Captain Sir Richard Burton

I am currently reading the biography of Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton by Edward Rice.  This Richard Burton was a nineteenth century British explorer and had nothing to do with Elizabeth Taylor.  I’ve had this book for some time now and pick it up occasionally.   For the most part I’ve skipped around in the book, jumping from one point in his storied life to another.  On Monday, I decided to start again at the beginning.

Naturally the book starts out with Burton’s childhood.  His family moved around quite a bit, mainly back and forth between England and France.  The part of his early life that fascinated me the most were the tales of his childhood education.  His parents never had much in the way of an education, but thought that it was something that their children should have.  They may have thought this, but it was a thought that they never held with much conviction.  His father invariably chose the lesser of any two educational opportunities.  The parade of teachers, tutors, headmasters and headmistresses were all a sorry lot.  Richard and his brother Edward descended first into delinquency and eventually settled on outright hooliganism.

I raise this point, because I occasionally hear an echo of their behavior, from across the dinner table.  Now none of the stories at dinner mention anything like opium use, the hiring of prostitutes or bringing firearms to class, with the intent of terrorizing their teacher.  No the litany of student digressions these days are way more prosaic, not doing the assigned work, talking in class and talking back to the teacher.  Still hearing that litany night after night, transported me back to the nineteenth century on Monday night.  I imagined myself sitting across from my tutor spouse, being regaled with the latest horrors perpetrated by Richard and Edward.  Seeking solaces, I turned to Gilbert and Sullivan and their finale from The Pirates of Penzance:

One moment! let me tell you who they are.
They are no members of the common throng;
They are all noblemen who have gone wrong.

They are all noblemen who have gone wrong. 

The Major-General
No Englishman unmoved that statement hears,
Because, with all our faults, we love our House of Peers.
I pray you, pardon me, ex-Pirate King!
Peers will be peers, and youth will have its fling.
Resume your ranks and legislative duties,
And take my daughters, all of whom are beauties.

The first picture with this post features some new Spring crocuses, a sure sign that Spring will soon be here.  The second picture features a pair of Bald Eagles.  I was at the Riverlands last week and observed this pair.  (The swans are gone.)  A matronly woman was parked alongside me, also taking pictures of the pair.  All of a sudden the one on the right shat.  The woman standing next to me exclaimed, “Did you get that shot?”  No, I didn’t.  The stream was a yard long and an inch thick.  I’ll spare you a description of its color, except to say that the Bald Eagle’s diet consists primarily of shad.  The shad is not a pretty fish.  It is even less so on the way out.

I had a morning doctor’s appointment on Monday.  Before the appointment I took time to go for a bike ride in the Park.  I got fifteen miles.  My doctor was unimpressed.  He told me to lose weight.  Puh!

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