To be added to London anthologies:
“If you roll a boxful of shoes down some stairs, you will hear the word ‘London’.”
Andrew Cover, a friend, c 2000.
Elgar, Cockaigne, Elgar conducting BBC Symphony Orchestra, April 11 1933
To be added to London anthologies:
“If you roll a boxful of shoes down some stairs, you will hear the word ‘London’.”
Andrew Cover, a friend, c 2000.
Elgar, Cockaigne, Elgar conducting BBC Symphony Orchestra, April 11 1933
1945 film directed by Richard Massingham and perhaps made for the British Council, which shows, at 6:50, the most popular serious English historian of the first half of the twentieth century, the Master of Trinity, lecturing at Cambridge.
University lectures and lecturers are often (usually?) disappointing. “Forged on the anvil of time.” He could write better than that. Apart from the important collective experience of sitting together and seeing your teacher, what could such wooden discourses offer that a book couldn’t? Trevelyan is old-fashioned, but he deserved his reputation in print.
We see Lawrence Bragg, Cavendish Professor of Physics, who had won the Nobel Prize at the age of twenty-five; John Sheppard, the Provost of King’s, talking theatrically to foreign visitors about Greek “freedom and friendship”; absurdly old-fashioned conducting by Patrick Hadley, and Bach performance, at 19:25.
The waves of Marxism, sexual liberation, deconstruction, gender politics and political correctness of later decades seem far off.
Where was bohemianism? In 1945, perhaps nowhere.
Toynbee was an Oxford man, though only briefly a don, but he declined the Regius Professorship of Modern History at Cambridge in 1947 in succession to GN Clark. The job would surely not have suited him. It was taken by JRM Butler instead.
Which was the mightiest in its old command”
Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Canto IV, 1818.
The next line has … “and is the loveliest”.
England’s landscape declined with its power. The trajectories were different, but (if you have anything like a classical view of landscape) they were in decline together from the moment English power started to decline.
The great twentieth-century popular historian of the English landscape was WG Hoskins, who published The Making of the English Landscape in 1955. That link is to a Wikipedia article which contains a summary of the book. The story was set in a wider historical context for the same generation, which had a stronger memory of old landscapes than we do, by GM Trevelyan (post here). For Trevelyan, the English landscape was still at its loveliest in 1818.
But would the Romans have recognised the Italian landscapes of 1818? I asked my friend Giovanni Caselli this question. I will post his reply tomorrow.
… gave life to the foreground in engravings from, say, 1750 to 1830 – and suggest a title for a book of light social history. They come into nursery rhyme illustrations as well.
The Foundling Hospital, Bloomsbury in a print published in January 1753 or earlier:
St James’s Square, 1752 (Chatham House, Duke of York Street and St James’s, Piccadilly in background; boy and hoop centre foreground; possibly clearer colour version here):
A painting of the 1825 Decembrist revolt in the Senate Square, St Petersburg by Vasily Timm has the running boy, but in these circumstances no dogs or hoops (he is similar to a running figure on a print of Bow Church and Cheapside in 1750, Getty images):
This of the Tower of London, c 1810, has a hoop and ambling boy, but no dog.
One of the new lodges, Hyde Park, 1828, with hoop and dogs; dandies lounge at the rails:
St Giles-in-the-Fields, c 1820 (the figure may not be a boy, but we have seen him in the Foundling Hospital, Bow Church and Russian images):
It seems that boys did no more than roll the hoop.
Gibbon’s confidence [General Observations on the Fall of the Roman Empire in the West in Vol VI] in the inviolability of an American asylum for the Western Civilization would have been justified if – but only if – the aggressor’s part had been played in reality by those arrested Nomad riders [Nomadism is one of Toynbee’s “arrested civilizations”] who had been cast for it in Gibbon’s imagination. If the Continental Power that was under suspicion in A.D. 1952 of entertaining designs of world-wide conquest had been, once again, the Mongols, the peoples of the Western World would assuredly have had better reason this time for counting on the survival of their own distinctive culture than they had had in A.D. 1238, when they had been facing the prospect of a Mongol occupation of the West European peninsula of Asia without having any reassuring Transatlantic asylum at their backs. In A.D. 1952 they could have taken comfort in reminding themselves that in A.D. 1281 the forces of a Mongol Empire, which at that date had been mistress of the Continent from the shores of the Pacific Ocean to the shores of the Persian Gulf and the Baltic Sea, had been thrown back ignominiously from the beaches of Japan; for a cavalry Power which had proved impotent to conquer a cluster of small islands separated from the Continent by only a hundred miles of sea at the nearest point would have had no prospect, if she had occupied the European coastline of the Continent that the Germans held in June 1940, of being able to conquer the great island of North America on the farther side of a nearly two thousand-miles-broad Atlantic Ocean, or even the sister island of South America, which was divided by not less than sixteen hundred miles of sea from the Continent at the Straits of Dakar, where the westward bulge of Africa approached closest to the eastward bulge of Brazil. Indeed, the fiasco of Qubilay Khan’s attempt on Japan suggests that even the twenty-miles-wide Straits of Dover, which had foiled Napoleon and foiled Hitler when the local Continental war-lord of the day had had the whole of Europe under his command, might have proved impassable for Qubilay Khan in spite of his commanding the Asiatic mass as well as the European extremity of the Continent. But the historic immunity of the isles from conquest by Continental war-lords had been due to the comparative innocuousness of even a sedentary community’s most formidable weapons of offence until a hundred years and more after the date at which Gibbon had been writing; and no one who had lived through the war of A.D. 1939-45 could be blind to the truth that, since then, times had changed. The weapons with which Hitler had come within an ace of conquering Britain, and with which the combined forces of the United States and the British Commonwealth had succeeded thereafter in conquering Hitler’s vaunted Festung Europa, were indications that in a future world war the conquest of North America might not be beyond the reach of a Power controlling the aggregate resources of the Old World and capable of forging this incomparably vast store of war potential into unprecedentedly potent weapons through a mastery of an ever improving Western technology.
A Study of History, Vol IX, OUP, 1954
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):
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.
Anthropologist and historian who writes about England, Nepal, China, Japan. Professor Emeritus at King’s College, Cambridge.
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”.)
… 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.
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 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.
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
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
The 161st race was today. It has been annual since 1856, except for 1915-19 and 1940-45. All except the first have been rowed in London. Oxford have won 79, Cambridge 81, 1877 was a dead heat. History. List of results.
The first report in The Times was on April 4 1839 after the third race; the Cambridge win, by 35 lengths, was the strongest in the entire series; Melbourne (Trinity, Cambridge) was prime minister:
“Off the penitentiary” refers to Millbank Prison.
“Searle laid down the winning boat; King, of Oxford, that in which the vanquished pulled.” Laid down means designed or built. Searle was a London boathouse. It is mentioned earlier in the piece.
April 16 1840: “It is not a little refreshing to the real lovers of old English sports and manly exercise to find these sorts of amusements beginning to supersede the swindling, dangerous and absurd practice of steeple chasing – things merely got up by publicans and horsedealers to pillage the unwary and enrich themselves.”
Many races are on Pathé, including some of the unofficial wartime ones in the ’40s, which were held outside London and aren’t in the record. Here are the 1939 crews:
The three suites, Hague Philharmonic, recorded in 1963, Nonesuch LP. He made another recording with the New York Philharmonic, I suppose while music director there from ’71 to ’77.
Handel composed the Water Music for George I, for performances on the Thames in 1715 (first suite or part of it) and 1717 (complete work).
George and companions boarded a royal barge at Whitehall Palace at 8 pm on Saturday 17 7 1717 for an excursion up the Thames towards Chelsea. The rising tide propelled it without rowing. Another barge, provided by the City of London, contained fifty musicians. Other Londoners took to the river to hear the concert. The king left his barge at Chelsea and returned to it at 11 pm for the return trip, when the music was repeated.
Handel had been employed by George in Germany while the future king was only Elector of Hanover. He wrote the Music for the Royal Fireworks for George II more than thirty years later.
Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: Straits Times.
Lee Kuan Yew soundbites and historical film arranged by Daniel Tay: here, here, here. Interesting throughout.
“The first time I came out of the Tube station at Trafalgar Square [probably 1946], I was very impressed. There was a bundle of newspapers for sale and a box. Nobody there. And you can take the newspaper and put your coins in or [take your] change. I said: ‘This is really a civilised society’.”
This was the way evening papers were sold in London until the early ’70s or later. I can remember it. I remember an Austrian remarking on it.
On the first main bulletin after Lee’s death, the 10 pm Radio 4 news yesterday: item number 3.
Twelve hours later, 10 am R4 headlines: Lee not mentioned AT ALL.
Here’s the punchline. On the “flagship” R4 lunchtime news programme on Monday, and a 45-minute affair supposedly of some prestige, The “World” at One: Lee not mentioned AT ALL again, even in the headlines. We once ruled the world. We should at least understand it.
This was the day, in Asia time, of Lee’s death, a man of historical importance, the first half of whose life was closely bound up with Britain. There was a lot on extremism, UKIP and sexual abuse and, when the editors had run out of that and didn’t have a welfare story, a long closing section about, not hawking this time, but what makes a gardener.
The best version of Walton’s Richard III prelude on YouTube – part of his music for Laurence Olivier’s film – is Brazilian.
Richard’s remains are being moved from the University of Leicester to Leicester Cathedral today via local villages, taking in the site of the Battle of Bosworth. The cortège was on its way at the time of posting. He will be buried in the cathedral on Thursday.
The Orquestra Filarmonia of the Theatro São Pedro in São Paulo under Paulo Maron, April 2002, isn’t the best orchestra (like Schoenberg’s music, it is perhaps better than it sounds), but it doesn’t matter, because it does the piece with such verve. The collapse into the big tune at 1:12 is just right. The way to keep Waltonian bombast at bay is to keep the music moving.
The prelude was arranged from the film score by the conductor of the soundtrack Muir Mathieson.
Mathieson also arranged a Richard III suite, but the prelude is not part of it. On YouTube with Walton conducting the Philharmonia. There is no funeral music here. There is in Walton’s Hamlet.
Christopher Palmer’s arrangement, Richard III, A Shakespeare Scenario, has music with words and lasts 45 minutes. On YouTube with Neville Marriner, Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields and John Gielgud.
Renato Rocha on why Richard III speaks to Brazilians, Guardian, April 23 2012.
Walton’s Shakespeare films:
As You Like It (1936)
Henry V (1944)
Richard III (1955)
Paul Czinner directed and Laurence Olivier starred in As You Like It. Olivier directed and starred in the other three.
Tony Palmer’s film about Walton At the Haunted End of the Day used the fanfare which opens the Richard prelude to accompany shots of the Ischia-dwelling Walton arriving at Heathrow for his eightieth birthday celebrations in 1982 and being driven into town in a Rolls Royce. That’s how a grand old composer should arrive.
There are two nineteenth-century orchestral pieces about Richard III, a symphonic poem (1857-58) by Smetana and an overture (1870s?) by Robert Volkmann. Both solid pieces of orchestral furniture. Smetana also wrote some fanfares for Richard (1867) for brass and timpani, presumably for a production of the play. Volkmann quotes, half way through, The Campbells are Coming, in allusion to Richard’s war with Scotland.
Smetana, Czech Philharmonic, Rafael Kubelik:
And the Smetana fanfares, Fanfary k Richardovi III, BBC Philharmonic, Gianandrea Noseda:
Volkmann, Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart, Carl Schuricht, Stuttgart, September 12 1952:
Until recently there was no opera. But now we have one, by Giorgio Battistelli.
Here is the whole 1955 film:
“Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visaged war hath smooth’d his wrinkled front;
And now, instead of mounting barded steeds
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
I, that am rudely stamp’d, and want love’s majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtail’d of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinish’d, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them;
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity:
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams,
To set my brother Clarence and the king
In deadly hate the one against the other:
And if King Edward be as true and just
As I am subtle, false and treacherous,
This day should Clarence closely be mew’d up,
About a prophecy, which says that ‘G’
Of Edward’s heirs the murderer shall be.
Dive, thoughts, down to my soul: here
Nought shall make us rue (recent post).
A phrase that needs wider currency. There are only six appearances online.
Winston Churchill at his retirement, April 1955: “And I drink to the wise and kindly way of life of which Your Majesty is the young and gleaming champion”.
First post on this. Second. Will open in separate windows. In the second, I linked to Toilers in London; or, Inquiries concerning Female Labour in the Metropolis, By the “British Weekly” Commissioners, Hodder and Stoughton, 1889.
The British Weekly was founded in 1886 to encourage Christian virtue in the lower classes. I don’t know when it closed. Toilers in London was the second volume of two called Tempted London. The first (called what?) addressed young men. No Archive edition, but something less reliable here. Chapters:
Coming up from the Country to London
Life in Business Houses
The Life of City Clerks
A Bird’s-Eye View of London Gambling
Gambling and the Law: An Indictment of the Police
The Variety Theatres of London
The Evils of Theatres
What the Churches are Doing
What the Churches are Doing (continued)
“The Life of City Clerks”. As examined by George Gissing and others up to EM Forster in Howards End.
The first chapter of the volume on female labour is called Flower-Girls.
“The flower-girl is such a familiar sight to Londoners, that few of us realise what the streets of the metropolis would miss if she were banished.
“‘The world would be a sorry place if it had no flowers in it,’ an old man said to one of our Commissioners, while he was buying some primroses from a girl at the corner of Oxford Street. It was Primrose Day [below], and the old man was fastening a small bunch of primroses in his coat when our Commissioner stopped beside the flower-girl’s basket.
“Fifteen years ago no flower-girls enlivened London thoroughfares. If people wanted flowers they were obliged to find a nursery garden, or to visit a market. At these places flowers were then very expensive; for the people had not at that time learnt to appreciate simple flowers like primroses and daffodils; they only cared for costly exotics.
“Now any one can during the spring season buy enough flowers in the streets to deck a room for sixpence, and a small bunch of violets or a button-hole for one penny. Nothing comes amiss to the flower-girl’s basket […].”
“Fifteen years ago.” That’s 1874. There were flower-girls then. As McConkey told us, Gustave Doré depicted them, huddled like beggars, in his London: A Pilgrimage of 1872.
But we can assume that the phenomenon grew in the 1870s. The article doesn’t account for it, but we have looked at the role of the railways.
The swirl in Trafalgar Square must have provided a hunting ground for sexual exploiters, who were protected by English sexual hypocrisy and by the deference engendered by a class system.
Perhaps obvious street poverty had started to decline by 1913, when Pygmalion had its first performance.
One-Nation conservatism. Urban renewal. A radical Liberal, Joseph Chamberlain, boasted that his three years, 1873-76, as Mayor of Birmingham, had left the city “parked, paved, assized, marketed, gas-and- watered and improved”. Hygiene. Trade unions. Peabody Trust. Forster’s Education Act. Employers and Workmen Act. End of Long Depression of 1873-79. Old-Age Pensions Act. Labour Exchanges Act. National Insurance Act.
Clausen’s girl’s flowers have the unmistakeable yellow of primroses, but there was no “Primrose Day” in 1879.
That day was the anniversary of the death of Disraeli on April 19 1881. The primrose had been his favourite flower. Queen Victoria gave him bunches of them, picked at Windsor and Osborne House, and sent a wreath of primroses to his funeral. Had they started to be a symbol of conservatism while he was alive?
Disraeli invented modern Conservatism and revived the previously-moribund monarchy. Primrose Day was associated with the Primrose League, formed in 1883 to take Conservative principles to the masses. Its membership peak was in the 1890s, but it survived until 2004. When did yellow become a Liberal colour? (A Liberal prime minister in the 1890s, the 5th Earl of Rosebery, happened to have the family name of Primrose.)
Frank Bramley, Primrose Day, 1885, Tate Britain; awkward portrait, but with nods to Japan-influenced aestheticism in the arrangement and in the stalks, and with the straw hat looking like something between a mushroom and an umbrella or fan; Disraeli is on the wall:
Pathé News, Primrose Day, Parliament Square, 1916; a crowd in front of Mario Raggi’s bronze statue of Disraeli:
Further clip of the statue at about the same time. Half the country once had a Jewish hero, if a rather distant and disembodied one. Pathé has clips of Primrose Day pilgrimages to Disraeli’s grave at Hughenden for 1921, 1923, 1926, 1928.
Enjoyable (especially the plinth) early Clausen, painted when he was 26 or 27: The Flower Seller, private collection; the plinth supports an equestrian statue of Charles I by Hubert Le Sueur; they have been there since 1678; George Clausen’s memorial service would take place in 1944 in the church in the background, St Martin-in-the-Fields, James Gibbs, 1722-24
The order of Second World War bombing raids by the number of immediate fatalities is Hiroshima, Tokyo, Nagasaki, Hamburg. More people were killed in the March 1945 Tokyo raid than by the atomic bomb in Nagasaki.
And why is Dresden discussed more often than Hamburg?
… A discovery and a question from the post before last.
Was the firebombing of Dresden by the British and Americans the worst thing done before Hiroshima? The British had the larger role.
“It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of the so called ‘area-bombing’ of German cities should be reviewed from the point of view of our own interests. If we come into control of an entirely ruined land, there will be a great shortage of accommodation for ourselves and our allies. … We must see to it that our attacks do no more harm to ourselves in the long run than they do to the enemy’s war effort.”
He seems to have had moral doubts as well, but did not press his intervention.
In 1963, the holocaust-denier David Irving published The Destruction of Dresden. The Queen Mother, on the other hand, who lived for the rest of her days on a reputation gained by a visit to the blitzed East End, admired “Bomber Harris”.
According to onlinemilitaryeducation.org, the ten most destructive campaigns were as follows. The periods in question are of different lengths. In one case, the raids were conducted by Germans. In the other cases by the Americans and/or British. In descending order of total deaths by city (not by raid):
1. Tokyo, November 1944-August 1945, 100,000 plus killed
USAAF. (Minor raid in April 1942.) Raid of March 9-10 1945 is considered the single most destructive conventional bombing raid in history.
2. Hamburg, September 1939-April 1945, 42,600 killed
RAF and USAAF. Most severe raid ever on a European city came from a combined force during the last week of July 1943. The British conducted the night raids, the Americans the day raids.
3. Dresden, October 1944-April 1945, 25,000 killed
RAF and USAAF. Most destructive raid came from a combined force (RAF majority) February 13-15 1945.
4. Berlin, 1940-45, 20,000-50,000 killed
RAF and USAAF. 363 raids.
5. London, September 1940-May 1941, 20,000 killed
6. Swinoujscie, March 12 1945, 5,000-23,000 killed
USAAF. Raid on Polish city and port.
7. Pforzheim, April 1944-March 1945, 21,200 killed
RAF and USAAF. Main raid RAF February 23 1945.
8. Darmstadt, September 1943-February 1945, 12,300 killed
RAF. Main raid September 11-12 1944.
9. Kassel, February 1942-March 1945, 10,000 killed
RAF and USAAF. Main raid RAF October 22-23 1943.
10. Osaka, March-August 1945, 10,000 killed
USAAF. Main raid March 13-14 1945.
So the order is Hiroshima, Tokyo, Nagasaki, Hamburg. More people were killed in the March 1945 Tokyo raid than by the atomic bomb in Nagasaki.
And why is Dresden discussed more often than Hamburg? Because Irving wrote a book?
The Germans area-bombed or firebombed parts of London and Coventry in 1940. Bomber Command was authorised before the Blitz, on May 15 1940, to attack German targets east of the Rhine. It began area-bombing Germany in early 1942. This was supposed to undermine the morale of the civilian population and in particular of industrial workers. Factories were no longer the main targets.
The Americans had a policy of precision bombing in Europe and yet firebombed Japan. But on a few occasions, particularly towards the end of the war, they firebombed cities in Germany such as Dresden and Berlin in support of the British. That caused disquiet in the American ranks and was never the general policy as it was in Japan. The double standard was surely racist.
Victor Gregg was born in London in 1919, joined the army in 1937 and served with the Rifle Brigade in India and Palestine and in the Western Desert. He was taken prisoner at the Arnhem and was awaiting execution in Dresden when the raids happened. He is alive and outspoken on the bombing:
Adam Curtis’s extraordinary documentary is here on the BBC website. It was produced for iPlayer because of the “rigid formats and schedules of network television”. In other words, it was deemed too long or demanding. Here on YouTube.
The jury is out for me on this: I need to watch it more carefully. An introduction on Curtis’s blog is here. Extract (edited):
“Journalism – that used to tell a grand, unfurling narrative – now […] just relays disjointed and often wildly contradictory fragments of information. Events come and go like waves of a fever. We […] live in a state of continual delirium, constantly waiting for the next news event to loom out of the fog – and then disappear again, unexplained. And the formats – in news and documentaries – have become so rigid and repetitive that the audiences never really look at them. In the face of this people retreat from journalism and politics. They turn away into their own worlds, and the stories they and their friends tell each other. I think this is wrong, sad, and bad for democracy – because it means the politicians become more and more unaccountable.
“I have made a film that tries to respond to this in two ways. It tells a big story about why the stories we are told today have stopped making sense. But it is also an experiment in a new way of reporting the world. To do this I’ve used techniques that you wouldn’t normally associate with TV journalism. My aim is to make something more emotional and involving […].
“The film is called Bitter Lake. […] It tells a big historical narrative that interweaves America, Britain, Russia and Saudi Arabia. It shows how politicians in the west lost confidence – and began to simplify the stories they told. It explains why this happened – because they increasingly gave their power away to other forces, above all global finance.
“But there is one other country at the centre of the film. Afghanistan. This is because Afghanistan is the place that has repeatedly confronted politicians, as their power declines, with the terrible truth – that they cannot understand what is going on any longer. Let alone control it. The film shows in detail how all the foreigners who went to Afghanistan created an almost totally fictional version of the country in their minds. They couldn’t see the complex reality that was in front of them – because the stories they had been told about the world had become so simplified that they lacked the perceptual apparatus to see reality any longer. And this blindness led to a terrible disaster – support for a blatantly undemocratic government, wholesale financial corruption and thousands of needless deaths. A horrific scandal that we, […] here in Britain, seem hardly aware of. And even if we are – it is dismissed as being just too complex to understand.
“I have got hold of the unedited rushes of almost everything the BBC has ever shot in Afghanistan. It is thousands of hours – some of it is very dull, but large parts of it are extraordinary. Shots that record amazing moments, but also others that are touching, funny and sometimes very odd. These complicated, fragmentary and emotional images evoke the chaos of real experience. And out of them I have tried to build a different and more emotional way of depicting what really happened in Afghanistan.”
His statements about politicians may explain why they all (certainly in Britain, except for Farage) wear such puzzled expressions on their faces now. They are no longer sure what to say to us.
The Bitter Lake is a saltwater lake through which the Suez Canal flows. On Valentine’s Day 1945, after Yalta, President Roosevelt met King Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia on board a warship there. A remarkable photograph was taken, which I saw consciously for the first time last year in the King Abdulaziz Memorial Hall in Riyad. The kneeling figure is the ambassador to the Kingdom, William Eddy. It’s hardly less historically important than the Yalta photograph.
Charlie Beckett presented a programme on our bad news diet (Good News Is No News) on BBC Radio 4 recently (producer Simon Hollis), asking, intelligently, what sort of reality modern journalism is presenting. It plays into Curtis’s points. Listen here. (BBC iPlayer Radio must be the worst-designed site on the web.)
Shakespeare doesn’t mention Magna Carta in King John, which is about the king’s legitimacy, not his barons’ rights.
King John in music? I can only think of the King John overture (1941) by Castelnuovo-Tedesco, one of many that he wrote on Shakespearean themes. It takes as its motto the final words in the play, uttered by Philip the Bastard:
“This England never did, nor never shall,
Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror,
But when it first did help to wound itself.
Now these her princes are come home again,
Come the three corners of the world in arms,
And we shall shock them: Nought shall make us rue,
If England to itself do rest but true.”
Patriotic music for 1941, perhaps, but not at the level of Walton’s for Henry V of three years later. Shakespeare also wrote the greater play three years later.
Below, conducted by its dedicatee John Barbirolli, with the New York Philharmonic, presumably its premiere (unsearchable on YouTube because said to be by “traditional”). Vaughan Williams dedicated an orchestral Flourish for Glorious John to Barbirolli in 1957, but that term of endearment does not refer to anyone in Shakespeare, but to Walter Scott’s epithet for Dryden in The Pirate.
Melvyn Bragg’s radio specials are usually better than In Our Time, his regular slot. He recently did a series on Magna Carta (BBC Radio 4, producer Thomas Morris). Links below.
JC Holt, the modern historian of Magna Carta, the charter of rights obtained from King John by his barons on a meadow by the Thames in Surrey eight hundred years ago this June 15, died last year, and is not in the programme. Telegraph obituary. He also wrote about Robin Hood.
Magna Carta was, in its time, neither unique nor successful. But it had an afterlife.
“Among other things, [Holt] highlighted the fact that many of the broad concepts, such as judgment by peers and protection against arbitrary disseisin (seizure of property) were hot topics all over Europe in the 13th century. Similar charters were issued in Germany, Sicily and France in the 13th and early 14th centuries. Only one thing set England’s Magna Carta apart from the rest: its survival.” (Telegraph)
I went to a talk by Holt early in my first term at Oxford. He was then teaching at the University of Reading and would go on to the Professorship of Medieval History at Cambridge. It was a moment of disillusionment. I don’t know what, in my naïveté, I had expected. Did I think dons would be giants? Did I expect some kind of Jowett? He seemed like a civil servant. Which was no way to think of Holt.
With David Carpenter, Professor of Medieval History, King’s College London; Nicholas Vincent, Professor of Medieval History, University of East Anglia; Cressida Williams, Cathedral and City Archivist, Canterbury Cathedral; Louise Wilkinson, Professor of Medieval History, Canterbury Christ Church University.
With David Carpenter, Professor of Medieval History, King’s College London; Claire Breay, Curator, British Library Magna Carta exhibition; Nicholas Vincent, Professor of Medieval History, University of East Anglia.
“Melvyn Bragg visits Canterbury, seat of Archbishop Stephen Langton, one of the key figures in the peace negotiations.”
With Louise Wilkinson, Professor of Medieval History, Canterbury Christ Church University; Cressida Williams, Cathedral and City Archivist, Canterbury Cathedral; David Carpenter, Professor of Medieval History, King’s College London; Nicholas Vincent, Professor of Medieval History, University of East Anglia; Claire Breay, Curator, British Library Magna Carta exhibition.
“Within a few weeks the agreement had failed, and both sides disavowed it. How did a failed peace treaty turn into the best known legal document in the English-speaking world? Melvyn Bragg looks at the complex politics of thirteenth-century England and discovers how John’s Great Charter was revived and reinvented over the course of the next hundred years.”
With Nicholas Vincent, Professor of Medieval History, University of East Anglia; Daniel Hannan, writer and MEP, South East England; Justin Champion, Professor of the History of Early Modern Ideas, Royal Holloway, University of London; Kathleen Burk, Professor Emerita of Modern and Contemporary History, University College, London.
“How Magna Carta became a cause célèbre during the English Civil War and later exerted a crucial influence on American constitutional thought. 800 years after it was sealed, Magna Carta remains a document of global importance.”
1969 edition of Holt, Magna Carta, CUP, 1965
Monty must already have been working on A History of Warfare, Collins, 1968, where we’ll find examples, missing here – except that Caesar was ordinaire. And who is the inaudible grand chef? Marlborough, who never lost a battle? Even Monty lost at Arnhem. Eisenhower was presumably a grand chef with whom Montgomery disagreed, or was he a mere général ordinaire?
The head of the research team for that book, Alan Howarth, was my favourite history teacher at school. Which is the excuse for this post. He was directly responsible for the abridgement, A Concise History of Warfare, Collins, 1972.
Polly Toynbee on David Cameron. Guardian. I like her comment at the end about Downton Abbey. That stodgy series goes most wrong where it thinks it is most commendable, namely in its approach to “period detail”. People do not live in two-dimensional periods, and an English country house, more than anywhere, was a place whose fabric was layered. Some parts of a building were from one period, some from another. English houses, in consequence, had charm. Downton Abbey has about as much charm as a ballroom in a hotel in Dubai.
I think we are a more divided society than we were five years ago. She paints a depressing picture. But we aren’t Russia, where nothing is true and everything is possible.
Cameron’s tributes to Churchill today, the fiftieth anniversary of his funeral (a few days after the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz), were, I thought, flat.
We seem to have a balanced relationship with Churchill. He is not on a pedestal. We know his weaknesses and terrible mistakes. A man without hypocrisy, as his daughter said. One day, when I was a small boy, my mother (I am told) said to me: “Come to the radio. You will never hear this again.” It must have been one of his last speeches, but I have never been able to work out what it was.
I can remember a photo on the back page of The Times of him coming out of hospital in 1962, giving the Victory signal at the back of his car, or was he leaving the Commons in 1964?, and the days, in January 1965, of waiting for his death. Like everybody else, I watched his funeral on television. “The end of a nation,” Richard Crossman wrote in his diary. In a way, it was. Thank God, on balance, that immigration is renewing it.
During the broadcast, my younger brother stuck a Union Jack into my mother’s hair. An evangelising Jehova’s Witness rang the doorbell. My mother, unaware of the flag, said to the woman: “Do you really have to come in the middle of Churchill’s funeral?”
Cameron asked the nation to tweet its favourite Churchill saying. I didn’t comply, but had I done, would have tweeted the end of his last major speech in the Commons, on March 1 1955, a few weeks before his resignation as prime minister:
“Never flinch, never weary, never despair”.
This sane if unpolitical Air and Variations, a favourite of the Victorians – like The Cuckoo and the Nightingale and Rage over a Lost Penny, not that these works are similar – is the final movement, in E major, of the fifth of the eight harpsichord suites Handel published in 1720. Wilhelm Kempff, piano.
The origin of the nickname is not clear. It is not recorded until the nineteenth century and does not come from Handel.
Herbert Pocket in Great Expectations gives his friend Pip the nickname Handel, because “We are so harmonious, and you have been a blacksmith”.
Percy Grainger based his Handel in the Strand on the tune (piano and various arrangements, the name an allusion to Molly on the Shore).
Kempff takes it rather slowly. The faster it is played, the more Grainger-like it becomes.
Picture: Poussin, or attributed?, Hercule au jardin des Hespérides, Louvre?
The massacre of Glencoe, personally ordered by that model constitutional monarch William III, early in the fourth year of the “Glorious Revolution,” bears an uncanny resemblance in motive and circumstance [the securing of a homogeneous population] to the crimes of Young Turk rulers against Armenians in the era of the Ottoman “Hurriet.” But it needed the more systematic measures taken after 1745 to ensure that there should be no “Gaelic Question” in twentieth-century Great Britain.
The first of the three Jacobite uprisings lasted from 1689 to 1692.
The Western Question in Greece and Turkey, A Study in the Contact of Civilizations, Constable, 1922 (footnote)
Hugh Trevor-Roper broadcasting in French on France Culture radio on April 14 1967. It isn’t clear to me who the live audience is and whether invited or public, nor why he was asked, or chose, to speak about Churchill. He worked at MI6 during the war, but never met Churchill, though he came to know Randolph later. He admired Churchill’s life of Marlborough.
He was, at the time of this lecture, taking a strong stand against the proposed London staging of a play by Rolf Hochhuth which alleged that Churchill had been responsible for the death of the Polish prime minister, General Sikorski, in a plane crash in 1943. In April 1943 the Germans had announced the discovery of mass graves filled with the bodies of thousands of Polish prisoners of war murdered by the Soviets at Katyn Forest in 1940. Churchill, it was alleged, feared that Sikorski’s questions would damage Britain’s relations with Russia. The holocaust-denier David Irving was a friend of Hochhuth and in on the controversy.
Soon afterwards, Trevor-Roper would be on the editorial board, with Sir Mortimer Wheeler, AJP Taylor and others, of a magazine issued in 112 weekly parts by Purnell (1969-71) based on the text of Churchill’s History of the English-Speaking Peoples.
He isn’t really speaking French, but Trevor-Roper lecturese. Lectures were not his best medium. That was the essay.
All the major bus advertisers on one photograph (and some others). Left to right:
Ridge’s Food (Best for Infants).
Mellin’s (oval sign on the stairs). More infant formula.
Oakey’s Wellington Knife Polish. A staple below stairs.
Hotel in South Hackney, probably the Queen’s Hotel.
Infant formula, cocoa, cameras, polish, soap, whisky. Are the hangings on the building Jubilee decorations?
According to Wikipedia, Route 3 didn’t start operation until 1908 and then not on this route. In any case, this looks earlier. What are the words above Putney on the side of that bus?
London General Omnibus Company. The sign that appears to say C&SH must be where you dropped the fare, so when did bus conductors come in?
Augustus and his successors had made good civil servants out of predatory Roman business men of the “equestrian” class; Han Liu Pang [the first Han emperor] and his successors had made them out of predatory feudal gentry bred by the contending Sinic parochial states; Cornwallis and his successors had made them out of predatory commercial agents of the British East India Company.
A Study of History, Vol IX, OUP, 1954
Twentieth-century English composers were to an above-average degree interested in, or inspired or motivated in their work by, women.
Think Bax, Delius, Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Walton.
An Englishman of the generation that has lived through the General War of 1914-18 may remind himself […] of an incident which struck him, at the time, as painfully symbolic. As the War, in its ever-increasing intensity, made wider and wider demands upon the lives of the belligerent nations – like some great river that has burst its bounds in flood and is engulfing field after field and sweeping away village after village – a moment came in England when the offices of the Board of Education [1899-1944] in Whitehall were commandeered for the use of a new department of the War Office [1684-1964] which had been improvised in order to make an intensive study of trench warfare. The ejected Board of Education found asylum in the Victoria and Albert Museum, where it survived on sufferance as though it had been some curious relic of a vanished past. And thus, for several years before the Armistice of the 11th November, 1918, an education for slaughter was being promoted, in the heart of our Western World, within the walls of a public building which had been erected in order to assist in promoting an education for life. As the writer of this Study was walking down Whitehall one day in the spring of that year 1918, he found himself repeating a passage from the Gospel according to Saint Matthew:
“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the Prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand) … then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the World to this time … And, except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved …” [Footnote: Matt. xxiv. 15 and 21-2.]
No reader can fail to understand that when the Ministry of Education of a great Western country is given over to the study of the art of war, the improvement in our Western military technique which is purchased at such a price is synonymous with the destruction of our Western Civilization.
The War Office building was completed in 1906. In 1964, the Admiralty, War Office, Air Ministry, Ministry of Aviation (not the same) and the earlier MOD were merged into the Ministry of Defence, which retained it, though not as its main headquarters. In 2013 it was decided to sell it on the open market. So first war expelled education (presumably from another building: which?), and now business is taking over from war.
A Study of History, Vol III, OUP, 1934