Hinduwebsite.com - The Encyclopedia


|| PREFACE || A || B || C || D || E || F || G || H || I || J || K || L || M || N || O || P || Q || R || S || T || U || V || W || X || Y || Z ||


Vaal, a river of South Africa, which rises in the Drakenberg Mountains, separates the Free State from the Transvaal, and after a course of 500 m. in a SW. direction joins the Nu Gariep to form the Orange River.

Vaccination. Inoculation with the matter of cowpox as a protection against smallpox, was introduced 1796-98 by Edward Jenner (q. v.), and at length adopted by the faculty after much opposition on the part of both medical men and the public.

Vaigatz, an island in the Arctic Ocean, 67 m. long by 26 m. broad, the "Holy Island" of the Samoyedes (q. v.), an abode of furred animals, seals, &c.

Vaishnavas, in India, name given to the worshippers of Vishnu.

Vaisyas. See Caste.

Valais, a Swiss canton, between Berne on the N. and Italy on the S., in a wide valley of the Rhône, and shut in by lofty mountains; cattle-rearing is the chief industry.

Valdai Hills, a plateau rising to the height of 1100 ft. above the sea-level in Russia, forming the only elevation in the Great European Plain.

Valencia (180), a city of Spain, once the capital of a kingdom, now of a fertile province of the name; is situated on the shores of the Mediterranean, 3 m. from the mouth of the Guadalaviar, in the midst of a district called the Huerta, which is watered by the river, and grows oranges, citron, almond, mulberry-trees in richest luxuriance, the fruits of which it exports; is an archbishop's see, and contains a large Gothic cathedral, a picture gallery, and a university with a large library; has silk, cloth, leather, cigar, floor-tile manufactures, and exports grain and silk besides fruits.

Valencia (40), a city of Venezuela, in a rich district, on a lake of the same name; large numbers of cattle, horses, and mules are reared in the neighbourhood.

Valenciennes (24), an ancient fortified city in the dep. Nord, France, on the Scheldt, 32 m. SE. of Lille, with a citadel planned by Vauban, a fine town-hall, and a modern Gothic church and other buildings; has textile manufactures, besides iron-works, and was once famous for its lace.

Valens, Flavius, Emperor of the East from 364 to 378; nominated by his brother Valentinian I. emperor of the West; was harassed all his reign by the Goths, who had been allowed to settle in the empire, and whom he drove into revolt, to the defeat of his army in 378, in a battle in which he was himself slain; the controversy between the orthodox and the Arians was at its height in this reign, and to the latter party both he and his victors belonged; b. 328.

Valentia, an island in co. Kerry, Ireland, is the European terminus of the Atlantic telegraph system.

Valentine, Basil, a German alchemist of the 15th century, is said to have been a Benedictine monk at Erfurt, and is reckoned the father of analytical chemistry.

Valentine's Day, the 14th of February, on which young people of both sexes were wont (the custom seems gradually dying out) to send love-missives to one another; it is uncertain who the Valentine was that is associated with the day, or whether it was with any of the name.

Valentinian I., Roman emperor from 364 to 375, born in Pannonia, of humble birth; distinguished himself by his capacity and valour; was elected emperor by the troops at Nicæa; his reign was spent in repelling the inroads of the barbarians.

Valentinians, a Gnostic sect, called after their leader Valentine, a native of Egypt of the 2nd century, regarded heathenism as preparatory to Christianity, and Christ as the full and final development in human form of a series of fifteen stages of emanation from the infinite divine to the finite divine in Him "the fulness of Him that filleth all in all," each stage in the process achieved by the union of a male element with a female, that is, a conceptive and a susceptive.

Valerianus, Lucinius, Roman emperor from 253 to 260, elected by the legions in Rhætia; the empire being assailed on all hands he set out to defend it on the E.; was defeated at Edessa, taken prisoner, and cruelly treated; when he died his skin, it is said, was stuffed and paraded as a trophy.

Valerius Maximus, a Roman writer of the age of Tiberius, who compiled a collection of the sayings and doings of notable Romans; it is of very miscellaneous character, and is written in a bombastic style, and dedicated to the emperor.

Valetta (62), a fortress city, the capital of Malta, on a promontory on the NE. coast of the island, between two bays; the streets are steep, and the harbour is strongly fortified; it contains several fine buildings, a cathedral, the palace of the Grand-Masters of the Knights Templar, and the hospital of St. John; there is also a university and a large public library.

Valette, Jean Parisot de la, grand-master of the order of St. John, famous for his military exploits and for his defence of Malta against the Turks in 1565 (1494-1565).

Valhalla, Hall of Odin, the heaven of the brave in the Norse mythology, especially such as gave evidence of their valour by dying in battle, the "base and slavish" being sent to the realm of Hela, the Death-Goddess.

Valkyrs, in the Norse mythology daughters of Odin, who selected such as were worthy to be slain in battle, and who conducted them to Valhalla (q. v.).

Valla, Laurence, a learned humanist, born in Rome, and a valiant defender of the claims of scholarship; was a distinguished Latinist (1405-1457).

Valladolid (62), a famous city of Spain, the capital of old Castile, and now of a province of the name, 150 m. N. of Madrid; is a fortress town; is the seat of an archbishop; has a university and a number of churches; manufactures textile fabrics, iron, and leather.

Vallombrosa (shady valley), a Benedictine abbey 15 m. E. of Florence, in a valley of the Apennines, surrounded by forests of beech, firs, &c.; is a classic spot.

Valmy, a village of France, 20 m. NE. of Châlons, where the Prussians, under the Duke of Brunswick, were defeated by the troops of the French Republic under Kellermann in 1792.

Valois, an ancient duchy of France, which now forms part of the departments of Oise and Aisne, a succession of the counts of which occupied the throne of France, beginning with Philippe VI. in 1328 and ending with Henry III. in 1574.

Valparaiso (Vale of Paradise) (150), the second city and chief port in Chile, over 100 m. NW. of Santiago, at the head of a bay which looks N., and where the anchorage is dangerous; is quite a commercial city; exports ores, nitre, wheat, hides, &c., the business affairs of which are largely in the hands of foreigners, chiefly English, American, and Germans; it has been on various occasions visited by severe earthquakes; was bombarded by a Spanish fleet in 1866 and suffered in the Civil War of 1891.

Vambéry, Arminius, traveller and philologist, born in Hungary, of poor Jewish parentage; apprenticed to a costumier; took to the study of languages; expelled from Pesth as a revolutionary in 1848, settled in Constantinople as a teacher, travelled as a dervish in Turkestan and elsewhere, and wrote "Travels and Adventures in Central Asia," a most valuable and notable work; b. 1832.

Vampire, the ghost of a dead person accursed, fabled to issue from the grave at night and suck the blood of the living as they sleep, the victims of whom are subject to the same fate; the belief is of Slavonic origin, and common among the Slavs.

Van (35), a town in the Kurdistan Highlands, on the SE. shore of Lake Van, and 145 m. SE. of Erzerum; inhabited by Turks and Armenians.

Van Buren, Martin, the eighth President of the United States, born in New York; devoted from early years to politics, and early made his mark; elected President in 1835, an office which he adorned with honour, though to the sacrifice of his popularity (1782-1862).

Van Diemen's Land. See Tasmania.

Vanadium, a metallic silver-white elementary body of rare occurrence, and occurring in very small quantities; discovered first in 1801 by Del Rio.

Vanbrugh, Sir John, dramatist, of uncertain birth; his dramas adaptations from the French of Molière and others; had been a soldier; was Clarencieux King-at-Arms, and is noted as an architect; d. 1726.

Vancouver Island (30), a rugged-coasted island on the W. of North America; belongs to British Columbia; is separated from it by a strait of the sea; is 278 m. long and 50 to 65 m. of average breadth; is covered with forests, and only partially cultivated; is rich in minerals, and has extensive fisheries.

Vandals, a fierce nation of the Teutonic race, who, from the NE. of Europe, invaded Rome on the E., mutilating and destroying the works of art in the city.

Vanderbilt, Cornelius, American millionaire, born on Staten Island; began life as a ferryman, acquired his fortune by enterprise in steamship navigation, and speculating in railway extensions (1794-1877).

Vandeveldt, William, the Elder, marine painter, born at Leyden; painted sea-fights; was patronised by Charles II. and James II. (1611-1693).

Vandeveldt, William, the Younger, marine painter, son of preceding; patronised likewise by Charles II. (1633-1707).

Vandyck, Sir Anthony, great portrait-painter, born in Antwerp; studied under Rubens, whose favourite pupil he was; visited Italy, and devoted himself to the study of the great masters; on his return to Antwerp painted "Christ Crucified between Two Thieves"; came to England in 1632, and was patronised by Charles I.; was knighted, and made court painter; painted the royal family, the king, queen, and their two children, and during the next eight years executed portraits of all the court people; his portraits are very numerous, and the most celebrated are in England; died at Blackfriars, and was buried in St. Paul's (1599-1641).

Vane, Sir Henry, a notability of the Civil War period in England; was a Puritan of the republican type, born in Kent; studied at Oxford; emigrated for a time to New England, but returned, entered Parliament, took an active part against the Royalists, withstood Cromwell, and was openly rebuked by him; his opposition to the Protectorate led to his imprisonment for a time; at the Restoration he was arrested and beheaded on Tower Hill (1612-1662).

Var (288), a department in the SE. of France; is in part mountainous, with fertile valleys; yields wine, tobacco, and various fruits.

Varennes, a small town near Verdun, in France, where in 1791 Louis XVI. was intercepted in his attempt to escape from France.

Varna (25), a port of Bulgaria, on a bay in the Black Sea; a place of considerable trade, specially in exporting corn; here the French and English allied forces encamped for four months in 1854 prior to their invasion of the Crimea.

Varnhagen, von Ense, German memoir writer, and excellent in that department; a man of many vicissitudes; memorable chiefly as the editor of his wife's letters. See Rahel.

Varro, Marcus Terentius, "the most learned of the Romans," wrote a number of works both in prose and verse, of which only fragments remain, but enough to prove the greatness of the loss; was the friend of Pompey, then Cæsar, then Cicero, but survived the strife of the time and spent his leisure afterwards in literary labours (116-27 B.C.).

Varuna, in the Hindu mythology the god of the luminous heavens, viewed as embracing all things and as the primary source of all life and every blessing. "In connection with no other god," says M. Barth, "is the sense of the divine majesty and of the absolute dependence of the creature expressed with the same force. We must go to the Psalms to find similar accents of adoration and supplication." He was the prototype of the Greek Uranus, the primeval father of gods and men.

Varus, Publius Quintilius, Roman consul, appointed by Augustus governor of Germany; being attacked by Arminius and overpowered with loss of three Roman legions under his command, he committed suicide; when the news of the disaster reached Rome Augustus was overwhelmed with grief, and in a paroxysm of despair called upon the dead man to restore him his legions.

Vasari, Giorgio, Italian painter and architect, born in Arezzo; was the author of biographies of Italian artists, and it is on these, with the criticism they contain, that his title to fame rests (1511-1574).

Vassar College, a college 2 m. E. of Poughkeepsie, New York, founded by Matthew Vassar, a wealthy brewer, in 1861 for the higher education of women.

Vathec, an Oriental potentate and libertine, guilty of all sorts of crimes, and hero of a novel of the name by William Beckford (q. v.).

Vatican, The, the palace of the Pope in Rome and one of the largest in the world; contains a valuable collection of works of art, and is one of the chief attractions in the city; it is a storehouse of literary treasures as well and documents of interest bearing on the history of the Middle Ages.

Vatican Council, a Church council attended by 764 ecclesiastics under the auspices of Pius IX., which assembled on December 8, 1869, and by a majority of nearly 481 decreed the doctrine of Papal Infallibility.

Vauban, Sebastien le Prestre de, marshal of France in the reign of Louis XIV.; military engineering was his great forte, and as such he "conducted 53 sieges, was present at 104 battles, erected 33 fortresses, and restored the works of 300 old ones"; he was originally in the service of Spain, and was enlisted in the French service by Cardinal Mazarin; he was a political economist as well as engineer, but his animadversions only procured for him the royal disfavour (1633-1707).

Vaucluse (valley shut in) (235), department in the SE. of France; chief industries agriculture, silk-weaving, pottery, &c., and with a village of the name, 19 m. E. of Avignon, famous for its fountain and as the retreat of Petrarch for 16 years.

Vaud (247), a canton in the W. of Switzerland, between Jura and the Bernese Alps; is well cultivated, yields wines, and its inhabitants Protestants; the capital is Lausanne.

Vaudeville, a light, lively song with topical allusions; also a dramatic poem interspersed with comic songs of the kind and dances.

Vaudois, the name given to Waldenses who, driven forth from France or Vaud, found refuge and settled down in the mountain fastnesses of Piedmont.

Vaughan, Charles John, English clergyman, born at Leicester; was a pupil of Dr. Arnold's at Rugby; for many years famous as Master of the Temple, a post he resigned in 1894; held in high esteem as a preacher and for his fine spirit (1816-1897).

Vaughan, Henry, English poet, self-styled the "Silurist" from the seat of his family in South Wales; studied at Oxford, was a partisan of the royal cause; wrote four volumes of poems in the vein of George Herbert, but was much more mystical and had deeper thoughts, could he have expressed them; of his poems the first place has been assigned to "Silex Scintillans," the theme the flinty heart when smelted giving out sparks. "At times," adds Prof. Saintsbury, "there is in him genuine blood and fire; but it is not always, or even often, that the flint is kindled and melted to achieved expression" (1622-1695).

Vaughan, Herbert, Cardinal, archbishop of Westminster, born at Gloucester, son of Lieut.-Colonel Vaughan; educated at Stonyhurst and abroad; succeeded Cardinal Manning as archbishop in 1872, having previously been bishop of Salford; b. 1832.

Vauvenargues, Marquis de, celebrated French essayist, born at Aix, Provence, poor, but of an old and honourable family; entered the army at 18, served in the Austrian Succession War, resigned his commission in 1744, settled in Paris and took to literature; his principal work was "Introduction à la Connaissance de l'Esprit Humain," followed by reflections and maxims on points of ethics and criticism; he suffered from bad health, and his life was a short one (1715-1747).

Vedanga, one of the six commentaries on the Vedas.

Vedânta, a system of Hindu speculation in interpretation of the Vedas, founded on the pre-supposition of the identity of the spiritual working at the heart of things and the spiritual working in the heart of man.

Vedas, the sacred books of the Hindus, of sacerdotal origin and ancient date, of which there are four collections, severally denominated the Rig-Veda, the Atharva-Veda, the Sama-Veda, the Yajur-Veda, to each of which are attached Brahmanas in elucidation.

Veddas, the aborigines of Ceylon, of whom some 2000, still in a wild state, are extant between Kandy and the E. coast.

Vega, Lopez de la, known as Lope, Spanish dramatist, born in Madrid; began life as a soldier; served in the Armada; was secretary to the Duke of Alva; took orders, and became an officer of the Inquisition; wrote a heroic pastoral entitled "Arcadia" at the instance of the duke, and the "Dragonica" over the death of Drake as the destroyer of the supremacy of Spain on the sea; was a man of fertile inventiveness, and is said to have written 2000 plays, besides no end of verses, and was called by Cervantes a "Prodigy of Nature" (1562-1635).

Vehmgerichte or Fehmgericht, a tribunal in Germany during the Middle Ages, of which there were several, all powerful, in connection with a secret organisation under sanction of the emperor for the enforcement of justice and punishment of crime at a period when the States severally were too weak to uphold it. These courts were held in secret places at night, and inspired great terror in the 13th and 14th centuries.

Veii, an ancient city of Etruria, and in early times a formidable rival of Rome, from which it was only 12 m. distant. The Romans under Camillus laid siege to it, and it baffled them for 10 years.

Veit, Philipp, painter of the Romanticist school, born at Berlin; his best-known work is a fresco, "Christianity bringing the Fine Arts to Germany."

Velasquez, Diego de Silva, greatest of Spanish painters, born at Seville, of Portuguese family; studied under Francisco Herrera (q. v.), who taught him to teach himself, so that but for the hint he was a self-taught artist, and simply painted what he saw and as he saw it; portrait-painting was his forte, one of his earliest being a portrait of Olivarez, succeeded by one of Philip IV. of Spain, considered the most perfect extant, and by others of members of the royal family; specimens of his work are found in different countries, but the best are in Spain, in Madrid, and they include sacred subjects, genre, landscape, and animal paintings, as well as portraits (1599-1660).

Vendée, La (442), a dep. of France, on the Bay of Biscay, S. of Loire-Inférieure; marshy on the W., wooded on the N., and with an open fertile tract in the middle and S.; it is famous as the seat of a stubborn resistance to the Revolution, and for the bloody violence with which it was suppressed.

Vendémiaire (vintage month), the first month of the French Revolution year, from 22nd September to 21st October.

Vendetta, the practice which existed in Corsica and Sicily on the part of individuals of exacting vengeance for the murder of a relative on the murderer or one of his relations.

Vendôme, Louise Joseph, Duc de, French general, born at Paris, great-grandson of Henry IV.; served in the wars of Louis XIV., and gained several victories; was defeated by Marlborough and Prince Eugene at Oudenarde in 1708, but by his victory at Villaviciosa contributed to the restoration of Philip V. to the Spanish throne in 1711; was a man of gross sensuality, and has been pilloried by Saint Simon for the execration of all mankind (1654-1712).

Venezuela (2,323), a federal republic in South America, founded in 1830, over three times as large as Spain, consisting of nine States and several territories; composed of mountain and valley, and in great part of llanos, within the basin of the Orinoco; between the Caribbean Sea, Colombo, Brazil, and British Guiana, and containing a population of Indian, Spanish, and Negro descent; on the llanos large herds of horses and cattle are reared; the agricultural products are sugar, coffee, cotton, tobacco, &c.; the forests yield mahogany, ebony, and dye-wood, while the mines yield iron, copper, &c., and there are extensive gold-fields, considered the richest in the world; the boundary line between the British colony and Venezuela was for long matter of keen dispute, but by the intervention of the United States at the request of the latter a treaty between the contending parties was concluded, referring the matter to a court of arbitration, which met at Paris in 1895, and settled it in 1899, in vindication, happily, of the British claim, the Schomburgk line being now declared to be the true line, and the gold-fields ours.

Vengeur, Le, a war-vessel of the French fabled to have gone down rather than surrender to the English in a battle off Ushant on 1st June 1794, the crew shouting "Vive la République," when it was really a cry for help.

Venice, a city of Italy, in a province of the same name, at the head of the Adriatic, in a shallow lagoon dotted with some eighty islets, and built on piles partly of wood and partly of stone, the streets of which are canals traversed by gondolas and crossed here and there by bridges; the city dates from the year 432, when the islands were a place of refuge from the attacks of the Huns, and took shape as an independent State with magistrates of its own about 687, to assume at length the form of a republic and become "Queen of the Adriatic Sea," the doge, or chief magistrate, ranking as one of the sovereign powers of the Western world; from its situation it became in the 10th century a great centre of trade with the East, and continued to be till the discovery of the route round the Cape, after which it began to decline, till it fell eventually under the yoke of Austria, from which it was wrested in 1866, and is now part of the modern kingdom of Italy, with much still to show of what it was in its palmy days, and indications of a measure of recovery from its down-trodden state; for an interesting and significant sketch in brief of its rise and fall see the "Shadow on the Dial" in Ruskin's "St. Mark's Rest."

Ventnor, a town and favourite watering-place on the S. shore of the Isle of Wight, with a fine beach; much resorted to in winter from its warm Southern exposure.

Venus, the Roman goddess of love, of wedded love, and of beauty (originally of the spring), and at length identified with the Greek Aphrodité (q. v.); she was regarded as the tutelary goddess of Rome, and had a temple to her honour in the Forum.

Venus, an interior planet of the solar system, revolving in an orbit outside that of Mercury and within that of the earth, nearly as large as the latter; is 67 millions of miles from the sun, round which it revolves in 224 days, while it takes 23¼ hours to rotate on its own axis; it is the brightest of the heavenly bodies, and appears in the sky now as the morning star, now as the evening star, according as it rises before the sun or sets after it, so that it is always seen either in the E. or the W.; when right between us and the sun it is seen moving as a black spot on the sun's disk, a phenomenon known as "Transit of Venus," the last instance of which occurred in 1882, and that will not occur again till after 105½ years.

Vera Cruz (24), a chief seaport of Mexico, on the Gulf of Mexico, 263 m. SE. of the capital; is regularly built and strongly fortified, but is unhealthily situated, and the yellow and other fevers prevail; trade is chiefly in the hands of foreigners; exports ores, cochineal, indigo, dye-woods, &c.

Verdi, Giuseppe, Italian composer, born at Roncole, Parma; his musical talent was slow of recognition, but the appearance of his "Lombardi" and "Ernani" in 1843-44 established his repute, which was confirmed by "Rigoletto" in 1851 and "Il Trovatore" and "La Traviata" in 1853; b. 1813.

Verdun (18), a strongly fortified town in the department of Meuse, 35 m. W. of Metz; capitulated to the Germans in 1870 after a siege of six weeks.

Verestchagin, Russian painter, is realistic to an extreme degree and anti-conventional; b. 1842.

Vergil, Polydore, historian and miscellaneous writer, born at Urbino; was a friend and correspondent of Erasmus; was sent to England by the Pope as deputy-collector of Peter's pence, and was there promoted to ecclesiastical preferments; wrote in Latin an able and painstaking history of England, bringing it down to the year 1538 (1470-1555).

Verigniaud, an eloquent orator of the French Revolution; a man of indolent temper, but by his eloquence became leader of the Girondins; presided at the trial of the king, and pronounced the decision of the court—sentence of death, presided as well "at the Last Supper of his party, with wild coruscations of eloquence, with song and mirth," and was guillotined next day, the last of the lot (1753-1793).

Verlaine, Paul, French poet, born in Metz; has written lyrics of a quite unique type (1844-1896).

Vermont (green mount) (332), an inland New England State, W. of New Hampshire and a little larger in size, includes large tracts of both pastoral and arable land; rears live-stock in great numbers, yields cereals, and produces the best maple sugar in the States, and has large quarries of granite, marble, and slate.

Verne, Jules, French story-teller, born at Nantes, inventor and author of a popular series of semi-scientific novels; b. 1828.

Vernet, Claude, French marine-painter, born at Avignon; executed more than 200 paintings, both landscape and sea pieces (1712-1789). Carlo, son of preceding, painter of battle-pieces, born at Bordeaux (1768-1833). Horace, son of latter, born in Paris, distinguished also for his battle-pieces in flattery of French Chauvinism (1789-1863).

Vernon, Di, the heroine in Sir Walter Scott's "Rob Roy," an enthusiastic royalist, distinguished for her beauty and talents.

Verona (72), an old Italian town on the Adige, in Venetia, 62 m. W. of Venice; is a fortress city and one of the famous Quadrilateral; has many interesting buildings and some Roman remains, in particular of an amphitheatre; has manufactures of silk, velvet, and woollen fabrics, and carries on a large local trade.

Veronese, Paolo, painter of the Venetian school, born at Verona, whence his name; studied under an uncle, painted his "Temptation of St. Anthony" for Mantua Cathedral, and settled in Venice in 1555, where he soon earned distinction and formed one of a trio along with Titian and Tintoretto; the subjects he treated were mostly scriptural, the most celebrated being the "Marriage Feast at Cana of Galilee," now in the Louvre (1528-1588).

Veronica, St., according to legend a woman who met Christ on His way to crucifixion and offered Him her veil to wipe the sweat off His face. See Sudarium.

Versailles (51), a handsome city of France, capital of the department of Seine-et-Oise, 11 m. by rail SW. of Paris, of which it is virtually a suburb, and was during the monarchy, from Louis XIV.'s time, the seat of the French court; has a magnificent palace, with a gallery embracing a large collection of pictures; was occupied by the Germans during the siege of Paris, and in one of its halls the Prussian king was proclaimed emperor of Germany as William I.

Vertumnus in Roman mythology the god of the seasons, wooed Pomona under a succession of disguises, and won her at last.

Vespasian, Titus Flavius Vespasianus, Roman emperor (from 70 to 79) and tenth of the 12 Cæsars, born in the Sabine territory of humble parentage; rose by his valour to high rank in the army and in favour with it, till at length he was elected by it to the throne; he had waged war successfully in Germany, Britain, and at Jerusalem, and during his reign, and nearly all through it, the temple of Janus was shut at Rome.

Vespucci, Amerigo, navigator, born at Florence; made two voyages to America in 1499 and in 1501, and from him the two continents derived their name, owing, it is said, to his first visit being misdated in an account he left, which made it appear that he had preceded Columbus (1451-1512).

Vesta, the Roman goddess of the hearth, identified with the Greek Hestia; was the guardian of domestic life and had a shrine in every household; had a temple in Rome in which a heaven-kindled fire was kept constantly burning and guarded by first four then six virgins called Vestals, whose persons were held sacred as well as their office, since any laxity in its discharge might be disastrous to the city.

Vestal Virgins. See Vesta.

Vesuvius, a flattened conical mountain, 4161 ft. in height, and an active volcano on the Bay of Naples, 10 m. SE. of the city; it was by eruption of it that the two cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii were overwhelmed in 79 A.D.; its crater is half a mile in diameter, and has a depth of 350 ft.; there are some 60 eruptions on record, the latest being in 1891.

Veturia, a Roman matron, the mother of Coriolanus.

Via Dolorosa, way leading from the Mount of Olives to Golgotha, which Christ traversed from the Agony in the Garden to the Cross.

Viaticum, name given to the Eucharist administered by a priest to a person on the point of death.

Vicar of Bray. See Bray.

Vicar of Christ, title assumed by the Pope, who claims to be the Vicegerent of Christ on earth.

Vicenza (27), a town in the NE. of Italy, in a province of the name, bordering on the Tyrol, 42 m. W. of Venice; has fine palaces designed by Palladio, a native of the place; manufactures woollen and silk fabrics, and wooden wares; was a place of some importance under the Lombards.

Vichy, a fashionable watering-place in Central France, on the Allier, at the foot of the volcanic mountains of Auvergne; has hot alkaline springs, much resorted to for their medicinal virtues.

Vicksburg (13), largest city on the Mississippi, on a bluff above the river, fortified by the Confederates in the Civil War; after a siege of over a year surrendered to General Grant, 4th July 1864, with 30,000 men.

Vico, Giovanni Battista, Italian philosopher, born at Naples, where he was for 40 years professor of rhetoric; his great work "Scienza Nuova," by which he became the father of the philosophy of history, which he resolved Calvinistically into a spiritual development of the purpose of God (1668-1744).

Victor, Claude Perrin, marshal of France, served with distinction all through the wars of Napoleon, and held command, not to his honour, under the Bourbons after his fall (1764-1841).

Victor, St., the name of two martyrs, one of Marseilles and one of Milan, distinguished for their zeal in overthrowing pagan altars.

Victor Emmanuel II., king of Sardinia, and afterwards of united Italy, born in Turin, eldest son of Charles Albert; became king in 1849 on the abdication of his father; distinguished himself in the war against Austria, adding Austrian Lombardy and Tuscany to his dominions, and by the help of Garibaldi, Naples and Sicily, till in 1861 he was proclaimed King of Italy, and in 1870 he entered Rome as his capital city (1820-1878).

Victoria (1,140), a colony of Great Britain, the smallest and most populous in Australia, lying S. of New South Wales, from which it was separated in 1851; originally settled as Port Phillip in 1834, it developed gradually as a pastoral and agricultural region till, in 1851, the discovery of gold led to an enormous increase in both the population and the revenue, and the sudden rise of a community, with Melbourne for centre, which, for wealth and enterprise, eclipsed every other in the southern hemisphere of the globe; the wealth thus introduced led to a further development of its resources, and every industry began to flourish to a proportionate extent; the chief exports are wool, gold, live-stock, bread-stuffs, hides and leather, and the imports are no less manifold; the climate is remarkably healthy, and ice and snow are hardly known; there is no State religion; 75 per cent. of the people are Protestants, 22 per cent. Catholics, and ½ per cent. Jews, and every provision is made for education in the shape of universities, State schools, technical schools and private schools, and the legislative authority is vested in a Parliament of two chambers, a Legislative Council of 48, and a Legislative Assembly of 95.

Victoria, Alexandrina, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India, born at Kensington Palace, the only child of the Duke of Kent, fourth son of George III., who died in 1820, leaving her an infant eight months old; educated under the eye of her mother with special regard to her prospective destiny as Queen; proclaimed, on the death of William IV., on 20th June 1837; crowned at Westminster 28th June 1838; married Prince Albert 10th February 1840; in 1877 added "Empress of India" to her titles; during 1861 became a widow through the death of Prince Albert. Her reign was long and prosperous; 1887 being celebrated as her "Jubilee" year, and 1897 as her "Diamond Jubilee"; was the mother of four sons and five daughters; had grandchildren and great-grandchildren, William II., Emperor of Germany, being a grandchild, and Nicholas II., Czar of Russia, being married to another; b. 1819; died at Osborne, Isle of Wight, Jan. 22, 1901.

Victoria Cross, a naval and military decoration in the shape of a Maltese cross, instituted by Queen Victoria in 1856 for conspicuous bravery in the presence of an enemy.

Victoria Nyanza, a lake in East Central Africa, on the Equator, is about the size of Ireland, 300 m. long and 20 m. broad, at an elevation of 3500 ft. above the sea-level; discovered by Captain Speke in 1858, and circumnavigated by Stanley in 1875; is regarded as the head-source of the Nile, the waters of it flowing through Albert Nyanza 80 m. to the N., between which two lakes lies the territory of Uganda.

Vidar, in the Scandinavian mythology the god of wisdom and silence, whose look penetrates the inmost thoughts of men.

Vienna (1,364), the capital of the Austrian empire, on a southern branch of the Danube, in a situation calculated to make it the central city of the Continent; it is the residence of the emperor and the seat of the government; has noble buildings, a university, and numerous large libraries, a large promenade called the Prater, and a varied industry, and ample means of both external and internal communication; in the SW. of it is Schönbrunn, the summer residence of the emperor, amid gardens of matchless beauty; it has been the scene of the signing of important treaties, and it was here the Congress met to undo the work of Napoleon in 1815.

Vienne (22), an ancient town of France, on the Rhône, 19 m. S. of Lyons; was the chief town of the Allobroges in Cæsar's time, and possesses relics of its connection with Rome; it manufactures silk and woollen fabrics, paper and iron goods, and has a trade in grain and wine.

Vigfusson, Gudbrand, Scandinavian scholar, born in Iceland, of good family; well familiar with the folk-lore of his country from boyhood, and otherwise educated at home, he entered Copenhagen University in 1850, occupying himself with the study of his native literature, and of every document he could lay his hands on, and out of which he hoped to obtain any light; in 1855 he published a work on the chronology of the sagas, and this was followed by editions of the sagas themselves; after this he came to Oxford, where he produced an Icelandic-English Dictionary and other works in the same interest, and died and was buried there (1827-1889).

Vigny, Alfred, Comte de, French poet of the Romanticist school, born at Loches; entered the army, but left after a few years for a life of literary ease; produced a small volume of exquisitely finished poems between 1821 and 1829, and only another "Poèmes Philosophiques," which were not published till after his death; wrote also romances and dramas, and translated into French "Othello" and "Merchant of Venice" (1798-1864).

Vigo (15), a seaport in Galicia, NW. of Spain, on a bay of the name; beautifully situated, and a favourite health resort.

Vikings (creekers), name given to the Scandinavian sea-rovers and pirates who from the 8th to the 10th centuries ravaged the shores chiefly of Western Europe.

Villari, Italian author, born at Naples; professor of History at Florence; has written the Lives of Savonarola and Macchiavelli; b. 1827.

Villars, Duc de, marshal of France, born at Moulins; one of the most illustrious of Louis XIV.'s generals, and distinguished in diplomacy as well as war; served in Germany under Turenne, and in the war of the Spanish Succession; suppressed the Camisards in the Cévennes, but was defeated by Marlborough at Malplaquet (1653-1734).

Villenage, in feudal times the condition of a "villein," one of the lowest class in a state of menial servitude.

Villeneuve, Silvestre, French admiral, born at Vilensoles, Basses-Alpes; entered the navy at 15, became captain at 30; commanded the rear at the battle of the Nile; was placed in command at Toulon, steered his fleet to the West Indies to draw Nelson off the shores of France, but was chased back by Nelson and blockaded in Cadiz to the defeat of Napoleon's scheme for invading England, but felt constrained to risk a battle with the English admiral, which he did to his ruin at Trafalgar (1763-1806).

Villeroi, Duc de, marshal of France; was a courtier but no soldier, being defeated in Italy by Prince Eugene and at Ramillies by Marlborough; was guardian to Louis XV. (1644-1730).

Villiers, Charles Pelham, reformer, brother of the Earl of Clarendon; bred to the bar; entered Parliament; M.P. for Wolverhampton, which he represented to the end; was an advocate from the first, and one of the sturdiest, for free trade and poor-law reform, and had a marble statue raised in his honour at Wolverhampton before his death (1802-1898).

Villon, François, French poet, born in Paris; studied at the university, but led a singular life; had again and again to flee from Paris; was once condemned to death, but set free after a four years' imprisonment into which the sentence was commuted; is the author of two poems, entitled the "Petit Testament" and the "Grand Testament," with minor pieces bearing on the swindling tricks of Villon, the name he assumed, and his companions (1431-1485).

Vincennes (24), an eastern suburb of Paris, in the famous Bois de Vincennes, which contains a large artillery park and training place for troops; it is a favourite resort for Parisians of the middle class.

Vincent, St., a Spanish martyr who in 304 was tortured to death; is represented with the instruments of his torture, a spiked gridiron for one, and a raven beside him such as drove away the beasts and birds of prey from his dead body.

Vincent de Paul, St., a Romish priest, born in Gascony, of humble parents; renowned for his charity; he founded the congregation of the Sisters of Charity, and that of the Priests of the Missions, afterwards called Lazarites, from the priory of St. Lazare, where they first established themselves, and instituted the Foundling Hospital in Paris; he was canonised by Pope Clement XII. in 1737 (1576-1660).

Vindhya Mountains, a range of hills, 500 m. in length, forming the N. scarp of the plateau of the Deccan in India, the highest peak of which does not exceed 6000 ft.

Vinegar Bible, an edition of the Bible printed at Oxford, in which the page containing the "Parable of the Vineyard" in Luke xx. was headed "Parable of the Vinegar."

Vinegar Hill, a hill (385 ft.) near Enniscorthy, co. Wexford, Ireland, where General Lake defeated the Irish rebels on June 21, 1798, to the utter annihilation then and after of almost every man of them.

Vinet, Alexandre Rodolphe, a Protestant theologian, born near Lausanne, where he studied and ultimately became professor of Practical Theology; was a zealous defender of the liberty of conscience and of the freedom of the Church from State connection and control; he was a littérateur as well as an able and eloquent divine (1797-1847).

Viotti, Giovanni Battista, celebrated violinist, born in Piedmont (1753-1824).

Virchow, Rudolf, eminent pathologist, born in Pomerania; is distinguished as a politician as well as a man of science, and is in the former regard a strenuous Liberal; his services not only in the interests of medicine but of science generally and its social applications have been very great; b. 1821.

Virgil, great Latin poet, born near Mantua, author in succession of the "Eclogues," the "Georgics," and the "Æneid"; studied at Cremona and Milan, and at 16 was sent to Rome to study rhetoric and philosophy, lost a property he had in Cremona during the civil war, but recommended himself to Pollio, the governor, who introduced him to Augustus, and he went to settle in Rome; here, in 37 B.C., he published his "Eclogues," a collection of 10 pastorals, and gained the patronage of Mæcenas, under whose favour he was able to retire to a villa at Naples, where in seven years he, in 30 B.C., produced the "Georgics," in four books, on the art of husbandry, after which he devoted himself to his great work the "Æneid," or the story of Æneas of Troy, an epic in 12 books, connecting the hero with the foundation of Rome, and especially with the Julian family, and which was finished in 19 B.C.; on his deathbed he expressed a wish that it should be burned, and left instructions to that effect in his will; he was one of the purest-minded poets perhaps that ever lived (70-19 B.C.).

Virgin Islands (45), a group of islands in the West Indies, few of them of any size, belonging partly to Denmark, Britain, and Spain.

Virgin Queen, appellation popularly given to Queen Elizabeth.

Virginia (1,655), one of the United States of America, a State somewhat larger than Scotland, between Maryland and North Carolina, so named by its founder Sir Walter Raleigh in honour of Queen Elizabeth; is divided from West Virginia by the Appalachians; it is well watered; the soil, which is fertile, yields the finest cotton and tobacco, and minerals, particularly coal and iron, are abundant; the largest city is Richmond, with flour-mills.

Virginia, West (762), formed originally one State with the preceding, but separated in 1861 to join the Federal cause; is nearly the same in size and resources; is a great mining region, and is rich in coal and iron; its largest city is Wheeling, on the Ohio.

Vishnu, the Preserver, the second god of the Hindu triad, Brahma (q. v.) being the first and Siva (q. v.) the third; revealed himself by a succession of avatars, Râma (q. v.) being the seventh and Krishna (q. v.) the eighth; he has had nine avatars, and on the tenth he will come to judgment; he is extensively worshipped, and his worshippers, the Vaishnavas, are divided into a great number of sects.

Visigoths, a branch of the Goths that settled in the South of France and in Spain.

Vistula, a central river of Europe, which rises in the Carpathians and after a course of 600 m. falls into the Baltic; it is almost navigable throughout, and carries down great quantities of timber, grain, and other produce to the Baltic ports.

Vitalis, St., a martyr of the 1st century, who was stoned to death, is represented as buried in a pit with stones on his head.

Vitellius, Aulus, Roman emperor; reigned only eight months and some days of the year 69; was notorious for his excesses, and was murdered after being dragged through the streets of Rome.

Vitruvius, Pollio, Roman architect and engineer; wrote on architecture, lived in the days of Augustus.

Vittoria (127), the capital of Alava, a Basque province in the North of Spain, famous as the scene of one of Wellington's victories in June 1813; has a fine old 12th-century cathedral and extensive manufactures; it is one of the most prosperous towns in Spain.

Vives, Ludovicus, a humanist, born at Valencia, studied in Paris; wrote against scholasticism, taught at Oxford, and was imprisoned for opposing Henry VIII.'s divorce; died at Bruges (1492-1540).

Vivian, an enchantress in Arthurian legend. See Merlin.

Vladimir (12), capital of a government in the centre of Russia, 120 m. NE. of Moscow; once practically the capital of the country, with many remains of its ancient grandeur.

Vladimir I. the Great or St., grand-duke of Russia; converted to Christianity through his wife Anna Romanovna, laid the foundation of the Russian empire; has been canonised by the Russian Church; d. 1015.

Vladimir II., surnamed Monomachus; succeeded to the throne of Russia in 1113, and consolidated it by the establishment and enforcement of just laws; was married to Gida, a daughter of King Harold of England (1063-1126).

Vogler, Abbé, composer, born in Würzburg; distinguished once both as a musical performer and teacher; lives only in Browning's "Dramatis Personæ" (1749-1814).

Vogt, Carl, German naturalist, born at Giessen; a materialist and disciple of Darwin; has written on geology and anthropology; b. 1817.

Voguls, a Finnish tribe on the E. slope of the Urals; are Christianised, but still practise many Shamanist rites; number some 20,000.

Volapük, a universal language by Schleyer, a German pastor; as yet practically limited to its applicability to commercial intercourse.

Volga, a river of European Russia, the largest in Europe, which rises in the Valdai Hills, and after a course of 2200 m. falls by a delta with 200 mouths into the Caspian Sea; it is navigable almost throughout, providing Russia with 7200 m. of water-carriage, and has extensive fisheries, especially of salmon and sturgeon.

Volney, French philosopher, born at Craon; travelled in Egypt and Syria; wrote an account of his travels in his "Voyage"; was imprisoned during the Reign of Terror; patronised and promoted to honour by Napoleon, and by the Bourbons on their return; his principal work, "Les Ruines, ou Méditations sur les Révolutions des Empires," was an embodiment of 18th-century enlightenment (q. v.) (1757-1820).

Volsungs, a race figuring in Norse and German legend of the 12th century, and with the fate in whose history it is so widely occupied, and that of its heroes.

Volta, Alessandrino, Italian physicist, born at Como; professor of Physics at Pavia; made electrical discoveries which laid the foundation of what is called after him voltaic electricity; volt, the unit of electric motive force, being a term among sundry others in electric science similarly derived (1745-1827).

Voltaic Electricity, a current of electricity generated by chemical action between metals and different liquids as arranged in a voltaic battery.

Voltaire, François Marie Arouet de, great French "persifleur" and "Coryphæus of Deism," born in Paris, son of a lawyer; trained to scoff at religion from his boyhood, and began his literary career as a satirist and in the production of lampoons which cost him twice over imprisonment in the Bastille, on his release from which he left France in 1726 and went to England, where he stayed three years, and got acquainted with the free-thinking class there; on his return to Paris he engaged in some profitable commercial speculations and published his "Charles XII.," which he had written in England, and retired to the château of Cirey, where he lived five years with Madame du Châtelet, engaged in study and diligent with his pen, with whom he left France and went to Poland, after her death paying his famous visit to Frederick the Great, with whom before three years were out he quarrelled, and from whom he was glad to escape, making his head-quarters eventually within the borders of France at Ferney, from which he now and again visited Paris, where on his last visit he was received with such raptures of adulation that he was quite overcome, and had to be conveyed home to die, giving up the ghost exactly two months after. He was a man of superlative adroitness of faculty and shiftiness, without aught that can be called great, but more than any other the incarnation of the spirit of his time; said the word which all were waiting to hear and who replied yea to it—a poor word indeed yet a potent, for it gave the death-blow to superstition, but left religion out in the cold. The general, the great offence Carlyle charges Voltaire with is, that "he intermeddled in religion without being himself in any measure religious; that he entered the Temple and continued there with a levity which, in any temple where men worship, can beseem no brother man; that, in a word, he ardently, and with long-continued effort, warred against Christianity, without understanding, beyond the mere superficies, what Christianity was" (1694-1778).

Voluntaryism, the doctrine that the Church should not depend on the State, but should be supported exclusively by the voluntary contributions of its members.

Voodoo, name given to a system of magic and superstitious rites prevalent among certain negro races.

Vortigern, a British prince of the 5th century, who, on the withdrawal of the Romans, invited the Saxons to aid him against the incursions of the Picts, to, as it proved, their own installation into sovereign power in South Britain.

Vosges, a range of mountains in the NE. of France, since 1871 forming the Franco-German frontier by the inclusion of Alsace in German territory; they separate the basin of the Moselle from that of the Rhine.

Voss, Johann Heinrich, German poet and scholar, born in Mecklenburg; spent most of his life in Heidelberg; his fame rests chiefly on his idyllic poem "Luise" and his translations, particularly of Homer (1751-1826).

Vossius, Gerard, Dutch philologist, born near Heidelberg; wrote a history of Pelagianism, which brought him disfavour with the orthodox; was made a prebendary of Canterbury through the influence of Laud; was, on some apology to orthodoxy in 1633, called to the chair of History in the Gymnasium of Amsterdam; he was a friend of Grotius; he fell from a ladder in his library, and was found dead (1577-1649).

Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and an artificer In metals, identified with the Greek Hephæstus (q. v.); had a temple to his honour in early Rome; was fabled to have had a forge under Mount Etna, where he manufactured thunderbolts for Jupiter, the Cyclops being his workmen.

Vulgate, a version of the Bible in Latin executed by St. Jerome (q. v.), and was in two centuries after its execution universally adopted in the Western Christian Church as authoritative for both faith and practice, and from the circumstance of its general reception it became known as the Vulgate (i. e. the commonly-accepted Bible of the Church), and it is the version accepted as authentic to-day by the Roman Catholic Church, under sanction of the Council of Trent. "With the publication of it," says Ruskin, "the great deed of fixing, in their ever since undisturbed harmony and majesty, the canon of Mosaic and Apostolic Scripture, was virtually accomplished, and the series of historic and didactic books which form our present Bible (including the Apocrypha) were established in and above the nascent thought of the noblest races of men living on the terrestrial globe, as a direct message to them from its Maker, containing whatever it was necessary for them to learn of His purposes towards them, and commanding, or advising, with divine authority and infallible wisdom, all that it was best for them to do and happiest to desire. Thus, partly as a scholar's exercise and partly as an old man's recreation, the severity of the Latin language was softened, like Venetian crystal, by the variable fire of Hebrew thought, and the 'Book of Books' took the abiding form of which all the future art of the Western nations was to be an hourly expanding interpretation."

Vyasa, the mythical author of the Hindu Mahâbhârata and the Puránas; was the illegitimate child of a Brahman and a girl of impure caste of the fisher class.

Suggestions for Further Reading


(1) The figures in brackets following Geographical names indicate the number of thousands of population.

(2) The figures in brackets given in Biographical references indicate the dates of birth and death where both are given.

Translate the Page