9th September

Born: Richard Chenevix Trench, dean of Westminster, etymologist, 1807.

Died: James IV of Scotland, killed at Flodden, 1513; Charles de St. Evremond, wit and letter-writer, 1703, London; Bernard Siegfried Albinus, eminent anatomist, 1770, Leyden; Robert Wood ('Palmyra' Wood), traveller and arehaeologist, 1771, Putney; Rev. Gilbert Wakefield, theological and political writer, 1801; John Brand, author of Observations on Popular Antiquities, 1806.

Feast Day: Saints Gorgonius, Dorotheus, and Companions, martyrs, 304. St. Kiaran, abbot in Ireland, 549. St. Omer, bishop and confessor, 670. St. Osmanna, virgin, about 7th century. St. Bettelin, hermit and confessor.


On the 9th of September 1513, was fought the battle of Flodden, resulting in the defeat and death of the Scottish king, James IV, the slaughter of nearly thirty of his nobles and chiefs, and the loss of about 10,000 men. It was an overthrow which spread sorrow and dismay through Scotland, and was long remembered as one of the greatest calamities over sustained by the nation. With all tenderness for romantic impulse and chivalric principle, a modern man, even of the Scottish nation, is forced to admit that the Flodden enterprise of James IV was an example of gigantic folly, righteously punished.

The king of Scots had no just occasion for going to war with England. The war he entered upon he conducted like an imbecile, only going three or four miles into the English territory, and there dallying till the opportunity of striking an effective blow was lost. When the English army, under the Earl of Surrey, came against him, he, from a foolish sentiment of chivalry, or more vanity, would not allow his troops to take the fair advantages of the ground. So he fought at a disadvantage, and lost all, including his own life. It is pitiable, even at this distance of time, to think of a people having their interests committed to the care of one so ill qualified for the trust; the Many suffering so much through the infatuation of One.


An old English proverb says: 'First hang and draw, then hear the cause by Lydford Law.' A Devonshire poet, anxious for the reputation of his county, attempts to chew that this summary method of procedure originated from merciful motives:

I oft have heard of Lydford Law,
How in the morn they hang and draw,
And sit in judgment after:
At first I wondered at it much;
But since, I find the reason such,
As it deserves no laughter.
They have a castle on a hill;
I took it for an old wind-mill,
The vanes blown off by weather.
To lie therein one night, 'tis guessed
'Twere better to be stoned and pressed,
Or hanged, now chose you whether.
Ten men less room within this cave,
Than five mice in a lantern have,
The keepers they are sly ones.
If any could devise by art
To get it up into a cart,
'Twere fit to carry lions.
When I beheld it, Lord! thought I,
What justice and what clemency
Rath Lydford when I saw all!
I know none gladly there would stay,
But rather hang out of the way,
Than tarry for a trial!

This curious vindication of Devonshire justice is ascribed to Browne, the author of Britannia's Pastorals. Lydford itself is the chief town of the Stannaries, and the proverb probably was levelled at the summary decisions of the Stannary Courts which, under a charter of Edward I, had sole jurisdiction over all cases in which the natives were concerned, that did not affect land, life, or limb.