The Frozen Thames by Abraham Hondius (1677)
At the time this was painted, Western Europe was in the middle of an odd cold period, “A Little Ice Age”. Europeans were fascinated by the fact that the river Thames would freeze in the Summer months and there was a spate of paintings during this time period that reflected this trend.
This painting in particular depicts people setting up shops and ice skating on the Thames.
The sovereign ought frequently to remember the condition of the poor, to imagine himself in the place of peasant or the manufacturer, and then to say ‘Were I born one among the class of citizens whose labours constitute the wealth of the state, what should I require from the king?’
An Essay on Forms of Government
Even though they were written a few centuries ago, the words of Frederick the Great seem eerily appropriate for modern politics.
The Flute Concert of Sanssouci by Adolph Menzel (1852)
Frederick the Great of Prussia was a philosopher-king. Frederick II with all of his immense virtues and flaws, lived to excel at every challenge thrown at him. For all of his virtues as a King, it was ironic that it was a life he never truly wanted. Being carefully groomed under the domineering and abusive eye of his father, King Frederick William I, Frederick II grew accustomed to living a life of careful, genuine artifice - once complaining, "I am a mirror; reflect personas of those around me. A creature who lies, who doesn’t dare to be what nature designed."
When history does see the Frederick II that nature intended, it was with a flute equipped. Frederick II was an accomplished flautist and composer of his own pieces, and through his songs you can hear the echoes of his trauma and his triumphs; of a life that was eluded from him.
In 2010, a record 10 percent of opposite-sex married couples told America’s census takers that they lived in an interracial household—up from 7.4 percent in 2000. Given America’s racial history with blacks, Latinos, Japanese and Chinese, 1 in 10 is no doubt a pretty intriguing fact about the country, a reflection of big social transformations…
I sometimes feel as if I were born in the wrong era, and brood about travelling back in time. However, it’s phenomenon such as this; phenomena unique to our era alone, that makes me say with a great deal of candor that I am 100% happy to be where I am right now.
"I may have had many projects, but I never was free to carry out any of them. It did me little good to be holding the helm; no matter how strong my hands, the sudden and numerous waves were stronger still, and I was wise enough to yield to them rather than resist them obstinately and make the ship founder. Thus I never was truly my own master but was always ruled by circumstances." - Napoleon Bonaparte