Any explanation or etymology of this obscure word must be conjectural.
The Fleet Prison.
Imprisonment for debt is now disguised as imprisonment for contempt of court. The once famous Countess with the Cats endured this incarceration, on Pickwickian principles, says Mr. Charles Dickens the younger. This lady, it is said, in her youth was the original of one of Thackeray's most notable characters.
A red-faced Nixon.
Nixon is said to have been a Cheshire prophet. His date and even existence are dubious.
Nixon's prophecies, like those of Thomas the Rhymer, seem to have been in demand during the Rising of 1745. In a curious Whig tract, undated, but clearly of 1745, called "Observations on the Persons of Note now engaged in the Chevalier's Service in Scotland," we find "the Hon. William Murray" accused of studying Nixon, and his predictions about "The Miller with Three Thumbs," under the tuition of an old woman. A dark saying about a stone in a wood is explained as referring to the restoration of the Catholic Church, "or something of that sort." Apparently a Murray of the Elibank family is the person referred to, unless there is a confusion with John Murray of Broughton. Otherwise Nixon was not much regarded in Scotland, which was rich in prophets of her own.
The story is told about muffins by Topham Beauclerk (Boswell's Johnson in Birkbeck Hill's edition, iii. 384). Croker says that Mr. Fitzherbert was the suicide, but it seems that lie hanged himself; and, as Beauclerk was arguing that two pistols are useful in cases of suicide, and were used by the hero of the muffins, the case of Mr. Fitzherbert would not be in point.
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