Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 5.djvu/426

This page needs to be proofread.



commemorated by Cowper, now majestic in decay :

Thou wast a bauble once ; a cup and ball

Which babes might play with; and the thievish jay,

Seeking her food, with ease might have purloined.

Only a mile or two distant from Yardley Hastings was Easton Maudit, where Bishop Percy, the editor of the 4 Reliques of Ancient English Poetry/ was vicar from 1753 to 1782. The church at that place was a fine structure, and contained many monuments of the Yel- vertons. It was restored in a loving spirit by the late Marquess of Northampton, and the old vicarage hard by has still a Percyish appearance, as also the parsonage where Dr. Johnson came to visit his friend Percy, and helped Mrs. Percy to feed the ducks. Here it was that the song was written,

O Nanny, wilt thou gang with me? From my visit grew a little memoir of Percy prefixed to the MS. folio long preserved in the archives at Ecton House, the property of Percy's grandson, Mr. Isted, and in the dining-room at Ecton still hang the portraits of Percy and his wife. Some pleasant after- noons for it was in the leafy month of June were spent, fleeting the time as they did in Arden's shade, in the Wilderness at Weston Underwood, or Weston, as Cowper usually styles it. A charmingly retired spot it is, a sunk fence in front, an alcove in the grounds ; a bust of Homer on a pedestal, and an effigy of a lion, on which is inscribed "Mortuo leoni etiam lepores insultant," are ornaments. But let the poet describe in his own pleasant manner what we should call a garden party on an afternoon in the Wilderness. He says, writing to his friend Lady Austen :

"Yesterday sen'night we all dined together in the Spinnie a most delightful retirement belonging to Mrs. Throckmorton, of Weston. Lady Austen's lackey, and a lad that waits on me in the garden, drove a wheelbarrow full of eatables and drinkables to the scene of our fte champetre. A board laid over the top of the wheelbarrow served us for a table ; our dining-room was a root-house lined with moss and ivy. At six o'clock the servants, who had dined under a great elm upon the ground at a little distance, boiled the kettle, and the said wheel- barrow served us for a table. We then took a walk into the Wilderness about half a mile off, and were at home again a little after eight, having spent the day together from noon till evening without one cross occurrence, or the least weariness of each other a happiness few parties of pleasure can boast of."

Within a short distance were Castle Ashby, the stately seat of the Marquess of North- ampton, built by Inigo Jones, and Turvey, the home in former years of the Mordaunts and the grave of the brave Earl of Peterborough. The fine old church at Olney, situated

on the banks of the slow - flowing Ouse, had at that time (1865) undergone but little alteration since the days of Cowper and John Newton. The platform upon which the desk, or rather the lectern and chair, was raised was still in existence. I can well remember the pleasure that my selecting for worship the old favourite hymns gave the congregation.

John Newton held the benefice of St. Mary Woolnoth until his death in 1809. The church is now to be turned by vandalism into a railway station. Dr. Dibdin, of biblio- graphical fame, mentions his having been taken when a boy of fifteen, in 1791, to hear Newton preach his wife's funeral sermon at St. Mary Woolnoth, and how " he had, and always had, the entire ear of his congregation. In fact, the preacher was one with his dis- course." The sermon, an extemporaneous one, was on the striking text Habakkuk iii. 17, 18.

A more pleasant little trip than one to Olney cannot well be imagined, and can now be managed in about an hour from London ; so let me advise your readers who admire the poetry of Cowper to take it, and those who enjoy quiet pastoral scenery will have their tastes gratified. JOHN PICKFORD, M.A.

Newbourne Rectory, Woodbridge.

PICTS AND SCOTS (9 th S. v. 261). CANON TAYLOR has given some important informa- tion about the Picts, but he does not take into account the Irish Picts. There is a great element of confusion in the neglect to trans- late the word Scoti. Now the Scoti were in all ancient writings the Irish, whether of Ireland or of North Britain. lona was an Irish church, as much an Irish church as Berry or Burrow. St. Aidan, the great mis- sionary of Northumbria, was an Irishman, and his mission an Irish mission. Mr. Green was the first English historian to recognize and state these facts. The Irish of North Britain were as much Irish as the Normans of England were Norman for many a year, indeed for almost two centuries. To speak of the Scoti, or Scots, as some people dif- ferent from the Irish, and specially oelong- ing to North Britain, is to convey a false im- pression. To this day their language is, and is called, Erse that is, Irish. If the words Erse and Erseland were used to describe the Scoti and Scotia of North Britain we should then get rid of this difficulty.

If CANON TAYLOR would give us the limits of Erseland and Pictland I should be very glad. The difficulty is that the Erse were continually pressing north and east and carrying their language with them. I should