DAILY BRIEFINGYou Can't Make a Saint...
Jul. 2 - One day in the second half of the ninth century, a poor young woman on her way to the market dropped her basket of eggs, breaking all of them.
The young woman knelt on the ground beside the fallen basket and began to weep.
The local bishop had been out for his morning stroll and happened to see the entire episode. He attempted to console the woman, but she was having none of it. Without the eggs, she had nothing to sell at market. Nothing to sell meant no money to sustain her family. Being unable to sustain her family meant, well, what it usually means: degradation, illness, and eventually death. Soothing words from a bishop weren't much help.
The bishop then prayed for her pain to be eased. When he was done praying, the woman looked into her basked and saw that all of the eggs had been made whole.
"Wot's all that about, then?" she asked.
"It is a sign of God's grace and compassion," the bishop said. "I am but his—"
"God fixed me eggs, what?"
"All things are possible with God," the bishop began, but the poor young woman interrupted again.
"All-powerful God? All-knowing God? I work meself to death eight days to the week, and when he finally comes through with a miracle—it's fixin' me eggs? What about a floor for me hut? What about clothes for me young-uns? What about—"
It is probably not necessary to record the full text of the woman's stirring solecism.
But it is necessary to record the name of the bishop, St. Swithun (and sometimes Switihin), who died on this day in 862 A.D. The miracle of the broken eggs is the only miracle attributed to St. Swithun, who is also renowned for drinking and rain. The Norwegians believe that if it rain's on St. Swithun's Day, it will rain straight through to St. Olaf's Day (July 29).
There are some other stories about St. Swithun, most of which are even duller than the story of the eggs. I apologize for having last year informed my readers that little was known about St. Swithun, and that they should therefore feel free to invent their own biographies for him. Instead, I ought to have said they should feel free to invent their biographies because so little of interest was known about him.
For Whom the Bell Tolled
Ernest Hemingway was a writer. He was also a man. He knew things about being a man. He also knew things about trying to be a man. He wrote about them, those things. He wrote love stories and stories about fishermen and soldiers. He enjoyed writing and he was good at it. But he wasn't a damn fool about it. Not like Fitzgerald. Oh, no, nothing like Fitzgerald.
On July 2, 1961, he blew his brains out. Maybe that means something. Maybe it doesn't. Either way, don't bother asking for whom the bell tolled.
It wasn't for you.
Birthdays and Holidays
It's Flag Day in Curacao, and the birthday of Dan Rowan (1922), Thurgood Marshall (1908), and Herman Hesse (1877).
On this date in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, prohibiting racial discrimination. America remains a paragon of racial harmony to this very day.
The Case of the Stalwart Stalker
One hundred and twenty-one years ago today, Charles J. Guiteau stood up in the lobby of the B&O Railroad Depot in Washington, DC, and yelled, "I am a stalwart and Arthur is President now!"
The event might have passed without notice had Guiteau not been shooting President James Garfield at the time.
A wounded President Garfield lingered for 11 weeks, during which time surgeons attempted to find the bullet which had lodged in his back. The state-of-the-art technology for removing a foreign object from the body was at that time a process known as "reaching in and pulling it out." Dozens of physicians, nurses, and curious hangers-on probed Garfield's wound with their fingers in search of the bullet that had struck him. The inevitable infection of his wound killed him.
Charles Guiteau was hanged on June 30, 1882, at which point he ceased being stalwart.
© 2003, The Moron's Almanac