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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

TOILET HUMOUR - TWO

I find it odd that although almost every American knows his name, almost no one knows he invented a device you use - we all use - several times a day. His father, the senior John Harington, was an acquisitive accountant, who for ten years relieved the King of money intended to feed the starving Royal army. Instead, Harington piped the funds into his own accounts, to buy a poo-pourri of properties for himself, far from suspicious noses - estates such as Oakham, Lordshold, Burley, Exton, Ridlington, Cottesmore, Stretton, Clipsham, Greetham, North Luffenham and Leighfield Forest . But these feculent felonies came to an abrupt end in 1548 when a religious fanatic named John Bradford turd him in, and Harington had to wash his hands of some of the money. His bum deal got worse in January 1549 when our patriarchal hero was arrested for treason, because of the stupidity and treason of his boss, Sir John Seymour.
Treason doth never prosper, what’s the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.”
Sir John Harington 1561 - 1612
It took two swings of the ax to separate Seymour's treasonous head from his shoulders, but it proved even more difficult to taint John Harington as privy to any of Seymour's reginacidal plots. Harington was finally discharged in the spring of 1550, still holder of his properties, which were earning almost £6000 a year in rents. Out of power, Harington gambled, and inserted himself in the household of 15 year old Elizabeth Tudor, even writing her poetry when Bloody Queen Mary locked the Protestant princess in the Tower of London in 1554. Harington was ecstatic when Elizabeth was released a few months later, but I doubt he gave a shite when Bloody Mary sentenced his old servant, the moralistic John Bradford, to burn at the stake in 1555 (below)
Said he could wish, and did (as for his part) All Cuckolds (drown) in the Thames, with all his heart. But straight a pleasant Knight replied to him, I hope your Lordship learned how to swim.”
Sir John Harington 1561 - 1612
In 1559, John Harrington senior married Isabella Markham, Maid-of-Honor to now Queen Elizabeth Tudor. As a wedding present Good Queen Bess gave John an estate called Stoughton Grange (above), about 70 miles northwest of London. In was a small compared to those he had acquired with his ill gotten booty, but it was the royal thought that counts. Then, in 1661 Isabella Harington gave birth to a son, John junior, and Queen Elizabeth pledged at the boy's christening to stand as God Mother for her “Boy Jack”.
Best fishing in troubled waters.”
Sir John Harington 1561 - 1612
John Harington junior (above)  was educated in the law, but when John senior died in 1582, the ambitious and handsome young man dropped out of school and concentrated on becoming a success at court, where everything depended on Elizabeth's mood. He once wrote to a friend, “The Queen doth love to see me last (jacket) and said “Tis well enough to be cute." I will have another made liken to it.” Rising and falling by his wits and his poetic wit, he was alternately famous and infamous at court for his clever risque poetry and epigrams. After ten years of such effort John decided his family had passed through the sphincter of history , and come out smelling like a rose. And in 1596, John decided to share with humanity what he had learned in the passing.
A Courtier, kind in speech, cursed in condition, Fell to a flattering and most base submission, Vowing to kiss his foot, if he were bidden.My foot? (said he) nay, that were too submissive. But three foot higher you deserve to be kissing.”
Sir John Harington 1561 - 1612
John's most lasting work was titled “A New Discourse of a Stale Subject, Called the Metamorphosis of the Ajax” - the Greek hero whose constipated ego (“No man but Ajax can conquer Ajax!”) drove him to fall on his own sword. According to John, the name Ajax was a synonym for “A Jake”, meaning a joke, and so often referring to toilet gags that the name became pseudonymous with the toilet itself. John noted in his essay on Jakes, “...many had recognized the problems of “a stinking privy” but little had been done to correct it” So in his little book John progressed from documenting “privy faults” to suggesting improvements to “privy vaults” - to the design of the Jake itself.  John believed that if he built a better toilet, the world would beat a path to his bathroom door.
New friends are no friends; how can that be true? The oldest friends that are, were sometimes new.”
Sir John Harington 1561 - 1612
John's instructions for a better toilet, what came to be called a “water closet”,  were relatively simple. “In the privy that annoys you, first cause a cistern... to be placed either in the room or above it, from whence the water may, by a small pipe...be conveyed under the seat in the hinder part thereof ... to which pipe you must have a small cock or washer, to yield water with some pretty strength...Next make a vessel of an oval form, as broad at the bottom as at the top...place this very close to your seat....” Even John had to admit that his water closet was not a radical new invention, writing   “...it is but a standing close-stool easily emptied”. But, “..this being well done, and orderly kept, your worst privy may be as sweet as your best chamber.”
Fair, rich, and young? How rare is her perfection, Were it not mingled with one foul infection. I mean, so proud a heart, so cursed a tongue, As makes her seem, not fair, nor rich, nor young.”
Sir John Harington 1561 - 1612
The book was immediately popular, and went into three printings. I can even imagine Queen Elizabeth (above), reading John's book while sitting on the flush John she had installed in her palace. But she thought John's John too noisy - it frightened her. And the book was also a failure as a sales tool for flush toilets.. You see, John was not a plumber, he was a poet. To poets, everything is an analogy, even poop. So John spent most of his book drawing the analogy between the sewage that clogged the Thames River, and the sewage that clogged the Queen's court. John considered his political opponents literal shits. But Queen Elizabeth had learned at an early age that to keep her head she could never completely trust or completely offend the powerful and wealthy egos constantly maneuvering for her affections. And John's “New Discourse” had offended too many. She ordered her “Boy John” to leave her court.
Fortune, men say, doth give too much to many: But yet she never gave enough to any.”
Sir John Harington 1561 - 1612
John was allowed back in a few years. Elizabeth could never stay mad at her “saucy Godson” for long. But neither could she trust him for long. Sent to keep an eye on an Irish military expedition headed by the Earl of Essex, John accepted a knighthood from the ambitious Earl.  The expedition was a failure, and Elizabeth suspected a plot was brewing. Essex was thrown in the Tower, and John was once again exiled from court.
Faustus finds fault, my Epigrams are short, Because to read them, he doth make some sport: I thank thee, Faustus, though thou judges wrong, Ere long I'll make thee swear they be too long.”
Sir John Harington 1561 - 1612
When good Queen Bess died in March of 1603, she was succeeded by James I, the son of Elizabeth's greatest rival, Mary Queen of Scots. John Harington tried to attach himself to the new king, but it was a bad fit, and he was never invited to court.. John Harington, inventor of the flush John, died in 1612. He left behind nine children. But his invention of the flush toilet never caught on because he had solved only half of the number one problem, which is where do you put number two. If humans were ever going to return to the Garden of Eden toilet, they must solve both halves. The pipe that carried the poo from the loo, would have to end someplace - meaning someplace else.
From your confessor, lawyer and physician, Hide not your case on no condition.”
Sir John Harington 1561 - 1612
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