Monday August 25, 1952:
After breakfast we purchased tickets for the South Pacific play the hard way by waiting in long lines. Then I was off to shop with L.O. on Oxford Street. I tried to get my shoe fixed unsuccessfully and then we were off to the British Museum, which had collections of history and culture. At the museum we saw famous musicians and writers. It was such a thrill!
At the museum I examined documents and writings by Matthew Arnold’s Sonnet on Shakespeare in his own writing; Thomas Hardy, an English novelist and poet; Henry James, American-born writer; R. L. Stevenson, Scottish novelist, poet, essayist and travel writer; Oscar Wilde, Irish writer and poet; William Butler Yeats, an Irish poet and playwright; Keats, an English romantic poet; and Shaw, a Scottish architect; Kipling’s poem Recessional, an English writer and poet; Hyperion, novel by Friedrich Hölderlin; When the Lamp is Shattered by Mary Shelley, a British novelist. I found letters by Carlyle, Scottish satirical writer; letters by Darwin, English naturalist; original expedition diaries by Captain Scott, an English Royal Navy officer and explorer; manuscript by Beowolf , an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet; personal log book of H.M.S. Victory, Horatio Nelson; small box of victory containing human hair; and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, father of English literature and greatest English poet of the Middle Ages. I ended up buying a post card of Shaw’s work.
Soon after I identified historical autographs of the Royalty: Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey, rulers from Mary Queen of Scotts to Queen Elizabeth, Benjamin Disraeli, and Queen Victoria. Finally, I got to look over the seal of Royalty, Magna Carta from 1215, Shakespeare deed, marble statue of Shakespeare, Paleolithic Art, Stone Age art from England, recent acquisitions from recent diggings in Yorkshire, weapons from Indonesia, Java masks, Turkish pottery, Persian arms, Rosetta stone, model of the Pantheon Iris, beat up statue showing battle between the Centurion and the Lapith in mythology, and sword and scabbard from Romans advancement into Yorkshire. Wow! That sure was interesting.
Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII, ruled England and Ireland from 1533-1603. The Spanish Armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England in 1588, with the intention of overthrowing Elizabeth I of England. This offensive did not succeed.
Later on Charles I was King of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1600 until his execution in 1649. And Louis XIV reigned France from 1638-1715 and it was the longest documented reign of any European monarch.
Cromwell was one of the commanders of the New Model Army which defeated the royalists in the English Civil War. After the execution of King Charles I in 1649, Cromwell dominated the short-lived Commonwealth of England, conquered Ireland and Scotland, and ruled as Lord Protector from 1653 until his death in 1658. A political crisis that followed the death of Cromwell in 1658 resulted in the restoration of the monarchy, and Charles II was invited to return to Britain and ruled till 1685.
After James II ruled from 1685-1688, the English Parliament offered the Crown to his Protestant daughter Mary in 1689 who jointly ruled with her husband, William II. However, Parliament started to become the ruling power during these events and slowly over time started to limit the power of the English monarchy.
In 1707, the flag, the Union Jack, was chosen for the soon to be unified Kingdom of Great Britain. And the United Kingdom came into being with only one crown. In 1760 George III became King and led for 60 years to 1820. At this same time the Industrial Revolution began in Britain and spread to the rest of the world during the 18th and 19th century. Then the American Revolution began with a political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire. These colonies became the United States of America in 1776. This revolutionized British Colonial policy. William Pitt was a British Whig statesman who led Britain during this time. George IV became King of Britain from 1762-1830.
After the museum we found a funny little cafeteria café. Unfortunately, Carol had left her camera at the hotel. I tried to call American Express to see if we had any mail and can you believe the phone was out of order. After several tries we gave up and caught a bus downtown to Piccadilly to see for ourselves.
On the bus we met lots of our crew with their arms full of purchases. Carol and I caught another bus to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Works. Carol bought some chips and offered them to a lady inside. She was quite thrilled when she found out what they were. Going back we jumped on the bus and it pulled off before L.O and Carol could get on to return. They caught up with us later.
Afterwards, we cued up for the South Pacific play. The music and play were well done. Then we went “home” past Covent Gardens. During this time L.O. and Carol took my shoe to see if they could get it fixed with no luck.