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August 10.

St. Lawrence, A. D. 258. St. Deusdedit. St. Blaan, Bp. of Kinngaradha, A. D. 446.

St. Lawrence.

His name stands in the church of England calendar. He suffered martyrdom at Rome, under Valerian. Mr. Audley relates of St. Lawrence, "that being peculiarly obnoxious, the order for his punishment was, 'Bring out the grate of iron; and when it is red hot, on with him, roast him, broil him, turn him: upon pain of our high displeasure, do every man his office, O ye tormentors.' These orders were obeyed, and after Lawrence had been pressed down with fire-forks for a long time, he said to the tyrant, 'This side is now roasted enough; O tyrant, do you think roasted meat or raw the best?' Soon after he had said this he expired. The church of St. Lawrence Jewry, in London, is dedicated to him, and has a gridiron on the steeple for a vane, that being generally supposed the instrument of his torture. The ingenious Mr. Robinson, in his 'Ecclesiastical Researches,' speaking about this saint, says, 'Philip II. of Spain, having won a battle on the 10th of August, the festival of St. Lawrence, vowed to consecrate a PALACE, a CHURCH, and a MONASTERY to his honour. He did erect the ESCURIAL, which is the largest Palace in EUROPE. This immense quarry consists of several courts and quadrangles, all disposed in the shape of a GRIDIRON. The bars form several courts; and the Royal Family occupy the HANDLE.' 'Gridirons,' says one, who examined it, 'are met with in every part of the building. There are sculptured gridirons, iron gridirons, painted gridirons, marble gridirons, &c. &c. There are gridirons over the doors, gridirons in the yards, gridirons in the windows, gridirons in the galleries. Never was an instrument of martyrdom so multiplied, so honoured, so celebrated: and thus much for gridirons.'"* [1]


On the 10th of August, 1575, Peter Bales, one of our earliest and most eminent writing-masters, finished a performance which contained the Lord's prayer, the creed, the decalogue, with two short prayers in Latin, his own name, motto, the day of the month, year of our Lord, and reign of the queen, (Elizabeth,) to whom he afterwards presented it at Hampton-court, all within the circle of a single penny, enchased in a ring with borders of gold, and covered with a crystal, so accurately wrought, as to be plainly legible, to the great admiration of her majesty, her ministers, and several ambassadors at court.

In 1590, Bales kept a school at the upper end of the Old Bailey, and the same year published his "Writing School-Master." In 1595, he had a trial of skill in writing with a Mr. Daniel (David) Johnson, for a "golden pen" of £20 value, and won it. Upon this victory, his contemporary and rival in penmanship, John Davies, made a satirical, ill-natured epigram, intimating that penury continually compelled Bales to remove himself and his "golden pen," to elude the pursuit of his creditors. The particulars of the contest for the pen, supposed to be written by Bales himself, are in the British Museum, dated January 1, 1596.

So much concerning Peter Bales is derived from the late Mr. Butler's "Chronological Exercises," and excellent arrangement of biographical, historical, and miscellaneous facts for the daily use of young ladies.

Peter Bales according to Mr. D'Israeli, "astonished the eyes of beholders by showing them what they could not see." He cites a narrative, among the Harleian MSS., of "a rare piece of work brought to pass by Peter Bales, and Englishman, and a clerk of the chancery." Mr. D'Israeli presumes this to have been the whole Bible, "in an English walnut no bigger than a hen's egg. The nut holdeth the book: there are as many leaves in his little book as the great Bible, and he hath written as much in one of his little leaves, as a great leaf of the Bible." This wonderfully unreadable copy of the Bible was "seen by many thousands."

Peter Huet, the celebrated bishop of Avranches, long doubted the story of an eminent writing-master having comprised "the Iliad in a nut-shell," but, after trifling half an hour in examining the matter, he thought it possible. One day, in company at the dauphin's, with a piece of paper and a common pen, he demonstrated, that a piece of vellum, about ten inches in length, and eight in width, pliant and firm, can be folded up and enclosed in the shell of a large walnut; that in breadth it can contain one line of thirty verses, perfectly written with a crow-quill, and in length two hundred and fifty lines; that one side will then contain seven thousand five hundred verses, the other side as much, and that therefore the piece of vellum will hold the whole fifteen thousand verses of the Iliad.

The writing match between Peter Bales and David Johnson, mentioned by Mr. Butler, "was only traditionally known, till, with my own eyes," says Mr. D'Israeli, "I pondered on this whole trial of skill in the precious manuscript of the champion himself; who, like Cæsar, not only knew how to win victories, but also to record them." Johnson for a whole year gave a public challenge, "To any one who should take exceptions to this my writing and teaching." Bales was magnanimously silent, till he discovered that since this challenge was proclaimed, he "was doing much less in writing and teaching." Bales then sent forth a challenge, "To all Englishmen and strangers," to write for a gold pen of twenty pounds value, in all kinds of hands, "best, straightest, and fastest," and most kind of ways; "a full, a mean, a small, with line and without line; in a slow-set hand, a mean facile hand, and a fast running hand;" and further, "to write truest and speediest, most secretary and clerk-like, from a man's mouth, reading or pronouncing, either English or Latin." Within an hour, Johnson, though a young friend of Bales, accepted the challenge, and accused the veteran of arrogance. "Such an absolute challenge," says he, "was never witnessed by man, without exception of any in the world!" Johnson, a few days after, met Bales, and showed him a piece of "secretary's hand," which he had written on fine parchment, and said, "Mr. Bales, give me one shilling out of your purse, and, if within six months you better or equal this piece of writing, I will give you forty pounds for it." Bales accepted the shilling, and the parties were thereby bound over to the trial of skill. The day before it took place, a printed paper posted through the city taunted Bales's "proud poverty," and his pecuniary motives as "ungentle, base, and mercenary, not answerable to the dignity of the golden pen!" Johnson declared that he would maintain his challenge for a thousand pounds more, but that Bales was unable to make good a thousand groats. Bales retorted by affirming the paper a sign of his rival's weakness, "yet who so bold," says Bales, "as blind Bayard, that hath not a word of Latin to cast at a dog, or say 'Bo!' to a goose!" The goose was mentioned, perhaps, in allusion to Michaelmas-day, 1595, when the trial commenced before five judges; and "ancient gentleman" was intrusted with "the golden pen." The first trial was for the manner of teaching scholars; this terminated in favour of Bales. The second, for secretary and clerk-like writing, dictated in English and in Latin, was also awarded to Bales; Johnson confessing that he wanted the Latin tongue, and was no clerk. On the third and last trial, for fair writing in sundry kinds of hands, Johnson prevailed in beauty and most "authentic proportion," and for superior variety of the Roman hand; but in court-hand, and set-text, Bales exceeded, and in bastard secretary was somewhat perfecter than Johnson. For a finishing blow, Bales drew forth his "master-piece," and, offering to forego his previous advantages if Johnson could better this specimen, his antagonist was struck dumb. In compassion to the youth of Johnson, some of the judges urged the others not to give judgment in public. Bales remonstrated against a private decision in vain, but he obtained the verdict and secured the prize. Johnson, however, reported that he had won the golden pen, and issued an "Appeal to all impartial Penmen," wherein he affirmed, that the judges, though his own friends, and honest gentlemen, were unskilled in judging of most hands, and again offered forty pounds to be allowed six months to equal Bales's "master-piece." Finally, he alleged, that the judges did not deny that Bales possessed himself othe golden pen by a trick: he relates, that Bales having pretended that his wife was in extreme sickness, he desired that she might have a sight of the golden pen, to comfort her, that the "ancient gentleman," relying upon the kind husband's word, allowed the golden pen to be carried to her, and that thereupon Bales immediately pawned it, and afterwards, to make sure work, sold it at a great loss, so that the judges, ashamed of their own conduct, were compelled to give such a verdict as suited the occasion. Bales rejoined, by publishing to the universe the day and hour when the judges brought the golden pen to his house, and painted it with a hand over his door for a sign.* [2] This is shortly the history of a long contest, which, if it has not been paralleled in our own time, we have been reminded of by the open challenges of living calligraphers.

John Flamsteed.

On the 10th of August, 1675, the foundation stone of the Royal Observatory, for watching and noting the motions of the celestial bodies, was laid on the hill where it now stands, in Greenwich Park. The edifice was erected by order of king Charles II., at the instance of sir Jonas Moor, under the direction of sir Christopher Wren; and it is worthy of record here, that the celebrated Flamsteed, constructed a "Scheme of the Heavens," at the very minute when the foundation stone was laid. It has never appeared in any work, and as the public are wholly unacquainted with its existence, it is subjoined exactly as Flamsteed drew it with his own hand.

"Few men rightly temper with the stars."—Shakspeare.

Flamsteed was the first astronomer-royal, and from him the Observatory at Greenwich derives its popular name, "Flamsteed-house." His "Scheme of the Heavens," may be found there in a folio vellum-bound manuscript on the second page. Opposite to it, also drawn by himself, with great exactness, and signed by his own name within it, is a ground plan of the Observatory. On the following, being the fourth page, is a list of "Angles, betwixt eminent places observed with the sextant in the months of February and March, 1679-80." The remainder of the book consists of about one hundred and seventy pages of "Observations," also in Flamsteed's hand-writing. Whatever astrological judgment he may have exercised upon the positions of the stars in his horoscope, he has not left his opinion in writing; but the circumstance of his having been at some pains to ascertain and set them down among his other "Observations," may be taken as presumptive that this great astronomer practised astrology.

In another folio manuscript in calf binding, containing also one hundred and thirty-two pages of his "Observations," there is a document of more general importance; namely, a series of notices or memoranda also in his own hand-writing of circumstances in his life which he deemed nost worthy of committing to paper. The most curious portion of this labour relates to a difference which is well known to have existed between himself, and sir Isaac Newton. The whole of these memoirs, with the astrological scheme, a scientific gentleman was permitted by Dr. Maskelyne, the late astronomer-royal, to transcribe from the MSS. at the Observatory. Until now, they have been unprinted, and having been obligingly communicated to the Editor of the Every-Day Book, the latter conceives that the public will be gratified by their perusal, and therefore preserves them in the pages of this work without comment. Without any view of detracting sir Isaac Newton, or Mr. Flamsteed, by their publication, he offers the singular statements as Flamsteed wrote them. His birth is stated at their commencement; he died at Greenwich, on the 31st of December, 1719.

Memoirs of Mr. John Flamsteed, by himself.

I was borne At Denby, 5 miles from Derby, August 19, 1646—my father having removed his family thither because the Sickness was then in Derby.

Educated in the free school at Derby till 16 years old.

At 14 years of Age 1660, Got a great cold—was followed by 5 years sickness—a Consumption.

Recovered, by God's blessing, on a journey into Ireland 1665, in the months of August and Sept.

Began to study Mathematics in 1662. The first book I read was Sacrobusco de Sphæra, which I turned into English.

In 1665 Calculated Eclipses and the planets, places from Street's Caroline tables, and wrote my Treatise of the æquation of Days.

In 1666 observed the Eclipse of ye Sun.

In 1669 observed a Solar Eclipse and some appulses, and presented the prædictions of more for the year 1670 to the R. S.* [3] this brought on a Correspondence with Mr. Oldenburg—Collins.

Mr. Oldenburg's first letter to me is dated Jan. 14. 1669—70.

Mr. Collins 2°ree; Feb. 3. 1669—70.

My Predn. of Appulses 1670, printed in ye Ph. Tr. No. 55 for Jan. 1669—70.

Mr. N's.[4] The. of light and Colors, 80. Feb. 19. 1671—2.

I was in London after Whitsuntide 1670; came acquainted with Sir. Jo. Moor; bought telescope glasses, and had Mr. Townly's Micrometer presented to me by Sir Jonas Moor.

Set a Pole up to raise my glasses, March 21, 1671, at Derby.

Began to measure distances in the heavens, Octo. 17, 1672.

Continued them there till Jan. 167_.

1672. Sept. Observed [astronomical sign]— deduced his parallax from the Observations = to his diameter.

1674. May the 2d. came to London.
29, went to Cambridge.
June the 5th. My degree.
July 13, returned to London.
Aug. 13, left London.
29, Got to Derby.

1674. First acquaintance with Sir I. N. at Cambridge, occasioned by my fixing there the Microscope, which he could not; the object glass being forgot by him.

1675. Feb. 2. Came to London Again.
Mar. 4. Warrant for my Sallary.

Sieru de St. Piex proposes to find the Longitude by Observations of the Ds. *     *    *    Letters hereon.* [[Distances of the stars?]]

1675. June 22. Warrant dated for building the Royl. Observatory.

[fem sign] August 10. foundation layd.

1676. July 10. entred into it to inhabit wth T. Smith, and Cutler Denton Servant.

Sept. 19. began to measure distances in the heavens wth the sextant.

76. Sir Jonas Moor gave me the sextant, some books, and glasses, with charge to dispose of them by my Will: all the other instruments and tubes provided at my own charge.

1679. Aug. 17. Sir Jonas Moor died. His Sonn Sir J. M. thrown from his horse, died.

1680. Made the Voluble [?] Quadrant at my own Charge.

1680. Dec. 12. [astronomical sign] first saw and observed ye great Comet; observed it till Feb. 5, (80-81.)

1680. Mr. Newton's first Letter to me about the Comet.

81. Imparted my observations of the Comet with ye                   may [be] derived from them.

85 or 86. gave him* [5] the diameters of the planets in all Positions of the earth, and them in their orbits: got it back with much difficulty after 2 years detention.

He disputed against the comets of Nov. and Dec. being the same, in 2 long letters in Feb. and March 81°ree;; now, in 85, he owned they might be so as I had asserted, and slightly mentioned me as disputing for their being the same as in ye 4th book of his principles; whereas I affirmed it, and himself disputed against it.

1687. his principles published: little notice taken of her Ma[ties.] Observatory.

1688 & 9. made the New large Arch and Staff * * * Sharp.

89. Began my observations of the * * s distances from our vertix with it.

Sept. 12. [astr. symbol] & 13 [astr. symbol]s got the Clock removed by Nov. 15 [fem sign]:

89. Dec. 10. first observation of the [Moon]'s place compared with my lunar Tables in ye 4th book of calculations, pag. 5.

After this I observed the [Moon] and planets frequently wth the New Arch; examined the lunar observations, commonly the morning after they were got, and compared them with my Tables, till April, 1692, whereby I saw the faults of the Tables sometimes were near one-third of a degree.

1694. Sept. 1 [astr. sign] Mr. Newton come to visit me; I shewed him these Collations drawn up in 3 large Synopses, and on his request gave him copys of them, he promising me not to impart or communicate them to any body; this promise I required of him because, as I then told him, I made use of some places of the fixed Stars which I had derived from observations made with the Sextant, which were not so exact as those taken with the Murall Arch; that I had now gotten a good stock of observations of the fixed * * s, should make a larger and much exacter Catalogue, that the [Moon]'s observed places should be derived from the places of the stars in my New Catalogue, and then I would impart them to him, which he approved, and by a Letter of his dated          confest.

Nevertheless he imparted what he derived from them both to Dr. Gregory and Mr. H:* [6] contra datam fidem.

After he had got the 3 Synopses of [Moon]'s observations to him he desired more of them, and this caused an Intercourse of letters betwixt us, wherein I imparted to him about 100 more of ye [Moon] places, but finding this took up much time, and being now entered in my Rectification of the places of the fixed stars, and very busy in it, I was forced to leave off my correspondence wth him at that time, having found that his corrections of my numbers still gave ye Moon's places 8 or 9 minutes erroneous, tho; Dr. G. and Dr. Halley had boasted they would agree wth in 2' or 3'—I was ill of the stone very oft and had [illegible] ye head ach till Sept. when freed of it by a violent fit of ye stone and my usuall medicine—Deo Laus.

1695 or 1696. Sir I. N. [7] being made an Officer in the Mint came to London. I sometimes visited him there or at his own house in Jermin Street: we continued civil, but he was not so friendly as formerly, because I could            Mr. H. and Dr. G. assertions concerning his corrections of ye Horroccian lunar theorys.

1696. A Correspondence begun wth Mr. Bosseley and Apothecary of Bakewell in Derbyshire and Mr. Luke Leigh a poor Kinsman of Mr. Halleys of the same clan, and myself. Mr. Bosseley wanted observation for correcting the planets places I furnished him, and set him on [astr sign] and [astr sign].

Mr. Leigh I hired to calculate the places of the fixed Stars from their Right Ascentions and distances from the Northern Pole determined by myself.

1696. Dec. 11 I received from him the places of the Stars in the Constellations of [astr sign] and [astr sign], which whilst he had been doing the same, were done by my then servant Mr. Hodgson in ye Observatory, so that I easily found the errors of either and corrected them.

The Stars in Hevelius his Sextant and Monsceros. ye Linx, Camelopardalus, Canes, Vanatici, were calculated afterwards in 1705. 6. 7. 8 by my servants, J. Woolferman and J. Crosthwaite, and the Constellations of Hercules and Cassiopea enlarged with ye addition of many Stars observed in the years 1705. 6. 7. 8. by them and Mr. Ab. Ryley.

In the mean time as often as I met with Sir I. N. he was very inquisitive how the Catalogues went on, I answered as it stood; and when he came here commonly shewed him how it stood in my books, not suspecting any design, but hoping he might serve me as kindly as I had assisted him freely with my pains when he desired me.

1698. At Michaelmas was at Derby and Bakewell.

1697—8. Feb. 6, ye CZAR first came to Greenwich.

1704. April 11. [masc sign] Mr. Newton came to the Observat[or]y dined with me, saw the Volumes of Observations, so much of the Catalogue as was then finished, with the Charts of the Constellations both J. W's* [8] and those copied by Vansomer: desired to have the recommending of them to ye Prince: I knew his temper, that he would be my fr. no further than to serve his own ends, and that he was spitefull and swayed by those that were worse than himself; this made me refuse him: however, when he went away he promised me he would recommend them, tho he never intended me any good by it, but to get me under him, that I might be obliged to boy him up as E H† [9] has done hitherto.

1704. Nov. 8. Wrote the Estimate, which was read without my knowledge at the R. S. The Members thought it ought to be recommended to the Prince; the President joynd with them, a Committee was appointed to attend his R. H. even without acquainting me with it, an estimate of the charges drawn up without my knowledge: the Prince allows it—Mr. N. says [illegible.]

He concludes me now in his power, does all he can to hinder the work, or spoyls it by encouraging the printers to commit faults.

We must print the Observations, tho I had shewed in my printed Æstimate, that for very good reasons the Charts of the Constellations ought first to be set upon.

Mr. N. told me he hoped I would give a Note under my hand of security for the Prince's Money; this I knew was to oblige me to be his slave: I answered that I had, God be thanked, some estate of my own which I hoped to leave for my wife's support, to her during her life, to my own Relations after; that therefore I would not cumber my own estate with imprests or securitys, but if they would please to take his Rl Hs moneys into their hands I would sign the workmen's bill to them, whereby they would see if they were reasonable at the same time.

I was told I should have all the printed copys save what his R. H. should have to present to the Universitys.

And Mr. N. granted that since I refused to handle any of his R. H. money there was no need of securitys or Articles —Nevertheless———

  *    *    *

The preceding are all the memoranda by Mr. Flamsteed respecting himself: he breaks off with the word "Nevertheless."

To conclude this article a fac-simile is added of Mr. Flamsteed's autograph from his copy of "Streete's Caroline Tables," mentioned in the preceding memoir, and now in the possession of the Editor of the Every-Day Book. It is to a memorandum made in that book by Mr. Flamsteed, in these words:—

"The greatest declination of ye sun is not more yn 23°ree;. 29'. 00 his horizontall parallax but 10 seconds; the semidiameters of ye Sunn in the Caroline tables less yn they ought to be by 12 seconds."


Common Balsam. Impatiens balsama.
Dedicated to St. Lawrence.


Notes [all notes are Hone's unless otherwise indicated]:

1. Companion to the Almanac. [return]

2. Mr. D'Israeli's Curiosities of Literature. [return]

3. [Royal Society.] [return]

4. [Newton's Theory.] [return]

5. [Sir Isaac Newton.] [return]

6. Halley. [return]

7. [Sir Isaac Newton] [return]

8. [J. Woolferman, Ant.] [return]

9. [Dr. Edmund Halley.] [return]