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February 29th

Born: Edward Cave, printer, 1692, Newton, Warwick; Gioacchino Rossini, 1792, Pesaro.

Died: St. Barbas, bishop of Benevento, 684; Arch-bishop John Whitgift, 1603-4, Croydon; John Landseer, engraver, 1852.

Feast Day: St. Oswald, bishop of Worcester, and archbishop of York, 992.


Oswald was an Anglo-Saxon prelate who was rewarded with the honour of canonization for the zeal with which he had assisted Dunstan and Odo in revolutionizing the Anglo-Saxon church, and substituting the strict monachism of the Benedictines for the old genial married clergy; or, in other words, reducing the Church of England to a complete subjection to Rome. Oswald was Odo's nephew, and was, like him, descended from Danish parents, and having at an early age distinguished himself by his progress in learning, was called to Canterbury by his uncle, Archbishop Ode, who made him a canon of the Old Minster there. He had, already, however, begun to display his passion for monachism, and became so dissatisfied with the manners of the married clergy of Canterbury, that he left England to enter the abbey of Fleury in France, which was then celebrated for the severity of its discipline; yet even there Oswald became celebrated for the strictness of his life.

Archbishop Odo died in 961, and, as he felt his health declining, he sent for his nephew, who arrived only in time to hear of his death. He returned to Fleury, but was finally persuaded to come back to England withhis kinsman Oskitel, Archbishop of York, who was on his way from Rome with his pallium. On their arrival in England they found Dunstan just elected to the see of Canterbury; and that celebrated prelate, fearful that the See of Worcester, which he had previously held, should fall into the hands of a bishop not sufficiently devoted to the cause of monachism, persuaded Oswald to accept it. The new bishop, in fact, found plenty to do at Worcester, for Dunstan himself had not been able to dislodge the married canons from the church, and they offered an equally resolute resistance to his successor. Having struggled for some time in vain, Oswald gave up the contest, left the church and the canons, and built a new church and monastery near it, within the same churchyard, which he dedicated to the Virgin Mary; he also established there a colony of monks from Fleury. The people, we are told, attended sometimes one church and sometimes the other at will, until, gained over by the superior holiness which. Oswald's clergy appeared to display, they gradually deserted the old church, and the married canons found themselves obliged to yield.

In 972, Oswald was, through Dunstan's interest, raised to the archbishopric of York, and Dunstan, fearing for the interests of monachism in Mercia, where Oswald had still made no great progress, insisted on his retaining the bishopric of Worcester along with the archiepiscopacy. The triumph of Dunstan's craftiness as well as talents in the conference at Caine, in 978, finally turned the scale against the old Anglo-Saxon clergy; and soon after that event Oswald succeeded in turning the clergy (who, according to the phraseology of the old writers of his party, 'preferred their wives to the church') from most of the principal churches in the diocese of Worcester, and substituting monks in their places.

In 986, Oswald founded the important abbey of Ramsey, on land which he had obtained from the gift of Earl Aylwin; and he here established a school, which became one of the most celebrated seats of learning in England during the latter part of the tenth century, under the direction of the learned Abbo, one of the foreign monks whom Oswald had brought hither from Fleury. Oswald's favourite residence appears to have been at Worcester, where his humility and charity were celebrated. It was only towards the close of his life that he finally triumphed over the secular clergy of the old church of St. Peter, and from that time his new church of St. Mary superseded it and became the cathedral of the diocese. He was present to consecrate the church of Ramsey on the 8th of November. 991, and, after some stay there, returned to Worcester, where, in the middle of his duties, he was seized with a disease which carried him off very suddenly, and he was buried in his church of St. Mary. Oswald died on the day before the kalends of March, that is, on the last day of the previous month; and he is the only saint who takes his place in the calendar for that day.


Whitgift, 'one of the worthiest men that over the English hierarchy did enjoy,' was the third primate of the Protestant Church of England after the Reformation, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, upon whose death the Archbishop was afraid lest King James should make alterations in the government and Liturgy of the church; and his death was accelerated by this anxiety. He took a prominent part in explaining and defending before the King the doctrines and practices of the church, and was at the head of the Commission appointed for printing a uniform translation of the Bible, but he did not live to assist in its execution. He caught cold while sailing to Fulham in his barge; and on the following Sunday, after a long interview with the King, was seized with a fit, which ended in an attack of palsy and loss of speech. The King visited him at Lambeth, and told him that he 'would pray for his life; and if he could obtain it, he should think it one of the greatest temporal blessings that could be given him in this kingdom.' He died on the 29th of February, in the seventy-third year of his age, and was buried in the parish church of Croydon, on the second day after his death; his funeral was solemnized on the 27th of March, in a manner suitable to the splendour in which he had lived.

The Archbishop always took a lively interest in the management of public charities, and he left several instances of his munificence. He built and endowed, entirely from his own revenues, a hospital, free-school, and chapel, at Croydon, which he completed during his own lifetime. Ho commenced building the hospital on the 14th of February 1596, and finished it within three years. It is a brick edifice, in the Elizabethan style, at the entrance of the town from London: over the entrance are the armorial bearings of the see of Canterbury, and this inscription: 'QVI DAN PAVPERI NON INDIGBBIT.'

The original yearly revenue was only �185,4s. 2d.; but, by improved rents and sundry benefactions, it now exceeds �2000 per annum. Each poor brother and sister is to receive �5 per annum, besides wood, corn, and other provisions. Amongst the crimes to be punished by expulsion, are 'obstinate heresye, sorcerye, any kind of charmynge, or witchcrafte.' In the chapel is a portrait of the Archbishop, painted on board; and an outline delineation of Death, as a skeleton and gravedigger. Among the documents are the patent granted to the founder, with a drawing of Queen Elizabeth, on vellum; and on the Arch-bishop's deed of foundation is a drawing of himself, very beautifully executed. In the hall, where the brethren dine together three times yearly, is a folio Bible, in black letter, with wooden covers, mounted with brass; it has Cranmer's prefaces, and was printed in 1596. Here also, formerly, were three ancient wooden goblets, one of which was inscribed:

'What, sirrah! hold thy pease
Thirst satisfied, cease.'


29th February, 1730, in a small private nunnery of Poor Clares, in King-street, Dublin, an aged lady was found in the morning, fallen out of bed, stiff with cold, and beyond recovery. The person who died in this obscure and miserable manner had once been the very prime lady of the land, the mistress of Dublin Castle, where she had received a monarch as her guest. At an early period of her life, she had been one of the loveliest figures in the gay and luxurious court of Charles II. She was, in short, the person celebrated as La Belle Jennings, and latterly the wife of that Duke of Tyrconnel who nearly recovered Ireland for King James II.

She entered life soon after the Restoration, as maid of honour to the Duchess of York, and in that position had conducted herself with a propriety all the more commendable that it was in her time and place almost unique. As wife of the Duke of Tyrconnel, during his rule in Dublin in 1689-90, her conduct appears to have been as dignified, as it had formerly been pure. It is presented in a striking light in Mrs. Jameson's account of what happened after the battle of the Boyne�'where fifteen Talbots of Tyrconnel's family were slain, and he himself fought like a hero of romance.' 'After that memorable defeat,' says our authoress, 'King James and Tyrconnel reached Dublin on the evening of the same day.

The Duchess, who had been left in the Castle, had passed four-and-twenty hours in all the agonies of suspense; but when the worst was known, she showed that the spirit and strength of mind which distinguished her in her early days was not all extinguished. When the King and her husband arrived as fugitives from the lost battle, on which her fortunes and her hopes had depended, harassed, faint, and so covered with mud, that their persons could scarcely be distinguished, she, hearing of their plight, assembled all her household in state, dressed herself richly, and received the fugitive King and his dispirited friends with all the splendour of court etiquette. Advancing to the head of the grand staircase with all her attendants, she kneeled on one knee, congratulated him on his safety, and invited him to a banquet, respectfully inquiring what refreshment he would be pleased to take at the moment. James answered sadly that he had but little stomach for supper, considering the sorry breakfast he had made that morning. She, however, led the way to a banquet already prepared; and did the honours with as much self-possession and dignity as Lady Macbeth, though racked at the moment with equal terror and anxiety.'


It is a pity that such obscurity rests on the personal history of this light of the middle ages. Ho was an innovator upon the stereotyped ideas of his age, and got accordingly a dubious reputation among formalists. If he had been solely the author of the following sentence�' Authority springs from reason, not reason from authority�true reason needs not be confirmed by any authority '�it would have been worth while for Scotland to contend for the honour of having given him birth.


In several old grammar-schools there -was a liberal rule that the boys should have an hour from three till four for their drinkings. Sometimes the schoolmaster, for want of occupation, employed himself oddly enough. One day a visitor to the school of observing some deep-coloured stains upon the oaken floor, inquired the cause. He was told that they were occasioned by the leakage of a butt of Madeira, which the master of the grammar school, who had grown lusty, not having had for some time any scholar who might afford him the opportunity of taking exercise, employed himself upon a rainy day in rolling up and down the schoolroom for the purpose of ripening the wine, and keeping himself in good condition.

March 1st