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There is a vulgar error that the hare is one year a male and the other a female. This deserves no serious consideration. That a wolf, if he see a man first, suddenly strikes him dumb. To the relators of this Scaliger wishes as many blows as at different times he had seen wolves without losing his voice. This is well answered.
That men are sometimes transformed into wolves, and again from wolves into men. Of this vulgar error, which is as old as Pliny's time, that author exposes the falsehood.
That there is a nation of pigmies not about two or three feet high, and that they solemnly set themselves in battle array to fight against the cranes. Strabo thought this a fiction; and our age, which has fully discovered all the wonders of the world, as fully declares it to be one. The race of giants too seems to have followed the fate of the pigmies; and yet what shall we say to the accounts of Patagonia?
A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine for June 1771, xli. 251, refutes the following errors: asserting "that the scorpion does not sting itself when surrounded by fire, and that its sting is not even venomous; that the tarantula is not poisonous, and that music has no particular effects on persons bitten by it, more than on those stung by a wasp; that the lizard is not friendly to man in particular, much less does it awaken him on the approach of a serpent; that the remora has no such power as to retard the sailing of a ship by sticking itself to its bottom; that the stroke of the cramp-fish is not occasioned by a muscle; that the salamander does not live in fire, nor is it capable of bearing more heat than other animals; that the bite of the spider is not venomous, that it is found in Ireland too plentifully, that he has no dislike to fixing its web on Irish oak, and that it has no antipathy to the toad; that the porcupine does not shoot out his quills for annoying his enemy; he only sheds them annually, as other feathered animals do; that the jackall, commonly called the lion's provider, has no connexion at all with the lion," &c.
["After milking, the dairy-maid's hands must be washed forthwith, or the cows will be dried. To eat cheese, or anything that has been nibbled by mice, gives a sore-throat."]
flavour, cried out in amazement, Oh! how sweet they are! This exclamation engraved the letter O, the first word of her speech, upon the datestone, which, being very hard, better preserved it.'"
IN a curious book in my collection, already frequently quoted, entitled Whimzies, or a New Cast of Characters, 1631, p. 69, in the character of a jaylor is the following passage: "If any of his more happy prisoners be admitted to his clergy, and by helpe of a compassionate prompter hacke out his necke verse, hee has a cold iron in store, if he be hot; but a hot iron, if hee be cold. If his pulse (I meane his purse) bee hot, his fist may cry fizze, but want his impression; but if his pulse be cold, the poore beggarly knave must have his literal expression." In Lodge's Incarnate Devils, 1596, speaking of an intelligencer (an informer), he says: "Hee will give a shroud wound with his tongue, that may bring a man to his necke
This verse has derived its name of neck verse from the circumstance of the prisoner's saving his neck, that is, his life, by repeating it. In the British Apollo, vol. iii. fol. Lond. 1710, No. 72, is the following query:
"Q. Apollo, prepare; I'll make you to stare;
And that is to tell, (and pray do it well,
Why the neck verse is said, and when it was made
"A. When Popery long since, with tenets of nonsense
And Latin alone to churchmen was known,
And the reading a legible hand:
This privilege then, to save learned men,
While villains whose crimes were lesser nine times
If a monk had been taken for stealing of bacon,
If he could but rehearse (well prompt) his neck verse.
He never could fail to escape.
When the world grew more wise, and with open eyes
'Twas thought just to save a laity-knave
As well as a rascally priest."
Sir Walter Scott notices the neck verse as a cant term formerly used by the marauders on the Border:
"Letter nor line know I never a one,
A note says: "Hairibee, the place of executing the Border marauders at Carlisle. The neck verse is the beginning of the fifty-first Psalm, Miserere mei,' &c., anciently read by criminals claiming the benefit of clergy."
BISHOP IN THE PAN.
IN Tusser's Five Hundred Points of Husbandry, under the month of April, are the following lines :
"Blesse Cisley (good mistress), that bushop doth ban,
On which is the following note in Tusser Redivivus, 1744, p. 53: "When the bishop passed by (in former times) every one ran out to partake of his blessing, which he plentifully bestowed as he went along; and those who left their milk upon the fire might find it burnt to the pan when they came back, and perhaps ban or curse the bishop as the occasion of it, as much or more than he had blessed them; hence it is likely it grew into a custom to curse the bishop when any such disaster happened, for which our author would have the mistress bless, Anglicè correct, her servant, both for her negligence and unmannerliness."
To an inquiry in the British Apollo, vol. i. fol. Lond. 1708, No. 1, Supernumerary for the month of April, "Why, when anything is burnt to, it is said the bishop's foot has been in it?" it is answered: "We presume 'tis a proverb that took its original from those unhappy times when every thing that went wrong was thought to have been spoiled by the bishops."
Grose, in his Provincial Glossary, in verbo, says: "The bishop has set his foot in it, a saying in the North used for
milk that is burnt to in boiling. Formerly, in days of superstition, whenever a bishop passed through a town or village, all the inhabitants ran out in order to receive his blessing; this frequently caused the milk on the fire to be left till burnt to the vessel, and gave origin to the above allusion."
It has been suggested, with greater propriety, to the editor, that "bishops were in Tusser's time much in the habit of burning heretics. The allusion is to the episcopal disposition to burn." This is corroborated by a singular passage in Tyndale's Obedyence of a Chrysten Man, 4to., printed at Malborowe, in the lande of Hesse, by Hans Luft, 1528. In fol. 109, the author says: "When a thynge speadeth not well we borrow speach and saye the byshope hath blessed it, because that nothyng speadeth well that they medyll wythall. If the podech be burned to, or the meate ouer rosted, we saye the byshope hath put his fote in the potte, or the byshope hath playd the coke, because the bishopes burn who they lust, and whosoever displeaseth them." This quotation, which has been frequently printed, was first given by Jamieson.
DINING WITH DUKE HUMPHREY.
THE meaning of the common expression "to dine with Duke Humphrey," applied to persons who, being unable either to procure a dinner by their own money or from the favour of their friends, walk about and loiter during dinner time, has, after many unsuccessful attempts, been at last satisfactorily explained. It appears that in the ancient church of St. Paul, in London, to which, in the earlier part of the day, many persons used to resort for exercise, to hear news, &c., one of the aisles was called Duke Humphrey's Walk; not that there ever was in reality a cenotaph there to the duke's memory, who, every one knows, was buried at St. Albans, in Hertfordshire, but because, says Stow, ignorant people mistook the fair monument of Sir John Beauchampe, son to Guy, and brother to Thomas, Earl of Warwick, who died in 1358, and which was in the south side of the body of St. Paul's church, for that of
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. Abundance of passages in the works of our old writers tend to confirm this explana
Gayton, in his Art of Longevity, 4to. Lond. 1659, p. 1,
"Wherefore we do amand Duke Humphrey's guest,
A dog doth fare much better with his bones
Than those whose table, meat, and drink are stones."
Speaking of the monument in St. Paul's of Owen, the epigrammatist, he says:
"He was set up with such a peaking face
As if to the Humphreyans h'had been saying grace."
Thus, in Dekker's Gul's Hornbooke, 1609, in the chapter "How a gallant should behave himself in Powles Walkes," we read: "By this I imagine you have walkd your belly ful, and therefore being weary or (which is rather, I believe) being most gentlemanlike hungry, it is fit that as I brought you unto the duke, so (because he follows the fashion of great men in keeping no house, and that therefore you must go seeke your dinner) suffer me to take you by the hand and leade you unto an ordinary." Thus we find in Harvey's Letters and Sonnets, 1592: "To seeke his dinner in Poules with Duke Humphrey, to licke dishes, to be a beggar." Thus, too, in Nash's Return of the Knight of the Post, 1606, "In the end comming into
So Sandford, Genealog. Hist. p. 317. On this mistake the following dialogue in Elyot's Fruits of the French, part ii. p. 165, and which seems to throw some light on the disputed origin of the saying in the title, was founded:
"What ancient monument is this?
It is, as some say, of Duke Humphrie of Gloucester,
Who is buried here.
They say that he hath commonly his lieftenant
Here in Paules, to know if there be
Any newes from Fraunce or other strange
'Tis true, my friend; and also he hath
His steward, who inviteth the bringers of