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Fifth of November

Fifth of November

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In case you’re one of the many Americans who do not celebrate Guy Fawkes Day, let me catch you up on this exciting holiday celebrated throughout the British Commonwealth.

Way back in 1605, there was a plot made by the Catholics to set off some explosives and blow up the King of England as well as Parliament. Fortunately the conspirators were found out before the planned sabotage, and were executed along with their ringleader, Guy Fawkes. Today the holiday is celebrated the world around by bonfires and fireworks. The sentiment is well reflected in this famous rhyme:

Remember, remember, the fifth of November;
Fireworks, treason, and plot!
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

In commemoration of that event so many years ago, I have written an instrumental piece of music for the piano, bowed psaltery, and hammered dulcimer. Enjoy!

Thanks again, Google Books

Digenis AcritasAlthough you may have read with indifference my past post on the book Anthologia Graeca Carminum Christianorum, perhaps this will capture your fancy. Just today I was paging through the Google Books site when I discovered a classic favorite of mine, Digenis Acritas, which is an anonymous Byzantine epic written in Greek. I have read an English translation of it before, but the only full version I could find on Google Books was a side by side Greek poetry and French prose version.

If you know French, that’s great. If you know Greek, that’s even better. For me, I can read Greek a lot better than French, so I think I’ll just read the original this time. If you’d like to give it a shot as well, feel free to download this PDF of the book. All I did was take Google Books’ file and add PDF bookmarks for easier navigation, so here it is for free, only 13.7 MB: Les Exploits de DigĂ©nis Akritas

This version of the poem is from the Trabzon manuscript, which is one of the lesser-known manuscripts, though not the oldest. For a free book, I am quite impressed!

Economic & Political Precedents in 17th Century Virginia

As the first English colony established in North America, Virginia in many ways set the example which the rest of the colonies would follow. Although the investors of the joint-stock company who initially funded Virginia’s settlement were disappointed at its seeming failure in finding the things they had hoped for, it soon became apparent that a very valuable crop could be cultivated there, that is, tobacco. With John Rolfe’s discovery of a new method of drying the leaves, much profit was made in growing and selling this crop, and as more southern colonies were developed, they too grew tobacco.

One characteristic of this industry was the need to have large amounts of workers to cultivate the tobacco. With the initiation of the headright system, many people came from Europe as indentured servants. These were to work the land of the one who had paid for their voyage across, and after a certain amount of time (usually 6 to 10 years) they could own land of their own. As it happened, though, about 40% of these servants died before they could complete their indenture, and after many of them were gone, there was a need for additional laborers. As did Virginia, so did many of the other colonies, particularly those in the south.

When Virginia was established as a charter colony, it set a political precedent by basing its government on the will of the people. This was drastically different from Britain’s idea of “virtual representation,” and provided the American people with that taste of liberty that eventually led to independence. Read More

In Memory of Uncle Preston Lewallen

The hand of Providence having removed a friend of mine from the scenes of his temporal labors, and his friends and neighbors who profited by his examples being desirous of testifying their regards for his memory and expressing their earnest and affectionate sympathy with the broken household that survives him, we therefore tenderly condole with them in their bereavement and devoutly commend them to Him who looks with pity and compassion upon the widow and the fatherless.

“Uncle Press,” as everyone called him, was born in Jackson county, Alabama, January 13th, 1832. He spent his boyhood on the farm with the family until he reached manhood, when he married and began to cultivate and cherish the universal desire of humanity to make his imprint upon the world. But it seemed that Providence had willed a cruel and desolating war, and Alabama’s sons were to play their hand in the tragedy. Read More