Monday, August 17, 2020


Thomas Howard again:
When I was very young my mother used to read to me, as she had done for all of my brothers and sisters, from the books of Beatrix Potter. Those fortunate enough to have had these books read to them will remember this enchanting set of very small books with their gray-green, matte-finish bindings, each with a small watercolor in the middle of the front cover, showing the Two Bad Mice, say; or Mr. Jeremy Fisher; or Simkin, the Tailor of Gloucester's cat, leaving deep pawprints in the snow as he trails up a narrow lane on Christmas Eve between the jutting gables of the half-timbered houses of Gloucester.

No one whose young eyes ever looked into the innocent and often sunlit depths of those watercolors can ever, it seems to me, quite forget the yearning aroused by these pictures. The little path up the hillside where Lucy found Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle's tiny house; or the warm rockery where Mrs. Tabitha Twitchit's three naughty kittens lost their frocks; or the sandy floor of the forest where we see Old Mrs. Rabbit with her shawl and basket, setting out to buy currant buns at the baker's: What, we ask ourselves, is it all about? Wherein lies the power of that spell? Why is it that the yearning awakened in us when we look at these pictures surpasses anything that we ever encounter in the real world? ....
Thomas Howard, The Night is Far Spent, 2007.

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