2nd of April

St Apian, of Lycia, martyr, 306. St Theodosia, of Cæsarea, martyr, 308. St Nicetius, archbishop of Lyons, 577. St Ebba, or Abba, abbess, martyr, 874. B. Constantine, King of Scotland, 874. St Bronacha, of Ireland. St Francis of Paula, founder of the order of Minims, 1508.

 

Born. – C. N. Oudinot, Marshal of France, Duke of Reggio, 1767, Bar-sur-Ornain
Died. – Jean Barth, French naval commander, 1702; Comte de Mirabeau, 1791, Paris; Dr James Gregory, professor of medicine, author of ‘Conspectus Medicinæ,’ 1821, Edinburgh.

 

A GROUP OF OLD LADIES.

Died at Edinburgh, on the 2nd of April 1856, Miss Elizabeth Gray, at the age of 108, having been born in May 1748. That cases of extraordinary longevity are seldom supported by clear documentary evidence has been very justly alleged; it has indeed been set forth that we scarcely have complete evidence for a single example of the centenarian. In this case, however, there was certainly no room for doubt. Miss Gray had been known all her life as a member of the upper circle of society in the Scottish metropolis, and her identity with the individual Elizabeth Gray, the daughter of William Gray, of Newholm, writer in Edinburgh, whose birth is chronicled in the register of her father’s parish of Dolphington, in Lanarkshire, as having occurred in May 1748, is beyond dispute in the society to which the venerable lady belonged. It may be remarked that she was a very cheerful person, and kept up her old love of whist till past the five score. Her mother attained ninety-six, and two of her sisters died at ninety-four and ninety-six respectively. She had, however, survived her father upwards of a hundred years, for he died in 1755; nay, a more remarkable thing than even this was to be told of Betty Gray – a brother of hers (strictly a half-brother) had died so long ago as 1728. A faded marble slab in the wall of Dolphington Kirk, which records the decease of this child – for such he was – must have been viewed with strange feelings, when, a hundred and twenty-eight years later, the age-worn sister was laid in the same spot. 

Little more than two years after the death of Miss Gray, there died in Scotland another centenarian lady, about whose age there could be no ground for doubt, as she had lived in the eye of intelligent society all her days. This person was the Hon. Mrs Hay Mackenzie, of Cromartie. She died in October 1858, at the age of 103; she was grandmother to the Duchess of Sutherland; her father was the sixth Lord Elibank, brother and successor of Lord Patrick, who entertained Johnson in Edinburgh;; her maternal grandfather was that unfortunate Earl of Cromartie who so narrowly escaped accompanying Kilmarnock and Balmerino to the scaffold in 1746. She was a most benevolent woman – a large giver – and enjoyed universal esteem. Her conversation made the events of the first half of the eighteenth century pass as vividly before the mind as those of the present day. It was remarked as a curious circumstance, that of Dunrobin Castle, the place where her grandfather was taken prisoner as a rebel, her granddaughter became mistress. 

The well knwon Countess Dowager of Cork, who died in May 1840, had not reached a hundred – she had but just completed her ninety-fourth year – but she realized the typical character of a veteran lady who, to the appearance, was little affected by age. Till within a few days of her death she was healthy and cheerful as in those youthful days when she charmed Johnson and Boswell, the latter of whom was only six years her senior. She was in the custom to the last of dining out every day when she had not company at home. As to death, she always said she was ready for him, come when he might; but she did not like to see him coming. Lady Cork was daughter of the first Lord Galway, and she lived to see the sixth, her great grand-nephew.

 

DR GREGORY AND THE MODERATE MAN.

Dr James Gregory, Professor of the Practice of Physic in the University of Edinburgh, was a man of vigorous talents and great professional eminence. He was what is called a starving doctor, and, not long after his death, the following anecdote was put in print, equally illustrative of this part of the learned professor’s character, and of the habits of life formerly attributed to a wealthy western city: 

SCENE – Doctor’s Study. Enter a grave-looking Glasgow Merchant
 Patient. – Good morning, doctor; I’m just come to Edinburgh about some law business, and I thought, when I was here at any rate, I might just as weel tak your advice, sir, anent my trouble. 
 Doctor. – And pray what may your trouble be, my good sir? 
P. – ‘Deed, doctor, I’m no very sure; but I’m thinking it’s a kind of weakness that makes me dizzy at times, and a kind of pinkling about my stomach – I’m just no
 Dr. – You’re from the west country, I should suppose, sir? 
P. – Yes, sir, from Glasgow.
 Dr. – Ay. Pray, sir, are you a gourmand – a glutton? 
P. – God forbid, sir! I’m one of the plainest men living in all the west country.
 Dr. – Then, perhaps, you’re a drunkard? 
P. – No, doctor; thank God, no one can accuse me of that: I’m of the Dissenting persuasion, doctor, and an elder; so ye may suppose I’m nae drunkard.
 Dr. – (Aside – I’ll suppose no such thing, till you tell me your mode of life.) I’m so much puzzled with your symptoms, sir, that I should wish to hear in detail what you eat and drink. When do you breakfast, and what do you take to it? 
P. – I breakfast at nine o’clock. I tak a cup of coffee, and one or two cups of tea; a couple of eggs, and a bit of ham or kipper’d salmon, or may be both, if they’re good, and two or three rolls and butter.
 Dr. – Do you eat no honey, or jelly, or jam, to breakfast? 
P. – O yes, sir; but I don’t count that as anything.
 Dr. – Come, this is a very moderate breakfast. What kind of dinner do you make? 
P. – Oh, sir, I eat a very plain dinner indeed. Some soup, and some fish, and a little plain roast or boiled; for I dinna care for made dishes; I think, some way, they never satisfy the appetite.
 Dr. – You take a little pudding, then, and afterwards some cheese? 
P. – Oh Yes; though I don’t care much about them.
 Dr. – You take a glass of ale or porter with your cheese? 
P. – Yes, one or the other, but seldom both.
 Dr. – You west country people generally take a glass of Highland whisky after dinner? 
P. – Yes, we do; it’s good for digestion.
 Dr. – Do you take any wine during dinner? 
P. – Yes, a glass or two of sherry; but I’m indifferent as to wine during dinner. I drink a good deal of beer.
 Dr. – What quantity of port do you drink? 
P. – Oh, very little; not above half a dozen glasses or so.
 Dr. – In the west country, it is impossible, I hear, to dine without punch? 
P. – Yes, sir; indeed ’tis punch we drink chiefly; but, for myself, unless I happen to have a friend with me, I never tak more than a couple of tumblers or so, – and that’s moderate.
 Dr. – Oh, exceedingly moderate, indeed! You then, after this slight repast, take some tea, and bread and butter? 
P. – Yes, before I go to the counting-house to read the evening letters.
 Dr. – And, on your return, you take supper, I suppose? 
P. – No, sir, I canna be said to tak supper; just something before going to bed: a rizzer’d haddock, or a bit of toasted cheese, or half a hundred oysters, or the like o’ that; and, may be, two-thirds of a bottle of ale; but I tak no regular supper.
 Dr. – But you take a little more punch after that? 
P. – No, sir; punch does not agree with me at bed-time I tak a tumbler of warm whisky toddy at night; it’s lighter to sleep on.
 Dr. – So it must be, no doubt. This, you say, is your every-day life; but, upon great occasions, you perhaps exceed a little? 
P. – No sir, except when a friend or two dine with me, or I dine out, which, as I am a sober family man, does not often happen.
 Dr. – Not above twice a-week? 
P. – No; not oftener.
 Dr. – Of course you sleep well, and have a good appetite? 
P. – Yes, sir, thank God, I have; indeed, any wee harl o’ health that I hae is about mealtime.
 Dr. – (Assuming a severe look, knitting his brows, and lowering his eyebrows.) Now, sir, you are a very pretty fellow, indeed; you come here and tell me that you are a moderate man, and I might have believed you, did I not know the nature of the people in your part of the country; but, upon examination, I find, by your own shewing, that you are a most voracious glutton: you breakfast in the morning in a style that would serve a moderate man for dinner; and, from five o’clock in the afternoon, you undergo one almost uninterrupted loading of your stomach till you go to bed. This is your moderation! You told me, too, another falsehood – you said you were a sober man; yet, by your own shewing, you are a beer swiller, a dram-drinker, a wine-bibber, and a guzzler of Glasgow punch, – a liquor, the name of which is associated, in my mind, only with the ideas of low company and beastly intoxication. You tell me you eat indigestible suppers, and swill toddy to force sleep – I see that you chew tobacco. Now, sir, what human stomach can stand this? Go home, sir, and leave off your present course of riotous living – take some dry toast and tea to your breakfast – some plain meat and soup for dinner, without adding to it anything to spur on your flagging appetite; you may take a cup of tea in the evening, but never let me hear of haddocks and toasted cheese, and oysters, with their accompaniments of ale and toddy at night; give up chewing that vile narcotic, nauseous abomination, and there are some hopes that your stomach may recover its tone, and you be in good health like your neighbours. 
P. – I’m sure, doctor, I’m very much obliged to you – (taking out a bunch of bank-notes) – I shall endeavour to –
 Dr. – Sir, you are not obliged to me – put up your money, sir. Do you think I’ll take a fee from you for telling you what you knew as well as myself? Though you are no physician, sir, you are not altogether a fool. You have read your Bible, and must know that drunkenness and gluttony are both sinful and dangerous; and, whatever you may think, you have this day confessed to me that you are a notorious glutton and drunkard. Go home, sir, and reform, or, take my word for it, your life is not worth half a year’s purchase. 
 [Exit Patient, dumbfounded, and looking blue.]
 Dr. – (Solus.) Sober and temperate! Dr Watt tried to live in Glasgow, and make his patients live moderately, and purged and bled them when they were sick; but it would not do. Let the Glasgow doctors prescribe beefsteaks and rum punch, and their fortune is made.*

 

*  If it seems strange for a Scottish writer to be seemingly naysaying another Scottish city here, bear in mind Chambers writes for an English audience. Hence the lack of something Scottish for every day, his insistence on calling James VI. the I., &c. Another hint to this is where the Dr. asks, “You’re from the west country…?”, I’ve never come across this terminology, in my experience or readings, in relation to Scotland. West country is indicative of those areas to the west of England. 

 

On this Day in Other Sources.

 

We have little information of the early history of the burgh of Arbroath. With such protection for shipping as its natural harbour afforded, it had grown up under the shelter and protection of the great monastery, from a fishing hamlet, till it became a place of some foreign trade in the fourteenth century. The worth Abbot John Gedy, saw the advantage that would arise to his town and the whole district, if, on that inhospitable coast, he could transform the creek among treacherous rocks into a tolerably safe harbour; and the covenant made between the Abbot and the burgesses for that object, on the 2d of April 1394, as it is the oldest, is also perhaps the most curious and interesting of the records of harbour-making and also of voluntary taxation in Scotland.1

– Sketches, pp.144-172. 

1  The indenture sets forth the innumerable losses and vexations long and still suffered, for want of a port where traders, with their ships and merchandise, might land. On the one part it is agreed, that the Abbot and convent shall, with all possible haste, at their expense, make and maintain, in the best situation according to the judgment of men of skill, a safe harbour (portum salutarem) for the burgh, to which and in which ships may come and lie, and have quiet and safe mooring, notwithstanding the ebb and flow of tides. The burgesses, on the other hand, are to clear the space fixed on from sand and stones and all other impediments; to fill with stones and place the coffers (archas) required for the harbour, under the direction of the masters of the work; to find certain tools necessary for that purpose, namely, spades, iron pinches, and tribulos (?), at their own expense; the other instruments to be found by the Abbey. And because, in the foundation of the harbour, much labour and expense are required, more than the burgesses could bear, the burgesses shall pay to the Abbot yearly, three pennies of sterlings from each rood of land within the burgh, in addition to the three pennies now paid, – the additional rent beginning the first year that one ship can safely take the harbour, and there have safe berth, notwithstanding the ebb and flow of the sea. If it should happen, as God forbid, that the harbour in process of time fail, by negligence of the Abbot and convent, or any accident, the payment of the three pennies shall cease till the harbour be repaired.

 

The second of April, this year [1547], Francis, the first of that name, King of France, departs this life; and to him succeeds his son Henry, who immediately after his accession to the crown, sends Monsieur [Henri Cleutin] D’Oysel, his ambassador to Scotland, for renewing [of] the ancient league [between] the two crowns, which he performed. 

– Historical Works, pp.275-340.

 

Apr. 2 [1600.] – ‘… being the Sabbath-day, Robert Auchmuty, barber, slew James Wauchope at the combat in St Leonard’s Hill, and upon the 23d, the said Robert [was] put in ward in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh. In the meantime of his being in ward, he hang ane cloak without the window of the iron house, and another within the window there, and, saying that he was sick, and might not see the light, he had aquafortis continually seething at the iron window, while [till] at the last the iron window was eaten through. Sae, upon a morning, he causit his prentice-boy attend when the town-guard should have dissolvit, at whilk time the boy waited on, and gave his master ane token that the said guard were gone, by the show or wave of his handcurch. The said Robert hung out ane tow whereon he thought to have come down. The said guard spied the wave of the handcurch, and sae the said Robert was disappointit of his intention and device; and sae, on the 10 day, he was beheadit at the cross, upon ane scaffold.’ – Bir

– Domestic Annals, pp.124-176.

 

In his “Diary,” Birrel records that on the 2nd April, 1600, “being the Sabbath-day, Robert Achmuty, barber, slew James Wauchope at the combat in St. Leonard’s Hill, and upon the 23rd the said Robert was put in ward in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh. In the meantime of his being in ward, he hung ane cloak without the window there, and saying that he was sick, and might not see the light, he had acquafortis* continually seething at the iron window, while (till) at last the iron was eaten through.” Then, one morning, he desired his apprentice-boy to watch when the town guard should be dismissed, and to give him a sign thereof by waving his handkerchief. This was done, and tying “ane tow,” or rope, to the window, he was about to lower himself into the street; but the guard “spied the wave of the handcurch, and sae the said Robert was disappointit of his intention and device.” 

Old and New Edinburgh, pp.382-384.

 

_20180325_045859

1600. Regimental Order issued by Samuel Hunter to the Glasgow Sharpshooters, Sunday, 2nd April, 1820, on the eve of the expected “Radical Rising.”

– Memorial Catalogue, Gallery 3.

 

From an incidental notice in one of the council minutes we learn the interesting fact that the magistrates of Glasgow, like some of the rulers in eastern cities in Scripture times, were in the custom of standing in the public street, near the cross, to hear the suits of the citizens and to dispense summary justice. On one of these occasions a person, described as a merchant burgess, addressed the provost in disrespectful and abusive terms – the crime being aggravated by the fact that some distinguished strangers were standing by. The whole scene is so curious, and it is so graphically described in the record, that I need make no apology for transcribing it: “2 April 1678 The quhilk day the Baillies and Counsell being conveined anent the complent given in befor them by John Grahame Procurator Fiscall of this burgh against Thomas Crawforde, merchand burges thereof, makand mention that upon yesterday the 1st of April instant James Campbell present Proveist of the said burgh with sundrie utheris, the Magistratis and uthir burgessis, being standing on the plaine stones beneth the tolbuith, the place ordinarie for the Magistratis ther waiting and attending to heir the Complents and grievances of the burgesses and uthirs, and to give them justice incumbent to their office accordingly; And at that tyme being about thrie houris in the afternoone, several persones of qualitie and strangers war standing besyd, the sid Thomas Crawforde in ane arrogant and prowd maner, without consideratioune or respect that he, as a burges of this burgh, oweth to his Magistratis to whom he is sworne be his burges oath to give them all dew obedience, most contrair therto, in a furious way come to the said James Campbell Proveist, and there fell in questioning him about sundrie things, and did challing him therupone; and the Proveist having desyred him severall tymes to desist because of the straingers, onlookers and marvelling at the Proveists patience, and the miscarriadge of the said Thomas, Trew it is the said Thomas wold nowayes decist but said in a disdainful way to the Proveist that he knew his malice and wold byd the butt of it &c.” The fiscal accordingly craved the council “to wnlaw and fyne him, and to rive and destroy his burges and gild brother ticket, and to cry down his fredome;” and this is ordered to be done. 

– Old Glasgow, pp.215-237.

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