Although they are pictures of houses, and a few of village streets or of fields of flowers, there is always a great deal of nature in them. The settings are as important as the structures. There are also people in most of them, and frequently animals as well, particularly cats. They convey an impression of a tranquil and idyllic life that must have aroused great longing in the Edwardian breast. Even in those years before western civilization dealt itself what may yet prove to have been a mortal blow in the form of the first world war, those who could afford to buy books were apparently nostalgic for what they imagined was a somehow superior way of life which had been lost.
I must admit that the allure of these scenes is great, even for this admirer of the city. Doves perched on thatch roofs, cats washing themselves on rough stoops, half-wild beds of flowers by inviting doorways, hedgerows, picket gates swinging open, cobbled lanes free of traffic, ancient trees shading half-timbered wall, translucent wisps of smoke rising from brick chimneys; I am drawn in to that vanished world which never truly existed outside the early modern imagination. Nostalgia was certainly one of the greatest inventions of the industrial age, and one which remains, to this day, very much a part of the public domain.