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Chronicles of Cambridge
Chronicles of Cambridge
(author ‘Chicot’ 1885)
- Now in the year of Our Lady Victoria, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-five, there was a city in the uttermost parts of the earth, the ancient name of which was unknown to the inhabitants thereof, and which was called Cambridge at the time these Chronicles were written.
- And Cambridge was a city fair to behold, and the people were very proud of their city, and still more of themselves, which latter good quality served to make them a great people – at least in their own eyes!
- Forasmuch that in those days, Trumpeters were scarce, so that every man and woman had to blow his and her own Trumpet, and they did this greatly to their own satisfaction, which was conducive to a happy frame of mind.
- And they were a mixed race who lived there: Publicans and Sinners, – Scribes and Pharisees, – Odd Fellows, – Men of an orange color, – Masons too, who being free and not slaves, called themselves “Freemasons,” and many of the Tribes lost were also to be discovered there.
- And there were also two sets of victims living in the city. The first were victims to Strong Drink: these were of ancient belief, and numbered many; and the others were victims to no drink at all: these latter were of a new persuasion and their numbers were few.
- Now there were four Publicans who lived in the city of Cambridge, and their names were: Henry [Gillett] who was of a National turn of mind; Edward, [Hewitt] a great Criterion in all matters; Charles, who was Masonic in all his dealings; and Robert, [ Kirkwood ] a loyal servant of the Duke of Cambridge.
- And Henry. Edward. Charles and Robert, each did a mighty trade in strong waters, and many of the victims of ancient belief did frequent their houses of entertainment, and make merry therein.
- Now concerning the men who being free, called themselves “Freemasons”, there was much mystery attached to them.
- They met in secret, which in their language they called “holding a Lodge”, but what they did was best known to themselves.
- They had mysterious and cabalistic signs and letters prefixed to their names. For instance: P.M. which, being interpreted, was supposed to signify Punch maker; and G.D. P.M. Grand Deputy Punch maker, and others too numerous to mention.
- It was also known that on various occasions they did, with closed doors, take delight in arraying themselves fantastically in Aprons, Sashes and Cloaks, thereby showing how, in their hearts they did acknowledge the superiority of woman to man in attire as well as in everything else.
- And amongst the elders of the people were four men of grave demeanour who did act as Priests to the people, and their names were as follows:
- William, [Willis] who did belong to the Temple of S. Andrew, was a man gentle in speech, and courteous of manner.
- Also another William, [Evans] of Welsh extraction, who sometimes dealt in Oddities, and who gave his daughter [Mary Ann] to be the lawful wife of the man Frank, [Brooks] who was a lender of gold and silver, and a dealer in pounds shillings and pence.
- Then came “Harry” [Dewsbury] who was eloquent of speech and frank of demeanour.
- The sect of people to whom he ministered had, in former years, had an elder called Henry, [Bull] surnamed Taurus, who had been greatly beloved, and who was supposed to belong to the Tribe of Hereford, for he was a man, noble and majestic in form, and his people were justly proud of him, for the Hereford tribe had at various times, and in diverse places gained many prizes and earned much distinction in the world.
- But the man Harry, who was now elder was also held in much favour, as was also his wife, Elizabeth.
- And then there was “John” [Houghton] the fourth elder, and he and his followers did greatly believe in the efficacy of water, and they had a building set apart, but belonging to their Tabernacle, which, being filled with water, grave men and fair women, having arrived at the years of discretion, would, on stated occasions, immerse themselves in the (briny) fluid, and disport themselves therein, which was no doubt healthy.
- And it came to pass in the year of our Lady Victoria, one thousand eight hundred and eighty five, there were many children born in the city of Cambridge, and they did increase and multiply so greatly that their name was legion, and this had happened for many years.
- And the mothers of Cambridge were proud of their children, and the fathers were proud of the mothers, but it was a righteous pride which filled their hearts.
- And peace reigned within the city of Cambridge, and every man, in imagination, sat under his own fig tree.
- And thus the city of Cambridge did become of great notoriety in many ways.
HERE ENDETH THE FIRST CHAPTER.
- And there were three brothers, named James, George and John, [Hally] and they were men of a ruddy hue, stalwart in form and fair to look upon. And two of them still dwelt in the city Cambridge, but the third had pitched his tent in the neighbourhood of Kirikiriroa, and sojourned there with his wife and offspring.
- And their own sister, [Jessica] who was the daughter of their own father and mother, having married Robert [ Kirkwood ] the Publican, they were according to the law of Cambridge, own brothers-in-law to the aforesaid Robert.
- And James, George and John, having formerly been much troubled in their minds how to let their fellow creatures know what their business was, and being much given to “chaff,” did have inscribed in large letters on the outside walls of their place of business, the following words, grave and touching in their significance:
Behold us here, good brothers three,
Noted brewers, millers, we!
Cambridge men bear this in view,
Our motto is:- “A perfect brew!”
- And the passers by who read the inscription said with one accord: “It is well!”
- And in the course of time it was deemed right that there should be a Governor over the city of Cambridge. And the man upon whom the choice of the people fell for this office, was a bearded man, who was also the father of a family.
- And he answered to the name of Lewis, [William Lewis Campbell Williams] sometimes called William(s).
- Not being a man of many words, the people deemed him worthy to be their Governor, and oft times on the first day of the week, at even time this bearded man did preside in the House of justice. That is to say, he exercised the great prerogative of all Governors of doing ‘just what his Ministers told him to do.’
- And the meeting they called a Parliament, which signifies in the Hebrew that the members thereof met wholly and solely because they ‘meant to parley’ – hence the English word “Parliament.”
- And wondrous words of wisdom fell from the lips of those assembled. There was “Harry the eloquent” who lustily opposed all measures.
- Then the young man “Robert” [Dyer] who, though young in years, was old in parchment, did dabble much in “brief” words of wisdom, being ‘a scribe’ as well as a ‘Dyer’.
- Also another scribe named “Maurice” [Keesing] well featured, dark, and soft-eyes, who had a ‘shy look’ about him, supposed to have been handed down to him from one ‘Shy lock’ himself!
- Also the venerable Ap-Gynth, [Gwynneth] who surveyed all things, with such pertinacity of purpose, that others said of him, – “Behold! He shall be called “Surveyor,”
- And the name clung to him!
- And after much grave deliberation, and burning of the oil called kerosene, many Acts passed, which were graciously allowed to stand by our well-beloved Lady Victoria and her Ministers, for a very good reason they knew nothing about them.
- And at this time Edward [Hewitt] the publican was much troubled in his mind at various times with matters pertaining to the temple of St Andrew, and he became as it were one of authority as well as a “Criterion.”
- And he carried much weight, bodily and well as mentally, and by his ‘staff’ did men know him.
- And his fellow worker having been called “Thomas” [Wells] by his father and mother, was called Thomas ever afterwards and he was a mighty man of speech.
- His words were like “Wells” of wisdom, and oft times when he stood on his feet and not on his head, and gave vent to his feelings, his hearers were greatly moved, and they likened him to an ever running brook. For they said:
“Men may come, and men may go
But ‘Wells’ goes on for ever!”
- And the inhabitants of the city did live peacefully in those times, and did build and rebuild, and did till the ground, and some of those who were in authority did kindly devote much time in spending the people’s money in the (un)making of roads, especially in the winter season, which did add greatly to the cleanliness of the streets and the comfort of the passers by.
- And men traveled backwards and forwards, seeking pleasure, buying and selling, and there were many ‘improvers’ especially among the weaker sex.
HERE ENDETH THE SECOND CHAPTER
- And it came to pass that at diverse times the people of this city would meet, and make merry by singing songs of sweet melody, for there were many who were given to that kind of thing.
- There was one highly favoured of the male sex, and the [John] “Moore” you hear him the more you wish to hear him.
- And it was thought he must be unhappy in his mind, for he was very restless, “seeking in every flower” for a damsel called “Alice” [nee Miller].
- His bodily pain must have been also great, for he often lifted up his voice, and the cry that came from him was exceeding bitter being a prayer to a certain Maid of Athens to “give him back his heart” which showed him to be a(n) ‘heartless’ youth!
- There had formerly been a [Susan] “Bright” specimen of the female sex who, as early as “Five o’clock in the morning” did raise her voice in song.
- There was also the youth “Willie” who was a teller of gold and silver, and his voice was of a deep sound, and he was often heard to utter with deliberate gravity the simple but ominous words, “Half Mast High”! which seemed to comfort him greatly, and did not hurt the people, which was also a comfort.
- And so all things worked together for good.
- But there was one who, though small of stature, was a great musician. She was the wife of one “Charles” [Chitty] who measured fifteen cubic feet, more or less, without his sandals.
- And she did, on certain days, when required play upon a harmonious instrument, into which a small boy blew the wind, and when he had filled it, she would draw forth strange sounds of melody, sometimes even surprising herself by the sudden bursts which issued forth under the manipulation of her fingers.
- And the men and women gathered round having as it were, girded their loins with strength, and feeling themselves, metaphorically roused to battle, did with one accord, roar lustily, so that oft times passers by did look at one another and say; “It thundereth.”
- And there was also another musician of the feminine gender who had in early years, been baptized by the name of “Ellen” [Willson], and she and the afore mentioned harmonious player had for many years been drawn together by the cords of union – tri-cords and bi-cords.
- Albeit on some occasions, Ellen, the last mentioned did find herself placed on the seat of her sister musician in the temple of St Andrew, and this was trying to her spirit.
- For inasmuch, when she lifted up her eyes and met the gaze of Lewis [Williams] the Governor, Edward [Hewitt] the publican, and of Thomas [Wells], his coadjutor, and his wife “Jessie”, and other stars of lesser magnitude her heart sank within her, and her hands lost their cunning, and in the anguish of her soul ‘she groaned inwardly’.
- And in the chief street of the city there dwelt one who was called in the vulgar tongue a tailor, and he did sit cross-legged, and did make garments for men, cutting them out of many coloured pieces of cloth, and sewing them together to make into coats, and two-legged articles called ‘breeches’.
- And this man did claim to be of ancient descent for he said he was descended from King David himself.
- And when the people laughed him to scorn, crying; “Tush, tush, what proof have we of the truth of what ye say!” he answered them thuswise saying:
- “O, ye race of unbelievers, am I not a tailor, and was not King David himself a tailor, for are we not told that King Solomon repaired the ‘breeches’ which his father David had made.
- And the people were convinced, and said; “True, O, man of snips, live for ever.”
- And the people of Cambridge did wax great in strength and riches. Men lived and died, and the place where they had been knew them no more.
- Young men and Maidens did plight their troth, and the old, old story was whispered into ears ever willing to hear it. And many who were twain, became one flesh.
- The young man “George”, [Dickenson] took unto himself “Agnes”, [Shortt] and became ‘Stationary’.
- The scribe “Robert” otherwise the Dyer, had his help-meet ready for him even to a [Elizabeth] ‘Minnitt’.
- Maurice, [Keesing] the writer, in spite of his shy look had cast one eye, which was likened unto a ‘Sheep’s eye’, on one of the tribe of Asshur, but the result was not known.
- The youth “Don”, [Stubbing] one of the stubborn brethren, did not settle easily, being of fickle disposition. And he took to ‘swarming’ but finally settled on a cunning invention called a Langstroth Hive, and when the writer of these true chronicles last heard of him, he was chanting in mournful accents, clinging manfully the while to his hive:
Oh! “true till death,” I’ll be to thee,
Improving every hour,
Gathering honey all the day
Like Bees in Chitty’s bower.
- So after many vicissitudes of fortune, the youth “Don”, became a Bumble Bee. Peace be to his wax!
HERE ENDETH THE THIRD CHAPTER
- And it came to pass amongst other things that the inhabitants of the city of Cambridge being great admirers of the Olympic games of ancient times held council together, and they passed a law that on certain days, the young men and maidens should meet and, each being provided with a round ball and a battledore cunningly made, should vie with each other in agility, and, according to certain rules, toss the ball from one to the other.
- This in Greek was called which according to Herodotus, when translated signified tennis. And this gained much favor. And both male and female valiantly tried to excel.
- And the agility of the female sex was remarkable, and the attitude of some of those who considered themselves the best players, were striking and full of grace!
- There was also one tall, and well favoured youth who did try his level best, for he was [John] Sharp in his ways, and though much filthy lucre, to wit, gold and silver, passed daily, through his hands, he was very harmless.
- And another of the male sex did deftly handle the battledore, and he did [Nicholas] Hunt the ball to serve it in the Nick of time.
- And, one whose hair which grew on his upper lip was inclined to redness, was well skilled in his play, for he came from the Mother country, the land of our gracious Lady Victoria. And this young man was a quill-driver in a lawyer’s office, of which class of men, more anon, and he was also a singer of songs, and he oft besought his love to be true to him, in the land of “Ehren on the Rhine.”
- And at other times, the youths of the city delighted to assemble and show their prowess in another of the Olympic games called “krick-it,” and in this they were proficients, at least they thought so, which was a great thing, and in the kindness of their hearts, they did all the work themselves, and seldom troubled the men called “scorers.” And they would invite the youths of other cities to come and try their skill against them, but being ever courteous to strangers, they often allowed their guests to become victors.
- If any man doubt this, let him stand forth and deny it, or else for ever hold his peace, and remain a “long-stop” to the end of his days, and be satisfied with “Duck’s eggs.”
- And the building where the followers of William [Evans] the elder, who was of Welsh extraction, assembled was called a Kirk, and they too laboured, as it were, by the sweat of their brow, to make harmony by joining together in song, but there were diverse opinions as to whether they were successful or not.
- They had likewise an instrument of music with many pipes – and it took up much space, and the sound that came from it was of a rolling majestic sound, and they called it an organ. And much variety of sound emanated from the singers – to wit, the chirping of a “Cricket” was heard mingling with the shaking of [Charles] “Reids” and stentorian notes issued from male chests which they called singing “bass!”
- And a damsel called Mary [Souter], who, being of a retiring disposition sat behind the assembled multitude played upon the Organ, and did her best to suit the wants of the people.
- And her parent on the father’s side, was called “John”. And he was affable in his manner and answered to the same of Suit-her. He had a voice of power, and being a brave and courageous man, he oft did sing in a reckless style, “I fear no foe.”
- And there was an “Earnest” [Souter] young man who called the damsel Mary sister, and she called him brother. And Earnest and Mary saluted the man John as father.
- This is the truth, and nothing but the truth. Let no man gainsay it.
- And there was another “John”, [Houghton] who was a buyer and seller in the street called Duke Street. And he was advanced in years, and was the father of a family, both sons and daughters, the eldest son being also “John”, and he had one child and that was a BABY. But a younger scion of the family was called “Fred”, and he too was a happy father. He oft times did make music in the Tabernacle of John the fourth elder.
- There was also “John”, another dealer in merchandise, in the street of Victoria . He had no sons or daughters, but he had a wife and she was bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh.
- And “John”, [Wilson] who was a Major and not a minor, who lived in a many roomed house and flowers of choice beauty flourished in his garden. “Sophia,” [nee Gray] was his wife, and his children numbered six at the time of these chronicles.
- And “John” [Steele] a man of Steele, who helped to keep the peace of the city. So it appeareth the name of “John” was well known in Cambridge .
- And now, O, young man, concerning the class of men called “Lawyers.” Lawyers, my friend, are full of subtlety, for do they not prove this by their own shewing. For according to Tacitus is not the true meaning of Q.C. prefixed to some of their names, ‘Queer Customer’?
- There was in days gone by, a man large in body as well as in mind, and he was called Weller. And he said to his son; “Samivel, beware of Widders.” But I say unto you, beware of Lawyers.
- They call themselves men, but they have long bills like unto birds of prey. No matter how brief their words are, they charge six shilling and eight pence. If peradventure, you find yourself in a mud hole, and ask a lawyer to pull you out he will listen to your complaint, and straightway charge you thirteen shilling and four pence for sympathy, and then may be when you have, through his advice, sunk deeper in the mud, he will seemingly like a good Samaritan offer to pull you out, for which you will have to pay three pounds three shillings for every pull.
- Above all never be a client, for Lawyers feast on clients. Rather like the great ‘Mantalini’ of old, be a ‘corpus’ a “demmed, damp, unpleasant corpus,” but never be a client. And take not the story of thy wrongs to a lawyer for if he smile on you and tells you he sees a case then indeed pity your case!
- Will he not straightway write thy case on paper called ‘foolscap’, as being most suitable?
- Ponder well on these words, my son, for they are words of Wisdom.
HERE ENDETH THE FOURTH CHAPTER
- About this time a young elder appeared among the people, and being graceful in his movements, he was likened unto a “Swan”, but he belonged to the rarer specimen, viz: the black and not the white Swan, for he was dark in his plumage.
- He promised well, but his stay among the people was short and he sojourned among the “Hills”. Few knew him, not even his own singers who assisted in the labours of the Temple for he was not presented unto them. He was called to other green pastures, and his name will not appear again in these chronicles.
- And it happened in former years, there had lived near the outside walls of the city, one who had once been an armed man of A.C. Force, and he belonged to the clan of “Tosh-in-mac.” [Charles MacIntosh] And he being a lover of the timbrel, the harp, the haut-boy, and the cymbal had gathered together those of the people who had ears to hear with, and breath to blow with, saying unto them;
- “Come, and I will teach you how to sound the horn, finger the whistle, inflate the trumpet and beat the drum of the kettle whilst I myself, will sound my clarion on an instrument of reeds”.
- And the people had answered him with one accord saying: “Well spoken O thou brau laddie of the clan of Tosh-in-mac, it shall be as thou hast said.”
- So he had gotten them together, and they had expended much breath in the blowing of their instruments, and the sound that came forth they called it music.
- Albeit in time, the young man of the clan of “Tosh-in-mac”, had departed to other lands, and his followers had dispersed and their instruments were silent.
- But in the days when Lewis the Governor reigned over Cambridge, a fierce desire waxed strong in the hearts of some to make the air again resound with the noise of trumpets, and after much groaning and making of strange noises, they succeeded in forming a Band, which was composed of diverse kind of men, amongst whom was one as gently as a [Joseph] “Lamb”.
- They were also assisted oft times by one “Wilfred”, a great medicine man, and who like Edward [Hewitt] the publican, was inclined to be weighty. He scraped prettily upon the Viol.
- And the Band dwelt in harmony. There was no discord among them, though some were sharper than others, and these voted their fellow blowers as ‘flat’ men, but is was all in good part and not done in a ‘bass’ manner.
- And it pleased them to think that the noise they made was music and not like unto the ‘rasping of numberless files’.
- And on certain days when the labours of the day were at an end the people did issue forth from their dwellings to hear this Band make a noise and “toot it merrily”.
- And all went well. And the people did laugh in the joy of their hearts and did say “Verily, verily we are becoming a great people and our fame is being blown to the uttermost parts of the earth.”
- And many celebrated men lived in the city of Cambridge in those days to wit: One whose fame has endured throughout all ages – the man in the [William] “Moon” dwelt in the land, and he took to wife one of a dark tribe, and his children were also dark.
- And he had built unto himself a fine house of large dimensions, and he gained possession of much land, and he kept chariots and horses, and his driving was like unto that of Jehu, the son of Nimshi, for he drove furiously.
- And one of the tribe of “Moses” did also mix among the people. He was a fair man and not of great bulk.
- And others of Israelitish descent were oft seen in the streets. They were portly men, having a tendency to “adipose deposit.”
- And there was a man of much learning who, though not a sportsman himself, spent his days in teaching the young ideas how to shoot. He grew a beard; and though he answered to the name “Stew-heart,” he was also known as “Washington” [Stewart] and it was thought he was a branch of that warlike personage (of the same name) who hailed from the land of Jonathan, who had made just a slight noise in the world, twice fifty years ago.
- And there was one who took up his abode in the city for a time, for some of his kin did likewise abide there. And he was a ruddy man, and his name was “Edwin” [Hoskins] and the name of his kinsfolk was “Kins-Hos.”
- And she whom he loved suffered from the infirmity of deafness, so that oft times he had to raise his voice mightily when he sang to her, whom he addressed as “My Queen.”
- And at time the power of his ‘corda vocalis’ was so great, it was like unto the roar of a lion when he roareth after his prey, so that men’s hearts did quake within them, and they said, “Hark! He yelleth for his queen!”
- And the name of the man who tolled the curfew, and was ‘supposed’ to keep the lamps clean was [Michael] “Devitt,” and the wife of his bosom called him “Michael.”
- And lastly, but surely not least, was one who, though he handled the “ribbons” cleverly was supposed to be of vegetable growth, for being closely associated with vinegar and cucumbers, men of learning did, with one accord pronounce him [George] “Onions”.
- Now all these things and many others are they not written in the Book of Chronicles of the History of Cambridge.
- And so time passed on and the flowers bloomed and died, and bloomed again. And the birds sang their joyous songs, high, high above all the toil and sorrow of earth, gladdening many a weary heart and filling it with hopefulness, ever singing, ever working and playing their part, each and everyone performing the work allotted to them, and then falling victims oft times to poisoned grain, man’s kind gift to them for doing that good for which they were created.
- And peradventure, these chronicles having come out of [James] “Bond”, shall be handed down to posterity and, after undergoing the rights of cremation, shall, like the writer of them, be forgotten, and become a thing of the past.
Sic transit gloria mundi.
HERE ENDETH THE CHRONICLES OF CAMBRIDGE
P.S. A glorious thing of the past – yes, but not forgotten.
Miss Ellen Willson – very clever author of the above Chronicles – was housekeeper to Dr Waddington of Cambridge. In the electoral roll for 1893 and 1896 she is listed as a Music Teacher.
At the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington there is a manuscript which says that Ellen entered a competition for a Hymn. She won the competition and was in London to collect the £5 prize. A few months later she died in London of consumption. [EDP]
Ref: Cambridge Museum Archives