Thursday, 24 July 2014


THE SAVAGES OF NEW BRUNSWICK AND THEIR WIVES: THEY HAVE NO OTHER SERVANTS, SLAVES, OR ARTISANS.

More from Pierre Biard’s Relations of New France, 1616.
  • In Europe fathers supply dowries when their daughters marry. Here the suitor brings fine presents to the father…dogs, beavers, cooking vessels, axes, etc., depending on the status of the father and the beauty of his daughter.
  • The father then meets with his relatives to discuss the qualities of the suitor: Is he of a desirable age? Is he a good and active hunter? What about his race, standing, and valour?
  • If the suitor is accepted, they set the date of the wedding which is celebrated with a solemn tobacco ceremony and a banquet with speeches, dances, and songs.
Women do all the work, as their people have no other servants, slaves, or artisans.
  • They build huts and furnish them, look after the fire, collect wood and water, prepare and smoke the meat to preserve it… sew together the canoes and waterproof them, tan the hides, …make clothes and shoes for the whole family, go fishing and pull valiantly at the oars.
The natives accuse the French of poisoning them, but the principal reason for their illnesses and deaths is this:
  • When our ships arrive in the summer, they greedily devour an enormous amount of unfamiliar food over several weeks. They get drunk on wine or brandy, so that it is not surprising if they have very sore stomachs come fall. But this nation, like all the other American tribes, does not worry at all about the future. They enjoy the present and work only when absolutely necessary.

Saturday, 19 July 2014


THE SAVAGES OF NEW BRUNSWICK: RATHER LIBERAL AND IN NO WAY MALICIOUS.

When the Jesuit Pierre Biard visited what is now New Brunswick and Maine in 1616, he had this to say about the inhabitants:
  • The savages are by nature rather liberal and in no way malicious. They are intelligent, at least when assessing and evaluating things that can commonly be perceived. They are able to reason, make apt comparisons, and draw valid inferences.
  • They also have an excellent memory of concrete things. For example, they remember what they have seen, the characteristics of places they visited, the events they witnessed over the last twenty or thirty years.
  • But it is very diffiult for them to learn anything by heart. It is impossible to teach them a long monologue.
  • Neither men nor women have any facial hair.
  • At first they thought our hair, especially hair around the mouth, extremely ugly, but eventually they got used to it and no longer considered us terribly marred.
  • None of them has a fat belly, or a hunchback, or is crippled in any way. They have never heard of leprosy, gout, kidney stones, or madness. They notice and greatly mock anyone among us who has a physical defect, who is one-eyed or cross-eyed, or has a flat nose.
  • Although they live a wretched life and have no polity, no power, no literature, art or wealth, they are quite self-satisfied.
(Source: Pierre Biard, Relation de Nouvelle France, 1616. Image: douglashunter.ca)

MORE IN MY NEXT BLOG POST.

Thursday, 17 July 2014


THE BOOK OF MORMON – NO, I DON’T MEAN THE MUSICAL. I MEAN THE SATIRICAL.

Some years ago I was given a Mormon Bible, but it’s only now that I realize its relevance to my secular life. Let me quote you a few bits.

This one, I think, is about politicians:
And thus they were supported in their laziness…by the taxes put upon the people. Thus did the people labor exceedingly to support iniquity (Mosiah 11:6).

This may be about the Middle East and peace being short-lived under the best of circumstances:
They were favored by the Lord, and thus they were free from wars and contentions among themselves, yea, even for the space of four years (Alma 28:20).

I’m pretty sure this one is about self-publishing.
Thou shalt not covet thine own property, but impart it freely to the printing of the book.
Pay the debt you have contracted with the printer and release thyself from bondage (Doctrine and Covenants 19:26, 35).

This may help Al-Anon:
He built wine-presses and made wine in abundance. And therefore he became a wine-bibber.

(And, no, I didn’t make up the quotes)

 

 

Sunday, 13 July 2014


A MAN OF "PROFOUND DISSIMULATION": THE TRICKS OF POPE SIXTUS V.

Never had a person more craftily concealed his ambition than Cardinal Montalto (later Sixtus V). He combined a proud mind with profound dissimulation. At the conclave he smothered his vivacity of spirit and became an example of dull and blockish stupidity. He counterfeited so many diseases and infirmities of old age that it seemed he was stooping into his grave.

The other cardinals thought they had found the ideal candidate, a pope after their own heart, whom they could easily control. They began to reckon amongst themselves the great advantages they should make of a silly old coxcomb.

A vote was held, and as soon as Montalto saw that he had the needed majority, he leaped out of his seat, threw away his staff that had hitherto supported him instead of a crutch and began to stretch so that he appeared half as big again as he was before.

At the mass celebrating his elevation to the papacy, he roared out the Te Deum with a thundering voice. When Farnese heard him, he said: I perceive we have gotten a Pope who will make fools and asses of us.

The next day Montalto, now Sixtus V, gave a splendid banquet. Seeing the pope stir about busily, one of the cardinals commented: Your Holiness did not seem to have so much strength yesterday. The Pope smartly took him up and said: Yesterday I was not pope, today I am.

(Source: Anonymous pamphlet entitled The Intrigues of the Conclave at the Choosing of
 a Pope)

Thursday, 10 July 2014


THE INSIDE STORY: ELECTING POPE SIXTUS V, 1585

The Cardinals entered the conclave. Small apartments, or cells, had been erected in the long Gallery and hung with Purple Cloth.

The conclavists are generally the craftiest fellows that can be met with. To avoid any undue influence, even the dishes served are searched, lest there should be any letters concealed in them.

To become pope, a candidate must receive two-thirds of the vote, which is rarely the case.

An alternative way to elect a pope is “by access”. Each cardinal rising from his seat goes and makes a profound reverence to him whom he would have elected.

The method which makes the greatest noise and bustle is the way of Adoration, which is seldom put in practice but when some young and hot headed Cardinals resolve to become masters of the election. They plot among themselves, agree on one man, and fall down before him on their knees.

Others follow suit, unwilling to stand out and incur the displeasure of him who may be elected without them.

The pope so chosen is led to the Sacristy, where he is clothed in pontifical robes and seated at the altar. The cardinals approach in order to kiss his feet, hands, and mouth. This done, the doors of the conclave are opened, and the pope shows himself to the people and blesses them.

That is the prescribed method, but he that desires a true specimen of all the little arts and tricks whereby the candidates procure votes, should read the following account…[TO BE CONTINUED IN MY NEXT BLOG POST].

(Source: Anonymous pamphlet entitled The Intrigues of the Conclave at the Choosing of a Pope)