Hermit crabs

May 28 2015

The ʿOsmanlis […] despised armour – perhaps on account of their own proficiency in the use of long-range missile weapons. (They inherited an aptitude for archery from their Nomad ancestors, and they took kindly to fire-arms.) The Janissaries [infantry] wore no armour at all, and the Sipahis [cavalry] seldom bothered to take any with them when they started on a campaign, since they counted upon being able to capture all that they wanted from the enemy. When they did wear armour acquired in this way, the Sipahis made a point of choosing pieces that did not fit, in order to show that they were hermit-crabs.

A Study of History, Vol III, OUP, 1934 (footnote)

Leonardo and digital death

May 27 2015

“Eschew a line of study in which the work done dies together with the worker.” [Footnote: “Fuggi quello studio del quale la resultante opera more insieme coll’ operante d’essa” – Leonardo da Vinci, in The Literary Works of Leonardo da Vinci, compiled and edited from the original MSS. by J. P. Richter, 2nd ed. (Oxford 1939, University Press, 2 vols.), vol. ii, p. 244, No. 1169.]

So don’t blog. There are no defences against the whims of providers and obsolescence of software.

A Study of History, Vol X, OUP, 1954

Rush-hour in Hong Kong

May 26 2015

The third of Abram Chasins’s Three Chinese Pieces (1926). The other two are A Shanghai Tragedy and (for white keys) Flirtation in a Chinese Garden.

Gullivior has run together four performances:

Abram Chasins (piano roll) (00:00)
Benno Moiseiwitsch (01:32)
Shura Cherkassky (02:56)
Constance Keene (04:33)

Chasins isn’t the best, perhaps because of the piano roll. What subtle thing gives a piano roll away? Keene was his wife.

I heard this on Cathay Pacific circa 1987 (during Cathay’s better days). The classical audio channel’s presenter was Edward Greenfield, who was still, in his companionable radio voice, quaintly referring to his selections of “gramophone records”.

Film about Greenfield. He was a kind of opposite number, at the Guardian, to Michael Kennedy at the Telegraph.

Egypt and India, 1915

May 26 2015

It was easy for an Indian to be Panislamist in 1915, more difficult for an Arab. The Panislamism stirred up during the war by the Young Turks was at odds with Arab nationalism and Panarabism.

The Indian Moslem is misled by his own experience. In India Islam is a nationality. Its professors may have been Arab, Persian, Afghan or Mogul when they came as conquerors to the country, yet now they are one blood, bound together by the common menace of Hindu race-hatred. Conditions are different in the Ottoman Empire. The menace of the Unbeliever is here imperfectly realised, and national antagonisms find an arena within the “Bulwark of Islam.” Our educated Indian Panislamist should talk to an educated Panarab from Egypt, if he wishes to discover how Moslems of Arab speech feel towards the political ambitions of their Turkish co-religionists.

The Egyptian will agree with the Indian emphatically, that the rule of the European is a humiliation for Islam, and that British administration, however beneficial or even necessary it may be for the moment, [footnote: Though, except for the work of the irrigation engineers, he will have much less good to say of it than the Indian.] must be no more than a transitory phase in the long history of Egypt and India; but he will tell him that he has experienced one thing worse than British occupation, and that was the tyranny of the Turkish official class, which Great Britain ended just a generation ago. “It is only when I think what we suffered from the Turk,” he will conclude, “that I can find it in my heart to tolerate his British successor.”

There is, of course, an element of propaganda here, despite Toynbee’s explicit anti-imperialism even as he was doing official war work.

Egypt, Iran and Palestine had an especially bad experience with the British, but were never officially colonies.

See Sidney PeelBritish Administration and Irrigation in Egypt, Political Science Quarterly, Vol 20, No 3, September 1905, pp 513-534, at JSTOR here without charge or other restriction. Worth reading and by a grandson of Robert Peel.

India’s feeling of solidarity with Egypt is conveyed, in the language of the time, in the chapter called Egypt’s Fight for Freedom in Nehru’s answer to Wells, Glimpses of World History (1934).

Nationality and the War, Dent, 1915

Malankara Orthodox

May 25 2015

Random eastern Christian.

Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, or Indian Orthodox Church: Oriental Orthodox, West Syrian rite. Not part of the “Greek” Orthodox family. Based in Kottayam, Kerala. Language Malayalam.

Here, Quarbana or Eucharist celebrated by HG Paulose Mar Pachomios, Metropolitan, at St Stephen’s, Kattanam, Kerala. Note the curtain and the furious censer-swinging. The men and women are segregated. No religious person should wear a beard any more. I sympathise a bit with the children.

For my rough guide to eastern Christianities, go here and (for India) here.

Wikipedia pages written by Indians often seem over-engaged and not to see the wood for the trees. The one for this church is an example.

The Melkite Church

May 24 2015

The Melkite Greek Catholic Church uses the Byzantine rite (tradition of Saints John Chrysostom and Basil). The liturgical language is Arabic (and sometimes Greek). Here (no embedding) is a chant performed at the start of Holy Communion, sung in the Saint Paul Basilica, the Melkite cathedral in the Lebanese mountain village of Harissa. You’ll hear the word Allah.

Melkite comes from the Syriac word malkoyo (ܡܠܟܝܐ in the Syriac alphabet‎) and the Arabic malakī (ملكي)‎, meaning royal, and by extension, imperial (ie Byzantine).

Nearby is the Marian shrine Notre Dame du Liban, visited by all Christian denominations. Christians, Druze and Muslims all have a devotion to Mary.

For my rough guide to eastern Christianities, go here and here. I will do a further post on liturgies.

Here, courtesy of KTO, the French-language television channel of the Archbishop of Paris, is Benedict XVI at Harissa in September 2012; he reads an apostolic exhortationEcclesia in Medio Oriente, in French (it came out of his 2010 Special Synod on the Middle East), and signs it:

He also met the Syriac Maronite Patriarchate, Armenian Catholic Patriarchate, Syro-Catholic Patriarchate (Syriac Catholic) and others. Maronites, Armenians and Syrians are the three Catholic churches headquartered in Lebanon.

Saint George Will Prevail

May 23 2015

Strangely enough, I posted the last entry, in a mood of nostalgia for Istanbul while in Beirut, without noticing that one of the subjects of Hamam – lawless property speculators – was being referred to in large neon letters on a derelict building, the Saint-George Hotel, right opposite my hotel.

People remember Beirut before 1975 as they used to remember Tangier and Alexandria before 1956, Saigon before 1954, Berlin before 1939, Shanghai before 1937, Smyrna before 1922, Salonika before 1917 perhaps: a place of lost sensory pleasures. I don’t think Beirut had a reputation for loucheness or decadence, but people speak of the douceur de vivre of those days. “You should have known the city then.”

The Saint-George opened in 1932, under the French. Abdallah El Khoury acquired it in 1958. Khoury is an exclusively Christian name. I assume he was Maronite. It has remained in his family’s possession ever since. When the civil war started, Phalangists occupied it in the Battle of the Hotels. Later, Syrian troops, attempting to pacify the warring Lebanese factions, occupied the burned-out shell.

After the war, the Syrians left the building. An abortive renovation began in 1996. But the rebuilding of Beirut had been charged to a new company called Solidere. “By agreement with the government, Solidere enjoys special powers of eminent domain as well as a limited regulatory authority codified in law, making the company a unique form of public-private partnership.” (Wikipedia)

The Saint-George threatened Solidere’s control of St George Bay. Solidere’s plans were backed by the government of Rafik Hariri, whose family and friends were Solidere’s main shareholders. The government blocked the reconstruction.

On February 14 2005, a car bomb exploded as Hariri drove past. He and twenty-one others, including five Saint-George staff, were killed.

I don’t think that, even in this land of conspiracy theories, the Khoury family have been blamed for the assassination. The road in front of the Saint-George was closed for nearly three years. The electricity and water supply and telephone network cut by the explosion were not repaired. Municipal officers blocked improvements to the Saint-George Yacht Club. Police evicted yachts from its waterfront marina.

Guardian piece about Solidere by Oliver Wainwright, January 22 2015, might fill you with cold rage, but it must also be said that some of Solidere’s planning (perhaps the earlier stages) was good. Some streets and buildings are very pleasant. The substitution of calm pastiche for a gritty, vibrant, older urban landscape has happened in other places.

Other city centres, too, are organised for the rich. Other cities have destroyed fine old buildings during the peace that followed a destructive war. It isn’t only Beirut that has empty shopping malls. For criminality among developers, I doubt whether Beirut compares with Moscow.

Part of the problem is that there is now no Gulf money coming in. Gulf Arabs are no longer comfortable in a country half-pledged to their enemies.

Two Diocletianic soldier-martyrs, St Sebastian and St George, have been irresistible to artists, but St George has the wider and more varied and extravagant cult: paintings, legends, intercessions, veneration, dedications, chivalric orders, romances, shrines, feast days, hagiographies, patronages, flags, remains.

It extended from Palestine and Lebanon through the rest of the East Roman Empire. It appeared early in Georgia. It reached Aragon, Genoa, Venice, Hungary, the Holy Roman Empire, England (Britannia’s trident is like George’s spear upended), Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Malta. It was not confined to western Christianity, but touched, and still touches, the Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox (Miaphysite), Nestorian (East Syrian) and Uniate worlds. And Islam. And it was in St George Bay that George killed the dragon.

The story of the slaying was Eastern in origin, brought back with the Crusaders and retold in the literature of Romance. Beirut says that it happened there, but some accounts say Libya.

The usual depictions of Sebastian and George are complementary, passive and active. Sebastian pierced, George piercing. Arrows and Ascalon. Both were known to Diocletian, if you believe the stories.

George was tortured and decapitated. Sebastian was not killed by the arrows. He recovered and taunted the emperor again, at which point he was beaten to death. He is called twice-martyred.

St Sebastian was born c 256 in the south of France and was appointed a captain of the Praetorian Guard under Diocletian and Maximian, who were unaware that he was a Christian. He was martyred in Rome c 288 before the official persecution got underway. The trigger was his role in the story of the twin brothers Marcus and Marcellian.

We aren’t told much about Sebastian’s background, but George was born c 280 in Palestine to a Greek Christian noble family. His father was an important soldier, known to Diocletian. George presented himself to Diocletian in Nicomedia, the eastern capital under the Tetrarchy. By his late twenties, he had been promoted to the rank of tribune and stationed as an imperial (not Praetorian) guard there. He was executed in Nicomedia (some say at Lydda in Palestine) in 303 at the start of the persecution.

SAINT GEORGE WILL PREVAIL. Taken today. But why will the dragon be slain specifically in 2019?

St George

Other Solidere pieces: here, here, here. On the cult of St George: Helen Gibson, St George the Ubiquitous, Aramco World, November/December 1971.

Old posts:

Sebastião! Protetor do Brasil

The Grand Hotel in Yokohama.


May 22 2015

Pivio and Aldo De Scalzis’ music for Ferzan Özpetek’s 1997 movie Hamam. Memories of Istanbul in the ’80s.

Hashish (old post).

Sufis and Shiites 2

May 21 2015

Ismail I and the Safaviyya order of Sufis were Shiite long before he took power: I have corrected the last post but one.

The Safavi were descended from Safi al-Din (1253-1334) of Ardabil in Azeri-dominated north-western Iran, the head and founder of the Safaviyya. About 1399 the order exchanged its Sunni affiliation for Shia.

Qizilbash anti-Ottoman Shiite militant groups, named after their red headgear, flourished in Azerbaijan, Anatolia and Kurdistan (from when?) and, as members of the order (were all Qizilbash members?), contributed to the foundation of the Safavid dynasty.

Ismail’s father was their leader. He died in battle against Sunni forces when Ismail was a year old.

Ismail emerged to take his father’s position as head of the Qizilbash. In 1501 he took Tabriz and proclaimed himself Shah. He brought all of modern Iran and parts of Iraq and Turkey under his rule.

The non-Osmanli Türkmen tribes in Asia Minor had resented being conquered by the Osmanlis in the fourteenth century and being reconquered by them after having been temporarily liberated by Timur. In 1511 the Ottoman Empire was nearly overthrown once again by a widespread revolt in Asia Minor of Twelve-Imam Shiʿi Türkmen partisans of Shah Ismaʿil, the founder of the Safavi Empire. This revolt was repressed savagely by Selim I in 1512-13. The original Safavi army was composed of corps of Shiʿi emigres from the Türkmen principalities in Asia Minor that had fallen under Ottoman rule. After Shah Ismaʿil’s death in 1524, the turbulence of these Qizilbash (“Red-heads”, so-called from the colour of their headgear) became a plague for Ismaʿil’s successors, though the Shahs of the Safavi Empire were ex officio the spiritual heads of the Sufi religious order in which the tribal regiments of Qizilbash soldiers were enrolled.

So Iranian Shiism was forged partly in opposition to the Ottoman Turks. Turkish, Mongol and Persian ethnicities, languages, cultures and polities meet and overlap: it is easy to distort matters when one applies labels. Toynbee, below, in an early book, calls the Timurids Turkish, but Timur is usually described as Turco-Mongol. He is a successor of the Mongols, but came from a Turkicised Mongol federation, the Barlas.

The “native Persian” Shah Ismail unified Persia through the intolerant imposition of Shiism and a renaissance of Persian culture followed, but, coming from Azerbaijan, he is usually described as being of Turkic stock (though the point is disputed). “Native Persian” is the kind of imprecise nationalistic term Toynbee would have dropped in later books.

“Turco-Mongol” can also be used in a broader sense, to describe the hypothetical common origin of both the Turkic and Mongol peoples which can be found in their common Altaic languages, culture and, to a lesser degree, ethnic and genetic origins.

In the sixteenth century A.D. a native Persian dynasty, the Sufi, which adhered to [the Shiite] sect, swept away the Turkish [Timurid and sub-Timurid] princelings who had divided Iran between them since the Mongol [Il Khan] era. The plateau was united once more in a national state, and once more again the renaissance of Iran expressed itself in religion. The heresy of its kings became the belief of the nation, and under the banner of “Shiism,” Persia kept at bay the hated Turkish powers which hemmed her in on every side and uniformly professed the orthodox “Sunni” faith: Ottoman Turks on the West, Uzbeg Khans upon the Oxus in the North, and the Uzbegs’ Mogul [sic] cousins, who had carved themselves a mighty empire in India upon Persia’s Eastern flank.

I assume that there is an etymological connection between Sufi and Safaviyya or Safavid.

Toynbee does have throughout this book, and with a respectable publisher in 1915, “century A.D.”.

Old post: Osmanli, Safavi, Timurid.

Mankind and Mother Earth, OUP, 1976, posthumous

Nationality and the War, with maps, Dent, 1915

Fall of Palmyra

May 20 2015


Death among the ruins: a major battle was fought between the British and Ottoman empires in 1915 at Ctesiphon.

Sufis and Shiites

May 20 2015

or, Sasanians, Safavis and Sikhs

The history of the Safawis is one example of the historical phenomenon of a would-be universal church becoming militant and paying the penalty of military success by turning into a local state. Other examples are the transformation of the Zoroastrian Church into the Sasanian Empire, and the history of the Sikhs.

The Sufi mystical orders of Islam are mainly Sunni, but some have been influenced by, and adopted by, Ismailis and Twelvers (and Zaidis?). The founder of the Safavid dynasty in Persia, Shah Ismail I, came out of the Iranian Shiite Sufi order of Safaviyya. When he took power, Twelver Shiism became the Persian state religion.

But did Iranian Shiism carry any signs of its founder’s background? Sufism is not popular with the religious authorities in Iran today. For how long did the original order, which had become militant, survive Ismail?

The Sufi challenge to Iran’s clergy, at al-monitor.com.

Posts on Sufism at On an Overgrown Path, sorted by date and not only about music.

Perhaps Sufis will be leaders in the coming reform of Islam.

A Study of History, Vol I, OUP, 1934 (footnote)

Sunni and Shia in India

May 19 2015

The survival of relatively good relations between the Sunnīs and Shīʿīis of India [which he takes as a fact], in contrast to the violent recrudescence of the feud between the two sects throughout the rest of the Iranic World since the generation of Ismāʿīl Shāh Safawī and the Ottoman Sultan Selīm I, is probably due to a combination of factors. For one thing, the subversive effect of Shāh Ismaʿīl’s career upon the life of the other Iranic countries did not extend to Hindustan; for although Ismāʿīl’s career affected Indian history indirectly by leading […] to the invasion of India by Bābur, Bābur […] was a Laodicean in his attitude towards the Sunnī-Shīʿī quarrel. Another manifest ground for the relative tolerance shown by Shīʿīs and Sunnīs towards each other in India is the common consciousness of being members of an Islamic diaspora among a numerically overwhelming majority of Hindus to whom both forms of Islam are equally anathema. Though Bābur reverted to Sunnism after his final expulsion [by Uzbeks] from Transoxania […] [he had flirted with Shiism during his partnership with Safavid Iran], and though his descendants in India remained Sunnīs thereafter, the paramount concern of the Mughals, as of all other Islamic Powers in India, was to maintain as large as possible an inflow of Muslim recruits from Dār-al-Islām to sustain the Islamic ascendancy in Hindustan; and they did not inquire too narrowly into the religious views of the Muslims who responded to their call. Since Iran was the nearest part of Dār-al-Islām to India, and since Iran had become an exclusively Shīʿī country in consequence of the Safawī conquests and the Safawī policy, the Shīʿī contingent in the Muslim immigration into India was considerable. On the other hand, it is noteworthy that although the Muslim masters of Orthodox Christendom were likewise a small minority dispersed among a numerically stronger non-Muslim subject population, this state of affairs did not here deter the Sunnīs from extirpating their Shīʿī coreligionists. The reason for this Ottoman ruthlessness towards the Shīʿah in Anatolia was that Anatolia was far more dangerously exposed than India was to attack by Shāh Ismāʿīl and his successors.

Though Muslims were surely not a minority in Anatolia in 1500.

Post on the arrival of Islam in India (in a wider historical context).

There have been some Indian Shiite dynasties.

A Study of History, Vol I, OUP, 1934 (footnote)

The catacombs and the hills

May 18 2015

When the rising religion of the internal proletariat of the Hellenic World in its universal state was persecuted by the dominant minority, the Roman Imperial authorities were able to suppress the public practice of Christianity, but they failed to suppress Christianity itself: they merely drove it underground. The prohibition of Christian worship on the surface of pagan Rome stimulated the Christians to create for themselves a new Christian Rome in the Catacombs below the surface of the Campagna; and the City of the Catacombs eventually triumphed over the City of the Seven Hills. The Church rose again from the bowels of the earth in order to raise in the City of the Vatican a dome which towers at this day above the Capitol; and the early Latin peasant, who responded to the challenge of his physical environment by breaking in the intractable surface of the Campagna with his plough, was emulated by the latter-day Christian denizen of the Roman slums, who responded to the challenge from his human environment by visiting the Campagna in the secrecy of the night-watches in order to carve a labyrinthine subterranean world of his own out of the solid tufa. The monument of the Latin peasant’s feat is the Roman Empire; the monument of the Christian proletarian’s feat is the Roman Catholic Church.

A Study of History, Vol II, OUP, 1934

Reverberations from the Morea

May 17 2015

Metternich had taken alarm at the outbreak of the Greek insurrection against Ottoman rule in 1821. Clear-sighted as he was according to his own lights, he had divined at once that this repudiation of the Ottoman Pādishāh’s authority by a handful of his Orthodox Christian subjects in the remote Morea was a menace to the authority of the Austrian Kaiser because the Greeks were claiming Western sympathy and assistance for their cause in the name of the Western principle of Nationality. Metternich represented to the Holy Alliance [whose other members were Russia and Prussia] insistently, though without success, that if their own principle of Legitimacy was to be maintained intact, the Greek insurgents must be boycotted as outlaws and Sultan Mahmūd be supported, in maintaining his dynastic rights, as one of the Lord’s Anointed. From the Legitimist standpoint, Metternich’s attitude on this occasion was entirely justified by the event. For the triumphant success of the Greek insurgents – a success which they owed to the friendly intervention of France, Great Britain, and Russia as much as to their own exertions – was an event of far more than local importance. The erection of a sovereign independent national Greek State in 1829-31 made it inevitable that every people in South-Eastern Europe should insist upon attaining its own national independence and national unity sooner or later; and thus the Greek insurrection of 1821 incidentally preordained the erection of Jugoslavia and Greater Rumania in 1918-20 [greater at the expense of Hungary]. Truly, Metternich’s senses had not deceived him when he heard the death-knell of the Danubian Hapsburg Monarchy in those reverberations from the clash of arms in the Morea which fell upon his ears in Vienna.

A hundred years of imperial dissolution: 1821-1920.

Metternich, the last survivor of 1815, died a month to the day before the armistice in the Italian War of 1859.

It is difficult to imagine Beethoven and Metternich living in the same city. They never met, though a film even worse than Amadeus suggests that they did.

A Study of History, Vol II, OUP, 1934

Fear the wolves

May 16 2015

Petits moutons, gagnez la plaine
Fuyez les bois, crainte les loups;
Je n’ai pu me garder moi-même,
Comment vous garderai-je tous?

Chanson Bocagère

On title page of the Survey of International Affairs for the year of the reoccupation of the Rhineland; the annexation of Abyssinia, the event which showed the impotence of the League of Nations; and the start of the Spanish Civil War. Did Toynbee (or his researchers) find this “woodland song” in the memoir Le petit-maître philosophe: ou voyages et avantures de Genu Soalhat, chevalier de Mainvilliers, dans les principales cours de l’Europe (1750)? It appears thus there. The English translation of Mainvilliers uses a different rhyming scheme:

“Gain, ye Lambs, the flow’ry Plain
Fly the Woods, or you’ll be slain,
Fear the Wolves, who long for Food
And pant to revel in your Blood;
I myself can hardly keep,
How should I then save my Sheep?”

Survey of International Affairs, 1936, OUP, Under the auspices of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1937

Flying doctors

May 15 2015

Cook, Nullarbor Plain, South Australia, 1961:

Toynbee passed through Cook by train en route from Adelaide to Perth in July 1956.

Through the whole of the morning and half the afternoon, the tufted red expanse went on opening out in front of us and fading away behind our rolling wheels. Nothing changed except when, once in every hour or two, we passed a row of half-a-dozen houses and a water tank. “Cook”, “Hughes”, “Reid”, “Haig”: such monosyllabic place-names are just the right ones for these pin-points of human life on the map of the wilderness. The rhythm of the journey is so regular that it begins to have a hypnotic effect. But something must be going to break the trance, for this evening we are to reach Kalgoorlie, and to-morrow we shall be in Perth.

Cook was created in 1917 with the completion of the Trans-Australian Railway and is named after the sixth Prime Minister of Australia, Joseph Cook.

It died in 1997 when the railways were privatised. The new owners did not need a support town there, but diesel refuelling and overnight accommodation for train drivers remain.

The bush hospital (supported from Ceduna and which advertised itself at the station with “If you’re crook come to Cook”) and airstrip were closed, but medical supplies are stored at Cook against a possible train disaster. The Tea and Sugar Train which had supplied the town ceased operation. The former airstrip is known as a place to spot inland dotterel. When Cook was active, water was pumped from an aquifer. Now it is carried in by train.

The Anglican-affiliated Bush Church Aid Society of Australia, 1919- , mentioned in the clip, were not the more famous flying doctors, but the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, 1928- (it began with a different name) also had evangelical origins, in their case Presbyterian. How much of their respective work was directed at indigenous Australians?

The largest religious group in Australia are Catholics.

The Flying Doctor, Australian-British film by Miles Mander, 1936

Flying Doctor Calling, history by Ernestine Hill, 1947

The Flying Doctor, Australian-British television drama series about RFDSA, 39 episodes, 1959; in UK shown on ITV; opening credits; based on radio drama series broadcast, in the UK, on the BBC; how were both of these aired in Australia?

Six novels by Michael Noonan, 1961-69

The Flying Doctors, Australian (Nine Network) television drama series, 1986-93; opening credits (do they ever stop smiling?)

RFDSA promotional film, 2006

Australian eBay

Flying Doctors of Malaysia

The Flying Doctors of East Africa, film by Werner Herzog, 1969

Amref Health Africa

Flying Doctors of America

Los Médicos Voladores

Sai Wan, Hong Kong island, 1961 again; it is hard to believe that this is not some comparatively remote spot in the New Territories:

History of air medical services

The French pioneer of medical aviation was Marie Marvingt; in 1934, she established the first civil air ambulance service in Africa, in Morocco; Marvingt and her proposed air ambulance, by Émile Friant, 1914:

Marie Marvingt, 1914

Flying Doctor Calling

Le toubib volant

East to West, A Journey Round the World, OUP, 1958

Mehmet the Conqueror

May 14 2015

Gentile Bellini, Mehmet

THE CONQUEROR, Sultan Mehmet II. Though his predecessors had already overrun most of the Christian East Roman Empire before Constantinople fell in 1453, it was Mehmet who was remembered by his fellow ʿOsmanlis and fellow Muslims as “the Conqueror” for capturing the Empire’s seat of sovereignty, carrying with it the title to world dominion.

Image here: Wikimedia Commons. Caption in:

With Jane Caplan, A Study of History, new one-volume abridgement, with new material and revisions, a Foreword by Toynbee, maps and, for the first time, illustrations, Thames & Hudson, 1972

Monochrome image cited there as:

Gentile Bellini, Sultan Mehmet II, National Gallery, London

A polite message to Salafists

May 14 2015

God fulfils Himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the World.

The Passing of Arthur, one of the Idylls of the King.

Kant-Berlin versionSymmachan version.

A Study of History, Vol VII, OUP, 1954 (footnote)

Religious diehards

May 13 2015

[The] “die-hard” spirit had asserted itself in the course of the nineteenth century of the Christian Era. In the ranks of the Roman Catholic Church it had found expression in the decrees of the Vatican Council of A.D. 1869-70 and in the anathema pronounced against Modernism in A.D. 1907; in the domain of the Protestant Churches of North America it had entrenched itself in “the Bible Belt”; and this reaction had not been confined to […] the Western World; for by this time the wave of Westernization was sweeping over the whole face of the planet, and Western Science – which was both the force behind the wave and the rider on its crest – was impinging upon all branches of all the higher religions. Under this ubiquitous pressure the “Zealot” mood was manifesting itself in Orthodox as well as in Western Christendom, and it was simultaneously on the war-path in the Islamic World, where the first stirrings of a Westernizing movement under the stimulus of the disastrous ending of the Great Russo-Turkish War of A.D. 1768-74 had provoked, in retort, the militantly archaistic movements of Wahhabism, Idrisism, Sanusism, and Mahdism in the fastnesses of the Arabian and North African deserts.

Diehards (old post).

A Study of History, Vol VII, OUP, 1954

Two portraits

May 12 2015

Mozart Elgar

A well worn tag

May 12 2015

The earliest complete extant works in Latin, the surviving plays of Plautus and Terence, are undisguised translations of “Hellenistic” Greek originals. And I should say that, in a rather subtler sense, the whole of Latin literature – including even such masterpieces as the poems of Virgil – is in essence a version of Greek originals translated into the Latin. After all, I can quote the second most famous of all the Latin poets [Horace] for my purpose. Indeed, the tag is so well worn that I hardly dare bring it out.

Conquered Greece took her savage conqueror captive, and introduced the arts into rustic Latium:
Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit, et artes intulit agresti Latio.

We all know the passage, and we all know that it is true. The mere linguistic difference between the Latin and Greek languages creates no division of literary style and no break in literary history.

This is from a chapter

based on a lecture delivered at Oxford University in the summer term of one of the interwar years, in a course, organized by Professor Gilbert Murray, of prolegomena to various subjects studied in the Oxford School of Literae Humaniores.

Part of tag used here.

Civilization on Trial, OUP, 1948

Since Nine O’Clock

May 11 2015

“Half past twelve. Time has gone by quickly
since nine o’clock when I lit the lamp
and sat down here. I’ve been sitting without reading,
without speaking. Completely alone in the house,
whom could I talk to?

Since nine o’clock when I lit the lamp
the shade of my young body
has come to haunt me, to remind me
of shut scented rooms,
of past sensual pleasure – what daring pleasure.
And it’s also brought back to me
streets now unrecognisable,
bustling night clubs now closed,
theatres and cafés no longer there.

The shade of my young body
also brought back the things that make us sad:
family grief, separations,
the feelings of my own people, feelings
of the dead so little acknowledged.

Half past twelve. How the time has gone by.
Half past twelve. How the years have gone by.”


Since Nine O’Clock, from Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard, translators; George Savidis, editor, CP Cavafy, Collected Poems, revised edition, Princeton University Press, 1992, at cavafy.com. Spelling anglicised.

The First Step

May 10 2015

“The young poet Evmenis
complained one day to Theocritos:
‘I have been writing for two years now
and I have composed just one idyll.
It’s my only completed work.
I see, sadly, that the ladder of Poetry
is tall, extremely tall;
and from this first step I now stand on
I will never climb any higher.’
Theocritos replied: ‘Words like that
are improper, blasphemous.
Just to be on the first step
should make you happy and proud.
To have come this far is no small achievement:
what you have done is a glorious thing.
Even this first step
is a long way above the ordinary world.
To stand on this step
you must be in your own right
a member of the city of ideas.
And it is a hard, unusual thing
to be enrolled as a citizen of that city.
Its councils are full of Legislators
no charlatan can fool.
To have come this far is no small achievement:
what you have done already is a glorious thing.’”


The First Step, from Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard, translators; George Savidis, editor, CP Cavafy, Collected Poems, revised edition, Princeton University Press, 1992, at cavafy.com.

Theocritos, a bucolic poet who flourished around 270 BC, was born in Sicily and spent part of his life in Alexandria. Evmenis is invented.

VE Day

May 9 2015

London and Paris. YouTube credits:

Courtesy Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), 18SFP9490, 9491

Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), 18 SFP 9261

Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), 18 SFP 9155.

Beethoven added by whomever.

Churchill, Unconditional Surrender speech, May 8 1945 (in full here):

Secret wars

May 8 2015

Et operta tumescere bella

VERGIL, GEORG. I, l. 465

“And secret wars are swelling to a head.” Joseph Davidson’s prose translation. 18th century.

On title page of Survey of International Affairs, 1927, OUP, Under the auspices of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1929

The monks of Capraria

May 8 2015

An explosion of […] hostile feeling was evoked in A.D. 416 […] in the heart of a “die-hard” pagan Gallic devotee of Imperial Rome […] by the sad sight of desert islands colonized – or, as Rutilius would have expressed it, infested – by Christian monks:

Processu pelagi iam se Capraria tollit.
squalet lucifugis insula plena viris.
ipsi se monachos Graio cognomine dicunt,
quod soli nullo vivere teste volunt. …
quaenam perversi rabies tarn stulta cerebri,
dum mala formides, nec bona posse pati?

[Footnote: Rutilius Namatianus, C.: De Reditu Suo, Book I, ll. 439-42 and 445-6.]

“As we advance at sea, Capraria rears itself – an ill-kept isle full of men who shun the light. Their own name for themselves is Greek, monakhoi, because they wish to dwell alone with none to see. […] What perverse fanaticism of a distorted brain is it to be unable to endure even blessings because of a terror of ills?”

Translations here and in the last post are paraphrases of J Wight Duff and Arnold M Duff in Loeb (1934). Monakhos, monk, comes from monos, alone. (It is an adjective, meaning solitary, used as a noun: etymonline.com.)

Rutilius’s De Reditu Suo, On His Return, describes in elegiac metre a coastal voyage from Rome to his native Gaul. He was from Toulouse or perhaps Poitiers. He is passing through the Tuscan Archipelago, the islands between Corsica and Tuscany, or between the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian Seas, of which the largest is Elba. The modern name for Capraria is Capraia.

Torre delle Barbici

The Torre delle Barbici, also known as Torre della Teja, or Torre della Regina, one of three watch towers built on the island by the Genoese (1699)

A Study of History, Vol VII, OUP, 1954

Rutilius Namatianus

May 7 2015

Urbem fecisti quod prius orbis erat


“Fecisti patriam diversis gentibus unam:
profuit iniustis te dominante capi.
dumque offers victis proprii consortia iuris,
urbem fecisti quod prius orbis erat.”

“For nations far apart you have made a single fatherland: under your dominion those who knew not justice have profited. By offering the vanquished a share in your own justice you have made a city of what was once a world.”

On title page of Survey of International Affairs, 1929, OUP, Under the auspices of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1930


May 6 2015

What is there in common between an annihilation through death, an exit into nirvana through self-extinction, and an entry into a communion of saints? On first thoughts, these three visions of ultimate reality look as if they were irreconcilable with each other, but on second thoughts we can see that they each present a picture of an identical goal. They each testify that the cause of sin and suffering and sorrow is the separation of sentient beings, in their brief passage through the phenomenal world, from the timeless reality behind the phenomena, and that a reunion with this reality is the sole but sovereign cure for our ailing world’s ills. Communion, extinguishedness, and annihilation are alternative images of reintegration. They are symbols of a consummation that is ineffable because it is the antithesis of Man’s experience in his ephemeral life on Earth. They are variations on a single theme: the return from discord to harmony, or, in Sinic terms, from Yang to Yin. “To Him return ye, one and all.” “Das unbeschreibliche, Hier ist’s getan.”

Footnotes for the quotations:

Qur’an x.4.

Goethe, Faust, ll. 12108-9: “The ineffable – why, here, this is accomplished” […].

With Jane Caplan, A Study of History, new one-volume abridgement, with new material and revisions, a Foreword by Toynbee, maps and, for the first time, illustrations, Thames & Hudson, 1972

A limited period

May 5 2015

I believe that at death a human being’s soul is re-absorbed into the supra-personal spiritual presence behind the universe. I believe that personal human individuality is acquired at the price of being separated from this supra-personal reality. I feel that this price is high, and I am therefore glad that it has to be paid for a limited period only.

Surviving the Future, OUP, 1971

Temporary personalities

May 4 2015

The value of my temporary personality is, for me, two-fold. It allows me to live among other temporary personalities whom I love, and it gives me the possibility of personal achievements. But these personal achievements have value, it seems to me, only in so far as they are of some good to other people. In that case they redound “to the glory of God”. I am here using a traditional Christian phrase for a human being’s spiritual need to serve the spiritual presence behind the universe, besides serving his fellow men and women.

Surviving the Future, OUP, 1971

Election posts

May 3 2015

Old posts:

Lessons of 1867, and UK coalitions

A very rough guide to English parties

20 prime ministers in the 19th century

20 prime ministers in the 20th century

Most-“elected” prime ministers

The Foreign Office and Europe

Cameron and Churchill



More on hung parliaments

Minority governments.

Reading backwards

May 2 2015

FW Maitland makes a counterintuitive point: reading history backwards helps us to discard modern baggage. He is writing about English legal history, but I suppose this can apply elsewhere.

“The task of reconstructing ancient ideas is hazardous, and can only be accomplished little by little. If we are in a hurry to get to the beginning we shall miss the path. Against many kinds of anachronism we now guard ourselves. We are careful of costume, of armour and architecture, of words and forms of speech. But it is far easier to be careful of these things than to prevent the intrusion of untimely ideas. In particular there lies a besetting danger for us in the barbarian’s use of a language which is too good for his thought. Mistakes then are easy, and when committed they will be fatal and fundamental mistakes. If, for example, we introduce the persona ficta too soon, we shall be doing worse than if we armed Hengest and Horsa with machine guns or pictured the Venerable Bede correcting proofs for the press; we shall have built upon a crumbling foundation. The most efficient method of protecting ourselves against such errors is that of reading our history backwards as well as forwards, of making sure of our middle ages before we talk about the ‘archaic’, of accustoming our eyes to the twilight before we go out into the night.”


“The law implied in Domesday Book ought to be for us very difficult law, far more than the law of the thirteenth century, for the thirteenth century is nearer to us than is the eleventh. The grown man will find it easier to think the thoughts of the school-boy than to think the thoughts of the baby. And yet the doctrine that our remote forefathers being simple folk had simple law dies hard. Too often we allow ourselves to suppose that, could we but get back to the beginning, we should find that all was intelligible and should then be able to watch the process whereby simple ideas were smothered under subtleties and technicalities. But it is not so. Simplicity is the outcome of technical subtlety; it is the goal not the starting point. As we go backwards the familiar outlines become blurred; the ideas become fluid, and instead of the simple we find the indefinite. But difficult though our task may be, we must turn to it.”

Reading backwards is implied in the title of the book from which this is taken: Domesday Book and Beyond, Cambridge University Press, 1897.

Composers doing normal shit

May 1 2015


Click image.

Alan Macfarlane online

April 30 2015

Anthropologist and historian who writes about England, Nepal, China, Japan.



Digital Himalaya

His extraordinary YouTube account

His home page

On this blog (from YouTube): differences between Oxford and Cambridge; interviewing Christopher Bayly


World Oral Literature Project.


Interviewing a Cambridge street sweeper and authority on the town, Allan Brigham, in 2013.

Reading a May 2000 lecture given at Downing College, Cambridge on FW Maitland, the great legal and constitutional historian and thinker, author of Domesday Book and Beyond and The Constitutional History of England, in 2013.

Another Maitland lecture, Department of Social Anthropology, Cambridge, November 2001.

(Trivia: it was the Maitlands with whom Tchaikovsky, between whose Julian and Gregorian 175th birthdays we now are, stayed at Downing in the early summer of 1893, a few months before his death, to receive an honorary doctorate from Cambridge. He found them “the most charmingly sympathetic of people – and moreover, Russophiles, which is a great rarity in England”.)

Reading a 2005 lecture given at University of California, Berkeley on the political thinkers Yukichi Fukuzawa and Masao Maruyama in 2013. One can see here his interest in Bayly’s work.

Reading a 1996 talk given at the Institute of Historical Research on Fernand Braudel (bibliography) in 2013; it’s a pity he is not a slightly more engaging speaker:

Gargano and Compostela

April 29 2015

… and the heart of Robert the Bruce

In taking up arms under the impulse of this homesickness for their pristine holy land, the Crusaders not only made for Christendom’s oldest and most sacred pilgrimage-resort as their ultimate objective; they also set themselves intermediate goals to draw their flagging feet forward along the intervening stages of their long war-path by throwing out, en route, new pilgrimage-resorts in advanced posts just beyond an expanding Western Christendom’s previous borders. Norman pilgrimages to the shrine of Saint Michael the Archangel on Monte Gargano, in the Apulian dominions of the East Roman Empire, were reconnaissances that became preludes to a Norman conquest of the bridgeheads of Orthodox Christendom and Dār-al-Islām in Southern Italy and Sicily, and French pilgrimages to the shrine of Saint James the Apostle at Compostela, in a Galician no-man’s-land between a Western Christian fastness in Asturia and the former domain of a dissolving Andalusian Umayyad Caliphate, provided successive new drafts of military manpower for the progressive conquest of the Iberian Peninsula by the joint efforts of Cispyrenean and Transpyrenean Frankish aggressors.

The perilous exposure of the shrine at Compostela on the fringe of a Medieval Western Christendom’s dār-al-harb [he uses a different style from the other Dār] had the same effect in spurring the Crusaders into making superhuman exertions as the desperate deed of a Scottish knight who, on an Andalusian battlefield where he had broken his pilgrimage in order to fight under a Castilian banner, turned the fortunes of a day which had been going against the Franks by flinging into the midst of the all-but-victorious Muslims a silver casket containing Robert the Bruce’s heart, and rushing forward after it to conquer or die for the sake of rescuing a treasure, entrusted to his safekeeping, which he had thus deliberately thrown into jeopardy as a last resort for calling out his own supreme reserves of vigour and valour. [Footnote: The tale is told by the writer’s mother, Edith Toynbee, in True Stories from Scottish History (London 1896, Griffith Farran Browne), pp. 90-91.] This incident was an omen; for the mission which the Bruce on his death-bed had charged his companion in arms, James Douglas, to fulfil had been to carry his heart to Jerusalem in order to bury it there in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; the attainment of this Palestinian objective was sacrificed for the sake of a Frankish victory on Andalusian ground which was won by Douglas at the cost of the martial pilgrim’s own life; and this personal story repeated itself on an oecumenical scale. While the last of the Crusaders’ bridgeheads on the coast of Syria was lost within less than two hundred years of the Frankish invaders’ first descent upon Palestine [Jerusalem 1099 to Acre 1291], their conquests in the Iberian Peninsula, Southern Italy, and Sicily under the auspices of the far-flung shrines at Compostela and Gargano were the two abiding gains of territory that were made by Western Christendom in the Crusades at Dār-al-Islām’s and Orthodox Christendom’s expense.

Douglas died at the siege of Teba. His body and the casket containing the embalmed heart were found on the field. They were both conveyed back to Scotland by Sir William Keith of Galston. Bruce had been buried in Dunfermline Abbey. Douglas’s remains were interred at St Bride’s church in Douglas, Lanarkshire; Bruce’s heart in Melrose Abbey.

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 19.32.15

Sir James Douglas Taking Bruce’s Heart to the Holy Land Is Diverted to Fight the Moors near Granada, what Victorian source?

A Study of History, Vol IX, OUP, 1954

The last and the first

April 28 2015

“If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all and servant of all.” – “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” – “The last shall be first, and the first last.” – “He that is least among you all, the same shall be great.” – “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner.”


Mark ix. 35 = Matt. xxiii. 11 (cf. Mark x. 43-4 = Matt. xx. 26-7).

Matt. xxiii. 12 = Luke xiv. 11, and xviii. 14.

Matt. xx. 16, as the moral of the Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard. Compare Matt. xix. 30 = Mark x. 31, and Luke xiii. 30.

Luke ix. 48.

Matt. xxi. 42 (quoting Psalm cxviii. 22), as the moral of the Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen. Cf. Mark xii. 10; Luke xx. 17; Acts iv. 11; Eph. ii. 20; 1 Peter ii. 7.

A Study of History, Vol IV, OUP, 1939


April 27 2015

[…] the telegraph, the railway, the steamship, and the press […].

2000: the internet, the jet.

The World after the Peace Conference, Being an Epilogue to the “History of the Peace Conference of Paris” and a Prologue to the “Survey of International Affairs, 1920-1923”, OUP, Issued under the auspices of the British Institute of International Affairs, 1925

Christopher Bayly

April 26 2015

Highly original – so he appears: I have only read part of Forgotten Wars – historian of India, and then of the world, from about 1770 into the twentieth century. He seems to have been as revered in India as Raymond Carr was in Spain.




The Local Roots of Indian Politics: Allahabad, 1880-1920 (1975)

Rulers, Townsmen and Bazaars: North Indian Society in the Age of British Expansion, 1770-1870 (1983)

Imperial Meridian: The British Empire and the World 1780-1830 (1989)

An Indian trilogy:

Empire and Information: Intelligence Gathering and Social Communication in India, 1780-1870 (1996)

Origins of Nationality in South Asia: Patriotism and Ethical Government in the Making of Modern India (1998)

Recovering Liberties: Indian Thought in the Age of Liberalism and Empire (2011)

The Birth of the Modern World, 1780-1914: Global Connections and Comparisons (2004)

Forgotten Armies: The Fall of British Asia, 1941-1945 (2005)

Forgotten Wars: Freedom and Revolution in Southeast Asia (2007), the last two with Timothy Harper

Cover below shows a portrait of Jean-Baptiste Belley by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson (male), with a bust of Guillaume Thomas François Raynal in the background.

Note the suggestion of the tapering penis favoured by many classical and classically-influenced artists, which is at the same time, here, I suppose, a piece of racial stereotyping. Girodet was a pupil of David.

Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World

Bayly, Forgotten Wars

Interview by Alan Macfarlane, July 24 2014:


April 25 2015

The first victory of the Ottoman Empire was a defeat of the Byzantine army near Nicomedia, at Bapheus, in 1302. The defeat of British imperial and French forces on the Gallipoli peninsula, April 25 1915 to January 9 1916, was almost the last.

Gallipoli was also a landmark in the career of a Turkish general, Kustafa Kemal Atatürk. It was a dress rehearsal for the struggle to come.

It disgraced Churchill, who had ordered the naval attack.

During the Irish War of Independence balladeers sang “Twas better to die ’neath an Irish sky than in Suvla or Sedd el Bahr”.

Gallipoli helped to forge national consciousness in Australia and New Zealand, both newly independent and fighting their first war. Today is Anzac Day and the centenary of the start of the campaign.

The first Jewish fighting force – with a Jewish emblem and flag – since the defeat of the Bar Kokhba Revolt in AD 136 fought in Gallipoli. So, in a small way, this was a dress rehearsal for the wars of Zion.


The peninsula forms the northern or western bank of the Dardanelles, the strait that provided a sea route to the Russian Empire. Russia’s allies Britain and France launched a naval attack followed by a landing, intending to secure it and then capture Constantinople. The naval attack was repelled and after eight months’ fighting the land campaign was abandoned and the invasion force withdrawn to Egypt.

The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) was formed in Egypt in 1915 and commanded by General William Birdwood. It was disbanded in 1916. Later formations.

What has been happening in Palestine during the War? Dr. Trietsch informs us that the Ottoman Government has been proceeding with the “naturalisation” of the Palestinian Jews, and that the “local execution of this measure has not been effected without disturbances […].” [My bracket, not AJT’s.] One significant consequence was the appearance in Egypt of Palestinian refugees, who raised a Zion mule corps there and fought through the Gallipoli campaign.

The Zion Mule Corps was formed in March 1915. It was the precursor of the Jewish Legion (1917-21), the unofficial name for the 38th to 42nd Battalions of the Royal Fusiliers, which fought against the Ottoman Empire. Jacob Epstein served in the 38th.

Casualties at Gallipoli:

Ottoman Empire (Turks, Arabs, others): 109,042 wounded and missing, 57,084 killed

Britain: 52,230 wounded, 21,255 killed

Australia: 19,441 wounded, 8,709 killed

France: 17,000 wounded, 10,000 killed (estimates), including an unknown number of Senegalese

New Zealand: 4,752 wounded, 2,721 killed

India: 3,421 wounded, 1,358 killed

Newfoundland: 93 wounded, 49 killed

Germans: a few fought with the Turks

The numbers vary greatly from one source to another. Allied numbers here are via airminded.org, which gives its source as the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Australia. It doesn’t say whether wounded includes missing. Ottoman numbers via greatwar.nl. Most sources give only the Allies. Have the Ottoman totals ever been broken down?

Anzac parade, London, date not shown:

Turkey, A Past and a Future, Hodder & Stoughton, 1917

Berlin ’45

April 24 2015

German ack-ack (anti-aircraft fire) audible during a performance of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto: Walter Gieseking, Grosses Berliner Rundfunk Orchester, Artur Rother. Saal No 1, Haus des Rundfunks (Reichsender Berlin), Berlin, January 23 1945.

This was the very day on which Russian troops crossed the Oder, and the day of the execution of Helmuth James Graf von Moltke.

You hear it at around 13:30 and 16:50 in the first movement and perhaps earlier. I am not sure that there is anything in the later movements. Can you also hear bombs? More below.

The date is given here and here. I believe it is correct. Other sources, including this, and the YouTube poster, give it as September or October 1944.

The performance was, we are told, a rehearsal and never broadcast. It is said to be the only complete wartime recording of any classical work in stereo.

Who was doing the bombing? Both dates were after the main raids of 1943-44. The USAAF had often bombed by day, the RAF by night. Was that the case here and do we know the time of day of the recording?

Is there a chance that this was directed at the Red Air Force as the Russians approached?

Related post: Bernstein, Barenboim, Ceauşescu.

“El Carr”

April 23 2015

Raymond Carr obituaries:



“Just as ‘le Cobb’ (Professor Richard) and ‘il Mack Smith’ (Mr Denis) enjoyed an extraordinary fame in the countries (France and Italy respectively) which they made their subjects, so ‘el Carr’ became little short of a national hero in Spain.” (Telegraph, my links)

Carr, Spain

More Sir Mortimer

April 22 2015

… or, How we spoke then

A further Animal, Vegetable, Mineral? (recent post) is on the BBC’s site here (UK only, unless you cheat), but not on YouTube.

This is October 28 1954.

Moderator: Glyn Daniel again.

Panel: Geoffrey Bushnell, Froelich Rainey and again Sir Mortimer Wheeler.

Challenger: Manchester Museum.

The series looks thoroughly English, but it was, in fact, a copy of a CBS programme called What in the World?, which ran in the US from 1951 to ’65.

The BBC programme began with “good” music (familiar, but I can’t identify it); the CBS does a spoof of science fiction soundtracks of the time, though I think even here the music may actually be “good” (we get Peter Grimes at one point as well).

In one episode, at some point in 1955, CBS asked a panel to examine some of the objects that had been presented on the October 28 1954 BBC show.

Moderator: Froelich Rainey, who had appeared in the BBC episode.

Panel: Alfred Kidder II, Jacques Lipchitz, Richard Ettinghausen.

Challenger: Manchester Museum.

Rainey, the moderator of much or all of the series, was director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum. (You may need to route through the UK here, too, if you are elsewhere in Europe.)

A commenter says:

“Funny how the American accent hasn’t changed at all in nearly 60 years, while the English accent has changed utterly.”

I would say the American way of speaking has changed somewhat. For one thing, there are fewer old-style European accents such as those of Lipchitz (who reminds me of Fritz Reiner) and Ettinghausen.

But the ’60s noticeably changed the way “educated” British spoke. I called Glyn Daniel’s accent “fake” in the last post.

Until the ’60s and later, if you rose in society, and especially if you spoke on the BBC, you were expected to drop your regional and/or class accent in favour of received pronunciation. Toynbee would have called this an “ordeal”. A few professional Yorkshiremen, Irishmen and trade unionists were licensed provincials and could keep theirs.

But if you were covering up a very strong accent, the strain would sometimes show. I am sure it does with Daniel, who was the son of a village schoolmaster in Wales. He sounds as if he has taken elocution lessons. The disguise is too perfect. Others simply talk as they talk. Educated English could sound natural.

BBC English was a formal version of mid-twentieth century received pronunciation. We often hear it, since it has been much recorded. It is better described as a version of educated English than as upper-class English.

The Oxford English which Toynbee spoke was a variant of educated English, but came from a way of talking at the university, not in the rest of the town (let alone in the county).

Other terms used are Standard English and the Queen’s English, but even the Queen has changed her pronunciation over the past half-century.

The masses were going to be able to listen to broadcasts, so deciding what they should hear, and in what tones, was a heavy responsibility. Long before television had got underway, the BBC’s Director-General (1927-38) Lord Reith declared that the BBC’s purpose was to “inform, educate and entertain”, but the emphasis under Reith and afterwards was on informing and educating.

After Reith, the BBC’s prestige was increased during, and by, the war.

A similar patrician spirit is seen in a reviewer’s statement in the 1950s about The Pelican History of England, which I have quoted.

Experts spoke down to the public. They were experts. Hence a radio programme called The Brains Trust. I can just about remember another called The Critics. It was the age of “the critic”, whose literary high priest was FR Leavis.

Related post on the high priests of Darmstadt in the 40’s and ’50s.

The excellent BBC Third Programme (radio) was dedicated to introducing the public to “good music”.

This, I suppose, is some of the cultural context of Animal, Vegetable, Mineral?

A quadrumvirate (old post).