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The Lies and Fallacies of the Encyclopedia Britannica by Joseph McCabe

The Lies and Fallacies of the Encyclopedia Britannica by Joseph McCabe

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Published by: mbooboo on Aug 27, 2010
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Reproduced in electronic form2002P.O. Box 926Louisville, KY 40201U.S.A.The purpose of the Bank of Wisdomis to again make the United States theFree Marketplace of Ideas that theAmerican Founding Fathersoriginally meant this Nation to be.Emmett F. FieldsBank of Wisdom.
A few years ago I had occasion to refer in one of my books to themale soprani of the papal chapel at Rome. These castrated males,sexuaiiy mutilated, as every priest and every
Italian knew, for sopranlin the choir of the Sistine
Chapel, were the amusement of Rome when itdeveloped a large degree of skepticism but a grave scandal to theAmerican and British Catholics who began to arrive about’ the middle
of the last century. One
of the vices w&h the Suaniards
brounhuto Italy -k?- the l&h century -along with the B&is family and theSuanish Roman Emnerors was the falsetto singer. There were artistswho could sing falsetto wlth distinction, but as the o
era gained inpo
Pularity in Italy
practice began of emasculating oys with good
vo ces and retaining them as male sopranl or, as the Italians, withtheir usual lack of Christian reticence about sex called them, theco&&i. Thev were in everv onera in the 18th centurv. but foreian
visitors were
reconcilgd b them. The fam us4EKglish weekiy,
The Spectator,
wrote about “the shrill celestial whl e of eunuchs,” and
bv the end of the 18th centurs thev benan to fade out of the ouera-house.- - -But, as the word “celestial” indicates, they were found also ln thechoir of all churches that were proud of their music, particularly inthe chapel of the Vatican PaIace, the Sistine Chapel, one of the greatest
shrines of art as well as of virtue and piety
in Rwme. And the churchesclung to their eunuchs when public oopera. The plea seems to have been t Klnion almost drove them out ofat there was some indelicacy, orrlsk of It, in having females ln the church choir, so the riests chose to
ignore the rather
indelicate nature of the operation 0 B emasculation.The fact was as quell knownas the celibacy of the clergy. Grove’s stand-ard “Dictionary of Music and Musicians” (19271 says In a section titled“CastraW:“Eunuchs were in vogue as singers until comparatively,. recenttimes; .they were employed in the choirs of Rome.”So Macmillan’s and ali other ieadinrt dictionaries of music. andEnglish and
American visitors to Rome before 1870 who wrote books
rarely failed to mention, with smirks of humor or drowns of piety, howthe beautiful musiuof the papal choir was due in large part to manu-factured soprani. In the later years of the last century I
withelderly men who had, out of curiosity, dined or lunched with these quaintservants of God.An American reader wrote me that a Catholic friend, who haddoubtless, as is usual. consulted his pastor, lndigntintly denied the-statement. It was one of the usual “lies of Freethinkers:” For an easilyaccessible authority, reliable on such a point, I referred him to theEncyclopedia Britannica. In all editions to 1928 the article “Eunuchs,”after dlscusslng the barbaric African custom of making eunuchs for theharem, said:“Even more vile. as being practiced by a civilized Europeannation, was the Italian practice of castrating boys to prevent thenatural development of the voice, in order to train them as adultsoprano singers, such as might formerly be found in the SistineChapel. Though such mutilation is a crime punishable with severity,the supply of sopranl never failed as 1Onwere in demand in high quarters. Driven 5as these mu&al powersong ago from the Itahanstage by pubiic opinion they remained the musical glory and the

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