Friday, November 01, 2019

Richard Jefferies: Primrose Gold in Our Village

The Swindon Advertiser brings news that the Richard Jefferies Museum at Coate in Swindon is to be used as a polling station in next month's general election.

Which gives me an excuse for quoting from Jefferies 1887 essay Primrose Gold in Our Village. 'Primrose' here is a reference to the Primrose League, which was founded in 1883 to spread Conservative principles.

Jefferies writes:
The old grocer, who is not a 'professional tradesman', who exposes dirty Radical prints in his window for sale, who said several hard words to the clergyman a few years ago for refusing to bury his Nonconformist baby, who is a regular old sanded brute - is not boycotted. 
Certainly not. No private notice sent round, or placards stuck up remarking that if you deal there you will get lead pepper. Still it is not necessary to buy there if the 'professional' tradesman's brother sets up another shop. It is not that you shall not go to the old grocer, but it is suggested how much better it would be to go to the other one and so encourage him. The caucus does not say you shall not deal here; the caucus says you shall deal there. It is boycotting reversed. 
By and by the doctors found out that the prevalence of disease was due to there not being sufficient air-holes to the drains; so in making these improvements one was casually opened by the old grocer's shop. Always a beastly Radical effluvia just there. Don't stop there - spores, germs, pah! 
The old gentleman has written letters about it, but somehow the official wheels don't move. Ex-officio people are plentiful on country board, and they are mostly heathen Tories.
My understanding of Jefferies is that he was chiefly a jobbing writer who would supply whatever editors wanted. But essays like this do suggest he had become a thoroughgoing Radical by the time of his death.

1 comment:

bjg said...

Interesting to see that the term "boycott" had become so widely understood in the eight years since Captain Boycott came to fame.