Saturday, January 20, 2018

Shadows in a Timeless Myth Presents Divorce Among The Vikings


A divorce was declared in the following manner. The wife had to declare the separation, and the reason of it, three times in three places in the presence of witnesses—first, in front of them on a bed; secondly, in front of the men’s door; and, thirdly, at the Thing; but separation did not prevent either party from marrying again afterwards.

Mörd gave advice to his daughter Unn how she should separate herself from her husband, Rut, when he was not at home.

“When thou art quite ready thou shalt go to thy bed, and with thee the men who are thy followers; thou shalt name witnesses at the bedside of thy husband, and declare that thou art separated from him by a lawful divorce, as fairly as is possible after the rules of the Althing and the laws of all the people. The same naming of witnesses thou shalt also have at the men’s door, and then thou shalt ride away” (Njala, c. 7).

The causes for divorce were numerous. A cause of divorce was that of wearing clothes belonging to the opposite sex, as when a man wore a shirt so open that you could see his breast; or when women wore breeches; and we find that sometimes these clothes were cunningly made on purpose to bring about a separation.

One day Thórd Ingunnarson asked Gudrún what a woman was liable to if she always wore breeches like men. She answered:

“‘They are to be punished for that just as a man is punished who has such a large opening in his clothes that his bare chest is displayed. Both are reasons for divorce....’ Thórd at once rushed to the law court and named witnesses, he declared himself divorced from Aud, because she wore closed breeches like men” (Laxdæla, c. 35).

“Gudrun, Usvifr’s daughter, was forced by her father to marry Thorvald Halldórsson, of Garpsdal. She always asked him to buy her the most costly things. Once, when she asked him for something, he said that she knew no moderation, and gave her a cheek-horse (box on the ear). She answered: ‘Now thou hast given me what we women think of great importance, and that is a good complexion, and thou hast cured me of importunate requests.’ The same evening Thórd (Ingunnarson, a good friend of hers) came in. Gudrun told him of this disgrace, and asked how she should take revenge for it. Thórd smiled, and replied: ‘I know a good way; make a shirt for him with an opening of divorce, and declare thyself separated from him for this reason.’ Gudrun said nothing against this, and they left off speaking, but that same spring Gudrun declared herself separated from Thorvald, and went home to her father at Laugar” (Laxdæla, ch. 34).

Divorce was easy to get, especially for the man, on the ground of the wife’s infidelity; while the wife could get it on the ground of repeated ill-treatment from her husband.

“If a man does not sleep in the same bed with his wife for six seasons on account of dislike, then her kinsmen can claim her property and also her rétt, but she shall herself keep her property” 

A man could separate from his wife without a lawful reason, but the separation was looked upon as a disgrace by her kinsmen, and revenge was sure to follow.

“If a man wants to separate from his wife, he shall declare himself separated so that each of them may hear the other’s voice, and have witnesses present” (Gulathing’s Law, 54).

 If a husband tried to take his wife out of the country against her will she could separate herself from him.

“If a man wants to take his wife against her will out of this land she shall declare herself separated if she likes, wherever they happen to be, if she can do it with reason; then he is liable to lose her and her property as if they had owned no property together, and he has no more right to that woman after they have separated than to any other woman with whom he has not lived” (Gragas, i. 331).

A wife could not separate without reason, and even if she left her husband with good reason on her side, he could keep her dower, and could force her to come back.

In case of a separation, the wife’s parents or kinsmen could claim the mund and the heimanfylgja.
A bondi, Thorkel, having heard that his wife Asgerd loved another man, was, on his remonstrating, told by his wife to choose one of two alternatives.

“Thou mayst choose one of two conditions. To stay with me as if nothing had happened; otherwise I will at once name witnesses, and declare myself separated from thee, and let my father claim my mund and heimanfylgja” (Gisli Sursson’s Saga, p. 16).

If a separation took place where neither party could be said to have been guilty of criminality, then the wife took the same amount of property as she would have at the death of her husband, or as she would take in case she left him on account of any unfaithfulness on his part. If she left him without any valid cause, or he separated from her on account of her repeated infidelity, then the husband had the right to retain all her property as long as she lived, and her heir had no claim to anything of the tilgjöf

But if she was unfaithful only once, she forfeited her tilgjöf, and kept the rest of her property. If the man drove her away against her will for that single offence, she came into all her rights.

“If a wife commits adultery, or separates from her husband without reason, she has forfeited her mund and her increase of a third (thridjungsauki). If her husband offers to take her back and she will not accept it he shall keep all her property while she is alive and then her next heir shall get her heimanfylgja but no increase of a third. If they are reconciled and he takes her back, their property shall remain as if there had been no breach between them. If she repeats the crime he shall keep her property while he is alive, and if he will not take her back, then it shall be as has already been said. If she does not and promises redress, and offers to live with her husband and he will not take her, then she shall get her heimanfylgja but not the increase of a third. If the husband wants to rob her of her heimanfylgja and says she has committed this crime before, and people have not before heard him accuse her of it, she shall take the einseidi (oath of one) and get her heimanfylgja, but not her increase of a third if he will not take her back. If a hindrance separates them according to God’s laws each of them shall have their respective property” (Frostathing’s Law, xi. 14).

It was a common provision in all the laws that a man was not allowed to beat his wife, under a penalty of paying the same indemnity as he had a right to receive if he himself were beaten. If he had beaten her three times and did it a fourth, then she could leave him, taking with her her heimanfylgja and tilgjöf.

“If a man beats his wife with keys or latches, then he is liable to pay three marks. Also if he takes another woman and puts her in the house; she is called hearth-rival. Thirdly, if a man beats his wife with a horn or with the fist on an ale-bench, then he is to pay three marks. If she three times gets rétt for these reasons, the fourth time she may separate from him, or not, as she likes” (Borgarthing Laws, ii. 8).

“When Börk had left his farm Helgafell Thordis went forward and named witnesses that she declared herself separated from her husband Börk, and pleaded as a reason that he had struck her, and she would not put up with his blows. Their property was divided, and Snorri (a son of her former marriage) took charge of it on behalf of his mother, for he was her heir” (Eyrbyggja, c. 14).
Restrictions were put upon the extravagance of women.

“The wife of a hauld (odal’s bondi) is allowed to buy to the extent of one eyrir, and not more. If she buys for more thebargain shall not be kept, except her husband wishes it so” (Earlier Frostathings Law, xi. 22).

“If a wife gives away her husband’s property he can claim it all, and prosecute the man who received it. If a man sends his wife to the Thing to pay debts or other expenses of theirs, her hand-shaking is valid, and also when she goes to a ship to make bargains with his consent, but no other transactions are valid unless he wishes them to be so. When she buys what is necessary for their household while he is at the Thing, that is also valid. The woman shall not sell half her land, a farm or more, or a godord (dignity of godi), or a seagoing ship, except with the will of her guardian” (Gragas, i. 333).

Compiled from sources in the public domain

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Smiles & Good Fortune,
Teresa
************************************
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Shadows In a Timeless Myth Presents Tales of The Valkyrie

 The Valkryie or Valkyrja of Norse Legend

“The daughter of King Eylimi was Svava; she was a Valkyrja and rode over air and sea; she gave this name to Helgi, and often afterwards sheltered him in battles” (Helga Kvida Hjörvardssonar).



The following among other poetical and figurative names are given to the Valkyrias:—The maidens of victory, the goddesses of the fight, the graspers of spears, the witches of the shield, the maidens of the slain, the exultant ones, the strong one, the entangling one, the silent one, the storm-raisers. They are mentioned as riding through the air, over the sea, and amid the lightning, helmet-clad, with bloody brynjas, and glittering spears; the spear which carried death and victory being the emblem of Odin. When their horses shake their manes, the froth which comes from their bitted mouths drops as dew into the valleys, and hail falls from their nostrils into the woods.

The slain were called Val (chosen), and belonged to Odin. From the word Val are derived the names of Valkyrias, Valfödr (the father of the slain), Valhalla (the hall of the slain), Valól (field of battle, field of the slain), and probably also of those birds of prey which after the battle visited the field of action.

Skuld, the youngest of the three Nornir, who personified the future, followed the Valkyrias, probably in order to witness the decrees of fate given to men at their birth.

“There are others that have to serve in Valhöll, carry drink and take care of the table-dressing and the beer cups. These are called Valkyrias; Odin sends them to every battle; they choose death for men and rule victory. Gunn and Róta and the youngest Norn, Skuld, always ride to choose the slain and rule man-slayings” (Gylfaginning,).

It was believed that during a battle warriors sometimes saw Valkyrias coming to their help: how grand and beautiful must have been the vision created in their mind by their faith in them, as they thought they saw them riding on their fiery steeds, and sweeping over the battle-field, by land or by sea. It is hard to realise a grander picture for a warrior to behold.

Helgi saw:—
Three times nine maidens,
But one rode foremost
A white maiden under helmet;
Their horses trembled,
From their manes fell
Dew into the deep dales,
Hail on the lofty woods;
Thence come good seasons among men,
All that I saw was loathsome to me.
[Helga Kvida Hjörvardssonar.]
 
Sometimes the Valkyrias came to earth and remained among men.

“Nidud was a king in Sweden. He had two sons and one daughter, whose name was Bödvild. There were three brothers, sons of the Finna-king, one Slagfinn, the other Egil, and the third Völund; they ran on snow-shoes, and hunted wild beasts. They came to the Ulfdal, where there is a lake called Ulfsjár (Wolf’s lake), and there made themselves a house. Early one morning they found at the shore of the lake three women who were spinning flax, near them lay their swan-skins; they were Valkyrias. 

Two of them were daughters of King Hlödver (Louis), Hladgunn Svanhvit (Svan-white), and Hervör Alvitr (All-wise); and the third Ölrún, daughter of Kjar of Valland. The brothers took them to their house. Egil got Ölrún; Slagfinn, Svan-white; and Völund, All-wise. There they dwelt for seven winters; after which the women went to visit battle-fields, and did not return. Then Egil went on snow-shoes to look for Ölrún, and Slagfinn for Svan-white, while Völund remained in Ulfdal. He was the most skilled smith that is spoken of in ancient Sagas. King Nidud had him captured, as is told in the song” (Völundar Kvida).

Helga Kvida gives an account of how Sigrun, a Valkyria, betrothed herself to Helgi, and of how she comes with other Valkyrias to protect him. Their appearance is thus described:—

Then gleams flashed
From Logafjöll,
And from those gleams
Came lightning;
The high ones rode helmet-clad
Down on the Himinvangar;
Their brynjas were
Blood-bespattered,
And from their spears
Sprang rays of light.
Early (in the day) asked
From the wolf-lair
The dögling (the king) about this
The southern disir
If they would home
With hilding
That night go;
There had been clang of bowstrings.
But from the horse
The daughter of Högni (Sigrun)
Hushed the clatter of shields;
She said to the king,
I think we have
Other work to do
Than drink beer
With the ring-breaker. (Helgi)
 
Compiled from sources in the public domain.

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Smiles & Good Fortune,
Teresa
************************************
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Friday, October 13, 2017

Shadow in a Timeless Myth presents Contemporary Observances On Queen Victoria

Stories of Queen Victoria contemporary to her lifetime, which just goes to prove that speculation, titillating gossip and yellow journalism have always been popular.

In regard to Victoria, Queen of England, the reason why silence is kept in relation to her private life is because of a sneaking regard for the manners, customs, and good opinions of titled individuals among most American travelers.

The Queen has been a good wife and mother, but in these two qualities she is more than equaled by thousands of American women. She is no better and no worse than the average married woman; has her faults, her weaknesses, and her good qualities, and it is among her own people that her failings find their loudest trumpeters.


In honestly dealing with these stories I shall not stop to give the gross yarns which are spun by the Jenkinses of the press, who make what they call an honest penny by chronicling all the loose street scandal that is poured into their ears.

The London Times, the leading paper of England, has on several occasions soundly berated the Queen for her continued seclusion from the public, her exalted position being, it is said, her only excuse, and subsequent to the death of Prince Albert this seclusion was continued so long that the shopkeepers and tradesmen who profit by the receptions, festivals, and gaieties of the court, were loud in their complaints of what they deemed to be an overstrained and extravagant grief.

Several leading modistes or dress makers were obliged to give up business, owing to the Queen having closed her drawing rooms; murmuring loudly that they had been ruined by her Majesty, as their principal business was to make dresses for the ladies of rank who have nothing else to do but go to balls, parties, and drawing-room receptions when invited. Indeed for the past three years there has been a growing dissatisfaction with her Majesty, and sad stories are told of that royal lady in the English capital—chiefly the shopkeepers were enraged—although this class of people are usually the most loyal—then the Fenian affair came and was added as fuel to the general discontent.
But the worst remains to be told, and it is with no feeling of pleasure that I am compelled to lift the veil.

The story is everywhere prevalent that the seclusion of the Queen is owing to her fondness for liquor; this statement has never been openly promulgated in the papers, but is continually hinted at obscurely in the more liberal organs. It is boldly spoken of by private individuals that the temper of her Majesty has of late years become very irascible and is sometimes ungovernable, and the cause is attributed to drink and its consequent delirium which has seized upon this unfortunate lady.

I was told by a clergyman who had it direct from the wife of a former chaplain of her Majesty, that the Queen was in the habit of drinking half a pint of raw liquor per day. The effects of these liberal potations are making visible havoc in her once comely face. I saw her thrice, and her inflamed face and swollen eyes gave her all the appearance of an inebriate. Perhaps the trouble caused by her scapegrace of a son, the Prince of Wales, who, without doubt, is as reckless a scamp as ever existed, has had much to do with his mother's present condition, and has driven her to drinking.

It is also notorious that the Queen has chosen for her body servant one John Brown, a raw boned, robust, and coarse Highlander, and clings to him with more warmth and tenacity than becomes a lady who carried her sorrow for a deceased husband previously to such an extravagant pitch.

This John Brown whom I saw is over six feet in height, a powerful looking fellow; but he has a face that would find favor in the eyes of very few women. He was formerly a body servant of Prince Albert, and was always an attendant on him in his hunting and fishing excursions. The Queen took notice of him at Balmoral, her summer residence in Scotland, and here she made a great pet of him.
After the death of Prince Albert the Queen attached Brown to her person, and ever since he has constantly attended her.

It is the custom of the Queen to have herself pushed around the grounds of her lodge at Balmoral in a perambulator or hand carriage when she visits that charming spot.

The person selected for this duty was the lucky John Brown. Day after day he might be seen pushing around the spacious lawn, the Majesty of England.


During her hours of idleness Brown is always allowed to converse with the Queen in a familiar manner, and it is said presumes on her gracious condescension more than her noblest subject would dare to do.

JOHN BROWN EXERCISING THE QUEEN.

When the Queen takes her seat in her perambulator it might often occur that a servant would spring forward with a lowly reverence to assist the royal lady, but in every instance the unfortunate flunkey would receive a rebuking frown, and in a moment after might have to undergo the mortification of a sneering laugh from Brown, who at this crisis would make his appearance—strolling in a leisurely fashion toward the perambulator, and stretching his long Celtic legs, his arms full of warm wraps in which he proceeds to enfold the person of the Queen, with as much seeming fondness as if he were the husband instead of the low lackey of royalty, without polish and breeding; then in addition to the silent rebuke of the Queen the offending servant would hear from Brown some such remark as "I say my douce laddie, dinna ya offer yer sarvices till her Majesty asks ya fur them. Dinna ye be sticking yer finger in till anoother mun's haggis or ye moon be scalded."

"That will do Brown," the Queen would say to prevent a scene which would be sure to take place were Brown's violent temper not curbed in time to prevent an explosion, for the tall Highland gillie is no respecter of persons, and cares very little for royalty except in the person of its chief representative.

It is a current anecdote in the Pall Mall clubs, that the Queen's cousin, the Duke of Cambridge, who is also the commander-in-chief of the British Army, having one day desired an audience with the Queen of a private nature, waited upon her at Buckingham Palace and presented his card like any other private citizen. He was desired to wait, and did so until he became tired, and finally he was admitted to the presence, and was somewhat astonished to find the servant, John Brown, in the room.

The Duke being a member of the royal family did not hesitate to say to her majesty in a respectful way: "Will your Majesty be so kind as to ask your footman to leave the saloon, I desire to speak to you on a matter of importance, privately."

"Very well, you may speak without intrusion," said the Queen, turning her head slightly to the window where her servant stood with his back turned coolly upon the Queen's cousin, "there is no one here but Brown, he is very discreet."

Finding that the Highlander could not be prevailed upon to leave the room, the Duke made a virtue of necessity and proceeded to state the purport of his visit. The Queen engaged in conversation with her cousin, and some minutes having elapsed the conversation turned upon different subjects. The Duke was relating a joke about the Clubs for the edification of the Queen, in which a noble person was made to assume a ridiculous position, when all at once he was interrupted with a peal of coarse and irreverent laughter, which rang through the apartments, and the Duke turning around with a thrill of  horror and astonishment, heard Brown scream out while he held his sides to contain his mad mirth:
"Oh! oh! What a d—d fule that fellow must have been."

The Duke for a moment stood petrified with horror, an unpleasant tremor ran down the small of his back, and then being seized with a sudden idea, he took his hat and making a low reverence left the apartment as the Queen said in an irritable tone:
"Oh! never mind, it's only Brown."

The story was too good to keep, and in a few days it was known all over London.

On the day that the Queen opened Blackfriars bridge she rode in a state carriage with Brown behind her, and the act was so flagrant that when the procession passed through the Strand, the Queen was openly hissed by the people who stood on the sidewalks and saw the burly form of the Scotsman in the carriage, so close to her Majesty.

I leave facts to speak for themselves, there is no need of comment. The great rival of Punch is a paper called the Tomahawk, published in Fleet street, and which is edited with fearless ability. The chief artist is a Matthew Morgan who excels all others of his craft in London for the beauty and spirit of his cartoons. Well, one day the Tomahawk appeared with a large two paged cartoon, in which the queen was pictured in her perambulator, and the tall form of Brown behind pushing the vehicle, while he leaned over the back and looked with an affectionate leer into the face of the sovereign of England. There was no inscription at the bottom of the picture, but it was so truthful and telling, that every person who looked, saw the whole scandalous story at a glance. Three editions of this number of the Tomahawk were sold in a few days, and in the corner of the picture the daring artist did not hesitate to sign his initials, "M.M." It is sufficient to state that no proceedings were taken, nor was a suit of libel brought against the editors who publish the paper.

I have here only recounted facts well known in England, and I set them down without malice or extenuation.

The salary or income of Queen Victoria is, I believe, about five thousand two hundred dollars a day, including Sundays, for which she also receives her regular stipend. Like other sovereigns, she does not toil or spin, yet the people must pay the bills all the same. Being of a very economical and thrifty disposition, it is supposed that her Majesty will leave a fortune of many millions of pounds to her scapegrace son when she dies, that is to say, if he has common decency enough too wait for her decease, and ceases to outrage her feelings to much.

Queen Victoria was born May 24th, 1819, and is consequently in her fifty-second year.

Compiled from sources in the Public Domain.


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Smiles & Good Fortune,
Teresa
************************************
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Shadows in a Timeless Myth Presents The Ancient Tale of the Queen of the Night

The Queen of the Night - An Ancient Tale Revisited

Once upon a time there was an old man who had three daughters. All of them were beautiful, but the youngest, whose name was Rosa, was not only more lovely, but also more amiable and more intelligent than the others. Jealous and envious exceedingly were the two sisters when they found that the fame of Rosa's beauty was greater than the fame of theirs. They, however, refused to believe that Rosa was really more lovely than they were, and they resolved to ask the Sun's opinion on the subject.

So, one day at dawn, the sisters stood at their open window and cried, "Sun, shining Sun, who wanderest all over the world, say who is the most beautiful among our father's daughters?"

The Sun replied, "I am beautiful, and you are both beautiful; but your youngest sister is the most beautiful of all."

When the two girls heard this, they were beside themselves with anger and spite, and determined to get rid of the sister who so outshone them. Saying nothing to her of what the Sun had told them, they on the following day invited Rosa to accompany them to the wood to gather a salad of wild herbs for their father's dinner. The unsuspecting Rosa at once complied, took her basket, and set out with her sisters, who led her to a spot she had never before visited, a long way from her father's house, and surrounded on all sides by forest. When they were arrived, the eldest sister said, "Do thou, Rosa, gather all the herbs that are here; we will go a little farther on, and when we have filled our baskets we will return."

The wicked girls, however, went straight home, abandoning Rosa to her fate. When some hours had passed, and she found that they did not return, she feared that she might, while seeking for the herbs, have wandered from the spot where her sisters had left her. Too innocent to suspect them of the wicked treachery of which they had been guilty, she only blamed herself for her carelessness, and wept bitterly at the thought of remaining all night alone in the wild and lonely wood.

After a time the sun set, the twilight came and passed, and darkness fell. The birds ceased their songs, and the silence of the forest was broken only by the flutter of a bat or great gray moth, the melancholy hoot of an owl, and the faint little rustle made by the other flying and creeping things that come forth with the stars. Seated on a great tree-trunk, Rosa wept more and more bitterly as the darkness deepened, and no one came to her aid. Hours passed, the air grew chilly; and faint with hunger and cold, she was about to lay herself down to die, when suddenly a brilliant light, like the sparkling of many stars, shot through the wood and advanced toward the spot where she sat. It was the Queen of Night, who, attended by all her court, was returning to her palace after her usual journey, for it was now near dawn. Rosa, dazzled and frightened, covered her face with her hands, and wept more bitterly than ever. Attracted by the sound of her sobbing, the Radiant Lady approached the weeping girl, and in a kind and gentle voice asked how she came to be there. Rosa looked up, and, reassured by the benign countenance of the Queen of Night, told her story.
"Come then and live with me, dear girl; I will be your mother, and you shall be my daughter," said the Queen, who knew perfectly well how it had all happened.

Gladly the poor girl accompanied the Queen to her palace, and being, as we know, as amiable and intelligent as she was beautiful, her protectress soon became very fond of her, and did everything in her power to make her adopted daughter happy. She gave Rosa the keys of all her treasures, made her the mistress of her palace, and let her do whatever she pleased.

But let us now leave this lucky girl with the Queen of Night for a little while, and return to her sisters. Though they fully believed she must either have perished of hunger or been devoured by wild beasts, they after a time, to make quite certain, went again to their window and cried, "Sun, shining Sun, who wanderest all over the world, tell us who is the most beautiful of our father's daughters?"

The Sun replied as before, "I am beautiful, and you are both beautiful; but your youngest sister is the most beautiful of all."

"But Rosa has long been dead!"

"No," replied the Sun, "Rosa still lives, and she is in the palace of the Queen of Night."

When the sisters heard this, their rage and spite knew no bounds. Long they consulted together as to the best means of bringing about her death; and finally these wicked girls decided to obtain from a witch of their acquaintance an enchanted kerchief which would make the person wearing it appear to be dead.

Well, they set out, and presently arrived at the palace at an hour when they knew that the Queen of Night would be absent and they might find their sister alone. Rosa was delighted to see them, for though they had often been unkind to her, she loved her sisters very dearly, and welcoming them warmly, she offered them everything she had, and pressed them to remain. They, on their part, pretended to be overjoyed at finding again the sister they had mourned as lost, and congratulated her on her good fortune. When they had eaten and drunk of the good things she set before them, and were about to take their departure, the eldest sister produced from her basket the enchanted kerchief.
"Here, dear Rosa," said she, "is a little present which we should like you to wear for our sakes. Let me pin it round your shoulders. Good-bye, dear!" she added, kissing her affectionately on both cheeks, "we will come and see you again before long and bring our father with us."

"Do, dear sisters, and tell my dear father that I will go to see him as soon as my kind protectress may give me leave."

Rosa watched her sisters from the window till they were out of sight, and then turned to the embroidery-frame which she had laid aside on their arrival. She had not, however, made many stitches, before a feeling of faintness came over her; and letting her work slip from her hands, she fell back on the sofa and lost consciousness. When the Queen of Night came home, she went first, as was her wont, to the chamber of her dear adopted daughter, and finding her thus, she said, as she bent over the maiden and kissed her beautiful mouth, "She has tired herself, poor child, over that embroidery-frame; she is so industrious."

But the beautiful lips were cold and white, and the maiden neither breathed nor stirred. Distracted with grief, the Queen of Night began to unfasten Rosa's dress in order to ascertain whether her death had been caused by the bite of some poisonous reptile, and while doing so, she observed that the kerchief on her shoulders was not one that her daughter was in the habit of wearing. When she had unpinned and taken it off, Rosa heaved a deep sigh, opened her eyes, and seeing the Queen bending over her, smiled and stretched out her arms to her dear mother, saying, "I must have slept a long time! Oh, I remember!" she added, "I was feeling faint and giddy and lay down, and, I suppose, fell asleep immediately, for I don't recollect anything else."

"But where did you get this?" asked the Queen, picking up the kerchief from the floor. "I don't remember having given it to you."

"Oh, I have not told you that I had a great pleasure yesterday. My sisters, who had thought me forever lost, found out where I was and came to see me, bringing this kerchief as a present. Is it not pretty?"
These words told the Queen of Night the secret of the whole matter; but, not wishing to distress her daughter by acquainting her with her sisters' cruel perfidy, she only replied, "Yes, very pretty. Will you give it to me, Rosa? I should like to have it for myself."

Rosa was naturally only too pleased to be able to give her kind protectress something in return for all her favors; and she also promised her, though not without tears, never again to receive any visitors, not even her sisters, when she was left by herself in the palace.

These wicked creatures in a little while again stood at their window and cried, "Sun, shining Sun, who wanderest the world over, say, is there now any one more beautiful than we are?"

But the Sun only replied as before, "I am beautiful; you, too, are beautiful; but Rosa is the most beautiful of all!"

The sisters looked at each other in dismay. "The kerchief has then failed," said the elder to the younger. "We must try some other method of getting rid of her."

So the wretches went to the same old witch who had given them the magic kerchief, and got from her an enchanted sugar-plum. When at nightfall they again knocked at the door of the palace, the porter informed them that his mistress was absent, and had given orders that the palace-gates were not to be opened until her return. They, however, saw Rosa at her window, and pretending to be greatly distressed at their exclusion, asked her at least to accept from them the delicious sugar-plum which they had brought for her.

"Let down a basket," said the eldest; "I will put the sugar-plum inside, and you can draw it up."
Rosa did so, and drew up the sweetmeat.

"Taste it at once," cried the second sister, "and if you like it, we will bring you more of the same kind."

The poor girl, suspecting no evil, put the sugar-plum into her mouth; but scarcely had she tasted it, than she fell back as if dead; and her sisters, seeing this, hurried away home.

When the Queen returned and again found her favorite lifeless, she was both grieved and angry. All her servants, however, when questioned, assured her that no one had entered the palace during her absence, and that Rosa's sisters had only been allowed to speak to her from a distance as she stood at her high window. In the hope of bringing her to life again, as on the previous occasion, the Queen of Night searched every fold of the maiden's dress, but in vain; she could not discover the fatal charm.

"Perhaps," said she to herself, as she sat and gazed on the lifeless features of her adopted daughter, "what I can not discover, chance may, and I could never bring myself to bury her, dead though she seems to be."

So the grieving Queen sent for a cunning workman, who made at her orders a coffer of silver; and after dressing Rosa in her most beautiful clothes and jewels, she laid her in it, closed the lid, fastened the coffer on the back of a splendid horse, and let him loose to wander at will.

The horse, following his fancy, carried his fair burden in a few hours' time into a neighboring country, the ruler of which was the handsomest man of his time; and this King, being that day out hunting with his court, happened to catch sight of the horse. Attracted by its beauty and fleetness, and by the strange shining burden it bore on its saddle, he approached, and seeing the animal to be masterless, he bade his people seize and lead it to the palace. The silver coffer the King caused to be carried into his bed-chamber, and there he opened it. Imagine, if you can, his surprise on seeing within the form of a beautiful maiden. Though apparently lifeless, she was more lovely than any living woman he had ever beheld, and his heart became filled with such ardent love for her that he would sit for hours together gazing upon her beautiful features, neglecting duties and pleasures alike; and when his ministers came and prayed him to accompany them to the council chamber, he only said,
"Go, I pray you, and do justice in my name."

Days passed, his gentlemen tried to tempt him out hunting, but again he only replied, "Do you go without me."

The royal cooks vied with one another in preparing the most delicious dishes for his table; but these he hardly tasted, nor did he even appear to notice what he was eating. When this state of things had continued for some days the ministers became alarmed, and sent a messenger to inform the Queen-Mother, who was away at her country palace. She came with all speed, and was much distressed to find her son so dispirited and melancholy. To all her anxious inquiries, however, he only replied that he was quite well, but preferred to remain alone in his bed-chamber. The Queen had, of course, already heard from the courtiers the story of the riderless horse and the silver chest; and she rightly guessed that her son had been bewitched by what he had found in it, and determined to discover what this might be.

So the very next day, while the King was at dinner with his vizier, his mother went to his chamber—for she had a master-key that would open all the doors in the palace—and there, extended on the divan, she saw the silver chest. Going hastily up to it, she raised the lid which the King had closed before leaving. At first she could only gaze in astonishment at the wonderful beauty of the maiden lying within; but her admiration presently changed to anger when she thought of her son; and seizing poor Rosa by her long hair, she dragged her out of the coffer and shook her violently, saying, "You wicked dead thing! Why are you not decently buried instead of wandering about casting spells on Princes?" But as the Queen shook her the enchanted sugar-plum was jerked out of Rosa's mouth, and she immediately came to life again, and gazed around her in bewilderment. And as she opened her large, lovely eyes, the Queen's anger passed away, and she embraced and kissed Rosa tenderly, weeping with delight the while. The poor girl was so astonished by the strangeness of everything around her, that it was some minutes before she could ask:

"Where am I, noble lady, and where is my dear mother?"

"I know not, my child, but I will be your mother. For you shall marry my son, the King, who is dying for love of you."

As she spoke, footsteps were heard at the door, and the King entered. Imagine, if you can, his amazement and joy at finding, seated on the divan by his mother's side, the maiden he loved so dearly, restored to life, and twenty times lovelier than before. Not to make too long a story of it, the King took her by the hand, and asked her to be his wife. And when Rosa heard of his love for her, and saw how handsome and noble he was, she could not but love him in return. So they were married with great splendor, and there were feasts for the poor, and fountains running honey and wine, and rejoicings for everybody.

Well, the King and Rosa lived very happily together for some time; but her troubles were not over, for her wicked sisters had not yet done their worst to her. They had for long feared to go near the palace again, and nearly a year passed before they learned what had been the result of their last visit. One day, however, in order to make quite sure that Rosa was dead, they once more stood at their window, and cried,

"Sun, shining Sun, who wanderest all over the earth, tell us if thou hast, since our youngest sister died, seen any maiden fairer than we?"

But the Sun only replied as before, "I am beautiful; you, too, are both beautiful; but your youngest sister is the fairest of all."

"But Rosa is dead!"

"No, Rosa lives, and she is the wife of the King of the neighboring country."

Well, if these wicked women could not bear that their sister should be considered fairer than they, still less could they allow her to be a Queen. So, disguised as two old women, they set off at once for Rosa's palace. When they arrived in the royal city, great rejoicings were going on because a baby prince had just been born.

"That is good news," said the elder to the younger when she heard this, "for now we will be the nurses." So they went to the Queen-Mother and gave themselves out to be wonderfully clever nurses from the neighboring country who had nursed the princes there; and the Queen-Mother, deceived by their story, put them in charge of her daughter-in-law and the baby. On the pretext of keeping the young Queen and her child free from evil spells, the make-believe nurses sent away all the other attendants from her apartments; and when they were left alone with their sister, they stack into her head an enchanted pin.

She was immediately changed into a bird, and flew away out of the window; and her eldest sister laid herself down on her bed in her place.

When the King came in to see his wife, he could hardly believe his eyes. This could not be his wife. The false Queen, guessing his thoughts, said,

"You find me changed, dear husband? It is because I have been so ill."

The King, however, pretended not to have observed anything, but his heart froze within him as he looked on the object of this pretended transformation.

It was his custom to breakfast alone every day in the garden; and one day while he was sadly musing there, a pretty bird flew down, perched on a branch overhead, and said, "Tell me, my lord, have the King, and the Queen-Mother, and the little Prince slept well?"

The King smiled and nodded, and the bird continued, "May they ever sleep sweetly. But may she whom they call the young Queen sleep the sleep that knows no waking, and may all things over which I fly wither away!"

This said, the bird spread its wings, and wherever it passed, the grass and flowers withered, and the place became a desert. The gardeners, in despair, asked the King if they might not kill the bird which caused the mischief; but he forbade them, on pain of death, to do it any injury.

Afterward the bird came every day while he was at breakfast in the garden; and the kind voice of the Prince soon made it so tame and fearless that it would perch on his knee and eat from his hand. This familiarity enabled the Prince to observe the bird's plumage more closely, and one day he caught sight of the pin in its head. Surprised at this, he ventured to withdraw it, when the bird disappeared, and his own dear wife stood again by his side. When he had recovered a little from the joy and surprise caused by this strange event, and had welcomed his wife back, he asked her to tell how it had all happened. And Rosa, whose eyes were now fully opened to the malice and wickedness of her sisters, told him all she knew of her own adventures.

When the Prince had learned the evil deeds of his sisters-in-law, he bade his guards bring these wretches before him, and condemned them both to a death suitable to their crimes. In vain did Rosa entreat him to pardon them. The King was inexorable. But when, at sunset, the criminals were being led away to execution, the Queen of Night appeared on the scene, followed by all her train; and touched by the distress of her adopted daughter, she prevailed upon the King to change the sentence he had pronounced. The two evil-doers were then offered the choice of dying a violent death, or living to witness their sister's happiness while deprived of the power of ever again being able to injure her.

They chose the latter fate; and it was not long before they both died of spite and jealousy.

Compiled from sources in the public domain.

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Smiles & Good Fortune,
Teresa
************************************
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Shadows In A Timeless Myth Presents Two Gems Of Historical Misogyny Circa 1841

THE LADY WITH THE SPECTACLES

A historical reference that greatly predates Dorothy Parker's famous quip, 
"Men seldom make passes
  At girls who wear glasses."

Beauty in spectacles is like Cupid in knee breeches, or the Graces with pocket handkerchiefs—an excrescence of refinement; an innovation of the ideas which spiritualize woman into a goddess; a philosophical blossom of the “march of mind.” Beauty in spectacles! and has it come to this?

Burke said that the age of chivalry was past, and publishers say that the age of poetry has followed it; powder and periwigs destroyed the one, and spectacles have gone far to annihilate the other. Think of the queen of beauty of some tournament—thanks to my Lord Eglintoun for making such words familiar to us—looking on the encountering knights through a patent pair of spectacles!—picture to yourself a beautiful and romantic young lady parting from her lover, taking the “first long lingering kiss of love,” as pretty Miss Pardoe terms it, and just imagine the figure the spectacles would cut in such an encounter; think of Mary Queen of Scots, Lady Jane Grey, Scott’s “Jewess,” or Shakspeare’s “Lady Macbeth,” with such appendages!

I think of a heroine in a novel taking off her spectacles to shed “salt tears” for her lover’s absence, or in the emotion of a distressing juncture throwing herself at the feet of some obdurate tyrant, breaking the lenses of her “sight preservers;” think of all this, and judge of the effect which spectacles, as an ornament, have upon romance.

Beauty has three stages—the coy, the dignified, and the intellectual. The first exists until about twenty, the second until twenty-five, and the last until beauty has made unto itself wings and flown away. It is in this last stage that women wear spectacles.

The symptoms of spectacles begin at an early age. The young Miss has a primness, a staidness, and a miniature severity of aspect, at variance from her years. They never seem young; there is no freshness of heart in them: they become women faster than other girls, and become old faster than other women; they are remarkable for thin lips, sharp noses, and white artificial teeth. They are walking strictures upon human life—bleak visions of philosophy in petticoats—daughters, not it would seem of love, but of Fellows of the Royal Society! They are fond of phrenology and meetings of scientific associations. They like a good pew in church, and write long letters to their unfortunate “friends in the country.” They are generally spinsters, or, if married, motherless. No young wife with “six small children” ever wore spectacles. They go a good deal into company, where they are seen seated on sofas talking to ladies older than themselves, or turning over the leaves of a book, and with interesting abstraction poring over it. They dance quadrilles, but never waltz. Heaven and earth! think of a pair of spectacles whirling in a waltz. They have a genius for the “scholastic profession,” and frequently exercise it as amateurs “never eat suppers;” and are, many of them, members of the Horticultural Society.

The lady with the spectacles! Half a century ago this would have been understood to refer to some one stricken in years, but now-a-days infirmity of eye-sight has been raised to the rank of a charm. The moment spectacles become really useful they are abandoned; it is the harmonious combination of youth and short-sightedness which gives beauty to the guise. Intense interest is expected to be felt towards her, who, still young and lovely, abandons the frivolities of her sex for the calm secluded pleasures of intellect. This is the point our heroines aim at. But we have done with them. They may be very good in their way, but their ways are not as our ways. Flirts, coquettes, prudes, and a host of other orders into which the sex are classified, have their failings, but they, at least, are women; while the “lady with the spectacles” seems hardly a daughter of Eve, but a mysterious being; a new creation, come into the world to gladden the lovers of modern science, and patronise the house of Solomons and Co.—Court Gazette.
  


Marriage.—It is the happiest and most virtuous state of society, in which the husband and wife set out early together, make their property together, and with perfect sympathy of soul graduate all their expenses, plans, calculations and desires, with reference to their present means, and to their future and common interest. Nothing delights me more than to enter the neat little tenement of the young couple, who within perhaps two or three years, without any resources but their own knowledge or industry, have joined heart and hand, and engage to share together the responsibilities, duties, interests, trials, and pleasures of life. The industrious wife is cheerfully employing her own hands in domestic duties, putting her house in order, or mending her husband’s clothes, or preparing the dinner, whilst, perhaps, the little darling sits prattling upon the floor, or lies sleeping in the cradle—and everything seems preparing to welcome the happiest of husbands and the best of fathers, when he shall come from his toil to enjoy the sweets of his little paradise. This is the true domestic pleasure, the “only bliss that survived the fall.” Health, contentment, love, abundance, and bright prospects, are all here. But it has become a prevalent sentiment, that a man must acquire his fortune before he marries—that the wife must have no sympathy, nor share with him in the pursuit of it, in which most of the pleasure truly consists; and the young married people must set out with as large and expensive an establishment as is becoming those who have been wedded for 20 years. This is very unhappy. It fills the community with bachelors, who are waiting to make their fortunes, endangering virtue and promoting vice—it destroys the true economy and design of the domestic institution, and it promotes idleness and inefficiency among females, who are expecting to be taken up by a fortune, and passively sustained, without any care or concern on their part—and thus many a wife becomes, as a gentleman once remarked, not a “help-mate,” but a “help-eat.”—Winslow.


Compiled from sources in the public domain.

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Smiles & Good Fortune,
Teresa
************************************
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Saturday, July 29, 2017


Apollonius of Tyana reads your future

From The Circus of Dr. Lao, Charles G. Finney, 1935.

The widow Mrs. Howard T. Cassan came to the circus in her flimsey brown dress and her low shoes and went direct to the fortuneteller's tent. She paid her mite and sat down to hear her future.

Apollonius warned her she was going to be disappointed.

"Not if you tell me the truth," said Mrs. Cassan. "I particularly want to know how soon oil is going to be found on that twenty acres of mine in New Mexico."

"Never," said the seer.

"Well, then, when shall I be married again?"

"Never," said the seer.

"Very well. What sort of man will next come into my life?"

"There will be no more men in your life," said the seer.

"Well, what in the world is the use of my living then, if I'm not going to be rich, not going to be married again, not going to know any more men?"

"I don't know," confessed the prophet. "I only read futures. I don't evaluate them."

"Well, I paid you. Read my future."

"Tomorrow will be like today, and day after tomorrow will be like the day before yesterday," said Apollonius. "I see your remaining days each as quiet, tedious collections of hours. You will not travel anywhere. You will think no new thoughts. You will experience no new passions. Older you will become but not wiser. Stiffer but not more dignified. Childless you are, and childless you shall remain. Of that suppleness you once commanded in your youth, of that strange simplicity which once attracted a few men to you, neither endures, nor shall you recapture any of them any more. People will talk to you and visit with you out of sentiment or pity, not because you have anything to offer them. Have you ever seen an old cornstalk turning brown, dying, but refusing to fall over, upon which stray birds alight now and then, hardly remarking what it is they perch on? That is you. I cannot fathom your place in life's economy. A living thing should either create or destroy according to its capacity and caprice, but you, you do neither. You only live on dreaming of the nice things you would like to have happen to you but which never happen; and you wonder vaguely why the young lives about you which you occasionally chide for a fancied impropriety never listen to you and seem to flee at your approach. When you die you will be buried and forgotton, and that is all. The morticians will enclose you in a worm-proof casket, thus sealing even unto eternity the clay of your uselessness. And for all the good or evil, creation or destruction, that your living might have accomplished, you might just as well have never lived at all. I cannot see the purpose in such a life. I can see in it only vulgar, shocking waste."

"I thought you said you didn't evaluate lives," snapped Mrs. Cassan.

"I'm not evaluating; I'm only wondering. Now you dream of an oil well to be found on twenty acres of land you own in New Mexico. There is no oil there. You dream of some tall, dark, handsome man to come wooing you. There is no man coming, dark, tall, or otherwise. And yet you will dream on in spite of all I tell you; dream on through your little round of hours, sewing and rocking and gossiping and dreaming; and the world spins and spins and spins. Children are born, grow up, accomplish, sicken, and die; you sit and rock and sew and gossip and live on. And you have a voice in the government, and enough people voting the same way you vote could change the face of the world. There is something terrible in that thought. But your individual opinion on any subject in the world is absolutely worthless. No, I cannot fathom the reason for your existence."

"I didn't pay you to fathom me. Just tell me my future and let it go at that."

I have been telling you your future! Why don't you listen? Do you want to know how many more times you will eat lettuce or boiled eggs? Shall I enumerate the instances you will yell good-morning to your neighbor across the fence? Must I tell you how many more times you will buy stockings, attend church, go to moving picture shows? Shall I make a list showing how many more gallons of water in the future you will boil making tea, how many more combinations of cards will fall to you at auction bridge, how often the telephone will ring in your remaining years? Do you want to know how many more times you will scold the paper-carrier for not leaving your copy in the spot that irks you the least? Must I tell you how many more times you will become annoyed at the weather because it rains of fails to rain according to your wishes? Shall I compute the pounds of pennies you will save shopping at bargain centers? Do you want to know all that? For that is your future, doing the same small futile things you have done for the last fifty-eight years. You face a repetition of your past, a recapitulation of the digits in the adding machine of your days. Save only one bright numeral, perhaps: there was love of a sort in your past; there is none in your future."

"Well, I must say, you are the strangest fortuneteller I ever visited."

"It is my misfortune only to be able to tell the truth."

"Were you ever in love?"

"Of course. But why do you ask?"

"There is a strange fascination about your brutal frankness. I could imagine a girl, or an experienced woman, rather, throwing herself at your feet."

"There was a girl, but she never threw herself at my feet. I threw myself at hers."

"What did she do?"

"She laughed."

"Did she hurt you?"

"Yes. But nothing has hurt me very much since."

"I knew it! I knew a man of your terrible intenseness had been hurt by some woman sometime.

Women can do that to a man, can't they?"

"I suppose so."

"You poor, poor man! You are not so very much older than I am, are you? I, too, have been hurt. Why couldn't we be friends, or more than friends, perhaps, and together patch up the torn shreds of our lives? I think I could understand you and comfort and care fir you."

"Madam, I am nearly two thousand years old., and all that time I have been a bachelor. It is too late to start over again."

"Oh, you are being so delightfully foolish! I love whimsical talk! We would get on splendidly, you and I; I am sure of it!"

"I'm not. I told you there were no more men in your life. Don't try to make me eat my own words, please. The consultation is ended. Good afternoon."

She started to say more, but there was no longer anyone to talk to. Apollonius had vanished with that suddenness commanded by only the most practiced magicians. Mrs. Cassan went out into the blaze of sunshine. There she encountered Luther and Kate. It was then precisely ten minutes before Kate's petrification.

"My dear," said Mrs. Cassan to Kate, "that fortuneteller is the most magnetic man I ever met in my whole life. I am going to see him again this evening."

"What did he say about the oil?" asked Luther.

"Oh, he was frightfully encouraging," said Mrs. Cassan.

Compiled from sources in the public domain.

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Smiles & Good Fortune,
Teresa
************************************
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Shadows In A Timeless Myth Presents Roxelana, The Murderous Sultana

Ibrahim, Grand Vizier,  was the only trusted counselor of Suleiman the Magnificient. He who had been originally a slave had risen step by step in the favour of his master until he arrived at the giddy eminence which he occupied at the time of his death. It is a somewhat curious commentary on the essentially democratic status of an autocracy that a man could thus rise to a position second only to that of the autocrat himself; and, in all probability, wielding quite as much power.

Ibrahim had for years been treated by Suleiman more as a brother than as a dependent, which, in spite of his Grand Viziership, he was in fact. They lived in the very closest communion, taking their meals together, and even sleeping in the same room, Suleiman, a man of high intelligence himself, and a ruler who kept in touch with all the happenings which arose in his immense dominions, desiring always to have at hand the man whom he loved; from whom, with his amazing grip of political problems and endless fertility of resource, he was certain of sympathy and sound advice. But in an oriental despotism there are other forces at work besides those of la haute politique, and Ibrahim had one deadly enemy who was sworn to compass his destruction. The Sultana Roxelana was the light of the harem of the Grand Turk. This supremely beautiful woman, originally a Russian slave, was the object of the most passionate devotion on the part of Suleiman; but she was as ambitious as she was lovely, and brooked no rival in the affections of Suleiman, be that person man, woman, or child. In her hands the master of millions, the despot whose nod was death, became a submissive slave; the undisciplined passions of this headstrong woman swept aside from her path all those whom she suspected of sharing her influence, in no matter how remote a fashion. At her dictation had Suleiman caused to be murdered his son Mustafa, a youth of the brightest promise, because, in his intelligence and his winning ways he threatened to eclipse Selim, the son of Roxelana herself.

This woman possessed a strong natural intelligence, albeit she was totally uneducated; she saw and knew that Ibrahim was all-powerful with her lover, and this roused her jealousy to fever-heat. She was not possessed of a cool judgment, which would have told her that Ibrahim was a statesman dealing with the external affairs of the Sublime Porte, and that with her and with her affairs he neither desired, nor had he the power, to interfere. What, however, the Sultana did know was that in these same affairs of State her opinion was dust in the balance when weighed against that of the Grand Vizier.

Suleiman had that true attribute of supreme greatness, the unerring aptitude for the choice of the right man. He had picked out Ibrahim from among his immense entourage, and never once had he regretted his choice. As time went on and the intellect and power of the man became more and more revealed to his master, that sovereign left in his hands even such matters as despots are apt to guard most jealously. We have seen how, in spite of the murmurings of the whole of his capital, and the almost insubordinate attitude of his navy, he had persevered in the appointment of Kheyr-ed-Din Barbarossa, because the judgment of Ibrahim was in favour of its being carried out. This, to Roxelana, was gall and wormwood; well she knew that, as long as the Grand Vizier lived, her sovereignty was at best but a divided one. There was a point at which her blandishments stopped short; this was when she found that her opinion did not coincide with that of the minister. She was, as we have seen in the instance of her son, not a woman to stick at trifles, and she decided that Ibrahim must die.

There could be no hole-and-corner business about this; he must die, and when his murder had been accomplished she would boldly avow to her lover what she had done and take the consequences, believing in her power over him to come scatheless out of the adventure. In those days, when human life was so cheap, she might have asked for the death of almost any one, and her whim would have been gratified by a lover who had not hesitated to put to death his own son at her dictation. But with Ibrahim it was another matter; he was the familiar of the Sultan, his alter ego in fact. It says much for the nerve of the Sultana that she dared so greatly on this memorable and lamentable occasion.

On March 5th, 1536, Ibrahim, went to the royal seraglio, and, following his ancient custom, was admitted to the table of his master, sleeping after the meal at his side. At least so it was supposed, but none knew save those engaged in the murder what passed on that fatal night; the next day his dead body lay in the house of the Sultan.

Across the floor of jasper, in that palace which was a fitting residence for one rightly known as “The Magnificent,” the blood of Ibrahim flowed to the feet of Roxelana. The disordered clothing, the terrible expression of the face of the dead man, the gaping wounds which he had received, bore witness that there had taken place a grim struggle before that iron frame and splendid intellect had been levelled with the dust. This much leaked out afterwards, as such things will leak out, and then the Sultana took Suleiman into her chamber and gazed up into his eyes. The man was stunned by the immensity of the calamity which had befallen him and his kingdom, but his manhood availed him not against the wiles of this Circe. Ibrahim had been foully done to death in his own palace, and this woman clinging so lovingly around his neck now was the murderess. The heart’s blood of his best friend was coagulating on the threshold of his own apartment when he forgave her by whom his murder had been accomplished. This was the vengeance of Roxelana, and who shall say that it was not complete?


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Smiles & Good Fortune,
Teresa
************************************
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Shadows In A Timeless Myth Presents Queen Zenobia - A Poem

 ZENOBIA


By ADA IDDINGS GALE.


Midst clash of arms, she comes, and glittering spear,
Bold, bright and beautiful, her flashing eye;
Crowned, gemmed and robed in cloth of Tyrian dye.
Palmyra’s pride, unequaled far or near.
Proudly she moves and with imperious mien
Views with a sweeping glance each column o’er,
While they in rapture kneeling do adore,
And rising, vow allegiance to their queen.
The trumpet’s peal, a thousand helmets shine,
The long ranks into perfect order pass,
And at the command move on. Alas!
That fortune’s star for such should e’er decline,
That pomp of pride, that dreams of regal sway
Should like the mists of morning melt away.

Compiled from sources in the public domain.
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Smiles & Good Fortune,
Teresa
************************************
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Shadows In a Timeless Myth Presents Julia Gonzaga Duchess and Pirate's Plunder

JULIA GONZAGA, DUCHESS AND PIRATE'S PLUNDER

The Grand Turk had spoken, the appointment had been made, Barbarossa had arrived; but though autocrats can cause their mandate to be obeyed, they cannot constrain the inward workings of the minds of men. In spite of the awe in which Soliman the Magnificent was held, there were murmurs of discontent in the capital of Islam. The Sultan had been advised to make Barbarossa his Admiralissimo by his Grand Vizier Ibrahim, who was, as we have said, his alter ego. This great man had risen from the humblest of all positions, that of a slave, to the giddy eminence to which he had now attained by the sheer strength of his intellect and personality. The Grand Vizier it was who had pointed out to his master that which was lacking in the Ottoman navy: brave men and desperate fighters he had in plenty, but the seaman who cleared the Golden Horn and made his way through the archipelago into the open sea beyond had forces with which to contend against which mere valour was but of small avail. Out there, somewhere behind the blue line of the horizon, did Andrea Doria lie in wait; and if the Moslem seaman should escape the clutches of the admiral of the Christian Emperor, were there not those others, the Knights of Malta, who, under the leadership of Villiers de L’lsle Adam, swept the tideless sea in an unceasing and relentless hostility to every nef, fusta, and galley which flew the flag of the Prophet?

Who, it was asked in Constantinople, was this man who had been called in to command the ships of the Ottomans at sea? They answered their own question, and said that he was a lawless man, a corsair: were there not good seamen and valiant men-at-arms like the Bashas Zay and Himeral, who should be preferred before him; this man who had come from the ends of the earth, and of whom nobody knew anything good? Again, could he be trusted? Something of the history of the Barbarossas had penetrated to the capital of Turkey, and it was known that scrupulous adherence to their engagements had not always characterised the brothers: who should say that he might not carry off the galleys of the Grand Turk on some marauding expedition designed for his own aggrandisement? There was yet more to be urged against him: not only was he infamous in character, but he was no true Mussulman, for had not his father been a mere renegado, and—worst of all—had not his mother been a Christian woman?

The following description of the famous corsair may be found interesting at this juncture.
Barbarossa was at this time seventy-seven years of age. Courageous and prudent, he was as far-seeing in war as he was subtle in peace. A tireless worker, he was, above all things, constant in reverse of fortune, for no difficulties dismayed him, no dangers had power to daunt his spirit. His ruddy skin, his bushy eyebrows, his famous red beard, now plentifully streaked with white, his square, powerful frame, somewhat inclined to stoutness, above all, his penetrating and piercing eyes, gave to his aspect a certain terror before which men trembled and women shrank appalled.

All this harmonised well with his reputation as a chief so resolute, so pitiless, that it was the boast of his followers that his very name shouted in battle put to flight the Christian vessels. His smile was fine and malicious, his speech facile, revealing beneath the rude exterior of the corsair the subtle man of affairs, who, from nothing, had made himself King of Algiers, and was now, by the invitation of Soliman the Magnificent, Admiralissimo of the Ottoman navy.

Well may Jurien de la Gravière say that “in the sixteenth century even the pirates were great men.”
It has been stated that in speech Barbarossa was facile. He was not only so, but he possessed a power of addressing such a man as Soliman in terms which, while delicately flattering that mighty monarch, gave him also a lead which he might follow in the future disposition of such power as he possessed at sea.

On his return from Aleppo Kheyr-ed-Din was received in audience by the Sultan. We must be pardoned if we give the long speech which he addressed to his new master in its entirety; and we have to remember that the man who made it was now an old man who, all his life, had been absolutely free and untrammelled, owing allegiance to no one, following out his own caprices, and sweeping out of his path any whom he found sufficiently daring as to disagree with him. That this ruthless despot should have been able so to change the whole style and manner of his address so late in life is only one proof the more of the marvellous gifts which he possessed.
It was in the following words that the corsair addressed the Sultan:

“If Heaven is favourable to my vows, the Spaniards will soon be chased from Africa; the Carthaginians, the Moors, will soon be your very submissive subjects; Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, will obey your will. As for Italy, it will soon be desolated by famine when I attack it in formidable force, without fearing that the Christian Princes will come to its aid.
“Mahomet II., your illustrious grandfather, formed the project of conquering this country; he would have succeeded had he not been carried off by death. If I counsel you, dread Sovereign, that you should carry war into Europe and Africa, it is not that I desire your arms should be turned back in Asia from against the Persians, the ancient enemies of the Ottomans. I require but your sea-army, which is no use against the Persians. While you shall be conquering Asia I shall be subduing Africa.
“When I besiege Tunis I shall present him to the inhabitants, who love him as much as they hate Muley Hassan. They will open their gates to me, and I shall gain the town without the loss of a single man: it will be then you who will be master. On my way thither I will do what harm I can to the Christians; I will endeavour to defeat Andrea Doria, who is my personal enemy and my rival in glory: should I succeed in defeating him your Majesty will possess the empire of the sea. Be then persuaded, great Prince, by me, and believe that he who is master of the sea will very shortly become master on land.”



It was in July 1534 that the Ottoman fleet left Constantinople, and Kheyr-ed-Din began operations by a descent upon Reggio, which he sacked. On August 1st he arrived at the Pharos of Messina, where he burnt some Christian ships and captured their crews; then he worked north from Reggio to Naples, ravaging the coast and depopulating the whole littoral, burning villages, destroying ships, enslaving people. In this expedition he is said to have captured eleven thousand Christian slaves. There is perhaps nothing more amazing in the whole history of this epoch than the number of the slaves captured by the corsairs, and the damnable cruelties exercised upon them; these were, of course returned by the Christians with interest whenever possible. As an instance of the treatment to which the slaves were subjected it is only necessary to mention the course taken by Barbarossa when he left Algiers in the previous year. There were at that time seven thousand Christian captives in his power; immediately before starting he had the entire number paraded before him, and, under the pretext of having discovered a plot, which in no circumstances could possibly have existed, owing to the supervision of the slaves, he caused twenty of them to be beheaded on the spot in order to strike terror into the remainder during his absence.

Back to the Golden Horn streamed ship after ship laden with plunder and with slaves. “The veritable man of the sea” was proving the correctness of the choice of the Sultan, the acumen of the Grand Vizier who had recommended his appointment. Barbarossa was determined to leave nothing undone to prove to Soliman that his choice had indeed been a worthy one when he had selected him as admiral of his fleet: also he had in his mind those others who spoke slightingly of him as “the African pirate”; they should know as well as their master of what this pirate was capable. Northward the devastating host of Barbarossa took its way; the fair shores of Italy smoked to heaven as the torches of the corsairs fired the villages. Blood and agony, torture and despair, followed ever on the heels of the Sea-wolves of the Mediterranean. And now a fresh pack had been loosed, as it was, of course, in enormously increased strength that Barbarossa returned to the scene of so many of his former triumphs.

Plunder and slaves were all very well in their way, and acceptable enough on the shores of the Golden Horn; but Kheyr-ed-Din had a pet project in view on this particular cruise, which was to capture Julia Gonzaga and to present her to Soliman for his harem. The lady destined by him for this pleasant fate was reported to be the loveliest woman in Europe, a fitting gift for such an one as the Grand Turk. The fame of her surpassing loveliness had reached even the corsairs. She was the widow of Vespasian Colonna, Duchess of Trajetto, and Countess of Fundi; she had now been a widow since 1528, and lived at Fundi, some ninety miles north-east of Naples. Barbarossa laid his plans with his accustomed acuteness, and it was only through an accident that they miscarried.

There was one undeniable advantage in the system which swept off into slavery the whole of the inhabitants of a country-side, and that was, if at any time you required a guide at any particular point on the coast, he was sure to be forthcoming from one of the vessels in the fleet. Now Barbarossa did not exactly know where Julia Gonzaga was to be found, so he set his captains to work to discover the necessary slave. This was soon accomplished, and there was really no occasion for a slave on this occasion, as a renegado of Naples knew the castle in which Julia Gonzaga was residing at the time, and readily agreed to act as guide to the expedition sent to accomplish her capture. Kheyr-ed-Din had made a sudden dash along the coast with some of the swiftest of his galleys for the purposes of this capture. In consequence the people in Naples and the neighbourhood were not even aware that the piratical squadron was on the coast before they anchored, as near as it was practicable to do, to the residence of the Duchess of Trajetto. The fleet actually arrived after dark, having kept out to sea and out of sight during the day.

As soon as the anchors were down a party of two thousand picked men were landed and marched silently and with all expedition to the castle of Fundi. The escape of the Duchess was really providential. She had already gone to bed, and the fierce marauders were actually within the grounds of the castle before her distracted people became aware of their presence. But fortunately136 some among them kept their heads, and it also so happened that her bed-chamber was the opposite side of the castle to that by which the pirates approached. A horse was brought round under the window of the room, and, in her night-dress with nothing but a shawl wrapped around her, was Julia Gonzaga lowered out of her window on to the back of her horse. As she galloped for dear life down the avenue of her home she heard the shrieks of her miserable household murdered in cold blood by the furious pirates who had thus been balked of their prey.*

Dire was the vengeance taken by the corsairs. They sacked Fundi and burned the town; they killed every man on whom they could lay their hands, and carried off the women and girls to the fleet.
Kheyr-ed-Din was furious with anger and disappointment. “What is the value of all this trash?” he demanded, with a thundering oath, of the commander of the unsuccessful raiders, surveying as he spoke the miserable, shivering women and girls. “I sent you out to bring back a pearl without price, and you return with these cattle.”

Thus balked of his prey, Barbarossa swung his fleet round to the southward and westward and sailed for Sardinia, where, from the Straits of Bonifacio to Cape Spartivento, he left no house standing that would burn, or man alive who was not swept in as a captive. The descent of the corsairs in force, such as Kheyr-ed-Din now had at his disposal, was one of the most awful calamities for a country that it is possible to imagine.

*It has been told that she escaped with a single knight and later had him killed for seeing her nearly naked during her escape. There is also speculation that Barbarossa's attempt may have been motivated by members of the of her deceased husband's family, who wished to recover their lands after his death.The following year the young widow, who successfully escaped entering the harem of Suleiman the Magnificient, entered a convent.

Compiled from sources in the public domain.

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Smiles & Good Fortune,
Teresa
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It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915