Richard Le Gallienne, « On playing at House and Garden From Childhood to Old Age the game of home creation retains its Vital and Elemental Human Appeal », House & Garden, vol. 53, New York, 1928, p. 234.
There is no game that children love so much as playing at house, and the wisest and happiest of grow-up children also love that game best.
Compared with it, other games are either feverish escapes from the ennui of living, artificial devices to hide our sadness even from ourselves-and this applies even to such honored games of the higher mathematics as chess and poker- or they are slightly disguised hygienic exercises such as golf, grimly pursued in a losing fight with the liver or old age.
All such games are abstracts, purposeful, moralistic even. They are not play in that real sensée of the world, instructive and rather mysterious, which applies to the pretty spontaneous gambols of all young life, the rhythmic antics of puppies, kitten, even baby rattle-snakes. There is no real human joy in them, no music, no dream. They have no roots so to say; they are not vitally concerned with humanity, as for instance, the game of a little girl playing with her dolls. But playing at house at whatever age we play it, is just such a vital, natural, elemental game. Playing at house- and garden ; for a house without a garden is hardly a house, as indeed a garden without a house is hardly a garden except in a technical horticultural sense.
The 18 th century poet Cowley-whose poetry is long since unread but whose essays it is our own loss if we do not read- was speaking for others besides himself when be expressed his desire to « be master at last of a small house and large garden ». So when we play at house, our game is incomplete unless we play at garden as well. If we are city-dwellers-unless it be our good fortune to live in some old European city, such as Paris- it is not easy to play at both. Though, if we are domiciled on the top-floor, we may, in any city, enjoy one of the most
Fascinating gardens of all, the roof-garden, as some wise New Yorkers, with « hanging-gardens » twenty stories and more up in the sky, will not need to be told.
As I said above, the game of house and garden can be played at. .
Any age, and there is something pathetic in the persistence, with which quite old people go on playing it till the very end, creating new homes to match their individual needs and tastes, which in the nature of things they can occupy for so short a time.
Fortunately, however such considerations never seem to trouble them, and indeed, if we allowed the brevity of human life to Influence us, very few enterprises would be undertaken at all, even by the young. In this respect young and old alike remind one of those caddis-worms which we have all seen moving along at the pebbly bottoms of shallow streams, those larvae of the caddis-fly which for the short period between worm and fly, build themselves tiny moving houses of bits and stick and leaves and grains of glittering sand, within which they await their metempsychosis into the world of sun and breeze.
The comparison is fitting also in the respect- that none of these tiny houses are alike.
Individual choice has mysteriously entered into the construction of each one. And so with human-beings. However small the house they play at buiding, its creators aim at « the individual note » features of various kinds which they fondly dream express them and no else in the world.
If they are not able to build it externally according to their wishes, at least they can make it internally characteristic of themselves, and just as the caddis-worm selects bits of this and that from the bottom of the stream, they select from curiosity shops, and furnishing stores of all kinds, just that old oak, those old rugs, old china, glass, pewter, old prints and so forth which, brought together by their creative choice, result in a harmony which means their homes and no other home in the world.