quotes_jul25_2004.htm

(July 25th to 31st)



Format: Triple

‘…It was a slope of gap-edged fields possessed to their centres by clumps of brambles. Gates were not, and the rabbit-mined, cattle-rubbed posts leaned out and in…In the ungrazed pastures swaths of dead stuff caught their feet, and the ground beneath glistened with sweat. At the bottom of the valley a little brook had undermined its footbridge and frothed in the wreckage. But there stood great woods on the slopes beyond – old, tall, and brilliant, like unfaded tapestries against the walls of a ruined house…’

  

This is from “An Habitation Enforced” in Actions and Reactions.
A wealthy American business-man, George Chapin, has collapsed from over-work, and come over to England, with his wife Sophie, for a rest-cure. A friend has sent them down into deepest Sussex, to see the real England, and they are exploring the countryside. Later they find a fine old house, in a ruinous state. They give in to the temptation to buy it, and settle down as English landowners, rather as Kipling himself had done.


‘…Beyond that precise hamlet which stands godmother to the capital of the United States, I found hidden villages where bees, the only things awake, boomed in eighty-foot lindens that overhung grey Norman churches; miraculous brooks diving under stone bridges built for heavier traffic than would ever vex them again; tithe barns larger than their churches, and an old smithy that cried aloud how it had once been a hall of the Knights of the Temple…’

   

This is from “They” in Traffics and Discoveries.

The narrator is describing a car journey across Sussex in the early days of motoring. Later he takes a byway through the woods, and happens on a stately old house, where he has a strange and disturbing adventure.


‘…the life of the English road, which to me is one renewed and unreasoning orgy of delight. The mustard-coloured scouts of the Automobile Association; their natural enemies, the unjust police; our natural enemies, the deliberate market-day cattle, broadside on at all corners, the bicycling butcher’s boy a furlong behind; road engines that pulled giddy-go rounds, rifle galleries and swings, and sucked snortingly from wayside ponds in defiance of the notice-board; traction -engines, their trailers piled high with road metal; uniformed village nurses, one per seven statute miles, flitting by on their wheels…’

   

This is from “The Vortex” in A Diversity of Creatures.

The narrator is describing a Sunday outing, by motor-car, to the country-side on a hot summer’s day. Later one of his companions, a hideously boring theorist of Empire, insists on taking the wheel. He knocks a messenger-boy off his bike, spilling boxes of bees all over the road, with spectacular results…

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