Town mouse on Google Books

I don’t know if you’ve tried the digitised library Google Books yet. I have to admit my final verdict could be coloured by the settlement that the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society achieves with Google, but meanwhile, as an homme moyen sensuel who cannot resist dipping into an unparallelled bran tub of literary content, it is full of riches too much so at times.

For example, I have just keyed in Pimlico, where we live. ‘A name of gardens of public entertainment, often mentioned by our early dramatists,’ opines John Timbs in Curiosities of London, 1856, a work that I would never otherwise have encountered.

In Newes from Hogsdon, 1598: ‘Have at thee, then, my meerrie boys, and hey for old Ben Pimlico’s nut-browne!’ Give over. I am less enamoured of G. K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy. ‘Let us suppose we are confronted with a desperate thing say Pimlico,’ writes the old fool. ‘It is not enough for a man to disapprove of Pimlico: in that case he will merely cut his throat or move to Chelsea…

The only way out of it seems to be for somebody to love Pimlico… If there arose a man who loved Pimlico, then Pimlico would rise into ivory towers and golden pinnacles; Pimlico would attire herself as a woman does when she is loved.’ I’m not entirely sure what he’s driving at, but I lay down the gauntlet: Chesterton, I am that man.