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the sources of their revenue, perquisites, and duties: all extremely interesting.
Next comes a very curious old book, commonly called "Liber Rubeus Bathoniæ," or "The Red Book of Bath." Why called "Red" is not very intelligible (unless from a few rubrical letters here and there in the text), because it is bound in white pigskin on thick wood, with brass bosses on the sides. Inside of the upper cover is a square hole or socket let into the wood and nearly the size of the cover itself, secured with a door of thin iron plate covered with leather and studded with brass nails. In this were formerly kept the balances for weighing gold, as appears by the first entry in the catalogue of contents. It is of the year 1428 and once belonged to the monastery at Bath, and came into the hands of Dr. Thomas Guidot, who dying in 1703 bequeathed it to the first Lord Weymouth. I had always expected to find in this old MS. a good deal about the history of Bath and its Abbey. But it is quite a different thing. It is a collection of most miscellaneous articles, about thirty in number. There are short treatises about weights and measures, the gospels, calendars in rhyme, an essay on phlebotomy, the ringing (or rather beating) of bells-" pulsatio campanarum”-showing how far that enlivening recreation is founded upon ecclesiastical law and how far upon custom. Then come treatises on the office of coroner, a charter of the forest, the names of those who came over with William I., an assize of bread and beer, measurement of land with the acre-staff, and "The Gestes of King Arthur" in rhyme. This is a poem of 642 lines, and is so curious that it was printed as the first issue of the publications of the Early English Text Society. At intervals of fifty or sixty verses the reader is desired by the quaint old poet to pause and say a Paternoster and Ave. At the end of the Red Book, in more modern writing, is an account of the setting up of a pillory in the City of Bath, in A.D. 1412, with a drawing of the uncomfortable instrument.
In the class of historical works one of the finest MSS. is the "Wars and Antiquities of the Jews," by Josephus. This is a large and noble volume of the fifteenth century, in a clear hand, on pure vellum. Another MS. is a curious volume of A.D. 1538 (30 Hen. VIII.),
a list of all the English residents in the town of Calais at that time, when it belonged to England; the names of the men, women and children, strangers and inhabitants, scattered through the twelve wards of His Majesty's town; with devices for its fortification, victualling, wages of workmen, &c. Then a MS. copy of a very celebrated book called "Leicester's Commonwealth," a virulent attack by Parsons the Jesuit (or some one else so called), upon the character and life of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. This was secretly circulated, but only in manuscript, for many years, Queen Elizabeth and the Privy Council having published a protest against it as a slanderous story. A greater pack of calumnies against a very eminent man was perhaps never whipped up together, and unluckily Scott's novel of Kenilworth, being built upon it (apparently without the slightest previous inquiry into the truth or falsehood of its statements) is not only full of the grossest historical errors, but has stamped Dudley's name with a most unjust stigma, which may probably never be effaced. There are also some volumes of very valuable original letters, which came from Sheffield Castle when it was dismantled. They are addressed to the Earl and Countess of Shrewsbury, to whom the Castle belonged, and are written by the great Statesmen and others of Queen Elizabeth's time, including several from Her Majesty herself to the Earl. One begins" My good old man.' In one of these volumes are several letters from the unfortunate Lady Arabella Stuart, the first cousin of King James I. There is also in four large folio volumes a complete history of the Talbot family (Earls of Shrewsbury), compiled entirely out of the records at Sheffield Castle, the greater part of which are now deposited in the Herald's College, London. There are volumes of State papers, ambassadors' correspondence, and the like. A great number also of fantastic essays on alchemy and leech-craft; strange prescriptions and antidotes; astronomical tables and astrology; discourses on coinage, and on-that secret of secrets-the philosopher's stone; and of ancient law treatises a very large collection; also many records of Star Chamber proceedings, which are scarce and valuable. There are several volumes of very old English and French poetry in manuscript. A treatise on chivalry, called "Le Livre des Faiz
d'Armes' by Christine of Pisa, an Italian Lady of the fifteenth century; and another by the same authoress, called "Hector and Othea," translated into English by Stephen Serope, of Castle Combe, in Wiltshire, son-in-law of Sir John Falstaff (not the fat knight of Shakespeare). "The Temple of Glasse," a poem commonly said to have been written by Chaucer, and included in his works. But it was not by him. It is now called the "Isle of Ladies." The Longleat copy is the only MS. of it known. Also several other MSS. of the poems of Chaucer and Lydgate. In one called "Ipomedon," by Lydgate, there is the written autograph (of great rarity) of Richard III., when Duke of Gloucester, with a motto "Tant le desirée." I may just mention as a sample of the value of MSS., especially when, as in this case, they happen to contain any rare autograph, that only a few weeks ago at an auction in London, a little MS. which happened to have this very autograph signature in it was sold for the marvellous sum of £331.
Besides all the books and MSS. to which I have only very slightly referred there is a vast quantity of original documents at Longleat, which have been all arranged. For easier classification they may be distinguished as 1. PERSONAL, and 2. TOPOGRAPHICAL. The Personal documents relate to families, and include a great deal that refers to many of the historical houses of the country. I only name, very cursorily, a few: Stafford Duke of Buckingham, the Veres, Seymour Duke of Somerset: Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, (among which was found an original letter from Amy Robsart) and the three Earls of Essex of the Devereux family. Also twenty eight volumes of Papers collected by Whitelocke the ambassador to Sweden, and a chest full of documents, State-papers and correspondence of Henry Coventry, Secretary of State in 1672. Likewise a quantity of original letters of celebrated historical characters, among which is the autograph letter of Cardinal Wolsey, written on the day of his degradation,to Gardiner Bishop of Winchester, signed "T. Cardinalis Ebor miserrimus."
The Topographical department is very large and curious, containing documents relating to ancient estates in a great many counties in England and Wales, especially, of course, Somerset and Wilts. There
are several original deeds many court rolls, and the like, relating to Glastonbury Abbey.
That there is, besides all the above-mentioned, an enormous quantity of deeds, letters &c., relating to Longleat itself and the successive owners of the estate scarcely requires to be mentioned. The whole of these documents have been put in order and a summary of them printed in the Reports of the Historical Commissioners. As these Reports present forty eight folio pages of double column, in small type, of the heads of the Marquis of Bath's papers, it is out of the question to attempt going into particular details. I will simply say that next to the celebrated "Hatfield Papers," belonging to the Marquis of Salisbury, it is one of the most important private collections to be met w:th. It is thus described in the words of the Commissioners :-"The collection of the Marquis of Bath is a wonderfully complete and vivid illustration of our civil, military, naval, and ecclesiastical history, and from the earliest times. Its value for historical purposes can scarcely be over-rated."
J. E. JACKSON.
The Story of Seven Children Born at a Birth.
Having a faint recollection that, when I was a boy and visiting at Pewsey about 1820, I was taken to some church and saw there a sieve in which several children who had been born at a birth had been brought to the font and christened, I enquired about it of the Reverend the Rector of Pewsey, and by his kindness and that of the Rev. Edward Hill, the Rector of Wishford, I am able to communicate the enclosed, and trust that it may be worth a place in our journal.
To the Editor of the Wiltshire Magazine.
R. C. A. PRIOR.
"Wishford Rectory, Salisbury, May 31st, 1875.
I have much pleasure in supplying information about this parish, which is somewhat rich in old customs and traditions. I will enclose with this all the authentic memoranda I have been able to collect about the seven children of one birth, brought to church in a sieve to be baptized.
The first is written by Roger Powell, who was curate here for thirty years, 1612-1642; his rector was inducted in 1573, exactly one hundred years after the death of Sir Thomas Bonham, and from him, I suppose, Mr. Powell had the tradition; the two effigies of Sir Thomas and his wife are still in excellent preservation, but only three of the brass figures of the children are remaining, though we can trace the matrices and lead holes of the other six.
My second memorandum is a note from Aubrey.
The old schoolmaster who made the third memorandum in 1828 is still living here.
For my part I am disposed to accept the story as quite true, with one very important modification-to read three instead of seven children: or, if it were possible for a woman to have seven at a birth, I would suppose that four were still-born. This would agree exactly with Aubrey's account, and would be confirmed by the remains of the brasses on the great stone slab, of which three appear of like size, and the latter ones dwindle down much smaller,
Yours, dear Sir, faithfully,
"The legend of the seven children of one birth, brought to the Church of Wishford Magna in a sieve.
I. from the fly-leaf of the oldest Register-book (1558-1640).—
There is in the bodie of our Church a monument, an ancient monument of stone of the ancestors of the Bonhams and said to be that of Bonham and his wife that had seven children at one birth: the inscription of the tombe is this that follows, word for word :-Hic jacet Thomas Bonham, armiger, quondam patronus istius ecclesiæ, qui quidem Thomas obiit vicesimo nono die Maii, anno Dom: 1473; et Editha uxor ejus, quæ quidem Editha obiit vicesimo sexto die Aprilis, anno Dom: 1469. Quorum animabus propitietur Deus. Amen.-They were both buried under the great Marble Stone in the middle alley of our church, and the inscription was cutt in brass. Beneath this inscription in the lower end of the same marble stone toward the Choire there were the small statues or images of nine young children set in brass, all weh I myselfe knew standing there about twentie yeares; but of late one of them is broken out of the stone by meanes of some violence and negligence of them that wrought in the Church and laid a great quarrie stone uppon the grave of Robert Hillman lately buried. The statues of the said Thomas and Edith Bonham are said to lie in a hollow vaulted arch under the wall on the North side of the Church, and such statues indeed there are. His statue lies next to the doore of the said side and her statue at the feet of his. By mee Roger Powell, Curate there
Aprill the 10th Anno Dom: 1640.'