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Page:Notes and Queries - Series 10 - Volume 12.djvu/494

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406


NOTES AND QUERIES. [10 s. xn. NOV. 20, im


Burlington Arms," and the number of old houses clustered round the parish church combine to render Chiswick perhaps the most interesting waterside parish whose memorials have not been dealt with in detail in any modern work. And one would long to see the houses in the Mall dealt with in the manner of those in Cheyne Walk in the Committee's recent volume.

WILLIAM McMuRRAY.

NELLY O'BRIEN'S DEATH. The date of the death of this famous beauty, as given in Leslie and Taylor's ' Life of Reynolds,' i. 189, is perhaps based upon the following paragraph from The Public Advertiser :

" Wed., March 23, 1768. On Sunday last died in Park Street, Grosvenor Square, the celebrated Miss Nelly O'Brien."

Yet the danger of relying upon a single obituary notice in a contemporary newspaper is exemplified by a later announcement in the same journal :

" Friday, 1 April, 1768. The account inserted in the Papers of the Death of Miss Nelly O'Brien in Mount [sic] Street, Grosvenor Square, is pre- mature ; that lady being in perfect health."

Chaloner Smith, with his usual precision, seems inclined to doubt the date given by Leslie and Taylor, and in speaking of the mezzotint of Nelly O'Brien by John Dixon after Reynolds he says :

"It is remarkable that this print, if it repre- sents her, should have been engraved six years afterwards ; the picture also (No. 580 of Portrait Exhibition of 1867) is dated 1773 on frame. Bromley, however, (p. 431) clearly names the portrait as hers ; the well-known print of her too, by Phillips, is dated 1770." ' British Mezzotinto Portraits,' J. C. Smith, pp. 213-14.

Nelly is an elusive person, and as far as I know, there is no authoritative record of her death. HORACE BLEACKLEY.

" DECASUALIZATION." This new word seems to be worth noting : " The questions of unemployment and the decasualization of labour " (Times, 15 Oct., 1909, p. 10, col. 6). M.

" MOTHER or DEAD DOGS." (See 10 S. v. 509 ; vi. 32, 95 ; vii. 457.) What seems to be the first use of this phrase by Carlyle may be found in his essay on Boswell's ' Life of Johnson,' published May, 1832 :

" By what methods, by what gifts of eye and i hand, does a heroic Samuel Johnson, now when castl forth into that waste Chaos of Authorship, maddest of things, a mingled Phlegethon and Fleet-ditch, with its floating lumber, and sea- krakens, and mud-spectres, shape himself a voyage ; of the transient driftwood, and the enduring iron, build him a sea-worthy Life-boat,


and sail therein, undrowned, unpolluted, through the roaring ' mother of dead dogs,' onwards to an eternal Landmark, and City that hath founda- tions ? "

Apparently the literary inspiration came from the second book of Pope's ' Dunciad,' 11. 271-2 :

To where Fleet Ditch, with disemboguing streams, Bolls the large tribute of dead dogs to Thames ;

and again, 11. 307-8 :

Sons of a day ! just buoyant on the flood,

Then numbered with the puppies in the mud.

The connexion between authorship and ' The Dunciad ' is obvious.

This phrase occurred frequently in Car- lyle's letters, and once in the essay on Cagliostro, twice in ' The French Revolu- tion,' twice in ' Past and Present,' and three times in the ' Reminiscences.' That the expression was figurative, and not local, may be shown from the use of picturesque equiva- lents, as " Stygian quagmires," " bog-pools of Disgust," and " Golgotha of dead dogs "- the last used to describe the records of Crom- well's times. One notices also the echo of the Homeric line,

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in his description of himself to his brother John, in September, 1840, as " grieving by the shore of the mother of dead dogs."

T. F. Brooklyn, N.Y.

MOON SUPERSTITIONS IN WALES AND PATAGONIA. There are still lingering in West Wales many beliefs and practices with respect to the moon.

It is considered unlucky to see the new moon for the first time through the window, and many persons go out of doors to see her. A young woman at Talybont, in North Cardiganshire, was ill for some weeks after seeing the new moon for the first time through the window.

I was told by an old gentleman in the Vale of Ayron that some men take off their hats and bow to the new moon, and some women make a curtsey to her.

To see the new moon for the first time over the right shoulder is considered very lucky ; and an enlightened clergyman informed me that he always liked to see the new moon to the right.

When I was in Patagonia many years ago, the Indians were fond of saluting the new moon, a custom probably derived from the ancient Incas of Peru, who worshipped both sun and moon. It is quite possible, and