England Expects …

It was two hundred and fifteen years ago today that  Admiral Lord Nelson defeated the combined French and Spanish fleets off Trafalgar. This is one of those victories that in the modern age we seem to think was pre-ordained. It wasn’t. I’m told that it is barely celebrated in England, that’s very silly. This is a victory that did as much to make the world we live in as Salamis, Lepanto, or the Armada.  That’s sad. I can only attribute that to too many of our people coming to believe that our influence on the world has been an evil one. That is not only wrong, and perhaps evil in itself, but diametrically opposed to the truth.

Sir Walter Raleigh, in A Discourse of the Invention of Ships, Anchors, Compass, &c., said this:

For whosoever commands the sea commands the trade; whosoever commands the trade of the world commands the riches of the world, and consequently the world itself.

This was also quoted by Fleet Admiral Nimitz, on his retirement. It was true for the Elizabethans, it was true in Nelson’s time, it is true now, it will always be true. But the Anglo-Saxon powers have always been more interested in trade than pure control of the world and its people. Alfred Thayer McMahon, in The Influence of Sea Power upon History, says this with regard to the British fleet:  “Those distant, storm-tossed ships, never seen by the Grande Armee, were all that stood between it and world domination.” And that is so. Our francophile president, Thomas Jefferson wrote that if Napoleon took possession of Louisiana and attempted to move an army there, “on that day we shall have to marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation”. Nor was he kidding, control of New Orleans would have (and had under the Spanish) stifled the growth of not only the Old Southwest, but also the Old Northwest, it was simply something that America could not allow, and survive.

Nor did it end there. We haven’t forgotten that during our Civil War, the French attempted to impose a Hapsburg emperor on Mexico, or that it was only thwarted in 1865, when fifty thousand battle-hardened Union troops assembled in Texas, leading to the French Foreign Legion’s most famous defeat. But we also recognize that one of the reasons that we developed as we did is that the Royal Navy was the guarantor of the Monroe Doctrine. That allowed the new world to develop at its own speed and in its own way.

We should also mention that the end of chattel slavery in the west was primarily done by the Royal Navy, which encouraged industriousness amongst its people by paying prize money for captured slavers, and the return of their cargos. Slavery ended with the deaths of a half-million white Americans, but they and the Royal Navy were both following the precepts first proposed around the time of the Revolution–in East Anglia.

Nor do I think there is any question that India, is far better off today than it was in the days before the Raj. Gandhi himself once said that his nonviolent tactics would not have worked against a less moral people than the British, and in fact, Dr. Martin Luther King said the same thing about the civil rights struggle here.

And so we come to the twentieth century, to 1941 specifically. Off Newfoundland, two convoys of warships met. One carried the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill on HMS Prince of Wales. the other carried the President of the United States, Franklin Roosevelt, on the USS Augusta. This is the time when the guard of the English speaking peoples changed from England to America. Fittingly it happened during Church Parade on the Prince of Wales. Churchill said this about it:

The prime minister reported that no one who attended would forget “that sunlit morning on the crowded quarterdeck—the symbol of the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes draped side by side on the pulpit,” and “the close-packed ranks of British and American sailors, completely intermingled, sharing the same books and joining fervently in the prayers and hymns familiar to both.” Churchill had chosen the hymns—“For Those In Peril On the Sea;” “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” and “O God, Our Help in Ages Past.” He said later, “Every word seemed to stir the heart. It was a great hour to live. Nearly half of those who sang were soon to die.” HMSPrince of Wales was sunk by Japanese aircraft off Malaya on December 10, 1941.

Here was mapped the grand strategy that would allow the cousins, for that, is what we were, and are, to free the world from the menace of Nazi Germany, and Imperial Japan. But here’s the point: On that day in 1941, only seventy-nine years ago, if you were free to speak your mind, you spoke English as your native language. All the rest of the world owes their very freedom to those distant storm-tossed ships, that won one of the world’s greatest victories, for England, and for the world.

And so, for two hundred and fourteen years now, the Royal Navy has drunk one toast in silence, and all free peoples should join them.

I give you, Gentlemen (and Ladies):

“The immortal memory,

of Nelson and those who fell with him”

 

It’s true now, as it has always been, We sleep safe in our beds because of rough men (and now women) who are prepared to do violence on our behalf.

A Plea

Excuse me for stating the obvious – we’re losing. We’re losing the important things, the things that we’ve always held deep in our hearts. Civility, manners, traditions, all the things that make America – and Americans.

There’s something else we’re losing. It’s grievous. It’s lamentable. It’s just plain sad. It has become something wistful, some lovely lacey memory of what was.

Flowers. Yes. Flowers. There’s a whole tradition of flowers on Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and for funerals. They are predictable and virtually mandatory and have a certain ‘ho-hum’-ness to them. But your lady love, your significant other, your big (or little) sister, that favorite aunt, the little old lady that lives next door all alone. Think for just a moment – these people are important to your life and in your life. Shouldn’t they get flowers for no particular reason other than you love them and you think of them every day?

I have rediscovered the joy of jigsaw puzzles. I find that of the wide selection of ‘scenes’ to put together, I’m drawn to the ones with flowers. This has been such a terrible year – misery of one kind or another wherever we look. A lot of people are scared or depressed, or afraid of the future or any combination thereof. But there’s something very earthy, very calming about flowers. I would even say there’s something permanent about flowers – yes, they die but there’s always the assurance that they will come back again next spring, summer, autumn. They are bright, fresh, a statement of lasting beauty in the world. There are things that are untouched by politics or hatred or illness and flowers represent that. Life is beautiful. We forget that. God would not have created the range of colors, shapes, textures, fragrances, sizes because He had nothing to do one day. He created them to give us joy in simple things.

St. Matthews Gospel, chapter six, verses 25-29 “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Ever seen a field of wildflowers? Texas bluebells? It stops you in your tracks and you take five minutes out of your busy day and just gaze on it. It’s miraculous. It’s stunning. It’s humbling.

My husband has bought me flowers once in 24 years. He says they’re too expensive and then they die. What he doesn’t know – what YOU don’t know – is what it means to women. When the doorbell sounds or the knocker has clapped, she goes to the door and there’s a floral bouquet. She never even notices the delivery person – all she sees is the flowers. She closes the door and carries the flowers like they are crystal and diamonds. She looks around to determine the best setting to place them (she doesn’t ‘put’ them, she ‘places’ them – there’s a big difference). She has to find ‘the’ place for them – they have to be where she can easily see them from throughout the house but it also has to be a place where anyone coming into the house will notice them. Because she wants the world to know that someone loved her so much, they sent her flowers. What you don’t know is she’s suddenly twenty again and the world is before her and even if it’s pouring rain, in her heart and in her mind she’s in a place of love and light and beauty. For this moment in time, she’s lifted up.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what flower she likes. We like all of them. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what her favorite color is; there are so many colors that there’s bound to be a ‘special’ color in the arrangement that you never even guessed at.

What do YOU get from your financial investment? Shining eyes. Joyful surprise, a different kind of kiss. You get to overhear her tell her friends, “No! No reason! They’re beautiful!” What you ‘lost’ in dollars you can bank in your heart – you showed appreciation for all she does and for the lengths she would go to because she loves you and I’m not up on the exchange rate but I suspect that’s worth about a thousand times whatever the dollar amount was.

Here is my plea – it takes so little time. It is so easy to do online. Send her flowers. Just on account of because.

 

In 1492, Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue

Arms of the Portuguese Prince Henry, the Navig...

Image via Wikipedia

Another Columbus Day has come. And again we celebrate the (re)discovery of the New World. And look what has been erected on that discovery! If you didn’t know; Columbus was a student of Prince Henry the Navigator’s school.

Those students made almost all of the voyages of discovery from the Iberian Peninsula. By the way, Prince Henry of  Portugal was the Grandson of John of Gaunt, time-honored Lancaster. The English always make it into these stories of the sea, don’t they?

So we know that Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. But why? His crews were afraid of starving or falling off the edge of the world. His ships were ridiculously small. What exactly was the point? Nobody in Portugal had even heard of Brazil, nor were they all that enthused about an overseas empire. So, why?

Trade, that’s why. Everybody knew where India and China were (at least all the cool cats that knew the world was round). They had since Marco Polo made that remarkable trip, if not before. They liked the silk and other good things that came from China. But there was a problem.

You see there were pirates in the Mediterranean, then one had to get through the totalitarian Ottoman Empire, the Safavid Persians, and various and sundry other Islamic States. If you remember Spain had just managed to reconquer Spain from the Moslems and just plain didn’t want anything to do with them. So they decided to take a shortcut and sail west to go east. Yeah, their calculations were off a bit about the size of the world, but that’s why.

Now let’s think about this a little, Spain went way out of its way to avoid the clowns and founded both the New World and New Spain in the process: and got themselves into a shooting war with England that would eventually cost them their world power status. See A Cloud Smaller Than a Fist.

A few hundred years later, the United States won its Independence from Great Britain. The United States’ very first war was a regime change in Tripoli. There are still Islamic pirates, they still hold slaves and all in all they are still living in the 7th Century. And still today, Iran threatens war on Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. Some things never change.

Only now with their oil wealth, instead of modernizing and improving their people’s lives and such, they seem intent on conquering the world and seem to believe the world will use its modernity to help

They have found some fellow travelers, who had best hope they lose because they aren’t going to enjoy winning for long. Ask the survivors of the Kingdom of the Visigoths in about 1000 AD.

So there you have it. The cause of Columbus sailing the Ocean Blue.

In Other News:

  • General Robert Edward Lee, the commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, dies peacefully at his home in Lexington, Virginia. He was 63 years old.

Lee was born to Henry Lee (Light Horse Harry) and Ann Carter Lee at Stratford Hall, Virginia, in 1807. His father served in the American Revolution under George Washington and was later a governor of Virginia. Robert Lee attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and graduated second in his class in 1829. He did not earn a single demerit during his four years at the academy. Afterward, Lee embarked on a military career, eventually fighting in the Mexican War (1846-48) and later serving as the superintendent of West Point.

  • On the morning of October 12, 1915, the 49-year-old British nurse Edith Cavell was executed by a German firing squad in Brussels, Belgium.

Before World War I began in 1914, Cavell served for a number of years as the matron of a nurse’s training school in Brussels. After the city was captured and occupied by the Germans in the first month of the war, Cavell chose to remain at her post, tending to German soldiers and Belgians alike. In August 1915, German authorities arrested her and accused her of helping British and French prisoners-of-war, as well as Belgians hoping to serve with the Allied armies, to escape Belgium for neutral Holland. As I wrote on the centenary of her execution, here, there was no doubt at all of her guilt. And you can watch (no sound BTW) the procession for her state funeral at Norwich Cathedral in 1919 here.

  • On this day in 1776, British Generals Henry Clinton and William Howe lead a force of 4,000 troops aboard some 90 flat-boats up New York’s East River toward Throg’s Neck, a peninsula in Westchester County, in an effort to encircle General George Washington and the Patriot force stationed at Harlem Heights.

This was the largest British amphibious attack before Normandy.

After hearing of the British landing at Throg’s Neck, Washington ordered a contingent of troops from the Pennsylvania regiment to destroy the bridge leading from the peninsula to the Westchester mainland. The destruction of the bridge stranded Clinton and his men at Throg’s Neck for six days before they were loaded back onto their vessels and continued up the East River toward Pell Point.

  • On this day in 1946, Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell, the man who commanded the U.S. and Chinese Nationalist resistance to Japanese incursions into China and Burma, dies today at age 63.

All courtesy of This Day In History.

Women

Not my favorite topic and not my favorite people. Yes, I know – I’m a woman. It’s because I am that I see ‘women’ so clearly. Add to that the fact that I’m a ‘woman of a certain age’, and I see even more clearly.

I was just having an email conversation with a dear gentleman friend in England who finds the friends of his girlfriend less than pleasant. I was not surprised. Women today are different than women of yesterday. They are harder, more demanding, hypercritical, less charming, less feminine, less interested in improving their minds than in fake nails, exotic eyelashes, and pouty lips. They get their ‘facts’ from the Lifetime channel on television. Or watch the Hallmark channel certain their prince is coming; of course, if he shows up, he’d better be prepared to do the cooking, cleaning, and laundry because today’s women have no time for that sort of thing.

This is what I wrote to my English friend: You know I’m not a big fan of women – the women I know I hold dear to my heart because there’s something about them that has been fading from women. It’s more than spirit, it’s a ‘something’ that says they can hold their own and don’t need help but that life is better with a special man in their corner. A smartness that isn’t ‘smart ass-ness’. An intelligence that glows the face and not a sharp light from the eyes, if you know what I mean. A dignity and self-awareness. Maybe it’s the dignity I’m drawn to. I don’t know; but I know I’d give every dollar I’ve ever had or ever will have to have as friends Margaret and Alys and a couple of women who have ‘gone home’. Real women are very special indeed. I love them, I need them, I appreciate them, and I thank God for them.

We all live, grow, change; there’s some hope for them. If 40 years old is young, then I have to accept that they will mature into sensible people but I’m not seeing that exactly. But one must always have hope. When the ‘victimhood is fun’ fad fades, maybe they will settle down and grow some ‘hobbit’ sense, as Tolkien said.

Women – can’t live with ’em, can’t wait for ’em to grow up.

Eternal Lessons from History

It’s funny, somebody posts something interesting somewhere more or less out of the blue, and then others completely unrelated show up with something that builds on the first one. So it is here.

Our friend (and co-contributor at AATW) wrote on Sunday that modern history begins in the Peloponnesian War, as it does, saying this:

I am not the most conservative author here, but, unlike many others, in history I am so conservative as to consider that modernity begins with the classical period of Greece, particularly the aftermath of the Peloponnesian War. Although for much of history the rate of change has generally been very slow, especially compared with recent years, and although the cultures we see in the New Testament are, in many respects, far removed from our own, the New Testament has an immediacy about it that comes from its proximity to us on various basic levels.

The same is not necessarily true of the Old Testament, which reveals Bronze Age culture to us (and then goes into the Iron Age). This is a very different world and we have to work hard with ancient complementary sources to really understand it. This Bronze Age world is weird and exotic to our modern eyes.

He’s correct, of course. The Lutheran Study Bible specifies that the Books of History in the Old Testament are those from Josua to Esther. Esther is usually considered to be set in the reign of Xerxes I who ruled from  486 to 465 BC, so predating the Peloponnesian War. So it’s a fairly short break, but a decisive one.

So, I’m reading my way around the net this morning and what shows up from Michael McManus writing at The Conservative Woman but a quote from Thucydides, the historian of, and a victim himself, of that war from Book 3 of his history in paragraphs 82-85, edited by the link’s author:

‘The sufferings which the war inflicted upon the cities were many and terrible, such as have occurred and always will occur, human nature being what it is. War is a rough teacher. Words changed their meanings to accommodate the changed situation. Callous aggression came to be regarded as courage; prudence became weakness; moderation became timidity; willingness to consider evidence and look at all sides of a question became nervousness; fanatical thuggery and treachery became righteous actions. The ideological extremist was trusted while those who urged restraint became the enemy. If someone made a reasonable suggestion, his opponents sought to cover it up or distort its meaning.

‘Ambition, greed and the craving for power caused these evils and intensified the violence. Those in contention were full of fine words and noble expressions: some spoke of equality and political liberty for the people; others spoke of the safety, stability and trustworthiness of sound aristocratic government. Both sides stopped at nothing to get their way. No one wanted to listen to reason but sought fine arguments to justify vile deeds. Meanwhile, ordinary, sensible citizens were trapped between the two: even their quietness was taken as evidence of guilt.

‘The character of the Greeks went from bad to worse. The simple life of honour and decency was laughed at and society divided into hostile camps whose promises were no longer trusted. The less intelligent prospered: knowing their weaknesses and expecting to be defeated in debate they resorted to intimidation and violence. The more intelligent, foolishly confident that reason and evidence would prevail, were caught off-guard and vanquished. Those who were envious of their neighbours engaged in savage and pitiless actions. No longer restrained by convention and law, human nature showed itself to be ungovernable in its passionate disregard for justice, and its hatred of anything superior to itself.’

I think he’d feel right at home in our countries in 2020, don’t you?

And that is kind of the point, while the Old Testament feels exotic to us, we see the same motives there that Thucydides wrote about in ancient Greece, that the American Founders sought to guard against in our founding documents – now endangered, and that we see forthrightly in our governments and on our streets today. We somewhat facilely say that our founder’s sought to guard against Original Sin, well we are not wrong, for that is human nature, sometimes achieving amazing feats and goodness approaching the angels, and sometimes veritable ogres, destroying wantonly and with no less amazing cruelty.

And that is the genius of the English speaking people and especially the United States, to set the bad sides of our nature against our opponents’ bad sides to achieve lasting freedom. We need to guard our heritage fiercely.

The UK Report

In the Salisbury Review, Peter Mullen has some comments about the UK education establishment, they’re worth our time on either side of the pond.

For far too long our wonderful young people have been the victims of scandalous prejudice on the part of the educational establishment which inexplicably favours students who are intelligent, knowledgeable and industrious. This reactionary policy constantly discriminates against those of our wonderful young people who are ignorant, idle and thick. I have been gathering first-hand testimonies from some of these casualties: those vulnerable oiks and morons who, through no fault of their own, are being denied the opportunity to spend three years hanging around getting innocently pissed and stoned as a prelude to their achieving a pretty piece of parchment and years of debt. […]

But the rot starts even before our wonderful young people even leave school where they are obliged to do maths. Orion was hopping mad because he had been awarded a D. “So I mean like absolutely I said 7+ 5 = 41. An’ d’you know what they sed? They sed it’s 12. Well, it’s like it might be 12 for some people but uvvers cum from a community wot ‘as a different culture like and they ‘as their own like ideas dunt they?”

Orion’s teacher shared his disappointment: “The rigid system is class-based, sexist and racist. Underprivileged and vulnerable wonderful young people are being denied self-expression and their human right to say that 7 + 5 = whatever they say it is in their community and ethnic group. Cultural relativism. Know what I mean?” […]

Clotho was sitting next to her friend Vyella straight out of the RE [Religous Education, admin] exam: “It was horrible and my sister Ammonia was like well I’m gone, Clotho. I mean Ammonia’s a neo-vegan Zoroastrian with only slight cannibalistic tendencies. Then we got all this about God saying there’s stuff we shouldn’t do, commandments and that. Why is God so judgemental? And so up Himself with this like no other gods but me. Has He never like heard of diversity? He’s probably a She anyway. So Sexist. Incredible

STOP PRESS The Education Secretary has been put in detention.

Do read it all. If he hasn’t he certainly should have been. I was chatting recently with a friend who is the CEO of an English Educational Trust. She tells me that Boris’s girlfriend needs to get a grip on him. She says the phrase she and her colleagues are using “Omnishambles”. Not a very good look for a first world country. Meanwhile, the Universities are trying to make some sense of it all, and not have to lay people off. Omnishambles, indeed!

But then thanks to our teacher’s unions, we are not doing all that much better.

This is more of a coming attraction than an actual report, but Spiked Online UK has done an interview with Joseph Bottum the author of An Anxious Age: The Post-Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of America. It too speaks of both our countries and is fascinating. But it will take an article of its own, perhaps more than one to clarify what he seems to be saying to me. A hint is in his use of the word ‘Elect’ instead of ‘Elite’. I think he makes a fair amount of sense.

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