Wednesday, September 25, 2013


The Millennium

[St. John Lucas (1879–1934),] The Last Arcadian, and Other Papers (London: Leonard Smithers & Co., 1899), pp. 54-56:
To the country-nurtured, this steady advance of the outskirts of cities seems nothing better than matricide. Will it ever cease, or will the whole country be urbanized,—worse still, suburbanized,—in a century or two? Surely, before that happens, in life, as in literature an hundred years ago, a romantic revival shall take place. Some new Wordsworth, greater in action than he of Rydal, shall arise. A Coleridge, whose zeal on Nature's behalf shall never flag, shall move the nation to the love of simplicity and botany. Then shall their armies march on London, armed with ploughshares and—for the time of pruning-hooks is not yet—packets of seed. Clematis shall hide the shame of the National Gallery, and Virginia-creeper shall make the Nelson Column to blush in its embrace. No cottage more than one storey high shall be built in London. No loom shall be worked but by hand in Manchester. Nothing shall stand in Oxford and Cambridge save the Colleges, such Churches as may have the good fortune to pass a severe physical examination, and perhaps the shops of the tobacconists. Corn shall grow on the Aston Villa football ground at Birmingham, and the Thames shall be navigated by hollowed-out tree-trunks only. Brighton shall disappear. Hastings shall be swept away. Llandudo shall perish utterly. Anybody not putting garden-seats on railway-lines will be fined heavily for each offence. Anybody who possesses an income of £1,000 a year will be liable to a fine of £990; and this rule will, in proportion, apply to all incomes greater than my own. The coins thus accumulated will be kept as playthings for the erstwhile plutocrats, who will inhabit the lunatic asylums. The penal establishments will still be used as hotels for the incorrigibly idle; latch-keys, however, will be provided for the inmates. All shady company-promoters and directors will be allotted to their shareholders, each of whom will be provided with a specially-sharpened knife. All philologists will be boiled. Thus shall the true Millenium [sic] arrive.

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