Online Library

Picturesque England

Picturesque England in Lay and Legend, Song and Story, that's what it said on the long decayed spine. I was about 12, wandering aimlessly around a church fete somewhere in Beecroft. I don't know why I bought it, something about the sense of solidity and safety ofthe thing appealed to me.

This book is a masterpiece of studied Victorian manners. Where the Household Cyclopedia eagerly imparts the necessary information for survival and profit on a frontier where everything has to be made or bought in bulk and traded with your neighbours, Picturesque England depicts a misty Albion, studded with noble ruins, where every tree and crossroads is the site of an ancient battle. The woodcuts are amazing. They nearly always show the presence of some overdressed women in bustles and yards of crinoline, or gentlemen in top hats and greatcoats, stiffly standing amongst the ruins of an ancient castle or abbey.

The book describes what seems to be a tour, or tours, of the historic landmarks of England, undertaken by a party of several people. The descriptions of the landmarks they visit seem to indicate continuity, and the author often inserts details regarding the party he travels with, which included children and an artist whose sketches must have served as the originals for the woodcuts. You could use this book as the guide for a grand tour of England, and I am considering adding a map with the landmarks plotted in sequence, although such a thing was never part of the book originally.

I hope you enjoy reading this work as much as I enjoyed converting it to a website.

One day while wandering through the Saturday markets in Glebe, Sydney, I spotted an interesting book on one of the stalls. Bound in decaying leather, with loose pages spilling from within, and "The Household Cyclopedia" in faded gold on the frayed spine. The text inside was small, but quite legible. The pages where only slightly splotched with stains. It was only $10. I paid.

What a bargain! It was soon evident that this was no ordinary book. It was the sort of book a pioneer of the old west would have packed carefully into his covered wagon before heading off for a boondock town. It was a book for people who need to be able, if the circumstances demand, to amputate a limb, grow their own fibre for material, take care of their horses, give birth to children, and build houses, concoct medicines, all with the minimum of help from others.

I work as a web designer, freelancing, and recently my clients have often left me hanging for weeks without notification. This is not a good thing, if you are a nail chewing workaholic like me. Games, even excellent ones like Descent, Doom or Sim City, only satisfy me for so long. They leave no tangible residue, for all the effort they demand. There had to be something better to do, to stop from going mad. One day, looking around for something to justify the time I was spending with an idle computer and perfectly good net account, I noticed the Cyclopedia again. How good it would be, I thought, if the contents of this noble tome were freely available to the world...

Welcome to the Percy Anecdotes. Within this site you will find much to amuse you, maybe something profound, maybe something educational. You can never tell. You may have come here because you knew of this work, or more likely, you were drawn here as a result of your online searches. If the latter, I hope you found what you wanted.

I love the internet. I like to play on it, to experiment with what it can do. It's been a profitable hobby; over the years I've learnt enough to become a highly paid webmaster. In fact, it all started with a book. Down was a novel I wrote in 1994. Unpublished (and rightly so, I must say), there was nothing to do but cast it onto the net. The techniques I learnt from doing that caught me my first decent job.

I feel a desire to give something back to the net. This means giving something to the people who inhabit the net. "It is better to upload, than to download", that sort of thing. I wish I could lend you my copy of this book, an attractive old quarto bound volume in red cloth. The text is extremely small, and performing a search requires reading the entire thing, so I think you'll enjoy this online version more. Plus there's no hassle about returning it! In fact, I designed this site to make it easy to save copies of the text to your own computer.