Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Around the World in Eighty Days

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XIII, Issue IV

Around the World in 80 Days
By Jules Verne, Chapter II

In which Passepartout is Convinced that he has at Last Found His Ideal

Faith,” muttered Passepartout, somewhat flurried, “I’ve seen people at Madame Tussaud’s as lively as my new master!”

Madame Tussaud’s “people,” let it be said, are of wax, and are much visited in London; speech is all that is wanting to make them human.

During his brief interview with Mr. Fogg, Passepartout had been carefully observing him. He appeared to be a man about forty years of age, with fine, handsome features, and a tall, well-shaped figure; his hair and whiskers were light, his forehead compact and unwrinkled, his face rather pale, his teeth magnificent. His countenance possessed in the highest degree what physiognomists call “repose in action,” a quality of those who act rather than talk. Calm and phlegmatic, with a clear eye, Mr. Fogg seemed a perfect type of that English composure which Angelica Kauffmann has so skilfully represented on canvas. Seen in the various phases of his daily life, he gave the idea of being perfectly well-balanced, as exactly regulated as a Leroy chronometer. Phileas Fogg was, indeed, exactitude personified, and this was betrayed even in the expression of his very hands and feet; for in men, as well as in animals, the limbs themselves are expressive of the passions.

He was so exact that he was never in a hurry, was always ready, and was economical alike of his steps and his motions. He never took one step too many, and always went to his destination by the shortest cut; he made no superfluous gestures, and was never seen to be moved or agitated. He was the most deliberate person in the world, yet always reached his destination at the exact moment.

He lived alone, and, so to speak, outside of every social relation; and as he knew that in this world account must be taken of friction, and that friction retards, he never rubbed against anybody.

As for Passepartout, he was a true Parisian of Paris. Since he had abandoned his own country for England, taking service as a valet, he had in vain searched for a master after his own heart. Passepartout was by no means one of those pert dunces depicted by Moliere with a bold gaze and a nose held high in the air; he was an honest fellow, with a pleasant face, lips a trifle protruding, soft-mannered and serviceable, with a good round head, such as one likes to see on the shoulders of a friend. His eyes were blue, his complexion rubicund, his figure almost portly and well-built, his body muscular, and his physical powers fully developed by the exercises of his younger days. His brown hair was somewhat tumbled; for, while the ancient sculptors are said to have known eighteen methods of arranging Minerva’s tresses, Passepartout was familiar with but one of dressing his own: three strokes of a large-tooth comb completed his toilet.

It would be rash to predict how Passepartout’s lively nature would agree with Mr. Fogg. It was impossible to tell whether the new servant would turn out as absolutely methodical as his master required; experience alone could solve the question. Passepartout had been a sort of vagrant in his early years, and now yearned for repose; but so far he had failed to find it, though he had already served in ten English houses. But he could not take root in any of these; with chagrin, he found his masters invariably whimsical and irregular, constantly running about the country, or on the look-out for adventure. His last master, young Lord Longferry, Member of Parliament, after passing his nights in the Haymarket taverns, was too often brought home in the morning on policemen’s shoulders. Passepartout, desirous of respecting the gentleman whom he served, ventured a mild remonstrance on such conduct; which, being ill-received, he took his leave. Hearing that Mr. Phileas Fogg was looking for a servant, and that his life was one of unbroken regularity, that he neither travelled nor stayed from home overnight, he felt sure that this would be the place he was after. He presented himself, and was accepted, as has been seen.

At half-past eleven, then, Passepartout found himself alone in the house in Saville Row. He begun its inspection without delay, scouring it from cellar to garret. So clean, well-arranged, solemn a mansion pleased him; it seemed to him like a snail’s shell, lighted and warmed by gas, which sufficed for both these purposes. When Passepartout reached the second story he recognised at once the room which he was to inhabit, and he was well satisfied with it. Electric bells and speaking-tubes afforded communication with the lower stories; while on the mantel stood an electric clock, precisely like that in Mr. Fogg’s bedchamber, both beating the same second at the same instant. “That’s good, that’ll do,” said Passepartout to himself.

He suddenly observed, hung over the clock, a card which, upon inspection, proved to be a programme of the daily routine of the house. It comprised all that was required of the servant, from eight in the morning, exactly at which hour Phileas Fogg rose, till half-past eleven, when he left the house for the Reform Club — all the details of service, the tea and toast at twenty-three minutes past eight, the shaving-water at thirty-seven minutes past nine, and the toilet at twenty minutes before ten. Everything was regulated and foreseen that was to be done from half-past eleven a.m. till midnight, the hour at which the methodical gentleman retired.

Mr. Fogg’s wardrobe was amply supplied and in the best taste. Each pair of trousers, coat, and vest bore a number, indicating the time of year and season at which they were in turn to be laid out for wearing; and the same system was applied to the master’s shoes. In short, the house in Saville Row, which must have been a very temple of disorder and unrest under the illustrious but dissipated Sheridan, was cosiness, comfort, and method idealised. There was no study, nor were there books, which would have been quite useless to Mr. Fogg; for at the Reform two libraries, one of general literature and the other of law and politics, were at his service. A moderate-sized safe stood in his bedroom, constructed so as to defy fire as well as burglars; but Passepartout found neither arms nor hunting weapons anywhere; everything betrayed the most tranquil and peaceable habits.

Having scrutinised the house from top to bottom, he rubbed his hands, a broad smile overspread his features, and he said joyfully, “This is just what I wanted! Ah, we shall get on together, Mr. Fogg and I! What a domestic and regular gentleman! A real machine; well, I don’t mind serving a machine.”
(to be continued)

Elysian Lilies
Photos by Bob Kirchman

Elysian Lilies I

Elysian Lilies I

Elysian Lilies I

Elysian Lilies I

Building a Better World
By Bob Kirchman

The Summer Reading Program at the Augusta County Library caught my attention. The theme was 'Building a Better World.' I eagerly went to their web page in the hopes of finding some of the excitement that had propelled me towards literature as a young person. I was a bit disappointed that the program description on the website merely told the young people that if they kept a log of their reading hours that they would be in the running for prizes to be announced at the end of the Summer.

Now there is nothing wrong with logging one's reading hours in itself, if one so desires. And there is nothing wrong with giving out incentives, but as one who avoided such programs like the plague myself, I'd like to open this up for discussion.

When I was a young fourth grader, a kindly librarian opened up new worlds for me by freeing me from the restrictions of 'age appropriate' literature. She led me to a section for older readers and helped me pick out a book about people exploring Mars. She freed me from the twattle that was bogging down so many of my peers. At home, my Dad would read to me from a big volume of King Arthur. I am happy to see my son-in-law reading the same to my granddaughter. There was an exciting world to explore that not everyone wanted me to have access to. I was shown a path and it led to adventure.

I discovered Gulliver's Travels and wondered at imagining myself a friendly giant to a similar people. I discovered Tom Swift and his endless parade of outlandish inventions. I discovered Jules Verne and his Voyages Exraordinaires! It would be years before I grasped that Gulliver's Travels was a political satire and other fine points, but the seed had been planted. My enthusiasm, though dulled by the school system's required reading program for classes, was rekindled when I discovered C. S. Lewis and Tolkien!

The Voyages extraordinaires (literally Extraordinary Voyages or Extraordinary Journeys) is a sequence of fifty-four novels by the French writer Jules Verne, originally published between 1863 and 1905.

According to Verne's editor Pierre-Jules Hetzel, the goal of the Voyages was "to outline all the geographical, geological, physical, and astronomical knowledge amassed by modern science and to recount, in an entertaining and picturesque format ... the history of the universe."

Verne's meticulous attention to detail and scientific trivia, coupled with his sense of wonder and exploration, form the backbone of the Voyages. Part of the reason for the broad appeal of his work was the sense that the reader could really learn knowledge of geology, biology, astronomy, paleontology, oceanography and the exotic locations and cultures of world through the adventures of Verne's protagonists. This great wealth of information distinguished his works as "encyclopedic novels".Wikipedia

The stories of Les Voyages Extraordinaires were originally published as serials in magazines. Later they would find their place as lavishly illustrated special editions but the point is that they had a more organic beginning than much of today's literature. They are fascinating because they are predictive of a fair amount of modern invention and technology. No doubt, if I were in charge of the library program, I would be engaging the services of local radio voice John Ihrig to read passages from Jules Verne. There would be a Fantastic Flying Machine contest and other events to inspire.

La Minerve was designed by the French aeronaut Etienne Robertson in 1803. Robertson's self-contained aerial community represents the hopes which many Europeans had in the bright future of air travel. This modern model of Robertson's design is in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

To be fair, I did not actually follow up with the library. Hopefully their program incorporates such elements but if I were running it, they would be front and center on the website. If I'm a reluctant reader, I'm simply not getting past the hours logging. I work with young people and. they tell me straight-up that nobody reads anymore. Films are their literature. I've challenged a few of them that they can get past this. There are those young people who have actually been in my studio who are avid readers and who can discuss it well.

Then there is PONTIFUS. I was a bit distressed by the over-saturation of the youth offerings with dystopian themes, particularly as I saw that the noble ideals that once propelled our society were being discredited in the academy. A number of people in our church seemed preoccupied with the 'Prepper' movement and as a result were (perhaps unthinkingly) no longer offering hope based in timeless truth to our young people. So PONTIFUS is my feeble attempt to offer the possibility of building a better world. It was quite inspired by Verne's Voyages Extraordinaires, for it is predictive of a new inventiveness leading to a 'New World' in the tundra regions. It incorporates ideas I have found in sources such as City Journal and elsewhere that point to new horizons.

I did not write PONTIFUS to sell books. I do not even know if it is good enough to stand as literature, but like Les Voyages, it is encyclopedic of things I would pass along to young hearts in the world today. It is important to me as a repository for that body of ideas. I realize now that it is something I HAD to write... something burning within me. That is a desire to build for young people a bridge to the Kingdom that for me inspires those lofty aspirations!

Tiger Swallowtail
Magic Garden Visitor. Photo by Bob Kirchman

J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis
Reconciling Reason and Imagination

Two friends, J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis had a common love of the great myth. The two observed that for many centuries cultures communicated their greatest truths through myth and legend. They lamented the rational society they lived in’s relegation of these myths to ‘children’s stories,’ as they knew grown men and women… even great warriors relished these tales and the great thoughts they conveyed. These tales connected emotionally with their readers and tellers. These stories contained great insight into life and truth that could be observed as well as providing a glimpse into the world unseen, the spiritual realm.

Before coming to faith in Christ, Lewis lamented to Tolkien that it was a shame that the great myths were not true. Tolkien responded that they indeed contained great truths, and walking on Addison’s Walk on the grounds of Magdalen College, Tolkien helped the struggling Lewis reconcile reason and imagination. “The Gospels had all the qualities of great human storytelling. But they portrayed a true event - God the storyteller entered his own story, in the flesh, and brought a joyous conclusion from a tragic situation. Suddenly Lewis could see that the nourishment he had always received from great myths and fantasy stories was a taste of the greatest, truest story — of the life, death and resurrection of Christ.” —Chris Armstrong writes in Christianity Today. Lewis and Tolkien insisted that reason and imagination must be integrated — in any understanding of truth, the whole person must be satisfied.

In 1936 J. R. R. Tolkien had just written The Hobbit and the two friends began to think of a scheme to reignite myth in modern culture. They decided upon science fiction as a vehicle of ‘modern myth’ and assigned themselves topics that would inspire serious works for modern readers. Lewis would write about ‘Space Travel’ and Tolkien ‘Time Travel.’ Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength — the “Space Trilogy” or the “Ransom Trilogy” was Lewis’s offering for ‘Space Travel.’ It fictionalizes a very serious line of thought that he develops in The Abolition of Man, which is really just the publication of a series of lectures he delivered.

Tolkien’s Trilogy became The Lord of the Rings and departed somewhat from the assignment, but it is a great work that has become a classic mythology for modern readers. Tolkien and Lewis sought most of all to bring the type of literature they themselves loved to modern readers. Tolkien himself said to Lewis: “I relish stories that survey the depths of space and time.” I discovered Lewis’s Narnia as a young adult and it brought me to a deeper feeling/understanding of my own faith. My young granddaughter knows these stories as a child and her world is the richer for it. In my youth I had read quite a bit of Jules Verne’s Voyages Extraordinaire and they certainly fueled my imagination. In Around the World in Eighty Days he deals not so much with time travel per se, but the concept of global travel and the ‘lost’ day.

The Inuit live on both sides of the International Date Line. Before travel was restricted by the world's two great superpowers they could literally cross the Bering Strait into another day. Journey to Jesus Mural by Kristina Elaine Greer and Bob Kirchman

Looking at a mural that I was painting with Kristina Elaine Greer of the world’s children ‘around the globe’ that point where you can literally ‘step into tomorrow’ became the inspiration for what I originally intended as a short story — Dinner Stop at the End of the World which originally offered itself as an alternative to some of the dystopian apocalyptic ‘Christian’ literature that was coming out at the time. I was notably concerned that there were people in Bible studies I knew taking all too seriously the work of one author in particular who mixed mysticism with prophecy to create a bit of an alarmist message as his protagonist would continually meet a mysterious ‘prophet’ figure who would give him a new piece of the ‘puzzle’ concerning the judgement of America. It was an intriguing work of fiction — not much on plot, mind you, but it did get you thinking about Biblical prophecy. The problems I had with it were twofold, first of all it created a dark scenario and did not offer much in the way of light or hope. Secondly, it based much of its proclamations not so much on scripture but a form of mysticism that is found in Judaism.

It wasn’t that great a story. Still, the author was appearing on Jim Bakker’s show (yes, he’s still around) and his message was punctuated by advertisements for ‘survival food.’ The publisher produced a companion ‘study guide.’ People were actually directing their lives in response to an interesting work of fiction! What I found tragic was that we were putting aside the inspiration of the younger generation who must have dismissed a lot of this adult behavior as ‘over the top.’ I’m not writing this to dump on someone who’s published a lot of books but rather to say that he did me one great favor — he pushed me to write out of my own imagination and yes a sense of reason that is rooted in the 23rd Psalm which states that “The Lord is my shepherd.” That drove me to do my own study of history. I found that though indeed there were terrible things that sinful man had done, there were the great stories of Redemption as well. Redemption, I would discover, is the ultimate story of time travel for it takes us from death to life — from finite existence to the very doorway to eternity. my own little story grew into PONTIFUS.

APOLLONIUS is my attempt to delve into ’Space Travel.’ As in PONTIFUS, I find myself looking to Lewis a lot… as to Jules Verne who had been my inspiration in youth. I used to draw fanciful flying machines and such. But in all of this, I rather liken to fancy a conversation ongoing at ‘Eagle and Child’ that can inspire us even in our day. Sitting on top of a mountain in Shenandoah Park with my friend Ebenezer Murengezi, we met a hiker. He walked up to the place we were sitting — a gentleman from Alaska, the son of dairy farmers, and he was hiking the entire Appalachian Trail. We were enjoying pleasant conversation when Ebenezer and I remarked at how much nature showed you the wonder of God. “What do you think?” Ebenezer asked the gentleman. “I’m a scientist.” he replied. By that he meant he had no use for our “fables.” He said he had believed as a child but that he was taught “better” by the university he attended. I asked him if he’d ever simply asked God to show Himself to him and he said “I’ve already been there.” I replied “Perhaps God hasn’t finished yet.” At this point the poor gentleman made a hasty exit. I bring this up merely to point out that I DON’T think the issue was resolved for him. In the realm of Reason, God had been discarded. In the realm of Imagination, however, questions had NOT been sufficiently put to rest.

Lewis had his childhood faith put to rest by his mentor William Kirkpatrick, or "The Great Knock," who appears in the Narnia books as Digory Kirk — and far more open to possibilities beyond our world because he’s been there. It was that time of rediscovery with Tolkien that brought C. S. Lewis to great faith. I pray that the gentleman we met on the mountain will find his J. R. R. Tolkien, The resolution of reason and imagination, and most of all FAITH!

Magnolia Blossom
Photos by Bob Kirchman

Magnolia Blossom

Magnolia Blossom

Magnolia Blossom

Day Lily
Photos by Bob Kirchman

Day Lily

Day Lily

Day Lily


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Phantasies, Around the World in 80 Days

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XIII, Issue III

By George Macdonald, Chapter 25

Our life is no dream; but it ought to become one, and perhaps will."
~ Novalis

And on the ground, which is my modres gate,
I knocke with my staf; erlich and late,
And say to hire, Leve mother, let me in."
~ Geoffrey Chaucer, "The Pardoneres Tale".

Sinking from such a state of ideal bliss, into the world of shadows which again closed around and infolded me, my first dread was, not unnaturally, that my own shadow had found me again, and that my torture had commenced anew. It was a sad revulsion of feeling. This, indeed, seemed to correspond to what we think death is, before we die. Yet I felt within me a power of calm endurance to which I had hitherto been a stranger. For, in truth, that I should be able if only to think such things as I had been thinking, was an unspeakable delight. An hour of such peace made the turmoil of a lifetime worth striving through.

I found myself lying in the open air, in the early morning, before sunrise. Over me rose the summer heaven, expectant of the sun. The clouds already saw him, coming from afar; and soon every dewdrop would rejoice in his individual presence within it.

I lay motionless for a few minutes; and then slowly rose and looked about me. I was on the summit of a little hill; a valley lay beneath, and a range of mountains closed up the view upon that side. But, to my horror, across the valley, and up the height of the opposing mountains, stretched, from my very feet, a hugely expanding shade. There it lay, long and large, dark and mighty. I turned away with a sick despair; when lo! I beheld the sun just lifting his head above the eastern hill, and the shadow that fell from me, lay only where his beams fell not. I danced for joy. It was only the natural shadow, that goes with every man who walks in the sun. As he arose, higher and higher, the shadow-head sank down the side of the opposite hill, and crept in across the valley towards my feet.

Now that I was so joyously delivered from this fear, I saw and recognised the country around me. In the valley below, lay my own castle, and the haunts of my childhood were all about me hastened home. My sisters received me with unspeakable joy; but I suppose they observed some change in me, for a kind of respect, with a slight touch of awe in it, mingled with their joy, and made me ashamed. They had been in great distress about me. On the morning of my disappearance, they had found the floor of my room flooded; and, all that day, a wondrous and nearly impervious mist had hung about the castle and grounds. I had been gone, they told me, twenty-one days. To me it seemed twenty-one years. Nor could I yet feel quite secure in my new experiences. When, at night, I lay down once more in my own bed, I did not feel at all sure that when I awoke, I should not find myself in some mysterious region of Fairy Land. My dreams were incessant and perturbed; but when I did awake, I saw clearly that I was in my own home.

My mind soon grew calm; and I began the duties of my new position, somewhat instructed, I hoped, by the adventures that had befallen me in Fairy Land. Could I translate the experience of my travels there, into common life? This was the question. Or must I live it all over again, and learn it all over again, in the other forms that belong to the world of men, whose experience yet runs parallel to that of Fairy Land? These questions I cannot answer yet. But I fear.

Even yet, I find myself looking round sometimes with anxiety, to see whether my shadow falls right away from the sun or no. I have never yet discovered any inclination to either side. And if I am not unfrequently sad, I yet cast no more of a shade on the earth, than most men who have lived in it as long as I. I have a strange feeling sometimes, that I am a ghost, sent into the world to minister to my fellow men, or, rather, to repair the wrongs I have already done.

May the world be brighter for me, at least in those portions of it, where my darkness falls not.

Thus I, who set out to find my Ideal, came back rejoicing that I had lost my Shadow.

When the thought of the blessedness I experienced, after my death in Fairy Land, is too high for me to lay hold upon it and hope in it, I often think of the wise woman in the cottage, and of her solemn assurance that she knew something too good to be told. When I am oppressed by any sorrow or real perplexity, I often feel as if I had only left her cottage for a time, and would soon return out of the vision, into it again. Sometimes, on such occasions, I find myself, unconsciously almost, looking about for the mystic mark of red, with the vague hope of entering her door, and being comforted by her wise tenderness. I then console myself by saying: "I have come through the door of Dismay; and the way back from the world into which that has led me, is through my tomb. Upon that the red sign lies, and I shall find it one day, and be glad."

I will end my story with the relation of an incident which befell me a few days ago. I had been with my reapers, and, when they ceased their work at noon, I had lain down under the shadow of a great, ancient beech-tree, that stood on the edge of the field. As I lay, with my eyes closed, I began to listen to the sound of the leaves overhead. At first, they made sweet inarticulate music alone; but, by-and-by, the sound seemed to begin to take shape, and to be gradually moulding itself into words; till, at last, I seemed able to distinguish these, half-dissolved in a little ocean of circumfluent tones: "A great good is coming--is coming--is coming to thee, Anodos"; and so over and over again. I fancied that the sound reminded me of the voice of the ancient woman, in the cottage that was four-square. I opened my eyes, and, for a moment, almost believed that I saw her face, with its many wrinkles and its young eyes, looking at me from between two hoary branches of the beech overhead. But when I looked more keenly, I saw only twigs and leaves, and the infinite sky, in tiny spots, gazing through between. Yet I know that good is coming to me--that good is always coming; though few have at all times the simplicity and the courage to believe it. What we call evil, is the only and best shape, which, for the person and his condition at the time, could be assumed by the best good. And so, farewell.

The End

Falling Spring Falls
Thomas Jefferson said of Falling Spring Falls in the Alleghany Highlands of Virginia:“The only remarkable cascade in this country is that of the Falling Spring in Augusta…it falls over a rock 200 feet into the valley below.” -- Thomas Jefferson, ‘Notes on the State of Virginia’ written in 1781. The falls are actually 80 feet high.

Regional Travel Map
A Different Trip Planning Resource

Regional Travel Map by Bob Kirchman.

Sometimes it is nice to have a good old flat paper map in front of you when you are planning a regional road trip. GPS and electronic maps are great, but they sometimes fail to give you the 'overview' you had with a good old-fashioned map. As you plan your Summer travels, you can download the Journey Regional Map [click to read], print it, and plan a few road trips.

Find LOVE at Alleghany County Virginia's 160 year-old Humpback Bridge.[1.]

Paint Bank, in Craig County, Virginia got its unusual name from the iron ochre and red clay taken from the banks of Potts Creek that was used by Native Americans, notably the Cherokees, as war paint, and to make their pottery with a distinctive red color. Photo by Bob Kirchman

Paint Bank, Virginia
The General Store in Paint Bank, Virginia. The Swinging Bridge Restaurant is located in an extension of this building and features delicious buffalo dishes. Photo by Bob Kirchman

Tingler's Mill
Tingler's Mill in Paint Branch, Virginia. Photo by Bob Kirchman

Why Beauty Matters

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." -- Phillipians 4:8

Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it." -- Psalm 90:16,17

Around the World in 80 Days
by Jules Verne
[click to read]

1841 Lithograph of the interior of London's Reform Club. Here Phileas Fogg enters into the wager that begins his attempt to circumnavigate the globe. The Reform Club is a private members club on the south side of Pall Mall in central London. As with all London's original gentlemen’s clubs, it comprised an all-male membership for decades, but was the first to change its rules to include the admission of women on equal terms in 1981. Since its founding, the Reform Club has been the traditional home for those committed to progressive political ideas, with its membership initially consisting of Radicals and Whigs. However, today it is no longer associated with any particular political party, and now serves a purely social function.

In 1832, Parliament passed a law changing the British electoral system. It was known as the Great Reform Act.

This was a response to many years of people criticising the electoral system as unfair. For example, there were constituencies with only a handful of voters that elected two MPs to Parliament. In these rotten boroughs, with few voters and no secret ballot, it was easy for candidates to buy votes. Yet towns like Manchester that had grown during the previous 80 years had no MPs to represent them.

In 1831, the House of Commons passed a Reform Bill, but the House of Lords, dominated by Tories, defeated it. There followed riots and serious disturbances in London, Birmingham, Derby, Nottingham, Leicester, Yeovil, Sherborne, Exeter and Bristol.

The riots in Bristol were some of the worst seen in England in the 19th century. They began when Sir Charles Weatherall, who was opposed to the Reform Bill, came to open the Assize Court. Public buildings and houses were set on fire, there was more than £300,000 of damage and twelve people died. Of 102 people arrested and tried, 31 were sentenced to death. Lieutenant-Colonel Brereton, the commander of the army in Bristol, was court-martialed.

There was a fear in government that unless there was some reform there might be a revolution instead. They looked to the July 1830 revolution in France, which overthrew King Charles X and replaced him with the more moderate King Louis-Philippe who agreed to a constitutional monarchy.

In Britain, King William IV lost popularity for standing in the way of reform. Eventually he agreed to create new Whig peers, and when the House of Lords heard this, they agreed to pass the Reform Act. Rotten boroughs were removed and the new towns given the right to elect MPs, although constituencies were still of uneven size. However, only men who owned property worth at least £10 could vote, which cut out most of the working classes, and only men who could afford to pay to stand for election could be MPs. This reform did not go far enough to silence all protest. -- UK National Archives

Around the World in 80 Days (French: Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours) is a classic adventure novel by the French writer Jules Verne, first published in 1873. In the story, Phileas Fogg of London and his newly employed French valet Passepartout attempt to circumnavigate the world in 80 days on a £20,000 wager set by his friends at the Reform Club. (read more)


The Reform Club, Pall Mall, London
The Reform Club was founded in 1836, in Pall Mall, in the centre of what is often called London's Clubland. The founders commissioned a leading architect of the day, Charles Barry, to build an imposing and palatial clubhouse. It is as splendid today as when it opened in 1841. Membership was restricted to those who pledged support for the Great Reform Act of 1832, and the many MPs and Whig peers among the early members developed the Club as the political headquarters of the Liberal Party.

Around the World in 80 Days
By Jules Verne, Chapter I

In which Phileas Fogg and Passepartout Accept Each Other, the One as Master, the Other as Man

Mr. Phileas Fogg lived, in 1872, at No. 7, Saville Row, Burlington Gardens, the house in which Sheridan died in 1814. He was one of the most noticeable members of the Reform Club, though he seemed always to avoid attracting attention; an enigmatical personage, about whom little was known, except that he was a polished man of the world. People said that he resembled Byron — at least that his head was Byronic; but he was a bearded, tranquil Byron, who might live on a thousand years without growing old.

Certainly an Englishman, it was more doubtful whether Phileas Fogg was a Londoner. He was never seen on ‘Change, nor at the Bank, nor in the counting-rooms of the “City”; no ships ever came into London docks of which he was the owner; he had no public employment; he had never been entered at any of the Inns of Court, either at the Temple, or Lincoln’s Inn, or Gray’s Inn; nor had his voice ever resounded in the Court of Chancery, or in the Exchequer, or the Queen’s Bench, or the Ecclesiastical Courts. He certainly was not a manufacturer; nor was he a merchant or a gentleman farmer. His name was strange to the scientific and learned societies, and he never was known to take part in the sage deliberations of the Royal Institution or the London Institution, the Artisan’s Association, or the Institution of Arts and Sciences. He belonged, in fact, to none of the numerous societies which swarm in the English capital, from the Harmonic to that of the Entomologists, founded mainly for the purpose of abolishing pernicious insects.

Phileas Fogg was a member of the Reform, and that was all.

The way in which he got admission to this exclusive club was simple enough.

He was recommended by the Barings, with whom he had an open credit. His cheques were regularly paid at sight from his account current, which was always flush.

Was Phileas Fogg rich? Undoubtedly. But those who knew him best could not imagine how he had made his fortune, and Mr. Fogg was the last person to whom to apply for the information. He was not lavish, nor, on the contrary, avaricious; for, whenever he knew that money was needed for a noble, useful, or benevolent purpose, he supplied it quietly and sometimes anonymously. He was, in short, the least communicative of men. He talked very little, and seemed all the more mysterious for his taciturn manner. His daily habits were quite open to observation; but whatever he did was so exactly the same thing that he had always done before, that the wits of the curious were fairly puzzled.

Had he travelled? It was likely, for no one seemed to know the world more familiarly; there was no spot so secluded that he did not appear to have an intimate acquaintance with it. He often corrected, with a few clear words, the thousand conjectures advanced by members of the club as to lost and unheard-of travellers, pointing out the true probabilities, and seeming as if gifted with a sort of second sight, so often did events justify his predictions. He must have travelled everywhere, at least in the spirit.

It was at least certain that Phileas Fogg had not absented himself from London for many years. Those who were honoured by a better acquaintance with him than the rest, declared that nobody could pretend to have ever seen him anywhere else. His sole pastimes were reading the papers and playing whist. He often won at this game, which, as a silent one, harmonised with his nature; but his winnings never went into his purse, being reserved as a fund for his charities. Mr. Fogg played, not to win, but for the sake of playing. The game was in his eyes a contest, a struggle with a difficulty, yet a motionless, unwearying struggle, congenial to his tastes.

Phileas Fogg was not known to have either wife or children, which may happen to the most honest people; either relatives or near friends, which is certainly more unusual. He lived alone in his house in Saville Row, whither none penetrated. A single domestic sufficed to serve him. He breakfasted and dined at the club, at hours mathematically fixed, in the same room, at the same table, never taking his meals with other members, much less bringing a guest with him; and went home at exactly midnight, only to retire at once to bed. He never used the cosy chambers which the Reform provides for its favoured members. He passed ten hours out of the twenty-four in Saville Row, either in sleeping or making his toilet. When he chose to take a walk it was with a regular step in the entrance hall with its mosaic flooring, or in the circular gallery with its dome supported by twenty red porphyry Ionic columns, and illumined by blue painted windows. When he breakfasted or dined all the resources of the club — its kitchens and pantries, its buttery and dairy — aided to crowd his table with their most succulent stores; he was served by the gravest waiters, in dress coats, and shoes with swan-skin soles, who proffered the viands in special porcelain, and on the finest linen; club decanters, of a lost mould, contained his sherry, his port, and his cinnamon-spiced claret; while his beverages were refreshingly cooled with ice, brought at great cost from the American lakes.

If to live in this style is to be eccentric, it must be confessed that there is something good in eccentricity.

The mansion in Saville Row, though not sumptuous, was exceedingly comfortable. The habits of its occupant were such as to demand but little from the sole domestic, but Phileas Fogg required him to be almost superhumanly prompt and regular. On this very 2nd of October he had dismissed James Forster, because that luckless youth had brought him shaving-water at eighty-four degrees Fahrenheit instead of eighty-six; and he was awaiting his successor, who was due at the house between eleven and half-past.

Phileas Fogg was seated squarely in his armchair, his feet close together like those of a grenadier on parade, his hands resting on his knees, his body straight, his head erect; he was steadily watching a complicated clock which indicated the hours, the minutes, the seconds, the days, the months, and the years. At exactly half-past eleven Mr. Fogg would, according to his daily habit, quit Saville Row, and repair to the Reform.

A rap at this moment sounded on the door of the cosy apartment where Phileas Fogg was seated, and James Forster, the dismissed servant, appeared.

The new servant,” said he.

A young man of thirty advanced and bowed.

You are a Frenchman, I believe,” asked Phileas Fogg, “and your name is John?”

Jean, if monsieur pleases,” replied the newcomer, “Jean Passepartout, a surname which has clung to me because I have a natural aptness for going out of one business into another. I believe I’m honest, monsieur, but, to be outspoken, I’ve had several trades. I’ve been an itinerant singer, a circus-rider, when I used to vault like Leotard, and dance on a rope like Blondin. Then I got to be a professor of gymnastics, so as to make better use of my talents; and then I was a sergeant fireman at Paris, and assisted at many a big fire. But I quitted France five years ago, and, wishing to taste the sweets of domestic life, took service as a valet here in England. Finding myself out of place, and hearing that Monsieur Phileas Fogg was the most exact and settled gentleman in the United Kingdom, I have come to monsieur in the hope of living with him a tranquil life, and forgetting even the name of Passepartout.”

Passepartout suits me,” responded Mr. Fogg. “You are well recommended to me; I hear a good report of you. You know my conditions?”

Yes, monsieur.”

Good! What time is it?”

Twenty-two minutes after eleven,” returned Passepartout, drawing an enormous silver watch from the depths of his pocket.

You are too slow,” said Mr. Fogg.

Pardon me, monsieur, it is impossible —”

You are four minutes too slow. No matter; it’s enough to mention the error. Now from this moment, twenty-nine minutes after eleven, a.m., this Wednesday, 2nd October, you are in my service.”

Phileas Fogg got up, took his hat in his left hand, put it on his head with an automatic motion, and went off without a word.

Passepartout heard the street door shut once; it was his new master going out. He heard it shut again; it was his predecessor, James Forster, departing in his turn. Passepartout remained alone in the house in Saville Row.
(to be continued)


The Vision of Jules Verne
[click to read]

He was born in 1928 in the port city of Nantes, France. His father was a pragmatic lawyer but his mother nurtured his creative inclinations. Though he followed his father’s wishes and trained to be a lawyer, he would go on to meet publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel who would serialize his stories. These Voyages Extraordinaires would eventually become his famous novels earning him the title: “Father of Science Fiction.” Although Verne died in 1905 his works continued to be published and he would become the second most translated author in the world. Verne saw the technological revolution of the Nineteenth Century as it unfolded and crafted new applications of it as he charted his ‘Voyages.’ It is not surprising that as a youth I was drawn to his work.

This Biography Presentation [click to watch] of his life gives even more insight into the life of Jules Verne. I have to give him much credit for inspiring PONTIFUS and my upcoming APOLLONIUS, which debuts here as a serial feature in the weeks to come.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Phantasies, Elysian Lilies, George Washington

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XIII, Issue II

By George Macdonald, Chapter 24

We are ne'er like angels till our passions die."
~ Thomas Dekker.

This wretched Inn, where we scarce stay to baite,
We call our dwelling-place:
We call one step a race:
But angels in their full enlightened state,
Angels, who live, and know what 'tis to be,
Who all the nonsense of our language see,
Who speak things, and our words, their ill-drawn
Pictures, scorn,
When we, by a foolish figure, say,
Behold an old man Dead! then they
Speak properly, and cry,
Behold a man-child born!"
~ Abraham Cowley

I was dead, and right content. I lay in my coffin, with my hands folded in peace. The knight, and the lady I loved, wept over me.

Her tears fell on my face.

Ah!" said the knight, "I rushed amongst them like a madman. I hewed them down like brushwood. Their swords battered on me like hail, but hurt me not. I cut a lane through to my friend. He was dead. But he had throttled the monster, and I had to cut the handful out of its throat, before I could disengage and carry off his body. They dared not molest me as I brought him back."

He has died well," said the lady.

My spirit rejoiced. They left me to my repose. I felt as if a cool hand had been laid upon my heart, and had stilled it. My soul was like a summer evening, after a heavy fall of rain, when the drops are yet glistening on the trees in the last rays of the down-going sun, and the wind of the twilight has begun to blow. The hot fever of life had gone by, and I breathed the clear mountain-air of the land of Death. I had never dreamed of such blessedness. It was not that I had in any way ceased to be what I had been. The very fact that anything can die, implies the existence of something that cannot die; which must either take to itself another form, as when the seed that is sown dies, and arises again; or, in conscious existence, may, perhaps, continue to lead a purely spiritual life. If my passions were dead, the souls of the passions, those essential mysteries of the spirit which had imbodied themselves in the passions, and had given to them all their glory and wonderment, yet lived, yet glowed, with a pure, undying fire. They rose above their vanishing earthly garments, and disclosed themselves angels of light. But oh, how beautiful beyond the old form! I lay thus for a time, and lived as it were an unradiating existence; my soul a motionless lake, that received all things and gave nothing back; satisfied in still contemplation, and spiritual consciousness.

Ere long, they bore me to my grave. Never tired child lay down in his white bed, and heard the sound of his playthings being laid aside for the night, with a more luxurious satisfaction of repose than I knew, when I felt the coffin settle on the firm earth, and heard the sound of the falling mould upon its lid. It has not the same hollow rattle within the coffin, that it sends up to the edge of the grave. They buried me in no graveyard. They loved me too much for that, I thank them; but they laid me in the grounds of their own castle, amid many trees; where, as it was spring-time, were growing primroses, and blue-bells, and all the families of the woods

Now that I lay in her bosom, the whole earth, and each of her many births, was as a body to me, at my will. I seemed to feel the great heart of the mother beating into mine, and feeding me with her own life, her own essential being and nature. I heard the footsteps of my friends above, and they sent a thrill through my heart. I knew that the helpers had gone, and that the knight and the lady remained, and spoke low, gentle, tearful words of him who lay beneath the yet wounded sod. I rose into a single large primrose that grew by the edge of the grave, and from the window of its humble, trusting face, looked full in the countenance of the lady. I felt that I could manifest myself in the primrose; that it said a part of what I wanted to say; just as in the old time, I had used to betake myself to a song for the same end. The flower caught her eye. She stooped and plucked it, saying, "Oh, you beautiful creature!" and, lightly kissing it, put it in her bosom. It was the first kiss she had ever given me. But the flower soon began to wither, and I forsook it.

It was evening. The sun was below the horizon; but his rosy beams yet illuminated a feathery cloud, that floated high above the world. I arose, I reached the cloud; and, throwing myself upon it, floated with it in sight of the sinking sun. He sank, and the cloud grew gray; but the grayness touched not my heart. It carried its rose-hue within; for now I could love without needing to be loved again. The moon came gliding up with all the past in her wan face. She changed my couch into a ghostly pallor, and threw all the earth below as to the bottom of a pale sea of dreams. But she could not make me sad. I knew now, that it is by loving, and not by being loved, that one can come nearest the soul of another; yea, that, where two love, it is the loving of each other, and not the being loved by each other, that originates and perfects and assures their blessedness. I knew that love gives to him that loveth, power over any soul beloved, even if that soul know him not, bringing him inwardly close to that spirit; a power that cannot be but for good; for in proportion as selfishness intrudes, the love ceases, and the power which springs therefrom dies. Yet all love will, one day, meet with its return. All true love will, one day, behold its own image in the eyes of the beloved, and be humbly glad. This is possible in the realms of lofty Death. "Ah! my friends," thought I, "how I will tend you, and wait upon you, and haunt you with my love."

My floating chariot bore me over a great city. Its faint dull sound steamed up into the air--a sound--how composed?" How many hopeless cries," thought I, "and how many mad shouts go to make up the tumult, here so faint where I float in eternal peace, knowing that they will one day be stilled in the surrounding calm, and that despair dies into infinite hope, and the seeming impossible there, is the law here!

But, O pale-faced women, and gloomy-browed men, and forgotten children, how I will wait on you, and minister to you, and, putting my arms about you in the dark, think hope into your hearts, when you fancy no one is near! Soon as my senses have all come back, and have grown accustomed to this new blessed life, I will be among you with the love that healeth."

With this, a pang and a terrible shudder went through me; a writhing as of death convulsed me; and I became once again conscious of a more limited, even a bodily and earthly life.
(to be continued)

Elevator to Surface, Smithsonian Station in the Washington Metro.

Take Metro In a Wheelchair, Just Once
[click to read]

Do Metro executives know what the Metro is like for a person who uses a wheelchair? (read more)

A New Proposal for 'Elysian Lilies'
By Bob Kirchman

In Metro's Smithsonian Station, the Elevator is tucked into a dark alcove that is poorly marked. If you forget to check the status updates for elevators, you might encounter this scene... the elevator is out of service.

In the older Metro Stations in Washington D. C., the elevators might seem like an afterthought. In Smithsonian Station, the elevator sits in a dark alcove and is easily missed. Harry Weese designed the stations as a crypt, of sorts, to the Federal City. He wanted you to know you were underground.

Newer Metro stations have two elevators side by side and they are large enough for two people in wheelchairs to ride together. Smithsonian Station's elevator is relatively small. Adding to the claustrophobia is the dark alcove. While the vaulted stations and open escalators are elegant in their muted illumination, a case might be made for the elevator alcove needing to visually signal connection to the world above.

To that end, a variation of the 'Elysian Lilies' mural is designed below, along with a brighter ceiling light and a brighter elevator door.

'Elysian Lilies' Mural Design for a Lift Alcove. Bob Kirchman

Panda Popularity Personified
Kids and Pandas are Inseparable at DC Zoo

Panda at the Subway Entrance
A panda sculpture at the National Zoo Metro station attracts attention. Photo by Bob Kirchman 

The Challenge of Leadership

"The Prayer at Valley Forge" by Arnold Friberg is one of the best known paintings of the American Revolution. It depicts George Washington at Valley Forge.

No doubt, George Washington knew the challenge of leadership well. He began his career without a full college degree, but at the age of sixteen he obtained his surveyer's certificate from The College of William and Mary. At an age when most modern young men are playing video games, he was out discovering and marking an actual country! He did do something akin to the actions of modern young men when he discreetly carved his initials into Rock Bridge County's natural wonder, Natural Bridge!

Washington is noted for his military career, but historian James Hodges, us some unique insight into the man's character:

At the Battle of Brandywine in September 1777, a particularly brutal battle with much carnage on both sides, a fox terrier got lost between the lines. The little dog was captured by the Americans, who saw inscribed in his collar: “Property of General Howe.” Washington made sure the little dog was fed, cleaned and treated well. Under a flag of truce, Alexander Hamilton delivered the dog to General Howe, who had suffered great mental anguish thinking his little terrier had been lost to him forever.

Washington had been passionately fond of horses from early boyhood, and owned his first horse at 17. His mother, Mary Ball Washington, was a skilled horsewoman who taught young George how to train horses using only the gentlest of methods, and to never resort to any cruelty. Washington learned that harsh training methods were counter-productive, because horses treated with respect are eager to please their riders." [1.]

At the second battle of Trenton, on January 2, 1777, it was clearly evident that Washington's great charger Nelson returned the affection of his rider. Though cannon shells were bursting around them, man and horse stood firm. To those men Washington led into battle, they stood together as a symbol of strength. A soldier writes: “As I crossed the bridge crowded with fellow soldiers, I brushed up against the boot of the man and flank of the horse. Both seemed to exude courage.”

After the great war was over, Washington indeed became President of the nation he had helped to create. His leadership skills would be tested in the days of the Newburgh Conspiracy, where he would avert a military coup. The young nation's coffers were empty. The Continental Army had not been fully paid, and an uprising was brewing. There was talk of taking up arms against the Congress. Washington went to his officers and appealed to them in an emotional address on March 15, 1783.

Cool heads prevailed and Congress voted on a plan to pay the men. Interestingly, Washington distrusted the notion of political parties. He never aligned with one himself, though those around him were crafting the foundation for the two party system we have today. Perhaps the man's own sayings tell us volumes about his life and its motivations: [2.]

It is impossible to rightly govern the world without G-d and Bible."

The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained”

Make sure you are doing what G-d wants you to do---then do it with all your strength."

What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ.” "It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty G-d, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors."

My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her."

The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country."

If to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterwards defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair. The rest is in the hands of G-d."

No people can be bound to acknowledge the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency"

I am sure that never was a people, who had more reason to acknowledge a Divine interposition in their affairs, than those of the United States; and I should be pained to believe that they have forgotten that agency, which was so often manifested during our Revolution, or that they failed to consider the omnipotence of that G-d who is alone able to protect them.”

Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.”

I earnestly pray that the Omnipotent Being who has not deserted the cause of America in the hour of its extremist hazard, will never yield so fair a heritage of freedom a prey to "Anarchy" or "Despotism"."

Cherry Blossoms frame the Jefferson Memorial on the Washington, D. C. Tidal Basin. Photo by Bob Kirchman

A Patriot's Legacy.

Caesar Rodney's Midnight Ride

Now one was neither Tory nor Whig; it was either dependence or independence.” Caesar Rodney, after Lexington and Concord.

We all know the famous story of Paul Revere's midnight ride. Virginians celebrate the memory of Jack Jouett, who rode to Monticello to warn Thomas Jefferson of approaching British troops.Jefferson and the Virginia Legislature were able to escape across the Blue Ridge Mountains to Staunton. Still, the most memorable midnight ride that saved the young republic has to be that of Caesar Rodney. Without Rodney's ride, there would not have been a republic at all.

Caesar Rodney was born in 1728 on his family's 800 acre farm, Byfield, on St. Jones Neck in East Dover Hundred, Kent County, Delaware. The family could trace its ancestry to the Adelmare family of Treviso, Italy. Caesar Rodney's farm was a large one, worked by slaves, and it provided wheat and barley to markets in Philadelphia. His brother Thomas described him as possessing a: "great fund of wit and humor of the pleasing kind, so that his conversation was always bright and strong and conducted by wisdom... He always lived a bachelor, was generally esteemed, and indeed very popular." Indeed, his talents found him taking his place in public service. He served as sheriff and in a number of other positions. He joined Thomas McKean as a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress in 1765 and was the Brigadier General of the Delaware Militia. He went on to serve in the Continental Congress.

Here is where he made his most courageous contribution to the cause of American independence. In 1776 the vote to adopt the Declaration saw the Delaware delegation deadlocked. This was a problem as the delegates to the convention had decided that an all or nothing approach was essential. Of Delaware's two present delegates Mckean favored independence. The other delegate, George Read, did not. Rodney, who was also qualified to vote, was at home performing his duties as General of the militia when the initial voting took place. Mckean had sent word to Rodney that his vote would be needed in Philadelphia... but the message never got to him. Rodney was a bachelor and his love interest at the time was being used by the Tories to divert his participation! She was intercepting the messages! By the time McKean's message finally got to Rodney, the first deadlocked vote had already taken place and it was well into the evening. Rodney mounted his horse and rode through a great thunderstorm along the muddy road to Philadelphia. Lightning illuminated the wet road as he sloshed along as rapidly as conditions would allow. For seventy miles he rode.

Rodney was not a well man. He suffered from a rare form of cancer that disfigured his face and sapped his strength. No doubt he knew the ride could kill him, but he pressed on. He was committed to an act of treason that might lead to his death if he did survive. But he pressed on through the darkness. He reached Philadelphia by mid-morning. Spattered with mud, he stepped into the chamber just in time to cast his historic vote. Now the votes by all colonies who actually voted was unanimous! The framers rightly considered this essential to the success of the Declaration. Without Caesar Rodney's heroic ride, there would have not been a July 4th for us to celebrate! Rodney served in the war effort, even fighting alongside George Washington, who said of him: “The readiness with which you took to the field at the period most critical to our affairs, the industry you used in bringing out the militia of the Delaware State and the alertness observed by you in forwarding on the troops from Trenton, reflect the highest honor on your character and place your attachment to the cause in a most distinguished point of view.” As a young republic took its place in the world, Rodney continued to serve but his health was now rapidly declining. He died in 1784. [2.]

His legacy lives on today though. My friend Brandy Leigh Messick and her four sons are proud descendents of this great patriot and continue his mission to promote the values of this great nation to this day! Special thanks to her for providing additional background for this article.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Phantasies, A Case for Vision, New Life for a Mall

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume XIII, Issue I

By George Macdonald, Chapter 23

High erected thought, seated in a heart of courtesy."
~ Sir Philip Sidney

A sweet attractive kinde of grace,
A full assurance given by lookes,
Continuall comfort in a face,
The lineaments of Gospel bookes."
~ Matthew Roydon, on Sir Philip Sidney.

I had not gone far, for I had but just lost sight of the hated tower, when a voice of another sort, sounding near or far, as the trees permitted or intercepted its passage, reached me. It was a full, deep, manly voice, but withal clear and melodious. Now it burst on the ear with a sudden swell, and anon, dying away as suddenly, seemed to come to me across a great space. Nevertheless, it drew nearer; till, at last, I could distinguish the words of the song, and get transient glimpses of the singer, between the columns of the trees. He came nearer, dawning upon me like a growing thought. He was a knight, armed from head to heel, mounted upon a strange-looking beast, whose form I could not understand. The words which I heard him sing were like these:

Heart be stout,
And eye be true;
Good blade out!
And ill shall rue.

Courage, horse!
Thou lackst no skill;
Well thy force
Hath matched my will.

For the foe
With fiery breath,
At a blow,
It still in death.

Gently, horse!
Tread fearlessly;
'Tis his corse
That burdens thee.

The sun's eye
Is fierce at noon;
Thou and I
Will rest full soon.

And new strength
New work will meet;
Till, at length,
Long rest is sweet.

And now horse and rider had arrived near enough for me to see, fastened by the long neck to the hinder part of the saddle, and trailing its hideous length on the ground behind, the body of a great dragon. It was no wonder that, with such a drag at his heels, the horse could make but slow progress, notwithstanding his evident dismay. The horrid, serpent-like head, with its black tongue, forked with red, hanging out of its jaws, dangled against the horse's side. Its neck was covered with long blue hair, its sides with scales of green and gold. Its back was of corrugated skin, of a purple hue. Its belly was similar in nature, but its colour was leaden, dashed with blotches of livid blue. Its skinny, bat-like wings and its tail were of a dull gray. It was strange to see how so many gorgeous colours, so many curving lines, and such beautiful things as wings and hair and scales, combined to form the horrible creature, intense in ugliness.

The knight was passing me with a salutation; but, as I walked towards him, he reined up, and I stood by his stirrup. When I came near him, I saw to my surprise and pleasure likewise, although a sudden pain, like a birth of fire, sprang up in my heart, that it was the knight of the soiled armour, whom I knew before, and whom I had seen in the vision, with the lady of the marble. But I could have thrown my arms around him, because she loved him. This discovery only strengthened the resolution I had formed, before I recognised him, of offering myself to the knight, to wait upon him as a squire, for he seemed to be unattended. I made my request in as few words as possible. He hesitated for a moment, and looked at me thoughtfully. I saw that he suspected who I was, but that he continued uncertain of his suspicion. No doubt he was soon convinced of its truth; but all the time I was with him, not a word crossed his lips with reference to what he evidently concluded I wished to leave unnoticed, if not to keep concealed.

Squire and knight should be friends," said he: "can you take me by the hand?" And he held out the great gauntleted right hand. I grasped it willingly and strongly. Not a word more was said. The knight gave the sign to his horse, which again began his slow march, and I walked beside and a little behind.

We had not gone very far before we arrived at a little cottage; from which, as we drew near, a woman rushed out with the cry:

My child! my child! have you found my child?"

I have found her," replied the knight, "but she is sorely hurt. I was forced to leave her with the hermit, as I returned. You will find her there, and I think she will get better. You see I have brought you a present. This wretch will not hurt you again." And he undid the creature's neck, and flung the frightful burden down by the cottage door.

The woman was now almost out of sight in the wood; but the husband stood at the door, with speechless thanks in his face.

You must bury the monster," said the knight. "If I had arrived a moment later, I should have been too late. But now you need not fear, for such a creature as this very rarely appears, in the same part, twice during a lifetime."

Will you not dismount and rest you, Sir Knight?" said the peasant, who had, by this time, recovered himself a little.

That I will, thankfully," said he; and, dismounting, he gave the reins to me, and told me to unbridle the horse, and lead him into the shade. "You need not tie him up," he added; "he will not run away."

When I returned, after obeying his orders, and entered the cottage, I saw the knight seated, without his helmet, and talking most familiarly with the simple host. I stood at the open door for a moment, and, gazing at him, inwardly justified the white lady in preferring him to me. A nobler countenance I never saw. Loving-kindness beamed from every line of his face. It seemed as if he would repay himself for the late arduous combat, by indulging in all the gentleness of a womanly heart. But when the talk ceased for a moment, he seemed to fall into a reverie. Then the exquisite curves of the upper lip vanished. The lip was lengthened and compressed at the same moment. You could have told that, within the lips, the teeth were firmly closed. The whole face grew stern and determined, all but fierce; only the eyes burned on like a holy sacrifice, uplift on a granite rock.

The woman entered, with her mangled child in her arms. She was pale as her little burden. She gazed, with a wild love and despairing tenderness, on the still, all but dead face, white and clear from loss of blood and terror.

The knight rose. The light that had been confined to his eyes, now shone from his whole countenance. He took the little thing in his arms, and, with the mother's help, undressed her, and looked to her wounds. The tears flowed down his face as he did so. With tender hands he bound them up, kissed the pale cheek, and gave her back to her mother. When he went home, all his tale would be of the grief and joy of the parents; while to me, who had looked on, the gracious countenance of the armed man, beaming from the panoply of steel, over the seemingly dead child, while the powerful hands turned it and shifted it, and bound it, if possible even more gently than the mother's, formed the centre of the story.

After we had partaken of the best they could give us, the knight took his leave, with a few parting instructions to the mother as to how she should treat the child.

I brought the knight his steed, held the stirrup while he mounted, and then followed him through the wood. The horse, delighted to be free of his hideous load, bounded beneath the weight of man and armour, and could hardly be restrained from galloping on. But the knight made him time his powers to mine, and so we went on for an hour or two. Then the knight dismounted, and compelled me to get into the saddle, saying: "Knight and squire must share the labour."

Holding by the stirrup, he walked along by my side, heavily clad as he was, with apparent ease. As we went, he led a conversation, in which I took what humble part my sense of my condition would permit me.

Somehow or other," said he, "notwithstanding the beauty of this country of Faerie, in which we are, there is much that is wrong in it. If there are great splendours, there are corresponding horrors; heights and depths; beautiful women and awful fiends; noble men and weaklings. All a man has to do, is to better what he can. And if he will settle it with himself, that even renown and success are in themselves of no great value, and be content to be defeated, if so be that the fault is not his; and so go to his work with a cool brain and a strong will, he will get it done; and fare none the worse in the end, that he was not burdened with provision and precaution."

But he will not always come off well," I ventured to say.

Perhaps not," rejoined the knight, "in the individual act; but the result of his lifetime will content him."

So it will fare with you, doubtless," thought I; "but for me---"

Venturing to resume the conversation after a pause, I said, hesitatingly:

May I ask for what the little beggar-girl wanted your aid, when she came to your castle to find you?"

He looked at me for a moment in silence, and then said--

I cannot help wondering how you know of that; but there is something about you quite strange enough to entitle you to the privilege of the country; namely, to go unquestioned. I, however, being only a man, such as you see me, am ready to tell you anything you like to ask me, as far as I can. The little beggar-girl came into the hall where I was sitting, and told me a very curious story, which I can only recollect very vaguely, it was so peculiar. What I can recall is, that she was sent to gather wings. As soon as she had gathered a pair of wings for herself, she was to fly away, she said, to the country she came from; but where that was, she could give no information.

She said she had to beg her wings from the butterflies and moths; and wherever she begged, no one refused her. But she needed a great many of the wings of butterflies and moths to make a pair for her; and so she had to wander about day after day, looking for butterflies, and night after night, looking for moths; and then she begged for their wings. But the day before, she had come into a part of the forest, she said, where there were multitudes of splendid butterflies flitting about, with wings which were just fit to make the eyes in the shoulders of hers; and she knew she could have as many of them as she liked for the asking; but as soon as she began to beg, there came a great creature right up to her, and threw her down, and walked over her. When she got up, she saw the wood was full of these beings stalking about, and seeming to have nothing to do with each other. As soon as ever she began to beg, one of them walked over her; till at last in dismay, and in growing horror of the senseless creatures, she had run away to look for somebody to help her. I asked her what they were like. She said, like great men, made of wood, without knee-or elbow-joints, and without any noses or mouths or eyes in their faces. I laughed at the little maiden, thinking she was making child's game of me; but, although she burst out laughing too, she persisted in asserting the truth of her story.

Only come, knight, come and see; I will lead you.'

So I armed myself, to be ready for anything that might happen, and followed the child; for, though I could make nothing of her story, I could see she was a little human being in need of some help or other. As she walked before me, I looked attentively at her. Whether or not it was from being so often knocked down and walked over, I could not tell, but her clothes were very much torn, and in several places her white skin was peeping through. I thought she was hump-backed; but on looking more closely, I saw, through the tatters of her frock--do not laugh at me--a bunch on each shoulder, of the most gorgeous colours. Looking yet more closely, I saw that they were of the shape of folded wings, and were made of all kinds of butterfly-wings and moth-wings, crowded together like the feathers on the individual butterfly pinion; but, like them, most beautifully arranged, and producing a perfect harmony of colour and shade. I could now more easily believe the rest of her story; especially as I saw, every now and then, a certain heaving motion in the wings, as if they longed to be uplifted and outspread. But beneath her scanty garments complete wings could not be concealed, and indeed, from her own story, they were yet unfinished.

After walking for two or three hours (how the little girl found her way, I could not imagine), we came to a part of the forest, the very air of which was quivering with the motions of multitudes of resplendent butterflies; as gorgeous in colour, as if the eyes of peacocks' feathers had taken to flight, but of infinite variety of hue and form, only that the appearance of some kind of eye on each wing predominated. 'There they are, there they are!' cried the child, in a tone of victory mingled with terror. Except for this tone, I should have thought she referred to the butterflies, for I could see nothing else. But at that moment an enormous butterfly, whose wings had great eyes of blue surrounded by confused cloudy heaps of more dingy colouring, just like a break in the clouds on a stormy day towards evening, settled near us. The child instantly began murmuring: 'Butterfly, butterfly, give me your wings'; when, the moment after, she fell to the ground, and began crying as if hurt. I drew my sword and heaved a great blow in the direction in which the child had fallen. It struck something, and instantly the most grotesque imitation of a man became visible. You see this Fairy Land is full of oddities and all sorts of incredibly ridiculous things, which a man is compelled to meet and treat as real existences, although all the time he feels foolish for doing so. This being, if being it could be called, was like a block of wood roughly hewn into the mere outlines of a man; and hardly so, for it had but head, body, legs, and arms--the head without a face, and the limbs utterly formless. I had hewn off one of its legs, but the two portions moved on as best they could, quite independent of each other; so that I had done no good. I ran after it, and clove it in twain from the head downwards; but it could not be convinced that its vocation was not to walk over people; for, as soon as the little girl began her begging again, all three parts came bustling up; and if I had not interposed my weight between her and them, she would have been trampled again under them. I saw that something else must be done. If the wood was full of the creatures, it would be an endless work to chop them so small that they could do no injury; and then, besides, the parts would be so numerous, that the butterflies would be in danger from the drift of flying chips. I served this one so, however; and then told the girl to beg again, and point out the direction in which one was coming. I was glad to find, however, that I could now see him myself, and wondered how they could have been invisible before. I would not allow him to walk over the child; but while I kept him off, and she began begging again, another appeared; and it was all I could do, from the weight of my armour, to protect her from the stupid, persevering efforts of the two. But suddenly the right plan occurred to me. I tripped one of them up, and, taking him by the legs, set him up on his head, with his heels against a tree. I was delighted to find he could not move.

Meantime the poor child was walked over by the other, but it was for the last time. Whenever one appeared, I followed the same plan--tripped him up and set him on his head; and so the little beggar was able to gather her wings without any trouble, which occupation she continued for several hours in my company."

What became of her?" I asked.

I took her home with me to my castle, and she told me all her story; but it seemed to me, all the time, as if I were hearing a child talk in its sleep. I could not arrange her story in my mind at all, although it seemed to leave hers in some certain order of its own. My wife---"

Here the knight checked himself, and said no more. Neither did I urge the conversation farther.

Thus we journeyed for several days, resting at night in such shelter as we could get; and when no better was to be had, lying in the forest under some tree, on a couch of old leaves.

I loved the knight more and more. I believe never squire served his master with more care and joyfulness than I. I tended his horse; I cleaned his armour; my skill in the craft enabled me to repair it when necessary; I watched his needs; and was well repaid for all by the love itself which I bore him.

This," I said to myself, "is a true man. I will serve him, and give him all worship, seeing in him the imbodiment of what I would fain become. If I cannot be noble myself, I will yet be servant to his nobleness." He, in return, soon showed me such signs of friendship and respect, as made my heart glad; and I felt that, after all, mine would be no lost life, if I might wait on him to the world's end, although no smile but his should greet me, and no one but him should say, "Well done! he was a good servant!" at last. But I burned to do something more for him than the ordinary routine of a squire's duty permitted.

One afternoon, we began to observe an appearance of roads in the wood. Branches had been cut down, and openings made, where footsteps had worn no path below. These indications increased as we passed on, till, at length, we came into a long, narrow avenue, formed by felling the trees in its line, as the remaining roots evidenced. At some little distance, on both hands, we observed signs of similar avenues, which appeared to converge with ours, towards one spot. Along these we indistinctly saw several forms moving, which seemed, with ourselves, to approach the common centre. Our path brought us, at last, up to a wall of yew-trees, growing close together, and intertwining their branches so, that nothing could be seen beyond it. An opening was cut in it like a door, and all the wall was trimmed smooth and perpendicular. The knight dismounted, and waited till I had provided for his horse's comfort; upon which we entered the place together.

It was a great space, bare of trees, and enclosed by four walls of yew, similar to that through which we had entered. These trees grew to a very great height, and did not divide from each other till close to the top, where their summits formed a row of conical battlements all around the walls. The space contained was a parallelogram of great length. Along each of the two longer sides of the interior, were ranged three ranks of men, in white robes, standing silent and solemn, each with a sword by his side, although the rest of his costume and bearing was more priestly than soldierly. For some distance inwards, the space between these opposite rows was filled with a company of men and women and children, in holiday attire. The looks of all were directed inwards, towards the further end. Far beyond the crowd, in a long avenue, seeming to narrow in the distance, went the long rows of the white-robed men. On what the attention of the multitude was fixed, we could not tell, for the sun had set before we arrived, and it was growing dark within. It grew darker and darker. The multitude waited in silence. The stars began to shine down into the enclosure, and they grew brighter and larger every moment. A wind arose, and swayed the pinnacles of the tree-tops; and made a strange sound, half like music, half like moaning, through the close branches and leaves of the tree-walls. A young girl who stood beside me, clothed in the same dress as the priests, bowed her head, and grew pale with awe.

The knight whispered to me, "How solemn it is! Surely they wait to hear the voice of a prophet. There is something good near!"

But I, though somewhat shaken by the feeling expressed by my master, yet had an unaccountable conviction that here was something bad. So I resolved to be keenly on the watch for what should follow.

Suddenly a great star, like a sun, appeared high in the air over the temple, illuminating it throughout; and a great song arose from the men in white, which went rolling round and round the building, now receding to the end, and now approaching, down the other side, the place where we stood. For some of the singers were regularly ceasing, and the next to them as regularly taking up the song, so that it crept onwards with gradations produced by changes which could not themselves be detected, for only a few of those who were singing ceased at the same moment. The song paused; and I saw a company of six of the white-robed men walk up the centre of the human avenue, surrounding a youth gorgeously attired beneath his robe of white, and wearing a chaplet of flowers on his head. I followed them closely, with my keenest observation; and, by accompanying their slow progress with my eyes, I was able to perceive more clearly what took place when they arrived at the other end. I knew that my sight was so much more keen than that of most people, that I had good reason to suppose I should see more than the rest could, at such a distance. At the farther end a throne stood upon a platform, high above the heads of the surrounding priests. To this platform I saw the company begin to ascend, apparently by an inclined plane or gentle slope. The throne itself was elevated again, on a kind of square pedestal, to the top of which led a flight of steps. On the throne sat a majestic-looking figure, whose posture seemed to indicate a mixture of pride and benignity, as he looked down on the multitude below. The company ascended to the foot of the throne, where they all kneeled for some minutes; then they rose and passed round to the side of the pedestal upon which the throne stood. Here they crowded close behind the youth, putting him in the foremost place, and one of them opened a door in the pedestal, for the youth to enter. I was sure I saw him shrink back, and those crowding behind pushed him in. Then, again, arose a burst of song from the multitude in white, which lasted some time. When it ceased, a new company of seven commenced its march up the centre. As they advanced, I looked up at my master: his noble countenance was full of reverence and awe. Incapable of evil himself, he could scarcely suspect it in another, much less in a multitude such as this, and surrounded with such appearances of solemnity. I was certain it was the really grand accompaniments that overcame him; that the stars overhead, the dark towering tops of the yew-trees, and the wind that, like an unseen spirit, sighed through their branches, bowed his spirit to the belief, that in all these ceremonies lay some great mystical meaning which, his humility told him, his ignorance prevented him from understanding.

More convinced than before, that there was evil here, I could not endure that my master should be deceived; that one like him, so pure and noble, should respect what, if my suspicions were true, was worse than the ordinary deceptions of priestcraft. I could not tell how far he might be led to countenance, and otherwise support their doings, before he should find cause to repent bitterly of his error. I watched the new procession yet more keenly, if possible, than the former. This time, the central figure was a girl; and, at the close, I observed, yet more indubitably, the shrinking back, and the crowding push. What happened to the victims, I never learned; but I had learned enough, and I could bear it no longer. I stooped, and whispered to the young girl who stood by me, to lend me her white garment. I wanted it, that I might not be entirely out of keeping with the solemnity, but might have at least this help to passing unquestioned. She looked up, half-amused and half-bewildered, as if doubting whether I was in earnest or not. But in her perplexity, she permitted me to unfasten it, and slip it down from her shoulders.

I easily got possession of it; and, sinking down on my knees in the crowd, I rose apparently in the habit of one of the worshippers.

Giving my battle-axe to the girl, to hold in pledge for the return of her stole, for I wished to test the matter unarmed, and, if it was a man that sat upon the throne, to attack him with hands bare, as I supposed his must be, I made my way through the crowd to the front, while the singing yet continued, desirous of reaching the platform while it was unoccupied by any of the priests. I was permitted to walk up the long avenue of white robes unmolested, though I saw questioning looks in many of the faces as I passed. I presume my coolness aided my passage; for I felt quite indifferent as to my own fate; not feeling, after the late events of my history, that I was at all worth taking care of; and enjoying, perhaps, something of an evil satisfaction, in the revenge I was thus taking upon the self which had fooled me so long. When I arrived on the platform, the song had just ceased, and I felt as if all were looking towards me. But instead of kneeling at its foot, I walked right up the stairs to the throne, laid hold of a great wooden image that seemed to sit upon it, and tried to hurl it from its seat. In this I failed at first, for I found it firmly fixed. But in dread lest, the first shock of amazement passing away, the guards would rush upon me before I had effected my purpose, I strained with all my might; and, with a noise as of the cracking, and breaking, and tearing of rotten wood, something gave way, and I hurled the image down the steps. Its displacement revealed a great hole in the throne, like the hollow of a decayed tree, going down apparently a great way. But I had no time to examine it, for, as I looked into it, up out of it rushed a great brute, like a wolf, but twice the size, and tumbled me headlong with itself, down the steps of the throne. As we fell, however, I caught it by the throat, and the moment we reached the platform, a struggle commenced, in which I soon got uppermost, with my hand upon its throat, and knee upon its heart. But now arose a wild cry of wrath and revenge and rescue. A universal hiss of steel, as every sword was swept from its scabbard, seemed to tear the very air in shreds. I heard the rush of hundreds towards the platform on which I knelt. I only tightened my grasp of the brute's throat. His eyes were already starting from his head, and his tongue was hanging out. My anxious hope was, that, even after they had killed me, they would be unable to undo my gripe of his throat, before the monster was past breathing. I therefore threw all my will, and force, and purpose, into the grasping hand. I remember no blow. A faintness came over me, and my consciousness departed.
(to be continued)

Springhill Hollyhocks
Photos by Bob Kirchman

Springhill Hollyhocks

Springhill Hollyhocks

Springhill Hollyhocks
Every Summer they appear!, remnants of a garden planted long ago that continue to brighten the drive into Staunton along Churchville Avenue. What a great living legacy for a gardener!

Vincent, Don McClean

Staunton Mall Renaissance
A New Vision for an Older Mall

Concept Development by Bob Kirchman 

Strong anchor stores position the mall for future vitality...

Mall_Web_003 the central mall becomes a place for concerts, tea dances...

...and a lively expression of Staunton's community life!

The large open spaces...

Mall_Web_006 invite a variety of recreational options in all seasons.

Existing spaces can become more inviting...

...through invigorating design.

The attractiveness of the space is increased...

Mall_Web_002 a phased opening out of the retail units to meet today's demands.

'A Case for Vision'

A Case for Vision X

Over the past nine weeks we have been exploring the case for vision. The original complete series, first published in 2014, may be seen here:

A Case for Vision I [click to read]
A Case for Vision II [click to read]
A Case for Vision III [click to read]
A Case for Vision IV [click to read]
A Case for Vision V [click to read]
A Case for Vision VI [click to read]
A Case for Vision VII [click to read]
A Case for Vision VIII [click to read]
A Case for Vision IX [click to read]

"We Can Build That"

The past president’s statement five years ago that “You didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen” is a very concise summary of the danger posed by modern progressive liberalism to the heart of the American idea and experience, as represented by its Constitution, founding principles, and the reasons for its modern success." -- C. Boyden Gray.

In an article entitled We Can Build That [click to read], in The American Conservative, Gray examines the often dismissed case for enlightened self interest and the Scottish Enlightenment's exploration of greed as a private vice, but a public benefit. He cites Bernard de Mandeville's The Fable of the Bees: or Private Vices,Public Benefits. Modern thought is quick to come down on "corporate greed," even as it promotes a hedonistic level of "self expression." Again, Gray's article shows that human nature is more like a spirited Arabian horse. The energy and spirit of the animal might well be gentled to some noble purpose. Indeed, Adam Smith asserts:

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

But, earlier in this series, A Case for Vision, it was rightly stated that markets will provide slavery and destructive things as well as food, clothing and shelter. Just as a bridle is necessary if one is to employ the energy of a fine horse, the Golden Rule and the Rule of Law are essential components of the process. Perhaps the biggest myopia in progressive thinking is the thought that private morality is somewhat irrelevant. Corporations are evil because they operate in the realm of self-interest, but government is somehow going to operate on a higher plane because there is no "profit motive."

Perhaps the best way to illustrate the fallacy of such thinking is with an historical example. In the days of William H. Howland [click to read] the city of Toronto moved from a lawless society to one influenced by the private morality of its great mayor:

Because of his great compassion for the poor, he was elected as Mayor of Toronto in 1885, with a strong mandate to clean up the city. Howland signaled his arrival in the mayor’s office by installing a twelve-foot banner on the wall, reading, "Except the Lord Build the City, the Watchman Wakes but in Vain". Despite fierce opposition, Howland was so successful, that Toronto became nicknamed "Toronto the Good". As champion of the poor, Howland and his Alliance friend, Rev. John Salmon, would tramp the lanes and alleys, feeding the poor, praying over the sick, and comforting the sad. With a population of just 104,000, Toronto had over 800 licensed and unlicensed saloons. Over half of all criminal offenses recorded in 1885 were related to drunkenness." -- Reverend Ed Hird

Reverend Hird goes on to document the work of Howland to enforce laws already on the books and improve sanitation services to the city. The work of Howland actually resulted in a decrease in saloon business. Now the interests of the people were redirected into the providing of nobler things. On the eve of his reelection, a group of saloon owners hired all the taxis in an effort to keep people from the polls. Women had recently been enfranchised, however, and great numbers of them trudged to the polls through the snow to give Howland a resounding victory.

The moral of the story is that Howland's private sense of morality led him to press against the corruption rampant in the city government. The revivals happening in the city enlightened the self-interests of citizens, who turned from drunkenness to the building up of community and home. It is a story that has often replayed itself in the affairs of humanity. It speaks of a balance we in our time might do well to regain. I recommend The Reverend Ed Hird's excellent article: William H. Howland [click to read] as an example we might emulate.

Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar.

Then brought he me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without unto the utter gate by the way that looketh eastward; and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side.

And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles.

Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins.

Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over.

And he said unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen this? Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the brink of the river.

Now when I had returned, behold, at the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other.

Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed.

And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.

And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon it from Engedi even unto Eneglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many.

But the miry places thereof and the marishes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt.

And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine." -- Ezekiel 47:1-12

We are in need of a Great Miracle today. Other generations have faced times like this as well. In previous times of national peril, our LEADERS called for prayer. Today it is necessary for people of faith everywhere to pick up that fallen standard and lift it high. If we will prepare our own hearts, like soil for the planting, HE will plant the seed. If we will cultivate what G-d plants, nurturing it to maturity, HE will provide the bountiful harvest. If we will prepare the land, G-d promises to HEAL it. History (REAL history, that is) is filled with stories of just such promise being realized in the lives of ordinary men and women.

But to participate in promise requires a relationship. G-d is not some abstract concept, but rather He is the Author/Creator of the Universe. He has a NAME... a Name so Holy as not to be uttered lightly on Earth, but a Name, to be KNOWN by. And how shall I find this G-d? There are men and women in this world who converse with Him in prayer. It is through relationship with THEM that we may be introduced to the Magnificent One, the G-d of Redemption. I am at best a poor disciple of His, but I am His disciple. You should not be introduced to Him by some formula in the writings of man, but rather in the Inspired Words of His Own Testimony. That is why I, and many more of His disciples stand ready to open the Holy Scriptures WITH YOU. In them you will find the Life and Light I speak of. The Food Channel cannot actually nourish you. You must step into the room where the meals are served.

An Earthly author cannot see the 'Great Miracle' that you, the reader, desperately need. But we CAN go together to the Master, who indeed knows what will nourish each of us. It is highly likely that you know someone who knows the Master, who can take you to the place where He can meet you with healing and nourishment. As I write this I pray that that person might indeed come to mind. Before I came to faith I was keenly aware that there was a certain brightness and clarity about the lives of certain people I knew. Later I realized that some of them had indeed been praying for me. Yet, you might be reading this and G-d's Holy Spirit may be speaking to you and you are not sure who to go to. You may comment to this and it will not be published. I moderate all comments. Thus if you would like to know G-d as Reedemer, let me know in the comment block how to get in touch. It will not be made public. It is my desire that you be able to find the 'Living Water' that you so deeply desire.

The greatest miracle is not the parting of the sea or the feeding of thousands, it is the transformation of the human heart. That is the miracle that gives us access to G-d. It is in knowing G-d that we will find far more than we were looking for in the first place!

Vacation Bible School, Waynesboro, Virginia.

The Laying of the First Stone for the Railroad.

The Vision of Charles Carroll

July 4, 1828 the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence took part in an important ceremony as he turned the first spade of earth at the symbolic laying of the first stone of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Fifty-two years after he put his name to the document that began our nation, Charles Carroll of Carrollton participated in an event that looked to her future. Indeed, inspired by the Ellicott Brothers [click to read], Carroll had already diversified agriculture on his large estate in Howard County, Maryland. He had helped build flour mills and limestone mills that in turn helped to create a more sustainable agriculture. The Quaker Ellicotts had migrated to this "picturesque wilderness" from Bucks County, Pennsylvania and partnered with Carroll, a Catholic, to move the region away from single crop plantations and enrich the soil with ground limestone, a practice that continues to this day. Now the ninety year old patriot was breaking ground for the prototype railroad. It was not exactly like the modern rails on cross ties we are familiar with, but rather iron straps laid on top of two continuous granite "curbs." The first motive power was horsepower. Horses actually pulled the carriages along the rails. A wind powered wicker car was even experimented with before the famous "Tom Thumb" steam engine gave challenge to a horse drawn train carriage in the now legendary race. [2.]

I consider this among the most important acts of my life, second only to my signing the Declaration of Independence, if even it be second to that.” Carroll said of the moment. The stone, laid in a field outside Baltimore, was also a time capsule, into which were placed a copy of the company's charter, newspapers of the day and a scroll bearing the words: "This Stone is deposited in commemoration of the commencement of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. A work of deep and vital interest to the American people. Its accomplishment will confer the most important benefits upon this nation, by facilitating its commerce, diffusing and extending its social intercourse, and perpetuating the happy Union of these, Confederated States. The first general meeting of the citizens of Baltimore to confer upon the adoption of proper measures for undertaking this magnificent work, was on the second day of' February 1827…” [1.]

The railroad would eventually do all of these things as a vast nation would be joined together by her steel rails. The Nineteenth Century would see her span from sea to sea to become a country her founders could scarcely have imagined!

Charles Carroll had been born in September 1737 in Annapolis. He attended Jesuit colleges in Maryland and France, before going on to study law in Paris and London. In 1765 he returned to Howard County and took charge of the Carroll family's vast estate there. Catholics in Maryland before independence were not allowed to participate in politics, practice law or vote, but Carroll became influential as a writer of tracts against taxation without representation under the pseudonym "First Citizen." In 1776 he was appointed to the Continental Congress. Although he was not present for the vote for independence, he was one of the first signers. He added the distinct identifier: "of Carrollton" to distinguish himself from a number of relatives having the same name. After independence was won, Carroll became a Maryland State Senator in 1777 and eventually became a United States Senator representing that state.

In 1800 he left political service and was instrumental in building canals and the establishment of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company. His farm in Howard County became a model of improvements in agriculture. He died in Baltimore in 1835 at the age of 95.