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Blackford, The Backsword Player.
Sir,—Your correspondent C. T. p. 1207, naving given a description of "Purton Fair," my grandmother and father born there, the birth-place of Anne Boleyn, I feel interested in the spot of my progenitors. C. T., speaking of old "Corey Dyne," the gipsy, says a man named Blackford was the most noted Backswordplayer of his day. He bore off the prizes then played for in London, Bath, Btistol, and Oloucester. When very young, at Lyneham grammai-school, I recollect this frontispiece despoiler broke fourteen heads, one after another; in the fifteenth bout, however, he pretty nearly found his match in the person of Isaac Bushel, a blacksmith of this place, who could bite a nail asunder, eat a shoulder of mutton with appendages, or fight friend or foe for love or money. It was a saying, "Bushel could take enough to kill a dozen men;" nor was his head unlike his name: he was the village Wat Tyler.
When the Somerset youths played with the Wiltshire on a stage on Calne-green, two years since, one of Blackford's descendants gave a feeling proof of headbreaking with other heads of this bloodletting art, in which stratagem is used to conceal the crimson gush chiefly by sucking. Like fencing, attitude and agility are the great assistants to ensure success in backsword-playing; the basket is also of great service to the receiving of blows, and protecting the muscles of the wrist. The greatest exploits remembered at Pur
For the Every-Day Book.
The flowers are gone, the trees aie bare,
There is a dullness in the air,
A damp that in the spirit sinks,
Till the shudd'ring heart within me shrinks:
Cold and slow the clouds roll past,
And wat'ry drops come with the blast
That moans, amid the poplars tall,
A dirge for the summer's funeral.
Every bird to his home has gone.
There he sits like a desolate thine,
With a dabbled breast and a dripping wing.
He has seen his latent joys decline,
Yet his heart is lighter far than mine;
His task is o'er—his duty done,
His strong-wing'd race on the wind have gone,
He has nothing left to brood upon:
He has si ill the hope of a friendly crumb
When the wintry snow over earth shall come,
And a shelier from the biting wind,
And the welcome looks of faces kind.
I wander here amid the bla«t,
And a dreary look I backward cast;
The best of my years I feel are fled.
And I look to the coming time with dread
My heart in a desert land has been,
Where the flower of hope alone was green;
And little in life's decline have I
To expect from kindred's sympathy.
Like the leaves now whirl'd from yonder spray,
The dreams I have cherish'd day by day,
On the wings of sorrow pass away.
Yet I despair not—time will bring
To the plumeless bird a new bright wing,
A warmer breeze to the now chill d flower,
And to those who mourn a lighter hour;
A gay green leaf to the faded tree,
And happier days, I trust, to me.
•Twas best that the weeds of sorrow sprung
With my heart's few flowers, while yet twas youn?,
Thev can the sooner be destroy'd,
And happiness fill their dreary void. a. *. J.
. „,,„„., skUl equally conspicuous and extraor
■ALUM1WM Calendar. n ^ consequence of tnese rare
Mean Temperature .... 50 • 77. endowments> never led on our fleets to
"~ battle that he did not conquer; and whose
rtftrtnbfT 21. name was a tower of strength to England,
Vlw and a terror to her foes."*
Battle Of Trafalgar. ■
,. , „„, „«r Pane Naturalists Calenoar.
In a dreadful W«*~ $? Mean Temperature ... 50 • 62.
Trafalgar, on the 21st of October, l Bud, r
between the English fleet, consisting or /<»,tnhM- 99
twemy seven sail of the line and four ©ttOtitV **■
frigates, and the combined fleets of r ranee child pLAv ed for.
ar.£ Spain, consisting of **?;*"* £al jn October, 1735, a child of Jame, and
and seven frigates, wtad» taj *£ Elilabeth Leesh, of Chester-e-street. ,n
hours, twenty sail of' the enemy were f Durham, was played for at
unk or destroyed,and the French com J of ^ Salmon one
mander-h.-chief, (adm.ra ^TM^» me four shlUi„gs against the child, by
with two Spanish admirals were made g , \lQlXer, Robert Thom
prisoners. The gallant »«£»J£ Ton" and Thomas Ellison, which was won
Uunded about the middle of the action, , delivered to them
and died nearly at its close.-" Thuiter- oy
mmated the brilliant career of our peer- accordingly T _
less Naval Hero, who was, beyond dis- batdbalists' Calendar.
Roman Remains At Pancras.
A former notice of some antiquities in this vicinity, seems to have occasioned the subjoined article on similar remains. Its initials will be recognised as those of a correspondent, whose communications have been acceptable, and read with interest.
Roman Remains At Pancras.
Sib,—In the ninetieth number of your Every-Day Book, (the present volume, col. 1197-1204,) a very interesting aiticle appeared on the subject of the Roman remains near Pentonville, and thinking you may be inclined to acquaint your readers with "Caesar's Camp" at St. Pancras, situate near the old church, which are likely in the course of a short time to be entirely destroyed by the rage for improvement in that neighbourhood, I forward you the following particulars.
The only part at present visible is the praetorium of Caesar, which may be seen in the drawing that accompanies this, but the ditch is now nearly filled up. I visited the spot about a week ago, and can therefore vouch for its existence up to that time, but every thing around it begins to bear a very different aspect to what it did about two years back, when my attention was particularly called to the spot from having read Dr. Stukeley's remarks on the subject. At that time I was able to trace several other vestiges, which are entirely destroyed by the ground having been since dug up for the purpose of making bricks.
The following extracts are taken from the second volume of Dr. Stukeley's "Itinerary." The plan of the camp is taken from the same work. I shall feel pleasure if you will call attention to it, as you have already to the Roman remains *t Pentonville.
I am, Sir, yours respectfully,
October 9, 1826.
Dr. Stukeley's Account or Cesar's Camp.
October, 1758. Cesar's camp was situate where Pancras church is—his prsetorium is still very plain—over against the church, in the footpath on the west side of the brook; the vallum and the ditch visible; its breadth from east to west forty paces, its length from north to south sixty paces.
When I came attentively to consider the situation of it, and the circumjacent ground, I easily discerned the traces of his whole camp. A great many ditches or divisions of the pastures retain footsteps of the plan of the camp, agreeable to their usual form, as in the plate engraved; and whenever I take a walk thither, I enjoy a visionary scene of the whole camp of Caesar as described in the plate before us; a scene just as if beheld, and Coesar present.
His army consisted of forty thousand men. Four legions with his horse. The camp is in length five hundred paces—the thirty paces beyond, for the way between the tents and vallum, (where a vallum is made,) amounts to five hundred and sixty; so that the proportion of length to breadth is as three to two.
This space of ground was sufficient for Caesar's army according to Roman discipline, for if he had forty thousand men, a third part of them were upon guard.
The front of the camp is bounded by a spring with a little current of water running from the west, across the Brill, into the Fleet brook. This Brill was the occasion of the road directly trom the city, originally going alongside the brook by Bagnigge; the way to llighgale being at first by Copenhagen-house, which is straight road thither from Gray's-inn-lane.
This camp has the brook running quite through the middle of it: it arises from seven springs on the south side of the hill between Hampstead and Highgate by Caen wood, where it forms several large ponds, passes by here by the name of Fleet, washes the west side of the city of London, and gives name to Fleet-street. This brook was formerly called the river of wells, from the many springs above, which our ancestors called welts; and it may be thought to have been more considerable in former times than at piesent, for now the major part of its water is carried off in pipes to furnish Kentish-town, Panrras, and Tottenham-court; but even now in great rains the valley is covered over with water. Go a quarter of a mile higher towards Kentish-town and you may have a just notion of its appearance at that place, only with this difference, that it is> there broader and deeper from the current of so many years. It must further be considered that the channel of this brook through so many centuries, and by its being made the public north road from London to Highgate, is very much lowerea and widened since Caesar's time. It was then no sort of embarrassment to the camp, but an admirable convenience for watering, being contained in narrow banks not deep. The breadth and length are made by long tract of time. The ancient road by Copenhagen wanting repair, induced passengers to make this gravelly valley become much larger than in Caesar's time. The old division runs along that road between Finsbury and Holborn division, going in a straight line from Gray's-inn-lane to Highgate: its antiquity is shown in its name—Madanlane.
The recovery of this noble antiquity will give pleasure to a British antiquary, especially an inhabitant of London, whereof it is a singular glory. It renders the walk over the beautiful fields to the Brill doubly agreeable, when at half a mile distance we can tread in the very steps of the Roman camp master, and of the greatest of the Roman generals.
We need not wonder that the traces of tnis camp so near the metropolis are so nearly worn out; we may rather wonder that so much is left, when a proper sagacity in these matters may discern them, and be assured that somewhat more than three or four sorry houses are commemorated under the name of the Brill, (now called Brill-place-Terrace ;) nor is it unworthy of remark, as an evident confirmation of our system, that all the d '.ches and fences now upon the ground, have a manifest respect to the principal members of the original plan of the camp.
In this camp Csesar made the two British kings friends—Casrelham and his nephew Mandubrace.
I judge I have performed my promise in giving an account of this greatest curiosity, so illustrious a monument of the greatest of the Roman generals, which has withstood the waste of time foi more than eighteen centuries, and passed unnoticed but half a mile off the metropolis. I shall only add this observation, that when I came to survey this plot of ground to make a map of it by pacing, 1 found every where even and great numbers, and what I have often formerly observed in Roman works; whence we may safely affirm the Roman camp master laid out bis works by pacing.*
tide may draw attention to the subject, the editor defers remark till he has been favoured with communications from other hands.
The following lines were written by an old and particular friend of the erudite individual who received them :—
To Richard Couoh, Esq.
O tu severi Religio loci!
Hail, genius of this littered study '.
Or tell what name you most delight in
And no clean margin left to write in.
In every tattered folio's dust.
And thine the antique helmet's rust.
Nor less observed thy power presides Where plundered brasses crowd the floor,
Or dog's-eared drawings burst their binding Hid by Confusion's puzzling door
Beyond the reach of mortal finding. Than if beneath a costly roof
Each moulding edged by golden fillet, The Russian binding, insect proof,
Blushed at the foppery of
Give me, when tired by dust and sun.
If rightly I thy name invoke, The bustle of the town to shun,
And breathe unvext by city smoke. But, ah! if from these cobwebbed walls,
And from this moth-embroideied cushion. Too fretful Fortune rudely calls,
Resolved the cares of life to push on— Give me at least to pass my age
At ease in some book-tapestried cell, Where I may turn the pictured page,
Nor start at visitants' loud bell.*
With the hope that the preceding ar
• Dr. 8tukrlcy*t Itinerary.
St. Surin, or St. Severin, which is his proper name, is a saint held in grea' veneration at Bordeaux; he is considered as one of the great patrons of the town. It was his native place, but he deserted it for a time to go and preach the gospel at Cologne. When lie returned, St. Amand, then bishop of Bordeaux, went out with a solemn procession of the clergy to meet him, and, as he had been warms,' to do in a vision, resigned his bishopric to him, which St. Surin continued to enjoy
* Dr }orifer'i Prrttnial Calendar.