Rather King Than Majority

Monday, 30 June 2014

John Stuart Mill (1806–73). On Liberty.
Vol. 25, pp. 195-203 of The Harvard Classics

"Democracy" has not always been the choice of oppressed people. The tyranny of the majority is a recognized evil as harmful as the misrule of a king. And rather than exchange a lesser evil for a greater, a rule by king has often been preferred to a republic.


Chapter I
Introductory

THE SUBJECT of this Essay is not the so-called Liberty of the Will, so unfortunately opposed to the misnamed doctrine of Philosophical Necessity; but Civil, or Social Liberty: the nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual. A question seldom stated, and hardly ever discussed, in general terms, but which profoundly influences the practical controversies of the age by its latent presence, and is likely soon to make itself recognized as the vital question of the future. It is so far from being new, that, in a certain sense, it has divided mankind, almost from the remotest ages, but in the stage of progress into which the more civilized portions of the species have now entered, it presents itself under new conditions, and requires a different and more fundamental treatment.

"Is That a Dagger I See Before Me?"

Sunday, 29 June 2014

William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Tragedy of Macbeth.
Vol. 46, pp. 357-365 of The Harvard Classics

Macbeth, spurred on by the ambitious and crafty Lady Macbeth, committed murder to secure the crown of Scotland. But he paid dearly for his gain. Ghostly guests appeared at his banquet and threatened him with dire threats.
(Shakespeare's Globe Theatre burned June 29, 1613.)


Act III
Scene IV
[The same. Hall in the palace]
A banquet prepar’d. Enter MACBETH, LADY MACBETH, ROSS, LENNOX, Lords, and Attendants

  Macb.  You know your own degrees; sit down. At first
And last, the hearty welcome.
  Lords.        Thanks to your Majesty.
  Macb.  Ourself will mingle with society
And play the humble host.
Our hostess keeps her state, 1 but in best time
We will require her welcome.
  Lady M.  Pronounce it for me, sir, to all our friends,
For my heart speaks they are welcome.

Pages from the Pampas Book of Etiquette

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Charles Darwin

Charles Robert Darwin (1809–1882). The Voyage of the Beagle.
Vol. 29, pp. 51-60 of The Harvard Classics

A very definite etiquette is followed by a stranger on the vast plains of South America. "Ave Maria" is the common salutation. If the stranger is on horseback, he does not alight until invited to do so by his host. Once in the house, the stranger must converse a while before asking shelter for the night.


Chapter III

[…]

  At night we came to the house of Don Juan Fuentes, a rich landed proprietor, but not personally known to either of my companions. On approaching the house of a stranger, it is usual to follow several little points of etiquette: riding up slowly to the door, the salutation of Ave Maria is given, and until somebody comes out and asks you to alight, it is not customary even to get off your horse: the formal answer of the owner is, “sin pecado concebida”—that is, conceived without sin. Having entered the house, some general conversation is kept up for a few minutes, till permission is asked to pass the night there. This is granted as a matter of course. The stranger then takes his meals with the family, and a room is assigned him, where with the horsecloths belonging to his recado (or saddle of the Pampas) he makes his bed. It is curious how similar circumstances produce such similar results in manners. At the Cape of Good Hope the same hospitality, and very nearly the same points of etiquette, are universally observed. The difference, however, between the character of the Spaniard and that of the Dutch boer is shown, by the former never asking his guest a single question beyond the strictest rule of politeness, whilst the honest Dutchman demands where he has been, where he is going, what is his business, and even how many brothers, sisters, or children he may happen to have.

Do You Take Poison Daily?

Friday, 27 June 2014

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon. (1561–1626). Essays, Civil and Moral.
Vol. 3 pp. 22-26 of The Harvard Classics

There is a human trait most poisonous to a man's blood. Man seeks to avoid it because he knows that it lies like a curse upon him. Just what is the poisonous human failing? Who are most subject to it? Bacon tells you in one of his best essays.
(Francis Bacon enrolled at Cambridge University, June 27, 1576.)


IX
Of Envy

THERE be none of the affections which have been noted to fascinate or bewitch, but love and envy. They both have vehement wishes; they frame themselves readily into imaginations and suggestions; and they come easily into the eye, especially upon the presence of the objects; which are the points that conduce to fascination, if any such thing there be. We see likewise the Scripture calleth envy an evil eye; and the astrologers call the evil influences of the stars evil aspects; so that still there seemeth to be acknowledged, in the act of envy, an ejaculation 1 or irradiation of the eye. Nay some have been so curious as to note that the times when the stroke or percussion of an envious eye doth most hurt are when the party envied is beheld in glory or triumph; for that sets an edge upon envy: and besides, at such times the spirits of the person envied do come forth most into the outward parts, and so meet the blow.


  But leaving these curiosities (though not unworthy to be thought on in fit place), we will handle, what persons are apt to envy others; what persons are most subject to be envied themselves; and what is the difference between public and private envy.


  A man that hath no virtue in himself, ever envieth virtue in others. For men’s minds will either feed upon their own good or upon others’ evil; and who wanteth the one will prey upon the other; and whoso is out of hope to attain to another’s virtue, will seek to come at even hand by depressing another’s fortune.


  A man that is busy and inquisitive is commonly envious. For to know much of other men’s matters cannot be because all that ado may concern his own estate; therefore it must needs be that he taketh a kind of play-pleasure in looking upon the fortunes of others. Neither can he that mindeth but his own business find much matter for envy. For envy is a gadding passion, and walketh the streets, and doth not keep home: Non est curiosus, quin idem sit malevolus [There is no curious man but has some malevolence to quicken his curiosity].


  Men of noble birth are noted to be envious towards new men when they rise. For the distance is altered, and it is like a deceit of the eye, that when others come on they think themselves go back.


  Deformed persons, and eunuchs, and old men, and bastards, are envious. For he that cannot possibly mend his own case will do what he can to impair another’s; except these defects light upon a very brave and heroical nature, which thinketh to make his natural wants part of his honor; in that it should be said, that an eunuch, or a lame man, did such great matters; affecting the honor of a miracle; as it was in Narses the eunuch, and Agesilaus and Tamberlanes, that were lame men.


  The same is the case of men that rise after calamities and misfortunes. For they are as men fallen out with the times; and think other men’s harms a redemption of their own sufferings.


  They that desire to excel in too many matters, out of levity and vain glory, are ever envious. For they cannot want work; it being impossible but many in some one of those things should surpass them. Which was the character of Adrian the Emperor; that mortally envied poets and painters and artificers, in works wherein he had a vein to excel.


  Lastly, near kinsfolks, and fellows in office, and those that have been bred together, are more apt to envy their equals when they are raised. For it doth upbraid unto them their own fortunes, and pointeth at them, and cometh oftener into their remembrance, and incurreth 2 likewise more into the note of others; and envy ever redoubleth from speech and fame. Cain’s envy was the more vile and malignant towards his brother Abel, because when his sacrifice was better accepted there was no body to look on. Thus much for those that are apt to envy.


  Concerning those that are more or less subject to envy: First, persons of eminent virtue, when they are advanced, are less envied. For their fortune seemeth but due unto them; and no man envieth the payment of a debt, but rewards and liberality rather. Again, envy is ever joined with the comparing of a man’s self; and where there is no comparison, no envy; and therefore kings are not envied but by kings. Nevertheless it is to be noted that unworthy persons are most envied at their first coming in, and afterwards overcome it better; whereas contrariwise, persons of worth and merit are most envied when their fortune continueth long. For by that time, though their virtue be the same, yet in hath not the same lustre; for fresh men grow up that darken it.


  Persons of noble blood are less envied in their rising. For it seemeth but right done to their birth. Besides, there seemeth not much added to their fortune; and envy is as the sunbeams, that beat hotter upon a bank or steep rising ground, than upon a flat. And for the same reason those that are advanced by degrees are less envied than those that are advanced suddenly and per saltum [at a bound].


  Those that have joined with their honor great travels, 3 cares, or perils, are less subject to envy. For men think that they earn their honors hardly, and pity them sometimes; and pity even healeth envy. Wherefore you shall observe that the more deep and sober sort of politic persons, 4 in their greatness, are ever bemoaning themselves, what a life they lead; chanting aquanta patimur [how great things do we suffer!]. Not that they feel it so, but only to abate the edge of envy. But this is to be understood of business that is laid upon men, and not such as they call unto themselves. For nothing increaseth envy more than an unnecessary and ambitious engrossing of business. And nothing doth extinguish envy more than for a great person to preserve all other inferior officers in their full rights and pre-eminences of their places. For by that means there be so many screens between him and envy.


  Above all, those are most subject to envy, which carry the greatness of their fortunes in an insolent and proud manner; being never well but while they are showing how great they are, either by outward pomp, or by triumphing over all opposition or competition; whereas wise men will rather do sacrifice to envy, in suffering themselves sometimes of purpose to be crossed and overborne in things that do not much concern them. Notwithstanding, so much is true, that the carriage of greatness in a plain and open manner (so it be without arrogancy and vain glory) doth draw less envy than if it be in a more crafty and cunning fashion. For in that course a man doth but disavow fortune; and seemeth to be conscious of his own want in worth; and doth but teach others to envy him.


  Lastly, to conclude this part; as we said in the beginning that the act of envy had somewhat in it of witchcraft, so there is no other cure of envy but the cure of witchcraft; and that is, to remove the lot 5 (as they call it) and to lay it upon another. For which purpose, the wiser sort of great persons bring in ever upon the stage somebody upon whom to derive 6 the envy that would come upon themselves; sometimes upon ministers and servants; sometimes upon colleagues and associates; and the like; and for that turn there are never wanting some persons of violent and undertaking natures, who, so they may have power and business, will take it at any cost.


  Now, to speak of public envy. There us yet some good in public envy, whereas in private there is none. For public envy is as an ostracism, that eclipseth men when they grow too great. And therefore it is a bridle also to great ones, to keep them within bounds.


  This envy, being in the Latin word invidia, goeth in the modern languages by the name ofdiscontentment; of which we shall speak in handling sedition. It is a disease in a state like to infection. For as infection spreadeth upon that which is sound, and tainteth it; so when envy is gotten once into a state, it traduceth even the best actions thereof, and turneth them into an ill odor. And therefore there is little won by intermingling of plausible 7 actions. For that doth argue but a weakness and fear of envy, which hurteth so much the more, as it is likewise usual in infections; which if you fear them, you call them upon you.


  This public envy seemeth to beat chiefly upon principal officers or ministers, rather than upon kings and estates themselves. But this is a sure rule, that if the envy upon the minister be great, when the cause of it in him is small; or if the envy be general in a manner upon all the ministers of an estate; then the envy (though hidden) is truly upon the state itself. And so much of public envy or discontentment, and the difference thereof from private envy, which was handled in the first place.


  We will add this in general, touching the affection of envy; that of all other affections it is the most importune and continual. For of other affections there is occasion given but now and then; and therefore it was well said, Invidia festos dies non agit [Envy keeps no holidays]: for it is ever working upon some or other. And it is also noted that love and envy do make a man pine, which other affections do not, because they are not so continual. It is also the vilest affection, and the most depraved; for which cause it is the proper attribute of the devil, who is called the envious man, that soweth tares amongst the wheat by night; as it always cometh to pass, that envy worketh subtilly, and in the dark, and to the prejudice of good things, such as is the wheat.


Note 1. Darting out
Note 2. Runneth into.
Note 3. Travails, labors.
Note 4. Politicians.
Note 5. Spell.
Note 6. Divert.

Note 7. Praiseworthy.

In the Lair of the Green-Eyed Monster

Thursday, 26 June 2014

The first page of Beowulf

Beowulf.
Vol. 49, pp. 45-50 of The Harvard Classics

At the bottom of the ocean was the home of the monster who had desolated the king's halls. Beowulf, bravest of warriors, descended beneath the waves to fight the beast. The king's men, waiting above, saw the waves become colored with blood. Hero or monster - who had won?


XXI

[...]

BEOWULF spake, bairn of Ecgtheow:
“Sorrow not, sage! It beseems us better
friends to avenge than fruitlessly mourn them.
Each of us all must his end abide
in the ways of the world; so win who may
glory ere death! When his days are told,
that is the warrior’s worthiest doom.
Rise, O realm-warder! Ride we anon,
and mark the trail of the mother of Grendel.
No harbor shall hide her—heed my promise!—
enfolding of field or forested mountain
or floor of the flood, let her flee where she will!
But thou this day endure in patience,
as I ween thou wilt, thy woes each one.”
Leaped up the graybeard: God he thanked,
mighty Lord, for the man’s brave words.

Advice to Virgins from a Wise Man

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Portrait of Robert Herrick

Robert Herrick (1591–1674), Selected Poetry
Vol. 40, pp. 334-340 of The Harvard Classics

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying; And this same flower that smiles today, to-morrow will be dying?" Herrick was only a humble country minister with a wealth of wisdom and a keen appreciation of life, which he expressed in lyrics of wonderful beauty and melody.


Cherry-Ripe

CHERRY-RIPE, ripe, ripe, I cry,
Full and fair ones; come and buy.
If so be you ask me where
They do grow, I answer: There
Where my Julia’s lips do smile;
There’s the land, or cherry-isle,
Whose plantations fully show
All the year where cherries grow.

Had No Right Hand

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

A manuscript of 1001 Nights

Stories from the Thousand and One Nights.
Vol. 16, pp. 120-133 of The Harvard Classics

A handsome young man was seen to eat only with his left hand, which was contrary to the customs of Arabia. The youth, when urged, told why he used only his left hand, and revealed a story of love and adventure and the lover's need for gold - all happening in ancient Cairo.


Nights 24–32
The Story Told by the Christian Broker

KNOW, O King of the age, that I came to this country with merchandise, and destiny stayed me among your people. I was born in Cairo, and am one of its Copts, and there I was brought up. My father was a broker; and when I had attained to manhood, he died, and I succeeded to his business; and as I was sitting one day, lo, a young man of most handsome aspect, and clad in a dress of the richest description, came to me, riding upon an ass, and when he saw me, saluted me; whereupon I rose to him, to pay him honour, and he produced a handkerchief containing some sesame, and said, What is the value of an ardebb 1 of this? I answered him, A hundred pieces of silver. And he said to me, Take the carriers and the measures, and repair to the Khan of El-Jawali in the district of Bab En-Nasr: 2 there wilt thou find me. And he left me and went his way, after having given me the handkerchief with the sample of the sesame. So I went about to the purchasers; and the price of each ardebb amounted to a hundred and twenty pieces of silver; and I took with me four carriers, and went to him. I found him waiting my arrival; and when he saw me he rose and opened a magazine, and we measured its contents, and the whole amounted to fifty ardebbs. The young man then said, Thou shalt have, for every ardebb, ten pieces of silver as brokerage; and do thou receive the price and keep it in thy care: the whole sum will be five thousand; and thy share of it, five hundred: so there will remain for me four thousand and five hundred; and when I shall have finished the sale of the goods contained in my store-room, I will come to thee and receive it. I replied, It shall be as thou desirest. And I kissed his hand, and left him. Thus there accrued to me, on that day, a thousand pieces of silver, [besides my brokerage.]

Greek Scholar at Three

Monday, 23 June 2014

John Stuart Mill

John Stuart Mill (1806–73). Autobiography.
Vol. 25, pp. 9-20 of The Harvard Classics

John Stuart Mill - one of the greatest intellects in England - tells how his father educated him. At the early age of three years he began the study of Greek, and at twelve started writing a book of his own.
(James Mill, father of John Stuart Mill, died June 23, 1836.)



Chapter I
Childhood and Early Education

  A man who, in his own practice, so vigorously acted up to the principle of losing no time, was likely to adhere to the same rule in the instruction of his pupil. I have no remembrance of the time when I began to learn Greek. I have been told that it was when I was three years old. My earliest recollection on the subject, is that of committing to memory what my father termed Vocables, being lists of common Greek words, with their signification in English, which he wrote out for me on cards. Of grammar, until some years later, I learnt no more than the inflexions of the nouns and verbs, but, after a course of vocables, proceeded at once to translation; and I faintly remember going through Æsop’s Fables, the first Greek book which I read. The Anabasis, which I remember better, was the second. I learnt no Latin until my eighth year. At that time I had read, under my father’s tuition, a number of Greek prose authors, among whom I remember the whole of Herodotus, and of Xenophon’s Cyropædia and Memorials of Socrates; some of the lives of the philosophers by Diogenes Laertius; part of Lucian, and Isocrates ad Demonicum and Ad Nicoclem. I also read, in 1813, the first six dialogues (in the common arrangement) of Plato, from the Euthyphron to the Theaetetus inclusive: which last dialogue, I venture to think, would have been better omitted, as it was totally impossible I should understand it. But my father, in all his teaching, demanded of me not only the utmost that I could do, but much that I could by no possibility have done. What he was himself willing to undergo for the sake of my instruction, may be judged from the fact, that I went through the whole process of preparing my Greek lessons in the same room and at the same table at which he was writing: and as in those days Greek and English lexicons were not, and I could make no more use of a Greek and Latin lexicon than could be made without having yet begun to learn Latin, I was forced to have recourse to him for the meaning of every word which I did not know. This incessant interruption, he, one of the most impatient of men, submitted to, and wrote under that interruption several volumes of his History and all else that he had to write during those years.

Pliny Tells Ghost Stories

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Pliny the Younger

Pliny the Younger (A.D. 62?–c.A.D. 113). Letters.
Vol. 9, pp. 311-314 of The Harvard Classics

Pliny, who lived in the first century after Christ, tells of a ghost who dragged his jangling chains through a house in Athens and so terrified the inmates that they fled panic-stricken. But the ghost met his equal.


LXXII. To Maximus

YOU did perfectly right in promising a gladiatorial combat to our good friends the citizens of Verona, who have long loved, looked up to, and honoured you; while it was from that city too you received that amiable object of your most tender affection, your late excellent wife. And since you owed some monument or public representation to her memory, what other spectacle could you have exhibited more appropriate to the occasion? Besides, you were so unanimously pressed to do so that to have refused would have looked more like hardness than resolution. The readiness too with which you granted their petition, and the magnificent manner in which you performed it, is very much to your honour; for a greatness of soul is seen in these smaller instances, as well as in matters of higher moment. I wish the African panthers, which you had largely provided for this purpose, had arrived on the day appointed, but though they were delayed by the stormy weather, the obligation to you is equally the same, since it was not your fault that they were not exhibited. Farewell.

Would You Converse with Royalty?

Saturday, 21 June 2014

John Ruskin

John Ruskin (1819 – 1900), Sesame and Lilies. Lecture I.—Sesame: Of Kings’ Treasuries
Vol. 28, pp. 99-110 of The Harvard Classics

Why gossip with lesser persons when you might be talking to queens and kings? Just how we may get to talk to queens and kings, Ruskin delightfully points out and escorts us to the very doors of the audience chamber.

[...]

  But, again, I ask you, do you at all believe in honesty, or at all in kindness? or do you think there is never any honesty or benevolence in wise people? None of us, I hope, are so unhappy as to think that. Well, whatever bit of a wise man’s work is honestly and benevolently done, that bit is his book, or his piece of art. 1 It is mixed always with evil fragments—ill-done, redundant, affected work. But if you read rightly, you will easily discover the true bits, and those are the book.


  11. Now books of this kind have been written in all ages by their greatest men:—by great readers, great statesmen, and great thinkers. These are all at your choice; and Life is short. You have heard as much before;—yet have you measured and mapped out this short life and its possibilities? Do you know, if you read this, that you cannot read that—that what you lose to-day you cannot gain to-morrow? Will you go and gossip with your housemaid, or your stable-boy, when you may talk with queens and kings; or flatter yourselves that it is with any worthy consciousness of your own claims to respect that you jostle with the hungry and common crowd for entrée here, and audience there, when all the while this eternal court is open to you, with its society, wide as the world, multitudinous as its days, the chosen, and the mighty, of every place and time? Into that you may enter always; in that you may take fellowship and rank according to your wish; from that, once entered into it, you can never be outcast but by your own fault; by your aristocracy of companionship there, your own inherent aristocracy will be assuredly tested, and the motives with which you strive to take high place in the society of the living, measured, as to all the truth and sincerity that are in them, by the place you desire to take in this company of the Dead.

No Salt for These Birds

Friday, 20 June 2014

HMS Beagle by Conrad Martens

Charles Robert Darwin (1809–1882). The Voyage of the Beagle.
Vol. 29, pp. 403-413 of The Harvard Classics

Galapagos Islands are the home of fearless birds, to which horses, cows, and men are only roosting places. Darwin saw the South Pacific when few travelers knew that wonderland.


Chapter XVII

[…]

  I will conclude my description of the natural history of these islands, by giving an account of the extreme tameness of the birds.


  This disposition is common to all the terrestrial species; namely, to the mocking-thrushes, the finches, wrens, tyrant-flycatchers, the dove, and carrion-buzzard. All of them are often approached sufficiently near to be killed with a switch, and sometimes, as I myself tried, with a cap or hat. A gun is here almost superfluous; for with the muzzle I pushed a hawk off the branch of a tree. One day, whilst lying down, a mocking-thrush alighted on the edge of a pitcher, made of the shell of a tortoise, which I held in my hand, and began very quietly to sip the water; it allowed me to lift it from the ground whilst seated on the vessel: I often tried, and very nearly succeeded, in catching these birds by their legs. Formerly the birds appear to have been even tamer than at present. Cowley (in the year 1684) says that the “Turtledoves were so tame, that they would often alight on our hats and arms, so as that we could take them alive; they not fearing man, until such time as some of our company did fire at them, whereby they were rendered more shy.” Dampier also, in the same year, says that a man in a morning’s walk might kill six or seven dozen of these doves. At present, although certainly very tame, they do not alight on people’s arms, nor do they suffer themselves to be killed in such large numbers. It is surprising that they have not become wilder; for these islands during the last hundred and fifty years have been frequently visited by bucaniers and whalers; and the sailors, wandering through the wood in search of tortoises, always take cruel delight in knocking down the little birds.

Freaks of the Dog Fad in England

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Holinshed's Chronicles
Vol. 35, pp. 350-356 of The Harvard Classics

A writer of Elizabethan times said that no other country had as many dogs as England. Once Henry VII ordered all mastiffs to be hung because they "durst presume to fight against the lion," England's regal beast.



Chapter XV
Of Our English Dogs and Their Qualities
[1577, Book III., Chapter 13; 1587, Book III., Chapter 7.]

THERE is no country that may (as I take it) compare with ours in number, excellency, and diversity of dogs.


  The first sort therefore he divideth either into such as rouse the beast, and continue the chase, or springeth the bird, and bewrayeth her flight by pursuit. And as these are commonly called spaniels, so the other are named hounds, whereof he maketh eight sorts, of which the foremost excelleth in perfect smelling, the second in quick espying, the third in swiftness and quickness, the fourth in smelling and nimbleness, etc., and the last in subtlety and deceitfulness. These (saith Strabo) are most apt for game, and called Sagaces by a general name, not only because of their skill in hunting, but also for that they know their own and the names of their fellows most exactly. For if the hunter see any one to follow skilfully, and with likelihood of good success, he biddeth the rest to hark and follow such a dog, and they eftsoones obey so soon as they hear his name. The first kind of these are often called harriers, whose game is the fox, the hare, the wolf (if we had any), hart, buck, badger, otter, polecat, lopstart, weasel, conie, etc.: the second height a terrier and it hunteth the badger and grey only: the third a bloodhound, whose office is to follow the fierce, and now and then to pursue a thief or beast by his dry foot: the fourth height a gazehound, who hunteth by the eye: the fifth a greyhound, cherished for his strength and swiftness and stature, commended by Bratius in his De Venatione, and not unremembered by Hercules Stroza in a like treatise, and above all other those of Britain, where he saith: “Magna spectandi mole Britanni:” also by Nemesianus, libro Cynegeticôn, where he saith: “Divisa Britannia mittit Veloces nostrique orbis venatibus aptos,” of which sort also some be smooth, of sundry colours, and some shake-haired: the sixth a liemer, that excelleth in smelling and swift-running: the seventh a tumbler: and the eighth a thief whose offices (I mean of the latter two) incline only to deceit, wherein they are oft so skilful that few men would think so mischievous a wit to remain in such silly creatures. Having made this enumeration of dogs which are apt for the chase and hunting, he cometh next to such as serve the falcons in their time, whereof he maketh also two sorts. One that findeth his game on the land, another that putteth up such fowl as keepeth in the water: and of these this is commonly most usual for the net or train, the other for the hawk, as he doth shew at large. Of the first he saith that they have no peculiar names assigned to them severally, but each of them is called after the bird which by natural appointment he is alloted to hunt or serve, for which consideration some be named dogs for the pheasant, some for the falcon, and some for the partridge. Howbeit the common name for all is spaniel (saith he), and thereupon alluded as if these kinds of dogs had been brought hither out of Spain. In like sort we have of water spaniels in their kind. The third sort of dogs of the gentle kind is the spaniel gentle, or comforter, or (as the common term is) the fistinghound, and those are called Melitei, of the Island Malta, from whence they were brought hither. These are little and pretty, proper and fine, and sought out far and near to falsify the nice delicacy of dainty dames, and wanton women’s wills, instruments of folly to play and dally withal, in trifling away the treasure of time, to withdraw their minds from more commendable exercises, and to content their corrupt concupiscences with vain disport—a silly poor shift to shun their irksome idleness. The Sybaritical puppies the smaller they be (and thereto if they have a hole in the fore parts of their heads) the better they are accepted, the more pleasure also they provoke, as meet playfellows for mincing mistresses to bear in their bosoms, to keep company withal in their chambers, to succour with sleep in bed, and nourish with meat at board, to lie in their laps, and lick their lips as they lie (like young Dianas) in their waggons and coaches. And good reason it should be so, for coarseness with fineness hath no fellowship, but featness with neatness hath neighbourhood enough. That plausible proverb therefore versified sometime upon a tyrant—namely, that he loved his sow better than his son—may well be applied to some of this kind of people, who delight more in their dogs, that are deprived of all possibility of reason, than they do in children that are capable of wisdom and judgment. Yea, they oft feed them of the best where the poor man’s child at their doors can hardly come by the worst. But the former abuse peradventure reigneth where there hath been long want of issue, else where barrenness is the best blossom of beauty: or, finally, where poor men’s children for want of their own issue are not ready to be had. It is thought of some that it is very wholesome for a weak stomach to bear such a dog in the bosom, as it is for him that hath the palsy to feel the daily smell and savour of a fox. But how truly this is affirmed let the learned judge: only it shall suffice for Doctor Caius to have said thus much of spaniels and dogs of the gentle kind.


  Dogs of the homely kind are either shepherd’s curs or mastiffs. The first are so common that it needeth me not to speak of them. Their use also is so well known in keeping the herd together (either when they grass or go before the shepherd) that it should be but in vain to spend any time about them. Wherefore I will leave this cur unto his own kind, and go in hand with the mastiff, tie dog, or band dog, so called because many of them are tied up in chains and strong bonds in the daytime, for doing hurt abroad, which is a huge dog, stubborn, ugly, eager, burthenous of body (and therefore of but little swiftness), terrible and fearful to behold, and oftentimes more fierce and fell than any Archadian or Corsican cur. Our Englishmen, to the extent that these dogs may be more cruel and fierce, assist nature with some art, use, and custom. For although this kind of dog be capable of courage, violent, valiant, stout, and bold: yet will they increase these their stomachs by teaching them to bait the bear, the bull, the lion, and other such like cruel and bloody beasts (either brought over or kept up at home for the same purpose), without any collar to defend their throats, and oftentimes there too they train them up in fighting and wrestling with a man (having for the safeguard of his life either a pikestaff, club, sword, privy coat), whereby they become the more fierce and cruel unto strangers. The Caspians make so much account sometimes of such great dogs that every able man would nourish sundry of them in his house of set purpose, to the end they should devour their carcases after their deaths thinking the dog’s bellies to be the most honourable sepulchres. The common people also followed the same rate, and therefore there were tie dogs kept up by public ordinance, to devour them after their deaths: by means whereof these beasts became the more eager, and with great difficulty after a while restrained from falling upon the living. But whither am I digressed? In returning therefore to our own, I say that of mastiffs, some bark only with fierce and open mouth but will not bite; but the cruelest do either not bark at all or bite before they bark, and therefore are more to be feared than any of the other. They take also their name of the word “mase” and “thief” (or “master-thief” if you will), because they often stound and put such persons to their shifts in towns and villages, and are the principal causes of their apprehension and taking. The force which is in them surmounteth all belief, and the fast hold which they take with their teeth exceedeth all credit: for three of them against a bear, four against a lion, are sufficient to try mastries with them. King Henry the Seventh, as the report goeth, commanded all such curs to be hanged, because they durst presume to fight against the lion, who is their king and sovereign. The like he did with an excellent falcon, as some say, because he feared not hand-to-hand match with an eagle, willing his falconers in his own presence to pluck off his head after he was taken down, saying that it was not meet for any subject to offer such wrong unto his lord and superior, wherein he had a further meaning. But if King Henry the Seventh had lived in our time what would he have done to our English mastiff, which alone and without any help at all pulled down first a huge bear, then a pard, and last of all a lion, each after other before the French king in one day, when the Lord Buckhurst was ambassador unto him, and whereof if I should write the circumstances, that is, how he took his advantage being let loose unto them, and finally drave them into such exceeding fear, that they were all glad to run away when he was taken from them, I should take much pains, and yet reap but small credit: wherefore it shall suffice to have said thus much thereof. Some of our mastiffs will rage only in the night, some are to be tied up both day and night. Such also as are suffered to go loose about the house and yard are so gentle in the daytime that children may ride on their backs and play with them at their pleasures. Divers of them likewise are of such jealousy over their master and whosoever of his household, that if a stranger do embrace or touch any of them, they will fall fiercely upon them, unto their extreme mischief if their fury be not prevented. Such a one was the dog of Nichomedes, king sometime of Bithynia, who seeing Consigne the queen to embrace and kiss her husband as they walked together in a garden, did tear her all to pieces, maugre his resistance and the present aid of such as attended on them. Some of them moreover will suffer a stranger to come in and walk about the house or yard where he listeth, without giving over to follow him: but if he put forth his hand to touch anything, then will they fly upon them and kill them if they may. I had one myself once, which would not suffer any man to bring in his weapon further than my gate: neither those that were of my house to be touched in his presence. Or if I had beaten any of my children, he would gently have essayed to catch the rod in his teeth and take it out of my hand or else pluck down their clothes to save them from the stripes: which in my opinion is not unworthy to be noted.


  The last sort of dogs consisteth of the currish kind meet for many toys, of which the whappet or prick-eared cur is one. Some men call them warners, because they are good for nothing else but to bark and give warning when anybody doth stir or lie in wait about the house in the night season. Certes it is impossible to describe these curs in any order, because they have no one kind proper unto themselves, but are a confused company mixed of all the rest. The second sort of them are called turnspits, whose office is not unknown to any. And as these are only reserved for this purpose, so in many places our mastiffs (beside the use which tinkers have of them in carrying their heavy budgets) are made to draw water in great wheels out of deep wells, going much like unto those which are framed for our turnspits, as is to be seen at Roiston, where this feat is often practised. Besides these also we have sholts or curs daily brought out of Ireland, and made much of among us, because of their sauciness and quarrelling. Moreover they bite very sore, and love candles exceedingly, as do the men and women of their country; but I may say no more of them, because they are not bred with us. Yet this will I make report of by the way, for pastime’s sake, that when a great man of those parts came of late into one of our ships which went thither for fish, to see the form and fashion of the same, his wife apparelled in fine sables, abiding on the deck whilst her husband was under the hatches with the mariners, espied a pound or two of candles hanging on the mast, and being loath to stand there idle alone, she fell to and eat them up every one, supposing herself to have been at a jolly banquet, and shewing very pleasant gesture when her husband came up again unto her.


  The last kind of toyish curs are named dancers, and those being of a mongrel sort also, are taught and exercised to dance in measure at the musical sound of an instrument, as at the just stroke of a drum, sweet accent of the citharne, and pleasant harmony of the harp, shewing many tricks by the gesture of their bodies: as to stand bolt upright, to lie flat on the ground, to turn round as a ring holding their tails in their teeth, to saw and beg for meat, to take a man’s cap from his head, and sundry such properties, which they learn of their idle roguish masters, whose instruments they are to gather gain, as old apes clothed in motley and coloured short-waisted jackets are for the like vagabonds, who seek no better living than that which they may get by fond pastime and idleness. I might here intreat of other dogs, as of those which are bred between a bitch and a wolf, also between a bitch and a fox, or a bear and a mastiff. But as we utterly want the first sort, except they be brought unto us: so it happeneth sometimes that the other two are engendered and seen at home amongst us. But all the rest heretofore remembered in this chapter there is none more ugly and odious in sight, cruel and fierce in deed, nor untractable in hand, than that which is begotten between the bear and the bandog. For whatsoever he catcheth hold of he taketh it so fast that a man may sooner tear and rend his body in sunder than get open his mouth to separate his chaps. Certes he regardeth neither wolf, bear, nor lion, and therefore may well be compared with those two dogs which were sent to Alexander out of India (and procreated as it is thought between a mastiff and a male tiger, as be those also of Hircania), or to them that are bred in Archadia, where copulation is oft seen between lions and bitches, as the lion is in France (as I said) between she wolves and dogs, whereof let this suffice, sith the further tractation of them doth not concern my purpose, more than the confutation of Cardan’s talk, De subt., lib. 10, who saith that after many generations dogs do become wolves, and contrariwise, which if it were true, then could not England be without many wolves: but nature hath set a difference between them, not only in outward form, but also inward disposition of their bones, whereof it is impossible that his assertion can be sound.


Cinderella Lives To-day

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Cinderella by Anne Anderson

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Household Tales.
Vol. 17, pp. 98-104 of The Harvard Classics

Cinderella inspires all alike - the artist's brush, the author's pen, the child's fancy. To-day she is a living, vital character to be seen on stage and screen. No one ever forgets her lightning change.


Cinderella

THE WIFE of a rich man fell sick, and as she felt that her end was drawing near, she called her only daughter to her bedside and said, “Dear child, be good and pious, and then the good God will always protect thee, and I will look down on thee from heaven and be near thee.” Thereupon she closed her eyes and departed. Every day the maiden went out to her mother’s grave and wept, and she remained pious and good. When winter came the snow spread a white sheet over the grave, and when the spring sun had drawn it off again, the man had taken another wife.

Risked His Scalp in Prayer

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

John Eliot, Apostle to the Indians

John Eliot (1604–1690), Brief Narrative
Vol. 43, pp. 138-146 of The Harvard Classics

John Eliot put his life at the mercy of the redmen to get them to listen to his preachings. He wrote vividly about his settlements of Christian Indians. Now villages and Indians have disappeared. Only his story remains.
(John Eliot holds Indian prayer meeting June 17, 1670.)

Spirits at the Top of the World

Monday, 16 June 2014

A scene from Manfred by Thomas Cole (1833)

Lord Byron (1788–1824). Manfred.
Vol. 18. pp. 415-428 of The Harvard Classics

The inaccessible mountain tops were ever venerated as the haunts of all mysteries. Manfred, hero of Byron's play, seeks upon the high Alps the aid of spirits, specters, and goblins. What unearthly adventures await him!
(Byron publishes "Manfred," June 16, 1817.)


Act I
Scene II

The Mountain of the Jungfrau.—Time, Morning. MANFRED alone upon the Cliffs.

  Man.  The spirits I have raised abandon me,
The spells which I have studied baffle me,
The remedy I reck’d of tortured me;
I lean no more on superhuman aid,
It hath no power upon the past, and for
The future, till the past be gulf’d in darkness,
It is not of my search.—My mother Earth!
And thou fresh breaking Day, and you, ye Mountains,
Why are ye beautiful? I cannot love ye.
And thou, the bright eye of the universe,
That openest over all, and unto all
Art a delight—thou shin’st not on my heart.
And you, ye crags, upon whose extreme edge
I stand, and on the torrent’s brink beneath
Behold the tall pines dwindled as to shrubs
In dizziness of distance; when a leap,
A stir, a motion, even a breath, would bring
My breast upon its rocky bosom’s bed
To rest for ever—wherefore do I pause?
I feel the impulse—yet I do not plunge;
I see the peril—yet do not recede;
And my brain reels—and yet my foot is firm.
There is a power upon me which withholds,
And makes it my fatality to live;
If it be life to wear within myself
This barrenness of spirit, and to be
My own soul’s sepulchre, for I have ceased
To justify my deeds unto myself—
The last infirmity of evil. Ay,
Thou winged and cloud—cleaving minister,  [An eagle passes.
Whose happy flight is highest into heaven,
Well may’st thou swoop so near me—I should be
Thy prey, and gorge thine eaglets; thou art gone
Where the eye cannot follow thee; but thine
Yet pierces downward, onward, or above,
With a pervading vision.—Beautiful!
How beautiful is all this visible world!
How glorious in its action and itself!
But we, who name ourselves its sovereigns, we,
Half dust, half deity, alike unfit
To sink or soar, with our mix’d essence make
A conflict of its elements, and breathe
The breath of degradation and of pride,
Contending with low wants and lofty will,
Till our mortality predominates,
And men are—what they name not to themselves,
And trust not to each other. Hark! the note,  [The Shepherd’s pipe in the distance is heard.
The natural music of the mountain reed
(For here the patriarchal days are not
A pastoral fable) pipes in the liberal air,
Mix’d with the sweet bells of the sauntering herd;
My soul would drink those echoes.—Oh, that I were
The viewless spirit of a lovely sound,
A living voice, a breathing harmony,
A bodiless enjoyment—born and dying
With the blest tone which made me!

Strikers Storm the Tower of London

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Froissart

Jean Froissart (c.1337–1410?). The Chronicles of Froissart.
Vol. 35, pp. 60-72 of The Harvard Classics

Led by Wat Tyler in 1381, great troops of villagers and rustics marched on London - laid siege to the Tower - sacked the apartments of the King and murdered his ministers. Froissart gives first-hand information of this rebellion.


Wat Tyler’s Rebellion
How the Commons of England Rebelled against the Noblemen

IN the mean season while this treaty was, there fell in England great mischief and rebellion of moving of the common people, by which deed England was at a point to have been lost without recovery. There was never realm nor country in so great adventure as it was in that time, and all because of the ease and riches that the common people were of, which moved them to this rebellion, as sometime they did in France, the which did much hurt, for by such incidents the realm of France hath been greatly grieved.


  It was a marvellous thing and of poor foundation that this mischief began in England, and to give ensample to all manner of people I will speak thereof as it was done, as I was informed, and of the incidents thereof. There was an usage in England, and yet is in divers countries, that the noblemen hath great franchise over the commons and keepeth them in servage, that is to say, their tenants ought by custom to labour the lords’ lands, to gather and bring home their corns, and some to thresh and to fan, and by servage to make their hay and to hew their wood and bring it home. All these things they ought to do by servage, and there be more of these people in England than in any other realm. Thus the noblemen and prelates are served by them, and especially in the county of Kent, Essex, Sussex and Bedford. These unhappy people of these said countries began to stir, because they said they were kept in great servage, and in the beginning of the world, they said, there were no bondmen, wherefore they maintained that none ought to be bond, without he did treason to his lord, as Lucifer did to God; but they said they could have no such battle, 1 for they were neither angels nor spirits, but men formed to the similitude of their lords, saying why should they then be kept so under like beasts; the which they said they would no longer suffer, for they would be all one, and if they laboured or did anything for their lords, they would have wages therefor as well as other. And of this imagination was a foolish priest in the country of Kent called John Ball, for the which foolish words he had been three times in the bishop of Canterbury’s prison: for this priest used oftentimes on the Sundays after mass, when the people were going out of the minster, to go into the cloister and preach, and made the people to assemble about him, and would say thus: ‘Ah, ye good people, the matters goeth not well to pass in England, nor shall not do till everything be common, and that there be no villains nor gentlemen, but that we may be all unied together, and that the lords be no greater masters than we be. What have we deserved, or why should we be kept thus in servage? We be all come from one father and one mother, Adam and Eve: whereby can they say or shew that they be greater lords than we be, saving by that they cause us to win and labour for that they dispend? They are clothed in velvet and camlet furred with grise, and we be vestured with poor cloth: they have their wines, spices and good bread, and we have the drawing out of the chaff 2 and drink water: they dwell in fair houses, and we have the pain and travail, rain and wind in the fields; and by that that cometh of our labours they keep and maintain their estates: we be called their bondmen, and without we do readily them service beaten; and we have no sovereign to whom we may complain, nor that will hear us nor do us right. Let us go to the king, he is young, and shew him what servage we be in, and shew him how we will have it otherwise, or else we will provide us of some remedy; and if we go together, all manner of people that be now in any bondage will follow us to the intent to be made free; and when the king seeth us, we shall have some remedy, either by fairness or otherwise.’ Thus John Ball said on Sundays, when the people issued out of the churches in the villages; wherefore many of the mean people loved him, and such as intended to no goodness said how he said truth; and so they would murmur one with another in the fields and in the ways as they went together, affirming how John Ball said truth.

A Philosopher Prefers Prison Cell

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Plato

Plato. (427?–347 B.C.). Crito.
Vol. 2, pp. 31-43 of The Harvard Classics

Socrates unceasingly strove for beauty, truth, and perfection. Sentenced to death on a false charge, he refused to escape from the death cell, even when opportunity was offered.


Persons of the Dialogue  
Socrates
Crito  

SceneThe Prison of Socrates



  Socrates. WHY have you come at this hour, Crito? it must be quite early.
  Crito. Yes, certainly.
  Soc. What is the exact time?
  Cr. The dawn is breaking.
  Soc. I wonder the keeper of the prison would let you in.
  Cr. He knows me because I often come, Socrates; moreover, I have done him a kindness.
  Soc. And are you only just come?
  Cr. No, I came some time ago.
  Soc. Then why did you sit and say nothing, instead of awakening me at once?
  Cr. Why, indeed, Socrates, I myself would rather not have all this sleeplessness and sorrow. But I have been wondering at your peaceful slumbers, and that was the reason why I did not awaken you, because I wanted you to be out of pain. I have always thought you happy in the calmness of your temperament; but never did I see the like of the easy, cheerful way in which you bear this calamity.
  Soc. Why, Crito, when a man has reached my age he ought not to be repining at the prospect of death.
  Cr. And yet other old men find themselves in similar misfortunes, and age does not prevent them from repining.
  Soc. That may be. But you have not told me why you come at this early hour.
  Cr. I come to bring you a message which is sad and painful; not, as I believe, to yourself, but to all of us who are your friends, and saddest of all to me.
  Soc. What! I suppose that the ship has come from Delos, on the arrival of which I am to die?
  Cr. No, the ship has not actually arrived, but she will probably be here to-day, as persons who have come from Sunium tell me that they have left her there; and therefore to-morrow, Socrates, will be the last day of your life.

Athens Flouts Aristides

Friday, 13 June 2014


Plutarch (A.D. 46?–c.A.D. 120).  Plutarch’s Lives.
Vol. 12, pp. 85-94 of The Harvard Classics

Athenians gave Aristides the title of "The Just." Later they wanted to banish him. One voter wanted Aristides banished merely because he was weary of hearing him called "The Just."

Aristides

[…]

  The cause of Hyperbolus’ banishment is said to have been this. Alcibiades and Nicias, men that bore the greatest sway in the city, were of different factions. As the people, therefore, were about to vote the ostracism, and obviously to decree it against one of them, consulting together and uniting their parties, they contrived the banishment of Hyperbolus. Upon which the people, being offended, as if some contempt or affront was put upon the thing, left off and quite abolished it. It was performed, to be short, in this manner. Every one taking an ostracon, a sherd, that is, or piece of earthenware, wrote upon it the citizen’s name he would have banished, and carried it to a certain part of the market-place surrounded with wooden rails. First, the magistrates numbered all the sherds in gross (for if there were less than six thousand, the ostracism was imperfect); then, laying every name by itself, they pronounced him whose name was written by the larger number, banished for ten years, with the enjoyment of his estate. As, therefore, they were writing the names on the sherds, it is reported that an illiterate clownish fellow, giving Aristides his sherd, supposing him a common citizen, begged him to write Aristides upon it; and he being surprised and asking if Aristides had ever done him any injury, “None at all,” said he, “neither know I the man; but I am tired of hearing him everywhere called the Just.” Aristides, hearing this, is said to have made no reply, but returned the sherd with his own name inscribed. At his departure from the city, lifting up his hands to heaven, he made a prayer, (the reverse, it would seem, of that of Achilles), that the Athenians might never have any occasion which should constrain them to remember Aristides.

Vishnu Holds Up a Battle

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Vishnu

The Bhagavad-Gita.
Vol. 45, pp. 785-798 of The Harvard Classics

Two armies of ancient India were about to engage in a momentous battle. Arjuna, heroic leader of the Pandu hosts, foreseeing great slaughter, hesitates. He implores the divine Vishnu to intervene. The conversation of the warrior and the god is a gem of Hindu literature.

Chapter I

DHRITIRASHTRA:

RANGED thus for battle on the sacred plain—
On Kurukshetra—say, Sanjaya! say
What wrought my people, and the Pandavas?

SANJAYA:

When he beheld the host of Pandavas
Raja Duryôdhana to Drona drew,
And spake these words: “Ah, Guru! see this line,
How vast it is of Pandu fighting-men,
Embattled by the son of Drupada,
Thy scholar in the war! Therein stand ranked
Chiefs like Arjuna, like to Bhîma chiefs,
Benders of bows; Virâta, Yuyudhân,
Drupada, eminent upon his car,
Dhrishtaket, Chekitân, Kasi’s stout lord,
Purujit, Kuntibhôj, and Saivya,
With Yudhâmanyu, and Uttamauj
Subhadra’s child; and Drupadi’s;—all famed!
All mounted on their shining chariots!
On our side, too,—thou best of Brahmans! see
Excellent chiefs, commanders of my line,
Whose names I joy to count: thyself the first,
Then Bhishma, Karna, Kripa fierce in fight,
Vikarna, Aswatthâman; next to these
Strong Saumadatti, with full many more
Valiant and tried, ready this day to die
For me their king, each with his weapon grasped,
Each skilful in the field. Weakest—meseems—
Our battle shows where Bhishma holds command,
And Bhima, fronting him, something too strong!
Have care our captains nigh to Bhishma’s ranks
Prepare what help they may! Now, blow my shell!”

He Sang of His Beautiful Elizabeth

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Edmund Spenser

Edmund Spenser (1552–1599), Epithalamion
Vol. 40, pp. 234-245 of The Harvard Classics

To commemorate his marriage to the beautiful Elizabeth, Spenser wrote one of the most enchanting nuptial hymns.
(Edmund Spenser married Elizabeth Boyle, June 11, 1594.)


YE learnèd sisters, which have oftentimes
Beene to me ayding, others to adorne,
Whom ye thought worthy of your gracefull rymes,
That even the greatest did not greatly scorne
To heare theyr names sung in your simple layes,
But joyed in theyr praise;
And when ye list your owne mishaps to mourne,
Which death, or love, or fortunes wreck did rayse,
Your string could soone to sadder tenor turne,
And teach the woods and waters to lament
Your doleful dreriment:
Now lay those sorrowfull complaints aside;
And, having all your heads with girlands crownd,
Helpe me mine owne loves prayses to resound;
Ne let the same of any be envide:
So Orpheus did for his owne bride!
So I unto my selfe alone will sing;
The woods shall to me answer, and my Eccho ring.

Horrible Prophecy Fulfilled

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Bust of Sophocles

Sophocles (c.496 B.C.–406 B.C.). Oedipus the King.
Vol. 8, pp. 209-223 of The Harvard Classics

King Œdipus of Thebes as a babe was abandoned on Mount Cithæron to die. Years after he was thought dead he returns to Thebes and unknowingly slays his father, marries his mother - and thus fulfills the word of the oracle.

Lines 1–499

Enter ŒDIPUS


ŒDIPUS;  WHY sit ye here, my children, brood last reared
Of Cadmus famed of old, in solemn state,
Uplifting in your hands the suppliants’ boughs?
And all the city reeks with incense smoke,
And all re-echoes with your wailing hymns;
And I, my children, counting it unmeet
To hear report from others, I have come
Myself, whom all name Œdipus the Great.—
Do thou, then, agèd Sire, since thine the right
To speak for these, tell clearly why ye stand
Awe-stricken, or adoring; speak to me
As willing helper. Dull and cold this heart
To see you prostrate thus, and feel no ruth.

Enchanting Songs of David

Monday, 9 June 2014

The Book of Psalms.
Vol. 44, pp. 168-179 of The Harvard Classics

The songs of David pleased King Saul, but when David became too popular with the people, the king feared for his throne and banished him.

Book I
XXIII
Jehovah the Psalmist’s Shepherd


A Psalm of David.




[1]  
JEHOVAH is my shepherd;
I shall not want.

[2]  
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
He leadeth me beside still 
waters.
[3]  
He restoreth my soul:
He guideth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

[4]  
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the 2 shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

[5]  
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
Thou hast anointed my head with oil;
My cup runneth over.

[6]  
Surely 3 goodness and loving kindness shall follow me all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of Jehovah for 
4 ever.

Note 1. Heb. waters of rest.
Note 2. Or, deep darkness (and so elsewhere).
Note 3. Or, Only.
Note 4. Heb. for length of days. 

Eloquence Wins Over Prejudice

Sunday, 8 June 2014

John Woolman

John Woolman. (1720–1772). The Journal of John Woolman.
Vol. 1, pp. 302-312 of The Harvard Classics

The plain, homely appearance of Woolman impressed unfavorably the orthodox Quakers in London whom he was sent to meet. They told him his coming was not necessary. But Woolman spoke with such simplicity and sincerity that even those most opposed became his friends.
(John Woolman arrives in London for Friends' meeting, June 8, 1772.)

XII
1772

Attends the Yearly Meeting in London—Then proceeds towards Yorkshire—Visits Quarterly and other Meetings in the Counties of Hertford, Warwick, Oxford, Nottingham, York, and Westmoreland—Returns to Yorkshire—Instructive Observations and Letters—Hears of the Decease of William Hunt—Some Account of him—The Author’s Last Illness and Death at York.


ON the 8th of sixth month, 1772, we landed at London, and I went straightway to the Yearly Meeting of ministers and elders, which had been gathered, I suppose, about half an hour. 1


  In this meeting my mind was humbly contrite. In the afternoon the meeting for business was opened, which by adjournments held near a week. In these meetings I often felt a living concern for the establishment of Friends in the pure life of truth. My heart was enlarged in the meetings of ministers, that for business, and in several meetings for public worship, and I felt my mind united in true love to the faithful laborers now gathered at this Yearly Meeting. On the 15th I went to a Quarterly Meeting at Hertford.


  First of seventh month.—I have been at Quarterly Meetings at Sherrington, Northampton, Banbury, and Shipton, and have had sundry meetings between. My mind hath been bowed under a sense of Divine goodness manifested among us; my heart hath been often enlarged in true love, both among ministers and elders and in public meetings, and through the Lord’s goodness I believe it hath been a fresh visitation to many, in particular to the youth.


  Seventeenth.—I was this day at Birmingham; I have been at meetings at Coventry, Warwick, in Oxfordshire, and sundry other places, and have felt the humbling hand of the Lord upon me; but through his tender mercies I find peace in the labors I have gone through.


  Twenty-sixth.—I have continued travelling northward, visiting meetings. Was this day at Nottingham; the fore-noon meeting was especially, through Divine love, a heart-tendering season. Next day I had a meeting in a Friend’s family, which, through the strengthening arm of the Lord, was a time to be thankfully remembered.


  Second of eighth month and first of the week.—I was this day at Sheffield, a large inland town. I was at sundry meetings last week, and feel inward thankfulness for that Divine support which hath been graciously extended to me. On the 9th I was at Rushworth. I have lately passed through some painful labor, but have been comforted under a sense of that Divine visitation which I feel extended towards many young people.


  Sixteenth of eighth month and the first of the week, I was at Settle. It hath of late been a time of inward poverty, under which my mind hath been preserved in a watchful, tender state, feeling for the mind of the Holy Leader, and I find peace in the labors I have passed through.


  On inquiry in many places I find the price of rye about five shillings; wheat, eight shillings per bushel; oatmeal, twelve shillings for a hundred and twenty pounds; mutton from threepence to fivepence per pound; bacon from sevenpence to ninepence; cheese from fourpence to sixpence; butter from eightpence to tenpence; house-rent for a poor man from twenty-five shillings to forty shillings per year, to be paid weekly; wood for fire very scarce and dear; coal in some places two shillings and sixpence per hundredweight; but near the pits not a quarter so much. O, may the wealthy consider the poor!


  The wages of laboring men in several counties toward London at tenpence per day in common business, the employer finds small beer and the laborer finds his own food; but in harvest and hay time wages are about one shilling per day, and the laborer hath all his diet. In some parts of the north of England poor laboring men have their food where they work, and appear in common to do rather better than nearer London. Industrious women who spin in the factories get some fourpence, some fivepence, and so on to six, seven, eight, nine, or ten pence per day, and find their own house-room and diet. Great numbers of poor people live chiefly on bread and water in the southern parts of England, as well as in the northern parts; and there are many poor children not even taught to read. May those who have abundance lay these things to heart!


  Stage-coaches frequently go upwards of one hundred miles in twenty-four hours; and I have heard Friends say in several places that it is common for horses to be killed with hard driving, and that many others are driven till they grow blind. Post-boys pursue their business, each one to his stage, all night through the winter. Some boys who ride long stages suffer greatly in winter nights, and at several places I have heard of their being frozen to death. So great is the hurry in the spirit of this world, that in aiming to do business quickly and to gain wealth the creation at this day doth loudly groan.


  As my journey hath been without a horse, I have had several offers of being assisted on my way in these stagecoaches, but have not been in them; nor have I had freedom to send letters by these posts in the present way of riding, the stages being so fixed, and one boy dependent on another as to time, and going at great speed, that in long cold winter nights the poor boys suffer much. I heard in America of the way of these posts, and cautioned Friends in the General Meeting of ministers and elders at Philadelphia, and in the Yearly Meeting of ministers and elders in London, not to send letters to me on any common occasion by post. And though on this account I may be likely not to hear so often from my family left behind, yet for righteousness’ sake I am, through Divine favor, made content.


  I have felt great distress of mind since I came on this island, on account of the members of our Society being mixed with the world in various sorts of traffic, carried on in impure channels. Great is the trade to Africa for slaves; and for the loading of these ships a great number of people are employed in their factories, among whom are many of our Society. Friends in early times refused on a religious principle to make or trade in superfluities, of which we have many testimonies on record; but for want of faithfulness, some, whose examples were of note in our Society, gave way, from which others took more liberty. Members of our Society worked in superfluities, and bought and sold them, and thus dimness of sight came over many; at length Friends got into the use of some superfluities in dress and in the furniture of their houses, which hath spread from less to more, till superfluity of some kinds is common among us.


  In this declining state many look at the example of others and too much neglect the pure feeling of truth. Of late years a deep exercise hath attended my mind, that Friends may dig deep, may carefully cast forth the loose matter and get down to the rock, the sure foundation, and there hearken to that Divine voice which gives a clear and certain sound; and I have felt in that which doth not receive, that if Friends who have known the truth keep in that tenderness of heart where all views of outward gain are given up, and their trust is only in the Lord, he will graciously lead some to be patterns of deep self-denial in things relating to trade and handicraft labor; and others who have plenty of the treasures of this world will be examples of a plain frugal life, and pay wages to such as they may hire more liberally than is now customary in some places.


  Twenty-third of eighth month.—I was this day at Preston Patrick, and had a comfortable meeting. I have several times been entertained at the houses of Friends, who had sundry things about them that had the appearance of outward greatness, and as I have kept inward, way hath opened for conversation with such in private, in which Divine goodness hath favored us together with heart-tendering times.


  Twenty-sixth of eighth month.—Being now at George Crosfield’s, in the county of Westmoreland, I feel a concern to commit to writing the following uncommon circumstance.


  In a time of sickness, a little more than two years and a half ago, I was brought so near the gates of death that I forgot my name. Being then desirous to know who I was, I saw a mass of matter of a dull gloomy color between the south and the east, and was informed that this mass was human beings in as great misery as they could be, and live, and that I was mixed with them, and that henceforth I might not consider myself as a distinct or separate being. In this state I remained several hours. I then heard a soft melodious voice, more pure and harmonious than any I had heard with my ears before; I believed it was the voice of an angel who spake to the other angels; the words were, “John Woolman is dead.” I soon remembered that I was once John Woolman, and being assured that I was alive in the body, I greatly wondered what that heavenly voice could mean. I believed beyond doubting that it was the voice of an holy angel, but as yet it was a mystery to me.


  I was then carried in spirit to the mines where poor oppressed people were digging rich treasures for those called Christians, and heard them blaspheme the name of Christ, at which I was grieved, for his name to me was precious. I was then informed that these heathens were told that those who oppressed them were the followers of Christ, and they said among themselves, “If Christ directed them to use us in this sort, then Christ is a cruel tyrant.”


  All this time the song of the angel remained a mystery; and in the morning, my dear wife and some others coming to my bedside, I asked them if they knew who I was, and they telling me I was John Woolman, thought I was light-headed, for I told them not what the angel said, nor was I disposed to talk much to any one, but was very desirous to get so deep that I might understand this mystery.


  My tongue was often so dry that I could not speak till I had moved it about and gathered some moisture, and as I lay still for a time I at length felt a Divine power prepare my mouth that I could speak, and I then said, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Then the mystery was opened and I perceived there was joy in heaven over a sinner who had repented, and that the language “John Woolman is dead,” meant no more than the death of my own will.


  My natural understanding now returned as before, and I saw that people setting off their tables with silver vessels at entertainments was often stained with worldly glory, and that in the present state of things I should take heed how I fed myself out of such vessels. Going to our Monthly Meeting soon after my recovery, I dined at a Friend’s house where drink was brought in silver vessels, and not in any other. Wanting something to drink, I told him my case with weeping, and he ordered some drink for me in another vessel. I afterwards went through the same exercise in several Friends’ houses in America, as well as in England, and I have cause to acknowledge with humble reverence the loving-kindness of my Heavenly Father, who hath preserved me in such a tender frame of mind, that none, I believe, have ever been offended at what I have said on that subject.


  After this sickness I spake not in public meetings for worship for nearly one year, but my mind was very often in company with the oppressed slaves as I sat in meetings; and though under his dispensation I was shut up from speaking, yet the spring of the gospel ministry was many times livingly opened in me, and the Divine gift operated by abundance of weeping, in feeling the oppression of this people. It being so long since I passed through this dispensation, and the matter remaining fresh and lively in my mind, I believe it safest for me to commit it to writing.


  Thirtieth of eighth month.—This morning I wrote a letter in substance as follows:—
  BELOVED FRIEND,—My mind is often affected as I pass along under a sense of the state of many poor people who sit under that sort of ministry which requires much outward labor to support it; and the loving-kindness of our Heavenly Father in opening a pure gospel ministry in this nation hath often raised thankfulness in my heart to him. I often remember the conflicts of the faithful under persecution, and now look at the free exercise of the pure gift uninterrupted by outward laws, as a trust committed to us, which requires our deepest gratitude and most careful attention. I feel a tender concern that the work of reformation so prosperously carried on in this land within a few ages past may go forward and spread among the nations, and may not go backward through dust gathering on our garments, who have been called to a work so great and so precious.


  Last evening during thy absence I had a little opportunity with some of thy family, in which I rejoiced, and feeling a sweetness on my mind towards thee, I now endeavor to open a little of the feeling I had there.


  I have heard that you in these parts have at certain seasons Meetings of Conference in relation to Friends living up to our principles, in which several meetings unite in one. With this I feel unity, having in some measure felt truth lead that way among Friends in America, and I have found, my dear friend, that in these labors all superfluities in our own living are against us. I feel that pure love towards thee in which there is freedom.


  I look at that precious gift bestowed on thee with awfulness before Him who gave it, and feel a desire that we may be so separated to the gospel of Christ, that those things which proceed from the spirit of this world may have no place among us.
Thy friend,


JOHN WOOLMAN.
  I rested a few days in body and mind with our friend, Jane Crosfield, who was once in America. On the sixth day of the week I was at Kendal, in Westmoreland, and at Greyrig Meeting the 30th day of the month, and first of the week. I have known poverty of late, and have been graciously supported to keep in the patience, and am thankful under a sense of the goodness of the Lord towards those who are of a contrite spirit.


  Sixth of ninth month and first of the week.—I was this day at Counterside, a large meeting-house, and very full. Through the opening of pure love, it was a strengthening time to me, and I believe to many more.


  Thirteenth of ninth month.—This day I was at Leyburn, a small meeting; but, the towns-people coming in, the house was crowded. It was a time of heavy labor, and I believe was a profitable meeting. At this place I heard that my kinsman, William Hunt, from North Carolina, who was on a religious visit to Friends in England, departed this life on the 9th of this month, of the small-pox, at Newcastle. He appeared in the ministry when a youth, and his labors therein were of good savor. He travelled much in that work in America. I once heard him say in public testimony, that his concern in that visit was to be devoted to the service of Christ so fully that he might not spend one minute in pleasing himself, which words, joined with his example, was a means of stirring up the pure mind in me.


  Having of late often travelled in wet weather through narrow streets in towns and villages, where dirtiness under foot and the scent arising from that filth which more or less infects the air of all thickly settled towns were disagreeable; and, being but weakly, I have felt distress both in body and mind with that which is impure. In these journeys I have been where much cloth hath been dyed, and have, at sundry times, walked over ground where much of their dye-stuffs has drained away. This hath produced a longing in my mind that people might come into cleanness of spirit, cleanness of person, and cleanness about their houses and garments.


  Some of the great carry delicacy to a great height themselves, and yet real cleanliness is not generally promoted. Dyes being invented partly to please the eye and partly to hide dirt, I have felt in this weak state, when travelling in dirtiness, and affected with unwholesome scents, a strong desire that the nature of dyeing cloth to hide dirt may be more fully considered.


  Washing our garments to keep them sweet is cleanly, but it is the opposite to real cleanliness to hide dirt in them. Through giving way to hiding dirt in our garments a spirit which would conceal that which is disagreeable is strengthened. Real cleanliness becometh a holy people; but hiding that which is not clean by coloring our garments seems contrary to the sweetness of sincerity. Through some sorts of dyes cloth is rendered less useful. And if the value of dye-stuffs, and expense of dyeing, and the damage done to cloth, were all added together, and that cost applied to keeping all sweet and clean, how much more would real cleanliness prevail.


  On this visit to England I have felt some instructions sealed on my mind, which I am concerned to leave in writing for the use of such as are called to the station of a minister of Christ.


  Christ being the Prince of Peace, and we being no more than ministers, it is necessary for us not only to feel a concern in our first going forth, but to experience the renewing thereof in the appointment of meetings. I felt a concern in America to prepare for this voyage, and being through the mercy of God brought safe hither, my heart was like a vessel that wanted vent. For several weeks after my arrival, when my mouth was opened in meetings, it was like the raising of a gate in a water-course when a weight of water lay upon it. In these labors there was a fresh visitation to many, especially to the youth; but sometimes I felt poor and empty, and yet there appeared a necessity to appoint meetings. In this I was exercised to abide in the pure life of truth, and in all my labors to watch diligently against the motions of self in my own mind.


  I have frequently found a necessity to stand up when the spring of the ministry was low, and to speak from the necessity in that which subjecteth the will of the creature; and herein I was united with the suffering seed, and found inward sweetness in these mortifying labors. As I have been preserved in a watchful attention to the divine Leader, under these dispensations enlargement at times hath followed, and the power of truth hath risen higher in some meetings than I ever knew it before through me. Thus I have been more and more instructed as to the necessity of depending, not upon a concern which I felt in America to come on a visit to England, but upon the daily instructions of Christ, the Prince of Peace.


  Of late I have sometimes felt a stop in the appointment of meetings, not wholly, but in part: and I do not feel liberty to appoint them so quickly, one after another, as I have done heretofore. The work of the ministry being a work of Divine love, I feel that the openings thereof are to be waited for in all our appointments. O, how deep is Divine wisdom! Christ puts forth his ministers and goeth before them; and O, how great is the danger of departing from the pure feeling of that which leadeth safely! Christ knoweth the state of the people, and in the pure feeling of the gospel ministry their states are opened to his servants. Christ knoweth when the fruit-bearing branches themselves have need of purging. O that these lessons may be remembered by me! and that all who appoint meetings may proceed in the pure feeling of duty!


  I have sometimes felt a necessity to stand up, but that spirit which is of the world hath so much prevailed in many, and the pure life of truth hath been so pressed down, that I have gone forward, not as one travelling in a road cast up and well prepared, but as a man walking through a miry place in which are stones here and there safe to step on, but so situated that one step being taken, time is necessary to see where to step next. Now I find that in a state of pure obedience the mind learns contentment in appearing weak and foolish to that wisdom which is of the world; and in these lowly labors, they who stand in a low place and are rightly exercised under the cross will find nourishment. The gift is pure; and while the eye is single in attending thereto the understanding is preserved clear; self is kept out. We rejoice in filling up that which remains of the afflictions of Christ for his body’s sake, which is the church.


  The natural man loveth eloquence, and many love to hear eloquent orations, and if there be not a careful attention to the gift, men who have once labored in the pure gospel ministry, growing weary of suffering, and ashamed of appearing weak, may kindle a fire, compass themselves about with sparks, and walk in the light, not of Christ, who is under suffering, but of that fire which they in departing from the gift have kindled, in order that those hearers who have left the meek, suffering state for worldly wisdom may be warmed with this fire and speak highly of their labors. That which is of God gathers to God, and that which is of the world is owned by the world.


  In this journey a labor hath attended my mind, that the ministers among us may be preserved in the meek, feeling life of truth, where we may have no desire but to follow Christ and to be with him, that when he is under suffering, we may suffer with him, and never desire to rise up in dominion, but as he, by the virtue of his own spirit, may raise us.


Note 1. There is a story told of his first appearance in England which I have from my friend, William J. Allinson, editor of the Friends’ Review, and which he assures me is well authenticated. The vessel reached London on the morning of the fifth day of the week, and John Woolman, knowing that the meeting was then in session, lost no time in reaching it. Coming in late and unannounced, his peculiar dress and manner excited attention and apprehension that he was an itinerant enthusiast. He presented his certificate from Friends in America, but the dissatisfaction still remained, and some one remarked that perhaps the stranger Friend might feel that his dedication of himself to this apprehended service was accepted, without further labor, and that he might now feel free to return to his home. John Woolman sat silent for a space, seeking the unerring counsel of Divine Wisdom. He was profoundly affected by the unfavorable reception he met with, and his tears flowed freely. In the love of Christ and his fellow-men he had, at a painful sacrifice, taken his life in his hands, and left behind the peace and endearments of home. That love still flowed out toward the people of England; must it henceforth be pent up in his own heart? He rose at last, and stated that he could not feel himself released from his prospect of labor in England. Yet he could not travel in the ministry without the unity of Friends; and while that was withheld he could not feel easy to be of any cost to them. He could not go back as had been suggested; but he was acquainted with a mechanical trade, and while the impediment to his services continued he hoped Friends would be kindly willing to employ him in such business as he was capable of, that he might not be chargeable to any.

  A deep silence prevailed over the assembly, many of whom were touched by the wise simplicity of the stranger’s words and manner. After a season of waiting, John Woolman felt that words were given him to utter as a minister of Christ. The spirit of his Master bore witness to them in the hearts of his hearers. When he closed, the Friend who had advised against his further service rose up and humbly confessed his error, and avowed his full unity with the stranger. All doubt was removed; there was a general expression of unity and sympathy, and John Woolman, owned by his brethren, passed on to his work.

  There is no portrait of John Woolman; and had photography been known in his day it is not at all probable that the sun-artist would have been permitted to delineate his features. That, while eschewing all superfluity and expensive luxury, he was scrupulously neat in his dress and person may be inferred from his general character and from the fact that one of his serious objections to dyed clothing was that it served to conceal uncleanness, and was, therefore, detrimental to real purity. It is, however, quite probable that his outer man, on the occasion referred to, was suggestive of a hasty toilet in the crowded steerage.—Note from the edition published by Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Co.


 

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