Mere Mortals?

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations--these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of the kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously - no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinners - no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat, the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.

C.S. Lewis: The Weight of Glory

Tash, in 1931?

[Do I detect a whiff of Tash in this passage from Charles Williams?]

Her voice failed; she heard herself making grotesque noises in her throat, and suddenly over him there fell the ominous shadow... only for a few seconds, then it passed on, and he emerged from it, and his face was towards her, but now it had changed.  Now it was like a vile corpse, and yet still it was uttering things: it croaked at her in answer to her own croakings, strange and meaningless words… croak, croak, croak.  He was coming towards her, and she was trying to run away; and now the blackness had fallen on them both, and the horrid presence of that other filthy being had swept down.  She shrieked and stumbled and fell and it caught her.

Something touched her face: something swept her arm; something enveloped and weighed against her heart.  Her eyes were shut; she had no power to look again.  Her brain was dazed; she had no power to think.  Her mouth was panting horribly; and from it, wrenched by a physical power from a physical consciousness, there came one last and feeble and continuous effort to call Anthony.  "An... An... A... A... A..." she was saying, and the effort became mere gasps as she shook and shrank.  There was something which could save her - something if that something would come.  She lay in a heap and the great flap of great wings beat over her, and she felt them pressing her, and something had hurt her head.  "A... A... A..." she went on moaning, and claws pressed the back of her neck, dreadful, horrible claws.  The smell was working within her… and the wings lifted and again caught her.  She was on her face on the marshy ground, and she was being forced over.  As well as she could she hid herself, but it was all in vain.  There was nothing round her but a hideous and vile corruption, nothing, nothing except a vibration that went rhythmically through her, as if-almost from somewhere within her-a horse were galloping.  And then she heard her name.

Charles Williams
The Place of the Lion (1931)
Chapter Eleven : The Conversion Of Damaris Tighe

Fingolfin at the Gates of Angband

[Image: Sam King]

Fingolfin like a shooting light
beneath a cloud, a stab of white,
sprang then aside, and Ringil drew
like ice that gleameth cold and blue,
his sword devised of elvish skill
to pierce the flesh with deadly chill.
With seven wounds it rent his foe,
and seven mighty cries of woe
rang in the mountains, and the earth quook,
and Angband's trembling armies shook.
Yet Orcs would after laughing tell
of the duel at the gates of hell;
though elvish song thereof was made
ere this but one—when sad was laid
the mighty king in barrow high,
and Thorndor, Eagle of the sky,
the dreadful tidings brought and told
to mourning Elfinesse of old.
Thrice was Fingolfin with great blows
to his knees beaten, thrice he rose
still leaping up beneath the cloud
aloft to hold star-shining, proud,
his stricken shield, his sundered helm,
the dark nor might could overwhelm
till all the earth was burst and rent
in pits about him. He was spent.
His feet stumbled. He fell to wreck
upon the ground, and on his neck
a foot like rooted hills was set,
and he was crushed—not conquered yet;
one last despairing stroke he gave:
the mighty foot pale Ringil clave
about the heel, and black the blood
gushed as from smoking fount in flood.

J.R.R. Tolkien
The Geste of Beren and LĂșthien
(lines 3,574 to 3607)

The original Bag End

This ancient trackway leads to Bag End Farm. The farm was owned by the Tolkien's Aunt, Jane Neave, and in 1923 the young Tolkien, recovering from pneumonia, spent a good deal of time here.

Never underestimate the power of the Midlands countryside over an impressionable young mind... a couple of decades later, Bag End resurfaced in The Hobbit.

In Tolkien's words: "It [Bag End] was the local name for my aunt's farm in Worcestershire, which was at the end of a lane leading to it and no further..."

In England there are many hundreds of places, often deep in the countryside, that are called 'End'... they are often farms, and basically mean a place that leads to no other.

Wild Beasts

[Another Charles Williams excerpt - for which I certainly do not apologise.  I have been re-reading "Place of the Lion" after many years, and have found it more enriching than I remembered.  It certainly is worth seeking out a copy]

In that movement they were upon him.  Quicker than he to recover, swifter than he to realize his escape, drawing more easily on the Powers they knew, they came at him while he still drew the first deep breath of release.  The woman slid in one involved movement from the chair in which she had sat half-coiled, and from where she lay on the floor at his feet her arms went up, her hands clutching at his legs, and twisted themselves round his waist.  At the same time the man sprang forward and upward, hands seizing Anthony's shoulders, head thrust forward as if in design upon his throat.  Anthony was aware of their attack just before it caught him, hardly in time, yet just in time, to throw himself forward to meet it.  His rising forearm struck the man's jaw with sufficient force to divert the head whose mouth champed viciously at him, but the woman's fast hold on his body prevented him from shaking himself free of the fingers that drove into his shoulders like claws.  He heaved mightily forward, and drove upward again with his forearm, but their bodies were too close for him to get any force into the blow.  His foot struck, stumbled, and as he freed and lifted it, trod on a rounded shape that writhed beneath it.  All round him in the room were noises of hissing and snarling, and as he staggered aside in the effort to regain his footing the hot breath of one adversary panted into his face, so that it seemed to him as if he struggled in the bottom of some loathly pit where foul creatures fought for their prey.  And he was their prey, unless...

He felt himself falling, and cried out; the tightening pressure round his body choked the cry in mid-utterance, and something slid yet higher round his chest.  In a tumultuous conflict he crashed to the ground, but sideways, so that as he lay he was able to twist himself face downwards and save his throat.  He felt his collar wrenched off and nails tearing at his neck; a twisting weight writhed over him from his shoulders downwards.  For a second he lay defeated, then all his spirit within him cried out "No," and thrust itself in that single syllable from his mouth.  His arms at least had been freed in his fall; he pressed his hands against the floor and with a terrific effort half raised himself.  The man creature, at this abandoning its tearing at his neck, came at him again from one side.  Anthony put all the energy he had left into one tremendous outward sweep of his arm, rather as if he flung a great wing sideways.  He felt his enemy give before it and heard the crash that marked the collapse of an unstable balance.  His own balance was barely maintained, but his hand in its swift return touched the hair of the woman's head, and caught it and fiercely pulled and wrenched till the clasping arms released their hold and for a moment his body was free.  In that moment he came to his feet, and lightly as some wheeling bird turned and poised for any new attack.  But his enemies lay still, their shining eyes fixed upon him, their hands scrabbling on the floor.  The hissing and snarling which all this while had been in his ears ceased gradually; he became aware, as he stepped watchfully backward, of the sedate room in which that horrible struggle had gone on.  He took another cautious step away, and bumped into the chair on which he had been sitting, and the jerk restored him to his ordinary self.  He looked, and saw Miss Wilmot sitting, half-coiled up, on a rug, and Mr.  Foster, her visitor, on one knee near to her, as if he were about to pick up a book that lay not far off.  With alert eyes on them Anthony suddenly swooped and lifted it.  He remembered what it was without looking.

"I was wrong," he said aloud, and smiling, "it's perfectly up-to-date. So sorry to be a nuisance, but I still stick to my own hypothesis.  You might think it over.  Goodnight, Miss Wilmot, I'll see myself out.  Goodnight, Foster, give my love to the lion."

Charles Williams
The Place of the Lion (1931)
Chapter Seven : Investigations Into A Religion

Another passage that seems, well, Narnian

[Illustration by Pauline Baynes for "The Wood Between the Worlds"]

"Now this world in which they exist is truly a real world, and to see it is a very difficult and dangerous thing, but our master held that it could be done, and that the man was very wise who would consecrate himself to this end as part - and the chief part - of his duty on earth. He did this, and I, as much as I can, have done it."

"But I haven't done it," Anthony said. "And therefore how can that world - if there is one - be seen by me and people like me?"

"As for that," the other answered, "there are many people who have disciplined and trained themselves more than they know, but that is not the point now. I know that this man was able sometimes to see into that world, and contemplate the awful and terrible things within it, feeding his soul on such visions; and he could even help others towards seeing it, as he has done me on occasions. But as I told you just now, since these powers exhibit their nature much more singly in the beasts, so there is a peculiar sympathy between the beasts and them. Generally, matter is the separation between all these animals which we know and the powers beyond. But if one of those animals should be brought within the terrific influence of one particular idea - to call it that - very specially felt through a man's intense concentration on it."

He paused, and Anthony said: "What then?"

"Why then", the other said, "the matter of the beast might be changed into the image of the idea, and this world, following that one, might all be drawn into that other world. I think this is happening."

Charles Williams
The Place of the Lion
(Victor Gollancz, 1931)