Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

Mackay, Charles
(1814-1889)
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Editor/Trans.
First Pub. Date
1848
Publisher/Edition
London: Office of the National Illustrated Library
Pub. Date
1852
Comments
2nd edition

1. Miss Elizabeth Villiers, afterwards Countess of Orkney.

2. The wits of the day called it a sand-bank, which would wreck the vessel of the state.

3. This anecdote, which is related in the correspondence of Madame de Bavière, Duchess of Orleans and mother of the Regent, is discredited by Lord John Russell in his History of the principal States of Europe from the Peace of Utrecht; for what reason he does not inform us. There is no doubt that Law proposed his scheme to Desmarets, and that Louis refused to hear of it. The reason given for the refusal is quite consistent with the character of that bigoted and tyrannical monarch.

4. From maltôte, an oppressive tax.

5. This anecdote is related by M. de la Hode, in his Life of Philippe of Orleans. It would have looked more authentic if he had given the names of the dishonest contractor and the still more dishonest minister. But M. de la Hode's book is liable to the same objection as most of the French memoirs of that and of subsequent periods. It is sufficient with most of them that an anecdote be ben trovato; the vero is but matter of secondary consideration.

6. The French prounounced his name in this manner to avoid the ungallic sound, aw. After the failure of his scheme, the wags said the nation was lasse de lui, and proposed that he should in future be known by the name of Monsieur Helas!

7. The curious reader may find an anecdote of the eagerness of the French ladies to retain Law in their company, which will make him blush or smile according as he happens to be very modest or the reverse. It is related in the Letters of Madame Charlotte Elizabeth de Bavière, Duchess of Orleans, vol. ii. p. 274.

8. The following squib was circulated on the occasion:

    "Foin de ton zèle séraphique,
       Malheureaux Abbé de Tencin,
    Depuis que Law est Catholique,
       Tout le royaume est Capucin!"
Thus somewhat weakly and paraphrastically rendered by Justandsond, in his translation of the Memoirs of Louis XV:
    "Tencin, a curse on thy seraphic zeal,
       Which by persuasion hath contrived the means
    To make the Scotchman at our altars kneel,
       Since which we are all poor as Capucines!"

9. The Duke de la Force gained considerable sums, not only by jobbing in the stocks but in dealing in porcelain, spices, &c. It was debated for a length of time in the parliament of Paris whether he had not, in his quality of spice-merchant, forfeited his rank in the peerage. It was decided in the negative. A caricature of him was made, dressed as a street-porter, carrying a large bale of spices on his back, with the inscription, "Admirez LA FORCE."

10. Duclos Mémoires Secrets de la Régence.

11. The Duchess of Orleans gives a different version of this story; but whichever be the true one, the manifestation of such feeling in a legislative assembly was not very creditable. She says that the president was so transported with joy, that he was seized with a rhyming fit, and returning into the hall, exclaimed to the members:

    "Messieurs! Messieurs! bonne nouvelle!
    Le carrosse de Lass est reduit en cannelle!"

Chapter 2.

12. A South Sea Ballad; or, Merry Remarks upon Exchange Alley Bubbles. To a new tune, called "The Grand Elixir; or, the Philosopher's Stone Discovered."

13. Coxe's Walpole, Correspondence between Mr. Secretary Craggs and Earl Stanhope.

14. Gay (the poet), in that disastrous year, had a present from young Craggs of some South-Sea stock, and once supposed himself to be master of twenty thousand pounds. His friends persuaded him to sell his share, but he dreamed of dignity and splendour, and could not bear to obstruct his own fortune. He was then importuned to sell as much as would purchase a hundred a year for life, "which," says Fenton, "will make you sure of a clean shirt and a shoulder of mutton every day." This counsel was rejected; the profit and principal were lost, and Gay sunk under the calamity so low that his life became in danger.—Johnson's Lives of the Poets.

15. Smollett.

16.

    " ' God cannot love,' says Blunt, with tearless eyes,
    'The wretch he starres, and piously denies.'...
    Much-injur'd Blunt! why bears he Britain's hate?
    A wizard told him in these words our fate:
    'At length corruption, like a gen'ral flood,
    So long by watchful ministers withstood,
    Shall deluge all; and av'rice, creeping on,
    Spread like a low-born mist, and blot the sun;
    Statesman and patriot ply alike the stocks,
    Peeress and butler share alike the box,
    And judges job, and bishops bite the Town,
    And mighty dukes pack cards for half-a-crown:
    See Britain sunk in Lucre's sordid charms
    And France reveng'd of Anne's and Edward's arms!'
    'Twas no court-badge, great Scriv'ner! fir'd thy brain,
    Nor lordly luxury, nor city gain:
    No, 'twas thy righteous end, asham'd to see
    Senates degen'rate, patriots disagree,
    And nobly wishing party-rage to cease,
    To buy both sides, and give thy country peace."

Pope's Epistle to Allen Lord Bathurst.

17. The South-Sea project remained until 1845 the greatest example in British history of the infatuation of the people for commercial gambling. The first edition of these volumes was published some time before the outbreak of the Great Railway Mania of that and the following year.

Chapter 3.

Chapter 4.

18. Biographie Universelle.

19. His "sum of perfection," or instructions to students to aid them in the laborious search for the stone and elixir, has been translated into most of the languages of Europe. An English translation, by a great enthusiast in alchymy, one Richard Russell, was published in London in 1686. The preface is dated eight years previously, from the house of the alchymist, "at the Star, in Newmarket, in Wapping, near the Dock." His design in undertaking the translation was, as he informs us, to expose the false pretences of the many ignorant pretenders to the science who abounded in his day.

20. Article, Geber, Biographie Universelle.

21. Naudé, Apologie des Grands Hommes accusés de Magie, chap. xviii.

22. Lenglet, Histoire de la Philosophie Hermétique. See also, Godwin's Lives of the Necromancers.

23. Naudé, Apologie des Grands Hommes accusés de Magie, chap. xvii.

24. Vidimus omnia ista dum ad Angliam transiimus, propter intercessionem domini Regis Edoardi illustrissimi.

25. Converti una vice in aurum ad L millia pondo argenti vivi, plumbi, et stanni.—Lullii Testamentum.

26. These verses are but a coarser expression of the slanderous line of Pope, that "every woman is at heart a rake."

27. Fuller's Worthies of England.

28. Biographie Universelle.

29. For full details of this extraordinary trial, see Lobineau's Nouvelle Histoire de Bretagne, and D'Argentré's work on the same subject. The character and life of Gilles de Rays are believed to have suggested the famous Blue Beard of the nursery tale.

30. See the article "Paracelsus," by the learned Renaudin, in the Biographie Universelle.

31. The "crystal" alluded to appears to have been a black stone, or piece of polished coal. The following account of it is given in the supplement to Granger's Biographical History. "The black stone into which Dee used to call his spirits was in the collection of the Earls of Peterborough, from whence it came to Lady Elizabeth Germaine. It was next the property of the late Duke of Argyle, and is now Mr. Walpole's. It appears upon examination to be nothing more than a polished piece of cannel coal; but this is what Butler means when he says,

'Kelly did all his feats upon
The devil's looking-glass—a stone.' "

32. Lilly the astrologer, in his Life, written by himself, frequently tells of prophecies delivered by the angels in a manner similar to the angels of Dr. Dee. He says, "The prophecies were not given vocally by the angels, but by inspection of the crystal in types and figures, or by apparition the circular way; where, at some distance, the angels appear, representing by forms, shapes, and creatures what is demanded. It is very rare, yea even in our days," quoth that wiseacre, "for any operator or master to hear the angels speak articulately: when they do speak, it is like the Irish, much in the throat!"

33. Albert Laski, son of Jaroslav, was Palatine of Siradz, and afterwards of Sendomir, and chiefly contributed to the election of Henry of Valois, the Third of France, to the throne of Poland, and was one of the delegates who went to France in order to announce to the new monarch his elevation to the sovereignty of Poland. After the deposition of Henry, Albert Laski voted for Maximilian of Austria. In 1583 he visited England, when Queen Elizabeth received him with great distinction. The honours which were shewn him during his visit to Oxford, by the especial command of the Queen, were equal to those rendered to sovereign princes. His extraordinary prodigality rendered his enormous wealth insufficient to defray his expenses, and he therefore became a zealous adept in alchymy, and took from England to Poland with him two known alchymists.—Count Valerian Krasinski's Historical Sketch of the Reformation in Poland.

34. The following legend of the tomb of Rosencreutz, written by Eustace Budgell, appears in No. 379 of the Spectator:—"A certain person, having occasion to dig somewhat deep in the ground where this philosopher lay interred, met with a small door, having a wall on each side of it. His curiosity, and the hope of finding some hidden treasure, soon prompted him to force open the door. He was immediately surprised by a sudden blaze of light, and discovered a very fair vault. At the upper end of it was a statue of a man in armour, sitting by a table, and leaning on his left arm. He held a truncheon in his right hand, and had a lamp burning before him. The man had no sooner set one foot within the vault, than the statue, erecting itself from its leaning posture, stood bolt upright; and, upon the fellow's advancing another step, lifted up the truncheon in his right hand. The man still ventured a third step; when the statue, with a furious blow, broke the lamp into a thousand pieces, and left his guest in sudden darkness. Upon the report of this adventure, the country people came with lights to the sepulchre, and discovered that the statue, which was made of brass, was nothing more than a piece of clock-work; that the floor of the vault was all loose, and underlaid with several springs, which, upon any man's entering, naturally produced that which had happened. "Rosicreucius, say his disciples, made use of this method to show the world that he had re-invented the ever-burning lamps of the ancients, though he was resolved no one should reap any advantage from the discovery."

35. No. 574. Friday, July 30th, 1714.

36. "Vitulus Aureus quem Mundus adorat et orat, in quo tractatur de naturæ miraculo transmutandi metalla." Hagæ, 1667.

37. Voyages de Monconis, tome ii. p. 379.

38. See the Abbé Fiard, and Anecdotes of the Reign of Louis XVI. p. 400.

39. Biographie des Contemporains, article "Cagliostro." See also Histoire de la Magie en France, par M. Jules Garinet, p. 284.

40. The enemies of the unfortunate Queen of France, when the progress of the Revolution embittered their animosity against her, maintained that she was really a party in this transaction; that she, and not Mademoiselle D'Oliva, met the cardinal and rewarded him with the flower; and that the story above related was merely concocted between her, La Motte, and others to cheat the jeweller of his 1,600,000 francs.

Chapter 5.

41. See Gibbon and Voltaire for further notice of this subject.

42. Charlemagne. Poëme épique, par Lucien Buonaparte.

43. This prophecy seems to have been that set forth at length in the popular Life of Mother Shipton:

"When fate to England shall restore
A king to reign as heretofore,
Great death in London shall be though,
And many houses be laid low."

44. The London Saturday Journal of March 12th, 1842, contains the following:—"An absurd report is gaining ground among the weak-minded, that London will be destroyed by an earthquake on the 17th of March, or St. Patrick's day. This rumour is founded on the following ancient prophecies: one professing to be pronounced in the year 1203; the other, by Dr. Dee the astrologer, in 1598:

    "In eighteen hundred and forty-two
    Four things the sun shall view:
    London's rich and famous town
    Hungry earth shall swallow down.
    Storm and rain in France shall be,
    Till every river runs a sea.
    Spain shall be rent in twain,
    And famine waste the land again.
    So say I, the Monk of Dree,
    In the twelve hundedth year and three."
            Harleian Collection (British Museum), 800 b, fol. 319.
    "The Lord have mercy on you all—
    Prepare yourselves for dreadful fall
    Of house and land and human soul—
    The measure of your sins is full.
    In the year one, eight, and forty-two,
    Of the year that is so new;
    In the third month of that sixteen,
    It may be a day or two between—
    Perhaps you'll soon be stiff and cold.
    Dear Christian, be not stout and bold—
    The mighty, kingly-proud will see
    This comes to pass as my name's Dee."
            1598. Ms. in the British Museum.

The alarm of the population of London did not on this occasion extend beyond the wide circle of the uneducated classes, but among them it equalled that recorded in the text. It was soon afterwards stated that no such prophecy is to be found in the Harleian Ms.

45. Chronicles of England, by Richard Grafton; London, 1568, p. 106.

46. Faerie Queene, b. 3, c. 3, s. 6-13.

Chapter 6.

47. Let us try. In his second century, prediction 66, he says:

"From great dangers the captive is escaped.
A little time, great fortune changed.
In the palace the people are caught.
By good augury the city is besieged."

"What is this," a believer might exclaim, "but the escape of Napoleon from Elba—his changed fortune, and the occupation of Paris by the allied armies?"

Let us try again. In his third century, prediction 98, he says:

"Two royal brothers will make fierce war on each other;
So mortal shall be the strife between them,
That each one shall occupy a fort against the other;
For their reign and life shall be the quarrel."

Some Lillius Redivivus would find no difficulty in this prediction. To use a vulgar phrase, it is as clear as a pikestaff. Had not the astrologer in view Don Miguel and Don Pedro when he penned this stanza, so much less obscure and oracular than the rest?

48. Hermippus Redivivus, p. 142.

49. Jovii Elog. p. 320.

50. Les Anecdotes de Florence, ou l'Histoire secrète de la Maison di Medicis, p. 318.

51. It is quite astonishing to see the great demand there is, both in England and France, for dream-books, and other trash of the same kind. Two books in England enjoy an extraordinary popularity, and have run through upwards of fifty editions in as many years in London alone, besides being reprinted in Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Dublin. One is Mother Bridget's Dream-book and Oracle of Fate; the other is the Norwood Gipsy. It is stated, on the authority of one who is curious in these matters, that there is a demand for these works, which are sold at sums varying from a penny to sixpence, chiefly to servant-girls and imperfectly-educated people, all over the country, of upwards of eleven thousand annually; and that at no period during the last thirty years has the average number sold been less than this. The total number during this period would thus amount to 330,000.

52. Spectator, No. 7, March 8th, 1710-11.

Chapter 7.

53. See Van der Mye's account of the siege of Breda. The garrison, being afflicted with scurvy, the Prince of Orange sent the physicians two or three small phials, containing a decoction of camomile, wormwood, and camphor, telling them to pretend that it was a medicine of the greatest value and extremest rarity, which had been procured with very much danger and difficulty from the East; and so strong, that two or three drops would impart a healing virtue to a gallon of water. The soldiers had faith in their commander; they took the medicine with cheerful faces, and grew well rapidly. They afterwards thronged about the prince in groups of twenty and thirty at a time, praising his skill, and loading him with protestations of gratitude.

54. Mummies were of several kinds, and were all of great use in magnetic medicines. Paracelsus enumerates six kinds of mummies; the first four only differing in the composition used by different people for preserving their dead, are the Egyptian, Arabian, Pisasphaltos, and Lybian. The fifth mummy of peculiar power was made from criminals that had been hanged; "for from such there is a gentle siccation, that expungeth the watery humour, without destroying the oil and spirituall, which is cherished by the heavenly luminaries, and strengthened continually by the affluence and impulses of the celestial spirits; whence it may be properly called by the name of constellated or celestial mummie." The sixth kind of mummy was made of corpuscles, or spiritual effluences, radiated from the living body; though we cannot get very clear ideas on this head, or respecting the manner in which they were caught.—Medicina Diatastica; or, Sympathetical Mummie, abstracted from the Works of Paracelsus, and translated out of the Latin, by Fernando Parkhurst, Gent. London, 1653, pp. 2, 7. Quoted by the Foreign Quarterly Review, vol. xii. p. 415.

55. Reginald Scott, quoted by Sir Walter Scott, in the notes to the Lay of the last Minstrel, c. iii. v. xxiii.

56. Greatraks' Account of himself, in a letter to the Honourable Robert Boyle.

57. Introduction to the Study of Animal Magnetism, by Baron Dupotet de Sennevoy, p. 315.

58. Introduction to the Study of Animal Magnetism, p. 318.

59. Dictionnaire des Sciences Médicales—Article Convulsionnaires, par Montégre.

60. An enthusiastic philosopher, of whose name we are not informed, had constructed a very satisfactory theory on some subject or other, and was not a little proud of it. "But the facts, my dear fellow," said his friend, "the facts do not agree with your theory."—"Don't they?" replied the philosopher, shrugging his shoulders, "then, tant pis pour les faits;"—so much the worse for the facts!

61. Rapport des Commissaires, rédigé par M. Bailly. Paris, 1784.

62. Introduction to the Study of Animal Magnetism, by Baron Dupotet, p. 73.

63. See Foreign Review and Continental Miscellany, vol. v. p. 113.

64. See the very calm, clear, and dispassionate article upon the subject in the fifth volume (1830) of The Foreign Review, p. 96 et seq.

65. Histoire Critique du Magnétisme Animal, p. 60.

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

66. Guibert de Nogent

67. Guibert de Nogent

68. M. Wilken's Geschichte der Kreuzzuge.

69. Wilken

70. Fulcher of Chartres.—Guibert de Nogent.—Vital.

71. William of Tyre.—Mills.—Wilken, &c.

72. Vide William of Tyre.

73. Guibert de Nogent relates a curious instance of the imitativeness of these juvenile crusaders. He says that, during the siege of Antioch, the Christian and Saracen boys used to issue forth every evening from the town and camp in great numbers under the command of captains chosen from among themselves. Armed with sticks instead of swords, and stones instead of arrows, they ranged themselves in battle order, and shouting each the war-cry of their country, fought with the utmost desperation. Some of them lost their eyes, and many became cripples for life from the injuries they received on these occasions.

74. The sacking of Vitry reflects indelible disgrace upon Louis VII. His predecessors had been long engaged in resistance to the outrageous powers assumed by the Popes, and Louis continued the same policy. The ecclesiastical chapter of Bourges, having elected an Archbishop without his consent, he proclaimed the election to be invalid, and took severe and prompt measures against the refractory clergy. Thibault, Count de Champagne, took up arms in defence of the Papal authority, and intrenched himself in the town of Vitry. Louis was immediately in the field to chastise the rebel, and he besieged the town with so much vigour, that the Count was forced to surrender. Upwards of thirteen hundred of the inhabitants, fully one half of whom were women and children, took refuge in the church; and, when the gates of the city were opened, and all resistance had ceased, Louis inhumanly gave orders to set fire to the church, and a thousand persons perished in the flames.

75. Philip, Archdeacon of the cathedral of Liege, wrote a detailed account of all the miracles performed by St. Bernard during thirty-four days of his mission. They averaged about ten per day. The disciples of St. Bernard complained bitterly that the people flocked around their master in such numbers, that they could not see half the miracles he performed. But they willingly trusted the eyes of others, as far as faith in the miracles went, and seemed to vie with each other whose credulity should be greatest.

76. James of Vitry—William de Nangis.

77. The desire of comparing two great men has tempted many writers to drown Frederick in the river Cydnus, in which Alexander so imprudently bathed (Q. Curt. lib. iii. c. 4, 5.): but, from the march of the Emperor, I rather judge that his Saleph is the Calycadnus, a stream of less fame, but of a longer course.—Gibbon

78. Stowe.

79. Elemens de l'Histoire de France.

80. Strutt's Sports and Pastimes."

81. Richard left a high reputation in Palestine. So much terror did his name occasion, that the women of Syria used it to frighten their children for ages afterwards. Every disobedient brat became still when told that King Richard was coming. Even men shared the panic that his name created; and a hundred years afterwards, whenever a horse shied at any object in the way, his rider would exclaim, "What! dost thou think King Richard is in the bush?"

82. The following is a list of some of the works of art thus destroyed, from Nicetas, a contemporary Greek author:—1st. A colossal Juno, from the forum of Constantine, the head of which was so large that four horses could scarcely draw it from the place where it stood to the palace. 2d. The statue of Paris presenting the apple to Venus. 3d. An immense bronze pyramid, crowned by a female figure, which turned with the wind. 4th. The colossal statue of Bellerophon, in bronze, which was broken down and cast into the furnace. Under the inner nail of the horse's hind foot on the left side, was found a seal wrapped in a woollen cloth. 5th. A figure of Hercules, by Lysimachus, of such vast dimensions that the thumb was equal in circumference to the waist of a man. 6th. The Ass and his driver, cast by order of Augustus after the battle of Actium, in commemoration of his having discovered the position of Antony through the means of an ass-driver. 7th. The Wolf suckling the twins of Rome. 8th. The Gladiator in combat with a lion. 9th. The Hippopotamus. 10th. The Sphinxes. 11th. An eagle fighting with a serpent. 12th. A beautiful statue of Helen. 13th. A group, with a monster somewhat resembling a bull, engaged in deadly conflict with a serpent; and many other works of art, too numerous to mention.

83. See Jacob de Voragine and Albericus.

84. Elemens de l'Histoire de France.

85. Mills, in his history, gives the name of this chief as Al Malek al Dhaker Rokneddin Abulfeth Bibars al Ali al Bundokdari al Salehi."

86. The reader will recognise the incident which Sir Walter Scott has introduced into his beautiful romance, "The Talisman," and which, with the licence claimed by poets and romancers, he represents as having befallen King Richard I.

Chapter 10

87. See article on Demonology, in the sixth volume of the "Foreign Quarterly Review.

88. Histoire de la Magie en France. Rois de la seconde race," page 29.

89. M. Michaud, in his "History of the Crusades," M. Guinguené, in his "Literary History of Italy," and some other critics, have objected to Tasso's poem, that he has attributed to the Crusaders a belief in magic, which did not exist at that time. If these critics had referred to the Edicts of Charlemagne, they would have seen that Tasso was right, and that a disposition too eager to spy out imperfections in a great work was leading themselves into error.

90. Entstehungsgeschichte der freistadlischen Bunde im Mittelalter, von Dr. F. Kortum." 1827.

91. Bodin, page 95. Garinet, page 125. "Anti-demon de Serclier," page 346.

92. Tablier. See also Boguet, "Discours sur les Sorciers;" and M. Jules Garinet, "Histoire de la Magie," page 150.

93. Foreign Quarterly Review, vol. vi. page 41.

94. News from Scotland, declaring the damnable life of Dr. Fian.

95. Satan's Invisible World discovered," by the Rev. G. Sinclair.

96. Pitcairn's "Records of Justiciary."

97. Preface to "Law's Memorials," edited by Sharpe.

98. Zauber Bibliothek. Theil 5.

99. They sent a hangman's assistant down to her in her prison; they clothed him properly in a bear's skin, as if he were the devil. Him, when the witch saw, she thought he was her familiar. She said to him quickly, "Why hast thou left me so long in the magistrate's hands? Help me out of their power, as thou hast promised, and I will be thine alone. Help me from this anguish, O thou dearest devil (or lover), mine?"

100. A very graphic account of the execution of this unfortunate gentleman is to be found in the excellent romance of M. Alfred de Vigny, entitled "Cinq Mars;" but if the reader wishes for a full and accurate detail of all the circumstances of one of the most extraordinary trials upon record, he is referred to a work published anonymously, at Amsterdam, in 1693, entitled Histoire des Diables de Loudun, ou de la Possession des Religieuses Ursulines, et de la Condemnation et du Supplice d'Urbain Grandier.

Chapter 12

101. The punishment for the contumacious was expressed by the words onere, frigore, et fame. By the first was meant that the culprit should be extended on his back on the ground, and weights placed over his body, gradually increased, until he expired. Sometimes the punishment was not extended to this length, and the victim, being allowed to recover, underwent the second portion, the frigore, which consisted in his standing naked in the open air, for a certain space, in the sight of all the people. The third, or fame, was more dreadful, the statute saying, "That he was to be preserved with the coarsest bread that could be got, and water out of the next sink or puddle, to the place of execution; and that day he had water he should have no bread, and that day he had bread, he should have no water;" and in this torment he was to linger as long as nature would hold out.

102. This is denied by Voltaire in his "Age of Louis XIV;" but he does not state for what reason. His words are, "Il est faux qu'elle eut essayé ses poisons dans les hôpitaux, comme le disait le peuple et comme il est écrit dans les Causes Célèbres, ouvrage d'un avocat sans cause et fait pour le peuple."

103. Slow poisoning is a crime which has unhappily been revived in England within the last few years, and which has been carried to an extent sufficient to cast a stain upon the national character. The poisoners have been principally women of the lowest class, and their victims have been their husbands or their children. The motive for the crime has in most instances been the basest that can be imagined,—the desire to obtain from burial-clubs to which they subscribed, the premium, or burial-money. A recent entactment, restricting the sale of arsenic and other poisons, will, it is to be hoped, check if it do not extirpate, this abominable crime.—1851.

Chapter 13

104. Garinet. Histoire de la Magie en France, page 75.

105. Ibid. p. 156.

106. Dr. H. More's Continuation of Glanvil's Collection of Relations in proof of Witchcraft.

107. The woman whose ghost was said to manifest itself in Cock Lane was buried in the crypt or cloister of St. John, Clerkenwell. The vault is composed of two aisles, that on the south being much narrower than the other,—it was here she was deposited.

About seven years since, I was sketching a picturesque trefoil-headed door leading into this part of the vault; and the place being at that time in great confusion with coffins, remains of bodies, some of which were dried like mummies, &c., I could find no better seat than one of the coffins. The sexton's boy, who held my light, informed me this was the coffin of Scratching Fanny, which recalled the Cock Lane story to my mind. I got off the lid of the coffin, and saw the face of a handsome woman, with an aquiline nose; this feature remaining perfect, an uncommon case, for the cartilage mostly gives way. The remains had become adipocere, and were perfectly preserved. She was said to have been poisoned by deleterious punch, but this was legally disproved; and, if I remember rightly, she was otherwise declared to have died of small-pox; of this disease there was not the least sign; but as some mineral poisons tend to render bodies adipocere, here was some evidence in support of the former allegation. I made particular inquiries at the time of Mr. Bird, churchwarden, a respectable and judicious man; and he gave me good assurance that this coffin had always been looked upon as the one containing the Cock Lane woman. Since that time the vault has been set in order, and the above-mentioned coffin, with others, put away.

The niche near the window of the Ghost Room is the place where the bed-head was, and where the scratching, knocks, &c. were heard. This is the tradition of the house. Mrs. King, who holds the premises, informs me that her family has had the house about eighty years.˜J. W. ARCHER.

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

108. Shakspeare's Rape of Lucretia.

109. The Abbé, in the second volume, in the letter No. 79, dressed to Monsieur de Buffon, gives the following curious particulars of the robbers of 1757, which are not without interest at this day, if it were only to show the vast improvement which has taken place since that period :—"It is usual, in travelling, to put ten or a dozen guineas in a separate pocket, as a tribute to the first that comes to demand them: the right of passport, which custom has established here in favour of the robbers, who are almost the only highway surveyors in England, has made this necessary; and accordingly the English call these fellows the 'Gentlemen of the Road," the government letting them exercise their jurisdiction upon travellers without giving them any great molestation. To say the truth, they content themselves with only taking the money of those who obey without disputing; but notwithstanding their boasted humanity, the lives of those who endeavour to get away are not always safe. They are very strict and severe in levying their impost; and if a man has not wherewithal to pay them, he may run the chance of getting himself knocked on the head for his poverty.

"About fifteen years ago, these robbers, with the view of maintaining their rights, fixed up papers at the doors of rich people about London, expressly forbidding all persons, of whatsoever quality or condition, from going out of town without ten guineas and a watch about them, on pain of death. In bad times, when there is little or nothing to be got on the roads, these fellows assemble in gangs, to raise contributions even in London itself; and the watchmen seldom trouble themselves to interfere with them in their vocation."

110. Since the publication of the first edition of this volume, Jack Sheppard's adventures have been revived. A novel upon the real or fabulous history of the burglar has afforded, by its extraordinary popularity, a further exemplification of the allegations in the text. The Sixth Report of the Inspector of Prisons for the Northern Districts of England contains a mass of information upon the pernicious effect of such romances, and of the dramas founded upon them. The Inspector examined several boys attending the prison school in the New Bailey at Manchester, from whose evidence the following passages bearing upon the subject are extracted:

"J. L. (aged 15). The first time I was ever at the theatre was to see Jack Sheppard. There were two or three boys near to the house who were going, and they asked me. I took sixpence from the money I used to lay up weekly for clothes. The next time I went, which was the week after, I borrowed the money from a boy; I returned it to him the Saturday after. I then went many times. I took the money from my mother out of her pocket as she was sitting down, and I beside her. There was more than sixpence in her pocket. I got a great love for the theatre, and stole from people often to get there. I thought this Jack Sheppard was a clever fellow for making his escape and robbing his master. If I could get out of gaol, I think I should be as clever as him; but after his exploits, he got done at last. I have had the book out of a library at Dole Field. I had paid twopence a book for three volumes. I also got Richard Turpin, in two volumes, and paid the same. I have seen Oliver Twist, and think the Artful Dodger is very like some of the boys here. I am here for picking a pocket of 25l..

H. C. (aged 16). When we came to Manchester, I went to the play, and saw Jack Sheppard the first night it came out. There were pictures of him about the streets on boards and on the walls; one of them was his picking a pocket in the church. I liked Jack Sheppard much. I had not been in prison there. I was employed in a warehouse at 6s. 6d. a week, and was allowed 6d. out of it for myself, and with that I went regularly to the play. I saw Jack Sheppard afterwards four times in one week. I got the money out of my money-bag by stealth, and without my master's knowledge. I once borrowed 10s. in my mother's name from Mrs. —, a shopkeeper, with whom she used to deal; I went to the play with it.

J. M'D. (aged 16). I have heard of Jack Sheppard: a lad whom I know told me of it, who had seen it, and said it was rare fun to see him break out of prison.

J. L. (aged 12). Had been to the play twice, and seen Jack Sheppard. Went with his brother the first time, and by himself the second. I took the money to go a second time out of mother's house, off the chimney-piece, where she had left a sixpence. It was the first night Jack Sheppard was played. There was great talk about it, and there were nice pictures about it all over the walls. I thought him a very clever fellow; but Blueskin made the most fun. I first went to the markets, and begun by stealing apples. I also knew a lad, —, who has been transported, and went with him two or three times. The most I ever got was 10s. out of a till."

The Inspector's Report on Jevenile Delinquency at Liverpool contains much matter of the same kind; but sufficient has been already quoted to shew the injurious effects of the deification of great theives by thoughtless novelists.

111. For a full account of this noted robber, and indeed of European thieves and banditti in general, see the very amusing work upon the subject by Mr. Charles Macfarlane.

112. See also "Foreign Quarterly Review," vol. iv. p. 398.

113. Lavinia Fenton, afterwards Duchess of Bolton.

Chapter 16

114. Esprit des Loix," liv. xxviii. chap. xvii.

115. Very similar to this is the fire-ordeal of the modern Hindoos, which is thus described in Forbes's "Oriental Memoirs," vol. i. c. xi.—" When a man, accused of a capital crime, chooses to undergo the ordeal trial, he is closely confined for several days; his right hand and arm are covered with thick wax-cloth, tied up and sealed, in the presence of proper officers, to prevent deceit. In the English districts the covering was always sealed with the Company's arms, and the prisoner placed under an European guard. At the time fixed for the ordeal, a caldron of oil is placed over a fire; when it boils, a piece of money is dropped into the vessel; the prisoner's arm is unsealed, and washed in the presence of his judges and accusers. During this part of the ceremony, the attendant Brahmins supplicate the Deity. On receiving their benediction, the accused plunges his hand into the boiling fluid, and takes out the coin. The arm is afterwards again Sealed up until the time appointed for a re-examination. The seal is then broken: if no blemish appears, the prisoner is declared innocent; if the contrary, he suffers the punishment due to his crime." * * * On this trial the accused thus addresses the element before plunging his hand into the boiling oil:—"Thou, O fire! pervadest all things. O cause of purity! who givest evidence of virtue and of sin, declare the truth in this my hand!" If no juggling were practised, the decisions by this ordeal would be all the same way; but, as some are by this means declared guilty, and others innocent, it is clear that the Brahmins, like the Christian priests of the middle ages, practise some deception in saving those whom they wish to be thought guiltless.

116. An ordeal very like this is still practised in India. Consecrated rice is the article chosen, instead of bread and cheese. Instances are not rare in which, through the force of imagination, guilty persons are not able to swallow a single grain. Conscious of their crime, and fearful of the punishment of Heaven, they feel a suffocating sensation in their throat when they attempt it, and they fall on their knees, and confess all that is laid to their charge. The same thing, no doubt, would have happened with the bread and cheese of the Roman church, if it had been applied to any others but ecclesiastics. The latter had too much wisdom to be caught in a trap of their own setting.

117. Histoire de Messire Bertrand du Guesclin, par Paul Hay du Chastelet. Livre i. chap. xix.

118. Esprit des Loix," livre xxviii. chap. xxv.

119. Memoires de Brantome touchant les Duels.

120. Histoire de Messire Bertrand du Guesclin, livre i. chap. xix.

121. Memoires de Brantome touchant les Duels.

122. Although Francis showed himself in this case an enemy to duelling, yet, in his own case, he had not the same objection. Every reader of history must remember his answer to the challenge of the Emperor Charles V. The Emperor wrote that he had failed in his word, and that he would sustain their quarrel single-handed against him. Francis replied, that he lied—qu'il en avait menti par la gorge, and that he was ready to meet him in single combat whenever and wherever he pleased.

123. Le Père Matthias, tome ii. livre iv.

124. Elemens de l"Histoire de France, vol. iii. p. 219.

125. Mercure de France, vol. xiii.

126. Brydone's "Tour in Malta." 1772.

127. See "Life and Character of Lord Bacon," by Thomas Martin, Barrister-at-law.

128. See History of the House and Clan of Mackay.

129. See "Spectator," Nos. 84. 97, and 99; and "Tatler," Nos. 25, 26, 29, 31, 38, and 39; and "Guardian," No. 20.

130. Post Boy, December l3th, 1712.

131. Raleigh, at one period of his life, appeared to be an inveterate duellist, and it was said of him that he had been engaged in more encounters of the kind than any man of note among his contemporaries. More than one fellow-creature he had deprived of life; but he lived long enough to be convinced of the sinfulness of his conduct, and made a solemn vow never to fight another duel. The following anecdote of his forbearance is well known, but it will bear repetition :

A dispute arose in a coffee-house between him and a young man on some trivial point, and the latter, losing his temper, impertinently spat in the face of the veteran. Sir Walter, instead of running him through the body, as many would have done, or challenging him to mortal combat, coolly took out his handkerchief, wiped his face, and said, "Young man, if I could as easily wipe from my conscience the stain of killing you, as I can this spittle from my face, you should not live another minute." The young man immediately begged his pardon.

132. Vide the Letters of Joseph II to distinguished Princes and Statesmen, published for the first time in England in "The Pamphleteer" for 1821. They were originally published in Germany a few years previously, and throw a great light upon the character of that monarch and the events of his reign.

133. Encyclopedia Americana, art. Duelling.

Chapter 17.

134. Voltaire, Siecle de Louis XIV.

End of Notes.

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