Writing from the Heart...
Andrew Lightfoot recalls one of the greatest literary naturalists of all time.
FEW 19th century British writers have influenced the spiritual beliefs of our movement more than Richard Jefferies, who, throughout his short but intense life, displayed the most consuming love for the countryside and for the souls who lived and worked there. So much so that it brought him poverty and exhaustion which degenerated into tuberculosis to cause his untimely death. "The hours when the mind is absorbed by beauty", he wrote in his illness, "are the only hours when we really live, so that the longer we can stay among these things, so much the more is snatched from inevitable Time. This is real life, and all else is illusion, or mere endurance."
Jefferies' background was ordinary and unassuming. He was born on 6th November 1848 in the small village of Coate, near Devizes, in Wiltshire. The Jefferies family were small-holders owning Coate Farm but their position had altered and Richard spent much of his adolescence with an aunt in Sydenham, in the suburbs of London. His father had to become a gardener in Bath, Somersetshire, and the farm was sold.
Richard Jefferies, 1848-1887
Photographed at the age of thirty when he had started to achieve fame as a nature writer.
Jefferies' interest in the countryside was first stimulated by his father, a patriotic, principled man, who showed him all the wonders of England's natural heritage. After a basic, though sound training in the 'three Rs', such as was provided by the education system of the period, he entered journalism at the age of eighteen and spent ten years in the offices of the North Wilts Herald. As his leaning toward the countryside increased he made the decision to devote his life to its study and, with this in mind, wrote a letter to The Times (1872) about the labourers of Wiltshire. Printed in full, it won him excellent publicity, and from then onwards he was regarded as an authority on country life.
His first nature book was The Gamekeeper at Home, published in 1878. It, like Wildlife in a Southern County, which followed it a year later, is still popular, and secured his fame as the greatest literary naturalist of the 19th century, though his remuneration was small. His other best known works are probably The Amateur Poacher (1880), Wood Magic (1881), Bevis (1882), The Story of My Heart (1883), and The Life of the Fields (1884) － all set in the downlands of his beloved Wiltshire. What makes Jefferies' talent all the more extraordinary is the fact that much of his work was penned when he was suffering from tuberculosis of the lungs and the bowels － a disease which killed so many of our ancestors.
There can be no doubt that Jefferies' autobiographical work, The Story of My Heart, an account of his innermost feelings, is as stirring and evocative as any tour de force of the English language; it influenced many writer, including Kenneth Grahame, Henry Williamson (an active supporter of the British Union of Fascists), and W.H. Hudson (who wrote Nature in Downland in the room where Jefferies died).
In sentences of considerable ease and energy, he recounts how Liddington Hill, with its old fortress, was his secret boyhood den, where he used to dissociate himself from the body and become absorbed into the countryside:
"I was utterly alone with the sun and the earth. Lying down on the grass. I spoke in my soul to the earth, the sun, the air, and the distant sea far beyond sight. I thought of the earth's firmness － I felt it bear me up; through the grassy couch there came an influence as I could feel the great earth speaking to me. I thought of the wandering air － its pureness, which is its beauty; the air touched me and gave me something of itself.
I had my face in the grass. I was wholly prostrated, I lost myself in the wrestle. I was rapt and carried away."
For those, and perhaps only for those, who believe in the spiritual life-preserver of devotion to race and nation, it is impossible not to succumb to the pathos of The Story of My Heart, not to picture Jefferies, even now, surveying the "broad plain, beautiful with wheat, and enclosed by a perfect amphitheatre of green hills."
Jefferies' charm also lies in the minute description of natural sights and sounds; these opening words of The July Grass are a good example: "A July fly went sidewise over the long grass. His wings made a burr about him like a net, beating so fast they wrapped him round with a cloud."
Uninterested in money, Jefferies was never a man to seek financial happiness. As he once admitted, "I have no desire to make money ... it is enough to be on the grass in the shadow of green boughs, to listen to the songs of summer, to drink in the sunlight, the air, the flowers, the sky, the beauty of all." Yet his joy contained emotions which the be-sandalled hypocrites of the Green Party et al would call 'Nazi'; he did not love the countryside merely because of its treasury of beauty and wildlife. Beneath his aesthetic awareness there flowered a sturdy, steadfast, inherent love of his native country, the land of his ancestors. "I do not want change", he declared, "I want the same old and loved things."
Because he cared above all for England, he cared also for the British people. He had their welfare at heart. He hated the grimy industrialism which transformed England from an agricultural to a manufacturing country. He knew about farming techniques, trees, folklore, and home-brewed beer. He wrote about the ploughman who would seek shelter during a storm only under an oak; of the craftsmanship of the village blacksmith; and of the tinker earning a living "on his small portable anvil, with two or three cottagers' children － sturdy, yellow-haired youngsters － intently watching the mystery of the craft."
Like William Cobbett and G.K. Chesterton, he understood the richness of a rural life; he believed that children should be reared close to nature, not in urban sprawl. As he wrote in The Amateur Poacher, "Let us get out of these indoor, narrow, modern days, whose twelve hours somehow have become shortened, into the sunlight and the pure air. A something that the ancients thought divine can be found and felt there still." In Wood Magic, a boy (white of course) is seen at one with the heritage of the countryside; A.A. Milne's Christopher Robin stories were inspired by the idealism of this book.
What shines in Jefferies' work is the image of rural morality and of the age of innocent childhood which today's youngsters, corrupted from the moment they can operate the television set, are denied. For the children of Merry England, Bros and Kylie Minogue had not been spawned; video films and slot-machines deadened their souls not at all. They were not 'products' of a junk food, drugs and violence society; they appreciated their treats, not took them for granted; they skipped round the maypole on the village green; they sang in the church choir; they had never seen a Negro; they were poor but happy.
For years now of course the Nation's enemies, with their control of our entire mass media (television, radio, the cinema, press and publishing), have well understood that if children － the parents of tomorrow － are bombarded with a constant flow of lewd 'entertainment', ranging from anti-marriage films to gutter press titillation, they become desensitized and incapable of any higher idealism － programmed to indulge in sex and jungle music, while their Motherland rots around them.
A recent survey found that 80 per cent of young Britons, aged between 13 and 17, believed girls under 16 should be able to get contraceptive advice from doctors without needing to inform their parents. This is a measure of the damage done by the slimy creatures who have injected such poison into our land. For there is no doubt at all who is responsible for Britain's degeneration. Nor is there any doubt that they will be brought to justice and given the punishment treason incurs.
Richard Jefferies, who must be turning in his grave, died at his cottage at Goring-by-Sea, West Sussex, on 14th August 1887, the summer Queen Victoria celebrated her golden jubilee. He was only thirty-eight. The appellation "Prose-Poet of England's Fields and Woodlands" is inscribed on the side of his grave in Broadwater Cemetery, Worthing. And on Barbury, high on the Marlborough Downs, is a memorial stone with the inscription:
It is eternity now
I am in the midst
of it. It is about
me in the sunshine.
After reading every volume by Jefferies that I could find in my local libraries, I realised that the National Front is actually fighting his battle. Without any shadow of doubt, Richard Jefferies marches with us, in spirit. Should you dispute what I say, then climb one of his favourite hills － Whitehorse Hill, Tan Hill or Liddington Hill － on a sunny summer's day, or even in the winter, and ask yourself the question: had he lived in the late 20th century, would he have supported a system that is turning Britain into a concrete cesspit inhabited by rootless mulattoes or a movement that seeks to preserve the land and the people he loved and re-establish a rural civilization? What would have been unimaginable in the Britain of Richard Jefferies － namely, the outright extinction of the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic people － treason and complacency have made possible.