En 18 Title Theft

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    18. Rika: Title Theft

    [189] (...) therefore, I will afford it a place here.

    Letter of Rika, the elder maid, read forth at Staveren at the Yulefeast:

    Ye all, whose ancestors arrived here with Friso, I bid you my respects. You consider yourselves innocent of idolatry. This, I will not address today. Rather, I will point out to you a failing that is scarce better:

    You know, or you know not, that Wralda has a thousand glorious names. But this you all know, that he is called ‘All-Feeder’,[1] because everything comes from and grows out of him so that his creations may be fed. ‘Tis true that Earth is at whiles also called ‘All-Feederess’, because she brings forth all the fruits and grains with which humans and animals feed themselves. Yet she would not bear any fruits or grains had Wralda not given her the power. Wives too, who nurse their children from their bosom, are called ‘feederess’. But if Wralda had not given them milk, there should be no goodness for the children to find, so that, in the final tally, Wralda alone remains ‘Feeder’. That Earth is at times called ‘All-Feederess’ and a mom ‘feederess’ can yet be justified, but that a man should allow himself to be called ‘feeder’ because he has sired children[2] defies all reason. [190] Since I know whence this folly comes, hear me now:

    It comes from our enemies. And if ever you should follow their example, you shall be made slaves thereby — to the sorrow of Frya and to the punishment of your impudence. I shall tell you what befell the slave peoples, as an example from which you may learn:

    The puppet kings, who live according to their own whims, vie with Wralda for the crown. Out of jealousy that Wralda is named All-feeder, they desired to be called ‘feeders of the people’. Now, everyone knows that a king has no control over the growth of crops and that his own food is brought to him by the people. And yet they sought to persist in their audaciousness. So as to carry out their designs, they first resolved that they were no longer content with the voluntary offerings, but imposed a tax upon the people. With the treasure they thus gathered, they hired foreign mercenaries, whom they stationed around their courts.

    They furthermore took as many wives as they pleased, and the lesser princes and lords followed their example. When, as a result, discord and division crept into the households, and accusations were made about it, they said: “Every man is the feeder of his household. Therefore, he shall also be its master and judge.” [191] Thus came despotism and, just as it ruled over the households through the men, it did so through the kings over their states and peoples. Once the kings had accomplished that they were called ‘feeders of the people’, they proceeded to have statues made after their likeness. These statues they had placed in the temples next to the idols of the gods. And anyone who would not bow down to them was either killed or put in chains.

    Your ancestors and the Twisklanders had dealings with the foreign kings; that is where they learned this foolishness. But not alone that some of your men are guilty of stealing divine titles, I also have reproofs against many of your women! If by your men some are to be found who wish to be set upon a level with Wralda, there are some amongst your women who want the same with Frya! Because they have borne children, they allow themselves to be called ‘mother’ — but they forget that Frya bore children without the intercession of a man. Indeed, not only are they intent on stealing from Frya and the honorable mother their exalted titles (though these they could never hope to attain!), they do the same even with the honorary titles of their neighbors and kin: There [192] are women among you who allow themselves to be called ‘frow’ (lady),[3] although they know that this title belongs only to the wives of nobles. They also cause their daughters to be called ‘faemna’ (maidens), despite knowing that no girl can be called so unless she belongs to a burg.

    Ye all fancy that you improve yourselves through this title theft, but you forget that there is envy attached to it, and that every wrong sows the seeds of its own scourge. If you fail to reverse course, time shall cause that scourge to grow so immense that one cannot see the end. Your descendants shall be flogged with it, yet they shall not understand whence the lashes come. But although you build no burgs for the maidens and give them over to fate, some still shall remain. From out of woods and caves they shall come, testifying to your descendants that you were willfully to blame. Then shall you be damned. Your ghosts will rise affrighted from the graves. They will call upon Wralda, and upon Frya and her maidens — but no relief shall they see to bring forth ere the Yule enters a new cycle. And that shall not come to pass until three thousand years have gone by after this age.

    The end of Rika’s letter.

    [two pages missing]


    1. ‘All-feeder’ (AL.FÉDER) — in this chapter our word ‘father’ is suggested to be derived from ‘feeder’; FÉDER is consistently translated as feeder here.
    2. 'has sired children' (TÁT SÍ) — lit.: 'be dad'.
    3. ‘‘frow’ (lady)’ (FROWA) — plural in original; Dutch/German/Swedish cognates: ‘vrouw’/‘Frau’/‘Fru’.

    Sandbach 1876

    [p.229] therefore I will allow it a place here.

    Letter of Rika the Oudmaagd, read at Staveren at the Juul Feast.

    My greeting to all of you whose forefathers came here with Friso. According to what you say, you are not guilty of idolatry. I will not speak about that now, but will at once mention a failing which is very little better. You know, or you do not know, how many titles Wr-alda has; but you all know that he is named universal provider, because that everything comes and proceeds from him for the sustenance of his creatures. It is true that Irtha is named sometimes the feeder of all, because she brings forth all the fruits and grains on which men and beasts are fed; but she would not bear any fruit or grain unless Wr-alda gave her the power. Women who nourish their children at their breasts are called nurses, but if Wr-alda did not give them milk the children would find no advantage; so that, in short, Wr-alda really is the nourisher. That Irtha should be called the universal nourisher, and that a mother should be called a feeder, one can understand, figuratively speaking; but that a father should be called a feeder, because he is a father, goes against all reason. Now I know whence all this folly comes. Listen to me. It comes from our enemies; and if this is followed up you will become slaves, to the sorrow of Frya and to the punishment of your pride. I will tell you what happened to the slave people; from that you may take warning. The foreign kings, who follow their own will, place Wr-alda below the crown. From envy that Wr-alda is called the universal father, they wish also to be called fathers of the people. Now, everybody knows that kings do not regulate [p.231] the productiveness of the earth; and that they have their sustenance by means of the people, but still they will persist in their arrogance. In order to attain their object they were not satisfied from the beginning with free gifts, but imposed a tax upon the people. With the tax thus raised they hired foreign soldiers, whom they retained about their courts. Afterwards they took as many wives as they pleased, and the smaller princes and gentry did the same. When, in consequence, quarrels and disputes arose in the households, and complaints were made about it, they said every man is the father (feeder) of his household, therefore he shall be master and judge over it. Thus arose arbitrariness, and as the men ruled over their households the kings would do over their people. When the kings had accomplished that, they should be called fathers of the people, they had statues of themselves made, and erected in the churches beside the statues of the idols, and those who would not bow down to them were either killed or put in chains. Your forefathers and the Twisklanders had intercourse with the kings, and learned these follies from them. But it is not only that some of your men have been guilty of stealing titles, I have also much to complain of against your wives. If there are men among you who wish to put themselves on a level with Wr-alda, there are also women who wish to consider themselves equals of Frya. Because they have borne children, they call themselves mothers; but they forget that Frya bore children without having intercourse with a man. Yes, they not only have desired to rob Frya and the Eeremoeders of their honourable title (with whom they cannot put themselves upon an equality), but they do the same with the honourable titles of their fellow-creatures. There are women who allow themselves to be called ladies, [p.233] although they know that that only belongs to the wives of princes. They also let their daughters be called maagden, although they know that no young girls are so called unless. they belong to a citadel. Yon all fancy that you are the better for this name-stealing, but you forget that jealousy clings to it, and that every wrong sows the seed of its own rod. If you do not alter your course, in time it will grow so strong that you cannot see what will be the end. Your descendants will be flogged by it, and will not know whence the stripes come. But although you do not build citadels for the maidens and leave them to their fate, there will still remain some who will come out of woods and caves, and will prove to your descendants that you have by your disorderliness been the cause of it. Then you will be damned. Your ghosts will rise frightened out of their graves. They will call upon Wr-alda, Frya, and her maidens, but they shall receive no succour before the Juul shall enter upon a pew circuit, and that will only be three thousand years after this century.

    The end of Rika's letter.[1]

    Note Sandbach

    1. Here the writing of Beeden ends. In the manuscript two successive pages are missing according to the paging, but no doubt there are more wanting. The abrupt opening of what follows shows that the beginning of the following writing has been lost, and, in consequence, also the notification of the name of the writer, who may have been a son or a grandson of Beeden.

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