Monday, August 27, 2012


The Death of Old Backshell

John Halsham (pseudonym of George Forrester Scott, 1864-1937), Idlehurst: A Journal Kept in the Country, 2nd ed. (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1908), pp. 13-14:
Yesterday, the Rector tells me, he was out at Jolland's Corner, with Obed Backshell when he died; another of the old race, a survivor of a world as far from ours as the Renaissance, the world before the railways, with wide margins and easy paces, wherein the labourers, to judge from such relics as Backshell and Tomsett, were more courteous than half the new gentry now upon the land, and, in one direction at least, much better instructed; a world the Rector and I conspire to regret. Old Backshell died with that fine apathy common to his race. As year by year the knell rings for such and such an acquaintance, the old men will moralise, "Us must go when we be called;" and when at last they know that to-night or to-morrow the clerk will slowly climb the crooked stairs, and pull the old rope for their own knell, they take it with a wonderful sense of proportion, with a sense of their place in the natural course of the world, which eighty years' steadfast labour on the land, under the changeless change of the seasons, seems to impress on the mind as no other experience can. Old Backshell departs, clear-minded almost to the last, neither glad nor sorry, to all appearance fearless even, unconcerned for the Beyond; no protestations of salvation, no solicitude for those he leaves; merely the quiet acceptance of a common fact, a homely, even grotesque understanding of the matter, which shuts out any touch of awe.
Related post: My Bed of Death.

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?