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CIRCULAR NOTE—CIRCUMCISION

nine judicial circuits, divided as follows: 1st circuit, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island; 2nd circuit, Connecticut, New York, Vermont; 3rd circuit, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania; 4th circuit, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia; 5th circuit, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas; 6th circuit, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee; 7th circuit, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin; 8th circuit, Arkansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming; 9th circuit, Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii. A circuit court of appeals is made up of three judges of the circuit court, the judges of the district courts of the circuit, and the judge of the Supreme Court allotted to the circuit.

In Scotland the judges of the supreme criminal court, or high court of justiciary, form also three separate circuit courts, consisting of two judges each; and the country, with the exception of the Lothians, is divided into corresponding districts, called the Northern, Western and Southern circuits. On the Northern circuit, courts are held at Inverness, Perth, Dundee and Aberdeen; on the Western, at Glasgow, Stirling and Inveraray; and on the Southern, at Dumfries, Jedburgh and Ayr.

Ireland is divided into the North-East and the North-West circuits, and those of Leinster, Connaught and Munster.


CIRCULAR NOTE, a documentary request by a bank to its foreign correspondents to pay a specified sum of money to a named person. The person in whose favour a circular note is issued is furnished with a letter (containing the signature of an official of the bank and the person named) called a letter of indication, which is usually referred to in the circular note, and must be produced on presentation of the note. Circular notes are generally issued against a payment of cash to the amount of the notes, but the notes need not necessarily be cashed, but may be returned to the banker in exchange for the amount for which they were originally issued. A forged signature on a circular note conveys no right, and as it is the duty of the payer to see that payment is made to the proper person, he cannot recover the amount of a forged note from the banker who issued the note. (See also Letter of Credit.)


CIRCULUS IN PROBANDO (Lat. for “circle in proving”), in logic, a phrase used to describe a form of argument in which the very fact which one seeks to demonstrate is used as a premise, i.e. as part of the evidence on which the conclusion is based. This argument is one form of the fallacy known as petitio principii, “begging the question.” It is most common in lengthy arguments, the complicated character of which enables the speaker to make his hearers forget the data from which he began. (See Fallacy.)


CIRCUMCISION (Lat. circum, round, and caedere, to cut), the cutting off of the foreskin. This surgical operation, which is commonly prescribed for purely medical reasons, is also an initiation or religious ceremony among Jews and Mahommedans, and is a widespread institution in many Semitic races. It remains, with Jews, a necessary preliminary to the admission of proselytes, except in some Reformed communities. The origin of the rite among the Jews is in Genesis (xvii.) placed in the age of Abraham, and at all events it must have been very ancient, for flint stones were used in the operation (Exodus iv. 25; Joshua v. 2). The narrative in Joshua implies that the custom was introduced by him, not that it had merely been in abeyance in the Wilderness. At Gilgal he “rolled away the reproach of the Egyptians” by circumcising the people. This obviously means that whereas the Egyptians practised circumcision the Jews in the land of the Pharaohs did not, and hence were regarded with contempt. It was an old theory (Herodotus ii. 36) that circumcision originated in Egypt; at all events it was practised in that country in ancient times (Ebers, Egypten und die Bücher Mosis, i. 278-284), and the same is true at the present day. But it is not generally thought probable that the Hebrews derived the rite directly from the Egyptians. As Driver puts it (Genesis, p. 190): “It is possible that, as Dillmann and Nowack suppose, the peoples of N. Africa and Asia who practised the rite adopted it from the Egyptians, but it appears in so many parts of the world that it must at any rate in these cases have originated independently.” In another biblical narrative (Exodus iv. 25) Moses is subject to the divine anger because he had not made himself “a bridegroom of blood,” that is, had not been circumcised before his marriage.

The rite of circumcision was practised by all the inhabitants of Palestine with the exception of the Philistines. It was an ancient custom among the Arabs, being presupposed in the Koran. The only important Semitic peoples who most probably did not follow the rite were the Babylonians and Assyrians (Sayce, Babyl. and Assyrians, p. 47). Modern investigations have brought to light many instances of the prevalence of circumcision in various parts of the world. These facts are collected by Andrée and Ploss, and go to prove that the rite is not only spread through the Mahommedan world (Turks, Persians, Arabs, &c.), but also is practised by the Christian Abyssinians and the Copts, as well as in central Australia and in America. In central Australia (Spencer and Gillen, pp. 212-386) circumcision with a stone knife must be undergone by every youth before he is reckoned a full member of the tribe or is permitted to enter on the married state. In other parts, too (e.g. Loango), no uncircumcised man may marry. Circumcision was known to the Aztecs (Bancroft, Native Races, vol. iii.), and is still practised by the Caribs of the Orinoco and the Tacunas of the Amazon. The method and period of the operation vary in important particulars. Among the Jews it is performed in infancy, when the male child is eight days old. The child is named at the same time, and the ceremony is elaborate. The child is carried in to the godfather (sandek, a hebraized form of the Gr. σύντεκνος, “godfather,” post-class.), who places the child on a cushion, which he holds on his knees throughout the ceremony. The operator (mohel) uses a steel knife, and pronounces various benedictions before and after the rite is performed (see S. Singer, Authorized Daily Prayer Book, pp. 304-307; an excellent account of the domestic festivities and spiritual joys associated with the ceremony among medieval and modern Jews may be read in S. Schechter’s Studies in Judaism, first series, pp. 351 seq.). Some tribes in South America and elsewhere are said to perform the rite on the eighth day, like the Jews. The Mazequas do it between the first and second months. Among the Bedouins the rite is performed on children of three years, amid dances and the selection of brides (Doughty, Arabia Deserta, i. 340); among the Somalis the age is seven (Reinisch, Somalisprache, p. 110). But for the most part the tribes who perform the rite carry it out at the age of puberty. Many facts bearing on this point are given by B. Stade in Zeitschrift für die alttest. Wissenschaft, vi. (1886) pp. 132 seq.

The significance of the rite of circumcision has been much disputed. Some see in it a tribal badge. If this be the true origin of circumcision, it must go back to the time when men went about naked. Mutilations (tattooing, removal of teeth and so forth) were tribal marks, being partly sacrifices and partly means of recognition (see Mutilation). Such initiatory rites were often frightful ordeals, in which the neophyte’s courage was severely tested (Robertson Smith, Religion of the Semites, p. 310). Some regard circumcision as a substitute for far more serious rites, including even human sacrifice. Utilitarian explanations have also been suggested. Sir R. Burton (Memoirs Anthrop. Soc. i. 318) held that it was introduced to promote fertility, and the claims of cleanliness have been put forward (following Philo’s example, see ed. Mangey, ii. 210). Most probably, however, circumcision (which in many tribes is performed on both sexes) was connected with marriage, and was a preparation for connubium. It was in Robertson Smith’s words “originally a preliminary to marriage, and so a ceremony of introduction to the full prerogative of manhood,” the transference to infancy among the Jews being a later change. On this view, the decisive Biblical reference would be the Exodus passage (iv. 25), in which Moses is represented as being in danger of his life because he had neglected the proper preliminary to marriage. In Genesis, on the other hand, circumcision is an