May 31st is National Macaroon Day!
May 31, 2017 – NATIONAL AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE DAY – NATIONAL MACAROON DAY – NATIONAL SAVE YOUR HEARING DAY – NATIONAL SPEAKING IN COMPLETE SENTENCES DAY – NATIONAL SENIOR HEALTH AND FITNESS DAY
On this day:
1669 – Citing poor eyesight, Samuel Pepys records the last event in his diary.
Samuel Pepys FRS (/ˈpiːps/ PEEPS; 23 February 1633 – 26 May 1703) was an administrator of the navy of England and Member of Parliament who is most famous for the diary that he kept for a decade while still a relatively young man. Pepys had no maritime experience, but he rose to be the Chief Secretary to the Admiralty under both King Charles II and King James II through patronage, hard work, and his talent for administration. His influence and reforms at the Admiralty were important in the early professionalisation of the Royal Navy.
The detailed private diary that Pepys kept from 1660 until 1669 was first published in the 19th century and is one of the most important primary sources for the English Restoration period. It provides a combination of personal revelation and eyewitness accounts of great events, such as the Great Plague of London, the Second Dutch War, and the Great Fire of London.
On 1 January 1660 (“1 January 1659/1660” in contemporary terms), Pepys began to keep a diary. He recorded his daily life for almost ten years. This record of a decade of Pepys’s life is more than a million words long and is often regarded as Britain’s most celebrated diary. Pepys has been called the greatest diarist of all time due to his frankness in writing concerning his own weaknesses and the accuracy with which he records events of daily British life and major events in the 17th century. Pepys wrote about the contemporary court and theatre (including his amorous affairs with the actresses), his household, and major political and social occurrences.
Historians have been using his diary to gain greater insight and understanding of life in London in the 17th century. Pepys wrote consistently on subjects such as personal finances, the time he got up in the morning, the weather, and what he ate. He talked at length about his new watch (which had an alarm, a new thing at the time) which he was very proud of, a country visitor who did not enjoy his time in London because he felt that it was too crowded, and his cat waking him up at one in the morning. Pepys diary is one of the only known sources which provides such length in details of everyday life of an upper middle class man during the seventeenth century.
Aside from day to day activities, Pepys also commented on the significant and turbulent events of his nation. England was in disarray when he began writing his diary. Oliver Cromwell had died just a few years before, creating a period of civil unrest and a large power vacuum to be filled. Pepys had been a strong supporter of Cromwell, but he converted to the Royalist cause upon the Protector’s death. As such, he was on the ship that brought Charles II home to England. He gave a firsthand account of events, such as the coronation of King Charles II and the Restoration of the British Monarchy to the throne, the Anglo-Dutch war, the Great Plague, and the Great Fire of London. Pepys did not plan on other eyes ever seeing his diary, which is evident from the fact that he wrote in shorthand, and many times employed more cryptic codes (utilizing words based on Spanish, French, and Italian) when writing about his illicit affairs.
The women whom he pursued, his friends, and his dealings are all laid out. His diary reveals his jealousies, insecurities, trivial concerns, and his fractious relationship with his wife. It has been an important account of London in the 1660s. The juxtaposition of his commentary on politics and national events, alongside the very personal, can be seen from the beginning. His opening paragraphs, written in January 1660, begin:
Blessed be God, at the end of the last year I was in very good health, without any sense of my old pain but upon taking of cold. I lived in Axe yard, having my wife and servant Jane, and no more in family than us three. My wife, after the absence of her terms for seven weeks, gave me hopes of her being with child, but on the last day of the year she hath them again.
The condition of the State was thus. Viz. the Rump, after being disturbed by my Lord Lambert, was lately returned to sit again. The officers of the army all forced to yield. Lawson lie[s] still in the River and Monke is with his army in Scotland. Only my Lord Lambert is not yet come in to the Parliament; nor is it expected that he will, without being forced to it.
The entries from the first few months were filled with news of General George Monck’s march on London. In April and May of that year, he was encountering problems with his wife, and he accompanied Montagu’s fleet to the Netherlands to bring Charles II back from exile. Montagu was made Earl of Sandwich on 18 June, and Pepys secured the position of Clerk of the Acts to the Navy Board on 13 July. As secretary to the board, Pepys was entitled to a £350 annual salary plus the various gratuities and benefits that came with the job–including bribes. He rejected an offer of £1,000 for the position from a rival and soon afterwards moved to official accommodation in Seething Lane in the City of London.
Pepys stopped writing his diary in 1669. His eyesight began to trouble him and he feared that writing in dim light was damaging his eyes. He did imply in his last entries that he might have others write his diary for him, but doing so would result in a loss of privacy and it seems that he never went through with those plans. In the end, Pepys’s fears were unjustified and he lived another 34 years without going blind, but he never took to writing his diary again.
However, he dictated a journal for two months in 1669–70 as a record of his dealings with the Commissioners of Accounts at that period. He also kept a diary for a few months in 1683 when he was sent to Tangier, Morocco as the most senior civil servant in the navy, during the English evacuation. The diary mostly covers work-related matters.
Born on this day:
1919 – Robie Macauley, American editor, novelist and critic (d. 1995)
Robie Mayhew Macauley (May 31, 1919 – November 20, 1995) was an American editor, novelist and critic whose literary career spanned more than 50 years.
Robie Macauley was born on May 31, 1919 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was the older brother of the noted photographer and movie producer C. Cameron Macauley. His uncle owned and published the Hudsonville newspaper, The Ottawa Times (named for Ottawa County), and Macauley used the printing press to publish his first books of fiction and poetry. At age 18 he printed and bound a limited edition of Solomon’s Cat, a previously unpublished poem by Walter Duranty, setting the type and engraving the illustrations.
As an undergraduate at Olivet College, he was a student of Ford Madox Ford (describing him as “my first teacher and editorial mentor.”) and then won a three-year literary prize scholarship and transferred to Kenyon College to be a student of John Crowe Ransom. There he lived in a writer’s house with Robert Lowell, Peter Taylor, and Randall Jarrell. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa during February 1941, and the same year was awarded a fellowship to attend the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He graduated summa cum laude from Kenyon in June 1941.
He was drafted in March 1942 and served in World War II as a special agent in the Counterintelligence Corps (CIC) with the 97th Infantry Division, in the “Ruhr Pocket” and then in Japan after the war. On April 23, 1945 Macauley’s division helped liberate Flossenbürg concentration camp. Macauley later said, “I entered some concentration camps the day we liberated them– the most horrifying days of my life. My job was to interview survivors. Most of the bodies that I saw had been stripped and it was impossible to tell which were those of Jews and which of Christians. Nazi murder was a great leveler, fully ecumenical… Hitler’s bell tolled for all…”
Macauley wrote four autobiographical short stories based on his experiences doing intelligence work, collected in The End of Pity and Other Stories, (1957). In “A Nest of Gentlefolk,” (winner of the 1949 Furioso Prize) he describes the CIC’s futile search for Nazi war criminals in the war-ravaged town of Hohenlohe; in “The Thin Voice” he describes the unlawful murder of a Russian prisoner by American troops in Heiligenkreuz, Germany; in “The End of Pity” he tells the story of a woman’s suicide after visiting her ruined house in a combat zone in Oberkassel; and in “The Mind is its Own Place” he describes his brief post-war encounter in Karuizawa, Japan with Captain Kermit Beahan, bombardier of the bomber “The Bockscar” who released the atomic bomb over Nagasaki. Macauley described Beahan as “a young captain with a college-boy face [who] had suffered some strange mutation of feeling so deep and so destructive…”
According to Macauley’s letters archived at the University of North Carolina, while in Karuizawa he was friends with former Japanese Ambassador to the US Saburo Kurusu and German Admiral Paul Wenneker, as well as pianist Leo Sirota and artist Paul Jacoulet. He was also acquainted with former Japanese Prime Minister Prince Fumimaro Konoe, to whom he presented a copy of The Republic by Charles A. Beard. In his capacity as CIC Station Chief he supervised the arrests, on October 30, 1945 of a number of major Nazi leaders who were in hiding in Karuizawa: Dr. Franz Joseph Spahn, Nazi Gruppenleiter in Japan; Paul Sperringer, a former SS Stormtrooper and assistant to Gestapo Chief Colonel Josef Meisinger; Karl Hamel, Meisinger’s secretary; Charles Schmidt-Jucheim, a former San Francisco police officer and an ex-US Army sergeant who attended Gestapo training in Germany and renounced his US citizenship; Karlfried Graf Dürckheim, chief of the Nazi propaganda system in Japan; Heinrich Loy, a Gestapo spy who allegedly participated in the Munich Beer Hall Putsch; Dr. Karl Kindermann, Meisinger’s Jewish interpreter who was an informant for the Gestapo; Alrich Mosaner, chief of the Hitler Youth in Japan; and Otto Burmeister, chief of the Nazi education system in Japan. Most of these individuals were later released by the CIC.
Robie Macauley was awarded the Legion of Merit for his work in detaining members of the Gestapo in Japan.
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