8th May

Born: Alain Rene is Sage, French novelist, 1668, Sargeau, in Brittany; Dr. Beilby Porteus, Bishop of London, 1731, York; Rev William Jay, Congregationalist divine, 1769, Tisbury, Wilts.

Died: Dr. Peter Heylin, author of the Life of Archbishop Laced, &c., 1662; Marc Rene de Voyer de Paulmi, Marquis d'Argenson, French minister, 1721; Archbishop William King, 1729, Donnybrook; Bishop Hough, of Worcester, 1743; Pope Benedict XIV, 1758; Dr. Samuel Chandler, 1766, London; Sebastian, Marquis de Pombal, Portugues statesman, 1782, Pombal; Duc de Choiseul, French minister, 1785; Antoine L. Lavoisier, chemist, guillotined at Paris, 1794; W. C. Townsend, Q.C., author of Lives of Eminent Judges, 1850, Wandsworth Common, near London; Captain Barclay Allardice, noted athlete and pedestrian, 1854.

Feast Day: Apparition of St. Michael; St. Victor, martyr, 303; St. Odrian, of Waterford (era unknown); St. Wiro, of Ireland, 7th century; St. Gybrian, of Ireland, 8th century; St. Peter, Archbishop of Tarentaise, in Savoy, 1174.


Is worthy of a passing note as the first institutor of the modern system of police. He was a man of high family and no small personal merit, and when he took the position of lieutenant of the Parisian police, in 1697, he was considered as somewhat degrading himself. He contrived, however, to raise the office to his own level, by the improvements which he introduced, resulting in that system of easy and noiseless movement which not only checks ordinary breaches of the law, but assists so notably in preserving the government from its enemies. Argenson was a native of Venice, and received his first honours in that republic; it was probably from the old secret practices of the Venetian state that he derived his idea of an improved police for Paris, that form of police which has since been extended to Austria, Prussia, and other governments. He finally became the French minister of finance, and died a member of the Academy.


This memorable prelate, who had been elected to the presidentship of Magdalen College, Oxford, in opposition to the Roman Catholic recommended to the Fellows of the College by James II, attained the great age of ninety-three. Of his boundless munificence the following instance is related:- 'He always kept a thousand pounds in the house for unexpected occurrences, perhaps to pay his funeral expenses, or legacies. One day, one of the excellent societies of his country came to him to apply for his contributions. The bishop told his steward to give them £500. The steward made signs to his master, intimating that he did not know where to find so large a sum. He replied, 'You are right, Harrison; I have not given enough. Give the gentleman the thousand pounds; and you will find it in such a place;' with which the old steward, though unwillingly, was forced to comply.' The good bishop was buried in his cathedral (Worcester), where is a fine monument to his memory, by Roubiliac; the scene of the above anecdote of his munificence being sculptured in has-relief upon the memorial.

The bishop, though he had acted a prominent part in public affairs, lived without an enemy. Pope says of him:

'Such as on Hough's unsullied mitre shine.'

Lord Lyttelton and Hawkins Browne also speak highly of Bishop Hough; and Sir Thomas Bernard has introduced him as the principal speaker in his excellent colloquy-The Comforts of Old Age.


By this name, without the affix of Allardice, was recognised, in the early part of the present century, a man whose pride and pleasure it was to exhibit the physical potentialities of human nature in their highest stretch. Rather oddly, he represented genealogically a man of wholly different associations, the celebrated Robert Barclay, who, in the reign of Charles II, wrote the Apology for the Quakers. It appears, how-ever, that both the father and son of Robert were remarkable for their bodily strength. A powerful athletic figure was in fact hereditary in the family.

One of Captain Barclay's first notable feats-done, indeed, in his fifteenth year-was to walk, 'fair toe and heel,' six miles in an hour. In June 1801, when two and twenty, he walked from his family seat of Ury, in Kincardineshire, to Borough-bridge, in Yorkshire, a distance of 300 miles, in five oppressively hot days. It was on the 10th of November in the same year, that he completed the performance of one of his most notable feats, walking ninety miles in twenty-one and a half successive hours, on a bet of 5000 guineas. This he accomplished in an hour and eight minutes within time, without being greatly fatigued. Some years later, the task of walking 1000 miles in 1000 successive hours, a mile within each hour, in which many had before failed and none succeeded, was undertaken by Barclay, and about £100,000 was staked on the issue. Ho began his course at Newmarket, at midnight, on the 1st of June, and duly finished it at 3 p.m. on the 12th of July, amidst a vast concourse of spectators. Here, of course, the shortness of the periods of repose was what constituted the real difficulty. The pain undergone by the gallant captain is understood to have been excessive; he had often to be lifted after resting, yet his limbs never swelled, nor did his appetite fail; and, five days after, he was off upon duty in the luckless Walcheren expedition.

The great amateur athlete of the nineteenth century was a frank, honourable man, in universal esteem among his neighbours, and distinguished himself not a little as a promoter of agricultural improvements.


The 8th of May 1308 is the date of the will of Master John Shorne, rector of North Marston, in Bucks, a very remarkable person, since he attained all the honours of a saint without ever being strictly pronounced one. There must have been something uncommon in the character of this country pastor to have so much impressed his contemporaries, and cast such an odour round his tomb for centuries after he was inurned. For one thing, he was thought to have a gift for curing the ague. He had greater powers than this, however, for it was reported of him that he once conjured the devil into a boot. Venerated profoundly, he was no sooner dead than his body was enclosed in a shrine, which immediately became an object of pilgrimage to vast numbers of people, and so continued till the Reformation.

The allusions to the multitudes running to Master John Shorne, scattered about our medieval literature, are endless. The votaries came mainly for cure of ague, which it was supposed the holy man could still effect; and so liberal were their oblations, that the rectory was enriched by them to the extent of £300 a year-a very large sum in those days. At one time the monks of Windsor contrived, by an adroit bargain with those of Osney, to get the body of Master Shorne removed to their church; but, though they advertised well-and this language is literally applicable-the saint did not 'take' in that quarter, and the body was afterwards returned to North Marston. At the same time, there was a well, near North Marston church, which passed by the name of Master John Shorne's Well, and whose waters were believed to be of great virtue for the cure of various diseases. It still exists, a neat square building, about eight feet by six, with an internal descent by steps; but its reputation is wholly gone.

What is known of Master John Shorne gives us a curious glimpse of the habits and ideas of our ancestors. To expect a miraculous cure by visiting the shrine of the saint, or drinking of the waters of his well, was a conviction from which no class was exempt. Equally undoubting were they as to the celebrated boot exorcism. On the ancient screen still existing in the church of Gately, in Norfolk, is a panel containing a tall figure, labelled underneath Magister Johes Schorn, exhibiting the saint with the boot in his left hand, and the devil peeping out of it; of which panel a representation appears in the cut. The same objects are painted on a screen at Cawston, in the same county. It would appear as if the saint were understood to keep the fiend in the boot and let it emerge occasionally, like a 'Jack in the box,' to impress the vulgar.

Fox in his Martyrology shows us that a pilgrimage to Master John Shorne was sometimes imposed as a penance. Of certain penitent heretics, he tells us, 'some were compelled to bear fagots; some were burned in their cheeks with hot irons; some condemned to perpetual prison; some compelled to make pilgrimages... some to the Rood at Wendover, some to Sir John Schorn, &c.' A Protestant ballad says

To Maister John Schorn, that blessed man born,
For the ague to him we apply,
Which jugeleth with a bote, I beshrew his herte-rote,
That will trust him, and it he I.


Near to Newgate prison, in London, is a parish church bearing the grisly name of St. Sepulchre's. On the 8th of May 1705, Robert Down gave fifty pounds to the vicar and churchwardens thereof, to the end that, through all futurity, they should cause a bell to be tolled, and a serious exhortation to be made to condemned prisoners in Newgate, during the night preceding their execution. For many years this custom was kept up in its full integrity, according to the will of the donor. At midnight, the sexton of St. Sepulchre's came with a hand-bell to the window of the condemned cell-rang his bell-and delivered this address:

All you that in the condemned hold do lie,
Prepare you, for to-morrow you shall die:
Watch all and pray, the hour is drawing near
That you before the Almighty must appear:
Examine well yourselves, in time repent,
That you may not to eternal flames be sent:
And when St. Sepulchre's bell to-morrow tolls,
The Lord above have mercy on your souls!

On the ensuing day, when the dismal procession, setting out for Tyburn, passed the gate of St. Sepulchre's church, it paused for a brief space, while the clergyman addressed a prayer in behalf of the prisoner or prisoners, the great bell tolling all the time. There is something striking and impressive in the whole arrangement. By and by came a time when the executions took place in front of Newgate, and the clergyman's address was necessarily given up. Some years ago, it was stated that the sexton was still accustomed to come and offer his midnight address, that the terms of Mr. Dowe's bequest might be fulfilled; but the offer was always declined, on the ground that all needful services of the kind were performed by the chaplain of the prison.