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AN EXTRAORDINARY OPERATION.
BY THE EDITOR.
We'll find a way to remove all that.–M.D.
Os the 26th of December, 1842, according to the official record, a tipsy sailor, by name Peter Galpin, in tacking along the Mile End Road, slipped his foot on a piece of orange-peel, and fell with great violence on the pavement. He was immediately picked up by the passengers, and being unable to walk or stand, was carried on a stretcher, by two policemen, to the London Hospital, where, on examination, it appeared that he had broken one of the small bones of his right leg.
The fracture was immediately reduced; and as the patient was not habitually a drunkard, but had only been casually overtaken, the case went on very favourably, and promised a speedy cure.
In the mean while the poor fellow, accustomed to an active life, would have found the time pass very tediously in bed—especially as he could not read-but for the daily bustle and business in the ward, -the departures of the cured or the incurable, by discharge or death—and the arrivals of fresh sufferers--the visits of the surgeons and medical students, and the operations of the hospital dressers and nurses, in the most trivial of which he took a deep interest. Averse to doctors and doctoring, seamen in general, are as ignorant as sea-horses of the usages and practices of the sick-room, so that whatever was done of the kind, even to the application of a poultice, and was novel, consequently attractive to ourt ar.
Every proceeding, therefore, was carefully watched and logged in his memory-rare materials for future yarns, when he should be able to rejoin his ship, the Grampus, of Liverpool. Strange, indeed, were the things he had seeu done in that hospital, and more extraordinary still were the things which he thought that he had seen performed — amounting in his opinion to surgical miracles !
At last, one day arousing from a nap, and sitting up as usual to take an observation, he espied in the next bed a fat man with a particularly big red nose, large staring black eyes, and an uncommonly wide mouth -in fact, very like somebody he had seen dancing during the carnival in the streets of an Italian port. This corpulent bottle-nosed man was propped up in bed, with his back bared, whilst a dresser was applying an ointment to a very large, very red, and very raw and sore-looking place between his shoulders.
"My eyes!” exclaimed the sailor, letting himself drop backward on his pillow, quite overcome with wonder—" There's been a hopperation !"
What do you mean?” asked the dresser. “ What!" ejaculated the astounded seaman, with his eyes cast upwards and almost protruding from his head
LITERATURE OF THE MONTH.
THE HISTORY OF WOMAN."
The only wise and legitimate method of advancing women to that condition of perfect social equality with man for which nature seems to have destined them is, to set their past and present position in its true point of view, and trace the causes which have led to the changes that have from time to time taken place. And such is the method adopted by Miss Lawrance in the work before us. To argue the question of woman's “ rights” or “wrongs" in regard to her social claims as compared with those of man, must ever be, as it ever has been,-futile and inconclusive ; and for a woman to argue it, and especially in the tone and temper in which women have argued it from time to time, is as unfeminine as it is impolitic. But the advocates of the “ Rights of Women” have hitherto for the most part mistaken the very grounds of those claims, as much as they have mistaken the temper in which they may be urged with the best hope of ultimate success; they have, one and all, “ busied themselves about many things,” more or less “ from the purpose" of the true question, which never was, and never can be, a question of “ rights” or of “ wrongs,"
as applied to the sex generally. Miss Lawrance has “ chosen the better part;" she has, so far as her work proceeds, demonstrated the Right of Woman to a social equality with Man, by recording her History: thus showing that, in every step which men have advanced from barbarism towards civilization, the influence of woman has been at least as operative in the good work as that of man. It is true that Miss Lawrance's records, thus far, extend only to a period when both women and men were still in that semibarbarous condition which was, perhaps,
as little conducive to the general welfare and happiness of those it affected as the ruder and wilder condition it had superseded. But, luckily for the prospective interest, of the work, this volume conducts us to precisely that period of the History of Woman in England from which, as from a mountain-top, we see the coming dawn that will presently spread light and beauty over the land. And there is no step of the path which has led us to this bright prospect, that has not shown us woman as the guiding and leading star which has at once pointed out the difficulties of the journey, and the course necessary to avoid or overcome them. It is to the commencement of the age of chivalry that this first volume of Miss Lawrance's work conducts us ; an era from which may be dated the actual birth of civilization ; and nothing can be more clearly and plainly set forth, than the share which woman had in bringing on this happy era. The part which she took in fostering and educating the infant Hercules till he was fitted to undertake the holy office of cleansing the foul places of the social fabric, and expelling the monsters that had intruded themselves into it, will occupy the future volumes of this work. In the mean time the sex owe to Miss Lawrance a debt of gratitude that they will not be slow to
* The History of Woman in England. By Hannah Lawrance. Vol. I.
pay her, as much for what she has omitted to do on the present occasion, as for what she has done. Her business has been to record facts, not to draw inferences ; and the inferences that will be drawn by others (without knowing it perhaps,) will be the stronger in consequence of her forbearance. As in the case of individuals, the only woman who really and effectually rules her husband is she “who never shows the rules,” so will the beneficial influence of women be felt and appreciated by the male readers of this charming work, in proportion as it is never urged, or rather, as it is not even recognised ;—for though we constantly in the course of these pages meet with references to the influences affecting women in the various changes which are recorded in the social system of England up to the close of the 12th century, we rarely if ever are called upon to observe the influences exercised by women in return.
As the title of this work sufficiently speaks its ostensible design and plan, we shall not explain these further than may be gathered from the foregoing remarks. But to abstain from affording such examples as our limited
allows, of the materials of which the work consists, and the style in which they are set forth, would be an injustice both to the writer and to our own readers ; for it is very long indeed since we have met with a work which we more earnestly desire to commend to the favour of all Englishwomen ; and, as the proverb says, “a good face is the best letter of recommendation,” so no panegyrics of ours will be half so effectual'in commanding that favour, as even the passing glimpses we shall afford of this new claimant on the good graces of the reading world.
The following sketch of convent life in the reign of our first Henry will, if we mistake not, excite tenfold more interest, in the present improved taste of our female readers, than any of the flighty extravagances which have been extracted from the same topic by the Radcliffe school of romance :
The general order of the nun's daily occupation seems to have been as follows. About five o'clock in the morning, the nuns, if in the winter season, each bearing a taper, proceeded to the church, and there performed the first of the daily services, “ prime.” After a short period devoted to meditation, they assembled to breakfast, and this seems to have consisted on fast-days of fish and water, on other days of meat and beer; the usual breakfast of all classes during the middle ages. After this they went to their daily occupations, and moderate conversation on various subjects was allowed, At eight o'clock the bell summoned them to“ tierce,” the service which answers to the “ morning prayer" of the English church, and which was followed by “sexts,” at which high mass was performed ; and when the sermon, if there was any, was preached. These services lasted until nearly ten o'clock, and then the nuns proceeded to their refectory to dinner.
Their diet, judging from the minute directions to the cellaress of Barking Abbey, seems to have been good and various. In this very curious document, we find that she was to provide twenty-two good oxen for the convent (to be salted down for the winter provision), as well as salt herrings and salmon ; that she was to provide geese for Michaelmas-day ; fowls and pigs at various times; pork, and“ white puddings with eggs, pepper, and saffron,” for Advent; eels for Sheer Thursday, and pancakes for Shrove-tide. She was to make due provision of ale and wine, and give each nun (“ ladye” she is called) her * liverage” of two pounds of almonds, five pounds of rice, one pound of figs, and one pound of raisins, each week during Lent. As all the Benedictine convents strictly followed the same rule, the duties of each cellaress were, doubtless, the same as those of her sister officer at Barking, and there is no reason
to believe that the black-robed sisters ever, except on fast-days, sat down to “ Lenten fare."
At the tables in the refectory the nuns sat in order, another table being placed at the end for the novices and pupils; the table for the superior of the convent, who was either abbess or prioress, was raised on a dais at the upper end; but from the account of Barking Abbey, it appears that the superior most frequently dined in her private-room. On the ringing of a hand-bell, the dishes were brought in, and all the nuns stood while a short Latin grace was said-generally by the præcentrix. There were servants under the direction of the cellaress to bring whatever was wanted ; and during the whole time, a nun read from a desk a portion of Scripture or some religious book. When dinner was concluded, the reader returned thanks, and the benediction having been given by the prioress, or, in her absence, by the sub-prioress or præcentrix, the nuns retired.
The period between after dinner and “nones ” seems to have been devoted to recreation. Friends called about that time, and the nuns retired to the cloisters to converse, or walked in the garden.
The midday service,“ nones,” was very short, and it does not seem that the nuns were obliged to assemble in church. Immediately after they took their “meridian,” a noontide slumber, which our forefathers, during the middle ages, always indulged in, and which was absolutely necessary to the nuns, as their nightly rest was broken into by the midnight service. It was at this time that the younger nuns mostly endeavoured to meet their friends at the postern door, to enjoy a little secular conversation, and sometimes, through aid of the portress, they would steal out to catch a furtive glance at the gaieties of that world, which they had professed to renounce. The injunction, therefore, of Dean Kentwode to the convent of St. Helen's, Bishopsgate, in the fifteenth century, that “ some sadde woman, and discrete, honeste, and wel named, for shuttyng the cloyster dores,” should be appointed, was not unneedful.
Now long the “ meridian” was allowed, we cannot ascertain, nor the precise time of the “ vespers,” or “even-song According to some writers, vespers were performed at three o'clock, P. M., wliile others give five o'clock as the time. The latter seems the more correct, inasmuch as the service itself, especially the hymns, refer to the “ close of day," a phrase which might be applied to five o'clock, but certainly not to the earlier time. The nuns, too, are represented as exercising their various occupations in the cloister before even-song, but there would have been scarcely time, if three o'clock had summoned them to the service.
At five, therefore, the sisterhood again proceeded to the church, and on their return, on those days when supper was allowed, partook of a slight refreshment. Among the more devotional, or the more rigid, the interval be tween even-song and complin (the concluding service of the day) was devoted to reading and to meditation; and it was considered a mark of superior sanctity never to speak to any one.
At seven o'clock the bell summoned the nuns to the completorium, or complin, when the emphatic benediction of May the Lord grant you good rest and a quiet night," was pronounced; and after prayers and hymns, that supplicated protection from violent men, but more especially and earnestly protection from the powers of darkness, the service of the day closed.
Soon after this, the nuns retired to rest in their dormitory, or “dortour," where they slept until midnight. Then the chapel-bell again summoned them to the “nocturnæ vigiliæ," or "lauds," as they were more frequently called a short but beautiful service, entirely made up of thanksgivings; and then they again retired to rest, until summoned by the bell for“ prime."
Such was the daily routine of the conventual life; sometimes varied by fasts and longer vigils, but sometimes also relieved by splendid processions and festivals ; and at Christmas and Easter more especially, by social observances, which rendered the convent the scene of mirth and rejoicing, no less than the abodes of the laity.
As an example at once of the perfectly clear, natural, and agreeable style in which this work is composed, and the entertainment its materials may afford to even the least thoughtful of readers, we may give the following legend :
A pretty convent legend is told of the foundation of this abbey. Hugh, Lord of Hatton, in Warwickshire, joined the Croises, and bidding farewell to his lady and children set forth for the Holy Land. Here he was taken captivethrown into a dungeon, where he remained seven years. At length, one night, musing on his hard fate, he remembered that St. Leonard was saint of his parish church; and probably hoping that saint would feel some sympathy in the sorrows of his parishioners, the good knight earnestly besought his aid. St. Leonard appeared, and, bidding him promise to found a house of nuns on the spot where he should meet his lady, told him to arise and go home. The command seemed strange enough to Sir Hugh, who was closely shut in a dungeon, and loaded with heavy chains ; so he treated it as a dream, and again besought St. Leonard's aid. Again St. Leonard appeared, and gave the same command as before. The knight pronounced the vow to build the convent, and immediately found himself, although still wearing his fetters, in Wroxhall woods. Here a shepherd saw him--it was his own shepherd; but so changed was Sir Hugh by his long captivity, that the shepherd knew him not. In answer to his request the shepherd called his lady, but when she came near she drew back in affright from the squalid and fettered stranger. At length Sir Hugh bethought himself of the gold ring which he and his lady had broken at their parting, and the half of which he had carefully kept. He drew it forth ; the lady remembered the token, she took from her bosom the other piece, and now recognised her husband. The house for nuns was built on the very spot; and where the tree stood under which they had met, there was placed the high altar.
When the inmates were assembled, a nun from Wilton was sent for to teach them the rule, and Sir Hugh's daughter afterwards became the abbess.
The following passage explains, in Miss Lawrance's own words, what we are to expect in her second volume :
The succeeding period will present, in stronger colours, and with more picturesque effect. --like the illuminations of the selfsame period, the progress of female society in England.
Comparatively uninteresting as the history of the twelfth century may be to the general reader, it was a most important period. The peaceful and improving reign of Beauclerc, the fierce civil wars of his successor, the iron rule of the first Plantagenet, the splendours of the earlier years of his sway, and the bitter fends, of its close, --each reign, each successive event, did its part in arousing the popular mind, and awakening its yet dormant energies.
And many were the conflicting influences, yet all harmoniously worked together, which were then moving over the face of society. But a more powerful influence than all, had arisen, and even now had begun to impress a new character, not upon England alone, but upon all Europe-a silent and gentle influence, yet mighty in its gentleness, for it was the spirit of chivalry.
The subject matter of this work-as nationally important as it is personally interesting—and the perfectly satisfactory mariner in which this first portion of it is executed, seem to promise to Miss Lawrance's efforts a popularity, not inferior to that so deservedly attained by the work to which it will form so appropriate a companion - Miss Strickland's “ Lives of the Queens of England."