Category Archives: 19th century

Quotations: President Watching. (10 Quotes).

The advent of the new president changed everything. The Roosevelts transformed the White House as completely as the swift march of public thoughts and events had changed the country. No longer did the Executive Mansion resemble a medieval castle besieged by the forces of progress. The drawbridges were figuratively let down, and the moats drained of their timeworn prejudices. The archers of reaction withdrew from their turrets, and the victorious New Deal army took over the battlements.” George Abell and Evelyn Gordon, Let Them Eat Caviar, Dodge Publishing Co., New York, 1937.

“Even that son of a bitch looks impressive in that getup!” Alice Roosevelt Longworth (1884-1980), at the White House after visiting President Warren Harding in the Oval Office. Quoted in Katherine Graham’s Washington, Knopf, 2002.

Alice Roosevelt was President Teddy Roosevelt’s oldest child and the only child of Roosevelt and his first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee, who died in childbirth. Alice grew up to be an independent, unconventional and outspoken “first daughter” and was an important figure in the women’s movement in the first half of the 20th century.

Alice Longworth was perfectly realistic about Harding—and didn’t like the Republican president very much. Sen. Brandegee of Connecticut, a member of Harding’s own inner circle, called the former newspaper owner of The Marion Star, Senator from Ohio, and 29th U.S. President, “no world-beater, but he’s the best of the second-raters.”

[The Wilsons] finally settled on a house in the 2300 block of S Street, Northwest, and purchased it…[W]e rode by everyday, and the President was eager as a bridegroom about getting back to private life. He seemed to gain new strength as he shed the idea of responsibility and assumed the freedom of a civilian. But he did not forget his dreams.” Colonel Edmund W. Starling, Starling of the White House…as told to Thomas Sugrue…, Simon & Schuster.

Colonel Edmund William Starling (1875-1944) was chief of the Secret Service detail in the White House from 1914 to 1943. In his thirty years of service at the White House he was responsible for the personal safety of five President of the United States—Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Starling idolized Woodrow Wilson. His first exposure to Wilson left him “in a daze.” Born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, the posthumous book is based on over 11,000 personal letters Starling wrote over the decades, mostly to his mother back home. Starling’s ashes are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

SOURCES: http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/ewstarling.htm; https://hoptownchronicle.org/hopkinsville-native-edmund-w-starling-protected-five-presidents-as-a-secret-service-agent/

“As Senate majority leader, I participated in many private conferences with President Franklin D. Roosevelt….Usually we would talk in his bedroom at the White House, and the President, wrapped in his cherished gray bathrobe, which he clung to year after year….would interrupt work on a pile of papers and puff at a cigarette through his long ivory holder as we exchanged views.” Alben W. Barkley (1877-1956), That Reminds Me, 1954.

Senator Barkley (later Vice President Barkley under President Harry S. Truman) describes an almost iconic FDR- one can almost imagine a bespectacled 32nd president smoking a cigarette from a long cigarette (in this instance, ivory) holder and jauntily thrusting his chin forward.

Alben W. Barkley, Democrat of Kentucky, was one of the most prominent American politicians of the first half of the 20th Century. Barkley hoped expectantly to someday be the U.S. President–or at least his party’s sometime presidential nominee, particularly in 1952. The longtime majority leader of the U.S. Senate had to settle, however, for being a one-term vice-president in the executive branch. After Truman chose Barkley to be his running mate in 1948 and that ticket triumphed in one of American history’s most astounding upsets, Alben Barkley became a popular national figure known everywhere as “The Veep.” Like his Kentucky forebear Abraham Lincoln, Vice President Barkley was a noted story-teller and often started his sentence with, “And that reminds me…” 

“It was all gone now-the life-affirming, life-enhancing zest, the brilliance, the wit, the cool commitment, the steady purpose….[President Kennedy] had so little time: it was as if Jackson had died before the nullification controversy and the Bank War, as if Lincoln had been killed six months after Gettysburg or Franklin Roosevelt at the end of 1935 or Truman before the Marshall Plan.” Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917-2007) on the death of JFK. From A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House, Houghton Mifflin, 1965.

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. was an American historian who resigned from Harvard and was appointed Special Assistant to the President in the Kennedy Administration in January 1961. Per Kennedy’s desire, Schlesinger served as a sort of ad hoc roving reporter and troubleshooter on behalf of the president. In February 1961, Schlesinger was told of the plans for what developed into the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961 and wrote a memorandum to the president telling him that he opposed the action. During the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962 Schlesinger aided United Nations ambassador Adlai Stevenson on his presentation to the world body on behalf of the Kennedy Administration’s ultimately successful efforts to peacefully remove Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba. On November 22, 1963, Schlesinger had flown to New York for a luncheon with Washington Post owner Katharine Graham and the editors of her magazine, Newsweek. As they still sipped pre-luncheon libations and amiably talked about upcoming college football games that weekend, a young man in shirtsleeves suddenly entered the gathering. He tentatively announced to the group that, as Schlesinger relates in A Thousand Days, “the President has been shot in the head in Texas.”

“[George Washington’s] mind was great and powerful, without being of the very first order; his penetration strong, though not so acute as that of a Newton, Bacon, or Locke; and as far as he saw, no judgment was ever sounder. It was slow in operation, being little aided by invention or imagination, but sure in conclusion.” Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president, Letter, January 1814.

After returning from France where he served as Minister Plenipotentiary with John Adams and Benjamin Franklin in Paris in the mid-to-late 1780’s, Thomas Jefferson accepted President George Washington’s invitation to serve as the nation’s first Secretary of State in the early 1790’s. Jefferson eventually left Washington’s cabinet over his opposition to Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton’s promotion of a national debt and national bank in contrast to Jefferson’s vision of a minimalist federal government (see Joseph J. Ellis, American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson, Random House, 1998, pp. 221-222). Thomas Jefferson was elected the third president of the United States in 1800 and served two terms as president. In 1803 Jefferson transacted the Louisiana Purchase that doubled the size of the United States and in the process acquired the most fertile tract of land of its size on Earth.

“During the inaugural parade [President George H.W.] Bush kept darting in and out of his limousine…These pop-outs were much better received than the Jimmy Carter business of walking the whole parade route. We Americans like our populists in small doses and preferably from an elitist.” P.J. O’Rourke, PARLIAMENT OF WHORES, Atlantic Monthly Press, 1991.

The Bushes were a big family and family oriented. O’Rourke reported in his best-selling book that on the first night of Bush’s presidency 28 members of the Bush family spent it at the White House.

“Mr Jefferson has reason to reflect upon himself. How he will get rid of his Remorse in his Retirement I know not. He must know that he leaves the government infinitely worse than he found it and that from his own Error or Ignorance. I wish his Telescopes and Mathematical Instruments, however, may secure his Felicity. But If I have not mismeasured his Ambition, he will be uneasy, and the Sword will cutt away the Scabbard. As he has, however a good Taste for Letters and an ardent curiosity for Science, he may and I hope will find Amusement and consolation from them: for I have no resentment against him, though he has honoured and Salaried almost every Villain he could find who had been an Enemy to me.” Former president John Adams (1735-1826), at Quincy, letter to Benjamin Rush, April 18, 1808.

The punctuation and capitalization are Adams’ original. see– https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/99-02-02-5238

John Adams (1735-1826), the second president of the United States, a Federalist, and Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), a Democratic-Republican, were fierce political rivals. Both lawyers—Adams from Massachusetts and Jefferson from Virginia—each were enlightened political liberals who served in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia as well as headed the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence. Adams and jefferson also served together as ministers to France in the 1780’s. Into the 1790’s, as president (Adams) and vying to be (Jefferson), each served opposing visions for the direction of the new nation. At their extreme, the Federalists advocated to establish a strong Federal government that could alienate the individual rights of large groups. Jefferson’s vision of limited government included his advocacy in certain instances for state government to have the right to resist those federal laws that were injurious to local interest.

Jefferson’s narrow victory in the presidential election of 1800 made John Adams the nation’s first one-term president, and sent the New England patriarch into early retirement to Quincy, Massachusetts. For the next decade, John Adams harbored a barely hidden resentment of his political rival, if not enemy when measured by some of their florid rhetoric. Though these two sparring giants of the early republic eventually resumed civil correspondence—Adams and Jefferson stayed in contact until the day they died, both remarkably on the same day, July 4, 1826— Adams had been especially upset by the relentless propaganda campaign of Jefferson’s Republican party against him during the second president’s first term. The years-long libelous accusations described President Adams, in part, as narcissistic, incompetent, dangerous to democracy, unbalanced, and corrupt—all of which Jefferson had personally paid for and approved and which led to a premature and hasty departure of Adams as chief executive on March 4, 1801. (See Joseph J. Ellis, American Sphnix: The Character of Thomas Jefferson, Random House, 1998, pp. 281-82).

Also see- https://openendedsocialstudies.org/2018/09/25/adams-jefferson-and-two-visions-for-the-united-states/

“Isn’t it nice that Calvin is President? You know we never really had room before for a dog.” Grace Coolidge (1879-1957), First Lady of the U.S. (1923-1929), in 1927.

Grace Coolidge was the wife of the 30th President of the U.S., Calvin Coolidge. Throughout her husband’s career, whether as Governor of Massachusetts, Vice-President, or President, Grace Coolidge avoided politics. Though the young Grace broke off a marriage engagement to marry Coolidge, her mother advised against marrying this young man. Calvin Coolidge and Grace Coolidge married on October 4, 1905—and Calvin Coolidge never settled his differences with his mother-in-law who felt her daughter was completely responsible for his rising political fortunes. The Coolidges had two sons, John (1906–2000) and Calvin (1908–1924). After Calvin Coolidge, Jr. died of blood poisoning in July 1924, the Coolidges were inconsolable. The story is well-known: while playing lawn tennis with his brother, John, at the White House, the teenager developed a blister on one of his toes. Within the week, the 16-year-old was dead of a blood infection despite being admitted to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. (see- https://www.coolidgefoundation.org/blog/the-medical-context-of-calvin-jr-s-untimely-death/)

By 1921, the wife of Vice-President Coolidge entered Washington society and quickly became the most popular woman in the capital. In 1927 when Mrs. Coolidge made these remarks, the world that her husband was facing was in flux. In 1927, as France called to outlaw war, which was endorsed by the U.S, a Great Depression already began in Germany with its economic collapse on “Black Friday.” After President Coolidge called for a Naval Disarmament Conference, only a couple of global powers showed up.

The world seemed to be getting smaller in 1927. In May 1927 American Charles Lindbergh flew solo, nonstop, from New York to Paris and started the era of transatlantic air travel. Regular transatlantic telephone service also began in 1927. In the U.S., as the stock market boomed, much of it on shaky credit, lawyers and doctors earned around 3½ times more than a teacher or factory worker. Baltimore-born “Babe” Ruth hit a record 60 home runs in New York.

The first full-length sound motion picture, The Jazz Singer, opened in 1927. In Chicago there was an important art exhibition of Chinese Buddhist art of the Wei Dynasty. In 1927, Hemingway published Men without Women; Willa Cather published Death Comes for the Archbishop; and Thomas Mann published The Magic Mountain. That year’s Pulitzer Prize went to Thornton Wilder’s second novel, The Bridge of the San Luis Rey. It told the story of people who unexpectedly die together in a rope bridge collapse in Peru and the friar who witnessed the accident looking to figure out the possibly cosmic answers as to why.

“The days of transition from Kennedy to Johnson were as hard on me as they were on anyone else–harder. I was losing a dog and gaining a President I didn’t know. Not only didn’t I know him, I didn’t think I wanted to know him. He wasn’t boyish or good-natured or quick-witted like Kennedy and I heard him cussing out the help when things weren’t done fast enough.” Traphes Bryant, Dog Days at the White House, 1975.

Traphes Bryant started out working at the White House as an electrician on the afternoon shift. That was in 1951. Bryant soon moved on to respond to other maintenance calls such as a broken White House elevator. In the 1950’s Bryant was already looking after the incumbents’ family pets, such as it was for the Trumans and Eisenhowers. That line of work became official for Traphes Bryant when John Kennedy became president in 1961. Kennedy asked Bryant to become the new presidential kennel keeper. The president liked how Bryant trained the dogs to meet the presidential helicopter that would often be seen in photographs and on film.

Though Kennedy himself was sometimes allergic to animals, First Lady Jackie Kennedy adored all sorts of animals. During the next 1000 days in office, the Kennedys kept several pets. At one point the first family, which included two small children, Caroline and John, Jr., had 9 dogs. The Kennedys also kept hamsters, horses, birds, a rabbit, and a cat. Some of the animals were gifts from foreign heads of state.

In 1961 Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev sent the Kennedys a mixed breed dog named Pushinka. The dog’s mother had been sent into orbit on Korabl-Sputnik 2 in 1960. Though a surprise, the Kennedy’s welcomed the canine gift. In fact, the Kennedys’ Welsh terrier, Charlie, not only had another companion but a new mate: Pushinka gave birth to four puppies fathered by Charlie. Kennedy called the litter, “the pupniks.”

Bryant was officially in charge of Pushinka’s and Charlie’s grooming, exercise, and diet—along with all the rest. Those special responsibilities for John Kennedy ended abruptly with his assassination on November 22, 1963.

see BRYANT, TRAPHES L.: ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW – JFK #1, 5/13/1964; Traphes Bryant, Dog Days at the White House, 1975; Katherine Graham’s Washington, Knopf, 2002, pp. 542-43; https://www.facebook.com/WhiteHouseHistory/posts/traphes-bryant-pictured-here-had-been-a-white-house-electrician-since-1948-worki/3374666809225225/

Quotations: Saint John Henry Newman. (13 Quotes).

Photographic portrait, John Henry Cardinal Newman, 1880.

Introduction by John P. Walsh

John Henry Newman (1801-1890) was a theologian and poet who was first an Anglican priest and later a Roman Catholic priest and cardinal. In the 1830’s and until his conversion to Catholicism in 1845, Newman was a leading figure in the Oxford Movement. They were a group of Anglicans who looked to create a bridge between the Church of England and the Catholic Church by adopting many Catholic beliefs and liturgical rituals from before the English Reformation. Newman eventually came to believe for himself that these religious efforts proved insufficient and he left the Anglican Communion for the Catholic Church in 1845. Already an articulate and influential religious leader in Britain, Newman’s decision brought with it the burden of having upset his friends as well as being challenged by them and others for his changed religious opinions on polemical grounds. Newman, a longtime writer and speaker, responded after a while with his now-celebrated Apologia Pro Vita Sua (1865–1866), which served as a defense of his religious opinions after he quit his position as Anglican vicar at Oxford. Newman, a 19th-century master of English prose and poetry, had already published The Idea of a University (1852) and went on to publish Grammar of Assent (1870) as well as several poems, some of which were set to music or served as hymns. In 1879, at the age of 78 years old, Pope Leo XIII named Newman a cardinal for his work on behalf of the Catholic Church in England as well as his having co-founded the Catholic University of Ireland in 1854, which today as University College Dublin is Ireland’s largest institution of higher learning. On October 13, 2019, John Henry Newman was canonized a Catholic saint at the Vatican by Pope Francis. St. John Henry Newman became the first saint canonized from Britain since 1976. In remarks by Prince Charles who led the British delegation to the Vatican for Newman’s canonization, the Prince of Wales said: “In the age in which he [Newman] attains sainthood, his example is needed more than ever – for the manner in which, at his best, he could advocate without accusation, could disagree without disrespect and, perhaps most of all, could see differences as places of encounter rather than exclusion.” London-born Cardinal Newman died in England in 1890 at 89 years old. He founded the Oratory at Birmingham in 1848 and through his writings spoke to many about the issues of faith, education, and conscience.

“A given opinion, as held by several individuals, even when of the most congenial views, is as distinct as are their faces.” Oxford University sermons, 1843.

“It is as absurd to argue men, as to torture them, into believing.” Oxford University sermon, December 11, 1831.

“From the age of fifteen, dogma has been the fundamental principle of my religion: I know of no other religion; I cannot enter into the idea of any other sort of religion; religion, as a mere sentiment, is to me a dream and a mockery.” Apologia Pro Vita Sua, 1864.

“I used to wish the Arabian Tales were true; my imagination ran on unknown influences, on magical powers, and talismans. I thought life might be a dream, or I an Angel, and all this world a deception, my fellow-angels by a playful device concealing themselves from me, and deceiving me from the semblance of a material world.” Apologia Pro Vita Sua (Up to 1833).

“I was brought up from a child to take great delight in reading the Bible; but I had formed no religious convictions till I was fifteen. Of course I had perfect knowledge of my Catechism.” Apologia Pro Vita Sua (Up to 1833).

“I read Joseph Milner’s Church History, and was nothing short of enamoured of the long extracts from St. Augustine and the other Fathers which I found there. I read them as being the religion of the primitive Christians.” Apologia Pro Vita Sua (Part III).

“I read Newton on the Prophecies, and in consequence became most firmly convinced that the Pope was the Antichrist predicted by Daniel, St. Paul and St. John. My imagination was stained by the effects of this doctrine up to the year 1843.” Apologia Pro Vita Sua (Part III).

“There are virtues indeed, which the world is not fitted to judge about or to uphold, such as faith, hope and charity; but it can judge about Truthfulness; it can judge about the natural virtues, and truthfulness is one of them. Natural virtues may also become supernatural; Truthfulness is such…” Apologia Pro Vita Sua (Part II).

“Catholics on the other hand shade and soften the awful antagonism between good and evil, which is one of their dogmas, by holding that there are different degrees of justification, that there is a great difference in point of gravity between sin and sin, that there is a possibility and the danger of falling away, and that there is no certain knowledge given to anyone that he is simply in a state of grace, and much less that he is to persevere to the end.” Apologia Pro Vita Sua (Part III).

“Let is seek the grace of a cheerful heart, an even temper, sweetness, gentleness, and brightness of mind, as well as walking in His light, and by His grace. Let us pray to Him to give us the ever-abundant, ever-springing love, which overpowers and sweeps away the vexations of life by its own richness and strength, and which above all unites us to Him, Who is the fountain and center of all mercy, loving kindness and joy.” 17, Religious Joy (Sermon for Christmas Day), 1868.

“Ex Umbris et Imaginibus in Veritatem! (From shadows and symbols into the truth!), Epitaph at Edgbaston.

“Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom; Lead thou me on! The night is dark, and I am far from home; Lead thou me on! Keep thou my feet: I do not ask to see the distant scene; one step enough for me.” The Pillar of the Cloud, 1833.

This is what the Church is said to want, not party men, but sensible, temperate, sober, well-judging persons, to guide it through the channel of no-meaning, between the Scylla and Charybdis of Aye and no. St. John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890), Apologia Pro Vita Sua, “History of My Religious Opinions from 1839-1841” (1864).

John Henry Cardinal Newman, 1881, Sir John Everett Millais, 1st Baronet, President Royal Academy of Arts (1829-1896). National Portrait Gallery, London: https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw07727/John-Newman

PHOTO CREDITS:

Photographic Portrait of John Henry Cardinal Newman (1880).

https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw07727/John-Newman

God Cherishes Simplicity: A Brief Account of the Life of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (French, 1873-1897).

Thérèse Martin at 8 years old in 1881.

Thérèse Martin at 8 years old in 1881 with her sister Céline. The Martin family had moved from Alençon to Lisieux to be with the Guerin relatives.

By John P. Walsh

October 1 is the feast day of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (French, 1873-1897), one of only four women “doctors” in the Roman Catholic Church, and popularly known as The Little Flower of Jesus.  Her religious name is Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face and, with St. Francis of Assisi, she is one of today’s most popular saints. For a young Norman woman who died at 24 years old in an obscure convent in northern France that is a surprisingly solid list of titles and accolades.

Yet, when she died on September 30, 1897, the Carmelite nuns in her community at the Carmel in Lisieux didn’t think they had any accomplishments to cite for her obituary. Her sister Céline (1869-1959), a nun in the same convent as Thérèse, observed: “In general, even in the last years, she continued to lead a hidden life, the sublimity of which was known more to God than to the Sisters around her.”1

Born Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin in 1873, she was the youngest of five sisters and lively and precocious. She lost her mother Zélie Martin (née Guérin, 1831-1877) to breast cancer as a four-year-old. The next decade – according to Thérèse’s journal (The Story of a Soul, begun in 1895) – was the most “distressing” years of her life.

Thérèse’s mother was the breadwinner in the Martin house and after she died little Thérèse naturally turned to her father Louis (1823-1894) for nurturing along with her four older sisters — especially the second eldest, Pauline.

For the rest of the 1870s and into the 1880s, Thérèse was the high-spirited baby sister in the family home called Les Buissonnets in the Normandy town of Lisieux.

Blessed Azélie-Marie “Zélie” Martin née Guérin (1831 -1877). mother of Thérèse. With her husband Louis, she will be canonized on October 18, 2015.
Louis Martin (1823 –1894), father of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.

St. Azélie-Marie “Zélie” Martin née Guérin (1831 -1877). mother of Thérèse. St. Louis Martin (1823 –1894), father of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. They were canonized together on October 18, 2015.

As three of Thérèse’s sisters left the family homestead to enter convents -– two of them to a Carmelite convent (“Carmel”) in Lisieux and another later to a Visitation convent in Caen– the two youngest sisters, Céline and Thérèse, remained at home with their father.

Although Louis adored Thérèse and called her his “little flower,” Thérèse was headstrong and obstinate and she seemed to do chores with the attitude like she was doing the household a big favor. The young child also began to have panic attacks. Though intelligent and educated, at ten years old Thérèse believed she saw a statue of the Blessed Virgin given to her by her mother in her bedroom smile at her. While unusual, from that point forward, the girl’s nerves calmed. These early tantrums left a mark on her reputation. They, along with some of her later writings in journals, letters, and poems, left the future saint prey for others in her lifetime and after her death to be called “immature” and “sentimental,” even “neurotic.”3  

Doubtless some of Thérèse’s thoughts sound naïve, though she writes profoundly: “At times when I am reading certain spiritual treatises in which perfection is shown through a thousand obstacles…my poor little mind quickly tires; I close the learned book that is breaking my head and drying up my heart and I take up Holy Scripture. Then all seems luminous to me; a single word uncovers for my soul infinite horizons, perfection seems simple to me, I see it is sufficient to recognize one’s nothingness and to abandon oneself as a child into God’s arms.”4

Marie (1860-1940), the eldest Martin sister. After she entered the Carmel in Lisieux, she was called Sister Marie of the Sacred Heart.

Pauline (1861- 1951). Thérèse’s favorite sister. When she entered the Carmel in Lisieux her name was Mother Agnes of Jesus.

OK LEONIE

Léonie (1863-1941). Entered the Visitation Sisters in Caen and took the name Sister Françoise-Thérèse.

Céline (1869-1959) was four years older than Thérèse and closest in age. She entered the Carmel in Lisieux after Thérèse and took the name Sister Geneviève of the Holy Face.

On April 9, 1888, a 15-year-old Thérèse entered the Carmel de Lisieux on Rue du Carmel, less than a one-half mile walk from Les Buissonnets. Younger than a typical postulant, exceptions had to be made. She received the habit after some delay mostly because of her father’s declining health in January 1890. Although her profession was also postponed, Thérèse’s spiritual life was deepening through her reading of another Carmelite, St. John of the Cross (1542-1591).

St. Thérèse of Lisieux as a young nun read deeply of Saint John of the Cross who said many beautiful things about having a close relationship with Jesus. 

In due time, despite difficulty in prayer and doubts about becoming a nun, Thérèse received the black veil in September 1890. In early 1891 the 18-year-old Thérèse was made sacristan’s aide, a duty she carried into 1892 as her father lay slowly dying. During this time her reading and prayer transitioned to the Gospels and she began to write poems for which she had talent. Founded in 1838 as a “progressive” convent so that by the 1890’s the nuns were allowed to practice photography within its walls, the Carmel was also a working-class foundation comprised of daughters of shop-keepers and craftspeople brought up to expect a day’s work for a day’s wage. Thérèse, like another young French mystic saint, St. Bernadette Soubirous, sought to be useful.

When Thérèse’s favorite sister Pauline was elected prioress in early 1893, Thérèse was appointed novice master (though a novice herself) and embarked on her artistic avocation of picture painting. Scheduled to graduate from the novitiate in September 1893 it was postponed in part due to convent politics. The duty of doorkeeper’s aide was added to Thérèse’s tasks.

In the spring of 1894 Thérèse began to experience chest pains and a hoarse throat that grew worse by that summer. After her father died in July 1894, Céline entered the Carmel six weeks later. It was at that time that Thérèse began to seriously formulate her “little way” of seeking holiness of life based on scripture passages. Before 1894 had ended, her sister Pauline (Mother Agnes Of Jesus) ordered her to begin to record her life story in a journal (The Story of a Soul). The novice composed her journal in segments in her free time over the next two and a half years.

Early in 1895 Thérèse voiced the first prediction of her death as her prayer life was working out an idea for what she would dedicate her life to. It would be a life with God whom she called Merciful Love. Thérèse confided these spiritual developments to Céline so that by summer 1895 Thérèse recommended the same devotion to more nuns in the community.

Throughout 1895 Thérèse continued to write–composing poems and giving them as gifts on special occasions, writing plays and painting pictures. Her spirit was characterized by humility.

Thérèse wrote: “How shall she prove her love since love is proved by works? Well, the little child will strew flowers, she will perfume the royal throne with their sweet scents, and she will sing in her silvery tones the canticle of Love.”(the emphases are Thérèse’s).

Therese at 3 years old

Taken in July 1876, Thérèse is 3 1/2 years old. As a child she was stubborn and headstrong.

Therese Feb. 1886

Thérèse at 13 years old taken in February 1886. At Christmas 1886 she made her first Holy Communion and at once her nervous childhood sensitivity stopped. In December 1886 she wrote about these occurrences, stating: “I felt love enter my soul, and the need to forget myself — and since then I have been happy.”

lisieux-ew2 fixed

A pretty and well-dressed Thérèse at 15 years old in a photograph taken in October 1887. At the time of this photograph Thérèse was seeking permission from the bishop at Bayeux to enter the convent of Carmel. She entered on April 9, 1888.

Carmel Lisieux

Carmelite convent (Carmel) where Thérèse Martin entered at Lisieux in April 1888 in a recent photograph.

saint-therese-of-lisieux07Photograph of Carmel taken by Céline in September 1894. Thérèse stands on the steps, third from the right.
Therese 1889

Thérèse as a novice in Carmel in a photograph taken in January 1889. She was 16 years old and in the convent nine months.

Therese Carmel Jan 1889

Thérèse as a novice in January 1889 in a photograph taken by Fr. Gombault, bursar of the minor seminary.

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Thérèse in January 1889 in a photograph taken by Fr. Gombault.
saint-therese-of-lisieux

Late 1894.
MartinSisters-768x546

Thérèse (right) was one of five Martin sisters who became religious nuns. This photograph was taken by Céline in late 1894 or early 1895.

Therese late 1894/95.

Detail of a photograph of Thérèse taken in late 1894 or early 1895. This image became the basis for an oval portrait painting done by Céline.

Therese oval portrait painting

This is a photograph of the original oil oval portrait painting of Thérèse by Céline based on a photograph of Thérèse around Christmas 1894. Céline claimed that this image captured the real Thérèse. Photograph by author.

St_-Therese-as-Joan-of-Arc

In this series of photographs taken by Céline between January 21 and March 25, 1895, in the convent courtyard, Thérèse is dressed as Joan of Arc. It was for a part she played in her own play called “Joan of Arc Accomplishing Her Mission.” Joan of Arc, patroness of France, was later canonized on May 16, 1920.

saint-therese-of-lisieux
saint-therese-of-lisieux
Therese as Joan of Arc

Close up of a photograph taken by Céline of Thérèse dressed as Joan of Arc in 1895.

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Community of 23 Carmelites in a photograph taken by Céline on Easter Monday, April 15th, 1895. First row left to right: Geneviève of the Holy Face (Céline). Second row left to right: Mother Agnès of Jesus (Pauline) and Thérèse of the Child Jesus.

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Easter Monday, April 15, 1895.


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Photograph taken by Céline for the feast of the Good Shepherd, April 27 or 28, 1895. Thérèse is at right between to white-veiled novices.

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After July 3, 1896, photograph taken by Céline.

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July 1896.

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Photograph taken by Céline July 1896.


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Detail in the garden July 1896.
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Photograph taken by Céline in early-mid November 1896 of her sisters and cousin showing the work of the sacristan. Thérèse stands at right.

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The second pose of three posed photographs taken by Céline in the sacristy courtyard on June 7th, 1897. Thérèse was just beginning to complete the last section of A Story of a Soul.

Circumstances were growing more difficult for Thérèse in terms of her health and spirituality. In 1896 a new prioress of Carmel confirmed Thérèse’s role in the novitiate where she could continue to teach her “little way” and work in the sacristy and the laundry room. In addition to finding it difficult to pray, in April 1896 she began to spit blood, a sure sign of the seriousness of her illness. These last eighteen months of her life proved a dark period for the normally vivacious five-foot three-inch Norman young woman. Her physical pain was often unrelenting and the dreams she had of becoming a foreign missionary to Vietnam had to be abandoned. Yet, the priest in charge of foreign missions, Father Adolphe Roulland (1870–1934) whom Thérèse had met in July 1896 as he was going to China, asked her to be a “spiritual sister” to the mission priests. This charge meant not only to pray for the priests but in her correspondence with them to “console and warn, encourage and praise, answer questions, offer corroboration, and instruct them in the meaning of her little way.”6

In 1896 Father Adolphe Roulland (1870-1934) of the Society of Foreign Missions asked the Carmel of Lisieux for a
In 1896 Father Adolphe Roulland (1870-1934) of the Society of Foreign Missions asked the Carmel of Lisieux for a “spiritual sister.”

In a letter from Thérèse to Fr. Roulland she wrote: “Reverend Father… I feel very unworthy to be associated in a special way with one of the missionaries of our adorable Jesus, but since obedience entrusts me with this sweet task, I am assured my heavenly Spouse will make up for my feeble merits (upon which I in no way rely), and that He will listen to the desires of my soul by rendering fruitful your apostolate. I shall be truly happy to work with you for the salvation of souls. It is for this purpose I became a Carmelite nun; being unable to be an active missionary,  I wanted to be one through love and penance just like Saint Teresa, my seraphic Mother….I beg you, Reverend Father, ask for me from Jesus, on the day He deigns for the first time to descend from heaven at your voice, ask Him to set me on fire with His Love so that I may enkindle it in hearts. For a long time I wanted to know an Apostle who would pronounce my name at the holy altar on the day of his first Mass….I wanted to prepare for him the sacred linens and the white host destined to veil the King of heaven…The God of Goodness has willed to realize my dream and to show me once again how pleased He is to grant the desires of souls who love Him alone.”7

The year 1897 was defined on the one hand by Thérèse’s physical decline because of tuberculosis and, on the other hand, her personal joy expressed in her conversations and poems. It was on the feast day of St. Joseph, March 19, 1897, during a personal novena to St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552), that Thérèse asked St. Joseph to obtain from God the favor of “spending her heaven doing good on earth.” She asked St. Francis Xavier for the same intercession.8

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682), St. Joseph and the Child Jesus, Glasgow.

St. Francis Xavier baptizing, 18th century, Mexico City.

By April 1897 Thérèse was gravely ill and in May 1897 was relieved of all work duties and community prayer. Thérèse continued to write in her journal but abadoned it, too weak to write. In August 1897 Thérèse’s suffering was so great she confessed to the temptation of suicide. After August 19, 1897 Thérèse was too physically weak to even ingest the consecrated communion wafer. On September 30, 1897, Thérèse died in the convent infirmary. She was 24 years old. 

In her last hours Thérèse said: “Oh! It is pure suffering because there are no consolations. No, not one! O my God…Good Blessed Virgin, come to my aid! My God…have pity on me! I can’t take it anymore! I can’t take it anymore!…I am reduced…No, I would never have believed one could suffer so much…never! never!…I no longer believe in death for me…I believe in suffering…O I love Him. My God I love you…”These last words of the dying nun were reported by more than one witness.

Sick Thérèse one month before her death, August 30, 1897.

An infirm Thérèse on August 30, 1897, exactly one month before her death.


At the centenary of her death in 1997, St. Pope John Paul II (1920-2005) made Thérèse a “Doctor of the Church,” one of only thirty-three such credentialed. By elevating Thérèse’s example of simple love, the Polish pope, himself called out from behind an Iron Curtain and lived to see it fall, clarified what may constitute a Church Doctor’s character and purpose.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux was beatified on April 29, 1923 and canonized on May 17, 1925. She is co-patron saint of all church missions with St. Francis Xavier and co-patron saint of France with St. Jeanne d’Arc (1412-1431). Thérèse is patron saint of AIDS sufferers, pilots, florists, bodily ills (particularly tuberculosis), and the loss of parents.

USE OBIT

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux’s obituary was printed in “Le Normand.” An English translation of it reads: “It is with a spirited feeling of sadness that we learned Thursday evening of the death at the Monastery of Our Lady of Mount Carmel of a young person who gave the most beautiful years of youth to a life of prayer and sacrifice. Miss Marie-Francoise-Thérèse Martin, renounced the world at fifteen years of age and consecrated herself to God as Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus. She departed after ten years of angelic life in the shadow of the cloister, and we have sweet confidence that death which put an end to long and cruel sufferings has come to take this youth in her bloom and already placed on her head the immortal crown, the goal of all our earthly aspirations. The funeral will be celebrated Monday morning at 9 o’clock in the Carmel chapel. Le Normand offers to the family of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus and to the Prioress and all the Carmelite sisters the tribute of its respectful condolences.”

On the evening of December 25, 1895, Thérèse created a ceremony for her community of sisters that celebrated the birthday of the Christ Child. During the celebration each sister selected a folded note from a basket and handed it to an “angel” (one of the other sisters). The “angel” then opened the note and sang its prayerful verse. Each sister was then asked to offer to Jesus her best self in the coming year. The ceremony included a crib and wax figure of the infant Jesus for which Thérèse designed and, with her novice, hand made this costume. The light-blue dress with lace trim was on temporary display at the National Shrine of St. Thérèse in Darien, Illinois, in spring 2018. Photograph by the author.

ENDNOTES:

  1. St. Thérèse of Lisieux: her last conversations, translated by John Clarke O.C.D., ICS Publications, Institute of Carmelite Studies, Washington, D.C., 1977, pp. 18-19. Her complete obituary printed in Le Normand reads: “It is with a spirited feeling of sadness that we learned Thursday evening of the death at the Monastery of Our Lady of Mount Carmel of a young person who gave the most beautiful years of youth to a life of prayer and sacrifice. Miss Marie-Francoise-Thérèse Martin, renounced the world at fifteen years of age and consecrated herself to God as Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus.  She departed after ten years of angelic life in the shadow of the cloister, and we have sweet confidence that death which put an end to long and cruel sufferings has come to take this youth in her bloom and already placed on her head the immortal crown, the goal of all our earthly aspirations.  The funeral will be celebrated Monday morning at 9 o’clock in the Carmel chapel. Le Normand offers to the family of Sister Thérèse of the Child Jesus and to the Prioress and all the Carmelite sisters the tribute of its respectful condolences.”
  2. see Story of a Soul: the Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux,  translated by John Clarke O.C.D., ICS Publications, Institute of Carmelite Studies, Washington, D.C., 1996, pp. 51-67.
  3. The Hidden Face: A Study of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Ida Friederike Görres, London, 2003, p. 83.
  4. Letter from Thérèse to Father Roulland, LT 226, dated May 9, 1897, Letters of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Volume II, translated by John Clarke O.C.D., ICS Publications, Institute of Carmelite Studies, Washington, D.C., 1974, p. 1094.
  5.  Story of a Soul, p. 196. For this paragraph’s chronology see Letters of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Volume II, 1297-1329.
  6. Görres, p.189.
  7. Letter from Thérèse to Father Roulland, LT 189, dated June 23, 1896, Letters of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Volume II, translated by John Clarke O.C.D., ICS Publications, Institute of Carmelite Studies, Washington, D.C., 1974, pp. 956-957.
  8. see footnote 11 in Letters of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Volume II, p. 1074.
  9. Last conversations, pp. 204-205; 230; 243.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Story of a Soul: the Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux,  translated by John Clarke O.C.D., ICS Publications, Institute of Carmelite Studies, Washington, D.C., 1996;

Light of the Night: The Last Eighteen Months in the Life of Thérèse of Lisieux, Jean-François Six, University of Notre Dame Press, South Bend, Indiana, 1996;

St. Thérèse of Lisieux: her last conversations, translated by John Clarke O.C.D., ICS Publications, Institute of Carmelite Studies, Washington, D.C., 1977;

Letters of St. Thérèse of Lisieux,Volumes I and II, translated by John Clarke O.C.D., ICS Publications, Institute of Carmelite Studies, Washington, D.C., 1974;

The Hidden Face: A Study of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Ida Friederike Görres, London, 2003;

http://floscarmelivitisflorigera.blogspot.com/2010/06/praying-for-priests-with-st-therese.html.

http://www.archives-carmel-lisieux.fr/

Revolution of 1800: the early “new” music of 30-year-old Ludwig Van Beethoven.

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Ludwig van Beethoven, 1804/05, Joseph Willibrord Mähler (German, 1778-1860), Wien (Vienna) Museum.

December 16 is the birthday of Classical-Romantic German composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827).

Throughout the 1790’s young Beethoven composed in the drawing-room tradition.

In 1800, around his 30th birthday, Beethoven was telling friends that he was determined to “open a new path” for music.

Resistance to the young, gruff composer and his new music’s coarse vibrancy—a “music of man” that expressed every aspect of human living with its intrinsic engagement in the world—frequently came from the established style galant musicians. For the previous 50 years they were used to playing the shiny, cool classical music of the Bachs, Mozart, and Haydn. Haydn, though an old man in 1800, was still living and leading the old-school classical tradition as the 30-year-old Beethoven was working his musical revolution.

When Beethoven’s new music was first written and performed it was characterized as  “furious.” It was mainly the new century’s young people who had a taste for the revolutionary sound.

What was the level of defiance in Beethoven’s “new” music? The answer varies based in part on the point in time when it was first heard.

Beethoven as a young man, c. 1800. Nineteenth century painting after an engraving by Karl Traugott Riedel (1769–c.1832).

Beethoven’s work is famously divided into three epochs: his own twenties (before 1800); his thirties to mid-forties (the so-called Middle Period of around 1805 to 1818); and the final decade to his death.

Towards the end of Beethoven’s career (he died at 56 years old in 1827), his same earlier new music had become the object for critical nuance. Profound changes in society and culture directly affected his art over the next 20 to 25 years leading to the creation of his greatest music. His mature musical works changed the perception of his first “new” music after 1800. With the development of Beethoven’s music an interesting critical question arises—in what manner and to what degree is Beethoven’s earlier music a more tempered musical revolution than his young auditors first recognized?

Early Middle Period works like the Fourth Symphony which had been first received with gusto became for later auditors a source for “astounding confusion.” What had been clearly “revolutionary” at the start of the nineteenth century showed itself by the middle of the 1820’s and after Beethoven’s death to be more of a steady bridge between the classical and romantic worlds and especially more than first supposed.

One fine example of Beethoven’s critically contentious early “new” music is the Fourth Symphony in B Flat Major written in 1806. The first movement is performed by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra led by Carlos Kleiber. (10:02 minutes).

Portrait of Beethoven, 1800/01. Engraving by Karl Traugott Riedel after an engraving by Johann Joseph Neidl (1776-1832), based on a drawing by Gandolph Stainhauser von Treuberg from 1801, Leipzig, 1801. (see https://www.beethoven.de/en/media/view/5005287131971584/Ludwig+van+Beethoven+-+Stich+von+Karl+Traugott+Riedel+nach+einem+Stich+von+Johann+Joseph+Neidl%2C+der+nach+der+Zeichnung+von+Gandolph+Stainhauser+von+Treuberg+von+1801+entstand%2C+Leipzig%2C+1801?fromArchive=6007892788379648).

Beethoven’s Sonata No. 5 for Piano and Violin in F major, Opus 24, Frühlings-Sonate (Spring), is in 4 movements and dedicated to Count Moritz von Fries, the son of one of the richest men in the Austrian Empire. In 1800 the 23-year-old Count had married Maria Theresia zu Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfürst. Written in 1800, the first movement, Allegro, begins the piece’s delicious melodic evolution. These melodies recur throughout the work down to the final page and its many designs were used by Beethoven later for parts of other works.

Since about 1800 Beethoven was a frequent guest in the Count’s house and dedicated various works to him, for example the two sonatas for piano and violin op. 23 and op. 24 as well as the string quartet op. 29 and his Seventh Symphony in 1811-1812. Between 1809 and 1810 the bank supported Beethoven in certain of his international business dealings regarding musical commissions.

Count Moritz Christian von Fries with his wife Maria Theresia Josepha, Princess Hohenlohe-Waldenburg-Schillingsfürst, and their son Moritz, c. 1805, by prominent French painter François Gérard.

Count Moritz Christian von Fries led an affluent life. With the inheritance of his brother Count Joseph von Fries’s art collection and business in 1788, the Viennese banker was well on his way to becoming a great collector of prints and drawings. His curator was F. Rechberger, whose signature is found on the verso of many of Fries’ prints mounted on a yellowish paper. In 1825, he married his second wife, Fanny Münzenberg (1795-1869).

The firm fell into difficulties after 1815 and, declining further in the early 1820’s, the Count was forced to sell piecemeal his collections. A huge lot of prints and books went up for sale in 1824 in Amsterdam while the rest of it was sold after Fries’ premature death. In 1826 the bank in Vienna filed for bankruptcy. Moritz Christian von Fries and his wife Fanny then moved to Paris where the once extravagantly wealthy Count died only a couple of months later. He was 49 years old.

The violin sonata called the Spring, along with other of Beethoven’s works at the turn of the nineteenth century—notably the Violin Sonata No. 4, Opus 23 for which Beethoven intended to pair the pieces—retain a character of the salon, the theatre. Yet they are increasing free and happy in the play of musical faculties. The violin sonatas appeared in 1800/01 which is a year of tremendous growth for Beethoven and of which the 30-year-old composer was well aware.

Beethoven, 1802/3, engraving by Johann Joseph Neidl.

In 1800 Beethoven was also busy writing his Sonata for Piano & French Horn in F major, Opus 17 for Baroness Josephine von Braun, wife of the future head of the Vienna Opera. It premiered in Vienna on April 18, 1800 with Bohemian (Czech) virtuoso horn player Jan Václav Stich, better known as Giovanni Punto (1746-1803), as the soloist and accompanied on the piano by Beethoven himself who, at 29 years old, was highly productive but unknown outside Vienna. When Beethoven and Punto performed this piece in Budapest, a local critic argued in the press: “Punto, yes, of course, is well known. But who is this Beethoven?”

In 1800 Beethoven completed the six string quartets, Opus 18, for Bohemian Prince Ferdinand Lobkowitz (1772-1816).

Completed in 1801, Beethoven dedicated his Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, Sonata quasi una Fantasia, or, named by Ludwig Rellstab, Mondschein-Sonate (Moonlight Sonata) to one of his piano students: 18-year-old Austrian Countess Julie Giulietta (Julie) Guicciardi. This miniature found in Beethoven’s personal belongings after his death in 1827 may be her.

In this turn-of-the-nineteenth-century period, the piano sonatas 12, 13, and 15 Beethoven wrote for, respectively, Prince Karl Lichnowsky at the Imperial Austrian court; Landgravine Josepha of Fürstenberg-Weitra, her Serene Highness, the Princess of Liechtenstein; and Austro-German lawyer-writer Joseph Sonnenfels.

In 1800-1801, Beethoven wrote Piano Sonata No. 12
in A flat major, Opus 26
, for Prince Karl von Lichnowsky (1761-1814). Beethoven wrote his first opus, Piano Trio No. 1 in E flat major for the prince in 1792. It was also at the time of Piano Sonata no. 12, that Beethoven had completed his Symphony No. 1 in C major, Opus 21, dedicated to Baron Gottfried van Swieten (1833-1803), a Dutch-born Austrian diplomat.

Baron Gottfried van Swieten served as the court library’s director prefect from 1777 to 1803. During his tenure, around 300 manuscripts, 3,000 printed works, and 5,000 diplomata came into the court library’s possession as a result of the dissolution of monasteries under Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor (1741-1790). Gottfried van Swieten is also remembered for the organisational development of the court library-and libraries wordwide. He oversaw the compilation of the first library card catalog. (see–https://www.onb.ac.at/en/about-us/650th-anniversary/timeline/1780-the-oldest-card-catalogue)

For Landgravine Josepha of Fürstenberg-Weitra (1776-1848), Serene Highness, the Princess of Liechtenstein, Beethoven wrote Piano Sonata No. 13 in E flat major: “Sonata quasi una
Fantasia,” Opus 27
, in 1801.

Austro-German lawyer-writer Joseph von Sonnenfels (1732-1817) had the Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major: “Pastorale,” Opus 28 written for him by Beethoven in 1801. The patron’s depiction is by artist Franz Messmer and engraved by Johann Alexander Gottfried Jacobé. (see —http://www.virtuelles-kupferstichkabinett.de/de/detail-view)

Portrait of Grand Duke Alexander Pavlovich, 1800, by Vladimir Borovikovsky. The 23-year-old Alexander became Emperor of Russia when his father was assassinated on March 23, 1801. Beethoven wrote Sonata for Piano and Violin no. 6, no. 7. and no. 8, Opus 30 for the new czar in 1801-02.

Beethoven was also writing another symphony, his second, in D major—along with its derivative piano trio in D Major—for Prince Karl Lichnowsky. His compositional work in this period also included writing songs, concertos and bagatelles for various other enthusiastic patrons of the arts. In those first years of the 1800’s, contemporaries described Beethoven, just turned 30 years old in mid-December 1800, as a small and inconspicuous person with an ugly face riddled with pockmarks. Carl Czerny, then a Beethoven student, compared Beethoven to Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe’s fictitious castaway. Beethoven, who proved a lifelong bachelor by choice so to dedicate himself to his music more fully, had an unruly mess of pitch-black hair and an overall neglectful personal appearance so much so that the great composer walking down the public street was sometimes mistaken for a vagrant. Yet in these first years of the nineteenth century, namely, in 1800, 1801, and 1802, Beethoven was literally working around the clock on his music for wealthy and powerful patrons and others and planning for greater accomplishments in the years ahead.

SOURCES:
Romain Rolland, Beethoven the Creator, Garden City Publishing, Garden City, NY, 1937.
Peter Watson, The German Genius: Europe’s Third Renaissance, the Second Scientific Revolution, and the Twentieth Century, HarperCollins, 2010.

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/term/BIOG27972

https://www.beethoven.de/en/media/view/5699353847005184/Graf+Moritz+von+Fries+%281777-1826%29+mit+seiner+Familie+-+Fotografie+einer+mit+A.G.+bezeichnete+Reproduktion+eines+Gem%C3%A4ldes+von+Fran%C3%A7ois+G%C3%A9rard?fromArchive=4886601146564608