Happy ‘anti-slavery day’

Diagram of a slave ship from the Atlantic slav...

Diagram of a slave ship from the Atlantic slave trade. From an Abstract of Evidence delivered before a select committee of the House of Commons in 1790 and 1791. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apparently in 2007 the EU Parliament passed a law that made 18 October ‘Anti Human trafficking day’ and in 2010 the british Parliament made the same day ‘Anti-slavery day’. My take on that is: whoopee, maybe we could have a hashtag next–they’re all about as effective.

Why this is here is a reminder that it was the British, led mostly by Wilberforce, that ended the transatlantic slave trade, by putting the Royal Navy, and their money where their mouth was.

Still, I like Ann Jolis’ article here, she says some good things, and that’s her job. And she did a good job.

But we need to heed what the Spectator editors of an earlier age said.

We could not have believed for a moment, a year ago, that the Times and Saturday Review would both in the same week devote their ablest pens to an apology, not merely for Slavery itself, but for the Christian character of that institution. Yet so it is. . . .

The Times follows its bolder contemporary on the same track, modestly suggesting that it would be much more Scriptural and Christian in the abolitionists to preach the ‘amelioration of the negro’ (we suppose the writer means, of his lot), than his emancipation. . . .

For ourselves we do not hesitate to say that no religious scepticism of the present day seems to us so monstrous and so atheistic as this; nay, that if the Gospel were weighted with such a condition, it would be one that neither sign nor miracle could prove. It is, speaking relatively, of infinitely little importance whether we live under an aristocracy or a democracy, compared with whether we live under a God who loves freedom, or a Devil who loves Slavery. But, we confess, nothing seems to us more astounding than the assertion that the Divine revelation is indifferent on the matter. No doubt, the Divine education of the Hebrew people never attempted to ignore the actual historical condition of the nation. It recognized, under the strictest possible limitations, the fact of Slavery, at an era when no other people had learned to impose any limitation on the power of the master at all.

 

Via Happy ‘anti-slavery day’ to Clapham Christians, et al » Spectator Blogs.

Those are words we would be well advised to heed, and with more than our mouths.

There is still much work to do.

1066, and America

English: Harold Godwinson falls at Hastings. H...

English: Harold Godwinson falls at Hastings. Harold was struck in the eye with an arrow (left), slain by a mounted Norman knight (right) or both. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You know that I like to commemorate events in history, and October is a rich month for that. I’ve often said that American history is a niece of British, especially English history. This month is a prime example of why. The other day was the 948th anniversary of the battle of Hastings. The Norman Conquest is one of the pivots of our (and perhaps world) history. Don’t think so? Let’s look at it, but first a short history of it.

In January St. Edward the Confessor, the last King of England of the House of Wessex, which we spoke of yesterday with regard to Alfred the Great, died, and eventually was borne in state to the new Westminster Abbey (which he built) where he was buried. Incidentally his feast day is 13 October.

The succession was a disputed one, it settled out as having three claimants, Harold Godwinson,  The nobles of the realm offered him the crown, although he had a pretty weak claim to it, being the brother-in-law of King Cnut

Amongst the other claimants, King Swegn Estrithson, of Denmark and Edgar Aetheling (Atheling actually means throneworthy) and he was of the House of Wessex, the Grandson of Edmund Ironside, he was also a minor. Neither of these seem to have been considered at all.

But there was also King Harold Hardrada of Norway acting on behalf of Tostig, Earl of Northumbria, and King Harold’s brother. Tostig has always seemed to me to be a very troublesome younger brother, and it looks like Harold thought so too. But this was a serious claim.

Then there was William, Duke of Normandy, whose claim was based on a promise made ears before by Edward, and backed by the Pope.

And so, Harold was crowned at Westminster by Archbishop Stigand of Canterbury and Archbishop Ealdred of York. I also note that Halley’s comet was visiting that year, all seemed to think it a bad omen for Harold and a good one for William.

To contest this matter, William had to convince his nobles to help, and not demand, which he did, and got the support of the Pope as well. William was a planner and took his time with his preparations, which worked to his benefit.

And so, in May, Tostig made his first, abortive try to invade England, which caused Harold to call out the Fyrd, which was peasants who were required to serve at his pleasure, and he kept them out, waiting for William.

Meanwhile, William was preparing including calling his magnates to help him dedicate his wife Mathilda’s new abbey of St Etienne, in Caen, on 18 June 1066, and get his people to support him.

On 20 September Tostig and Harold  sailed up the Ouse river and fought Earls Edwin and Morcar at Fulford outside York. The Earls were defeated and badly and took no further part. Following this Harold came up with a scratch force consisting mostly of his own Housecarls and thegns, He then marched 180 miles in four days calling out shire levies as he went. He offered Tostig his earldom back if he would change sides, and when he didn’t the forces met at Stamford Bridge on 25 September.

Both Hardrada and Tosig were killed in the battle beneath the Raven banner but, it was a hard battle and the King’s force were beat up and tired.

At this point William landed probably at Pevensey from his 700 ships. And then he proceeded to burn and pillage to force Harold to come south and fight him. Which worked, Harold raced his forces back south down the Roman road called Ermine Street and on 14 October they met in battle, at where else, the place now called Battle. It’s an interesting battle, and the linked article gives a reasonable description but the short form is: William won and Harold died. You may have heard of Battle Abbey, it marks the site.

And so for the last time (so far) in history was England conquered by an outside force.

BBC – History – British History in depth: 1066.


But why does this matter? Well, England at the time was in no way a democracy but it wasn’t exactly feudal either. It was sort of an amalgam of the old northern European tribal structure with the feudal sytem. You’ll recall from Beowulf that certain men were considered eligible for the throne of the Geats, and Atheling is an obvious link to the concept. In addition the first charter of the rights of freeman had been issued by King Alfred the Great. In this we can see the first dim outlines of our freedom.

This was shattered by the Conquest, because Normandy had become almost completely feudal, and those Normans replaced almost completely the native Anglo/ Saxon/ Danish nobility. And so the language of the ruling class became French, which it would be for centuries. That echoes down to us, we raise cows but eat beef is one famous example. Another is contained in Kiplings poem which Jess wrote about, called ‘The Wrath of the Awakened Saxon”.

And never doubt that attitude has come down to us all, it’s part of the common heritage of the English speaking peoples, British, American, Canadian, Australian and all the rest. That’s our heritage, that and the rule of law, better expressed as “the rule through and under the law” which signifies that our governments, however constituted, are as subject to the law as we are. There is no more ‘Presentment of Englishry’ which deprived the English of their civil rights in there own land.

This is the heritage that gave us Henry II’s charter, ans Magna Charta, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution.

Nearly a thousand years ago that heritage was nearly killed, and tyrants have been (and still are) trying to kill it, and sometime we gain but sometimes we lose, but

The Dream of Freemen still lives within us

Naught For Our Comfort

I doubt that it is news to any of you but, one of the great joys of mine in writing this blog for the last two years has been the help and friendship of Jessica, and her co-author Chalcedon. I admire them both greatly, and one of the reasons for that is that they have rekindled my love for poetry, and you have seen all of us use it to reinforce our points. It is hardly a new method but, it is one used rarely these days. I suspect because most of us are so ill-educated that we are unaware of its richness, and ability to reinforce our point.

If you read much of Lincoln’ writings and speeches, for instance, you will see it used to great effect. For instance his famous, “of the people, for the people, and by the people’ was not original, nor did he claim it was, and his listeners knew it was not. The original is this: “This Bible is for the government of the people, for the people and by the people.” it is by John Wycliffe and it is from 1384.

And so they have enriched my life, and will continue to do so, God willing, and yours as well because it is reflected in my posts for you. And so

A sea-folk blinder than the sea
Broke all about his land,
But Alfred up against them bare
And gripped the ground and grasped the air,
Staggered, and strove to stand.

For earthquake swallowing earthquake
Uprent the Wessex tree;
The whirlpool of the pagan sway
Had swirled his sires as sticks away
When a flood smites the sea.

Our towns were shaken of tall kings
With scarlet beards like blood:
The world turned empty where they trod,
They took the kindly cross of God
And cut it up for wood.

He bent them back with spear and spade,
With desperate dyke and wall,
With foemen leaning on his shield
And roaring on him when he reeled;
And no help came at all.

There was not English armor left,
Nor any English thing,
When Alfred came to Athelney
To be an English king.

It was a very bad time to be King Alfred of Wessex, and I think it holds parallels to our time as well. to continue

“Mother of God” the wanderer said
“I am but a common king,
Nor will I ask what saints may ask,
To see a secret thing.

“But for this earth most pitiful.
This little land I know,
If that which is forever is,
Or if our hearts shall break with bliss
Seeing the stranger go?”

And here we come to my introduction to this epic by Jess, when she quoted to me on one of our political defeats

I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher

“And this is the word of Mary,
The word of the world’s desire
`No more of comfort shall ye get,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.’

Naught for your  comfort has become a catchphrase for us when things go awry, which has been often these last few years for us Americans, and for Britons as well.

We are living through a failed presidency (or at least trying to) and one of the reasons it has failed is that many of our countrymen have confused Obama with God, and I suspect he has as well. That never turns out well, and it is not here either.

I’m reminded that first class leaders hire the best men they can find to help them, and second class leaders hire third class helpers, and worst of all, third class leaders hire lackeys who will tell them what they want to hear. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

But we are going to have to soldier until after the next election, and hope we find a man (not a god) to help us lead in the rebuilding western civilization, for without our leadership it will fall. It’s going to be an epically hard battle, and we could do worse than to emulate King Alfred.

But remember, we remember King Alfred because he won. Let’s finish with the rest of the poem.

And this was the might of Alfred,
At the ending of the way;
That of such smiters, wise or wild,
He was least distant from the child,
Piling the stones all day.

The King looked up, and what he saw

Was a great light like death,
For Our Lady stood on the standards rent,
As lonely and as innocent
As when between white walls she went
And the lilies of Nazareth.

[...]

They shall not come in warships,
They shall not waste with brands,
But books be all their eating,
And ink be on their hands.

Yea, this shall be the sign of them,
The sign of the dying fire;
And man made like a half-wit,
That knows not of his sire.

What though they come with
scroll and pen,
And grave as a shaven clerk,
By this sign you shall know them
That they ruin and make dark;

By all men bond to nothing
Being slaves without a lord,
By one blind idiot world obeyed
Too blind to be abhorred.

By thought a crawling ruin,
By life a leaping mire,
By a broken heart in the breast
of the world
And the end of the world’s desire.

By God and man dishonored
By death and life made vain
Know ye, the old barbarian,
The barbarian come again

The eternal battle against barbarism is ours to win for our generation or to lose for generations to come. It has taken us a thousand years to get where we are, and it might take longer to recover. So, Stand Fast, my friends.

Did that interest you enough to wonder about the poem and its author? I hope so. It was written by G.K. Chesterton (and its much longer than the excerpts here) it’s called The Ballad of the White Horse. You can find it at Project Gutenberg.

The way to defeat jihadis is to offer something better

Daniel Hannan has an outstanding article up on the Telegraph yesterday. He is talking about how to defeat the young Brits that wish to be jihadis. The thing is, you never defeat something with nothing, he’s right.

British history, like its niece American history, is the story of man’s ascent from slavery to individual liberty. In great measure, it is a story that is one of the most attractive in the world. But we have allowed it to be corrupted, by those who use it for  political ends, who have convinced many that Britain, and America, are evil incarnate.  We, like the Brits, have allowed this to creep in, unnoticed, over the years until this evil nonsense is what is being taught to our children as our history.

There are things in our histories that are cringeworthy, but that is true of everyone’s history. There is also the fact that of all the peoples in the world, the Anglo-Americans have done more for the individual, than anybody else.

And in a related matter, our young people are looking for something when they join the jihad, or even when they convert to Islam. I think they look for certainty, a system that knows right from wrong, good from evil. Islam is a system that is flawed of course, It reflects the flawed nature of its founder, and is easily corrupted to evil, if it is not evil in itself.

But, one knows that there is another system in the world that does the same thing, it offers a choice, and a stark one, between good and evil, but unlike Islam, it while rooted in antiquity, has grown. The wisest men of the last 2000 years have contributed to it, and enriched it.

But it, like Anglo-American history, has been greatly maligned and diluted, both from within and without. But also like our history, the record is still there, and accessible, we merely need to read, learn and share it.

A Polish friend, an MEP of my sort of age, was telling me the other day about how his life changed when Pope John Paul II toured his home country. The papal visit set in train the events that led to the Gdansk protests and, in due course, the unravelling of the tyranny. But my friend added a detail that I had never before appreciated. “The Holy Father never directly condemned the Communist authorities,” he said. “He didn’t need to. He was offering something better”.

When you put it like that, it’s obvious, isn’t it? Offer something better. It worked during the recent Scottish referendum. For months, Unionists had warned of the horrors that would follow from separation: companies leaving, markets collapsing, Scotland left without a currency. The more frenetically they warned, the further they fell behind in the polls. Only in the closing days did the “No” campaign make the positive argument it should have made all along: the UK was doing pretty darned well, Scots were prospering within it, and it was silly to discard a precious thing. That was when the polls turned.

Continue reading  The way to defeat British jihadis is to offer something better

And that is the thing that I find so frustrating, Anglo-American history is the story of man’s ascent from slavery to freedom, and its sharing all over the world. It is one of the most remarkable and uplifting stories ever writing, and written in blood by the common man.

And the other story that I referred to above is even greater, although the two are intimately entwined. Because the story of Christianity is also a story of free will, and enlightenment. It has justly been called The Greatest Story Ever Told, and it is. It the story of man’s civilization, from a violent past. Only Christianity has developed, and lived by a ‘Just War Theory’ . The rest still live by the rule of the most powerful, while we live by the ‘Rule under and through the law’ and apply y it not only to ourselves but even to those who presume to rule us.

That is what President Reagan, Prime Minister Thatcher, and Pope (St.) John Paul II used to defeat the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union.

It is a wonderful uplifting story. Because something always defeats nothing, and humanism, and Islam, are nothing, Simply the rule of the powerful.

Be For Something, Something Good

On the Other Hand

Uncle_Sam_(pointing_finger)Like everybody, I tend to concentrate on what’s wrong, and in truth, there’s plenty out there to depress you to despair or worse. But sometimes we should remember to be “Fair and Balanced”.

Did you realize that there are only two countries in the world that do not have a national costume?

One is England, when we dress up, everybody in the world dresses like an Englishman.

And the rest of the time, they dress like an American.

Bill Whittle also decided it was time for some good news, and it’s exceptional

Chesterton on “The American Creed”

English: G. K. Chesterton, 1920s. Silver gelat...

English: G. K. Chesterton, 1920s. Silver gelatin print. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you read here much, you already know how much I like G. K. Chesterton. In 1922 he visited America and he was struck by the questions he was asked as he came through customs. In fact, he compared them to the Spanish Inquisition, and he made it into a compliment, because of all the countries of the world, only America is founded on a creed, and a written one at that.

In many ways it seems that we have lost that specialness, maybe I should say exceptionalism, lately, and if we do, I think we lose the essence of America. I say that because America, since the time of John Winthrop, has never been a strip of dirt, or a bunch of people; it has been an idea. Steven Hayward on the Powerline Blog spoke of this yesterday, and I think it to be very important, as well.

Here’s GKC’s comment:

It may have seemed something less than a compliment to compare the American Constitution to the Spanish Inquisition. But oddly enough, it does involve a truth, and still more oddly perhaps, it does involve a compliment. The American Constitution does resemble the Spanish Inquisition in this: that it is founded on a creed. America is the only nation in the world that is founded on creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence; perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature. It enunciates that all men are equal in their claim to justice, that governments exist to give them that justice, and that their authority is for that reason just. It certainly does condemn anarchism, and it does also by inference condemn atheism, since it clearly names the Creator as the ultimate authority from whom these equal rights are derived. Nobody expects a modern political system to proceed logically in the application of such dogmas, and in the matter of God and Government it is naturally God whose claim is taken more lightly. The point is that there is a creed, if not about divine, at least about human things.

Via Chesterton on “The American Creed” | Power Line.

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