I’m sorry I am but nothing will ever top this gif this is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen and I want to kiss this dog
He’s ready for an adventure
A Prophecy Fulfilled —- The Death of John Partridge.
Despite being the “Age of Enlightenment” 18th Century Europe was just as weird and superstitious as ever. One of the most popular forms of mysticism was astrology, and every year astrologers made tons of money publishing their predictions in almanacs. John Partridge was one of the most popular Astrologers in England (he was also a shoe-maker and quack doctor). Like pretty much all other astrologers Partridge’s predictions were cryptic, vague, and mostly wrong. While Partridge had many supporters, he also had many detractors who accused him of being a fraud.
In 1708 a new astrologer named Isaac Bickerstaff began to publish his own astrologers almanac with the claim that it was written “to prevent the people of England from being farther imposed on by vulgar almanack-makers.” Among Bickerstaff’s predictions was the incredible claim that Partridge would die on the 29th of March, 1708. Partridge scoffed at the prediction, calling it a lie and a hoax. The people of England waited in anticipation.
On the 30th of March, 1708, a letter was written to a London newspaper and published claiming to be written by a man employed by Partridge who had witnessed his death on the 29th. The next day, April 1st, newspapers published John Partridges’ obituary along with the accompanying eulogy,
Here five foot deep lyes on his back
A cobbler, starmonger, and quack…
Who to the stars in pure good-will,
Does to his best look upward still.
Weep all you customers that use
His pills, his almanacks or shoes.
People all over England were shocked, as the kingdom’s most famous astrologer was now dead, and a new “true” astrologer had taken his place. Perhaps the most stunned Englishman of all was John Partridge himself, who happened to be very much alive.
While Partridge was indeed alive, he might as well have died, as the false prophecy was none other than a cleverly orchestrated self fulfilling prophecy created by Isaac Bickerstaff. A special memorial was held, funded by Bickerstaff, to honor the life and “death” of Partridge. News of Partridge’s death spread all over England. Even church officials, undertakers, and mourners arrived at his door to settle his affairs.
The people of England were so convinced of his “death” that it was impossible for Partridge to convince anyone he was alive. He wrote several letters proclaiming he was alive, but all were countered with letters from “witnesses” who could prove he had died, all of which were actually secretly written by Bickerstaff. In his public dealings Partridge always had to go out of his way to convince others that he was indeed alive and that he was the real John Partridge. He was even declared legally dead at one point, which caused him terrible legal and financial repercussions. The fallout from the hoax last the rest of his life. Despite being very much alive, there was one thing that Isaac Bickerstaff had managed to truly kill, Partridge’s reputation. Partridges phony medical and astrology career took a nosedive after the hoax. While financially secure, his public career as a quack doctor and astrologer was over. Jonathon Partridge really died in 1715.
So who was Bickerstaff and why did he perpetrate such an elaborate hoax on Partridge? As it turns out Isaac Bickerstaff was the pseudonym of none other than Jonathan Swift, the writer and enlightenment satirist famous for penning Gullivers Travels. Swift loved to play elaborate (and devastating) pranks on his enemies on April Fools Day, especially charlatans who preyed upon the people’s ignorance.
Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (8 January 1836 – 25 June 1912) was a Dutch painter of special British denizenship.
Born in Dronrijp, the Netherlands, and trained at the Royal Academy of Antwerp, Belgium, he settled in England in 1870 and spent the rest of his life there. A classical-subject painter, he became famous for his depictions of the luxury and decadence of the Roman Empire, with languorous figures set in fabulous marbled interiors or against a backdrop of dazzling blue Mediterranean Sea and sky.
Though admired during his lifetime for his draftsmanship and depictions of Classical antiquity, his work fell into disrepute after his death, and only since the 1960s has it been re-evaluated for its importance within nineteenth-century English art.