, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

In ‘England’s Second Family; The Cecils’, Lacey Baldwin Smith (author of The Horizon Book of the Elizabethan World) writes about the descendants of David Cecil:

The history of the Cecils is the kind of success story that should warm the cockles of the heart of every bureaucrat who believes that “men of blood shall not live out half their days” and dreams that quiet attention to detail will be rewarded. The first great Cecil – William, Lord Burghley  – was stage manager to Elizabeth’s Regina, and it was said that “of all the men of genius he was the most a drudge; of all men of business the most a genius.” His son, Robert, first Earl of Salisbury, was the indispensable instrument by which James Stuart of Scotland became king of England, and it was early noted that young Sir Robert always had “his hands full of papers and his head full of matter.” In the nineteenth century the Cecilian bloom continued to be “petalled with patience,” and when the third marquis, three times prime minister of England, died in 1903, it was said that he had succeeded in being great “without much pomp or parade.”


Marble Hall at Hatfield House, home of the Salisbury Cecils, with portraits of Mary Queen of Scots ‘whom William Cecil helped put to death’, and Elizabeth I.

…For almost half a millennium they have possessed par excellence those qualities necessary to dynastic success: a tenacious grasp on land, an abundance of fat and healthy babies, and an unparalleled capacity for ferreting out the winning side in politics.

In ‘Reston’, Milton Viorst writes about Robert E. Simon’s ‘fief on the Potomac’:

Lake Anne Village Center is the heart of the first of seven communities that will ultimately make up Reston, a projected town of some seventy-five thousand inhabitants. If it recalls a European piazza, this is because Simon planned it that way…Simon’s goal is not to copy a successful city – which is manifestly impossible – but to make Reston the source of all the pleasant sensations that a successful city invites…

Lake Anne Village, now some two years old, is Simon’s test tube for the new city. Most of Reston’s first two thousand inhabitants live in the village and it is there that Simon has indulged his social theories and his recreational whims, his architectural preferences and his artistic tastes. Though he was warned he would never persuade apartment dwellers to move to Reston, he decided to build the high-rise – and he has had scarcely had a vacancy since it was completed. Though he was told that middle-class Americans would not live in commercial neighbourhoods, he built two floors of apartments above the shops in the village center – and they fill up faster than the garden apartments in the woods. Though he was told that art was a waste of money, he spent thousands on original sculpture – and both the kids who climb over it and the grownups who gaze at it take pleasure in its presence.


In ‘Rasputin Reconsidered’, E.M. Halliday describes the alleged ‘Mad Monk’ as ‘a strong and healthy peasant with strong and healthy appetites’, but:

Once the idea that he was sexually grotesque has been set aside, it is quite possible, as a matter of fact, to see Rasputin in a favorable light: he was really, in modern terms, a good guy. He was undeniably crude, but there is little evidence that he was cruel…

On more important questions, Rasputin comes off surprisingly well. He foresaw what World War I would mean for Russia and tried desperately to make Nicholas  see it, too, sending him telegrams and notes conveying his vision of the impending calamity…It was a very lonely and unpopular view to take at the start of the war, for Russia was caught up in the frenzied, romantic patriotism of 1914 as much as any of the participants…

There was another subject on which Rasputin took an unpopular stand, particularly for a Russian peasant. He was sure that all races and religions were equal in the sight of God, and he spoke out boldly against anti-Semitism whenever he thought it might do some good. Over a long period of time this had some effect on Nicholas and Alexandra, in whom the prejudice was deeply ingrained.


Nevertheless, Halliday argues that Rasputin contributed to the Russian Revolution of 1917 by encouraging Nicholas to go to the front and personally lead his troops in 1915: ‘It was farce that fooled almost nobody but Nicholas himself’. Back in St Petersburg and Tsarskoe Selo, Rasputin and Alexandra presided over ‘a governmental debacle’.

A portfolio of contemporary posters by Contributing Editor Walter Karp notes that once they were not meant to last. ‘Lately, however, posters are enjoying a longer life and certainly a great deal more attention.’ Selections include a long poster for the 46th Annual Art Directors Club Show, ‘personality posters’ of W.C. Fields and Mao Zedong (‘considered by some to stand with Fields as an enemy of respectability’), ‘art posters’ (often for gallery openings) such as Robert Indiana’s ‘Love’, and posters for rock concerts and consumer products. ‘[A] New York store known as The Poster Center now sells these and similar art posters for prices ranging from five to twenty-five dollars.’