Open main menu

Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 9.djvu/347

This page needs to be proofread.


9* S. IX. APRIL 26, 1902.] NOTES AND QUERIES.


339


His index is copious and, so far as we have tested it, extremely accurate. But the great feature of the work is the glossary. We are constrained to say that it is at once the amplest and most scholar- like production of its kind with which we are acquainted. There does not seem to be an out-of- the-way word in the whole of the three volumes that has not been explained or, when that was found impossible, at least recorded, so that the student of the future, who may be so fortunate as to come upon it elsewhere, may have all the help which these rolls can supply. So eminently ser- viceable will this glossary be found, that we would suggest that it should be issued in a separate form, that students of language may have it at hand for instant reference.

Under ' Pestell ' there is some curious informa- tion, as it witnesses to the survival of a word which has long dropped out of what people perversely call " good English." The monks of Durham were wont to speak of pigs' feet and shanks as pestles, though, we believe, the word does not survive in this sense in the local dialect of the bishopric. It still lives, however, in the West Riding of York- shire, and we are informed that in North Lincoln- shire you may still hear people say to those who are over-eager in their work, and consequently always in a bustle, " Do it by degrees, as the cat ate the pestle." The intermingling of bones and flesh in the feet and legs of a pig is complex, and a cat has to spend a long time over a pestle, when one is given to her, before she has disentangled what she wants. There is an interesting note on ' Green Wax,' which was used for sealing certified extracts relating to fines. Canon Fowler finds that green wax was manufactured, in the monastery. Was this wax tinted green, or was it wax in a fresh state that is meant by this name? We have read of green candles being used in the services of the Church ; but there is another suggestion that ought not to be passed over in silence. It is pro- bable that wax of a green colour may have been required for official purposes. The Bishop of Dur- ham exercised princely authority, and it may well be that wax of this tint was used by his officials, as it was in the Exchequer of Westminster. We have somewhere seen the royal Court official who gave out these documents called " Master Green- wax " or the " Greenwax Man," but cannot remem- ber where the entries are to be found. Thill or thytt, " the bottom of a coal-seam," is a dialect word at present in use in the north of England and in Scotland. The present form is till, it was used by Sir Walter Scott to indicate the hard, stony clay which in many places underlies the surface soil. Like many other words which have survived on the lips of the peasantry, it has been promoted from its low estate in recent days, and is now commonly used by geologists to indicate the glacial drift.

The introduction is very able. We wish it had been longer. It is in great part occupied by an account of the duties of the various officers of the monastery. We do not remember elsewhere anything relating to Benedictine officialdom at once so complete and so lucid. The reader must, however, bear in mind that he has not here an account of the establishment as it existed in an ordinary Benedictine monastery. Durham was one of the greatest and most wealthy houses of the order in the island, so that we must not suppose that a staff such as Canon Fowler


describes was to be found in the ordinary Benedic- tine houses which studded the land. The Lord Prior, "besides being an eminent ecclesiastic, was a great county magnate, ranking with the Nevilles of Raby and Branspeth, the Percys of Alnwick, and the rest of the Northern nobles, while in Durham itself he kept a state only a little inferior to that of the great Prince Bishop himself." One of the great charms of the book is that it treats of men of all ranks and conditions, from English and Scottish royalties down to Thomas Talpator, the molecatcher, who represented a state of life which we may assume, in aU confidence, was a far older one than that of kings, as we know of them in times to which history reaches.

Lives and Legends of the Evangelists, Apostles, and other Early Saints. By Mrs. Arthur Bell. (Bell & Sons.)

IN the great rush of new books that marked the beginning of the present season Mrs. Arthur Bell's work on the saints in Christian art was passed over, a fate it is far from deserving. It is, indeed, a valuable and an important contribution to our knowledge of the symbolism of Christian art. It also claims, with justice, to throw fresh light upon the evolution of popular belief. During years comparatively recent great additions have been made to the exact knowledge of symbolism by the publication of authoritative works such as the

  • Caracteristiques des Saints' of Pere Cahier, a

splendid and almost exhaustive compilation which every subsequent writer on Christian imagery is bound to consult. Attention is drawn by Mrs. Bell to the manner in which legends, filched by the zeal of devotees from one saint in order to enrich the reputation of another, have been restored to their rightful owners. Another point now settled in orthodox fashion is the non-interference of Heaven to save the lives of those saints it had sustained unharmed through terrible torture. The sword as the emblem of civil power is recognized by Christ Himself, and the pagan right to inflict death is conceded, while that to inflict torture is denied. Celestial emissaries accordingly, who sustained the martyr's faith through manifold torments, were not allowed to interfere with the carrying out of a death sentence legally pronounced. If to the profane mind not quite logically conclusive, this theory is at least adequate to convince the firm believer in Christian legend. In dealing with the saints a chronological order is observed, the first chapter being assigned to St. John the Baptist and his parents, and the last five chapters to the various martyrs of the third century. The illustrations constitute naturally an eminently attractive feature. These are drawn from a great variety of sources. St. Sebastian, by Giovanni Antonio Bazzi, known as II Sodoma, and half derisively as II Mattaccio, from the Uffizi Gallery, constitutes an appropriate frontispiece. This is avowedly the best of the innumerable St. Sebastians in exist- ence. Among the many masterpieces of Raphael, Pinturicchio, Lucas della Robbia, Perugino, Andrea del Sarto, Correggio, Rembrandt, Luini, and others, chiefly of the various Italian schools, appear some few works of the English Pre-Raphaelite school: the strangely treated but striking ' Nativity' of Sir E. Burne-Jones ; the 'Christ in the Home of His Parents' of Sir J. E. Millais, once known, if we


rightly recall, as ' The Carpenter's Shot) ' ; Hunt's ' Flight into Egypt ' ; and Madox


Hoi


Brown's