October 27

Titus Mendax?

London burns anew with the fires of accusation. Titus Oates has accused scores. Many a Catholic, who, excepting their vile, idolatrous sect, are otherwise good men, fear for their very lives.

Jack has rallied to Oates' cause, and he has asked me to record any "papist utterances" Sean might make.

I am less sure. On the one side, a friend at the Society recalls booting Oates from St. Johns College, and a colleague from my navy contract shocked me with rumors of Oates' conduct as a ship's chaplain.

Popish_plot_playcard2

On t'other, I give a fair mark to anyone who accuses that belcher Samuel Pepys of anything.

Regardless, I find it remarkable how quickly the public imagination digests such events. I post here the "King of Hearts" from a deck I bought on the street yesterday, mere weeks from the start of this mess.

I hope we may keep our heads about us.

September 23

Sludge, and an unwanted visitor

I have been much distracted, recently, by a study that has kept me rowing around the harbor in search of new forms of sludge and pondering how to remove them. The Thames River harbormaster, heeding complaints about the sight of the waters that lap the boards of England's proud merchant fleet, to say nothing of the smell, has asked me to see what may be done to improve the quality of our local waterways. One easy first step, I quickly advised, would be to convince Jack (and others like him) to forbid the men on their rum-runners from emptying their rum-soaked bilges into the harbor. The rum, or at least the sort Jack peddles, soaks into the already unpleasant detritus found in the bilge of a standard brig, rendering it extremely flammable. Jack's men very much enjoy setting this effluvia a-blaze as they pump it out, giving the ship the appearance that it is urinating fire. It is an extremely dangerous habit around wooden ships, of course, and burning these wastes seem to release foul stenches that would otherwise remain contained.

The study pays quite well, I should mention.

I leave the task of convincing Jack to discipline his men to others, as I have good reason to doubt my capacity as a negotiator. As you know doubt know if you follow Twitter feeds with any sort of attention, Sean has taken refuge once again in Jack's house, to escape the harpy he must now refer to as "wife."  She soon followed him there, and, as

1) Sean was senseless with drink;
2) Gustavo had immediately fled through the pantry, citing a sudden need to "revictual"; and
3) Jack was holding firm on his oath never to speak to a woman again unless money changed hands;

I was chosen to negotiate her immediate departure. Not only did I fail to remove her from the doorstep, but thanks to her swift, womanly wiles and demon-inspired sophistry, I: allowed her to stay in Jack's house, permanently; promised an expensive, labor-intensive breakfast - something with quails' eggs - to be readied for her daily, at some ungodly hour; and sworn upon my dear mother's honor that rum was henceforth forever banned from our house.

I gave up so much, with such dispatch, that Jack valued the reversal of my concessions as actual money regained and stepped in to achieve what I could not. Tho' I do consider the use of hounds an ungentlemanly way to improve ones terms.

April 28

The Week Underground and Beyond the Blade

I have enlisted some capable, discreet gentlemen to aid me in the recovery of those parts of my magnificent collections that S&J buried this Autumn passed. We are now past the final frost, and as soon as this cursed rain passes and the ground has dried, we shall dig (!). I am equal parts apprehensive and giddy as a new bride. I fear that six months underground will do the wings of my coleoptera no good whatsoever.

In good news, I am told that J has had a productive first meeting with my colleague, Dr. L, a self-proclaimed expert on the Abatement of Anger Without The Use of Leeches or The Blade. While I have  serious doubts about the scientific validity of this method, Jack does seem in slightly better spirits, though perhaps only because, rather than flowing towards every person he meets, his excessive Bile has been focused entirely on Dr. L. He has not stopped heaping scorn on the man since his meeting.

April 3

More fun at the CU

I must say S & J have been making quite a go of the Crimson Unicorn. Bar seats have become so lucrative that I have been forbidden from lingering there without "paying my way," which, given the margins they seek, requires buying at least three quarts of ale and a tussle with a two-pearl (minimum) wench. And - as I believe I have mentioned already - cash only, upfront.

As I do not have the income, stomach, or inclination to commit myself to such an outlay by simply walking through the doors, J and I have negotiated an alternative arrangement. If I can improve their take on their slowest evening (Sunday) by a specified amount, I may be exempt from the minimum drink/whore requirements. As S so clearly put it, J & S pick up on a slow night what they lose on my slow, cheap arse on a busy one. It's little wonder they've done so well.

At the time this seemed like an excellent deal for all, but I begin to think I have gotten the short-end of the stick.

March 28

Up late with a good read

I have remained up far past my bedtime, and assuredly ruining my eyes, reading
Huygen's Horologium Oscillatorium. It's mechanical wonders astonish; I count myself fortunate to live in an age that sees such technological advances.

March 20

A Non-Intrusive Operation?

I spoke this morning with Dr. L of the RSC about S and my proposal to relieve J of his roiling yellow bile, which hath made him so choleric as to be unfit, at times, for all proper company. the Doctor sees two possible remedies, one known and one novel:

1) the timely removal of J's gall bladder under Dr. L's sure blade [known, effective, but risks death]; &
2) a series of interviews with Dr. L to reveal the first case of J's flood of yellow bile, and, it is hoped, to thereby tame that flood [novel and completely unproven].

I cannot honestly say which remedy J will despise more. Perhaps S and I simply shouldn't tell him. I must consult further.

February 18

A Medical Request

In an unlikely move, Sean approached me this Thursday past and, forgoing his usual greeting - "Pat, you ignorant hussy!" - for a polite "How are you today?" asked me for some discreet medical help.

He hath encountered a woman who  troubled his insides, he explained, and further, he hath suggested that the cause of the trouble is neither the clap nor the canker, for he hath not yet so much as held the door for her. 

I suspect a sudden surfeit of blood so great that it flooded his gall bladder, and accordingly I prescribed leeches. Sean's bile should soon flow smoothly once more, and he will no doubt return to his usual irascible self within a few days.

I also prescribed he keep at least 50 yards from this woman, until we discover what about her hath prompted this sudden flow. Jack is on the case.

January 26

Jack, Subdued

Quite a long conversation with Jack evening last, and greatly surprised at the attention - nay, interest - he seemed to have in my draft of a proposed Code of Ethicks for Society members on expedition (exempli gratia: "make every reasonable attempt to observe a specimen in its natural environment before shooting and collecting it"). He is not one to wax philosophic. He seemed, even, near melancholy, a rare, quiet response in deed from the man; historically, even the death of a dear loved one has received from him the very same intense and pugnacious bile as a misplaced jam jar or a delay in shipment. Perhaps his new passion for golf is to blame; I will observe him discreetly.

One lone, dark month since the solstice, and already I look forward to the warmth of the new year.

December 31

Ten Momentous Things, Changes, and Events of 1677

The good year of our Lord 1677 has come to its end, and not without adventures of all sorts. My ill-fated trip to the Orient being foremost among them, I have spent some time since my return catching up on all the news since my departure. NTL, given the popularity of last year's list, I have once again compiled the Ten Most Important Occurrences of 1677, as a partial record of this eventful year. I welcome comments on the strength of these ten as the years Most Important, or on any Omissions readers may have determined in my list.

10) Death of Francis Glisson (below): An old and beloved colleague, he passed away not long after my return to London. A renowned Doctor of Physick, his study of the liver has advanced medicine immeasurably, and has saved many of us the trouble of investigating the most boring of organs.

Francis_glisson_2

9) Marriage of Mary to her coz William of Orange: So much preferable to that cad, the Dauphin Louis.

8) The New Management at the Crimson Unicorn: Though I am loathe to list the same establishment on two "best of" lists in a row, Jack and Sean's active involvement in the management of the best baudy house in all of London surely merits it. I have not yet determined whether this is an event of great joy or woe; but, given their harsh efforts to cut costs, and their extreme dislike of credit - even mine, and even though previous management supplied them such credit quite generously - I am leaning towards the latter. But the new sconces are nice.

7) The removal of Thomas Killigrew from the the post of Master of the Revels: Nearly as incompetent as he is unfunny, I was mightily pleased to find upon my return that he had lost his post. I am certain that ninny Pepys is disappointed; I know he found Killigrew amusing. Need I mention that Killigrew is a Papist?

6) Jean Racine's Ph├Ędre: I have only read it - the text was given to me by a colleague before I departed for points east; I read it a dozen times on the outbound journey alone - and I have heard that the opening performances were not well received, but this play is a masterpiece. For Racine's sake, I hope History reveals this to be true.

5) Henry Purcell named to the court of Charles II: I have very high hopes for this young composer. His compositions and performances as organist at Westminster have certainly earned him the posting.

4) The death of Wenceslaus Hollar, etcher:  A great loss for all involved in Natural Philosophy. None in the City had his gift for representation, nor his production speed. His illustrative work has enabled many, many great minds to study flora & fauna seen in person by only a lucky few. Examples:

Hollar_elephant

Hollar_griffin

I had hoped to enlist Hollar in illustrating my own texts on my discoveries in the Orient.

3) Elias Ashmole's gift of the Tradescant Collection to Oxford University: An unprecedented scholastic opportunity, and we all look forward to the new Facilities built to house the Collection. Of course, the bequest is something of a blow to Viscount Brouncker, who had been trying to secure the collection for the Royal Society for the better part of the decade.

2) Completion of the Monument to the Great Fire of London: Wren does it again (with some help from Robert Hooke). Not only is the monument a fitting tribute to that catastrophe, but it affords a grand view of the City from its pinnacle...and it is a spectacular scientific instrument as well! It functions both as a large zenith telescope AND a laboratory for conducting gravity experiments. My only complaint: the illustrative carvings and inscription around its base fail to mention the cause of the Fire - a Papist conspiracy. Someone should fix this.

1) Discovery of Youthful Medicine in the Orient: I alluded to a "Font of Youth" in a much earlier post, and, while I hesitate to use quite such exuberant language this time around, I NTL believe something there, most likely the water, is responsible for the youthful aspect of even the oldest of men in that far away Delta. Should we be able to determine the exact cause of their longevity, we shall be able to export it back to the West, radically improving the Englishman's quality of life and earning a fortune in the process. History, I think, will show this to be far and away the Most Important Occurrence of the year - perhaps even the decade.

October 27

Excuses, Excuses

On top of my convalescence from the braining by Jack's lintel stone, the effort required to scour this accursed city, in the (by definition) vain hope of finding worthy substitutes for the largely irreplaceable specimens from my formerly envied collection of world-wide flora and fauna, which collection Jack and Sean committed to the eternal grave in a foolish, if touching, effigy of me, has kept me both very busy and rather too irascible to post on yet another day's failures.

Further, while I was confined to my bed, Sean and Jack took the well-intentioned liberty of inventing and then delivering to my esteemed colleagues at the Society preliminary and completely fraudulent descriptions of my findings from my time in the Orient. The Society now await eagerly tractati on, among other ludicrous topics, the customs of a fictitious tribe that only walk on their hands, the "werefish," and the vegetable lamb of Tartary. Between drafting more truthful versions of these and the constant flow of quacks who, at Sean's behest, "treat" me for melancholy (from which no one has ever died anyway), I have had little time and still less energy to post.

But true to his word, this evening Jack set the dogs on Sean's latest fool before the poor man had even crossed the threshold, and the sight raised my spirits considerably.