NOTES AND QUERIES. tns.xi. JAN. IG, 1915.
'wsed to walk frequently from Brook Green to the Professor's house near the Bridge, and I spent memorable evenings with him, discussing the latest science problems, and listening to words of wisdom addressed by a man of his supreme eminence to a mere youth of twenty. I owe much, very much, to these interviews and discussions with Sir Charles Wheatstone. Some one says we cannot be too particular in the choice of our parents ! I was blessed in my selection. To speak of my father reminds me of a link with the past which it may interest you to hear. My father died in 1884, aged 92, after forty years' residence in this parish. He often told me that when a boy he heard from his great-grandmother, then over 100, incidents connected with the great Plague of London, 1665 incidents related to her by her grandfather, who himself was smitten by the plague. He was one of the three survivors at Staveley in Derbyshire, where the plague was conveyed by refugees from London. He died in 1729, aged 90 ; his life overlapped that of my great-great -grandmother by nineteen years. Her life overlapped my father's by twenty-two years, so that this is a case of a bridge of only tAvo arches carrying me back to the great Plague of 1665."
SPONGE. (See 1 S. iii. 390; 10 S. xii. 30.) "When was the sponge of commerce first known in England ? " was asked at the above references, in almost the same words, with an interval of fifty-eight years, in each case without result. Accident- ally, I have seen a probable answer in
- De Compositione Medicamentorum,' by
Scribonius Largus, who was military surgeon in Britain in the campaign of 43 A.D. Within the next five years he wrote his book, which has many references to the use of sponges, with hot, cold, and salt water, with vinegar, &c. (see recipes XX., XLIIL, XLVL, &c.). Let one quotation, as to nose- bleeding, suffice : " Erumpit e naribus sanguis. . . .Proderit ergo aqua frigida vel posca subinde aspergere tot-am faciem, vel spongia refrigerare." This collection is full of good and interesting things, such as the therapeutic use of electricity (in the only form then available, so far as we know) for headache and for gout. ROCKINGHAM.
"A SCARBOROUGH WARNING." By this time every one must know the significance of this expression, which is that of no warning at all. Let me instance a present-day example of its fitness in the unexpected shelling by Germans of the " Queen of Watering- places " on Wednesday, 16 Dec., 1914. In his ' History of Scarbrough,' Joseph Brog- den Baker notes that the sudden surprise of the castle in 1554 " gave rise to the proverb known as Scarbrough warning " (p. 69).
WILLIAM CAXTON AND BISHOP DOUGLAS. Caxton translated the ' ^Eneid ' from the French in 1490. See the ' D.N.B.,' 388/2, item 68. Douglas, in his ' Proloug of the Fyft Buik,' comments severely on this performance :
Now harkis sportis, mirthis, and mery playis, Pull gudlie pastance on mony syndry wayis, Endite by Virgile, and heir by me translait, Quhilk William Caxtoun knew neuir all his dayis ; For, as I said tofoir, that man forvayi.s [blunders] ; His febill prois [prose] been mank and mutilait ; Bot my propyne [outpouring] coym fra the pres
f ut hait, Vnforlatit [fresh], not jawyn [emptied] fra tun to
tun, In fresche sapour new fro the berrie run.
(1513, ed. Small, 1874, pp. 221-2.)
" The pres " is here the wine-press, not the printing-press, for the Bishop's vigorous translation was not printed until 1553, and then incorrectly.
" As I said tofoir," quoth Douglas. He had fallen foul of Caxton in his first Prologue (id., pp. 10-11) : The namis of peple or citeis bene so bad Put by this Caxtoun, that, bot [unless] he had
The fluid of Touyr for Tibir he had nocht write ; All men ma knaw thair he forvait [blundered]
For sickerlie, les than [unless] wyse autouris lene
Enee saw neuir Touyr with his ene, For Touyr devides Grece from Hungarie, And Tibir is chief fluide of Italic : Touyr is kend ane grane [fork] of that rever In Latyne hecht Danubium or Hester.
He goes on to say that Caxton is " na mair lyke Virgill, [than] the owle resemblis the papyngay."
This note is sent for the sake of those many readers of ' N. & Q.' who have not access to the Douglas translation.
RICHARD H. THORNTON.
XANTHUS, EXANTHE, EXHANTUS. Long ago I noted this curious passage in Otes's ' Sermons on St. Jude,' printed 1633, but preached thirty years earlier :
" As the sweet river Hippanus is made bitter when it passeth the pole Exanthe ; like the bitter water spoken of in the booke of Numbers. So are men made worse by bad company."
" The pole Exanthe " was something of a puzzle. But now I find "Exhantus," which should be Exanthus, in Bishop Douglas's ' Eneados,' fo. xx b (1553), and " the flude Exhantus " is the Xanthus. The river Hippanus I have not been able to trace.
RICHARD H. THORNTON. 8, Mornington Crescent, N.W.