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Monday, March 5, 2012

Wright's Gutenblog

Why am I bothering? Any of you who chance upon this page may well wonder.

Why? I'm not sure, except to show you what insights a few excerpts from one day in the life of may reveal.

Every one of these comes from just one day's new releases - in this case, 3 March 2012. Each choice has a purpose, but I'll leave you to ponder that, with minimal comment from me.

I realise that few will look at these short excerpts. But, to quote one of the greatest personages of history, "there will be some who understand." 

[NOTE: I now have a dedicated section of the blog for Gutenberg snippets. Please have a glance through them. There is a link to them permanently on the right hand navigation section, called The Joys of Gutenberg.]


Dealing with the expert!
Our Journey to the Hebrides (1890)
by Elizabeth Robins Pennell and Joseph Pennell 


Dr. Johnson says that "to describe a city so much frequented as GLASGOW is unnecessary," and again we are willing to take his word for it. But its Cathedral was the first of the many surprises Scotland had in store for us. We had heard of it, but that was all. One young lady of Glasgow, fresh from a tour on the Continent, told us that she had never seen it. We were therefore prepared to find it no great thing. The exterior did not disappoint our expectations, but we have seldom been more impressed with an interior, and this though we had just come from the loveliest churches of England.

The crypt, or rather the under church, is its pride, as indeed it well may be. A verger stood smoking a pipe at the south door, and we told him what we thought. J-----, after three years' work in the English cathedrals, felt himself no mean authority.

"It's the finest in the world," said the verger.

"In Great Britain perhaps, but not in Europe," said J-----; for we had been but a moment before comparing it, as it now is, a cold, bare, show-place, to the under church of Assisi with the frescos on the walls, the old lamps burning before altars, the sweet smell of incense, and the monks kneeling in prayer.

"I only tell you what those qualified have said," and the verger settled the matter and J-----'s pretensions.


No comment necessary!
Ladies in the Field: Sketches of Sport (1894)
by Beatrice Violet Graham Greville

Contents and Excerpt:


The first stanza of this brings to mind the movie Like Water for Chocolate! The clever use of broken English gives authenticity.
Servian Popular Poetry (1827)
by John Bowring


And the maiden look around the circle
And within her sad heart sighing deeply,
Once again she ask the marriage-leader:
"Who is he upon that white horse seated,
He who bears so high aloft the banner,
On whose chin that sable beard is growing?
And the leader answers thus the maiden:
"He‚ the hero Suko of Urbinia;
He who for thee with thy brother struggled,
Struggled well indeed, but could not win thee.
When the lovely maiden heard the leader,
On the black, black earth, anon she fainted:
All to raise her, hastening, gather round her,
And the last of all came Mustaph Aga;
None could lift her from the ground, till Suko
Sticks into the earth his waving banner,
Stretches out his right hand to the maiden.
See her, see her! from the ground upspringing,
Swift she vaults upon his steed behind him;
Rapidly he guides the courser onwards,
Swift they speed across the open desert,
Swift as ever star across the heavens.


Europe in political as well as military turmoil during and at the end of World War 1. The battle lines between Communists, Anarchists, Social Democrats and the Right Wing reactionaries is played out, as this episode illustrates.
The Future Belongs to the People (1918)
by Karl Paul August Friedrich Liebknecht


On June 28th, 1916, Karl Liebknecht was sentenced at secret trial to thirty months' penal servitude. When the public prosecutor asked for this secrecy, Liebknecht exclaimed:

"It is cowardice on your part, gentlemen. Yes, I repeat, that you are cowards if you close these doors."

Nevertheless, the court decided to exclude the public, upon which Liebknecht cried to his wife and Rosa Luxemburg, in the audience, "Leave this comedy, where everything, including even the decision, has been prepared beforehand."

Following the announcement of the sentence given Liebknecht, the Potsdamerplatz in Berlin was the scene of a serious outbreak.

The next day (according to reports from Switzerland) strikes of protest against the Liebknecht case took place in Berlin and some 55,000 persons were involved in them. In other cities strikes and demonstrations of protest also took place.

An appeal was taken but resulted only in an increase in the sentence to four years' and one month's imprisonment at hard labor. Furthermore, he was deprived of all his civil rights for a period of six years after he should have served his term.

[Associated Press Dispatch]

PARIS, October 25. - An enormous crowd assembled before the Reichstag building in Berlin yesterday, calling for the abdication of Emperor William and the formation of a republic, according to a special dispatch from Zurich to L'Information.

Dr. Karl Liebknecht, the Socialist leader who has just been released from prison, was applauded frantically. He was compelled to enter a carriage filled with flowers from which he made a speech declaring that the time of the people had arrived.


Interesting to see what was being taught then in Bible Studies in the US, and the methods. There is some keenness to link religion and science. Have things changed?
The Dramatization of Bible Stories  (1918)
by Elizabeth Erwin Miller Lobingier



In the wake of the American Civil War, the fate of African Americans had to be decided. A lot of Gutenberg literature released recently centres on this traumatic period of US history.
Memoirs of Gen. William T. Sherman, Complete (1885)
by William T. Sherman



1. The islands from Charleston south, the abandoned rice-fields along the rivers for thirty miles back from the sea, and the country bordering the St. John's River, Florida, are reserved and set apart for the settlement of the negroes now made free by the acts of war and the proclamation of the President of the United States.

2. At Beaufort, Hilton Head, Savannah, Fernandina, St. Augustine, and Jacksonville, the blacks may remain in their chosen or accustomed vocations; but on the islands, and in the settlements hereafter to be established, no white person whatever, unless military officers and soldiers detailed for duty, will be permitted to reside; and the sole and exclusive management of affairs will be left to the freed people themselves, subject only to the United States military authority, and the acts of Congress. By the laws of war, and orders of the President of the United States, the negro is free, and must be dealt with as such. He cannot be subjected to conscription, or forced military service, save by the written orders of the highest military authority of the department, under such regulations as the President or Congress may prescribe. Domestic servants, blacksmiths, carpenters, and other mechanics, will be free to select their own work and residence, but the young and able-bodied negroes must be encouraged to enlist as soldiery in the service of the United States, to contribute their share toward maintaining their own freedom, and securing their rights as citizens of the United States.


The Native Americans were also locked in a fierce struggle for their lives and livelihood in the mid-1850s. Tales abound of the battles and skirmishes that took place. We are reminded that the US Army doesn't hesitate to engage their opponents (terrorists, no doubt, in today's parlance), across national borders.
Personal Memoirs of P. H. Sheridan, General, United States Army, Complete (1888) 

"Death of a Drummer Boy"

About mid-winter a party of hostile Lipans made a swoop around and skirting the garrison, killing a herder - a discharged drummer-boy - in sight of the flag-staff. Of course great excitement followed. Captain J. G. Walker, of the Mounted Rifles, immediately started with his company in pursuit of the Indians, and I was directed to accompany the command. 

Not far away we found the body of the boy filled with arrows, and near him the body of a fine looking young Indian, whom the lad had undoubtedly killed before he was himself overpowered. We were not a great distance behind the Indians when the boy's body was discovered, and having good trailers we gained on them rapidly, with the prospect of overhauling them, but as soon as they found we were getting near they headed for the Rio Grande, made the crossing to the opposite bank, and were in Mexico before we could overtake them. 

When on the other side of the boundary they grew very brave, daring us to come over to fight them, well aware all the time that the international line prevented us from continuing the pursuit. So we had to return to the post without reward for our exertion except the consciousness of having made the best effort we could to catch the murderers. That night, in company with Lieutenant Thomas G. Williams, I crossed over the river to the Mexican village of Piedras Negras, and on going to a house where a large baille, or dance, was going on we found among those present two of the Indians we had been chasing. 

As soon as they saw us they strung their bows for a fight, and we drew our six-shooters, but the Mexicans quickly closed in around the Indians and forced them out of the house - or rude jackal - where the "ball" was being held, and they escaped. We learned later something about the nature of the fight the drummer had made, and that his death had cost them dear, for, in addition to the Indian killed and lying by his side, he had mortally wounded another and seriously wounded a third, with the three shots that he had fired.


Making the best of things. The final sentence which has become a mantra for all subsequent US Governments, is ominous if not totally prophetic.
Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant, Complete (1885)
by Ulysses S. Grant
It is probably well that we had the war when we did. We are better off now than we would have been without it, and have made more rapid progress than we otherwise should have made. The civilized nations of Europe have been stimulated into unusual activity, so that commerce, trade, travel, and thorough acquaintance among people of different nationalities, has become common; whereas, before, it was but the few who had ever had the privilege of going beyond the limits of their own country or who knew anything about other people. Then, too, our republican institutions were regarded as experiments up to the breaking out of the rebellion, and monarchical Europe generally believed that our republic was a rope of sand that would part the moment the slightest strain was brought upon it. Now it has shown itself capable of dealing with one of the greatest wars that was ever made, and our people have proven themselves to be the most formidable in war of any nationality.


Has anything changed? Really?
The Great Conspiracy, Complete (1886)
by John Alexander Logan

"What next?" - you ask - "What next?" Alas, it is not difficult to predict! Power, lawlessly gained, is always mercilessly used. Power, usurped, is never tamely surrendered. The old French proverb, that "revolutions never go backward," is as true to-day, as when it was written. Already we see the signs of great preparations throughout the Solid South. Already we hear the shout of partisan hosts marshalled behind the leaders of the disarmed Rebellion, in order that the same old political organization which brought distress upon this Land shall again control the Government. Already the spirit of the former aggressiveness is defiantly bestirring itself. The old chieftains intend to take no more chances. They feel that their Great Conspiracy is now assured of success, inside the Union. They hesitate not to declare that the power once held by them, and temporarily lost, is regained. Like the Old Man of the Sea, they are now on top, and they:




  1. Thank you for bothering, Denis, love it

    1. Then it's already been worth it. I must admit I thought you'd like the poetry and its origin, if you'd never seen it before. It can simply be downloaded in text or possibly pdf straight to your computer as an alternative.

      Of course it is wonderful fun ploughing through it all, as it's a fraction of what's on offer daily. I have several gems unused. Time!!


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