10 MAY 1935, Page 44


By H. W. Timperley This book (Dent, 6s.), which records the observations of the author on the North Wiltshire downland, has a quality of quiet charm which seems to transcend the author's manner of writing. It is not that Mr. Timperley is either laboured or noticeably facile—but the singular charm of this book does not appear to be explicable in terms either of his ability or inability. Partly one must suppose this charm to emerge from the nature of his subject—few districts of the English countryside exercise such a delicate but definite influence on people as that lying between Malmesbury and Marlborough and Ashbury. Some of the author's descriptions of landscapes succeed in conveying an actual and pictorial impression by reason of an accurate diction ; but more succeed in this by reason of a sort of profound inarticulation underrunning the words ; this, if not eloquent, is expressive ; is sometimes even impressive. It is the author's purpose to state the history of the Ridge Way, a highway from prehistoric times, though now its users are mainly ." tramps and gypsies, and the traffic between farmyard and field." There are now no villages on this grass-covered road, although those that lie not far off have the dignity of places that have " grown up naturally from their environment." Perhaps it is Mr. Timperley's reserved but obvious affection for the local nature of this dignity that imparts to his book its elusive but quite definite charm.