Friday, September 20, 2002

The second son, Sir Henry Montagu (c. 1563-1642), was called to Parliament under James I. Perhaps his greatest achievement was to pay £20,000 to the Duke of Buckingham in 1620 for the office of Lord Treasurer of England, and in addition to be raised to the peerage as Baron Montagu of Kimbolton, Huntington, and Viscount Mandeville. It was at Kimbolton Castle that Catherine of Aragon spent her last ten years. Made Earl of Manchester in the country of Lancashire on the accession of Charles I, he was also a theologian and a drunkard.

Arthus Foss, The Dukes of Britain (133)

139. Who is Black Rod?

His full title is Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, and he ranks high among the officials of the Court, coming under the Lord Chamberlain. His name or title comes from the ebony stick he carries as a badge of his office and which is surmounted by a gold lion. His office dates from the foundation of the Order of the Garter in 1348, and he is the usher of that Order. He attends for the most part upon Parliament, and one of his chief duties is to bear messages from the House of Lords to the House of Commons. When he goes ceremonially to the House of Commons, the door is always slammed in his face, and he must then knock and announce his errand. The reason for this is that once King Charles I went down to the House of Commons to arrest five members whom he regarded as obnoxious to him, and from that time no sovereign has entered the Commons.

L. G. Pine, Heraldry, Ancestry and Titles: Questions and Answers (108)

Thus all seemed well with the fortress of Maeglin, who had risen to be mighty among the princes of the Noldor, and greatest save one in the most renowned of their realms. Yet he did not reveal his heart; and though not all things went as he would he endured it in silence, hiding his mind so that few could read it, unless it were Idril Celebrindal. For from his first days in Gondolin he had borne a grief, ever worsening, that robbed him of all joy; he loved the beauty of Idril and desired her, without hope. The Eldar wedded not with kin so near, nor ever before had any desire to do so. And however that might be, Idril loved Maeglin not at all; and knowing his thought of her she loved him the less. For it seemed to her a thing strange and crooked in him, as indeed the Eldar ever since have deemed it: an evil fruit of the Kinslaying, whereby the shadow of the curse of Mandos fell upon the last hope of the Noldor. But as the years passed still Maeglin watched Idril, and waited, and his loved turned to darkness in his heart. And he sought the more to have his will in other matters, shirking no toil or burden, if he might thereby have power.

J. R. R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion (166)

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Wriothesly (1708-32), who succeeded his father as 3rd Duke when three years old, revealed a weak, unstable character. His marriage when seventeen to Anne Egerton, a granddaughter of Sarah, 1st Duchess of Marlborough, was a disaster. Frustrated and bored, he took to drink and gambling, which not only caused his death when twenty-four, but also seriously encumbered his estate. He was succeeded as 4th Duke by his brother John (1710-71), who had married Lady Diana Spencer, daughter of Anne Churchill and the Earl of Sunderland, another granddaughter of the formidable Duchess of Marlborough, who thought him ‘much the greatest match in England’. Lady Diana died in 1735. Two years later John married Gertrude Leveson-Gower, generally regarded as proud and insolent, and the union was a great success.

Arthus Foss, The Dukes of Britain (56)
Now as has been told the power of Elwë and Melian increased in Middle-earth, and all the Elves of Beleriand, from the mariners of Círdan to the wandering hunters of the Blue Mountains beyond the River Gelion, owned Elwë as their lord; Elu Thingol he was called, King Greymantle, in the tongue of his people. They are called the Sindar, the Grey-elves of starlit Beleriand; and although they were Moriquendi, under the lordship of Thingol and the teachings of Melian they became the fairest and the most wise and skilful of all the elves of Middle-earth. And at the end of the first age of the Chaining of Melkor, when all the earth had peace and the glory of Valinor was at its noon, there came into the world Lúthien, the only child of Thingol and Melian. Though Middle-earth lay for the most part in the Sleep of Yavanna, in Beleriand under the power of Melian there was life and joy, and the bright stars shone as silver fires; and there in the forest of Neldoreth Lúthien was born, and the white flowers of niphredil came forth to greet her as stars from the earth.

J. R. R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion (103)

Monday, September 16, 2002

Grafton made a reliable officer and was popular with his crews, with whom he was capable of unbending. He showed courage under fire and in 1682, through parental influence, was appointed Vice-Admiral of England in succession to Prince Rupert. He gained his father’s warm affection and, on Charles’s death, the goodwill of his uncle James II, who regarded him as the most dependable of his nephews. He helped crush the Monmouth Rebellion and obtained the release of English prisoners from the Dey of Algiers. He then became colonel of the first regiment of Foot Guards. However, he increasingly mistrusted James’s determination to restore Roman Catholicism and, when William of Orange landed, followed the Duke of Marlborough into the latter’s camp. Although his relationship with the new king was at first cool, he soon won William’s respect through his bravery. He dies of wounds received when leading the English regiments against James II’s Irish supporters at the siege of Cork in 1690.

Arthus Foss, The Dukes of Britain (36)

Saturday, September 14, 2002

76. What is the oldest pedigree in England?

The longest documented pedigree now known in England is that of the Arden family. This is a pedigree blessed by the great scholar J. H. Round – himself always accounted a great iconoclast – and who says of the Arden family tree: ‘It had not only a clear descent from Aelfwine, Sheriff of Warwickshire in days before the Conquest, but even held, of the great possessions of which Domesday shows us its ancestor as lord, some manors which had been his before the Normans landed, at least as late as the days of Queen Elizabeth.’ This is high praise from so great a genealogist, and it enables the Arden family to rank as the only English pedigree with a certainty of going back before the Conquest. There are others which are almost equally certain but where no absolute documentary proof can be found. These include the Berkeleys, (in Scotland Barclays) whose descent from Eadnoth the Staller is almost beyond cavil. Eadnoth was killed in some fighting near Bristol in 1068. He was called the Staller as being a chamberlain to Edward the Confessor and evidently he transferred his allegiance to the Conqueror. Then there is the great Scottish family of Swinton whose ancestor is considered to have been the Edulfing or ruler of the district between the Tyne and the Forth in the days of Alfred the Great. Like many English families who did not care for the rule of William the Conqueror they migrated northward and were welcomed by the Scottish kings. In addition to these we can add the name of Wilberforce, famous in connection with one of its members, William Wilberforce who led the anti-slavery movement in Great Britain. This family claims a descent from a hardy soldier who had the distinction of fighting both at Stamford Bridge and Hastings. When we have gone over this short list of four we have run over the families of England whose ancestry is pre-Conquest. The Ardens have a distinction even greater fame. They produced Mary Arden, the mother of William Shakspeare. It seems peculiarly appropriate that the greatest of English poets should have been born of a family of undoubted English pre-Conquest stock.

L. G. Pine, Heraldry, Ancestry and Titles: Questions and Answers (65-66)

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Now in his heart Melkor most hated the Eldar, both because they were fair and joyful and because in them he saw the reason for the arising of the Valar and his own downfall. Therefore all the more did he feign love for them and seek their friendship, and he offered them the service of his lore and labour in any great deed that they would do. The Vanyar indeed held him in suspicion, for they dwelt in the light of the Trees and were content; and to the Teleri he gave small heed, thinking them of little worth, tools too weak for his designs. But the Noldor took delight in the hidden knowledge that he could reveal to them; and some harkened to words that would have been better for them never to have heard. Melkor indeed declared afterward that Fëanor had learned much art from him in secret and had been instructed by him in the greatest of all his works; but he lied in his lust and his envy, for none of the Eldalië ever hated Melkor more than Fëanor, son of Finwë, who first named him Morgoth; and snared though he was in webs of Melkor’s malice against the Valar he held no converse with him and took no counsel from him. For Fëanor was driven by the fire of his own heart only; working ever swiftly and alone; and he asked the aid and sought the counsel of none that dwelt in Aman, great or small, save only for a little while of Nerdanel the wise, his wife.

J. R. R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion (71)

Saturday, September 07, 2002

However, Gandhi’s pacifism can be separated to some extent from his other teachings. Its motive was religious, but he claimed also for it that it was a definite technique, a method, capable of producing desired political results. Gandhi’s attitude was not that of most Western pacifists. Satyagraha, first evolved in South Africa, was a sort of non-violent warfare, a way of defeating the enemy without hurting him and without feeling or arousing hatred. It entailed such things as civil disobedience, strikes, lying down in front of railway trains, enduring police charges without running away and without hitting back, and the like. Gandhi objected to “passive resistance” as a translation of Satyagraha: in Gujarati, it seems, the words means “firmness in the truth.” In his early days Gandhi served as a stretcher-bearer on the British side in the Boer War, and he was prepared to do the same again in the war of 1914-1918. Even after he had completely abjured violence he was honest enough to see that in war it is usually necessary to take sides. He did not – indeed, since his whole political life centered round a struggle for national independence, he could not – take the sterile and dishonest line of pretending that in every war both sides are exactly the same and it makes no difference who wins. Nor did he, like most Western pacifists, specialize in avoiding awkward questions. In relation to the late war, one question that every pacifist had a clear obligation to answer was: “What about the Jews?” Are you prepared to see them exterminated? If not, how do you propose to save them without resorting to war?” I must say I have never heard, from any Western pacifist, an honest answer to that question, though I have heard plenty of evasions, usually of the “you’re another” type. But it so happens that Gandhi was asked a similar question in 1938 and that his answer is on record in Mr. Louis Fischer’s Gandhi and Stalin. According to Mr. Fischer, Gandhi’s view was that the German Jews ought to commit collective suicide, which “would have aroused the world and the people of Germany to Hitler’s violence.” After the war he justified himself: the Jews had been killed anyway, and might as well have died significantly. One has the impression that this attitude staggered even so warm an admirer as Mr. Fischer, but Gandhi was merely being honest. If you are not prepared to take life, you must often be prepared for lives to be lost in some other way. When, in 1942, he urged non-violent resistance against a Japanese invasion, he was ready to admit that it might cost several million deaths.

George Orwell, “Reflections on Gandhi,” in A Collection of Essays (183-84)
It seems at first glance that authority could not exist at all if all men were cowards or if no men were cowards, but flourishes as it does only because some men are cowards and some men are thieves. Actually, the inner dynamics of cowardice and submission on the one hand and of heroism and rebellion on the other are seldom consciously realized by either by the ruling class or the servile class. Submission is identified not with cowardice but with virtue, rebellion not with heroism but with evil. To the Roman slave-owners, Spartacus was not a hero and the obedient slaves were not cowards; Spartacus was a villain and the obedient slaves were virtuous. The obedient slaves believed this also. The obedient always think of themselves as virtuous rather than cowardly.

Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, The Illuminatus! Trilogy (794)

As I watched – choked by a sudden rise in the fishy odour after a short abatement – I saw a band of uncouth, crouching shapes loping and shambling in the same direction; and knew this must be the party guarding the Ipswich road, since that highway forms an extension of Eliot Street. Two of the figures I glimpsed were in voluminous robes, and one wore a peaked diadem which glistened whitely in the moonlight. The gait of this figure was so odd that it sent a chill through me – for it seemed to me the creature was almost hopping.

H. P. Lovecraft, “The Shadow over Innsmouth,” in The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories (322)

Friday, September 06, 2002

FIVE: The various codes which were presented to you at Crossgates – religious, social, moral and intellectual – contradicted one another if you worked out their implications. The central contradiction was between the tradition of nineteenth-century asceticism and the actually existing luxury and snobbery of pre-1914 age. On the one side were low-church Bible Christianity, sex puritanism, insistence on hard work, respect for academic distinction, disapproval of self-indulgence: on the other, contempt for “braininess” and worship of games, an almost neurotic dread of poverty, and, above all, the assumption not only that money and privilege are the things that matter, but that it is better to inherit them than to have to work for them. Broadly, you were bidden to be at once a Christian and a social success, which is impossible. At the time I did not perceive that the various ideals which were set before us cancelled out. I merely saw that they were all, or nearly all, unattainable, so far as I was concerned, since they all depended not only on what you did but on what you were.

George Orwell, "Such, Such Were the Joys…,” in A Collection of Essays (39)