Went to "Look at me", last night, then wine and fish and chips. The night before, as we watched some of her birthday present, the Doctor mocked me for scribbling down a bit that tickled me:
"[Descartes has] become a symbol of a pure intellect, but I find him a sympathetic figure. He started life as a soldier - he wrote a book on fencing - but he soon discovered that all he wanted to do was think. Very, very rare, and most unpopular.
Some friends came to call on him at 11 O'clock in the morning, and found him in bed. They said, 'What are you doing?'
He replied: 'Thinking.' They were furious.
To escape interference, he went to live in Holland. He said that the people of Amsterdam were so much occupied with making money that they would leave him alone. However, he continued to be the victim of interruptions, and so he moved about from place to place. Altogether, he moved house in Holland 24 times.
In the end, he was run to earth by that tiresome woman, Queen Christina of Sweden, who carried him off to Stockholm to give her lessons in the new philosophy. She made him get out of bed early in the morning and as a result he caught a cold and died."
Kenneth Clark, Civilisation, 8. The Light of Experience.(Wikipedia says that, "letters to and from the doctor Eike Pies have recently been discovered which indicate that Descartes may have been poisoned using arsenic.")