(Mar 6th to 12th)

Format: Triple

I shut the door into the inner office and moved up behind him. He made no sign that he saw or heard. I looked over his shoulder, and read, amid half-formed words, sentences, and wild scratches:—

——Very cold it was. Very cold

The hare—the hare—the hare—

The birds——

He raised his head sharply, and frowned toward the blank shutters of the poulterer’s shop where they jutted out against our window. Then one clear line came:—


This is from “Wireless” in Traffics and Discoveries.

The narrator is in a pharmacist’s shop on a freezing winter’s night, waiting to witness an experiment in the new ‘wireless’ telegraphy. The chemist’s assistant, a consumptive like the poet Keats, goes into a trance, induced by a draught of ether, and starts to write poetry which reflects the scene in the shop, the coloured lights splashed across the floor, the bitter cold, the dead hare hanging up outside the neighbouring shop, the richly flamboyant figure of a young woman in an advertisement in the window. Before the eyes of the narrator he writes lines from “The Eve of St Agnes”, which he had never read, written by Keats some eighty years before.

… There’s a rope running overhead, looped to the upper-deck, for the overseer to catch hold of when the ship rolls. When the overseer misses the rope once and falls among the rowers, remember the hero laughs at him and gets licked for it. He’s chained to his oar of course—the hero.’

‘How is he chained?’

‘With an iron band round his waist fixed to the bench he sits on, and a sort of handcuff on his left wrist chaining him to the oar. He’s on the lower deck where the worst men are sent, and the only light comes from the hatchways and through the oar-holes. Can’t you imagine the sunlight just squeezing through between the handle and the hole and wobbling about as the ship moves?’


This is from “The Finest Story in the World” in Many Inventions.

The narrator is talking to Charley, a young City clerk with literary ambitions. Charley produces a strangely vivid account of the life of a galley-slave in ancient times. He is rememberhing past lives.

‘I’m not committing myself to anything,’ said Loftie, speaking like a badly-shaken human being, ‘but every dam’ tissue up till now seems to have its own time for its own tides. Samples from the same source have the same tides in strength and time. But, as I showed you just now, there are minute constant variations—reactions to something or other—in each tide, as individual as finger-prints. I wouldn’t stake my reputation on it except to you. But I know it’s so.’

‘What do you suppose it means?’ Vaughan half-whispered.

‘As I read it,’ Harries spoke quietly, ‘the minor differences in those “tides” in the tissues are due to interferences with the main or external influence—whichever it may be—which sets up, or which is, the main tide in all matter. They both come from without. Not within.’


This is from “Unprofessional” in Limits and Renewals

Three doctors and an asronomer, researching with cancer patients, are studying the ‘tides’ that seem to be flowing in living cells. These seem to affect the outcome of operations on such cells. They experiment with mice, confirm their hypothesis, and then find that the same forces seem to affect human beings …