Proelium Lewensis

Factum est hoc proelium in die XIIII mensis Maii anno MCCLXIIII.

[MS. Harley 978. fol. 128, r].


Calamus velociter scribe sic scribentis,
Lingua laudabiliter te benedicentis,
Dei patris dextera, domine virtutum,
Qui das tuis prospera quando vis ad nutum;
In te jam confidere discant universi,
Quos volebant perdere qui nunc sunt dispersi.
Quorum caput capitur, membra captivantur;
Gens elata labitur, fideles lætantur.
Jam respirat Anglia, sperans libertatem;
Cuï Dei gratia det prosperitatem!
Comparati canibus Angli viluerunt,
Sed nunc victis hostibus caput extulerunt.
Gratiæ millesimo ducentesimoque
Anno sexagesimo quarto, quarta quoque
Feria Pancratii post sollempnitatem,
Valde gravis prelii tulit tempestatem
Anglorum turbatio, castroque Lewensi;
Nam furori ratio, vita cessit ensi.
Pridie qui Maii Idus confluxerunt,
Horrendi discidii bellum commiserunt;
Quod fuit Susexiæ factum comitatu,
Fuit et Cicestriæ in episcopatu.
Gladius invaluit, multi ceciderunt,
Veritas prævaluit, falsique fugerunt.
Nam perjuris restitit dominus virtutum,
Atque puris præstitit veritatis scutum.
Hos vastavit gladius foris, intus pavor;
Confortavit plenius istos cœli favor.
Victoris sollempnia sanctæque coronæ
Reddunt testimonia super hoc agone;
Cum dictos ecclesia sanctos honoravit,
Milites victoria veros coronavit.
Dei sapientia, regens totum mundum,
Fecit mirabilia bellumque jocundum;
Fortes fecit fugere, virosque virtutis
In claustro se claudere, locis quoque tutis.
Non armis sed gratia christianitatis,
Id est in ecclesia, excommunicatis
Unicum refugium restabat, relictis
Equis, hoc consilium occurrebat victis.
Et quam non timuerant prius prophanare,
Quam more debuerant matris honorare,
Ad ipsam refugiunt, licet minus digni,
Amplexus se muniunt salutaris ligni.
Quos matrem contempnere prospera fecerunt,
Vulnera cognoscere matrem compulerunt.
Apud Northamptoniam dolo prosperati,
Spreverunt ecclesiam infideles nati;
Sanctæ matris viscera ferro turbaverunt,
Prosperis non prospera bella meruerunt.
Mater tunc injuriam tulit patienter,
Quasi per incuriam, sed nec affluenter:
Punit hanc et alias quas post addiderunt,
Nam multas ecclesias insani læserunt;
Namque monasterium, quod Bellum vocatur,
Turba sævientium, quæ nunc conturbatur,
Inmisericorditer bonis spoliavit,
Atque sibi taliter bellum præparavit.
Monachi Cystercii de Ponte-Roberti
A furore gladii non fuissent certi,
Si quingentas principi marcas non dedissent.
Quas Edwardus accipi jussit, vel perissent.
Hiis atque similibus factis meruerunt
Quod cesserunt hostibus et succubuerunt.
Benedicat dominus S. de Monte-Forti!
Suis nichilominus natis et cohorti!
Qui se magnanimiter exponentes morti,
Pugnaverunt fortiter, condolentes sorti
Anglicorum flebili, qui subpeditati
Modo vix narrabili, peneque privati
Cunctis libertatibus, immo sua vita,
Sub duris principibus langüerunt ita,
Ut Israelitica plebs sub Pharaone,
Gemens sub tyrannica devastatione.
Sed hanc videns populi Deus agoniam,
Dat in fine seculi novum Mathathiam,
Et cum suis filiis zelans zelum legis,
Nec cedit injuriis nec furori regis.
Seductorem nominant .S. atque fallacem;
Facta sed examinant probantque veracem.
Dolosi deficiunt in necessitate;
Qui mortem non fugiunt, sunt in veritate.
Sed nunc dicit æmulus, et insidiator,
Cujus nequam oculus pacis perturbator:
“Si laudas constantiam, si fidelitatem,
Quæ mortis instantiam vel pœnalitatem
Non fugit, æqualiter dicentur constantes
Qui concurrunt pariter invicem pugnantes,
Pariter discrimini semet exponentes,
Duroque cognomini se subjicientes.”
Sed in nostro prelio cuï nunc instamus,
Qualis sit discretio rei videamus.
Comes paucos habuit armorum expertos
Pars regis intumuit, bellatores certos
Et majores Angliæ habens congregatos,
Floremque militiæ regni nominatos;
Qui Londoniensibus armis comparati,
Essent multis milibus trecenti prælati;
Unde contemptibiles illis extiterunt,
Et abhominabiles expertis fuerunt.
Comitis militia plurima tenella;
In armis novitia, parum novit bella.
Nunc accinctus gladio tener adolescens
Mane stat in prelio armis assuescens;
Quid mirum si timeat tyro tam novellus,
Et si lupum caveat impotens agnellus?
Sic ergo militia sunt inferiores
Qui pugnant pro Anglia, sunt et pauciores
Multo viris fortibus, de sua virtute
Satis gloriantibus, ut putarent tute,
Et sine periculo, velut absorbere
Quotquot adminiculo Comiti fuere.
Nam et quos adduxerat Comes ad certamen,
De quibus speraverat non parvum juvamen,
Plurimi perterriti mox se subtraxerunt,
Et velut attoniti fugæ se dederunt;
Et de tribus partibus tertia recessit.
Comes cum fidelibus paucis nunquam cessit.
Gedeonis prelium nostro comparemus,
In quibus fidelium vincere videmus
Paucos multos numero fidem non habentes,
Similes Lucifero de se confidentes.
“Si darem victoriam,” dicit Deus, “multis,
Stulti michi gloriam non darent, sed stultis.”
Sic si Deus fortibus vincere dedisset,
Vulgus laudem talibus non Deo dedisset.
Ex hiis potest elici quod non timuerunt
Deum viri bellici, unde nil fecerunt
Quod suam constantiam vel fidelitatem
Probet, sed superbiam et crudelitatem;
Volentes confundere partem quam spreverunt,
Exeuntes temere cito corruerunt.
Cordis exaltatio præparat ruinam,
Et humiliatio meretur divinam
Dari sibi gratiam; nam qui non confidit
De Deo, superbiam Deus hanc elidit.
Aman introducimus atque Mardocheum;
Hunc superbum legimus, hunc verum Judæum;
Lignum quod paraverat Aman Mardocheo,
Mane miser tollerat suspensus in eo.
Reginæ convivium Aman excœcavit,
Quod ut privilegium magnum reputavit;
Sed spes vana vertitur in confusionem,
Cum post mensam trahitur ad suspensionem.
Sic extrema gaudii luctus occupavit,
Cum finem convivii morti sociavit.
Longe dissimiliter accidit Judæo,
Honorat sublimiter quem rex, dante Deo.
Golias prosternitur projectu lapilli;
Quem Deus persequitur, nichil prodest illi.
Ad prædictas varias adde rationes,
Quod tot fornicarias fætidi lenones
Ad se convocaverant, usque septingentas,
Quas scire debuerant esse fraudulentas,
Sathanæ discipulas ad decipiendas
Animas, et faculas ad has incendendas,
Dolosas novaculas ad crines Samsonis
Radendos, et maculas turpis actionis
Inferentes miseris qui non sunt cordati,
Nec divini muneris gratia firmati,
Carnis desideriis animales dati,
Cujus immunditiis, brutis comparati,
Esse ne victoria digni debuerunt,
Qui carnis luxuria fœda sorduerunt:
Factis lupanaribus robur minuerunt,
Unde militaribus indigni fuerunt.
Accingitur gladio super femur miles,
Absit dissolutio, absint actus viles;
Corpus novi militis solet balneari,
Ut a factis vetitis discat emundari.
Qui de novo duxerant uxores legales,
Domini non fuerant apti bello tales,
Gedeonis prelio teste, multo minus
Quos luxus incendio læserat caminus.
Igitur adulteros cur Deus juvaret,
Et non magis pueros mundos roboraret?
Mundentur qui cupiunt vincere pugnando;
Qui culpas subjiciunt sunt in triumphando;
Primo vincant vitia, qui volunt victores
Esse cum justitia super peccatores.
Si justus ab impio quandoque videtur
Victus, e contrario victor reputetur;
Nam nec justus poterit vinci, nec iniquus
Vincere dum fuerit juris inimicus.
Æquitatem comitis Symonis audite:
Cum pars regis capitis ipsius et vitæ
Solam pœnam quæreret, nec redemptionem
Capitis admitteret, sed abscisionem,
Quo confuso plurima plebs confunderetur,
Et pars regni maxima periclitaretur,
Ruina gravissima statim sequeretur;
Quæ mora longissima non repareretur!
.S. divina gratia præsul Cycestrensis,
Alta dans suspiria pro malis immensis
Jam tunc imminentibus, sine fictione,
Persüasis partibus de formatione
Pacis, hoc a Comite responsum audivit:
“Optimos eligite, quorum fides vivit,
Qui decreta legerint, vel theologiam
Decenter docuerint sacramque sophiam,
Et qui sciant regere fidem Christianam;
Quicquidque consulere per doctrinam sanam
Quicquidve discernere tales non timebunt,
Quod dicent, suscipere promptos nos habebunt;
Ita quod perjurii notam nesciamus,
Sed ut Dei filii fidem teneamus.”
Hinc possunt perpendere facile jurantes,
Et quod jurant spernere parum dubitantes,
Quamvis jurent licita, cito recedentes,
Deoque pollicita sana non reddentes,
Quanta cura debeant suum juramentum
Servare, cum videant virum nec tormentum
Neque mortem fugere propter jusjurandum,
Præstitum non temere, sed ad reformandum
Statum qui deciderat Anglicanæ gentis,
Quem fraus violaverat hostis invidentis.
En Symon obediens spernit dampna rerum,
Pœnis se subjiciens, ne dimittat verum,
Cunctis palam prædicans factis plus quam dictis,
Quod non est communicans veritas cum fictis.
Væ perjuris miseris, qui non timent Deum!
Spe terreni muneris abnegantes eum,
Vel timore carceris, sive pœnæ levis;
Novus dux itineris docet ferre quævis
Quæ mundus intulerit propter veritatem,
Quæ perfectam poterit dare libertatem.
Nam Comes præstiterat prius juramentum,
Quod quicquid providerat zelus sapientum
Ad honoris regii reformationem,
Et erroris devii declinationem,
Partibus Oxoniæ, firmiter servaret,
Hujusque sententiæ legem non mutaret;
Sciens tam canonicas constitutiones
Atque tam catholicas ordinationes
Ad regni pacificam conservationem,
Propter quas non modicam persecutionem
Prius sustinuerat, non esse spernandas;
Et quia juraverat fortiter tenendas,
Nisi perfectissimi fidei doctores
Dicerent, quod eximi possent juratores,
Qui tale præstiterant prius jusjurandum,
Et id quod juraverant non esse curandum.
Quod cum dictus pontifex regi recitaret,
Atque fraudis artifex forsitan astaret,
Vox in altum tollitur turbæ tumidorum,
“En jam miles subitur dictis clericorum!
Viluit militia clericis subjecta!”
Sic est sapientia Comitis despecta;
Edwardusque dicitur ita respondisse,
“Pax illis præcluditur, nisi laqueis se
Collis omnes alligent, et ad suspendendum
Semet nobis obligent, vel ad detrahendum.”
Quid mirum si Comitis cor tunc moveretur,
Cum non nisi stipitis pœna pareretur?
Optulit quod debuit, sed non est auditus;
Rex mensuram respuit, salutis oblitus.
Sed ut rei docuit crastinus eventus,
Modus quem tunc noluit post non est inventus.
Comitis devotio sero deridetur,
Cujus cras congressio victrix sentietur.
Lapis hic ab hostibus diu reprobatus,
Post est parietibus duobus aptatus.
Angliæ divisio desolationis
Fuit in confinio, sed divisionis
Affuit præsidio lapis angularis,
Symonis religio sane singularis.
Fides et fidelitas Symonis solius
Fit pacis integritas Angliæ totius;
Rebelles humiliat, levat desperatos,
Regnum reconsilians, reprimens elatos.
Quos quo modo reprimit? certe non laudendo,
Sed rubrum jus exprimit dure confligendo;
Ipsum nam confligere veritas coegit,
Vel verum deserere, sed prudens elegit
Magis dare dexteram suam veritati,
Viamque per asperam junctam probitati,
Per grave compendium tumidis ingratum,
Optinere bravium violentis datum,
Quam per subterfugium Deo displicere,
Pravorumque studium fuga promovere.
Nam quidam studuerant Anglorum delere
Nomen, quos jam cæperant exosos habere,
Contra quos opposuit Deus medicinam,
Ipsorum cum noluit subitam ruinam.
Hinc alienigenas discant advocare
Angli, si per advenas volunt exulare.
Nam qui suam gloriam volunt ampliare,
Suamque memoriam vellent semper stare,
Suæ gentis plurimos sibi sociari,
Et mox inter maximos student collocare;
Itaque confusio crescit incolarum,
Crescit indignatio, crescit cor amarum,
Cum se premi sentiunt regni principales
Ab hiis qui se faciunt sibi coæquales,
Quæ sua debuerant esse subtrahentes,
Quibus consüeverant crescere, crescentes.
Eschaetis et gardiis suos honorare
Debet rex, qui variis modis se juvare
Possunt, qui quo viribus sunt valentiores,
Eo cunctis casibus sunt securiores.
Sed qui nil attulerant, si suis ditantur,
Qui nullius fuerant, si magnificantur,
Crescere cum ceperint, semper scandunt tales
Donec supplantaverint viros naturales;
Principis avertere cor a suis student,
Ut quos volunt cadere gloria denudent.
Et quis posset talia ferre patienter?
Ergo discat Anglia cavere prudenter,
Ne talis perplexitas amplius contingat,
Ne talis adversitas Anglicos inpingat.
Hüic malo studuit comes obviare,
Quod nimis invaluit quasi magnum mare,
Quod parvo conamine nequibat siccari,
Sed magno juvamine Dei transvadari.
Veniant extranei cito recessuri,
Quasi momentanei, sed non permansuri.
Una juvat aliam manuum duarum,
Neutra tollens gratiam verius earum;
Juvet et non noceat locum retinendo.
Quæque suum valeat ita veniendo;
Gallicus ad Anglicum benefaciendo.
Et non per sophisticum vultum seducendo,
Nec alter alterius bona subtrahendo;
Immo suum potius onus sustinendo.
Commodum si proprium comitem movisset,
Nec haberet alium zelum, nec quæsisset
Toto suo studio reformationi
Regni, sed intentio dominationi,
Solam suam quæreret, et promotionem
Suorum proponerat, ad ditationem
Filiorum tenderet, et communitatis
Salutem negligeret, ac duplicitatis
Palli[o] supponeret virus falsitatis;
Sic fidem relinqueret Christianitatis,
Et horrendæ subderet se pœnalitatis
Legi, nec effugeret pondus tempestatis.
Et quis potest credere quod se morti daret,
Suos vellet perdere, ut sic exaltaret?
Callide si palliant honorem venantes;
Et quod mortem fugiant semper meditantes;
Nulli magis diligunt vitam temporalem,
Nulli magis eligunt statum non mortalem.
Honores qui sitiunt simulate tendunt,
Caute sibi faciunt nomen quod intendunt;
Non sic venerabilis .S. de Monte-forti,
Qui se Christo similis dat pro multis morti;
Ysaac non moritur cum sit promptus mori;
Vervex morti traditur, Ysaac honori.
Nec fraus nec fallacia Comitem promovit,
Sed divina gratia, quæ quos juvet novit.
Horam si vocaveris locum que conflictus,
Invenire poteris quod ut esset victus
Potius quam vinceret illi conferebat;
Sed ut non succumberet Deus providebat.
Non de nocte subito surripit latenter;
Immo die redito pugnat evidenter.
Sic et locus hostibus fuit oportunus,
Ut hinc constet omnibus esse Dei munus,
Quod cessit victoria de se confidenti.
Hinc discat militia, quæ torneamenti
Laudat exercitium, ut sic expedita
Reddatur ad prælium, qualiter contrita
Fuit hic pars fortium exercitatorum,
Armis imbecillium et inexpertorum:
Ut confundet fortia, promovet infirmos,
Confortat debilia Deus, sternit firmos.
Sic nemo confidere de se jam præsumat;
Sed in Deum ponere spem si sciat, sumat
Arma cum constantia, nichil dubitando,
Cum sit pro justitia Deus adjuvando.
Sicque Deum decuit Comitem juvare,
Sine quo non potuit hostem superare.
Cujus hostem dixerim? Comitis solius?
Vel Anglorum sciverim regnique totius?
Forsan et ecclesiæ, igitur et Dei?
Quod si sic, quid gratiæ; conveniret ei?
Gratiam demeruit in se confidendo,
Nec juvari debuit Deum non timendo.
Cadit ergo gloria propriæ virtutis;
Et sic in memoria, qui dat destitutis
Viribus auxilium, paucis contra multos,
Virtute fidelium conterendo stultos,
Benedictus dominus Deus ultionum!
Qui in cœlis eminus sedet super thronum,
Et virtute propria colla superborum
Calcat, subdens grandia pedibus minorum.
Duos reges subdidit et hæredes regum,
Quos captivos reddidit transgressores legum,
Pompamque militiæ cum magna sequela
Dedit ignominiæ; nam barones tela
Quæ zelo justitiæ pro regno sumpserunt,
Filiis superbiæ communicaverunt,
Usque dum victoria de cœlo dabatur,
Cum ingenti gloria quæ non sperabatur,
Arcus namque fortium tunc est superatus,
Cœtus inbecillium robore firmatus;
Et de cœlo diximus, ne quis glorietur;
Sed Christo quem credimus omnis honor detur!
Christus enim imperat, vincit, regnat idem;
Christus suos liberat, quibus dedit fidem.
Ne victorum animus manus osculetur
Suas, Deum petimus quod illis præstetur;
Et quod Paulus suggerit ab ipsis servetur,
“Qui lætatus fuerit, in Deo lætetur.”
Si quis nostrum gaudeat vane gloriatus,
Dominus indulgeat, et non sit iratus!
Et cautos efficiat nostros in futurum;
Ne factum deficiat, faciant se murum!
Quod cæpit perficiat vis omnipotentis,
Regnumque reficiat Anglicanæ gentis!
Ut sit sibi gloria, suis pax electis,
Donec sint in patria se duce provectis.
Hæc Angli de prælio legite Lewensi,
Cujus patrocinio vivitis defensi;
Quia si victoria jam victis cessisset,
Anglorum memoria victa viluisset.
Cuï comparabitur nobilis Edwardus?
Forte nominabitur recte leopardus.
Si nomen dividimus, leo fit et pardus:
Leo, quia vidimus quod non fuit tardus
Aggredi fortissima, nullius occursum
Timens, audacissima virtute discursum
Inter castra faciens, et velut ad votum
Ubi et proficiens, ac si mundum totum
Alexandro similis cito subjugaret
Si fortunæ mobilis rota semper staret;
In qua summus protinus sciat se casurum,
Qui regnat ut dominus parum regnaturum.
Quod Edwardo nobili liquet accidisse,
Quem gradu non stabili constat cecidisse.
Leo per superbiam, per ferocitatem;
Est per inconstantiam et varietatem
Pardus, verbum varians et promissionem,
Per placentem pallians se locutionem.
Cum in arcto fuerit quicquid vis promittit;
Sed mox ut evaserit, promissum dimittit.
Testis sit Glovernia, ubi quod juravit
Liber ab angustia statim revocavit.
Dolum seu fallaciam quibus expeditur
Nominat prudentiam; via qua venitur
Quo vult quamvis devia recta reputatur;
Nefas det placentia, fasque nominatur;
Quicquid libet licitum dicit, et a lege
Se putat explicitum, quasi major rege.
Nam rex omnis regitur legibus quas legit;
Rex Saül repellitur, quia leges fregit;
Et punitus legitur David mox ut egit
Contra legem; igitur hinc sciat qui legit,
Quod non potest regere qui non servat legem;
Nec hunc debent facere ad quos spectat regem.
O Edwarde! fieri vis rex, sine lege;
Vere forent miseri recti tali rege!
Nam quid lege rectius qua cuncta reguntur,
Et quid jure verius quo res discernuntur?
Si regnum desideras, leges venerare;
Vias dabit asperas leges impugnare,
Asperas et invias quæ te non perducent;
Leges si custodias ut lucerna lucent.
Ergo dolum caveas et abomineris;
Veritati studeas, falsum detesteris.
Quamvis dolus floreat, fructus nequit ferre;
Hoc te psalmus doceat; ad fideles terræ
Dicit Deus, “Oculi mei sunt, sedere
Quos in fine seculi mecum volo vere.”
Dolus Northamptoniæ vide quid nunc valet;
Nec fervor fallaciæ velut ignis calet.
Si dolum volueris igni comparare,
Paleas studueris igni tali dare,
Quæ mox, ut exarserint, desistunt ardere,
Et cum vix inceperint terminum tenere.
Ita transit vanitas non habens radices;
Radicata veritas non mutat per vices.
Ergo tibi libeat id solum quod licet,
Et non tibi placeat quod vir duplex dicet.
Princeps quæ sunt principe digna cogitabit:
Ergo legem suscipe, quæ te dignum dabit
Multorum regimine, dignum principatu,
Multorum juvamine, multo comitatu.
Et quare non diligis quorum rex vis esse?
Prodesse non eligis, sed tantum præesse.
Qui nullius gloriam nisi suam quærit,
Ejus per superbiam quicquid regit, perit.
Ita totum periit nuper quod regebas;
Gloria præteriit quam solam quærebas;
En radicem tangimus perturbationis
Regni de quo scribimus, et dissentionis
Partium quæ prælium dictum commiserunt.
Ad diversa studium suum converterunt.
Rex cum suis voluit ita liber esse;
Et sic esse debuit, fuitque necesse
Aut esse desineret rex, privatus jure
Regis, nisi faceret quicquid vellet; curæ
Non esse magnatibus regni, quos præferret
Suis comitatibus, vel quibus conferret
Castrorum custodiam, vel quem exhibere
Populo justitiam vellet, et habere
Regni cancellarium thesaurariumque.
Suum ad arbitrium voluit quemcumque,
Et consiliarios de quacumque gente,
Et ministros varios se præcipiente,
Non intromittentibus se de factis regis
Angliæ baronibus, vim habente legis
Principis imperio, et quod imperaret
Suomet arbitrio singulos ligaret.
Nam et comes quilibet sic est compos sui,
Dans suorum quidlibet quantum vult et cuï
Castra, terras, redditus, cuï vult committit,
Et quamvis sit subditus, rex totum permittit.
Quod si bene fecerit, prodest facienti;
Si non, ipse viderit, sibimet nocenti
Rex non adversabitur. Cur conditionis
Pejoris efficitur princeps, si baronis,
Militis, et liberi res ita tractantur?
Quare regem fieri servum machinantur,
Qui suam minuere volunt potestatem,
Principis adimere suam dignitatem,
Volunt in custodiam et subjectionem
Regiam potentiam per seditionem
Captivam retrudere, et exhæredare
Regem, ne tam ubere valeat regnare
Sicut reges hactenus qui se præcesserunt,
Qui suis nullatenus subjecti fuerunt,
Sed suas ad libitum res distribuerunt,
Et ad suum placitum sua contulerunt.
Hæc est regis ratio, quæ vera videtur,
Et hæc allegatio jus regni tuetur.
Sed nunc ad oppositum calamus vertatur:—
Baronum propositum dictis subjungatur;
Et auditis partibus dicta conferantur,
Atque certis finibus collata claudantur,
Ut quæ pars sit verior valeat liquere.
Veriori promor populus parere.
Baronum pars igitur jam pro se loquatur,
Et quo zelo ducitur rite prosequatur.
Quæ pars in principio palam protestatur,
Quod honori regio nichil machinatur;
Vel quærit contrarium, immo reformare
Studet statum regium et magnificare;
Sicut si ab hostibus regnum vastaretur,
Non sine baronibus tune reformaretur,
Quibus hoc competeret atque conveniret;
Et qui tunc se fingeret, ipsum lex puniret
Ut reum perjurii, regis proditorem,
Qui quicquid auxilii regis ad honorem
Potest, debet domino cum periclitatur,
Cum velut in termino regnum deformatur.
Regis adversarii sunt hostes bellantes,
Et consiliarii regi adulantes,
Qui verbis fallacibus principem seducunt,
Linguisque duplicibus in errorem ducunt:
Hii sunt adversarii perversis pejores;
Hii se bonos faciunt cum sint seductores,
Et honoris proprii sunt procuratores;
Incautos decipiunt, quos securiores
Reddunt per placentia, unde non caventur,
Sed velut utilia dicentes censentur.
Hii possunt decipere plusquam manifesti,
Qui se sciunt fingere velut non infesti.
Quid si tales miseri, talesque mendaces,
Adhærerent lateri principis, capaces
Totius malitiæ, fraudis, falsitatis,
Stimulis invidiæ puncti, pravitatis
Facinus exquirerent, per quod regni jura
Ad suas inflecterent pompas, quæque dura
Argumenta fingerent, quæ communitatem
Paulatim confunderent, universitatem
Populi contererent et depauperarent,
Regnumque subverterent et infatuarent,
Quod nullus justitiam posset optinere,
Nisi qui superbiam talium fovere
Vellet, per pecuniam largiter collatam;
Quis tantam injuriam sustineret ratam?
Et si tales studiis suis immutarent
Regnum, ut injuriis jura supplantarent;
Calcatis indigenis advenas vocarent;
Et alienigenis regnum subjugarent:
Magnates et nobiles terne non curarent,
Atque contemptibiles in summo locarent;
Et magnos dejicerent et humiliarent;
Ordinem perverterent et præposterarent;
Optima relinquerent, pessimis instarent;
Nonne qui sic facerent regnum devastarent?
Quamvis armis bellicis foris non pugnarent,
Tamen diabolicis armis dimicarent,
Et regni flebiliter statum violarent;
Quamvis dissimiliter, non minus dampnarent.
Sive rex consentiens per seductionem,
Talem non percipiens circumventionem,
Approbaret talia regni destructiva;
Seu rex ex malitia faceret nociva,
Proponendo legibus suam potestatem,
Abutendo viribus propter facultatem;
Sive sic vel aliter regnum vastaretur,
Aut regnum finaliter destitueretur,
Tunc regni magnatibus cura deberetur,
Ut cunctis erroribus terra purgaretur.
Quibus si purgatio convenit errorum,
Convenit provisio gubernatrix morum,
Qualiter prospicere sibi non liceret,
Ne malum contingere posset quod noceret?
Quod postquam contigerit debent amovere,
Subitum ne faciat incautos dolere.
Sic quod non eveniat quicquam prædictorum,
Quod pacis impediat vel bonorum morum
Formam, sed inveniat zelus peritorum
Quod magis expediat commodo multorum;
Cur melioratio non admitteretur,
Cuï vitiatio nulla commiscetur?
Nam regis clementia regis et majestas
Approbare studia debet, quæ molestas
Leges ita temperant quod sunt mitiores,
Et dum minus onerant Deo gratiores.
Non enim oppressio plebis Deo placet,
Immo miseratio qua plebs Deo vacet.
Phara[o] qui populum Dei sic afflixit,
Quod vix ad oraculum Moysi quod dixit
Poterant attendere, post est sic punitus,
Israel dimittere cogitur invitus;
Et qui comprehendere credidit dimissum,
Mersus est dum currere putat per abyssum.
Salomon conterere Israel nolebat,
Nec ullum de genere servire cogebat;
Quia Dei populum scivit quem regebat,
Et Dei signaculum lædere timebat;
Et plusquam judicium laudat misereri,
Et plusquam supplicium pacem patri[s] veri.
Cum constat baronibus hæc cuncta licere,
Restat rationibus regis respondere.
Amotis custodibus vult rex liber esse,
Subdique minoribus non vult sed præesse;
Imperare subditis et non imperari;
Sibi nec præpositis vult humiliari.
Non enim præpositi regi præponuntur;
Immo magis incliti qui jus supponuntur.
Unius rex aliter unicus non esset,
Sed regnarent pariter quibus rex subesset.
Et hoc inconveniens quod tantum videtur,
Sit Deus subveniens, facile solvetur.
Deum namque credimus velle veritatem,
Per quem sic dissolvimus hanc dubietatem.
Unus solus dicitur et est rex revera,
Per quem mundus regitur majestate mera;
Non egens auxilio quo possit regnare,
Sed neque consilio qui nequit errare.
Ergo potens omnia sciensque præcedit
Infinita gloria omnes quibus dedit
Sub se suos regere quasique regnare,
Qui possunt deficere, possunt et errare,
Et qui suis viribus nequeunt præstare,
Suisque virtutibus hostes expugnare,
Neque sensu proprio regna gubernare,
Sed erroris invio male deviare.
Indigent auxilio sibi suffragante,
Necnon et consilio se rectificante.
Dicit rex: “Consentio tuæ rationi;
Sed horum electio subsit optioni
Meæ; quos voluero michi sociabo,
Quorum patrocinio cuncta gubernabo;
Et si mei fuerint insufficientes,
Sensum non habuerint, aut non sint potentes,
Aut si sint malevoli, et non sint fideles,
Sed sint forte subdoli, volo quod reveles
Cur ad certas debeam personas arctari,
A quibus prævaleam melius juvari?”
Cujus rei ratio cito declaratur,
Si quæ sit arctatio regis attendatur;
Non omnis arctatio privat libertatem,
Nec omnis districtio tollit potestatem.
Potestatem liberam volunt principantes,
Servitutem miseram nolunt dominantes.
Ad quid vult libera lex reges arctari?
Ne possint adultera lege maculari.
Et hæc coarctatio non est servitutis,
Sed est ampliatio regiæ virtutis.
Sic servatur parvulus regis ne lædatur;
Non fit tamen servulus quando sic arctatur.
Sed et sic angelici spiritus arctantur.
Qui quod apostatici non sint confirmantur.
Nam quod Auctor omnium non potest errare,
Omnium principium non potest peccare,
Non est inpotentia, sed summa potestas,
Magna Dei gloria magnaque majestas.
Sic qui potest cadere, si custodiatur
Ne cadat, quod libere vivat, adjuvatur
A tali custodia, nec est servitutis
Talis sustinentia, sed tutrix virtutis.
Ergo regi libeat omne quod est bonum,
Sed malum non audeat; hoc est Dei donum.
Qui regem custodiunt ne peccet temptatus,
Ipsi regi serviunt, quibus esse gratus
Sit, quod ipsum liberant ne sit servus factus,
Quod ipsum non superant a quibus est tractus.
Sed quis vere fuerit rex, est liber vere
Si se recte rexerit regnumque; licere
Sibi sciat omnia quæ regno regendo
Sunt convenientia, sed non destruendo.
Aliud est regere quod incumbit regi;
Aliud destruere resistendo legi.
A ligando dicitur lex, quæ libertatis
Tam perfecte legitur qua servitur gratis.
Omnis rex intelligat quod est servus Dei:
Illud tantum diligat quod est placens ei;
Et illius gloriam quærat in regendo,
Non suam superbiam pares contempnendo.
Rex qui regnum subditum sibi vult parere,
Reddat Deo debitum alioquin vere;
Sciat quod obsequium sibi non debetur,
Qui negat servitium quo Deo tenetur.
Rursum sciat populum non suum sed Dei,
Et ut adminiculum suum prosit ei:
Et qui parvo tempore populo præfertur,
Cito clausus marmore terræ subinfertur.
In illos se faciat ut unum ex illis;
Saltantem respiciat David cum ancillis.
Regi David similis utinam succedat,
Vir prudens et humilis qui suos non lædat;
Certe qui non læderet populum subjectum,
Sed illis impenderet amoris affectum,
Et ipsius quæreret salutis profectum,
Ipsum non permitteret plebs pati defectum.
Durum est diligere se non diligentem;
Durum non despicere se despicientem;
Durum non resistere se destituenti;
Convenit applaudere se suscipienti.
Principis conterere non est, sed tueri;
Principis obprimere non est, sed mereri
Multis beneficiis suorum favorem,
Sicut Christus gratiis omnium amorem.
Si princeps amaverit, debet reamari;
Si recte regnaverit, debet honorari;
Si princeps erraverit, debet revocari
Ab hiis quos gravaverit injuste negari,
Nisi velit corrigi; si vult emendari,
Debet ab hiis erigi simul et juvari.
Istam princeps teneat regulam regnandi,
Ut opus non habeat non suos vocandi:
Qui confundunt subditos principes ignari,
Sentient indomitos sic nolle domari.
Si princeps putaverit universitate
Quod solus habuerit plus de veritate,
Et plus de scientia, plus cognitionis,
Plus abundet gratia, plusque Dei donis:
Si non sit præsumptio, immo sit revera,
Sua tune instructio suorum sincera
Subditorum lumine corda perlustrabit;
Et cum moderamine suos informabit.
Moysen proponimus, David, Samuelem,
Quorum quemque novimus principem fidelem;
Qui a suis subditis multa pertulerunt,
Nec tamen pro meritis illos abjecerunt,
Nec illis extraneos superposuerunt,
Sed rexerunt per eos qui sui fuerunt.
“Ego te præficiam populo majori,
Et hunc interficiam;” dicit Deus.—“Mori
Malo, quam hic pereat populus,” benignus
Moyses respondeat, principatu dignus.
Sicque princeps sapiens nunquam reprobabit
Suos, sed insipiens regnum conturbabit.
Unde si rex sapiat minus quam deberet;
Quid regno conveniat regendo? num quæret
Suo sensu proprio quibus fulciatur,
Quibus diminutio sua suppleatur?
Si solus elegerit, facile falletur,
Utilis qui fuerit a quo nescietur.
Igitur communitas regni consulatur;
Et quid universitas sentiat, sciatur,
Cuï leges propriæ maxime sunt notæ.
Nec cuncti provinciæ sic sunt idiotæ,
Quin sciant plus cæteris regni sui mores,
Quos relinquunt posteris hii qui sunt priores.
Qui reguntur legibus magis ipsas sciunt;
Quorum sunt in usibus plus periti fiunt;
Et quia res agitur sua, plus curabunt,
Et quo pax adquiritur sibi procurabunt.
Pauca scire poterunt qui non sunt experti;
Parum regno proderunt, nisi qui sunt certi.
Ex hiis potest colligi quod communitatem
Tangit quales eligi ad utilitatem
Regni recte debeant; qui velint et sciant
Et prodesse valeant, tales regis fiant
Et consiliarii et coadjutores;
Quibus noti varii patriæ sunt mores;
Qui se lædi sentiunt, si regnum lædatur;
Regnumque custodiunt, ne, si noceatur
Toti, partes doleant simul patientes;
Gaudenti congaudeant, si sint diligentes.
Nobile juditium regis Salomonis
Ponamus in medium; quæ divisionis
Parvuli non horruit inhumanitatem,
Quia non condoluit atque pietatem
Maternam non habuit, quod mater non erat
Teste rege docuit; ergo tales quærat
Princeps, qui condoleant universitati,
Qui materne timeant regnum dura pati.
Sed si quem non moveat ruina multorum;
Si solus optineat quæ vult placitorum;
Multorum regimini non est coaptatus,
Suo cum sit omnium soli totus datus.
Communis conveniens est communitati;
Sed vir incompatiens cordis indurati
Non curat si veniant multis casus duri;
Casibus non obviant tales modo muri.
Igitur eligere si rex per se nescit
Qui sibi consulere sciant, hinc patescit
Quid tunc debet fieri. Nam communitatis
Est ne fiant miseri duces dignitatis
Regiæ, sed optimi et electi viri,
Atque probatissimi qui possint inquiri.
Nam cum gubernatio regni sit cunctorum
Salus vel perditio, multum refert quorum
Sit regni custodia; sicut est in navi;
Confunduntur omnia si præsint ignavi;
Si quis transfretantium positus in navi
Ad se pertinentium abutatur clavi,
Non refert si prospere navis gubernetur.
Sic qui regnum regere debent, cura detur
Si de regno quispiam non recte se regit;
Viam vadit inviam quam forsan elegit.
Optime res agitur universitatis,
Si regnum dirigitur via veritatis.
Et tamen si subditi sua dissipare
Studeant, præpositi possunt refrenare
Suorum stultitiam et temeritatem,
Ne per insolentiam vel fatuitatem
Stultorum potentia regni subnervetur,
Hostibus audacia contra regnum detur.
Nam quocumque corporis membro violato,
Fit minoris roboris corpus. Ita dato
Quod vel viri liceat propriis abuti,
Quamvis regno noceat; plures mox secuti
Et libertatem noxiam, sic multiplicabunt
Erroris insaniam, quod totum dampnabunt.
Nec libertas proprie debet nominari,
Quæ permittit inscie stultos dominari;
Sed libertas finibus juris limitetur,
Spretisque limitibus error reputetur.
Alioquin liberum dices furiosum,
Quamvis omne prosperum illi sit exosum.
Ergo regis ratio de suis subjectis,
Suomet arbitrio quorum volunt vectis,
Per hoc satis solvitur, satis infirmatur;
Dum quivis qui subditur majore domatur.
Quia nulli hominum dicemus licere
Quicquid vult, sed dominum quemlibet habere
Qui errantem corrigat, benefacientem
Adjuvat, et erigit quandoque cadentem.
Præmio præferimus universitatem;
Legem quoque dicimus regis dignitatem
Regere; nam credimus esse legem lucem,
Sine qua concludimus deviare ducem.
Lex qua mundus regitur atque regna mundi
Ignea describitur; quod sensus profundi
Continet mysterium, lucet, urit, calet;
Lucens vetat devium, contra frigus valet,
Purgat et incinerat quædam, dura mollit,
Et quod crudum fuerat ignis coquit, tollit
Torporem, et alia multa facit bona.
Sancta lex similia p’rat (?) regi dona.
Istam sapientiam Salomon petivit;
Ejus amicitiam tota vi quæsivit.860
Si rex hac caruerit lege, deviabit;
Si hanc non tenuerit, turpiter errabit;
Istius præsentia recte dat regnare,
Et ejus absentia regnum perturbare.
Ista lex sic loquitur, “per me regnant reges;
Per me jus ostenditur hiis qui condunt leges.”
Istam legem stabilem nullus rex mutabit;
Sed se variabilem per istam firmabit.
Si conformis fuerit huïc legi, stabit;
Et si disconvenerit isti, vacillabit.
Dicitur vulgariter, “ut rex vult, lex vadit:”
Veritas vult aliter, nam lex stat, rex cadit.
Veritas et caritas zelusque salutis
Legis est integritas, regimen virtutis;
Veritas, lux, caritas, calor, urit zelus;
Hæc legis varietas tollit omne scelus.
Quicquid rex statuerit, consonum sit istis;
Nam si secus fecerit, plebs reddetur tristis;
Confundetur populus, si vel veritate
Caret regis oculus, sive caritate
Principis cor careat, vel severitate
Zelum non adimpleat semper moderate.
Hiis tribus suppositis, quicquid placet regi
Fiat; sed oppositis, rex resistit legi.
Sed recalcitratio stimulo non nocet;
Pauli sic instructio de cœlo nos docet.
Sic exhæredatio nulla fiet regi,
Si fiat provisio concors justæ legi.
Nam dissimulatio legem non mutabit,
Cujus firma ratio sine fine stabit.
Unde si quid utile diu est dilatum,
Irreprehensibile sit sero perlatum.
Et rex nihil proprium præferat communi;
Quia salus omnium sibi cessit uni.
Non enim præponitur sibimet victurus;
Sed ut hic qui subditur populus securus.
Reges esse noveris nomen relativum;
Nomen quoque sciveris esse protectivum;
Unde sibi vivere soli non licebat,
Qui multos protegere vivendo delebat.
Qui vult sibi vivere, non debet præesse,
Sed seorsum degere, et ut solus esse.
Principis est gloria plurimos salvare;
Cum sua molestia multos relevare.
Non alleget igitur suimet profectum,
Sed in quibus creditur subditis prospectum.
Si regnum salvaverit, quod est regis fecit;
Quicquid secus egerit in ipso defecit.
Vera regis ratio ex hiis satis patet;
Quod vacantem proprio status regis latet.
Namque vera caritas est proprietati
Quasi contrarietas, et communitati
Fœdus insolubile, conflans velut ignis
Omne quod est habile, sicut fit in lignis
Quæ dant igni crescere patiens activo,
Subtracta decrescere modo recitivo.
Ergo si fervuerit princeps caritate,
Quantumcumque poterit de communitate,
Si sollicitabitur quod recte regatur,
Et nunquam lætabitur si destituatur,
Unde si dilexerit rex regni magnates,
Quamvis solus sciverit, quasi magnus vates,
Quicquid opus fuerit ad regnum regendum,
Quicquid se decuerit, quicquid faciendum,
Quod sane decreverit illis non celabit,
Præter quos non poterit id quod ordinabit
Ad effectum ducere; igitur tractabit
Cum suis, quæ facere per se [non] putabit.
Cur sua consilia non communicabit,
A quibus auxilia supplex postulabit?
Quicquid suos allicit ad benignitatem,
Et amicos efficit, fovet unitatem,
Regiam prudentiam decet indicare
Hiis qui suam gloriam possunt augmentare.
Dominus discipulis cuncta patefecit,
Dividens a servulis quos amicos fecit;
Atque quasi nescius a suis quæsivit
Quid sentirent sæpius, quod profecte scivit.
O! si Dei quærerent principes honorem,
Regna recte regerent, et præter errorem.
Si Dei notitiam principes haberent,
Omnibus justitiam suam exhiberent.
Ignorantes dominum, velut excæcati,
Quærunt laudes hominum, vanis delectati.
Qui se nescit regere, multos male reget;
Si quis vult inspicere Psalmos, idem leget.
Joseph ut se debuit principes docere,
Propter quod rex voluit ipsum præminere.
Et in innocentia cordis sui David,
Et intelligentia, Israelem pavit.
Ex prædictis omnibus poterit liquere,
Quod regem magnatibus incumbit videre
Quæ regni conveniant gubernationi,
Et pacis expediant conservationi;
Et quod rex indigenas sibi laterales
Habeat, non advenas, neque speciales,
Vel consiliarios vel regni majores,
Qui supplantant alios atque bonos mores.
Nam talis discordia paci novercatur,
Et inducit prælia, dolos machinatur.
Nam sicut invidia diaboli mortem
Induxit, sic odia separat cohortem.
Incolas in ordine suo rex tenebit,
Et hoc moderamine regnando gaudebit.
Si vero studuerit suos degradare,
Ordinem perverterit, frustra quæret quare
Sibi non obtemperant ita perturbati;
Immo si sic facerent essent insensati.


Featured: Simon de Montfort, Sixth Earl of Leicester; drawing of a stained glass window at Chartres Cathedral, ca. 1250.


Of Standard Bearers and their Contempt

A disgrace to my country, England’s counterpart to the ghastly Indro Montanelli was Peregrine Worsthorne (1924-2020), adoptive son to the Bank of England Governor Montagu Norman.

Seething with contempt and hatred for Slavs, “inferior races” and generally, People Not like Us, most especially the Enemy within, i.e., the British working class, Peregrine saw himself as standard-bearer for those who have for centuries succeeded in living oh-so-enviably off pirate-wealth and pillaged colonies.

Although “inferiority” has manifestly switched sides, Peregrine’s faction, counting on US armed might and flying in the face of reality, has most certainly not laid down arms as one sees in the ex-Ukraine and the Middle East. Accordingly the article dated 1995 below, A POLICE STATE BEATS A WELFARE STATE, which might have struck one as a mere Blast from the Past, suggests that the British élite did not need the World Economic Forum to shew the way. Here, Peregrine baldly sets out the way forward for the Great and Good, now played out before our eyes as Western Governments take their orders and attempt to crush the rising swell of mass-based dissent on all fronts.

Mendelssohn Moses

A POLICE STATE BEATS A WELFARE STATE

By Peregrine Worsthorne

23rd July 1995
Sunday Telegraph

‘The key question facing 20th Century politics is how to provide our people with security during an era of quite revolutionary economic, technological and social change’, declares Tony Blair.

If an unanswerable question can be a key question, then I suppose he may be right. Not being a politician, however, I would myself put the question differently. Since the state will be unable to provide ‘our people’ with security in a revolutionary age, should politicians go round pretending that it can? To my question there most certainly is an answer: a resounding negative. My question and my answer really would be ‘new politics’, – i.e. honest politics.

For there will be no state-guaranteed security for ‘our people’ once China and the rest of Asia get their act fully together, come on stream, or what have you. That era has gone for good. Just possibly it could have continued if the West were still prepared to use force – neo-imperial force – to maintain it, but such has been the sapping of the Western will that nobody thinks the security of ‘our people’ – let alone that of any other people – is worth killing and dying for.

In fact I very much doubt if most people ever make a connection between a willingness to use force and the continued enjoyment of our relatively lavish social services. They assume that the West can get rid of the evils of domination and hang on to all of its agreeable consequences, one of which was enough wealth to provide ‘our people’ with security. For a time, of course, the Cold War provided the West with an excuse to carry on a form of covert imperialism. But with even that motivating force gone, nothing the West is minded to do will stop China and the rest of Asia seizing their place in the sun, regardless of how many shadows this casts over Western horizons.

Welfarism, in short, is an idea whose time has passed. This does not mean that there will be no welfare, simply that such welfare as there is will in general be enjoyed only by those who have the gumption and ruthlessness to forge it for themselves. It will be individual, not collective, welfare. This won’t be a matter of ideology but of necessity. Given that the state won’t be able to afford security for ‘our people’ from the cradle to the grave, all but a small minority of hopeless cases will have no choice but to fend for themselves. This is how it is going to be. Life for many of ‘our people’ in the late 20th and 21st Century is going to be nasty, brutish and even short – judging by last week’s dire predictions about the nation’s poor health.

Against this background one really cannot wonder, still less complain, about the frenzy of so-called greed. In fact I am beginning to understand and even sympathise with the likes of British Gas’s Mr. Cedric Brown. For most than most, these top businessmen know what lies ahead; can read the warning signals.

Their acquisitiveness, in short, is not so much greedy as responsible. Knowing that in the revolutionary times ahead, the State cannot provide security – whatever the politicians may promise – they are doing everything necessary to provide it for themselves: doing what everybody with family responsibilities ought to be doing if they possibly can. So today’s unbridled amassing of wealth does make sense. Instead of deploring it as a decline of morality, we should be welcoming it as an increase in realism.

Nobody accuses the farmer who rushes to garner the harvest before the storm breaks, of being materialistic. Nor should they the businessman who rushes to cash his share options – today’s form of good husbandry.

Once the hard times strike, it will be too late, rather as once the Second World War began it was too late to start hoarding food. But those who had the foresight to start hoarding well before the war were able not only to augment their own rations but also those of their less provident relations and neighbours. Who ere then the greedy materialists? – a question which Mr. Cedric Brown’s relations and neighbours, of which I am one, may soon have reason to ponder.

Newt Gringrich’s approach strikes me as more much honest than Tony Blair’s: brutally honest. No nonsense about how the state can guarantee security in a revolutionary age. He simply takes it for granted that it can do nothing much except one most important negative thing. It can promise not to get in the way of those who have it in mind to fight for their own survival. Because collective security cannot be realistically considered, the only responsible thing the state can do is to remove obstacles to the individual’s own search for security.

Neither of Britain’s two new young hopefuls, Mr. Blair or Mr. Redwood, has this degree of honesty. They talk as if through wise men putting their heads together there will eventually emerge some way in which welfarism can survive the withering of the welfare state.

To this end Mr. Redwood sets up a new think tank, and Mr. Blair confers with Rupert Murdoch – anything rather than admit the ugly truth that the aforementioned revolution is going to do what revolutions always do: release explosive social forces which will have to be contained by force.

No, I am not suggesting that we are going to have to move straight from the welfare state to the police state, but such a suggestions are nearer the mark than all the alternative systems of welfare churned out by such gurus as Frank Field, on the side of New Labour, and David Willetts, on the side of New Civic Conservatism. For, like it or not, public order holds the key to the way Britain weathers this oncoming revolution. Can it be maintained or will it break down?

Even Lady Thatcher is evasive on this score. She still goes on about monetarism and suchlike panaceas, rather than telling the public that the real key to the Thatcherite revolution was her determination, if need be, to use force to push it through. In her memoirs, she likes to cast Keith Joseph as Thatcherism’s most important ally. If fact it was the mounted police, without whose efforts the miners’ strike would never have been broken, and she would have proved as much a broken reed as did Edward Heath.

So far as Britain is concerned, there may be some greater assurance of security for ‘our people’ to be found by sheltering under the great German oak, which is presumably the euro-enthusiasts’ hope. One understands their enthusiasm. Seldom has the British Establishment looked less impressive – one display of indecisiveness after another – even more unlikely to guarantee security for ‘our people’ than Chamberlain’s crowd in the 1930s. But theirs is a pretty desperate hope: less doomed than old-fashioned nationalism but only by a whisker.

So this is the bottom line. In revolutionary times the only form of security for property and the bourgeoisie comes not from think tanks, but from tanks proper. Gingrich, like Richard Nixon, wields a mail fist, much disguised in an ideological glove, but clear enough for any but the blind to see. That is the real strength of new politics in America. No sign yet of anything comparable here, which is both a relief and a worry.


Proelio apud Bannockburn

This account of the Battle of Bannockburn (1314) was written during the reign of King Edward III (1312 – 1377). It is found in Cotton. Titus, A. XX., fol. 68.

Quomodo comes Gloverniæ fuerat occisus apud Strivelyn, et Anglici victi.

Me cordis augustia cogit mira fari,
Scotiæ quod Anglia cæpit subjugari:
Nova jam prodigia dicitur patrari,
Quando matri filia sumit dominari.
Regionum Anglia plurium matrona,
Cuï tributaria jam dabantur dona,
Proth dolor! nunc cogitur nimis esse prona
Filiæ, qua læditur materna corona.
Exiit per Angliam edictum vulgare,
Admonendo quempiam arma præparare,
Ut adiret Scotiam phalanx vendicare
Jura, vel injuriam posse vindicare.
Ad quod thema debeam nimis protelare:
Rex cæpit militiam suam adunare,
Inconsultus abiit Scotos debellare.
Ira sponte rediit nolens plus obstare.
Erant in excercitu plures generosi,
Milites in exitu nimis et pomposi;
Cum ad bellum venerant tot impetuosi,
Satis promti fuerant hostes animosi.
Animosi fuerant et hoc apparebat;
Cum partes certaverant, illa permanebat
Stabilis, sed fugiit quæ superbiebat.
Inproba succubuit, astuta vincebat.
Inauditus ingruit inter hos conflictus;
Primitus prosiliit Acteus invictus,
Comes heu! Gloverniæ dans funestos ictus;
Assistens in acie qui fit derelictus.
Hic phalangas hostium disrupi coegit,
Et virorum fortium corpora subegit;
Sed fautor domesticus sibi quem elegit,
Hic non erat putitus quando factum fregit.
Hic est proditorius vir Bartholomeus,
In cunctis victoriis quem confundat Deus!
Domino quod varius fit ut Pharisæus.
Hinc Judæ vicarius morte fiet reus.
Videns contra dominum hostes desævire,
Fingit se sex seminum longius abire;
Domino quod renuit suo subvenire,
Proditor hic meruit tormenta obire.
Plures sunt quem perperam comes est seductus,
Ut ovis ad victimam et ad mortem ductus,
Qui [sunt] per quos oritur tam vulgaris luctus,
Hoc satis cognoscitur per eorum fructus.
Quorum virus Anglia tota toxicatur;
Vulgaris justitia sic et enervatur;
Regale judicium per hos offuscatur;
Ex hoc in exilium fides relegatur.
Victa jacet caritas, et virtus calcatur;
Viret ingratuitas, et fraus dominatur;
Quicquid in hiis finibus mali perpetratur,
Dictis proditoribus totum inputatur.
Iste deceptorius vir non erat solus,
Per quem proditorius jam fiebat dolus;
Alter sed interfuit, quem non celet polus,
Et fiat ut meruit infernalis bolus.
Hujusmodi milites, regno pervicaces,
Sathanæ satellites, sunt nimis rapaces;
Regis si sint judices undique veraces,
Destruent veneficos suos et sequaces.
Capitis sententiam pati meruerunt,
Cum sponte militiam talem prodiderunt;
Qui fuerunt rustici, sicut permanserunt,
Comitis domestici fugam elegerunt.
Hii fraude multiplica virum prodiderunt,
Inpia gens Scotica quem circumdederunt;
Ipsum a dextrario suo prostraverunt,
Et prostrati vario modo ceciderunt
Fideles armigeri qui secum fuerunt;
Milites et cæteri secum corruerunt;
Cum sui succurrere sibi voluerunt,
Hostibus resistere tot non valuerunt.
Sic comes occubuit præ cunctis insignis,
Qui sua distribuit prædia malignis;
Sibi quisque caveat istis intersignis,
Jam fidem ne præbeat talibus indignis.
Ex hoc illi comites actibus periti,
Adhuc qui superstites sunt, fiant muniti,
Alias in prælio cum sistant uniti,
Ne sic proditorio telo sint attriti.
Cruciatur Anglia nimio dolore,
Tali quod versutia privatur honore,
Muniatur cautius mentis cum labore,
Error ne novissimus pejor sit priore.
Consulo comitibus adhuc qui sunt vivi,
Quod sint proditoribus amodo nocivi;
Sic et per industriam omnes sint captivi:
Anglici ad Scotiam fiant progressivi.
Credo verum dicere, non mentiri conor;
Jam cæpit deficere nostri gentis honor;
Comitem cum lividus mortis texit color,
Angliæ tunc horridus statim crevit dolor.
Nostræ gentis Angliæ quidam sunt captivi;
Currebant ab acie quidam semivivi;
Qui fuerunt divites fiunt redemptivi;
Quod delirant nobiles plectuntur Achivi.
Mentes ducum Angliæ sunt studendo fessæ,
Nam fœdus justitiæ certo caret esse;
Ergo rex potentiæ stirps radice Jessæ,
Fautores perfidiæ ducat ad non esse!
Quando sævit aquilum, affricus quievit;
Et australi populo dampnum mortis crevit.
Anglia victoria frui consuevit,
Sed prolis perfidia mater inolevit.
Si scires, Glovernia, tua fata, fleres,
Eo quod in Scotia tuus ruit hæres;
Te privigni capient quorum probra feres;
Ne te far … facient, presens regnum teres.
Facta es ut domina viro viduata,
Cujus sunt solamina in luctum mutata;
Tu es sola civitas capite truncata;
Tuos casus Trinitas fæcundet beata!


Featured: The Battle of Bannockburn, by William Allan; painted in 1850.


1682: Oh Happy Day! Where the Stuarts Learn to Weave the Narrative

Not without cause, impenitent monarchists amongst my countrymen are dismayed at our Monarch Charles having adopted precisely that kingly name – bearing in mind that his sons by Diana Spencer descend directly from the Stuarts. Might this be some ploy to woo Scotland’s many Catholics, or perhaps the throngs of Anglicans veering towards Roman Catholicism, as the Church led by Charles drowns in Wokism?

Whatever the reason for Charles’ move, the Stuarts have brought little but mayhem whether to Scotland or to England herself.

Nonobstant historical fact, continental Europe remains bewitched by the “romance” of it all—Maria Stuart as a lay-Saint in Friedrich Schiller’s otherwise superb play; the Defeat at Culloden (1746) as the Highlanders’ moral victory rather than an act of self-serving Stuart incompetence; a pure-as-beaten-snow Catholic monarch thrust aside in 1688 by the vulgar Hannoverians… and so forth.

At the end of the day though, the Stuarts have ever been a litany of disaster. The first Charles, having danced round the rim of civil war, was executed in 1649 by a Puritan Parliament, whilst his son Charles II (1630-1685), a Protestant libertinewithout heir, was succeeded by a perfect prodigy of vanity, his brother James, Duke of York, who ruled as James II. Wedded to Maria of Modena, a paragon of beauty, James converted to Catholicism despite the glaring risk of yet another civil war.

Trademarks, Then and Now: Branding other Human Beings with One’s Own Personal Initials

Africa, however, is the continent which had the most to suffer – understatement – from the Stuart reign. In 1660, the very year of Restoration, Charles II founded the Royal African Company (RAC) or Company of Royal Adventurers Trading into Africa, setting up his brother James as Governor.

Owing to the RAC’s monopoly over all African trade, great revenue accrued thereby to both princes.

Established to take control of the African gold mines, in 1663 the RAC issued a fresh Charter which refers explicitly to monopoly and to the slave trade. That Charter denies third-party rights over trade in “redwood, elephants’ teeth, negroes, slaves, hides, wax, guinea grains, or other commodities of those countries.” In 1672 a further Charter allowed for proclaiming martial law in West Africa, so as raise any untoward obstacle to such trafficking

For avoidance of strife over “ownership” of the captured human beings, the RAC took to branding slaves with the Duke of York’s initials, i.e., DoY, not to be confused with Do it Youself, or alternatively with the Company’s letters RAC. In all, it is believed that something like 200,000 persons were transported from Africa to the North American colonies. Ill treatment, terrible food, lack of water—at least 40,000 Africans perished on board ship.

(Nomen est Omen: the present Duke of York is Prince Andrew, brother to King Charles and erstwhile frequent visitor to the late Jeffrey Epstein’s abodes, stocked with a selection of female slaves. But that is neither here nor there…)

Where we Return to Find the Gloucester Wrecked

Back to the Gloucester. For her misfortune, James Duke of York, having been made Lord Admiral of the Fleet (the inanity of his portrait as the God of War beggars belief), was persuaded that his navigational science necessarily matched an Admiral’s title.

In May 1682, recalled to London by his brother Charles, the Duke of York embarked on the newly-refitted frigate Gloucester and tacked towards Scotland; he was to bring Maria de Modena back to London. The Gloucester’s escort included four or five warships and four yachts, which were to supply many witnesses to the disaster about to befall.

Notoriously perilous due to shifting sandbanks, Norfolk’s ill-mapped Northern coastline scarcely qualified as a suitable route for the RMS Titanic-style headlong race on which the Duke-Admiral insisted. Intent on reaching London swiftly to quell “anti-Catholic” factions, James threatened the weather-beaten expert navigators who had proposed an alternate course and pulled rank, obliging the Gloucester’s captain to press in hard against the coastline at 6 knots an hour at dead of night—great speed and great risk for that period.

On May 6th 1682 at five-thirty in the morning and as all passengers slept, the Gloucester struck the parallel Leman and Ower sandbanks and sank in the space of an hour, with the loss of over half her crew and passengers, including several Scots noblemen – although there was no ship’s register, it is thought that no less than 250 souls perished.

Whereas protocol forbade his retinue from quitting the ship before the Duke, the latter, intent on recovering a trunk with private papers, would only quit the ship shortly before it went under, thus ensuring that most on board would drown. Thereupon the Duke gracefully stepped into a waiting lifeboat, where sat his page John Churchill (later Duke of Marlborough), waving a naked sword. Churchill’s assigned rôle was, at swordpoint, to thrust back into the sea passengers and crew attempting to clamber to safety.

A Study in Perfecting the Narrative

So ghastly an event, harshly commented upon by so many and prominent eyewitnesses, could scarcely remain hidden; the uproar swelled and looked to shake Stuart rule. Upon which, the Duke had recourse to the Usual Procedure: firstly, charge the seamen with his own fault. Mr. Ayres the Gloucester’s pilot, Mr. Gunman captain of the signal-yacht preceding the Gloucester along with his second officer, were court-martialled (though discreetly freed shortly afterwards…). Cf. this detailed study.

Secondly, in hope of perfecting a narrative for the world’s eye and ear, the Dutch painter Johan Danckerts was commissioned to weave over the events’ warp-and-woof.

Thus, though the Gloucester sank in seas five metres deep, Danckerts shews her quite literally beached rather than capsized, upright and prow forwards, leading one to believe that all souls on board would readily reach the strand and safety. As for the Duke’s lifeboat, depicted thronged with crew and passengers, it was in reality near-empty, courtesy of John Churchill’s sword.

In 1685, this glory of a Duke of York succeeded Charles II, only to be overthrown by the still-more-Glorious, as it were, Revolution of 1688.

A final remark: In 2005, after five years’ relentless search, two expert amateur divers, the brothers Julian and Lincoln Barnwell, seconded by their friend James Little formerly of the Royal Navy, discovered the wreck of the Gloucester. To discourage booty-hunters—the Gloucester was laden with all manner of items of most unusual historical interest – the find was made public only in 2022, nor have the wreck’s precise coordinates ever been disclosed. An exhibition at the Museum of Norwich celebrates the intrepid three, who have richly earned their place in history.

(As an aside, the business does point to which nation’s subjects might display the nerves of steel needed to to ensure “success” to the attack on Nord Stream, on the Crimean Bridge, and so forth…)


Mendelssohn Moses writes from France. (Revised and amended from the original French on Réseau International).


Featured: The Wreck of the ‘Gloucester’ off Yarmouth, 6 May 1682, by Johan Danckerts; painted ca. 1682.


The Merits of the British Empire

“I study the course of events in India very closely; and what do I see? Why, that you are doing everything you possibly can to teach the inhabitants their own strength. You establish schools; you educate the people; they read your language, many of them even your newspapers; and the leading men know what is going on in Europe just as well as you yourselves. But the day will come when some agitators will set these thinking masses in motion; and then what force have you to oppose to them? If ever here was a nation determined to commit suicide it is England. She holds India, as she herself allows, by the force of arms, and yet she is doing everything in her power to induce the conquered country to throw off the yoke.”

There was a great deal of reason undoubtedly in what he had urged. However, there is one argument in favour of further education in India, which is, that the better educated the natives of India become, the greater probability of their seeing that their own interests are far more likely to be cared for under a British than a Russian rule. But this still leaves open the question of whether they might not prefer to govern themselves, which undoubtedly will some day be the case.

(Fred Burnaby, A Ride to Khiva, 1877)

We live in an age in which assumptions determine much of what we do. These assumptions need not be based on any desire for truth, but simply for expedience (which is commonly known as “ideology”). For example, there is the easy assumption that genders cannot exist, and this has become a “truth” in western society, a truth given vehemence by the weight of authority and the law.

And when our society casts an eye backwards, history is to be understood through the lens of so many assumptions that it is often difficult to stay abreast. To make things easier, to be on the safe side, just assume that anything that Europeans ever did in the past was not only wrong, but morally reprehensible and outright cruel, because “whiteness” is inherently violent. Our present age is much given to empty moralizing in order to fabricate caricatures—but that’s another topic entirely.

And no topic is more morally fraught than colonialism, which as any worthy denizen of the university scene knows is to be roundly condemned. To say anything that might be deemed a defense thereof is instantly called out as “racism” or “white supremacism.” Having a past carefully construed a certain way is crucial to the powerbrokers of our world, and this fabrication can never have flaws, errors, or lies. To say otherwise is a betrayal of humanity itself, ergo akin to Nazism.

Nigel Biggar’s latest book, Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning, therefore, goes straight for the jugular—it addresses the question of morality and colonialism: “What I have written is not a history of the British Empire but a moral assessment of it.” In other words, the British Empire was not an evil cancer let loose upon the world, nor was it organized banditry, robbing the hapless of their wealth—but a great force for good, which heaved much of what has now descended into being the “third world” into modernity. In effect, when the British left their colonies, they left them quite a lot better than they found them. This fact cannot be denied, though objections be raised by pointing to this or that injustice. Why is India, for example, today the largest democracy? In fact, who created what is today known as “India?” But let’s not get waylaid by the famous Monty Python skit, “What have the Romans ever done for us?”

Because Mr. Biggar is giving us a “moral reckoning” rather than a historical summary of colonialism, what he ends up doing is to return impartiality to the study of history, which is in much need of rescue, having entirely dashed itself on the rocks, so intent has it been listening to the Siren-song of “political activism”: “What is wrong, however, is when moral and political motives refuse to allow themselves to be tempered or corrected by data and reason. For then, the motives distort and mislead; and when they distort and mislead repeatedly and wilfully, they lie.” Perhaps, the whole idea is to use history for political ends—where entire populations can be given permanent “victim,” ergo morally superior, status, while relegating another population to the role of “oppressor,” who can then be held up for cathartic abuse by the victim-class. Thus, we slouch our way to virtue, for the past is filled with all the sins that we have repented from—they were slavers, we are givers of reparations to populations we have labeled the eternal victims of history.

Because the book is a moral assessment of the British Empire, Mr. Biggar wisely avoids a chronological structure of the beginning, middle and end. Instead, each chapter unpacks a moral question to which historical data is adduced. This method directly addresses the “moral” habit of mind that is now commonplace when dealing with the past, in that we are continually asked to judge the past, usually in order to reify our own moral superiority to it. But more sinisterly—in order to govern how we must behave, think and live.

Each chapter also deals with the various arguments that anti-colonialist thought uses in order to deny the achievements of the British Empire. Thus, the first chapter deals with motivation, in which the idea of “conquest” is mapped out, in a reasoned and balanced manner. Just as with the growth of the Roman Empire, the British one also became what it did as a “consequence of international rivalry and war, and the associated need to gain a competitive advantage.” It wasn’t so much conquest as cooperation. For example, the majority of India was not British, for there were a total 461 princely states that were independent (most of them later regretted that they joined the “India” or “Pakistan” that came afterwards—and many of the problems now besetting both these post-colonial countries are products of this misunderstanding of cooperation: for example, Gilgit, Baltistan, Kashmir). In effect, Indian and Pakistani hegemony was exerted upon these once-independent princely states, with the result that now there is much resentment, strife, and rivalry, which is far from having been resolved. Most princely states did not want to join India or Pakistan, but were forced to.

All this means that the building of nationhood is not some fairy-dust that comes ready at hand the moment the blinkers of colonialism are removed. Rather, the nations that emerged from the British Empire, for example, could never truly get their act together. Why is that? Could it be that the greater project of Empire was stymied by the consequences of the Second World War?

But such a question is never honestly, let alone fully, answered; and the usual strategy is deflection by anti-colonialists. The funny thing about these anti-colonialists… they often tend to be people who have benefitted the most from colonialism. But let’s just put that down to the many ironies of history, shall we?

Another favorite topic is slavery, which existed in the world long before the British and is flourishing today, with little or no objection from anyone in power, especially from people who have strong opinions about slavery in the past. This is a very curious abuse of history, where crimes of today are ignored, while much breast-beating is done for crimes, real or imagined, of the past. Be that as it may, it is always emphatically stated that the slave-trade and the use of slaves was a cash-cow for the British Empire, a monolith entirely demolished by serious history, as Mr. Biggar explains. But then it was also the British who actively worked to destroy this ancient institution of captive labor, with men like Adam Smith, but mostly because of Christian charity: “The vicious racism of slavers and planters was not essential to the British Empire, and whatever racism exists in Britain today is not its fruit… The British Empire cannot be equated with slavery, since, during the second half of the empire’s life, imperial policy was consistently committed to abolishing it.”

Racism, of course, is a staple in any anti-colonialist argument. But there is much confusion, given that the stress today is on skin color and not on race as such. This is not surprising, given how difficult it is to pin-down what “race” ultimately means; whereas skin-color is a no-brainer. Thus, today the concern is with “shadism” rather than racism. But the attitude of the British Empire is best summed up by Sir Cecil Rhodes, a man anti-colonialist love to hate: “I do not believe that they are different from ourselves… a man, white or black who has sufficient education to write his name, has some property, or works. In fact, is not a loafer.” Rhodes was interested in the qualities and conditions of civilization, available to all of humanity, and which had nothing to do with shadism. Instead, the greater accumulation of data leads to a more disturbing conclusion—that it is our present age which is obsessed with skin-color, wherein the greater the melanin, the greater the innate virtue; the lesser the melanin, the greater the innate evil. Such is the new “Natural Law” of Western officialdom, which has entirely replaced the original, Christian understanding of Natural Law, grounded in dignity: that mankind is made in the image of God. Now, skin color determines the man. Melanin, yet another progressive pixy-dust, dissipates evil.

Mr. Biggar proceeds assiduously examining the various objections of the anti-colonialists and undoing them by patient laying out of data. Thus, the old stand-by arguments in which the grand themes of genocide, exploitation, greed, conquest, violence are delivered as “evidence” for the “crimes” of the British Empire are all weighed in the scale of reason and found either wanting, or to be exaggerated or simple fabrications: “To describe British colonial government as simply or generally oppressive and exploitative, as is commonly done, may satisfy certain ideological prejudices but it obscures the complicated historical truth. Colonial rule would not have been possible at all without the widespread acquiescence, participation and cooperation of native peoples.”

The examples that Mr. Biggar provides are essential to his method of tackling anti-colonialist themes—but this method also does something that is crucial, given the posture that the West has now assumed, of equating anything “white” with everything evil, especially “white” males. The strength of Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning therefore is its fearless honesty. Like all true human endeavors, the British Empire was not a concerted effort to build a utopia for “white.” Rather, it was a system of deep cooperation between British and native interests and aspiration, chief among them being the pursuit of peace: “…peaceful politics usually requires compromise, and some compromises are morally justified, even obligatory.”

This pursuit peace flies in the face of what is now being attempted in the West, where through sheer political will a shadist utopia is indeed being constructed, which is gradually, but relentlessly, yielding a dystopia, marked by fear and loathing of humanity which does not bear the government-approved shade of skin, and in which humanity is assigend labels of either oppressor or victim. And never the twain shall meet. Such is the world that anti-colonialists seek to build as an answer to colonialism?

Mr. Biggar’s book is also a wake-up call to those of that live in the West, where violence can be justified by convenient references to the past; one in which humanity lives in a never-ending agon of one shade of people against another. Long forgotten is the idea that history provides each one of us a moral responsibility to be our brothers’ keeper. Not in some mealy-mouthed way, but in a genuine care for one another in the context of community. Finally, it was the necessity of this care that marked the British Empire, however loudly the anti-colonialists may decry this conclusion.

The book ends with very crucial question: “And yet exaggeration of colonialism’s sins is often not at all reluctant, but wilful, even gleeful. Far from being resisted, it is embraced. The anti-colonialists want the worst to be true, and so they meet any suggestion to the contrary not with the eyes of curiosity, but the fist of aggression. But why? What is going on here, psychologically, even spiritually?”

Although Mr. Biggar proceeds to provide an answer, it is necessarily an incomplete one—and it is as it should be, because it is a question that more and more needs to be asked again and again—why this gleeful hatred? Why hatred as morality?

Mr. Biggar has written a fascinating, spirited and triumphant book. His data and arguments cannot easily be put aside. If honesty is the true quest of doing history, then anti-colonialist arguments have been rather deftly gutted by this book and can no longer be taken seriously. That is, if truth still matters.


C.B. Forde is a full-time farmer and part-time reader, yes, even of books recommeneded to him by his wife.


Featured: John Eardley Wilmot, by Benjamin West; painted in 1812.


Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning

It is a great honor to bring to you this excerpt from Nigel Biggar’s Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning, a book that must be widely read, because it brings clarity, moderation, scholarly depth and much-needed insight to a topic heaped over by hurt feelings (largely contrived) of those who have benefited most from colonialism. The book meticulously shows that the various narratives against the British Empire are exaggerated at best, since the factually measurable achievements of Empire total a great moral good—it was a Golden Age. This book will no doubt enrage those who have made a career of knee-jerk, anti-colonial pronouncements… but, then, truth is often bitter and thus decried.

Professor Biggar is emeritus regius professor of moral and pastoral theology at the University of Oxford, and his work is marked by nuance, perspicacity, and brilliance.

As some may know, Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning was “canceled” by its first publisher which could not help but virtue-signal. Fortunately, courage yet remains among better publishers (William Collins), and the book is now out in print.

Please consider supporting Professor Biggar’s pivotal work by purchasing a copy of this book and by spreading the word.

What follows is an extract from the “Introduction” to Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning, published by William Collins.

It was early December 2017 and my wife and I were at Heathrow airport, waiting to board a flight to Germany. Just before setting off for the departure gate, I checked my email one last time. My attention sharpened when I saw a message in my inbox from the University of Oxford’s public affairs directorate. I clicked on it. What I found was notification that my “Ethics and Empire” project had become the target of an online denunciation by a group of students, followed by reassurance from the university that it had risen to defend my right to run such a thing. So began a public row that raged for the best part of a month. Four days after I flew, the eminent imperial historian who had conceived the project with me abruptly resigned. Within a week of the first online denunciation, two further ones appeared, this time manned by professional academics, the first comprising 58 colleagues at Oxford, the second, about 200 academics from around the world. For over a fortnight, my name was in the press every day.

What had I done to deserve all this unexpected attention? Three things. In late 2015 and early 2016 I had offered a qualified defence of the late 19th-century imperialist Cecil Rhodes during the first Rhodes Must Fall campaign in Oxford. Then, second, in November 2017, I published a column in The Times, in which I referred approvingly to the American academic Bruce Gilley’s controversial article “The Case for Colonialism” and argued that we British have reason to feel pride as well as shame about our imperial past. Note: pride, as well as shame. And third, a few days later I finally got around to publishing an online account of the Ethics and Empire project, whose first conference had been held the previous July.

Thus did I stumble, blindly, into the “imperial history wars”. Had I been a professional historian, I would have known what to expect, but being a mere ethicist, I did not. Still, naivety has its advantages, bringing fresh eyes to see sharply what weary ones have learnt to live with. One surprising thing I have seen is that many of my critics are really not interested in the complicated, morally ambiguous truth about the past. For example, in the autumn of 2015 some students began to agitate to have an obscure statue of Cecil Rhodes removed from its plinth overlooking Oxford’s High Street. The case against Rhodes was that he was South Africa’s equivalent of Hitler, and the supporting evidence was encapsulated in this damning quotation: “I prefer land to ners . . . the natives are like children. They are just emerging from barbarism . . . one should kill as many ners as possible.” However, initial research discovered that the Rhodes Must Fall campaigners had lifted this quotation verbatim from a book review by Adekeye Adebajo, a former Rhodes scholar who is now director of the Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation at the University of Johannesburg. Further digging revealed that the “quotation” was, in fact, made up from three different elements drawn from three different sources. The first had been lifted from a novel. The other two had been misleadingly torn out of their proper contexts. And part of the third appears to have been made up.

There is no doubt the real Rhodes was a moral mixture, but he was no Hitler. Far from being racist, he showed consistent sympathy for individual black Africans throughout his life. And in an 1894 speech he made plain his view: “I do not believe that they are different from ourselves.” Nor did he attempt genocide against the southern African Ndebele people in 1896—as might be suggested by the fact that the Ndebele tended his grave from 1902 for decades. And he had nothing at all to do with General Kitchener’s “concentration camps” during the Second Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902, which themselves had nothing morally in common with Auschwitz. Moreover, Rhodes did support a franchise in Cape Colony that gave black Africans the vote on the same terms as whites; he helped finance a black African newspaper; and he established his famous scholarship scheme, which was explicitly colour-blind and whose first black (American) beneficiary was selected within five years of his death.

However, none of these historical details seemed to matter to the student activists baying for Rhodes’s downfall, or to the professional academics who supported them. Since I published my view of Rhodes—complete with evidence and argument—in March 2016, no one has offered any critical response at all. Notwithstanding that, when the Rhodes Must Fall campaign revived four years later in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, the same old false allegations revived with it, utterly unchastened.

This unscrupulous indifference to historical truth indicates that the controversy over empire is not really a controversy about history at all. It is about the present, not the past. A remarkable feature of the contemporary controversy about empire is that it shows no interest at all in any of the non-European empires, past or present. European empires are its sole concern, and of these, above all others, the English—or, as it became after the Anglo-Scottish Union of 1707, the British—one.

The reason for this focus is that the real target of today’s anti-imperialists or anti-colonialists is the West or, more precisely, the Anglo-American liberal world order that has prevailed since 1945. This order is supposed to be responsible for the economic and political woes of what used to be called the “Developing World” and now answers to the name “Global South”. Allegedly, it continues to express the characteristic “white supremacism” and “racism” of the old European empires, displaying arrogant, ignorant disdain for non-western cultures, thereby humiliating non-white peoples. And it presumes to impose alien values and to justify military interference.

The anti-colonialists are a disparate bunch. They include academic “post-colonialists”, whose bible is Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978) and who tend to inhabit university departments of literature rather than those of history. But academic “post-colonialism” is not just of academic importance. It is politically important, too, in so far as its world view is absorbed by student citizens and moves them to repudiate the dominance of the West.

Thus, academic post-colonialism is an ally—no doubt inadvertent—of Vladimir Putin’s regime in Russia and the Chinese Communist Party, which are determined to expand their own (respectively) authoritarian and totalitarian power at the expense of the West.

In effect, if not by intent, they are supported by the West’s own hard left, whose British branch would have Britain withdraw from Nato, surrender its nuclear weapons, renounce global policing and retire to freeride on the moral high ground alongside neutral Switzerland. Thinking along the same utopian lines, some Scottish nationalists equate Britain with empire, and empire with evil, and see the secession of Scotland from the Anglo-Scottish Union and the consequent break-up of the United Kingdom as an act of national repentance and redemption. Meanwhile, with their eyes glued to more domestic concerns, self-appointed spokespeople for non-white minorities claim that systemic racism continues to be nourished by a persistent colonial mentality, and so clamour for the “decolonisation” of public statuary and university reading lists. In order to undermine these oppressive international and national orders, the anticolonialists have to undermine faith in them.

One important way of corroding faith in the West is to denigrate its record, a major part of which is the history of European empires. And of all those empires, the primary target is the British one, which was by far the largest and gave birth to the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. This is why the anti-colonialists have focused on slavery, presenting it as the West’s dirty secret, which epitomises its essential, oppressive, racist white supremacism. This, they claim, is who we really are. This is what we must repent of.

This all makes good sense politically—provided that the end justifies any means and you have no scruples about telling the truth. Historically, however, it does not make good sense at all. As with Cecil Rhodes, so with the British Empire in general, the whole truth is morally complicated and ambiguous. Even the history of British involvement in slavery had a virtuous ending, albeit one that the anti-colonialists are determined we should overlook. After a century and a half of transporting slaves to the West Indies and the American colonies, the British abolished both the trade and the institution within the empire in the early 1800s. They then spent the subsequent century and a half exercising their imperial power in deploying the Royal Navy to stop slave ships crossing the Atlantic and Indian oceans, and in suppressing the Arab slave trade across Africa.

There is, therefore, a more historically accurate, fairer, more positive story to be told about the British Empire than the anti-colonialists want us to hear. And the importance of that story is not just past but present, not just historical but political. What is at stake is not merely the pedantic truth about yesterday, but the self-perception and self-confidence of the British today—together with Canadians, Australians, and New Zealanders—and the way they conduct themselves in the world tomorrow. What is also at stake, therefore, is the very integrity of the United Kingdom and the security of the West.


Featured: Britannia pacificatrix, mural by Sigismund Goetze; painted ca. 1914-1921.

Global Britain. Neo-Victorian Expansion?

Brexit has had a major impact on London’s policy making, prompting the United Kingdom to seek an autonomous and separate path from that of Brussels. This has what some call neo-imperialistic consequences, such as the return of the “East of Suez” and a renewed “Global Britan” (reminiscent of former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s initiatives); now Britain looks to new ties in Africa, Latin America and, especially, Asia.

In mid-December, Foreign Minister James Cleverly met the press and laid out the future programs of British foreign policy, which it needs to have, given the major economic, commercial and military repercussions of Brexit. Latent in British politics even when London was part of the EU, and now that Britian is out, London has promoted a “Global Britain” policy, especially a particular lean towards the Asia-Pacific region.

Cleverly acknowledged that British diplomacy has at times been slow to capitalize on the shift in geopolitical center of gravity “eastwards and southwards,” saying the UK will need to have policy goals for up to 20 years, in areas from trade to climate change , even if there were no immediate visible dividends at home. Countries like India, Indonesia and Brazil, with much younger demographics than the UK’s traditional allies who helped build post-World War II global institutions, will become increasingly influential, he said, and noting London will make confidence investments in countries that will shape the future of the world.”

Yet Cleverly’s address raised questions about whether he was advocating closer ties with some non-aligned countries that are the most willing to flout the rules-based international system in areas such as human rights. Getting prospective partners to uphold international law, respect human rights and diversity must take place “over decades,” he said, aiming for persuasion rather than conferences. Obviously, faithful to the historic British hostility towards Moscow, criticism of Moscow could not be omitted, even though the larger target was China, whose rise as an economic superpower in the last 50 years (especially in Asia and Africa), leads to concerns about its rapid military expansion and alleged “no strings attached” partnerships with developing countries.

But London’s new goals come as the UK backs down on one of its main “soft power” weapons, cutting international aid funds and tightening immigration controls after Brexit, despite a job deficit in some sectors due to the growing difficulties for foreign personnel.

Which “East of the Suez” for the UK?

As mentioned, “Global Britain” is an important counterpart to the foreign and defense policies for East of Suez (for which it is being structured as a chapter). Thus, the British security policy is seeing some changes in perspective, which can be read as part of the London approach

The United Kingdom, in a surprise move, has announced that it will negotiate “the exercise of sovereignty” with the government of the Republic of Mauritius, over the Chagos archipelago in the Indian Ocean. This announcement, totally unexpected, comes three years after the ICJ (International Court of Justice) had concluded that London had to decolonize those islands. This was announced on November 3rd by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the British government, James Cleverly, who added on November 3rd that the start of negotiations had been agreed upon by the British and Mauritian governments, and that the two parties intended to reach an agreement early in 2023.

According to Cleverly, the agreement should serve to “resolve, on the basis of international law, all outstanding issues, including those relating to the former inhabitants of the Chagos archipelago,” adding that the agreement “will ensure the continued effective functioning of the base United Kingdom and United States joint military service to Diego Garcia,” and pledging to keep the United States and India informed.

Two outstanding issues remain in the dispute, and they are not insignificant. On the one hand, the right of return of the original populations of the archipelago; and on the other, which country should exercise sovereignty over those islands (and consequently, what activities they will undertake). The organizations of the exiled people of the Chagos have applauded the possibility of return, but remain skeptical.

It is useful to remember that the Chagos archipelago is located in the Indian Ocean, between the Maldives (the closest country), Madagascar, the Seychelles and Somalia. It is made up of seven atolls with more than 60 islands. The largest of these is Diego Garcia, where there is a large US military base and a symbolic British presence with about 50 personnel, the Royal Naval Party 1002, which includes a small joint contingent of military police, about ten elements British Army, Royal Navy/Royal Marines, RAF, united under the acronym ROPO (Royal Overseas Police Officers).

The Chagos remained uninhabited until the end of the 18th century, when Great Britain, which controlled the archipelago, settled workers and slaves from Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius, forming the first permanent population. The United Kingdom administered the Chagos as part of the colony of Mauritius further south in the Indian Ocean. Since the 1950s, the possibility of establishing an air-naval base in the archipelago had begun to be evaluated, the importance of which grew with the increase in the threat of the Soviet fleet in the Indian Ocean and towards the flow of oil from the countries of the Persian Gulf towards America, Europe and Japan. It was essential to maintain a presence both in the Gulf and in the Indian Ocean.

In 1965, with the formation of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), Mauritius and the Chagos were under the administrative control of the British governor who resided in the Seychelles. In 1976, the Seychelles became independent from Great Britain and the BIOT, now reduced to the Chagos alone, was managed by the East African Desk of the Foreign Office and the representative of the crown on site was the commander of the Naval Party, but without the rank of Governor.

In January 1968, Great Britain, faced with a serious economic and financial crisis, announced its intention to withdraw its military forces from “East of Suez” by 1971 and generated a debate on the possible strategic vacuum in the Indian Ocean; and this tied in with the process of accelerated decolonization throughout the remaining British territories.

In 1965, three years before granting Mauritius independence, London separated the Chagos and set up a new administration under direct London rule. The following year, an agreement was signed with the USA for the establishment of a military base (leased until 2036).

Between 1966 and 1973, the entire population of Chagos—between 1,000 and 2,000 people, depending on the sources—was removed to prevent it from interfering with the activities of the base and relocated it to Mauritius, the United Kingdom and the Seychelles. The organizations of these populations have always denounced the relocation which they say was carried out with minimal financial compensation, very strong psychological pressure and without respecting the human rights of those people; and these organizations also claim that many of the expelled have fallen into conditions of extreme poverty. These groups are claiming the right of return, in a legal battle that has been going on for decades, so far without success, as the English courts have either ignored the appeals or rejected them. They also demand that the UK make it easier for people of Chagos origin to obtain British citizenship; and regarding Mauritius they complain that there too they are discriminated against because of their origin.

The biggest change in this situation occurred in February 2019, when the ICJ (International Court of Justice, a body responsible for adjudicating cases between states and territories), authorized by the UN General Assembly concluded that the decolonization of Mauritius in 1968 was not legally completed because the separation of the Chagos from St. Louis three years earlier “was not based on a free and genuine expression of the will of the population concerned,” because the separation violated the right of Mauritius to its territorial integrity and because, consequently, it was contrary to international law to retain British sovereignty over the Chagos. Consequently, the ICJ, albeit in an advisory opinion, has held that the United Kingdom is “obligated to terminate its administration of the Chagos archipelago as soon as possible,” and has called on member states to “work with the United Nations to complete the decolonization of Mauritius.”

For three years, London rejected the advisory opinion, stating that it would not transfer control of the Chagos to Mauritius as long as the archipelago was necessary for the defense policy of the United Kingdom (and its American ally), but that it declared itself open to dialogue. The story, beyond a vague idea of returning to “East of Suez,” represents the difficulties of London’s post-Brexit security policy (foreign and defence), so much so that India itself joined in support of Mauritius, with the clear intention of replacing the USA, as part of its policy of controlling any Chinese expansion and blocking the “string of pearls” (as the bases are called by India) that China is trying to establish around the Indian peninsula.

Meanwhile, Washington received an important offer: if London transferred sovereignty over the Chagos, the Mauritian government would be willing to lease the Diego Garcia base to the United States for another 99 years. However, the terms of the freedom of action of the US forces in that installation has remained unclear and it is not a trivial aspect in consideration of the important installations that the US has progressively built on the islands and which has nearly 2,000 soldiers (and over a thousand civilian contractors, mostly Filipinos, engaged in logistic and support functions), as well as airports, seaports, depots and logistic bases of all kinds and communication and electronic interception centres.

Unconfirmed rumors reported that in recent years Washington had started very discreet negotiation with Mauritius regarding whether they had a free hand for their activities in Diego Garcia (in the sense of not needing to give justifications regarding the movement of vehicles and personnel, operations to and in third countries), and that they would “convinced” London to cede its sovereignty to Port Louis.

But the question is much more than the important geostrategic location of the archipelago. In fact, there are options of an institutional type for Great Britain (and in particular its difficult relations with the EU), such as transforming the Chagos into a territory of autonomous overseas under British sovereignty, with a status similar to that of Gibraltar or the Falklands (the Chagos, despite the opinion of the ICJ, mandated by the UN General Assembly, are not included in the list of non-autonomous territories established by the same General Assembly and which include both Gibraltar and the Falkands; Mauritius also claims sovereignty over the islet of Tromelin, uninhabited, and administered by France but which has no military installations there and which is also not included in the list of non-self-governing territories).

And precisely these two British territories reacted to the announcement of the negotiations between the United Kingdom and Mauritius. In the Falklands, the local legislative assembly issued a statement, saying that the situation of the South Atlantic archipelago, claimed by Argentina, “cannot be compared” to that of the Chagos. The text recalled that, in a referendum in 2013, 99.8% of Falklands voters supported British sovereignty. Local lawmakers insist there can be no negotiations over Falklands sovereignty unless the islanders themselves ask for it.

On the same day, the Argentine Foreign Ministry interpreted the matter in a very different way. The South American country believes that the decision on the Chagos is a “precedent” that makes Argentina’s claim to sovereignty “stronger” over the Falklands and is asking the United Kingdom for negotiations. And in Gibraltar, the chief minister, Fabian Picardo, recalled in a tweet that in 2002 the people of Gibraltar “voted ‘no’ to dilute” their “exclusive British sovereignty, from the 99%.”

On the other hand, the Spanish ambassador to the UN, Agustín Santos, stated last June that the ICJ’s decision on the Chagos was “a living doctrine” to resolve a colonial dispute; and this when Gibraltar, Great Britain, Spain, and the EU are involved in an intricate negotiation to find an acceptable compromise for the small British colony that wants to maintain its ties with London, but to be included in the Union’s economic and customs mechanism, and to join (with reservations) the Schengen system and not give in to the persistent Madrid claims to enforce the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) which provides for the return of the British colony to Spain.

A final consideration on the post-Brexit return to the “East of Suez,” outlined in a 2017 doctrinal document from the authoritative King’s College, East of Suez: A British Strategy for the Asian Century. In 2021 the naval group of the British aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth operated in the waters of the Pacific, but the presence in the region still remains spotty; in fact, only a few elements of the police of the Ministry of Defense are present on Pitcairn Island (now two, recently there were five). In Singapore there is the British Defense Singapore Support Unit (BDSSU), headquartered at the port of Sembawang (Naval Party 1022), with 33 units. The British Military Garrison, Brunei (BMB) has a battlegroup, consisting of a Gurkha unit, and command, support and logistics units. Finally, there is the recently strengthened presence in South Korea: about twenty elements divided between the UNC (UN Command) and the UNC MAC (Military Armistice Commission), led by the brilliant general of the paratroopers, Andrew Harrison, now deputy commander of the multinational force. To this must be added the hundreds (or slightly less) of soldiers with liaison functions (or unspecified functions) in the Australian and New Zealand armed forces.

While the British presence is still limited in the Indo-Pacific, in regards to “East of Suez,” the British forces in the Gulf, Middle East and East Africa are more substantial, with bases, military and civilian personnel and diversified functions in Kenya, Djibouti, Somalia , Yemen, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq.

Finally, mention should be made of London joining the consolidated FPDA (Five Powers Defense Arrangement), which, according to British plans, should grow in profile and participation in the newly established AUKUS pact (Australia-UK-US), the terms of which are still pending definition; and Japan has recently signed an agreement to strengthen military ties with London. So, let us see what the future brings.


Enrico Magnani, PhD is a UN officer who specializes in military history, politico-military affairs, peacekeeping and stability operations. (The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations).

William de Morgan

This biographical essay was published in 1917 (in the March issue of The North American Review). Although little know today, William de Morgan (1839-1917) was a well-known potter, tile-maker and then a widely read novelist, who was a friend of both William Morris and Charles Dickens.

The author of this essay, William Lyon Phelps (1865-1943), the American scholar, single-handedly promoted and popularized the novel in America, especially by way of his essays on various novelists, of which this is one.


It was in August, 1911, that I first saw William De Morgan. The meeting—ever memorable to me—took place at Church Street in Chelsea, in his own home, a building filled with specimens of his tiles and graced with his wife’s paintings. After some time, we adjourned to what the English call a garden and what is known in America as the back yard. He fetched the manuscript of a nearly-completed novel, A Likely Story, and read aloud many of the detailed chapter-headings, chuckling with delight (even as a diplomat) over the apparently candid profusion of language with the successful concealment of the writer’s intention. For example (A chuckle after each sentence):

How Fortune’s Toy and the Sport of Circumstances fell in love with one of his nurses. Prose composition. Lady Upwell’s majesty, and the Queen’s. No engagement. The African War and Justifiable Fratricide. Cain. Madeline’s big dog Caesar. Cats. Ormuzd and Ahriman. A handy little Veldt. Madeline’s Japanese kimono. A discussion of the nature of Dreams. Never mind Athenaeus. Look at the prophet Daniel. Sir Stopleigh’s great-aunt Dorothea’s twins. The Circulating Library and the potted shrimps. How Madeline read the manuscript in bed, and took care not to set fire to the curtains.

Mr. De Morgan was then seventy-one years old. He was tall and thin. The latter adjective comes near to expressing his entire physical presence in one word. Everything was thin. His body was thin, his beard was thin, his voice was thin. But his nature and his manner had all the heartiness and geniality we commonly associate with rotundity. He was in fact exactly the kind of man that the author of his novels ought to have been. What more can one say?

In the Spring of the following year, I saw Mr. and Mrs. De Morgan again, this time in their apartment on the Viale Milton in Florence. It was deep in the afternoon, and a pile of manuscript a foot high rested on the table, the ink on the summit not yet dry. “The American people do not like my last two books,” said he with a cheerful smile, “but perhaps they will like this one, for it is the most De Morgany novel I have yet written.” His hope and his statement were both justified, for the manuscript was the first part of When Ghost Meets Ghost. Unlike many writers, he found the morning hours unfavorable for original composition. ” I am an old man, and my vitality does not reach much strength until late in the day. I do my best writing between tea and dinner.”

We talked of the Titanic, and of the war that Italy had carried into Africa. At that time he and I, with all the difference between us that the possession of genius gave to him, had one thing in common: we were both pacifists. Knowing his passionate love of Italy, I feared that he would ap prove of the war, and glory in the certainty of Italy’s victory. I was happy to find that his love for the country and for the people did not blind him to the wickedness of that selfish and greedy war. … It is only fair to him to say that his pacifist principles failed to survive the early days of August, 1914. He was aggressively for England to his last breath, and his letters showed constant surprise at his own thirst for blood. Yet while rejoicing in English victories, he could not help deploring the loss of many brave enemies of his country. In October, 1914, he wrote to me:

I am sorry to say that I am barbarous by nature and catch myself gloating over slaughter—slaughter of Germans, of course!—half of them men I should have liked—a tenth of them men I should have loved. It is sickening—but…

Again, in December, 1915:

I put aside my long novel, because, with Kultur in full swing, I felt I should spoil it. I took up an old beginning—sketched in immediately after Joe Vance—and have got about half-way through, with great difficulty. The trail of the poison gas is over us all here, and I can only get poor comfort from thinking what a many submarines we have made permanently so. All the same, one of my favourite employments is thinking how to add to their number—a grisly committee—coffinsfull of men very like our own. For all seamen are noble, because they live face to face with Death.

In our London conversation he told me the now familiar details of his becoming an author. Never during his long life had he felt the least flicker of literary ambition. In his letters he was always insisting on the additional fact that he had never read anything: “I scarcely looked in a book, un less it was about pots and mechanism, for forty long years. There’s a confession!—a little exaggerated in form from chagrin at the truth of its spirit, but substantially true for all that.” As a matter of fact, he knew Dickens as few readers have ever known him, and he had many of the shorter poems of Browning by heart, though he never read The Ring and the Book.

If he had not taken a slight cold in the head when he was sixty-four he might never have written a novel. This cold developed into a severe attack of influenza, and as he lay in bed, he amused himself by writing the first two chapters of Joseph Vance. “If I had not had the ‘flu,’ I should not have thought of writing a book. I started Joseph Vance ‘just for a lark.’” He had in mind no scenario, no plot, no plan, no idea whatever of the course of the story, or of what would become of any one of the characters. He just began to write, and his writing ceased—forever, as he thought—with his recovery. The world owes his completion of the story to Mrs. De Morgan, who insisted on his continuing. Then he came near destroying the early chapters, for they seemed to him to be too much like Dickens. In 1905 he was half-way through Joseph Vance, and it was published in July, 1906, when he was sixty-six years old. Its rejection by a publisher, owing to the appalling size of the manuscript, its subsequent acceptance by Mr. Heinemann, who saw it only after it had been typewritten, and its instant success, are now matters of general knowledge.

In an article I sent him he was impressed by the “sudden” opening of a story by Pushkin, Tolstoi’s delighted comment upon it, the immediate challenge of a friend to imitate it, with the result—the first page of Anna Karenina. In 1910 he wrote to me:

I must give you a parallel case to yours. Somehow Good began thus: I had written a good deal of another story, and liked it. I read it to my wife, and she didn’t. She said, “Why can’t you write a story with an ordinary beginning?” I said, “What sort?” and she answered, “Well—for instance: ‘He took his fare in the two-penny tube. Said I, “An admirable beginning!” and put my story in hand away, and began writing forthwith what is now Chap. 2 of the book. Chap. 1 was written long after, to square it all up. But the incident was substantially the Tolstoi story again, and chimes with all your comment on it.

The above account of the origin of Somehow Good is the more interesting because, of all his novels, this has the most orderly and best-constructed plot, and, viewed merely as a story, is his masterpiece. Which does not mean that I would trade it for Joseph Vance. To my mind his finest novel is the first one, and his greatest character is old Christopher Vance. With all my heart I hope that the latest book he was working on was completed, for he wrote me that it was even more “demorganatic” than the demorgany Ghosts.

He was deeply interested when I told him that the John Hubbard Curtis prize at Yale University in 1909 was offered for the best composition on the three novels which he had published before that year. He asked if he might see the successful essay, which was written by Mr. Henry Dennis Hammond, an undergraduate from Tennessee, and published in the Yale Courant for June, 1909. Two copies were sent him; one he returned to the young author, with highly diverting (and important) manuscript marginal notes. These notes were accompanied by a cordial letter, from which I make the following extracts:

I have scarcely an exception to take. What I have is to he found among some jotted comments on the margins of the Courant that I return to you. I daresay you will see that your irreverence (shall I call it?) for Dickens has occasioned some implication of cavil from me.

But all you young men are tarred with the same feather nowadays. Your remark about the red cap in David Copperfield made me re-read the chapter. I am obliged to confess that the red cap is absurd—a mere stage expedient ! He would have seen the hair, like enough. But, oh dear! What a puny scribbler that re-reading made me feel!

Here follow some of the marginal annotations, which explain themselves:

I am a successful imposter about music—I know nothing of it—but am a very good listener… I must have omitted some distinguishing points in these folk, to leave the impression of similitude. You see, I know them intimately still, and can assure you that they are, as a matter of fact, quite different. Dear, good old Mrs. Heath was worth both the others twice over… Come, I say—isn’t it quiet, wise, and lovable to smoke cigarettes? Very!—I think: Still, it’s true poor Janey died before English girls took to ‘baccy… But then Dickens was my idol in childhood, boyhood, youthhood, manhood, and so on to a decade of senility—even until now… Concerning realism and idealism, I’m blessed if I know which is which!… the attempt is to found the ghosts only on authentic ghost stories with the same explanations, if any… The first meeting of David C [opperfield] and Dora covers any number of sins… Anyhow, folk read the stories, and there will be another Sept. 23.

Merely to call the roll of Mr. De Morgan’s works is impressive, when we remember their size, their excellence, and the short period of time in which all were written: In eight years this wonderful old man published over a million words, and left several hundred thousand in manuscript—every word written by hand. The mere mechanical labor of writing and proofreading on so gigantic a scale inspires respect. Joseph Vance appeared in 1906; Alice-for-Short in 1907; Somehow Good in 1908; It Never Can Happen Again in 1909; An Affair of Dishonour in 1910; A Likely Story in 1911, When Ghost Meets Ghost in 1914.

The romantic revival in modern English fiction, which negatively received its impelling force from the excesses of naturalism, and positively from the precepts and practice of Stevenson, flourished mightily during the decade from 1894 to 1904. Unfortunately no works of genius appeared, and it was largely a fire of straw. Then just at the time when three phenomena were apparently becoming obsolescent—pains taking realism, very lengthy novels, and the “mid-Victorian” manner—William De Morgan appeared on the scene with Joseph Vance, a mid-Victorian realistic story containing—after William Heinemann had exercised the shears—two hundred and eighty thousand words! Within a short space of time the book had just as many readers as it had words. This is what Carlyle would have called “a fact in natural history,” from which we are at liberty to draw conclusions. One conclusion is that William De Morgan has had more influence on the course of fiction in the twentieth century than any other writer in English. For he gave new vogue to what I call the “life” novel, which differs from the popular novels of the ‘eighties as Reality differs from Realism, and whose sincere aim is to see life steadily and see it whole. In England, Arnold Bennett published The Old Wives’ Tale in 1908; H. G. Wells published Tono-Bungay in 1909; and the same year marked the appearance in America of A Certain Rich Man, by William Allen White. These three books are excellent examples of the new fashion, or the old fashion revived, which ever you choose to call it.

Henry James has said somewhere that in the art of fiction and drama we experience two delights: the delight of surprise and the delight of recognition. Of these happy emotions, readers of Mr. De Morgan feel chiefly the latter kind; although Somehow Good contained plenty of surprises. Nearly every page of his longer books reminds us of our own observations or of our own hearts; and many pages drew from solitary readers a warmly joyous response. Even the most minute facts of life become so interesting when accurately painted or penned, that the artist’s victim actually receives a sensation of pleasure so sudden and so sharp that it resembles a shock. One cannot possibly read Joseph Vance or When Ghost Meets Ghost with an even mind.

It is true that William De Morgan wrote An Affair of Dishonour. But Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities; Thackeray wrote Esmond and The Virginians; George Eliot wrote Romola; and Charles Reade wrote The Cloister and the Hearth. Why should we have quarreled with him about that? Any realistic writer may surely take a holiday in the country of Romance, if he chooses to do so. Yet the American attitude toward this particular historical romance was positively hostile; so hostile, that not only did the An Affair of Dishonour fail from the publishers’ point of view, but the four novels that preceded it practically ceased to sell for a whole year; at least, so their author told me.

He took the rebuff good naturedly, and extracted humor from the fact, as the postscript to A Likely Story proves; but he could not understand why he should be “punished” for daring to write an unanticipated work. I tried to explain to him that the anger of the American public was in reality complimentary; that he had set so high a standard in his four novels that the expectation of a vast circle of men and women was enormously keen, and that from a man of genius we always expect a work of genius, which no man—except perhaps Milton—has been able invariably to supply. He was not comforted. Seven years have passed since the publication of An Affair of Dishonour; and it is certain that the book ranks higher in the estimation of intelligent readers than it did during the first months that followed its appearance. It is, in fact, a powerful story, told with great art; destined, I think, to have a permanent place in English fiction. It lacks the irresistible charm of the other books; but it is rich in vitality.

After reading the first four novels, I inquired of the author: “Why do you make elderly women so disgustingly unattractive? Does your sympathy with life desert you here?” And what an overwhelming reply I received in When Ghost Meets Ghost! Were there ever two such protagonists? Not elderly, but old—tremendously old, aged, venerable. And what floods of love and sympathy the novelist has poured out on these frail old waifs of time! How one feels, like a mighty stream running under and all through the course of this strange story, the indestructible power of the Ultimate Reality in the universe—Love, Love Divine.

This leads me to the final reflection that William De Morgan was not only an artist, and a novelist, and a humorist: he was also a philosopher. Each one of his stories has a special motif, a central driving idea. I mean that underneath all the kindly tolerance through which every great humorist regards the world, underneath all the gentle irony and the whimsicality, the ground of these books is profoundly spiritual.

William De Morgan, like his brilliant father, belonged to the believers, and not to the skeptics. He was of those who affirm, rather than of those who deny. He was a convinced believer in personal immortality, or “immortalism,” as he preferred to call it. He believed that all men and women have within them the possibility of eternal development; those whose souls develop day by day are “good” characters; those whose souls do not advance are “bad” characters. This is the fundamental distinction in his novels between folk who are admirable and folk who are not. In the fortieth chapter of Joseph Vance—a chapter that we ought to read over and over again—we find a sentence that, although spoken by one of the characters, reflects faithfully the philosophy of William De Morgan, who believed, with all his strength, in God the Father Almighty and in the Life Everlasting: “The highest good is the growth of the Soul, and the greatest man is he who rejoices most in great fulfilments of the will of God.”


Featured: “William De Morgan,” by Evelyn De Morgan; painted in 1909.

Kissing the Sky: Hilarious Misheard Pop Lyrics

In this article, Dr. Stocker promises to bring tears to your eyes—of laughter. Now, misheard pop music lyrics often aren’t normally subtle. But if a pompous and wordy commentary befitting someone with a Cambridge education is applied to them, adding a dash of autobiographical insight for good measure, then this constitutes the perfect guide to such a fascinating by-way of musicology. The majority of the lyrics are original mishearings, where Dr. Stocker alone is to blame, but a couple are better known and simply had to be included. Join him on his journey.


Misheard lyrics are on the one hand mere trifles that can be dismissed as being silly, but on the other they can be invaluable, particularly to the Freudian psychoanalyst, providing insights into one’s thoughts, feelings and love life that I never hitherto believed existed.

Perhaps my first memorable experience of such lyrics came not from me, but from my father, Oliver Stocker, whom I have written about before. He airily dismissed a lot of pop (“Here today, gone tomorrow!”) but like not a few middle-aged men in the 1960s, succumbed just a little to the charms of Sandie Shaw, a tall, skinny dollybird, who preferred to perform in her bare feet and had a very serviceable voice—though not a patch on Kathy Kirby or Dusty Springfield, mind.

Good, well-chosen songs, often by Chris Andrews (who almost certainly fancied her), provided hit material. Indeed, Sandie reached number one three times in the UK. The second such hit, “Long Live Love,” written by Andrews, chronicled a happy love affair:

I have waited a long, long time
For somebody to call mine
And at last he's come along
Baby, oh nothing can go wrong
We meet every night at eight
And I don't get home 'till late
I say to myself each day
Baby, oh long, long live love!

These are hardly memorable or profound lyrics. But they fascinated Mr Stocker, who told me: “This Sandie Shaw is a remarkable girl. She says of her boyfriend: ‘We meet every night at eight/And I don’t get home ’till eight.’ Now, pray, how is that possible?” (He talked like me, you see).

Well, it was indeed phenomenal; the bionic woman clearly had nothing on Sandie! I told Dad he was being silly. He told me I was being impertinent. Posterity, I think, has vindicated him.

Abba are wonderful; even that swinging historian Jeremy Black thinks so and has quoted the lyrics of their stunning debut, the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest winner, “Waterloo.” Yet Abba are Swedish; they are, let’s face it, foreigners. Their pronunciation of English, though far better than my Swedish, is faulty and unintentionally comical.

I don’t think humour comes easy to people of those Northern regions: Strindberg, Ibsen, anyone? Indeed, Nordic humour seems to centre on people doing idiotic things under the influence of the multiple glasses of schnapps that they down, to keep spirits up during their interminable winters. But precisely because Abba are being serious and earnest, they end up being doubly funny. “Dancing Queen” is arguably their most iconic hit. But the lyrics are forever creating linguistic problems.

The misheard chorus line “Dancing Queen/Feeling the beat of the tangerine” (tambourine) is merely silly. But when Abba start to become a little more ambitious in describing the disco ambience, they founder badly, especially the climactic passage where we are urged to “See that girl/Watch that scene/Digging the Dancing Queen.”

‘Digging’ is clearly meant in its informal sense, that of appreciation of this disco diva rather than anything horticultural or archaeological. But the change from the imperative “See/Watch” to the present participle is troublesome.

It is entirely understandable, therefore, that this has been rendered as: “See that girl/ Watch her scream/ Kicking the dancing queen.” Indeed, this would be a clinically accurate description of a working-class disco (perhaps infiltrated by angry, anti-Abba punk rockers) in late 1970s Britain; and Abba’s lines afford quite a poignant social insight thereof.

It is highly amusing when a song containing the customary platitudes about love is suddenly invaded by an incongruous outsider. I am not the only one who can testify to the ample talents of Mama Cass (Elliott) of Mamas and Papas’ fame.

“Dedicated to the one I love” is a song from the summer of love (1967) that I still cherish. She turned solo with some success before tragically succumbing to a heart attack induced by her obesity, aged just 32. Cass, blessed with that rich voice, and I suspect quaking laughter, was one big-hearted Mama. She could have done so much more.

One of her biggest solo hits was “It’s getting better,” a charming song written by the highly talented husband and wife team of Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil. The title itself would have appealed to the great optimists of history: Dr. Pangloss, Emile Coué and Boris Johnson.

Its message centres on the singer’s love affair that is more down to earth than extravagantly romantic, and there’s nothing wrong with that. As Mama Cass explains,

Once I believed that when love came to me
It would come with rockets, bells and poetry
But with me and you it just started quietly and grew
And believe it or not
Now there's something groovy and good
Bout whatever we got
And it's getting better
Growing stronger, warm and wilder
Getting better every day, better every day.

So far, so good. But the penultimate line is highly problematic. “Warm and wilder?” No, the great American writer “Thornton Wilder!”

But what on earth does this profoundly serious commentator on “the timeless human condition; history as progressive, cyclical, or entropic” think he’s doing, straying onto the set and disrupting Mama Cass’s homespun sentimentality? Were she to sing “Barbara Cartland,” it would be considerably more apposite.

Was she seeking to impress and go intellectually upmarket, or what? Heed your social station and your unsophisticated audience, Miss Elliott! Whoever will you be namedropping next, your namesake T.S.? Mr. Wilder’s sentiments thereupon (he outlived Mama Cass by a year) remain, alas, unrecorded.

Robert Palmer, like Mama Cass, died too young. A-pack-a-day (or more) smoker, he indulged in the terrible habit to give his voice a rasping power where needed. He was elegant, he was intelligent, he was kind: just listen to the humanity of one of his standards, “Every Kind of People,” and I defy you not to melt, if not to flirt dangerously with multiculturalism.

Palmer was above all, courageously varied and open to experimentation in his musical repertoire; very unusual in this regard, and all the more admirable for it.

From the blue-eyed soul of “Every Kind of People,” he could move into a convincing essay in proto-techno in “Looking for Clues,” to the Lounge genre in “Riptide” (Robert in his tuxedo), to—for want of a better word—the stylish sexism of his biggest hit, the multi-million selling “Addicted to Love.”

And then, in “Flesh Wound,” a little-known track on his “Riptide” album, we encounter Palmer the hard-rocker, a cigarette paper separating him from Heavy Metal. There was nothing that he couldn’t do. I had fond aspirations of his intellectual pursuits.

Palmer, one feels, would have enjoyed his Trollope and his Gide, and known his Rameau from his Rimbaud. In truth, according to his partner, he liked nothing more than getting up in the night and assembling model aircraft; shucks, one’s illusions were blown! But the music remains impressive, and it is to “Flesh Wound” that I wish to turn.

As befits the popular genre, Robert is intending to “pull the bird,” as it were:

We flew over miles of ocean, be prepared
I don't have the faintest notion, who'll be there
You underestimated, nobody sympathized
I think you'll soon feel better, once we get inside
I see the door is open, why don't we walk right in?
Let's put our party hats on, and let the fun begin.

It is when he is attempting to reassure his lady love, in his ardent courtship, that Robert comes to grief; she will “soon feel better.” Only I could swear he says “Zubin Mehta.” What on earth is he doing in the bedroom? Is this revered classical conductor going to make it a joyous threesome? (I hope I shock no reader who subscribes to this magazine’s wholesome family values, but do make allowances for the dubious morality of the rock music scene).

Worse, is Zubin a horrible voyeur? Did Mr Mehta seek damages from Palmer? A more charitable reading is that the namedropping of the conductor merely attests to the intelligently catholic range of music that Robert Palmer embraced. I would very much like to think that.

A wonderful misheard lyric is embedded within the signature hit of master rock guitarist and cult figure, Jimi Hendrix, “Purple Haze.”

Let me briefly digress: Jimi incongruously shared his birthday (27 November) with my great aunt, Miss Kate Henchman Stocker, MA (1895–1984), who taught English, Elocution and Drama to the grateful pupils of New Zealand’s most esteemed private girls’ academy, Samuel Marsden Collegiate School, Wellington.

In retirement, Kate rose to stellar heights in pteridology. Poor Jimi wouldn’t have had a clue. But to him, you and any other plebs, this designates the study of ferns, really quite a significant field in New Zealand. I definitely think this accident of birth made Aunt Kate more “groovy” than she could ever have believed, though when I told her this, she was decidedly nonplussed: “Who’s this man?”

To return to “Purple Haze”: in the lyrics, Jimi is, I think, holding forth upon the impact of nefarious substances, the liberal consumption of which, true believers swear, enabled his creative genius to thrive:

Purple Haze all in my brain
Lately things just don't seem the same
Actin' funny but I don't know why
'Scuse me while I kiss the sky

The last line is decidedly odd, but remember this was from the summer of love, when people in their thousands suddenly started behaving untowardly, particularly in the Haight-Ashbury quarter of San Francisco.

Famously, an alternative interpretation of the said line is “Scuse me, while I kiss this guy.” Now, that makes considerably greater sense, and is eminently consistent not only with the Zeitgeist of permissiveness, but with all the peace, love and whatnot that constituted such a vital part of the hippie ideology.

By all accounts, Jimi—author of “Electric Ladyland”—was joyously heterosexual, but perhaps he too was open to openness and experimentation. Yet it could still be “the sky’” and if the object of his attention had been a frilly “chick cloud”—to quote from an especially daft song by the Incredible String Band—then that would have made perfect sense.

Alternatively, yes, his lady love could have been “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” Εὕρηκα, the perfect fit! Clearly there is method in Jimi’s hippie madness.

Readers may care to note that I received powerful intellectual vindication of my whole train of thought from the eminent linguistics expert (and poet), Emeritus Professor Koenraad Kuiper, who assures me: “The phonemic ambiguity of ‘the sky’ and ‘this guy’ is quite common and is disambiguated in context.”

Gee, thanks, Kon!

In retrospect, it is obvious that Herb Albert’s big hit, “The sky’s in love with you,” was a witty response to “Purple Haze.”

I will conclude this edgy, pioneering article with a reference to the gender fluidity that characterises our relativist age. In this regard, I sometimes use “It/Them” in my email and epistolary “signature” to confound and irritate woke folk, a proud assertion of my fundamental Otherness. But enough of this self-absorption.

Herman’s Hermits were a hugely successful pop group of the 1960s, part of the so-called “British Invasion,” led by the Beatles. Their success came partly because they were such a wholesome act, unlike the “long-haired vermin” that conservative folk would call the Rolling Stones, or the still-more egregious Pretty Things.

Lead singer Herman (aka Peter Noone) was a handsome, charming, youthful “boy next door” type, and with the Hermits enjoyed several US number ones, notably “I’m Henry VIII, I am,” and the poignant “Mrs Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter;” the latter sung in his broad, Mancunian accent.

A lesser-known hit by Herman’s Hermits was the jaunty, up-beat “Must to Avoid,” dating from 1965–66. It reached number 8 in the US, and number 6 in Britain. The lyrics commence thus:

She's a must to avoid
A complete impossibility
She's a must to avoid
Better take it from me.

Herman then goes on to explain: “She’s nothin’ but trouble/Better cut out on the double/Before she gets into your heart.” In short, she’s the sort of girl that your Mother would warn you against, unless that is your Mother is a hard-core feminist who joylessly objects to the systemic misogyny of this song.

The title poses a genuine problem. “Must to avoid?” A strange turn of phrase, and the early use of the verb ‘must’ as a noun would have made it even stranger nearly 60 years ago.

The alternative reading, “She’s a muscular boy,” makes infinitely greater sense. Clearly, Herman’s dangerous girl is transitioning, and avoidance during this difficult phase of her/his/their life is called for; really, this is sensitive counsel from him.

Alternatively, Herman might just have been alluding to those formidable East German women athletes who scooped up all the Olympic gold medals for tossing cabers, hurling garden gnomes and weightlifting, aided by performance-enhancing medication that deepened their voices. And what scary, hairy creatures they were, definitely to be avoided! This, though, is a more tenuous and frankly unsavoury gloss on an otherwise charming and innocuous song.

Indeed, perhaps after reading this, some sensitive souls are despairingly saying “Dr. Stocker is a must to avoid,” so he had better conclude.


Mark Stocker is an art historian whose recent book is When Britain Went Decimal: The Coinage of 1971.

Guilty Pleasures: Lounge Music

Lounge Music, also known as Easy Listening, is considerably harder for an intellectual such as myself convincingly to theorise. It was—and remains—huge in terms of its popular impact and when these things were properly measured, in records sold. And yet there is a dearth of literature on it. This is music that is predominantly sung by solo male artists—though the lovely Dionne Warwick (pronounced Warrick, not War-wick, you plebs) eminently qualifies, as do a syrupy duo big in Britain in the 1970s, Peters and Lee. This is music that does not seek to problematise, nor indeed, does it follow that ambitious Marxist edict “the point is to change the world.” Au contraire, Lounge would claim itself to be apolitical and here I think it succeeds wonderfully.

Whilst you sip your Martinis or G&T in the golf clubhouse to the accompaniment of Frank Sinatra or, if the ambience is more trendy, Harry Connick Jr, you simply do not think about burning questions like the ordination of women priests or poor reading ability at lower decile schools—or even want to. Lounge is conservative, it does tend to reinforce the capitalist status quo, and, thank goodness, it doesn’t preach at us. Even fine people of the left (not an oxymoron) can and should derive comfort from Sinatra singing “Three coins in the fountain” or “Young at heart” in the background.

I like Lounge because it tends to be discreet; it doesn’t and shouldn’t aim to compete with the meaningful conversations I have enjoyed with friends sunk into deep hotel armchairs. I will go so far as saying that I even feel Frankie, Andy, Tony (Bennett), Johnny (Mathis, aka Mr. Velvet) Nat (King Cole), Matt (Monro) and indeed Engelbert (can’t spell his foreign surname, sorry!) are like friends to me.

A pivotal figure in Lounge music is Andy Williams. In the last 30-40 years of his life I think he was criminally underrated, but he had the money in the bank, focussed on his art collection and sagely told us that he believed Obama was a grave threat (a rare venture of Lounge into politics). Above all, his music continued to give many people pleasure, which was always his aim. He was blessed with a fabulous voice, looks to match and a great choice in V-neck sweaters—some guys have all the luck.

But I love him for his witty self-reflexivity, when he called one of his late compilation albums, In the Lounge with Andy Williams. He would have been well over 70 at the time, and a comfortable armchair probably seemed more enticing than ever.

The songs are from his predictable repertoire, though “May each day” is sadly absent. How I loathed that song when I was a bolshie little 10-year-old and when it was played to death on Housewives’ Choice—’For Aunty Doris, who is 80 today,’ etc., with the compere sickeningly adding, “Bless her!” (Oh, sod off—it totally justified Punk Rock, but I digress!)

In older age, with maturity kicking in, I gave it another listen; and you know what, reader, I just melted and promptly forwarded the YouTube link to a few choice lady friends:

As the days turn into weeks, and the weeks turn into years,
There’ll be sadness, there’ll be joy, there’ll be laughter, there’ll be tears.

Of course, I now want the radio to play it when I reach 80. Andy, you have warmth, you shake hands with our hearts. But I concede that “May each day” isn’t exactly cutting-edge. Lounge rarely strives for such qualities, but every now and then a complex and fascinating song comes within its purview. I adore the pizzicato and clipped guitar of “Can’t get used to losing you,” and admire another lesser-known track with syncopated rhythms that make it veer towards a rock ballad: “Getting over you.” It’s also a fabulous production job, with perfect use of strings and chorus. I wish Andy had attempted something edgy rather more, but as I have implied, this goes against the fundamental grain of Lounge.

With anything half decent in Lounge, three things are vital: a professionally written song with that rarity these days, a compelling melody; a singer with a good voice; and capable production values.

Roger Chapman, of the Prog Rock band Family, who has a voice akin to barbed wire, would never have made it as a Lounge star, and probably “Chappo” wouldn’t have wished to anyway. His utterly different compatriot, Matt Monro (originally Terence Parsons, a cheery Cockney bus conductor), is probably little known to our predominantly US/Canadian readership, but there’s no question that he’s up there with the greats—his vibrato has balls alright!

Monro is a Lounge singer’s Lounge singer, and Sinatra himself recognised this, sending Matt fond wishes when the latter was on his premature deathbed (too many single malts in the 19th hole, poor Matt!) Our good friend Mrs Broadbridge wept when she heard he had passed away, but in her quick-witted way, quoted one of his loveliest hits: “Walk on, Matt!”

Sometimes Matt’s material could be jejune—he understandably disowned his 1964 Eurovision Song Contest entry, “I love the little things.” But given the right song, he was a Lounge killer: “Born free” and that art historian’s classic, “Portrait of my love,” with this delightful couplet: “Anyone who sees her/Soon forgets the Mona Lisa.” I rest my case.

Lounge has its origins in Crosbyesque crooning, in the vocal refrains which were a charming part of Swing, and can sometimes be quite jazzy. Mel Tormé is emphatically in this category—too clever by half is Mel, sometimes downright parodic (as in “I’m hip”) and subversive. I fear he was a Democrat. Yet his version of “Polka dots and moonbeams” leaves the better-known one by Sinatra for dead:

I won’t harp excessively on Frankie and it’s not because he was personally obnoxious, but because I find something slightly cold and alienating in the very perfection of his voice. Yet he wins me over with the Sammy Cahn standards of the 1950s and later when he recorded the great Rod McKuen’s “Love’s been good to me”—so infinitely preferable to bloody “My Way.”

Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck are two unquestionably significant singers who are Lounge related. Tom is best, however, when he aims at something soulful (I love his underrated cover of the Four Tops’ “Do what you gotta do”)—indeed, he’s the one improbable Lounge/ Northern Soul crossover.

Engelbert is the better Lounge suit fit though there’s a great deal of Country in him (“Ten Guitars,” “There goes my everything”). Even his signature hit, “Please release me” is emphatically Country in its origins. Gosh, this song brings back memories. Along with Rolf Harris’s nauseating “Two little boys,” it was one of the numbers I would sing in the school changing-rooms after swimming, and strangely was never beaten up as I attempted to do so. It is one of the best-selling British singles of all-time, and like “My Way,” was in the top 50 for over a year.

Its chief claim to fame was that it did the unthinkable: it kept the Beatles’ double A-sider “Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields forever” (and this is the Fab Four at their creative peak) off the number 1 slot. The sheer rage of earnest rock intellectuals over this catastrophe is still something to cherish, and it was reignited when I commented in the Guardian blog many years later: “Showed those long-haired vermin what’s what.” Indeed, it marked the triumph of Lounge (and mums and dads) over its upstart, pretentious rivals (Strawberry Fields Forever indeed), and I exult!

Lounge is more complicated than you think—just you try playing any Burt Bacharach melody on the piano: it’s much closer to Grade VIII than Grade I, and this genius of composer endows the genre with creativity and even profundity. When I was aged just 8 and Dionne Warwick’s Bacharach-crafted “Walk on by” was high in the charts, I really felt the sense of hearing something special and life-enhancing. Its infinitely sad message got home to me even then, but I was a precocious as well as an endearing lad. There are of course many other songs where that came from, notably “Trains and boats and planes” and “Close to you”—aah! Jimmy Webb snaps at the heels of Bacharach as a great composer.

I particularly like “The worst that can happen” (which was covered by the obscure Brooklyn Bridge), whose lyrics show Lounge in a rare but brilliant moment of emotional sadness:

Oh girl, don't wanna get married
Girl, I'm never, never gonna marry, no no
Oh, it's the worst that could happen…

Now, that’s the story of my life!


Mark Stocker is an art historian whose recent book is When Britain Went Decimal: The Coinage of 1971.