In a former book of mine, Sir John Constantine, I expressed (perhaps extravagantly) my faith in my fellows and in their capacity to treat life as a noble sport. In Brother Copas I try to express something of that corellative scorn which must come sooner or later to every man who puts his faith into practice.
l City, sometime the Royal City, of Merchester. He will find it all there, enclosed and casketed--"a box where sweets compacted lie."
Let him arrive on a Saturday night and awake next morning to the note of the Cathedral bell, and hear the bugles answering from the barracks up the hill beyond the mediaeval gateway. As he sits down to breakfast the bugles will start sounding nigher, with music absurd and barbarous, but stirring, as the Riflemen come marching down the High Street to Divine Service. In the Minster to which they wend, their disused regimental colours droop along the aisles; tattered, a hundred years since, in Spanish battlefields, and by age worn almost to gauze--"strainers," says Brother Copas, "that in their time have clarified much turbid blood." But these are guerdons of yesterday in comparison with other relics the Minster guards. There is royal dust among them--Saxon and Dane and Norman--housed in painted chests above the choir stalls. "Quare fremuerunt gentes?" intone the c
Not every reader will like this book nor agree with me that Quiller is one of the best writers around, but at his best he can't be beaten.
This is wonderfully droll and ironic, featuring an impossibly bright and mature six-year-old and a bizarre group of religious paupers.
If you have some Latin, brush it up.
(stars mean nothing)