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are many of them demonstrably false. His work has some trifling articles,
I am, yours, &c. 1771, June
MR. URBAN, Having accidentally been this day a spectator of the fue neral procession of Sir Barnard Turner, I was referred, by a learned friend, in consequence of a conversation on the subject of the delay in moving the body, to Mr. Barrington's “ Observations on the more ancient statutes,” p. 474 ; where it clearly appears, that, whatever was the real cause of the delay, it could not possibly have been from any LEGAL ARREST*. “ It is difficult,” says the honourable and very learned judge,“ to account for many of the prevailing Vulgar Errors with regard to what is supposed to be law. Such are, THAT THE BODY OF A DEBTOR MAY BE TAKEN IN EXECUTION AFTER HIS DEATH ; which, however, was practised in Prussia ; before this present king abolished it by the Code Frederique. Other Vulgar errors are, that the old statutes have prohibited the planting of vineyards, or the use of sawing-mills ; which last notion I should conceive to have been occasioned by 5 and 6 Edw. VI. cap. xxii. forbidding what are called gig-mills, as they were sup: posed to be prejudicial to the woollen manufacture. There is likewise an act of 23 Eliz. cap. v. which prohibits any iron-mills within two and twenty miles of London, to prevent the increasing dearness of wood for fuel. AS for sawing mills, I cannot find any statute which relates to them; they are, however, established in Scotland, to the very great advantage both of the proprietors and the country. It is supposed likewise to be penal to open a coal mine, or to kill a crow, within five miles of London ; as also to shoot with a wind gun, or to carry a dark lanthorn. The first of these I take to arise from a statute of Henry the Seventh, prohibiting the use of a cross-bow; and the other from Guy Fawkes's dark lanthorn in the powder plot. To these Vulgar Errors may be added the supposing that the
* Much has been said, on the present occasion, about the Spanish ambassadors in one of the chapels of Westminster Abbey, who are said to have been kept above ground for debt; but this story also, we have no doubt, may be classed ainong the vulgar errors, and attributed to the ignorance of the vergers, like the old story of the lady who died by pricking her finger in working on a Sunday:
king signs the death-warrant (as it is called) for the execution of a criminal; as also, that there is a statute which obliges the owners of asses to crop their ears, lest the length of them should frighten the horses which they meet on the road. To these Vulgar Errors may be perhaps added the notion, that a woman's marrying a man under the gallows will save him from the execution. This probably arose from a wife baving brought an appeal against the murderer of her husband, who afterwards repenting the prosecution of her lover, not only forgave the offence, but was willing to marry the appellee. It is also a very prevailing error, that those who are born at sea belong to Stepney parish. I may likewise add to these, that any one may be put into the Crown-office for no cause whatsoever, or the most trifling injury. An ingenious correspondent, to whom I have not only this obligation, suggests two additional Vulgar
Errors. When a man designs to marry a woman who is in debt, if he takes her from the hands of a priest clothed only in her shift, it is supposed that he will not be liable to her engagements. The second is, that there was no landtax before the reign of William the Third.”
These curious particulars, Mr. Urban, are from the Observations on stat. 3, Henry VIII. whence, I am persuaded, your readers will not be displeased to see a further extract.
« Not only physicians are intended by this law to be put upon the liberal footing which that most learned and useful profession merits from the public, but surgeons also, who receive a further encouragement from a statute of the fifth of Henry the Eighth, which exempts them from an attendance upon juries. It may, perhaps, be thought singular to suppose that this exemption from serving on juries is the foundation of the Vulgar Error that a surgeon or butcher (from the barbarity of their business) may be challenged as jurors. A ridicule has been thrown upon surgeons, from their having been incorporated, formerly, with barbers; from which union they have within these few years separated themselves. The ridicule, however, arises from the change in the barber's situation, and not that of the surgeon.* Before the invention of perukes, barbers were not
* "It appears, by Joinville's Life of St. Levis, that barbers in other countries were anciently the surgeons who attonded armies during a campaign. It is believed that there is not, by the laws of any other country, so early an attention to the promotion of anatomical knowledge as by the thirty-first of Henry the Eighth, which empowers the united companies of barbers and surgeons to dissect, yearly, four of the bodies of condemned malefactors executed at Tyburn,"
employed often in the low office of shaving, and as for the making of wigs, it is a branch of trade which hath no sort of connection with chirurgery. It should seem, from ancient portraits, that the beard was suffered either to grow to its full length, or else to have been clipped in part only. There were anciently the same disputes between the French barbers and surgeons, in which the physicians interfered in order to support the barbers against the regular surgeons, who were supposed to encroach too nearly on the province of the physicians. See Pasquier's Recherches de la France, p. 866. et seq. It appears, in part of this controversy, that the barbers were very desirous of hearing lectures in anatomy. Glorieur comme un barbier is a French saying; and Du Chat imputes the origin of it to their very near contact of the faces of kings and great men. (Ducatiana, vol. ii. p. 458.). It appears, by an instrument in Rymer, intituled, Pro barbitonsore Regis,' that the king's palace, in the time of Henry the Sixth, was surrounded with little shops (opella,) which were to be entirely under the direction and controul of this great officer, together with the clerk of the Ewry. As there were then no carriages, and the streets very dirty, it is not improbable that those who went to court were shaved, as likewise dressed, in these stalls or shops, before they appeared in the royal presence. (Rymer, vol. V. part i. p. 180.) A considerable fee is also given to this barber for shaving every knight of the Bath on his creation, as well as forty shillings from every baron, 100 from every earl, and sol. from every duke, on the like occasion.”
XLVIII. On Avarice in Old Age.
MR. URBAN THE miser in the play is generally, I believe always, an old man, and we commonly use the expression, an old miser. Indeed there seems to be something extremely unpatural for young men to be guilty of this vice, though no doubt some are. However, the frailty is not so observable in them, because the gaiety, the vanity, usually incidental to that
age, in some degree, and as it were by fits and starts, renders the foible much less conspicuous. I do not pretend,
Mr. Urban, to palliate or excuse this odious and unsociable vice in either old or young. And yet something may be said in favour of old age, so far at least as to account for its being more peculiar to that time of life, and by way of assigning reasons why, from the nature of things, it may be so.
Ist, Care naturally grows with years. Experience teaches the old stager the value of money, which, in the common way, is not generally apprehended by young men, wbo are apt to launch out into extravagance, and often to their hurt or ruin. Hence Virgil uses the expression tristisque Senec tus, not so much, I apprehend, from the infirmities that commonly attend the decline of life, as from the black and corroding, the incessant and brow-wrinkling care, which in a manner always accompanies it, disposing the party to anxiety, to scraping, and the most penurious parsimony; cares, which generate money indeed, but bring their punishment along with them, and, therefore, are emphatically termed by the poets ultrices cure.
But the principal thing, 2dly, is, that the old man has, in effect, should he come to want, nothing to have recourse to, but his money. Labour he cannot, for that day is passed. And he has little to recommend him any other way;
person is altered, and disgusting; his accomplishments, whatever he had formerly been possessed of, are all flown and gone; insomuch that want is a forinidable, an insuperable evil to him, whilst a young man can cheerfully disregard it, can run any where to avoid it, and has a thousand remedies against it. One scarcely, methinks, can wonder, that an attention to money, though blameable enough, no doubt, when carried to excess and to a mistrust of God's providence, should so often be seen to assault the fearful breasts, and the heipless state of the aged, who think they have nothing else to trust to. Many, no doubt, on this very account, will not use the good things they are possessed of.
Is not, 3dly, the old man too often sensible, that money is the thing now, that makes him valued and esteemed, courted and attended ? That were he once poor, contempt and neglect would immediately follow? whence it is, that the only method he has, as he thinks, of attaching people to him, is by the credit and reputation of his wealth, which consequently, and under this persuasion, he continues to preserve, and even to increase, though he has already one foot, as it were, in the
grave. We have known many a one, Mr. Urban, who has had the ambition of dying worth a certain sum; a plum, or perhaps
two plums. This he never dreamed of at first setting out, but now finds it within his reach, and so,
Crescit amor nummi quantum ipsa pecunia crescit i and the consequence of such a view, when once it enters a man's thoughts, must be perpetual avarice and rapacity, even to the last hour. The man's honour is at stake, and his reputation, he supposes, will suffer, if he acquires not so many, or so many, thousands; a scheme, that never invades the youthful mind.
It appears to me, from these considerations, that for a truly sordid mind, devoid of all religion, (and it is scarcely possible, that such a disposition should be impressed with any right notion of religion, either towards God or man) to grow daily more and more anxious and solicitous about his pelf, is a thing so far from being an object of wonder, that on the contrary it is no other, though in itself so detestable, than what may be naturally expected and accounted for.
I am, Sir, yours, 1771, July.
XLIX. Distillation of a Spirituous Liquor from Milk.
MR. URBAN, Blackbourton, Oxon, Dec. 23, 1771. BOERHAAVE, Shaw, and the Chemical Writers, all lay it down as an indisputable truth, that no vinous or spirituous liquor can be produced from any other than vegetable substances; notwithstanding wbich, the History of the Tartars is full of accounts of ebriety among them, froni spirituous liquors distilled from cows and mares' milk; and they also frequently put flesh into the milk, to increase the strength of it for distillation. And although flesh and vegetables are so very different in appearance, it may be worthy of observation, that the food of all terrestrial animals is of vege, tables, or of suich animals as feed on them; so that what is said in Scripture in a figurative sense, that all flesh is grass, is really and philosophically true; and that, by digestion and the operations of the body, the food is assimilated and transmuted into the body of the animal which receives it. And as there is such an analogy between terrestrial and