history

Anorffenedig

September 5, 2020 0 Comments
Anorffenedig

Bu farw Edward Lhuyd, un o’r ysgolheigion Cymreig mwyaf, yn ei ystafell yn Amgueddfa’r Ashmolean, Rhydychen ar 30 Mehefin 1709, yn 49 mlwydd oed. Pedair ar ddeg o flynyddoedd cyn hynny, yn 1695, argraffodd e gynllun uchelgeisiol iawn i baratoi a chyhoeddi llyfr mawr, amlgyfrolog, amlddisgyblaethol.  Teitl y cynllun oedd A design of a British […]

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John Ballinger

August 31, 2020 2 Comments
John Ballinger

There’s something faintly ridiculous about the phrase ‘librarian as hero’. But just occasionally librarians come along who, if not exactly heroic, at least have the capacity to astonish their successors with the number and breadth of their achievements. John Ballinger (1860-1933) was one such example. Ballinger was the Librarian of the Cardiff Free Library1 and […]

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Biscuits: gwallter’s top ten

August 28, 2020 3 Comments
Biscuits: gwallter’s top ten

In 1968, at the height of the student rebellion, Alethea Hayter published her influential book Opium and the English imagination.  In it she traced the critical role laudanum had on the creative work of Coleridge, De Quincey and other leaders of the English Romantic revolution.  I can’t make any such claims for the effects of […]

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Coleridge’s ginger wine

August 14, 2020 0 Comments
Coleridge’s ginger wine

Some think that the Notebooks are Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s masterwork.  In them he would jot any thoughts that occurred to his omnivorous, lightning-fast mind, wherever he was.  Snatches of poetry, quotations from other writers, jokes, lists of works he would write (most remained unwritten), apothegms, descriptions of landscapes, recollections, fragments of philosophy, memos to himself […]

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Six Classical

July 17, 2020 3 Comments
Six Classical

Things were different when we reached the sixth form.  Before then the teaching principle our school followed was ‘punch as many nails of knowledge into their dense skulls as possible, and some of them may stick there’.  ‘Turpe nescire’ – it’s a disgrace to be a dunce – was the school’s motto, and factual ignorance […]

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John ‘Walking’ Stewart, an extreme pedestrian

July 10, 2020 0 Comments
John ‘Walking’ Stewart, an extreme pedestrian

In his time Foster Powell was known for mighty feats of pedestrianism.  But his achievements pale in comparison with those of a rather younger contemporary, John ‘Walking’ Stewart (1747-1822).  While Powell’s stage was mainly limited to England and Scotland, Stewart walked over large parts of the globe.  As well as his wanderings he was known […]

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Foster Powell, the great pedestrian

June 26, 2020 0 Comments
Foster Powell, the great pedestrian

When he was 21 years old Samuel Taylor Coleridge came to Wales for a walking tour with his Cambridge friend Joseph Hucks.  In a letter written in Denbigh in July 1794 to Robert Southey he summarises the trip so far, and writes, From Bala we travelled onward to Llangollen, a most beautiful village in a […]

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Time and Johannes Vermeer

June 6, 2020 4 Comments
Time and Johannes Vermeer

Today’s the last day of my imaginary return visit to the city of Delft.  As always, it’s been a time of rest and contemplation among the canals and step-gabled houses facing them.  And as usual I’ve been thinking about Delft’s most famous citizen, Johannes Vermeer, and his paintings – this time, the early works that […]

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The assassin waits

May 29, 2020 0 Comments
The assassin waits

In my lockdown tour of Europe I’m still enjoying my virtual stay in the city of Delft.  I’ve walked a little way from the Nieuwe Kerk to the Prinsenhof in Sint Agathaplein.  Today the Prinsenhof is a museum, and a very good one, but in the late sixteenth century it was the government headquarters of […]

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Thucydides on the plague in Athens

March 13, 2020 0 Comments
Thucydides on the plague in Athens

In the bath the other morning I happened to catch an interview with the novelist Kamila Shamsie.  She was asked what books she’d want to have with her if the coronavirus forced her to self-isolate for a lengthy period.  She had some interesting choices.  And she recommended that, instead of raiding supermarkets for toilet rolls […]

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