Born: John Domenic Cassini, astronomer, 1635, Perinaldo, Nice; Alexander Cagliostro, remarkable impostor, 1743, Palermo; Rev. Thomas Dunham Whitaker, English antiquary, 1759, Rainhan, Norfolk; Robert Stevenson, engineer, 1772, Glasgow; Thomas Rickman, architect, 1776, Maidenhead.
Died: Emperor Nero, 68, Rome; Mohammed, founder of the Moslem religion, 632; Louis X of France, 1316, Vincennes; Edward, 'the Black Prince,' 1376, Westminster; Sir Thomas Randolph, minister of Elizabeth, 1590; Henry Arnauld, 1692, Angers; C. Huygens, Dutch mathematician, 1695, Hague; Princess Sophia, of Hanover, 1714, Hanover; Shah-Nadir (Kouli Khan), usurper of the throne of Persia, murdered, 1747; Ambrose Philips, dramatist, miscellaneous writer, 1749; W. Pulteney, Earl of Bath, statesman, 1764; Abbe John Winckelmann, antiquary, 1768, Trieste; Godfred Augustus Burger, German poet, 1794; Thomas Paine, political writer, 1809, Baltimore; Dr. Richard Carmichael (writings on medical subjects), 1849, near Dublin; Douglas Jerrold, comic writer, 1857, London.
Feast Day: St. Maximinus, first. Archbishop of Aix, confessor, end of 1st or beginning of 2nd century; St. Gildard, or Godard, Bishop of Rouen, confessor, 6th century; St. Medard, Bishop of Noyon, confessor, 6th century; St. Syra, virgin, of Ireland, 7th century; St. Clou, or Clodulphus, Bishop of Metz, confessor, 696; St. William, Archbishop of York, confessor, 1154.
CANONIZATION OF THE JAPANESE MARTYRS
The canonization of saints has only been accepted as a dogma of faith by the Church of Rome since the twelfth century, and it was then confined to those who had suffered martyrdom for their religious principles. So rapid, however, was the increase of saints, that it was soon found necessary to place a limit to their admission to the canon: at first bishops were permitted to make them; this privilege was taken away, and the Pope alone had the power; another prudent regulation was that the holy man should have departed this life one hundred years at least before he was canonized, which no doubt prevented many a man, popular in his day, from attaining the honour, when his character was judged by a future generation.
We have in our own day (1862) seen a remarkable example of this ceremony. Pius the Ninth determined to add to the list of saints twenty-three missionaries who had been martyred in Japan during the seventeenth century. Great preparations were made for the event; letters of invitation were written, not only to the Bishops of the Romish church, but also to those of the Eastern churches, and, in spite of the marked repugnance of some of the governments-who feared a political demonstration-the attendance was very large. These ecclesiastics formed the most interesting part of the procession to St. Peter's. Wearing the dresses of those early Syrian and Armenian churches which had been founded by the Apostles themselves, and the symbols which created so warm a discussion among the Fathers-the stole, the alb, the mitre with crosses, Greek and Latin, the forms of which were heretic or orthodox, according to the judgment of the observer. The procession was similar to the one already described under Easter Day; the only difference, perhaps, was that St. Peter's was entirely lighted up with wax lights; a mistake, as was generally agreed, there not being sufficient brilliancy to set off the gay colours of the cardinals, the bishops, the bearers of the flabelli, and guarda nobili.
'The quack of quacks, the most perfect scoundrel that in these latter ages has marked the world's history,' says Mr. Carlyle, 'we have found in the Count Alessandro di Cagliostro, pupil of the Sage Althotas, foster-child of the Scherif of Mecca, probable son of the last King of Trebisond; named also Acharat, and unfortunate child of nature; by profession healer of diseases, abolisher of wrinkles, friend of the poor and impotent, grand master of the Egyptian mason-lodge of high science, spirit-summoner, gold-cook, grand cophta, prophet, priest, and thaumaturgic moralist and swindler; really a liar of the first magnitude, thoroughpaced in all provinces of lying, what one may call the king of liars.'
This desperate character was the son of Pietro Balsamo, a poor shopkeeper of Palermo, and was born in 1743. He was placed in a monastery, and being set to read the Lives of the Saints to the monks whilst they ate their meals, he was detected interpolating naughty fictions of his own, and was at once discharged. He then professed to study for a painter, and associating with vicious company, he forged theatre tickets, and then a will, robbed an uncle, cheated a goldsmith under pretence of shewing a hidden treasure, was accused of murder, and at last, Palermo growing too hot for him, he fled, no one knew whither. According to his own account, he went to Alexandria, and there, by changing hemp into silk, made much money; thence to Malta, where he studied chemistry.
His first authentic appearance, however, was at Rome selling pen-drawings, or rather prints touched up with Indian ink, and passed off as such. There he met Lorenza, the daughter of a girdle-maker, a comely young woman, who became his wife, and leaving Rome, the pair made their appearance at Venice, at Marseilles, at Madrid, Cadiz, Lisbon, Brussels, and other places, sometimes under one grand title, and sometimes under another, until, finally, they assumed that of the Count Alessandro and the Countess Seraphina Cagliostro. In a coach-and-four they rolled through Europe, found access to the highest society, and mysteriously dispensed potions, washes, charms, and love philtres. By a wine of Egypt, sold in drops more precious than nectar, they promised restoration to the vigour and beauty of youth to worn-out men and wrinkled women. Seraphina adduced herself as a living evidence of the efficacy of the elixir. Though young and blooming, she averred she was sixty, and had a son a veteran in the Dutch service. All, however, was not prosperity with them. Often they were reduced to miserable straits. Dupes who had their eyes opened were often very troublesome, and in a visit to London the count got for a while into the King's Bench Prison.
London, however, recompensed Alessandro and Seraphina by initiating both into the mysteries of Freemasonry, by which they were enabled to achieve their highest triumphs. From a bookseller the count professed to have purchased for five guineas certain manuscripts belonging to one George Cofton, in which he discovered the original system of Egyptian masonry instituted by Enoch and Elijah. In the process of centuries masonry had wofully declined from its pristine purity and splendour. The masonry of men had sunk into mere buffoonery, and that of women had become almost extinct; and the count proclaimed it as his mission to restore the sacred brotherhood to its ancient glory. Among the old and forgotten arcana were the philosopher's stone, an elixir of immortal youth, and a pentagon which restored its possessor to the primeval innocence forfeited by the fall. The prolonged and intricate series of rites by which these boons were to be attained conveniently deferred experiment and detection. From city to city, from Russia to France, travelled the count as the Grand Cophta, and the countess as the Grand Priestess, of the revived masonic faith. Their reputed success at this distance of time seems almost incredible. In dimly-lighted rooms, mysteriously decorated, the count in broken language, for he was master of none, and in unintelligible jargon, discoursed of the wonders and promises of Egyptian masonry, and led captive as believers people who would have scorned to be thought credulous. His calm, assured, and serious manner seemed to throw a seductive spell over those with whom he came in contact, and he decoyed them into his net even while their judgment protested. The old trade in Egyptian drops, beauty-waters, and secret-favours, under the influence of freemasonry, developed amazingly, and the prices in proportion rose.
Settling in Strasburg, he lived in magnificent state, but at the same time prosecuting assiduous labour in hospitals and the hovels of the poor, with open purse and drug-box containing 'extract of Saturn.' Miraculous cures attested his skill, and wonder grew on wonder. The Prince Cardinal de Rohan expressed a wish to see him, to which he answered:- 'If Monseigneur the Cardinal is sick, let him come, and I will cure him; if he is well, he has no need of me, I none of him.' The rebuff effected its purpose to a marvel. It filled the cardinal with keener desire to make his acquaintance. A short interview was granted, from which he retired 'penetrated with a religious awe;' others, long and solitary, followed. 'Your soul,' said the count to the cardinal, 'is worthy of mine; you deserve to be made -partaker of all my secrets.' Under such bewitching flatteries, Prince Louis de Rohan yielded himself unreservedly into Cagliostro's power, the richest and choicest of his many conquests.
From Strasburg the cardinal led the count and countess off to Paris, where they plied their arts with more distinguished success than ever, and, for a consideration, produced the apparition of any departed spirit that might be desired. In this blaze of prosperity destruction was near. De Rohan, the dupe in that mysterious and famous business of the Diamond Necklace, which he sold or imagined he sold to Marie Antoinette, was thrown into the Bastile, and with him his friends the Cagliostros. After an imprisonment of nine months, they were released, but ordered to leave France. They went to London, and lived for two years in Sloane Street, Knights-bridge, doing a fair business; selling ` Egyptian pills at 30s. the dram.'
In May 1787, they left England, and after wandering over the Continent, driven from place to place by suspicious governments, by some miscalculation they ventured to Rome, and commenced to organize an Egyptian lodge. The Holy Inquisition had long had an eye on their doings, and now within its power, they were seized, at the end of 1789, and consigned to the castle of St. Angelo. After a year and a half of tedious trial and examination, his holiness gave judgment, that the manuscript of Egyptian masonry be burnt by the common hangman; that all that intermeddle with such masonry are accursed; that Guiseppe Balsamo, justly forfeited of life for being a Freemason, shall nevertheless in mercy be forgiven, instructed in the duties of penitence, and kept safe henceforth until death in ward of the holy church. Thus ended the career of Cagliostro. In the fortress of St. Leo he died, in 1795, at the age of fifty-two. His wife, who was confined in a convent, survived him for several years.
Mr. Carlyle, who has written the story of The Arch Quack in a most graphic manner, thus describes the impression made on him by his portrait:
One of the most authentic documents preserved of Joseph Balsamo is the picture of his visage. An effigy once universally diffused in oil-paint, aquatint, marble, stucco, and perhaps gingerbread, decorating millions of apartments. Fittest of visages, worthy to be worn by the quack of quacks! A most portentous face of scoundrelism: a fat, snub, abominable face; dew 75-lapped, flat-nosed, greasy, full of greediness, sensuality, ox-like obstinacy; a forehead impudent, refusing to be ashamed; and then two eyes turned up seraphically languishing, as if in divine contemplation and adoration; a touch of quiz, too; on the whole, perhaps the most perfect quack-face produced by the eighteenth century.'
THOMAS DUNHAM WHITAKER
Sir Henry Spelman, in his work showing (to his own satisfaction) how impossible it was for the appropriators of church lands to thrive upon them, takes as one of his illustrative examples a story connected with the parsonage of Rainham. In the reign of Charles I, Sir Roger Townsend, proposing to rebuild his house at Rainham, conveyed thither a large quantity of stones from the ruins of Croxford Abbey, in the neighbourhood. But these stones, as often as any attempt was made to build them up into an unhallowed edifice, obstinately persisted in falling to the ground. The sacrilegious owner of the estate next tried them in the construction of a bridge; but the well-keyed arch fell as soon as the framework on which it had been constructed was removed. At last, the stones were applied to the rebuilding of a parsonage-house, and, in this semi-ecclesiastical edifice, they quietly rested, till the middle of the last century, when they were once more removed by Lord Townsend, who wished to include the site of the building within the walls of his park. It was in this last parsonage-house that the antiquary Whitaker first saw the light.
Mr. Whitaker is celebrated for having founded a new school of topographical literature, or rather, we may say, revived an ancient one, that had been allowed to become extinct. In the days of Leland and Camden, the fathers of this interesting study, an antiquary was not thought the worse for being a man of genius and learning; and consequently we find the ripest scholars of the age employed in archaeological pursuits. But in succeeding times, the topographers wofully degenerated, as may be evidenced by the awful array of local histories that load the shelves of our public libraries; as heavy in matter, and dull in manner, as they are ponderous in mere physical gravity: dense folios, containing little more than transcripts of parish registers, title deeds, and monumental inscriptions, and often not having the simple negative merit of being correct copies of the originals.
Mr. Whitaker was the first to redeem his favourite study from this state of degradation. In his histories of Whalley, Craven, and Richmondshire, he shewed that a topographical study of antiquities could be united with a keen relish for the beautiful in nature and in art; that the grave meditations of the moralist and the edifying labours of the biographer might be combined with the lofty aspirations of the poet; that the study of British antiquities might not only be facilitated, but enlivened, by bringing to classical information, correct taste, and an acquaintance with the Gothic, Anglo-Saxon, and Celtic languages and dialects, with a habit of detecting the numerous traces that the latter have left in the rude mother-tongue of our rustic population. And thus it is that topographical and antiquarian works are now read with pleasure and avidity by young and old, grave and gay, and not suffered to lie on the dusty back shelf of a library, to be produced only on the transfer of a manor, a dispute on a pedigree, or the sale of an advowson.
A curious speculation in Mr. Whitaker's History of Craven, as to the probability of Henry Lord Clifford, first Earl of Cumberland, being the hero of the well-known and beautiful ballad, The Nut-Brown Maid, is worthy of notice. This young nobleman, under the influence of a miserly father and jealous stepmother, was led by the extravagance of the court into pecuniary embarrassments. The method which he took to supply his necessities was characteristic of his era. Instead of resorting to Jew money-lenders, and bill-discounting attorneys, post-obits, life-insurances, and other means of raising money by anticipation, as he might have done at the present day, he became an outlaw, collected a band of dissolute followers, harassed religious houses, plundered their tenants, and sometimes obliged the inhabitants of whole districts to take refuge in their churches. He reformed, however, in good time, and married Lady Margaret Percy, daughter of the Earl of Northumberland. The ballad was first printed about 1502, and from its containing the word 'spleen,' just previously introduced into the English language by the study of the Greek medical writers, it could not possibly have been written long before it was put to the press. Clifford was a celebrated bow-man, to whom would well apply the words of the ballad
Such an archere, as men say ye he;
besides, the outlaw particularly describes Westmoreland as his heritage, thus identifying him-self with Clifford. So we must either suppose the whole story to be a fiction, or refer it to one of the adventures of the outlaw, who had led that wild life within a very few years of the time when the ballad was written. The great lineage of the 'Maid' well agrees with Lady Percy, and it is probable that the reckless young man may have lurked in the forests of the Percy family, won the lady in a disguise, which he had assured her covered a knight, and the inversion of the rank of the parties in the ballad may be considered as nothing more than a decent veil of poetical fiction thrown over a recent and well-known fact.
If Paine had died before passing the prime of life, his name might have been held in some respect among liberal politicians for the services he rendered to the American colonies in the crisis of their difficulties with the British ministry. What he did on that occasion is pointedly brought out in a work by Elkanah Watson, a New Englander, who gives at the same time a curious account of the personal appearance of this notable man. It was about the close of the war, when Mr. Watson was pursuing commerce at Nantes, that Paine arrived there in the Alliance frigate, as secretary of Colonel Laurens, minister-extraordinary from the Congress, and took up his quarters at the boarding-house where the narrator resided.. 'I could not,' says Mr. Watson, 'repress the deepest emotions of gratitude towards him, as the instrument of Providence in accelerating the declaration of our independence. He certainly was a prominent agent in preparing the public sentiment of America for that glorious event. The idea of independence had not occupied the popular mind, and when guardedly approached on the topic, it shrunk from the conception, as fraught with doubt, with peril, and with suffering. In 1776, I was present, at Providence, Rhode Island, in a social assembly of most of the prominent leaders of the State. I recollect that the subject of independence was cautiously introduced by an ardent Whig, and the thought seemed to excite the abhorrence of the whole circle.
A few weeks after, Paine's Common Sense appeared, and passed through the continent like an electric spark. It everywhere flashed conviction, and aroused a determined spirit, which resulted in the Declaration of Independence upon the 4th of July ensuing. The name of Paine was precious to every Whig heart, and had re-sounded throughout Europe. On his arrival being announced, the Mayor, and some of the most distinguished citizens of Nantes, called upon him to render their homage of respect. I often officiated as interpreter, although humbled and mortified at his filthy appearance, and awkward and unseemly address. Besides, as he had been roasted alive on his arrival at L'Orient, for the ----, and well basted with brimstone, he was absolutely offensive, and perfumed the whole apartment. He was soon rid of his respectable visitors, who left the room with marks of astonishment and disgust. I took the liberty, on his asking for the loan of a clean shirt, of speaking to him frankly of his dirty appearance and brimstone odour, and prevailed upon him to stew for an hour in a hot bath. This, however, was not done without much entreaty, and I did not succeed until, receiving a file of English newspapers, I promised, after he was in the bath, he should have the reading of them, and not before. He at once consented, and accompanied me to the bath, where I instructed the keeper in French (which Paine did not understand) to gradually increase the heat of the water, until 'le Monsieur etait bien bouilli.' He became so much absorbed in his reading that he was nearly parboiled before leaving the bath, much to his improvement and my satisfaction.'
The idea of Tom Paine 'bien bouilli' is amusing, but some people will think that 'bien roti' would have been a more appropriate treatment.