The Unbearable Bassington eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 148 pages of information about The Unbearable Bassington.
matched his appearance and showed no taint of the sartorial disorder by which the bourgeois of the garden-city and the Latin Quarter anxiously seeks to proclaim his kinship with art and thought.  His eccentricity took the form of flying in the face of some of the prevailing social currents of the day, but as a reactionary, never as a reformer.  He produced a gasp of admiring astonishment in fashionable circles by refusing to paint actresses--except, of course, those who had left the legitimate drama to appear between the boards of Debrett.  He absolutely declined to execute portraits of Americans unless they hailed from certain favoured States.  His “water-colour-line,” as a New York paper phrased it, earned for him a crop of angry criticisms and a shoal of Transatlantic commissions, and criticism and commissions were the things that Quentock most wanted.

“Of course he is perfectly right,” said Lady Caroline Benaresq, calmly rescuing a piled-up plate of caviare sandwiches from the neighbourhood of a trio of young ladies who had established themselves hopefully within easy reach of it.  “Art,” she continued, addressing herself to the Rev. Poltimore Vardon, “has always been geographically exclusive.  London may be more important from most points of view than Venice, but the art of portrait painting, which would never concern itself with a Lord Mayor, simply grovels at the feet of the Doges.  As a Socialist I’m bound to recognise the right of Ealing to compare itself with Avignon, but one cannot expect the Muses to put the two on a level.”

“Exclusiveness,” said the Reverend Poltimore, “has been the salvation of Art, just as the lack of it is proving the downfall of religion.  My colleagues of the cloth go about zealously proclaiming the fact that Christianity, in some form or other, is attracting shoals of converts among all sorts of races and tribes, that one had scarcely ever heard of, except in reviews of books of travel that one never read.  That sort of thing was all very well when the world was more sparsely populated, but nowadays, when it simply teems with human beings, no one is particularly impressed by the fact that a few million, more or less, of converts, of a low stage of mental development, have accepted the teachings of some particular religion.  It not only chills one’s enthusiasm, it positively shakes one’s convictions when one hears that the things one has been brought up to believe as true are being very favourably spoken of by Buriats and Samoyeds and Kanakas.”

The Rev. Poltimore Vardon had once seen a resemblance in himself to Voltaire, and had lived alongside the comparison ever since.

“No modern cult or fashion,” he continued, “would be favourably influenced by considerations based on statistics; fancy adopting a certain style of hat or cut of coat, because it was being largely worn in Lancashire and the Midlands; fancy favouring a certain brand of champagne because it was being extensively patronised in German summer resorts.  No wonder that religion is falling into disuse in this country under such ill-directed methods.”

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The Unbearable Bassington from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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