General

“Hello to you in 1801”

Welwyn
Hertfordshire
United Kingdom
March 28, 2019

Dear Mr. Rutherford,

Hello to you in 1801. I write to you from 2019, and I choose to do so in the language that you may as an American of then find more readily understandable as opposed to our vernacular. I ask that you treat this in confidence and share it with no one… although I suppose it will end up on our internet as all such confidential communications seem to eventually. I have also seen you yesterday in the manuscript attempting to cope with Mr. Thomas Paine; he is indeed a great paine I know, and I think you argued your points reasonably well.

Our current president, a Mr. Trump, has been recently apparently absolved of consorting with devious Russians to engage in nefarious behaviors in American governance by an American lawyer given for two years wide powers – although almost no one has seen the entire report. Think of it as something akin to what occurred to Secretary of State Randolph in 1795, accused as he was of passing private cabinet conversations to the Jacobins in France, and Randolph resigned when President Washington confronted him with the evidence. Many clearly hoped the same would happen to Mr. Trump, but it appears it shall not. Some American congresspeople – we say that now as ladies sit in Congress too – of the opposing faction remain thoroughly dissatisfied with him and attack him on television and on Twitter with sharp condemnations; and he too is a master-twitterer and much skilled at the insult, none of which has yet resulted in a duel – we duel no longer; rather we call each other vile names on Twitter. Television is a form of mass theater that is sent invisibly into homes and viewed on an object that looks something like a window and is hung on a wall; whilst Twitter is best characterized to you I think as appearing on interactive television we call “the internet” and it much resembles the graffiti one sees scrawled by angry mobs anonymously on walls in Paris and in Rome.

[Excerpt from War and Peace, by Tolstoy, 1869. Photo by me, 2019.]

I have been reading a novel of Russia and France written in 1869 that commenced with the year 1805, which approaches your time. You ought console yourself that matters now over two hundred years on amongst the USA, what is still named the United Kingdom as it first was in your current 1801, and France, and Russia, uh, remain… – oh, I dare not write that word now? – rather contentious. This European continent is once again in some degree of state-orchestrated chaos, with continental powers arrayed yet again against Great Britain, which is attempting to withdraw from a league of countries known as the European Union, a grouping that now includes much of the continent before Russia (which is no longer ruled by the czars; although its leader does at times appear to wish he were a czar). That Union seems on the surface patterned after our United States, which ought make us proud; but looked at more closely ’tis not like us as it is not a single country. Hence the great confusion as to what it is. It is at its root a trade bloc like the Hanseatic cities of your time to make sure customs duties are collected all the same at ports and borders and airports (where carriages fired by fiery liquid akin perhaps to whale oil that fly as birds depart and return to earth), and is run by people almost no one had ever before heard of, but who had held important posts such as first minister of Luxembourg, who also issue directives whenever they appear to feel like it regards life and such as what one calls a sausage or a wine or a cheese and British voters decided in 2016 that they no longer liked them. ‘Tis united as a trade bloc also it appears especially against a large enterprise that delivers books and much else to homes that is called Amazon…

[Birthday presents ordered via Amazon by my father in America, which were delivered to my wife here in Britain some weeks ago. Photo by me, 2019.]

…and another that is named Google – and few honestly know what Google does except allow one to search the internet and have magnificent offices in Ireland and earn much money. We know entities that exist to tax do not much like any entity or person who wishes to pay as little tax as possible!

There is still a monarchy here in Great Britain, under a queen who is now in her 90s and the country adores her; so Mr. Jefferson was wrong; the chaos of Jacobin-ruled France did not spread here. A royal grandson of here is married to a half-black American! Yes, really! The first minister of Great Britain is also a lady now, a Mrs. May, who appears also set to resign as she is encircled by mostly men blockheads who do more talking than one ever believed was possible without using up all the air in the world. The biggest hurdle with Britain’s leaving that European Union is that Britain cannot leave because there is a border problem in Northern Ireland and that European Union demands customs must be collected all the same (tax, tax, tax!); and there could be war in Ireland if there is a customs border that is visible to some people in Ireland who resent rule from London but appear not to have a problem with rule by this European Union in Brussels in Belgium (that country which shall be created in 1830). Oh, yes, Great Britain finally withdrew from most of the island of Ireland in the 1920s, but some of the northeastern part remain staunchily loyal to London. Although they do in that Northern Ireland there also occasionally still post on the internet Twitter drunkards sing-songing such as “I hate Roman Catholics.” Which is most curious considering ever fewer appear to care about established religion enough to attend Mass or any church weekly in that Northern Ireland, or nearly anywhere else, and how many often instead appear now to prefer what is called “yoga” (which is of India originally, but I suspect as now practiced in Europe and America is little as it was in India originally).

Insofar as I know no thought has been given by the British parliament to sending out the Royal Navy to blockade this European Union trading bloc even though it lacks any navy itself, nor seeking to fund an alliance with Russia to confront it as Mr. Pitt surely would have done in your time; nor have I read of plans to invade again Ireland. But matters change rapidly in politics as we know. Prussia is now Germany and has no king, and is also led now by a powerful lady, Mrs. Merkel, although she too is due to retire in a year or so I read. France has no Napoleon now but a president such as ours, Mr. Macron, who is about sixteen years old forty years old; of late there are constant protests in that country by people angry over his raising of taxes too much and his hidden speed cameras to catch out automobile drivers for proceeding too quickly (automobiles are as carriages without horses and powered by that fiery liquid like whale oil); and to do such protests those French wear yellow coats that are required to be kept for safety in the trunks of their automobiles and they currently block roads unexpectedly and create assorted public discord; I myself saw such whilst in France in February. So he is happy one suspects to confront Britain over leaving the European Union, I think, as it means he has not to face his rioters in Paris. Despite Britain seeking to leave that Union and the Union’s friends here declaring the country shall be lost upon the separation – did we not hear such from some of our own people regards our breaking with Britain in 1776? – there are no riots as yet here in Britain, yet the French in the Union riot? ‘Tis a puzzle. I know strife in France is nothing new to you either, but happily at least there is no longer a guillotine used.

There is to be a presidential election again in 2020 in our America. Mr. Trump, representing the Republicans, shall run again. They are not Mr. Jefferson’s Republicans but a new party that will arise in 1854. He is married – he has been married thrice; and divorced twice; ’tis the 21st century! – to a woman born in Yugoslavia; her birth locality that was part of it is now independent as a place called Slovenia; she is from a city near Venice called Ljubljana; and she was a fashion model – a model is best described to you perhaps as like a most beautiful actress; yes, we have an actress married to a president; again ’tis the 21st century! The American people also have no problem with that she is born a foreigner, and that is a good thing and I know you agree; she is a citizen now. The major opposing faction are called the Democrats, who are the descendants of Mr. Jefferson’s party; but no one knows what they actually believe because they change their beliefs about every year or two. I think they may be compared thus: Republicans demand foreigners become citizens but don’t like them much because most it seems vote for Democrats, whilst Democrats love foreigners because they vote for Democrats and so wish to see as many foreigners enter the US and become citizens as can be fit into the country. It is easy also to imagine the opposing factions altering their views in seconds if the foreigners entering America did.

Democrats should have found it possible to offer Mr. Trump a strong challenge, but as I see things now unless something dramatic changes I believe Mr. Trump shall be returned to the presidency. You know not yet, but defeating a president at the polls is not an easy task. Democrats appear unable to find a candidate among 200 or so million adult Americans – it is a rather bigger country now! – capable of confronting him aside from perhaps an elderly man of Vermont who failed in 2016 and is not even truly a Democrat (whatever a Democrat is), a mature woman of Massachusetts (I imagine Mrs. Adams’s view of her!) who stated she was an Indian in order to enter Harvard (we admire the aboriginal people far more now and so much that politicians all want to be one; that at least is an improvement!), and a somewhat younger lady of I believe Caribbean black and Indian (Asia India, controlled in your time by the British, but since 1947 free; that is a long story too) heritage from California (a Pacific Ocean state where Hollywood is; again, ’tis too much to explain), and lately a youngish man who is named O’Rourke of whom no one had heard until last year when he was defeated in a Texas state election. (Texas is a state bordering former Spanish Mexico, a country now too independent and which is mostly our friend but against which Mr. Trump wishes a huge wall to be built on its border because too many of its people and especially others from farther south near the land of the former Mayas and even below that, he says walk into the US without our permission.) But, again, politics are fickle as we know; the mob one minute doesn’t know you, then next loves you, and the next wishes to cut off your head. As in France in your time! I recall now how few had heard of Senator Obama when he first sought the presidency in 2007, and he was elected twice by resounding majorities! A black man he is too! Yes, really! President Obama’s Vice President, Mr. Biden, seems likely to run in 2020, but he is now about 98 years old and as I recall he has been running for the presidency since at least 1984. I think him a decent man who reminds me of my father. But would I wish my father be our president? Still maybe Mr. Biden shall triumph at last?

[Good morning! I shall have a coffee. Photo by me, 2019.]

Oh, and one of America’s biggest news stories currently is about a black and gay (I shan’t even try to explain to you that word) man in Chicago (a city that appears in a few years on Lake Michigan; that lake that will also appear shortly on your maps) who was said to be a television actor and who was freed from arrestation after having been accused of falsely summoning police watchmen and being untruthful in his assertions about having been beaten up by white men waving rope at him and chanting that they back Mr. Trump, after he visited a Subway restaurant in the middle of the night. Twitter went crazy as so many posted of their horror at his treatment! Yet ’twas untrue. The mayor and the police watchmen commissioner of the city are appalled at his release by the local judiciary. As I write that paragraph, I apologize for that, for even more than earlier you likely have no idea of most of what I am talking about there; and you likely care not; and in both you are probably indeed most fortunate. Disgraceful gossip it is, I know.

I shall end here for I am much exhausted now writing even that about our time and seeking to explain us to you for we barely understand ourselves! I hope the novel being written about your life is coming along well. Do send to your wife my warmest wishes. Oh, and that particular French babe too…

And I ask again that you please treat this letter in complete confidence.

All the Best,
RJN