Thursday, December 20, 2012

Containing a quotation from "The Golden Bough" to exercise further the judgement and reflection of the reader

This example illustrates the extremely materialistic view which these savages take of the nature of words; they suppose that the mere utterance of an expression signifying clumsiness will homeopathically affect with clumsiness the limbs of their distant foemen. Another illustration of the curious misconception is furnished by Caffre South African superstition that the character of a young thief can be reformed by shouting his name over a boiling kettle of medicated water, then clapping a lid on the kettle and leaving the name to steep in the water for several days. It is not in the least necessary that the thief should be aware of the use that is being made of his name behind his back; the moral reformation will be effected without his knowledge.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Containing a quotation from "The Golden Bough" to exercise the judgement and reflection of the reader

In the Central African kingdom of Bunyoro down to recent years custom required that as soon as the king fell seriously ill or began to break up from age, he should die by his own hand; for, according to an old prophecy, the throne would pass away from the dynasty if ever the king were to die a natural death. He killed himself by draining a poisoned cup. If he faltered or were too ill to ask for the cup, it was his wife’s duty to administer the poison.

                                             --From James Frazer's The Golden Bough, Ch. XXIV, "The Mortality of the Gods."

Monday, December 17, 2012

Containing a quotation from Frazer's "The Golden Bough" to exercise the reflection and judgement of the reader

Man has created gods in his own likeness and being himself mortal he has naturally supposed his creatures to be in the same sad predicament. Thus the Greenlanders believed that a wind could kill their most powerful god, and that he would certainly die if he touched a dog. When they heard of the Christian God, they kept asking if he never died, and being informed that he did not, they were much surprised, and said that he must be a very great god indeed.

              --From James Frazer's The Golden Bough, Ch. XXIV, "The Mortality of the Gods"

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Taming of the Rake

It gives me pleasure to relate to my dear readers in the following scribble a most instructive tale, wherein an heroine is shewn in an unusual scene of life, whom no temptations of sufferings could subdue. It is an edifying little piece, much wanted in the world, which is but too much debauched by a pernicious culture. This story comes to me through a correspondence I maintain with a former rake, Mr.Hutchenson, now reformed and living as a proper gentleman husband.

This letter, herein reproduced, I received from Mr. Hutchenson, and it relates his wondrous transformation---

Dear Mr.Richardson---I write these days as an honourable gentleman, one for whom nothing is of greater importance than to live by those moral principles given to us by God Almighty. Alas, I was not always this honourable creature who is now writing to ye. I compose my passion in this letter so that ye may know how I came to abjure the libertine way of life, and replaced it with that of the gentleman, and of how the majestic virtue of one noble lady, a paragon to her sex, enabled me to make this transformation. 

I do not intend to particularize here any stories of my former debauched ways (tho' I desire not to hide or ameliorate any of my former sins); let it suffice ye to know that in my youth I did allow myself free indulgence of the passions, especially to the fair sex, for I was quite the confounded libertine, I warrant ye. I would now like to relate the story of how my moral reclamation came about, through the guidance of the most excellent woman on earth. 

My proper story starts about five years ago, when I overheard certain rumors that had been spreading among the rakish crowd that I had fallen into, with whom I had in the past taken many draughts of rhenish, and enjoyed a good many hearty wenches together---rumors that concerned the arrival of a new whore to the local bawdy house. She was spoken of by the people as being a fine looking wench, one whose virgin knot was still intact. But it actually mattered little to me or my friends, whether we would be her first ravisher or not---for everyone was content merely to have a morsel cut off the spit. 

The rumor also made mention of the lady's particularly sharp tongue. It was remarked that the pert baggage was very fond of catechizing to the men who came to see her in her bedchamber, and that all the men thereafter would leave forswearing their libertine ways. For it was claimed that through her preaching, she was able to guide the heart of every rogue, pimp, buffoon, atheist, lecher, debauchee, and sodomite, who came to  her---thus she directed their hearts, away from sin and corruption, and converted them towards virtue and honor. No male visitor, it was rumored, could leave her chambers without forsaking the road of rutting for ever; keeping her maidenhead in the meanwhile, naturally, untouched. The lady's reputation piqued me, and upset my pride, quite a great deal.  "How dare she, the little preacher," I thought, "the presumption of hers! I daresay that I can out-tongue the wench, and reconcile the sauce-box to her new profession." Thus one evening I ventured to visit the bawdy house and make her an introduction. 

When I had arrived, I endeavoured to make the proper arrangements with the Procuress of the bawdy house, Mistress Tinselpop, informing her of my hearty intention to sample her newest goods. She said she would be kind to oblige me, but first she desired me to know that the succulent wench was yet a little raw in her entertainment, and that it would behoove me at first to be tender with the delicate creature, but to grow more determined thereafter---for the young sapling required proper adjusting, said Tinselpop, so as to be made more malleable. Caveat emptor, finished the good Mistress Procuress, with an horrid grimace  I thanked her kindly for her prudent counsel, paid her most generously, and pinched her large backside as final token of my appreciation.

Thereby I was given permission to enter the lady's bedchamber. I glimpsed the slattern sitting by the window, looking outside, with book in hand. "Greetings, pretty one," I said, "ye have been highly praised by thine Mistress." 

"What Mistress, sir?" she turned to me and asked. 

"Why, thine Mistress who sets seeds and roots of shame and iniquity under this roof," I replied.

"I know of no such Mistress who has any authority over me, or of any person I would allow to plant such corruption in mine soul." 

"Surely, ye do not intend" I said, "to keep thine innocence whilst living in this bawdy house? where you are proclaimed to be a creature of sale."  

"Good heavens, you know this to be a bawdy house, and will come into it?” She stirred like a wild kitten. “You would willingly come here to attempt a young maiden's virtue, and so ruin her for ever after?"

"Ah, fie upon thine wiseacrings," I rapt out. "Why do you attempt to rise above thine station? And know ye not that your shilly-shallying has brought down  the prices in all the brothels in the city. If the Mistress Procuress can not make enough money to pay the house bills, she will be forced to shutter her business. And then where will all the gentlemen go to in the evenings? Would you have us stay home with our wives and children instead?"

"Forsooth, I would have ye do that. Good heavens, I would have ye empty old receptacles, serve an internship to the common lumberjack, watch television, popular films, read news-papers in the evenings---anything is better than coming here. Think upon it, sir, what wickeder profession exists than that of the prostitute? For what reason, think you, is it believed by the people, that prostitution is the oldest profession in the world, if not that it were also the wickedest?  And surrounded as I am by baseness on all sides, does it follow that I myself should run towards the fire? I would also have ye understand, for thine own benefit, that prostitution is a grave sin indeed, the punishment for which, depend upon it, may be the pox, syphilis, as well as the French and the Italian diseases; while much graver punishments await ye in the after-life." 

She told me that her name was Theodosia; that she was actually born to a noble family, but upon her mother's untimely death, her father had re-married with a woman of wicked heart. Her step-mother became extremely jealous of her husband's fondness for his pretty daughter, who so reminded him of his departed wife. Her step-mother arranged it so that, while she was walking on the beach one day, Theodosia would be seized by pirates, and forcibly brought to this vile place. 

"Ads-bobbers!" I said, after she finished speaking.

But before I could ask her about the pirates, Theodosia's eloquence came over me quite suddenly, for she impressed me so greatly, and her story so moved me to tears, that I could not help but to feel respect and admiration for her. I was in awe of her honesty, her bravery, and her consistency. How such a precious jewel as she, how such a paragon of virtue may be found among this hotbed of iniquity, this can only be the result of an unlucky fortune. The strumpet fortune indeed. Theodosia's powerful words had touched my heart, for never before have I seen a lady of such fine beauty and noble soul.

Thereupon I designed a scheme to help her escape from the bawdy house; the details of which I will not trouble you with; suffice it to say, that upon this occasion, Theodosia did reform my rakish heart, and I vowed to bring her out of that brothel-house. I also resolved to leave the road of rutting forever, to change my roguish company of friends in the city, for more sober companions.---And upon that occasion, finally, I resolved to respect all creatures of the fair sex, not excluding maidservants (be they my maidservants or those of another man), and to cease conquering them all for my sport. 

What is there more to say, but to let you know what became of Theodosia? Well, Mr. Richardson, I married her. I write ye now as a happily married man. By Gad, it turns out that a converted rake can, after all, make a good husband, Mr.Richardson, which you never  did believe. Mrs. Theodosia Hutchenson and I are expecting our first child next month. Please post this letter on your blog, so that your readers may learn from my story, and so that they may come to worship Mrs. Theodosia as an ornament to her sex and to human nature. Until then I remain

Your humble servant,

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

From a young Lady to her Suitor, complaining of his Naughtiness

Dear readers,

I continue my tradition here on this blog of reproducing letters received by me, from young maidens in need of counsel, whose virtue may be threatened by  rakes or libertines, to be used by the reader as a modest source of moral, prudential, religious, satirical, economical, or cautionary lessons.

To this end, I reproduce one such letter, received near the end of last year by yours truly. This letter relates a situation of universal application, as this type of situation has plagued the courtships of many couples indeed.

Dear Mr. Richardson---I must humbly appeal to your counsel, for I am in a sorry predicament with regard to a certain gentleman suitor, Mr. Jenkyns. So I seek your advice upon this urgent pickle. I have been put out out of countenance by Mr.Jenkyns’s recent behavior toward me, for it has become, if I may say so, a rather strange medley of inconsistence.---Only yesterday evening, while I was getting undressed, preparing for my evening ablutions, Mr. Jenkyns did burst into my room and made an attempt upon my honour. He violently grabbed my hand, and uttered in a lecherous tone, “Why so grave, Judy? Why such blushing? I came up merely to kiss you goodnight. Be not so pert with me, my little charmer.”--- How shocked I was by his forwardness, you can hardly conceive. Yet I managed to reply, “Excuse me, Sir.  But it is not proper to intrude upon honest ladies in such manner.”---He then ran on about my over-punctilious modesty, and insisted upon the general right of a gentleman to take innocent liberties with his beloved, with whom he is bound to tie the knot shortly anyway.

But how it pains me now to say that Jenkyns has not been behaving lately as a true gentleman should. For now he thinks me attemptable. But not long ago, I delighted very much indeed in Mr. Jenkyns’s conversation, was flattered by his generosity, and charmed by his wit---for thus he succeeded in making his court to my good opinion. Yet few days prior to this incident you just read of, I found hidden in Jenkyns’s room a number of my silken undergarments, heretofore was thought lost by me. And I have reason enough to believe that Jenkyns does occasionally hide himself in the buck-basket, where I hold all my worn undergarments, like my shifts, my stockings, and petticoats, in the laundry room.

Would that Jenkyns cease his lewd behavior, and resume his earlier pleasantries to me. I am afraid that Jenkyns has spent too much time a-capering upon his smart-phone.---He has been, as the vulgar people call these things, much facebooking, twittering, downloading, uploading, and whatnot. In any case, he has certainly been very hot for me.---What should I do, Mr. Richardson? Should I tell Jenkyns that if he intends to marry me, he ought to cease taking so much interest in my undergarments, and cultivate the habit of knocking before entering rooms; or else should I simply appeal to a professional psychologist, who might be able to help Jenkyns overcome his naughty habits? I am torn indeed. ---Oh, and one more thing, (in case this information be of some use to you), Jenkyns has displayed certain peculiar conduct lately, in that he has started to assume, from time to time, the identity of a certain 18th century novelist, imitating the writer’s speech and manner of dress as much as possible, to my utter annoyance. Could he be receiving inspiration for his attacks upon me from this novelist's work? And so I end my sad letter here, reliant on your counsel. I look forward to your advice, Mr.Richardson, and until then I remain,

                                                                                                   Your humble servant,  

Monday, December 3, 2012

In which the author gives his views on The Simpsons and God

Dear readers,

I am sure that many of you who have watched the last episode of The Simpsons (Season 24, Episode 8), have also the following two questions nagging you: first, is God a geometer who designed the heavens and the earth, and all that is good and proper in it, as tradition has it, or is He a late-capitalism consumer of the most vulgar sort, the kind of consumer who prays everyday at the shrine of deified Steve Jobs? as God, and, by extension, the entire society, were depicted in this latest episode. And second, what has become of an American society when it can be said that The Simpsons is its most influential guardian for spiritual development? For such were the questions that sprung to my mind upon watching this show.

Thus I present here two images, and a quote, for my readers to examine and meditate over; my hope being that you may be enlightened in spite of yourself. By combining together such two images, which may well seem a peculiar thing to do under normal circumstances, nevertheless makes very clear just how far the two periods of time, the 13th century and today's America have diverged from each other. And here is my first depiction of God, the Father---

God the Geometer, from a 1250 picture Bible

Stop, dear reader, if you would, for a while. For I desire you to read the following quote from the Timaeus of Plato (presented in an antique Bible font), before we move on--

From Timaeus, Section 1, in Gutenberg font

Finally, you have here the most recent depiction of God, the Father from the last episode of The Simpsons. Please note, that is not a stone tablet with the Twelve Commandments that He is holding, but is rather the newest I-Pad, or You-Pad, or whatever it is called; and that human creature in black dress is Mr. Steve Jobs, who has effectively been Canonized in this particular episode. Yet, if I may be so humble to say, if it were up to me, instead of posthumously canonizing Mr. Jobs, I would have personally preferred ante-mortem to have his feet bastinadoed and his back violently flagellated.

From The Simpsons, Season 24, Episode 8, God the Father, and Steve Jobs