Essays Gardiner, A. G.: Pebbles on the Shore. v1. 08 Mar 2019
#1  GrannyGrump 03-08-2019, 05:18 AM
By “Alpha of the Plough”
Pseudonym of A. G. Gardiner (1865–1946)

Pebbles on the Shore was first published in 1916. Text was obtained from the Internet Archive. The text of this book is in the public domain in countries where the copyright term is “Life+70” or less, and in the USA.

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 “On Umbrella Morals”:
Spoiler Warning below

A sharp shower came on as I walked along the Strand, but I did not put up my umbrella. The truth is I couldn’t put up my umbrella. The frame would not work for one thing, and if it had worked, I would not have put the thing up, for I would no more be seen under such a travesty of an umbrella than Falstaff would be seen marching through Coventry with his regiment of ragamuffins. The fact is, the umbrella is not my umbrella at all. It is the umbrella of some person who I hope will read these lines. He has got my silk umbrella. I have got the cotton one he left in exchange. I imagine him flaunting along the Strand under my umbrella, and throwing a scornful glance at the fellow who was carrying his abomination and getting wet into the bargain. I daresay the rascal chuckled as he eyed the said abomination. “Ah,” he said gaily to himself, “I did you in that time, old boy. I know that thing. It won’t open for nuts. And it folds up like a sack. Now, this umbrella….”

But I leave him to his unrighteous communings. He is one of those people who have what I may call an umbrella conscience. You know the sort of person I mean. He would never put his hand in another’s pocket, or forge a cheque or rob a till—not even if he had the chance. But he will swap umbrellas, or forget to return a book, or take a rise out of the railway company. In fact he is a thoroughly honest man who allows his honesty the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he takes your umbrella at random from the barber’s stand. He knows he can’t get a worse one than his own. He may get a better. He doesn’t look at it very closely until he is well on his way. Then, “Dear me! I’ve taken the wrong umbrella,” he says, with an air of surprise, for he likes really to feel that he has made a mistake. “Ah, well, it’s no use going back now. He’d be gone. And I’ve left him mine!”
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