Thursday, 9 May 2013

In praise of eloquence and silence

'traditional eremitical garb and a frugal diet'?
A modern hermitage in Moffat
Two recommendations for new reading:

'The Hermit in the Garden: From Imperial Rome to Ornamental Gnome' by Gordon Campbell OUP £16.99. 'As early as 1767 William Wighte's Grotesque Architecture of Rural Amusement : Consisting of Plans, Elevations, and Sections for Huts, Retreats, Summer and Winter Hermitages provided plans for seven different types of hermitage, including an 'Oriental' one 'with an inscription in  faux-Arabic script' and an 'Augustine' one 'with wings that end in pavilions to accommodate a library and bath'. ... Campbell's book ends with the suggestion that garden gnomes (first introduced from Germany in the 1840's) 'came to occupy the cultural void occasioned by the demise of the ornamental hermit' (Peter Parker, The Spectator 11 May 2013).

'Beyond the Malachite Hills: A Life of Colonial Service and Business in the New Africa' by Jonathan Lawley. I.B. Tauris 18.99 In his review, Matthew Parris quotes the following irresistible letter from the book:

To the District Officer, King,
On opening this epistle you will behold the work of a dejobbed person and a very much childenised gentleman. Who was violently dejobbed in a twinkling by your goodself. For Heaven's sake, Sir, consider this catastrophe as falling on your own head and walking home at the moon's end of five savage wives and 16 voracious children with your pocket filled with non-existent cash....When being dejobbed and proceeding with a heart and intestines filled with misery to this den of doom myself did greedily contemplate culpable homicide...'

The eloquent petitioner got his job back.

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