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tlom seen for the fog, and that every creature in love with life, flies the swamps of Hoo, preferring any station to its ague dealing vapours, its fenny filth, and muddy flats; a station, that during the winter season is destitute of every comfort, but fine eels, luscious flounders, smuggled brandy, Holland's gin, and sea-coal fire. We will here relate a whimsical circumstance that once took place in this neighbourhood while we were of the party.
It was at that ti me of the year when nature seems to sicken at her own infirmities, we think it was in the month of November, we were bound to Sheerness, but the fog coming on so gloomily that no man could discover his hand a yard before him, our waterman, whether by design or accident we cannot pretend to say, mistook the Thames, and rowed up the Yenlet creek. After a long, cold, and stubborn pull, protesting at the time he had never (man or boy) seen any thing so dismal, he landed us near Saint Maiy's, that church yonder, with the very lofty and white spire, and then led us to an alehouse, the sign of which he called the Red Cock and Cucumber, and the aleman he hailed by the merry name of
John Piper, And a very pleasant fellow John turned out to be; if he was a little hyperbolical, his manner sufficiently atoned for the transgression. The gloom of the day was soon forgotten, and the stench arising from filthy swamps less regarded. At our entrance we complained heavily of the insupportable cloud with which we had been enveloped.
"Ha 1 ha I ha 1" sang out the landlord, "to be sure it is too thick to be eaten with a spoon, and too thin to be cut with a knife, but it is not so intolerable as a scolding wife, or a hungry lawyer." "Curse the fog," cried our waterman, "Bless the fog," answered our landlord, " for it has made a man of me for life."
* "How do you make that appear?" we requested to know.
"Set you down, sir, by a good sea-coal fire, for we pay no pool duties here, take your grog merrily, and I'll tell you all about it presently," rejoined the tapster, when drawing a wooden stool towards us, while his wife was preparing the bowl, John Piper thus began :—
"You must know, sir, I was born in this fog, and so was my mother and her relatives for many past generations; there
fore you will see, sir, a fog is as natura, to me as a duck-pool to a dab-chick. When poor dame Piper died, I found myself exceedingly melancholy to live alone on these marshes, so determined to change my condition by taking a wife. It was very fortunate for me, sir, I knew a rich old farmer in the upland; and he had three blooming daughters, and that which made the thing more desirable, he had determined to give each a portion of his honourably acquired property. The farmer had for many years been acquainted with my good father, gone to rest, and this gave me courage to lay my case before him. The elder girl was the bird for me, the farmer gave his consent, and we were married. Directly after, I quitted the uplands for the fog, with a pretty wife and five hundred golden guineas in my pocket, as good as ever bribed a lawyer to sell his client, or a parliament-man to betray his country. This was a good beginning, sir, but alas! there is no comfort without a cross; my wife bad been used from her infancy to a fine keen open air, and our /oteland vapours so deranged her constitution, that within nine months, Margaret left me and went to heaven.
"Being so suddenly deprived of the society of one good woman, where could I apply for another, better than to the sack from whence I drew the first sample? The death of my dear wife reflected no disgrace on me, and the old man's second daughter having no objection to a good husband, we presently entered into the bonds of holy matrimony, and after a few days of merriment, I came home with Susan, from the sweet hills to the fogs of the ioudands, and with four hundred as good guineas in my purse as ever gave new springs to the life of poverty. Similar causes, sir, they say produce simitar effects; and this is certainly true, foi in somewhere about nine months more, Susan slept with her sister.
"I ran to the uplands again, to condole with my poor old Nestor, and some bow or other so managed the matter, that his youngest daughter, Rosetta, conceived a tender affection for Piper. I shall never forget it, sir, while I have existence; I had been there but a few days, when the good farmer, with tears in his eyes, thus addressed me: 'Piper, you have received about nine hundred pounds of ray money, and I have about the same sum left; now, son, as yon know how to make a good use of it, I think it is a pity it should go out of the family; therefore, if you have a fancy for Rosetta, I will give you three hundred pounds more, and the remnant at my departure.'
"Sir, I had always an aversion to stand thillij thally, ' make haste and leave nothing to waste,' says the old proverb. The kind girl was consenting, and we finished the contract over a mug of her father's best October. From the hills we ran to the fogl&ad, and in less than two years more, poor Rosetta was carried up the churchway path, where the three sisters, as they used to do in their infancy, lie by the side of each other; and the old man dying of grief for the loss of his favourite, I placed him at their head, and became master of a pretty property.
"A short time after, a wealthy widow from Barham, (of the same family,) came in the summer time to our place. I saw her at church, and she set her cap at Piper; I soon married her for her Eldorado metal, but alas! she turned out a shrew. 'Nil desperandum' said I, Piper, to myself, the winter is coming in good time; the winter came, and stood my friend ; for the fog and the ague took her by the hand and led her to Abraham's bosom.
"An innkeeper's relict was the next I ventured on, she had possessions at Sittingbourne, and they were hardly mine before my good friend, the fog, laid Arabella ' at all-fourt' under the turf, in St. Mary's churchyard; and now, sir, her sister, the cast-off of a rich Jew, fell into my trap, and I led her smiling, like a vestal, to the temple of Hymen; but although the most lively and patient creature on earth, she could not resist the powers of the fog, and I for the sixth time became a widower, with an income of three hundred a year, and half the cottages in this blessed hundred. To be brief, sir, I was now in want of nothing but a contented mind; thus, sir, through the fog you treated with such malignity, I became qualified for a country member. But alas 1 sir, there is always something unpleasant to mingle with the best of human affairs, envy is ever skulking behind us, to squeeze her gall-bag into the cup of our comforts, and when we think ourselves in safety, and may sing the song of 'O! be joyful,' our merriment ends with a ' miseracordia.'"
After a short pause, " Look, sir," said Piper, in a loud whisper, " at that woman in the bar, now making the grog, she
is my seventh wife; with her I had a fortune also, but of a different nature from all the rest. I married her without proper consideration—the wisest are sometimes overtaken; Solomon had his disappointments; would you think it, sir? she v/asfogborn like myself, and withal, is so tough in her constitution, that I fear she will hold me a tight tug to the end of my existence, and become my survivor."
"Ha! ha! ha!" interjected Mrs. Piper, (who had heard all the long tale of the tapster,) "there is no fear about that, John, and bury as many upland htubandt, when you lie under tne turf, as you, with the fog, have smothered wive*.''
Our Yorick now became chop-fallen, and a brisk wind springing up from the north-west, the fog abated, and we took to our boat.*
If there be truth in these narratives, the "lowland lasses" of the creeks, have good reason for their peculiar liking to "highland laddies;" and "upland" girls had better " wither on the virgin thorn," than marry " lowland" suitors and—
"Fall as the leaves do
And die in October." ,
Far be it from the editor, to bring the worthy "neither fish nor flesh" swains, of the Kent and Essex fens and fogs, into contempt; he knows nothing about them. What he has set down he found in " the books," and, having given his authorities, he wishes them every good they desire—save wives from the uplands.
Mean Temperature . ; . 61 '75.
Thomas A Becket. Strange to say, the name of this saint, so obnoxious to the early reformers, is still retained in the church of England calendar; the fact is no less strange that the day of his festival is the anniversary of the translation of his relics from the undercroft of the cathedral of Canterbury, in the year 1220, to a sumptuous shrine at the east end of the church, whither they attracted crowds of pilgrims, and, according to the legends of the Romish church, worked abundant miracles.
* The Sicambom Companion, by Thomu Nkholi, IMS, p. 160.
This engraving is from a drawing by Mr. Harding, who states that he made it from a very rare engraving. The drawing belongs to Mr. J. J. A. F., who favoured the editor by lending it for the present purpose.
St. Thomas ot Canterbury, bishop and martyr, attained the primacy during the reign of Henry II. He advanced the interests of the church against the interests of the kingdom, till a parliament declared his possessions forfeited, and Becket having left the kingdom, Henry seized the revenues of the see.
It appears from an old tract that this churchman was a swordsman. He accompanied Henry in one of his campaigns with a retinue of seven hundred knights and gentlemen, kept twelve hundred horse
in his own pay, and bore his dignity with the carriage of tiie proudest baron. "His bridle was of silver, his saddle of velvet, his stirrups, spurs, and bosses, double gilt. His expenses far surpassing the expenses of an earl. He fed with the fattest, was clad with the softest, and kept company with the pleasantest. And the king made him his chancellor, in which office he passed the pomp and pride of Thomas [WolseyJ Cardinal, as far as the one's shrine passeth the other's tomb in glory and riches. And, after that, he was a man of war, and captain of five or six thousand men in full harness, as bright as St. George, and his spear in his hand; and encountered whosoever came against him, and overthrew the jollyest rutter that was in all the host of France. And out of the field, hot from blood-shedding, was he made bishop of Canterbury, and did put off his helm, and put on his mitre; put off his harness, and on with his robes; and laid down his spear, and took his cross, ere his hands were cold; and so came, with a lusty courage of a man of war, to fight another while against his prince for the pope; when his prince's cause were with the law of God and the pope's clean contrary."
After his disgrace by the king he wore a hair shirt, ate meats of the driest, excommunicated His brother bishops, and "was favoured with a revelation of hir martyrdom," at Pontigni. Alban Butler says, " whilst he lay prostrate before the altar in prayers and tears, he heard a voice, saying distinctly, 'Thomas, Thomas, my church shall be glorified in thy blood.' The saint asked, ' Who art thou. Lord?' and the same voice answered, ' I am Jesus Christ, the son of the living God, thy brother.'" He then returned to England, excited rebellious commotions, and on Christmas-day, 1170, preached his last sermon to his flock, on the text, " And peace to men of goodfWill on earth." These are the words wherein Alban Butler expresses the " text," which, it may be as well to observe, is a garbled passage from the New Testament, and was altered perhaps to suit the saint's views and application. Room cannot be afforded in this place for particulars of his preceding conduct, or an exact description of his death, which is well-known to have been accomplished by "four knights," who, fr in attachment to the king, according to the brutal manners of those days, revenged his quarrel by killing St. Thomas, while at prayers in Canterbury cathedral.
The following interesting paper relates to one of the knights who slew Becket—
Sir William De Tracy.
To the Editor of the Every-Day Book.
Sir,—I beg leave to transmit to you •n account of the burialplace of sir Wil«ara de Tracy, one of the murderers of Thomas a Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, in the reign <Jf Henry the Second. I regret, at the same time, that distance
from the spot precludes the possibility of my taking a drawing of the tomb, but I have by me its measurement, and the inscription, which I copied with as great care as possible when there.
The parish church of Morthoe, probably built by Tracy himself, is situated on the bold and rocky coast of the north of Devon. It stands on an eminence, near the sea-shore, is sheltered by hills on the north and south, but open towards the west, on which side is the fine bay of Woolacombe. The interior of the church presents the humblest appearance; its length is near 80 feet, its breadth 18, excepting the middle, which, with an aisle, measures 30. On the west side is a recess, 15 feet by 14, in the centre of which is the vault, containing the remains of de Tracy. The rustic inhabitants of the parish can give no other account of the tomb than the traditionary one, that it contains the remains of a giant, to whom, in the olden time, all that part of the country belonged.
The vault itself is 2 feet 4 in. high; 7 feet 6 in. long at the base; three feet and a half broad at one end of ditto, and two feet and a half, at the other. The large black slab covering the top of the vault is half a foot in thickness. Engraved on this slab is the figure of a person in robes, holding a chalice in one hand; and round the border is an inscription, which is now almost illegible. I had a drawing of the whole, which I hare lost, but with the account I wrote at the time of visiting the place, I have preserved the inscription, as far as I was able to make it out.*
On the east side of the vault are three armorial bearings, and the carved figures of two nuns; on the north is the crucifixion; on the west side, there is nothing but Gothic carving; and the south end is plain.
An old and respectable farmer, residing at Morthoe, informed me that about fifty or sixty years ago "a gentleman from London" came down to take an account of the tomb, and carried away with him the skull and one of the thigh bones of de Tracy. He opened and examined the vault with the connivance of a negligent and eccentric minister, then resident in the parish, who has left behind him a fame by no means to be envied.
* Unfortunately it was not discovered that tome of the letters, in the inscription referred to, could not be represented by the usual Saxon types, till it was too late to remedy the accident by havinc them engraven on wood ; and hence the inscription is, of necessity, omitted.—Editor.
The gentleman alluded to by the worthy yeoman was no doubt the celebrated antiquary Gough, who, in his "Sepulchral Monuments in Great Britain," has given a long account of the life and burialplace of Tracy. In his introduction to that laborious and very valuable work, page ciii. he says :—" The instances of figures cut in the slab, and not inlaid with metal, nor always blacked, are not uncommon." Among the instances which he cites to illustrate this remark, he mentions the slab on the vault of " William de Tracy, Kector of Morthoe, Devon, 1322."—Here we find the gigantic knight dwindled to a parson ; and the man whose name should be for ever remembered with gratitude by his countrymen, the hero who happily achieved a far more arduous enterprise, a work of greater glory than did the renowned but fabled saint, over the devour
ing dragon—forgotten beneath the robe of an obscure village rector! The parish of Morthoe is, however, not a rectory, but what is called a " perpetual curacy," and the living is at present not worth much more than seventy pounds per annum.
Since I have, by the merest accident, got hold of Gough, I will extract what he records of the forgotten Tracy, as it may not be unentertaining to the lover of history to peruse a detail of the ultimate fate of one of the glorious four, who delivered their country from perhaps the greatest pest that was ever sent to scourge it.
"William de Tracy, one of the murderers of Becket, has been generally supposed, on the authority of Mr. Kisdon, (p. 116.) to have built an aisle in the church of Morthoe, Devon; and to have therein an altar-tomb about 2 feet high, with his figure engraven on a grey slab of Purbeck marble, 7 feet by 3, and 7 inches thick, and this inscription, [in Saxon capitals,]
"SYRE [Guillau] ME DE TRACY [gist icy, Diu de son all ME EYT MERCY.
'' On the upper end of this tomb is carved in relief the crucifixion, with the virgin and St. John, and on the north side some Gothic arches, and these three coats; I. Az. 3 lions passant guardant, Arg. 2. Arg. 3. two bars, G. Az. a saltire,
Or. The first of these is the coat of
William Camville, formerly patron of this church: the second, that of the Martins, formerly lords of Barnstaple, who had lands in this neighbourhood: the third, that of the Saint Albim, who had also estates in the adjoining parish of Georgeham.
"The figure on the slab is plainly that of a priest in his sacerdotal habit, holding a chalice between his hands, as
if in the act of consecration. Bishop
Stapledon's register, though it does not contain the year of his institution, fixes the date of his death in the following terms, ' Anno, 1322, 16 Deer. Thomas Robertus pr mental, ad eccles. de Morthoe vacantem per mortem Wilhelmi de Tract, (lie dominie, primo post nativ. Virginis per mortem Will, de Campvill.'
"The era of the priest is therefore 140 years later than that of the knight. It does not appear by the episcopal registers that the Trades were ever patrons of Morthoe, except in the following instances :—
"Anno, 1257, Cal. Junii, John Allworthy, presented by Henry de Traci, guardian of the lands and heirs of Ralph de Brag. Anno, 1275. Thomas Capellanus was presented to this rectory by Philip de Weston. In 1330, Feb. 5, Henry de la Mace was presented to this rectory by William de Camville. In 1381, Richard Hopkins was presented by the dean and chapter of Exeter, who are still patrons.
"It is probable that the stone with the inscription to William de Tracy did not originally belong to the altar-tomb on which it now lies; but by the arms seems rather to have been erected for the patron William de Camville, it being unusual in those days to raise so handsome a monument for a priest, especially as the altartomb and slab are of very different materials, and the benefice itself is of very inconsiderable value. It is also probable the monument of Traci lay on the ground, and that when this monument was broken open, according to Risdon, in the last century, this purbeck slab was placed upon the altar-tomb though it did not at first belong to it.
"The Devonshire antiquaries assert that sir William de Tracy retired to this place after he had murdered Becket. But this tradition seems to rest on no better au