The Georgian Birth of Christ

A romance of redemption remains the Tennyson clique's most popular drama. Wed 25 May 2022

The Lord rehearses for the Turin Shroud. Source

How do you stop 18th century humans eating babies?

Sell them a story about a miracle baby:

I'm the fake one. Source: The Leftovers

Christianity's baby-in-a-manger narrative had to deliver against multiple goals:

  • Dissuade humans from eating babies. See Before the Digestive Biscuit Game.
  • Persuade humans that children have value beyond their labour, meat and materials. See the complete Away in a Manger series and IHASFEMR.
  • Introduce humans to boundaries. Stretch-goal: induce humans to respect boundaries.

How was the narrative spun?

From Alfred, Lord Tennyson - Wikipedia:

Tennyson combines a deep interest in contemporary science with an unorthodox, even idiosyncratic, Christian belief.

Tennyson recorded in his Diary (p. 127): "I believe in Pantheism of a sort". His son's biography confirms that Tennyson was an unorthodox Christian, noting that Tennyson praised Giordano Bruno and Spinoza on his deathbed, saying of Bruno, "His view of God is in some ways mine", in 1892.

It's as if Tennyson wrote what Bruno wrote.

In the America of 1872, the country's most popular poet also helped draft the new Christian narrative.

From Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

Longfellow published in 1872 what he intended to be his masterpiece, Christus: A Mystery, a trilogy dealing with Christianity from its beginning. He followed this work with two fragmentary dramatic poems, “Judas Maccabaeus” and “Michael Angelo.”

They weren't the only Longfellow narratives sold to the public as historical fact.

Britannica's biography of Longfellow drops many hints that Longfellow had an unnamed promoter. That unnamed someone enabled Longfellow's travel to Europe and his studies there with English and German Romantics. And perhaps with an enhanced lifestyle on his return to America.

By contrast, Tennyson's promotor is named.

From James Henry Leigh Hunt:

[Hunt] was the centre of the Hampstead-based group that included William Hazlitt and Charles Lamb, known as the "Hunt circle". Hunt also introduced John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Robert Browning and Alfred Tennyson to the public.

Hunt didn't rely on Tennyson to promote the baby Jesus narrative; he promoted it directly.

From Leigh Hunt - Wikipedia:

in 1832, Hunt printed for private circulation Christianism, the work afterward published (1853) as The Religion of the Heart. A copy sent to Thomas Carlyle (see Who Faked the Cromwells?) secured his friendship, and Hunt went to live next door to him in Cheyne Row in 1833.

Before moving to Cheyne Row, Hunt led "Hunt's circle" in Hampstead, north London. Sometimes called 'the Cockney School', it sustained "the romantic desire for re-imagining culture". The quote is from Theresa M Kelley's review of Jeffrey N Cox's: Poetry and Politics in the Cockney School: Keats, Shelley, Hunt and Their Circle.

London's Romantic Christian cluster.


Red marker: James Henry Leigh Hunt's two Romantic addresses.

Cheyne Row then, is the second of two London bases from which the Romantic vision of Britain's past was promoted. Besides Thomas Carlyle and Alfred Lord Tennyson, another notable resident was John Samuel Phene. Phene was involved in finding, interpreting - and presumably dismantling - 'reptile tumuli' and 'serpent mounds'. As well as developing technical education schools in London.

The Tennysons also sponsored Rev George Oliver (his houses not shown on map) from around 1820 onwards. Oliver was involved with building churches and introducing schooling in England's east Midlands. Like Phene, Oliver interpreted serpent mounds as ancient, human-built phenomena. As artifacts left by the mythical Druids.

Although it also introduced 'Fish Fridays' as part of its human meat reduction plan, Christianity wasn't created only to reduce cannibalism. Its wider goals involved spreading the word. The word: 'morality'.

In England and America, morality tales were distributed in easy-to-understand 'common' English:

  • Monk Orm (AKA Ormin) (allegedly 12th century)
  • [Geoffrey Chaucer] (allegedly 14th century)
  • William Shakespeare (widely understood as a fake but widely misunderstood as to whose fake)
  • Frederic Manning (a forgotten 20th century Orm)

Orm, for example, wrote the Ormulum.

From Ormulum - Wikipedia

Orm was concerned with the laity. He sought to make the Gospel comprehensible to the congregation

While Frederic Manning wrote:

Scenes and Portraits followed in 1909, which was a discussion of religious topics written in the form of a series of debates in which those taking part are leading lights from the past, such as Socrates, Francis of Assisi and Thomas Cromwell (also faked).

In 1926 he contributed the introduction to an edition of Epicurus's Morals: Collected and faithfully Englished by Walter Charleton

These - and other - 'easy-to-read, easy-to-remember' texts helped spread moral lessons for cannibalism-prone English speakers. Like stories of witches and serpents, they were written to be discussed and remembered. To obscure the older memories of the unschooled.

But like Tennyson's, Hunt's and Longfellow's works, they are fake.

Chaucer is the most revealing. It is possible to work out who faked Chaucer, when, and where. Using network analysis, we can then assess who helped introduce Christian-style morality. At least into the English-speaking world.

So, starting with Chaucer...

From Leigh Hunt - Wikipedia:

Three of the Canterbury Tales in The Poems of Geoffrey Chaucer [were] modernized (1841) by Leigh Hunt

Hunt's preference was decidedly for Geoffrey Chaucer's verse style, as adapted to Modern English by John Dryden

That's right, it's the Romantics again.

What earlier culture were they re-imagining?

A clue from Portugal...

From Enchanted Moura - Wikipedia:

...fairy tales featuring 'mouras encantadas' are thought to be of pre-Roman, Indo-European Celtic origin.


The lore of the mouros encantados is used to find prehistoric monuments and was for some time used in the 19th century as the main method to locate Lusitanian archaeological "monuments", as Martins Sarmento viewed these as a kind of folk memory that was erased with Christianization.12

In other words, Portugal's 'pre-Roman' memories of disused structures were intact into the 19th century. Only then were they erased by Christianity.

And in Britain, a similar phenomenon. The arrival of 19th century Christianity erased some very un-Christian memories.

From The Diary of Abraham de la Pryme, the Yorkshire Antiquary, Abraham de la Pryme, publication date 1870, entry dated 13 March 1696, in north Lincolnshire, p83:

I heard an old man this day, that was one [of] Cromwell's soldiers, say that clergymen in his great master's days were no more esteem'd of than pedlars.

From The Diary of Abraham de la Pryme, the Yorkshire Antiquary, Abraham de la Pryme, publication date 1870, entry dated May/June 1696 at Winterton, Lincolnshire, p140 footnote:

ye pious and learned Mr. Theobald Place... told me, that when he began at first to build and repair that [Winterton] church, that there met him suddenly in the street a grave old long-bearded quaker, who accosted Mr. Place thus : ‘Thou Place, (says he) I have a message to thee from God, who commanded me to tell thee that thou must desist in going out this work of the devil, ye repairing of ye steeple-house of this town!’

From Richard Polwhele:

From 1806, when he took up a curacy at Kenwyn, Truro... Polwhele angered Manaccan parishioners with his efforts to restore the church and vicarage.

Not to mention Rev. William 'Wolley' Jolland's 19th century caution about erecting a cross because:

probably he might fear to give offence.

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