Page images

These are rare instances, it is to be feared : the case of Madame de Genlis is perhaps less singular. In her latter years, this poor lady, not content with wholesale plagiarisms from Rousseau and Voltaire, took to filching from herself, and, under a different title, would publish the same work twice or thrice. She engaged to compile for a bookseller a Manuel Encyclopédique de l’Enfance. The manuscript was put into his hands; the stipulated price of four hundred francs was paid ; and the work was about to be sent to the press, when the publisher discovered that it was nothing but an exact copy of a book on the same subject which Madame de Genlis had published ten years ago. It was in vain that he demanded restitution of his francs; and the authoress of Adèle et Théodore was dragged before the courts to hear them decide against her.


BYRON has called this great Transatlantic orator

the forest-born Demosthenes,
Whose thunder shook the Philip of the seas.”2
The allusion is to a famous speech in the Virginia
Assembly in 1765. “ Caesar had his Brutus,”-said

· Biog. Univ. t. Ixv. p. 220.

2 The Age of Bronze, st. viii. i Wirt's Sketches of the Life and Character of Patrick Henry, p. 53. Philadelphia, 1838.

Henry,“ Charles the First, his Cromwell,—and George the Third—” “Treason!” cried the speaker; and Treason! Treason! was echoed from all sides. “ And George the Third,” continued Henry, “ may profit by their example.” The revelations of an indiscreet biographer go far to mar the effect of this bold burst. He tells us that Henry's pronunciation was so depraved that he has been heard to say, “ Naiteral parts is better than all the larnin

upon yearth."



The provincial journals of England frequently give instances of a drunken boor driving his wife to market, placing a halter round her neck, and selling her to a neighbour for a shilling. The practice, like most others, seems to have descended to the dregs from the cream of society. In the reign of Edward I. it prevailed among persons of noble and knightly rank, as we learn from a deed still preserved, which may be thus translated :

“ To all good Christians to whom this writ shall come, John de Camoys, son and heir of Sir Ralph de Camoys, greeting : Know me to have delivered and yielded up of my own free will to Sir William de Paynel, knight, my wife Margaret de Camoys, daughter and heiress of Sir John de Gatesden; and likewise to have given and granted to the said Sir William, and to have made over and quit-claimed all goods and chattels which the said Margaret has or may have, or which I may claim in her right; so that neither I, nor any one in my name, shall at any time hereafter be able to claim any right to the said Margaret, or to her goods and chattels or their pertinents. And I consent and grant, and by this writ declare, that the said Margaret shall abide and remain with the said Sir William during his pleasure. In witness of which, I have placed my seal to this deed before these witnesses : Thomas de Depeston, John de Ferrings, William de Icombe, Henry le Biroun, Stephen Chamberlayne, Walter le Blound, Gilbert de Batecumbe, Robert de Bosco, and others.”]

The transaction was brought before parliament in the year 1302, when the grant was declared to be null and void.

Grimaldi's Origines Genealogicae, pp. 22, 23. London, 1828. 4to.


CANT. ETYMOLOGISTS have traced the obnoxious words Bigot and Cant to a base origin. The first is said to have been coined by the English in derision of the Normans, who, after their conversion to the true faith, distinguished themselves, like most new converts, by enthusiasm and extravagance. Their cri de guerre was Dex aïe ; and God's name was so often in their mouths that “ les Anglais et ensuite les Français leur donnèrent le sobriquet de bigots, c'est-à-dire, gens qui font tout par Dieu, qui parlent toujours de Dieu ; des deux mots anglais by God

par Dieu.”

“Cant," says Sir Richard Steele, “is by some people derived from one Andrew Cant, who they say was a presbyterian minister in some illiterate part of Scotland, who by exercise and use had obtained the faculty, alias gift, of talking in the pulpit in such a dialect that it is said he was understood by none but his own congregation, and not by all of them. Since Master Cant's time it has been understood in a larger sense, and signifies all sudden exclamations, whin

Mémoire sur les Trouvères Normands, par M. Pluquet ; Mémoires de la Soc. des Antiq. de la Normandie, t. i.

p. 376.

ings, unusual tones, and, in fine, all praying and preaching like the unlearned of the presbyte

rians.” 1

The man to whose name we owe so popular a monosyllable was born in the year 1584, probably of obscure parents. He was educated at the university of Aberdeen, where he became a teacher of Latin in 1614. In a few years he was promoted to a country benefice, though he was known to be an enemy to the episcopal form of church government then established. His ordinary, “Bishop Patrick Forbes, did tolerate him," says a contemporary, “and his want of learning to maintain his opinions, made him contemptible to the learned doctors of Aberdeen, who took no notice of him.” The populace were less tolerant, for his induction into his parsonage was tumultuously opposed, and a ballad commemorating the riot has been preserved. It treats Cant with slender respect, giving him the nickname of Bobbing Andrew. But he was destined to figure in a higher sphere. In the beginning of the civil dissensions of Charles's time, he is found prominent in the councils of the puritans, by whom he was sent forth to preach up their doctrines, and so gained the title


1 The Spectator, No. 147. 18th August, 1711.
2 Gordon's Memoirs of Scots Affairs, MS.
3 Buchan's Ancient Ballads, vol. ii. pp. 266, 317.

« PreviousContinue »