Friday, November 30, 2012

Rock-Garden Of Their Souls

  Francesca was one of those women towards whom Fate appears to have the best intentions and never to carry them into practice.  With the advantages put at her disposal she might have been expected to command a more than average share of feminine happiness.  So many of the things that make for fretfulness, disappointment and discouragement in a woman’s life were removed from her path that she might well have been considered the fortunate Miss Greech, or later, lucky Francesca Bassington.  And she was not of the perverse band of those who make a rock-garden of their souls by dragging into them all the stoney griefs and unclaimed troubles they can find lying around them.  Francesca loved the smooth ways and pleasant places of life; she liked not merely to look on the bright side of things but to live there and stay there.  And the fact that things had, at one time and another, gone badly with her and cheated her of some of her early illusions made her cling the closer to such good fortune as remained to her now that she seemed to have reached a calmer period of her life.  To undiscriminating friends she appeared in the guise of a rather selfish woman, but it was merely the selfishness of one who had seen the happy and unhappy sides of life and wished to enjoy to the utmost what was left to her of the former.  The vicissitudes of fortune had not soured her, but they had perhaps narrowed her in the sense of making her concentrate much of her sympathies on things that immediately pleased and amused her, or that recalled and perpetuated the pleasing and successful incidents of other days.  And it was her drawing-room in particular that enshrined the memorials or tokens of past and present happiness.

Paintings by F.C.B. Cadell (1883-1937). 

Top:  The Black Hat.  

Bottom:  Interior, The Opera Hat

Text:  Saki, The Unbearable Bassington, Ch. 1 (1912)



  1. She sounds well-defended. N.B., she is wearing a hat.

    1. Yes. I like this passage but haven't proceeded much further in the book. The first Saki I read is the remarkable "invasion novel" When William Came, a fantasia about life in England following a sudden successful German attack and takeover. It was written a couple of years ahead of WWI and describes perfectly what things feel like after all spirit (animal and otherwise) has been sapped from a country. Because Saki is witty, it's not entirely depressing, but is a really great blend of the serious and the comic and in the current parlance, he "keeps it real." He's very talented in ways I didn't anticipate. Curtis