Elizabeth Billington, 1765-1818

British opera singer of wide range and great success.  Possibly her most dramatic appearance was in Naples in where, in 1794, “an eruption of Mount Vesuvius occurring about the same time was by the superstitious Neapolitans attributed to permission having been given to a heretic to perform at the San Carlo, and fears were entertained for Mrs. Billington’s safety.”

Her actual performance saved the day and possibly her neck, and in the end, a good time was had by all.

A Dictionary of Music and Musicians: (A.D. 1450-1889) By Adela Harriet Sophia Bagot Wodehouse

John Aubrey, 1627-1697: “Sot That I Am!”

When John Aubrey was eight years old, he met the forty-seven year old philosopher Thomas Hobbes on a country road, beginning a friendship that would last the rest of the old man’s life.

He had a knack for friendship, Aubrey.  An only child of  respectable Wiltshire gentry, he was given to wandering the countryside and chatting up the locals, not least of all the geriatrics whose memories went back as far as King Edward VI.   He was educated somewhat haphazardly at home (a stray copy of Bacon, another of geometry) and later more traditionally at Malmesbury  Grammar School before matriculating at Trinity Oxford just in time (1642) for the English Civil War to cut short his studies.*   He was off then to study law at Middle Temple – another line of inquiry he dropped. Continue reading