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Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'

Commentaire serait superflu.

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Nous sommes tous Charlie Hebdo.

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Imagine a book. Imagine a book to which the contributors, to give a very brief and partial list, included GK Chesterton and Anatole France, Kipling, Arnold Bennett, AC Benson, Elgar and Debussy, the Aga Khan and Marie Corelli, Thomas Hardy, the painter Fildes and Edmond Rostand of Cyrano fame, Nansen of the Arctic, Mrs Pankhurst, former US president Taft, Arthur Rackham, Edith Wharton, Saint-Saëns, Mrs Humphry Ward, Baden-Powell, Marconi, Andrew Carnegie, Paderewski, that demmed elusive Baroness Orczy, and Rider Haggard. Along with Asquith, Grey, Balfour, Bonar Law, Redmond, Lloyd George, Admiral Jellicoe, Admiral Jacky Fisher, Kitchener, General Booth of the Salvation Army, Sarah Bernhardt, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Jack London, John Galsworthy, Monet, Flinders Petrie, James Montgomery Flagg, and Henri Bergson.

It couldn’t be done today: we haven’t the talent nowadays, and, if we had, we haven’t the unity of purpose to bring together in one cause people as unlikely and as politically and philosophically opposed as Taft, Kipling, London, Bergson, Israel Zangwill, Sidney Webb, the Chief Rabbi, Amir Ali, and the Cardinal Archbishops of Westminster, Paris, and Rheims. The nearest we come is some charidee single by a gaggle of popstars.

The book which I have asked that you imagine, existed: King Albert’s Book, dedicated in Christmas 1914 to Belgium, its monarch, and the Belgian people as they resisted the uniformed war-criminals – Dienst ist Dienst; I was only following orders – of the Wilhelmine Reich (which was, by their execution of the unlawful order to invade neutral Belgium, the neutrality of which Germany had guaranteed by treaty, every damned German in uniform, from the Kaiser down, and every man jack of them ought by rights to have been shot against a wall).

Let us pretend for a moment we could, in these thin and piping times, do something of the sort for those now similarly threatened and oppressed: in the Baltic states and Ukraine, in the Levant, in our own societies – Sydney, for example – wherever terror strikes and some fool excuses or palliates it, suggests a moral equivalence and whinges out a yes-it’s-terrible-but and a We Must Have Empathy; in Peshawar, the newest scene of horror; in Nigeria. Having made the effort which is so clearly beyond our reach, we should then sink back exhausted, assured we had done all we might do by Showing Concern and trending a hashtag.

Sod that for a game of pacifists.

In 1914, they knew better. A book to raise funds for relief was meet, right, and their bounden duty; but it was neither sufficient nor by any means the whole or even a noticeable portion of their duty. Their duty, confronted with the vile, base, and contemptible crimes of Germany, was to fight, and fight to win. (And four years on, wearied by the struggle, it was their folly, and a dereliction of their duty, to accept – over Pershing’s prophetic objections – an armistice rather than unconditional surrender and war crimes tribunals, leaving the whole damned thing to be done over again.)

We are incapable even of that nowadays. And weakness encourages jackals, gives heart to bullies and cowards (and all bullies are cowards at heart): from the savages of ISIL to their moral equivalents including VV Putin to Monis in Sydney to the God damned sodding Taliban, murdering schoolchildren lest a generation of thinking people should arise and reject all they stand for. That ‘talib’ means student is an irony which rises to the level of blasphemous absurdity). In that sense only: that our weakness and inattention and cowardice has allowed this sort of thing to go on: in that sense only, we also bear responsibility for the crimes we have permitted and failed to stop.

It is said that, at the end of his long life, FM the Right Hon. the duke of Wellington admitted to one regret: That he had not given more praise. Wellington was free to have that sole regret because he had, however laconically, done his whole duty, as we have not: he mayn’t have remembered to mention every worthy name in the despatches he wrote, but his despatches were notices of success, pursued to the full and resulting in complete victory over the enemy.

We are not Wellingtons. We are not, for that matter, Churchills and Kitcheners and Jellicoes.

We have failed: for the Taliban yet exist, and ISIL, and Putin has not been toppled, and they continue their depredations against all human decency, and have their apologists even amongst us, in, it sometimes seems, every … fifth column … appearing in the public prints.

We have done almost nothing to relieve the innocent. And for going on six years or more, we have done worse than to have done nothing in fighting the bastards, and winning, and seeking to win outright.

We have not killed enough people. And so they live to kill and oppress the innocent.

We have not killed enough of the enemy.

Let’s get cracking. The blood of Katrina Dawson and of Tori Johnson, the blood of Cpl Cirillo and WO Vincent, the blood of innocent schoolchildren in Peshawar, the blood of those aboard MH 17, the blood of all those murdered by ISIL, cries out.

We have not killed enough of the enemy, or toppled the regimes of the evil.

Squeamishness; cowardice: it doesn’t matter the reason. It is our moral duty to kill the enemy before the enemy murders more of the innocent; and we have failed of that duty. We have not killed enough.

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The RAR have ended the hostage situation in Sydney. All praise to them.

At the time of writing, the unconfirmed report is that an innocent, as well as the guilty sod Man Haron Monis, is dead. We will and shall remember.

Let us now pause to remember other Diggers, soldiers of HM the Queen of Australia, whose memories were abused and families tormented by the despicable little Islamist bastard now in Hell, the hostage-taker (why in buggery was he ever bailed?): including those of L/Cpl Jason Marks, 4th Battalion (Commando), The Royal Australian Regiment, and Pte Luke Worlsey, 4th Battalion (Commando), The Royal Australian Regiment.

Some five other Diggers’ memories were insulted and families abused by the execrable Monis; their names, not having figured in the little bastard’s conviction, are withheld.

Let us remember also Craig Senger, Austrade, murdered in Jakarta, whose family were similarly subjected to the poisonous pen of the despicable little shit Monis.

Monis shall rot. Ordinarily, we should wish he’d been captured so that he could be squeezed dry of any intelligence he possessed, but, as nowadays the West seems to believe it wicked even to shout at such contemptible wastes of carbon as this little shit, and, insisting on trying them as if for civil crimes, commonly then gives them slaps on the wrist, it’s likely best he was despatched straight to Hell.

He shall rot. Let him rot. As for his gallant victims, the honoured dead, and their families, we take only this in comfort:

When you go home
Tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow
We gave our today.

We shall remember them.

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This morning, the Baroness James of Holland Park OBE FRSL FRSA, late Lay Patron of the Prayer Book Society, late of the Home Office, died in the four-and-ninetieth year of her age. Which is to say that PD James died this morning, peacefully and of old age: one of the few causes of death not to be found in her detective novels. One of the great writers on death and murder, crime, sin, evil, detection, justice, and redemption, has now made, in sere age and without terror, one of the Church Triumphant.

Two days ago, in Australia, at the SCG, the Sheffield Shield match between South Australia and New South Wales – like all other matches in the tournament – was abandoned. On 63 not out, Phillip Hughes was facing the bowling of his friend and fellow International, Sean Abbott. They were the future of Oz cricket, these lads, Hughesy aged five-and-twenty, a scrapper, a bantam, and Abbott an all-rounder of two-and-twenty years. Abbott S bowled a bouncer, properly, fairly, and – in the state of play – inevitably. Hughesy was struck in the neck by the ball – unforeseeably – and, incredibly, collapsed, with a vertebral artery dissection leading to a subarachnoid cerebral hæmorrhage. On the green, Edenic pitch, that cultivated Arcady, that closed garden of Elysium where nor age nor death has place nor ever intervenes, and upon which the godlings in their whites live eternally, death came against all odds, freakish and beyond any expectation or possibility. This morning, after two days in hospital, Phil Hughes died – and his friend, his mate, Sean Abbott (for whom we must pray and whom we must support) was given over to an anguish none else has ever known.

It is incredible to us, these ironies gathered ’round, walking in the train of, that ancient enemy, the King of Terrors, Death.

Death itself is incredible, at the last: at once absurd and inexplicable. It comes as individual tragedy and as mind-numbing statistic, but never as anything save a surprise and an ambush, and the more so the more nearly it touches our own acquaintance – and just misses (for a time) ourselves.

There is but one response to it which makes sense. To recognise it for what it is; and to deny it its victory.

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

The First Epistle of Paul to the Church that was at Corinth, the Fifteenth Chapter, beginning at the fifty-first verse. Here endeth the Lesson.

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O merciful God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the resurrection and the life; in whom whosoever believeth shall live, though he die; and whosoever liveth, and believeth in him, shall not die eternally; who also hath taught us, by his holy Apostle Saint Paul, not to be sorry, as men without hope, for them that sleep in him: We meekly beseech thee, O Father, to raise us from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness; that, when we shall depart this life, we may rest in him, as our hope is this our brother doth; and that, at the general Resurrection in the last day, we may be found acceptable in thy sight; and receive that blessing, which thy well-beloved Son shall then pronounce to all that love and fear thee, saying, Come, ye blessed children of my Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world: Grant this, we beseech thee, O merciful Father, through Jesus Christ, our Mediator and Redeemer. Amen.

In piæ memoriæ Phillip Hughes, 1988 – 2014.

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Or words to that effect.

We are rejoiced to tell you that the Kindle version of Crafts and Assaults is now available.


The print version shall soon be available at Amazon, and is even now available directly from CS; B&N’s Nook and print versions are in process, and then of course all the other channels with it, Kobo, Apple, the Oyster and Scribd libraries.... Those wishing to access those formats now – epub and mobi and pdf and all sorts – may do so directly at Smashwords.

It’s less than a quid – in fact. £0.77 including VAT – and less than a buck – $0.99 – on Kindle because it’s simply a short, seasonal thing which, as you may elsewhere have seen us say, was written as nearly as possible as a gift for our loyal readers as they – I trust, you – await the imminent and more substantial fare of The Crisis 1914 and of the next Village Tales novel, Evensong. I may add for fans of the latter series that my short, ‘Will the circle be unbroken?’, in Crafts and Assaults, is indeed a Village Tale: after all, if dark deeds are afoot in a wood older than Stonehenge, who better to deal with them than Fr Paddick, Fr Campion, Mgr Folan, a mutinous and sceptical Edmond, and the duke of Taunton at his most peppery?

(Having said which, I have conceded, in our little wager, that, so far as I am concerned, Our Mr Pyle has won the ‘go to bed, to sleep – if you can –, with the lamps on’ palm for the subtle horror of his contribution, ‘The Destruction of Sennacherib’.)

And not to spoil anything, but – for the unchurched amongst you. Bless – the title of the collection is not randomly chosen … on several levels. And comes, of course, from the Litany.

From all evil and mischief; from sin; from the crafts and assaults of the devil; from thy wrath, and from everlasting damnation,
Good Lord, deliver us.

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And if they happen to be Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins, they sing a song written by one of the Carter dynasty and famously performed by a connexion of Prime Minister Addison’s.

So have The Dubliners performed it. And the Allman Brothers – joined by Natalie Cole, David Crosby, and one of the members of ZZ Top. And the Staple Singers; and the Mighty Clouds of Joy. And Richie Havens. And Mississippi John Hurt. And Pete Seeger. And Willie Nelson. And Old Crow Medicine Show. And, at a Gregg Allman tribute in January of this year, Keb’ Mo’, Taj Mahal, Dr John, Jackson Browne....

Mr Pyle makes the case that there is an alternate American anthem. Read the whole thing.

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Our being in the throes of 1914 meant that I heard no news yesterday and he heard the news only yesterday evening US time.

We are grieved and dismayed, and we condole with the families and regimental families of Cpl Cirillo and WO Vincent.

And damnation to the enemy.

Cpl Nathan Cirillo, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise’s Own).

Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, Joint Personnel Support Unit.

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And God help Jamie as he succeeds. (I hope he rings up Stoker for advice.)


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[The more things change... (Short fic)]

‘Well, that was appalling.’

‘Oh, come, Piggy: it’s not precisely the best of vintages, but think how far it’s travelled. I’d not drink the water, here; and as for the native brews....’

‘All right, Jolly, all right. A wearing life, this, by Jove.’

‘Don’t moan, old man. Worse than Old Fives, you are.’

‘I am not – and where is he, anyway?’

‘Behind you, Piggy. Hullo.’

They turned about, startled, and hastily stood.

‘Sir! You look a bit ruffled.’

‘We’ll all look a bit ruffled within the hour.’ The Old Man was grim: and Fives was not known for jollity at the best of times.

‘What –’

‘The tribes are up, is what’s up, before you ask. Turn out: we’ve an hour at best.’

‘Jove! Is this certain –’

Fives looked grim. ‘Did Old Baldy take this province in his day? As certain as that. Come on, you two.’

They clattered out behind him, joined by other officers stumbling in the twilight and the cold. Their men were already being shoved to their posts, and standing to.

‘All right, you scum and brigands!’ Fives had his own way of addressing the soldiery, and it seemed to work. ‘The little buggers are coming to die at your hands. Let’s oblige them. We are not going to be cut up like those poor bastards of the Ninth, up away. You’ll wait for my orders: then one volley, and duck down behind the fortifications, we didn’t build the things for sake of the architecture. I want a picked force of the Fifth before the wall: the little savages’ll keep coming, what are left of ’em after the volley from the breastwork, and it’ll be cold steel we give them.

‘You’re not doing this for the Empire. You’re not doing this for a step in rank – and dead men’s shoes to step into. You’re not doing this for a bonus or a decoration.

‘This isn’t some Greek epic.

‘You’re doing this because you signed on for it; because it’s your business. And because – you’re not doing it for love of me, I assure you: you’re doing it because you’ve a good deal more to fear from me than from the wee barbarian buggers.

‘So do it right, and well, and handsomely.’

The shout which greeted this raillery should have warmed the heart of any commander possessed of one. Fives remained unmoved.

They could see the glint of weapons on the hills, and the occasional silhouette of the disorganised barbarian files as they crossed the rough ground and were skylined on one or another ridge. Not a man dared pick one of those silhouettes off, even once the enemy were within range, without an order from Old Fives.

The enemy – ragged, fanatical, intoxicated by wild slogans and religious exaltation – were within range now, and coming closer; closer.... There was just light for men to mark them when Old Fives at last unleashed the withering volley. Before the few men in the barbarian ranks who could do, could respond in kind, Old Fives waved his men down behind the parapet.

The remaining barbarians made an attempt to dress their ranks in some sort of order – certainly nothing to compare with the parade-ground square-bashing of their opponents’ drill.

‘I wonder,’ whispered Piggy to Jolly: ‘are they yet head-hunters sometimes? When my grandfather was stationed out here....’

Jolly cut him off before Old Fives could do worse. The barbarian line was coming forwards now, with a wild ululation. Cold steel and unprotected flesh were to meet cold steel and body armour.

‘What you want to hope,’ said Fives, quietly, behind Jolly and Piggy, ‘is that your lads either live … or die outright. We’ll want to sortie if any of them are being taken away wounded: you know what the barbarians’ women do to the wounded, and captives. If there is a sortie, you two young gentlemen are to have the unenviable honour of leading the damned thing.’

The barbarians crashed into the regulars before the wall: and died in the expectation of a happy afterlife. As the survivors recoiled, Old Fives signalled, and the men on the parapets popped up and poured into them at close range, until they charged again if only to stop the volley by getting in amidst the stolid regulars.

Within a quarter hour, it was all over: until the next time, which might be at dawn or might be in half a year. Jolly was white with fury – he’d lost two of his lads – and Piggy slightly wounded by a stray barbarian shot from afar, and was now in the hands of the medico whose brief moments of sobriety fortunately coincided with crises.

Old Fives turned to the duty of making his report, addressed to the Governor-General, but likely enough to be read at the highest Imperial level.

a minor engagement between our garrison and a barbarian force. I append the losses in a separate document: these were minor. I must single out for special praise two officers whose conduct merits notice: Gauis Lartius Flavus, and Publius Porcius Laeca, who was slightly wounded in the action, but whose entire recovery is looked for.

It is likely, based upon recent intelligence, that the tribes which joined to launch the late attack are now engaged in mutual recriminations for its failure, and I anticipate some period of respite, although its length cannot, naturally, be predicted. One never knows with these little Britons, whose barbarism is extreme even by barbarian standards, and whose behaviour, here at the end of the Earth amidst the wastelands, is less predictable even than that of other savage tribes.

He paused in his dictation. ‘Right, wrap it up in the usual manner and I’ll sign it manu propria. I’ll be inspecting the sentries – find me when it’s done.’

And Quintus Veturius Philo, commanding at the sharp edge, went out into the cold of the night after his duty.

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God rest Debo.

It took old Redesdale seven tries – well, six and a half: Nancy had her good points – but he finally got it right. The only wholly decent Mitford of that generation, really.

She’ll be missed.

Today, adding:

And God rest and grant mercy to CJH Hogwood CBE. A sore loss.

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... and no declarations yet, I can now mention again the thing which has most stuck in my gullet over this damned Referendum. The issue of democratic legitimacy:

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[Why the Scottish Enlightenment failed in Scotland.]

I am writing this twelve hours prior to the expected declaration of the results of the Scottish Referendum. I have imposed political purdah on myself for this time, even to the extent of replying to comments on posts which were put up prior to polling day. What I am meditating here is principle: general considerations not specific to this vote.

I don’t of course know how the Referendum is to go. I have my suspicions and my hopes, but no knowledge. What I should like us to consider here is the long-standing question which has been raised in a more acute form in the past months: Why is it that, of all the more or less Anglosphere nations, the one which has least profited by and taken to heart the advantages of the Scottish Enlightenment, is Scotland?

I have repeatedly noted in my prior remarks on the proposed secession of Scotland that Scotland is, not the least populated, but the least populous of the four home nations. Its population density, according to the ONS, is eight-and-sixty souls to the square kilometre, just a touch over that of the next least populous home nation, Northern Ireland.

What this means on the ground is this. Scotland is home to extraordinarily vast estates, scattered crofts, comparatively few villages (by the standard of the other home nations, even Wales, even Norn), and a few cities and burghs which are compound of stark poverty, considerable riches, and less of a middle class than one should expect to find. Its politics: gerrymandering, tribalism, low-information voters, a secularised sectarianism, pervasive statism: reflect this, just as its politics in, say, 1886, with its entrenched Liberalism in the cities (Mr Gladstone after all was in that year Member for Midlothian, as Winston, in his Liberal incarnation, was to be from 1908 – 1922 Member for Dundee) and the entrenched Unionism, often Conservative, of its rural electors and its grandees, reflected its then demographics.

In fact, it is not too much to say that similar patterns in Wales and the North of England are associated with similar politics. The Lockean ideal is largely one of the Home Counties and the South of England, and of East Anglia and the Midlands to some extent. It begins to break down Westwards of the River Wylye, for the settlement patterns, agricultural arrangements, and landholding patterns of the West Country are rather different; it breaks down wholly North of the Rivers Trent and Mersey, and West of the River Wye if not indeed the River Severn. Scotland, certainly – with the farmer of the Mains of Balquhatsit being at a distance from his neighbours and the crofter of Glen Dour farther yet from his; with its linear or dispersed settlements in place of nucleated villages, the manse surrounded by a few cottages in Kirk o’ Gloum in place of the English parish with church and manor – is not a place of yeoman farmers and local squires, and the laird is no squire at all. England had its Enclosures; but it had nothing like the Clearances.

Kames and Monboddo, Smith, Robertson, and Millar, anticipated, as a prerequisite to political freedom, new economic freedoms: free men, free minds, and free markets: which should be signalled and measured by the growth of merkat touns and seaports; and they considered politics to rely upon the polis; civil society, civility, and indeed civilisation to rely upon the civitas; and democracy to rely upon a demos that was not the dregs of Romulus. For a time, they got it, and not in Scotland only: both inwith the Empire, whence the Scots minds they enlightened travelled and which these administered and built, and outwith it, as in Mr Jefferson’s America, which was much more the Rev’d Mr Witherspoon’s and the emigrant advocate Millar’s America than it was Jefferson’s. McCosh and Rush took to America, and found there fertile soil for the planting of, the Common Sense Realism of Ferguson, Dugald Stewart, and Reid. For a good part of the Nineteenth Century, there was a convergence of demotic political evolution between rural Scotland and the American frontier in the Wilderness, where every small hamlet had its debating society and the arrival of the mails and the newspapers caused all the folk to gather and read and hear read and debate what was in them.

Then these diverged. Partly it was owing to migration patterns. America has from the first been founded on a set of ideals, not blood or soil, and has recruited to itself in each generation those willing to dare and to migrate so as to share those ideals; and in so doing, has left many of the lands whence its immigrants have come, inhabited only by those too comfortably tied-in to the existing order to desire change and those too spiritless to do off their chains and strike out for a newer and freer world. The Scots had another path open to their bold spirits: the Empire did not so much paint the map red as it painted it – Canada and Australia, India and Africa – tartan. And too many clever Scots went rather to London than to Edinburgh or Glasgow, let alone Aberdeen or Dundee.

Fatally, the Act of Union preserved to Scotland its civil law traditions in place of the Common Law of England and Wales. America, as a Common Law jurisdiction (my American business partner, learned in the law, reminds me that one must always exclude Louisiana with its Code Napoleon from this statement), went England and Wales one better: for there, from independence onward, there was no Crown from which land was held, and fee simple title was as near to allodial as damn it. (The situation is very similar to that of udal title in Shetland and Orkney.)

It is only in the past decade that Scots law as to real and heritable property has been modernised, and feudal tenure abolished.

By that time, of course, the pattern was set. Even in England and Wales, tenure of land was too long burdened with outmoded concepts (it may be true that these have made it likelier in England and Wales than in America that there are preserved greenfield sites and common amenities, but it is equally true that public rather than private ownership in a free property market actually benefits the public less – owing to the ‘problem of the commons’ – than does the American approach); in Scotland, the result has been a society exceptionally fragile to economic shocks and dislocations, bereft of an independent smallholding class of any numbers or a market-oriented middle class, too often propertyless, and either scattered about the countryside and diluted as to their votes in any gerrymandered authority, or crammed into decaying cities given over to poverty and a culture of dependency. Of those who might have made a difference, they died at the Somme or Alamein, or gave over local duty to go to Westminster, or left for the other home nations, or departed for Perth, or Houston, or Elgin, or Aberdeen: that is, for Perth, Western Australia, or Perth, Ontario; Houston, Texas; Elgin, Illinois – or Nova Scotia; and Aberdeen in Washington or Maryland or South Dakota or South Africa or Saskatchewan.

The ugly things we have seen in the late campaign, particularly from the forces of secession, and the tragedy of Scottish politics for a good century now, are directly traceable to the social and demographic state of Scotland which has rendered it, for all its population, unpopulous, bereft of any middling shock-absorber between the urban proletariat, the payroll vote, and the scattered crofters and farmers and fishers: a land in which, owing to the settlement pattern which has emerged through a succession of accidents and misfortunes, cities and merkat burghs do not perform their functions of abrading tribalism, integrating groups, civilising manners, and broadening horizons, and in which at the same time there is not sufficient of a small-‘c’ conservative countryside interest to act as a brake upon the political irruptions of imperfectly socialised and bitterly impoverished urban tribalists.

One can but hope that the Common Sense Realism of the Scottish Enlightenment shall break through even this parlous history today and preserve Scotland from the disasters which shall attend disunion on the present plan – or lack of plan. Whether it does or no, however, I think we can see what drove the situation, and Scotland as a whole, to the precipice, and what must be amended and corrected if the values of the Enlightenment are finally to succeed in the land which birthed them. I don’t quite call for Forty Acres and a Cow, but something must be done, and without the intervention of the overweening, rent-seeking state and its dirty little Labour and SNP statists.

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Some nameless* Nat has objected** to my describing Scotland, with precision, as the least populous of the home nations, which it is, confusing that description, whether deliberately or not, with my having asserted that the Kinrick of Scots is the least populated of the four, which it is not.

Scotland, with a population density of eight-and-sixty souls to the km2 – that at least is what the ONS says – is just at half the population density of Northern Ireland. It oughtn’t to want a psephologist with a First in PPE to comprehend the consequences. I am perfectly willing to credit that a Hawick farmer or a Daviot publican understands the issues of the morrow better than a poor body living without hope in Govanhill, and that despite the problems of rural communication and rural broadband in much of Scotland. Yet it remains true that the parish is aye parochial, and civic involvement flourishes best in well-managed cities (which, I admit, are not a feature of modern Scotland since, oh, the Great War). And it is surely obvious also that a land in which the population pattern is largely of isolated crofts, distant mains, too few villages, and huge, decaying cities is almost destined to be gerrymandered (as indeed it has been) to hell – and to being a formula for the democratic deficit, tribal politics, low-information voters, secular sectarianism, and all the rest of the ugly things which the ‘Yes’ campaign has so unapologetically brought to the fore in the past few months. Demographics – including population density – is too often destiny. The civic instinct – and all civility – rests ultimately, as does civilisation, upon the civitas, as open and democratic politics requires a polis and a demos. That’s not easy when these have been wantonly destroyed – by Scots, home politicians, that parcel of rogues, not by Westminster – over generations. A country the population density of which has been atomised in this way is prey to terrible consequences.


* Typical. Like the midge, they’re aye venomous and vectors of disease.

** Over on Tumblr.

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Tomorrow, the die shall be cast. One of the four home nations, and that the least populous, shall decide the fate of all; a wee subset of British voters living in Scotland on an arbitrary date shall decide for all Scots in the UK whether their families are to be separated by an international frontier.

Never mind that there’s nothing Green about a Scotland depending on North Sea oil and wholesale fracking.

Never mind that such a Scotland should be in the red all the same, unable to afford its promised social paradise.

Never mind that there’s nothing nuclear-free in Nato membership, which depends ultimately on the nuclear deterrent no matter where the missiles are housed.

Never mind that if – if – the French, Belgians, Italians, and Spaniards allow an independent Scotland to join the EU, it must join the euro … and count, in Brussels’ counsels, on a par with Greece. (We’ve aye called Edinburgh ‘the Athens of the North’, but I don’t think that’s what we meant.)

Never mind that seceding from a democracy isn’t the way of Madiba, but that of Jefferson Davis and the American Confederacy.

Never mind, even, that in the centenary of the Great War and the seventy-fifth anniversary of the outbreak of the Hitler War, it is a shameful thing to break faith with the Jocks who fought, died, and triumphed side by side, sharing blood, with English, Irish, and Welsh regiments.

I ask only that this be remembered. There are some 800 thousand Scots, living elsewhere inwith the UK, who – arbitrarily – are deprived of a vote on Thursday, and may wake on Friday, without their assent, to the choice of exile from their native land or sojourning as foreigners in the place where marriage or public service or professional obligation has drawn them, Bath or Belfast, Cardiff or Carlisle.

Fairness and generosity are hallmarks of the Scots character and the Scots conscience. I ask my fellow Scots who are being allowed a vote to take tent of us. Do not take that irrevocable step. Act as trustees for the Scots who are not allowed to vote. Do not place an international frontier between us and our families. Do not require us to have a passport to come home, to put flowers on a mother’s grave or to be married in a grandfather’s kirk. Do not split, separate, sever, and sunder families without their consent or their being so much as consulted.

Consult your consciences. Act in the spirit of the Scots character. Exercise the Scots virtues, I implore you, for us who are to be left as orphans, unconsulted.

If you act according to the lights of conscience, and resile from an irrevocable step, I – with hundreds of thousands of your disfranchised countrymen – am not feared of the result.

Gang canny.

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My plea to my fellow Scots is here; a printable PDF version, here.

The ‘Shorter Catechism’ of it is here, and, PDFed and printable, here.

(Those who missed yesterday's 11 September remembrance may find it here.)

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Much has happened in the past thirteen years to blunt the sharper pangs of memory and – regrettably, in its way – to dull the outrage. New outrages have occurred. Other issues are clamant of attention, not least in the UK. And we do not know but that before this day’s sun sets, yet newer outrages shall mark it.

Yet we remember.

We must.

And we must keep faith with them.

We remember that on this day, a fine, mild one in New York, and over Pennsylvania, and on the Potomac, savage barbarians engaged in the mass murder of civilians, women and children amongst them.

Mr Pyle lost an acquaintance with whom he had been up at university, although not in the same year as he. Cdr Rob Schlegel USN died at his post at the Pentagon on 11 September 2001, and sleeps at Arlington.

Yet the murders, although they occurred in America, were directed at the civilised world as a whole; and it was not Americans only who were murdered.

The United Kingdom and its dependencies, the Commonwealth realms, and other member states of the Commonwealth, suffered losses also. Eleven of HM Australian subjects. Six Bangladeshis. Two Bermudans. Four-and-twenty subjects of HM as Queen of Canada. Two Ghanaians. Three Guyanese. Forty-one Indians. Sixteen Jamaicans. A Kenyan. Three Malaysians. Two New Zealanders. One Nigerian. Eight Pakistanis. Two South Africans. Fourteen from Trinidad and Tobago. And sixty-seven from the United Kingdom.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

For we have seen this much, on that day and in the weary years since, and we must not forget with the passing years: ‘This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless, by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.’

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If you’re in the UK, and not eligible to vote in the Scottish Referendum (a Cockney charlady hired away by an oil company to live and work in Aberdeen is eligible, for example; a member of Clan Wemyss who was born in Renfrewshire but happens to live in the West of England … isn’t. It’s all very odd and very convoluted), please consider joining me, and Dan Snow, and (as I post) almost nine thousand others, in reminding our Scots brethren – in many cases, our Scots great-aunts and cousins and in-laws and nephews – that we care, and wish them to stay part of our shared realm as they are part of our shared history and shared blood, our wider family. The Let’s Stay Together petition is here, awaiting only your signature.

PS: And wherever you are, you’ll have UK followers, as likely as not, so even if you’re not British, please consider reblogging this.

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On their Independence Day.

First, the people of the Colonies are descendants of Englishmen. England, Sir, is a nation which still, I hope, respects, and formerly adored, her freedom. The Colonists emigrated from you when this part of your character was most predominant; and they took this bias and direction the moment they parted from your hands. They are therefore not only devoted to liberty, but to liberty according to English ideas, and on English principles. Abstract liberty, like other mere abstractions, is not to be found. Liberty inheres in some sensible object; and every nation has formed to itself some favourite point, which by way of eminence becomes the criterion of their happiness.
It happened, you know, Sir, that the great contests for freedom in this country were from the earliest times chiefly upon the question of taxing. Most of the contests in the ancient commonwealths turned primarily on the right of election of magistrates; or on the balance among the several orders of the state. The question of money was not with them so immediate. But in England it was otherwise. On this point of taxes the ablest pens, and most eloquent tongues, have been exercised; the greatest spirits have acted and suffered. In order to give the fullest satisfaction concerning the importance of this point, it was not only necessary for those who in argument defended the excellence of the English Constitution to insist on this privilege of granting money as a dry point of fact, and to prove that the right had been acknowledged in ancient parchments and blind usages to reside in a certain body called a House of Commons. They went much farther; they attempted to prove, and they succeeded, that in theory it ought to be so, from the particular nature of a House of Commons as an immediate representative of the people, whether the old records had delivered this oracle or not. They took infinite pains to inculcate, as a fundamental principle, that in all monarchies the people must in effect themselves, mediately or immediately, possess the power of granting their own money, or no shadow of liberty can subsist.
The Colonies draw from you, as with their life-blood, these ideas and principles. Their love of liberty, as with you, fixed and attached on this specific point of taxing. Liberty might be safe, or might be endangered, in twenty other particulars, without their being much pleased or alarmed. Here they felt its pulse; and as they found that beat, they thought themselves sick or sound. I do not say whether they were right or wrong in applying your general arguments to their own case. It is not easy, indeed, to make a monopoly of theorems and corollaries. The fact is, that they did thus apply those general arguments; and your mode of governing them, whether through lenity or indolence, through wisdom or mistake, confirmed them in the imagination that they, as well as you, had an interest in these common principles.
They were further confirmed in this pleasing error by the form of their provincial legislative assemblies. Their governments are popular in an high degree; some are merely popular; in all, the popular representative is the most weighty; and this share of the people in their ordinary government never fails to inspire them with lofty sentiments, and with a strong aversion from whatever tends to deprive them of their chief importance.
…In other countries, the people, more simple, and of a less mercurial cast, judge of an ill principle in government only by an actual grievance; here they anticipate the evil, and judge of the pressure of the grievance by the badness of the principle. They augur misgovernment at a distance, and snuff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze.

Then, Sir, from these six capital sources – of descent, of form of government, of religion in the Northern Provinces, of manners in the Southern, of education, of the remoteness of situation from the first mover of government – from all these causes a fierce spirit of liberty has grown up. It has grown with the growth of the people in your Colonies, and increased with the increase of their wealth; a spirit that unhappily meeting with an exercise of power in England which, however lawful, is not reconcilable to any ideas of liberty, much less with theirs, has kindled this flame that is ready to consume us.
The temper and character which prevail in our Colonies are, I am afraid, unalterable by any human art. We cannot, I fear, falsify the pedigree of this fierce people, and persuade them that they are not sprung from a nation in whose veins the blood of freedom circulates. The language in which they would hear you tell them this tale would detect the imposition; your speech would betray you. An Englishman is the unfittest person on earth to argue another Englishman into slavery.
I do not know the method of drawing up an indictment against a whole people. I cannot insult and ridicule the feelings of millions of my fellow-creatures as Sir Edward Coke insulted one excellent individual (Sir Walter Raleigh) at the bar. I hope I am not ripe to pass sentence on the gravest public bodies, intrusted with magistracies of great authority and dignity, and charged with the safety of their fellow-citizens, upon the very same title that I am. I really think that, for wise men, this is not judicious; for sober men, not decent; for minds tinctured with humanity, not mild and merciful.
The march of the human mind is slow. Sir, it was not until after two hundred years discovered that, by an eternal law, providence had decreed vexation to violence, and poverty to rapine. Your ancestors did however at length open their eyes to the ill-husbandry of injustice. They found that the tyranny of a free people could of all tyrannies the least be endured, and that laws made against a whole nation were not the most effectual methods of securing its obedience.
But to men truly initiated and rightly taught, these ruling and master principles which, in the opinion of such men as I have mentioned, have no substantial existence, are in truth everything, and all in all. Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom; and a great empire and little minds go ill together.
– The Rt Hon. Edmund Burke MP

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From Pitt the Elder:

The colonists are the subjects of this kingdom, equally entitled with yourselves to all the natural rights of mankind and the peculiar privileges of Englishmen.... The Americans are the sons, not the bastards, of England. Taxation is no part of the governing or legislative power...When, therefore, in this House we give and grant, we give and grant what is our own. But in an American tax, what do we do? We, your Majesty's Commons for Great Britain, give and grant to your Majesty, – what? Our own property? – No! We give and grant to your Majesty, the property of your Majesty's Commons of America....
The distinction between legislation and taxation is essentially necessary to liberty....
I rejoice that America has resisted. Three millions of people so dead to all the feelings of liberty, as voluntarily to let themselves be made slaves, would have been fit instruments to make slaves of all the rest.... The gentleman asks, When were the colonies emancipated? I desire to know, When were they made slaves?

Resistance to your acts was necessary as it was just; and your vain declarations of the omnipotence of Parliament, and your imperious doctrines of the necessity of submission, will be found equally impotent to convince or to enslave your fellow-subjects in America, who feel tyranny, whether ambitioned by an individual part of the legislature, or the bodies who compose it, is equally intolerable to British subjects....
What, though you march form town to town, and from province to province; though you should be able to enforce a temporary and local submission, which I only suppose, not admit – how shall you be able to secure the obedience of the country you leave behind you in your progress, to grasp the dominion of eighteen hundred miles of continent, populous in numbers, possessing valour, liberty, and resistance? This resistance to your arbitrary system of taxation might have been foreseen: it was obvious, from the nature of things and of mankind; and, above all, from the Whiggish spirit flourishing in that country. The spirit which now resists your taxation in America, is the same which formerly opposed loans, benevolences, and ship-money, in England: the same spirit which called all England
on its legs, and by the Bill of Rights vindicated the English constitution: the same spirit which established the great, fundamental, essential maxim of your liberties, that no subject of England shall be taxed but by his own consent. This glorious spirit of Whiggism animates three millions in America; who prefer poverty with liberty to gilded chains and sordid affluence; and who will die in defence of their rights as men, as freemen.
You have ransacked every corner of Lower Saxony; but forty thousand German boors never can conquer ten times the number of British freemen. You may ravage – you cannot conquer; it is impossible: you cannot conquer the Americans. You talk, my Lords, of your friends among them to annihilate the Congress, and of your powerful forces to disperse their army: I might as well talk of driving them before me with this crutch! ...If you conquer them, what then? You cannot make them respect you; you cannot make them wear your cloth: you will plant an invincible hatred in their breasts against you. Coming from the stock they do, they can never respect you...
I know that the conquest of English America is an impossibility. You cannot, I venture to say it, you CANNOT conquer America....
As to conquest, therefore, my Lords, I repeat, it is impossible. You may swell every expense, and every effort, still more extravagantly; pile and accumulate every assistance you can buy or borrow; traffic and barter with every little pitiful German Prince, that sells and sends his subjects to the shambles of a foreign country; your efforts are for ever vain and impotent – doubly so from this mercenary aid on which you rely; for it irritates, to an incurable resentment, the minds of your enemies – to overrun them with the sordid sons of rapine and plunder; devoting them and their possessions to the rapacity of hireling cruelty! If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country, I never would lay down my arms, never! never! Never!
– Various remarks on divers occasions concerning America, Lord Chatham (the Elder Pitt)

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Mr. Pyle remembers this day particularly:

Omaha: Force ‘O’

116 RCT

Dog Green; Dog White; Dog Red; Easy Green; (Easy Red; Fox Green):

1/116 INF (116 RCT), 29th ID
  2/116 INF (116 RCT), 29th ID
  3/116 INF (116 RCT), 29th ID

The first wave.

29, Let’s Go.

Gunfire Bombardment Support Force C:

USS Texas (BB-35)
USS Arkansas (BB-35)
HMS Glasgow (C21)
Georges Leygues

USS Frankford (DD-497)
McCook (DD-496)
Carmick (DD-493)
Doyle (DD-494)
Emmons (DD-457)
Baldwin (DD-624)
Harding (DD-625)
Satterlee (DD-626)
Thompson (DD-627)
HMS Tanatside (L69)
HMS Talybont (L18)
HMS Melbreak (L73)

LCT Flotilla 18.

Mr Wemyss specially honours this day:

The East Yorkshires; the Green Howards; the Durham Light Infantry; the Dorsets; the Hampshire Tigers; the Devonshire Regt; the RAC; the Cheshire Regt; the Sappers; the Gunners; the Hussars; the South Wales Borderers; the Glosters; the Essex Regt; the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards; the 24th Lancers; the Sherwood Rangers (Nottinghamshire Yeomanry); the KRRC; No. 47 (RM) Commando; 1 RM AS Regt; the Hertfordshire Guards; the Border Regt;

The Suffolk Regt; the Excellers; the Lincolnshires; the KOSB; the Royal Ulster Rifles; the Royal Warwickshire Regt; the Royal Norfolk Regt; the KSLI; the Die-hards; the 13th/18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary’s Own); the East Riding Yeomanry; the Staffordshire Yeomanry; 1 SSB; 4 SSB;

3d Canadian Infantry Division; 4 SSB (No. 48 (RM) Commando); the 22d Dragoons; 2 RM AS Regt; the ICR;

The Navy; the Royal Canadian Navy; the RAF.

Nos a Gulielmo victi victoris patriam liberavimus.

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

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Sir John Betjeman, whom God rest.

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