In Praise of Saki
Today's Telegraph reminded me that last Tuesday (14 November) saw the 90th anniversary of the death of H.H.Munro (better known by his pen name 'Saki'), who rivals Oscar Wilde as one of the wittiest authors produced by this country. He had joined the army during WWI, despite being over age, and was killed by a German sniper as he hid in a shell crater. A comrade had alerted the enemy to their presence by smoking and Saki's last recorded words are said to have been: 'put that bloody cigarette out.'
As a modest commemoration of Saki, I include below a few of my favourite quotes:
'Isn't there a bishop or somebody who believes we shall meet all the animals we have known on earth in another world? How frightfully embarrassing to meet a whole shoal of whitebait you had last known at Prince's! I'm sure in my nervousness I should talk of nothing but lemons. Still, I daresay they would be quite as offended if one hadn't eaten them. I know if I were served up at a cannibal feast I should be dreadfully annoyed if anyone found fault with me for not being tender enough, or having been kept too long.'
'People may say what they like about the decay of Christianity; the religious system that produced green Chartreuse can never really die.'
'Every reformation must have its victims. You can't expect the fatted calf to share the enthusiasm of the angels over the prodigal's return.'
'The young have aspirations that never come to pass, the old have reminiscences of what never happened. It's only the middle-aged who are really conscious of their limitations - that is why one should be so patient with them.'