19th of August

Saints Timothy, Agapius, and Thecla, martyrs, 304. St Mochteus, bishop and confessor, 535. St Cumin, bishop in Ireland, 7th century. St Lewis, bishop of Toulouse, confessor, 1297.

Born. – Elizabeth Stuart, Electress-Palatine of the Rhine, queen of Bohemia, daughter of James VI. of Scotland, 1596; Gerbrant Vander Eeckhout, painter, 1621, Amsterdam; Francis I., king of the Two Sicilies, 1777; James Nasmyth, engineer, 1808, Edinburgh.
Died. – Octavius Cæsar Augustus, first Roman emperor, 14 A.D., Nola; Blaise Pascal, author of the Provincial Letters, 1662, Paris; John Eudes, priest, founder of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, 1680, Caen; Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, practical philosopher, 18124, Auteuil; Sir Martin A. Shee, president of Royal Academy, 1850, Brighton; Honoré de Balzac, French novelist, 1850, Paris.


Happiness such as rarely falls to the lot of crowned heads, might have been the portion of this lovely and interesting woman, had not a foolish ambition of being called a queen blighted in a moment the whole tenor of her life. The eldest child of James VI. of Scotland, she was born at the palace of Falkland, and when baptized, had for a sponsor the city of Edinburgh, in the proxies of its provost and bailies, who stoutly held to their right of seeing the princess brought up in the Protestant faith. When her father departed, in 1603, to take possession of the British throne, he left his consort and young family to follow him; and their progress through the counties was marked by festivals and pageants nearly as grand as those which had signalised the king’s own progress. After a short stay at Windsor, it was deemed necessary that the little princess should be withdrawn from her father’s palace and placed under the superintendence of Lord and Lady Harrington, at Combe Abbey very pleasant is the picture of the life led at this lovely spot, where beautiful gardens, aviaries, park, and river, charmed the eyes of those who had been accustomed to the wild, desolate Scottish scenery. Many noble young ladies were sent to share in the education of Elizabeth, which seems to have been admirably conducted by Lord Harrington: a sincere Christian and learned man, he strove to instruct his pupil more thoroughly in life and its duties, than in mere outside show, and but for the lavish expenditure, arising from her generosity, which he could not subdue, we may say that he succeeded well.

At the age of fifteen, the young princess was removed to London, and proposals of marriage came from all the countries in Europe. France and Spain drew back, on the ground of religious differences, and at length Frederick V., Elector palatine, was the accepted suitor, who, though snubbed by the queen for his want of a kingly title, was yet the first in rank of the German princes, ruling those wide and fertile Rhenish Provinces which now form so valuable a part of the Prussian dominions. His reception in October 1612 was of a most joyous kind; water-processions, tiltings, masques, and feasts filled up the days, until the sad death of Prince Henry threw the royal family into mourning. He and his sister had always been strongly attached, and his last words were for her. The opportunity was, however, given for her lover to offer his best consolations, and the deep attachment formed at this period was never abated during the many trials of their married life. St Valentine’s Day was appropriately chosen for the marriage-ceremony; the first royal one that had ever been performed according to the liturgy of the Church of England. James’s vanity induced him to load himself on this joyous occasion with six hundred thousand pounds worth of jewels, and the bride’s white satin dress was embroidered with pearls and gems, and her coronet set in pinnacles of diamonds and pearls. Having taken a sad farewell of her parents, whom she was never to see again, she sailed to Flushing, and proceeded on a sort of triumphal march through Holland and Germany, arriving at her beautiful palace of Heidelberg amidst arches of flowers and hearty welcomes from her subjects. Frederick lifted her over the threshold in his arms, according to old German custom, and introduced her to his mother and relatives in rooms furnished with solid silver. The great tun of wine stood on the terrace, and was twice drunk dry by the scholars, soldiers, and citizens, who dined in the meadows beneath, by the banks of the Neckar. For six years this happy couple reigned in equal prosperity and popularity; three lovely children rejoiced their parents’ hearts; when the Bohemians, roused to insurrection by the oppression of the emperor of Germany, offered their crown to Frederick.

Very thankful would the Elector have been to decline such a desperate venture as that of matching his strength with the Imperial forces: but Elizabeth urged him on with the question, ‘Why he had married a king’s daughter, if he dreaded being a king?’ The stadtholder, Maurice, was on her side of the question; while the Electress-Dowager supported her son. Maurice one day abruptly asked the Electress-Dowager: ‘If there were any green baize to be got in Heidelberg?’ ‘Yes, surely,’ answered she; ‘but what for, Maurice?’ ‘To make a fool’s cap for him who might be a king and will not!’ was the reply of Maurice. Thus overcome, Frederick signed the acceptance of the ancient crown of Bohemia, and in October he and his family made a ceremonial entry into the old city of Prague, where Taborites, Hussites, Lutherans, and Catholics were soon at daggers-drawing with each other and their chosen sovereign. The Spanish army immediately seized on Heidelberg and the Palatinate, whilst the Duke of Bavaria’s cannon boomed over the Weissenberg, and his soldiers descended on Prague. The unfortunate king assisted his wife into the carriage in which she had to fly for her life, saying: ‘Now I know what I am. We princes seldom hear the truth until we are taught it by adversity.’ The Catholics broke out into songs of exultation. Mr Floyd, a member of parliament in Britain, was expelled from the House, branded, and flogged, for repeating a squib, ‘that the king’s daughter fled from Prague like an Irish beggar-woman with her babe at her back.’ Placards were fixed on the walls of Brussels, offering a reward for ‘a king run-away a few days since, of adolescent age, sanguine colour, middle height, a cast in one of his eyes, no moustache, only down on his lip, not badly disposed when a stolen kingdom did not lie in his way – his name, Frederick.’ Henceforth this royal pair, with their large family of little princes and princesses, were only indebted to charity for a home.

By the kindness of the States-General, Elizabeth found refuge at the Hague. She maintained a brave heart, indulged in her favourite sport of hunting, and seemed to suffer little from the difficulties and privations incidental to a life of penury. Her dejected husband was generally with the armies which were desolating Germany during the fearful Thiry Years’ War, until death carried him away in 1632, at a distance from his loving wife, in the castle of Mentz: sorrow at witnessing the miseries of his people broke his heart when but thirty-six years of age. The sad tidings were wholly unexpected by his poor widow, and for three days she was unable to speak; her brother, Charles I., shewed her great sympathy and kindness, allowing her £20,000 a year, and begging her to come to him This she declined; but her two elder sons, Prince Charles and Rupert, spent much time at the British court, until the former was once more settled in a part of the Palatinate.

Elizabeth occupied herself with the education of her daughters and younger sons, until the troubles began in Britain, when two of her sons, including ‘the fiery Rupert,’ joined their unfortunate uncle. The close of the struggle with the death of Charles, threw the Electress at once into deep grief, and something like want, for her British pension necessarily ceased. Her court, nevertheless, became a refuge for the persecuted loyalists, whilst her kind, affectionate temper, made her friends among all sects and parties. Louisa, one of her daughters, shewed such talent for painting, that her pictures were often disposed of to assist the needy household; this clever woman afterwards became a nun at Chaillot, much to her mother’s sorrow.

The restoration in 1660, brought a last ray of hope to the sorrowful life of Elizabeth. She longed to see her native country one more; and when her nephew, the king, declared his inability to bear the expense of a state-visit, she determined to come incognito, to her generous friend, Lord Craven, who offered her his house in Drury Lane. We soon hear of her entering into the gaieties of London, and being the first lady of the court; £12,000 a year was settled upon her, and happiness seemed in store; but in less than a year after her arrival, inflammation of the lungs attacked her, and she died on the eve of St Valentine’s Day, just forty-nine years after she had been made a happy bride, and was buried at Westminster Abbey, with a torchlight procession on the Thames. Of her seven sons, not one left a grandson; and it was through her youngest daughter, Sophia, that the present royal family came to the British throne.


The curious little instruments here figured are of extreme rarity, and probably not many of our readers have ever heard of, much less seen, any examples of them. The name, ‘Scratch-back,’ is not very euphonious, but it is remarkably expressive, and conveys a correct notion of the use of the curious little instrument to which it belongs. The ‘scratch-back’ was literally, as its name implies, formed for the purposes of scratching the backs of out fair and stately great and great-great-grand-mothers, and their ancestresses; and very choicely set and carved some of them assuredly were. Sometimes the handles were of silver elegantly chased, and we have seen one example where a ring on the finger of the hand was set with brilliants. But few of these relics have passed down to our times, and even in instances where they are preserved, their original use has been forgotten. At one time, scratch-backs were almost as indispensable an accompaniment to a lady of quality as her fan and her patch-box. They were kept in her toilet, and carried with her even to her box at the play.


The first one, engraved on the accompanying illustration, is twelve inches in length. At the upper end is an ivory knob, with a hole, through which a cord could be passed for suspension to the waist, or for hanging in the dressing-room. The handle or shaft is mottled, and the practical end, or scratcher, is a beautifully carved hand of ivory. the fingers are placed in the proper position for the operation, and would lead one to believe that the carver must have studied pretty closely from nature. The finger-nails are particularly sharp and well formed, and designed to scratch in the most approved fashion. This seems to have been the most favourite form for this strange instrument, of which form I have seen three examples.

The second example in our engraving is of about the same length as the one just described. This instrument is made entirely of horn, one end being pierced for suspension, and the other formed into three teeth or claws, sharp at the ends and bent forward. It is particularly simple in construction, but evidently would be as effective as the more artistic and elaborate example just described.

The third specimen which I give is, like the first, partly of ivory, and beautifully carved. The stick or shaft is of tortoise-shell, and it has a little silver ring at the top, and a rim of silver to cover the junction of the tortoise-shell and ivory. The scratcher is formed like the foot of a bird, with the claws set, and, of course, made very sharp at the points. The foot is beautifully carved, and remarkably well formed; and the instrument must have been one of the best of its class. On the under-side of the foot of this example are the initials of its fair owner, A. W., cut into the ivory.

It would add to the interest of this little notice could we tell out readers to whom these precious little relics had belonged, and whose fair backs they had scratched; but this we cannot do. All we can do it, to give them representations of these curious instruments, explain their uses, describe their construction, and heartily congratulate our fair friends on their not being required in our day. In former times, when personal cleanliness was not considered essential, when the style of dress worn was anything but conducive to comfort and ease – for it must be remembered that, in the last century, ladies’ immensely-high head-dresses, when once fixed were frequently not disturbed or altered for a month, and not until they had become almost intolerable to the wearer and to her friends – and when the domestic manners of the aristocracy, as well as others, were not of the most refined and delicate kind, the use of these little instruments, with many other matters which we may yet take the opportunity of describing, became almost essential. In our day they are not so, and we have no fear of seeing their use revived.

L. L. J.   

On this Day in Other Sources.

When Percy heard where the Scots were, and that they numbered less than 3000, he sped on to Otterburn with 800 horsemen and 8000 footmen, and in the moonlight of August 19th, 1388, attacked the Scottish camp. The Scots were taken by surprise, but the camp-followers and a few spearmen kept the enemy at bay till the men-at-arms were harnessed. Going quietly out by the rear, the Scots swept round and attacked the English in flank. The English by sheer force of numbers drove back the Scots at first, but Douglas, taking an axe in both hands, entered the press and made a way for himself in such a manner, that for a time none durst approach him. At length he was borne down and mortally wounded. He told his immediate followers to conceal his fall, to display his banner, and raise his battle-cry. This was done so heartily that the Scots broke the English ranks and gained a complete victory. Douglas breathed his last on the battle-field. Of the Scots, about one hundred were slain and two hundred made prisoners. Earl Percy was taken captive. The English lost 1040 in the battle-field. In the pursuit, 840 more well killed, and more than a thousand wounded. It was a chivalrous battle for the capture of a pennon; but for the practical ends of war it was useless bloodshed. This battle has been commemorated in the well-known ballad of Chevy Chase

– A History of Scotland, Chapter V. 

After this Mary of Guise’s young widowed daughter [Mary, Queen of Scots] – whose reign and residence imparted a splendour to the fortress which it had not hitherto known – landed at Leith [on 19th] August, [1561], and was conducted to her palace amid pageantry to which we shall refer when describing other royal progresses through the city. 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.32-47.

Elizabeth sent out her fleet, with whatever orders, into the channel, through which Mary was expected to sail. The chiefs of Murray’s faction, Argyle, Morton, Glencairn, wrote letters to Cecil; offering their services to Elizabeth. Secretary Maitland, who was the organ of that faction, went one step further: in several letters, which he wrote to Cecil, he advised the interception of the Queen. Yet, did the Scotish Queen arrive, safely, at Leith, on the 19th of August [1561], at 9 o’clock, in the morning. When Lady Lennox heard of this event, she fell down on her knees, and with uplifted hands, rendered thanks to God, for Queen Mary’s safe arrival, notwithstanding the English ships. This prayer of Lady Lennox is proof, that it was known to all the well informed persons, in London, that Elizabeth’s fleet had been sent out, to bring in the Scotish Queen. 

– Life of Mary, pp.15-41.

Becoming a widow in December 1560 by the death of her husband, Francis II., Mary no longer had any tie binding her to France, and consequently she resolved on returning to her own dominions. She arrived in Edinburgh in August 1561. The people regarded her beautiful face with affection, but her conduct towards the Protestant cause appeared as that of one who submits to what cannot be resisted.*

Aug. 19 [1561]. – The queen arrived with her two vessels in Leith Roads, at seven in the morning of a dull autumn day. She was accompanied by her three uncles of the House of Guise – the Duc d’Aumale, the Grand Prior, and the Marquis d’Elbeuf; besides Monsieur d’Amville, son of the constable of France, her four gentlewomen, called the Maries, and many persons of inferior note. To pursue the narrative of one who looked on the scene with an evil eye: ‘The very face of heaven, the time of her arrival, did manifestly speak what comfort was brought unto this country with her – to wit, sorrow, dolour, darkness, and all impiety; for in the memory of man, that day of the year, was never seen a more dolorous face of the heaven, than was at her arrival, which two days after did so continue; for beside the surface weet and corruption of the air, the mist was so thick and so dark, that scarce might any man espy ane other the length of twa butts. The sun was not seen to shine two days before nor two days after. The forewarning gave God unto us; but, alas, the most part were blind.’ – Knox.

– Domestic Annals, pp.13-29.

*  George Chalmers in his ‘Life of Mary, Queen of Scots’ puts forward the case to support her accepting Protestantism as a religion practised by her subjects in Scotland: 
“One act, on the subject of religion, during a religious age, is memorable. The same Queen, who is charged, by Robertson, with attempting to suppress the reformed discipline, with the aid of the bishops, passed a law; renouncing all foreign jurisdiction, in ecclesiastical affairs; giving toleration to all her subjects to worship God, in their own way; and engaging to give some additional privileges: By the first clause, the papal jurisdiction was renounced, by the second, a toleration was established; and by the third, some other points were promised, which might have led to a liturgy, which was the only thing wanting, to form a complete reformation, in a parliamentary mode. Yet, are there writers, so besotted with prejudice, as to say, that nothing was done, in the Parliament of April 1567, concerning religion.” – From Darnley’s Murder to the Queen’s Dethronement.

Under cover of a fog [Queen Mary] escaped the English cruisers. Favoured by the wind she made the passage in four days, and arrived at Leith on the morning of the 19th of August, [1561]. No one expected her so soon, and the preparations for her reception were not completed. When horses were procured she was conducted with some degree of pomp to Holyrood; but when she looked on the sorry palfreys provided for herself and her ladies, and thought of the gorgeous processions of France, she burst into tears. The people gave her a rude but hearty welcome, and endeavoured to enliven her first night at Holyrood by playing on three-stringed fiddles and singing psalms at her chamber window. All who saw her were charmed by the beauty of her person and the gracefulness of her manners; and the kindly interest which she took in seeing justice done to the poor made her for a time extremely popular. 

– A History of Scotland, Chapter XIV. 

There is an entry in our burgh records under date 19th August 1578, from which we learn that the Archbishop of Glasgow had let “the coilheuchtis and colis withtin the baronie of glasgw for the space of three yeris, for the yeirlie payment to the said reverend father of forty pundis money, togeddir witht threttene scoir and ten laidis of colis.” At this time the pound Scots had come to be worth only about two shillings and sixpence sterling, so that the rent of all the coal within the barony, with the use of the existing shafts or openings, was only £5 per annum and 270 “laids” of coal. The term laid or load, as applied to coals, is not now used in Lanarkshire, but in some other districts it is. In Haddingtonshire, where the term is still employed, there are seven laids in a ton of coal. That gives 320 pounds to a laid, or very nearly what is practically the burden of a pack-horse. This, it is highly probable, was the quantity represented by the “laid” in the archbishop’s lease. 

– Old Glasgow, pp.239-248.

The 19th day of August, this year [1596], Queen Anna was brought to bed of a daughter, christened with great solemnity Elizabeth. 

– Historical Works, pp.340-416.

The magistrates also in the old times, as now, kept the king’s birthday. On one of these occasions we find this entry in their minutes: “Ordeines ane warrand to be grantit for 41 lib 10s. (£3, 9s. 2d.) as for “expensis of vyne and confeitis spent at the croce upone the fyfte of July the kingis daye – my Lord of Glasgw being present with sundrie uthir honorabill men.”1 And a similar charge appears in the following year.

– Old Glasgow, pp.215-237.

1  19th August, 1609.

After landing in the wilds of Moidart, with only seven men, and unfurling his standard in Glenfinnan, on the 19th of August, 1745, Charles Edward soon found himself at the head of 1,200 followers, whose success in a few petty encounters roused the ardour and emulation of the Macdonalds, McLeans, and other warlike septs, who rose in arms, to peril life and fortune for the last of the old royal race.

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.322-329.

The Cardinal really made some preparations for an expedition to be conducted by the Prince; but it was prevented by a storm and an opposing English armament, from leaving the French coast. Disappointed of the promised aid, Charles secretly voyaged with seven friends to the western coast of Inverness-shire, and, landing there towards the close of July 1745, was soon surrounded by a few hundreds of friendly Camerons and Macdonalds. He raised his standard at Glenfinnan on the 19th of August, and expressed himself as determined, with such as would follow him, to win back a crown, or perish in the attempt.

– Domestic Annals, pp.398-408.

On the 19th August 1745 the Marquis of Tullibardine unfurled the Royal Standard at Glenfinnan, and thus opened that unfortunate rebellion which cost Scotland so dear. The romantic nature of the enterprise of Prince Charles has cast a halo over his actions, and blinds our judgment of a simple but high-spirited people, seduced them from their allegiance, and launched them on a wild sea of troubles, where nothing short of a miracle could bring them to a harbour of safety. Charles had everything to gain and nothing to lose by the enterprise; his unfortunate dupes had everything to lose should they miscarry, and nothing to gain by the success of their party except the barren honours of an empty title, a supply of which he carried in his valise. Yet this rash and ill-considered enterprise all but succeeded, and would have certainly done so had Charles confined his attention to Scotland alone, and proclaimed himself a constitutional monarch. 

– How Scotland Lost Her Parliament, Chapter IV.

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