RECORD: Darwin, Bernard. 1941. [Recollections of Down and/or family in] Pack clouds away. London: Collins.
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PACK CLOUDS AWAY
48 PALL MALL LONDON 1941
This BOOK IS SET IN FONTANA, A NEW TYPE FACE DESIGNED
FOR THE EXCLUSIVE USE OF THE HOUSE OF COLLINS, AND
PRINTED BY THEM IN GREAT BRITAIN
COLLINS CLEAR-TYPE PRESS: LONDON AND GLASGOW COPYRIGHT 1941
To My Tutor
I. A City of Refuge 9
II. Tempora Mutantur 18
III. NOS ET MUTAMUR
IV. A Foot in Each Camp
V. Children and Grown-ups 67
VI. Some Friendly Dogs 84
VII. Mr. Bultitude Looks Back 101
VIII. In the Office 114
IX. Some Towering. Shades 133
X. Old Friends and Old Books 158
XL Off the Main Road 177
XII. On Tour 191
XIII. A Little Cricket 205
XIV. In the United States 219
XV. A Second Visit 234
XVI. Fine Confused Eating 244
XVII. Salonica 257
VIII. Lenitives 267
XIX. De Senectute 278
same purpose. In certain semi-suburban regions, where neighbours are constantly " popping in" on one another (will nobody start some "No Poppery " riots ?), I fancy them, perhaps wrongly, always playing bridge. If one does not play oneself all these phenomena leave one cold and un-noticing. It is just as it is with racing as to which, while the whole world is fermenting, I suddenly wake up to discover that next Wednesday is Derby Day, and I must, for decency's sake, learn the name of one horse in the race. Still I do play bridge in that one house, and I have seen it come in and change the face of England. I had, as a boy at my grandmother's in Cambridge, played a little of the very mildest domestic whist, and I always used to hear of it whenever my father went to dine at Christ's. He Was pathetically keen and not, I am sure, in the very least good, having a mind which was extremely quick for some things but not for cards. He wrestled nobly with the science and always kept Cavendish and other learned works in one particular apartment in the house, so that I was early familiar with those fascinating little pictures of cards in miniature. There also were kept works on Ecarte and Piquet, which we played together; but, though he might grasp Mr. Cavendish's principles in the abstract, he could seldom apply them to concrete cases and at the right time. He would beat himself violently on the forehead in the effort to do so, but his last state was usually that described in a remark attributed to my grandfather: "Now what the devil do I mean?" Incidentally, it is something of a mystery why men with very good brains are sometimes very bad card players, and—well, the converse. My knowledge of great bridge-players is strictly limited, but in prehistoric ages, when he was only just beginning his researches, I played once or twice with an old friend of my election in College at Eton, Mr. Arnold Ward. It was always easy to understand why he became so famous a player. He has everything, the intellect, the memory, the imagination. I have known others, not
to be named, as to whom I am told that they are extremely good, and yet they seem to me of anything but sparkling intelligence. They are a little like Rawdon Crawley who, we have to believe, was a great card player. On the other side I can think of one who had astonishingly clear, quick wits, and was very fond of bridge, but, as even I could perceive, played it infamously, the late Mr. Justice Avory In the other affairs of life he was as sharp as a needle and at bridge he was a wool-gatherer.
However, I have wandered away from my father happily playing his whist in the Combination Room at Christ's, where, as in other Combination Rooms and Common Rooms, I fancy it survived long after its strongholds elsewhere had been thrown down. I remember very well the first occasion of playing bridge myself. It was at a Welsh Union Golf Meeting at Conway in 1899, and it was entirely appropriate that one of my instructors should be Mr. C. H. Allcock, since his is the only house in which I have played for many years past. It was soon afterwards that I played with him at Aberdovey, and though I cannot say that I ever plunged into the sea of bridge that soon submerged the country, I, at any rate, dipped my toes into it. I hardly ever rose to the heights of playing at a club in London, but I used to dine at regular intervals with some three or four kind elders, called by the wife of one of them the "Bridge Buffers," in order to play; and the game was admittedly a very agreeable complement to golf on golfing week-ends. During the war too I played occasionally in tents or messes, and it was the war that finally came near to killing any taste I had for the game. Twenty consecutive rubbers in a troop train, some of them rather argumentative ones, was too much for a poor little starveling inclination which could never be dignified by the name of love. Aberdovey, which has been to some extent the home of my golf, has been almost entirely the home of my bridge, and is now its only one. There I have played for many happy hours, and sometimes they were very long
hours. There Was a time, as I remember dimly, when spades were not the most highly rated but the lowliest of suits. There was an eminently canny, cautious little Scottish doctor who used to come and play with us at Mr. Allcock's and, whenever it was left to him by his partner, he always after profound deliberation said " Spades." We seem, in memory at least, to have played out hundreds of those wretched spade hands into the small hours. I must say that auction made the game far brighter, and that is as far as I can go, because contract is not allowed in the house and, though I have watched it at intervals elsewhere, I have never played it. The house does not approve of it, and that on a sound principle once enunciated by a Wedgwood great-uncle of mine: "I can judge of a book without having read it I should hope."
There have always been games of cards, and before there was bridge there was whist; but what was there before crossword puzzles were invented? This is a little like the question as to what convivial gentlemen did to soothe the morning's headache before soda water was discovered. The answer according to Vanity Fair, apropos of Jos Sedley and rack punch, is small beer. That was at least something, but what soothed the ache of boredom which cross-words have done so much to remedy ? There were, to be sure, acrostics in certain journals, with which a few enthusiasts struggled, murmuring low to one another in a corner of the club about "lights"; but these were a small and select body, as it were of persecuted saints, with whom the cold, hard world had no sympathy. People got along without crosswords somehow or other; perhaps they even read books, and then came this great supplying of a felt want which has made suburban stations pass by swift and unnoticed for thousands of season-ticket holders. At Aberdovey, when we were all younger and more energetic, we played bridge between tea and dinner. Now that is the time at which retired schoolmasters leap passionately on the cross-word. I have never really fallen. I think I am stupid and I am
ure that I am lazy, but I distinctly enjoy hearing an expert at work and now and again cutting in with a suggestion as amicus curie?,. It always seems odd that the amateur at this game can be tongue-tied for a long while and then have a sudden spurt almost of brilliance. As far as I am concerned I can at the longest intervals and on the rarest occasions make something of a break, only to relapse into utter imbecility. I have never attempted to hold the pencil and have no ambition to do so: my little efforts have all to be made in my head. Even if I could avail myself of them, my chances are few, for my company is altogether too good and too quick. On this evidence alone they seem to me far the cleverest people in the world.
Many years ago I chanced to attend a football match between Oxford and the Corinthians in the company of an odd little being who has since become justly famous. He inquired with some eagerness, "Do they play dirty?" He would have liked those who set cross-word puzzles for they play very dirtj' indeed. That is no doubt part of the fascination of the game, to get to know the devious, underhand and paltry manner in which the beast's mind works. For my part I have never quite got past the point of saying in disgust when the solution is told me, " Oh—well—if he
descends to that------" The game is one in which the player
must retain his sense of humour and must not expect his adversary to play like a gentleman. It would be rather good fun if there were a championship, for one would then know how quickly the great players really and truly can finish their cross-word. One hears many stories of their achievements but these are vague and largely apocryphal. It was once stated in an agreeable letter to The Times that Dr. M. R. James could solve the cross-word while his breakfast egg was boiling; and further, that he was known to like his eggs lightly boiled. The late Provost had all the gifts and the vast store of knowledge which ought to have made of him a superlative player, but I am told by those who sometimes played with him that he was, when judged
by high standards, rather slow. So it would be interesting to see what can be done under rigorous and exacting conditions and how private reputations would stand up to a public test. Though championships will, please goodness, return in other fields, this is one which can, I fear, never take place. Wild horses would not drag me into a monthly medal with a large handicap, but having admitted myself to be the perfect fool let me have my boast. I once strutted my little hour, or rather some ten minutes. One January the Observer set a wholly Dickensian cross-word. I stood in front of the fire, my coat tails metaphorically in my hands, and dictated the answers as the questions were read out to me. That journal is usually " wery fierce" in such matters, but this time it relented.
And now taking the privilege of skipping airily from one subject to quite another I come at last to that which I could make as serious as need be. Nothing, as I said before, Avould induce me to touch on ladies and their cigarettes, but on their golf I will venture, because in my lifetime I have seen the rise of it from its very beginnings. It is truly singular to reflect that when the Badminton volume on golf was first published at the end of the eighties, and I had already played for some years, a learned Scottish judge committed himself to the statement that ladies should only play at short holes, since the posture of the full swing was unbecoming to them. That was, I suppose, in the days when putting was not only a game in itself but a social rite. I have been assured by Mr. Edward Blackwell, a most truthful man, that to putt on the ladies' links at St. Andrews necessitated the going home and changing from knickerbockers into a blue suit. It was not until several years later that the first ladies' championship took place, at St. Anne's in 1893, and it is one of the regrets of my golfing life that I never saw Lady Margaret Scott play. Neither, I imagine, did that learned Scottish judge, or he would not, in a recent phrase of Mr. Churchill's, " have made such a goose of himself." The photograph of her swinging, in her hard straw
hat and her long skirt, is the very picture of grace. She won for the first three years with supreme ease and then retired, sated with victory. I suppose she was at that time one of the few ladies, and perhaps the only one of those competing, who had played from their childhood up and learnt the game with their brothers as a boy learns it. In a very few years however there came a steady stream of these girl-golfers who had unconsciously absorbed the swing into their growing frames, and from that moment nobody who knew it had anything but a great respect for the best ladies' golf.
I am ashamed to say I never saw a ladies' championship till just before the Great War, at Hunstanton in 1914. It might justly be called a baptism of fire for I was one of three men in a house of, I think, sixteen ladies. Moreover, one of the three could hardly be reckoned, for he was a curate engaged to the only one of the ladies who was not a golfer, and had arrived there for some mysterious reason, now unknown to me. I hope he enjoyed it but I thought at times that he seemed just a little sad. That was the first championship that Miss Cecil Leitch won after a hard battle with Miss Ravenscroft, who is now Mrs. Dobell, and never for a moment from that day have I wavered in my allegiance to the lady golfers. Indeed if some magician would summon up for me from the past just one of all the golf matches I have watched and allow it to be played over for me again like a gramophone record, I think I would choose the famous final at Troon wherein Miss Wethered beat Miss Leitch at the 37th hole. It might perhaps be too agonising, I might fall down dead towards the end but I would risk it.
However, this must not develop into a panegyric on distinguished players or it would never come to an end. The interesting thing about ladies' golf, in a more general sense, is the way in which it has developed on its own lines, owing as little as possible to the men. The men have by comparison managed their game casually, in a perhaps
rather anomalous manner, and I confess to liking a little casualness in this respect. The ladies on the other hand have organised and very elaborately organised a truly representative government. It may be termed, I suppose, the democratic ideal, though for that matter democracy is not always inconsistent with virtual dictatorship. I recall a male journalist, now dead, who had a good deal to do with ladies' golf, saying to me almost with tears in his eyes, " Mr. Darwin, Miss So-and-So is as despotic as the Czar of Russia." I think the ladies are fonder of discipline than the men are, and also of system. They are more ready to be dragooned in a good cause, to submit to the constant sending in of cards to formidable persons called "handicap managers." They are certainly willing to slave on committees and to attend meetings as delegates. They take an infinity of trouble over some things which more happy-go-lucky men deem hardly worth it. There seem to me to be amongst the ladies rather more golfing politics, if I may so term them, than in corresponding masculine circles. However that may be, there is at least no denying that they do "deliver the goods"; any championship of theirs goes like clockwork, trimly, tidily and without fuss. As to their meetings there was once a time when, with a most superfluous humility, they used to get men to take the chair. Now they have discovered, and I speak not ungratefully, that they can do it far better themselves. The L.G.U. is a remarkably efficient piece of machinery to which I take off my hat with a little trepidation and the profoundest respect.
A FOOT IN EACH CAMP
Kipps once remarked that he supposed there had never been another chap quite like him, and this is a belief which we all cherish about ourselves to a greater or lesser extent. In particular we imagine that whereas most other people are all of a piece, dwelling each in his or her own little circumscribed world, we ourselves are composed of several individuals. Each of them has his especial and widely differing interests. Therefore the composite and remarkably interesting person that is " me" is at home in several worlds, each of which is unknown territory to the inhabitants of all the others. I am certainly not exempt from this vain and pleasing illusion, since I see myself living at one moment amongst people who care nothing for golf or any other form of game, who are incapable of beginning to understand the romance and excitement of it, and at the next I am being carried by a train into another planet where golf is assumed to be the only interest in life. The fallacious nature of this belief is obvious. Of those people that I meet in the game-playing world (I write in the present tense but the past would now be sadly more appropriate) there are just a few who live and have lived there all the time, whose sole known occupation is walking to the club house and back again, looking at the illustrated papers, playing eighteen holes and so home. The greater part of them however are only pursuing this agreeable round because they are having a holiday. Their normal life is full of much more important matters. One wrestles all day long in the unknown and terrifying battlefield of the stock exchange, another sees his patients or digs up Greek antiquities or walks placidly around his acres with a spud.
Most of us have at the best of times a difficulty in understanding how other people fill up their time. What does that august personage our banker do all day long? We may catch sight of his bald head in the recesses of his parlour as we go to pay in our humble cheque over the counter, and from the rampart of paper which partially surrounds him he would certainly seem to be reading The Times. What in the world is he doing when he is not reading The Tirnesl True there are a good many other little cheques besides ours coming in, and he has to take care of them, but even so—— And then there are all the people going on journeys when we have to go journeys on our own imperative business, and having lunch when we have got to have lunch. Surely they cannot all have something to do ? There used to be a song which demanded:
" Who takes care of the caretaker's daughter When the caretaker's busy taking care?"
That is only one of the lesser mysteries connected with this puzzling matter, and if it is so difficult in the workaday world to imagine what other people do, it is far more difficult if we only see them when they are palpably playing golf. It is so much easier to suppose that they never do or care for anything else. So, since games do not constitute the whole business of life, the game-playing world is not like the legal world or the scientific world or what not; it is simply an aggregation of persons from all sorts of other spheres who have one common but minor interest. Yet when we are in it, it does seem for the moment so compact and solid that we can hardly believe that it is not a planet on its own account.
There is an agreeable little family legend concerning one of my aunts when a small girl being taken to pay a call at a neighbour's house. Having, as I suppose, been shown over the house or some parts of it she inquired, "But where does he do his barnacles?" My grandfather was
at the time engaged in this form of research and she believed that it constituted the inevitable occupation of every head of a household. To give another illustration I know a lady who, when she was seventeen, came over to England for the first time from Ireland and went to stay with some friends at Cambridge. She was a little surprised to find that the front door of their house opened directly on to the street, because she had always supposed that a house of any consideration must necessarily be approached by an avenue. So, as a preacher might say, we all have our barnacles. I am sure that game players have, and by that term I mean those who have or at least have had a serious enthusiasm for some game or other such pastime. I imagine that it is particularly true of those who hunt. I know too few of them to dogmatise but only the other day I saw a letter from a young prisoner of war in Germany with this touching little postscript: " Do take in Horse and Hound. It will be such fun to read it when I come home." At any rate the game-players and the people who do not care at all for games find it a little hard sometimes to understand one another. My cousin, Berta Ruck the novelist, tells me that just as dancing has been left out of me so game-playing has been left out of her. She is a very understanding person, and can imagine a great deal, I am sure, of what the game-player feels, but I know many intelligent people who cannot. I remember in 1921 coming into the Garrick Club just after having been beaten in the semi-final of the championship. There I met Sir Gerald du Maurier who, after saying something kind and friendly, asked: "Would you have liked to win that thing?" I replied that I certainly should; this seemed to strike him as interesting and curious, and we then went on to talk about something else. For all I know I might have asked him just as unseeing a question about something that interested him, and yet I hope not. It did and does seem to me a little odd that he did not know that I should have dreadfully liked to win it. Perhaps, however, at my then comparatively
mature age (I was about forty-five) I ought to have put away such childish things. Perhaps also his remark was an indirect compliment, as it showed at least that I had exhibited no undue desire to talk about golf in the precincts of the club. I think I can lay my hand on my heart and say that I had not. Talking golf to people who are fond of it can often be a terrible bore, but to talk it to those who are not—well, it is a crime that brings its own punishment with it. A year or two later when I came into the club having won the President's Putter I was greeted by a little round of applause led by Mr. Herbert Waring. I hope that too was a compliment. At any rate it gave me a pleasant glow which I have remembered.
It is, I must own, absurd to divide the world into two parties, the game-players and the others. Between these two groups there stretches a huge no man's land, where dwell not I perhaps, but, as I willingly admit, the sensible people who play games or at any rate used to play them, and have a reasonable fondness for them, in their proper place. It is not a question of how well they played or play but of a point of view, and theirs is a rational and temperate point of view. They understand, and those to whom games mean nothing are often, in this respect, without understanding. They may know vaguely what the player is trying to do; they do not know in the least what is going on in his brain, if they will allow him to possess one; the fact that he cares passionately not merely for the winning but for the art of the game as an art seems to them almost incredible. I am not saying for a moment that the game-players are not just as stupid as those born lacking this sense. Of course they are very often, intensely and intolerably stupid. All I say is that it is six of one and half a dozen of the other and neither side has got the right to think the other more incomprehensible and uncomprehending than itself.
It is not at all necessary to be a fanatical lover of games to get at the heart of them. Nobody has said, as far as I
know, that Hazlitt ever played fives or played anything else, but in Cavanagh the fives player he achieved the noblest description of playing a game that ever was written. I can scarcely believe he ever was in a court, any more than I believe that Cavanagh played for game after game with his clenched fist. To see the difference between the commentator and the actual player one should read another admirable piece of prose not so well known as it deserves to be, Alfred Lyttelton's account of Bill Gray playing rackets. That however is by the way. Hazlitt saw Cavanagh and saw the game of fives with an understanding eye, and he wrote of it as the genius that he was. Other writers, some great and some good, have written about games and have not understood at all. Perhaps it is futile to quote the best known of all accounts of a cricket match, that between All Muggleton and Dingley Dell. Doubtless it was not meant to be taken seriously, but doubtless also Dickens did not fully appreciate what nonsense he was writing, although it was divine nonsense. There is another much quoted and not divine. Heaven and the shade of that delightful person, Sir Henry Newbolt, forgive me but really: "Play up, play up and play the game." Did or could any captain ever dream of saying such words to the last man in at a critical moment 1 Bad light and a bumpy pitch, some considerable time to go and a good many runs to get: such was the situation in which the captain might have said various things. He might have told the batsman to keep his bat firmly planted in the block, advice given in vain to poor Mr. Stewart when he went in to face the last ball of Cobden's over. He might have told him to let the runs come or have used in effect George Hirst's famous words, "Wilfred, we'll get them by singles." The one thing he never could have done was to hearten him with an intolerably tiresome moral precept, in the circumstances quite meaningless. Mr. Arthur Benson once wrote that it was possible to be just as solemn and priggish about games as about anything else. So it is and I dare say I am being solemn
what Mr. Yellowplush called a "beneviolent old gentleman," and to see him chuck my daughter aged one under the chin as she sat in her pram in Nevile's Court, was to see gallantry in its most engaging form.
The company at our house at Cambridge when I was young was by no means exclusively scientific; indeed the guests that I remember most clearly were in quite other lines of learning. I summon up a picture of tea on the lawn at my father's on some sunny afternoon in the May term, and the first visitor I see there is that beloved person, the late Mr. J. D. Duff of Trinity. He certainly was not scientific for like another distinguished classic, Professor Jebb, he had had, so we were always told, a desperate struggle to defeat the mathematics in the little-go. In my picture he is reclining in a wicker chair rather hot, pink and exhausted, for he has just walked back from Girton where he has been teaching. The sight of him going up the Huntingdon Road towards Girton, with something of the rolling gait of a sailor in a play, was a very familiar one and presaged his coming to tea on the way home. It was a considerable walk from Trinity and he had thoughts of a bicycle, but this simple art for some mysterious reason he could not or at any rate did not master, and after various mishaps abandoned for ever. He being an Aberdonian had played golf all his life, not particularly well but well enough to play for Cambridge against Oxford in the early days of the university match. It was a perpetual joy to hear him roll the "r" in "iron," a letter which the Englishman leaves out as unblushingly as a cockney does his aitches, and he could tell rac about Archie Simpson and Willie Campbell. When I was fifteen he had given me by far the most splendid spree that I had ever then enjoyed. We had stayed a night in London and crowded into two days unspeakable joys. On the first day we went to the University Sports and I saw W. E. Lutyens win the first of his four miles for Cambridge, a guileless-looking freshman in large round spectacles, and C. B. Fry, also a freshman, achieve his record in the
long jump. There was then no megaphone to announce the result and the news travelled slowly round the ground. It was clear that something world-shaking had happened, but what was it ? "23 ft. 5 ins." was whispered in awe-stricken and incredulous tones. On the next day we saw the start of the Boat Race from a garden near Putney, but that was a little flat by comparison; Cambridge did not win as they had in the sports, and the spree had reached its culmination on the night before when we had dined at Kettner's, with champagne, and gone to the Gaiety to see Cinder Ellen Up Too Late. Fred Leslie was there, not Nellie Farren, but the great event was Miss Lottie Collins in " Ta-ra-ra-boomdeay." The song was then at its zenith and so, I suppose, near to its decline. She sang it, I think, at several theatres and music halls every night, and it had nothing in the world to do with Cinder Ellen. Suddenly everything else came to a standstill; the players vanished, the orchestra struck up the famous tune and Miss Lottie Collins pranced on to the stage with the inimitable air of conviction, the buoyant certainty of welcome which only the stars of the music hall possess, and dashed straightway into those remarkable words:
" You should see me out with Pa Very prim and particular."
It must have been two years or so later that I dined in hall at Trinity with Mr. Duff, and he made me do two things I had never done before, drink a glass of port and smoke a cigarette. When I reported these facts on returning home the cigarette was disapproved of as likely to sow the seeds of corruption too early, but as I did not begin to smoke till five or six years later my host may fairly be acquitted. I certainly resisted all temptation when I used sometimes as an undergraduate to go and sit in his rooms in the evening, and he smoked many pipes. It was, as I suppose, about that time that Mr. Duff was doing a remarkable thing in teaching
himself Russian in order to read the great Russian writers in the original. He learnt it so well as to produce a number of translations, in particular of Aksakoff. How good a translation it may be I naturally cannot judge, but it would be hard to imagine better English.
Periodically there would appear for tea in the garden visitors from a world outside Cambridge, some from London, some from Oxford who had perhaps come over for a dinner of the Ad Eundem, a club to which my father belonged, while my Uncle George was of the rival body, the Ambarum. Perhaps these made the deeper impression as rarities. At any rate I remember Sir Edmund Gosse, who talked enchantingly. He gave the impression of a cat purring happily when it is stroked, and the stroking in his case consisted in other people sitting and listening, a delighted and silent audience. Yorke Powell came from Oxford, another admirable talker, with an oddly nautical aspect produced, as I now suppose, by blue clothes of a peculiar cut. From Oxford too came a visitor whom I loved, my uncle, or to be precise my step-uncle, Paul Willert, for many years a fellow of Exeter. He was wonderfully picturesque, with a grey imperial that made him look a little like the Emperor of the French on the postage stamps, and there was a corresponding seduction, with something of a foreign elegance, in his manners. There was one little story about him to which we were much attached. He lived at the top of Headington Hill at Oxford and one day driving home he came across an old washerwoman toiling along at the foot of the hill with a heavy laundry basket. With his usual politeness he gave her and her basket a lift to the top. She was much impressed by his kindness and was heard to tell the story afterwards in these words: "Mr. Willert 'e came along and 'e says to me,' Lor, Mrs. B,' 'e says, ' 'ow you do sweat! '!' One more picture from that garden, and it is a singularly clear one for I saw it but once, is of a very different kind of person, a swarthy, silent, rather sulky Italian peasant woman. This is Eusapia Paladino, the famous
medium, who was staying with Mr. F. W. H. Myers and was brought to tea. It cannot have amused her and as I remember, she hardly spoke, but it was interesting to see her because she was then holding seances at the Myers's house, which various university people, my father among them, attended. He used to come back and tell us thrilling things, ending in a blaze of excitement and her alleged exposure. I say "alleged" even at this time of day from the united caution of a journalist and a stickit lawyer, and because I know nothing about it of my own knowledge.
Somebody I knew was once going to stay with a branch of a very well-known family in East Anglia, when one of the daughters of the house said to him. " I hope you won't be bored. We care for nothing but religion and shooting." I must admit I should not have been very good at that, and indeed, though 1 have lived a good deal in the country, I am not really of it; I do not know the language and have never wholly caught the tone of it, as Stevenson says that men catch the tone of schooners in the South Seas. I am much better at law, though it is so long since I sold my wig, and if only the lawyers will let me listen to their shop, I am entirely content. After all I did find out—and he confessed it—a Lord Justice in a really scandalous mistake in his book the other day, and when I boasted of it to a puisne judge he did not even know what I was talking about. Civil Service shop, about who is going to get what and why it would never do for somebody else who blotted his copybook in a world-shaking crisis wholly unknown to me, seems, I must say, deplorable, and political shop not always much better, though I have often* listened to it with awe and sometimes even with interest at the Beefsteak Club. I like to hear Sir Seymour Hicks talk about anything and everything that comes into his head. If there is a little murder trial in it, why, so much the better. Finally, one thing that I promise myself, if the war ends and I am alive, is to make a pilgrimage to Edinburgh, which is all on the way to St. Andrews, to listen to Mr. Roughead talking
about murders. At present I only know him, as Miss Deborah Jcnkyns would say, "epistolarily," but the happy day may come, and, if it does, he will have, I am afraid, to take me forcibly by the shoulders and turn me out of his house, lest I never go.
1 I have wandered far from where I started in this desultory chapter, letting myself drift with the stream, and now at the end of it I find nryself asking whether I shall ever talk about games again. I hope so, for it is good fun, if it be not so much about the strokes as about the people who make them, good, simple talk, with now and then a little piece of inner history, and cheerfulness constantly breaking in. Here in my Cotswold refuge I feel as if I were almost forgetting "the slang and the signs and the drift of the under-currents which, if a man would master, he must always continue to learn." Only the other day I had to rack my brains hard before I could remember the Christian name of a famous professional and wondered how long it was since I had so much as thought of his existence. It came back at last as, please goodness, something of the old existence will come back one day and find me ready for it.
CHILDREN AND GROWN-UPS
One of my very few distinct memories of my grandfather is of a little walk with him, when I was perhaps four years old. The family was returning home from somewhere; when we got out at Orpington Station there was the carriage waiting, but he and I did not immediately get into it. We took a short-cut down a path across a ploughed field (there is a road there now and shops and villas) and intercepted the carriage at the corner. That is mild and dull enough in all conscience and yet the adventure has stuck in my head ever since; it was invested with the undying splendour of doing something real with a grown-up. The tradition was successfully carried on when I had a family of my own. It often happened that I had been to watch a golf match on a Saturday. The account of it for Monday's paper was written after breakfast on Sunday morning, and then my daughter and I would set out to take it from Chelsea to Printing House Square. We went by Underground without much conversation, for the greatest glories are often enjoyed in silence. Having discharged our errand, we walked part of the way home along the Embankment, looking at the sea-gulls and the nautical small boys on a training ship, until we came to Charing Cross where we got into the Underground again. Near The Times office was a shop open on Sundays and selling admirable chocolates. Some of these we bought and consumed according to strict rules; one when Ave had traversed, from island to island, the perilous crossing at Blackfriars Bridge; another by the Temple Station and so on. This was to be sure a feature of
the enterprise by no means negligible, but the over-riding
romance was, I am convinced, that of reality; at all hazards the account had to be taken to The Times, and we had taken it.
The point must not be too strongly insisted upon, for children know that grown-ups do things to amuse them and, as long as the fact is not rubbed in, are far from resenting it. In an old bound volume of Punch there is a picture by du Maurier of a large Bishop playing at ball with a little girl. The little girl points out that nurse has come to take her in, "And so I'm afraid you'll have to go on playing all by yourself." That is entirely charming but it may be doubted whether it is good psychology. I maintain that the little girl knew that the Bishop was playing for her benefit; he liked it, of course, as any sensible person must, but he did it for her sake, though he had the tact to conceal it. And yet even as I write those words, there comes back to me a scene which is against my contention. A small girl had for some time been allowed the use of a cupboard with a glass door for a doll's house. The bottom shelf was the ground floor, the next shelf was the second floor, and this transparent make-believe served very well. At Christmas we gave her a real doll's house of a modest magnificence, and for some time she gazed with that rigidity of enjoyment which is too deep for words. At last, struggling to express her gratitude, she began, "I tell you what I will do if you is so good as this to me again." She proposed to surrender the cupboard to us, so that we could have it all to ourselves, presumably to put our dolls in, and she clearly had no doubt that she was conferring the greatest favour in her power. That tends to show that du Maurier was right-—and no one ever had a more delicious feeling for children—and that I am wrong. Nevertheless I shall stick to my guns so far as to say that children have a good general understanding of the situation.
Truth of intercourse is necessary between grown-ups and children, but not the whole truth, which can be bitterly wounding. I remember that in extreme youth I had an ambition to be a house-painter, and the smell of fresh paint
can still arouse in me beautiful nostalgic yearnings. The front gate of my uncle's house at Cambridge was being painted a dark rich green and I, attired in a protective armour of brown holland, was allowed to take part. The professional painter, a long, lean man in a white coat, had doubtless been given a tip to this end, and he was very kind. I was sloshing on the green paint with ecstatic brush when a friend of his came by and made some comment on his assistant. "It doesn't matter," he said with rather a weary smile, "it'll all have to come off again." I do him the justice to believe that he did not mean me to hear, but I did hear. I went on sloshing but something had gone out of the world; the sun shone less brightly and the scent of that paint was no longer "like the new May flowers."
Tact knows where to draw the line. There is seldom any need for mendacity; only for a decent reticence. Once upon a time there was a little girl, now long since married with large children of her own, who at Christmas time burst suddenly into floods of tears. " Of course," she sobbed, "I knew it wasn't really Father Christmas, but I didn't want any one to say so." There some grown-up had blundered. Father Christmas can pass so painlessly that no one can say when he died, and the rite of the stocking can still be celebrated with no lessening of joy or excitement till childhood is long past. There are other things which have to be put away, such as childhood's words, for no self-respecting child would willingly employ them and, once it has found them out, would regard their use by others as an insult. My younger daughter called an umbrella for some considerable time by the name of Aunt Brella. I do not think I am unduly prejudiced in calling it an engaging one, with that suggestion of protective kindness which belongs to the best aunts. We did our very best to put off the inevitable revelation of the prosaic truth; the household habitually made use of the term with perfect solemnity and never a sidelong glance, but the day of discovery came all too soon. Years afterwards Aunt Brella came back again,
and the gilding, and the getting there early and hearing the orchestra begin and the going home late " in the middle of the night when the clock strikes nothing." Does it really matter much what is the first play when the mere fact of going to it is so far more important ? Hamlet, Lady Clan-carty, The Mikado and The Schoolmistress (with beloved Mrs. John Wood)—that is, I believe, my own list; and though I certainly laughed a loud ringing laugh at the ghost, thereby earning a scowl from Mr. F. R. Benson, I think I liked Hamlet fully as well as the other three. With grown-ups a play is a thing of the moment. They say what they have got to say about it and it is all over, but with children it soaks in slowly and comes out again later, perhaps at the garrulous hour of the bath. Only then does it appear that they have observed many things believed to have passed them by, and many other and more heavenly ones which the stupid grown-ups have never observed at all. The Cockyollybird was the first play of one small girl, at which I assisted, and for days afterwards she would say with a sudden gulp of pleasure, "And then the little girl------" It was beyond articulate speech, but in her heart the Cockyollybird was singing, "all red and blue and gold."
No chapter on children, however desultory and incomplete, could lack a reference to those props and stays of existence, those best friends of childhood, servants. The green baize door at the end of the passage, dividing one region of the house from the other, is as the gate into a paradise, where there are angels to talk to, exciting things to eat, curious and interesting processes such as plate-cleaning to watch. Beyond it again, through the back door, there used to be another paradise of the stable yard, with the wagonette immobile in the coach-house and a box-seat to sit on in lonely glory. It must be presumed that the garage has for the youth of to-day the same fascination, but, even if we leave the horses out of account, it is hard to believe this on several grounds. First, a car needs no whip.
and there is nothing so romantic as a whip; secondly, people do not hiss when they clean cars; thirdly, no garage can possess a smell comparable to that of a harness-room. A chauffeur may doubtless be just as angelic as a coachman but he is unfairly handicapped in the race, in that he does not wear such beautiful shiny boots nor a white criss-cross tie with a horse-shoe pin. Neither, to be sure, do gardeners, but they can be romantic too, and the one that I personally remember best had little beyond mystery and romance to recommend him. In the first place he did not come from Kent; he had apparently dropped there from the skies and was extremely reticent about his previous life, but one day he was reported to have let slip that he came from Herefordshire, and that sounded a long way off. Secondly, he walked with an upright, soldierly carriage very different from the rustic slouch, and there was or seemed to be something vaguely military in his manner of salute. From these slender facts and from his taciturnity sprang a rumour, generally credited, that he was a deserter from the Army. Whatever his past he never revealed it; never mentioned any relations, and when he died, leaving several hundred pounds of savings, he had made no will. I cannot recall that he ever said very much and his colleague was much more forthcoming, but it was he who possessed what to-day would be called glamour, and it is he who comes before me now, in his shirt sleeves and a curious little black pork-pie hat. So important is it, even unconsciously, to "cultivate the mysterious and the sublime."
It is partly no doubt for that reason that in the eyes of youth menservants have the advantage over women. Moreover they can do things. Jackson, the beloved butler of my youth, made me wooden swords and bowled to me for what now seem like hours, and he had an occupation for his spare time which was entrancing to watch; he made models out of cork, one of Down House, which now reposes somewhere, I believe, amid Darwinian relics. He had the rosiest red cheeks and little whiskers and none of
that suave Jeevesian deportment which belongs to butlers in fiction. It was a sad day when he left to become first of all a coachman, then the keeper of a public house and, finally, to live in retirement at Addiscombe and grow colossal pears in a small orchard. We used to write to each other at intervals, and when he was an old man and I had come back to live in Kent, we saw each other again after many years. Mrs. Jackson was in striking contrast with this rather exuberant and unprofessional personality, the neatest, tidiest, and most correct of women, always as bright as a new pin. She sowed agonies of envy in me when I was very small, because she had been a nurse to a little boy who seemed dowered with all the things I yearned for and did not possess. In particular he had had a whole white flannel suit in which to play cricket, and a cap, if I remember rightly, of chocolate and white in quarters. I played cricket in my ordinary clothes and I hated him accordingly, but I loved Mrs. Jackson and there was a certain joy, as of deliberate self-torture, in hearing about that detestable little boy. I cannot help thinking, by the way, that other children's clothes cause some of the most miserable pangs which children have to bear. I am not thinking so much of a certain degrading black velvet suit; that I disposed of once and for all by falling into a newly cut drain in it. It is rather a matter of quantity than quality, of suffering in virility from having to wear more clothes than somebody else. I had some odious garments, which dispensed with braces; the waistcoat had buttonholes which fastened on to the buttons of my knickerbockers, so that to take off the waistcoat was to cause an obvious catastrophe. Therefore I could never strip to my shirt like any proper cricketer. Another bitter memory is of going out well-wrapped up on a frosty morning and seeing a boy, no larger than myself, walking about in his ordinary clothes with no greatcoat on. For such a privilege I would willingly have been frozen to the marrow. The sight of him made me feel about two years old.
When my father had his own establishment and we
lived no longer with my grandmother, there was no more splendour of butler or coachman, except on a visit, but maids were very endearing. One of the very earliest (of the Down epoch) had, when she left to get married, given me a picture oi Cirencester Church under a glass case. It must have vanished for some fifty years when I first came into Gloucestershire and was in a car, I knew not precisely where. Suddenly there appeared in the distance a stone tower of a particular golden hue, and on the instant I exclaimed "Cirencester Church." Its image and the fact of that parting present had been dormant in my mind all those years, to be thus vividly reawakened. My father's house was very fortunate. The same maids, or very nearly the same, stayed there for ever, and have not been lost; but it cannot always be so and there is something sad and fraught with reproach in growing up and nearly forgetting those many kindnesses, those long interrupting talks in the midst of work, so patiently and even angelically endured. Sometimes those that are best remembered do not belong to our own house but to some holiday home eagerly and annually looked forward to. There the servants share the glory that hangs round everything else. Even as the fly that takes us there from the station is an enchanted chariot, so the kitchen is like no other in the world. Certainly one of the pleasantest visions of my grown-up life is of my children arriving at my Aunt Etty's house at Gomshall and tearing tumultuously into the back regions with frantic salutations. If in the new world this is one of the things that cannot happen so often again, there will be something lost that nothing can replace.
SOME FRIENDLY DOGS
When my sister was a little girl she was told not to kiss dogs on their noses because they poked them into dust-heaps. She replied that she thought the beautiful dew on them made it all right. That small story illustrates one great difference between the two classes of dog lovers. There are those whom we call doggy, as we speak of people as horsy. There are the others, and I number myself among them, who love dogs but are not doggy.
The doggy emphatically do not want to kiss dogs on their noses. They do not want to kiss them at all. They would regard such a practice much as Englishmen regard the embracing of one another in moments of emotion, " which is what them foreigners do." They treat their dogs in what they would call, and no doubt rightly, a sensible manner. In fact they treat them as the best kind of officer does his men, having a constant solicitude for them, but allowing no familiarity; being a firm disciplinarian, showing no favouritism, down on malingerers, standing no nonsense, and yet, at least as regards any normal type, having plenty of understanding. Such officers, however stern they may be on occasions, gain a deep measure of devotion from their men and so can the truly doggy from their dogs. They discourage any display of feeling, saying, " Down, down," in a firm voice when there is any excessive prancing or fawning. They have properly rigid views about begging at meals or nose-toasting too near the fire and, indeed, incline to believe that the house is not the dog's
sphere. As to anything in the nature of tricks, as apart from
shooting drill, they regard it as an effeminate foppery unworthy of the true dogly character. They think we spoil our dogs, as we sometimes do, and they certainly do not spoil theirs but bring them up to be law-abiding if not always interesting. They may seem to us, who are of a different persuasion, to miss something of the more human qualities in their dogs; but we may be wrong and they may be quite right in deeming us weak, sentimental and gushing. The two points of view are almost irreconcilable for several reasons, and, in particular, because the one party attaches much, importance to pedigrees and sporting proclivities, while the other can cherish an utter mongrel who has plenty of wits, but would be frightened of a gun and take no interest in a rat or a rabbit.
In some ways it seems to me that the difference between these two classes is like that between those who uphold and those who attack the public school system. The former are good conservatives, who believe in a certain amount of discipline and a regular training producing a satisfactory type of boy who knows how to behave himself. The latter make an outcry against excessive addiction to sport, a stereotyped education and the crushing of originality. As to public schools I am the staunchest of tories and hate the reformers like poison, with a good ignorant hatred that disdains argument. But in the matter of dogs I am in the opposite camp, and am all for a free outlet for individual character and that sort of thing. Though I may love a sporting dog as a dog, I have no interest in his achievements, however resounding, in the field. I have even been known to rejoice in the forest of waving tails of a pack of hounds, and do not greatly care that this is not the right way in which to refer to them.
I do not for one moment profess to be a good representative of the class which is fond of dogs without being technically doggy. The best of them give fully as much practical devotion to their dogs as any one can, and that is where I am conscious of failing. I am terribly weak
about dogs. In some ways they can do with me as they will. When they scratch at the door I must needs get up and open it, and that not merely because the sound of the persistent paw is a nuisance. So it is when they sit looking expectantly at a door, as if believing that a sufficiently concentrated gaze will make it open and produce a dinner plate. The pathos of that dinner is almost unbearable. It is so long looked forward to; it is gobbled up in so dreadfully few seconds and then there is such a long blank of waiting till the clock comes round again. The shortness of that instant of ecstasy seems symbolic of the shortness of their lives. So when they tell, as they do, the most transparent lies, even though they be mute ones, to the effect that they have not had their dinner, there is, however firmly resisted, an agonising temptation to believe them. Their yelp of mendaciously exaggerated pain, when they are trodden on by mistake, is a stab to the heart and no explanation that it was not done on purpose can be too full, no apology too grovelling, even to the point of practical compensation. An intentional accident in the shape of food dropped on the floor which needs tidying with the tongue must now and again be allowed. It is no more than keeping up an old and pleasant custom, just as Mr. Luxmoore, an Eton master, was said deliberately to forget school once a half and so give his division a " run." In short I am very sentimental about dogs and am ready to give them any pleasure as long as it is not too much trouble. It is a lamentable confession, but on this point I feel that I must be as George Washington. When it comes to giving them a bath or a pill eagerness evaporates; I would rather talk to them than powder them with the invaluable Keating and carry out a business-like hunt. And so I have never been to any dog the chief god in his pantheon, and that is perfectly just. There have been in my life a number of family dogs and we have been " ever the best of friends" but no more. The dog, to quote some charming verses by Mr. Alfred Cochrane:
"Needs such trifling joys to raise His tail to a contented wagging."
If we can provide these most of us must be content and leave the utter devotion to those who have deserved it.
The first dog that I remember at all was Polly, a white terrier at Down. A stuffed simulacrum of her now rests in a basket in my grandfather's study at Down House and may some day, I trust, be removed. My grandfather was very weak about her and used to be harrowed by Parslow, the old butler, declaring that she was "most mad with hunger." Her image is very dim indeed, and all that I recollect at all clearly is her funeral under a certain Beauty of Kent apple tree which I used to climb. Apropos of my grandfather and dogs there is a curious little story in his life which always interests me. He had a dog at Shrewsbury who was devoted to him and whom he used to take regularly out for walks. When he came home from the voyage of the Beagle he went round to the stable yard and gave a particular whistle that was his alone. The dog came out and started off as usual without the slightest demonstration of surprise or joy, as if the years had stood still and their last walk had been only the day before.
There was no other dog at Down in my day, but when we went to live at Cambridge there was a series of them, for both my father and stepmother were very fond of them, and she in particular had a "little language" of her own for conversing with them, some words of which, doubtless in a broken and mutilated form, remain. Her word "trit-trot" for the dogs' last essential little walk before going to bed, has survived in the family as "tit-tats," and philologists of the future will doubtless find highly erroneous origins for the term. There was first of all Otter, so christened, I believe, by myself after reading The Settlers in Canada. He was a mongrel of wholly indistinguishable ancestry, save perhaps for some minim of sheep-dog blood that caused his tangled locks to fall over his eyes. He had
an almost unique power of blackmailing the weak-minded by an intolerably appealing whiffle through his nose, and used to be danced round the room to the tune of "The Flowers that Bloom in the Spring." Then there was, for too brief a time, Tan, who was a cross between a mastiff and a St. Bernard. Tan was short for Tantallon, this grandiose name having been given him from the castle near North Berwick. My father had gone there to play golf and he and my stepmother had fallen hopelessly in love with two puppies, Tan and his brother Don. When they were walking with them through, I think, the streets of Edinburgh, a polite German accosted them with the words, "Madam, who are these dogs?" That pleases me almost as much as the story, perhaps too well known, of the German prince who on meeting a pug in an English country house exclaimed, "Ha! a pog! A very seldom dog." I doubt if I saw Don, for he was sold or given away at once, but Tan was a joy of the household for a perceptible time. He had the sweetest and most foolish of smiles and gave the friendliest paw. Unfortunately, as he grew to his full size, it was a very large paw, and when he gave it to small children, with an accompanying lick, they were generally knocked down and nearly always frightened out of their wits. Worse remained behind, for he developed an affection for cabmen and wanted to lick them too. One, a very old one, he knocked off his box, and it was felt that something must be done. So he was presented to a lady who promised to give him a home, presumably in a cabless land. I hope it was a happy one.
After these two, and perhaps after an interregnum, came a notable couple who survived for years, Pat and Whisk. Pat was an Irish terrier, Whisk a Scottish one, or as he was then called, an Aberdeen. His name, when he was bought, had been Whisky, but this was unendurable and was shortened accordingly. They were sufficiently good friends in that both belonged to the same association—■ we called it the Jolly Dog Club—for investigating the dust-
heaps on the Huntingdon road, but they were entirely unlike one another in character. Whisk was clever while Pat was undeniably stupid. With great difficulty and much against his will he learnt to give one paw, his left, and nothing in the world would make him give the other. Over and over again he would tender that one wistful, persistent paw, conscious that he was not at his best and was being made a fool of, but having a reasonable wish for water biscuit. Beyond that his dignity would not let him descend. Meanwhile, Whisk was like a small boy in class anxious to answer a question and holding up his hand "in a restless agony of superior information." He had a considerable number of accomplishments, the most engaging of which perhaps were the banging of his two sable paws on the table-cloth in "Up Jenkins," and sitting in a little armchair, modelled I believe on one in Ely Cathedral, where he looked like a rather dissipated black bishop. He was dying with eagerness to go through his repertory and resented the time wasted by Pat's fumbling. He was exceedingly possessive over his dimier, and it was an unvarying tradition to ask him when in the middle of it whether it was good. To these questions he replied by the most ferocious growling with his mouth full.
Whisk was brilliant in a showy way and Pat was slow, reserved and infinitely faithful, with a touching simplicity of character, that wrould have melted a heart of stone. He was a one-man dog, for, though he was fond of us all, his real adoration was kept for my father. He seems to me in looking back rather like a certain type of regular soldier, with no very wide range of ideas, but a simple faith, a strong sense of duty, and indomitable courage. He would fight anything on four legs, and that, I am sure, he deemed part of his duty, since he all too easily snuffed insults to his family. All other dogs apparently said rude things about us, so that the challenge trembled perpetually on his lips. He had one fault, and that he knew perfectly well to be naughty, namely, the occasional killing of chickens.
Of this, no beating nor tying the victim round his neck could wholly cure him. He was sincerely penitent if ever a dog was, and passed the evening in great depression, hardly capable of appreciating the first movement towards forgiveness; but ever and anon the demon in him, grown stronger by abstinence, would come out roaring and another chicken had to be paid for. Not only he but the whole household used temporarily to be plunged into sorrow over this shortcoming, for there was about him a really heartrending pathos. He had no arts of wheedling or insinuating; he did not mean to be pathetic; he ouly meant to be good and that made his sins the harder to bear. All dogs are touching, but Pat's delight, when a walk was in prospect, and his grin of affection, went terribly straight to the heart.
Some years ago there was an account in the newspapers of the "Talking Dogs" of Mannheim. They were supposed to have learned to express themselves in a code by the beatings of their tails, and this new science was called, from the Greek verb so familiar in boyhood, typto-logy. It is, I suggest, a good thing that they have had no successors, for it is the muteness of the dog's appeal that gives it half its charm. If typtology had been widely taught in the days of Pat and Whisk, Whisk would doubtless have poured out an endless flood of gossip, largely egotistical, but partly also, since he was a great scavenger, on the entrancing odours in the neighbourhood. He would have talked us all down; but Pat, if he could ever have mastered the alphabet, would have said but little. A halting word or two of affection possibly, a desire for his game of ball assuredly—that is as far as he would have gone. His one supreme merit consisted in being a true gentleman to the very bottom of his soul.
My father had later another Aberdeen terrier, answering to the pleasant name of Scrubbins. He had belonged to a friend who died and, since he was then both homeless and jmangy, his fate was almost sealed. However a kind vet cured
him and he survived several years, a dog of considerable character and a most faithful friend to my father. Once or twice my father took him to the University Library, left him outside and forgot him. Scrubbins quite unperturbed went to the nearest cab-stand, where he was well known, and took a hansom home. One little scene in which he figured comes back to me. My sister was being married in the forbidding precincts of the Cambridge Registry Office and Scrubbins had been left at the door. We were all ranged in due order before the table and the proceedings had begun, when a deliberate pit-a-pat was heard in the passage. Somebody got up to shut the door but the Registrar hastily interposed; the marriage, it appeared, would not be legal unless it were open to all comers to attend. So Scrubbins pattered in and behaved with perfect discretion and decorum. He added a cheerful note to the rather grim ceremony, and if there had been a vestry we were all satisfied that he would have signed his name in it. Scrubbins belonged to a time when I was married and had a house of my own, but we had no dogs of our own for a good many years, since London is not a good place for them. To the war-time belongs one sad little story of a big dog, Peter of Macedon. In a general way the large wolfish Macedonian dog is as unpleasant a creature as need be. He can be kept at bay by throwing stones, but he is undeniably formidable. When I used to play golf on the Vardar marshes there were two or three of these brutes that hung round a cottage there, and would look at us with very ugly faces as we drew near it. One of my playfellows had a rather elaborate and prolonged address to the ball, and, as he waggled, the dogs would skulk ever nearer to him, but he always hit the ball just in time. When I was with the staff of the 26th Division our General had one of these dogs; it liked him but it disliked every one else, and an orderly flying for his life was an almost everyday sight in the camp. If everybody had not been so fond of the General I think that dog might have met with an accident.
it might be well to "pass it once round." And then the very first question on the paper that greeted the Summer-field team on going into Upper School was on this very subject. I cannot recall anything so magical and second-sighted as that. I have only a general impression of bringing out our rough copies of verses and submitting them to him with a half pleasant, half torturing anxiety. We had some lines of Gray to put into elegiacs, about Phoebus and his golden fires, and the birds singing. What we didn't know about Phoebus and his epithets was hardly knowledge and as to birds—well, canit is a good word for the end of a pentameter and so is avis, while volucris is a handy word almost anywhere. I know that people allude unkindly to verses as "jig-saw puzzles" but I will stoutly maintain that they were the best fun in the world, and that is much more than can be said for most branches of education. The end of that glorious expedition was that four of us got into College: that I astoundingly was fifth, beating, a little perhaps to the Doctor's chagrin, two of his best boys, one of whom is now a bishop, and that I then went to London for a mixed spree, a dentist in the day-time and Jim the Penman and the " Red Lamp" at night.
There is a family legend about my great-great-grandfather, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, that on being asked by a lady whether he did not find it fatiguing to write so much poetry, he replied, " No, madam, and as long as they pay me a guinea a line I can keep it up to all eternity." I, having no such rich reward in view (the old gentleman was certainly overpaid), have a little of the same feeling about Summerfield, so many memories of it come back. There was our reading, for instance. Some of us used to make " love lists" of our favourite books and then strike an average in order to produce statistical tables. Treasure Island was at the top of mine; other people put King Solomon's Mines first, while Q^'s Dead Man's Rock was always there or thereabouts. The bulk of my list, however, and of everybody else's list, was occupied by the works of G. A. Henty, with Man-
ville Fenn doing his best to keep up. At teatime that voice from heaven, which I mentioned before in its more awful manifestation, proclaimed in gentler tones, "Those who have finished may read." Thereupon books were produced from their hiding-places and the long white tables glittered with a line of Hentys in red and gold and green. One boy, doubtless steeped in precocious sin, had The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, sacrilegiously concealed within the covers of an eviscerated Bible, but I hardly think he produced it at tea. That was a piece of dramatic wickedness comparable to R.'s smuggling of the red and yellow sweets and R.'s name reminds me of another book, of dread significance, the Black Book. In this was inscribed the name of any one who had been naughty, whether in point of lessons or deportment. On Saturday the book was examined, the criminals paraded and three entries were presumed to entail painful consequences. Once this desperate R., thinking, I suppose, that he might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb, contrived to have seven entries against his name in a single week. All powers of prophecy were utterly inadequate, and yet in fact nothing befell him, except no doubt a "jaw." This was perhaps a little disappointing but most impressive. We looked on him as we might on one who had stood on the very scaffold and had been reprieved because the mechanism of the drop failed to work. He too was impressed and became, as I remember, a comparatively reformed character.
One thing which filled me with unspeakable alarm during my first term was an assembly of the whole school for the purpose of being examined in the catechism. We were duly warned that it was coming, but what was a day or two of preparation to one who had never heard of the catechism before in all his life? Such was my heathen condition and I struggled feverishly with my duty towards my neighbour and entered the room on the day more dead than alive with terror. The relief when I was only asked to recite the Lord's Prayer was almost too much for
me. No doubt the Doctor had been told by my father of my unorthodox bringing-up and so in the kindness of his heart put me to this encouragingly easy test; but that naturally enough did not occur to my small mind, and for days afterwards I congratulated myself on my unexampled good fortune. Whether or not it ever happened again I have no recollection. If it did, that moment of being for the first time under fire has blotted out all the rest.
Whether we were very well fed according to modern standards or fussy mothers I do not know. We were not, as Mrs. Joe Gargery would have called it, "pompeyed," and there was a certain dullness about the slabs of bread and butter for tea, but we had plenty to eat. I have still an affectionate regard for potted meat, acquired at Summer-field, and sausages, on Sunday morning I think, were delicious. I do not ever remember being ill there, though once when I came home for the holidays my grandmother remarked, "You're looking very green and ugly." It may be, too, that we did not have quite so many baths as have our successors, but that is a lack as to which no small boy would feel any grievance. Now and again there was in the winter term a play, and at the end of the summer term was a speechmaking and prize-giving to which parents came. In front of me on one such occasion sat a youthful dark and opulent mother, whom grown-up knowledge tells me to have been a Jewess. She produced a yellow-backed novel and read it throughout the proceedings to which she paid not the slightest attention. That was not quite The Mystery of a Hansom Cab inside a Bible, but it was reckless and exciting. My family never attended that ceremony, but my father used to come down at least twice a year to stay with relations on Headington Hill, when I would go out for a long Sunday there, beginning with sausages for breakfast and ending with tears. In my first term I had known nothing about his coming, till I was suddenly called out of the classroom into the private part of the house. When I found him there waiting for me I was
really and truly, as people are in books, speechless with joy. Occasionally too in the summer there was some form of short leave. Once my aunt, Mrs. Willert, gave me tea at Boffin's and took me to a barge to see the races; and once I had tea in Magdalen with my cousin Dick Atkin, then an undergraduate and now a law lord.
Apart from the regular games all private schools have their amusements, which come in regular periods according to the seasons of the year. There was certainly a hammock-making season at Summerfield and a season for fighting with horse chestnuts, and in the summer there were " dabbing" cricket matches, in which one cheated more or less outrageously in favour of one's particular champion. There is a good deal to be done in this way without opening the eyes. One comes to know whereabouts are the squares on the board marked "6" and those marked "bowled," and the pencil can be wielded with considerable accuracy. I used to play this game with the present Bishop of Guildford and I do not believe that he was notably more honest than any one else. I fancy that small boys make themselves more unpleasant and even brutal to each other at eleven or twelve than they do rather later, or perhaps it is that they are only more candid. Certainly there were feuds and quarrels, and one was inclined for no particular reason to insult one's best friend and then make it up with him. Doubtless I hated some people and they hated me, but over these hostilities a merciful wave of oblivion has passed. I seem to myself to have been very happy all the time and I gratefully and firmly believe that I was.
things that we know are coming. A book is better than a play, since we can pick and choose what we want according to our mood at the moment. For this purpose there is no book so good as one that comprises in itself several stories, possessing some common tie, yet in effect separate. Middle-march is one admirable example. It is a great book but as a work of art it seems to me to lack the perfection of Silas Marner, for George Eliot had in a sense got too well into her stride when she wrote it; she was taking more liberties with her readers and inflicting on them too many of her tiresome little scientific illustrations. Yet I read it oftener than Silas Marner because it has such a delicious choice of pasturage. There are the Brookes, if you want them, which I do not very often, though I love Mr. Brooke and the silly, kittenish little Celia with her sub-stratum of common sense, who hates, as I do, Dorothea's "notions." There are the Vincys and the Lydgates, the Garths and the Feather-stones, all ingeniously bound together and yet not too closely. According to your mood you can pay your money and take your choice. Another and perhaps a better example is that, as I venture to think, too much neglected book The Wrecker. I am glad to say that I am acquainted with a few people who know it really well. Only the other day I had a letter from a friend who wrote of something: " ' It doesn't make sense,' as Nares said to Loudon Dodd." He had chosen the right man, though he did not know that I knew ; but as a rule such a quotation would get but a blank reception. The Wrecker is something of a patchwork. The authors say as much, when they admit that the book was half written before they heard of the "young swell" toiling in the Australian railway cutting and there and then appropriated him. Paris may be said to be dragged in by the heels for the sake of the Latin quarter and the dangers of Roussillon wine. So in a sense is Edinburgh, but how much poorer the book would be without it and the old Alexander Loudon! "Eh, Ecky, you're an awfu' old man" —it was worth moving the hero from one side of the world
to the other for that one small scene. The opening chapter has nothing particular to do with anything, but there is a magical intoxication in the page or two of description of the southern night. And to enumerate these things is to leave out the whole ingenious machinery of the plot, and the great fight on The Flying Scud. The book, once we come to know it, is like a bill of fare which we can, if we will, begin with the ice and then go back to the soup, certain that each course will be admirable of its kind and that it will not disagree with us because it is taken out of its order. Why do not more people read it ? I can only think that it was not what they thought they had the right to expect, that they were spoilt by Alan Breck and the Highlands and so found something shoddy in the romance of the dollar hunt. To me at least it seems one of the unappreciated masterpieces and the very fact of writing about it makes me resolved to read it in bed this very night. My grandmother used to say that to marry a first cousin, as she herself had done, was " an idle trick." So, no doubt, it is to reread an old book instead of venturing on a new one. It goes with lying on the shoulder blades in a large armchair, with smoking a pipe, with a roaring fire and other accompaniments of laziness. It is however more than a merely restful amusement; it is an agreeably sentimental one. The reader enjoys not only his present pleasure but the memory of past ones; he remembers when and where he enjoyed it before. Sometimes these memories are not superficially pleasant. To read Middle-march is to see myself at one end of a truck on a Decauville railway in Bulgaria while at the other reposes a Russian soldier. I have been ill, the truck is extremely hard, I have had nothing to eat but two explosive eggs, erroneously supposed to be hard-boiled, and the Russian has, if the truth be told, a verminous air. At the time I read the book in rather a hectic manner, in order to abstract my mind from worldly affairs. Perhaps I read it on the principle laid clown by a small boy to an old servant who was gently
bemoaning her fate: "Never mind Jane, think of William the Conqueror and that sort of thing." Nevertheless it was my first step on the way home from, as I then deemed it, that accursed Macedon; all the misery of it is gone and only an afterglow of gratitude to Middle-march remains. For that matter I find it far from disagreeable to remember that I once read Mr. Yellowplush's vivid description of a Channel crossing when I was actually crossing the Channel itself, in closest juxtaposition to a Frenchman who was being ill with unrestrained abandon and a total lack of self-respect. Typhoon stands for a crossing too, but of a more serene kind, for I am sitting at ease on the Baltic ploughing her way steadily across the Atlantic and, as in my Decau-ville truck, I am on my way home. Finally with Sherlock Holmes, in particular The Red-headed League and The Boscombe Valley Mystery, I find myself transplanted to Weston's Yard at Eton. It is after breakfast on a fine morning. This is the day on which the new Strand comes out and, if the newspaper boy does not linger scandalously on his way, he will arrive with it in College library, so that there is just time to read the new Holmes before Chapel. Unfortunately the same thought has occurred to several other enthusiastic students, whereupon we all go out into Weston's Yard, ostensibly to snuff the air and paying no attention to each other, in reality as so many privateers ready to pounce upon the boy and rob him of his precious burden. Sometimes we even wander out into the street in our eagerness, but that confounded boy is nearly always late, and after Chapel is School, and then heaven only knows when the time may come. Wild thoughts even surge in the breast of buying a Strand of one's very own, and from impecunious youth no author could desire a higher compliment.
There seems to me something that may be more seriously, if tentatively, put forward on behalf of the readers of old books, particularly if they ever aspire, in however humble a degree, to write themselves. An appreciation of the author's
skill, in point of detail, can scarcely be acquired other than gradually. It is only on re-reading and that not perhaps for the first time, that we fully discover his virtues, not only in what he says but in how he says it. Very often no doubt we may say that here is pure flaming genius and give it up. Such is the effect produced by George Borrow; he says things that sweep us off our feet, but he very often says them rather turgidly and clumsily than otherwise. In the case of Scott we may even think that it would have been better now and again if he had taken more trouble, that we could improve some of his sentences ourselves. There is a scene in Guy Mannering which is in point. Harry Bertram is looking again for the first time since his childhood on Ellangowan and plays on his flageolet a half forgotten air that is stirring in his memory. Thereupon a girl who is bleaching clothes nearby takes up the tune with:
" Are these the links of Forth, she said Or are these the Crooks of Dee."
It is a wholly magnificent scene, full of enchantment; full also of that expectation of something about to happen, which forms part at any rate of what we call romance. Yet, as Mr. Chesterton has somewhere pointed out, the one long sentence in which nearly all of it is told, is as involved and ungrammatical and incoherent as can well be. Here there is nothing to be learnt, for that which matters cannot be taught and is utterly out of our reach, and that which would matter with almost anybody but Scott is immaterial. There are other authors, however, likewise great, who, if we peg away at them, do reveal some of their secrets, however little we are capable of profiting by them. Thackeray flows along with a lovely ease. He seems perfectly casual; he even makes, as I believe, intentional mistakes in people's names to show how casual he is. Yet when we know him well and so look under the surface we get some glimmerings of his skill; how the
have been a blow in the face, an outrage, a deed not to be named. Better to be crippled for ever; better almost never to have been born. What fun it has all been'. If I never go on another tour—and I live in hopes—I say so again with a full heart.
A LITTLE CRICKET
A little while ago I was given the task of writing a pamphlet on sports and games in this country, such as should be understood by an intelligent foreigner Avho had never been here. That was just before the war and it may well be that no intelligent foreigners have ever read it. If they have I should very much like to know what they made of the description of cricket, for this was a fearful task. The two defenders of the two citadels, their nine comrades staying timorously in the pavilion and doing nothing to help them, while eleven hungry aggressors swarmed around—all this I tried to make clear. When I had laboriously done so to the best of my powers there remained something else to make clear, namely why thousands of people should spend hours in watching what sounded so appallingly tedious. I had to fall back on the sunlight and the green sward and the white figures that quartered backwards and forwards across it; but that I conveyed anything of the fascination of cricket I cannot, even in moments of idiotic vanity, persuade myself to believe.
Indeed it is often a baffling mystery even to those who see the game with their own eyes. It can be superficially dull to the verge of tears. Given a fast bowler who takes a twenty-yard run and a batsman who either deliberately lets the ball go by unscathed on the off-side or pats it gently to point, it appears wholly inexplicable why we watch. One of the most miraculous feats of spell-binding is that of my friend Mr. Howard Marshall on the radio, padding gallantly while that confounded bowler walks back his twenty yards and then describing the ensuing stroke, if it may so be termed, in a new form of words six times running.
He can make it nearly but I hesitate to say quite interesting. Cricket is not all like that, to be sure, but, whether it is or not, we can watch it entranced for hours, sternly resolving to stay for only one more over and then just one more still, until the shadows of the fielders grow longer and longer as the day declines. And this spell often grips most potently those who had little or no skill in the game. I do not know exactly what sort of player was E. V. Lucas at his zenith. It is on record in his daughter's delightful memoir, that he once bowled for Crockham Hill; but I do not inagine that he was ever very good. Yet he adored watching cricket; it was a great day when after many years of waiting, he became a member of the M.C.C., and he was, if I remember rightly, just going to set out for Nottingham to watch the first Test Match of the season, when he was seized with what proved, to the sorrow of so many, his fatal illness. He, at any rate, was brought up in the great cricketing county of Sussex, but another devotee, Sir J. M. Barrie, had, as I suppose, seen little cricket at Kirriemuir and was by all accounts a wholly inconsiderable player. Generally speaking the game seems to make a strong appeal to literary personages, perhaps because they appreciate all its romantic qualities, whether it is played on Broadhalfpenny or at Trent Bridge. The late J. C. Snaith whom I could sometimes induce to talk about Arthur Shrewsbury, as he wandered about the Garrick Club in rather a pathetic ghostly way, was twice blessed, for he not only wrote good novels but played for Nottinghamshire. So the rule does not altogether hold good; and if I carry my list into the realms"of those still happily alive, I must mind my p's and q's, for A.A.M. not only wrote deliriously about the Rabbits but was in the Westminster eleven.
The first cricket I remember to have seen was a village match at Downe, to which one or two of the Lubbocks from High Elms added the lustre of their presence. Alas! there are no Lubbocks to play for or against us now and our cricket is not, I must admit, very good. Yet Downe has
seen great things. Some few summers ago Watt, the Kent fast bowler who comes from Westerham, kindly brought a team to play against us on a Sunday for the benefit of a local charity. All Downe rang with it and rumour declared that the whole Kent eleven and above all Woolley were coming.
"Town and Tower and Village
Had heard the trumpet blast."
and we drew reinforcements that would certainly be needed from all around. On the great day there was a ring encircling the field such as even old Nyren might not have disdained. Many of the "grand old Kent eleven" did come, and in the middle of trouncing Middlesex, which made it all the better. Not Woolley, but one cannot have everything. Fagge who had been making hundred after hundred, Bryan, Chalk, Watt, Lewis, Sunnucks—have I left any out ? At any rate that was stunning enough. Downe made some runs, not a great many but not cruelly few. The visitors were not too hard on us for Watt bowled far below his normal pace and Fagge's bowling reminded me of that of Tom Brown in the Marylebone match at Rugby, when he bowled "slow cobs" to old Mr. Aislabie. I am not precisely aware what these may be, but Fagge's bowling seemed to answer the description.
When our visitors went in, any well brought-up reporter could only have begun his account in one way. "The start," he would have written, "was sensational." The very first ball was a half volley to leg and Sunnocks lashed it manfully and was caught high up, a really magnificent catch by long-leg, running as if the devil was after him. Fagge made a few runs and then was caught off a mis-hit. This was all very well, but patriotism has its limits and we did not want to see all our distinguished guests get out thus quickly. We need not have been anxious. In came Chalk. Our hitherto successful bowler knew
vaguely that he was a hitter and conceived the notion of keeping him quiet by bowling rather short. The result must have disappointed him because ball after ball was hooked out of the ground over the people, over the hedge and into the high road. After a delirious quarter an hour of this sort of thing Chalk took to running out and the bowlers became so terrified that they could scarcely deliver the ball. He ran farther and farther down the pitch in valiant attempts to get out and once or twice he missed the ball, but our wicket-keep was paralysed with anxiety and could do no more than juggle with it. All things come to an end; at last the wicket-keep caught the ball, and this time he made sure; he swept all three stumps out of the ground with a triumphant gesture. The next year Ames came and made as many runs and quite as fast but I was away and did not see him: so the memory of Chalk's innings is enshrined without a rival in my heart.
Village cricket can vary in an extraordinary degree. In Hampshire, for instance, the original home of the noble game, there is that tiniest of villages Ovington, where lives a kind friend of mine, Arthur Hoare. There, though one would hardly have supposed that the village could * produce eleven men, the cricket would I fear put Downe to shame, possibly because it is played on a really good wicket in the park. Not only does the whole eleven turn out cap-a-pie in spotless flannels, equipped "to the last gaiter-button," but some of the play is of a high order. I watched the gardener's son, as my reporter would say, "compile a faultless century." Here moreover was no raw-boned yokel " with an arm as long as a hop pole," such as he who thrashed the great Lumpy's bowling all over the field "in the most ludicrous manner" to the malicious delight of old Nyren. He was a polished batsman with the straight est of bats and never a touch of rusticity about him.
On the other hand on the only occasion I ever played for Aberdovey—it is forty years ago now—I thought the cricket less good. This was not in the summer holidays
when there were sometimes great men among us; the famous Jimmy Douglas played once and the opposing umpire was ready to give him out at sight, but, before he had identified him, the champion was caught where no fielder ought to have been. My match was out of the holiday season and so we depended entirely on local talent. The conditions were, to be sure, difficult. After two hours of torrential rain we went straight out to play on a wicket consisting largely of slate. Our total was, I think, 38 and I will not conceal the fact that my 8, made against a poacher at one end and an organist at the other, was top score. Our total was not big enough to win but it nearly was, for Machynlleth, a town against a village, All Muggleton against poor Dingley Dell, made but little over fort}'. To-day; as far as I know, Aberdovey has an eleven no longer, but its next-door neighbour Towyn has and of Towyn cricket I desire to speak with all respect. It must be very hard to make runs there, for grass in the not very long field arrests the ball's progress without human intervention. I really mention Towyn to tell a small story of dear Mrs. Foster, the mother of all the Fosters. A year of two since her eldest son, H.K., took her to watch a match there. Scarcely had she entered the ground when her eagle eye detected something amiss. "There are," she said, "twelve men in the field."
There is an enchanted village match in Sussex which belongs to another chapter and I pass on to a little cricket in the Cotswolds. Our team, if I may so term it, represents no mere single village; no less than four of them send their picked men to its ranks and on the banner which floats over its wooden shed are blazoned the letters V.C.G.— the Valley Cricket Club. It is one of the defects of living in a valley that the sides of it are steep and hence it is difficult to get a field well adapted to cricket. There is nothing amiss with the actual pitch, which is on a narrow flat ledge. It is religiously guarded from cattle by posts and rails and the pulling up of the posts on the morning of a match
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Citation: John van Wyhe, editor. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (http://darwin-online.org.uk/)
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