Polling day arrived. Once more that afternoon the express had been
stopped at Hakluyt Station, for a large party including an elderly
Royal Princess was assembling for three days' shooting, and dinner,
not less stately than before, was almost over when Henry came in with
the news of the result of the election: the Labour candidate had got
in with a substantial majority.
`Ah! I think I must read you some of Osborne's poetry some day; under
seal of secrecy, remember; but I really fancy they are almost as good
as Mrs Hemans'.'
To be nearly as good as Mrs Hemans' was saying as much to the young
ladies of that day, as saying that poetry is nearly as good as
Tennyson's would be in this. Molly looked up with eager interest.
`Mr Osborne Hamley? Does your son write poetry?'
`Yes. I really think I may say he is a poet. He is
a very brilliant, clever young man, and quite hopes to get a
fellowship at Trinity. He says he is sure to be high up among the
wranglers and that he expects to get one of the Chancellor's
medals. That is his likeness - the one hanging against the wall behind
Baldachine von Smaragd,
Kinder ihr aus fernen Zonen,
Saget mir, warum ihr klagt?
[High-piled crowns of leaves, emerald baldaquins: you children from
far lands, tell me, why are you weeping?]
Imperial Bankquet Hall
on Thursday at 12:30 prompt
WILL DELIVER A
THE GREAT SECRET, OR
HOW TO LIVE WITHOUT WORK
The Rev. Joe Philpot PLO
(Late absconding secretary of the light refreshment fund)
Will take the chair and anything else
he can lay his hands on.
At The End Of The Lecture
A MEETING WILL BE ARRANGED
And carried out according to the
Marquis of Queensbury's Rules.
A Collection will be took up
in aid of the cost of printing
I like to think that some time between 1992 and 1997 somebody will
have looked up this memoir, and will have forced on the world his
inevitable and startling conclusions. And I have reasons for believing
that this will be so. You realise that the reading-room into which
Soames was projected by the Devil was in all respects precisely as it
will be on the afternoon of June 3rd, 1997. You realise, therefore,
that on that afternoon, when it comes round, there the self-same crowd
will be, and there Soames too will be, punctually, he and they doing
precisely what they did before.
Libri proibiti non ce n'erano. Ma c'era, per esempio, una comune
edizione degli Essais de Montaigne. -Questo è francese,
non è vero?- esclamò il podestà, strizzando
l'occhio, come a dire che non cercassi d'ingannarlo. -Ma è un
francese antico, don Luigi!- Già, Montaigne, uno di quelli
della Rivoluzione francese-. Faticai a convincerlo che non si poteva
considerarlo un autore pericoloso: il maestro sapeva il fatto suo e
sorrideva compiaciuto, perchè intendessi che se mi lasciava il
libro, che avrebbe dovuto sequestrarmi, era per un atto di particolare
benevolenza e di solidarietà tra uomini di cultura.
[There weren't any banned books. But there was, for instance, an
ordinary edition of the Essais of Montaigne. ``This is in
French, isn't it?'' announced the magistrate, squinting at me to make
sure I wasn't trying to fool him. ``But old French, Mr Luigi!'' ``Yes,
I know, Montaigne, one of those people at the French Revolution.'' I
laboured to convince him that he couldn't be considered a dangerous
author, but the magistrate knew his ground and smiled smugly, letting
me know that if he allowed me to keep this book, which he ought to
have confiscated, it was as a special privilege granted by one man
of culture to another.]
The undergraduates of Oxford used Paddington, and so did Public
Schools at Eton, Radley, Marlborough, Shrewsbury, Malvern and the now
extinct Weymouth College; hunting people got out at Badminton; carpet
manufacturers at Kidderminster; coal owners at Cardiff; jewellers at
Birmingham; valetudinarians at Torquay, Leamington, Cheltenham,
Tenbury Wells and Tenby; sailors at Plymouth, Devonport and Falmouth;
organists used it for the Three Choirs Festival at Worcester, Hereford
or Gloucester. The Welsh who seem so often to be in trains, use it all
- Passé. Fini. Ici le ciel est clair. La météo
l'avait prédit. ``Ciel un quart couvert de cirrus.'' La
météo? Les isobares? Les ``Systèmes nuageux'' du
professeur Borjsen? Un ciel de fête populaire: oui. Un ciel de
14 Juillet. Il fallait dire: ``A Malaga c'est jour de fête!''
Chaque habitant possède dix mille mètres de ciel pur sur
lui. Un ciel qui va jusqu'aux cirrus.
[Past. Done. Here the sky is clear. The met office had predicted
that. ``One-fourth cloud cover, cirrus''. The met office? Isobars? The
``Cloudy systems'' of Professor Borjsen. A Bank Holiday sky, that's more
like it; a 14th of July sky. They should have said ``At Malaga, it's a
holiday.'' Every inhabitant has ten thousand metres of clean sky above
him, going all the way to the cirrus.]
Eve finds the Chief, like restless ghost,
Still hovering near his treasure lost;
For though his haughty heart deny
A parting meeting to his eye,
Still fondly strains his anxious ear,
The accents of her voice to hear,
And inly did he curse the breeze
That waked to sound the rustling trees.
But hark! what mingles in the strain?
It is the harp of Allan-bane,
That wakes its measures slow and high,
Attuned to sacred minstrelsy.
What melting voice attends the strings!
I sigh, fair injured stranger! for thy fate,
But what shall sighs avail thee? Thy poor heart,
'Mid all the `pomp and circumstance' of state,
Shivers in nakedness. Unbidden, start
Sad recollections of Hope's garish dream,
That shaped a seraph form, and named it Love,
Its hues gay-varying, as the orient beam
Varies the neck of Cytherea's dove.
And there was Takeshi in the back of a strange oversize American
car, locked in, being borne through the streets of Shinjuku southward,
crossing the Expressway, into Roppongi, expecting street mines, storms
of automatic-weapon fire, convinced he had stumbled into the middle of
some Japanese gang-war drama with a couple of gaijin bit
players in it.