Invigilant et al.
Property Terms I
Property Terms II
Property Terms III
Shining Words I
Shining Words II
Rhetorical Devices I
Rhetorical Devices II
Rhetorical Devices III
Rhetorical Devices IV
Maxims of Equity I
Maxims of Equity II
Maxims of Equity III
Bill Long 10/26/04
Little Letters/Big Differences
I decided a few days ago that I would take up the study of gems. I think I wanted to do so because gems are pretty, the number of kinds of gems is finite (only around 350), pictures abound, legends attach to some of them and interesting stories arise as to their naming and history. I figure also that I should see how I master a list of 350 or so (like the 350 or so ancient rhetorical terms) before I try the more ambitious intellectual task of mastering species or plants or fish or something like that. And, as I learn them, I will learn them "in context" with other words, as I have done previously, so that the ironies, human stories and unexpected jewels of insight that they contain can be placed next to other unknown or little-known words.
The Terms, One at a Time
Each of the three terms for today has such a colorful and distinct history as to arrest us in our tracks. Morganite is a variety of pink beryl, discovered early in the twentieth century and named for the person who funded the exploratory journey to Madagascar which led to its discovery: John Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913). The Tiffany gemologist, George F. Kunz, had previously been instrumental in naming a stone discovered by others in California after himself, and the report was that Morgan was disappointed at not having it named after him, since he funded Kunz's expeditions.* So, Morgan was the first person who was
[*The fascinating story of the discovery, dispute over and naming of kunzite, a form of spodumene, has been written by New York mineralogist Lawrence Conklin].
neither a gemologist or a discoverer of the stones to have a gem named after him. The pinkish hue arises from trace amounts of manganese in the beryl. Beryl is the March birthstone, with a hardness of between 7.5-8, making it resistant to most scratching. Bluish-green beryl is known as aquamarine, yellowish beryl is heliodor and goshenite is clear beryl. The recent (late 1970s) find of a red beryl, called bixbite (named after a Utahn) completes the list of about ten or twelve hues of beryl. For a few years after the discovery of pink beryl, debate raged over whether it was simply a variety of diamond, a distinct stone or a variety of something else. I will have to learn what all of this means, to be sure.
You might be forgiven for thinking that morganize might just mean the arrangement of minerals in a collection or something like that, since JP Morgan had the world's biggest gem collection at the time, though the collection is now housed in the Museum of Natural History. But, if you thought this, you would be wrong, dead wrong. According to the OED, to morganize means to "assassinate secretly, in order to prevent disclosures, as the Freemasons were said to have done in the case of William Morgan in 1826." And, a huge story opens here, which can only be hinted at now. William Morgan, a VA native, moved to Batavia, NY in the mid-1820s, joined a Freemason lodge but quarreled with them and left, and then decided to publish a book exposing the ritual, as well as the hypocrisy, of the Freedmasons. Before he was able to do so, he was kidnapped, whisked away to Fort Niagara and never heard of again. His book eventually was published by a local newspaper publisher, David Miller, and it led to widespread reaction against the Masons and other secret societies. The kidnappers received less than one year imprisonment because kidnapping, at the time, was only a misdemeanor. It was only the Lindberg baby made kidnapping a major felony. I believe that the issue posed by the Morgan case is still unresolved in American life: to what extent this republic will truly tolerate an independent and secret society of massive financial and/or religious influence.
This word alway appears in the phrase "morganatic marriage," and is used to describe a marriage of unequal social partners (usually the male is of a higher class) in which the wife and children will not be able to inherit the titles, prerogatives or estate of the man but the children will not be considered illegitimate. The institution of morganatic marriage is not a common law development--it is the creation of the Germanic mind. It is so named because the wife only partakes of the "morning gift" (Morgen is German for morning, and Old High German for "morning gift" is "Morgangaba"), a small dowry given to the wife either the morning before or after the marriage, from the husband. It is also called "marriage with the left hand," [Ehe zur Linkenhand] because the groom only extends his left hand, rather than his right, to the bride. I might as well dump three more foreign langauge terms on you, thus showing my tendency to soraismus. Morganatic marriage is a mesalliance, which occurs when partners are not ebenburtig, resulting in a matrimonium inaequale. Use that with all your friends, if you still have any left after having read so far in my articles.
That's enough for one day, don't you think?
Copyright © 2004-2010 William R. Long