Breadth of Nature


Our three heroes and the Toad, illustrated for Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 treasure by Ernest H Shepard

The Wind in the Willows is one of those enchanting tales in which one finds all human life: that is to say, the full panoply of personable characteristics is laid out with gorgeous humanity.

We concentrate on the thin-skinned Toad, the proud and loquacious Toad, the gracious and affable Mr Toad, the …

Part of Toad’s irresistible appeal is the charmingly frank-while-often-only-fleeting-acknowledgement of his excesses. Deep within his substantial form beats a kind and generous heart and that generosity of spirit makes him, somehow, immutably unimpeachable.

© Estate of E.H. Shepard

After splashing about in the pool of his own hubristic harmartia, it dawns on the traffic-quelling Terror that his passions lead nowhere but downfall. Brushes with prison, mottled-arm-barge-women, Wild Wooders (and loyal friends) show that doing the right thing for the long-term is always the right thing to do, no matter how hard it seems in the short-term.

Toad’s quintessential self comprises vivacious appetites, eruptive joie’d’vie and a compassionate empathy for the plight of others. His nature wraps around a breadth of character which spans cheerfully guile-less charm to rogue-ish intrigue. He is never mean-spirited, spite-full, mercenary nor spineless. This, mebbie, is why we never tire of his derring-do’s?*

You’ll notice we haven’t mentioned the #Resident of the United States in these pages for a while.

* grammatically, do’s is clearly a shocker but we can’t work out how it ought be written.