Godolphin Revisited – Spring Term 1918


Many of my visits to Fairyland have been from here; but generally fleeting, and shyly given, with secrecy laid upon them. On Midsummer Day the fairy doors are opened with unwonted ease, at any rate to true believers, and what local papers might in their blindness have described as “a successful Charity Entertainment” was in reality a feast of faery to a hungry daughter of Godolphin. The School itself gave the material for the magic; there lay the old setting the Laverstock Down, with the worn path up its steep back, and just now tipped with the gold of mustard fields, the elms and beeches, and as foreground the cropped hedges, and the “San border,” all gay with roses and delphiniums, presently blotted out by a procession of colour which was of fitting beauty to lift us to another world. Stalwart and fair and courtly indeed were these sons and daughters of a strange land and in their presence even we unworthy mortals of to-day might see in open sunlight, with no room for doubt of the truth of the vision, the undying loveliness of joy and delight, the indestructible spirit of merriment. “How many things shall we want?” I heard a chance voice say beforehand ;and as the aero­planes curved and dipped overhead and butterflies and dragonflies flitted on the grass, there was a quick link of thought which could not jar: How busy Puck’s merry spirit has been these stern years helping to bring our boys that irrepressible fun and cheeriness which has been a marvel to us; and how many “Grace Darlings in pinafores, Gordons in socks” were hid among these entrancing butterflies and dragonflies, to carry on the New England to be? No mortal may describe or seek to lay values on the parts of Fairyland: it was a vision-and therefore right and as it should be-the Fairy King and Queen were the perfect height and of a grace and character it would be impertinence to praise; and Puck was Puck and no longer words would say more; and all the fairies were just flights of loveliness and grace, happy gifts to us of untutored play and delight. One wee gem among them tempts me to break all fairy law and pick her out for special words of gratitude, I will quote Blake instead: “Joy is my name-Sweet joy befall thee.”

Even visions have a moral: What forethought and planning made Puck lead some unknowing farmer to sow that mustard? Obviously it was there to match our fairy mustard seed and suggest by its glint in the background what Down these sprites hailed from.

May we all lay our plans as deep, tend them as secretly, and give them as lavishly as do fairies on Godolphin’s Hill.