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1. 7. alarmed, ordinarily used of persons only, and here because the hall is already personified.
1. 10. dissociable, dissimilar, unequal.
1. 15. Genius, spirit, angel; in old days men were believed to be accompanied through life by two angels, one good and one evil, who were always striving for the mastery over him. Here Cromwell is probably meant. a young man, James Stuart, 'The Pretender,' as he was called, born June 10th, 1688.
1. 18. brandished... Settlement, since by that Act he was debarred as a Catholic from succeeding to the throne.
1. 19. a sponge, according to Ferguson, in order to wipe out the national debt; but more probably to wipe out the writing of the Act of Settlement hung up in the hall.
1. 21. the Rehearsal, a satirical drama by the Duke of Buckingham, and others, written to ridicule Dryden and the 'heroic plays' of the time, though originally Davenant was intended for the chief hero; produced in 1671. The passage here meant is in Act v., where Bayes (i.e. Dryden) is made to say in reference to the representation of an eclipse on the stage, "Well, Sir; what do I but make the Earth, Sun, and Moon come out upon the Stage, and dance the Hey [a dance borrowed from the French]: hum? And, of necessity, by the very nature of this dance [in which there were many rounds and windings], the Earth must be sometimes between the Sun and the Moon, and the Moon between the Earth and the Sun; and there you have both your Eclipses.
1. 25. to distraction, so as to lose her wits.
P. 14, ll. 1, 2. that I now found... money, i. e. a large proportion of mercantile transactions being based not upon the amount of money actually in the hands of the speculator but upon that which he could raise upon credit.
1. 6. Eolus, the son of Hippotes, ruler of the Eolian island to whom Zeus gave dominion over the winds, which he might soothe or excite at his pleasure; Homer, Odyssey, x. 1 et seqq.
1. 8. heaps of paper, the bank notes which the Bank of England is allowed to issue for current use. At present the Bank is allowed to issue such Notes to the amount of £16,000,000; but for every Note issued beyond that maximum an equivalent amount of gold or bullion must be paid into its coffers.
11. 8, 9. piles sticks, the Exchequer 'tallies,' or notched sticks, by which accounts were kept, one tally being kept in the Exchequer, the other given to the creditor in lieu of an obligation for money lent to the Government. Bath faggots, bundles of split wood for lighting a fire; first used at Bath.
11. 16, 7. a person... seen, "The Elector of Hanover, afterwards George I." (Ferguson).
1. 20. transported, carried beyond, or out of, myself.
1. 22. fain, gladly; properly an adjective. closed, brought to a conclusion, completed.
POPULAR SUPERSTITIONS. No. 7.
P. 15, 11. 11, 2. which I should... for, which would have caused me pain.
1. 13. but, after, than after; this use of but, so common in former days, seems to be passing away.
11. 15, 6. you may now see...night, when a small portion of the wick of a candle becomes partially detached, or any small foreign substance finds its way into the wick, and flames up separately from the main flame, it is supposed to indicate the visit of a stranger. Various other omens were derived from candles and their manner of burning.
1. 8. go into join-hand, the previous stage in learning to write being the formation of single letters unconnected with each other.
1. 20. Childermas-day, an anniversary of the Church of England, held on the 28th of December, in commemoration of the children of Bethlehem slain by Herod; also called Innocents'-Day; a day therefore of most unlucky omen, one on which according to popular superstition it was not lucky to put on a new suit, to pare one's nails, or to begin anything. The termination -mas is the word mass, (1) the celebration of the Eucharist, (2) a church festival, and is frequent in composition, e.g. Christ-mas, Candlemas, Hallow-mas, etc. In Childer-mas we have an old Northern plural; the original form of the word, cild, "formed its plural by strengthening the base by means of the letter r, and adding n, as cild-r-n. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries we find cild-r-n converted into (1) child-r-e and (2) child-r-e-n. In the fourteenth century we find in the Northern dialects childer = children, where the re has become -er" (Morris, Outl. 96, § 80). 1. 23. to lose...week, sc. as she was doing in the case of her child's lessons.
1. 24. to reach her, to hand her, as she could not reach the saltcellar.
1. 25. such a trepidation, caused by anxiety not to do anything that might be thought ill-omened.
1. 26. hurry of obedience, anxious haste to meet her wishes.
1. 27. startled, see note on p. 12, 1. 15.
11. 27, 8. fell towards her, which was supposed to foreshadow some calamity which could be averted only by throwing some of
the salt that had thus fallen over the shoulder. The spilling of wine was also ominous. blank, pale; F. blanc, white.
1. 29. concern, anxiety, gloomy looks.
P. 16, 1. 3. misfortunes... single, a common proverb found in many forms, e.g. "It never rains but it pours. Cp. Haml. iv. 5. 79, "When sorrows come, they come not single spies, But in battalions." The good lady, determined to see omens in everything, puts on an air of resignation, and as it were comforts herself with this acknowledgment of the inevitable.
11. 3, 4. acted... table, played but a secondary part to his wife as they sat at meals.
11. 5, 6. to fall in with, to acquiesce in, meet with sympathy. yoke-fellow, wife, to whom he is by marriage tied; often used of any close companionship, e.g. H. V. ii. 3. 56, “yoke-fellows in arms"; Lear, iii. 6. 39, thou, his yoke-fellow of equity."
1. 7. child, used as a term of endearment.
11. 7-9. that the pigeon-house... table, thus chiming in with his wife's determination to look upon everything from a gloomy point of view.
1. 8. wench, maid servant; commonly but not always, nor necessarily, used in a depreciatory sense.
1. 10. battle of Almanza, in Spain, where, in 1708, in the War of the Succession in Spain, the allied forces of the English and Dutch were utterly defeated by the Duke of Berwick, a natural son of James the Second.
1. 11. the figure I made, the sorry position in which I felt myself to be; the poor figure I cut.
1. 12. dispatched, finished with haste.
1. 13. to my utter confusion, the preposition expresses the result. 1. 14. quitting, leaving, as having finished eating.
11. 14, 5. laying...plate, another omen; the crossing of the knife and fork was supposed to indicate crosses and misfortunes certain to follow.
1. 16. humour her, pay regard to her fancies on the subject. figure, position in which I had laid them.
1. 27. unfortunate aspect, look which boded evil. Here again there is an allusion to astrology, aspect being properly in that so-called science the way in which the planets, from their relative positions, look upon each other, but popularly transferred to their joint look upon the earth; cp. Troilus and Cressida, i. 3. 92, "Corrects the ill aspects of planets evil."
1. 33. properly, necessarily, in a way belonging to us; Lat. proprius, own.
1. 34. indifferent, that do not in themselves point in one direc tion or another; hence petty, trifling.
1. 36-P. 17, l. 1. I have known... rest, from its being regarded as ominous; the "stars with trains of fire" which Horatio speaks of as harbingers preceding still the fates And prologue to the omen coming on," Haml. i. 1. 122, 3.
11. 2, 3. upon ... merry-thought, the merry-thought is a name given to the craw-bone of a bird, more commonly to that bone in a duck, which was used as a childish means of divination, two persons taking hold of its extremities and pulling till it snapped. If the break was in the middle, where the two limbs of the bone meet, the omen was good to both parties; if, on the other hand, one of the limbs broke off short, the person holding that limb was threatened with bad luck. screech-owl, the common or barn door owl, whose screeching or hooting at night was thought ominous; cp. M. N. D. v. 1. 383-5, "Whilst the screech-owl, screeching loud, Puts the wretch that lies in woe In remembrance of a shroud"; iii. H. VI. v. 6. 44, “The owl shriek'd at thy birth—an evil sign.
1. 5. a cricket...lion, crickets however were more usually thought good omens, and to kill one a very unlucky thing.
1. 6. inconsiderable, trifling.
11. 8, 9. shoot prodigies, are magnified into omens of terrible significance; prodigy,' Lat. prodigium, a showing beforehand, sign, token.
1. 10. An old maid, a term applied to a woman who has passed what is generally considered the marriageable time of life. the vapours, see note on p. 12, 1. 13.
1. 12. a great family, a family of high rank.
1. 13. sybils, more properly spelt 'Sibyls,' from Gk. Zíẞuλλai, Lat. Sibyllæ, the name by which several prophetic women are designated in classical literature. By some authors only four are mentioned, others increase the number to ten, among whom the most famous was the Cumaan Sibyl, who was consulted by Eneas before he descended to the lower world, and later on was said to have appeared to the Roman King Tarquinius and offered him the Sibylline books for sale.
1. 15. death-watches, noises superstitiously supposed to forebode the death of some one in the house, frequently caused by insects within the wainscot of walls; cp. Tennyson, The May Queen, Conclusion, 1. 21, “I did not hear the dog howl, mother, or the death-watch beat, There came a sweeter token when the night and morning meet," said by the dying 'May Queen.'
11. 16, 7. the great house-dog that howled. Dogs howling near a house in which any one was sick were supposed to portend death or calamity. Cp. iii. H. VI. v. 6. 46.
1. 18. extravagant, going beyond the limits of good sense. cast of mind, disposition, character, of mind; engages, binds, involves.
1. 19. impertinent, used in its literal sense of what is not pertinent, has no real relation to, the matter in question.
11. 19, 20. but in...life, but in the performance of duties which are unnecessary; these works of supererogation being performed in order to avert imaginary ill consequences.
1. 22. entertain, receive into our minds and dwell upon. 1. 25. observation, notice.
1. 27. retrench, lessen, curtail; literally to cut off, F. retrencher; the word in this figurative sense as applied to evils is
1. 31. this divining quality, this habit of mind which is always interpreting trifling events to have some important significance; from O. F. divin, a diviner, augur, one who predicts the future by holy methods.
P. 18, 1. 3. thread, a metaphor from the thread of life which the Greeks supposed to be spun by the three Fates, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, the first of whom held the distaff, the second spun the web, and the last cut it off.
1. 8. question not, doubt not.
1. 11. solicitous, anxious, eager to pry into it.
REFLECTIONS IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY. No. 26.
1. 26. Westminster Abbey, England's great national temple, originally founded by Sebert, King of the East Saxons, who died in 616; rebuilt by Edward the Confessor, 1049-1065; and again by Henry the Third, 1245-1272.
1. 27. the use...applied, i.e. as the burial place of great men. P. 19, 1. 1. cloisters, generally, as here, used for the partially enclosed walk beneath the upper story of monasteries, convents, colleges, etc., but also for any place of religious seclusion, from Lat. claustrum, an enclosure.
1. 18. in holy writ, in the Bible; The Wisdom of Solomon, v. 12, 13, "Or like as when an arrow is shot at a mark, it parteth the air, which immediately cometh together again, so that a man cannot know where it went through: Even so we in like manner, as soon as we were born, began to draw to an end, and had no sign of virtue to shew; but were consumed in our own wickedness."