Cornwall Cogitation #10, Sunday 12 April 2015–Is there anything of interest beyond last week’s entries? Time will tell. Stay calm, read on, imagine you’re eating a Cornish pasty . . . a Cornish cream tea . . . or Cornish fudge.
June 1215. Magna Carta. My spell corrector insists on “Carat,” obviously oblivious to the Latin term for the charter that 800 years ago signaled the end of the arbitrary use of leadership power. Bad King John had a blunder-strewn reign that led to a baron’s revolt and showdown at Runnymede, a meadow by the River Thames west of London. This 1215 English charter forms the basis for legal systems around the world, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the US constitution. “No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or disseized or outlawed or exiled or in any way ruined, nor will we go and send against him except by the lawful judgment of his peers by the law of the land,” one part states in Latin . “To no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay right or justice.”
Events are being staged across England throughout 2015. The Lincoln Cathedral Magna Carta, one of four in existence, was on display early this year at the Library of Congress in Washington DC. The Four were then on display at the British Museum.
I’ve lifted the next two items from The Independent On Sunday (12/04/2015).
13 April 1742. Premier of Handel’s Messiah in Dublin. It was a benefit concert for a prisoner’ debt relief charity, Mercer’s Hospital and the Charitable Infirmary. To ensure maximum capacity in the 700-seat hall, men were asked to remove their swords and women not to wear hoops in their skirts. “Words are wanting to express the exquisite delight it afforded to the admiring and crouded Audience,” wrote one critic.
15 April 1802. William Wordsworth took a walk with his sister Dorothy round Glencoyne Bay, Ullswater, in the Lake District. They spotted a long belt of daffodils by the shore. In her diary, Dorothy wrote, “I never saw daffodils so beautiful . . . they looked so gay ever dancing ever changing.” Two years later Wordsworth, inspired by her words, wrote “I wandered lonely as a cloud.” He later recalled that what he described as the best two lines in the poem, “They flash upon that inward eye / Which is the bliss of solitude,” were contributed by his wife, Mary.
12 February 1965. From the St Ives Times and Echo, a report that Bernard Howell Leach, the late renowned St Ives potter, was fined for failing to conform to a stop sign in Carbis Bay. He said that he was “thinking about other things” and asked, “Has that sign been there long?” adding, “I have been in Japan for nine months.”
In a letter to the editor he wrote, “The prominence which you gave to my case last week gives a somewhat worse impression than the facts deserve. I pleaded guilty to not seeing a road warning at night, but in mitigation pointed out that I did slow down to 10 m.p.h. and ascertain that there was no traffic whatsoever on the main road before emerging from Trencrom Lane. This was only my second summons in 45 years’ driving. The former summons was for having some splashed mud on my rear light.” -Bernard Leach, The Leach Pottery, St Ives.
A Leach pot today would pay for a bunch of the town’s traffic or parking fines. In an antique shop I held a small dish in my hands. It felt so right. The price was probably right, too, around $200. I handed it back. The Leach Pottery is again a place where potters practice their art and it is also a museum.
April 2012. Academics from the University of Leicester discovered the skeleton of King Richard III beneath a city car park. The university’s senate in May 2015 will consider a proposal to rechristen the institution as King Richard University. The monarch’s bones last month were interred in Leicester Cathedral. Shakespeare in a play by the same name had King Richard III make a speech, “My kingdom for a horse!”
The past week. It has been a top week for walking (36 miles) and socializing. Monday we walked along the Hayle River to St Erth; Tuesday with the West Cornwall Footpaths Preservation Society on a walk around Prussia Cove; Wednesday across the fields to Zennor; Thursday to Halsetown. Friday we cleaned and Marty prepared dinner for guests. On Saturday we attended a study day on Modern Slavery.
Slavery in 2015? Yes, The estimated number of slaves in the world today stands at 35.8 million, the most of any period in history. We had excellent speakers, including Baroness Caroline Cox of Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust, James Ewins of International Justice, Sheikh Dr Muhammad Al Hussein on the Islamic perspective and Dr David Hampshire, on the Judeo-Christian perspective.
Just last week I read about more than 250 fishermen who were rescued from enslaved service on a remote island in Indonesia. Almost 550 slaves were discovered there. They were tricked or kidnapped and put on boats in Thailand and taken to Indonesia where they worked under terrible conditions fishing for fish that ended up in the global market. Some had worked for years on the promise of pay but were never paid nor allowed to leave.
On 22 February 1807, the British House of Commons voted for the abolition of the slave trade, a mission that William Wilberforce championed during his years as an MP. The mission is not yet complete.
From Caroline Cox’s book, The Immoral Trade: Slavery in the 21st Century (Monarch Books, second edition 2013, Oxford, UK & Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA), I quote, “In 1998, the United Nations established a Working Group on Contemporary Slavery (WGCFS) to investigate the nature and ext3ent of different forms of slavery in the modern world. The High Commissioner for Human Rights in his opening statement to WCGFS stated:
‘Slavery and its prohibition is enshrined in international treaties and in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which the international community is actually commemorating its 50 anniversary … but still slavery is not dead. It continues to be reported in a wide range of forms: traditional chattel slavery, bonded labour, serfdom, child labour, migrant labour, domestic labour, forced labour, and labour and slavery for ritual or religious purposes.”
An estimated 35.8 million people are trapped in slavery. Cox challenged us to “make our contribution and astonish the world.” She underscored, “I cannot do everything, but I must not do nothing.” Thankfully, numbers of organizations and governments are working to stop the scourge of slavery. The British Parliament three weeks ago passed a Modern Slavery Act 2015. I have yet to find out more about it.
Today we attended the first of the month Seaside Praise worship service at St Anta. “Seaside” happens inside the church, not on the beach a ten minute walk from the church. It’s an informal service, with extra time for coffee or tea and cookies afterwards. We had a delicious, and filling, Sunday roast with friends at the Falmouth Packet, an award winning pub, Best in the Southwest 2014, located along the Penance to Helston Road.
An amazing week to you! -John