Archive for December 2nd, 2009

This Day In History

December 2, 2009

Dec. 1st:

In 1917, the Rev. Edward Flanagan founded Boys Town in Omaha, Neb.

In 1953, the New York Stock Exchange announced for the first time in history investors could buy stocks on the installment plan.

In 1958, fire swept through the Chicago school of Our Lady of the Angels, killing 93 children and three nuns.

New Castle News (New Castle, Pennsylvania) Dec 1, 1967

Dec 3rd:

In 1818, Illinois entered the Union as the 21st state.

In 1833, Oberlin College, the first truly co-educational college in the United States, opened it doors.

In 1929, the Ford Motor Company raised daily wages from $6.00 to $7.00 despite collapse of the stock market.

In 1948, the nation learned that microfilm of secret U.S. documents had been found in a hollow pumpkin on the farm of Whitaker Chambers.

New Castle News (New Castle, Pennsylvania) Dec 3, 1962

Dec 4th:

In 1783, George Washington said goodbye to his troops at New York shortly before he resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army.

In 1918, President Woodrow Wilson sailed for France to attend the peace conference at Versailles.

In 1942, President Roosevelt ordered the liquidation of the Works Progress Administration, created in 1935 to provide work for the unemployed.

In 1946, the United Mine Workers union was fined $3.5 million and its leader, John L. Lewis $10,000 for refusing to call off a 17-day strike.

New Castle News (New Castle, Pennsylvania) Dec 4, 1963

Dec. 5th:

In 1776, the first scholastic fraternity in America, Phi Beta Kappa, was organized at the College of William and Mary.

In 1933, prohibition was abolished with the 21st amendment.

New Castle News (New Castle, Pennsylvania) Dec 5, 1962

Dec 6th:

In 1859, John Brown was hanged in the public square of Charlestown, Va., for his raid on Harper’s Ferry. On the way to the gallows, he said of the countryside, “This is a beautiful country!”

Tyrone Daily Herald (Tyrone, Pennsylvania) Dec 6, 1976

Dealing With the Descendants of Beelzebub

December 2, 2009

{From the Boston Advertiser}

By a great misfortune, the early mothers of New England brought with them an insular prejudice against the spider, (Aranea domestica Linn.)

This is an industrious beast, often commended in Holy Writ, of whose excellencies the chief is that she devours flies.

The New England housewives aforesaid, not understanding the “battle for life” — as, indeed, how should they, Dr. Darwin having not yet lived? — did not know that the use of the spider was to keep the flies under.

Had they known this, they would have stood back to see a fair fight; and, on this blessed day, we should be all assembled, as in a colliseum, to see the last spider devour the last fly.

Instead of this, Mrs. Winthrop, Mrs. Dudley, and the rest, and their descendants after them, for eight or nine generations, have been brushing down cobwebs and killing spiders, so that the flies have had, and still have, very much more than a fair chance.

By another great misfortune, Uncle Toby, being bitten by a fly some hundred and odd years after, spared his life and said, “There is room enough in the world for thee and me.”

This may have been true. But if, as is probable, that fly laid 2,000 eggs within a month, and each of its descendants laid 2,000 eggs in the next month, and this process continued, winters excepted, for 120 years from his time, the world itself should not contain the zeros of the millions of her progeny in 1875, far less Uncle Toby thrown in.

It is to be wished that the recording angel had dropped his celebrated tear on this remark of Uncle Toby, and blotted it out forever.

As this did not happen, a mawkish philodipterism? has settled in, as friendly to the life of flies as Mme. Winthrop’s sense of duty was unfriendly to that of spiders.

An impression has gained ground that it is wicked to kill flies — while their weaker and humbler companions, the mosquitoes, far more harmless, are slaughtered daily.

In truth, flies are of the race of Beelzebub, the prince of the devils. This divinity, at the head of his crew, was rightly represented as the god of flies.

For flies are fitly described as beastly, sensual, devilish. Beelzebub has no children of less moral sense than they.

Thanks to the errors named, the human race in America is now maintaining, at terrible disadvantage, its contest with those children of Beelzebub.

For the next month a large part of the readers of these lines will shut themselves up in cages of wire gauze, or gauze made from thread, shutting out much of the light and air of heaven in the hope that they may exclude the flies from their beds or boards.

Even in these prisons they will be unhappy. Some miserable daughter of Beelzebub willingly shared their confinement. In some sequestered corner she laid her 2,000 eggs.

The morning approaches, O prisoner, when as you draw near the breakfast table, you will find that the omelette, the breakfast bacon, the potatoes Lyonnaises, the marmalade, the huckleberry cake, and even the oat-meal are to be partaken of by you, only as you sit down as number two thousand and one at the banquet.

A few recalcitrant grocers confectioners will show a sickly and vain rage, by rebelling against the multitude, and will place sticky paper in the window to entrap a few wretches to their ruin.

The number of those who thus perish is to the host but as the company of jelly fish drying on the shore is to the multitude floating happy in the ocean.

Happier to undue the error of Mme. Winthrop!

Happier to reverse the futile sentence of Uncle Toby!

For fortunately the flies are as stupid as they are beastly, selfish, and ravenous.

How easy for the race of white men who have abolished negro slavery to free themselves from their uneasy cages!

How easy to determine that the flies shall enter the cages, as children of Beelzebub, while men and women shall enjoy that glorious freedom to which they were born.

He deserves will of his race who pours molasses and water with vinegar into a glass custard cup covers the same with a cracker bored with a hole, and retires to other duties.

At the end of the day he will deliver two hundred flies to the sculliop for that execution in hot water which their father Beelzebub hath in reserve for him.

If the well-deserving Tell or Winkelreid had prepared six such cups he will have removed in one week from his study 8,400 flies, whose progeny, before Summer ended, would be counted in many millions.

With ten civic wreaths shall he be crowned, for he hath saved the temper of many citizens.

Let civilized mankind spend August in catching flies, rather than spend September in Philadelphia, at the buildings of the grand Centennial, one vast concourse of the human race avenging its wrongs with calm severity in the judicial execution of the last of the flies.

The Fitchburg Sentinel (Fitchburg, Massachusetts) Aug 24, 1875


The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gent. (1759-67)

Uncle Toby is a character (“would not harm a fly”) in the above book. You can read it online HERE.