Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Trinity and Egyptian Belief by James Bonwick F.R.G.S. 1878


The Trinity and Egyptian Belief by James Bonwick F.R.G.S. 1878

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THOUGH it is usual to speak of the Semitic tribes as monotheistic, yet it is an undoubted fact that more or less all over the world the deities are in triads. This rule applies to eastern and western hemispheres, to north and south. Further, it is observed that, in some mystical way, the triad of three persons is one. The first is as the second or third, the second as first or third, the third as first or second; in fact, they are each other, one and the same individual being. The definition of Athanasius, who lived in Egypt, applies to the trinities of all heathen religions.

Egypt is no exception; only, strange enough, as Lenormant observes, "no two cities worshipped the same triad." The one remarkable feature in nearly all these triads is that they are father, mother, and son; that is, male and female principles of nature, with their product. Mariette Bey has several remarks upon this curious subject:—

"According to places, the attributes by which the Divine Personage is surrounded are modified; but in each temple the triad would appear as a symbol destined to affirm the eternity of being. In all triads, the principal god gives birth to himself. Considered as a Father, he remains the great god adored in temples. Considered as a Son, he becomes, by a sort of doubling, the third person of the triad. But the Father and the Son are not less the one god, while being double. The first is the eternal god; the second is but the living symbol destined to affirm the eternity of the other. The father engenders himself in the womb of the mother, and thus becomes at once his own father and his own son. Thereby are expressed the uncreatedness and the eternity of the being who has had no beginning, and who shall have no end."


The Tract Society's work on Egypt, remarking the clearly defined Trinity idea of the ancient Egyptians, and yet the silence or obscurity of the Hebrew Scriptures upon it, has the following explanation: "It does not appear probable that men, to whom the doctrine of tri-unity of God was unknown, could have framed such a system as this; their purpose appears to have been to hide that truth, so that it should not be lost, but yet to conceal it from the many."
The conceptions of this Trinity must have varied through the thousands of years of Egyptian belief, as they have among Christians themselves. At first, as far as may be seen, there was less mysticism than grew round the idea afterwards. Even "in ancient Osirianism," as Stuart-Glennie writes, "the Godhead is conceived as a Trinity; yet are the three gods declared to be only one god." In Smith's "History of the East," it is stated, "In all these triads, the Son is another impersonation of the attributes of the Father."

It must not be imagined that the mass of the people understood the mystery of the tri-unity of the Godhead, any more than the ruder class of Christian populations do now. A traveller tells the story of some Spaniard laughing at an uncouth idol found in the ruins of Central America, when a Mexican civilly but apologetically exclaimed, "It is true we have three very good Spanish gods, but we might have been allowed to keep a few of those of our ancestors."

Among the Egyptian triads, the following may be mentioned; Osiris, Isis and Horus, in one form or other, universal in the land; Amoun, mother Maut, and son Chons, of Thebes; Noum, Sate, and Anucis, or Anouke, of Ethiopia ; Month-ra, Reto, and Harphre" of Hermonthis; Seb, Netphe or Nout, and Osiris, of Lower Egypt; Osiris, Isis and Anhur of Thinnis; Ptah, Pasht and Month, of Memphis; Neph, Neboo, and Hake of Esne; Seb, Netpe and Mandooli, of Dabad; Savak, Athor, and Khonso, of Ambos; Horket, Hathor, and Horsenedto, of Edfou. Among others may be included, Ptah, Sekhet and Neferatom; Aroeris, Tsontnofre, and Pnebto; Sokaris, Nephthys and Thoth, etc. The Tract Society's book judiciously mentions that the triad of Amoun-Ra, Maut and Chons has many intermediate triads till it reaches the incarnate triad of Osiris, Isis and Horus. But that work admits the fact that three are blended into one.


Mr. Samuel Sharpe, a prominent Egyptologist, observed an admirable representation of this tri-unity, more expressive than the shamrock of St. Patrick. He thus describes the picture of this Osirian deity; "The horns upon his head are those of the goddess Athor, and the ball and feathers are the ornaments of the god Ra; thus he is at once Osiris, Athor, and Ra." With reason, then, did he add: "The doctrine of Trinity in Unity already formed part of their religion;" alluding to the high antiquity of this representation.

But there are male trinities, and female ones. The existence of the latter excited the wonder of the compiler of the Tract Society's book, and he thus records his thoughts: "A remarkable point which we notice, without presuming at all to trespass beyond the exact letter of that which is written. The female impersonation of Wisdom in the Book of Proverbs, i. 9, is a remarkable circumstance in this connection."

The Greek writers, full of the old philosophy and Platonic Trinity, perhaps saw more than the Egyptians intended, or they mystified the notion. Damascius talks of Eicton, Emeph or Cneph, and Ptha, and that, "according to the Egyptians there is one principle of all things praised under the name of the Unknown Darkness, and this thrice repeated." Jamblichus notifies "Ammon the generator, Ptha the perfector, and Osiris the producer of good." One quotes an inscription: "One Bait, one Athor, and one Akori; Hail, Father of the world! Hail, triformous God!" Proclus says, "The demiurgical number does not begin from a trinity, but from a monad." Plutarch recognizes their Trinity as a right-angled triangle; of which Osiris is the perpendicular, Isis is the base or receptacle, and Horus is the hypothenuse. But they are all imbued with the Trinity idea of Plato,—Agathos, Logos, and Psyche; the Father, the Word, and the Spirit.

Jamblichus, who quotes from the Egyptian Hermetic Books, has the following definition of the Egyptian Trinity:—

"Hermes places the god Emeph, as the prince and ruler over all the celestial gods, whom he affirmeth to be a Mind understanding himself, and converting his cogitations or intellections into himself. Before which Emeph he placeth one indivisible, whom he calleth Eicton, in which is the first intelligible, and which is worshipped only by silence. After which two, Eicton and Emeph, the demiurgic mind and president of truth, as with wisdom it proceedeth to generations, and bringeth forth the hidden powers of the occult reasons with light, is called in the Egyptian language Ammon; as it artificially affects all things with truth, Phtha; as it is productive of good, Osiris; besides other names that it hath according to its other powers and energies."

The Rev. Dr. Cudworth, whose translation is given above, adds this comment:—

"How well these three divine hypostases of the Egyptians agree with the Pythagoric or Platonic Trinity of,— first, Unity and Goodness itself, secondly, Mind, and thirdly, Soul,—I need not here declare. Only we shall call to mind what hath been already intimated, that Reason or Wisdom, which was the Demiurgus of the world, and is properly the second of the fore-mentioned hypostases, was called, also, among the Egyptians by another name, Cneph; from whom was said to have been produced or begotten the god Phtha, the third hypostasis of the Egyptian Trinity; so that Cneph and Emeph are all one. Wherefore, we have here plainly an Egyptian Trinity of divine hypostases subordinate, Eicton, Emeph or Cneph, and Phtha."

Other interpretations have been named. Phallic advocates, as Payne Knight, have contended that the male symbol of generation in divine creation was three in one, as the cross, etc., and that the female symbol was always regarded as the Triangle, the accepted symbol of the Trinity. "The number three" says he, "was employed with mystic solemnity, and in the emblematical hands above alluded to, which seem to have been borne on the top of a staff or sceptre in the Isiac processions, the thumb and two forefingers are held up to signify the three primary and general personifications." This form of priestly blessing, thumb and two fingers, is still acknowledged as a sign of the Trinity.

The popular Trinity of Egypt,—Osiris, Isis, and Horus, —must have made a profound impression, when we find Babylonian Jews endorsing it in the Talmud, and early Christian sects adopting it. Not content with generally speaking of the Holy Spirit as feminine, some, as the Melchites at the Council of Nice, put the Virgin Mary in the place of Isis, and established the Trinity, as of old, Father, Mother, and Son. It is a popular Protestant error to suppose that the thought of this exaltation of Mary was a modern one.

The Phoenicians, or old Canaanites, had one grand Trinity: "Baal Hammon, male; Tanith-Pen-Baal, female; and Iolaus or Eloim. Dunbar I. Heath goes so far as to say of the ancient time, "Every Semitic town of weight sufficient to erect its own temple appears to have had its own name for its Trinity." Another Trinity was of Baal, Ashtaroth, and Asherah. The Gnostic triad was Bythos, Ennoia and Pneuma.

The Assyrians had several triads. In the most ancient, that of the Accadian, one member is called Salman, the Saviour. The leading triad was Ana or Anu; Bil, Bel or Belus; and Hea or Hoa. There was another of Sin or Hurki; Shamas, San, or Sansi; and Iva. The great female triad consisted of Anat or Anaites; Bilit, Beltis, or Mylitta, and Daokina. Another was of The Great Lady; Gula or Anuit; and Shala or Tala.

In Babylon the prominent triad was of Anu Sin, Shamaz, and Iva. Shamas was the sun, as Sin was the moon; the Chaldeans put the moon before the sun.

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The Romance of the English Language by Logan P Smith 1921


The Romance of the English Language by Logan Pearsall Smith 1921

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There are few of us so learned that we can afford to dispense with the aid given by the small volumes in the Home University Library in any subject, and Mr Pearsall Smith's philological book is one of the most informative and interesting of the series.

Here we learn of the tendency in English to put the accent on borrowed French words on the first syllable when we decide to pronounce them in our own way: later borrowings are accented according to what we imagine the native pronunciation to be: so we get gentle, dragon, gállant, baron, button and mutton of old time against the newer words genteel, dragoon, gallânt, buffoon, cartoon, balloon. In like manner words like message and cabbage show their antiquity when compared with massage, mirage and prestige. Police has kept its English accent only in Ireland and Scotland.

Mr Pearsall Smith, like Professor Wyld, has much to say against the pedants, and shows us how letters like the b in debt, the l in fault, the p in receipt, the d in advance and advantage, the c in scent and scissors have been inserted incorrectly by English scholars who ought to have known better.

In the course of an enthusiastic defence of a mixed language as against a pure national home-bred speech he makes the valuable point that we are richer than most nations in that we can express subtle shades of difference of meaning, of emotional significance between such pairs of words as paternal and fatherly, fortune and luck, celestial and heavenly, royal and kingly by reason of this intermixture of foreign elements.


One of the most interesting chapters in the book is on "Makers of English Words," which gives us yet another avenue of approach to the study of the language.

Not only interesting, but surprising, are some of the results gleaned from this: that Sir Isaac Newton was the first to use centrifugal and centripetal; that Jeremy Bentham coined international; Huxley was responsible for Agnostic; cyclone was created in 1848 by a meteorologist, but anti-cyclone had to wait for Sir Francis Galton. Whewell invented scientist and Macaulay was responsible for constituency. Other words created in the nineteenth century are Eurasian, esogamy, folklore, hypnotism, telegraph, telephone, photograph and a host of other scientific terms. To go back to the classics: we owe the formation of many new words to Sir Thomas Browne, among them hallucination, insecurity, retrogression, precarious, antediluvian. Milton coined infinitude, liturgical, gloom, pandemonium, echoing, rumoured, moonstruck, Satanic. Shakespeare coined more than all the rest of the poets put together. To Coverdale and Tindale we owe a great number of new compounds, like loving-kindness, long-suffering, broken-hearted. It is delightful to think that we owe irascibility to Doctor Johnson, persiflage and etiquette to Lord Chesterfield, bored and blasé to Byron, colonial and diplomacy to Burke, and pessimism to Coleridge. After Keats (whose creations are miniature poems in themselves) there is a remarkable decline in word-creation.

Two valuable chapters are devoted to "Language and History," in which we find how far the evolution of our race and civilisation is embodied in our vocabulary—"A contradiction between history and language rarely or never occurs"—and a further chapter on "Language and Thought" is of extraordinary interest in showing us what words we must delete from our vocabulary if we wish to enter into the spirit and popular consciousness of the Middle Ages, that world of supernatural purposes and interventions. All sense of past and future would drop from us. Our thoughts would be absorbed entirely by immediate practical considerations. We should feel imprisoned, though we might feel more dignified. With the Renaissance we should expand enough to observe our fellows: a century later we should turn to the study of ourselves.

"The change of thought from one generation to another does not depend so much on new discoveries as on the gradual shifting, into the centre of vision, of ideas and feelings that had been but dimly realised before. And it is just this shifting—this change, so important and yet so elusive—which is marked and dated in the history of language."

There was once an American writer who said: "You commend or condemn yourself by your regular choice of words ... don't use such commonplace words as grab, bet, awful, says, worst, boss, monkeying, job, ain't, tackled, floored, bicker, rumpus, shindy, hunk, fellow, drub, henpecked, blubber, spout, pickings, croak, swipe, swap, handy, fluster, nasty, hankering, flabbergasted, highfalutin.... Are you familiar with such desirable words as lassitude, flamboyant, nascent, legendary, perennial, Nemesis, cryptic, brooding, imperturbable, disenchanted, belated, cleavage, august, clarity, demarcation, indigenous, cloistered, malevolent?"

Well, if you agree with him (and there are people who do) it's quite time you started to read some books on the English Language, and if you don't it means that you already understand the delights of philology and you will need no further encouragement to read the four books I have mentioned, if you have not already done so.

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The Origin of the Christmas Tree by Dr. Kaygorodoff 1891


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The Origin of the Christmas Tree by Dr. Kaygorodoff 1891

THE custom of the Christmas tree is a very recent institution. It is of a late date not only in Russia, but also in Germany, where it was first established and whence it spread everywhere, in the New as well as in the Old World. In France the Christmas tree was adopted only after the Franco-German war, later therefore than 1870. According to Prussian chronicles, the custom of lighting the Christmas tree as we now find it in Germany was established about a hundred years ago. It penetrated into Russia about 1830, and was very soon adopted throughout the Empire by the richer classes.

It is very difficult to trace the custom historically. Its origin belongs undeniably to the highest antiquity. Fir trees have ever been held in honour by the ancient nations of Europe. As ever-green plants, and symbols of never-dying vegetation, they were sacred to the nature-deities, such as Pan, Isis and others. According to ancient folklore the pine was born from the body of the nymph Pityst (the Greek name of that tree), the beloved of the gods Pan and Boreas. [Pitys: A nymph beloved by the god Pan and changed into a fir tree.] During the vernal festivals in honour of the great goddess of Nature, fir trees were brought into the temples decorated with fragrant violets.

The ancient Northern peoples of Europe had a like reverence for the pine and fir trees in general, and made great use of them at their various festivals. Thus, for instance, it is well known that the pagan priests of ancient Germany, when celebrating the first stage of the sun's return toward the vernal equinox, held in their hands highly ornamented pine branches. And this points to the great probability of the now Christian custom of lighting Christmas trees being the echo of the pagan custom of regarding the pine as a symbol of a solar festival, the precursor of the birth of the Sun. It stands to reason that its adoption and establishment in Christian Germany imparted to it a new, and so to speak, Christian formt. Thence fresh legends-as is always the case-explaining in their own way the origin of the ancient custom. We know of one such legend, remarkably poetical in its charming simplicity, which purports to give the origin of this now universally prevailing custom of ornamenting Christmas trees with lighted wax tapers.

Near the cave in which was born the Saviour of the world grew three trees-a pine, an olive, and a palm. On that holy eve when the guiding star of Bethlehem appeared in the heavens, that star which announced to the long-suffering world the birth of Him, who brought to mankind the glad tidings of a blissful hope, all nature rejoiced and is said to have carried to the feet of the Infant-God her best and holiest gifts.

Among others the olive tree that grew at the entrance of the cave of Bethlehem brought forth its golden fruits; the palm offered to the Babe its green and shadowy vault, as a protection against heat and storm; alone the pine had nought to offer. The poor tree stood in dismay and sorrow, vainly trying to think what it could present as a gift to the Child-Christ. Its branches were painfully drooping down, and the intense agony of its grief finally forced from its bark and branches a flood of hot transparent tears, whose large resinous and gummy drops fell thick and fast around it. A silent star, twinkling in the blue canopy of heaven, perceived these tears; and forthwith, confabulating with her companions-lo, a miracle took place. Hosts of shooting stars fell down, like unto a great rain shower, on the pine until they twinkled and shone from every needle, from top to bottom. Then trembling with joyful emotion, the pine proudly raised her drooping branches and appeared for the first time before the eyes of a wondering world, in most dazzling brightness. From that time, the legend tells us, men adopted the habit of ornamenting the pine tree on Christmas Eve with numberless lighted candles.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Pigs and their Criminal Trials 1877


Pigs and their Criminal Trials - article in All the Year Round 1877

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Is a pig a responsible being? Has he a moral sense? If he commit a crime, does he know it to be a crime? If he be tried as a criminal, found guilty, and sentenced, would he know what it is all about, and form an opinion on the justice or injustice of the proceedings? And whatever be the answers to these questions, do they equally apply to other four-footed creatures, and to the lower animals generally? We leave this as a "widdle" to be solved by Dundreary and other moral philosophers. It is, meanwhile, a fact that animals have really passed through some such ordeal in bygone ages; and the reader may not be unwilling to know a little of the evidence in support of this statement. But, first, it may be well to notice a curious narrative relating to a judicial combat between a man and a dog, and a controversy to which it has led touching the possibility of such a thing taking place, without an undue degradation of man as a responsible being, or an equally undue elevation of a dog as presumably irresponsible.

Many of us remember the time when a sensational melodrama was performed at some of the London theatres, under the title of The Forest of Bondy; or, The Dog of Montargis. It has been revived occasionally, when a particular exhibitor or performer had a dog which he had trained to fill a part or routine of action. The story runs thus: Aubry de Montdidier, a gentleman of the royal court, had, in Chevalier Macaire, an archer of the guard, a deadly enemy, who envied him the favour of the king. One day Montdidier was walking in the forest of Bondy, attended only by a favourite hunting-dog. Macaire came upon him stealthily and suddenly, stabbed him to the heart, dug a hole in the ground, and buried the body. The poor dog, bewildered and distressed, remained at the spot all day and all night, and so long afterwards that he became nearly famished. Hurrying home, he whined for food, devoured it ravenously, and returned to the spot where his murdered master lay. This he did again and again, quitting the fatal heap of earth only when hunger compelled him to seek for food. The singularity could not fail to attract notice. The mysterious absence of Aubry de Montdidier had become a source of anxiety to his friends; the visits of the dog, his whines and howls, and the gestures denoting a wish that someone would accompany and aid him, led to a determination to ferret out the truth. Messengers were sent, who were led by the dog to the spot, where the lately-disturbed earth was dug up, and the murdered body found. It was properly interred with Christian rites; and the dog, quiet but saddened, became attached to the friends of his poor master. One day, in a public place, he suddenly espied Chevalier Macaire, rushed upon him, seized him by the throat, and was with difficulty dragged away. This occurred more than once, and suggested to some of the courtiers the recollection that Macaire was known to have been on ill terms with Montdidier. The king, hearing of these things, ordered Macaire to attend with the other archers of the guard, and caused the dog to be brought to him. No sooner did the dog see Macaire, than he sprang on him just as before. The king thereupon questioned the suspected man closely, but could not obtain from him any confession that he was privy to the murder of Montdidier. Upon this—and herein lies the pith of the story—the king resolved upon a trial by battle. It was one of the usages of that age to cause two men to fight, when doubt existed concerning the truth of an accusation brought by one of them against the other, in reliance on the belief that God would defend the right. An arena was prepared, seats were arranged for the king and his courtiers, Macaire was provided with a heavy bludgeon, and the dog with an empty cask into which he might retire to breathe awhile. The combat began; the dog rushed round and round Macaire, avoiding the blows as well as he could, watched his opportunity, and at last, with a spring and a gripe, brought him to the ground. The king accepted this as conclusive proof, and condemned Macaire to the death of a murderer.

Some French writers believe the story; others regard it as a legend resting on no trustworthy foundation. The story appeared in La Colombiere's Theatre d'Honneur et de Chevalerie, from whence it was copied by Bernard de Montfaucon. The event is said to have occurred in the year 1371; the king was Charles Quint, or Charles le Sage. The place of combat was the Ile St. Louis, or Ile Notre Dame, a small island in the Seine, the real nucleus of the city of Paris. Over the mantelpiece of a saloon at the chateau of Montargis, a favourite country residence of the king, is, or was, an old picture representing the combat. The king, the princes and princesses, and the courtiers, are seated around the arena, in the middle of which the dog is represented as seizing Macaire by the throat, despite the formidable bludgeon. The dog is called the Dog of Montargis, so far as is known, only because of this picture in the chateau of that name. Research has, however, brought to light a Latin poem, older than the time of Charles le Sage, in which such a trial by combat is described as having taken place in the days of Charlemagne, more than a thousand years ago. Hence, in the opinion of many critics, the story was probably an invention of some troubadour in the eleventh or twelfth century.

Besides this, the story has been gravely attacked because it compromises the dignity of man, ignores the relative importance of reasoning and unreasoning beings, confounds those who are responsible for their actions with lower animals, unconscious of responsibility in a moral point of view. It is right, say these censors, to respect animals as works of the Creator, but wrong to exaggerate the sentiment. If we raise beasts in estimation we must raise human beings also; if we cannot do this latter, then we must allow every beast to retain his inferior position, to keep his distance, as it were, from that superior being man. (Query: A man sometimes beats his wife, does Mr. Hog ever beat or bite Mrs. Sow?) Unreasoning and irresponsible animals fill all grades down to the very lowest forms of organisation, little better than plants or minerals; while man is capable of rising from his present level almost up (we are fain to hope) to equality with the angels. It is not compatible with Christian doctrine for a man to fight with a dog; not consistent with moral responsibility to test a question of guilt or innocence by such an ordeal. If (they are Frenchmen who discourse thus) King Charles le Sage had ordered one of his attendants—whether the Chevalier Macaire or any other — to submit to such a degradation, would his honour as a Frenchman have permitted him to do so? A murderer he may have been, but could he consent to make himself a beast, or the equal of a beast? No; he would have preferred death, with or without a trial. No man in his own rank of life would have associated with him after he had fought a combat with a dog, whether he had been victorious or not; the dog-fight would damn him. When a lady, in the days of chivalry, selected a champion to fight for her, she chose a man of knightly honour, or at any rate one equal in rank to his antagonist, in order that it might be no degradation to either to combat with the other. It is also urged, in refutation of the Bondy narrative, that no animals below the rank of man have any clear idea of death; they do not discriminate between it and a prolonged sleep; the passing away of a spirit from the silent body would be beyond their powers of conception. Even children can with difficulty bring themselves to understand what death means. The dog of Montargis did not know that his master was dead, whatever else he may have known; and he could not deem it a moral retribution to spring upon the throat of Macaire. Thus argue the critics who dispute the story on moral grounds.

And now we come to our pigs. The story or legend just treated of depends, if true at all, on a belief in something—be it what it may—above mere brute nature in brutes, above mere bestiality in beasts. And it will be interesting to show, by evidence of quite a different kind, that the French did at one time really adopt a course towards the lower animals, which we in the present day should consider absurdly beneath the dignity of man, absurdly above the comprehension or responsibility of the brute creation.

A learned jurisconsult, M. Berriat St. Prix, examining the archives of the old French criminal courts, found more than sixty accounts of trials in which swine or other animals were placed at the bar— as we should call it—as criminals, or offenders accused of crime. These occurred at various dates, from the twelfth century down far into the seventeenth— the later centuries of the Middle Ages and the earlier of the modern. The Church had been accustomed to pronounce anathemas, on some occasions, against certain noxious vermin, such as field-mice, May bugs, caterpillars, snails, and others hurtful to the farms and gardens. But the criminal trial of animals was a different thing altogether. The instances ferreted out by M. Berriat St. Prix related mostly to offenders of the porcine genus, but some applied to bulls or cows and other animals.

One of the trials took place in the year 1266. The officer of justice of the Monastery of Sainte Genevieve brought to trial a hog that had killed and partly devoured a poor little infant, at Fontenay aux Roses, near Paris. The culprit, found guilty, was sentenced to the punishment of being roasted to death—an example of roast pork which will probably be rather new to most English readers.

Again, in the year 1386, a magistrate of Falaise, in Normandy, after a formal examination into the facts, condemned a sow to be mutilated in the leg and the head, and then to be hanged, for having killed and partly devoured an infant. Of course the prisoner at the bar was neither asked nor expected to give evidence in her own defence. The executioner was furnished with new gloves on the occasion.

Again, the judicial officer of the Abbey of Beaupre, near Beauvais, instituted a formal enquiry into a charge brought against a bull, of having viciously killed a maiden thirteen years of age, in the Seigneurie of Cantry, a dependency of the Abbey. The facts were investigated, the animal found guilty, sentence passed, and the bull put to death by hanging. So far as appears, the four-footed beasts condemned after these curious trials were not put out of the world in the usual way; they suffered the more ignominious death of felons.

Just before the close of the fifteenth century, in the time of our Henry the Seventh, a zoological trial—if the term may be used—was held, concerning which M. Berriat St. Prix gives us some of the technical records of procedure. It was held before the bailli or judicial officer of the Abbey of Josaphat, near Chartres: "Monday, April 18, 1499, an enquiry was held before us, at the request of the procureur of Messieurs the Monks of the Abbey of Josaphat, against Jehan Delalande and his wife, prisoners in the jail of this abbey, by reason of the untimely death of a child named Gilon, about a year-and-a-half old, which child had been duly nursed and nourished by its mother. The child was murdered by a pig, about the age of three months, belonging to the said Delalande and his wife. Considering the charge brought, and the evidence taken, we have condemned and do hereby condemn the said pig, for the reason and facts established, to be hanged and executed by our executioner, in the jurisdiction of Messieurs our Superiors, and by virtue of our definitive and lawful power. Given under the countersign of the said bailliage, the year and day above named. Signed, O. Briseg." There is no statement that Delalande and his wife bore any part of the punishment inflicted on their porcine property.

One instance, noted by the authority above named, is additionally curious, in so far as it lets us into the knowledge of a few facts, connected with the technical details of bringing the four-footed culprit to justice. It is an attestation made by the bailli of Mantes, dated March 14th, 1413, concerning the execution of a sow for having killed and partly devoured a little child. The approximate English of the old French forms of expression may be presented thus: "To all whom it may concern: Simon de Baudemont, lieutenant at Meullent of the noble Sieur John, Seigneur de Maintenon, Chevalier-chamberlain of the King our Sire, and his bailli at Mantes and the said Meullent, greeting. We hereby make known that in bringing to justice a sow that had killed and partly devoured a little child, we have become chargeable for the following expenditure, namely: Expenses incurred for the said sow in jail, six Paris sols [An old French coin worth 12 deniers]. To the maitre des hautes-oeuvres, who came from Paris to Meullent to perform the said execution, by command and ordonnance of our said master the bailli and procureur of the king, fifty-four Paris sols. For the cart which brought the said sow to justice, six Paris sols. For cords to tie and secure her, two sols eight deniers. For gloves, two deniers. The which items make; a sum total of sixty-nine sols eight deniers Parisian. All the which we hereby certify to be true by these presents. Sealed with our seal. Signed, De Baudemont."

There seems some reason to believe that the executioner wore gloves on the occasion, as if to save his hands from the contamination of touching the condemned brute. If so, they were perhaps hired for each occasion; they could not, even making allowance for the great difference in the value of money in those days and the present, have been purchased for so trifling a sum as two deniers.

Does it follow that the Middle Ages, as typified by these strange judicial proceedings, lowered human nature to the level of brute nature, by subjecting both alike to the same ordeal and punishments? Not necessarily. It was only when human life was sacrificed by animals that they were thus tried, sentenced, and punished. The principle of legislation which seems to have been accepted and adopted was that all violence to human life and human nature are punishable, by whomsoever and whatsoever committed. A state of society which sanctioned this maxim is not unlikely to have sanctioned also the style of judicial combat indicated by the story of the Dog of Montargis, whether that particular story is true or legendary—provided there was strong presumptive evidence that the accused person had really committed murder.

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A Review of William Starr Myers' Socialism and American Ideals 1919


A Review of William Starr Myers' Socialism and American Ideals 1919 [William Starr Myers, Ph.D., was Professor of Politics, Princeton University]


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This modest and unpretentious volume does not purport to contain an exhaustive study of the theory and practice of socialism, but it presents a remarkably keen, clear-cut, and withal good-tempered argument to show that the basic principles of socialism, and of its precursor, paternalism in government, are diametrically opposed not only to the American plan of government and the ideals out of which it grew, but also to the very spirit of democracy itself, and even to the foundations of the religion which most of us profess. The genius of American institutions is in permitting and encouraging individual effort and initiative. It is not universal happiness which is promised by our constitutions, but the right to pursue it, and this means equality of opportunity for each individual to seek and achieve the destiny which suits him best. The theory of socialism, on the other hand, represses individuality, allocates activity, professes to help all the members of the body politic, but does so in spite of themselves, and so, as Professor Myers aptly says, “inevitably pauperizes and atrophies human character.” For the result of socialism as a permanent policy, as he states, “means the substitution of government or official judgment and initiative for that of the individual. The whole process would be one to deaden and atrophy the powers of the people in general, with the result that there would follow a leveling down to a plane of mediocrity rather than a leveling up according to individual capacities and ambitions, exercised through equality of opportunity.” Nor is this all. For “in a socialistic state, inevitably there would be formed a bureaucracy of selfish office holders. Although, owing to the impetus of our previous free democracy, the first socialist officials might be men of ability who had gained their places through successful experience, yet a close corporation of officials would follow them and retain the exercise of power. The people gradually would sink to a level of servile conformity.”


And although socialism dons the shining armor of democracy, and cries aloud in the name of the “plain people,” the “common people,” the “toiling masses,” and so on, it is but a pretender and is false to the very standard it holds aloft. For socialism “is essentially undemocratic. A democracy means a government by public opinion and this opinion is the result of the co-operative impulse or community feeling of the people of a free country—a people who are given the opportunity to think for themselves, and are not thought for by a divinely constituted government. As Thomas Jefferson maintained, liberty is not a privilege granted by a government, but government is a responsibility delegated to its officers by the people. And on this distinction hangs all the philosophy of democracy.”

The first step in practical socialism would be the assumption and operation by the government of the most important public utilities, particularly the agencies of transportation and communication and some of the processes of production. The results of such a policy are no longer a matter of surmise or even of argument. The experiment has been tried in various countries of Europe, and Professor Myers points out in one of his most interesting chapters that the invariable consequences are disastrous inefficiency, waste, extravagance, and deterioration of service. For that matter, the experiment has been tried in the United States; and if the American people have not read the lesson which is written plainly across the face of governmental operation of the railroads, telegraphs, and telephones, then they would not give heed though one spoke to them from the dead.

But society is not static, and undoubtedly we are faced with new problems and must devise new processes. Professor Myers believes that the better way, or, as he calls it, the true antidote to socialism, lies in the direction of the free and successful use of cooperation, not only in the new relation of capital and labor, but in the processes of production and in the purchase and distribution of commodities. "Cooperation" is a term which the socialist especially likes, but one to which he has no manner of right. For "cooperation is a social movement, the impulse for which comes from within the human heart, while socialism is essentially a working together only as the result of outward direction and dictation. The first is the act of a free man; the latter results from the obedience of a political and mental slave."

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Jane Austen, Jane Eyre, RL Stine & Other Book News (Nov 28 2016)


Dr Seuss-‘Star Trek’ Mashup Book Sparks Copyright Lawsuit
Copyright holder for children’s author work says “Oh the Places You’ll Boldly Go!” is a ripoff

'It's like they were selling heroin to schoolkids': censorship hits
booksellers at Kuwait book fair

Amazon removes negative reviews of Megyn Kelly's memoir

Pippi Longstocking author had to pay 102% taxes

Buzzfeed's List:37 Books with Mind Blowing Plot Twists

Rush Limbaugh Children’s Books Banned at Wisconsin School

Have you noticed Westworld is packed full of literary references, from Shakespeare to Lewis Carroll?

Stealing Books in the Age of Self-Publishing

Book by Canadian serial killer removed from Amazon

The myth of the disappearing book: Misplaced hype over ebooks dates
back to the phonograph in 1894
Books have endured many technical revolutions. So when faced with the
transformative power of technology, is the problem often our aversion
to change?

J.K. Rowling sends ‘Harry Potter’ ebooks to tweeting Syrian girl
living in Aleppo

Early rejection letter calls George Orwell's Animal Farm "stupid and pointless"

Apple's ebook store bans books that use Apple trademarks in unapproved
(but legal and accurate) ways

Amazon Kindle vs Kobo – who makes the best ebooks?

4 Reasons to Still Buy a Kindle (or Any Other E-reader) in 2016

Annotated 'Mein Kampf' edition wins academic prize in Germany
When the copyright was lifted on Hitler's book of propaganda earlier
this year, a decisive annotated edition was released - and became a
bestseller. It has now won a significant academic award.

EU Rules On Library E-Book Lending
This month, the EU ruled in favor of the application of "one copy, one
user" book lending model to e-books.

Best mystery books and thrillers of 2016

Best audiobooks of 2016

Horror Writer R.L. Stine Joins Marvel

Horror Fans Can Tour Derry, Stephen King’s Macabre Version of Bangor

Fair use prevails as Supreme Court rejects Google Books copyright case
Fair use is a defense to copyright infringement in US intellectual property law.

Newark teacher Clare Hughes banned for selling stolen books

Author can't find Chinese publisher for book about one-child policy,
offers it for free online instead

England to Restore a House With Ties to Jane Austen — or Not

What Jane Eyre Can Teach Women Today About Money

Unseen HG Wells ghost story published for first time
The Haunted Ceiling, a macabre story of strange goings-on in an old house, is thought to have been written in the mid-1890s

Natalie Babbitt dies; was author of 'Tuck Everlasting'

The Wall Street Journal Book Club to Read Moby-Dick

Best-selling books for the week that ended Nov. 20
Best Selling HARDCOVER NONFICTION
1. “Settle for More” • Megyn Kelly
2. “Killing the Rising Sun” • Bill O’Reilly/Martin Dugard
3. “Our Revolution” • Bernie Sanders
4. “The Magnolia Story” • Chip Gaines/Joanna Gaines
5. “Cooking for Jeffrey” • Ina Garten
6. “Hillbilly Elegy” • J.D. Vance
7. “Scrappy Little Nobody” • Anna Kendrick
8. “Jesus Always” • Sarah Young
9. “Superficial” • Andy Cohen
10. “Guinness World Records 2017” • Guinness World Records

Superstitions that Folks Have About Christmas by Clifford Howard 1907


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Superstitions that Folks Have About Christmas - Some of the Queer Beliefs in Different Countries: By Clifford Howard (Ladies' Home Journal 1907)

CHRISTMAS would not be Christmas without its legends and its time-hallowed customs — and, I was about to add, its superstitions; but this is no longer true for the great majority of us. We cling devotedly to our endearing legends and customs, but the bonny superstitions of Christmastime are fast fading away in the sunset of the world's illusions. Indeed, the modern, progressive world is forgetting all about them. It is only when we peep into the earth's nooks and corners that have not yet been swept of their cobwebs of folklore and primitive faiths that we find these quaint beliefs in the supernatural still forming a part of the Christmas celebration. But however remote they may seem at first thought, we need but turn aside from the highways of the Christmas season to find these superstitions thriving in simple faith among our neighbors and fellow-beings, and lending to this merry tide a mysterious and fairylike romance which makes us almost sorry that we have not retained our hold upon them along with our sainted Santa Claus and mythful mistletoe. They are not confined to any one race nor to any one locality. Wherever we go, whether it be along the byways of our own domain or those of foreign lands, we encounter these innocent Christmas superstitions holding sway among good and lowly folk.

The Cocks Crowing for Christmas

MOST common and most familiar are those relating to the behavior of the animals at Christmastime. Perhaps the oldest among them is the still-popular belief that the chickens know when Christmas is coming, and that at this season of the year the cock may be heard crowing in the middle of the night. It is said he is crowing for Christmas, and that his object in so doing is to frighten off evil spirits. Those who are familiar with the play of “Hamlet” will recall that Shakespeare refers to this ancient superstition, when Marcellus says to his companions upon the disappearance of the ghost:

“It faded on the crowing of the cock. 
Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes 
Wherein our Savior's birth is celebrated, 
The bird of dawning singeth all night long; 
And then, they say, no spirit can walk abroad, 
The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike, 
So hallow’d and so gracious is the time.”

CLOSELY akin to this superstition is one that still prevails in certain parts of rural England. This is the belief that if on Christmas Eve any one cautiously approaches a hive of bees in the stillness of the night he will hear the bees singing. They know that the joyous festival is at hand and, awaking from their winter slumber, they join with mankind in celebration of this holy anniversary. And on the stroke of midnight the attentive listener will hear their subdued humming resolve itself into the melodious singing of the hundredth Psalm:

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
“Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with a song.”

Animals Kneeling in Adoration

THE belief that animals are inspired with a knowledge of the advent of Christmas and are given the power of expressing adoration at midnight is very widespread. In many places it is believed that the sheep at this hour awake and go in procession, in commemoration of the visit of the angels to the shepherds on the hills of Bethlehem. The cattle, too, are said to celebrate the birth of the Savior by kneeling in their stalls.

It is commonly believed among the peasants of Europe that this actually takes place on Christmas night, but it is a sight seldom witnessed by human eyes, owing to the condition that only those who are free from sin are permitted to behold the miracle.

This superstition early found its way to America, and in modified form still lingers among some of the Indians. Howison, in his “Sketches of Upper Canada,” relates that one moonlight Christmas Eve he was surprised to see an Indian creeping cautiously through the woods. When asked what he was doing he replied: "Me watch to see the deer kneel. Christmas night all the deer kneel and look up to Great Spirit."

Animals Gifted with Speech

IN THE German Alps there is a superstition that the cattle not only kneel in their stalls on Christmas night, but that they are also gifted with the faculty of speech at this time. It is regarded as a sin, however, for any one to listen to them. Only on penalty of speedy death may any one venture to hear the words spoken by the animals.

As a warning to those who might be inclined to allow curiosity to override their good sense, it is related that many years ago a farmer's servant hid in the stable on Christmas Eve to hear what the horses and cows would say when the clock struck twelve. Exactly at midnight one of the horses lifted up his head and spoke, saying in a distinct voice, "We shall have hard work to do a week from today." "Yes," answered one of the cows; "the farmer's servant is heavy." "And the way to the churchyard is long and steep," remarked another horse. Then silence fell again, and the servant, quaking with mortal fright, fled to the house, and dying a few days later was hauled to the churchyard by the two horses on the day they had prophesied.

The “Human Wolves” in Norway

Even more tragic than this, and, strangely enough, having about it no element of sacredness, is the old and one-time popular superstition still to be found in certain parts of Norway. This is the belief that on Christmas night men may change themselves into wolves. Those who take advantage of this uncanny opportunity become the most savage sort of beasts, and, forming themselves into packs, rage against their fellow-mortals and do more harm than the wildest of natural wolves. They attack houses and, breaking down the doors, get into the cellars and wantonly destroy the winter provisions, besides drinking up all the wine and beer they can discover.

Only by special prayers can a house be insured against a visitation from these werewolves; and so farreaching is their power for evil that if any one during the following month should chance to come upon the spot where the transformation of these creatures took place he will die within the year.


Holy Straw and Bread

BUT if the Norse folks have this unhappy superstition associated with the joyous Christmastime, they have also one of a different character, peculiar to themselves, which is truly in keeping with this hallowed season. In Sweden, particularly, it is customary for the peasants to scatter straw about their houses and their churches during the Christmas holidays. This is done in commemoration of the circumstance that the Christ-Child was laid upon a bed of straw at His birth. The straw thus used on these holy days is supposed to become possessed of miraculous properties and is carefully gathered up by each household at the close of the holiday season. If given to the cattle when they are first sent out to pasture in the spring this holy straw is believed to insure them against sickness; and if it is desired to have the field or garden yield abundantly during the coming year it is only necessary to scatter some of this straw upon the ground at planting-time.

In Denmark a similar superstition obtains with reference to bread baked on Christmas Day. If this bread is kept until the spring and then crumbled and mixed with seed it will make the harvest abundant. Eaten by men and animals it both cures and prevents disease.

The peasants of Lombardy believe that bread baked on Christmas Day and kept untouched for a month is a charm against serpent bites, while in Germany it is believed that if the crumbs of this holy bread fall upon the earth they spring up as little plants bearing a starlike flower and possessing miraculous healing powers.

Closely allied to these beliefs is another German superstition, that barley left out in the open air on Christmas night and moistened with the dew becomes imbued with special curative virtues, and if planted will produce in extraordinary abundance.

In Austria and certain parts of Germany it is believed that the Virgin and the Christ-Child pass through the villages on Christmas night while the people are asleep. In many of the houses the tables are spread and the lights left burning during the entire night, in order that the holy wanderers may find rest and refreshment. In other homes the candles are placed in the windows, so as to illumine the otherwise darkened streets, in order that the Christ-Child may not stumble, and that by this token He may know of the love that abides for Him in these lowly dwellings.

The belief that Christ comes again as a little child and that other Biblical events are repeated at Christmastime is not uncommon. In Poland there is a popularly accepted belief that on Christmas night the scene of Jacob's ladder is reenacted, the angels descending to earth and scattering abroad the influence of peace and good will.

Subterranean Christmas Bells

IN SEVERAL countries there is a superstition that if one goes to a certain valley in the early morning of Christmas Day and puts his ear to the ground he will hear the ringing of church bells deep down in the earth. The valley is supposed to have been caused by a great earthquake that occurred many centuries ago and which swallowed up a whole village one Christmas morning while the bells were ringing, and ever since then these bells can be heard on the anniversary of that day.

In England this mysterious valley is in Nottinghamshire. For a great many years it was the custom for the people to assemble in this valley on Christmas morning and listen reverently to the muffled chimes of the buried church. Even now, though this ancient custom is no longer observed, the old men and women will tell the young folks that if they go to the valley and put their
ears close to the ground they will hear the Christmas bells ringing as in olden times.

This superstition suggests one that is peculiar to the Tyrolese peasants, who listen at the bake-ovens on Christmas Eve. If they hear music it signifies an early wedding; but if the ringing of bells is heard it forebodes the speedy death of the listener.

The Foretelling of Events

THIS superstition on the part of the Tyrolese peasants is but one of many that relate to the foretelling of events at Christmastime. In certain parts of Swabia it is customary on Christmas Eve for the young women to draw sticks from the woodpile. As the stick is, so will be the man who is to marry the maiden. If it is long he will be tall; if it is thick he will be stout; if crooked he will be deformed, and so on. In order to determine also what his trade or profession will be the interested maid pours molten lead into a bucket of water, and the shapes thus produced furnish the desired clew. If the hardening metal resembles a boot the future husband will be a cobbler; if a hammer, a carpenter; and if a rod, a schoolmaster. And to ascertain which of the maidens will be the first to marry, during the coming year the party forms a circle around a blindfolded goose, and the one whom the goose first approaches is the lucky damsel.

That the events of the coming year can be prognosticated at Christmas is a very old and very widespread belief. There are many who hold that the day of the week on which Christmas falls determines the kind of a year we are to have in respect to harvests and weather and conditions generally. Other superstitions of a like character are based upon the phases of the moon and the state of the weather on Christmas Day. In an old book, intended to enlighten the public on various matters, and written in all seriousness, we read:

“When Christmas Day cometh while the moon waxeth it shall be a good year, and the nearer it cometh to the new moon the better shall that year be. If it cometh when the moon decreaseth it shall be a hard year, and the nearer the latter end thereof it cometh the worse and harder shall the year be. When on Christmas night it is very fair and clear weather, and it is without rain and wind, then it is taken that in this year will be plenty of wine and fruit. But if the contrariwise—foul weather and windy—so shall it be very scant of wine and fruit. But if the wind arise at the rise of the sun, then it betokeneth great dearth among beasts and cattle this year. But if the wind arise at the going down of the sun, then it signifieth death to come among kings and other great lords.”

The Planting of Saint Barbara's Grain

AQUAINT custom associated with the superstition relative to the foretelling of the coming harvest is to be found among the good people of Southern France. There, on Saint Barbara's Day, the fourth of December, every devout housewife fills two plates with grains of wheat and pours enough water upon them to cause them to float. She then places them in the warm ashes of the fireplace or on a sunny window-ledge. This is called the planting of the blessed Saint Barbara's grain. The water and the warmth cause the wheat to sprout by Christmastime, and the anxious watchers are then able to tell what the harvest of the ensuing year will be; for as Saint Barbara's grain grows well or ill, so will the harvest be good or bad. And in symbolization of the life that has come into the world these plates with their tiny sprouts of green are placed in the centre of the table on Christmas Day when the festal meal is served.

The Original Halcyon Days were at Christmastime

THE days at Christmastime are the original “Halcyon Days.” They were so called because the halcyon, an ancient name for the kingfisher, was fabled to build its nest upon the waters at this season of the year. It was popularly believed that this bird, through the influence of the holy season, had the power of charming the winds and waves, so that the weather was then calm and peaceful and enabled the halcyon to lay its eggs within its floating nest and brood upon them in perfect safety.

In olden days the faith of men declared that all Nature testified in various ways to a recognition of the great event commemorated in the celebration of Christmas. The winds and seas, as well as the animals and the plants and all other living things, gave evidence of an innate knowledge of the advent of this glorious anniversary and became imbued with the prevailing spirit of joy and peace and adoration.

Tradition says that at the moment of Christ's birth a universal peace reigned throughout the earth and heavens; that a profound silence rested upon the world; that the birds stopped in their flight, the cattle ceased to feed, and men became motionless with sudden awe in the midst of their labors, and that the stars glittered with added lustre, and the sun twice bounded for joy.

From this tradition came the superstitions of the Middle Ages relating to the miraculous phenomena supposed to occur each year at Christmastime, and many of which, surviving through the centuries, still find devout acceptance among lowly followers of Christ.

Whatever may be our attitude toward these Christmas-born legends and superstitions, we know that there comes upon the world at this jubilant season a spirit of peace and of good will, a spirit of poesy and of romance, unknown and unfelt at any other time, and which lends a reasonableness and a glamour to these enduring superstitions which we are loath to disturb by any reference to logic or science. For these are the Halcyon Days, and all that is, is good; and our hearts become as those of little children, unquestioning the joy and the faith inspired by this holiest of all seasons.

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