Tuesday, 18 March 2008

I ~ is for Isabel

"I attempt from Love's sickness to fly" ~  towards the end of Olga Bracely's dinner party at her newly  acquired residence in Riseholme, "Old Place" at which she had cannily shepherded her neighbours Jane Weston and Jacob Boucher towards matrimony, Olga said she would sing, unless anybody minded, and called upon Georgie to accompany her. She stood just behind him, leaning over him sometimes with her hand on his shoulder, and sang those ruthless simple English songs appropriate to the matter in hand. She sang "I attempt from loves sickenss to fly," Sally in our Alley and "Come live with me."  
"I attempt  from love's sickness to fly" is a song by English organist and Baroque composer Henry Purcell (1659 - 1695) based on a text by John Dryden and included in his final theatre piece, the "semi opera", "The Indian Queen", premiered in 1695.  It begins
"I attempt from Love's sickness to fly in vain,
Since I am my self my own fever and pain.
No more now, fond heart, with pride no more to swell,
Thou  canst not raise forces enough to rebel."
See "Sally in our Alley" and "Come live with me"    
Ideal System of Callisthenics for Those No Longer Young ~ an instructional manual advocating various exercises much favoured by Lucia. In Tilling, Lucia gave a copy to Diva Plaistow inscribed "Diva from Lucia (Ten minutes at the exercises in Chapter 1, twice a day for the present)" and held instructional classes for male and female members of the Tilling elite, not including Miss Mapp. Lucia conducted her classes in a tunic rather like Artemis, but with a supplementary skirt and scarlet stockings and played soothing music to her pupils as they rested in her drawing room afterwards.

"Importance of Being Earnest, The"  ~  "Daisy Quantock was short- sighted, though she steadily refused to recognise that, and would never wear spectacles. In  fact Lucia had made an unkind little epigram about it at a time when there was a slight coolness between the two, and had said  'Dear Daisy is too short sighted to see how short sighted she is.' Of couse it was unkind, but very brilliant, and Georgie had read through 'The Importance of Being Earnest' which Lucia had gone up to town to see,  in the hopes of discovering it..."   

The high farce, "The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People" by Oscar Wilde was first performed  at the St James's Theatre in London on 14 February 1895. Wildly successful,  the play is enduringly  popular and famed for its witty and epigrammatic dialogue - if not for bad puns - much aspired to by several of the residents of Riseholme.  See Daisy Quantock .

Incubus  ~ when Lucia had annexed Elizabeth Mapp-Flint's summer tenant at "Grebe," the celebrated romantic novelist Susan Leg, Elizabeth remarked darkly, " And how truly grateful I am to her for taking that Leg woman off my hands. Such an incubus. How she managed  it,  I don't inquire. She may have poisoned Leg's mind about me, but I should prefer to be poisoned than see much more of her."   
An incubus can be something that oppresses, worries or disturbs greatly, such as a nightmare.  Also, in myth and legend, an incubus (Latin verb, incubare, "to lie upon") is a demon in male form who preys sexually upon sleepers, especially women. Its female counterpart is the succubus. On balance, the former appears most likely inference intended by Mrs Mapp-Flint.  
Inductive reasoning ~ intellectual process in which many inhabitants of Riseholme excelled in which facts would be marshaled together and interpreted to determine the actual nature and significance of what had transpired affecting life in Riseholme or, more interestingly, was about to take place. Experts in the field included Mrs Weston, Daisy Quantock , Georgie Pillson and naturally Lucia. Thus Mrs Weston worked out that Olga Bracely had taken Old Place and Lucia and Georgie that Daisy Quantock had accidentally burned down Riseholme Museum.   
Sometimes, the process verged upon the intuitive, when it was called the "Riseholme instinct", as when Georgie Pillson knew there was something odd about Princess Popoffski, about which Robert and Daisy Quantock were behaving so suspiciously, but of which he had not the fainest further clue.

In Tilling the standard of inductive reasoning was also high, with Elizabeth Mapp excelling, as when she deduced that both Major Benjy and Captain Puffin had both run away from their duel. Similarly, in a fine exhibition of inductive reasoning, Diva Plaistow and Evie Bartlett worked out how Elizabeth Mapp came to receive a telephone call intended for Suntrap and to deliver and withdraw her calling card when she wrongly determined that Lady Deal was formerly a male impersonator from the music hall.    
"Idylls" of Theocritus ~ when about to persuade Georgie to retain his pointed beard by flagging up his marked similarity to Vandyk's portrait of Gelasius, Lucia suddenly gabbled about the modern quality of the Idylls of Theocritus, "Yet perhaps modern is the wrong word. Let us call it timeless quality, Georgie, senza tempo in fact. It is characteristic of all great artists: Vandyk has it preeminently."
A Sicilian, Theocritus, of whom little is known beyond what can be inferred from his work, wrote in the Hellenistic period, third century BC. Theocritus wrote hexameter verse echoing Homer, in Doric dialect. His idylls are short delicately crafted sketches in the bucolic or pastoral vein.

"Infelicities" ~ As befits a renowned scholar, there are remarkably few inconsistencies over the six Mapp & Lucia novels. As a classicist, EFB was no doubt aware of the saying "Even Homer nods". Despite his considerable output, the brilliant and fastidious EFB hardly ever "nodded", but his proof readers and type-setters occasionally did. Here are a few, mostly trivial, examples of the infelicitous or puzzling:

  • In most of the novels Lucia’s chauffeur and the husband of the estimable Foljambe is “Cadman”. In some however he is called “Chapman."    
  • The Christian name of fashionable Post-cubist portrait painter Sigismund is generally recorded as "Tancred," yet when speaking to Lady Ambermere, Lucia refers to him as "Benjy Sigismund"  
  • Olga Bracely clearly refers to her ill-fated husband as “Georgie”, yet Lady Ambermere for some reason calls him “Charlie
  • Elizabeth Mapp’s gardener normally appears as “Coplen” but at times surfaces as “Coglen
  • Mr Rumbold, the vicar of Riseholme and donor of a collection of walking sticks to the new museum, is sometimes referred to as “Rushbold
  • Unless its literary pretensions rivalled Hay-on-Wye, is it likely that the Green of a small village like Riseholme could support both Ye Signe of Ye Daffodille (occasionally Daffodile) and Ye Olde Booke Shoppe?
  • "Pepino” or “Peppino”? We should be told.
  • In similar vein, Amelia, Contessa di Faraglione is sometimes Fariglione.
  • In the early chapters of "Mapp and Lucia" Mrs Antrobus (with her new hearing device) and her tall daughters Piggy and Goosie are transmuted into "Arbuthnots"
  • Though perhaps not amounting to an infelicity, one wonders why Adele Brixton came to purchase from Lucia The Hurst in Riseholme, when she already owned the magnificent country house featured in the marvellous weekend party described towards the end of "Lucia in London"
  • Again, at the end of "Lucia in London" when Lucia tells Pepino that she thinks the portrait of Aunt Amy by Sargent and the small seed pearls should be sold, she added that her own portrait by Sigismund should be sold too. Surprisingly, in the first chapter of "Mapp and Lucia ", the very same picture of Lucia by Tancred Sigismund, looking like a chessboard with some arms and legs and eyes sticking out of it, is reported as still hanging on the wall at The Hurst nearly a year after Pepino's sad death. In fairness, mourning did intervene. Also, Lucia did comment that the post cubists were not making much of a mark; perhaps this affected demand for Sigismund's rather advanced work, even a piece described as a masterpiece of adagio. Even later, at the official banquet marking her installation as Mayor of Tilling in "Trouble for Lucia", it is reported that Lucia wore her chain of inherited seed pearls in her hair. The oft-worn pearls were also adorned Lucia's hair at dinner with the Mapp-Flints on the evening between Lucia's supper a deux with Poppy, Duchess of Sheffield and the re-appearance of the Duchess at Mallards House, which brought a happy conclusion to the intervening social crisis caused by general belief that the earlier visit had been a figment of Worship's imagination.
  • Similarly, it strikes ones as strange that the only two identified dogs in Riseholme and Tilling, Diva's Paddy and the Pillson sisters' Tiptree, happen both to be lean Irish terriers. The name and breed of the dog of Tilling estate agent, Mr Woolgar, once patted on the head by Elizabeth Mapp (the dog not the estate agent) is not divulged. As a slight aside from EFB, Tom Holt refers to Paddy as an Irish setter in the second chapter of "Lucia Triumphant".
  • In "Queen Lucia" Mrs Weston's garden boy and pusher (of her wheelchair, I hasten to add) was Henry Luton. Without explanation, in Chapter 10 on the Sunday morning after Olga Bracely's romp at Old Place it is Tommy Luton who accompanies his mistress to church in her bath chair and hands her her hymn-book and prayer-book as she required. A close relative, name-change or infelicity?
  • On a horticultural note, it was reported that Daisy Quantock mistakenly planted Brussels sprouts in the circular bed just outside her dining room window instead of Phlox Drummondi owing to a mix-up over labelling. Later when Simkinson the gardener was reinstated, the Brussels sprouts appear to have transmuted into "broccoli", although the mishap was later reported to Pepino and Lucia as involving "sprouts".
  • When describing Daisy Quantock's dismissive reaction of All those duchesses to the caricature of Lucia by Herbert Alton recently reproduced in an illustrated weekly, the artist is misnamed as Robert Alton.
  • When discussing possible tableaux to be presented at "Mallards" with Georgie, Lucia informs him that she began the "Thesmophoriazusae" by Aristophanes a few weeks ago and explains that it concerns the revolt of the Athenian women from their blighted and sequestered existence and barricading themselves in the Acropolis. In fact this plot is set at the Thesmophoria, a festival held in honour of the goddesses Demeter and Persephone from which men were rigidly excluded. Lucia appears to be describing the plot of another play by Aristophanes, "Lysistrata". This may of course be a joke at Lucia's expense to expose the thinness of her reading and superficiality of her erudition. Alternatively, it could be a test or little joke for his readership to see who would spot the point. Last of all it might be an infelicity -though given Benson's classical education and career, this seems unlikely unless it were a slip of the pen or typewriter when seeking to meet a deadline.
  • When the Town Surveyor and Manager of the Gasworks, brothers Georgie and Per, jumped cheerfully into the trench at "Mallards House", Benson says they leaped like Quintus Curtius into the chasm. However, as pointed out by Mr J.J. Willett in a letter to the New York Times in November 1897, Quintus Curtius was the famed biographer of Alexander the Great and a contemporary of Vespasian (AD9-79) and had nothing to do with this legend. It appears it was Mettus Curtius or Marcus Curtius who in the fourth century BC according to the legend, arrayed himself in complete armour and mounting his war horse jumped into the abyss. None of the authorities seen by the insightful Mr Willett ascribed this feat to Quintus Curtius. See Quintus Curtius.
  • Whilst discussing the impending service of dedication at Tilling church for "her" organ, refurbished at her expense, Lucia suggested, "the last chorus in Parry's setting of Milton's Ode on St Cecilia's Day, 'Blest Pair of Sirens'." Parry composed the choral work "Blest Pair of Sirens" in 1887, as a setting of John Milton's "Ode: At a Solemn Musick". Subsequently, in 1889, he wrote "Ode on St Cecilia's Day" to words by Alexander Pope. They are separate and distinct choral works and Lucia appears incorrect to infer that "Blest Pair of Sirens" forms any part of the "Ode on St Cecilia's Day" or that the "Ode on St Cecilia's Day" set by Parry was written by Milton rather than Pope.   
  • Basic problems of what in the moving pictures are called "Continuity" even touch upon the habits of principal characters. In "Queen Lucia" for example, Philip Lucas conjectures that a small oblong box with hard corners carried by Georgie Pillson must be "cigarettes for Hermy and Ursy, since Georgie never smoked." In the same book, when Georgie had played "Poissons d'Or" by Debussy, Lucia exclaimed, "Give Georgie a cigarette, Peppino! I'm sure he deserves one after all those accidentals."  Subsequently in "Trouble for Lucia"whilst suffering a sleepless night,  Georgie agonised over his feelings for Olga Bracely and reviewed Life,"It was impossible to get to sleep, and wheeling out of bed, he lit a cigarette and paced up and down in his room."      
  • In "Lucia in London," when Lucia's smart London friends visit her in at "The Hurst" in Riseholme for the weekend,  "Lucia and her guests, with the exception of Sophy Alingsby who continued to play primitive tunes with one finger on the piano, went for a stroll on the Green before lunch. Mrs Quantock hurried by with averted face,and naturally everybody wanted to know who the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland was. Lucia amused them by a bright version of poor Daisy's ouija-board and the story of the mulberry tree."   Based upon the playing card, the Red Queen is a fictional character in "Through the Looking Glass" by Lewis Carroll - not "Alice in Wonderland" as stated. Irascible if thwarted, the Red Queen is merciless to enemies and treats animals cavalierly, as when playing croquet with a flamingo mallet and hedgehog ball. A different but equally ill-tempered queen - apt to cry "Off with their heads" - is another playing card, the Queen of Hearts from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." The Red Queen and Queen of Hearts are often confused, but Carroll distinguished between them, saying :"I pictured to myself the Queen of Hearts as a sort of embodiment of ungovernable passion - a blind and aimless Fury. The Red Queen I pictured as a Fury, but of another type; her passion must be cold and calm - she must be formal and strict, yet not unkindly; pedantic to the tenth degree, the concentrated essence of all governesses!"  
  • In "Trouble for Lucia"  when Lucia became Mayor she was concerned to demonstrate repeatedy that she was preoccupied with many technical matters ranging from town planning to slums and sanitation. She remarked to Georgie "Those riband developments. They form one of the greatest problems I have to tackle"

    Well-meaning Georgie inquired if Lucia meant "things in hats" and Lucia patronisingly explained, " Stupid of me not to explain dear. How could you know? Building developments : dreadful hideous dwellings along the sweet country roads leading into Tilling. Red-brick villas instead of hedges of hawthorn and eglantine. It seems such a desecration."

    In the 1920s and 1930s the building of houses along routes of communication radiating from a city, town or village generated great concern . This kind of development was known as ribbon development rather than riband development as mentioned by Lucia. We do not know if this was an error in transcription not uncommon in Fred's writing or a joke at Lucia's expense to indicate the shallowness of her knowledge, even as Mayor. We know from Reports from the"Sussex Express" when Fred was Mayor of Rye that ribbon development was discussed by the Council - as when protests were voiced over a recommendation to develop land fronting to New Winchelsea Road in July 1935.  
 Infidel poet  ~  The Padre, Kenneth Bartlett's, sermon was quite uncompromising. "There was summer and winter, by Divine ordinance, but there was nothing said about summer-time or winter-time. There was but one time, and even as Life only stained the white radiance of eternity, as the gifted but, alas! infidel poet remarked, so, too, did Time."     
Here Benson has referred to a line from the poem of 1821 "Adonais" :
"Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,
Stains the white radiance of Eternity,
Until Death tramples it to fragments. "  
He goes on to take the phrase "infidel poet" from a famous and brief obituary  in the summer of 1822 in "The Courier," a leading Tory newspaper in London: "Shelley, the writer of some infidel poetry, has been drowned: now he knows whether there is a God or no."    
Perhaps the finest English Romantic lyric poet,  the works of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) included "Ozymandias" "Ode to the West Wind", "To a Skylark","The Masque of Anarchy", "Queen Mab" "Adonais and "Prometheus Unbound" plus plays, prose and novels.  An unconventional and uncompromising idealist and early advocate of non-violent protest, Shelley, who died tragically young by drowning,  does not appear to be the natural poet of choice of the normally conservative burghers of Tilling -save perhaps that a tendency towards a certain free spiritedness may have been apparent upon the issue of the imposition of British Summertime.  See "Stained with the radiance of eternity" and British Summertime

Institute or Literary Institute ~ Tilling boasted an Institute, sometimes called the Literary Institute, which was used, inter alia, for art exhibitions, whist drives and lectures such as Lucia's "A modern Odyssey" regarding her adventures on the Gallagher Bank. Earlier, the Mayor of Tilling was due to open the post-Christmas whist drive at the Institute with a short speech on the sin of gambling, but was diverted from this important task by the need to conduct inquiries into the loss at sea of Lucia and Miss Mapp on Boxing Day.   

Inverted fifths and submerged tenths ~ the relationship between Lucia and famous operatic prima donna Olga Bracely was a delicate one. However hard Olga tried not to upset or upstage the sensitive, self-declared Queen of Riseholme, she somehow managed to achieve exactly the opposite result with memorable episodes such as Lucia's gaffe over the Spanish Quartet and evident feigned fluency in la bella lingua. Sometimes Olga's impish sense of humour worsened the situation, as when Georgie played Debussy's composition "Poissons d'or " on the piano at Mrs Weston's tea party and Lucia talked to Olga about "inverted fifths."

When it (the goldfish) was finished, Lucia sighed and said "Poor Georgino! Wasting his time over that rubbish," though she knew quite well Olga had given the sheet music to Georgie. When Olga questioned this Lucia asserted,  "Every rule of music is violated. Don't those inverted fifths make you wince Miss Bracely?"     
Recollection of this prompted Olga to remark, "Oh Georgie, she is an ass. What she meant, I suppose was consecutive fifths: you can't invert a fifth. So I said  (I really meant it as a joke): 'Of course, there is that, but you must forgive Debussy that for the sake of that wonderful passage of submerged tenths!' And she took it quite gravely,  and shook her head, and said she was a purist."

Olga asked Georgie what happened next and he explained that directly afterwards Lucia brought the music over to him and asked him to show her where the passage of submerged tenths came. Georgie didn't know, but found some tenths and Lucia brightened up and said "Yes it is true, those submerged tenths are very impressive." Then Georgie suggested that the submerged tenth was not a musical expression but referred to the population. Lucia said no more, but asked to borrow Dalston's Manual of "Harmony". Georgie remarked " I daresay she is looking for anything about  tenths still."  See Dalston's Manual of Harmony, Olga Bracely.
Irene Coles, Quaint ~ see Coles, Irene , Quaint       
Ironmongers ~ in addition to many other emporia, Tilling boasted an ironmongers. Thus immediately after Miss Mapp had forced her way into the front door of "Mallards" by breaking the chain on the door, Lucia was able to send Grosvenor out to the ironmonger who attended personally immediately to make the door safe. The ironmonger said he would have to put in some rather large screws, as they're pulled out.

Isabel Poppit ~ free-spirited daughter of Susan Poppit, later Susan Wyse. Walked with a high, prancing tread with knees highly elevated like a statue of a curveting horse. Was occasionally invited by Elizabeth Mapp to "Mallards" when she was abused soundly on all possible occasions.  
Occasionally adopted a horrid wheedling tone - as when seeking to persuade Miss Mapp to accept her mother's lavish hospitality -which for some reason Major Flint found so attractive, much to the chagrin of Elizabeth Mapp.

In pursuance of the simple life, Isabel slept between blankets in the back yard of Mallards Cottage and - apparently - ate uncooked vegetables out of a wooden bowl like a dog. Happily let Mallards Cottage to Georgie and took a small unplumbed brown bungalow with extremely limited facilities amongst the sand dunes where she could pursue her taste for a more uncomplicated life and a regime of regular sun baths.

When Lucia decided to relocate from The Hurst in Riseholme to Grebe outside Tilling, Georgie also opted to move and was easily able to persuade Isabel to assign to him the residue of her five year lease of Mallards Cottage.

Isabel's sun baths each usually took about three hours - if fine. Her mother Susan commented that Isabel called it the Browning Society and she must not miss a meeting. With her skin turned black from continuous sunbathing and her hair spiky and wiry with so many sea baths, Isabel resembled a cross between a kipper and a sea urchin.

Rode a motor cycle somewhat wildly and, with strong arms and a mahogany face, looked like a sort of modernised Valkyrie in rather bad repair.

Considered by the less charitable in Tilling as a "Yahoo".

Collected malaprops and wrote them out in a note-book. If you reversed the note-book and began at the other end you would find the collection of spoonerisms, which were very amusing too.

 E.F.Benson himself was known to derive innocent fun from maintaining scrapbooks like Miss Poppit. One album he maintained was called "The Book of Fearful Joy" which, according to Brian Masters, was replete with malapropisms, misprints, bad verse a la William McGonagall and stories bordering upon the bawdy.

 It featured cuttings, pictures and letters regarding Marie Corelli, who amused Benson no end  together with absurdities regarding beauty contests and Queen Alexandra's truly dreadful epitaphs penned upon the loss of close friends. There is a press cutting about a Siamese twin who gave birth, 'the inseparable sister Josephine, expressed great surprise at the unaccountable occurance which made her an aunt.'   
A copy of the Uric Acid  Monthly is juxtaposed with an announcement that 'a handsome widow has been unveiled in memory of the late vicar.'   

Fred also maintained  an amusing scrapbook entitled "Episodes in the Life of Lord Desborough", properly bound in full leather with a title in gold beneath a gold coronet. It consisted mainly of letters adorned with witty pen drawings and pointing out news items from the daily press in which Lord Desborough's name is substituted, mocking his lordship's well-attested strength and solemnity, as in "The Royal Train will be drawn by Lord Desborough. He will be decorated in crape and will be in charge of Mr Armstrong, Chief of the locomotive (GWR) department. On the arrival of the train at Windsor at 12.30 , he will be removed to a gun carriage waiting in the station yard."   
There is a picture of of Lady Desborough as a Swiss teenager with flowing tressses and another of Lord Desborough aiming a hose for target practice. "Spectators at the stadium on Saturday saw a remarkable exhibition of wrestling by Lord and Lady Desborough. Lady D is marked with a cross," and "Last night at the Crystal Palace, Lord Desborough created a world's record by swinging a heavy blacksmith's hammer for twelve hours without stopping. Lord D is a variety artist; he was born in Brixton but spent his early years in France."   See Uric Acid Monthly and Spoonerisms.

Isabel,  Princess ~ A member of European royalty whose company Lucia ambitiously sought whilst enjoying London society. Her great aunt was reputedly Queen Charlotte, whose mittens had come into the hands of Lady Ambermere. Visited Georgie in Riseholme with her friend Olga Bracely whilst Lucia entertained Sophy Alingsby, Elsie Garroby-Ashton, Lord Limpsfield and Stephen Merriall at The Hurst.      
Lucia was frustrated at her inability to see Princess Isabel during her stay with Olga in Riseholme or to entice her to The Hurst. Eventually she resigned her self to just signing Princess Isabel's book and called at Old Place to request this. This non-plussed Olga's parlour maid since the only book the Princes had brought was a book of crossword puzzles. Daisy Quantock was much amused by this and commented  "Well I never! That served her out. Did she write Lucia across and Pepino down?"      
The Princess, subsequently suffered a serious bout of influenza which prompted Lucia, driving down Park Lane, to call and inquire how she was. Lucia did not care in the least how Princess Isabel was: whether she died or recovered was a matter of complete indifference, but she had noticed that the newspapers sometimes recorded the names of inquirers.      See Queen Charlotte's mittens and Lady Ambermere

"I shall not pass this way again" ~ see Stephen Grellett.   
Italian Renaissance  ~  it was a truth universally acknowledged (at least in Tilling) that there is not in all England a town so blatently picturesque as Tilling, nor one, for the lover of level marsh land, of tall reedy dykes, of enormous sunsets and rims of blue sea on the horizon, with so fortunate an environment.  The town was full of quaint corners, rough cast and timber cottages, and mellow Georgian fronts which attracted a myriad of artists. Every morning brought in to the town charabancs from neighbouring places loaded with passengers, many of whom joined the artistic residents, and you would have thought (until an inspection of their productions convinced you of the contrary) that some tremendous outburst of Art was rivalling the Italian Renaissance.     
After the Dark Ages,  parts of Europe, notably Italy, saw a period of great development in the arts and learning, called a renaissance or rebirth, marked by a  renewal of interest in the culture of classical antiquity and burgeoning creativity.  It spanned the period from the end of the thirteenth century to about 1600. In Italy there was a brilliant flowering in many fields, including literature (Petrarch and Bocaccio), poetry ( Pulci, Boiardo, Ariosto) philosophy and politics (Ficino, Castiglione, Macchiavelli), architecture ( Brunelleschi and Palladio) and painting (Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, da Vinci and Titian).  Many of a creative bent in Tilling on the coast of Sussex in the third decade of the twentieth century were not unduly embarrassed to compare their own creative outpourings from time to time with those of this golden age.     
"It may be better to have loved and lost..."   ~  Georgie Pillson was positively morose, having just been informed by Lucia that she had sold "The Hurst" to her tenant Adele Brixton and would be remaining in Tilling. This was too appalling to contemplate since it meant that his peerless parlourmaid Foljambe would be remaining with Cadman, Lucia's chauffeur and he would lose her invaluable services.   
Depressed, he considered his options.Though he had lain wake shuddering at the thought that perhaps Lucia expected him to marry her, he felt he would almost sooner have done that than lose her altogether. He thought, "It may be better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all but it's very poor work not having loved and also to have lost..."  

His mood was lifted when he opened a letter from his summer tenant in Riseholme, Colonel Cresswell offering to buy his house, thus enabling him to move to Tilling and, most importantly for his own comfort, to retain the estimable Foljambe.   
Like many men of his generation, Benson was very familiar with the works of Alfred, Lord Tennyson and perhaps above all with,  "In Memoriam A.H.H.", an accomplished lyrical work completed in about 1849, which was a requiem for the poet's Cambridge friend Arthur Henry Hallam, who died suddenly of  a cerebral haemorrhage in Vienna in 1833. The words paraphrased by Georgie come in Canto 27:    
"I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all."        
See Tennyson,   "Maud", "And may there be no sadness of farewell, when I embark" and "Long unlovely streets."    
"It's a mad world, my masters"   ~  during the wekend when Lucia received several of her friends from London to stay at "The Hurst" in Riseholme, she had a difficult conversation with Georgie Pillson regarding his own celebrated visitors, Olga Braceley and Princess Isabel. They also tuoched upon the portriat of Lucia by fashionable artist "'Sigismund, you know , he's the great rage in London just now. Everyone is crazy to be painted by him.'

'And they look crazy when they are. It's a mad world, my masters,' said Mr Merriall."

Stephen Merriall was refering to a Jacobean stage play "A Mad World, My Masters" written by Thomas Middleton and first performed  in 1608. The title is proverbial and was used by pamphleteer Nicholas Breton in 1603.
"I wonder-"   ~  the marriage of Elizabeth Mapp to Major Benjamin Flint  prompted much discussion amongst friends and neighbours in Tilling. Lucia remarked to Diva Plaistow, "I think it's a perfect marriage. Perfect. I wonder -"    
At this point Diva chipped in" I know what you mean. They sleep in that big room overlooking the street. Withers told my cook.  Dressing room for Major Benjy next door; that slip of a room. I've seen him shaving in the window myself." 
"Lucia walked quickly on after Diva turned into her house in the High Street. Diva was a little coarse sometimes, but in fairness Luica had to allow that when she said, 'I wonder-', Diva had interpreted what she wondered with absolute accuracy. "

In short - for the avoidance of doubt - the words above are as close as Fred comes to stating expressly that, despite their mature years, the newly-wed Mapp-Flints shared a martrimonial bed. 

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