Monday, November 19, 2007

1853 to 1854

"Sohrab and Rustum." Matthew Arnold. British. 1853. Poetry. Father and son meet in individual combat, unaware of their relationship.

"Bartleby the Scrivener." Herman Melville. American. 1853. Story. Lawyer hires Bartleby to copy, proofread legal documents. He eventually refuses to make any effort to work or to leave. "I should prefer not to."

"Cranford." Elizabeth Gaskell. British. 1853. Story. Peaceful little English village with mainly ladies who practice elegant economy and quaint social decorum.

"The Scholar-Gypsy." Matthew Arnold. British. 1853. Poetry. Scholar wanders off from Oxford to learn the gypsy traditions.

Tanglewood Tales. Nathaniel Hawthorne. American. 1853. Myths. Six Greek myths. Themes: revenge, effects of time, strange transformations.

1854. The Crimean War that begins March 28 will continue until 1856. British and French fleets have entered the Black Sea. Russia has broken off relations with both nations.

1854. The Battle of Balaclava, October 25, ends in victory for the allies and includes a cavalry charge of Britain's Light Brigade, led by the infamous Commander James Thomas Burdenell. Russian artillery cuts down 503 of his 700 men.

1854. A Boston mob attacks a federal courthouse, May 26, in a vain attempt to rescue the fugitive slave Anthony Burns.

1854. The Kansas-Nebraska Act signed into law by President Pierce opens to white settlement western lands that have been reserved by sacred treaty for the Indians.

1854. "An Investigation of the Laws of Thought, on Which Are Founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic and Probabilities," by self-taught English mathematician George Boole, advances the first workable system substituting symbols for all words used in formal logic.

1854. A Vatican ruling that makes the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin an article faith implies papal infallibility in all matters.

Walden, or, Life in the Woods. Henry D. Thoreau. American. 1854. Nonfiction. The "mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." Lived at the pond from 1845 until 1847. His aim was to "front only the essential facts of life." He wanted to emancipate himself from slavery to material possessions. He described his observations and habits at Walden Pond; he watched the seasons unfold. He urges that life be simplified so that its meaning may become clear.

"Ten Nights in a Bar-Room and What I Saw There." Timothy Shay Arthur. American. 1854. Story. Melodramatic temperance tale. "Father, dear father, come home with me now." Little Mary's song at the saloon door.

Woodcraft, or The Sword and the Distaff. William Gilmore Simms. American. 1854. Novel. Set in Charleston, South Carolina, during 1782. Withdrawal of British troops is the chief historical even. Captain Porty rescues the slaves from the scheming British officers. It was the author's answer to Uncle Tom's Cabin.

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