8th of January

St Apollinaris, the apologist, bishop, 175; St Lucian, of Beauvais, martyr, 290; St Nathalan, bishop, confessor, 452; St Severinus, abbot, 482; St Gudula, virgin, 712; St Pega, virgin, about 719; St Vulsin, bishop, confessor, 973.

 

Died. – Galileo Galilei, 1642; John Earl of Stair, 1707; Sir Thomas Burnet, 1753; John Baskerville, printer, 1775; Sir William Draper, 1787.

 

JOHN, FIRST EARL OF STAIR.

The Earl of Stair above cited was eldest son of James Dalrymple, Viscount Stair, the President of the Court of Session in Scotland, and the greatest lawyer whom that country has produced. This first earl, as Sir John Dalrymple, was one of three persons of importance chosen to offer the crown of Scotland to William and Mary at the Revolution. As Secretary of State for Scotland, he was the prime instrument in causing the Massacre of Glencoe, which covered his name with infamy, and did not leave that of his royal master untarnished. He was greatly instrumental in bringing about the union of Scotland _20190107_112720.JPGwith England, though he did not live to see it effected. His son, the second earl, as ambassador to France in the time of the regency of Orleans, was of immense service in defeating the intrigues of the Stuarts, and preserving the crown for the Hanover dynasty.

The remarkable talents and vigour of three generations of one family on the Whig side, not to speak of sundry offshoots of the tree in eminent official situations, rendered the Dalrymples a vexation of no small magnitude to the Tory party in Scotland. It appears to have been with reference to them, that the Nine of Diamonds got the name of the Curse of Scotland; this card bearing a resemblance to the nine lozenges, or, arranged saltire-wise on their armorial coat. Various other reasons have, indeed, been suggested for this expression – as that, the game of Comète being introduced by Mary of Lorraine (alternatively by James, Duke of York) into the court at Holyrood, the Nine of Diamonds, being the winning card, got this name in consequence of the number of courtiers ruined by it; that in the game of Pope Joan, the Nine of Diamonds is the Pope – a personage whom the Scotch Presbyterians considered as a curse; that diamonds imply royalty, and every ninth king of Scotland was a curse to his country: all of them most lame and unsatisfactory suggestions, in comparison with the simple and obvious idea of a witty reference to a set of detested but powerful statesmen, through the medium of their coat of arms. Another supposition, that the Duke of Cumberland wrote his inhuman orders at Culloden on the back of the Nine of Diamonds, is negatived by the fact, that a caricature of the earlier date of October 21, 1745, represents the young chevalier attempting to lead a herd of bulls, laden with papal curses, excommunications, &c., across the Tweed, with the Nine of Diamonds lying before them.

 

BICENTENARY OF NEWSPAPERS.

There are several newspapers in Europe which have lived two hundred years or more – papers that have appeared regularly, with few or no interruptions, amid wars, tumults, plagues, famines, commercial troubles, fires, disasters of innumerable kinds, national and private. It is a grand thing to be able to point to a complete series of such a newspaper; for in it is to be found a record, however humble and imperfect, of the history of the world for that long period. The proprietors may well make a holiday-festival of the day when such a bi-centenary is completed. A festival of this kind was held at Haarlem on the 8th of January, 1856, when the Haarlem Courant completed its 200th year of publication.

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If it were any part of our purpose here to mention the names of newspapers which have existed for a longer period than one century and a half, we should have to make out a pretty large list. Claims have been put forward in this respect for the Lincoln, Rutland, and Stamford Mercury, the Scotch Postman, the Scotch Mercury, the Dublin News-Letter, the Dublin Gazette, Pue’s Occurrences, Faulkner’s Journal, and many others, some still existing, others extinct. The Edinburgh Evening Courant has, we believe, never ceased to appear thrice a week (latterly daily) since the 15th of December 1718; and its rival, the Caledonian Mercury, now incorporated with the Weekly Scotsman, was but by two years less venerable. Saunders’s News-Letter, now stopped, had a vitality in Dublin of about one hundred and thirty years.

In or about the year 1711, the town-council of Glasgow kept a news-writer for a weekly ‘letter.’ A collection of such letters was afterwards found in Glammis Castle. During the time of Ben Jonson, and down to a later period, there were many news-writers living in London, some of them unemployed military men, who sought about in every quarter for news. Some would visit the vicinity of the Court, some the Exchange, some Westminster Hall, some (old) St Paul’s – the nave of which was, in those days, a famous resort for gossips. All that they could pick up was carried to certain offices, where they or other writers digested the news, and made it sufficient to fill a sheet of a certain size.

 

GETTING INTO A SCRAPE.

There is a game called golf, almost peculiar to Scotland, though also frequently played upon Blackheath, involving the use of a small, hard, elastic ball, which is driven from point to point with a variety of wooden and iron clubs. In the north, it is played for the most part upon downs (or links) near the sea, where there is usually abundance of rabbits. One of the troubles of the golf-player is the little hole which the rabbit makes in the sward, in its first efforts at a burrow; this is commonly called a rabbit’s scrape, or simply a scrape. When the ball gets into a scrape, it can scarcely be played. The rules of most golfing fraternities, accordingly, include one indicating what is allowable to the player when he gets into a scrape. Here, and here alone, as far as it is known to the writer, has the phrase a direct and intelligible meaning. It seems, therefore, allowable to surmise that this phrase has originated amongst the golfing societies of the north, and in time spread to the rest of the public.

 

On this Day from Other Sources.

 

ST NATHALAN, PLAGUE PREVENTER.

The church legend records how Saint Nathalan averted a raging pestilence from his church of Buthelny by the fervency of his prayers. Long after the legend was banished from the popular mind, and the very name of Nathalan forgotten, the parishioners of Buthelny kept the eighth of January (Saint Nathalan’s day) as a feast, on which they did no work.

Sketches, pp.1-28.

 

KING EDGAR DIES.

[Malcolm IV.’s] son Edgar, a prince of talent and valour, recovered the throne by his sword, and took up his residence in the Castle of Edinburgh, where he had seen his mother expire, and whence he, too, passed away, on the 8th of January, 1107. The register of the Priory of St. Andrews, in recording his demise, has these words:-Mortuus in Dun-Edin, est sepultus in Dunfermling.”

On his death-bed he bequeathed that part of Cumberland which the kings of Scotland possessed to his younger brother David. Alexander I., surnamed “the Fierce,” eldest brother of the latter, was disposed to dispute the validity of this donation; but perceiving that David had won over the English barons to his interest, he acquiesced in this partial dismemberment of the kingdom.

Old and New Edinburgh p.19.

 

LAST OF THE PRE-REFORMATION TRINKETS REMOVED.

But to return to the kirk session. Previous to the Restoration it would appear that certain pictures and crucifixes, saved from the general destruction, still remained in the High Church, and no doubt many such were to be found in the houses of those who adhered to the proscribed faith. By an act of an Assembly held at Aberdeen in 1640, it was ordered that all these should be removed, and the execution of this order naturally fell to the magistrates. But either they were slow to execute it, or the kirk session did not choose to wait for them, and accordingly we find the session issuing an order on the magistrates to take the necessary steps. “The session enacted that the Magistrates will cause all monuments of idolatry to be taken down and destroyed viz. all superstitious pictures crucifixes &c. both in private houses and in the Hie Kirk;” and the magistrates appear to have acted on the mandate and made the search. But it had not been very successful, as next day it was reported that they found only three that could be called so viz. the five wounds of Christ, the Holy Lamb, and Quintigerne ora pro nobis.”1

Old Glasgow, pp.189-215.

1  8th January, 1641.

 

FIRST EDITION OF SCOTLAND’S FIRST NEWSPAPER.

Jan. 8. [1661] – This day appeared the first number of the first original newspaper attempted in Scotland. It was a small weekly sheet, entitled Mercurius Caledonius; comprising the Affairs now in Agitation in Scotland, with a Survey of Foreign Intelligence. The editor was Thomas Sydserf, or Saint Serf, son of a former bishop of Galloway, who was soon after promoted to the see of Orkney. Principal Bailie alludes to this ‘diurnaler’ in bitter terms – ‘a very rascal, a profane atheistical papist, as some count him;’ the truth being that he was an Episcopalian loyalist of merely a somewhat extravagant type. Little is known of his previous history, beyond his having borne arms under Montrose, and published in London in 1658 a translation from the French under the title of Entertainments of the Cours, or Academicall Conversations, dedicated to the young Marquis of Montrose.

Domestic Annals, pp.302-321.

 

CHURCH REVENUES TRANSFERRED.

The Church of Bothwell, which stands in the immediate vicinity of the village, is of great antiquity. It was in 1390 converted into a collegiate church, for a provost and eight chaplains, or prebends, by Archibald the Grim, the first of the Douglases who possessed the Lordship of Bothwell. For this purpose, he added a choir to the church, and conferred on the establishment revenues sufficient for its support. The oldest portion of the building can still be easily distinguished from the addition made at this time. This Earl died in February, 1400-1, and was buried in the church of Bothwell. His daughter Marjory was in the same year, in the church of Bothwell, married to the Duke of Rothsay, Prince of Scotland, son of Robert III. This occurred in an evil hour for the happiness and safety of that unfortunate prince. By a charter to Anne, Duchess of Hamilton, dated 8th January, 1665, the name, title, and office of the prebends and prebendaries of the church were suppressed, and their rights and revenues were confirmed to the Duchess as Patroness.

Select Views, pp.47-52.

 

EXECUTED FOR BLASPHEMY.

Thomas Aikenhead, a youth of eighteen, ‘son to the deceest James Aikenhead, chirurgeon in Edinburgh,’ was now tried by the High Court of Justiciary for breach of the 21st act of the first parliament of Charles II., ‘against the crime of blasphemy,’ which act had been ratified by the 11th act of the fifth session of the parliament of the present reign. It was alleged in the indictment that the young man had, for twelvemonth past, been accustomed to speak of theology as ‘a rhapsody of feigned and ill-invented nonsense,’ calling the Old Testament Ezra’s Fables, and the New the history of the Imposter Christ, further ‘cursing Moses, Ezra, and Jesus, and all men of that sort.’ ‘Likeas,’ pursued this document, ‘you reject the mystery of the blessed Trinity, and say it is not worth any man’s refutation, and you also scoff at the mystery of the incarnation of Jesus Christ… as to the doctrine of redemption by Jesus, you say it is a proud and presumptuous device… you also deny spirits… and you have maintained that God, the world, and nature are but one thing, and that the world was from eternity… You have said that you hoped to see Christianity greatly weakened, and that you are confident it will in a short time be utterly extirpat. 

Aikenhead, though impenitent at first, no sooner received this indictment in prison, than he endeavoured to stop proceedings by addressing to the Lords of Justiciary ‘a petition and retraction,’ in which he professed the utmost abhorrence of the expressions attributed to him, saying he trembled even to repeat them to himself, and further avowing his firm faith in the gospel, in the immortality of the soul, in the doctrine of the Trinity, and in the divine authority of Scripture. 

The jury nevertheless unanimously found it proven ‘that the panel, Thomas Aikenhead, has railed against the first person, and also cursed and railed our blessed Lord, the second person, of the holy Trinity.’ They further found ‘the other crimes libelled proven – namely, the denying the incarnation of our Saviour, the holy Trinity, and scoffing at the Holy Scriptures.’ Wherefore the judges ‘decern and adjudge the said Thomas Aikenhead to be taken to the Gallowlee, betwixt Leith and Edinburgh, upon Friday the eighth day of January [1697] next to come, and there to be hanged on a gibbet till he be dead, and his body to be interred at the foot of the gallows.’

Domestic Annals, pp.355-378.

 

 

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