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This article is taken from PN Review 39, Volume 11 Number 1, July - August 1984.

from On the Lookout (1958) C.H. Sisson

This country which persists - ever more faintly - under the technological England which is the centre of my daily calculations, can still be visited but it recedes before discovery. The fury of destruction is immense, and it is held to be outrageous not to believe - not least for one who earns his living as I do - that economic good resides in the destruction of our assets. There is little to be done about this except not to believe what one is supposed to. In this Dorset, to which I retreat as often as I can and where I have a cottage which makes that possible, there are enough green tracks left to be put in mind frequently of the time - more recent than one can easily believe - when roads were not metalled and natural ills found the body more defenceless. It is sobering to reflect on the modest scale of things in the seventeenth century. A book like the Proceedings of the Dorset Standing Committee - the parliamentary committee which, during the rebellion, supervised the sequestration of the livings and livelihoods of loyal persons - makes it alive. One shows the members of the committee coming and going, to Dorchester or Blandford, to settle the claims of the wives and families of ejected parsons to a fifth of the stipend - a tiny provision which the incoming Puritan preacher seems quite often to have been unwilling to pay. Or one can see in Walker's ...


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