The world as seen through the clarifying lens of the 9th Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1875-1889).

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

51. Wild Adventure

There follows an article which has survived in a butchered form throughout various editions of Britannica. I feel that the original article really deserves to be read in full, and also perhaps that it may be beneficial in understanding the complex and bloody issue of Serbian nationalism. May I also point out that the Wikipedia article on Karageorge is very weak water in comparison. It does carry a rather splendid portrait, however.
"CZERNY GEORGE (? 1766-1817), or KARDJORDJE, or Black George, as he is always called, though his name was properly George Petrovitch, a Servian who freed his country from the domination of the Turks, born about 1766, was the son of a Servian peasant. He was about twenty when, having killed a Turk in some wild adventure, he was forced to flee into Austria. It has been said that he forced his father, or his stepfather or father-in-law, to accompany him ; but the old peasant could not be persuaded to leave his country, and, to prevent him falling into the pitiless hands of the Turks, Czerny George put him to death with a pistol-shot. In the Austrian army Czerny George fought against the Turks from 1788 to 1791, and rose to the rank of sargeant ; but either unwilling to submit to discipline or disgusted by some slight, he left the service for the life of a heyduc, or bandit who preyed only upon the Mahometans. He afterwards, however, is said to have held an appointment as inspector of forests to a monastery in Austria.

"For a time Servia was under the mild rule of Hadji Mustapha, and Czerny George lived on his farm in peace. But the Janissaries overran the country, killed the Pasha, and began to murder the Servian chiefs. Many escaped, however, and, headed by Czerny George, who was chosen commander-in-chief, summoned every male Servian to arms. The sultan sent troops against the Janissaries, who were overwhelmed, and their leaders executed. But the Servians now refused to receive again the yoke of the Turks, Russia supported their claim to independence, and war commenced. Czerny George commanded his countrymen with a fiery enthusiasm, rough vigour, and considerable ability. Several victories over the Turks were won ; and, in October 1806, the independence of Servia was recognized by the Porte, a tribute only being exacted, and the sign of Turkish sovereignty maintained by the residence at Belgrade of a Turkish officer with a very small force. The Turks refusing, however, to give up Belgrade anf Schabaz, both towns were taken by Czerny George by assault, and the Janissaries and Turks in both were massacred in cold blood.

"Czerny George, as commander-in-chief, now became the ruler of Servia ; and till 1813, despite strong opposition in the Servian senate and constant danger from the Turks, he maintained his position. His elevation made no change in his habits. He continued during peace to cultivate his farm at Topola with his own hands, and he never laid aside his coarse peasant's dress. He had received no school education, and was never able to write. In general, he was moody and taciturn, though, when excited, he was fond of joining in the village dances. His passion was terrible ; he killed his warmest adherent in a fit of anger. His execution of justice was stern and prompt ; he hanged his own brother for assaulting a girl, and forbade his mother to make any signs of mourning. In war he displayed marvellous energy and valour, and he had the power of inspiring his followers with the fierce enthusiasm with which he himself was animated.

"In 1809, on the outbreak of war between Russia and Turkey, Czerny George, who had formed the scheme of achieving the independence of all the SLavonic countries under the rule of Turkey, took up arms against the Turks, and, after attempting to excite a revolt in Bosnia, marched on Herzegovina. The Turks at this juncture invaded Servia, and Czerny George, though wishing to place the country under the protection of Austria, was forced to seek the aid of Russia. A vigorous attempt was now made to dispossess him of the supreme power ; but he forced his opponents to submit or flee the country. The treaty of Bucharest (May 1812), however, while depriving the Servians of the protection of Russia, failed to claim for them sufficient guarantees from the Turks, in whose hands all the Servian fortresses were placed. In June 1813 the Turks again entered Servia, and Czerny George, in despair, with almost all the Servian chiefs, took refuge in Austria.

Four years after, having been persuaded that his countrymen were only awaiting his signal to burst into revolt, he ventured tyo return in disguise to Servia. He discovered himself to Vuitza, an officer who had served under him, by whom he was basely murdered (27th July 1817), at the instigation of Milosch Obrenovitch, a Servian senator, who had come to a compromise with Turkey and obtained the chief power, and was jealous of the popularity of the old chief. See SERVIA, and Ranke's Die Serbische Revolution."

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Have you been paying attention? Part two

Part two of the According to the Ninth beginning of term quiz. Please remember to check your answers yourself by referring to the posting numerically corresponding to the question answered. Diplomas will be awarded at the end of examinations.
Q 11.) What meaningless incantation was once believed to be effective against agues and fevers?
a)      Ague be gone!
b)      Abracadabra!
c)      By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!
d)      Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtaghn!
Q 12.) “Where Englishmen remember, Americans…
a)      …forget.”
b)      …anticipate.”
c)      …contradict loudly and obnoxiously.”
d)      …agree cravenly.”
Q13.)  The author of the lines  “Welcome kindred glooms, /Congenial horrors hail!” found fame when…
a)      …a literary clergyman rushed into the coffeehouses to proclaim his genius.
b)      …he was struck down with brain fever whilst declaiming his poetry in the streets of Bath.
c)      …his obscure and depressing poetry and life were recounted in a widely read and highly regarded “weblog.”
d)      …his monkey behaved in a most indecorous manner during a garden party held by the Countess of Huntingdon.
Q14.) In English law, who was considered the victim in the case of the seduction of an unmarried woman?
a)      The woman
b)      The swiving gent
c)      The parents of the seducee
d)      The fiancĂ© of the seducee
Q15.)  What does Dave believe reduces the value of a full set of 1884 Encyclopaedia Britannica?
a)      Their weight and thus their postal cost
b)      The advent of the Internet since 1984
c)      The existence of a poorly conceived “weblog” that selectively quotes from said reference work, presumably for comic effect
d)      Ben Schott’s Miscellany
Q16.) The institution of the poet laureate might best be compared to which mediaeval entertainer?
a)      The minstrel
b)      The gleeman
c)      The troubadour
d)      The gleeman
Q17.) Which of the following events in the life of Mr John Barleycorn has resulted in a selection of articles being quoted from in this electro-aetheric journal without further explanation?
a)      Experiencing salvation from a life of fashionable dissipation whilst being captivated by the ephemeral beauty of a towering bank of clouds lit orange by the dying light of the setting sun.
b)      Breaking the collar-bone after tumbling head-over-heels from a bicycle whilst racing through the park on the way home from work.
c)      Being accosted on the way to a wedding by a crazed old sailor who recounted a fantastic tale of a terrible and doomed voyage.
d)      “Mr John Barleycorn” is in fact a cunning contrivance built from the parts of a Singer sewing machine, three rolodex, and a small and unreliable steam engine. No events of any kind, other than mundane malfunctions, have ever occurred to it.
Q18.) Relating to the subject of race, which hypothesis is not questioned by Britannica’s essayists?
a)      That all races of men share a common ancestor.
b)      That inter-breeding between all races is possible, whether or not approved.
c)      That white and negro children are equally intelligent.
d)      That negro adults are morally capable of emulating whites.
Q19.) With what words did the mighty Jenghiz Khan order his troops to sack the unfortunate Persian town Bokhara?
a)      “Fill yer boots, lads!”
b)      “Let the world know the wrath of the mighty Jenghiz Khan!”
c)      “The hay is cut : give your horses fodder.”
d)      “Please wash your hands after pillaging .”
Q20.) Which of the following adjectives could not be fairly applied to the poetical works of Henry Vaughan, “the Silurist”?
a)      crabbed
b)      tortured
c)      tuneless
d)     worthless

Thursday, 15 October 2009

50. The triumph of sanctity, and the terrible engine of her power

Part two of the According to the Ninth beginning of term exam will be posted shortly. To help clarify and focus your ganglionic organ, here are some considered thoughts and observations on the subject of CELIBACY.

"CELIBACY is the condition of those who are living a single life. The word is derived from caelebs, which means, not necessarily, as is very commonly supposed, a bachelor, but one who has no existing wife, whether he be a bachelor or a widower. (For authorities on this point, see Facciolati, Totius Latinitatis Lexicon.) Scaliger and Voss derive the word from *GREEK*, a bed, and *GREEK*, to leave. Some more fanciful etymologists, imagining that caelebs leads a celestial life, have suggested a derivation from coelum. the word is sometimes written coelebs, but the better authorities are in favour of the dipthong ae"

Accordingianists will of course know better than to follow the whims of fanciful etymologists.
"From the remotest times, those who have given their attention to the study of the conditions of human life in this world have deemed the married state to be a better thing both for the individual and the society to which he belongs than celibacy ; while from an equally early period those who have professed to understand man's destinies in a future world, and the most proper means of preparing for them, have, though in no wise condemning marriage, conceived that celibacy is the better, purer, nobler, and higher condition of life. Lawgivers, sociologists, statesmen, philosophers, and physiologists have held the former view ; devotees, ascetics, priests, the latter.


"Any endeavour to give a satisfactory account of the investigations of physiologists, as bearing on this subject would lead us too far afield into the discussion of topics which fall more conveniently and appropriately under other headings. But it appears from recent statistics that married persons,-women in a considerable but men in a much greater degree,-have at all periods of life a much greater probability of living than the single."

In short, celibacy may be a splendid ideal for a supposed next world, but is unscientific and ill-advised in this. The anonymous author continues his (or her) piece with "the utmost brevity" by considering the historical development of celibacy within the Christian church. With some regret (especially as the full article does not yet seem to have been previously submitted to the digital aether) I will apply a yet further degree of ut.

[...]"[I]t was a prevalent opinion among the earliest Christians that if Adam had not fallen by disobedience, he would have lived for ever in a state of virgin purity, and that a race of sinless beings would have peopled Paradise, produced by some less objectionable means than the union of the first pair of mortals. Marriage was considered by them as a consequence of the Fall, the brand of the imperfection it had entailed, and a tolerated admission of an impure and sinful nature. To abstain from it, therefore, was the triumph of sanctity and at the same time the proof and the means of spiritual perfection."

The author notes how celibacy was not originally a requirement of priesthood, and that various Popes and churchmen had argued persuasively against it.
"[...]But when the church stood at the diverging of the ways, fabled in the apologue, and at the Council of Trent decided once and forever which of the two paths open before her she should follow, whether that of progressive reformation and amelioration, or that of a sint-ut-sunt-aut-non-sint persistance in her old ways and policies, the abolition of the celibacy of the clergy was discussed among other proposed measures of reform, and more peremptorily rejected than almost any other suggestion brought forward. The church understood too well what was around her, and too little what was ahead of her ; was too clear-sighted, yet too shortsighted ; and determined to retain the terrible engine of her power, which makes of her a caste, with a gulf between her ministers and the rest of humanity."

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Have you been paying attention? Part One.

It is difficult to get myself back in the habit of writing again after this long break. I cannot complain, however, of any dearth of material. In only perusing the C volumes of The Ninth, I have learned this week about the threefold significance of the Celtic stream of legend, of a royal scandal terminating in death by mortification, a female academic who overcame her natural ineptitude for learning by the use of snuff and green tea leaves, a king who disdained to learn how to read, but who tilled the soil and joined enthusiastically in village dances, that an over-reliance on statistics can be misleading when considering the causes and possible cures for the social affliction that is crime...

And much else besides.

However, before getting on to all that, wouldn't it be a splendid idea to check if my esteemed and highly educated readership have learned anything from previous ramblings?

It would be especially splendid to post one of those interactive multiple choice quiz thingumajigs that while away the tedious hours for office drones around the globe. Sadly, the interactivity would require a degree of coding-savvy and also patience currently beyond my capabilities. Instead, however, here are 10 questions, the answers to which are contained in those excerpts from the Ninth Edition of Encyclopaedia Britanicca weblished on the preceding etheric pages.

(If you want to get all interactive, you can jot down your answers on a piece of paper, fold it up and keep it in your pocket until such time as you might bump in to me on a train or bus, and badger me excitedly to verify your answers. Or, you can find the answer yourself by reading the entry number in this very blog that corresponds to the question number. Clever, I'm sure you'll agree.)

So :

1.)The 9th Edition of Encyclopaedia Britanicca is also known as ...
a) The pedant's edition
b) The pedants' edition
c) The "Scholar's Edition"
d) Web 0.01

2.) Which of the following is not a form of torture once recognized under law?
a) The rack
b) The boot
c) The hat
d) Water boarding

3.) What does Andrew Lang, MA, advise on entering the cloudland of folk-lore?
a) caution
b) optimism
c) to wear stout boots
d) not to take the brown acid

4.) What did French law fix with an exact time limit that English law did not?
a) How long a gentleman might beat his horse (15 minutes)
b) How long to engage in a war with Germany before capitulating (6 months)
c) The limit of utero-gestation (300 days)
d) The length of time permissable to bathe (15 minutes)

5.) Which is the odd one out of the following list?
a) Infant
b) Lunatic
c) Adulterer
d) Married Woman

6.) Where did Mrs Fawcett look to see models of Communism at work in the world?
a) England
b) Russia
c) Germany
d) USA

7.) And where would be the best place to find cretins?
a) At a hospice for the victims of Acquired Insanity
b) Sat typing away in front of a computer screen at approaching 3am
c) Writing the appraisal that cost me my last job
d) Chiselborough in Somerset

8.) What benefited Edward Gibbon in his first authorial endeavour?
a) Resolve
b) Original learning
c) Habits of thinking
d) The arts of Composition

9.) How thick was the 1877 Ironclad Inflexible's armour?
a) 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 inches
b) 6 to 8 inches
c) 8 to 12 inches
d) 16 to 24 inches

10.) The following options rank exports of India to Great Britain from 1877 to 1888 in order of value (from greatest to least). Which is correct?
a) Tea, Cotton, Grain, Opium
b) Opium, Grain, Cotton, Tea
c) Cotton, Tea, Opium, Grain
d) Grain, Opium, Cotton, Tea