Fortunately, perhaps, for the condition of the back-garden, I early transferred my dreams to some rude resemblance to writing; chiefly in the form of drawing straggling and sprawling maps of fabulous countries, inhabited by men of incredible shapes and colours and bearing still more incredible names. And that was typical of many middle-class men, even in small businesses, in that remote world. I know well I was very fortunate in my own family.
It was probably connected with their sensitive pride about not aping the aristocracy. Through various influences of a recent and rather romantic culture, the Child has become rather the Spoilt Child. It was typical of him that, in the Pugin period he had worked at Gothic illumination; but when he tried again, it was in another style of the dark Dutch renaissance, the grotesque scroll-work that suggests woodcarving more than stone-cutting.
All the rest is gone; scenes, subject, story, characters; but that one scene glows in my memory like a glimpse of some incredible paradise; and, for all I know, I shall still remember it when all other memory is gone out of my mind. My friend and I were sitting side by side, hopeless of any enlivenment except from the speaker's solemnity; when the whole assembly was startled as by a thunderclap. He must have possessed considerable persuasive powers; because we actually did. I am sure your principals and employers will be delighted to hear from me that I'm paying you a small-- He would then be interrupted with a sort of shriek of fear and the kind diplomatic gentleman would cover his tracks as best he could in terror. The modern philosopher knows that it would require a very large bribe indeed to induce him to be good.
It attached rather too much importance to spelling correctly; it attached enormous importance to speaking correctly. Ever since that day my depths have been stirred by a wooden post painted white; and even more so by any white horse in the street; and it was like meeting a friend in a fairytale to find myself under the sign of the White Horse at Ipswich on the first day of my honeymoon. He has changed long before he comes near to the great and glorious trouble of the love of woman; and that has in it something new and concentrated and crucial; crucial in the true sense of being as near as Cana to Calvary. But on the other side my mother came of Scottish people, who were Keiths from Aberdeen; and for several reasons, partly because my maternal grandmother long survived her husband and was a very attractive personality, and partly because of a certain vividness in any infusion of Scots blood or patriotism, this northern affiliation appealed strongly to my affections; and made a sort of Scottish romance in my childhood. And when we say we've always won And when they ask us how it's done We proudly point to every one Of England's soldiers of the Queen. And I am compelled to confess that I look back to that landscape of my first days with a pleasure that should doubtless be reserved for the Utopias of the Futurist.
So far the disputes of that period passed over my head like storms high up in air; and as I did not foresee the problem I naturally did not foresee any of my searches for a solution. It would not seem like that to the child, if the Fairy Queen said to the Prince, You will receive the golden apple from the magic tree when you have fought the dragon. When I say this, I come to the third reason for taking the toy theatre as a text; and it is one about which there will be much misunderstanding, because of the repetitions and the stale sentiment that have somehow come to cling to it.
He acts it, because he cannot as yet write it or even read it; but he never allows his moral sanity to be clouded by it. I had seen crowds before; and was quite prepared for their shouting or shoving. I not only knew that the figures were made of wood, but I wanted them to be made of wood.
Above all, there possessed him, almost feverishly, a vast, amazing and devastating idea, the idea of doing something; of doing something in the manner of grown-up people, who were the only people who could be conceived as doing things. At intervals the more sombre clerk would call out across the office, Mr. But the child knows nothing about cunning or perversion. Undoubtedly your explanation is, in that sense, the true one.
26 Employee Reviews
I regret that there was nothing in the range of our family much more racy than a remote and mildly impecunious uncle; and that I cannot do my duty as a true modern, by cursing everybody who made me whatever I am. But indeed I had a whole background of cousins; Tom Gilbert my godfather, who gave me his last and my first name had a large family of daughters, and my uncle Sidney a large family of sons; and they all still move in my memory almost like a male and female chorus in a great Greek play. It may have been orderly compared with what came after; but not compared with the centuries that came before. He incurred the odium Of discovering sodium.
My grandfather still assumed airily that this might be a poetical manner of describing a successful house-agency. What I said first about the toy theatre may be urged in contradiction, and as an example of delight in a mere illusion. My uncle, much more than my father, was this scrupulously sanguine sort of man; and the last man in the world to hold any brief for the good old times. At least I know enough Greek to be able to see the joke, when somebody says as somebody did the other day that the study of that language is not suited to an age of democracy. I cannot imagine why anybody ever said that the Englishman's house was his castle; since he was one of the few Europeans who did not even own his house; and his house was avowedly a dull box of brick, of all the houses the least like a castle. Above all, so far from being stiff with orthodox religion, it was almost the first irreligious home in all human history.
The point is, however, that my grandfather was pleased, and not really very much amazed, to be called a monument and a landmark. At least they were unknown to the Greeks who wrote the prose and poetry that was thought worth studying; and were invented by grammarians, I believe, at the time of the Renaissance. I saw the distinction perfectly clearly when I was a child; I wish I saw it half as clearly now. And this care about education and diction, though I can see much to criticise in it now, did really have its good side. In any case, watching such work has made one great difference to my life and views to this day.
I dare not think how it ended. Anyhow, there has been a change from a middle-class that trusted a business man to look after money because he was dull and careful, to one that trusts a business man to get more money because he is dashing and worldly. When the restrictions really were stuffy and stupid, they were largely those of ignorance; but this was nothing like so evil and ruinous as the ignorance of the real wrongs and rights of the working classes. My grandfather, slightly flattered, murmured politely that they had certainly been in Kensington for some little time.
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All the things that happened in the house, or were in any sense done on the premises, linger in my imagination like a legend; and as much as any, those connected with the kitchen or the pantry. It was illustrated in another hearsay anecdote, which I may here add to the anecdote of the Protestant Champion. For the same reason I do not think that I myself was ever very much worried about Santa Claus, or that alleged dreadful whisper of the little boy that Father Christmas is only your father. But they had, for instance, a fixed feeling that there was something rather raffish about taking a cab.