From the now rare book Elizabethan Demonology (Chatto, London 1880) by Thomas Alfred Spalding, this piece about an attempt to deify St. Vitus and, more importantly, Francis of Assisi. The book, which is dedicated to Robert Browning, mainly deals with mystical allusions in Shakespeare but has a certain amount on polytheism including this:
...the Roman Catholic form of Christianity, representing the oldest undisturbed evolution of a strictly monotheistic doctrine, is undeniably polytheistic. Apart from the Virgin Mary, there is a whole hierarchy of inferior deities, saints, and angels, subordinate to the One Supreme Being. This may possibly be denied by the authorized expounders of the doctrine of the Church of Rome; but it is nevertheless certain that it is the view taken by the uneducated classes, with whom the saints are much more present and definite deities than even the Almighty Himself.
It is worth noting, that during the dancing mania of 1418, not God, or Christ, or the Virgin Mary, but St. Vitus, was prayed to by the populace to stop the epidemic that was afterwards known by his name...
The posthumous history of Francis of Assisi affords a striking illustration of this strange tendency towards polytheism.
This extraordinary man received no little reverence and adulation during his lifetime; but it was not until after his death that the process of deification commenced. It was then discovered that the stigmata were not the only points of resemblance between the departed saint and the Divine Master he professed to follow; that his birth had been foretold by the prophets; that, like Christ, he underwent transfiguration; and that he had worked miracles during his life. The climax of the apotheosis was reached in 1486, when a monk, preaching at Paris, seriously maintained that St. Francis was in very truth a second Christ, the second Son of God; and that after his death he descended into purgatory, and liberated all the spirits confined there who had the good fortune to be arrayed in the Franciscan garb.
Spalding cites Maury, Histoire de la Magie, p. 354 as his source for this.
More jokes from Jests New and Old collected by W. Carew Hazlitt etc., ( Jarvis, London 1886). These are some of the better jokes from a list of 600 or so. Not exactly rolling in the aisles material but probably pretty rib-tickling in their day. We published a few a week back and they proved popular.
A man went out rabbit-shooting, but could not get any sport. "So," said he, "I lay down where they could not see me, and made a noise like a turnip."
A lady begged of her lover to give her his picture to hang at her breast. Said he, "that would at once let your husband know of our amour."–"Ah," said she, with naiveté, "but I would not have it drawn like you."
A worthy gentleman, living at Vauxhall, had the bell-wire of his door cut one night by some inebriated persons returning from the Gardens. To prevent the recurrence of a similar outrage, he ordered the bell-hanger to place it out of reach.
Sydney Smith spoke of a lady's smile being so radiant that it would force a gooseberry-bush into flower.
Sent in by Robin, a serious jot fan, scholar and idler. It is reassuring to see people investigating their own collections and archives and then sharing the results..
I recently rescued from a job lot of books this Birthday Book designed by HRH the Princess Beatrice, which appeared in 1881. It looks exactly as the title suggests it would look---a largish, heavy gift-book in high Victorian taste bound in light tan cloth embossed with a repeating floral pattern in gilt and with gilt edged pages.
Open it up and there are 365 pages—one for each day of the year with twelve very typical German chromolithographs introducing each month. After a cursory inspection I put this scented confection aside without a single glance at the ink inscriptions on many pages and the ostentatious presentation inscription on a flyleaf. Big mistake!
Recently, for some reason, I decided to re-examine that flyleaf. Here’s what I read:
From Jests New and Old collected by W. Carew Hazlitt etc., ( Jarvis, London 1886). These are some of the better jokes from a list of 600 or so. Not exactly rolling in the aisles material but probably pretty rib-tickling in their day. Possibly in the hands of a comedian like Eddie Izzard, or Russell / Jo Brand or Chris Rock a few laughs could be extracted from them. They are no worse than some of the jokes to be found at the email gossip sheet Popbitch's Old Jokes Home every week.
Some years ago, says Richardson in his "Anecdotes of Painting," a gentleman came to me to invite me to his house: "I have," said he, "a picture of Rubens, and it is a rare good one. There is little H– the other day came to see it, and says it is a copy. If any one says so again, I'll break his head. Pray, Mr. Richardson, will you do me the favour to come, and give me your real opinion of it?"
Reynolds, the dramatist, observing to Martin the thinnes of the house at one of his own plays, added–"He supposed it was owing to the war." "No," replied the latter, "it is owing to the piece."