Essays Gardiner, A. G.: Many Furrows. v1. 08 Mar 2019
#1  GrannyGrump 03-08-2019, 05:42 AM
By “Alpha of the Plough”
Pseudonym of A. G. Gardiner (1865–1946)

Many Furrows was first published in 1924. Text was obtained from the Digital Library of India. The text of this book is in the public domain in countries where the copyright term is “Life+70” or less.

Alfred George Gardiner (2 June 1865 – 3 March 1946) was an English journalist, editor and author.

From 1915 he contributed to the London Star under the pseudonym Alpha of the Plough. At the time The Star had several anonymous essayists whose pseudonyms were the names of stars. Invited to choose a nom de plume, he elected “to hitch my little waggon” to the brightest (alpha) star in the constellation the Plough (Ursa Major/Big Dipper).

His essays are highly regarded. They are uniformly elegant, graceful and humorous. His uniqueness lay in his ability to teach the basic truths of life in an easy and amusing manner. Pillars of Society, Pebbles on the Shore, Leaves in the Wind, and Many Furrows are some of his best known writings.

Join Mr. Gardiner now, as he comments on his personal doings and beliefs, on society’s public morals and private practices, and shares social commentaries, literary critiques, and views on life in general.
An excerpt from “A Night’s Lodging”:
Spoiler Warning below

I awoke this morning with the sort of feeling a healthy child awakes with on Christmas Day. That is to say, I awoke with delight at the idea of getting up. I was in a strange bed in a strange city. I had arrived in the strange city late overnight, and had had to take what lodging I could find. Until I lay down in my bed I had no idea how uncomfortable a bed could be. It was as cold as charity and as hard as a tax-gatherer. The bolster was the shape of a large round sausage, and the pillow was the shape of a sausage also. They were a relentless pair of ruffians, cold-hearted, passionless brutes, stolid and unresponsive, deaf alike to appeal or rebuke. I coaxed them with the flat of my hand, and they scowled unmoved; I smote them with my closed fist, and they took no more notice of it than if their name had been Dempsey.

I did not know that I could hate any inanimate thing so much as I hated that pillow and that bolster. I did not know that such oceans of blind anger were bottled up within me. I banged them against each other with savage joy. I threw them on the floor and danced and stamped on them. I knelt on them; I sat on them; finally I kicked them, not in the hope of doing them any good (hope had by this time died within me), but for the simple delight of kicking the abominations.

Then, warmed with these various exercises, I put the things back and got into bed. It was as I expected. The mattress was a fit companion for the pillow and bolster. It lay like a newly ploughed field, every furrow deeply graven, every ridge with the edge of a dulled razor. It was not a field of warm loam or generous greensand that yielded to the touch. It was a field of stubborn Essex clay, cold and dank and merciless. The expanse was enormous. It seemed that during that measureless night I travelled miles to and fro across the field in search of a furrow into which I could wedge myself. I tried it on the east side, and I tried it on the west, and I tried it all between. I tried it longitudinally; I tried it latitudinally; I tried it diagonally. The way with a bed like this, I said to myself, is not to get in the furrows, but to lie across the ridges. But when I did that I felt like a toad under the harrow, when “ilka tooth gies him a tig,” and I resumed my search for a furrow that would give me a welcome.
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