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

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Hogarthian Britain: It's 1750 all over again

Mark Steyn Letter of the Week
Doom and gloom, Britain's finished, eh? I'm not so sure.

In a way, I'm rather excited about where Britain's going at the moment. It has more than a whiff of the eighteenth century about it, as the dominant national consensus from Gladstone to Thatcher breaks down, and the long, grey, dull, compromise-ridden 20th century gives way to a new, almost Georgian sense of social and cultural conflict. I mean to say, here we are again, arguing about how to share the island between England and Scotland; how to deal with massive epidemics of urban drunkenness and crime; what to do with a substantial elite of incredibly wealthy financiers and merchants and an ignorant, feckless and violent underclass; trying to define and then circumscribe the role of corruption in politics (who thought that the de facto sale of titles would make a political come-back?); wondering what the monarchy is for; being sold out to foreigners by a rascally pack of radical, Utopian MPs… Throw a juicy war with France into that lot and it could easily be 1750.

But really it was these questions, these conflicts, this overwhelming sense of crisis which underpinned the very individualism and innovation which in the 18th century put the English-speaking people to the top of the pecking order of nations and has kept us there. I reckon that Britain's detachment from the innovative individualism of the rest of the Anglosphere during recent generations is largely due to the success of the late Victorians in forging a homogenous society, the sense of national and social solidarity which proved such fertile breeding-ground for collectivist ideas and which has therefore turned us into the sluggish, complacent and obeisant loosers we are today. That settlement is now falling to bits, and I look forward to a time when this naturally bolshy and traditionally virtually ungovernable people reasserts itself in the new context.

After all, what do you think of when you consider the parallels between the following old lines and our provincial city centres on a Friday night:

Gin by pailfuls, wine in rivers,
Dash the window-glass to shivers!
For three wild lads were we, brave boys,
And three wild lads were we:
Thou on the land, and I on the sand,
And Jack on the gallows-tree!

I think: Britain is Back...

Posted by our very own Cato, who won Mark Steyn's letter of the week!


Scott said...

Interesting, but I don't recall the EU, political correctness, an irreligious and anti-religious Establishment, or 4 million CCTV cameras existing in the 1700s. They will rather put the damper on any individualism we might otherwise attain.

Beaverbrook said...

It's very difficult to guard against overpessimism and overoptimism. There's a lot of joyless stuff floating around, and some really pernicious forces at work. Still, we must learn to take some joy in the existing things, and to defend them with all the conviction we can muster.

My thanks to Cato for sending the above link.

Scott said...

You're right. I do think that letter is marvellous, and cheering, and suggestive of important reserves and wells we perhaps have forgotten or overlooked.

Anonymous said...

No probs Beaverbrook. If I had the faintest recollection how to log into this thing, I could post the pearls of my wisdom here rather than on other people's sites!


Beaverbrook said...

I had a premonition that it was you, Cato, who sent that letter to Mark Steyn. Congrats on getting published as the letter of the week!

Cato, I can send you your log-in email address, but there is no way to know your password.

Anonymous said...

Could it be my Manxnet e-mail address?


Scott said...

Oh, bravo, Cato!

Great letter, as I said. Provocative and hopeful - but I do fear there are obstacles.

Beaverbrook said...

T'is indeed, Cato.

Both of you Oxford gents, I am most grateful to have onboard! Is it true what Peter Hitchens is saying, and the Muslim call to prayer can be heard over the temples at Oxford now. Please tell me it's not true. I can't fathom it.

Scott said...

It can't be - yet. It's the Cowley mosque which wishes it, I believe: East Oxford, nearest to St Hilda's, Madgalden, and about every 2nd year student living out.

Since Oxford council is dominated by Muslims, Liberal Democrats and the Green Party, there is every chance it will go through. And then of course, once it goes three times a day, why not extend it to five?

Lord Best said...

It cant be much worse than adolescent thugs pumping out their doof doof music all day from their carspeekers, noise pollution is noise pollution, surely it would have to be kept within the existing decibel range allowed by law?
I know in Spain there have been several cases of Church bells being silenced due to noise pollution regulation infringements, surely that will apply to mosques.
Ask them to put the call to prayer out via text message.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Beaverbrook... I'll try to remember the other details.

As for the Cowley Mosque, I would be more concerned to fix the deluded utopianism of the Senior Common Rooms before it creates yet another generation of soft-left iconoclasts to populate the professions.

That's the real problem, not Islam. Dar al'Islam isn't a strong and implacable foe - it is weak and divided. The snag is that thanks to faculty activists and their media collaborators, those who attack our culture are pushing on an open door. A culturally confident Britain could take a few more mosques without any problems - so worry about our real enemies in leather jackets and not phoney ones in kheffiyahs.


Scott said...

The call to prayer is more than mere noise pollution: its point is to assert itself over a given territory and populace, and to proclaim a foreign god Lord in our land.

But you are right about other problems contributing: the thing is, even if Islamism is a weak force, Britain is presently weaker in many areas, and even if we were stronger it does not change that terrifying fact.

The thing that upsets and startles me is that it is Oxford - Oxford - of all places, that is suffering this. If royal, Christian, Oxford, with all its pubs and spires (a city known, for crying out loud, as "the city of dreaming spires"), can have the adhan sent out over a quarter of itself, nowhere is safe.

The good news is, a whole future generation of the Establishment will be coming up against the Islamisation of Britain first hand. Should be useful warning.

Lord Best said...

Attacking the call to prayer on noise pollution grounds is more likely to succeed, as attacking it on any other ground is more open to claims about racism and religious intolerance.
As it happens I tend to agree with Cato, the issue with Muslims is our weakness, not their strength. I happen to know several Muslim families quite well, and the LAST thing they want is any kind of attention, yet they recieve it because of a vocal minority of their own and a vocal minority of "us" who try and push them into prominence.
By the way, the Muhammad thing is a complete fabrication, as of 2007 the most popular boys name in the UK is Jack followed by Thomas, Joshua, Oliver and Harry, according to the latest census information. Muhammad is 17th. The issue came about because the Times lumped all names derived from, and all spellings of, Muhammad under Muhammad, which would be like lumping Charles, Charlie and Carl (and Karl) into one. Or Britney, Britanny, Britany etc.

Lord Best said...

Another double post, sorry.

But it really annoys me that we in the Anglosphere have become so cowardly and weak (not accusing anyone here) that we are scared of a relatively small (3% in England) Islamic community. They will integrate one day, the religion thing will subside, and all this nonsense will be looked on with distaste in a few generations. The process would be faster if our culture was not not so weak.

Kipling said...

This has to be the most positive essay I've read in a many a moon on the state of Britain!!! Good on the Steyn for selecting it as letter of the day. We should, however, mourn the passing of the Victorian consensus. Not perfect but it held Britain and the English spekaing peoples together as societies through the trauma of industrialization and urbanization.

Personally I'm a Georgian, but can a society exist only with Georgians? I would like to imagine this is so but I have my doubts. It was a brilliant if "filthy" era. Geoffrey Treasure's excellent Who's Who books on Georgian Britain (he calls it Hannoverian!) are a fine resource.

Well Cato, I hope you're right. We await our Chatham and Dr Johnson! A new Augustan Era!!!

Perhaps G.F. Handel could stage a come back......