Sunday, January 27, 2013

Containing more quotations from Frazer's The Golden Bough to exercise the judgement of the reader

Sometimes in the popular customs of the peasantry the contrast between the dormant powers of vegetation in winter and their awakening vitality in spring takes the form of a dramatic contest between actors who play the parts respectively of Winter and Summer. Thus in the towns of Sweden on May Day two troops of young men on horseback used to meet as if for mortal combat. One of the men was led by a representative of Winter clad in furs, who threw snowballs and ice in order to prolong the cold weather. The other troop was commanded by a representative of Summer covered with fresh leaves and flowers. In the sham fight which followed the party of Summer came off victorious, and the ceremony ended with a feast.
                  --From J. Frazer. The Golden Bough, ch.28, "The Killing of the Tree Spirit."

Among the Central Esquimaux of North America the contest between representatives of summer and winter, which in Europe has long degenerated into a mere dramatic performance, is still kept up as magical ceremony of which the avowed intention is to influence the weather. In autumn, when storms announce the approach of the dismal Arctic winter, the Esquimaux divide themselves into two parties called respectively the ptarmigans and the ducks, the ptarmigans comprising all persons born in winter, and the ducks all persons born in summer. A long rope of sealskin is then stretched out, and each party laying hold of one end of it seeks by tugging with might and main to drag the other party over to its side. If the ptarmigans get the worst of it, then summer has won the game and fine weather may be expected to prevail through the winter.

                  --From J. Frazer. The Golden Bough, ch.28, "The Killing of the Tree Spirit."

Saturday, January 26, 2013

From a father to his son, on his Negligence of his Affairs, because of Naughty habits

The following epistle may be seen as directing the requisite style and form for common people to imitate when writing letters upon this type of occasion, viz. when  a father’s teenage son neglects his duties for a nasty, lustful habit, which, if left unchecked, will likely bring ruin upon him, his family, and even terrorize the maids. 


Dear Jemmy,

You cannot imagine what a concern your carelessness and indifferent management of your affairs give me. Remissness is inexcusable in all men, but in none so much as in a man of business, the soul of which is industry, diligence, and punctuality. You have  have sworn complete devotion to the cultivation of barley, wheat, and sugar beet, as did your family ancestors, going back to the time of James the First, dedicate their lives to this land, and you have been a fine worker in your family business, at least until now.

Let me beg of you to shake off the idle habits you have contracted lately, which have distracted you from you duties to the farm. Think not that your parents are unaware of your naughty habits. Think not that we will turn a blind eye on your lewd behaviour, especially as it has prevented you from discharging your professional duties.

Evidence of your sinning have become too obvious for your parents to ignore. I myself have heard you utter the cries of self-pleasure when alone in your room; for I too have, when of your age, been susceptible to these vile temptations. No one in the household can deny that you have been locking yourself up in the bathroom for too long; and, depend upon it, everyone is very suspicious of you retiring to your room right after dinner, and never leaving until breakfast next morning.

Beside, the maids have been complaining of being terrorized by you. They say that you secretly snatch away from the laundry basket, like a slippery rascal (these were their words), their undershifts, their stockings, and petticoats, stowing away the booty in your room. I fear to imagine what you might be doing with their soiled underthings, locked up alone in your room, all those hours. You have also been caught by the maids, a-peeping on them through the key hole, into their private rooms (or through the blinds, or from behind the radiator). You have frightened the poor maids so that they now perform all their evening ablutions in the dark only, and, knowing you might be under the same roof, dare not get undressed anywhere in the house in daylight. For you are a sneaky one, my son, no denying that.

Reflect, I beseech you, before it be too late, upon the consequence of neglecting the professional duties you have to the cultivation of barley, wheat, and sugar beet. Think ye might find a respectable way to make a living from this talent you have for a-peeping on the maids from behind the radiator? Think ye of becoming a spy for a living, my boy?Think upon the indignities you are likely to suffer from those whose money you have squandered; the injustice you do to your future family in depriving your children not only of the power of raising themselves, but of living tolerably. And all this for the sake of indulging yourself in a thoughtless habit, that cannot afford the least satisfaction beyond the present hours, if in that; and which must be attended with deep remorse. Your mother has been bed-ridden all week, a-wailing at  everyone. Think seriously of these things, and in time resolve on such a course as may bring credit to yourself, peace and pleasure to your mind, comfort to your family, and safety to our maids; and which will give, at the same time, the highest satisfaction to 
                                                                                                    Your loving Father,

PS Perhaps you are reading this letter from behind the radiator, spying upon the poor maids, as usual. Would you like me to leave your lunch on a tray, near the radiator, so that you may, weasel-like, claim it, without anyone noticing?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Containing description of a modern marriage proposal

In the following correspondence, the reader shall see how modern people make marriage proposals to each other. The reader will be instructed in these modern ways, and thereby come to see the horridness of modern culture; so that he may learn to avoid such situations. 

From a Gentleman to his Mistress, desiring her hand in marriage.

Dear Betsy,

I have long struggled with the most honorouble and respectful passion for you that ever filled the heart of man. It is true that you have lately made numerous jests at my expense, that you have teased me, and that you have been very snappish with me. I hope, madam, that I have not lost my high-standing in your feelings too much. I can no longer struggle with a secret that has given me so much torture to keep; and I am racked with doubts and fears, upon anticipating your response.

There is one thing wanting to complete my proposal to you, viz. information relating to my fortune and details of my offer to you. Let be known then that my fortune is quite sufficient, and I can cast accompts as good as the next fellow. Apart from the standard wifely  privileges you shall have as my romantic cohabitant, you shall also be given a banking account with a credit limit of $30,000 a year, and you shall be the owner of a new Toyota Corolla.  What think you of this offer, Madam?

Condescend to embolden my respectful passion, by one favourable line; have pity on this honourable suitor. Hoping that my humble address will not quite be unacceptable to you, is the wish of
                                Your affectionate Admirer, and devoted Servant,

In answer to the preceding 

Dear Mack,

What came over you with such a bold gesture? Having received your last letter yesterday afternoon, so bewildered a state I got in, that I actually asked the maid to try to knock me down with a feather. The maid thwacking me with the peacock f., I did collapse onto the bed. You are racked with fears and doubts, and yet you do not take that as sign that your proposal may be inappropriate, or, at the least, grossly premature?

Forsooth, Mack, upon recovering from my swoon, I did burst forth into a fit of laughter upon considering your letter. I know not what jests, aimed at your expense, you speak of, nor what right you have in bribing me as you have done. I am sorry to disappoint you, Mack, but you have failed to impress me with your Toyotas, your credit lines, and all your trumpery; for, as Richardson wrote in his famous Book, a woman should desire to be rather the poorest man’s wife, than the richest man’s whore, or something like that.

Upon a different topik, it is my desire that you accompany me and my friend, Miss Carrington, to the playhouse next weekend. Your agreement in this regard is most necessary to mitigate your general silliness.                                                            
                                                                      Your friend and servant,

The Gentleman's submissive Reply

Dear Betsy,

I humbly beg your forgiveness for my boldness. As soon as I sent out my last letter to you, I knew instantly that I had made a mistake, and wished that I could undo my rashness. But my strong passions for you must have o’erpowered my sense of reason.

You allow me to think that my offer may be interpreted as a gesture of premature nature, rather than as merely despicable, as it surely was. For I behaved most despicably with regard to your virtue. And need it be said that your virtue deserves to be known and admired anywhere in the world where good Christians live? How I admire all your jokes, dear Betsy, no matter who their target be, for, through your wit, you have been known to make very discerning judgments upon us men. It is but that I am over-punctilious too often, Madam, that I unable to take your hearty jokes.

Yet I know not what to say, and I am at a loss for how I may restore my reputation in your eyes. If I may be allowed one more act of rashness---let it then be known that you shall be given a banking account with a $50,000 credit line, an Accura Sedan, and a private studio apartment in Gramercy Park. What think you of this, madam?

Torture me no more, I beg of you. Let me be received to favour, and I will be more cautious for the future. Give me but one word, and I shall know whether death or eternal happiness is the fortune of
                         Your most respectful Admirer, and obedient Servant,

The Lady's angry Answer

Dear Mack,

You have rudely ignored the invitation I made to you with regards to chaperoning me and Miss Carrington on our trip to the playhouse this weekend. O Mack, I fear you have become quite the absent-minded one. Aye, you will surely say---but I am in love and I have no memory for anything else, I know nothing of what is going on in this world anymore. And allow me to add, nothing but that which satisfies your own amorous adventures.

You are right to admit that your punctilio is the reason you take offense at even the most good-natured humour. As Rosalind from that famous Play says, a gentleman can never take a woman without her tongue, or something like that. Therefore, unless you learn to stomach my jokes, you shall continue to nag this creature, whom you so profess to love. O Mack, I have no patience for such games.

No one will deny that the most important attribute any honest woman might have is her virtue. And for what should I be nagged continuously, if I rather refuse to exchange my virtue for an Accura Sedan? Besides, know ye not that the Accura Sedan has received low overall rear safety ratings upon last examination? Do you wish to endanger my life and the life of Miss Carrington, in your beautiful car, just for your satisfaction, Mack? I also do not believe in polluting any further our poor Mother Earth. And thus I bid you adieu,                                                                    

The Gentleman's Reply, more explicitly avowing his Passion

Dear Betsy,

I would be a monstrous villain indeed if I in any way might have endangered the lives of the most wonderful ladies in all New York City. I could not live with myself with such an burden. Please forgive this absent-minded man. Love has made me most thoughtless, but I hope that this may be mitigated, as you described it, by my devotion to you.

You have a most charming tongue indeed, Madam. Allow me to express my fondness for that tongue.  It presents folly in its proper light, and rebukes all those who have not the stomach to hear honest appraisals of themselves. It is most excellent of your tongue to chide me for my punctilio.  

Of course, I would be so very delighted to accompany you and Miss Carrington to the playhouse this weekend.  Tho’ you know how difficult 'twill be for me to concentrate on the action on stage, when sitting next to you, and desiring to cater to your every whim. Would you like a drink, Madam? Shall I fetch you a bonbon, Madam?  Does Miss Carrington have any wishes, Madam? Shall I tell the orchestra to play less loudly, Madam?

If I may be forgiven another act of rashness, I now declare that, as my wife, you shall be given a bank account of $60,000 in credit line, a one bedroom apartment in Gramercy Park, a Toyota Prius, and an I-Pad two, in addition to your all you standard wifely privileges. What think you of this, Madam?

Please take me down from the rack, whereon I have been these last few days, suffering greatly. I hope that my offer may be met with a more favourable reception this time. Let your sharp tongue be a force for good, and you will not regret it. For I am, and ever must be, whether you’ll allow it or not,
                             Your most devoted Admirer, and humble Servant,

The Lady's forgiving Reply

Dear Mack,

Relax, my schnookums, you may come down from the rack, and cease your hysterical weeping. Since I received your last letter, I have given your proposal close scrutiny, and I have come to the decision to look upon it favourably. Now, if you will be so kind as not to trouble my head about it anymore. My father shall send a professional someone to discuss with you all matters relating to the marriage.

How thoughtful of you, Mack, to have finally realized that a studio apartment could not possibly be acceptable to me; for I would then be a horrid friend if, in the event that Miss Carrington wished to sleep-over with me, I did not think of her comforts also.

Please do not nag me or Miss Carrington during the performance of the play with any such butlering as you’ve described. I assure you, it is most unnecessary, tho’ you are most kind in offering us such services, which properly belong to the lowly servants.  And because we are engaged, I will allow you the freedom to kiss my hand in public---but do not overdo it with dramatic affectation, as you are wont to do, Mack. I do not want to suffer any public embarrassment. And if you behave like a proper gentleman I will allow you to kiss my cheek at the end of the evening, and you may also kiss Miss Carrington’s hand at the end. But do not overdo that neither, lest you further agitate
                                                                                          Yours truly,

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Inscription for an intended Statue of Voltaire

For your enjoyment, dear reader. Published in the newspaper The Public Advertiser, in London, on June 20th, 1778, one month after the death of M. Arouet de Voltaire---

Sunday, January 20, 2013

On the diversions of the playhouse

The following epistle may serve as a model for letters to write by, on the occasion that you should ever travel to New York City or Chicago, and intend to write a description of the various amusements therein, that is, to point out what is most worthy of Notice in it, to your dear mother and father.
Dear Honoured Parents,

Our chaperon has been very kind to us yesterday by conducting us to the playhouse. Upon hearing of the news, my cousin had o’erleapt with joy---Egad, my sweet coz! happy news! O how you shall adore the playhouse, said Jackey. Miss Cassie told us that we would be traveling to a famous district of New York City, known for its dramatical stage-spectacles, called Broadway in Times Square, where we would see a comedy---the name of which I forgot. I was trick'd out in my finest, and we hired a taxi to drive us to the theater.

You may believe I was agreeably surprised at the magnificence of the stage, and its elegant ornaments. And I was mightily pleased to see such a prodigious number of people, for the most part all strangers to one another, sitting together with ease, many of them bold enough to open conversations with those they couldn’t possibly have been properly introduced to. The mood was joyous and carefree, and I saw Jackey strike up a conversation with a lady, who was sitting next to us, wearing a sleeve-less dress.  'Fore Gad, dear parents, how sluttishly dressed were the women in attendance. 

We hurried to our seats, located near the stage, and I became further rattled to see the musicians being placed so near the audience. When the music began I was startled at the horrid loudness of the instruments.  Never could our Pastor Williams, I warrant ye, strike up the church organ as thundering as this. Hither the harpsichords went clickety-clak, the haut-boys went wizzle-wizzle, and the guitars went ting-tong-tang---whilst my foot went tap-tap-tap.

As I already said, this being a comedy, there was much punning in the dialogue, and witty retorts among the players---tho’ I did not understand the point of most of the humour. Forsooth, there was much vulgar joking, which did heartily please our Jackey, who went hack-hacking all performance long. As far I understood, the story was about a young fellow, recently graduated from university, who spent his daytime hours loafing about in his apartment, and in the evenings partaking in dance competitions. Lacking in any serious ambition for his professional advancement, which did anger his parents, who completely refused to pay his bills at one point, he goes on to win some major dance competition in the dance hall, and is on his way to becoming a television star---this triumph, as it were, ultimately reconciling him to his parents, who thereupon announced that, now that he would be raking in a fortune, they would love their son much more.  This is as much as I was able to gather from the story. Needless to say, in the course of the show, the fellow learned nothing of household husbandry,  which would have benefited him a great deal more than winning the frivolous contest.  

The central male personage thus exposed for a roguish fellow, and his family for vulgar Capitalists, the parts acted by women had several speeches and dance routines that I thought not quite consistent with the modesty of the sex. The freedom of their voice and gestures, tho’ perhaps suitable enough to the characters they represented, were not so pleasing to a mind bent upon innocent amusement, if not wholly upon instruction. What hardship must it be to the minds of these women to enter upon such saucy employment! How must their virtue be shock’d, to offer themselves for the entertainment of three hundred men, and to utter words which convey ideas too gross for a modest ear (such as mine).

I did not understand what purpose was served by the part of the roguish fellow in the story---because, as far as I could tell, the author made no attempt, in creating this central role, to draw any moral instruction for the audience  (such as on the dangers of disobeying one's parents, the vileness of the libertine's lifestyle, or shewing the consequences of overindulging children, especially, of encouraging them to expect luxuries from future life) And I am sorry to say that I could not understand why the people went hack-hacking all through the play so much. May-hap I shall ask Jackey to explain the jokes to me.   Some of the other male members of the company, I thought to behave quite commendably: The utmost decency was observed, on the part of certain minor personages, like the butler and the driver.  And it must be admitted that the music was enjoyable, and it stayed in my memory long after the curtains fell.

These, dear parents, are the rough thoughts, on this occasion, of,

                                                                                               Your dutiful daughter,

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Clarissa, sixth edition, 1768

If any reader ask me for proof of the superiority of traditional books over some electronic reading device, I here post evidence satisfying this request. I hope, in presenting these images, that the notion is made perfectly clear to any intelligent adult---that is, of the odious nature of all virtual print technologies, as they are called by the vulgar, as compared to the old reading practices.

Observe the character of the Caslon typeface letters in the images below, notice their lively airs, their roguish disorderliness; betokening the presence of some animating spirit behind the text. Do not the letters look like a flock of birds perching upon a clothes-line? How any electronic bauble can compete against the classik novels, this is beyond me. Unfortunately, the modern reader nowadays has no access to these sort of impressions at all, as the book pages from which he reads already resemble, in many ways, computer screens. So it makes no difference to the modern reader, one way or another, whether he is reading Caslon font or engorging himself upon data.   

Here you have reproductions of a printing of my "Clarissa," from a 1768 edition, this being the sixth edition of my book---

Monday, January 14, 2013

Jackson's Oxford Journal, June 24, 1769

Allow me to introduce my dear Readers to Jackson's Oxford Journal, a fine publication; one of the longest lasting 18th century newspapers from Oxford, having started in 1753, and remained in operation until 1898. 
On Saturday, June 24, 1769, as you will be pleased to remember, the British inhabitants of Corsica, rising against the invading French, were o'errun by that despicable army. This led to the eventual French takeover of the Island. This even would later become known as The Corsican Crisis. 

Here you have reproduced the Newspaper article relating that Offensive.

Here is a section titled Wonderful Intelligence, from the same day's Newspaper, relating a story of an ingenious School-Master in Ireland constructing an enormous wooden Hobby-Horse outside Corke, to the stupefaction of his fellow Irishmen.

And here is related news from Constantinople; wherein the Grand Vizir's attempt to introduce modern military methods (Prussian Exercises) to the Janissaries, for which purpose French assistance was solicited, was greeted by His Highness's Officers with less than hearty cheers. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Newcastle Courant, January 4th, 1751

Egad, reader, you will be pleased to discover the treat I have here for you. I post here a digital copy of a section of a newspaper, The Newcastle Courant, from Saturday 4th, January 1751---tho’ reporting news from Tuesday 21st, 1750.---As your perusal will show, upon that day Rome was persecuting Anti Papists, and Sweden sworn  in King Adolf Fredrik, the first King from the house of Holstein-Gottorp.   

Newcastle Courant, page 1st, January 4th, 1751