Sunday, May 24, 2015


St. Patrick driving out snakes, Basilica mural, Rome, Italy.

The Cortland Democrat, Friday, March 21, 1890.

Let Loose by a Drunken Showman, They Increase and Multiply.
(From the Chicago News.)
   If reports are true, the good St. Patrick lived in vain. From Ireland comes the news that snakes have appeared in that country. It appears that about five years ago a showman named Wilson came from America with a show of living wild animals. He landed his show at Queenstown  and gave exhibitions up through Ireland with more or less success. But one night, at the little town of Armaugh, in Tipperary, Mr. Wilson got very drunk and attempted to clean out his own show. The constabulary force sought to interfere, and (whether as a means of self-defense or in a spirit of humor I know not) Mr. Wilson turned all the wild animals loose. Of course this created a terrible uproar, and for a week the neighborhood was in a state of wild excitement. The wild beasts were duly either captured or killed, but for three years no trace of the den of snakes let  loose on that memorable night could be found. Meanwhile Mr. Wilson went to prison for two years.
   Two years ago the people in the neighborhood of Armaugh began to miss poultry and pigs. Several vagabonds fell under suspicion, were apprehended, and were locked up. But the depredations continued, and finally a farmer's lad testified that, upon returning late one night from a merry-making, he had seen the evil one in the guise of a serpent making way with a pig across the field. The village priest took the lad in hand and questioned him closely, but nothing could shake the fellow's testimony. About this time other people detected similar fiends in the act of like depredations, and at once arose a hue and cry that the spot was a damned one and had been given over to the devil for his diabolical practices. Special prayers were said and the devil was publicly denounced, but the depredations continued, and presently from Castelraine, a town twelve miles distant, came word that his satanic majesty had begun operations in that locality, his victims in this instance and in this place being sheep, not poultry and pigs.
   In this dismal emergence the bishop was most properly appealed to, for the parish priests were at their wits' ends and their parishioners were well nigh crazed through fear. The bishop promised to investigate the affair, but instead of resorting to conventional ecclesiastical methods, that holy and sagacious man enlisted the services of two shrewd detectives from Dublin, the intellectual center of Erin. The bishop fancied that the devil was doing his unholy work by proxy—not in the guise of dragons and serpents, but in the persons of certain lawless characters too lazy to work and just knavish enough to steal. The detectives, laboring under this heresy, made their investigation quietly and without holy water or wafers, and in the course of a fortnight reported to their saintly employer that the depredations at Castelraine and Armaugh had indeed been committed by serpents, the detectives themselves having seen and watched the same upon three distinct occasions seize, kill, and carry off their prey. The serpents were described as dark of color and fully fifteen feet in length; they killed their victims by coiling about their bodies.
   The story was discredited by the clergy and laity until, as good luck would have it, a correspondent of the Freeman's Journal (at Dublin) recalled the significant, not to say portentous, circumstances that the numerous and divers species of snakes which had escaped from the Wilson show about three years previous had never been captured. Then of a sudden the mystery was cleared up, and bands for the extermination of the monsters were speedily organized among the vengeful peasantry. Three of the snakes were shortly thereafter seen, pursued, and killed in the bog east of Armaugh, the largest of the snakes measured four feet; in the maw of each was found a pullet. About a month thereafter a fourth snake was killed near Castelraine; this snake upon being cut open was found to contain very many little snakes, which immediately glided into the grass and escaped before the astonished rustics could apprehend them.
   Subsequently, stimulated by the advertised reward of half a crown and a special dispensation for every snake, alive or dead, the country people caught eleven of the smaller snakes—none measuring more than seven inches in length. Then the snakes seemed to disappear and, no further depredations being noted, the excitement gradually died out.
   But it is now reported, after a lapse of two tranquil years, that snakes have suddenly appeared at and around Ballingal, an agricultural region thirty miles north of Castelraine, the county seat of the earl of Densloe. These snakes are of a strange species; though none has been captured, they are said to be of enormous length, breadth, thickness, voracity and ferocity, and to make a noise when moving like the clatter of dice in a box; they kill by biting, and they have created great havoc among the flocks of his grace the duke, as well as in the coops and sties of the peasantry. Simultaneously, serpents similar to the Armaugh and Castelraine varmints have appeared still farther to the eastward and have caused such a panic that the country folk are afraid to venture out of doors after night-fall.
   The theory is that in five years the reptiles let loose by the wretched Wilson during his ribald drunken frenzy have multiplied so numerously that a militant union of Church and State will be necessary to restore the island to that virgin condition in which the good St. Patrick left it.

   CHENANGO.— A vein of coal is reported to have been discovered on the Richmond farm, in the eastern part of the town of Afton.
   John Wylie, of Coventry, has a maple orchard containing 2,000 trees, and is constantly increasing the size of the orchard by setting out young trees. Mr. Wylie carries on the manufacture of the maple sweets, sugar and syrup, quite extensively. He commenced tapping his trees Monday of this week, on the warm side of his orchard. He will tap 1,000 trees, and later he will tap the balance.
   R. C. Quinn, who runs the Per Lee farm at North Norwich, furnishes the following milk record for the season of 1889, from twenty cows. There was one farrow cow, whose milk was fed to young calves till September first. Whole amount of milk, 134,432 pounds. Average price per hundred pounds, 92 cents. Average amount of milk per cow, 6,771 pounds. Average amount of money per cow, $63.92. Whole amount of money received from factory, $1,214.65. Add to this $223. 25 for calves and young pigs sold, makes $1,437.90 or $71.89 per cow.

MADISON.—DeRuyter is to have a public gymnasium.
   Good hay is selling in Oneida at $10 a ton delivered.
   Nellie Bly, the globe girdler, lectures in Oneida April 3d.
   The Earlville post-office will be made a money order office April 1st.
   Oneida has a population of about 8,000, and will soon be applying for a city charter.
   The ice harvest at Oneida Lake is something astonishing. Every man who applies for work gets it, and 150 car loads per day are shipped over the E. C. & N. and O. & W. road. Four tons per minute are hauled into a mammoth building at South Bay, which holds 40,000 tons. It is said Duell & Co., of Elmira, will make $100,000 on ice handled this season.
   TOMPKINS.— About 300 cats are annually sacrificed for scientific purposes at the University.
   The Ithaca Autophone Company announces its intention of increasing its capital to $50,000.
   John Gleason, section boss on the railroad, had two of his fingers on his left hand pinched quite badly while handling a rail at Freeville, last week.
   One night last week rats got at some matches in the vest pocket of a resident of Cayuga street, Ithaca. The combination resulted in a blaze which destroyed a suit of clothes and came very near burning the building. Moral: Carry matches in a metal box.

   Count Bismark has resigned as Prime Minister of Germany and his resignation has been accepted.
James Belden
   Congressman Delano has introduced a bill for a $100,000 government building to be erected in Oneida and Congressman Wilbur has introduced a bill for the erection of another at Oneonta. What in the world is Congressman Jim Belden, of this district, doing that he does not put a bill through Congress for a handsome public building in Cortland. If Oneida and Oneonta have need of such buildings Cortland certainly has. The government is paying a pretty stiff rent for the building in which our post-office is located [Standard block, first floor, Tompkins Street—CC editor] and we feel confident that the powers that be would save money by owning a building. The editor of the Cortland Standard is said to have a vast amount of interest with Mr. Belden, therefore we suggest that a committee of prominent republican citizens be selected by a public meeting, to call upon Mr. Clark as well as Mr. Belden, and present the subject to these gentlemen in the proper light. A public building costing say $50,000 to $100,000 would be an ornament as well as a great convenience to the people of this place. There would be little trouble in finding a central location for the site and the remova1 of the post-office from its present one-sided location would suit a very large majority of our citizens. We suggest that a meeting of the citizens be called at an early day and that the matter be pushed. It is important that the bill be introduced before the surplus in the Treasury is expended, as it might and probably would be difficult to obtain the appropriation after the surplus has been placed in other quarters.

   The old rule which has been in vogue in Congress, which holds that there must be a majority of members voting to constitute a quorum, notwithstanding there may be a quorum in the house by counting those who refuse to vote, may not be just as it should be, but it has been the custom in that body for more than a hundred years, and the proper time to change it was not at the opening of the session and when no rules whatever had been adopted. A speaker who had a particle of decency in his makeup would not have lent himself to such a high-handed proceeding. The fact that the rule had prevailed when his own party was in the minority, should have been sufficient reason for a speaker, who had any respect for his own character to have held [to it] when his opponents were in the minority. In reality the rule is not such a bad one as it would seem to be. As a rule it is what the majority of a legislative assembly fails to accomplish that benefits the country instead of what they do accomplish. The only hope of the country these days so far as legislation is concerned, is in the minority. The majority is likely to pass laws that are favorable to the party, while the minority interposes an objection and by dilatory motions and parliamentary tactics is able to prevent party legislation. In this respect the minority acts as a continual cheek upon the majority and often serves the people far better than the majority. It is not for the interests of the country that a partisan majority should have full sway. The people have more to gain from the minority than the majority and the former should be clothed with more instead of fewer rights.  

No comments:

Post a Comment