St Anthimus, bishop, and other martyrs at Nicomedia, 303. St Anastasius, pope and confessor, 401. St Zita, virgin, of Lucca, 1272.
Born. – Maria Christina, consort of Ferdinand VII., of Spain, 1806, Naples.
Died. – Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, 1404, Hall in Hainault; John James Ankerström, regicide, executed 1792, Stockholm; James Bruce, traveller in Africa, 1794, Kinnaird, Stirlingshire.
BRUCE THE TRAVELLER.
Amongst the noted men of the eighteenth century, [James] Bruce stands out very clearly distinguished to us by his dignified energy and perseverance as a traveller in barbarous lands. Of imposing person (six feet four), of gentlemanly birth and position accomplished in mind, possessed of indomitable courage, self-reliance, and sagacity, powerful, calm, taciturn, he was quite the kind of man to press his way through the deserts of Abyssinia, Nubia, and Ethiopia, and bring back accounts of them. On 14th November 1770, he reached the source of the Abawi, then considered the main stream of the Nile; the accomplishment of the chief object of his journey filling him with the greatest exultation. He was altogether twelve years absent from his country, engaged in these remarkable travels.
When at length, after great labour and care, he published his travels in five quartos, with an additional volume of illustrations, a torrent of sceptical derision in a great measure drowned the voice of judicious praise which was their due. We must say the public appears to us to have shown remarkable narrow-mindedness and ignorance on this occasion. How foolish, for instance, to object to the story of the people under an obligation to live on lion’s flesh for the purpose of keeping down the breed of that race, that the converse case, the devouring of man by the lion, had alone been heretofore known. There was nothing physically impossible in man’s eating lion’s flesh. If it were practicable to save the country from a dangerous animal by putting a premium upon its destruction, why should not the plan have been resorted to? Equally absurd was it to deny that there could be a people so barbarous as to cut steaks from the living animal. Why, in the northern parts of Mr Bruce’s own country, it was at that very time customary for the people to bleed their cattle, for the sake of a little sustenance to themselves, in times of dearth. It was creditable to George III., that he always stood up for the veracity of Bruce, while men who thought themselves better judges, denounced him as a fabulist.
The end of Bruce was striking. While enjoying the evening of his laborious life in his mansion of Kinnaird, on the Carse of Falkirk, he had occasion one night to hand a lady to her carriage. His foot slipped on the stair, and he fell on his head. Taken up speechless, he expired that night, at the age of sixty-four.
On this Day in Other Sources.
On 26th April, 1532, “John Wallas and Alleson Gayne, his spous, ar rentalit in ane merk of ferme land of the Kowcaldens, be consent of Jhon Gayne, his gud fadyr, the said Jhon brokand (i.e., enjoying or retaining the use) for his tym.”1
– Scots Lore, pp.397-399.
1 Ibid. p. 100.
“Mark Kar” is found among the lords and barons who subscribed the “contract to defend the liberty of the evangell of Christ” at Edinburgh on the 27th day of April 1560.
– Sketches, pp.125-144.
One offence, with a rather startling designation, with which the presbytery appears to have had repeatedly to deal, was what is called in their records “smooring bairns” – that is, smothering children. For example: “three women parochinaris of Cadder accusit of smooring thair bairnis in the nicht are referrit to the Session of Cadder to be tryit thair;” and there are many other examples. The delinquents are chiefly women, but on some occasions the man appears and is “rebuked for being art and part in smooring the bairn.” Some have supposed that these were cases of deliberate smothering – in plain words, child murder – but this was not so. they were merely cases where the child had lost its life through the carelessness or intemperate habits of the parent. The lightness of the punishment awarded, indeed, shows this. An early entry in the records bears that the presbytery “advises and resolves that smoorers of bairns mak thair repentance two sondayes in sekcleith standing at the Kirk door.”1
– Old Glasgow, pp.189-215.
1 27th April, 1592.
The 27th of April , James Wood, eldest son to [Patrick Wood] the Laird of Bonnyton, in Angusshire, was beheaded at the cross of Edinburgh, for breaking open the gates of the house of Bonnyton, and taking [from there] his father’s charter [chest].
– Historical Works, pp.340-416.
April 27 . – ‘… Archibald Cornwall, town-officer, hangit at the cross, and hung on the gibbet twenty-four hours; and the cause wherefore he was hangit – He being an unmerciful greedy creature, he poindit the king and queen’s pictures; and when he came to the cross to comprise the same, he hung them up upon twa nails on the same gallows to be comprisit; and they being seen, word gaed to the king and queen, whereupon he was apprehendit and hangit.’ – Bir.
– Domestic Annals, pp.124-176.
The press served higher purposes also, and we not only owe to Raban’s types the first editions of Arthur Johnston’s Latin Poetry, but to him and his successors we are indebted for a large mass of Academic literature, which must have been lost without them, and which furnishes the best materials (after the proper archives) of University history.1
– Sketches, pp.254-324.