13th of September – Rood E’en

St Maurilius, bishop of Angers, confessor, 5th century. St Eulogius, confessor and patriarch of Alexandria, 608. St Amatus, abbot and confessor, about 627. Another St Amatus, bishop and confessor, about 690.

 

Died. – Titus, Roman emperor, 81 A.D.; William Farel, coadjutor of Calvin, 1565, Neufchatel; Michael de Montaigne, celebrated essayist, 1592, Montaigne, near Bordeaux; Philip II. of Spain, 1598; John Buxtorf the Elder, eminent Hebrew scholar, 1629, Basel; Saverio Bettinelli, Italian writer (Risorgimento d’Italia), 1808, Mantua.

 

ANCIENT BOOKS.

Before the invention of printing, the labour requisite for the production of a manuscript volume was so great, that such volume, when completed, became a treasured heir-loom. Half-a-dozen such books made a remarkable library for a nobleman to possess; and a score of them would furnish a monastery. Many years must have been occupied in writing the large folio volumes that are still the most valued books in the great public libraries of Europe; vast as is the labour of the literary portion, the artistic decoration of these elaborate pages of elegantly-formed letters, is equally wonderful. Richly-painted and gilt letters are at the head of chapters and paragraphs, from which vignette decoration flows down the sides, and about the margins, often enclosing grotesque figures of men and animals, exhibiting the fertile fancies of these old artists. Miniature drawings, frequently of the greatest beauty, illustrating the subject of each page, are sometimes spread with a lavish hand through these old volumes, and often furnish us with the only contemporary pictures we possess of the everyday-life of the men of the middle ages. 

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When the vellum leaves completing the book had been written and decorated, the binder then commenced his work; and he occasionally displayed a costly taste and manipulative ability of a kind no moderns attempt. A valued volume was literally encased in gold and gems. The monks of the ninth and tenth centuries were clever adepts in working the precious metals; and one of the number – St Dunstan – became sufficiently celebrated for his ability this way, to be chosen the patron-saint of goldsmiths. Our engraving will convey some idea of one of the finest existing specimens of antique bookbinding in the national collection, Paris. It is a work of the eleventh century, and encases a book of prayers in a mass of gold, jewels, and enamels. The central subject is sunk like a framed picture, and represents the Crucifixion, the Virgin and St John on each side the cross, and above it the veiled busts of Apollo and Diana; thus exhibiting the influence of the older Byzantine school, which is, indeed, visible throughout the entire design. This subject is executed on a thin sheet of gold, beaten up from behind into high relief, and chased upon its surface. A rich frame of jewelled ornament surrounds this subject, portions of the decoration being further enriched with coloured enamels; the angles are filled with enamelled emblems of the evangelists; the ground of the whole design enriched by threads and foliations of delicate gold wire. 

Such books were jealously guarded. They represented a considerable sum of money in a merely mercantile sense; but they often had additional value impressed by some individual skill. Loans of such volumes, even to royalty, were rare, and never accorded without the strictest regard to their safety and sure return. Gifts of such books were the noblest presents a monastery could offer to a prince; and such gifts were often made the subject of the first picture on the opening page of the volume. 

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Smaller and less ambitious volumes, intended for the use of the student, or for church-services, were more simply bound; but they frequently were enriched by an ivory carving let into the cover – a practice that seems to have ceased in the sixteenth century, when leather of different kinds was used, generally enriched by ornament stamped in relief. A quaint fancy was sometimes indulged in the form of books, such as is seen in the first figure of the cut just given. The original occurs in a portrait of a nobleman of that era, engaged in devotion, his book of prayers taking the conventional form of a heart, when the volume is opened. For the use of the religious, books of prayers were bound, in the fifteenth century, in a very peculiar way, which will be best understood by a glance at the second figure in our cut. The leathern covering of the volume was lengthened beyond the margin of the boards, and then gathered (a loose flap of skin) into a large knot at the end. When the book was closed and secured by the clasp, this leathern flap was passed under the owner’s girdle, and the knot brought over it, to prevent its slipping. Thus a volume of prayers might be conveniently carried, and such books were very constantly seen at a monk’s girdle. 

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There is another class of books for which great durability, during rough usage, was desired. These were volumes of accounts, registers, and law records. Strong boards sometimes formed their only covering, or the boards were covered with hog-skins, and strengthened by bosses of metal. Paper-books, intended for ordinary use, were sometimes simply covered with thick hog-skin, stitched at the back with strong thongs of leather. Binding, as a fine art, seems to have declined just before the invention of printing: after that, libraries became common, and collectors prided themselves on good book-binding; but into this more modern history of the art we do not propose to enter.

 

On this Day in Other Sources.

 

‘The gose-summer1 was matchless fair in Moray, without winds, wet, or any storm; the corn was well won; the garden herbs revived, July flowers and roses springing at Martinmas, whilk myself pulled. The kale shot and came to seed, and the March violets were springing as in April.’ – Spal

– Domestic Annals, pp.228-256.

1  Go-summer and go-har’st are terms applied in Scotland to the mild weather which sometimes occurs between autumn and winter. There is a proverb in Peeblesshire: ‘If the deer lie down dry and rise dry on Rood-e’en (September 13), it’s a sign we’ll have a good go-har’st.’

 

The Chapter acquired the church of Glasfurd as a common church during this reign. the erection of Lochvinyok is a valuable specimen of the early constitution of the collegiate churches. The chancellor’s vindication of his patronage of the grammar school, and his monopoly of teaching, against master David Dwne – who actually set himself to instruct scholars in grammar et juvenes in puerilibus – is not merely a subject of amusement. It illustrates both the state of education of the period, and those privileges of the church regarding schools, which enter into some weighty discussions touching the constitution of Universities.82 

– Sketches, pp.29-70.

 

After dinner, she rode from Holyrood-house to Linlithgow palace; where she remained on the 12th, and, on the 13th [September, 1561,] she rode to Stirling castle. At this place, she run the risque, of being burnt. 

– Life of Mary, pp.42-61.

 

Sep. 13 [1563]. — Two gentlemen became sureties in Edinburgh for Marion Carruthers, co-heiress of Mousewald, in Dumfriesshire, ‘that she shall not marry ane chief traitor nor other broken man of the country,’ under pain of £1000 – a large sum to stake upon a young lady’s will. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.13-29.

 

The violences of the age extended even to school-boys. The ‘scholars and gentlemen’s sons’ of the High School of Edinburgh had at this time occasion to complain of some abridgement of their wonted period of vacation, and when they applied to the town-council for an extension of what they called their ‘privilege,’ only three days in addition to the restricted number of fourteen were granted. It appears that the master was favourable to their suit, but he was ‘borne down and abused by the Council, who never understood well what privilege belonged to that charge. Some of the chief gentlemen’s sons resolved to make a mutiny, and one day, the master being on necessary business a mile or two off the town, they came in the evening (Sep. 13 [1595]) with all necessary provision, and entered the school, manned the same, took in which them some fencible weapons, with powder and bullet, and renforcit the doors, refusing to let [any] man come there, either master or magistrate, until their privileges were fairly granted.’ – Pa. And. 

A night passed over. Next morning, ‘some men of the town came to these scholars, desiring them to give over, and to come forth upon composition; affirming that they should intercede to obtein them the license of other eight days’ playing. But the scholars replied that they were mocked of the first eight days’ privilege… they wald either have the residue of the days granted for their pastime, or else they wald not give over. This answer was consulted upon by the magistrates, and notified to the ministers; and the ministers gave their counsel that they should be letten alone, and some men should be depute to attend about the house to keep them from vivres, sae that they should be compelled to render by extremity of hunger.’ – H. K. J. 

A day having passed in this manner, the Council lost patience, and determined to use strong measures. Headed by Bailie John Macmoran, and attended by a posse of officers, they came to the school, which was a long, low building, standing on the site of the ancient Blackfriars’ monastery. The bailie at first called on the boys in a peaceable manner to open the doors. They refused, and asked for their master, protesting they would acknowledge him at his return, but no other person. ‘The bailies began to be angry, and called for a great jeist to prise up the back-door. The scholars bade them beware, and wished them to desist and leave off that violence, or else they vowed to God they should put a pair of bullets through the best of their cheeks. The bailies, believing they durst not shoot, continued still to prise the door, boasting with many threatening words. The scholars perceiving nothing but extremity, one Sinclair, the chancellor of Caithness’ son, presented a gun from a window, direct opposite to the bailies’ faces, boasting them and calling them buttery carles. Off goeth the charged gun. [The bullet] pierced John Macmoran through his head, and presently killed him, so that he fell backward straight to the ground without speech at all.’1

‘When the scholars heard of this mischance, they were all moved to clamour, and gave over. Certain of them escaped, and the rest were carried to prison by the magistrates in great fury, and escaped weel unslain at that instant. Upon the morn, the said Sinclair was brought to the bar, and was there accused of that slaughter; but he denied the same constantly. Divers honest friends convenit, and assisted him.’ The relatives of Macmoran being rich, money-offers were of no avail in the case: life for life was what they sought for. ‘Friends threatened death to all the people of Edinburgh (!) if they did the child any harm, saying they were not wise that meddled with the scholars, especially the gentlemen’s sons. They should have committed that charge to the master, who knew best the truest remedy without any harm at all.’ 

Lord Sinclair, as head of the family to which the young culprit belonged, now came forward in his behalf, and, by his intercession, the king wrote to the magistrates, desiring them to delay proceedings. Afterwards, the process was transferred to the Privy Council. Meanwhile, the other youths, seven in number, the chief of whom were a son of Murray of Spainyiedale and a son of Pringle of Whitebank, were kept in confinement for upwards of two months, while a debate took place between the magistrates and the friends of the culprits as to a fair assize; it being alleged that one composed of citizens would be partial against the boys. The king commanded that an assize of gentlemen should be chosen, and, in the end, they, as well as Sinclair, got clear off. 

The culprit became Sir William Sinclair of Mey. He married Catherine Ross of Balnagowan, whom we have seen unpleasantly mixed up in the charges against Lady Foulis (see page 117). 

‘Macmoran,’ says Calderwood, ‘was the richest merchant in his time, but not gracious to the common people, because he carried victual to Spain, notwithstanding he was often admonished by the ministers to refrain.’ His house, still standing in Riddell’s Close in the Lawnmarket, Edinburgh, gives the idea that the style of living of a rich Scottish merchant of that day was far from being mean or despicable.2

– Domestic Annals, pp.124-176.

1  Patrick Anderson’s History, MS. He adds: ‘I was at the time by chance an eyewitness myself.’
2  The room of Macmoran’s house in which the Duke of Holstein, the queen’s brother, was banqueted in 1598, is now used as the Mechanics’ Library.

 

Sep. 13 [1660]. – The Letter-office at Edinburgh was in 1649 under the care of Mr John Mean, a merchant noted throughout the reign of Charles I. for his zeal as a Presbyterian; which, however, had not forbidden him to be also a strenuous loyalist. Latterly, the same function had been bestowed upon Messrs Mew and Barringer, who, from their names, may be supposed to have been Englishmen, friends of the Cromwellian rule. At the date now noted, the king bestowed the office upon Robert Mean, superseding the two above-mentioned officials, and the Committee of Estates accordingly inducted him, ‘requiring the postmaster of Haddington to direct the packets constantly from time to time to the said Robert Mean, and cause the same to be delivered to him at Edinburgh.’ – R. C. E. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.302-321.

 

2616. Demand on Glasgow for Money by Prince Charles Edward to the Magistrates of Glasgow. Lockie, 13th September, 1745.

– Memorial Catalogue, Gallery 1.

 

On the 13th of September, 1753, the first stone of the new Exchange was laid by George Drummond, the Grand Master of the Scottish Masons, whose memory as a patriotic magistrate is still remembered with respect in Edinburgh. A triumphal arch, a gallery for the magistrates, and covered stands for the spectators, enclosed the arena. “The procession was very grand and regular,” says the Gentleman’s Magazine for that year; “each lodge of masons, of which there were thirteen, walked in procession by themselves, all uncovered, amounting to 672, most of whom were operative masons.” The military paid proper honours to the company on this occasion, and escorted the procession in a suitable manner. The Grand Master and the present substitute were preceded by the Lord Provost, magistrates, and council, in their robes, with the city sword, mace, &c., carried before them, accompanied by the directors of the scheme. 

All day the foundation-stone lay open, that the people might see it, with the Latin inscription on the plate, which runs thus in English:- 

“GEORGE DRUMMOND, 
Of the Society of Freemasons in Scotland Grand Master, 
Thrice Provost of the City of Edinburgh, 
Three hundred Brother Masons attending, 
In presence of many persons of distinction, 
The magistrates and Citizens of Edinburgh, 
And of every rank of people an innumerable multitude, 
And all Applauding; 
For convenience of the inhabitants of Edinburgh, 
And the public ornament, 
Laid this stone, 
William Alexander being Provost, 
On the 13th September, 1753, of the Era of Masonry 1753, 
And of the reign of George II., King of Great Britain, 
the 27th year.” 

In the stone were deposited two medals, one bearing the profile and name of the Grand Master, the other having the masonic arms, with the collar of St. Andrew, and the legend, “In the Lord is all our trust.” 

– Old and New Edinburgh, pp.183-191.

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