CHRIST’S HOSPITAL FIVE-AND-THIRTY YEARS AGO
Come back into memory, like as thou wert in the dayspring of thy fancies, with hope like a ﬁery column before thee—the dark pillar not yet turned—Samuel Taylor Coleridge—Logician, Metaphysician, Bard—How have I seen the casual passer through the cloisters stand still, intranced with admiration (while he the young Mirandula), to hear thee unfold, in thy deep and sweet intonations, the mysteries of Jamblichus, or Plotinus (for even in those years thou waxedst not pale at such philosophic draughts), or reciting Homer in his Greek, or Pindar—while the walls of the old Grey Friars re-echoed to the accents of the inspired charity-boy!
As the struggling vine often produces the sweetest fruit, so likewise does hardship spur creativity in heart of genius.
When Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s father died, he was placed in a charity home with all of its Dickensian attributes. Lesser souls might have withered in the harsh, radical change from pastoral to austere environments, but Coleridge thrived.
Malcolm Guite wrote:
But if the physical life at school was dark and shadowed, the great lighthouse of intellectual and imaginative life burnt all the more brightly, and Coleridge ﬁrst showed here those extraordinary powers of resilience and recovery that were to serve him well through the coming traumas of his life. For what the school did provide him with was access to books, and the learning and skill with which to enjoy them: “My whole Being was, with eyes closed to every object of present sense, to crumple myself up in a sunny Corner, and read, read, read.”
Have you ever thrived in the face of difficult circumstances?
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