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Bits n Bobs & Items of Interest

Index for 1965    Bits n Bobs    next - Calendar etc.    Counties    Towns & Villages
Photographs 1    Photographs 2    Photographs 3   Advertisements

Convict's Celebrated Prologue

          The phrase, "left his country for his country's good," originated with a Sydney convict. Charles Barrington, a notorious pickpocket, after a lengthened criminal career in London, was transported to Botony Bay. He received the first warrant of emancipation issued and died at a ripe age at Parramatta. He was the author of the celebrated prologue, commencing:-
          True patriots all; for, be it understood,
          We left our country for our country's good;
          No private views disgraced our generous zeal,
          What urged our travels was our country's weal.

The Oldest Tune

          "For he's a jolly good fellow!" is the oldest tune known and its origin is lost in antiquity. Research has brought to light that it was well-known to the ancient Egyptians, and that they probably got it from Babylon, but beyond this the trail is lost. Visitors to Lapland have heard the melody there; it is known to the native tribes of South America, and it is used by the Maoris and Arabs. It came to Britain when the Crusaders returned from the Holy Land, and it was used by these old-time warriors as a sort of war song when they were besieging Jerusalem.

Nature's Soft Drinks

          Man made use of Nature's own soft drinks long before he learned how to make them himself. He found that in certain areas water came through the ground sparkling with millions of tiny bubbles. These springs (or spas) became popular when people discovered their curative powers.
          People travelled miles to bathe in and drink the warm, sparkling mineral waters. In many parts of the world today people still use natural springs to cure diseases. During the 16th century scientists and physicians tried in vain to reproduce in laboratories the bubbling water from mineral springs. An English scientist named John Priestly solved the first mystery of spa water in 1772.
          He discovered that bubbles in natural spa water consisted of carbon dioxide. Priestly captured some carbon dioxide in a rubber bladder and squeezed it into a small barrel containing water. He plugged the barrel, and rocked it to and fro. When the barrel was opened, bubbling and sparkling water - like that from spas - poured forth. Doctors soon made use of Priestly's discovery when they discovered the medicinal properties of artificial carbonated water.

The Battle of Herrings

          This was a fight between an English force, bringing a convoy of food to the English Army then laying siege to Orleans, and French troops which tried to cut them off. It took place on 12th February, 1429, near Roveroy, and the French were defeated.

Lough Beg

          Visitors to Toomebridge are familiar with Lough Beg, but probably few are aware that in bygone years it was supposed to give warning of approaching events, whether of good or evil. A writer of the seventeenth century touches on this point and his explanation is interesting. "In addition to the Bann," he states, "the Lough receives the waters of the Moyola, which is extremely Bigg, furious and rapid after heavy rains."
          Then the waters of the Bann and Moyola met in Lough Beg and finding the outflow from the latter too narrow they overflowed the banks. Even this, however, was not sufficient, and in the quaint words of the old writer, "the Lough (Beg) not knowing how to dispose of its burden endeavours to return its load back into Lough Neagh. And so the Bann seems to run backwards by the Toomb into Lough Neagh." He tells us too, that when this happened the people imagined that it presaged some extraordinary "matter, or change in Government or otherwise."

The National Debt

          At the last published counting, the National Debt was 30,224,000,000. It has to be repaid because most of it is money that people have lent to the Government through Bonds, Stock Issues, War Loan, etc., chiefly during the two world wars. Some is money owing to overseas countries for help given after the last war - chiefly America and Canada.

A Benefactor of Larne

          Mr. William Chaine, D.L., of Cairncastle Lodge, who added a public park to his benefactions to the town of Larne, is a son of Mr. James Chaine, D.L., of Ballycraigy, Muckamore. Mr. James Chaine was M.P. for County Antrim from 1874 until his death in 1885, his colleagues in the representation of the constituency being, successively, the late Lord O'Neill, of Shane's Castle, and the late Lord Macnaghten, Lord of Appeal-in-Ordinary.
          The memory of Mr. James Chaine is perpetuated at the entrance to Larne Harbour by a tower, 90 feet high, built on the plan of the ancient round towers of Ireland. His place of burial is a neighbouring hill, where his remains were placed in an upright position, facing seaward, and wearing his yachting attire. It was a remarkable coincidence that the late Earl of Antrim, who died in 1918, directed that his remains should also be placed in an upright position, facing seaward, and his desire was duly carried out at Glenarm, some miles further along the famous coast road of County Antrim.

Earths Depth

          The greatest known depths on the surface of the earth lie in the Marianas Trench of the Pacific between the Marianas and Philippine Islands. Oceanographers have sounded to a depth of 35,248 feet there - nearly seven miles, or almost 7,000 feet deeper than Everest is high.

Laureate of the Fern

          It is one of the minor merits of Sir Walter Scott that he was the first who considered the fern worthy of being given a place in poetry. Before his day the poets had little to say of the fern itself,  though they alluded frequently to its seed, which was believed to render people invisible, and even botanists ignored it, classing it with thorns, briers, and other ditch trumpery.
          The coming of Scott changed all that, however, and in his pictures of nature the fern is prominent. Not only did he look upon it with the eye of a poet, but with the eye of a forester as well, and in that charming little pastoral of his the "Essay Upon Planting," pleads its cause eloquently. The example set by Scott was followed by the poets of the Lake School, who had much to say about the fern, and from that time to this the fern has never lacked a laureate.

Early Football

          According to some sources, football was a favourite pastime among the Greeks and Romans. The Romans called it harpastum, and the Greek name for it was espiskuros. Some authorities claim that football is mentioned by Fitz-Stephen as an amusement of the English in the time of Henry II, but this is doubtful, as it depends on the interpretation of a word which many hold means tennis.

The Truce of God

          This was an arrangement introduced by the Church about the year 1031, at first in the French province of Guyenne. Henry III, the Holy Roman Emperor, later proclaimed the Treuga Dei, or truce of God, throughout his realm. The effect of the truce was that from Wednesday evening to Monday morning in each week, and on all Church festivals, and during the seasons of Advent and Lent. warfare was forbidden.
          This left only 80 days in the year on which fighting was permitted. The truce endured for about three centuries and did a lot to minimise the evil effect on Western Europe of the strife and dissension which followed upon the disruption of Charlemagne's empire.

B.C. Siege

          The city of Syracuse, in the island of Sicily, was closely besieged by the Athenians, who had risen to great power and pride after the successful resistance they had offered to the Persians. Their fleet was commanded by Nicias and Demosthenes. Gylippus, a general of Sparta, the rival of Athens, came to the assistance of the Syracuse, and the Athenian admirals were obliged to surrender themselves prisoners of war. Had the Athenians conquered at Syracuse, it is not impossible that Greece would have played the part in the history of the world which the Romans afterwards played.

First English Dictionary

          Although Dr. Samuel Johnson is often credited with having written the first English dictionary, it has been discovered that Richard Huloet produced one in 1552, nearly 200 years before Dr. Johnson's publication appeared. Huloet included Latin synonyms in his, however, and Robert Cawdrey must be given the credit of having compiled the first dictionary in which only English was used. In 1611 Cosgrave published another dictionary entitled "A Bundle of Words." Prominent among the others who issued dictionaries before Dr. Johnson's time was Nathan Bailey, who in 1720 published the "Universal Etymological Dictionary," which ran into 26 editions. Dr. Johnson's publication, which appeared in 1755, contained 50,000 words, and was based on Nathan Bailey's work.

Life's Greatest Sweetener

          Because it is the age-old symbol of life, health, sweetness and happiness, honey is added to the top tier of wedding cakes. The qualities of honey were praised by Solomon, and the Celts considered no wedding feast complete without honey cake. The ancient Greeks mixed it with sesame seeds, and the Romans used it in the marriage ceremony of Confarreatio, or eating together.

The Window Tax

          The window tax was first levied in 1697, when William III was king. The owner of every house that had from one to six windows was liable to pay six shillings and in certain cases eight shillings, and the rate increased according to the additional number. Having once been imposed, it was difficult to get the tax repealed, and it was not until 1851 that this was done. Rather than pay for the privilege of light and air, many people had the glass and window frames removed and the places bricked up. One may often see buildings where this has been done. This cruel tax, which waged war against health, produced a revenue of 1,200,000 in the first year, and in the last year of its existence 1,856,000.


          Like most technical pursuits nowadays, medicine is helped on its way by electronics. This term denotes a branch of science, or perhaps technology, whose main concern is electrical devices that incorporate thermionic valves or their equivalent, such as transistors and the old "cat's whisker." The magnification and shaping of electric currents is the essential service which these valves perform in our television sets, hearing aids, electronic computors, and electrocardiographs.

Why "Sandwich" Men?

          Sandwiches were eaten by the Romans, who called them offula, but the modern sandwich may be said to owe its origin to an Earl of Sandwich who was so addicted to gambling that he would not stop for meals, but bade his manservant bring him a slice of meat placed between two pieces of bread. The men who carried advertisement boards in front and behind them were referred to in the House of Lords by the Earl of Shaftesbury as "Sandwiches" in 1867. This form of publicity came into vogue at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and the more fortunate bearers of the announcements travelled on horseback.

Who Were The Impressionists?

          This term came into use when the French artist, Claude Oscar Monet (1840-1926), and his associated gave an exhibition of pictures in 1874. These were mainly landscapes, and one of them was an "impression" of a sunrise. This school of painters disregarded the methods and canons of others and set down things just as they saw them. Monet's followers included Mary Cassatt, Renoir, Van Gogh and Gauguin, carried the process a step farther and set down on canvas not what the eye saw, but what the painters imagined to be the inner meaning of the subjects depicted.

What Was The Tearless Victory?

          The battle fought in Laconia by the Spartan king, Archidamis III, against the Arcadians in 368 B.C., was called the Tearless Victory. The Arcadians, with their allies, the Argives, had tried to entrap and destroy the Spartan Army in a gorge, but the Spartans managed to beat off their assailants, and though they inflicted heavy losses they themselves escaped unharmed. Thus the celebration of the victory, when the news reached Spartan, was not damped by any mourning, and it was indeed a tearless one.

Who Invented The Typewriter?

          The first really practical typewriter was that made in 1868 by an American printer named Charles Latham Sholes. He worked at it for some four or five years and was then able to interest in his invention the gun-making firm of Remington & Sons, of New York. As a result, the Remington machine was marketed in 1874. It had many of the characteristic features of our present-day typewriters. The typewriter doubtless owes something to the type printing telegraph of Wheatstone & Cook, and to a machine for embossing letters on paper for the blind, invented in the middle of the last century.

Charles Dickens

          Charles Dickens, a man whose name has become a "household word," wherever the English language is spoken, was born at Portsmouth. His father held a position in the pay department of the navy, and originally intended Charles for the profession of the law, to which, however, the future novelist showed a decided aversion. During his early life he was engaged as a reporter to the "True Sun" newspaper, and subsequently, to the "Morning Chronicle," an occupation which served as an admirable training for his future career.
          It was during this period that his first work, "Sketches by Boz," was written, and its success induced him to abandon the newspapers and devote himself to works of fiction. He is remarkable as being the first who adopted the serial form of publication. It is unnecessary to give a list of his works, or to make any comment on their excellence, as they are in everybody's hands.

First Smokers

          The introduction of smoking to England and, of course, eventually to Ireland, is linked, rightly or wrongly, with the name of that Elizabethan adventurer, Sir Walter Raleigh. Tobacco, of course, is a word of Red Indian origin. Raleigh had been to North America where he acquired from the natives the habit of smoking. The story of a servant, on his return to England, flinging a bucket of water over him in the belief that he was on fire is well known.

Trees' Music

          If you listen closely, each kind of tree is a musical instrument; the apple: a 'cello, the old oak: a bass viol, the cypress: a harp, the willow: a flute, the young pine: a muted violin. Put your ear close to the whispering branch and you may catch what it is saying: the brittle twitter of dry oak leaves in winter, the faint breathing of the jumpers, the whirring of hickory twigs, the thrumming of slender birch clumps, the mild murmuring of the sugar maple, and behind them all the thunder of whole bare trees in a headlong tide of air.

Australia's Largest City

          Sydney, with a population of around 2,000,000, is the capital of New South Wales and is the largest city in Australia and the fourth largest in the British Commonwealth. It is built around the shores of the first settlement in Australia, Port Jackson, where Captain Arthur Philip landed in 1788 with 1,500 persons including 800 convicts. Sydney Harbour covers over 20 square miles and is one of the world's best natural harbours. This has made Sydney the chief port in Australia and a vital trade centre. The bridge is 160 ft. wide and carries four railway tracks, two footways and six lines of traffic in the roadway.

Getting Weight Down

          Studies show that many a person who diets, a year or two after reducing is back to his previous weight.  Why?  Because we try to combat weight almost exclusively by diet. Forgoing exercise, millions of us in our sit-down civilisation expend so little energy that we cannot eat enough to satisfy our appetites without putting on weight. We condemn ourselves to a choice between accumulating fat or going hungry.
          What can we do about it?  If you are a city-dweller you can walk your way to normal weight. Fat creeps up on most of us by just a few calories a day. A dietary excess of only 80 calories - the amount in a slice of bread - will cause a 12-stone, chair-borne man to gain at least a stone in five years. Eighty calories are about when we would expend during a one mile stroll. He could keep himself at a trim 12 stone by walking 15 minutes to the office in the morning and back in the afternoon instead of taking the car.

A Watch
(From an early school reader)

     While this gay toy attracts thy sight,
     Thy reasons let it warn!
     And seize, my child, that rapid time,
     That never must return.

     If idly tost no art of care,
     The blessing can restore,
     And Heaven exacts a strict account,
     Of every mispent hour.

     Short is the longest day of life,
     And soon its prospects end;
     Yet on that day's uncertain date,
     Eternal years defend.

Icons and Their Traditions

          The famous icon of Our Lady of Tinos, which was brought to the Greek King Paul's bedside as he lay dying, is only one of many credited with miraculous powers. It is a small blackened painting of the Annunciation in a silver case, heavily encrusted with jewels. Special national prestige attaches to it because it was discovered on the island at the time of the Greek war of liberation from the Turks. It has once or twice been rushed to Athens during national crises. The word "icon" means picture. Icons are formalised portraits or representations of a sacred event. Their supernatural power is linked with the traditional technique of icon painting, which works from the dark shades to the highlights to symbolise the spirit shining through the flesh, and uses reversed perspective to project the figures out of the picture. Icons are spoken of as opening a window on heaven and letting in the light of eternity. Icon painting originated in the Upper Euphrates valley in the third century B.C. Icons were used to represent Byzantine emperors and given full honours during an emperor's absence. This custom moved over to religion, and in 787 the Seventh Ecumenical Council decreed that only these flat paintings could be objects of Orthodox Christian honour. (Statues, and anything in the round, were banned as graven images). Another traditional rule of icon painting is that good characters must look straight at us, so that we can make immediate contact with them. Bad characters must be portrayed side-view so as to distract their evil influence. Every Orthodox church is full of them; they are painted on walls and screens. They stand at the church door for the casual visitor to kiss. There are icons in homes and schools, even in shops and offices. Buses in Greece are not complete without their plastic icon fixed over the driver's head.

Blue Moon

          It is claimed that the phrase "once in a blue moon," has a factual origin, and that a blue moon has been seen from time to time in the sky. An Englishman who witnessed the phenomenon in 1944 says the moon remained blue for 15 minutes. Several other people reported having seen the "blue moon" at  the same time.

Colours of the Ocean

          Pure ocean water has a clear blue colour because salt water does not absorb the blue rays of sunlight as it does the red rays. The proverbial blue of the Mediterranean is due to the fact that there are few large streams carrying impurities into it, and there is a constant stream of salt water pouring in from the Atlantic. The blueness of sea water depends solely upon its saltness, thus the Arctic and Antarctic oceans, which are cold and not very salty, are vivid green in colour. The Yellow Sea, off the coast of China, is golden because of the sediment brought to it by large streams rising in the deserts of western China, and the dull red tint of the Red Sea arises from millions of microscopic plants called algae.

Longevity of the Pin

          Of all common articles in everyday use, the humble pin is one of the most necessary, besides being one of the oldest. In the very earliest times small spikes, probably thorns and the fine bones of fishes and animals, discovered on the sites of prehistoric lake dwellings, and now preserved in museums, served the same purpose.
          Among the remains of ancient Egyptian toilet articles are a number of pins, some of a crude, others of a more finished design. Most of these are of bronze, though a few of copper have been found. They were apparently used principally as hairpins, as well as dress fasteners and for other purposes. some have tops of ornamental gold, others of amber, and are curious and beautiful.
          Greek and Roman ladies fastened their tresses with metal pins, and some bronze pins have been found at Pompeii. The ancient Briton used those made of ivory, but these were comparatively rare, and regarded as a luxury. A Saxon pin found in a Kentish borrow has a brass stem and a gold head, ornamented with red and blue stones and filigree work.
          Pins are frequently alluded to by the writers of the Middle Ages, and, as they were expensive at the period, they were often given as presents by lovers to their sweethearts. The constant use of pins by ladies is mentioned by Heywood in his "Four P's." and in "The Pinner of Wakefield" occurs the line "My wench, here is an angel to buy pins." Silver pins were then very common, but metal ones made their appearance in 1488, and about the same time as Act was passed prohibiting their importation. Pearl headed pins are mentioned by Webster, the dramatist, in 1612, and hairpins were in use then also. In William and Mary's reign those used for head-dresses are described as :-

          "Pins tipt with diamond, point and head,
            By which the curls are fastened."

          The modern solid-headed wire pins date from 1817. Like almost everything else the pin has its share of superstition. Like other pointed articles it "should be lent, not given," else the giver and the receiver are sure to quarrel; while another popular saying avers that -

          "See a pin and pick it up,
           All the day you'll have good luck."

   - If the head happens to be towards you all is well and you will shortly make a friend; if, however, it is the end beware, for you will make an enemy.

          It may be added that the popular term "pin money" originated in Henry VIII's reign, when a law was passed prohibiting pins from being sold at more than 7s 6d a thousand. They were then an acceptable gift, as already mentioned, and instead of the pins a gift of money was sent which became known as "pin money." Later the term was extended to a sum of money "secured by a husband on his marriage for the private expenses of his wife." Today it has come to mean any money bestowed upon or earned by a woman and devoted solely to her own personal expenses. Addison, by the way, has recorded his dislike of the principle of pin money, and proposed that "needle money," as being a more thrifty name, should be substituted in its place.

The Touch of the Master's Hand

    "Twas battered, scarred, and the auctioneer
     Thought it scarcely worth his while
     To waste his time on the old violin
     But held it up with a smile.
    "What am I bidden, good people," he cried,
    "Who'll start the bidding for me?
     A dollar, a dollar! now two, only two;
     Two dollars, and who'll make it three?
     Three dollars once, three dollars twice;
     Going for three?" But no!
     From the room far back a grey haired man
     Came forward and picked up the bow,
     Then wiping the dust from the old violin
     And tightening up the loose strings,
     He played a melody pure and sweet,
     As sweet as an angel sings.
     The music ceased and the auctioneer
     With a voice that was quiet and low
     Said, "What am I bed for the old violin?"
     And he held it up with the bow.
    "A thousand dollars, and who'll make it two,
     Two thousand, and who'll make it three?
     Three thousand once, three thousand twice,
     And going and gone," said he.
     The people cheered, but some of them cried,
    "We don't quite understand
     What changed its worth?" Swift came the reply,
    "The touch of a master's hand,"
     And many a man with life out of tune
     And battered and scarred with sin,
     Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd
     Much like the old violin.
     A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
     A game, and he travels on.
     He is going once, and going twice;
     He's going and almost gone,
     But the Master comes and the foolish crowd
     Never can quite understand
     The worth of a soul, and the change that's wrought
     By the touch of the Master's hand.

Wiles of Witches

          In Irish folklore milk and dairy produce has a special attraction for the wiles of witches, and in the old days this danger was thought so important that the churns were protected by charms nailed under each. W. B. Yeats, in his "Irish Fairy and Folk Tales," says these consisted of a new horse or donkey's shoe, bound with three straws taken from the thatch above the door of the suspected witch's house, or the iron coulter of a plough, which was first made red hot and then boiled in milk. Salt was always put into the milk before it was taken out of the dairy, as another protection against enchantments.
          Robert Lynd, in his "Home Life of Ireland," tells of an old lady in County Meath who mystified all the countryside by appearing at the market every week with an amount of butter which she could never have got, without some outside help, from her two ill-fed, scraggy cows. At last somebody peeped through her dairy window while she was making the butter, and they saw her perched on a "creepie stool," with her head and shoulders thrust down into the churn, muttering some sort of incantation to the devil.
          Another woman who got her butter by the same kind of ungodly methods was taking it to the fair in a couple of big earthenware crocks. She happened to drop them, and they were both smashed; the butter went into the mud of the road. She took up what little she could, but, most of it was trampled into the road by the passers-by. No beast or bird would go near it, and the people said it was because they knew it was "ill-got."
          The belief in the malign power of the evil eye is widespread in many country districts, and an "evil eye" generally means a covetous or greedy eye. A Connemara woman said :- "Anyone who has a grudging eye, to cast it on a living thing would make it decay away, if it was not given to them."
          The country people get a bit of string and tie a number of knots in it; each knot has a prayer said over it, and then the string is tied to the cow's tail. Another specific is a bit of cloth stolen from the supposed witch's cloak and burnt under the cow's nose.
          Witches were able to change themselves into hares so that they could run unnoticed about a herd of cattle and suck the milk. Hares in both Scotland and Ireland are considered unlucky, ill-omened creatures, probably because of this.
          It is supposed to be a lucky thing to get a present of butter, for, as the people say in County Kerry: "There's luck in free butter and buttermilk. Don't refuse it, or it's the last free thing ye'll be offered till the cows calve again."

The Monroes

          Are the Monroes of Scottish or Ulster descent? Men of the name have played a prominent part in the history of both countries, and according to a book published some time ago, the ancestors of the family were driven out of Scotland when the Romans made their appearance there. That is tradition, but the book tells us that a chief of the family appears in history about the year 1,000 A.D. He dwelt on a hill or mount beside the River Roe in County Derry, and from this the family took the name of Mount Roe, which was simplified to Munroe.
          This chief answered the call of Malcolm II of Scotland for aid against the Danes, and for his services he received the grant of a considerable estate in the North of Scotland. In 1642 a member of the family, General Robert Munro, as in command of the Scottish Army that landed at Carrickfergus, and for the next half century the Monroes or Munroes played their part in the history of Ulster. a Monro fought at the Siege of Derry, and President Monro, U.S.A., who enunciated the famous doctrine that bears his name, was a descendant of the family.

Runaway Love Matches of Famous People

          When Gretna Green first became popular as a "marriage Mecca," about 1760, it was patronised by many famous people. More than one Chancellor of the realm, including Lord Brougham, seems to have had particular fancy for eloping thither. Lord Eldon, most canny and cautious of mankind, also hurried there in his youth with a certain "beloved Bessy." Lord Erskine, too, without any excuse of youth, rushed off to Gretna with his housekeeper, and, while the traditional "blacksmith" was performing the ceremony, he posed and postured in a tablecloth and the lady's bonnet.
          One of the strangest marriages recorded in the Gretna Green registers was that of Prince Charles Ferdinando Bourbon, the brother of the infamous King Ferdinand II, of Naples, in 1836, with an Irish girl. This couple were married four times - at Rome, Madrid, Gretna Green, and finally St. George's, Hanover Square, London, the last marriage apparently because London society was not convinced that they were married already.
          A remarkable elopement was that of Lord Drumlanrig, afterwards seventh Marquis of Queensberry, with Miss Caroline Clayton, daughter of General Sir W. R. Clayton, of Marden Park, Surrey. Instead of using the traditional post-chaise the lovers in this case made the journey to Gretna Green on horse-back. It was an agreeable season of the year for this method of travelling, and on May 25, 1840, they reached Gretna without mishap, having scarcely left their saddles - except for necessary refreshments and change of horses, it may be supposed. Lord Drumlanrig was 22 at the date of this marriage. A few years later he succeeded to the Peerage, and for some time held office in the Government as Comptroller of the Household. He died in August, 1858, as a result of a shooting accident, leaving several children, including a daughter who became well-known as Lady Florence Dixie. Lady Queensberry survived him till 1904.
          Six years after the Clayton-Drumlanrig marriage John Linton, one of the Gretna "priests," had the honour of performing the nuptials of Rose Caroline Mary Somerset, a daughter of the seventh Duke of Beaufort, who eloped to Gretna Green with Captain Francis Lovell, the son of a Hampshire squire. Lady Rose Somerset, it is said, first met the fascinating young officer at a country dance near the garrison town in which his regiment was stationed, and the acquaintance quickly ripened into love which defied social conventions - and locksmith! It is not known from which of the Beaufort houses the elopement took place; either Badminton in Gloucester, or Llangattock, in Wales, would have been a long journey to Gretna Green. But in 1846 several railways had been constructed, which facilitated travelling to Scotland, and as Captain Lovell's bride was over age, they could have had little to fear from pursuit. But, in taking this daring step, her ladyship surrendered her high rank, and it is hoped lived "happily ever afterwards." At any rate, she was blessed with several children before she died in 1885.
          Other famous marriages at Gretna were those of the Marquis of Hastings and Lady Florence Paget, who were, however, married at St. George's Church, Hanover Square, London, in 1864; and the great Admiral Thomas Cochrane Lord Dundonald. His uncle was bent on his marrying an heiress, and he prevailed on Miss Barnes, an undowered beauty, to fly with him to the Border. The gallant officer lost his uncle's fortune, but vowed that his wife was a rich equivalent.
          One of the last elopements to Gretna Green which startled English society was that of Lady Adela Corisande Maude Villiers, daughter of Lady Jersey, the acknowledged leader of fashion at the time. She was a girl of seventeen, and one day in November, 1845, walked quietly out of her parents' house at Brighton to the railway station, where she was met by Captain Ibbetson, of the 11th Hussars. They took the train to London, hurried to Scotland, and were married before the young lady's brother, who had been sent off in pursuit of them, arrived at Gretna Green.
          In making a runaway match, Lady Adela was following the example of her grandmother, Miss Sarah Child, daughter of the founder of Child's Bank, who was married at Gretna Green to Lord Westmoreland. The story of this romantic marriage has been recorded in the following words:-

          "The Earl of Westmorland, smitten with Miss Child's beauty - or her fortune - went to her father for his consent, but did not obtain it, for Mr. Child, in reply to his importunities, said, 'Your blood, my lord, is good, but money is better.' The Earl disappointed but not disheartened, was determined to have her. Having appointed a place for meeting, he eloped at midnight in a chaise and four horses; he had ordered horses to be in readiness all along the road, and at Shap had the foresight to engage all horses kept in the village to prevent any pursuer getting so soon to Gretna Green. Mr. Child followed them, and at last came up with them while changing horses at Hesketh, in the forest between Carlisle and Penrith. The father, in a fury, jumped out of his carriage, and shot one of the leading horses of the Earl's carriage. One of the Earl's servants at the same time ran behind Mr. Child's carriage and cut the leather which suspended the body of the carriage to the springs. The Earl proceeded with three horses, leaving the fourth dying. The Earl and the lady arrived at Gretna Green and were united long before the arrival of Mr. Child."
          Among the most interesting of other Gretna marriages were those of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, grandson of the dramatist, to Maria Grant, daughter and heiress of Lieutenant-General Sir Colquhoun Grant, of Frampton, Dorset, which took place in May, 1835; and Richard Lovell Edgeworth, the father of Maria Edgeworth, the gifted novelist. Mr. Edgeworth's marriage "over the anvil" was one of the earliest performed at the romantic village. Mr. Edgeworth was an undergraduate of Oxford, and the young lady who became his wife was an heiress.

The Age of Noise

          We live in an age of noise. Much of it is beyond our immediate control - trains, cars, buses, planes, concrete mixers, road drill and the like. But there is an increasing tendency, when we can be quiet in our homes, to fill in the silence with radio, television or records. No young people's party today is complete without a continuous background of music, through which everyone tries to talk.
          Leading psychologists say that many adults and nearly all children are afraid of silence. They will talk for hours on end just for the sake of talking. This can be observed on the buses, trains, and in cafes. Young people talk whether their conversation means anything or not to their neighbours. Noise is such a growing problem that many countries have founded organisations to study effects. Intermittent and frequent irregular noises can raise blood pressure, cause palpitation, and unset digestion. The remedy lies with us in providing quiet hours each day - rewarding hours in which we do not have to make "an effort to mask our inner emptiness by putting up a continuous stream of talk."

Flowers of Fate

          Strange and deep-rooted in the minds of many people are superstitions and legends connected with flowers. Hawthorn, for instance, lovely scented boughs of whiteness, filling the air with its sweetness, why should it not grace a tall pottery vase upon one's table? But dozens of people would hold up their hands in horror and say: "You mustn't bring the May into your house. It's so unlucky."
          Elder is another tree that must not on any account be plucked for household decoration, though its ill-luck does not prevent its being used for making elder-flower water, nor yet the gathering of its berries for making a country wine. From the elder, so the old chronicles say, was fashioned the Cross of Christ, and from the hawthorn was woven His crown of thorns, so both are ill-omened from the old association.
          Lilac should blossom in every country garden, because ghosts never approach a place where the lilac bush dwells. There is lucky lilac, too, though it is as difficult to find as a four-leafed clover. It had a petal with five divisions, and old-time lasses used to hunt the luck-lilac assiduously, as to swallow it ensured a faithful, loving swain.
          Rosemary is a flower of happy omen. Not often does one see it growing now, but the belief persists that where the rosemary flourishes the woman rules. "Rosemary, that's for remembrance," sighed Ophelia. Was she thinking of the old French custom of placing a few sprigs in the hands of the dead? In Germany it is used for weaving bridal wreaths.
          Marigolds are sacred to the gods in India, and many an idol's brow is decked with wreaths of these vivid-coloured blossoms throughout the season of their blooming. They had their uses, too, in mediaeval England, where every wise buttermaid planted them round the dairy. "The perfume of marigolds," said she, "is poison to witches, who, if you do not protect the churns, will wish away your butter. No witch will venture where the marigolds riot."
          Lavender, spreading its purple haze above the bushes, filling the air with fragrance, has a charming story woven round its birth. Originally a non-flowering shrub, it was used by Christ's mother, during the flight into Egypt, to dry her babe's linen. She had stopped to wash by a flowing brook, and as she wrung out the small garments and strewn them upon the bushes, she wished, as any Eastern woman would, for some aromatic herb with which to perfume them. When she returned a lovely scent was in the air, and beneath the line had sprung up the purple, sweet-smelling spikes.
          Mahomet has been made responsible for the glory of the geranium. It was merely a common mallow until his robe brushed against it, and straightaway it flaunted a scarlet head of flowers. Daisies were Cupid's gift of stars from heaven to a meadow that he loved. The first pansies were some youths, who, having discovered Venus at her bath, were punished by Jove got their prying at beauty unveiled. That is why, says the teller of tales, the pansies have such quaint, woebegone little faces.
          No flower has so many legends concerning it as the rose. In every age, in every clime, it figures. In mythology it is alternatively Diana's flower - a pure white rose; or Venus's emblem - a red rose. In old Greece it was the sign of secret knowledge, and as such was always hung in rooms where affairs of State, conspiracy, plot and counter-plot were under discussion. From this old custom has survived the expression "sub rose."

Wandering Jew Legend

          Perhaps one of the most remarkable tales that has come down through the ages is the legend of the Wandering Jew. This legend is supposed to have been first circulated in a pamphlet published in Germany in 1602. Immediately thereafter, the tale was told in other countries of Europe, when, strangely, rumours were heard of the appearance of an extraordinary being who styled himself the Wandering Jew.
          According to one chronicler, Jesus stopped to rest on a stone by a cobbler's house, while bearing His Cross towards Calvary, and was taunted by a Jew, who urged Him to go on. He replied, "I go, but thou shalt tarry until I return."
          The pamphlet tells how Paulus Von Eizen, Bishop of Schleswig, met at Hamburg in 1542 a Jew named Ahasuerus. This person said he was "eternal," and described how he had been sentenced to an undying punishment at the time of the Crucifixion.
          This German print was translated into most languages of Europe. Rumours abounded that a mysterious wanderer had appeared here and there throughout the civilised world.
          He is alleged to have presented himself in Spain in 1575, in Vienna 1599, Prague 1602, Lubeck 1603, Bavaria 1604, Ypres 1623, Brussels 1640, Leipzig 1642, Paris 1644, Astrakan 1672, and Frankenstein 1678. Munich received a visitation in 1721, Altbach in 1766, and Brussels in 1790.
          The streets of London are supposed to have been walked by Ahasuerus between 1818 and 1830. Of course, America was honoured with a visit. A Mormon, one O'Grady, is alleged to have seen the Wandering Jew at Salt Lake City in 1868.
          Four ministers of Hull tell in a published tract that in 1769 Ahasuerus was locked up in the local jail, "but the prison doors flew open to him whom the Almighty denied a resting place."
          There is a little to show, in any of the instances mentioned, whether the story was an entire fabrication, or whether some ingenious fellow was imposing on the credulous.
          When Ahasuerus was supposed to have been seen first in Germany, he was on the fringe of a crowd listening to a sermon.
          According to one writer, he was "tall, gaunt, ragged, bare-footed, with his hair falling over his shoulders." His demeanour was sad, and "he rebuked all blasphemies against the name of Christ, with awestruck severity."
          The manner in which he retained his youth is also interesting. The myth relates that he was 30 years of age when he taunted Christ, and that when he reached the age of 100 he fell into a trance, when his appearance of years fled from him, and he was again only 30 - the age at which his doom was pronounced.

The Tides

          The Theory of the tides is roughly thus; The earth is attracted by moon and sun, but by moon more than sun, because so much nearer. The water on the earth's surface, being so much more mobile that the land, is attracted by and follows the moon round the earth in a great wave. When the moon and sun pull together (new moon), or when moon and sun pull in opposite directions (full moon), we get high "spring" tides. When moon and sun pull at right angles to each other (half moon), we got low "neap" tides.

An Antrim Election in 1790

          Parliamentary elections today bear little resemblance to the contests of 140 years ago. An old volume, published in Belfast in 1790, bears the simple title "A collection of All the authenticated Public Addresses, Resolutions, and Advertisements relating to the Late Election if Knights of the Shire for the County of Antrim, together with a correct list of the Poll, alphabetically arranged, showing at one view how and when each elector voted."
          In those days County Antrim returned two members to the Parliament in Dublin, and four candidates sought the suffrages of the freeholders. The Hon. Hercules Rowley, Langford Lodge, and the Right Hon. John O'Neill, Shane's Castle, described as Independents, had represented the county in the previous Parliament, and they were opposed by James Leslie, Leslie Hill, Ballymoney, and Edmund A. Macnaghten, Beardville. The latter couple seem to have been rather shy in defining their political principles, but their opponents had no hesitation in describing them as belonging to the "Aristocratic or Lordly Party." The Independent candidates were opposed to the Government, and on the day of nomination they signed a pledge to the effect that, if elected, they would endeavour to secure certain reforms. The other two candidates refused to sign.
          There was only one voting place, Carrickfergus, and the poll opened there on the 17th May, 1790. No frenzied rush of voters took place. Polling was a leisurely affair in those days, but to quote from the old book:- "On the ninth day of June (being the 21st day of the poll) about twelve o'clock, Mr. Leslie and Mr. McMacnaghten withdrew from the hustings, having polled out their friends; the Independent committee continued polling all that day and about an hour the next morning, having sent home about 200 unpolled freeholders. At 12 o'clock the Sheriff, after making the necessary proclamations, cast up the books, when the numbers appeared - for the Right Hon. John O'Neill, 1,927; Hon. Hercules Rowley, 1,855; James Leslie, 1,708; Edmund A. Macnaghten, 1,499.

Harp of My Country

     Dear Harp of my country! in darkness I found thee,
     The cold chain of silence had hung o'er thee long,
     When proudly, my own island Harp! I unbound thee,
     And gave all thy cords to light, freedom and song.
     The warm lay of love and the light of gladness
     Have waken'd thy fondest, the liveliest thrill;
     But so oft hast thou echoed the deep sigh of sadness,
     That ev'n in thy mirth it will steal from thee still.

     Dear Harp of my country! farewell to thy numbers,
     This sweet wreath of song is the last we shall twine:
     Go sleep with sunshine of fame on thy slumbers,
     Till touch'd by some hand, less unworthy than mine.
     If the pulse of the patriot, soldier or lover
     Have throbb'd at our lay, 'tis thy glory alone:
     I was but as the wind passing heedlessly over,
     And all the wild sweetness I wak'd was thine own.

The Onion's Twenty-Seven Remedies

          It is possibly the paucity of information regarding the valuable properties of the onion as a germicide, disinfectant for ulcers, and as a remedy for pneumonia and tuberculosis, and all bronchial affections which accounts for its absence from the household list of remedies. Its near relative, "garlic," is a medicine of the highest antiquity.
          Pliny ascribes to the onion twenty-seven remedies; to garlic sixty-one remedies. He says that garlic has very powerful properties, and Aristotle, Solon, and Dioscorides state to the same effect. Diocles prescribed it for dropsy and for phrenitis. Prazagoras used to prescribe garlic for jaundice; he employed it also as a liniment for scrofulous swellings of the neck. Garlic, Pliny says, cures a cough. The leek furnishes thirty-nine remedies; is good for coughs, catarrhs, and all affections of the lungs and trachea.
          From time immemorial garlic, which is grown all over India, sold in every bazaar, and used very commonly in preparation of curries, has had a high estimation in domestic medicine, and also in the ancient systems of the Hindu writers. In the Middle Ages the hands were anointed with onion juice to prevent contagion in those exposed to infection.
     The Greek physicians used onions in wine in catamenia. Fever and asthma are said to have been cured by garlic, and it has also been claimed to be a bactericide against cholera.
          In the Dutch West Indies it is customary to disinfect the sick room by the use of onions. Large onions are cut into slices and strewn on the floor, and every other day are swept up and burnt. Here, too, garlic forms a staple article of diet at every meal. The natives who used garlic continuously are immune to the bites of mosquitos, and, when bitten at rare intervals, suffer no inconvenience from the bite.
          The laying of a piece of onion on the site of a wasp sting, or the bite of other poisonous insects, is said to allay the pain. A like application to the back of the neck is claimed to stop nose-bleed.
          It may be used with success in bronchial conditions, notably in bronchitis of the finer tubes when the patient feels "all stuffed up."
          An onion peeled and placed inside a trussed and cleaned chicken, game, etc., will keep it from becoming high.