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Pebbles on the shore [by] Alpha of the plough   By: (1865-1946)

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First Page:

PEBBLES ON THE SHORE

Alpha of the Plough

... collecting toys And trifles for choice matters, worth a sponge; As children gathering pebbles on the shore

TO ALL WHO LOVE THE COTTAGE IN THE BEECHWOODS

1916

PREFACE

These papers were begun as a part of a causerie in The Star , the other contributors to which men whose names are household words in contemporary literature wrote under the pen names of "Aldebaran," "Arcturus" and "Sirius." But the constellation, formed in the early days of the war, did not long survive the agitations of that event, and when "Arcturus" left for the battlefield it was finally dissolved and "Alpha of the Plough" alone remained to continue the causerie. This selection from his papers is a sort of informal diary of moods in a time of peril. They are pebbles gathered on the shore of a wild sea.

CONTENTS

ON CHOOSING A NAME ON LETTER WRITING ON READING IN BED ON CATS AND DOGS "W.G." ON SEEING VISIONS ON BLACK SHEEP THE VILLAGE AND THE WAR ON RUMOUR ON UMBRELLA MORALS ON TALKING TO ONE'S SELF ON BOSWELL AND HIS MIRACLE ON SEEING OURSELVES ON THE ENGLISH SPIRIT ON FALLING IN LOVE ON A BIT OF SEAWEED ON LIVING AGAIN TU WHIT, TU WHOO! ON POINTS OF VIEW ON BEER AND PORCELAIN ON A CASE OF CONSCIENCE ON THE GUINEA STAMP ON THE DISLIKE OF LAWYERS ON THE CHEERFULNESS OF THE BLIND ON TAXING VANITY ON THOUGHTS AT FIFTY THE ONE EYED CAT ON THE PHILOSOPHY OF HATS ON SEEING LONDON ON CATCHING THE TRAIN IN PRAISE OF CHESS ON THE DOWNS ON SHORT LEGS AND LONG LEGS ON A PAINTED FACE ON WRITING AN ARTICLE ON A CITY THAT WAS ON PLEASANT SOUNDS ON SLACKENING THE BOW ON THE INTELLIGENT GOLF BALL ON A PRISONER OF WAR ON THE WORLD WE LIVE IN "I'M TELLING YOU" ON COURAGE ON SPENDTHRIFTS ON A TOP HAT ON LOSING ONE'S MEMORY ON WEARING A FUR LINED COAT IN PRAISE OF WALKING ON REWARDS AND RICHES ON TASTE ON A HAWTHORN HEDGE

PEBBLES ON THE SHORE

ON CHOOSING A NAME

"As for your name, I offer you the whole firmament to choose from." In that prodigal spirit the editor of the Star invites me to join the constellation that he has summoned from the vasty deeps of Fleet Street. I am, he says, to shine punctually every Wednesday evening, wet or fine, on winter nights and summer eves, at home or abroad, until such time as he cries: "Hold, enough!" and applies the extinguisher that comes to all.

The invitation reaches me in a tiny village on a spur of a range of beech clad hills, whither I have fled for a breathing space from the nightmare of the war and the menacing gloom of the London streets at night. Here the darkness has no terrors. In the wide arch of the sky our lamps are lit nightly as the sun sinks down far over the great plain that stretches at our feet. None of the palpitations of Fleet Street disturb us, and the rumours of the war come to us like far off echoes from another world. The only sensation of our day is when, just after darkness has fallen, the sound of a whistle in the tiny street of thatched cottages announces that the postman has called to collect letters.

In this solitude, where one is thrown entirely upon one's own resources, one discovers how dependent one is upon men and books for inspiration. It is hard even to find a name. Not that finding a name is easy in any circumstances. Every one who lives by his pen knows the difficulty of the task. I would rather write an article than find a title for it. The thousand words come easily (sometimes); but the five words summary of the thousand, that is to flame at the top like a beacon light, is a gem that has to be sought in travail, almost in tears. I have written books, but I have never found a title for one that I have written. That has always come to me from a friend.

Even the men of genius suffer from this impoverishment. When Goldsmith had written the finest English comedy since Shakespeare he did not know what to call it, and had to leave Johnson to write the label. I like to think that Shakespeare himself suffered from this sterility that he, too, sat biting the feather of his quill in that condition of despair that is so familiar to smaller men... Continue reading book >>




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