Saturday, July 26, 2014

Anecdotes of A Few Heroic Women of History


Countess de St. Belmont.—When M. de St. Belmont, who defended a feeble fortress against the arms of Louis XIV., was taken prisoner, his wife, the Comtesse de St. Belmont, who was of a most heroic disposition, still remained upon the estates to take care of them. An officer of cavalry having taken up his quarters there without invitation, Madame de St. Belmont sent him a very civil letter of complaint on his ill behaviour, which he treated with contempt. Piqued at this, she resolved he should give her satisfaction, and sent him a challenge, which she signed "Le Chevalier de St. Belmont." The officer accepted it, and repaired to the place appointed. Madame de St. Belmont met him, dressed in men's clothes. They immediately drew their swords, and the heroine had the advantage of him; when, after disarming him, she said, with a gracious smile, "You thought, sir, I doubt not, that you were fighting with the Chevalier de St. Belmont; it is, however, Madame de St. Belmont, who returns you your sword, and begs you in future to pay more regard to the requests of ladies." She then left him, covered with shame and confusion.

French Peasant Girl.—One evening early in 1858, Melanie Robert, daughter of a small farmer, near Corbeil was proceeding to Essonnes, when a man armed with a stout stick suddenly presented himself, and summoned her to give up her money. Pretending to be greatly alarmed, she hastily searched her pocket, and collecting some small pieces of coin held them out to the man, who without distrust approached to take them. But the moment he took the money, Melanie made a sudden snatch at the stick, and wresting it from his hand, dealt him so violent a blow with it across the head that she felled him to the ground. She then gave him a sound thrashing, and, in spite of his resistance, forced him to accompany her to the office of the commissary of police, by whom he was committed for trial.

Gallant Daughter.—Sir John Cochrane, who was engaged in Argyle's rebellion against James II., was taken prisoner, after a desperate resistance, and condemned to be executed. His daughter, having notice that the death-warrant was expected from London, attired herself in men's clothes, and twice attacked and robbed the mails between Belford and Berwick. The execution was by this means delayed, till Sir John Cochrane's father, the Earl of Dundonald, succeeded in making interest with the king for his release.

A Gamekeeper's Daughter.—The Gazette of Augsburg for January, 1820, contained a singular account of the heroism and presence of mind displayed by the daughter of a gamekeeper, residing in a solitary house near Welheim. Her father and the rest of the family had gone to church, when there appeared at the door an old man apparently half dead with cold. Feeling for his situation, she let him in, and went into the kitchen to prepare him some soup. Through a window which communicated from the kitchen to the room in which she had left him, she perceived that he had dropped the beard he wore when he entered; that he now appeared a robust man; and that he was pacing the chamber with a poignard in his hand. Finding no mode of escape, she armed herself with a chopper in one hand and the boiling soup in the other, and entering the room where he was, first threw the soup in his face, and then struck him a blow with the hatchet on his neck, which brought him to the ground senseless. At this moment a fresh knock at the door occasioned her to look out of an upper window, when she saw a strange hunter, who demanded admittance, and on her refusal, threatened to break open the door. She immediately got her father's gun, and as he was proceeding to put his threat in execution, she shot him through the right shoulder, on which he made his way back to the forest. Half an hour after a third person came, and asked after an old man who must have passed that way. She said she knew nothing of him; and after useless endeavours to make her open the door, he also proceeded to break it in, when she shot him dead on the spot. The excitement of her courage being now at an end, her spirits began to sink, and she fired shots, and screamed from the windows, until some gendarmes were attracted to the house; but nothing would induce her to open the door until the return of her father from church.

 The Ladies of Beauvais.—Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, laid siege to the City of Beauvais in the year 1472. After investing it closely for twenty-one days, his troops made a general assault, and were on the point of carrying the place, when a band of women, headed by a lady of the name of Jeanne Hachette, rushing to the walls, opposed such a resistance, with showers of stones, and other missiles, that the tide of fortune was instantaneously turned. A Burgundian officer, who attempted to plant the duke's standard on the walls, was fiercely attacked by Jeanne Hachette, who, snatching the standard from his hands, threw him headlong over the wall. The assailants, in short, were completely repulsed; nor was the distaff, once thrown aside, resumed, till the ladies of Beauvais had forced the Duke of Burgundy to retire in shame from their walls. In memory of this gallant achievement, the Municipality of Beauvais ordered a general procession of the inhabitants to take place every year, on the 10th of July, the day on which the siege was raised, in which the ladies were to have the privilege of preceding the men. As long as Jeanne Hachette lived, she marched in this annual procession, at the head of the women, bearing the standard which she had captured from the Burgundian officer; and at her death this standard was deposited in the church of the Dominicans, and a portrait of the heroine placed in the Town-Hall of Beauvais.

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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, June 8, 2014

Enter to win 1 of 2 great prizes. Winner's Choice!

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June Kindle Fire  
Win a Kindle Fire HDX, Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash ($229 value)
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  Or $229 Amazon.com Gift Card (International)
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  June Sponsors I Am A Reader Feed Your Reader Bella Street's Weird Romance Bonnie Blythe's Pure Romance Lori's Reading Corner Author M.A. George CBY Book Club Fairiechick's Fantasy Book Reader Christian Bookmobile Author Kimber Leigh Wheaton Kindle and Me Author Inger Iversen A. Wrighton, Author Author Kim Cresswell-Trapped Inside My Head The YA Buzz Jenna Does Books Addicted Readers The (Mis)Adventures of a Twenty-Something year Old Girl BookHounds YA Every Free Chance Book Reviews Author Wendi Sotis Taylor Dean Books Heather Gray (Author) Author Cindy C Bennett More Than a Review The Reporter and The Girl Author Anna Kyss Owl Always Be Reading Laurie Here Romance Under Fire Author Jennifer Laurens BookReviewsAndGiveaways Paranormal book Club (PBC) The Late Bloomers Book Blog Reviews from a Bookworm Jennifer Faye, Author Free Bookster Making it Happen Extaordinaryreads MyLadyWeb: Women's History & Women Authors Author Claudia Burgoa Crystal Donahue, Author SMIBookClub Where The Broken Lie by Derek Rempfer Author Rosanne Rivers YA Author - Ellisa Barr Lynda Raymond Brenda Maxfield Fic Central Author Barbara Silkstone Aubrey Wynne: Historical Romance Author Georgina Young-Ellis   Sign up to sponsor the next Kindle Giveaway here: http://www.iamareader.com/category/kindle-giveaway-sign-ups   Giveaway Details 1 winner will receive their choice of an all new Kindle Fire 7" HDX (US Only - $229 value), $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash (International). There is a second separate giveaway for bloggers who post this giveaway on their blog. See details in the rafflecopter on how to enter to win the 2nd Kindle Fire HDX 7", $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash. Ends 7/1/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway  

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, March 1, 2014

THE UNPROTECTED FEMALE TOURIST IN HISTORICAL TIMES

The unprotected female tourist is generally a much stronger-minded individual than the solitary male traveler, and has a higher purpose, a better courage, and a greater capacity for meeting and conquering the difficulties of the road. The poor fellow, indeed, whose solitary journey we described the other day, had no purpose, unless a vague idea of going where amusement would come to him, rather than of seeking it by any effort of his own, may be called a purpose; but the unprotected female knows what she is about; she has something to do and she does it; she has a defined plan from which nothing moves her; the discomfort of a day will not turn her aside; nor will she admit of any social overtures till she has formed a judgment of their value, and has fair reason to believe that she will receive at any rate as much as she gives. The unprotected female, as she knows and uses the strength of her weakness, so does she perceive and measure the weakness of her strength. She cannot be impetuous, and impulsive, and kitten-like, as may girls who can retreat at once behind their mother's crinoline or under their father's umbrella, should a cloud be seen in the distance or the need for shelter be felt.
How or under what influences the unprotected female commences her tour, who can tell? It will usually be found, if inquiry be made as to her family, that she has a brother, or a father, or a mother; that she need not be an unprotected female tourist, had she not elected that line as the best for her pleasure or her profit. She is seldom very young;—but neither is she very old. The lady whose age would admit of her traveling alone without remark rarely chooses to do so; and when she does, she is not the lady whom we all know as the unprotected female. The unprotected female must be pretty, or must at least possess feminine graces which stand in lieu of prettiness, and which can put forward a just and admitted claim for personal admiration. She is not rich, and travels generally with economy; but she is rarely brought to a shift for money, and her economies conceal themselves gracefully and successfully. She learns the value of every franc, of every thaler, of every zwansiger as she progresses, and gets more change out of her sovereigns than any Englishman will do. She allows herself but few self-indulgences, and controls her appetites.


She can enjoy a good dinner as well as her brother could do; but she can go without her dinner with a courageous persistence of which her brother knows nothing. She never pays through the nose in order that people indifferent to her may think her great or generous, though she pays always sufficient to escape unsatisfactory noises and to prevent unpleasant demands. Her dress is quiet and yet attractive; her clothes fit her well; and if, as one is prone to suspect, they are in great part the work of her own hand, she must be an industrious woman, able to go to her needle at night after the heat and dust of the day are over. Her gloves are never worn at the finger-ends; her hat is never shapeless, nor are her ribbons ever soiled; the folds of her not too redundant drapery are never misarranged, confused, or angular. She never indulges in bright colors, and is always the same, and always neat; and they who know her best believe that if she were called out of her room by fire in the middle of the night, she would come forth calm, in becoming apparel, and ready to take an active part in the emergency without any infringement on feminine propriety.

She is never forward, nor is she ever bashful. A bashful woman could not play her game, and a forward woman immediately encounters sorrow when she attempts to play it. She can decline all overtures of acquaintanceship without giving offense, and she can glide into intimacies without any apparent effort. She can speak French with fluency and with much more than average accuracy, and probably knows something of German and Italian. Without such accomplishments as these let no woman undertake the part of an unprotected female tourist. She can converse on almost any subject; and, if called on to do so, can converse without any subject. As she becomes experienced in her vocation she learns and remembers all the routes of traveling. She is acquainted with and can explain all galleries, cathedrals, and palaces. She knows the genealogies of the reigning kings, and hardly loses herself among German dukes. She understands politics, and has her opinion about the Emperor, the King of Prussia, and the Pope. And she can live with people who know much more than herself, or much less, without betraying the difference between herself and them. She can be gay with the gay, and enjoy that; or dull with the dull, and seem to enjoy that. What man as he travels learns so much, works so hard, uses so much mental power, takes so much trouble in all things, as she does? She is never impatient, never exacting, never cross, never conquered, never triumphant, never humble, never boastful, never ill, never in want of assistance. If she fall into difficulties she escapes from them without a complaint. If she be ill-used she bears it without a murmur; if disappointed,—as must so often be the case with her,—she endures her cross and begins again with admirable assiduity. Yet she is only an unprotected female, and they who meet her on her travels are too apt to declare that she is an old soldier.

Unprotected female tourists, such as I have described, are not very numerous; but there are enough of them to form a class by themselves. From year to year, as we make our autumn excursions, we see perhaps one of them, and perhaps a second. We meet the same lady two or three times, making with her a pleasant acquaintance, and then passing on. The farther we go afield the more likely we are to encounter her. She is always to be met with on the Nile; she is quite at home at Constantinople; she goes frequently to Spain; you will probably find her in Central America; but her head-quarters are perhaps at Jerusalem. She prefers the saddle to any other mode of travelling, and can sit on horseback for any number of hours without flinching. For myself, I have always liked the company of the unprotected female, and have generally felt something like the disruption of a tender friendship when circumstances have torn me from her.

But why is she what she is? As to the people that one ordinarily meets when travelling, no one stops to inquire why they are what they are. Mr. and Mrs. Thompson have come together, naturally enough; and, naturally enough, there are three or four Miss Thompsons. And when young Mr. Thompson turns up alone, no one thinks very much about him. But one is driven to think why Miss Thompson is there at Cairo all by herself. You go to the Pyramids with her, and you find her to be very pleasant. She sits upon her donkey as though she had been born sitting on a donkey; and through dust and heat and fleas and Arabs she makes herself agreeable as though nothing were amiss with her. You find yourself talking to her of your mother, your sister, or your friend,—but not of your wife or sweetheart. But of herself, excepting as regards her life at Cairo, she says nothing to you. You ask yourself many questions about her.

Who was her father? who was her mother? Had she a sister? had she a brother? Or was there a dearer one still, and a nearer one Yet than all other?
 
Why is she alone? and how is it possible that a girl whose dress fits her so nicely should not  have "a nearer one and dearer one yet than all other?"

But you may take it for granted that she has not; or if she has, that he is no better than he should be;—that his nature is such as to have driven her to think solitude better than his company. Love of independence has probably made the unprotected female tourist what she is;—that and the early acquired knowledge that such independence in a woman requires very special training. She has probably said to herself that she would rise above the weakness of her sex,—driven, perhaps, to that resolve by some special grief which, as a woman, she has incurred. She is something of a Bohemian, but a Bohemian with a regret that Bohemianism should be necessary to her. She will not be hindered by her petticoats from seeing what men see, and from enjoying that which Nature seems to bring within a man's reach so easily, but which is so difficult to a woman. That there might be something more blessed than that independence she is ready enough to admit to herself. Where is the woman that does not admit it? But she will not admit that a woman should live for that hope alone; and therefore she is riding with you to the Pyramids,—others of course accompanying you,—and talking to you with that studied ease which is intended to show that, though she is an unprotected female, she knows what she is about, and can enjoy herself without any fear of you, or of Mrs. Grundy. You find her to be very clever, and then think her to be very pretty; and if,—which may probably be the case,—you are in such matters a fool, you say a word or two more than you ought to do, and the unprotected female shows you that she can protect herself.

But Miss Thompson is wrong for all this, and I think it will be admitted that I have made the best of Miss Thompson's case. The line which she has taken up is one which it is impossible that a woman should follow with ultimate satisfaction. She cannot unsex herself or rid herself of the feeling that admiration is accorded to her as a pretty woman. She has probably intended,—honestly intended,—to be quit of that feeling, and to move about the world as though, for her, men and women were all the same, as though no more flirting were possible, and love-making were a thing simply good to be read of in novels. But if so, why has she been so careful with her gloves, and her hat, and all her little feminine belongings? It has been impossible to her not to be a woman. The idea and remembrance of her womanly charms have always been there, always present to her mind. Unmarried men are to her possible lovers and possible husbands,—as she is also a possible wife to any unmarried man,—and also a possible love. Though she may have devoted herself to celibacy with her hand on the altar, she cannot banish from her bosom the idea which, despite herself, almost forms itself into a hope. We will not ask as to her past life; but  for the future she will be what she is,—only till the chance comes to her of being something better. It is that free life which she leads,—which she leads in all innocency,—which makes it impossible for her to be true to the resolution she has made for herself. Such a woman cannot talk to men without a consciousness that intimacy may lead to love, or the pretence of love, or the dangers of love. Nor, it may be said, can any unmarried woman do so. And therefore it is that they do not go about the world unprotected, either at home or abroad. Therefore it is that the retreat behind mamma's ample folds or beneath papa's umbrella is considered to be so salutary.

You, my friend, with your quick, impulsive, and, allow me to say, meaningless expression of admiration, received simply the rebuke which you deserved. Then there was an end of that, and Miss Thompson, being somewhat used to such misadventures, thought but little of it afterwards. She has to do those things when the necessity comes upon her. But it does happen, sometimes, that the unprotected female,—who has a heart, though other women will say that she has none,—is touched, and listens, and hopes, and at last almost thinks that she has found out her mistake. The cold exterior glaze of the woman is pricked through, and there comes a scratch upon the stuff beneath. A tone in her voice will quaver as though everything were not easy with her. She will forget for the moment her prudence, and the usual precautions of her life, and will dream of retiring within the ordinary pale of womanhood. She will think that to cease to be an unprotected female may be sweet, and for a while she will be soft, and weak, and wavering. But with unprotected females such ideas have to pass away very fleetly. I am afraid it must be said that let a woman once be an unprotected female, so she must remain to the end. Who knows the man that has taken an unprotected female to his bosom and made her the mistress of his home, and the chief priestess of his household gods? And if any man have done so, what have his friends said of him and his adventure?

And so the unprotected female goes on wandering still farther afield, increasing in cleverness every year, and ever acquiring new knowledge; but increasing also in hardness, and in that glaze of which I have spoken, till at last one is almost driven to confess, when one's wife and daughters declare her to be an old soldier, that one's wife and daughters are not in justice liable to contradiction.

An Essay by Anthony Trollope


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, February 1, 2014

MyLadyWeb Presents the February 2014 Kindle Fire HDX Giveaway!

February Kindle Fire 
Win a Kindle Fire HDX, Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash ($229 value)   This is a joint AUTHOR & BLOGGER GIVEAWAY EVENT! Bloggers & Authors have joined together and each chipped in a little money towards a Kindle Fire HDX 7".
The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HDX (US Only - $229 Value)
  Or $229 Amazon.com Gift Card (International)
  Or $229 in Paypal Cash (International)
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  1. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
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Ends 2/28/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway  Copyright © 2014 I Am A Reader, Not A Writer, All rights reserved.

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 11, 2014

MyLadyWeb Presents the January 2014 Kindle Fire HDX Giveaway

January Kindle   
Win a Kindle Fire HDX, Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash ($229 value)   This is a joint AUTHOR & BLOGGER GIVEAWAY EVENT! Bloggers & Authors have joined together and each chipped in a little money towards a Kindle Fire HDX 7".
The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HDX (US Only - $229 Value)
  Or $229 Amazon.com Gift Card (International)
  Or $229 in Paypal Cash (International)
      January Sponsors
  1. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
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  3. The (Mis)Adventures of a Twenty-Something Year Old Girl
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  6. NESSAROX
  7. Author Carol Davis Luce
  8. The Reporter and the Girl
  9. Author David Pandolf
  10. Bella Street Writes
  11. Author Bonnie Blythe
  12. Author Elizabeth Seckman
  13. MyLadyWeb: Women's History and Women Authors
  14. Just One More Chapter
  15. Author Donna Fasano
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  29. Barb's Wire - eBooks & More
  30. Author Jennifer Gilby Roberts
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  33. Author Kim Cresswell
  34. Mother Daughter Book Reviews
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  46. Button-the-Push Books and Giveaways
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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 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tale Spins A Trilogy of Alternative Fairytales and Retellings by Michael Mullin

tale spins banner
tale spinsTale Spins A trilogy of alternative fairytales and retellings. Discover the real Snow White story through the eyes of Creepy, the unknown 8th dwarf! Meet a teen princess who hires "The Frog Prince" witch to get revenge on a Mean Girl at school! And learn how the giant, boy thief and magic beans tale truly went down!  
   Praise for Tale Spins Not usually enamoured of either re-tellings or poetry I was totally taken aback by just how much I relished this trilogy of alternative fairytales and re-tellings aimed at the Young Adult market. ~Tracy (Goodreads) TaleSpins was like walking into a vintage store and finding a true treasure. This book takes the fairytales we all grew up on and gives them an interesting and modernized version that I enjoyed. ~Rose (Goodreads)

mike mullin
   Author Michael Mullin Michael Mullin is a native New Englander living in Pasadena. He is the author of TaleSpins, a trilogy of alternative fairy tales and retellings for YA readers. TaleSpins stories (in the 1-book collection) are "8: The Previously Untold Story of the Previously Unknown 8th Dwarf"; "The Plight and Plot of Princess Penny"; and "Jack'd". Michael is also the co-author of the successful "Larry Gets Lost" children's book series. His screenplay "Zooing Time" was recognized by the WGA's Written By magazine. Before all this writing, he taught preschool and college, two positions he found disconcertingly similar. 


  Tour Giveaways Giveaway #1 - Open to US only
Mike Mullin Giveaway

Giveaway #2 $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 1/21/14 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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, January 3, 2014

Eve Hallows and the Book of Shivers $50.00 Book Blast and Tour


eve hallows shiversEVE HALLOWS AND THE BOOK OF SHIVERS (BOOK 3)
So far, Eve’s summer vacation has been uneventful, but when her grandparents—traveling all the way from the monster world known as Gravesville—appear at her doorstep, she learns that the URNS Director has gone missing. Worse, a new director, bent on destroying humans, has taken over URNS.

Eve and her family are no longer safe in the human world, and as they race to escape this new threat, Eve stumbles into a trap, which forces her back to Gravesville along with her family and friends. But once there, everything goes adorably wrong, and her best chance to get out of this mess is to seek out The Book of Shivers and the elusive author Sedrick Creach—the only creature who knows the secrets of the Nightmare Books. Unfortunately for Eve, searching for Sedrick and the next book in the series will reveal uncomfortable details about her own murky past.

Once again, Eve and her friends find themselves on an incredible adventure—one that involves underground battles with bloodthirsty creatures, a lightning-fueled train, and some unexpected new allies.

Hilarious and bone-chilling, this third book continues the story of an unlikely hero trying to save not one, but two worlds … This time around, though, Eve’s not sure she can even save herself.

Info on books 1 & 2 found here.

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 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Prince Henry's Book of Mythological Beasts



he many thousands who have laughed over the inimitable Artemus Ward's essays in natural history, such as "The elephant has four legs—one on each corner; he eats hay and cakes," might little suspect the analogy which exists between these humorous trifles and the serious works of the zoological pundits of the seventeenth century. If anything, far greater is the humour to be extracted from the older writers; especially when we recollect that their books and treatises on animal creation were regarded with infinite respect—veneration even—by young and old, wise and unwise, noble and plebeian, who diligently consulted them.

Unhappily, most of these productions are in Latin, and even Artemus Ward in Latin would probably lose the fine savour of merriment by which his good things are distinguished unless the translator relied upon puns, as they do in the Westminster plays. But the pictures in Aldrovandus, in Albertus Magnus, in Johannes Jonstonus, and in Conrad Gesner speak—shall we not rather say, shriek?—for themselves; and we were recently fortunate in coming across a large volume in which the best in all these books is gathered together, with English letterpress, for the benefit of a young English prince who lived and died early in the seventeenth century. It was in 1607 that Edward Topsell published his version of "Four-footed Beastes." Gesner's chef d'œuvre and those of the other writers named had been on the bookshelves for many years.

The volume in question belonged to the eldest son and heir of James I., and has his coat of arms on the cover. Next, it enjoys the distinction of having some of the plates coloured by the Royal hand, its owner being then in his thirteenth year. But, best of all, its pictures and letterpress describe for us beyond the possibility of error, and in the clearest and most perspicuous way, the wonderful quadrupeds which flourished on the face of the earth in Prince Henry's boyhood.

Beside this curious volume how tame are even the most interesting of modern natural history books! Let us begin with the king of beasts.

"Lyons bones have no marrow in them and are so hard that they will strike fire. Their neck is made of one stiffe bone, without any vertebras. They have five claws on the hinder feet and the balls of their eyes are black. Lyons eat but once in two days and drink in like manner. Formerly in England a Lyon could tell noble blood from base."

Can it be that this virtue was confined merely to the lions caged in the Heralds' College? Our Beast Booke goes on to inform us that in certain districts lions were killed, not with spears or cannon-balls, but "with the powder of decayed fish." From whence may we not have a faint glimmering of the reason why Jamrach's was originally situated so much nearer to Billingsgate Market than to Piccadilly?
 "THERE IS A VARIETY OF LYON WITH HUMAN FACES."
"There is a variety of Lyon with human faces. As for the rest, the taile of a Lyon is very long, which they shake oftentimes, and by beating their sides therewith they provoke themselves to fight. The nether part of this taile is full of hairs and gristles, and some are of opinion that there is therein a little sting wherewithall the Lyon pricketh itselfe."

"The Lamia is a wild Beast, having several parts outwardly resembling an Oxe and inwardly a mule. The Lamia has a woman's face and very beautifull, also very large and comely shapes such as cannot be imitated by the art of any painter, having a very excellent colour in their fore-parts without wings, and no other voice but hissing like Dragons; but they are the swiftest of foot of all earthly beasts, so as none can escape them by running."
 "THE LAMIA HAS A WOMAN'S FACE AND VERY BEAUTIFULL."

The chief prey of the Lamia was, it appears, members of the human species, preferably males. By its passing beauty (or, to judge by the pictorial illustration, one would say rather by its amazing novelty) it would entice men, and when they had "come neare, devoure and kill them." In fact, these lamias were so inordinately fond of their favourite refreshment that in one district "a certain crooked place in Libia neare the Sea-shore full of sand was like to a sandy Sea and all the neighbor places thereunto are deserts." A painful and humiliating lack of men has often been noticed at our modern seaside resorts.

"The hinder parts of this beast," concludes our author, "are like unto a goate, his fore-legs like a Beares and his body scaled all over like a Dragon."

Next is a contemporary picture of a Tiger.

And now we come to the Wolf. His custom in those halcyon days of natural history was, as now, to go in troops. But we read: "Their necks are pressed together, so that they cannot stir it, to look about, but they must move their whole bodies. They fall upon their prey, devouring hair, bones and all. When they are to fight in great herds they fill their bellies with earth." But this is as nothing. "When they are to pass over Rivers, they joyn tails; loaded with that weight they are not easily thrown down and the floods can hardly carry them away, being joined together. The breath of a Wolf is so fiery, that it will melt and consume the hardest bone in his stomack."
 A TIGER.

We have all of us heard of the Harpy. Below is a likeness of one that speaks for itself.
Lizards are always interesting. "There was a lizzard 8 cubits long brought to Rome from Ætheopia by the command of a Cardinal of Lisbon and the mouth of it was so wide that a child might be put into it.... Put alive into a new earthen vessel and boyle'd with 3 Sextaryes of Wine and one Cyathus, it is excellent food for one sick of the Pthisick, if he drink of it in the morning fasting."

A HARPY.
We must not suppose that this operation would kill the lizard; the difficulty would be how to procure a vessel to stew so large a lizard. Lizard-pots are made much smaller nowadays. We dare say that the worthy Mrs. Beeton, in her most ingenious moments, never dreamt of one above four, or at most six, cubits deep.

Writers of our own time who have never gone in for a course of logic rarely condescend to complete perspicuity. They take things too often for granted. This is not old Topsell's way. "The Arabian sheep have a very broad tail," he says, "and the fatter it is the thicker it will be." We learn, too, what we should never have suspected had the author not plainly stated it, that some tails "have been seen above 150lbs. in weight." Albertus Magnus saw "a Ram that had 4 great Horns growing on his head and two long ones on his legges, that were like to Goat's Horns."

Here are some other gems from our Beast Booke:—

"Subus is an amphibion, with two Horns: he follows shoals of fish swimming in the Sea, Lobsters, Pagri, and Oculatae, are fishes that love him; but he cares for none of their love, but makes them all his prey.

THE SPHINX OR SPHINGA.
"The Sphinx or Sphinga is of the kinde of Apes, having his body rough like Apes, having the upper part like a woman and their visage much like them. The voice very like a man's, but not articular, sounding as if one did speak hastily or with sorrow. Their haire browne or swarthy colour. They are bred in India and Ethyopia. The true Sphinx is of a fierce though a tameable nature and if a man do first of all perceive or discerne of these natural Sphinges, before the beast discerne or perceive the man, he shall be safe; but if the beast first descrie the man, then is it mortal to the man.
 THE MANTICHORA.
"The Mantichora is bred among the Indians, having a treble row of teeth beneathe and above, whose greatnesse, roughnesse and feete are like a Lyons, his face and ears like unto a mans, his eyes grey and collour red, his taile like the taile of a scorpion of the earth, armed with a sting, casting forth sharp pointed quills, his voice like the voice of a small trumpet or pipe, being in course as swift as a Hart."

Then follows further description of the Mantichora. This singular combination of lion, man, scorpion, and porcupine was implicitly believed in by all the natural history writers up to Goldsmith's day, and we are not sure that that pleasing but gullible scribe did not, privately at least, accord its existence full credence.

Leigh Hunt, in his Autobiography, describes the extraordinary effect which a sight of this beast had upon him when he encountered it in an old folio during his childhood. The Mantichora, he says, "unspeakably shocked me. It had the head of a man, grinning with rows of teeth, and the body of a wild beast, brandishing a tail armed with stings. It was sometimes called by the ancients Martichora. But I did not know that. I took the word to be a horrible compound of man and tiger. The beast figures in Pliny and the old travellers. Appolonius takes a fearful joy in describing him. 'Mantichora,' says old Morell—'bestia horrenda'—'a brute fit to give one the horrors.' The possibility of such creatures being pursued never occurred to me. Alexander, I thought, might have been encountered while crossing the Granicus, and elephants might be driven into the sea, but how could anyone face a beast with a man's head?" Leigh Hunt goes on to describe how the Mantichora impressed his whole childhood. Doubtless the sensations of the eighteenth-century child were the same felt by the early seventeenth century Prince Henry. The Mantichora was the bête noire of the Royal nursery, we may depend upon it.
Scarcely less dreadful was the Collogruis, whose picture is given on the next page.

How many of us have heard of the Colus?

"There is," we read, "among the Scithians and Sarmatians a foure-footed wild beast called Colus, being in quantitie and stature betwixt a Ramnie and a Hart and dusky white coloured, but the young ones yellow." The real peculiarity of the Colus, which makes every true lover of quadrupeds regret its extinction, is described as follows: "Her manner is to drinke by the holes in her nostrils, whereby she snuffeth up aboundance of water and carrieth it in her head, so that she will live in dry pastures remote from all moisture and great season, quenching her thirst by that cisterne in her head." Imagination conjures up a huge drove of Colii, blissfully encamped in the midst of the Sahara, astonishing the passing Bedouins by their sagacity and the amazing cisterns in their craniums. There was no use trying to capture them, so fleet and nimble were they, unless, indeed, the hunter had taken the precaution to arm himself with a flute or a timbrel. In that case he had only to strike up a few airs and it was all up with the poor Colus. He would fall down with weakness, and a simple blow with a staff sufficed to dispatch him. He made excellent eating; flavoured, we suppose, by the contents of the cranial cistern afore described.

THE COLLOGRUIS.
"The Camelopard or Giraffe is a beaste full of spots. He hath two little hornes growing on his head the colour of iron, his eies rolling and growing, his mouth but small like a hart's; his tongue is neare three foot long. The pace of this beast differeth from all other in the world, for he doth not move his right and left foote one after another, but both together, and so likewise the other, whereby his whole body is removed at every step or straine."
We must perforce skip the descriptions of the three kinds of Apes—Ape Satyre, the Ape Norwegian, and the Ape Pan. Then there are such creatures as the Axis, the Alborach, the Cacus, the Allocamell, and the Tragelaphus.
And how shall we tell of the Dictyes, the Crucigeran, the Gulon, and the Gorgon? Then there are dissertations on those fearful quadrupeds the Orynx and the Tarbarine.

THE POEPHAGUS.
But the Poephagus ought to detain the modern student a moment, as it must often have engrossed Prince Henry by the hour.

"This great beaste whose everie hair is two cubitts in length & yet finer than a man's, is one of the fearfullest creatures in the World: for if he perceive him to be but looked at by anybody he taketh to his heels as fast as he can goe."

The cause of his fright is his tail, which is much sought after by the natives to bind up their hair. When the hunted Poephagus can "no longer avoyde the hunter then doth he turne himselfe, hiding his taile, & looketh upon the face of the hunter with some confidence, gathering his wits together, as if to face out that he had no tayle, & that the residue of his body were not worth looking after."

Sly Poephagus! But his stratagem is in vain. For "they take off the skinne and the taile," perhaps not even killing him, and so leaving the luckless Poephagus to go roaming about the country skinless and tailless—a piteous sight. But stay. "Volateranus relateth this otherwise, that the beast biteth off his own taile and so delivereth himself from the hunter, knowing that he is not desired for any other cause." Can we not conjure up the scene for ourselves?

"Hunter: So sorry to trouble you, but your taile or your life!

"Poephagus: No trouble at all, I assure you. Allow me (bites off his taile). Pray accept it with my compliments (hunter bows and retires)."

"The Neades were certain beastes whose voice was so terrible that they shook the earth therewith," but the Strepficeros, though endowed with a more resonant title, was a very simple, inoffensive quadruped after all.

A CYNOCEPHALE.
"The Cepus was a four-footed beast having a face like a Lyon & some part of the body like a panther, being as big as a wild goat or Roe-buck, or as one of the dogs of Erithrea & a long taile, the which such of them as having tasted flesh will eat from their own bodies."

"The Calitrich had a long beard and a large taile." You perceive the early naturalists set great store by an animal's caudal appendage. It gave them scope for their descriptive powers.

And now let us learn something about the Cynocephale. "The Cynocephales are a kind of Apes, whose heads are like Dogges & their other part like a mans. Some there are which are able to write & naturally to discerne letters which kind the Priests bring into their Temples, & at their first entrance, the Priest bringeth him a writing Table, a pencil & Inke that so by seeing him write he may make by all whether he be of the right kind & the beast quickly sheweth his skill. The Nomades, people of Ethiopia & the nations of Mentimori live upon the milk of Cynocephals, keeping great heards of them, & killing all the males."

"The Elk is a four-footed beast commonly found in Scandinavia. His upper lip hangs out so long that he cannot eat but going backwards. He is subject to the falling sicknesse, the remedy he hath is to lift up the right claw of the hinder foot & put it to his left ear. It holds the same virtue if you cut it off."

Of the ram we are told that "for six winter months he sleeps on his right side; but after the vernal equinoctiall he rests on his right. Ælianus hath discovered this, but the butchers deny it."

"The Camel hath a manifold belly, either because he hath a great body: or, because he eats Thorny & Woody substances, God hath provided for the concoction. Puddle water is sweet to him, nor will he drink river water, till he hath troubled it with his foot. He lives a hundred years, unlesse the Ayre agree not with him. When they are on a journey they do not whip them forward: but they sing to them, whereby they run so fast that men can hardly follow them."
CAMELS.
Modern zoologists must regret the extinction of the sixteenth-century She-goat, which, according to Prince Henry's natural history, "see as well by night as day, wherefore if those that are blind in the night eat a Goats liver they are granted sight. They breathe out of their eares and nostrils."

Farther along, the national animal of the greatest of British dominions beyond the seas is thus described:—
"The Beaver is a most strong creature to bite, he will never let go his teeth that meet, before he makes the bones crack. His hinder feet are like a Gooses and his fore-feet like an Apes. His fat tail is covered with a scaly skin, & he uses for a rudder when he pursues fish. He comes forth of his holes in the night: & biting off boughs of Trees about the Rivers, he makes his houses with an upper loft. When they are cut asunder they are very delightsome to see; for one lies on his back & hath the boughs between his legges & others draw him by the tail to their cottage.

"A Baboon is a Creature with a head like a dog, but in shape like a man; he will fish cunningly, for he will dive all day, & bring forth abundance of fish."

Here is a picture of a Hippopotamus or Sea-Horse devouring a crocodile tail first.
 A HIPPOPOTAMUS DEVOURING A CROCODILE.
"The Elephant is a stranger with us, but that the Indians & other places have them in common. The King of the Palibroti had 90,000 of them. Many strange things are spoken of them. It is certain that of old time they carried Castles of armed men into the Field. In his heart, says Aldrovandus, he hath a wonderful big bone. Aristotle maintains that he hath three Stomacks. It is most certain (continues the careful chronicler) that in the Kingdom of Malabar they talk together, & speak with man's voice. There was, saith Ocafta, in Cochin an Elephant, who carried things to the Haven & laboured in the sea-faring matters: when he was weary the Governor of the place did force him to draw a galley from the Haven which he had begun to draw, into the sea: the Elephant refused it the Governor gave him good words, & at the last entreated him to do it for the King of Portugal, thereupon (it is hardly credible) the elephant was moored, & repeated these two words clearly, Hoo, Hoo, which in the language of Malabar is, I will, I will, & he presently drew the ship into the Sea.... They learn things so eagerly that Pliny says that an Elephant that was something dull, & was often beat for not learning well, was found acting his part by moon-light, & some say that Elephants will learn to write & read. One of them learned to describe the Greek letters, & did write in the same tongue these words, I myself writ this."

"But," concludes the zoologist, conscious of having clinched the matter by this last proof, "I will say no more."
"The Ichneumon is a creature in Egypt with a long tail like a Serpents. He is an enemy to the Crocodile; for when he observes him sleeping he rolles himself in clay, & goes into his mouth, & so into his belly & eats his liver, & then leaps forth again."

Loaded with all his zoological learning we can understand how Prince Henry became a very bright little boy, far in advance of his years. We can also dimly perceive why he died so young.
THE ICHNEUMON.
It is not given to every youth—nor to every prince—to devour such marvels and live in peace and content at home or at Court, surrounded by the conventions of everyday English life. But had he survived this accumulation of wisdom, the realm would surely have boasted under King Henry IX. a "Zoo" compared with which our present establishment, excellent as it is, would have been paltry indeed. But it is too late to repine. The mantichora, the lamia, the gryphon, and the poephagus are presumably extinct, while as for our lions, bears, giraffes, and the rest of the "foure-footed beastes," these appear to have miserably abandoned all those curious traits which rendered them glorious in little Prince Henry's days, and which, we trust, will long reflect lustre on their past.

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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

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, December 20, 2013

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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