The First Navigator

 

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The First Navigator

Beaver floating on a logTHE origin of navigation is unknown. It has baffled the research of antiquaries, for the simple reason that men sailed upon the sea before they committed the records of their history to paper, or that such records, if any existed, were swept away and lost in the periods of anarchy which succeeded. Imagination has suggested that the nautilus, or Portuguese man-of-war, raising its tiny sail and floating off before the breeze, first pointed out to man the use which might be made of the wind as a propelling force; that a split reed, following the current of some tranquil stream and transporting a beetle over its glassy surface, was the first canoe, while the beetle was the first sailor.

Mythology represents Hercules as sailing in a boat formed of the hide of a lion, and translates ships to the skies, where they still figure among the constellations. Fable makes Atlas claim the invention of the oar, and gives to Tiphys, the pilot of the Argo, the invention of the rudder. The attributing of these discoveries and improvements to particular individuals doubtless afforded pastime to poets in ages when poetry was more popular than history.

Instead of trusting to these fanciful authorities, we may form a very rational theory upon the matter in the following manner: Whether it was an insect that floated on a leaf across a rivulet and was stranded on the bank, or a beaver carried down a river upon a log, or a bear borne away upon an iceberg, that first awakened man to the conception of trusting himself fearlessly upon the water, it is highly probable that he learned from animals, whose natural element it is, the manner of supporting his body upon it and of forcing his way through it. A frog darting away from the rim of a pond and striking out with his fore-legs may have suggested swimming, and the beaver floating on a log may have suggested following his example. The log may not have been sufficiently buoyant, and the adventurer may have added to its buoyancy by using his arms and legs.

Excerpt from Man Upon the Sea by Frank B Goodrich – 1858

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Further Reading and External Links

Navigation on Wikipedia

Greek & Roman Mythology – Cronus

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There is a charm in the name of ancient Greece; there is glory in every page of her history; there is a fascination in the remains of her literature, and a sense of unapproachable beauty in her works of art; there is a spell in her climate still, and a strange attraction in her ruins.  

Today we cover the Greek God Cronus, other postings examine more particularly the religious belief of the Greeks and Romans, with the view of preparing the way for the descriptions that follow of the gods individually.

Cronus

Cronus and RheaCRONUS, “The ripener, the harvest god,” was, as we have already remarked, a son of Uranus.  That he continued for a long time to be identified with the Roman deity, Saturnus, is a mistake which recent research has set right, and accordingly we shall devote a separate chapter to each. Uranus, deposed from the throne of the gods, was succeeded by Cronus, who married his own sister Rhea, a daughter of Gaea, who bore him Pluto, Poseidon (Neptune) and Zeus (Jupiter), Hestia (Vesta), Demeter (Ceres), and Hera (Juno). To prevent the fulfilment of a prophecy which had been communicated to him by his parents, that, like his father, he too would be dethroned by his youngest son, Cronus swallowed his first five children apparently as each came into the world. But when the sixth child appeared, Rhea, his wife, determined to save it, and succeeded in duping her husband by giving him a stone (perhaps rudely hewn into the figure of an infant) wrapped in swaddling clothes, which he swallowed, believing he had got rid of another danger.

While the husband was being deceived in this fashion, Zeus, the newly born child, was conveyed to the island of Crete, and there concealed in a cave on Mount Ida. The nymphs Adrastea and Ida tended and nursed him, the goat Amalthea supplied him with milk, bees gathered honey for him,Curetes Guarding Zeus and in the mean time, lest his infantile cries should reach the cars of Cronus, Rhea’s servants, the Curetes, were appointed to keep up a continual noise and din in the neighborhood by dancing and clashing their swords and shields.

When Zeus had grown to manhood he succeeded by the aid of Gaea, or perhaps of Metis, in persuading Cronus to yield bark into the light the sons whom he had swallowed and the stone which had been given him in deceit. The stone was placed at Delphi as a memorial for all time. The liberated gods joined their brethren in a league to drive their father from the throne and set Zeus in his place.

Excerpt from The Manual of Mythology by Alexander Stuart Murray – 1897

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Further Reading and External Links

Cronus on Encyclopedia Mythica

Memoirs of Sir Henry Keppel – 1843

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Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry Keppel, GCB, OM (14 June 1809 – 17 January 1904) was a British admiral and son of the 4th Earl of Albemarle. “A man might achieve great legislative results, do great deeds, and be a most useful member of society, but unless he possessed the gift of personality he would be to the general public as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.”  Henry Keppel undoubtedly possessed that gift.

Below is the fifth installment in our series of a selection of his memoirs, others will follow over the coming weeks.

CHAPTER V – Memoirs of Sir Henry Keppel

In bitter cold, hazy weather in midwinter the ‘Dido’ arrived at Spithead, and Keppel was looking forward to joining his wife, whom he had not seen for four years, at her father’s house, only fourteen miles off, when he got orders to proceed immediately to Sheerness.  This was more than human nature could endure, and so his resourceful imagination came to his help for a way out of the difficulty.

To his dismay, the Admiral at Portsmouth, with whom he was dining, said he would send him aboard on his tender, and then the reckless audacity of the man asserted itself.

He found the Master of the ‘Dido’ who was about his size and build, made him put on his cocked hat, sword and epaulettes, while he donned the Master’s oilskin and pea-jacket, accompanied him aboard in the tender, touched his hat to him, and was landed by a waterman at Gosport, while the Master in disguise took the Dido’ to Sheerness.

Such a daring bit of foolhardiness makes one shiver, even after the lapse of more than half a century.  It is not difficult on reading of these scrapes to understand the saying of a somewhat severe old admiral, who said, speaking of Harry: ‘The bravest man that ever lived, who ought to have been turned out of the Service years ago.’

The following morning Keppel and his wife started off to post to Sheerness, where he changed clothes with the Master, and all was well.  The Dido’ was paid off, the men receiving 4,000l in prize money.

His old fondness for the racecourse took him, of course, to Goodwood.  His wife was not so much at home in racing circles as he was, and, seeing Lord Albemarle in deep conversation with a lightweight in a blue coat, brass buttons, yellow leathers, and mahogany tops, she inquired whether that was her father-in-law’s jockey.  ‘No,’ said Lady Albemarle, ‘that is the Duke of Bedford.’

Newmarket succeeded Goodwood, and he attended the races in good sporting company.  His natural taste for the Turf was fostered by Sir Joseph Hawley, ‘the lucky baronet,’ who had married one of the Miss Crosbies and become Harry’s brother-in-law.  He was only five years younger than Harry, and after a short career in the Army and as a yachtsman had devoted his time and money to the Turf, where he achieved enormous successes with Teddington, Beadsman, Musjid, Blue Gown, Aphrodite, Mendicant, and Caractacus. Whenever Harry was ashore in the racing season he paid a visit to his kinsman till his death in [1875].

Before that he took a great interest in the training of Sir Joseph’s fine stud and in their performances.  Admiral Rous, who was his senior by some nine years, had left the Navy in [1836], and was considered one of the finest handicappers in the world.  It is easy to imagine what fun those race meetings must have been, when the sailor fresh ‘from war’s alarms,’ who had been absent for years, came amongst his old friends again at Goodwood or Newmarket.

Excerpt from Sir Henry Keppel – Admiral of the Fleet – by Sir Algernon Edward West – 1905

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Further Reading and External Links

Henry Keppel on Wikipedia

Greek & Roman Mythology – Uranus

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There is a charm in the name of ancient Greece; there is glory in every page of her history; there is a fascination in the remains of her literature, and a sense of unapproachable beauty in her works of art; there is a spell in her climate still, and a strange attraction in her ruins.  

Here we cover the Greek God Uranus, other posting examine more particularly the religious belief of the Greeks and Romans, with the view of preparing the way for the descriptions that follow of the gods individually.

Uranus

Council of the GodsUranus is a personification of the sky as the ancients saw and understood its phenomena, and with him, according to the version of mythology usually accepted by the Greeks, commences the race of gods. Next succeeded Cronus, and lastly, Zeus (Jupiter).  With regard to this triple succession of supreme rulers of the world, we should notice the different and progressive signification of their three names, Uranus signifying the heavens viewed as husband of the earth, and by his warmth and moisture producing life and vegetation everywhere on it; Cronus, his successor, being the god of harvest, who also ripened and matured every form of life; while in the person of Zeus (Jupiter), god of the light of heaven, as his name implies, culminated the organization and perfectly wise and just dispensation of the affairs of the universe.  Uranus, as we have already observed, was a son of Gaea (the earth), whom he afterward married, the fruit of that union being the Titans, the Hecatoncheires, and the Cyolopes.

The Hecatoncheires, or Centimani, beings each with a hundred hands, were three in number: Cottus, Gyges or Gyes, and Briareus, and represented the frightful crashing of waves and its resemblance to the convulsion of earthquakes. The Cyolopes also were three in number: Brontes with his thunder, Steropes with his lightning, and Arges with his stream of light. They were represented as having only one eye, which was placed at the juncture between nose and brow. It was, however, a large flashing eye, as became beings who were personifications of the storm-cloud, with its flashes of destructive lightning and peals of thunder.

Excerpt from The Manual of Mythology by Alexander Stuart Murray – 1897

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Further Reading and External Links

Uranus – God of the Sky

Uranus – at the Roman Colosseum

The Great Charter – 1215

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Below is an Excerpt from The Rise and Fall of Nations: Ancient and Mediaeval by Josephus Nelson Larned – 1907 – it covers one of the most celebrated documents in history – The Magna Carta.

The Great Charter – 1215

King John signs the Magna CartaThe Great Charter (signed at Runnymede on the 15th of June, 1215) provided, says Bishop Stubbs, “that the Commons of the realm should have the benefit of every advantage which the two elder estates had won for themselves, and it bound the barons to treat their dependents as it bound the king to treat the barons.  Of its sixty-three articles, some provided securities for personal freedom; no man was to be taken, imprisoned, or damaged in person or estate, but by the judgment of his peers and by the law of the land. Others fixed the rate of payments due by the vassal to his lord.  Others presented rules for national taxation and for the organization of a national council, without the consent of which the king could not tax.  Others decreed the banishment of the alien servants of John.  Although it is not the foundation of English liberty, it is the first, the clearest, the most united, and historically the most important of the great enunciations of it.”

Most of the other peoples in Europe, as a German historian has remarked, obtained from their rulers, at some time in their history, agreements of the nature of the, English Magna Charta, but allowed them to become a dead letter. The English never suffered their charter to be forgotten, but kept it in force by confirmations, which, first and last, were repeated no less than thirty-eight times.

A few weeks after signing the great charter John tried to annul it, with authority from the pope.  Then certain of the barons, in their rage, offered the English crown to the heir of France, afterwards Louis VIII; and the French prince came to England with an army to secure it.  But, before the forces gathered were brought to any decisive battle, John died.  Louis’ partisans then dropped away from him and the next year, after a defeat at sea, he returned to France.  John left a son, a lad of nine years, who grew to be a better man than himself, though not a good king, for he was untruthful and weak. He held the throne for fifty-six years, during which long time, after his minority was passed, no minister of ability and honorable character could get and keep office in his service.  He was jealous of ministers, preferring mere administrative clerks, but was docile to favorites, and picked them for the most part from a swarm of foreign adventurers whom the nation detested.

Excerpt from The Rise and Fall of Nations: Ancient and Mediaeval by Josephus Nelson Larned – 1907

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Further Reading and External Links

The Magna Carta at the British Library

The Magna Carta at the National Archives

Memoirs of Sir Henry Keppel – 1838

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Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry Keppel, GCB, OM (14 June 1809 – 17 January 1904) was a British admiral and son of the 4th Earl of Albemarle. “A man might achieve great legislative results, do great deeds, and be a most useful member of society, but unless he possessed the gift of personality he would be to the general public as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.”  Henry Keppel undoubtedly possessed that gift.

Below is the fourth installment in our series of a selection of his memoirs, others will follow over the coming weeks.

CHAPTER IV – Memoirs of Sir Henry Keppel – 1838

In June [1838] Keppel, sound in health and spirits, had just returned to England from the West Coast of Africa, and was taking part in all the riotous proceedings of the jeunesse doree of those days: Epsom, Ascot, and Goodwood, dinners at Knightsbridge Barracks, suppers at Limmer’s, and rows with watchmen in the streets, as was then the fashion.

These last amusements made him acquainted with the cells of a police court, and drew from him fines which he could ill afford to pay.  But this was the shady side of his life; on the other, he attended balls at Prince Esterhazy’s and at Buckingham Palace, and was present at the Coronation of Queen Victoria on June 28, when Mr. Coke, who had married his sister, was made Earl of Leicester.  

Many were the people of note that Keppel came across during his stay in London.  At Lady Lansdowne’s ball to the Foreign Ambassadors who had come over to take part in the Coronation ceremonies he saw Marshal Soult, who was now the idol of the public, and the Duke of Wellington talking together.  

And on another night he was in attendance on the Duke of Sussex at a magnificent ball given by Marshal Soult.   All this dissipation was brought to a happy conclusion at St. George’s, Hanover Square, where he was married, on February 25, [1839], to Miss Kate Crosbie.  

His elder brother Lord Albemarle was present at Buckingham Palace during the birth of the Princess Royal on November 21, [1840], and shortly afterwards Harry accompanied him to Buckingham Palace, where he partook of cake and caudle, as was then the fashion.

Soon after this he went with his young wife to Baden-Baden, where he met an unknown man in the Kursaal, who insisted on shaking hands with him, saying he looked so like one of the family.  This unknown man turned out to be his eldest brother, Lord Bury, whom he had not seen for twelve years.

Excerpt from Sir Henry Keppel – Admiral of the Fleet – by Sir Algernon Edward West – 1905

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Further Reading and External Links

Henry Keppel on Wikipedia

Norse Mythology – Odin

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Odin

OdinThe physical origin of the idea of Odin is evident, first from the moaning of his name, and, secondly, from the various attributes assigned to him.  The word Odin is simply another form of Woden, or Wuotan, which Grimm connects with the Latin vadere.  He is thus the moving, life-giving breath or air of heaven; and as such corresponds to the Hindoo Brahmin – Atman (German, Athem), or ever-present life and energy.  His Greek correlative is, of course, Zeus, who is likewise spoken of as All-father.  The name Zeus is derived from a root signifying “to shine,” and thus the King of the Greek Asgard was originally “the glistening ether.”  

It was but natural that Odin, as the personification of the blue sky, should rule the rain-clouds and the sunlight; hence as Odin the rain-giver he corresponds with Zeus Ombrios (the showery Zeus), while as the light-god he is merely a Norse Phoebus or Apollo, whose spear – the sun rays – disperses the darkness.  As sky-god, and god of the moving air, he was, no less naturally or inevitably, invoked as the protector of sailors.  In this respect he corresponds or is interchangeable with Thor.  But this interchange, or overlapping, of functions is as distinctive of Norse as of Greek mythology,

Finally, Zeus and Odin resemble each other in their development from purely physical into spiritual beings.  Odin, the ever-present ether, becomes the ever-present and ever-knowing spirit, the Father of all.  And as Zeus is the father of the Muses, so Odin is the father of Saga, the goddess of poetry. The two ravens that sat on the shoulders of Odin, and every morning brought him news of what was passing in the world, were called Hunin and Munin – Thought and Memory.  Memory, or Muemosyne, was the mother of the Greek Muses.  

A trace of the worship of Odin survives even to the present day.  In one of the Orkney islands is an Odin stone, in a hollow of which superstitious people thrust their hands, by way of testifying on their most solemn oath.  The island of Heligoland is said to have derived its name from Odin, who was also named Helgi (der Helige), or the Holy.  “Charles’s Wain” as we now call it, was named Odin’s Wain; and the “Milky Way” was also known as Odin’s Way.  Unlike Zeus – the Greek All-father – Odin was also a god of war.  Hence it was that, as already observed, he received into Walhalla one-half of the heron slain in battle.

Excerpt from The Manual of Mythology by Alexander Stuart Murray – 1897

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Further Reading and External Links

Norse Mythology

Odin – Ruler of the Universe

Memoirs of Henry Keppel -1832

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Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry Keppel, GCB, OM (14 June 1809 – 17 January 1904) was a British admiral and son of the 4th Earl of Albemarle. “A man might achieve great legislative results, do great deeds, and be a most useful member of society, but unless he possessed the gift of personality he would be to the general public as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.”  Henry Keppel undoubtedly possessed that gift.

Below is the third installment in our series of a selection of his memoirs, others will follow over the coming weeks.

CHAPTER III – Memoirs of Henry Keppel -1832

The MagicienneWhile still in the ‘Magicienne’ Keppel was sent on a little blockading expedition to the Moowar River, where he was to assist the Rajah, who was a loyal adherent of the English.  The Rajah provided him with elephant and alligator shooting.  So struck was he with Keppel that he offered him his daughter in marriage on condition that he should become heir to his throne of Moowar.  This offer was not sufficiently tempting.  Had he accepted it he would have avoided a nasty tossing from a buffalo and a bad fall out hunting at Barrackpur.  Such accidents, however, were the rule rather than the exception in his career, and in after-years he often remarked, with a laugh, ‘There is not a bone of my body that has not been broken,’ adding, and some of them have never been set!’.  

At Madras the mail brought him news of his promotion to the rank of commander, and he immediately returned home in a trading vessel, which reached England in [1833].  On arrival he found an invitation awaiting him to dine with the King at the Pavilion at Brighton.  The Duke of Sussex, who was staying there, took Keppel to Holkham, which he was delighted to revisit, though later he returned to Brighton.  At that time Almack’s balls took place at the Pavilion, where the King and Queen held their Court from October to February.  One morning the King’s carriage came round to the door with the coachman evidently drunk.  The King indulged in strong naval language, and, evidently thinking he was still on board ship, told the coachman he would report him to the master-at-arms!

Here Keppel made acquaintance with the dandies of the day, with whom Lord Lamington ‘Childers’has made us all so familiar; but in the middle of these amusements he was appointed to the brig ‘Childers’ for service in the Mediterranean, and was presented at Court by Sir James Graham, then First Lord of the Admiralty.

He was advised by his brother-in-law, through whose instrumentality he had obtained his nomination, not to show himself at the Admiralty, where the Board might think his appearance too young and small to justify his appointment; so he went straight down to Portsmouth, where bills were soon posted, ‘Wanted, petty officers and able seamen for H.M.S. “Childers,” Commander Keppel; none but the right sort need apply.’  And the right sort did apply.

Excerpt from Sir Henry Keppel – Admiral of the Fleet – by Sir Algernon Edward West – 1905

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Further Reading and External Links

Henry Keppel on Wikipedia

Greek Mythology – Apollo

Phoebus Apollo, Helios, or Sol

Apollo

From the sun comes our physical light, but that light is at the same time an emblem of all mental illumination, of knowledge, truth, and right, of all moral purity; and in this respect a distinction was made between it as a mental and a physical phenomenon a distinction which placed Phoebus Apollo on one side and  Helios on the other.  Accordingly Phoebus Apollo is the oracular god who throws light on the dark ways of the future, who slays the Python, that monster of darkness which made the oracle at Delphi inaccessible.  He is the god Helios, or Sol. of music and song, which are only heard where light and security reign and the possession of herds is free from danger.  Helios, on the other hand, is the physical phenomenon of light, the orb of the sun, which, summer and winter, rises and sets in the sky.  His power of bringing secrets to light has been already seen in the story of Vulcan and Venus.

The myth of Apollo is, like that of Aphrodite, one of the oldest in the Greek system, but, unlike the latter, which is at least partly traceable to oriental influence, is a pure growth of the Greek mind.  No doubt certain oriental nations had deities of the sun and of light similar in some points to Apollo, but this only proves the simple fact that they viewed the movements of the sun and the operations of light in a general way similarly to the Greeks.  We have seen in the preceding chapters how the sky, earth, sea, and lower world were personified by divine beings of a high order, while in the same way other forces and powers in nature were imagined as beings.  In the myth of Apollo we shall find represented the various operations of the eternal light of the sun.

It is the sun’s rays, or the arrows of Apollo, that everywhere, as the fields and gardens teach us, quicken life, and foster it toward ripeness; through them a new life springs all around, and in the warmth of their soft, kindly light the jubilant voice of nature is heard and awakens an echo in the human soul.  At the same time these arrows destroy the life of plants and animals; even man falls under them in southern climates, such as Greece.

Excerpt from The Manual of Mythology by Alexander Stuart Murray – 1897

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Further Reading and External Links

Greek God Apollo

Apollo – God of the Sun

Greek & Roman Mythology – Aphrodite or Venus

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Aphrodite or Venus

Aphrodite or VenusWas the goddess of love in that wide sense of the word which in early times embraced also the love of animals, and the love which was thought to be the cause of productiveness throughout nature.  

Accordingly we find in her character, side by side with what is beautiful and noble, much that is coarse and unworthy.  In the best times of Greece the refined and beautiful features of her worship were kept in prominence, both in poetry and art; but these, when times of luxury succeeded, had to give way to impurities of many kinds.  

The feelings awakened by observing the productive power of nature had, it would seem, given rise to a divine personification of love in very remote early times among the nations of the East.  The Phoenicians called this personification Astarte, and carried her worship with them wherever they established factories or markets in Greece, in the islands of the Mediterranean, and on to Italy.  The early Greeks coming in contact with these traders, and obtaining from them a knowledge of coinage, weights, measures, and other necessaries of commerce and trade including, it is said, a system of writing appear to have transferred some of the functions of the oriental goddess to their own Aphrodite, as, for instance, the function of protecting commerce.  The earliest known Greek coins – those of Aegina – the weights of which correspond accurately with the oriental standard, have the figure of a tortoise, the well-known symbol of Aphrodite.  How much else of the character of their goddess the Greeks may have derived from the Phoenicians it would be impossible to say.  But the extraordinary zeal with which she continued to be worshipped in Cyprus, Cythera, Corinth, Carthage, Sicily, and wherever in early times the Phoenicians had made settlements, may signify that others of her functions besides that of protecting commerce had been borrowed from the oriental goddess.  The older Aphrodite worshipped in Greece previous to the introduction of Phoenician elements in her character is described as a daughter of Zeus (Iliad v. 312) and Dione, and through her mother was associated with the ancient worship at Dodona.

Excerpt from The Manual of Mythology by Alexander Stuart Murray – 1897

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Further Reading and External Links

More on Aphrodite