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The Independent Online
ELOQUENT SILENCES: Cordelia's 'Nothing' to King Lear provoked disaster; the dog that didn't bark alerted Sherlock Holmes in Conan Doyle's 'Silver Blaze'; Sir Francis Urquhart 'couldn't possibly comment' in House of Cards; the silence of the eponymous Lambs troubled Jodie Foster more than cannibalism; Holly Hunter won an Oscar for not speaking in The Piano; Catherine Howard's very discreet lover, Thomas Culpeper, divulged nothing even under torture; Wittgenstein advocated silence on metaphysical matters 'whereof we cannot speak' in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus; Prue Forrest, decades in The Archers, spoke in only one episode when Judi Dench made a guest appearance; Richard Nixon claimed to speak for the 'silent majority'; 'stout Cortez stared at the Pacific - Silent, upon a peak in Darien' (Keats); exercising the right to remain silent signifies much to Michael Howard; Oliver Hoare had nothing to say - nor did the mystery phoner.

TODAY is the feast day of Saint Alexander of Byzantium, patriarch of Constantinople in the 4th century between the ages of 73 and 96. Soon after his election the Emperor Constantine ordered a debate between Christian theologians and pagans. All the pagan philosophers tried to speak at once, so Alexander suggested that they allow the most learned man to speak for them all, then, rather rudely, commanded him to shut up in the name of Jesus. The chosen philosopher found his tongue paralysed and this was seen as a manifestation of divine power.

28 August, 1749: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (above), poet, playwright, philosopher and one time prime minister at the court of Weimar, was born in Frankfurt am Main. Goethe is called the founder of modern German literature and leader of the Sturm und Drang movement. At the age of 24 he was introduced to Shakespeare's work which inspired him to write the plays Gotz von Berlichingen and Sorrows of Young Werther. His poetic drama Faust came later (in 1808) and gave him an international reputation. He died in 1832.

1833: Slavery abolished in British colonies.

1963: 200,000 black Americans demonstrated in Washington for civil rights and Martin Luther King said, 'I have a dream.'

BIRTHDAYS: Janet Frame, novelist, 70; Duke of Argyll, Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland, 57.

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