Your RDA of Irony

English Hystery

On this day in 1649, King Charles I ascended the scaffold. He turned to the crowd and began making perfunctory compliments about English dairy products. With his usual keenness, Charles thought that he was addressing the opening of an agricultural fair. He could not ignore the angry cries of the mob, so Charles offered to cure any of them of scrofula.

Charles, who was known to have lost tic-tac-toe matches to an untrained chicken, had to be informed that he was the guest of honor at his execution. The embarrassed executioneer asked, “Don’t you remember your treason trial?” Charles recalled attending some sort of debate but really hadn’t follow the topic. “Boring lawyer chitchat, you know.”

Realizing now, however, that he was about to lose more than tic-tac-toe, Charles did rationalize the advantages of decapitation. “Well, it would make painting my portrait easier.”

p.s. I may have taken a few liberties with the last words (and meager thoughts) of Charles I. But the victory of Parliament over the King guaranteed me those liberties. Thank you Mr. Cromwell.

  1. karen finerman says:

    What is scrofula?

  2. Peggles says:

    Whatever scrofula is, it sure sounds nasty!

  3. Scrofula is a disfiguring skin condition that leaves your skin blotched and rubbery. Samuel Johnson had it, so he was not known for his good looks. According to folklore, the touch of a monarch could cure scrofula; until the 18th century, people still believed it. There is a portrait of Queen Anne touching the afflicted; here is an alcoholic woman with dropsy trying to cure scrofula; the patients were lucky that her conditions weren’t contagious.

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