Childermass knew the world. Childermass knew what games the children on street-corners are playing – games that all other grown-ups have long since forgotten. Childermass knew what old people by firesides are thinking of, though no one has asked them in years. Childermass knew what young men hear in the rattling of the drums and the tooting of the pipes that make them leave their homes and go to be soldiers – and he knew the half-eggcupful of glory and the barrelful of misery that await them. Childermass could look at a smart attorney in the street and tell you what he had in his coat-tail pockets. And all that Childermass knew made him smile; and some of what he knew made him laugh out loud; and none of what he knew wrung from him so much as a ha´pennyworth of pity.
From S. Clarkes novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell
Clarke has pointed out Childermass as her own favourite, and the one that will be her next lead character if she should decide to write us more stories from her, in a strange way historically accurate but by magic made transparent England.
Art by luciocrescent