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Page 119

PART II - BOOKS
CHAPTER IX - HOWARD OVERING STURGIS

HOW many people have read Belclaamber to-day ? Of the few who have read it, how many, besides myself, have carried about scraps of its wisdom and wit, its tact and its bitterness, for the last thirty years ? The description in it of the converted Jew ` who instead of not attending the synagogue now stayed away from church '; Cissy Eccleston and her mother ` squashed sideways by the open drawers of their respective writing-tables, like people playing a perpetual duet on two organs with all the stops pulled out '; Sainty's grandmother, the duchess :` the little of her grace's dress that was visible above the line of the tablecloth was of a delicate peach-colour '; the cameo of Edwardian gaiety preserved in, ` Lor 1 we did have fun, though, how was the poor piano this morning after those boys pouring the champagne into it ? '; Cissy's row with her mother-in-law and the baleful, ' Oh, in the matter of a baby, take care I don't astonish some of you yet,' with which she concludes it ; the kindly, vulgar note from Lady Arthur which concludes the book itself and puts the last polish on its irony-all these scraps have lain about in my mind among scraps from accredited authors like George Meredith and Thackeray, they have borne the test of time, and the novel from which they are taken has become, so far as one reader is concerned, a classic. Here is, Bekhamber reprinted. Re-read, it exercises its old power. Perhaps it is a classic after all. Anyhow, let me empty yesterday's champagne out of the poor piano, and cautiously try a few notes. The instrument cost a good deal to begin with-that is indisputable.
Howard Sturgis was born in 1855, in London, of American stock. He grew up in affluence, he was educated at Eton and Cambridge, adopted no profession, and was well placed for observing the airs and graces of the great-a foreigner in a front seat. His friend Henry James, equally well placed, fidgets

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