Beggars Bush: A Perambulation through the Disciplines of History, Geography, Archaeology, Literature, Philology, Natural History, Botany, Biography & Beggary

Sara M Hardwich Plutus Adonis A Mythical Hero 1884

“Beggar’s Bush is no place for a woman, much less a lady.”

“Old Badmin is a decently dressed rogue, and does the devil’s work in our village so cleverly, it takes two honest men to lay hold of him in the act and deed of villainy. Card sharper, poacher, retailer of rum and gin without a licence, and many a sober man’s sober son has he ruined and sent across seas, having picked his bones and used him for a cat’s paw. All last winter his small farm, Beggar’s Bush, was a rendezvous for the scum of the parish, to-night is this, year’s inauguration ; a first and last carousel.”

“Amongst those turf bogs no man of your father’s weight could find a footing. They skirt Beggar’s Bush ; there, yonder, is the farm, more than one path leads from it to St. Cuthbert’s. None but fools or madmen would try the moors to-night, even with an experienced guide. A slip into these treacherous dykes, and the strongest traveller fares the worst; his frantic, efforts do but engulf him the more surely.”

“Beggar’s Bush deserted, got a tenant after some time, a quiet, sober man, seemingly intent upon digging and drying, and re-claiming the land by a system of drainage. The farm was his own, he said, and had been let to a very bad tenant by his agents, determining him to see after the property himself.”

I hesitate to include this tedious execrable novel in the list of literary references – I do so for completeness, not as an encouragement to read it.

The usage of Beggars Bush is characteristic of the imagination expended by the author. As well as a bad man called Badmin, the book includes Constable Duffer and a villain called Marmaduke Chatterson. He, inexplicably, is also the husband of the heroine’s nursemaid Prudence, before his supposed death on the Lusitania, reappearance, further disappearance mysteriously connected with the heroine’s father drowning in a bog and deathbed repentance in a workhouse.

Plutus Adonis

Plutus and Adonis were the Greek gods of wealth and beauty. The story concerns the love of Eunice Boulting aka Stanisborough and a handsome young naval officer, Rodney Helyer, until, after numerous setbacks they are wed – ”An honest. God-fearing, noble man, a true, loving, humble- hearted woman, joined together — to love, and help, and bear each with the other — till death. Yes, and afterwards, in a more perfect life.”

If you still need to be convinced not to read more the following passage records an incident during their first meeting on a train:

“”Gentlemen” —ominous stress on the twice-repeated word — “Gentlemen, do not smoke in a lady’s — in a general carriage. It is against the rules.”

“There, the thought of her heart is out ; she has affronted him, and she is sorry. Was that indeed her own voice, sharp and shrewish ? She has wasted her breath and perilled her dignity: her seventeen years bespeak her an innocent, perhaps a school-girl. With a single step the enemy is upon her. Cool, critical, the offensive meerschaum still in his mouth, he pushes back the door, and stands before her. A light, pungent cloud curls under Eunice’s delicate Grecian nose and the salt tears overflowing her eyes drop thick and fast, dabbling her squirrel tippet and the pretty cover of a French prize classic — her hardly- won “Paul et Virginie.””

Young Lieutenant Helyar carries the book next to his heart for 500 pages of unrequited and unexpressed mutual desire until, his ship grounded in a storm of Africa, his sailors, clinging to the rigging, demand he reads them some extracts. I am sure the author intended this to echo an earlier incident in which Eunice is called by one of her servants to bring relief to the servant’s sister crushed by a falling wall, in the following passage:

“”My little sister, Beth, has been killed in a minnit; the doctor says she can’t live to see the morning. I’m to go immediate; your mamma is willing. Brother Lake has the boat, an’ wine an’ sleeping physic. But it’s not me the child wearies for; ’tis Miss Carol, her dearest dear young lady, to say her a Bible verse an’ hold her hand awhile till the angels come. She’ll win no rest without. Luke, he thinks you would, may be, do as well being Miss Carol’s twin, an’ a lovely reader and singer.””

Sara M Hardwich

I have not been able to discover anything about the author. The only biographical information in the book is the intriguing dedication: “To my young companions in the olive woods of Italy, this old fashioned story, a remembrance of bygone years, is dedicated.”

The only other work by her in the British Library Catalogue is a short story, Made a Man Of, published in  The Bouverie Series of Penny Stories Issue 55, (1910) .  This series was published by The Religious Tract Society.

Paul et Virginie

A French novel by Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre (1787). The title characters are good friends who fall in love. It presents an Enlightenment view that God, or “Providence,” had perfectly designed the world to be harmonious and pleasing. The characters live off the land in Mauritius in harmony with nature and although they own slaves they are kind to them.

Sources (not recommended)

Sarah M. Hardwich, Plutus Adonis. A mythical hero, Remington and Co. New Bond Street, W., 1884 vol 1

Sarah M. Hardwich, Plutus Adonis. A mythical hero, Remington and Co. New Bond Street, W., 1884 vol 2

Posted: June 26th, 2012 | Filed under: Writers | Tags: | No Comments »

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