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A looking-glass for corn-hoarders
Pepys, i, 148, B.L., two woodcuts, four columns.
I have found no trace of John Russell, of St Peter's Chalfont, in histories of Buckinghamshire. It is worthy of note, however, that in 1631, when a dearth was threatening, Charles Fitz-Geffrie wrote The Curse of Corne-hoarders: With The Blessing of seasonable Selling. In three Sermons, on Pro\perbs\ 11. 26. Begun at the general Sessions for the County of Cornwall, held at Bodmyn, and continued at Fowy (British Museum, 4455. b. 13). Evidently he had not heard of Russell's calamity, for he mentions only the well-known traditional punishments inflicted upon Archbishop Walter Gray and Bishop Hatto. Ballad-writers never tired of writing fearful warnings against "ingrossers" of corn, many of whom in person sank into the ground. A very remarkable example of such a punishment occurs in "A true balett of Dening, a poore man, and a loffe of bred, which he paid for," printed as No. xlvii in H. Boeddeker's edition of the ballads from MS. Cotton Vespasian A. xxv (Jahrbuch fiir rom anise he und englische Sprache und Literatur, N.F., vols. 11 and m). Russell should have deemed himself lucky, for he escaped, and the yawning earth swallowed only one of his teams. But the punishments varied. Thus Goodman Inglebred, of Boughton, Norfolk, as one of Anthony a Wood's ballads (" A Warning-peice for Ingroosers of Corne," ca. 1643) tells us, suffered from a tornado, which the Devil sent suddenly and which "tore the Barne in pieces, and scattered all the Corne," doing such damage to his property as " the like was never heard of before." Many other engrossers hanged themselves "on the expectation of plenty," as the Porter in Macbeth remarks.