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My father, who was serene, humorous and full of hobbies, remarked casually that he had been asked to go on what was then called The Vestry.
At this my mother, who was more swift, restless and generally Radical in her instincts, uttered something like a cry of pain; she said, "Oh, Edward, don't! We never have been respectable yet; don't let's begin now." And I remember my father mildly replying, "My dear, you present a rather alarming picture of our lives, if you say that we have never for one single instant been respectable." Readers of Pride and Prejudice will perceive that there was something of Mr.
I may add that my grandfather, when the story was told, always used to insist that he had added to the phrase "I don't care how they are conducted," the qualifying words (repeated with a grave motion ot the hand) "provided it is with reverence and sincerity." But I grieve to say that sceptics in the younger generation believed this to have been an afterthought.
The point is, however, that my grandfather was pleased, and not really very much amazed, to be called a monument and a landmark.
Bowing down in blind credulity, as is my custom, before mere authority and the tradition of the elders, superstitiously swallowing a story I could not test at the time by experiment or private judgment, I am firmly of opinion that I was born on the 29th of May, 1874, on Campden Hill, Kensington; and baptised according to the formularies of the Church of England in the little church of St.
George opposite the large Waterworks Tower that dominated that ridge.
"You are an Historical Character," said the admiring stranger.
"You have changed the whole destiny of Church and State." My grandfather still assumed airily that this might be a poetical manner of describing a successful house-agency.
"You are a Monument," said the strange gentleman, "Sir, you are a Landmark." My grandfather, slightly flattered, murmured politely that they had certainly been in Kensington for some little time.And before we come to any of my own experiences, it will be well to devote this brief chapter to a few of the other facts of my family and environment which I hold equally precariously on mere hearsay evidence.Of course what many call hearsay evidence, or what I call human evidence, might be questioned in theory, as in the Baconian controversy or a good deal of the Higher Criticism. I might be the long-lost heir of The Holy Roman Empire, or an infant left by ruffians from Limehouse on a door-step in Kensington, to develop in later life a hideous criminal heredity.Bennet about my father; though there was certainly nothing of Mrs. Anyhow, what I mean here is that my people belonged to that rather old-fashioned English middle class; in which a business man was still permitted to mind his own business.They had been granted no glimpse of our later and loftier vision, of that more advanced and adventurous conception of commerce, in which a business man is supposed to rival, ruin, destroy, absorb and swallow up everybody else's business.