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Monday, 16 September 2013

Self analysis

Monday, September 16th., Les Sablons.

We went out in the morning with a bottle of wine and a pasty, etc., attached to our bicycles and lunched ten miles off in the woods of Champagne, on the roadside, near to a large-ish property, preserved for game but arranged with alack of taste and of dignity impossible in England. A ridiculous ornamental water, of irregular shape, in front of the house. This water passed by a tunnel under the road and terminated in a pool of disgusting filth. In the centre of the water was an island rockery, and on this rockery a large vase, about 3 feet high, gilded all over, with a plant on top of it bearing pink flowers. The effect was lacerating.

Lunching modestly thus by the roadside, shut in by these two estates of wealthy people, it was impossible to crush altogether the snobbish feeling that one ought to despise oneself for the crime of being simple and unwealthy. I certainly have a liking for domestic display and largeness for their own sake.

I have almost decided to take this house from the Leberts, and there is no doubt that it is quite adequate to our needs. Yet because it makes no display, because it is obviously not the conventional residence of a man of means and manners I think I am making a mistake. Nevertheless I realise most clearly that the problem of domestic menial service must become more and more acute, and that the utmost diminution of such service is not only right but expedient.

I have got Conrad's "Secret Agent", and Smollett's "Travels in France and Italy". The latter is very good and very like Fielding's "Lisbon".

I could not sleep well last night, nor the night before; and not all Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius could ensure cheerfulness and perfect equanimity. However I worked as much as usual, and now after tea, as I write this in the garden, with my feet chilled and the first breath of Autumn blowing on me, I am recovering command of the forces.

Additionally for September 16th., see 'Other people's business' - http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/other-peoples-business.html

Constance Duchess of Westminster's furniture being sold up today at Cadogan Square. I went to look at it yesterday morning. There is no reason why the furniture of a Duchess should not be showy, or ugly, or dull, yet it shocks one to find it so. I was surprised at the smallness of the house, too. A policeman in the hall.

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