Thursday, August 31, 2017

Mark Twain and The Mountain Meadows Massacre 1913


THE MOUNTAIN MEADOWS MASSACRE by Mark Twain 1913

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The persecutions which the Mormons suffered so long — and which they consider they still suffer in not being allowed to govern themselves — they have endeavored and are still endeavoring to repay. The now almost forgotten "Mountain Meadows massacre" was their work. It was very famous in its day. The whole United States rang with its horrors. A few items will refresh the reader's memory. A great emigrant train from Missouri and Arkansas passed through Salt Lake City, and a few disaffected Mormons joined it for the sake of the strong protection it afforded for their escape. In that matter lay sufficient cause for hot retaliation by the Mormon chiefs. Besides, these one hundred and forty-five or one hundred and fifty unsuspecting emigrants being in part from Arkansas, where a noted Mormon missionary had lately been killed, and in part from Missouri, a State remembered with execrations as a bitter persecutor of the saints when they were few and poor and friendless, here were substantial additional grounds for lack of love for these wayfarers. And finally, this train was rich, very rich in cattle, horses, mules, and other property — and how could the Mormons consistently keep up their coveted resemblance to the Israelitish tribes and not seize the "spoil" of an enemy when the Lord had so manifestly "delivered it into their hand"?

Wherefore, according to Mrs. C. V. Waite's entertaining book, "The Mormon Prophet," it transpired that —

"A 'revelation' from Brigham Young, as Great Grand Archee or God, was despatched to President J. C. Haight, Bishop Higbee, and J. D. Lee (adopted son of Brigham), commanding them to raise all the forces they could muster and trust, follow those cursed Gentiles (so read the revelation), attack them disguised as Indians, and with the arrows of the Almighty make a clean sweep of them, and leave none to tell the tale; and if they needed any assistance they were commanded to hire the Indians as their allies, promising them a share of the booty. They were to be neither slothful nor negligent in their duty, and to be punctual in sending the teams back to him before winter set in, for this was the mandate of Almighty God."

The command of the "revelation" was faithfully obeyed. A large party of Mormons, painted and tricked out as Indians, overtook the train of emigrant wagons some three hundred miles south of Salt Lake City, and made an attack. But the emigrants threw up earthworks, made fortresses of their wagons, and defended themselves gallantly and successfully for five days! Your Missouri or Arkansas gentleman is not much afraid of the sort of scurvy apologies for "Indians" which the southern part of Utah affords. He would stand up and fight five hundred of them.

At the end of the five days the Mormons tried military strategy. They retired to the upper end of the "Meadows," resumed civilized apparel, washed off their paint, and then, heavily armed, drove down in wagons to the beleaguered emigrants, bearing a flag of truce! When the emigrants saw white men coming they threw down their guns and welcomed them with cheer after cheer! And, all unconscious of the poetry of it, no doubt, they lifted a little child aloft, dressed in white, in answer to the flag of truce!

The leaders of the timely white "deliverers" were President Haight and Bishop John D. Lee, of the Mormon Church. Mr. Cradlebaugh, who served a term as a Federal Judge in Utah and afterward was sent to Congress from Nevada, tells in a speech delivered in Congress how these leaders next proceeded:

"They professed to be on good terms with the Indians, and represented them as being very mad. They also proposed to intercede and settle the matter with the Indians. After several hours' parley they, having (apparently) visited the Indians, gave the ultimatum of the savages; which was, that the emigrants should march out of their camp, leaving everything behind them, even their guns. It was promised by the Mormon bishops that they would bring a force and guard the emigrants back to the settlements. The terms were agreed to, the emigrants being desirous of saving the lives of their families. The Mormons retired, and subsequently appeared with thirty or forty armed men. The emigrants were marched out, the women and children in front and the men behind, the Mormon guard being in the rear. When they had marched in this way about a mile, at a given signal the slaughter commenced. The men were almost all shot down at the first fire from the guard. Two only escaped, who fled to the desert, and were followed one hundred and fifty miles before they were overtaken and slaughtered. The women and children ran on, two or three hundred yards further, when they were overtaken and with the aid of the Indians they were slaughtered. Seventeen individuals only, of all the emigrant party, were spared, and they were little children, the eldest of them being only seven years old. Thus, on the 10th day of September, 1857, was consummated one of the most cruel, cowardly, and bloody murders known in our history."

The number of persons butchered by the Mormons on this occasion was one hundred and twenty.

With unheard-of temerity Judge Cradlebaugh opened his court and proceeded to make Mormondom answer for the massacre. And what a spectacle it must have been to see this grim veteran, solitary and alone in his pride and his pluck, glowering down on his Mormon jury and Mormon auditory, deriding them by turns, and by turns "breathing threatenings and slaughter"!

An editorial in the Territorial Enterprise of that day says of him and of the occasion:

"He spoke and acted with the fearlessness and resolution of a Jackson; but the jury failed to indict, or even report on the charges, while threats of violence were heard in every quarter, and an attack on the U. S. troops intimated, if he persisted in his course.

"Finding that nothing could be done with the juries, they were discharged, with a scathing rebuke from the judge. And then, sitting as a committing magistrate, he commenced his task alone. He examined witnesses, made arrests in every quarter, and created a consternation in the camps of the saints greater than any they had ever witnessed before, since Mormondom was born. At last accounts terrified elders and bishops were decamping to save their necks; and developments of the most startling character were being made, implicating the highest Church dignitaries in the many murders and robberies committed upon the Gentiles during the past eight years."

Had Harney been Governor, Cradlebaugh would have been supported in his work, and the absolute proofs adduced by him of Mormon guilt in this massacre and in a number of previous murders, would have conferred gratuitous coffins upon certain citizens, together with occasion to use them. But Cumming was the Federal Governor, and he, under a curious pretense of impartiality, sought to screen the Mormons from the demands of justice. On one occasion he even went so far as to publish his protest against the use of the U. S. troops in aid of Cradlebaugh's proceedings.

Mrs. C. V. Waite closes her interesting detail of the great massacre with the following remark and accompanying summary of the testimony — and the summary is concise, accurate, and reliable:

"For the benefit of those who may still be disposed to doubt the guilt of Young and his Mormons in this transaction, the testimony is here collated and circumstances given which go not merely to implicate but to fasten conviction upon them by 'confirmations strong as proofs of Holy Writ':

"I. The evidence of Mormons themselves, engaged in the affair, as shown by the statements of Judge Cradlebaugh and Deputy U. S. Marshal Rodgers.

"2. The failure of Brigham Young to embody any account of it in his Report as Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Also his failure to make any allusion to it whatever from the pulpit, until several years after the occurrence.

"3. The flight to the mountains of men high in authority in the Mormon Church and State, when this affair was brought to the ordeal of a judicial investigation.

"4. The failure of the Deseret News, the Church organ, and the only paper then published in the Territory, to notice the massacre until several months afterward, and then only to deny that Mormons were engaged in it.

"5. The testimony of the children saved from the massacre.

"6. The children and the property of the emigrants found in possession of the Mormons, and that possession traced back to the very day after the massacre.

"7. The statements of Indians in the neighborhood of the scene of the massacre; these statements are shown, not only by Cradlebaugh and Rodgers, but by a number of military officers, and by J. Forney, who was, in 1859, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Territory. To all these were such statements freely and frequently made by the Indians.

"8. The testimony of R. P. Campbell, Capt. 2d Dragoons, who was sent in the spring of 1859 to Santa Clara, to protect travelers on the road to California and to inquire into Indian depredations."

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Great Quotes from Schopenhauer


Great Quotes from Schopenhauer

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Men of very great capacity, will as a rule, find the company of very stupid people preferable to that of the common run; for the same reason that the tyrant and the mob, the grandfather and the grandchildren, are natural allies.
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Why is it that, in spite of all the mirrors in the world, no one really knows what he looks like?
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A man may call to mind the face of his friend, but not his own. Here, then, is an initial difficulty in the way of applying the maxim, Know thyself.
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With people of only moderate ability, modesty is mere honesty; but with those who possess great talent, it is hypocrisy. Hence, it is just as becoming in the latter to make no secret of the respect they bear themselves and no disguise of the fact that they are conscious of unusual power, as it is in the former to be modest. Valerius Maximus gives some very neat examples of this in his chapter on self-confidence, de fiducia sui.
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Not to go to the theatre is like making one's toilet without a mirror. But it is still worse to take a decision without consulting a friend. For a man may have the most excellent judgment in all other matters, and yet go wrong in those which concern himself; because here the will comes in and deranges the intellect at once. Therefore let a man take counsel of a friend. A doctor can cure everyone but himself; if he falls ill, he sends for a colleague.
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In all that we do, we wish, more or less, to come to the end; we are impatient to finish and glad to be done. But the last scene of all, the general end, is something that, as a rule, we wish as far off as may be.
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Every parting gives a foretaste of death; every coming together again a foretaste of the resurrection. This is why even people who were indifferent to each other, rejoice so much if they come together again after twenty or thirty years' separation.
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Are we, then, to look upon laughter as merely a signal for others—a mere sign, like a word? What makes it impossible for people to laugh when they are alone is nothing but want of imagination, dullness of mind generally. The lower animals never laugh, either alone or in company. Myson, the misanthropist, was once surprised by one of these people as he was laughing to himself. Why do you laugh? he asked; "there is no one with you. That is just why I am laughing," said Myson.
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Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world. This is an error of the intellect as inevitable as that error of the eye which lets us fancy that on the horizon heaven and earth meet. This explains many things, and among them the fact that everyone measures us with his own standard—generally about as long as a tailor's tape, and we have to put up with it: as also that no one will allow us to be taller than himself—a supposition which is once for all taken for granted.
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Why is it that common is an expression of contempt? and that uncommon, extraordinary, distinguished, denote approbation? Why is everything that is common contemptible?
Common in its original meaning denotes that which is peculiar to all men, i.e., shared equally by the whole species, and therefore an inherent part of its nature. Accordingly, if an individual possesses no qualities beyond those which attach to mankind in general, he is a common man. Ordinary is a much milder word, and refers rather to intellectual character; whereas common has more of a moral application.
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Any incident, however trivial, that rouses disagreeable emotion, leaves an after-effect in our mind, which for the time it lasts, prevents our taking a clear objective view of the things about us, and tinges all our thoughts: just as a small object held close to the eye limits and distorts our field of vision.
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Melancholy is a very different thing from bad humor, and of the two, it is not nearly so far removed from a gay and happy temperament. Melancholy attracts, while bad humor repels.
Hypochondria is a species of torment which not only makes us unreasonably cross with the things of the present; not only fills us with groundless anxiety on the score of future misfortunes entirely of our own manufacture; but also leads to unmerited self-reproach for what we have done in the past.
Hypochondria shows itself in a perpetual hunting after things that vex and annoy, and then brooding over them. The cause of it is an inward morbid discontent, often co-existing with a naturally restless temperament. In their extreme form, this discontent and this unrest lead to suicide.
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There is an unconscious propriety in the way in which, in all European languages, the word person is commonly used to denote a human being. The real meaning of persona is a mask, such as actors were accustomed to wear on the ancient stage; and it is quite true that no one shows himself as he is, but wears his mask and plays his part. Indeed, the whole of our social arrangements may be likened to a perpetual comedy; and this is why a man who is worth anything finds society so insipid, while a blockhead is quite at home in it.
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There are some really beautiful landscapes in the world, but the human figures in them are poor, and you had better not look at them.
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The fly should be used as the symbol of impertinence and audacity; for whilst all other animals shun man more than anything else, and run away even before he comes near them, the fly lights upon his very nose.
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Two Chinese men traveling in Europe went to the theatre for the first time. One of them did nothing but study the machinery, and he succeeded in finding out how it was worked. The other tried to get at the meaning of the piece in spite of his ignorance of the language. Here you have the Astronomer and the Philosopher.
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In a field of ripening corn I came to a place which had been trampled down by some ruthless foot; and as I glanced amongst the countless stalks, every one of them alike, standing there so erect and bearing the full weight of the ear, I saw a multitude of different flowers, red and blue and violet. How pretty they looked as they grew there so naturally with their little foliage! But, thought I, they are quite useless; they bear no fruit; they are mere weeds, suffered to remain only because there is no getting rid of them. And yet, but for these flowers, there would be nothing to charm the eye in that wilderness of stalks. They are emblematic of poetry and art, which, in civic life—so severe, but still useful and not without its fruit—play the same part as flowers in the corn.
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Wisdom which is only theoretical and never put into practice, is like a double rose; its color and perfume are delightful, but it withers away and leaves no seed.
No rose without a thorn. Yes, but many a thorn without a rose.
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The man who goes up in a balloon does not feel as though he were ascending; he only sees the earth sinking deeper under him.
There is a mystery which only those will understand who feel the truth of it.
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The Mythology of the Phoenix by Lawrence Leinheuser 1921


THE LEGEND OF THE PHOENIX, by Lawrence N. Leinheuser, M. A. 1921

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Symbolism is an indispensable adjunct to any form of religion. The object of religious worship is a superior being of a higher order of things than that in which man finds himself. Man has no direct experience of the constitution of this higher order, but only inductive and revealed knowledge. From the works and manner of action of the deity he makes inferences regarding its attributes and nature, and, wishing to express this knowledge in the forms of his own experience, he selects from among the mass of objects surrounding him those that have some points of resemblance to the inferred attributes of the higher being and then makes these objects stand as symbols of the higher order. In doing this he is only carrying out a principle operative throughout the whole of man's life, the principle of comparison. This principle is much used in poetry and literature, as the vast number of metaphors and similes in all languages amply attests.

In her work of Christianizing the world the Church adapts herself as far as possible to her surroundings. She does not reject completely the customs and institutions of a people into whose land she carries the good tidings, but endeavors to bring these institutions into harmony with her own doctrines. That which is good she retains, rejecting only what is opposed to her teachings. One cannot suddenly lift a man out of an environment in which he has dwelt for years and set him in entirely strange surroundings without the risk of incurring his enmity and ill-favor thereby. So it comes that we find the early writers of the Church retaining in substance many of the old heathen myths and legends, changing them only to invest them with a Christian atmosphere. And one of the popular tales which our Christian ancestors inherited from their pagan forbears was the legend of the Phoenix.

The story of this bird is of great antiquity, its pagan development reaching back into the distant eras of earliest history. It is attested to by many ancient writers, Christian and pagan; the Book of the Dead contains numerous references to it, and its picture is represented on a number of timeworn tombs and coffins of Egyptian origin. On the obelisk of the Porta del Popolo in Rome, beneath the figure of a king adoring Ra, the following words are found: "Rameses II, son of Ra, who filled the temple of the Phoenix with his splendors." The home of this bird was very likely in the dreamy and fantastic East. The people of the Orient incline to allegorical interpretation, and to them we can look for the source of most of our animal symbolism. The mythologies of many Oriental peoples contain the story of the Phoenix in some form or other. One author states that "the myth of the Phoenix is one of the most ancient in the world," and that "even in the days of Job and David it was already a popular tradition in Palestine and Arabia." The Arabs seem to have identified the Phoenix with the salamander and were firmly convinced of its existence, for they called clothes that were made of incombustible material by the same name, believing these clothes to be manufactured from the hair of this animal. The universality of the Phoenix legend is further evidenced by the assertion of John of Salisbury that the founding of Constantinople was coincident with an appearance of the Phoenix.

In the book which describes his visit to the Egyptians about the year 450 B.C, Herodotus presents a fairly complete description of this remarkable fowl. "There is another sacred bird, called the Phoenix; which I myself never saw, except in a picture; for it seldom makes its appearance among them; only every 500 years, according to the people of Heliopolis. They state that he comes on the death of his sire: if at all like his picture, this bird may be thus described, in size and shape. Some of his feathers are of the color of gold; others are red. In outline he is exceedingly similar to the eagle, and in size also. This bird is said to display an ingenuity which to me does not appear credible: he is represented as coming out of Arabia, and bringing with him his father to the temple of the Sun, embalmed in myrrh, and there burying him. The manner in which this is done is as follows: In the first place he sticks together an egg of myrrh, as much as he can carry, and then tries if he can bear the burden; this experiment achieved, he accordingly scoops out the egg, sufficiently to deposit his sire within; he next fills with fresh myrrh the opening in the egg by which the body was enclosed; thus the whole mass, containing the carcase, is still of the same weight. Having thus completed the embalming, he transports him into Egypt, and to the temple of the Sun."

There is no uniformity of account among the different authors regarding the manner in which the bird meets its death. According to some, among whom we may number Herodotus, it simply suffers a natural death, upon which a new Phoenix grows forth which carries the carcase of its parent to Heliopolis. The Egyptian priest Horapollo narrates that the Phoenix dashes itself to the ground, thereby wounding itself, and from the ichor of this wound its successor is born. But this version was by no means the one generally accepted, the more familiar account running as follows: When the Phoenix-cycle of years is drawing to a close, the Phoenix builds itself on a lofty tree a nest of sweetly smelling herbs and spices. On this nest the bird then voluntarily suffers death by fire, and from its ashes arises a new Phoenix which begins the cycle of years over again. A variation of this account states that the Phoenix directs its flight to Heliopolis, burning itself in that city on the altar in the temple of the sun. Manilius, on whom Pliny relies for his information, states that "from its bones and marrow there springs at first a sort of small worm, which in time changes into a little bird." This worm is not mentioned by all authorities; it is omitted, for instance, by Ovid, Tacitus, and Isidore of Seville; but it is referred to by Lactantius and other Christian writers.

The time which elapsed between the death of the Phoenix and its consequent attainment of former powers was invested by some Christian writers with a symbolical meaning. According to them the Phoenix required three days for its metamorphosis and development to maturity. Thus Epiphanius relates that after the fire has been extinguished "there arises from the ashes of the flesh and bones a worm which soon grows feathers and is transformed into a young Phoenix. The third day the latter arrives at maturity." Pseudo-Jerome gives the same account, as does also the Greek Physiologus. The former writes: "Crastino die de cinere gignitur vermis, secundo plumas effert, tertio ad antiquam redit naturam." Needless to say, this period represented for these writers the time which Christ spent in the sepulchre. In the account of Herodotus we read that the Phoenix places the remains of its parent in an egg and carries this to the temple of the sun. This simile of the egg considered as a sepulchre of the parent bird seems to be peculiar to Herodotus and Lactantius, the great majority of other writers failing to mention this additional circumstance.

The method by which the Phoenix brings about its own de struction by fire is variously stated. In the account of Epiphanius the bird beats its breast long and vehemently, thus bringing forth from its body a flame which ignites the nest. Isidore of Seville has substantially the same account. In "De Ave Phoenice" Lactantius relates that after AEolus has shut up the winds in overhanging caves, lest they collect clouds or otherwise interfere with the action of the sun's rays upon his satellite, the Phoenix builds the nest and then yields up its spirit on "this bed of life."

Then by life-giving death destroyed, its form
Grows hot, the heat itself produces flame,
And from the distant sun conceives a fire;
It burns, and into ashes is dissolved.

The various authors also fail to coincide in their statements regarding the length of the time period at the end of which the Phoenix regularly makes its appearance, Herodotus, as we have seen, asserts the cycle of years to be five hundred. In his Epistle to the Corinthians Clement of Rome states that the priests of Heliopolis take note of the time at which the Phoenix appears at the temple of the sun, and find that it arrives every five hundred years. Some authors assign a thousand years to a period, others one thousand four hundred and sixty-one, while some mention as many as seven thousand years. Tacitus states that "the commonly accepted view is that it lives for five hundred years." This is the estimate popularly accepted, since this number is found in fifteen other authors besides Tacitus. The latter further tells us that the bird made its appearance in Egypt during the consulate of Paulus Fabius Persicus and Lucius Vitellius, A.D. 34, causing much speculation at the time. He also mentions three other appearances of the bird, of which "the first made its appearance in the reign of Sesosis (others give Sesostris); the next in that of Amasis; the third in that of Ptolemeus, third of the Macedonian line." He adds that "the two earlier dates are lost in antiquity; but between Ptolemeus and Tiberius there were less than two hundred and fifty years. Hence some are of opinion that the Phoenix then seen was not the genuine bird." Pliny cites Cornelius Valerianus as his authority in placing the date of the appearance of the last Phoenix in the year A.D. 36. The bird which was exhibited in the Roman forum A.D. 47, Pliny condemns as a shameful imposture.

The period of 1,461 years rests on an astronomical basis. This period was the "annus magnus," or "Canicularis," of the Egyptians, called so because at the end of this interval of years the official calendar of the Egyptians tallied with the astronomical signs of the heavens. The discrepancy between the two reckonings arose from the Egyptian division of the year into three hundred and sixty-five days, instead of the more correct estimate of three hundred and sixty-five and one-fourth days. At the end of 1,461 years, however, it was found that both reckonings coincided, and so this number of years was known as the "annus magnus." It was also called the "Sothis Period," named after the Dog Star, for at the end of this period the rise of this star agreed with the official New Year's Day of the Egyptian civil year.

With the Egyptians the legend of the Phoenix bore an intrinsic relation to their cult of the sun. This is apparent from numerous inscriptions and testimonials from ancient sources. The Phoenix was used principally as a symbol of the rising sun, and around this conception the entire tale revolved. The whole existence of the bird is in some manner or other related to the sun. It owes its very being to the sun (Achilles Tacitus), its nest conceives fire from the sun's rays (Lactantius, Claudian, and others), the time of its death is at sunrise (Horapollo), while the goal of its flight is the temple of the sun or the city of the sun, Heliopolis (Herodotus, Clement of Rome, and many more). On a wooden coffin in the Vatican is found a picture of the Phoenix with these words inscribed: "Glory be to Ra when he rises." The Book of the Dead also contains numerous passages alluding to the intimate connection which existed between the sun and the Phoenix.

The Egyptian word for Phoenix is bennu, derived from a root meaning to turn. But this was also their name for the sun, which signified "the returning traveler." The Egyptians held the opinion that the sun revolved round the earth, disappearing in the evening and making his return in the morning. Now, bennu was also the name of a migratory bird which appeared and disappeared at stated seasons. Hence it was but natural to make this bird of passage the symbol of the rising sun. Seeing the sun reappear each morning also provoked the conception of a resurrection, which in turn was transferred to the bennu. But bennu, as said before, was also the name for the Phoenix. The new Phoenix springing from its parent represented the morning sun slowly rising from out of the darkness of night to a glorious dawn. It also typified the "sun of today springing from the body of the old sun of yesterday, which had entered the lower world and become one with Osiris." Thus it came that the Phoenix also symbolized the union between day and night. The use of the Phoenix as a symbolical representation was therefore developed to a very high degree by the ancient Egyptians.

The Phoenix was also commonly accepted as a symbol of the resurrection. Hence we find the idea of a resurrection current among a heathen nation long before the birth of Christ and symbolized in a beautiful manner. Some of the Roman Emperors placed the picture of the Phoenix on their coins, aiming to suggest through this representation their own apotheosis, or the beginning of a new and more glorious era under their reign. On the coins of Constantine and his sons is found a picture of the Phoenix with the following words inscribed: "Felix Reparatio Temporum," and "Perpetuitas."

Christian authors were therefore only referring to something widely known when they appealed to the tale of the Phoenix in their writings. They appropriated the Phoenix as a heritage from their heathen forbears, using it mainly as a verification and symbol of the resurrection. This was only one of the many symbolical representations current in the primitive Church. Several considerations led the early Christians to make extensive use of symbolism in their religious worship. A predominant motive was the Discipline of the Secret. Acting on this principle, the mysteries and doctrines of the Church were to a great extent represented in an allegorical manner to guard them from abuse and treachery on the part of the heathens. In adopting a symbol, the Christians generally chose a representation which was familiar to the pagans from their own myths and legends, but which also typified very well a particular doctrine of the Christian faith. In this way they did not unduly attract the attention of the pagans. So the figure of Christ carrying the lamb had its prototype in the heathen representation of Hermes Kriophorus.

For the common man a good homely comparison generally sheds more light on a subject than many pages of abstract reasoning. St. Patrick's shamrock is a good illustration in point. This preference for the concrete was another factor in prompting the use of symbolism. Here the Church has the example of the divine parables for a guide. Her churches and cathedrals, especially those built in the Middle Ages, teem with objects having a symbolical meaning, which were placed there to represent to the faithful some article or mystery of the faith. The figures of animals were especially used for symbolic representation. Thus the lion stood for strength and watchfulness, the dove for the Spirit of God, also for peace and purity. By the same token the Phoenix was a favorite symbol among the early Christian writers of the resurrection of Christ and man.

One of the Apostolic Fathers, Clement of Rome, adduces the story of the Phoenix as an analogy in nature of our future resurrection. He first bids his readers observe the process of resurrection which daily takes place throughout material creation. The regular succession of day and night is a representation of the resurrection, as is also the planting and decaying of seed, followed by the growth and development of the plant. Clement then refers to the curious bird that is seen in the Orient, of which there exists only one at a time. He relates that version of the story in which the Phoenix suffers a natural death, changing it only to state that the form feeds on the carcase of its parent and so grows feathers. The Pontiff then adds: "Should we therefore regard it as something marvelous and wonderful, if the Creator of all things shall cause them to rise again who in the firmness of true faith have served Him holily, after He has shown us through a bird the mightiness of his promise?"

Tertullian pursues the same line of argumentation as Clement. He is more expansive on the subject, however, and vastly more rhetorical. He sees the resurrection represented in the regular recurrence of the seasons and in the changes which periodically take place throughout the entire vegetable kingdom. Tertullian then meets the objection of an adversary who might reply that in nature we merely have a restoration and not a reanimation, by referring to a "complete and reliable analogy of this hope (the resurrection); for its object is an animated being, capable of life and death." He thereupon mentions the wonderful bird of the Orient, the Phoenix, and closes his argument by saying: "The Lord has said that we are better than many sparrows; that would be nothing exceptional, if we also were not better than a Phoenix. Should then man perish forever, while Arabian birds are certain of their resurrection?"

Cyril of Jerusalem also uses the Phoenix as a symbol of the resurrection, claiming that God, Who knew the incredulity of the heathens, created the Phoenix as a substantiation of the doctrine. Pseudo-Clement adduces the story for the same purpose, asking why the heathens, who themselves point to the Phoenix as a symbol of the resurrection, should nevertheless "reject our doctrine in which we profess that He Who through His might gave existence to the non-existent can also call this into being again after its dissolution?" Epiphanius draws upon the identical source, as does also Zeno of Verona. The latter adduces it as one of a number of natural analogies of the resurrection and expatiates on the fable in a highly rhetorical manner.

In one of Rufinus's writings we find the legend appropriated to demonstrate a different truth of the faith. Speaking of the virgin birth, Rufinus remarks that in the natural course of things three conditions are necessary to bring forth child. Of these three conditions one was lacking in the virgin birth, for Mary knew not man. Rufinus then cites the tale of the Phoenix as an analogy in nature of this extraordinary happening: "But why should this appear so striking, that the Virgin conceived, since it is established that the bird of the Orient, Phoenix by name, generates itself so effectively without the medium of a mate that it always exists as the only specimen of its kind and ever succeeds itself through birth and rebirth?"

The Phoenix is also alluded to by Eusebius when he asserts that the dead Constantine will live and reign through his sons, not, however, like the Egyptian bird, the only one of its kind, which dies on a sweetly smelling pile and then rises again, the same as before; "but like his Saviour who, as the single seed of wheat planted in the earth to multiply, with the blessing of God sprouted up and filled the earth with fruit, so in like manner has the Emperor multiplied himself in his children."

Origen mentions the Phoenix in his reply to Celsus. In his famous attack upon Christianity, Celsus had, among other things, championed the cause of animals as against man, claiming that the so-called irrational animals were more intelligent and more pleasing to God than man, the rational animal. Celsus contended, for instance, that elephants are faithful in keeping their oaths, and that storks possess more filial love than the children of men. As if to cap the climax of his stupid assertions, Celsus then calls upon the story of the Phoenix as a further substantiation of his contentions. Origen however, questions the truth of the story concerning the famous bird, adding that even if the phenomenon were true, it could still be explained by natural causes. One of the reasons he adduces is that Providence might have created this bird with the intention of thereby evoking man's admiration, not for the Phoenix, but for Him who created the Phoenix.

Literature, both profane and religious, is rich in references to the Phoenix. Shakespeare mentions the bird several times throughout his plays. Ovid devotes considerable space to this wonderful creature, while Claudian of Alexandria has enriched literature with an idyl of more than one hundred lines on the Phoenix. Pliny also gives an account of the bird. Ariosto remarks that in Arabia

The virgin Phoenix there in need of rest
Selects from all the world her balmy nest.

The bird is mentioned in Mandeville's "Travels" and in several other Old English writers. Some of these were perhaps influenced by the poem "The Phoenix," attributed by many authorities to Cynewulf. The following passage is found in Lyly's "Euphues": "For, as there is but one Phoenix in the world, so there is but one tree in Arabia wherein she buyldeth." Then the "Bestiary" of Philip de Thaun contains quite a lengthy account of the Phoenix, which is said to be "shaped like a swan." The remarkable qualities of the bird are attributed by literary writers to persons, men and women. Thus Coryat calls one lady "the Phoenix of her sex," meaning that she is the only one of her kind. George Bernard Shaw makes a similar application: "She, poor girl! cannot appreciate even her own phoenixity." Several allusions are found in Byron's works, also in Thomas Moore's "Paradise and Peri."

One of the most important literary productions on the subject is the poem "De Ave Phoenice," ascribed to Lactantius, whom Jerome calls "a river of Ciceronian eloquence." This poem consists of eighty-five distichs, which treat of the bird and its habits in great detail. The poem opens with a description of the earthly paradise wherein the Phoenix dwells. This is a plain in the far East, in a land where everlasting spring reigns and where the trees bloom in perpetual foliage. Each morning the bird greets the rising sun from the highest tree with wondrous song, which not even the strains of Apollo or Pierian Muses can equal. Lactantius then relates the familiar story about the Phoenix' flight to Syria where it chooses a lofty palm, which has its name (in Greek) from the bird. There it dies by its own funeral rites, and from the ashes a worm arises, developing into a new Phoenix which "sips the delicate ambrosial dews of heavenly nectar which have fallen from the star-bearing pole," for the Phoenix does not feed on earthly food.

A somewhat lengthy description of the bird's external appearance then follows. A multitude of birds gather, giving homage to their leader, and attend the Phoenix on the return flight. Returned to its beloved land, it dwells there, a happy bird, whose delight is in death.

O happy bird, that knows
No bond of love! Death is thy only love,
Thy one delight is death! Thou long'st for death.
That thou may'st be new born. Thou art thyself
Child to thyself, thy father and thy heir.
Both thine own nurse and nursling; still thyself,
Yet not the same, thyself yet not thyself,
Attaining life eterne through fecund death.

The words quoted show how well adapted the Phoenix was as a symbol of the Redeemer who in death overcame sin that through His death all men might live. Just as the Phoenix three days after its death arrives again at full maturity, so Christ on the third day after His ignominious death on the cross arose again from the grave in all His glory and might. Christ is eternal and so enjoys perpetual life. Death has no terror for Him. Thus the Phoenix also stood among the early Christians as a symbol of eternity.

One other great work in literature must needs be mentioned here, the Old English poem "The Phoenix." The author of this poem was most likely the Saxon poet Cynewulf, who flourished in the eighth century. This work is based to a large extent on the earlier poem of Lactantius. Cynewulf probably became acquainted with the tatter's works in the library of the School of York, for Alcuin tells us that Lactantius was numbered among the Christian poets contained in this library.

In the first part of the poem the Saxon author follows his Latin original very closely. But he expands and dilates more on the subject, especially in describing the earthly paradise, the home of the Phoenix. Thus the thirty lines which Lactantius devotes to this theme, Cynewulf extends into eighty-four lines. The Latin model consists of one hundred and seventy lines, whereas the English version is expanded into six hundred and seventy-seven verses. At line 380 Cynewulf leaves the Latin text, and the second part of the Anglo-Saxon poem, in which he makes use of the writings of Bede and Ambrose, is devoted to an allegorical treatment of the life of the Saints and of Christ. Thus he says that Christ "after the Judgment flies through the air attended by all the worshipping souls like birds; and each soul becomes a Phoenix, and dwells forever young where joy never changes, praising God in the burg of life. Then again he makes Christ the Phoenix who passed through the Are of death to glorious life, 'Therefore to Him be praise for ever and ever. Hallelujah!'"

The foregoing has shown what a prominent position the Phoenix held throughout the centuries as a symbolic representation in the thoughts and imaginations of various peoples of different cult and belief. The heathens made extensive use of the legend in their literature and religious writings, and Christian authors did not in the least hesitate to adopt it as a literary weapon in their defense of the faith. As a mythological creation, the Phoenix is far superior to other animals of pagan mythology, for instance, the dragon, centaur, and the sirens. These could boast of few ennobling traits, but in the contemplation of the Phoenix the mind rose to higher and nobler thoughts, which in their essence were distinctly Christian.

Thus the doctrines of the virgin birth, of immortality, and of the resurrection, all preeminently Christian ideas, were clearly portrayed in this beautiful legend. No doubt many people believed in the existence of this wonderful bird. Tacitus, for instance, states that the details concerning the bird "are uncertain and have been embellished by fable; but that at certain times the bird is seen in Egypt, admits of no question." Sir Thomas Browne advances weighty reasons against the existence of the bird, and doubts the probability of Plutarch's saying "that the brains of a Phoenix is a pleasant bit, but that it causeth the headache." We are told by others that of all the birds in Paradise the Phoenix alone refused to eat of the forbidden fruit with Eve, and received as a reward a sort of immortality. Be this as it may, we can truly say that the legend of the Phoenix was one which fired the imagination of man and placed his thoughts on a higher plane. Writers belonging to different centuries continued to draw upon it as a prolific and versatile source for allegorization and literary reference, and so we can apply to the Phoenix legend the words recorded in the Book of the Dead: "Those who were dwelling in their companies have been brought unto me, and they bowed low in paying homage unto me, and in saluting me with cries of joy. I have risen, and I have gathered myself together like the beautiful hawk of gold, which hath the head of a bennu bird, and Ra entereth in day by day to hearken unto my words."

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Trinity Doctrine in Ancient Egypt by Brigham Leatherbee 1915


The Trinity Doctrine in Ancient Egypt by Brigham Leatherbee 1915


The dogma of the trinity, which was introduced, strongly advocated, and finally successfully lobbied through the famous Council of Nice in 325, by that astute theological politician Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, split the Christian church in twain and threw Europe into turmoil and bloodshed.

Athanasius was the leader of the Alexandrian school of Christian theology which drew its inspirations and ideas largely—one might almost say, exclusively—from ancient Egyptian sources. The Egyptians were an essentially religious people whose deistic ideas were surrounded by ceremony, priestcraft, and mysticism, all of which made such a deep impression upon the pliant minds of the Alexandrian Christians that they molded their new faith in the form of their old.

The Egyptians highly revered the number three, which they generally represented under the form of a triangle. To the Egyptians nothing could be perfect or complete unless it was of three component parts. Therefore, their gods were generally grouped in sets of three, many cities having their own especial trinities. Horus was divided into three persons, and Osiris, Isis and Horus were worshiped under the sign of the triangle.

But Egypt was not alone in her trinitarian ideas. The theory of sex worship had a strong hold on all the peoples of antiquity, and it is not surprising to find similar religious expressions in India. One of the most prominent features of Indian theology is the doctrine of the divine triad governing all things. This triad is called the Tri-murti and consists of Brahma, the creator, Vishnu, the preserver, and Siva, the destroyer. It is an inseparable unity though three in form. The inhabitants of China and Japan, most of whom are Buddhists, worship God in the form of a trinity. The Persians have a similar triad composed of Ormuzd, the creator, Mithras, the son, and Ahriman, the destroyer. The ancient Scandinavians likewise worshiped a triple deity who was yet one god, and consisted of Odin, Thor, and Frey.

One of the many weak points in the doctrine of the trinity, and one that must be noticeable even to Christians, is that, according to the New Testament, the apostles themselves never seem to have recognized the divinity of Jesus, but always treated him as a human Jew like themselves. This attitude of the early Christian disciples is noted by Priestley, who remarks in his “Corruptions of Christianity” (page 136): “It can never be thought that Peter and the others would have made so free with our Lord, as they sometimes did, if they had considered him as their maker, and the being who supported the whole universe; and therefore must have been present in every part of creation, giving his attention to everything, and exerting his power upon everything, at the same time that he was familiarly conversing with them. Moreover, the history of the temptation must be altogether improbable in such a supposition. For what could be the offer of the kingdoms of this world to him who made the world, and was already in possession of it?”

Numerous texts which tend to affirm the humanity of Jesus have been stumbling blocks in the paths of the trinitarians, and they have taken great pains to explain away these embarrassing texts, even at the cost of much ingenuity and absurdity. Paul, the real founder of the faith, in his first epistle to Timothy, says: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. ii, 5); and again in his first epistle to John he remarks: “No man hath seen God” (1 John iv, 12). Such phrases as “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God” (Matt. xix, 17), and “But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God” (John viii, 40), do not appear to be fitting remarks for the second person of the trinity. Again, the words, “My Father is greater than I” (John xiv, 28), were likewise difficult of explanation by those who held that every member of the trinity is coequal, but Austin got around this by declaring that “Christ having emptied himself of his former glory, and being in form of a servant, was then less, not only than his Father, but even than himself”!

The same writer asserts that the words, “that the Son knew not the time of the day of judgment, but only the Father” (Mark xiii, 32), means that while Jesus did know something of the trinity, he would not make it known to others—thus making a downright liar of his God.

The whole of trinitarianism is epitomized in the phrase of Peter Lombard, who, having made the impossible arithmetical assertion that no one person of the trinity is less than the other two, says: “He that can receive this, let him receive it; but he that cannot, let him, however, believe it; and let him pray that what he believes he may understand.”

Jesus having been ordained one of the godhead, the only begotten son of the most high god, the worship of his mother naturally followed; for who could reasonably refuse to bend the knee to the one virgin of all humanity, considered worthy of the honor of bearing the incarnate deity? It was all the easier for the Christian church to adopt this practice, that it had been one of the principal features of the ancient theologies. All nations have worshiped a pure, chaste queen of heaven, a personification of that beautiful celestial body that smiles so benignly down on earth every month. In every land the moon was worshiped as a mother goddess, pure, beautiful, and loving; for there is not the slightest doubt that the virgin queen of heaven, so commonly worshiped by all nations, was merely a personification of the moon.

Isis, mother of the Egyptian savior Horus, was worshiped as a virgin and was styled “Our Lady,” “Queen of Heaven,” “Mother of God,” “Intercessor,” and “Immaculate Virgin.” She was commonly represented with the divine infant seated on her lap, or standing on a crescent moon, and having a glory of twelve stars about her head.

With the adoption of the worship of Isis to Christianity, the crescent moon became a sacred symbol of Mary, who was often portrayed standing upon one. It was held peculiarly sacred by the Greek church and a large crescent moon of gold adorned the dome of St. Sophia at Constantinople. When the city fell in 1453 before the Turkish arms, the Sultan adopted the crescent as a symbol of his victorious power and as a humiliation to his Christian enemies, and thus again the religious significance of the crescent changed, and as an emblem of a Mohammedan power soon came to be regarded by the forgetful Christians with horror and a deadly hatred.

The ancient Chaldees believed in a celestial virgin-mother to whom the erring sinner might appeal, and Shin-moo, the mother goddess, occupies a conspicuous place in Chinese worship. The Babylonians and Assyrians worshiped a goddess called Mylitta, whose son Tammuz is said to have arisen from the dead.

In India they have worshiped for ages Devaki, the mother of Krishna, and Maya, the mother of Buddha, both of whom are represented with the infant saviors in their arms. Their statues, similar to the Christian madonnas, are found in Hindu temples, and their portraits are always accompanied by halos.

Sochiquetzal, mother of Quetzalcoatl, was worshiped in Mexico as the mother of their crucified savior. As queen of heaven and the chaste and immaculate protectress of women, the Greek Hera and her Roman prototype, Juno, were worshiped by the ancient classical world, while the virtuous Diana of Ephesus held a similar place in Phœnician mythology.

All the ancient beliefs in the virgin queen of heaven and her miraculous child probably had more or less effect on the growth of virgin worship in the Christian church; but it was undoubtedly Egyptian influence which was most powerful in the adoption of it, just as it was in regard to the trinitarian dogma. The worship of Isis and Horus was introduced into Rome during the early days of the empire and was readily accepted. And with its introduction came those basalt images of the goddess and her child which have since been adopted by the Christians as ancient representations of Mary and Jesus, albeit they are as black as Ethiopians. Many centuries before, the worship of the Greek goddess Hera had been instituted at Rome under the name of Juno, and she was especially regarded as the chaste and immaculate protectress of women. And it was the combination of the worship offered to these two deities that the Christian church condensed into the worship of the mother of Jesus, to which it added the attributes of Diana, making Mary the patroness of chastity as well as fruitfulness! In Dante’s day it was customary to invoke the Virgin Mary at childbirth just as Juno Lucina was invoked by the pagan ancestors of the Italians.

The worship of the virgin as theotokos, the mother of god, was promulgated at the general council of Ephesus, which was called by the Emperor Theodosius II in 431, and, after that date, and up to the present time, we find this lowly Jewish peasant girl delineated in all the insignia of royalty and portrayed in the most beautiful and patrician type of classical beauty.

With the adoration of Mary rose the legend that she, too, had ascended bodily into heaven and was there crowned by her son and bidden to sit eternally upon his right hand that she might plead with him to mitigate the punishments of sinners, thus allowing that the judgment of this second member of the holy trinity might be fallible, or at least open to influence.

Having raised the virgin to this immense height, the natural sequence was to go a step farther and grant to her also immaculate origin. This idea was first noticed in the eleventh century and steadily grew until in 1494 Sextus the Fourth officially recognized it and gave it the solemn sanction of the church, and in July, 1615, Paul the Fifth instituted the office commemorating her immaculate conception. Virgin worship has continued to grow and flourish, and even so late as 1854, Pius the Ninth issued a bull officially declaring Mary the “Mediatrix” between Christ and the faithful.

Mary is not, however, the only intercessor that stands between man and his God. There is an immense horde of saints who also occupy positions of honor about the heavenly throne. These immortal semi-human beings are created by a decree of the Roman pontiff and their canonization has often been due to whimsical reasoning. That all the apostles, martyrs, and early Christian fathers should have been raised to this holy peerage is not so remarkable; but that such honor should have been conferred on the wicked, unscrupulous, and vicious Constantine, and his almost unknown mother Helena; on the powerful and warlike Charlemagne; and on the ambitious and ungrateful Thomas à Becket, seems strange to say the least.

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Mademoiselle Cocotte, a Canine Ghost Story By Guy De Maupassant 1912


Mademoiselle Cocotte, a Canine Ghost Story By Guy De Maupassant 1912

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We were just leaving the asylum when I saw a tall, thin man in a corner of the court who kept on calling an imaginary dog. He was crying in a soft, tender voice: “Cocotte! Come here, Cocotte, my beauty!” and slapping his thigh as one does when calling an animal. I asked the physician, “Who is that man?” He answered: “Oh! he is not at all interesting. He is a coachman named Francois, who became insane after drowning his dog.”

I insisted: “Tell me his story. The most simple and humble things are sometimes those which touch our hearts most deeply.”

Here is this man’s adventure, which was obtained from a friend of his, a groom:

There was a family of rich bourgeois who lived in a suburb of Paris. They had a villa in the middle of a park, at the edge of the Seine. Their coachman was this Francois, a country fellow, somewhat dull, kind-hearted, simple and easy to deceive.

One evening, as he was returning home, a dog began to follow him. At first he paid no attention to it, but the creature’s obstinacy at last made him turn round. He looked to see if he knew this dog. No, he had never seen it. It was a female dog and frightfully thin. She was trotting behind him with a mournful and famished look, her tail between her legs, her ears flattened against her head and stopping and starting whenever he did.

He tried to chase this skeleton away and cried:

“Run along! Get out! Kss! kss!” She retreated a few steps, then sat down and waited. And when the coachman started to walk again she followed along behind him.

He pretended to pick up some stones. The animal ran a little farther away, but came back again as soon as the man’s back was turned.


Then the coachman Francois took pity on the beast and called her. The dog approached timidly. The man patted her protruding ribs, moved by the beast’s misery, and he cried: “Come! come here!”

Immediately she began to wag her tail, and, feeling herself taken in, adopted, she began to run along ahead of her new master.

He made her a bed on the straw in the stable, then he ran to the kitchen for some bread. When she had eaten all she could she curled up and went to sleep.

When his employers heard of this the next day they allowed the coachman to keep the animal. It was a good beast, caressing and faithful, intelligent and gentle.

Nevertheless Francois adored Cocotte, and he kept repeating: “That beast is human. She only lacks speech.”

He had a magnificent red leather collar made for her which bore these words engraved on a copper plate: “Mademoiselle Cocotte, belonging to the coachman Francois.”

She was remarkably prolific and four times a year would give birth to a batch of little animals belonging to every variety of the canine race. Francois would pick out one which he would leave her and then he would unmercifully throw the others into the river. But soon the cook joined her complaints to those of the gardener. She would find dogs under the stove, in the ice box, in the coal bin, and they would steal everything they came across.

Finally the master, tired of complaints, impatiently ordered Francois to get rid of Cocotte. In despair the man tried to give her away. Nobody wanted her. Then he decided to lose her, and he gave her to a teamster, who was to drop her on the other side of Paris, near Joinville-le-Pont.

Cocotte returned the same day. Some decision had to be taken. Five francs was given to a train conductor to take her to Havre. He was to drop her there.

Three days later she returned to the stable, thin, footsore and tired out.

The master took pity on her and let her stay. But other dogs were attracted as before, and one evening, when a big dinner party was on, a stuffed turkey was carried away by one of them right under the cook’s nose, and she did not dare to stop him.

This time the master completely lost his temper and said angrily to Francois: “If you don’t throw this beast into the water before—to-morrow morning, I’ll put you out, do you hear?”
The man was dumbfounded, and he returned to his room to pack his trunk, preferring to leave the place. Then he bethought himself that he could find no other situation as long as he dragged this animal about with him. He thought of his good position, where he was well paid and well fed, and he decided that a dog was really not worth all that. At last he decided to rid himself of Cocotte at daybreak.

He slept badly. He rose at dawn, and taking a strong rope, went to get the dog. She stood up slowly, shook herself, stretched and came to welcome her master.

Then his courage forsook him, and he began to pet her affectionately, stroking her long ears, kissing her muzzle and calling her tender names.

But a neighboring clock struck six. He could no longer hesitate. He opened the door, calling: “Come!” The beast wagged her tail, understanding that she was to be taken out.

They reached the beach, and he chose a place where the water seemed deep. Then he knotted the rope round the leather collar and tied a heavy stone to the other end. He seized Cocotte in his arms and kissed her madly, as though he were taking leave of some human being. He held her to his breast, rocked her and called her “my dear little Cocotte, my sweet little Cocotte,” and she grunted with pleasure.

Ten times he tried to throw her into the water and each time he lost courage.

But suddenly he made up his mind and threw her as far from him as he could. At first she tried to swim, as she did when he gave her a bath, but her head, dragged down by the stone, kept going under, and she looked at her master with wild, human glances as she struggled like a drowning person. Then the front part of her body sank, while her hind legs waved wildly out of the water. Finally those also disappeared.

Then, for five minutes, bubbles rose to the surface as though the river were boiling, and Francois, haggard, his heart beating, thought that he saw Cocotte struggling in the mud, and, with the simplicity of a peasant, he kept saying to himself: “What does the poor beast think of me now?”

He almost lost his mind. He was ill for a month and every night he dreamed of his dog. He could feel her licking his hands and hear her barking. It was necessary to call in a physician. At last he recovered, and toward the 2nd of June his employers took him to their estate at Biesard, near Rouen.

There again he was near the Seine. He began to take baths. Each morning he would go down with the groom and they would swim across the river.

One day, as they were disporting themselves in the water, Francois suddenly cried to his companion: “Look what’s coming! I’m going to give you a chop!”

It was an enormous, swollen corpse that was floating down with its feet sticking straight up in the air.

Francois swam up to it, still joking: “Whew! it’s not fresh. What a catch, old man! It isn’t thin, either!” He kept swimming about at a distance from the animal that was in a state of decomposition. Then, suddenly, he was silent and looked at it: attentively. This time he came near enough to touch, it. He looked fixedly at the collar, then he stretched out his arm, seized the neck, swung the corpse round and drew it up close to him and read on the copper which had turned green and which still stuck to the discolored leather: “Mademoiselle Cocotte, belonging to the coachman Francois.”

The dead dog had come more than a hundred miles to find its master.

He let out a frightful shriek and began to swim for the beach with all his might, still howling; and as soon as he touched land he ran away wildly, stark naked, through the country. He was insane!

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A Halloween Story by W.H. Davenport Adams 1882

A Halloween Story by W.H. Davenport Adams 1882

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A remarkable Halloween story is recorded in Dr. Robert Chambers’s valuable miscellany, “The Book of Days.” Mr. and Mrs. M., we are told, were a happy young couple, who, in the middle of the last century, resided on their own estate, in a pleasant part of the province of Leinster. Possessed of a handsome fortune, they spent their time in various rural avocations, until the birth of a child, a little girl, seemed to crown their felicity. On the Halloween following this notable event, the parents retired to rest at their usual hour, Mrs. M. cradling her infant on her bosom that she might be roused if it showed the least sign of uneasiness. From teething or some other ailment, the child, about midnight, became very restless, and not receiving the usual attention from its mother, woke up Mr. M. by its cries. He at once called his wife, and told her the baby was unwell; she made no answer. She seemed in an uneasy slumber, and in spite of all her husband’s efforts continued to sleep on, until he was compelled to take the child himself and endeavour to soothe it to rest. From sheer exhaustion it at last sank into silence, while the mother slumbered until a much later hour than usual. When she at last awoke, her husband told her of what had happened, and of the extent to which his night’s rest had been disturbed. “I, too,” she replied, “have passed the most miserable night I ever experienced: I now see that sleep and rest are two different things, for I never felt so unrefreshed in my life. How I wish you had been able to awake me—it would have spared me some of my fatigue and anxiety! I thought I was dragged against my will into a strange part of the country, where I had never been before, and, after what appeared to me a long and weary journey on foot, I arrived at a comfortable looking house. I went in longing to rest, but had no power to sit down, although there was a nice supper laid out before a good fire, and every appearance of preparations for an expected visitor. Exhausted as I felt, I was only allowed to stand for a minute or two, and then hurried away by the same road back again; but now it is over, and after all it was only a dream.”

Her husband listened with deep interest to this strange narrative, and then, sighing deeply, said, “My dear Sarah, you will not long have me beside you; whoever is to be your second husband played last night some evil trick, of which you have been the victim.”

Shocked as she naturally was by this assertion, she sought to subdue her own emotion, and to rally her husband’s spirits, hoping that the impression would pass from his mind as soon as he entered into the every-day work of life.

Months passed away, and both husband and wife had almost forgotten the Halloween dream, when Mr. M.’s health began to fail, and to fail so rapidly, that in spite of loving care and the best medical skill, he sank into a premature grave. His wife mourned him sincerely, but her natural energy and activity prevented her from yielding to a hopeless sorrow. She continued to farm her husband’s estate, and in this employment, and in the education of her little girl was able to divert her thoughts. Not less admired for her conspicuous ability, than beloved for her benevolence and amiability, she was more than once solicited to lay aside her widow’s weeds; but she persisted in a calm refusal. Her uncle, a man of much kindness of heart and clearness of judgment, frequently visited her, inspected her farm, and gave her advice and assistance. He had a nephew, whom we will call C., a prudent and energetic young man, in whom he had every confidence, and whenever they met, he would strongly recommend him to take to himself a wife, and “settle.” On one occasion C. replied that it was not his fault he still remained a bachelor, but he had never yet met with any woman whom he would care to call his wife. “Well, C.,” said his uncle, “you seem difficult to please, but I think I know a lady who would approve herself even to your fastidious taste.” After a good-humoured exchange of quip and repartee, the uncle invited the nephew to ride over with him next day, and be introduced to his niece, whom C. had never yet seen.

The invitation was accepted; the two friends set out early on the following morning, and after a pleasant ride drew near their destination. At a short distance they caught sight of Mrs. M. retiring towards her house after her usual daily inspection of her farm. Mr. C. started violently, and displayed a considerable agitation. Pointing towards the lady, he exclaimed, “Uncle, we need go no further, for if ever I am to be married, yonder goes my wife!” “Well, C.,” replied his uncle, “that is fortunate, for yonder lady is my niece, to whom I am about to introduce you. But tell me,” he continued, “is this what you call love at first sight? Or what do you mean by such a sudden decision in favour of a lady with whom you have never exchanged a word?” “Well, sir,” was the reply, “as I have betrayed myself, it is well that I should make full confession. A year or two ago, I was foolish enough to try a Halloween spell,—and sat up all night to watch the result. I declare to you most solemnly that the figure of that lady, as I now see her, entered my room, and looked at me. She stood a minute or two by the fire, and then disappeared as suddenly and as silently as she had entered. I was wide awake, and felt considerable remorse at having thus ventured to tamper with the powers of the Unseen World; but I assure you that every particular of her features, dress, and figure have been so present to my mind ever since, that I could not possibly make a mistake, and the moment I saw your niece I was convinced that she was indeed the woman whose image I saw on that never-forgotten Halloween.”

It is unnecessary to say that the uncle was considerably astonished at this extraordinary narrative, but he forbore to comment upon it, as by this time they had arrived at Mrs. M.’s house. The lady was delighted to see her uncle, and made his friend heartily welcome, discharging the duties of hostess with a simplicity and grace that fascinated her guest.

After her visitors had rested and refreshed themselves, her uncle walked out with her to inspect the farm, and seized the opportunity, in the absence of Mr. C., to bespeak for him his niece’s favourable consideration. Many words were unnecessary, for the impression produced had been mutually agreeable. Before leaving the house Mr. C. obtained Mrs. M.’s permission to visit her in the character of a suitor for her hand,—and after a brief courtship they were married. The story ends, as all such stories should end, with the affirmation that they lived long and happily together, and it was from their daughter that Dr. Chambers’s informant derived his knowledge of the preceding remarkable episode in their career.

Dr. Chambers assures us that the leading incidents of the narrative may be relied on as correct; but we think the reader will exercise a wise incredulity: that at all events his belief will not go beyond the admission of some possible resemblance, entirely accidental, between Mrs. M. and the lady whom the imaginative Mr. C. had seen in his Halloween dream, and whose image he had so carefully treasured in his memory.

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The History of the Planchette by Lewis Spence 1920


The History of the Planchette by Lewis Spence 1920

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Planchette: An instrument designed for the purpose of communication with spirits. It consists of a thin-heartshaped piece of wood, mounted on two small wheel-castors and carrying a pencil, point downwards, for the third support. The hand is placed on the wood and the pencil writes automatically, or presumably by spirit control operating through the psychic force of the medium.

In 1853, a well-known French spiritualist, M. Planchette, invented this instrument to which he gave his name. For quite fifteen years it was used exclusively by French spiritualists. Then in the year 1868 a firm of toy-makers in America took up the idea and flooded the booksellers' shops with great numbers of planchettes. It became a popular mania, and the instrument sold in thousands there and in Great Britain. It was, and is, largely used simply as a toy and any results obtained that may be arresting and seemingly inexplicable are explained by Animal Magnetism or traced to the power of subconscious thought.

Amongst spiritualists it has been used for spirit communication. Automatic writing has often been developed by use of the planchette, some mediums publishing books which, they claimed, were written wholly by their spirit-controls through the use of planchettes. Dr. Ashburnes, in his Spiritualism Chemically Explained says that the human body is a condensation of gases, which constantly exude from the skin in invisible vapour—otherwise electricity; that the fingers coming in contact with the planchette transmit to it an "odic force," and thus set it in motion. He goes on to say that some people have phosphorous in excess in their system and the vapour "thus exuded forms a positively living, thinking, acting body, capable of directing a pencil." There are variations on the planchette form such as the dial-planchette which consists of a foundation of thick cardboard nine inches square on the face of which the alphabet is printed and also the numerals one to ten. There are the words "Yes," "No," "Goodbye" and "Don't know." These letters, words, and numerals are printed on the outer edge of a circle, the diameter of which is about seven inches. In the centre of this circle, and firmly affixed to the cardboard, is a block of wood three inches square. The upper surface of this block has a circular channel in it and in this run balls. Over the balls is placed a circular piece of hard wood, five inches in diameter, and attached to the outer edge of this a pointer. The upper piece of wood is attached to the lower by an ordinary screw, upon which the upper plate revolves when used for communication. Another form is the Ouija board on which in a convenient order the letters of the alphabet are printed and over which a pointer easily moves under the direction of the hand of the person or persons acting as mediums. It is stated that a form of this "mystic toy" was in use in the days of Pythagoras, about 540 B.C. In a French history of Pythagoras, the author describing his celebrated school of philosophy, asserts that the brotherhood held frequent seances or circles at which a mystic table, moving on wheels, moved towards signs inscribed on the surface of a stone slab on which the moving-table worked. The author states that probably Pythagoras, in his travels among the Eastern nations, observed some such apparatus in use amongst them and adapted his idea from them. Another trace of some such "communicating mechanism" is found in the legend told by the Scandinavian Blomsturvalla how the people of Jomsvikingia in the twelfth century had a high priest, one Volsunga, whose predictions were renowned for their accuracy throughout the length and breadth of the land. He had in his possession a little ivory doll that drew with "a pointed instrument" on parchment or "other substance," certain signs to which the priest had the key. The communications were in every case prophetic utterances, and it is said in every case came true. The writer who recounts the legend thought it probable that the priest had procured the doll in China. In the National Museum at Stockholm there is a doll of this description which is worked by mechanism, and when wound up walks round and round in circles and occasionally uses its right arm to make curious signs with a pointed instrument like a stylo which is held in the hand. Its origin and use have been connected with the legend recounted above.

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