Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Saturday, 11 March 2006

Roundhead Values, Cavalier Tastes

The Edge of England’s Sword nails it. Unfortunately I can't link to Ian Murray's blog anymore as the domain no longer exists, but suffice it to say that he coined the phrase nicely to capture the essence of his personal philosophy. As anyone who knows the history of the English Civil War, Cavalier is the word that preceded the term Tory, which was used to describe the Royalists who supported King Charles I in the war against Parliament. The bad connotation of that word (in uncapitalised form) still survives as something denoting arrogance and haughtiness, a self-important inconsiderate who cares more for his personal glory and vanity than for the welfare of his fellow man.

But Cavaliers didn’t see themselves as swaggering gallants, and in the main, weren't: The chaplain to King Charles, Edward Simmons, described a Cavalier (from the French word, chevallier, meaning knight) as a “Child of Honour, a Gentleman well borne and bred, that loves his king for conscience sake, of a clearer countenance, and bolder look than other men, because of a more loyal Heart.” It was meant as a derogatory and vulgar term, but the flamboyantly dressed, well-groomed and long-haired Royalists quickly adopted the title as a badge of honour.

“Roundhead”, on the other hand, was the pejorative and contemptuous term the Cavaliers gave to the plainly clothed and hair cropped Puritan, who backed Parliament against the undivided powers of the Catholic-minded king. Their efforts, as we all know, led to the beheading of Charles, and eventually to the adoption of a mixed constitution and a more limited monarchy. For better or worse, in the titanic struggle between King and Country, the country prevailed, and Sir Robert Filmer's defense of one-man rule in The Natural Power of Kings, forever received its death knell.

And so I like the phrase. Roundhead values means we celebrate freedom and true progress, and recognize the inate dignity of every human being. Cavalier tastes implies that we continue to hold reverence for our traditions, heritage and institutions, while showing our disdain for those who attack these. In the old meaning of the word it also implies that we reserve our contempt for the tasteless: the ill mannered, insufferable gasbags of this world, and take on those who offend our sense of self-respect and personal dignity. There is no contradiction here. We hold that society, for all its egalitarian and proletariat rhetoric, could still use a little class.


Anonymous said...

... A brillant article, but intempestive and optimistic in a feble sense; from a legitimate historic view, a true connection between Court and Country principles is a product of augustan age ( c. XVIII): whig and tory thinkers... Rounhead is republicanism and dictatorship, meanwhile "Cavalier" is forever loyalty to King and Contry. In Spain, in any case, there is an analogy: royalist as Jovellanos and supporters of Gaditanic Constitution. Is a historic fact, no poetry.