English Hours: Complete (Paperback)

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There is a certain evening that I count as virtually a first impression, -the end of a wet, blackSunday, twenty years ago, about the first of March. There had been an earlier vision, but it hadturned to grey, like faded ink, and the occasion I speak of was a fresh beginning. No doubt I hadmystic prescience of how fond of the murky modern Babylon I was one day to become; certain it isthat as I look back I find every small circumstance of those hours of approach and arrival still asvivid as if the solemnity of an opening era had breathed upon it. The sense of approach was alreadyalmost intolerably strong at Liverpool, where, as I remember, the perception of the Englishcharacter of everything was as acute as a surprise, though it could only be a surprise without a shock.It was expectation exquisitely gratified, superabundantly confirmed. There was a kind of wonderindeed that England should be as English as, for my entertainment, she took the trouble to be; butthe wonder would have been greater, and all the pleasure absent, if the sensation had not beenviolent. It seems to sit there again like a visiting presence, as it sat opposite to me at breakfast at asmall table in a window of the old coffee-room of the Adelphi Hotel-the unextended (as it thenwas), the unimproved, the unblushingly local Adelphi. Liverpool is not a romantic city, but thatsmoky Saturday returns to me as a supreme success, measured by its association with the kind ofemotion in the hope of which, for the most part, we betake ourselves to far countries.It assumed this character at an early hour-or rather, indeed, twenty-four hours before-withthe sight, as one looked across the wintry ocean, of the strange, dark, lonely freshness of the coast ofIreland. Better still, before we could come up to the city, were the black steamers knocking about inthe yellow Mersey, under a sky so low that they seemed to touch it with their funnels, and in thethickest, windiest light. Spring was already in the air, in the town; there was no rain, but there wasstill less sun-one wondered what had become, on this side of the world, of the big white splotch inthe heavens; and the grey mildness, shading away into black at every pretext, appeared in itself apromise. This was how it hung about me, between the window and the fire, in the coffee-room ofthe hotel-late in the morning for breakfast, as we had been long disembarking. The otherpassengers had dispersed, knowingly catching trains for London (we had only been a handful); I hadthe place to myself, and I felt as if I had an exclusive property in the impression. I prolonged it, Isacrificed to it, and it is perfectly recoverable now, with the very taste of the national muffin, thecreak of the waiter's shoes as he came and went (could anything be so English as his intenselyprofessional back? it revealed a country of tradition), and the rustle of the newspaper I was tooexcited to read.


Product Details
ISBN: 9798707367465
Publisher: Independently Published
Publication Date: February 14th, 2021
Pages: 178
Language: English