Saturday, 22 September 2018

Mabon Meanderings

It is the time of the autumn equinox, and the harvest is winding down. The fields are nearly empty because the crops have been plucked and stored for the coming winter. Mabon is the mid-harvest festival, and it is the time of the second harvest of the year, and when the church celebrates with its harvest festival services.

But my thoughts turn to pagan images of the time of year, of the Greek legend of Persephone and Demeter, of the planets in the night sky, and the seasonal events, so this poem is more of a meandering route around a more pagan harvest festival

Mabon Meanderings

It is the golden Autumn, time of fall,
And a time for feasting in the hall:
Baskets of fruit, blackberry pies,
Warming meals in darkening skies;
Autumn leaves turn brown and gold,
A sign of times: the earth grows old;
As the apples fall, it’s cider time:
A warming drink in cooling clime;
The apple crusher now has juiced,
As wood thrush gently goes to roost ;
The time of rest, of nature’s sleep:
Persephone's promise now to keep;
Demeter's grief, the earth in chains,
And stronger winds, and heavy rains
So light the fires, and blankets warm,
A second harvest, before winter storm ,
Pick squashes, pumpkins, gourds, eggplant;
And time has come for sacred chant:
Praise the setting sun, the eternal light,
Praise the purple sky, the dim twilight,
And red mars rising, of times of war,
As the last of sun gleams on the shore;
Jupiter in majesty, the glorious king,
The crystal spheres, that turn and sing,
And Saturn, sign of the ancient of days,
Guide through the darkness, all our ways;
Praise the balance: same dark and light:
And the sun by day, and the moon by night ;
And now we walk in the shadow of death,
The wind blows strong, like sacred breath;
Take up your staff, walk without fear:
Beneath stars above, the night so clear.

Friday, 21 September 2018

This is Jersey - 1979 - Part 10

From 1979 comes this holiday guide - "This is Jersey". This is a flat brochure which is larger that the later glossy designs, and it doesn't have nearly as many pages - 16 double sided in all, including front and back covers.

It does provide a very interesting snapshot of the tourism scene in 1979, just as it was more or less at its peak, just before Bergerac launched, and before the package tour market and cheap holiday destinations abroad made Jersey's prices suddenly more expensive and the bottom fell out of the market.

Tourism is today rebuilding a new approach geared to the lifestyle of the modern tourist. It still has plenty to offer, but the old style of tourism probably won't sell today. But here's a chance to capture that flavour.

Beer Mat mania says this is "Small booklet with details of the brewery and advertisements". It was still being used to promote the beer in 1997, but instead of a fairly plain booklet, it was now done up to represent a real passport.

Ann Street remained a modest-sized business into the early 1970s. A turning point for the group came in 1971, when Ian Steven took over as the company's lead. Under Steven, Ann Street began developing its pub estate holdings, which grew to more than 100 across the Channel Islands. The company also entered the French market, acquiring L'Abeille, that country's leading supplier of private-label soft drinks for the French supermarket sector.

Into the 1990s, Ann Street, which was listed on the London Stock Exchange's main board, began seeking an extension onto the English mainland, building up a pub estate in southern England.

I've managed to track down this perfume, which actually came out in 1979.

Dioressence by Christian Dior is a Chypre fragrance for women. Dioressence was launched in 1979. The nose behind this fragrance is Guy Robert Top notes are aldehydes, orange, fruity notes, patchouli, green notes and bergamot; middle notes are carnation, tuberose, cinnamon, violet, orris root, jasmine. ylang-ylang, rose and geranium; base notes are musk, patchouli, benzoin, vanilla, oakmoss. vetiver and styrax,

Perfume rating: 424 out of 5 with 506 votes.

The Guide has this to say about shopping. This was before GST of course, and no naughty shops were adding VAT to their prices!

Holidays wouldn't really be proper holidays without a bout or two of shopping.

And Jersey shops are well worth discovering by the discerning shopper. Shopping is still a joy in Jersey. We have been fortunate in attracting only the best of the large British chain stores whilst still retaining many of those friendly, small shops where personal service actually means something and has been the password to their success.

Remember, too, that Value Added Tax does not apply in this island and Jersey's retailers are only too pleased to be able to pass on to you their cheaper prices.

In the crowded, narrow, streets of St. Helier you are certain to find the souvenir that is different, the hitherto hidden treasure, that you've been looking for.

Obviously the Island's capital, St. Helier, is the main shopping centre, but in recent years similar areas have sprung up at St. Brelade's, Five Oaks and at Gorey.

At Gorey, in the extreme east of the island, the shops and boutiques are set out along the quaint yachting and fishing harbour intermingled with impressive restaurants and a variety of bars.

If you are staying in the west of the Island then you may well prefer to do your shopping at Quennevais. Situated between the ever popular St. Brelade's Bay and the Airport the medley of little and big shops cover an interesting and huge range of goods.

To make your shopping in town even more enjoyable, part of the centre of St. Helier has been designated a pedestrians-only precinct and not merely designated as such but also partially reconstructed so that tubs of multi-hued flowers ease eyes wearied by souvenir hunting, whilst thoughtfully placed seats and benches are available to ease other portions of a tired shoppers anatomy. Or take your break in one of the myriad of places offering light refreshment.

Enjoy your shopping. Whether your taste runs to trendy boutiques or more traditional stores you'll find them all influenced by their dual nationality, a strange amalgam of English and French.

I have found very little about Douglas Jewellers Limited. One record says the company has Current status: Dissolved Dissolution date: 22.01.1985, and that appears to be the same one. A history of Broad Street mentions "Douglas Jewellers, which later became Town Jewellers", but the location in the advert is King Street. If anyone knows about Douglas Jewellers, or for that matter Douglas Brown (pictured wearing "Two Ronnies" style spectacles) please let me know.

Their website says:

"The oldest Chamber in the English speaking world Jersey Chamber was founded in 1768 and incorporated in 1900. It is dedicated to the promotion of trade, commerce and the general prosperity of Jersey and is the largest employer representative."

"From 1821, the headquarters of the Chamber were in the Royal Square. The property, gifted to the Chamber was retained for 180 years until the move to Pier Road."

Thursday, 20 September 2018

And so to bed

And so to bed... a few more of my Facebook closing quotes, all themed this time about night and sleep.

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Victor Hugo:

Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake. 

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Jodi Picoult:

Things don't always look as they seem. Some stars, for example, look like bright pinholes, but when you get them pegged under a microscope you find you're looking at a globular cluster—a million stars that, to us, presents as a single entity. 

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Robert Louis Stevenson:

The night is over like a dream:
The sea-birds cry and dip themselves:
And in the early sunlight, steam
The newly bared and dripping shelves,
Around whose verge the glassy wave
With lisping wash is heard to lave;
While, on the white tower lifted high,
The circling lenses flash and pass
With yellow light in faded glass
And sickly shine against the sky. 

And so to bed... quote for tonight is from Pythagoras:

Allow not sleep to close your eyes
Before three times reflecting on
Your actions of the day. What deeds
Done well, what not, what left undone?

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Flotsam and Jetsam

Flotsam and Jetsam

Catching up on my back catalogue of TV shows, at the weekend I watched “Narnia's Lost Poet: the Secret Lives and Loves of CS Lewis”

In this, CS Lewis's biographer AN Wilson goes in search of the man behind Narnia - best-selling children's author and famous Christian writer, but an under-appreciated Oxford academic and an aspiring poet who never achieved the same success in writing verse as he did prose.

The BBC website notes:

“Although his public life was spent in the all-male world of Oxford colleges, his private life was marked by secrecy and even his best friend JRR Tolkien didn't know of his marriage to an American divorcee late in life. Lewis died on the same day as the assassination of John F Kennedy and few were at his burial - his alcoholic brother was too drunk to tell people the time of the funeral. Fifty years on, his life as a writer is now being remembered alongside other national literary heroes in Westminster Abbey's Poets' Corner.”

“In this personal and insightful film, Wilson paints a psychological portrait of a man who experienced fame in the public arena, but whose personal life was marked by the loss of the three women he most loved.”

Those three women were his mother, who died of cancer when he was very young, Mrs Moore, whom he had vowed to look after in a pact with his trenches comrade Paddy Moore. The young men promised each other that if one of them were to be killed in combat, the other would look after his friend’s parent. And Joy Davidman, whom he met and fell in love with, one bittersweet sunset romance portrayed best in the BBC Everyman Drama “Shadowlands” (much better than the later movie).

Lucy Mangan, writing in the Guardian, said that Wilson presented a loving tribute to his subject:

“It created a beautifully appropriate air of loving respect both for the man and his art, that was as much of a tribute to him as the plaque just unveiled in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey. You were surprised by the joy indeed.”

I knew most of this about Lewis, but what came as a complete surprise to me was the stained glass window in St Mark’s Church, Belfast. 

St. Mark’s church still stands today in the Dundela area of East Belfast. It was established in 1874 and has close links with the Lewis family. C S Lewis’s maternal grandfather the Reverend Thomas Hamilton was the first rector here from 1878-1905. It was in this church that C S Lewis was baptised by his grandfather in 1899 and also later took confirmation.

Jack and Warnie came back to St. Marks in 1935 to dedicate a stained glass window to their parents. The Latin inscription translates as;

‘To the greater glory of God and dedicated to the memory of Albert James Lewis, who died on the 25th September 1929, aged 67, and also of his wife, Flora Augusta Hamilton, who died on the 23rd August 1908, aged 47.’

Songs of Praise

As the RAF marks its centenary, last Sunday saw Aled Jones at the Rhyl Air Show in north Wales to hear the extraordinary stories of two Second World War pilots, Welsh local hero David Lord, who was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross, and 97-year-old Ernie Holmes, a Lancaster bomber pilot who miraculously survived being shot down over occupied territory. 

Jamie Buchan September writing in the Courier, tells the story of that fateful night in May 1944: 

“Ernie Holmes, 97, was on the way home from a night-time bombing raid in Germany when his aircraft was attacked by the enemy. The Lancaster crashed over the Netherlands, killing five members of the eight-man crew.”

Ernie himself describes the events as he remembers them:

“We dropped our load and we had the target burning,” Ernie told him. “And then we started our way back home by a different route, and it was on the way back, all we heard was the roar of our engines.

“It was dark then suddenly, there’s a vibration and a sound and then a fire broke out in the starboard wing.”

He said: “I realised I’d lost control of the aircraft.

“Meantime, number three engine was tearing itself to bits, exploding, throwing bits around. I called out to my crew: bail out, bail out.

“But before this happened there was… an explosion and I woke up. The cabin had gone, I was hanging off the nose of the aircraft but still strapped to my seat.”

He managed to open his parachute and land in a woodland.

“A girl came by riding a bicycle,” he said. “She said ‘Gude Morgen’ to me and I knew straight away I was in Holland, not Germany, not Belgium. She pointed to the corn, she wanted me to hide.”

Ernie was taken in by farmer Fons van der Heijden, a member of the Dutch resistance.

He left to escape back to England, but was later caught and imprisoned by the Germans as he tried to reach home.

And tragically, in a vindictive last act of vengeance, just days before the region was liberated, Fons – who had harboured many service men – was taken out of church by Nazis and shot.

Ernie said: “These were good people who risked their lives, risked everything, to keep me safe.”

Paying tribute to the farmer who saved him, he said: “There is no greater love, than he who will give himself for another.”

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Advances In Knowledge – Part 1 by Clement Attlee

This is an interesting chapter. Attlee is well aware of the changes that have improved the lives of ordinary people, but he is also well aware of how our own society – because we are part of it – tends to make us less able to see what we need to do.

This is something which C.S. Lewis also mentions, when talking about writers and their background:

“All contemporary writers share to some extent the contemporary outlook—even those, like myself, who seem most opposed to it. Nothing strikes me more when I read the controversies of past ages than the fact that both sides were usually assuming without question a good deal which we should now absolutely deny. They thought that they were as completely opposed as two sides could be, but in fact they were all the time secretly united—united with each other and against earlier and later ages—by a great mass of common assumptions.”

Lewis suggests that there is our own “characteristic blindness” because we are part of our society and therefore find it hard to see it “from the outside”. And Attlee gives some pointers towards these – his society “allowed huge slum-areas” to exist.

In Jersey, we may perhaps see this in the furore which the new regulations concerning the state of housing have met with concerted resistance on the part of landlords. The president of the Jersey Landlords Association, Robert Weston, says the law is "wholly unnecessary" and "terribly vague". The Association says that the law is being passed "without knowing what is likely to become illegal and what is likely to become a legal obligation".

So what does it involve? The JEP makes it clear in its summary:

“The minimum standards, which would be introduced by ministerial order, would consist of 29 potential hazards against which premises would be assessed on a formal scoring system. These would include damp, mould growth and unsafe staircases. Landlords would also need to ensure that smoke and carbon monoxide alarms had been fitted, and that adequate safety checks on gas and electricity services had been carried out.”

These are not vague, as the picture above shows – they are clear deficiencies, and what I didn’t notice in the landlord’s defence of the status quo was how they would police the kind of disreputable dwelling. This has been going on for decades, and like Attlee points out, it is a social evil “to which we have become accustomed, and which is rarely noticed”

The second point I’d like to note is Attlee’s discussion of economics, which he criticises as often so taken up with an “abstract concept of labour” as to forget the human beings that are the subject of economics, and their basic needs.

He is pointing towards what E.F. Schumacher would later raise in his book – “Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered.”. And while Attlee sees the State as an agent of change in intervening, it is people who are important at the end of the day, which is where change must be practice, directed to specific ends, to make a better society for everyone.

To come back to the subject of rental standards, the Landlord's Association has had decades to tidy up their act and bring some kind of self-regulation to prevent slum housing in Jersey. Their failure means the State has to act as an agent of change and intervene.

Advances In Knowledge – Part 1
By Clement Attlee

Looking back on the conditions of the early part of last century and reading of the years of effort that it took to prevent small children, even under seven years of age, from being worked for fourteen or fifteen hours a day in factories and mines, we are amazed at the callousness with which such a state of affairs was regarded, and can hardly conceive how people who were, as we can see, in other affairs intelligent, reasonably humane and enlightened, should not have instantly protested.

Yet at the same time we are ourselves indifferent to numbers of evils to which we have become accustomed, and which are rarely noticed. Probably in a future time it will seem amazing to our descendants that we should have allowed huge slum-areas like East and South London, the Lancashire towns, or the mining villages, to remain for years without taking real action to abolish them. We all imagine that if we had been present in Jerusalem we should not have voted for Barabbas.

In our criticisms of the social workers of the past we are apt to forget how great has been the increase in knowledge since their day. The careful dissection and investigation of social phenomena is a comparatively modern achievement, but it has perhaps done more than any single factor to change the outlook of men and women on social problems.

Early reformers were working in the dark, grappling with evils that had come on society with great suddenness. The causes underlying social discontents had not been investigated, and even the facts were not known to more than a few.

To-day the social worker can profit by the labours of his predecessor, the ground has been explored and mapped out. Research has been made into almost every phase of poverty, and many of its causes have been elucidated.

The older type of social worker was mainly endeavouring to deal with results: he saw that people were hungry, or ill-clad, or sick, and his first impulse was to provide food, clothing and medicine. The existence of classes of the community habitually in this state was taken for granted, and the reasons why they were so were not investigated.

The result too often was that the remedy, dealing as it did with symptoms only, was as bad as the disease. In the same way, many social reformers did not sufficiently realise that the evil which appeared to them to be a cause was in itself only a result. Thus the prevalence of drunkenness would be asserted as a prime cause of poverty, without considering whether in fact drunkenness itself was not due to bad conditions of work, a degrading environment, or the general greyness of life.

During the nineteenth century a great advance was made in the science of preventive medicine. Instead of being concerned almost entirely with healing disease after it had arisen, medical science turned to the improvement of the environment, and the prevention of disease arising. Thus the recognition that a whole group of diseases were bred in the slums, and were due to a low standard of life, led to the public health agitation, and the passing of legislation promoting sanitary reform which has done far more to improve the health of the urban population than any great advances in curative methods.

By analogy from this in social matters we can see that unemployment, for instance, is a disease of an industrial society in our present stage of development, and that no amount of provision for individual men and women will take the place of the removal as far as possible of its causes. In the words of Mr. Sidney Webb it is no good hammering on the bulge, the direct method is often the ineffective one.

There are numbers of social workers who find in the work of research and investigation the best outlet for their desire for social service. Some may be chiefly engaged in investigation into the psychological effects of certain pieces of social machinery, others in the machinery itself. It is almost a distinct motive in itself, this desire to see the machinery of society running smoothly and cleanly.

Such a feeling can be seen running through the works of Mr. H. G. Wells, where he exhibits the disgust of an orderly and scientific mind at the wasteful and chaotic nature of our social arrangements. One has only to compare his Utopias with that of William Morris to see the difference between the scientific and aesthetic appeals to social service. In those of the former the emphasis is on the mechanism of society, and the possibilities of harnessing the forces of nature in order to make attainable a fine life for human beings are worked out in considerable detail and with great imagination. In Morris, on the other hand, there is little attention to the machinery of society, but a very keen realisation of the sort of life he thought best for people.

Thus the scientific motive takes its place as one of the incentives that lead men to devote themselves to social service, and the great influence of the scientific investigator on the methods of social reformers, and on the outlook of those engaged in social work, must be acknowledged.

It has been pointed out above how much the doctrines of the classical economists hampered the efforts of social reformers by practically forbidding all action by the State outside the narrowest lines.

Economics became known as the dismal science : it was thought to be opposed to the efforts of the more earnest reformers, and to render futile all the endeavours of the working classes to improve their industrial position :hence the vehement attacks on it by Ruskin and others. At one time it seemed as if economic science had got entirely out of touch with human life: it had become abstract and academic.

To the man who keenly realised the evils of the industrial system the doctrines of the classical economists seemed to offer little hope of better things. He read for instance of the fluidity of labour, and that if labour was displaced from one industry it would flow to wherever it was needed; that if new processes and increased machinery were introduced, in the long run more men would be employed; but to the man in touch with the sufferings of the unemployed this was cold comfort, for he knew that the long run was often fatal to the man with the short purse.

The economist did not seem to realise that the abstract concept of labour consisted of a number of human beings who were in fact the greater part of the nation. Political economy seemed to be inhuman, in laying stress on how commodities could be most cheaply produced, without enquiring what would be the effect on social conditions.

From this position the science has been rescued through the work of the practical social worker, the experimenter, and the investigator. The transition from the earlier to the later views of J. S. Mill marks the turning of the tide, and since that time the science has become more and more social. It has become the hopeful science.

This changed outlook has been reflected in the policy of the country in regard to social questions.

From complete freedom of contract we have moved to an ever increasing state regulation of conditions. The earlier efforts at regulation of hours of labour, wages, and conditions of work were regarded at the time as rather regrettable exceptional provisions, introduced for the protection of certain classes who were especially weak, women and children. To-day the idea of a minimum wage and a maximum working day is almost generally accepted.

In the same way during the last thirty years the work of the organised community in local affairs has steadily increased, and the question whether a certain industry should be carried on by individual enterprise or collective effort is decided more on grounds of practical convenience than general principle.

Where formerly it was considered that the State was a sort of referee who kept the ring wherein contending individualities had full scope for contest, we now have the conception that it is the duty of the State to act as the co-ordinating factor in making all individual efforts work for the good of the citizens.

Monday, 17 September 2018

A Deputy Apologises

Deputy John Young has been very busy, and failed to reply to an email, which prompted one
individual to post this on Facebook.

"Why do we vote for anyone in the elections??? You email them and not only do they not respond but they don’t even acknowledge your email. I will be thinking very carefully before I vote for someone again ūüė° this was approximately 6 weeks ago and I only sent 1 email, what a waste of time and he’s my deputy in my parish!!!!!"

Notice that this criticism was made in a group which is open to members only to post, but open to the general public to view any postings. It is in the public domain. It would seem sensible then, as long as he didn’t mention specifics about the email – which he didn’t – that the Deputy might make a response online, and indeed he did.

But they were not best pleased because he had made a response in the public domain, albeit in general terms which mentioned nothing about the content of their email, and they claimed he was breaking Data Protection.

There is a lot of misinformation and sheer nonsense floating around on Data Protection. I was asked, in all seriousness, by Reg Langlois whether our Parish Magazine should not show names of births, marriages and deaths in the Parish. I did point out that no other Parish magazine does that, but we do publish the odd obituary of notable Parishioners.

But I also pointed out there is a Data Protection issue – if we published names of births and marriages, we would be breaking Data Protection. Reg pointed out that the JEP did so. And this is where the Data Protection Law comes in to our first story, because the JEP can publish those (which they do so for a fee) because they are contracting to do so – a family member involved sends them details to put in. If you do that, you waive your right to Data Protection – you are putting the names in the public domain.

And so the fact that this constituent sent an email to John Young is no longer subject to Data Protection, because she has put that information in the public domain. This is not about the content of the email, but the fact. She complained that “A public forum is NOT for replying to emails!!!”, but he didn’t give a reply involving details (which would be a breach), just an apology, and she was the run who raised the matter.

In the end, she lost interest and told me “I am not continuing with this as actually it’s nothing to do with you!” which is a strange attitude to take when she was the one to put the matter up on Facebook, in the public domain, for everyone to see. If you put something there for anyone to view and comment on, it is, I am afraid, very something to do with me and anyone else. If you don't want a public comment, don't post it in a public place.

I suspect that what she was after was some point scoring, not a measured response which took the wind out of her sails, and that was why she was so aggrieved.

And what of John Young’s apology? Having mentioned it, I think it only fair that it gets an airing here too:

“Mea Culpa I owe you and others an apology. Since taking Ministerial office three months into what is arguably the widest states portfolio covering all Planning , environment functions right across the island I have found difficulty in keeping up with and managing constituency business because of extreme workload and the conflicts created by my role - I cannot be the arbiter of independent planning decisions and represent either applicants or objectors in planning applications which I have always done and worked hard for both , and be the person who has the legal responsibility of deciding the appeals. “

“In the first three months my diary has been absolutely logged every day jammed with meetings requested by many interest groups on policy matters. I am not alone in this effect of our ministerial system. However It particularly effects single constituency members where there no backup. In addition our civil service has been completely reorganised in the new structure and it is no secret that gaps are opening in the administration.”

“But all of that is no excuse, only an explanation. You are entitled to better service and I am seeking to put in place new arrangements which will help. Once again my apologies. I hope to do better when things settle.”

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Ignorance and Superstition by G.K Chesterton

A lesser known piece by G.K. Chesterton in which he argues that myths about gods and goddesses attribited to natural phenemona did not emerge from ignorance of scientific facts but "are the abrupt expressions of unique spiritual experiences, quiet and queerly coloured moods; dreams and glimpses that do really lie on the borderline between this existence and some other."

George Fraser 's "Golden Bough" which he alludes to, not only looked upon mythology as the superstition of an earlier age, but also tended to gloss over differences in myths for the purpose of producing a "common mythology". Fraser glossed over so much to prove his point that most of his work is of a superficial quality, and has largely been disregarded by modern anthopologists.

Ignorance and Superstition
By G.K. Chesterton
It is customary for cultivated people from century to century to set up some artistic fashion and pretend to be more old-world or natural than they are. Thus the French noblesse played at being old Greek shepherds and shepherdesses; for the rich are always craving for barbarism while the poor are always pushing (rather blindly) for more civilisation.

Within our own memory drawing-rooms have been full of dismal people in dingy garments who were supposed (I hardly know why) to recall the gay colours and coarse virtues of the Middle Ages.

If ever I adopted one of these barbaric affectations it would be one which has been, I think, undeservedly neglected. In the British Museum, while others are admiring the bleak busts of Caesars or the placid horrors of Assyria, I always stray to a kindlier and more homely department.

I am found worshipping the hairy and goggle-eyed images from the Sandwich Islands; idols to which I really feel a man might bow down. For the beautiful Gods of Greece are cruel; but one always feels that an ugly god might be kind.

If therefore I ever arrange my house on one artistic plan (which God forbid) it shall be on a rugged Polynesion plan; it shall be on a goggle-eyed and hairy sort of plan. Everything I hear about these savages attracts me to them more and more. 

It is vain to tell me that under such a regime the man will be lazy and fond of pleasure while the woman is hard-working and practical; for that is already the case in the house which I inhabit at present. I do not mind painting myself; in fact, I never can paint anything else without doing so. If I colour so much as a cardboard figure for a toy theatre, I emerge painted like the leaves of autumn, painted like the sky of morning, as it says in Hiawatha.

I cannot imagine how the strange notion arose that ignorance is the origin of superstitions. It is true indeed, if we mean ignorance in the same sense that Plato and Bacon were ignorant; the common ignorance of all men about the meaning of their monstrous destiny.

But if this be intended, the phrase that ignorance is the origin of all superstitions is a coarse and misleading way of stating the case. It would be much truer to say that agnosticism is the origin of all religions. That is true; the agnostic is at the beginning not the end of human progress.

But those who speak of superstitions born of ignorance generally mean that myths and mystical assertions have arisen from mere accidental or animal incapacity to realise all the circumstances of the case.

The old Victorian scientific theory was that men invented fairy tales because they had not yet grasped facts. They thought the moon was a woman because they had not the sense enough to see it was a moon. They thought the sea was a god because no kind scientist had ever passed by and pointed out that it was really the sea. They worshipped a stone as a fetish because their lack of geological knowledge prevented them from noting that it was a stone.

They were so dull, inexperienced and narrowly materialistic that they could see no difference between a crackle in the clouds and a ringing hammer hurled by a red-headed giant; between a spat of yellow fire in the sky and a young god driving horses.

That is the materialistic theory of myths, and it is manifest nonsense.

Nobody could ever have thought that the moon looked like a woman, even of the amplest contours. Nobody can ever have thought that the sun looked like a carriage and pair, because it doesn't. If they used these terms in connection with sun or moon, mountain or river, rock or tree, they were certainly not using them because they knew no better.

On the contrary, they were using them because they knew something much better; because a woman is more beautiful than moonlight and a young man more splendid than the sun.

This is essentially admitted about such fables as those of Phoebus and Artemis; or even Balder and Thor; here it is vaguely conceded that `poets' and not mere ignorant savages, have had something to do with the matter. But what the folklorists of the Fraser type will not see is that the ruder savages also are poets; even if they are minor poets.

All that they say about their totems, their taboos, their dances, and services to the dead must be understood with a certain poetic sympathy, as meant to be weird, glorious, shocking, or even impossible.

They are the abrupt expressions of unique spiritual experiences, quiet and queerly coloured moods; dreams and glimpses that do really lie on the borderline between this existence and some other.

If a savage says that a pepper-plant is his divine great-grandmother, he is not speaking from ignorance, for ignorance would leave him with the bare knowledge that it was a pepper-plant. Rather he is speaking from knowledge, fragmentary and perhaps dangerous knowledge. He may have seen something about a pepper-plant that it is better not to see.

There is one really tremendous question. The savage respecting the pepper-plant, the idolator adoring the stone, the sage choosing his star, the patriot dying for a boundary, all do unmistakably mean something--something far down in the abysses of the universe and the soul. Do they mean that everything is sacred? Or do they perhaps mean that something is sacred--something they have not found?