Had my first real sword-fight with my son today, with those cardboard tubes you get inside rolls of wrapping paper. He's two. Not only that, he attacked me first. Very satisfying.
"A gape-jawed serpentine shape of pale metal crested with soot hung high for a sign."
THE AULD COMPLAYNT
I tossed my imagination a thousand ways to see if I could find any means to relieve my estate: but all my thoughts consorted to this conclusion, that the world was uncharitable, and I ordained to be miserable. Thereby I grew to consider how many base men that wanted those parts which I had, enjoyed content at will, and had wealth at command: I called to mind a Cobbler, that was worth five hundred pound, an Hostler that had built a goodly Inn and might dispend forty pounds yearly by his Land, a Carre-man in a leather pilche, that had whipped out a thousand pound out of his horse tail: and have I more wit than all these (thought I to myself) am I better born? am I better brought up? yea and better favoured? and yet am I a beggar? What is the cause? how am I crossed? or whence is this curse? Even from hence, that men that should employ such as I am, are enamoured of their own wits, and think what ever they do is excellent, though it be never so scurvy: that Learning (of the ignorant) is rated after the value of the ink and paper: and a Scrivener better paid for an obligation, than a Scholar for the best poem he can make; that every gross brained Idiot is suffered to come into print, who if he set forth a Pamphlet of the praise of Pudding-pricks, or write a Treatise of Tom Thumb, or the exploits of Vntrusse [sic]; it is bought up thick and threefold, when better things lie dead. How then can we choose but be needy, when there are so many Drones amongst us? or ever prove rich that toil a whole year for fair looks?From Pierce Penniless by Thomas Nashe. Date? 1592.
ENCOMIUMS FOR RLS
Among the authors I have always read and, willy-nilly, have taken as a model is R. L. Stevenson. This is because Stevenson himself wrote the books he would have liked to read, because he, who was so delicate an artist, imitated old adventure stories and then relived them himself. To him, writing meant translating an invisible text containing the quintessential fascination of all adventures, all mysteries, all conflicts of will and passion scattered throughout the books of hundreds of writers; it meant translating them into his own precise and almost impalpable prose, into his own rhythm which was like that of dance-steps at once impetuous and controlled. (Stevenson's admirers are a chosen few in all literatures; J. L. Borges is the most eminent of them.)...aaand breathe out. From Italo Calvino's introduction to Our Ancestors, translated by Archibald Colquhoun.
Stevenson's greatest charm, in a literary sense, is the personal relation he establishes with the reader; he shares with Montaigne, Sterne and Oliver Wendell Holmes this rarest and most endearing of qualities. Once he comes into a household, no matter how unobtrusively, he is apt to stay. He brings a genial and comforting presence; he is helpful, brave and kindly; one is the better for an hour passed in his smiling company, and he takes on, in a very actual way, the aspect of a friend. It is noteworthy that his collected editions sell mostly to people of very modest means - which is to say, to struggling people; hard-working, ill-paid people; people richer in cultivation and refinement than in money; who turn to him in fellow-feeling for solace and fortitude. And to these I should like to say that the real man, the real Stevenson, was no other than as they regard him [...]From Lloyd Osbourne's introduction to New Arabian Nights, vol. 1 of the Tusitala edition.
[He] had keenly enjoyed the Colonel's amazement and disgust. He had the vanity of wickedness; and it pleased him to see another man give way to a generous movement, while he felt himself in his entire corruption, superior to such emotions.From The Suicide Club: Story of the Young Man with the Cream Tarts, by RLS.
FIGHT FOR YOUR MIND
'the abolition of distance' and 'the disappearance of frontiers'. [...]He goes on to note a decline in immigration, and state interference in non-national radio, as well as bars and censorship of foreign post, newspapers and books by the totalitarian countries, which of course were numerous in the 1940s.
Take simply the instance of travel. In the nineteenth century some parts of the world were unexplored, but there was almost no restriction on travel. Up to 1914 you did not need a passport for any country except Russia. The European emigrant, if he could scrape together a few pounds for the passage, simply set sail for America or Australia, and when he got there no questions were asked. In the eighteenth century it had been quite normal and safe to travel in a country with which your own country was at war.
NEW FEARS FOR OLD