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MR. FOX AND ME. CANNING.
IN 1854 I made inquiry, through a common friend, the Countess of Newburgh, of the late Duke of Devonshire, whether Mr. Fox and Mr. Canning had died in the same room at Chiswick. Some persons have told me that it was so, while others declared that it was not. S.
The Duke replied as follows:—
Chiswick, MY DEAR LADY NEWBURGH, March 18, 1854.
Canning died in a room up-stairs. I had a great
foreboding when he came here, and would not allow of his being in the room below, where Fox had died.
The other room above has been very much altered, and furnished differently since.
I am not surprised at Lord Mahon wanting to know; it was a sad and curious coincidence.
Ever yours, &c.,
SHORT ESSAYS IN ARCHAEOLOGY.
BY LORD MAHON.
READ AT THE SOCIETY OF ANTIQUARIES, 1830–1836.
On the Viola of the Ancients.
I SHALL attempt in this Paper to prove that the plant called Viola by the Romans is not, according to the received opinion, our common Violet, but the flower called Iris, and well known in our English gardens. This idea first occurred to me when, in the winter of 1825-1826, I travelled on horseback over the greater' part of Sicily, and observed that amongst the numerous wild flowers which that genial climate was already bringing forth at that season, there was no Violet to be seen, but, on the other hand, a great abundance of Iris; and I have since been informed that such is likewise the case in Southern Italy. This seemed to me to render it improbable that a plant so common should have been unnoticed by the ancient pastoral poets, and that their strains should be devoted to one apparently of foreign origin, of later introduction, and of less general growth. This presumption will, I think, be confirmed by a consideration of the following passages.
In the description of the Viola by Pliny, several circumstances are quite inapplicable to the Violet, but agree exactly with the Iris. 1. He mentions Violae lutea, amongst other sorts. Now there are no Violets of this colour; but, although the common Iris is dark blue, several of its species are yellow, such as the Iris lutescens, and the Iris lurida, which grows naturally in the south of Europe. 2. Sponte, apricis et macris locis proveniunt. This is true of the Iris, which I observed in Sicily commonly growing wild on the rocky hills, exposed to the sun; but this is not true of the Violet, which is proverbial for loving the shade. 3. Statim ab radice carnoso ea.eunt. The Iris has a bulbous root, appearing out of the ground, so that the adverb statim is peculiarly true of this plant, as distinguished from the tulip, crocus, &c. The root of the Violet is fibrous. A passage in Ovid “seems to me still more decisive:
“Ut si quis violas, riguove papaver in horto,
Any one must observe how completely inapplicable this description is to the Violet, whose flower all but touches the ground, and cannot therefore, if broken, exhibit the demittant caput . . . . spectentaue cacumine terram. The Iris, on the contrary, is of nearly the same height as lilies and poppies, and having, like these, a
1 Hist. Nat. lib. xxi., c. 6. * Met. lib. x., v. 190. G
tall and naked stem, displays, when broken, the same appearance that they do, and justifies the poet in classing them together. I should add, that amongst the country people of Sicily the Iris still bears the name of Viola.
History of the Relic called the Holy Cross.
THE supposed discovery of a religious relic, and the miracles attending it, are frequent topics of narrative with Roman Catholic, and of attack with Protestant, writers. It is not now my intention to enter that debateable land. But the historic changes and vicissitudes of one of these relics, for twelve centuries after its discovery, real or feigned, may perhaps excite some interest on other than controversial grounds, more especially as its singular adventures, very distant in time, and recorded by different writers, have never yet been brought together, and formed into one connected narrative. In the reign of the Emperor Constantine the Great, his mother Helena, when almost an octogenarian, undertook a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Her pious zeal was particularly directed to the search of the Holy Sepulchre, and of the Cross on which our Lord had suffered; and, according to her own judgment at least, she was successful in both. A vision, or perhaps a dream, disclosed the place of the Holy Sepulchre (A.D. 328); the three Crosses were found buried near it, and that of the Saviour is said to have been distinguished from the others by its healing powers on the sick, and even restoring a corpse to life. This discovery caused great and general rejoicing throughout Christendom, and the spot was immediately consecrated by a church, called the New Jerusalem, and of such magnificence that Eusebius was strongly inclined to look upon its building as the fulfilment of the prophecies in the Scriptures for a city of that name.” The relic so providentially, as was believed, brought to light, was divided into two portions. The one was left at Jerusalem, set in a case of silver; the other was sent to Constantine, for the adornment of his newbuilt capital. Of the portion of the Cross which remained near the place of its discovery, we have accounts for two centuries and more. The pilgrims who thronged to Jerusalem year after year were always eager, and often successful, in obtaining a small sample of the relic for themselves; so that at length, according to the strong expression of St. Cyril, the whole earth was filled with this sacred wood. Even at the present day such small samples may be observed as very frequently recurring in the collection of relics preserved in Roman Catholic churches and shrines. To account for this extraordinary diffusion of so limited a quantity, it was