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Have you any old bootes,
old shoes ;
for new broomes ?
I pray you bring hither,
May bargen together.
These lines may seem silly and uncouth to modern judgments; but will the most favoured ditties of Haynes Bayley appear otherwise two hundred years hence ?
PROOFS OF NOBILITY. “ THERE are gentlemen,” says Menage, “who can produce no other proof of the nobility of their lineage, than the sentence by which some one of their ancestors was doomed to lose his head on the scaffold.”
The remark comes quite home to us in Scotland. Our greatest record of family antiquity is the Ragman Roll, a deed as disgraceful in itself
· Beloe's Anecdotes of Literature, vol. ii. pp. 23, 24. 2 Menagiana, t. iii. p. 455.
as its name is barbarous, which preserves lists of all the nobles and gentry in Scotland who swore fealty to the English Usurper in 1292 and 1296. Nor is the observation less applicable to our English neighbours. “ In this country," writes a professed genealogist, “ it may be said that a family can have little claim to antiquity, if it cannot prove an attainder. Lord Chief Justice Crew (in the time of Charles I.), in delivering the opinion of the judges to the House of Lords on the disputed succession to the earldom of Oxford, after having alluded to the rank of the De Veres for above five centuries, stated by way of commendation, that he found but two attainders of that noble family in all that length of time.”l
OF EATING BOOKS AND PAPERS.
JOHN-CHARLES-CONRAD ELRICHS, a German bibliographer, who died in 1798, wrote, among other works, Dissertatio de Bibliothecarum ac Librorum fatis, imprimis Libris comestis," A Dissertation on the fate of Libraries and Books, and particularly of Books which have been eaten.” This piece, which it has not been my good fortune to see, is said to be prefixed to the Catalogue de la Bibliotheque de Jacques de Perard, printed at Berlin in 1756. The second part, it is said, treats of authors condemned to eat the books which they have written; a singular punishment, and apparently akin to that which the ancients inflicted on evil authors, by making them efface their compositions with their tongues.
1 Origines Genealogicae, p. 183.
Works of history or fiction record many instances of persons compelled to devour writings. Malone refers to Mill's Discourse of the Antiquity of the Star Chamber for an account of the manner in which one of the attendants of Bogo de Clare was forced to eat the parchment and seals of a citation of which he was the bearer. This was in 1290 ; and in the succeeding century another instance is furnished by Italian chronicles. His Holiness Pope Urban V., who reigned from the year 1362 to the year 1370, issued a bull of excommunication against Barnabas Visconti, and sent two legates to bear it to him ; but Barnabas forced the messengers to eat in his presence the parchment on which the bull was written, together with the leaden seals and silken strings.2
More than one instance occurs in our Scottish annals. In the year 1547, a citation was issued against the Lord Borthwick by the official of the see of Saint Andrews, together with letters of
* Ancient British Drama, vol. i. p. 325. Lond. 1810.
2 Sismondi's History of the Italian Republics, p. 174. Lond. 1832.
excommunication against certain contumacious wit
William Langlands, an appariter or macer, presented these letters to the curate of Borthwick, that he might publish them in his church on the next Sunday, being the fifteenth of May, before high mass. The curate wished the publication to be deferred till the end of that service, and gave him back the letters; but, in the mean time, came the Abbot of Unreason or Lord of Misrule of Borthwick, with his retinue, and seizing the officer, carried him to a neighbouring mill-dam and compelled him to leap into the water. “ And,” says the deed which records the outrage, “ when he had leapt into the water, the said Abbot of Unreason said he was not wet enough, nor deep enough, and therewithal cast him down into the water by the shoulders.” The appariter, escaping from their hands, returned to the church and delivered his letters to the curate ; but “ the said Abbot of Unreason came and took the letters out of the curate's hand, and gave the officer a glass full of wine, and tore the letters and ground them among the wine, and caused the officer drink the wine and eat the letters, and said if any more letters came there, so long as he was Lord or Abbot, they should go the same way.” The burghers of Jedburgh treated
1 Sir Walter Scott's Prose Works, vol. vii. p. 205.
a messenger of Queen Mary in the same manner. “ About July 1571,” says Bannatyne, ane purse: vant being sent from the new erected auctority in Edinburgh, to proclame the same in Jedburgh, was sufferit to reid his letteris till it come to this poynt,
that the lordes assembled in Edinburgh had fund all thingis done and proceаdit against the quene null; and that all men suld obey hir only.' When, I say, he had redd this farre, the prowest caused the pursevant cum dovn of the croce, and causit him eat his letteris : and therefter lowsit down his poyntis, and gave him his wages with a brydle, thretning him, that gif ever he cum agane he suld lose his lyfe."! It was apparently only a few years after this incident that Sir Robert Gordon of Lochinvar, having harried Annandale, was declared an outlaw, and a strong party was sent to take him ; but “ he audaciously deforced the soldiers, laid violent hands on the officer who commanded them, and made him eat and swallow his Majesty's warrant for apprehending him.”2 : In England the jest seems to have been very popular. It occurs in the old romance of the History of George-a-Greene, that valorous Pinner of Wakefield, who, we are told, when a haughty messenger
1 Richard Bannatyne's Journal of the Transactions in Scotland, p. 243. Edinb. 1806. 2 Douglas' Peerage of Scotland, p. 370.