbe (Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream), Mr. Quince, the carpenter, gives due directions, as follows: 'One must come in with a bush of thorns and a lantern, and say he comes in to disfigure, or to present, the person of moonshine.' And this order is realised. 'All I have to say,' concludes the performer of this strange part, 'is, to tell you, that the lantern is the moon; I the man in the moon; this thorn-bush my thorn-bush; and this dog my dog.' Chaucer adverts to the Man in the Moon, with a needless aggravation of his criminality:

On her brest a chorle painted ful even,
Bearing a bush of thorns on his backe,
Which for his theft might clime so ne'r the heaven.

Dante, too, the contemporary of Chaucer, makes reference, in his Inferno, to the Man in the Moon, but with a variation upon the popular English idea, in as far as he calls him Cain.

In Ritson's Ancient Songs, there is one extracted from a manuscript of the time of Edward II, on the Man in the Moon, but in language which can scarcely now be understood. The first verse, in modern orthography, will probably satisfy the reader:

Man in the Moon stand and stit (?)
On his hot fork his burden he beareth,
It is much wonder that he na down slit,
For doubt lest he fall he shudd'reth and shi'ereth.
When the frost freezes must chill he byde,
The thorns be keen his hattren so teareth,
Nis no wight in the world there wot when he syt (?)
Ne bete it by the hedge what weeds lie weareth.