Thursday, 28 February 2013

A young gentleman of the university

"His study has commonly handsome shelves, his books neat silk strings, which he shows to his father's man, and is loth to untie or take down  for fear of misplacing.  Upon foul days for recreation he retires thither, and looks over the pretty book his tutor reads to him, which is commonly some short history, or a piece of Euphormio;  for which his tutor gives him money to spend next day.  His main loitering is at the library, where he studies arms and books of honour, and turns a gentleman critic in pedigrees.  Of all things he endures not to be taken for a scholar, and hates a black suit, though it be of satin..."

Microscosmography  John Earle

Monday, 25 February 2013

The Silver Swan

"The silver Swan, who living had no Note,
When Death approached,  unlocked her silent throat.
Leaning her breast against the reedy shore,
Thus sang her first and last, and sang no more:
'Farewell, all joys; O Death, come close mine eyes!
More Geese than Swans now live,
More Fools than Wise.'  "

Madrigal    Orlando Gibbons 1602

Saturday, 23 February 2013

"but cackle like a goose among melodious swans"

'Sunt et mihi carmina, me quoque dicunt
Vatem pastores; sed non ego credulus illis.
Nam neque adhuc Vario videor nec dicere Cinna
Digna, sed argutos inter strepere anser olores."

Eclogue IX. 33    Virgil

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

"Caves of Ice", reviewed

"Motored to Edinburgh in beastly cold weather, but this morning after church, an amusing little neo-Gothic structure, there was a Canaletto sky over the castle....
Vowed to make the best of everything, even though inconveniently located remote from Gloucestershire and SW1, SW3, SW7 and W1.  Decided would even try to make the best of James Lees-Milne's latest volume of diaries, Caves of Ice, which records some of his activities and emotional responses as Adviser on Historic Buildings to the National Trust in 1946 and 1947.

Glanced through the book before lunch.  Elegant, pale architectural jacket (Cotehele House, Cornwall) and endpapers (Cotehele House and Nostell Priory, Yorkshire).  Frontispiece portrait of the author looking up balefully from the pen in his hand and the sheaf of papers on his desk.  His expression suggests that he does not like writing, resents working in an office and really isn't at all pleased when someone intrudes to photograph him in such un-chic drudgery."

Extract from Book review (in Daily Telegraph?) by Patrick Skene Catling 1983

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Goose quills

"  'And what pledge am I to have for all this?'  said the Prior.
'When Isaac returns successful through your mediation,' said the outlaw, ' I swear by St. Hubert I will see that he pays thee the money in good silver, or I will reckon with him for it in such sort he had better have paid twenty such sums.'

'Well then, Jew,'  said Aymer, ' since I must needs meddle in this matter, let me have the use of thy writing-tablets -- though hold, rather than use thy pen, I would fast for twenty-four hours, and where shall I find one?'

'If your holy scruples can dispense with using the Jew's tablets, for the pen I can find a remedy,' said the yeoman; and bending his bow, he aimed his shaft at a wild goose which was soaring over their heads, the advanced-guard of a phalanx of his tribe which were winging their way to the distant and solitary fens of Holderness.  The bird came  fluttering down, transfixed with the arrow.

'There, Prior, ' said the Captain, 'are quills enough to supply all the monks of Jervaulx for the next hundred years, an they take not to writing chronicles.' "

Ivanhoe  Sir Walter Scott