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Spoken in reply to those who give utterance to expressions of astonishment at the short duration of anything.


Ascension-day. So called in Newcastle from the annual procession of the Corporate body on that day.


That is, a mighty cunning personage. This saying evidently alludes to the ancient practice of shaving on the open quay by men and women; which latter, curiously enough, appear to have followed the same capacity for two hundred years or upwards. Early in the xvii. cent. we find them accused of "letting of blood,"-a procedure which raised the ire of the Barber Chirurgeons, who of course counted all phlebotomy private property. Shaving was anciently, and I think very properly, considered a surgical operation; it, of a truth, being an amputation of a certain portion of the human frame. There are many curious notices of ancient surgery, as practised in Newcastle from 1600, downward; and it is a manifest mistake to confound the modern hair-dresser, perfumer, frizeur, and perriwig-maker with the Barber Chirurgeon of antiquity; who, though they must of necessity have been far behind the surgeons of our day, both as to talent and opportunity, yet, from the nature of some of their appliances and remedies, they (with all due deference) might not inaptly be termed barbarous chirurgeons.

"Henry King complained of for trimming mr. Fox upon ye Sabaoth Day, he confessing he carried wash-balls and combed his perriwigg; and a stranger affirming that he washed mr. Fox. Fined xx. s." Barb. Chir. Bks. Oct. Nov. 1648.-[Extracted from the MSS. of Mr. G. Bouchier Richardson, de Novo Castro (r. sup.). Tynam. 1847.]

Qy. Is this "mister Fox" the celebrated George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends?

There is an excellent local song called the "Quay-side Shaver," from which the following lines are extracted :—

"On each market-day, sir, the folks to the quay, sir,

Go flocking with beards they have seven days worn,

And round the small grate, sir, in crowds they all wait, sir,

To get themselves shav'd in a rotative turn.

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No sooner the razor is laid on the face, sir,

Than painful distortions take place on the brow;

But if they complain, sir, they'll find it in vain, sir,

She'll tell them, There 's nought but what patience can do.'
And as she scrapes round them, if she by chance wound them,
They'll cry out as tho' she'd bereav'd them of life-

'Gd smash your brains, woman! aw find the blood comin'
Aw'd rather been shav'd with an aud gully knife!'"

P. B. nr. D. in com. Dunelm.

M. A. D.



Darlington: its Annals and Characteristics. By W. H. LONGSTAFFE, Esq. Parts 1 and 2., 8vo. Darlington. 1849.

Ir is seldom that the antiquary is any other than what is sarcastically implied by the romancer when he gives a character of that kind the very distinctive appellation of Dr. Dryasdust; few of the dusty genus have the feelings of a poet, or the eye of a painter, but it may be said of them as of Peter Bell

"A primrose by a river's brim
A yellow primrose was to him,
And it was nothing more."

The more remarkable, therefore, are the rare exceptions to the rule, and high amongst these must we place W. H. Longstaffe, whose work on Darlington, notwithstanding its plain and unpretending appearance is full of profound research and information communicated in the most agreeable manner. If we mistake not he was intimately acquainted with the nearest friend of the lamented Surtees, and he was worthy of being so, for theirs are kindred spirits.

The Darlington of our antiquarian must not be confounded with either of the places so called in Devonshire and Nottinghamshire. It is, as Lambarde tells us in his dictionary, "a market town in the bishoprike of Durham, being a central station on the course of the great line of road from London to Berwick, and one of the eight grand thoroughfares set out in Harrison's description of England prefixed to Hollinshed." The country round about it is compared by the German traveller, Reaumur, to the countries on the Elbe and in the valley of the Elbe between Pilnitz and Dresden.

The north of England would seem at all times to have more abounded in legends and superstitions than any other part of the country, and there too they may still be seen to linger in a more perfect form than elsewhere, although their traces are growing fainter and fainter every day. For matters of this kind our author has an especial liking. Truly Master Slender did not take a greater delight in seeing Sackerson, the bear, loose; a legend is meat and drink to him, and where other antiquaries would have given us only a bundle of dry names he is sure to connect something with them to excite and interest the imagination. Take, for instance, the way in which he speaks of the closes called "Glassensikes."

"The word is probably composed of Glassene, blue or grey, and sike, the old legal term for anything less than a beck, which in its turn is anything less than a river. The former word is still used for blue or grey in Wales, and the following extract from the valuable notes to the Lays of the Deer Forest, &c., by the Stuarts is too appropriate to be omitted. After remarking that grey was anciently the badge of the churl and peasant, they observe that there was another cause for which it was peculiarly disagreeable to the Highlanders when first introduced among them.

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Among them grey was to their imagination what black is to their neighbours, a personification of sombre, superstitious and ghostly ideas, and hence associated with phantoms and demons. Thus, an apparition is called an Riochd -the grey or wan; the spectre foreboding death, am bodach glas -the grey carl; a phantom in the shape of a goat, an Glastig or Glasdidh*-the grey; and as in the South, the great enemy is named familiarly "the black gentleman," so in the Highlands he is called Mac-an-Riochda 'the son of the Grey.' In the ideas of the old wives and children of the last century, all these personifications, except one, were as nearly as possible those of the modern dubh-ghall deer-stalker in his hodden grey-wanting only the Jim Crow, ruffian, or crush hat, enormities which had not then completed the masquerade of Death and


"It is easy to trace the origin of this association. The ancient Caledonnia hell, like that of Scandinavia, was a frozen and glassy region, an island named Ifrinn, far away among the 'wan waters' of the Northern ocean, and inclosed in everlasting ice, and snow, and fog. In this dim region the appearance of the evil spirits, like that of mortals in similar circumstances, was believed to be wan and shadowy, like men seen through a frosty mist.'

"Sir Walter Scott, in his 'Lady of the Lake,' alludes to the same super

stition :

"His dazzled eye

Beheld the river demon rise;

The mountain-mist took form and limb
Of noontide hag or goblin grim;"


and adds, in a note, that the noontide-hag called in Gaelic Glas-lich, a tall, emaciated, gigantic female figure, is supposed, in particular, to haunt the dis. trict of Knoidart.'

"Now, though I by no means intend to assert that the glassene gentleman or lady (for I am unable to define the ghost's gender) haunting Glassensikes is seen at noonday, I will maintain that Glassensikes has goblins as grim as any river dæmons of Scottish land. Headless gentlemen, who disappeared in flame, headless ladies, white cats, white rabbits, white dogs, black dogs; 'shapes that walk at dead of night, and clank their chains;'t in fact, all the characteristics of the Northern Barguest were to be seen in full perfection at Glassensikes. It is true that these awful visions occasionally resolved themselves into a pony, shackled in an adjoining field, or Stamper's white dog, or a pair of sweethearts under the cold moon,' (Qy: Did poets ever hear of persons walking above the moon, be she hot or be she chill?) but still a vast amount of credible evidence exists about the fallen glories of the night-roaming ghosts of Glassensikes. The Glassensikes witnesses are not all thoughtless and superstitious

"It has pleased a writer of the Cockney School of Highlanders to convert this word into Glaslig, which, we take leave to observe, is unknown in the Highlands, and did not exist before the year 1841."

+ "What does Grose mean by saying that dragging chains is not the fashion of English ghosts; chains and black vestments being chiefly the accoutrements of foreign spectres, seen in arbitrary governments; dead or alive, English spirits are free?' for in the North, the chain-dragging is one of the grand characteristics of unhouselled spirits."

men. An old gentleman of Darlington, was at the witching hour of mi dnight returning from Oxeneyfield. It was a bright moonlight night, and the glories of the firmament led him, as he says, to possess a more contemplative turn of mind than he ever felt before or since. In such a frame he thought that if nothing was to be seen in the day, nothing could well haunt Glassensikes by night, and in firm faith, but without any wish to exercise an idle curiosity, he determined to look it very narrowly, and satisfy himself as to the fallacy of the popular notion. Accordingly, when he came to the place where the road to Harewood Hill now turns off, he looked back, and was greatly surprised to see a large animal's head popped through the style at the commencement of the footpath, leading by the present Woodside to Blackwell. Next came a body. Lastly, came a tail. Now my hero, having at first no idea that the unwelcome visitant was a ghost, was afraid that it would fly at him, for it bounced into the middle of the road and stared intently at him, whereupon he looked at it for some minutes, not knowing well what to do, and beginning to be somewhat amazed, for it was much larger than a Newfoundland dog, and unlike any dog he had ever seen, though well acquainted with all the canine specimens in the neighbourhood; moreover it was as black as a hound of hell. He thought it best to win the affections of so savage a brute, so cracked his fingers invitingly at it, and practised various other little arts for some time. The dog, however, was quite immovable, still staring ferociously, and as a near approach to it did not seem desirable, he turned his back and came to Darlington, as mystified about the reality of the Glassensikes ghost as ever. Of late years, this harmless spirit has seemingly become disgusted with the increased traffic past its wonted dwelling, and has become a very well-behaved domestic creature. The stream, however, loves to make new ghosts, and by its stagnant nature does every thing in its power to obtain them."

Long as this extract has been, we might have extended it through many pages, for upon the subject of spirits, black, white, and grey, our learned antiquary is inexhaustible; ghosts and goblins are as plentiful with him as the gnats and midges amongst the willows by some river on a sultry summer evening. By their side, too, we meet with strange murders, moving accidents, plagues, famines, and tales of mighty floods, or the capricious tricks and meanderings of the beautiful Tees, until, as Camden says, "it throws itself at a wide mouth into the sea."

Amongst other causes of celebrity the Tees is, or was-we hardly know which is the correcter phrase-not a little famous for having been haunted by a water-spirit, who rejoiced in the unromantic name of Peg Powler. Not that Peg confined herself to the running waters; the neighbouring ponds were also honoured with her presence.

The Kent, which joined the Tees at Neasham, had also its spirit, called Hob Hedeless, that is, Headless. He was exorcised and laid under a large stone, formerly on the road side, for ninety-nine years and a day, on which stone, if any luckless passenger sate, he would be glued there for ever. When the road was altered it was removed by some infidel hands, and strange to say the charm had lost its effect, greatly, no doubt, to the surprise of all true believers. Our author observes that, "Hob is a name for many spirits of very varying characters;" but the same remark might with equal truth be applied to one-half of the race of supernaturals. In the present instance this is the less surprising, as Hob, or Hobgoblin, meant nothing more than the spirit Rob, or Robert-the Ruprecht, and Ruppert, or Rupert of the Germans, Rupert, as it is hardly necessary to say, being invariably anglicised into Robin. From being the specific name of a familiar goblin, it in process of time came to be applied to a variety of household spirits.

Again, upon the subject of the white ladies, we are somewhat at variance with our antiquary. He says:—

"Lady ghosts are favourite accompaniments of water in the North. Both my former residences, Norton and Thirsk, had white ladies near them, on melancholy streams; indeed, in the latter case, the runner took a name from the circumstance, and is called the White-lass-beck. Like the Glassensikes spirit, the White-lass is rather protean in her notions, turning into a white dog, and an ugly animal which comes rattling into the town with a tremendous clitter-my-clatter, and is there styled a barguest. Occasionally, too, she turns into a genuine lady of flesh and blood, tumbling over a stile. The Norton goblins are equally eccentric. Two gentlemen (one, a very dear friend of mine, et est mihi sæpe vocandus, now deceased) saw near a water an exquisitely beautiful white heifer turned into a roll of Irish linen, and then, when it vanished, one of them beheld a fair white damsel. The Thirsk maid was murdered; and, some years ago, when a skeleton was dug up in a gravel pit near the beck, it was at once said to be that of the poor girl."

We cannot bring ourselves to believe much of what is here set downnot that we mean to doubt for a moment the existence of ghosts and goblins, since we hold it part and parcel of the true poetical faith to believe as implicitly in them as in the gods of Olympus or Walhalla; but we cannot fancy that these white ladies are in the least entitled to claim kinship with either the barguest-more properly bahrgeist, i.e. spirit of the bier or with any ugly animals whatever. When they are not actual ghosts, as the last-mentioned damsel unquestionably is, they are the legitimate descendants, not of the weisse-frauen, or the white-women, though their names sound so similar, but of the nixies.

Another subject of too much interest to be passed over unnoticed is the Hell-kettles, Of these Harrison says:

"What the foolish people dreame of the Hell-Kettles, it is not worthy the rehersall, yet to the ende the lewde opinion conceyved of them maye growe into contempt, I will say thus much also of those pits. Ther are certeine pittes or rather three litle poles, a myle from Darlington, and a quarter of a myle distant from the These bankes, which the people call the Kettles of Hell, or the Devil's Ketteles, as if he should seethe soules of sinfull men and women in them: they adde also that the spirites have oft beene harde to crye and yell about them, wyth other like talke, savouring altogether of pagane infidelitye. The truth is (and of this opinion also was Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of Durham) that the colemines in those places are kindled, or if there be no coles, there may a mine of some other unctuous matter be set on fire, which beyng here and there consumed, the earth falleth in, and so doth leave a pitte. In deede the water is nowe and then warme as they saye, and besides that it is not cleere, the people suppose them to be an hundred faddame deepe, the byggest of them also hath an issue into the These. But ynough of these wonders least I doe seeme to be touched in thys description, and thus much of the Hel-Kettles."-Harrison in Hollinshed, 1577, i. 94.

In attempting to explain the meaning of the word, our antiquary has fallen into the same mistake as his predecessors, by confounding two things alike in sound, but derived from totally different roots, and having meanings no less distinct. He says:—

"A verse from Herrick's Hesperides, alluding to a pleasant forfeit in the old game of Barley-break, in which three couples played. One went to each end of the ground, and ran across, when the couple in the middle (or Hell) caught, if they could, one of the running couples and placed them in Hell instead. In



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