Madame Tussaud

Lead: Despite the advent of television and the internet, the biggest tourist attraction in Britain remains a bizarre collection of wax figures imported to England two centuries ago for a temporary stay.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Marie Tussaud (nee Grosholz) did her apprenticeship with Philippe Curtius in the heady revolutionary days of Paris, 1789. Crowds of the curious flocked to their salons to see exhibits featuring among other oddities, King Louis XVI and his Queen Marie-Antoinette eating their inedible dinner in frozen solitude. The most avid interest then and now continues to be the Chamber of Horrors, the waxed collection of notorious murderers caught in the act of taking their victims.

Emma Lazarus

Lead: At first reluctant, Emma Lazarus gave in and wrote the words that helped build the symbol of America's welcome.

Intro.: "A Moment in Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: The money wasn't coming in and Joseph Pulitzer was becoming very frustrated. Publisher of the New York World, a Hungarian immigrant who fought in the Civil War, Pulitzer had taken, as his personal crusade, the task of raising money to build the pedestal on which the colossus was to rest. The arrangement was that France would supply the statue if the United States would build the base. Work in Paris was on schedule but in America, people did not seem to be very concerned.

 

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Folies Bergere

Lead: Historically, the human desire for diversion and entertainment, like religion, morals and politics, is always nearly subject to evolution and changing tastes. Consider as an example if you will the Parisian Folies Bergère:

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

 Content: When it comes to entertainment, with apologies to F. Scott Fitzgerald, the French are not like you and me. From the middle of the 19th century until surpassed by American culture in the age of mass communication, the undisputed pace setter in entertainment was France. French theater was considered by many to be indecent, even obscene; it was certainly provocative and pushed the edge of the envelope in morals and taste. For most of that period, since its founding in 1869 as the Folies Trevise, both taking their names from nearby streets, the Folies Bergère always strove to be out front, slightly racier than the competition.

 

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Diderot’s Encyclopedie

Lead: There is no doubt. In the 1700s the best-selling book was the multi-volume Encyclopédie, edited by Jean d’Alembert and Denis Diderot.

Tag: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: This massive compendium of knowledge actually got its start as a failed attempt at a French translation of Englishman Ephraim Chambers Cyclopedia in 1745. Chambers’ work was a well-respected summary of human knowledge popular on both sides of the English Channel, but the translators did a poor job. To save the project the printer sought out d’Alembert and Diderot, two of French society’s most respected young intellects. The printer had salvage on his mind, the two future collaborators had something far ambitious on theirs. They set out to assemble a exhaustive presentation of universal facts based on a new way of thinking.

 

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Guillotine

Lead: One of the most fearsome and famous methods of capital punishment was actually developed as a more humane and democratic way of execution. It is named for an obscure member of the French National Assembly, a young physician, Joseph-Ignace Guillotine.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Decapitation as a means of execution has been a part of the human experience since the dawn of time. The quick easy removal of the victim’s head brought a swift conclusion to their earthly journey; a sharp blade, a heavy well-placed blow brought matters to a timely end. Mechanical devices for execution may have used in various European countries before 1300, but there is no evidence for this prior to the execution of Murcod Ballagh near Merton Ireland in 1307. By 1564 in Scotland such a mechanism was in common use. It was called “The Maiden,” and consisted of two grooved upright posts held together at the top by a cross-member and at the bottom by diagonal supports. The person to be offed was trussed-up, laid faced down with their neck lined up with the grooves. At the moment of execution a very heavy oblique, steel-clad, iron blade held in lead-lined wooden casing would be released and the victim’s head would be quickly and painlessly severed from his torso.

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Gutenberg Press II

Lead: In 1455, Johannes Gutenberg began the first book printed in the western world using moveable metal type. Those copies of the Gutenberg Bible that have survived are among the most valued artifacts in the world.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After spending almost two decades in Strasbourg, working secretly on a new type of printing press, Johannes Gutenberg returned to his hometown of Mainz and formed a partnership so as to exploit his revolutionary invention - movable metal type. There is evidence that movable type had been used in China for thousands of years and even in Europe before Gutenberg’s invention, but the process used fashioned letters from clay or porcelain or wood. They would break, splinter or wear down after a few uses. Gutenberg spent years solving the problem of deterioration. Blocks, each one bearing a precise metallic raised letter on its face were held together tightly in a wooden form, ink was rolled over the raised letters, then the form was pressed against paper. Because the letters were metallic they were extremely durable, could be used over and over again and reformatted to make different words and sentences.

 

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Gutenberg Press I

Lead: During the late 1430s in the Rhine valley city of Strasbourg, France, an obscure gem cutter began secretly working on an invention that would change the face of the modern world.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden was born into a patrician family in Mainz, Germany, around 1395. There is little documentation on his personal life, an ironic fate for one whose influence over modern history is almost universal. As an adult he changed his name, assuming that of one of the family’s estates. Johannes Gutenberg worked as a gem cutter and goldsmith; he possibly learned the skills of engraving from an uncle, who was master of a mint.

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Voltaire II

Lead: In 1729 François Marie Arouet, Voltaire, returned from self-imposed exile in London. He brought a reinforced determination to challenge the ancient regime in France.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: His English experience had changed Voltaire. He became enamored of the intellectual ferment that the relatively free atmosphere in Britain afforded. The work of Shakespeare, the scientific theories of Isaac Newton and others, impressed him and he envied the English their freedom of thought and commercial prosperity. Born of middle class circumstances, because of his talent, early he was thrown into aristocratic circles. He savored the comforts and pleasures of life he saw there, but also realized that financial independence would allow him to speak more freely. Almost immediately upon his return from abroad, in a very English manner, he began to improve his economic situation. Over the years prudent and clever investments reaped him a fortune and by the end of his life he was wealthy as a prince.

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