A live toad every morning

Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Brotherly Love

And Chesterton worshipped his brother Cecil, too, and with Cecil antisemitism was paramount:
In response to this episode, “the Beilis Affair,” Cecil Chesterton characterised Russian pogroms as something horrible, but also something to be understood as part of an ongoing “bitter historic quarrel” between Israel Zangwill’speople (i.e. “the Jews”) and the people of Russia. The “evidence of the pogroms”, he argued, points to a “savage religious and racial quarrel.” He suggested that it was sometimes “a naturally kindly people like the Russians [who] are led to perpetrate the atrocities,” and sometimes it was the “equally embittered” Jews, who, “when they got a chance of retaliating, would be equally savage.” Referring to the Beilis Affair, Cecil endorsed the blood libel, stating that: “An impartial observer, unconnected with either nation, may reasonably inquire why, if we are asked to believe Russians do abominable things to Jewish children, we should at the same time be asked to regard it as incredible … that Jews do abominable things to Russian children – at Kieff, for instance.” Israel Zangwill, a prominent Anglo-Jewish author and playwright, countered Cecil Chesterton’s accusation, noting that following his logic, we should have to accept that if hooligans throttle Quakers then Quakers must also be throttling hooligans. Zangwill also rightly pointed out that it was implausible that a Jew would murder a Christian child for ritual purposes considering no such ritual exists in Judaism. In response, Cecil Chesterton stated that “as to ‘ritual murder’, Mr. Zangwill, of course, knows that no sane man has ever suggested that it [ritual murder] was a ‘rite’ of the Jewish Church any more than pogroms are rites of the Greek Orthodox Church.” He then proceeded to clarify that what he and others had suggested, is that “there may be ferocious secret societies among the Russian Jews,” and that “as so often happens with persecuted sects, such societies may sanctify very horrible revenges with a religious ritual.” In other words, Cecil Chesterton accepted that responsible Jews did not go around committing ritual murder, but did suggest that a sect of fanatical and vengeful Jews did go around murdering Christian children following a “religious ritual”. Eleven years later, his brother, G. K. Chesterton, similarly suggested as part of his complex multifaceted construction of “the Jew,” that “ritual murder” had occasionally been committed by Jews, not by responsible practitioners of Judaism as such, but by “individual and irresponsible diabolists who did happen to be Jews”. Cecil Chesterton, “Israel and ‘The Melting Pot,’” New Witness, 5 March 1914, 566-567; Cecil Chesterton, “A Letter from Mr. Zangwill,” New Witness, 12 March 1914, 593-594; G. K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man (London: Hodder and Stoughton, [1925]), 136.

Doesn't clarify the  "innocent innocent" stuff, but shows where the sub-sect stuff comes from.

Such a sweet man

Somebody like myself who has a firm grounding in Chesterton - a feel for the rhetoric, a liking for The Man Who Was Thursday, The Flying Inn, the Father Brown stories, The Napoleon of Notting Hill - does have to rock back on their heels rather when reminded that his antisemitism wasn't simply a matter of being against a plutocracy he saw as Jewish, it followed every kink in a Catholic Church he felt himself bound to defend at every point, even when it came to the pogroms of the Blood Libel.

Here's a passage I've just happened across, from The Everlasting Man (1925);
This inverted imagination produces things of which it is better not to speak. Some of them indeed might almost be named without being known; for they are of that extreme evil which seems innocent to the innocent. They are too inhuman even to be indecent. But without dwelling much longer in these dark comers, it may be noted as not irrelevant here that certain antihuman antagonisms seem to recur in this tradition of black magic. There may be suspected as running through it everywhere, for instance, a mystical hatred of the idea of childhood. People would understand better the popular fury against the witches, if they remembered that the malice most commonly attributed to them was preventing the birth of children. The Hebrew prophets were perpetually protesting against the Hebrew race relapsing into an idolatry that involved such a war upon children; and it is probable enough that this abominable apostasy from the God of Israel has occasionally appeared in Israel since, in the form of what is called ritual murder; not of course by any representative of the religion of Judaism, but by individual and irresponsible diabolists who did happen to be Jews. This sense that the forces of evil especially threaten childhood is found again in the enormous popularity of the Child Martyr of the Middle Ages. Chaucer did but give another version of a very national English legend, when he conceived the wickedest of all possible witches as the dark alien woman watching behind her high lattice and hearing, like the babble of a brook down the stony street, the singing of little St. Hugh.
Nineteen jews died in Hugh's case - 
The nine-year-old Hugh disappeared on 31 July, and his body was discovered in a well on 29 August. A man called John of Lexington appears to have suggested that Jews were responsible.[1] Hugh's friends apparently claimed that Copin (or Jopin), a local Jew, had imprisoned Hugh, during which time he tortured and eventually crucified him. It was said that the body had been thrown into the well after attempts to bury it failed, when the earth had expelled it.[2] Copin was arrested and, under torture,[3] confessed to killing the child. He later appears to have implicated the Jewish community as a whole. He was executed, and the story would have ended there were it not for a series of events that coincided with the child Hugh's disappearance.[1]Some six months earlier, King Henry III had sold his rights to tax the Jews to his brother, Richard, Earl of Cornwall. Having lost this source of income, he decided that if a Jew was convicted of a crime, any money he had would then belong to the king. As a result, some ninety Jews were arrested in connection with Hugh's disappearance and death and held in the Tower of London, charged with ritual murder. Such accusations had become increasingly common following the circulation of the Life of Saint William of Norwich by Thomas of Monmouth, the hagiography ofWilliam of Norwich, a child-saint said to have been crucified by Jews in 1144. This story clearly influenced the myth that developed around Hugh.
Eighteen of the Jews were hanged for refusing to participate in the proceedings by throwing themselves on the mercy of a Christian jury.[4] It was the first time ever the civil government handed out a death sentence for a conviction of ritual murder. King Henry promptly expropriated the property of those convicted. The others were pardoned and set free, most likely because Richard, who saw a potential threat to his own source of income, intervened on their behalf.[citation needed]The chronicler Matthew Paris described the supposed murder, implicating all the Jews in England:
This year [1255] about the feast of the apostles Peter and Paul [27 July], the Jews of Lincoln stole a boy called Hugh, who was about eight years old. After shutting him up in a secret chamber, where they fed him on milk and other childish food, they sent to almost all The cities of England in which there were Jews, and summoned some of their sect from each city to be present at a sacrifice to take place at Lincoln, in contumely and insult of Jesus Christ. For, as they said, they had a boy concealed for the purpose of being crucified; so a great number of them assembled at Lincoln, and then they appointed a Jew of Lincoln judge, to take the place of Pilate, by whose sentence, and with the concurrence of all, the boy was subjected to various tortures. They scourged him till the blood flowed, they crowned him with thorns, mocked him, and spat upon him; each of them also pierced him with a knife, and they made him drink gall, and scoffed at him with blasphemous insults, and kept gnashing their teeth and calling him Jesus, the false prophet. And after tormenting him in divers ways they crucified him, and pierced him to the heart with a spear. When the boy was dead, they took the body down from the cross, and for some reason disemboweled it; it is said for the purpose of their magic arts.[1]
- and many more afterwards; but 
The Cathedral in Lincoln benefited from the episode, however, since, saint or not, Hugh was regarded as a Christian martyr; and sites associated with his life became objects of pilgrimage.[2]  

 - and a Catholic apologist had to believe.    I think I'm offended most by that line "not of course by any representative of the religion of Judaism" since of course the legend was exactly that it was an official Jewish custom and the body of the story makes no sense whatsoever without it. 

I also have to confess that I don't follow some of the dark hints at all. 
....that extreme evil which seems innocent to the innocent. They are too inhuman even to be indecent. 
Is that contraception?  It's close to a line about preventing the birth of children; but then he jumps straight to childmurder, and moreover at the time contraceptive advice was regarded as indecent and prosecuted for that. I'm stumped. Which is mildly humiliating: I thought I understood England in the twenties well enough to pick up even their dogwhistles. 

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Housman's sea

Oh billows bounding far
How wet, how wet you are!

When first my gaze ye met
I said “Those waves are wet.”

I said it and am quite
Convinced that I was right.

Who said those waves are dry?
I give that man the lie.

Thy wetness, oh thou sea
Is wonderful to me.

It agitates my heart
To see how wet thou art.

No object I have met
Is more profoundly wet.

Methinks were vain to try
Oh sea, to wipe thee dry.


I therefore will refrain.
Farewell, thou humid main.


From his letters. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Commonplace book - Coleridge yet again

Coleridge referred to antimnemonics, which were things that made your memory worse:

the habit of perusing periodical works may be properly added to Averroes'* catalogue of Anti-mnemonics, or weakeners of the memory…..

*Ex. gr. Pedicalos e capillis excerptos in arenam jarere incontusos; eating of unripe fruit; gazing on the clouds, and (in genere) on moveable things suspended in the air; man's delirium, riding among a multitude of camels; frequent laughter; listening to a series of Jests and humorous anecdotes, as when (so to modernize the learned Saracen's meaning) therefore transfer this species of amusement, one man's droll story of an Irishman inevitably occasions another's droll story of a Scotchman, which again by the same sort of conjunction disjunctive leads to some etourderie  of a Welshman, and that again to some sly hit of a Yorkshireman ; the habit of reading tomb-stones in church-yards, &c..


Reading tombstones?  That’s worrying:  walking in graveyards is one of Rose’s favourite hobbies.  That’s one of the reasons why we liked Syracuse so much; wonderful, wonderful graveyards, one of the best we’ve seen anywhere.

Though, checking online, I see that
Coleridge actually misremembers the source. Not Averroes, a Muslim Aristotelian, but Burhan al-Din, as translated by Jean Baptiste de Boyer, Kabbalistische Briefe (8 vols)--James Engell & W. Jackson Bate

Wouldn’t want to mislead you.

Commonplace book - Coleridge

For as to the devotees of the circulating libraries, I dare not compliment their pass−time, or rather killtime, with the name of reading. Call it rather a sort of beggarly daydreaming, during which the mind of the dreamer furnishes for itself nothing but laziness and a little mawkish sensibility; while the whole materiel and imagery of the doze is supplied ab extra by a sort of mental camera obscura manufactured at the printing office, which pro tempore fixes, reflects and transmits the moving phantasms of one man’s delirium, so as to people the barrenness of an hundred other brains afflicted with the same trance or suspension of all common sense and all definite purpose.We should therefore transfer this species of amusement, (if indeed those can be said to retire a musis, who were never in their company, or relaxation be attributable to those, whose bows are never bent) from the genus, reading, to that comprehensive class characterized by the power of reconciling the two contrary yet co−existing propensities of human nature, namely; indulgence of sloth, and hatred of vacancy. In addition to novels and tales of chivalry in prose or rhyme, (by which last I mean neither rhythm nor metre) this genus comprizes as its species, gaming, swinging, or swaying on a chair or gate; spitting over a bridge; smoking; snuff−taking; tete-a-tete quarrels after dinner between husband and wife; conning word by word all the advertisements of the daily advertizer in a public house on a rainy day, &c. &c. &c.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Commonplace book - Dooley

From Finlay Peter Dunne; 

Well, th' Boer dillygates met Mack an' they had a pleasant chat. 'Will ye,' says they, 'inthervene an' whistle off th' dogs iv war?' they says.
'Whisper,' says Mack, th' tears flowin' down his cheeks. 'lver since this war started me eyes have been fixed on th' gallant or otherwise, nation or depindancy, fightin' its brave battle f'r freedom or rebellin' again' th' sov'reign power, as the case may be,' he says. 'Unofficially, my sympathy has gone out to ye, an' burnin' wurruds iv unofficial cheer has been communicated unofficially be me to me official fam'ly, not, mind ye, as an official iv this magnificent an' liberty-lovin' raypublic, but as a private citizen,' he says. 'I feel, as a private citizen, that so long,' he says, 'as the br-right star iv liberty shines resplindent over our common counthries, with th' example iv Washin'ton in ye'er eyes, an' th' iliction comin' on, that ye must go forward an' conker or die,' he says. 'An',' he says, 'Willum McKinley is not th' man to put annything in ye'er way,' he says. 'Go back to me gr-reat an' good frind an' tell him that th' hear-rt iv th' raypublican party throbs f'r him,' he says. 'An' Sicrety Hay's,' he says, 'an' mine,' he says, 'unofficially,' he says. 'Me official hear-rt,' he says, 'is not permitted be th' constitootion to throb durin' wurrukin' hours,' he says.
"An' so it goes. Ivrywhere th' dillygates tur-rns they see th' sign: 'This is me busy day.' An' whin they get back home they can tell th' people they found th' United States exudin' sympathy at ivry pore -- marked private. '"
"Don't ye think th' United States is enthusyastic f'r th' Boers?" asked the innocent Hennessy.

"It was," said Mr. Dooley. "But in th' las' few weeks it's had so manny things to think iv. Th' enthusyasm iv this counthry, Hinnissy, always makes me think iv a bonfire on an ice-floe. It burns bright so long as ye feed it, an' it looks good, but it don't take hold, somehow, on th' ice."

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