Friday, 21 February 2014

More wit and wisdom from Sydney Smith

He had occasional flashes of silence, that made his conversation perfectly delightful. referring to Macaulay

Never try to reason the prejudice out of a man. It was not reasoned into him, and cannot be reasoned out.

Have the courage to be ignorant of a great number of things, in order to avoid the calamity of being ignorant of everything.

What would the world do without tea? - how did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Wild Curates?

Page 141/142

..... attacks up the Bishops were not infrequent, suggesting that they were a set of worldly men ignoring their pastoral function. From their point of view, the bishops upheld anti-revolutionary values to the general benefit of a hierarchical society.

Critics of the Anglican Church took a different line: here (the Church) was a political extension of the State (with the Sovereign as its supreme governor. 

Attacks ranged from the crude designation of them as ‘black locusts’, to Francis Place’s more florid malediction – ‘luxurious, rich, overbearing and benumbing’.

Then there was **Sydney Smith’s characteristic barb that the bishops deserved to be ‘preached to death by wild curates’.

(from "Perilous Question === Reform or Revolution?  Britain on the Brink"   (Public Affairs Books,  USA, or  Weidenfeld and Nicholson,  Great Britain) 2013.   by the superb author Antonia Fraser.)

** Sydney Smith,  (born June 3, 1771, Woodford, Essex, Eng.—died Feb. 22, 1845London), one of the foremost English preachers of his day, and a champion of parliamentary reform. Through his writings he perhaps did more than anyone else to change public opinion regarding Roman Catholic emancipation. Smith was also famous for his wit and charm.


Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Great Britain? England? The United Kingdom? The British Isles?

Funny and interesting, though not entirely accurate. 

1)  England is not a theocracy - the video totally misunderstands the relationship between Church and State in England.

2.  Not sure that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island consists of four countries.
England is a Country, Scotland is a Country  -  but Wales is a Principality and Northern Ireland is a Province.  (but I quibble!)

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Ted Nugent's "subhuman mongrel and chimpanzee"


From his speech at the Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show Jan 17th 2014

NUGENT: I have obviously failed to galvanize and prod, if not shame enough Americans to be ever vigilant not to let a Chicago communist raised communist educated communist nurtured subhuman mongrel like the ACORN community organizer gangster Barack Hussein Obama to weasel his way into the top office of authority in the United States of America. I am heartbroken but I am not giving up. I think America will be America again when Barack Obama, [Attorney General] Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton, [Sen.] Dick Durbin, [former New York City Mayor] Michael Bloomberg and all of the liberal Democrats are in jail facing the just due punishment that their treasonous acts are clearly apparent.

So a lot of people would call that inflammatory speech. Well I would call it inflammatory speech when it's your job to protect Americans and you look into the television camera and say what difference does it make that I failed in my job to provide security and we have four dead Americans. What difference does that make? Not to a chimpanzee or Hillary Clinton, I guess it doesn't matter.

Monday, 17 February 2014

They droned on about this in High School .... but now

It was about fifty five years ago that a history teacher at Fairfield Grammar School  (equivalent to an American High School) droned on and on about the Reform Act for England and Wales of 1832.  (Similar Acts for Ireland and Scotland were passed later).

Reform Act  blah blah blah
King William IV blah blah blah
Lord Grey, Lord John Russell blah blah blah
The Duke of Wellington blah blah blah
Whigs and Tories  blah blah blah

Blah, drone, bored, why do I need to know this stuff.

All these years later I have been fascinated to read about the high drama and low skullduggery which surrounded the debates about this Act in both Houses of Parliament.

This fascination was birthed by reading

"Perilous Question === Reform or Revolution?  Britain on the Brink"   (Public Affairs Books,  USA, or  Weidenfeld and Nicholson,  Great Britain) 2013.   by the superb author Antonia Fraser.

I wrote a bit yesterday about Spencer Perceval (the younger) and his objections to the Act.

Today, and for the next three days I will give you "tasters" from the book  -  which I hope you will want to buy or borrow.


 (Following the dissolution of Parliament by William IV)

Page 111

“ Queen Adelaide (a Tory sympathizer) was questioned by William’s twelve year old nephew, Prince George of Cambridge, who had gleaned that something exceptional had happened. “What has the King done?” he asked anxiously, “Has he not done something odd? Queen Adelaide responded with dignity: "The King can do odd things”


Page 112  Re: King William's Dissolution of Parliament.

“Certainly the incident added to the enormous popularity of William IV. The very different stages in his feelings were hidden from his grateful subjects as they hallooed their joy. Much was  made of the happy coincidence of the King’s nickname – ‘Vote for the Two Bills’ was a favoured cry. 
John Doyle produced an amusing drawing of the King, unmistakable with his stout figure and turnip-like face, gazing at a wall on which were the words “The Bill and nothing but the Bill”:  William asked ‘Is that me?’"

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Not that Spencer Perceval

Readers of this blog, being of above average intelligence and knowledge,  will remember that Spencer Perceval (1762-1812) was the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Ireland 1809 - 1812.

Wikepida says this of Perceval.   A follower of William Pitt, Perceval always described himself as a "friend of Mr Pitt" rather than a Tory. Perceval was opposed to Catholic emancipation and reform of Parliament; he supported the war against Napoleon and the abolition of the slave trade. He was opposed to hunting, gambling and adultery, did not drink as much as most Members of Parliament, gave generously to charity, and enjoyed spending time with his twelve children.

You may not have known that, but surely you remember that Perceval is the only British Premier to have been assassinated. He was shot in the lobby of the (old) House of Commons on 11th May 1812, and died immediately.

But I do not wish to write about that Spencer Perceval. You ask "was there another?". 

Indeed there was.  He was a son of Spencer Perceval (the one named above). He lived from 1795 - 1859, was a High Tory Member of Parliament, and was greatly opposed to the 1832 Reform Act.

You'll doubtless do your own research on the Reform Act.  Google may help. 

But you'll do better to read all about it in: "Perilous Question === Reform or Revolution?  Britain on the Brink" by the superb biographer Antonia Fraser (Public Affairs Books,  USA, or  Weidenfeld and Nicholson,  Great Britain) 2013.

(It will surprise you greatly to know that I have recently read this book).

The Reform Act had to do with making the House of Commons more representative of urbanization and the increased  population ( but not more representative of the people:  universal suffrage did not come about in the U.K.  until 1928)

Tories such as the reactionary Duke of Wellington and Queen Adelaide were vehemently opposed to any reform.

King William IV ("Sailor Bill") had no enthusiasm for Reform, but he also wanted to be thought of as a wise and caring Monarch. He had read his tea-leaves and he knew that public sentiment was all for reform - especially in the light of the famous Bristol Riots.

The Reform Bill  was finally enacted into law thanks (in a great part) to the patient wisdom of Earl Grey (1764 - 1845)   a Whig - who was  Prime Minister (1830 - 1834) - (back in the day when Premiers could sit in the House of Lords), and for whom "Earl Grey Tea" is named.

Spencer Perceval the Younger was utterly opposed to reform.  He knew that God was on his side.  God was on his side because the 1831 cholera epidemic was a sure sign of God's judgment. (It had nothing to do with poor sanitation and the lack of pure water!).

"Perceval's main message from God was a fearful one: the nation trembled on the verge of destruction. In every district there were disorders, respect within the ranks of society no longer existed, and there was also 'the frightful collision of the two Houses of Parliament' ....... what was to be done? He would read from the Holy Book, declared Perceval, about God's mercy and his judgments. And so he proceeded to do, long, long passages about  Israel, its transgressions, its atonements, ......... This was the truth: they had departed from God , and God had departed from them. When it came to detail, and it did, Perceval gave the destruction in Bristol as a sample of God's wrath. And he spent some time denouncing 'the liberal mind that is marching through Europe', adding that it was blasphemy to attribute power to the people, since all power came from God". (Perilous Questions pp  199/200)

Poor benighted Perceval.  Surely he was a man of another age, with almost antediluvian views.


In 2007, Graham Dow the Bishop of Carlisle (U.K.)  asserted that the floods in Cumbria and other places were God's judgment on immorality and greed.

Jack Trick (he of the infamous anti-Catholic "Chick Comics")  said that Hurricane Katrina (2005) was God's wrath over United States pressure on Israel.



Perceval thought that the outbreak of cholera was an expression of God's judgments against political reform. (But it was the poor people and  not the parliamentary reformers who were most stricken by cholera),

Bishop Dow said that floods in northern England were God's judgment on greed and immorality. (But was there no immorality and greed in other parts of the U.K.?

Jack Chick said that Katrina was God's wrath because of American foreign policy regarding Israel.(If that's the case how was it that Katrina struck Louisiana and not Washington DC  where the foreign policy and political decisions are made?)

I'll leave you to figure out that nonsense.

In the meantime remember Spencer Perceval,  and be careful how you read and interpret the bible).