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Read De Quincey’s Revolt of the Tartars Part 5

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29 16. Earthquakes. “De Quincey here refers to such destructive shocks as that which occurred at Sparta, 464 B.C., in which, according to Thirlwall, 20,000 persons perished; that which Gibbon speaks of during the reign of Valentinian, 365 A.D., in which 50,000 persons lost their lives at Alexandria alone; that in the reign of Justinian, 526 A.D., in which 250,000 persons were crushed by falling walls; others in Jamaica, 1692 A.D.; at Lisbon, 1755 A.D., with loss of 30,000 lives; and in Venezuela, 1812 A.D., when Caraccas was destroyed, and 20,000 souls perished.”–WAUCHOPE.

29 20. pestilence. Described by Thucydides; see also Grote’s _History of Greece_, Chap. XLIX. Of the great plague of London (1665) the most realistic description is Defoe’s _Journal of the Plague Year_.

29 28. The siege of Jerusalem. Read Josephus, _The Jewish War_, Bks.

V and VI.

29 31. exasperation. Compare note on p. 26, l. 28.

30 3, 4. even of maternal love. The reference is to an incident mentioned by Josephus (_The Jewish War_, Bk. VI, Chap. III), in which a mother is described as driven by the stress of famine to kill and devour her own child.

30 5. romantic misery. How _romantic_? Compare this phrase with similar uses of the word _romantic_.

30 10. River Jaik. The Ural.

30 33. scenical propriety. Compare the statement with similar ones made by the author elsewhere.

31 11. decrement. Compare with its positive correspondent, _increment_.

31 20. acharnement. Fury.

31 26. The first stage, etc. A time mark in the essay.

32 10. liable. Another instance of a word often misused, correctly employed in the text. Compare note on _aggravate_, p. 26, l. 28.

32 23. Bactrian camels. There are two species of camel, the dromedary, single humped, and the Bactrian, with two humps. The former is native to Arabia, the latter to central Asia. The dromedary is the swifter of the two. _Bactria_ is the ancient name of that district now called Balkh, in Afghanistan.

33 7. evasion. Compare with its positive correspondent _invasion_; compare _decrement_, p. 31, l. 11.

34 8. champaign savannas. Both words mean about the same, an open, treeless country, nearly level. What is the linguistic source of both words?

37 19. hills of Moulgaldchares. Spurs of the Urals running southwest.

38 10. Polish dragoons. “The adjective refers not to the nationality, but to the equipment of the cavalry. Thus there was at one time in the French army a corps called _Cha.s.seurs d’Afrique_, and in both the French and that of the Northern troops in our own Civil War a corps of Zouaves. Similarly at p. 53, l. 24, De Quincey speaks of _yagers_ among the Chinese troops. Perhaps both Polish dragoon and yager were well-known military terms in 1837. At any rate there is no gain in scrutinizing them too closely, since the context in both cases seems to be pure invention.”–BALDWIN.

38 11. cuira.s.siers. From the French. Soldiers protected by a cuira.s.s, or breastplate, and mounted.

38 20. River Igritch. The Irgiz-koom.

39 21. concurrently. Etymology?

39 33. sad solitudes, etc. Notice this as one of the points in a very effective paragraph.

40 3. aggravations. Compare note on p. 26, l. 28.

40 5. howling wilderness. Why so called? Compare with a previous use of the same expression (p. 12, l. 5).

40 18. spectacle. Compare with other references to the theatrical quality of the _Flight_.

40 21. myriads. Is this literal? Notice the contrast in tone between this sentence and those which close the paragraph.

41 12. adust. “Latin, _adustus_, burned. Looking as if burned or scorched.”–_Century Dictionary_.

41 15. erected their speaking eyes. Study this expression until its forcefulness is felt. The camel is notorious for its unresponsive dullness; indeed its general apathy to its surroundings is all that accounts for its apparent docility. De Quincey, therefore, is speaking by the book when he describes these brutes as “without the affections or sensibilities of flesh and blood.” Their very submissiveness is due to their stupidity.

41 20. those of Xerxes. See Crete’s _History of Greece_, Chap. x.x.xVIII.

41 29. untread. A dictionary word, but uncommon. Recall similar words used by De Quincey which add picturesqueness in part because of their novelty.

41 31. their old allegiance. 1616. See the close of this paragraph.

41 33. scapegoat. _Leviticus_, xvi, 7-10; 20-22.

42 32, 33. land of promise … house, etc. _Deuteronomy_, viii, 14; ix, 28.

43 8. Orsk. Upon the river Or.

43 9. Oriembourg. A fort.

43 23. sinister. Etymology?

43 29. transpiring. Like _aggravate_ and _liable_, a word often misused. What does it mean?

44 10. were dispersed. Note the variety of phrases in the following ten lines used to indicate separation.

46 16. Hetman. Chief. Compare Germ. _Hauptmann_, Eng. _captain_, Fr.


47 1. evasion. See previous note on p. 33, l. 7.

48 2. carabines. Old-fashioned spelling. Short rifles adapted to the use of mounted troops.

49 13. without a parallel. As has been seen, De Quincey is fond of superlative statements. A writer may or may not be true in his claims; the habitual a.s.sumption, however, predisposes his reader to doubt his judgment.

49 16. Desultors. This word is not in common use, but _desultory_ is. Look up the derivation and note the metaphor concealed in the latter word.

49 19. at the rate of 200 miles. Compare preceding note on p. 24, 1. 26.

50 27. “more fell,” etc. From the last speech in Shakespeare’s Oth.e.l.lo, addressed to Iago:

O Spartan dog, More fell than anguish, hunger, or the sea!

Look on the tragic loading of this bed; This is thy work.

51 17. “fierce varieties.” Misquoted. See _Paradise Lost_, II, 599; VII, 272.

51 19. post equitem, etc.:

Behind the horseman sits black care.

–Horace’s _Odes_, III, 1, 40.


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