The night before last, I found myself looking at a mid- seventeenth-century book. Small quarto, scruffy brown calf binding. It was written by a member of an interesting, cultivated family with somewhat esoteric interests, and it was illustrated with a few rather good copper-engravings. There were two within a few pages, both depicting the family house, Wytham Lodge, which had been designed by the the chap who wrote the book, or rather, both depicting the view from balconies, one looking down the Thames towards the docks, the other, a better piece of design, up the Thames towards old St Pauls: the height from which the view was taken, plus the symmetrical balconies, suggested that the design of the house included a tower (for astronomical observation?). I looked at the second plate rather carefully. The balcony was pierced stone, and the central feature of the design was a star of David. All up the margins were cryptic one or two-word notes in a mixture of Hebrew and English, which seemed positioned so as to relate to particular buildings in the vista, including St Paul’s — suggesting that the esoteric interests of the household included the Cabbala. Interested as I always am in anything to do with early modern women, my eye was caught by a passage on the facing page, in which the writer embarked on an anecdote of how his wife had been saved from melancholy by dancing and the practice of — Then the Professor woke me up before I had time to turn the page. What on earth can it have been?