Culture, Plain Speaking, Quote of the Day, Religion

Quote of the Day: “Truth is the Daughter of Time”

Richard III earliest surviving portrait.jpgThe late Mr. Right was fond of observing the irony, as we neared the close of the first fifth of the twenty-first century, that–in a day and age where it was, for the first time, possible to view on film, and to listen on audio to, almost every single event of note from the preceding century–we were seemingly incapable of stopping ourselves from repeating the same mistakes over and over again.  He always viewed it as a mark of hubris and idiocy on the part of those who, augmented by the technology of the day, clearly had been give eyes to see and ears to hear, but who wouldn’t do either, or any, such thing.

I can’t argue with his logic.

Now, for something completely different.

Or not.

I was really hoping, this Easter week, to go to a movie.  That movie is The Lost King,  a story about one of my favorite kings, Richard III, whom I’ve written about a number of times here, most recently in August of 2022, on the 537th anniversary of his death, and–only a couple of months ago–on the anniversary of the birthday of Eleanor Farjeon, poetess extraordinaire, whose ditties informed my childhood opinions WRT British monarchs. That’s the post on which I first wrote about The Lost King, and how much I’d like to see it.

Ten years ago, an archeological excavation led by the University of Leicester discovered the skeleton of a man under a parking lot which–centuries ago–had been the graveyard of Leicester’s Greyfriars Church.  The man showed clear signs of scoliosis, a spinal malformation that some might refer to as “hunchback.”  Additonally, the man had been severely beaten, especially about the head and neck, with substantial weapons of the medieval “halberd” sort.  Other injuries appeared to be post-mortem, of the “humiliation” sort.

Got it.

Subsequent genetic testing confirmed that these were indeed the bones of Richard III, a feat of scientific exploration encompassing 20 generations and resulting in the oldest-known DNA identification case on record.

On March 26, 2015, not quite 530 years after his death, what was left of Richard III was interred in Leicester Cathedral in front of 200 members of the public who’d put their names into a drawing.  The Queen (who didn’t attend) sent a message saying that she recognized the “great national and international significance” of Richard’s reburial, and that “today, we recognise a king who lived through turbulent times and whose Christian faith sustained him in life and death.”

Count me among those who wish he could have come home to burial in York.

Richard III, one of the most consequential monarchs in British monarchical history, died 537 years ago, on August 22, 1485.

He was just 32 years old.

I’m sorry to say that a movie theater chain rather misrepresented the availability of The Lost King in the Pittsburgh area, and having implied that it would be on offer this week, somehow, subsequently, it wasn’t.


And yet.

Also somehow, my Easter Basket included two wonderful books.  One is the Philippa Langley book, The Lost King, which inspired the movie.  The other is The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey.

Philippa Langley is that incredibly useful, and often overlooked “expert,” that of a non-academic “amateur” enthusiast who isn’t beholden to any institution or any particular point of view, and who–as a result–feels herself free to dive down any rabbit hole, no matter how politically advantageous or not, in an effort to discover the actual truth.

Josephine Tey, a Scottish author who wrote under several pseudonyms, is probably best known for her series of novels about Scotland Yard detective Alan Grant.  One such novel is The Daughter of Time, which, if a reader takes it to heart, is an alternative history WRT to the traditional British, (particularly Shakespearian) narrative, and which challenges the conventional notion that Richard murdered the young princes (his nephews) in the Tower.

Now, I first read Tey’s novel, The Daughter of Time, more than half-a-century ago, on the advice of my father.  I suppose it set my feet firmly on the Ricardian path.  Somewhere along the way, between or among house and country moves, I lost the book, and I’m delighted to have the chance to read it again.

And, of course, this got me thinking as to the origin of the “Daughter of Time” quote.

Like many (perhaps even Dad), I’ve always thought it belonged to Sir Francis Bacon.  (Yeah.  I know that some loons think that SFB wrote Shakespeare’s plays.  No.  Just, no.)

But there’s still a pretty argumentative set of “evidence” indicating that “Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority,” belongs to Bacon.

And yet.

Returning to the point of the post (and, perhaps, something not so different after all):

“A bit of additional research which is gifted to me because of the times in which I live, instructs me that the original quote may belong to to Aulus Gellius, a second-century AD Roman author, and his series of volumes, Attic Nights, describing a season of nocturnal adventures in Attica (Athens and environs) and–subsequently–Rome.”

And some further drilling down brings me here (Yes, it took me a while to find this.  Your mileage, when it comes to enthusiasm, may vary.  But I’m pretty assiduous.  Perhaps that is the point.):

Is truth, actually, the “daughter of time?”

Yes, I believe she is.

I also think that believing such a thing may come only after decades of experience with what actually matters and what doesn’t. And in believing that the youth of those without wisdom may find it necessary to shout their “truth” before it’s actually confirmed.

If what you’d like to do, here, is “speak your truth,” please do so.  I will engage, I promise, civilly and rationally.

3 thoughts on “Quote of the Day: “Truth is the Daughter of Time””

  1. I remember reading a scholarly biography of Richard when in high school (I don’t remember the author, but my mother probably has it somewhere still on her shelves, since I got the book from her). This author tried to examine the crimes alleged against Richard, and one by one found them wanting in evidence. The book was probably written 50 years ago now, and little either for or against Richard has really been discovered since, save of course for his body – everything else today seems to be dogmatics for or against the king. For instance, about 24 years ago, historian John Julius Norwich put out a book entitled “Shakespeare’s Kings” wherein he argued that the accusations against Richard were largely true – often citing the very same evidence usually used against those accusations. But I suspect Norwich to have been a Tudor fan.

    By the way, speaking of Shakespeare, and thus of the question of whether Bacon was the real author, I discovered a forgotten little gem of an out of print book a few weeks ago. My copy has the original owner’s name with the year of 1896 inside the cover. The book is called “The House Boat on the Styx”. (more on it here: One of the running gags of this book set in the afterlife is that Shakespeare really didn’t write most of his works, something Samuel Johnson won’t stop hounding him about. The book is a quite tongue in cheek imagining a sort of gentlemen’s club (a la The Drones of Wodehouse fame) wherein the shades of famous men throughout history get together to dine, gamble, tell tall tales, or gamble. The debate between Noah and PT Barnum is especially good.

    1. Hm. I don’t know the Richard III book, but I’ve always been interested in that period of English history. and something of a Yorkist myself. My first exposure to Richard might have been the small volume “Kings and Queens” by Herbert and Eleanor Farjeon, which contains a useful little poem about every monarch since William I which–if it isn’t historically all that accurate–at least keeps things somewhat in context. Richard III’s begins: “Crookback Dick Had nephews two, Younger than me and Older than you…” The siblings Farjeon had no doubts about Richard’s guilt: “Crookback Dick, He longed for Power, So he smothered his nephews In the tower.” Or it may have been the nursery rhyme that starts out “For want of a nail…” I haven’t read, outside of history lessons, all that much beyond several novelizations of the period most of which are–because it confirms my bias–of revisionist Yorkist leanings.

      “The Houseboat on the Styx” sounds marvelous. A few years ago, a friend gave me “Hello Goodbye Hello” by Craig Brown, a diary of “conversations” between unlikely couples such as Marilyn Monroe and Nikita Kruschev, and T.S. Eliot and Groucho Marx. It wears out its welcome (IMHO) after a bit, but is an entertaining romp if you dip into it every now and then. I loaned my copy out to a relative several years ago (I now realize), and perhaps it’s time to retrieve it.

Leave a Reply