Monday, November 30, 2015
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The Emphatic Diaglott By Benjamin Wilson. Samuel R. Wells, New York, article in The Sword and the Trowel, ed. by C.H. Spurgeon 1873
[This work] Deserves to hold a place in the first rank of the many valuable works that hare issued from the American religious press. The idea is excellent, and the execution leaves little to be desired. If the book does not deserve quite unqualified praise, we can nevertheless give to it our very cordial recommendation. It bears evidence of painstaking study and work, and of careful and accurate scholarship, and we learn with surprise that it is the product of but seven years' labour. The author speaks of "slow progress," but the wonder to us is that what is in many respects a truly great work should have been completed in so short a time. The principal features which distinguish this from other modern versions of the New Testament are the "Interlineary Word for Word English Translation," and the "Signs of Emphasis." Of the Interlineary Translation it would be difficult to speak too highly. It is well and carefully and faithfully executed, and is calculated to be very useful, not to those only who are unacquainted with Greek, but to all save the profoundest scholars, who are almost as familiar with the languages of the Bible as with their own mother tongue. The marking of the Signs of Emphasis is, we venture to think, somewhat overdone. No doubt there are many words and phrases in the New Testament whose full force is either not known or not observed, owing to the non-indication of the emphasis that pertains to them in the original, and hence the full import and beauty of many a passage is concealed from the general reader. In such cases the Signs of Emphasis which Mr. Wilson has employed are very useful, and very much needed. But when we come to read a chapter in his version we are absolutely bewildered by the number of emphasised words that appear in it. We do not believe that almost every fifth word that the New Testament contains was intended by the Holy Spirit to be emphatic. Of the new version as a whole we can speak only in terms of approval; it compares favourably with most others that have come under our notice. We think, however, that Mr. Wilson is mistaken in not in every instance rendering the same Greek word by the same English equivalent. Moreover, he has sometimes made use of very uncommon words where those of everyday life would have suited his purpose equally well, if not better. We wish our space had permitted us more fully to notice Mr. Wilson's excellent work, but we must content ourselves with what has already been said. We extend to the "Emphatic Diaglott" our hearty welcome, and should be glad to know that it occupied a place, not in the bookcase, but beside the desk of every divinity student and every preacher of the gospel. If a new edition should be called for, as we hope it speedily will, we would suggest that the publisher would do well to print it on better paper and in clearer type.
Review of the Emphatic Diaglott in the The National Sunday School Teacher 1876
ANOTHER help which covers all the New Testament is The Emphatic Diaglott, by Benjamin Wilson. It is intended more especially for those who are Greek scholars, though others might find it of considerable service. It contains the original approved Greek text, with the various readings of the Vatican MSS. No. 1,209, an interlineary, word for word, translation, a copious selection of references, and, on the margin, a new version which is generally excellent in its renderings, and in which the emphatic words of the original appear in “small caps.” Beside these it has occasional illustrative and exegetical foot-notes and a valuable alphabetical index which makes a pretty good word “text book.” Although approving, as a rule, of the improved translation of the new version we do not sympathize with the expedient of using a Greek word in the English text because it has no exact English equivalent, or because its meaning is in dispute. In John 17: 2, 3 in which occurs the word which is usually translated “eternal,” we notice that Mr. Wilson, in his word for word translation, renders that as “age-lasting,” and then brings it bodily over into his marginal version as “aionian,” so that it reads: “and this is AIONIAN life”! That smacks too much of the pedagogue and of accuracy run into the ground, or of a fear to take sides on the question of the meaning of “aionian” in such passages as that of Matt. 26:46, where, we see, the author has rendered “everlasting” in the same non-committal way. These facts give us occasion to suspect its orthodoxy, while, nevertheless, we value the good points in the book we have named above. New York: S. R. Wells & Co.
1873 Review Ad:
This valuable work is now complete. The different renderings of various passages In the New Testament are the foundations on which most of the sects of Christians nave been built up. Without claiming absolute correctness for our author's new and elaborate version, we present his work so that each reader may judge for himself whether the words there literally translated are so arranged in the common version as to express the exact meaning of the New Testament writers.
In regard to Mr. Wilson's translation there will doubtless be differences of opinion among Greek scholars, but having submitted it to several for examination, their verdict has been so generally in its favor that we have no hesitation in presenting it to the public.
We have no desire for sectarian controversy, and believe that it is consequent chiefly upon misinterpretation, or upon variations in the formal presentation of the truths of Christianity as taught in the New Testament; and it is with the earnest desire that what appears crooked shall be made straight, that we present this volume to the careful consideration of an intelligent people.
Opinions of the Clergy:
The following extracts from letters just received by the publishers from some of our most eminent divines will go far to show in what light the new "Emphatic Diaglott" is regarded by the clergy in general:
From Thomas Armitage, D.D., Pastor of the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church.— "Gentlemen: I have examined with much care and great interest the specimen sheets sent me of 'The Emphatic Diaglott.' * * * I believe that the book furnishes evidences of purposed faithfulness, more than usual scholarship, and remarkable literary industry. It can not fail to be an important help to those who wish to become better acquainted with the revealed will of God. For these reasons I wish the enterprise of publishing the work great success."
From Rev. James L. Hodge, Pastor of the First Mariner's Baptist Chunk, N. Y. —"I have examined these sheets which you design to be a specimen of the work, and have to confess myself much pleased
with the arrangement and ability of Mr. Wilson. * * * I can most cordially thank Mr. Wilson for his noble work, and you, gentlemen, for your Christian enterprise in bringing the work before the public. I believe the work will do good, and aid in the better understanding of the New Testament."
From Samuel Osgood, D.D., New York City.— "I have looked over the specimen of the new and curious edition of the New Testament which you propose publishing, and think that it will be a valuable addition to our Christian literature. It is a work of great labor and careful study, and without being sure of agreeing with the author in all his views, I can command his book to all lovers of Biblical research."
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Sunday, November 29, 2015
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Writers who have discussed the intellectual life under the Roman Empire generally agree that it was not marked by originality and creative power, and owed a perhaps unusually large debt to the past. The cosmopolitan character of the Empire, the mingling at that time of the science, theology, philosophy and superstition of different nations, religions and races, deserve equal emphasis. The lore of the magi of Persia, the occult science of Egypt, perhaps even the doctrines of the gymnosophists of India, may be regarded, together with that belief in divination which played such a role in classical religion and government and with other superstitious notions of Greeks and Italians, as contributory to the prominence of magic in the Empire.
To discuss with any attempt at completeness the influence of the past upon the belief in magic in the Empire lies, however, outside the province of this essay. Pliny has shown us something of the union of magic with science in the literature before his day. Philo of Alexandria, Apuleius and the fame of Hermes Trismegistus may give us some notion of the influence of the East. In other writers of the period of which we treat one may discern further traces of the thought and learning of the past. In general such evidence must suffice. We shall, however, presently take occasion to support our contention that Pliny gives one a fairly good idea of science before his day, by a few citations from two writers of repute, one a Greek and one a Roman, of the period before the Empire. Moreover, the great historical importance of Greek philosophy and the fact that, besides playing a prominent part in Roman culture, it exercised a powerful direct influence on Christian Europe long after the fall of Rome, seem to justify some treatment of its doctrines. Especially may we mention Plato and Aristotle, who exerted great influence not only during classical times, but also the one in the Middle Ages, the other in the period following the decline of Scholasticism.
We naturally incline to regard this earlier period of more or less distinctively Greek thought and learning as a golden age, comparatively speaking, characterized by sane thinking if not also by careful investigation of nature, and free from superstition, credulity and mysticism. The general opinion seems to be that magic entered science and learning and was accepted by men of intellectual prominence only when mental decay had set in and when Oriental influence had become a powerful force.
Yet something might be said for the opposite view that this earlier age combined magic with its science and philosophy as much, if not more, than the later time. We know that Greek philosophy had its beginnings in mythology; and if the representatives of its maturity accepted the Greek religion with its auspices drawn from sacrifices, its oracles and the like, we may with reason ask, is it probable that they would hesitate to give similar doctrines a place in their scientific and philosophical systems? Pliny, for his part, evidently regarded himself as less credulous and as less inclined to magic than the ancient Greeks, although it is true that he attributed their belief to Oriental influence. He declared that Pythagoras, Empedocles, Democritus and Plato had learned the magic art abroad and had taught it on their return. Beside the name of Hippocrates in the field of medicine he set that of Democritus in the domain of magic. Elsewhere he said that Pythagoras and Democritus, having embraced the doctrine of the magi, first expounded the properties of magic plants in the Western world. In Cicero's De Divinatione, Epicurus is alone of the Greek philosophers declared free from trust in divination, and Panaetius is said to have been the only Stoic to reject astrology.
The doctrine of Pythagoras also deserves mention, for it has played a great role in history. He is said to have held that the whole world is, and that the life of man ought to be, harmoniously ordered in accordance with mathematical principles; nay more, that such principles are living things and that numbers are the essence of the universe. The logical conclusion is that by skilful use of mere numbers man can move heaven and earth. As the poet, eulogizing Michael Scot, put it; the "mathematici" by their art affect numbers, by numbers affect the procession of the stars, and by the stars move the universe. The employment of characters constructed of numbers or of geometrical figures, the use of numerical formulae as remedies or of compounds of three portions of three kinds of drugs applied during three successive days, is raised from the plane of superstition to the level of science. It is not unreasonable to suppose that the heavenly bodies with their apparently unchanging regularity of movement are the governors of our existence. Plato, who adopted the Pythagorean doctrines at least to a considerable extent, declared that the loftiest function of the sense of sight was to survey the heavens, an occupation by which we gain philosophy. Like the Pythagoreans also, he associated the four elements with regular solids. The cube represented earth; the octohedron was water; the tetrahedron, fire; and the icosahedron, air. The remaining regular solid, the dodecahedron, was held to represent the universe as a whole.
Towards magic, as he understood it, Plato's attitude seems to have been sceptical, though perhaps not confidently so. He maintained that persons acquainted with medicine and prophets or diviners were the only ones who could know the nature of poisons which worked naturally, and of such things as incantations, magic knots and waxen images; and that since other men had no certain knowledge of such things, they ought not to fear but to despise them. He admitted, however, that there was no use in trying to convince most men of this and that legislation against sorcery was necessary. He himself occasionally mentioned charms or soothsaying in a matter-of-fact way.
Whatever Plato's opinion of vulgar magic, his view of nature was much like that of primitive man. He humanized material objects and materialized spiritual characteristics. For instance, he asserted that the gods placed the lungs about the heart "as a soft spring that, when passion was rife within, the heart, beating against a yielding body, might be cooled and suffer less, and might thus become more ready to join with passion in the service of reason." He affirmed that the liver was designed for divination, and was a sort of mirror on which the thoughts of the intellect fell and in which the images of the soul were reflected, but that its predictions ceased to be clear after death. Plato spoke of the existence of harmonious love between the elements as the source of health and plenty for vegetation, beasts and men. Their "wanton love" he made the cause of pestilence and disease. To understand both varieties of love "in relation to the revolutions of the heavenly bodies and the seasons of the year is," he tells us, "termed astronomy." This suggests that he believed in astrology—in the potent influence of the stars over all changes in earthly matter. He called the stars "divine and eternal animals, ever abiding." The "lower gods," of whom many at least are identical with the heavenly bodies, form men who, if they live well, return after death each to a happy existence in his proper star. The implication is, though Plato does not say so distinctly, that the stars influence human life.
Aristotle's doctrine was similar. Windelband has well expressed his view:
The stars themselves were . . . for Aristotle beings of superhuman intelligence, incorporate deities. They appeared to him as the purer forms, those more like the deity, and from them a purposive rational influence upon the lower life of the earth seemed to proceed—a thought which became the root of mediaeval astrology.
Moreover, "his theory of the subordinate gods of the spheres of the planets . . . provided for a later demonology." And a belief in demons fosters a belief in magic. For such subordinate gods—on the one hand movers of nature's forces, and on the other hand subject to passions like man and open to influence through symbols and conjurations—are evidently most suitable agents for the worker of magic to employ. We must also mention Aristotle's attribution of "souls" to plants and animals, a theory which would readily lend itself to an assumption of magic properties in herbs and beasts.
Aristotle himself in his works upon natural science accepts such properties to a considerable extent. A few citations from his History of Animals will show that we have not been misled in inferring from Pliny that Greek science at its best was not untainted by magic. The History of Animals seems to attribute undue influence to the full moon and the dog-star, and to hold that honey is distilled from the air by the stars and that the wax alone is made by the bees. Aristotle repeats the story that the salamander is a fire-extinguisher. He mentions as a cure for the sting of a certain snake the drinking of a small stone "taken from the tomb of one of the ancient kings." Like Pliny, he makes human saliva a defense against serpents. He says of certain things that they are ominous of certain events.
He affirms that the hen-partridge is affected by the mere breath of the cock or by a breeze from his direction. He thinks that insects are spontaneously generated from mud, dung, wood, or flesh. He says it is plain that the Narce causes stupefaction in both fish and men. He has not only an idea that those with lice in their hair are less subject to headaches, but also a notion that those who have lice and take baths become more liable to the pest when they change the water in which they wash themselves. Another amusing illusion which he records is that calves will suffer less in their feet if their horns are waxed. Thus the pages of Aristotle give ground for belief that the fantasticalness of mediaeval science was due to "the clear light of Hellas" as well as to the gloom of the "Dark Ages."
The book by a Roman which we are to consider as illustrative of the condition of science before the age of the Empire is Cato's treatise on agriculture. Several passages emphasize the importance of such conditions as that the moon should be new or waning or not shining during the performance of such acts as the transplanting of trees or the manuring of meadows. It is also directed that in administering medicine to oxen the man giving the dose shall have fasted previously and that both he and the ox stand upright during the operation. One medicine prescribed for cattle is a mixture of 3 grains of salt, 3 leaves of laurel, 3 fibres of leek, 3 tufts of ulpican leek, 3 sprigs of the savin, 3 leaves of rue, 3 stalks of the white vine, 3 white beans, 3 live coals, 3 sextarii of wine. Each ox is to be given a portion for three days and the whole is to be divided so that it will suffice for exactly three doses. To heal a sprain or fracture the singing of the following nonsensical incantation or formula is recommended: "In alios S. F. motas vaeta daries dardaries astataries dissunapiter." This was written by a man generally supposed to have had much common sense and who was enlightened enough to wonder how two augurs could let their eyes meet without laughing.
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The Name Maccabee And The Books Of The Maccabees by William Fairweather 1897
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Maccabaeus was originally the distinctive surname of Judas, third son of the Jewish priest Mattathias, and after his death leader of the war of independence against the Syrian kings (i Macc. ii. 66, iii. i, v. 24). Partly owing to our ignorance of the original Hebrew form, the derivation of the name is uncertain. Most modern scholars, however, connect it with maqqabah "hammer." It is probable that the surnames of the sons of Mattathias were used simply for purposes of better designation, and in this aspect that of "hammerer" seems natural enough. Symbolically interpreted, it would also yield a quite suitable meaning: as one who beat down the enemies of his nation Judas, like Charles Martel in a later age, might fitly be called the "hammerer." So Josephus ben Gorion (8th or 9th cent, A.d.) makes Mattathias address his son as "my son Judas who art called Machabaeus on account of thy bravery."
It has been held by many that "Maccabee" was formed from the initials of the opening (Hebrew) words of Ex. xv. 1 1 ("who is like Thee among the gods, Jehovah"), which were supposed to have been the watchword of the party; but the doubled KK of the Greek form remains upon this theory inexplicable. The same consideration tells against the derivation from kabah Is. xliii. 17, the "extinguisher" or "queller," i.e. of his enemies.
From a very early date the name Maccabee began to be used in a wider sense. Transferred at first to the whole family of which Judas was a member, it soon came to be freely applied to all his relatives and adherents, and even to all who were identified with the struggle against the Seleucidae. In particular it was applied to Eleazar and the seven brothers who, along with, and encouraged by, their mother, endured without flinching the most cruel martyrdom under Antiochus Epiphanes (2 Macc. vi., vii.). From this standpoint the mother of these seven sons is designated by the Church fathers "the mother of the Maccabees." The use of the term as the title of the so-called Third, Fourth, and Fifth Books of Maccabees indicates a still further latitude of application. Modern usage, on the other hand, limits the term to the sons and descendants of Mattathias.
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From the circumstance that the great-grandfather of Mattathias bore the name Chasmon (i.e. fat, rich = magnate; cf. Ps. lxviii. 31 ), Greek Asamonaios, he, his sons, and their descendants are more frequently called in Jewish literature "Asmonaeans" or "Hasmonaeans" than Maccabees. But while it is usual to speak of the Hasmonaean dynasty, and the Hasmonaean age, no attempt has been made to introduce the phrase "Hasmonaean books"; writers both ancient and modern use the title "Books of the Maccabees." These books, it should be understood, are not parts of one book, like 1 and 2 Kings, or even a connected series.
1 Maccabees is by far the most important of the Books of Maccabees. It records minutely the events of the forty years from the accession of Antiochus Epiphanes to the death of Simon (B.C. 175—135), the most heroic period of Jewish history.
2 Maccabees deals with the same history, although covering scarcely half of the ground embraced in the first book. Its starting-point takes us back a year further (B.C. 176), but it does not carry down the narrative beyond the death of Nicanor (B.C. 161). Two spurious letters from the Palestinian Jews, the first addressed to their brethren in Egypt (i. 1—9), and the second to the priest Aristobulus, King Ptolemy's teacher (i. 10— ii. 18), are followed by the writer's own-preface in which he indicates the sources and design of his work (ii. 19—32). The remainder of the book consists of an epitome of the five books of Jason of Cyrene on the struggle for freedom called forth by the tyranny of Antiochus Epiphanes. In point of reliability and general value it falls far short of the First Book of Maccabees, the authority of which is always to be preferred in case of any discrepancy between the two. Another important difference between 1 and 2 Macc is that the one was originally Hebrew and the other Greek. Although often inaccurate, highly coloured, and lavish in its use of the miraculous element, 2 Macc is still in many respects a useful supplement to the first book; but the writer's sympathy with the Pharisees, who latterly became determined opponents of the Hasmonaeans, has imparted to the narrative a strong spirit of partisanship.
3 Maccabees tells of a supernatural deliverance experienced by the Egyptian Jews from a religious persecution by Ptolemy IV Philopator (B.C. 221—204) long before the Maccabaean rising was heard of. Although having the form of a historical narrative, the book is quite fictitious, and based upon a legend of which a simpler version is given by Josephus (c. Apion. ii. 5) in connexion with Ptolemy VII Physcon. The title "Book of Maccabees" is therefore in this case a misnomer. The work, which was probably written in the first century A.D., is found in the Syriac translation, and in most MSS. of the Septuagint, but appears never to have met with recognition in the Latin Church.
4 Maccabees is a sort of sermon on "the supremacy of reason" over impulse, written from a Stoic standpoint, and addressed to the Alexandrian Jews. It is called "The Fourth Book of Maccabees" because it embodies, although merely by way of illustration, some incidents from 2 Macc. It must have been composed before the destruction of Jerusalem (probably in the first century A.D.), but its authorship is unknown. It is contained in some important MSS. of the Septuagint (including the Alexandrian and Sinaitic), and also in some MSS. of Josephus, and has been printed under both categories.
In the great Ambrosian Peschito there is a so-called "Fifth Book of Maccabees," but it is simply a Syriac translation of the sixth book of Josephus _De Bello Judaico_. The Paris and London Polyglotts contain an Arabic "Book of Maccabees" purporting to be a history of the Jews from Heliodorus (B.C. 186) down to the closing years of Herod's reign (B.C. 6—4 ?). It is merely a Hellenistic compilation, and without the value of an independent narrative.
The order in which these books are named, while it obviously corresponds to their real worth, as well as to the date of their composition, is not chronological so far as their subject-matter is concerned.
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THE NIGHTMARE OF THEOLOGY by Arthur B Moss 1890
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Theologians are continually proclaiming their belief in an infinite spirit; and in addition to this infinite spirit pervading the whole of the universe, they profess to believe in an infinite number of infinite spirits, which take possession of human bodies and act upon them in a similar manner to a musician who performs upon an instrument.
But is it not a contradiction in terms to talk of an infinite spirit, and in the same breath to speak of a number of finite spirits—separate and apart from the one infinite spirit? A God who is everywhere, is a God who is everything, and nothing can be conceived as existing apart from him. Yet this infinite spirit existing everywhere throughout all time is alleged to be the creator and governor of the universe. But if God created the universe, where was he when he did it? Either he must have been in the universe or out of it. If he was in the universe, the universe must have been already in existence—and therefore did not need to be created; on the other hand, if he was not in the universe, but was somewhere outside of it—where is that?
Nature seems boundless. Man can set no limits to it. In whatever direction he turns man finds something, and he is driven irresistibly to the conclusion that something is everywhere; that the universe is infinite, limitless. Now if the universe is everywhere, what room is there for an infinite spirit? Is it possible to have two things in the same place at the same time?
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Where, then, is the evidence of God's existence? "Oh," reply the theologians, "the evidence of God's existence is to be found in the order prevailing in the universe." What order? Is an earthquake evidence of order? Are volcanoes, famines, diseases, droughts, evidence of order?
The truth is, per se, there is neither order nor disorder in the universe. Nature goes right to her end, ruthlessly mowing down whatever happens to be in the way. A thunderbolt falls. In its descent it is just as likely to kill a priest as a publican, a bishop as a sportsman, if they happen to be in the road. A shipload of soldiers are as safe in a storm as a similar number of parsons. Nature has no respect for persons; she is perfectly impartial in all her actions; she treats the Freethinker as kindly as the Christian, and at times she treats them both with equal cruelty. Nature kills us all once, and sometimes by the most cruel and insidious methods it is possible to conceive. Nature starves millions of creatures that are born into the world; others she freezes, burns or drowns; indeed Nature's methods are so cruel that there is scarcely an animal whose existence is not dependent upon the destruction of others. If God is behind Nature, directing her, he is the cause of these horrors. What order, we may ask, can be seen in this?
The fact is, man calls that order which affects him pleasantly, and that disorder which affects him painfully. Much of what we call order is the result of man's intelligence. The gods have given us no assistance. Man has learned by a hard and painful experience how to control the forces of Nature, how to use one force to counteract the effects of another —and thus man creates the very results which the theologian points to triumphantly as evidence of harmony.
Now although the theologian talks of harmony in the universe, he is forced to recognise that there is something in the world, the very antithesis of this very evil; and as he regards his God as the embodiment of all that is good, he cannot ascribe the existence of evil to his Deity; he therefore manufactures another being, more powerful than God who is able to frustrate his purposes at every turn.
But who made the Devil? Either he is co-eternal with God, or must have been created. But as God is the only eternal and uncreated being, the Devil must have been created by God. An eccentric gentleman named McGrigor Allan has been writing to the Echo to say that the Devil is a fallen angel. Poor Devil!!! But if the Devil was ever an angel, how came he to fall? Either he must have fallen by the will of Deity or the fall was opposed to God's will. But how can the Devil or anybody else resist the will of an omnipotent being? If the Devil fell by the desire of God then God is the cause of his fall.
Again, if the Devil has fallen, why are not steps taken for his conversion? A story is related of a simple-minded Italian monk, who one day gravely announced to his congregation that by dint of mediation he had discovered a sure way of rendering all men happy. "The Devil," said he, "is the cause of all sin. He it is who tempts men only to have in hell companions of his misery. Let us therefore apply to the Pope, who has the keys of heaven and hell; let us prevail upon him to pray to God, as the head of the whole Church, to consent to a reconciliation with the Devil, to restore him to favor, to reinstate him in his former rank, which cannot fail to put an end to his malicious projects against mankind." Poor, simple-minded monk; he had evidently been bamboozled by his professional brethren, and did not know the value of the Devil to the priesthood. Evidently he was not aware that the Devil was a theological scarecrow, manufactured in an age of ignorance to frighten poor credulous Christians into supporting an incredible creed.
It is nonsense for Christians to talk of man's free will. If God is infinite in power how can man resist his desires? And if an omnipotent God cannot conquer the Devil how can man be expected to triumph over him? The fact is, theology is a nightmare. It is worse than a dream; the effect of a dream wears away with time, especially if the dreamer walks about with his eyes open in the world of fact; but the nightmare of theology clings to one—its effects are felt through generations—and only by a vigorous course of reasoning, and a firm adherence to facts can we gradually eradicate the evil effects of a subtle and poisonous theology from the brain and blood of mankind.
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WHAT IS ART? by John C Van Dyke 1910
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What constitutes art in a book, a picture, or a marble is a question that comes up with each new generation. It has been argued out and settled scores of times, but it will not stay settled. The last group of artists to arrive possibly does something novel, something that it thinks should change definitions and boundary lines. It demands a revision that shall include its own work and possibly exclude that of its predecessors. Here, for example, is a young crop of writers, just come to glory, insisting that "literature" (which is the literary equivalent of "art") lies in the novel, the poem, or the drama, and that any form of writing that teaches or preaches, or has any practical or valuable information behind it, may be history or philosophy or science, but it is not "literature." And here is a new band of painters who will have it that the picture is a "nocturne" or a "symphony"— something decorative in tone or color—and that anything illustrative or representative, or in any way informing, is outside the pale of art. Some of the band even arrive at the violent conclusion that when the brains are out, when the subject is reduced to a veiled shadow, when there is a wrestle with form and color to say something about nothing, then and then only is the real article of art produced.
This, to the critic who made elementary distinctions a few generations ago founded on nineteenth-century art, is not only startling but revolutionary. He had it written down that literature had something to do with substance, with morals and life, even with subject and the form in which it was cast. The great poems of the world were the long poems, the ones that required "sustained effort"— for example, the epics of Homer and Dante. Did not Byron make a bid for immortality with twenty-four cantos of "Don Juan" following Pulci and Ariosto? And did not most of his contemporaries burst into song, one volume or more long, recounting the adventures of Marmions and Thalabas and Lalla Rookhs? Length, the romantic subject, and the historical setting had much to do in those days with what constituted poetry. A lyric by Shelley, an ode by Keats, or a few stanzas by Burns were accepted condescendingly as pretty fragments, but not to be ranked with things done in the grand style.
Something of the same critical attitude was assumed toward the drama and the novel. A tragedy was placed above a melodrama, a melodrama above a comedy, a comedy above a farce. Anything that smacked of the classic world or that dealt with the history of gods or great conquerors was supposed to be infinitely superior to contemporary incidents. The dust of half-forgotten kings was dramatic in itself. The novelists, as well as the dramatists, scored successes by framing up antiquity into three-volume stories. The historical setting of the tale with the exalted pose of the characters made the "literature." How otherwise shall we account for the vogue of the bombastic novel of Walter Scott's times and after? Everybody read it for the story—the thing said. No one at that time cared much about how it was said.
In that same day painting, too, was supposed to consist largely in the dramatic incident or the history portrayed. Did not David in exile exhort his favorite pupil, Gros, to stop painting contemporary subjects and to search his Plutarch for a great historical theme? Did he not make Gros believe that posterity would say of him: "This man owed us a 'Death of Themistocles?'" Across the Channel were Reynolds, Hoppner, Lawrence, and their followers, worried to the end of their days trying to produce the historical picture in the "grand style" of Raphael. Romney, as an old man, removed to his large house on Hampstead Heath where, surrounded by casts from antique sculpture, he was to make a final effort at the great historical picture, is a pathetic figure. Art consisted then of a twenty-foot canvas with half a hundred figures attitudinizing for posterity, and half a page of history explanatory of their doings tacked on the frames. Raphael's "Transfiguration" and Michael Angelo's "Last Judgment"— about the worst things they ever painted— were spoken of with bated breath, and Poussin with his pantheon of make-believe gods was an acknowledged master. The classic or historic subject was the thing. As for the fine portraits of David and Ingres, they were esteemed merely as "the painting of buttons and cocked hats"—to quote David—the perfunctory drudgery done in the studio to keep the wolf from the door. No one talked then about Raphael's "Julius II" or his "Leo X." The "School of Athens" and the "Heliodorus" exemplified the grand style and drew the crowd their way.
Now behold a new point of view and the other end of the seesaw. The bothersome younger set, disturbing the conclusions of its predecessors, insists that the historical or romantic setting is great rubbish, that the grand style is theatrical and untrue, that length or breadth or size has nothing to do with the case. It still believes that literature is found only in the novel, the poem, and the drama, and it has a hazy idea that great painting requires a more elastic field for the imagination than the portrait offers; but it talks much about "character drawing" in the novel and the characteristic and the significant in the picture, as though the subject were somehow still a fetching feature. Its position is quite opposed to the classic or romantic tradition, but is it nearer the truth? It is quite sure that it is right—like all the generations before it— but is one end of the seesaw nearer a balance than the other end? There is evidently room for some difference of opinion here; and perhaps also an opportunity for making elementary distinctions on our own account.
In the first place art, strictly speaking, whether in the book, the picture, the marble, or the coin, is not the thing said but rather the manner of its saying. That which is said may be history or mythology or pathos or patriotism; it may be a plot or a passion, a sensation or a sentiment, and yet have no art about it wanting a style in its saying. Even great thoughts—the thoughts that make us think— are not art, save by the manner of their expression. Hegel and Darwin were thinkers, but their thoughts did not result in literature; and that not because science and philosophy are inimical to literary expression, but because Hegel and Darwin were not artists. Arnold wrote criticism, Hooker wrote ecclesiastical polity, Carlyle wrote history, and all of them made literature out of their themes. Why? Because they handled them in a literary manner; they themselves were literary artists, creators of literature, notwithstanding their use of other forms of expression than the novel and the poem.
Many are the poets sown by nature yet wanting the accomplishment of verse. A number of people would be disposed to place Walt Whitman with the many, or, at least, deny him high rank in literature. Would such a judgment be based upon his being a commonplace thinker? Certainly not; but because of his being a commonplace artist in language. Why is it that Poe is so emphatically written down a poet both at home and abroad? Are his poems freighted with great themes or thoughts, or are they merely artistically executed? There is the picture by Watts of "Love and Death," with its very impressive thought, allegory, moral—what you will—but it is a wretched piece of form and color, and really a failure as a work of art. In the next room to it, in the National Gallery of British Art, is the same painter's "Life's Illusions," a much earlier picture, which has no apparent thought or allegory about it, no idea that is of any importance, but it is a superb work of art, splendidly seen, planned and executed. Millet's "Angelus" and his "Man with a Hoe" have both received an undue share of public attention, one because of its pathetic story and the other because of its supposed socialistic teaching; but the "Angelus" is inferior art because it is lacking in drawing, values, light, and color, while the "Man with a Hoe" is good art because the figure is convincingly drawn and well placed in its atmospheric envelope. The "Gleaners," by the same painter, is better than either of them.
Now the absence of great thought, theme, or subject in art is no more of an advantage than its presence. Whitman and Watts and Millet were not handicapped by having a "message" or an allegory or a story to tell. Great thoughts of themselves will not make art, but they will not prevent it. Nor will little thoughts or the trifling incident or the meagre subject produce it. Mr. James has somewhere in his "Partial Portraits" suggested that a lady standing by a table, with her hand resting upon it, is a sufficient incident for literature if properly seen and artistically treated. The degree of interest, he avers, will depend upon the skill of the artist. Pieter de Hooch, Jan Vermeer, Terburg, Alfred Stevens, have shown us the lady in painting more than once and with superb results. There is not a particle of doubt about her sufficiency as an incident, ay, even a subject. But again the art does not lie in the lady, but in the skill of the painter. Many masters, both old and new, have tried to make pictures of her and failed. And many again have not confined themselves to such simple materials. The limitation is not necessary. Add another figure by the table or fireplace or lying on a couch, put in a room for a background and setting, call the two Rebecca and Ivanhoe in the castle, she at the window reporting the progress of the fight, and can any one imagine that the scene is harmed either for fiction or for painting?
Mr. Whistler would say that it was harmed, because forsooth he himself was averse to story-telling with the paint brush. But no one has ever heard Botticelli's "Spring" or Carpaccio's St. Ursula pictures or Paolo Veronese's "Venice Enthroned" criticised because their subjects handicapped them as art. In the same breath Mr. Whistler would sweep the "foolish sunset" out of art; but Turner, in his "Ulysses and Polyphemus" and also in the "Fighting Temeraire," has proved its right to a place there. Turner, no doubt, would have retorted in kind by excluding twilights on the Thames with warehouses and towers in a half light, or nocturnes with figures and buildings in muffled mystery; but Whistler has made beautiful art out of them. Each chooses what pleases him best and each perhaps produces from it something artistic. Neither the bigness nor the littleness of the theme is of deciding importance. The art shows chiefly in the manner of treatment and emanates from the man behind the brush.
This is not to argue that it makes no difference what you say as long as you say it well, and that the only thing worth looking for in novel, poem, or painting is the technique. On the contrary, it is to make the distinction that the thought or subject may be as wide as Tintoretto's "Paradise" or as narrow as Mr. Whistler's "Falling Rocket"; but the art significance of either comes only with a style of seeing or doing. Of course, every one likes at times to imagine what great effect might be produced by a combination of the exalted theme with the master technician. Could one, for instance, set Jan Vermeer to painting "Love and Death" or Mr. James to writing "Ivanhoe," what masterpieces might result! Yes; but Vermeer would probably do the Love in blue and the Death in yellow, and his precise drawing and little dabs of paint
that look so effective on the small panel would be wholly inadequate for the larger canvas; and Mr. James would probably analyze and dissect the Rebeccas and the Ivanhoes to the point of niggling the whole group. The combination of excellences—eclecticism—has never turned out the virile quality of art in either literature or painting.
The contention has been definitely settled, in painting at least, that the story, the moral, the history, with love, faith, patriotism, or romance, are not necessary to the making of the picture. Paint the figure piece, the genre, the portrait, the landscape, the still-life—what you please—and provided you see it, feel it, handle it rightly the result will be a work of art. There is no distinction attaching to size or subject. Titian's portrait of the so-called "Duke of Norfolk" is better as art than his much-praised but labored "Assumption" at Venice; whereas, on the contrary, Botticelli's portraits are not up to his large allegory of "Spring." If you would measure the art of a canvas, first discount the theme, the scale, and all that. Diaz and Fantin-Latour could reveal the finest kind of art in a bunch of roses or pinks; the Japanese show it in the trunk of a tree or a trailing branch against the sky.
If this contention will apply to books as to pictures, what becomes of the youthful obsession that literature is to be found only in the novel, the poem, and the drama? Is literature a quality of "the best sellers" or the best-thumbed books, and do the novels of Flaubert and Daudet put Taine and Michelet out of the literary running? Do Ibsen and Shaw who supply the stage with dramas produce more pure literature than did Cardinal Newman writing a sermon or a lecture or a defence of his life? And because we have the very enjoyable poetry of Swinburne or Stephen Phillips shall we have no more description from Pierre Loti or criticism from Brunetiere? What matters it the kind of material that falls to the artist's hand? If he is an artist he can fashion it into the form of art; if he is not an artist he can do as little with one material as with another.
Is the subject then so unimportant that it does not enter into the problem? Is the thing said so absolutely divorced from the manner of saying that art is wholly in the one and not at all in the other? Hardly. They may merge one into another. Any one might search his Plutarch and concoct a "Death of Themistocles" as he might imagine a "Cupid and Psyche," a "Cleopatra," a "Hope," or a "Spring." Again, every one is said to have the materials for a novel in his own life; and almost every one at some time in his career has written poetry containing sufficient subject and sentiment at least to make a lyric or a ballad. Why then are there not more results in painting and literature? Is it not because the necessary skill is wanting? Yet skill does not mean merely a cleverness of hand in drawing and handling, in piling up sentences, in cutting up language into poetic feet. The way of seeing is somewhat, and besides there is the mood of mind produced by contemplation of the subject. Either of them may transform the theme into something quite new and strange, lend it imagination, mystery, color, light, splendor.
Now unfortunately for the majority of us we have no artistic way of seeing things, no peculiar point of view whereby we may transform plain facts into finer fancy. Possibly that accounts for our not making novels out of the incidents of our lives, that our poems are not poetic, and that our "Deaths of Themistocles," our "Cleopatras," and our "Hopes" are unspeakably hopeless and commonplace. Just so with that lady standing by the table or fireplace. We have seen her a thousand times, but we never saw her as in a picture-frame or thought of her as in a novel. It takes a Vermeer or a Flaubert for that. How wonderful the transformation as seen through their eyes! To Vermeer she is a marvel of color standing in a drift of light and surrounded by a blue envelope of air—a figure perhaps as innately noble and refined as a duchess and yet as lacking in consciousness as a school-girl. To Flaubert, or even to Mr. James himself, she might be an epitome of womankind, a summary of the gayety or winsomeness of the sex, a mingling of all the passions or emotions, a something coldly intellectual, flippantly fanciful, or merely a curiosity for artistic analysis. The possibilities for either the painter or the novelist would be practically unlimited. The material is there to be moulded as the artist may see or feel or desire.
Again the mood of mind means quite as much as the artistic vision. Every one has seen the sky of evening and morning—seen it thousands of times—but how does it happen that no one ever saw it quite as Corot. Were his eyes peculiarly set in his head that he should have such a charming point of view? Not exactly. Tradition tells us that Corot never spent much time working directly from nature. Try to locate his many landscapes of "Lake Nemi" or "Ville d'Avray" and You will be disappointed. He painted them in his studio and "out of his head," as the painters say. In other words, he was painting a mood of mind. After long contemplation of morning and evening light he had come to see it in his mind's eye as a vision of loveliness—a light half real and half romantic, but highly poetic, incomparably beautiful, serenely splendid. Change from this vision of the dawn or the twilight to one of full sunlight and you have Turner's mood of mind. Change again to the dusk of evening and you have Whistler's mood of mind. In each case it was a mood, an emotion, a feeling as well as a manner of seeing and doing that found its way on canvas.
Does any one doubt that Turner's great advocate, Ruskin, wrote about pictures and sunsets and mountains in a similar frame of mind? One can hardly say that he wrote "Modern Painters" "out of his head," for it is full of actual observation, yet as a whole neither painters nor art critics can follow it. It is five volumes of passion, emotion, feeling about art and nature. Take it under your arm to the Turner room in the National Gallery and apply it to the pictures and you will be disappointed: sit down in your quiet library and read it and you will be delighted. It is not the soberest or sanest art criticism in the world. There is too much mood and frenzy in it. But because of that very condition of mind, what a piece of literature it is! It was an entirely different mood that resulted in "Vanity Fair"; but, be it remembered, it was a mood—a mental attitude toward hypocrisy, a feeling about the emptiness of social life, a disgust, perhaps, at the frailty of human nature rather than any direct noting of the actual facts. Thackeray did the book out of his head and heart like Ruskin and Turner and Corot. It would have been worthless as literature had it been done otherwise.
It seems then that an artistic way of looking at things is vitally necessary to both painting and literature, and also that a poetic mood of mind, a feeling—the fine frenzy which sets the poet's eye rolling—are also required for the noblest art. Is there nothing else? What about the skill of hand, to which we have referred in passing, the skill that expresses the mood or feeling and records the way of seeing? Is not that a very important factor in the work of art or literature? Again one flings back to the many poets sown by nature, yet wanting the accomplishment of verse. Every writer has about him a group of relatives and friends who keep informing him what wonderful things they have in their heads if only they knew how to write. And every one knows the painter who insists that he sees things truly, but his technique bothers him and he cannot express what he sees. How far one may reach with hardly an original idea in his head, yet with adequate means of expression at hand, is suggested by the case of Gray, the poet. He has passed into a classic because of his skilful handling of language. As Lowell puts it: "He has a perfect sense of sound, and one idea without which all the poetic outfit (si absit prudentia) is of little avail—that of combination and arrangement, in short, of art. It is quite the fashion still as it has always been to depreciate the importance of technique, to put it down as the mechanical part of the book or the picture, something subsidiary to the thought; but when, where, and how in the history of any art has there been great work without it? How does it happen that the world's great writers, musicians, painters, sculptors are also the world's great craftsmen? If it is to be believed that literature consists primarily in the novel—in the subject rather than its handling—what prevents those imaginative writers Mr. Haggard and Miss Corelli from occupying seats in the literary front row? And, admitting for the sake of argument the first premise, why, even as novelists, are they outranked by Mr. Hardy and Mr. Meredith? In our own country the "best sellers" are written by people who pop up one year and perhaps pop down the next year, but the best novels are conceded to be written by people like Mr. Howells. Why and how does the criticism of the day arrive at such judgments if not by an analysis of the point of view, the mood of mind, and the workmanship shown? Mr. Howells is a great technician in literature and no small part of his genius consists in his capacity for taking infinite pains. He labors over paragraphs and sentences, over scene and setting, over impression and its adequate expression as a Louis Seize goldsmith over the design of a snuffbox. The result is the work of art in both the novel and the box—the perfected expression in pattern which you cannot add to or take away from or change in any way without injuring the effect.
We are inclined likewise to talk much of the soulful playing of some great pianist or the fine feeling of some great singer; but when, again, are these unaccompanied by mastery of technique? The life-long practice, and the skill derived therefrom, are the essentials of adequate expression. A Jean de Reszke may have been born but a Jean de Reszke was also made. The musician of nature, however wonderful in gifts, comes into the world and on the stage only half made up. He can never arrive at art save by long years of technical training. So again while we may rightly admire the exalted subjects and the romantic poetry of Wagner's operas we should not overlook the immense skill of the trained musician —the writing of the scores and the handling of the many motives by the orchestra. Call Wagner a genius if you will, a poet, dramatist, musician born by nature if you must; but at least it should be conceded that he was also the great musical technician of his day.
This argument may be applied with even greater force to painting and sculpture than to literature or music. The story told of Giotto and his drawing for the Pope that perfect circle on paper as a proof of his artistic ability is possibly a little fiction of Vasari's; but in the mouth of the mouthpiece of all the Italian painters, it is eloquent of the prevalent belief as to what constituted art. There was no great thinking or subject or theme there. Technical skill was the only thing demonstrated, but that was sufficient not only for Vasari but for the Pope and his councillors. Given that, they thought everything else might follow as a natural sequence. Two hundred or more years later, in the same town of Florence, Andrea del Sarto, after doing some superb frescos for the church of the Servi, received the popular designation of "Andrea senza errori" — Andrea without faults. It was his technical skill, not his thinking or his piety, that was without fault. That skill was the result of the insistence upon craftsmanship which had ruled in the teachings of the mediaeval guilds and had been handed down from master to pupil into the period of the Renaissance. It was the first and last requirement of the artist in any department that he should be a skilled workman.
What craftsmen were sent out of that land of Italy before, and through, and even after the Renaissance! To mention such names as Donatello, Verrocchio, Mantegna, Leonardo, Raphael, Michael Angelo, Correggio, Titian, Paolo Veronese is not only listing the great technicians, but suggesting the whole history of Italian art. Every one of them was a masterhand whether a master-mind or not. It was just so at the north. The Van Eycks and Memlings, the Durers and Holbeins, the Rubenses and the Rembrandts, were skilled in form, color, and pattern to the last degree known to their time; they were every one of them "senza errori" in the Florentine sense. They would not be alive to-day were it not for their skill. For their subjects have practically faded out.
"All passes—art alone
Enduring lasts to us,
The bust outlives the throne,
The coin Tiberius."
Which is to say that the religion, the history, the throne, or Tiberius—the original cause for fashioning the coin, the marble, or the fresco —eventually passes on and passes out; but the style, the skill, the art which fashioned it endures and lives after.
So we may return to the elementary distinction from which we started out, to insist once more that the thought in books and pictures and marbles may be a thing apart, that the subject may be a matter of minor importance, and that neither of them has much artistic significance in itself but may be made significant by an artistic manner of treatment. The way in which both are seen, and the depth of emotion or feeling which they may stir in the artist, are properly a phase of the art. Quite as important as this is the technical skill in form or color with which the point of view is maintained. This latter is par excellence the artistic feature of either the book or the picture. Art is primarily a matter of doing, somewhat a matter of seeing and feeling, and perhaps not at all a matter of theme or thinking.
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Saturday, November 28, 2015
Ghosts of the Murdered by T.F. Thiselton Dyer 1898
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It is commonly supposed that the spirits of those who have suffered a violent or untimely death are baneful and malicious beings; for, as Meiners conjectures in his 'History of Religions,' they were driven unwillingly from their bodies, and have carried into their new existence an angry longing for revenge. Hence, in most countries, there is a dread of such harmful spirits; and, among the Sioux Indians the fear of the ghost's vengeance has been known to act as a check to murder. The avenging ghost often comes back to convict the guilty, and appears in all kinds of strange and uncanny ways. Thus the ghost of Hamlet's father (i. 5) says:
I am thy father's spirit,
Doomed for a certain time to walk the night,
And for the day confined to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes, done in my days of nature,
Are burnt and purged away.
Till the crime has been duly expiated, not only is the spirit supposed to be kept from its desired rest, but it flits about the haunts of the living, that, by its unearthly molestation, it may compel them to make every possible reparation for the cruel wrong done. Any attempt to lay such a ghost is ineffectual, and no exorcist's art can induce it to discontinue its unwelcome visits. Comparative folk-lore proves how universal is this belief, for one of the most popular ghost stories in folk-tales is that which treats of the murdered person whose ghost hovers about the earth with no gratification but to terrify the living.
The Chinese have a dread of the wandering spirits of persons who have come to an unfortunate end. At Canton, in 1817, the wife of an officer of Government had occasioned the death of two female domestic slaves, from some jealous suspicion it was supposed of her husband's conduct towards the girls; and, in order to screen herself from the consequences, she suspended the bodies by the neck, with a view to its being construed into an act of suicide. But the conscience of the woman tormented her to such a degree that she became insane, and at times personated the victims of her cruelty; or, as the Chinese supposed, the spirits of the murdered girls possessed her, and utilised her mouth to declare her own guilt. In her ravings she tore her clothes, and beat her own person with all the fury of madness; after which she would recover her senses for a time, when it was supposed the demons quitted her, but only to return with greater frenzy, which took place a short time previous to her death. According to Mr. Dennys,' the most common form of Chinese ghost story is that wherein the ghost seeks to bring to justice the murderer who shuffled off its mortal coil.
The following tale is told of a haunted hill in the country of the Assiniboins. Many summers ago a party of Assiniboins pounced on a small band of Crees in the neighbourhood of Wolverine Knoll. Among the victors was the former wife of one of the vanquished, who had been previously captured by her present husband. This woman directed every effort in the fight to take the life of her first husband, but he escaped, and concealed himself on this knoll. Wolverine—for this was his name—fell asleep, and was discovered by this virago, who killed him, and presented his scalp to her Assiniboin husband. Tbe knoll was afterwards called after him. The Indians assert that the ghosts of the murderess and her victim are often to be seen from a considerable distance struggling together on the very summit of the height.
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The Siamese fear as unkindly spirits the souls of such as died a violent death, or were not buried with the proper rites, and who, desiring expiation, invisibly terrify their descendants. In the same way, the Karens say that the ghosts of those who wander on the earth are the spirits of such as died by violence; and in Australia we hear of the souls of departed natives walking about because their death has not been expiated by the avenger of blood.
The Hurons of America, lest the spirits of the victims of their torture should remain around the huts of their murderers from a thirst of vengeance, strike everyplace with a staff in order to oblige them to depart. An old traveller mentions the same custom among the Iroquois: 'At night we heard a great noise, as if the houses had all fallen; but it was only the inhabitants driving away the ghosts of the murdered;' with which we may compare the belief of the Ottawas: On one occasion, when noises of the loudest and most inharmonious kind were heard in a certain village, it was ascertained that a battle had been lately fought between the Ottawas and Kickapods, and that the object of all this noise was to prevent the ghosts of the dead combatants from entering the village.
European folk-lore still clings to this old belief, and, according to the current opinion in Norway, the soul of a murdered person willingly hovers around the spot where his body is buried, and makes its appearance for the purpose of calling forth vengeance on the murderer.
The idea that, in cases of hidden murder, the buried dead cannot rest in their graves is often spoken in our old ballad folk-lore. Thus, in the ballad of the 'Jew's Daughter,' in Motherwell's collection, a youth was murdered, and his body thrown into a draw-Well, and he speaks to his mother from the well:
She ran away to the deep draw-well,
And she fell down on her knee,
Saying, 'Bonnie Sir Hugh, oh, pretty Sir Hugh,
I pray ye, speak to me!'
'Oh! the load it is wondrous heavy, mother,
The well, it is wondrous deep,
The little penknife sticks in my throat,
And I downa to ye speak.
But lift me out of this deep draw-well,
And bury me in yon churchyard;
Put a Bible at my head,' he says,
'And a Testament at my feet,
And pen and ink at every side,
And I will lay still and sleep.
And go to the back of Maitland town,
Bring me my winding sheet;
For it's at the back of Maitland town
That you and I shall meet.
The eye of superstition, we are told, sees such ghosts sometimes as white spectres in the churchyard, where they stop horses, terrify people, and make a disturbance; and occasionally as executed criminals, who, in the moonlight, wander round the place of execution, with their heads under their arms. At times they are said to pinch persons while asleep both black and blue, such spots being designated ghost-spots, or ghost-pinches. It is also supposed in some parts of Norway that certain spirits cry like children, and entice people to them, such being thought to derive their origin from murdered infants. A similar belief exists in Sweden, where the spirits of little children that have been murdered are said to wander about wailing, within an assigned time, so long as their lives would have lasted on earth, had they been allowed to live. As a terror for unnatural mothers who destroy their offspring, their sad cry is said to be 'Mama! Mama!' If travellers at night pass by them, they will hang on the vehicle, when the most spirited horses will sweat as if they were dragging too heavy a load, and at length come to a dead stop. The peasant then knows that a ghost or pysling has attached itself to his vehicle.
The nautical ghost is often a malevolent spirit, as in Shelley's' Revolt of Islam'; and Captain Marry at tells a sailor story of a murdered man's ghost appearing every night, and calling hands to witness a piratical scene of murder, formerly committed on board the ship in which he appeared. A celebrated ghost is that of the 'Shrieking Woman,' long supposed to haunt the shores of Oakum Bay, near Marblehead. She was a Spanish lady murdered by pirates in the eighteenth century, and the apparition is thus described by Whittier in his 'Legends of New England':
'Tis said that often when the moon,
Is struggling with the gloomy even,
And over moon and star is drawn
The curtain of a clouded heaven,
Strange sounds swell up the narrow glen,
As if that robber crew was there;
The hellish laugh, the shouts of men
And woman's dying prayer.
Many West Indian quays were thought to be the haunts of ghosts of murdered men; and Sir Walter Scott tells how the Buccaneers occasionally killed a Spaniard or a slave, and buried him with their spirits, under the impression that his ghost would haunt the spot, and keep away treasure hunters, he quotes another incident of a captain who killed a man in a fit of anger, and, on his threatening to haunt him, he cooked his body in the stove kettle; The crew believed that the murdered man took his place at the wheel, and on the yards. The captain, troubled by his conscience and the man's ghost, finally jumped overboard, when, as he sank, he threw up his arms and exclaimed, 'Bill is with me how!'
In most parts of the world similar tales are recorded, and are as readily believed as when they were first told centuries ago. A certain island on the Japanese coast is traditionally haunted by the ghosts of Japanese slain in a naval battle. Even to-day the Chousen peasant fancies he sees the ghostly armies baling out the sea with bottomless dippers, condemned thus to cleanse the ocean of the slain of centuries ago. According to an old Chinese legend the ghost of a captain of a man-of-war junk, who had been murdered, reappeared and directed how the ship was to be steered to avoid a nest of pirates.
In this country, many an old mansion has its haunted room, in which the unhappy spirit of the murdered person is supposed, on certain occasions, to appear. Generation after generation do such troubled spirits return to the scene of their life, and persistently wait till some one is bold enough to stay in the haunted room, and to question them as to the cause of their making such periodical visits. Accordingly, when a murder has been committed and not discovered, often, it is said, has the spirit of the murdered one continued to come back and torment the neighbourhood till a confession of the crime has been made, and justice satisfied. Mr. Walter Gregor, detailing instances in Scotland of haunted houses, tells how in one room a lady had been murdered, and her body buried in a vault below it. Her spirit could find no rest till she had told who the murderer was, and pointed out whero the body lay. In another, a baby heir had its little life stifled by the hand of an assassin hired by the next heir. The estate was obtained, but the deed followed the villain beyond the grave, and his spirit could find no peace. Night by night the ghost had to return at the hour of midnight to the room in which the murder was committed, and in agony
spend in it the hours till cock-crowing, when everything of the supernatural had to disappear.'
The ghost of Lady Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh, who always appears in white, carrying her child in her arms, has long been, as Mr. Ingram says, 'an enduring monument of the bloodthirsty spirit of the age in which she lived.' Whilst her husband was away from home, a favourite of the Regent Murray seized his house, turned his wife, on a cold night, naked, into the open fields, where, before morning, she was found raving mad; her infant perishing either by cold or murder. The ruins of the mansion of Woodhouslee, 'whence Lady Bothwell was expelled in the brutal manner which occasioned her insanity and death,' have long been tenanted with the unfortunate lady's ghost; 'and so tenacious is this spectre of its rights, that a part of the stones belonging to the ancient edifice having been employed in building or repairing the new Woodhouslee, the apparition has deemed it one of her privileges to haunt that house also.'
Samlesbury Hall, Lancashire, has its ghosts; and it is said that'on certain clear still evenings a lady in white can be seen passing along the gallery and the corridors, and then from the hall into the grounds; then she meets a handsome knight who receives her on bended knees, and he then accompanies her along the walks. On arriving at a certain spot, most probably the lover's grave, both the phantoms stand still, and, as they seem to utter lost waitings of despair, they embrace each other, and then melt away into the clear blue of the surrounding sky.' The story goes that one of the daughters of Sir John Southworth, a former owner, formed an attachment with the heir of a neighbouring house; but when Sir John said 'no daughter of his should ever be united to the son of a family which had deserted its ancestral faith,' an elopement was arranged. The day and place were overheard by the lady's brother, and, on the evening agreed upon, he rushed from his hiding-place and slew her lover. But soon afterwards her mind gave way, and she died a raving maniac.
Mrs. Murray, a lady born and brought up in the borders, writes Mr. Henderson, tells me of 'a cauld lad,' of whom she heard in her childhood during a visit to Gilsland, in Cumberland. He perished from cold, at the behest of some cruel uncle or stepdame, and ever after his ghost haunted the family, coming shivering to their bedsides before anyone was stricken by illness, his teeth audibly chattering; and if it were to be fatal, he laid his icy hand upon the part which would be the seat of the disease, saying:
Cauld, cauld, aye cauld!
An' ye see he cauld for overmair.
St. Donart's Castle, on the southern coast of Glamorganshire, has its favourite ghost, that of Lady Stradling, who is said to have been murdered by one of her family. It appears, writes the late Mr. Wirt Sikes, 'when any mishap is about to befall a member of the house of Stradling, the direct line, however, of which is extinct. She wears highheeled shoes, and a long trailing gown of the finest silk.' While she wanders, the castle hounds refuse to rest, but with their howling raise all the dogs in the neighbourhood. The Little Shelsey people long preserved a tradition that the court-house in that parish was haunted by the spirit of a Lady Lightfoot, who was said to have been imprisoned and murdered; and Cumnor Hall has acquired a romantic interest from the poetic glamour flung over it by Mickle in his ballad of Cumnor Hall, and by Sir Walter Scott in his 'Kenilworth.' Both refer to it as the scene of Amy Bobsart's murder, and although the jury agreed to accept her death as accidental, the country folk would not forego their idea that it was the result of foul play. Ever since the fatal event it was asserted that 'Madam Dudley's ghost did use to walk in Cumnor Park, and that it walked so obstinately, that it took no less than nine parsons from Oxford to lay her.' According to Mickle— ...
The village maids, with fearful glance,
Avoid the ancient moss-grown wall;
Nor ever lead the merry dance
Among the groves of Cumnor Hall.
About half a mile to the east of Maxton, a small rivulet runs across the old turnpike road, at a spot called Bow-brig-syke. Near this bridge is a triangular field, in which for nearly a century it was averred that the forms of two ladies, dressed in white, might be seen pacing up and down, walking over precisely the same spot of ground till morning light. But one day, while some workmen were repairing the road, they took up the large flagstones upon which foot-passengers crossed the burn, and found beneath them the skeletons of two women lying side by side. After this discovery the Bowbrig ladies, as they were called, were never again seen to walk in the three-corner field. The story goes that these two ladies were sisters to a former laird of Littledean, who is said to have killed them in a fit of passion, because they interfered to protect from ill-usage a young lady whom he had met at Bow-brig-syke. Some years later he met with his own death near the same fatal spot.
Mr. Sullivan, in his 'Cumberland and Westmoreland,' relates how, some years ago, a spectre appeared to a man who lived at Henhow Cottage, Martindale. Starting for his work at an early hour one morning, he had not gone two hundred yards from his house when his dog gave signs of alarm, and, on looking round, he saw a woman carrying a child in her arms. On being questioned as to what was troubling her, the ghost replied that she had been seduced, and that her seducer, to conceal his guilt and her frailty, had given her medicine, the effect of which was to kill both mother and child. Her doom was to wander for a hundred years, forty of which had expired. The occurrence is believed to have made a lasting impression on the old man, who, says Sullivan, 'was until lately a shepherd on the fells. There can be no moral doubt that he both saw and spoke with the apparition; but what share his imagination had therein, or how it had been excited, are mysteries, and so they are likely to remain.' But as Grose remarks, ghosts do not go about their business like living beings. In cases of murder, 'a ghost, instead of going to the next justice of the peace and laying its information, or to the nearest relation of the person murdered, it appears to some poor labourer who knows none of the parties, draws the curtains of some decrepit nurse or alms-woman, or hovers about the place where his body is deposited.' The same circuitous mode, he adds, 'is pursued with respect to redressing injured orphans or widows, when it seems as if the shorter and more certain would be to go to the person guilty of the injustice, and haunt him continually till ho be terrified into a restitution.'
From early days the phantoms of the murdered have occasionally appeared to the living, and made known the guilty person or persons who committed the deed. Thus Cicero relates how 'two Arcadians came to Mcgara together; ono lodged at a friend's house, the other at an inn. During the night, the latter appeared to his fellow-traveller, imploring his help, as the innkeeper was plotting his death; the sleeper sprang up in alarm, but thinking the vision of no importance, he went to sleep again. A second time his companion appeared to him, to entreat that, though hh had failed to help, he would at least avenge, for the innkeeper had killed him, and hidden his body in a dung-cart, wherefore he charged his fellow-traveller to be early next morning at the city gate before the cart passed out. The traveller went as bidden, and there found the cart; the body of the murdered man was in it, and the innkeeper was brought to justice.'
Of the many curious cases recorded of a murder being discovered through the ghost of the murdered person, may be quoted one told in Aubrey's * Miscellanies.' It appears that on Monday, April 14, 1690, William Barwick was walking with his wife close to Cawood Castle, when, from motives not divulged at the trial, ho determined to murder her, and finding a pond conveniently at hand, throw her in. But on the following Tuesday, as his brother-in-law, Thomas Lofthousc, 'about half an hour after twelve of the clock in the daytime, was watering quickwood, as he was going for the second pail, there appeared walking before him an apparition in the shape of a woman, "her visage being like his wife's sister's." Soon after, she sat down over against the pond, on a green hill. He walked by her as he went to the pond, and, on his return, he observed that she was dangling "something like a white bag" on her lap, evidently suggestive of her unborn baby that was slain with her. The circumstance made such an impression on him, that he immediately suspected Barwick, especially as ho had made false statements as to the whereabouts of his wife, and obtained a warrant for his arrest.
The culprit when arrested confessed his crime, and the body of the murdered woman being recovered, was found dressed in clothing similar, apparently, to that worn by the apparition. Ultimately Barwick was hanged for his crime.
A similar case, which occurred in the county of Durham in 1631, and is the subject of a critical historical inquiry in Surtees's 'History of Durham,' may be briefly summed up. 'One Walker, a yeoman of good estate, a widower, living at Chester-le-Street, had in his service a young female relative named Anne Walker. The results of an amour which took place between them caused Walker to send away the girl under the care of one Mark Sharp, a collier, professedly that she might be taken care of as befitted her condition, but in reality that she might no more be troublesome to her lover. Nothing was heard of her till, one night in the ensuing winter, one James Graham, coming down from the upper to the lower floor of his mill, found a woman standing there with her hair hanging about her head, in which were five bloody wounds. According to the man's evidence, she gave an account of her fate; having been killed by Sharp on the moor in their journey, and thrown into a coal pit close by, while the instrument of her death, a pick, had been hid under a bank along with his clothes, which were stained with her blood. She demanded of Graham that he should expose her murder, which he hesitated to do, until she had twice reappeared to him, the last time with a threatening aspect.
'The body, the pick, and the clothes having been found as Graham had described, Walter and Sharp were tried at Durham, before Judge Davenport, in August 1631. The men were found guilty, condemned, and executed.'
In 'Ackerman's Repository' for November 1820, there is an account of a person being tried on the pretended evidence of a ghost. A farmer, on his return from the market at Southam, co. Warwick, was murdered. The next morning a man called upon the farmer's wife, and related how on the previous night her husband's ghost had appeared to him, and, after showing him several stabs on his body, had told him that he was murdered by a certain person, and his corpse thrown into a marl-pit. A search was instituted, the body found in the pit, and the wounds on the body of the deceased were exactly in the parts described by the pretended dreamer; the person who was mentioned was committed for trial on the charge of murder, and the trial came on at Warwick before Lord Chief Justice Raymond. The jury would have convicted the prisoner as rashly as the magistrate had committed him, but for the interposition of the judge, who told them he did not put any credence in the pretended ghost story, since the prisoner was a man of unblemished reputation, and no ill-feeling had ever existed between himself and the deceased. He added that he knew of no law which admitted of the evidence of a ghost, and, if any did, the ghost had not appeared. The crier was then ordered to summon the ghost, which he did three times, and the judge then acquitted the prisoner, and caused the accuser to be detained and his house searched, when such strong proofs of guilt were discovered, that the man confessed the crime, and was executed for murder at the following assizes.
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Friday, November 27, 2015
SAMSON AND HIS EXPLOITS by Thomas William Doane 1882
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This Israelite hero is said to have been born at a time when the children of Israel were in the hands of the Philistines. His mother, who had been barren for a number of years, is entertained by an angel, who informs her that she shall conceive, and bear a son, and that the child shall be a Nazarite unto God, from the womb, and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hands of the Philistines.
According to the prediction of the angel, "the woman bore a son, and called his name Samson; and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him."
"And Samson (after he had grown to man's estate), went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. And he came up and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore get her for me to wife."
Samson's father and mother preferred that he should take a woman among the daughters of their own tribe, but Samson wished for the maid of the Philistines, "for," said he, "she pleaseth me well."
The parents, after coming to the conclusion that it was the will of the Lord, that he should marry the maid of the Philistines, consented.
"Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath, and, behold, a young lion roared against him (Samson). And the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent him (the lion) as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand."
This was Samson's first exploit, which he told not to any one, not even his father, or his mother.
He then continued on his way, and went down and talked with the woman, and she pleased him well.
And, after a time, he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion, and behold, "there was a swarm of bees, and honey, in the carcass of the lion."
Samson made a feast at his wedding, which lasted for seven days. At this feast, there were brought thirty companions to be with him, unto whom he said: "I will now put forth a riddle unto you, if ye can certainly declare it me, within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty sheets, and thirty changes of garments. But, if ye cannot declare it me, then shall ye give me thirty sheets, and thirty changes of garments." And they said unto him, "Put forth thy riddle, that we may hear it." And he answered them: "Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness."
This riddle the thirty companions could not solve.
"And it came to pass, on the seventh day, that they said unto Samson's wife: 'Entice thy husband, that he may declare unto us the riddle.'"
She accordingly went to Samson, and told him that he could not love her; if it were so, he would tell her the answer to the riddle. After she had wept and entreated of him, he finally told her, and she gave the answer to the children of her people. "And the men of the city said unto him, on the seventh day, before the sun went down, 'What is sweeter than honey, and what is stronger than a lion?'"
Samson, upon hearing this, suspected how they managed to find out the answer, whereupon he said unto them: "If ye had not ploughed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle"
Samson was then at a loss to know where to get the thirty sheets, and the thirty changes of garments; but, "the spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle."
This was the hero's second exploit.
His anger being kindled, he went up to his father's house, instead of returning to his wife.' But it came to pass, that, after a while, Samson repented of his actions, and returned to his wife's house, and wished to go in to his wife in the chamber; but her father would not suffer him to go. And her father said: "I verily thought that thou hadst utterly hated her, therefore, I gave her to thy companion. Is not her younger sister fairer than she? Take her, I pray thee, instead of her."
This did not seem to please Samson, even though the younger was fairer than the older, for he "went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned (the foxes) tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails. And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burned up both the shocks and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives."
This was Samson's third exploit.
When the Philistines found their corn, their vineyards, and their olives burned, they said: "Who hath done this?"
"And they answered, 'Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he had taken his wife, and given her to his companion.' And the Philistines came up, and burned her and her father with fire. And Samson said unto them: 'Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.' And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter, and he went and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam."
This "great slaughter" was Samson's fourth exploit.
"Then the Philistines went up, and pitched in Judah, and spread themselves in Lehi. And the men of Judah said: 'Why are ye come up against us?' And they answered: 'To bind Samson are we come up, and to do to him as he hath done to us' Then three thousand men of Judah went up to the top of the rock Etam, and said to Samson: 'Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? What is this that thou hast done unto us?' And he said unto them: 'As they did unto me, so have I done unto them.' And they said unto him: 'We are come down to bind thee, that we may deliver thee into the hands of the Philistines.' And Samson said unto them: 'Swear unto me that ye will not fall upon me yourselves.' And they spake unto him, saying, 'No; but we will bind thee fast, and deliver thee into their hands: but surely we will not kill thee.' And they bound him with two new cords, and brought him up from the rock. And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burned with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands. And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand and took it, and slew a thousand men with it."
This was Samson's fifth exploit.
After slaying a thousand men he was "sore athirst," and called unto the Lord. And "God clave a hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came water thereout, and when he had drunk, his spirit came again, and he revived."
"Then went Samson to Gaza and saw there a harlot, and went in unto her. And it was told the Gazites, saying, 'Samson is come hither.' And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying: 'In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him.' And Samson lay (with the harlot) till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of a hill that is in Hebron."
This was Samson's sixth exploit.
"And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Soreck, whose name was Delilah. And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her: 'Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him.'"
Delilah then began to entice Samson to tell her wherein his strength lay.
"She pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death. Then he told her all his heart, and said unto her: 'There hath not come a razor upon mine head, for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb. If I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.' And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she went and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying: 'Come up this once, for he hath showed me all his heart.' Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hands (for her).
"And she made him (Samson) sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him."
The Philistines then took him, put out his eyes, and put him in prison. And being gathered together at a great sacrifice in honor of their God, Dagon, they said: "Call for Samson, that he may make us sport." And they called for Samson, and he made them sport.
"And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standcth, that I may lean upon them.
"Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport.
"And Samson called unto the Lord, and said: 'O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.'
"And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said: 'Let me die with the Philistines' And he bowed himself with all his might; and (having regained his strength) the house fell upon the lords, and upon the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death, were more than they which he slew in his life."
Thus ended the career of the "strong man" of the Hebrews.
That this story is a copy of the legends related of Hercules, or that they have both been copied from similar legends existing among some other nations,' is too evident to be disputed. Many churchmen have noticed the similarity between the history of Samson and that of Hercules. In Chambers's Encylopsedia, under "Samson," we read as follows:
"It has been matter of most contradictory speculations, how far his existence is to be taken as a reality, or, in other words, what substratum of historical truth there may be in this supposed circle of popular legends, artistically rounded off, in the four chapters of Judges which treat of him. . . .
"The miraculous deeds he performed have taxed the ingenuity of many commentators, and the text has been twisted and turned in all directions, to explain, rationally, his slaying those prodigious numbers single-handed; his carrying the gates of Gaza, in one night, a distance of about fifty miles, &c. &c."
That this is simply a Solar myth, no one will doubt, we believe, who will take the trouble to investigate it.
Prof. Goldziher, who has made "Comparative Mythology" a special study, says of this story:
"The most complete and rounded-off Solar myth extant in Hebrew, is that of Shimshon (Samson), a cycle of mythical conceptions fully comparable with the Greek myth of Hercules."
We shall now endeavor to ascertain if such is the case, by comparing the exploits of Samson with those of Hercules.
The first wonderful act performed by Samson was, as we have seen, that of slaying a lion. This is said to have happened when he was but a youth. So likewise was it with Hercules. At the age of eighteen, he slew an enormous lion.
The valley of Nemea was infested by a terrible lion; Eurystheus ordered Hercules to bring him the skin of this monster. After using in vain his club and arrows against the lion, Hercules strangled the animal with his hands. He returned, carrying the dead lion on his shoulders; but Eurystheus was so frightened at the sight of it, and at this proof of the prodigious strength of the hero, that he ordered him to deliver the accounts of his exploits in the future outside the town.
To show the courage of Hercules, it is said that he entered the cave where the lion's lair was, closed the entrance behind him, and at once grappled with the monster.
Samson is said to have torn asunder the jaws of the lion, and we find him generally represented slaying the beast in that manner. So likewise was this the manner in which Hercules disposed of the Nemean lion.
The skin of the lion, Hercules tore off with his fingers, and knowing it to be impenetrable, resolved to wear it henceforth. The statues and paintings of Hercules either represent him carrying the lion's skin over his arm, or wearing it hanging down his back, the skin of its head fitting to his crown like a cap, and the fore-legs knotted under his chin.
Samson's second exploit was when he went down to Ashkelon and slew thirty men.
Hercules, when returning to Thebes from the lion-hunt, and wearing its skin hanging from his shoulders, as a sign of his success, met the heralds of the King of the Minyae, coming from Orchomenos to claim the annual tribute of a hundred cattle, levied on Thebes. Hercules cut off the ears and noses of the heralds, bound their hands, and sent them home.
Samson's third exploit was when he caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned them tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails, and let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines.
There is no such feature as this in the legends of Hercules, the nearest to it in resemblance is when he encounters and kills the Learnean Hydra. During this encounter a fire-brand figures conspicuously, and the neighboring wood is set on fire.
We have, however, an explanation of this portion of the legend, in the following from Prof. Steinthal:
At the festival of Ceres, held at Rome, in the month of April, a fox-hunt through the circus was indulged in, in which burning torches were bound to the foxes' tails
This was intended to be a symbolical reminder of the damage done to the fields by mildew, called the "redfox," which was exorcised in various ways at this momentous season (the last third of April). It is the time of the Dog-Star, at which the mildew was most to be feared; if at that time great solar heat follows too close upon the hoar-frost or dew of the cold nights, this mischief rages like a burning fox through the corn-fields.
He also says that:
"This is the sense of the story of the foxes, which Samson caught and sent into the Philistines' fields, with fire-brands fastened to their tails, to burn the crops. Like the lion, the fox is an animal that indicated the solar heat, being well suited for this both by its color and by its long-haired tail."
Bouchart, in his "Hierozoicon," observes that:
"At this period (i.e., the last third of April) they cut the corn in Palestine and Lower Egypt, and a few days after the setting of the Hyads arose the Fox, in whose train or tail comes the fires or torches of the dog-days, represented among the Egyptians by red marks painted on the backs of their animals."
Count de Volney also tells us that:
"The inhabitants of Carseoles, an ancient city of Latium, every year, in a religious festival, burned a number of foxes with torches tied to their tails. They gave, as the reason for this whimsical ceremony, that their corn had been formerly burnt by a fox to whose tail a young man had fastened a bundle of lighted straw."
He concludes his account of this peculiar "religious festival," by saying:
"This is exactly the story of Samson with the Philistines, but it is a Phenician tale. Car-Seol is a compound word in that tongue, signifying town of foxes. The Philistines, originally from Egypt, do not appear to have had any colonies. The Phoenicians had a great many; and it can scarcely be admitted that they borrowed this story from the Hebrews, as obscure as the Druses are in our own times, or that a simple adventure gave rise to a religious ceremony; it evidently can only be a mythological and allegorical narration."
So much, then, for the foxes and fire-brands.
Samson's fourth exploit was when he smote the Philistines "hip and thigh," "with great slaughter."
It is related of Hercules that he had a combat with an army of Centaurs, who were armed with pine sticks, rocks, axes, &c. They flocked in wild confusion, and surrounded the cave of Pholos, where Hercules was, when a violent fight ensued. Hercules was obliged to contend against this large armed force single-handed, but he came off victorious, and slew a great number of them. Hercules also encountered and fought against an army of giants, at the Phlegraean fields, near Cumae.
Samson's next wonderful exploit was when "three thousand men of Judah" bound him with cords and brought him up into Lehi, when the Philistines were about to take his life. The cords with which he was bound immediately became as flax, and loosened from off his hands. He then, with the jaw-bone of an ass, slew one thousand Philistines."
A very similar feature to this is found in the history of Hercules. He is made prisoner by the Egyptians, who wish to take his life, but while they are preparing to slay him, he breaks loose his bonds—having been tied with cords—and kills Buseris, the leader of the band, and the whole retinue.
On another occasion, being refused shelter from a storm at Kos, he was enraged at the inhabitants, and accordingly destroyed the whole town.
Samson, after he had slain a thousand Philistines, was "sore athirst," and called upon Jehovah, his father in heaven, to succor him, whereupon, water immediately gushed forth from "a hollow place that was in the jaw-bone."
Hercules, departing from the Indies (or rather Ethiopia), and conducting his army through the desert of Lybia, feels a burning thirst, and conjures Ihou, his father, to succor him in his danger.
Instantly the (celestial) Ram appears. Hercules follows him and arrives at a place where the Ram scrapes with his foot, and there instantly comes forth a spring of water.
Samson's sixth exploit happened when he went to Gaza to visit a harlot. The Gazites, who wished to take his life, laid wait for him all night, but Samson left the town at midnight, and took with him the gates of the city, and the two posts, on his shoulders. He carried them to the top of a hill, some fifty miles away, and left them there.
This story very much resembles that of the "Pillars of Hercules," called the "Gates of Cadiz."
Count de Volney tells us that:
"Hercules was represented naked, carrying on his shoulders two columns called the Gates of Cadiz."
"The Pillars of Hercules" was the name given by the ancients to the two rocks forming the entrance or gate to the Mediterranean at the Strait of Gibraltar. Their erection was ascribed by the Greeks to Hercules, on the occasion of his journey to the kingdom of Geryon. According to one version of the story, they had been united, but Hercules tore them asunder.
J. P. Lundy says of this:
"Hercules carrying his two columns to erect at the Straits of Gibraltar, may have some reference to the Hebrew story."
We think there is no doubt of it. By changing the name Hercules into Samson, the legend is complete.
Sir William Drummond tells us, in his "OEdipus Judaicus," that:
"Gaza signifies a Goat, and was the type of the Sun in Capricorn. The Gate of the Sun were feigned by the ancient Astronomers to be in Capricorn and Cancer (that is, in Gaza), from which signs the tropics are named. Samson carried away the gates from Gaza to Hebron, the city of conjunction. Now, Count Gebelin tells us that at Cadiz, where Hercules was anciently worshiped, there was a representation of him, with a gate on his shoulders."
The stories of the amours of Samson with Delilah and other females, are simply counterparts of those of Hercules with Omphale and Iole. Montfaucon, speaking of this, says:
"Nothing is better known in the fables (related of Hercules) than his amours with Omphale and Iole."
Prof. Steinthal says:
"The circumstance that Samson is so addicted to sexual pleasure, has its origin In the remembrance that the Solar god is the god of fruit fulness and procreation. We have as examples, the amours of Hercules and Omphale; Ninyas, in Assyria, with Semiramis; Samson, in Philistia, with Delila, whilst among the Phenicians, Melkart pursues Dido-Anna."
Samson is said to have had long hair. "There hath not come a razor upon my head," says he, "for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb."
Now, strange as it may appear, Hercules is said to have had long hair also, and he was often represented that way. In Montfaucon's "L'Antiquity Expliquee" may be seen a representation of Hercules with hair reaching almost to his waist. Almost all Sun-gods are represented thus."
Prof. Goldzhier says:
"Long locks of hair and a long beard are mythological attributes of the Sun. The Sun's rays are compared with locks of hair on the face or head of the Sun.
"When the sun sets and leaves his place to the darkness, or when the powerful Summer Sun is succeeded by the weak rays of the Winter Sun, then Samson's long locks, in which alone his strength lies, are cut off through the treachery of his deceitful concubine, Delilah, the 'languishing, languid,' according to the meaning of the name (Delilah). The Beaming Apollo, moreover, is called the Unshaven; and Minos cannot conquer the solar hero Nisos, till the latter loses his golden hair."
Through the influence of Delilah, Samson is at last made a prisoner. He tells her the secret of his strength, the seven locks of hair are shaven off, and his strength leaves him. The shearing of the locks of the Sun must be followed by darkness and ruin.
From the shoulders of Phoibos Lykegenes flow the sacred locks, over which no razor might pass, and on the head of Nisos they become a palladium, invested with a mysterious power. The long locks of hair which flow over his shoulders are taken from his head by Skylla, while he is asleep, and, like another Delilah, she thus delivers him and his people into the power of Minos."
Prof. Steinthal says of Samson:
"His hair is a figure of increase and luxuriant fullness. In Winter, when nature appears to have lost all strength, the god of growing young life has lost his hair. In the Spring the hair grows again, and nature returns to life again. Of this original conception the Bible story still preserves a trace. Samson's hair, after being cut off, grows again, and his strength comes back with it."
Towards the end of his career, Samson's eyes are put out. Even here, the Hebrew writes with a singular fidelity to the old mythical speech. The tender light of evening is blotted out by the dark vapors; the light of the Sun is quenched in gloom. Samson's eyes are put out.
OEdipus, whose history resembles that of Samson and Hercules in many respects, tears out his eyes, towards the end of his career. In other words, the Sun has blinded himself. Clouds and darkness have closed in about him, and the clear light is blotted out of the heaven.
The final act, Samson's death, reminds us clearly and decisively of the Phenician Hercules, as Sun-god, who died at the Winter Solstice in the furthest West, where his two pillars are set up to mark the end of his wanderings.
Samson also died at the two pillars, but in his case they are not the Pillars of the World, but are only set up in the middle of a great banqueting-hall. A feast was being held in honor of Dagon, the Fish-god; the Sun was in the sign of the Waterman, Samson, the Sun-god, died.
The ethnology of the name of Samson, as well as his adventures, are very closely connected with the Solar Hercules. "Samson" was the name of the Sun. In Arabic, "Shams-on" means the Sun.' Samson had seven locks of hair, the number of the planetary bodies.
The author of "The Religion of Israel," speaking of Samson, says:
"The story of Samson and his deeds originated in a Solar myth, which was afterwards transformed by the narrator into a saga about a mighty hero and deliverer of Israel. The very name 'Samson,' is derived from the Hebrew word, and means 'Sun.' The hero's flowing locks were originally the rays of the sun, and other traces of the old myth have been preserved."
Prof. Oort says:
"The story of Samson is simply a solar myth. In some of the features of the story the original meaning may be traced quite clearly, but in others the myth can no longer be recognized. The exploits of some Danite hero, such as Shamgar, who 'slew six hundred Philistines with an ox-goad' (Judges iii. 31), have been woven into it; the whole has been remodeled after the ideas of the prophets of later ages, and finally, it has been fitted into the framework of the period of the Judges, as conceived by the writer of the book called after them."
Again he says:
"The myth that lies at the foundation of this story is a description of the sun's course duriug the six winter months. The god is gradually encompassed by his enemies, mist and darkness. At first he easily maintains his freedom, and gives glorious proofs of his strength; but the fetters grow stronger and stronger, until at last he is robbed of his crown of rays, and loses all his power and glory. Such is the Sun in Winter. But he has not lost his splendor forever. Gradually his strength returns, at last he reappears; and though he still seems to allow himself to be mocked, yet the power of avenging himself has returned, and in the end he triumphs over his enemies once more."
Other nations beside the Hebrews and Greeks had their "mighty men" and lion-killers. The Hindoos had their Samson. His name was Bala-Rama, the "Strong Soma." He was considered by some an incarnation of Vishnu."
Captain Wilford says, in "Asiatic Researches:"
"The Indian Hercules, according to Cicero, was called Belut. He is the same as Bala, the brother of Crishna, and both are conjointly worshiped at Mutra; indeed, they are considered as one Avatar or Incarnation of Vishnu. Bala is represented as a stout man, with a club in hit hand. He is also called Bala-rama."
There is a Hindoo legend which relates that Sevah had an encounter with a tiger, "whose mouth expanded like a cave, and whose voice resembled thunder." He slew the monster, and, like Hercules, covered himself with the skin.
The Assyrians and Lydians, both Semitic nations, worshiped a Sun-god named Sandan or Sandon. He also was believed to be a lion-killer, and frequently figured struggling with the lion, or standing upon the slain lion.
Ninevah, too, had her mighty hero and king, who slew a lion and other monsters. Layard, in his excavations, discovered a basrelief representation of this hero triumphing over the lion and wild bull.
The Ancient Babylonians had a hero lion-slayer, Izdubar by name. The destruction of the lion, and other monsters, by Izdubar, is often depicted on the cylinders and engraved gems belonging to the early Babylonian monarchy.
Izdubar is represented as a great or mighty man, who, in the early days after the flood, destroyed wild animals, and conquered a number of petty kings. Izdubar resembles the Grecian hero, Hercules, in other respects than as a destroyer of wild animals, &c. We are told that he "wandered to the regions where gigantic composite monsters held and controlled the rising and setting sun, from these learned the road to the region of the blessed, and passing across a great waste of land, he arrived at a region where splendid trees were laden with jewels."
He also resembles Hercules, Samson, and other solar-gods, in the particular of long flowing locks of hair. In the Babylonian and Assyrian sculptures he is always represented with a marked physiognomy, and always indicated as a man with masses of curls over his head and a large curly beard.
Here, evidently, is the Babylonian legend of Hercules. He too was a wanderer, going from the furthest East to the furthest West. He crossed "a great waste of land" (the desert of Lybia), visited "the region of the blessed," where there were "splendid trees laden with jewels " (golden apples).
The ancient Egyptians had their Hercules. According to Herodotus, he was known several thousand years before the Grecian hero of that name. This the Egyptians affirmed, and that he was born in their country.
The story of Hercules was known in the Island of Thasos, by the Phoenician colony settled there, five centuries before he was known in Greece."
Another mighty hero was the Grecian Bellerophon. The minstrels sang of the beauty and the great deeds of Bellerophon throughout all the land of Argos. His arm was strong in battle; his feet were swift in the chase. None that were poor and weak and wretched feared the might of Bellerophon. To them the sight of his beautiful form brought only joy and gladness; but the proud and boastful, the slanderer and the robber, dreaded the glance of his keen eye. For a long time he fought the Solymi and the Amazons, until all his enemies shrank from the stroke of his mighty arm, and sought for mercy."
The second of the principal gods of the Ancient Scandinavians was named Thor, and was no less known than Odin among the Teutonic nations. The Edda calls him expressly the most valiant of the sons of Odin. He was considered the "defender " and "avenger" He always carried a mallet, which, as often as he discharged it, returned to his hand of itself; he grasped it with gauntlets of iron, and was further possessed of a girdle which had the virtue of renewing his strength as often as was needful. It was with these formidable arms that he overthrew to the ground the monsters and giants, when he was sent by the gods to oppose their enemies. He was represented of gigantic size, and as the stoutest and strongest of the gods. Thor was simply the Hercules of the Northern nations. He was the Sun personified.
Without enumerating them, we can safely say, that there was not a nation of antiquity, from the remotest East to the furthest West, that did not have its mighty hero, and counterpart of Hercules and Samson.
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