The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

June 28, 2013

June 28, 1867

Digby Augustus Stewart Mackworth Dolben (February  8, 1848 to June 28, 1867) was referred to as Digby Mackworth Dolben for short. He died at the age of nineteen; he drowned, hardly yet a man. Dolben was purportedly a friend about whom Gerard Manley Hopkins could not stop thinking. 

Dolben's cousin Robert Bridges edited 
The poems of Digby Mackworth Dolben. (1911).  We quote a few fragments of below of "The Dream"


I stood amid the lights that never die,
The only stars the dawning passes by,
Beneath the whisper of the central dome
That holds and hides the mystic heart of Rome.

But in mine eyes the light of other times,
And in mine ears the sound of English chimes;
I smelled again the freshness of the morn,
The primal incense of the daisied lawn.
.... I said

'And have I come so very far indeed?'

The everlasting murmur echoes ' Far
As from green earth is set the furthest star
Men have not named. A journey none retrace
Is thine, and steps the seas could not efface.'

'How cold and pitiless is the voice of Truth,'
I cried; 'Ah! who will give me my lost youth?
Ah! who restore the years the locust ate,
Hard to remember, harder to forget?'

A multitude of voices sweet and grave,
A long procession up the sounding nave.
'The Lion of the tribe of Judah, He
Has conquered, but in Wounds and Agony.
The ensign of His triumph is the Rood,
His royal robe is purple, but with Blood.

All the information we mention about Dolben we got from the Public Domain Review. That includes this biographical note:
Dolben’s eccentricities increased [as he matured]. He became a novice in the English Order of St. Benedict, signed his letters Dominic, and was furnished with a monk’s habit which he wore in public, delighting in the provocation, wearing it on one occasion through the streets of Birmingham, walking barefoot, surrounded by a mob. More and more he seemed to live in dreams, hoping to ignite his friends with embers of his fervency and planning the creation of a mystic Anglo-Catholic Brotherhood at a monastery of their own establishment. Meanwhile his health deteriorated; he left Eton for good; and lived between illnesses with a series of private tutors whom his parents hoped would raise his Greek and Latin to Oxford standards. While sitting his entrance exam at Balliol he fainted midway through and was disqualified. While preparing for a second try at Christ Church, he died: drowned in the River Welland where he had been swimming with the young son of his tutor. He was 19 years old.
Bridges had a rare gift for finding jewels in the gravel of much poetic output.  I think you see Bridges's gift above, but it is true you may need a certain sympathy for Anglo-Catholicism to see my point. 

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