In the late 19th Century, natural science was expanding its frontiers in ways that we can’t even imagine today. Modern biology wouldn’t exist were it not for the scientists that had to stand up to the conservative and critical audience of this era. The most heralded natural scientist associated with this evolution of thought is Charles Darwin. Together with Alfred Wallace, Darwin described the theory of natural selection. Darwin published his “The Origin of Species” in 1858 sparking much scientific debate.
Examples of blind cave fish from the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky have been known to science since 1841. There are a number of different species that live in the waters of dark limestone caves and as a response to this lightless existence; they no longer have eyes. The fish are small, around 10cm and range in colour from white to light pink. They find their way around the dark tunnels using their other senses and are particularly touch sensitive. It is listed as Vulnerable to extinction by the IUCN primarily due to its limited habitat range.
Cassandra is a tragic figure of Greek mythology. She was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy. It is said that she was intelligent, kind, gentle and desirable. It was also said that she was insane. She was beautiful enough for comparisons to be made between her and Helen of Troy and Aphrodite. Unfortunately she was beautiful enough to be noticed by the gods, and Apollo fell in love with her. As a gift he granted her prophetic powers.
When she did not return his love, he cursed her. She retained her ability to predict the future but no one would believe her. She remained powerless to help when she predicted the fall of Troy and the use of the Trojan Horse. She had to witness the body of her brother, Helenus being carried back from the battle. This tragic story inspired ABBA’s 1982 song, “Cassandra”.
The Earl of Chatham was William Pitt the Elder (1708-1778), the Secretary of State who directed Britain's involvement in the Seven Years War and the Prime Minister who gave the city of Pittsburgh its name. He collapsed in the House of Lords on 7 April 1778, during a debate on the American War of Independence. He died at home the following month.
The painting (1779), by American artist John Singleton Copley, depicts Pitt's collapse (not death). It hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, and a high resolution image can be found here.
Napoleon Bonaparte was coronated Emperor of the French on 2 December 1804 at Notre Dame de Paris.
George Rignold (1839-1912) was an English actor who also received acclaim in the USA and Australia. His parents had been actors too, which allowed him to begin his career at a very young age. His good looks earned him the nicknames 'Rignold Rex' and 'Handsome George'; female audience members reportedly fought to gain his attention. He played the role of Henry V on numerous occasions, and became so identified with the part that Staffordshire figures were made of him as the king on horseback. Rignold was married twice, had no children, and left his £11,000 estate to the Royal General Theatrical Fund.
Born in Lille in 1837 as Charles Auguste Emile Durand, Carolus-Duran was a noted French painter who specialised in portraits. After completing his studies at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, he received further instruction in Spain and Italy. He later became a teacher himself of such students as John Singer Sargent, Harper Pennington, Irving Wiles, Otto Bacher and James Beckwith. In 1890, a year after receving the Legion of Honour, he was one of a group of artists to help resurrect the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, along with Puvis de Chavannes, Auguste Rodin, and others. He died in 1917; his work now hangs in galleries around the world.