“Claw for Claw”

St. Conan’s Holy Well, Dalmally, Glenorchy, Argyll.

“Claw for claw,” as St Conan said to the devil. The expression “blow for blow” occurs in Waverley, and in a note the following explanation is given of it.

In the Irish ballads relating to Fingal, or Fion, there occurs, as in the primitive poetry of most nations, a cycle of heroes, each of whom has some distinguishing attributes. Upon these qualities and the adventures of those possessing them many proverbs are formed which are still current in the Highlands. Amongst other characteristics Conan is distinguished as in some respects a kind of Thersites, but brave and daring even to rashness. He had made a vow that he would never take a blow without returning it, and having like other heroes of antiquity descended into the infernal regions he received a cuff from the Arch-fiend who presided, which he instantly returned, using the expression in the text. Sometimes the proverb is rendered thus–‘Claw for claw, and the devil take the shortest nails.’

We should be very unwilling to believe that St Conan and Thersites–the evil-minded, “scurrilous Grecian”–had anything in common, and though in those rough early days even a churchman–with little law to look up to or to help him–might now and then have to take it into his own hands, he could not well be a brawler, and at the same time retain the reputation for piety which we know was attached to St Conan. The Conan of the ballad of Fion may have been a Thersites, and the saying may have originated in his time, and may have been appropriated and applied to their master by the monkish scribes. At anyrate, one of them gives the following explanation of it: It appears that at one period of the saint’s earlier life the Evil One had great power in Argyllshire. We find in everyday life that one man, when disputing with another, will now and then find it politic to bargain and perhaps give way a little, even when he knows himself to be in the right, rather than provoke a contest in which he is not sure he will altogether be the victor, and so the good monk found it necessary to temporise with the Devil. There were many very bad characters–so says the old chronicler–in those days in the district of Lorn, or what we call Lorn now, to whom St Conan could not altogether deny the Fiend a right; some of whom were hopelessly wicked, and the latter was about sweeping them all, middling, bad and very bad, into his net. St Conan gave up the last and offered to draw alternately for the others, stating his determination if this proposal was refused of fighting most desperately for them all. The Devil, knowing how very formidable an opponent the saint would prove, agreed. The very black ones were raked away, and then the champions took in turn the souls of the remainder. It was while they were thus engaged that the saint made use of the memorable expression, for his great enemy grew so terribly excited in the grim game that he could not keep his turn, and was continually stretching out his awful hands for his prey. “Keep your turn,” thundered the saint, “play fair, claw for claw.”

The Highland Monthly, Vol. II, no. 18, September 1890.

Pseudochristi et Pseudoprophetae

In the midst of all his seeming love for humanity and his glib talk of freedom and equality, he will have one great secret which he will tell to no one: he will not believe in God. Because his religion will be brotherhood without the fatherhood of God, he will deceive even the elect. He will set up a counterchurch which will be the ape of the Church, because he, the Devil, is the ape of God. It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content. It will be a mystical body of the Antichrist that will in all externals resemble the mystical body of Christ…

Msgr. Fulton J. Sheen, Communism and the Conscience of the West, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merril Company (1948).

Dragon, Cross, and Banners

Quarundam Ecclesiarum consuetudinis est etiam Draconem deferre primis duobus diebus ante Crucem, & Vexillum, cum longa, & inflata cauda: tertio vero die post Crucem, & Vexilla, cum cauda depressa. Hic est Diabolus, qui nos per tria tempora, ante legem, sub lege, sub gratia fallit, aut fallere cupit. In primis duobus erat quasi Dominus Orbis, ideoque Princeps, vel Deus Mundi vocatur, inde est quod in primis duobus diebus, cum inflata cauda procedit, in tempore vero gratiæ per Christum victus fuit, nec audet regnare patenter, sed homines seducit latenter. Inde est quod in ultimo die sequitur cum cauda depressa.

Ordo Officiorum Ecclesiae Senensis, 222.

Rascals

BOSWELL. “I drank chocolate, Sir, this morning with Mr. Eld; and, to my no small surprize, found him to be a Staffordshire Whig, a being which I did not believe had existed.” JOHNSON. “Sir, there are rascals in all countries.” BOSWELL. “Eld said, a Tory was a creature generated between a non-juring parson and one’s grandmother.” JOHNSON. “And I have always said, the first Whig was the Devil.” BOSWELL. “He certainly was, Sir. The Devil was impatient of subordination; he was the first who resisted power:

‘Better to reign in hell, than serve in heaven.’

James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.

Victorious, Gay, Triumphing Unicorn

Hanoverian broadsheet, An Emblematical Print of Culloden, 16 April 1746; Walter Blaikie Collection, National Galleries of Scotland.
Hanoverian broadsheet, An Emblematical Print of Culloden, 16 April 1746; Walter Blaikie Collection, National Galleries of Scotland.

An Emblematical Print Of Culloden.
[April 16, 1746]

This engraving is in three divisions, inclosed by a highly decorated scroll frame. The central division is enriched at one side by a lion and rose, at the other by a unicorn and thistle, and contains the following lines:—

“The Sacred Lion conquers every Foe,
And tears in Pieces all devouring Beasts
Of Christian Prey. But long and well preserves
His gallant Servant, and heroic Friend,
The brilliant, royal Protestant George the Second,
Our only rightful Sovereign, Earthly Prince,
And Lords anointed King, Brave Defender
Of our glorious Reformation Faith.
Constant, adroit, mighty, kind Protector,
Illustrious, tender-nursing Father,
Of the whole British-Israel of God.
And high exalts his potent shining Horn,
Like that of lofty, beauteous, and strong
(Of old Record in History Divine)
Victorious, gay, triumphing Unicorn.”

In the upper division stands George II. crowned, supported by the British Lion. Opposite to him is the Pretender, exclaiming, “We shall never be a Match for George, while that Lion stands by him.”, and turning round to the King of France, who, armed with a spur at his knee, is pricking and pushing him forward, with “Jettons les Reformez à Terre.” Behind the King is the Pope, looking slightly intoxicated, emptying a bottle and glass on Louis’s back, and averring “Pete Sanguinis Ampullam haeretici alteram.” The Devil, armed at the knee with a spur, is pushing the Pope forward in his turn, and boasting “Sum primum Mobile.”

In the lower division is the Duke of Cumberland laureate on horseback. On the ground are four lions tearing in pieces the Pope, the Devil, the Pretender, and the King of France.

Iam Regnaturus Vincit Nunc Hic Superatur

Mosaic of St. Michael the Archangel and the Dragon, Basilica di San Marco, Venice; by Francesco Zuccato; XVI century.
Mosaic of St. Michael the Archangel and the Dragon, Basilica di San Marco, Venice; by Francesco Zuccato; XVI century.

Awa’ Whigs Awa’

Our thrissles are a’ flourish’d
And bonnie bloom’d our roses
But Whigs cam like a frost in June
An’ wither’d a’ our posies

Chorus:
Awa’, Whigs, awa’
Awa’, Whigs, awa’
Ye’re jist a pack o’ traitor louns
Ye’ll dae nae guid at a’

Our sad decay in church and state
Surpasses my descriving
The Whigs cam o’er us like a curse
And we hae done wi’ thriving

Doon the law the Whigs’ll fa’
A’ sae tapsalteerie
And the craw, the raven and the rocks’ll fla’
Frae the wids around my dearie

Our ancient crown’s fa’n in the dust
Deil blin’ them wi’ the stoure o’t
An’ write their names in his black beuk
Wha gae the Whigs the power o’t

Grim vengeance lang has taen a nap
But we may see him wauken
Gude help the day when royal heads
Are hunted like a maukin

Doon the law the Whigs’ll fa’
A’ sae tapsalteerie
And the craw, the raven and the rocks’ll fla’
Frae the wids around my dearie

Mass and an Exorcism

After Holy Mass this morning at St. Thomas More Chapel, Fr. Vernoy prayed the very powerful and moving Exorcism of Pope Leo XIII.