Let us pause in the events of our busy lives to pay homage to a trio of birthday boys.
Otto von Bismarck is considered by many historians to be the single most influential person of the 19th century. When he became Chancellor of Prussia in 1830 (you’ll doubtless recall) Germany was nothing more than a collection of weak, divided city-states, with no common vision or goals for the future. By the time of Bismarck’s retirement in 1890, a united Germany was the most powerful state in Europe. But he is perhaps best remembered today for his pithy quotes, including:
“Politics is the art of the possible.”
“To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making.”
And my favorite:
“I have seen three emperors in their nakedness, and the sight was not inspiring.”
Meanwhile in Russia, a young pianist and composer was beginning his career. Sergei Rachmaninoff was one of the last great composers of Romantic Russian music, but I prefer to remember him as the first rock star. After all, Sergei married his cousin and died in Beverly Hills. Is it any wonder that some (well, me) refer to him as the “Jerry Lee Lewis of Russia”?
Lastly, spare a thought for William Harvey, physician to two Kings and author of “De Motu Cordis” (otherwise known as “On the Motion of the Heart and Blood”) in which he described the circulation of blood in the human body. Seems obvious now, but in 1628, this was quite a big deal. Dr. Bill was a heavy drinker of coffee and suffered from insomnia, but apparently he didn’t have time to make that connection.
Happy Birthday, Lads.
A Note To Readers of the RonnBlog
As many of you know, I am about to complete my 26th year as an Independent Consultant, Bon Vivant and Man of Letters. It has been a wonderful ride, but the time has come to try something new. I have decided to end this phase of my career and begin a new chapter, one that combines two of my great passions: canoeing and haiku. Thank you all for your support, and watch these pages for updates on my new adventure.
Today’s Fact Cetera
The first literary reference of April Fools’ Day dates back to 1392.