A King in a Court of Fools

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Cyrillus was elected as his successor in the patriarchate. He is generally described as a man of revengeful disposition, and a violent persecutor of those whom he considered heretics. The story of the murder of Hypatia, the daughter of the mathematician Theon of Alexandria, has been related by Socrates, Nicephorus, and other ecclesiastical historians.

Hypatia was a lady of such extraordinary ability and learning as to have been chosen to preside over the school of Platonic philosophy in Alexandria, and her lectures were attended by a crowd of students from Greece and Asia Minor. She was also greatly esteemed and treated with much respect by Orestes, the governor of Alexandria, who was a decided opponent of the patriarch. Hence the malice of Cyril, who is related to have excited a mob of fanatical monks to assault her in the street, who dragged her into a church, and there murdered her, actually tearing her body to pieces.

Cyril had a long and violent dispute with Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople, concerning the divine nature of Christ, and whether Mary was entitled to the appellation of 'Mother of God,' and other mysterious matters. Nestorius was condemned and deposed by Pope Celestine, and Cyril was appointed to carry out the sentence, for which purpose he summoned a council of sixty bishops at Ephesus; but John, patriarch of Antioch, summoned a counter-council of forty bishops, who supported Nestorius, and excommunicated Cyril. The rival patriarchs appealed to the Emperor Theodosius, who committed both Cyril and Nestorius to prison, where they remained some time under rigorous treatment.

Cyril, by the influence of Pope Celestine, was liberated, and restored in to his see of Alexandria, which he retained till his death in His works are numerous, mostly on difficult points of doctrine, which are rendered more obscure by a perplexed style, and the barbarous Greek in which they are written.

They have been published in seven vols. When he had resolved to visit the countries of Western Europe, to learn how to improve his own barbarous subjects, he went straight to Saardam, in Holland, and there, with his companions, worked in the dockyards as a common shipwright, by the name of Pieter Timmerman; he rose early, boiled his own pot, and received wages for his labour. When well advanced in the manual art, he proceeded, in January , to England, to study the theory of ship-building, and the method of making draughts and laying them off in the mould-lofts.

Arriving in honorable state with his companions in three English ships, which had been dispatched for him, he was kindly received by King William, but without state ceremonial, his wish being to remain in England simply as a private gentleman; accordingly, his name never once appears in the London Gazette, then, as now, the only official paper. A large house was hired for him and his suite, at the bottom of York-buildings, now Buckingham-street, in the Adelphi,—the last house on the east side, looking on the Thames.

It contained spacious apartments, in which some of the decorations that existed at the time of the imperial visit may still be seen.

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As the Czar came not in any public character, he was placed under the especial charge of the Marquis of Carmarthen, with whom he became very intimate. It is stated in a private letter, that they used to spend their evenings frequently together in drinking hot pepper and brandy. Peter loved strong liquors; and we learn from one of the papers of the day, that he took a particular fancy to the nectar ambrosia, a new cordial which the compounder presented to his Majesty, who sent for more of it.

The Czar sojourned in England four months.

Playing the fool: Tudor jesters

In the Postboy it is stated that, on the day after his arrival, he went to Kensington Palace, to dine with King William and the Court; but he was all the while incognito. On the Saturday following, the Czar went to the opera; and on the Friday night he was present at the last of the Temple revels. On the following Sunday, he went in a hackney-coach to Kensington Palace, and returned at night to his lodgings in Norfolk-street , where he was attended by several of the King's servants.

His movements, during the rest of the month, were a journey to Woolwich and Deptford, to see the dockyards; then to the theatre, to see the Rival Queens; or Alexander the Great; to St. James's, to be present at a fine ball; to Redriff, where a ship was building for him; and he was present at the launch of a man-of-war at Chatham.

The Czar was continually annoyed by the crowds in the streets of London, as he had been at Amsterdam, and he could not bear the jostling with becoming patience. As he was one day walking along the Strand with the Marquis of Carmarthen, a porter, with a load on his shoulder, rudely pushed against him, and drove him into the road. He was extremely indignant, and ready to knock the man down; but the Marquis interfering, saved the offender, only telling him that the gentleman whom he had so rudely run against was 'the Czar. It had been let by Evelyn to Admiral Benbow , whose term had just expired.

A doorway was broken through the boundary-wall of the dockyard, to communicate with the dwelling-house. The grounds, which were beautifully laid out and planted, had been much damaged by the Admiral; but the Czar proved a worse tenant. Evelyn's servant wrote to him:. The Czar lies next your library, and dines in the parlour next your study. He dines at ten o'clock, and six at night; is very often at home a whole day; very often in the King's yard, or by water, dressed in several dresses.

The King is expected there this day; the best parlour is pretty clean for him to be entertained in. The King pays for all he has. But this was not all: Evelyn had a favourite holly-hedge, which the Czar is said to have spoiled, by trundling a wheelbarrow through it every morning, for the sake of exercise.

We have scarcely any evidence that the Czar ever worked in Deptford dockyard as a shipwright; he seems to have been employed in collecting information connected with naval architecture, from the Commissioner and Surveyor of the Navy, Sir Anthony Deane. But his great delight was to get into a small decked boat from the dockyard, and taking Menzikoff, and three or four of his suite, to work the vessel with them, he being the helms-man; by which practice he said he should be able to teach them how to command ships when they got home.

Having finished their day's work, they used to resort to a public-house in Great Tower-street, close to Tower-hill, to smoke their pipes, and drink beer an brandy. The landlord had the Czar of Muscovy's head painted and put up for a sign, which continued till the year , when a person named Waxel took a fancy to the old sign, and offered the then land-lord of the house to paint him a new one for it.

A copy was accordingly made, which maintained its station until the house was rebuilt, when the sign was not replaced, and the name only remains. The Czar, in—passing up and down the river, was much struck with the magnificent building of Greenwich Hospital, which, until he had visited it, and seen the old pensioners, he thought to be a royal palace; and one day, when King William asked him how he liked his hospital for decayed seamen, the Czar answered,:.

James's into a hospital. It being term-time while the Czar was in London, he was taken into Westminster Hall; he inquired who all those busy people in black gowns and flowing wigs were, and what they were about? Being answered They are lawyers, sir,' 'Lawyers! On returning from Portsmouth, Peter and his party, twenty-one in all, stopped at the principal inn at Godalming, and, according to the landlord's bill, which is preserved in the Bodleian Library, there consumed, at breakfast, half a sheep, a quarter of lamb, ten pullets, twelve chickens, three quarts of brandy, six quarts of mulled wine, seven dozen of eggs, with salad in pro-portion: and at dinner, five ribs of beef, weighing three stone; one sheep, 56 lbs.

Peter was invariably a hard-drinker, for he is known to have drunk a pint of brandy and a bottle of sherry for his morning draught; and after dinner eight bottles of sack, 'and so went to the play-house. The Czar had an extraordinary aversion to a crowd: at a birthday-ball at St. James's, instead of joining the company, he was put into a small room, whence he could see all that passed without being himself seen.

A King in a Court of Fools - Introduction

When he went to see the King in Parliament, he was placed upon the roof of the house to peep in at the window, when King and people so laughed at him that he was obliged to retire. The Czar had a favourite monkey, which sat upon the back of his chair, and one day annoyed the King by jumping upon him, while he paid Peter a visit. Bishop Burnet accompanied the Czar to show him the different churches in the metropolis, and to give information upon ecclesiastical matters.

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While residing at Deptford, Peter frequently invited Dr. Halley from the Royal Observatory, in Greenwich Park, to dine with him, and give him his opinion and advice, especially upon his plan of building a fleet. He also visited several manufactories and workshops in London, and bought a famous geographical clock of its maker, Carte, at the sign of the Dial and Crown, near Essex-street, in the Strand. The Czar was very fond of mechanism, and it is said that before he left England he could take a watch to pieces, and put it together again.

The King promised Peter that there should be no impediment to his engaging and taking with him to Russia. English artificers and scientific men; and when he re-turned to Holland, there went with him captains of ships, pilots, surgeons, gunners, mast-makers, boat - builders, sail - makers, compass - makers, carvers, anchor-smiths, and copper-smiths; in all, nearly persons. The memory of Peter, among his countrymen, is held in the highest veneration.

The magnificent equestrian statue erected by Catherine II; the waxen figure of Peter in the museum of the Academy, founded by himself; the dress, the sword, and the hat, which he wore at the battle of Pultowa, the last pierced with a ball; the horse that he rode in that battle; the trowsers, worsted stockings, shoes, and cap, which he wore at Saardam,—all in the same apartment; his two favourite dogs, his turning-lathe, and tools, with specimens of his workmanship; the iron bar which he forged with his own hand at Olonitz; the Little Grandsire, so carefully preserved as the first germ of the Russian navy; and the wooden hut in which he lived while superintending the first foundation of Petersburg:—these, and a thousand other tangible memorials, all preserved with the utmost care, speak in the most intelligible language the opinion which the Russians hold of the rather of his Country.

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He died of chagrin on her account, without succeeding even in inducing her to come and see him in his last moments. The event was followed by a series of occurrences which, notwithstanding their mysterious nature, she relates with the appearance of perfect sincerity.


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First, there was every night, at eleven o'clock, a piercing cry heard in the street before her house. And, in several instances, on friends speaking of it incredulously, it took place on the instant, to the consternation of all who heard it. After an interval of some weeks, the annoyance was renewed in the form of a musket-shot, which seemed to be fired against her window, and was heard by all in her apartment, but never could be traced by the police to any living agent.

Then another interval took place, after which an invisible clapping of hands followed: this was followed in its turn by a strain of fine music. Finally, after two years and a-half, this strange persecution from the invisible ceased. Madame Clairon states that she afterwards received a visit from an old lady, who had attended her lover on his death-bed, and who informed her that with his latest breath he had inveighed against the object of his unfortunate passion, and threatened to pursue her as long after his death as she had pursued him during his life, being exactly two years and a-half.

The Duchess d'Abrantes, in her Memoirs, relates how she had heard Clairon give a solemn recital of these occurrences, 'laying aside all affectation and everything that could be construed into speaking for effect. Clairon was a great favourite with Voltaire: it would be curious to learn what he thought of her story of the invisible persecutor.

She appears to have had her full share of theatrical caprices and jealousies, under one of which she prematurely withdrew from the stage, though not without a considerable fortune. Garrick , asked what he thought of her as an actress, said she was 'too much an actress;' which gives a tolerable idea of her attitudinary style. It is said she was equally an actress off the stage, maintaining a grand manner even before her domestics.


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  4. She died at eighty-one, in full possession of her faculties. The historical writings of Prescott are among the few finished and classical productions of the kind in our age, which are worthy to rank with those of Gibbon , Hume , and others, in the last century. Fortunate in having the power of devoting himself to those studies in which it was his ambition to excel, this eminent American was just as unfortunate in the deficiency of certain requisites which one would have previously said were indispensable for such a career.

    He had from an early period of life lost in a great measure the use of his eyes. How he contrived by patience and the use of adroit arrangements to overcome this prodigious difficulty, is detailed by himself in a manner extremely interesting:.

    Playing the fool: Tudor jesters - HistoryExtra

    But just before these materials arrived, my eye had experienced so severe a strain that I enjoyed no use of it again for reading for several years. It has, indeed, never since fully recovered Its strength, nor have I ever ventured to use it again by candlelight. I well remember the blank despair which I felt when my literary treasures arrived from Spain, and I saw the mine of wealth lying around me which I was forbidden to explore.

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