Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Yellow Press, the Fake News of 100 Years Ago (1907 Article)


The Yellow Press, the Fake News of 100 Years Ago (1907 Article) by Charles Whibley

IF all countries may boast the Press which they deserve, America’s desert is small indeed. No civilised country in the world has been content with newspapers so grossly contemptible as those which are read from New York to the Pacific Coast. The journals known as Yellow would be a disgrace to the Black Republic, and it is difficult to understand the state of mind which can tolerate them. Divorced completely from the world of truth and intelligence, they present nothing which an educated man would desire to read. They are said to be excluded from clubs and from respectable houses. But even if this prohibition were a fact, their proprietors need feel no regret. We are informed by the Yellowest of Editors that his burning words are read every day by five million men and women.

What, then, is the aspect and character of these Yellow Journals? As they are happily strange on our side the ocean, they need some description. They are ill-printed, over-illustrated sheets, whose end and aim are to inflame a jaded or insensitive palate. They seem to address the half-blind eye and the sluggish mind of the imbecile. The wholly unimportant information which they desire to impart is not conveyed in type of the ordinary shape and size. The “scare” headlines are set forth in letters three inches in height. It is as though the editors of these sheets are determined to exhaust your attention. They are not content to tell you that this or that inapposite event has taken place. They pant, they shriek, they yell. Their method represents the beating of a thousand big drums, the blare of unnumbered trumpets, the shouted blasphemies of a million raucous throats. And if, with all this noise dinning in your car, you are persuaded to read a Yellow sheet, which is commonly pink in colour, you are grievously disappointed. The thing is not even sensational. Its “scare” headlines do but arouse a curiosity which the “brightest and brainiest" reporter in the United States is not able to satisfy.

Of what happens in the great world you will find not a trace in the Yellow Journals. They betray no interest in politics, in literature, or in the fine arts. There is nothing of grave importance which can be converted into a “good story.” That a great man should perform a great task is immaterial. Noble deeds make no scandal, and are therefore not worth reporting. But if you can discover that the great man has a hidden vice, or an eccentric taste in boots or hats, there is "copy" ready to your hand. All things and all men must be reduced to a dead level of imbecility. The Yellow Press is not obscene-it has not the courage for that. Its proud boast is that it never prints a line that a father might not read to his daughter. It is merely personal and impertinent. No one's life is secure from its spies. No privacy is sacred. Mr Stead's famous ideal of an ear at every keyhole is magnificently realised in America. A hundred reporters are ready, at a moment's notice, to invade houses, to uncover secrets, to molest honest citizens with indiscreet questions. And if their victims are unwilling to respond, they pay for it with public insult and malicious invention. Those who will not bow to the common tyrant of the Press cannot complain if words are ascribed to them which they never uttered, if they are held guilty of deeds from which they would shrink in horror. Law and custom are alike powerless to fight this tyranny, which is the most ingenious and irksome form of blackmail yet invented.

The perfect newspaper, if such were possible, would present to its readers a succinct history of each day as it passes. It would weigh with a scrupulous hand the relative importance of events. It would give to each department of human activity no more than its just space. It would reduce scandal within the narrow limits which ought to confine it. Under its wise auspices murder, burglary, and suicide would be deposed from the eminence upon which idle curiosity has placed them. Those strange beings known as public men would be famous not for what their wives wear at somebody else’s “At Home,” but for their own virtues and attainments. The foolish actors and actresses, who now believe themselves the masters of the world, would slink away into entrefilets on a back page. The perfect newspaper, in brief, would resemble a Palace of Truth, in which deceit was impossible and vanity ridiculous. It would crush the hankerers after false reputations, it would hurl the imbecile from the mighty seats which they try to fill, and it would present an invaluable record to future generations.

What picture of its world does the Yellow Press present? A picture of colossal folly and unpardonable indiscretion. If there be a museum which preserves these screaming sheets, this is the sort of stuff which in two thousand years will puzzle the scholars: “Mrs Jones won’t admit Wedding,” “Millionaires Bet on a Snake Fight,” “Chicago Church Girl Accuses Millionaire,” “Athletics make John D. forget his Money.” These are a few pearls hastily strung together, and they show what jewels of intelligence are most highly prized by the Greatest Democracy on earth. Now and again the editor takes his readers into his confidence and asks them to interfere in the affairs of persons whom they will never know. Here, for instance, is a characteristic problem set by an editor whose knowledge of his public exceeds his respect for the decencies of life: “What Mrs Washington ought to do. Her husband Wall Street Broker. Got tired of Her and Deserted. But Mrs Washington, who still loves him dearly, Is determined to win him back. And here is the Advice of the Readers of this Journal.” Is it not monstrous—this interference with the privacy of common citizens? And yet this specimen has an air of dignity compared with the grosser exploits of the hired eavesdropper. Not long since there appeared in a Sunday paper a full list, with portraits and biographies, of all the ladies in New York who are habitual drunkards. From which it is clear that the law of libel has sunk into oblivion, and that the cowhide is no longer a useful weapon.

The disastrous effect upon the people of such a Press as I have described is obvious. It excites the nerves of the foolish, it presents a hideously false standard of life, it suggests that nobody is sacred for the omnipotent eavesdropper, and it preaches day after day at the top of its husky voice the gospel of snobbishness. But it is not merely the public manners which it degrades; it does its best to hamper the proper administration of the law. In America trial by journalism has long supplemented, and goes far to supplant, trial by jury. If a murder be committed its detection is not left to the officers of the police. A thousand reporters, cunning as monkeys, active as sleuth-hounds, are on the track. Whether it is the criminal that they pursue or an innocent man is indifferent to them. Heedless of injustice, they go in search of “copy.” They interrogate the friends of the victim, and they uncover the secrets of all the friends and relatives he may have possessed. They care not how they prejudice the public mind, or what wrong they do to innocent men. If they make a fair trial impossible, it matters not. They have given their tired readers a new sensation, they have stimulated gossip in a thousand tenement houses, and justice may fall in ruins so long as they sell another edition. And nobody protests against their unbridled licence, not even when they have made it an affair of the utmost difficulty and many weeks to empanel an unprejudiced jury.

The greatest opportunity of the Yellow Press came a brief year ago, when a Mr H. K. Thaw murdered an accomplished architect. The day after the murder the trial began in the newspapers, and it has been “run as a serial” ever since. The lives of the murderer and his victim were uncovered with the utmost effrontery. The character of the dead man was painted in the blackest colours by cowards, who knew that they were secure from punishment. The murderer’s friends and kinsmen were all compelled to pay their tribute to the demon of publicity. The people was presented with plans of the cell in which the man Thaw was imprisoned, while photographs of his wife and his mother were printed day after day that a silly mob might note the effect of anguish on the human countenance. And, not content with thus adorning the tale, the journals were eloquent in pointing the moral. Sentimental spinsters were invited to warn the lady typewriters of America that death and ruin inevitably overtake the wrongdoer. Stern-eyed clergymen thought well to anticipate justice in sermons addressed to erring youth. Finally, a plébiscite decided, by 2 to 1, that Thaw should immediately be set free. And when you remember the arrogant tyranny of the Yellow Journals, you are surprised that at the mere sound of the people’s voice the prison doors did not instantly fly open.

You are told, as though it were no more than a simple truth, that the Yellow Press —-the journals owned by Mr Hearst — not merely made the Spanish-American War, but procured the assassination of Mr McKinley. The statement seems incredible, because it is difficult to believe that such stuff as these should have any influence either for good or evil. The idle gossip and flagrant scandal which are its daily food do not appear to be efficient leaders of opinion. But it is the Editorial columns which do the work of conviction, and they assume an air of gravity which may easily deceive the unwary. And their gravity is the natural accompaniment of scandal. There is but a slender difference between barbarity and sentimentalism. The same temper which delights in reading of murder and sudden death weeps with anguish at the mere hint of oppression. No cheek is so easily bedewed by the unnecessary tear as the cheek of the ruffian — and those who compose the “editorials” for Mr Hearst’s papers have cynically realised this truth. They rant and they cant and they argue, as though nothing but noble thoughts were permitted to lodge within the poor brains of their readers. Their favourite gospel is the gospel of Socialism. They tell the workers that the world is their inalienable inheritance, that skill and capital are the snares of the evil one, and that nothing is worth a reward save manual toil. They pretend for a moment to look with a kindly eye upon the Trusts, because, when all enterprises and industries are collected into a small compass, the people will have less trouble in laying hands upon them. In brief, they teach the supreme duty of plunder in all the staccato eloquence at their command. For the man whose thrift and energy have helped him to success they have nothing but contempt. They cannot think of the criminal without bursting into tears. And, while they lay upon the rich man the guilty burden of his wealth, they charge the community with the full responsibility for the convict’s misfortune. Such doctrines, insidiously taught, and read day after day by the degenerate and unrestrained, can only have one effect, and that effect, no doubt, the “editorials” of the Yellow Press will some day succeed in producing.

The result is, of course, revolution, and revolution is being carefully and insidiously prepared after the common fashion. Not a word is left unsaid that can flatter the criminal or encourage the thriftless. Those who are too idle to work but not too idle to read the Sunday papers are told that the wealth of the country is theirs, and it will be the fault of their own inaction, not of the Yellow Press, if they do not some day lay violent hands upon it. And when they are tired of politics the Yellow Editors turn to popular philosophy or cheap theology for the solace of their public. To men and women excited by the details of the last murder they discourse of the existence of God in short, crisp sentences, — and I know not which is worse, the triviality of the discourse or its inappositeness. They preface one of their most impassioned exhortations with the words: “If you read this, you will probably think you have wasted time.” This might with propriety stand for the motto of all the columns of all Mr Hearst’s journals, but here it is clearly used in the same hope which inspires the sandwichman to carry on his front the classic legend: “Please do not look on my back.” But what is dearest to the souls of these editors is a mean commonplace. One leader, which surely had a triumphant success, is headed, “What the Bartender Sees.” And the exordium is worthy so profound a speculation. “Did you ever stop to think,” murmurs the Yellow philosopher, “of all the strange beings that pass before him?" There’s profundity for you! There’s invention! Is it wonderful that five million men and women read these golden words, or others of a like currency, every day?

And politics, theology, and philosophy are all served up in the same thick sauce of sentiment. The “baby” seems to play a great part in the Yellow morality. One day you are told, “A baby can educate a man"; on another you read, “Last week’s baby will surely talk some day,” and you are amazed, as at a brilliant discovery. And you cannot but ask, To whom are these exhortations addressed? To children or to idiots? The grown men and women, even of Cook County, can hardly regard such poor twaddle as this with a serious eye. And what of the writers? How can they reconcile their lofty tone, which truly is above suspicion, with the shameful sensationalism of their news-columns? They know not the meaning of sincerity. If they believed that “last week’s baby would talk some day,” they would suppress their reporters. In short, they are either blind or cynical. From these alternatives there is no escape, and for their sakes, as well as for America’s, I hope they write with their tongue in their cheeks.

The style of the Yellow Journals is appropriate to their matter. The headlines live on and by the historic present, and the text is as bald as a paper of statistics. It is the big type that does the execution. The “story” itself, to use the slang of the newspaper, is seldom either humorous or picturesque. Bare facts and vulgar incidents are enough for the public, which cares as little for wit as for sane writing. One fact only can explain the imbecility of the Yellow Press: it is written for immigrants, who have but an imperfect knowledge of English, who prefer to see their news rather than to read it, and who, if they must read, can best understand words of one syllable and sentences of no more than five words.

For good or evil, America has the sole claim to the invention of the Yellow Press. It came, fully armed, from the head of its first proprietor. It owes nothing to Europe, nothing to the traditions of its own country. It grew out of nothing, and, let us hope, it will soon disappear into nothingness. The real Press of America was rather red than yellow. It had an energy and a character which still exist in some more reputable sheets, and which are the direct antithesis of Yellow sensationalism. The horsewhip and revolver were as necessary to its conduct as the pen and inkpot. If the editors of an older and wiser time insulted their enemies, they were ready to defend themselves, like men. They did not eavesdrop and betray. They would have scorned to reveal the secrets of private citizens, even though they did not refrain their hand from their rivals. Yet, with all their brutality, they were brave and honourable, and you cannot justly measure the degradation of the Yellow Press unless you cast your mind a little farther back and contemplate the achievement of another generation.

The tradition of journalism came to America from England. ‘The Sun,’ ‘The Tribune,’ and ‘The Post,’ as wise and trustworthy papers as may be found on the surface of the globe, are still conscious of their origin, though they possess added virtues of their own. ‘The New York Herald,’ as conducted by James Gordon Bennett the First, modeled its scurrilous energy upon the Press of our own eighteenth century. The influence of Junius and the pamphleteers was discernible in its columns, and many of its articles might have been signed by Wilkes himself. But there was something in ‘The Herald’ which you would seek in vain in Perry’s ‘Morning Chronicle' say, or ‘The North Briton,’ and that was the free-and-easy style of the backwoods. Gordon Bennett grasped as well as any one the value of news. He boarded vessels far out at sea that he might forestall his rivals. In some respects he was as “yellow” as his successor, whose great exploit of employing a man convicted of murder to report the trial of a murderer is not likely to be forgotten. On the other hand, he set before New York the history of Europe and of European thought with appreciation and exactitude. He knew the theatre of England and France more intimately than most of his contemporaries, and he did a great deal to encourage the art of acting in his own country. But above all things he was a fighter, both with pen and fist. He had something of the spirit which inspired the old mining-camp. “We never saw the man we feared,” he once said, “nor the woman we had not some liking for.” That healthy, if primitive, sentiment breathes in all his works. And his magnanimity was equal to his courage. “I have no objection to forgive enemies,” he wrote, “particularly after I have trampled them under my feet.” This principle guided his life and his journal, and, while it gave a superb dash of energy to his style, it put a wholesome fear into the hearts and heads of his antagonists.

One antagonist there was who knew neither fear nor forgetfulness, and he attacked Bennett again and again. Bennett returned his blows, and then made most admirable “copy” of the assault. The last encounter between the two is so plainly characteristic of Bennett’s style that I quote his description in his own words. “As I was leisurely pursuing my business yesterday in Wall Street,” wrote Bennett, “collecting the information which is daily disseminated in ‘The Herald,’ James Watson Webb came up to me, on the northern side of the street— said something which I could not hear distinctly, then pushed me down the stone steps leading to one of the brokers’ offices, and commenced fighting with a species of brutal and demoniac desperation characteristic of a fury. My damage is a scratch, about three-quarters of an inch in length, on the third finger of the left hand, which I received from the iron railing I was forced against, and three buttons torn from my vest, which my tailor will reinstate for six cents. His loss is a rent from top to bottom of a very beautiful black coat, which cost the ruflian $40, and a blow in the face which may have knocked down his throat some of his infernal teeth for all I know. Balance in my favour $39.94. As to intimidating me, or changing my course, the thing cannot be done. Neither Webb nor any other man shall, or can, intimidate me. . . . I maybe attacked, I may be assailed, I may be killed, I may be murdered, but I will never succumb.”

There speaks the true Gordon Bennett, and his voice, though it may be the voice of a ruffian, is also the voice of a man who is certainly courageous and is not without humour. It is not from such a tradition as that, that the Yellow Press emerged. It does not want much pluck to hang about and sneak secrets. It is the pure negation of humour to preach socialism in the name of the criminal and degenerate. And the Yellow Press owes its vices to none of its predecessors, but to its own inherent stupidity. To judge America by this product would be monstrous unfair, but it corresponds perforce to some baser quality in the cosmopolitans of the United States, and it cannot be overlooked. As it stands, it is the heaviest indictment of the popular taste that can be made. There is no vice so mean as impertinent curiosity, and it is upon this curiosity that the Yellow Press meanly lives and meanly thrives.

What is the remedy? There is none, unless time brings with it a natural reaction. It is as desperate a task to touch the Press as to change the Constitution. The odds against reform are too great. A law to check the exuberance of newspapers would never survive the attacks of the news-papers themselves. Nor is it only in America that reform is necessary. The Press of Europe, also, has strayed so far from its origins as to be a danger to the State. In their inception the newspapers were given freedom, that they might expose and check the corruption and dishonesty of politicians. It was thought that publicity was the best cure for intrigue. For a while the liberty of the Press seemed justified. It is justified no longer. The licence which it assumed has led to far worse evils than those which it was designed to prevent. In other words, the slave has become a tyrant, and where is the statesman who shall rid us of this tyranny? Failure alone can kill what lives only upon popular success, and it is the old-fashioned, self-respecting journals which are facing ruin. Prosperity is with the large circulations, and a large circulation is no test of merit. Success is made neither by honesty nor wisdom. The people will buy what flatters its vanity or appeals to its folly. And the Yellow Press will flourish, with its headlines and its vulgarity, until the mixed population of America has sufficiently mastered the art of life and the English tongue to demand something better wherewith to solace its leisure than scandal and imbecility. CHARLES WHIBLEY.

The History of the Devil By Charles Carroll Everett 1895


The Devil By Charles Carroll Everett 1895

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Almost all peoples have recognized malignant, or at least harmful, spirits. The religious rites of many savages seem designed as a defence against evil rather than as an attempt to win what is good. These early rites are believed to have a certain magical power. If properly performed, the spirits or divinity will be compelled to grant the desire of the worshipper. Professor Roth derives the Sanskrit word for prayer, from which come the terms "Brahman " and "Brahma," from a root meaning "to constrain." Prayer was regarded as a controlling force which the gods could not resist. Above the level of the lowest savage tribes, when a few supernatural beings are regarded as well disposed towards man, the malevolent or harmful spirits still exist by their side. The Vedic hymns show a substratum of demoniacal activity. We find witches and incantations, and to some Vedic singers the air seemed filled with demons. The distinction between spiritual beings friendly or hostile to the worshipper, may be traced in nearly all the historical religions. The line, however, is not one sharply defined. It would be interesting to bring together the negative deities, the supernatural beings that were regarded as hostile to man, in order to compare them with one another, and seek their origin. Even the fair mythology of Greece had a place for these dark forces. But perhaps the Norse religion offers this realm of the negative supernatural under its most awful form. The Midgard serpent, the wolf Fenrir, and all the elements that were to be united in the terrible catastrophe in which the gods should be overthrown, impress the imagination most strongly. Here, too, we find those intermediate beings (giants) that it is not easy to classify as either good or evil.

When we seek the sources of the belief in malevolent supernatural beings, we find them to be exceedingly various. The idea of death has been fertile in such conceptions. Among the lower peoples, the spirits of the dead were regarded as objects of terror. Forms of evil-disposed beings are created by the nameless dread that is associated with death. Other forms are created by certain natural phenomena. From the diseases and the external forces that work harm arise a multitude of diabolical spirits. The deities connected with the religions of hostile peoples, or with religions that have been outgrown, have often been regarded as devils. Demons are also the product of an unbridled imagination. Given the notion of a hell, and the imagination will take a strange pleasure in peopling it with shapes of its own creation.

The sense of sin, no doubt, gives to the devil his most terrible aspect; but the world of demons was formed before this sense had differentiated itself from that of ceremonial impurity, or ritualistic error or neglect.


All these demons, however, are of a comparatively low order; they are very imperfect specimens of diabolical beings. They have been believed to work harm to men, but from this it does not follow that they were even malignant. Wherever man stands in a negative relation to the supernatural powers, they are regarded by him as more or less diabolical in their nature, although he may veil this feeling under a decorous phraseology. The gods of one religion are sometimes regarded as devils from the point of view of another religion. It is the relation of men to these beings, and not the nature of the beings themselves, that constitutes the difference.

The devil, in the highest sense of the word—that is, the lowest--should be a tempter. He must be malignant as well as harmful; must tempt to sin as well as produce physical harm; must do wrong, not by the way, but for the sake of wrong-doing; must love evil because it is evil, and must hate good because it is good. No being can be imagined as thus consciously and wholly evil who does not stand in the presence of an ideal of holiness which he hates, and against which he makes war. Holiness implies the possession of a conscious ideal of goodness, and the love of it. The divinity representing this ideal must be in a sense supreme. The kingdom of the devil is a hostile realm existing over against the Divine realm. The conditions under which the idea of a devil, in the full sense of the term, could be developed existed in the Mazdean religion, which was profoundly ethical. The highest divinity that it recognized was wholly good. Over against this was placed another being who was wholly evil.

It is now very generally admitted that the Jews received from the Parsees during the captivity in Babylon the questionable gift of the devil. Asmodeus, who figures in the apocryphal Book of Tobit, is none other than the Mazdean demon, Aeshma Deva, with hardly a change of name. Before the Captivity, the Jews recognized demons of a certain sort, but they were satyrs that haunted the wilderness. Satan first appears in the Book of Job, which such writers as Davidson, Driver, and Cheyne regard as belonging to the time of the Captivity. The writer may have been influenced by Mazdean ideas. The name Satan, however, has no foreign suggestion. The Satan of Job is still an angel, and is sceptical, not of righteousness in general, but of the righteousness of certain individuals. Satan, the adversary, the one who opposes, is really equivalent to "The Opposition" of the Mazdean books; and he is not properly called "Satan," but "the Satan." We cannot suppose that the Jews could at once admit the idea of an opposition to their God. It would take time for their stern monotheism to relax sufficiently to permit them to conceive even the possibility of this.

The next appearance of Satan is in the Book of Zechariah. Here he appears more diabolical, and is distinctly rebuked, but as he is spoken of as the "angel of the Lord," he has not yet become the real devil. In 1 Chron. xxi. 1 and 2 Sam. xxiv. 16 the development is completed. Satan appears at once as the enemy and the tempter. Though the notion of Satan came to the Jew from without, it came at a time when he was just ready to receive it. He had reached a point where he could no longer ascribe to the Lord some of the acts which before had not seemed foreign to His nature. To the Hebrew his God had been everything. He had been the Source of evil and of good. Now difficulties were felt, and relief was gained by shifting the evil on to a separate being, Satan, and relieving the Deity of everything that seemed unworthy of Him. Jewish and Christian thought did not develop a dualism like that found in the Mazdean religion. The Jewish and Christian devil was not thought of as a creator; he was himself created by God. But the fact that the notion of the devil was gradually evolved has been generally overlooked. And this oversight has introduced a singular confusion into the later thought of him. It has been assumed that the various characteristics he possessed at different times belonged to him permanently and collectively. And so the most contradictory functions have been ascribed to him.


In the New Testament the powers of evil are fully recognized. "The dragon, the old serpent, which is the devil and Satan," has commonly been supposed to be identical with the serpent that tempted Eve. But the serpent of the Book of Revelation bears so striking a resemblance to one of the most terrible of the Mazdean demons, that we can hardly fail to recognize it as primarily the same being. Azhi Dahaka is the "destructive serpent," a three-headed monster that keeps back the water in the clouds until he is overpowered by a divinity favourable to man. This destructive serpent was conquered and chained, and kept thus a prisoner till the time of the last battle, in which he was to be slain. In Revelation the serpent is imprisoned in the bottomless pit, and let loose for a time just before the final consummation. In the Mazdean books, the "serpent is burned in the molten metal;" in Revelation he is "cast into the lake of fire and brimstone."

Milton's devil is not purely devilish; after his fall, he is an archangel fallen. In the general thought of the devil in Christendom, the angelic position which he once occupied has been largely left out of the account. The mediaeval devil differs in many respects both from that of the Mazdeans and that of the New Testament. Grimm says, "He is at once of Jewish, Christian, heathen, heretical, elfish, gigantic, and spectral stock." It does not seem possible to trace the source of his limp and his cloven foot. The grotesque form of the mediaeval devil fitted him well for the place of buffoon which he sometimes filled in the Mysteries.

The pictured stupidity of the devil, the shrewdness so sharp that it defeats itself, the sight that is without insight, the assumption of omnipotence in one who is a vanishing element in God's universe, may be associated with an inner contradiction that underlies the entire notion of the devil. He seems to be something, yet he is really nothing.

In the struggle with sin there is a certain help in having the power of sin set over against the spirit. To have an enemy to deal with gives point to the struggle and definiteness to the blow.

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The Trinity Doctrine Denied by Unitarians by John Wright 1872


The Trinity Doctrine Denied by Unitarians by the Rev. John Wright, B.A., Bury 1872

THE belief in the Trinity is held by a great majority of the Christian world. The following are orthodox statements of the doctrine:—

"We worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one: the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal."-—Athanasian Creed.

"In unity of this Godhead, there be three Persons of one substance, power, and eternity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."—-First Article of the Church of England.

"In the Unity of the Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost."—-Westminster Confession of Faith.

This is a doctrine which it is utterly impossible to reconcile with reason. All Christians profess to believe in the Unity of God, a doctrine so plainly taught all through the Bible, that no one who takes the Bible as an authority can doubt it. The Trinitarian declares he believes God is One as much as the Unitarian. But then we ask how can God at the same time be three? The "persons" of the Trinity are spoken of separately, prayer is addressed to one apart from another, one is a Father, and another a Son, and another is said to proceed from the Father and the Son, how then can all three be one? If the doctrine of the Divine unity, as taught by the Hebrew prophets, and confirmed by Jesus Christ, be true, "The Lord our God is one Lord"—-how can there be included in this unity three separate persons? The doctrine is opposed to the simplest rules of arithmetic and the plainest teachings of common sense.

But orthodox teachers reply that religion is above reason, and that we must believe what we cannot understand; that there are mysteries which call for the exercise of faith, and this is one of them. I grant that there are truths which are above the human understanding, that the mind of man cannot for instance grasp the full conception of the Infinity or the Omnipresence of God, but may nevertheless believe in these attributes. But it is impossible for us to believe what is not above our reason but contrary to it, what is not a mystery — that is, a secret — but an absurdity, because a self-contradiction. Try, in the affairs of ordinary life, to persuade any one that three is the same as one, that the greater is equal to the less, and you will find it impossible. Ought these words then to be used in religion as synonomous? It is sometimes replied that the "three" are not separate beings, but modes, distinctions, or manifestations. If this is all, why is prayer offered to each, do we pray to a mode or a distinction, or call on a manifestation to help us, apart from the Being manifested? Such philosophical subtleties, while they aim at clearing away the difficulties felt by the reason, abandon the Trinity altogether. This is not the plain meaning of the passages I have quoted from orthodox creeds, and those who cannot support that meaning should candidly acknowledge that they reject the creed. He who believes that creed (as Lord Bacon says) "believes things his reason cannot comprehend; — believes three to be one and one to be three; a father not to be elder than his son; a son to be equal with his father, and one proceeding from both to be equal with both; he believes in three persons in one nature, and two natures in one person."— Works, Vol. II. p. 410.

The only reply that is made to such representations as these, by Trinitarians, is that the doctrine of the Trinity is taught in the Bible, and that however impossible it may be to understand it or to reconcile it with human reason, it must be received on the authority of Scripture. Let us enquire then if the Bible does teach it. We must have some very plain and certain proof on this point to convince us of the truth of a doctrine that is incomprehensible and self-contradictory. The word Trinity is not found in the Bible. Jesus Christ approves of and confirms the Hebrew teaching "the Lord our God is one Lord," {Mark xii. 29), and never hints that there is any division of persons in the Godhead. Paul preached many discourses to both Jews and Gentiles, and wrote many letters to his converts, yet he never teaches this, now said to be the fundamental doctrine of Christianity. It cannot be expressed in the words of Scripture. Not one single text can be quoted in which its truth is asserted. No unprejudiced reader, who had never heard of the Trinity, would learn anything about it from the Bible.

Let us examine the passages of Scripture on which the believers in the Trinity depend for its support.

Gen. i. 26, "Let us make man in our image." The fact that the pronouns are plural, and that the Hebrew name for God has a plural ending, is said to prove that there are a plurality of persons in the Godhead. But this would equally well serve to prove that there are many Gods, if it proved anything. The fact is however, as many orthodox learned men have acknowledged, that the plural is used simply by way of dignity, just as a monarch in our own times commences a proclamation with we instead of I, and says "given at our palace." The Hebrews themselves, who are the best judges of their own language, universally give this explanation, and none of them ever dream of any doctrine at variance with the Divine Unity being taught in this text.

Matt. xxviii. 19, "baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost." Observe nothing is said here of the three persons mentioned together forming one God. To "baptise in the name" is equivalent to baptising in the belief, and this text signifies that those who were received as Christian conveits were to declare their belief in God, in Christ and in the Holy Spirit; but not that the three are one. We have a similar expression, 1 Cor. x. 2, "baptised unto Moses," but no one concludes thence that Moses was God. So (Romans vi. 3), the disciples of Christ are said to be baptised into his death, that is into a profession of their belief of his death. We do not find in the Acts of the Apostles that the first Christian preachers used the formula given by Matthew, but they simply baptised into the name of Christ. Would they have failed to use the threefold formula if it had been significant of an important doctrine? Compare these words with the declarations of the doctrine contained in modern creeds, and it will be seen how the one fails to confirm the other.

II. Cor. xiii. 14, "the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all."

Here again three are mentioned, but it is neither said nor hinted that they are one, or that they are God. On the contrary God is spoken of apart from the other two, which could not be the case, if they also were God. It will hardly be asserted that the mention of another in the same sentence with God proves that this other is God. We read Ex. xiv. 31, "the people feared the Lord and believed the Lord and his servant Moses." I. Sam. xii. 18, "the people feared the Lord and Samuel." 1 Chron. xxix. 20, "worshipped the Lord and the king." Unless these texts prove that Moses, Samuel, and David were one with Jehovah, the texts we are considering cannot prove Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to be one with God.

1 John v. 7, has often been quoted in support of the Trinity, but it is now generally acknowledged that this verse is an interpolation, and ought not to appear in the Bible. It is contained in no Greek manuscript written before the 15th century, in no Latin manuscript before the 9th century, in no ancient version. It was omitted by Zuinglius, Luther and Griesbach, and in the old English Bibles was printed in smaller type or between brackets. Its spuriousness has been admitted by learned Trinitarians of all denominations.

It has been shown (1) that the doctrine of the Trinity is self-contradictory and unreasonable; (2) that it is not taught plainly and explicitly in the Bible; (3) that it is opposed to the declarations of Christ and his apostles; (4) that the texts quoted in support of it do not express it. Why then should we receive it? Has it any important practical influence? Does it tend to make men pious and virtuous? Can it be expressed in Scripture language? Can it be put in any form that will reconcile it with common sense or recommend it to the human understanding? Let Christians ponder these questions, and if they find themselves compelled to answer "no" to them, let no power of fashion or custom or prejudice, no sanction of antiquity or Church authority induce them to profess a belief in a doctrine they can neither understand nor defend.


Pythagoras and the Discovery of Music By Charles Anthon 1841


Pythagoras and the Discovery of Music By Charles Anthon 1841

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Pythagoras considered music not only as an art to he judged of by the ear, but as a science to be reduced to mathematical principles and proportions. The musical chords are said to have been discovered by him in the following manner: As he was one day reflecting on this subject, happening to pass by a blacksmith's forge where several men were successively striking with their hammers a piece of heated iron upon an anvil, he remarked that all the sounds produced by their strokes were harmonious except one. The sounds which he observed to be chords were the octave, the fifth, and the third but that sound which he perceived to lie between the third and the fifth he found to be discordant. Going into the workshop, he observed that the diversity of sounds arose, not from the forms of the hammers nor from the force with which they were struck, nor from the position of the iron, but merely from the difference of weight in the hammers. Taking, therefore the exact weight of the several hammers, he went home and suspended four strings of the same substance length and thickness, and twisted in the same degree and hung a weight at the lower end of each, respectively, equal to the weight of the hammers; upon striking the strings, he found that the musical chords of the strings corresponded with those of the hammers. Hence it is said that he proceeded to form a musical scale, and to construct stringed instruments. His scale was, after his death, engraved on brass, and preserved in the temple of Juno at Samos. Pythagoras conceived that the celestial spheres in which the planets move, striking upon the ether through which they pass, must produce a sound, and that this sound must vary according to the diversity of their magnitude, velocity, and relative distance. Taking it for granted that everything respecting the heavenly bodies is adjusted with perfect regularity, he farther imagined that all the circumstances necessary to render the sounds produced by their motions harmonious, were fixed in such exact proportions, that the most perfect harmony was produced by their revolutions. This fanciful doctrine respecting the music of the spheres gave rise is the names which Pythagoras applied to musical tones. The last note in the musical octave he called Hypate, because he supposed the sphere of Saturn, the highest planet, to give the deepest tone; and the highest note he called Neate, from the sphere of the moon, which, being the lowest or nearest the earth, he imagined produced the shrillest sound. In like manner of the rest. It was said of Pythagoras by his followers, who hesitated at no assertion, however improbable, which might seem to exalt their master's fame, that he was the only mortal so far favoured by the gods as to have been permitted to hear the celestial music of the spheres.

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Anne Hutchinson: The Spirit of Religious Liberty

Anne Hutchinson: The Spirit of Religious Liberty

Each week, Mr. Reed will relate the stories of people whose choices and actions make them heroes. See the table of contents for previous installments.

Opinions of Anne Hutchinson have, shall we say, covered the waterfront.
In his masterful tome, Conceived in Liberty, 20th-century economist and libertarian historian Murray Rothbard cast her as a staunch individualist and the greatest threat to the “despotic Puritanical theocracy of Massachusetts Bay.”

John Winthrop, the 2nd, 6th, 9th, and 12th governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, thought she was a “hell-spawned agent of destructive anarchy” and “a woman of haughty and fierce carriage, a nimble wit and active spirit, a very voluble tongue, more bold than a man.”

The state of Massachusetts apparently agrees with Rothbard. A monument in the State House in Boston today calls her a “courageous exponent of civil liberty and religious toleration.” She was, in fact, the preeminent female crusader for a free society in 18th-century New England, for which she paid first with banishment and ultimately with her life.

The story is bound intimately to the “antinomian” or “free grace” controversy involving both religion and gender. It raged in Massachusetts for the better part of two years, from 1636 to 1638. Hutchinson was an unconventional, charismatic woman who dared to challenge church doctrine as well as the role of women in even discussing such things in a male-dominated society. In Saints and Sectaries: Anne Hutchinson and the Antinomian Controversy in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, historian Emery Battis wrote,

Gifted with a magnetism which is imparted to few, she had, until the hour of her fall, warm adherents far outnumbering her enemies, and it was only by dint of skillful maneuvering that the authorities were able to loosen her hold on the community.

Antinomianism literally means “against the law” and was a term of derision applied against Hutchinson and her “free grace” followers. While the Puritan establishment in Massachusetts argued, as good “Reformers” of the day did, that Christian understanding derived from scripture alone (“Sola Scriptura”), the antinomians placed additional emphasis on an “inner light” by which the Holy Spirit imparted wisdom and guidance to believing individuals, one at a time.

“As I do understand it,” Hutchinson herself explained, “laws, commands, rules and edicts are for those who have not the light which makes plain the pathway. He who has God’s grace in his heart cannot go astray.”

As America’s first feminist, and a woman of conscience and principle, Anne Hutchinson planted seeds of libertarianism that would grow and help establish a new nation a little more than a century later.


Barely a century after Martin Luther sparked the great divide known as the Reformation, the Protestant leaders of Massachusetts saw antinomianism as dangerously heretical. Their theological forebears broke from Rome in part because they saw the teachings of priests, bishops and popes as the words of presumptuous intermediaries — diversions by mortals from the divine word of God. When Anne Hutchinson and other antinomians spoke of this supplemental “inner light,” it seemed to the Puritan establishment that the Reformation itself was being undone. Worse still, Hutchinson accused church leaders in Massachusetts of reverting to the pre-Reformation notion of “justification by works” instead of the Martin Luther/John Calvin perspective of justification by faith alone through God’s “free grace.”

In England where she was born in 1591, Hutchinson had followed the teachings of the dynamic preacher John Cotton, from whom she traced some of her anti-establishment ideas. When Cotton was compelled to leave the country in 1633, Hutchinson and her family followed him to New England. There she would live until her death just 10 years later, stirring up one fuss after another and serving as an active midwife and caregiver to the sick simultaneously. That she found the time to do all this while raising 15 children of her own is a tribute to her energy and passion.

Hutchinson organized discussion groups (“conventicles”) attended by dozens of women and eventually many men, too. This in itself was a bold move. It was empowering especially to the women, who were supposed to remain quiet and subordinate to their husbands, particularly in matters of religion and governance. But Hutchinson’s meetings were full of critical talk about the “errors” in recent sermons and the intolerant ways in which the men of Massachusetts ran the colony. Her influence grew rapidly and by all accounts, Boston became a stronghold of antinomianism while the countryside aligned with the establishment. It was only a matter of time before religious and gender differences spilled over into politics.

In 1636, Hutchinson and her antinomian, “free grace” allies such as Cotton, Reverend John Wheelwright, and Governor Henry Vale came under blistering attack by the orthodox Puritan clergy. In churches and public meetings, they were assailed as heretics and disturbers of the peace who threatened the very existence of the Puritan experiment in New England. Accusations of immoral sexual conduct, thoroughly unfounded, swirled in the flurry. Cotton was sidelined by the pressure. Wheelwright was found guilty of “contempt & sedition” for having “purposely set himself to kindle and increase” strife within the colony and was banished from Massachusetts. Vale was defeated for reelection and a Hutchinson enemy, John Winthrop, became governor in 1637. Despite initial wavering under the intense pressure, Hutchinson held firm.

In November 1637, Winthrop arranged for Hutchinson to be put on trial on the charge of slandering the ministers of Massachusetts Bay. He declared that she had “troubled the peace of the commonwealth and churches” by promoting unsanctioned opinions and holding unauthorized meetings in her home. Though she had never voiced her views outside of the conventicles she held, or ever signed any statements or petitions about them, Winthrop portrayed her as a coconspirator who had goaded others to challenge authority. Before the court, with Hutchinson present, he charged:

You have spoken divers things as we have been informed [which are] very prejudicial to the honour of the churches and ministers thereof, and you have maintained a meeting and an assembly in your house that hath been condemned by the general assembly as a thing not tolerable nor comely in the sight of God nor fitting for your sex.

Hutchinson mostly stonewalled the prosecution, but occasionally shot back with a fiery rejoinder like this one: “Do you think it not lawful for me to teach women, and why do you call me to teach the court?”

The first day of the trial went reasonably well for her. One biographer, Richard Morris, said she “outfenced the magistrates in a battle of wits.” Another biographer, Eve LaPlante, wrote, “Her success before the court may have astonished her judges, but it was no surprise to her. She was confident of herself and her intellectual tools, largely because of the intimacy she felt with God.”
The second day didn’t go so well after a moment of high drama when Hutchinson cut loose with this warning:

You have no power over my body, neither can you do me any harm — for I am in the hands of the eternal Jehovah, my Saviour. I am at his appointment, the bounds of my habitation are cast in heaven, no further do I esteem of any mortal man than creatures in his hand, I fear none but the great Jehovah, which hath foretold me of these things, and I do verily believe that he will deliver me out of your hands. Therefore take heed how you proceed against me — for I know that, for this you go about to do to me, God will ruin you and your posterity and this whole state.

What Winthrop and his prosecutors hadn’t yet proved, Hutchinson handed them in one stroke. This was all the evidence of “sedition” and “contempt of court” that they needed. She was convicted, labeled an instrument of the devil and “a woman not fit for our society,” and banished from Massachusetts Bay. This was the verdict of her civil trial. She would be detained for four months under house arrest, rarely able to see her family, until a church trial that would determine her fate as a member of the Puritan faith. In that trial, because she would not admit to certain theological mistakes, she was formally excommunicated with this denunciation from Reverend Thomas Shepard:

I do cast you out and deliver you up to Satan ... and account you from this time forth to be a Heathen and a Publican ... I command you in the name of Christ Jesus and of this Church as a Leper to withdraw yourself out of the Congregation.

Hutchinson, her husband William, and their children departed Boston in April 1638. They trudged for nearly a week in the snow to get to Providence, Rhode Island, founded by Roger Williams as a haven for persecuted minorities. Five years later, on a terrible day in August 1643, Anne and her entire family but for one daughter were massacred by marauding Siwanoy Indians.

The woman who rocked a colony was gone, but as Rothbard writes, “the spirit of liberty that she embodied and kindled was to outlast the despotic theocracy of Massachusetts Bay.”

As America’s first feminist, and a woman of conscience and principle, Anne Hutchinson planted seeds of libertarianism that would grow and help establish a new nation a little more than a century later.
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Lawrence W. Reed
Lawrence W. Reed
Lawrence W. Reed is President of the Foundation for Economic Education and the author of the book Real Heroes: Inspiring True Stories of Courage, Character and Conviction. Follow on Twitter and Like on Facebook.
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Animal Ghosts by T. F. Thiselton Dyer 1893


Animal Ghosts by T. F. Thiselton Dyer 1893

See also Forgotten Tales of Ghosts and Hauntings - 100 Books on CDrom

It is the rule rather than the exception for ghosts to take the form of animals. A striking feature of this form of animism is its universality, an argument, it is said, in favour of its having originally sprung from the old theory of metempsychosis which has pertinaciously existed in successive stages of the world’s culture. ‘Possibly,’ it has been suggested, ‘the animal form of ghosts is a mark of the once-supposed divinity of the dead. Ancestor worship is one of the oldest of the creeds, and in all mythologies we find that the gods could transform themselves into any shape at will, and frequently took those of beasts and birds.’ At the same time, one would scarcely expect to come across nowadays this fanciful belief in our own and other civilised countries, and yet instances are of constant occurrence, being deeply rooted in many a local tradition. Acts of injustice done to a person cause the soul to return in animal form by way of retribution. Thus, in Cornwall, it is a very popular fancy that when a young woman who has loved not wisely but too well dies forsaken and broken-hearted, she comes back to haunt her deceiver in the form of a white hare. This phantom pursues the false one everywhere, being generally invisible to everyone but himself. It occasionally rescues him from danger, but invariably causes his death in the end. A Shropshire story tells how ‘two or three generations back there was a lady buried in her jewels at Fitz, and afterwards the clerk robbed her; and she used to walk Cuthery Hollow in the form of a colt. They called it Obrick’s Colt, and one night the clerk met it, and fell on his knees, saying, “Abide, Satan! abide! I am a righteous man, and a psalm singer.”’ The ghost was known as Obrick’s Colt from the name of the thief, who, as the peasantry were wont to say, ‘had niver no pace atter; a was sadly troubled in his yed, and mithered.’

Sometimes the spirit in animal form is that of a wicked person doomed to wear that shape for some offence. A man who hanged himself at Broomfield, near Shrewsbury, ‘came again in the form of a large black dog;’ and an amusing Shropshire story is told of the laying of an animal ghost at Bagbury, which took the form of a roaring bull, and caused no small alarm. This bull, it appears, had been a very bad man, but when his unexpected presence as a bull-ghost terrified the neighbourhood, it was deemed desirable by the twelve parsons whose help had been invoked to run him to earth in Hyssington Church, with candles and all the paraphernalia employed on such occasions. But the bull, becoming infuriated, ‘made such a bust that he cracked the wall of the church from the top to the bottom.’ Their efforts were ultimately successful, for they captured him, and as he was compressible, they shut him up in a snuff-box, and laid him in the Red Sea for a thousand years.
Lady Howard, a Devonshire notable of the time of James I., in spite of her beauty and accomplishments, had many bad qualities, and amongst others was not only guilty of unnatural cruelty to her only daughter, but had a mysterious knack of getting rid of her husbands, having been married no less than four times. Her misdemeanours, however, did not escape with impunity, for, on her death, her spirit was transformed into a hound, and compelled to run every night, between midnight and cockcrow, from the gateway of Fitzford, her former residence, to Oakhampton Park, and bring back to the place from whence she started a blade of grass in her mouth, and this penance she is doomed to continue till every blade of grass is removed from the park, which she will not be able to effect till the end of the world.

Many spectral dogs, believed to be the souls of wicked persons, are said to haunt the sides of rivers and pools, and the story goes that there once lived in the hamlet of Dean Combe, Devon, a weaver of great fame and skill. After a prosperous life he died, but the next day he appeared sitting at the loom and working diligently as when he was alive. His sons applied to the parson, who, hearing the noise of the weaver’s shuttle above, cried, ‘Knowles! come down; this is no place for thee.’ ‘I will,’ said the weaver, ‘as soon as I have worked out my quill’ (the quill is the shuttle-full of wool). ‘Nay,’ said the vicar, ‘thou hast been long enough at thy work, come down at once!’ So when the spirit came down, the vicar took a handful of earth from the churchyard, and threw it on its face, and instantly it became a black hound. Then the vicar took a nutshell with a hole in it, and led the hound to the pool below the waterfall. ‘Take this shell,’ he said, ‘and when thou shalt have dipped out the pool with it, thou mayest rest, not before.’ On the west coast of Ireland, fishermen have a strong prejudice against killing seals, owing to a popular tradition that they enshrined ‘the souls of them that were drowned at the flood.’ It was also said that such seals possessed the power of casting aside their external skins, and disporting themselves in human form on the sea-shore.


Within the parish of Tring, Hertford, a poor old woman was drowned in 1751 for suspected witchcraft. A chimney-sweeper, who was the principal perpetrator of this deed, was hanged and gibbeted near the place where the murder was committed; and while the gibbet stood, and long after it had disappeared, the spot was haunted by a black dog. A correspondent of the ‘Book of Days’ (ii. 433) says that he was told by the village schoolmaster, who had been ‘abroad,’ that he himself had seen this diabolical dog. ‘I was returning home,’ said he, ‘late at night in a gig with the person who was driving. When we came near the spot, where a portion of the gibbet had lately stood, he saw on the bank of the roadside a flame of fire as large as a man’s hat. “What’s that?” I exclaimed. “Hush!” said my companion, and suddenly pulling in his horse, made a dead stop. I then saw an immense black dog just in front of our horse, the strangest looking creature I ever beheld. He was as big as a Newfoundland, but very gaunt, shaggy, with long ears and tail, eyes like balls of fire, and large, long teeth, for he opened his mouth and seemed to grin at us. In a few minutes the dog disappeared, seeming to vanish like a shadow, or to sink into the earth, and we drove on over the spot where he had lain.’

Occasionally, when loss of life has happened through an accident, a spectre animal of some kind has been afterwards seen. Some years ago an accident happened in a Cornish mine, whereby several men lost their lives. As soon as help could be procured, a party descended, but the remains of the poor fellows were discovered to be mutilated beyond recognition. On being brought up to the surface, the clothes and a mass of mangled flesh dropped from the bodies. A bystander, anxious to spare the feelings of the relatives present, quickly cast the unsightly mass into the blazing furnace of an engine close at hand. But ever since that day the engineman positively asserted that troops of little black dogs continually haunted the locality. Then there is the pretty legend mentioned by Wordsworth in his poem entitled, ‘The White Doe of Rylstone,’ in which is embodied a Yorkshire tradition to the effect that the lady founder of Bolton Abbey revisited the ruins of the venerable structure in the form of a spotless white doe:

Which, though seemingly doomed in its breast to sustain
A softened remembrance of sorrow and pain,
Is spotless, and holy, and gentle, and bright,
And glides o’er the earth like an angel of light.

So common in France are human ghosts in bestial form, ‘that M. D’Assier has invented a Darwinian way of accounting for the phenomena. M. D’Assier, a positivist, is a believer in ghosts, but not in the immortality of the soul. He suggests that the human revenants in the guise of sheep, cows, and shadowy creatures may be accounted for by a kind of Atavism, or “throwing back,” on the side of the spirit to the lower animal forms out of which humanity was developed!’

According to a German piece of folk-lore, the soul takes the form of a snake, a notion we find shared by the Zulus, who revere a certain kind of serpents as the ghosts of the dead; and the Northern Indians speak of a serpent coming out of the mouth of a woman at death. It is further related that out of the mouth of a sleeping person a snake creeps and goes a long distance, and that whatever it sees, or suffers, on its way, the sleeper dreams of. If it is prevented from returning, the person dies. Another belief tells us that the soul occasionally escapes from the mouth in the shape of a weasel or a mouse, a superstition to which Goethe alludes in ‘Faust’:

Ah! in the midst of her song,
A red mouseskin sprang out of her mouth.

Turning to similar beliefs current among distant nations, we are told that the Andaman Islanders had a notion that at death the soul vanished from the earth in the form of various animals and fishes; and in Guinea, monkeys found in the locality of a graveyard are supposed to be animated by the spirits of the dead. As Mr. Andrew Lang remarks: ‘Among savages who believe themselves to be descended from beasts, nothing can be more natural than the hypothesis that the souls revert to bestial shapes.’ Certain of the North American Indian tribes believe that the spirits of their dead enter into bears; and some of the Papuans in New Guinea ‘imagine they will reappear as certain of the animals in their own island. The cassowary and the emu are the most remarkable animals that they know of; they have lodged in them the shades of their ancestors, and hence the people abstain from eating them.’ Spiritualism, we are told, is very widely spread among the Esquimos, who maintain that all animals have their spirits, and that the spirits of men can enter into the bodies of animals. In the Ladrone Islands it was supposed that the spirits of the dead animated the bodies of the fish, and ‘therefore to make better use of these precious spirits, they burnt the soft portions of the dead body, and swallowed the cinders which they let float on the top of their cocoa-nut wine.’

In most parts of England there is a popular belief in a spectral dog, which is generally described as ‘large, shaggy, and black, with long ears and tail. It does not belong to any species of living dogs, but is severally said to represent a hound, a setter, a terrier, or a shepherd dog, though often larger than a Newfoundland.’ It is commonly supposed to be a bad spirit, haunting places where evil deeds have been done, or where some calamity may be expected. In Lancashire, this spectre-dog is known as ‘Trash’ and ‘Striker,’ its former name having been applied to it from the peculiar noise made by its feet, which is supposed to resemble that of a person walking along a miry, sloppy road, with heavy shoes; and its latter appellation from its uttering a curious screech, which is thought to warn certain persons of the approaching death of some relative or friend. If followed, it retreats with its eyes fronting its pursuer, and either sinks into the ground with a frightful shriek, or in some mysterious manner disappears. When struck, the weapon passes through it as if it were a mere shadow. In Norfolk and Cambridgeshire this apparition is known to the peasantry by the name of ‘shuck’—the provincial word for ‘shag’—and is reported to haunt churchyards and other lonely places. A dreary lane in the parish of Overstrand is called from this spectral animal ‘Shuck’s Lane,’ and it is said that if the spot where it has been seen be examined after its disappearance, it will be found to be scorched, and strongly impregnated with the smell of brimstone. Mrs. Latham tells how a man of notoriously bad character, who lived in a lonely spot at the foot of the South Downs, without any companion of either sex, was believed to be nightly haunted by evil spirits in the form of rats. Persons passing by his cottage late at night heard him cursing them, and desiring them to let him rest in peace. It was supposed they were sent to do judgment on him, and would carry him away some night. But he received his death-blow in a drunken brawl.

In the neighbourhood of Leeds there is the Padfoot, a weird apparition about the size of a small donkey, ‘with shaggy hair and large eyes like saucers.’ Mr. Baring-Gould relates how a man in Horbury once saw ‘the Padfooit,’ which ‘in this neighbourhood is a white dog like a “flay-craw.”’ It goes sometimes on two legs, sometimes it runs on three, and to see it is a prognostication of death. He was going home by Jenkin, and he saw a white dog in the hedge. He struck at it, and the stick passed through it. Then the white dog looked at him, and it had ‘great saucer e’en’; and he was so ‘flayed,’ that he ran home trembling and went to bed, when he fell ill and died. With this strange apparition may be compared the Barguest, Bahrgeist, or Boguest of Northumberland, Durham, and Yorkshire, and the Boggart of Lancashire; an uncanine creature, which generally assumes the form of a large black dog with flaming eyes, and is supposed to be a presage of death. The word ‘barguest,’ according to Sir Walter Scott, is from the German ‘bahrgeist’—spirit of the bier; and, as it has been pointed out, the proverbial expression to ‘war like a Barguest,’ shows how deep a hold this apparition once had on the popular mind. There is a Barguest in a glen between Darlington and Houghton, near Throstlenest, and another haunted a piece of waste land above a spring called the Oxwells, between Wreghorn and Headingly Hill, near Leeds. On the death of any person of local importance in the neighbourhood the creature would come forth, followed by all the dogs barking and howling. Another form of this animal spectre is the Capelthwaite, which, according to common report, had the power of appearing in the form of any quadruped, but usually chose that of a large black dog. It does not seem to have appeared of late years, for tradition tells how a vicar of Beetham went out in his ecclesiastical vestments to lay this troublesome spirit in the River Bela.

In Wales, there is the Gwyllgi, or ‘dog of darkness,’ a terrible spectre of a mastiff which, with a baleful breath and blazing red eyes, has often inspired terror even amongst the strong-minded Welsh peasantry. Many stories are told of its encountering unwary travellers, who have been so overcome by its unearthly howl, or by the glare of its fiery eyes, that they have fallen senseless on the ground. A certain lane, leading from Mowsiad to Lisworney-Crossways, is said to have been haunted by a Gwyllgi of the most terrible aspect. A farmer, living near there, was one night returning home from market on a young mare, when suddenly the animal shied, reared, tumbled the farmer off, and bolted for home. The farm-servants, finding the mare trembling by the barn door, suspected she had seen the Gwyllgi, and going in search of their master, they found him on his back in the mud, who, being questioned, protested ‘it was the Gwyllgi, and nothing less, that had made all this trouble.’

It is a popular belief in Wales that horses have the peculiar ‘gift’ of seeing spectres, and carriage horses have been known to display every sign of the utmost terror when the occupants of the carriage could see no cause for alarm. Such an apparition is an omen of death, and an indication that a funeral will pass before long, bearing to the grave some person not dead at the time of the horses’ fright. Another famous dog-fiend, in the shape of a shaggy spaniel, was the ‘Mauthe Doog,’ which was said to haunt Peel Castle, Isle of Man. Its favourite place was the guard-chamber, where it would lie down by the fireside. According to Waldron, ‘the soldiers lost much of their terror by the frequency of the sight; yet, as they believed it to be an evil spirit waiting for an opportunity to hinder them, the belief kept them so far in order that they refrained from swearing in its presence. But, as the Mauthe Doog used to come out and return by the passage through the church, by which also somebody must go to deliver the keys every night to the captain, they continued to go together; he whose turn it was to do that duty being accompanied by the next in rotation. On a certain night, however, one of the soldiers, being the worse for liquor, would go with the key alone, though it really was not his turn. His comrades tried to dissuade him, but he said he wanted the Mauthe Doog’s company, and would try whether he was dog or devil. Soon afterwards a great noise alarmed the soldiers; and when the adventurer returned, he was struck with horror and speechless, nor could he even make such signs as might give them to understand what had happened to him; but he died with distorted features in violent agony. After this the apparition was never seen again.’

Then there are the packs of spectral hounds, which some folk-lorists tell us are evil spirits that have assumed this form in order to mimic the sports of men, or to hunt their souls. They are variously named in different parts of the country—being designated in the North, ‘Gabriel’s Hounds’; in Devon, the ‘Wisk,’ ‘Yesk,’ ‘Yeth,’ or ‘Heath Hounds’; in Wales, ‘Cwn Annwn’ or ‘Cwn y Wybr’; and in Cornwall, the ‘Devil and his Dandy-Dogs.’ Such spectral hounds are generally described as ‘monstrous human-headed dogs,’ and ‘black, with fiery eyes and teeth, and sprinkled all over with blood.’ They are often heard though seldom seen, ‘and seem to be passing along simply in the air, as if in hot pursuit of their prey’; and when they appear to hang over a house, then death or misfortune may shortly be expected. In the gorge of Cliviger the spectre huntsman, under the name of ‘Gabriel Ratchets,’ with his hounds yelping through the air, is believed to hunt a milk-white doe round the Eagle’s Crag, in the Vale of Todmorden, on All Hallows Eve. Mr. Holland, of Sheffield, has embodied the local belief in the subjoined sonnet, and says: ‘I never can forget the impression made upon my mind when once arrested by the cry of these Gabriel hounds as I passed the parish church of Sheffield one densely dark and very still night. The sound was exactly like the questing of a dozen beagles on the foot of a race, but not so loud, and highly suggestive of ideas of the supernatural.'

Oft have I heard my honoured mother say,
How she has listened to the Gabriel hounds—
Those strange, unearthly, and mysterious sounds
Which on the ear through murkiest darkness fell;
And how, entranced by superstitious spell,
The trembling villager nor seldom heard,
In the quaint notes of the nocturnal bird,
Of death premonished, some sick neighbour’s knell.
I, too, remember, once at midnight dark,
How these sky-yelpers startled me, and stirred
My fancy so, I could have then averred
A mimic pack of beagles low did bark.
Nor wondered I that rustic fear should trace
A spectral huntsman doomed to that long moonless chase.

In the neighbourhood of Leeds these hounds are known as ‘Gabble Retchets,’ and are supposed, as in other places, to be the souls of unbaptized children who flit restlessly about their parents’ abode. The Yeth hounds were heard some few years ago in the parish of St. Mary Tavy by an old man named Roger Burn. He was walking in the fields, when he suddenly heard the baying of the hounds, the shouts and horn of the huntsman, and the smacking of his whip. The last point the old man quoted as at once settling the question, ‘How could I be mistaken? Why, I heard the very smacking of his whip.’

But, as Mr. Yarrell has long ago explained, this mysterious noise is caused by bean-geese, which, coming southwards in large flocks on the approach of winter—partly from Scotland and its islands, but chiefly from Scandinavia—choose dark nights for their migration, and utter a loud and very peculiar cry. The sound of these birds has been observed in every part of England, and as far west as Cornwall. One day a man was riding alone near Land’s End on a still dark night, when the yelping cry broke out above his head so suddenly, and to appearance so near, that he instinctively pulled up the horse as if to allow the pack to pass, the animal trembling violently at the unexpected sounds.

An amusing account of the devil and his dandy-dogs is given by Mr. J. Q. Couch, in his ‘Folk-lore of a Cornish Village,’ from which it appears that ‘a poor herdsman was journeying homeward across the moors one windy night, when he heard at a distance among the Tors the baying of hounds, which he soon recognised as the dismal chorus of the dandy-dogs. It was three or four miles to his house, and, very much alarmed, he hurried onward as fast as the treacherous nature of the soil and the uncertainty of the path would allow; but, alas! the melancholy yelping of the hounds, and the dismal holloa of the hunter, came nearer and nearer. After a considerable run they had so gained upon him that on looking back—oh, horror! he could distinctly see hunter and dogs. The former was terrible to look at, and had the usual complement of saucer-eyes, horns, and tail accorded by common consent to the legendary devil. He was black, of course, and carried in his hand a long hunting pole. The dogs, a numerous pack, blackened the small patch of moor that was visible, each snorting fire, and uttering a yelp of indescribably frightful tone. No cottage, rock, or tree was near to give the herdsman shelter, and nothing apparently remained to him but to abandon himself to their fury, when a happy thought suddenly flashed upon him and suggested a resource. Just as they were about to rush upon him, he fell on his knees in prayer. There was a strange power in the holy words he uttered, for immediately, as if resistance had been offered, the hell hounds stood at bay, howling more dismally than ever, and the hunter shouted, “Bo Shrove,” which means “The boy prays,” at which they all drew off on some other pursuit and disappeared.’

Gervase of Tilbury informs us that in the thirteenth century the wild hunt was often seen by full moon in England traversing forest and down. In the twelfth century it was known as the Herlething, the banks of the Wye having been the scene of the most frequent chases.

In Wales, the Cwn Annwn, or Dogs of Hell, or, as they are sometimes called, ‘Dogs of the Sky,’ howl through the air ‘with a voice frightfully disproportionate to their size, full of a wild sort of lamentation,’ but, although terrible to hear, they are harmless, and have never been known to commit any mischief. One curious peculiarity is that the nearer these spectral hounds are to a man, the less loud their voices sound; and the farther off they are, the louder is their cry. According to one popular tradition, they are supposed to be hunting through the air the soul of the wicked man the instant it quits the body.

This superstition occupies, too, a conspicuous place in the folk-lore of Germany and Norway. Mr. Baring-Gould, in his ‘Iceland, its Scenes and Sages,’ describes it as he heard it from his guide Jon, who related it to him under the title of the ‘Yule Host.’ He tells us how ‘Odin, or Wodin, is the wild huntsman who nightly tears on his white horse over the German and Norwegian forests and moor-sweeps, with his legion of hell hounds. Some luckless woodcutter, on a still night, is returning through the pine-woods when suddenly his ear catches a distant wail; a moan rolls through the interlacing branches; nearer and nearer comes the sound. There is the winding of a long horn waxing louder and louder, the baying of hounds, the rattle of hoofs and paws on the pine-tree tops.’ This spectral chase goes by different names. In Thuringia and elsewhere it is ‘Hakelnberg’ or ‘Hackelnbärend,’ and the story goes that Hakelnberg was a knight passionately fond of the chase, who, on his death-bed, would not listen to the priest, but said, ‘I care not for heaven, I care only for the chase.’ Then ‘hunt until the last day,’ exclaimed the priest. And now, through storm and sunshine, he fleets, a faint barking or yelping in the air announcing his approach. Thorpe quotes a similar story as current in the Netherlands, and in Denmark it occurs under various forms. In Schleswig it is Duke Abel, who slew his brother in 1252. Tradition says that in an expedition against the Frieslanders, he sank into a deep morass as he was fording the Eyder, where, being encumbered with the weight of his armour, he was slain. His body was buried in the Cathedral, but his spirit found no rest. The canons dug up the corpse, and buried it in a morass near Gottorp, but in the neighbourhood of the place where he is buried all kinds of shrieks and strange sounds have been heard, and ‘many persons worthy of credit affirm that they have heard sounds so resembling a huntsman’s horn, that anyone would say that a hunter was hunting there. It is, indeed, the general rumour that Abel has appeared to many, black of aspect, riding on a small horse, and accompanied by three hounds, which appear to be burning like fire.’ In Sweden, when a noise like that of carriage and horses is heard at night, the people say, ‘Odin is passing by,’ and in Norway this spectral hunt is known as the ‘Chase of the inhabitants of Asgarth.’ In Danzig, the leader of the hounds is Dyterbjernat, i.e. Diedrick of Bern. Near Fontainebleau, Hugh Capet is supposed to ride, having, it is said, rushed over the palace with his hounds before the assassination of Henry IV.; and at Blois, the hunt is called the ‘Chasse Macabee.’ In some parts of France the wild huntsman is known as Harlequin, or Henequin, and in the Franche Comté he is ‘Herod in pursuit of the Holy Innocents.’ This piece of folk-lore is widespread, and it may be added that in Normandy, the Pyrenees, and in Scotland, King Arthur has the reputation of making nightly rides.

Another form of spectre animal is the kirk-grim, which is believed to haunt many churches. Sometimes it is a dog, sometimes a pig, sometimes a horse, the haunting spectre being the spirit of an animal buried alive in the churchyard for the purpose of scaring away the sacrilegious. Swedish tradition tells how it was customary for the early founders of Christian churches to bury a lamb under the altar. It is said that when anyone enters a church out of service time he may chance to see a little lamb spring across the choir and vanish. This is the church lamb, and its appearance in the churchyard, especially to the grave-digger, is said to betoken the death of a child. According to a Danish form of this superstition, the kirk-grim dwells either in the tower or wherever it can find a place of concealment, and is thought to protect the sacred building; and it is said that in the streets of Kroskjoberg, a grave-sow, or as it is also called, a ‘gray-sow,’ has frequently been seen. It is thought to be the apparition of a sow formerly buried alive, and to forebode death and calamity.

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Lilith, Adam's First Wife, article in Frank Leslie's Sunday Magazine 1884


LILITH, ADAM'S FIRST WIFE 1884

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The name Lilith is from a Hebrew root, meaning "darkness." It occurs in the thirty-fourth chapter of Isaiah, verse fourteenth, where it is, in our version, translated "screech owl." The passage is, "The screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest." In Cheyne's version the passage is translated:

"The satyr shall light on his fellow;
Surely Lilith shall repose there.
And find for herself a place of rest."

This is the only place in the Bible where the word occurs.

According to an old Eastern legend, the name of Adam's first wife was Lilith, of equal age with himself, and sole possessor of his love till Eve came. In his affection for this new, fair creature, born from his own body, he neglected the charms of Lilith. Consumed with jealousy and love turned to hatred, Lilith sought counsel from the serpent, the subtlest of creation, and, in pursuance of their plot, took his form and tempted Eve to eat of the forbidden tree, gaining her revenge in the expulsion of the fallen ones from Eden. Michael Angelo (or, as it should be, according to Grimm, Michael Agnolo) brings the legend before us in his fresco of The Fall, in the ceiling of the Sixtine Chapel, by giving to his snake the head and trunk of a woman.

According to the story of the Rabbi Ben Sira, Lilith was impatient and quarrelsome. Unwilling to conform to wholesome conditions, she revolted, and pronouncing as a charm the secret name, was henceforth an evil demon. She is represented in the form of a beautiful woman, elegantly clad, who slew children. She stands by the side of child-bearing women to kill the infants. Hence the amulet or phylactery is inscribed in Hebrew, "Adam and Eve, without Lilith."

The Rev. S. Baring-Gould, in his "Legends of the Prophets and Patriarchs," refers to this old belief. The Talmud gives several versions of the story. Lilith was a witch, and was thought to steal children. Her name survives in the word "lullaby," which comes from "Lilith" and "abire." This refrain to slumber songs is a sort of exorcism. Another idea is that Lilith was an air spirit, and by her Adam procreated the demons.

It is difficult to make a connected story of the legends given by the Rabbis concerning this witch. According to one tradition, Adam and Eve, when expelled from Eden, were cast upon the earth at places one hundred and seventy-five years' journey apart; Adam on the Island of Ceylon and Eve upon Mount Arafa, near Mecca. The witch Lilith, knowing that Adam was alone, offered her companionship, which was accepted. Afterward Adam, happening to meet Eve again, returned to his allegiance and informed Lilith that she might find another companion. The witch fell into a great rage and swore by heaven and earth that she would destroy every child of man that should be born. To prevent the execution of this threat the Jews in former times used to place an amulet with a Hebrew inscription upon it over doors, windows, and upon chimneys and beds of confinement, so that the witch might not enter the house and harm newborn children. According to the Jews of Tunis, however, Lilith was the wife not of Adam but of the devil. They believed that she had a special spite against new-born babies, and they also used an amulet for protection against her.

Another version of the story is given in this way: When God, in the beginning, made the first man in Paradise, he said: "It is not good that man should be alone.' Therefore he made a wife for Adam from the dust and she was called Lilis. Soon after these two began to quarrel and squabble with each other, and Lilis said, "I will not be in subjection to thee"; and Adam said, "Neither will I be under thee, but I will be lord over thee, since thou wert made to be submissive." Lilis answered, "We are both alike and neither is better than the other. We are both made from the dust and neither will obey the other." And when it was evident there could be no agreement between them, Lilis cried out the holy name of God and immediately flew away through the air. Then Adam spoke to God and said, "Lord of the whole world, the wife which thou hast given me has flown away." Then God sent three angels to Lilis to say to her, "If you will come back, well and good; but if not, then a hundred of your children shall die every day." The angels followed her over the sea to Egypt and delivered to her the message of God. When she would not consent to go back, the angels said, "Then we will drown you in the sea, since you will not go back." Thereupon Lilis begged them that she might live a little while longer, and declared that she had been created in order that she might torment and kill new-born children for eight days from their birth, if they were boys, and for twenty days if they were girls. When the angels heard this they wished to take her by force and carry her back to Adam. Then Lilis swore to them an oath that as often as she saw their names written npon a piece of paper or parchment she would have no power over young children and would do them no harm. She also accepted as her punishment the sentence that one hundred of her children should die every day. Upon this they permitted her to live. Since then every day a hundred young devils from among her children have died. And mothers write the names of these three angels upon pieces of parchment and hang them about the necks of young children in order that Lilis, seeing these names, may remember her oath and do the children no harm.

Still another variation of the legend is, that Adam and Lilith were created at the same time, and were joined together, back to back, with only one body. They did not agree, and, at their request, God separated them, giving each an independent body; but they still quarreled, and Lilith devoted herself to witchcraft and the companionship of devils. Then Adam left her, and Eve was afterward created to take her place.

According to a different story, Adam did not meet Lilith until after he was expelled from Paradise. He lived with her for one hundred and thirty years, and she became by him the mother of many giants and wicked demons. Lilith appears in Walpurgisnight in Goethe's "Faust," and Mephistopheles warns Faust against her.

"Faust. But who is that?

"Mephis. Note her especially, Tis Lilith.

"Faust. Who?

"Mephis. Adam's first wife is she.
Beware the lure within liar lovely tresses.
The splendid sole adornment of her hair.
When she succeeds therewith a youth to snare.
Not soon again she frees him from her jesses."
—Taylor's Translation.

In Dante Rossetti's sonnet, "Lilith," she is pictured as a beautiful woman with enchanted golden hair, who draws men within her power and destroys them. He makes use also of the legend concerning her, that whenever a youth fell in love with her, he died, and "one strangling golden hair" was found twisted tightly around his heart.

In the same poet's beautiful ballad, "Eden Bower," he makes Lilith consumed with jealousy against Eve, and the true author of the temptation and fall.

The Grecian and Roman stories of the Empusa or Lamia would seem to have their counterpart in this legend of Lilith. It may be, however, that the designation is a contraction of Alilith, the Arabian Ilithia, a goddess of maternity and childbirth. It is easy to form it from Lila, the Night, and so refer it to Alilat, the nurse-goddess; but the passion to destroy children, being the obverse of her normal position, seems to render the other etymology preferable. The ogre mentioned in the tale of the "Arabian Nights" would show that young men were also sought, and so justify the lines of Goethe.