« ZurückWeiter »
and I take it to be a relic of druidism, particularly from a noted story related by Vopiscus, of the emperor Dioclesian, who, when a private soldier in Gallia, on his removing thence, reckoning with his hostess, who was a druid woman, she told him he was too penurious, and did not bear in him the noble soul of a soldier; on his reply, that his pay was small, she, looking stedfastly on him, said that he needed not be so sparing of his money, for, after he should kill a boar, she confidently pronounced he would be emperor of Rome, which he took as a compliment from her; but, seeing her serious in her affirmation, the words she spoke stuck upon him, and he was afterwards much delighted in hunting and killing of boars, often saying, when he saw many made emperors, and his own fortune not much mending, I kill the boars, but 'tis others that eat the flesh. Yet it happened that, many years after, one Arrius Aper, father in law of the emperor Numerianus, grasping for the empire, traitorously slew him, for which fact being apprehended by the soldiers and brought before Dioclesian, who being then become a prime commander in the army, they left the traitor to his disposal, who, asking his name, and being told that he was called Aper, i. e. a boar, without further pause he sheathed his sword in his bowels, saying et hunc Aprum cum rateris, i. e. 4 Even this boar also to the rest:' which done, the soldiers, commending it as a quick, extraordinary act of justice, without further deliberation saluted him by the name of emperor. I bring this story here in view, as not improper on this hint, nor unuseful to be observed, because it gives fair evidence of the antiquity of the second sight, and withal shows that it descended from the ancient druids, as being one part of the diabolical magic they are charged with: and, upon their dispersion into the territories of Denmark and Swedeland, continued there, in the most heathenish parts, to this day, as is set forth in the story of the late Duncan Campbel."
In Collins's " Ode on the popular Superstitions of the Highlands of Scotland" ire the following lines on this subject:
Bow they, whose sight such dreary dreams engross,
With their own vision oft Mtonish'd droop, When, o'er the wat'ry strath, or quaggy moss. They see the gliding ghosts unbodied troop.'
Or, if in sports, or on the festive green,
Their dcsiin'd glance some fated youth descry.
Who, now, perhaps, in lusty vigor seen, And rosy health, shall soon lamented die. • • » q
To Monarchs dear, some hundred miles astray,
Oft have they seen Fate give the fatal blow. The Seer, in Sky, shriek'd as the blood did flow
When heedless Charles warm on the scaffold lay!"
The minister of Applecross, in the county of Ross, speaking of his parishioners, in 1792, says, "With them the belief of the second sight is general." The following passage is in Waldrou's "Description of the Isle of Man."
"The natives of the island tell you, that, before any person dies, the procession of the funeral is acted by a sort of beings, which for that end render them- selves visible. I know several that have offered to make oath that, as they have been passing the road, one of these funerals has come behind them, and even laid the bier on their shoulders, as though to assist the bearers. One person, who assured me he had been served so, told me that the flesh of his shoulder had been very much bruised, and was black for many weeks after. There are few or none of them who pretend not to have seen or heard these imaginary obsequies (for I must not omit that they sing psalms in the same manner as those do who accompany the corpse of a dead friend), which so little differ from real ones, that they are not to be known till both coffin and mourners are seen to vanish at the church doors. These they take to be a sort of friendly demons; and their business, they say, is to warn people of what is to befal them: accordingly, they give notice of any stranger's approach by the trampling of horses at the gate of the house where they are to arrive. As difficult as I found it to bring myself to give any faith to this, I have frequently been very much surprised, when, on visiting a friend, I have found the table ready spread, and every thing in order to receive me, and been told by the person to whom I went, that he had knowledge of my coming, or some other guest, by these good-natured intelligencers. Nay, when obliged to be absent for some time from home, my own servants have assured me they were informed by these means of my return, and expected me the very hour I came, though perhaps it was' some days before I hoped it myself at my going abroad. That this is fact, I am positively convinced by many proofs."
The light which we have gained was given us, not to be ever staring on, but by it to discern onward things, more remote from our knowledge.—Milton.
November 24.—Daybreaks. . 5 46
Sun rises . . 7 40
— sets. . . 4 12
Twilight ends . 6 14
On the 25th of November, 1724, the ship Bouevia, of London, burthen about 250 tons, Captain Brooks commander, set sail from the coast of Holland, having two pilots, one English, and the other Dutch; and the captain's wife on board with him.
The day had been fair and clear; but in the evening, about six, it blew hard at south and by west. The gale increased into a violent storm, and continued for about seven hours, veering to the west, and north and by west; during which the ship was stranded off Enchuysen, in the Texel. In order to save themselves, if possible, the men all got into the longboat, and were just ready to put off, but, not seeing their captain among them, they called to him to hasten down, while the sea broke over the boat, and endangered her beating to pieces against the sides of the stranded vessel. The captain, in this perilous point of time, rushed to his seasick wife in the cabin, and earnestly laboured to bring her along with him. But she, who had heard the men cry out that the boat would sink under the weight of two persons more, embraced him passionately, and refused to go. She wept, «nd told him, in the most moving manner, mat a woman in such an extremity would prove a dangerous incumbrance. She implored him not to think of dividing his care, but to employ it all for the preservation of his single life, much dearer to her than her own was. He at length prevailed upon her to ascend upon deck; where the first observation they made was, that the boat, having been beaten off
from the ship by the force of the swell,
was out of sight. The captain gazed in mute despair on his wife's face, when a billow, breaking over the midship, washed him headlong into the sea, and left her shrieking and alone behind him, till, after a succession of the bitterest outcries, she fell forward senseless. The boat, in the mean time, endeavouring to return to the ship, passed providentially near the captain, who was yet faintly swimming; her crew discerned him in the sea, and snatched him up, spent and speechless. In this condition they laid him at the bottom of the boat, and coming along the ship's side, one of the sailors saw his wife with her arms and clothes entangled in the shrouds. At the moment of her fall she had been saved and supported against tha rigging. The boat's crew redoubled their efforts to save her; and succeeded in dragging her into the boat. They laid her apparently dead by the side of her husband, who was in the same condition, and put off again. With great difficulty they got ashore upon one of the islands in the Texel. Here the captain, on coming to himself, told his crew that they would have done more kindly had they let him perish in the sea, since his life would be for ever imbittered by the unhappy death of her for whose sake only he had thought itworth preserving. His wife was sufficiently recovered, and near enough to hear and answer this noble instance of her husband's tenderness. In a moment they were in each other's arms, with transports of joy, less capable of description than of being imagined.
This relation was taken from the mouth of an eye-witness to their providential rescue, and happy discovery of each other's safety,
November 25.—Day breaks . 5 47 Sun rises . . 7 49 — sets ..411 Twilight ends . 6 13
Yesterday, the narrative of the providential survival of a captain and his wife, and their transports on discovering each otherto be abve,after each had supposed the other had perished, may be well succeeded
* Plain-Dealer, No. 88.
by an affecting story of a final separation inflicted bv a cruel doom of law. The narration forms the first paper of an obsolete periodical work.'
Punishment or Death. The long-protracted gazings, the paleness, the tremblings, and the ghastly distorted faces, of the poor departing smugglers (who die with strong reluctance, and linger and lengthen out their last painful moment), would be a startling sight to those whose province it is to weigh with pity and deliberation, whether punishments more adequate, and more politic, than death, might not be awarded to the commission of crime.
One evening, very lately, all my neighbourhood, in barbican, were in an uproar on a sudden; and I was disturbed in my meditations by the shrieking of a woman, the mixed cries of children, and a growing hum of concourse, that seemed close under my window. I threw aside my pipe, and, hastening to look out, saw the street entirely filled by a group of dismal faces, that had gathered themselves into a tumult about a house directly opposite, and appeared to be touched, as strongly as common natures are capable, with a mixture of surprise and sorrow. It seems, the husband of a laborious poor creature, who was mistress of this house, had been condemned at the county assizes, in one of the late circuits, for stealing a horse; and a letter had just now been delivered to his wife, which the criminal himself had written the very morning he was executed.
His relations and acquaintance had depended on a reprieve : for the man was universally beloved among his neighbours; and, though always very poor, and unfortunate in his dealings; had been of a sober disposition, remarkable for his industry, and never known before to have beeen guilty of the least dishonesty. He had six children alive, and the eldest but eight years old. His mother, who lived in the same little house, had been disabled by sickness for several months past : so that, perceiving it beyond his power to subsist his family any longer, and not daring to stay in town by reason of some debts he had contracted, he went down to try his friends, who lived in good circumstances in the country. But, instead of meeting wiih assistance, he
• Plain Dealer, May 12, 1724, in Dr. Drake's Gleaner.
only spent in this journey all the little he had carried with him; and, not being able to support the thoughts of returning without bread to a family in such want of it, he rode away with a horse which he found tied to a gate; and, being pursued and overtaken, was tried, condemned, and hanged for it.
This history was loudly given me by the good women in the street; after which, I had the curiosity to press in among the crowd; and was struck at my first entrance by the most moving scene of sorrow that I ever remember to have met with. The widow had broken open her husband's letter, in transport, concluding that it brought her the confirmation of a reprieve, which a former had given her hopes of. But she was so shocked ?nd overwhelmed by the sudden reverse, that her grief was a kind of madness. She sat on the floor without her head dress, and across her knees was an infant crying with great impatience for the breast it had been thrown from. Another slept in the era lie, close by a little bed, in which the grandmother sat weeping, bending forward in strong agony, and wringing her hands in silence. The four eldest children were gathered into a knot, and clung about the neck of their miserable mother, stamping, screaming, and kissing her, in a storm of distracted tenderness. The poor woman herself was in a condition past describing. She pressed the letter of her dead husband to her eyes 1—her lips 1—her bosom 1 She raved, and talked, and questioned him as if he had been present, and at every little interval, dried her tears with his letter; and cast a look upon the company, so wild, and so full of horror, that it cannot be conceived but by those who were witnesses of it.
As soon as she saw me there, she stretched out her hand, and made signs that I should read the letter: which I received from her accordingly; and going back to my lodging, with a resolution to send over some fitter person than myself to assist in the distresses of so disconsolate a family, I sat down and took a copy of it, because it moved me exceedingly. "Dear loving Betty,
"It is now nine o'clock ; and I must be fetched out by and by, and go to die before eleven. I shall see my poor Bess no more in this world; but if we meet one another again in the next, as I hope to, God we shall, we may never par* afterwards. Methinks, if T could but only once more look upon my good Betty before I die, though it should be but for a minute, and say a kind word to my fatherless children, that must starve now if God do not take care for them, I should go away with a good heart. And yet sometimes I fancy it is better as it is, for it would be sad to die afterwards; and I fear it would make me fainthearted, and I should be wishing that I might live to get you bread and clothes for your precious bodies. Sarah Taylor made my heart ache, when she told me that you had pawned away every tiling to make up that last fifty shillings that you sent me by Will Sanderson, who is now in the room with me, and sits down upon the straw that I laid on last night, and is weeping for me like a child. But God will make up all the money to you again, that you have let me have to no purpose. And I should be sorry that any unkind body should hit it in your teeth that I come to such an untimely bad end; for I thought as little of it as they do. But all the way as I walked up to London afoot, I could not help having a fancy in my head at every turn, that I saw my poor dear Betty, and my six helpless little ones, hanging upon me, and crying out bitterly that they had no bread to keep life in them, and begging me to buy them some; and so I thought that I would sell that horse, and make you believe that I got money of your sister Parker ; but she was too sparing for that, and would never once look upon me. I pray to God to forgive her; and, if she would but be good to you when I am gone, God bless her. Loving Betty, remember me to my sorrowful mother, and tell her not to take on too much. And bid Richard and Harry take warning by my fall, if ever they come to be men: and for the poor girls, they are too young as yet to understand any thing you can say to them. God's goodness be your comfort! and, if you can, don't think about me, for it will make you only melancholy. I hope the old deputy will be kind to you, and help you to do somewhat. I am sorry I cannot write more, because my tears are come into my eyes. Little did I think of this dismal parting —Oh! 'tis very sad I—God bless you in this unhappy world, dear dear Betty "From your unfortunate,
« R. S."
I carried this letter with me to at.
assembly, where it was universally agreed that there is a plain-hearted honesty very manifest in all parts of it; and a generous and manly sorrow, not arising so much from his own desire to live, as from a prospect of their wants whom his death was to leave destitute. Our clergyman in particular was greatly moved to compassion, and proposed a charitable collection to be sent to the poor widow, to which himself contributed first in a very liberal proportion.
He related to us afterwards an extraordinary dying speech, of a very different turn, which he heard made, when a student, by a house-breaker, who was hanged for murder and a robbery.
"Good people (said the criminal) since I am to serve you for a sight, the least you can do is to be civil to the man that entertains you. I ask nothing of you but the justice that is due to me. There are some meddling tongues, which I can hear among the crowd, very busy to incense you. Though it is true I have committed murder, yet I hope I am no murderer. The felony I really purposed, but my intention had no part in the death that I was guilty of. The deceased cried for help, and was so obstinate and class orous, that I was under the necessity » kill him, or submit myself to be taker; And thus I argued in my miud : if murder him I shall get off; or, at worst, if I am taken my punishment will be no greater than if 1 sparehim, and surrender: I can be but hanged for murder, and I must be hanged too for the house-breaking. This thought, good people, prevailed with me to shoot him; so that what you call murder was but self preservation. Now, that I should have died in this same manner, whether I had shot him or no, witness these two weak brothers here, who look as if they were already at the other end of their voyage, though they have not hoisted sail yet: one of these stole some bacon, and the other a wet shirt or two. The law must be certainly wiser than you are ; and since that has been pleased to set our crimes on a level, be so civil, or compassionate, as to hold your silly tongues, and let me die without slander."
November 26.—Day breaks. ; 5 48 Sun rises . . 7 60 — sets . . 4 10 Twilight ends . 6 13
November 27,1621,the House of Lords sentenced John Blount to pillory, imprisonment, and labor for life, for counterfeiting a lord's protection. This was the first case of imprisonment beyond the si ssion by the House of Lords. The first precedent for their infliction of fines appears about two years afterwards, when they sentenced one Morley to pay £1000, and condemned him to the pillory, for a libel on the lord keeper."
The following inscription is on a tombstone at Ivy church-yard m h ent. [Literal Copy.] In Memory of Hamuli Maigaret,
Daughter of Matthew and Hannah B ,
who died Nov. 27th, 1827, aged 5 years.
of two of their infants. In Sevenoaks church-yard is the following
Grim Death took me without any warning, I was well at night and dead at nine in the
Omens and prognostications of things, Bourne says, "are still in the mouths of all, though only observed by the vulgar. In country places especially they are in great repute, and are the directors of several actions of life, being looked upon as presages of things future, or the determiners of present good or evil. He specifies several, and derives them with the greatest probability from the heathens, whose observation of these he deduces also from the practice of the Jews, with whom it was a custom to ask signs. He concludes all such observations at present to be sinful and diabolical.
* Law Magazine, 1831, p. 3.
The following lines, are from"\Vythther's Abuses stript and whipt," 1613:— For worthless matters some are wondrous sad. Whom if I rail not vaine I must terme mad If that their noses bleed some certain drops, And then again upon the suddain stops, Or, if the bahling foule we call a jay, A squirrell, or a hare, but cms. their way. Or, if the salt fall toward them at table, Or any such like superstitious bablc, Th' »• mirth is spoiled, because they hold it
That some mischance must thereupon ensue.—
Somniis.vibratione Palpebral, Sortibus, Jactis, &c. ad quae praesagia homines brtrdi stupent attoniti: inquisitores futurorum negligentes prasentia.
Dr. Hickes, in a letter to Dr. Charlett, Master of University College, Oxford, dated Jan. 23, 1710-11, and preserved in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, mentions " the Omens that happened at the Coronation of K. James the second, which," says he, "I saw: viz. the tottering of the Crown upon his head; the broken canopy over it; and the rent Flag hanging upon the white Tower when I came home from the Coronation. It was torn by the wind at the same time the signal was given to the Tower that he was crowned. I put no great stress upon these Omens, but I cannot despise them; most of them, I believe, come by chance, but some from superior intellectual agents, especially those which regard the fate of Kings and Nations."
Of this unfortunate Monarch his brother Charles II. is said to have prophesied as follows, with great success: the King said one day to Sir Richard Bulstrode, "I am weary of travelling, I am resolved to go abroad no more: but, when I am dead and gone, I know not what my brother will do; I am much afraid when he comes to the throne he will be obliged to travel again." Ibid. p. 51.
Gay, in his fable of the farmer's wife and the raven, thus ridicules some of our superstitious omens:
Why are those tears ? why droops your head?
Alas ! you know the cause too well,
• Legal Observer, Feb. 0, 1831.