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4776.  Sun Jan 18, 2004 10:56 am Reply with quote

Noteworthy Events What Happened in the Bath

#3 in an Occasional Series: The assassination of Marat.

Radical journalist Jean-Paul Marat (who I have always thought could be played by the young Ricardo Montalban -- compare and contrast: and was formerly a court physician to French Royalty and an author of several scientific papers on diseases of the eyes.

One of the many agitators behind the French revolution, he contracted a skin disease (or a variety of diseases, I can't find any retrodiagnoses) while spending weeks hiding in the sewers of Paris to avoid arrest. Subsequently, he spent most of his life in his bath to alleviate the constant itching that he suffered. His work and social life were conducted from the tub.

On 13 July 1793, a 24-year-old woman called Charlotte Corday arrived for an unscheduled audience with Marat. After a brief discussion with Marat, in which she gave him a list of supposed "Girondists", she pulled a knife from her scarf and plunged it into his chest, piercing his lung, aorta and left ventricle. He called out, "A moi, ma chère amie!," and died.

It is known that Corday had made contact with the moderate Girondists in Normandy, who believed that Marat (as one of the authors of the post-revolutionary "Reign of Terror") must die, but that she was put up to it by the Girondists has never been proven. At her trial, she testified that she had acted entirely alone.

David's famous portrait of the slain Marat --
-- is slightly wrong in that Marat didn't languish in a tin tub. His bath was a boot-shaped one known as a "sabot" (clog) in France, in which the bather sits upright, with only his head and shoulders visible above the opening of the "boot".

Corday was guillotined four days after this act of sabotage*. Her severed head was lifted by the executioner and slapped on both cheeks as a final insult. Eyewitnesses swore that the face took on an angry expression and flushed as though with indignation. This is not improbable, as many experiments have confirmed that severed heads retain consciousness for anything up to a minute before lack of oxygen causes brain death (perhaps a Beheadings thread is in order?).

(* Most sources I have consulted give the following etymology for "sabotage":, appropriately enough)

s: various, a good online summary on Marat can be found at:; stuff on the guilltine at (includes the "blushing" legend).

Marat's "sabot": Clean and Decent, p 173, with contemporary engraving showing the real shape of Marat's bath.

4778.  Sun Jan 18, 2004 11:29 am Reply with quote

More Noteworthy Events What Happened In The Bath:

Jean-Paul Marat was a leader of the French Revolution of 1789. After his resignation, Marat shared his apartment in Rue des Cordeliers No.30 (today it is Rue de l'Ecole de Médecin No. 22) with his lover, Simonne Evrad, her sister Catherine, the cook Jeanette Maréchal and the printer Laurent Bas. The apartment consisted of an anteroom, three rooms and a bath-room.

Marie-Anne Charlotte Corday D'Armont was descended from a poor aristocratic family and lived in Caen, where she associated with members of the extremist revolutionary group, the Gironde. She saw Marat as a betrayer of the Revolution, and saw herself as another Joan of Arc, or a Judith slaying Holofernes. When she left Caen on July 9th 1793 to go to Paris she left her Bible open at Judith 13, 1-10.

On July 13th 1793 Charlotte called at Marat's apartment and asked to see him. Simonne and later Catherine refused to admit her, because Marat was ill. Charlotte went away and wrote a fake letter of introduction for herself, and came back in the evening to try again. Marat heard the disputes at the door and asked them to let her in.

Marat was lying in the bath-tub because the hot summer of 1793 had aggravated his skin complaint, and he hoped the cold water would soothe it. Corday told him that there was a Gironde conspiracy in Caen, and Marat wrote the names down while sitting in his tub. Suddenly Charlotte Corday pulled a knife out of her dress and stabbed Marat, piercing the right lung, the aorta and the heart.

Charlotte Corday was arrested and brought on trial on July 17th. She was guillotined the same day.

Marat was buried on July 16th. The funeral was planned by the painter Jacques-Louis David - a close friend of Marat's, who had visited him only the day before his death - and arranged by the Cordeliers club. David wanted to have the dead body sitting in the tub at the funeral, but the doctor who embalmed the corpse said that wouldn't be possible because of the rash and the putrefaction that had set in quickly in the heat. Nevertheless Marat was laid out in his apartment only covered with a wet cloth which symbolised the tub. Beside the corpse sat Simonne. An enormous crowd of people passed to pay Marat their respects.

Towards five o'clock in the evening the funeral procession started. Twelve men carried the coffin followed by children with cypress branches, then some deputies of the National Convent, representatives of the authorities, members of the revolutionary clubs and the afflicted crowd. While the procession went trough Paris a cannon on Pont-Neuf fired every five minutes. The procession took over six hours. Drumbeats were interspersed with arias by Gluck and patriotic songs.

The air was filled with the smell of aromatic substances and incense. This was not just to glorify the dead, but also to conceal the increasingly penetrating smell of the decay. It must have been a gruesome sight. Although the body had been coated with white powder, the green colour of the corpse and the rash became noticeable. The hang out of the tongue had been prevent by cutting it off before the embalming, but it hadn't been possible to close the rolled eyes. Marat was buried in the garden of the Cordeliers club, and the eulogies went on until midnight.

Probably very shortly after Marat's death a Jacobin called Dr. Curtius made under Jacques-Louis David's direction a wax figure of Marat. In 1802 this was taken with thirty-five other figures by Curtius' niece Madame Tussaud to London. There she opened the famous waxwork museum. It is not clear if the figure one can see today is the original one from the 18th century. David also painted his famous picture of the death of Marat, which can be seen here:

Last edited by Jenny on Mon Jan 19, 2004 11:06 am; edited 2 times in total

4781.  Sun Jan 18, 2004 11:48 am Reply with quote

I'm guessing we just cross-posted. How's that for parallelism? Nice work on the Marat front.

How did you get that picture to appear? I can't fathom out how you'd code your post to make it happen.

4783.  Sun Jan 18, 2004 12:19 pm Reply with quote

Not sure whether that's great minds thinking alike or fools seldom differing Garrick, but I like to think the former :-)

I used the link ; you can make it come up as a picture if it's just a .jpg file or a .gif file and you hit the Img button at the top before and after posting so that your post looks like (but with square brackets instead of round) (img)

4784.  Sun Jan 18, 2004 12:21 pm Reply with quote

Hmm - it seems to have broadened the page somewhat - shall I edit it to get rid of the picture and just leave the link, do you think, or is it not enough of a distortion to bother you?

4790.  Sun Jan 18, 2004 1:04 pm Reply with quote

It doesn't bother me especially, but people with different browser configs might differ on that point. Wait and see if you get any protests. Many thanks for telling me how to do that, the posting instructions are a bit skimpy on that point (he said, refusing to admit he might not have read them properly).

Anyway, it'll only cause an annoyance (if at all) on this page of the thread, and the size of that pic surely means that we'll soon be on page six.

4808.  Sun Jan 18, 2004 5:47 pm Reply with quote

The problem was to determine the volume of the crown. The kind did not want Archimedes to harm the crown in any way. How do you calculate the volume of a crown?

Although of course this is how you can work out the volume of an object, I'd always understood that the discovery which Archimedes was supposed to have made was a somewhat less obvious one, viz that a body immersed in a fluid is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the displaced fluid.

4820.  Mon Jan 19, 2004 5:17 am Reply with quote

Never heard that. I always thought that that was just "The Archimedes Principle" in honour of Archie's bath-tub brainwave (same thing, only different). Mind you, I haven't checked this, so will report back.

4823.  Mon Jan 19, 2004 6:36 am Reply with quote

Noteworthy Events What HAVEN'T Happened in the Bath

#1 in a series of (probably) 1: The Coriolis Effect.

Don't know about anyone else, but I had always taken this as an article of faith. Water goes down the plughole clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and anti-clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere (or is it the other way around?), while water at the equator will drain straight down with nary a swirl nor twist.

Oddly enough, with the opportunity to check staring most of us in the face at least once a day, this Well-Known Fact is not true.

The twisting effect of the Coriolis force is real and does influence certain large things like the movement of air masses, but the effect is so small that it plays no role in determining the direction in which water rotates as it exits from a draining sink or toilet. The Coriolis effect produces a measurable effect over huge distances and long periods of time, neither of which applies to your bathroom. Toilets and sinks drain in the directions they do because of the way water is directed into them or pulled from them. If water enters in a swirling motion (as it does when a toilet is flushed, for example), the water will exit in that same swirling pattern; as well, most basins have irregular surfaces and are not perfectly level, factors which influence the direction in which water spirals down their drains. The configuration of taps and drains is responsible for the direction of spin given to water draining from sinks and bathtubs to a degree that overwhelms the slight influence of the Coriolis force.

(snopes also adds that the same force acts on projectiles:
a cannonball fired due north will veer a teeny bit to the east, and one fired to the south will deflect ever so slightly to the west, something a skilled gunner would make an adjustment for.

-- which I can't get my head around at all, and am highly suspicious about).

The following site explains more than any sane person could actually ever wish to know about the Coriois Effect, and castigates the Saintly Michael Palin for "acting as a shill for bad science" during Palin Pole to Pole.

It also laments the fact that the Coriolis Factoid is trotted out in schools by teachers who ought to know better, and sighs:

Is knowledge just a bunch of abstractions to be memorized with no recourse to the relevance of everyday experience?

Do you want to tell him, or shall I?

4828.  Mon Jan 19, 2004 7:59 am Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
Not sure whether that's great minds thinking alike or fools seldom differing Garrick, but I like to think the former :-)

I used the link ; you can make it come up as a picture if it's just a .jpg file or a .gif file and you hit the Img button at the top before and after posting so that your post looks like (but with square brackets instead of round) (img)

Beg that embedding pictures on the board is treated with discretion. One picture is worth 1000 words or 110,000 bytes in this case, which significantly slows download when you have to connect to the internet via 15km of mountainy telephone line whc reduces speed to max 14kbps.

Ta, BobTheBoondocks

4830.  Mon Jan 19, 2004 11:05 am Reply with quote

'Nuff said, Bob - I will edit and replace the picture with the link.

Yours, chastened by failure to realise that not everybody posting here has cable or broadband...

4863.  Mon Jan 19, 2004 6:59 pm Reply with quote

Ref the clockwise plugholes, you get tourist traps on the equator where they purport to demonstrate the effect by showing you two tubs a few hundred yards apart, one of which goes one way and the other the other, and how about a baksheesh, squire? In fact there's a local factory which manufactures clockwise tubs and anticlockwise tubs and sells them to these operators. It's hard to be offended, really.

Another interesting thing is that that isn't really a Red Indian yodelling up the drainpipe when the bath is emptying - Red Indians don't really make that sound. Not in this part of Wiltshire, anyway.


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