A Lament for Walsingham

In the wracks of Walsingham
Whom should I choose,
But the Queen of Walsingham
To be guide to my muse?
Then, thou Prince of Walsingham,
Grant me to frame
Bitter plaints to rue thy wrong,
Bitter woe for thy name.
Bitter was it so to see
The seely sheep
Murdered by the ravening wolves
While the shepherds did sleep.
Bitter was it, O, to view
The sacred vine
(Whilst the gardeners played all close)
rooted up by the swine.
Bitter, bitter, O, to behold
The grass to grow
Where the walls of Walsingham
So stately did show.
Such were the worth of Walsingham
While she did stand;
Such are the wracks as now do show
Of that so holy land.
Level, level with the ground
The towers do lie,
Which with their golden glittering tops
Pierced once to the sky.
Where were gates no gates are now,—
The ways unknown
Where the press of peers did pass
While her fame far was blown.
Owls do scrike where the sweetest hymns
Lately were sung;
Toads and serpents hold their dens
Where the palmers did throng.
Weep, weep, O Walsingham,
Whose days are nights,
Blessings turned to blasphemies,
Holy deeds to despites.
Sin is where our Lady sat;
Heaven turned is to hell.
Satan sits where our Lord did sway;
Walsingham, O, farewell.

From the Bodleian Library, MS Rawl. Poet. 291 fol 16, possibly by Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel.

Such an Inveteracy As Justifies My Suspicion

Print of the Bodleian Plate, depicting the colonial architecture of Williamsburg, Virginia. The plate, discovered in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, was critical to the reconstruction of Williamsburg in the early-mid 20th century. Collection: A. D. White Architectural Photographs, Cornell University Library. Accession Number: 15/5/3090.00557. Title: College of William and Mary Map date: ca. 1781-ca. 1782. Photograph date: ca. 1935. Location: North and Central America: United States; Virginia, Williamsburg. Materials: gelatin silver print. Image: 7 x 9 1/4 in. Provenance: Transfer from the College of Architecture, Art and Planning.
Print of the Bodleian Plate, depicting the colonial architecture of Williamsburg, Virginia. The plate, discovered in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, was critical to the reconstruction of Williamsburg in the early-mid 20th century. Collection: A. D. White Architectural Photographs, Cornell University Library. Accession Number: 15/5/3090.00557. Title: College of William and Mary Map date: ca. 1781-ca. 1782. Photograph date: ca. 1935. Location: North and Central America: United States; Virginia, Williamsburg. Materials: gelatin silver print. Image: 7 x 9 1/4 in. Provenance: Transfer from the College of Architecture, Art and Planning.

Saturday, the 10th of June, 15 Geo. III. 1775.

A Meſſage from the Council by Mr Blair:

Mr Speaker,

    His Excellency, the Governor, hath deſired the Preſident to communicate to this Houſe his anſwer to the joint Addreſs of the Council and the Houſe of Burgeſſes, preſented Yeſterday to his Excellency; and he preſented the ſaid Anſwer at the Bar.

And then the Meſſenger withdrew.
The Governor‘s Anſwer was read, and is as followeth, viz.

Gentlemen, of the Council, Mr Speaker, and
    Gentlemen of the Houſe of Burgeſſes.

    In anſwer to your joint Addreſs, preſented by your deputies yeſterday, I acquaint you, that it appears to me the commotions among the People, and their menaces and threats (an enumeration of which I forbear, out of tenderneſs) have been of ſuch public notoriety, that you muſt ſuppoſe many of his Majeſty’s ſubjects in this Colony, whether they meditated or not, have at leaſt manifeſted, ſuch an inveteracy as juſtifies my ſuſpicion that they would not heſitate to commit a Crime, which, horrid and atrocious as it is, I had juſt ground to apprehend. And when the diſpoſition which the Houſe of Burgeſſes have ſhown towards me, the returns they have made to the reſpect and civility which I have been forward to offer to them, the countenance they have given to the violent and diſorderly proceedings of the People, his Majeſty’s magazine having been forced and rifled in the preſence of ſome of the members of the Houſe of Burgeſſes, and, by the information of the Committee of the Houſe appointed to inſpect the Magazine, no other endeavours have been uſed than to prevail on the People to return the Arms taken out, but not to commit the Perſons in whoſe poſſeſſion they were found, in order that they might be brought to the puniſhment due to ſo heinous an offence, no leſs againſt the peace and good order of the Country than the dignity and authority of the King; when a body of Men aſſembled in the City of Williamſburg, not only to the knowledge, but with the approbation of every body, for the avowed purpoſe of attacking a party of the Kings forces, which, without the leaſt foundation, it was reported were marching to my protection, and which, if true, ought to have been approved and aided, not oppoſed and inſulted, by all good and loyal Subjects; when eſpecially the Houſe of Burgeſſes, or a committee of the Houſe (which is the ſame) has ventured upon a ſtep fraught with the moſt alarming conſequences, in ordering and appointing guards, without even conſulting me, to mount in the city of Williamſburg, as is pretended, to protect the Magazine, but which may well be doubted, as there then remained nothing therein which required being guarded; but if otherwiſe, this ſtep nevertheleſs ſhews a deſign to uſurp the executive power, which, if it be perſiſted in, ſubverts the conſtitution: I ſay, when theſe circumſtances duly conſidered, I may ſubmit it to your own judgment whether I could reaſonably expect any good effect from communicating the ground of my uneaſineſs to you.

    But as you are pleaſed, Gentlemen, now to aſſure me, that you will cheerfully concur in any meaſure that may be propoſed proper for the ſecurity of myſelf and family, I leave to your own conſideration whether that can be effected any other wiſe than by reinſtating me in the full powers of my office, as his Majeſty’s repreſentative, by opening the Courts of Juſtice, and reſtoring the energy of the Laws, which is all the ſecurity requiſite for all parties; by diſarming all independent companies, or other bodies of Men raiſed and acting in defiance of lawful authority, and by obliging thoſe who have taken any of his Majeſty’s public ſtore of Arms to deliver them up immediately; and, what is not leſs eſſential than any thing by your own example, and every means in your power, aboliſhing that Spirit of perſecution, which, to the diſgrace of humanity, now reigns, and purſues with menaces and acts of oppreſſion, all perſons who differ from the multitude in political opinion, or are attached from principles and duty to the ſervice of their King and government; by which means, the deluded People never hearing but the diſfigured ſide of a Story, their minds are continually kept in that ferment which ſubjects them forever to be impoſed upon, and leads to the commiſſion of any deſperate Act, and endangers the general ſafety. For the more ſpeedy accompliſhment of theſe ends, and the great object and neceſſary buſineſs of the Seſſions, I ſhall have no objection to your adjourning to the Town of York, where I ſhall meet you, and remain with you till your buſineſs be finiſhed.

With reſpect to your entreaty that I ſhould return to the Palace, as the moſt likely means of quieting the minds of the People, I muſt repreſent to you, that, unleſs there be among you a ſincere and active deſire to ſeize this opportunity, now offered to you by Parliament, of eſtabliſhing the freedom of your Country upon a fixed and known foundation, and of uniting yourſelves with your fellow ſubjects of Great Britain in one common bond of intereſt, and mutual aſſiſtance, my return to Williamſburg would be as fruitleſs to the People, as, poſſibly, it might be dangerous to myſelf. But if your proceedings manifeſt that happy diſpoſition, which is to be deſired ardently by every good friend to this as well as the Mother Country, I aſſure you, in the warmth of my heart, that I will return, with the greateſt joy, and ſhall conſider it as the moſt fortunate event of my Life if you give me an opportunity to be an inſtrument of promoting your happineſs, and a mediator between you and the ſupreme authority, to obtain for you every explanation of your doubts, and the fulleſt conviction of the ſincerity of their deſire to confirm to you the undiſturbed enjoyment of your rights and liberty; and I ſhall be well pleaſed, by bringing my family back again, that you ſhould have ſuch a pledge of my attachment to this Country, and of my wiſhes to cultivate a cloſe and laſting intimacy with the inhabitants.

DUNMORE.

I Stretch My Eye Across the Brine

198. Then Columcille and his household departed from Erin, and this is the number they were: twenty bishops, two score priests, thirty deacons, and two score sons of learning that had not yet the rank of priest or deacon, as the poet, even Dallan Forgaill, hath said in this quatrain:

Forty priests their number.
Twenty bishops, lofty their virtue,
For psalmody, without doubting.
Thirty deacons, fifty boys.

199. And these folk were full of wisdom and knowledge and the graces of the Holy Ghost. And the years of Columcille at that time were two and two score. And other fourteen and twenty years of his life he spent in Alba in pilgrimage and exile.

200. Then went Columcille and his household into their ship. And there he made his quatrain:

My foot in my tuneful coracle;
My sad heart tearful
A man without guidance is weak;
Blind all those without knowledge.

201. And he bade farewell to Erin then, and they put out into the ocean and the great deep. And Columcille kept gazing backward on Erin till the sea hid it from him. And heavy and sorrowful was he in that hour. And it was thus he made this quatrain below:

I stretch my eye across the brine,
From the firm oaken planks;
Many the tears of my soft grey eye
As I look back upon Erin.

There is a grey eye
That will look back upon Erin;
Never again will it see
The men of Erin or women.

At dawn and at eve I lament;
Alas for the journey I go
This is my name–I tell a secret–
‘Back to Erin’.

– Betha Colaim Chille (Life of Columcille),
XIV. Of the Exile of Columcille from Erin, 198-201; compiled by Manus O’Donnell in 1532; edited and translated from manuscript Rawlinson B. 514 in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Gregorian Masses of Cormac mac Airt

On a time that Columcille was walking by the side of the river that is called the Boyne, the skull of a man was sent to him. And Columcille and the saints marvelled at the size of that skull, for it was far greater than the skulls of the folk of that time. Then said his household to Columcille:

“It is a poor thing for us,” say they, “to be without knowledge of
whose this skull may be, or where is the soul that was in the body wherein it dwelled.”

Columcille answered them and said: “I will not quit this place save
I get knowledge thereof for you from God.”

Then gan Columcille to pray God earnestly to reveal to him this
thing. And God heard that prayer of Columcille, so that the skull spake to him. And it said how it was the skull of Cormac mac Airt son† of Conn of the Hundred Battles, King of Erin and ancestor to himself. For Columcille was the tenth degree from Cormac. And the skull related that albeit his faith had not been perfect, yet such had been the measure thereof, and his keeping of the truth, that, inasmuch as God knew that Columcille would be of his seed, and would pray for his soul, He had not dammed him in very truth, albeit it was in sharp pains that he awaited the prayer of Columcille.

Then Columcille lifted up the skull and cleansed it right worshipfully. And he baptized it and blessed and buried it thereafter. And he left not the place ere he had said thirty masses‡ for the soul of Cormac. And at the last of those masses the angels of God appeared to Columcille, bearing with them the soul of Cormac to Heaven to enjoy glory everlasting through the intercession of Columcille.

Betha Colaim Chille (Life of Columcille),
X. Of Sundry Miracles and Prophecies of Columcille and of Certain Visions, 131; compiled by Manus O’Donnell in 1532; edited and translated from manuscript Rawlinson B. 514 in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

† Cormac mac Airt was son of Art mac Cuinn and grandson of Conn Cétchathach (Conn of the Hundred Battles)
‡ The reference to “thirty masses” is likely anachronistic, as the custom of the thirty Gregorian Masses dates from A.D. 590, being established by Pope St. Gregory the Great at St. Andrew’s Monastery in Rome, originally restricted to the high altar of the monastery church, with the privilege later being allowed to other altars in Rome, and only centuries later extended to monasteries and churches throughout the world.

Do Thou Assoil Me and Give Me the Sacrament

On a certain day Columcille was going to Tara of the Kings, and by adventure he met Bee mac De, the druid of Diarmaid mac Cerbail, King of Erin. And Bee had the gift of prophecy from God, albeit he was a druid, and he had made no false prophecy ever. But Columcille had foretold that Bee should twice prophesy falsely ere his death. And Colcumcille saluted him, and entered into friendly converse with him.

And he said: “Great is thy wisdom and knowledge, Bee mac De, in the tidings thou givest to other folk touching their deaths. Hast thou knowledge also of when thou shalt thyself die?”

“Thereof have I knowledge in sooth,” saith Bee. “There be yet for me seven years of life.”

“A man might do good works in shorter space than that,” saith Columcille. “And knowest thou for a surety that thou hast so much of life still?”

Then was Bee silent for a space, and thereafter spake he to Columcille and said, “I have not. It is but seven months of life I have.”

“That is well,” saith Columcille, “and art certain thou hast still so much of life to come?”

“I am not,” saith Bee, “and this is a token, O Columcille. I cannot withstand the prophecy thou hast made. For thou didst foretell that I should make two false prophecies ere I should die. There is left me but seven hours of this same day,” saith he. “Do thou assoil me and give me the sacrament.”

“It was to give thee this that I came hither today,” saith Columcille, “for God revealed to me that thou shouldst die today.”

Then did Columcille succor Bee with the consolation of Holy Church, and gave him the sacrament from his own hand. And Bee died then. And his soul went to Heaven through the goodness of God and the intercession of Columcille.

– Betha Colaim Chille (Life of Columcille),
X. Of Sundry Miracles and Prophecies of Columcille in Erin and of Certain Visions, 129;
compiled by Manus O’Donnell in 1532; edited and translated from manuscript Rawlinson B. 514 in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

I Would Not Speak Falsehood

View from atop Dunadd, (Scottish Gaelic Dún Add, 'fort on the [River] Add'), an Iron Age and later hillfort near Kilmartin in Argyll and Bute, Scotland, and believed to be the capital of the ancient kingdom of Dál Riata.
View from atop Dunadd, (Scottish Gaelic Dún Add, ‘fort on the [River] Add’), an Iron Age and later hillfort near Kilmartin in Argyll and Bute, Scotland, and believed to be the capital of the ancient kingdom of Dál Riata.
On a time that Columcille was in Alba, he sent holy Baithin on certain errands to Aedan son of Gabhran. Aedan inquired of him who that man was, to wit, Columcille, of the which the folk of the Western World gave such great report.

“He is a good man,” saith Baithin, “for he hath not broken his virginity, and he hath done naught, small or great, in vain-glory, and never hath he spoken falsehood.” Then Aedan bethought him how he might confute that. And he brought Columcille to him. And he let seat his own daughter Coinchenn in a chair in the presence of Columcille, and she with royal robes upon her.

“Beautiful is the maiden,” saith Aedan.
“She is in sooth,” saith Columcille.
“Were it pleasing to thee to lie with her?” saith Aedan.
“It were pleasing,” saith Columcille.

“Hearest thou him of whom it hath been said that never hath he broken his virginity, and he saying he were fain to be lying with a maiden!” saith Aedan.

“I would not speak falsehood,” saith Columcille. “And know thou, O Aedan, there is none in the world that is without the desire to sin. Natheless he that leaveth that desire, for God’s sake, shall be crowned in the Kingdom of God. And wit thou well, I would not lie with the damsel for the lordship of the world, albeit for the lust of the fleshly body that is about me, it is indeed my desire.”

If now Columcille had said at that time that he had no wish to lie with the damsel, Aedan had laid that against him as a lie, according to the word he had himself spoken, to wit, that save the human body of Jesu Christ, there hath none put on flesh that doth not have desire toward sin.

— Betha Colaim Chille (Life of Columcille),
XVII. More of the Labors of Columcille in Iona, 241;
compiled by Manus O’Donnell in 1532; edited and translated from manuscript Rawlinson B. 514 in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

All Affrighted and Adrad

Sound of Iona.
Sound of Iona.

Another time when Columcille was in lona, holy Baithin set out for that foresaid isle. Columcille warned him that in the middle of the night tofore a terrible beast had come into the harbor betwixt lona and the isle that he was bound for; and that all that should go past that harbor should be in sore peril from her.

Baithin replied, “I and the monster are in God’s hand,” saith he.

“Go,” saith Columcille, “with God’s blessing and mine. Thy stout faith shall save thee from that beast.”

Then went Baithin into his ship. And he had not been long travelling on the sea when they met the beast. Then were they all affrighted and adrad that were in the boat, save only Baithin. And he lifted his hands and eyes to Heaven and prayed God fervently to save him from the danger whereas he was. When Baithin had ended that prayer, he blessed the sea and its waters, and the beast fled before him. And she hath not been seen in that place from that time.

– Betha Colaim Chille (Life of Columcille),
XVII. More of the Labors of Columcille in Iona, 234;
compiled by Manus O’Donnell in 1532; edited and translated from manuscript Rawlinson B. 514 in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Columcille’s Three Pets

There were three pets that Columcille had; a cat, and a wren, and a fly. And he understood the speech of each of those creatures. And the Lord sent messages to him by them, and he understood all from them as he would understand an angel or human folk that might be sent with a message to him. And it happed that the wren ate the fly, and the cat ate the wren. And Columcille spake by the spirit of prophecy, and he said that it was thus men should do in a later time: the strong of them should eat the weak, that is to say, should take his wealth and his gear from him, and should show him neither right nor justice. And Columcille said that the while the Gael of Erin were thus, the power of foreigners should be over them, and whenever right and justice were kept by them, they should themselves have power again. And such love had Columcille for those little creatures of his, that he asked God to revive them for him, to get back the fly from the wren, and the wren from the cat. And he obtained that from God. And they were with him thenceforth as they were before, till they had lived out their lives according to nature. Wherefore he made this quatrain:

The deed they have done.
If God wills it, may He hear me:
May he get from my cat my wren;
May he get from my wren my fly.

— Betha Colaim Chille (Life of Columcille),
X. Of Sundry Miracles and Prophecies of Columcille and of Certain Visions, 118;
compiled by Manus O’Donnell in 1532; edited and translated from manuscript Rawlinson B. 514 in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

 

In the Mansions of Bliss

Saint Columba, MS Rawlinson B. 514, 16th century. Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.
Saint Columba, MS Rawlinson B. 514, 16th century. Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.

Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Queen of Angels, pray for us.
Queen of all Saints, pray for us.
St. Columba, greatest of Irish-born Saints, pray for us.
St. Columba, most illustrious of Irish Scholars, pray for us.
St. Columba, founder of Derry, pray for us.
St. Columba, patron of Ireland, pray for us.
St. Columba, apostle of Scotland, pray for us.
St. Columba, dove of the Church, pray for us.
St. Columba, Saint of the Eucharist, pray for us.
St. Columba, companion of the Angels, pray for us.
St. Columba, mirror of purity, pray for us.
St. Columba, model of humility, pray for us.
St. Columba, lover of temperance, pray for us.
St. Columba, father of the poor, pray for us.
St. Columba, protector of the innocent, pray for us.
St. Columba, advocate of the oppressed, pray for us.
St. Columba, friend of the children, pray for us.
St. Columba, guardian of schools, pray for us.
St. Columba, shield of our city, pray for us.
St. Oran, monk of Derry, pray for us.
All ye holy Monks of Iona, pray for us.
St. Bran, Nephew of St. Columba, pray for us.
All ye holy Dead of Derry, pray for us.
St. Martin, pray for us.
All ye Patrons and Friends of St. Columba, pray for us.

V. Pray for us, O dearest St. Columba.
R. That we may love the Sacred Heart of Jesus daily more and more.

Let us pray.

O God, Who didst vouchsafe to unveil to Thy Servant, Columba, the Angels who guard Thy Tabernacle, grant that we, whose privilege it is to pray where he knelt, may, through his intercession, be enabled to lead such lives of purity and holiness as will one day entitle us to behold those same Angels in the mansions of bliss, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

— Litany of St. Columba, Saint Anthony’s Treasury (1941).

Pills of White Mercury

Mercury(II) Chloride.

“Streets of Laredo” (Roud 2), also known as the “Cowboy’s Lament”, is a famous American cowboy ballad in which a dying cowboy tells his story to a living one. Derived from the English folk song “The Unfortunate Lad,” it has become a folk music standard, and as such has been performed, recorded and adapted numerous times, with many variations.

The old-time cowboy Frank H. Maynard (1853-1926) of Colorado Springs, Colorado, claimed authorship of the revised Cowboy’s Lament, and his story was widely reported in 1924 by the journalism professor Elmo Scott Watson, then on the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The song is widely considered a traditional ballad, and the origins are not entirely clear. It seems to be primarily descended from a British folk song of the late 18th century called “The Unfortunate Rake,” which also evolved (with a time signature change and completely different melody) into the New Orleans standard “St. James Infirmary Blues.” The British ballad shares a melody with the British sea-song “Spanish Ladies.” The Bodleian Library, Oxford, has copies of a nineteenth-century broadside entitled “The Unfortunate Lad,” which is a version of the British ballad. Some elements of this song closely presage those in the “Streets of Laredo” and in the “St. James Infirmary Blues.”

Note that Mercury(II) chloride or mercuric chloride was an early treatment for syphilis and is a white salt.

As I was a-walking by the banks o’ the Ugie
Come, my dear friends, and this story I’ll relate
I spied a dear comrade all dressed in white flannel
Dressed in white flannel and cruel was his fate

Oh the mercury was beating, the limestone was reeking
His tongue all in flames hung over his chin
A hole in his bosom, his teeth were a-closing
Bad luck to the girlie that gied him the glim

Chorus (after each verse):
And had she but told me, oh when she dishonored me
Had she but told me of it in time
I might have been cured by those pills of white mercury
Now I’m a young man cut down in my prime

My parents, they warned me and oft times they chided
With those young flash girls do not sport and play
I never listened, no, I never heeded
I just carried on in my own wicked way

It’s down on the corner two flash girls were talking
One to the other did whisper and say
“There goes that young man who once was so jolly
Now for his sins his poor body must pay”

Oh doctor, dear doctor, before your departure
Take all these bottles of mercury away
Send for the minister to say a prayer over me
So they can lay my poor body in the clay

Now get you six fellows to carry my coffin
Six pretty fair maids to bear up my pall
Give each of them there a bunch of red roses
When they pass by me, they’ll not know the smell

Pills of White Mercury, Old Blind Dogs.