Saturday, July 09, 2022

Fresh Horses

 It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all the copy-books and by eminent people when they are making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them. Operations of thought are like cavalry charges in a battle--they are strictly limited in number, they require fresh horses, and must only be made at decisive moments. 

 Alfred North Whitehead, An Introduction to Mathematics, Oxford UP (Oxford: 1948) p. 42.

Friday, July 08, 2022

Dashed Off XVII

 contingency as the opposite of necessity (possible being and possible nonbeing) vs contingency as the opposite of freedom (contingency)
-- the creation as such is both and therefore requires a necessary free cause

"Theoretical analysis has to start from this historical fact, that the purpose of economic action is everywhere and always the satisfaction of needs." Eucken

Economic *systems* begin not with individuals but with families/households.

Mimamsa eternal sounds // Platonist ideas
-- strictly 'nitya' is not so much eternal as 'fixed', i.e., same in every instance of use. 'varna' is the phoneme (distinguished from dhvani, the articulation itself)
--the Nyaya take varna to be/include the articulation, and nitya really does mean everlastingness for them; Mimamsa insist that sounds must be fixed to be recognized, the Nyaya that articulated sounds make possible recognition of the relevant universals in them.

Christian chastity is a virtue directed toward angelic purity, either directly or mediately and symbolically through sacramental marriage.

Epiphanius, Weights and Measures 35 on Mary as living ark

(1) What begins to be has a cause.
(2) What derives for the most part from its cause is due to form.
(3) Effects due to form are due either to idea or to nature.
(4) What derives due to form from a nonintelligent cause is its natural effect.
(5) The causes of natural effects for the most part have the same effects in the same conditions.

While knowledge is not of contingents as such, it may be of contingents as falling under or deriving from necessaries.

disjunctive transcendentals as related to res and aliquid

security theater as deterrent for casual violation, relentless investigation as deterrent for planned violation

Textual religions, because they involve study, tend to form monastic or quasi-monastic communities. (The most plausible exceptions are either quite young or formed in reaction to heavily monastic religions.)

One real good to arise from the Protestant Reformation (and the Catholic response to it) was the spilling of monastic disciplines and practices into nonmonastic life (daily Bible readings, etc.). One disadvantage is the tendency to depreciate the religious value of *casual nonmonastic* practices and customs of devotion.

captions and inscriptions (for photographs, Chinese gardens) and titles (for passages) as disposing causes; Scripture is an analogous kind of cause for Eucharist, putting the mind in an appropriate state to receive

Tamar : Jews :: Ruth : good Gentiles :: Bathsheba : Church Militant :: Mary : Church Triumphant

Mark as beginning with the 'prophetic genealogy' of Jesus

the intrinsically allegorical character of the body

Love in part charges the mundane by making previously private things pertain in one way or another to common good.

"Only God is important, therefore all our love, our confidence, our affections, our ambitions -- all, I repeat -- must be completely consecrated to him." St. Isaac Jogues, 11 June 1637, to his mother

Tendency to centralized unity is inherent in the idea of supervision.

human beings as prophets, priests, and kings of organic life and material universe

essence as what it would be to be

(1) Composition of essence and esse as natural generalization from other compositions.
(2) that there must be a first composition for composite things (no infinite regress in kinds of comp.)
(3) that it fits with how we speak and think

doggerel : poem :: pun : joke

Barrow on the acceptations of the word 'measure'

When you look at social groups heavily focused on hunting, it becomes clear that humor and laughter are essential to the effective functioning of group hunting activities.

unlimited being and posse-esse

reading physics equations as measurement instruction (e.g., Fourier Transform: To find energy x of a particular frequency k, spin (e^i) the signal (x-sub-n) around a circle (2pi) at that frequency k, and average points along that path)

Bayes: To measure probability of hypothesis given evidence, measure the probability of a true positive out of the total probability of positives.

Hume's argument that extension must be conceived as solid (T 1.4.4) can be restructured as an argument that extension must be conceived as causal.

'inhesion in substance' and the felt having-together of sensations

sensus communis & the fact that impressions of reflection are not purely passional and emotional

Because perceptions are actions, there must be something active whose actions they are, and which in this sense supports them.

Christ as the Head of the domestic church

All experiments are in a sense thought experiments, at least in their formal structure.

divine will as ultimate efficient cause of individuation, divine nature as ultimate exemplar cause of individuation (Kevin White)

centralization as marginalization and cities as marginalization engines

Everything in the universe we know is in some way intelligible because if you could even assume an absolute unintelligible, you could not assign it intelligibly to the universe, or recognize it as part of the intelligible universe.

(1) Real possibility implies an actual being by which it is really possible.
(2) Contingent things require actual beings other than themselves for this.
(3) It is not possible for this to regress infinitely.
(4) Therefore there is a being that is not contingent, by which the contingent beings in teh series are really possible.

"We believe the powers of the wicked to be something great, unless we mentally pass over to the eternal life." St. Gregory the Great

eagle : prudence :: man : justice :: lion : fortitude :: ox : temperance

Once you do an experiment, you are already beyond the merely phenomenal or empirical.

Every problem is a lock that can give you the shape of its key.

grades of indirectness in justice: soul, body, honor, reputation, property
-- family, religion, citizenship, etc., are involved at the honor level

racism as an injustice against honor

(1) preparation (constrain possible outcomes)
-- states of system
(2) measurement (retrieve actual outcome)
-- obervables of system
(1) measurement (retrieve actual outcome)
(2) postparation (contextualize in possible outcomes)

predatory apophenia traps

projection postulate: repeating the same measurement will give the same results

superposition: quantum states can be added to get another quantum state and all quantum states can be represented by a sum of other quantum states

possibility, density of possibility, causal probability

spread-measurability, point-measurability

In painting, a scene is always seen through an atmosphere (just by the nature of the medium itself). The difference between a great painter and a talented painter is in the handling of this, which is not seen but that through which things are seen. Highly talented painters without sophistication often overly minimize the atmosphere (everything excessively crisp) or else are inconsistent with it.

physics as sets of theories confirmed by experiments vs. physics as systems of experiments interrelated by theories

Berkeley in the Notebooks calls spirits in general 'actus purus'

Question that is good and true can allow for a little faith.

liturgy as a moving picture of eternal heaven

Contracts are not natural consent but juridical consent.

Part of being poor in spirit is recognizing that you have nothing God needs.

genus-sharing a precondition for commensurability

The taste for luxury often makes just acts more expensive -- in luxurious circumstances, to do the right thing can get very costly. This is at least one of the ways pleonexia degrades justice.

the 'deuterocanonicals' as contributing vocabulary

the major sacraments as educative, transformative, preventative, and remediative (sign, cause, armament, medicament)

'Law of nature' designates the order arising from general causes.

'Real relations' in Aquinas's sense are dependencies (QDP 7.1ad9).

To treat people as mere means is to treat them as betrayable.

abstraction as necessary to experiment as such

The gospel like a tide goes in and out
as first it floods the field, then comes about,
recedes, and leaves but ponds or pools, if even that,
the little puddles shaded where the trees are at.
In layers like the sand it leaves its trace,
thus in and out and in with unpredicted pace;
the tide once in, then nothing stays the same,
not even tide itself, which leaves the way it came.

While scansions should be quite similar, it is often a mistake to speak of 'the' scansion of a poem. This is because weak stresses can be treated as ictus or non-ictus, as you please.

An experiment must
(1) have an end (even if only a general one)
(2) have a design, as a means to the end, one which serves as a standard and instrument of reasoning
-- (1) and (2) make it possible for an experimental attempt coherently to succeed or fail
(3) have boundaries that are not crossed by causal influences that can interfere with end or design
(4) be composed according to design
(5) have the potential necessary for relevant change
(6) be a medium for causal inference, which requires abstraction at a theoretical level
(7) be shareable and communicable, at least in principle, which requires abstraction at a practical level (this design yielding roughly this result regardless of implementation particulars, as long as other preconditions are met
-- the abstraction in both (6) and (7) needs to be one by which one can both causally infer from this particular experiment and group with related experiments to infer from the group of experiments.

numbers as terms of sequences

legal tender as a status before the courts insofar as the latter enforce contracts

booklearning as an indexing system for experiential learning

If your love divides no light from darkness, it is a counterfeit love.

Pseudo-tautologies (e.g., "business is business") are always denials of distinctions other people are making, or are presumed to be making, along the lines of "[Every kind of] business is [the same kind of] business" or "[This kind of] business is business [like any other]."

On Stein's account of the State, it would seem that the Church hierarchy is a State.

classification required for measurement because
(1) unit rules
(2) relevant measure
(3) repeatability

"...the model is that which allows us to think through participation." Badiou

Thursday, July 07, 2022

Schlegel on the Philosophy of History

 In The Philosophy of History (volume I, volume II), Friedrich Schlegel distinguishes two approaches to universal history, which in turn is necessary for assessing progress in human civilization. The first approach he calls liberalism, and it is characterized fundamentally by the principle of perfectibility. On what Schlegel calls the liberal approach, which Schlegel especially associates with Condorcet, "man is merely an animal, ennobled and gradually disciplined into reason, and finally exalted into genius; and therefore the history of human civilization is but the history of a gradual, progressive, and endless improvement" (volume I, p. 246). Schlegel criticizes this view on several points. It has no definite beginning, because while it might seem like it assigns the beginning of human history in an animal capable of infinite improvement, this is not in fact a definite idea at all; and likewise, it has no end, since it just specifies human progress in terms of indefinite improvement. Having neither definite beginning nor definite end, it has no clear standard of progress except, perhaps, local standards of progress; but it is very easy to see that by local historical standards of progress, regression is quite common. The natural march of the progress of humanity is very often in circles; deviation from straight lines is normal. Trying to fit human history into this abstract scheme requires a great deal of stretching, and often leads to judgments about historical significance that seem ill-founded.

The contrast to this, Schlegel calls legitimism, and it is based fundamentally on the idea that the nature and destiny of the human person consists in a likeness to God in need of restoration. (Thus the label, which is borrowed from politics; a legitimist is someone who is working toward the restoration of a royal dynasty.) This restoration is not an inevitable process; it is in some sense natural -- what is being restored is what is in some sense an unfolding of what is implicit -- but it requires a large amount of work (as well as providential aid). In short, what we have is less an inevitable progress than an  unavoidable project, in which we have to rebuild with tradition, animal capability, and reason what has been disrupted. Schlegel argues that one difference between the legitimist and the liberal views is that the legitimist view is less judgmental. On the liberal view, prior stages are easily seen as contemptibly defective, or at least something about which one can be dismissive; regressions are seen as unforgivable and willful betrayals of the natural course of progress; everything eventually has to be outgrown and everyone overcome because the good is something that is always tomorrow. On the legitimist view, however, there is in every stage of human history the expression of elements of the divine imprint, which need to be respected; regressions are often accidental misfortunes; what is good in each age needs to be carried forward as much as possible, although sometimes in new forms; progress is a deeper expression of something we in fact share with all our predecessors and successors, with whom we are engaged in a cooperative restoration of our place as creatures stamped in the image of God.

Up to his own day, Schlegel identifies three stages in this expression, which he calls Word, Power, and Light. The first is the age of primitive revelation, and the expression of the divine image in us is governed largely by fragmentary traditions and their mutations; in the second we have the rise of societies with a tendency to the universal, whether in empire or in Christian revelation, and the expression of the divine image is heavily influenced by the endless questions that arise in assessment of such powers and how they relate to each other. The third age is that of European ascendancy, and the expression is heavily affected by the questions that arise from both the confluence of illuminations that Europe had as a matter of historical contingency received and the European claim to enlighten the world. Schlegel would still count us as being in this period, I think, and likely to be in it for some time; everything is still either an extension of it, or a mutation of it, or a reaction against it. When we assess progress, we have to allow for the fact that each stage, while it can benefit from the prior stages and thus be a progress beyond them, can not only fail in this project of benefiting from what prior ages have learned, but can regress through ignorance, stupidity, or sin, and the severity of errors in each successive age can sometimes be far more serious and less excusable than the errors of prior ages.

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Much Simpler and Much Wilder than Thought

 Ritual is really much older than thought; it is much simpler and much wilder than thought. A feeling touching the nature of things does not only make men feel that there are certain proper things to say; it makes them feel that there are certain proper things to do. The more agreeable of these consist of dancing, building temples, and shouting very loud; the less agreeable, of wearing green carnations and burning other philosophers alive. But everywhere the religious dance came before the religious hymn, and man was a ritualist before he could speak. 

 G. K. Chesterton, Heretics, Chapter 6.

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Links of Note

 * Musa al-Gharbi, On Clarence Thomas, White Liberals, and Racial Politics

* Adam M. Willows, Stories and the Development of Virtue (PDF)

* Crispin Sarwell, The Supreme Court's Legitimacy. One of the problems of talk of 'legitimacy' is that it really means either that something is legal, that something is effectively supported, or something that someone takes to be important independent of any legality or support; and the result is that almost all talk of 'illegitimacy' in politics would either better handled by talking about legality or support, or else is just an attempt to pretend that state agencies and institutions can magically be ignored or attacked despite being legal and/or having significant political support. It is, practically speaking, a useless concept.

* Martin Pickup, The Problem of Change Restored (PDF)

* Jennifer Frey, Teaching virtue in the digital age

* Matthew Walker, Reconciling the Stoic and the Sceptic: Hume on Philosophy as a Way of Life and the Plurality of Happy Lives (PDF)

* T. Greer, A Guide Map for Reading the East Asian Canon

* Lara Buchak, Faith and Traditions (PDF)

* Chris Petitt, The Story of the Leonine Walls

* Aaron Wells, Science and the Principle of Sufficient Reason: Du Chatelet Contra Wolff (PDF)

* Carroll Quigley, Epistemology, Semantics, and Doublethink

* Rasmus Jaksland, A trilemma for naturalized metaphysics

* Geoff Shullenberg, Is wokeness just for the elite?, reviews Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò's Elite Capture.

* Dolf Rami, Notions of Existence in Frege (PDF)

* Harper, Burser, and Baguley, Do Concepts Creep to the Left and the Right? Evidence for Ideologically Salient Concept Breadth Judgments Across the Political Spectrum

* Hands Up Primary Latin Course

Monday, July 04, 2022

Logres V

Book I continued

 Chapter 13

Even in this first year of its existence, the company of the Round Table accomplished things of great valor, and too many to count. Hardly could a book hold all the adventures of Sir Ulfius, or of Sir Ector, or of the brothers, Sir Breunor the Knight Without Fear and Sir Branor the Brown, or of Sir Segurant the Knight of the Dragon, the son of Sir Branor, or of Sir Abiron, or of Sir Caradoc Short-Arm, or of Sir Caradoc the Thirteenth, the Knight of Great Size, or of Sir Meliodas, Sir Guiron the Knight Courteous, and Sir Danyn the Red, in keeping the peace and fighting the enemies of King Uther Pendragon. Their fame spread to all the lands thereabout, and as their feats grew more renowned, the kings of neighboring nations began to imitate them, creating their own companies of knighthood.

Within the court of King Uther were more than a few who had no love for Merlin, however, and, conspiring together, some of the barons came to the king and asked about the vacant seat at the Round Table. "Surely," they said, "it should be given to some worthy knight, so that the Table might be completed."

The king explained that, according to Merlin, it would not be filled in his own time. "No name appears on the table for this seat," said the king. But the barons laughed. 

"Cannot anyone sit at a table? Can it really be the case that no one in the kingdom is worthy?" they asked. "Surely there could not be better men than exist now. We cannot know until it has been tried."

Then King Uther Pendragon said, "I will not try it, lest it anger Merlin."

"At least let us try it," they said.

"I would be interested to see it," the king admitted, "if it did not seem against the spirit of Merlin's instructions."

The barons, however, replied, "They say he knows everything that happens in the kingdom. If we try it, and he knows about it, and there is some problem with doing it, he would no doubt come and stop us. Let us try this next Pentecost feast."

This seemed a reasonable argument to the king, so he granted his permission, although he still had some doubt in his heart about how Merlin might see it.

At Pentecost the king, the knights, and the people came together. Rumors had already spread about the trial of the seat, as well as many rumors about Merlin himself -- that he was dead, that he had gone mad in the wilderness, that he had been exorcised and sent to hell.

The fifty sat at their seats. Then the king asked who there would volunteer to try the seat, saying that such a man should be a stouthearted knight of good service. And one of the barons who had originally proposed the trial spoke up immediately and volunteered. Coming to the fifty, he said, "Good brothers, I will join you at your Table."

Then he sat at the place at the Table that had no name. All of those there watched to see what would happen, and in the next moment they arose to a man with a distressed cry. Like lead into a lake, the baron who sat at the vacant seat sank into the ground and disappeared before their eyes. Everyone was in a great confusion about what to do, and so they remained until the quinzieme of Pentecost. And on that fifteenth day, Merlin came. 

King Uther went out with joy to meet him in person, but when Merlin saw him, the child put his hands upon his hips and said to him, "Must I give instructions on every little thing? You did badly in letting anyone sit at the vacant seat."

"I was misled through bad advice," said the king.

Merlin replied, "When men are misled, they have usually first misled themselves." And the king conceded that this was perhaps true.

Then the king asked, "What has become of the man who sat in the seat?"

But Merlin replied, "It is pointless to inquire. Spend your attention on those who sit licitly and gather them together for the great feasts."

"Can I be forgiven for this failing?" asked the king.

"When cherry trees give fruit in winter, we can believe no harm was done except to the fool who sat in the empty seat," said Merlin. And the king, taking this to be the same as saying nay, was saddened.

Then King Uther Pendragon had built a great hall to hold the Round Table, and decreed formally and by law that the knights of the Table should meet every Pascha, Pentecost, Hallowmas, and Christmas, and that to the next Christmas feast the knights and barons should bring their their wives and sons and daughters. 

Chapter 14

The next Christmas was a great gathering, for, receiving the king's invitation and command, the knights and barons brought their wives and children to Cardoel. Among them were Gorlois, Duke of Trevena, which is also called Tintagel, in Kernow. He had aided Uther and his brother in the fight against Hengist, and he came with his son, Cador, and his wife, Igraine, who was sister of Gerrens, the King of Dumnonia in the westernmost parts of Kernow. When the king saw Igraine, he was astounded, and fell in love with her at once, but kept his countenance. Over the course of the feasts, however, she became aware that he often was looking at her, and she blushed. She was, however, a good woman, and therefore she avoided his presence as much as she could.

King Uther, however, was a man who was not without a sense of strategy, and, taking thought of what he might do to win her, he sent jewels to every woman at the feast. Great was the cheering of the king's name afterward among the ladies of the court, and, knowing that he had sent jewels to every lady, she did not dare refuse the gift. But she could not help but think, and she knew rightly, that the jewels that were sent to all the ladies were sent precisely so that she could not refuse hers.

At the end of the feast, the king begged all of the knights and barons to return with their wives and children at the Paschal feast, and so great had been their enjoyment at the Christmas feast that they were happy to give their assent. When Duke Gorlois left the feast, the king accompanied him a short way, showering honors upon him. He was greatly flattered by the king's attention.

When Easter came, they knights and barons gathered again with their families, and this time King Uther Pendragon gave Duke Gorlois and his family pride of place at the feast. He also gave them gifts, and Igraine dared not refuse the gifts in front of her husband. Her husband did not see it, but Igraine knew Uther's love for her, and she did not know what to do, for she was tempted, but loyal to her husband, and she could think of no one to put off the King of Logres and Duke of Britain.

Afterward, however, King Uther Pendragon was miserable from his love for Igraine, and in private consulted Sir Ector and Sir Ulfius, asking them what he should do.

Then Sir Ector said, "If you keep bringing her to court and showering her with attention, people will notice, to her dishonor and to yours."

"What then shall I do instead?" asked King Uther. "I can neither eat, nor sleep, nor ride, nor hunt, nor in any way divert myself when she is not near. I think I will die for love of her."

"If you will listen to my counsel," said Sir Ulfius, "it would be a strange thing to die for a woman, particularly when there is no need to stand waiting for death. At the next great feast, summon a court, letting everyone know that it will last for fifteen days, and this will give you time finally to speak to her and let your love be known. And, for my part, I have never known a woman who could easily defend herself against gifts of splendid jewelry, given both to herself and to those around her, and you are able more than others to give such gifts."

"You are right," said the king, "and I beg your help in this. Take from the coffers of my Wardrobe whatever you deem appropriate, and speak on my behalf to her."

So the king summoned the court at the next great feast for a fortnight and a day, and every day of the session gave to his supporters, including the Duke of Trevena, some fine jewel. Sir Ulfius for his part made occasion to speak with Igraine, bringing additional presents and sugaring them with fine words, but she would accept none of them, until finally she said, "Why do you keep giving me these things when I will not accept them?"

Then Sir Ulfius said, "How can I give you anything when you own all of Logres?"

"What does that mean?" she asked.

"Do you not have the heart of the King of Logres, whom all obey?"

Then Igraine said, "Lord have mercy! Can any true king have such treachery in him as to shower my husband with favor while shamefully trying to defile me? Sir Ulfius, never speak to me again of these things, or I will tell my husband of it, and he would surely kill you for it."

But Sir Ulfius replied, "It would be an honor to die for my king, but I know you joke in this matter because never was there a lady who could refuse a king's love, against which there is no defense."

"I will defend myself, nonetheless," said Igraine. "I will never again go to a place where I know the king will be." And to back her claim, she left at once.

Sir Ulfius returned to the king and told all that had happened. Then King Uther replied, "A good woman indeed would answer this way, for a true lady is not lightly overcome."

On the feast at the eleventh day, Sir Ulfius brought the king a golden cup decorated with many jewels in a beautiful pattern, saying, "My lord, send this cup to Igraine, asking the Duke of Trevena to bid her to take it and drink it for love of you."

So the king called Gorlois near, giving him the cup, and asked him to send the cup to his wife Igraine so that she could drink for the love him. And Gorlois, recognizing no bad intention, and thinking this another example of the king's favor to them both, called a trusted knight, whose name was Sir Brastias, directing him to give the cup to his wife so that she could drink for the king's love.

Sir Brastias obeyed. On hearing the message, Igraine flushed alternately white and red for shame, but she did not dare disobey her husband in front of the knight, so she took it and drank of it, then attempted to return the cup to Sir Brastias.

"I believe you were intended to keep it," said Sir Brastias. Then Igraine sighed and set it aside, and Sir Brastias returned to the duke and the king, thanking the king on Igraine's behalf, although she had in fact said no word at all. Later Sir Ulfius went to her and found her angry of countenance.

"How is it that I am besieged on every side by everyone?" she said furiously. Then she said, "Your lord may be treacherous enough to send me a cup, but he will get little good of it, for I will tomorrow tell my lord of the treachery that you and your lord have perpetrated on him and on me."

"I cannot prevent you," said Sir Ulfius, "but you have fire in your hands. Such a deed may not have consequences as benign as you hope." But he left her and returned to the king.

Then King Uther Pendragon grew merry and took the duke by the hand, saying, "Let us go see the ladies."

Igraine could do nothing but endure the rest of the day. But later the duke found her in her room weeping. He took her in his arms and asked her of her sorrow.

Igraine replied to him, "The king that is my lord and yours has said that he loves me, and all of his recent favors have been to the end of growing closer to me. I have tried to have nothing to do with him and his gifts, but you have made me to take his cup and drink his love. I will have any rest from him and from Sir Ulfius, his counselor, and therefore I can neither eat, nor sleep, and I beg you to take me back to Tintagel, for I fear that I will die from shame of this."

The duke was at this as wrathful as a man may be, and he sent secretly for his men throughout the town, telling them to prepare to ride and ask him no questions why. Thus Duke Gorlois and his wife Igraine, and all their men, not heeding the command of the king, which had been to stay until the quinzieme of the feast, nor petitioning for any permission to leave, rode home to their own lands.

Sunday, July 03, 2022

Fortnightly Book, July 3

 The next fortnightly book is Farewell to Valley Forge, by David Taylor. It is a book from my grandfather's library, published in 1955, and I know practically nothing about it. Finding anything about the author is very difficult; there are almost no biographies and I haven't even able to find dates of birth and death (most sites just have "fl. 1954", which one could already guess from the publication date of the book). However, I did find some brief comments in the Huguenot Society of Pennsylvania Proceedings, to give you an idea of the obscurity in which they were veiled. Apparently David Taylor and his wife were guests at a meeting at which Taylor gave the annual address for the society, so there was a short biography. According to it, he was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, but left after having received a B.S. in Engineering at Robert Gordons College in 1921. He seems to have moved around the United States, starting in Hawaii, following engineering jobs, then became a radio scriptwriter in California, where he married his wife, Theodora Engstrom in 1940. Her family apparently had a background from Northern Ireland. They eventually ended up in Valley Forge, and finally in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. He had an interest in George Washington because, according to family tradition, one of his ancestors was an officer who served under Cornwallis, but resigned his commission because of his sympathies with the American cause. His first novel, Lights Across the Delaware, was published in 1954; it and the second novel, which was Farewell to Valley Forge, were both on Washington -- the first, of course, about his famous Delaware crossing, and the second about espionage in the War of Independence. According to the same brief biography in the Huguenot Society of Pennsylvania Proceedings, Disney bought the rights to the second book and was planning on making a movie of it, but there seems to be no trace of the movie anywhere, so apparently it got stuck in production. It also says he was writing a third book, The Swamp Fox, but I haven't been able to find any trace of that, either. However, perhaps this was a matter of title change, or he decided to change topics, because Taylor did go on to write at least two more books: Sycamore Men and Storm the Last Rampart.

I put all of this here in part for anyone else who might ever be looking for who the David Taylor who wrote Lights Across the Delaware or Farewell to Valley Forge might be.

Nonetheless, Farewell to Valley Forge seems to have fans; reviews for it online are almost uniformly good, and it's not difficult to find people remarking that they picked it up by accident but enjoyed it, or that they read it when they were in school and have always remembered part of it, or that they are desperately seeking another copy because it became their favorite book and has become worn down. (This is actually true of all of Taylor's books, although the others seem even harder to find than Farewell to Valley Forge.) The story takes place in 1778 and a young man and woman are working as spies for General Washington. The Battle of Monmouth plays a role.

The book has a dedication:

To those Officers who, because they were unfaltering in their devotion to Washington, were damned by Conway's Cabal

The Conway Cabal was a loose group of officers in the Continental Army who were very critical of Washington's generalship; it never really had any organization, so 'cabal' is used figuratively. General Conway was just the best known critic because he tried to go ever the head of Washington and communicate directly with Congress. I don't know yet how it plays a role in the story, but the Postscript of the book comments, "The conspiracy known as the Conway Cabal was one of the meanest pieces of underhanded character assassinations ever attempted" (p. 317).

So we shall see how this one goes.