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.
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 Phèdre: 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:
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.