Camelot and King Arthur's Court, Knights of the Round Table, Guinevere, Sir Lancelot, Sir Galahad, and the search for the Holy Grail ...
(The Holy Grail was the cup Jesus drank out of at the Last Supper.)
Our imaginations soar with history and legend immortalized in "Idylls of the King," written 1859-85 by poet Alfred Lord Tennyson.
Alfred Lord Tennyson embellished the medieval legend of the Lady of the Lake who gave the sword Excalibur to the courageous young King Arthur.
Scenes of this were portrayed in Disney's 1963 animated musical fantasy movie, The Sword in the Stone.
Coleridge had written in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," 1798:
"He prayeth best who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all."
In 1850, Tennyson married Emily Sellwood, to whom he had been engaged for a long time. He wrote:
"The peace of God came into my life before the altar when I wedded her."
Tennyson wrote in "Maud," 1855, part II, sec. iv, st. 3:
"Oh, Christ, that it were possible,
For one short hour to see,
The souls we loved, that they might tell us,
What and where they be."
Tennyson's In Memoriam, 1850, chapter XXVII, stanza 4, has the line:
"'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all."
Tennyson wrote In Memoriam, 1850, chapter XXXI:
"When Lazarus left his charnel-cave,
And home to Mary's house returned,
Was this demanded-if he yearned
To hear her weeping by his grave?
... "'Where wert thou, brother, those four days?'
There lives no record of reply,
Which, telling what it is to die,
Had surely added praise to praise.
"From every house the neighbors met,
The streets were filled with joyful sound;
A solemn gladness even crowned
The purple brows of Olivet.
... "Behold a man raised up by Christ;
The rest remained unrevealed;
He told it not, or something sealed
The lips of that Evangelist."
Queen Victoria once said:
"Next to the Bible, In Memoriam is my comfort."
Queen Victoria honored Alfred Lord Tennyson as Britain's Poet-Laureate.
A line from Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem In Memoriam is displayed in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., in the Jefferson Building's Main Reading Room above the figure of History:
"ONE GOD, ONE LAW, ONE ELEMENT, AND ONE FAR-OFF DIVINE EVENT, TO WHICH THE WHOLE CREATION MOVES."
Tennyson was referred to by U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Josiah Brewer in his lecture "The Promise and Possibilities of the Future," 1905:
"Some think ... that we are mere atoms of matter tossed to and fro ...
Speaker Reed once said...great events of history were brought about by an intelligent and infinite Being ... If you will reflect a little you will be led to the conclusion that, as Tennyson writes 'Through the ages one increasing purpose runs.'"
Justice Brewer continued:
"If there be a 'purpose running' through the life of the world, is it not plain that one thought in the divine plan was that in this republic should be unfolded and developed in the presence of the world the Christian doctrine of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man?"
Alfred Lord Tennyson echoed an older poet ,Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), who wrote in "The Monastery," 1830, chapter XII:
"Oh, on that day, that wrathful day,
When man to judgment wakes from clay,
Be Thou, O Christ, the sinner's stay
Though heaven and earth shall pass away."
Tennyson wrote in "Crossing the Bar," 1889, st. 3:
"I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar."
Alfred Lord Tennyson recorded the obedience and courage of the British Cavalry in the poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade," which occurred during the Crimean War with Russia, 1853-1856.
Taking place on the north side of the Black Sea, over a million and a half fought, and a half-million died in the Crimean War.
The Siege of Sevastopol lasted eleven months.
Sevastopol is a major port and the largest in Crimea.
It fell to the British, French, and Italians from Italy's Piedmont region, who were fighting on the side of the Muslim Ottoman Turkish Empire against Russia.
A woman who cared for wounded soldiers during the Crimean War was Florence Nightingale.
She was known as "The Lady with the Lamp," as she made her rounds at night to check on injured soldiers.
Florence Nightingale is considered to be the pioneer of the modern nursing profession and was an inspiration to Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross.
During the Crimean War, as the allies' advance toward Sevastopol, the Battle of Balaclava, 1854,
took place October 25, 1854.
A mistaken command sent the British cavalry riding headlong to their deaths, directly into the path of firing Russian cannons.
"Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
'Forward, the Light Brigade!
'Charge for the guns!' he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred."
In 1936, Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland starred in the Warner Bros film The Charge of the Light Brigade.
After Russia lost the Crimean War, it feared Britain's Hudson Bay Company would be tempted to expand its Canadian territory of British Columbia into Russian Alaska.
To preempt this, Russia sold Alaska to the United States in 1867.
Immigrants then spread south across North America, Central America and South America.
Alaska's many early tribes included:
- Inupiaq (Inuit);
- Tsimshian; and
Inhabitants of Alaska, like those of Hawaii, the Pacific Islands, and other New World territories, had no gunpowder, cannons, or steel weapons.
They spoke 300 different languages, none of which were written.
This meant that at some point in time, any one of the global powers would attempt to colonization it.
In 1733, Danish explorer Vitus Bering, in the service of Russia, began his 6,000 mile expedition, crossing through the strait separating Asia and America, later named for him -- Bering Strait.
In 1741, Bering's men rowed a longboat and set foot on the shores of Alaska, claiming it for Russia.
In 1778, British Captain Cook sailed by Alaska and described the area of Anchorage.
A statue of of Captain Cook marks the spot.
With Alaska's furs being considered the finest in the world, Russian fur traders founded a trading post in 1799 called Fort Saint Michael the Archangel, present day Sitka, Alaska.
Seward had been Governor of New York, 1839-1843; U.S. Senator from New York, 1849-1861, and Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.
Like Lincoln, Seward was an abolitionist Republican and stood strongly against the pro-slavery policies of the Democrat South.
As a result, the same night Lincoln was shot, an accomplice of John Wilkes Booth, Lewis Powell, broke into Seward's home and attempted to assassinate him by repeatedly stabbing him in the neck.
Providentially, nine days earlier, Seward had broken his jaw in a carriage accident.
The doctors had devised a metal neck brace to hold his jaw in place, which deflected the assassin's knife.
After the Civil war, Seward continued as Secretary of State under President Andrew Johnson, 1865-1869, during which time he negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia on March 30, 1867.
It was the second largest land purchase in history, consisting of 586,412 square miles for $7.2 million -- about two cents per acre.
The largest was the Louisiana Purchase from France of 828,000 square miles in 1803.
The third largest was the Mexican Cession of 520,000 square miles in 1848.
Seward also pushed through the 1856 Guano Islands Act, allowing the U.S. to annex unclaimed islands with bird droppings, a source of fertilizer and an ingredient of gunpowder.
One of islands Seward claimed was the Pacific Island of Midway, where in 1942, the U.S. won a battle which turned the course of the war with Imperial Japan.
Only later, after Alaska was found to be rich in natural resources, was appreciation was shown to Seward.
A few years after Seward's purchase, in 1870, gold began to be mined from placers (surface deposits) southeast of Juneau, Alaska.
It drew an estimated 100,000 prospectors from Seattle, San Francisco and other American cities north.
William H, Seward stated in his oration, "The Destiny of America" (Columbus, Ohio, September 14, 1853):
"Shall we look to the sacred desk? Yes, indeed; for it is of Divine institution, and is approved by human experience.
The ministers of Christ, inculcating Divine morals, under Divine authority, with Divine sanction, and sustained and aided by special cooperating influences of the Divine Spirit, are now carrying further and broadly onward the great work of the renewal of the civilization of the world, and its emancipation from superstition and despotism."
As vice-president of the American Bible Society, William Henry Seward stated in 1836:
"I know not how long a republican government can flourish among a great people who have not the Bible; the experiment has never been tried;
but this I do know: that the existing government of this country never could have had existence but for the Bible.
And, further, I do, in my conscience, believe that if at every decade of years a copy of the Bible could be found in every family in the land its republican institutions would be perpetuated."
"I do not believe human society ... ever have attained, or ever can attain, a high state of intelligence, virtue, security, liberty, or happiness without the Holy Scriptures; even the whole hope of human progress is suspended on the ever-growing influence of the Bible."
Alfred Lord Tennyson referenced the Bible verse 1st Peter 5:7 when he wrote line 222 of the poem "Enoch Arden," 1864:
"Cast all your cares on God; that anchor holds."
Read as PDF ... Poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, "Charge of the Light Brigade," Crimean War with Russia, Sale of Alaska - "Seward's Folly"