Born: Sir Henry Savile, eminent scholar and mathematician, 1549,Over Bradley, Yorkshire; Jonathan Swift, humorous and political writer, 1667, Dublin; John Toland, sceptical writer, 1669, Ireland; Mark Lemon, dramatist and miscellaneous writer, 1809, London.
Died: Euripides, tragic dramatist, 406 B.C.; Edmund Ironside, colleague of King Canute, assassinated 1016; William Gilbert, celebrated writer on magnetism, 1603, Colchester; John Selden, politician, and legal writer, author of Table Talk, 1654, London; Maurice, Marshal Saxe, 1750, Castle of Chambord; James Sheridan Knowles, dramatist, 1862, Torquary.
Feast Day: St Andrew, apostle. Saints Sapor and Isaac, bishops; Mahanes, Abraham, and Simeon, martyrs, 339. St. Narses, bishop, and companions, martyrs, 343.
St. Andrew was the son of Jonas, a fisherman of Bethsaida, in Galilee, and was the brother of Simon Peter, but whether elder or younger we are not informed in Scripture. He was one of the two disciples of John the Baptist, to whom the latter exclaimed, as he saw Jesus pass by: 'Behold the Lamb of God!' On hearing these words, we are informed that the two individuals in question followed Jesus, and having accosted him, were invited by the Saviour to remain with him for that day. Thereafter, Andrew went in quest of his brother Simon Peter, and brought him to Christ, a circumstance which has invested the former apostle with a special preeminence.
After the Ascension, the name of St. Andrew is not mentioned in the New Testament, but he is believed to have travelled as a missionary through Asiatic and European Scythia; to have afterwards passed through Thrace, Macedonia, and Epirus into Achaia; and at the city of Patra, in the last named region, to have suffered martyrdom about 70 A.D. The Roman proconsul, it is said., caused him to be first scourged and then crucified. The latter punishment he underwent in a peculiar manner, being fastened by cords instead of nails to the cross, to produce a lingering death by hunger and thirst; whilst the instrument of punishment itself, instead of being T shaped, was in the form of an X, or what is termed a cross decussate. We are further informed that a Christian lady of rank, named Maximela, caused the body of St. Andrew to be embalmed and honourably interred; and that in the earlier part of the fourth century, it was removed by the Emperor Constantine to Byzantium, or Constantinople, where it was deposited in a church erected in honour of the Twelve Apostles.
The history of the relics does not end here, for we are informed that, about thirty years after the death of Constantine, in 368 A. D., a pious Greek monk, named Regulus or Rule, conveyed the remains of St. Andrew to Scotland, and there deposited them on the eastern coast of Fife, where he built a church, and where afterwards arose the renowned city and cathedral of St. Andrews. Whatever credit may be given to this legend, it is certain that St. Andrew has been regarded, from time immemorial, as the patron saint of Scotland; and his day, the 30th of November, is a favorite occasion of social and national reunion, amid Scotchmen residing in England and other places abroad.
The commencement of the ecclesiastical year is regulated by the feast of St. Andrew, the nearest Sunday to which, whether before or after, constitutes the first Sunday in Advent, or the period of four weeks which heralds the approach of Christmas. St. Andrew's Day is thus sometimes the first, and sometimes the last festival in the Christian year.
The seventeenth century was rich in great lawyers, but few could take precedence of John Selden. In the contests between the Stuarts and their parliaments he was constantly referred to for advice, and his advice he gave without fear or favour. James I, in 1621, cast him into prison for counselling the Commons to resist his will, and in 1629 Charles I committed him to the Tower for a similar offence; yet neither the tyranny of the crown or the applause of the people could make him swerve from his persistent integrity. He was not a cold blooded reasoner, but a patriot, whose motto was 'Liberty above all; nevertheless his proud distinction was, that in the tumults and excitement of a stormy age he preserved his reason and independence unimpaired. A mediator is usually an unpopular character, but Selden commanded the respect alike of Royalist and Round head. Clarendon writes of him:
Mr. Selden was a person whom no character can flatter, or transmit in any expressions equal to his virtue. He was of so stupendous learning in all kinds, and in all languages, that a man would have thought he had been entirely conversant among books, and had never spent an hour but in reading and writing; yet his humanity, courtesy, and affability was such, that he would have been thought to have been bred in the best courts, but that his good nature, charity, and delight in doing good, and in communicating all he knew, exceeded that breeding.
Selden's learning was indeed prodigious. From his youth he was a hard student, and having a rare memory, he seldom forgot what he had read. While quite a young man, he had earned a high reputation as a jurist. He was no orator, but men resorted to him for his opinion rather than his rhetoric, and his practice lay rather in his chamber than in the law courts. He wrote many books; and a History of Tithes, published in 1618, provoked much excitement in consequence of his denying the divine, while admitting the legal right of the clergy to tithes.
He was summoned in consequence before the High Commission Court, but without further result than the exaction from him of an expression of sorrow for creating disturbance, no retractation being made of the opinion which he had expressed. Few except antiquaries at this day disturb Selden's works, but his memory is kept green in literature by means of a collection of his Table talk made by Milward, his secretary for twenty years. Of this choice volume Coleridge in a somewhat extravagant vein says:
There is more weighty bullion sense in Selden's Table talk than I ever found in the same number of pages in any uninspired writer. The Table talk affords a fine idea of Selden, and confirms Clarendon's eulogy when he says: In his conversation Selden was the most clear discourser, and had the best faculty of making hard things easy, and of presenting them to the understanding of any man that hath been known.
Not unfrequently also, over some bright saying, will the reader be ready to exclaim with Coleridge: Excellent! Oh! to have been with Selden over his glass of wine, making every accident an outlet and a vehicle for wisdom.' Throughout the Table talk there are evidences of his independent and impartial temper; High Churchmen and Puritans suffer equally from his blows. Of women his opinion is generally contemptuous. For instance, he says:
Of Marriage: Marriage is a desperate thing. The frogs in Esop were extreme wise; they had a great mind to some water, but they would not leap into the well, because they could not get out again.
The experience of his times would suggest this bit of wisdom
Religion: Alteration of religion is dangerous, because we know not where it will stay; it is like a millstone that lies upon the top of, a pair of stairs; it is hard to remove it, but if once 'tis thrust off the first stair, it never stays till it comes to the bottom.
Thus would Selden have justified time execution of a witch:
Witches: The law against witches does not prove there be any; but it punishes the malice of those people that use such means to take away men's lives. If one should profess that by turning his hat thrice, and crying 'Buz,' he could take away a man's life, though in truth he could do no such thing, yet this were a just law made by time state, that whosoever should turn his hat thrice, and cry 'Buz,' with the intention to take away a man's life, shall be put to death.
Here is an anecdote about King James:
Judgments: We cannot tell what is a judgment of God; tis presumption to take upon us to know. Commonly we say a judgment falls upon a man for something we cannot abide. An example we have in King James, concerning the death of Henry IV of France. One said he was killed for his wenching, another said he was killed for turning his religion. No, says King James (who could not abide fighting), he was killed for permitting duels in his kingdom.
The following have their application to the scruples and asceticism of the Puritans:
Conscience: A knowing man a wise man will do that which a tender conscience man dares not do, by reason of his ignorance; the other knows there is no hurt; as a child is afraid of going into the dark, when a man is not, because he knows there is no danger.
Pleasure: Tis a wrong way to proportion other men's pleasure to ourselves; 'tis like the child's using a little bird, '0 poor bird! thou shalt sleep with me!' so lays it in his bosom, and stifles it with his hot breath: the bird had rather be in the cold air. And yet, too, it is the most pleasing flattery, to like what other men like.
After a banishment of nearly four centuries, Cromwell allowed the Jews to settle in England. Selden no doubt approved his liberality, for, said he:
Jews: Talk what you will of the Jews, that they are cursed, they thrive where ere they come, they are able to oblige the prince of their country by lending him money; none of them beg, they keel) together, and for their being hated, my life for yours, Christians hate one another as much.
In the following, he gives his judgment against those who hold that genius is an acquirement of education or industry:
Learning and Wisdom: No man is wiser for his learning: it may administer matter to work in, or objects to work upon; but wit and wisdom are born with a man.
These morsels may give some notion of the flavour of the Table talk; there is no better book to have at hand and. dip into at an odd half hour.
Selden was horn at Salvington, on the Sussex coast, near Worthing, in 1584. In the house where he spent his boyhood, on the lintel of the door with inside, is a Latin distich, rudely cut in capitals intermixed with small letters, reputed to have been the work of Selden when ten years old. The inscription runs:
Gratus, honeste, mihi; non clauder, initio, sedeque:
Fur abeas, non sum facta soluta tibi.
Which may be rendered:
Thou'rt welcome, honest friend, walk in, make free:
Thief, get thee hence, my doors are closed to thee!
His father was a musician, or as he is called in the parish register, a minstrell. Young Selden was educated at Oxford, and from thence removed to London, and entered the Inner Temple in 1604. His early rise in life he owed simply to his own diligence and ability. When asked, in his old age, to whom he should leave his fortune, he said he had no relation but a milk maid, and she would not know what to do with it. He died on the last day of November 1654, within sixteen days of the completion of his seventieth year. He was buried in the Temple Church, and Archbishop Usher preached his funeral sermon, in the course of which he observed, that he looked upon the deceased as so great a scholar, that he was scarce worthy to carry his books after him. In person Selden was tall, being in height about six feet; his face was thin and oval, his nose long and inclining to one side; and his eyes gray, and full, and prominent.
Though not a general of the highest order, Marshal Saxe is still the most distinguished commander that appeared in France during the greater part of the last century. The victory of Fonteoy, in which he repulsed the combined forces of England and Holland under the Duke of Cumber-land and Prince Waldeck, was followed by a series of successes which compelled the allies to enter into negotiations with France for peace, resulting in the treaty of Aix la Chapelle in 1748. Honours of all sorts were showered on him by Louis XV; and among other rewards, the magnificent castle of Chambord, twelve miles from Blois, with an annual revenue of 100,000 francs, was bestowed on the hero of so many achievements.
Marshal Saxe was the natural son of Augustus II, king of Poland, and was born at Dresden on 19th October 1696. From boyhood he was inured to arms, having, when only twelve years of age, served under Count Schulembourg before Lisle. He first entered the French army about 1720, when the Duke of Orleans appointed him to the command of a regiment. Subsequently to this the succeeded in getting himself elected Duke of Courland; but through the influence of the Czarina Catharine I. in the Polish Diet, he was deprived of his sovereignty, and compelled to retreat to France. After some vicissitudes of fortune, he took service, in 1733, again with France, under whose banners, with the exception of an interval spent in vainly prosecuting his claim to the duchy of Courland, he continued for the remainder of his days.
A foreigner by birth, Marshal Saxe was, in religious belief, a Lutheran; and as he died in the Protestant faith, it was impossible to bury him with all the rites and ceremonies due to his distinguished position and services. A lady of rank remarked on hearing of his death: 'How vexatious that we cannot say a De profundis for him who made us so often sing Te Deum!' Louis XV, however, caused his corpse to be conveyed with great pomp from Chambord to Strasburg, where it was interred in the Lutheran church in that town.
THE GREAT RAILWAY MANIA DAY
Never had there occurred, in the history of joint stock enterprises, such another day as the 30th of November 1845. It was the day on which a madness for speculation arrived at its height, to be followed by a collapse terrible to many thousands of families. Railways had been gradually becoming successful; and the old companies had, in many cases, bought off, on very high terms, rival lines which threatened to interfere with their profits. Both of these circumstances tended to encourage the concoction of new schemes. There is always floating capital in England waiting for profitable employment; there are always professional men looking out for employment in great engineering works; and there are always scheming moneyless men ready to trade on the folly of others. Thus the bankers and capitalists were willing to supply the capital; the engineers, surveyors, architects, contractors, builders, solicitors, barristers, and parliamentary agents, were willing to supply the brains and fingers; while, too often, cunning schemers pulled the strings. This was especially the case in 1845, when plans for new railways were brought forward literally by hundreds, and with a recklessness perfectly marvellous.
By an enactment in force at that time, it was necessary for the prosecution of any railway scheme in parliament, that a mass of documents should be deposited with the Board of Trade on or before the 30th of November in the preceding year. The multitude of these schemes, in 1845, was so great, that there could not be found surveyors enough to prepare the plans and sections in time. Advertisements were inserted in the newspapers, offering enormous pay for even a smattering of this kind of skill. Surveyors and architects from abroad were attracted to England; young men at home were tempted to break the articles into which they had entered with their masters; and others were seduced from various professions into that of railway engineers. Sixty persons in the employment of the Ordnance Department left their situations to gain enormous earnings in this way.
There were desperate fights in various parts of England between property owners who were determined that their land should not be entered upon for the purpose of railway surveying, and surveyors who knew that the schemes of their companies would be frustrated unless the surveys were made and the plans deposited by the 30th of November. To attain this end, force, fraud, and bribery were freely made use of. The 30th November 1845 fell on a Sunday; but it was no Sunday near the office of the Board of Trade. Vehicles were driving up during the whole of the day, with agents and clerks bringing plans and sections. In country districts, as that day approached, and on the morning of the day, coaches and four were in greater request than even at race time, galloping at full speed to the nearest railway station.
On the Great Western Railway an express train was hired by the agents of one new scheme; the engine broke down; the train came to a stand still at Maidenhead, and in this state, was run into by another express train hired by the agents of a rival project; the opposite parties barely escaped with their lives, but contrived to reach London at the last moment. On this eventful Sunday, there were no fewer than ten of these express trains on the Great Western Railway, and eighteen on the Eastern Counties! One railway company was unable to deposit its papers, because another company surreptitiously bought, for a high sum, twenty of the necessary sheets from the lithographic printer; and horses were killed in madly running about in search of the missing documents before the fraud was discovered. In some cases the lithographic stones were stolen; and in one instance the printer was bribed by a large sum not to finish, in proper time, the plans for a rival line.
One eminent house brought over four hundred lithographic printers from Belgium, and even then, and with these, all the work ordered could not be executed. Some of the plans were only two thirds lithographed, the rest being filled up by hand. However executed, the problem was to get these documents to Whitehall before midnight on the 30th of November. Two guineas a mile were in one instance paid for post-horses. One express train steamed up to London 118 miles in an hour and a half, nearly 80 miles an hour. An established company having refused an express train to the promoters of a rival scheme, the latter employed persons to get up a mock funeral cortege, and engage an express train to convey it to London; they did so, and the plans and sections came in the hearse, with solicitors and surveyors as mourners!
Copies of many of the documents had to be deposited with the clerks of the peace of the counties to which the schemes severally related, as well as with the Board of Trade; and at some of the offices of these clerks, strange scenes occurred on the Sunday. At Preston, the doors of the office were not opened, as the officials considered the orders which had been issued to keep open on that particular Sunday, to apply only to the Board of Trade; but a crowd of law agents and surveyors assembled, broke the windows, and threw their plans and sections into the office. At the Board of Trade, extra clerks were employed on that day, and all went pretty smoothly until nine o'clock in the evening. A rule was laid down for receiving the plans and sections, hearing a few words of explanation from the agents, and making certain entries in books. But at length the work accumulated more rapidly than the clerks could attend to it, and the agents arrived in greater number than the entrance hall could hold. The anxiety was somewhat allayed by an announcement, that whoever was inside the building before the clock struck twelve should be deemed in good time.
Many of the agents bore the familiar name of Smith; and when 'Mr Smith' was summoned by the messenger to enter and speak concerning some scheme, the name of which was not announced, in rushed several persons, of whom, of course, only one could be the right Mr. Smith at that particular moment. One agent arrived while the clock was striking twelve, and was admitted. Soon afterwards, a carriage with. reeking horses drove up; three agents rushed out, and finding the door closed, rang furiously at the bell; no sooner did a policeman open the door to say that the time was past, than the agents threw their bundles of plans and sections through the half opened door into the hall; but this was not permitted, and the policeman threw the documents out into the street. The baffled agents were nearly maddened with vexation; for they had arrived in London from Harwich in good time, but had been driven about Pimlico, hither and thither, by a post boy who did not, or would not, know the way to the office of the Board of Trade.
The Times newspaper, in the same month, devoted three whole pages to an elaborate analysis, by Mr. Spackman, of the various railway schemes brought forward in 1845. They were no less than (320 in number, involving an (hypothetical) expenditure of 560 millions sterling; besides 643 other schemes which had not gone further than issuing prospectuses. More than 500 of the schemes went through all the stages necessary for being brought before parliament; and 272 of these became acts of parliament in 1846 to the ruin of thousands who had afterwards to find the money to fulfill the engagements into which they had so rashly entered.