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LEICESTER. that one Mr. John Heyrick, who died on the second of April, 1589, in the seventy-sixth year of his age, lived with his wife .fifty-two years in one house: and although they had often twenty in family, yet during the whole of that time he never · buried one single person. The epitaph also informs us that his wife, who died in 1611, aged ninety-seven, had 143 persons of her own issue, including the third generation. Such long-livers, in conjunction with their fruitfulness, remind me of the patriarch, whom the poet thus describes :
At life's meridian point arriv’d he stood,
Secondly, a Roman curiosity, which is to be seen in the cellar of a respectable tradesman in the town. It is supposed to have been the bottom of a bath, and represents in tesselated work the figure of a stag and a human being, alluding to the ancient mythology. Some imagine, that it bears a reference to the story of Acteon and his dogs, so pleasingly detailed in Ovid, whilst others contend that it exhibits some other change in fabulous history. Be this as it may, it is without doubt a complete specimen of the kind, and engages the attention of all true lovers of antiquity. At first sight it has a confused appearance, but viewed with a steady eye in a certain direction, it deve
195 lopes itself, till the figures shew their proportions in all their beauty and propriety. Tesselated pavements were common among the Romans. They were a kind of rich Mosaic work, made of curious square marbles, bricks, or tiles, called tesselæ, from their resembling dice. The materials and construction ensured durability.
Thirdly, a ruinous house, formerly the Old Blue Boar Inn, where RICHARD the THIRD lodged previous to the battle of Bosworth, in the year 1485, and whence he issued to that contest which put an end to the long and bloody contention between the houses of York and Lancaster. The infamous Richard was killed in the battle; his body, besmeared with gore, was stripped naked, thrown across a horse, carried to Leicester for interment, and his stone coffin was afterwards converted into a horse-trough, belonging to the largest inn in the town!
At this ancient house a singular affair happened, which is thus recorded by Sir John Twisden, who had the particulars from persons of veracity. A bedstead, which RICHARD had brought with him, was set up for him to lay upon, and remained there when he marched to the field of battle. After his death, no person ever came to demand this bedstead, which was large, strong, and heavy; it therefore became considered as a fixture belonging to the inn, and was transferred from landlord to landlord with the lease of the house. After many persons had occupied the inn, without any notice being taken of the bedstead, it came into the pos
LEICESTER. session of a very industrious couple, and the room in which the bedstead was fixed they appropriated to their own use. The good woman being one day very busy in cleaning this chamber, by accident struck the broom against the bedstead, and was surprised by hearing money jingle on the ground. Looking under the bed, she found broad pieces of gold, which increasing her surprise she called her husband, and acquainted him with the affair. The man was as much surprised as his wife, and both being curious to unravel this mysterious affair, and discover some more coin, if possible, they stripped the bed-clothes from off the bedstead. Then searching narrowly, they perceived a kind of door, which the stroke of the broom had forced open; on which they opened it quite, when to their joy many other pieces tumbled out! They found, that what they had taken to be solid wood was hollow within, the whole cavity being filled with broad pieces of gold. They secured their treasure, which amounted to a great sum. The pieces were fresh, and the coin of Richard the Third. They, however, imprudently made the affair public, through an avaricious design of disposing of the pieces for more than their intrinsic value. The rumour of this affair brought many of the nobility and gentry to the inn. Thus the custom was not only increased, but ten guineas were given for a single piece by those who made their opulence subservient to their curiosity. The innkeeper grew rich; but being of an avaricious temper, he would not quit his inn, nor sacrifice
197 his interest to his ease. His opulence, however, gave him importance, so that he was deemed one of the most considerable men in the town of Leicester, and was once elected mayor. At length he died, and left the immense wealth, concerning which he had been so solicitous, to his wife, whose disposition being similar to her husband's, she likewise kept on the inn, though she was near seventy years of age. At length the imagination of her immense riches proved a temptation to accomplish her destruction, and induced four wicked wretches to lay a scheme not only to rob her, but to murder her likewise, in order to prevent discovery. Among the four who had conspired to destroy her was a maid-servant, who had lived with her for many years, and her waiter, who had agreed, after the accomplishment of their villany, to retire to a distant part of the kingdom to be married, and live at ease upon their ill-gotten treasure. On the fatal night appointed, they, with their vile associates, two indigent townsmen, perpetrated the horrid deed, by cutting the old woman's throat from ear to ear! The bloody act was performed by her maid-servant, to whom she had been remarkably kind, and indeed at her death, which could not have been far off, according to the course of nature, she intended to be queath her a considerable legacy. Thus, by having a little patience, she would have been possessed, without guilt, of more than what came to her share by imbruing her hands in the blood of her mistress. They were, however, all baulked in their
LEICESTER. expectations, for the old lady had, but a little time before, put out her money to use, so that they found but a trifle in the house. They took, however, what money they could, and packing up plate, linen, wearing apparel, and valuable moveables, they put all into a cart, which they had got in waiting for the purpose, and drove away in the middle of the night, leaving all the house fast except a back door. In the morning, the people of the town were amazed that the inn was not open at the usual time. When noon arrived, the inn still continued shut, as if it was the dead of the night, and many travellers were waiting about the door for entertainment for themselves and cattle. This raised many suspicions, but at length several of the neighbours applied to the mayor of Leicester, and informed him of their conjectures. The mayor, with proper officers, repaired to the place, and finding the back door open, they entered, and discovered that the people's surmise was but too true, when they perceived the house stripped, and the hostess murdered. A hue and cry was raised, and the assassins were so hotly pursued, that they were all apprehended the same evening, and brought back to Leicester, together with the property they had stolen. They were lodged in the gaol till the assizes, when they were condemned, the three men to be hanged, and the woman to be burnt! Their sentence was executed, and they died unlamented.
The Fourth and last object is St. Mary's Abbey, of which a great part remains to the present day.