Open main menu

Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 11.djvu/234

This page needs to be proofread.


NOTES AND QUERIES. [9 th s. XL MARCH 21, 1903.

of taking a fee from a literary man or the widow of a brother practitioner." In the chapter headed 'Convalescence' Thackeray says :

" Let Pen's biographer be pardoned for alluding to a time not far distant when a somewhat similar mishap brought him a providential friend, a kind physician, and a thousand proofs of a most touching and surprising kindness."

Pen's illness also commenced in September. In addition to the dedication of * Pendennis ' to Dr. Elliotson, Mrs. Ritchie sets out an interesting letter to the doctor in which Thackeray asks permission to make the dedication " as a compliment in return for a life saved." HARRY B. POLAND.

[See also ' Thackeray a Believer in Homoeopathy, 3 9 th S. x. 63, 132, 197, 329.]

"CUP-TURNING" IN FORTUNE-TELLING. I have been interested in a bit of folk- lore recently found in a rather unlikely quarter. A little book, now somewhat rare, entitled 'Hair-breadth Escapes from Slavery,' was published at Manchester in 1861. It was written by the Rev. William Troy, a "coloured" clergyman, of Windsor, Canada West. One of his narratives refers to the adventures of Lewis Williams, a slave who escaped from Kentucky to Cincinnati, where he fell in love. Uncertain as to whether his affection was returned, he applied to a Dutch- woman who carried on the trade of a fortune- teller. " She said she must first have the sum of 4s. 2d , or one dollar, before she could tell anything ; and it must be paid in silver, or the cup would not turn loell " (p. 66). She wormed out of him the fact that he was an escaped slave and the name of his "owner,' to whom she sent information, for which she was paid 200 dollars. He was arrested, but the friends of freedom stood by him, and during the hearing in the crowded court- room another person was substituted in his place whilst he escaped. A reward oi 1,000 dollars was offered, but Lewis Williams, disguised as a girl and wearing an enormous crinoline, remained undetected, and made his way to Canada. The particular form of divination employed by this treacherous sibyl is not further described.



THE PRINTING OF RECORDS. That record, should be chosen for printing in an appar ently fortuitous way is probably to a certain extent inevitable. It is owing in most case to individual, in a few others to local enthusiasm, that manuscripts of this natur see the light at all. Societies formed fo

minting them generally begin to dwindle way when it becomes evident that the only nethod of selection is the preference of a few eading spirits, and when supplies fail the work necessarily stops.

But what I would like to suggest is that in ecords of such widespreading interest as Vlarriage Licences, Will Calendars, and other ndexes, the practice has been and is to begin at the wrong end. The vast majority of those who want these guides to searching belong to hose families which from the absence or 3reak-up of territorial connexion, or from the service abroad of their successive represen-

atives, or their emigration, or other varia-

tions of residence and fortune have not kept

heir own annals in order. To those who

want to reconstruct their annals from the

ime of their grandparents it is useless to

>ffer an index which begins with the Restora- tion and stops with Queen Anne, and, ipparently, with a full stop. If, on the other land, such works were issued in instalments, working back from say 1813, or even 1754, I believe they would appeal to a much larger section of the public, and secure lists of subscribers who would gather appetite in eating, and as they picked up each crumb would be always " asking for more."

A. T. M.

STORY OF AN UNGRATEFUL SON. T. P.'s Weekly for 20 February contains an interest- ing article on Sir Charles Gavan Duffy's ' Two Hemispheres,' with several extracts. Amongst others is quoted one of his favourite stories as follows :

'In a dear summer, as the famine periods were called in Ireland, a small farmer was induced by his wife to send out his father to beg. The old man was equipped with a bag, a staff, and half a double blanket, which the frugal housewife prepared for him. After he was gone she inquired for the moiety of the blanket to make sure he had not carried it off. When the house was ransacked in vain, the father thought of asking his little son if he had seen it. ' Yis, father,' the boy replied, ' I have put it by till the time comes when I'll want it.' ' What will you want with it, Owen, agrah?' inquired the father. ' Why, father,' replied the boy, ' you see, when I grow up to be a big man, and I '11 be sending you out to beg, I'll want it to put on your back.' "

This is a curious instance of the oral trans- mission of stories. The story is the widely diffused one called by Mr. Clouston 'The Ungrateful Son.' It is otherwise known as ' La Housse Partie,' from the fabliau of that name.

It will be fully treated in the series of articles now appearing in ' N. & Q.' on the sources, &c., of the 'Merry Tales,' when the portion is reached dealing with No. ciii. of