Saturday, 17 January 2015

All the material for rejoicing


Des glaneuses by Jean-François Millet 

Near by him, I felt sure, would be lying a large and late vegetable marrow, and its largeness and lateness would be a theme of conversation at luncheon. It would be suggested that it should grace the harvest thanksgiving service; the harvest having been so generally unsatisfactory, it would be unfair to let the farmers supply all the material for rejoicing.
H.H. Munro (Saki) - Judkin Of The Parcels (1910)

We lost a delightfully irreverent mind when H H Munro was shot by a German sniper during the Battle of the Ancre in 1916. He says so much in so few words. 

The harvest thanksgiving must go on whatever the state of the real harvest, out there in the fields where so few members of the congregation ever set foot.

As delicious as a glass of old port.


Anonymous said...

Made me think of the old tithes paid by farmers and others to the Church. A long and interesting history with much resentment building up in the 19th and early 20thC. Didn't end till 1936 and invoked 'Queen Anne's Bounty' to pay off the Church finally by 1996. A whiff of wood preservative and old stone.

Demetrius said...

Maternal grannie had a litho' of this picture above the range, an aunt had been a governess in France. Saki was with the 22 Royal Fusiliers in 99 Brigade, part of the 2nd Infantry Division, symbol the Cross Keys of York. There were some choice other battalions then in this division as a whole, notably several King's Liverpool and also Cameronians. Paternal granddad had been close during the Somme but was in a convalescent hospital during the Ancre. There was a directness of wit in this generation now long lost.

Anonymous said...

Afterthought, a subtle pleasure foisting a woody old marrow onto the vicar.

A K Haart said...

Roger - when we bought our house we paid a small insurance premium to cover a slight possibility that the local church could land us with repair costs.

The insurance was probably a minor con, but it brought home to us how long the tithe game lasted.

Demetrius - yes there was a genial directness of wit we've lost. Today, if it exists at all, it tends to be more bitter.

James Higham said...

You've touched on a favourite of many - Saki. Love those literary days.

A K Haart said...

James - I love them too. Hard times but they had something we threw away.