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Old September 1st, 2012, 03:27 PM   #421

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From the previous page:

gustatory adjective \ˈgəs-tə-ˌtōr-ē, -ˌtȯr-\ (from Latin gustatus "sense of taste; a taste," noun use of past participle of gustare "to taste")

: relating to, affecting, associated with, or being the sense of taste

gus·ta·to·ri·ly adverb

gus·ta·tion noun

gus·ta·tive adjective

* * *

I try to avoid over-indulging my fondness for the history of words in this thread, but occasionally it shows itself. In the following excerpt, Constance Classen explores the background of some common English words relating to the sense of taste, also known as "gustation."

Quote:
It is remarkable, indeed, how many words dealing with the senses have undergone sensory shifts. This is particularly true of gustatory terms, most of which are tactile in origin. Bitter, tangy, piquant, pungent, tart, acid and acrid are all based on words meaning sharp. Cloying, meaning overly sweet, originally meant to lame a horse with a nail. The word taste itself originally meant touch. The fact that these gustatory terms have their origin in the sense of touch illustrates the importance of the tactile component of gustation, and also suggests that touch serves as a model for taste in Western thought. Other gustatory terms which have shifted their sensory meaning include flavour, which once meant an odour, and spicy, which has a visual basis, being derived from the Latin species, meaning appearance.

Gustatory terms, such as sour, sweet, or pungent, usually double for olfactory terms. Olfactory terms themselves often derive from words referring to fire or smoke. Smell, reek, perfume and incense, for example, all have bases meaning to burn or smoke. Breath originally meant the smell of anything cooking or burning, and is derived from an Indo-European base meaning to boil. This suggests that odours produced through burning were the archetypical smell for our linguistic ancestors who, of course, attached far more practical and symbolic significance to fire than we do.

In fact, conditions of smokiness and dustiness apparently made quite an impression on our forbears, as many of our present sensory terms are developed from roots meaning smoky or dusty. The Indo-European base, dheu-, to fly about like dust, to smoke, is at the root of words such as dizzy, dim, dull, dun, dust, dusk, fume, and tumble. Deaf, dumb, and dead are derived from dheu- as well, evoking the deadening of the senses that occurs in a dust storm. Blind, apparently from another Indo-European base, blendh-, to mix, also suggests the sensory confusion of blurred boundaries. Indeed, the Greek word for blind, typhlos, is derived from the same dheu- base as our deaf and dumb. The tactile dimension of dheu- can be seen in another of its offspring, 'down', meaning soft feathers, and its olfactory dimension in the Sanskrit dhup, to burn incense. The Indo-European word for breath, dhewes, in turn, is based on dheu- as well, perhaps due to the smoke-like nature of breath. Finally, the word 'stink' is derived from the Indo-European steu-, like dheu-, meaning to rise up like dust. Thus the experience of blowing dust and smoke has given rise to a whole multi-sensory complex of words.

— Constance Classen, Worlds of Sense: Exploring the Senses in History and Across Cultures (1993)

Click the image to open in full size.
Diagram of a taste bud

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importune verb \ˌim-pər-ˈtün, -'tyün; im-ˈpor-ˌ, -chən\ (Back formation from importunity, or else from Middle French importuner, from Middle Latin importunari "to make oneself troublesome," from Latin importunus "unfit, troublesome," originally "having no harbor" [i.e. "difficult to access"], from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" [see in- [1]] + portus "harbor" [see port [1]]. Related: Importuned; importuning)

transitive verb

1 a : to press or urge with troublesome persistence

. b archaic : to request or beg for urgently

2 : annoy, trouble

intransitive verb

: to beg, urge, or solicit persistently or troublesomely

im·por·tun·er noun

im·por·tun·ate adjective

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Old September 22nd, 2012, 03:04 PM   #422

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From the previous page:

irascible adjective \i-ˈra-sə-bəl\ (Middle French, from Late Latin irascibilis, from Latin irasci to become angry, be angry, from ira anger)

: marked by hot temper and easily provoked anger

iras·ci·bil·i·ty noun

iras·ci·ble·ness noun

iras·ci·bly adverb

* * *

What follows is the beginning of a chapter about Johanna of Navarre. The subtitle is "The Witchcraft Queen" because her stepson Henry V accused her of "acts of witchcraft tending to the King's harm." She was convicted and subsequently held in Pevensey Castle in Sussex for four years. However Henry eventually relented and she was released, and in fact outlived him.

Quote:
Johanna of Navarre . . . . . . Consort of Henry IV
(born 1370, died 1437)

"The Witchcraft Queen"

John IV, Duke of Brittany, died and left behind him a widow with eight children. It might well have been thought that the romance of her life was over, yet a few years later she married Henry IV of England and was crowned as queen-consort.

Johanna was the second daughter of Charles of Navarre, known to history as "The Bad." At one time, she, and her little brothers, were taken to Paris to act as hostages for his good behaviour.

While still a child, Johanna was contracted to John, the heir of Castile, but political reasons necessitated the breaking of the agreement, and, later, the girl was married to the Duke of Brittany, a man old enough to be her grandfather and noted as being "the most irascible prince in Europe. In addition to being irascible, the duke was of a jealous temperament, so Johanna learnt diplomacy and tact in a difficult school.

For one reason or another the duchy suffered almost constant civil war, and very often the duke and duchess were in personal danger when they left their fortified castles; twice their jewels and plate were captured by the apposing forces. But, through these stormy times, Johanna stayed by her husband's side and filled her nurseries.

During this period she met Henry of Bolingbroke, afterwards Henry IV of England, then enduring banishment. He was glad to find a welcome in Brittany, as Charles VI of France had requested him to withdraw from the court of France, since his residence there was displeasing to Richard, while the Duke of Burgundy would not even allow him to pass through his dominions.

Henry was a widower. He had married Mary de Bohun, a child of eleven years of age, who became a mother a year later. Mary was the younger daughter of Humphrey, Earl of Hereford, and one of the richest heiresses in the kingdom. Her elder sister had married the Duke of Gloucester, and Mary was left to his guardianship. He put the child in a convent, intending that she should take the veil, but Henry, assisted by an aunt, carried her away and made her his wife. She gave him six children one of whom came to reign after his father as Henry V.

— Elsie Prentys Thornton-Cook, Her Majesty: The Romance of the Queens of England, 1066-1910 (1926)

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Johanna (Joan) of Navarre
© 2011 Clipart.com

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nugatory adjective \ˈnü-gə-ˌtȯr-ē, ˈnyü-\ (Latin nugatorius, from nugari to trifle, from nugae trifles)

1 : of little or no consequence : trifling, inconsequential

2 : having no force : inoperative

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Old October 20th, 2012, 06:16 PM   #423

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Below are given two versions of what is arguably the most famous poem attributed to Elizabeth I of England. I say attributed because there is some small doubt as to the authorship. One of the extant manuscripts gives the earl of Oxford as the author, though generally it is thought to be Elizabeth's work. The first version comes from the Cambridge University Library, from a volume bound as Commonplace Book, 1575, and was unattributed in the manuscript. The second comes from the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford, found in the miscellany of the courtier John Finet, and is attributed to Elizabeth in the manuscript. The poem is thought to have been written sometime in the 1580s. Since today's word is used throughout this quote, I'm only going to highlight its first use in each version.

Quote:
WHEN I WAS FAIR AND YOUNG

. . . . Version 1

. . . . When I was fair and young, and favor graced me,
. . . . Of many was I sought unto, their mistress for to be.
. . . . But I did scorn them all, and said to them therefore,
. . . . "Go, go, go seek some otherwhere; importune me no more."

. . . . But there fair Venus' son, that brave and victorious boy,
. . . . Said, "What, thou scornful dame, sith that thou art so coy,
. . . . I will wound thy heart, that thou shalt learn therefore:
. . . . "Go, go, go seek some otherwhere; importune me no more."

. . . . But then I felt straightaway a change within my breast:
. . . . The day unquiet was; the night I could not rest.
. . . . For I did sore repent that I had said before,
. . . . "Go, go, go seek some otherwhere; importune me no more."

. . . . Version 2

. . . . When I was fair and young, and favor graced me,
. . . . Of many was I sought their mistress for to be.
. . . . But I did scorn them all, and answered them therefore,
. . . . . . ."Go, go, go seek some otherwhere,
. . . . . . . . . Importune me no more."

. . . . How many weeping eyes I made to pine with woe;
. . . . How many sighing hearts I have no skill to show.
. . . . Yet I the prouder grew, and answered them therefore,
. . . . . . ."Go, go, go seek some otherwhere,
. . . . . . . . . Importune me no more."

. . . . Then spake fair Venus' son, that proud victorious boy,
. . . . And said: "Fine dame, since that you be so coy,
. . . . I shall pluck your plumes that you shall say no more
. . . . . . ."Go, go, go seek some otherwhere,
. . . . . . . . . Importune me no more."

. . . . When he had spake these words, such change grew in my breast
. . . . That neither night nor day since that, I could take my rest.
. . . . Then lo, I did repent that I had said before,
. . . . . . ."Go, go, go seek some otherwhere,
. . . . . . . . . Importune me no more."

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Finis
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Elizabetha Regina


— Elizabeth I of England, Collected Works Edited by Leah S. Marcus, Janel Mueller, and Mary Beth Rose (2000)

Click the image to open in full size.

Elizabeth I of England (1580s)
by George Gower

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lagniappe noun \ˈlan-ˌyap, lan-ˈ\ (From New Orleans creole, of unknown origin though much speculated upon. Originally a bit of something given by New Orleans shopkeepers to customers. Said to be from American Spanish la ñapa "the gift." Klein says this is in turn from Quechua yapa "something added, gift.")

: a small gift given a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase; broadly : something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure
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Old October 23rd, 2012, 09:57 PM   #424

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Today's quote is the extended title of Plain Truth, a pamphlet published in 1776 as a Loyalist response to Thomas Paine's Common Sense, which had been published in January of that year. Today, it is generally agreed that "Candidus," the author of Plain Truth, was James Chalmers, a wealthy landowner from Maryland. Chalmers was a Scot, who had come to the West Indies at a very young age and had made his fortune there (it seems no one today is sure exactly how that was accomplished) before moving north and buying up large tracts of land on the East Shore of Chesapeake Bay. In reading about the history behind Common Sense, it seemed to me that it's only relatively recently that historians decided that Chalmers actually was the author, even though he himself had claimed to have written the pamphlet. Over the years, at least five people other than James Chalmers were put forward as the actual "Candidus," including George Chalmers, Charles Inglis, Rev. William Smith, Joseph Galloway, and even Alexander Hamilton.

At any rate, there's no question that James Chalmers was a staunch Loyalist, and helped form what became the 1st Battalion of Maryland Loyalists, being commissioned by the British as a Lieutenant Colonel and the commander of the battalion. That unit didn't see much action, except for the unsuccessful attempt to withstand the siege by the Spanish of Pensacola, in Florida. After the war, James Chalmers settled in England, where he lived the rest of his life.

Quote:
PLAIN TRUTH;

ADDRESSED TO THE

INHABITANTS OF AMERICA,

Containing, Remarks on a Late Pamphlet

entitled

COMMON SENSE:

Wherin are shewn, that the Scheme of Independence is Ruinous,
Delusive, and Impracticable: That were the Author's Asseverations,
Respecting the Power of America, as Real as Nugatory; Reconciliation
on liberal Principles with Great Britain, would be exalted Policy: And that
circumstanced as we are, Permanent Liberty, and True Happiness, can only
be obtained, by HONORABLE CONNECTIONS, with that Kingdom.

Written by CANDIDUS

Will ye turn from flattery, and attend to this Side?
______________________________________________

There TRUTH, unlicenc'd, walks; and dares accost
Even Kings themselves, the Monarchs of the Free!

Thomson on the Liberties of BRITAIN.
______________________________________________

— "Candidus," Plain Truth (1776)
Revisited word:

asseverate verb \ə-ˈse-və-ˌrāt\ (from Latin asseveratus, past participle of asseverare "to swear solemnly, act with earnestness, assert seriously," from ad- "to" + severus "serious, severe")

to affirm or declare positively or earnestly : state categorically

as·sev·er·a·tion noun
as·sev·er·a·tive adjective



Click the image to open in full size.

Maryland Loyalists (Reenactors who represent the 1st Battalion of Maryland Loyalists, which was formed in 1777 by Lt. Col. James Chalmers) © MarylandLoyalists.org

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jocund adjective \ˈjä-kənd also ˈjō-(ˌ)kənd\ (Middle English, from Late Latin jocundus, alteration of Latin jucundus, from juvare to help)

: marked by or suggestive of high spirits and lively mirthfulness

jo·cun·di·ty noun

jo·cund·ly adverb
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Old November 4th, 2012, 08:29 AM   #425

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In today's quote, an alternate etymology of the word lagniappe is put forward. As far as I know, there is no dictionary which gives any credence to this etymology, but I found it interesting. The image below was used as an illustration for a brief story from New Orleans' The Times-Picayune about an (apparently unsuccessful) attempt by that city's grocers in the late 19th/early 20th century to abolish the practice of giving lagniappe.

Quote:
Lagniappe was always given customers in the stores during the Creole era, giving small pleasure to children and servants. No matter how small the purchase, the merchant always added a bit of candy, a cake or some other small item as lagniappe, meaning, something extra, something for nothing.

Webster claims that lagniappe is derived from a Spanish word, but there is no country where Spanish is spoken that uses such a term. M. Bussière Rouen, a noted French scholar, advanced the theory that four or five centuries ago, in Normandy and in Brittany, grain like oats, wheat and barley, when sold, was spread on a woven cloth known in French as a nappe. When the seller delivered or emptied the contents of the cloth into the buyer's receptacle, there were always quite a few grains clinging to the cloth. To compensate the buyer, the seller would take one or two handfuls from his stock and give it to the buyer, saying this was for la nappe (the cloth). When the Bretons and Normans settled in Canada and then were driven out by the English, eventually to find homes in Louisiana and become known as Acadians, they kept the custom of giving a little something for nothing when purchases were made, saying, 'Pour la gniappe' instead of 'Pour la nappe,' and from them the curious custom was passed on to the Creoles of New Orleans.

— Lyle Saxon, Edward Dreyer, Robert Tallant, Gumbo Ya-Ya: A Collection of Louisiana Folk Tales (originally published 1945, revised edition published 1987)

Click the image to open in full size.

New Orleans Grocer, circa 1895
© The Times-Picayune

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excursive adjective \ik-ˈskər-siv\ (Latin excurs- "digressed, run out" [from the verb excurrere to run forth] + "-ive", perhaps influenced by discursive)

: constituting a digression : characterized by digression : rambling

ex·cur·sive·ly adverb

ex·cur·sive·ness noun

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Old November 5th, 2012, 04:49 PM   #426

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The original Crystal Palace, built in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, was truly a wonder for its time. The technique for producing large quantities of plate glass had only been developed shortly prior to its construction, and certainly nothing like the Crystal Palace had ever been attempted before. In the quote within today's quote, a writer for the Punch magazine deplores the fact that a decision had been made to tear down the magnificent structure. From what I've read, it was actually a writer for Punch who came up with the name "Crystal Palace" in the first place. As it turns out, the original Palace was indeed dismantled, but only to be rebuilt in 1854, larger and in a slightly different configuration at Penge Common in London. It stood until the famous fire of 1936 in which it was destroyed.

Quote:
We now turn to the effusions of a more sprightly moralist, whose brilliant satire affords hebdomadal delight to all parties. Long, O glorious Punch, may'st thou continue thine inimitable pasquinades. But that the quotation were scarcely worthy of thine exalted merit, I would hail thee, in the words of the author of the Dunciad

"Teacher at once, and zany of the age!"

But to the point:—

"SHALL THE CRYSTAL PALACE STAND?—Are we to take to ourselves the closing ceremonies of the Exhibition as sad, dull presages of the doom of the wondrous fabric itself—a doom resolved upon, and relentlessly pursued by the stern wisdom of the great Pan of the woods and forests? If so, most pertinently, most admirably, were those ceremonies ordered: for the very genius of dumpishness, of sullen wilfulness, presided on the Saturday, and on the final Wednesday. Not a man appeared in the lac-a-daisical pageant, not one, from the prince to the bishop, but dulness marked him for her own. Authority seemed to be remorseful of the jocund bearing held on the 1st of May; and therefore did a sort of dropjaw penance on the 15th of October. Humdrum was paramount! And the skies sympathised with human gloom, making all as dim and comfortless without the crystal walls, as authority was dark and glumpy within. A loyal superstition attributed the wet and murky weather to the absence of the queen. Had she graced the pageant, all would have been light and debonnaire, her majesty, according to the cheerful faith, being a concentration of sunbeams.

"But the fact is now unalterable; and let us, as sober, melancholy, mind-the-main-chance Britons, rejoice thereupon. We have redeemed our character—our unailienable right—of dulness. If we did not lose somewhat in unseemly gaiety on the 1st of May; have we not recovered ourselves in the substantial stupidity of the 15th of October? If we did mum and flaunt it in the spring, to the astonishment of the stranger—who wondered much at jocund Bull!—have we not returned to our national sackcloth, our characteristic ashes, in autumn? Yes; we hope we have redeemed ourselves in the doubtful opinion of the foreigner. We have every faith that the stranger will depart from our shores with the strengthened conviction, that when John Bull in authority makes up his mind to be freezingly cold, and substantially sullen, he may triumphantly compete with all the human race. There was, as the closing ceremonial was acted, one prize medal wanting—a medal, with a whole pig of lead in it, for the dumps. And this medal—who can doubt it?—must have been carried off by the royal commission.

"And yet there may have been a kindness intended in the gloom of the ceremony: benevolence may have lurked in the doldrums of authority. The utter blankness of meaning with which the Exhibition was declared at an end, may have been studiously, yet, withal, tenderly affected to prepare us for the grand consummation of the most profound, the most triumphant, and most barbarous stupidity (spiced somewhat with wickedness), that ever made ape kind gape at mankind;—to wit, the destruction of the last wonder of the world, the marvellous fabric that, at a glance, has won the homage of millions. Not that the sensibility, masked in coldness, of authority, was all undignified by a high, patrician philosophy; a stoicism that would see the crystal wonder break into nothing, like a prismatic soap bubble. Not moreover, that Lord Seymour is to be thought the great official of insensibility: oh, no—

" 'Ere wild in Woods that noble savage ran,'—

we had many high examples of the rabid contempt of office for the wishes and sympathies of the people. Lord Seymour, able as he was in his way, is only a large contributor, not an originator. However, when the Palace shall have passed away, we trust that among the statues to be raised to commemorate its once whereabouts, there will be some effigy to eternise the condescension and urbanity radiant in the head minister of woods and forests for 1851. May we propose a statue of—The Snarling Faun?"

— John Tallis, quotation from Punch magazine in History and Description of the Crystal Palace (1852)
Bonus word:

hebdomadal adjective \heb-ˈdä-mə-dəl\ (pedantic humor, from Latin hebdomas, from Greek hebdomas "the number seven; a period of seven [days]," from hepta "seven" [from PIE *septm; see seven] + -mos, suffix used to form ordinal numbers, cognate with Latin -mus)

: weekly

heb·dom·a·dal·ly adverb

heb·dom·a·dar·y adjective alternate form

* * *

Revisited word:

pasquinade noun \ˌpas-kwə-ˈnād\ (Middle French, from Italian pasquinata, from Pasquino, name given to a statue in Rome on which lampoons were posted)

1: a lampoon posted in a public place

2: satirical writing : satire


Click the image to open in full size.

Crystal Palace, London 1851

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insuperable adjective \(ˌ)in-ˈsü-p(ə-)rə-bəl\ (Middle English, from Latin insuperabilis, from in- + superare to surmount, from super over)

: incapable of being surmounted, overcome, passed over, or solved

in·su·per·a·bly adverb
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Old November 19th, 2012, 12:16 PM   #427

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Via Devana is the name given early in the 19th century to the Roman road between Colchester and Chester, in England. (Deva Victrix, or Deva being the Roman name for the fortress and town which eventually became Chester.) Certain sections of it predate the Romans, and the photo I have chosen to illustrate today's entry is of one such section, known as Wool Street.

Quote:
Here on this old Chester Road long ago tramped flat by feet of Roman legionaries marching Chesterwards—Chester, their castra, supreme among many camps—we tramp after them on this 26th of December, 1904; after them in time, albeit in a sense with them still. Great tramps these Romans; they tramped hither from Rome; and while the excursive spirit lasted, they throve from the fringe of empire to the centre. So we go with them; for we too in our way have the excursive spirit.

By the excursive spirit I do not mean that mind that plans a time, a place, a route, and some set objective which, having been obtained, there follows again time, place, and route, as in some programme of ceremonies. He who would know the excursive spirit should be all but absolute in his ways. Roads may serve, but must not bind him; he will break no man's enclosure, trample no man's crops, and obtrude himself upon no man's privacy; but he will claim to set his foot upon every square inch of free soil: for neither he nor the land is enslaved. Without any predetermined destination he will roam as chance or passing choice may lead him, now to some haunt of birds, now by some quiet stream, having forsaken the ways of men as if for ever. Before him is the expanse of earth, the whole body of Nature, the eternity of a day to which he refuses for the time being to set mental bound. So only can a man cancel the limitations of his state, and for a time live that ampler life which is indeed the life of the world.

— John Maclair Boraston, Nature - Tones & Undertones (1905)
Bonus word:

obtrude verb \əb-'trüd, äb-\ (Latin obtrudere to thrust at, from ob- in the way + trudere to thrust)

transitive verb

1 : to thrust out : extrude

2 : to force or impose (as oneself or one's ideas) without warrant or request

intransitive verb

: to become unduly prominent or interfering : intrude

ob·trud·er noun



Click the image to open in full size.

Wool Street © Barry Samuels

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sententious adjective \sen-ˈten(t)-shəs\ (Middle English, full of meaning, from Latin sententiosus, from sententia sentence, maxim)

1 a : given to or abounding in aphoristic expression [aphorism: a tersely phrased statement of a truth or opinion; an adage]

. b : given to or abounding in excessive moralizing

2 : terse, aphoristic, or moralistic in expression : pithy, epigrammatic

sen·ten·tious·ly adverb

sen·ten·tious·ness noun

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Old January 18th, 2013, 10:36 AM   #428

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Quote:
Thoroughly familiar with the American proclivity for blaming national woes on the national leader, [Jefferson] Davis had engaged in the practice too often himself not to expect it to be turned against him. He viewed it as an occupational hazard, one that more or less went with his job, and he spoke of it as a man might speak of any natural phenomenon — gravity, say, or atmospheric pressure — which could not be abolished simply because it bore within it the seeds of possible disaster. "Opposition in any form can only disturb me inasmuch as it may endanger the public welfare," he had said. Moreover, no one could sympathize more with the people who felt this fourth-spring frustration, for no one was in a position to know as well how soundly based the feeling was. Such blame as he attached to men like Stephens and Brown and Pollard was not for entertaining, but rather for giving vent to their defeatist conclusions, since by doing so they betrayed their high positions, converting them to rostrums for the spreading of despair, and did indeed "endanger the public welfare." As for the frustration itself, Davis not only sympathized with it, he shared it. However much he might condemn those who gave way under pressure, he knew only too well how great that pressure was: especially for those who saw the problem, as he did, from within. Wherever he looked he perceived that the Confederacy's efforts to "conquer a peace" were doomed to failure. And this applied most obviously to the three most obvious fields for aggressive endeavor, whereby the South might attempt to force its will upon its mortal adversary: 1) by entering upon negotiations with representatives from the North to obtain acceptable peace terms, 2) by mounting and sustaining a military offensive which would end with the imposition of such terms, or 3) by securing the foreign recognition and assistance which would afford the moral and physical strength now lacking to achieve the other two.

As for the first of these, Davis had pointed out the difficulty, if not the impossibility, of pursuing this line of endeavor three months ago in response to a letter from Governor Vance, in which the Carolinian urged that attempts be made to negotiate with the enemy, not because such an expression of willingness on the part of the South to stop shooting and start talking would "convince the humblest of our citizens . . . that the government is tender of their lives and happiness, and would not prolong their sufferings unnecessarily one moment," but also because the rejection by the North of such an offer would "tend greatly to strengthen and intensify the war feeling [of our people] and will rally all classes to a more cordial support of the government." Davis replied that while such results were highly desirable, "insuperable objections" stood in the way of their being achieved. One was that, by the simple northern device of refusing to confer with "rebel" envoys, all such offers — except to the extent that they were "received as proof that we are ready for submission" — had been rejected out of hand. He himself had seldom neglected an opportunity, in his public addresses and messages to Congress, to inform the enemy and the world that "All we ask is to be let alone." Nothing had come of this, in or out of official channels, and it was becoming increasingly clear that to continue such efforts was "to invite insult and contumely, and to subject ourselves to indignity, without the slightest chance of being listened to."

Suppose, though, that they did somehow manage to break through the barrier of silence. What would that do, Davis asked, but confront them with another barrier, still more "insuperable" than the first? "It is with Lincoln alone that we could confer," he reminded Vance, "and his own partisans at the North avow unequivocally that his purpose in his message and proclamation [of Amnesty and Reconstruction] was to shut out all hope that he would ever treat with us, on any terms." The northern President himself had made this clear and certain, according to Davis, "Have we not been apprised by that despot that we can only expect his gracious pardon by emancipating all our slaves, swearing obedience to him and his proclamation, and becoming in point of fact the slaves of our own Negroes?" In light of this, he asked further, "can there be in North Carolina one citizen so fallen beneath the dignity of his ancestors as to accept or enter into conference on the basis of these terms? That there are a few traitors in the state who would be willing to betray their fellow citizens to such a degraded condition, in hope of being rewarded for their treachery by an escape from the common doom, may be true. But I do not believe that the vilest wretch would accept such terms for himself."

Having gone so far — for the letter was a long one, written in the days before he sought to break off corresponding with the Tarheel governor — Davis then proceeded to the inevitable conclusion that peace, if it was to come at all, would have to be won by force of arms. "To obtain the sole terms to which you or I could listen," he told Vance, "this struggle must continue until the enemy is beaten out of his vain confidence in our subjugation. The and not till then will it be possible to treat of peace."

That brought him to the second, and much the bloodiest of his three aggressive choices, the launching of an offensive that would not stop short of the table across which peace terms would be dictated to an enemy obliged to accept them as a condition of survival in defeat. Pleasant though this was to contemplate as a fitting end to slaughter and privation, it amounted to little more than an exercise in the realm of fantasy. If three blood-drenched years of war, and three aborted invasions of the North, had taught anything, they had taught that, however the conflict was going to end, it was not going to end this way. Davis, for one, never stopped hoping that it might, and even now was urging a course of action on Joe Johnston, down in Georgia, designed to bring about just such a closing scene. That the general declined to march all-out against the Union center was not surprising; Johnston had always bridled at cut-and-slash urgings or suggestions, and in this case, outnumbered and outgunned as he was, he protested with ample cause.

. . .

Third and last of these choices, the securing of foreign recognition and assistance, has long been the hope of Confederate statesmen: especially Davis, who had uttered scarcely a public word through the first twenty months of the war that did not look toward intervention by one or another of the European powers. However, as time wore on it became clearer and clearer that nothing was going to come of such efforts and expectations — Russia had been pro-Union from the start, and France, whatever her true desires might be, could not act without England, where the Liberals in power took their cue from voters who were predominantly anti-slavery and therefore, in accordance with Lincoln's persuasions, anti-Confederate — the southern President, smarting under the snubs his unacknowledged envoys suffered, grew increasingly petulant and less guarded in his reaction. Fifteen months ago, addressing his home-state legislature on the first of his western journeys to revive confidence and bolster morale, he lost patience for the first time in public. "'Put not your trust in princes,'" he advised, "and rest not your hopes on foreign nations. This war is ours; we must fight it ourselves."

— Shelby Foote, The Civil War: Red River to Appomattox, Volume 3 (1974)
Revisited word:

contumely noun \kän-ˈtü-mə-lē, kən-, -ˈtyü-; ˈkän-tü-ˌmē-lē, -tyü-ˌ, -chə-ˌ; in “Hamlet” ˈkän-(ˌ)tyüm-lē or ˈkän-chəm-\ (from Old French contumelie, from Latin contumelia "a reproach, insult," probably related to contumax "haughty, stubborn," from com-, intensive prefix, + tumere "to swell up")

: harsh language or treatment arising from haughtiness and contempt; also : an instance of such language or treatment


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Jefferson Davis by Matthew Brady

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ukase noun \yü-ˈkās, -ˈkāz, ˈyü-ˌ; ü-ˈkäz\ (French & Russian; French, from Russian ukaz, from ukazat' to show, order; akin to Old Church Slavic u- away, Latin au-, Sanskrit ava- and to Old Church Slavic kazati to show)

1 : a proclamation by a Russian emperor or government having the force of law

2 : edict
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Old January 20th, 2013, 11:38 AM   #429

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In my search for a suitable entry for today's word, I encountered a whole field of intellectual endeavor, of which I had previously been completely unaware; paremiology, the study of proverbs. I think that I'll enjoy learning more about this topic! The following excerpt is an exploration of the breakdown of knowledge of common proverbs in American society. The author had noted that his students generally were unaware of what were once common American proverbs, though they usually knew more modern proverbs such as "Garbage in, garbage out." He quotes an article from The New Republic that explores this phenomenon with humor, some of which actually succeeds, in my opinion.

Quote:
A Boston chef pummels a soup tureen, telling his employer: "Spare the rod, spoil the broth." A nine-year-old San Diego girl is hospitalized with second-degree burns after her mother tells her: "You've cooked your goose, now lie in it." A St. Louis zookeeper declares, "Monkey do, but you can't make him drink it."

All across the nation a disturbing new phenomenon is manifesting itself: chronic misquotation of society's most revered maxims, usually resulting from the hybridization of totally unrelated pieces of hackneyed advice. According to Dr. Stanley "The Greek" Aston-Foucalt, co-chairman of the President's Commission on Banality and author of What Johnny Don't Know, "The epidemic of maxim-mangling that has erupted in this country is quite literally rocking the linguistic foundations of our society, making communication all but impossible.

"Although almost universally maligned," Aston-Foucalt contends, "sententious phrases such as 'The grass is always greener on the other side' are actually repositories of society's deepest convictions about itself. Americans, as a people, truly believe that sunny sides should be kept up and that shoes that fit ought to be worn. Today, however, these archetypal kernels of savvy lingo are being undermined as never before."

Critics almost universally agree that the blame for this situation lies with the public schools. "Miseducated by a generation of unqualified teachers, our children are getting the short end of the stick," fumes Millicent Terkel, chairperson of Watchdog on Banality, a non-profit organization sponsoring sententiousness at the state and municipal levels. "In a recent study of our high school graduates, 76 percent said that it was impossible to see the forest while the cat was away, 86 percent believed that blood is thicker than the milk of human kindness, and an astonishing 96 percent agreed with the statement: 'You don't miss your water till the sun shines, Nellie.'"

— Joe Queenan "Too Many Cooks Mix a Metaphor—As My Mom Never Said" (originally published in The New Republic, May, 1988) from "Proverbs Speak Louder Than Words": Folk Wisdom in Art, Culture, Folklore, History, Literature, and Mass Media by Wolfgang Mieder (2008)

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Nederlandse Spreekwoorden (Netherlandish Proverbs)
by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1559)

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labarum noun \ˈla-bə-rəm\ (Beyond its derivation from Latin labarum, the etymology of the word is unclear. Some derive it from Latin /labāre/ 'to totter, to waver' [in the sense of the "waving" of a flag in the breeze] or laureum [vexillum] ["laurel standard"]. According to the Real Academia Española, the related lábaro is also derived from Latin labărum but offers no further derivation from within Latin, nor does the Oxford English Dictionary. An origin as a loan into Latin from a Celtic language or Basque has also been postulated. There is a traditional Basque symbol called the lauburu; though the name is only attested from the 19th century onward, the motif occurs in engravings dating as early as the 2nd century AD.)

: an imperial standard of the later Roman emperors resembling the vexillum; especially : the standard bearing the Chi-Rho [] adopted by Constantine after he converted to Christianity
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Old January 20th, 2013, 12:20 PM   #430

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May I just say thank you: this one of the best threads in the forum!
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