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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Admirable breeding

Wednesday, February 18th., Comarques, Thorpe-le-Soken.

I returned home this afternoon having spent a few days in Hampshire, which was extremely wet. Everywhere rivers had burst their banks, fields had become lakes, and some roads had become streams. All the result of weeks of storms and heavy rain in the south of England. Many people it seems are in despair following the inundation of their home. Crossing a bridge, I saw a sign below saying:  "Private Property - do not cross this fence". As a fact, no fence was visible. The sign protruded forlornly from a sheet of water and the property owner presumably was in occupation of the upper floors of his water-lapped house.

I bought "Autobiography of Mark Rutherford" and "Mark Rutherford's Deliverance" in 7d. editions at the station. Started reading the latter which is very impressive and original. Fine style, no scheme of construction. As a continuous narrative extraordinarily amateurish. The man had no notion of fiction. Full of wisdom and high things. For example:
"As I got older I became aware of the folly of this perpetual reaching after the future, and of drawing from to-morrow, and from to-morrow only, a reason for the joyfulness of to-day. I learned, when, alas! it was almost too late, to live in each moment as it passed over my head, believing that the sun as it is now rising is as good as it will ever be, and blinding myself as much as possible to what may follow. But when I was young I was the victim of that illusion, implanted for some purpose or other in us by Nature, which causes us, on the brightest morning in June, to think immediately of a brighter morning which is to come in July." (From "Autobiography of Mark Rutherford")

‘Mark Rutherford‘ was the pseudonym of William Hale White (1831-1913). Rutherford is generally classed as a minor Victorian novelist, and noted for his depiction of provincial dissenting life, and of the ’loss of faith’ of the Victorian period. There is much more to Hale White than this. Despite working for over thirty years as a civil servant, he wrote over a thousand newspaper articles, translated works by Spinoza, and wrote various works of literary criticism. He has never had a wide following, but writers such as Andre Gide, D.H. Lawrence, and Arnold Bennett have all praised his work.
http://www.concentric.net/~djfrench/

Middle-aged couple in our compartment. Well and quietly dressed. Upper class. Restrained. Extremely good natural and trained manners. The woman (35) especially was charming in her admirable breeding. Evidently wealthy. They talked in such a low tone that, although the articulation was perfectly clear, one did not hear unless one listened. After about an hour the woman, reading Daily Mail, said: "What is a tympani solo?" The man made a gesture of non-comprehension. She passed him the paper. He read the passage and made a scarcely perceptible sign of ignorance. "Don't you know?" she asked quietly. He repeated the sign - would not speak (as they were not alone). Her glance seemed to say to him: "Pardon me asking you such an outlandish impossible thing." She took back the Daily Mail.

Additionally for February 18th., see 'Tales of adventure'

At Harold Snagge's yesterday and day before. Basil Lubbock (author of "Round the Horn before the Mast") told various of his adventures in two wars and in Klondyke and as a seaman.

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