Monthly Archives: November 2017

Roderick Random and Teetotalers

The following text is the letter written by ALL, referred to in the diary entry for 21 November 1917   and published in “Everyman”, November 1917. This letter, over the pseudonym B.E.F. (presumably for British Expeditionary Force), which is preserved in a correspondence book of ALL’s, was written on 31 October in Folkestone while ALL was waiting there to be taken across the Channel on his return to France from home leave.

Cutting from "Everyman"
Cutting from “Everyman” November 1917 – click or tap to enlarge.

SIR. – I have been very much amused and occasionally just a little annoyed by the neat little gibes which “Roderick Random” so often makes at teetotalers. In the last copy which I had the pleasure of reading he said something (I haven’t EVERYMAN by me) about “before men grew teetotal and flabby.” Permit me, modestly and with cap in hand, to state my own case. I am one of a third generation of most bigoted teetotalers, and neither I nor my fathers are – or were – particularly flabby. We can boast fairly healthy carcases, tolerably clear minds, and maybe a seasoning of humour. In the realm of hard knocks we hold our own whether they be the playful little taps of circumstance or the more energetic blows given by fragments of high-explosive shell. I am just winding up ten days’ leave after twenty months’ active service, and have had the honour – scarcely a pleasure – of being in every stunt in that period with the exception of Vimy Ridge – and never condescended to indulge in a rum ration. I am not by any means the only total abstainer on active service. They are as plentiful as German whizzbangs and as hard as Army biscuits. I venture to assert that you will find more flabbiness of body and mind amongst topers than amongst abstainers.

Pardon scrawl and a hastily written letter. I am at rest camp waiting for the cross-Channel boat. In a few more hours I shall be wending my way to the battle-line and will face Fritz – without a rum ration.

Continue reading Roderick Random and Teetotalers

20 November 1917; Tuesday

Up at 7 o’clock. Double1 before breakfast and usual morning’s work. Spent afternoon on French and reading “Old St Paul’s”2. Had walk at night with Holman and Harvey and discussed music and a few odd things.

  1. Double march, or run. See all diary entries tagged “double“. 

  2. Old Saint Paul’s: William Harrison Ainsworth’s novel, about the Great Fire. See also Old St. Paul’s and  Arthur Linfoot’s library

Old St. Paul’s

Cover ImageOld St. Paul’s, also titled Old Saint Paul’s: A Tale of the Plague and the Fire, is a novel by William Harrison Ainsworth serially published in The Sunday Times from 3 January 1841 to 26 December 1841.

The story of Old St. Paul’s is spread over six books which range between April 1665 and September 1666, culminating in the Great Fire of London.

Arthur Linfoot noted that he had ‘spent [the] afternoon on French and reading “Old St Paul’s”’ (presumably not all of it) in his diary entry of 20 November 1917 while stationed at Wallon Cappell.

18 November 1917; Sunday

Up about 8 o’clock. Kit inspection at 9 o’clock. Did French most of morning. Had short walk before dinner. Did some French in the afternoon. Had short walk before tea. Read some of Emerson’s essays1 at night. Had short walk after 6 o’clock.

Finished reading “Sinister Street”2 volume I.

  1. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote several books of essays, commonly associated with transcendentalism and romanticism. “Essays” most commonly refers to his first two series of essays and it is likely to have been one of these, or a combined edition, that ALL was reading. See also Emerson’s Essays and Arthur Linfoot’s library

  2. Sinister Street”: Compton Mackenzie’s novel, published in 2 volumes, 1913 – 14; there were several sequels, but he was already famous (aged 31/32 and living in Italy on the novel’s proceeds) when he enlisted early in the War, went as a junior intelligence officer to Gallipoli (“Gallipoli Memories”), and later became Army head of intelligence in the Aegean area. See also Sinister Street and Arthur Linfoot’s library

Emerson’s Essays

Cover ImageRalph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet.

He wrote two books of essays, a First Series, published in 1841, and a Second Series, published in 1844. A further book of essays, Representative Men, the printed form of a series of lectures given by Emerson, was published in 1850. Emerson’s essays have subsequently sometimes been published together in anthologies.

On 18 November 1917, while stationed at Wallon Cappell, Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had “read some of Emerson’s essays at night”. Clearly we cannot know which of Emerson’s essays Arthur Linfoot read on this day, or in what form.

Sinister Street

Cover ImageCompton Mackenzie (17 January 1883 – 30 November 1972) was an English born Scottish writer and lifelong Scottish nationalist. He was one of the co-founders in 1928 of the Scottish National Party but is possibly now more widely remembered as the author of his 1947 novel, Whisky Galore, which has been adapted as films twice, in 1949 and 2016.

Sinister Street is Compton Mackenzie’s novel published in  two volumes in 1913 and 1914. The work was published  in the UK as Sinister Street, volumes 1 and 2, and in the USA as two books, Youth’s Encounter and Sinister Street. It is a novel about growing up, and concerns two children, Michael Fane and his sister Stella, both born out of wedlock to rich parents. The book had several sequels, which continue until Michael Fane’s marriage.

Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had ‘finished reading “Sinister Street” volume I’ on 18 November 1917 while stationed at Wallon Cappell.