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Trial by Combat temp. Richard II. MR. URBAN, Grimsby, Nov. 8. I SEND you a drawing,* taken from an illuminated Manuscript, which was made about the latter end of Richard the Second's reign, and is now preserved in the Cotton Collection of the British Museum, Nero, D. 17. It has been delineated as the representation of a combat which was fought between a gentleman of Grimsby, and a foreigner of some distinction; of which the following are the particulars.

In the reign of Richard II. (1384), the King of Navarre was in alliance with England, and a friendly intercommunity was preserved between the inhabitants of both nations. The town of Great Grimsby, ever distinguished by sentiments of loyalty towards the Sovereign, amidst every fluctuation of its fortunes, was, at this period, agitated with consternation and terror by a formal charge of High Treason, which had been preferred against one of its principal inhabitants. John Walsh, descended from the noble family of St. Walerie, a man of honourable principles and unblemished reputation, was the individual thus charged with infamy by Martileto de Vilenos, a gentleman of Navarre. This disgraceful imputation was urged with all the inveteracy that attends a disjointed friendship; for Vilenos conceived himself dishonoured, and hoped to dismiss his suspicions, and satiate his vengeance, by subjecting his opponent to an ignominious death. Walsh had been appointed to the office of Captain or Vice-Governor of Cherburg, where the Navarrois resided; and they lived for some time in perfect harmony and friendship; but at length his brain was fired with jealousy, and he suspected the English officer of an improper familiarity with his wife. Destitute of proof, however, he was incapable of charging Walsh with the fact, and adopted other means less honourable to remove his former friend.

[Jan.

Goaded by the foul and groundless accusation, Walsh laid himself at the foot of the throne, and demanded the privilege of Trial by Combat. His suit was granted, the day named, and on a Wednesday at St. Andrew's tide," accompanied by his sponsor, he entered the lists completely armed, in the presence of the King and all his Court, at Westminster, and calling for his accuser, declared himself innocent of the crime alleged against him, and ready to prove its falsehood at the peril of his life. The challenge was accepted by his fierce accuser, who immediately appeared, caparisoned in a rich suit of armour, to answer the summons, and declared himself prepared to substantiate the charge in the utmost extremity of battle. The armour of both these champions is described, in reference to the illumination before-mentioned, as being "of silver, and the plates at their elbows and their girdles gilt. The first figure to the right is the same. The King is in light pink, with a blue robe lined with ermine. The figure next to the King is in silver armour, the body of which is purple. The back ground is red, flowered, the ground of the lists is green, and the rails are red. The figure of the King much resembles his portrait."+ Before the commencement of the battle, the usual oaths were administered to the combatants, that their cause was just, and that they did not bear about them any secret spell or charm which might interfere with the righteous decision of heaven, and interrupt the course of equal fight.‡

And now the trumpets sounded to the charge, and the battle began with great fury on both sides; but the Grimsby champion, having truth and justice on his side, pressed his antagonist so closely, that he soon gave way; and as he lay at length fainting under the conqueror's sword, he confessed that the charge was groundless, and emanated solely from feelings of jealousy. The King, indignant at his

*This illumination has been engraved in Strutt's "Regal and Ecclesiastical Antiquities," pl. lviii.; and also in Dr. Meyrick's "Critical Inquiry into Antient Armour," p. 56; and described by Dr. Meyrick, in p. 81.

+ Strutt's Regal and Eccles. Antiq. p. 115.

The Words of this Oath were as follows:-" This heare, you Justices, that I have this day neither eate, drunke, nor have upon me either bone, stone, nor glasse, or any enchantment, sorcerie, or witchcraft, where through the power of the Word of God might be inleased, or diminished, and the devil's power increased: and that my appeale is true, so helpe me God, and his saintes, and by this booke."-Antiq. Repert. vol. i. P. 118.

12

1881.]

Organic Remains at Blackdown Hills, Devon.

baseness, commanded that the vanquished Frenchman should be despoiled of his armour, and conveyed in disgrace to Tyburn, where he terminated his career by a death of infamy. The victor returned to Grimsby full of honour, amidst the universal acclamations of his townsmen, and having secured the esteem of King Richard, equally by his valour and loyalty, he was appointed High Sheriff of Lincolnshire; and the execution of various confidential trusts was committed to him in 1396. GEO. OLIVER.

MR. URBAN,

Upper Southernhay,

Exeter, Jan. 11. HAVING frequently received several interesting specimens of organic remains from the caves of Blackdown Hills, (Devon), I had long contemplated to visit them, more especially having also another object in view, of examining the curious variegated flints and siliceous substances, with which I knew the surface of those eminences was overspread; and lately, in a mineralogical excursion in that neighbourhood, I accomplished my design, and beg leave to submit to your notice a few cursory sketches and observations on the subject connected with my ramble.

The north-east side of Blackdown is situate within twenty miles of this city, and is plainly observed at no great distance on the road from Cullumpton to Wellington. I was informed that the estate where the greater number of these caves are situated, consist of three hundred acres of land, the property of a gentleman of Honiton, but that the strata containing the caves were let separately, for the purpose of excavating a sandstone of a peculiar quality for sharpening iron; these whetstones are manufactured on the spot, and considered the best of the kind in England; and a small trade is carried on of them at Cullumpton, and sent to different parts of the kingdom. On my arrival at a short distance from Blackdown, I ascended to the summit of the hill, the prospect from which is very extensive, grand, and imposing; towards the S.W. about sixteen miles distant, part of the English channel is seen; though this delightful picturesque scenery was so animating, I was still more gratified on looking beneath my feet, to behold the chequered, mossy coating

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of the earth, strewed over with countless coloured flints of various hues, many of them magnificent, and of the brightest colours; I selected some of the choicest to deposit in my cabinet collection, as a precious addition, far surpassing any I possessed before; among them were some singularly fine, viz. one that the greater part had passed into a light transparent crystallization, bordered with a rich ruby-red; another that had turned into an orangered carnelian, but more diaphanous; one into a deep crimson jasper, and another of a light amber complexion, speckled with flowery golden spots, &c. These flints, which are so diffusely scattered over the Blackdown and Halsdown Hills, seemed to perplex Deluc how they could come there. I consider that they were an immense shower of large and small pebbles which were thrown from the coast at the deluge, and in process of time obtained their present siliceous quality; for the loose fossil shells found here near the surface are often of the same substance; as I have met with large fossil bivalve shells become black flints; also clumps of fossil univalves and bivalves from the same hills, that have passed into red jasper of a very fine

texture.

Proceeding on my route easterly, I stretched at too great a distance beyond the caves; I then turned to the left to a steep declivity, and with difficulty descended, it being almost perpendicular, and about half way down the hill alighted on a compact sandbank terrace, which extended the whole length and range of the entrances to the different caves, which were of a western aspect, and nearly similar to each other at the openings, from five to six feet in height, and four broad, but wider and higher internally, extending horizontally more or less from 200 to 300 feet, and some ancient ones, which are now closed, were 400 feet and upwards; but the length of time it required in conveying the sand-stones to the mouth of the cave, rendered it more convenient to cut new apertures, as it would be liable to imminent danger to widen the caves too near each other; for should the mass give way, the workmen must inevitably be crushed to death. The fine ruby complexion of the youths employed in excavating the earth excited my surprise, as it ex

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Geology of Blackdown Hills and Dartmoor.

ceeded the usual flush of nature; also as I stood at the mouth of the cavern, I saw a tall, slender old man, coming out of the gloomy recesses, whose visage was a light carmine, the colour probably the effect of some peculiar essence arising from the bowels of the earth. The men behaved well, rationally replied to my interrogatories, and assisted me in procuring fossils, which consisted of several clumps and groups of univalves and bivalves, small white nodules of different sizes, round as marbles; trigonia aliformis, figformed alcyonite, poppi-formed alcyonite, and lemon-shaped alcyonite; this last so exactly resembled the lemon, that some fine specimens I possess, would, at a short distance, be mistaken for them. The sand-stone containing the fossils was so damp, that with little exertion I could break it asunder with my hands to sort out the shells, and applying them to my mouth, by the taste appeared to retain their original sea-salt quality. This vast mass and beds of marine substances were thrown up from the sea in the progress of the deluge, and is a totally distinct sea-deposit from that at Halsdown, at only a comparative short distance, the fossil species and variety are manifestly different; the spacious and lofty Woodbury Common lies between them, in which are no marine fossils, and clearly evinces was never the bottom of the sea, as I have examined more than ten times over, the greatest depths that have been penetrated in this common, and could never discover a relict of them. The Blackdown sand-stone deposit is very abrupt, and appears of greater length than breadth, and was lifted up from the ocean from a north-eastern direction.

[Jan

deposits of earth brought on a regular
surface, but not of a sufficient thick-
ness to cover all the fragments and
detached pieces of rocks, so that the
uppermost that remained are left in
view at this present day; and some
bulky pieces have been replaced by the
ancient inhabitants into tors, ill-
shaped, rude temples, pagan idols, and
one of the most conspicuous is Bow-
man's Nose Tor. Deluc seemed quite
puzzled respecting these rocks, and
declared he could assign no other
cause than that they were "catastro-
phes of the strata," whereas it is plain
they were never stratified. Deluc
passed rapidly by them, with little
time for investigation; though he was
assisted by the clergy, having a letter
of recommendation from the Bishop
of Exeter to all the rectors, vicars,
and curates of his diocese, who re-
ceived him courteously, and escorted
him from place to place, and he ex-
pressed much delight that they all ac-
quiesced in his opinions; he taught
them geology in half an hour, and
left them all philosophers. With re-
ference to the above, it will be seen
that I do not coincide with the modern
philosophy, that the land which now
appears was ever the bottom of the
sea; for I reckon that, were the present
watery ocean to recede and the bot-
tom be left exposed, the shell animals
would soon expire, and all be found
on or near the surface, and not hun-
dreds of feet below; and posterity
would not receive from the parts de-
serted by the sea any complete and
perfect bivalves; for all bivalves sepa-
rate their valves immediately, or a
very short time after the fish dies;
whereas being thrown up alive in-
closed in their shells, and deposited in
their native sea-sand, they are con-
fined in their natural state, and the
congealed substance hardening, the
shells are fixed and endure for ages.
Mineral conchologists well know there
are plenty of perfect bivalves, petrified
with the fish in them, of which I
possess many. The fossil gryphite,
that singular animal of the old world,
would soon have lost its operculum,
had it not been thrown up and in-
stantly deposited in earthy matter
whereas they are now met with in
plenty, with the operculum and fish
inclosed, perfect and in high preserva-
tion. Besides, the cructaceous tribe
would have been entirely annihilated;

On the Dartmoor mountainous country to the west of Blackdown, I passed several days amidst the rocks and the tors, which display a grand representation of the wreck of the Antediluvian world, exhibiting numberless rocks of all sizes scattered for many miles round, and the natural effects of causes produced by the Noachim deluge. This wild spot, composed of huge primitive granite rocks, the mighty diluvian storms powerfully assailed, shattered, and dispersed in every direction as the flood prevailed; and the returning waters passing over them, the sediments and

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1831.]

Geological Effects of the Deluge.

for even among the marine fossils we now collect, they are comparatively few to the testaceous, which are of a harder substance.

The operations of the mosaical deluge and its effects produced, were adequate to cause the formation and present appearance of all the strata and organic remains on every part of the globe, for the whole world remains as permanent now, and unaltered, as it was at that period, except the shifting of a few acres of land by earthquakes, or volcanic motions and eruptions. If the rivers run a hogshead of water into the ocean in one place, the clouds give another for it; or if the tempestuous surges remove a small portion of ground in one part, it equally accumulates in another part. The waters at the deluge, in coming on and retreating over deep valleys, would be repeatedly filled with earthy matter, shells, stones, &c.; these layers formed several distinct strata, one over the other, and in process of time internal essences and other causes would have produced different appearances between the higher strata and the lower; also the returning waters of the flood would have occasioned deposits of a various character from that which occurred at the first overflowing of the sea. The flux and reflux also of overwhelming tides would have brought large portions of marine substances, and produce various strata. As the waters increased the land gradually disappeared; at length so narrowed, that herds and flocks of beasts, savage and tame, affrighted and pursued by the rolling element, fled, as a last retreat, into the inmost recesses of solitary caverns, unconscious of their approaching and fatal destiny, with only a transient respite from the dashing waves which choaked them, leaving their bones in heaps, entombed in rocky sepulchres; which unrecorded ancient monuments of quadruped memory, remained silent and untouched from age to age, till recently explored and disturbed, they have afforded matter for curious investigation. With the mud and sand, pieces of rocks of various sizes were thrown up in masses from the sea, with the fossil shells attached to them. I have often met with, and now have by me, flat pieces of rocks with a number of fossil shells of the same family arranged on them, and to which a much higher anti

[blocks in formation]

quity is assigned by some than they are entitled to. The foundations of the earth were shaken, and in this universal earthquake, stupendous masses of earth must have fallen on and squashed forests of vast extent, and the torrents of water pouring in at the same time caused an additional humidity to the vegetable quality; and perhaps also attended by internal essences, would ultimately be converted to coal, and be covered by successive deposits of earth. The Bradley coal mine in Staffordshire, presents, I believe, upwards of twenty varieties of strata above the coal, which were certainly contemporary, and not the effect of eternal ages. The innumerable animals of all descriptions being dead, (those in the Ark excepted,) floating and tossing about with a profusion of marine creatures and substances, portions fell into cavities and fissures of the most elevated rocks and loftiest mountains; also on the plains, valleys, and deepest abysses, which are now perpetually discovered, and become objects of extravagant speculations to many who assume to ascribe preposterous and ancient periods from the strata and organic remains, which is not in the least to be depended on; for of the nature and principles of petrifaction we know little; on this subject philosophy is in the dark. Some fossils come before us that we suppose have been four thousand years in arriving to a silex quality; whilst we observe substances that have been petrified to an adamantine stone in less than twelve months. Alonso Barba records instances of waters that have produced petrifactions in a few days. I have examined fossils of the lizard species, that were perfect and not shrivelled by petrifaction; these must have been instantaneously excluded from the atmospherical air, fixed, and induration followed. I have in my possession a fossil tortoise; the outside shell has passed into an agate flint, and the internal part beautiful translucent chalcedony of a rose colour; this was found in a chalk and limestone stratum at Beer (Devon).

It is nothing surprising that we have found such quantities of organic remains, and are daily finding more, when it is considered that the occurrence of a few days destroyed such incalculable multitudes of living creatures, and enveloped them, together

22

Organic Remains.—Author of "Choheleth."

with the debris and relics of near two thousand years, in a solution of water and earth; and the waters of the flood being fifteen cubits above the highest mountains, the whole surface of the globe must more or less be impregnated with marine qualities. The organic remains, shells, and those present constitute one relative character, and before they were disturbed at the deluge composed one body; but the commotion at the flood threw up distinct beds of them, which are now distinguished by the name of organic remains ; but I consider that the larger and more splendid portion continued in their original state, as I have never observed any fossil shells that appeared to me equal in beauty, elegance, and workmanship, to many of the present ones; especially the Venus Gnidia, and Buccinum Costatum, which last Mr. Perry, in his Conchology, says, "may be regarded as one of the most laboured of nature's works, as it presents to the eye circumstances of high finishing which an artist can by no means easily imitate, or convey to the mind by any laboured description."

The variety of fossil shells increasing, ingenious men have now arranged them under a special classification. The rarity of some of our present shells may be attributed to the small number left behind at the deluge, for had only half a dozen remained, they would consequently propagate and continue augmenting; and indeed we find it exemplified at this moment; for many shells that were formerly of extreme rarity, are now more plentiful, and there are often discovered what are denominated new shells, because not known before, but though concealed so long, are as ancient as the oyster and cockle; and it is not impossible, though perhaps improbable, that some shells now supposed to be extinct may yet remain concealed at the bottom of some remote and deep sea.

It is quite appalling to those who place unshaken and implicit confidence in the authenticity, inspiration, and authority of the Old and New Testament, to notice the dangerous speculations now promulgated, which boldly insinuate that the globe we now inhabit is to endure to all eternity.

Whilst I regret the support these sentiments receive from some popular

[Jan.

critics, it is some relief to find them
called in question by the following
paragraph in a late publication, viz.:

"Mr. Lyell seems to thirst for an an-
tiquity of this earth, even greater than that
which is indicated by geological phenomena
themselves. When he maintains, after Hut-
ton, that we see in geology, as in astro-
nomy, no mark either of the commence-
ment or of the termination of the present
order, he appears to forget that the geolo-
gical series, long and mysterious as it is,
has still a beginning. Were masses pro-
stocked with their respective inhabitants?
duced from previous continents and seas,
If so, what is become of the remnants of
these continents, and why do we not see
them? And where are the remains of the
shell-fish and plants, which, according to
analogy, thus asserted, lived at that distant
period.

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Yours, &c.

S. WOOLMER.

Jan. 12.

MR. URBAN,
AN allusion in your number for
December, p. 482, to the author of
Choheleth, as a Turkey merchant,
mentioned in Wesley's journal as the
same person who was at Lisbon dur-
ing the great earthquake, induces me
to mention that my copy of "An Ac-
count of the late dreadful earthquake
and fire, which destroyed the city of
Lisbon, the metropolis of Portugal, in
a letter from a merchant resident there,
to his friend in England; London,
1755," dated at Marvilla, Nov. 20,
1755, has attached to in MS. the name
of Davy; which seems to have been in-
serted, as appears by a reference an-
nexed, in consequence of the account
in Gregory's Encyclopædia, art. Earth-
quake, extracted in part
"from a vo-
lume of letters by the Rev. Mr. Davy;
whether through Mr. Davy or his pub-
lisher any farther information in re-
gard to the identity of the writer of
the poem or the narrative, may be ob-
tained, may be doubtful. This hint
may possibly at least afford a clue to
such inquiry; it also affords an op-
portunity of remarking, that, in the
remark cited from Wesley, there is a
remarkable proof of that loose, and
therefore dangerous, incaution in de-
scription and relation which is but
too common amongst writers of the
same class; for he mentions that the
life of the party was saved by being
blocked up in the house by the fall of

*British Critic, Jan. 1831, page 202.

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