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Old January 1st, 2017, 10:07 AM   #581

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From the previous page:

munificent adjective \myu̇-ˈni-fə-sənt\ (back-formation from munificence, from Latin munificentia, from munificus generous, from munus service, gift)

1. : very liberal in giving or bestowing : lavish

2. : characterized by great liberality or generosity

mu·nif·i·cence noun

mu·nif·i·cent·ly adverb

* * *

A bit of the history of the construction of the University of Cambridge:

Quote:
Before colleges were built, the students of the University lived in hired houses, the rents of which were determined by two of the University and two of the townsmen, and therefore the schools were, as denominated by Caius, "vagæ et conductitiæ domus urbanorum" [roughly translated: "rented houses that were spread about in the town"], and rented decenially. Under these disadvantages the University found the necessity of erecting suitable accommodations of its own; accordingly, about 1136, it commenced building proper edifices for the use of the students. And first of all, on the western side of their present site, the philosophy and civil law schools were erected, which were let at a certain payment to such as read in those faculties. In the reign of Richard the Second (1398), the divinity schools were built on the north side by Sir William Thorpe: the succeeding reign saw the completion, at the expense of the University, of the south side; and in a few years subsequently the east side was finished at the charge of Rotherham, archbishop of York. As it to this munificent patron that we owe the foundation of our public library, the account of whose original building has been so intricately interwoven with the public schools, it has been deemed requisite to describe thus briefly by whom and at what times they were constructed, particularly since more than one half of their spacious allotment has been destined, like those at Oxford, for the reception of the library treasures that they now contain.

— Charles Henry Hartshorne, The Book of Rarities in the University of Cambridge (1829)
Bonus word:

decennial adjective \di-ˈse-nē-əl\ (from Latin decennium, from decennis of 10 years, from decem ten + annus year)

1 : consisting of or lasting for 10 years

2 : occurring or being done every 10 years

decennial noun

decennially adverb


The Old Schools quadrangle, showing Rotherham's eastern front, from
Catalogus cancellariorum, 1574


Click the image to open in full size.


A much later engraving of essentially the same view

Click the image to open in full size.


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factotum noun \fak-ˈtō-təm\ (New Latin, literally, do everything, from Latin fac [imperative of facere do] + totum everything)

1 : a person having many diverse activities or responsibilities

2 : a general servant
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Old January 5th, 2017, 07:21 PM   #582

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Some anecdotes about a stout-hearted British officer in the Anglo-Zulu War:

Quote:
One of the men omitted from Greaves and Knight's excellent The Who's Who in the Zulu War is Robert Wilstone Black. The historian Sonia Clarke describes him as 'the Central Column's general factotum', and in Zulu Rising Ian Knight calls Black 'indefatigable'. Black was with Chelmsford at Isandlwana on the morning before and night after the battle, and led the first search back there in March, when a strong stench of death still hung over the place. Zulus tried to cut off his party. He returned on 15 May, but once again the Zulus fired on his patrol. Black's most celebrated moment came when he led a party of volunteers to Fugitives Drift. The bodies of his comrades Melvill and Coghill were found and buried temporarily under a pile of rocks. Then, with Zulus watching from the opposite riverbank, Black bravely instigated a search for the Queen's colour of the 24th that had been taken from the battlefield by the dead officers. It was miraculously found in its case and handed to Black, the only officer of the 24th who was present. Later, in a moving ceremony, he returned it to his regiment.

Robert Black was born in Glasgow in 1833 and commissioned in the 42nd Highlanders in 1854, serving almost immediately in the Crimean War. He later transferred into the 24th Foot and sailed with them for South Africa. During the Ninth Frontier War, 1877—78, he learned some of the Xhosa languages and acted as regimental interpreter.

Despite seeming to be everywhere, Black fought in none of the major Zulu battles. Yet on 11 January, when Sihayo's kraal was attacked in the first fighting of the war, he temporarily commanded the 3rd Regiment, Natal Native Contingent. When his men wavered, Black urged them on at the point of his sword (and some 24th bayonets). Then he got off his horse and led the fight on foot. In the close-quarter action a bullet tore his hat from his hand. Calmly, he bent down and picked it up. A few minutes later an observer recalled Black standing 'with his back to the rock and ... waving his sword when the Zulus hearing him rolled over some stones; one struck the gallant Major on the — well, not the head — and he fell to his knees and poured forth a volume of Gaelic that filled my non-coms with delight'. At Isandlwana one fateful morning Black led some of his regiment as an escort for the guns accompanying Chelmsford's column. Later, when firing was heard in the camp's direction, he urged a return to investigate. That night, as troops shakily returned in the inky darkness, he was a tower of strength. One officer wrote: 'Every now and then Black's voice would ring out, "Steady the 24th — be ready to fire a volley — and charge."' John North Crealock, usually acidic towards everyone, was generous in his praise of a man he called 'energetic and plucky and liked by the men ...' Later in the war, as the columns converged on Ulundi, the Zulu capital, Crealock once again praised Black for his 'initiative' while 'keeping our right flank open'. Hamilton-Browne, one of the tough NNC officers, described him as 'brave as his own sword ... but with a temper, well may I say it, just a little peppery'.

His reputation enhanced by the Zulu campaign, Black held various peacetime military commands across the Empire until his retirement in 1899. He died ten years later.

— William Wright, Warriors of the Queen: Fighting Generals of the Victorian Age (2014)

Click the image to open in full size.

Monument at Isandlwana
Image Credit: Tim Brown

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candent adjective \ˈkan-dənt\ (Latin candent-, candens, present participle of candēre to shine)

: glowing from or as if from great heat
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Old January 28th, 2017, 09:48 AM   #583

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James Elkins, art critic and art historian, describes the work of Monet in the opening of a book in which he uses the language of alchemy to help us understand the art of painting.


Quote:
Painting is alchemy. Its materials are worked without knowledge of their properties, by blind experiment, by the feel of the paint. A painter knows what to do by the tug of the brush as it pulls through a mixture of oils, and by the look of colored slurries on the palette. Drawing is a matter of touch: the pressure of the charcoal on the slightly yielding paper, the sticky slip of the oil crayon between the fingers. Artists become expert in distinguishing between degrees of gloss and wetness—and they do so without knowing how they do it, or how chemicals create their effects.

Monet's paintings are a case in point. They seem especially simple to many people, as if Monet were the master of certain moods—of moist bluish twilight or candent yellow beaches—but nothing more: as if he had no sense that painting could be anything but a method for fixing light onto canvas. In his singleminded pursuit of the grain and feel of light, he seems to forget who he is, and who he is painting. He has only a weak attachment to people, and he treats the figures who stray into his pictures as if they were colored dolls instead of friends and relatives. Instead, his attention is riveted to the blurry shapes that come forward through the imperfect atmosphere, and on the shifting tints of light that somehow congeal into meadows and oceans and haystacks. In that respect Monet's paintings are masterpieces of repression, keeping every thought quiet in order to concentrate on light: in order to pretend that there is nothing in the world—to borrow a phrase of Philip Larkin's—but the wordless play of "any-angled light," congregating endlessly on shadowed cliffs and ocean waves.

Recently, art historians have learned to see that more is happening, and that Monet tried to give his paintings the sense of freedom and civility that he thought was appropriate to bourgeois society. He painted contemporary scenes, recent technology such as steamboats, and the life of leisure that he valued most. But still the idea persists that Monet is "just an eye," as Cézanne said, and for good reason: his paintings are ravishing, even for people who don't particularly like glaring multicolored sunlight or soggy green gardens. These days, art historians are apt to be a little indifferent to Monet's eye, and the Impressionists can easily seem less interesting than the generations before them, who were tortured by history and the pressure of great painting, or the generations that followed, with their pseudoscientific and mystical preoccupations. A large part of that lack of engagement on the part of historians comes from Monet's technique itself: the paintings seem so obviously daubed, as if his only thought for the canvas was to cover it with paint as efficiently as possible. It can look as if he allowed one stroke for a leaf, another for a flower, and so on, building up meadows and forest through a tedious repetition.

— James Elkins, What Painting Is (1999)
Elkins then goes on to show that the appearance of simple daubing in Monet's work is deceptive, and that when attempting to copy Monet, he learned that the technique takes considerable skill.



Click the image to open in full size.

Étretat: The Beach and the Falaise d'Amont
by Claude Monet (1885)

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insipience noun \ ə̇n-ˈsip-ē-ən(t)s\ (Middle English, from Middle French, from Old French, from Latin insipientia folly, from insipient-, insipiens insipient + -ia)

: lack of intelligence; stupidity; folly
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Old January 28th, 2017, 12:53 PM   #584

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"on - well, not the head" - no wonder he got so peppery!
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Old March 18th, 2017, 07:49 AM   #585

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Here we have an excerpt from a book written by Thomas Ashe, who styled himself 'Captain.' According to what I've been able to find out about him, Ashe was, not to put too fine a point on it, a scoundrel. He did live a rather interesting life, travelling extensively, swindling and embezzling, and wrote about 20 books. In the quote he describes an encounter with some Indians that occurred as he travelled along the Great Miami River in Ohio.

"Captain Thomas Ashe (83rd Foot Regiment)" | Ashe Family

"Thomas Ashe" | Glasnevin Heritage (Facebook)

Quote:
I soon came up to a small Indian camp of three tents, and a fire already prepared. I alighted, and advanced with affability and confidence to the oldest man of the party, who gave me his hand with much courtesy, and afterwards offered me his pipe with an expression of great kindness. I received it as the calumet of peace, and entered into an alliance of friendship, the violation of which, on either side, according to the Indian's own rule, "would be deserving the wrath of the Good Spirit, and the immediate punishment of Heaven."

Having fallen in such excellent company, I resolved to remain among them for the night, and, with permission, I pitched my tent, and made my fire immediately in the vicinity of the spring which the Indians had chosen for their camp. I soon discovered that the party I fell in with was a family of Mingoes—a nation formerly powerful, inhabiting the banks of the Scioto, and now attached to that river, though reduced to the small number of forty-five!

The family consisted of a father, a married son and daughter, and five of their children, one of which was at the breast, and another but three years old. They manifested no manner of surprise on my arrival, and expressed no curiosity at the sight of the objects with which I was furnished, though they differed so entirely from any they had ever before beheld. Nor was I asked from whence I came; whither I was going; or, any other question whatever. This little appetite to curiosity has exposed almost all Indian nations to the charge of stupidity and insipience of character. Never was charge more ill-founded and unjust. Their apparent want of curiosity is the result of habit growing out of maxims, and the first instructions of their youth—which tend to suppress idle enquiries.

After a very interesting conversation with Onamo, the head, I retired to rest, and reposed with the utmost peace, security, and confidence.

— Thomas Ashe, Travels in America, Performed in the Year 1806 (1809)

Click the image to open in full size.

Logan, Mingo leader

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monition noun \mō-ˈni-shən, mə-\ (Middle English monicioun, from Anglo-French monicion, from Latin monition-, monitio, from monēre warn)

1. : warning, caution

2. : an intimation of danger
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