Wolfgang Borchert wrote prose-poems rather than short stories, mostly of a despairing and strongly pacifistic tendency, but then he had a bad war, being imprisoned twice by the military for extending his critical faculty on the subject of the war — something not only that many soldiers through the ages have done and shall do, but which was in any case rather prevalent amongst German soldiers. Especially the less enthusiastic on the OstFront.
Stephen Spender, who added so much to the concept of effeteness for English authors, wrote an introduction to the posthumous translations by David Porter: ‘Borchert’s soldiers are the doomed race of the Russian winter of 1941, and of Stalingrad. Nothing existed for them before they went to Russia. They are filled with the sense that if there are other soldiers, they must all feel the same, and be equally passive victims of their time. The Russians are only a background to their own misery and to the German Doom which is regarded as universal doom.’
Fair enough. Despite passivity not being quite the operative word for a front that was nearly 2000 miles in length, and a 1000 miles in the wild blue yonder.
Anyway, one of his short stories…
They crouch on the stone-cold bridge parapets and on the frost-hard metal railings along the violet-stinking canal. They crouch on the hollowed, gossip-worn area steps. Among the silver paper and autumn leaves at the side of the street, and on the sinful benches in the parks. They crouch, leaning, lolling against the doorless walls of houses, and on the nostalgic walls and moles of the docks. They crouch in a lost world, crowfaced, shrouded grey-black and croaked hoarse. They crouch and all abandonment hangs down from them like limp, loose, crumpled feathers. Abandoned by the heart, abandoned by women, abandoned by the stars. They crouch in the dusk and damp of the shadows of houses, shunning the gateways, black as tar and tired of the pavement. They crouch in the early haze of the world’s afternoon, thin-soled and coated grey with dust, belated, daydreamed into monotony. They crouch over the bottomless pit, held by the abyss, sleep-swaying with hunger and homesickness. Crowfaced ( and how else ? ) they crouch, crouch, crouch and crouch. Who? The crows ? The crows perhaps. But above all human beings, human beings. At six o’clock the sun turns the city mist and smoke red-gold. And the houses are velvet-blue and soft-edged in the tender light of early evening. But the crowfaced men crouch pallid-skinned and white-frozen in their hopelessness, in their inescapable humanity, crept deep into their patchwork jackets. Since the day before one man had been crouching on the dock, smelling himself full of harbour smell and rolling crumbled masonry into the water. His eyebrows hung on his forehead like the fringe of a sofa, despondent but with incomprehensible humour. And then a young man came along, his arms elbow-deep in his trouser-pockets, the collar of his jacket turned up round his bony neck. The older man didn’t look up, he saw beside him the comfortless mouths of a pair of shoes and up from the water there quivered at him the tossing caricature of a melancholy male figure. Then he knew that Timm was back again. Well, Timm, he said, there you are again. Through already ? Timm said nothing. He crouched on the quay wall beside the other man and put his long hands round his neck. He was cold. So her bed wasn’t wide enough, eh ? the other began softly after many minutes. Bed ! Bed ! said Timm angrily, I love the girl. Of course you love her. But tonight she showed you the door again. So the billet was no go. It’s because you’re not clean enough, Timm. A night visitor like that has to be clean. Love alone isn’t always enough. Oh well, anyway, you’re not used to a bed now. Better stay here, then. Or do you still love her, eh ? Timm rubbed his long hands on his neck and slid deep into his coat collar. She wants money, he said much later, or silk stockings. Then I could have stayed. Oh, so you do still love her, said the old man, hell, but if you’ve no money ! Timm didn’t say that he still loved her, but after a while he said rather more quietly: I gave her the scarf, the red one, you know. I hadn’t anything else. But after an hour she suddenly had no more time. The red scarf ? asked the other. Oh, he loves her, he thought to himself, how he loves her ! And once more he repeated: Aha, your beautiful red scarf ! And now you’re back here again and soon it’ll be dark. Yes, said Timm, it’ll be dark again. And my neck’s miserably cold, now that I haven’t got the scarf. Miserably cold, I can tell you. Then they both looked at the water in front of them and their legs hung sadly from the quay wall. A launch shrieked, white-steaming, past them and the waves followed, fat and chattering. Then it was still again, only the city hummed monotonously between heaven and earth, and crowfaced, shrouded blue-black, the two men crouched there in the afternoon. When after an hour a scrap of red paper tossed by on the waves, a gay, red piece of paper on the lead-grey waves, then Timm said to the other: But I had nothing else. Only the scarf. And the other answered: And it was such a wonderful red, d’you remember, eh, Timm ? Boy, was it red ! Yes, yes, Timm mumbled dejectedly, it was that. And now my neck’s damn well freezing, my friend. How’s this, thought the other, he still loves her and was with her for a whole hour. Now he won’t even be cold for her. Then, yawning, he said: And the billet’s a goner, too. Lilo’s her name, said Timm, and she likes wearing silk stockings. But I haven’t got any. Lilo ? exclaimed the other, don’t tell me that, man, she’s never called Lilo. Of course she’s called Lilo, replied Timm indignantly. D’you suppose I can’t know one called Lilo ? I even love her, I tell you. Timm slid angrily away from his friend and drew his knee up to his chin. And he held his long hands round his skinny neck. A web of early darkness laid itself on the day and the last rays of the sun stood lost on the sky like a lattice. Lonely, the men crouched over the uncertainties of the coming night and the city hummed, big and full of seduction. The city wanted money or silk stockings. And the beds wanted clean visitors at night. I say, Timm, began the other and was silent again. What is it ? asked Timm. Is she really called Lilo, eh ? Of course she’s called Lilo, Timm shouted at his friend, she’s called Lilo, and she said when I have anything, I’m to go back. I say, Timm, his friend managed after a while, if she’s really called Lilo, then you certainly had to give her the red scarf. If she’s called Lilo, in my view, then she can have the red scarf. Even if the billet’s no go. No, Timm, forget the scarf, if she’s really called Lilo. The two men looked across the misty water away to the mounting twilight, fearless, but without courage, reconciled. Reconciled to quay walls and gateways, reconciled to homeless-ness, to thin soles and empty pockets, reconciled. Inescapably idled away into indifference. Thrown high, startlingly, on the horizon, blown hither from who knows where, crows came tumbling, their song and their dark feathers filled with the presentiment of night, reeling like inkspots across the chaste tissue paper of the evening sky, tired with living, croaked hoarse, and then, unexpectedly, a little further off, swallowed by the twilight. They gazed after the crows, Timm and the other man, crow-faced, shrouded blueblack. And the water smelt full and mighty. The city, a wild towering of cubes, window-eyed, began to twinkle with a thousand lamps. They gazed after the crows, the crows, long since swallowed, gazed after them with poor, old faces, and Timm, who loved Lilo, Timm, who was twenty, said: The crows, man, they’re all right. The other man looked away from the sky straight into Timm’s wide face, floating pale-frozen in the half-dark. And Timm’s thin lips were sad lines in his wide face, lonely lines, twenty-year-old, hungry and thin from too much bitterness too soon. The crows, said Timm’s wide face softly, this face made up of twenty bright-dark years, the crows, said Timm’s face, they’re all right. They fly home at night. Just home. The two men crouched there, lost in the world, small and dejected in face of the new night, but fearlessly familiar with its frightful blackness. The city, million-eyed and sleepy, glowed through soft, warm curtains at the night streets emptied of noise, their pavements deserted. They crouched there hard by the depths, leaning over like tired rotten poles, and Timm, the twenty-year-old, had said: The crows are all right. The crows fly home at night. And the other babbled stupidly to himself: The crows, Timm, hell, Timm, the crows. There they crouched. Dumped there by life, the alluring, the lousy. Dumped on the quay and the corner. On pier and pontoon. On mole and hollowed cellar-steps. Dumped by life on the dust-grey streets between silver paper and fallen leaf. Crows ? No, human beings ! Do you hear ? Human beings! And one of them was called Timm and he’d loved Lilo for a red scarf. And now, now he can’t forget her again. The crows, the crows croak their way home. And their croaking hung comfortless on the evening. But then a launch stuttered, foam-mouthed, past them, and its scattered red light crumbled quivering in the harbour haze. And the haze was red for seconds. Red as my scarf, thought Timm. Infinitely far off, the launch chugged away. And Timm said softly: Lilo. Again and again: Lilo Lilo Lilo Lilo Lilo.
The dusk of evening has fallen over Berlin. A great yet silent crowd is rapidly moving through the chief street towards the royal palace, and every now and then a low whisper is heard, in which can be distinguished the words: "The King is very ill." In the palace itself yet greater silence reigns. The King's guardsmen stand motionless, the servants' steps are inaudible on the carpets of the corridors and the rooms. Now the tower clock strikes midnight; all at once a door opens, and through it glides a ghostly woman, tall of stature, queenly of bearing.
She is dressed in a trailing white garment, a white veil covers her head, below which her long flaxen hair hangs, twisted with strings of pearls; her face is deathly pale as that of a corpse. In her right hand she carries a bunch of keys, in her left a nosegay of Mayflowers. She walks solemnly down the long corridor. The tall guardsmen present arms, pages and lackeys give way before her, the guards who have just relieved their comrades open their ranks; the figure passes through them, and goes through a folding door into the royal ante-room.
"It is the White Lady ; the King is about to die," whispers the officer of the watch, brushing a tear from his eye.
"The White Lady has appeared," is whispered through the crowd, and all know what that portends.
At noon the King's death was known to all. "Yes," said Master Schneckenburger, "he has been gathered to his fathers. Mistress Berchta has once more announced what was going to happen, for she can foretell everything, both bad and good. She was seen before the misfortunes of 1806, and again before the battle of Belle-Alliance. She has a key with which to open the door of life and happiness. He to whom she gives a cowslip will succeed in whatever he undertakes."
Schneckenburger was right. It was Bertha, or Berchta, who made known the King's approaching death, but she was also the prophetess of other important events. Berchta ( from percht, shining ) is almost identical with Holda, except that the latter never appears as the White Lady. Many Germanic tribes worshipped the Earth-goddess under the name of Berchta, and there are numbers of legends about her both in North and South Germany.
One evening in the year was dedicated to her, and was called Perchten-evening ( 30th December or 6th January ), when she was supposed, as a diligent spinner, to oversee the labours of the spinning-room, or, magic staff in hand, to ride at the head of the Raging Host, in the midst of a terrific storm. She generally lived in hollow mountains, where she, as in Thuringia, watched over and tended the "Heimchen," or souls of babes as yet unborn, and of those who died an early death. She busied herself there by ploughing up the ground under the earth, whilst the babes watered the fields. Whenever men, careless of the good she did them, disturbed her in her mountain dwelling, she left the country with her train, and after her departure the fields lost all their former fruitfulness.
Once when Berchta and her babes were passing over a meadow across the middle of which ran a fence that divided it in two, the last little child could not climb over it; its water-jar was too heavy. A woman, who a short time before had lost her little baby, was close by, and recognised her dead darling, for whom she had wept night and day. She hastened to the child, clasped it in her arms, and would not let it go.
Then the little one said : "How warm and comfortable I feel in my mother's arms ; but weep no more for me, mother, my jar is full and is growing too heavy for me. Look, mother, dost thou not see how all thy tears run into it, and how I've spilt some on my little shirt ? Mistress Berchta, who loves me and kisses me, has told me that thou shouldst also come to her in time, and then we shall be together again in the beautiful garden under the hill."
Then the mother wept once more a flood of tears, and let the child go.
After that she never shed another tear, but found comfort in the thought that she would one day be with her child again.
So as his Majesty, abandoning all Thoughts of earthly Concerns, continued in Prayer and Meditation,and concluded with a chearful Submission to the Will and Pleasure of the Almighty, saying, He was ready to resign himself into the Hands of Christ Jesus, being with the Kingly Prophet, shut up in the hands of his enemies ; as is expressed in the 31st Psalm, and the 8th Verse.
Colonel Hacker then knock'd easily at the King's Chamber Door, Mr. Herbert being within, would not stir to ask who it was; but knocking the second time a little louder, the King bade him go to the Door. He guess'd his Business. So Mr. Herbert demanding. Wherefore he knock'd ? The Colonel said, he would speak with the King. The King said, Let him come in. The Colonel in trembling manner came near, and told his Majesty, It was time to go to White-Hall, where he might have some further time to rest. The King bad him go forth, he would come presently. Some time his Majesty was private, and afterwards taking the good Bishop by the Hand, looking upon him with a chearful Countenance, he said, Come, let us go ; and bidding Mr. Herbert, take with him the Silver Clock, that hung by the Bed side, said, Open the Door, Hacker has given us a Second Warning. Through the Garden the King, pass'd into the Park, where making a stand, he ask'd Mr. Herbert the Hour of the Day ; and taking the Clock into his Hand, gave it him, and bade him keep it in memory of him ; which Mr. Herbert keeps accordingly.
The Park had several Companies of Foot drawn up, who made a Guard on either side as the King passed, and a Guard of Halberdiers in company went some before, and other some followed ; the Drums beat, and the Noise was so great as one could hardly hear what another spoke.
Upon the King's Right-Hand went the Bishop, and Colonel Tomlinson on his left, with whom his Majesty had some Discourse by the way ; Mr. Herbert was next the King ; after him the Guards. In this manner went the King through the Park ; and coming to the Stair, the King passed along the Galleries unto his Bed-chamber, where, after a little Repose, the Bishop went to Prayer; which, being done, his Majesty bid Mr. Herbert bring him some Bread and Wine, which being- brought, the King broke the Manchet, and eat a Mouthful of it, and drank a small Glassfull of Claret-Wine, and then was sometime in private with the Bishop, expecting when Hacker would the third and last time give warning. Mean time his Majesty told Mr. Herbert which Satin Night-Cap he would use, which being provided, and the King at private Prayer, Mr. Herbert address'd himself to the Bishop, and told him, The King had ordered him to have a White Satin Night-Cap ready, but was not able to endure the sight of that Violence they upon the Scaffold would offer the King The good Bishop bid him then give him the Cap, and wait at the end of the Banquetting-House, near the Scaffold, to take care of the King's Body ; for ( said he ) that, and his Interment, will be our last Office.
Colonel Hacker came soon after to the Bed-Chamber-Door, and gave his last signal; the Bishop and Mr. Herbert, weeping, fell upon their Knees, and the King gave them his Hand to kiss, and help'd the Bishop up, for he was aged.
Colonel Hacker attending still at the Chamber-Door, the King took notice of it, and said, Open the Door, and bade Hacker go, he would follow. A Guard was made all along the Galleries and the Banqueting-House ; but behind the Soldiers abundance of Men and Women crowded in, though with some Peril to their Persons, to behold the saddest sight England ever saw. And as his Majesty pass'd by,with a chearful Look, heard them pray for him, the Soldiers not rebuking any of them; by their silence and dejected Faces seeming afflicted rather than insulting. There was a Passage broken through the Wall by which the King pass'd unto the Scaffold ; where, after his Majesty had spoken a little, the fatal Stroke was given by a disguised Person.
Mr. Herbert, during this, was at the Door lamenting; and the Bishop coming thence with the Royal Corps, which was immediately coffin'd, and covered with a black Velvet-Pall ; he and Mr. Herbert went with it to the Back-Stairs to be embalmed. Mean time they went into the Long-Gallery, where chancing to meet the General, he ask'd Mr. Herbert, how the King did ? Which he thought strange ( it seems thereby that the General knew not what had passed, being all that Morning ( as indeed at other times ) using his Power and Interest to have the Execution deferred for some days, forbearing his coming among the Officers, and fully resolv'd, with his own Regiment, to prevent the Execution, or have it deferr'd till he could make a Party in the Army to second his Design ; but being with the Officers of the Army then at Prayer, or Discourse in Colonel Harrison's Apartment ( being a Room at the hither end of that Gallery looking towards the Privy-Garden ) His Question being answer'd, the General seem'd much surpriz'd ; and walking further in the Gallery, they were met by another great Commander, Cromwell, who knew what had so lately passed ; for he told them, They should have Orders for the King's Burial speedily.
The Royal Corps being embalmed and coffined, and those wrapt in Lead, and covered with a new Velvet-Pall, was removed to the King's House at St James's, where was great pressing by all sorts of People to see the King, or where he was ; A doleful Spectacle ! but few had leave to enter and behold it.
Sir Thomas Herbert : Memoirs of the Two Last Years of the Reign of KING CHARLES I — 1839 4th edition.
Ernest Crofts --- Charles the First on His Way to Execution
Don Juan: ...And I, my friend am as much a part of Nature as my own finger is a part of me. If my finger is the organ by which I grasp the sword and the mandoline, my brain is the organ by which Nature strives to understand itself. My dog's brain serves only my dog's purposes; but my own brain labors at a knowledge which does nothing for me personally but make my body bitter to me and my decay and death a calamity. Were I not possessed with a purpose beyond my own I had better be a ploughman than a philosopher; for the ploughman lives as long as the philosopher, eats more, sleeps better, and rejoices in the wife of his bosom with less misgiving. This is because the philosopher is in the grip of the Life Force. This Life Force says to him "I have done a thousand wonderful things unconsciously by merely willing to live and following the line of least resistance: now I want to know myself and my destination, and choose my path; so I have made a special brain - a philosopher's brain - to grasp this knowledge for me as the husbandman's hand grasps the plough for me. And this" says the Life Force to the philosopher "must thou strive to do for me until thou diest, when I will make another brain and another philosopher to carry on the work."
The Devil: What is the use of knowing ?
Don Juan: Why, to be able to choose the line of greatest advantage instead of yielding in the direction of the least resistance. Does a ship sail to its destination no better than a log drifts nowhither ? The philosopher is Nature's pilot. And there you have our difference: to be in hell is to drift: to be in heaven is to steer.
We confidently use words like might, truth, justice. They are words signifying something great. But what that 'something' is we cannot conceive. We say that God 'fears', that God is 'angry', that God 'loves'.
Immortalia mortali sermone notantes ~ Denoting immortal things in mortal speech [Lucretius ]
But they are disturbances and emotions which in any form known to us find no place in God. Nor can we imagine them in forms known to him. God alone can know himself; God alone can interpret his works. And he uses improper, human, words to do so, stooping down to the earth where we lie sprawling.
Take Prudence; that consists in a choice between good and evil; how can that apply to God ? No evil can touch him. Or take Reason and Intelligence, by which we seek to attain clarity amidst obscurity; there is nothing obscure to God. Or Justice, which distributes to each his due and which was begotten for the good of society and communities of men; how can that exist in God ? And what about Temperance ? It moderates bodily pleasures which have no place in the Godhead. Nor is Fortitude in the face of pain, toil or danger one of God's qualities: those three things are unknown to him. That explains why Aristotle held that God is equally as free from virtue as from vice. 'Neque gratia neque ira teneri potest, quod quae talia essent, imbecilla essent omnia' ~ 'He can experience neither gratitude nor anger; such things are found only in the weak'.
Michel de Montaigne : An Apology for Raymond Sebond
You say I love not, 'cause I doe not play Still with your curles, and kisse the time away. You blame me too, because I cann't devise Some sport, to please those Babies in your eyes: By Loves Religion, I must here confesse it, The most I love, when I the least expresse it. Small griefs find tongues: Full Casques are ever found To give ( if any, yet ) but little sound. Deep waters noyse-lesse are; And this we know, That chiding streams betray small depth below. So when Love speechlesse is, she doth expresse A depth in love, and that depth, bottomlesse. Now since my love is tongue-lesse, know me such, Who speak but little, 'cause I love so much.
Robert Herrick : To his Mistresse objecting to him neither Toying or Talking
Truth of intercourse is something more difficult than to refrain from open lies. It is possible to avoid falsehood and yet not tell the truth. It is not enough to answer formal questions. To reach the truth by yea and nay communications implies a questioner with a share of inspiration such as is often found in mutual love. Yea and nay mean nothing; the meaning must have been related in the question. Many words are often necessary to convey a very simple statement; for in this sort of exercise we never hit the gold; the most that we can hope is by many arrows, more or less far off on different sides, to indicate, in the course of time, for what target we are aiming, and after an hour's talk, back and forward, to convey the purport of a single principle or a single thought. And yet while the curt, pithy speaker misses the point entirely, a wordy, prolegomenous babbler will often add three new offences in the process of excusing one. It is really a most delicate affair. The world was made before the English language, and seemingly upon a different design. Suppose we held our converse, not in words, but in music; those who have a bad ear would find themselves cut off from all near commerce, and no better than foreigners in this big world. But we do not consider how many have "a bad ear" for words, nor how often the most eloquent find nothing to reply. I hate questioners and questions; there are so few that can be spoken to without a lie. "Do you forgive me ?" Madam and sweetheart, so far as I have gone in life I have never yet been able to discover what forgiveness means. "Is it still the same between us ?" Why, how can it be ? It is eternally different; and yet you are still the friend of my heart. "Do you understand me ?" God knows; I should think it highly improbable.
Robert Louis Stevenson : Truth of Intercourse
Sir Joseph Noel Paton --- Study for The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania
That Night, after which Sentence was pronounc'd in Westminster-Hall, Colonel Hacker ( who then commanded the Guards about the King ) would have plac'd two Musqueteers in the King's Bed-Chamber, which his Majesty being acquainted with, he made no Reply, only gave a Sigh ; howbeit the good Bishop and Mr. Herbert, apprehending the Horrour of it, and Disturbance it would give the King in his Meditations and Preparation for his Departure out of this uncomfortable World ; also representing the Barbarousness of such an Act, they never left the Colonel till he reversed his Order by withdrawing these Men.
After the Bishop was gone to his Lodging, the King continu'd reading and praying more than two Hours after. The King commanded Mr. Herbert to lie by his Bed-side upon a Pallat, where he took small rest, that being the last Night his Gracious Sovereign and Master enjoy'd ; but nevertheless the King for Four Hours or thereabouts, slept soundly,and awaking about Two Hours afore day, he open'd his Curtain to call Mr. Herbert; there being a great Cake of Wax set in a Silver Bason, that then as at all other times burned all Night; so that he perceiv'd him somewhat disturb'd in sleep; but calling him, bad him rise ; For, ( said his Majesty ) I will get up having a great Work to do this Day ; however he would know why he was so troubled in his sleep ? He reply'd May it please your Majesty I was dreaming. I would know your Dream, said the King; which being told his Majesty said, It was remarkable. Herbert, this is my Second Marriage-Day ; I would be as trim to day as may be ; for before Night I hope to be espoused to my blessed Jesus. He then appointed what Cloaths he would wear; Let me have a Shirt on more than ordinary, said the King, by reason the season is so sharp as probably may make me shake, which some Observers will imagine proceeds from fear. I would have no such Imputation. I fear not Death ! Death is not terrible to me. I bless my God I am prepar'd.
These, or Words to this effect, his Majesty spoke to Mr. Herbert, as he was making ready. Soon after came Dr. Juxon Bishop of London precisely at the time his Majesty the Night before had appointed him. Mr. Herbert then falling upon his Knees, humbly beg'd his Majesty's Pardon, if he had at any time been negligent in his Duty, whilst he had the Honour to serve him. The King thereupon gave him his Hand to kiss, having the day before been graciously pleased, under his Royal Hand, to give him a Certificate, expressing, That the said Mr. Herbert, was not impos'd upon him, but by his Majesty made choice of to attend him in his Bed-Chamber, and had serv'd him with Faithfulness and Loyal Affection. At the same time his Majesty also deliver'd him his Bible, in the Margin whereof he had with his own hand writ many Annotations and Quotations, and charged him to give it the Prince so soon as he returned ; repeating what he had enjoyned the Princess Elizabeth, his Daughter, That he would be dutiful and indulgent to the Queen his Mother ( to whom his Majesty writ two days before by Mr. Seymour ) affectionate to his Brothers and Sisters, who also were to be observant and dutiful to him their Sovereign; and for as much as from his Heart he had forgiven his Enemies, and in perfect Charity with all Men would leave the World, he had advised the Prince his Son to exceed in Mercy, not in rigour; and, as to Episcopacy, it was still his Opinion, That it is of Apostolique Institution, and in this Kingdom exercised from the Primitive Times, and therein, as in all other his Affairs pray'd God to vouchsafe him, both in reference to Church and State, a pious and a discerning Spirit; and that it was his last and earnest Request, that he would frequently read the Bible, which in all the time of his Affliction had been his best lnstructor and Delight; and to meditate upon what he read ; as also such other Books as might improve his Knowledge. He likewise commanded Mr. Herbert to give his Son,the Duke of York, his large Ring Sun-Dial of Silver, a Jewel his Majesty much valu'd; it was invented and made by Mr. Delamaine, an able Mathematician, who projected it, and in a little printed Book shew'd its excellent Use, in resolving many Questions in Arithmetick, and other rare Operations to be wrought by it in the Mathematicks. To the Princess Elizabeth Doctor Andrews's Sermons ( he was Prelate of the most noble Order of the Garter, as he was Bishop of Winchester ), Archbishop Laud against Fisher the Jesuit, which Book ( the King said ) would ground her against Popery, and Mr. Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity. To the Duke of Gloucester, King James's Works, and Dr. Hammond's Practical Catechism, Cassandra to the Earl of Lindsey, the Lord High Chamberlain. And his Gold Watch to the Dutchess of Richmond. All which, as opportunity serv'd, Mr. Herbert deliver'd.
His Majesty then bade him withdraw ; for he was about an hour in private with the Bishop ; and being call'd in, the Bishop went to Prayer ; and reading also the 27th Chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew, which relateth the Passion of our Blessed Saviour. The King, after the Service was done, ask'd the Bishop, If he had made choice of that Chapter, being so applicable to his present Condition ? The Bishop reply'd, May it please your Gracious Majesty, it is the proper Lesson for the Day, as appears by the Kalender; which the King was much affected with, so aptly serving as a seasonable Preparation for his Death that Day.
Sir Thomas Herbert : Memoirs of the Two Last Years of the Reign of KING CHARLES I --- 1839 4th edition.
The topiary tree formed as a profusion of carved nephrite, finely veined leaves and jeweled fruit and flowers on an intricate framework of branches, the fruit formed by champagne diamonds, amethysts, pale rubies and citrines, the flowers enameled white and set with diamonds, a keyhole and a tiny lever, hidden among the leaves, when activated open the hinged circular top of the tree and a feathered songbird rises, flaps its wings, turns its head, opens its beak and sings, the gold trunk chased to imitate bark and planted in gold soil is contained in a white quartz tub applied with a gold trellis chased with flowerheads at the intersections and further applied with swags of berried laurel enameled translucent green and pinned by cabochon rubies, the central rubies edged by diamonds, each foot of the tub also applied with chased gold rosettes set with cabochon rubies and diamonds, the corners of the tub with pearl finials, the square carved nephrite base in two steps with a miniature nephrite fluted column at each corner set with chased gold mounts, each column with a reeded gold cap surmounted by a pearl nestled in translucent green enamel leaves, the swinging gold chains between the columns formed as pearl flowers with translucent green enamel leaves.
Occasionally, as still more with Erté, part of the slickness causes wariness, yet as Fabergé's skill astounds, the sheer swaggering inutility redeems any doubts. However in the end, like power and lands, art eventually temporarily ends up, via passing revolutionaries into the hands of base millionaires before they too die, unwept and unsung --- and wholly unremembered. Even uglier is the next fate of possessions --- passions --- of individual monarchs and people transmuted into a disgusting 'National' heritage for all, dead in state museums and owned by no-one.
Danton: Will the clock not be still ? With every tick it slides the walls closer round me, till they're as narrow as a coffin. I once read a story like that as a child. It made my hair stand on end. Yes, as a child. What a waste of time fattening me up and keeping me warm! Mere work for the grave-diggers. I feel as if I were rotten already. My dear carcass, I'll hold my nose and make believe you're a girl all smelly and sweating after a dance and pay you compliments. We used to have better times together. Tomorrow you'll be a broken fiddle, with no tune left in you. Or an empty bottle --- the wine's drunk but I'm not; I have to go sober to bed. Lucky people who can still get drunk ! Tomorrow you'll be a worn-out pair of pants --- you'll be thrown in the wardrobe and the moths will eat you whether you're stinking or not. --- Ah, it's no good. Dying is a wretched business. It apes birth. Dying, we're as naked and helpless as new-born infants. We're given a shroud as a napkin. But it's no help. We can grizzle in the grave as well as in the cradle. Camille ! He's asleep. [ Bending over him ] There's a dream playing between his eyelashes. I'll not brush the golden dew of sleep from his eyes. [ Stands up and walks to the window. ] I shan't go alone. Thank you for that, Julie. Yet I'd have liked to die differently, effortlessly, like a falling star, like a note fading away, kissing itself to death with its own lips, like a ray of light burying itself in clear water. The stars are sprayed across the night like shimmering tears; there must be great grief in the eye that shed them.
So often are you as a blazing torch, With flakes of burning hemp falling about you; Flaming, you know not if the flames freedom bring or death; Consuming all that you most cherish; If only ashes will be left and want, Chaos and tempest shall engulf … Or will the ashes hold the glory of a starlike diamond, The morning star of everlasting triumph.
The President then gave Judgment against the King, who at the President’s pronouncing it, was observ’d to smile, and lift up his Eyes to Heaven ; as appealing to the Divine Majesty, the most supreme Judge.
The King, at the rising of the Court, was with a Guard of Halberdiers returned to White-Hall in a close Chair, through King-Street, both sides whereof had a Guard of Foot-Soldiers, who were silent as his Majesty pass’d. But Shop-Stalls and Windows were full of People, many of which shed Tears, and some of them with audible Voices pray’d for the King, who through the Privy-Garden was carried to his Bed-Chamber ; whence, after Two Hours space, he was removed to St. James’s. Nothing of the Fear of Death, or Indignities offered, seem’d a Terror, or provok’d him to Impatience, nor utter’d he a reproachful Word reflecting upon any of his Judges ( albeit he well knew that some of them had been his Domestic Servants ) or against any Member of the House, or Officer of the Army ; so wonderful was his Patience, though his Spirit was great, and might otherwise have expressed his Resentments upon several occasions. It was a true Christian-Fortitude to have the Mastery of his Passion, and Submission to the Will of God under such Temptations. The King now bidding farewel to the World, his whole business was a serious Preparation for Death, which opens the Door unto Eternity; in order thereunto, he laid aside all other Thoughts, and spent the remainder of his time in Prayer and other pious Exercises of Devotion, and in conference with that meek and learned Bishop Dr. Juxon, who under God, was a great Support to him in his afflicted condition.
Mr. Herbert about this time going to the Cockpit near White-Hall, where the Earl of Pembroke’s Lodgings were, he then, as at sundry other times, enquired how his Majesty did, and gave his humble Duty to him, and withal, ask’d him, If his Majesty had the Gold Watch he sent for, and how he liked it. Mr. Herbert assured his Lordship, the King had not yet received it. The Earl fell presently into a Passion, marvelling thereat; being the more troubled, lest his Majesty should think him careless, in observing his Commands ; and told Mr. Herbert, at the King’s coming to St. James’s, as he was sitting under the great Elm-Tree, near Sir Benjamin Ruddier’s Lodge in the Park, seeing a considerable Military-Officer of the Army pass towards St. James’s, he went to meet him, and demanding of him, If he knew his Cousin Tom Herbert, that waited on the King ? The Officer said, He did, and was going to St. James’s. The Earl then delivered to him the Gold Watch that had the Alarm, desiring him to give it Mr. Herbert, to present it to the King. The Officer promised the Earl he would immediately do it. My Lord ( said Mr. Herbert ) I have sundry times seen and pass’d by that Officer since, and do assure your Lordship he hath not deliver’d it me according to your Order and his Promise, nor said any thing to me concerning it, nor has the King it I am certain. The Earl was very angry; and gave the Officer his due Character, and threatened to question him. But such was the severity of the Times, that it was then judged dangerous to reflect upon such a Person, being a Favourite of the time, so as no notice was taken of it. Nevertheless, Mr. Herbert ( at the Earl’s desire ) acquainted his Majesty therewith, who gave the Earl his Thanks,and said, Ah ! Had he not told the Officer it was for me, it would probably have been delivered ; he well knew how short a time I could enjoy it. This Relation is in prosecution of what it formerly mention’d, concerning the Clock or Alarm-Watch his Majesty intended to dispose of, as is declared.
That Evening, Mr. Seamour ( a Gentleman then attending the Prince of Wales in his Bed-Chamber ) by Colonel Hacker’s permission, came to his Majesty’s Bed-Chamber Door, desiring to speak with the King from the Prince of Wales; being admitted, he presented his Majesty with a Letter from his Highness the Prince of Wales, bearing date from the Hague the 23d day of January –48. ( Old Stile ). Mr. Seamour, at his Entrance, fell into a Passion, having formerly seen his Majesty in a glorious State, and now in a dolorous; and having kiss’d the King’s Hand, clasp’d about his Legs, lamentably mourning. Hacker came in with the Gentlemen and was abash’d.
Sir Thomas Herbert : Memoirs of the Two Last Years of the Reign of KINGCHARLES I — 1839 4th edition.
"The Wombat is a Joy, a Triumph, a Delight, a Madness !" --- Dante Gabriel Rossetti
and a short piece on world sleeping patterns, with the usual implications that the West has it all wrong compared with other cultures mentions something from Indonesia: “These are the Balinese, and this is an example of something called ‘fear sleep’ or ‘todoet poeles.’ See these two guys?” She pointed to the first picture, where two men cowered on the sand in the center of the group. “They just got caught stealing from the village kitty, and they’ve been hauled out for trial.” The villagers all had angry faces and open mouths. The two men looked terrified.
“You can see the progression. He’s starting to sag”—in the next photo one of the thieves had his eyes closed and had begun to lean over—“and here in the last photo you can see he’s totally asleep.” The same thief was now slumped and insentient, snoozing happily amid the furious village thrum. “Isn’t that amazing?” Worthman shook her head. “In stressful situations they can fall instantly into a deep sleep. It’s a cultural acquisition.”
The ability to fall into a profound slumber upon the approach of severe danger has to be the most breathtakingly moronic superpower ever unneeded.
Anyway, these from Discover were linked to the interesting article I was reading on the genetic basis of the aesthetics of personal beauty. Dr. Langlois began her investigations in Louisiana State University --- now from the University of Texas --- and studies how and when concepts of beauty as a value, and thus attraction, start; coming to the conclusions that it is genetically hard-wired into our being. Which is much like Race: everyone can just see it exists by looking at different people, but progressives having determined to convince themselves it is a social construct for their own social reasons, the demonstration of the bloody obvious has to be established scientifically. Not that Herr Dr. James D. Watson will be forgiven very soon...
Certainly I had not heard of psychobiology before, but then most scientific disciplines remain welcomely terra incognita... however this gave me pause, 'To help solve the mystery, Langlois's doctoral student Lisa Kalakanis has presented babies who are just 15 minutes old with paired images of attractive and homely faces.'; for some reason, prolly genetically hard-wired into scientists' psyches, the determination to cross the line into sheer pointless intrusion remains paramount. New-born infants have enough on their plates without needing to identify photos shoved dementedly before them even if, as I doubt, their eyes are entirely focussed, and that they --- any more than the average person --- can deliver informed judgements. Still, could have been worse: had they been rat babies, the scientists, in mafia-mode, would have been under the obligation to kill them after experimentation.
As psychologist Nancy Etcoff, author of the 1999 book Survival of the Prettiest, puts it: "The idea that beauty is unimportant or a cultural construct is the real beauty myth. We have to understand beauty, or we will always be enslaved by it."
Uh, most of us are in no way obsessed with personal beauty, and can take it as it is merely as one attribute. But then it wouldn't matter in the least if we were enslaved by it. Damned egalitarians... Life is unfair by it's very nature.
Not merely because that year was a turning point, making a far truer start to the 20th century than 1901: the publication of 'Three Men in a Boat' in 1888 signalled a sea-change in literature: writing became more accessible --- unlike, say, Scott --- and humour became actual --- unlike, say, Dickens.
However, this is from Jerome K. Jerome's autobiography, which I found in a bookshop in Canterbury maybe five years back: it seems intensely rare... He began as a Cromwellian, and ended up as a socialist, but was generally agreeable. In this passage there is a really perfect joke; but it's only gonna be accessible to those teutonophiles who are at least vaguely acquainted with America's less than optimal entry into the Great War.
I cannot help fancying that London was a cosier place to dwell in, when I was a young man. For one thing, it was less crowded. Life was not one everlasting scrimmage. There was time for self-respect, for courtesy. For another thing, one got out of it quicker. On summer afternoons, four-horse brakes would set out for Barnet, Esher Woods, Chingford and Hampton Court. One takes now the motor 'bus, and goes further; but it is through endless miles of brick and mortar. And at the end, one is but in another crowd. Forty years ago, one passed by fields and leafy ways, and came to pleasant tea gardens, with bowling greens, and birds, and lovers' lanes.
Of a night time, threepenny 'buses took us to Cremorne Gardens, where bands played, and we, danced and supped under a thousand twinkling lights. Or one walked there through the village of Chelsea, past the old wooden bridge. Battersea Park was in the making, and farm lands came down to the water's edge. The ladies may not all have been as good as they were beautiful; but somehow the open sky and the flowing river took the sordidness away. Under the trees and down the flower-bordered paths, it was possible to imagine the shadow of Romance. The Argyll Rooms, Evans' and others were more commonplace. But even so, they were more human --- less brutal than our present orgy of the streets. Fashion sipped its tea, and stayed to dinner, at the lordly "Star & Garter," and drove home in phaeton or high dog-cart across Richmond Park and Putney Heath. The river was a crowded highway. One went by steamer to "The Ship" at Greenwich, for its famous fish dinner, with Mouton Rothschild at eight and six the bottle. Or further on, to "The Falcon" at Gravesend, where the long dining-room looked out upon the river, and one watched the ships passing silently upon the evening tide. On Sundays, for half a crown, one travelled to Southend and back. Unlimited tea was served on board, with shrimps and watercress, for ninepence. We lads had not spent much money on our lunch, but the fat stewardess would only laugh as she brought us another pile of thick-cut bread and butter. I was on the "Princess Alice" on her last completed voyage. She went down the following Sunday, and nearly every soul on board was drowned. So, also, I was on the last complete voyage the "Lusitania" made from New York. They would not let us land at Liverpool, but made us anchor at the mouth of the Mersey, and took us off in tugs. We were loaded up to the water line with ammunition. "Agricultural Machinery," I think it was labelled. Penny gaffs were common. They were the Repertory Theatre of the period. One sat on benches and ate whelks and fried potatoes and drank beer. "Sweeney Todd, the Barber of Fleet Street," was always a great draw, though "Maria Martin, or The Murder in the Red Barn," ran it close. "Hamlet," cut down to three-quarters of an hour, and consisting chiefly of broad-sword combats, was also popular. Prize fights took place on Hackney marshes, generally on Sunday morning; and foot-pads lurked on Hampstead Heath. Theatre patrons had no cause to complain of scanty measure. The programme lasted generally from six till twelve. It began with a farce, included a drama and an opera, and ended up with a burlesque. After nine o'clock, half prices were charged for admission. At most of the bridges one paid toll. Waterloo was the cheapest. Foot passengers there were charged only a halfpenny. It came to be known as the Scotchman's bridge. The traditional Scotchman, on a visit to a friend in London, was supposed to have been taken everywhere and treated. Coming to Waterloo Bridge, his host put his hand in his pocket, as usual, to draw out the required penny. The Scotchman with a fine gesture stepped in front of him. "My turn," said the Scotchman. Before the Aerated Bread Company came along, there were only three places in London, so far as I can remember, where a cup of tea could be obtained : one in St. Paul's Churchyard, another in the Strand called the Bun Shop, and the third in Regent Street at the end of the Quadrant. It was the same in New York when I first went there. I offered to make Charles Frohman's fortune for him. My idea was that he should put down five thousand dollars, and that we should start tea shops, beginning in Fifth Avenue.
Jerome K. Jerome : My Life and Times
Joseph Mallord William Turner - Nocturne : Moonlight
What truly sets Liechtenstein apart as a country is that it has not succumbed to the foolish democracy fad which has ruined all other modern nations. Liechtenstein is still ruled by a monarch, as it has been since the the Middle Ages (not coincidentally the last decent period in human history). The current head of state is Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein, a rather dashing fellow, and over dinner at Vaduz Castle he describes to me the wealth and happiness that flows to Liechtenstein's people as a result of its monarchical system
I may add that Princess Sophie of Bavaria, Hereditary Princess of Liechtenstein --- daughter-in-law to Hans-Adam II and wife of Prince Alois, the Regent of Liechtenstein --- is, after her father Prince Max, heir to the Stuart regalities when the Stuart-Wittelsbach conjunction ceases.
And from the second, a more recent post discusses some absurd fellow who seeks the equally absurd position of president to the USA: never heard of him, but a Mr. Hucklebee. This unsavoury little chap wishes to ban smoking throughout the American dominions --- admittedly one may say 'fat chance' sceptically, but Yanks do adore ploughing their economy into pointless wars, and an extension of the War on Terror into a Second Front against domestic smoking will certainly appeal to the moral retard majority... --- and there's a nasty story regarding his son --- who recently was fined for having a loaded gun whilst travelling through an airport [ don't try this whilst devoutly reading the Qur'an and mumbling ] --- hanging a dog at Scout Camp. Something he later claimed was done since the animal was sick and suffering: must account for the rows of gallows adjacent to every retirement home... His benighted father is alleged to have attempted to interfere with the administration of justice. His Chief of Staff admitted asking the Director of State Police who was afterwards fired by Governor Hucklebee: "Is it normal for the state police to … investigate something that happened at a Boy Scout camp ?"
Kinda... police in most jurisdictions, even perhaps Pakistan, are going to get active over any allegations of torture unconnected to their own activities. It's what makes us civilised.
Feldmarschall Graf Josef Radetzky von Radetz died at the age of 91 upon the 5th January 1858, having served his lord well for 91 years, and leaving Strauss the elder's tribute march to perpetuate his memory.
“I know it all: my secret ache will anger you in its confession. What scorn I see in the expression that your proud glance is sure to take ! What do I want ? what am I after, stripping my soul before your eyes ! I know to what malicious laughter my declaration may give rise !
“I noticed once, at our chance meeting, in you a tender pulse was beating, yet dared not trust what I could see. I gave no rein to sweet affection: what held me was my predilection, my tedious taste for feeling free. And then, to part us in full measure, Lensky, that tragic victim, died… From all sweet things that gave me pleasure, since then my heart was wrenched aside; freedom and peace, in substitution for happiness, I sought, and ranged unloved, and friendless, and estranged. What folly ! and what retribution !
“No, every minute of my days, to see you, faithfully to follow, watch for your smile, and catch your gaze with eyes of love, with greed to swallow your words, and in my soul to explore your matchlessness, to seek to capture its image, then to swoon before your feet, to pale and waste… what rapture !
“But I’m denied this: all for you I drag my footsteps hither, yonder; I count each hour the whole day through; and yet in vain ennui I squander the days that doom has measured out. And how they weigh ! I know about my span, that fortune’s jurisdiction has fixed; but for my heart to beat I must wake up with the conviction that somehow that same day we’ll meet…
“I dread your stern regard surmising in my petition an approach, a calculation past despising — I hear the wrath of your reproach. How fearful, in and out of season to pine away from passion’s thirst, to burn — and then by force of reason to stem the bloodstream’s wild outburst; how fearful, too, is my obsession to clasp your knees, and at your feet to sob out prayer, complaint, confession, and every plea that lips can treat; meanwhile with a dissembler’s duty to cool my glances and my tongue, to talk as if with heart unwrung, and look serenely on your beauty !…
“But so it is: I’m in no state to battle further with my passion; I’m yours, in a predestined fashion, and I surrender to my fate.”
Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin : Eugene Onegin [ trans: Charles H. Johnston ]