Thursday, March 23, 2006

Shadow, Richard Cumberland, sowing

This morning, in bright sunshine, I see, on the road, the shadow of a bird in flight. I look up, but the bird has flown on.

A new plaque has appeared on the house at the end of our terrace. It tells us that the playwright and Home Secretary, Richard Cumberland lived in a house on the site between 1786 and 1793. The late Roger Farthing, whose book on Mount Sion was published three years ago, tells the following story involving him.
Lord North, another resident of Mount Sion, who settled there after losing America and doubling the national debt, began to go blind, and as the Maidstone Journal of 1787 reported, was " led by the affectionate hand of a dutiful daughter". Richard Cumberland one day walked across the Grove to visit him, and he took Cumberland's arm and asked to be conducted to the spring. "I have a general recollectiion of the way," said Lord North, "and if you will make me understand the posts upon the footpaths and the steps about the Chapel, I shall remember them in future." "I could not lead blind Gloucester to the cliff," added Cumberland. "I executed my affecting trust and brought him back to his family..." Two hundred and twenty years later, though Cumberland's house is no longer standing, the steps down to the Chapel, the Chapel itself and the Spring are still there.

A hint of warmth for the first time for a several months encourages me today to sow some broad beans and lettuce.

1 comment:

Lucas said...

This triplet has all the qualities of a short new wave film - the shadow of the bird on the road, the empty sky, the characters from an eighteenth century which has left strange clues to its world view - the steps leading to the chapel, the spring....Cumberland has an interesting role.