This week: lunch at Keen’s Chop House in Manhattan. Keen’s is the last remnant of the old New York theater district, which was located around Herald Square in the nineteenth century, before moving to Times Square in the twentieth. With the recent closure of Delmonico’s and 21, Keen’s is among the last remnants of Old New York altogether.
The ceilings are covered with clay pipes. Each belonged to a regular customer, and was kept on site, to be brought out after a meal.
The walls are covered with theatrical memorabilia: posters and programs dating back to the restaurant’s founding in 1885. The collection includes many delightful pieces, and one most terrible and awe-inspiring.
Upstairs in the Lincoln Room is the play bill that the President held in his hand at Ford’s Theater on the night he was assassinated. Stained with the great man’s blood, it is framed on the wall amidst portraits and a handwritten copy of the Gettysburg Address.
Buried in an otherwise inflammatory article about royalism in Germany is an interesting and encouraging statistic. The Spectatorreports: “Around 10 per cent of Germans support the restoration of the royals; among those under 34, that number is nearly one in five.”
The overthrow of the Hohenzollern dynasty was probably the greatest political catastrophe of the modern era. Although carried out by a domestic coup, it was the result of external pressure. The Western powers had imposed the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II as a prerequisite for peace at the end of World War I. This reflected Woodrow Wilson’s ominously broad mission to “make the world safe for democracy.”
Will we eventually escape from the twentieth century?—and from its homogenizing globalisms?
Last year I reported on the closure of The Lamb and Flag in Oxford, where the Inklings held meetings in the early 1960s. This month the pub reopened after renovations. A community group signed a lease to operate the establishment, which is owned by St John’s College.
I have tried to record any new developments regarding the fate of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry since that ancient and venerable London manufactory closed in 2018. Last year the situation seemed grim, indeed. But now the plan to redevelop the site into a modern hotel has fallen through. The Gentle Author reports:
A new chapter opens in the ongoing saga of the historic Whitechapel Bell Foundry as the American developers put the building up for sale. When their option lapsed to buy the land at the rear of the foundry, where they had planned to build their tower of hotel rooms with a swimming pool on the top, we knew that the ill-conceived bell-themed boutique hotel scheme was dead and it was only a matter of time before this outcome arrived.
Shame on all those who killed the world’s most famous bell foundry that operated in Whitechapel for five hundred years from the reign of Elizabeth I to the reign of Elizabeth II, where the Liberty Bell and Big Ben were cast.
The Gentle Author proposes a plan to restore the factory to working order:
The challenge now for the London Bell Foundry is to acquire the building in Whitechapel and reopen it as a fully-working foundry, employing a marriage of new and old technology, establishing the foundry as an international centre for the culture and science of bell-founding, and maximising the educational potential, through apprenticeships for local people and work with schools and colleges in East London.
The same plan would have been instituted by the UK Historic Building Preservation Trust, which had tried unsuccessfully to buy the foundry back from the developers in 2018. Hopefully a successful bid can be made now.
Electrical engineer Nikola Tesla, “the man who invented the twentieth century”, reignited his correspondence with friend and mentor William Crookes in an arresting way. On a photograph of himself seated beneath a giant “magnifying transmitter”, arcing twenty-two-foot-long bolts of electricity, Tesla inscribed: “To my illustrious friend Sir William Crookes of whom I always think and whose kind letters I never answer!”
The photograph originally appeared in a Century Magazine article from 1900 describing Tesla’s ambition to develop wireless energy transmission. The cartoon below explains his (theoretical) process.
It was this project, and its proposed use in warfare—a “death ray”—that made Tesla the model for every “mad scientist” in films and pulp fiction of the 1930s.
In February of this year, the President of the United States boasted that his regime would have the final decision on whether Nord Stream 2, a pipeline carrying gas from Russia to Germany, would be opened. The following exchange took place at the outset of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine, as reported by ABC News:
Pres. Biden: “If Russia invades…then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.”
Reporter: “But how will you do that, exactly, since…the project is in Germany’s control?”
Biden: “I promise you, we will be able to do that.”
Two weeks later German Chancellor Olaf Scholz abruptly cancelled Nord Stream 2, under pressure from the United States. At the time, I commented: “It is entirely plausible that economic pressure will cause him to reconsider. How much is the European Union willing to pay for petrol?” But that question has now been preempted.
Both Nord Stream pipelines were damaged, perhaps beyond repair, by explosions yesterday. Of course, it will be Europe that suffers. Are we to understand that the President’s statement was not so much a boast but a threat? Is the American regime willing to sacrifice its allies—to sabotage their industry—to leave their people without sufficient heat and power—to cause an environmental catastrophe—in order to prevent the normalization of relations between Western Europe and Russia? If so, will European nations begin to reconsider their alliances?
That night he arrived in my dressing room in his tortoiseshell glasses and his suit made of black and white Glen Urquhart tweed, looking exactly just like you would expect Cary Grant to look if someone had waved a magic wand to make him appear, gleaming and immaculate.
The royal beekeeper—in an arcane tradition thought to date back centuries—has informed the hives kept in the grounds of Buckingham Palace and Clarence House of the Queen’s death.
And the bees have also been told, in hushed tones, that their new master is now King Charles III. The official Palace beekeeper, John Chapple, 79, told MailOnline how he travelled to Buckingham Palace and Clarence House on Friday following news of The Queen’s death to carry out the superstitious ritual.
He placed black ribbons tied into bows on the hives, home to tens of thousands of bees, before informing them that their mistress had died and that a new master would be in charge from now on.
The Queen has died, aged 96. The palace released the following notice from her heir and successor King Charles III:
The death of my beloved Mother, Her Majesty The Queen, is a moment the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family.
We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and a much-loved Mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.
During this period of mourning and change, my family and I will be comforted and sustained by our knowledge of the respect and deep affection in which The Queen was so widely held.
Official guidance for prayer and liturgy has been given by the Church of England. The collects below are suitable for private devotion:
1 – A prayer of thanksgiving
Eternal God, our heavenly Father, we bless your holy name for all that you have given us in and through the life of your servant Queen Elizabeth. We give you thanks: for her love of family and her gift of friendship; for her devotion to this nation and the nations of the Commonwealth; for her grace, dignity and courtesy; and for her generosity and love of life.We praise you for: the courage that she showed in testing times; the depth and of her Christian faith; and the witness she bore to it in word and deed.Accept our thanks and praise, we pray, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
2 – A prayer of commendation
God our creator and redeemer, by your power Christ conquered death and returned to you in glory. Confident of his victory and claiming his promises, we entrust your servant Elizabeth into your keeping in the name of Jesus our Lord, who, though he died, is now alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and for ever. Amen.
3 – A prayer for those who mourn
Father of all mercies and God of all consolation, you pursue us with untiring love and dispel the shadow of death with the bright dawn of life. Give courage to the Royal Family in their loss and sorrow. Be their refuge and strength, O Lord; reassure them of your continuing love and lift them from the depths of grief into the peace and light of your presence. Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, by dying has destroyed our death, and by rising, restored our life. Your Holy Spirit, our comforter, speaks for us in groans too deep for words. Come alongside your people, remind them of your eternal presence and give them your comfort and strength. Amen.
4 – A prayer for the new King
Lord God, you provide for your people by your power, and rule over them in love: Grant to your servant our King the Spirit of wisdom and discernment, that being devoted to you with his whole heart, he may so wisely govern, that in his time we may live in safety and in peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Virgil Findlay’s original pen-and-ink illustration for the 1939 Arkham House edition of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Outsider, and Others was recently sold by the book dealers Carpe Librum. This was the first volume published by Arkham House, the firm having been founded the same year by August Derleth and Donald Wandrei for the purpose of collecting Lovecraft’s stories in hardcover.