The fact that you are reading it right now means that I did, in the end, get it done, such as it is.
Reading is a form of transportation that takes you to a different place and time.
You are with me at 3AM as I try to think of something that might entertain you. I keep asking you what you’d like to read, and you keep not telling me.
“Write what you want,” you say.
At 4:46AM you watch as I visit the home page at MondayMorningMemo.com to see which of the 5,394 random quotes will pop up on the sidebar to inspire me.
“One sword keeps another in the sheath.” – George Herbert, (1593–1633)
It’s an interesting thought.
I assume George Herbert was a military man, but I decide to Google him to be sure. As I type his name and birth year into the Google search block, I wonder, “What would it be like to live in a world where everyone carried a gun at all times? Would one sword keep another in the sheath?”
Indy Beagle opens one eye and quietly says, “You don’t want to put your dog in that fight. Think about something else.” And then he goes back to sleep.
A contemporary of Shakespeare, George Herbert was a famous metaphysical poet and a priest in the Church of England! He was born into an artistic and wealthy family, began classes at Trinity College in Cambridge in 1609 and was noted as an exceptional speaker by none other than King James the first. Yes, the King James of the 1611 King James Bible, that King James.
George Herbert was elected to Parliament in 1624.
We are now in England 397 years ago as Google, our tour guide, tells us more about the man who said, “One sword keeps another in the sheath.”
“After the death of King James, Herbert renewed his interest in ordination. He gave up his secular ambitions in his mid-thirties and took holy orders in the Church of England, spending the rest of his life as the rector of the rural parish of Fugglestone St Peter, just outside Salisbury. He was noted for unfailing care for his parishioners, bringing the sacraments to them when they were ill and providing food and clothing for those in need. Henry Vaughan called him – quote – ‘a most glorious saint and seer’. He was never a healthy man and died of consumption at age 39.”
Who was Henry Vaughn, and what is “consumption,” anyway? I’ve heard of it all my life.
Oh! Consumption is what they used to call Tuberculosis! Who knew?
Henry Vaughn was another metaphysical poet and a physician. (yawn)
Having wrung the last drop of honey from the story of “One sword keeps another in the sheath,” you and I decide to wander around Cambridge in 1609, the year that George Herbert entered Trinity College and came to the attention of King James. Indy Beagle, upon hearing of our journey, decides to go with us.
We wander first into The Eagle and the Child, a pub in Cambridge that William Shakespeare was known to haunt. The locals call it The Bird and Baby. It stands opposite the oldest building in Cambridgeshire, the Saxon church tower of St Bene’t’s church which dates from around 1025. A tavern has stood here since 1353, famous for selling beer “for three gallons a penny”.
I ask the bartender if he knows a young man by the name of George Herbert. Without looking up, he shakes his head “no.”
Behind me, I hear Indy say, “Can we buy you a pint?”
Shakespeare is sitting alone at a table scattered with ink-stained papers.
“Sit,” says Shakespeare, as he pours wine from a jug into three wooden cups. The cups slosh a little as he slides them across the table. He looks down at the papers. “This new play I am writing is shit.”
Indy leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Cymbeline.”
“It began as a tragedy but a comedy now emerges. Coming hard on the heels of Julius Caesar, Hamlet and King Lear, the audience won’t know what to think.” He takes the pile of papers off the table and drops them onto the floor beside him. Holding high the empty jug, he shouts, “We’ll have no more of this rancid red! My friends insist on the good Italian!”
The Italian red was definitely better; so good in fact that Indy and I do not remember leaving the pub.
Do you remember what happened?
If you do, send the tale to firstname.lastname@example.org.
He and I would like to read it.
Roy H. Williams
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