Notes and Queries, Number 169, January 22, 1853 online

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"When found, make a note of." - CAPTAIN CUTTLE.

* * * * *

No. 169.]
[Price Fourpence. Stamped Edition 5d.

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NOTES: - Page

Blackguard, by Sir J. Emerson Tennent 77

Predictions of the Fire and Plague of London, No. I.,
by T. Sternberg 79

Notes and Queries on Bacon's Essays, No. II., by,
P. J. F. Gantillon, B.A. 80

FOLK LORE: - Irish Superstitious Customs - Charm for,
Warts - The Devil - "Winter Thunder," &c. 81

Malta the Burial-place of Hannibal 81

MINOR NOTES: - Waterloo - "Tuch" - The Dodo - Francis I. 82


Dr. Anthony Marshall 83

Lindis, Meaning of 83

MINOR QUERIES: - Smock Marriage in New York - The broken
Astragalus - Penardo and Laissa - St. Adulph - St. Botulph -
Tennyson - "Ma Ninette," &c. - Astronomical Query - Chaplains
to Noblemen - "More" Queries - Heraldic Query - "By Prudence
guided," &c. - Lawyers' Bags - Master Family - Passage in
Wordsworth - Govett Family - Sir Kenelm Digby - Riddles -
Straw Bail - Wages in the West in 1642 - Literary Frauds
of Modern Times 84

MINOR QUERIES WITH ANSWERS: - "Very like a Whale" - Wednesday
a Litany Day - "Thy Spirit, Independence," &c. - "Hob and
nob," Meaning of 86


Wellesley Pedigree, by John D'Alton 87

Consecrated Rings for Epilepsy 88

Turner's View of Lambeth Palace, by J. Walter, &c. 89

Etymological Traces of the social Position of our Ancestors,
by C. Forbes, &c. 90

Goldsmiths' Year-marks, by W. Chaffers, Jun., and H. T.
Ellacombe 90

Editions of the Prayer-Book prior to 1662, by W. Sparrow
Simpson, B.A. 91

PHOTOGRAPHIC NOTES AND QUERIES: - Originator of the Collodion
Process - Mr. Weld Taylor's Process - Dr. Diamond's Services
to Photography - Simplification of the Wax-paper Process 92

The Burial Service said by Heart, by Mackenzie Wallcott,
M.A., &c. 94

REPLIES TO MINOR QUERIES: - Mary Queen of Scots' Gold
Cross - Jennings Family - Adamson's "England's Defence" -
Chief Justice Thomas Wood - Aldiborontiphoscophornio -
Statue of St. Peter at Rome - Old Silver Ornament -
"Plurima, pauca, nihil" - "Pork-pisee" and "Wheale" - Did
the Carians use Heraldic Devices? - Herbert Family -
Children crying at Baptism, &c. 95


Notes on Books, &c. 97

Books and Odd Volumes wanted 98

Notices to Correspondents 98

Advertisements 99

* * * * *



In some of the earlier numbers of "N. & Q.," there occur disquisitions as
to the origin of the term _blackguard_, and the time at which it came into
use in England in its present sense. But the communications of your
correspondents have not been satisfactory upon either point - they have not
shown the period at which the word came to be accepted _in its present
sense_; and their quotations all apply to its use in a much more simple
meaning, and one totally different from that which we now attach to it.

One class of these quotations (Vol. ii., pp. 171. 285.), such as the
passages from BUTLER and FULLER, refer obviously to a popular superstition,
during an age when the belief in witchcraft and hobgoblins was universal;
and when such creatures of fancy were assigned as _Black Guards_ to his
Satanic majesty. "Who can conceive," says FULLER in the paragraph
extracted, "but that such a Prince-principal of Darkness must be
proportionally attended by a Black Guard of monstrous opinions?" (_Church
History_, b. ix. c. xvi.) And in the verses of BUTLER referred to,
Hudibras, when deceived by Ralpho counterfeiting a ghost in the dark, -

"Believed it was some drolling sprite
That _staid upon the guard_ at night:"

and thereupon in his trepidation discourses with the Squire as follows:

"Thought he, How does the _Devil_ know
What 'twas that I design'd to do?
His office of intelligence,
His oracles, are ceas'd long since;
And he knows nothing of the Saints,
But what some treach'rous spy acquaints.
This is some petty-fogging _fiend_,
Some under door-keeper's friend's friend,
That undertakes to understand,
And juggles at the second hand:
And now would pass for spirit Po,
And all men's dark concerns foreknow.
I think I need not fear him for't;
These rallying _devils_ do not hurt.
With that he roused his drooping heart,
And hastily cry'd out, What art? -
A wretch, quoth he, whom want of grace
Has brought to this unhappy place.
I do believe thee, quoth the knight;
Thus far I'm sure thou'rt in the right,
And know what 'tis that troubles thee,
Better than thou hast guess'd of me.
Thou art some paltry, _blackguard sprite_,
Condemn'd to drudg'ry in the night;
Thou hast no work to do in th' house,
_Nor half-penny to drop in shoes_;
Without the raising of which sum
You dare not be so troublesome;
To pinch the slatterns black and blue,
For leaving you their work to do.
This is your business, good Pug Robin,
And your diversion, dull dry bobbing."
_Hudibras_, Part III. Canto 1. line 1385, &c.

It will be seen that BUTLER, like FULLER, uses the term in the simple sense
as a _guard_ of the Prince of Darkness. But the concluding lines of
Hudibras's address to Ralpho explain the process by which, at a late
period, this term of the _Black Guard_ came to be applied to the lowest
class of domestics in great establishments.

The Black Guard of Satan was supposed to perform the domestic drudgery of
the kitchen and servants' hall, in the infernal household. The extract from
HOBBES (Vol. ii., p. 134.) refers to this: -

"Since my Lady's decay, I am degraded from a cook; and I fear the Devil
himself will entertain me but for one of his _black guard_, and he
shall be sure to have his roast burnt."

Hence came the popular superstition that these goblin scullions, on their
visits to the upper world, confined themselves to the servants' apartments
of the houses which they favoured with their presence, and which at night
they swept and garnished; pinching those of the maids in their sleep who,
by their laziness, had imposed such toil on their elfin assistants; but
_slipping money into the shoes_ of the more tidy and industrious servants,
whose attention to their own duties before going to rest had spared the
goblins the task of performing their share of the drudgery. Hudibras
apostrophises the ghost as -

"... some paltry _blackguard_ sprite
Condemn'd to drudgery in the night;
Thou hast no work to do in th' house
Nor half-penny to drop in shoes;"

and therefore, as the knight concluded - "this devil full of malice" had
found sufficient leisure to taunt and rally him in the dark upon his recent

This belief in the visits of domestic spirits, who busy themselves at night
in sweeping and arranging the lower apartments, has prevailed in the North
of Ireland and in Scotland from time immemorial: and it is explained in SIR
WALTER SCOTT'S notes to the _Lay of the Last Minstrel_, as his
justification for introducing the goblin page Gilpin Horner amongst the
domestics of Branksome Hall. Perhaps, from the association of these elves
with the lower household duties, but more probably from a more obvious
cause, came at a later period the practice described by GIFFORD in his note
on BEN JONSON, as quoted by your correspondent (Vol. ii., p. 170.), by
which -

"in all great houses, but particularly in the Royal Residences, there
were a number of mean dirty dependents, whose office it was to attend
the wool-yard, sculleries, &c. Of these, the most forlorn wretches seem
to have been selected to carry coals to the kitchens, halls, &c. To
this smutty regiment, who attended the progresses, and rode in the
carts with the pots and kettles, the people, in derision, gave the name
of the _black guards_."

This is no doubt correct; and hence the expression of BEAUMONT and
FLETCHER, quoted from the _Elder Brother_, that -

"... from the _black guard_
To the grim Sir in office, there are few
Hold other tenets:"

meaning from the lowest domestic to the highest functionary of a household.
This too explains the force of the allusion, in Jardine's _Criminal
Trials_, to the apartments of Euston House being "far unmeet for her
Highness, but fitter for the Black Guard" - that is, for the scullions and
lowest servants of an establishment. SWIFT employs the word in this sense
when he says, in the extract quoted by Dr. Johnson in his _Dictionary_ in
illustration of the meaning of _blackguard_, -

"Let a black-guard boy be always about the house to send on your
errands, and go to market for you on rainy days."

It will thus be seen, that of the six authors quoted in "N. & Q." no one
makes use of the term _black guard_ in an opprobrious sense such as
attaches to the more modern word "blackguard;" and that they all wrote
within the first fifty years of the seventeenth century. It must therefore
be subsequent not only to that date, but to the reign of Queen Anne, that
we are to look for its general acceptance in its present contumelious
sense. And I believe that its introduction may be traced to a recent
period, and to a much more simple derivation than that investigated by your

I apprehend that the present term, "a blackguard," is of French origin; and
that its importation into our language was subsequent to the Restoration of
Charles II., A.D. 1660. There is a corresponding term in French, _blague_,
which, like our English adaptation, is not admissible in good society. It
is defined by Bescherelles, in his great _Dictionnaire National_, to mean
"fanfaronnade, hâblerie, mensonge; bourde, gasconade:" and to {79} be "un
mot populaire et bas, dont les personnes bien élevées évitent de se
servir." From _blague_ comes the verb _blaguer_, which the same authority
says means "dire des blagues; mentir pour le plaisir de mentir." And from
_blaguer_ comes the substantive _blagueur_, which is, I apprehend, the
original of our English word _blackguard_. It is described by Bescherelles
as a "diseur de sornettes et de faussetées; hâbleur, fanfaron. Un
_blagueur_ est un menteur, mais un menteur qui a moins pour but de tromper
que de se faire valoir."

The English term has, it will be observed, a somewhat wider and more
offensive import than the French: and the latter being rarely to be found
amongst educated persons, or in dictionaries, it may have escaped the
etymologists who were in search of a congener for its English derivative.
Its pedigree is, however, to be sought in philological rather than
archæological records. Within the last two centuries, a number of words of
honest origin have passed into an opprobrious sense; for example, the
oppressed tenants of Ireland are spoken of by SPENSER and SIR JOHN DAVIES
as "_villains_." In our version of the Scriptures, "_cunning_" implies
merely skill in music and in art. SHAKSPEARE employs the word "_vagabond_"
as often to express pity as reproach; and I think it will be found, that as
a _knave_, prior to the reign of Elizabeth, meant merely a serving man, so
a _blackguard_ was the name for a pot-boy or scullion in the reign of Queen
Anne. The transition into its more modern meaning took place at a later
period, on the importation of a foreign word, to which, being already
interchangeable in sound, it speedily became assimilated in sense.


* * * * *


"It was a trim worke indeede, and a gay world no doubt for some idle
cloister-man, mad merry friers, and lusty abbey-lubbers; when
themselves were well whittled, and their paunches pretily stuffed, to
fall a prophesieing of the woefull dearths, famines, plagues, wars, &c.
of the dangerous days imminent." - Harvey's _Discoursive Probleme_,
Lond. 1588.

Among the sly hits at our nation, which abound in the lively pages of the
Sieur d'Argenton, is one to the effect that an Englishman always has an old
prophecy in his possession. The worthy Sieur is describing the meeting of
Louis X. and our Henry II. near Picquini, where the Chancellor of England
commenced his harangue by alluding to an ancient prophecy which predicted
that the Plain of Picquini should be the scene of a memorable and lasting
peace between the two nations. "The Bishop," says Commines, "commença par
une prophétie, dont," adds he, _en parenthèse_, "les Anglois ne sont jamais
despourveus."[1] Even at this early period, we had thus acquired a
reputation for prophecies, and it must be confessed that our chronicles
abound in passages which illustrate the justice of the Sieur's sarcasm.
From the days of York and Lancaster, when, according to Lord Northampton
"bookes of beasts and babyes were exceeding ryfe, and current in every
quarter and corner of the realme,"[2] up to the time of Napoleon's
projected invasion, when the presses of the Seven Dials were unusually
prolific in visions and predictions, pandering to the popular fears of the
country - our national character for vaticination has been amply sustained
by a goodly array of prophets, real or pretended, whose lucubrations have
not even yet entirely lost their influence upon the popular mind. To this
day, the ravings of Nixon are "household words" in Cheshire; and I am told
that a bundle of "Dame Shipton's Sayings" still forms a very saleable
addition to the pack of a Yorkshire pedlar. Recent discoveries in
biological science have given to the subject of popular prophecies a
philosophical importance beyond the mere curiosity or strangeness of the
details. Whether or not the human mind, under certain conditions, becomes
endowed with the prescient faculty, is a question I do not wish to discuss
in your pages: I merely wish to direct attention to a neglected and not
uninteresting chapter in the curiosities of literature.

In delving among what may be termed the popular religious literature of the
latter years of the Commonwealth, and early part of the reign of Charles,
we become aware of the existence of a kind of nightmare which the public of
that age were evidently labouring under - a strong and vivid impression that
some terrible calamity was impending over the metropolis. Puritanic
tolerance was sorely tried by the licence of the new Court; and the pulpits
were soon filled with enthusiasts of all sects, who railed in no measured
terms against the monster city - the city Babylon - the bloody city! as they
loved to term her: proclaiming with all the fervour of fanaticism that the
measure of her iniquities was well nigh full, and the day of her extinction
at hand. The press echoed the cry; and for some years before and after the
Restoration, it teemed with "warnings" and "visions," in which the
approaching destruction is often plainly predicted. One of the earliest of
these prefigurations occurs in that Leviathan of Sermons, _God's Plea for
Nineveh, or London's Precedent for Mercy_, by Thomas Reeve: London, 1657.
Speaking of London, he says:

It was Troy-novant, it is Troy le grand, and it will be Troy
l'extinct." - P. 217.

{80} And again:

"Methinks I see you bringing pick-axes to dig downe your owne walls,
and kindling sparks that will act all in a flame from one end of the
city to the other." - P. 214.

And afterwards, in a strain of rough eloquence:

"This goodly city of yours all in shreds, ye may seek for a threshold
of your antient dwellings, for a pillar of your pleasant habitations,
and not find them; all your spacious mansions and sumptuous monuments
are then gone.... Wo unto us, our sins have pulled down our houses,
shaken down our city; we are the most harbourlesse featlesse people in
the world.... Foxes have holes, and the fowls of the air nests, but we
have neither; our sins have deprived us both of couch and covert. What
inventions shall ye then be put to, to secure yourselves, when your
sins shall have shut up all the conduits of the city, and suffer only
the Liver conduit to run[3]; when they allow you no showers of rain,
but showers of blood; when ye shall see no men of your incorporation,
but the mangl'd citizen; nor hear no noise in your streets but the
crys, the shrieks, the yells and pangs of gasping, dying men; when,
amongst the throngs of associates, not a man will own you or come near
you," &c. - Pp. 221. _et seq._

After alluding to the epidemics of former ages, he thus alludes to the
coming plague:

"It will chase men out of their houses, as if there was some fierce
enemy pursuing them, and shut up shop doors, as if execution after
judgment was served upon the merchants; there will then be no other
music to be heard but doleful knells, nor no other wares to be born up
and down but dead corpses; it will change mansion houses into
pest-houses, and gather congregations rather into churchyards than
churches.... The markets will be so empty, that scarce necessaries will
be brought in, a new kind of brewers will set up, even apothecaries to
prepare diet drinks." - P. 255.

The early Quakers, like most other religious enthusiasts, claimed the gift
of prophecy: and we are indebted to members of the sect for many
contributions to this branch of literature. Humphrey Smith was one of the
most celebrated of the vaticinating Quakers. Little is known of his life
and career. He appears to have joined the Quakers about 1654; and after
enduring a long series of persecutions and imprisonments for the sake of
his adopted creed, finally ended his days in Winchester gaol in 1662. The
following passage, from a _Vision which he saw concerning London_ (London,
1660). is startling[4]:

"And as for the city, herself and her suburbs, and all that belonged to
her, a fire was kindled therin; but she knew not how, even in all her
goodly places, and the kindling of it was in the foundation of all her
buildings, and there was none could quench it.... And the burning
thereof was exceeding great, and it burned inward in a hidden manner
which cannot be described.... All the tall buildings fell, and it
consumed all the lofty things therein, and the fire searched out all
the hidden places, and burned most in the secret places. And as I
passed through her streets I beheld her state to be very miserable, and
very few were those who were left in her, who were but here and there
one: and they feared not the fire, neither did the burning hurt them,
but they walked as dejected mournful people.... And the fire continued,
for, though all the lofty part was brought down, yet there was much old
stuffe, and parts of broken-down desolate walls, which the fire
continued burning against.... And the vision thereof remained in me as
a thing that was showed me of the Lord."

Daniel Baker, Will Lilly, and Nostradamus, I shall reserve for another


[Footnote 1: _Mémoires_, p. 155.: Paris, 1649.]

[Footnote 2: _Defensative against the Poyson of supposed Prophecies_, p.

[Footnote 3: "It was a great contributing to this misfortune that the
Thames Water House was out of order, so that the conduits and pipes were
almost all dry." - _Observations on the burning of London_: Lond. 1667, p.

[Footnote 4: For a sight of this extremely scarce tract, I am indebted to
the courtesy of the gentleman who has the care of the Friends' Library in
Devonshire House, Bishopsgate.]

* * * * *


(Vol. vii., p. 6.)

Essay I. p. 2. "One of the fathers." Who, and where?

Ditto, ditto. The poet. Lucretus, ii., init. "Suave mari magno," &c.

Ditto, p. 3. (note i). Plutarch. Does Montaigne allude to Plutarch, _De
Liberis educandis_, vol. ii. (ed. Xyland.) 11 C.: "[Greek: to gar
pseudesthai douloprepes k.t.l.]"?

Essay II. p. 4. "You shall read in _some_ of the friars' books," &c. Where?

Ditto, ditto. "Pompa magis," &c. Does Bacon quote this from memory,
referring to "Tolle istam pompam, sub quâ lates, et stultos territas"? (Ep.
XXIV. vol. ii. p. 92.: ed. Elzev. 1672.)

Ditto, p. 5. "We read," &c. Tac. _Hist._, ii. 49. "Quidam milites juxta
rogum interfecere se, non noxâ neque ob metum, sed æmulatione decoris et
caritate principis." Cf. Sueton. _Vit. Oth._, 12.

Ditto, ditto. "Cogita quamdiu," &c. Whence is this?

Ditto, ditto. "Augustus Cæsar died," &c. Suet. _Vit. Octav._, 99.

Ditto, ditto. "Tiberius in dissimulation." Tac. _Ann._, vi. 50.

Ditto, ditto. "Vespasian." Suet. _Vit. Vespas._, 23.

Ditto, ditto. "Galba." Tac. _Hist._, i. 41.

Ditto, ditto. "Septimus Severus." Whence is this?

Ditto, p. 6. (note _m_). "In the tenth Satire of Juvenal." V. 357., _seq._

Ditto, ditto. "Extinctus amabitur idem." Hor. _Epist._ ii. l. 14.


Essay III. p. 8. "A master of scoffing." Rabelais, _Pantagruel_, book ii.
cap. viii. (p. 339. vol. i. ed. Bohn, 1849.)

Ditto, p. 9. "As it is noted by one of the fathers." By whom, and where?

Ditto, p. 10. "Lucretius." I. 102.

Ditto, p. 11. "It was a notable observation of a wise father." Of whom, and

Essay IV. p. 13. "For the death of Pertinax." See _Hist. Aug. Script._,
vol. i. p. 578. (Lugd. Bat. 1671.)

Ditto, ditto, (note _f_). "The poet." Ovid, _Ar. Am._, i. 655.

Essay V. ditto. "Bona rerum secundarum," &c. Does Bacon allude to Seneca
(Ep. lxvi. p. 238., _ut sup._), where, after stating that "In æquo est
moderatè gaudere, et moderatè dolere;" he adds, "Illa bona optabilia sunt,
hæc mirabilia"?

Ditto, ditto. "Vere magnum habere," &c. Whence is this?

Ditto, ditto. "The strange fiction of the ancient poets." In note (_a_) we
find "Stesichorus, Apollodorus, _and others_" named. Whereabouts?

Ditto, p. 11. (note _c_). "This fine passage has been quoted by Macaulay."
_Ut sup._, p. 407.

Essay VI. p. 15. "Tacitus saith." _Ann._, v. 1.

Ditto, ditto. "And again, when Mucianus," &c. Ditto, _Hist._, ii. 76.

Ditto, ditto. "Which indeed are arts, &c., as Tacitus well calleth them."

Ditto, p. 17. "It is a good shrewd proverb of the Spaniard." What is the

Essay VII. p. 19. "The precept, 'Optimum elige,' &c." Whence? though I am
ashamed to ask.

Essay VIII. p. 20. "The generals." See Æsch. _Persæ_, 404. (Dindf.), and
Blomfield _in loc._ (v. 411. ed. suæ).

Ditto, ditto. "It was said of Ulysses," &c. By whom? Compare _Od._, v. 218.

Ditto, p. 21. "He was reputed," &c. Who?

(_To be continued._)


* * * * *


_Irish Superstitious Customs._ - The following strange practices of the
Irish are described in a MS. of the sixteenth century, and seem to have a
Pagan origin:

"Upon Maie Eve they will drive their cattell upon their neighbour's
corne, to eate the same up; they were wont to begin from the rast, and
this principally upon the English churl. Onlesse they do so upon Maie

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