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Curious, Rather. - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
wemyss
wemyss
Curious, Rather.
I am running the risk of this journal's turning into the sort of chronicle I wished sedulously to avoid; however, there may be a certain anthropological interest in this reflection.

I tend to measure life by, and be measured by, my books, or by literature generally.

I am sure I am not alone in saying that my immediate reaction on 7th July was to turn to Churchill's rhetoric and to the St Crispin's Day, 'Band of Brothers' speech from Henry 5th.

I find that as time goes on, though, what seems to speak to my mood just now is Barbara Pym, and 'Miss Read', and Mrs Miniver, and that minor classic of continuity in the midst of change for the worser, At Bertram's Hotel.

Of course London was attacked by those who are 'tired of life'. Of course London is 'that flower of cities all'. And yet one doesn't need to see it as Cobbett did, as a great wen, or even refer to it as 'The Smoke', to feel that its virtues are not cosmopolitan, but rather derive from the virtues of village and countryside, those being simply - in London - writ large, and perhaps thereby attenuated, save in the moment of crisis. God bless and save and protect London, certainly; yet God defend all Britain, particularly in her household and hearthside virtues, her homely virtues, her little lares et penates that are seen still more starkly in village green and local churchyard than they are represented in a sometimes too-metropolitan capital.

What it comes to, I think, is this: That English people do not love London, nay, Londoners do not love London, for its port and pomp, its sprawl or sway, its sometimes meretricious dazzle. Rather, London is loved because it is an aggregation of English villages and hamlets, Clapham and Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Kensington, Notting Hill, Hounslow and Shepherd's Bush, Hampstead, Camden Town, Kentish Town, Gospel Oak. A collection of neighbourhoods, of shared experiences and shared local jests and favourite locals with favourite ales and a favourite barmaid. These are Burke's 'little platoons' that together form the army of society; these are the sources of a Chestertonian local patriotism.

Those who believe they can break that ... well, whom they would destroy, the gods first make mad.

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