By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

I very well remember the first day I became aware of “Brideshead Revisited, The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder”. I can even, without too much difficulty, tell you where I was that momentous day in 1970. I was in Oxford, where I planned to spend as many festive weeks as I could squeeze out of my Harvard fellowship and live the life of an English lord. I took the train from Victoria Station, London, and was replete with every degree of enthusiasm and excitement for my unusual situation.

You see, I was working on my doctoral dissertation at Harvard at the time, and rationalized to myself that spending so much time in Oxford would enable me to do the necessary research which could only be done in a fine library, such as the one Oxford has possessed for centuries.

To do this research required a dinner jacket, black shoes (not so very scuffed), and nodding acquaintance with all the fine wines of France, and a strong head for advancement into further research into every single one of them. As it turns out, it also required a copy of “Brideshead Revisited”. This novel, published in 1945, shows an idealized vision of everything author Evelyn Waugh’s wand touched.

It was a magic I believed in, as did all my Oxen friends, bright, witty, clever… who made themselves past masters. We all understood “Brideshead Revisited” because we were all determined to live it… each and every page of it, until the action in the book shifted to Brideshead itself, later in the book and not nearly as interesting as I would find it years later.

This book and everything Waugh said had no more fervent supporters than we Americans, who used to gather everyday at a particular coffee shop in the middle of Oxford and posture, preen, and one up each other with devastating effect.

To meet these stringent requirements, we collectively determined that only Americans from the elite schools should be admitted to our fellowship. That included every Ivy League college of course (though Dartmouth and Brown were iffy), headed by Harvard, and occasionally someone from the Harvard of the West, Stanford… but usually we were too busy maneuvering our own social position to help a poor Western student or anyone else who wanted to join our merry, stringent company.

Of course, as a PhD candidate at Harvard, my own stellar credentials topped the list. And from the very first minute I was in Oxford, I was in just the right set at just the right time. I never missed a morning coffee (though I detest coffee and never drink it), for fear of what would be said about me if I weren’t there to protect myself. This was no place for weenies, as my own brother Kevin quickly discovered when he came to visit me.

He was bicycling around Europe, preparing to take up his fellowship at Ohio State University, and only my recommendation allowed him to come into our circle. He was furious to be reliant on me. I said that if he would remove his distracting beard, it would give him a pass for a day or two. His response, characteristically truculent, was “Jesus himself wore a beard! If it was good enough for Jesus, its going to be good enough for you!”

It wasn’t… and so he peddled on, to some obscure place where he could observe his rocks and mountainous formations without the presence of a censorious older brother, always correct on any subject, and his punctilious friends.

When the train pulled in to Oxford, I had a premonition that my life was about to change dramatically… that I had reached the Emerald City… and while I was ecstatic to be at Harvard as a student, I was happier to be in Oxford as a man, learning how to be a gentleman of means on a pittance. Harvard gave me money, but Harvard was not the place for an aspiring lord like myself. For that, it had to be Oxford.

De rigueur

William Powers Ingoldsby, always this man’s best friend, was on time as always when the train rolled in. He gave me a quick once over, and started barking orders. I was to get my haircut at once. I was to dispose, in a way no one could find them, of my true American clothes. I must submit to being taken to his tailor immediately, a place where he was so well known that when he put in this order and asked for rushed service, he got it. These garments I was absolutely innocent of, for I had never worn what Americans wrongly call a tuxedo.

I was putty in the hands of Ingoldsby, who had come a term before I got there, with his house and servant, and unending parties, which made us and all the rest of our cadre very happy indeed. His further instructions urged me to ready myself for my first entree into English Society. Princess Imeretinsky, who was born English, was having a soiree at her gracious home in Cheltenham. It was of course black tie, all decorations to be worn. Sadly, I had none and felt naked.

As we walked up the drive to her home, Ingoldsby gave me my final instructions… all preceded by “Don’t”. I shall abandon this tedious list, and focus on his last instruction… “Don’t break anything!” Twenty minutes later, I was assisting the hostess pick up the shards of an imperial Russian goblet, smashed by Ingoldsby to my unutterable joy and happiness.

I managed to insinuate to the hostess, who I treated with the most exaggerated politeness, for I had never met a Princess before, Russian or otherwise, I managed to insinuate the fact that my poor friend Ingoldsby was known to be rather clumsy, which was not the truth. But again, we were always on guard for moves of studied one-upsmanship.

But I digress…

The last thing my dear friend Ingoldsby gave me was his well thumbed copy of “Brideshead Revisited.” His need for a pupil was satisfied by standing over me that entire afternoon and urging me to “Get on with the book! Vite! Vite!” I needed no encouragement. From the very first page, I succumbed to the heady magic of Brideshead, for I was too young and inexperienced to know that Brideshead is a fantasy, without a word of truth or historic fact.

Years later, when I discovered author Waugh had completed the book in just six months, I said to myself, “He could only have raced along at that speed if he was making up all the things along the way.” And so he was.

When you tell an English friend, for you I’m sure know only the best of people, he’ll want you to believe in the veracity of Waugh’s vision. It opens with Lord Sebastian Flyte, during his first year up at Oxford. Lord Sebastian was well known to everyone at the “Varsity”, for his chauffeur drove a car of exaggerated luxury… one of those darlings with odd names and a look which made you madly jealous with envy, while at the same time hoping he waved to you as he was driven slowly through the narrow streets, greeting his particular friends, ignoring the rest, including to your chagrin, you yourself.

Lord Sebastian, in the entire volume, never cracks a book of learning. I cannot recall a single instance where he actually learns anything… no doubt one of my knowledgeable readers will send me an irate letter, punishing me for forgetting that on page 364, Lord Sebastian read a paragraph in some book or other. Don’t bother to look it up; that “fact” is just a lie.

Lord Sebastian’s importance is that he is beautiful, the most astonishing undergraduate of his time at Oxford. There are people who would say this paragon of gorgeous visage had a perfect smile, clothes made by the best tailors on Savile Row… a knowledge of the wines and liqueurs unsurpassed by any 18 year old in history… rooms in the very best part of College… and of course, Aloysius… his teddy bear and alter ego, to whom he submitted himself when he needed guidance or advice, which was frequently.

Everyone who saw this quintessence of English nobility succumbed to his charm… not merely considerable, but lethal when he bothered used it. And of course he did. You may rest assured that an Englishman dislikes you if you find yourself the focus of his charm… the greatest weapon in the entire history of the Empire.

The story begins with Lord Sebastian, tight again, a state of affairs the young English aristocracy knew so well. Unfortunately this particular evening, Sebastian had imbibed too much, which concerned absolutely no one; after all haven’t you heard the expression “drunk as a lord?” That was Sebastian’s standard condition. Unfortunately, this particular evening, he had drunk too much.

One of the windows on the ground floor was open, and in a moment his rancid vomit filled the bedroom of Mr. Charles Ryder, 18, unhappily middle class, equally horrified by Sebastian’s conduct and envious about how one could regurgitate with such grace and savoir faire.

Sebastian cast Charles Ryder a winsome smile, which said “I am so charming and beautiful, you won’t mind will you?” Charles’s friends minded, but Charles, casting his eye in the direction of another better place, accepted his role as explainer of Sebastian’s conduct, and friend, which entailed being a consummate babysitter for Lord Sebastian. Men of course, are so far superior to women in that capacity.

Here the game gets both more interesting and more complicated. Sebastian knew, or at least he seemed to know, that his behavior of random vomiting into a fellow undergraduate’s room may have gone just a bit beyond the limit. He therefore calls into service every florist within the greater Oxford area. They were needed to deliver their best, most prepossessing, and most fragrant blooms to Mr. Ryder’s rooms, to the consternation of his scout. He would have been irritated, but for the fact, yes, you knew it, his lordship was beautiful.

Now begins the great flaw of this book. Charles Ryder hungered for love and affection, and Sebastian did too. And so we are led to believe these two young men, captivated with each other, stayed for months at a time at Brideshead, the great country house of Sebastian’s family. It was a city unto itself on a hill overlooking the green, green grass of Wiltshire; packed with treasures of generations of aristocratic brigands who always knew the best things to take (think Elgin Marbles), and did so with breathtaking assiduity.

Then on to Venice to stay with Sebastian’s father, the Lord Marchmain, who years before had abandoned his wife and all of his children because of his wife’s adamant, inconvenient, and unbending Roman Catholicism. His life in Venice plunged Lord Marchmain into debt, but no one pressed him, for after all, he was an English aristocrat with a lovely palace at his disposal.

Now picture if you will two young men of normal concupiscence, together day and night, surrounded by beauteous objects, and a staff always at their disposal. The English critics, so literate, so clever, so blind or so conspiring, say that the relationship between these boys was not vicious (code word for homosexual). That suggests they never touched or hugged, or cuddled in a way that they could deny everything in the morning… in short, that they were “good boys”, and Charles a true friend, eschewing the delights of love for the solidity of friendship.

And I say to these critics, and I say it with zeal, “You are wrong, you are wrong, you are wrong!” The English as a people have had a very hard time speaking frankly about male relations. They passed the most repressive legislation against gay men, and threw thousands of them into disgrace and often imprisonment. And so Waugh has his characters remain inches apart, but unable to reach out and touch each other. In short, coitus interruptus, indeed.

It is no doubt my revolutionary American outlook on things British that causes me to be so enraged against the British tendency to avoid calling a spade a spade. Rather I am of the “If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck” school of thought.

Sebastian’s mother, Lady Marchmain, understood I think the precipice that Sebastian was walking. And I do believe she preferred him drunk to the thought of disgusting embraces with his only friend Charles Ryder. This conclusion is more sensible than the one that the author tries to impose on us, that there was nothing but innocence and no jolly rogering… secret or otherwise.

His increasingly self-destructive alcoholism enabled Lady Marchmain, a staunch Roman Catholic of the Pius XII variety, to intervene at frequent intervals… the better to control his increasingly out of control life. But where was Charles Ryder in all of this, the supposed best friend, the sensible one? He himself was so lonely and friendless that he would have accepted most anything from Sebastian, so that he might continue to stay with him in Brideshead and in Venice.

But of course, the real sin was that they loved each other… not wisely, but too well. And whether they fornicated or not (and of course I think they did), their relationship was doomed, for the English have always valued hypocrisy more than truth, which can so often be indiscreet.

Waugh’s book is always most believable when the situations he describes crush individuality, and sacrifice it for one of the most obnoxious words ever invented… gentleman. Charles Ryder and Lord Sebastian Flyte never had a chance. This is what makes the book so wistful, so yearning, so unsatisfactory… for this is a book about how the English, aristocratic or not, work to impose rigid rules and regulations, especially on people who might well flout the system and enjoy themselves.

Thus I came away from “Brideshead Revisited” enraged… and this rage sent me back to my own golden days at Oxford, when I believed the great myth and strove mightily to live it… and succeeded, too, to a great extent. I wonder whether those days when I was young and sought love were in any way real, substantive… whether the magic had power in reality, or whether this was all designed to deceive. I do not know the answer, even now, 50 years later and counting.

I still cannot quite believe that this place dedicated to youth, beauty, truth, and knowledge was a sham… this stage for a play where nothing is as it seems to be.

Oxford revisited

A few years ago, I returned to Oxford, anxious to see the sights of my youth, and how many of them remain, or had been washed away by relentless time. I came away unsettled, even depressed. The magic was gone. The magic, which may never have been there in the first place, was certainly gone now for me. I can only hope that somewhere among these students I did not see and did not know, there was a teddy bear named Aloysius… and the chance of love.

Musical note

I’ve selected as the musical accompaniment to this article the theme song for Granada Television’s magnificent 1981 miniseries “Brideshead Revisited” by Geoffrey Burgon (1941-2010). It is perhaps the best series ever, meticulously crafted, accurate to a fault. If there are faults, they emanate from Waugh and his knowingly dishonest vision, not the producers. They are innocent and free from responsibility.

Click here for the song.

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  • Our Harvard: Reflections on College Life by Twenty-two Distinguished Graduates


Twenty-two notable Harvard graduates, ranging from the class of 1917 to that of 1981, reminisce about their undergraduate years in essays that record everything from high-spirited pranks to thoughts on influential teachers to the often devastating intrusion of world events into the college years.
Buckminster Fuller recalls that his class of 1917 attended a comfortable, insulated Harvard—but also that one in ten was destined to die in the first World War. Anton Myrer remembers the hectic months before this country entered World War Two when everything— “classes, courses, meals, drinks, dates, love affairs”—suddenly accelerated. James Fallows writes about the impassioned politics of the Sixties, when the campus itself became a scene of violent confrontation.
But the world did not always intrude. Robert Fitzgerald sat up until the small hours, cultivating early poems in an ‘‘inky chaos.” Robert Coles writes movingly of revelations grasped under Perry Miller’s guidance; Peter Prescott and John Spooner describe some of the more hilarious excesses that characterized the “Silent Generation” of the Fifties; John Finley writes a loving and comprehensive history of the place that has been home to him for over fifty years

Digital book in PDF or Kindle ePub

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In the 1950’s, if you were lucky enough to live in Chicagoland as I was, you would inevitably encounter the Wanzer milk television commercial starring Carmelita Pope, “Wanzer on milk is like sterling on silver.” And no doubt it is.
But I went for the cream, not the milk, on this trip to New York, and walked away with seven pieces of highly desirable antique silver. What’s more, each piece was acquired at below the low estimate. Each and every one, that is to say all four were as reasonably priced as one could wish, always allowing for the fact that one had to pay something.
My Sotheby’s representative was astonished that all four of my acquisitions came in at below the low estimate. “How did you do that?”, she asked. No cat could have purred a better response.
Thus, this report from the silver lining is a testament to my modus operandi: how to acquire more for less.
First of all, this desirable outcome can only be the result of prolonged study and application. In short, you have to know what you’re talking about. And it has taken me any number of years, plus any number of silver catalogs, from all the major auction houses across the world, to feel reasonably confident that I cannot be completely humbugged, and that, from time to time, I may be fortunate enough to outsmart the experts… which happened with these four pieces.
So, let us review my bounty.


Lot 715
First, four silver salad bowls by William Fountain (1819), fluted, the centers engraved with arms, marked on sides below rim. 67 oz 15 dwt; 2108.6 g; diameter 10 1/4 in; 26 cm.
This period of English silver is called Regency, after the Prince Regent, later George IV. Every element of the fine arts is stylish and in your face during the Regency. It is almost impossible to buy a bad artifact from the Regency, though many have tried (quite successfully too). And for those of you who have your lunch salad out of a styrofoam container, eat your heart out.
I shall be feeding milord and his lady with subdued, unmistakable splendor. By the way, the arms you see on these bowls are those of Neville impaling Cornwallis. You will remember Lord Cornwallis, who surrendered to the Americans at Yorktown, thereby ending the revolution. I hope his salad bowls cheered him up.


Lot 762
My second acquisition is a George II Silver Salver, Edward Feline, London, 1734; circular with lobed border, engraved with strapwork border and arms in a baroque cartouche; marked on base; 16 oz 10 dwt; 516 g; diameter 9 3/4 in; 24.8 cm; the arms are those of probably Aiton quartering Campbell, impaling Bottell, Fraxine or Ponsonby.
This dish is part of a set, dating from 1734, about the time English silver begins to be the envy of the world. Lovely, isn’t it? When you pop by, I shall be sure to show it to you.


Lot 771
My third acquisition is a Queen Anne silver salver on foot, Jacob Margas, London, 1706; plain circular on trumpet foot, engraved with contemporary arms in baroque cartouche; marked on surface and foot; 15 oz 10 dwt; 485 g; diameter 9 3/4 in; 24.8 cm.
The thing you must keep in mind about silver from the reign of Queen Anne (1665-1714), is that it is valuable simplicity. At the Court of Queen Anne, people tried to impress each other (as they always do at a royal court), but it was impressing each other with how little decoration they could get away with, not how much.
Anne herself was a plain spoken woman, burdened by too much weight and the death of every child she ever conceived (13). But she knew who she was, and what people say is that the silver from her time is real, actual, not overwhelming, but always valuable.


Lot 779
My fourth acquisition is my only one from this auction from the Victorian age. It is a stunning inkwell, so emblematic of the age in which it was produced. It is heavy, impressive, in your face, bombastic… a thing to be reckoned with, used by the paterfamilias, whose desk in the library it would have graced, saying the the world, “Here’s a good English gentlemen, a man of money, reputation, and stern consideration.” Here is a description:
A Victorian silver large inkstand, Benjamin Preston, London, 1832; on four scrolled shell feet and with bold rococo borders; the central seal box supported by two fully-modeled eagles and topped by a taperstick, fitted with two silver-mounted cut-glass jars; marked throughout; 74 oz weighable; 2301.4 g; length 15 in; 38.1 cm.
I shall enjoy placing this stunning object, for it deserves our full attention. It will join what some are now calling the largest collection of inkwells in the world, and perhaps it is… after all, I know a good thing when I see it, and have snapped up any number of inkwells, a suitable emblem for writers, don’t you think?
All three volumes of Treasures From The Lant collection can be found on Dr. Lant’s author page at: http://www.amazon.com/author/jeffreylant/
About the author
Now 70, a bonafide septuagenarian, Harvard educated Dr. Lant looks upon his much favored life with happiness and joyful acclimation. Author of nearly 60 books and well over 1,000 articles, this is a man who knows how to tell a story and tell it well. To see his complete oeuvre, go to www.drjeffreylant.com.
There, you will also find details on our Guaranteed Future Millionaire Club. You’ll certainly want to join us.
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By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Picture if you will what I must have been like in the fall of 1970. I had come across The Pond from Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I was enrolled as a student at Harvard, and as soon as I arrived in Oxford, I was swept up into the happiest of situations.

Literally minutes after I hit Oxford, I knew at once like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. My dear friend William Powers Ingoldsby picked me up at the train station, scrutinized me carefully, then he flung out his instructions like a general barking orders. “Your hair must get cut! Your clothes are suburban American and absolutely unacceptable! You need black tie for a party I’m taking you to tonight.”

The race was on. Could money and just a little time succeed in taking away the paltry East Coast veneer and turn me into an English gentleman? What a challenge! Oh yes, and one more thing. He handed me a copy of “Brideshead Revisited” (1945) by Evelyn Waugh. In this book, a classic, Lord Sebastian Flyte tootles around Oxford in an ultra chic sport coupe accompanied by his teddy bear Aloysius, for all the world to see, lounging in the back seat of the car… giving appropriate levels of greeting to his particular friends, snubbing the rest.

Ingoldsby looked at me upon arrival and demanded “Where is your teddy bear?” I was abashed. Having been somewhat spruced up, I was taken to the residence of Mrs. Margaret Macmillan. As a distant cousin, she took it upon herself to tutor me in the why’s and wherefore’s of a system designed to be esoteric and eccentric. Yes, designed to trip up all those who could not maneuver all the arcane boundaries and conditions.

Upon arrival at Mrs. Macmillan’s residence, we found a summer collation was awaiting. A few minutes thereafter, I had a vision which has remained with me always. Her name was Lady Harriet Bligh, daughter of the Right Honourable Earl of Darnley, in the 3rd creation.

She was lovely, absolutely lovely and I adored her on sight, not just for how she looked, but how she talked. All good aristocrats specialize in creating language that hoi polloi can never master. She swung into the dining room like a perfume touched breeze, expecting to be noticed, expecting to be loved, and I loved her on sight.

Lady Harriet, however, did not have eyes only for me. “I’ve just come back from Rome,” she trilled. “I lived with three gay boys in an apartment on the Spanish Steps. It was such fun… the parties never stopped.” I was now smitten, sure that I would never see anything more beautiful in face or words than she was.

Mrs. Macmillan pulled me up sharp. I was not there to pick up aristos. I was there at her behest, so that she could teach me about The Family.

Thus my hostess began moving quickly to her insights into my distant cousin Harold Macmillan (1894-1986). He was the head of the family Macmillan and had fulfilled an exalted destiny. He had served over and over again in top government offices, including Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and more, moving steadily up the ladder towards 10 Downing Street.

Finally, in 1957, he became Prime Minister, serving until 1963 when medical problems intervened. It is stated that he had a prostate problem, which may or may not have been benign. In any event, he stepped down when he did not need to do so. Upon his retirement, he became the Earl of Stockton… the last British Prime Minister to receive a hereditary peerage.

His achievements were laudable and universal. For instance, on February 3rd, 1960 before the South African parliament in Cape Town, he gave what became known as the “Winds of Change” speech. In it, he told the world that the winds of change were blowing over Africa with such turbulence that the British Empire was destined, and quickly too, to melt away, as the independence of Ghana had already shown in 1957. And that, as a result, the great colonial enterprises of France, Portugal, and Belgium would soon be gone.

It was one of the most important speeches ever given to humankind. For Harold Macmillan was saying most of all that this great transfer of power involving millions of people could be done without massacres, massive dislocations, or rancor; that it could be done, and honorably for all concerned.

Mrs. Macmillan touched on the high points of Cousin Harold’s achievements, but what she particularly expatiated on in a whisper with a touch of malice was the scandalous menage of Macmillan’s wife, Lady Dorothy Cavendish (1900-1966), Robert Boothby (1900-1986, later Baron), and himself, the cuckold.

Nothing shows us more clearly the difference between England and America than how this top level affair was handled for utmost discretion, minimal public notice, and embarassment.

Lady Dorothy Cavendish came from the richest family of the English aristocracy. Her father was the 9th Duke of Devonshire. The noble house had started on its way through the astute manipulations of Bess of Hardwick, one of the shrewdest women in history. Bess often married, always game for another matrimonial knot, so long as the lands that accompany the deal were broad, fertile, and rich.

Over the course of centuries, the Cavendishes gobbled all. Their touch was infallible. The grandeur of their possessions, breathtaking. The Cavendishes had everything, and thought they always would have. Like many women in such positions, her actions were more like a man’s than a woman’s, and when she wanted something, she got it.

What she wanted during this period of her life was the amorous embraces and caddish behavior of Robert Boothby. He might have been Prime Minister himself. However, he preferred Lady Dorothy’s adulterous clutches, but not to the extent of eschewing a string of macho men. Of these, the principal was Ronald Kray, a gangster who (allegedly) supplied Boothby with young men and arranged orgies in Cedra Court, receiving personal favours from Boothby in return. What a muddle.

So let us be sure we understand the players and their complicated relationship to each other… a description like this certainly helps. First, there was Cousin Harold, of the internationally known publishing house Macmillan, the family business. Then, the almost fantastic jump for this descendant of impoverished Scottish crofters to the perfumed sheets and ostentation of Lady Dorothy Cavendish, the only daughter of the 9th Duke.

Thence to her indiscriminate paramour Robert Boothby, who was called “the Palladium”, because “he was twice nightly.” He was gifted with prodigious energy, and no discretion whatsoever. He brought into the picture Ronald Kray, gangster and the good friend who happily took time from his illegal endeavors to assemble a daisy chain of young males whose high spirits always made Boothby happy. In return, Kray received personal favors from Boothby.

Error or destiny

Mrs. Macmillan, British lady, would not, I know, have pulled back so much of the veil. Her task was to see what kind of Macmillan I was, not to dig deep in the cesspit of aging lovers and their startling concupiscence. Was I to be a member in good standing of the Macmillan clan, or just a young man who passed on the horizon en route to another destiny altogether?

That’s when I had to make a life changing decision. You see, I was in those dim distant days English to the very core, quaffing her culture, her manners, her mores, every aspect of her affairs, glorious or tawdry. And in this euphoria, I ran for the most important office in the Student Representative Council in St. Andrews, Scotland, where I resided for a year in 1968. That post was representing The Faculty of Arts, the largest part of the University.

My victory was astonishing and overwhelming, and immediately opened the discussion about whether I should become a British subject. I knew I could gain election to the House of Commons. And being an American, I knew I should become a national figure in record time. What should I do?

The pressure only increased when I was elected to the Scottish Conservative Party Conference, another feather in my cap. It is hard for me today from this distance from the event to know just how I felt. But I know this: I might so easily have become a Member of Parliament, even a peer of the realm. Heady thoughts, indeed.

Of course, I went back to America where in short order I graduated from Harvard University with a history degree, well aware that I might have made my own history. Sadly, I never met Harold Macmillan, which would have been so easy to do. Today, I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment… but there was some residual shyness which I must acknowledge, though I do not like the notion at all.

However, Cousin Harold entered my life yet again in a very interesting way. After he became Prime Minister in 1957, he appointed Margaret Thatcher to her first ministerial portfolio as the Parliamentary Undersecretary at the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance. It launched her on her startling world career.

When Britain went to war against Argentina in the Falklands War in 1982, she called upon her mentor, Harold Macmillan, to advise her on how to make war. He did. She did. The victory made her.

That I think was the reason why, when I was invited to the unveiling of her official statue for the House of Commons and told her Harold Macmillan was my cousin, she drew herself up to her full height of 5’5″, straight and unyielding as a ramrod, only to say “He gave me my first ministry,” a pronouncement followed by a kiss… and may I say, it was not a kiss of symbolism or politeness, but a true kiss, immediately followed by her pulling my head to her shoulder.

The hundreds of people at the London Guild Hall could not believe their eyes, for the Iron Lady’s kiss she gave was not the kiss of peace, but a true and authentic one. I owed it to Harold Macmillan.

All of this came back to me today when I placed my newest Macmillan object. It is a thank-you note from Harold Macmillan and the now Lady Dorothy Macmillan, dated April 21, 1920, their wedding day.

The frame I selected for this marvelous piece was purchased at Shreve, Crump, & Low in Boston. The piece is autographed by two famous people committing to a marriage that was impossible for either to keep, and which was only maintained because of the acute discretion and care of the British political and newspaper establishment. It’s a beautiful little piece, don’t you think, a gem?

I was lucky to find this double autographed memento of two people connected through the vicissitudes of DNA to me, the guardian of this dazzling, lustrous objet d’art. It all came alive for me today, when I looked at this splendid piece and thought how completely unpredictable destiny and deoxyribonucleic acid can be.

Musical note

The music I have chosen for this piece is “Bye Bye Love” (1957), written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant and performed by the Everly Brothers. Its lyrics are telling no matter your social standing.

“Bye bye love
Bye bye happiness, hello loneliness
I think I’m-a gonna cry-y
Bye bye love, bye bye sweet caress, hello emptiness”


About the author

Harvard educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is well known internationally for his trenchant and lyric articles, now over 1,000 in print, along with 61 books. He brings you inside the story and makes often dull events come alive with color and significance. Be sure to sign up for his list so that you can receive regular information and special offers. You can do so by going to www.drjeffreylant.com.

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  • Boston, April 15, 2013. Too Painful To Remember. Too Important To Forget.


The winds beat upon my windows. They had a message for me. They hissed, “You have been given the words. Now we insist that you use them. That is your burden.
That is your glory. Now get on about your work, for the hour is late. The task is important and must be done without delay.”
“Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind”
(“For whom the bell tolls” by John Donne)
The music that lightens your load, one tear at a time.
I was just nine the year I saw my first photos of brave souls playing the ultimate game, betting they could toss a Molotov cocktail with such precision that they could
dismember a tank before that tank could dismember them.
The pictures of this murderous duel were blurred,grainy and distorted. But I knew that the great game for freedom was afoot and that somehow and certainly I was involved.
I knew even then that the bell tolled for me and that I could not ignore it, though there was every temptation to do that. I had yielded to the blindness that is temptation, always transient and unfulfilling, whatever promises it may make.
But the inexorable bell kept tolling and would not be denied…
When it became known the Boston Marathon murderers were in my neighborhood, their next deadly objective not yet clear but sure, the police authorities protected us
by dismantling our freedom. It was called “lock down”, prison talk, no term of liberty.
It may have been necessary, but it was also unsettling to those who have heard the eloquent and most persuasive arguments used for stripping us of liberty, once forfeit, never returned, soon yearned for, forever yearned for, without success or method of
restoral or redemption.

The voice I heard was stern, authoritative and brooked no argument. “Citizens, stay in your homes. Stay away from all windows. Do not attempt to come out until further
instructions are given.” Could they possibly mean me, too, author, commentator, unprejudiced fly on the wall, the man making clear for tomorrow what was happening today?”
Then in the most chilling voice ringing out with these words,
“Dr. Lant, this means you.”
Yes, I was ordered by name. I pulled my hand from the door knob as if it was fiery hot and wondered why I was specifically ordered. I wonder still.
Two days later I tried again, remembering to take the stairs from the penthouse.
What a jolting shock to see a tank nestled in the grass outside my residence…. surrounded by the greatest university on Earth and its proud symbols and sun-kissed insignia, as well as by the temples filled with people who wondered, who begged for the sign which was not given.
I saw the tank, and I saw, in my mind’s eye, the freedom fighters of Hungary give everything for a single shot at the machines which shattered everything, leaving a proud and ancient nation in devastation and lamentation.
And I cried out, sobbing for what we had already lost and the more we would be sure to lose, in the grim and pitiless days to come…. Thus did spring come to Boston in 2013 when the flowers of hope and renewal were at their most beautiful and beguiling.
Why did God leave us so, head bowed, knees in the mud, rancor and
acrid bitterness in our soul? Why?
My recollection of those somber days when life and its paths were altered forever are fading now. I feel a terrible and pressing responsibility to the truth which must not be allowed to expire.
We all have became more mistrusting and wary with similar incidents occurring worldwide.
The rain has washed, the snow has covered, the heat has baked, a million steps have ground all evidence; into the good earth which has dealt with so many outrages before and will do so again.
Maybe this is God’s way after all, submission and resignation being
His tools, though so difficult to make ours. You must judge for yourself
as you review the pages that follow, remembering “No man is an island.”

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  • Lifestyle Books
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  • “All sparkling with dew”… Spring and its flowers return to Cambridge, 2016: Flower Power Vol.1


Volume one in the Flower Power Series.
After an experience of coming near to death and being left hardly able to walk, this became a most sobering period of my life, without question.

As a result of my caution and the possibility of another crippling fall, I retreated from so many of my favorite haunts and focused on the written word, which I more easily control, for I am the master of the lyric voice, and I never needed it so much, after I lay sprawled, concussed, isolated, and in despair.

One day, a few months ago, I finally decided to test my abilities by reverting to some of my usual habits and dispositions. I seized my cane, took the elevator to the ground floor, and resolved I would walk to the Sheraton Commander Hotel for breakfast, as I so usually used to do.
It is only a few short blocks from my residence, and I so often enjoyed noting the progress of the plants, while enjoying the plethora of various weathers, a particular joy and consternation in New England. Yes, I loved to check the progress of the fast emerging flowers along my way, progress I never failed to note. It was always good to see them.
But this time I had to stop at every step and place my foot just so, so I would not fall; pausing to ascertain my progress, my hands secure on the guardrail, my feet awkwardly arranged on the steps. I moved slowly, deliberately, unsure yet certain I must do this, or never walk again.

I walked a half a block or so, and then I faltered, saying “Do not overdo what you mean to do, for you have been so immobile for so long now, and must consider every step you take, and realize what another fall might do.”

I paused outside my residence, trying to convince myself that I could not proceed, that I was not ready to proceed, that I dare not proceed, for fear of all that could transpire. Then there it was, nestled against the brick pavement, a dandelion, its bright yellow arresting my attention, the first I had seen this year.

It spoke to me from its perfect beauty, disdained by so many, but not by me. It said, “Your Excellency,” for that is my proper style, “You can do this, you must do this. You may shut yourself up in opulence and luxury, but one breath of cool fresh air is worth a king’s ransom to you now.”

I faltered just a bit, and then, in the most courageous thing I have ever done, I took one step towards my destination, and resolved that come what may I would walk out this day, and exchange greetings with the world, which had missed me, as I had missed it.
I made my destination and had shown myself and the world what I might still do with the help of a dandelion, which winked at me as I ambled home, and said, “Godspeed, Your Excellency, now you know what you can do. That is a very good thing to know.” This is the power of flowers, and I had known it all my life.

The flowers of springtime in New England are the happiest and most welcome flowers of all.
They confirm, you see, the bitter winter with its arctic winds, and its blizzards that stab you on their way are gone, gone, all aspects of the frigid and disconsolate past, gone. Now, is our patience, our tenacious patience, rewarded by a beauty that asks for nothing more than cheerful recognition and acknowledgement. This book, in three chapters, celebrates some of this needed beauty, thereby lightening your burden.

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  • Money Making Books
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  • How To Write About Famous People That You Know: Writer’s Secrets Vol.1


It is with the greatest possible enthusiasm, even glee, that I open this first volume of my new series from Writers Secrets. This series has been developing for a very long time, for over fifty years in fact. I have not only written, but have helped thousands of people worldwide to write, too.
However, today, I take you to a whole new level. Never done before, I will show you how to master every aspect of writing so that you will know what to do, when to do it, how to do it. And, I will give you helpful models so you can see how I do it.
In no educational institution with which I am familiar can you learn every essential point of what it takes to be a successful, that is to say, a money-making writer.
Hitherto educators in the field of writing have simply said “To be a writer, one must write.” This fatuous advice is neither useful nor productive. One needs to know more, and more again about writing before showing that writing to anyone.
Once you’ve read the volumes in this series, you will be amongst the elite of the Earth, because good writers get all the goodies, name recognition, esteem, veneration, and, of course, money. For let us never forget, that “None but a blockhead writes but for money” (Dr. Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784, inventor of the first English language dictionary).
I am tired of meeting people, particularly young people, who have been given that useless advice… to be a writer, one must write. In these pages, I shall show you the verities of writing, and the facts which will advance you… or, should you fail to use them, destroy any chance of your success.
As we begin this exciting series of absolutely unique and unprecedented volumes, I want you to know that my goal here is cosmic, exhaustive, thorough, inventive, and powerful. By following these steps, and not the vagaries of any previous
instruction you may have had, you will find yourself awash in trophies… including fame, notoriety, affection, appreciation, awe, recognition, honor, and certain reverence.
For all these, and so many other benefits, can and must be yours, if you will but understand the structure of successful writing, and work for a lifetime to perfect your skills. You see, the world loves writers, and I, therefore, love the world. For so many years now that I cannot even remember, writing has been my unstoppable rocket, matched by nothing else.
You say, upon being asked, “What do you do for a living?” The response launches the beneficial process… “I am a writer.” And by that we mean superior, intelligent, clever, shrewd, inventive, creative, and for the nonce, charming to a degree no average mortal can even wish for, much less attain.
I shall be attending you every inch of this fabulous journey. For now you have an advisor of note, dexterity, inventiveness, truth, and may I say it, love. For seeing you advance will be one of the glories of my life. And I shall say as I see you rise, “This one came from me!” Be that one.
Now let us begin. The topic of this first volume is not just writing, but writing about famous people you know. I have started with what could be construed as an advanced class because once you master this, you will be able to gain
access and commendable results from any famous person in the universe.
You will never say, if you have ever said, and might truly say, that you have nothing to write about… like a woman going to a closet full of gowns and saying “I have nothing to wear”. You will never say again, having mastered this chapter, that you have nothing to write about. Master these guidelines, and fly high…
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Lifestyle Books > “We’ll always have Paris.”: A story of wealth, obsessions, and the emperor’s ransom collected and dispersed by Christopher Forbes, connoisseur.

  • “We’ll always have Paris.”: A story of wealth, obsessions, and the emperor’s ransom collected and dispersed by Christopher Forbes, connoisseur.


Do you remember the first auction you ever attended
and what happened that memorable day? I do.
The day the worldly effects of my paternal grandmother
were being auctioned.

I might have had as much as $10 to conjure with. However with so
many items selling for two bits it was adequate. Adequate.

That’s pretty much how I described my available funds, never
excessive, never hopeless either. If I’d had more, I may have been
careless; while less might have killed my ambition and motivation.
But “adequate” was just right.

I purchased a walnut table, still proud when polished, is in my bedroom where the
flair is Empire. But I just cannot dispose of it. It would be like
smothering an old and dear friend.

Storage, an act of love.

When I left for Harvard, he packed my youthful purchases, along with so
many items I just couldn’t give to Good Will. And so for over 30 years the
items slept, until just the other day when I opened the boxes and snuffled
just a little, the contents of each meticulously noted in his perfect copper
plate hand.

Do you believe in love at first sight? I do… every connoisseur does… and very much to the point of our story Kip Forbes does. Consider…

He was just 16, and en route to adventure in his father’s latest yacht,
“Highlander III”. St Tropez and la dolce far niente were the objective…
It was a Jerry Mungo moment, “In the summer time when the weather’s
high….” (1970) Love was in the air, or if not love at least an acute
indiscretion and memories for a lifetime.


He entered a small antiques shop the way we all do, with the possibility that there would be a certain something you would know at once. Jane Morgan set this feeling
to music “It was fascination I know, and it may have ended there at the
start., just a passing glance, just a brief romance, and I might have gone
on my way empty hearted…” and so Kip experienced the gnawing feeling
of desire, of an object so tempting him, he had to save it, and to get it had
to persuade his father what a good investment the picture of Napoleon III
would be.

Connoisseurs are prone to use such arguments, saying whatever
needs to be said to acquire the object in question. What does strict truth
and precise morality have to do with beauty, history, and the thrill of
possession? And so Jean-Hippolyte Flandin’s imperial portrait came
to live chez Forbes for a half century, sold just the other day at the
Fontainebleau sale.

That picture seized the boy’s imagination far more than the usual
aspects of St. Tropez and launched a quest that, in the final analysis,
revived the Emperor’s reputation and that of la belle France.. Where
there had been a black hole in the center of French history, Kip Forbes
did what was necessary to revive and resurrect. When he shouted “Vive
la France” he meant it, and he had done everything to make it happen.

Now it’s time to take the voyage and see the treasures built up for over fifty years, now dispersed.

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