Page images

lawe-daye.' The court, so far as appears, received the presentment in silence, and made no order. The despair of the tythingman may be imagined, as well as the triumph of the fair delinquents. One cannot help seeing them in high-crowned hats, with arms akimbo, making mouths at the court and jury sworn, and laughing outright at the tything-man and the rest of creation. On the 19th of July, in the same year, a feeble attempt at legislation was made; some orders about price and management were issued; but our historian sadly remarks, that even this was unsuccessful is shown by frequent convictions and repetitions of the same or similar injunctions.'

We will not, however, dwell longer on this point than just to notice one species of offence, which the historian has omitted in his summary. We refer to the case of John Lautroppe, who was presented in April, 1462, for that 'brasiavit iij vicibus sub uno signo '—that is, we presume, that under one notice he had made three distinct brewings. But, to say the truth, we refer to the offence without clearly understanding its nature, not so much to increase the sad catalogue of crimes and troubles just quoted, as to introduce one of the dramatis persona at Castle Combe, who must have had peculiar claims to the notice of the court, even if he had brewed fairly, or not at all. John Lautroppe seems to have been the very man whom the framers of the 'Statute for the View of Frank pledge,' in the year 1325, had an eye to, when, in enumerating what things Stewards in their Leets shall inquire about,' they particularly specified ceux qi dorment les jours et viellent les nuiz et mangent bien et bievent bien et nount nul bien.' John Lautroppe was, beyond all doubt, one of this ancient and inextinguishable family. At the same time that he was charged with the offence of furtive brewing, he was presented as a common night-walker and eaves-droppercommunis noctivagus et auscultator ad fenestras. He qualified himself as to the good eating which the statute requires, by 'hole-creeping' after his neighbours' geese and pigs-est communis holecreppar anserum et porcellorum tenentium—and as to the good drinking, we have seen the clandestine but thrice-abundant provision which he made for that.

The significant word by which Lautroppe's character and mode of doing business are indicated, is one which we do not recollect to have seen elsewhere; and it affords an opportunity for remarking generally (for in this particular instance it may be merely our ignorance or forgetfulness) that such works as that now before us are highly valuable for the additions which they offer to our glossaries-that is, to the necessary materials for what we hope may some day exist-a real Dictionary of


our whole mother-tongue. We only observe one other offender of this class, and that one, we are sorry to say, a female. Alice Shyme, who flourished six years later, does not seem to have particularly affected geese and pigs. She was in a more general way of business, and took whatever came to hand. William Bochur and Thomas Taillour, who harboured her, were ordered to remove her out of the barony before the next court-day, as communam (sic) holecropperam diversarum rerum vicinorum suorum,' under a penalty of xxs. to the lord. P. 235.


[ocr errors]


But though these ever-brewing men of Wiltshire were thus, perhaps unconsciously, and not without some self-seeking, laying a foundation for the imperishable fame of their county, let it not be thought that they were a drunken race. So far as we can judge from the imperfect evidence before us, they were quite the reverse. Looking at the author's Index to his Extracts, we find only, Drunk, penalty for being enforced, 1618, 1630' (which latter date ought, by the way, to be 1631); and, seeing that these extracts begin in 1340, it appears strange that none of an earlier date should record the commission and punishment of this crime. Here are only two references, with thirteen years between them; and, what is the oddest part of the matter, both seem to lead us to the same man. We say seem,' because, of course, there may have been two Richard Sarjants, and both may have got drunk-perhaps like father, like son; In any case, however, the presentments are instructive. In April, 1618, the jurors stated that Richard Sarjant had made an affray on David Owell and drawn his blood, and for that offence he was fined sixpence; they farther presented that he was drunk at the time, and for that he was fined five shillings, to be distributed among the poor according to the form of the statute. This was a severe punishment, and perhaps it kept him sober till 1631, when he was again presented as having been drunk about the 25th of September, and was once more fined five shillings. Our charitable view of the case is rather strengthened by the fact that, on this second occasion, the jurors also presented George Smarte for having been drunk about the 5th day of April 1631. This was an old story, and looks as if a drunken man was not to be met with every day in Castle Combe; and on the whole we seem authorised to believe that, during the period to which our remarks generally relate, its inhabitants were a sober, industrious people, who consumed their home-brewed beer with moderation and advantage, though it cannot be denied that they made a great bustle about it.

In the midst of all this brewing and fermentation it seems strange,

strange, but it is peculiarly characteristic of the times, to find a Hermit quietly taking up his quarters. Who he was, or whence he came, we are not told. Were it not for the date we should feel sure at once that he was the hermit hoar' consulted and immortalized by our great moralist; but all that we really learn is that, at a court held on the 8th of May, 1358, the cottage, late Alice Redemayde's, was granted to John the Hermit, on condition that as long as he lived he should pray for the lord and his ancestors. The lord was Sir Richard Scrope, first Baron of Bolton. He was a warrior, and at this time, about thirty years of age. He fought in the battle of Crecy when only eighteen; and at the time of which we are speaking, had but recently returned from the campaign in Scotland-returned, that is, to England, for that he ever saw Castle Combe is more than we know. Neither can we tell whether he now for the first time set up a hermit on any of his territories. Those who are conversant with the details of French and Spanish history will know that the occurrence announced synchronizes very exactly with the retreat of some illustrious individuals into the mendicant orders; and perhaps it may contribute its mite towards illustrating the singular and mysterious state of religion at that period. It is an odd coincidence, if it is nothing more, that the will of a member of another branch of the same family contains some of the most curious information which we possess respecting hermits and the patronage that they received. By his will, dated June 23rd, 1415, Henry, third Lord Scrope of Masham, made extraordinary provision for funeral pomp and the performance of his obsequies in various places. Inter alia this noble and pious peer bequeathed to John, the Anchoret of Westminster, Cs. and the pair of beads which he was himself accustomed to use; to Robert the Recluse (Recluso) of Beverly, xls.; to a certain chaplain dwelling in York, in a street called Gilligate, in the church of St. Mary, viijs. ivd.; to John the Hermit, who used to live at the hill near Pontefract, xiijs. ivd.; to Thomas the chaplain, dwelling (commoranti continuo) in the church of St. Nicholas, Gloucester, xiijs. ivd.; to the Anchoret of Stafford, xiijs. ivd.; of Kurkebiske, xiijs. ivd.; of Wath, xxs.; of Peesholme, near York, xiijs. ivd.; to Elizabeth, late servant of the Anchoret at Hampole-the sum is left blank-but the entry is curious, partly because people do not generally conceive of hermits as keeping servants -especially maid-servants-and partly because it may not impossibly refer to the only one of all these hermits whose name and works have descended to modern times. If this Elizabeth had been servant to Richard or St. Richard Hampole, she must either

have been a very old woman in 1415, or a mere child when the hermit died in 1349. The Lord of Masham furthermore left to the recluse at Newcastle in the house of the Dominicans, xiijs. ivd.; to the recluse at Kexby Ferry, xiijs. ivd.; to the several anchorets of Wigton, of Castre, of Thorganby near Colyngwith, of Leek near Upsale, of Gainsburgh, of Kneesall near Southwell, of Staunford, living in the parish church there, of Dertford, each xiijs. ivd. After these specific bequests the testator adds: Also to every anchoret and recluse dwelling in London or its suburbs, vjs. viijd. Also to every anchoret and recluse dwelling in York and its suburbs (except such as are already named), vis. viijd. To the anchoret of Shrewsbury at the Dominican convent there, xxs. Also to every other anchoret and anchoritess that can be found without much trouble (potest leviter cognosci) within three months after his decease vjs. viijd. If any reader thinks that the money might have been better bestowed, he may comfort himself with the knowledge that the will never took effect, owing to the attainder and execution of the testator for high treason.

But in this crowd of hermits (though it may be worth while to show that a crowd might be collected in those days) we must not lose sight of our own hermit John, dimly visible as he is amid the steam of mash-tuns and cooling-backs at Castle Combe. What became of him we do not know-but the mere fact that he there found out a peaceful hermitage' furnishes us with a convenient stepping-stone to the second of the two things which, as we have already intimated, lay near the hearts and engaged the thoughts and affections of his neighbours. They were, as we have seen, very particular about their beer, but they had the sense to know that even good beer was not good for much if they could not drink it in peace. The peace they would have kept; and, we apprehend, did keep with singular care and success. We do not mean merely that they had no Spa-fields riots, no Reform meetings, no Convocation; nor merely that there was as much concord and good neighbourship as is compatible perhaps with the infirmities of human nature. Of course strife occasionally arose, and broke out into assaults and batteries, though probably not so frequent or so fierce as if the parties had exchanged their complacent ale for the viler liquors of modern times. There was Richard Spencer, in 1415, who had been in the rector's service. He not only, it seems, fecit insultum on that reverend divine-for which he was fined iijd.-but again beat him-levavit hictus super dictum Rectorem-and was therefore mulcted in another iijd. We are not told what led to the assault, but history shows that, even in the best regulated com


munities, there will generally be some unruly subjects; and, when there are, they are pretty sure to quarrel with the parson.' These fines were perhaps not light with reference to the means of the culprit. William Baate, who three years later was bound over to keep the peace towards the rector and all the King's lieges under a penalty of xxl. with three sureties of xl. each, was, we may presume, an offender of more consideration and influence. But the most remarkable case, on account of the view which seems from the terms of the report to have been taken of it, was that of John le Tayllour, presented in like fashion-A.D. 1364-for beating the parson. If, as is probable, the great cause of 'Peebles v. Plainstanes' is not settled, this decision of the court of Castle Combe may be of singular value to old Pest' and his unfortunate client

And then to come back to my pet process of all-my battery and assault process, when I had the good luck to provoke him to pull my nose at the very threshold of the Court, whilk was the very thing I wanted-Mr. Pest-ye ken him, Daddie Fairford !-old Pest was for making it out hamesucken, for he said the Court might be said-said! ugh to be my dwelling-place. I dwell mair there than ony gate else, and the essence of hamesucken is to strike a man in his own dwelling-place and so there's hope Plainstanes may be hanged, as many has for a less matter.'-Redgauntlet.


How would poor Peter Peebles and his legal adviser have chuckled over a presentation in the year 1364, quod Johannes le Tayllour fecit homsokene super Personam in ecclesiâ et injuste levavit hictus super dictum Rectorem ;' followed by the statement that, though the criminal was not hanged, he was fined vjd.? For ourselves we wish to view it as an indication, or at least as a ground of hope, that there was one priest who was thought to have found him a home in the house of God, while all his brethren, as far as we learn, were abroad poaching.

These cases, and more which might be cited, show that the government would not allow the peace to be broken with impunity; but we cannot help seeing-and we wish to describe and to suggest, as characteristic of the people and their times-something far beyond the mere prevention or punishment of violence. The authorities, and the lieges too, both disapproved of disturbance; of all men the most hateful in their eyes were the perturbators'-we use their word; of course we are aware that the men probably called themselves 'reformers but the authorities dealt in a very summary way with persons who were troublesome, litigious, and discontented, and wanted to make other people like themselves. So at least it appears to us who live under a somewhat different system of things, and, scanty


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »