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The river press. [volume] (Fort Benton, Mont.) 1880-current, December 22, 1880, Image 2

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85053157/1880-12-22/ed-1/seq-2/

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In the twilight, in the gloaming
Of November's thirteenth day,
Lies my open desk before me:
What I muse on, who shall say ?
Here are stored my choicest treasures-
Stored for many a weary year!
Desk! old silent friend, I love thee,
Witness mute of many a tear !
Only a blue knot of ribbon,
Dropped from a fair woman's hair !
Only a poor withered flower,
Faded lie, enshrined there !
Only one lock, long and golden,
Cut from oft a sunny head!
Only letters, sere and yellow,
Traced by fingers white and dead!
Well!-I close thee. God be praised!
Bitter memories last not aye !
Time, to tenderness oft mellows
Saddest thoughts of days gone by.
Departure Into the Realms of Fable of Old
Historical Beliefs.
[The American.]
This is peculiarly an age of disillusion and
of unbelief. What with critical inquirers,
who reject everything that is not clearly
proved, and skeptical inquirers who reject
everything they think to be so clearly proved
as to be of doubtful authenticity, and histor
ians, like Mr. Froude, whose delight it is to
show that all the alleged bad characters in
history were but a little lower than the angels
while all the alleged good ones were sad
hypocrites, everybody in the nineteenth cen
tury is prepared to regard anybody in any
preceding century, to whom his attention may
be directed, as Betsey Prig and Mrs. Harris,
and cry, "There wasn't never any such per
son." Or if he is compelled to admit that the
person in question did exist, that is to say,
that there is a reasonable probability that he
did exist; skeptic of all the ages will deny that
any particular action attributed to that per
son was performed by him in the manner,
from the motives, and with the consequences
recited in the popular histories. There was a
French emigre who made a handsome living
in England during the period of the Revolu
tion and the Empire, by wagering, whenever
a piece of news was received and circulated,
that it was not true. He might, if he were
now alive, make like offers with reference to
any historical allegation of the "popular"
sort with perfect confidence of winning-if
he could only find anyone to take the bet.
Take classical history, continental history,
English history, from the foundation of Rome
to the fall of the French Empire, and over
what heaps of mangled myths the student
treads! Cecrops was not an Egyptian, nor
was Cadmus a Ph&enician. Leonidas made
his fight with 7,000 men,-or 12,000, accord
ing as Diodorus or Pausanias believed. IEsop
was not hump-backed, and it is particularly
doubtful whether Sappho committed suicide.
Diogenes's "tub" was not a tub-tubs, Pliny
tells us, were of Gallic origin-and, though
there were lanterns in his day, there is no
good reason for believing the story about his
quest with one in his hand. The virtue of
Lucrece has been impugned, and her death
called suicide through fear of detection. Mu
tinus Scavola did not thrust his hand into the
fire, nor did Brutus condemn, his sons to
death through firmness, but through brutality;
nor did Clelia swim the Tiber; nor did Bren
nus cast his sword into the scales; nor did
brave Horatius keep the bridge. Coriolanus
could not have gone through a tenth part of
the scenes assigned to him. Livy himself
could not fix the respective nationality of the
Horatii and Curiatti. Belisarius was not
blind, nor did Portia swallow burning coals.
The tale of Regulus's torturec -as invented.
Hannibal did not use vinegar to melt the Al
pine rocks; nor did Cleopatra cmploy a simi
lar solvent for her pearl; it is. altogether
probable that she and her ladies committed
suicide by taking poison. Archimedes was
too good a mathematician to promise to move
the world, were he given a point on which to
rest his lever. Ceaesar did not encourage his
pilot with the famous remark concerning
Julius and his fortunes-at least, the incident
is discredited on very sufficient grounis, and
doubt is cast upon his words on crossing the
Rubicon. He issilenton the subject, and
Ptutarch and Suetonius give differing ver
sions. The great Roman's last words were
not "Et tu Brute ." as Shakespeare got them
from "The True Tragedie of Richard Duke
·of York," but were spoken in Greek: "And
you my son, and you are one of them," (Sue
tonius,) though the versions of Plutarch and
Nicholas Damascens vary. Julian the apos
tate, having received his death wound, could
not have uttered either of the dying speeches
attributed to him. There isno trustworthy
evidence to show that any Christians were
massacred or given to beasts in the Coliseum
-the most that can be found, even whenthe
reports are not contradictory, is, that they
were slain in a "circus." Omar did not burn
the library of Alexandria, with its 700,000
books, uttering the famous dilemma, "If
these writings agree with the Book of God;
they are useless; if they do not, they are
pernicious,"because he was never at Aexan
ditia;: :because it was not possible to have ac
cumulated 700,000 volumes~a~nd because if
he, and not Amru, had taken Alexandria in
0 i:640, he would have captured it just 250 years
after Theophitus dispersed the library.
~ay of tIhese most cherished and circum
stantiaritories are in reality founded on ori
ginals that stillsurvive. The heroic act of
byr Agrathatcidls. The phootyes.w o at e
Horattii and Curiatii were the champions of
the Arcadian villages, and the earlier Greek
legend had all the features of the later Latin
one. down to the love of the victor's sister
for one of the vanquished, and her death.
Romulus was exposed in infancy, was nursed
by a wolf, became a shepherd chief, and
founded a city; the same story was told of
Cyrus, with the exception that his nurse was
a bitch, and not a she-wolf. Before the ear
liest historians of Rome was written, the story
of Curtius had been told of a patriotic Phry
gian. Nor are the alleged words of alleged
heroes much more original than their alleged
acts. Henri IV.'s phrase about assassination
-"Whoever despises his own life can always
dispose of mine"-had been said centuries
before by Seneca, and his passage of wits
with Baudesson, who resembled him in so
striking a manner, had been recorded by a
poet of the middle ages, who got it out of
Macrobius, who derived it from-who shall
say what still earlier source ?
The medieval legends were quite as inac
curate as the classical histories. Arthur's
Table Round was not more of a fiction than
Charlemagne's dozen of Paladins. One line
in Eginhard contains all that we truly know
of Roland, viz, that he was slain in a moun
tain pass. Charlemagne, readers of Long
fellow will regret to know, had no daughter
Emma, and a full century before the story of
her' carrying off her lover on her shoulders,
lest his footprints should be marked in the
freshly-fallen snow, the same anecdote had
been printed of another loving couple. Al
fred the Great may have let the cottager's
cakes burn, though his friend and biographer
Asser, is silent on the subject, but he did not
venture into the Danish camp, disguised as a
minstrel. No old Saxon writer tells the tale
of Alfred; it is told of another Saxon king.
They assert that the incident described in
Moore's "Rich and rare were the gems she
wore" took place in Alfred's reign; Moore
gives it as happening under Brian Boroihme;
other chroniclers have told the same story in
honor of Rollo of Normandy and of Frothi
of Denmark. If Canute really set his chair
on the sea beach and ordered the surges to
retire, it is curious that no one thought of re
cording the fact till a hundred years had
elapsed. There is no good ground for be
lieving that Edward I. massacred the Welsh
bards, and if Lingard speaks the truth, Fair
Rosamond was not killed by Queen Elanor,
but died in a convent in the odor of sanctity.
Blondel had no need to go the round of all
the strong places of Europe, warbling his
song and listening for a reply from Richard
Coeur de Lion, seeing that the place of the
king's captivity was known. Pharamond,
king of the Franks, was a myth. Clovis and
Clotilda never married, nor did the latter re
ceive from Childebert and Clothair the swad
and shears, indicating that her grandson must
choose between the tomb and the tonsure.
Rollo, the great Norman, did not marry
Gisella, daughter of Charles the Simple, in
911, partly because he was then well stricken
in years, partly because Gisella had not yet
been born. Nor did Charlemagne burst into
tears on seeing Norman pirates approach the
southern coast of France, and lament what
such temerity meant for his weaker succes
sors, though Michelet adopts the story as true.
In the first place, Eginhard, .though his
chronicler records matter of infinitely less im
tance, is silent on the subject; in the second
Charlemagne died forty-five years before the
first Norman vessels entered the Mediter
Nor have the historians of more modern
times been at all more accurate or fortunate.
The woes of the starry Galileo were much
exaggerated. The decree of absolute pro
hibition was, indeed authentic; but it was
never communicated to Galileo, so his "But,
nevertheless, it does move," must be relegated
to the limbo of mythical mots. He was neither
racked nor confined in a prison cell, but had
private rooms in the Inquisition building,
and was well-nourished. Lucrezia Borgia
has been damned to everlasting fame mainly
through Hugo's drama and Donizetti's opera,
but it is certain that she cannot htave been
a plague-spot on the unwholesome age in
which she lived, and at the same time have
compelled the eulogies of her contemporaries i
Ariosto, Aldus Manutius, Bembo, and men
of their stamp. She saw many crimes com
mitted, witnessing them with calmness of
passive sorrow and without resolute protest,
but it cannot be said that she anywhere took
the initiative in them, or even an active part.
Again, take.the case of Beatrice Cenci. She
was not 16 when she was executed, but 22;
Guerra, her lover, was 40, and he was not
her only lover, and she had been a willing
and spiteful witness againt him when he was
arrested with her brother Rocco for an ig
noble theft; she was not handsome, and she
left an illegitimate child. The sole evidence
of her father's outrages upon her was the
plea of her counsel, and as he secured Ber
nardino Cenci's acquittal on the ground of
imbecility, and within :a few days after his
brother and sister had been executed ia his
sight, Bernardino was working shrewdly and
actively to advance his interests; the plea
may have been an invention. Certain it is
that the Cenci were not harshly treated while
in priso, and it is equally certain at Guido
never saw her and never painte the pictfre
which everyone in theworld has seen. tuido
didnot paint in Rome till some nine years
after Beatrice's execution. The romantic
may console themselves with the reflection
that the ashes of Abeliard and Heloise rest at.
prepared to entertain serioudoi td~a to the
And lamentable as must be the shock to all
Americans whose affections cluster round the
form of The Admiral, Columbus never per
formed the egg trick, and Humboldt has
completely demolished the fine story of his
securing three days' grace from his mutinous
crew, during which period he discovered
America-that is to say, not America, but
Guanahini-or, rather, not Guanahini, but
Watling's Island !
The Czar has engaged a villa for the
Princess Dolgorouki and their family at Anti
bes. They will take possession at the Rus
sian New Year. During the absence of the
Princess from Russia eighteen rooms will be
newly furnished and decorated ready for her
return in the Zrskoje-Selo Palace.
General Undertaker,
Exchange Saloon
This popular saloon is kept in first-class style, and has
constantly on hand a choice assortment of
Wines, Liquors and Cigars.
We keep in stock and have now on hand a large quan
tity of the celebrated
Hermitage Sour Mash.
And have also just received a heavy shipment of the
In ccunection with the other features of this Popular
Resort, We have instituted a
And will take extra pains to serve the public who may
call on us.
J. H. EVANS & CO., Prop'rs.
Main Street, Fort Benton.
Wines, Liquors & Cigars
All in full lines, and served in the very best style.
Corner Front and Benton Sts.
Whiskies, Wines and Cigars
L, T, MARSHALL, Proprietor.
The Elite is the most popular resort in the upper part
of town. Drop in and have a friendly chat
with Marshall.
Fruits of all Desoriptions;
Perfumery and Fancy\Soaps.,
A Full Line of Smokers' Articles. Seaside Libraries,
Novels of al descriptions, and all the
D- o oa ETZEL
Wholesale and Retail Grocer,
Our Grocery Department embraces all Staple and Fancy Articles, a few of which are
Fresh Corn lMveal, Oat Meal, Rice, Beans, Canned and Dried Fruits, Lard, Bacon
and Hams, Canned Vegetables and Meats, Candles, Oils. Fish, Oysters,
Extra Soap, Canned Syrups, Candies, Nuts and Notions.
Fish Bros.' Freight and Farm Wagons,
Tinware, Crockery, Glassware, Toilet Articles
We have in store one of the best selected Stocks ever imported into the Territory, and the
trading puplic will find it to their advantage to get our prices befor
buying elsewhere.
Corner of Front and Bond Sts., Fort Benton.
Nick TVelch, Proprietor.
..ont Street_ .. - F ort - .e t n
'i r
Front Street, Fort Benton.
T'his popular Hotel is situated in the centre of the town, convenient to the business houses,
and opposite the steamboat landing. A number of New Rooms have been recently
added, and nothing is left undone which will contribute to the codiifort
and convenience of guests.

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