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Waiting for Daylight,
H. M. Tomlinson, 1922



August 17, 1918. Having something on the mind may lead one to salvation, but it seems just as likely to lead one to the asylum. The Germans, who are necessarily in the power of an argument which shows them we are devils, are yet compelled to admit that Shakespeare is worth reasoned consideration, and so they avoid the implied difficulty by explaining that, as Shakespeare was a genius, therefore he was a German. What we should do if it could be proved a grandfather of the poet was a Prussian probably only our Home Secretary could tell us, after he had made quite sure he would not be overheard by a white and tense believer in the Hidden Hand. Thank God Heine was a Jew, though even so there are rumours that a London memorial to him is to be removed. And last night I heard it expounded very seriously, by a clever man of letters, that Carlyle's day is done. Few people read Carlyle to-day--and it may be supposed that as they read they hold his volumes with a Hidden Hand--and fewer still love him, for at heart he was a Prussian. He was, indeed, slain in our affections by Frederick the Great. His shrine at Chelsea is no longer visited. It is all for the best, because in any case he wrote only a gnarled and involved bastard stuff of partly Teutonic origin. While this appeal was being made to me, I watched the face of a cat, which got up and stretched itself during the discourse, with some hope; but that animal looked as though it were thinking of its drowned kittens. It was the last chance, and the cat did not laugh. On my way home, thinking of that grave man of letters and of his serious and attentive listeners, I noticed even the street lights were lowered or doused, and remembered that every wineshop was shut. London is enough to break one's heart. If only by some carelessness one of the angels failed to smother his great laughter over us, and we heard it, we might, in awakening embarrassment, the first streak of dawn, put a stop to what had been until that moment an unconscious performance.

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