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* Chambaud. Vol. II.-62.
É. is carried on a pole by the man on orseback, attended by those who are about to partake of the sport, and preceded by music. It seems to be a rustic amusement, and, perhaps, some light may be thrown on it by the following account from Miss Plumtre’s “Residence in France.” She says, that in connection with the church of St. John, at Aix, which formerW. to the knights of St. John of
erusalem, there is a ceremony which used to be called Le Bravade de St. Jean d'Air, instituted in the year 1272, on the return of the army which had followed Louis IX. or St. Louis, in his last expedition to Egypt and the Holy-land. According to Miss Plumptre, it was held on the eve of St. John the Baptist. A large bird of any kind was tethered in a field without the town, so that it could fly only to a certain height, and the youth of the place, those only of the second order of nobles, took aim at him with their bows and arrows in presence of all the nobility, gentry, and magistracy. He who killed the bird was king of the archers for the year ensuing, and the two who had gone the nearest after him were apointed his lieutenant and standardo he also nominated several other officers from among the competitors. The company then returned into the town, the judges of the contest marching first, followed by the victors: bonfires were made in several parts, round which the people danced, while the king and his officers went from one to the other till they had danced by turns at them all. The same diversions were repeated the following day; and both evenings the king, at the conclusion of them, was attended home by his officers and a concourse of people, among whom he distributed largesses to a considerable amount. At the first institution of this ceremony, the intention of which was to incite the young men to render themselves expert marksmen, the king enjoyed very extensive privileges during the year; but in latter times they had been reduced to those of wearing a large silver medal which was resented to him at his accession, of enjoying the right of shooting wherever he chose, of partaking in the grand mass celebrated § the order of Malta at their church on the festival of St. John, and of being exempted from lodging soldiers, and paying what was called Le droit de piquet, a tax upon all the flour brought into the town. After the invention of the arquebuse, instead of shooting at a live bird with arrows, they fired at a wooden bird upon a pole, and he who could bring it down was appointed king: any one who brought it . two years together was declared emperor, and in that quality exempted for life from all municipal taxes. This ceremony continued till the revolution. It appears from hence that this custom of shooting at a wooden bird on St. John's eve is very similar to that which the engraving represents, as the merriment of the Papeguay, or wooden bird, belonging to the month of March
Ancedotes of BRowNE WILLIs,
To the portrait of this eminent anti• quary at p. 194, is annexed the day of his birth, in 1682, and the day whereon he died, in 1760. That engraving of him is after an etching made “in 1781, at the particular request of the Rev. William Cole, from a drawing made by the Rev. Michael Tyson, from an original painting by Dahl.” Mr. Cole, in a letter to Mr. Steevens, speaks of the etching thus: “The copy pleases me infinitely; nothing can be more exact and like the copy I sent, and which, as well as I can recollect, is equally so to the original. Notwithstanding the distance of time when Dahl drew his portrait and that in which I knew him, and the strange metamorphose that age and caprice had made in his figure, yet I could easily trace some lines and traits of what Mr. Dahl had given of him.” Agreeably to the promise already given, some particulars remain to be added concerning the distinguished individual it represents.
Browne Willis was grandson of Dr. Thomas Willis, the most celebrated physician of his time, and the eldest son of Thomas Willis, esq., of Bletchley, in the county of Bucks. When at Westminster school, “the neighbouring abbey drew his admiration: here he loved to walk and contemplate. The solemnity of the building, the antique appearance, the monuments, filled his whole mind. He delighted himself in reading old inscriptions. Here he first imbibed the love of antiquities, and the impression grew indelible.” At seventeen he was admitted a gentleman commoner of Christ Church college; in 1705 he represented the town of Buckingham in parliament, where he constantly attended, and often sat on committees; in 1707 he married ; in 1718 he became an active member of the society of antiquaries; in 1720 the university of Oxford conferred on him the degree of M. A. by diploma; and in 1740 he received from it the degree of LL.D. On the 11th of February, 1760, he was buried in Fenn Stratford chapel, an edifice which, thoug he founded it himself, he was accustomed to attribute to the munificence of others, “who were in reality only contributors.” Of his numerous antiquarian works the principal are “Notitia Parliamentaria, or an History of the Counties, Cities, and Boroughs in England and Wales,” 3 vols. 8vo. “Mitred Abbies, &c.” 2 vols. 8vo. “Cathedrals of England,” 3 vols. 4to. and 4 vols. 8vo.—He attained a most extensive erudition in the topographical, architectural, and numismatic remains of England by devoting his life to their study, which he pursued with unabated ardour, uncheered by the common hope of deriving even a sufficiency from his various publications to defray their expenses. In a letter to his friend Dr. Ducarel, when he was seventy-four years of age, he says, “I am 100l. out of pocket by what I have printed; except my octavo of Parliaments, which brought me 151 profit, though I gave it all away, and above 20t. more to build Buckingham tower steeple; and now, as I hoped for subscription to this book, (his last work, the History of the Town and Hundred of Buckingham) am like to have half the impression on m hands. Sold only 69 copies, of which to
entlemen of Buckinghamshire, only 28.” i. the same year, 1756, he writes to one of his daughters, “I have worked for nothing; nay, except in one book, have been out of pocket, and at great expense in what I printed.” He considerably impaired his fortune by the scrupulosity and magnitude of his researches and collections, which he persevered in till he grew so weak and infirm that he had not strength to reach down and turn over his books, or draw up particulars with his own hands. Yet even then, in his seventyeighth year, he amused himself by inquiries concerning “Bells,” and obtained returns of the contents of belfries in nearly six hundred parishes of the county of Lincoln, which he entered in the “Parochiale Anglicanum."
An account of Dr. Willis was read to the society of antiquaries, by his friend Dr. Ducarel, who sums up his character in these words:—“This oi society, of which he was one of the first revivers, and one of the most industrious members, can bear me witness that he was indefatigable in his researcnes; for his works were of the most laborious kind. But what enabled him, besides his unwearied diligence, to bring them to perfection, was, his being blessed with a most excellent memory. He had laid so good a foundation of learning, that, though he had chiefly conversed with records, and
otner matters of antiquity which are not apt to form a polite style, yet he expressed himself, in all his compositions, in an easy and genteel manner. He was, indeed, one of the first who placed our ecclesiastical history and antiquities upon a firm basis, by grounding them upon records and registers; which, in the main, are unexceptionable authorities. Durin the course of his long life, he had visit every cathedral in England and Wales, except Carlisle; which journeys he used to call his pilgrimages. In his friendships none more sincere, and hearty; always communicative, and ever ready to assist every studious and inquisitive person: this occasioned an acquaintance and connection between him and all his learned contemporaries. . For his mother, the university of Oxford, he always expressed the most awful respect and the warmest esteem. As to his piety and moral qualifications, he was strictly religious, without any mixture of superstition or enthusiasm, and quite exemplary in this respect: and of this, his many public works, in building, repairing, and i. of churches, are so many standing evidences. He was charitable to the poor and needy; just and upright towards all men. In a word, no one ever, deserved better of the society of antiquaries; if industry and an incessant application, throughout a long life, to the investigating the antiquities of this national church and state, is deserving of their countenance.”
The editor of the Every-Day Book o. an unprinted letter written by
r. Willis to the learned bishop Tanner, when chancellor of Norwich. A copy of this letter is subjoined, together . a. fac-simile of its date and the place from whence it was addressed, in Dr. Willis's hand-writing, and a further fac-simile of his autograph at the conclusion. The epistle is written on a proof impression of “The Ichnography of Platform of the Cathedral Church of Christ Church in Oxford,” one of the plates in Dr. Willis's “Cathedrals,” relative to which, as well as other works, he sought information from his distinguished brother antiquary This letter is a good specimen of Dr. Willis's epistolary style of communication, and of that minuteness of investigation which is indispensable to antiquarian labours: it likewise testifies his solicitude for the education of his eldest
I am honoured with yours just now received, and though weary with a journey being come home to night after 3 days absence, and lying out of my Bed which I have not done since Sir Thomas Lee's Election in January, yet I cannot omitt paying my duty to you and thanking you for the favour and satisfaction ours gave mee—I have printed above 20 }. Stalls of Lincoln but it does not goe on so fast as I would have it, else I should soon come to Ely, but I doubt I shall stay a long time for the draughts, wherefore I pray when you write to Dr. Knight press his getting them done out of hand—I have here one of Christ-church which I write upon that you may give your opinion—I shall be very glad you approve it, wee cannot well put in more references. As to the ‘Prebendarys of Lincoln, since I have wrote 5 or 6 letters to the Bishop without an answer, I am obliged to be contented. I should be glad of Thomas Davies's Epitaph from Bexwell. He was vicar of Siston co: Leicester and A.M. as my Account says. I have only 4 or 5 to enquire after that I shall be so eager to find, viz. Joshua Clark (Prebendary) of Cester, who died 1712. I have wrote to his 2 successors and cannot hear one word: The others I want are John Davenport, Mr. Davies's predecessor in Sutton Prebend, and Henry Morland or Merland who died about 1704; but I would more particularly enquire after Thomas Stanhope, who, about 1668, was installed into the Prebend of Sutton cum Buckingham—I shall be thankfull for any Information of him, as I am of all opportunitys of hearing from you, and design to lay by your papers of Ely to send you again: but I
am teized sadly about Bishop Lloyd of Norwich's great Seal, and the circumscription round it, and have had 2 letters this week on that account: what my importunate correspondent wants is, the circle of writing round the Episcopal Seal in which he wrote his name Gulielimus: I am ashamed to repeat this Impertinence to which I pray a quick answer, especialy as to another subject of the greatest consequence of all, which is about placing my Eldest Son at Christ-church, where I design to make him a commoner, for he must study hard—I am to consult about a Tutor, and would gladly have one you have a confidence in ; is: are recoinmended Mr. Allen, Mr. Bateman, and Mr. Ward; now if you can answer for ever an one of these, and that he will, on your friendshipp or the Dean's, have a more particular eye to Tom, whom I dont design to continue above 2 or 3 years at most, I shall be very thankfull for your recommendation. And so pray dear Mr. Chancellor write soon and advise mee, but I hope your affairs will call you to Oxford, and that you will take mee in your way and see Stratford chapell, which is very near, and your ever i. and devoted Servant in all things,
M.D.,” his grandfather, through whom
he derived his patrimonial estates:
In honour to thy mem'ry, blessed Shade! Was the foundation of this chapel laid. Purchas'd by thee, thy son, and present heir, Owes these three manors to thy sacred care. For this, may all thy race thanks ever pay,
And yearly celebrate St. Martin's day !
A letter he wrote within three months before his death particularizes his regard of festival-days. Mr. Nichols transcribes a letter which he wrote very late in life, dated Nov. 13, 1759: “Good Mr. Owen, This comes to thank you for your favour at Oxford at St. Frideswide's festival; and as your Bodleian visitation is over, I hope you are a little at liberty to come and see your friends; and as you was pleased to mention you would once more make me happy with your good company, I wish it might be next week, at our St. Martin's anniversary at Fenny Stratford, which is Thursday se’nnight, the 22d instant, when a sermon will be preached by the minister of Buckingham: the last I am ever like to attend, so very infirm as I am now got; so that I stir very little out of the house, and it will therefore be charity to have friends come and visit me.” Mr. Gough's manuscripts relate of Dr. Willis, that “he told Mr. S. Bush he was going to Bristol on St. Austin's-day to see the cathedral, it being the dedication day.” It is added, that “he would lodge in no house at Bath but the Abbeyhouse: he said, when he was told that Wells cathedral was 800 years old, there was not a stone of it left 500 years ago.” Miss Talbot, “in an unprinted letter to a lady of first-rate quality," dated
from the rectory house of St. James's,
arish, (Westminster,) January 2, 1739,
umorously describes him and says, “As by his little knowledge of the world, he has ruined a fine estate, that was, when he first had it, worth 2000l. per annum, his present circumstances oblige him to an odd-headed kind of frugality, that shows itself in the slovenliness of his dress, and makes him think London much too extravagant an abode for his daughters; at the same time that his zeal for antiquities makes him think an old copper farthing very cheaply bought for a guinea, and any journey properly under: taken that will bring him to some old cathedral on the saint’s day to which it
was dedicated.” . Further on, Miss Talbot adds, relative to Dr. Willis on St. George's day, “To honour last Sunday as it deserved, after having run about all the morning to all the St. George's churches, whose difference of hours permitted him, he came to dine with us in a tie-wig, that exceeds indeed all description. 'Tis a tie-wig (the very colour of it is inexpressible) that he has had, he says, these nine years; and of late it has lain by at his barber's, never to be put on but once a year, in honour of the Bishop of Gloucester's (Benson) birth-day.”
These peculiarities of Dr. Willis are in Mr. Nichols's “Literary Anecdotes,” from which abundant depository of facts, the particulars hereafter related are likewise extracted, with a view to the information of general readers. On the same ground, that gentleman's collection is mentioned; for—it is not to be presumed that any real inquirer into the “Literary History” of the last or the preceding century can be ignorant, that Mr. Nichols's invaluable work is an indispensable assistant to every diligent investigator. It is certainly the fullest, and is probably the most accurate, source that can be consulted for biographical facts during that period, and is therefore quoted by name, as all authors ought to be by every writer or editor who is influenced by grateful feelings towards his authorities, and honest motives towards the public.
Dr. Willis was whimsically satirized in the following verses by Dr. Darrell of Lillington Darrell.
AN EXCELLENT BALLAD. To the Tune of Chevy-Chace.
Whilome there dwelt near Buckingham, That famous county town,
At a known place, hight Whaddon Chace, A 'squire of odd renown.—