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Origin of the Custom of Drinking for Sheriffs of the City of London. DOME time in the month of July, 1585, when the companies were feasting in their several halls, Sir Edward Osborne, then Lord Mayor, with several of the Aldermen and the Recorder, dined at Haberdashers' Hall. After the second course was served up, the chief magistrate took the great cup, the gift of Sir Wm. Garret, which being filled with hippocras,* he stood up, and, silence being commanded, expressed himself aloud in these words :
“Mr. Recorder of London, and you my good brethren the Aldermen, bear' witness that I drink unto Mr. Alderman Massam, as Sheriff of London and Middlesex, from Michaelmas next coming, for one whole year; and I do beseech God to give him as quiet and peaceable a year, with as good and gracious favour of her Majesty, as I myself, and my brethren the Sheriffs now being, have hitherto had, and as I trust shall have.”
Having thus spoken, all the company present pledged the same health. The Sword-bearer upon this repaired to Grocers' Hall, where Mr. Alderman Massam was at dinner, and repeated the words which the Lord Mayor had used. The Alderman made this modest reply:
« First, I thank God, who, through his great goodness, hath called me from a very poor and mean degree unto this worshipful state. Secondly, I thank her Majesty for her gracious goodness in allowing us these great and ample franchises. And, thirdly, I thank my Lord Mayor for having so honourable an opinion of this my company of Grocers, as to make choice of me, being a poor member of the same."
He and all the company then pledged his Lordship’s health, and returned him their thanks.
The Origin of the Custom of making Persons suspected of Murder touck
the murdered Body, for the Discovery of their Guilt or Innocence. THIS way of finding murderers was practised in Denmark, by King Christianus II. and permitted all over his kingdom, the occa. sion whereof is this ; certain gentlemen being on an evening to
gether in a stove or tavern, fell out among themselves, and from words grew to blows, (the candles being out) insomuch that one of them was stabbed with a poniard. Now the murderer was unknown, by reason of the number, although the person stabbed accused a pursuivant of the King's, who was one of the company.
The King, to find out the homicide, caused them all to come together in the stove, and standing all round the dead corpse, he commanded that they should, one after another, lay their right hand on the slain gentleman's naked breast, swearing that they
* Hippocras is a drink or beverage composed of wine, with spices and other ingredients infused therein; used by the French by way of dram alter meals. VOL. 2.-30. 7.
had had not killed him; the gentlemen did so, and no sign appeared against them, the pursuivant only remained, who, condemned be fore in his own conscience, went first of all and kissed the dead man's feet, but as soon as he laid his hand on his breast, the blood gushed forth in abundance both out of his wound and his nostrils, so that, urged by this evident accusation, he confessed the murder, and was by the King's own sentence immediately beheaded.
Hence the origin of the practice, which was known so common in many of the countries of Europe, for finding out unknown mura derers.
A SINGULAR CHALLENGE. A Letter from Sir William Herbert, of St. Julian's, in Monmouthshire,
Father-in-law to the famous Lord Herbert, of Cherbury, to a gentleman of the name of Morgan.
sir, N. B. The original is in the British Museum. « PERUSE this letter in God's name. Be not disquieted. I reverence your hoary hair. Although in your son I find too much folly, and lewdness, yet in you I expect gravity and wisdom.
“It hath pleased your son, late, at Bristol, to deliver a challenge to a man of mine, on the behalf of a gentleman (as he said) as good as myself; who he was he named not, neither do I know; but if he be as good as myself, it must either be for virtue, for birth, for ability, or for calling and dignity. For virtue I think he meant not, for it is a thing which exceeds his judgment: if for birth, he must be the heir male of an Earl, the heir in blood of ten Earls; for, in testimony thereof I bear their several coats. Besides, he must be of the blood royal, for by my grand-mother Devereux, I am lineally and legitimately descended out of the body of Edward IV. If for ability, he must have a thousand pounds a year in possession, a thousand pounds more in expectation, and must have some thousands in substance besides. If for calling and dignity, he must be knight, or lord of several seignories in several kingdoms, a lieutenant of his county, and a counsellor of a province.
“Now, to lay all circumstances aside, be it known to your son, or to any man else, that if there be any one who beareth the name of gentleman, and whose words are of reputation in his county, that doth say, or dare say, that I have done unjustly, spoken an untruth, stained my credit and reputation in this matter, or in any matter else, wherein your son is exasperated, I say he lieth in his throat, and my sword shall maintain my word upon him, in any place or province, wheresoever he dare, and where I stand not sworn to observe the peace. But if they be such as are within my governance, and over whom I have authority, I will, for their re, formation, chastise them with justice, and for their malaport misdemeanor bind them to their good behaviour. Of this sort I ac, count your son, and his like; against whom I will shortly issue my warrant, if this my warning doth not reform them. And so I thought fit to advertise you hereof, and leave you to God.” I am, &c.
IGNORANCE OF THE TURKS. L. NIEBUHR, in his travels through Egypt, gives some curious instances of the ignorance and superstition of the Turks in that country. During the whole journey, his measuring apparatus, he says, was viewed by them with peculiar fear and distrust. At Alexandria, a Turkish merchant observing our traveller direct his instrument towards the city, had the curiosity to look through the glass, and observing, with surprise, that a tower appeared inverted, spread a report, that the strangers (meaning Niebuhr and his companions) were come to overturn the city
At another place, an honest peasant, who had attended their operations for some time, was so terrihed at seeing in the glass his native village turned upside down, that he requested a respite for a few minutes, till he could rescue his wife and cow from the de struction which seemed impending,
The following extract from Dr. Crichton's Enquiry into Mental Derangement, proves that the reproach is anatomically correct, when applied to those who labour under a defect of intellect: i
“ It is very remarkable, that the skulls of the greater number of such patients are commonly very thick; nay, some have been found of a most extraordinary degree of thickness. Among two hundred and sixteen patients of this description, whose bodies were inspected after death, there were found one hundred and sixty-seven whose skulls were unusually thick, and only thirty-eight thin ones; among which last number there was one which was much thicker on the right side than on the left. But in particular it was observed, that among one hundred raving madmen, seventy-eight had very thick skulls, and twenty very thin ones; among which skulls there was one quite soft. Among twenty-six epileptic raving madmen, there were nineteen found with very thick skulls, and four very thin; among sixteen epileptic ideots there were fourteen, and among twenty epileptic patients, sixteen who had very thick skulls; among whom there was one discovered, one side of whose skull was thick and the other thin. Among twenty-four melancholic patients, there were eighteen with very thin skulls; and lastly, among thirty ideots, twenty-two with very thick, and six with very thin skulls. All the others had skulls of a natural thick
PROFESSIONAL CONFIDENCE. There is no profession, perhaps, whom it more concerns to remember Cicero's observation than that of medicine; Ninil tam veleri quam ne dubitari aliqua de re viderentur ; that they should fear nothing so much as to appear to doubt about any thing. There 62
stands upon record, an honest apothecary, whose wisdom in this respect may claim notice. He knew the mischievous consequences of seeming at a loss in any thing. When his boy therefore sent away a customer unserved, who enquired for plantane-water, with an excuse that they had none, “Sirrah,” said he, “ though you could find no aqua plantaginis in the shop, you might have found aqua pumpaginis enough in the yard, and that would have done just as well.”
PROSPERITY. PROSPERITY too often has the same effect on a Christian, that a calm at sea hath on a Dutch mariner, who frequently, it is said, in those circumstances, ties up the rudder, gets drunk, and goes to sleep.
. TEMPERANCE. It is worthy particular observation, that all those persons who are represented in history to have been gluttons and epicures, were in other things also men of depraved and vicious morals. Claudius, Heliogabalus, Caligula, Vitellius, Tiberius, Verus, Clodius the tragedian, &c. And that on the other hand, the most abstemious men were persons of Virtue and benevolence. Augustus, Paulus Æmilius, Alexander Leverus, Epaminondas, Socrates, &c.
JESTING. An habit of jesting leads into many scrapes: but the most serious surely that ever attended it, is one recorded by Speed, in the reign of Edward IV. when a citizen in Cheapside was executed as a traitor, for saying that he would make his son heir to the Crown; though he meant the public-house of which he was the landlord, and which had a crown for its sign.
CONFUSION OF IDEAS. A few Sundays ago, the clerk of a parish in the North of England, rose up after the Litany, and called out, “ Let us sing to the praise and glory of God. The gentlemen of the parish are desired to meet after evening service, on business of importance:-Part of the hundred and fifteenth Psalm.”
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. · I knew at London, (says Voltaire) a physician of the name of Brown, who had practised at Barbadoes. He had a sugar-work and negroes; and having been robbed of a considerable sum, he called together his slaves. " My Friends," said he, “ the great Serpent appeared to me during the night, and told me that the person who stole my money should at this instant have a parrot's feather at the point of his nose.” The thief immediately put his hand up to his nose. “ It is you," cried the master, “that robbed me, the great Serpent has just now told me so." By this method the physician recovered his money.
ON THE WORD LITERATI. The word literati, which now confers honour, had at one time a very different signification. Among the Romans it was usual to affix some branding or ignominious letter on the criminal, when the crime was infamous in its nature; and persons so branded were called inscripti, or stigmatici, or by a more equivocal term, literati. The same expression is likewise adopted in Stat. 4, Henry VII. which recites, " that diverse persons lettered had been more bold to commit mischievous deeds,” &c.
The present meaning of the word is taken from the Chinese, among whom, however, it is applied inore specifically to one pare s ticular sect of learned men.
REPARTEE. A very ignorant nobleman observing one day at dinner a person eminent for his philosophical talents, intent on chusing the delicacies of the table, said to him, “ What! do philosophers love dainties?” “Why not?" returned the Scholar, “ do you think, iny Lord, that the good things of this world were made only for blockheads?”
A CURIOUS COINCIDENCE. The two most admirable writers that modern Europe, and, we think, ancient also, ever produced, Shakespeare and Cervantes, both died on the same day, in the same year, namely, April 23d, 1616.
METAPHYSICS. To that ungracious question, Cui bono ? which contented ignorance so often throws in the teeth of knowledge, the professors of the other sciences have generally a ready answer. The geographer and the astronomer direct the voyages, and settle the times of the seasons. The experimental philosopher, by studying the properties of matter and the laws of motion, contributes largely and evidently both to the necessities and conveniences of human life; and the art of the physician is employed in rendering it more comfortable, and prolonging it. The Metaphysician can offer none of these substantial pleas. The benefits derived from his speculations are not sufficiently obvious or palpable to be felt by the undiscerning bulk of mankind.
What is a Metaphysician? said a lady to a man of the world. “ A Metaphysician, madam, is a being who does not know his right hand from his left.”
To the generality of writers on this subject, one may, perhaps, justly apply what Rapin says of the Quack Paracelsus; “ All his words were enigmas, and all his discourses mysteries.”