And the highwayman came riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.
The Highwayman, Alfred Noyes
I once knew someone who could quote the Highwayman verbatim. Anyone who has even a smidgen of memory capacity impresses me, given the length and nature of that poem, I was very impressed. That poem is decidedly a Romantic take on highwaymen.
In the latter part of the 1500s, a man named Thomas Coryeat (he who coined the term “Grand Tour” to describe the “education” and “culture” a person – usually a man – would attain by traveling to Venice, Rome, etc.) was traveling over the French/Italian Alps. Up until the late 1700s, such a journey meant you took horses to the bottom of the Pass, then you were carried in a sedan chair hoisted by four men up to the top of the Pass where you transferred to another chair carried by four different men and carried down the Italian side. I have read reports where even one’s carriage was dismantled, carried up and over, then reassembled.
Coryeat and his companion were somewhere in the lower French Alps when they were set upon by a band of five or six highwaymen. The leader of the band could not, it appeared, take it upon himself to rob “gentlemen”, so he sent them on their way. Then he sent two of his men by round-about-ways to waylay Coryeat and then steal his money and belongings. Coryeat was of the mind that the leader could only steal from them when he wasn’t present, thus preserving his sense of gentlemanliness.
Perhaps it is the patina of age and circumstance, but Coryeat’s adventure, I think you will agree, carries with it a certain Romantic character.
A fellow I know here was, literally and figuratively, attacked in Florence last week. One of the two attackers gave him such a blow to the face that he will require oral surgery. He then grabbed the fellow’s smart phone. His companion dug into his shoulder bag and made off with contents which included credit cards, passport, and other important matters. Coryeat had a hard time finding lodging because the innkeepers would not, as we say today, give him credit. My friend has spent hours on the phone with the Indian representatives of various credit card and bank companies trying to cancel, get credit, get cash, etc. He has to travel 3 hours or so to Milan just to get a travel document to get back to England where he must then jump the hoops to get a new passport. I suspect you agree with me that there is little Romantic about that incident.
Well, as much as I would like to cast the adventure of having my iPad stolen in a Romantic light, it was merely a street Highwayman capable of opening the zippers on my shoulder bag in a crowded Calle and extracting my iPad. It was so obviously silly on my part to be vulnerable to that oldest of scams. So, Romantic that I am, I have been cured!
There were some fascinating realities that attended this little incident. All, or most all at any rate, related to what I describe as a lifeline. My first thought when the idea of the iPad as lifeline came to mind was Palm Reading. Mostly dismissed by the rational, skeptical, empirical, juggernaut that comprises the world view largely dominating modern perspective; marginalized and trivialized for similar reasons, Palm Reading has an ancient pedigree. The “lifeline” in Palm Reading was the interpretation of those creases upon each palm which are one-of-a-kind in each individual – like finger prints of the overall psychic and spiritual persona. Some life-lines divide and show frustration of life energy, to the extent of possible early death. Some show profoundly long and stable unfolding. Some show . . .
An intravenous tube, a rope to a drowning person, a kindness show to strangers are all representative of a life line. I think often of the kindness to strangers version. Our family was driving along the Going-To-The-Sun Highway in Glacier National Park. For those not familiar, it twists and turns and winds it very steep way along precipitous mountain valleys to reach the Continental Divide and then descends the same way. We were making our way up the Eastern side late in the day when a small sports car came alcohol fueled fast around a corner, lost control, and began to slide sideways toward us. My dad tried to direct our car to the mountain side of the road as opposed to the cliff side. When all was said and done, it was a rather horrible accident. Our car was so close to the edge that doors on that side could not be opened as one would step into oblivion. There we were, four young children and our obviously shook up parents. I remember to this day the car that stopped and the people who emerged from it. It was a nice couple from I do not know where. They immediately set about comforting my mom and we kids. After some hours had passed – Highway Patrol still not in existence, they bundled my Mom and we kids into their small, vacation filled car and drove us for an hour in the opposite direction from where they were going and deposited us at our destination. A life line indeed.
Continued . . .