30th of March

St John Climacus, the Scholastic, abbot of Mount Sinai, 605. St Zozimus, Bishop of Syracuse, 660. St Regulus (or Rieul), Bishop of Senlis.

 

Born. – Sir Henry Wotton, Provost of Eton College, and poetical and prose writer, 1568, Broughton Hall, Kent; Francis Pilatre de Rozier, aëronaut, 1756, Metz.
Died. – Phocion, Athenian general and statesman, B.C. 317; Sebastian de Vauban, military engineer (fortification), 1707, Paris; Dr William Hunter, 1783, Windmill-street, St James’s; James Morier, traveller and novelist, 1849.

 

SIR HENRY WOTTON.

One of Wotton’s acquaintances was Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, and there can be little doubt that Wotton was, some way or another, implicated in the rash plot of that unfortunate nobleman. For when Essex was sent to the Tower, as a step so far on his way to the scaffold, Wotton thought it prudent, ‘very quickly and as privately, to glide through Kent unto Dover,’ and, with the aid of a fishing-boat, to place himself on the shores of France. He soon after reached Florence, where he was taken notice of by Ferdinand de Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, who sent him, under the feigned name of Octavio Baldi, on a secret mission to James VI. of Scotland. The object of this mission had reference to James’s succession to the English throne, and a plot to poison him, said to be entered into by some Jesuits. After remaining three months in Scotland, Wotton returned to Italy, but soon after, hearing of the death of Elizabeth, he waited on the King at London. ‘Ha,’ said James, when he observed him at Court, ‘there is my old friend Signor Octavio Baldi.’ The assembled courtiers, among whom was Wotton’s brother, stared in confusion, none of them being aware of his mission to Scotland. ‘Come forward and kneel, Signor Octavio Baldi,’ said the king; who, on Wotton obeying, gave him the accolade, saying, ‘Arise, Sir Henry Wotton.’ James, as from his character may readily be supposed, highly enjoyed the state of mystification the courtiers were thrown into by the unexpected scene. Immediately after, Wotton received the appointment of ambassador to the city of Venice.

 

THE BORROWED DAYS.

It was on the 30th of March 1639, that the Scottish covenanting army, under the Marquis of Montrose, marched into Aberdeen, in order to put down a reactionary movement for the king and episcopacy which had been raised in that city. The day proved a fine one, and therefore favourable for the march of the troops, a fact which occasioned a thankful surprise in the friends of the Covenant, since it was one of the Borrowed Days, which usually are ill. One of their clergy alluded to this in the pulpit, as a miraculous dispensation of Providence in favour of the good cause.

The Borrowed Days are the three last of March. The popular notion is, that they were borrowed by March from April, with a view to the destruction of a parcel of unoffending young sheep – a purpose, however, in which March was not successful. The whole affair is conveyed in a rhyme thus given at the firesides of the Scottish peasantry:-

‘March said to Aperill, 
 I see three hoggs upon a hill, 
 And if you’ll lend me dayes three, 
 I’ll find a way to make them dee. 
 The first o’ them was wind and weet, 
 The second o’ them was snaw and sleet, 
 The third o’ them was sic a freeze, 
 It froze the birds’ nebs to the trees: 
 When the three days were past and gane, 
 The three silly hoggs came hirpling hame.’ 

Sir Thomas Browne, in his Vulgar Errors, alludes to this popular fiction, remarking, ‘It is usual to ascribe unto March certain Borrowed Daies from April.’ But it is of much greater antiquity than the time of Browne. In the curious book entitled the Complaynt of Scotland, printed in 1548, occurs the following passage:- ‘There eftir i entrit in ane grene forest, to contempill the tender yong frutes of grene treis, becaus the borial blastis of the thre borouing dais of Marche hed chaissit fragrant flureise of evyrie frut-tree far athourt the fieldis.’ Nor is this all, for there is an ancient calendar of the church of Rome often quoted by Brand, in which allusion is made to ‘the rustic fable concerning the nature of the month [March]; the rustic names of six days which shall follow in April, or may be last in March.’

No one has yet pretended fully to explain the origin or meaning of this fable. Most probably, in our opinion, it has taken its rise in the observation of a certain character of weather prevailing about the close of March, somewhat different from what the season justifies one of those many wintry relapses which belong to the nature of a British spring. this idea we deem to be supported by Mrs. Grant’s account of a similar superstition in the Highlands:- ‘The Faoilteach, or those first days of February, serve many poetical purposes in the Highlands. They are said to have been borrowed for some purpose by February from January, who was bribed by February with three young sheep. These three days, by Highland reckoning, occur between the 11th and 15th of February; and it is accounted a most favourable prognostic for the ensuing year that they should be as stormy as possible. If these days should be fair, then there is no more good weather to be expected through the spring. Hence the Faoilteach is used to signify the very ultimatum of bad weather.’ – Superstitions of the Highlanders, ii. 217.

 

On this Day in Other Sources.

 

Darnley, following the Queen to Stirling, was taken with the measles, which hung about him till the 30th [March, 1565], when the Queen’s solicitude, about his health, was observed by malignant eyes. 

– Life of Mary, pp.98-126.

 

Mar. 30 [1625.] – The news of the death of King James – which occurred on the 27th of March – reached Edinburgh on the 30th at the outbreak of a storm of extraordinary violence which raged along the whole coast, destroying much shipping and throwing down several harbours. ‘The water raise above the harbour of Leith, and ran into the houses of the town; yea, the boats and barks within the same floated so above the shore, that some of them were cast away upon the sides of the houses; and great ships therein could not be keepit, with all their anchors and cables, from doing great skaith, ilk ane to ane other, whereof the like was never heard tell of in our days.’ – Jo. Hist

– Domestic Annals, pp.177-227.

 

4. WILLIAM HUNTER, M.D., of Long Calderwood, Lanarkshire.

Born at Long Calderwood, 23rd May, 1718; died in London, 30th March, 1783. 

Physician and Surgeon. One of the most eminent teachers of anatomy of the last century; author of several celebrated works. Studied in Glasgow University, from 1731 to 1736; settled in London in 1741 as assistant to Dr. James Douglas, whom he shortly afterwards succeeded; and became physician to Queen Charlotte. Was the instructor, in anatomy, of his brother, John Hunter. By his will, of date 23rd July, 1781, he left the ultimate possession of his extensive and valuable museum and library, with a considerable sum of money, to the University of Glasgow. The collection was conveyed to Glasgow in 1807, and now, with many additions, constitutes the Hunterian Museum.

– Memorial Catalogue, Gallery 1.

 

In July, 1753, the last of those who were tried for loyalty to the House of Stuart was placed in the Castle – Archibald Macdonald, son of the aged Cole Macdonald of Barrisdale, who died a captive there in 1750. Arraigned as a traitor, this unfortunate gentleman behaved with great dignity before the court; he admitted that he was the person accused, but boldly denied the treason, and asserted his loyalty to his lawful king. “On the 30th March he was condemned to die; but the vengeance of the Government had already been glutted, and after receiving various successive reprieves, young Barrisdale was released, and permitted to return to the Western Isles.” 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.66-79.

 

Soon after receipt of Earl Gower’s letter, it would appear that a copy of the petition, with his Lordship’s answer, had been transmitted to the sheriff-depute by the tenants. Mr. Cranstoun, in answer, upon 30th March [1815], says, “that if the tenants mean to take a precognition immediately, it will proceed before the sheriff-substitute, as my engagement will not permit me to be in Sutherland until the month of July.”  

In consequence of these proceedings, on an express injunction from his Majesty’s advocate-depute, and a similar one from the sheriff-depute, I was compelled to enter upon an investigation of the complaints.  

With this view I was induced to go into Strathnaver, where, at considerable personal inconvenience and expense, and with much patient perseverance, I examined about forty evidences upon the allegations stated in the tenants’ petition; and it is with the deepest regret I have to inform your Lordship, that a more numerous catalogue of crimes, perpetrated by an individual, has seldom disgraced any country, or sullied the pages of a precognition in Scotland. 

– Gloomy Memories, pp.10-12.

 

Angus having got notice of the rev. gentleman’s designs, had a memorial drawn up and presented to her Grace the late Duchess, who, in answer, gave orders to the factor to the effect that, if Angus Campbell was to be removed for the convenience of Mr. McKenzie, he should be provided with another lot of land equally as good as the one he possessed. But, like all the other good promised by her Grace, this was disregarded as soon as she turned her back; the process of removal was carried on, and to punish Angus for having applied to her, he was dealt with in the following manner, as stated in a memorial to his Grace the present Duke, dated 30th March, 1840.

In his absence, a messenger-at-arms with a party, came from Dornoch to his house, and ejected his wife and family; and having flung out their effects, locked the doors of the dwelling house, offices, &c., and carried the keys to the safe keeping of the rev. Mr. McKenzie, for his own behoof. These proceedings were a sufficient warning to all neighbours not to afford shelter or relief to the victims; hence the poor woman had to wander about, sheltering her family as well as she could in severe weather, till her husband’s arrival. When Angus came home, he had recourse to an expedient which annoyed his reverence very much; he erected a booth on his own ground in the church-yard and on the tomb of his father, and in this solitary abode he kindled a fire, endeavouring to shelter and comfort his distressed family, and showing a determination to remain, notwithstanding the wrath and threatenings of the minister and factors. But as they did not think it prudent to expel him thence by force, they thought of a stratagem which succeeded. They spoke him fair, and agreed to allow him to resume his former possession, if he would pay the expenses (£4 13s) incurred in ejecting him. The poor man consented, but no sooner had he paid the money than he was turned out again, and good care taken this time to keep him out of the church-yard. He had then to betake himself to the open fields, where he remained with his family, till his wife was seized with an alarming trouble, when some charitable friend at last ventured to afford him a temporary covering; but no distress could soften the heart of his reverence, so as to make him relent. 

– Gloomy Memories, pp.67-70.

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