June 13, 2015

Cabinet of Curiosities

written by Rosa Morgan


If you are of a curious bent and like to collect, you might find yourself in possession of a plethora of oddities:

Birds and butterflies, which have come to their natural end, are always interesting, as you can study their winged anatomy, wondering at the beauty of flight they once possessed.


 Shells and fossils are a delight to examine.




An abandoned nest of robin's eggs with their exquisite blue or a collection of artificial eyes would provide hours of pondering. 



Perhaps, you've developed wicked skills
like pickling bats or taxidermy.


Eventually, you will need some place to put your treasures and that is where the Cabinet of Curiosities comes in. 

Old Worm, a Danish antiquarian from the 1500's, created a catalog  and made engravings for his specimens. From studying his collection, he concluded that unicorns don't really exist!
 
And that the magical horns he had bought, their price being more than their weight in gold, were actually from the narwhal.

So pry your eyes away from the screen in front of you and look to the wonders of the natural world, and maybe you too will start your own Cabinet of Curiosities.




April 11, 2015

Queen Victoria Finds Love

Below are excerpts from Queen Victoria's Letters to Her Uncle, the King of the Belgians pertaining to her Love, Prince Albert and their Eventual Nuptials
Buckingham Palace, 15th July 1839. 

My dear Uncle,  Though all the reports of Albert are most favourable, and though I have little doubt I shall like him, still one can never answer beforehand for feelings, and I may not have the feeling for him which is requisite to ensure happiness. I may like him as a friend, and as a cousin, and as a brother, but not more; and should this be the case (which is not likely), I am very anxious that it should be understood that I am not guilty of any breach of promise, for I never gave any.


Windsor Castle, 1st October 1839.

My dear Uncle, The retard of these young people puts me rather out, but of course cannot be helped. I had a letter from Albert yesterday saying they could not set off, he thought, before the 6th. I think they don't exhibit much empressement to come here, which rather shocks me.



Windsor Castle, 12th October 1839.

My dear Uncle,—... The dear cousins arrived at half-past seven on Thursday, after a very bad and almost dangerous passage, but looking both very well, and much improved. Having no clothes, they could not appear at dinner, but nevertheless débutéd after dinner in their négligé. Ernest is grown quite handsome; Albert's beauty is most striking, and he so amiable and unaffected—in short, very fascinating; he is excessively admired here.



Windsor Castle, 15th October 1839.

My dearest Uncle,  My mind is quite made up—and I told Albert this morning of it; the warm affection he showed me on learning this gave me great pleasure. He seems perfection, and I think that I have the prospect of very great happiness before me. I love him more than I can say, and I shall do everything in my power to render the sacrifice he has made (for a sacrifice in my opinion it is) as small as I can. He seems to have a very great tact—a very necessary thing in his position. These last few days have passed like a dream to me, and I am so much bewildered by it all that I know hardly how to write; but I do feel very, very happy.

My feelings are a little changed, I must say, since last Spring, when I said I couldn't think of marrying for three or four years; but seeing Albert has changed all this.


Queen Victoria to the Prince Albert.
Windsor Castle, 27th November 1839.


Dear Albert,  The English are very jealous of any foreigner interfering in the government of this country, and have already in some of the papers (which are friendly to me and you) expressed a hope that you would not interfere. Now, though I know you never would, still, if you were a Peer, they would all say, the Prince meant to play a political part. I am certain you will understand this, but it is much better not to say anything more about it now, and to let the whole matter rest. The Tories make a great disturbance (saying) that you are a Papist, because the words "a Protestant Prince" have not been put into the Declaration—a thing which would be quite unnecessary, seeing that I cannot marry a Papist....



Queen Victoria records her wedding to Prince Albert in her Journal entry of 10 February 1840.

The Ceremony was very impressive & fine, yet simple, & I think ought to make an imperishable impression on everyone who promises at the altar to keep the vows he or she have made. Albert repeated everything very distinctly. I felt so happy when he placed the ring on my finger.