13 September 2022

Proud simplicity

 On Saturday, The Times published a letter from some retired Minister which seemed to imply that there is something inherently laudable in Scottish Presbyterian worship arising from its "simplicity."

This mystifies me. 

Last year, I had two cataracts removed from my eyes; and a heart "procedure". On none of these occasions was I preoccupied with whether the procedure was "simple". "Simplicity" seems not to be a prerequisite when it is a question of a legal matter or a space rocket or mending a computer or anything else.

Did the Aztecs concentrate on Simplicity when performing their human sacrifices? Was Simplicity the determinant consideration when Captain Cook floggrd his midshipmen for getting their calculations wrong? Do we praise an adulterer for his simplicity when he sends his wife and each of his eleven mistresses a Birthday Card on the same day of the year; or an adulteress when she books her admirer into the same slot as her husband?

The world of Presbyterian Ministers must be an immensely peculiar one. I would not encourage any grand-daughter of mine to marry, or even just have tea, with one.


Zephyrinus said...

Dear Reverend Fr. Hunwicke.

Taking tea with Presbyterian Ministers ???!!! This is Ecumenism gone mad !!!

Dad of Six said...

Well said Father!

John the Mad said...

Well if your grand daughters were to attend such a thing one would marvel that it was a simple tea, with no cream or sugar.

Grant Milburn said...

Watching a colour video of the coronation of our late Queen, I was struck by the contrast between the magnificent vestments of the Anglican clergy and the Queen on the one hand, and the sombre black gown of the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, on the other hand.


31:34 minutes

David J Critchley said...

Father, do you have any evidence for the assertion that Captain Cook flogged his midshipmen for getting their calculations wrong?

Grant Milburn said...

The issue of Cook and flogging is a contentious one, at least in my own country, New Zealand, where he is, or has been, revered. I remember the enthusiasm in 1969, when we celebrated the bicentennial of his first arrival on our shores.It seems that Cook actually flogged at a greater rate than the notorious Bligh, at least on his second and third voyages. But Cook's character has been idealized, whereas Bligh's character has been blackened.

From "Captain Cook and Captain Bligh" by JC Beaglehole, a leading authority on Cook:

The lashes which Cook and Bligh inflicted were not numbered in the hundreds. They were normally, with Cook, half-a-dozen or a dozen, and might rise in serious offences to two dozen; with Bligh, a dozen, two dozen; but I should say, without going into careful figures, that Bligh gave fewer individual floggings than Cook did. It is not too difficult to compare, even when the length of voyages differed so much. We can say that the Bounty saw relatively few punishments, according to the standards of the time, and those that were given were on the whole deserved. In the Providence and the Assistant, the two ships of the second breadfruit voyage, there were very few floggings. For the Resolution, [Cook's ship on his second voyage] from 1776 to 1779, I have noted down about sixty, in a complement of 112, probably not quite a complete list,10 for a variety of offences: for what was vaguely called, over and over again, 'neglect of duty', six or twelve lashes; 'for Striking an Indian Cheif' at Tonga, twelve; for 'refusing to stand Sentry when order'd', twelve; for 'Neglect of Duty & breeding Disturbances with the Natives' at Tahiti, twelve; for theft, twelve; for sleeping on his post as a sentry, twelve; for insolence and contempt, twelve; for drunkenness and insolence, twelve; for absenting himself from the boat when on shore at Hawaii 'and having connextions with women knowing himself to have the Venereal Disorder on him', in flagrant disobedience to the most stringent orders, two dozen. Desertions were a very great nuisance: they upset the ship's routine badly and could upset equally badly relations with the islanders, they set a bad example and wasted much valuable time. Cook gave two dozen on his first voyage, a dozen on the second (not a very serious attempt), and two dozen on the third. Clerke in the Discovery on the third voyage (and no one could call Clerke a cruel or vicious man) gave two dozen, laid on very heavy'. There was some class-distinction here—a midshipman, equally guilty, was merely sent before the mast. But towards the end of the second voyage Cook was driven to flog a midshipman who had made a violent and unmitigated nuisance of himself, and there was a great sensation.


Grant Milburn said...

In his article Beaglehole mentions a midshipman, Trevenen, who makes a mistake in his compass bearings, to Cook's displeasure:

It is Trevenen too who tells us about the supposedly erroneous compass bearings he took at Nootka Sound: 'Of course I had a heiva of the old boy.' The 'old boy' is Cook. He explains: 'Heiva the name of the dances of the Southern Islanders, which bore so great a resemblance to the violent motions and stampings on the Deck of Capt Cooke in the paroxysms of passion, into which he often threw himself upon the slightest occasion that they were universally known by the same name, & it was a common saying amongst both officers & people, "The old boy has been tipping a heiva to such or such a one".'

So a heiva, but no lashing, except verbally.

David J Critchley said...

Thank you, Grant, for clarifying the matter.