George Herbert turns up in the most remarkable places. There I was reading a story to my young son Ned about a school hamster called Humphrey, when who should appear but our George!
At the end of the book Humphrey always dispenses wisdom, and so number 9 is Sophocles saying “Trouble brings trouble upon trouble”, which Humphrey is having trouble figuring out. And then number 10 - ‘Another famous writer named George Herbert said, “He that seeks trouble never misses”’. Now that I understand. (‘Trouble according to Humphrey’ by Betty G Birney is published by Faber Kids, with lots more titles in the series!).
Actually school is puzzling me at the moment. Ned is learning to read and write, obviously you are reading this so it seems a current and useful skill, but writing? The only thing I write are cheques which are supposed to be being abolished in 2018 (if that happens) so I think typing would be more apposite. I guess Holy Mr Herbert was ahead when it came to reading and writing, and other writers tell me they prefer the speed of the pen as it matches the creative speed of the brain.
What speedy thoughts went through Herbert’s mind when he glimpsed Salisbury Cathedral? I came across this view, from our parish, just behind the industrial estate. I think this is the route Herbert walked and the view is unchanged more or less since his day. Before cars or space travel, TV or industrial machines - this would have been the tallest building and the most advanced technology for another 200 years. It must have seemed supernatural to the peasants behind the wooden plough or even the trades and guilds.
It’s hard to conceive how it would have appeared in 1300 when it was built. The biggest boats were Viking long boats, and even castles rarely came so big (and who would have travelled to compare them?) Certainly the craft of carving and windows would have bedazzled and awed the locals. At this time London was reckoned to have 20,000 people, just a fraction bigger than my parish is now! It is wonderful to me to have such diversity in my parish - and one of the things I treasure. Perhaps George Herbert thought so too - farmland, hamlet, heath and river.
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