Madison’s act of belevolence: the Venezuela Earthquake and 200 years of American foreign aid.

James Madison is often quoted as having been against hand-outs,

“I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”*

Although these probably weren’t James Madison’s exact words, Congressman Madison probably said something similar.

Portrait of James Madison
Portrait of James Madison

Continue reading Madison’s act of belevolence: the Venezuela Earthquake and 200 years of American foreign aid.

Covered (a tale of Caracas in 1812)

Men will tell you that the Republic had no faith in God; but then, why were the churches in the Capital full that day?

Some may have been there to display their gratitude (to their fellow atheists perhaps), or to ask forgiveness (from a God who they apparently did not think existed).

Ernesto Malego was there out of habit. Continue reading Covered (a tale of Caracas in 1812)

The old man and the pillory

As Daniel Isaac Eaton was dragged to the pillory, he knew it would be useless to resist. Eaton saw a crowd gather, some estimates say as many 50,000 onlookers gathered round. There were too many people to determine what kinds of things they’d brought to throw at him.

Eaton knew London well, and he knew what happened to those who were stuck in the pillory. One hour would be a long spell, seemingly much longer than six months in prison. Sweat began to drip from his bald head. Strangers continued to pass by and gather round. Continue reading The old man and the pillory

The sentence for the pamphlet

Daniel Isaac Eaton waited in Newgate prison to find out what his fate would be.

Before Eaton could be convicted, a Mr. Prince Smith filed an affidavit in Eaton’s defense.

In addition to other words of common sense, Mr. Prince Smith told the court that “It was quite impossible to maintain the fear of God by force; and religion ceased to be the fear of God when it became the fear of man.” Continue reading The sentence for the pamphlet

20 December 1812: The Brothers Grimm publish their first book of fairy tales

I think I shall do something different this time, because I have more than one story waiting to be told.  So, from this introduction, I shall link to those stories as they are ready. – The P.t.a.r.a. Cavy

The Brothers Grimm didn’t originally have the idea to publish folktales.  No, they heard an appeal from another writer, who was looking for traditional tales.

Their first attempt was rejected.  The publisher who the brothers sent the story too held on to it, and it wasn’t published until both Grimms were dead.Brothers Grimm monument, Hanau, Germany

Years later, they went from town to town, collecting stories in Germany.  Again, these stories were not their idea, they were meant to be folk tales that had existed for ages.

Other writers had some a similar thing, but embellished their stories, adding something personal.  The Brothers Grimm didn’t believe in this, they were more of academics.

So, when on December 20, 1812, they finally got a group of tales published, those tales were meant to be purely as the Brothers heard them.  No spicing things up to meet the demands of the market.  They treated the tales as non-fiction.

Perhaps they’d be turning in their graves if they saw not only the Disney and other adaptations of the tales they collected, but also the recent fictional movie made about them.

Well, later editions appear to show that the Brothers slowly let go of their purist streak, and eventually gave in to market forces.  No longer remembered as academics, we now see the Brothers are writers.

For another take on how the stories have gained a life of their own, check out this post by Nigel Lewis-Davidson.  And through the work or Christie Birmingham we have us three Grimm tales in one poem.

Watch this space for more stories related to the Brothers Grimm first publication.

(image credits: © Chernov | Dreamstime.com )

When Saint Patrick’s Day was British

a loyalist bull celebrating St. Patrick's DaySt Patrick’s day “a day always precious in the estimation of the Irishman, was celebrated yesterday at the Free Mason’s Tavern.” Reported the Morning Chronicle.

So the famous playright Sheridan, the Mayor of London, and a few other notables celebrated St. Patrick’s, so what? Well, unlike in previous years, British newspapers in 1812 saw trouble brewing in these celebrations.

Continue reading When Saint Patrick’s Day was British

Social Networking, Book Burning, and the rooster who lost his head

Daniel Isaac Eaton had been in trouble with the law before.   (That is, before the blasphemy case.)

Cockerel and hen from woodcut
A 19th century cockerel or Chanticleer based on an image from John George Wood’s “The illustrated natural history”

Once upon a time, in a little kingdom in far away Europe, there lived a cockerel by the name of Chanticleer, King Chanticleer. This rooster was a descendent of the Chanticleer in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Nun’s Priest’s Tale, and a distant uncle of the King Chanticleer which featured in 1911 song by Nat D. Ayer.

Only this Chanticleer was a gamecock which sprung from the imagination of John Thelwall in 1793. Continue reading Social Networking, Book Burning, and the rooster who lost his head

Daniel Isaac Eaton, Thomas Paine’s publisher, accused of blasphemy

The prosecution mounted a brilliant case against Thomas Paine’s publisher. The first witness the attorney General called was Henry Ben Raven, who, as stated earlier, had purchased a copy of Thomas Paine’s book from Daniel Isaac Eaton’s shop. Continue reading Daniel Isaac Eaton, Thomas Paine’s publisher, accused of blasphemy

A historical look at climate change

“It keeps getting colder and colder.” Some people tell me.  Yet others complain that we just aren’t as prepared for a cold spell as we used to be.bicycle covered in snow

The Spectator carries an article that says “Snow, what snow?” which claims that “Heathrow ruined thousands of peoples’ plans” by playing it safe.  Yet the Expresso states that the “Cold wave has already cause 470 deaths” in Europe.

Is this climate change?  Or are we just forgetting our history?

Continue reading A historical look at climate change