24th January

Born: Charles Earl of Dorset, poet, 1637; Frederick the Great, 1712; Pierre A. Caron de Beaumarchais, musical composer, Paris, 1732.

Died: Justice Henry Yelverton, 1650; James Ralph, political writer, 1762.

Feast Day: St. Timothy, disciple of St. Paul, martyr at Ephesus, 97. St. Babylas, bishop of Antioch, about 250. St. Macedonius of Syria, 5th century. St. Cadocus or Cadoc, abbot of Wales, 6th century. St. Suranus, abbot in Umbria, martyr, 7th century.


A wit among lords, a generous friend to literary men, himself a fair writer of verses, gay but not reckless, honest far above his time, so much a favourite that, do what he liked, the world never thought him in the wrong,-Dorset claims some respect even in a later and better age. His poems are merely a bunch of trifles; yet there is some heart, and also some feeling of the deeper realities of life, under the rosy badinage of his well-known ballad, To all you ladies now at land, professedly indited at sea the night before an engagement with the Dutch fleet, but stated to have been in reality the work of about a week:

When any mournful tune you hear,
That dies in every note,
As if it sighed with each man's care,
For being so remote;
Think how often love we've made
To you, when all those tunes were played.
In justice you can not refuse
To think of our distress,
When we, for hopes of honour,
lose Our certain happiness;
All those designs are but to prove
Ourselves more worthy of your love.


Frederick II, King of Prussia, son of Frederick William I and of Sophia Dorothea, Princess of Hanover, and surnamed the Great for his talents and successes, was, in his boyhood, treated with extreme severity, through the antagonism of his parents. His youthful tuition was rigid, its sole object being military exercises; but he received the rudiments of his education from a French lady. The taste he acquired through her means for polite literature, was strongly opposed to the system of his coarse father, who would say, 'My eldest son is a coxcomb, proud, and has a fine French spirit, that spoils all my plans.' The conduct of the old savage towards him was both harsh and cruel; it was still more so to any one to whom he was attached, or who was in any way, agreeable to the prince. A young girl, who had played on the pianoforte while the prince accompanied her on the flute, was publicly flogged by the executioner in the streets of Potsdam. The queen could not endure this injustice towards her son, and arranged that he should seek refuge in England with his maternal uncle George II. This secret plan, which was confided only to the prince's sister, and two lieutenants, his friends, was discovered by the King, who, finding that his son had already quitted the palace, sent soldiers in search of him, and he was discovered just as he was getting into a chariot to carry him to Saxony. One of the lieutenants, his companions, escaped by the fleetness of his horse; but the other was carried back to Potsdam with the prince; both being handcuffed like malefactors, and thrown into separate dungeons; and the princess, who implored the king to pardon her brother, was thrown from one of the palace windows.

The King had made up his mind that his son should die on the scaffold: 'He will always be a disobedient subject,' said he, 'and I have three other boys who are more than his equals.' His life was only saved by the intercession of the Emperor of Austria, Charles VI, through his ambassador, Count Seckendorf. Nor could the King bring his son to trial; for neither the ministers nor generals would sit in judgment upon the heir to the crown of Prussia, which so enraged the King that he sent the prince to be confined for life in a fortress at Custrin. Previously to his being conveyed to prison, the lieutenant who had been taken with him, was, by the King's order, executed upon a lofty scaffold, opposite the windows of the apartment in which the prince was confined.

At Custrin, he saw no one but the governor of the fortress; books, pens, paper, and his flute, were all denied him. When he had been imprisoned a year, the resentment of his father abated; he was ordered to Berlin; and there, at a grand fete at the palace, Frederick, in a grey suit, the only one he had been permitted to wear since his disgrace, was placed behind the chair of his mother. He then grew in favour with his father, who, however, could not forgive his disinclination for military exercises, and his love of music and the fine arts; but above all his preference of foreign fashions to the plain, inelegant Prussian uniform, which the King so liked. Yet this prince, having ascended the throne, established the military renown of Prussia, and became one of the most famous generals in history; leaving to his successor a kingdom enlarged from 2190 to 3515 German square miles, and an army of 200,000 men.

Notwithstanding his fame as a monarch, legislator, and man of letters, Frederick, according to his own account, spent the happiest years of his life, when he was a youth, in the chateau of Rheinsberg, not far from Berlin


The invention of the vane, or weathercock, must have been of very early date. Vitruvius calls it triton, probably from its having in his time the form of a triton. The usual form on towers, castles, and secular buildings, was that of a banner; but on ecclesiastical edifices, it generally was a representation of the male of the barn-door fowl. According to Ducange, the cock was originally devised as an emblem of clerical vigilance, or what it ought to be. Apart from symbolism, the large tail of the cock was well adapted to turn with the wind.

Many churches have for a vane the emblem of the saints to whom they are dedicated: thus, St. Peter's, Cornhill, London, is surmounted with a key, St. Peter being said to keep the key of heaven. St. Laurence has for a vane, a gridiron; and St. Laurence, at Norwich, has the gridiron, with the holy martyr extended upon the bars. The vane upon St. Mildred's Church, in the Poultry, is a gilt ship in full sail; and that of St. Michael's, Queenhithe, is a ship, the hull of which will hold a bushel of grain, referring to the former traffic in corn at the hithe.

St. Sepulchre's Church, Skinner-street, has four pinnacles, each with a vane, which led Howell to say: `Unreasonable people are as hard to reconcile as the vanes of St. Sepulchre's tower, which never looked all four upon one point of the heavens.'

The grasshopper of the Royal Exchange is the vane which surmounted the former Exchange. It is of copper-gilt, eleven feet long, and represents the crest of Sir Thomas Gresham, the founder of the first Exchange. But the old civic tradition that this was adopted as an heraldic symbol, from a grasshopper having saved his life when he was a poor famished boy, by attracting a person to the spot where he lay in a helpless condition,-is not supported by fact; since the letters of Sir Thomas Gresham's father, which are in the Paston collection, bear a seal with the grasshopper. This was likewise the sign of Gresham, placed over the door of his banking-house and goldsmith's shop, in Lombard-street: this grass-hopper, which was of large size and gilt, existed entire until the year 1795, when the house, now No. 68, was rebuilt.

The dragon upon the spire of Bow Church, in Cheapside, is another celebrated vane: it is of copper gilt, eleven feet in length, and when it was re-gilt in 1820, a young Irishman descended from the spire-point on the back of the dragon, pushing it from the cornices and scaffolds with his feet, in the presence of thou-sands of spectators. One of Mother Shipton's prophecies was, that when the dragon of Bow Church and the grasshopper of the Royal Exchange should meet, London streets would be deluged with blood In 1820, both these vanes were lying together in the yard of a stonemason in Old-street-road, but, happily, the prophecy was not fulfilled.

The vane at Fotheringay Church, Northamptonshire, represents the falcon and fetterlock, the badge of the Dukes of York.