Monthly Archives: July 2022

Dorothy Osborne Part 3!

Virginia Woolf wrote a nice essay about Dorothy Osborne’s letter collection.

And here it is.

Obviously Virginia Woolf had a fun side, even if we don’t hear about it much.

The ending isn’t fair, though. Writing is very good, and Dorothy’s letters deservedly have been preserved as treasures. But life together with her love was undoubtedly more real and good for her than life apart.

Conversation is fleeting, but it is one of the great performance arts of humanity, being something that requires listening to everyone else who plays a part. Having a part in history, at the time history is happening, is important. If Dorothy had so many skills and abilities that she could pick and choose, how can it be right to deny her the choice?

I was delighted to find out that Dorothy and her husband acted as employers and mentors of the young Swift. That’s beautiful.

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Dorothy Osborne Part 2

There’s a book called The Letters of Dorothy Osborne! So if you want to read a young Royalist woman’s love letters, when they’re perfectly wholesome and led up to marriage, and also met the literary and personal liking of people like Macaulay… There you go!

As if it wasn’t romantic enough, the foreword tells us exactly why William Temple fell in love with Dorothy Osborne, and a very quickwitted and generous act was what did it.

And his family was Parliamentarian… so you can imagine that neither family was too pleased about the couple.

All sorts of things happened in those seven years, but the couple persisted. Temple knew that his girl loved cheesy French romance novels, so he WROTE HER SOME.

On Temple’s part, he was not at all discouraged from marrying her when she came down from smallpox. In fact, he helped nurse her through a life-threatening bout, along with her sister, and was totally unconcerned that his beloved was seriously scarred. As soon as she was well enough, and as soon as Advent was over, he married her on Christmas Day; and they seem to have been very happy.

My gosh, this is so wholesome. And her reproduced signature is so darned cute.

More about Dorothy Osborne and William Temple. There is a modern history book about them, called Read My Heart.

Dorothy sent her letters by “carrier,” every week. There were wagons that went around various districts, picking up and delivering goods, and also carrying mail and packages to the nearest place where mail could be passed on (like the local inn). The mail, packages, or goods that were going to other towns would be packed onto other carrier wagons, or onto stagecoaches going to big cities; and from there, it might be sent on boats that carried mail and packages to France or other countries. So mail could take a while to get places, especially if it was being sent overseas, but the crazyquilt system seems to have worked.

As a daughter of the house, getting goods off the carrier and supervising the servants would have been one of her jobs. But sending out a bunch of correspondence every week to her boyfriend… even if she was also sending out a lot of other letters, it took some chutzpah.

Sadly, we don’t have many of William’s letters to Dorothy, because she destroyed his letters to prevent them being found by her family, and especially by the older brother who wanted to get her married off. William seems to have promised to destroy her letters, and then kept a good chunk of them. (But of course he wasn’t living at home with his family most of the time, so there was little danger of discovery.)


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The Translator Is a Traitor

Roger Pearse notes some altered translations of Bible passages about sexual practices.

And here’s a paper by Daniel Jennings on how some significant Bible texts about divorce have been… softened.

It’s disappointing. And it shows that some people don’t care about saving souls.


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Kimono Exhibit at the Met

Holy crud. Kosode pattern books from the 1600’s!!!

A firefighter jacket worn by a samurai woman when Jane Austen was alive!

You need to see this stuff!!

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Inchiquin with His Doggo

He was caught between two worlds and he wasn’t the nicest of men.

But his Irish wolfhound loved him.

Sir Godfrey Kneller did a pretty awesome job with this one.

(The reproduction of the portrait isn’t all that bright, so you may have to zoom in, just to see the dog.)

He was probably named for William of Orange, because Uilliam wasn’t a popular Irish name until Protestants started using it.

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Equivalent Naming: Because I Can

I’ve turned this post into a page, because it was getting ridiculously long. And I’m probably going to have to consult it reasonably often, as I hope others will.

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Equivalent Naming: Lucius among the O’Briens!

MYSTERY SOLVED!!!! I am so happy!!!!

LibraryIreland has an online copy of a VERY USEFUL BOOK called Irish Names and Surnames, which I think I’ve seen referenced but have never seen before. The given name section is divided into names of men and women, and each entry has a separate webpage for easier searching. So good!!!

Anyway, it turns out that Lucius is a common name for O’Briens because of Irish equivalent naming (ie, getting around the stupid idea that Catholics or Anglicans should only be baptized with “official” saint names from the Bible or the Roman martyrology list, instead of allowing all saints’ names from Ireland).

Lucius is being used as a replacement name for “Lachtna,” the name of Brian Boru’s great-grandfather.

(That said, it would be hilarious if Lucius Malfoy were an O’Brien connection. High. Larious.)

The saint in question, however, is St. Lactan or Lactali, also spelled Lachtan and Lachtna and Lachtin or Lachteen. There’s one of the Lachtans who lived in the late 500’s, and another who lived in the 600’s. There’s an arm reliquary for the older one (no bone left in it, unfortunately, although the reliquary is now itself a relic), and there are a couple of holy wells. (More about the holy wells. Boy, Ireland really has some nicely maintained holy wells.) The saints’ days are said to be March 19 or March 17, which runs them into St. Joseph and St. Patrick. Oops.

“Lacht” means milk, or anything liquid (and thus milk-like), and -an means “one, person,” and spins out a noun into a name. So Lachtan was probably a religious name meaning “milk-guy,” and probably implied that he was just a student (and needed milk more than meat), or implied that he was a good teacher for beginners (by providing “milk”).

Lachteen would be the same thing, except with an -in/-een diminutive.

However, Lachtna itself means “milk-colored,” which goes all the way to unmilky colors like “gray, mouse brown, dun,” because it also means “the color of sheep” and “the color of unbleached wool.” So maybe it’s a religious name comparing a monk to a sheep, or talking about the color of his monk robes or his very plain cloak.

Anyhoo… the saints are very popular in O’Brien country, and it’s very likely that Brian Boroimhe’s great-grandfather would have been named after them. The connection to milk and sheep would also be connected to fertility and prosperity, so it’s all quite nice. j

“Lucius” is a Roman surname, as well as being the masculine form of Lucia/Lucy. It means “of light, lighted.” But the surname comes from another word, Luscus, meaning “one-eyed.

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Medieval/Early Modern Irish Audiobooks/ASMR

Dorothy Osborne, later Lady Temple, the wife of Sir William Temple, enjoyed large dogs and was a big fan of Irish wolfhounds. In some ways this was bad, because the breed was over-exported out of Ireland and almost died out, while wolves overran Ireland for lack of armed Irish or hunting dogs to keep them in check. But we also have her letters about them, and her husband’s letters back.

Dorothy was of good family and beautiful, and had a ton of serious suitors, including a bunch of Cromwells and cousins of herself. But she had already fallen in love in 1647, with Temple, when they were both about nineteen. He went off to Ireland to seek his fortune and hers, and she stayed in England refusing everybody — and revealing nothing about her long secret correspondence with her beloved. They finally were able to marry in 1654, after Temple had served seven years for her, like Jacob for Rachel. They got married on Christmas Day (almost the first moment you could get married, after Advent), and stayed married until Dorothy’s death in 1695! Romantic!!!

In The History of the Irish Wolfdog, (section 65, pp. 41-42) Fr. Edmund Hogan notes one of Temple’s letters, explaining how Irish lords of clans would have a poet, a doctor, a huntsman, a smith… but also an official tale-teller. (They don’t have the Irish, so I don’t know if it’s a seanachie.) One of Temple’s friends had gone hunting with one of these lords, and was too tired and ill at night to be able to sleep. So the lord called on his tale-teller to help this guy out, as he did when the lord was depressed and/or could not sleep.

“….they would bring him one of these tale-tellers, that, when he lay down, would begin a story of a king, or a giant, a dwarf and a damsel, and such rambling stuff, and continue it all night long in such an even tone, that you heard it going on whenever you awaked; and he believed nothing any physicians give could have so good and so innocent an effect to make men sleep, in any pain or distempers of body or mind.”

It was typical for some feasts to go on all night, or most of a night; and it was also typical for village gatherings at people’s houses to be like this, at times. Probably the tale-tellers were usually more exciting about it; doing sleep stories would be a specialty for great houses. But it wasn’t asking too much, because normal stories could easily last all night or for several days in a row. Poets also had to memorize up to 150 stories as part of their literary training, so some of these tale-tellers may have been junior poets.

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A Really Fun Real Estate Site

The website for the Mostyn Estates (ie, the properties in Wales of a gentry/noble family called Mostyn, who were kinsfolk with that naughty Jasper Tudor) includes a really large section at the bottom of their home page marked “Our Heritage.”

This is an interesting look at the history of the family and its properties, including the turning of a small seaside place called Llandudno (St. Tudno’s) into a modern seaside resort.

One branch of the Mostyns were recusant Catholics. Another branch was headed by one of the least energetic priesthunters in English and Welsh history, who basically did everything he could to let people escape.

According to Fr. Edmund Hogan’s book, The History of the Irish Wolfdog, Mostyn Hall has, or used to have, frescos of a hunt with Irish wolfhounds… but I didn’t see that on their website. Sigh.

Since the book describes the place with the frescos as “Easton Mostyn Hall, near Towcester,” it’s possible that Hogan’s correspondent, Mr. Clifton of Rathmines, was actually talking about “Easton Neston,” a big house near Towcester. (I don’t know how to find out about this, as the house is in private hands as a totally private residence and business HQ for Leon Max, of Max Studio, and does not seem to have a visitor website.)

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Irish Wolfhound Colors in Irish

alad, alath: variegated, piebald, pinto. Similar words are “breac” (speckled, variegated, patterned) and “riabach” (brindled in cows and horses, maybe not dogs).

ban: white.

buidh: tan, if it’s describing fur or human hair color. (Yellow as a regular color. “Fionn,” bright, is what you call a blond person’s hair. Fair skin is also “fionn.”)

donn: brown. (Always refers to hair color, whether a dog or a human. A brown man or a brown girl has brown hair, not brown skin.)

dubh: black (Also a hair color thing, for dogs or humans. A black man has black hair, not black skin. A black- or brown-skinned man is described in Irish as having skin that is “gorm,” a dark/low-intensity blue or green.)

liath: gray, especially fur and hair. (Gray eyes were traditionally considered “uaine,” which usually means a bright green, but in this case it’s a bright or vibrant/shiny gray. “Glas” is yet another word for green, but it can also mean gray or blue — all three colors are supposed to be rather pale and calm. A gray horse is “capall glas,” even though a dog or a human is “liath.”)

ruad: red. Specifically a dark red, like old blood. (Dearg/derg is bright red.) Human hair and dog fur is always rua.

Oh, and here’s bonus dog words in Old Irish —

drettel: darling, favorite. Example: “drettli milchu.”

loman: string or rope, but also a dog leash. “cu lomna,” dog on a leash. “milchu ar a morlomain” – a wolfhound on a big leash.

oirce: pet dog, lap dog. “horcae milchu.” Family pets had a special legal position in medieval Irish law, as opposed to dogs that were just owned and used.

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St. Patrick’s Owner

I never caught this.

The name of St. Patrick’s owner (who was a druid of rank) was named Mil-chu. And a mil-chu (large + greyhound, hound) was an Irish wolfhound.

And when Patrick was out herding sheep and guarding them from wolves, his friend was a mil-chu.

And when he caught a ride with pirates and got shipwrecked back in Roman territory (either in Gaul or Britain), his job was taking care of the mil-chu cargo.

One of St. Patrick’s converts and supporters, who granted him land in Down, was named Di-chu.

St. Patrick, pray for us!

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Please Do Not Lie to Us

So numerous physician websites say that there is no difference between over the counter ibuprofen and prescription ibuprofen, except that prescription ibuprofen comes in bigger doses per pill.

Then they say that the adult human, absolute maximum dosage for 24 hours of OTC ibuprofen is 1200 mg (or sometimes 1800 mg), whereas the absolute maximum dosage for 24 hours for prescription ibuprofen is 3200 mg. (And the absolute maximum per dose at a time, every four hours, is 800 mg.)

Now, I’m all on board with telling people, “Look, if you need 3200 mg to handle pain or inflammation, you need to get to a doctor and get a prescription.” And I’m fine with them warning that pregnant women may not be able to take as much ibuprofen, because of the baby and because of metabolism. Please include all the caveats. Yes, ibuprofen overdoses do happen when people aren’t careful. Yes, people have to watch out for their livers and kidneys, avoid certain things, and so on.

But if there’s no difference in the pills except dosage, then the maximum dosage for OTC ibuprofen is also going to be 3200 mg. Obviously.

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Bursting Someone’s Bubble

I had to tell someone that, yes, Japan has had mass murder incidents in modern times. And that, yes, a lot of them have been against defenseless old people, or sick people, or developmentally disabled people. And yes, a lot of them have been with knives or swords. (Although gas and poison are also favorites.)

Probably the worst mass murder in Japan, in a true crime context (as opposed to war crimes or political crimes) was an incident where an unpopular young guy cut the phone lines out of the village, decapitated his grandmother, and then killed all the inhabitants of his entire small town of Tsuyama. This is known as the Tsuyama Incident, Tsuyama Massacre, or Tsuyama Jiken (murder case). He used a katana, an axe, and a shotgun, before killing himself with the shotgun. This was back in 1938… but yeah, it’s not the only mass murder.

So yeah, even though Japan’s overall crime rate is low, there is a fair amount of gruesome true crime, and even mass murder. And no, the draconian gun control laws do not stop even gun crime from occurring, much less knife crime and sword crime.

I feel like I’ve kicked a puppy, when I tell Japan fans about this sort of thing. But it’s dangerous to go around with false ideas about crime.


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On Non-Caucasian Hobbits

Let’s assume that you want to create such a thing; and let’s assume that you’re not an idiot Hollywood producer who wants to use LOTR as toilet paper.

The halfling tribes that migrated into the Shire are known as the Harfoots, the Fallohides, and the Stoors, and they were led by the brothers Marcho and Blancho.

This is a JOKE, or a historical/linguistic reference (if you prefer) on the Germanic tribes that migrated to Britain and turned it into England. The Fallohides are a joke on the fairhaired Angles, and the Harfoots and Stoors are probably the Saxons and Jutes. Marcho and Blanco are both words meaning “horse,” and they reference the Saxon brothers Hengest and Horsa (two names also meaning “horse”).

The Jutes (aka the Eotas, Eudoses, Juti, or Jotar) may have included some Celtic Cimbri in their ancestry, but they were mostly from the Gutones (proto-Goths), Teutones (Celtic Germans – a different branch of Celt from the Irish and Scots), and Harudes (Germanic guys). The Angles we don’t know about much, but they were another Germanic tribe. The Saxons ditto, although we know they did a ton of sea raiding, to the point that their tribe name became a synonym for this kind of activity in late Classical times/the early Middle Ages.

So basically we are talking about TOTALLY CAUCASIAN PEOPLE. But mostly these are Caucasian people who would have come off the steppes into Europe within the last thousand years before the Romans came to Germany and told us about them, or which had come off the steppes somewhere in the Bronze Age.

They migrated to England as part of the disorder during the early Middle Ages, and especially because there was crowding and famine in their bit of Germany/Scandinavia, as the Roman Warm Period was over and the growing season in northern latitudes was a lot shorter.

Similarly, the Hobbit tribes apparently came off the steppes of Rhun at some point in the Third Age, and moved into the valleys of the Anduin. Some were still there, just in time for Smeagol’s cousin Deagol to find the One Ring (in about year 2463 of the Third Age) which had been lost by Isildur (in the 2nd year of the Third Age).

But by that time, the three tribes had already crossed the Misty Mountains and gotten permission to settle the Shire, in 1601 of the Third Age, from King Argeleb II of Arnor. (Unlike Hengest and Horsa with King Vortigern of Britain, they did not go on to take over the whole Kingdom of Arnor, or use a daughter for court intrigue.)

So for values of this joke, the “valleys of the Anduin” equals “forests and river valleys of Germany,” basically.

Now that we have explained a joke that used (what used to be) common historical knowledge for every American and UK schoolchild….

Clearly there are some Hobbits who dislike water and fear the Sea, but others (like Frodo and Gollum) who like swimming and boats. If the Saxons could become sailors and sea raiders, then theoretically some of the Anduin river tribes of halflings could also have done it.

If they were roaming around the world killing people with their deadly slings (a Hobbit specialty), and stealing their stuff, they were probably stealing people, too. So sure, they could theoretically have stolen a bunch of short proto-Maori and proto-Arab and prehistoric African girls and boys, using them and/or selling them for slaves and concubines, just like the Saxons and the Irish raiders and the Norse vikings did.

So if you are willing to accept that all those hippie Harfoots of color on the new Rings of Power show are actually the (fairly recent, since this is the SECOND Age) descendants of pirate Hobbits and pirate slave humans… okay. Fine.

Must be drenched in blood and villainy. Must have been marooned by the other pirate Hobbits, probably for being worse than them.

Or maybe they’re escaped slave Hobbit kids, wandering the world because they don’t want to go back to the sea-raiders.

Alternately… some halfling tribesmen could have served as Numenorean auxiliaries, particularly as slingers. This could have allowed them to meet and marry short human women of various heritages, and then bring them back to the tribe at the end of their hitch.

Or they could have been halfling tribespeople kidnapped and enslaved, taken to Far Rhun by the slavers along the prehistoric silk road, who met and married other Far Rhun slaves of various colors, and then got out of Far Rhun, headed for their ancestral home, found that the halflings had been pushed out, and kept going until they got off the steppes and into western lands.

Whatever way you picture it, there is no reason to believe that non-Caucasian halflings would ever have come to the Shire, because there’s no evidence of non-Caucasian halflings in Bilbo and Frodo’s time. Given the obsession of Hobbits with genealogy, and the topic of discussing the odd habits and appearance of Hobbits outside Hobbiton, we surely would have heard of Hobbits with different skin colors and hair textures.

OTOH, Middle Earth is wide, and any tribe of halflings could have ended up anywhere. This would provide much more story possibility than trying to shoehorn invisible, forgotten POC Hobbits into the history of the Shire.


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