10 DECEMBER 1948, Page 17

" Scrip of Joy "

Richard Jefferies means so much to so many countrymen that I cannot forbear a brief reply to one of his critics, because the criticism evinces so strange an inability to understand the essential Jefferies, and therefore the essential countryman. Mr. Elwin wrote, " Every reader of Jefferies must wonder why his appreciation of beauty brought him so little joy in living." The truth, of course, is that it brought him extreme joy. Observation was the breath of life to him ; it almost was his life. He knew Wordsworth's " deep power of joy " and carried Raleigh's " scrip of joy." He enjoyed even taking notes of what he saw and in writing his impres- sions. He enjoyed the mystic religion he extracted from his sense of beauty:- His ecstasies, like most others, entailed reactions ; and as he was ill and poor, gloomy intervals were inevitable ; but he always had a " hearth of thought " and memory at which he warmed his hands ; and this, I take it, is the possession of all true countrymen.