Tuesday, February 24, 2009


The notable law of agency case that appears in American business casebooks, Watteau v. Fenwick, 1 Q.B. 346 (1892), deals with a barkeeper who made purchases that had not been authorized by his employers. He purchased cigars, when he had in fact only been authorized to purchase Bovril. Completely unbeknownst to American law students, Bovril is the trade name of a condensed beef extract often dissolved in water and taken as a hot restorative on cold English days.
Developed by John Lawson Johnston as a bid for a contract solicited by Napoleon III during the Franco-Prussian War, the stuff was originally meant as a field ration (of which the French soldiers apparently had not enough, being akin in that regard to modern artillery; see also, Battle of Sedan). Like many British exports, see also, IPA, Bovril caught on at home well enough to be sold in pubs. The company still exists today, and Bovril is apparently widely popular at soccer matches throughout Britain.
Most interestingly, Bovril once ran an advertising campaign featuring Leo XIII:

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I have determined that there are only so many reactions one can have to modernity. Generally speaking, they appear to be 1) outrage, 2) glee, 3) oblivion---i.e. act as if everything in the world continues to function properly and is amenable to reasonable explanation 4) resignation of varying degrees, and 5) boredom. 1 is bad for one's blood pressure; 2 and 3 are probably unconscionable. By 4 I refer more to the proactive acceptance of the situation that underlies Dr. MacIntyre's theories in After Virtue. 5 is self-explanatory. I don't know how to categorize reactions such as Peter Kreeft (see Back to Virtue, a more hopeful response to MacIntyre)---perhaps the dichotomy between 1 and 4 is inadequately inclusive.

Regardless, this space is devoted to whichever of these reactions I happen to feel like embracing at any particular time. I'm more interested in providing some mechanism for articulating my thoughts on various matters simply for the sake of thinking about them than I am about garnering a devoted readership or changing other people's lives. You've been warned.