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excerpts from the 1888 Chambers's Encyclopedia of Universal Knowledge

Monday, January 27, 2020


ATTENTION - Vickipedia has moved to http://vickipedia.multipledigression.com. To continue reading it through LJ (or elsewhere), the RSS feed is available at http://vickipedia.multipledigression.com/feed/.

Several years ago, my wife gave me this wonderful set of encyclopedia, written in the UK in 1874 and printed in New York in 1888. I'll try to post about one entry per weekday here, and if you have any requests - general or specific - don't hesitate to ask. In the absence of special requests, I generally look for entries that are informative about the era, amusing in their anachronism, have interesting illustrations, or otherwise strike my fancy.

A note on editing and formatting: These entries are OCRed from scanned pages. I try to correct all the OCR errors but I'm no editor and I'm sure a few get through in each entry. If they bother you point them out and I'll fix them. Formatting - while I will make basic efforts to preserve the formatting of the original entries (e.g. an illustration centered in the original will be centered here), I am not being fanatical about it: line breaks and columns are not being preserved. If you'd like to see the original b&w scan page, let me know and I can email it to you.

Posted and maintained by graymalkn.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

11:00PM - In case anyone has missed the news so far

Vickipedia has moved to http://vickipedia.multipledigression.com. To continue reading it through LJ there's vickipedia_feed, or for your non-LJ RSS pleasure the feed is available at http://vickipedia.multipledigression.com/feed/.

(only posting this because I recently learned that at least one person had missed this)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


JARGONI’ZING is a phenomenon observed chiefly in acute mania; it consists in the utterance of uncouth and unintelligible sounds, which may resemble articulate words, or be little more than harsh ejaculations and bellowings.

Reminder - all new entries are being posted at vickipedia.multipledigression.com and the feed can be viewed on LJ at vickipedia_feed.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

2:04PM - big news regarding Vickipedia

I've been mucking about with Wordpress on my personal web site, multipledigression.com, and have created a new home for Vickipedia: vickipedia.multipledigression.com. I still have to go through and tag the old entries and fix a couple of things, but all the old entries are there. All new posts will be there, but will be available through the RSS feed, which is available on lj as vickipedia_feed.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


ABORIGINES (Lat.), properly the earliest inhabitants of a country. The corresponding term used fey the Greeks was Autoch­thones. The Roman and Greek historians, however, apply the name to a special people, who, according to tradition, had their original seats in the mountains about Reate, now Rieti; but, being driven out by the Sabines, descended into Latium, and in conjunction with a tribe of Pelasgi, subdued or expelled thence the Siculi, and occupied the country. The A. then disappear as a distinct people, they and their allies the Pelasgi having taken the name of Latini. The non-Pelasgic element of the Roman population is supposed to represent these A., who would thus belong to the Oscans or Ausonians.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


ABSENTEE', a term applied, by way of reproach, to capitalists who derive their income from one country, and spend it in another. It has been especially used in discussions on the social condition of Ireland. As long as Ireland had its own parliament, a great portion of the large landed proprietors lived chiefly in the country during summer, and passed their winters in Dublin; thus spending a large portion of their incomes among their dependents, or at least among their countrymen. The Union changed the habits of the Irish nobility and gentry, who were attracted to London as the political metropolis, or were induced, by the disturbed condition of Ireland, to choose residences on the continent. Such Irish landed proprietors were styled ' absentees;' and it was argued that their conduct was the great source of Irish poverty, as it drained the resources of the land, or, in other words, sent money out of Ireland. One class of political economists—among them M'Culloch—maintain that, economically viewed, absenteeism has no injurious effect on the country from which the absentee draws his revenue. An Irish landlord living in France, it is argued, receives his remittances of rent, not in bullion, but in bills of exchange; and bills of exchange represent, in the end, the value of British commodities imported into France. The remittance could not be made unless goods to the same amount were also drawn from Britain. Thus, although the landlord may consume, for the most part, French productions, he causes, indirectly, a demand for as much of British productions; and his income goes, in the end, to pay for them. His residence abroad, then, does no harm to the industry and resources of the country at large, although it is admitted that it may be felt as an evil in a particular locality. The truth of this doctrine, however, in its full extent, is disputed. Among other objections to it, it is argued, that whatever may be true of the amount actually consumed, all the tradesmen and others who supply the absentee's wants have their profits, and have thus the means of accumulating; and that these accumulations which are thus added to the national wealth of a foreign country, would have been added to the wealth of his native country had he been living at home. The result of the controversy would seem to be, that absenteeism does, to some extent, act injuriously on the wealth of a country, though it is not true that the whole revenues thus spent are so much clear loss, there being several indirect compensations.—On the evil of absenteeism, in a moral point of view, all are agreed; especially in a country in the condition of Ireland, where nearly the whole wealth is in the hands of extensive landed proprietors, with almost no middle class.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007


It is proposed in the present article to give a very brief outline of the system of the Christian religion, and of the evidences by which its truth is established. The principal parts, both of the system and evidences of C., will be found noticed under separate heads.Collapse )

Sunday, December 24, 2006


Of late it has become usual for friends to forward to one another, by post, gaily illuminated Christmas cards, bearing Christmas greetings.Collapse )

Friday, December 22, 2006

11:32AM - JAPAN

The Japanese are essentially a pleasure-loving people. The theater forms one of their chief attractions. They take great delight in visiting public gardens, and admiring the blossoms of spring or the glorious tints of autumn. Professional musicians and dancers, principally young women remarkable for their personal attractions, are in constant request for parties.Collapse )

Monday, December 4, 2006


The most eminent of the patrons of the Augustinus were the celebrated association of scholars and divines who formed the community of PORT ROYAL (q. v.), Arnauld, Nicole, Pascal, &c. Nevertheless, the syndic of the Sorbonne extracted from the Augustinus seven propositions (subsequently reduced to five) which were condemned as heretical by Innocent X. in 1653.Collapse )

Monday, November 27, 2006


The thirty-nine articles have been described as ' containing a whole body of divinity.' This can hardly be maintained. They contain, however, what the Church of England holds to be a fair scriptural account of the leading doctrines of Christianity, together with a condemnation of what she considers to be the principal errors of the Church of Rome, and of certain Protestant sects.Collapse )

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

11:14PM - TURKEY

It appears to have been introduced into Europe in the beginning of the 16th c., and is naturalized in some places; as it may be said to have been in the royal park of Richmond, near London, in the first half of the 18th c., when that park contained about two thousand turkeys; but in consequence of the frequent fights between poachers and keepers, it was thought proper to destroy them.Collapse )

Monday, November 20, 2006


ABSINTHE is a spirit flavored with the pounded leaves and flowering tops of certain species of Artemisia (q. v.), chiefly wormwood (A. Absinthium), together with Angelica-root, sweet-flag root, star-anise, and other aromatics. The aromatics are macerated for about eight days in alcohol, and then distilled, the result being an emerald-colored liquor. Adulteration is largely practised, even blue vitriol being sometimes found in so-called A. The best A. is made in Switzerland, the chief seat of the manufacture being in the canton of Neufchatel. It is chiefly used in France, but is of late largely exported to the United States. When to be drunk, the greenish liquor is usually mixed with water. The evil effects of drinking A. are very apparent; frequent intoxication or moderate but steady tippling, utterly deranges the digestive system, weakens the frame, induces horrible dreams and hallucinations, and may end in paralysis or in idiocy.

Friday, November 17, 2006


RANZ DES VACHES (in German, Kuhreigen), a name applied 10 certain simple native melodies of the Swiss Alps, which are usually sung by the herdsmen, and played by them when driving their herds to and from the pasture, on an instrument called the Alphorn, consisting of a wooden tube somewhat bent, about three feet long, widened out into a bell, and bound by a pitched cord. The associations of pastoral life recalled by these airs to the Swiss in foreign countries, have been said to produce that unaccounta­ble longing for home, or nostalgia, which has been remarked among; the Swiss soldiers abroad. The bands of the Swiss regi­ments in foreign service have, on this account, to be prohibited from playing the Ranz des Vaches. The Emmenthal, Entlebuch, the Bernese Oberland, the Orisons, Appenzell, and other pastoral districts of Switzerland, have each their respective Ranz des Vaches. A collection of Ranz des Vaches, along with other Swiss melodies (Sammlung von Schweizer Kuhreigen und Volksliedern), was published at Bern in 1818; and these airs are also to be found in the Allgemeines Schweizer Liederbuch,1851. The Ranz des Vaches of Switzerland are ruder in their character than the moun­tain melodies of the Tyrol, with which they are sometimes con­founded.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

12:50PM - TURKEY

The government of T. has always been a pure despotism; the constitution granted in 1876 and revoked in 1878 was only nominal. The power of the Sultan (also called Padishah, Grand Seignior, Khan and Hunkiar) is much limited by the sheikh-ul-islam, the chief of the Ulemas (q. v.), who has the power of objecting to any of the sultan's decrees, and frequently possesses more authority over the people than his sovereign.Collapse ) map: Turkey in Europe map: Turkey in Asia

Friday, October 13, 2006

11:38AM - NOTE

My wife and I will be on vacation in Turkey for the next two weeks, so the next update will be on or around October 30th.


CRYSTALLO'MANCY, a mode of divination by means of transparent bodies, at one time very popular. A precious stone, crystal globe, or other transparent object, was employed, but a beryl was deemed most effective. In using it, the operator first muttered over it certain formulas of prayer, and then gave it into the hands of a youth or virgin—none others were pure enough to discern its revelations—who beheld in it the information required. Sometimes the desiderated facts were conveyed by means of written characters on the crystal; sometimes the spirits invoked appeared in the crystal to answer the questions asked.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


FIFTH MONARCHY MEN. Among the strange and whimsical forms of opinion which the religious and political fermentation of the 17th c. brought to the surface of society, and embodied in the shape of religious sects, were those of the Fifth Monarchy Men. The date which has been assigned to their first appearance is 1654.

Notwithstanding the ridicule with which they have often been overwhelmed, there seems nothing in their tenets more objectionable than we find in those of many of the other sects of the period, and there is no reason to believe that the practices of their leaders exceeded in absurdity, or equalled in impiety, those of Robbins, Reeve, Muggleton, and other apostles of the Ranters. In common with most persons who hold the literal interpretation of prophecy, they believed in the four great monarchies of Antichrist marked out by the prophet Daniel; and quite consistently with Christian orthodoxy, they added to them & fifth—viz., the kingdom of Christ on earth. So far, there was nothing peculiar in their views. But their error was twofold. 1st. They believed in the immediate, or at least in the proximate, advent of Christ (a tenet which was common to them with the early church); and 2d. They held that the fulfilment of God's promise to this effect must be realized by the forcible destruction of the kingdom of Antichrist. Every obstacle which opposed itself to the setting up the Messiah's throne was to be thrown down, and what these obstacles were was a question for the solution of which the only criterion which presented itself was their own fanatical prejudices and hatreds. It is obvious that such doctrines in such times must have given rise to practical as well as speculative disorder. The Fifth Monarchy Men became extinct as a sect shortly after the Restoration; a fact which, by depriving them of exponents of their own body, may have exposed them to misrepresentation (Marsden's History of the Later Puritans, p. 387). In politics, the Fifth Monarchy Men were republicans of the extremest section; and when their conspiracy to murder the Protector, and revolutionize the government, was discovered in 1657, their leaders, Vennar, Grey, Hopkins, &c., were imprisoned in the Gate House till after the Protector's death. Amongst their arms and ammunition which was seized, was found a standard exhibiting a lion couchant, supposed to represent the lion of the tribe of Judah, with the motto, 'Who will rouse him up?'—Neal's Puritans, vol. iv. p. 186. See also Carlyle's Cromwell's Letters and Speeches, vol. iii. p. 31.

Thursday, October 5, 2006


AMERICA, spanish. Spanish A. is now shrunk into Porto Rico and Cuba, and belongs rather to history than to geography. Yet for many years it embraced absolutely the entire continent. Its decay was caused by the colonists becoming mere hunters after the precious metals, instead of agriculturists, and by the exclusion of all but natives of the mother country from public employment.


AMERICA, russian, the name long given to what is now a territory of the United States, called Alaska, and which was purchased from the Russian government in 1867 for 7,200,000 dollars. It forms the north-western extremity of the American continent, and is bounded N. by the Arctic Ocean, E. by British America, W. and S. by the Pacific. It was discovered by a Russian expedition conducted by Behring (q. v.), which sailed from Kamtchatka in 1741. It is little better than a vast hunting-ground, and was long held by the Imperial Fur Company, which differed but little from the imperial government itself. Its only town, or rather village, worthy of the name, is New Archangel (now called Sitka), on the island of Sitka. The most noticeable points in geography are Cape Prince of Wales, on Behring's Strait; Kotzebue's Sound, Norton's Sound, peninsula of Alaska, Cook's Inlet, and Mount St. Elias.

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