NOTES AND QUERIES. [io s. xii. NOV. 27,
SPONGES (10 S. xii. 30). M.'s question I regret to say, I cannot answer, but I think that perhaps he or another may be interested in the following quotation from John Russell's ' Boke of Nurture, foloying Englondis gise, 1 which belongs to the earlier half of the fifteenth century. It is printed in ' The Babees Book l (E.E.T.S.), pp. 117-99 :
3eff youre souerayne wille to ]>e bathe, his body to wasche dene,
. . . .looke ye haue sponges, v or vj. ]>eron to
sytte or lene : looke "|>er be a gret sponge ]?er-on youre souerayne
to sytt ;
t>eron a shete & so he may bathe hym J>ere a fytte ; vndir his feete also a sponge, jiff ]?er be any to
and alwey be sure of j>e dur, & se J>at he be shutt. A basyfi full in youre hand of herb is hote & fresche, & with a soft sponge in hand, his body j>at ye
wasche. Pp. 182-3.
Under the present heading the rest concerns us not. ST. SWITHIN.
In Sloane MS. 1977, in the British Museum (ff. 9b and 47 b), there are two examples of the use of the sponge for personal cleanliness, where the illumination of the text shows this household appliance about to be put to the face of a person in a recumbent position in bed. An account, by Canon Venables, of the sponge used in the Greek liturgical ritual, will be found in Smith and Cheetham's ' Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, 5 1880. Pliny (I. ii. 45) mentions three sorts of sponges, of which one, the Achilleum, was used for wiping tables, deleting writing and mistakes in paintings (the spongia deletilis, Suet., ' Aug.' 86, ' Calig.* 40), washing dishes, and other useful purposes (Mart., ' Apoph.' No. 144). See also Fosbroke, ' Ency. Antiq.,' 1843, vol. i. p. 372. J. HOLDEN MACMICHAEL.
The use of the sponge in Europe for domestic purposes is very old. It is mentioned in the ' Iliad * and ' Odyssey,* and in many other parts of classical litera- ture. A short account of some of the various ways in which the Greeks and Romans em- ployed sponges is given in Smith's ' Diet, of Antiquities J under the word ' Spongia.* EDWARD BENSLY.
Much information upon sponges may be seen in Johnston's ' History of British Sponges and Lithophytes,' 1842, 8vo a work found on the shelves of all good reference libraries. WILLIAM JAGGARD.
" LE HOLE BOLE," HONEY LANE (10 S. xii. 348). Consult Prof. Skeat's 'Ety- mological Dictionary J under " holy "- ; and compare with the current expression "whole horse. n FRANK PENNY.
NOTES ON BOOKS, &c.
A Dissertation upon Odd Numbers, particularly No. 7 and No. 9, by James Curtis, is one of the privately printed opuscula issued to members of the Sette of Odd Volumes, and will therefore be regarded by the discerning as well worth perusal. Mr. Curtis, who is " Franklyn to Ye Sette," read to them on April 27th of this year the paper here printed. It contains a good deal of the curious and entertaining lore which interests the man in the street as well as the mathematician. At the beginning of the present year we heard ill- luck prophesied because 1909 would not divide by anything. Our own pages have from time to time contained notes on numbers, and Mr. Curtis gives a useful bibliography of such references. Against the study of numbers as of mystic import it would be possible to quote Selden's ' Table Talk ' :
"All those mysterious things they observe in numbers come to nothing upon this very ground because number in itself is nothing, has nothing to do with nature, but is merely of human imposi- tion, a mere sound. For example, when I cry one o'clock, two o'clock, three o'clock, that is but man's division of time ; the time itself goes on, and it had been all one in nature if those hours had been called nine, ten, eleven. So when they say the seventh son is fortunate it means nothing for, if you count from the seventh backward, then the first is the seventh ; why is not he like- wise fortunate ? "
Something might be argued on more than one count against this passage, but it is sufficient to say that such beliefs and maxims concerning numbers as come to us in early days, whether superstitious or not, continue to influence us when we pretend that we have grown out of them.
When Johnson at five wrote the epitaph of the duck he trod on, he pointed out that
If it had lived it had been good luck, For it would have been an odd one. But there were thirteen of them, and may we not maintain that the victim of the future Doctor's foot was the thirteenth ; and so escaped the luck due to odd numbers ?
" Numero deus impare gaudet," and Mr. Curtis brings together much to glorify seven. In Ger- many, we believe, a " bad seven " is a bad wife, and the number is associated with the Devil as well as sacred things. " The Seven against Thebes" had a notable application at Oxford in the crew which rowed with seven men in 1843 and beat Cambridge, the "Septem contra Camum "; and we believe that the authors of ' Essays and Beviews ' were ungenerously called the " Septem contra Christum." A future commentator may, perhaps, find something symbolical in the sug-