Notes and Queries, Issue No. 61, December 28, 1850
Author: Various
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"When found, make a note of."—CAPTAIN CUTTLE.

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NO. 61.] SATURDAY, DECEMBER 28. 1850. [Price Threepence. Stamped Edition 4d.

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NOTES:— Page Illustrations of Scottish Ballads, by Richard John King 505 The Red Hand—The Holt Family—Vincent Family 506 Vondel's Lucifer, by Janus Dousa 507 A Myth of Midridge 509 Folk Lore Miscellanies:—St. Thomas's Day—Black Doll at Old Store-shops—Snake Charming—Mice as a Medicine—"Many Nits, many Pits"—Swans hatched during Thunder—Snakes—Pixies or Piskies—Straw Necklaces—Breaking Judas' Bones 509 Local Rhymes and Proverbs of Devonshire 511 A Christmas Carol 513 A Note for little Boys 513 Similarity of Traditions 513 Pixey Legends 514 The Pool of the Black Hound 515 Popular Rhymes 515 Minor Notes:—"Passilodion" and "Berafrynde"— Inscription on an Alms-dish—The Use of the French Word "savez"—Job's Luck—The Assassination of Mountfort in For folk Street, Strand—The Oldenburgh Horn—Curious Custom—Kite—Epitaph on John Randal—Playing Cards 515

QUERIES:— Dragons: their Origin 517 John Sanderson, or the Cushion Dance; and Bab at the Bowster 517 Did Bunyan know Hobbes? by J.H. Friswell 518 Minor Queries:—Boiling to Death—Meaning of "Mocker"—"Away, let nought to love displeasing" —Baron Muenchausen—"Sing Tantararara Rogues all," &c.—Meaning of "Cauking" 519

REPLIES:— The Wise Men of Gotham, by J.B. Colman 520 Replies to Minor Queries:—Master John Shorne— Antiquity of Smoking—Meaning of the Word "Thwaites"—Thomas Rogers of Horninger—Earl of Roscommon—Parse—The Meaning of "Version" —First Paper-mill in England—"Torn by Horses" —Vineyards—Cardinal—Weights for Weighing Coins—Umbrella—Croziers and Pastoral Staves 520

MISCELLANEOUS:— Notes on Books, Sales, Catalogues, &c. 523 Notices to Correspondents 524 Advertisements 524

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In the ballad of "Annan Water" (Border Minstrelsy, vol. iii.) is the following verse:—

"O he has pour'd aff his dapperpy coat, The silver buttons glanced bonny; The waistcoat bursted aff his breast, He was sae full of melancholy."

A very unexpected effect of sorrow, but one that does not seem to be unprecedented. "A plague of sighing and grief," says Falstaff. "It blows a man up like a bladder."

A remarkable illustration of Falstaff's assertion, and of the Scottish ballad, is to be found in this Saga of Egil Skallagrimson. Bodvar, the son of Egil, was wrecked on the coast of Iceland. His body was thrown up by the waves near Einarsness, where Egil found it, and buried it in the tomb of his father Skallagrim. The Saga continues thus:—

"After that, Egil rode home to Borgar; and when he came there, he went straightway into the locked chamber where he was wont to sleep; and there he laid him down, and shot forth the bolt. No man dared speak a word to him. And thus it is said that Egil was clad when he laid Bodvar in the tomb. His hose were bound fast about his legs, and he had on a red linen kirtle, narrow above, and tied with strings at the sides. And men say that his body swelled so greatly that his kirtle burst from off him, and so did his hose."—P. 602.

It is well known that the subjects of many ballads are common to Scotland, and to the countries of Northern Europe. Thus, the fine old "Douglas Tragedy," the scene of which is pointed out at Blackhouse Tower, on the Yarrow, is equally localised in Denmark:

"Seven large stones," says Sir Walter, "erected upon the neighbouring heights of Blackhouse, are shown as marking the spot where the seven brethren were slain; and the Douglas Burn is avowed to have been the stream at which the lovers stopped to drink; so minute is tradition in ascertaining, the scene of a tragical tale, which, considering, the rude state of former times, had probably foundation in some real event."

The corresponding Danish ballad, however, that of "Ribolt and Guldborg," which has been translated by Mr. Jamieson, is not less minute in pointing out the scene of action. The origin of ballads, which are thus widely spread, must probably be sought in very high antiquity; and we cannot wonder if we find them undergoing considerable {506} change in the passage from one country to another. At least the "Douglas Tragedy" betrays one very singular mark of having lost something of the original.

In "Ribolt and Guldborg," when the lady's brothers have all but overtaken the fugitives, the knight addresses her thus:

"Light down, Guldborg, my lady dear, And hald our steeds lay the renyes here. And e'en sae be that ye see me fa' Be sure that ye never upon me ca'; And e'en sae be that ye see me bleed, Be sure that ye name na' me till dead."

Ribolt kills her father and her two eldest brothers, and then Guldborg can no longer restrain herself:

"Hald, hald, my Ribolt, dearest mine, Now belt thy brand, for its 'mair nor time. My youngest brother ye spare, O spare, To my mither the dowie news to bear."

But she has broken her lover's mysterious caution, and he is mortally wounded in consequence:

"When Ribolt's name she named that stound, 'Twas then that he gat his deadly wound."

In the Scottish ballad, no such caution is given; nor is the lady's calling on her lover's name at all alluded to as being the cause of his death. It is so, however, as in the Danish version:

"She held his steed in her milk-white hand, And never shed one tear, Until that she saw her seven brethren fa', And her father hard fighting, who loved her so dear.

"O hold your hand, Lord William, she said, For your strokes they are wondrous sair; True lovers I can get many a ane, But a father I can never get mair."

There is no note in the Kaempe Viser, says Mr. Jamieson, on this subject; nor does he attempt to explain it himself. It has, however, a clear reference to a very curious Northern superstition.

Thorkelin, in the essay on the Berserkir, appended to his edition of the Kristni-Saga, tells us that an old name of the Berserk frenzy was hamremmi, i.e., strength acquired from another or strange body, because it was anciently believed that the persons who were liable to this frenzy were mysteriously endowed, during its accesses, with a strange body of unearthly strength. If, however, the Berserk was called on by his own name, he lost his mysterious form, and his ordinary strength alone remained. Thus it happens in the Svarfdaela Saga:

"Gris called aloud to Klanfi, and said, 'Klanfi, Klanfi! keep a fair measure,' and instantly the strength which Klanfi had got in his rage, failed him; so that now he could not even lift the beam with which he had been fighting."

It is clear, therefore, continues Thorkelin, that the state of men labouring under the Berserk frenzy was held by some, at least, to resemble that of those, who, whilst their own body lay at home apparently dead or asleep, wandered under other forms into distant places and countries. Such wanderings were called hamfarir by the old northmen; and were held to be only capable of performance by those who had attained the very utmost skill in magic.


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THE RED HAND.—THE HOLT FAMILY. (Vol. ii., pp. 248. 451.)

Your correspondent ESTE, in allusion to the arms of the Holt family, in a window of the church of Aston-juxta-Birmingham, refers to the tradition that one of the family "murdered his cook, and was afterwards compelled to adopt the red hand in his arms." Este is perfectly correct in his concise but comprehensive particulars. That which, by the illiterate, is termed "the bloody hand," and by them reputed as an abatement of honour, is nothing more than the "Ulster badge" of dignity. The tradition adds, that Sir Thomas Holt murdered the cook in a cellar, at the old family mansion, by "running him through with a spit," and afterwards buried him beneath the spot where the tragedy was enacted. I merely revert to the subject, because, within the last three months, the ancient family residence, where the murder is said to have been committed, has been levelled with the ground; and among persons who from their position in society might be supposed to be better informed, considerable anxiety has been expressed to ascertain whether any portion of the skeleton of the murdered cook has been discovered beneath the flooring of the cellar, which tradition, fomented by illiterate gossip, pointed out as the place of his interment. Your correspondents would confer a heraldic benefit if they would point out other instances—which I believe to exist—where family reputation has been damaged by similar ignorance in heraldic interpretation.

The ancient family residence to which I have referred was situated at Duddeston, a hamlet adjoining Birmingham. Here the Holts resided until May, 1631, when Sir Thomas took up his abode at Ashton Hall, a noble structure in the Elizabethan style of architecture, which, according to a contemporary inscription, was commenced in April, 1618, and completed in 1635. Sir Thomas was a decided royalist, and maintained his allegiance to his sovereign, although the men of Birmingham were notorious for their disaffection, and the neighbouring garrison of Edgbaston was occupied by Parliamentarian troops. When Charles I., of glorious or unhappy memory, was on his way from Shrewsbury to the important battle of Edgehill, {507} on the confines of Warwickshire, he remained with Sir Thomas, as his guest, from the 15th to the 17th of October (vide Mauley's Iter Carolinum, Gutch's Collectanea, vol. ii. p. 425.); and a closet is still pointed out to the visitor where he is said to have been concealed. A neighbouring eminence is to the present day called "King's Standing," from the fact of the unhappy monarch having stood thereon whilst addressing his troops. By his acts of loyalty, Sir Thomas Holt acquired the hostility of his rebellious neighbours; and accordingly we learn that on the 18th of December, 1643, he had recourse to Colonel Leveson, who "put forty muskettiers into the house" to avert impending dangers; but eight days afterwards, on the 26th of December, "the rebels, 1,200 strong, assaulted it, and the day following tooke it, kil'd 12, and ye rest made prisoners, though w'th losse of 60 of themselves." (Vide Dugdale's Diary, edited by Hamper, 4to. p. 57.) The grand staircase, deservedly so entitled, bears evident marks of the injury occasioned at this period, and an offending cannon-ball is still preserved.

Edward, the son and heir of Sir Thomas, died at Oxford, on the 28th August, 1643, and was buried in Christ Church. He was an ardent supporter of the king. The old baronet was selected as ambassador to Spain by Charles I., but was excused on account of his infirmities. He died A.D. 1654, in the eighty-third year of his age. His excellence and benevolence of character would afford presumptive evidence of the falsehood of the tradition, if it were not totally exploded by the absurdity of the hypothesis upon which it is grounded. Sir Thomas was succeeded in the baronetcy by his grandson, Robert, who in compliance with his will built an almshouse or hospital for five men and five women. It is unnecessary to pursue the family further, excepting to state that nearly at the close of the last century the entail was cut off: the family is now unknown in the neighbourhood, excepting in its collateral branches, and the hall has passed into the possession of strangers. Its last occupant was James Watt, Esq., son of the eminent mechanical philosopher. He died about two years ago, and the venerable mansion remains tenantless.

With reference to the ancient family residence of the Holts, at Duddeston, it will be sufficient to observe, that in the middle of the last century the house and grounds were converted into a tavern and pleasure gardens, under the metropolitan title of Vauxhall: and for a century they continued to afford healthful recreation and scenic amusement to the busy inhabitants of Birmingham. The amazing increase in the size and population of the town has at length demanded this interesting site for building purposes. Within the last three months the house and gardens have been entirely dismantled, a range of building has already been erected, and old Vauxhall is now numbered amongst the things that were.



"Bloody Hands at Stoke d'Abernon, Surrey.—The legends of Sir Richard Baker (Vol. ii., pp. 67. 244.) and of a member of the Holt family (Vol. ii., p. 451.) recall to my mind one somewhat similar, connected with a monument in the church of Stoke d'Abernon, Surrey, the appearance of a "bloody hand" upon which was thus accounted for to me:—

"Two young brothers of the family of Vincent, the elder of whom had just come into possession of the estate, were out shooting on Fairmile Common, about two miles from the village; they had put up several birds, but had not been able to get a single shot, when the elder swore with an oath that he would fire at whatever they next met with. They had not gone much further before the miller of a mill near at hand (and which is still standing) passed them, and made some trifling remark. As soon as he had got by, the younger brother jokingly reminded the elder of his oath, whereupon the latter immediately fired at the miller, who fell dead upon the spot. Young Vincent escaped to his home, and by the influence of his family, backed by large sums of money, no effective steps were taken to apprehend him, and he was concealed in the 'Nunnery' on his estate for some years, when death put a period to the insupportable anguish of his mind. To commemorate his rash act and his untimely death, this 'bloody hand' was placed on his monument."

So runs the story as far as I remember; the date I cannot recollect. The legend was told me after I had left the church, and I had paid no particular attention to the monument; but I thought at the time that the hand might be only the Ulster badge. I shall be obliged to any of your readers who will throw further light upon this matter. A pilgrimage to Stoke d'Abernon, whose church contains the earliest known brass in England, would not be uninteresting even at this season of the year.


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I have to complain of injustice done by a correspondent of "NOTES AND QUERIES," to the Dutch poet Vondel. To the question mooted by F. (Vol. i. p. 142.), whether my countryman's Lucifer has ever been translated into English, Hermes answers by a passage taken from the Foreign Quarterly Review for April, 1829; and subjoins a list of the dramatis personae "given from the original Dutch before him. The tragedy itself is condensed by your correspondent into a simple "&c." Now, if HERMES, instead of referring to a stale review for a comparison between Vondel's tragedy and the Paradise Lost, without showing by any proof that Milton's justly renowned epic {508} is indeed superior to this, one of the Dutch poet's masterpiece—if HERMES, being, as I conclude from his own words, conversant with the language of our Shakspeare, had taken pains to read Lucifer, he would not have repeated a statement unfavourable to Vondel's poetical genius. I, for my part, will not hazard a judgment on poems so different and yet so alike, I will not sneer at Milton's demon-gods of Olympus, nor laugh at "their artillery discharged in the daylight of heaven;" for such instances of bad taste are to be considered as clouds setting off the glories of the whole; but this I will say, that Vondel wrote his Lucifer in 1654, the sixty-seventh of his life, while Milton's Paradise Lost was composed four years later. The honour of precedence, in time, at least, belongs to my countryman. All the odds were against the British poet's competitor, if one who wrote before him may be so called; for, while Milton enjoyed every privilege of a sound classical education, Vondel had still to begin a course of study when more than twenty-six years of age; and, while the Dutch poet told the price of homely stockings to prosaic burghers, the writer of Paradise Lost was speaking the language of Torquato Tasso in the country enraptured by the first sight of la divina comedia.

I am no friend of polemical writing, and I believe the less we see of it in your friendly periodical, the better it is; but still I must protest against such copying of partially-written judgments, when good information can be got. I say not by stretching out a hand, for the book was already opened by your correspondent—but alone by using one's eyes and turning over a leaf or two. Else, why did HERMES learn the Dutch language? I ask your subscribers if the following verses are weak, and if they would not have done honour to the English Vondel?


(From Lucifer.)

"Who sits above heaven's heights sublime, Yet fills the grave's profoundest place, Beyond eternity, or time, Or the vast round of viewless space: Who on Himself alone depends— Immortal—glorious—but unseen— And in his mighty being blends What rolls around or flows within. Of all we know not—all we know— Prime source and origin—a sea, Whose waters pour'd on earth below Wake blessing's brightest radiancy. 'Tis power, love, wisdom, first exalted And waken'd from oblivion's birth; Yon starry arch—yon palace, vaulted— Yon heaven of heavens, to smile on earth. From his resplendent majesty We shade us 'neath our sheltering wings, While awe-inspired, and tremblingly We praise the glorious King of Kings, With sight and sense confused and dim; O name—describe the Lord of Lords, The seraph's praise shall hallow Him;— Or is the theme too vast for words?"


"'Tis God! who pours the living glow Of light, creation's fountain-head: Forgive the praise—too mean and low— Or from the living or the dead. No tongue thy peerless name hath spoken, No space can hold that awful name; The aspiring spirit's wing is broken;— Thou wilt be, wert, and art the same! Language is dumb. Imagination, Knowledge, and science, helpless fall; They are irreverent profanation, And thou, O God! art all in all. How vain on such a thought to dwell! Who knows Thee—Thee the All-unknown? Can angels be thy oracle, Who art—who art Thyself alone? None, none can trace Thy course sublime, For none can catch a ray from Thee, The splendour and the source of time— The Eternal of eternity. Thy light of light outpour'd conveys Salvation in its flight elysian, Brighter than e'en Thy mercy's rays; But vainly would our feeble vision Aspire to Thee. From day to day Age steals on us, but meets thee never; Thy power is life's support and stay— We praise thee, sing thee, Lord! for ever."


"Holy, holy, holy! Praise— Praise be His in every land; Safety in His presence stays; Sacred is His high command!"

Dr. Bowring's version,—though a good one, if the difficulty be considered of giving back a piece of poetry, whose every word is a poem in itself, and by whose rhyme and accentuation a feeling of indescribable awe is instilled into the most fastidious reader's mind,—Dr. Bowring's version is but a feeble reverberation of the holy fire pervading our Dutch poet's anthem. But still there rests enough in his copy to give one a high idea of the original. I borrow the same Englishman's words when I add:—

"The criticism that instructs, even though it instructs severely, is most salutary and most valuable. It is of the criticism that insults, and while it insults, informs not, that we have a right to complain."—Batavian Anthology, p. 6.


Manpadt House.

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Or, A Story anent a witless Wight's Adventures with the Midridge Fairies in the Bishoprick of Durham; now more than two Centuries ago.

Talking about fairies the other day to a nearly Octogenarian female neighbour, I asked, had she ever seen one in her youthful days. Her answer was in the negative; "but," quoth she, "I've heard my grandmother tell a story, that Midridge (near Auckland) was a great place for fairies when she was a child, and for many long years after that." A rather lofty hill, only a short distance from the village, was their chief place of resort, and around it they used to dance, not by dozens, but by hundreds, when the gloaming began to show itself of the summer nights. Occasionally a villager used to visit the scene of their gambols in order to catch if it were but a passing glance of the tiny folks, dressed in their vestments of green, as delicate as the thread of the gossamer: for well knew the lass so favoured, that ere the current year had disappeared, she would have become the happy wife of the object of her only love; and also, as well ken'd the lucky lad that he too would get a weel tochered lassie, long afore his brow became wrinkled with age, or the snow-white blossoms had begun to bud forth upon his pate. Woe to those, however, who dared to come by twos or by threes, with inquisitive and curious eye, within the bounds of their domain; for if caught, or only the eye of a fairy fell upon them, ill was sure to betide them through life. Still more awful, however, was the result if any were so rash as to address them, either in plain prose or rustic rhyme. The last instance of their being spoken to, is thus still handed down by tradition:—''Twas on a beautifully clear evening in the month of August, when the last sheaf had crowned the last stack in their master's hagyard, and after calling the "harvest home," the daytale-men and household servants were enjoying themselves over massive pewter quarts foaming over with strong beer, that the subject of the evening's conversation at last turned upon the fairies of the neighbouring hill, and each related his oft-told tale which he had learned by rote from the lips of some parish grandame. At last the senior of the mirthful party proposed to a youthful mate of his, who had dared to doubt even the existence of such creatures, that he durst not go to the hill, mounted on his master's best palfrey, and call aloud, at the full extent of his voice, the following rhymes:

"Rise little Lads, Wi' your iron gads, And set the Lad o' Midridge hame."

Tam o' Shanter-like, elated with the contents of the pewter vessels, he nothing either feared or doubted, and off went the lad to the fairy hill; so, being arrived at the base, he was nothing loth to extend his voice to its utmost powers in giving utterance to the above invitatory verses. Scarcely had the last words escaped his lips ere he was nearly surrounded by many hundreds of the little folks, who are ever ready to revenge, with the infliction of the most dreadful punishment, every attempt at insult. The most robust of the fairies, who I take to have been Oberon, their king, wielding an enormous javelin, thus, also in rhymes equally rough, rude, and rustic, addressed the witless wight:

"Silly Willy, mount thy filly; And if it isn't weel corn'd and fed, I'll ha' thee afore thou gets hame to thy Midridge bed."

Well was it for Willy that his home was not far distant, and that part light was still remaining in the sky. Horrified beyond measure, he struck his spurs into the sides of his beast, who, equally alarmed, darted off as quick as lightning towards the mansion of its owner. Luckily it was one of those houses of olden time, which would admit of an equestrian and his horse within its portals without danger; lucky, also, was it that at the moment they arrived the door was standing wide open: so, considering the house a safer sanctuary from the belligerous fairies than the stable, he galloped direct into the hall, to the no small amazement of all beholders, when the door was instantly closed upon his pursuing foes! As soon as Willy was able to draw his breath, and had in part overcome the effects of his fear, he related to his comrades a full and particular account of his adventures with the fairies; but from that time forward, never more could any one, either for love or money, prevail upon Willy to give the fairies of the hill an invitation to take an evening walk with him as far as the village of Midridge!

To conclude, when the fairies had departed, and it was considered safe to unbar the door, to give egress to Willy and his filly, it was found, to the amazement of all beholders, that the identical iron javelin of the fairy king had pierced through the thick oaken door, which for service as well as safety was strongly plated with iron, where it still stuck, and actually required the strength of the stoutest fellow in the company, with the aid of a smith's great fore-hammer, to drive it forth. This singular relic of fairy-land was preserved for many generations, till passing eventually into the hands of one who cared for none of those things, it was lost, to the no small regret of all lovers of legendary lore!


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St. Thomas's Day.—A Guernsey charm pour ve ki ke sera son amant

"Into a golden pippin stick eighteen new pins, nine in the eye, and nine in the stem, tie round it the left {510} garter, and place it under the pillow. Get into bed backwards, saying,

"Le jour de St. Thomas, Le plus court, le plus bas, Je prie Dieu journellement, Qu'il me fasse voir, en dormant, Celui qui sera mon amant; Et le pays et la contree Ou il fera sa demeuree, Tel qu'il sera je l'aimerai, Ainsi soit-il."


NOV. 6. 1850.

Black Doll at Old Store-shops (Vol. i., p. 27.).—Is it not probable that the black doll was an image of the Virgin, sold at the Reformation with a lot of church vestments, and other "rags of Popery," as the Puritans called the surplice, and first hung up by some Puritan or Hebrew dealer.

Images of the black Virgin are not uncommon in Roman Catholic churches. Has the colour an Egyptian origin, or whence is it?


Gladwins, Harlow.

Snake Charming.—Two or three summers ago, I was told a curious story of snake charming by a lady of undoubted veracity, in whose neighbourhood (about a dozen miles from Totnes) the occurrence had taken place. Two coast-guard men in crossing a field fell in with a snake: one of them, an Irishman, threw his jacket over the animal, and immediately uttered or muttered a charm over it. On taking up the garment, after a few seconds had passed, the snake was dead.

When I heard this story, and understood that the operator was an Irishman, I bethought me of how Rosalind says, "I was never so be-rhymed since Pythagoras' time, that I was an Irish rat," and accounted satisfactorily for the fact that, "as touching snakes, there are no snakes in Ireland:" for, as the song voucheth, "the snakes committed suicide to save themselves from slaughter," i.e. they were charmed to death by St. Patrick.

I fear it would now be impossible to recover the charm made use of by the coast-guard man; but I will have inquiry made, and if I can obtain any further particulars, I will forward them to you.


Mice as a Medicine (Vol. ii., pp. 397. 435.).—The remedy of the roast mouse recommended in The Pathway to Health (which I find is in the British Museum), is also prescribed in Most Excellent and Approved Remedies, 1652:—"Make it in powder," says the author, "and drink it off at one draught, and it will presently help you, especially if you use it three mornings together." The following is "an excellent remedy to stanch bleeding:"—

"Take a toad and dry him very well in the sun, then put him in a linen bag, and hang him with a string about the neck of the party that bleedeth, and let it hang so low that it may touch the breast on the left side near unto the heart; and this will certainly stay all manner of bleeding at the mouth, nose," &c.

Sage leaves, yarrow, and ale, are recommended for a "gnawing at the heart;" which I think should be "made a note of" for the benefit of poor poets and disappointed authors.


Mice as a Medicine (Vol. ii., pp. 397. 435.).—I was stopping about three years ago in the house of a gentleman whose cook had been in the service of a quondam Canon of Ch. Ch., who averred that she roasted mice to cure her master's children of the hooping cough. She said it had the effect of so doing.


"Many Nits, [nuts] Many Pits."

A common saying hereabouts, meaning that if hazel-nuts, haws, hips, &c., are plentiful, many deaths will occur. But whether the deaths are to be occasioned by nut-devouring or by seasonal influence, I cannot ascertain. In many places, an abundant crop of hips and haws is supposed to betoken a severe winter.


Swans hatched during Thunder.—The fable of the singing of swans at death is well known; but I recently heard a bit of "folk lore" as to the birth of swans quite as poetical, and probably equally true. It is this: that swans are always hatched during a thunderstorm. I was told this by an old man in Hampshire, who had been connected with the care of swans all his life. He, however, knew nothing about their singing at death.

Is this opinion as to the birth of swans common? If so, probably some of your numerous correspondents will detail the form in which such belief is expressed.


Snakes (Vol. ii., p. 164.).—Several years ago, in returning from an excursion from Clevedon, in Somerset, to Cadbury Camp, I saw a viper on the down, which I pointed out to the old woman in charge of the donkeys, who assailed it with a stout stick, and nearly killed it. I expressed surprise at her leaving it with some remains of life; but she said that, whatever she did to it, it would "live till sun-down, and as soon as the sun was set it would die." The same superstition prevails in Cornwall, and also in Devon.


Pixies or Piskies.—At Chudleigh Rocks I was told, a few weeks ago, by the old man who acts as guide to the caves, of a recent instance of a man's being pixy-led. In going home, full of strong drink, across the hill above the cavern called the "Pixies' Hole," on a moonlit night, he heard sweet {511} music, and was led into the whirling dance by the "good folk," who kept on spinning him without mercy, till he fell down "in a swoon."

On "coming to himself," he got up and found his way home, where he "took to his bed, and never left it again, but died a little while after," the victim (I suppose) of delirium tremens, or some such disorder, the incipient symptoms of which his haunted fancy turned into the sweet music in the night wind and the fairy revel on the heath. In the tale I have above given he persisted (said the old man), when the medical attendant who was called in inquired of him the symptoms of his illness. This occurrence happened, I understood, very recently, and was told to me in perfect good faith.

I have just been told of a man who several years ago lost his way on Whitchurch Down, near Tavistock. The farther he went the farther he had to go; but happily calling to mind the antidote "in such case made and provided," he turned his coat inside out, after which he had no difficulty in finding his way. "He was supposed," adds my informant, "to be pisky-led."

About ten miles from Launceston, on the Bodmin road (or at least in that direction) is a large piece of water called Dosmere (pronounced Dosmery) Pool. A tradition of the neighbourhood says that on the shores of this lonely mere the ghosts of bad men are ever employed in binding the sand "in bundles with beams of the same" (a local word meaning bands, in Devonshire called beans; as hay-beans, and in this neighbourhood hay-beams, for hay-bands). These ghosts, or some of them, were driven out (they say "horsewhipped out," at any rate exorcised in some sort) "by the parson" from Launceston.



Straw Necklaces (Vol. i., p. 104).—Perhaps these straw necklaces were anciently worn to preserve their possessors against witchcraft; for, till the thirteenth century, straw was spread on the floors to defend a house from the same evil agencies. Cf. Le Grand d'Aussi Vie des Anciens Francs, tom. iii. pp. 132. 134; "NOTES AND QUERIES," Vol. i., pp. 245. 294.


Breaking Judas' Bones.—On Good Friday eve the children at Boppart, on the Rhine, in Germany, have the custom of making a most horrid noise with rattles. They call it breaking the bones of Judas. Cf. "NOTES AND QUERIES," Vol. i., p. 357.



"River of Dart, oh river of Dart, Every year thou claim'st a heart."

It is said that a year never passes without the drowning of one person, at least, in the Dart. The river has but few fords, and, like all mountain streams, it is liable to sudden risings, when the water comes down with great strength and violence. Compare Chambers' Popular Rhymes, p. 8., "Tweed said to Till," &c. See also Olaus Wormius, Monumenta Danica, p. 17.

The moormen never say "the Dart," but always "Dart." "Dart came down last night—he is very full this morning." The cry of the river is the name given to that louder sound which rises toward nightfall. Cranmere Pool, the source of the Dart, is a place of punishment for unhappy spirits. They may frequently be heard wailing in the morasses there. Compare Leyden Scenes of Infancy, pp. 315, 316., &c.

* * * * *

Wescote (View of Devonshire: Exeter, 1845 (reprint), p. 348.) has a curious story of the Tamar and Torridge. It is worth comparing with a local rhyme given by Chambers, p. 26.: "Annan, Tweed, and Clyde," &c.

* * * * *

"When Haldon hath a hat Kenton may beware a skat."

This often quoted saying is curiously illustrated by a passage from the romance of Sir Gawaya and the Grene Knicht (Madden's Sir Gawaya, p. 77.):

"Mist muged on the mor, malt on the mountes, Uch hille hadde a hatte, a myst-hakel huge."

In the note on this passage Sir Frederick quotes two proverbs like the Devonshire one above. They are, however, well known, and there is no lack of similar sayings.

* * * * *

"When Plymouth was a furzy down, Plympton was a borough town."

* * * * *

When Brutus of Troy landed at Totnes, he gave the town its name; thus,—

"Here I sit, and here I rest, And this town shall be called Totnes."

* * * * *

"Crocker, Cruwys, and Coplestone, When the Conqueror came, were found at home."

* * * * *

"Who on the Sabbath pares his horn, 'Twere better for him he had never been born."

"At toto Thori die hominibus ungues secare minime licuit." —Finn Magnusen, Lex. Edd., s.v. Thor.

In the district of Bohnsland, in Sweden, in the middle of the eighteenth century, it was not thought proper to fell wood on the afternoon of Thursday. (Id.)

* * * * *

"Many slones [sloes], many groans, Many nits [nuts], many pits."

* * * * *

"When the aspen leaves are no bigger than your nail, Is the time to look out for truff and peel."

* * * * *{512}

Margaret's Flood.—Heavy rain is expected about the time of St. Margaret's day (July 20th). It is called "Margaret's flood."

* * * * *

"Widdecombe folks are picking their geese, Faster, faster, faster."

A saying among the parishes of the south coast during a snow-storm. 'Widdecombe' is "Widdecombe in the Dartmoors."

* * * * *

"Quiet sow, quiet mow."

A saying with reference to land or lease held on lives. If the seed is sown without notice of the death of the life, the corn may be reaped, although the death took place before the sowing.

* * * * *


"If they swarm in May, They're worth a pound next day. If they swarm in July, They're not worth a fly."

Bees must never be bought. It is best to give a sack of wheat for a hive.

* * * * *

Dinnick is the Devonshire name of a small bird, said to follow and feed the cuckoo.

* * * * *

A cat will not remain in a house with an unburied corpse; and rooks will leave the place until after the funeral, if the rookery be near the house.

* * * * *

It is proper to make a low bow whenever a single magpie is seen.

* * * * *

It is not considered safe to plant a bed of lilies of the valley; the person doing so will probably die in the course of the next twelve months.

* * * * *

Where the rainbow rests, is a crock of gold.

* * * * *

A cork under the pillow is a certain cure for cramp.

* * * * *

Seven different herbs must be used for making a herb poultice.

"The editor remembers a female relation of a former vicar of St. Erth, who, instructed by a dream, prepared decoctions of various herbs, and repairing to the Land's End, poured them into the sea, with certain incantations, with the expectation of seeing the Lionesse rise immediately out of the water having all its inhabitants alive, notwithstanding their long immersion."—Davies Gilbert's Cornwall, vol. iii. p. 310.

* * * * *

If the fire blazes up brightly when the crock is hung up, it is a sign there is a stranger coming.

* * * * *

Cure for Thrush.—Take the child to a running stream, draw a straw through its mouth, and repeat the verse, "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings," &c.

* * * * *

A creature of enormous size, called a "bull-frog," is believed to live under the foundation stones of old houses, hedges, &c. I remember having heard it spoken of with great awe.

* * * * *

Hen and Chickens.—In a parish adjoining Dartmoor is a green fairy ring of considerable size, within which a black hen and chickens are occasionally seen at nightfall.

The vicar of a certain Devonshire parish was a distinguished student of the black art, and possessed a large collection of mysterious books and manuscripts. During his absence at church, one of his servants visited his study, and finding a large volume open on the desk, imprudently began to read it aloud. He had scarcely read half a page when the sky became dark, and a great wind shook the house violently; still he read on; and in the midst of the storm the door flew open, and a black hen and chickens came into the room. They were of the ordinary size when they first appeared, but gradually became larger and larger, until the hen was of the bigness of a good sized ox. At this point the vicar suddenly closed his discourse, and dismissed his congregation, saying he was wanted at home, and hoped he might arrive there in time. When he entered the chamber the hen was already touching the ceiling. But he threw down a bag of rice, which stood ready in the corner; and whilst the hen and chickens were busily picking up the grains, he had time to reverse the spell.—(Ceridwer takes the form of a hen in the Hanes Taliesin.) I believe a hen and chickens is sometimes found on the bosses of early church roofs. A sow and pigs certainly are. A black sow and pigs haunt many cross roads in Devonshire.

* * * * *

The Dewerstone is a lofty mass of rock rising above the bed of the Plym, on the southern edge of Dartmoor. During a deep snow, the traces of a naked human foot and of a cloven hoof were found ascending to the highest point. The valley below is haunted by a black headless dog. Query, is it Dewerstone, Tiwes-tun, or Tiwes-stan?—(Kemble's Saxons, vol. i. p. 351.)

* * * * *

The great Cromlech at Drewsteignton is said to have been erected by three spinsters (meaning spinners); another legend says by three young men. The first is the more usual saying. The Cromlech is generally called "The Spinster's Rock." Rowe (Dartmoor, p. 99.) suggests that the three spinsters were the Valkyrien, or perhaps the Fates. He is no doubt right.

* * * * *

Rock and stone legends abound. A great quoit on the top of Heltor is said to have been thrown {513} there by the Devil during fight with King Arthur. Adin's Hole (Etin's) is the name of a sea cavern near Torquay; another is Daddy's Hole. The Devil long hindered the building of Buckfastleigh Church, which stands on the top of a steep hill. A stone, at about the distance of a mile, has the marks of his finger and thumb. The stone circles, &c. on Dartmoor, are said to have been made "when there were wolves on the hills, and winged serpents in the low lands." On the side of Belstone Tor, near Oakhampton, is a small grave circle called "Nine Stones." It is said to dance every day at noon.

* * * * *

Whoever shall find the treasure hidden in Ringmore Down, may plough with a golden plough-share, and yoke his oxen with golden cross-sticks.



The following carol has not, I believe, been printed in any of the modern collections; certainly it is not in those of Mr. Sandys and Mr. Wright. It is copied from Ad. MS. Brit. Mus. 15,225, a manuscript of the time of James I. It may, perhaps, bethought appropriate for insertion in your Christmas number. I have modernised the orthography.


Rejoice, rejoice, with heart and voice, For Christ his birth this day rejoice.


From Virgin's womb to us this day did spring The precious seed that only saved man; This day let man rejoice and sweetly sing, Since on this day salvation first began. This day did Christ man's soul from death remove, With glorious saints to dwell in heaven above.


This day to man came pledge of perfect peace, This day to man came love and unity, This day man's grief began for to surcease, This day did man receive a remedy For each offence, and every deadly sin, With guilt of heart that erst he wander'd in.


In Christ his flock let love be surely placed, From Christ his flock let concord hate expel, In Christ his flock let love be so embraced, As we in Christ, and Christ in us, may dwell. Christ is the author of all unity, From whence proceedeth all felicity.


O sing unto this glittering glorious King, And praise His name let every living thing; Let heart and voice, let bells of silver, ring, The comfort that this day to us did bring; Let lute, let shawm, with sound of sweet delight, The joy of Christ his birth this day recite.



In order that all good little boys who take an interest in the "NOTES AND QUERIES" may know how much more lucky it is for them to be little boys now, than it was in the ancient times, I would wish them to be informed of the cruel manner in which even good little boys were liable to be treated by the law of the Ripuarians. When a sale of land took place it was required that there should be twelve witnesses, and with these as many boys, in whose presence the price of the land should be paid, and its formal surrender take place; and then the boys were beaten, and their ears pulled, so that the pain thus inflicted upon them should make an impression upon their memory, and that they might, if necessary, be afterwards witnesses as to the sale and delivery of the land. (Lex Ripuarium LX., de Traditionibus et Testibus.) In a note of Balucius upon this passage he states:

"A practice somewhat similar to this prevails in our our times, for in some of the provinces, whenever a notorious criminal is condemned to death, parents bring their sons with them to the place of execution, and, at the moment that he is put to death, they whip their children with rods, so that being thus excited by their own sufferings, and by seeing the punishment inflicted on another for his sins, they may ever bear in mind how necessary it is for them, in their progress through life, to be prudent and virtuous."—Rev. Gall. et Franc. Script., vol. iv. p. 277. n.e.



Having recently met with some curious instances of the extent to which the same or similar traditions extend themselves, not only in our own country, but in Wales and France, I have "made a note" of them for your service.

Burying in the church wall is supposed to be burying in neutral ground.

In the north wall of the church of Tremeirchion, near the banks of the Elwy, North Wales (described by Pennant, vol. ii. p. 139.), is the tomb of a former vicar, Daffydd Ddu, or the black of Hiradduc, who was vicar of the parish, and celebrated as a necromancer, flourishing about 1340. Of him the tradition is, that he proved himself more clever than the Wicked One himself. A bargain was made between them that the vicar should practise the black art with impunity during his life, but that the Wicked One should possess his body after death, whether he were buried within or without the church; and that the worthy vicar cheated his ally of his bargain by being buried neither within nor without the church, but in the wall itself.

A very similar tradition exists at Brent Pelham, Hertfordshire, with reference to the tomb of Pierce Shonke, which was also in the wall. He is said to have died A.D. 1086. Under the feet of the figure {514} was a "cross flourie, and under the cross a serpent" (Weever, p. 549.), and the inscription is thus translated in Chauncy's Hertfordshire, p. 143:

"Nothing of Cadmus nor St. George, those names Of great renown, survives them, but their fames; Time was so sharp set as to make no bones Of theirs nor of their monumental stones, But Shonke one serpent kills, t'other defies, And in this wall as in a fortress lyes."

Whilst in the north wall of Rouen Cathedral is the tomb of an early archbishop, who having accidentally killed a man by hitting him with a soup ladle, because the soup given by the servant to the poor was of an inferior quality, thought himself unworthy of a resting-place within the church, and disliking to be buried without, was interred in the wall itself.

Miraculous Cures for Lameness.—The holy well Y fynnon fair, or Our Lady's Well, near Pont yr allt Goch, close to the Elwy, has to this day the reputation of curing lameness so thoroughly, that those who can reach it walking on crutches may fling their crutches away on their return home. Welsh people still come several miles over the hills to this holy spring. A whole family was there when I visited its healing waters last month.

The same virtue is ascribed at Rouen to a walk to the altar at St. Katherine's Church, at the top of St. Katherine's Hill, where the cast-off crutches have been preserved. In the latter case something less than a miracle may account for the possibility of going away without crutches; for they may be required to mount to a lofty eminence, and may well be dispensed with on coming down: but as this supposition would lessen the value of a tradition implicitly believed, of course all sensible men will reject it at once.


81. Guilford Street.


In reference to your correspondent H.G.T.'s article on pixies (Vol. ii., p. 475.), allow me to say that I have read the distich which he quotes in a tale to the following effect:—In one of the southern counties of England—(all the pixey tales which I have heard or read have their seat laid in the south of England)—there lived a lass who was courted and wed by a man who, after marriage, turned out to be a drunkard, neglecting his work, which was that of threshing, thereby causing his pretty wife to starve. But after she could bear this no longer, she dressed herself in her husband's clothes (whilst he slept off the effects of his drunkenness), and went to the barn to do her husband's work. On the morning of the second day, when she went to the barn, she found a large pile of corn threshed, which she had not done; and so she found, for three or four days, her pile of corn doubled. One night she determined to watch and see who did it, and carrying her intention into practice, she saw a little pixey come into the barn with a tiny flail, with which he set to work so vigorously that he soon threshed a large quantity. During his work he sang,

"Little Pixey, fair and slim, Without a rag to cover him."

The next day the good woman made a complete suit of miniature clothes, and hung them up behind the barn door, and watched to see what pixey would do. I forgot to mention that he hung his flail behind the door when he had done with it.

At the usual time the pixey came to work, went to the door to take down his flail, and saw the suit of clothes, took them down, and put them on him, and surveyed himself with a satisfied air, and sang

"Pixey fine, and pixie gay. Pixey now must fly away."

It then flew away, and she never saw it more.

In this tale the word was invariably spelt "pixey."


Pixies.—The puckie-stone is a rock above the Teign, near Chagford. In the Athenaeum I mentioned the rags in which the pixies generally appear. In A Narrative of some strange Events that took place in Island Magee and Neighbourhood in 1711, is this description of a spirit that troubled the house of Mr. James Hattridge:

"About the 11th of December, 1710, when the aforesaid Mrs. Hattridge was sitting at the kitchen-fire, in the evening, before daylight going, a little boy (as she and the servants supposed) came in and sat down beside her, having an old black bonnet on his head, with short black hair, a half-worn blanket about him, trailing on the ground behind him, and a torn black vest under it. He seemed to be about ten or twelve years old, but he still covered his face, holding his arm with a piece of the blanket before it. She desired to see his face, but he took no notice of her. Then she asked him several questions; viz., if he was cold or hungry? If he would have any meat? Where he came from, and where he was going? To which he made no answer, but getting up, danced very nimbly, leaping higher than usual, and then ran out of the house as far as the end of the garden, and sometimes into the cowhouse, the servants running after him to see where he would go, but soon lost sight of him; but when they returned, he would be close after them in the house, which he did above a dozen of times. At last the little girl, seeing her master's dog coming in, said, 'Now my master is coming he will take a course with this troublesome creature,' upon which he immediately went away, and troubled them no more till the month of February, 1711."

This costume is appropriate enough for an Irish spirit; but here may possibly be some connexion with the ragged clothes of the Pixies. (Comp. "Tatrman," Deutsche Mythol., p. 470.; and Canciani's note "De Simulachris de Pannis factis," Leges Barbar., iii. p. 108.; Indic. Superst.) The common story of Brownie and his clothes is, I suppose, connected. {515}

In some parts of Devonshire the pixies are called "derricks," evidently the A.-S. "doeorg." In Cornwall it is believed that wherever the pixies are fond of resorting, the depths of the earth are rich in metal. Very many mines have been discovered by their singing.



In the parish of Dean Prior is a narrow wooded valley, watered by a streamlet, that in two or three places falls into cascades of considerable beauty. At the foot of one of these is a deep hollow called the Hound's Pool. Its story is as follows.

There once lived in the hamlet of Dean Combe a weaver of great fame and skill. After long prosperity he died, and was buried. But the next day he appeared sitting at the loom in his chamber, working diligently as when he was alive. His sons applied to the parson, who went accordingly to the foot of the stairs, and heard the noise of the weaver's shuttle in the room above. "Knowles!" he said, "come down; this is no place for thee." "I will," said the weaver, "as soon as I have worked out my quill," (the "quill" is the shuttle full of wool). "Nay," said the vicar, "thou hast been long enough at thy work; come down at once!"—So when the spirit came down, the vicar took a handful of earth from the churchyard, and threw it in its face. And in a moment it became a black hound. "Follow me," said the vicar; and it followed him to the gate of the wood. And when they came there, it seemed as if all the trees in the wood were "coming together," so great was the wind. Then the vicar took a nutshell with a hole in it, and led the hound to the pool below the waterfall. "Take this shell," he said; "and when thou shalt have dipped out the pool with it, thou mayst rest—not before." And at mid-day, or at midnight, the hound may still be seen at its work.



The following popular rhymes may perhaps amuse some of your readers. They are not to be found in the article "Days Lucky or Unlucky," in Brand's Popular Antiquities, or in Sir Henry Ellis's notes (see his edition, vol. ii. p. 27.), and perhaps have never been printed:—

Days of the Week.—Marriage.

"Monday for wealth, Tuesday for health, Wednesday the best day of all; Thursday for crosses, Friday for losses, Saturday no luck at all."


"Saturday new, And Sunday full, Never was fine, And never wool."

Days of the Week.—Birth.

"Born of a Monday, Fair in face; Born of a Tuesday, Full of God's grace; Born of a Wednesday, Merry and glad; Born of a Thursday, Sour and sad; Born of a Friday, Godly given; Born of a Saturday, Work for your living; Born of a Sunday, Never shall we want; So there ends the week, And there's an end on't."

How to treat a Horse.

"Up the hill, urge him not; Down the bill, drive him not; Cross the flat, spare him not; To the hostler, trust him not."

How to sow Beans.

"One for the mouse, One for the crow, One to rot, One to grow."

January Weather.

"When the days lengthen, The colds strengthen."

Two German proverbial distiches, similar to the last, are given in Koerte's Sprichwoerter, p. 548.:

"Wenn de Dage fangt an to laengen, Fangt de Winter an to strengen."

"Wenn die Tage langen, Kommt der Winter gegangen."

With the first set of rhymes, we may compare the following verses on washing on the successive days of the week, in Halliwell's Nursery Rhymes of England, p. 42. ed. 3.:

"They that wash on Monday Have all the week to dry; They that wash on Tuesday, Are not so much awry; They that wash on Wednesday, Are not so much to blame; They that wash on Thursday, Wash for shame; They that wash on Friday, Wash in need; And they that wash on Saturday, Oh! they are sluts indeed."


* * * * *

Minor Notes.

"Passilodion" and "Berafrynde."—Have these terms, which play so memorable a part in the "Tale of King Edward and the Shepherd" {516} (Hartshorne's Ancient Metrical Tales) been explained? The shepherd's instructions (pp. 48, 49.) seem more zealous than luminous; but it has occurred to me that perhaps "passelodion," "passilodyon," or "passilodion" may have some reference to the ancient custom of drinking from a peg-tankard, since [Greek: passalos] means a peg, and [Greek: passalodia] would be a legitimate pedantic rendering of peg-song, or peg-stave, and might be used to denote an exclamation on having reached the peg.


Inscription on an Alms-dish.—In Bardsea Church, Island of Furness, is an alms-dish(?) of a large size, apparently very old, gilt, and bearing the following inscription:—


Bardsea Church is recently erected in a district taken out of Urswick parish.

Can any of your readers give an explanation of the inscription?


[This is another specimen of the alms-dishes, of which several have been described in our First Volume. The legend may be rendered, If thou wilt live long, honour God, and above all keep His commandments.]

The Use of the French Word "savez."—About fifty years ago the use of the French word savez, from the verb savoir, to know, was in general use (and probably is so at the present time) among the negroes in the island of Barbadoes,—"Me no savez, Massa," for, "I do not know, Master (or Sir)." It occurred to the writer at that time as a very singular fact, because the French had never occupied that island; nor is he aware of any French negroes having been introduced there. He had also been informed of its use in other places, but made no note of it. In the Morning Herald of the 7th instant there is a statement that the Chinese at Canton, speaking a little English, make use of the same word. Can any of your readers give an explanation of this?


Job's Luck.—I send you another version of Job's luck, in addition to those that have lately appeared in "NOTES AND QUERIES:"

"The devil engaged with Job's patience to battle, Tooth and nail strove to worry him out of his life; He robb'd him of children, slaves, houses, and cattle, But, mark me, he ne'er thought of taking his wife.

"But heaven at length Job's forbearance rewards, At length double wealth, double honour arrives, He doubles his children, slaves, houses, and herds, But we don't hear a word of a couple of wives."


The Assassination of Mountfort in Norfolk street, Strand.—The murder of Mountfort is related with great particularity in Galt's Lives of the Players, and is also detailed in, if I recollect aright, Mr. Jesse's London and its Celebrities; but in neither account is the following anecdote mentioned, the purport of which adds, if possible, to the blackness of Mohun's character:—

"Mr. Shorter, Horace Walpole's mother's father, was walking down Norfolk Street in the Strand, to his house there, just before poor Mountfort the player was killed in that street by assassins hired by Lord Mohun. This nobleman lying in for his prey, came up and embraced Mr. Shorter by mistake, saying 'Dear Mountfort.' It was fortunate that he was instantly undeceived, for Mr. Shorter had hardly reached his house before the Murder took place."—Walpoliana, vol. ii. p. 97., 2nd ed.


The Oldenburgh Horn (Vol. ii., p. 417.) is preserved amongst the antiquities in the Gallery of the King of Denmark at Copenhagen. It is of silver gilt, and ornamented in paste with enamel. It is considered by the Danish antiquaries to be of the time of Christian I., in the latter half of the fifteenth century. There are engraved on it coats of arms and inscriptions, which show that it was made for King Christian I., in honour of the three kings, or wise men, on whose festival he used it, at Cologne.


Wallington, Dec. 19. 1850.

[We avail ourselves of the opportunity afforded by Sir Walter Trevelyan's communication to add from Vulpius (Handwoerterbuch der Mythologie) the following additional references to representations and descriptions of this celebrated horn—which is there said (p. 184.) to have been found in 1639:—Schneider, Saxon. Vetust. p. 314.; Winkelmann's Oldenburgische Chronik. s. 59.; S. Meyer, Vom Oldenburgischen Wunderhorne, Bremen, 1757.]

Curious Custom.—In 1833 the late Record Commissioners issued Circular Questions to the Municipal Corporations of England and Wales, requesting various information; among such questions was the following:—"Do any remarkable customs prevail, or have any remarkable customs prevailed within memory, in relation to the ceremonies accompanying the choice of corporate officers, annual processions, feasts, &c., not noticed in the printed histories or accounts of your borough? Describe them, if there be such."

To this question the borough of Chippenham, Wilts, replied as follows:—"The corporation dine together twice a-year, and pay for it themselves!" (Report of Record Commissioners, 1837, p. 442.)


Kite (French, "Cerf-volant").—Some years ago, when reading Dr. Paris' popular work called Philosophy in Sport made Science in Earnest, 5th edition, London, J. Murray, 1842, I observed that the author could not explain the meaning of the French term "cerf-volant," applied to the toy so well known among boys in England as a "kite," and in Scotland as a "dragon." The following passages will solve this mystery: {517}

"Cerf-volant. Scarabaeus lucanus. Sorte d'insecte volant qui porte des cornes dentelees, comme celles du cerf.

"Cerf-volant. Ludicra scarabei lucani effigies. On donne ce nom a une sorte de joueet d'enfans qui est compose de quelques batons croises sur lesquels on etend du papier, et exposant cette petite machine a l'air, le moindre vent la fait voler. On la retient et on la tire comme l'on veut, par le moyen d'une longue corde qui y est attachee."—See Dictionnaire de la Langue Francoise, de Pierre Richelet; a Amsterdam, 1732.

In Kirby and Spence's Entomology, vol. ii. p. 224., they mention "the terrific and protended jaws of the stag-beetle of Europe, the Lucanus Cervus of Linnaeus."

The "toothed horns" alluded to by Richelet are represented by the pieces of stiff paper fastened at intervals, and at right angles, to the string-tail of the toy kite, or dragon, so much delighted in by boys at certain seasons of the year in England and Scotland.



Epitaph on John Randal.—As a counterpart to Palise's death, I have sent a Warwickshire epitaph, taken from Watford Magna churchyard, written about the same period:

"Here old John Randal lies, who counting by his sale, Lived three score years and ten, such virtue was in ale; Ale was his meat, ale was his drink, ale did his heart revive, And could he still have drunk his ale, he still had been alive."


Playing Cards.—As a rider to THE HERMIT OF HOLYPORT'S Query respecting his playing cards (Vol. ii., p. 462.), I would throw out a suggestion to all your readers for notices of similar emblematic playing cards: whether such were ever used for playing with? what period so introduced? and where? as both France and Spain lay claim to their first introduction. I see that Mr. Caton exhibited at one of the meetings of the Archaeological Institute this season a curious little volume of small county maps, numbered so as to serve as a pack of cards (described more fully in the Archaeological Journal for September, 1850, p 306.), and which I regret I did not see.


Wanstead, Dec. 13. 1850.

* * * * *



When passing through the city of Bruenn, in Moravia, rather more than a year ago, my attention was drawn to the Lindwurm or dragon, preserved there from a very remote period. This monster, according to tradition, was invulnerable, like his brother of Wantley, except in a few well-guarded points, and from his particular predilection in favour of veal and young children, was the scourge and terror of the neighbourhood. The broken armour and well-picked bones of many doughty knights, scattered around the entrance to the cave he inhabited, testified to the impunity with which he had long carried on his depredations, in spite of numerous attempts to destroy him. Craftiness, however, at last prevailed where force had proved of no effect, and the Lindwurm fell a victim to the skill of a knight, whose name I believe has been handed down to posterity. The mode adopted by the warrior to deceive his opponent, was to stuff, as true to nature as possible, with unslaked lime, the skin of a freshly killed calf, which he laid before the dragon's cave. The monster, smelling the skin, is said to have rushed out and instantly to have swallowed the fatal repast, and feeling afterwards, as may be readily expected, a most insatiable thirst, hurried off to a neighbouring stream, where he drank until the water, acting upon the lime, caused him to burst. The inhabitants, on learning the joyful news, carried the knight and the Lindwurm in triumph into the city of Bruenn, where they have ever since treasured up the memento of their former tyrant. The animal, or reptile, thus preserved, is undoubtedly of the crocodile or alligator species, although I regret it was not in my power to examine it more particularly, evening having set in when I saw it in the arched passage leading to the town-hall of the city where it has been suspended. I fear also that any attempt to count the distinguishing bones would be fruitless, the scaly back having been covered with a too liberal supply of pitch, with the view to protection from the weather.

Have any of your readers seen this Lindwurm under more favourable circumstances than myself, and can they throw any light on the genus to which it belongs?

May not the various legends respecting dragons, &c., have their origin from similar circumstances to those of this Bruenn Lindwurm, which I take to leave strong proof of fact, the body being there? Perhaps some of our correspondents may have it in their power to give further corroborative evidence of the former existence of dragons under the shape of crocodiles. The description of the Wantley dragon tallies with that of the crocodile very nearly.

R.S., Jun.

* * * * *


Can any of your numerous valuable correspondents give me the correct date, or any clue to it, of the above dance. There is little doubt of its great antiquity. The dance is begun by a single person (either a woman or man), who {518} dances about the room with a cushion in his hand, and at the end of the tune stops and sings:

"This dance it will no further go!"

[The Musician answers.]

"I pray you, good sir, why say you so?"


"Because Joan Sanderson will not come to!"


"She must come to, and she shall come to, And she must come whither she will or no."

He now lays down the cushion before a woman, on which she kneels, and he kisses her, singing:

"Welcome, Joan Sanderson, welcome, welcome."

She rises with the cushion, and both dance about, singing:

"Prinkum-prankum is a fine dance, And shall we go dance it once again, And once again, And shall we go dance it once again?"

Then making a stop, the woman sings, as before:

"This dance it will no further go!"


"I pray you, madam, why say you so?"


"Because John Sanderson will not come to."


"He must come to," &c.

And so she lays down the cushion before a man, who, kneeling, upon it, salutes her, she singing:

"Welcome, John Sanderson," &c.

Then, he taking up the cushion, they take hands, and dance round, singing as before: and this they do till the whole company is taken into the ring. Then the cushion is laid down before the first man, the woman singing, "This dance," &c. (as before), only instead of "Come to," they sing "Go fro," and instead of "Welcome, John Sanderson," &c., they sing, "Farewell, John Sanderson, farewell," &c.: and so they go out, one by one, as they came in. This dance was at one time highly popular, both at court and in the cottage, in the latter of which, in some remote country villages, it is still danced. Selden, in his Table Talk, thus refers to it:

"The court of England is much altered. At a solemn dancing, first you have the grave measures, then the Corvantoes and the Galliards, and this is kept up with ceremony, at length to Trenchmore and the Cushion dance; and then all the company dance, lord and groom, lady and kitchen-maid, no distinction. (Would our fair Belgravians of 1850 condescend to dance with their kitchen-maids?) So in our court in Queen Elizabeth's time, gravity and state were kept up. In King James's time, things were pretty well. But in King Charles's time there has been nothing but Trenchmore and the Cushion dance," &c.

I shall also feel obliged for the date of Bab at the Bowster, or Bab in the Bowster, as it is called in Scotland. Jamieson, in his Dictionary, describes it as a very old Scottish dance, and generally the last danced at weddings and merry-makings. It is now danced with a handkerchief in place of a cushion; and no words are used. That a rhyme was formerly used, there is little doubt. Query, What were the words of this rhyme?



* * * * *


I observe a querist wishes to know the artist of the portrait of Bunyan prefixed to his works. I can only myself conjecture Cooper, the miniature painter, but I am also curious about the great author of The Pilgrim's Progress.

First, is Bunyan really the author of "Heart's Ease in Heart's Trouble," and the "Visions of Heaven and Hell," published in his works, and perhaps, excepting "Grace Abounding," the most popular of his received miscellanies? I think not. My reasons are these. The style is very different, and much poorer than his best works. In the "Progress," when he quotes Latin, he modestly puts a side-note [The Latin that I borrow]. In the two tracts mentioned he flashes out a bit of Latin two or three times where he might have much better used English, or in a superfluous way. Also it is curious to know that in his "Visions of Hell" he meets Leviathan Hobbes, the philosopher of Malmesbury. The passage is curious, for if true, and written by Bunyan, it proves him to be personally acquainted with Hobbes. I extract it. After hearing his name called out, Epenetus (the author and visitant of the infernal regions) naturally inquires who it is that calls him. He is answered,—

"I was once well acquainted with you on earth, and had almost persuaded you to be of my opinion. I am the author of that celebrated book, so well known by the title of Leviathan!

"'What! the great Hobbes,' said I, 'are you come hither? Your voice is so much changed, I did not know it.'"

The dialogue which ensues is not worth quoting, as it is from our purpose. But I would ask when was the time when Bunyan "was nearly persuaded to be of Hobbes' opinion?" If he is the author and speaks the truth (and he is notoriously truthful), it must have been in early youth; but surely the philosopher of Malmesbury could not know an obscure tinker. Bunyan cannot speak metaphorically, for he had not read the Leviathan, since he mentions that his only reading in early life, i.e. when he was likely to have embraced freethinking, was the Practice of Piety, and the Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven, his wife's dowry. {519} Moreover, he notes particularly the change of voice, a curious circumstance, which testifies personal acquaintance. Hobbes died in 1679; Bunyan in 1688. Were they intimate?


* * * * *

Minor Queries.

Boiling to Death.—Some of your correspondents have communicated instances where burning to death was inflicted as a punishment; and MR. GATTY suggests that it would prove an interesting subject for inquiry, at what period such barbarous inflictions ceased. In Howe's Chronicle I find the two following notices:

"The 5th of Aprill (1532) one Richard Rose, a cooke, was boiled in Smithfielde, for poisoning of divers persons, to the number of sixteen or more, at ye Bishop of Rochester's place, amongst the which Benet Curwine, gentleman, was one, and hee intended to have poisoned the bishop himselfe, but hee eate no potage that day, whereby hee escaped. Marie the poore people that eate of them, many of them died."—Howe's Chronicle, p. 559.

"The 17th March (1542) Margaret Dany, a maid, was boiled in Smithfield for poisoning of three households that shee had dwelled in."—Howe's Chronicle, p. 583.

Query, was this punishment peculiar to cooks guilty of poisoning? And when did the latest instance occur?


Meaning of "Mocker."—To-day I went into the cottage of an old man, in the village of which I am curate, and finding him about to cut up some wood, and he being very infirm, I undertook the task for him, and chopped up a fagot for his fire.

During the progress of my work, the old fellow made the following observation:—

"Old Nannie Hawkins have got a big stick o' wood, and she says as I shall have him for eight pence. If I could get him, I'd soon mocker him."

Upon my asking him the meaning of the word mocker, he informed me it meant to divide or cleave in pieces; but, not being "a scholar" as he termed it, he could not tell me how to spell it, so I know not whether the orthography I have adopted is correct or not.

Can any of your readers give me a clue to the derivation of this word? I certainly never heard it before.

I ought perhaps to state, that this is a country parish in Herefordshire.


Pembridge, Dec. 16.

"Away, let nought to love displeasing".—Is it known who was the author of the song to be found in Percy's Reliques, and many other collections, beginning—

"Away, let nought to love displeasing."

The first collection, so far as I know, in which it appears is entitled Miscellaneous Poems by several Hands, published by D. Lewis, London, 1726; and in this work it is called a translation from the ancient British. Does this mean a translation of an ancient poem, or a translation of a poem written in some extant dialect of the language anciently spoken in Britain? Either would appear to me incredible.

As I feel much interested in the poetry of English songs, can you or any of your correspondents inform me if there exists any good collection; that is, a collection, of such only as are excellent of their respective kinds? That the English language possesses materials for forming such a collection, and an extensive one too, I have no doubt, though I have never met with one. And, if there be none that answers the description I give, I should be glad of information respecting the best that exist.

It is scarcely necessary to add, that my standard of excellence would admit only those which bore the character of "immortal verse," rejecting such as had been saved merely by the music to which they had been "married."


Dec. 14. 1850.

Baron Muenchausen.—Who was the author of this renowned hero's adventures? The Conversations-Lexicon (art. Muenchausen) states that the stories are to be found under the title of "Mendacia Ridicula," in vol. iii. of Deliciae Academicae, by J.P. Lange (Heilbronn, 1665); and that "at a later period they appeared in England, where a reviewer supposed them to be a satire on the ministry." I remember to have read when a boy (I think in The Percy Anecdotes), that the book was written by an Englishman who was styled "M——," and was described as having been long a prisoner in the Bastille.

Since writing thus far I have seen the note by J.S. (Vol. ii., pp. 262-3.) on Muenchausen's story of the horn. The idea of sounds frozen in the air, and thawed by returning warmth, was no invention of "Castilian, in his Aulicus" (i.e. Castiglione, author of Il Cortegiano); for, besides that, it is found in his contemporary Rabelais (liv. iv. cc. 55-6), I believe it may be traced to one of the later Greek writers, from whom Bishop Taylor, in one of his sermons, borrows it as an illustration.


"Sing Tantararara Rogues all," &c.—The above is the chorus of many satirical songs written to expose the malpractices of peculators, &c. Can any of your readers point out who was the author of the original song, and where it is to be found?


Meaning of "Cauking."—An old dame told me the other day, in Cheshire, that her servant was a {520} good one, and among other good qualities "she never went cauking into the neighbours' houses." Unde derivatur "cauking?"


* * * * *



(Vol. ii., p. 476.)

The proverb, "As wise as the men of Gotham." is given in Fuller's Worthies (ed. 1662, pp. 315, 316.). Ray, in his note upon this, observes

"It passeth for the Periphrasis of a fool, and an hundred fopperies are feigned and fathered on the townsfolk of Gotham, a village in this county [Nottinghamshire]. Here two things may be observed:

"1. Men in all ages have made themselves merry with singling out some place, and fixing the staple of stupidity and solidity therein. So the Phrygians in Asia, the Abderitae in Thrace, and Boeotians in Greece, were notorious for dulmen and blockheads.

"2. These places thus slighted and scoffed at, afforded some as witty and wise persons as the world produced. So Democritus was an Abderite, Plutarch a Boeotian, &c.

"As for Gotham, it doth breed as wise people as any which causelessly laugh at their simplicity. Sure I am Mr. William de Gotham, fifth Master of Michael House in Cambridge, 1336, and twice Chancellor of the University, was as grave a governor as that age did afford."—3d. ed. p. 258.

In Thoroton's Nottinghamshire, vol. i. pp. 42, 43., the origin of the saying, as handed down by tradition, is thus given:—King John intending to pass through this place towards Nottingham, was prevented by the inhabitants, they apprehending that the ground over which a king passed was for ever after to become a public road. The king, incensed at their proceedings, sent from his court, soon afterwards, some of his servants to inquire of them the reason of their incivility and ill-treatment, that he might punish them. The villagers hearing of the approach of the king's servants, thought of an expedient to turn away his majesty's displeasure from them. When the messengers arrived at Gotham, they found some of the inhabitants engaged in endeavouring to drown an eel in a pool of water; some were employed in dragging carts upon a large barn, to shade the wood from the sun; and others were engaged in hedging a cuckoo, which had perched itself upon an old bush. In short, they were all employed upon some foolish way or other, which convinced the king's servants that it was a village of fools.

Should J.R.M. not yet have seen it, I beg to refer him to Mr. Halliwell's interesting edition of The Merry Tales of the Wise Men of Gotham (Lond. 1840) for fuller and further particulars.


* * * * *

Replies To Minor Queries.

Master John Shorne.—As neither MR. THOMS' Notes (Vol. ii., p. 387.) nor MR. WAY'S (p. 450.) mention where this reputed saint lived, or speak of him as connected with Buckinghamshire, I will offer an extract from Lysons in the hope of casting some little light on the subject.

"North Marston.—The church is a handsome Gothic structure; there is a tradition that the chancel was built with the offerings at the shrine of Sir John Shorne, a very devout man, of great veneration with the people, who was rector of North Marston about the year 1290, and it is said that the place became populous and flourishing in consequence of the great resort of persons to a well which he had blessed. This story stands upon a better foundation than most vulgar traditions; the great tithes of North Marston are still appropriated to the dean and canons of Windsor, who, before the Reformation, might without difficulty have rebuilt the chancel, as it is very probable they did, with the offerings at the shrine of Sir John Shorne, for we are told that they were so productive, that on an average they amounted to 500l. per annum.[1] Sir John Shorne, therefore, although his name is not to be found, appears to have been a saint of no small reputation. The common people in the neighbourhood still keep up his memory by many traditional stories. Browne Willis, says, that in his time there were people who remembered a direction-post standing, which pointed the way to Sir John Shorne's shrine."[2]

North Marston, formerly Merston, is about four miles from Winslow. I visited it about a year ago, and drank of the well, or spring, which is about a quarter of a mile from the village; but I know nothing of the traditions alluded to by Lysons. The chancel of the church is a fine specimen of perpendicular style, with a vestry of the same date, and of two stories, with a fireplace in each. I do not find North Marston, in Bucks, mentioned in Leland, Camden, or Defoe, nor can I meet with any account of Sir John Shorne in any books of English saints within my reach. A copy of Browne Willis's MSS. may be seen in the British Museum.


[Footnote 1: History of Windsor, p. 111.]

[Footnote 2: B. Willis's MSS., Bodleian Library.]

For the information of those who may not have the Norfolk Archaeology to refer to, let me add that John Shorne appears to have been rector of North Marston, in Buckinghamshire, about the year 1290, "and was held in great veneration for his virtues, which his benediction had imparted to a holy well in his parish, and for his miracles, one of which, the feat of conjuring the devil into a boot, was considered so remarkable that it was represented in the east window of his church."


Antiquity of Smoking.—The passage is in Herodian. In the time of Commodus there was a {521} pestilence in Italy. The emperor went to Laurentum for the benefit of the smell of the laurel trees.

"In ipsa quoque urbe de medicorum sententia plerique unguentis suavissimus nares atque aures opplebant, suffituque[3] et odoramentis assidua utebantur, quod meatus sensuum (ut quidem dicunt) odoribus illis occupati, neque admittant aera tabificum: et si maxime admiserint, tamen eum majore quasi vi longe superari."

This has nothing to do with the practice of smoking, nor is it clear that they smoked these things with a pipe into the mouth at all. The medical use of fumigation, as Sir William Temple observes, was greatly esteemed among the ancients. But it is very probable that, being sometimes practised by means of pipes, it was what led to the practice of smoking constantly, either for general medical protection, or merely for luxury, in countries and times too, when these epidemics from bad air were very common. The great love of smoking among the Turks may be originally owing to the plague.


[Footnote 3: [Greek: "thumiamasi te kai aromasi sunechos echronto."]]

Antiquity of Smoking (Vol. ii., pp. 41. 216. 465.).—Mr. Lane, in his edition of the Arabian Nights, infers the very late date of that book from there being no mention of tobacco or coffee in it.

As two of the ancient authorities have broken down, it occurred to me that others might.

The reference to Strabo, vii. 296. leads me only to this; that the Mysians were called [Greek: kapnobatai] (some correct to [Greek: kapnopatai]) because they did not eat animals, but milk, cheese, and honey; but of religion, living quietly.

One cannot imagine that this can be meant. I referred to Almaloveen's edition, the old paging.

In the next page he repeats the epithet, coupling it, as before, with the word religious, and arguing from both as having the same meaning.

It occurred to me that somebody might have read [Greek: kapnopotai], "fumum bibentes," which might have given occasion to the reference to this passage: and I find in the English Passow that [Greek: kapnobotai], "smoke-eaters," has been proposed.

[Greek: Kapnopatai], is there derived from [Greek: paomai].

But if these are the readings, they can have nothing to do with smoking, but with religion. From the context they would mean as we say, "living on air;" like Democritus, who subsisted three days upon the steam of new loaves.

[Greek: Kapnobatai] meant, as I believe, to describe their religiousness more directly; treading on the clouds, living in the air: like Socrates in Aristophanes, [Greek: Neph]. 225.:

[Greek: "Aerobato kai periphrono ton helion,"]

And in v. 330. [Greek: kapnos] is used of the clouds:

[Greek: "Ma Di all homichlen kai droson autas hegoumen kai kapnon einai."]

There is nothing in Solinus, cap. 15.; and Mela, lib. ii., is too wide a reference.


Meaning of the Word "Thwaites"(Vol. ii., p. 441.).—The word "Thwayte" occurred in the ancient form of the Bidding Prayer: "Ye shalle byddee for tham, that this cherche honour with book, with bell, with vestiments, with Thwayte," &c. This form is said to be above four hundred years old; and Palmer says (Orig. Lit., iii. p. 60.) that we have memorials of these prayers used in England in the fourteenth century. Hearne remarks that the explication of this word warranted by Sir E. Coke is "a wood grubbed up and turned to arable." This land being given to any church, the donors were thus commended by the prayers of the congregation.

In Yorkshire the word is so understood: Thwaite, or "stubbed ground, ground that has been essarted or cleaned."

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