"A born writer, especially a born story-teller. Dr. Sutherland, who is distinguished in medicine, is an amateur in the sense that he only writes when he has nothing better to do. But when he does, it could hardly be done better." G.K. Chesterton.
The Arches of the Years was included in the Publishers Weekly list in 1933 and was perhaps Halliday Sutherland’s most successful book.
The title is taken from the second line of a poem by Francis Thompson—The Hound of Heaven—which begins:
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes, I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears.
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase.
And unperturbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
“All ‘things betray thee, who betrayest Me.”
Thompson lived between 1859 and 1907. In 1885 he moved to London but his plans did not work out and he failed to secure work in the profession he had aimed for. He became an opium addict and slept rough under Charing Cross bridge. He was rescued by a prostitute who looked after him and shared her earnings with him. When Thompson became recognised as a poet, the prostitute faded into the background because she did not want her profession to taint his fame.
Photo credit: Fröken Focus / www.frokenfokus.se
The photograph below shows the title page for an early version of the manuscript that became The Arches of the Years. The eventual title was an improvement on Say, Could that Lad be I? and Recaptured Youth, and it also provides an insight into Sutherland’s life journey.