Thursday, June 30, 2016

Death of George IV

From Madame Gilflurt:
As the scandals of youth gave way to encroaching age, the once hard-partying George retired to Windsor Castle, where he indulged his love of fine foods and finer wines. Famously the now reclusive king ballooned in size, exceeding 17 stone and squeezing his corpulent bulk into corsets intended to confine a 50-inch waist. With frequent bouts of breathlessness causing near suffocation on occasion, his physicians, led by  Sir Henry Halford, toiled to ease the symptoms of gout, dropsy and any number of other problems that plagued the ailing monarch, but there could be no doubt that his time was approaching.

As Spring passed into Summer, the health of the king became a source of great concern to his physicians, who plied him with laudanum in futile efforts to control the pains he suffered in his bladder and lower extremities. The application of leeches made things no  easier for George and he began to suffer deep depressions, exacerbated by the fact that he could hardly sleep for the periods of breathlessness that afflicted him and a special chair was built which could double as a partly upright bed for the ailing monarch.

On the night of his death George retired to bed in the company of his friend, Sir Jonathan Wathen-Waller, where he slept fitfully. He woke in the early hours of 26th June 1830, breathless and in such pain that Halford was summoned immediately. As the doctor hurried to the room, George gripped Wathen-Waller's hand and told him, "my boy, this is death". At quarter past three that morning, the last King George of the glorious Georgian era passed away. (Read more.)

Will vs Trump

From Chronicles:
The news was spread far and wide last weekend that George F. Will is no longer registered as a Republican and is now politically “unaffiliated,” owing to the GOP’s acceptance (however grudging) of Donald Trump as its  presidential nominee. “Far and wide” is probably a good deal further than the columnist’s reputation, or even name recognition, extends today.

A protégé of Irving Kristol’s (Kristol, the father of William, was one of the early neoconservatives) who was hired by William Buckley as National Review’s Washington and literary editor in the 1970s, Will was for a decade or two a minor celebrity in print and on television, the face of “rational,” “polite,” and “acceptable” conservatism. In private, he considered Buckley to be not a serious person. Will is nothing if not serious, which is why he is virtually a non-person four decades later. (“The opposite of funny,” Chesterton said, “is not serious, it’s ‘not funny.’”) Buckley, whatever his faults, was never priggish, a word that abundantly describes George Will. (Read more.)

The Island Rose

From English Historical Fiction Authors:
Robert Lewis Stevenson, a Scotsman like her father, wrote a poem about her. It begins:
Forth from her land to mine she goes,
The island maid, the island rose,
Light of heart and bright of face:
The daughter of a double race.'...
 The country estate at Great Harrowden was featured in my recent posts, and is best known as the 17th Century refuge for hunted Jesuit priests and as the home to the amazing recusant heroines Anne Vaux, her sister Eleanor Brooksby, and their redoubtable sister-in-law Eliza Roper, the Dowager Lady Vaux. However, they were not the last formidable women to grace the grounds of the historically important Midland estate which is now an exclusive golf club. In the tradition of the Vaux, the last aristocratic woman to roam the halls of Harrowden was the heir apparent to a foreign throne. She arrived there already well educated and a celebrated beauty. Her family sent her to the exclusive girl’s school operated on the grounds with an eye to polishing her into the image of a proper queen. The move had been encouraged by their advisors. The new student at Harrowden's father was a skilled Scottish businessman and entrepreneur who had married into royalty. Although Scottish on her father’s side, her royal bloodline was from a very different culture. The English at Harrowden called her Vikie, after her namesake Queen Victoria. Her full name was Victoria Kawēkiu Kaʻiulani Lunalilo Kalaninuiahilapalapa Cleghorn.
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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Dancing Mania

From Smithsonian:
Six-hundred and forty two years ago today, citizens in the German city of Aachen started to pour out of their houses and into the streets where they began to writhe and whirl uncontrollably. This was the first major outbreak of dancing plague or choreomania and it would spread across Europe in the next several years.

To this day, experts aren't sure what caused the frenzy, which could drive those who danced to exhaustion. The outbreak in Germany was called St. John's dance, but it wasn't the first appearance of the mania or the last, according to The Black Death and The Dancing Mania, originally published in 1888. In the book, Justus Friedrich Karl Hecker imaginatively describes the spectacle of St. John's dance as follows:
They formed circles hand in hand, and appearing to have lost all control over their senses, continued dancing, regardless of the bystanders, for hours together, in wild delirium, until at length they fell to the ground in a state of exhaustion. They then complained of extreme oppression, and groaned as if in the agonies of death, until they were swathed in cloths bound tightly round their waists, upon which they again recovered, and remained free from complaint until the next attack.
(Read more.)

The Facebook Story You Did Not Hear

From The National Review:
Let’s start in Europe. Last week a whole cadre of social-media sites — including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Microsoft — locked arms with the EU’s European Commission and signed a code promising to suppress “hate speech” wherever it appears. The stated goal is to combat “racism, xenophobia, and all forms of intolerance.” There’s some talk of combating terrorism, forestalling ISIS recruitment in European countries, and keeping people from being incited to hate crimes. 
Combating racism and preventing ISIS recruiters from being able to contact young people sounds great. But then there’s that vague, slightly sinister phrase “all forms of intolerance.” That should make us wary, especially when we look closely at the language in the code and consider the background of “hate speech” law in the EU. The first thing you should know is that Vera Jourova, the EU commissioner in charge of writing the code, is an outspoken advocate of the LGBTI agenda. As recently as October 2015, she spoke about the need to use “hate speech” codes to combat any viewpoint that doesn’t support “rights” for those groups. This means that the EU spokesperson who included “all forms of intolerance” in the list of things social-media companies must suppress believes that you are guilty of hate speech if you have any reservations about LGBTI demands. That makes a lot of people guilty of “hate speech” — everybody who thinks that marriage is between one man and one woman, everyone who believes that surgery can’t change a person’s sex, everyone who thinks children probably shouldn’t be encouraged to determine their own “gender” as early as the age of four (as did one child whose story recently appeared in the pages of the Washington Post), and even everyone who merely thinks that people have the right to express the above beliefs. The EU’s language isn’t exactly tailored to limit ISIS’s posts on Facebook without encroaching on the free speech of others. (Read more.)

Lives in Letters

From Pied Beauty:
I first ventured into this world by way of Felix Mendelssohn's Reisebriefe. One of the first was a letter in which Mendelssohn described to his family his visit with Goethe at Goethe's home in Weimar. It is the closest we can come to actually being in Goethe's parlour with Mendelssohn playing the piano. After playing the old poet many pieces pieces by Bach (Goethe loved the music of Bach) and Mozart, Felix (it is almost impossible to read his letters without coming to be on a first name basis with him) said to his elderly friend, "Now I will play you some Beethoven," but Goethe said that he did not wish to hear any Beethoven. "I'm sorry," replied the young composer, "but I can't help it!" and then he launched into a piano reduction of Beethoven's fifth symphony. Goethe listened to the music, and then said, "That was splendid, but if all the musicians were here playing it together, wouldn't the house fall in?"

Throughout the course of Felix's letters, his recipients become as interesting as himself. His father, Abraham Mendelssohn, who did not know the strength of his own personality, and who constantly underestimated his own intellectual abilities; his mother Lea Mendelssohn, the great lover of literature and languages, whose favorite play was Der Sturm, that is Shakespeare's The Tempest, and who had been the primary teacher of Felix and his siblings; his younger, fun-loving, Greek reading sister Rebecka; his shy, cello-playing younger brother Paul; and most of all, his beloved sister Fanny, the queen of German chamber music. (Read more.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Braddock and Washington

From The Fellowship of the King:
  The British General Edward Braddock and his young colonial aide George Washington are often portrayed as symbols of the antagonism brewing between Britain and her Colonies during the French and Indian War, which would soon burst forth in the form of the American Revolution. This is partly true, but their relationship and the relationship between Britain and America were and are much more complex than has often been portrayed in grade school history texts and Hollywood motion pictures. There was also something deeply human about their interaction that is often overlooked in favor of a more easily understood narrative that chooses sides rather than seeks out the middle way.
   In February of 1755, Edward Braddock, a 62-year-old veteran of the prestigious Coldstream Guards and native of Perth, Scotland, was sent to North America to ostensibly “put the French in their place” and push them further west to make room for the expanding British colonies in the Ohio River Valley. The colonists themselves were enthusiastically behind this push for supremacy, and initially welcomed the regular troops sent from the Mother Country to aid them in the territorial struggle, known as The French and Indian War in America and The Seven Years War in Europe.

     But problems arose almost immediately, involving the proper accoutrement of these newly arrived troops and misunderstandings on both sides. The British viewed the colonists, by and large, as low-life opportunists who tried to get best edge on every deal and refused to obey orders or conform to disciplinary regulations. The colonists, on the other hand, resented the pompous and bullying attitude of the British officers, including Braddock, who refused to acknowledge that the Americans could ever stand on equal footing with them in social, political, or military spheres. (Read more.)

Trump's Fifty Points

The facts on Hillary Clinton, via NewsMax. A must-read. To quote:
Donald Trump is releasing a 35-page document that takes down Hillary Clinton's foreign policy and economic stances — a 50-point attack that pulls together news articles, documents and speeches critical of the former secretary of state.

The presumptive GOP presidential nominee tweeted out the release of "Top 50 Facts About Hillary Clinton From Trump 'Stakes of the Election' Address" on Sunday afternoon. (Read more.)