Open main menu

Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 11.djvu/399

This page needs to be proofread.


9 th S. XL MAY 16, 1903.]


NOTES AND QUERIES.


391


all' asta" ("To sell by auction")? I do not know how the Hanse merchants in London conducted their sales or in what language they transacted their business with their English customers, but if they used Latin the coincidence is a curious one, as of course the Italian expression is an exact reproduction of the old Latin, when prison- ers taken in battle were knocked down to their purchasers by auction "at the spear." Can steelyard mean saleroom, auction yard ? Doubtless the great fur and wool sales of the present day had their precursors in the Middle Ages. H.

I agree with PROF. SKEAT that making out the meaning of the word itself would clear away some errors. I believe that the word steelyard comes to us from two different sources: first, from still-yard, or "an even balance," rod of wood or iron, unmoving until in use, as a weighing machine, well known to the Greeks and Romans and probably to the Babylonians and Jews ; secondly, from the Easterlings Yard in Thames Street, where the company of Easterlings or Hanse mer- chants had 'their abode and did their busi- ness. This no doubt was called the Easter- lings Yard at first, but afterwards changed into Steel Yard.

Possibly, indeed, the word steel may have come to us through the Easterlings, as their yard, established in 1280, seems to have been a great place for the storage and sale of steel, "a sort of refined or hardened iron," as it would be then described, and possibly called Easterling metal. We certainly have the word sterling from the Easterlings as ster- ling silver or other metal. G. C. W.

It is well known that among the Romans a spear stuck in the ground was a token of a sale by auction, a crier making proclamation of the sale. Festus (' De Significatione Verborum,' in hastce) says, "Hastse subjicie- bantur ea, quse publice venundebant, quia signum prsecipuum est hasta." Hence the expression "sub hasta vendere," and as this appears to have been the only way in which a sale by auction was conducted among the Romans, they must have brought the custom with them when they invaded the shores of Britain. So that it seems probable that the Steelyard occupied the site upon which, during their pre-eminently commercial occu- pation of London, they set up the " hasta publica," or, more correctly speaking, the hostile, a word which, though used for the spear itself, was more properly the shaft only of a spear. If allowance be made for the native Roman accent, we have in the word


hastile, abbreviated to 'stile, the first syllable, at least, of what was certainly a common form of the spelling, namely Stily&rd. This form is given as late as 1740 in Bailey's ' Diction- ary.' J. HOLDEN MACMlCHAEL. 161, Hammersmith Road.

In addition to the books suggested ante, p. 210, the following should be consulted, in order to ascertain the way in which the "factory" in Thames Street is spoken of in foreign documents : Hohlbaum, ' Hans- isches Urkundenbuch,' and Karl Kunze, ' Hanseakten aus England.' It may be noted that the statute of 1503-4 as to the Hanse merchants in London (19 Hen. VII., c. 23) is entitled "For ]>e Stillyard." This certainly suggests no other origin than O.E. stlel for the first syllable. But it seems most unlikely that steel was manufactured and stored there in or before the fifteenth century in such quantities as to give a name to the whole establishment. Is there no light on the point in the 'Liber Custuraarum ' of the City of London ? Possibly in part i. p. 112 something may be found. O. O. H.

" SANDWICH " (5 th S. vi. 508 ; 9 th S. xi. 214). The reference required by Q. V. is p. 262 of vol. i. of * Londres,' by Grosley, published at Lausanne in 1770. The passage is as follows :

" Un ministre d'Etat passa 24 heures dans un jeu public, toujours occupe au point que, pendant ces 24 heures, il ne ve"cut que de quelques tranches de boeuf grille, qu'il se faisoit servir entre deux roties de pain et qu'il mangeoit sans quitter le jeu. Ce nouveau mets prit faveur pendant tnon sdjour d Londres: on le baptisa du nom du ministre, qui 1'avoit imagine, pour e"conomiser le temps."

M. Grosley visited London for about two months in April and May, 1765, and at that time the Earl of Sandwich was one of the principal Secretaries of State. If we can depend on the words which I have italicized in the preceding extract, the date of the introduction of the word is fixed.

In a chapter entitled 'London through French Eyeglasses ' of a book called ' Side- lights on the Georgian Period ' (Methuen & Co., 1902), the author, George Paston, lias uoted the above passage, and possibly

. V. may have read it there. By mistake or misprint this lady gives the date of the publication of Grosley's book as 1790 instead of 1770. J. R. F. G.

"THAT IMMORTAL LIE" (9 th S. xi. 167).- Ayant 1'idee que 1'abbe Maynard (Michel Ulysse), qui a public, en 1851, une edition des ' Lettres Provinciales ' de Pascal, " avec leur refutation," aurait dit, sinon la phrase exacte, quelque chose de semblable, j'ai consulte son