Sunday, November 03, 2013

Green Memory Thread on a Wooden Spool


Is green the color of memory? If I had known these spools would vanish, I would have saved a few more of them. This is a particularly nice one used as a sketching prompt in an art class I took in the early autumn.

Tonight, my heart is with the young Coleridge. He hasn't written anything yet that I want to type, but he has come very near to messing up his education more than once. When he was at Cambridge on scholarship, the first year he won the medal for Greek Verse. But the next year, he wound up running away from his debts and from everything else and joining the army. It took some doing, and a bribe from an elder brother to get him discharged from army service. (one of the last things he was assigned to do was live in a pesthouse and take care of another soldier who had smallpox, just the two of them. Food and water, for which he had to pay, was brought every day. The other soldier survived, amazingly enough.) Even though the requirement of finding another recruit to replace Coleridge could not be met, the Army let him go with this brief notation on the Regimental Muster Roll: "discharged S.T. Comberbache, Insane; 10 April 1794." (Comberbache was the fake name he had used when joining up.)

What amazes me most about this period of English history in 1793 and 1794, was the level of unrest caused by the American and French Revolutions, as well as by conditions in Britain that really needed to be improved to be more fair. A lot of thinking, talking and writing about revolutionary ideas was done by university students. Of course, this reminded me of our own 1960s. Many people, British, Continental Europeans and Americans were writing on these topics, even though punishments could be very severe. I guess I had never really thought about what it would have been like to have been young then, and to have enough leisure to explore the ideas of that revolutionary time.

Anyway, this is a wonderful biography, succinct, and well-written on a very interesting life. I am having a lot of fun with it, but may not take it on the plane Tuesday morning. Weight happens, and it's a substantial book, It has great pictures, too. The portrait of the luscious young Coleridge (by an unknown German artist) on the front cover is movie-star quality! And so to bed. . .

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