Friday, July 10, 2009
"And the dreadful ghost of a wind moaning over the precipice with an evil invitation at the back of it, moaning up out of space, through distant spiky gullies where the sun is shining, moaning with a suggestion of inhuman mirth, causes me to face the ravine as if something might come out if it which would have to be fought."
"I sit down and hold out my frozen hands in the sun, and, suddenly catching sight of those shoes which have in their time known Piccadilly and Bond Street, I roar with laughter! "
H.V. Morton writes travel books. In the 1920's and I am hooked. So far I've found and finished - In Search of England, and now I am almost through - In Search of Scotland.
The two sentences above come from his description of climbing Ben Nevis.
I am now trolling sites looking for more. My library only has these two. The first is a current reprint but the Scotland book is the eighteenth edition from 1933, with a faded inscription, To Frank. With best wishes for Xmas 1933 from the Fletchers, and those wonderful old photos that have more character than ones in modern colour. The only thing missing is the map showing his route that must have gone missing when the book was rebound for library use.
I'd steal this book if I wasn't afraid my library card would be revoked and I'd be banished, never allowed to return.
I have been having great fun with words and terms long out of use, checking to see if churches/monuments he hopes will be repaired are now part of the British Heritage system and wishing that tourists hadn't found and crowded all those places, opening only for me and my friends.
His description of the National War Shrine in Edinburgh was so vivid and moving I had to read it several times keeping in mind how soon after the war this book was written, (1929) and how time had yet dulled the edges of the horror.
"The Shrine is a lament in stone, the greatest of all Scotland's laments, with all the sweetness of pipes crying among hills, with all the haunting beauty of a lament, all the pride, all the grandeur."
I'm captivated and not just by that profile and natty hat.