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      • Peter the Great's fool
        02/29/08
        Often by Peter's side at table, and in his cups, was to
        be seen an individual addressed as the "Patriarch of
        Russia," and sometimes as the "King of Siberia." He
        was attired in sacerdotal robes, and covered with loosely-
        hung gold and silver medals, which

      • Prince of Wales and a German oboe player
        02/23/08
        Another joke was played off upon poor Fischer
        by the Prince of Wales this merrymaking season,
        to this effect: after the concert, which Fischer
        attended twice a week at Richmond or at Kew,
        wherever the King and Queen were, he used eagerly
        to seize upon the supper before he we

      • Wolfgang Mozart at the opera
        02/19/08
        Mozart once created quite a sensation in a theater he
        was visiting. It was at Marseilles. He had gone to
        the opera incognito to hear one of his own works performed.
        All went well till, in a certain passage, through
        some error in the copyist, the orchestra played "D"
      • Spartan Soldier's Wit
        02/19/08
        Just before the battle of Thermopylae, a Spartan
        soldier came and reported, that the Persians were
        so numerous, that their clouds of arrows darkened the
        sun. 'So much the better,' said Leonidas,' for we
        shall fight in the shade.'

        From The Flowers o

      • General Grant and a rebel's knapsack
        02/18/08
        The day before General Grant attacked Fort Donelson, the troops had had a march of twenty miles, part of it during a bitter cold night. Grant called a council of war to consider whether they should attack the fort at once, or should give the troops a day or two of rest. The officers were in favor of

      • Gonella, a jester of Borda, Duke of Ferrara
        02/18/08
        "For the love of the saints, give a poor blind man alms!"

        "Pray pity the poor blind; and Heaven preserve your
        precious eyesight!"

        "Born blind, gracious signer; bestow your charity on
        one who never saw light!"

        Thus prayed thre

      • Scogan - a Jester to Edward VI (Edward Tudor)
        02/17/08
        Among the practical jokes of this court fool I recognize
        many that really belong to a much earlier period, and
        which must have been current as " stories" at the time
        they are narrated as having been performed by Scogan
        himself. The following, however, is said to be prop

      • Mozart's memory
        02/13/08
        Part of the service used in the Pope's chapel at Rome
        is sacredly guarded and kept with great care in the
        archives of the chapel. Any singer found tampering
        with this "Miserere" of Allegri, or giving a note of it to an
        outsider, would be visited by excommunication.

      • Queen Elizabeth's Court Jester
        02/07/08
        In 1583 Sir Francis Walsingham introduced the celebrated Dick Tarleton to the Queen, and he soon became one of the most popular comedians in London and was appointed to the "high and honourable" office of Court jester to her Highness. Several robes were purchased for him in Paris, to appe

      • Spartan army on the march - friend or foe
        02/06/08
        Agesilaus, intending to march through Macedonia,
        sent to ask the king of that country whether
        he intended to receive him as a friend or an
        enemy. " I will consider," he replied. "Then,"
        said the Spartan, "do you think about it, and
        we meanwhile will

      • Mozart Anecdotes: the composition of Requiem, and how Mozart died
        02/04/08
        The bodily frame of Mozart was tender and exquisitely sensible ; ill health soon overtook him, and brought with it a melancholy approaching to despondency. A very short time before his death, which took place when he was only thirty-six, he composed that celebrated requiem, which, by an extraordinar

      • Mozart Anecdotes: the composition of Don Giovanni
        02/04/08
        The most celebrated of Mozart's Italian operas is
        Don Juan, which has recently been performed with so
        much applause in London. The overture was composed
        under very remarkable circumstances. Mozart was much
        addicted to trifling amusement, and was accustomed to
        indul

      • Genealogy hunter: A court jester's wizdom.
        02/04/08
        Frederick of Saxony, surnamed the Sage, rendered his claim to this title doubtful, by his attention to the descent of his family. A celebrated genealogist had told him, that a copy of his pedigree was preserved in Noah's ark. To substantiate this account, the prince neglected all affairs of sta

      • Queen Elizabeth: Tudor humor
        02/04/08
        Queen Elizabeth seeing a disappointed courtier walking with a melancholy face in one of her gardens, asked him, "What does a man think of when he thinks of nothing? " " Of a woman's promises!" was the reply ; to which the Queen returned,''I must notconfute you, S

    • January
  • 2007