Skin creams and salves

Sunday, July 29, 2012

blessed cretins

image~ "Le Magasin pittoresque, Volume 8"
"One remarkable fact respecting cretins remains to be noticed. They are esteemed by their parents blessings ; they are even said to prefer idiotic children, conceiving them the peculiar gifts of God, and certain of future felicity, because incapable of wilful sin. These idiots are frequently married, and are always carefully tended in all their wants by their relations. It is at least fortunate for these poor objects that such a superstition prevails. They usually bask in the sun all the summer long, and are seldom employed at any occupation, however unintellectual." 1

"Whence the name Cretins?  Several writers think that this term is derived from the word Christian, and justify this strange etymology as follows:—A popular superstition, respectable at least in its effects, regarded as a blessing from God the presence of a Cretin in a family. This poor, inoffensive being, unable to gain the means of livelihood, was, in the eyes of his relatives and neighbors, a holy, sacred object, which drew down the protection of heaven upon the house. He was a christian—a being whom Jesus Christ had sent to call forth his father's and mother's charity. It is easy to understand that such an opinion must be protection for the unhappy people, sunk to the lowest degree of debasement." 2

"Here in Servos, we met for the first time with hideous goitres of immense size, especially in the women, almost all of whom seemed more or less affected with this disease. While making this remark, we were told at the same time that those most unfortunate of all beings, the Cretins, abound in the greatest numbers here at Servos, though found, but less frequently, in all the other villages of the Savoy mountains. In Servos there is hardly a family which does not contain one of these lamentable beings. But they are far from considering this as a misfortune. A kindly superstition teaches the vulgar to regard these poor creatures as consecrated beings, who presage good luck, and they are styled  "the Innocents." No one presumes to do them any harm or ridicule them. Within the cottage the best place at the fireside is the property of the Cretin ; his wants are first supplied, and as abundantly as the means will permit, and his humors, peculiarities and laziness indulged without contradiction. 3

image~ "Crétins and idiots, a short account...", 1853

1 The Gardener's magazine and register of rural & domestic improvement, Volume 9, 1833

2 Complete works of Rev. Thomas Smyth, Volume 8, 1910

3 Child's friend and youth's magazine, Volume 5, 1846

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