The Fury of the Harridans (and Other Spiteful Mutants)

“Scholastic harridans that thrash,
Should tarred and feathered be!
And ride face-tailward on an ass,
For all the world to see!”

J. B. McCaul, “The School Girl’s Dream” (1880)

When William Congreve wrote that “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” he meant no fury like a woman who has been, as we nowadays say, “dumped” and before perchance “pumped.” The modern word “dumped” has the merit of expressing the subjective experience of being used and discarded; but the old word “scorned” takes us closer to the cause of female fury.  The word scorn comes from the old German skern, which means mockery, jest and sport, so that a woman scorned is a woman aware that that fate, or folly, or perfidy has made her look like a fool.

As I yesterday scanned the photographs of women outdoing Hell in their fury against the annulment of the Roe v. Wade diktat, I was powerfully impressed by the thought that these harridans were in several ways ridiculous, and in several ways worthy of scorn. Continue reading

The Democracy Disease

“Bad is the dominion of the multitude”

Homer, Illiad 2.204.

Robert Bisset (1759-1805) was a Scottish writer who abhorred democracy and earned his conservative chops as the first biographer of Edmund Burke.  My epigraph appears on the title page of Bisset’s Sketch of Democracy (1794), and it very neatly epitomizes the substance of that dour and didactic book.  Bisset’s Sketch describes the disastrous career of democracy in the ancient world, and tends to the general conclusion that popular government is a cancer to great nations.  In the course of his discussion of the democratic cancer that destroyed the Roman republic, for instance, Bisset sets down this sobering line. Continue reading

An Old Fashioned Juneteenth

As every American is now obliged to honor “Juneteenth” as a national holiday, I have made it my observance to annually write a post on the history of this secular feast.  As I have explained before (here and here), “Juneteenth” was much more commonly known as Emancipation Day, and it was historically celebrated by Texas blacks much like the Fourth of July.  I have this year copied the newspaper report of the Emancipation Day celebration in Brenham, seat of Washington County, Texas, in 1884.  This was nineteen years after emancipation and the celebration was typical of that time.  I have inserted what I hope are elucidating remarks. Continue reading

Tobogganing Down the Slippery Slope of Sexual Entertainment

“A great deal of nonsense has been written of late about what is rather absurdly termed ‘sex mania.’  Some benevolent persons who take an interest in literature appear to think a solemn duty has been imposed on them to protect the young, the innocent, and even the respectable middle-aged from the moral ravages of ‘the new fiction’ . . .” 

D. F. Hannigan, “Sex in Fiction,” The Westminster Review (1895)

“Drag storytellers, and the libraries and schools that support them, are advancing a love of diversity, personal expression, and literacy that is core to what our city embraces.”

Eric Adams, Mayor of New York City, Tweet (June 16, 2022)

“You know what’s not a problem for kids who are seeking a good education?  Drag queens . . . . I say this.  A drag queen for every school!” 

Dana Nessel, Attorney General of Michigan, The Detroit News (June 15, 2022)

There is no slope more slippery than the slippery slope of sexual entertainment.   There is no history more replete with scoffing at slippery slopes than the history of sexual entertainment.   The author of my first epigraph, D. F. Hannigan, was the translator of Flaubert’s Temptations of St. Anthony (1874), a prose poem that tells of a desert night during which St. Anthony teetered on the brink of several very slippery slopes.  What follows is a suggestive passage from Hannigan’s translation of St. Anthony’s temptation by the Queen of Sheba, which took place atop the slippery slope of sexual entertainment. Continue reading

At or Near the Bottom of the Rabbit Hole

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”

Ephesians 6:12.

In a comment on my latest post, Bruce Charlton says that “secular / non-religious explanations” are a partial, and therefore duping, explanations of the great conspiracy.  They enter but do not reach the bottom of “the rabbit hole.”  I agree and cite St. Paul’s memorable line from Ephesians.  Here I will venture some remarks upon its meaning. Continue reading

Dupes Down a Rabbit Hole

“I have said, and said it calmly, that this is the curiousest world I ever see in my life.  And I shan’t take it back.  I hain’t one to whiffle round and dispute myself.  I made the statement cool and firm, and shall stand by it.” 

Marietta Holly, My Wayward Pardner (1880)

“It was ordained that an age, a dupe to the frantic rage of impiety substituted to reason, a dupe to the oaths of hatred and the wish of crushing all religion, mistaken for toleration . . . to ignorance for science, to depravity for virtue, a dupe in short to all the intrigues and plots of the most profound wickedness mistaken for the proceedings and means of wisdom; it was ordained, I say, that this Age of Philosophy should also be a dupe to the plots of the rebellious Sophisters, mistaken for the love of society and the basis of public happiness.”

 Abbé Barruel, Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism (1799)

Readers of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland know that those who go “down a rabbit hole” find the familiar world growing “curiouser and curiouser.”  Indeed, the farther they venture into the rabbit hole, the more likely they begin to say, and say it in a way from which they can never after “whiffle round” and dispute, “that this is the curiousest world I ever see in my life.” Continue reading

The Talkative Ones

L’s the loquacious variety
Who is found in all sorts of society.
He drinks in the sound
Of his own voice till drown’d
In a species of self-inebreity.

Oliver Herford, A Little Book of Bores (1906)

It is often said that a man has fallen in love with the sound of his own voice, but this charge strictly applies only to those men who are content to soliloquize in the wilderness, or to preach, like St. Francis, to the birds.  What a man falls in love with is, more often, the conceit that others love the sound of his voice even more than he loves it himself.  I have read, and have no difficulty believing, that a man is especially attracted to a woman who is slightly hard of hearing because he mistakes her straining after his words for a keen interest in what he has to say.  I know from a long and intimate connection with the trade of professoring, that a captive audience is bliss, but that a captive and apparently captivated audience is very heaven. Continue reading

Be Silently Sad and Ashamed—It’s All That We Can Do

“Terence, this is stupid stuff: 
You eat your victuals fast enough; 
There can’t be much amiss, ‘tis clear, 
To see the rate you drink your beer.”

A.E. Houseman, “Terrence, This is Stupid Stuff” (1896)

There are, today, a few hundred people in Uvalde who have raw holes in their hearts.  And there are, in Uvalde, the United States, and around the world, a vast multitude who are cheerfully emoting grief without feeling actual pain.  I suppose one cannot blame them, since emotions are contagious and our mass media is a super-spreader of vicarious horror.  But still, one suspects that very little sleep has been lost by the public weepers in this great show of hypocritical grief.  Like Terence in Houseman’s poem, they moan as they wolf their chow, and groan as they guzzle their beer. Continue reading

An Ethnological Menagerie in Which Natives are Made and Not Born

“The test of life in a nation would be its power of transforming immigrants into patriots.  Only a dead nation is afraid of foreigners.” 

Israel Zangwill, Without Prejudice (1896)†

“The American does not consider little matters of descent, although by this time he ought to know all about ‘damnable heredity.’”

Rudyard Kipling, American Notes (1899)††

Israel Zangwill gave us the metaphor of the “melting pot,” although we have ourselves to blame for the myth.  The myth is rooted in our conceited belief that America is the last word in human perfection, that there are multitudes who covet our superior way of life, and that we can transform these multitudes into Americans if we simply expose them to the powerful influence of our glorious precepts and shining examples.

Continue reading

An Enacted Curse With Which He Damned the World

“The spirit that I have called Satanism, the spirit of unmixed hatred towards the existing World Order . . . is perhaps more rife today than it has been for over a thousand years.” 

Gilbert Murray, Satanism and the World Order (1920)

If you follow the bracing ruminations of Bruce Charlton, you are familiar with his notion that the world has crossed the hateful river and entered the stygian blackness of Sorathic evil.  Sorathic denotes that which is of Sorath, the spirit of opposition and negation in Zoroastrian theogony.  Charlton tells us that Sorathic evil hates and destroys that which is good, and that it does this not in spite of its goodness, but precisely because it is good. Continue reading