Thursday, September 03, 2009

Virtue Proof Against All Solicitations

Where's your chariot, Helios?

If you're stuck for a theme for your next party, might I suggest The Seven Wonders of the World For Rent or Sale?

Among the mountains themselves the Calder afterwards leaves on the left Halifax, a very famous town on the slope of a hill extending from West to East. It has not had this name many ages, being before called Horton, as some of the inhabitants relate, adding this tale concerning the change of the name. A certain priest, as they call him, had long been in love with a young woman, without success; and finding her virtue proof against all his solicitations, his love suddenly changing to madness, the villain cut off her head, which being afterwards hung upon a yew tree, was reverenced and visited by the common people, till it began to corrupt, every person pulling off some twigs of the tree. The tree, stripped of its branches, maintained its reputation for sanctity among the credulous, and the vulgar fancied the little veins spread like hair or threads between the bark and body of the yew, were the identical hairs of the maiden. A pilgrimage was established from the neighbourhood hither, and such a concourse came that the little village of Horton grew to a large town, and took the name of Haligfax, or Halifax; q.d. Holyhair, fax signifying hair among the English on the other side of Trent, whence also, a noble family in these pairs, called Fairfax, from their fair hair."

-- Camden quoted in a letter from W.R. Whatton to The Gentleman's Magazine
(volume 73, Part 2, 1819) on the etymology of Halifax.

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