A Widower’s Diet

Sabine Baring-Gould Week at Hooting Yard began on Sunday 5th December, so I suppose it has now expired. I had been hoping to regale you with some choice snippets from his biography of Robert Stephen Hawker, The Vicar Of Morwenstow (1886), but, frankly, I was a little disappointed. The most arresting of Hawker’s eccentricities are listed in the opening paragraph of this piece, and Baring-Gould has little to add, save perhaps for a detailed account of the dressing-up-as-a-mermaid incident. (Part of my disappointment was to discover that this was a single occurrence rather than a general Hawker pastime.) However, the book is not without its pleasures, and I feel before we say farewell to Sabine we should mark this additional note about the vicar:

“After the death of Mrs Hawker, he fell into a condition of piteous depression, and began to eat opium. He moped about the cliffs, or in his study, and lost interest in every thing…

“He took it into his head that he could eat nothing but clotted cream. He therefore made his meals, breakfast, dinner, and tea, of this. He became consequently exceedingly bilious, and his depression grew the greater.”

There is another particularly splendid passage, in which Baring-Gould transcribes the wording of a sign outside a “little shop” in Cornwall. I have in turn transcribed it, and it is due to appear in my cupboard at The Dabbler this coming Friday. So there is something for you all to look forward to.

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