Sir Austin Feverel’s wife deserts him to run away with a poet, leaving her husband to bring up their boy Richard. Believing schools to be corrupt, Sir Austin, a scientific humanist, educates the boy at home with a plan of his own devising.
Arthur Linfoot wrote that his comrade, Harvey, had lent him “Richard Feverel” on 20 August 1918, while stationed at Choques, midway between Lillers and Béthune in Northern France. He continued to read the book in the following days.
The History of Mr. Polly has three parts. The first part (chapters 1–6) tells of his life up to age 20, when he marries his cousin and sets up a shop. The second part (chapters 7–8) tells of his suicide attempt, after which he abandons his shop and his wife. The third part (chapters 9–10) and an epilogue sees him becoming a happy and settled assistant innkeeper.
Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had read some of The History of Mr Polly on 9 August 1918, while stationed at Choques, midway between Lillers and Béthune in Northern France.
Up shortly after 7 o’clock. On duty about 8 o’clock. Practically nothing to do all morning. The news in the papers more reasonable. The speech of Kühlmann causing a lot of contention†1. Worked until nearly 7 o’clock. Did a bit French and then had a walk last thing with Harvey. Read through Bennett’s “The Author’s Craft”2 and talked it over a bit with Harvey.
It is a short exposition on writing but doesn’t explore technique in the same depth as some modern writers’ guides do, rather concentrating on emotional aspects and the need for an author to express passion and beauty.
Arthur Linfoot wrote that he had “read through” this book and discussed it with a comrade, Harvey, while posted at Pleurs, south of Épernay on 27 June 1918.
Up about 7.30 and spent most of the day preparing the hospital at the Salle de Reunion. Fine day. Good news in the papers. The Italians have driven back the Austrians, affairs in Austria are pretty serious, Lloyd George speaks of the possibility of Russia re-joining the allies and Kuhlmann1 made a reasonable speech.
Richard von Kühlmann (1873 – 1948): in German London embassy 1908 – 1914; negotiated Brest-Litovsk Treaty with revolutionary Russia, and Treaty of Bucharest with Romania, which Ludendorff considered gave inadequate guarantees on Eastern frontier; briefly German Foreign Secretary, said in Reichstag (July 1918) that the War could not be ended by arms alone; speech ‘misinterpreted’ by the Generals, had to resign. ↩
Up about 7 o’clock. Told after morning parade to go on the advance party. Went off in car about 10.30 to Fleurs1 – a pretty village. Got a good billet. The men who made the disturbance up for trial and got pretty well off. Better news in the paper. The Italians have done well and the River Piave flooded and helped them2. The rough men in the billet had a lot to say through drinking too much watered wine.
Fleurs: very clearly written, but actually Pleurs (B), 14km S from Broussy-le-Petit (A) across the N4; Michelin map 515, square D10. ↩
Up at about 7 o’clock. On parade at 9 and spent morning going through stuff on limber and getting new kit – I got a new canteen. Better news from Italy. Corporal Ogilvy, Pat Gibson, Bulmer, Franklin and some B section men drunk and a lot of noise and commotion in the billet last thing at night.
Up at about 7 o’clock. Eggs for breakfast. Paraded at 9 o’clock and dismissed after inspection. Wrote to Charlie most of the morning and had a short walk before dinner with Harvey. Finished Charlie’s letter and posted it in the afternoon. Received letter from home in the afternoon. Had walk at night. Saw some very large cross† sloe-berries. Glorious night.
Up about 7 o’clock and on parade at 9 o’clock. Dismissed after inspection and kit inspection at 10 o’clock. Spent day looking up a bit French and writing to Charlie. Walked to next village at night with Harvey, Holman, and Billy. Fine night.
Up at about 7 o’clock. Paraded at 2 o’clock, full marching order, and marched to the buses a short distance away. Started off about 3 in the buses and arrived at Boussey le Petit1 at about 6 o’clock. Had tea and a walk round the village. Determined to write to Charlie.
Boussey le Petit: this would be Broussy-le-Petit (B), Michelin map 515, square C10; 25km SW of Oger (A) and about 30km S of Épernay, E of D951. ↩