Little Bits of History

October 1

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 1, 2017

1961: Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management is published. Isabella Beeton was the eldest of three daughters born to her merchant father and his wife who lived in London. Her father died when Isabella was four and her pregnant mother could not cope with raising her two children and maintain the business all while pregnant. She sent her daughters off to live with other family members and Isabella went to live with her grandfather for the next two years before returning home. Her mother remarried and her stepfather came with four children of his own. He was the Clerk of Epsom Racecourse and the family went to Surrey to live. Isabella, as the eldest, had a hand in raising the rest of the children. She did receive an education at home and abroad and upon her return to England, took lessons in pastry making.

Isabella met Samuel Beeton, a publisher and six years her senior, around 1854 and they entered into a lively correspondence. They announced their engagement in June of 1855 and married in July of 1856. Within a month of their returning from their honeymoon, Isabella was pregnant. While pregnant, she began writing for her husband’s enterprise, The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine. The purpose of the magazine was to make women content in their role as domestic caretakers. Isabella translated French short stories and then began writing a food column. Their son was born in May but had died by August. It is thought Samuel had contracted syphilis via a prostitute before his marriage and had passed the disease onto his wife and son.

Isabella continued to write, in part to help with her grief. After collecting 24 monthly installments from the magazine issues, it was decided they should be collated into one complete book and the work was published on this day. The recipes included, while not original with Mrs. Beeton, were highly structured and many monochrome and color plates were included. Isabella tested all the recipes before she included them in her articles, making sure they were appropriate. The contained information on more than just cooking and offered information on “all Things Connected with Home Life and Comfort”. The book even contained a 26-page “Analytical Index” so readers could quickly find what they needed.

Isabella hoped to rewrite and abridge her eponymous work but died in February 1865 at the age of 28. She had given birth to four children and had several miscarriages before dying of puerperal fever which today seems consistent with a syphilis diagnosis. Her book has outlived her and remains in print even now. It expanded throughout the following decades and by 1907 was over 2000 pages long and had 74 chapters. The book had sold almost two million copies by 1868 and was one of the most consulted cookbooks in the early 20th century. The latest edition was put out by Benediction Press in 2010.

I must frankly own, that if I had known, beforehand, that this book would have cost me the labour which it has, I should never have been courageous enough to commence it. What moved me, in the first instance, to attempt a work like this, was the discomfort and suffering which I had seen brought upon men and women by household mismanagement. I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways.

I have attempted to give, under the chapters devoted to cookery, an intelligible arrangement to every recipe, a list of the ingredients, a plain statement of the mode of preparing each dish, and a careful estimate of its cost, the number of people for whom it is sufficient, and the time when it is seasonable.

(The tomato’s) flavour stimulates the appetite, and is almost universally approved. The Tomato is a wholesome fruit, and digests easily. … it has been found to contain a particular acid, a volatile oil, a brown, very fragrant extracto-resinous matter, a vegeto-mineral matter, muco-saccharine, some salts, and, in all probability, an alkaloid. The whole plant has a disagreeable odour, and its juice, subjected to the action of the fire, emits a vapour so powerful as to cause vertigo and vomiting.

As with the Commander of any Army, or the leader of any enterprise, so is it with the mistress of a house. – all from Isabella Beeton

 

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September 30

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 30, 2017

1861: William Wrigley, Jr. is born in Philadelphia. At the age of 29, Wrigley moved to Chicago bringing his entire life savings, $32. He founded Wrigley’s Scouring Soap, a company which used premiums to get people to buy the product. That is, he gave away baking powder if soap was purchased. He learned the baking powder was more popular than the soap and changed his business to selling baking powder. He kept the same marketing scheme however and now gave away two packages of chewing gum for each can of baking powder purchased. Again, the bonus was more popular than the actual product. And so, again, Wrigley switched the focus of his business.

Since he was no longer selling soap, or even baking powder, the name of the business needed to change. The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, or the Wrigley Company, was founded on April 1, 1891 under the name mentioned above. Today, it is a subsidiary of Mars, Incorporated which purchased Wrigley’s for about $23 billion in 2008. They sell their products in over 180 countries and districts. They maintain operations in over 50 countries and have 21 production facilities in 14 countries. The company had been run by family members until 2006 when William Perez took over the leadership. Martin Radvan is the current president of the company.

William was interested in more than just selling gum. He played a leading role in the development of Santa Catalina Island, California which lies off the coast of Los Angeles. He bought a controlling interest in the venture in 1919 and became the owner of the island. He then developed it with utilities, new steamships, a hotel, and the Casino building. He also beautified the island. These improvements created jobs and provided raw materials for later projects. His son continued his improvements and created the Catalina Island Conservancy in order to secure protection for the island. The Wrigley Botanical Gardens on the island are a testament to their care.

William also bought a minority interest in the Chicago Cubs, the baseball team. As Charles Weeghman, another investor, had to back away from the team, Wrigley bought his shares. By 1921, he was the principal owner and the ballpark in which they play today is named Wrigley Field in honor of him. Wrigley was also the owner of the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. The Wrigley Mansion is nearby and was the smallest of Wrigley’s five residences with “only” 16,000 square feet under roof. It was here that Wrigley died in 1932 at the age of 70.

Anyone can make gum. Selling it is the problem.

Everybody likes something extra, for nothing.

Make a good product at a fair price – then tell the world.

Business is built by men who care – care enough to disagree, fight it out to a finish, get the facts. – all from William Wrigley, Jr.

 

September 29

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 29, 2017

1789: The First United States Congress adjourns. This first Congress (House of Representatives and Senate) had no political parties as these were not yet established. Historians divide them into Pro- and Anti-Administration. They first met at Federal Hall in New York City and would later move to the Congress Hall in Philadelphia. They convevned on March 4, 1789 and there were three sessions prior to the new elections bringing in the Second Congress. Their first session ended on this day when they adjourned until January 4, 1790. The second session ended on August 12 and the third began on December 6 with the Second Congress beginning on March 4, 1791, thus ending the third session the day before.

During this first session of Congress, they reached a quorum and elected officers in both chambers and then held a joint assembly in which to count Electoral College votes and certify George Washington was unanimously elected President. They were able to pass several pieces of legislation stipulating the workings of the new nation. Many of these had to do with administration of the government and funding of the institutions. They created the United States Department of State as well as the Department of War and Department of the Treasury. The Judiciary Act of 1789 created courts, district attorneys and the Attorney General.

Prior to their adjournment, Congress approved 12 amendments to the US Constitution and submitted them to the state legislatures for ratification. The first of these articles has never been ratified. The second article became the 27th Amendment in 1992 (pay for Congress), and the other ten amendments were ratified on December 15, 1791 and are known today as the Bill of Rights. The only new state in 1789 was North Carolina which entered the Union on November 21, the 12th state to ratify the Constitution.

On March 4, there were 20 Senators (two spots vacant) and by the end of the First Congress there were 26 seats. The majority of senators were Pro-administration (69.2%). The House of Representatives began with 59 members and ended with 64. They, too were Pro-Administration (56.3%). John Adams was President of the Senate with President pro tempore held by John Langdon. Speaker of the House was Frederick Muhlenberg. Senators were elected for two year terms, with one-third given a six year term with each Congress. The House of Representatives members are based on state populations and Virginia had the most seats with ten. Massachusetts and Pennsylvania both had eight members. Rhode Island had a single representative. There were zero non-voting members. Today’s US Congress is made up of 100 Senators, 435 Representatives, and 6 non-voting members.

Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it. – Mark Twain

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. – Winston Churchill

The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government. – Thomas Jefferson

No man is good enough to govern another man without the other’s consent. – Abraham Lincoln

 

 

September 28

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 28, 2017

235: Pope Pontian resigns. Nothing is known of his early life, but it is thought he was born around the year 200. He became the 18th Pope in the new Christian religion, still sometimes at odds in the Roman empire. Pontian followed Pope Urban I taking his position on August 21, 230. His early pontificate was peaceful under Emperor Severus Alexander. Origen was a Greek Christian, ascetic, and scholar whose theology was inconsistent with early teachings. Pontian likely presided over a Roman synod, condemning Origen. Severus died in March 235 and was replaced by Maximinus Thrax who did not agree with leniency towards Christians. He had Pope Pontian, and the Antipope Hippolytus exiled to Sardinia’s work camps, a death sentence. Pontian resigned his papacy in order to allow a new Pope to be easily elected.

Hippolytus of Rome was born in 170 and was the most important theologian in the Christian Church in the third century. He was one of the elders of the Greek portion of the new Christian religion and Pope Zephyrinus (199-217) came under his accusations for modalism, a heresy which denied the absolute Trinity of God, stating Father and Son were just different names of the same being. Origen was one of Hippolutus’s disciples. Hippolytus was conservative and was scanalized when Pope Calliztus (217-222) granted absolution to sinners, including adulterers. Hippolytus continued to be critical of the next Popes as well. He was so incensed by the Leaders of his Church, that he allowed himself to be elected a rival Bishop of Rome.

Both men were sent to the mine in Sardinia to be worked to death. It has been assumed both men died in the mines but that a reconciliation had been achieved. Pope Fabian (236-250) brought the bodies of both men back to Rome and had them reburied on August 13, 236, giving them a Christian burial. Pontian was buried in the papal crypt in the Catacomb of Callixtus on the Appian Way. The marker over his tomb was found in 1909 and was engraved in Greek with the message that it contained Ponianus, Bishop. In a different hand “Martyr” was inscribed. Hippolytus was buried in a cemetery on the Via Tiburtina and his inscription gives his rank as a priest, suggesting the schism had been resolved.

Maximinus Thrax was the 27th Roman Emperor and ruled during the Crisis of the Third Century. Alexander was assassinated by his own troops and Maximinus came to power as the Empire was wracked by invasions, civil war, plague, and economic depression. The fifty years after Alexander had 26 claimants to the title of Emperor, most of them prominent Roman generals. This was the case for Maximinus who was born into a low status family, considered to be barbarous, and earned his way to the top via the Roman army. He ruled over the empire until early May 238. He died at Aquileia as he was attempting to quash a Senatorial revolt.

Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life. – Buddha

Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays. – Soren Kierkegaard

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. – Dalai Lama

To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing. – Martin Luther

 

 

September 27

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 27, 2017

1854: SS Arctic sinks. She was built by the Collins Line, an American shipping company founded in 1818 and famous for transatlantic ship building. They were comparable to the Cunard line of Britain. At the time, both companies were bringing cargo and passengers across the Atlantic Ocean using steamships. The Arctic was a nearly 3,000 ton paddle steamer which was completed in 1850, going into service in October of that year. The ship was 284 feet long and was carrying about 400 people aboard, 250 passengers and 150 crew, on this fateful day. She was on a crossing to New York from Liverpool. Arctic was famous for her speed and luxury of accommodations.

It was just after noon and foggy as the Arctic was traveling about 50 miles off the coast of Newfoundland. The SS Vesta, a smaller French ship was a propeller driven, iron-hulled steamship, weighing only 250 tons and measuring just 152 feet long. The two ships collided and a ten foot section of Vesta’s bow was sheared off. The much larger ship seemed to have sustained little damage. Vesta’s watertight bulkhead behind the bow remained intact. James Luce, Captain of the Arctic, had initially turned to help rescue Vesta but then soon found out his own ship had sustained damage.

Vesta had struck the starboard side of the ship, between the bow and the paddle wheel. The impact had the passengers feeling just a slight bump, but soon it was found that debris from Vesta’s iron stem as well as the anchor were impaled in Arctic’s wooden hull, creating a substantial hole about 18 inches above the waterline. The ship was taking on water as there were also two breaches below the waterline and the ship started to list. Luce made a decision to head for land as quickly as possible with pumps trying to get rid of the onrush of water.

It was unsuccessful and as the crisis loomed, the call to abandon ship was given. The crew lowered the lifeboats, which had only enough capacity to hold about half the number of people aboard ship. They then got into the boats and as panic ensued, able bodied men were able to push through the crowds and also enter the boats. Some of the crew attempted to build a raft prior to the ship’s sinking. The ship sank in about four hours. Luce went down with the ship, but was able to swim up to the surface and use debris as a raft. Only 88 people survived, 24 male passengers and 61 crew. All women and children aboard died. Only two of the six lifeboats made it to safety while a third one was picked up at sea, as were some of those stranded in the icy waters. No one was called to account for the disaster. This and a few more maritime disasters led to the Collins Line going out of business in 1858.

If you ever wish to cross the Atlantic, you will find in the Arctic one of the noblest of ships, and in Captain Luce one of the best of commanders. – from Harper’s New Monthly Magazine

[We heard} one fearful shriek, and saw the passengers swept forward against the smokestack, and then all was over. – Paul Grann, a survivor in one of the lifeboats

A most awful and heart-rending scene presented itself to my view—over two hundred men, women and children struggling together amidst pieces of wreck of every kind, calling on each other for help, and imploring God to assist them. Such an appalling scene may God preserve me from ever witnessing again. – Captain Luce, after surfacing (and having lost his son to the drag of the waters)

The whole time I had been in the water I had not eaten a particle of anything or drank a drop … my sight had become so dim that I could not perceive objects a few feet off, even the ghastly faces of the dead that looked up at me from under the raft … – Peter McCabe, a survivor

 

 

September 26

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 26, 2017

1910: Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai is arrested. He was born in Travancore, a Kingdom at what is today the southern tip of India. In the early 19th century, Travancore became a princely state of the British Empire and was the second most prosperous princely state in British India. They were noted for achievements in education, political administration, public works, and social reforms before India was released from British rule in 1947. Travancore remained a separate Kingdom until 1949 when it joined India proper.

Pillai was the youngest son of his family with his father being a temple-priest. The patriarch of the Pillai family had once saved the life of Prince Marthanda Varma. When Marthanda became Maharaja of Travancore, he gifted the family a 50 acre tract of land and a 12-room mansion as well as other privileges. SR Pillai was born more than 100 years later, but the family fortunes were still intact. Pillai was educated in both English and Royal schools. He was a rather shy student and used his time reading. He passed his matriculation exam at the age of 14. All his reading led to an interest in journalism and newspapers.

While studying, he became friends with and received guidance from many of the newspapermen of the region. He was encouraged to submit his own writing to the papers. His obsession with writing angered his family and even though he would have preferred to further his education in journalism, his family insisted he give it up. Pillai continued to write, and his friends believed he should edit an already established paper. Although he tried to both hold down this job as well as attend school, he was forced to abandon family support to follow his dream. Without family money, he had to take a job, but managed to finish his education.

Pillai was able to write for some of the more progressive papers in the kingdom and wrote against the age-old customs he felt were maladaptive in an emerging social system. Travancore was steeped in the caste system and he raged against all it entailed. He took over the editorship of a journal called Swadeshabhimani. The paper was noted for progressive thoughts and he published an article accusing the Dewan of immorality and corruption. He went on to criticize the Maharaja. On this day, the paper’s offices were sealed and their printing press was secured. Pillai was arrested. He was exiled and eventually his family moved with him to Madras. As a side note, the printing press was returned to the newspaper owner’s family in 1957. Pillai continued to write from exile and was the author of more than twenty books.

The monarchs believe and force others to believe that they are God’s representatives or incarnations. This is absurd. Did God create a special kind of dog to be the king of dogs, or a special kind of elephant to rule over all elephants? – Ramakrishna Pillai

The rightful claim to dissent is an existential right of the individual. – Friedrich Durrenmatt

May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion. Dwight D. Eisenhower

In the end it is worse to suppress dissent than to run the risk of heresy. – Learned Hand

 

September 25

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 25, 2017

1956: TAT-1 opens for use. TAT-1 or Transatlantic No. 1, was the first submarine transatlantic telephone cable system. The cable ran from Oban, Scotland, to Clarenville, Newfoundland. Between 1955 and 1956, two cables were laid down, one for each direction. Each line could carry 35 simultaneous telephone calls and a 36th line was able to carry up to 22 telegraph lines. The first transatlantic telegraph cable had been laid nearly a century earlier. Finished in 1858, it ran for only a month, but was replaced by a new and improved line in 1866. Radio based transatlantic phone service began in 1927. It was a bit expensive, coasting £9 for three minutes. In the US, it was about $45 for those three minutes or about $615 today. Even at that price, they handled about 300,000 calls per year.

A telephone cable was discussed during that time, but the technology was not yet developed. It would take until the 1940s for the needed components to be available. Coaxial cable had been invented back in 1880 by English engineer Oliver Heaviside. The gutta-percha insulation, a latex based product, was used for the underwater telegraph cables and led to the collapse of the supply through unsustainable harvesting. A new product was needed and it came in the form of polyethylene insulation. This is, today, the most commonly used plastic in the world and was prepared by accident in 1898. It wasn’t industrially practically produced until 1933 and was greatly improved upon by 1939.

While the cable itself was important, more was needed. Reliable vacuum tubes were needed for the submerged repeaters. Transistors were not used in this cable as they were of relatively new construction and their efficacy was uncertain. It was also needed to have a general improvement in the carrier equipment overall. The project got underway when an agreement was struck between the General Post Office of the United Kingdom and the American Telephone and Telegraph company along with the Canadian Overseas Telecommunications Corporation. The share split was for the British to have 40%, the Americans have 50%, and the Canadians to have 10%. The total cost was about £120 million or about £2.35 billion today.

The cables were laid mostly by HMS Monarch and at each end, there had to be systems built to carry messages to and from the transatlantic cables. On this day, 588 London-US calls and 119 London-Canada calls were placed. The original 36 channels were 4 kHz and they were able to increase to 48 channels by narrowing the bandwidth to 3 kHz. Later, three more channels were added by using C Carrier equipment. By 1960, using newer technology, they were up to 72 speech circuits. The cable was so successful that more of cables were laid and TAT-1 was retired in 1978. In 2006, it was recognized as an IEEE Milestone.

Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success. – Paul J. Meyer

The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said. – Peter Drucker

Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill. – Buddha

Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language. – Walt Disney

 

 

September 24

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 24, 2017

1852: Henri Giffard flies. The French engineer was born in 1825, in Paris. He invented a steam injector engine to power his airship. This type of engine pushed cold water into a boiler against its own pressure and used its own exhaust as power. While this seems to be a perpetual motion machine, thermodynamics holds the explanation. His airship or dirigible weight over 400 pounds and was the world’s first passenger carrying airship. His engine was able to deliver 3 hp and made the craft steerable. On this day he traveled from Paris to Elancourt, but was unable to return because he did not have enough power to drive against the wind. The 18 miles journey was able to prove the craft could make turns and was under his control.

In 1670, Jesuit priest Francesco Lana de Terzi, proposed a theoretical airship for the first time. His ship had four copper spheres completely emptied of air which would raise the ship. This was never built and still cannot be built today because the spheres would collapse from air pressure unless they were so thick, the ship would be too heavy to lift. The theory, however, remains possible. Others kept trying to come up with a way for mankind to fly.  There are rigid, semi-rigid, and non-rigid airships today and all of them must have certain components to be classified as an airship. They must have an envelope in which lifting gas is contained. They must also have a gondola for the crew and passengers and there must be a propulsion system which can be controlled.

Rigid airships have a rigid framework and can be built to any size. Semi-rigid ships have some supporting structure but the main envelope is held in shape by internal pressure. Non-rigid airships are called blimps and rely entirely on internal pressure to keep the envelope expanded. It can have only one envelope, unlike the other two types which can have compartmentalized envelopes. Blimps usually have “ballonets” containing air which are filled at sea level, but that air is expelled at altitude via pressure valves. The process is reversed while landing.

After Giffard’s success, improvements in airships was swift. A decade later, Solomon Andrews offered his newer design to the US for use in the Civil War. More experimentation changed the way lift was used to help provide propulsion. Twenty years after Giffard’s steam engine worked, Paul Haenlein included an internal combustion engine in his ship.  Airships were used in both world wars but since then they are no longer used for major cargo or passenger transport. Giffard was appointed a Chevalier in the Legion d’honneur in 1863. His eyesight failed as he aged and as a response to this, he committed suicide in 1882 at the age of 58. He left his estate to France for humanitarian and scientific purposes.

The sky is an infinite movie to me. I never get tired of looking at what’s happening up there. – K. D. Lang

Look at the sky. We are not alone. The whole universe is friendly to us and conspires only to give the best to those who dream and work. – A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

No one is free, even the birds are chained to the sky. – Bob Dylan

This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet. – Rumi

 

 

September 23

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 23, 2017

2008: Finland suffers the second school shooting in less than a year. Matti Juhanni Saari was a 22 year old studying at the Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences. The university is spread out over six municipalities of Southern Ostrobothnia and has a total student population of around 4,800 and a staff of 380. The shootings took place at the Kauhajoki School of Hospitality where Saari was enrolled. The University and the Seinäjoki Vocational Education Centre – Sedu shared the campus and facilities.

Saari was born in 1986 and was a second year student working in hospitality management. He had joined the Finnish Army in 2006 and was thrown out after only a month after firing his weapon during a woodland exercise, against orders. He was said to have been bullied in high school and had dropped out for that reason and a friend reported that Saari had been seeing a psychologist in the months leading up to the shooting as he was obsessed with guns and violence.

He entered the building via the basement at 10.40 AM local time. There were about 200 students in the building at that time. He was armed with a Walther P22 Target semi-automatic pistol and had homemade Molotov cocktails with him. He was dressed in dark clothing and wearing a ski mask. He was said to be very prepared and calm as he carried out these atrocities. He entered a room where students were taking an exam. According to a student who escaped, there were about 20 students in the room. Saari approached each victim individually and then shot them. There was little resistance and Saari was said to have been enjoying the proceedings.

After he shot as many people as he wanted, he doused the room in what is believed to be gasoline and lit it on fire. Before 11 AM, Saari ran down a hall and threw a Molotov cocktail into another classroom. He then shot out the windows in the main hallway. As police arrived, he shot at them. Many of the students escaped through broken windows and were injured in their attempts to flee. Saari started several more fires throughout the building. In all, 11 people were killed and another 11 were injured. Eight of the victims were female students and there was one male student, said to be a friend of Saari’s, as well. All students were in their 20s. One teacher, a male in his 50s, was also killed. Another woman was shot in the head, but survived. Most of the other injuries were minor. Students were hampered in their escape due to a river running close to the building, but there were some boats available which helped students get away from the fires. At 11.53, Saari called out and reported he had killed ten people and then shot himself. He was found still alive and taken to the hospital where he died later that evening.

Saari left notes saying he had a hatred for mankind, for the whole of the human race, and that he had been thinking about what he was going to do for years. The notes show he was very troubled and he hated everything. – police spokesperson referring to note left behind

Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy. – Aristotle

Speak when you are angry – and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret. – Laurence J. Peter

When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear. – Mark Twain

 

 

September 22

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 22, 2017

1598: Gabriel Spenser dies. Born some time around 1578, he was an Elizabethan actor who worked with some of the major theater companies in London. He worked with both Lord Chamberlain’s Men (Shakespeare’s company) and the Earl of Pembroke’s Men. He seems to have been a rather volatile young man and in December 1596 got into an argument with James Feake. They were at the house of a Shoreditch barber when they got physical. According to Spencer, Feake, the son of a goldsmith, went on the attack. He grabbed a copper candelabrum and threw it at Spencer, missing him. Spencer attacked Feake, without unsheathing his sword, but poked Feake in the eye and the sword penetrated his brain. Feake died three days later. There is no record of a punishment for this, so Spencer may have successfully argued self-defense.

Spencer was part of the cast for the new play, The Isle of the Dogs, written by Ben Jonson and Thomas Nashe. The play was considered scandalous, perhaps for satirizing both the Queen and Parliament. The play was banned, all copies destroyed and Jonson, Spencer, and one more actor, Robert Shaw, were imprisoned. Nashe escaped as did all other cast members. Records remain seeking the arrests of the rest of the cast, but nothing ever came of it. The three were released after eight weeks. In November 1597 Spencer joined a new crew, the Admiral’s Men, as a shareholder, giving him a percentage but this caused the Earl of Pembroke’s Men to file suit for breach of contract.

On this day, for reasons lost to history, Spenser and Jonson met on Hoxton fields to engage in a duel. Although Jonson wrote about it later, his only comment was that Spenser had an unfair advantage because he had a longer sword. The 26-year old playwright/actor Jonson faced the 20-year-old incensed actor Spencer who initialed the duel. Spenser was able to wound Jonson, cutting his arm. But Jonson was able to create what would later be determined to be a six inch gash along Spenser’s right flank. Spenser died of his wounds.

Jonson was arrested and confessed to the killing. He was held briefly in Newgate Prison, but was eventually released by benefit of clergy. This legal wrangling came when he read a brief bible verse, Psalm 51 – which came to be known as the “neck verse” because you could keep from being hanged by invoking it. Jonson gave up his “good and chattels” and his left thumb was branded. He was released. He went on to create many plays and  poems. He even gained royal patronage. He died in 1637 at the age of 65.

To speak and to speak well, are two things. A fool may talk, but a wise man speaks.

True happiness consists not in the multitude of friends, but in the worth and choice.

He threatens many that hath injured one. – all from Ben Jonson

O God, have mercy upon me, according to thine heartfelt mercifulness. – from Psalm 51