Wednesday, 5 April 2017

A Bit of History and Something New

Today, I'll continue with my excerpting from Treasures of Use and Beauty; the sections dealing with Great Historical Events and Miscellaneous Letters from Eminent Persons. As well, I'll start a new idea. I'll get into it after my excerpts.

My last post covered the period of history in the Americas up to 1534 with the destruction of Havana by the French. So let's see what happens next!

"1535. Pizarro founds the City of Lima and establishes his palace and the capital of his empire there.
1535. May 19. - Cartier sailed on his second voyage; he pursues his former course and sails up the St. Lawrence
1535 - 50. Money coined in Mexico and a printing press introduced. - A university and several colleges founded.
1536. The Peruvians, 200,000 strong, attack all Spanish settlements and destroy them. They surround Cuzco and Lima. The whole Spanish army at these two points are shut in and besieged for nine months.
A fort and trading post was established on the site of the present town of Asuncion, S.A., which gave it 73 years the precedence of Jamestown, the first European settlement in the United States.
1537. Cortez discovered the peninsula of California.
1539. May 30. - Ferdinando de Soto arrives upon the western coast of Florida with 9 vessels, 600 men, 213 horses, and a herd of swine.
1540. August 23. - Cartier arrived at the port of St. Croix upon his third voyage.
1541. In the spring Cartier visits Newfoundland en route for France, where he finds three ships with 200 persons of both sexes, on their way to Canada to found a colony, under command of Lord Roberval.
July. - The colony arrives at St. Croix and establish themselves at the fort left by Cartier. They pass a tedious winter, suffering from sickness and privation, and return to France the following summer.
De Soto discovers the Mississippi.
1542. King Charles decides to change the form of Government in the American provinces - abolishing slavery of the nations and military despotism.
1545. Silver mines discovered in Potosi, South America.
1548. Pizarro publicly executed."

Miscellaneous Letters from Eminent Persons

The two letters which follow are from Dr. Samuel Johnson, the publisher of A Dictionary of the English Language, amongst other works and Mrs. Piozzi, aka Hester Thrale, shortly before Johnson's death. They had a falling out when Thrale began a romance with Italian singing teacher Gabriel Piozzi. They were somewhat reconciled shortly before Johnson's death in Dec of the year these letters were written.


July 2, 1784

If I interpret your letter right, you are ignominiously married; if it is yet undone, let us once more talk together. If you have abandoned your children and your religion, God forgive your wickedness; if you have forfeited your fame and your country, may your folly do no further mischief. If the last act is yet to do, I who have loved you, esteemed you, reverenced you, and served you, I who long thought you the first of womankind, entreat that, before your fate is irrevocable, I may once more see you. I was, I once was, madam, most truly yours.

Sam. Johnson.


July 4, 1784

I have this morning received from you so rough a letter in reply to one which was both tenderly and respectfully written that I am forced to desire the conclusion of a correspondence which I can bear to continue no longer.

Farewell, dear sir, and accept my best wishes. You have always commanded my esteem, and long enjoyed the fruits of friendship, never infringed by one harsh will, nor can your unmerited, severity itself lessen my regard, but till you have changed your opinion of Mr. Piozzi, let us converse no more. God bless you."

(I must say I am enjoying these glimpses into these past lives.)

Something New

And now for something completely different..., well, maybe not that different. :)

On my Facebook page, for the past year and a bit, I've been starting my mornings with a song from my usb stick. The missus and I like to listen to music when we're out in the car and each of us has a nice variety of songs on our own personal sticks.

So what I had done was start going through my usb list, and posting one song a day, (for my own personal entertainment and maybe a few others ....) starting with 'A' artists and working through to, of course, 'Z'. I posted my penultimate artist's song this morning, that being Zeds Dead - Collapse.  For the last couple of days, I've been wondering if I want to do something else.

Well, it came to me in a Flash!! Let me explain. Firstly, I was born November 10, 1955. What I plan to do on my Facebook page, starting today is post the song that was number 1 in the charts on my birthday, starting in 1955 and working up to the present days. I'll take one from the US Billboard charts and one from the UK charts. That will be for my Facebook page. On my BLog, I want to expand that somewhat. Since I try to focus on books here, I plan to also post the book that was Number 1 on the New York Times Fiction list for the same period, and maybe mention any other books that made the list in the particular year. As well, I want to add the year's Pulitzer Prize winner and also the Nobel Laureate for that year.

I hope to do this daily until I reach the present year. As time goes on and if I'm particularly enjoying this, I may add other items, such as the Booker Prize winner and the Giller Prize, etc. We'll see how it goes.

Anyway, not being able to wait to start something, here goes. The year is 1955 and the following are the Number 1 songs for November 10th, the NY Times No. 1 Book, the Pulitzer Prize for the Year and the Nobel Laureate.

Billboard US Number 1 for the week of 10 Nov 1955

Autumn Leaves by Roger Williams. Williams was an American pianist who lived from 1924 - 2011. He recorded Autumn Leaves in 1955 and it was the only piano instrumental to reach number 1 on the Billboard charts. (there is a link to the song if you click on the title.)  It was originally a French song from 1945 called Falling Leaves. It was performed by countless performers. Of note, the song featured in 1956's Joan Crawford film, Autumn Leaves, with the vocals of Nat King Cole.

UK Singles Chart

(This listing is began in 1952 when Percy Dickins from New Musical Express decided to imitate the Billboard charts and began compiling a hit parade.)

The Man from Laramie by Jimmy Young. Sir Jimmy Young was an English singer, disc jockey and radio personality who lived from 1921 - 2016. He had two Number 1's in 1955, Unchained Melody and The Man from Laramie.  The song was used as the theme song for the movie of the same name, which starred Jimmy Stewart. Al Martino released the song in the US, where it never charted. Young's version reached Number 1 on the UK charts and stayed there for 4 weeks.

New York Times Fiction Best-Sellers List

Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk. I have read other books by Wouk, The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War and War and Remembrance, but this is one I've somehow managed to miss. The novel was also made into a movie in 1958, starring Natalie Wood.

Pulitzer Prize Winner - 1955

A Fable by William Faulkner. Faulkner spent more than a decade on this book and aspired for it to be the best work of his life. Historically, it can be seen as a precursor of Joseph Heller's Catch 22. Faulkner is not a writer I have read, although we did take one of his books when I was at university. He also wrote books such as; As I Lay Dying, Absalom Absalom, The Sound and the Fury, etc.

Nobel Laureate - 1955

Halldor Laxness (1902 - 1998). Laxness was an Icelandic writer who wrote poetry, articles, short stories and novels. The description that accompanied his award stated, "… for his vivid epic power which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland".

So there you go, my first attempt. I hope you find this short voyage interesting.

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