Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 11.djvu/361

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


9'- 8. XL MAY 2, 1903.] NOTES AND QUERIES.


353


great sacrifices for his country, or brought greater ability to its cause" than Arthur O'Connor. HENRY GERALD HOPE.

119, Elms Road, Clapham, S.W.

KEATS'S 'LA BELLE DAME SANS MERCI (9 th S. x. 507 ; xi. 95, 195). There has been the belief all over the world that super- natural beings had the power, and often exercised it, of injuring men who interfered with them or crossed their path ; and that it was dangerous for men to be allied to female spirits. This belief did not spring from attempts to account for natural disease ; but natural disease often has been attributed to meeting with supernatural beings. Poetry need not be explained prosaically. Keats, though a doctor, was a poet. Horatio, meet- ing with the ghost of Hamlet's father, says : "I'll cross it though it blast me." Falstaff, in ' The Merry Wives of Windsor,' says : They are fairies : he that speaks to them shall die : I '11 wink and couch : no man their works must eye. Those that encountered wild huntsmen, vam- pires, and such beings were subject to injury. There are many stories concerning men who have met with elf-women and have suffered.

E. YARDLEY.

DUELS OF CLERGYMEN (9 th S. xi. 28, 92). The ' Diocesan History of Hereford ' says :

" About the year 1794 a duel took place between a Canon Residentiary, the Rev. Hugh Morgan, and his brother-in-law, Col. Thompson, in the parish of Sellack. The result was that Canon Morgan, who was unwilling to fire, but was unusually tall of stature, was wounded in the eye, of which he lost the sight." P. 246.

It may be added that he had to resign his canonry and the rectory of Ross both were conferred on his son-in-law, Thomas Under- wood. J. H. PARRY. Harewood.

"WHIPPING THE CAT" (9 th S. x. 205, 298, 455 ; xi. 276). Whatever other meanings have been attached to this phrase, there can be little doubt of its original sense. Shakespeare alludes in ' Much Ado about Nothing ' (I. ii.) to a custom of hanging a cat up in a wooden bottle, the bottom of which had to be knocked out by the successful competitor. A similar custom is found in Pomerania a few years earlier. Though the form of the custom is slightly different, there can be no doubt of the ultimate identity of the practices just mentioned with that of " whipping the cat." This is apparent when we consider the parallel usage of whipping the cock or hen (for refer- ences to this and other items, see Folk-lore, xi. 251 ff.). In some forms of this practice the cock was shut in a bottle ; in others it


was whipped or thrown at with sticks. Other animals treated in the same way were the frog, goat, bear, goose, pigeon, owl, deer, sheep, and stag beetle. The oprvyoKoiria, men- tioned by Pollux (' Onomastikon/ ix. 102, 107) and Aristophanes ('Aves,' 1299), was probably of the same nature originally. The precise significance of the customs is obscure, and the matter is not made any the simpler by the fact that the game of blind man's buff is clearly derived from the practices under consideration. The "blind man" is known in various parts of Europe as the cow, mouse, goat, hen, cat, fly, owl, wolf, fox, cuckoo, &c. Whatever the meaning of the custom, it was clearly one of wide distribution, and, judging by its numerous survivals in popular usage and children's games, of great importance. N. W. THOMAS.

" TANDEM " (9 th S. x. 308, 455 ; xi. 256). In the 'Autobiography of the Rev. Dr. Alexander Carlyle ' (Edinburgh, 1860), Dr. Carlyle states that in the summer of 1764 he went to Harro- gate in " an open chaise with two horses, one before the other, and the servant on the first" (see p. 449). In describing his return he says : " Blackett's horse was very heavy, and my tandem far outran them " (p. 458). T. F. DONALD.

AUCTION BY INCH or CANDLE (9 th S. xi. 188). The Illustrated Church News of 22 October, 1892, recorded that at the village of Corby, near Kettering, "the land belonging to the parish charities " had just

been let by the interesting old custom of a burning candle. A pin was inserted in the candle a short distance from the light, and the bidding advanced until the pin dropped. The ceremony was directed by the rector, the Rev. B. E. W. Bennett, and was attended by many of the parishioners. Bidding was brisk, and the fall of the pin was watched with considerable interest. When the heat dislodged ihe pin the last bidders found that they had the and on a lease of eight years."

GILBERT H. F. VANE.

The Rectory, Wem, Salop.

We always let our charity land here trien nially, and the auction is conducted on the same principle as described by MR. HIBGAME. A sandglass, however, takes the place of the candle, and the bids are offered while the Band is running through. The next letting vill be due in 1904. JOHN T. PAGE.

West Haddon, Northamptonshire.

I have among my notes the following refer- ences to this manner of sale : Historical MSS. leport, iv. 103-11 ; Palmer, ' Perlustration of Yarmouth,' ii. 109 ; Ayscough MSS., 3299, 98, p. 140 ; Archceologia, xxxvii. 389 ; Briscoe, ' Old Nottinghamshire,' 65 ; T. L. O. Da vies,