void ab initio, so that the remedy was attended with considerable risk. The Distress for Rent Act 1737, before alluded to, in the interests of landlords, protected distresses for rent from the consequences of irregularity. In all cases of distress for rent, if the owner do not within five days (by the Law of Distress Amendment Act 1888, fifteen days, if the tenant make a request in writing to the person levying the distress and also give security for any additional cost that may be occasioned by such extension of time) replevy the same with sufficient security, the thing distrained may be sold towards satisfaction of the rent and charges, and the surplus, if any, must be returned to the owner. To “replevy” is when the person distrained upon applies to the proper authority (the registrar of the county court) to have the thing returned to his own possession, on giving security to try the right of taking it in an action of replevin.
Duties and penalties imposed by act of parliament (e.g. payment of rates and taxes) are sometimes enforced by distress.
DISTRIBUTION (Lat, distribuere, to deal out), a term used in various connexions with the general meaning of spreading out. In law, the word is used for the division of the personal estate of an intestate among the next-of-kin (see Intestacy). The important scientific question as to the distribution of plants and animals on the earth is treated under Plants: Distribution, and Zoological Distribution. In economics the word is used generally for the transference of commodities from person to person or from place to place, or the dividing up of large quantities of commodities into smaller quantities; and in a more technical sense, for the division of the product of industry amongst the various members or classes of the community. The theory of economic distribution, i.e. the causes which determine rent, wages, profits and interest, forms an important subject-matter in all text-books. Among recent works, see E. Cannan’s History of Theories of Production and Distribution, 1776-1848 (1893), J. R. Common’s Distribution of Wealth (1893), and H. J. Davenport’s Value and Distribution (Chicago, 1908).
DISTRICT, a word denoting in its more general sense, a tract or extent of a country, town, &c., marked off for administrative or other purposes, or having some special and distinguishing characteristics. The medieval Latin districtus (from distringere, to distrain) is defined by Du Cange as Territorium feudi, seu tractus, in quo Dominus vassallos et tenentes suos distringere potest; and as justitiae exercendae in eo tractu facultas. It was also used of the territory over which the feudal lord exercised his jurisdiction generally. It may be noted that distringere had a wider significance than “to distrain” in the English legal sense (see Distress). It is defined by Du Cange as compellere ad aliquid faciendum per mulctam, poenam, vel capto pignore. In English usage, apart from its general application in such forms as postal district, registration district and the like, “district” has specific usages for ecclesiastical and local government purposes. It is thus applied to a division of a parish under the Church Building Acts, originally called a “perpetual curacy,” and the church serving such a division is properly a “district chapel.” Under the Local Government Act of 1894 counties are divided for the purposes of the act into urban and rural districts. In British India the word is used to represent the zillah, an administrative subdivision of a province or presidency. In the United States of America the word has many administrative, judicial and other applications. In South Carolina it was used instead of “county” for the chief division of the state other than in the coast region. In the Virginias, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky and Maryland it answers to “township” or precinct, elsewhere the principal subdivision of a county. It is used for an electoral “division,” each state being divided into Congressional and senatorial districts; and also for a political subdivision ranking between an unorganized and an organized Territory—e.g., the District of Columbia and Alaska.
DISTYLE (from Gr. δι, two, and στῦλος, column), the architectural term given to a portico which has two columns between antae, known as distyle-in-antis (see Temple).
DITHMARSCHEN, or Ditmarsh (in the oldest form of the name Thiatmaresgaho, Dietmar’s Gau), a territory between the Eider, the Elbe and the North Sea, forming the western part of the old duchy of Holstein, and now included in the Prussian province of Schleswig-Holstein. It contains about 550 sq. m. with 90,000 inhabitants. The territory consists to the extent of one half of good pasture land, which is preserved from inroads of the sea by banks and dams, the other half being mostly waste. It was originally colonized mainly from Friesland and Saxony. The district was subjugated and Christianized by Charlemagne in 804, and ranked as a separate Gau, included perhaps in the countship of Stade, or Comitalus utriusque ripae. From the same century, according to one opinion, or from the year 1182, when the countship was incorporated with their see, according to another, the archbishops of Bremen claimed supremacy over the land; but the inhabitants, who had developed and consolidated a systematic organism for self-government, made obstinate resistance, and rather attached themselves to the bishop of Schleswig. Ditmarsken, to use the Scandinavian form of the name, continued part of the Danish dominions till the disastrous battle of Bornhöved in 1227, when its former independence was regained. The claims of the archbishop of Bremen were now so far recognized that he exercised the royal rights of Heerbann and Blutbann, enjoyed the consequent emoluments, and was represented first by a single advocatus, or Vogt, and afterwards by one for each of the five Döffts, or marks, into which the land was divided after the establishment of Meldorf. The community was governed by a Landrath of forty-eight elective consuls, or twelve from each of the four marks; and even in the 14th century the power of the episcopal advocati was so slight that a chronicler quoted by Conrad von Maurer says, De Ditmarschen leven sunder Heren und Hovedt unde dohn wadt se willen, “the Ditmarschen live without lord and head, and do what they will.” In 1319 and in 1404 they succeeded in defeating the invasions of the Holstein nobles; and though in 1474 the land was nominally incorporated with the duchy by the emperor Frederick III., the attempt of the Danish king Hans and the duke of Gottorp to enforce the decree in 1500 resulted only in their complete rout in the marshes of the Dussend-Düwels-Warf. During the early part of the century which began with such prestige for Ditmarsh, it was the scene of violent internal conflict in regard to the religious questions of the time; and, thus weakened, it was obliged in 1559 to submit to partition among its three conquerors—King Frederick II. of Denmark and Dukes John and Adolphus. A new division took place on Duke John’s death in 1581, by which Frederick obtained South Ditmarsh, with its chief town of Meldorf, and Adolphus obtained North Ditmarsh, with its chief town of Heide; and this arrangement continued till 1773, when all the Gottorp possessions were incorporated with the Danish crown.
See Dahlmann’s edition of Neocorus, Chronik von Dithmarschen (Kiel, 1827), and Geschichte Dänemarks (1840-1844); Michelsen, Urkundenbuch zur Geschichte des Landes Dithmarschen (1834), Sammlung altdithmarscher Rechtsquellen (1842), and Dithmarschen im Verhältniss zum bremischen Erzstift; Kolster, Geschichte Dithmarschens, nach F. R. Dahlmanns Vorlesungen (1873).
DITHYRAMBIC POETRY, the description of poetry in which the character of the dithyramb is preserved. It remains quite uncertain what the derivation or even the primitive meaning of the Greek word διθύραμβος is, although many conjectures have been attempted. It was, however, connected from earliest times with the choral worship of Dionysus. A dithyramb is defined by Grote as a round choric dance and song in honour of the wine-god. The earliest dithyrambic poetry was probably improvised by priests of Bacchus at solemn feasts, and expressed, in disordered numbers, the excitement and frenzy felt by the worshippers. This element of unrestrained and intoxicated vehemence is prominent in all poetry of this class. The dithyramb was traditionally first practised in Naxos; it spread to other islands, to Boeotia and finally to Athens. Arion is said to have introduced it at Corinth, and to have allied it to the worship of Pan. It was thus “merged,” as Professor G. G. Murray says, “into the Satyr-choir of wild mountain-goats” out of which sprang the earliest form of tragedy. But when tragic drama had so far developed as to be quite independent, the dithyramb did not, on
- That is, the right of claiming military service, and the right of bringing capital offenders to justice.