I'm busy today, so here's a random post on yummy books
Because I am a nerd! La la la la la la!
I didn't bother posting an image of my oldest book (the History of France, by Nathanial William Wraxall -- 1796), as the binding isn't very decorative. The language, however, is wonderfully decorative and has all sorts of terribly useful historical information regarding: Domeftic Events and Quarrels, Internal Fermentation and Intrigues, Exercifes and Diverfions, Theatrical Exhibitions, Corruption of the Age, Libertinifm of Manners, Paffion for Duels, Murders and Affaffinations, the Want of Police in Paris, Banditti, Offences Againft Morals, Magic, Demoniacs, Belief in Prodigies, Inceft, Peftilential Diftempers, and Canine Madnefs!
(informative excerpts below)
on the common problem of canine madness:
"Among the fcourges or calamities of the time may juftly be reckoned the frequency and deplorable effects of canine madnefs, particularly in Paris. No meafures of efficacy feem to have been purfued, for preventing the accidents; and fo imperfectly was the method of cure underftood, that it was cuftomary, on the firft fymptoms of infanity... to anticipate its progrefs, by putting the perfon to death. The mode of doing it was ufually by fuffocation between two feather-beds, or by laudenum."
on blasphemy and offences against morals:
"Blafphemy was, in more than one inftance, punifhed with an ignominious death. A lunatic, who called himfelf Jefus Chrift, was, without any regard for the difordered ftate of his intellects, publickly executed in 1597. In 1604, a man, convicted of having uttered horrible and execrable blafphemies againft Jefus Chrift and his moft holy mother, was hanged, and afterwards burnt at Paris... Nor can we forbear obferving, that, in the examples above cited and preferved by l'Etoile, the culprits were all low mechanics, or waiters at places of vulgar diverfion..."
on the plague, pestilential distempers and leprous diseases:
"In Auguft 1603, we find near two thoufand perfons dying of it weekly....Margaret of Valois in 1606, after feeing three of the officers of her houfehold perifh before her eyes, was neceffitated to quit her palace in the capital."
"Henry the Fourth... inherited that of curing the diftemper known by the name of the king's evil. ... As early as Eafter Sunday 1594, only about a fortnight after the fubjection of Paris, he touched publickly... in the court of the Louvre, conformably to an antient cuftom, fix hundred and fixty poor perfons infected with the fcrophula."
"It appears from concurring teftimonies, that towards the end of the fixteenth century, the Spaniards were much more univerfally afflicted with cutaneous and leprous diftempers, than the French."
on magic and those put to death for it:
"In 1609, a prieft and a ftone-cutter, convicted of magic, were hanged and burnt in Paris. The former was proved to have laid faid the ritual of the mafs backwards, and to have facrificed to the devil many times under the gallows. He had affociated to himfelf as affiffants or novicates, a number of lawyers' clerks, peafants, and fheperds, under promife of teaching them occult fecrets of various kinds."
Those were the good old days...
UPDATE: I just have to say that I love this site.