Nasty, Brutish, and Short
Tim Connell is a fellow at Gresham College and Freeman of the City of London. Essentially the lecture was over the conceptual revolution of the 17th Century and the Contrarians that backed away from popular belief. This was the way in which the Enlightenment was propagated, by a small, rogue group of individuals that were discovering and distributing these new ideas. We also reached further into the twentieth century. We saw the way that corruption was rising out of these Enlightenment ideals. We spoke about the Duckhouse scandal and the plight of the British Parliament. Obviously, we ended and began with some talk of Trump, and made sure to compare and contrast the new 'post-truth' society that we live in with the new ideas that came from the Enlightenment.
On the day after our arrival in London, we were lucky enough to visit the home of the Royal Society. This society was formed in 1660, shortly after the writings of Francis Bacon had encouraged a new philosophy and science. After holding these ad hoc meetings in tea shops and at Gresham College (which we will visit later in the week), King Charles II approved of a royal charter which officially established the Royal Society. Beginning simply as a place for scientists and philosophers to study and conduct experiments, it has come to produce some of the most revolutionary and fundamental scientific works. Robert Hooke's Micrographia, Newton’s Prinicpia Mathematica, and Benjamin Franklin’s demonstrations on electricity using a kite are just a few of these findings produced by the Royal Society.
The society’s motto has been placed in a beautiful stain glass window near the foyer. It reads “nullius in verba," or “take no one’s word for it.” With skepticism being a key element of the Enlightenment, this perfectly describes the era the founders of the society were reacting from. Instead of blissfully following the authority of the past, these men were some of the first to demand and search for scientific evidence as proof of facts.
We felt honored to visit the Royal Society, for this experience began to connect our class readings to a historical and real life perspective. Our visit reemphasized that the founders of this society were revolutionary and shaped science to what it is today. We hope that in our own lives we can be as bold and brave as these men were. In the words of Isaac Newton, “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” There is no doubt that at the Royal Society, we were in the presence of giants.
Reporter: Katie Hoffecker
Photographer: Onnie Middendorf
Our second full day in London, saw us at historic St. Martin-in-the-Fields for a concert entitled the "Glory of Christmas". As we entered the church everyone was struck by the unusual beauty of the church, St, Martin-in-the-fields. Many students remarked on the high vaulted cellings, and the majestic organ located in the rear of the church behind where we were seated. The church used a monochromatic color scheme of white with dark woodwork and ornamentation in gold. Unlike the modern churches some in the group are used to, St. Martin-in-the-Fields used a mixture of both electonic light and actucal candles which created a special atmospheere for the coming concert. The nave of the church opened onto a trio of three windows that grabbed the attention of everyone in the room.
The concert itself was very moving to everyone in our little group. The orchestra was Thames Chamber Orchestra and Christ's College provided the chorus. In the first half of the concert the orchestra and chorus played a variety of traditional music of the Enlightenment and other traditional christmas carols. Seamlessly interspaced in the concert were poems and other readings of the season that everyone felt were read in the most chilling fashion. The harmonies of both the chorus and the orchestra seemed to bounce off of the church for minutes after the tone had ended. The second half of the concert featured several songs in which the audience was encouraged to join in. Many in our group including me wished we knew all of the verses to the carols but enjoyed the experience neverless. The sing along aspect of the concert created a sense of community with the concert-goers which increased the level of intimacy of the concert. This was a night that no one will forget for quite some time.
Reporter: Megan Dunlevy
This is the blog for the University of Cincinnati Honors Seminar "Nasty Brutish and Short": How the Enlightenment Gave Us the Modern World and Shaped Our Lives. Welcome! This will be the platform to document all of our wonderful experiences, with each student taking turns as the reporter and the photographer. We spent the semester studying some of the most brilliant minds of the Enlightenment, and now we have journeyed to England, which was a veritable epicenter for the movement. We have dreamed of this trip for so long, and now it's here. So without further ado, let's get started!
The main event of the day (besides landing in England) was our group dinner at the Naval and Military Club, more commonly known as "The In and Out," in St. James' Square.
"I loved when you walked up and saw the big columns that said in and out. It just felt like the place to be," says Sam Blizzard of his first impression of our dinner venue. He's not wrong. An air of refinement permeated throughout the entire club, and stately former generals and current queens gazed down at us from the beautiful walls. "I feel out of my element," said Josh, and he wasn't alone. Many of us agreed that this was an experience none of us had ever had before. "I feel like a fraud. I'm waiting for them to notice," Hannah said honestly as we began our evening in the Canning Bar. We chatted about our love for England at first sight, the wonderful accomodations, our experience on the Tube, and how we felt the mutual obligation to rise to this occasion.
Everwhere you looked was beauty and dignity, from the portraits to the people to the wall paper. The whole building was gussied up for Christmas and we did our best to match it. A passerby would never know that we were the same bedraggled Bearcats who had arrived incredibly jet-lagged just this morning. We cleaned up quite nicely.
After some conversation downstairs, we moved upstairs to Lady Nancy Astor's personal drawing room. She was the first woman elected to Parliament, and a good friend of Winston Churchill. This room was even more beautiful than the one before it, "I feel like I am transported in time," said Kaitlin, and she was incredibly accurate. The photos don't do the room, or the experience as a whole, justice. It was wonderful.
The food was delicious, the atmosphere inspiring, and the conversation scintillating. We talked about the history of Lady Astor, different ways to fulfill honors credits, how important communication is, how feminism is so important for both men and women of all backgrounds, and if we need a New Enlightenment. As is expected with deep conversations, we raised more questions than we answered.
Although we all felt a little out of place, I think our professor felt that we fit in quite nicely. When asked, he said that we had been absolutely perfect. As a whole, this dinner was a great way to start our time in England, and the conversations were apt reminders of all that we had studied throughout the semester. A great evening was enjoyed by all.
Reporter: Onnie Middendorf
Photographer: Megan Dunlevy