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16th of January

St Marcellus, pope, martyr, 310. St Macarius, the elder, of Egypt, 390. St Honoratus, archbishop of Arles, 429. St Fursey, son of Fintan, king of part of Ireland, 650. Five Friars, minors, martyrs. St Henry, hermit, 1127.

Born. – Richard Savage, poet, 1697. 
Died. – Edmund Spenser, poet, 1599; Edward Gibbon, historian, 1794; Sir John Moore, 1809; Edmund Lodge, herald, 1839.


The confessions or statements of an author regarding the composition of a great work are generally interesting. Gibbon gives an account both of the formation of the design of writing his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and of the circumstances under which that magnificent book was finished. At about twenty-seven years of age he inspected the ruins of Rome under the care of a Scotchman ‘of experience and taste,’ named Byers; and ‘it was at Rome,’ says he, ‘on the 15th of October 1764, as I sat musing amidst the ruins of the Capitol, while the bare-footed friars were singing vespers in the Temple of Jupiter, that the idea of writing the decline and fall of the city first started to my mind.’ It is to be observed that he thought only of the history of the city, not of the empire, to which his ideas finally expanded.


The battle of Corunna, January 16, 1809, was heard of with profound feeling by the British public. An army had failed in its mission: deceived by the Spanish junta and British minister (Mr Frere), it had made an advance on Madrid, and was forced to commence a retreat in the depth of winter. But the commander, Sir John Moore, more than redeemed himself from any censure to which he was liable, by the skill and patience with which he conducted the troops on their withdrawal to the coast. Our army was in great wretchedness, but the pursuing French were worse; and when the gallant Moore stood at bay at Corunna, he gave the pursuers a thorough repulsed, though at the expense of his own life. 

The handsome and regular features of Moore bear a melancholy expression, in harmony with his fate. He was in reality an admirable soldier. He had from boyhood devoted himself to his profession with extreme ardour, and his whole career was one in which duty was never lost sight of. He perished at the too early age of forty-seven, survived by his mother, at the mention of whose name, on his death-bed, he manifested the only symptom of emotion which escaped him in that trying hour. 

While a boy of eleven years old, Moore had a great advantage, for his education in matters of the world, by accompanying his father, Dr Moore, on a tour of Europe, in company with the minor Duke of Hamilton, to whom Dr Moore acted as governor or preceptor. The young soldier, constantly conversing with his highly enlightened parent, and introduced to many scenes calculated to awake curiosity, became a man in thoughts and manners while still a mere boy. At thirteen he danced, fenced, and rode with uncommon address. His character was a fine compound of intelligence, gentleness, and courage. 

The connection with the Duke of Hamilton had very nearly cost Moore his life. The Duke, though only sixteen, was allowed to wear a sword. One day, ‘in an idle humour, he drew it, and began to amuse himself by fencing at young Moore, and laughed as he forced him to skip from side to side to shun false thrusts. The Duke continued this sport till Moore unluckily started in the line of the sword, and received it in his flank.’ The elder Moore was speedily on the spot, and found his son wounded on the outside of the ribs. The incident led to the formation of a lasting friendship between the penitent young noble and his almost victim. – Life of Sir John Moore, by his brother, James Carrick Moore.


On the 16th of January 1749, there took place in London a bubble or hoax, which has somehow become unusually well impressed upon the public mind. ‘A person advertised that he would, this evening, at the Haymarket Theatre, play on a common walking cane the music of every instrument now used, to surprising perfection; that he would, on the stage, get into a tavern quart bottle, without equivocation, and while there, sing several songs, and suffer any spectator to handle the bottle; that if any spectator should come masked, he would, if requested, declare who they were; and that in a private room he would produce the representation of any person dead, with which the person requesting it should converse some minutes, as if alive.’ The prices proposed for this show were – gallery, 2s.; pit, 3s.; boxes, 5s.; stage, 7s. 6d. 

At the proper time, the house was crowded with curious people, many of them of the highest rank, including no less eminent a person than the Culloden, Duke of Cumberland. They sat for a little while with tolerable patience, though uncheered with music; but by and by, the performer not appearing, signs of irritation were evinced. In answer to a sounding with sticks and catcalls, a person belonging to the theatre came forward and explained that, in the event of a failure of performance, the money should be returned. A wag then cried out, that, if the ladies and gentlemen would give double prices, the conjurer would go into a pint bottle, which proved too much for the philosophy of the audience. A young gentleman threw a lighted candle upon the stage, and a general charge upon that part of the house followed. According to a private letter, to which we have had access – (it was written by a Scotch Jacobite lady) – ‘Cumberland was the first that flew in a rage, and called to pull down the house… He drew his sword, and was in such a rage, that somebody slipped in behind him and pulled the sword out of his hand, which was as much to say, “Fools should not have chopping sticks.” This sword of his has never been heard tell of, nor the person who took it. Thirty guineas of reward are offered for it. Monster of Nature, I am sure I wish he may never get it! 

‘The greater part of the audience made their way out of the theatre; some losing a cloak, others a hat, others a wig, and others, hat, wig, and swords also. One party, however, stayed in the house, in order to demolish the inside; when, the mob breaking in, they tore up the benches, broke to pieces the scenes, pulled down the boxes, in short dismantled the theatre entirely, carrying away the particulars above-mentioned into the street, where they made a mighty bonfire; the curtain being hoisted in the middle of it by way of flag.’ 

There is a want of explanation as to the intentions of this conjurer. The proprietor of the theatre afterwards stated that, in apprehension of failure, he had reserved all the money taken, in order to give it back, and he would have returned it to the audience if they would have stayed their hands from destroying his house. It therefore would appear that either money was not the object aimed at, or, if aimed at, was not attained, by the conjurer. Most probably he only meant to try an experiment on the credulity of the public. 

The bottle hoax proved an excellent subject for the wits, particularly those of the Jacobite party. The following advertisement appeared in the paper called Old England

‘Found, entangled in a slit of a lady’s demolished smock-petticoat, a gilt-handled sword of martial temper and length, not much the worse of wearing, with the Spey curiously engraven on one side, and the Scheld on the other; supposed to be taken from the fat sides of a certain great general in his hasty retreat from the battle of Bottle-noddles in the Haymarket. Whoever has lost it may inquire for it at the sign of the Bird and Singing Lane in Potters’ Row.’1

1  Gentleman’s and Scots Magazines, 1749. Bishop Forbes’s MSS.

On this Day in Other Sources.


Norfolk, however, was so much interested, in the distresses of the Queen of Scots, that he engaged, covertly, in the troubles, and plots, and practices, of the year 1570, and 1571: giving informations, and contributing money, even when invasions, from abroad, were spoken of, for the absolute release of the Scotish Queen. He was, again, committed to the Tower, in September 1571, on much more serious charges. His whole correspondence with the Queen of Scots was, regularly, intercepted. His money, which he had sent to her friends, in Scotland, was detained on the road. His servants were examined. His connections were questioned. His intercourse with foreign agents was discovered. And, he himself confessed much, and denied little. Cecil had now collected, and arranged, such proofs, against Norfolk, as affected his life: So that, on the 16th of January 1572, he was arraigned, on several charges of treason; was tried, by his peers: and making a feeble defence, he was found guilty; and at length on the 2d of June, 1572, suffered the pains of treason. Cecil, after all his circumspection, and his labours, was blamed, by Elizabeth, whose jealousies, were without end, for the execution of Norfolk, who, from his good qualities, had many friends, and much popularity; and now Elizabeth apprehending, from his fate, all the dangers of privy conspiracy, and open insurrection, become extremely offended with Cecil; whose usefulness soon restored him, however, to her favour.”

Life of Mary, p.249.

Articles of the Treaty of Union between Scotland and England,

as ratified at Edinburgh, 16th January, 1707.

Treaty of Union.


The Pretender, James, in his short attempt in 1715, fixed his residence here, and held a council on the 16th of January, 1716, when he issued several proclamations, among which was one for his own coronation upon the 23d of the same month. The approach of the royal army, however, prevented that ceremony taking place.

Scotland Illustrated, pp.11-13.

The second letter is dated from Edinburgh, 16th January, 1761, and runs thus:- 

   “REV. SIR, – I was favoured with your letter inclosing the Gaelic poems, for which I hold myself extremely obliged to you. Duan a Ghairibh is less poetical and more obscure than Teantach mor na Feine. The last is far from being a bad poem, were it complete, and is particularly valuable for the ancient manners it contains. I shall reckon myself much obliged to you for any other pieces you can send me. It is true I have the most of them from other hands, but the misfortune is, that I find none expert in the Irish orthography, so that an obscure poem is rendered doubly so, by their uncouth way of spelling. It would have given me real pleasure to have got your letter before I left the Highlands, as in that case I would have done myself the pleasure of waiting on you; but I do not despair but something may soon cast up that may bring about an interview, as I have some thoughts of making a jaunt to Perthshire. Be that, however, as it will, I shall be always glad of your correspondence; and hope that you will give me all convenient assistance in my present undertaking. 

   “I have been lucky enough to lay my hands on a pretty complete poem, and truly epic, concerning Fingal. The antiquity of it is easily ascertained, and it is not only superior to any thing in that language, but reckoned not inferior to the more polite performances of other nations in that way. I have some thoughts of publishing the original, if it will not clog the work too much. 

   “I shall be always ready to acknowledge the obligation you have laid upon me, and promise I will not be ungrateful for further favours. – It would give me pleasure to know how I can serve you, as I am, &c. 

(Signed)                                                 “JAMES McPHERSON.”  

The districts through which Mr. Macpherson travelled were chiefly the north-western parts of Inverness-shire, the Isle of Skye, and some of the adjoining islands; “places, from their remoteness and state of manners at that period, most likely to afford, in a pure and genuine state, the ancient traditionary tales and poems, of which the recital then formed, as the Committee has before stated, the favourite amusement of the long and idle winter evenings of the Highlanders.”1

– History of the Highlands, pp.36-59.

1  Report of the Committee of the Highland Society. 


There continued to be gardens behind the houses in the Trongate till near the close of the last century. In the Glasgow Journal of 16th January, 1766, there is an advertisement of the sale “in whole or in parcels of the garden at the head of William Anderson’s tenement and close of houses in Trongate;”

Old Glasgow, pp.150-161.


1670. Officer’s Sword. Worn by Sir John Moore (No. 226).

This is the sword worn by Lieut.-General Sir John Moore, K.B., when he was struck by a cannon-ball at the Battle of Corunna, on the 16th of January, 1809. Miss Jane Moore, Cadogan Place, Sloane Street, Chelsea (sister of Sir John Moore), presented it to the late Samuel Tyler, Castle Court, Cheapside, London, and from him it came into the possession of his son-in-law, Robert Stewart McDonald of Harris, in 1866.

Memorial Catalogue, Gallery 3.

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