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Historians Marvel at the Discovery of a 400-Year-Old “Helpmate’s” Diary

The Thames, they-are-a-changing.

While this startling discovery was not as crown-shattering as that of King Richard III’s bashed skull found beneath a Leicester parking lot in 2012, the unearthing of 23-year-old Mrs. Prudence Goodheart’s diary during excavations at a London Underground Station has antiquarians salivating in their spittoons. Written on durable vellum, the well-preserved journal was found buried in a sealed chamber pot at Charing Cross Station. The diary dates from 1600 and brims with keen insights into the grimy life and murky times of ante incendium London (before the Great Fire of London in 1665). I’ve taken the liberty of translating the journal from Ye Olde English into Ye New English and its archaic syntax has been updated to make it more readable. For example, Prudence’s antiquated entry of June 15th “With thine own beef I do reject thee” has been modernized to read “I think we should see other people.”

 

Mrs. Goodheart’s fascinating catalogue of ancient events arouses the imagination and plucks the mystic chords of memory as we survey her clogs-on-the-ground account of London’s early 17th century life. Those souls consigned to that period had to live this life. We pampered readers 400 years hence are privy to it like a fly on the wall; or perhaps more time-appropriately, like a louse on the scalp. The diary’s unique window on this hoary world animates the sights, smells and customs of the Olde World in ways that make one appreciate the abundant privilege of this age. With its unburnished, firsthand accounts, the journal captures the zeitgeist of the period. It then releases this zeitgeist on its own recognizance and parades it around for everyone to see and enjoy. Who doesn’t love a parade?

 

Do we identify with these historic events through some kind of morphic resonance drawn from the collective unconscious? Or is our interest more prosaic – a simple curiosity in old timey affairs told in the first person? The main take away at this point is that you’re still reading this. And if you continue we will commence on a profitable frolic where I do the driving and you can sit comfortably in the passenger seat, drinking in the countryside and whatever hipster beverage is in your stainless-steel hydration flask. So buckle up and enjoy history’s histrionics. And remember, with me doing the driving, there’ll be one extra air bag in the vehicle.  Read the rest of this entry »