Category Archives: English Language

Once upon a time . . .the Law of Fratricide

Mehmed III rid himself of 19 brothers / crowland.uw.hu

Mehmed III rid himself of 19 brothers / crowland.uw.hu

For those of you who are not entirely confident (very few indeed I should judge) in the English language there are a number of useful words that end in -cide. Parricide, patricide, matricide, fratricide and genocide are a few of them. These mean respectively the killing of one’s parents, father, mother, brother and the attempt made to kill a nation’s whole population. You can probably think of nasty examples of each. In a recent post mention is made of one of the Ottoman Sultans – Mehmed I, a.k.a. The Conquerer. This charmer made a Law which said, “To whichever of my sons the Sultunate may be granted, it is proper for him to put to death his brothers, to preserve the order of the world”. Continue reading

Lilibet – a purely American invention

Five of Carolly's inventions / o.canada.com

Five of Carolly’s inventions / o.canada.com

Intrigued by the title, ‘Lilibet’, I ordered a hard-bound first edition from my online bookshop Bibliophile (how lost I would be with it). I suppose it is a work of biography, in this case composed without the subject’s permission. The author is an American ‘PhD in Medieval History’ called Carolly Erickson. Her subject is the British Queen. Continue reading

The first volume of General-History as a book is out on Amazon

Jeremy Taylor a.k.a Dean Swift at home in Tenerife

Jeremy Taylor a.k.a Dean Swift at home in Tenerife

For those who are interested the first volume of my 3-volume printed version of articles from General-History.com is on Amazon. Just click on Books, and then key Jeremy Taylor General History and you should find the first volume on sale at around £8. Do not be confused by the name ‘Dean Swift’ – it is just one of my pen-names!

The Bard in the Bible

William Tyndale's statue: he was strangled and burned at the stake, but not in England, for heresy

William Tyndale’s statue: he was strangled and burned at the stake, but not in England, for heresy

The Bard in the Bible. Here is a mystery for Shakespeare fans and inquisitive youngsters who know what the King James Version of the Bible is. Most of the translation work commissioned by James I of England and VI of Scotland was done by William Tyndale. The English language in the King James is perhaps the finest in all English literature – including the works of Shakespeare. Tyndale’s name has never been as well-known as that of the Bard, but they were near contemporaries, and Tyndale may have been responsible for the following homage, if homage it is . . . Continue reading

Oh dear, these history books . . .

Not bad for hunchbacked, lame man with a withered arm; Richard III's last cavalry charge / historyfiles.co.uk

Not bad for hunchbacked, lame man with a withered arm; Richard III’s last cavalry charge / historyfiles.co.uk

Oh dear, these history books. An online bookseller I deal with kindly sent me a copy of a ‘book of history’ published in the United States, featuring long essays on three women – Jacquetta Duchess of Bedford, Elizabeth Woodville and Margaret Beaufort. The writers are Philippa Gregory, a historical novelist, David Baldwin and Michael Jones, history PhDs at British universities. The men write more easily and less breathlessly than the woman, but she is the more famous writer. The book has a rather stretched title – The Women of the Cousins’ War, the Duchess, the Queen and the King’s Mother.

Before reading a book I admit to the habit of flipping through the pages to see the illustrations, but unfortunately my eye was drawn towards a line of writing in one of the three biographies: Henry Tudor, the line said, defeated Richard III at Bosworth in 1485. Then I was quite unable to read the book, and it joins hundreds of other regularly dusted hardbacks in my library. Why, the blogger may ask, should I not read a book because of one rather silly and uninformed line? I believe it is because if all three historians obviously agree with the line, which is manifestly untrue, chances are that the rest of the 342-page book is as irritating, not to say exasperating and infuriating, as G.B. Shaw would say. Continue reading

The Myth of King Arthur

'King Arthur' at Camelot / wrl-inc.org

‘King Arthur’ at Camelot / wrl-inc.org

The Myth of King Arthur. Thirteenth century Europe knew much of the legends of a possibly Welsh King called Arthur, who supposedly drove away Britain’s enemies, laid the laws for honour and chivalry, surrounded himself with romantically named knights at a great Round Table, and married a beautiful but unfaithful wife called Guinevere. The myth was propagated in art and literature, exciting, inspiring and entertaining men and women everywhere from Sicily to Scotland. King Edward I of England was seduced by the stories and supposed relics of the imaginary hero. Continue reading

Who Said It? Edition No. 3

Dozens of webbers gave an answer to our last Who Said It quiz, but few got it right. The answer is Samuel Goldfish, better known as Samuel Goldwyn, the American independent film producer. Important clues were there in his sayings. ‘Who Said It’ number 3 starts here: please send your solution in the form of a Comment. Thanks from Dean.

“Protection is not a principle, but an expedient.”

“He traces the steam engine always back to the tea-kettle.” (of Sir Robert Peel)

“He has to learn that petulance is not sarcasm, and that insolence is not invective.”

“Colonies do not cease to be colonies because they are independent.”

“Change is inevitable in a progressive country. Change is constant.”

“Increased means and increased leisure are the two civilisers of man.”

“An author who speaks about his own books is like a mother talking of her children.”

“He is a great master of gibes, and flouts and jeers.” (of the Marquis of Salisbury)

“A sophistical (sic) rhetorician, inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity.” (of W.E. Gladstone)

“The practice of politics in the Far East may be defined by one word, dissimulation.”

“I believe they went out, like all good things, with the Stuarts.”

“Critics are those who have failed in literature and art.”

Some notes on the 2000 Scarlet Pimpernel series

Some notes on the 2000 TV series ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’

I have in my possession a box set of this production, the material contained in four DVD discs. The series was adapted from the books by the Baroness Orczy by Richard Carpenter, and on the whole he has not done a bad job. Where the series fails, collapses in fact, is in the casting, with one exception – Ronan Vibert.  Richard E. Grant plays Percy Blakeney, a difficult task because Blakeney must be an effeminate fop, pandering to the Prince of Wales (future George IV) in some scenes – and a highly dangerous, athletic, intelligent kind of 18th century ‘Bourne’ in others, rescuing aristos from the clutches of the French revolutionaries. Leslie Howard managed this tolerably well in a film made in the Thirties. David Niven failed completely in 1950. Grant’s problem is simply one of class. Good actor that he is, he hasn’t the right sound, looks or disdain to play an aristocrat. There are plenty of other actors who possess these essential traits – Sam West and Toby Stephens come to mind. Continue reading

Guess who said (or wrote) these things?

Give us your answers in the form of a Comment

 

“I must have a drink of breakfast.”

“Somebody left the cork out of my lunch!”

“She’s all done up like a well-kept grave.”

“I exercise extreme self control. I never drink anything stronger than gin before breakfast.”

“If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Then quit.”

“I never vote for anyone. I always vote against.”

A female neighbour rushed out to the new green lawn where our subject was engaged in shooting singing birds with an air rifle. She remonstrated. He replied, “I’ll go on shooting them till they shit green!”

Our subject said he hated all children and small animals. When questioned, he responded: “Anyone who hates small dogs and children can’t be all bad.”

And also: “A woman drove me to drink but I never had the courtesy to thank her.”

 

You can treat the last two quotations as a clue.