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

Monday, 19 February 2007

The inarticulate "No"

Offers of preferment have come thick and fast via email. I have not, alas, been offered either the Deanery, where I would make a much better Dean than the maundering Peter Beck, or the Bishopric of Cloyne, which was unjustly withheld from me by the unaccountable prejudices of Her Majesty Queen Anne. Did I not protest my loyalty, and my attachment to her (considerable) person, more times than I can count?

I have, however, by the grace of my Lord Beaverbrook, been appointed a Gentleman Scribe at The Monarchist. Let us be grateful for small mercies, at least I don't have to write those dull pamphlets on Irish malt again. I have been surveying the ground in this, Her Majesty's realm of New Zealand, preparatory to a few polemical pamphlets on the subject. I always like to earn my sinecures.

It appears that the Republican movement are at last learning wisdom. Instead of producing an Oliver Cromwell thundering about the Army of the Lord and the will of the Lord Protector, they have instead produced "El Presidente" Lewis Holden, who thunders about the masses of the people and the will of democracy with equal, if slightly more restrained, fervour. Mr. Holden is a nice chap, by all accounts, and judging by the quality of his opponents, his patience speaks well of his character, but his arguments, impressive as they may appear, are flawed.

Monarchists in general, are like my unfortunate secretary, Mr. Bickerstaff. They know what they believe (that is, that Her Majesty is the ordained Sovereign, entitled to allegiance, the head of the body politic and a focus of loyalty). They know that people like Mr. Holden, nice as they may be, are contemplating something wrong, bad, an appalling tearing of our constitutional fabric, a sacrilege. And when Mr. Holden puts his ducks in a row and demands to know why we do not agree with him and Jim Bolger on the following points, people like Mr. Bickerstaff are reduced to incoherence. As I write this, Mr. Bickerstaff is muttering darkly: "the thin end of the wedge...a Bennite solution...,where will it end...Robespierre...last and greatest lady of our time....outrage!". When he has worked himself up into a state, he will have to be restored with soothing draughts of Elgar, and readings of "The Boys' Own Annual" . What can account for such a state of affairs?

The essence of Monarchism is inarticulate. It is a sense of reverence, of piety, of what is fitting. It is, first and foremost, not a matter of the "reason" defined as Lewis Holden would no doubt define it, but a matter of the heart, not of feeling, but of attachment, of allegiance and custom. Mr. Holden, stuffed as he no doubt is with Social Contract theory involving citizens, and not subjects, lacks the simple insight of Mr. Bickerstaff and Mr. Burke.

We do not "frame a government for ourselves". We are not rational tabulae rasa. We are not given rational choices about how and where we fit, where we are born, where we grow, and what we love. Burke said that we do not "frame" the social order, we do not choose the vital attachment to the body politic, or construct our national story. It is not, it cannot, be created by fiat, by something like Keith Locke's "Head of State Referenda Bill", which Mr. Holden bangs on about valiantly.

We inherit it. As we do not choose our family, but are simply dropped into a web of kinship, allegiance and love, so also, we do not choose our constitution. We inherit it, and we are responsible for it as it is, for its stewardship, and for its organic change. It is no doubt possible for Mr. Holden to bring forward yet another scheme on abstract principles, which purports to provide for the better government of this country.

But has it the power of Monarchy? Has it the national mythology, the attachment, the allegiance, the custom, and the ratification of the heart? Monarchists view Mr. Holden and his hordes as sacreligious because, as Burke puts it, it is "natural" for us to love our institutions. We don't just respect them, reverence them, think they are useful or helpful for the protection of abstractions. We love them. And, with all our faults, we love our Queen.

The inarticulate "No" of Mr. Bickerstaff is the result of an awake conscience, a sense of right, a reverence for the institutions which we have inherited. And Dr. Swift joins him, in the full knowledge that we receive, we do not construct. Look for Mr. Holden to (try and) demolish this fabric of allegiance. To substitute his vapid political oligarchy for our lawful Sovereign, he must demolish Mr. Bickerstaff, and Bickerstaffian allegiances. He must ignore or demolish the inarticulate "No".

Cross-posted at The Kiwi Examiner


Beaverbrook said...

Yes, Swift, but I would definitely count this as an articulate "no", and there have been others - Kipling's "Why Monarchy? Why Tradition?" under treasured posts is only the latest that comes to mind. Most of the time, however, you are right as we just ramble on vaguely, unable to quite put our finger on what we are trying to convey, though we know the natural instinct within us does not lie. Unfortunately, abstract arguments are easier to come by, shallow as they are, based on reason alone, and empty of soul.

Scott said...

But don't you feel the Monarchy has been painfully neglectful of a number of its constitutional roles in the past 50 years? For instance, a number of laws should never have been passed in the UK, but have been; in the US, should such a probelm arise, the President can veto them. All such necessary measures of the Executive have been essentially given up or taken from the Crown. There is a horrible imbalance right now. The Prime Minister has a huge arsenal of unchecked powers that are not properly his.

A "no" of any level of eloquence can, I believe, be coupled with a rational argument deliciously dependent on the Republican example of the States with its model of a powerful executive. Delicious because it allows us to both stress the deep, essential powers of Monarchy in the human breast, with a demonstrable necessity for an active, powerful Executive, something readily apprehended by the human brain. That is, Monarchy wins on two counts, Republicanism only on one, and the successes of Republicanism should actually be used to stress how the Monarchy must be both symbolic and active, and is, for all lovers of liberty, an irrelevance only at the greatest peril to individual subjects.

Hoists, petards, etc.

Swift said...

My dear Mr. Scott, I have only begun to fight. The problem is, all the "inarticulate things" are ruled out of the argument by the Republicans because they're not based on "reason". That's a very narrow and dogmatic view of what reason is, as the Pope pointed out a while ago. The inarticulate forms of connection and cohesion count too.

Anonymous said...

If anybody deserves a promotion in title it is you dude!
(real conservative)