This Week In History: September 17-23


This week in history: A Brave New World‘s Writer Hired at Eton and George Washington says farewell. Read more below and dive deeper with The Great Courses Plus.

September 18, 1917- Aldous Huxley hired at Eton

As one of the oldest and most storied prep schools in the world, Eton College was established in 1440 and seems to have taught many of the western world’s greatest men. It was founded by King Henry VI and continues to educate 1300 students from ages 13-18. Aldous Huxley was a student as well as a professor. His contemporaries and other alumni included Percy Bysshe Shelley, George Orwell, Ian Fleming, John Maynard Keynes and many members of the royal family.

Huxley graduated from Oxford in 1916 and was soon after hired by Eton. He was near-blind which disqualified him from fighting in World War I (though he tried to volunteer), and instead spend his days editing a publication called Athenaeum, would get married and have a son, and spend much for the next several decades traveling the world and writing. His most well known work would be A Brave New World.

Learn more about Huxley’s writings in Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature

September 19, 1796 – George Washington gives his farewell address

As anyone who has listened to the soundtrack of the popular Hamilton: An American Musical knows, George Washington gives a moving farewell before his ever-too-short retirement in 1796. Washington had Madison draft a version back in 1792 and revived this when asking Hamilton to help formulate what would become the final draft. With the help of these two, Washington polished off the address and made his final marks on it. His personality can be heard through his love of his country and his notable modesty. In the closing paragraphs, he reflects,

Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.

Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations, I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever-favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.”

The speech was given from Congress Hall in Philadelphia, PA. Washington would return to Mount Vernon, VA to enjoy three years of retirement before passing away.

Learn more about the Farewell Address in Life Lessons from the Great Books