Your Gentleman Administrator is at present attempting to catch up on his reading, as he has a pile of books that he has bought but not read stretching back to Christmas. Many of these are the product of furtleing around in second-hand bookshops every time I go on holiday. Oddly, these second-hand jaunts have led to a preponderance of books on Charles II. So that is where I’m going to begin.
In addition to this, I need to get on top of the various scribblings and notes in various and sundry notebooks that I’ve jotted down over the Summer. So an attempt to write up and rationalise my notes is on the cards. I’ve heard good things about the newest version of Zotero, so I may revisit this and the world of Firefox as well (though I prefer Safari). When I’m not in the study groove, as I has been the case recently, I find it’s even more important to capture the strands of reading that I’ve done no matter how fragmented. If I don’t then no matter how enlightening and insightful it’s gonna get lost in the mists of time before I need to call on it again. This is particularly the case when trying out a new rabbit hole of ideas, in my case trying to get my head round Cartesianism and the philosophical basis for the ‘scientific revolution’. But it wouldn’t be fun if it wasn’t challenging.
So, back to Charlie. I’ve kicked off the reading catch-up-o-thon with the slightly rose tinted and affectionate collection of correspondence that is “The Letters of Charles II” by Arthur Bryant. You can’t help but like the very human Charles that these letters, notes and speeches portray. The highlights are as always the interplay between Charles and his Chancellor, Clarendon (see here for another example). In the first of these two excerpts Charles is being held back late in an interminable Council meeting, while his new bride has just arrived in Portsmouth:
XXVII. Council Note to Clarendon, May 1662.
I shall have one conveniency in it too, that if I should fall asleep too soon when I come to Portsmouth, I may lay the fault upon my long journey.
XXVIII. To Clarendon, Portsmouth, May 21, 1662. 8 in the morning
I arrived here yesterday about two in the afternoon, and as soon as I had shifted myself, I went to my wife’s chamber, who I found in bed, by reason of a little cough, and some inclination to a fever, which was caused, as we physicians say, by having certain things stopped at sea which ought to have carried away those humours…
It was happy for the honour of the nation that I was not put to the consummation of the marriage last night; for I was so sleepy by having slept but two hours in my journey as I was afraid that matters would have gone very sleepily.
I’m quite taken with the idea of the entire country waiting in bated breath for report of Charles’ efforts in consummating his marriage and the idea that Charles was shagging for the honour of his country. The thought of that would be enough to give anyone performance anxiety…
Oh and the lavatorial humour, sweet. Nothing like early modern toilet humour.