… says the elaborately decorated stained-glass window at the landing outside our bedroom in Cambridge.
UD thought: A nice thought for a house to which you retire each day after high-level government and academic battle. As did, I suppose, its last mucho-mucho-eminent owner.
(UD has visited the house a few times over the years, but had never been on the second floor, which is where the window is.)
The full couplet, from The Faerie Queen (Joseph Conrad put this version on his gravestone) goes like this:
Sleep after toyle, port after stormie seas,
Ease after warre, death after life, does greatly please.
Which gives it a less domestic, more cosmic, dusting…
Altogether, Maison des UDs (for a few days) seems to have functioned as Paul Fussell’s primary model for his chapter on houses of the upper classes. Fussell quotes Veblen on the main principle in play: “the veneration of the archaic.” The walls of most rooms retain the carefully preserved shells of some ancient servant-summoning technology; a circa 1950 refrigerator glimmers out of the darkness adjacent to an updated kitchen; the bones of those phones they use in old movies (Doc? You better get here on the double!) are strewn here and there.
I’m sure the views out of various windows are spectacular in the spring; but as usual UD is in Cambridge during its long dreary winter, so the setting is all about drab bushes and pale wasted lawns…