Saturday, January 23, 2010

The King's Eyes

By all accounts, King Albert I of the Belgians was very near-sighted. His daughter Marie-José, for instance, recalls in her memoirs that he had to wear two sets of glasses to be able to take in the splendors of the dresses at a court ball. It seems remarkable that a man with such weak eyes was able to do so much difficult and dangerous mountain-climbing...In any case, here is a striking reflection on the topic, taken from the journal of the Comtesse van den Steen de Jehay, a close friend and collaborator of King Albert and Queen Elisabeth during World War I.

Lentement le roi parle.

A cause de sa myopie...à peine dévisage-t-il son interlocuteur. Enlèverait-il ses lunettes qu'il ne verrait pas à 15 cm devant lui. Et l'idée est obsédante de songer qu'une personnalité aussi puissante serait subitement suspendue, ankylosée, si une cause infime, coup de vent ou menue branche, lui enlevait, avec la vision, ces deux morceaux de verre!


Slowly the king speaks.

Due to his near-sightedness...he can barely make out his interlocutor. If he took off his glasses, he would not see 15 cm ahead of him. And the idea is obsessing, to consider that a personality so powerful would be suddenly suspended, paralyzed, if a minute cause, a gust of wind or a delicate branch, took away from him, along with his vision, those two pieces of glass!

1 comment:

MadMonarchist said...

I can certainly sympathize with the good King on that score.