Canada Slim and the Invention of the Clear Day

Landschlacht, Switzerland, Monday 6 July 2020

Let there be no doubt:

My souvenir book loves Porto.

 

From the top left corner clockwise: Clérigos Church and Tower; Avenida dos Aliados; Casa da Música concert hall; Ribeira district; Avenida da Boavista business hub; Luiz I bridge and Porto from Vila Nova de Gaia

Above from the top left corner clockwise: Clérigos Church and Tower; Avenida dos Aliados; Casa da Música concert hall; Ribeira district; Avenida da Boavista business hub; Luiz I bridge and Porto from Vila Nova de Gaia

 

The facades of the colourful houses line the streets, displaying their elegance in full sight of the sweet and beloved River Douro.

 

Historical part of Porto, seen from Vila Nova de Gaia, trough the Douro river

 

It is the tale of a platonic love with no end in sight and so each house adopts its own adornment with clothes on the balcony or flowerpots in the windows, impressing those who pass.

 

 

These facades, accompanied by their beloved River, the narrow lanes bearing the marks of time, the majestic Clérigos Tower and the rabelo boats are part of this unique place, captured by the lenses of tourists.

 

Torre de los Clérigos, Oporto, Portugal, 2012-05-09, DD 01.JPG

 

I know of what I speak, for I have often witnessed admiring glances being exchanged and heard flattering phrases in many languages of the world.

I myself feel special to be part of this space, belonging to mankind.

I know also that one day it will be my turn to leave and by then my duty will be done, for I will take with me a piece of this city, made of mists and smiles.

Ever since I was brought here, every single morning I am placed outside, within view of visitors.

 

 

During the night I rest in a dark shop surrounded by objects that show the city photographed, illustrated, magnetized, embroidered, carved and even spiritualized.

Whilst I repose, I think how much I will miss the authentic warmth of the population, who welcome people with smiles of gold and gruff voices.

Even so, I am prepared to be removed quite soon from the postcard display and be sent, with a message, to a distant place, where I will continue to display the facades of my colourful and aligned houses, eternally in love with a golden river.”

(Susana Fonseca)

 

 

It is true.

It is hard to hate Porto.

Yes, it is a large city, but it is also a beguiling one, with a lengthy history and a constant Catholicism, but where Coimbra is Saint Augustine, Braga the Virgin Mary and Lisbon Mary Magdelene, Porto is Martha.

 

 

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus visits the home of two sisters named Mary and Martha.

The two sisters are contrasted:

Martha was “encumbered about many things” while Jesus was their guest, while Mary had chosen “the better part“, that of listening to the master’s discourse.

 

Harold Copping Jesus at the home of Martha and Mary 400.jpg

Above: Jesus at the house of Mary and Martha, Harold Copping, 1927

 

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.

She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.

But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.

She came to Him and asked,

“Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?

Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.

Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.

 

Above: Christ with Martha and Maria, by Henryk Siemiradzki, 1886

 

Perhaps it is my manual labour background, but I find myself more sympathetic towards Martha than I do towards Mary, and, by extension in this city-to-Biblical-personality analogy, more sympathetic towards Porto than Lisbon.

For me, this wee Biblical passage sums up Porto’s attitude towards the rest of Portugal.

 

Flag of Portugal

Above: Flag of Portugal

 

Porto may never feel it is properly rewarded for all the hard work it provides, because Porto is more than just another prettified tourist destination, it is a busy commercial city whose fascination lies in its riverside setting and day-to-day life.

 

 

Porto is cramped streets and ancient alleys and antiquated shops.

During our week’s sojourn in this northern Portuguese metropolis, my wife and I did all the touristy things that tourists are advised to do.

 

 

And of Porto I have described much already in this blog:

  • Canada Slim and the War of the Oranges (6 August 2018)
  • Canada Slim and the Station Sanctuary (19 January 2019)
  • Canada Slim and the Voices without Echo (3 June 2019)
  • Canada Slim and the Harry Potter Fado (11 October 2019)

 

 

As well, there is much more to be said about Porto in the months and years to come.

 

(My wife and I have already spent time on the Algarve and in Lisboa, but as these visits occurred prior to the commencement of this blog I have not described my two previous visits to Portugal – a land I love with a passion fierce.)

 

Coat of arms of Portugal

Above: Coat of arms of Portugal

 

In my last Porto post I described the sites within the city that Harry Potter fans flock to and some to where we followed the flock of Potterheads.

 

The Harry Potter logo first used for the American edition of the novel series (and some other editions worldwide), and then the film series.

 

I mention this Potter post, for the sole reason that the bookshop (Livraria Lello) that Ms. Rowling once haunted and wherein her books are perpetually offered for sale, therein I discovered a Portuguese poet’s work.

 

 

And as French author Jacques Salomé so wisely wrote:

Un livre à toujours deux auteurs: celui dui l’écrit et celui qui le lit.

(A book always has two authors: he who writes it and he who reads it.)

 

Jacques Salome.jpg

Above: Jacques Salomé

 

Fernando Pessoa (1888 – 1935) was a Portuguese poet and writer born in Lisbon, but whom I did not discover until this trip to Porto.

Pessoa is considered one of the greatest poets to have ever written in the Portuguese language and a giant of world literature.

 

Portrait of Pessoa, 1914

Above: Fernando Pessoa, 1914

 

At the age of six, Pessoa moved to Durban, South Africa where for nine years he learned to read and write English perfectly.

Of the four books he published in his lifetime, three were written in English.

 

Durban skyline.jpg

Above: Modern Durban, South Africa

 

On leaving South Africa Pessoa returned to Lisbon, wherein he spent much of the rest of his life.

 

Clockwise from top left: Avenida da Liberdade and Eduardo VII Park, view of Praça do Comércio with Alfama in the backyard ground, Lisbon Cathedral, view from São Jorge Castle, Belém Tower and Parque das Nações with Vasco da Gama Bridge

Above: Images of Lisbon

 

During his life, Pessoa worked in various places as an English and French language correspondent.

He also worked as a businessman, editor, literary critic, journalist, political commentator, translator, inventor, astrologer and advertiser while producing his works in verse and prose.

 

 

And yet, despite this, during his life, Pessoa was virtually unknown, avoiding society and the literary world.

As a poet, Pessoa was known for his multiple pseudonyms, what came to be known as “heteronyms“, which were and still are today the subject of many of the studies produced on his life and work.

 

 

On 29 November 1935, Pessoa was taken to Lisbon’s Hospital de Sao Luis, suffering from abdominal pain and a high fever.

There he wrote, in English, his last words:

I know not what tomorrow will bring.

 

 

He died the next day, 30 November 1935, around 8 pm, aged 47.

 

Above: Pessoa’s tomb in Lisbon, at the cloister of the Hieronymites Monastery since 1985.

 

In his lifetime, he published four books in English and one in Portuguese.

However, he left a lifetime of unpublished, unfinished or simply sketchy work in a domed, wooden truck (25,574 manuscript and typed pages, which have been housed in the Portuguese National Library since 1988).

 

 

To get a grasp on this unusual man, one diary entry stands out:

8 March 1914

I found myself standing before a tall chest of drawers, took up a piece of paper, began to write, remaining upright all the while since I always stand when I can.

I wrote some 30 poems in a row, all in a kind of ecstasy, the nature of which I shall never fathom.

It was the triumphant day of my life and I shall never have another like it.

I began with a title, “The Keeper of Sheep”, and what followed was the appearance of someone within me to whom I promptly assigned the name of Alberto Caeiro.

Please excuse the absurdity of what I am about to say, but there had appeared within me, then and there, my own master.

It was my immediate sensation.

So much so that, with those 30 odd poems written, I immediately took up another sheet of paper and wrote as well, in a row, the six poems that make up “Oblique Rain” by Fernando Pessoa.

Immediately and totally….

It was the return from Fernando Pessoa / Alberto Caeiro to Fernando Pessoa alone.

Or better still, it was Fernando Pessoa’s reaction to his own inexistence as Alberto Caeiro.”

 

 

In a sense this duality – (or in Pessoa’s case, multiplicity) – is something I can identify with.

Sometimes I write as purely and simply myself.

Within these blogposts I am both Canada Slim and myself, for the censor and critic that is the latter persona, the pseudonym persona liberates from myself the self-expression I need.

 

 

Just six hours from the moment I began this post (4 July 2020) I posted this on Facebook:

 

Facebook Logo (2019).svg

In preparation to write my much-interrupted, long-intervalled “Chronicles of Canada Slim”, I found again, like the passion one possesses for someone who is loved, some collected works purchased the last time I was in Portugal.
A Portuguese poet, Fernando Pessoa, speaks to me in sonnets that sing and poems that praise and persuade a person of the majesty of existence.
He writes:
“I have in me all the dreams of the world.”
Mensagem - Livro - WOOK
And to dream seems to be lacking within the soul of too many in Deutschschweiz and Deutschland.
Sad is he who dwells in pleasure,
Content with his abode,
Without a dream, as it ruffles a feather,
Fanning the glow of the embers
In the fire as it doth erode.
Sad is he who lives contented!
He lives because life doth endure.
Nothing in his soul ever suggested,
More than the basic truth imparted,
That of only one’s grave can one be sure.
And this it seems to be the be-all and end-all of those I have known in the lands where German (or variations thereof) is spoken.
Make one’s fortune, secure one’s comfort, do the practical and know one’s limits.
But I say with Pessoa, that I am misjudged and misunderstood in these lands (where I followed my passion for a woman far wiser in the ways of her language-linked companions than I could ever be)….
Because I am the size of what I see and not the size of my height“.
MENSAGEM - Fernando Pessoa, Organização, introdução e notas de ...
I am as I see, not as I am seen.
It saddens me that we judge one another by standards that mean so little: the size of a bank account, the coziness of one’s castle, the reputation that precedes and follows a fellow far beyond his reach, the illusion of beauty, the prejudices of one’s age.
We see only the green of our sofas not the blue of jazz in the ether.
We hear only chaos from without and fear the calm from within, for the former we comprehend, the latter is a land too quiet and thus disquieting.
The wisdom and power of words are the worlds I see and they fill a universe that defines me far beyond how I am seen.
Such is how Pessoa inspires me.
This maverick, this undefinable, undeniable spirit wrapped up in a carapace of conformity has been described by Mexican poet Octavio Paz (1914 – 1998) as a “solemn investigator of futile things“, the epitome of an empty man who, in his helplessness, creates a world in order to discover his true identity.
Paz in 1988
Above: Octavio Paz
In a sense I see myself as a funhouse mirror of Pessoa, not so much an echo of his disquiet about life and the world we occupy, but rather I see the world as an echo of myself.
The world I see in the places I describe is less a reality of what is, but rather is more a reflection of who I am.
The Funhouse Mirror: An Apt Metaphor for the Misrepresentation of ...
A regular follower of my writing responded almost immediately to the aforementioned Facebook post:
If I may be allowed to offer an uninvited opinion as a sincere reader, writing teacher, professional editor and translator, your secret mentor, and increasingly your appreciative, possibly infatuated fan girl.
You have really found your voice and your writing has become effortless, more honest and less contrived and therefore so much more relatable.
There are fewer experimental verbal arabesques and palpably more consolidated content and purified emotion.
To be or not to be giving a standing ovation? - Badarivishal ...
High praise indeed, from a woman for whom I have nothing but a universe’s worth of respect.
But praise I am uncertain of whether I am worthy to be given.
One Dozen Rose Wrapped Bouquet | kremp.com
There is still so much I have to learn.
There is still so much I have yet to say without the expertise and experience so critical for expression.
How I long to be able to capture the beating of a heart, the symphony of a soul that Pessoa so eloquently elucidates!
Oh, to write as Anthony Trollope, whom Henry James describes as:
He felt all daily and immediate things as well as saw them.
He felt them in a simple, direct salubrious way, with their sadness, their gladness, their charm, their comedy, all their obvious and measureable meanings.
Picture of Anthony Trollope.jpg
Above: Anthony Trollope (1815 – 1882)
I am reminded of another writing hero of mine, Hermann Hesse (1877 – 1962) and the manner in which he describes himself and how he is described:
He does not want to follow the path trodden by many, but to resolutely plow his own furrow. 
He is not made for the collective life.
Hermann Hesse 2.jpg
I have been, and still am, a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books. 
I have begun to listen to the teachings my blood whispers to me. 
My story is not a pleasant one. 
It is neither sweet nor harmonious as invented stories are. 
It has the taste of nonsense and chaos, of madness and dreams, like the lives of all men who stop deceiving themselves.
What torments Hesse is the difficulty of being authentic – of staying true to who you really are, despite the enormous pressures of alienation and conformity.
If I search retrospectively for a common thread of meaning, then I can indeed find one.
A defense of (sometimes even a desperate plea on behalf of) human personality, the individual.
Hesse was forced to confront the entire weight of the institutions ranged against him – family, church, school, society – and to do battle with them in the name of defending his individuality.
The only way I can conceive of writing is an act of confession.
Signature of Hermann Karl Hesse
When I describe a place I am not describing what it is, but rather how I see it.
I am not describing a place, as much as I am describing how that place makes me feel.
Of who I am rather than where I am.
I am, in some ways, very Portuguese, at least when I try to write.
I am reserved.
I leave gesticulating exuberance to others.
I am mild-mannered, gentle and homely, and yet my vision seeks to encompass the world.
I seem placid and harmless and it takes much to provoke me, but much lies beneath the surface, where there is a temperament one would expect from a land of mist and bogs.
I am not one for golden descriptions of sandy beaches, but instead I possess like my Portuguese brethren an eternal saudade, a feeling of longing for what could have been, a nostalgia for what has gone, when I sit at my keyboard and try to inadequately capture a sense of what a place really is (or at least my reality through which I see it).
Above: Saudade (1899), by Almeida Júnior
Oh, to write as one born Portuguese!
To write in a manner akin to how a Portuguese farmer farms, with a knack of conjuring a harvest even from the most barren of ground.
And so I stare at my screen seeking seeds of expression from the blank face of an unsympathetic computer.
Sometimes I think I will never leave Schulstrasse here in Landschlacht, that my mind like my body remains a prisoner of the choices I have made.
Once written down, words captured for eternity, are forever frozen in paralytic prose.
Above: Landschlacht, Switzerland, as seen on a clear day from the German shore of Lake Constance
When I consider much that is travel writing….
When I consider how Pessoa viewed life….
When I consider how I have on occasion viewed life….
Above: Saudades de Nápoles (Missing Naples), 1895, by Bertha Worms
I think about “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty“.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (1939) is a short story by James Thurber.

The most famous of Thurber’s stories, it first appeared in The New Yorker on 18 March 1939, and was first collected in his book My World and Welcome to It (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1942).

It has since been reprinted in James Thurber: Writings and Drawings (The Library of America, 1996, ISBN 1-883011-22-1), is available on-line on the New Yorker website and is one of the most anthologized short stories in American literature.

The story is considered one of Thurber’s “acknowledged masterpieces“.

 

 

 

James Thurber in 1954

Above: James Thurber (1894 – 1961)

 

 

 

 

It was made into a 1947 movie of the same name, with Danny Kaye in the title role, though the movie is very different from the original story.

 

 

 

SecretLifeofwalter.jpg

 

 

 

It was also adapted into a 2013 film, which is again very different from the original.

 

 

 

A side profile of a man running with a silver briefcase in hand. Behind him a cityscape.

 

 

 

The name Walter Mitty and the derivative word “Mittyesque“have entered the English language, denoting an ineffectual person who spends more time in heroic daydreams than paying attention to the real world, or more seriously, one who intentionally attempts to mislead or convince others that he is something that he is not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The short story deals with a vague and mild-mannered man who drives into Waterbury, Connecticut, with his wife for their regular weekly shopping and his wife’s visit to the beauty parlor.

During this time he has five heroic daydream episodes.

 

 

 

 

Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (1947) by Norman Z. McLeod |Danny Kaye ...

 

 

 

 

The first is as a pilot of a US Navy flying boat in a storm, then he is a magnificent surgeon performing a one-of-a-kind surgery, then as a deadly assassin testifying in a courtroom, and then as a Royal Air Force pilot volunteering for a daring, secret suicide mission to bomb an ammunition dump.

As the story ends, Mitty imagines himself facing a firing squad, “inscrutable to the last.”

Each of the fantasies is inspired by some detail of Mitty’s mundane surroundings.

 

 

 

 

Ben Stiller – OUT OF ONE'S COMFORT ZONE

 

 

 

 

In a way, it is like inventing a clear day from a dark reality, a hero out of an ordinary human, a Paradise out of Purgatory.

 

 

 

 

Above: Expulsion from Paradise, painting by James Tissot (1902)

 

 

From Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet:

“The journey in my head

In the plausible intimacy of approaching evening, as I stand waiting for the stars to begin at the window of this 4th floor room that looks out on the infinite, my dreams move to the rhythm required by long journeys to countries as yet unknown, or to countries that are simply hypothetical or impossible.

 

 

Above: Pessoa’s birthplace: a large flat at São Carlos Square, just in front of Lisbon’s opera

 

 

Today, during one of those periods of daydreaming which, though devoid of either purpose or dignity, still constitute the greater part of the spiritual substance of my life, I imagined myself free forever of Rua dos Douradores, of my boss Vasques, of Moreira the bookkeeper, of all the other employees, the errand boy, the post boy, even the cat.

 

 

Above: Pessoa’s last home, from 1920 till his death, in 1935, currently the Fernando Pessoa Museum

 

 

In dreams, that freedom felt to me as if the South Seas had proferred up a gift of marvellous islands as yet undiscovered.

Freedom would mean rest, artistic achievement, the intellectual fulfillment of my being.

 

 

Hostel South Sea Island, Nadi, Fiji - Booking.com

 

But suddenly, even as I imagined this (during the brief holiday afforded by my lunch break), a feeling of displeasure erupted into the dream:

I would be sad.

Yes, I say it quite seriously:

I would be sad.

For my boss Vasques, Moreira the bookkeeper, Borges the cashier, all the lads, the cheery boy who takes the letters to the post office, the errand boy, the friendly cat….

They have all become part of my life.

I could never leave all that behind without weeping, without realizing, however displeasing the thought, that part of me would remain with them and that losing them would be akin to death.

 

 

The Office US logo.svg

 

 

Moreover, if I left them all tomorrow and discarded this Rua dos Douradores suit of clothes I wear, what else would I do?

Because I would have to do something.

And what suit would I wear?

Because I would have to wear another suit.

 

 

Rua dos Douradores | The Flâneur's Archives

 

 

We all have a Senhor Vasques.

Sometimes he is a tangible human being, sometimes not.

In my case he really is called Vasques and he is a pleasant, healthy chap, a bit brusque at times but he is no doubledealer.

He is selfish but basically fair, much fairer than many of the great geniuses and many of the human marvels of civilization on both left and right.

For many people Vasques takes the form of vanity, a desire for greater wealth, for glory or immortality….

Personally I prefer to have Vasques as my real life boss since, in times of difficulty, he is easier to deal with than any abstraction the world has to offer….

 

 

Above: Actor Steve Carell, Emmy Awards 2010, for his role as boss Michael Scott, in US series The Office

 

 

And I return to an other’s house, to the spacious office in the Rua dos Douradores, the way some return to their homes.

I approach my desk as if it were a bulwark against life.

I feel such an overwhelming sense of tenderness that my eyes fill with tears for my books that are in reality the books of other people whose accounts I keep, for the inkwell I use, for Sergio’s stooped shoulders as, not far from me, he sits writing out bills of lading.

I feel love for all of this, perhaps because I have nothing else to love or perhaps too, because even though nothing truly merits the love of any soul, if, out of sentiment, we must give it, I might just as well lavish it on the smallness of an inkwell as on the grand indifference of the stars….

 

 

viagem nunca feita.: Rua Dos Douradores - Lisboa.

 

 

With the soul’s equivalent of a wry smile, I calmly confront the prospect that my life will consist of nothing more than being shut up for ever in Rua dos Douradores, in this office, surrounded by these people.

I have enough money tp buy food and drink, I have somewhere to live and enough free time in which to dream, write – and sleep – what more can I ask of the gods or hope for from Fate?

 

 

O escritório amplo da Rua dos Douradores- Oui Go Lisbon - http ...

 

 

I had great ambitions and extravagant dreams, but so did the errand boy and the seamstress, for everyone has dreams.

The only thing that distinguishes me from them is that I can write.

Yes, that is an activity, a real fact about myseof that distinguishes me from them.

But in my soul I am just the same.

 

 

Rua dos Douradores, o centro do Desassossego | World Literary Atlas

 

 

I know that there are islands in the South and grand cosmopolitan passions and….

I am sure that even if I held the world in my hand, I would exchange it all for a tram ticket back to Rua dos Douradores.

 

 

Início | lisboa-apretoeacores

 

 

Perhaps it is my destiny to remain a bookkeeper forever and for poetry and literature to remain simply butterflies that alight on my head and merely underline my own ridiculousness by their very beauty.

 

 

The Crimson Permanent Assurance - Home | Facebook

Above: Crimson Assurance, Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life

 

 

Porto, Portugal, Wednesday 25 July 2018

The morning has begun, poorly.

Somehow, in all our running around the day previously, our one city-specific, Porto-focused guidebook, specially ordered for this trip, the book has vanished.

We stumble across a bookshop (Leya) that sells English language materials and we fortuitously find a copy of the lost travel guide.

The Swabian soul of my wife, as thrifty as a Scot, is displeased with this development and thus the tone of the day is set, with much of the morning lost.

 

 

Piccole librerie, porti da salvare | l'Adige.it

 

 

After a visit to the (Cathedral) we discover that though not quite all roads lead to the city centre’s Avenida dos Aliados, ours do.

 

 

 

 

At the foot of the Avenida – in the area known as Praca da Liberdade – are a couple of sidewalk cafés and an equestrian statue of Dom Pedro IV.

 

 

Photograph of a bronze statue with a man on horseback wearing a bicorn hat and military dress and who holds forth a scrolled sheaf of paper

 

 

Dom Pedro I (1798 – 1834), nicknamed “the Liberator“, was the founder and first ruler of the Empire of Brazil.

As King Dom Pedro IV, he reigned briefly over Portugal, where he also became known as “the Liberator” as well as “the Soldier King“.

 

 

Half-length painted portrait of a brown-haired man with mustache and beard, wearing a uniform with gold epaulettes and the Order of the Golden Fleece on a red ribbon around his neck and a striped sash of office across his chest

 

 

Born in Lisbon, Pedro I was the fourth child of King Dom João VI of Portugal and Queen Carlota Joaquina, and thus a member of the House of Braganza.

When the country was invaded by French troops in 1807, he and his family fled to Portugal’s largest and wealthiest colony, Brazil.

The outbreak of the Liberal Revolution of 1820 in Lisbon compelled Pedro I’s father to return to Portugal in April 1821, leaving him to rule Brazil as regent.

He had to deal with threats from revolutionaries and insubordination by Portuguese troops, all of which he subdued.

The Portuguese government’s threat to revoke the political autonomy that Brazil had enjoyed since 1808 was met with widespread discontent in Brazil.

 

 

Painted head and shoulders portrait showing a young man with curly hair and mustachios who is wearing a formal black coat, high collar and cravat with a city scene in the distant background

 

 

Pedro I chose the Brazilian side and declared Brazil’s independence from Portugal on 7 September 1822.

On 12 October, he was acclaimed Brazilian Emperor and by March 1824 had defeated all armies loyal to Portugal.

 

 

Half-length pencil or silverpoint sketch showing a young man with curly hair and long sideburns facing left who is wearing an elaborate embroidered military tunic with heavy gold epaulets, sash and medals

 

 

A few months later, Pedro I crushed the short-lived Confederation of the Equator, a failed secession attempt by provincial rebels in Brazil’s northeast.

A secessionist rebellion in the southern province of Cisplatina in early 1825, and the subsequent attempt by the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata to annex it, led the Empire into the Cisplatine War.

 

 

Painted half-length portrait showing a young man with curly hair and mustachios who is wearing an elaborate embroidered military tunic with gold epaulets and medals

 

 

In March 1826, Pedro I briefly became king of Portugal before abdicating in favor of his eldest daughter, Dona Maria II (1819 – 1853).

 

 

D. Maria II Rainha.jpg

 

 

The situation worsened in 1828 when the war in the south resulted in Brazil’s loss of Cisplatina.

During the same year in Lisbon, Maria II’s throne was usurped by Prince Dom Miguel (1802 – 1866), Pedro I’s younger brother.

 

 

Infante D. Miguel de Bragança (1827), by Johann Nepomuk Ender (1793-1854).png

 

 

The Emperor’s concurrent and scandalous sexual affair with a female courtier tarnished his reputation.

Other difficulties arose in the Brazilian parliament, where a struggle over whether the government would be chosen by the monarch or by the legislature dominated political debates from 1826 to 1831.

Unable to deal with problems in both Brazil and Portugal simultaneously, on 7 April 1831 Pedro I abdicated in favor of his son Dom Pedro II, and sailed for Europe.

Pedro I invaded Portugal at the head of an army in July 1832.

Faced at first with what seemed a national civil war, he soon became involved in a wider conflict that enveloped the Iberian Peninsula in a struggle between proponents of liberalism and those seeking a return to absolutism.

Pedro I died of tuberculosis on 24 September 1834, just a few months after he and the liberals had emerged victorious.

 

 

A lithograph depicting a curtained bed on which lies a bearded man with closed eyes and a crucifix lying on his chest

 

 

He was hailed by both contemporaries and posterity as a key figure who helped spread the liberal ideals that allowed Brazil and Portugal to move from absolutist regimes to representative forms of government.

 

 

Photograph of a white stone steps leading up to a large, altar-like monument in white marble with bronze sculptural decorations that include bronze braziers at the corners, a bronze frieze in high relief at the base and bronze figures surrounding a chariot on a high, white marble plinth in the center

Above. Monument to the Independence of Brazil where Pedro I and his two wives are buried

 

I am told, by the sheer fact that a statue stands here to honour him, that we should regard Pedro as a hero, but I find myself wondering….

 

How much blood was spilled to realize his goals?

 

At the head of the Avenida dos Aliados stands another statue of another man we are meant to honour and this one is of less difficulty.

 

 

 

João Baptista da Silva Leitão de Almeida Garrett, 1st Viscount of Almeida Garrett (1799 – 1854) was a Portuguese poet, orator, playwright, novelist, journalist, politician and a peer of the realm.

A major promoter of theatre in Portugal he is considered the greatest figure of Portuguese Romanticism and a true revolutionary and humanist.

He proposed the construction of the Dona Maria II National Theatre and the creation of the Conservatory of Dramatic Art.

 

 

A lithograph of Garrett, by Pedro Augusto Guglielmi

 

 

Garrett was born in Porto, the son of António Bernardo da Silva Garrett (1739–1834), a fidalgo of the Royal Household and Knight of the Order of Christ, and his wife (they were married in 1796) Ana Augusta de Almeida Leitão (b. 1770), the daughter of an Irish father born in exile in France and an Italian mother born in Spain.

At an early age, Garrett changed his name to João Baptista da Silva Leitão, adding a name from his godfather and altering the order of his surnames.

In 1809, his family fled the second French invasion carried out by Soult’s troops, seeking refuge in Angra do Heroísmo, Terceira Island, Azores.

 

Vista sobre Angra do Heroismo (cropped).jpg

 

 

While in the Azores, Garrett was taught by his uncle, Dom Frei Alexandre da Sagrada Família (1737 – 1818), the Bishop of Angra.

 

 

Retrato de D. Frei Alexandre da Sagrada Família (escola portuguesa, séc. XVIII).png

 

 

In childhood, his mulatto Brazilian nanny Rosa de Lima taught him some traditional stories that later influenced his work.

 

In 1818, Garrett moved to Coimbra to study at the University law school.

In 1818, he published O Retrato de Vénus, a work for which was soon to be prosecuted, as it was considered “materialist, atheist and immoral“.

It was during this period that he adopted his pen name Almeida Garrett, seen as more aristocratic.

 

 

Coimbra e o rio Mondego (6167200429) (cropped).jpg

 

 

Although Garrett did not take active part in the Liberal Revolution that broke out in Porto in 1820, he contributed with two patriotic verses, the Hymno Constitucional and the Hymno Patriótico, which his friends copied and distributed in the streets of Porto.

After the “Vilafrancada“, a reactionary coup d’état led by the Infante Dom Miguel in 1823, he was forced to seek exile in England.

 

 

Above: Prince Miguel saluting soldiers on arrival at Vila Franca

 

 

Garrett had just married the beautiful Luísa Cândida Midosi who was only 12 or 13 years old at the time and was the sister of his friend Luís Frederico Midosi.

While in England, in Edgbaston, Warwickshire, he began his association with Romanticism, being subject to the first-hand influences of William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616) and Walter Scott (1771 – 1832), as well as to that of Gothic aesthetics.

 

 

Above: House on Farquhar Road, typical of the Edgbaston area, demonstrating the affluence

 

 

In the beginning of 1825, Garrett left for France where he wrote Camões (1825) and Dona Branca (1826), poems that are usually considered the first Romantic works in Portuguese literature.

 

 

Amazon.com: Dona Branca (Portuguese Edition) eBook: Garrett ...

 

 

In 1826, he returned to Portugal, where he settled for two years and founded the newspapers O Portuguez and O Chronista.

In 1828, under the rule of King Miguel of Portugal, he was again forced to settle in England, publishing Adozinda and performing his tragedy Catão at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth.

 

 

Adozinda: Romances Reconstruidos (Classic Reprint) (Portuguese ...

 

 

Together with Alexandre Herculano (1810 – 1877) and Joaquim António de Aguiar (1792 – 1884), Garrett took part in the Landing of Mindelo, carried out during the Liberal Wars (1828 – 1834).

 

 

Above: Landing of the liberal forces in Porto on 8 July 1832

 

 

When a constitutional monarchy was established, he briefly served as its Consul General to Brussels.

Upon his return, he was acclaimed as one of the major orators of Liberalism, and took the initiative in the creation of a new Portuguese theatre (during the period, he wrote his historical plays Gil Vicente, Dona Filipa de Vilhena, and O Alfageme de Santarém).

 

 

Um Auto De Gil Vicente by Almeida Garrett

 

 

In 1843, Garrett published Romanceiro e Cancioneiro Geral, a collection of folklore.

 

 

Romanceiro by Almeida Garrett

 

 

Two years later, he wrote the first volume of his historical novel O Arco de Santana (fully published in 1850, it took inspiration from Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame).

 

 

O ARCO DE SANT'ANA by GARRETT, Almeida (1799-1854): Livrarinha ...

 

 

O Arco de Santana signified a change in Garrett’s style, leading to a more complex and subjective prose with which he experimented at length in Viagens na Minha Terra (Travels in My Homeland, 1846).

 

 

Viagens na minha terra” – Resumo da obra de Almeida Garret | Guia ...

 

 

His innovative manner was also felt in his poem collections Flores sem Fruto (Flowers without Fruit, 1844) and Folhas Caídas (Fallen Leaves, 1853).

 

 

Folhas Caídas e Flores Sem Fruto: ALMEIDA GARRETT: 9789720049711 ...

 

 

Nobled by Dona Maria II of Portugal in 1852 with the title of 1st Viscount of Almeida Garrett, he was Minister of Foreign Affairs for only a few days in the same year (in the cabinet of the Duke of Saldanha).

 

 

 

 

Almeida Garrett ended his relationship with Luísa Midosi and divorced in 1835 to join 17-year-old Adelaide Deville Pastor in 1836.

She was to remain his partner until her early death in 1839, leaving a daughter named Maria Adelaide, whose early life tragedy and illegitimacy inspired her father to write the play Frei Luís de Sousa.

 

 

Amazon.com: Frei Luís de Sousa: Peça teatral (Portuguese Edition ...

 

 

Later in his life he became the lover of Rosa de Montúfar y Infante, whom he celebrated at his last and probably best poetry book Folhas Caídas.

 

Garrett died of cancer in Lisbon at 6:30 in the afternoon of 9 December 1854.

He was buried at the Cemetery of Prazeres and, on 3 May 1903, his remains were transferred to the national pantheon in Lisbon’s Jerónimos Monastery.

 

 

 

 

I find myself more forgiving of those that write over those that rule.

 

 

Behind Garrett stands Porto’s city hall, the Câmara Municipal.

 

 

 

 

(The metropolitan area is governed by the Junta Metropolitana do Porto (JMP), headquartered in Avenida dos Aliados, in downtown Porto under the presidency of Hermínio Loureiro, also the mayor of Oliveira de Azeméis municipality, since the Municipal Elections held in 2013, when he succeeded Rui Rio, mayor of Porto.

The Assembleia Metropolitana do Porto (Porto Metropolitan Assembly) is composed of 43 MPs, the PSD (Social Democratic Party) party has 20 seats, the PS (Socialist Party) 16, the CDS (the People’s Party) three, CDU (Unitarian Democratic Coalition) three, and the BE (Left Bloc), one.

Although the government has halted the intention of creating new metropolitan areas and urban communities, it is keen to ensure greater autonomy to Porto and Lisbon metropolitan areas.

 

 

AMP logo.png

 

 

Greater Porto is the second largest metropolitan area of Portugal, with about 1.7 million people.

It groups the larger Porto Urban Area, the second largest in the country, assembled by the municipalities of Porto, Matosinhos, Vila Nova de Gaia, Gondomar, Valongo and Maia.

A smaller urban area of Póvoa de Varzim and Vila do Conde, which ranks as the six largest in continental Portugal.

The new regional spatial planning program (PROT-Norte) recognizes both urban areas and engages in their development.

 

 

Portoceu1 (cropped).jpg

 

 

There are some intentions to merge the municipalities of Porto with Gaia and Matosinhos into a single and greater municipality, and there is an ongoing civil requisition for that objective.

The government also started to discuss the merging of some municipalities due to conurbations, but gave up.

There is a similar idea for the conurbation of Póvoa de Varzim and Vila do Conde, and both municipalities have decided to work as if both are the same city, cooperating in health, education, transports and other areas.

Several municipalities of the metropolitan area also moved closer, thus becoming a cohesive group.

 

 

 

 

The urban-metropolitan agglomeration known as the Northwestern Urban-Metropolitan Agglomeration or Porto Metropolitan Arch is a regional urban system of polycentric nature that stretches far beyond the metropolitan borders, and includes circa 3 million people, which takes in other main urban areas such as Braga and Guimarães, the 3rd and 8th largest cities (as defined by urban areas) of Portugal.

One should also note that the entire region of Northwestern Portugal is, in fact, a single agglomeration, linking Porto and Braga to Vigo in Galicia, Spain.)

 

 

AMP location map.png

 

I went up towards the Town Hall.

The sky rumbled and opened onto Porto, unleashing laments that included steady rainfall.

One could barely distinguish the white pedestrian crossings under the downpour that shook my poor umbrella, already twisted by other storms.

 

 

Avenida dos Aliados: o coração do Porto | Portugal · Outro blog de ...

 

 

As soon as I reached the door of Guarany Café, I walked in on an impulse, leaving trails of water wherever I passed.

Thus I remained for a few moments, drenched and momentarily wretched.

As if by magic a cup of hot coffee eased my discomfort.

I watched the storm and the dark morning.

 

 

Fachada - Picture of Cafe Guarany, Porto - Tripadvisor

 

 

I remembered the story a friend had told me about an Englishman (John Whitehead: 1726 – 1802) who had lived at Porto (1756 – 1802) in the 18th century.

He is believed to have been responsible for supervising and executing several urban works in the city, but people also considered that he had made a pact with the devil, for he was able to attract the grey lightning-bearing clouds to his gardens.

 

 

File:John Whitehead (1726-1802), 18th century oil.png - Wikimedia ...

 

 

No doubt, today would have been a perfect day for his experiments with the lightning conductor, which certainly involved science rather than witchcraft.

 

 

Factory House - Wikipedia

 

 

What would he think of this avenue he never knew?

This avenue which welcomes the rain and the sun with the same generosity?

 

 

 

All these cars, which pass by taking people to their destinations, or these buses which carry tourists to the Palácio da Bolsa, to the Church of Sao Francisco and to the Torre dos Clérigos?

 

 

 

 

All these imposing buildings which stretch granitically upwards to the sky?

This set paving?

Would he call us witches?

Eccentrics?

 

 

Hotel Aliados, your home in the center of Porto

 

 

I looked at my watch and I let out a scream that crashed against its face.

I was late!

Outside, the sky calmed its fury, making the pedestrian crossings visible….

(Susana Fonseca)

 

 

Woman silhouette in the rain | Silhouette pictures, Woman ...

 

 

It seems on every street corner, the defeated, but undaunted, People-Animals-Nature Party (one sole MP) has young people standing with clipboard petitions that seek support to continue their battle against bullfighting, a bid beaten in Parliament on 6 July.

 

 

People–Animals–Nature logo.svg

 

 

From the Câmara to the Mercado to the Torre dos Clérigos to the Café Majestic, the morning and much of the afternoon pass quickly.

 

 

Café Majestic | www.visitportugal.com

 

 

West of the Torre we find ourselves threading our way between the faculty Buildings of the Universidade do Porto.

 

 

Logoup.jpg

 

 

Below the main University building spreads the Jardim da Cordoaria  (garden of the ropemakers), also known as the Jardim de Joao Chagas, sheltering impromptu card and chess schools beneath giant plane trees.

It is a small, historic urban park with a serene vibe featuring a variety of trees, plants & sculptures.

 

 

Cordoaria Porto.jpg

 

 

The garden was founded by the Viscount of Vilar d’Allen in 1865 and was designed by the German landscaper Émile David (1839 – 1873).

In 1941, a cyclone altered the appearance of this romantic garden.

In preparation for the celebrations of Porto as the 2001 European Capital of Culture, the garden was the target of an intervention by the architect Camilo Cortesao.

His work was highly contested by some celebrities and associations in Porto, because it implied a major change in the space in question.

 

 

 

 

In the garden space are the sculptures:

  • Rapto de Ganimedes (the rapture of Ganimedes)(1898) by Fernandes de Sá (1874 – 1959)

 

 

  • Flora (1904) by Antonio Teixeria Lopes (1866 – 1942)

 

 

  • Ramalho Ortigao (1909) by Leopoldo Almeida (1898 – 1975)

 

 

  • Antonio Nobre (1926) by Tómas Costa

 

As estátuas e árvores do Jardim João Chagas |

 

  • Thirteen to laugh at each other (2001) by Juan Munoz (1953 – 2001)

 

 

The garden’s namesake João Pinheiro Chagas (1863 – 1925) was a Portuguese journalist and politician.

 

 

 

He was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, of Portuguese parents who soon moved back to Portugal.

He was an editor at the newspapers O Primeiro de Janeiro, Correio do Norte, O Tempo and O Dia.

After becoming a republican, he also founded the República Portuguesa and was the director of O País (1898).

The monarchist government’s reaction to the British Ultimatum of January 1890 (that forced Portugal to renounce its extravagant claims to the territories that lay between Portuguese Angola and Portuguese Mozambique), made him a fierce republican and one of Portugal’s most fervent anti-monarchy journalists and propagandists.

After the proclamation of the republic, on 5 October 1910, he was appointed minister in Paris, and, the following year, after the end of the term of the provisional government, he was chosen to lead the first constitutional government of the Portuguese First Republic.

It was in power for only two months, from 4 September to 13 November 1911.

This was a sad prelude to the political instability of the First Republic.

On 17 May 1915, he was again appointed President of the Ministry (Prime Minister), but he didn’t take office.

He remained a diplomat until his retirement in 1923.

He died in Estoril, aged 60.

 

 

Above: Joao Chagas

 

 

Two of the garden’s statues are of Portuguese literature, the writer Ortigao and the poet Nobre….

 

 

If there is one art form the Portuguese are proud of, it is literature.

You cannot be Portuguese unless you have read The Lusiads, Luis de Camoes‘ (1524 – 1580) epic poem narrating Vasco da Gama’s sea voyage to India, complete with tales of sea monsters.

 

 

 

 

Portugal’s Jane Austin is Eca de Queirós (1845 – 1900), whose studied portraits of life in 19th century Lisbon are every bit as witty.

 

 

 

 

Then came Fernando Pessoa, despite a multiple personality disorder, who with his musings on the meaning of life is remembered as a Modernist genius.

 

 

The 5 Strange Truths Fernando Pessoa Brings To Business

 

 

José Saramago (1922 – 2010) carried the torch of experimentalism, writing whole books without punctuation, and one, Blindness, without naming a single character.

 

 

 

 

The current golden boy of Portuguese literature is José Luís Peixoto who writes fractured mosaics of books that are like assembling a jigsaw puzzle.

 

 

 

 

Portugal’s greatest writers are glorified wherever you go in the country.

Statues commemorate their places of birth and death.

Even the town of Barcelos’ football team is named after a writer, Gil Vicente (1465 – 1536).

 

 

Logo Gil Vicente.svg

 

 

 

The garden’s Ramalho Ortigão (1836 – 1915) spent his early years with his maternal grandmother in Porto.

 

 

Ramalho Ortigao 01.JPG

 

He studied law in the University of Coimbra, but he did not complete his studies.

 

Logo of the University of Coimbra, Portugal.png

 

After returning to his home town, he taught French at a college run by his father.

Among his students was Eça de Queiros.

 

In 1862 he dedicated himself to journalism and became a literary critic at the Diário do Porto and contributed to several literary magazines.

At this period, romanticism was the dominant trend in Portuguese literature, led by several major writers, including Camilo Castelo Branco (1825 – 1890) and António Augusto Soares de Passos (1826 – 1860), who influenced Ortigão.

 

 

Camilo Castelo Branco (1882) - União – Photographia da Casa Real-Porto.png

Above: Camilo Castelo Branco

 

 

Soares de Passos - Revista contemporanea de Portugal e Brazil (N.º 7, Out. 1860).png

Above: António Augusto Soares de Passos

 

 

In the 1870s, a group of students from Coimbra began to promote new ideas in a reaction against romanticism.

This group, eventually called the 70s Generation, was to have a major influence on Portuguese literature.

 

As a supporter of romanticism, Ortigão became involved in a struggle against them and even fought a duel with Antero de Quental (1842 – 1891).

 

 

Photograph of Antero de Quental, c. 1887

Above: Antero de Quental

 

 

In spite of this early opposition, Ortigão afterwards became friendly with some members of the group.

 

It was at this period that he wrote The Mystery of the Sintra Road and created the satirical journal As Farpas, both in collaboration with Eça de Queiros.

 

 

SintraRoadCover1.jpg

 

 

When Queiros became a diplomat, initially in Cuba, Ortigão continued As Farpas alone.

Ortigão also worked as a translator.

In 1874 he produced a Portuguese translation of the English satirical novel Ginx’s Baby by Edward Jenkins (1838 – 1910).

 

 

Above: “Ginx’s Baby” Jenkins as caricatured by Spy (Leslie Ward) in Vanity Fair, August 1878

 

 

Ramalho Ortigão died in Lisbon on 27 September 1915.

 

 

File:Jazigo de Ramalho Ortigão 2017-08-26.png - Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

The second literary person honoured by a statue in the garden, António Nobre (1867 – 1900) was a member of a wealthy family.

 

 

Antonio Nobre.jpg

 

 

He was born in Porto, and spent his childhood in Trás-os-Montes and in Póvoa de Varzim.

 

 

Clockwise from top: Nova Póvoa, Rua Santos Minho, Touro, the City Park, Lagoa Beach, Senhora das Dores Church, and Praça do Almada.

Above: Images of modern Póvoa de Varzim

 

 

He studied law unsuccessfully at the University of Coimbra from 1888 to 1890 when he dropped out.

As a student in Coimbra, and according to his own words, he only felt at ease in his “tower” (referring to the Torre de Anto – Anto Tower, in upper Coimbra, where he lived) during the “sinister period” he spent studying law at the University of Coimbra.

An unknown fiancée more fictitious than concrete, his friend Alberto de Oliveira, and a brief intervention in the literary life, through some magazines, did not conciliate him with the academic city of Coimbra where this predestined poet flunked twice.

 

 

 

 

He went to Paris where he earned a degree in political science at the École Libre des Sciences Politiques.

 

 

Logo Sciences Po.svg

 

 

There, he came in contact with the French coeval poetry, where he met Paul Verlaine (1844 – 1896) and Jean Moréas (1856 – 1910), among others.

 

 

Paul Verlaine

Above: Paul Verlaine

 

 

Above: Jean Moréas

 

 

 

He also met the famous Portuguese writer Eça de Queiros in Paris, who was a Portuguese diplomat in the city.

 

 

Seine and Eiffel Tower from Tour Saint Jacques 2013-08.JPG

 

 

It was from 1890 to 1895, that Nobre studied political science in Paris, where he was influenced by the French Symbolist poets and it was there that he wrote the greater part of the only book he published.

 

 

 

 

The Paris exile, sad by his own words (poor Lusitanian, the wretched, lost in the crowd that does not know him), was not a time for happiness.

The aristocratic shutting up caused nausea or indifference.

Frustrated and always marginal experiences made him bitter.

He was far from the sweat and from all sorts of fraternity, from desire and hate, and from the wailing of the breed, a childlike, lost, instinctive and princely life, a souvenir of the sweet old landscape that memory seems to encourage.

 

 

 

 

In his tender but never rhetorical mourning Nobre manifests himself and mourns over himself as a doomed poet, with a hard soul and a maiden’s heart, which carried the sponge of gall in former processions.

His verse marked a departure from objective realism and social commitment to subjective lyricism and an aesthetic point of view, walking more towards symbolism – one of the various modernist literary currents.

 

 

Thomas Chatterton: The Myth of the Doomed Poet, BBC Four | The ...

 

 

The lack of means, aggravated by his father’s death, made him morbidly reject the present and the future, following a pessimistic romantic attitude that led him to denounce his tedium.

However excessive, this is a controlled attitude, due to a clear aesthetic mind and a real sense of ridicule.

 

Starving Artists - Starving Artists (1986, Vinyl) | Discogs

 

He learned the colloquial tone from Almeida Garrett and Júlio Dinis (1839 – 1871), and also from Jules Laforgue (1860 – 1887), but he exceeded them all in the peculiar compromise between irony and a refined puerility, a fountain of happiness because it represents a return to his happiest of times — a kingdom of his own from where he resuscitates characters and enchanted places, manipulating, as a virtuoso of nostalgia, the picturesque of popular festivals and of fishermen, the simple magic of toponyms and the language of the people.

 

 

Estatua Julio Dinis (Porto).JPG

 

Portrait by Franz Skarbina (1885)

Above: Jules Laforgue

 

 

In his prescience of pain, in his spiritual anticipation of disease and of agony, in his taste for sadness, in his unmeasured pride of isolation, António (from Torre de Anto, at the centre of old Coimbra where the poet lived an enchanted life, everywhere writing his mythical and literary name: Anto) keeps an artist’s composure, always expressing the cult of the aesthetic life and of the elegant personality.

 

 

94918-Coimbra (49022894973) (cropped).jpg

 

 

In his courtship of death (to whose imminent threat he would later answer with dignity), he takes his spiritual dandyism to extremes, like in the “Balada do Caixão” (The Coffin Ballad).

 

 

 

 

His poetry translates the lack of a total maturation, an adolescent “angelism” present in fabulous confirmations:

He is “the moon”, “the saint”, “the snake”, “the sorcerer”, “the afflicted”, “the inspired”, “the unprecedented”, “the medium”, “the bizarre”, “the fool”, “the nauseated”, “the tortured”, “D. Enguiço”, “a supernatural poet.”

 

 

Above: The Divine Comedy, Paradise, illustration by Gustave Doré

 

 

Narcissus in permanent soliloquy, whether he writes nostalgic verses to Manuel or speaks to his own pipe….

 

 

MagrittePipe.jpg

Above: “La Trahison des Images” (“The Treachery of Images”) (1928-9) or “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (“This is not a pipe”) by René Magritte, 1898-1967.

 

 

António Nobre (A. N.) makes poetry out of the real.

He covers what is prosaic with a soft mantle of legend (“My neighbour is a carpenter/he is a second-hand trader of Mrs. Death”) and creates, with a rare balance between intuition and critique, his familiar “fantastic” (“When the Moon, a beautiful milkmaid / goes deliver milk at the houses of Infinity”).

 

 

Lunar eclipse and full moon to put on a sky show July 4 weekend ...

 

 

His catholic imaginary world is the same as in a fairy tale, a crib of simple words, but with an imaginative audacity in the scheming of those words that separate him from the consecrated lyrical language.

His power of “invention” comes forth in the inspired, yet conscious, use of the verbal material (“Moons of Summer! Black moons of velvet!” or “The Abbey of my past”).

 

 

 

 

Between the Garrettian and the symbolic aesthetic, the most personal and revealing feature of his vocabulary is naturally — even for his longing for the childhood aesthetical retrieval – the diminutive.

A man of sensibility rather than of reflection, he took from French symbolism, whose mystery and deep sense he could never penetrate, the repelling of oratory and of formal procedures, original imagery (“Trás-os-Montes of water”, “slaughter house of the planets”), the cult of synaesthesia, rhythmic freedom and musical research.

 

 

Above: In the slaughterhouse, Lovis Corinth, 1893

 

 

A. N. had a very thick ear.

All his poetry is rigorously written to be heard, full of parallelisms, melodic repetitions, and onomatopoeias, and is extremely malleable.

Its syllabic division depends on the rhythm that obeys feeling.

 

 

 

 

However, the images or the words of his sentences rarely have the precious touch of symbolic jewelry.

Evidently, in “Poentes de França”, the planets drink in silver chalices in the “tavern of sunset”.

 

 

The Sunset Tavern - Gulf of Carpentaria

 

 

However, his transfiguration of reality almost always obeys not a purpose of sumptuous embellishment, like in Eugénio de Castro, but an essentially affectionate eager desire of an intimism of things (“the skinny and hunchbacked poplars”).

 

 

 

 

António Nobre died of tuberculosis in Foz do Douro, Porto, on 18 March 1900, after trying to recover from the disease in Switzerland, Madeira and New York City.

 

 

Antonio Nobre - descanso eterno no Cemiterio de Leça da Palmeira ...

 

 

Other than (Paris, 1892), two other posthumous works were published: Despedidas (1st edition, 1902), with a fragment from O Desejado, and Primeiros Versos (1st edition, 1921).

António Nobre’s correspondence is compiled in several volumes:

  • Cartas Inéditas a A.N., with an introduction and notes by A. Casais Monteiro
  • Cartas e Bilhetes-Postais a Justino de Montalvão with a foreword and notes by Alberto de Serpa, Porto, 1956
  • Correspondência, with an introduction and notes by Guilherme de Castilho, Lisbon, 1967 (a compilation of 244 letters, 56 of which were unpublished).

 

 

António Nobre - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia

 

 

“When he (Nobre) was born, we all were born.
The sadness that each one of us brings with him, even in the sense of his joy, still is him, and his life, never perfectly real and certainly not lived, is, after all, the summary of the life we live – fatherless and motherless, lost from God, in the middle of the forest, and weeping, weeping uselessly, with no other consolation than this, childish, knowing that it is uselessly weeping.

Fernando Pessoa, February 1915

 

 

 

 

The artist that made Nobre’s garden statue has been called “the most significant of the first generation of artists to achieve maturity in post-Franco Spain, and one of the most complex and individual artists working today.”

Juan Muñoz (1953– 2001) was a Spanish sculptor, working primarily in paper maché, resin and bronze.

He was also interested in the auditory arts and created compositions for the radio.

He was a self-described “storyteller“.

In 2000, Muñoz was awarded Spain’s major Premio Nacional de Bellas Artes in recognition of his work.

He died shortly after, in 2001.

 

 

Juan Munoz | Widewalls

 

 

His works are displayed in such galleries as the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Guggenheim Museum New York, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C., the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Tate Modern in London.

 

 

Juan Muñoz: A retrospective | Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

 

 

In one unpublished radio program (Third Ear, 1992), Juan Muñoz proposed that there are two things which are impossible to represent:

The present and death.

The only way to arrive at them was by their absence.

 

 

Above: Created by Juan Munoz in 1999, this work celebrates the Tyne Salmon. The 2008 Tyne Bluetooth Salmon Trail Cubes are seen with the 22 bronze life-size figures that command a view of South Shields Harbour and the Tyne Piers.

 

 

 

The ropemakers’ garden, this garden in memory of Joao Chagas, is close to the Torre dos Clérigos, the General Hospital of Santo António and the Portuguese Centre of Photography.

 

 

 

 

The Portuguese Centre of Photography was founded in 1997.

The first exhibitions were held in December of that same year on the ground floor of the building until 2000.

The building was temporarily closed for renovation and reopened in 2001.

Following the advice of the working group established by the Minister Manuel Maria Carrilho, in 1996, the then Ministry of Culture created the Portuguese Centre of Photography.

The photographic culture began then to revive by the appearance of photography schools, festivals and galleries attracting photographers that were exiled during the Salazar regime, publishing internationally relevant work.

The exhibition rooms of the ground floor were used that year, starting in December, but the building would only be occupied entirely by the CPF in 2001.

 

 

 

 

I do not know why the Centre in 2018 (6 July – 4 November) decided to focus on her photographs, but I do know why my wife needed to visit the Centre:

My wife has always been a huge fan of Mexican artiste Frida Kahlo.

The attraction for me, besides keeping my significant other happy, is Kahlo’s ability to invent herself.

 

Frida Kahlo, by Guillermo Kahlo.jpg

 

 

Frida Kahlo (née Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón) (1907 – 1954) was a Mexican painter known for her many portraits, self-portraits, and works inspired by the nature and artifacts of Mexico.

Inspired by the country’s popular culture, she employed a naïve folk art style to explore questions of identity, postcolonialism, gender, class, and race in Mexican society.

Her paintings often had strong autobiographical elements and mixed realism with fantasy.

In addition to belonging to the post-revolutionary Mexicayotl movement, which sought to define a Mexican identity, Kahlo has been described as a surrealist or magical realist.

 

 

 

 

Born to a German father and a mestiza mother, Kahlo spent most of her childhood and adult life at La Casa Azul, her family home in Coyoacán—now publicly accessible as the Frida Kahlo Museum.

 

 

 

 

Although she was disabled by polio as a child, Kahlo had been a promising student headed for medical school until she suffered a bus accident at the age of eighteen, which caused her lifelong pain and medical problems.

During her recovery she returned to her childhood hobby of art with the idea of becoming an artist.

 

 

 

Kahlo’s interests in politics and art led her to join the Mexican Communist Party in 1927, through which she met fellow Mexican artist Diego Rivera (1886 – 1957).

 

 

Logo PCM.jpg

 

 

The couple married in 1929, and spent the late 1920s and early 1930s travelling in Mexico and the United States together.

 

 

 

During this time, she developed her artistic style, drawing her main inspiration from Mexican folk culture, and painted mostly small self-portraits which mixed elements from pre-Columbian and Catholic beliefs.

 

 

 

 

Her paintings raised the interest of Surrealist artist André Breton, who arranged for Kahlo’s first solo exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York in 1938.

 

 

André Breton

Above: André Breton (1896 – 1966)

 

 

The exhibition was a success and was followed by another in Paris in 1939.

 

 

Louvre Museum Wikimedia Commons.jpg

 

While the French exhibition was less successful, the Louvre (pictured above) purchased a painting from Kahlo, The Frame, making her the first Mexican artist to be featured in their collection.

 

 

The Frame (Frida Kahlo painting).jpg

 

Throughout the 1940s, Kahlo participated in exhibitions in Mexico and the United States and worked as an art teacher.

She taught at the Escuela Nacional de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado “La Esmeralda” and was a founding member of the Seminario de Cultura Mexicana.

 

 

Web esmeralda raster r6 c9.gif

 

 

Kahlo’s always-fragile health began to decline in the same decade.

She had her first solo exhibition in Mexico in 1953, shortly before her death in 1954 at the age of 47.

 

 

Above: Kahlo’s death mask on her bed in La Casa Azul

 

 

Kahlo’s work as an artist remained relatively unknown until the late 1970s, when her work was rediscovered by art historians and political activists.

By the early 1990s, she had become not only a recognized figure in art history, but also regarded as an icon for Chicanos, the feminism movement and the LGBTQ+ movement.

Kahlo’s work has been celebrated internationally as emblematic of Mexican national and indigenous traditions and by feminists for what is seen as its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form.

 

 

Frieda and Diego Rivera.jpg

Above: Frieda and Diego Rivera by Frieda Khalo (1931)

 

Frida is a 2002 American biographical drama film, directed by Julie Taymor, which depicts the professional and private life of the surrealist Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

 

 

Fridaposter.jpg

 

 

(In an interview, Taynor said this about Kahlo:

She painted what she painted because she had to, because she was passionate about it.

She didn’t care at all if people bought her paintings.

As she said, she painted her reality.“)

 

 

Julie Taymor.jpg

Above: Julie Taymor

 

Frida begins just before the traumatic accident Frida Kahlo (Salma Hayek) suffered at the age of 18 when the wooden-bodied bus she was riding in collided with a streetcar.

 

 

Frida_AccidentScene - YouTube

 

 

She is impaled by a metal pole and the injuries she sustains plague her for the rest of her life.

To help her through convalescence, her father brings her a canvas upon which to start painting.

 

 

Strayed: Frida Kahlo : works of art and movie review (Frida 2002)

 

 

Throughout the film, a scene starts as a painting, then slowly dissolves into a live action scene with actors.

 

 

The Bus 1929 Painting By Frida Kahlo - Reproduction Gallery

 

 

Frida also details the artist’s dysfunctional relationship with the muralist Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina).

When Rivera proposes to Kahlo, she tells him she expects from him loyalty if not fidelity.

Diego’s appraisal of her painting ability is one of the reasons that she continues to paint.

 

 

Latino Inspired Halloween Costumes | Frida 2002, Traje de frida ...

 

 

Throughout the marriage, Rivera has affairs with a wide array of women, while the bisexual Kahlo takes on male and female lovers, including in one case having an affair with the same woman as Rivera.

 

 

DSH Perfumes La Casa Azul (Frida Stories 1.1) Review

 

 

The two travel to New York City so that he may paint the mural Man at the Crossroads at the Rockefeller Center.

 

 

The recreated version of the painting, known as "Man, Controller of the Universe"

 

 

While in the United States, Kahlo suffers a miscarriage, and her mother dies in Mexico.

Rivera refuses to compromise his communist vision of the work to the needs of the patron, Nelson Rockefeller (Edward Norton).

 

 

Second Bananas — Real-Life U.S. Vice President Portrayals

 

 

As a result, the mural is destroyed.

The pair return to Mexico, with Rivera the more reluctant of the two.

 

 

Kahlo’s sister Cristina (Mia Maestro) moves in with the two at their San Ángel studio home to work as Rivera’s assistant.

 

 

Mía Maestro as Christina Kahlo in Frida (2002) | Mía maestro, Hair ...

 

 

Soon afterward, Kahlo discovers that Rivera and Cristina are having an affair.

She leaves him and subsequently sinks into alcoholism.

 

 

Frida Kahlo | Cinema Sips

 

 

The couple reunite when he asks her to welcome and house Leon Trotsky (Geoffrey Rush), who has been granted political asylum in Mexico.

She and Trotsky begin an affair, which forces the married Trotsky to leave the safety of his Coyoacán home.

 

 

Frida: raises an eyebrow | Reel History | Film | The Guardian

 

 

Kahlo leaves for Paris after Diego realizes she was unfaithful to him with Trotsky.

Although Rivera had little problem with Kahlo’s other affairs, Trotsky was too important to Rivera to be intimately involved with his wife.

When she returns to Mexico, he asks for a divorce.

Soon afterwards, Trotsky is murdered in Mexico City.

Rivera is temporarily a suspect and Kahlo is incarcerated in his place when he is not found.

Rivera helps get her released.

 

 

Pin on cinematography

 

 

Kahlo has her toes removed when they become gangrenous.

Rivera asks her to remarry him and she agrees.

Her health continues to worsen, including the amputation of a leg, and she ultimately dies after finally having a solo exhibition of her paintings in Mexico.

 

 

Amazon.com: Watch Frida | Prime Video

 

Being a photography museum, the focus of the Kahlo exhibition was not so much upon her paintings as it was on photos she took or were taken of her.

(Later, across the Douro River, we would stumble across a small gallery where her art was displayed and duplicated.)

 

 

The Two Fridas.jpg

 

 

And, though Kahlo wasn’t Portuguese and possibly never set foot on Portuguese soil, her life story somehow fits into our Porto experience seamlessly.

 

 

Oporto (Portugal) (16176378817) (cropped).jpg

 

 

Art is open to individual perception, but words offer individual definition in far starker forms.

 

 

Some of what Kahlo wrote in preserved letters and diaries strikes me closer to the core of who she was far more powerfully than the visual impact of her vibrant paintings or expressive photographs.

 

 

El Diario De Frida Kahlo / The Diary of Frida Kahlo: Un intimo ...

 

 

They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t.

I never painted dreams.

I painted my own reality.

 

 

The Wounded Deer 1946.jpg

 

 

I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows, but now the damned things have learned to swim.

 

 

 

 

I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.

 

 

 

 

His (Diego Rivera’s) supposed mythomania is in direct relation to his tremendous imagination.

That is to say, he is as much of a liar as the poets or as the children who have not yet been turned into idiots by school or mothers.

I have heard him tell all kinds of lies: from the most innocent, to the most complicated stories about people whom his imagination combined in a fantastic situation or actions, always with a great sense of humour and a marvelous critical sense.

But I have never heard him say a single stupid thing or banal lie.

Lying, or playing at lying, he unmasks many people.

He learns the interior mechanism of others who are much more ingenuously liars than he.

And the most curious thing about the supposed lies of Diego is that in the long and short of it, those who are involved in the imaginary combination become angry, not because of the lie, but because of the truth contained in the lie that always comes to the surface.

 

 

The Wounded Table.jpg

 

 

The overall message that this day taught me is the solitude of individuality.

We may be within the crowd of a famous bookstore (Livraria Lello) or walking together in the intimacy of a married couple’s strolling through a park.

And yet each of us is alone.

 

 

Rene and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog after the War (reprise ...

Above: René and Georgette Magritte with their dog after the war

 

 

We live alone and we die alone, for we are prisoners within our bodies and exiles within our minds.

 

 

Above: Thomas Wolfe (1900 – 1938) who in an often quoted passage stated: “The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence.”

 

 

I may know my wife better than any other person in my life, and yet is there any man who can truly say that a woman cannot still continually surprise him?

My wife is convinced to her core that she knows exactly who I am, but how can she, when I am continually discovering myself as I evolve within the passages of life and time?

 

 

Michael Jackson - Man in the Mirror.png

 

 

Perception is the expression of that solitude of individuality.

 

 

The Porto I see and feel is a universe removed from the Porto that my wife sees and feels.

 

 

 

 

Though we share the same experience, we see and feel that experience through the prism of our own individual selves.

 

 

 

 

As we wind our way through some of Porto’s oldest and most atmospheric streets, ascending from the Baixa (lower town) to the Sé (cathedral) that looms high above the city like a guardian god, then down to the Ribiera (riverside) where we are magnetically drawn to the historic heart of the harbour hub….

 

 

 

 

We are together, hand-in-hand.

We are apart, mind from mind, emotions unspoken as words fail miserably to adequately express the thoughts that flood our souls unbidden.

 

 

BeeGeesWords.jpg

 

 

We descend with the setting sun, down to the chaos of hotch-potch houses that breathe in the vibrancy of cafés and restaurants replete with tired tourists and working waiters, bustling buskers and enthusiastic entertainers.

We dine beside the river on a shore between bridges.

 

 

 

 

We share a bottle of port wine, for this is what is done in the birthplace of this beverage.

The waiter defines what we are drinking as one would explain electricity to an infant.

Words like ruby and reserve, LBV and colheita fill the air and cross our consciousness, all to no avail.

We are no gourmets, no vintners nor clever connaisseurs.

 

 

 

 

We have seen so much and learned so much and felt so much, in this our first full day in Porto, and yet have understood so little.

 

 

 

 

Husband and wife share a meal and a bottle, unable or unwilling to share souls.

How can she politely express her annoyance with some of her husband’s boorish bumbling behaviours without causing a beastly reaction by expressing this?

How can I lovingly criticize her impatience while simultaneously admiring her imagination in the usurped planning of our days, without a contradiction that confuses more than it cooperates?

 

 

Main eventposter.jpg

 

 

We are together.

We are apart.

How very human.

How ironic it is that the individuality of Each binds the Every together.

We are united by our separateness.

 

 

IDIC. Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. Another great ...

 

 

The Douro defines the night.

A river shared by two shores, binding and blessing while dividing and differentiating.

The river rushes beside us and through us.

There is wisdom in wine and knowledge at night.

 

 

 

 

(Update: Sunday 5 July 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic in Portugal is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

 

 

Pt(covid19.png

Above: Corona Virus cases in Portugal (the darker the area, the more cases therein)

 

 

On 2 March 2020, the virus was confirmed to have reached Portugal, when it was reported that two men, a 60 year-old doctor who travelled to the north of Italy on vacation and a 33 year-old man working in Spain, tested positive for COVID-19.

 

 

Illustration of a SARS-CoV-2 virion

 

 

  • March 12: The Portuguese government declared the highest level of alert because of COVID-19 and said it would be maintained until 9 April.

Portugal entered a mitigation phase as community transmission was detected.

 

Above: São Bento Palace, Lisbon, is the seat of the Portuguese Legislature.

 

 

  • March 18: The President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, declared the entirety of the Portuguese territory in a State of Emergency for the following 15 days, with the possibility of renewal, the first since the Carnation Revolution in 1974.

 

 

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa Rio2016.png

 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa declares that a national state of emergency will take effect from the next day, with Finance Minister Mário Centeno unveiling €9.2 billion in economic assistance to households and companies.

 

2018 Finanzminister Löger bei Eurogruppe und ECOFIN (Mário Centeno).jpg

 

As of this day there have been 642 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with two deaths.

 

  • March 24: The Portuguese government admitted that the country could not contain the virus any longer.
  • March 26: The country entered the “mitigation stage”.

The health care sites dedicated to fighting the disease started.

The Bank of Portugal estimates that the economy will contract by between 3.7% and 5.7% of GDP in 2020 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, with unemployment rising to between 10.1% and 11.7%.

 

 

Banco de Portugal new logo.svg

 

 

  • April 2: Parliament approved the extension of the State of Emergency, as requested by the President.

The State of Emergency will remain until 17 April, subject to further extensions of similar duration.

Under the new regulations, for the Easter celebrations, from 9 April (Maundy Thursday) to 13 April (Easter Monday) the Portuguese government decreed special measures in restricting people movements between municipalities with very few exceptions, closing all airports to civil transportation and increased control in the national borders.

 

Above: Letter from the Portuguese President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, to the Speaker of the Assembly of the Republic, Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues, requesting Parliament for authorisation under the terms of the Constitution, for a declaration of the state of emergency in the context of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

  • 4 April – Government figures indicate that more than 500,000 workers are in danger of temporarily losing their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, after almost 32,000 businesses apply to the government to furlough employees.

The day also sees the total number of COVID-19 cases surpass 10,000, with 10,524 cases and 266 deaths reported.

 

 

 

 

  • 12 April – Reuters reports that one in eight of Portugal’s 504 deaths from COVID-19 to date have occurred in care homes, with officials concerned about the spread of the corona virus among the elderly residents.

As of this day there have been 16,585 recorded cases in the country.

 

 

 

 

  • 14 April – The International Monetary Fund forecasts an 8.0% drop in Portuguese GDP for 2020 as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, with unemployment predicted to rise to 13.9%.

The economy is forecast to recover in 2021 with unemployment falling to 8.7%.

 

 

International Monetary Fund logo.svg

 

 

  • 16 April – MPs vote to further extend the national state of emergency until the beginning of May.

The vote comes amid a declining growth in infections, prompting the Health Secretary Antonio Sales to praise the “excellent behaviour and civic-mindedness of the Portuguese people“.

 

 

António Lacerda Sales: “Desde o final de janeiro, Portugal tem ...

 

 

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date stands at 18,841 with 629 deaths.

 

  • 28 April – President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa announces that the national state of emergency in place since 18 March will begin to be lifted from 3 May.
  • April 30: The Portuguese Ministers’ Council approved a plan to start releasing the country from the COVID-19 container measures and cancelling the State of Emergency.

 

The Automóvel Club de Portugal confirms the cancellation of the 2020 Rally de Portugal due to the COVID-19 pandemic, abandoning plans to reschedule the event’s planned 21–24 May date to October.

 

 

WRC.svg

 

 

  • 1 May – The Directorate-General of Health confirms that the number of fatalities from COVID-19 in Portugal has surpassed 1,000, with eighteen deaths in the preceding 24 hours bringing the country’s total to 1,007.

As of this date there have been 25,531 recorded cases and 1,647 recoveries.

 

 

COVID-19 | Health Advice | www.visitportugal.com

 

 

  • 2 May – The State of Emergency was cancelled.
  • 3 May – The national state of emergency is lifted after six weeks, with the country downgraded to the lesser state of “calamity“.
  • 4 May – A three-phase re-opening plan for the country begins, with small retail businesses allowed to open and the Lisbon and Porto Metro systems resuming at a reduced capacity.

 

 

Metro do Porto Flexity Outlook Eurotram Trindade.jpg

 

 

The use of face masks is made compulsory for those using public transport and visiting enclosed public premises such as supermarkets.

 

 

Portugal Flag Puzzle Mouth Mask Dust Face Mask Washed Reusable ...

 

 

  • 9 May – Organisers of the Vuelta a Espana announce that the two stages of the 2020 bicycle race set to take place in Portugal will not go ahead.

 

 

La Vuelta (Spain) logo.svg

 

  • May 18: Portugal entered the second phase in easing restrictions.

Nurseries and the last two years of the secondary school reopened, along with restaurants, cafés, medium-sized street stores and some museums, all with mandatory usage of mask and distance rules.

 

 

Without social distancing, Covid-19 could cause more than 70,000 ...

 

 

  • 20 May – Data from the Institute for Employment and Vocational Training reveals that the number of people registering as unemployed across the country increased by 48,500 in April, a rise of 22% compared to April 2019.

The total number of people out of work now stands at approximately 392,000.

 

 

Centro de Formação Profissional das Indústrias da Madeira e ...

 

 

  • 1 June – The government reveals a four-fold increase to €108 million to the total funds made available to companies shifting production towards tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

Eurocoin.pt.100.gif

Above: Portuguese €1.00 coin

 

 

As of this date there have been 32,700 cases and 1,424 deaths from COVID-19 recorded in the country.

 

  • 3 June – The Primeira Liga resumes competition with all remaining matches of the 2019–20 season set to take place without spectators.

 

 

Liga NOS logo.png

 

 

  • 6 June – Thousands attend anti-racism protests in Lisbon and Porto in response to the death of George Floyd in the United States on 25 May.

 

 

Black lives matter more than our own? - Portugal Resident

 

 

As of 6 June 2020, there have been:

  • 43,156 confirmed Covid-19 cases
  • 20,475 active cases
  • 386,926 suspected cases
  • 6,500 critical cases
  • 39,500 hospitalized cases
  • 28,424 recovered cases
  • 1,598 deaths

 

 

Imagens impressionantes da luta contra a Covid-19 nos hospitais ...

 

 

  • 9 June – Finance Minister Mario Centeno announces his resignation from the government for reasons undisclosed.

Joao Leao, the current Budget Minister, is confirmed by Prime Minister António Costa as Centeno’s replacement beginning on 15 June.

 

 

Portugal quer contribuir para uma zona euro "mais solidária"

 

 

The Assembly officially recognises diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes (1885 – 1954), who in his capacity as consul to France in June 1940 issued thousands of visas to Jewish refugees in Bordeaux, allowing them to escape the advancing German army by crossing south into neutral Spain.

In recognition of his actions, a monument dedicated to him within the National Pantheon is also planned.

 

 

Aristides20I.jpg

Above: Aristides de Sousa Mendes

 

 

  • 10 June – The European Commission approves a €1.2 billion loan from the government to TAP Air, the nation’s flag carrier airline, whose debt at the end of 2019 amounted to €800 million.

 

 

TAP-Portugal-Logo.svg

 

 

  • 25 June – A rise in the recorded number of cases of COVID-19 in Lisbon prompts the government to re-impose certain restrictions in 19 of the capital’s parishes to stem transmissions.

From 1 July, measures such as restrictions on travel, an 8 pm curfew for businesses, and limiting the size of social gatherings to five people will be enforced.

 

 

Covid-19. Esta é a Lisboa (quase vazia) em tempos do novo coronavírus

 

  • 1 July – After being shut for more than three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Spanish-Portuguese border is formally re-opened in a ceremony attended by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Prime Minister António Costa, King Felipe VI, and the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.)

 

 

Travel in Spain: Spain reopens border with Portugal after three ...

 

 

I find myself wondering if I will ever return to Portugal, ever return to Porto.

Perhaps I don’t need to, for in the attempt to capture what they mean to me, within me they live.

 

 

 

 

Do I contradict myself?

Very well, then I contradict myself.

I am large.

I contain multitudes.” (Walt Whitman)

 

 

Walt Whitman, 1887

 

 

Sources: Wikipedia / Google / Susana Fonseca, Porto and Northern Portugal: Journeys and Stories / Matthew Hancock and Amanda Tomlin, Pocket Rough Guide Porto / Lonely Planet Portugal / Rough Guide Portugal / Jürgen Strohmeyer, Nordportugal (Müller Verlag) / Matthew Hancock, Xenophobe’s Guide to the Portuguese / Fernando Pessoa, Message / Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

 

 

On a Clear Day You Can See Forever | João Louro

 

 

 

 

 

Canada Slim and the Secret Beauty

Landschlacht, Switzerland, Saturday 2 May 2020 (Lockdown Day #47)

Easter, 1916 is a poem by W. B. Yeats describing the poet’s torn emotions regarding the events of the Easter Rising staged in Ireland against British rule on Easter Monday 24 April 1916.

 

Contextualizing Yeats - Literary Analyses - Medium

The uprising was unsuccessful and most of the Irish republican leaders involved were executed for treason.

The poem was written between May and September 1916, but first published in 1921 in the collection Michael Robartes and the Dancer.

 

Michael Robartes and the Dancer eBook by William Butler Yeats ...

 

Even though a committed nationalist, Yeats usually rejected violence as a means to secure Irish independence, and as a result had strained relations with some of the figures who eventually led the uprising.

 

Easter Proclamation of 1916.png

 

The deaths of these revolutionary figures at the hands of the British, however, was as much a shock to Yeats as it was to ordinary Irish people at the time, who did not expect the events to take such a bad turn so soon.

Yeats was working through his feelings about the revolutionary movement in this poem, and the insistent refrain that “a terrible beauty is born” turned out to be prescient, as the execution of the leaders of the Easter Rising by the British had the opposite effect to that intended.

The killings led to a reinvigoration of the Irish Republican movement rather than its dissipation.

An independent Ireland was a needed and beautiful thing, but it came at a terrible Price.

Because it came at a terrible price, freedom was and remains a precious and beautiful thing worth understanding, worth remembering, worth preserving.

 

Above: William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)

 

This idea of beauty emerging out of ugliness, of something positive reborn from something horrific, of a quiet and ceaseless survival regardless of what occurs, sums up somewhat both these days of lockdown in much of Switzerland that is still ongoing, and a visit a few years ago to an oasis where one should not be in the heart of the great metropolis of London.

 

Switzerland to relax coronavirus lockdown for professional and ...

 

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

The disease was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province, and has since spread globally, resulting in the ongoing 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic.

As of 29 April 2020, more than 3.11 million cases have been reported across 185 countries and territories, resulting in more than 217,000 deaths.

More than 932,000 people have recovered.

 

Bern scientists claim coronavirus breakthrough - SWI swissinfo.ch

 

The 2019–2020 coronavirus pandemic was confirmed to have spread to Switzerland on 25 February 2020 when the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed following a COVID-19 outbreak in Italy.

A 70-year-old man in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino which borders Italy, tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

The man had previously visited Milan.

Afterwards, multiple cases related to the Italy clusters were discovered in multiple cantons, including Basel-City, Zürich and Graubünden.

Multiple isolated cases not related to the Italy clusters were also subsequently confirmed.

 

Coronavirus in Switzerland: New cases push total above 370 - The Local

 

On 28 February, the national government, the Federal Council, banned all events with more than 1,000 participants.

 

Coronavirus puts Swiss political system to the test | Financial Times

 

On 16 March, schools and most shops were closed nationwide, and on 20 March, all gatherings of more than five people in public spaces were banned.

 

Coronavirus cases are spreading in Switzerland - SWI swissinfo.ch

 

Additionally, the government gradually imposed restrictions on border crossings and announced economic support measures worth 40 billion Swiss francs.

 

Coronavirus: 56,000 turned away from Swiss border due to lockdown ...

 

As well, the Federal Council announced further measures, and a revised ordinance.

Measures include the closure of bars, shops and other gathering places until 19 April, but leaves open certain essentials, such as grocery shops, pharmacies, (a reduced) public transport and the postal service.

 

New coronavirus: decisions of the federal and cantonal authorities ...

 

The government announced a 42 billion CHF rescue package for the economy, which includes money to replace lost wages for employed and self-employed people, short-term loans to businesses, delay for payments to the government, and support for cultural and sport organizations.

 

New 100 Swiss franc note coming soon

 

On 20 March, the government announced that no lockdown would be implemented, but all events or meetings over five people were prohibited.

Economic activities would continue including construction.

Those measures were prolonged until 26 April 2020.

 

Government warns not to underestimate coronavirus - SWI swissinfo.ch

 

On 16 April 2020, Switzerland announced that the country will ease restrictions in a three-step, gradual way.

The first step will begin on 27 April, for those who work in close contact with others, but not in large numbers.

Surgeons, dentists, day care workers, hairdressers, massage and beauty salons can be opened with safety procedures applied.

DIY stores, garden centres, florists and food shops that also sell other goods can also be opened.

 

Coronavirus lockdown debate highlights Switzerland's cultural and ...

 

The second step will begin on 11 May, assuming the first step is implemented without problems, at which time other shops and schools can be opened.

 

Buying Swiss books comes at a price - SWI swissinfo.ch

 

The third step begin on 8 June with the easing of restrictions on gastronomy, vocational schools, universities, museums, zoos and libraries.

 

Abbey Library St. Gallen, Switzerland (Image is by Candida Hoffer ...

 

Since St. Patrick’s Day 2020, I have been, for the most part, housebound, with no real place to go, no borders to cross, no planes to catch, no books to buy or borrow, no workplace to work at.

 

(My wife has been more fortunate in that she is a medical doctor so her services are not only wanted but crucial.)

 

With nowhere to go, planes are grounded and highways have less traffic than they once did and trains ride the rails half empty.

 

Switzerland cautions against international holidays 'until 2021 ...

 

We are in lockdown because it is believed that we can “flatten the curve” and reduce the numbers of people getting infected by the pandemic.

 

 

People are sick, some are dying or have died, hospitals are full and people have become paranoid about social distancing and germ transmission – the more cases in a canton, the more extreme the caution.

 

First coronavirus death recorded in Switzerland - SWI swissinfo.ch

 

These are dark days and times that try a man’s temperament, but there is an upside to all of this.

The worldwide disruption caused due to the 2019–20 corona virus pandemic has resulted in numerous impacts on the environment and the climate.

The severe decline in planned travel has caused many regions to experience a drop in air pollution.

 

In China, lockdowns and other measures resulted in a 25% reduction in carbon emissions, which one Earth systems scientist estimated may have saved at least 77,000 lives over two months.

 

 

However, the outbreak has also disrupted environmental diplomacy efforts, including causing the postponement of the 2020 United Nations Climate Change Conference, and the economic fallout from it is predicted to slow investment in green energy technologies.

 

2020 UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP26)

 

Up to 2020, increases in the amount of greenhouse gases produced since the beginning of the industrialization epoch caused average global temperatures on the Earth to rise, causing effects including the melting of glaciers and rising sea levels.

In various forms, human activity caused environmental degradation, an anthropogenic impact.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, measures that were expected to be recommended to health authorities in the case of a pandemic included quarantines and social distancing.

Independently, also prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers argued that reduced economic activity would help decrease global warming, air and marine pollution, allowing the environment to slowly flourish.

Due to the corona virus outbreak’s impact on travel and industry, many regions experienced a drop in air pollution.

Reducing air pollution can reduce both climate change and COVID-19 risks but it is not yet clear which types of air pollution (if any) are common risks to both climate change and COVID-19.

 

Above: Schematic drawing, causes and effects of air pollution: (1) greenhouse effect, (2) particulate contamination, (3) increased UV radiation, (4) acid rain, (5) increased ground-level ozone concentration, (6) increased levels of nitrogen oxides.

 

 

The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air reported that methods to contain the spread of the corona virus, such as quarantines and travel bans, resulted in a 25% reduction of carbon emission in China.

In the first month of lockdowns, China produced approximately 200 million fewer metric tons of carbon dioxide than the same period in 2019, due to the reduction in air traffic, oil refining, and coal consumption.

As aforementioned, one Earth systems scientist estimated that this reduction may have saved at least 77,000 lives.

About us - Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air

However, Sarah Ladislaw from the Center for Strategic & International Studies argued that reductions in emissions due to economic downturns should not be seen as beneficial, stating that China’s attempts to return to previous rates of growth amidst trade wars and supply chain disruptions in the energy market will worsen its environmental impact.

 

Center for Strategic and International Studies Careers and ...

 

Between 1 January and 11 March 2020, the European Space Agency observed a marked decline in nitrous oxide emissions from cars, power plants and factories in the Po Valley region in northern Italy, coinciding with lockdowns in the region.

European Space Agency logo - World Summit AI Amsterdam

The reduction in motor vehicle traffic has led to a drop in air pollution levels.

NASA and ESA have been monitoring how the nitrogen dioxide gases dropped significantly during the initial Chinese phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The economic slowdown from the virus drastically dropped pollution levels, especially in cities like Wuhan, China by 25%.

NASA uses a ozone monitoring instrument (OMI) to analyze and observe the ozone layer and pollutants such as NO2, aerosols and others.

This instrument helped NASA to process and interpret the data coming in due to the lockdowns worldwide.

 

NASA insignia - Wikipedia

 

According to NASA scientists, the drop in NO2 pollution began in Wuhan, China and slowly spread to the rest of the world.

The drop was also very drastic because the virus coincided with the same time of year as the lunar year celebrations in China.

For this festival, factories and businesses close for the last week of January to celebrate the lunar year festival.

The drop in NO2 in China did not achieve an air quality of the standard considered acceptable by health authorities.

 

 

Other pollutants in the air such as aerosol emissions remained.

 

In Venice, the water in the canals cleared and experienced greater water flow and visibility of fish.

The Venice mayor’s office clarified that the increase in water clarity was due to the settling of sediment that is disturbed by boat traffic and mentioned the decrease in air pollution along the waterways.

Demand for fish and fish prices have both decreased due to the pandemic,and fishing fleets around the world sit mostly idle.

Rainer Froese has said the fish biomass will increase due to the sharp decline in fishing and projected that in European waters, some fish such as herring could double their biomass.

As of April 2020, signs of aquatic recovery remain mostly anecdotal.

 

COVID-19 Symposium: The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Limits of ...

 

Nature is returning, but it took a pandemic to make this terrible beauty possible.

 

A COVID-19 vaccine is a hypothetical vaccine against corona virus disease 2019 (COVID‑19).

Although no vaccine has completed clinical trials, there are multiple attempts in progress to develop such a vaccine.

 

Could the MMR vaccine help protect against coronavirus ...

 

In late February 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it did not expect a vaccine against severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative virus, to become available in less than 18 months.

 

File:World Health Organization Logo.svg - Wikimedia Commons

 

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) – which is organizing a US $2 billion worldwide fund for rapid investment and development of vaccine candidates – indicated in April that a vaccine may be available under emergency use protocols in less than 12 months or by early 2021.

 

Hans Brattskar on Twitter: "The Coalition for Epidemic ...

 

A vaccine is a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity to a particular infectious disease.

A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe, its toxins, or one of its surface proteins.

The agent stimulates the body’s immune system to recognize the agent as a threat, destroy it, and to further recognize and destroy any of the microorganisms associated with that agent that it may encounter in the future.

 

 

Vaccines can be prophylactic (to prevent or ameliorate the effects of a future infection by a natural or “wild” pathogen), or therapeutic (e.g., vaccines against cancer, which are being investigated).

The administration of vaccines is called vaccination.

Vaccination is the most effective method of preventing infectious diseases.

Widespread immunity due to vaccination is largely responsible for the worldwide eradication of smallpox and the restriction of diseases such as polio, measles and tetanus from much of the world.

 

SalkatPitt.jpg

Above: Jonas Salk at the University of Pittsburgh where he developed the first polio vaccine

 

The effectiveness of vaccination has been widely studied and verified.

For example, vaccines that have proven effective include the influenza vaccine, the HPV vaccine and the chicken pox vaccine.

 

Above: A child with measles, a vaccine-preventable disease

 

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that licensed vaccines are currently available for twenty-five different preventable infections.

 

The terms vaccine and vaccination are derived from Variolae vaccinae (smallpox of the cow), the term devised by Edward Jenner to denote cowpox.

He used it in 1798 in the long title of his Inquiry into the Variolae vaccinae Known as the Cow Pox, in which he described the protective effect of cowpox against smallpox.

 

Above: Jenner’s handwritten draft of the first vaccination

 

In 1881, to honor Jenner, Louis Pasteur (1822 – 1895) proposed that the terms should be extended to cover the new protective inoculations then being developed.

 

Louis Pasteur, foto av Paul Nadar, Crisco edit.jpg

 

If (and this is a big IF) I understand the concept of vaccines and vaccinations at all, it is necessary to somehow find microbes that can invade a body, inducing its immune system to fight them by releasing antibodies.

After infection, the immune system “remembers” those microbes and if it encounters them again it quickly produces antibodies to prevent the body from attack.

Vaccination induces immunity artificially by imitating an infection, but without causing illness.

 

 

An essential part of modern medicine, vaccines have been developed against many dangerous infectious diseases.

It was widely known in ancient times that the body develops natural resistance to diseases.

The earliest attempts to induce immunity artificially may date back more than 2,000 years in India, but the idea of vaccination as an established legitimate treatment did not rise to popular consciousness until Edward Jenner.

 

Edward Jenner. Oil painting. Wellcome V0023503.jpg

Above: Edward Jenner (1749 – 1823)

 

Jenner was a successful country physician-surgeon in Berkeley, Southwest England, as well as a talented naturalist.

He had undergone variolation – wherein an infection is rubbed into cuts in the skin of an uninfected person – in his youth, which had made him ill for a time.

 

As a country doctor, Jenner was aware of the common belief that catching cowpox somehow gave protection against smallpox.

Very few milkmaids and cattle herdsmen seemed to suffer from the latter.

In 1798, Jenner published An Enquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolae Vaccinae: A Disease Discovered in Some of the Western Counties of England, Particularly Gloucestershire, and Known by the Name of the Cow Pox, which described his treatment of 23 patients by first vaccinating them with cowpox material and then giving them smallpox.

He noted that after the cowpox vaccine his patients did not catch smallpox.

 

Above: Jenner’s discovery of the link between cowpox pus and smallpox in humans helped him to create the smallpox vaccine

 

So, in essence, researchers are looking for a similar solution.

They need to discover the source of the original outbreak, develop a variant of the virus and hope that it builds an immunity to the particular corona virus that plagues the planet at present.

This will take a lot of time, effort and money.

 

How many people have been tested for coronavirus in Switzerland ...

 

The smallpox vaccine did not come from herbal remedies or old wives’ recipes of certain food or drink, but from a variation of the disease itself.

But nevertheless it was partially the role of Jenner as naturalist – a man who studies nature – I believe to be beneficial in defeating and eradicating this infamous disease in history.

Smallpox has featured in all of recorded history, killed billions and inflicted lasting suffering on billions more.

By studying nature Jenner became a legend in the field of medicine.

 

Child with Smallpox Bangladesh.jpg

Above: This young girl in Bangladesh was infected with smallpox in 1973.

Freedom from smallpox was declared in Bangladesh in December, 1977 when a WHO International Commission officially certified that smallpox had been eradicated from that country.

 

The ability of viruses to cause devastating epidemics in human societies has led to the concern that viruses could be weaponised for biological warfare.

Further concern was raised by the successful recreation of the infamous 1918 influenza virus in a laboratory.

Smallpox virus devastated numerous societies throughout history before its eradication.

There are only two centres in the world authorised by the WHO to keep stocks of smallpox virus: the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology VECTOR in Russia and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.

It may be used as a weapon, as the vaccine for smallpox sometimes had severe side-effects, it is no longer used routinely in any country.

 

Thus, much of the modern human population has almost no established resistance to smallpox and would be vulnerable to the virus.

 

 

The corona virus is primarily spread between people during close contact, often via small droplets produced by coughing, sneezing, or talking.

The droplets usually fall to the ground or onto surfaces rather than remaining in the air over long distances.

People may also become infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching their face.

In experimental settings, the virus may survive on surfaces for up to 72 hours.

It is most contagious during the first three days after the onset of symptoms, although spread may be possible before symptoms appear and in later stages of the disease.

 

Cough/sneeze droplets visualised in dark background using Tyndall scattering

 

In the case of the corona virus, it is suspected that the virus is zoonotic in nature – that it may have travelled from animal to man.

The question then is:

How did the animal that first infected a person itself get infected?

But where did the first animal catch the disease?

 

Above: Possibilities for zoonotic disease transmissions

 

Some scientists speculate that animals catch viruses by eating – perhaps food fouled by other animal feces.

So, an examination of the animals around Wuhan and their diet might give us a better notion of what caused the virus in them and perhaps offer a partial solution towards its prevention.

 

Why wild animals are a key ingredient in China's coronavirus outbreak

 

Imagine a cave of bats and one bat infected one farmer and the farmer took the disease to Wuhan.

Where did the bat catch the virus?

Was only the one bat infected?

If so,why?

Was it something it ate?

 

China bans wildlife trade, consumption because of coronavirus ...

 

It is through the study of both plant and animal life (flora and fauna) that mankind has learned much about medicine as well as the causes and cures of disease.

The profession of apothecary – the formulation and dispensation of drugs to the sick – dates back to at least 2500 BC.

Skilled medics in their own right, apothecaries prepared medical remedies with herbs stored on their own premises.

 

 

We must be careful to distinguish what a virus is.

A virus is a submicroscopic infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of an organism.

Viruses can infect all types of life forms, from animals and plants to microorganisms, including bacteria and archaea.

 

A photograph of the upper body of a man labelled with the names of viruses that infect the different parts

 

Since Dmitri Ivanovsky’s 1892 article describing a non-bacterial pathogen infecting tobacco plants, and the discovery of the tobacco mosaic virus by Martinus Beijerinck (1851 – 1931) in 1898, more than 6,000 virus species have been described in detail, of the millions of types of viruses in the environment.

 

An old, bespectacled man wearing a suit and sitting at a bench by a large window. The bench is covered with small bottles and test tubes. On the wall behind him is a large old-fashioned clock below which are four small enclosed shelves on which sit many neatly labelled bottles.

 

Viruses are found in almost every ecosystem on Earth and are the most numerous type of biological entity.

 

The study of viruses is known as virology, a subspeciality of microbiology.

When infected, a host cell is forced to rapidly produce thousands of identical copies of the original virus.

When not inside an infected cell or in the process of infecting a cell, viruses exist in the form of independent particles, or virions, consisting of:

(i) the genetic material, i.e. long molecules of DNA or RNA that encode the structure of the proteins by which the virus acts

(ii) a protein coat, the capsid, which surrounds and protects the genetic material

and in some cases

(iii) an outside envelope of lipids.

The shapes of these virus particles range from simple helical and icosahedral forms to more complex structures.

Most virus species have virions too small to be seen with an optical microscope as they are one hundredth the size of most bacteria.

 

An electron micrograph of the virus that caused Spanish influenza

Above: Transmission electron microscope image of a recreated 1918 influenza virus

This negative stained transmission electron micrograph (TEM) showed recreated 1918 influenza virions that were collected from the supernatant of a 1918-infected Madin-Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cell culture 18 hours after infection.

In order to sequester these virions, the MDCK cells were spun down (centrifugation), and the 1918 virus present in the fluid was immediately fixed for negative staining.

Dr. Terrence Tumpey, one of the organization’s staff microbiologists and a member of the National Center for Infectious Diseases (NCID), recreated the 1918 influenza virus in order to identify the characteristics that made this organism such a deadly pathogen.

Research efforts such as this enables researchers to develop new vaccines and treatments for future pandemic influenza viruses.

 

Flu Fighter: Terrence Tumpey, Ph.D. | Pandemic Influenza (Flu) | CDC

 

The 1918 Spanish flu epidemic was caused by an influenza A (H1N1) virus, killing more than 500,000 people in the United States and up to 50 million worldwide.

The possible source was a newly emerged virus from a swine or an avian host of a mutated H1N1 virus.

Many people died within the first few days after infection and others died of complications later.

Nearly half of those who died were young, healthy adults.

 

Coronavirus: What can we learn from the Spanish flu? - BBC Future

 

Influenza A (H1N1) viruses still circulate today after being introduced again into the human population in the 1970s.

 

 

The origins of viruses in the evolutionary history of life are unclear:

Some may have evolved from plasmids—pieces of DNA that can move between cells—while others may have evolved from bacteria.

 

Plasmid - Wikipedia

 

In evolution, viruses are an important means of horizontal gene transfer, which increases genetic diversity in a way analogous to sexual reproduction.

 

Viruses are considered by some biologists to be a life form, because they carry genetic material, reproduce, and evolve through natural selection, although they lack key characteristics (such as cell structure) that are generally considered necessary to count as life.

Because they possess some but not all such qualities, viruses have been described as “organisms at the edge of life” and as replicators.

 

Coronavirus : le virus aurait muté en une version plus agressive ...

 

Viruses are the most abundant biological entity in aquatic environments. 

There are about ten million of them in a teaspoon of seawater.

 

Most Life is Microbial Heading – Bacteria, Image 1 – Bacteria ...

 

The corona virus is described as novel, because we ain’t seen nothing like it before.

 

And Now For Something Completely Different | Monty python, Monty ...

 

Viruses spread in many ways.

 

One transmission pathway is through disease-bearing organisms known as vectors:

For example, viruses are often transmitted from plant to plant by insects that feed on plant sap, such as aphids.

 

What Are Aphids | Aphid Insect Facts, Habitat & Control Options

 

Viruses in animals can be carried by blood-sucking insects.

 

Heavy rains put Kenya at risk of mosquito-borne diseases

 

Influenza viruses (which the corona virus is) are spread by coughing and sneezing.

 

Germs from coughs and sneezes travel far | Health Calling

 

Norovirus and rotavirus, common causes of viral Gastroenteritis (stomach flu), are transmitted by the faecal–oral route, passed by contact and entering the body in food or water.

 

Viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu) - Symptoms and causes - Mayo ...

 

HIV is one of several viruses transmitted through sexual contact and by exposure to infected blood.

 

What Are HIV and AIDS? | HIV.gov

 

The variety of host cells that a virus can infect is called its “host range“.

 

This means a virus is capable of infecting a few species or many.

 

Viral infections in animals provoke an immune response that usually eliminates the infecting virus.

 

Swiss start-ups hope to slow climate change with cow burps - SWI ...

 

Immune responses can also be produced by vaccines, which confer an artificially acquired immunity to the specific viral infection.

 

Understanding immunisation and why a Covid-19 vaccine is no magic ...

 

Some viruses, including those that cause AIDS, HPV infection, and viral hepatitis, evade these immune responses and result in chronic infections.

Several antiviral drugs have been developed.

 

Antiviral drugs are a class of medication used for treating viral infections.

Most antivirals target specific viruses, while a broad-spectrum antiviral is effective against a wide range of viruses.

Unlike most antibiotics, antiviral drugs do not destroy their target pathogen.

Instead they inhibit their development.

 

New uses for existing antiviral drugs - European Pharmaceutical Review

 

Antiviral drugs are one class of antimicrobials, a larger group which also includes antibiotic (also termed antibacterial), antifungal and antiparasitic drugs, or antiviral drugs based on monoclonal antibodies (aka the Jenner method).

Most antivirals are considered relatively harmless to the host, and therefore can be used to treat infections.

 

antiviral drugs - Ultima

 

They should be distinguished from viricides, which are not medication, but deactivate or destroy virus particles, either inside or outside the body.

Natural viricides are produced by some plants, such as eucalyptus and Australian tea trees.

 

The Australian Eucalyptus tree is one of the fastest growing trees ...

 

So, as important as it is to find – and find it fast – a vaccine to combat this virus using the virus against itself, I think it is also a good idea – afterwards or concurrently – if greater study of plant life is done to prevent and treat viruses of this and other types.

 

What if we could identify infected plants?

What if we could find plants that help fight viruses along with vaccines?

 

Let me frank.

I am no botanist, chemist, or any type of scientist, no farmer or even florist.

 

Amazon.com: Adult Dunce Cap: Clothing

 

For me, generally a plant is edible or inedible, functional or decorative.

I eat fruit and vegetables.

I eat animals that eat fruit and vegetables.

I see trees and lawns and flowerpots from my window.

I see wildflowers and farmers fields and orchards during my daily walks.

 

Image may contain: 1 person

 

When florists resume business I shall occasionally buy my wife a floral arrangement, either as a curative against some stupidity I have done or as a preventative to avoid drama during an emotional time in her life.

I do this for myself as much as for her!

 

Selbstständig machen als Florist: so eröffnest du deinen ...

 

It would be a lie to suggest that I give flora the full attention, respect and praise that it is due.

But for one moment on one vacation when my wife brought me to London to play tourist while she mostly attended a medical conference, I began to consider an amazing universe I had previously ignored.

 

Welcome to London - visitlondon.com

 

London, England, Thursday 26 October 2017

The world continued to circle the sun and men do what men do wherever they may be found.

 

Why the Earth Rotates Around the Sun

 

While my wife was attending her medical conference and I was exploring the city on my own…..

 

Medical Review Schools Conference - IRXP - Middle-East & Asia ...

 

Meanwhile:

  • Twitter banned all ads from Russian news agencies RT and Sputnik, based on US intelligence’s conclusion that both attempted to interfere with the 2016 US presidential election on behalf of the Russian government.

 

Twitter Logo Vector (.EPS) Free Download

 

  • An explosion in a fireworks plant, located west of the Indonesian capital Jakarta killed at least 47 and injured 35.

 

Indonesian Fireworks Factory Explosion Kills Dozens - The New York ...

 

  • Four people (three military conscripts and a train passenger) were killed and four conscripts injured after a passenger train collided with an off-road military truck in Raseborg, Finland.

 

4 Killed After Train Crash in Finland - Novinite.com - Sofia News ...

 

  • A Russian Mi-8 helicopter crashed into the sea off Svalbard with eight people reported missing.

 

Russian chopper raised from Norwegian isle on Arctic seabed | News ...

 

 

  • At least two Catalan officials defected from the ruling Junta pel Si party as Catalan President Carles Puigdemont cancelled a speech regarding snap elections and planned to draw back from declaring independence from Spain.

 

Estelada - Wikipedia

 

  • Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte presented his 3rd cabinet, which took a record of 225 days of negotiations to form the government composed of VVD, D66, CDA and CU parties.

 

Flag of the Netherlands - Wikipedia

 

  • The Trump Administration’s Department of Justice settled two lawsuits which alleged that the Obama Administration’s Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups.

 

Need Tax Help? IRS Has an Online Help Desk | CPA Practice Advisor

 

  • Nearly 3,000 files related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 were released, while US President Donald Trump ordered others to be withheld citing national security concerns.

 

JFK documents could show the truth about a diplomat's death 47 ...

 

  • Voters to Kenya went to the polls following the annulment of the results in the Kenyan general election – President Uhuru Kenyatta won with a 98% majority following an opposition boycott.

 

Flag of Kenya - Wikipedia

 

  • Venezuela’s democratic opposition won the Sakharov Prize, the European Union’s top human rights award.

 

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought

 

I search for simple pleasures for the simple man that I am.

 

I find myself in the London neighbourhood of Chelsea and I find it hard to imagine that until the 16th century Chelsea was nothing more than a tiny fishing village on the banks of the Thames centred around Chelsea Old Church.

 

Multi-coloured street of houses in Chelsea, London - The Owners Forum

 

It was royal advisor Thomas More (1478 – 1535) who started the upward trend by moving here in 1520, followed by members of the nobility, including King Henry VIII himself.

 

St. Thomas More: A man for all seasons | Faith Magazine

 

In the 18th century, Chelsea acquired its riverside houses along Cheyne Walk, which gradually attracted a posse of literary and intellectual types.

However, it was not until the late 19th century that the area began to earn its reputation as London’s very own Left Bank.

 

Cheyne Walk, Chelsea: A Literary Walk – Crumbs of Rain

 

In the 1960s, Chelsea was at the forefront of “swinging London“, with the likes of David Bailey, Mick Jagger, George Best and the “Chelsea Set” hanging out in the boutiques and coffee bars.

 

What Was Swinging London? Mods, Miniskirts & Music In '60s England

 

Later, King’s Road became a catwalk for hippies and in the late 1970s it was the unlikely epicentre of the punk explosion.

London Punk Tapes by Actar Publishers - issuu

Men wearing red trousers is about as countercultural as it gets in Chelsea nowadays, with franchise fashion rather than cutting edge couture the order of the day, though some of its residents like to think of themselves as a cut above the purely moneyed types of Kensington.

 

Red men's trousers: The scarlet trousers that have been branded a ...

 

That said, King’s Road remains one of the better, more interesting shopping streets outside the West End and is well stocked with restaurants, while at its eastern end are two champions of contemporary and undiscovered art and theatre, the Saatchi Gallery and Royal Court Theatre respectively.

 

King's Road – Wikipedia

 

The area’s other aspects, oddly enough considering its reputation, is a military one, with the former Chelsea Barracks, the Royal Hospital and the National Army Museum.

 

Chelsea Barracks Opens to the Public for the First Time in 150 ...

 

And so, it is the litterati and artists, musicians and the military that grab the gaze of most London visitors.

Here in Chelsea the visitor can find:

  • the Royal Court Theatre, a bastion of new theatre writing since John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger sent tremors through the Establishment in 1956.

 

The Royal Court Theatre Recipient of 50/50 Applause Award for ...

 

  • the Peter Jones department store, London’s finest glass curtain building

 

Peter Jones (department store) - Wikipedia

 

  • Holy Trinity, the finest arts and crafts church in London.

 

Holy Trinity, Sloane Street - Wikiwand

 

  • Saatchi Gallery, with changing exhibitions of contemporary art, much of it by largely unknown young artists, in 15 equally proportioned, whitewashed rooms.

 

Saatchi Gallery

 

  • Number 30 Wellington Square, the fictional address of a comfortable ground floor flat of one “Bond, James Bond“.

 

Bond, James Bond, 30 Wellington Square | London apartment, London ...

 

  • World’s End, once upon a time 1970s Let It Rock renamed SEX and then renamed again Seditionaries,  with its landmark backwards running clock, continues to offer the eclectic to the eccentric.

 

The World's End Pub. King's Road, Chelsea, | London places, London

 

  • Royal Hospital Chelsea is so odd that it fits perfectly within Chelsea, for here:

Book of Remembrance | Royal Hospital Chelsea

    • Scarlet and navy blue army veterans (the Chelsea Pensioners) parade up and down King’s Road

Datei:Chelsea-pensioners.jpg – Wikipedia

 

      • (And on 29 May – wearing tricorn hats and carrying a gilded statue of Charles I festooned with oak leaves –  commemorate the day after the disastrous 1651 Battle of Worchester, when the future King hid in an oak tree to escape his pursuers)

 

Four Chelsea Pensioners die from coronavirus at British Army ...

 

(1 May 2020: Sadly, four Pensioners have died from the corona virus pandemic.)

 

    • Here one finds a fresco in the hospital chapel of Jesus patriotically bearing the flag of St. George, the standard of England

 

The Chapel, The Royal Hospital, Chelsea | The painting of th… | Flickr

 

    • Here in the hospital’s Ranelagh Gardens (once called “London’s pleasure gardens“) is held the world’s finest horticultural event, the Chelsea Flower Show, with over 150,000 visitors over two days.

 

Climate solutions blooming at Chelsea Flower Show

 

(1 May 2020: Both the Pensioners’ Parade and the Flower Show will not happen this year of the Pandemic.)

 

  • Cheyne (pronounced “chainy“) Walk boasts the most blue plaques in a single street, for here lived:

Cheyne Walk - Wikiwand

 

    • Novelist Henry James (#21)(1843 – 1916)

 

Henry James (Author of The Turn of the Screw)

 

    • Novelist Mary Ann Evans (better known by her penname “George Eliot“)(1819 – 1880)(#4)

 

25 Inspiring George Eliot Quotes That Hold Precious Bits of Life ...

 

    • Poet / playwright Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900)(#1 and #34)

 

Detektiv findet gestohlenen Ring von Oscar Wilde - TOP ONLINE

 

    • Composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 – 1958)(#13)

 

Ralph Vaughan Williams | British composer | Britannica

 

    • Rolling Stone Mick Jagger (#48)

 

Mick Jagger - Wikipedia

 

    • Rolling Stone Keith Richards (#3)

 

Keith Richards – Wikipedia

 

    • Painter James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834 – 1903)(#96)

 

James Abbott McNeill Whistler | HiSoUR Kunst Kultur Ausstellung

 

    • Engineer Marc Isambard Brunel (1769 – 1849) and his son, engineer Isambard  Kingdom Brunel (1806 – 1859)(#99)

 

Sir Marc Brunel - New Insights | Visit Bristol's No.1 Attraction ...

Above: Marc Isambard Brunel

 

Late great engineers: Isambard Kingdom Brunel | The Engineer The ...

Above: Isambard Kingdom Brunel

 

    • Painter J.M.W. (Joseph Mallord William) Turner (1775 – 1851)(#119)

 

J. M. W. Turner - Wikipedia

 

    • Historian Thomas Carlyle (1795 – 1881)(#24)

 

Thomas Carlyle biography, quotes, publications and books | toolshero

 

(Caryle’s House is a museum today.)

 

Carlyle's House, Chelsea | Historic London Guide

 

  • Chelsea Old Church, where one finds a garish gilded statue of Thomas More (“Scholar, Statesman, Saint“), Lady Cheyne’s memorial and More’s first wife’s (Jane Colt) memorial.

 

Chelsea Old Church - A London Inheritance

 

Statue of Thomas More outside Chelsea Old Church - Picture of ...

 

File:Chelsea Old Church, Lady Cheyne monument Raggi sculpture.jpg ...

 

Chelsea Old Church - 'Discovering Tudor London', by Natalie ...

 

  • Crosby Hall, once owned by More and once occupied by the future King Richard III (1452 – 1485)(and used as a setting by William Shakespeare) is now privately owned but visible from Cheyne Walk.

 

Crosby Hall: Private Collection Visit | Event | Royal Academy of Arts

 

Richard III | Biography & Facts | Britannica

Above: King Richard III (1452 – 1485)

 

  • Nearby Brompton Cemetery, close to the Chelsea Football Club, here one can find the graves of:

 

    • Frederick Richards Leyland (1831 – 1892)(president of the National Telephone Company)(His final resting place resembles a bizarre copper green jewel box on stilts, smothered with swirling wrought ironwork)

 

Frederick Richards Leyland - Wikipedia

 

Frederick Leyland's grave | Brompton Cemetery | July 2018-… | Flickr

 

    • Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst (1831 – 1892)

The Pankhurst Anthem: Song written for women's vote centenary ...

Emmeline Pankhurst - Brompton Cemetery - The Royal Parks

 

    • Henry Cole (1808 – 1882)(the man behind the Great Exhibition and the V & A Museum / inventor of the first commercial Christmas card)

 

File:Henry Cole, Lock & Whitfield woodburytype, 1876-84.jpg ...

 

The History of the Christmas Card | History | Smithsonian Magazine

 

Sir Henry Cole - Brompton Cemetery - The Royal Parks

 

    • Fanny Brawne (1800 – 1865)(the love of poet John Keats’ life)

 

Fanny Brawne - Wikiwand

 

Fanny Brawne's grave at Brompton Cemetery – Keats Locations

 

    • John Snow (1813 – 1858)(Queen Victoria’s anaesthetist)

 

John Snow :: About John Snow

 

Dr John Snow - Brompton Cemetery - The Royal Parks

 

    • And the now empty gravesite of Long Wolf (1843 – 1923)(a Sioux Indian chief who died in London while on tour with Buffalo Bill Cody’s travelling Wild West Show)(The Chief’s body has since been returned to his descendants in America.).

 

Chief Long Wolf - Brompton Cemetery - The Royal Parks

 

Chief Long Wolf - Brompton Cemetery - The Royal Parks

 

  • By Putney Bridge, Fulham Palace, once the largest moated site in all of England, (sadly the moat was filled in in 1921) was the residence of the Bishop of London from 704 to 1973 and features a museum containing a mummified rat, as well as a garden with a maze made of miniature box hedges.

 

Fulham Palace £70,000 away from completing restoration funding | LBHF

 

I will say no more of these things, for I know no more of these things having not seen them myself.

What I have seen and thus the subject of this post was a botanical bounty near the banks of the Thames, the Chelsea Physic Garden.

Horticulturalists and herbalists will delight in this enchanting walled garden containing around 5,000 plant species from all over the world.

It is a rather small garden and a little too close to the Chelsea Embankment to be a peaceful oasis, but it is enjoyable nonetheless even for those uninterested in botany.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden – Wikipedia

 

Plants are everywhere.

They live in almost every surface on Earth, from the highest mountains to the lowest valleys, from the coldest and driest environments to some of the hottest and wettest places on our planet.

Nobody knows for certain how many species of plants there actually are.

So far, scientists have counted about 425,000, but more are being discovered every day.

There are clear patterns as to where on Earth plants thrive best and the conditions they need.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden - Garten - visitlondon.com

 

Understanding these patterns is crucial to preserving all forms of life on Earth, including us.

 

Our partner gardens | Chelsea Physic Garden

 

Because without plants there would be no humans.

 

Plants can survive without humans but... - Seedlings for SALE ...

 

Plants create and regulate the air we breathe.

They provide us with food, medicines, textiles to make our clothes and materials to build our homes.

 

February

 

So how did the Earth reach the diversity and variety of plant life we see today?

What did the first plants look like?

What are the biggest, smallest, weirdiest and smelliest plants on the planet?

 

Earth Overshoot Day 2019 is July 29 - Environment - Trends ...

 

Wander through the Chelsea Physic Garden and all will be revealed!

 

Chelsea Physic Garden (next time). | London garden, Beautiful ...

 

The Garden’s collection was founded in 1673 by the Society of Apothecaries to study the medicinal properties of plants and was jealously guarded until 1983 it became a registered charity and was opened to the general public for the first time.

It is the oldest botanical garden in the country after Oxford’s and Edinburgh’s.

The Garden is a member of the London Museums of Health and Medicine and is listed in the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England by English Heritage.

English Heritage Trust, The | Charities | Law Gazette

The first cedars grown in England were planted here in 1683.

 

The oldest cedar tree in Lebanon: about 3000 years old. | Lebanon ...

 

Cotton seed was sent from here to the American colonies in 1732.

 

Top End and Ord Valley cotton strengthens as national production ...

 

England’s first rock garden was constructed here in 1773.

 

The Pond Rockery at Chelsea Physic Garden - YouTube

 

Britain’s oldest and largest olive tree is here, protected by the Garden’s heat-trapping high brick walls, along with what is probably the world’s northernmost grapefruit growing outdoors.

 

File:The Olive tree at Chelses Physic Garden.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Chelsea Physic Garden Grapefruit

 

This extraordinary place has had a wide-reaching impact around the world, becoming at its peak, during the 1700s, the most important centre for plant exchange on the planet.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden - Wikipedia

 

The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries initially founded the Garden on a leased site of Sir John Danvers’ well-established garden in Chelsea, London.

This house, called Danvers House, adjoined the Mansion that had once been the house of Sir Thomas More.

Danvers House was pulled down in 1696 to make room for Danvers Street.

The site was chosen for its proximity to the river, which at the time was the most important transport route in London and allowed the Apothecaries to moor their barge and carry out botanising expeditions to surrounding areas.

The site also offered a south-facing aspect and well-managed soil, having been within an area of market gardens.

 

CHELSEA PHYSIC GARDEN, Kensington and Chelsea - 1000147 | Historic ...

 

 

The Apothecaries appointed John Watts as their first Curator in 1680 and charged him with growing and maintaining the recognized medicinal herbs of the day.

During Watts’ stewardship the first greenhouse appeared in the Garden, which was heated with an external stove and glazed on one side.

As the first greenhouse of this kind in England, it allowed the Garden to grow hitherto unknown rare tropical and tender species.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden | Chelsea garden, Garden layout vegetable ...

 

That same year a young apprentice from Ireland named Hans Sloane began his studies at the Garden.

Little did the Apothecaries know that Sloane would one day become responsible for ensuring the Garden’s survival to this day.

 

Sir Hans Sloane. Mezzotint by J. Faber, junior, 1729, after Wellcome V0005466.jpg

Above: Hans Sloane (1660 – 1753)

 

After qualifying in 1687 Sloane travelled to Jamaica to serve as private physician to the second Duke of Albemarle.

 

 

Two years later, Sloane returned to London armed with a special recipe and bottles of a compound, sourced from plants, which would go on to make him a fortune.

The recipe was for milk chocolate – a drink he had seen Jamaican mothers give to children with colic – and the compound, sourced from the tropical tree Cinchona pubescens, quinine – a medicine capable of preventing and curing malaria.

Sloane quickly established himself back in London, making considerable sums from his chocolate recipe (cocoa with milk) and sales of quinine.

 

 

Mary Somerset, Duchess of Beaufort (1630 – 1715) (also known by her other married name of Mary Seymour, Lady Beauchamp and her maiden name Mary Capell) was an English noblewoman, gardener and botanist.

 

Mary Somerset, Duchess of Beaufort (1630–1715) - Wikipedia

 

On 28 June 1648, Mary married her first husband Henry Seymour, Lord Beauchamp, and they had one son and one daughter.

Her husband was a Royalist, imprisoned during the English Civil War.

 

The Origins & Causes of the English Civil War

 

Her second husband, whom she married on 17 August 1657 was Henry Somerset (1629 – 1700), who became 1st Duke of Beaufort, by whom she had six children.

 

Henry Somerset, 1st Duke of Beaufort - Wikipedia

 

During the Popish Plot, she was required in her husband’s absence to call out the militia, to deal with a false alarm of a French invasion at the Isle of Purbeck, and did so “in a state of deadly fear“.

 

Country diary: Isle of Purbeck | Environment | The Guardian

 

(The Popish Plot was a conspiracy invented by Titus Oates that between 1678 and 1681 gripped the Kingdoms of England and Scotland in anti-Catholic hysteria.

 

Titus Oates - Wikipedia

Above. Titus Oates (1649 – 1705)

 

Oates alleged that there was an extensive Catholic conspiracy to assassinate King Charles II, accusations that led to the executions of at least 22 men and precipitated the Exclusion Bill (which sought to exclude the King’s brother and heir presumptive, James, Duke of York, from the thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland because he was Roman Catholic) Crisis.

Eventually Oates’s intricate web of accusations fell apart, leading to his arrest and conviction for perjury.)

 

Charles II of England - Wikipedia

Above: King Charles II (1630 – 1685)

 

The supposed invasion, like much that happened (or failed to happen) during the Plot, was simply the result of public hysteria.

Despite this moment of panic, in general she maintained a detached and rational attitude to the Plot, expressing her amazement that the informer William Bedloe (1650 – 1680), whom she knew to be “a villain whose word would not have been taken at sixpence“, should now have “power to ruin any man“.

 

Popish Plot Playcard1.jpg

 

She attended the trial of the Catholic barrister Richard Langhorne, presumably in case Bedloe, a bitter enemy of her husband, made any charges against him, and took notes of the evidence.

 

Above: Richard Langhorne (1624 – 1679)

 

When Bedloe protested at her presence, the Lord Chief Justice, William Scroggs, pointed out that the trial was open to the public, and asked irritably what a woman’s notes amounted to anyway:

No more than her tongue, truly“.

 

Above: William Scroggs (1623 – 1683)

 

Mary was a notoriously exacting employer “striking terror in the hearts of her servants“:

Every day she would do a tour of the house and grounds (Beaufort House), and any servant not found hard at work was instantly dismissed.

Even neighbouring landowners held her in awe, and were anxious not to cross her.

 

Chelsea Brasserie and Bar | Beaufort House Chelsea

Above: Beaufort House, Chelsea, today

 

The Duchess of Beaufort was one of Britain’s earliest distinguished lady gardeners.

She began seriously to collect plants in the 1690s and her interest in gardening intensified in her widowhood.

She had the assistance of such well-known gardeners and botanists as George London (1640 – 1714) and Leonard Plukenet (1641 – 1706).

 

 

Seeds came to her from the West Indies, South Africa, India, Sri Lanka, China and Japan.

 

In 1702, she engaged the services of William Sherard (1659 – 1728) as tutor for her grandson, “he loving my diversion so well“.

Sherard helped introduce more than 1,500 plants, most of them greenhouse subjects, to her collection, at Badminton House or at Beaufort House, Chelsea.

 

Badminton House | Englische herrenhäuser, Englische landhäuser und ...

 

Sir Robert Southwell, Sir Hans Sloane and Jacob Bobart are all known to have sought her assistance in growing and identifying plants from unidentified seeds, some of which had come to them through the Royal Society of London.

 

The Royal Society Coat of Arms.svg

 

In 1712, Dr. Hans Sloane, as wealthy physician, purchased the entire Manor of Chelsea.

 

Chelsea Manor, for which the borough of Chelsea, London, is named ...

 

Mary’s London house was next to that of Sir Hans Sloane, making her a neighbour of the Chelsea Physic Garden.

Her herbarium, in twelve volumes, ‘gathered and dried by order of Mary Duchess of Beaufort‘, she bequeathed to Sir Hans Sloane, by whose bequest it came to the Natural History Museum.

Her two-volume set of drawings of her most choice exotics remains in the library at Badminton.

Among her introductions to British gardening, most of which were greenhouse plants, are Pelargonium zonale one of the parents of the zonal pelargoniums of gardens, ageratum and the Blue Passion Flower (Passiflora caerulea).

She is also notable for being one of the earliest women known to have her own collection of the Philosophical Transactions, the journal of the Royal Society of London.

 

Passiflora caerulea (2019-06-24) frontal-view.jpg

 

In 1722, Sloane leased four acres (1.6 hectares) of land to the Apothecaries for five pounds a year in perpetuity – a bargain even back then.

The deed of covenant is on display, stating the Garden’s purpose, that “apprentices and others may the better distinguish good and useful plants from those that bear resemblance to them and yet are hurtful“.

He also required the Apothecaries to provide 50 pressed plant specimens a year to the Royal Society until 2,000 had been received.

This process continued for many years under the direction of Head Gardeners or Curators and quickly exceeded the numbers required by Sloane.

A statue of Sloane stands at the centre of the garden.

 

Fig: Statue of Sir Hans Sloane by John Michael Rysbach in the ...

 

Notable among the annual consignments were those sent in 1724, which contained 50 species from the Geraniaceae family (geraniums) – the first record of the Garden’s long association with these plants.

 

Geranium February 2008-1.jpg

 

James Sherard (1666 – 1738) was an English apothecary, botanist and amateur musician.

On 7 February 1682, apothecary Charles Watts, who served as curator of Chelsea Physic Garden, took him in as an apprentice.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden (London) - Aktuelle 2020 - Lohnt es sich ...

 

After honing his craft with Watts, Sherard moved to Mark Lane, London, where he started his own very successful business.

 

Mark Lane, London - Wikipedia

 

In time, Sherard came into contact with Wriothesley Russell, 2nd Duke of Bedford through his brother, who had once served as a tutor in Russell’s family.

Sherard dedicated his first set of trio sonatas to Russell.

One surviving copy of the work was owned by an apothecary named William Salter.

He wrote commentary in the margins, including a note that Sherard was friends with George Frideric Handel (1685 – 1759).

 

George Frideric Handel by Balthasar Denner.jpg

 

Sherard published a second set of trio sonatas in 1711.

Sherard’s extensive collection of manuscripts of vocal and instrumental music is preserved in the Bodleian Library (Oxford) and includes unique copies of German church music among other items.

 

Bodleian Library | History of the Bodleian

 

In 1711, around the time Sherard finished composing his second set of sonatas, the Duke died, and Sherard’s interest in music seems to have died with him.

He also fell ill with gout, which prevented him from playing the violin.

 

Franz Hoffmann Amadeus Violin Outfit 1/4 Size | SHAR Music ...

 

Instead, he turned to botany.

He wrote in August 1716 that “of late the love of botany has so far prevailed as to divert my mind from things I formerly thought more material“.

 

Upon retiring from his business in Mark Lane in the 1720s, he had already acquired an ample fortune.

He purchased two manors in Leicestershire and a property at Eltham in Kent, near London, where he largely resided.

Sherard soon found himself maintaining a growing collection of rare plants at Eltham.

 

Above: Eltham Palace

 

Despite his ill health, he made several trips to continental Europe in search of seeds for his garden, which soon became recognized as one of the finest in England.

 

In 1721, in order to help with a projected revision of Caspar Bauhin’s Pinax of 1623, William Sherard brought the German botanist Johann Jacob Dillenius (1684 – 1747) to England.

In 1732, James published Dillenius’ illustrated catalog of the collection at Eltham.

According to Blanche Henrey, it was “the most important book to be published in England during the 18th century on plants growing in a private garden” and a major work for the pre-Linnaean taxonomy of South African plants, notably the succulents of the Cape Province.

Dillenius’ herbarium specimens from Eltham are preserved in the herbarium of the Oxford Botanical Garden.

 

Johann Jakob Dillenius.jpg

Above: Johann Jacob Dillenius

 

Samuel Doody (1656–1706) was an early English botanist.

The eldest of the second family of his father, John Doody, an apothecary in Staffordshire who later moved to London where he had a shop in The Strand, Samuel was born in Staffordshire.

He went into his father’s business, to which he succeeded in 1696.

 

Strand, London WC2 - geograph.org.uk - 752450.jpg

 

He undertook the care of the Apothecaries’ Garden at Chelsea in 1693, at a salary of £100, which he continued until his death.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden (next time). | London garden, Beautiful ...

 

His sole contribution as an author seems to be a paper in the Philosophical Transactions (1697), on a case of dropsy (fluid retention / swelling) in the breast.

 

Doody had given some attention to botany before 1687, the date of a commonplace book, but his help is first acknowledged by John Ray in 1688 in the second volume of the Historia Plantarum.

 

(John Ray (1627 – 1705) was an English naturalist widely regarded as one of the earliest of the English parson-naturalists.

He published important works on botany, zoology and natural theology.

His classification of plants in his Historia Plantarum, was an important step towards modern taxonomy.

Ray rejected the system of dichotomous division by which species were classified according to a pre-conceived, either/or type system, and instead classified plants according to similarities and differences that emerged from observation.

He was among the first to attempt a biological definition for the concept of species.)

 

John Ray – Wikipedia

Above: John Ray

 

Doody was intimate with the botanists of his time: Ray, Leonard Plukenet, James Petiver (1665 – 1718) and Hans Sloane.

Doody devoted himself to cryptogams – (A cryptogam – scientific name Cryptogamae – is a plant (in the wide sense of the word) that reproduces by spores, without flowers or seeds. “Cryptogamae” (Greek: “hidden” + “to marry”) means “hidden reproduction“, referring to the fact that no seed is produced, thus cryptogams represent the non-seed bearing plants.) – at that time very little studied, and became an authority on them.

The results of his herborisations round London were recorded in his copy of Ray’s ‘Synopsis,’ now in the British Museum.

 

Above: A cryptogam fern (Polystichum setiferum)

 

Mark Catesby (1683 – 1749) was an English naturalist.

Between 1729 and 1747 Catesby published his Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, the first published account of the flora and fauna of North America.

It included 220 plates of birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, mammals and plants.

 

 

An acquaintance with the naturalist John Ray led to Catesby becoming interested in natural history.

 

The death of his father left Catesby enough to live on, so in 1712, he accompanied his sister Elizabeth to Williamsburg, Virginia.

She was the wife of Dr. William Cocke, who had been a member of the Council and Secretary of State for the Colony of Virginia.

According to their father’s will, Elizabeth had married Dr. Cocke against her father’s wishes.

 

Catesby visited the West Indies in 1714, and returned to Virginia, then home to England in 1719.

Catesby had collected seeds and botanical specimens in Virginia and Jamaica.

He sent the pressed specimens to Dr Samuel Dale of Braintree in Essex, and gave seeds to a Hoxton nurseryman Thomas Fairchild as well as to Dale and to the Bishop of London, Dr Henry Compton.

Plants from Virginia, raised from Catesby’s seeds, made his name known to gardeners and scientists in England, and in 1722 he was recommended by William Sherard to undertake a plant-collecting expedition to Carolina on behalf of certain members of the Royal Society.

From May 1722, Catesby was based in Charleston, South Carolina, and travelled to other parts of that colony, collecting plants and animals.

 

 

He sent preserved specimens to Hans Sloane and to William Sherard, and seeds to various contacts including Sherard and Peter Collinson.

 

Peter Collinson (botanist) - Wikipedia

 

(Peter Collinson (1694 – 1768) was a Fellow of the Royal Society, an avid gardener and the middleman for an international exchange of scientific ideas in mid-18th century London.

He is best known for his horticultural friendship with John Bartram and his correspondence with Benjamin Franklin about electricity.)

 

切爾西藥草園- 维基百科,自由的百科全书

 

Consequently, Catesby was responsible for introducing such plants as Catalpa bignonioides and the eponymous Catesbaea spinosa (lilythorn) to cultivation in Europe.

 

Catesbaea spinosa, Lily Thorn.

 

Catesby returned to England in 1726.

Catesby spent the next twenty years preparing and publishing his Natural History.

Publication was financed by subscriptions from his “Encouragers” as well as an interest-free loan from one of the fellows of the Royal Society, the Quaker Peter Collinson.

Catesby learnt how to etch the copper plates himself.

The first eight plates had no backgrounds, but from then on Catesby included plants with his animals.

Catesby’s original preparatory drawings for Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands are in the Royal Library, Windsor Castle, and selections have been exhibited in the US, Japan and various places in England.

 

 

On 5 March 1747, Catesby read a paper entitled “Of birds of passage” to the Royal Society in London and he is now recognised as one of the first people to describe bird migration.

 

Geese Fly to Exhaustion in Race Against Climate Change | Live Science

 

Philip Miller was appointed Head Gardener at Sloane’s suggestion in 1722 and served the Garden for nearly 50 years.

During his long tenure Miller firmly established the Garden as the world’s leading centre for botanical plant exchange.

This seed-exchange programme was established following a visit in 1682 from Dutch botanist Paul Hermann (1646 – 1695) of the Hortus Botanicus Leiden and still continues.

 

 

The seed exchange program’s most notable act may have been the introduction of cotton into the colony of Georgia and more recently, the worldwide spread of the Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus).

 

Catharanthus roseus24 08 2012 (1).JPG

 

Johann Amman (or Johannes Amman or Иоганн Амман) (1707 in Schaffhausen – 1741 in St Petersburg), was a Swiss-Russian botanist, a member of the Royal Society and professor of botany at the Russian Academy of Sciences at St Petersburg.

He is best known for his Stirpium Rariorum in Imperio Rutheno Sponte Provenientium Icones et Descriptiones published in 1739 with descriptions of some 285 plants from Eastern Europe and Ruthenia (now Ukraine).

 

Johann Amman05.jpg

 

The plates are unsigned, though an engraving on the dedicatory leaf of the work is signed “Philipp Georg Mattarnovy“, a Swiss-Italian engraver, Filippo Giorgio Mattarnovi (1716-1742), who worked at the St. Petersburg Academy.

Amman was a student of Herman Boerhaave at Leyden from where he graduated as a physician in 1729.

 

(Herman Boerhaave (1668 – 1738) was a Dutch botanist, chemist, Christian humanist, and physician of European fame.

 

Herman Boerhaave - Wikipedia

 

He is regarded as the founder of clinical teaching and of the modern academic hospital and is sometimes referred to as “the father of physiology“.

Boerhaave introduced the quantitative approach into medicine and is best known for demonstrating the relation of symptoms to lesions.

He was the first to isolate the chemical urea from urine.

He was the first physician to put thermometer measurements to clinical practice.

His motto was Simplex sigillum veri:

‘Simplicity is the sign of the truth’.

He is often hailed as the “Dutch Hippocrates“.)

 

Amman came from Schaffhausen in Switzerland in 1729 to help Hans Sloane curate his natural history collection.

Sloane was founder of the Chelsea Physic Garden and originator of the British Museum.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden - Garten - visitlondon.com

 

Amman went on to St Petersburg at the invitation of Johann Georg Gmelin (1709-1755) and became a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, regularly sending interesting plants, such as Gypsophila paniculata (baby’s breath), back to Sloane.

 

Johann Georg Gmelin.jpg

Gypsophila paniculata.jpg

Above: Gypsophila paniculata (baby’s breath)

 

Carl Linnaeus maintained a lively correspondence with Amman between 1736 and 1740.

 

(Carl Linnaeus or Carl von Linné (1707 – 1778) was a Swedish botanist, zoologist, and physician who formalised binomial nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms.

 

Portrait of Linnaeus on a brown background with the word "Linne" in the top right corner

 

He is known as the “father of modern taxonomy“.

He received most of his higher education at Uppsala University and began giving lectures in botany there in 1730.

He lived abroad between 1735 and 1738, where he studied and also published the first edition of his Systema Naturae in the Netherlands.

He then returned to Sweden where he became professor of medicine and botany at Uppsala.

In the 1740s, he was sent on several journeys through Sweden to find and classify plants and animals.

In the 1750s and 1760s, he continued to collect and classify animals, plants, and minerals, while publishing several volumes.

 

He was one of the most acclaimed scientists in Europe at the time of his death.

 

Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau sent him the message:

“Tell him I know no greater man on Earth.”

 

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote:

“With the exception of Shakespeare and Spinoza, I know no one among the no longer living who has influenced me more strongly.”

 

Swedish author August Strindberg wrote:

“Linnaeus was in reality a poet who happened to become a naturalist.”

 

Linnaeus has been called Princeps botanicorum (Prince of Botanists) and “The Pliny of the North“.

 

He is also considered as one of the founders of modern ecology.

 

In botany and zoology, the abbreviation L. is used to indicate Linnaeus as the authority for a species’ name.

Linnaeus’s remains comprise the type specimen for the species Homo sapiens following the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, since the sole specimen that he is known to have examined was himself.)

 

 

William Houstoun (occasionally spelt Houston) (1695 – 1733) was a Scottish surgeon and botanist who collected plants in the West Indies, Mexico and South America.

Houstoun was born in Houston, Renfrewshire.

He began a degree course in medicine at St Andrew’s University, but interrupted his studies to visit the West Indies, returning in 1727.

University of St Andrews - Scotland's first university, founded 1413

On 6 October 1727, he entered the University of Leyden to continue his studies under Boerhaave, graduating M.D. in 1729.

It was during his time at Leyden that Houstoun became interested in the medicinal properties of plants.

 

Leiden University - Wikipedia

 

After returning to England that year, he soon sailed for the Caribbean and the Americas employed as a ship’s surgeon for the South Sea Company.

 

South Sea Company - Wikipedia

 

He collected plants in Jamaica, Cuba, Venezuela and Veracruz, despatching seeds and plants to Philip Miller, head gardener at the Chelsea Physic Garden in London.

 

Datei:Chelsea Physic Garden 15052013 071.jpg – Wikipedia

 

Notable among these plants was Dorstenia contrayerva, a reputed cure for snakebite, and Buddleja americana, the latter named by Linnaeus, at Houstoun’s request, for the English cleric and botanist Adam Buddle, although Buddle could have known nothing of the plant as he had died in 1715.

 

Dorstenia contrajerva 03.jpg

Above: Dorstenia contrajerva (Theodor Dorsten’s anti-snakebite plant)

 

Buddleja americana (11651195096).jpg

Above: Buddleja americana (American Butterfly bush)

 

Houstoun published accounts of his studies in Catalogus plantarum horti regii Parisiensis.

When Houstoun returned to London in 1731, he was introduced to Sir Hans Sloane by Miller.

Sloane commissioned him to undertake a three-year expedition, financed by the trustees for the Province of Georgia ‘for improving botany and agriculture in Georgia‘, and to help stock the Trustee’s Garden planned for Savannah.

Houstoun initially sailed to the Madeira Islands to gather grape plantings before continuing his voyage across the Atlantic.

However he never completed his mission as he ‘died from the heat‘ on 14 August 1733 soon after arriving in Jamaica.

He was buried at Kingston.

 

8 BEST Places to Visit in Jamaica [2020] – One Weird Globe

Above: Modern Kingston, Jamaica

 

 

Isaac Rand, a member and a fellow of the Royal Society published a condensed catalogue of the Garden in 1730, Index plantarum officinalium, quas ad materiae medicae scientiam promovendam, in horto Chelseiano.

 

 

Isaac Rand (1674–1743) was an English botanist and apothecary, who was a lecturer and director at the Chelsea Physic Garden.

Isaac was the son of James Rand, who in 1674 agreed, with thirteen other members of the Society of Apothecaries, to build a wall round the Chelsea Botanical Garden.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden Tickets 2FOR1 Offers

 

Isaac Rand was already an apothecary practising in the Haymarket, London, in 1700.

 

Haymarket, London - Wikipedia

 

In Leonard Plukenet’s Mantissa, published in that year, Rand is mentioned as the discoverer, in Tothill Fields, Westminster, of the plant now known as Rumex palustris, and was described as “stirpium indagator diligentissimus … pharmacopœus Londinensis, et magnæ spei botanicus.’

 

Rumex palustris kz1.jpg

Above: Rumex palustrus (Marsh dock)

 

He seems to have paid particular attention to inconspicuous plants, especially in the neighbourhood of London.

 

Thus Samuel Doody records in a manuscript note:

Mr. Rand first showed me this beautiful dock Rumex maritimus, growing plentifully in a moist place near Burlington House.

 

Burlington House - Wikipedia

 

Adam Buddle, in his manuscript Flora, which was completed before 1708, attributes to him the finding of Mentha pubescensabout some ponds near Marybone” and of the plant styled by James Petiver “Rand’s Oak Blite” (Chenopodium glaucum).

 

Mentha pubescens var hircina Bluntspiked Mint var Editorial Stock ...

Above: Mentha pubescens (hairy mint)

 

Chenopodium glaucum — Flora Batava — Volume v5.jpg

Above: Chenopodium glaucum (oak-leaved goosefoot)

 

In 1707 Rand, and nineteen other members, including Petiver and Joseph Miller, took a lease of the Chelsea Garden, to assist the Society of Apothecaries, and were constituted trustees.

For some time prior to the death of Petiver in 1718, Rand seems either to have assisted him or to have succeeded him in the office of demonstrator of plants to the Society.

 

Our partner gardens | Chelsea Physic Garden

 

In 1724, Rand was appointed to the newly created office of præfectus horti, or director of the Garden.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden | 11 Cadogan Gardens

 

 

Among other duties, Rand had to give at least two demonstrations in the garden in each of the six summer months, and to transmit to the Royal Society the fifty specimens per annum required by the terms of Sir Hans Sloane’s donation of the Garden.

Lists of the plants he sent for several years are in the Sloane Manuscripts.

 

Philip Miller was gardener throughout Rand’s tenure of the office of præfectus and it was in 1736 that Carl Linnæus visited the Garden.

 

Dillenius’s edition of John Ray’s Synopsis Methodica Stirpium Britannicarum (1724) contains several records by Rand, whose assistance is acknowledged in the preface.

Rand is specially mentioned by the illustrator Elizabeth Blackwell as having assisted her with specimens for her Curious Herbal (1737–39), which was executed at Chelsea.

Rand is one of those who prefix to the work a certificate of accuracy and a copy in the British Museum Library has manuscript notes by him.

 

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Rand prompted botanical artists like Blackwell and Georg Dionysius Ehret, to make illustrations of the living herbaceous plants produced by the Garden.

 

(Georg Dionysius Ehret (1708 – 1770) was born in Germany to Ferdinand Christian Ehret, a gardener and competent draughtsman, and Anna Maria Ehret.

 

 

 

Beginning his working life as a gardener’s apprentice near Heidelberg, he became one of the most influential European botanical artists of all time.

His first illustrations were in collaboration with Carl Linnaeus and George Clifford in 1735-1736.

Clifford, a wealthy Dutch banker and governor of the Dutch East India Company was a keen botanist with a large herbarium.

He had the income to attract the talents of botanists such as Linnaeus and artists like Ehret.

Together at the Clifford estate, Hartecamp, which is located south of Haarlem in Heemstede near Bennebroek, they produced Hortus Cliffortianus in 1738, a masterpiece of early botanical literature.)

 

 

 

Rand was friends with Mark Catesby, receiving seeds he collected in the Americas and a subscriber to his seminal Natural History of the region.

Rand produced two catalogues of the Garden and coöperated with the Leiden Physic Garden via Herman Boerhaave.

In 1730, perhaps somewhat piqued by Philip Miller’s issue of his Catalogus in that year, Rand printed the aforementioned Index plantarum officinalium in horto Chelseiano.

 

In a letter to Samuel Brewer, dated ‘Haymarket, 11 July 1730‘, Rand says that the Apothecaries’ Company had ordered the Index to be printed.

In 1739 Rand published ‘Horti medici Chelseiani Index Compendiarius,’ an alphabetical Latin list occupying 214 pages.

 

Rand’s widow presented his botanical books and an extensive collection of dried specimens to the company, and bequeathed 50s a year to the præfectus horti for annually replacing twenty decayed specimens in the latter by new ones.

This herbarium was preserved at Chelsea, with those of Ray and Dale, until 1863, when all three were presented to the British Museum.

Linnæus retained the name Randia, applied by William Houston in Rand’s honour to a genus of tropical Rubiaceæ.

 

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Above: Randia (Indigo berry)

 

 

 

Jacob van Huysum (1688 – 1740) was an 18th-century botanical painter from the northern Netherlands.

Both his father Justus van Huysum (1659–1716) and his brother Jan van Huysum (1682–1749) were celebrated flower painters.

His manner of painting was very like that of his brother.

His approach to botanical illustration, while preserving botanical accuracy, captured a more artistic aspect of his subject.

This contrasts with the meticulously exact mode of Georg Dionysius Ehret, his contemporary colleague.

He produced most of the 50 illustrations for John Martyn’s Historia Plantarum Rariorum (London: 1728-38), and all the drawings for Catalogus Plantarum, an index of trees, shrubs, plants and flowers (London: 1730).

 

 

Historia Plantarum Rariorum depicted plants from the Chelsea Physic Garden and the Cambridge Botanic Garden.

These plants had come from the Cape of Good Hope, North America, the West Indies and Mexico.

Each plate was dedicated to a patron and showed an engraved coat-of-arms or monogram.

The work was published in five parts of ten plates each between 1728 and 1737, and was sold by subscription.

The venture was not a financial success and publication ceased in 1737.

 

Above: Solidago virga-aurea (European goldenrod)

 

Meanwhile, so extensive was Miller’s impact on gardening that between 1731 and 1768 he doubled the number of plants cultivated in Britain.

In 1731 Miller published his Gardeners Dictionary, the most complete work on gardening of its time.

 

The Gardeners Dictionary V3: Containing The Methods Of Cultivating ...

 

 

James Lee (1715 – 1795) was a Scottish gardener who had apprenticed at the Chelsea Physic Garden.

James Lee was a correspondent with Carl Linnaeus, through Lee’s connection with the Chelsea Physic Garden.

He compiled an introduction to the Linnaean system, An Introduction to Botany, published in 1760, which passed through five editions.

 

 

 

John Bartram (1699 – 1777) was an early American botanist, horticulturist and explorer.

 

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Carl Linnaeus said he was the “greatest natural botanist in the world.”

Bartram was born into a Quaker farm family in colonial Pennsylvania.

He considered himself a plain farmer, with no formal education beyond the local school.

He had a lifelong interest in medicine and medicinal plants, and read widely.

His botanical career started with a small area of his farm devoted to growing plants he found interesting.

Later he made contact with European botanists and gardeners interested in North American plants and developed his hobby into a thriving business.

Bartram came to travel extensively in the eastern American colonies collecting plants.

 

In 1743 he visited the shores of Lake Ontario in the north and wrote Observations on the Inhabitants, Climate, Soil, Rivers, Productions, Animals, and other Matters Worthy of Notice, made by Mr. John Bartram in his Travels from Pennsylvania to Onondaga, Oswego, and the Lake Ontario, in Canada.

During the winter of 1765 – 1766 he visited East Florida in the south and an account of this trip was published with his journal.

He also visited the Ohio River in the west.

 

Observations on the Inhabitants, Climate, Soil, Rivers ...

 

Many of his acquisitions were transported to collectors in Europe.

In return, they supplied him with books and apparatus.

Bartram, sometimes called the “father of American botany“, was one of the first practicing Linnaean botanists in North America.

 

Portraits of Delco: John Bartram - Botanist

 

His plant specimens were forwarded to Linnaeus, Dillenius and Gronovius, and he assisted Linnaeus’ student Pehr Kalm during his extended collecting trip to North America from 1748 to 1750.

 

(Laurens Theodoor Gronovius (1730 – 1777), also known as Laurentius Theodorus Gronovius or Laurens Theodoor Gronow, was a Dutch naturalist born in Leiden.

 

 

Throughout his lifetime Gronovius amassed an extensive collection of zoological and botanical specimens.

He is especially remembered for his work in the field of ichthyology, where he played a significant role in the classification of fishes.

In 1754 he published the treatise Museum ichthyologicum, in which he described over 200 species of fish.

He is also credited with developing a technique for preservation of fish skins.

Today, a number of these preserved specimens are kept in the Natural History Museum in London.)

 

Bartram was aided in his collecting efforts by colonists.

In Bartram’s Diary of a Journey through the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida, a trip taken from 1 July 1765 to 10 April 1766, Bartram wrote of specimens he had collected.

 

Amazon.in: Buy An Account of East-Florida, with a Journal, Kept by ...

 

In the colony of British East Florida he was helped by Dr. David Yeats, secretary of the colony.

His 8-acre (32,000 m2) botanic garden, Bartram’s Garden in Kingsessing on the west bank of the Schuylkill, about 3 miles (5 km) from the center of Philadelphia is frequently cited as the first true botanic collection in North America.

 

 

He was one of the co-founders, with Benjamin Franklin, of the American Philosophical Society in 1743.

 

American Philosophical Society - Philadelphia, USA - Benjamin ...

 

Bartram was particularly instrumental in sending seeds from the New World to European gardeners:

Many North American trees and flowers were first introduced into cultivation in Europe by this route.

 

Take some time out and visit the Chelsea Physic Garden - Draker ...

 

Beginning in 1733, Bartram’s work was assisted by his association with the English merchant Peter Collinson.

Collinson, himself a lover of plants, was a fellow Quaker and a member of the Royal Society, with a familiar relationship with its president, Sir Hans Sloane.

 

Vic Keegan's Lost London 71: Chelsea Physic Garden - OnLondon

 

Collinson shared Bartram’s new plants with friends and fellow gardeners.

Early Bartram collections went to Lord Petre, Philip Miller at the Chelsea Physic Garden, Mark Catesby, the Duke of Richmond, and the Duke of Norfolk.

 

Our partner gardens | Chelsea Physic Garden

 

In the 1730s, Robert James Petre, 8th Baron Petre of Thorndon Hall, Essex, was the foremost collector of North American trees and shrubs in Europe.

Earl Petre’s untimely death in 1743 led to his American tree collection being auctioned off to Woburn, Goodwood and other large English country estates.

Thereafter Collinson became Bartram’s chief London agent.

 

Bartram’s Boxes, as they then became known, were regularly sent to Peter Collinson every fall for distribution in England to a wide list of clients, including the Duke of Argyll, James Gordon, James Lee and John Busch, progenitor of the exotic Loddiges nursery in London.

The boxes generally contained 100 or more varieties of seeds, and sometimes included dried plant specimens and natural history curiosities as well.

Live plants were more difficult and expensive to send and were reserved for Collinson and a few special correspondents.

 

Bartram's Boxes Remix | Wooden boxes, Remix

 

In 1765 after lobbying by Collinson and Benjamin Franklin in London, King George III rewarded Bartram a pension of £50 per year as King’s Botanist for North America, a post he held until his death.

With this position, Bartram’s seeds and plants also went to the royal collection at Kew Gardens.

Bartram also contributed seeds to the Oxford and Edinburgh botanic gardens.

 

Full-length portrait in oils of a clean-shaven young George in eighteenth century dress: gold jacket and breeches, ermine cloak, powdered wig, white stockings, and buckled shoes.

Above: King George III (1738 – 1820)

 

Most of Bartram’s many plant discoveries were named by botanists in Europe.

He is best known today for:

  • the discovery and introduction of a wide range of North American flowering trees and shrubs, including kalmia, rhododendron and magnolia species
  • introducing the Dionaea muscipulia or Venus flytrap to cultivation

 

Venus Flytrap showing trigger hairs.jpg

 

  • the discovery of the Franklin Tree (Franklinia alatamaha) in southeastern Georgia in 1765, later named by his son William Bartram.

 

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Bartram’s name is remembered in the genera of mosses, Bartramia, and in plants such as the North American serviceberry, Amelanchier bartramiana, and the subtropical tree Commersonia bartramia (Christmas Kurrajong) growing from the Bellinger River in coastal eastern Australia to Cape York, Vanuatu and Malaysia.

 

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Above: Amelanchier bartramiana (Bartram’s mountain juneberry)

 

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Above: Commersonia bartramia (Bartram’s Christmas kurrajong)

 

 

Elizabeth Blackwell (1707 –1758)(née Blachrie) was a Scottish botanical illustrator and author who was best known as both the artist and engraver for the plates of A Curious Herbal, published between 1737 and 1739.

The book illustrated many odd-looking and unknown plants from the New World, and was designed as a reference work on medicinal plants for the use of physicians and apothecaries.

 

Elizabeth Blackwell NLM 01 (cropped).jpg

 

Elizabeth Blachrie was the daughter of a successful Scottish merchant in Aberdeen and was trained as an artist.

 

She secretly married her cousin, Alexander Blackwell (1709 – 1747), a Scottish doctor and economist and settled in Aberdeen where he maintained a medical practice.

Although his education was sound, his qualifications were questioned, leading to the young couple’s hasty move to London, fearing charges that Alexander was practicing illegally.

In London, Alexander became associated with a publishing firm, and having gained some experience, established his own printing house, despite not belonging to a guild nor having served the required apprenticeship as a printer.

He was charged with flouting the strict trade rules, and heavily fined, forcing him to close his shop.

 

By now Elizabeth was destitute.

Because of Alexander’s lavish spending and the fines that had been imposed, the couple were heavily in debt – Alexander found himself in debtor’s prison.

 

With her husband in gaol, a household to run, a child to care for, and with no income, the situation was desperate.

 

She learned that a herbal was needed to depict and describe exotic plants from the New World.

She decided that she could illustrate it, and that Alexander, given his medical background, could write the descriptions of the plants.

 

Brassica rapa (watercolor).jpg

 

As she completed the drawings, Elizabeth would take them to her husband’s cell where he supplied the correct names in Latin, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Dutch and German.

Unlike her husband, Elizabeth was untrained in botany.

 

 

To compensate for this, she was aided by Isaac Rand, then curator of the Chelsea Physick Garden, where many of these new plants were under cultivation.

At Rand’s suggestion, she relocated near the Garden so she could draw the plants from life.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden | Days Out | London garden, Garden, London

 

In addition to the drawings, Elizabeth engraved the copper printing plates for the 500 images and text, and hand-coloured the printed illustrations.

 

 

The first printing of A Curious Herbal met with moderate success, both because of the meticulous quality of the illustrations and the great need for an updated herbal.

 

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Physicians and apothecaries acclaimed the work and it received a commendation from the Royal College of Physicians.

 

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A second edition was printed 20 years later in a revised and enlarged format in Nuremberg by Dr. Christoph Jacob Trew, a botanist and physician, between 1757 and 1773.

 

Above: Christoph Jacob Trew (1695 – 1769)

 

Revenue from the book led to Alexander’s release from prison.

However, within a short while debts again accumulated, forcing the couple to sell some of the publication rights to the book.

Alexander also became involved in several unsuccessful business ventures, and eventually left the family to start a new life in Sweden.

 

Alexander Blackwell arrived in Sweden in 1742 and carried on with agricultural experiments he had started when in Aberdeen.

These included the breeding of horses and sheep and dairy management.

His achievements were recognised and he was appointed court physician to Frederick I of Sweden.

 

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Above: Frederick I (1676 – 1751)

 

Blackwell attempted to strengthen the diplomatic ties between Great Britain, Denmark and Sweden.

As Great Britain had no ambassador in Sweden, he contacted a Minister in Denmark.

On circumstantial evidence he was accused of conspiracy against the Crown Prince.

He was tried and sentenced to be decapitated.

He remained in good spirits to the last – at the block, having laid his head wrong, he remarked that since it was his first beheading, he lacked experience and needed instruction.

On 9 August 1747 he was executed as his wife was leaving London to join him.

 

Little is known of Elizabeth Blackwell’s later years.

She was buried on 27 October 1758 and her grave is at All Saints Church in Chelsea.

 

All Saints, Chelsea Old Church, Cheyne... © John Salmon ...

 

 

Blackwell’s A Curious Herbal has featured on the British Library website as a “classic of botanical illustration.”

 

 

William Hudson (1730 – 1793) was a British botanist and apothecary based in London.

Hudson was apprenticed to a London apothecary.

Hudson obtained the prize for botany given by the Apothecaries’ Company, a copy of John Ray’s Synopsis.

But he also paid attention to mollusca and insects.

 

Joannis Raii Synopsis Methodica Avium Et Piscium : Professor of ...

 

In Thomas Pennant’s British Zoology, Hudson is mentioned as the discoverer of Trochus terrestris.

 

British zoology, : Amazon.co.uk: Thomas Pennant: Books

 

(Thomas Pennant (1726 – 1798) was a Welsh naturalist, traveller, writer and antiquarian.

He was born and lived his whole life at his family estate, Downing Hall near Whitford, Flintshire, in Wales.

 

 

As a naturalist he had a great curiosity, observing the geography, geology, plants, animals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish around him and recording what he saw and heard about.

 

 

Pennant wrote acclaimed books including British Zoology, the History of Quadrupeds, Arctic Zoology and Indian Zoology although he never travelled further afield than continental Europe.

He knew and maintained correspondence with many of the scientific figures of his day.

His books influenced the writings of Samuel Johnson.

 

Portrait of Samuel Johnson in 1772 painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds

Above: Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784)

 

As an antiquarian, Pennant amassed a considerable collection of art and other works, largely selected for their scientific interest.

Many of these works are now housed at the National Library of Wales.

 

As a traveller he visited Scotland and many other parts of Britain and wrote about them.

Many of his travels took him to places that were little known to the British public and the travelogues he produced, accompanied by painted and engraved colour plates, were much appreciated.

 

 

Each tour started at his home and related in detail the route, the scenery, the habits and activities of the people he met, their customs and superstitions and the wildlife he saw or heard about.

 

 

Pennant travelled on horseback accompanied by his servant, Moses Griffith, who sketched the things they encountered, later to work these up into illustrations for the books.

He was an amiable man with a large circle of friends and was still busily following his interests into his sixties.

He enjoyed good health throughout his life and died at Downing at the age of seventy two.)

 

Thomas Pennant - Wikipedia

Above: Thomas Pennant (1726 – 1798)

 

 

From 1757 to 1768. Hudson was resident sub-librarian of the British Museum and his studies in the Sloane herbarium enabled him to adapt the Linnean nomenclature to the plants described by Ray far more accurately than did Sir John Hill in his Flora Britannica of 1760.

 

Flora Britanica: Sive, Synopsis Methodica Stirpium Britanicarum ...

 

 

In 1761 Hudson was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and in the following year appeared the first edition of his Flora Anglica, which, according to Pulteney and Sir J. E. Smith, “marks the establishment of Linnean principles of botany in England.”

Hudson, at the time of its publication, was practising as an apothecary in Panton Street, Haymarket, and from 1765 to 1771 acted as ‘praefectus horti’ to the Apothecaries’ Company at Chelsea.

 

The Chelsea Physic Garden | The Chelsea Physic Garden was es… | Flickr

 

A considerably enlarged edition of the Flora appeared in 1778, but in 1783 the author’s house in Panton Street took fire, his collections of insects and many of his plants were destroyed, and the inmates narrowly escaped with their lives.

Hudson retired to Jermyn Street.

In 1791 he joined the newly established Linnean Society.

He died in Jermyn Street from paralysis on 23 May 1793, being, according to the Gentleman’s Magazine, in his 60th year.

He bequeathed the remains of his herbarium to the Apothecaries’ Company.

Linnaeus gave the name Hudsonia to a North American genus of Cistaceae.

 

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Above: Hudsonia tomentosa (Hudson’s heather / golden heather / poverty grass / beach heath)

 

 

John Fraser (1750 – 1811) was a Scottish botanist who collected plant specimens around the world, from North America and the West Indies to Russia and points between, with his primary career activity from 1780 to 1810.

 

John Fraser, lithograph of an 18th-century portrait

 

Fraser was a commissioned plant collector for Catherine, Czarina of Russia in 1795, Paul I of Russia in 1798 and for the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna in 1806.

Fraser issued nursery catalogues in 1790 and 1796, and had an important herbarium that was eventually sold to the Linnean Society.

 

In 1770, five years before the American War of Independence and coincident with Captain James Cook’s discovery of the eastern Australian coast, Fraser arrived in London as a young man to make his way in the city, at first following the trade of a hosier (a draper working with linen).

 

James Cook - Wikipedia

Above: James Cook (1728 – 1779)

 

Fraser soon came to know the Chelsea Physic Garden, and it was through his visits there that he became inspired with a desire to advance horticulture in England.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden: Our English garden of the week | London ...

 

He married Frances Shaw on 21 June 1778 and settled down in a small shop in Paradise Bow, Chelsea.

 

Not long content with life in London, Fraser soon began to quit the mercantile counter as often as he could to watch the gardeners at work.

 

chelsea physic garden - London Diary

 

He befriended William Forsyth who at that time had charge of the Apothecaries’ Garden.

 

Tangerine Dream Café, Chelsea Physic Garden, 66 Royal Hospital ...

 

Through that acquaintance Fraser would have become familiar with his predecessor Mark Catesby’s travels, as some of Catesby’s specimens from his travels were housed at the Chelsea Physic Garden, and Catesby’s writings and engravings on the flora of the Americas were also published by the time Fraser moved to London.

Fraser took up botanical collecting and, two years after the United States of America had named itself, departed England for Newfoundland in 1780 with Admiral Campbell.

 

Above: Campbell’s ship, the HMS Victory

 

Upon returning to England, Fraser sailed again in 1783 to explore the New World with his eldest son John Jr.

Fraser’s early expeditions were financed by William Aiton of Kew Gardens, William Forsyth, and James Edward Smith of the Linnean Society.

In the 1780s Fraser established the American Nursery at Sloane Square, King’s Road, which his sons continued after his death in partnership from 1811 to 1817.

The nursery was on the east side of the Royal Military School and extended over twelve acres.

 

Sloane Square in Winter.jpg

 

As the 18th century came to a close, botanists who hunted plants afar were adventurers and explorers, John Fraser among them, fielding shipwrecks, sieges, slavery, pirates, escaped convicts and hostile natives.

Fraser travelled extensively, from Scotland to England, the Americas, the West Indies, Russia, and points between.

He began by collecting in Newfoundland from 1780 to 1784, and then moved on to the Appalachian Mountains in eastern North America, all without the benefit of railroads or well-established highways.

By the time he completed his journeys, John Fraser had introduced about 220 distinct species of plants from the Americas to Europe and beyond.

 

 

Fraser made his first trip to the American south, and specifically to Charleston, South Carolina in 1784, sending home consignments of plants to Frank Thorburn of Old Brompton.

 

Returning to England in 1785 with the expectation of recompense for his labour and risk, Fraser was astonished to learn that all the valuable plants he had forwarded were dead, and the survivors, which were common, could not be disposed of.

Vexed, Fraser subsequently entered into a lawsuit over the matter, a suit long and very expensive to both parties, but sailed again for South Carolina in the autumn nonetheless.

 

On his return trip that autumn Fraser made his way north through Berkeley County to the Santee River, befriending Thomas Walter along the way.

Fraser continued on to the Piedmont region of the Appalachians, discovering Phlox stolonifera (creeping phlox) in Georgia along the southeastern edge of the southern Blue Ridge, and in 1787 he arrived in Pickens County near Chickamaua Cherokee land during the Cherokee–American wars.

 

Creeping Phlox Phlox stolonifera Flowers 3008px.jpg

 

 

There he collected what became known later as Magnolia fraseri.

Fraser gave his contemporary William Bartram his original specimen of Magnolia fraseri.

The specimen is housed in the Walter Herbarium in the British Museum of Natural History collection.

 

Magnolia fraseri - Curtis.jpg

Above: Magnolia fraseri (Fraser’s mountain magnolia)

 

The Hortus Kewensis recorded 16 new plants as having been introduced by Fraser in 1786 and five more in 1787.

 

Fraser trekked the Allegheny Mountains in 1789 when trans-Allegheny travel was limited to indigenous peoples’ trails and one military trail, Braddock Road, built in 1751 and too far north of his journeys to be of help.

He travelled with François André Michaux, and on the summit of the Great Roan was the first European to discover the Rhododendron catawbiense, now cultivated in many varieties.

 

Above: Francois André Michaux (1770 – 1855)

 

Of the rhododendrons Fraser wrote:

“We supplied ourselves with living plants, which were transmitted to England, all of which grew, and were sold for five guineas each.”

 

Above: Rhododendron catawbiense (Catawba or mountain rosebay or rhodendron or purple laurel)

 

In 1795 Fraser made a first visit to Saint Petersburg where he sold a choice collection of plants to the Empress Catherine.

To his delight she requested he set his own price.

 

Catherine II by J.B.Lampi (1780s, Kunsthistorisches Museum).jpg

Above: Catherine the Great (1729 – 1796)

 

While there, he bought Black and White Tartarian cherries in 1796, thereafter introducing them for the first time to England.

 

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In 1797 Czar Paul I ordered that Fraser be paid 4,000 rubles for his plants that year, and by the next spring, Fraser had received £500 sterling for his efforts.

In 1798 Fraser travelled again to Russia, returning afterward with the commission Botanical Collector to the Emperor Paul, under the signatures of both Paul and Catherine and dated Pavlovskoe (Pavlov Palace) August 1798.

 

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Above: Paul I (1754 – 1801)

 

Based on his trust in the Imperial commission and in furtherance of carrying out the duties it imposed upon him, Fraser and his eldest son John started out once more in 1799, bound for America and the West Indies.

They visited with Thomas Jefferson at Monticello and made an extended journey through Kentucky, eastern Tennessee and northern Georgia, returning to Charleston in December 1800.

 

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Above: Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826)

 

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Above: Monticello

 

From there they set out for Cuba, but the sailing was a perilous one since between Havana and the United States they were shipwrecked on a coral reef, about 40 miles (64 km) from land and 80 miles (130 km) from Havana, escaping only with great difficulty.

“For six days they, with sixteen of the crew, endured the greatest privations until picked up by a Spanish boat and conveyed to land.

The trip was nearly disastrous and the men barely escaped with their lives.

 

Blue Linckia Starfish.JPG

 

While collecting specimens in Cuba, “a time when the sea was swarming with pirates“, Fraser met the explorers Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland on their circuitous journey from the Amazon to Cartagena.

 

(Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt (1769 – 1859) was a Prussian polymath, geographer, naturalist, explorer and proponent of Romantic philosophy and science.

Humboldt’s quantitative work on botanical geography laid the foundation for the field of biogeography.

Humboldt’s advocacy of long-term systematic geophysical measurement laid the foundation for modern geomagnetic and meteorological monitoring.

Between 1799 and 1804, Humboldt travelled extensively in the Americas, exploring and describing them for the first time from a modern scientific point of view.

His description of the journey was written up and published in an enormous set of volumes over 21 years.

Humboldt was one of the first people to propose that the lands bordering the Atlantic Ocean were once joined (South America and Africa in particular).

Humboldt resurrected the use of the word cosmos from the ancient Greek and assigned it to his multivolume treatise, Kosmos, in which he sought to unify diverse branches of scientific knowledge and culture.

This important work also motivated a holistic perception of the universe as one interacting entity.

He was the first person to describe the phenomenon and cause of human-induced climate change, in 1800 and again in 1831, based on observations generated during his travels.)

 

Stieler, Joseph Karl - Alexander von Humboldt - 1843.jpg

Above: Alexander von Humboldt (1769 – 1859)

 

(Aimé Jacques Alexandre Bonpland (1773 – 1858) was a French explorer and botanist who traveled with Alexander von Humboldt in Latin America from 1799 to 1804.

He co-authored volumes of the scientific results of their expedition.

Having befriended Alexander von Humboldt, Bonpland joined him on a five-year journey through the Canary Islands, Venezuela, Cuba, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico and the United States, as well as the Orinoco and Amazon basins.

During this trip, Bonpland collected and classified about 6,000 plants that were mostly unknown in Europe up to that time.

His account of these findings was published as a series of volumes from 1808 to 1816 entitled Equatorial Plants (French: Plantes equinoxiales). )

 

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Above: Aimé Bonpland (1773 – 1858)

 

 

Fraser’s son returned to England first, transporting a large botanical collection of Humboldt’s after he had kindly intervened on their behalf during their sojourn to keep them safe.

Fraser returned from Cuba to America and then to England in 1802 with “a goodly collection of rarities”, one of which was his discovery (as a European) of Jatropha pandurifolia.

 

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Above: Jatropha integerrima (spicy nettle splurge)

 

In 1807, both father and son again sailed for North America and the West Indies.

On his next trip to London after collecting in Matanzas, Fraser brought home a tropical palm with silvered leaves, Corypha miraguama, and made a manufacturing proposal for hand-weaving of hats and bonnets from its leaves.

 

Corypha umbraculifera 1913.jpg

 

When Fraser made his next visit to the Romanov court in 1805 expecting remuneration, to his great disappointment he discovered that the new Emperor would have nothing to do with him.

Undaunted, he repeated the trip, visiting both Moscow and Saint Petersburg, but in vain.

After the Emperor Paul I’s assassination in March 1801, the new Emperor Alexander I declined to recognise Fraser’s appointment.

 

Alexander I of Russia by G.Dawe (1826, Peterhof).jpg

Above: Alexander I (1777 – 1825)

 

Fraser petitioned his cause for two years, finally resorting to seeking assistance from the British ambassadorial corps, and was ultimately paid 6,000 rubles by royal decree in April 1803.

The Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, an enthusiastic amateur botanist herself, supported his efforts, giving him a diamond ring and commissioning him for specimens for the Imperial Gardens of Gatchina and Pavlovsk Palace.

 

Maria Feodorovna (Dagmar of Denmark).jpg

Above: Maria Feodorovna (1847 – 1928)

 

The director of the Imperial Botanic Garden at Saint Petersburg catalogued 18 of Fraser’s North American species in the early years of the 19th century, with some of the specimens surviving as of 1997 in the Komarov Botanical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

After the Romanov affair, Fraser faced severe financial difficulty, though again he sailed to America.

While successful in his research there, his nursery at home fell into neglect through his absence and money problems.

 

Fraser made his seventh and last voyage to the United States in 1807.

Near Charleston he fell from his horse and broke several of his ribs, an injury from which he never fully recovered.

His final voyage before returning to England was from America to Cuba in 1810 for a last visit to a country that welcomed him despite the nationalistic differences of the day, and from which he had a richly rewarding collecting history.

 

Above: Abies frasieri (Fraser Fir), named for John Fraser, is native to the southeastern Appalachian Mountains.

 

Although he was known to his contemporaries as “John Fraser, the indefatigable“, owing to his business and travel vexations and possibly also to exhaustion from his injuries after his fall, and his frequent and fatiguing journeys, his life was shortened — though a robust man, he died in April 1811 in London, Sloane Square, at only 60.

Throughout his travels, Fraser sent his collections to his nursery in London for reproduction and general sale to gardeners and architects coming to London to look for plants, to his herbarium (later becoming that of the Linnean Society) for further study, and to his clients, including Catherine the Great, the Emperor Paul I, the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, the Chelsea Physic Garden, William Aiton (head gardener of Kew Gardens), Sir James Edward Smith (founder of the Linnean Society) and others.

 

William Roscoe wrote of him:

“John Fraser brought more plants into this Kingdom than any other person.”

 

Fraser was hailed early on by his biographers as “one of the most enterprising, indefatigable, and persevering men that ever embarked in the cause of botany and natural science.”

 

7 reasons why you need to visit the Chelsea Physic Garden café ...

 

John Graefer (or Johann Andreas Graeffer)(1746 – 1802) was a German botanist nurseryman born in Helmstedt.

Graefer is remembered by garden historians as having introduced a number of exotic plants to British gardens and to have worked for the King of Naples at the Palace of Caserta.

Trained by Philip Miller at the Chelsea Physic Garden, London, one of the most prominent botanical gardens of Europe during the 18th century, Graeffer was subsequently gardener to the Earl of Coventry at Croome Court, Worcestershire, which was being landscaped by Capability Brown, and then to James Vere, of Kensington Gore, a founder of the Royal Horticultural Society.

 

Weddings at Chelsea Physic Garden, wedding venue in London ...

 

Graeffer struck out on his own as a partner with Archibald Thompson and the prominent nurseryman James Gordon in Gordon’s long-established Mile End nursery near the New Globe, Stepney, just beyond the East End of London.

After Gordon’s retirement and his death in 1780, the nursery at Mile End was inherited by Gordon’s three sons.

 

In August 1781, it was reported in L’ésprit des Journaux, that MM Grœffer et Bessel had been issued a royal patent (dated 30 December 1780) for their preparation of cooked and preserved vegetables for the Royal Navy and the use of those on sea voyages.

 

Real Dried vegetables Slices specimen pressed dried vegetables ...

 

It was the first recorded patent for preserving vegetables by drying them.

 

For that purpose, it was reported, they had purchased 200 arpents of land near the “nouvelle Globe“, Mile End, for plantings, which appears to be Gordon’s long-established plant nursery.

The patent was issued for preserving “a vegetable of the Brassica kind, generally known by the name of green and brown borecole, scotch or other kale with a salt solution and drying so it will keep for up to a year.

 

Brassica rapa plant.jpg

 

Among Graeffer’s introductions to British horticulture by far the most familiar was the variegated form of Aucuba japonica, the loved and loathed “Spotted Laurel” of gardens, which he introduced to British horticulture in 1783, at first as a plant for a heated greenhouse.

It became widely cultivated as the “Gold Plant” by 19th century gardeners.

 

Aucuba japonica Gold Dust NBG LR.jpg

 

According to John Claudius Loudon, Graeffer was also responsible for the introduction of Pyrus bollwylleriana, the Bollwyller pear (later called Shipova), and Pyrus baccata (later called Malus baccata), the Siberian wild crab apple.

 

Shipova fruit.jpg

 

Malus-baccata.JPG

 

Another of his introductions was Sideroxylon melanophloeos (later called Rapanea melanophloeos), the Cape beech from the Cape Province, 1784.

 

Rapanea melanophloeos00.jpg

 

Not all his introductions took:

 

In 1783 Graeffer introduced Fumaria nobilis (fumewort : smoke of the Earth), a little alpine plant native to the Altai in Siberia, but it was subsequently lost to horticulture and reintroduced.

 

Fumaria.jpg

 

He catalogued 80 species of plants suitable for rock gardens in 1789.

 

Graham Stuart Thomas who knew the 1794 edition, found it “certainly the first ‘quick reference’ book on alpines that I have come across:

He gives full particulars of descriptions and cultivation in a tabulated list.

I think he was entitled to claim:

‘The author proposes in his use of his great variety of herbaceous plants a more constant and uniform and gay attraction of gardens than has been hitherto pointed out or adopted’“.

 

Graham Stuart Thomas.jpg

Above: Graham Stuart Thomas (1909 – 2003)

 

Graeffer also issued A Descriptive Catalogue of Upwards of Eleven Hundred Species and Varieties of Herbaceous Or Perennial Plants that same year.

 

A Descriptive Catalogue of Upwards of Eleven Hundred Species and ...

 

Miller was replaced as Head Gardener in 1771 by William Forsyth, one of the founders of the Royal Horticultural Society, who among other notable achievements at the Garden, created the Pond Rockery, which today stands as the oldest rock garden in Europe.

 

Taking my medicine at the Chelsea Physic Garden – Clare Gleeson

 

William Forsyth (1737 – 1804) was a Scottish botanist.

He was a royal head gardener and a founding member of the Royal Horticultural Society.

A genus of flowering plants, Forsythia, is named in his honour.

William Forsyth. Stipple engraving by S. Freeman. Wellcome M0013596.jpg

 

Forsyth was born at Oldmeldrum in Aberdeenshire, and trained as a gardener at the Chelsea Physic Garden as a pupil of Philip Miller, the chief gardener.

He took over the chief gardening position in 1771 and became a mentor to John Fraser.

 

Photo of Chelsea Physic Garden, London | Garden, London, Garden bridge

 

In 1784, he was appointed superintendent of the royal gardens at Kensington and St James’s Palace, a position he kept until his death.

 

In 1774 he created one of the first rock gardens while curator of the Chelsea Physic Garden.

His garden consisted of 40 tons of assorted stone collected from the roadside outside of the Tower of London, some flint and chalk from nearby downland, and some pieces of lava collected from Iceland.

The garden failed to produce much serious growth.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden – Visit Gardens

 

Forsyth created a ‘plaister‘ in 1789 made of lime, dung, ashes, soapsuds, urine and other various components that was claimed to cure defects in trees and heal “where nothing remained but the bark.”

He received a grant of 1,500 pounds from the British Parliament to continue the creation of the plaister, as the nation was at war in 1789 with Napoleon and needed sound timber to build ships, as much of the Royal Forests were in poor condition.

 

sea-glasses: aesthetic // nature | Forest wallpaper, Sherwood ...

 

Alexander Anderson (1748 – 1811) was a Scottish surgeon and botanist.

Anderson studied at the University of Edinburgh.

Fellow Aberdonian William Forsyth briefly employed him at the Chelsea Physic Garden in London, prior to Anderson’s emigration to New York in 1774, where he stayed with his brother John, a printer.

He was appointed in 1785 superintendent of the government botanic garden at St. Vincent (an island in the Caribbean), where he showed much activity.

He was a correspondent of Sir Joseph Banks, through whom he contributed to the Royal Society in 1789 an account of a bituminous (asphalt) lake on St. Vincent, which was afterwards published in the Philosophical Transactions for that year.

In 1791 he went into Guiana on a botanising expedition.

The plants he obtained and sent to Banks are now in the herbarium of the British Museum.

 

Alexander Anderson botanist.jpg

 

William Curtis (1746 – 1799) was an English botanist and entomologist, who was born at Alton, Hampshire, site of the Curtis Museum.

Curtis began as an apothecary, before turning his attention to botany and other natural history.

The publications he prepared effectively reached a wider audience than early works on the subject had intended.

At the age of 25 he produced Instructions for collecting and preserving insects; particularly moths and butterflies.

 

 

Curtis was demonstrator of plants and Praefectus Horti at the Chelsea Physic Garden from 1771 to 1777.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden

 

He established his own London Botanic Garden at Lambeth in 1779, moving to Brompton in 1789.

He published Flora Londinensis (6 volumes, 1777–1798), a pioneering work in that it devoted itself to urban nature.

 

The Flora Londinensis: The Generalities and the Particulars ...

 

Financial success was not found, but he went on the publish The Botanical Magazine in 1787, a work that would also feature hand coloured plates by artists such as James Sowerby and Sydenham Edwards.

Curtis was to gain wealth from the ventures into publishing, short sales on Londinensis were offset by over 3,000 copies of the magazine.

Curtis said they had each brought ‘pudding or praise‘.

The genus Curtisia is named in his honour.

 

Curtisia dentata - Assegai tree top canopy - Table Mountain 3.JPG

Above: Curtisia (Assegai tree)

 

His publication was continued as the esteemed botanical publication, Curtis’s Botanical Magazine.

The noted natural history illustrators, James Sowerby and Sydenham Edwards both found a start with the eminent magazine.

 

Curtis' - title page serie 3 (vol 71, 1845 ).jpg

 

He is commemorated in a stained glass window at St. Mary’s Church, Battersea, as many of his samples were collected from the churchyard there.

 

William Curtis, Jane's Apoth'y - Quickstep Travel Guide

 

 

Sir Joseph Banks, 1st Baronet (1743 – 1820) was an English naturalist, botanist and patron of the natural sciences.

 

Joseph Banks 1773 Reynolds.jpg

 

Banks made his name on the 1766 natural-history expedition to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Banks took part in Captain James Cook’s first great voyage (1768–1771), visiting Brazil, Tahiti, and after six months in New Zealand and Australia, returning to immediate fame.

 

 

Banks advised King George III on the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, and by sending botanists around the world to collect plants, he made Kew the world’s leading botanical gardens.

He is credited for bringing 30,000 plant specimens home with him.

Amongst them, he discovered 1,400.

 

Kew royalbritannicgardens logo.png

 

Banks advocated British settlement in New South Wales and colonisation of Australia, as well as the establishment of Botany Bay as a place for the reception of convicts, and advised the British government on all Australian matters.

He is credited with introducing the eucalyptus, acacia, and the genus named after him, Banksia, to the Western world.

 

Banksia in the Blue Mountains.jpg

 

Around 80 species of plants bear his name.

 

He was the leading founder of the African Association – dedicated to the exploration of West Africa, with the mission of discovering the origin and course of the Niger River and the location of Timbuktu, the “lost city” of gold – effectively the “beginning of the age of African exploration” – and a member of the Society of Dilettanti – a British society of noblemen and scholars that sponsors the study of ancient Greek and Roman art and the creation of new work in the style –  which helped to establish the Royal Academy.

 

 

Banks worked with Chelsea’s head gardener and curator John Fairbairn from 1780 to 1814.

Fairbairn specialized in growing and cultivating plants from around the world.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden — Catkin

 

The early 1800s were challenging times for the Garden as the Apothecaries’ attention was focused on preserving their own future as an institution.

By the 1830s they had changed their own access requirements and made the site available to all medical students and lecturers in London, not just their own apprentices.

Overseeing the site during this difficult period between 1815 to 1846 was William Anderson.

He managed the Garden on a greatly reduced budget but ran into conflict with John Lindley who was appointed Praefectus Horti (Demonstrator of Plants) in 1836.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden - Bubble Weddings

 

 

Henry Field (1755 – 1837) was an English apothecary.

 

Ex Libris Crest Bookplate. Henry Field (Apothecary) 18th c ...

The eldest son of John Field, an apothecary with an extensive practice on Newgate Street, London, and his wife, Anne, daughter of Thomas Cromwell, grocer and a grandson of Henry Cromwell, lord deputy of Ireland.

Henry succeeded his father in his profession, and in 1807 was elected apothecary to Christ’s Hospital, a post which he continued to fill until within a short time of his death.

 

 

As a member of the Society of Apothecaries, Field promoted its interests.

Field gave with Joseph Hurlock  (1715 – 1793) free courses of lectures on materia medica (history of pharmacy) at their hall to the apprentices and students, which resulted in the regular establishment of lectures by the Society.

 

 

In 1815 his efforts helped obtain the Act of Parliament which enforced an examination into the education and professional attainments of candidates for practising as an apothecary in England and Wales.

 

Palace of Westminster - Wikipedia

 

Field also filled for a long period the office of deputy-treasurer, and later of treasurer, of the branch of the affairs of the Society of Apothecaries originally instituted for the supply of the members of their own body with genuine drugs and medicines, but which ultimately extended to the service of the navy, the East India Company, and the general public.

 

Flag of the British East India Company (1801).svg

 

In 1831 Field was nominated by Sir Henry Halford, 1st Baronet, on the part of the General Board of Health, as one of the medical officers attached to the City of London Board of Health for the adoption of precautions against the threatened outbreak of cholera in the metropolis.

In common with his colleagues Field afterwards received the thanks of the corporation and a piece of plate.

 

Above: Henry Halford (1766 – 1844)

 

Field was also for many years the treasurer of the London Annuity Society for the benefit of the widows of apothecaries, in Chatham Place, Blackfriars, of which institution his father was the founder in 1765.

Field’s portrait, by Henry William Pickersgill, was hung at Apothecaries’ Hall.

Another, by Samuel Lane, was painted for the London Annuity Society.

 

Besides contributing professional remarks to medical journals, Field wrote a history of the Chelsea Physic Garden: Memoirs, historical and illustrative, of the Botanick Garden at Chelsea, belonging to the Society of Apothecaries of London, in 1820.

It was printed at the expense of the Society, to whom the manuscript had been presented.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden." | Catalogue search | Wellcome Collection

 

Meanwhile, Anderson’s conflict with Lindley continued.

He wanted the Garden to be a collection of medicinal plants.

Lindley won the battle and Anderson was eventually replaced in 1846 by the renowned and prolific plant hunter Robert Fortune.

Although Fortune’s tenure at the Garden was little more than two years he made sweeping changes including the new Order Beds, Glasshouses and the Tank Pond which remain to this day.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden, Fortune's Tank... © David Smith cc-by-sa ...

 

Robert Fortune (1812 – 1880) was a Scottish botanist, plant hunter and traveller, best known for introducing around 250 new ornamental plants, mainly from China, but also Japan, into the gardens of Britain, Australia, and the US.

He also played a role in the development of the tea industry in India in the 19th century.

 

The Great British Tea Heist | History | Smithsonian Magazine

 

After completing his apprenticeship, Fortune was then employed at Moredun House, just to the south of Edinburgh, before moving on to the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh.

In 1840, Fortune and his family moved to London to take up a position at the Horticultural Society of London’s garden at Chiswick.

 

Following the Treaty of Nanking, in 1843 Fortune was commissioned by the HS to undertake a three year plant collection expedition to southern China.

His travels resulted in the introduction to Europe, Australia and the US of many new, exotic, beautiful flowers and plants.

 

Robert Fortune: A Plant Hunter in the Orient: Alistair Watt ...

 

His most famous accomplishment was the successful theft of Chinese tea plants (Camellia sinensis) from China to India in 1848 on behalf of the British East India Company.

 

Tea Tuesdays: The Scottish Spy Who Stole China's Tea Empire : The ...

 

Robert Fortune worked in China for several years in the period from 1843 to 1861.

 

A Journey to the Tea Countries of China : Robert Fortune ...

 

Similar to other European travellers of the period, such as Walter Medhurst, Fortune disguised himself as a Chinese merchant during several, but not all, of his journeys beyond the newly established treaty port areas.

 

Robert Fortune , the British tea spy botanist

 

Not only was Fortune’s purchase of tea plants reportedly forbidden by the Chinese government of the time, but his travels were also beyond the allowable day’s journey from the European treaty ports.

 

ZS177: Robert Fortune, Botaniker und Teespion – Zeitsprung ...

 

Fortune travelled to some areas of China that had seldom been visited by Europeans, including remote areas of Fujian, Guangdong and Jiangsu provinces.

 

Above: The remote Wuyi Mountains in Fujian Province, one of the important tea regions to which Fortune travelled.

 

Fortune employed many different means to obtain plants and seedlings from local tea growers, reputedly the property of the Chinese empire, although this was some 150 years before international biodiversity laws recognised state ownership of such natural resources.

It is also widely reported that Fortune took skilled workers on contract to India who would facilitate the production of tea in the plantations of the East India Company.

 

The Great British Tea Heist | History | Smithsonian Magazine

 

With the exception of a few plants which survived in established Indian gardens, most of the Chinese tea plants Fortune introduced in the north-western provinces of India perished.

The other reason for the failure in India was that the British preference and fashion was for a strong dark tea brew, which was best made from the local Assam subspecies and not the selection that Fortune had made in China.

Assam-Tee SFTGFOP1.jpg

 

The technology and knowledge that was brought over from China was, however, instrumental in the later flourishing of the Indian tea industry in Assam and Sri Lanka.

In subsequent journeys Fortune visited Formosa (modern day Taiwan) and Japan, and described the culture of the silkworm and the manufacture of rice.

 

Pairedmoths.jpg

 

Fortune introduced many trees, shrubs and flowers to the West, including the cumquat, a climbing double yellow rose (‘Fortune’s Double Yellow‘ (or Gold of Ophir) which proved a failure in England’s climate) and many varieties of tree peonies, azaleas and chrysanthemums.

 

Kumquat.jpeg

 

A climbing white rose that he brought back from China in 1850, believed to be a natural cross between Rosa laevigata and Rosa banksiae, was dubbed Rosa fortuniana (or Rosa fortuneana) in his honour.

This rose, too, proved a failure in England, preferring warmer climates.

Today, both of these roses are still widely grown by antique rose fanciers in mild winter regions.

Rosa fortuniana also serves as a valuable rootstock in Australia and the southern regions of the United States.

 

Pin on Roses To Frame

 

The incidents of his travels were related in a succession of books.

He died in London in 1880 and is buried in Brompton Cemetery.

Robert Fortune Image 2

Financial and managerial difficulties have beset the Garden since its inception and the mid to late 1800s were no different.

The Garden became embattled on every front with the creation of the Embankment cutting it off from the River Thames, the threat of a rail line running through it and the Apothecaries struggling to manage it.

Thomas Moore took over from Fortune in 1848 and and was forced to run the Garden on an ever smaller budget.

By 1850 financial difficulties and other challenges led the Apothecaries to attempt to relinquish the Garden to one of the institutions determined by Sloane in his covenant.

They were not successful.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden - Eintritt im London Pass enthalten

 

 

Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward (1791 – 1868) was an English doctor who popularised a case for growing and transporting plants which was called the Wardian case.

 

Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward - Wikipedia

 

Ward was born in London to Stephen Smith Ward, a medical doctor.

Little is known of his early years and family life, but he is believed to have been sent to Jamaica at the age of 13 where he may have taken an interest in plants.

He practised medicine in a poor area of the East End of London and took an interest in botany and entomology in his spare time or when on vacation in Cobham, Kent.

 

Tytler Whittle in his book, The Plant Hunters, describes the area where he lived:

What is known is that Wellclose Square, that part of dockland where he lived, was a Sherlock Holmes sort of place; not exactly producing lepers, abominable lascars and wicked Chinamen, but giving that impression all the same.

And had Holmes and Watson been acquainted with their contemporary, Dr. Nathaniel Ward, undoubtedly they would have admired his scientific method of observing and deducing.

 

Plant Hunters: Being an Examination of Collecting, with an Account ...

 

Ward qualified as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in London in 1814.

 

Ward first noticed the effects of a hermetically sealed glass container in 1829.

He had placed a chrysalis of a sphinx moth in damp soil at the bottom of a bottle and covered it with a lid.

A week later he noticed that a fern and grass seedling had sprouted from the soil.

His interest piqued, he saw that evaporated moisture condensed on the walls of the bottle during the day and ran back down into the soil towards evening, maintaining a constant humidity.

The glass case that he used to rear butterflies and grow plants was used widely during the time for introducing plants into the British colonies.

His first experiments with plants inside glass cases started in 1830.

 

Urban Legends: Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward, inventor of the Wardian ...

 

In 1833 George Loddiges (1786 – 1846) used Wardian cases for shipping plants from Australia and said that “whereas I used formerly to lose nineteen out of the twenty of the plants I imported during the voyage, nineteen out of the twenty is now the average of those that survive”.

Loddiges was the vice-president of the Horticultural Society and Wardian cases became popular.

 

Wardian Cases Made Gardening Obsessions Possible | Archive ...

 

Ward attempted to make a greenhouse at the Clapham garden on the principle of the Wardian case.

 

Urban Legends: Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward, inventor of the Wardian ...

 

This was however critiqued by fellow botanist John Lindley (1799 – 1865) in the Gardeners’ Chronicle, who wrote that “when it is opened and shut from day to day, it has no more right to the name of Wardian case than a common greenhouse”.

Lindley also wrote saying that Ward had an inordinate vanity and a desire to be “recognised as a second Newton”.

 

John Lindley - Wikipedia

 

Dr Ward delivered a lecture on his discovery of a way to preserve plants in 1854 to the Royal Society at the Chelsea Physic Garden.

He also worked on microscopy and helped in the development of the Chelsea Physic Garden as a member of the board.

 

On The Growth of Plants in Closely Glazed Cases: Ward, Nathaniel ...

 

In 1877, the number of medical students regularly visiting the Garden leapt from a few hundred in previous years to 3,500.

The sudden rise in numbers was largely due to the Apothecaries allowing women to study medicine for the first time in their history.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden - Lady Victoria Marjorie Harriet als ...

 

Lilian Clarke (1866–1934) was a botany teacher at James Allen’s Girls’ School in Dulwich, South London from 1896 to 1926, where she developed botanical gardens, which became known as ‘The Botany Gardens‘.

 

James Allen’s Girl’s School (JAGS).jpg

 

At the age of 19 she was awarded the Society of Apothecaries gold medal for her botanical studies undertaken at Chelsea Physic Garden and completed her BSc. Degree in 1893, after studying botany under Professor F.W. Oliver at University College London.

 

Entrance to Apothecaries' Hall

 

Clarke become a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, elected in one of the first groups of women Fellows during the period 1904–1905, following the announcement to admit women and she was also active in the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

 

The Linnean Society.png

 

In 1917 the degree of Doctor of Science, for a thesis on the botanical education she had developed at James Allen’s Girls’ School, was conferred on Clarke by the University of London.

The Botany Gardens were an outdoor laboratory, the first such at a school in the UK, where subjects such as plant growth and pollination could be observed.

 

Clarke encouraged her pupils to make their own books rather than use textbooks.

 

When the ecology of plants took precedence over knowledge of ‘the natural orders‘ in examinations, Clarke, supported by the eminent British ecologist Arthur George Tansley, created a new series of beds in her garden to replicate examples of British habitats, such as salt marsh and pebble beach.

 

(Sir Arthur George Tansley (1871 – 1955) was an English botanist and a pioneer in the science of ecology.

He was a pioneer of the science of ecology in Britain, being heavily influenced by the work of Danish botanist Eugenius Warming, and introduced the concept of the ecosystem into biology.

Tansley was a founding member of the first professional society of ecologists, the Central Committee for the Survey and Study of British Vegetation, which later organised the British Ecological Society, and served as its first president and founding editor of the Journal of Ecology.

Tansley also served as the first chairman of the British Nature Conservancy.)

 

Arthur-Tansley-1893.jpg

Above: Arthur Tansley

 

The support of William Hales, curator of Chelsea Physic Garden from 1899-1937 to Clarke is recorded in her publication, The Botany Gardens Of The James Allen’s Girls’ School, Dulwich: Their History And Organisation, published by the London Board of Education.

Clarke describes the plants at the edge of the pond:

Forget-Me-Knots, Brooklime, Musk, Water-Mint, Yellow Iris, Water Plantain, Arrowhead, etc.

A little farther in are partially submerged plants such as Water Lilies, Floating Pondweed, and totally submerged plants such as Elodea.

Some of the pond plants were given by Mr. Hales, Curator of the Chelsea Physic Garden, to whom many thanks are due for valuable help in designing the pond and in other matters.

— Clarke
Taking my medicine at the Chelsea Physic Garden – Clare Gleeson

Clarke goes on to say that:

‘The pond has proved a great success and of the utmost value in our lessons.”

 

Event - An exclusive botanical and art history day in Cambridge ...

 

Significantly, for contemporary botanical educators, Clarke also stated, in a book published posthumously, that the gardens ‘have become, in many cases, out-of-door laboratories, and the work indoors and out of doors is one.’

Clarke communicated with representatives of the professional botanical community and worked hard to be visible in the wider scientific milieu of her time.

 

Botany As An Experimental ScienceIn Laboratory And Garden.: Lilian ...

 

By 1895 the Apothecaries had decided that they no loger needed the Garden as the study of plants had been dropped from the medical syllabus.

The Garden’s future was again in peril but in 1899 a solution was found in the form of the City Parochial Foundation.

The charity took over running the Garden with a new remit to support students studying botany in London.

William Hales oversaw the Garden at this time and reorganized the Order Beds, installed the Glasshouses (which remains today) and made other improvements, financed by selling off a strip of land to the north of the site.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden awarded £172,500 grant for glasshouse ...

 

The Garden’s role shifted again in the 1820s as it took on important agricultural research work, including developing winter wheat yield and disease resistance in potatoes.

This continued until the 1970s when the Agricultural Research Council relocated their trials and laboratories.

The Garden was still sending plant specimens to universities and colleges, but these institutions steadily began growing their own.

 

Free Royal Wedding Party at the Chelsea Physic Garden | A Little Bird

 

By the late 1970s the City Parochial Foundation was considering withdrawing from the Garden, so a symposium on its future was held.

None of the institutions noted by Sloane were able to take over the Garden leading to a fresh crisis.

Employees, friends and associates of the Garden rallied, raising significant reserve funds and creating the registered charity, Chelsea Physic Garden Company, in 1984.

Visitor numbers increased rapidly from this point as the “secret garden” was finally available to the wider public.

 

English Garden of the Week - Chelsea Physic Garden - The English ...

 

The last three decades have seen the Garden develop its role as a conservator and demonstrator of medicinal, useful and economically important plants.

Today, the collection totals some 5,000 plants including endangered and unusual species rarely seen elsewhere.

Notable among the plants that benefit from the Garden’s unique microclimate are the UK’s largest outdoor fruiting olive and grapefruit trees, and a five meter tall pomegranate.

 

Jack Wallington on Twitter: "We saw lots of pomegranate trees at ...

 

The Garden still provides services to a number of research institutions and runs its own horticultural trainee programme and courses along with welcoming some 3,000 school children and 50,000 visitors a year.

Five gardeners and two trainees tend the site year-round, assisted by loyal volunteers who work as guides, gardeners, event organizers, seed processors, education assistants and growers.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden | Judas tree, Garden, Medicinal plants

 

Seasonal events such as the Christmas Fair and Snowdrop Openings, along with numerous other activities in the Garden, are also supported by our volunteer teams.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden Christmas Fair | The List

 

Regular visits reveal the sites’ ever-changing flora, temporary exhibitions, seasonal show gardens and extraordinary plants that only bloom for a matter of days before disappearing below ground until the following year.

The role fulfilled by this small riverside botanic garden may have evolved over the centuries but today,as in the past, education is always at its heart.

 

Snowdrop days at the Chelsea Physic Garden - Lingua Holidays

 

The Garden is divided into 12 sections:

  • the Garden of Medicinal Plants
    • the Garden of World Medicine (with medicinal plants arranged by the culture which uses them)
    • the Pharmaceutical Garden (with plants arranged according to the ailment they are used to treat)
  • the Pond Rockery
  • the Dicotyledon Order Beds
  • the Atlantic Island Collection
  • the Garden of Edible Plants
  • the British Natives
  • the Garden of Useful Plants
  • the South American Plants section
  • the World Woodland Garden
  • the Monocotyledon Order Beds
  • the History Beds
  • Glasshouses

 

Map of Chelsea Physic Garden | Freed From Time

 

In the Garden of Medicinal Plants, where the Garden began and its raison d’être, for when the Chelsea Physic Garden was established in 1673 its role was to provide a living medicine chest in which young apothecaries could learn to identify key medicinal plants.

Throughout the centuries that role has evolved but to this day medicinal students still visit the Garden, now to learn about the history of plant-based medicine.

In this section the visitor can see over 400 medicinal plants of the past, present and future on display, with three beds dedicated to modern herbal remedies as well as an area of plants which the Apothecaries would have grown in the 17th and 18th centuries.

 

medicinal plants | Decorator's Notebook blog

 

Here one learns how Ricinus communis (the castor oil plant) is widely distributed as a source of castor oil and the toxin ricin.

 

Ricinus March 2010-1.jpg

 

The name Ricinus is a Latin word for tick.

The seed is so named because it has markings and a bump at the end that resemble certain ticks.

The common name “castor oil” comes from its use as a replacement for castoreum, a perfume base made from the dried perineal glands of the beaver (castor in Latin).

It has another common name, palm of Christ, or Palma Christi, that derives from castor oil’s reputed ability to heal wounds and cure ailments.

 

 

Its seed is the castor bean, which, despite its name, is not a true bean.

 

 

Castor is indigenous to the southeastern Mediterranean Basin, Eastern Africa, and India, but is widespread throughout tropical regions (and widely grown elsewhere as an ornamental plant).

 

 

Castor seed is the source of castor oil, which has a wide variety of uses.

The seeds contain between 40% and 60% oil that is rich in triglycerides, mainly ricinolein.

The seed also contains ricin, a water-soluble toxin, which is also present in lower concentrations throughout the plant.

 

 

Castor oil has many uses in medicine and other applications.

 

Castor Oil: Magic or Myth (Part 1) – Naturopathic Doctor News and ...

 

It can protect the liver from damage from certain poisons and there are antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties to be found in ethanolic extracts of the Ricinus communis root bark.

 

Extracts of Ricinus communis can kill ticks and mosquitoes.

 

Members of the Bodo tribe of Bodoland in Assam, India, use the leaves of this plant to feed and rear the larvae of muga and endi silkworms.

 

 

Ricinus communis is the host plant of the common castor butterfly (Ariadne merione), the eri silkmoth (Samia cynthia ricini), and the castor semi-looper moth (Achaea janata).

It is also used as a food plant by the larvae of some other species.

 

Muga silk mekhalas with jaapi

 

Castor oil is an effective motor lubricant and has been used in internal combustion engines, including those of World War I airplanes, some racing cars and some model airplanes.

It has historically been popular for lubricating two-stroke engines due to high resistance to heat compared to petroleum-based oils.

It does not mix well with petroleum products, particularly at low temperatures, but mixes better with the methanol-based fuels used in glow model engines.

In total-loss-lubrication applications, it tends to leave carbon deposits and varnish within the engine.

It has been largely replaced by synthetic oils that are more stable and less toxic.

 

 

Jewelry is often made of castor beans, particularly necklaces and bracelets.

 

The castor bean necklace

 

The toxicity of raw castor beans is due to the presence of ricin.

Although the lethal dose in adults is considered to be four to eight seeds, reports of actual poisoning are relatively rare.

 

According to the Guinness World Records, this is the world’s most poisonous common plant.

 

Guinness World Records logo.svg

 

Symptoms of overdosing on ricin, which can include nausea, diarrhea, tachycardia, hypotension and seizures, persist for up to a week.

 

3205 - Milano, Duomo - Giorgio Bonola - Miracolo di Marco Spagnolo (1681) - Foto Giovanni Dall'Orto, 6-Dec-2007-cropped.jpg

 

However, the poison can be extracted from castor by concentrating it with a fairly complicated process similar to that used for extracting cyanide from almonds.

 

Raw Almonds (No Shell) - By the Pound - Nuts.com

If ricin is ingested, symptoms commonly begin within 2–4 hours, but may be delayed by up to 36 hours.

These include a burning sensation in the mouth and throat, abdominal pain, purging and bloody diarrhea.

Within several days there is severe dehydration, a drop in blood pressure and a decrease in urine.

Unless treated, death can be expected to occur within 3–5 days.

 

Ricin

 

However, in most cases a full recovery can be made.

 

Poisoning occurs when animals, including humans, ingest broken castor beans or break the seed by chewing:

Intact seeds may pass through the digestive tract without releasing the toxin.

The toxin provides the castor oil plant with some degree of natural protection from insect pests such as aphids.

 

ayhan on Twitter: "What the FUCK. Ricin victims are likely to ...

 

Ricin has been investigated for its potential use as an insecticide.

The castor oil plant is also the source for undecylenic acid, a natural fungicide.

 

Commercially available cold-pressed castor oil is not toxic to humans in normal doses, either internal or externally.

 

Castor Oil – Aussie Candle Supplies

 

Ricin, a lectin (a carbohydrate-binding protein) produced in the seeds of the castor oil plant, Ricinus communis, is a highly potent toxin.

 

A dose of purified ricin powder the size of a few grains of table salt can kill an adult human.

 

Breaking Bad Fan Jailed over Ricin Plot | News - Hits Radio

 

Ricinus is extremely allergenic and has an OPALS (Ogren Plant Allergy Scale – an allergy rating system for plants that measures the potential of a plant to cause allergic reactions in humans) rating of 10 out of 10.

 

OPALS™ Ratings - Allergy Friendly Plants

 

The plant is also a very strong trigger for asthma and allergies to Ricinus are commonplace and severe.

The castor oil plant produces abundant amounts of very light pollen, which easily become airborne and can be inhaled into the lungs, triggering allergic reactions.

The sap of the plant causes skin rashes.

Individuals who are allergic to the plant can also develop rashes from merely touching the leaves, flowers, or seeds.

 

 

Ricin has been involved in a number of incidents.

 

In 1978, the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov was assassinated by Bulgarian secret police who surreptitiously shot him on a London street with a modified umbrella using compressed gas to fire a tiny pellet contaminated with ricin into his leg.

He died in a hospital a few days later and his body was passed to a special poison branch of the British Ministry of Defence that discovered the pellet during an autopsy.

The prime suspects were the Bulgarian secret police:

Georgi Markov had defected from Bulgaria some years previously and had subsequently written books and made radio broadcasts that were highly critical of the Bulgarian communist regime.

However, it was believed at the time that Bulgaria would not have been able to produce the pellet, and it was also believed that the KGB had supplied it.

The KGB denied any involvement, although high-profile KGB defectors Oleg Kalugin and Oleg Gordievsky have since confirmed the KGB’s involvement.

 

Poison has long history as weapon of murder

 

Earlier, Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918 – 2008) also suffered (but survived) ricin-like symptoms after an encounter in 1971 with KGB agents.

 

Solzhenitsyn in 1974

 

Ten days before the attack on Georgi Markov another Bulgarian defector, Vladimir Kostov, survived a similar attack.

Kostov was standing on an escalator of the Paris Metro when he felt a sting in his lower back above the belt of his trousers.

He developed a fever, but recovered.

After Markov’s death the wound on Kostov’s back was examined and a ricin-laced pellet identical to the one used against Markov was removed.

 

10 Deadliest Poisons Known to Man

 

Several terrorists and terrorist groups have experimented with ricin and caused several incidents of the poisons being mailed to US politicians.

For example, on 29 May 2013, two anonymous letters sent to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg contained traces of it.

 

How Mike Bloomberg makes and spends his $50 billion fortune ...

 

Another was sent to the offices of Mayors Against Illegal Guns in Washington DC.

 

Mayor Murray joins Mayors Against Illegal Guns, national ...

 

A letter containing ricin was also alleged to have been sent to American President Barack Obama at the same time.

Actress Shannon Richardson was later charged with the crime, to which she pleaded guilty that December.

On 16 July 2014, Richardson was sentenced to 18 years in prison plus a restitution fine of $367,000.

 

Barack Obama – Wikipedia

 

Actress who tried to set up hubby is busted for ricin letters to ...

 

On 2 October 2018, two letters suspected of containing ricin were sent to The Pentagon:

  • one addressed to Secretary of Defense James Mattis
  • the other to Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral John Richardson.

 

Pentagon announces Defense Production Act to boost coronavirus ...

 

A letter was received on 23 July 2019 at Pelican Bay State Prison in California which claimed to contain a suspicious substance.

Authorities later confirmed it contained ricin.

No detrimental exposures were identified.

 

Aerial shot of Pelican Bay State Prison, taken 27-July-2009.jpg

 

In 2020, some media in the Czech Republic reported (based on intelligence information) that a person carrying a Russian diplomatic passport and ricin had arrived in Prague with an intention to assassinate three politicians, however Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, called it fake.

The targets should have been:

  • Zdeněk Hřib, the mayor of Prague (capital of the Czech Republic), who was involved in renaming the Prague’s square “Pod Kaštany”, where the Russian Embassy is situated, to the Square of Boris Nemtsov, an opposition politician assassinated in the Kremlin in 2015.
  • Ondřej Kolář, the mayor of the Prague 6 municipality, who was involved in removing the controversial statue to the Soviet-era Marshal Konev.
  •  Pavel Novotný, the mayor of Prague’s southwestern Řeporyje district.

All three politicians received police protection.

 

Things to See in Prague - The Best Places to Visit - Amazing Czechia

 

Ricin has been used as a plot device, such as in the television series Breaking Bad.

The popularity of Breaking Bad inspired several real-life criminal cases involving ricin or similar substances.

 

A green montage with the name "Breaking Bad" written on it—the "Br" in "Breaking" and the "Ba" in "Bad" are denoted by the chemical symbols for bromine and barium

 

Kuntal Patel from London attempted to poison her mother with abrin (a toxin similar to ricin, but found in rosary peas) after the latter interfered with her marriage plans.

 

Breaking Bad inspired computer geek bought enough ricin to kill ...

 

Daniel Milzman, a 19-year-old former Georgetown University student, was charged with manufacturing ricin in his dorm room, as well as the intent of “using the ricin on another undergraduate student with whom he had a relationship“.

 

Killer searched for 'Breaking Bad' style poison before stabbing ...

 

Mohammed Ali from Liverpool, England was convicted after attempting to purchase 500 mg of ricin over the dark web from an undercover FBI agent.

He was sentenced on 18 September 2015 to eight years imprisonment.

 

Obsessed Breaking Bad fan jailed for buying enough ricin on Dark ...

 

Nonetheless, global castor seed production is around two million tons per year.

Leading producing areas are India (with over three-quarters of the global yield), China and Mozambique, and it is widely grown as a crop in Ethiopia.

 

Prime Global Capital Group Inc. - PGCG

 

Consider the Melaenca alternifolia, commonly known as tea tree, a species of tree or tall shrub in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae.

 

Melaleuca armillaris.jpg

 

Endemic to Australia, it occurs in southeast Queensland and the north coast and adjacent ranges of New South Wales where it grows along streams and on swampy flats, and is often the dominant species where it occurs.

Tea tree has been used as an alternative medicinal treatment for almost a century in Australia.

Indigenous Australians of eastern inland areas use “tea trees” as a traditional medicine by inhaling the oils from the crushed leaves to treat coughs and colds.

They also sprinkle leaves on wounds, after which a poultice is applied.

In addition, tea tree leaves are soaked to make an infusion to treat sore throats or skin ailments.

 

Australian Aboriginal Flag.svg

 

Characteristic of the myrtle family Myrtaceae, it is used to distill essential oil.

It is the primary species for commercial production of tea tree oil (melaleuca oil), a topical antibacterial.

Tea tree oil is commonly used as a topical antiseptic agent because of its antimicrobial properties, especially in the treatment of acne.

It is also known to reduce inflammation and may be effective in the treatment of fungal infections such as Athlete’s foot.

Tea tree oil should not be ingested in large amounts due to its toxicity and may cause skin irritation if used topically in high concentrations.

No deaths have been reported in medical literature.

 

 

Let us look at the Digitalis purpurea (foxglove).

Digitalis purpurea (foxglove, common foxglove, purple foxglove or lady’s glove) is a species of flowering plant in the plantain family Plantaginaceae, native to and widespread throughout most of temperate Europe.

It is also naturalised in parts of North America and some other temperate regions.

The plants are well known as the original source of the heart medicine digoxin (also called digitalis or digitalin).

Due to the presence of the cardiac glycoside digitoxin, the leaves, flowers and seeds of this plant are all poisonous to humans and some animals and can be fatal if ingested.

Extracted from the leaves, this same compound, whose clinical use was pioneered by William Withering, is used as a medication for heart failure.

 

Digitalis purpurea LC0101.jpg

 

Again, a plant that can cure or kill.

 

Wander around and find yourself capitivated by facts fun and fantastic.

  • how the Garden’s specimen of Olea europea (olive tree) is the largest olive tree grown outdoors in Britain, though native to the Mediterranean
    • We eat the fruit of the olive tree and the wood is much-prized and durable, with a strong smell similar to bay rum, and is used for fine furniture and turnery (woodcrafting).

 

The Chelsea Physic Garden | Kris Waldherr Art and Words

 

  • the Ammi visnaga, a member of the carrot family, is a source of powerful muscle relaxants
    • Known by many common names, including toothpick plant, toothpick weedbisnaga, khella, or sometimes Bishop’s weed, it is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, but it can be found throughout the world as an introduced species.
    • In Egypt, a tea made from the fruit of this species has been used as an herbal remedy for kidney stones.
    • Preparations of Ammi visnaga fruits have also been used for angina pectoris therapy – (Angina is chest pain or pressure due to not enough blood flow to the heart muscle.)

 

Ammi Visnaga (289632722).jpg

 

  • how extracts from the Catharanthus roseus (Madagascar periwinkle) are used to treat leukaemia
    • Catharanthus roseus, commonly known as bright eyes, Cape periwinkle, graveyard plant, Madagascar periwinkle, old maid, pink periwinkle, rose periwinkle, is a species of flowering plant in the family Apocynaceae.
    • It is native and endemic to Madagascar, but grown elsewhere as an ornamental and medicinal plant, a source of the drugs vincristine and vinblastine, used to treat cancer.
    • In the wild, C. roseus is an endangered plant – the main cause of decline is habitat destruction by slash and burn agriculture.
    • It is also, however, widely cultivated and is naturalised in subtropical and tropical areas of the world like Australia, Malaysia, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
    • It is so well adapted to growth in Australia, that it is listed as a noxious weed in Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory and also in parts of eastern Queensland.
    • The species has long been cultivated for herbal medicine.
    • In Ayurveda (Indian traditional medicine) the extracts of its roots and shoots, though poisonous, are used against several diseases.
    • In traditional Chinese medicine, extracts from it have been used against numerous diseases, including diabetes, malaria and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

 

 

  • Euphorbia peplus (petty spurge, radium weed, cancer weed, or milkweed) is a species of Euphorbia, native to most of Europe, northern Africa and western Asia, where it typically grows in cultivated arable land, gardens, and other disturbed land.
    • Outside of its native range it is very widely naturalised and often invasive, including in Australia, New Zealand, North America, and other countries in temperate and subtropical regions.
    • The plant’s sap is toxic to rapidly replicating human tissue and has long been used as a traditional remedy for common skin lesions (rashes).
    • A pharmaceutical-grade gel from this plant has approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for treatment of actinic keratosis (commonly called old age sores).
    • In Germany, recent studies have linked Euphorbia peplus with the virtual elimination of Bowen disease (a type of skin cancer).

 

E peplus.jpg

 

So much to learn, so much to discover, so much we never think about.

 

Modern medicine’s foundations are built upon the recommendations of healers and shamans, witch doctors and herbalists worldwide over the last 5,000 years.

We in the West think Western medicine is the end-all and be-all of our health care, but many of the first healing systems that were born in China and India continue to this day with traditional herbal medicine the only health care option for 80% of the world’s population.

 

 

In India, Ocimum tenuiflorum (holy basil) is used to treat sore throats, coughs and colds, while Elettaria cardamomum (cardamom) is administered for stomach issues.

 

ElettariaCardamomum.jpg

 

In the Orient, Coptis chinensis (Chinese goldthread) is used against diseases of the digestive tract.

 

Coptis occidentalis.jpg

 

In Africa, Agapanthus africanus (African lily) is used to aid speedy childbirth.

 

Agapanthus-umbellatus.jpg

 

The Pond Rockery, the oldest rockery in Europe, built in 1773, has numerous rare, endangered and unusual species from southern Europe and North Africa, and features stone from the Tower of London and basalt from Iceland.

 

Tower of London und Tower Bridge - Privater Rundgang 2020 ...

 

Here are saffron crocuses, calico Minoans, tubular Spanish foxglove, cliff dwelling purple gromwells, delicate spurge, White peonies, blue Cretan campanola, Egyptian shrubs, Moroccan pale blue squalls…..

 

And what is that?

What is that called?

And, oh, how exotic flora becomes!

 

Nightshade, sweet peas, weeping mulberry…..

 

Brugmansia lg.jpg

 

Who could have imagined…..

  • a flower that produces a red dye that was used to colour soldiers’ tunics scarlet?
  • a thorny tree that was the source of Christ’s crucifixion crown?
  • a twining vine that has silently twisted its way across Europe, Asia and Africa?
  • a plant so rare it began at this Garden?
  • tree poppies, red monocarp, pink candelabra, fine white haired sage?

 

Matilija poppy closeup.jpg

 

And consider what we consume…..

  • pickled capers, screw pine rice, dye pancakes, mustard, American ground nuts, Japanese ginger, South American tubers, muscat of Alexandria, rice, rice, baby…..

 

How to pickle capers at home | From the Grapevine

 

To be in Britain one must consider as well what is endemic to Britain:

  • the woodlander, viper’s bugloss, corncockle, field poppy, ox dye daisy, yellow waterlily, bog bean, sea kale and home to diverse wildlife such as toads, frogs, newts and dragonflies

 

PHI Essences - Common viper's bugloss / Natternkopf

 

That wicked weed, that slovenly shrub, that brilliant bush, that typical tree, that finicky flower…..

 

So much we see without seeing the possibilities inherant within them.

  • marigolds that can treat wounds and swelling and calm fevers
  • vervain that can combat jaundice and gout and stimulate lactation in new mothers
  • St. John’s wort, a strong anti-inflammatory that conquers back pain
  • China rose to treat menstrual disorder
  • Saffron used as a sedative or to induce sweating
  • Cloves used as an antiseptic and anaesthetic in dentistry
  • Hops useful for anxiety, insomnia and stomach pain
  • Opium as cough medicine
  • Ginger to keep you from coughing, farting or losing your breath
  • Garlic against leprosy and smallpox
  • Wild celery to help you pee and treat rheumatism and Arthritis
  • Mint to ease digestion
  • Rosemary to aid memory or to banish bad dreams
  • Aloe vera to soothe rashes and itches
  • And so on, and so on, and so on…..

 

TUI Deutschland GmbH - Reisebericht: Chelsea Physic Garden - Oase ...

 

Rarely do most of us consider that plants have been used throughout history to make music, art, perfume, buildings and consumables, along with species used to detoxicate the land, oxidate the air and celebrate different faiths.

  • plants that produce dyes, cotton cellulose used in cinema and photography until the 1980s, and roses for perfume…..
  • plants that produce fabric and rope and building material and edible oils and paper…..
  • plants that can clear radioactivity from the soil
  • plants commonly used in research
  • plants used in cosmetics
  • plants that produce edible fruit and seeds and leaves

 

Chelsea Physic Garden | London | United Kingdom | AFAR

 

So much diversity in infinite combinations…..

So many forms and features and functions…..

 

Since humans first walked on Earth, we have relied on the wealth of our woods to provide furniture, food, shelter, medicine, fire and tools.

 

How people get lost in the woods + what to do if it happens to you ...

 

Consider a visit to the glasshouses where one can see:

  • a tree found only on the remote island of St. Helena
  • the pride of Madiera that is highly attractive to bees and butterflies
  • chocolate – the food of the gods
  • coffee – the spark of life
  • red roots that remove bronchitis
  • Paraguayan perennials that are calorie free sweeteners used in a number of carbonated drinks
  • a cactus look-a-like that produces a sticky white latex
  • fern fronds that can be used as trail markers in the dark
  • edibles once deemed exotic (papaya, guava, pepper, banana)
  • staple crops like rice and cassava (this last is the world’s 5th most grown starchy food)
  • orchids that produce vanilla
  • the Kapok tree used for stuffing pillows…..

 

Chelsea Physic Garden Wins National Lottery Support For Glasshouse ...

 

 

And thanks to the Garden, many plants that are under threat in the wild due to relentless urbanization, agriculture, tourism and wildfires are here preserved both as exhibited plants as well as a gene bank of their seeds to ensure future survival.

 

7 secret city gardens to explore

 

The challenges faced by the world’s ever-expanding population make the Garden’s purpose stronger than ever as it strives to promote the conservation of plants and demonstrate the utter dependence we have upon them.

 

Chelsea Physic Garden | Medicinal plants, Garden, Garden plants

 

Sometimes we need a reminder of the fragility, the complexity, the wonder and the splendour of life to truly appreciate what we have.

And given a choice between a perambulation (a walk or a stroll) in a paradise and a visit from a virus, I think most of us prefer the former.

Perhaps it is the latter that forces ackowledgement and appreciation of the terrible beauty all around us…..

 

Chelsea Physic Garden

 

Sources: Wikipedia / Google / The Rough Guide to London / Rachel Howard and Bill Nash, Secret London: An Unusual Guide / Kathy Willis, Botanicum / Chelsea Physic Garden Guide

 

Canada Slim and the Humanitarian Adventure

Landschlacht, Switzerland, Tuesday 10 December 2019

There are things in Switzerland (and in our existence) that we simply take for granted:

And the thing about Swiss stereotypes is that some of them are true.

Diplomatic?

Yes.

Efficient?

Absolutely.

Boring?

Only at first glance.

Despite being one of the most visited countries in Europe, Switzerland remains one of the least understood.

It is more than simply the well-ordered land of cheese, chocolate, banks and watches.

It is more than a warm summer mountain holiday upon a cobalt blue lake, more than skiing down the slopes of some vertiginous Alp, more than postcard pristine beauty.

It is easy for the tourist to remain blissfully unaware of Swiss community spirit, that it speaks four official languages, that it possesses stark regional differences from canton to canton, that it has exubrant carnivals, culinary traditions and sophisticated urban centres.

 

Flag of Switzerland

 

With its beautiful lakeside setting, Geneva (Genève) is a cosmopolitan city whose modest size belies its wealth and importance on the world stage.

French-speaking and Calvinistic it is a dynamic centre of business with an outward-looking character tempered by a certain reserve.

Geneva’s major sights are split by the Rhône River that flows into Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) and through the city’s several distinct neighbourhoods.

On the south bank (rive gauche), mainstream shopping districts Rive and Eaux-Vives climb from the water’s edge to Plainpalais and Vieille Ville, while the north bank (rive droite) holds grungy bars and hot clubbing Pâquis, the train station area and some world organizations.

 

A view over Geneva and the lake

 

A little over 1 km north of the train station is the international area, home to dozens of international organizations that are based in Geneva –  everything from the World Council of Churches to Eurovision.

Trains and buses roll up to the Place des Nations.

Gates on the Place des Nations open to the Palais des Nations, now occupied by UNOG, the United Nations Office at Geneva, the European headquarters of the United Nations, accessible only to visitors who sign up for a tour.

The huge monolith just off the square to the west, that looks like a bent playing card on its edge, is WIPO (the World Intellectual Property Organization), the highrise to the south is ITU (the International Telecommunications Union), just to the east is UNHCR (the United Nations High Commission for Refugees), and so on, and so on, and so on, an infinite combination of letters of the alphabet in an infinite variety of abbreviations and acronyms.

The giant Broken Chair which looms over the square was installed in 1997 for the international conference in Ottawa (Canada’s capital) banning the use of land mines, a graphic symbol of the victims of such weapons.

 

Image result for place des nations geneva images"

 

Geneva is also the birthplace of the International Red Cross / Crescent / Crystal Movement.

And it was the latter, along with the International Museum of the Reformation, that compelled me to visit Geneva.

 

Image result for ICRC museum geneva images"

 

(For details about the Musée Internationale de la Réforme, please see Canada Slim and the Third Man in my other blog, The Chronicles of Canada Slim.)

 

Genevè, Suisse, mardi le 23 janvier 2018

Housed within the HQ of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Musée International de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant Rouge chronicles the history of modern conflict and the role the Red Cross has played in providing aid to combatants and civilians caught up in war and natural disasters.

Enter through a trench in the hillside opposite the public entrance of UNOG and emerge into an enclosed glass courtyard beside a group of bound and blindfolded stone figures.

The stone gathering represents the continual worldwide violation of human rights.

 

Image result for icrc museum geneva trenches images"

 

Inside, above the ticket desk, is a quotation in French from Dostoevsky:

Everyone is responsible to everyone else for everything.

 

Portrait by Vasili Perov, 1872

Above: Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821 – 1881)

 

A free audioguide takes you through the Museum.

 

Twenty-five years ago, Laurent Marti, a former ICRC delegate, had the idea of creating the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum.

 

Image result for laurent marti images"

Above: Laurent Marti

 

Marti won the wives of US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Premier Gorbachev over to his cause in a bid to obtain the support of their respective countries, together with that of local and international societies and personages and of various multinational companies representing a full range of human activities.

 

Nancy Reagan.jpg

Above: Nancy Reagan (née Davis) (1921 – 2016)

 

RIAN archive 684237 Raisa Gorbacheva, spouse of CPSU General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev.jpg

Above: Raisa Gorbacheva (née Titarenko) (1932 – 1999)

 

The goal of the Museum is to emanate a very powerful atmosphere where no one leaves without having been shaken and deeply moved by what they had seen.

Suffering, death, wounds and mutiliations can be followed by a time of healing, restoration, reunification and an opportunity to be happy again, a right that seemed to have been withdrawn.

Of course, the scars remain deep within the human soul, but the hope of restoration and of a return to normalcy is the message of the Museum.

 

Image result for icrc museum geneva images"

 

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is dedicated to preventing and alleviating human suffering in warfare and in emergencies, such as earthquakes, epidemics and floods.

The Movement is composed of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the 188 individual national societies.

Each has its own legal identity and role, but they are all united by seven fundamental principles:

  •  humanity
  •  impartiality
  •  neutrality
  •  independence
  •  voluntary service
  •  unity
  •  universality

The interactive chronology covers one and a half centuries of history, starting with the creation of the Red Cross.

For each year, the events listed include:

  •  armed conflicts which caused the death of more than 10,000 people and/or affected more than one million people
  •  epidemics and disasters that caused the deaths of more than 1,000 people and/or affected more than one million people
  •  significant events in the history of the Movement
  •  cultural and scientific milestones

 

Flag of the ICRC.svg

 

In 1859 Henri Dunant was travelling on business through northern Italy.

 

Henry Dunant-young.jpg

Above: Henri Dunant (1828 – 1910)

 

He found himself close to the Solferino battlefield just after the fighting.

The battle of Solferino was a key episode in the Italian Wars.

 

Yvon Bataille de Solferino Compiegne.jpg

 

With the support of France under Napoleon III, Victor Emmanuel II of Savoy, King of Piedmont, endeavoured to unite the different Italian states.

In spring 1859 the Piedmont forces clashed with the Austrian Empire, which had control over Lombardy and Venetia.

On 24 June 1859, the Franco-Piedmontese troops defeated the Austrians at Solferino, in a battle that left more than 40,000 dead and wounded.

Overwhelmed by the sight of thousands of wounded soldiers left without medical care, Dunant organized basic relief with the assistance of the local people.

 

 

On that memorable 24th of June 1859, more than 300,000 men stood facing each other.

The fighting continued for more than 15 hours.

No quarter is given.

It is a sheer butchery, a struggle between savage beasts.

The poor wounded men that were picked up all day long were ghastly pale and exhausted.

Some, who had been the most badly hurt, had a stupified look.

How many brave soldiers, undettered by their first wounds, kept pressing on until a fresh shot brought them to earth.

Men of all nations lay side by side on the flagstone floors of the churches of Castiglione.

The shortage of assistants, orderlies and helpers was cruelly felt.

I sought to organize as best I could relief.

The women of Castiglione, seeing that I made no distinction between nationalities, followed my example.

Siamo tutti fratelli” (we are all brothers), they repeated feelingly.

 

Above: Ossuary of Solferino

 

But why have I told of all these scenes of pain and distress?

Is it not a matter of urgency to press forward to prevent or at least alleviate the horrors of war?

Would it not be possible, in time of peace and quiet, to form relief societies given to the wounded in wartime?

Societies of this kind, once formed and their permanent existence assured, would be always organized and ready for the possibility of war.

Would it not be desirable to formulate some international principle, sanctioned by a Convention inviolate in character, which, once agreed upon and ratified, might constitute the basis for societies for the relief of the wounded?

 

Above: Ossuary of Solferino

 

Back home in Geneva, Dunant wrote A Memory of Solferino.

The book was published in 1862 and was an immediate success.

 

 

In it, Dunant made two proposals:

  • the formation of relief societies which would care for wounded soldiers
  • the establishment of an international convention to guarantee their safety

Those ideas led, the following year, to the foundation of the Red Cross, and ten months later to the first Geneva Convention.

 

 

In 1863, in response to Dunant’s appeal, Gustave Moynier persuaded the Geneva Public Welfare Society to consider the possibility of training groups of volunteer nurses to provide relief for the wounded.

A committee was set up, the International Committee for Relief to the Wounded, the future ICRC, was born.

 

Above: Gustave Moynier (1826 – 1910)

 

The need to defend human dignity has been a constant concern throughout history.

From the Code of Hammurabi (1750 BC) to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), texts from all periods and cultures exist to testify to that.

Those texts were frequently written in response to incidents in which human dignity was shown no consideration – slavery, chemical weapons, civilian bombing, concentration camps, atomic bombing, sexual violence, landmines, child soldiers, prisoners with no legal status.

Throughout time mankind has determined:

  • that the strong should not suppress the weak (Code of Hammurabi – Mwaopotamia 1750 BC)

Above: Stele of the Code of Hammurabi

 

  • that peace is possible between warring nations (Treaty of Kadesh, the oldest peace treaty known to man and the first written international treaty –  Egypt 1279 BC)

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Above: Treaty of Kadesh

 

  • that we should be free to practice our own religions (Cyrus Cylinder – Persia 539 BC)

Front view of a barrel-shaped clay cylinder resting on a stand. The cylinder is covered with lines of cuneiform text

Above: Cyrus Cylinder

 

  • that we should not do unto others what we don’t wish done to ourselves (The Analects of Confucius – China 480 BC)

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Above: The Analects

  • that we should live lives of non-violence with respect towards all (The Edicts of Ashoka – India 260 BC)

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Above: The Edicts of Ashoka

 

  • that power should not be used arbitrarily nor imprisonment without just cause (The Magna Carta – England 1215)

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Above: Magna Carta

 

  • that all persons are free and that no one is a slave to another (The Manden Charter – Mali 1222)

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Above: The Manden Charter

 

  • that women and children and the insane have dignity and rights that must be respected (The Viqayet – Muslim Spain 1280)

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  • that mankind has natural and inalienable rights (freedom, equality, justice, community) (Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen – France 1789)

 

  • that the wounded need to be treated regardless of nationality, that all human beings are free and equal in dignity and in rights (Universal Declaration of Human Rights – United Nations 1948)

The universal declaration of human rights 10 December 1948.jpg

 

The original title of the initial Geneva Convention was the Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field.

It had only ten articles and one sole objective:

To limit the suffering caused by war.

Article 7 provided for the creation of the protective emblem of the red cross.

This document laid the foundations of international humanitarian law, marks the start of the humanitarian adventure.

By 2013, 194 nations are party to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949.

(See http://www.icrc.org for the complete list.)

 

The Museum explains how the Geneva Conventions developed from one man’s battlefield encounter.

After Dunant’s publication of A Memory of Solferino in November 1862, Gustave Moynier (1826 – 1910), chairman of the Geneva Public Welfare Society, in response to Dunant’s appeal, persuaded Society members the following February to consider the possibility of training groups of volunteer nurses to provide relief for the war wounded.

An ad hoc committee was set up – the International Committee for Relief to the Wounded.

The future ICRC was born.

 

Above: ICRC Headquarters, Geneva

 

Ambulances and military hospitals shall be recognized as neutral and as such protected and respected by the belligerants as long as they accommodate wounded and sick.” (Article 1)

Inhabitants of the country who bring help to the wounded shall be respected and shall remain free.” (Article 5)

Wounded or sick combatants, to whatever nation they may belong, shall be collected and cared for.” (Article 6)

A distinctive and uniform flag shall be adopted for hospitals, ambulances and evacuation parties.” (Article 7)

A red cross on a white background was adopted in 1863, followed by a red crescent, a red lion and red sun (1929) and a red crystal (2005).

Flag of the Red Cross.svg

Flag of the Red Crescent.svg

Red Lion with Sun.svgFlag of the Red Crystal.svg

 

To protect the victims of conflict, the ICRC has at its disposal several instruments defined by international humanitarian law.

“At all times, parties to the conflict shall, without delay, take all possible measures to search for and collect the wounded and sick.”

“The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack.”

“The parties to the conflict shall endeavour to conclude local agreements for the passage of medical personnel and medical equipment.”

“Civilian hospitals may in no circumstances be the object of attack.”

“It is prohibited to commit any acts of hostility directed against historic monuments, works of art or places of worship.”

“Works or installations containing dangerous forces, namely dams, dykes and nuclear stations shall not be made the object of attack.”

“It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensible to the survival of the civilian population.”

 

Above: The Red Cross in action, 1864

 

The Second World War (1939 – 1945) involved 61 countries in war and caused the death of around 60 million people, more than half of whom were civilians.

In 1945 more than 20 million people had been displaced.

In 1995 the ICRC publicly described its attitude to the Second World War Holocaust as a “moral failure“.

 

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Above: Images of World War II (1939 – 1945)

 

The persecution of the Jews by the Nazis began shortly after Hitler came to power in 1933 and subsequently continued to intensify, culminating in systematic extermination from 1942 onwards.

 

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Above: Auschwitz, Poland, May 1944

 

At the time, the ICRC had no legal instrument to protect civilians.

The 1929 Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War applied only to members of the armed forces.

The organization thus considered itself powerless in the face of the anti-Semitic fury of the Nazi dictatorship.

 

Flag of Germany

 

Thus in October 1942 the Committee refused, in particular, to launch a public appeal on behalf of civilians affected by the conflict.

Although the International Red Cross endeavoured to provide aid for Jewish civilians, it erred on the side of caution.

 

Above: Jewish women, occupied Paris, June 1942

 

It was not until the spring of 1944 that a change of strategy took shape.

As Germany’s war efforts collapsed, ICRC delegates belatedly managed to enter some concentration camps, becoming voluntary hostages in order to prevent the further massacre or forced evacution of the prisoners.

 

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Above: Auschwitz, May 1944

 

The harsh lesson of the Second World War had been learned.

In 1949 the Fourth Geneva Convention was adopted:

It provides protection for civilians during armed conflict.

It was complemented in 1977 by additional protocols which reinforce the protection given to victims of armed conflicts, international or domestic.

In particular, the additional protocols established the distinction between civilians and combatants.

 

In an armed conflict, the ICRC’s mandate is to ensure respect for the Geneva Conventions.

When the ICRC observes serious violations of the Conventions, it points them out to the countries concerned in confidential reports.

However, on occasion, that information has been published in the press:

  • Le Monde during the Algerian War

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Above: Images of the Algerian War (1954 – 1962)

 

  • The Wall Street Journal about Abu Ghraib Prison

Above: Lynndie England with “Gus“, Abu Ghraib Prison, Iraq

 

  • The New York Review of Books / Wikileaks about Guantanamo Prison

Above: Guantanamo “Gitmo” Prison, Cuba

 

Such leaks put the ICRC in a difficult position as discretion is a necessary part of its work and its discussions with the authorities.

Its confidentialiy policy actually facilitates access to detainees, wounded people and groups of civilians.

When humanitarian diplomacy fails, the ICRC then resorts to a more open form of communication.

It then issues press releases publicly condemning serious violations of the Conventions.

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In the 1980s the United Nations Security Council set up ad hoc tribunals to judge the crimes committed in former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda.

In 1998 the International Criminal Court (ICC) was established.

It was a permanent institution with the power to open investigations, to prosecute and to try people accused of committing war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity.

The ICC began its work in 2005 by opening three investigations into crimes:

  • in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • in Uganda
  • in the Sudan

The existence of a permanent international court gives the world the means of determining facts and of punishing those responsible for the crimes.

It gives victims an opportunity to have their voice heard.

 

Official logo of International Criminal Court Cour pénale internationale  (French)

Above: Logo of the International Criminal Court

 

Poverty, migration, urban violence….

All of them are present-day threats to human dignity.

All over the world, large sections of the population are living in extremely precarious hygenic conditions.

 

Economic changes are forcing more and more people to emigrate.

Those migrants, who frequently have no identity documents, are exploited and ostracized.

In some megacities, whole districts are at the mercy of armed groups which terrorize the inhabitants.

Each of those situations presents a challenge to which a response must be found.

 

Above: Syrian refugees, Ramtha, Jordan, August 2013

 

Since the First World War, the ICRC has had the right to visit prisoners of war and civilian detainees during an international armed conflict.

In other situations, the right to meet prisoners must be negotiated with the authorities.

Visiting prisons, talking to the detainees and making lists of their names are ways of preventing disappearances and ill treatment.

After each prison visit, ICRC delegates write a report.

They must have access to all places of detention and be allowed to repeat their visits as often as necessary.

The visits always follow the same procedure.

Following a meeting with those in charge of the prison, the delegates inspect the premises: cells, dormitories, toilets, the exercise yard, the kitchen and any workshops.

They draw up a list of prisoners and interview them in private without witnesses.

At the end of the visit, the delegates inform those in charge of the prison of their observations.

They then prepare a confidential report for the authorities.

 

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The visitor sees many photographs of prison visits, including those to a German POW camp in Morocco, to French POWs in a German Stalag, political detainees in Chile, detainees in Djibouti….

But it is items from these visits given by prisoners to the ICRC delegates that tell far more emotional stories.

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Some examples:

  • a model village showing ICRC activities in Rwanda
  • a doll figure of a female delegate made in an Argentinian prison
  • a pearl snake made by Ottoman prisoners
  • a necklace with a Red Cross pendant made by a lady prisoner in Lebanon
  • a ciborium (a container for Catholic mass hosts – symbols of the body of Christ) made of bread by Polish prisoners of conscience
  • a bar of soap carved into the shape of a detainee in a cell made by a Burmese artist imprisoned for suspected ties to the opposition party

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An installation in the Museum that followed seemed somewhat incongruous….

Therein the visitor can change and produce large flows of different colours by touching a wall.

The idea is that the larger the number of visitors, the richer the flow of colours, so as to provide an interactive experience that appeals to people’s senses, emotions and feelings, thus all visitors become part of a colourful celebration of human dignity.

Honestly….

This felt more like a gimmick to capture children’s hyperactive attention than an exhibit that strengthens human unity, designed more to entertain than educate.

 

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Human beings are social beings who are defined by their links with others.

When those links are broken, we lose part of our identity and our bearings.

Of the many activities the ICRC performs, the giving and receiving of news and finding one’s loved ones again are understood to be elements of stability that are critical during crisis situations.

 

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This Museum has, like the Reformation Museum in this city, as other museums in other cities and countries I have visited, its own Chamber of Witnesses – video testimonials whose lifelike likenesses are meant to invoke within the voyeur a sense of how we are not unlike those speaking with us electronically.

We see Toshihiko Suzuki, a dentist and specialist in craniofacial anatomy, tell us how he identified victims of the 2011 tsunami.

We learn of the experience of Sami El Haj, an Al Jazeera journalist held in Guantanamo from 2002 to 2008.

We consider the life of Liliose Iraguha, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide.

We marvel at the resilience of human beings by listening to Boris Cyrulnik, a French neuropsychiatrist and ethologist.

 

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During a conflict or a natural disaster, many people are cut off from their families – by capitivity, separation or disappearance.

Tracing one’s loved ones and passing on one’s news become basic needs.

 

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Originally intended for victims of war, the ICRC tracing services subsequently expanded to include persecuted civilians.

More recently, tracing activities have been extended to families who have become separated as a result of natural disasters or migration.

The International Prisoners of War Agency (1914 – 1923) was established by the ICRC, shortly after the start of the First World War – which involved 44 states and their colonies and caused the death of more than 8 million people, 20 million wounded and in the immediate post-war period of epidemics, famine and destitution another 30 million deaths.

Organised in national sections, its archives contain six million index cards that document what happened to two million people: prisoners of war, civilian internees and missing civilians from occupied areas.

The cards contain information about individual detainees. when they were taken captive, where they were held and, if relevant, when they died.

People who were without news of a loved one could present a request to the Agency, which would then send them what information it had.

Today the Agency’s documents are still used to reply to requests from families as well as to enquiries from historians.

And, as far as I could tell, the Agency is now in the Museum.

It contains:

  • 5,119 boxes with 6 million index cards
  • 2,413 files containing information provided by the belligerents
  • 600,000 pages filling 20 linear metres of general files

This location is fitting for it was in the Rath Museum in Geneva where the Agency once was.

In all, more than 3,000 volunteers, most of them women, worked there during the conflict.

During the War, the Agency dispatched 20 million messages between detainees and their families and forwarded nearly 2 million individual parcels as well as several tonnes of collective relief.

The Agency’s role was also to obtain the repatriation of prisoners who had been taken captive in breach of the Geneva Conventions: doctors, nurses, stretcher bearers and military chaplains.

It helped to ensure that the wounded were returned home or interned in neutral countries.

 

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The pacifist writer Romain Rolland was one of the Agency’s first volunteers:

Its peaceful work, its impartial knowledge of the actual facts in the belligerent countries, contribute to modify the hatred which wild stories have exasperated and to reveal what remains of humanity in the most envenomed enemy.

 

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Above: Romain Rolland (1866 – 1944)

 

It was not until the end of the Second World War that Europe realized the extent of the tragedy affecting civilians.

The International Tracing Service (ITS) was then established.

The ITS has files on more than 17 million people: civilians persecuted by the Nazis, displaced persons, children under the age of 18 who had become separated from their families, forced labourers and people held in concentration camps or labour camps.

The ITS was set up in Bad Arolsen, Germany, and has helped millions of people to trace their loved ones.

 

Above: International Tracing Services, Bad Arolsen, Germany

 

Nowadays, the need to trace missing people also extends to the victims of natural disasters and to migrants, using not only index cards, but photo tracing (used to find nearly 20,000 children missing during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda), distributions of name lists (for example, the Angola Gazette – a list of people who went missing during the Angolan Civil War from 1975 to 2002) and the Internet (for example, http://www.familylinks.icrc.org).

 

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Despite all tracing efforts, sometimes missing people do not get found, do not go home.

In that case, receiving confirmation of death puts an end to uncertainty and enables families to begin the process of mourning and to start to rebuild their lives.

The erection of memorials is one way of honouring the dead and of giving them a place of dignity in the collective memory.

 

 

For example, in 1995 the city of Srebrenica was attacked by forces under the command of General Radko Mladic.

 

 

Mladic had the women and children of this refuge of hounded Muslim civilians separated from the men and forced to leave Srebrenica.

The men were hunted down and killed.

More than 8,000 people went missing.

By 2010 only 4,500 victims had been identified and buried.

 

 

When faced with a collective tragedy and without a dead body, families are completely at a loss.

A memorial is sometimes their only means of paying tribute to the dead, of giving them a place in the collective consciousness and of recalling the events that led to those disappearances.

Examples include victims from:

  • the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima

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Above: Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbuko Dome)

 

  • the deportation of Jews from France

 

  • the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia

 

  • the Soviet gulags

Solovetsky Stone

 

  • the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, Ukraine

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  • the civil war in Peru

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  • the earthquake in Sichuan, China

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  • the 9/11 attack in New York City

 

Communication is often disrupted during a conflict or a natural disaster.

In circumstances like that, receiving news from one’s family is a source of joy and relief.

There are different ways of sending news:

  • Red Cross messages (in use for more than a century)
  • Radio messages
  • Videoconferencing
  • Satellite telephones

 

A Red Cross message is a short personal missive that was first used in the Franco-Prussian War (1870 – 1871).

It is still in use today.

Each year, thousands of messages are distributed in more than 65 countries with the help of the ICRC.

To make sure that they reach the addressees, messengers sometimes travel long distances to extremely remote areas.

The messages themselves are generally very simple.

The main thing is to enable people to pass brief news on to their loved ones – their state of health, their place of shelter or detention.

 

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For example, the Museum shows messages:

  • sent by a French POW to his godmother in Switzerland
  • exchanged by a French POW in Morocco and Algeria and his family in France
  • written by aircraft passengers taken hostage in Jordan in 1970
  • illustrated by children during the Yugoslav conflict in 1994
  • by a Sudanese detainee in Guantanamo
  • from a Greek child refugee following the Cyprus conflict of 1974
  • from a mother to her son in Liberia
  • from a little girl writing to her parents in the Congo
  • written by a woman to her brother in prison in Kirghizstan

 

In Columbia, the radio programme Las voces del secuestro broadcasts family messages to people held hostage in the jungle, enabling more than 18,000 people to send news to their loved ones.

 

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In Bagram Prison in Afghanistan, no family visits are allowed, so in 2008 the ICRC and the American authorities developed a videoconferencing system to enable the detainees to communicate with their loved ones.

In the space of just a few months, 70% of the detainees were able to contact their families.

 

Above: Parwan Detention Facility, Bagram, Afghanistan

 

And finally the Restoring Family Links exhibition concludes with works by Congolese artist Chuck Ledy and Benin artist Romuald Hazouma.

 

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Humanity has progressed by refusing to accept the inevitability of the phenomena that endanger it.

In the face of natural disasters and epidemics, communities take action to prevent the worst, to save lives and to preserve resources.

Another Chamber of Witnesses:

  • Benter Aoko Odhiambo, the head of a Kenyan orphanage and the initiator of a market gardening programme
  • Abul Hasnat, a Bangladeshi school teacher and a Red Crescent volunteer
  • Madeleen Helmer, the Dutch head of the ICRC Climate Centre
  • Jiaqi Kang, a Chinese student in Switzerland

 

After all, prevention concerns us all.

Blast Theory, a group of British artists, designed the game Hurricane to test the effectiveness of natural disaster preparedness activities.

Planting mangroves, constructing high-level shelters, building up reserve stocks of food and organizing evacuation exercises are all part of the game and involve actors such as ICRC delegates, village leaders, experts and volunteers.

As the hurricane strikes, the players have to evacuate the villagers.

At the end of the game tells us how many lives were saved.

 

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Posters are key communication instruments in prevention initiatives.

The link between pictures and text makes the messages easy for everyone to understand.

The Museum’s collection of some 12,000 posters from more than 120 countries tells of the many different activities developed by the ICRC.

Nowadays, as the impact of global warming becomes clearer, the ICRC is increasingly involved in natural disaster preparedness.

 

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The ICRC was very quick to perceive the role that the cinema could play in promoting its activities.

Some films focused on prevention – hygiene, epidemics and accidents.

Others on training volunteers in first aid or life saving.

While preventing illnesses and accidents is ancient history, the management of risks associated with natural disasters is a more recent development.

A workshop at the Haute école d’art et de design (Gèneve) was given a free hand to create new montages using more than 1,000 films from the Museum’s collection.

 

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Above: Haute école d’art et de design, Genève

 

Prevention is first and foremost about saving lives.

A number of different measures can be taken to provide protection: building shelters, installing early warning systems, carrying out evacuation exercises and providing hygiene education.

All these activities mobilize the local communities and the humanitarian organizations.

They sometimes call for substantial investment.

It is easy to raise funds during disasters when emotions are running high.

It is more difficult to raise funds for longer-term work.

Nonetheless, one dollar invested in prevention is two to ten dollars saved in emergency relief and reconstruction work.

 

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All of this is brought into sharp focus by the three “théâtres optiques” (Cyclone, Tsunami and Latrines), created for the Museum by the French artist Pierrick Sorin.

 

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Above: Pierrick Sorin

 

Let’s take, for example, Bangladesh.

 

Flag of Bangladesh

Above: Flag of Bangladesh

 

In 1970, Cyclone Bhola caused one of the worst natural disasters in history.

A 10-metre high wave and winds of 220 km/hour caused the death of 500,000 people here.

A cyclone preparedness programme was then launched, which included an early warning system, the construction of shelters and the training of evacuation volunteers.

 

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In November 2007, Cyclone Sidr, one of the most powerful ever recorded, hit parts of Bengal and Bangladesh, affecting nearly 9 million people and causing vast economic damage.

1.5 million people were evacuated before the Cyclone struck.

Although 3,500 people died, this number of deaths was far below the 1970 disaster.

 

 

Or let’s consider Brazil.

 

Flag of Brazil

Above: Flag of Brazil

 

Infectious diarrhoea can affect people throughout the world.

It is most frequently caused by water that has been contaminated by faeces.

Around 2 million people die from diarrhoea every year, most of them children in developing countries.

In 2008 more than 2 billion individuals were without suitable latrines.

Almost half of them defecated in the open air.

In 1997, the authorities in Salvador de Bahia in Brazil launched a water purification programme in the city.

A university team monitored 2,000 children under the age of 3, most of whome were living in impoverished urban districts.

The results showed that water purification had a direct impact on health:

The overall number of cases of diarrhoea fell by 22% in the city and by 43% in the poorest areas.

 

From the top, clockwise: Pelourinho with the Church of the Third Order of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Black People; view of the Lacerda Elevator from the Comércio neighborhood; Barra Lighthouse; the Historic Center seen from the Bay of All Saints; monument to the heroes of the battles of Independence of Bahia and panorama of Ponta de Santo Antônio and the district of Barra.

Above: Images of Salvador de Bahia, Brazil

 

The Museum was never designed with the intention of casting blame or lavishing praise upon particular countries or particular individuals, but rather it shows the situations, both general and particular, in which the ICRC functions and to further a better understanding of what they do.

The ICRC aids victims, not on account of their particular nationality or their particular cause, but purely and simply because they are human beings who are suffering and are in need of help.

It strives to assuage all human distress which has no hope of effective aid from other sources.

The ICRC desires to relieve above all that suffering which is brought about by man, brought about by man’s inhumanity to man, and is more painful on that account and more difficult to relieve.

 

The most terrible form of man’s inhumanity to man is war and that is why the idea of the Red Cross was born in the field of battle.

The Red Cross is a third front above and across two belligerent fronts, a third front directed against neither of them but for the benefit of both.

The combatants in this third front are interested only in the suffering of the defenceless human being, irrespective of his nationality, his convictions or his past.

The ICRC fights wherever they can against all inhumanity, against every degradation of the human personality, against all injustice directed against the defenceless.

These neutrals on this humanitarian front are free of the prejudice and hostility which is so natural to men engaged in warfare.

The dominant idea and the essence of the Geneva Convention is equality of treatment for all sick and wounded persons whether they are friends or enemies.

 

It is the fulfilment of the cry of Solferine:

Siamo tutti fratelli.

We are all brothers.

 

 

The Museum is a living embodiment of that humanitarian adventure.

It is an edifice of humanity working for humanity.

And it is good.

 

John Lennon

 

Sources: Wikipedia / Google / Lonely Planet Switzerland / Rough Guide to Switzerland / Red Cross Museum, The Humanitarian Adventure / The International Committee of the Red Cross, Basic Rules of the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols / Dr. Marcel Junod, Warrior without Weapons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canada Slim and the Man Who Invented the Future

Landschlacht, Switzerland, 21 January 2019

(Continued from Canada Slim and the Visionary & Canada Slim and the Current War)

Imagine a man a century ago, bold enough to design and actually build a huge tower with which to transmit the human voice, music, pictures, press news and even power, through the Earth to any distance whatever without wires!

He probably would have been hung or burnt at the stake.

(Hugo Gernsback, Preface to Nikola Tesla’s My Inventions: 5. The Magnifying Transmitter, Electrical Experimenter, June 1919)

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Such was the high regard that Gernsback, Tesla’s greatest admirer, had for the Serbian inventor.

Photograph of Nikola Tesla, a slender, moustachioed man with a thin face and pointed chin.

Nikola Tesla (1856 – 1943) was one of the greatest scientists and innovators during the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.

The Serbian genius went to America in 1884 and would be followed by his Luxemburger admirer Hugo Gernsback (1884 – 1967) twenty years later.

Gernsback portrait by Fabian, date unknown

 

Both men would come to America to bring realization to their visionary ideas.

 

Tesla is the creative genius behind many great inventions which are today utilized in radio, industrial and nuclear technology.

Gernsback’s contributions as a publisher were so significant that, along with the novelists H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, that he is sometimes called the Father of Science Fiction, and it is in his honour that the annual awards presented at the World Science Fiction Convention are named the Hugos.

 

For me there is an irony that Tesla was discovered by the world through Gernsback while I discovered Gernsback through the world of Tesla.

 

Belgrade, Serbia, 5 April 2018

A week’s vacation where boys will be boys in a part of the world far removed from our respective spouses found me visiting my Serbian friend Nesha in his home city of Belgrade.

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Sadly, Nesha had more obligations in Serbia than just playing host to this Canadian blogger so half my stay involved me on my own.

I had arrived the previous day, travelling with Nesha from his home in Herisau, Switzerland, to his childhood house in the Serbian capital.

After breakfast the following morning, the dateline above, I set out to explore the city.

Krunska Street runs parallel to the Bulevar (King Aleksander Boulevard, one of the longest streets in Belgrade) and, in contrast, is a relatively quiet street and makes for a very pleasant stroll.

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At Krunska 51, the Raska style villa of politician Dorde (George) Gencic, built in 1929, the Nikola Tesla Museum is engaged in educating and informing the public about the life and inventions of this Serbian scientist who died in Manhattan in 1943.

 

(Gernsback would die in the same city twenty-four years later.)

 

The Museum was founded when Sava Kosanovic, Tesla’s heir….

 

(Tesla never married.

He explained that his chastity was very helpful to his scientific abilities.

He once said in earlier years that he felt that he could never be worthy enough for a woman, considering women superior in every way.

His opinion started to sway in later years when he felt that women were trying to outdo men and make themselves more dominant.

 

(I know how he feels!)

 

This “new woman” was met with much indignation from Tesla, who felt that women were losing their feminity by trying to be in power.

In an interview with The Galveston Daily News on 10 August 1924, he stated:

In place of the soft voiced, gentle woman of my reverant worship, has come the woman who thinks that her chief success in life lies in making herself as much as possible like man – in dress, voice and actions, in sports and achievements of every kind.

The tendency of women to push aside man, supplanting the old spirit of cooperation with him in all the affairs of life, is very disappointing to me.”

 

(Clearly his confusion has carried on into the modern age where the ongoing internal struggle between a woman defining herself and letting herself be defined by others still remains.)

Although he told a reporter in later years that he sometimes felt that by not marrying, he had made too great a sacrifice to his work, Tesla chose to never pursue or engage in any known relationships, instead finding all the stimulation he needed in his work.)

 

(Unlike Tesla, Gernsback would marry three times.)

 

Kosanovic brought Tesla’s effects and legacy to Belgrade.

These mainly consist of sketches of his unrealized works, his scientific journal, personal notes and also an urn containing his ashes.

Also at the Museum are thematic rooms, categorized according to different periods of his life.

The most interesting area is certainly that containing models which explain the functioning principles behind his inventions.

Above: Tesla two-phase induction motor

 

Though quite small the Museum has several interesting items on display and an interactive exposition that will capture your attention.

It holds more than 160,000 original documents, over 2,000 books and journals, over 1,200 historical technical exhibits, over 1,500 photographs and photo plates of original, technical objects, instruments and apparatus, and over 1,000 plans and drawings.

Above: Nikola Tesla’s baptismal certificate (24 July 1856)

 

The Museum is also of interest to researchers since it keeps almost all belongings left by the eccentric scientist.

Due to the importance that Tesla’s writings still have for science, the archive of the Museum has been added to the UNESCO Memory of the World list.

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The Museum is divided into two parts.

The historical part is where one can see many of Tesla’s personal belongings, exhibits illustrating his life, awards and decorations bestowed.

The second presents the path of Tesla’s discoveries with models of his inventions in fields of electricity and engineering.

Guided tours in English and Serbian with fascinating demonstrations on how Tesla’s inventions work take place every hour on the hour.

 

Though Tesla never had great financial success, he nonetheless registered over 700 patents worldwide – examples of his best known discoveries being rotating magnetic fields, wireless communication (the foundation of remote control and radio) and rotary transformers.

During his life Tesla was recognized as a striking but sometimes eccentric genius.

Today he is praised for his great achievements:

In 1895 he designed the first hydroelectric power plant at the Niagara Falls.

Above: Schoellkopf Stations 3, 3B and 3C, Niagara Falls

 

His alternating current (AC) induction motor is considered one of the greatest discoveries of all time.

Tesla’s name has been honoured with the International Unit of Magnetic Flux Density, the Tesla (T).

 

Nevertheless I cannot help but wonder whether Tesla’s genius would be as well-known to the average man had it not been for Gernsback or whether he would have gone down in history as simply a clever eccentric without the additional fame Gernsback provided him.

And, to be fair, I wonder whether Gernsback would have found the inspiration for founding “scientifiction” had it not been for the scientific wonders that Tesla invented.

To bring these two men together I need to continue with Tesla’s story first.

 

From the 1890s through 1906, Tesla spent a great deal of time and fortune on a series of projects trying to develop the transmission of electrical power without wires.

It was an expansion of his idea of using coils to transmit power that he had been demonstrating in wireless lighting.

He saw this as not only a way to transmit large amounts of power around the world but also, as he had pointed out in his earlier lectures, a way to transmit worldwide communications.

 

At the time Tesla was formulating his ideas, there was no feasible way to wirelessly transmit communication signals over long distances, let alone large amounts of power.

 

By the mid 1890s, Tesla was working on the idea that he might be able to conduct electricity long distance through the Earth or the atmosphere, and began working on experiments to test this idea including setting up a large resonance transformer magnifying transmitter in his East Houston Street lab.

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Above: Tesla’s East Houston Street lab, New York City

 

Seeming to borrow from a common idea at the time that the Earth’s atmosphere was conductive, he proposed a system composed of balloons suspending, transmitting, and receiving, electrodes in the air above 30,000 feet (9,100 m) in altitude, where he thought the lower pressure would allow him to send high voltages (millions of volts) long distances.

To further study the conductive nature of low pressure air, Tesla set up an experimental station at high altitude in Colorado Springs during 1899.

The Experimental Station was located on empty land on the highest local point (Knob Hill) between the 1876 Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind and the Union Printers Home, where Tesla conducted the research described in the Colorado Springs Notes, 1899-1900.

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A few papers of the times listed Tesla’s lab as about 200 feet east of the Deaf and Blind School and 200 feet north of Pikes Peak Ave.

This put it on top of the hill at E. Kiowa St. and N. Foote Ave (facing west); as documented by Pikes Peak Library District.

There he could safely operate much larger coils than in the cramped confines of his New York lab, and an associate had made an arrangement for the El Paso Power Company to supply alternating current free of charge.

 

Tesla was focused in his research for the practical development of a system for wireless transmission of power and a utilization system.

Tesla said, in “On electricity“, Electrical Review (27 January 1897):

In fact, progress in this field has given me fresh hope that I shall see the fulfillment of one of my fondest dreams; namely, the transmission of power from station to station without the employment of any connecting wires.

 

Tesla went to Colorado Springs in mid-May 1899 with the intent to research:

  1. Transmitters of great power.
  2. Individualization and isolating the energy transmission means.
  3. Laws of propagation of currents through the earth and the atmosphere.

Tesla spent more than half his time researching transmitters.

Tesla spent less than a quarter of his time researching delicate receivers and about a tenth of his time measuring the capacity of the vertical antenna.

Also, Tesla spent a tenth of his time researching miscellaneous subjects.

J. R. Wait’s commented on Tesla activity:

“From an historical standpoint, it is significant that the genius Nikola Tesla envisaged a world wide communication system using a huge spark gap transmitter located in Colorado Springs in 1899.
A few years later he built a large facility in Long Island that he hoped would transmit signals to the Cornish coast of England.
In addition, he proposed to use a modified version of the system to distribute power to all points of the globe”.

 

To fund his experiments he convinced John Jacob Astor IV to invest $100,000 to become a majority share holder in the Nikola Tesla Company.

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Above: John Jacob Astor IV (1864 – 1912)(died on the Titanic)

Astor thought he was primarily investing in the new wireless lighting system.

Instead, Tesla used the money to fund his Colorado Springs experiments.

 

Upon his arrival, he told reporters that he planned to conduct wireless telegraphy experiments, transmitting signals from Pikes Peak to Paris.

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Above: Pike’s Peak, 12 miles / 19 km west of Colorado Springs

 

The lab possessed the largest Tesla coil ever built, 49.25 feet (15 m) in diameter, which was a preliminary version of the magnifying transmitter planned for installation in the Wardenclyffe Tower.

He produced artificial lightning, with discharges consisting of millions of volts and up to 135 feet (41 m) long.

Thunder from the released energy was heard 15 miles (24 km) away in Cripple Creek, Colorado.

People walking along the street observed sparks jumping between their feet and the ground.

Sparks sprang from water line taps when touched.

Light bulbs within 100 feet (30 m) of the lab glowed even when turned off.

Horses in a livery stable bolted from their stalls after receiving shocks through their metal shoes.

Butterflies were electrified, swirling in circles with blue halos of St. Elmo’s fire around their wings.

While experimenting, Tesla inadvertently faulted a power station generator, causing a power outage.

In August 1917, Tesla explained what had happened in The Electrical Experimenter:

As an example of what has been done with several hundred kilowatts of high frequency energy liberated, it was found that the dynamos in a power house 6 miles (10 km) away were repeatedly burned out, due to the powerful high frequency currents set up in them, and which caused heavy sparks to jump through the windings and destroy the insulation!

 

There he conducted experiments with a large coil operating in the megavolts range, producing artificial lightning (and thunder) consisting of millions of volts and up to 135 feet (41 m) long discharges and, at one point, inadvertently burned out the generator in El Paso, causing a power outage.

The observations he made of the electronic noise of lightning strikes, led him to (incorrectly) conclude that he could use the entire globe of the Earth to conduct electrical energy.

 

During his time at his laboratory, Tesla observed unusual signals from his receiver which he speculated to be communications from another planet.

He mentioned them in a letter to a reporter in December 1899 and to the Red Cross Society in December 1900.

Reporters treated it as a sensational story and jumped to the conclusion Tesla was hearing signals from Mars.

Mars appears as a red-orange globe with darker blotches and white icecaps visible on both of its poles.

Above: Mars

 

He expanded on the signals he heard in a 9 February 1901 Collier’s Weekly article “Talking With Planets” where he said it had not been immediately apparent to him that he was hearing “intelligently controlled signals” and that the signals could come from Mars, Venus, or other planets.

 

It has been hypothesized that he may have intercepted Guglielmo Marconi’s European experiments in July 1899—Marconi may have transmitted the letter S (dot/dot/dot) in a naval demonstration, the same three impulses that Tesla hinted at hearing in Colorado—or signals from another experimenter in wireless transmission.

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Above: Guglielmo Marconi (1874 – 1937)

 

Tesla had an agreement with the editor of The Century Magazine to produce an article on his findings.

The magazine sent a photographer to Colorado to photograph the work being done there.

The article, titled “The Problem of Increasing Human Energy“, appeared in the June 1900 edition of the magazine.

He explained the superiority of the wireless system he envisioned but the article was more of a lengthy philosophical treatise than an understandable scientific description of his work, illustrated with what were to become iconic images of Tesla and his Colorado Springs experiments.

 

Tesla made the rounds in New York trying to find investors for what he thought would be a viable system of wireless transmission, wining and dining them at the Waldorf-Astoria’s Palm Garden (the hotel where he was living at the time), The Players Club and Delmonico’s.

 

On 7 January 1900 Tesla made his final entry in his journal while in Colorado Springs.

In 1900 Tesla was granted patents for a “system of transmitting electrical energy” and “an electrical transmitter.”

 

When Guglielmo Marconi made his famous first-ever transatlantic radio transmission in 1901, Tesla quipped that it was done with 17 Tesla patents, though there is little to support this claim.

Above: Marconi watching his associates raising the kite used to lift the antenna, St. John’s, Newfoundland, 12 December 1901

 

In 1904, Tesla was sued for unpaid debts in Colorado Springs.

His lab was torn down and its contents were sold two years later at auction at the court house to satisfy his debts.

 

In March 1901, Tesla obtained $150,000 ($4,517,400 in today’s dollars) from J. Pierpont Morgan in return for a 51% share of any generated wireless patents and began planning the Wardenclyffe Tower facility to be built in Shoreham, New York, 100 miles (161 km) east of the city on the North Shore of Long Island.

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Tesla’s design for Wardenclyffe grew out of his experiments beginning in the early 1890s.

 

His primary goal in these experiments was to develop a new wireless power transmission system.

 

He discarded the idea of using the newly discovered Hertzian (radio) waves, detected in 1888 by German physicist Heinrich Rudolf Hertz since Tesla doubted they existed and basic physics told him, and most other scientists from that period, that they would only travel in straight lines the way visible light did, meaning they would travel straight out into space becoming “hopelessly lost“.

Heinrich Rudolf Hertz

Above: Heinrich Hertz (1857 – 1894)

 

In laboratory work and later large scale experiments at Colorado Springs in 1899, Tesla developed his own ideas on how a worldwide wireless system would work.

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He theorized from these experiments that if he injected electric current into the Earth at just the right frequency he could harness what he believed was the planet’s own electrical charge and cause it to resonate at a frequency that would be amplified in “standing waves” that could be tapped anywhere on the planet to run devices or, through modulation, carry a signal.

His system was based more on 19th century ideas of electrical conduction and telegraphy instead of the newer theories of air-borne electromagnetic waves, with an electrical charge being conducted through the ground and being returned through the air.

 

Tesla’s design used a concept of a charged conductive upper layer in the atmosphere, a theory dating back to an 1872 idea for a proposed wireless power system by Mahlon Loomis.

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Above: Mahlon Loomis (1826 – 1886)

 

Tesla not only believed that he could use this layer as his return path in his electrical conduction system, but that the power flowing through it would make it glow, providing night time lighting for cities and shipping lanes.

 

In a February 1901 Collier’s Weekly article titled “Talking With Planets” Tesla described his “system of energy transmission and of telegraphy without the use of wires” as “using the Earth itself as the medium for conducting the currents, thus dispensing with wires and all other artificial conductors … a machine which, to explain its operation in plain language, resembled a pump in its action, drawing electricity from the Earth and driving it back into the same at an enormous rate, thus creating ripples or disturbances which, spreading through the Earth as through a wire, could be detected at great distances by carefully attuned receiving circuits.

In this manner I was able to transmit to a distance, not only feeble effects for the purposes of signaling, but considerable amounts of energy, and later discoveries I made convinced me that I shall ultimately succeed in conveying power without wires, for industrial purposes, with high economy, and to any distance, however great.

 

Although Tesla demonstrated wireless power transmission at Colorado Springs, lighting electric lights mounted outside the building where he had his large experimental coil, he did not scientifically test his theories.

He believed he had achieved Earth resonance which, according to his theory, would work at any distance.

Tesla began working on his wireless station immediately.

 

As soon as the contract was signed with Morgan in March 1901 he placed an order for generators and transformers with the Westinghouse Electric Company.

Westinghouse Design Mark

 

Tesla’s plans changed radically after he read a June 1901 Electrical Review article by Marconi entitled SYNTONIC WIRELESS TELEGRAPH.

At this point Marconi was transmitting radio signals beyond the range most physicists thought possible (over the horizon) and the description of the Italian inventor’s use of a “Tesla coil” “connected to the Earth” led Tesla to believe Marconi was copying his earth resonance system to do it.

Tesla, believing a small pilot system capable of sending Morse code yacht race results to Morgan in Europe would not be able to capture the attention of potential investors, decided to scale up his designs with a much more powerful transmitter, incorporating his ideas of advanced telephone and Image transmission as well as his ideas of wireless power delivery.

JohnPierpontMorgan.png

Above: J.P. Morgan (1837 – 1913)

 

In July 1901 Tesla informed Morgan of his planned changes to the project and the need for much more money to build it.

He explained the more grandiose plan as a way to leap ahead of competitors and secure much larger profits on the investment.

With Tesla basically proposing a breach of contract, Morgan refused to lend additional funds and demanded an account of money already spent.

Tesla would claim a few years later that funds were also running short because of Morgan’s role in triggering the stock market panic of 1901, making everything Tesla had to buy much more expensive.

Despite Morgan stating no additional funds would be supplied, Tesla continued on with the project.

 

He explored the idea of building several small towers or a tower 300 feet and even 600 feet tall in order to transmit the type of low-frequency long waves that Tesla thought were needed to resonate the Earth.

 

His friend, architect Stanford White, who was working on designing structures for the project, calculated that a 600-foot tower would cost $450,000 and the idea had to be scrapped.

Stanford White by George Cox ca. 1892.jpg

Above: Stanford White (1853 – 1906)

 

By July 1901, Tesla had expanded his plans to build a more powerful transmitter to leap ahead of Marconi’s radio based system, which Tesla thought was a copy of his own system.

He approached Morgan to ask for more money to build the larger system but Morgan refused to supply any further funds.

A month after Marconi’s success, Tesla tried to get Morgan to back an even larger plan to transmit messages and power by controlling “vibrations throughout the globe“.

Over the next five years, Tesla wrote more than 50 letters to Morgan, pleading for and demanding additional funding to complete the construction of Wardenclyffe.

 

Tesla continued the project for another nine months into 1902.

The tower was erected to its full 187 feet (57 m).

In June 1902, Tesla moved his lab operations from Houston Street to Wardenclyffe.

 

In 1906 the financial problems and other events may have led to a nervous breakdown on Tesla’s part.

 

The mentally unstable multimillionaire Harry Kendall Thaw shot and killed the prominent architect and New York socialite Stanford White in front of hundreds of witnesses at the rooftop theatre of Madison Square Garden on the evening of 25 June 1906, leading to what the press would call the “Trial of the Century“.

During the trial, Nesbit testified that five years earlier, when she was a stage performer at the age of 15 or 16, she had attracted the attention of White, who first gained her and her mother’s trust, then sexually assaulted her while she was unconscious, and then had a subsequent romantic and sexual relationship with her that continued for some period of time

Above: Evelyn Nesbit (1884 – 1967)

 

In October, long time investor William Rankine died of a heart attack.

 

Things were so bad by the fall of that year George Scherff, Tesla’s chief manager who had been supervising Wardenclyffe, had to leave to find other employment.

The people living around Wardenclyffe noticed the Tesla plant seemed to have been abandoned without notice.

 

In 1904 Tesla took out a mortgage on the Wardenclyffe property with George C. Boldt, proprietor of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, to cover Tesla’s living expenses at the hotel.

George Charles Boldt, Sr. (1851-1916) portrait.jpg

Above: George Boldt (1851 – 1916)

 

In 1908 Tesla procured a second mortgage from Boldt to further cover expenses.

The facility was partially abandoned around 1911, and the tower structure deteriorated.

Between 1912 and 1915, Tesla’s finances unraveled, and when the funders wanted to know how they were going to recapture their investments, Tesla was unable to give satisfactory answers.

 

The 1 March 1916 edition of the publication Export American Industries ran a story titled “Tesla’s Million Dollar Folly” describing the abandoned Wardenclyffe site:

There everything seemed left as for a day — chairs, desks, and papers in businesslike array.

The great wheels seemed only awaiting Monday life.

But the magic word has not been spoken, and the spell still rests on the great plant.

 

Investors on Wall Street were putting their money into Marconi’s system, and some in the press began turning against Tesla’s project, claiming it was a hoax.

The project came to a halt in 1905.

 

Tesla mortgaged the Wardenclyffe property to cover his debts at the Waldorf-Astoria, which eventually mounted to $20,000 ($500,300 in today’s dollars).

He lost the property in foreclosure in 1915 and by mid-1917 the facility’s main building was breached and vandalized.

In 1917 the Tower was demolished by the new owner to make the land a more viable real estate asset.

Meanwhile….

Gernsback was an entrepreneur in the electronics industry, importing radio parts from Europe to the United States and helping to popularize amateur “wireless“.

In April 1908, he founded Modern Electrics, the world’s first magazine about both electronics and radio (“wireless“).

Modern Electrics 1910 06.jpg

While the cover of the magazine itself states it was a catalog, most historians note that it contained articles, features and plotlines, qualifying it as a magazine.

Under its auspices, in January 1909, Gernsback founded the Wireless Association of America, which had 10,000 members within a year.

In 1912, Gernsback said that he estimated 400,000 people in the US were involved in amateur radio.

In 1913, he founded a similiar magazine, The Electrical Experimenter, which became Science and Invention in 1920.

It was in these magazines he began including scientific fiction stories alongside science journalism – including his own novel Ralph 124c 41+ which he ran for 12 months in Modern Electrics.

ModernElectrics1912-02.jpg

By playing a key role in the wireless industry, Gernsback secured a position and a significant influence on the adoption of new legal regulations.

At the same time, aware of the low level of education of radio amateurs, he founded several magazines covering radio and later also television.

It is widely believed that the term television appeared for the first time in the December 1909 issue of his Modern Electrics, in the article “Television and the Telephot“.

Gernsback began publishing articles with a futuristic view of scientific and technological developments very early.

When finishing the preparation of an issue of his magazine Modern Electrics in 1911, Gernsback discovered that some free space remained on one of the pages.

Since he was already used to writing his predictions for the future of radio and other technologies, which were well received by the readers, he decided to go one step further.

He wrote a short adventure story, focusing on the application of technology in the year 2660.

It was a spur of the moment thing that he wrote late at night in his office and the text was long enough to fit into the available space into the magazine.

The readers wanted to learn what happened next.

And so the next installment came about – 12 of them in total until the story was completed.

Encouraged by its popularity, Gernsback continued to publish this specific type of texts, which he called scientifiction, later to be known as science fiction.

As the publisher of successful magazines, Gernsback managed to draw the attention of leading scientists, including Tesla, Marconi, Fessenden, Edison and many others….

Above: Hugo Gernsback demonstrating his television goggles in 1963 for Life magazine

 

After Wardenclyffe closed, Tesla continued to write to Morgan.

After “the great man” died, Tesla wrote to Morgan’s son Jack, trying to get further funding for the project.

 

In 1906, Tesla opened offices at 165 Broadway in Manhattan, trying to raise further funds by developing and marketing his patents.

Image result for nikola tesla 165 broadway manhattan images

Above: City Investing Building, 165 Broadway, Manhattan

 

On his 50th birthday, in 1906, Tesla demonstrated a 200 horsepower (150 kilowatts) 16,000 rpm bladeless turbine.

 

During 1910–1911 at the Waterside Power Station in New York, several of his bladeless turbine engines were tested at 100–5,000 hp.

Tesla worked with several companies including the period 1919–1922 working in Milwaukee for Allis-Chalmers.

Allis-Chalmers logo.svg

He spent most of his time trying to perfect the Tesla turbine with Hans Dahlstrand, the head engineer at the company, but engineering difficulties meant it was never made into a practical device.

Tesla did license the idea to a precision instrument company and it found use in the form of luxury car speedometers and other instruments.

Tesla went on to have offices at the Metropolitan Life Tower from 1910 to 1914, rented for a few months at the Woolworth Building, moving out because he could not afford the rent, and then to office space at 8 West 40th Street from 1915 to 1925.

After moving to 8 West 40th Street, he was effectively bankrupt.

Tesla working in his office at 8 West 40th Street, New York City

Above: Tesla working in his office, 8 W. 40th Street, New York City

Most of his patents had run out and he was having trouble with the new inventions he was trying to develop.

 

By 1915, Tesla’s accumulated debt at the Waldorf-Astoria was around $20 thousand ($495 thousand in 2018 dollars).

When Tesla was unable to make any further payments on the mortgages, Boldt foreclosed on the Wardenclyffe property.

Boldt failed to find any use for the property and finally decided to demolish the tower for scrap.

On 4 July 1917 the Smiley Steel Company of New York began demolition of the tower by dynamiting it.

The tower was knocked on a tilt by the initial explosion but it took till September to totally demolish it.

The scrap value realized was $1,750.

 

Since this was during World War I a rumor spread, picked up by newspapers and other publications, that the tower was demolished on orders of the United States government with claims German spies were using it as a radio transmitter or observation post, or that it was being used as a landmark for German submarines.

Tesla was not pleased with what he saw as attacks on his patriotism via the rumors about Wardenclyffe, but since the original mortgages with Boldt as well as the foreclosure had been kept off the public record in order to hide his financial difficulties, Tesla was not able to reveal the real reason for the demolition.

George Boldt decided to make the property available for sale.

 

When World War I broke out, the British cut the transatlantic telegraph cable linking the US to Germany in order to control the flow of information between the two countries.

They also tried to shut off German wireless communication to and from the US by having the US Marconi Company sue the German radio company Telefunken for patent infringement.

Telefunken brought in the physicists Jonathan Zenneck and Karl Ferdinand Braun for their defense and hired Tesla as a witness for two years for $1,000 a month.

The case stalled and then went moot when the US entered the war against Germany in 1917.

In 1915, Tesla attempted to sue the Marconi Company for infringement of his wireless tuning patents.

Marconi’s initial radio patent had been awarded in the US in 1897, but his 1900 patent submission covering improvements to radio transmission had been rejected several times, before it was finally approved in 1904, on the grounds that it infringed on other existing patents including two 1897 Tesla wireless power tuning patents.

Tesla’s 1915 case went nowhere, but in a related case, where the Marconi Company tried to sue the US government over WWI patent infringements, a Supreme Court of the United States 1943 decision restored the prior patents of Oliver Lodge, John Stone and Tesla.

The court declared that their decision had no bearing on Marconi’s claim as the first to achieve radio transmission, just that since Marconi’s claim to certain patented improvements were questionable, the company could not claim infringement on those same patents.

 

On 6 November 1915, a Reuters news agency report from London had the 1915 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla.

However, on 15 November, a Reuters story from Stockholm stated the prize that year was being awarded to Sir William Henry Bragg and William Lawrence Bragg “for their services in the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays.”

There were unsubstantiated rumors at the time that either Tesla or Edison had refused the prize.

The Nobel Foundation said:

Any rumor that a person has not been given a Nobel Prize because he has made known his intention to refuse the reward is ridiculous“.

A recipient could decline a Nobel Prize only after he is announced a winner.

There have been subsequent claims by Tesla biographers that Edison and Tesla were the original recipients and that neither was given the award because of their animosity toward each other, that each sought to minimize the other’s achievements and right to win the Award, that both refused ever to accept the award if the other received it first, that both rejected any possibility of sharing it, and even that a wealthy Edison refused it to keep Tesla from getting the $20,000 prize money.

In the years after these rumors, neither Tesla nor Edison won the prize (although Edison did receive one of 38 possible bids in 1915 and Tesla did receive one of 38 possible bids in 1937).

A golden medallion with an embossed image of Alfred Nobel facing left in profile. To the left of the man is the text "ALFR•" then "NOBEL", and on the right, the text (smaller) "NAT•" then "MDCCCXXXIII" above, followed by (smaller) "OB•" then "MDCCCXCVI" below.

 

On 20 April 1922, Tesla lost an appeal of judgment on Boldt’s foreclosure of Wardenclyffe.

This effectively locked Tesla out of any future development of the facility.

 

Tesla attempted to market several devices based on the production of ozone.

These included his 1900 Tesla Ozone Company selling an 1896 patented device based on his Tesla coil, used to bubble ozone through different types of oils to make a therapeutic gel.

He also tried to develop a variation of this a few years later as a room sanitizer for hospitals.

 

Tesla theorized that the application of electricity to the brain enhanced intelligence.

In 1912, he crafted “a plan to make dull students bright by saturating them unconsciously with electricity,” wiring the walls of a schoolroom and, “saturating the schoolroom with infinitesimal electric waves vibrating at high frequency.

The whole room will thus, Mr. Tesla claims, be converted into a health-giving and stimulating electromagnetic field or ‘bath.'”

The plan was, at least provisionally, approved by then superintendent of New York City schools, William H. Maxwell.

 

Before World War I, Tesla sought overseas investors.

After the war started, Tesla lost the funding he was receiving from his patents in European countries.

 

In the August 1917 edition of the magazine Electrical Experimenter, Tesla postulated that electricity could be used to locate submarines via using the reflection of an “electric ray” of “tremendous frequency,” with the signal being viewed on a fluorescent screen (a system that has been noted to have a superficial resemblance to modern radar).

Tesla was incorrect in his assumption that high frequency radio waves would penetrate water.

 

Émile Girardeau, who helped develop France’s first radar system in the 1930s, noted in 1953 that Tesla’s general speculation that a very strong high-frequency signal would be needed was correct.

Girardeau said:

Tesla was prophesying or dreaming, since he had at his disposal no means of carrying them out, but one must add that if he was dreaming, at least he was dreaming correctly.

Emile Girardeau

Above: Émile Girardeau (1882 – 1970)

 

In 1928, Tesla received U.S. Patent 1,655,114, for a biplane capable of taking off vertically (VTOL aircraft) and then of being “gradually tilted through manipulation of the elevator devices” in flight until it was flying like a conventional plane.

Tesla thought the plane would sell for less than $1,000, although the aircraft has been described as impractical.

Sea Harrier

Above: VTOL (vertical take-off/landing) Harrier

 

This would be his last patent and at this time Tesla closed his last office at 350 Madison Avenue, which he had moved into two years earlier.

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Above: Borden Building, 350 Madison Avenue, New York City

 

Since 1900, Tesla had been living at the Waldorf Astoria in New York running up a large bill.

Above: Waldorf-Astoria Hotel

 

In 1922, he moved to St. Regis Hotel and would follow a pattern from then on of moving to a new hotel every few years leaving behind unpaid bills.

St.RegisNYC.jpg

Above: St. Regis New York

 

Tesla would walk to the park every day to feed the pigeons.

He took to feeding them at the window of his hotel room and bringing the injured ones in to nurse back to health.

He said that he had been visited by a specific injured white pigeon daily.

Tesla spent over $2,000, including building a device that comfortably supported her so her bones could heal, to fix her broken wing and leg.

Tesla stated:

I have been feeding pigeons, thousands of them for years.

But there was one, a beautiful bird, pure white with light grey tips on its wings.

That one was different.

It was a female.

I had only to wish and call her and she would come flying to me.

I loved that pigeon as a man loves a woman, and she loved me.

As long as I had her, there was a purpose to my life.

 

 

Tesla’s unpaid bills, and complaints about the mess from his pigeon-feeding, forced him to leave the St. Regis in 1923, the Hotel Pennsylvania in 1930 and the Hotel Governor Clinton in 1934.

At one point, he also took rooms at the Hotel Marguery.

 

In 1934, Tesla moved to the Hotel New Yorker and Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company began paying him $125 per month as well as paying his rent, expenses the company would pay for the rest of Tesla’s life.

NewYorker Hotel.JPG

Accounts of how this came about vary.

Several sources say Westinghouse was worried (or warned) about potential bad publicity surrounding the impoverished conditions under which their former star inventor was living.

The payment has been described as being couched as a “consulting fee” to get around Tesla’s aversion to accept charity, or according to one biographer as a type of unspecified settlement.

 

Tesla worked every day from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. or later, with dinner from exactly 8:10 p.m., at Delmonico’s restaurant and later the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.

Tesla would telephone his dinner order to the headwaiter, who also could be the only one to serve him.

The meal was required to be ready at eight o’clock …

He dined alone, except on the rare occasions when he would give a dinner to a group to meet his social obligations.

Tesla would then resume his work, often until 3:00 a.m.

 

For exercise, Tesla walked between 8 and 10 miles (13 and 16 km) per day.

He curled his toes one hundred times for each foot every night, saying that it stimulated his brain cells.

Tesla became a vegetarian in his later years, living on only milk, bread, honey and vegetable juices.

 

Tesla read many works, memorizing complete books and supposedly possessed a photographic memory.

He was a polyglot, speaking eight languages: Serbo-Croatian, Czech, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, and Latin.

 

Tesla claimed never to sleep more than two hours per night.

However, he did admit to “dozing” from time to time “to recharge his batteries.”

On one occasion at his laboratory, Tesla worked for a period of 84 hours without rest.

Kenneth Swezey, a journalist whom Tesla had befriended, confirmed that Tesla rarely slept.

Swezey recalled one morning when Tesla called him at 3 a.m.:

I was sleeping in my room like one dead …

Suddenly, the telephone ring awakened me …

Tesla spoke animatedly, with pauses, as he worked out a problem, comparing one theory to another, commenting.

And when he felt he had arrived at the solution, he suddenly closed the telephone.”

 

Tesla was asocial and prone to seclude himself with his work.

However, when he did engage in a social life, many people spoke very positively and admiringly of Tesla.

Writer Robert Underwood Johnson described him as attaining a “distinguished sweetness, sincerity, modesty, refinement, generosity, and force.”

Above: Robert Underwood Johnson (1853 – 1937)

 

His secretary, Dorothy Skerrit, wrote:

His genial smile and nobility of bearing always denoted the gentlemanly characteristics that were so ingrained in his soul.”

 

Tesla’s friend, writer Julian Hawthorne, commented:

Seldom did one meet a scientist or engineer who was also a poet, a philosopher, an appreciator of fine music, a linguist, and a connoisseur of food and drink.”

Julian Hawthorne

Above: Julian Hawthorne (1846 – 1934)

 

Tesla was a good friend of Francis Marion Crawford, Robert Underwood Johnson, Stanford White, Fritz Lowenstein, George Scherff and Kenneth Swezey.

 

In middle age, Tesla became a close friend of Mark Twain.

They spent a lot of time together in his lab and elsewhere.

Twain notably described Tesla’s induction motor invention as “the most valuable patent since the telephone.”

Portrait by Mathew Brady, February 1871

Above: Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain)(1835 – 1910)

 

At a party thrown by actress Sarah Bernhardt in 1896, Tesla met Indian Hindu monk Vivekananda and the two talked about how the inventors ideas on energy seemed to match up with Vedantic cosmology.

Black and white image of an Indian man, facing left with his arms folded and wearing a turban

Above: Narendranath Datta (aka Swami Vivekananda)(1863 – 1902)

 

In the late 1920s, Tesla befriended George Sylvester Viereck, a poet, writer, mystic, and later, unfortunately, a Nazi propagandist.

Tesla occasionally attended dinner parties held by Viereck and his wife.

Portrait of Viereck, by Underwood & Underwood, 1922

Above: George Viereck (1884 – 1962)

 

Tesla could be harsh at times and openly expressed disgust for overweight people, such as when he fired a secretary because of her weight.

He was quick to criticize clothing.

On several occasions, Tesla directed a subordinate to go home and change her dress.

 

When Thomas Edison (b. 1847) died, in 1931, Tesla contributed the only negative opinion to The New York Times, buried in an extensive coverage of Edison’s life:

Thomas Edison2.jpg

He had no hobby, cared for no sort of amusement of any kind and lived in utter disregard of the most elementary rules of hygiene …

His method was inefficient in the extreme, for an immense ground had to be covered to get anything at all unless blind chance intervened and, at first, I was almost a sorry witness of his doings, knowing that just a little theory and calculation would have saved him 90% of the labor.

But he had a veritable contempt for book learning and mathematical knowledge, trusting himself entirely to his inventor’s instinct and practical American sense.

 

Tesla was 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) tall and weighed 142 pounds (64 kg), with almost no weight variance from 1888 to about 1926.

His appearance was described by newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane as “almost the tallest, almost the thinnest and certainly the most serious man who goes to Delmonico’s regularly“.

He was an elegant, stylish figure in New York City, meticulous in his grooming, clothing, and regimented in his daily activities, an appearance he maintained as to further his business relationships.

He was also described as having light eyes, “very big hands“, and “remarkably big” thumbs.

head-and-shoulder shot of slender man with dark hair and moustache, dark suit and white-collar shirt

Hugo Gernsback was literally spellbound with Tesla and believed that the ideas of the great inventor were the salvation for all of mankind.

This is how Gernsback describes Tesla in the February 1919 issue of Electrical Experimenter:

The door opens and out steps a tall figure – over six feet high – gaunt but erect.

It approaches slowly, stately.

You become conscious at once that you are face to face with a personality of a high order.

Nikola Tesla advances and shakes your hand with a powerful grip, surprising for a man over 60.

A winning smile from piercing light blue-gray eyes, set in extraordinarily deep sockets, fascinates you and makes you feel at once at home.

 

You are guided into an office immaculate in its orderliness.

Not a speck of dust is to be seen.

No papers litter the desk.

Everything just so.

It reflects the man himself, immaculate in attire, orderly and precise in his every movement.

Dressed in a dark frock coat, he is entirely devoid of all jewelry.

No ring, stickpin or even watch-chain can be seen.

 

Tesla speaks – a very high almost falsetto voice.

He speaks quickly and very convincingly.

It is the man’s voice chiefly which fascinates you.

As he speaks you find it difficult to take your eyes off his own.

Only when he speaks to others do you have a chance to study his head, predominant of which is a very high forehead with a bulge between his eyes – the neverfailing sign of an exceptional intelligence.

Then the long, well-shaped nose, proclaiming the scientist….

 

His only vice is his generosity.

The man who, by the ignorant onlooker has often been called an idle dreamer, has made over a million dollars out of his inventions – and spent them as quickly on new ones.

But Tesla is an idealist of the highest order and to such men money itself means but little.

My Inventions - The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla.jpg

I wonder if Tesla felt the same towards Gernsback….

 

Gernsback was noted for sharp (and sometimes shady) business practices,and for paying his writers extremely low fees or not paying them at all.

H. P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith referred to him as “Hugo the Rat“.

As Barry Malzberg has said:

Gernsback’s venality and corruption, his sleaziness and his utter disregard for the financial rights of authors, have been well documented and discussed in critical and fan literature

That the founder of genre science fiction who gave his name to the field’s most prestigious award and who was the Guest of Honor at the 1952 Worldcon was pretty much a crook (and a contemptuous crook who stiffed his writers but paid himself $100K a year as President of Gernsback Publications) has been clearly established.

 

Nonetheless, Gernsback earned Tesla’s sympathy and Gernsback became an important publisher of Tesla’s articles in his many publications.

In the August 1917 Electrical Experimenter, under the title “Tesla’s Views on Electricity and the War“, Tesla made the first technical description of radar.

The author of the article (H. Winfield Secor, the magazine’s Associate Editor) explained to his readers that “Dr. Tesla had invented, among other things, an electric ray to destroy or detect submarines under water at a considerable distance.

Mr. Tesla very courteously granted the writer an interview and some of his ideas on electricity’s possible role in helping to end the Great War.”

Later that year, in addition to Tesla’s autobiographical serial My Inventions, the Electrical Experimenter also published a number of other Tesla-authorized articles with considerable regularity:

  • The Effect of Statics on Wireless Transmission
  • Famous Scientific Illusions
  • Tesla’s Egg of Columbus (or how Tesla performed the feat of Columbus without cracking the Egg)
  • The Moon’s Rotation
  • The True Wireless
  • Tesla’s Bulbs
  • Electrical Oscillators
  • Can Radio Ignite Balloons?(or the Opinions of Nikola Tesla and Other Radio Experts)

 

Tesla and Gernsback started correspondence with one another from the end of 1918 and throughout 1919.

Tesla could not fit himself into the strict deadlines presented to him by the rules of periodical press and wrote to Gernsback at the end of July 1919:

I think it well on this occasion to notify your readers, as a precaution, that I am not one of those who display the sign ‘Do it now.’ on their desks and office doors.

My motto is: ‘Do not do it now.  Think it over.‘ ”

 

Over the next several years, only a few letters were exchanged between Tesla and Gernsback, in which the famous publisher tried whatever he could to appease his most prominent writer and resume their cooperation, but as a reply received very cold letters, demonstrating Tesla’s injured pride and his objections to the egoism of the publisher.

In one of the last letters, Tesla wrote:

I appreciate your unusual intelligence and enterprise but the trouble with you seems to be that you are thinking only of H. Gernsback first of all, once more and then again.”

 

Tesla wrote a number of books and articles for magazines and journals.

Among his books are My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla, The Fantastic Inventions of Nikola Tesla and The Tesla Papers.

Many of Tesla’s writings are freely available online, including the article “The Problem of Increasing Human Energy,” published in The Century Magazine in 1900 and the article “Experiments With Alternate Currents Of High Potential And High Frequency” published in his book Inventions, Researches and Writings of Nikola Tesla.

 

In 1931, Kenneth Swezey, a young writer who had been associated with Tesla for some time, organized a celebration for the inventor’s 75th birthday.

Tesla received congratulatory letters from more than 70 pioneers in science and engineering, including Albert Einstein, and he was also featured on the cover of Time magazine.

The cover caption “All the world’s his power house” noted his contribution to electrical power generation.

The party went so well that Tesla made it an annual event, an occasion where he would put out a large spread of food and drink (featuring dishes of his own creation) and invite the press to see his inventions and hear stories about past exploits, views on current events, or sometimes odd or baffling claims.

 

(“Tesla is very fussy and particular about his food:
He eats very little, but what he does eat must be of the very best.
And he knows, for outside of being a great Inventor in science he is an accomplished cook who has invented all sorts of savory dishes.
Hugo Gernsback, Electrical Experimenter, February 1919)

At the 1932 occasion, Tesla claimed he had invented a motor that would run on cosmic rays.

 

In 1933, at age 77, Tesla told reporters that, after thirty-five years of work, he was on the verge of producing proof of a new form of energy.

He claimed it was a theory of energy that was “violently opposed” to Einsteinian physics and could be tapped with an apparatus that would be cheap to run and last 500 years.

He also told reporters he was working on a way to transmit individualized private radio wavelengths, working on breakthroughs in metallurgy, and developing a way to photograph the retina to record thought.

At the 1934 party, Tesla told reporters he had designed a superweapon he claimed would end all war.

He would call it “teleforce“, but was usually referred to as his death ray.

Tesla described it as a defensive weapon that would be put up along the border of a country to be used against attacking ground-based infantry or aircraft.

Tesla never revealed detailed plans of how the weapon worked during his lifetime, but in 1984, they surfaced at the Nikola Tesla Museum archive in Belgrade.

The treatise, The New Art of Projecting Concentrated Non-dispersive Energy through the Natural Media, described an open-ended vacuum tube with a gas jet seal that allows particles to exit, a method of charging slugs of tungsten or mercury to millions of volts, and directing them in streams (through electrostatic repulsion).

Tesla tried to interest the US War Department, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia in the device.

 

In 1935, at his 79th birthday party, Tesla covered many topics.

He claimed to have discovered the cosmic ray in 1896 and invented a way to produce direct current by induction, and made many claims about his mechanical oscillator.

Describing the device (which he expected would earn him $100 million within two years) he told reporters that a version of his oscillator had caused an earthquake in his 46 East Houston Street lab and neighboring streets in downtown New York City in 1898.

He went on to tell reporters his oscillator could destroy the Empire State Building with 5 lbs of air pressure.

Empire State Building (aerial view).jpg

 

He also explained a new technique he developed using his oscillators he called “Telegeodynamics“, using it to transmit vibrations into the ground that he claimed would work over any distance to be used for communication or locating underground mineral deposits.

 

At his 1937 celebration in the Grand Ballroom of Hotel New Yorker, Tesla received the “Order of the White Lion” from the Czechoslovakia ambassador and a medal from the Yugoslavian ambassador.

On questions concerning the death ray, Tesla stated:

But it is not an experiment …

I have built, demonstrated and used it.

Only a little time will pass before I can give it to the world.

 

In the fall of 1937, after midnight one night, Tesla left the Hotel New Yorker to make his regular commute to the cathedral and the library to feed the pigeons.

While crossing a street a couple of blocks from the hotel, Tesla was unable to dodge a moving taxicab and was thrown to the ground.

His back was severely wrenched and three of his ribs were broken in the accident.

The full extent of his injuries were never known.

Tesla refused to consult a doctor, an almost lifelong custom, and never fully recovered.

 

On 7 January 1943, at the age of 86, Tesla died alone in Room 3327 of the New Yorker Hotel.

Nikola Tesla’s Room 3327 at The New Yorker Hotel - September 2014

Above: Room 3327, New Yorker Hotel, Present day

 

His body was later found by maid Alice Monaghan after she had entered Tesla’s room, ignoring the “do not disturb” sign that Tesla had placed on his door two days earlier.

Assistant medical examiner H.W. Wembley examined the body and ruled that the cause of death had been coronary thrombosis.

 

Two days later the Federal Bureau of Investigation ordered the Alien Property Custodian to seize Tesla’s belongings.

Seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.svg

John G. Trump, a professor at MIT and a well-known electrical engineer serving as a technical aide to the National Defense Research Committee, was called in to analyze the Tesla items, which were being held in custody.

JohnGTrumpRetired.png

Above: John G. Trump (1907 – 1985)(Donald’s paternal uncle)

After a three-day investigation, Trump’s report concluded that there was nothing which would constitute a hazard in unfriendly hands, stating:

Tesla’s thoughts and efforts during at least the past 15 years were primarily of a speculative, philosophical, and somewhat promotional character often concerned with the production and wireless transmission of power, but did not include new, sound, workable principles or methods for realizing such results.

In a box purported to contain a part of Tesla’s “death ray“, Trump found a 45-year-old multidecade resistance box.

 

At the request of Gernsback, on 9 January 1943, two days after Tesla’s death, a death mask of the inventor was made by F. Moynihan.

 

On 10 January 1943, New York City mayor Fiorello La Guardia (1882 – 1947) read a eulogy written by Slovene-American author Louis Adamic live over the WNYC radio while violin pieces “Ave Maria” and “Tamo daleko” were played in the background.

Fiorello LaGuardia.jpg

 

On 12 January, two thousand people attended a state funeral for Tesla at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine.

After the funeral, Tesla’s body was taken to the Ferncliff Cemetery in Ardsley, New York, where it was later cremated.

 

The following day, a second service was conducted by prominent priests in the Trinity Chapel (today’s Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Sava) in New York City.

Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava.jpg

Above: Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Sava, New York City

 

On the occasion of 100 years since Tesla’s birth, on 25 June 1956, the aforementioned death mask was placed on the business premises of Gernsback Publications in New York.

On a marble pedestal, in relief, were presented the symbols of Tesla’s greatest discoveries and ideas – the first induction motor, Tesla’s transformer, and the famous Wardenclyffe Tower at Long Island intended for the “World System” project….

Image result for nikola tesla death mask images

An astonishly accurate prediction of the electronic and wireless world we live in today.

The symbol of Tesla’s great and unfulfilled dream.

 

In Hugo Gernback’s honour, the Hugo Awards or “Hugos” are the annual achievement awards presented at the World Science Fiction Convention, selected in a process that ends with vote by current Convention members.

Hugo Award Logo.png

They originated and acquired the “Hugo” nickname during the 1950s and were formally defined as a convention responsibility under the name “Science Fiction Achievement Awards” early in the 1960s.

The nickname soon became almost universal and its use legally protected; “Hugo Award(s)” replaced the longer name in all official uses after the 1991 cycle.

In 1960 Gernsback received a special Hugo Award as “The Father of Magazine Science Fiction“.

Hugo Gernsback died at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City on 19 August 1967.

In late 2002 Gernsback Publications went out of business.

 

 

Tesla’s legacy has endured in books, films, radio, TV, music, live theater, comics and video games.

In Jim Jarmusek’s film Coffee and Cigarettes, Jack shows Meg his Tesla coil!

Coffee and Cigarettes movie.jpg

Tesla features prominently in the movies The Prestige (David Bowie as Tesla) and The Current War, as well as in Family Guy‘s Season 9, Episode 15.

Image result for david bowie as tesla images

Above: David Bowie as Nikola Tesla, The Prestige

 

Tesla appears in Ron Horsley’s and Ralph Vaughan’s re-imaginings of the famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes.

 

In The Big Bang Theory, Tesla is referred to as “a poor man’s Sheldon Cooper“.

The Big Bang Theory (Official Title Card).png

 

In 2011, Sesame Street introduced the world to grumpy Professor “Nikola Messla“.

Image result for nikola messla

 

The impact of the technologies invented or envisioned by Tesla is a recurring theme in several types of science fiction.

 

In science and engineering Tesla has given his name to the Tesla coil and the singing Tesla coil, Tesla’s Egg of Columbus, the Tesla Experimental Station, Tesla’s oscillator, the Tesla Principle, the Tesla Tower, the Tesla turbine, the Tesla unit and the Tesla valve.

Tesla is a 26-km wide crater on the far side of the Moon as well as a minor planet (2244 Tesla).

There is both the Nikola Tesla Award and the Nikola Tesla Satellite Award.

Tesla was an electrotechnical conglomerate in the former Czechoslovakia.

Tesla is an American electric car manufacturer, the Croatian affliliate of the Swedish telecommunications equipment manufacturer Ericsson, a bank in Zagreb and two companies in the Serbian cities of Novi Sad and Plandiste.

His birthday (10 July) is celebrated every year in Croatia, in Vojvodina and in Niagara Falls.

Every year the annual Nikola Tesla Electric Vehicle Rally is held in Croatia.

In music, there is Tesla (US), Tesla Boy (Russia) and Tesla Coils (Australia) – all the names of band groups, while “Tesla Girls” is a song by the British pop band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) released in 1984.

Tesla Girls.jpg

The groups They Might Be Giants released “Tesla“, The Handsome FamilyTesla’s Hotel Room” and the Polish band Silver Rocket‘s last album was named “Tesla“.

There is a Tesla STEM High School in Redmond, Washington.

Tesla is both an Airport and a Museum in Belgrade.

TPP Nikola Tesla is the largest power plant in Serbia.

And 128 streets in Croatia have been named after Nikola Tesla, making him the 8th most common street name in the country.

 

It took me a few hours, despite the Museum’s small size, for my eyes to absorb all that was revealed about Tesla here.

It has taken me months for my mind to absorb all that I have learned since my visit.

 

But of all of this I find myself drawn not to his inventions but to his character.

 

I walked away from the Museum that day, sat on a bench and watched a pigeon approach.

I thought of Tesla.

The pigeon and I looked at each other.

No words were needed.

Pigeon on high tension cable.png

Sources: Wikipedia / Google / Nikola Tesla, My Inventions / Vladimir Dulovic, Serbia In Your Hands / Marija Stosic, Belgrade

Canada Slim and the Current War

Landschlacht, Switzerland, 17 October 2018

(Continued from Canada Slim and the Visionary)

What has gone before….

I visited Serbia this past April and spent a few wonderful days exploring the Serbian capital of Belgrade.

Flag of Serbia

Of the many wonders to explore and of the many things Belgrade and Serbia have to offer, one particular attraction that stands out is the Nikola Tesla Museum.

Nikola Tesla was a great Serb physicist and inventor who almost, but not quite, became an international household name.

Photograph of Nikola Tesla, a slender, moustachioed man with a thin face and pointed chin.

Above: Nikola Tesla (1856 – 1943)

Many say that if it were not for occasional stubbornness and a poor sense of financial management, Tesla might have ended up as famous as Edison or Einstein.

Despite a lack of international recognition, Tesla remains a Serbian national hero.

It is his face that currently decorates the 100 dinar note.

Image result for tesla dinar

In the first part of three (this is the second) I briefly spoke of Hugo Gernsback that made Tesla as famous as he did become and I spoke of his life before he left for the United States.

Gernsback portrait by Fabian, date unknown

Above: Hugo Gernsback (1884 – 1967)

 

What follows is the sad story of a prisoner execution, a deadly blizzard and a very ugly battle between two business magnates with Tesla smack dab in the middle of it all….

 

But first….

Let there be light.

 

The first type of widely used electric light was the arc lamp.

These lamps had been around for most of the 19th century but by the late 1870s were beginning to be installed in cities in large scale systems powered by central generating plants.

Arc lighting systems were extremely brilliant and capable of lighting whole streets, factory yards, or the interior of large buildings.

They needed high voltages (above 3,000 volts) and some ran better on alternating current.

Alternating current had been under development for a while in Europe with contributions being made to the field by Guillaume Duchenne (1850s), the dynamo work of Zénobe Gramme, Ganz Works (1870s), Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti (1880s), Lucien Gaulard, and Galileo Ferraris.

The high voltages allowed a central generating station to supply a large area, up to 7-mile (11 km) long circuits since the capacity of a wire is proportional to the square of the current traveling on it, each doubling of the voltage allowed the same size cable to transmit the same amount of power four times the distance.

1880 saw the installation of large-scale arc lighting systems in several US cities including a central station set up by the Brush Electric Company in December 1880 to supply a 2-mile (3.2 km) length of Broadway in New York City with a 3,500–volt demonstration arc lighting system.

The disadvantages of arc lighting were:

It was maintenance intensive, buzzed, flickered, constituted a fire hazard, was really only suitable for outdoor lighting, and, at the high voltages used, was dangerous to work with.

 

In 1878 inventor Thomas Edison saw a market for a system that could bring electric lighting directly into a customer’s business or home, a niche not served by arc lighting systems.

Thomas Edison2.jpg

Above: Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931)

 

By 1882 the investor-owned utility Edison Illuminating Company was established in New York City.

Edison designed his “utility” to compete with the then established gas lighting utilities, basing it on a relatively low 110 volt direct current supply to power a high resistance incandescent lamp he had invented for the system.

Edison direct current systems would be sold to cities throughout the United States, making it a standard with Edison controlling all technical development and holding all the key patents.

 

Direct current worked well with incandescent lamps, which were the principal load of the day.

Direct-current systems could be directly used with storage batteries, providing valuable load-leveling and backup power during interruptions of generator operation.

Direct-current generators could be easily paralleled, allowing economical operation by using smaller machines during periods of light load and improving reliability.

Edison had invented a meter to allow customers to be billed for energy proportional to consumption, but this meter worked only with direct current.

Direct current also worked well with electric motors, an advantage DC held throughout the 1880s.

The primary drawback with the Edison direct current system was that it ran at 110 volts from generation to its final destination giving it a relatively short useful transmission range:

To keep the size of the expensive copper conductors down generating plants had to be situated in the middle of population centers and could only supply customers less than a mile from the plant.

 

Starting in the 1880s, alternating current gained its key advantage over direct current with the development of functional transformers that allowed the voltage to be “stepped up” to much higher transmission voltages and then dropped down to a lower end user voltage for business and residential use.

Using induction coils to transfer power between electrical circuits had been around for 40 years with Pavel Yablochkov using them in his lighting system in 1876 and Lucien Gaulard and John Dixon Gibbs using the principle to create a “step down” transformer in 1882, but the design was not very efficient.

A prototype of the high efficiency, closed core shunt connection transformer was made by the Hungarian “Z.B.D.” team (composed of Károly Zipernowsky, Ottó Bláthy and Miksa Déri) at Ganz Works in 1884.

Above: (left to right) Károly Zipernowsky, Otto Bláthy, Miksa Déri

The new Z.B.D. transformers were 3.4 times more efficient than the open core bipolar devices of Gaulard and Gibbs.

Transformers in use today are designed based on principles discovered by the three engineers.

Their patents included another major related innovation:

The use of parallel connected (as opposed to series connected) power distribution.

Ottó Bláthy also invented the first AC electricity meter.

The reliability of this type of AC technology received impetus after the Ganz Works electrified Rome, a large metropolis, in 1886.

 

In North America the inventor and entrepreneur George Westinghouse entered the electric lighting business in 1884 when he started to develop a DC system and hired William Stanley, Jr. to work on it.

George Westinghouse.jpg

Above: George Westinghouse (1846 – 1914)

Westinghouse became aware of the new European transformer based AC systems in 1885 when he read about them in the UK technical journal Engineering.

He grasped that AC combined with transformers meant greater economies of scale could be achieved with large centralized power plants transmitting stepped up voltage very long distances to be used in arc lighting as well lower voltage home and commercial incandescent lighting supplied via a “step down” transformer at the other end.

Westinghouse saw a way to build a truly competitive system instead of simply building another barely competitive DC lighting system using patents just different enough to get around the Edison patents.

The Edison DC system of centralized DC plants with their short transmission range also meant there was a patchwork of un-supplied customers between Edison’s plants that Westinghouse could easily supply with AC power.

Westinghouse purchased the US patents rights to the Gaulard-Gibbs transformer and imported several of those as well as Siemens AC generators to begin experimenting with an AC-based lighting system in Pittsburgh.

 

William Stanley used the Gaulard-Gibbs design and designs from the ZBD transformer to develop the first practical transformer.

The Westinghouse Electric Company was formed at the beginning of 1886.

In March 1886 Stanley, with Westinghouse’s backing, installed the first multiple-voltage AC power system, a demonstration incandescent lighting system, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

Expanded to the point where it could light 23 businesses along main street with very little power loss over 4000 feet, the system used transformers to step 500 AC volts at the street down to 100 volts to power incandescent lamps at each location.

By fall of 1886 Westinghouse, Stanley, and Oliver B. Shallenberger had built the first commercial AC power system in the US in Buffalo, New York.

By the end of 1887 Westinghouse had 68 alternating current power stations to Edison’s 121 DC-based stations.

Above: William Stanley (1858 – 1916)

 

To make matters worse for Edison, the Thomson-Houston Electric Company of Lynn, Massachusetts (another competitor offering AC- and DC-based systems) had built 22 power stations.

Thomson-Houston was expanding their business while trying to avoid patent conflicts with Westinghouse, arranging deals such as coming to agreements over lighting company territory, paying a royalty to use the Stanley AC transformer patent, and allowing Westinghouse to use their Sawyer-Man incandescent bulb patent.

 

Besides Thomson-Houston and Brush there were other competitors at the time included the United States Illuminating Company and the Waterhouse Electric Light Company.

 

All of the companies had their own electric power systems, arc lighting systems, and even incandescent lamp designs for domestic lighting, leading to constant lawsuits and patent battles between themselves and with Edison.

 

Elihu Thomson of Thomson-Houston was concerned about AC safety and put a great deal of effort into developing a lightning arrestor for high-tension power lines as well as a magnetic blowout switch that could shut the system down in a power surge, a safety feature the Westinghouse system did not have.

Thomson also worried what would happen with the equipment after they sold it, assuming customers would follow a risky practice of installing as many lights and generators as they could get away with.

He also thought the idea of using AC lighting in residential homes was too dangerous and had the company hold back on that type of installations until a safer transformer could be developed.

 

Due to the hazards presented by high voltage electrical lines most European cities and the city of Chicago in the US required them to be buried underground.

The City of New York did not require burying and had little in the way of regulation so by the end of 1887 the mishmash of overhead wires for telephone, telegraph, fire and burglar alarm systems in Manhattan were now mixed with haphazardly strung AC lighting system wires carrying up to 6000 volts.

Insulation on power lines was rudimentary, with one electrician referring to it as having as much value “as a molasses covered rag“, and exposure to the elements was eroding it over time.

A third of the wires were simply abandoned by defunct companies and slowly deteriorating, causing damage to, and shorting out the other lines.

In June 1884, Tesla emigrated to the United States from Paris.

He arrived in America with four cents in his pocket (he had been robbed aboard ship), a book of poetry and a letter of recommendation.

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“I wish that I could put into words my first impressions of this country.

In the Arabian Tales I read how genii transported people into a land of dreams to live through delightful adventures.

My case was just the reverse.

What I had left was beautiful, artistic and fascinating in every way.

What I saw here was machined, rough and unattractive.

A burly policeman was twirling his stick which looked to me as big as a log.

I approached him politely with the request to direct me.

Six blocks down, then to the left.“, he said, with murder in his eyes.

Is this America?“, I asked myself in painful surprise.

It is a century behind Europe in civilization.

When I went abroad in 1889 – five years having elapsed since my arrival here – I became convinced that it was more than one hundred years AHEAD of Europe and nothing has happened to this day to change my opinion.”

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“The meeting with Edison was a memorable event in my life.

I was amazed at this wonderful man who, without early advantages and scientific training, had accomplished so much.

I had studied a dozen languages, delved in literature and art, and had spent my best years in libraries reading all sorts of stuff that fell into my Hands, from Newton’s Principia to the novels of Paul de Kock, and felt that most of my life had been squandered.

Portrait of man in black with shoulder-length, wavy brown hair, a large sharp nose, and a distracted gaze

Above: Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727)

But it did not take long before I recognized that it was the best thing I could have done.

Within a few weeks I had won Edison’s confidence and it came about this way:

The SS Oregon, the fastest passenger steamship at the time, had both of its lighting machines disabled and its sailing delayed.

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As the superstructure had been built after their installation it was impossible to remove them from the hold.

The predicament was a serious one and Edison was much annoyed.

In the evening I took the necessary instruments with me and went aboard the vessel where I stayed for the night.

The dynamos were in bad condition, having several short circuits and breaks, but with the assistance of the crew I succeeded in putting them in good shape.

At five o’clock in the morning, when passing along 5th Avenue on my way to the shop, I met Edison with Batchelor and a few others as they were returning home to retire.

Above: Charles Batchelor (1845 – 1910)

Here is our Parisian running around at night.“, he said.

When I told him that I was coming from the Oregon and had repaired both machines, he looked at me in silence and walked away without another word.

But when he had gone some distance I heard him remark:

Batchelor, this is a damn good man.

 

From that time on I had full freedom in directing the work.

 

For nearly a year my regular hours were from 10:30 am to 5 o’clock the next morning without a day’s exception.

 

Edison said to me:

I have had many hard-working assistants but you take the cake.

 

During this period I designed 24 different types of standard machines with short cores and of uniform pattern which replaced the old ones.”

(A few notes for those of an unscientific background:

Imagine a blanket that covers everything and stretches into infinity.

Imagine that this blanket consists of two types of energy: that which remains stationary (magnetic) and that which is constantly in motion (electrical).

Further imagine that within all matter there is, on the subatomic level, particles of a positive nature (protons) and a negative nature (electrons) and that they create fields that either attract or repel other particles towards or away from them.

This force’s presence and motions between these particles is manifested in current (how this flow varies over time) by either direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC).

Direct current means that there is a one-way flow from positive magnetic spot to negative magnetic spot.

Alternating current means that the current flow can reverse direction repeatedly.

Direct current means direct contact with a conductor, for example, a copper wire, but much energy is lost as heat due to wire resistance.

Alternating current means that the waves of electromagnetic radiation (manifested in the form of heat) rather than travelling through a wire will instead ride upon the surface of the wire.

Direct current motors sparked, needed constant replacements and servicing, and offered limited range.

But until Tesla no one had found an effective method to create an AC motor.)

 

Meanwhile, Hugo Gernsback (né Gernsbacher)(1884 – 1967) was born in Luxembourg Ville to Moritz Gernsbacher, a Jewish winemaker, and his wife Berta (née Dürlacher).

Flag of Luxembourg

Above: Flag of Luxembourg

 

Tesla began working almost immediately at the Machine Works on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, in an overcrowded shop with a workforce of several hundred machinists, labourers, managing staff and 20 field engineers struggling with the task of building the largest electric utility in New York City.

As in Paris, Tesla was working on troubleshooting installations and improving generators.

Tesla met Thomas Alva Edison only a couple of times.

Edison called Tesla “the Poet of Science“, for both men had very different approaches.

Where Edison was a practical, mercantile, trial and error man, Nikola Tesla was a theoretical, well-educated business-naive visionary who never fully understood the American tendency to disbelief in science unless it was cloaked in the “show me” sensibility.

Tesla had been working at the Machine Works for a total of six months when he quit.

Tesla had made considerable improvements on DC dynamos, but when he approached Edison for the money he had been promised he was told:

Tesla, you don’t understand American humour.

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Above: Nikola Tesla

 

This caused Tesla to resign and to form his own company, Tesla Electric Light and Manufacturing, but this came to nought as his investors pulled out over his plan for an alternating current motor.

Soon after leaving the Edison company, Tesla was working on patenting an arc lighting system.

Tesla worked for the rest of the year obtaining the patents that included an improved AC generator, but investors showed little interest in his ideas for new types of alternating current motors and electrical transmission equipment.

By 1886 the inventor was left penniless so he had to work at various electrical repair jobs and as a ditch digger.

 

In late 1886, Tesla met Alfred S. Brown, a Western Union superintendent, and New York attorney Charles F. Peck.

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The two men were experienced in setting up companies and promoting inventions and patents for financial gain.

Based on Tesla’s new ideas for electrical equipment, including a thermo-magnetic motor idea, they agreed to back the inventor financially and handle his patents.

Together they formed the Tesla Electric Company in April 1887, with an agreement that profits from generated patents would go 1/3 to Tesla, 1/3 to Peck and Brown, and 1/3 to fund development.

They set up a laboratory for Tesla at 89 Liberty Street in Manhattan, where he worked on improving and developing new types of electric motors, generators, and other devices.

 

In 1887, Tesla developed an induction motor that ran on AC, a power system format that was rapidly expanding in Europe and the United States because of the advantages in long-distance, high-voltage transmission.

The motor used polyphase current, which generated a rotating magnetic field to turn the motor.

This innovative electric motor had a simple self-starting design that avoided sparking and the high maintenance of constantly servicing and replacing mechanical brushes.

Along with getting Tesla’s motor patented, Peck and Brown arranged to get the motor publicized, starting with independent testing to verify that it was a functional improvement, followed by press releases sent to technical publications for articles to run concurrent with the issue of the patent.

Physicist William Arnold Anthony (who tested the motor) and Electrical World magazine editor Thomas Commerford Martin arranged for Tesla to demonstrate his AC motor on 16 May 1888 at the American Institute of Electrical Engineers.

Engineers working for the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company reported to George Westinghouse that Tesla had a viable AC motor and related power system – something Westinghouse needed for the alternating current system he was already marketing.

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Westinghouse decided that Tesla’s patent would probably control the market.

In July 1888, Brown and Peck negotiated a licensing deal with George Westinghouse for Tesla’s polyphase induction motor and transformer designs for $60,000 in cash and stock and a royalty of $2.50 per AC horsepower produced by each motor.

Westinghouse also hired Tesla for one year for the large fee of $2,000 ($54,500 in today’s dollars) per month to be a consultant at the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company’s Pittsburgh labs.

During that year, Tesla worked in Pittsburgh, helping to create an alternating current system to power the city’s streetcars.

He found it a frustrating period because of conflicts with the other Westinghouse engineers over how best to implement AC power.

Between them, they settled on a 60-cycle AC system that Tesla proposed (to match the working frequency of Tesla’s motor), but they soon found that it would not work for streetcars, since Tesla’s induction motor could run only at a constant speed.

They ended up using a DC traction motor instead.

 

Tesla’s demonstration of his induction motor and Westinghouse’s subsequent licensing of the patent, both in 1888, came at the time of extreme competition between electric companies.

The three big firms, Westinghouse, Edison, and Thompson-Houston, were trying to grow in a capital-intensive business while financially undercutting each other.

There was even a propaganda campaign going on with Edison Electric trying to claim their direct current system was better and safer than the Westinghouse alternating current system.

Competing in this market meant Westinghouse would not have the cash or engineering resources to develop Tesla’s motor and the related polyphase system right away.

The Great Blizzard of 1888 (11 – 14 March 1888) was one of the most severe recorded blizzards in the history of the United States of America.

The storm, referred to as the Great White Hurricane, paralyzed the East Coast from Chesapeake Bay to Maine, as well as the Atlantic provinces of Canada.

Snowfalls of 10 to 58 inches (25 to 147 cm) fell in parts of New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, and sustained winds of more than 45 miles per hour (72 km/h) produced snowdrifts in excess of 50 feet (15 m).

Railroads were shut down, and people were confined to their houses for up to a week.

Railway and telegraph lines were disabled, and this provided the impetus to move these pieces of infrastructure underground.

Emergency services were also affected.

 

The Great Blizzard of 1888 tore down a large number of the lines, cutting off utilities in the city.

This spurred on the idea of having these lines moved underground but it was stopped by a court injunction obtained by Western Union.

Legislation to give all the utilities 90 days to move their lines into underground conduits supplied by the city was slowly making its way through the government but that was also being fought in court by the United States Illuminating Company, who claimed their AC lines were perfectly safe.

As AC systems continued to spread into territories covered by DC systems, with the companies seeming to impinge on Edison patents including incandescent lighting, things got worse for the company.

The price of copper was rising, adding to the expense of Edison’s low voltage DC system, which required much heavier copper wires than higher voltage AC systems.

Thomas Edison’s own colleagues and engineers were trying to get him to consider AC.

Edison’s sales force was continually losing bids in municipalities that opted for cheaper AC Systems and Edison Electric Illuminating Company president Edward Hibberd Johnson pointed out that if the company stuck with an all DC system it would not be able to do business in small towns and even mid-sized cities.

Edison Electric had a patent option on the ZBD transformer, and a confidential in-house report recommended that the company go AC, but Thomas Edison was against the idea.

 

After Westinghouse installed his first large scale system Edison wrote in a November 1886 private letter to Edward Johnson:

Just as certain as death Westinghouse will kill a customer within six months after he puts in a system of any size.

He has got a new thing and it will require a great deal of experimenting to get it working practically.

 

Edison seemed to hold a view that the very high voltage used in AC systems was too dangerous and that it would take many years to develop a safe and workable system.

Safety and avoiding the bad press of killing a customer had been one of the goals in designing his DC system and he worried that a death caused by a mis-installed AC system could hold back the use of electricity in general, Edison’s understanding of how AC systems worked seemed to be extensive.

He noted what he saw as inefficiencies and that, combined with the capital costs in trying to finance very large generating plants, led him to believe there would be very little cost savings in an AC venture.

Edison was also of the opinion that DC was a superior system (a fact that he was sure the public would come to recognize) and inferior AC technology was being used by other companies as a way to get around his DC patents.

 

In February 1888 Edison Electric president Edward Johnson published an 84-page pamphlet titled “A Warning from the Edison Electric Light Company” and sent it to newspapers and to companies that had purchased or were planning to purchase electrical equipment from Edison competitors, including Westinghouse and Thomson Houston, stating that the competitors were infringing on Edison’s incandescent light and other electrical patents.

It warned that purchasers could find themselves on the losing side of a court case if those patents were upheld.

The pamphlet also emphasized the safety and efficiency of direct current, with the claim DC had not caused a single death, and included newspaper stories of accidental electrocutions caused by alternating current.

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As arc lighting systems spread so did stories of how the high voltages involved were killing people, usually unwary linemen, a strange new phenomenon that seemed to instantaneously strike a victim dead.

One such story in 1881 of a drunken dock worker dying after he grabbed a large electric dynamo led Buffalo, New York, dentist Alfred P. Southwick to seek some application for the curious phenomenon.

He worked with local physician George E. Fell and the Buffalo ASPCA, electrocuting hundreds of stray dogs, to come up with a method to euthanize animals via electricity.

Southwick’s 1882 and 1883 articles on how electrocution could be a replacement for hanging, using a restraint similar to a dental chair (an electric chair) caught the attention of New York State politicians who, following a series of botched hangings, were desperately seeking an alternative.

An 1886 commission appointed by New York governor David B. Hill, which including Southwick, recommended in 1888 that executions be carried out by electricity using the electric chair.

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Above: William Kemmler (1860 – 1890), the world’s first person to be executed by electric chair (6 August 1890)

 

There were early indications that this new form of execution would become mixed up with the war of currents.

As part of their fact-finding, the commission sent out surveys to hundreds of experts on law and medicine, seeking their opinions, as well as contacting electrical experts, including Elihu Thomson and Thomas Edison.

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Above: Elihu Thomson (1853 – 1937)

 

In late 1887, when death penalty commission member Southwick contacted Edison, the inventor stated he was against capital punishment and wanted nothing to do with the matter.

After further prompting, Edison hit out at his chief electric power competitor, George Westinghouse, in what may have been the opening salvo in the war of currents, stating in a December 1887 letter to Southwick that it would be best to use current generated by “‘alternating machines,’ manufactured principally in this country by George Westinghouse“.

 

Soon after the execution by electricity bill passed in June 1888, Edison was asked by a New York government official what means would be the best way to implement the state’s new form of execution.

“Hire out your criminals as linemen to the New York electric lighting companies” was Edison’s tongue in cheek answer.

 

As the number of deaths attributed to high voltage lighting around the country continued to mount, a cluster of deaths in New York City in the spring of 1888 related to AC arc lighting set off a media frenzy against the “deadly arc-lighting currentand the seemingly callous lighting companies that used it.

These deaths included a 15-year-old boy killed on 15 April by a broken telegraph line that had energized with alternating current from a United States Illuminating Company line, a clerk killed two weeks later by an AC line, and a Brush Electric Company lineman killed in May by the AC line he was cutting.

The press in New York seemed to switch overnight from stories about electric lights vs gas lighting to “death by wire” incidents, with each new report seeming to fan public resentment against high voltage AC and the dangerously tangled overhead electrical wires in the city.

 

Tesla became a US citizen in 1889.

In 1889, Tesla moved out of the Liberty Street shop Peck and Brown had rented and for the next dozen years would work out of a series of workshop/laboratory spaces in Manhattan.

These included a lab at 175 Grand Street (1889–1892), the fourth floor of 33–35 South Fifth Avenue (1892–1895), and sixth and seventh floors of 46 & 48 East Houston Street (1895–1902).

Mark Twain in Tesla's lab, 1894

Above: Mark Twain (1835 – 1910) at Tesla’s 5th Avenue laboratory

 

Tesla and his hired staff would conduct some of his most significant work in these workshops.

 

In the summer of 1889, Tesla traveled to the Exposition Universelle in Paris and learned of Heinrich Hertz’s 1886–88 experiments that proved the existence of electromagnetic radiation, including radio waves.

Tesla found this new discovery “refreshing” and decided to explore it more fully.

In repeating, and then expanding on, these experiments, Tesla tried powering a Ruhmkorff coil with a high speed alternator he had been developing as part of an improved arc lighting system but found that the high frequency current overheated the iron core and melted the insulation between the primary and secondary windings in the coil.

To fix this problem Tesla came up with his Tesla coil with an air gap instead of insulating material between the primary and secondary windings and an iron core that could be moved to different positions in or out of the coil.

Two years after signing the Tesla contract, Westinghouse Electric was in trouble.

The near collapse of Barings Bank in London triggered the financial panic of 1890, causing investors to call in their loans to Westinghouse Electric.

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The sudden cash shortage forced the company to refinance its debts.

The new lenders demanded that Westinghouse cut back on what looked like excessive spending on acquisition of other companies, research, and patents, including the per motor royalty in the Tesla contract.

At that point, the Tesla induction motor had been unsuccessful and was stuck in development.

Westinghouse was paying a $15,000-a-year guaranteed royalty even though operating examples of the motor were rare and polyphase power systems needed to run it were even rarer.

 

After 1890, Tesla experimented with transmitting power by inductive and capacitive coupling using high AC voltages generated with his Tesla coil.

He attempted to develop a wireless lighting system based on near-field inductive and capacitive coupling and conducted a series of public demonstrations where he lit Geissler tubes and even incandescent light bulbs from across a stage.

He would spend most of the decade working on variations of this new form of lighting with the help of various investors but none of the ventures succeeded in making a commercial product out of his findings.

 

In 1891 Tesla established his own laboratory in Houston Street, where he lit up vacuum tubes as evidence for the potential of wireless power transmission.

 

In early 1891, George Westinghouse explained his financial difficulties to Tesla in stark terms, saying that, if he did not meet the demands of his lenders, he would no longer be in control of Westinghouse Electric and Tesla would have to “deal with the bankers” to try to collect future royalties.

The advantages of having Westinghouse continue to champion the motor probably seemed obvious to Tesla and he agreed to release the company from the royalty payment clause in the contract.

 

At the beginning of 1893, Westinghouse engineer Benjamin Lamme had made great progress developing an efficient version of Tesla’s induction motor and Westinghouse Electric started branding their complete polyphase AC system as the “Tesla Polyphase System“.

Westinghouse Electric asked Tesla to participate in the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago where the company had a large space in a building devoted to electrical exhibits.

Looking West From Peristyle, Court of Honor and Grand Basin, 1893.jpg

Westinghouse Electric won the bid to light the Exposition with alternating current and it was a key event in the history of AC power, as the company demonstrated to the American public the safety, reliability, and efficiency of a fully integrated alternating current system.

 

Tesla showed a series of electrical effects related to alternating current as well as his wireless lighting system, using a demonstration he had previously performed throughout America and Europe.

These included using high-voltage, high-frequency alternating current to light a wireless gas-discharge lamp.

An observer noted:

“Within the room were suspended two hard-rubber plates covered with tin foil.

These were about fifteen feet apart and served as terminals of the wires leading from the transformers.

When the current was turned on, the lamps or tubes, which had no wires connected to them, but lay on a table between the suspended plates, or which might be held in the hand in almost any part of the room, were made luminous.

These were the same experiments and the same apparatus shown by Tesla in London about two years previous, where they produced so much wonder and astonishment.”

 

Tesla also explained the principles of the rotating magnetic field in an induction motor by demonstrating how to make a copper egg stand on end, using a device that he constructed known as the Egg of Columbus and introduced his new steam powered oscillator AC generator.

The Egg of Columbus

 

At St. Louis’s Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and the National Electric Light Association, Tesla told his audience that he was sure a system like his could eventually conduct “intelligible signals or perhaps even power to any distance without the use of wires” by conducting it through the Earth.

 

Edward Dean Adams, who headed up the Niagara Falls Cataract Construction Company, sought Tesla’s opinion on what system would be best to transmit power generated at the falls.

The city of Niagara Falls. In the foreground are the waterfalls known as the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, respectively, from left to right.

Over several years, there had been a series of proposals and open competitions on how best to use power generated by the falls.

Among the systems proposed by several US and European companies were two-phase and three-phase AC, high-voltage DC and compressed air.

Adams pumped Tesla for information about the current state of all the competing systems.

Tesla advised Adams that a two-phased system would be the most reliable, and that there was a Westinghouse system to light incandescent bulbs using two-phase alternating current.

The company awarded a contract to Westinghouse Electric for building a two-phase AC generating system at the Niagara Falls, based on Tesla’s advice and Westinghouse’s demonstration at the Columbian Exposition that they could build a complete AC system.

At the same time, a further contract was awarded to General Electric to build the AC distribution system.

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In 1897 Westinghouse purchased Tesla’s patent for a lump sum payment of $216,000 as part of a patent-sharing agreement signed with General Electric (a company created from the 1892 merger of Edison and Thompson-Houston).

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The money Tesla made from licensing his AC patents made him independently wealthy and gave him the time and funds to pursue his own interests.

And it would be this pursuit of his own interests that would take a highly-respected engineer and, through Hugo Gernsback, make him into a legend….

Sources:  Wikipedia / Nikola Tesla, My Inventions

Canada Slim and the Anachronic Man

Landschlacht, Switzerland, 8 October 2018

anachronic: not belonging to the time where one finds oneself

 

There are some places in the world where a person is immediately drawn to explore, either because of the sheer immensity of the place or because there is something truly remarkable there that cries out to be visited.

Kilchberg, a small town just south of Zürich on the western shore of the Lake of Zürich, fits neither description.

Kilchberg - Albis-Uetliberg - ZSG Pfannenstiel 2013-09-09 14-34-19.JPG

Kilchberg, unlike huge metropolises like London or Istanbul, does not offer surprises around every corner.

It takes only a well-planned excursion to see what little there is to see in this town: the Mann legacy of house and gravesites, the chocolate factory, and a museum dedicated to an anachronic man.

This post is this anachronic man’s story.

His museum is, to be frank, only of interest to those who can read fluently in German, for there are no descriptions in any other language within his last abode and his works seem to be only available in the Teutonic tongue.

The Museum, though named after the man who lived there, is not exclusively about him, as the scattered collections also focus on the bulk of the Klaus Mann family who lived and died in Kilchberg, as well as the local history of the community.

And those who run the Museum certainly do nothing to make a person want to make an effort to visit it, as the Museum is open only six hours a week on Wednesdays and Sundays from 2 to 5 pm.

 

(To be fair to the Museum, limited opening times and almost non-existent promotion are a typical problem of many museums in Switzerland.

The motivation to see such an attraction must have been driven from yourself, for it won’t have been created by anything the Swiss did.

For example, there is a Police and Criminal Museum in St. Gallen I knew nothing about until recently, despite my having worked in St. Gallen for the past eight years.

Now that I know it exists I am compelled to visit it soon, but its promised treasures are available for viewing at very limited opening times and with next to nothing and no one actively promoting it.)

 

As related in the previous post Canada Slim and the Family of Mann, my visit on 12 August 2018 to Kilchberg’s Conrad Ferdinand Meyer Museum was a third and final attempt to learn about Meyer.

And though Meyer is of little interest to most folks except those with either a passion for local history or Swiss literature, there are certain aspects about the life of Meyer with which I (and maybe you too, my gentle reader)can relate.

Conrad Ferdinand Meyer was born on 11 October 1825 in Zürich of patrician descent (i.e. nobility).

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Above: Conrad Ferdinand Meyer (1825 – 1898)

 

His father, who died early, was a statesman and historian, while his mother was a highly cultured woman.

Throughout Meyer’s childhood two traits were observed that later characterized the man and the writer:

  • He had a most scrupulous regard for neatness and cleanliness (a place for everything and everything in its place to the point of cleanliness nest to godliness).
  • He lived and experienced more deeply in memory than in the immediate present.

 

(Blogger’s personal note:

I have always been surprised that any museum one visits always show the subject of the museum as an organized and tidy individual, when it has been my experience that those of a creative nature rarely are.)

 

Meyer suffered from bouts of mental illness, sometimes requiring hospitalization.

His mother, similarly but more severely affected, killed herself.

 

I am reminded of Lewis Carroll….

Image result for all the best people are crazy

 

Once Meyer’s secondary education was completed, he took up the study of law, but history and the humanities were of greater interest to him.

He spent considerable amounts of time in Lausanne, Genève, Paris and Italy, immersed in historical research.

The two historians who influenced Meyer the most were Louis Vulliemin at Lausanne and Jacob Burkhardt in Basel whose book on the Culture of the Renaissance stimulated his imagination and interest.

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Above: Jacob Burkhardt (1818 – 1897)

 

From Meyer’s travels in France and Italy, he derived much inspiration for the settings and characters of his historical novels.

Meyer’s master of realism was uncanny to the point that the reader is convinced that he lived what he wrote.

Reading his historical novels or narrative ballads the readers feel that they are living the past settings now.

 

What follows is the stuff of science fiction and immense improbability….

 

It is uncertain if time travel to the past is physically possible, but there are solutions in general relativity that allow for it, though the solutions require conditions not feasible with current technology.

The earliest science fiction work about backwards time travel is uncertain.

 

Samuel Madden’s Memoirs of the Twentieth Century (1733) is a series of letters from British ambassadors in 1997 and 1998 to diplomats in the past, conveying the political and religious conditions of the future.

Above: Samuel Madden (1686 – 1765)

 

In the science fiction anthology Far Boundaries (1951), editor August Darleth claims that the earliest short story about time travel is “Missing One’s Coach: An Anachronism“, written for the Dublin Literary Magazine by an anonymous author in 1838.

The narrator of this short story waits under a tree for a coach to take him out of Newcastle, when he is transported in time over a thousand years.

The narrator encounters the Venerable Bede (672 – 735) in a monastery and explains to him the developments of the coming centuries.

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Above: Bede the Venerable

 

The story never makes it clear whether these events are real or a dream.

 

There are a number of science fiction classics that suggest that the mind can transport a person back into the past.

 

Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)(Tom Sawyer / Huckleberry Finn), A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889):

Connecticut engineer Hank Morgan receives a severe blow to the head and is somehow transported in time and space to England during the reign of King Arthur.

After some initial confusion and his capture by one of Arthur’s knights, Hank realizes that he is actually in the past, and he uses his knowledge to make people believe that he is a powerful magician.

He attempts to modernize the past in order to make people’s lives better, but in the end he is unable to prevent the death of Arthur and an interdict against him by the Catholic Church of the time which grows fearful of his power….

Portrait by Mathew Brady, February 1871

Above: Mark Twain (pen name of Samuel Clemens)

 

Daphne du Maurier (1907 – 1989)(Rebecca / Jamaica Inn), The House on the Strand (1969):

Dick Young, has given up his job and been offered the use of the ancient Cornish house of Kilmarth by an old university friend Magnus Lane, a leading biophysicist in London.

He reluctantly agrees to act as a test subject for a drug that Magnus has secretly developed.

On taking it for the first time, Dick finds that it enables him to enter into the landscape around him as it existed during the early 14th century.

He becomes drawn into the lives of the people he sees there and is soon addicted to the experience….

The young Daphne du Maurier (about 1930)

Above: Daphne du Maurier

 

Jack Finney (1911 – 1995)(The Body Snatchers), Time and Again (1970)

In November 1970, Simon Morley, an advertising sketch artist, is approached by U.S. Army Major Ruben Prien to participate in a secret government project.

He is taken to a huge warehouse on the West Side of Manhattan, where he views what seem to be movie sets, with people acting on them. It seems this is a project to learn whether it is feasible to send people back into the past by what amounts to self-hypnosis—whether, by convincing oneself that one is in the past, not the present, one can make it so.

As it turns out, Simon (usually called Si) has a good reason to want to go back to the past—his girlfriend, Kate, has a mystery linked to New York City in 1882.

She has a letter dated from that year, mailed to an Andrew Carmody (a fictional minor figure who was associated with Grover Cleveland).

The letter seems innocuous enough—a request for a meeting to discuss marble—but there is a note which, though half burned, seems to say that the sending of the letter led to “the destruction by fire of the entire world“, followed by a missing word.

Carmody, the writer of the note, mentioned his blame for that incident.

He then killed himself.

Si agrees to participate in the project, and requests permission to go back to New York City in 1882 in order to watch the letter being mailed (the postmark makes clear when it was mailed).

The elderly Dr. E.E. Danziger, head of the project, agrees, and expresses his regret that he can’t go with Si, because he would love to see his parents’ first meeting, which also occurred in New York City in 1882.

The project rents an apartment at the famous Dakota apartment building.

Si uses the apartment as both a staging area and a means to help him with self-hypnosis, since the building’s style is so much of the period in which it was built and faces a section of Central Park which, when viewed from the apartment’s window, is unchanged from 1882.

Si is successful in going back to 1882….

Time and Again.jpg

 

Richard Matheson (1926 – 2013)(I Am Legend), Bid Time Return (1975):

Richard Collier is a 36-year-old screenwriter who has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and has decided, after a coin flip, to spend his last days hanging around the Hotel del Coronado.

Most of the novel represents a private journal he is continually updating throughout the story.

He becomes obsessed with the photograph of a famous stage actress, Elise McKenna, who performed at the hotel in the 1890s.

Through research, he learns that she had an overprotective manager named William Fawcett Robinson, that she never married and that she seemed to have had a brief affair with a mysterious man while staying at this hotel in 1896.

The more Richard learns, the more he becomes convinced that it is his destiny to travel back in time and become that mysterious man.

Through research, he develops a method of time travel that involves using his mind to transport himself into the past.

After much struggle, he succeeds.

At first, he experiences feelings of disorientation and constantly worries that he will be drawn back into the present, but soon these feelings dissipate.

He is unsure what to say to Elise when he finally does meet her, but to his surprise she immediately asks, “Is it you?

(She later explains that two psychics told her she would meet a mysterious man at that exact time and place.)

Without telling her where (or, rather, when) he comes from, he pursues a relationship with her, while struggling to adapt himself to the conventions of the time.

Inexplicably, his daily headaches are gone, and he believes that his memory of having come from the future will ultimately disappear.

But Robinson, who assumes that Richard is simply after Elise’s wealth, hires two men to abduct Richard and leave him in a shed while Elise departs on a train.

Richard manages to escape and make his way back to the hotel, where he finds that Elise never left.

They go to a hotel room and passionately make love.

In the middle of the night, Richard leaves the room and bumps into Robinson.

After a brief physical struggle, Richard quickly runs back into the room, and he casually picks a coin out of his pocket.

Realizing too late that it is a 1970s coin, the sight of it pushes him back into the present.

At the end of the book, we find out that Richard died soon after.

A doctor claims that the time-traveling experience occurred only in Richard’s mind, the desperate fantasy of a dying man, but Richard’s brother, who has chosen to publish the journal, is not completely convinced….

BidTimeReturn.jpg

 

There have been various accounts of persons who allegedly travelled through time reported by the press or circulated on the Internet.

These reports have generally turned out either to be hoaxes or to be based on incorrect assumptions, incomplete information, or interpretation of fiction as fact, many being now recognized as urban legends.

 

I am not suggesting that Meyer’s writing is superior to other historical writers.

Nor am I suggesting at all that Conrad Ferdinand Meyer was a time traveller, but rather he was an anachronic man, a man more at home in the memory of the past than the reality of the present.

Perhaps Meyer had even hypnotized himself into believing he had visited the past upon which he wrote so convincingly, but there is absolutely not a shred of proof to support such a wild hypothesis.

Above: Conrad Ferdinand Meyer

 

In 1875, Meyer settled at Kirchberg.

Meyer found his calling only late in life.

(He was 46 when his first work Hutten’s Last Days was published.)

Being fluently bilingual, Meyer wavered between French and German.

The Franco-Prussian War (1870 – 1871) cemented his final decision to write in German.

In Meyer’s novels, a great crisis releases latent energies and precipitates a catastrophe.

In the same manner, his own life, which before the War had been one of dreaming and experimenting, was stirred to the very depths by the events of 1870.

Meyer identified himself with the German cause and as a manifesto of his sympathies published the aforementioned Hutten’s Last Days in 1871.

After that his works appeared in rapid succession and were collected into eight volumes in 1912, fourteen years after his death.

Image result for c f meyer museum kilchberg

The periods of the Renaissance (14th to 17th centuries) and the Counter Reformation (1545 – 1648) furnished the subjects for most of his novels.

Most of his plots spring from the deeper conflict between freedom and fate and culminate in a dramatic crisis in which the hero, in the face of a great temptation, loses his moral freedom and is forced to fulfill the higher law of destiny.

 

His two most famous novels are gripping and provocative.

In Jürg Jenatsch (1876), which takes place in Swiss Canton Graubünden during the Thirty Years War (1618 – 1648), a Protestant minister and fanatic patriot who, in his determination to preserve the independence of Switzerland, does not shrink from murder and treason and in whom noble and base motives are strangely blended.

Georg Jenatsch.jpg

Above: Jörg Jenatsch (1596 – 1639)

 

In The Wedding of the Monk (1884), the renowned writer Dante Alighieri (1265 – 1321) is introduced at the court of Cangrande in Verona, who narrates the strange adventure of a monk who, after the death of his brother, is forced by his father to break his monastic vows but who, instead of marrying the widow, falls in love with another young girl and runs blindly to his fate.

head-and-chest side portrait of Dante in red and white coat and cowl

Above: Dante Aligheri

 

Meyer has written about the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre (the night of 23 – 24 August 1572)(The Amulet), Thomas Becket (1119 – 1170)(The Saint), the Renaissance in Switzerland (Plautus in the Nunnery), France during the reign of Louis XIV (1638 – 1715)(The Suffering of a Boy), Charlemagne (742 – 814) and his Palace School (The Judge), and a tale of a great crisis in the life of Fernando d’Ávalos (1489 – 1525)(The Temptation of Pescara).

Yet if Meyer is remembered by the Swiss at all, it is as a master of narrative ballads, such as the aforementioned Hutten’s Last Days.

Meyer fascinated a man whose name is more recognizable to my gentle readers: psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud.

Freud in reflecting on Meyer’s life and works argued that there is a widespread existence among neurotics of a fable in which the present day parents are imposters, replacing a real and more aristocratic pair.

In repudiating the parents of today, the child is merely “turning away from the father whom he knows today to the father he believed in the earliest years of his childhood“.

He identified this psychological complex as the family romance.

Sigmund Freud, by Max Halberstadt (cropped).jpg

Above: Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939)

 

(I am reminded of Joanne Greenberg’s semi-autobiographical novel – written under the pen name Hannah GreenI Never Promised You a Rose Garden, where Hannah shares a room with a memory-impaired girl who gives herself multiple sets of musical celebrity parents. “My father is (Igancy Jan) Paderewski (1860 – 1941) and my mother is Sophie Tucker (1886 – 1996).”

Greenberg’s novel was made into a film in 1977 and a play in 2004.

Perhaps it may have inspired Lynn Anderson’s 1967 song Rose Garden.)

INeverPromisedYouARoseGarden.jpg

 

Perhaps Meyer’s legacy of a father’s early death and a mother’s suicide made Meyer retreat from his grim reality and escape into the past.

Perhaps his pain made it possible for him to write so convincingly about a past he never personally witnessed except through his research.

Meyer’s genius is such that his readers are made to believe that they too are in the midst of the past stories he relates.

 

(If years rather than places were made into travel guides for time travellers I would suggest adapting Meyer’s works into such a form.

Imagine such a concept….

1313: A Travel Guide

This time travel guide is invaluable for showing the prospective reader what dates to visit, what places are “happening” then, and all the dangers and delights of the time of the Battle of Gamelsdorf and the Siege of Rostock, the birth of the Infanta Maria of Portugal and the death of Austrian Saint Notburga.

Don’t leave your era without it!“)

 

Perhaps the difference, then as now, between a good artist and a great one is not only a question of talent….

Perhaps it is a question of successfully marketing that talent….

Though Meyer is lost in the shadows of time, perhaps a consideration of who he was and what he wrote is finally due.

Perhaps his story makes his Museum, even with German-only captions, worth a visit….

Image result for c f meyer museum kilchberg

Sources: Wikipedia, http://www.kilchberg.ch

Above: The TARDIS, BBC Doctor Who

 

Canada Slim and the Visionary

Landschlacht, Switzerland, 7 October 2018

I caution you.

Expect much!

(Hugo Gernsback, Electrical Experimenter, January 1919)

Gernsback portrait by Fabian, date unknown

Above: Hugo Gernsback (1884 – 1967)

 

In my apartment we have many things.

Flag of Switzerland

These things seem so commonplace that we have taken this electrical world in which we live in for granted.

Amongst the flotsam and jetsam and choas that is a modern apartment, much is powered by electricity: the lamps and overhead lights, the computer upon which I type this blog, the TV and two radios, the toaster, the kettle, the dishwasher, the fridge, the freezer, my wife’s hairdryer and iron, the vacuum cleaner, and batteries and cables used for mobile devices.

Our apartment is by no means super-modern nor overly luxurious in terms of all the bells and whistles other flats might produce, but we are nevertheless grateful for the manner in which our lives are blessed, materialistically and otherwise.

There are names you might have heard of in regards to the history of electricity: Thales, Aristophanes, Euclid, Pliny, William Gilbert, Benjamin Franklin, Joseph Priestley, Charles Coulomb, Luigi Galvini, Alessandro Volta, Humphrey Davy, André-Marie Ampère, Georg Ohm, Michael Faraday, Samuel Morse, James Prescott Joule, Thomas Edison and Heinrich Hertz.

I have even written at great length about Alessandro Volta….

Alessandro Volta.jpeg

Above: Alessandro Volta (1745 – 1827)

(See Canada Slim and the Life Electric of this blog.)

 

There are names equally important to the development of electricity that you may have never heard of: Shen Kuo, Alexander Neckham, Pierre de Maricourt, Gerolamo Cardano, Cabaeus, Sir Thomas Browne (who first coined the word “electricity“), Otto von Guericke, Robert Boyle, Francis Hauksbee, Stephan Gray and the Reverend Granville Wheler, Charles Francois de Cisternay du Fay, Pieter van Musschenbroek of Leyden, Ewald Georg von Kleist, William Watson, C.M. of Scotland (still unidentifiable to this day), Georges-Louis LeSage, William Nicholson, Anthony Carlisle,  Johann Ritter, Gian Domenico Romagnosi, Thomas Young, Étienne-Louis Malus, Hans Christian Orsted, Johann Schweigger, Thomas Seebeck, William Sturgeon, Francesco Zantedeschi, Paul Schilling, Heinrich Lenz, Jean-Charles Peltier, Joseph Henry, David Alter, Alexandre Becquerel, James Clark Maxwell, John Kerr, Oliver Heaviside, Galileo Ferraris, John Fleming, Heike Onnes, Louis de Broglie and Martin Ryte.

To name a few….

 

There is one man who we might never had heard of were it not for his greatest fan’s determination to demonstrate to the world his hero’s legacy.

A legacy remembered in Croatia, Serbia, Austria, Hungary and America.

A determined traveller can find plaques and memorials to this man in Smilijan (Croatia), Zagreb (Croatia), Niagara Falls (USA / Canada), Baku (Azerbaijan), Wardenclyffe (USA), Manhattan (USA), Palo Alto (USA), Hamilton (Canada) and Belgrade (Serbia).

This great inventor has had his name given to a ship, a song, a high school, a planetoid, a crater on the Moon, a power plant, a museum-archive, an airport, a unit of measurement, an electric vehicle rally, three holidays, a rock band, an electrotechnical conglomerate, an electric car manufacturer and a major scientific award.

His name has endured in books, films, radio, TV, music, live theater, comics and video games, and most recently a new Hollywood film (The Current War) and a Netflix documentary.

But much like Sherlock Holmes needed Dr. John Watson for his fame, so we are grateful to Hugo Gernsback (“The man who invented the future“) for the fame of a man he called “the greatest inventor of all time“: Nikola Tesla.

Photograph of Nikola Tesla, a slender, moustachioed man with a thin face and pointed chin.

Above: Nikola Tesla (1856 – 1943)

 

Were it not for Tesla’s eccentric personality and a poor sense of financial management, he might have ended up as famous as Edison or Einstein.

Tesla was the electrical engineer who invented the AC (alternating current) induction motor, which made the universal transmission and distribution of electricity possible.

 

This spring I spent six days, by invitation from my good friend Nesha, in Serbia, a country that everyone in the West thinks they know but hardly anyone in the West really knows.

(For a further description of Serbia, please see Canada Slim and the Holy Field of Sparrows & Canada Slim and the Land of Long Life of this blog.)

Flag of Serbia

Above: The flag of Serbia

 

Ask the average North American what little they know about Serbia and chances are strong they will mention NATO bombings, Milosevician atrocities and…. Nikola Tesla.

 

I have often believed that Americans are the world’s best marketers and there is a grain of truth to the song dedicated to the American metropolis of New York City, but applicable to America as a whole….

If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere.

East Side of Midtown Manhattan, showing the terraced crown of the Chrysler Building lit at twilight

In other words, until America knows you, very few others will.

 

Were it not for Tesla’s work in America and Gernsback’s American technical science monthly magazine for which Tesla wrote for and in which his autobiography appears, the world might not remember as it does the name of Tesla.

 

Were it not for my visit to the Tesla Museum in Belgrade I might never have learned of the legacy of Tesla and his greatest publicist….

Despite a lack of enduring international recognition, Tesla remains a Serbian national hero and it is his face that currently decorates the 100 dinar note.

The Museum has captions in English and guidebooks available in Serbian and English.

Regular tours in English are given by the enthusiastic and knowledgable staff.

Some of the rooms relate to Tesla’s scientific work and have a number of hands-on displays and dynamic working models that are fun for children and adults alike.

Two more rooms are dedicated to the personal life of the physicist.

The urn containing his ashes is housed here too as well as his death mask.

Museum of Nikola Tesla, Belgrade, Serbia-cropped.JPG

Above: Nikola Tesla Museum, Belgrade, Serbia

 

Belgrade, Serbia, 5 April 2018

To say that Hugo Gernsback was a fan of Nikola Tesla is an understatement.

In Gernsback’s own words:

Nikola Tesla, in the opinion of authorities, today is conceded to be the greatest inventor of all time. 

Tesla has more original inventions to his credit than any other man in history. 

He is considered greater than Archimedes, Faraday or Edison. 

His basic, as well as revolutionary, discoveries for sheer audacity have no equal in the annals of the world. 

His master mind is easily one of the seven wonders of the intellectual world.

Tesla has secured more than 100 patents on inventions, many of which have proved revolutionary.

Science accords to him over 75 original discoveries, not mere mechanical improvements.

90% of the entire electrical industry pays tribute to his genius.

The question as to why the world at large does not know Tesla is answered best by stating that he committed the unpardonable crime of not having a permanent press agent to shout his greatness from the housetops.

Then, too, most of Tesla’s inventions, at least to the public mind, are more or less intangible on account of the fact that they are very technical and, therefore, do not catch the popular imagination, as, for instance, wireless, the X-ray, the airplane or the telephone.

Tesla is a man of extraordinary knowledge.

He is remarkably well read and has a photographic memory whereby it is possible for him to recite page after page of nearly every classical work, be it Goethe, Voltaire or Shakespeare.

He speaks and writes twelve languages.

He is an accomplished calculator, who has little use for tables and textbooks and holds the slide rule in contempt.”

My Inventions - The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla.jpg

Nikola Tesla’s autobiography, My Inventions, appeared in Hugo Gernsback’s magazine Electrical Experimenter in six monthly installments (February to June 1919 and October 1919) and is in a hard cover book offered by the Nikola Tesla Museum, which has been in operation since the 150th anniversary of Tesla’s birth (2006).

To fully appreciate and comprehend both men and the Museum dedicated to Tesla and Tesla’s autobiography printed by Gernsback, we need to look back at not only both men’s histories but as well back to an age where electricity existed in a realm that lay somewhere between magic, science and commerce.

 

Nikola Tesla (1856 – 1943) was born an ethnic Serb in the village of Smiljan, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now Croatia.

Above: Tesla’s house, Smiljan, Croatia

 

His father Milutin was a Serbian Orthodox priest, his mother Duka was the daughter of another priest.

Above: Milutin Tesla, Nikola’s father

Milutin was the son of an officer who served in Napoleon’s army and, in common with Nikola’s uncle, a professor of mathematics, had received a military education but later embraced the clergy in which vocation he achieved eminence.

Milutin was a very erudite man, a veritable natural philosopher, poet and writer.

Nikola’s father had a prodigious memory and frequently recited at length from works in several languages.

Milutin often remarked playfully that if some of the classics were lost he could restore them.

His style of writing was much admired.

He penned sentences short and terse and was full of wit and satire.

 

Nikola’s mother, Duka, descended from one of the oldest families in the country and a line of inventors.

Both her father and grandfather originated numerous implements for household, agricultural and other uses.

Duka had a talent for making homemade craft tools and mechanical appliances and the ability to memorize lengthy Serbian epic poems, even though she had never received a formal education.

Tesla credited his eidetic memory and creative abilities to his mother’s genetics and influence.

Nikola was the 4th of five children.

 

Nikola Tesla was born during a lightning storm at the stroke of midnight on 10 July 1856.

His midwife is reported to have exclaimed:

He’ll be a child of the storm.

To which his mother replied:

No, of light.

How does the world’s greatest inventor invent?

How does he carry out an invention?

What sort of mentality does Nikole Tesla have?

Was his early life as commonplace as ours?

(Hugo Gernsback, foreword to Nikola Tesla’s My Inventions, 1: My Early Life, Electrical Experimenter, February 1919)

 

Our first endeavours are purely instinctive, promptings of an imagination vivid and undisciplined.

As we grow older, reason asserts itself and we become more and more systematic and designing.

But those early impulses, though not immediately productive, are of the greatest moment and may shape our very destinies.

(Nikola Tesla, My Inventions)

 

Nikola had three sisters (Milka, Angelina and Marica) and an older brother named Dane, who was killed in a horse riding accident when Tesla was five.

Nikola attended primary school in Smiljan and Gospic and middle school in the latter town.

View of Gospić

Above: Gospic, Croatia

 

In my boyhood I suffered from a peculiar affliction due to the appearance of images, often accompanied by strong flashes of light, which marred the sights of real objects and interfered with my thought and action.

They were pictures of things and scenes which I had really seen, never of those I imagined.

When a word was spoken to me the image of the object it designated would present itself vividly to my vision and sometimes I was quite unable to distinguish whether what I saw was tangible or not.

This caused me great discomfort and anxiety….

To free myself of these tormenting appearances, I tried to concentrate my mind on something else I had seen, and in this way I would often obtain temporary relief.

But in order to get it I had to conjure continuously new images….”

(Nikola Tesla, My Inventions)

 

In 1870, Tesla moved far north to Karlovac to attend high school where he became interested in demonstrations of electricity by his physics teacher.

Tesla noted that these demonstrations of this “mysterious phenomena” made him want “to know more of this wonderful force.”

Tesla was able to perform integral calculus in his head, which prompted his teachers to believe that he was cheating.

Nonetheless he finished a four-year term, in three years, graduating in 1873.

Karlovac Train Station with HŽ 7122.jpg

This (mental imaging) I did constantly until I was about 17 when my thoughts turned seriously to invention.

Then I observed to my great delight that I could visualize with the greatest facility.

I needed no models, drawings or experiments.

I could picture them all as real in my mind.

(Nikola Tesla, My Inventions)

 

That same year, Tesla returned to Smiljan.

Shortly after he arrived, he contracted cholera, was bedridden for nine months and was near death multiple times.

 

In 1874 Tesla evaded conscription into the Austro-Hungarian army by running away southeast to Tomingaj.

There he explored the mountains wearing hunter’s garb, believing that this contact with nature made him stronger, both physically and mentally.

Tesla read many books while in Tomingaj and later said that Mark Twain’s works had helped him to miraculously recover from his earlier illness.

Image result for tomingaj

Above: Tomingaj, Croatia

 

In 1875, Tesla enrolled at Austrian Polytechnic in Graz, on a military frontier scholarship.

The Schlossberg (Castle Hill) with the clock tower (Uhrturm), as seen from town hall

Above: Graz, Austria

 

During his first year, he never missed a lecture, earned the highest grades possible, passed nine exams (twice as many as were required), started a Serbian cultural club, and received a letter of recommendation from the dean of the technical faculty to his father, which stated:

Your son is a star of the first rank.

Tesla claimed that he worked from 3 a.m. to 11 p.m., no Sundays or holidays excepted.

 

(After Milutin’s death in 1879, Nikola found a package of letters from his professors to his father, warning that unless Nikola were removed from the school, he would die through overwork.)

 

At the end of his second year, Tesla lost his scholarship and became addicted to gambling.

During his third year, Tesla gambled away his allowance and his tuition money, later winning back his initial losses and returning the balance to his family.

When examination time came, Tesla was unprepared and asked for an extension to study, but was denied.

He did not receive grades for the last semester of the third year and he never graduated.

 

In December 1878, Tesla left Graz and severed all relations with his family to hide the fact that he dropped out of school.

His friends thought that he had drowned in the nearby Mur River.

 

Tesla moved to Maribor where he worked as a draftsman, spending his spare time playing cards with local men on the streets.

In March 1879, Tesla’s father went to Maribor to beg his son to return home, but he refused.

Nikola suffered a nervous breakdown.

Maribor's Old Town along the Drava River

Above: Maribor, Slovenia

 

On 24 March 1879, Tesla was returned to Gospic under police guard for not having a residence permit.

On 17 April 1879, Milutin Tesla died.

That year Nikola taught a large class of students in his old school in Gospic.

 

In January 1880, two of Tesla’s uncles put together enough money to help him leave Gospic for Prague, where he attended lectures in philosophy at Charles Ferdinand University as an auditor but did not receive grades for the courses.

Charles Bridge - Prague, Czech Republic - panoramio.jpg

Above: Prague, Czech Republic

 

In 1881 Tesla moved to Budapest to work as chief electrician for the Budapest Telephone Exchange.

Upon arrival, Tesla realized that the company, then under construction, was not functional, so he worked as a draftsman in the Central Telegraph Office.

Within a few months, the Budapest Telephone Exchange became functional and Tesla was allocated the chief electrician position.

During his time with the BTE, Tesla made many improvements to the Central Station Equipment and invented a device known as the telephone repeater, a precursor to the modern wireless telephone.

Széchenyi Chain Bridge in Budapest at night.jpg

Above: Budapest, Hungary

 

In 1882, Tesla moved to Paris to work for the Continental Edison Company, in what was then a brand new industry, installing indoor incandescent lighting citywide in the form of an electric power utility.

Seine and Eiffel Tower from Tour Saint Jacques 2013-08.JPG

Above: Paris, France

Logo of Consolidated Edison

Management took notice of Tesla’s advanced knowledge in engineering and physics and soon had him designing and building improved versions of generating dynamos and motors, as well as sending him on to troubleshoot engineering problems at other Edison utilities being built across France and Germany.

In 1884, Edison manager Charles Batchelor, who had been overseeing the Paris Installation, was brought back to the US to manage the Edison Machine Works, a manufacturing division situated in New York City, and asked that Tesla be brought to the US as well.

Above: Charles Batchelor (1845 – 1910)

 

In June 1884, Tesla left Paris for New York City and the United States.

An amazing future awaited him.

Fame, fortune and amazing creativity would be both his bane and his blessing.

And there would literally be blood as two business magnates fought a merciless war for power….electrical power….with Tesla in the middle and Gernsback and the world as witness….

(To be continued….)

Sources: Wikipedia / Bradt Serbia / Nikola Tesla, My Inventions

Multiple lightning strikes on a city at night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canada Slim and the Body Snatchers

Landschlacht, Switzerland, 4 September 2018

I should be dead.

In fact, for at least a quarter of a century.

Back in Canada, I tried to chop a log.

The axe bounced off the log and sliced into my foot.

A mile in the bush limp, a drive home, a quick dash to the local hospital and an ambulance ride from there to the metropolis of Montréal, followed by surgery, hospitalization and convalescence….

And I am alive to tell the tale.

This injury, sadly, was the first of many unfortunate accidents I have had, transforming my body from a wonderland into a battlefield.

In earlier days, blood loss or infection might have ended my life, but I live, as many others live, longer and healthier.

We live in an age where the human anatomy has been mapped, where an abundance of drugs are available, where antiseptic conditions are par for the course in all medical institutions, where medical professionals are highly trained and qualified, where the deliverance of babies is no longer such a danger for infant or mother.

A time of liver and lung, uterus and penis, skull and scalp, arm and hand, face and heart, eye and hip replacements, appendectomies and mastectomies….

A time of virtual and remote, robot-assisted and laser-aided, plastic and emergency surgery….

Days of disinfectant, inoculation, anesthesia, x-rays, MRIs and ultrasound….

 

I take my survival for granted, confident in the advances available to me in case of injury or illness.

 

Sometimes it is good to visit places that remind one of how and why mankind has been able to survive the rigours and ravages inflicted upon the body.

Such a place is in London at a venue of body snatchers and “the fastest knife in the West End“.

The tale begins last fall and travels back in time.

Welcome….

25 October 2017

We spend 80% of our adult lives working, but, on average, 80% of workers often confess that they dislike the work that they do.

My wife is among the happy minority of those who do what they love and love what they do.

My wife is a doctor.

When we travel together it is not uncommon to find us visiting, among many, tourist attractions that are medically themed.

During our week in London we would visit at least three attractions of this nature.

 

(For other London attractions not medically themed, please see: Canada Slim and….

  • the Danger Zone
  • the Paddington Arrival
  • the Street Walked Too Often
  • Underground
  • the Outcast
  • the Wonders on the Wall
  • the Calculated Cathedral
  • the Right Man
  • the Queen’s Horsemen
  • the Royal Peculiar
  • the Uncertainty Principle
  • the Museum of Many

For medically themed London attractions, please see Canada Slim and….

  • the Lamp Ladies
  • the Breviary of Bartholomew)

 

London has its fair share of quirkiness:

Near Wimbledon there is an authentic Buddhist temple that feels like it was discretely teleported directly from Thailand. (Buddhapadipa Temple)

One can climb a castle as if it were the rock face of Mount Everest or the Matterhorn. (Castle Climbing Centre)

Or visit a house lacking electricity and modern plumbing on a Monday night, Silent Night, candlelight tour. (Dennis Severs’ House)

Or tread softly in the necropolis that is Highgate Cemetery.

Come and watch people swing from the gallows. (London Dungeon)

Listen to Anne Boleyn plead her case just before her head is deftly separated from her soft narrow shoulders. (London Dungeon)

Walk by moonlight the Whitechapel backstreets as Jack the Ripper knew them. (London Dungeon)

London Dungeon Logo.jpg

 

We did none of these things, but this is not to suggest that our time was devoid of quirkiness….

 

Time is often not our friend when we travel, so we took the Tube to London Bridge Station instead of walking across the Thames River upon the London Bridge.

We would later sail underneath it but we denied ourselves the tactile experience of trodding upon it.

The River Thames is the longest river in England and the second longest in Britain (after the Severn) and is crossed by over 200 bridges, 27 tunnels, six public ferries, a cable car and a ford.

Thames map.png

Prior to the commencement of my relationship with my wife, I followed on foot the Thames from its source near Cirencester to Oxford.

I would, on visits to London, also spend time by its banks.

 

There has been a London Bridge spanning the Thames since AD 50 and it could be argued that without a London Bridge there might never have been a London.

London Bridge Illuminated.jpg

 

The first London Bridge was built by the Romans (“What have they ever done for us?“) as part of their road-building programme, to help consolidate their conquest.

This Bridge, and those London Bridge constructions that followed until 1209, was built of wood.

These timber crossings would fall into disrepair, be rebuilt and destroyed by both Saxons and Danes, be destroyed by the London tornado of 1091 and the fire of 1136.

The nursery rhyme “London Bridge is falling down” is connected to the Bridge’s historic collapses.

 

After the murder of friend/foe Thomas à Becket, the penitent King Henry II commissioned a new stone bridge with a chapel in the centre dedicated to Becket as martyr.

Begun in 1176, London Bridge was completed in 1209 during the reign of King John.

The Old London Bridge (1209 – 1831) was 26 feet / 8 metres wide, 900 feet / 270 metres long, supported by 19 irregularly spaced arches.

It had a drawbridge to allow for the passage of tall ships and defensive gatehouses on both ends.

By 1358 it was already crowded with 138 shops.

The buildings on London Bridge were a major fire hazard and the increased load on the arches required their reconstruction over the centuries.

In 1212, fire broke out on both sides of the Bridge simultaneously trapping many people in the middle.

Houses on the Bridge were destroyed during Wat Tyler’s Peasants’ Revolt (1381) and Jack Cade’s Rebellion (1450).

By the time of the Tudors there were over 200 buildings on the Bridge, some seven stories high, some overhanging the river by seven feet, others overhanging the road forming a dark tunnel through which traffic had to pass.

Yet this did not prevent the addition, in 1577, of the palatial Nonsuch House to the buildings that crowded the span.

The available roadway was just 12 feet / 4 metres wide , divided into two lanes, so that in each direction, carts, wagons, coaches and pedestrians shared a single file lane 6 feet / 2 metres wide.

 

The bridge’s southern gatehouse became the scene of one of London’s most gruesome sights – a display of the severed heads of traitors, impaled on pikes, dipped in tar and boiled to preserve them against the elements.

The head of William Wallace was the first to appear on the gate in 1305, starting a tradition that was to continue for another 355 years.

 

(Keep this morbid tradition in mind while remembering that before the Anatomy Act of 1832, the only legal supply of corpses for anatomical purposes in the UK were those condemned to death and dissection by the courts.)

 

Other famous heads on London Bridge pikes included Jack Cade (1450), Thomas More (1535), Bishop John Fisher (1535) and Thomas Cromwell (1540).

In 1598, a German visitor to London, Paul Hentzner, counted over 30 heads on the Bridge.

John Evelyn’s Diary noted that the practice stopped in 1660, following the Restoration of King Charles II, but heads were reported at the site as late as 1772.

By 1722 congestion was becoming so serious that the Lord Mayor decreed that “all carts, coaches and other carriages coming out of Southwark into this City do keep all along the west side of the Bridge, and all carts and coaches going out of the City do keep along the east side of the Bridge.”

This has been suggested as one possible origin for the practice of traffic in Britain driving on the left.

By 1762, all houses and shops on the Bridge had been demolished through an Act of Parliament.

Even so, the Bridge was narrow, decrepit and long past its useful life.

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The New London Bridge (1831 – 1967) was completed in 1831, and was 928 feet / 283 metres long and 49 feet / 15 metres wide.

By 1896 the Bridge was the busiest point in London and one of its most congested: 8,000 pedestrians and 900 vehicles crossed every hour.

This Bridge is a prominent landmark in T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland“, wherein he compares the shuffling commuters across London Bridge to the hellbound souls of Limbo, the first circle of Hell, in Dante’s Inferno.

Subsequent surveys showed that the Bridge was sinking an inch / 2.5 cm every eight years.

By 1924 the east side of the Bridge had sunk 4 inches / 9 cm lower than the west side.

The Bridge would have to be removed and replaced.

In 1967 the City of London placed the Bridge on the market.

 

On 18 April 1868, the Bridge was purchased by Missouri oil entrepreneur Robert McCullough for US $2,460,000.

As the Bridge was dismantled, each piece was meticulously numbered, then shipped via the Panama Canal to California and then trucked from Long Beach to Lake Havasu City in Arizona.

This Bridge was rebuilt across the Bridgewater Channel canal and opened on 10 October 1971.

Gary Nunn’s song “London Homesick Blues” includes the lyrics:

Even London Bridge has fallen down and moved to Arizona.

Now I know why.

The modern, current London Bridge was opened on 17 March 1973, with a length of 928 feet / 283 metres.

 

Emerging from the London Bridge Tube Station I recall John Davidson’s poem “London Bridge” and think to myself that clearly Heathrow Airport hadn’t been built when he wrote it:

Inside the Station, everything’s so old,

So inconvenient, of such manifold

Perplexity, and, as a mole might see

So strictly what a Station shouldn’t be,

That no idea minifies the crude

And yet elaborate ineptitude.

The main line station is the oldest railway station in London fare zone 1 and one of the oldest in the world having opened on 14 December 1836.

It is one of two main line termini in London to the south of the River Thames (the other being Waterloo) and is the fourth-busiest station in London, handling over 50 million customers a year.

London Bridge tube stn Tooley Street entrance.JPG

 

In Tudor and Stuart London, the chief reason for crossing the Thames, to what is now Southwark, was to visit the disreputable Bankside for its pubs, brothels and bear-baiting pits around the south end of London Bridge.

Four hundred years later, Londoners have rediscovered the habit of heading to Southwark, thanks to the traffic-free riverside path and a wealth of top attractions, with the charge led by the mighty Tate Modern.

Of these attractions, the most educational and strangest is the Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret, at 9a St. Thomas Street.

The Old Operating Theatre Museum, St. Thomas St. - geograph.org.uk - 1073353.jpg

The operating theatre and garret (1822 – 1862) were originally part of St. Thomas Hospital, itself part of the Augustinian Priory of St. Mary Overie, founded in 1106.

The Priory, which stood on the present site of Southwark Cathedral, provided care for the poor and gave board and lodgings to pilgrims.

The “spital” of St. Mary Overie was named St. Thomas in 1173 in tribute to Thomas à Becket, the Christian martyr murdered in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170.

When the Priory and the Hospital were destroyed by fire in 1212, the Bishop of Winchester, Pierre des Roches, paid for them to be rebuilt.

The new Hospital, independent of the Priory, was opened in 1215.

It continued to be staffed by monks and nuns, but surgical work was carried out by barbers since the Council of Tours (1163) had ordained that the shedding of blood was incompatible with holy office.

St. Thomas still provided hospitality for pilgrims.

 

Funds for the Hospital were largely provided by donations from individuals who believed giving to the poor would speed their spiritual journey to heaven.

One donation came from Alice de Bregerake who gifted her property in return for a yearly rent of one single rose.

 

(“There’s a lady who knows all that glitters is gold and she’s buying a stairway to heaven.“)

 

During the early 1500s, Southwark was a thriving community and St. Thomas was at its heart.

Within St. Thomas was the Southwark School of Glaziers, where the stained glass windows for King’s College Chapel in Cambridge were made.

In 1537, the first complete edition of the Holy Bible in English was completed here.

In January 1540 the Priory was dissolved by King Henry VIII, as part of his reforms of the church in England, and the Hospital closed.

In 1551 the Hospital was purchased and repaired by the City of London and two years later Henry’s son Edward VI awarded it a Royal Charter alongside four other London hospitals.

In 1681 fire led to the loss of 24 Hospital buildings.

By 1702 the main Hospital consisted of three grand classical courtyards.

 

In 1703, Dr. Richard Mead (1673 – 1754), one of London’s most famous physicians, was appointed to the Hospital staff.

At the time one of the most common ailments of St. Thomas in-patients, who were treated in the foul wards at the rear of the Hospital, was venereal disease.

Richard Mead 2.jpg

Above: Richard Mead

 

(Remember the aforementioned brothels?)

 

Mead’s recommended cure, aqua limacum (snail water), was included in the Pharmacopoeia Pauperum (a directory of medical treatments to be used in London hospitals) in 1718:

Take garden snails, cleansed and bruised, 6 gallons; earthworms, washed and bruised, 3 gallons; common wormwood, ground ivy and carduus, each one pound and half penny royal; juniper berries, fennel seeds, aniseeds, each half a pound; cloves and cubebs bruised, each 3 ounces; spirit of wine and spring water, of each 8 gallons.

Digest them together for the space of 24 hours and then draw it off in a common alembick.

This is admirably well contrived both for cheapness and efficacy.

It is as good a snail water as can be made….

Mostly given in consumption contracted for viscous practices and venereal contagions, this is the constant drink of those who are under the weakness and decays….

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Improvements to the facilities continued throughout the following 150 years.

 

St. Thomas’ Grand Committee Minutes of 21 October 1821 record that the women’s operating theatre be moved from the west end of one of the women’s wards and that “the herb garret over the church be fitted up and in future used as a theatre for such operations instead of the present theatre.

The new operating theatre opened in 1822.

 

John Flint South (1797 – 1882), the son of a Southwark druggist, began his medical training at St. Thomas in 1814.

He was appointed Conservator of the Hospital’s anatomy Museum in 1820 and was made Joint Lecturer in Anatomy in 1823.

In 1841 he was appointed surgeon at St. Thomas, a post he held until 1863.

He was also appointed surgeon to the Female Orphan Asylum in 1843.

South’s Career at St. Thomas spans the entire period of the Old Operating Theatre’s history and as such his memoir, John Flint South Memorials, published 20 years after his death, provides a remarkable insight into how the operating theatre functioned.

Above: John Flint South

 

The Murder Act of 1752 decreed that only executed murderers could be used for dissection, but this did not provide enough subjects for the medical and anatomical schools.

By the 19th century only about 56 people were being sentenced to capital punishment each year, but with the expansion of medical schools as many as 500 cadavers were needed annually.

Body snatching – the secret removal of corpses from burial sites to sell them to medical schools – became so prevalent that it was not unusual for relatives and friends of someone who had just died to watch over the body until burial and then keep watch after burial to stop it being violated.

Interfering with a grave was a misdemeanour, not a felony, and therefore only punishable with a fine and imprisonment rather than exile or execution.

The body snatching trade was a sufficiently lucrative business to run the risk of detection, particularly as the authorities ignored what they considered a necessary evil.

In Edinburgh, during 1827 and 1828, William Burke and William Hare brought a new dimension to the trade of selling corpses “to the doctors” by murdering rather than grave robbing and supplying their victims’ fresh corpses for medical dissection.

The murders raised public awareness of the need for bodies for medical research and contributed to the passing of the Anatomy Act of 1832, which allowed unclaimed bodies and those donated by relatives to be used for the study of anatomy and required the licensing of anatomy teachers, effectively ending the body snatching trade.

 

When pioneering health reformer, Florence Nightingale, returned to London from the Crimean War in 1856 she set up a fund “to establish and control an institute for the training, sustenance and protection of nurses paid and unpaid.

The specialist training of nurses was not universally supported and many doctors viewed it as a threat to their authority.

The work left for nurses, it was believed, required little more than “on-the-job” training.

There were prejudices too against “delicate“, educated women undertaking manual work or having contact with the coarse realities of the hospital wards.

However, Nightingale was an influential and convincing advocate for reform.

The Nightingale Fund raised almost 50,000 pounds.

She chose to establish her School of Nursing at St. Thomas.

The two main deciding factors were Nightingale’s admiration for Sarah Wardroper, St. Thomas Matron and Superintendent of Nurses, and the fact that the Hospital would soon move to a new site where the School could be built to the latest, Nightingale-inspired plan.

The School of Nursing opened at the St. Thomas Southwark site on 24 June 1860 with 15 students.

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Above: Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910)

 

In June 1862, the Hospital moved to make way for a railway line to Charing Cross.

 

With the move, the operating theatre, situated in the attic of St. Thomas Church, was sealed up and lay in darkness for nearly a century.

After the Hospital closed the only access to the roof space of the Church was through an opening, 20 metres above floor level, in the north wall of the first floor chamber of the bell tower.

 

In 1956, Raymond Russell (1922 – 1964), while researching the history of St. Thomas decided to investigate the attic.

He found the garret in darkness, the skylight above the operating theatre had been replaced by slates and the other windows were black with a century of dirt.

Russell’s find was extraordinary:

No other early 19th century operating theatre in Europe has survived.

Image showing operating table and viewing galleries in the operating theatre

It is likely that the use of the garret of St. Thomas as a Hospital apothecary dates back to the present Church’s construction in 1703.

Hooks, ropes and nail holes in the roof and dried opium poppy heads discovered under the floorboards in the 1970s are all evidence of the garret’s former use.

Herbs have been used as medicine since ancient times and before the development of the chemical industry, medicinal compounds were made from natural materials, mostly plants.

Even today, the majority of medicines originate from plant sources.

At St. Thomas, quantities of herbs were purchased from a visiting “herb woman” and the Hospital had its own botanical garden and apothecary’s shop within its grounds.

The apothecary was the chief resident medical officer of the Hospital and was responsible for prescriptions for surgical cases and, in the absence of the physician, for dispensing medicine to all the Hospital’s patients.

In 1822 part of the Herb Garret was converted into a purpose-built operating theatre.

The patients were mainly poor people who were expected to contribute to their care if they could afford it.

Rich patients were treated and operated on at home, probably on the kitchen table, rather than in hospital.

The patients at the Old Operating Theatre were all women.

 

A description of the students packing the theatre to witness an operation has been left by Dr. South:

The operating theatre was of utterly inadequate size for the numbers of pupils who congregated….

The general arrangement of all the theatres was the same: a semicircular floor and rows of semicircular standings, rising above one another to the large skylight which lit the theatre.

On the floor the surgeon operating, with his dressers, other surgeons and apprentices and the visitors stood about the table, upon which the patient lay, so placed that the best possible view of what was going on was given to all present.

The floor was separated by a partition from the rising stand-places, the first two rows were occupied by the other dressers.

Behind a second partition stood the pupils, packed like herrings in a Barrel, but not so quiet, as those behind them were continually pressing on those before and were continually struggling to relieve themselves of it, and had not infrequently to be got out exhausted.

There was also a continual calling out of “Heads, Heads” to those about the table whose heads interfered with the sightseers.

The confusion and crushing was indeed at all times very great, especially when any operation of importance was to be performed.

I have often known even the floor so crowded that the surgeon could not operate till it had been partially cleared.”

 

Patients put up with the audience in their distress because they received medical treatment from some of the best surgeons in the land, which they otherwise they could not afford.

The majority of cases were for amputations or superficial complaints as, without antiseptic conditions, it was too dangerous to do internal operations.

The risk of death at the hands of a surgeon was likely, as there was a lack of understanding of the causes of infection.

Beneath the table was a sawdust box for collecting blood.

The death rate was further heightened by the shock of the operation and because operations took place as a last resort, patients tended to have few reserves of strength.

Until 1847, surgeons had no recourse to anaesthetics and depended on swift technique, the mental preparation of the patient, and alcohol or opiates to dull the patient’s senses.

 

(Dr. Robert Liston (1794 – 1847) was described as “the fastest knife in the West End. 

He could amputate a leg in 2 1/2 minutes.

Indeed he is reputed to have been able to complete operations in a matter of seconds, at a time when speed was essential to reduce pain and improve the odds of survival of a patient.)

Portrait of Robert Liston painted in 1847 by Samuel John Stump

Above: Robert Liston

 

After 1847, ether or choloroform was used.

 

The small room at the side of the Theatre was used to spare the patient the sudden alarm of being brought straight into the Theatre full of students, with the operating table and instruments on view.

Soon after….another female was brought in blindfolded and placed on to the table for the purpose of undergoing an operation for the removal of the leg below the knee.

(The Lancet, October 1829)

 

These were the days before antisepsis (eliminating possible infection in the wound after the operation) or asepsis (avoiding any contamination from the start).

Unsterilized clothes were blood and pus stained while undisinfected hands used undisinfected instruments and sponges from previous operations.

In those days, “surgeons operated in blood-stiffened frock coats – the stiffer the coat, the prouder the busy surgeon“. (Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes)

Holmes c. 1879

Above: American Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. (1809 – 1894)

 

There was no object in being clean.

Indeed cleanliness was out of place.

It was considered to be finicky and affected.

An executioner might as well manicure his nails before chopping off a head.” (Sir Frederick Treves)

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Above: Frederick Treves (1853 – 1923)

 

No one wore a face mask or rubber gloves.

There were no blood transfusions nor vaccines.

Neurosurgery, cataract surgery, cardiac surgery, transplant surgery, Caesarian sections and hip replacements were either unknown or too dangerous to attempt.

 

Charles Bell (1774 – 1842), in his Illustrations of the Great Operations of Surgery (1821), describes the five most complex operations undertaken during the time of the Old Operating Theatre.

Below is a description of what the visitor would expect to see:

To one side a table with instruments, covered with a cloth to preserve the edges of the cutting instruments.

On it we expect to see:

  1. A large cushion with tenacula (sharp hooks), needles, pins and forceps.
  2. Ligatures (binding materials) of every variety, well arranged.
  3. Adhesive straps, well made and not requiring heating, but if they should, let chafing dishes be at hand.
  4. Lint, compresses, flannel and calico bandages, double and single headed rollers, tow, cereate spread on lint.  Let there be no want of sponges, so that when the surgeon calls for a sponge, you have not to seek it among the patient’s clothes.  When a sponge falls among the sand, let it be not necessary to touch the wound with it.
  5. Wine and water and hartshorn (ammonia solution used as smelling salts).
  6. A kettle of hot water, a stoup (flagon) of cold water, basins, bucket, plenty of towels, apron and sleeves.”

Photograph of Sir Charles Bell

Above: Scottish Dr. Charles Bell (1774 – 1842)

 

On the wall are two inscriptions:

 

Miseratione non Mercede (Latin for “For compassion, not for gain“)

 

The other sets out the Regulations for the Theatre as approved by the Hospital’s surgeons:

Apprentices and the dressers of the surgeon who operates are to stand around the table.

The dressers of the other surgeons are to occupy the three front rows.

The surgeon’s pupils are to take their places in the rows above.

Visitors are admitted by permission of the surgeon who operates.

 

The blackboard is a reminder of the Theatre’s use for lectures as a report in The Lancet of November 1923 records:

25 November 1923:  At half past one this day, the following clinical remarks were delivered by Mr. Travers, in the female operating theatre, in reference more particularly to the case of compound fracture….

 

The operating table is made of Scots pine, has four stout legs, and at 60 cm high is low by modern standards.

It has an inclined headboard and a long wooden slide extension at the foot end.

The table stands with the foot end towards the audience.

Beneath the table is the aforementioned wooden box of sawdust.

Distinguished visitors (generally foreign professors) were given seats on chairs, stools or a bench at the foot of the table.

The two small side tables held instruments and equipment.

The cupboard contained the instruments, dressing materials and lotions.

There is a wash stand, also of Scots pine, holding a small basin and ewer of blue and white china.

Above this is a tiny looking glass and a row of pegs from which hang the purple frock coats with grocer’s bib and apron.

A low sturdy wooden chair is used by the surgeon chiefly for cases of piles (hemorrhoids) and leg amputations.

 

The Museum also contains a collection of artefacts revealing the horrors of medicine before the age of science, including instruments for cupping (skin sunction), bloodletting, trepanning (drilling a circular hole in the skull) and childbirth.

There are also displays on monastic health care, the history of St. Thomas’s, Florence Nightingale and nursing, medical and herbal medicine.

 

Once upon a time body snatchers stole corpses so doctors could practice their skills and students learn anatomy.

Once upon a time doctors created more corpses and snatched lives from bodies than surviving patients.

Now doctors snatch many bodies from the jaws of death and generally make them whole.

 

Without Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, ancient Greek and Islamic medicine….

Without the trials and errors of dissection and pathological examinations….

Without the development of cell and neuron and molecular theory….

We would not have evolved to the discoveries and understanding of the body that we as a civilization now possess.

Without an understanding of blood circulation, the evolution of dealing with mental illness, the discovery of germs and the dangers of insects, the founding of the talking cures of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, the study of hormones and immunology, the genetic revelation of genes and genomes, could we have a fighting chance in understanding health and disease in the manner that we do.

Without the stethoscope, the microscope, the hypodermic syringe, the thermometer, x-rays and radiotherapy, the sphygmomanometer (blood pressure measurement), the defibrillator, lasers, the endoscope, ultrasound and CT (computerized tomographic) scanning, MRI (magnetic resonance Imaging) and PET (positron emission tomography), the incubator and medical robots, we would lack the tools that doctors need to heal us and prolong our lives.

Mankind has survived the plague, typhus, cholera, puerperal fever, tuberculosis, influenza, smallpox, polio, cancer and AIDS, and thanks to great discoveries in medicine, though the battle against these scourges remains inconclusive, we still have a greater opportunity to overcome than prior generations had.

Opium provides pleasure and pain relief, quinine treats malaria, digitalis is a tonic for the heart, penicillin cures syphilis and gangrene, the birth control pill offers a woman freedom, drugs for the mind ease mental suffering, ventolin helps us breathe easier, Insulin aids the diabetic, dialysis cleans the kidney, statins lower our cholesterol and vitamins compensate for whatever our diets may lack.

Wounds are properly dressed, anaesthesia makes surgery painless, operations are clean, blood is transfused, exploration of the brain is possible, eyesight can be restored, mothers are less likely to die giving birth, hearts can be healed, organs transplanted, hips replaced and scars reduced by less invasive keyhole methods.

 

Truly, compared to the past, we live in an age of miracles.

 

Sometimes we take modern medicine for granted.

Stand in the middle of the Old Operating Theatre and be reminded how lucky we are to live in this day and age and how far we have travelled to get here.

Above: The Rod of Asclepius, the Greek god of healing and Medicine

Sources: Wikipedia / William and Helen Bynum, Great Discoveries in Medicine / The Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret Museum Guide / The Rough Guide to London / Rachel Howard and Bill Nash, Secret London: An Unusual Guide / http://www.thegarret.org.uk

 

 

 

 

Canada Slim and the Lamp Ladies

Landschlacht, Switzerland, 30 December 2017

In this season of goodwill and gratitude for all the blessings we enjoy, those who are healthy should especially be thankful, for we live in an age when life expectancy is higher because mankind has developed medicines and methods to extend life and restore health.

Granted there is still much significant progress needed, for far too many people still fall victim to the scourges of cancer and strokes.

There is still much we do not understand about diseases like Parkinson´s, AIDS and far too many others to comprehensively list here.

Even the common cold with its endless variety of mutations remains unsolvable and must simply be accepted as one of the countless burdens we must endure in life.

What is significant about today when compared with yesteryear is that common injuries are less likely to be fatal.

As well through the contributions of thoughtful compassionate innovators, our attitudes towards the care of the injured and ailing have improved.

Here in Switzerland and back in my homeland of Canada I have been hospitalized due to injuries caused by accidents: a fall from a tree (shattered shoulder), an axe slip (shattered foot), and a fall on a staircase (shattered wrist).

And though I also have medical conditions of anemia and celiac, neither these conditions nor the accidents I have had led to risks of fatality.

For prompt and compassionate medical attention provided to me ensured that I still live a functional, mostly painless, and happy healthy existence.

For the Christian West, Christmas is the season to show thanksgiving to God for sending His Son Jesus Christ to save our immortal souls, we also should not forget the human instruments of change that have assisted mankind to save our mortal flesh.

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I married a doctor, and, even though she is a children´s physician, knowing her has given me an appreciation of just how difficult a profession medicine really is at all levels of medical treatment.

From the surgeon whose precision must be matched with efficiency, to the specialist doctor whose diagnosis must be accurately matched with the most likely cause of the patient´s symptoms, to the technicians who operate machinery that can reveal the interior of a patient´s body, to the family doctor who must know when to send a patient to a specialist and when to trust his/her own treatment, to the pharmacist that must know what medicines do and how to administer them, to the administrator who must balance the needs of patients with the cost of maintaining those needs, to the cleaning staff who ensure that the health care environment is as sterile as humanly possible, to the therapist who teaches the patient how to heal him/herself, to the nurse who monitors and comforts the bedbound sick person unable to fend for him/herself…..

The world of health care is a complex and complicated system demanding dedicated people and a neverending desire to improve itself.

A visit to a London museum two months ago has made me consider how grateful I am that an Englishwoman had the courage to be compassionate, Christian, and transformed the world for the better.

London, England, 24 October 2017

As mentioned in great detail in my blogpost Canada Slim and the Royal Peculiar my wife and I visited Westminster Abbey, that necrophiliac fetish house for the Establishment.

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And folks whether or not they were avowed antiestablishment found themselves commemorated here.

The poet Shelley, despite wishing to be known as an anarchist artist and was buried in Rome, is memorialised here in Poets´ Corner, across from Viscount Castlereagh, a man Shelley loathed.

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Above: Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792 – 1822)

“I met Murder on the way.

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Above: Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh (1769 – 1822)

He had a face like Castlereagh.”

Before leaving the Abbey, we briefly visited the Undercroft Museum with its death-worshipping collection of royal funeral effigies.

Until the Middle Ages, British monarchs were traditionally embalmed and left to lie in state for a set period of time.

Eventually, the corpse was substituted for a wooden figure of the deceased, fully dressed with clothes from the Great Wardrobe and displayed on top of the funeral carriage for the final journey.

As the clothes were expected to fit the effegy perfectly, the likenesses found in the Undercroft are probably fairly accurate.

Edward III´s face has a strange leer, a recreation of the stroke he suffered in his final years.

Above: Westminster Abbey effigy of Edward III (1312 – 1377)

His eyebrows came from a plucked dog.

Several soldiers are known as the Ragged Regiment due to their decrepit decay.

Frances, the Duchess of Richmond and Lennox, holds what may be the world´s oldest stuffed bird, an African Grey parrot that died in 1702.

Above: Frances Teresa Stewart (1647 – 1702)

Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary that Frances was the greatest beauty he had ever seen.

Sadly she was disfigured by smallpox in 1668.

Sadly her final fate no different than that of her parrot.

Leaving the Abbey we see the Methodist Central Hall, an inadequate and unnecessary replacement to the building that once stood here.

Bildergebnis für methodist central hall westminster

On this site once stood the Royal Aquarium and Winter Garden, opened in 1876, a grand Victorian entertainment venue.

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It housed palm trees, restaurants, an art gallery, an orchestra, a skating rink, the Imperial Theatre, smoking and reading rooms.

A variety of sea creatures were displayed here, but the Aquarium was often plagued by frequent plumbing problems, so the place became better known for the exciting performances staged here than for the fish.

Come one, come all.

See William Leonard Hunt, aka the Great Farini, the world renowned Canadian showman and tightrope walker!

Above: William Hunt, aka the Great Farini (1838 – 1929)

Gasp in awe at 14-year-old Rossa Matilda Richter, aka Zazel, the first ever human cannonball, as she (barely 5 feet tall and 64 lbs heavy) is launched through the air flying 30 feet or more!

Above: Rossa Richter, aka Zazel (1863 – 1929)

Protests were launched over the danger Zazel faced and for a while the venue was in danger of losing its license but crowds kept coming to see the performances.

By the 1890s the Aquarium´s reputation became disreputable and it became known as a place where ladies of poor character went in search of male companions.

The Great Farini and Zazel were one thing, but an Aquarium of ill repute was too much for Victorian propriety to accept.

The Aquarium closed in 1899 and was demolished four years later.

In 1905 construction began on the Hall for Methodists, Christianity´s least entertaining sect.

We headed towards the Thames and followed Millbank Road to a place which suffered the opposite fate of the Aquarium.

While the Aquarium lost its aura of entertainment and was replaced by a stodgy religious institute, opposite the Tate Britain Museum is an almost invisible plaque upon an unremarkable bollard that tells the reader that where the entertaining Tate stands once stood Millbank Prison.

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Above: Tate Britain

Millbank was built to serve as the National Petientiary and was used as a holding facility for convicts due for transportation to Australia.

“Near this site stood Millbank Prison which was opened in 1816 and closed in 1890.

This buttress stood at the head of the river steps from which, until 1867, prisoners sentenced to transportation embarked on their journey to Australia.”

Novelist Henry James called Millbank “a worse act of violence than any it was erected to punish”.

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Above: Henry James (1843 – 1916)

The phrase “down under” is said to be derived from a nearby tunnel through which the convicts were walked in chains down to the river.

A section of the tunnel survives in the cellars of the nearby Morpeth Arms, a pub built to seve the prison warden and said to be haunted by the ghost of a former inmate.

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Depending on their crime, prisoners could be given the choice of receiving a five-to-ten-year jail sentence instead of exile.

Among the many to be sent to Australia – and perhaps the unluckiest of them all – was Isaac Solomon, a convicted pickpocket and the inspiration for the character Fagin in Charles Dickens´ Oliver Twist.

Above: Isaac “Ikey” Solomon (1727 – 1850)

In 1827 Solomon managed to escape while being taken to Newgate Prison.

He fled England to New York, but then travelled on to Tasmania when he discovered his wife had been transported there for crimes of her own.

Upon arrival in Tasmania, Solomon was rearrested, shipped home to London, retried, reconvicted and sentenced to exiled imprisonment for 14 years….back to Tasmania.

We made our weaving way to Pimlico Tube Station, a unique station in that it doesn´t  have an interchange with another Underground or National Rail Line.

We rode the rails until Waterloo, the last station to provide steam-powered services and the busiest railway station in London / the 91st busiest in the world / the busiest transport hub in Europe.

I had once taken the Eurostar from Waterloo Station to Paris as one of the 81,891,738 travellers during the 13 years (1994 – 2007) Eurostar operated from here, before it began service from St. Pancras.

The clock at Waterloo has been cited as one of the most romantic spots for a couple to meet, and has appeared in TV (Only Fools and Horses) and in the film Man Up.

Waterloo Station has appeared in literature (Three Men in a Boat, The Wrong Box, The War of the Worlds), films (Terminus, Rush Hour, Sliding Doors), theatre (The Railway Children), music (the Kinks song “Waterloo Sunset”) and paintings.

Our destination – typical of travelling with a doctor – a hospital, St. Thomas Hospital, noteworthy for a male serial killer and a lady humanitarian.

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Dr. Thomas Neill Cream, also known as the Lambeth Poisoner, was a Scottish Canadian serial killer who claimed victims from the United States, England, Canada and Scotland.

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Above: Dr. Thomas Neill Cream (1850 – 1892)

Born in Glasgow, Cream was raised outside Quebec City.

He attended Montreal´s McGill University and then did his post-graduate training at St. Thomas.

In 1878 Cream obtained qualifications in Edinburgh.

He then returned to Canada to practice in London, Ontario.

In August 1879, Kate Gardener, a woman with whom he was having an affair, was found dead in an alleyway behind Cream´s office, pregnant and poisoned.

Cream claimed that she had been made pregnant by a prominent local businessman, but after being accused of both murder and blackmail, Cream fled to the United States.

Cream established a medical practice not far from the red light district of Chicago, offering illegal abortions to prostitutes.

In December 1880 another patient died after treatment by Cream, followed by another in April 1881.

On 14 July 1881, Danial Stott died of poisoning, after Cream supplied him a remedy for epilepsy.

Cream was arrested, along with Stott´s wife.

Cream was sentenced to life imprisonment in Joliet prison.

Cream was released in 1891, after Governor Joseph Fifer commuted his sentence.

Using money inherited from his father, Cream sailed for England.

He returned to London and took lodgings at 103 Lambeth Palace Road.

At that time, Lambeth was ridden with poverty, petty crime and prostitution.

On 13 October 1891, Nellie Donworth, a 19-year-old prostitute accepted a drink from Cream.

She died three days later.

On 20 October, Cream met 27-year-old prostitute Matilda Clover.

She died the next morning.

On 2 April 1892, after a vacation in Canada, Cream was back in London where he attempted to poison Louise Harvey.

Above: Louise Harvey

On 11 April, Cream met two prostitutes, Alice Marsh, 21, and Emma Shrivell. 18, and talked his way into their flat.

Cream put styrchine in their bottles of Guinness.

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Both women died in agony.

On 3 June 1892, Cream was arrested and was later sentenced to death.

On 15 November, Cream was hanged on the gallows at Newgate Prison and his body buried in an unmarked grave within the prison walls.

Cream´s name does not appear in later McGill graduate directories.

No mention of those who mourned Cream´s victims is made either.

Ladies of the night lost in the shadows of Lambeth lamplight, fallen and forgotten.

Another medical professional is equally remembered at a site as inconspicuous as a prison burial ground: a parking lot.

On the south side of Westminster Bridge, a series of red brick Victorian blocks and modern white additions make up St. Thomas´s Hospital, founded in the 12th century.

At the Hospital´s northeastern corner, off Lambeth Palace Road, is a car park.

A hospital car park isn´t the most obvious location for a museum, but that where one finds the homage to Florence Nightingale, the genteel rebel who invented the nursing profession.

Born on 12 May 1820 at the Villa Colombaia, three decades before Cream, Florence Nightingale was named after the city of her birth, Florence, Italy.

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Above: Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910)

“There is nothing like the tyranny of a good English family.”

Florence was born into a rich, well-connected family though quite liberal in their attitudes.

Their circle of friends and acquaintances included the author Elizabeth Gaskell, the scientist Charles Darwin and the reform politician the Earl of Shaftesbury.

(For the story of the Earl of Shaftesbury, please see Canada Slim and the Outcast of this blog.)

Her maternal grandfather William Smith campaigned to abolish slavery and Florence´s father William Nightingale educated both her and her sister Frances Parthenope (after her birthplace of Parthenope, Naples) in French, Latin, German, mathematics, philosophy and science, then considered strictly male pursuits,

The Nightingales loved to travel – her parents´ honeymoon lasted so long that they produced two daughters before they returned home.

Growing up Florence visited many European cities.

She travelled to France, Switzerland, Germany and Italy.

She enjoyed visiting museums, dancing at balls, and going to concerts, confessing at one point that she was “music mad”.

In 1838, her father took the family on a tour of Europe where they were introduced to the English-born Parisian heiress Mary Clarke, with whom Florence bonded.

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Above: Mary Clarke (1793 – 1883)

Clarke was a stimulating hostess who did not care for her appearance, and while her ideas did not always agree with those of her guests, “she was incapable of boring anyone”.

Clarke´s behaviour was said to be exasperating and eccentric and she had no respect for upper class British women, whom she regarded generally as inconsequential.

She said that if given the choice between being a woman or a galley slave, she would choose the galleys.

Clarke generally rejected female company and spent her time with male intellectuals.

However Clarke made an exception in the case of Florence.

They were to remain close friends for 40 years despite their 27-year age difference.

Clarke demonstrated that women could be equals to men, an idea that Florence did not obtain from her mother Fanny Smith.

Florence underwent the first of several experiences that she believed were calls from God in February 1837 while at her family home of Embley Park, prompting a strong desire to devote her life to the service of others.

Above: Embley Park

Devout and scholarly, Florence was not expected to do anything much apart from marry and procreate.

As a young woman, Florence was attractive, slender and graceful.

She had rich brown hair, a delicate complexion and a prominent, almost Roman, nose.

She was slim until middle age and tall for a Victorian woman, about 5´8″ or 172 cm in height.

While her demeanour was often severe, she was very charming and possessed a radiant smile.

Florence received several marriage proposals.

She was certainly not supposed to work, but Florence´s ambition was to become a nurse.

Her parents were aghast.

In the Victorian Age, nurses were known for being devious, dishonest and drunken.

Hospitals were filthy, dangerous places exclusively for the poor.

The rich were treated in the privacy of their own homes.

In her youth Florence was respectful of her family´s opposition to her working as a nurse, but nonetheless she announced her decision to enter the field in 1844.

Despite the intense anger and distress of her mother and sister, Florence rebelled against the expected role for a woman of her status to become a wife and mother.

“I craved for something worth doing instead of frittering time away on useless trifles.”

Florence came closest to accepting the marriage proposal of politician and poet Richard Monckton Milnes, but after a nine-year courtship she rejected him in 1849, convinced that marriage would interfere with her ability to follow her calling to nursing.

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Above: Richard Monckton Milnes (1809 – 1885)

Whether Milnes´ devotion to the writing of Marquis de Sade and his extensive collection of erotica had something to do with Florence´s decision remains unstated.

She knew that marriage would mean swapping one cage for another and felt that God meant her to remain single.

“Marriage had never tempted me. 

I hated the idea of being tied forever to a life of Society, and such a marriage could I have.” 

In the essay Cassandra, Florence wrote about the limited choices facing women like her and raged against the way women were unable to put their energy and intelligence to better use.

Florence´s parents allowed her to visit Rome in 1847 with family friends, Charles and Selina Bracebridge, hopefully to take her mind off nursing.

In Rome, Florence met the young politician, former Secretary of War, Sidney Herbert on his honeymoon with his wife Elizabeth.

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Above: Sidney Herbert (1810 – 1861)

Together Florence and Elizabeth visited convents and hospitals run by Catholic nuns.

Sidney and Florence became lifelong close friends and the Herberts would later be insturmental in facilitating Florence´s future nursing work.

Florence continued her travels with the Bracebridges as far as Greece and Egypt.

Her writings on Egypt in particular are testimony to her learning, literaray skill and philosophy of life.

Sailing up the Nile as far as Abu Simbel in January 1850, Florence wrote of the temples there:

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Above: The temples of Abu Simbel: the Great Temple of Ramses II (left), the Temple of Nefertari (right)

“Sublime in the highest style of intellectual beauty, intellect without effort, without suffering …. not a feature is correct – but the whole effect is more expressive of spiritual grandeur than anything I could have imagined.

It makes the impression upon one that thousands of voices do, uniting in one unanimous simultaneous feeling of enthusiasm or emotion, which is said to overcome the strongest man.”

At Thebes, Florence wrote of being “called to God”.

A week later near Cairo she wrote in her diary:

“God called me in the morning and asked me would I do good for Him alone without reputation.”

During a visit to the Parthenon in Athens, Florence rescued an owl, which she called Athena.

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Above: The Parthenon

Athena always perched on Florence´s shoulder or in her pocket, with a specially designed pouch to to catch her droppings.

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Above: Athena (1850 – 1855)

Athena was a demanding creature who had to be bathed with sand daily.

When the badtempered owl died, Florence wrote:

“Poor little beastie, it was odd how much I loved you.”

Her sister Frances wrote a short story, The Life and Death of Athena, ensuring the little owl´s posthumous fame.

Rather than forget nursing as her parents hoped, Florence´s determination grew even stronger.

Later in 1850, Florence visited the Lutheran religious community at Kaiserswerth-am-Rhein, near Dusseldorf, in Germany, where she observed Pastor Theodor Fliedner and the deaconesses working for the poor and the sick in a hospital, orphanage and college.

Above: Kaiserswerth Clinic

She regarded the Kaiserswerth experience as a turning point in her life, where she received months of medical training which would form the basis for her later care.

Florence learned about medicines, how to dress wounds, observed amputations and cared for the sick and dying.

She had never felt happier.

“Now I know what it is to love life.”

On 22 August 1853, Florence took the post of Superintendant at the Institute for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen in Upper Harley Street in London, a position she held until October 1854.

When an epidemic of cholera broke out in London, Florence rushed to nurse victims in the nearby Middlesex Hospital.

Florence read about the disaster facing the British army in the autumn of 1854.

Hundreds of soldiers were sent to fight with the French and the Ottoman Turks against the Tsar´s Russian army in the Crimea were dying of disease.

The Crimean War was the first time the public could read in the newspapers about how the troops were suffering.

Above: Map of the Crimean War (Russian version)

When the news broke of the disaster in the Army, polticians were criticised.

More soldiers were dying from disease, and from cold during the winter, than from enemy action.

“In most cases the flesh and clothes were frozen together.

As for feet, the boots had to be cut off bit by bit, the flesh coming off with them.”

The wounded arrived by the boatloads at the British Army´s base hospitals at Scutari in Constantinople (today´s Istanbul).

Reporting from the front lines in the Crimea, William Howard Russell, Times journalist, blamed disorganization and a lack of supplies.

Fellow Times journalist in Constantinople, Thomas Chenery, reported that the French allowed women to nurse, unlike the British.

After the initial battles in the Crimea, the conflict centred on the besieged port of Sebastopol, where Russian and Ukranian women nursed heroically.

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Above: The Siege of Sebastopol (September 1854 – September 1855), by Franz Roubaud (1902)

Conditions in the vast hospitals were horrific.

“Must men die in agony unheeded?”, demanded the Times.

The scandal provoked a public outcry.

Sidney Herbert, once again Secretary of War, wrote to Florence asking her to lead a group of women nurses – a new and risky idea.

Florence and her team of 38 brave women volunteer nurses that she trained and 15 Catholic nuns set sail for Scutari.

Florence arrived early November 1854 at Selimiye Barracks in Scutari and found that poor care for wounded soldiers was being delivered by overworked medical staff in the face of official indifference.

Medicines were in short supply, hygiene was being neglected and mass infections were common, many of them fatal.

There was no equipment to process food for the patients.

There was a lack of food, a lack of blankets, a lack of beds.

Casualities arrived, after a long journey, dirty and starving.

“It is of appalling horror!

These poor fellows suffer with unshrinking heroism, and die or are cut up without complaint.

We are steeped up to our necks in blood.”

At Scutari the nurses had to contend with rats, lice, cockroaches and an absence of sanitation and had to cope with long hours and hard physical work.

After Florence sent a plea to the Times for a government solution to the poor condition of the facilities, the British Government commissioned engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel to design a prefabricated hospital that could be built in England and shipped to the Dardanelles.

A 19th century man wearing a jacket, trousers and waistcoat, with his hands in his pockets and a cigar in mouth, wearing a tall stovepipe top hat, standing in front of giant iron chains on a drum.

Above: Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806 – 1859)

The result was Renkioi Hospital, a civilian facility that had a death rate less than one tenth that of Scutari.

Florence reduced the death rate from 42% to 2% by making improvements in hygiene.

She implemented handwashing and other hygiene practices in the war hospital.

She organized the nurses and soldiers´ wives to clean shirts and sheets and the men to empty the toilets.

She bombarded Herbert with letters asking for supplies and used her own money and funds sent by the public via the Times, to buy scrubbing brushes and buckets, blankets, bedpans and operating tables.

“This morning I foraged in the purveyor´s store – a cruise I make almost daily, as the only way of getting things.  I am really cook, housekeeper, scavenger, washerwoman, general dealer and storekeeper.”

Every night she walked miles of hospital corridors where thousands of casualities lay, holding a Turkish lantern (fanoos) on her nightly rounds of the wards.

Florence would always dismiss the idea that she alone improved the Hospital.

It was a team effort.

In Britain, penny papers popularised the image of “the Lady with the Lamp” patrolling the wards.

Her work went beyond nursing care.

Florence treated the soldiers equally, whatever their rank, and also thought of their families´ welfare.

She wrote letters of condolence to relatives, sent money to widows, and answered inquiries about the missing or ill.

When the initial crisis was over, Florence also organized reading rooms.

As an alternative to alcohol, the Inkerman Café was opened, serving non-alcoholic drinks.

She set up a banking system so ordinary soldiers could send their pay home, rather than drink or gamble it away.

Stories of Florence´s devotion to the men flooded home to Britain.

One soldier wrote home of the love and gratitude for Florence felt by “hundreds of great rough soldiers”.

The men worshipped her.

During her first winter at Scutari, 4,077 soldiers died.

Ten times more soldiers died from diseases such as typhoid, typhus, cholera and dysentary than from battle wounds.

Scutari had been built on top of a huge cesspool.

With overcrowding eased, defective sewers flushed out and ventilation improved, death rates were sharply reduced.

Florence still believed that the death rates were due to poor nutrition, lack of supplies, stale air and overworking of the soldiers.

She came to believe that most of the soldiers at the hospital were killed by poor living conditions.

Florence believed that she needed to maintain military style discipline over her nurses.

“If a patient is cold, if a patient is feverish, if a patient is faint, if he is sick after taking food, if he has a bed-sore, it is generally the fault not of the disease but of the nursing.”

She wanted her nurses to be treated with respect by the men and doctors.

This meant no flirting with doctors or soldiers, no disobedience or drunkenness.

The first image showing Florence as “the Lady with the Lamp” appeared in the Illustrated London News early in 1855.

As the war dragged on, Florence´s work made her internationally famous.

“She is a ministering angel without any exaggeration in these hospitals, and as her slender form glides quietly along each corridor, every poor fellow´s face softens with gratitude at the sight of her.

When all the medical officers have retired for the night and silence and darkness have settled down upon those miles of prostrate sick, she may be observed alone, with a little lamp in her hand, making her solitary rounds.”

Florence hated what she called the “buzz fuzz” of celebrity, but she knew how to use public opinion.

Fame gave her power and influence to make changes, but she knew it obscured the achievements of others and the human cost of the war.

Florence´s image appeared as pottery figurines, souvenirs and even on paper bags.

Songs and poems were written about her.

When the US poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published “Santa Philomena” in 1857, it fixed Florence´s image forever as the Lady with the Lamp.

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Above: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882)

“Lo! in that house of misery

A lady with a lamp I see

Pass through the glimmering gloom

And flit from room to room.”

After contracting “Crimean fever” from infected goat´s milk, Florence suffered ill health.

After the Crimean War, Florence returned to Britain in August 1856, travelling under the name “Miss Smith” to avoid publicity.

Thin, exhausted and ill, she felt a sense of failure and grieved over the soldiers who did not return.

“My poor men lying in your Crimean graves, I stand at the altar of murdered men.

Florence devoted the rest of her life to ensure that they did not die in vain.

While Florence shrank from public appearances, she skillfully used her reputation and the authority of her name to convincethose in power of the need for health reform, starting with Queen Victoria, whom she impressed greatly when they met in Balmoral.

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Above: Queen Victoria (1819 – 1901)

For the rest of her days she would continue to suffer reoccuring bouts of fever, exhaustion, depression, loss of appetite, insomnia and severe back pain.

Unable to continue nursing, she devoted herself to health reform, founded the first training school for nurses at St. Thomas, campaigned to improve hospital conditions and championed the cause of midwives.

Often irritable, highly critical of herself and others, Florence worked on, writing hundreds of letters, gathering and analysing statistics, commenting on reports, briefing politicians and medical experts.

Prompted by the Indian mutiny of 1857, Florence began a lifelong campaign to improve the health of all Indians, not just British soldiers.

She studied the design of hospitals in Britain and across Europe.

Florence wrote Notes on Nursing to help ordinary women care for their families.

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She stressed the importance of cleanliness, warmth, fresh air, light and proper diet.

Florence wrote some 200 books, pamphlets and articles, and over 14,000 letters.

As well as nursing she wrote about religion and philosophy, sanitation and army hygiene, hospitals, statistics and India.

She wrote about her travels and the frustrations of life for educated women.

Florence changed society´s ideas about nursing.

She believed in looking after a person´s mental as well as physical wellbeing.

She stressed the importance of being sensitive to a patient´s needs and their environment to aid recovery.

She helped make nursing a respectable profession for women.

Her work proved an inspiration to many, including the founder of the Red Cross movement, Henri Dunant.

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Above: Henri Dunant (1828 – 1910)

Florence championed causes that are as just important today as they were in her day, from hospital hygiene and management, to the nursing of soldiers during war and afterwards, and healthcare for all around the world.

In recognition of her pioneering work in nursing, the Nightingale Pledge is taken by new nurses.

The Florence Nightingale Medal is the highest international distinction a nurse can achieve and the annual International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world on her birthday.

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The Florence Nightingale Museum doesn´t just celebrate Florence as a devout woman who single-mindedly revolutionized the healthcare industry but as well it hits the right note by putting the two years she spent tending to the wounded of the Crimean War in the context of a lifetime of tireless social campaigning, and also mentions others involved in that same health care crisis.

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Dimly lit and curiously curated with circular display cases covered in fake grass or wrapped in bandages, this small museum is packed with fascinating exhibits, from Florence´s hand-written ledgers and primitive medical instruments to pamplets with titles like How People May Live and Not Die in India.

The Museum and the neighbourhood of Lambeth are worth exploring, especially in a world too full of Dr. Creams and too few Florence Nightingales.

Perhaps if our politicians visited more museums like the Red Cross Museum in Geneva or the Florence Nightingale Museum there might less incentive to cause war ourselves or to ignore wars far removed from us, such as Yemen – “a pointless conflict (that) has caused the world´s worst humanitarian crisis”.

Perhaps if we followed role models such as Florence we might one day truly find peace on Earth and good will towards man.

Sources: Wikipedia / The Rough Guide to London / Rachel Howard and Bill Nash, Secret London: An Unusual Guide / Simon Leyland, A Curious Guide to London / Florence Nightingale Museum / http://www.florence-nightingale.co.uk

 

Canada Slim and the Right Man

Landschlacht, Switzerland, 6 December 2017

Is there such a thing as an indispensable man?

This is a question I have often asked myself when considering both my life and the lives of the famous.

I ask myself this question recently as I am, once again, forced to remain at home in bed with, yet another cold that has made both barista work and teaching impractical as I have been reduced to a coughing, sneezing, aching, quivering jellyfish of a man unfit and undesirable for public encounters.

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My voice sounds tortured and hoarse as if it is painfully emerging from a long tunnel.

My appearance is akin to a homeless street person and our apartment reflects this.

The wife mocks the man cold, but hers is a gender that endures menstruation on a monthly basis and usually survives the incredible ordeal of child birth with little hesitation to repeat or memory of the event.

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Hers is a mind of multiplicity handling every moment and memory simultaneously, while my mind is a series of boxes which are opened only one at a time, so when illness strikes all my focus is upon how truly horrid I feel.

A woman with a cold is simply a woman with yet another complication in her life, for she will incorporate the cold as part of life´s burdens she must bear and will further complicate her life with tortured emotions about the selfishness of her having a cold keeping her from doing her other duties.

A man, though he is aware of the selfishness of having others assume his duties, will moan and groan impatiently focused on his recovery, even so his conscience is little disturbed about staying at home until he deems himself fit to tackle the world again.

I think about work, of course, and consider what my absence will mean to my students and colleagues.

I know that there are other teachers who could teach in my place and that a barista can be replaced.

But does that mean my presence then is insignificant?

I don´t believe so.

For though I am far from being the most competent or qualified barista or teacher, I possess an entertaining and compassionate personality that I believe my students and colleagues value.

But short of historical accident thrusting me into greatness, I am self aware enough to realise that my eventual absence from existence will not impact history or much of humanity that significantly.

Though the life of my wife might have been greatly different without me in it, would she have been happier or sadder had we never met?

If I had not survived an accident with an axe during my teenage years, or if I had perished on the side of the mountain when I was stranded overnight three years ago, would the world have noticed my absence?

My social circle was and remains small.

I would have been missed by a few people, but I believe they would have found the strength to carry on without me.

I don´t believe I need an angel Clarence to show this George Bailey how It´s a Wonderful Life and how vastly different reality would be had I never existed.

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Above: Henry Travis as angel Clarence Oddbody (left) and James Stewart as George Bailey (right), from It´s A Wonderful Life (1946)

Certainly each man leaves his mark on the world by how his actions have affected others.

A man´s greatness could even be said to be measured by how many others his actions affected.

My mind often wonders how reality might be had certain great men never existed or didn´t exist at the time when they were most influential.

The recent resurgence of interest in Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965) – with this year´s movies Darkest Hour (starring Gary Oldman) and Churchill (starring Brian Cox) and last year´s Churchill´s Secret (starring Michael Gambon) – have led me to wonder would the world of today be different had Churchill not been present at those moments of yesterday when he made the most impact?

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This hypothetical “What If?” exercise is not so far fetched….

On a holiday in Bournemouth in January 1893, Churchill fell and was knocked unconscious for three days.

Churchill saw action as a soldier and war correspondent and risked his life in India, the Sudan and South Africa.

Above: Battle of Omdurman, Sudan (2 September 1898), where Churchill took part in a cavalry charge

It remains uncertain whether Churchill´s life was in any danger when he was present at the January 1911 Siege of Sidney Street when Latvian anarchists wanted for murder holed up in a house and resisted arrest.

Above: Winston Churchill (highlighted) at Sidney Street, 3 January 1911

And it is also unclear whether Home Secretary Churchill gave the police any operational orders during the Siege, though it has been suggested that when the house caught fire Churchill prevented the fire brigade from dousing the flames so that the anarchists burnt to death.

“I thought it better to let the house burn down rather than spend good British lives in rescuing those ferocious rascals.”

On 12 December 1931, during a lecture tour for his writing, Churchill, while crossing New York City´s Fifth Avenue, was knocked down by a car.

Above: The Empire State Building, completed 1931

Had Churchill not survived these events to become Prime Minister (1940 – 1945 / 1951 – 1955), would Britain have remained resolute against Germany during the Second World War?

How indispensable was Churchill to the world?

This question was certainly paramount in my mind when my wife and I visited the Churchill War Rooms six weeks ago….

Above: An external view of the New Public Offices building, the basements of which were chosen to house the Cabinet War Rooms

London, England, 24 October 2017

In 1938, in anticipation of Nazi air raids, the basement of the Treasury building on London´s King Charles Street was converted into “war rooms”, protected by a three-foot-thick concrete slab, reinforced with steel rails and tramlines.

It was here that Prime Minister Winston Churchill directed operations and held cabinet meetings for the duration of World War II.

By the end of the War, the six-acre site included a hospital, canteen and shooting range, as well as sleeping quarters.

Tunnels fan out from the complex to outlying government ministeries.

It is rumoured there are also tunnels to Buckingham Palace itself, allowing the Royal Family a quick getaway to exile in Canada (via Charing Cross Station) in the event of a Nazi invasion.

Above: Buckingham Palace

Walking the corridors of the Churchill War Rooms and exploring its adjacent Churchill Museum are experiences that live long in the memory.

Every corner tells a story.

Today we take for granted the idea of an underground command centre.

How else can political and military leaders run a country and control armed forces, safe from enemy bombardment?

But the Second World War was the first time that Britain faced such a concentrated aerial threat.

Should there be some sort of central war room?

Where should it be?

How should it be protected?

Who should work there?

What space and equipment would they need?

What exactly would they be doing?

Most of these questions began to be answered only in the final fraught months before Britain went to war.

A flag featuring both cross and saltire in red, white and blue

Many of them were still being answered during the War itself, even as bombs rained down over London and the threat of invasion loomed.

The story of the Churchill War Rooms is therefore one of improvisation in the face of deadly necessity.

After the First World War (1914 – 1918), the British government adopted a “ten-year rule”.

Until instructed otherwise, all departments should assume that the country would not go to war again for at least a decade.

Even so, some thought was given to how a future war might be fought.

In 1924, government experts predicted that London would be bombarded by up to 200 tons of bombs in the first 24 hours of a world conflict.

Casualities would be high and the country´s political and military command structure could be severely disabled.

Partly due to the ten-year rule, little was done to heed this warning until 1933 when a belligerent Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany.

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Above: Adolf Hitler (1889 – 1945)

It came as a complete shock when Hitler declared his intention to have Germany leave the League of Nations, the forerunner of today´s United Nations.

War within the next decade suddenly seemed much more possible and the question of national defence became a priority.

In March 1938, Germany annexed Austria, adding to international tension.

General Hastings Ismay, Deputy Secretary of Britain´s Committee of Imperial Defence, immediately organised a search for an emergency working refuge to house the Cabinet and the Chiefs of Staff in case of a sudden attack.

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Above: Hastings Ismay (1887 – 1965)

Plans were still in a confused state in late May 1938, when the alarming news was received that German troops were massing on the Czechoslovakian border.

There might be war any day, but still no war room.

On 31 May 1938, the site was confirmed, a site conveniently close to both Downing Street (the Prime Minister´s residence) and Parliament.

It was thought that the steel structure of the Treasury building above the War Rooms would provide extra protection against bombs, but a direct hit on the site would have been catastrophic.

From June to August 1938, work on the War Rooms involved clearing rooms, sandbagging alcoves, replacing glass doors with teak, building brick partitions, installing telephone lines and estabishing a connection with the BBC.

As the site was situated below the level of the Thames River, flood doors had to be fitted and pumps installed.

By the end of August, the Map Room was manned and tested and plans were underway for airlocks and steel doors to defend against gas attack.

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Above: The Map Room, Cabinet War Rooms

There could be no hesitation or pause in these preparations.

Hitler had sparked a new crisis on the Continent by threatening to annex part of Czechoslovakia.

Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain attempted to defuse the situation by diplomatic means.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain

Above: Neville Chamberlain (1869 – 1940), British PM (1937 – 1940)

On 30 September, Hitler signed the Munich Agreement – heralded by Chamberlain as a guarantee of “peace for our time”, but the Central War Room was theoretically ready for use.

Above: Neville Chamberlain showing the Anglo-German Declaration, aka The Munich Agreement. guaranteeing “peace for our time”, Heston Air Force Base, England, 30 September 1938

It would have been desperately uncomfortable for anyone working there, as the ventilation system was poor, there were no overnight accommodations, no bedding, no kitchen, no food, no toilets or washing facilities.

Work continued on the War Rooms.

On 23 August, Hitler signed a non-aggression pact with Russia, leaving the way free for him to attack Poland.

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Above: Soviet Premier Stalin and German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, after the signature of the (Vyacheslav) Molotov – Ribbentrop German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, 23 August 1939

On 27 August the Central War Room was officially opened.

On 1 September, Hitler attacked Poland.

Above: Adolf Hitler reviewing the troops on the march during the Polish campaign, September 1939

Two days later, Britain was at war.

The immediate bombardment of London that had been expected for so long failed to materialise in the first nine months of the War, though the War Rooms were operational.

A botched land campaign in Norway in April 1940 and Germany´s sudden attack on the Netherlands on 10 May caused Chamberlain to resign and Churchill to take his place.

A few days later, as British Forces were driven back towards the French coast, the new Prime Minister visited the Cabinet War Room and declared:

“This is the room from which I will direct the war.”

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Above: Cabinet War Room

In the summer of 1940, as the fall of France was followed by the Battle of Britain for aerial supremacy over southern England, Britain stood at risk of imminent invasion.

Above: German Heinkel HE 111 bombers over the English Channel, 1940

On 7 September 1940, Germany launched the Blitz – a sustained bombing campaign against British towns and cities, with London the chief target.

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Britain weathered the Blitz for nine long months.

When the Blitz failed to secure victory over Britain, Hitler turned his attention to the east, launching an invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941.

Britain was no longer fighting the Nazis alone.

When, on 7 December 1941, Japan attacked the American fleet at Pearl Harbour, the United States entered the War, changing the fortunes of Britain.

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Above: The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, USA

The War Rooms began deception plans intended to divert enemy resources away from genuine Allied operations.

This would play a crucial role in the success of Operation Overlord – the Allied invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944.

The success of the D-Day landings helped to turn the tide of war against the Nazis, but they were not finished in attacking Britain.

On 13 June 1944, the first V1 flying bomb hit London, bringing a new threat to the capital.

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Above: A V1 guided missile

Over the winter of 1944 – 1945, the V1 flying bomb attacks were gradually superseded by the more destructive V2 flying bombs.

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Above: A V2 rocket

By the end of March 1945, most of the V2 production factories had been overrun by the unstoppable Allied advance towards Berlin.

Adolf Hitler spent the final weeks of the War sheltering in his bunker as  Berlin came under attack from Stalin´s armies.

After the fall of Berlin, the Allies declared victory in Europe on 8 May 1945.

By the time Japan surrendered on 15 August, Churchill was no longer Prime Minister having lost the General Election on 26 July.

On 16 August, after six years of continuous use, the War Rooms were simply and suddenly abandoned.

Their historic value was recognised and were mostly left undisturbed.

The preserved rooms were declared a national monument in 1948, with free guided tours given to people who had written to the Cabinet Office.

This practice continued until 1984 when the Imperial War Museum was asked to turn the site into a formal Museum.

Millions of visitors have since walked its corridors, tracing the steps of Churchill and the many men and women – both military and civilian – who helped run this underground complex.

The Churchill Museum was added to the Cabinet War Rooms in 2005 and this expanded Museum was later renamed the Churchill War Rooms.

It has to be said that the Churchill War Rooms is a fascinating place for it is filled with intimate details that bring home the immediacy of those times…

  • The sugar cubes hoarded by a Map Room officer
  • The noiseless typewriters that Churchill insisted be used by his staff
  • Accounts of what it was really like to eat, sleep and work below the streets of London as German bombs fell all around.
  • The coloured lights in the Cabinet War Room that signalled an air raid and the ashtrays positioned within easy reach around the table and the scratch marks on the arms of Churchill´s chair that show how strained the Cabinet Room could become
  • The multi-coloured phones where the men of the Map Room could follow every thrust and counterthrust of the War
  • The actual door that Churchill walked through at 10 Downing Street
  • The tiny Transatlantic Telephone Room where Churchill used to speak in secret to the US President
  • Churchill´s famous “siren suit”, a zip-up coverall that Churchill began wearing for comfort from the 1930s onwards
  • The Union Flag which was draped over Churchill´s coffin during his State Funeral which was broadcast around the world

Above: Grave of Winston Churchill, St. Martin´s Church, Bladon, England

(“I am ready to meet my Maker – but whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”)

  • The weather indicator in the main corridor that would read “Windy” when a heavy bombing raid was in progress
  • The story of how one of the women who worked at the War Rooms had a short relationship with James Bond author Ian Fleming and would be the inspiration for the character Miss Moneypenny
  • One of the Royal Marines guarding the entrance to the Cabinet War Rooms took up embroidery to pass the time.
  • To alleviate the health problems of working underground, staff were made to strip to their underwear and stand in front of portable sun lamps
  • Wartime graffiti on a map in the Cabinet Room showing Hitler fallen on his ass
  • A cat named Smoky that used to curl up on Churchill´s bed
  • A typist who learned that the ship carrying her boyfriend had perished with all lives lost

So, so much to see and learn and discover….

But what of the Great Man himself?

This man of contradictions, this man who took over as Prime Minister when Britain stood alone against the Axis powers, who is remembered for his trademark bowler hat and half-chewed Havana cigars, who is famous for his morale-inspiring speeches and clever wit….

“It is better to be making the news than taking it, to be an actor rather than an critic.”

“I have nothing to offer but blood, tears, toil and sweat.”

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

“….We shall fight in France.  We shall fight on the seas and oceans.  We shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air.  We shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be.  We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds.  We shall fight in the fields and in the streets.  We shall fight in the hills.  We shall never surrender.”

“This is not the end.  It is not even the beginning of the end.  But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

An American visitor reported in late 1940 that:

“Everywhere I went in London, people admired Churchill´s energy, his courage, his singleness of purpose.  People said they didn´t know what Britain would do without him.  He was obviously respected, but no one felt he would be Prime Minister after the War.  He was simply the right man in the right job at the right time, the time being a desperate war with Britain´s enemies.”

Without this man´s uplifting spirit, would Britain have surrendered against the overwhelming odds of Hitler´s mighty war machine?

I am convinced that Churchill´s uniqueness of character means that its absence would have lead to Britain´s surrender.

Whether Britain´s surrender would mean Hitler wouldn´t ultimately still turn against Russia, or whether America wouldn´t come to Britain´s aid with or without the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour remains a point of conjecture and the province of alternate history / science fiction writers.

But I think a visit to the Churchill War Rooms is well worth the while, because there are several lessons to be learned here under the streets of London.

We are where and who we are because of what came before.

We need to recall the wars that lead us to where we are today, not to glorify in our victories but rather to somberly recall our losses and learn from them so to avoid future war or at least prepare ourselves for another dark future of bloodshed and destruction.

We are a product of our time and place.

It is doubtful whether Churchill could have accomplished what he did had time and circumstances been different.

In examining Churchill´s past carefully, one can see