The following events have just one thing in common. They all occurred on
March 17th ­p; St. Patrick's Day, coming up day after tomorrow.
In 1740 English Justice of the Peace Henry Fielding ­p; that's right,
the writer chap that created Tom Jones ­p; sent a realistic-looking but
entirely phoney court summons to poet laureate Colley Cibber. The crime?
Murdering the English language.
Here in Rochester, in 1865, as the Civil War dragged on to its now inevitiable
conclusion, a St. Patrick's Day flood sent the Genesee River over its banks.
Part of the Erie Canal and much of downtown's Four Corners intersection
were under water. Area merchants saw a lot of "green" wash out
to Charlotte that St. Patrick's Day.
In 1904 on March 17th, Theodore Roosevelt made a speech attacking the abuses
of the Trusts, and referring to the new breed of reporter that investigated
those abuses. Teddy was no mean hand with a phrase ­p; think Big Stick.
But this time he reached back to John Bunyan'sPilgrim's Progress.
for inspitration. And proclaimed these reporters muckrakers.
Perhaps one of the more interesting March 17th links to follow is that of
1781. Danish poet Johannes Ewald died on that date at the too-young age
of 37. Only two years earlier he'd collaborated on an operetta called The
Fishermen. It's not performed too often. But one set of lyrics did
live on, a song with the heroic title King Christian Stood by the Lofty
Mast. It's better known today as a Danish national anthem. The
unofficial one at least. During that period in Europe it was sometimes customary
to have both a national anthem and a Song of the King. The words must have
appealed to King Christian VII, and it became his song. After all, who can
resist such catchy lyrics as, "King Christian stood by the lofty mast
in smoke and mist; his sword was hammering so hard, that the Swedes' helmets
and brains cracked". Hagar the Horrible would love it.
For Classical ninety-one five, this is David Minor.
© 1997 David Minor / Eagles Byte
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