Thursday 25 July 2019

'Proud to catch cold at a Venetian door'

A hot sunny day today, and there's excited talk on the BBC and elsewhere of the 'hottest day ever' and all manner of records tumbling as 'climate change' makes itself felt. Well, as warmists always remind us, weather is not climate (except when it suits them) – and besides, reliable weather records only go back two or three centuries (or less), which is no time at all in climatic terms.
  There were certainly no reliable weather records on 'Hot Tuesday' in July 1707, when the Rev William Derham of Upminster noted that the day was 'so excessively hot and suffocating, by reason there was no wind stirring, that divers persons died, or were in great danger of death, in their harvest-work'. One who died was a former servant of Derham's, 'a healthy, lusty young man', who 'was killed by the heat; and several horses on the road dropped down and died the same day'.
  The heatwave of 1707 was one of a succession that came in the first decade of the 18th century, ensuring bumper harvests and swelling the fortunes of the land-owning classes. This was one of the factors than enabled a building boom, as the aristocracy and gentry set about improving or entirely rebuilding their houses, typically in the fashionable Palladian style. It must have seemed a good idea, in a period of hot, bright summers, to adopt the architecture of sunny Italy, with its cooling arcades and colonnades, small windows and pleasingly articulated surfaces designed for strong light and shade. However, many followers of architectural fashion must have regretted their choice as the English weather returned to its less than sizzling normal.
 Pope, in Epistle IV of Epistles to Several Persons, addressed to Lord Burlington, mocks the 'imitating fools',
'Who random drawings from your sheets shall take, 
And of one beauty many blunders make; 
Load some vain church with old theatric state, 
Turn arcs of triumph to a garden gate; 
Reverse your ornaments, and hang them all 
On some patch'd dog-hole ek'd with ends of wall; 
Then clap four slices of pilaster on't, 
That lac'd with bits of rustic, makes a front. 
Or call the winds through long arcades to roar, 
Proud to catch cold at a Venetian door; 
Conscious they act a true Palladian part, 
And, if they starve, they starve by rules of art.' 

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