3rd of January

St Peter Balsam, martyr, 311; St Anterus, pope, 235; St Gordius, martyr; Ste Geneviève, virgin

 

Born. – Marcus Tullius Cicero, B.C. 107; Douglas Jerrold, 1803.
Died. – Jeremiah Horrox, mathematician, 1641; George Monk, Duke of Albemarle, 1670; Josiah Wedgwood, 1795; Charles Robert Maturin, novelist, 1842; Eliot Warburton, historical novelist, 1852.

 

THE HORN BOOK.

In the manuscript account books of the Archer family, quoted by Mr Halliwell in his elaborate notes on Shakspeare, occurs this entry: ‘Jan. 3, 1715-16, one horn-book for Mr Eyres, 00:00:02.’ The article referred to as thus purchased at two-pence was one once most familiar, but now known only as a piece of antiquity, and that rather obscurely. The remark has been very justly made, that many books, at one time enjoying a more than usually great circulation, are precisely those likely to become the scarcest in a succeeding age; for example, nearly all school-books, and, above all, a Horn-Book. Down to the time of George II., there was perhaps no kind of book so largely and universally diffused as this said horn-book; at present, there is perhaps no book of that reign, of which it would be more difficult to procure a copy.

The annexed representation is copied from one given by Mr Halliwell, as taken from a black-letter example which was found some years ago in pulling down an old farm-house at Middleton, in Derbyshire. A portrait of King Charles I. in armour on horseback was upon the reverse, affording us an approximation to the date.

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The horn-book was the Primer of our ancestors – their established means of learning the elements of English literature. It consisted of a single leaf, containing on one side the alphabet large and small – in black-leather or in Roman – with perhaps a small regiment of monosyllables, and a copy of the Lord’s Prayer; and this leaf was usually set in a frame of wood, with a slice of diaphanous horn in front – hence the name horn-book. Generally there was a handle to hold it by, and this handle had usually a hole for a string, whereby the apparatus was slung to the girdle of the scholar. In a View of the Beau Monde, 1731, p. 52, a lady is described as ‘dressed like a child, in a bodice coat and leading-strings, with a horn-book tied to her side.’ A various kind of horn-book gave the leaf simply pasted against a slice of horn; but the one more generally in use was that above described. It is to it that Shenstone alludes in his beautiful cabinet-picture-poem, The Schoolmistress, where he tells of the children, how

‘Their books of stature small they take in hand,
Which with pellucid horn secured are,
To save from fingers wet the letters fair.’

It ought not to be forgotten that the alphabet on the horn-book was invariably prefaced with a Cross: whence it came to be called the Christ Cross Row, or by corruption the Criss Cross Row, a term which was often used instead of horn-book.

 

MIGRATORY BOGS.

On a bitter winter’s night, when rain had softened the ground, and loosened such soil as was deficient in cohesiveness, a whole mass of Irish bog or peat-moss shifted from its place. It was on the 3d of January 1853; and the spot was in a wild region called Enagh Monmore. The mass was nearly a mile in circumference, and several feet deep. On it moved, urged apparently by the force of gravity, over sloping ground, and continuing its strange march for twenty-four hours, when a change in the contour of the ground brought it to rest. Its extent of movement averaged about a quarter of a mile.

Such phenomena as these, although not frequent in occurrence, are sufficiently numerous to deserve notice. There are in many, if not most countries, patches of ground covered with soft boggy masses, too insecure to build upon, and not very useful in any other way. Bogs, mosses, quagmires, marshes, fens – all have certain points of resemblance: they are all masses of vegetable matter, more or less mixed with earth, and moistened with streams running through them, springs rising beneath them, or rains falling upon them. Some are masses almost as solid as wood, fibrous, and nearly dry; some are liquid black mud; others are soft, green, vegetable, spongy accumulations; while the rest present intermediate characters. Peat-bogs of the hardest kind are believed to be the result of decayed forests, acted upon by long-continued heat, moisture, and pressure; mosses and marshes are probably of more recent formation, and are more thoroughly saturated with water. In most cases they fill hollows in the ground; and if the edges of those hollows are not well-defined and sufficiently elevated, we are very likely to hear of the occurrence of quaking bogs and flow-mosses.

Scotland has many more bogs and peat-mosses than England. They are found chiefly in low districts, but sometimes even on the tops of the mountains. Mr Robert Chambers gives an account of an outburst which took place in 1629: ‘In the fertile district between Falkirk and Stirling, there was a large moss with a little lake in the middle of it, occupying a piece of gradually-rising ground. A highly-cultivated district of wheat-land lay below. There had been a series of heavy rains, and the moss became overcharged with moisture. After some days, during which slight movements were visible on this quagmire, the whole mass began one night to leave its native situation, and slide gently down to the low grounds. The people who lived on these lands, receiving sufficient warning, fled and saved their lives; but in the morning light they beheld their little farms, sixteen in number, covered six feet deep with liquid moss, and hopelessly lost.’ – Domestic Annals of Scotland, ii. 35.

Somewhat akin to this was the flowing moss described by Pennant. It was on the Scottish border, near the shore of the Solway. When he passed the spot during his First Journey to Scotland in 1768, he saw it a smiling valley; on his Second Journey, four years afterwards, it was a dismal waste. The Solway Moss was an expanse of semi-liquid bog covering 1600 acres, and lying somewhat higher than a valley of fertile land near Netherby. So long as the moderately hard crust near the edge was preserved, the moss did not flow over: but on one occasion some peat-diggers imprudently tampered with this crust; and the moss, moistened with very heavy rain, overcame further control. It was on the night of the 17th of November 1771, that a farmer who lived near the Moss was suddenly alarmed by an unusual noise. The crust had given way, and the black deluge was rolling towards his house while he was searching with a lantern for the cause of the noise. When he caught sight of a small dark stream, he thought it came from his own farm-yard dung hill, which by some strange cause had been set in motion. The truth soon flashed upon him, however. He gave notice to his neighbours with all expedition. ‘Others,’ said Pennant, ‘received no other advice than what this Stygian tide gave them: some by its noise, many by its entrance into their houses; and I have been assured that some were surprised with it even in their beds. These passed a horrible night, remaining totally ignorant of their fate, and the cause of their calamity, till the morning, when their neighbours with difficulty got them out through the roof.’ About 300 acres of bog flowed over 400 acres of land, utterly ruining and even burying the farms, overturning the buildings, filling some of the cottages up to the roof, and suffocating many cattle. The stuff flowed along like thick black paint, studded with lumps of more solid peat; and it filled every nook and crevice in its passage. ‘The disaster of a cow was so singular as to deserve mention. She was the only one, out of eight in the same cow-house, that was saved, after having stood sixty hours up to the neck in mud and water. When she was relieved she did not refuse to eat, but would not touch the water, nor would even look at it without manifest signs of horror.’

The same things are going on around us at the present day. During the heavy rains of August 1861, there was a displacement of Auchingray Moss between Slamannan and Airdrie. A farmer, looking out one morning from his farm-door near the first-named town, saw, to his dismay, about twenty acres of the moss separate from its clay bottom, and float a distance of three quarters of a mile. The sight was wonderful, but the consequences were grievous; for a large surface of potato-ground and of arable land became covered with the offensive visitant.

 

On This Day from Other Sources.

 

FIRST RECORDED BISHOP OF CAITHNESS DIES.

This year, 1185, died Andrew, Bishop of Caithness, the 3rd day of January, at Dunfermline;

Historical Works, pp.19-38.

 

JAMES, EARL OF MORAY & REGENT OF SCOTLAND, SHOWS HIS TEETH.

On the morrow, the Privy Council resolved, that justice airs should be held, within the several shires, the object whereof was, sufficiently obvious, to oblige every one to obey the regent; and to enable the Regent to harass those, who might be suspected of disaffection to him. As a proper prelude to those courts, four persons were executed, on the 3d of January 1568, who had been convicted of the King’s murder: The persons, who were thus executed, were Dalgleish, Powrie, Hepburn, and Hay; the servants, and friends, of Bothwell: They all acknowledged their guilt; and in their declarations, acquitted the Queen of any knowledge of their guilty act.

Life of Mary, p.198.

 

JAMES, EARL OF MORAY & REGENT, IMPLICATED BY THOSE ON THE GALLOWS.

The 3rd of January, this year, 1568, the Regent, the Earl of Moray, [had] cause [to] execute to death John [Hay] of Tallo, younger, John Hepburn of Bolton, Paris, a Frenchman, and one [George] Dalgleish, servants to the Earl of Bothwell, who took it on their solemn oath, at the gallows, that Bothwell had assured them that [James Stewart] Moray and [James Douglas] Morton were the authors of killing [Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley] the King.

Historical Works, pp. 340-416.

 

PURITAN PREDICTS HIS OWN DEATH BY CANNON & MARQUIS OF ARGYLE IMPRISONED.

[General Monk] at once began his march southward, with the army of Scotland, to accomplish the Restoration.

When the Puritan gunners in the Castle were ordered to fire a salute in honour of that event, an old “saint” of Oliver’s first campaigns bluntly refused obedience, saying, “May the devil blaw me into the air gif I lowse a cannon this day! If I do, some man shall repent it!” Them according to Nicoll, he was forced to discharge a gun, which burst, and verifying his words, “shuites his bellie from him, and blew him quyte over the Castle wall, in the sichte of mony pepill.” On the 3rd of January, 1661, Scottish companies were enlisted under the Earl of Middleton to re-garrison the fortress, wherein the first Marquis of Argyle was committed to prison, having been sent from the Tower on the accusation of “complying with Cromwell in the death of Charles I.”

Old and New Edinburgh, pp.47-66.

 

FIRST EDITION OF THE EDINBURGH ADVERTISER PRINTED.

From his printing-house in the Castle Hill, Alexander Donaldson issued the first number of his once famous newspaper, The Edinburgh Advertiser, on the 3rd of January, 1764. It was a large quarto, and was also issued and sold from his shop, “near Norfolk Street in the Strand, London;” and his first number contains the following curious advertisement, among others:-

“Any young woman not under 15, nor much over 30 years of age, that is tolerably handsome, and would incline to give her hand to a Black Prince, upon directing a letter to F. Y., care of the Publisher, will be informed particularly as to this matrimonial scheme, which they may be assured is a good one in every respect, the colour of the husband only excepted. If desired, secresy may be depended on.”

Old and New Edinburgh, pp.315-321.

 

CREECH RILES THE INTELLECTUALS.

During the whole off the period mentioned nearly all the really valuable literature of the time came from [William Creech’s] establishment. He published the works of Cullen, Gregory, Adam Smith, Burns, Dugald Stewart, Henry Mackenzie, Blair, Beattie, Campbell (the opponent of Hume), Lords Woodhouselee and Kames, and by the last-named he was particularly regarded with esteem and friendship; and it was on the occasion of his having gone to London for some time in 1787 that Burns wrote his well-known poem of “Willie’s Awa:” –

“Oh, Willie was a witty wight,
And had o’ things an’ unco slight,
Auld Reekie aye he keepit tight,
And trig and braw;
But now they’ll busk her like a fright –
Willie’s awa!”

We have already referred to the club in which originated the Mirror and Lounger. These periodicals were issued by Creech; and the first number of the former, when it appeared on Saturday, 3rd of January, 1779, created quite a sensation among the “blue-stocking” coteries of the city.

Old and New Edinburgh, pp.148-157.

 

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