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January 12.

St Arcadius. St. Benedict Biscop, or Bennet. St. Ælred, Tygrius.

St. Benedict Biscop, or Bennet.

Butler says he was in the service of Oswi, king of the Northumbrians; that at twenty-five years old he made a pilgrimage to Rome, returned and carried Alcfrid, the son of Oswi, back to the shrines of the apostles there, became a monk, received the abbacy of Sts. Peter and Paul, Canterbury, resigned it, pilgrimaged again to Rome, brought home books, relics, and religious pictures, founded the monastery of Weremouth, went to France for masons to build a church to it, obtained glaziers from thence to glaze it, pilgrimaged to Rome for more books, relics, and pictures, built another monastery at Jarrow on the Tine, adorned his churches with pictures, instructed his monks in the Gregorian chant and Roman ceremonies, and died on this day in 690. He appears to have had a love for literature and the arts, and, with a knowledge superior to the general attainment of the religious in that early age, to have rendered his knowledge subservient to the Romish church.


1807. The 12th of January in that year is rendered remarkable by a fatal accident at Leyden, in Holland. A vessel loaded with gunpowder entered one of the largest canals in the Rapenburg, a street inhabited chiefly by the most respectable families, and moored to a tree in front of the house of professor Rau, of the university. In Holland, almost every street has a canal in the middle, faced with a brick wall up to the level of the street, and with lime trees planted on both sides, which produce a beautiful effect, and form a delightful shade in hot weather. Vessels of all kinds are frequently moored to these trees, but Leyden being an inland town, the greater part of those which happened to be in the Rapenburg were country vessels. Several yachts, belonging to parties of pleasure from the Hague and other places, were lying close to the newly arrived vessel, and no person was aware of the destructive cargo it contained.

A student of the university, who, at about a quarter past four o'clock in the afternoon, was passing through a street from which there was a view of the Rapenburg, with the canal and vessels related the following particulars to the editor of the Monthly Magazine:—

"At that moment, when every thing was perfectly tranquil, and most of the respectable families were sitting down to dinner in perfect security, at that instant, I saw the vessel torn from its moorings; a stream of fire burst from it in all directions, a thick, black cloud enveloped all the surrounding parts and darkened the heavens, whilst a burst, louder and more dreadful than the loudest thunder, instantly followed, and vibrated through the air to a great distance, burying houses and churches in one common ruin. For some moments horror and consternation deprived every one of his recollection, but an universal exclamation followed, of "O God, what is it?" Hundreds of people might be seen rushing out of their falling houses, and running along the streets not knowing what direction to take; many falling down on their knees in the streets, persuaded that the last day was come; others supposed they had been struck by lightning, and but few seemed to conjecture the real cause. In the midst of this awful uncertainty, the cry of "O God, what is it?" again sounded mournfully through the air, but it seemed as if none could answer the dreadful question. One conjecture followed another, but at last, when the black thick cloud which had enveloped the whole city had cleared away a little, the awful truth was revealed, and soon all the inhabitants of the city were seen rushing to the ruins to assist the sufferers. There were five large schools on the Rapenburg, and all at the time full of children. The horror of the parents and relations of these youthful victims is not to be described or even imagined; and though many of them were saved almost miraculously, yet no one dared to hope to see his child drawn alive from under a heap of smoking ruins.

"Flames soon broke out from four different parts of the ruins, and threatened destruction to the remaining part of Leyden. The multitude seemed as it were animated with one common soul in extricating the sufferers, and stopping the progress of the flames. None withdrew from the awful task, and the multitude increased every moment by people coming from the surrounding country, the explosion having been heard at the distance of fifty miles. Night set in, the darkness of which, added to the horrors of falling houses, the smothered smoke, the raging of the flames, and the roaring of the winds on a tempestuous winter night, produced a scene neither to be described nor imagined; while the heart-rending cries of the sufferers, or the lamentations of those whose friends or children were under the ruins, broke upon the ear at intervals. Many were so entirely overcome with fear and astonishment, that they stared about them without taking notice of any thing, while others seemed full of activity, but incapable of directing their efforts to any particular object."

In the middle of the night, Louis Bonaparte, then king of Holland, arrived from the palace of Loo, having set out as soon as the express reached him with the dreadful tidings. Louis was much beloved by his subjects, and his name is still mentioned by them with great respect. On this occasion his presence was very useful. He encouraged the active and comforted the sufferers, and did not leave the place till he had established good order, and promised every assistance in restoring both public and private losses. He immediately gave a large sum of money to the city, and granted it many valuable privileges, besides exemption from imposts and taxes for a number of years.

Some degree of order having been restored, the inhabitants were divided into classes, not according to their rank, but the way in which they were employed about the ruins. These classes were distinguished by bands of different colours tied round their arms. The widely extended ruins now assumed the appearance of hills and valleys, covered with multitudes of workmen, producing to the eye an ever-varying scene of different occupations. The keep of the vessel in which the catastrophe commenced, was found buried deep in the earth at a considerable distance, together with the remains of a yacht from the Hague with a party of pleasure, which lay close to it. The anchor of the powder vessel was found in a field without the city, and a very heavy piece of lead at the foot of the mast was thrown into a street at a great distance.

One of the most affecting incidents was the fate of the pupils of the different schools on the Rapenburg. At the destructive moment, the wife of the principal of the largest of them was standing at the door with her child in her arms; she was instantly covered with the falling beams and bricks, the child was blown to atoms, and she was thrown under a tree at some distance. Part of the floor of the school-room sunk into the cellar, and twelve children were killed instantly; the rest, miserably wounded, shrieked for help, and one was heard to call, "Help me, help me, I will give my watch to my deliverer." Fathers and mothers rushed from all parts of the city to seek their children, but after digging five hours they found their labour fruitless; and some were even obliged to leave the spot in dreadful suspense, to attend to other near relations dug out in other quarters. They at last succeeded, by incredible efforts, in bringing up some of the children, but in such a state that many of their parents could not recognise them, and not a few were committed to the grave without its being known who they were. Many of these children, both among the dead and those who recovered, bled profusely, while no wound could be discovered in any part of their bodies. Others were preserved in a wonderful manner, and without the least hurt. Forty children were killed. In some houses large companies were assembled, and in one, a newly married couple, from a distance, had met a numerous party of their friends. One person who was writing in a small room, was driven through a window above the door, into the staircase, and fell to the bottom without receiving much hurt. Many were preserved by the falling of the beams or rafters in a particular direction, which protected them, and they remained for many hours, some for a whole day and night. A remarkable fact of this kind happened, when the city of Delft was destroyed by an explosion of gunpowder in 1654; a child, a year old, was found two days afterwards sucking an apple, and sitting under a beam, with just space left for its body. Two others at a little distance were in their cradles quite safe. At that time almost the whole of Delft was destroyed.

Leyden is as large a city, but not so populous, as Rotterdam, the second city in Holland. Upwards of two hundred houses were overthrown on this occasion, besides churches and public buildings; the Stadt, or town-house, was among the latter.

One hundred and fifty-one dead bodies were taken from the ruins, besides many that died after. Upwards of two thousand were wounded more or less dangerously. It is remarkable that none of the students of the university were either killed or wounded, though they all lodge in different parts of the city, or wherever they please. Contributions were immediately began, and large sums raised. The king of Holland gave 30,000 gilders, and the queen 10,000; a very large sum was collected in London.

Leyden suffered dreadfully by siege in 1573, and by the plague in 1624 and 1635, in which year 15,000 of the inhabitants were carried off within six months. In 1415 a convent was burnt, and most of the nuns perished in the flames. An explosion of gunpowder, in 1481, destroyed the council-chamber when full of people, and killed most of the magistrates.

The misfortunes of this city have become proverbial, and its very name has given rise to a pun. "Leyden" is "Lijden;" Leyden, the name of the city, and Lijden, (to suffer,) have the same pronunciation in the Dutch language.

The chirp of the crickets from the kitchen chimney breaks the silence of still evenings in the winter. They come from the crevices, when the house is quiet, to the warm hearth, and utter their shrill monotonous notes, to the discomfiture of the nervous, and the pleasure of those who have sound minds in sound bodies. This insect and the grasshopper are agreeably coupled in a pleasing sonnet. The "summoning brass" it speaks of, our country readers well know, as an allusion to the sounds usually produced from some kitchen utensil of metal to assist in swarming the bees: —

To the Grasshopper and the Cricket.

Green little vaulter in the sunny grass,
     Catching your heart up at the feel of June,
     Sole voice that's heard amidst the lazy noon,
When ev'n the bees lag at the summoning brass;
And you, warm little housekeeper, who class
     With those who think the candles come too soon,
     Loving the fire, and with your tricksome tune
Nick the glad silent moments as they pass;
Oh, sweet and tiny cousins, that belong,
     One to the fields, the other to the hearth,
Both have your sunshine; both, though small, are strong
     At your clear hearts; and both were sent on earth
To sing in thoughtful ears this natural song,—
     In doors and out, summer and winter, Mirth.             L. Hunt.