14th of January

Sts Isaias and Sabbas, 273. St Barbasceminus, 346. St Hilary, B. 368. St Felix.

 

Born. – Prince Adam Czartoryski, 1770. 
Died. – Edward Lord Bruce, 1610; Dr John Boyse, translator of the Bible, 1643; Madame de Sevigné, 1695; Edmund Halley, astronomer, 1742; Dr George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne, 1753.

 

INFERNAL MACHINES.

The 14th of January 1858 was made memorable in France by an attempt at regicide, most diabolical in its character, and yet the project of a man who appears to have been by no means devoid of virtue and even benevolence. It was, however, the third time that what the French call an Infernal Machine was used in the streets of Paris, for regicidal purposes, within the present century.

It was a Bourbonist contrivance directed against the life of the First Consul Bonaparte. ‘This machine,’ says Sir Walter Scott, in his Life of Napoleon, ‘consisted of a barrel of gunpowder, placed on a cart, to which it was strongly secured, and charged with grape-shot, so disposed around the barrel as to be dispersed in every direction by the explosion. The fire was to be communicated by a slow match. It was the purpose of the conspirators, undeterred by the indiscriminate slaughter which such a discharge must occasion, to place the machine in the street, through which the First Consul must go to the opera; having contrived that it should explode exactly as his carriage should pass the spot.’ Never, during all his eventful life, had Napoleon a narrower escape than on this occasion, on the 14th of December 1800. St Regent applied the match, and an awful explosion took place. Several houses were damaged, twenty persons were killed on the spot, and fifty-three wounded, including St Regent himself. Napoleon’s carriage, however, had just got beyond the reach of harm. This atrocity led to the execution of St Regent, Carbon, and other conspirators.

 

MISERRIMUS.

In the north aisle of the cloister of Worcester Cathedral is a sepulchral slab, which bears only the word MISERRIMUS, expressing that a most miserable but unknown man reposes below.

There has of course been much speculation regarding the identity of Miserrimus: even a novel has been written upon the idea, containing striking events and situations, and replete with pathos. It is alleged, however, that the actual person was no hero of strikingly unhappy story, but only a ‘Rev Thomas Morris, who, at the Revolution refusing to acknowledge the king’s supremacy [more probably refusing to take the oaths to the new monarch], was deprived of his preferment, and depended for the remainder of his life on the benevolence of different Jacobites.’

The writer can speak on good authority of a similar epitaph which a dying person of unhappy memory desired to be put upon his coffin. The person referred to was an Irish ecclesiastic who many years ago was obliged, in consequence of a dismal lapse, to become as one lost to the world. Fully twenty-five years after his wretched fall, an old and broken down man, living in an obscure lodging at Newington, a suburb of Edinburgh, sent for one of the Scottish Episcopal clergy, for the benefit of his ministrations as to a dying person. Mr F— saw much in this aged man to interest him; he seemed borne down with sorrow and penitence. It was tolerably evident that he shunned society, and lived under a feigned name and character. Mr F— became convinced that he had been a criminal, but was not able to penetrate the mystery. The miserable man at length had to give some directions about his funeral – an evidently approaching event; and he desired that the only inscription on his coffin should be ‘A CONTRITE SINNER.’ He was in due time deposited without further memorial in Warriston Cemetery, near Edinburgh.

 

On this Day in Other Sources.

 

JAMES V. DISAPPOINTED IN HIS HEIR.

For grief of this loss, and disgrace put on him by his proud and factious nobility, the King sickens of a [slow] fever, at Falkland: the Queen, in the meantime, is brought to bed of a daughter, christened Mary.* News whereof being brought to the King, he turns himself to the wall, and with a grievous groan, says, Scotland did come with a lass, and it will go with one, devil go with it: and so, without any more words to a purpose, departs this life at his palace of Falkland, the [14th] of January, in the 31st year of his age, and 30th of his reign, in the year of our redemption 1542. His body being embalmed and put in [a] coffin of lead, was solemnly interred in the burial of the King, in the abbey church of the Holy Cross, near Edinburgh.

Historical Works, pp.238-275.

 

OWNER OF ALLAN RAMSAY’S OLD BOOKSHOP DIES.

The attractions of the old shop increased when it passed with the business into the hands of the celebrated William Creech, son of the minister of Newbattle. Educated at the grammar school of Dalkeith and the University of Edinburgh, he had many mental endowments, an inexhaustible fund of amusing anecdote, and great conversational powers, which through life caused him to be courted by the most eminent men of the time; and his smiling face, his well-powdered head, accurate black suit, with satin breeches, were long remembered after he had passed away; but he had acquired penurious habits, with a miserly avidity for money, which not only precluded all benevolence to the deserving, but actually marred even the honest discharge of business transactions. In 1771 he entered into partnership with Mr. Kincaid, who left the business two years after, and the whole devolving upon Mr. Creech, he conducted it for thirty-four years with singular enterprise and success. For all that time his quaint shop at the east-end of the Luckenbooths was the resort of the clergy, the professors, and also all public and eminent men in the Scottish metropolis; and his breakfast-room was a permanent literary lounge, which was known by the name of “Creech’s Levee.”

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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!”

Creech died unmarried on the 14th of January, 1815, in his seventieth year, only two years before the interesting old Land which bore his name for nearly half a century was demolished; but a view of it is attached to his “Fugitive Pieces,” which he published in 1791.

Old and New Edinburgh, pp.148-157.

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