John Harington (writer)
gigatos | January 25, 2022
Sir John Harington (August 4, 1560 (1560-08-04), Somerset – November 20, 1612) was an English poet, courtier to Elizabeth I Tudor (he was her godson). Son of John Harington, poet and associate of King Henry VIII and Princess Elizabeth.
After his father”s death in July 1582, he returned to the family estate of Kelston, where he began to translate into English the poem of Italian poet Ludovico Ariosto “The Furious Roland. Work on the vast poem, consisting of three thousand verses, went hard and, by Harington”s own admission, took him “many years, months, weeks, and days.” The translation was completed in late 1592 and retained the verse size of the original (octavo). It was preceded by a preface, A Preface, or Briefe Apologie of Poetne. He dedicated the first edition of his translation to Queen Elizabeth. This book was reprinted in 1607 and 1634, and his translation is highly praised, still important, and sought after by English-speaking readers to the present day. In 1583 Harington married Mary Rogers. He had nine children (other reports say 15), two of whom died at birth.
The Creation of the Water Closet and the Treatise of Ajax Metamorphosis
Harington is credited with the invention and creation for the elderly Queen Elizabeth I of the water-flush toilet, the first in Europe, described by himself in verse in 1596. Even before his invention there were other variations of toilets with a flush, the authorship of which is not precisely defined. The most famous is the project of Leonardo da Vinci, who at the end of his life, while living in France, created a version of a flush toilet in the form of a seat, to which was led water for flushing, going into a drain tank or pit. However, this invention by Da Vinci was not put into practice. Harington”s invention cost 6 shillings and 8 pence but was not widely used. Some authors have expressed doubts as to whether Harington”s toilet was used in practice. A description of such a toilet is contained in an allegorical treatise, A New Discourse on an Old Subject, with the subtitle Metamorphosis of Ajax, under the pseudonym Misakmos (Hater of Mud), which he sent to the Queen in 1596. It contains satirical allusions to the court life and private life of the queen. The book is divided into three parts, with the second part containing a description of the device and a guide to the operation of the toilet, illustrated by Harington”s servant, Thomas Coome. When a lever on the side of the seat is pressed, a valve opens and water flows from the cistern into the bottom of the bowl, then flushes into the cesspool below. The book also mentions where to buy the necessary parts and how much they cost. Harington had such a device installed on his estate but it did not survive, having been burned during the peasant disturbances. According to historian Anne Whitelock, one of the epigrams he addressed to “The ladies of the Queen”s inner chambers after cleaning their perfumed latrine at Richmond” is evidence that one water toilet of Harington”s design was installed in London”s Richmond Palace and was functioning. The authors of the book “World History (Toilet)” hold the same opinion, noting that Harington not only authored Europe”s first indoor flushing water closet design, but also managed to make two working examples. The euphemism “John,” used in English-speaking countries, particularly in the United States, is believed by some researchers to go back to Harington and his invention, although this claim has its detractors. At the time, the water closet, though famous, was not popular due to the lack of sewage and water supplies, and numerous taunts were directed at its inventor, affecting the queen as well, as some insinuated that Harington”s device suspiciously resembled the king”s throne. After these events, the poet was in disgrace for several years and lived on his estate.
Harington”s letters and small works resulted in the collection Nugae Antiquae (1769-1775). Harington became famous for his satirical poems and epigrams. In all, he wrote more than 400 epigrams, which were distributed in unpublished form. Only one edition of his epigrams was printed during his lifetime. Harington”s epigram “On Treason” became famous in the USSR and in Russia, which in his free translation S. Y. Marshak called “The Simple Truth”: “Rebellion cannot end with luck, –
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