The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

January 27, 2017

January 27, 1699

Sir William Temple (April 25, 1628 to January 27, 1699) was an English statesman. He for instance negotiated the marriage of the couple who would later rule England as "William and Mary."

That was after his succeeded in his own courtship of Dorothy Osborne. We read in her ODNB article of some obstacles to that match:

[T]heir lengthy courtship began [in the middle of the English civil war]. There were oppositions on both sides. In part Dorothy's father objected to her marrying the son of Sir John Temple, master of the rolls in Ireland, seen by some as willing to serve irrespective of the politics of the administration. But her father had also hoped for a more lucrative match for Dorothy to restore the family finances which had been much depleted after the heavy fines imposed by the parliamentary government.

Temple wrote among much, an essay on "ill sounds," which we found in Memoirs of the Life, Works, and Correspondence of Sir William Temple Bart...(1836, edited by Thomas Peregrine Courtenay). He starts by pointing to the way men argue, and then uses as examples sounds he dislikes.

.....What hounds are we, that with our noses grovelling on the earth and sensible objects, presume to trace that eternal order and series of things, which though it soon leaves us at a loss yet mounts up by the links of a certain chain, the end of which is in the hand of its Maker! ..... Indeed, I distaste and avoid nothing more than a swelled style, having observed it commonly proceeds from a swelled mind (which makes scholars and youth its only patrons), and that naturally the emptiest things make the greatest sound: in heaven's thunder the vapour, in earth's thunder the powder only, make the noise; while the bolt and the bullet pass silently, but give the blow. Metals that have most pores give most sound, fools the greatest talkers; and I have seldom heard a man speak very loud and much to the purpose; though I must confess myself no competent judge, having a general and innate aversion from a loud voice. This makes me much more apprehensive of provoking a woman than a man, as who without difficulty would choose rather to be beaten than rated? ..... I hate a loud beggar, because he robs me of my money and my charity too, which is lost by proceeding from a desire to relieve myself and not him, from compassion for my own worth, and not of his misery. It is at most men's ears as at their doors, which are opened to them that knock loudest, not to them who come first or have most business. Yet reason is on their side ...There are no soldiers like the Germans where the interest of the army is, in a dark engagement to make a few seem many; where to talk with a good will they may well pass for 100. Flemish is a lower, yet to my ear a worse sound; I never could esteem any woman handsome while she spoke [it], and I believe the ladies are generally conscious of it, for in company none of them will ever use it: the tone is the more displeasing, because it sounds as if they who speak it were always displeased, and something arrogant withal. They talk as if a man owed them money and would not pay them. To conclude with ill sounds, — if I were to make a concert of music to entertain the devil, it should be composed of a child, a cat, a screech-owl, [and] an ass...

Temple's last secretary was Jonathan Swift, who adored him.

No comments: