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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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).
the Elder, marine painter, born at Leyden; painted sea-fights;
was patronised by Charles II. and James II. (1611-1693).
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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;
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Vicar of Bray. See
Vicar of Christ, title
assumed by the Pope, who claims to be the Vicegerent of Christ
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.
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
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
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
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.
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).
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
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).
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;
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
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.
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).
a current of electricity generated by chemical action between
metals and different liquids as arranged in a voltaic battery.
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
Voluntaryism, the doctrine
that the Church should not depend on the State, but should be
supported exclusively by the voluntary contributions of its
Voodoo, name given to a system
of magic and superstitious rites prevalent among certain negro
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
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
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.