Pesky pets in a po­lit­i­cal coo

Daily Mail - - Freeview Primetime Planner - Com­piled by Charles Legge

QUES­TION Have any em­bar­rass­ing in­ci­dents been caused by the pets of po­lit­i­cal lead­ers?

Pete, a bull ter­rier, was much loved by U.S. Pres­i­dent teddy Roo­sevelt and his fam­ily, even though he had a dis­po­si­tion for vi­o­lence.

the dog’s pen­chant for at­tack­ing dig­ni­taries drew the at­ten­tion of the Press, with one jour­nal­ist not­ing: ‘Since his last man- eat­ing es­capade, when he chased a South Amer­i­can diplo­mat up a tree and in­ci­den­tally chewed two or three po­lice­men who went to the aid of a dis­tin­guished for­eigner, Pete has been on pro­ba­tion.’

Roo­sevelt tried to dis­miss Pete’s tem­per­a­ment as ‘the na­ture of the breed’ or ‘his at­ti­tude to­wards their po­lit­i­cal stances’. But the fi­nal straw came when he at­tacked the French am­bas­sador, Jean Jules Jusserand, rip­ping his trousers.

Pete chased him ‘down a White House cor­ri­dor, ul­ti­mately catch­ing up with him and then tear­ing the bot­tom out of his pants’. the French gov­ern­ment com­plained and Pete was ban­ished to the Roo­sevelt fam­ily’s coun­try home.

An­other badly be­haved pet was Poll, Pres­i­dent An­drew Jack­son’s African grey par­rot. Poll’s long as­so­ci­a­tion with ‘Old Hick­ory’ clearly rubbed off on him. On June 8, 1845, thou­sands gath­ered for the pres­i­dent’s fu­neral — only to be greeted by the par­rot, who swore like a sailor.

Ac­cord­ing to the pre­sid­ing rev­erend: ‘Be­fore the ser­mon and while the crowd was gath­er­ing, a wicked par­rot that was a house­hold pet got ex­cited and com­menced swear­ing so loud and long as to dis­turb the peo­ple and had to be car­ried from the house’. Peo­ple were ‘hor­ri­fied and awed at the bird’s lack of rev­er­ence’.

even worse was the Shet­land ram owned by thomas Jef­fer­son, one of 40 sheep used to graze the White House lawn.

Pedes­tri­ans were at­tacked by the beast. Wil­liam Keough wrote to Jef­fer­son: ‘ In pass­ing through the Pres­i­dent’s Square, I was at­tacked and se­verely wounded and bruised by your ex­cel­lency’s ram, of which I lay ill for five or six weeks.’

Ac­cord­ing to the diary of Jef­fer­son’s friend Anna Maria thorn­ton, there was ‘a fine lit­tle boy killed by the ram that the pres­i­dent has’.

Heather Lowes, Rish­worth, S. Yorks. WIN­STON CHURCHILL was a great an­i­mal lover and as well as pet poo­dles and cats, he was fond of the live­stock on his coun­try es­tate, Chartwell.

A favourite pet was toby, a budgeri­gar, who was al­lowed to fly freely around the Prime Min­is­ter’s study, sit on his head and peck at his cigars.

Rab But­ler, Churchill’s Chan­cel­lor of the ex­che­quer be­tween 1951 and 1955, was ‘dec­o­rated’ by the budgie re­peat­edly dur­ing one meet­ing. He later wrote: ‘It is un­be­liev­able what I do for our Win­ston.’

toby would even share Churchill’s brandy, once top­pling into his glass.

Alain Thomas, Ip­swich, Suf­folk.

QUES­TION What are the Il­lu­mi­nati, which are men­tioned in Dan Brown’s books?

THE Il­lu­mi­nati were in­tel­lec­tu­als and aca­demics whose im­por­tance was far less sig­nif­i­cant than the mythol­ogy that sur­rounds them would sug­gest.

Dan Brown fea­tures them in his books the Da Vinci Code and An­gels And Demons. He de­scribes them as start­ing in the life­time of Galileo, but that was 200 years ear­lier than their ac­tual found­ing.

Mod­ern mythol­ogy has the Il­lu­mi­nati be­hav­ing as Machi­avel­lian con­spir­a­tors, pulling the strings of power from be­hind the scenes or, bizarrely, as pan-di­men­sional be­ings, snatch­ing peo­ple from death and trans­port­ing them to the future to main­tain the hu­man race.

the Il­lu­mi­nati were founded on May 1, 1776 in Bavaria by Adam Weishaupt, a lay pro­fes­sor of canon law at the Je­suit In­gol­stadt Univer­sity. the Je­suits op­posed the ap­point­ment of non-cler­i­cal teach­ing staff. Weishaupt es­tab­lished the Il­lu­mi­nati as a se­cret op­po­si­tion to the univer­sity’s Je­suits.

He re­cruited four stu­dents and they adopted the owl of Min­erva, the Roman god­dess of wis­dom, as their sym­bol and used aliases.

the group soon ex­panded, form­ing a branch in Mu­nich and re­cruit­ing in­flu­en­tial peo­ple as mem­bers.

Rit­ual formed just as much a part of the or­gan­i­sa­tion as the ex­change of aca­demic ideas. the Il­lu­mi­nati was granted a war­rant to form its own Ma­sonic lodge, the theodore of the Good Coun­cil, named after the elec­tor (ruler) of Bavaria.

It quickly grew big enough to split from its mother lodge in Frank­furt and started found­ing new lodges of its own un­der the um­brella of Freema­sonry.

How­ever, in­ter­nal dis­sent and the po­lit­i­cal and so­cial mis­be­haviour of mem­bers led to its de­cline and even­tual dis­band­ment. After se­cret so­ci­eties were banned, the Il­lu­mi­nati ceased to ex­ist in 1785.

But ru­mours per­sisted that it had gone un­der­ground. Books by the 18th-cen­tury au­thors John Ro­bi­son and Au­gustin Bar­ru­ell stated that the Il­lu­mi­nati were be­hind the French Rev­o­lu­tion, which would have fit­ted with the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s po­lit­i­cal ideals.

the books made their way across the At­lantic to the newly founded U.S., and it is likely that these were the folk ori­gins by which the mod­ern story of the Il­lu­mi­nati grew.

Bob Cu­bitt, Northamp­ton.

QUES­TION Rich­mal Cromp­ton and Enid Bly­ton were teach­ers be­fore be­com­ing suc­cess­ful au­thors. Which other au­thors took this path to fame?

FUR­THER to the ear­lier an­swer, there is a the­ory that Shake­speare spent his ‘lost’ early years work­ing as a school­mas­ter in the vil­lage of titch­field in Hampshire.

lo­cal his­to­ri­ans be­lieve the Bard was a school­mas­ter there be­tween 1589 and 1592. the the­ory has its roots in his re­la­tion­ship with his pa­tron Henry Wrio­thes­ley, 3rd earl of Southamp­ton.

Other well- known teacher/ au­thors in­clude lewis Car­roll, who was a math­e­mat­ics tu­tor at Ox­ford while pen­ning Alice’s Ad­ven­tures In Won­der­land and through the look­ing-Glass.

the Hob­bit’s cre­ator J. R. R. tolkien taught at leeds Univer­sity and Ox­ford, and Al­dous Hux­ley, au­thor of Brave new World, was a French teacher at eton.

Mrs An­drea Mal­ley, St Ives, Corn­wall.

IS THERE a ques­tion to which you have al­ways wanted to know the an­swer? Or do you know the an­swer to a ques­tion raised here? Send your ques­tions and an­swers to: Charles Legge, An­swers To Cor­re­spon­dents, Daily Mail, 2 Derry Street, Lon­don, W8 5TT; fax them to 01952 780111 or email them to [email protected]­ly­ A se­lec­tion will be pub­lished but we are not able to en­ter into in­di­vid­ual cor­re­spon­dence.

An­i­mal lover: Win­ston Churchill

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