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Mari Christian
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Ruskin, like that other great Victorian, Lewis Carroll had a predilection for  little girls. The story of his first, disastrous marriage (which was legally declared  "non consummatum est" is told rather well in the 2014 film, "Effie Gray".

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Not quite as good as the Marseillais, but Berlioz could turn out a patriotic anthem for Louis Napoleon III when it was called for. It's no coincidence that the composition coincided with the opening of the  huge iron and glass "Palace of Industry" exhibition (1855) on the Champ de Mars (now the site of the Eiffel Tower).
 It was France's answer to England's great "Crystal Palace" exhibition of 1853.
 Those who have read Mrs Gaskell's "North and South"(1855) will remember the fateful meeting between the two main characters in the great exhibition hall of the Crystal Palace. As for the Literary reaction to the French edifice, Flaubert and his circle had nothing but contempt at Napoleon III's attempts to curry favor with the great French bourgeoisie with bread, circuses, and a steel cannon made by Krupp.

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The last thing one would want at the beginning of the New Year is a "crise de foie", crisis of the liver, the name the French seem to give anything involving the digestive organs, usually after greater than usual alcohol and rich food consumption. I usually call it "crise de foin", a hay crisis.
 

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The New Year's Day Reflections of John Quincy Adams
"Am I too old to learn?" and other New Year musings of America's 6th president.

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No better operatic villain than counter- tenor, Christopher Robson in Handel's "Ariodante".  "When cunning is shrouded in humble apparel."

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Somehow " You're hateful to my sight" sounds more emphatic when it's sung!
 But who wants to be prodded with a riding crop?

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Begin the year with a delightful Handelian lovers' quarrel from the opera "Xerxes".  Soprano, Valerie Masterson and counter-tenor, Christopher Robson sound remarkably fine together.

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