Open main menu
This page needs to be proofread.

Her most sensational prophecies had to do with Cardinal Wolsey, the duke of Suffolk, Lord Percy and other men prominent at the court of Henry VIII. There is a tradition that on one occasion the abbot of Beverley, anxious to investigate the case for himself, visited Mother Shipton's cottage disguised, and that no sooner had he knocked than the old woman called out “ Come in, Mr Abbot, for you are not so much disguised but the fox may be seen through the sheep's skin.” She is said to have died at Clifton, Yorkshire, in 1561, and was buried there or at Shipton. Her whole history rests on the flimsiest authority, but her alleged prophecies have had from the 17th century until quite recently an extraordinary hold on the popular imagination. In Stuart times all ranks of society believed in her, and referring to her supposed foretelling of the Great Fire, Pepys relates that when Prince Rupert heard, while sailing. up the Thames on the 20th of October 1666, of the outbreak of the fire “all he said was, 'now Shipton's prophecy was out.' ” One of her prophecies was supposed to have menaced Yeovil, Somerset, with an earthquake and flood in 1879, and so convinced were the peasantry of the truth of her prognostications that hundreds moved from their cottages on the eve of the expected disaster, while spectators swarmed in from all quarters of the county to see the town's destruction. The suggestion that Mother Shipton had foretold the end of the world in 1881 was the cause of the most poignant alarm throughout rural England in that year, the people deserting their houses, and spending the night in prayer in the fields, churches and chapels. This latter alleged prophecy was one of a series of forgeries to which Charles Hindley, who reprinted in 1862 a garbled version of Richard Head's Life, confessed in 1873.

See Richard Head, Life and Death of Mother Shipton (London, 1684); Life, Death and the whole of the Wonderful Prophecies of Mother Shipton, the Northern Prophetess (Leeds, 1869); W. H. Harrison, Mother Shipton investigated (London, 1881); Journ. of Brit. Archaeo. Assoc. xix. 308. Mother Shipton's and Nixon's Prophecies, with an introduction by S. Baker (London, 1797).

SHIRAZ, the capital of the province of Fars in Persia, situated in a fertile plain, in 29° 36' N., 52° 32' E, at an elevation of 5100 ft., 156 m. by road N.E. by E. from Bushire (112 m. direct). According to Eastern authorities Shiraz was founded in a.d. 693 by Mahommed b. Yusuf Thakefi, a brother of the famous Hajjaj It is approached on the south from the Persian Gulf through lofty and difficult mountain passes (highest 7400 ft.) and on the north through chains of hills which separate the plain of Shiraz from that of Mervdasht, where the ruins of Persepolis are. It is surrounded by a low mud wall flanked by towers, and a dry ditch, and measures about 4 m. in circumference. There are six gates. The town is divided into eleven quarters (mahalleh), one of which is exclusively inhabited by Jews and called Mahalleh Yahudi. The population of Shiraz is estimated at 60,000, but in 1884 it was 53,607, of which 1970 were Jews. The houses of Shiraz are, in general, small, and the streets narrow. A great bazaar, built by Kerim Khan Zend, forms an exception to this; it is about 500 yds. in length and has a vaulted roof 22 ft. high, and contains many spacious shops well supplied with goods and merchandise. There are many mosques, the most notable being the old ]ama, a foundation of the Saffarid ruler Amr b. Leith in 894, now in a state of ruin; the new Jama, generally called Masjed Nau; the New Mosque, built by Atabeg S'ad b. Zengi, c. 1200; and the Iama i Vakil, built by Kerim Khan Zend in 1766. Shiraz still possesses the title “ Dar ul ilm," the “ Seat of Knowledge,” and has many colleges (madresseh), the oldest being the Mansurieh built in 1478 by Seyed Sadr ed din Mahommed Dashteki; the Hashimiyeh and Nizamieh date from the middle of the 17th century, the college called M. i Agha Baba was begun by Kerim Khan Zend, c. 1760, but finished in 1823 by Agha Baba Khan Mazanderani. Of the twenty caravanserai's, or more, which Shiraz has, the oldest is that called Car Chiragh Ali, built in 1678. There are several shrines of Imam-zadehs, the most venerated and rich being that of Seyed Amir Ahmed, commonly known as Shah Chiragh, a son of Mūsā Kāzim, the seventh imam of the Shiites. It was built c. 1240 by Atabeg Abu Bekr. Two of Shah Chi1agh's brothers and a nephew also have their graves at Shiraz. Within the town and in closing proximity to it are many pleasant gardens (bagh), among them the B. Jehan Nema (Kerim Khan 1766), where C. J. Rich, British resident at Bagdad and explorer of Babylon and Kurdistan, died on the 5th of October 1821, and the adjoining B. i Nau (1810); B. i Takht i Kajar (built 1087 by Atabeg Karajeh under the Seljuk Malik Shah; restored 1794 by order of Agha Mahommed Khan, the first Kajar ruler); B. i Dilgusha (restored 1785), &c. Close to the last-mentioned garden is the Sadiyeh, an enclosure with the tomb of the celebrated poet S'adi, and in a cemetery near the northern side of the town stands the Hafiziyeh, with the tomb of the likewise celebrated poet Hafiz, a sarcophagus made of yellow Yezd marble with two of the poet's odes beautifully chisel led in relief in a number of elegant panels upon its lid. A fine view of the town and environs is obtained from the narrow pass (tang), which leads into the Shiraz plain a mile or two north of the city, and “so overwhelmed with astonishment at the beauty of the panorama is the wayfarer expected to be, that even the pass takes its name of Tang i Allahu Akbar, the Pass of God is Most Great, from the expression that is supposed to leap to his lips as he gazes upon the entrancing spectacle ” (Curzon).

The most noted product of Shiraz is its wine made from the famous grapes of the Khullar vineyards, 30 m. N.W. of Shiraz, but only a very small quantity of it is exported, and religious scruples still prevent its manufacture on a large scale. The climate of Shiraz is agreeable and healthy in the winter, but unhealthy in the spring and summer. July is the hottest month with a mean temperature of 85°, February the coldest with 47°. The lowest temperature observed during a number of years was 21°, the highest 113°, showing a difference of 92° between extremes. The mean annual temperature is 65°. Earthquakes are of frequent occurrence; those in modern times which caused great loss of life and destruction of property happened in 1824 and 1853. Shiraz is the residence of a British consul (since 1903) and has post and telegraph offices. On a hill adjoining the Dilgusha garden stand the ruins of an old castle known as Kal'ah i Bender (a corruption of Fahn-dar), with two wells hewn in the rock to a depth of several hundred feet.  (A. H.-S.) 

SHIRE, a river of East Central Africa, the only tributary of the Zambezi navigable from the sea. The Shiré (length about 370 m.) issues from the southernmost point of Lake Nyasa and almost immediately enters a shallow sheet of water called Malombe or (Pa-Malombe), 18 m. broad and 12 or 13 m. long. A shifting bar of sand obstructs the end of Malombe nearest Nyasa, but does not prevent navigation. Below Malombe the bed of the Shiré deepens. The river flows through a mountainous country, and in its descent to the Zambezi valley forms rapids and cataracts, rendering its middle course for a distance of 60 m. unnavigable. The most southern and the finest of these cataracts is called the Murchison Cataract or Falls, after Sir Roderick Murchison, the geologist, who identified himself during the mid-Victorian epoch with geographical exploration in Africa. In passing the cataracts the Shiré falls 1200 ft. From the station called Katunga, a short distance below the cataracts, shallow draught steamers can navigate the river when in flood (January-March) to its junction with the Zambezi, and thence proceed to the Chinde mouth of the main stream. About I3O m. above its confluence with the Zambezi the Shiré is joined from the east by a smaller stream, the Ruo river, whose headwaters rise in Mount Mlanje. At the junction of the Ruo and Shiré is the town of Chiromo, and here is an extensive swampy region and game reserve known as the Elephant Marsh. The scenery of the lower Shiré is very picturesque, the spurs of the plateau forming bold, rocky crags overhanging the water. The river is studded with small islands usually covered by thick grass. A little before the Zambezi is reached the country becomes flat. The Shiré joins the main river in about 35° 25' E., 17° 50' S., at a point where the Zambezi is of great width and presents in the dry season many narrow winding channels, not more than 3 ft. deep, with intervening sandbanks.

The lower part of the Shiré is in Portuguese territory; the upper part is in the British Nyasaland Protectorate, to which it