Dangerous Chimes – the historic record
I am most grateful to Professor Paragon for giving me access to papers and documents not generally available in public archives.
In particular I was delighted to be shown copies of previously unsuspected notes made by James Boswell for his journal. Doctor Johnson was understandably anxious that this particular episode should remain secret because of his concern for the credibility and reputation of himself and his dear friend, not just during their lifetimes, but from the perspective of posterity. But true to his inherent compulsion to commit to paper even the most intimate and indiscreet details of his personal experiences, Boswell could not resist recording these events, even though he had no intention of publishing such a document.
Boswell made two further visits to Castle Crab on his regular journeys between Scotland and London, and consulted the Professor on both matters of detail and aspects of the peculiar culture and environment extant in Summerdale. On his last visit he left a copy of his notes for Professor Paragon to examine for errors or suggestions.
The original manuscript of the Summerdale adventure, recorded by Boswell as ‘Notes on an unintended excursion to northern England’ was lost until his library and a vast number of papers and records, including the London Journal and drafts for his essays in the London Magazine, came to light at Malahide Castle in the 1920s. Unfortunately the document has apparently again disappeared since it is not in the almost comprehensive collection now held at Yale University.
For academic interest and the benefit of readers I had originally intended to provide as an appendix notes on the sources of Tantamount’s quotations. However the parrot, who is now extremely old and somewhat cantankerous, took exception to this. He says that he regards his encyclopaedic knowledge as being merely a useful resource for apt contributions to social discourse, and would not wish to be thought of as a mere show-off, and anyway he has better things to do with his increasingly valuable time.
He accordingly declined to identify sources, and I feel it would be unfair to suggest that this is because he has forgotten where they came from. (I rather think that he himself may be the originator of one, or possibly two quotations. Perhaps some reader of Dangerous Chimes, more erudite than myself, could enlighten me?)
The following publications have been of particular interest and relevance in compiling this account.
The Complete Herbal and English Physician Enlarged by Nicholas Culpeper – Spitalfields, 1653.
Pseudodoxia Epidemica by Sir Thomas Browne – Norwich, 1646.
Ye Pharmocoption of Nostrums – Androgynous Sphincter, hys treatyse for goodwyfes, scolers, and chirurgeons. Beynge in parte ye potions and goodley herbs yet prevailing agaynst evyle creytures and coruptyon of ye bodye – Worcester, 1427.
Contemporary reports in the Westmoreland Gazette and the Fartledale Post and Intelligencer regarding the Quinceyite Mission and the capture of Charnock the Slaver.
Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft, Sir Walter Scott to John Lockerby- Abbotsford, 1830
Concerning Apparitions, being a full and satisfactory intelligence of what lyeth beneath, by Epidermis Babington – Gladgrind and Tempest, Carlisle, 1674
Consolations of the Concordance, being a true account of the late visitation of witches in Cumberland and vindication of the walking in the way of righteousness; Turgis Camshaft – The Bonaventure Press, Penrith, 1785
Proceedings of the Royal Thaumaturgical Society, Volume 304, anno 1787, with particular reference to the discourse with birds and the advantages thereof.
An Observation of Popular Antiquities, wherein is plainly set down a full and detailed disclosure of the singular events observed during a recent progress through the northern counties, with especial consideration related to Stukeley’s Intinerium Curiosa, together with a survey of the proposed agricultural improvements in the parish of High Summerdale; Apollinaris Blatherskite – Theophrastus and Tindrell, Kendal, 1785.’
(I suspect, dear reader, that you may have some doubts about the provenance of some of these documents? I could not possibly comment since my associate Captain Mac has done the research and I would not wish to offend him – he is not over amiable when crossed.) (On second thoughts, just between us, which are the genuine documents…?). Please feel free to respond through the comments.
Next week please join me for our first ‘Macauley Abroad’ moments…
For the moment, farewell…
Author of Dangerous Chimes, read more about Michael Macauley over here.