Monday, September 05, 2016

"He rejoiced to see a land [Egypt] where, he said, any kind of self-government was manifestly out of the question."

I am reading Pilgrim's Way again. I have never read a book that has produced in me, every time I read it, the same feeling of "peace," inner peace. It is a "calming" work. That's the best way I can describe it. I look at it on the shelf, just looking at, and I feel a calming peace. Buchan loved life, he loved his life, and he looks back on his life ( The subtitle is "An Essay in Recollection" and it was published posthumously.) in Pilgrim's Way and the joy he took from his love comes through. Two other works produced the same feeling in me: Fenimore Cooper's The Pioneers, the biographical sections, and the short essay "Night Vigil" by Shen Zhou.

And one place. One other work and one place produced the same feeling in me as does Pilgrim's Way. In my idyllic childhood, there was an idyllic spot. We vacationed every summer for two weeks on Lake Chautauqua in New York state. There was a little, it may have been somebody's yard, spot, right off, and down below one of the little streets that we traveled frequently. I would see it all the time and said that was my "little spot;" it was enclosed by nature, a little island, secluded, recessed, sunken below the road, it had the greenest green grass you ever saw, evergreen, for, owing to its location, even if they had had a dry spell that little spot always got water and was always the greenest green you ever saw. That little spot was for me an idyll. Pilgrim's Way is an idyll.

Anyway. I am up to the point where John Buchan (Lord Tweedsmuir) is describing Raymond Asquith,
Raymond Asquith in 1907, the year of his marriage to,

whose observation on Egypt, which is spot-on in my opinion and was prescient, is above.

I saw this coming and almost skipped over it. I don't like reading about World War I. Makes me sad. Asquith was killed in the Battle of the Somme September 15, 1915, shot in the chest, deliberately lit and smoked a cigarette while waiting for the ambulance so as not to discourage the troops.

I don't know if I would have liked Raymond Asquith-Don't you also like to read about people you would have liked? Asquith reminds me powerfully of Henry Livermore Abbott-

-Ugh, I don't even like to look at the guy.-like Asquith, also a second lieutenant, also killed in battle, also encouraging his troops after his wounding, while leaning on a walking stick, from memory. I despise Abbott. Would like to bitch-slap Abbott. Knock his cap off. Like Asquith, Abbott was memorialized for all time by his great good friend Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Asquith's Holmes was John Buchan.

Like with Asquith, I would never have read about Abbott but for my admiration for Mr. Justice Holmes, but for my admiration and fondness for John Buchan, which admiration (for Holmes) has long dissipated, not for Buchan. He loved Asquith, I love Buchan, therefore I...I'll take his word for it on Asquith.

I sure would have liked Asquith's wife, hoo-doggie, the former Katharine Frances Horner. That's her in 1907 also.