"No One So Highly Merits Execration."
One day in 1792, Alexander Garden (1757-1829), a South Carolina planter and literary dilettante who during the American Revolution had served in “Light Horse Harry” Lee’s dragoons and as an aide to Nathanael Greene, was sitting in a coffee house at Cowes, the English coastal resort on the Isle of Wight, passing the time with a British officer of some distinction.
During their conversation, a man walked in and took a seat nearby.
At that, the Briton began speaking rather openly and admiringly of America and
Americans. He even declared that believed Americans happier, and more to be envied than any people in the world.
After a few minutes of this, the newcomer got up from his seat and quickly left the premises.
At that, the Briton turned to the somewhat startled Gardner saying, “I perceive that you are unacquainted with the traitor, once the pride of your army; the man who has just retired is Benedict Arnold. The language which I used must have appeared extravagant. I spoke of America with enthusiasm, to make him feel his degradation, as no one, in my opinion, so highly merits execration.”
The officer then quoted some lines by Sir Charles H. Williams,
Here and there leave a blank in the page,
To record the fair deeds of his youth.
When you speak of the deeds of his age,
Leave a blank for his honour and truth
The lines aptly describe how America recalls Arnold, there being several monuments that commemorate his services during the Revolutionary War, none of which make direct reference to him in deference to his treason.
"Not Even in Chess!"
Because he was nicknamed “le gros – The Fat” King Louis V I of France (r. 1108-1137) is often thought of as an indolent, obese non-entity by the casual reader of history. But in fact, for most of his reign, Louis was an energetic monarch who greatly extended royal authority, which had hitherto largely been limited to the Ile de France, essentially the Paris basin. During his reign he fought numerous wars with the recalcitrant barons, among them the Norman kings of England, ostensibly his vassals, who spurned royal authority while plundering peasants and burghers alike.
Like most medieval monarchs, Louis did not just wage war against his enemies, he quite literally led from the front, with sword or battle axe.
During one battle, one of the enemy grabbed hold of his horse’s bridle, and began shouting triumphantly, “The king is taken! The king is taken!”
Crying out “No, sir!,” Louis swung his battle axe high and cleaved man’s head in two, saying, “No sir, a king is never taken, not even in chess!”
By the end of Louis’ reign, he had established himself as the most powerful King of France since Charlemagne, and had also become quite fat. On his deathbed Louis told his son, the soon-to-be Louis VII (1137-1180), “ . . . always bear in mind that the royal authority is a charge imposed upon you, of which, after your death, you must render an exact accounting.”
Centuries later, reflecting on the vagaries of language, Louis XIV would note that his predecessor’s nickname “Le gros” could also mean “The Great.”