Religion is what the individual does with his own solitariness
It is a fine thing to begin a footpath
E V. Lucas
It is a plea of the faint-hearted that success depends mainly on luck
Sir Frederick Treves
One of these days is none of these days.
There are things to be thought about as well as things to be laughed at.
G K. Chesterton (pic above)
Much of the unhappiness of Life has its origin in the unjustifiable belief that Life is easier for others than for oneself.
Sir Herbert Barker.
The man who tries to avoid his duty always finds the detour much rougher that the road.
Be governed by your admirations rather than by your disgusts.
Henry Van Dyke. Continue reading
With commentaries by Dorothy Saunders.
Anthologies are not rare publications; they have appeared regularly for two hundred years or more. However an anthology of prose and poetry accompanied by commentaries on the material anthologised is pretty unusual in English. The well read Dorothy Saunders first brought out The Moon is Up, an anthology on the subject of old age, as a private publication for her friends and family in 1954. A year later a commercial publisher, Phoenix House, were impressed enough to take it on themselves, and a copy of this book is what we found among the piles of volumes at Jot HQ the other day.
One supposes that the publisher saw in this book something unusual—commentaries that outnumbered in words the actual passages anthologised—and these commentaries, though not particularly intellectually demanding, possess a certain appeal in their commonsensical and occasionally perceptive flavour. Saunders was obviously a philosophical and reflective person—the sort of woman you might turn to for comfort at a moment of personal crisis—a serious illness or injury, perhaps—but her reflections generally lack the wow factor. For instance, responding to passages from Walter de la Mare, Wilfred Scawen Blunt and Gerald Bullett she has this to say:
‘ When we were in love we walked on air, exalted, and that is why we sometimes long to be in love again. With no specific object in mind we desire to live once more in that exquisitely heightened climate of the senses. Young men in battle, I have been told, have known this sharpened view of life…Mere existence gains depth and colour when its tenure is precarious…’
Hardly revelatory! Saunders also seems to be very conventional in her views of work/play.
‘ A man who can truthfully say : My work is my hobby, in an exceedingly lucky fellow , for most people have little choice of the way they earn their daily bread in this machine age, and only a minority have interesting and congenial jobs ‘. Continue reading
Even today, thirty six years after his death, John Betjeman can still surprise us with his wisdom and original mind. In 1947, less than two years after the end of a war that brought the prospect of a radiation death to the innocent citizens of Great Britain, destroyed some of finest Georgian terraces in London and Bath, that peppered landmark buildings, including St Paul’s Cathedral and the Dulwich Art Gallery with shrapnel, and pock-marked the pastoral landscapes of Surrey, Middlesex and Essex, the editors at Methuen asked the rising poet of the suburbs to provide an Introduction to their new anthology by someone called J. D. Mortimer ( who he?) on the Home Counties.
Betjeman duly obliged and what he wrote is redolent of his unique perspective on southern England. A writer of an earlier generation—a Walter-de-la Mare, a Blunden, a S. P. B.Mais say—would have come up with the usual nostalgic picture of the Home Counties as places of elm-shaded inns, haystacks, cricket on the green and dusty lanes, and left it at that, but Betjeman while regretting that much of Middlesex and parts of Surrey were now unrecognisable from their nineteenth and early twentieth century appearance, thanks to the depredations of the car, , and the presence in the sky of the aeroplane, suggests that the melancholy induced by such realisations could be assuaged by an anthology that celebrates the appeal of the suburbs
The Home Counties of the L.P.T.B. and the Southern Electric and Green Line buses, of Ritz cinemas and multiple stores and trim building estates must have this literature. There has been little poetry of the suburbs, possibly because they are so raw and new. But since the suburbs are there for as long as atomic energy will allow them, and since there are still poets , they will be eventually turned into poetry so that we can enjoy urban Gidea Park as once Hood enjoyed countrified Epping. Already much prose has appeared which has glorified the suburbs into something beautiful—Gissing, Machen, W.B.Maxwell were pioneers of suburban descriptive prose. Suburban social life at the end of the last century has been immortalised by George and Weedon Grossmith in the Diary of a Nobody.
After over fifty years of varied reading the Liberal party leader Viscount Samuel (1870 -1963) collected around a thousand quotations for his own use. In 1947 the Cresset Press decided to publish about half of these arranged under several heads. We at Jot HQ were sufficiently impressed by the noble lord’s wide reading and discernment to select what we feel were some of the most perceptive of these pieces of wisdom.
It seems to me that we all look at nature too much, and live with her too little.
The question of common-sense is always “ What is it good for?”—-a question which would abolish the rose and be answered triumphantly by the cabbage.
Keats is an example of literature untouched by science
It is just when ideas are lacking that a phrase is most welcome
Of what use is freedom of thought if it will not produce freedom of action?
Absence of occupation is not rest.
Great learning and great shallowness go together very well under one hat.
The depths of the fathomless loyalty that is in the heart of the dog.
Crime is the anti-social form of the struggle for existence
No, Sir; we had talk enough, but no conversation; there was nothing
Dr SAMUEL JOHNSON Continue reading