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Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 9.djvu/365

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NOTES AND QUERIES.


357


old cross near Holne the Devonshire village where Charles Kingsley was born, 12 June, 1819 is not without interest. But it requires some little correction. In the first place, this old Dartmoor grey granite cross is not Greek in either outline or character. The portions still existing suggest a complete cross of the usual local design and concep- tion. Further, the anecdote relative to the iconoclastic stone-breaker and the "then" (and present) vicar of Staverton is simply a myth. The actual facts are simply as nar- rated below.

An old gnarled oak maybe two or three hundred years old stands at a point where three roads meet, a mile or thereabouts from Holne. It was possibly planted upon the site of the old cross after the latter was torn down and broken into fragments. But, speaking from some intimate local know- ledge, the name " Hawson oak " is unknown to me. The tree certainly does not stand upon the Hawson estate. At the time the old cross was destroyed at what date there is no record the arms were broken from the parent shaft, and this with the die and base stones was scattered to the winds. The arms themselves were preserved and placed in an adjoining bank. There they remained until, perhaps, ten years ago, when one stormy day they fell out into the road. Happily my venerable friend the Rev. John Bickley Hughes, M.A. who since 1874 has been vicar of Staverton, and who with Mrs. Hughes celebrated the fifty-fourth anni- versary of their wedding-day on 12 Jan. happened to drive by and became aware of the catastrophe. He met the late Earl (Reginald) of Devon at Ashburton the same day. Now Lord Devon all through his long life was a zealous conservator of local anti- quities. Urged, therefore, by a kindred feeling, the pair sought out Mr. Tanner, the squire of Hawson, explained to him the peril the cross was in, ana extracted from him a promise that it should be promptly cared for. So eventually it was built up into the wall by the side of the road to Holne.

HARRY HEMS.

Fair Park, Exeter.

" OLIVE " : " OLIVACEOUS " (9 th S. ix. 307). Though the ordinary use of these words connotes a peculiar green tint, as a matter of fact the olive itself, as provided for consump- tion (on the counter of a wine-shop, for instance) in Southern European countries, has always struck me as more brown than green ; in fact, as a brown with green shadows rather than as a green with brown shadows, as it is


usually considered. The phrase is not used with precision, nor is the French olivdtre, but both fairly describe a type of complexion common in Southern Europeans, and to be met with in more northern climes. In such complexions, if carefully studied and ana- lyzed, I think there will be found a faint tinge of green, showing, as it were, through the tawny skin. E. E. STREET.

Chichester.

CROSSING KNIVES AND FORKS (9 th S. viii. 325, 433 ; ix. 14). I was brought up to believe that it was good manners to leave knife and fork side by side upon my plate when I had finished eating. I cannot think that either religion or superstition had any- thing to do with the prescription fifty years ago : it conduced merely to seemliness and order. ST. SWITHIN.

In my young days children were told that a crossed knife and fork on the dinner plate brought bad luck to the house, and caused " rows " amongst the members of the house- hold. If any of the table cutlery, knives and forks, were found crossed, every one made a dash to uncross them with the inquiry, made with concern, "Who's done that?" On the other hand, if spoons were found crossed that was considered to be a sign of a wedding. To drop a fork mostly drew from some one, " There 's a stranger coming."

THOS. RATCLIFFE.

Worksop.

That it is unlucky to cross knives is a very widespread superstition. I have met with it, I may say, almost all over England.

C. C. B.

Here knives accidentally crossed are said to be unlucky. R. B R.

South Shields.

STAR-LORE (9 th S.ix. 227). Fifty years ago it was held to be unlucky to point at the moon and count the stars. Derbyshire girls and boys " dared " each other to do it. To point at the moon properly it was necessary to get as near it as possible, and gates, fences, and walls were mounted before the pointing was begun. They might point six times without ill effect, but at the seventh " you would be struck blind "! This point- ing seemed to have some connexion with " the man in the moon," so far as talk went, who had been sufficiently punished for his sin without being pointed at. Amongst the folk to point the finger at any one was an offen- sive action at all times, and was always re- sented. The more daring children evaded the probable consequences by "hooking"