View Full Version : Knowledge of literature (?) anyone (?)

G&T ice n slice
21st Dec 2008, 19:06
Now, I know the answer is “google is your friend”, but I think it hates me, as if i put in something like : +imf +forecast, I usually get lots of hits for websites like "SexyRussianBabes dot com” (http://www.SexyRussianBabes.com”) (*1)

I have been trying to find out about 2 bits of literature:

first : I am trying to identify a poem where the final line of each section (stanza?) is "when the English begin to hate”. I have only heard it once, can’t think where or when.

The other is a very large-scale novel set in the WW2 Pacific theatre, naval operations, lots of seaborne landing, dive-bombers etc etc etc. A very slightly wierd theme is that the ship’s commander keeps ordering red ink from the quartermaster, who has to keep ordering more from base etc etc up the chain all the way back to mainland USA. (and has to be airfreighted to Australia, then chases by surface the progress of the fleet). Eventually said commander has enough red ink to dye the sails of his small yacht (smuggled on board on departure from San Diego).

Finally the only chance he has to actually sail (the yacht) is when his ship is anchored offshore bombarding the Japanese, the marines are storming the beaches & the Japanese are returning fire on the fleet.

And yes, “red sails in the sunset” is the commander’s favorite song

Any Ideas girls & boys ??



(*1) p.s. I made that up

21st Dec 2008, 19:42
"when the English begin to hate”

"The Beginnings, 1914-18", Rudyard Kipling.

"It was not suddenly bred,
It will not swiftly abate,
Through the chill years ahead,
When Time shall count from the date
That the English began to hate".

tony draper
21st Dec 2008, 19:56
Hmmm,A movie I recall where the Captain has a Yacht built was Away all Boats starring Geoff Chandler,(what ever happened to him?)perchance the movie was based on a book,most of them where then.

21st Dec 2008, 20:01
Tony Draper esq

Excellent film, based on the novel by Kenneth M Dodson.

21st Dec 2008, 20:25
Hmm. And I thought Lt. Commander Queeg, in the 'Caine Mutiny', was a nutter.

21st Dec 2008, 20:36

As I recall, the whole point of the film was that the character played by chandler had to unify his crew....they were a scurvy lot at the beginning of the film...even if it meant they hated him. After a kamikaze attack which took out the Chandler character, the crew worked brilliantly to keep the crippled ship afloat. It`s actually quite uplifting in a way.

21st Dec 2008, 20:48
"when the English begin to hate”

I believe the poem was written as a preliminary to Kipling's short story "Mary Postgate". Not that you ask, of course, so feel entirely free to ignore what follows below. Generally I admire Kipling, but not his work for World War I, that poem, nor that short story.

As for all great events there were many causes for World War I, but large
factors in Britain's involvement were indeed the French and the cosy links and secret staff understandings between their government and Sir Edward Grey. The evil men of history, such as Hitler, Goebbels, Himmler and Stalin often get full credit for their wickedness but some do not. To my mind Clemenceau was one of these. He was largely the author of World War II.

In the short story the heroine allows a injured downed German airman, pleading for help, to die at her leisure when she alone could easily bring help. This is because the boy for whom she was in effect nanny has himself recently died as a pilot u/t in the Royal Flying Corps, and because the German pilot had dropped bombs that killed a child in her English village.

Mind you, the good ladies of the household are all rather sorry that their boy died while still under training, before HE got the chance to kill some GERMANS, quite possibly children too. After all, Germans reproduce the same way as the English do. No matter.

How often we have read of German wickedness in setting about allied bomber pilots ("terror flyers") who had managed to crash-land or parachute harmed or unharmed into occupied lands during the war. Very undesirable, of course, but how would you feel if your Mum had been fried in Hamburg?

I see no difference between the cases. Perhaps to anticipate misunderstanding, I should state the obvious, that I am not criticising Bomber Command in World War II. In fact, I got my own flying training from officers most of whom had the DFC, many of whom had the DSO, one the VC, and several of whom wore "Pathfinder" wings. Heroes, every one.

I am talking about the job they had to do, not about how they did it. Kipling's own heart was broken by the death of his own only son the day before his 18th birthday (it may have been 19th, but I think not) as an officer in the Irish Guards. I am sorry about that too, but hundreds of thousands of mums and dads lost 17 and 18 year old sons through the propaganda of Kipling and many other successful popular authors of that time. He reaped a bitter harvest.

If you are interested enough to ask about the poem I think you should read it in full, and read "Mary Postgate" too. The full text of "Mary Postgate" is available on Google.

21st Dec 2008, 21:16
Loki character played by chandler

I think, perhaps, you're a little confused. Lt. Commander Queeg was played by Humphrey Bogart.
Mr Draper mentions Chandler in his post re' 'Away All Boats'

G&T ice n slice
21st Dec 2008, 21:22
Thanks Davaar,
I shall dive into Michael Moon's antiquarian bookshop & look through his Kipling collection.

I'm not sure about your comments regarding his WW1 stuff, I am not really very au fait with much of his output.


21st Dec 2008, 21:22

I think we`re at cross porpoises here....I thought you were comparing Queeg/ Caine Mutiny with "Away All Boats"

Yes, Queeg was a nutter (great book and film). The captain played by chandler very definitely wasn`t.

I can think of another film along similar lines; "Mr Roberts" (?), where I think James Cagney played an unbalanced captain, with, I think, Henry Fonda as his long suffering exec. and Jack Lemmon playing a junior officer.

tony draper
21st Dec 2008, 22:24
Yer I gave some thought to that movie also,I knew it was Mr summat but for the life of me I could not think of the Roberts bit.:uhoh:
One's memory is not what it was.

21st Dec 2008, 22:24

Your feelings regarding Kipling's "propaganda" about WW1 are shared by many nowadays, and his brand of super-patriotism is regarded as faintly embarrassing. I don't know whether his books had a particular influence on young men to the extent of leading them to enlist, I would have thought that the atmosphere of the time, albeit rather jingoistic, tended to induce a strong sense of duty and obligation. My maternal grandfather was drawn to volunteer in the early years of that ghastly war, before conscription was necessary, and did not survive. I never knew him, all I have is a sepia photograph of him in his East Kent Regiment uniform looking at the camera with a rather forlorn air, trying to look stern and fearsome. I doubt whether he ever read any of Kipling's works, he was a humble working man with a family to support, yet he felt he had to "take the King's shilling".

You are right that Kipling reaped a bitter harvest by losing his son, but not quite for the reason you seem to suggest. I understand that his son had very poor eyesight, and was not medically fit for service in the guards, but Kipling used his fame and contacts to wangle his myopic son into a crack regiment, where he became a tragically early casualty. Kipling is said to have been a broken man after this.

tony draper
21st Dec 2008, 22:36
Kipling is a national treasure and as fine a wordsmith as ever put quill to paper but of late he has become persona non grata in the eyes of the fluffists so banished from the schoolroom and Library shelf.
Kipling and his son were the subject of one of the rare decent TV drama we get now,"My Boy Jack" I believe it is to be repeated over the Xmas period,worth a look.
I believe Kipling was among a legions of fathers who urged their sons to the insanity inFrance,and hated themselves for it for the rest of their lives.

21st Dec 2008, 23:11
I have been thinking. Hard to believe I know.

Did I start this "Google is your friend" thingy?

I think I did.

Looks up from an old Rupert the Bear annual.

tony draper
21st Dec 2008, 23:16
I'm afraid Google is doing for what used to be called general knowledge ie a head for of snippets what the pocket calculator has done for mental arithmetic.

21st Dec 2008, 23:34
Kipling is a national treasure and as fine a wordsmith as ever put quill to paper but of late he has become persona non grata in the eyes of the fluffists so banished from the schoolroom and Library shelf.

I agree. I have had the "Definitive Edition" of his verse right by my desk since I bought it almost fifty years ago.

I had rather thought that of late he was enjoying something of a popular recovery.

Now I move to a difference of opinion. My general admiration for him does not make me an uncritical admirer. I believe that Britain and no doubt others, but I am concerned with Britain, were grossly deceived by the High Command and the Government in World War I. I rather think the Government was held to ransom by the army. If the people at home had known what was goIng on in France there would have been a revolution.

[In fact that is why you cannot buy guns in Britain today. The government was so afraid of returning soldiers who knew how to handle arms they made firearm ownership illegal in the early twenties.]

I did not always think that way, but after fifty years of reading I do. Many of the people who were against the war at the beginning were regarded as cowards and vilified, just as at the beginning of World War ll they were called “appeasers”. I come to think in World War l they were right, and in World War ll they may have been right.

I am not a pacifist, not in the least, but I do not see myself going to war without good reason, and I see none for 1914.

For example, in my youth it was accepted in Britain that France had the right to Alsace, but now I say: Why? The population was largely German. In 1870 it was but a few decades since the French were trampling over all of Europe. And besides, what do I care, either way? And even if I do care, how much do I care? Not much, be sure of that. Enough to get my daughter or son, or even me, killed? Not a chance. Not a bloody chance. Let the Germans and the French have their civil war. As old Kaspar will say" "It was a famous victory".

In that story "Mary Postgate" a nice English lady of the middle class does an act of calculated ruthless cruelty, in morality though not in law murder, because ONE CHILD was killed in a wartime raid. She lets the German pilot die a lingering death when all she has to do is go get the doctor. And THIS is the peg on which Kipling hangs undying hatred of ONE WHOLE GREAT NATION for another? Chuck it, Rudyard.

I have read that his son had poor eyesight. He did not die because of poor eyesight but because he was at Loos at the wrong time in the wrong line of business. I too recently saw "My Boy Jack" on TV, and harrowing it was. I have known the poem for decades, of course. My reaction to the documentary differed from draper's. I thought it was a horrible film.

As a young man in India Kipling knew well about violent, organised, death, and wrote many poems about it, about the split-second balance between thousands of pounds of education and a jezail ball.

Nevertheless, as portrayed in "My Boy Jack" he made good and sure that Jack did go and did get shot to bits at Loos. What did he think would happen, if not to Jack then to thousands of others? He knew or, as the lawyers say, ought to have known, exactly what would happen, but not to him. To Jack. He knew or ought to have known exactly what would happen; and happen it did. Why the surprise?

My sympathies were wholly with Mrs Kipling, as portrayed, save that I should have found it not merely hard but impossible to forgive the man. I think I should have left him to wallow in his self-pity and regret. You’re sorry? You're sorry? Rudyard? You did it, Rudyard: you live with it!

The French have a proverb: “Tout comprendre, c’est tout pardonner” (To understand everything is to forgive everything”), to which some wise man once replied “Oh No! It’s not”.

John Marsh
22nd Dec 2008, 00:09
Davaar - Thank you for writing with insight and clarity. You offer more than did my secondary school History class.

Have you read the autobiography of Harry Patch? He speaks with great humanity and humility.


CarltonBrowne the FO
22nd Dec 2008, 03:06
Davaar, as always your posts are intelligent and thought-provoking. Please consider this a contradiction to the post, not to the poster...
I have read Mary Postgate; like you I did not enjoy it. Can I suggest, however, an alternative interpretation?
Re-read it as an account of how the most blameless among us can be brutalised beyond all expectation, by the loss of something precious. To me it is not a jingoistic tale, it is a horror story.
Of course, that may be just my own prejudices- I look forward to your comment.

22nd Dec 2008, 06:43
I think that trying to apply 2008 thought processes to WW1 and WW2 are impossible. They exist in their own time. Patriotism and jingoism are shades of the same attitudes and neither show up well in later years when 20/20 hindsight and extensive release of previously unknown knowledge when societies have changed.

Kipling wrote great poetry and literature, enjoy but don't try and bring him into the 21st century.

22nd Dec 2008, 09:38
On a 'lighter' Kipling note -

Ship me somewhere east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
Where there aint no Ten Commandments an’ a man can raise a thirst.

I can relate to that. :ok:

CarltonBrowne the FO
22nd Dec 2008, 12:41
The fact that Kipling was well aware of his part in his son's death is amply demonstrated by;
"If any question why we died/Tell them, because our fathers lied."
Having lost a daughter to pneumonia, he believed in the early stages of World War I that it was somehow less painful for parents of fallen soldiers, because their sons' deaths somehow had meaning. His later writing contains his realisation that no such comfort exists.
tarbaby, I do not know if you have read Mary Postgate. I am aware of the uncertainties inherent in trying to assess motive nearly a century later- however, enough of Kipling's writing shows subtlety enough to suggest he may have had motives and insights rather more timeless than he is given credit for.

Mac the Knife
22nd Dec 2008, 12:55
There's actually an even worse poem of Kipling's.

Little known, it is about the throat cancer which killed Kaiser Friedrich III, father of Kaiser Wilhelm of WW1 fame. In part it goes:

"There is a gland at the back of the jaw,
And an answering lump by the collarbone..."
....and so on for several revolting verses

Angus Wilson quotes it in full in his superb biography "The Strange Ride of Rudyard Kipling", but I don't have this to hand right now.

The story of Kaiser Friedrich's last illness is a fascinating one, involving a host of medical historical figures including the enigmatic English throat specialist Morell Mackenzie, half genius and half quack. There's a good account in Giles MacDonogh's "The Last Kaiser" even though it is more about Wilhelm than Friedrich.

See a preview at The Last Kaiser: The Life of Wilhelm II - Google Book Search (http://books.google.co.za/books?id=QHC0Sg81-HkC)


22nd Dec 2008, 14:09
I remember reading somewhere that 'young men love to fight and old men make it happen' or words to that effect.
Hence, probably, the rush to enlist in 1914. Few of the men who joined up and subsequently died really understood why or probably cared too much why. Going to war was exciting and manly and wasn't it ever thus?

cockney steve
22nd Dec 2008, 18:02
My happiest day as a schoolboy, was hearing on the radio that National Service had been abolished.
To the youngsters who think it's a glamorous life, I always say," remember, you are being paid to KILL or BE KILLED...except, the same tossers who are your superiors, will send you to your fate before themselves....and forget "queen and country"...It's corrupt, immoral politicians who make war and you'llbe their expendable pawns in their games"

Amazing the number who never thought that one through.

As far as I was concerned, I'd have been a mechanic or an engineer,but no way did I want to be ordered to kill some other poor kid like me,without justification.
yup, I was an odd child....nothing changes :8:}

G&T ice n slice
22nd Dec 2008, 22:59
Gosh Chaps,
this has a become a trifle serious.

ummm anyone any ideas about the mad yankee commander & his red ink dyed sails ?

I've tried goggling all sorts of variations such as +pacific +"red ink" +sails
any lots of (v.strange) stuff turns up but nowt abowt books.

p.s. Cantata nr1 "wienachts oratorium" J.S.B radio 3 this pm - what an uplifting first chorus

22nd Dec 2008, 23:33
Thank you for comments. I have one or two biographies of Kipling but since I cannot lay my hands on them I’ll rely on analyses gleaned from Google. Certainly, Carlton, there are “light” and “dark” interpretations of Mary Postgate, and we can all take our pick.

You say that:
To me it is not a jingoistic tale, it is a horror story.
To me also it is not a jingoistic tale, but the absence of jingoism does not redeem it from deeper wickedness.

“Jingoism”, just in passing, and as I am sure you know, arose from anti-Russian attitudes of forty years before WWl.

Mary Postgate was written in 1915 before John Kipling was killed and at a time of unlimited government-promoted British anti-German lying propaganda, e.g., Germans’ wholesale impaling of Belgian babies on bayonets, and so on ad lib. I believe no case was ever found of any Belgian or other baby being thus or otherwise impaled.

In a speech early in 1915 Kipling said: “However the world pretends to divide itself, there are only two divisions in the World to-day - human beings and Germans”.

Uhuh? That gives, shall we agree, a hint of his thinking at that time, substantially – perhaps without exaggeration wholly – consistent with the Hate poem and Mary Postgate.

Step forward Miss Vesta Tilley to sing:
Oh, we don't want to lose you but we think you ought to go.
For your King and your country both need you so.
We shall want you and miss you
But with all our might and main
We shall cheer you, thank you, bless you
When you come home again.

and the sweet children specially selected would hand out white feathers to any young man in the audience not in uniform. Go for it! Rudyard! And remember it when you get that telegram in the Fall.

When I was an undergraduate there was some suggestion that I pursue studies in English at a higher level. “Write”, they said, “more essays on [what I thought baloney on this or that interpretation of] Othello or Lear. I could rattle the stuff off by the yard. I’d take an unpopular stance and argue the case, unlike the wee lassies who regurgitated “Bradley on Shakespeare”. Good fun while it lasted, but not for a life-work.

I begged off, but that leads me to a Mr Colebatch who writes:

Few short stories can have been so often explained by specialist authors and learned critics as meaning the exact opposite of what their meaning actually is. Kipling seems to have played a successful psychological trick on his educated readers while proving precisely the story's point..

Yeah. Without having Mr Colebatch's depth of reading, it looks that way to me. Kipling was not writing for literary deconstruction on PPRuNe in 2008, but to stir up hatred in 1915. I believe he knew exactly what he had in mind, and what he had in mind was exactly what he wrote.

This activity was shared with other eminent literary figures, often to their later well-deserved attacks of conscience. Their effort was part of a propaganda machine much envied, as I gather, by the Germans.

It is curious, just to go off at a tangent for a moment, to see what people do find themselves moved to write. Take “Apologia Pro Vita Sua” by Cardinal Newman:

She [the Catholic church] holds that it were better for sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions who are upon it to die of starvation in extremest agony, as far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say, should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should tell one wilful untruth .... or steal one poor farthing without excuse”.

Wow! Do you really mean that, Your Eminence? You would not settle for a half-penny minimum tariff, say, and let the farthing go? BDiONU has not mentioned this one thus far. An oversight?

That is what Newman wrote. There it stands. There it has stood since 1864.

tarbaby observes that

trying to apply 2008 thought processes to WW1 and WW2 are impossible. They exist in their own time.

and I agree up to a point.

There is in German (maybe in English too, but in this I know more of the German; that is, I hear them chatter away in the Deutsch and I pick up a word or two) studies a field known as “Rezeptionsaesthetik”, the consideration of why some rubbish is well accepted when written, and against the apparent odds remains popular; whereas some “good” stuff withers on the vine.

Anyway, I do not have to surrender my faculty of judgement just because a book was written in WWl or WW2. “All Quiet on the Western Front” was not written yesterday, and many still find it good. Is that Okay? Kipling’s short story “The Gardener” was written around the late 1920s, still pretty close to WWl, and about WWl, and for my part I find it very moving. So that's Okay too. If I can exercise criticism in favour, surely I can exercise it against.

I see that Stanley Baldwin's son Oliver, both of them near-kinsmen of Kipling, described "Mary Postgate" as:
`the wickedest story ever written'.

Delete “ever written”, substitute “I have ever read”, accept that the “Apologia” is not exactly a story, and you have my view.

Union Jack
23rd Dec 2008, 00:00
ummm anyone any ideas about the mad yankee commander & his red ink dyed sails ?


Yes, Messrs Draper and Loki , who were spot on at Posts 3 and 4, and no, Captain Jebediah S. Hawks, played by Jeff (not Geoff) Chandler (DD 15 Dec 61) was not portrayed as being mad.


23rd Dec 2008, 00:46
enough of Kipling's writing shows subtlety enough to suggest he may have had motives and insights rather more timeless than he is given credit for.

For example, Kipling wrote "Captains Courageous" after a transatlantic voyage on which the ship was infested by an obnoxious small boy (Harvie Cheyne) as played by Freddy Bartholomew in the early part of the eponymous movie, 1937.

Reflecting on him later, Kipling wrote the book as a redemption for the boy, unobserved and unearned but hoped-for. That was a timeless generosity far removed from Mary Postgate.

I saw the movie around 1941 or 1942. The closing scene is of a fisherman at the wheel, looking out to sea as floral wreaths float away on the ebb tide to honour the latest fishermen lost at sea. In 1961 I was in Marblehead, Mass., and there was the statue in front of me. Quite a moment.

23rd Dec 2008, 00:52
Generally I admire Kipling, but not his work for World War I, that poem, nor that short story.

Me neither.

To me, in the realm of cakes, he was a true giant. Let us not lose sight of his real genius amongst the noise of pseudo-academia.

CarltonBrowne the FO
23rd Dec 2008, 01:17
The timing of Mary Postage is pretty damning; you are correct, rather than a horror story it is simply horrific.
As to Kipling's wartime stuff, especially the less emotive descriptive poetry, there is a visual equivalent. When I have a wall to hang them on, I will be looking out for the wartime drawings of Snaffles. An example is at Snaffles Military (http://www.berkeleystudio.co.uk/acatalog/Military_Snaffles.html#a02490)

23rd Dec 2008, 03:46
To be fair, I do like "The MInesweepers":

Sweep completed in the fairway.
No more mines remain.
"Sent back Unity, Claribel, Assyrian, Stormcock and Golden Grain"

I'd rather not leave dear old Kiplng with Mary Postgate. Here are the final paragraphs of "The Gardener":

A man knelt behind a line of headstones - evidently a gardener, for he was firming a young plant in the soft earth. She went towards him, her paper in her hand. He rose at her approach and without prelude or salutation asked: "Who are you looking for?"

"Lieutenant Michael Turrell - my nephew", said Helen slowly and word for word, as she had many thousands of times in her life.

The man lifted his eyes and looked at her with infinite compassion before he turned from the fresh-sown grass toward the naked black crosses.

"Come with me", he said, "and I will show you where your son lies."

When Helen left the Cemetery she turned for a last look. In the distance she saw the man bending over his young plants; and she went away, supposing him to be the gardener.

And finally:

And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her. "Woman, why weepest thou"? whom seekest thou?. She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary.

St John, 20; 14 - 16.

Of course, how you read it is up to you.

Loose rivets
23rd Dec 2008, 04:21

My happiest day as a schoolboy, was hearing on the radio that National Service had been abolished.

And me, as a teenager, the last quarter of '39 was NOT to be called. I missed it by three days.

23rd Dec 2008, 07:21
Mary Postgate was written in 1915 before John Kipling was killed and at a time of unlimited government-promoted British anti-German lying propaganda, e.g., Germans’ wholesale impaling of Belgian babies on bayonets, and so on ad lib. I believe no case was ever found of any Belgian or other baby being thus or otherwise impaled.

"German Atrocities, 1914: A History of Denial" (http://www.vlib.us/wwi/resources/archives/texts/t040831d.html)

Describes the three phases in which atrocities occurred. The first was the taking of Liège and the movement up the Meuse, in which Dinant was the worst incident, and the movement across the plains of Belgium, when Louvain was the worst. The second phase was the advance through the Ardennes into Belgium and France, especially the department of Meurthe et Moselle, when there were again many cases. The third, with only a few cases, was the ending of the "race to the sea" in West Flanders.

Ample documentation, including soldiers'own diaries and letters, of mass killings of civilians of all ages and sexes, burning of houses etc, use of civilians as human shields, killing of French and Belgian wounded soldiers, deportation of large numbers of civilians. Almost total absence of anything resembling any judicial procedure. Several documented instances of regimental officers being involved (eg 33) and one of a general ordering the shooting of prisoners (194) none of officers trying to restrain troops......

Propaganda, Atrocities, and the Limits of the Thinkable; the Bryce reports and others. (http://www.jottings.ca/john/kelly/sbar14.html) ....The following are among the worst of the reported incidents. I have quoted the fourth passage already.

(a) One day when the Germans were not actually bombarding the town I left my house to go to my mother’s house. In High Street. My husband was with me. I saw eight German soldiers. They came round a corner into the street in which I was walking with my husband and came towards us. They were drunk. They were singing and making a lot of noise and dancing about. They were in grey uniforms. As the German soldiers came along the street I saw a small child, whether boy or girl I could not say, come out of a house. The child was about two years of age. The child came into the middle of the street so as to be in the way of the soldiers. The soldiers were walking in twos. The first line of two passed the child; one of the second line, the man on the left, stepped aside and drove his bayonet with both hands into the child’s stomach, lifting the child into the air on his bayonet and carrying it away on his bayonet, he and his comrades still singing. I could see the man for about 200 yards, still carrying the child on his bayonet. Then the soldiers were hidden by a curve in the street. The child screamed when the soldier struck it with his bayonet but not afterwards. (pp.82-83)

Perhaps, from the article above, the most perceptive comment:

"There was a propaganda war going on in the 1914-18 war, which the British were generally conceded to have won, particularly when it came to gaining sympathy in America.

But Reality doesn’t all dwindle down to words, and things can be said for propaganda purposes that owe their effectiveness to their being true."

Mac the Knife
23rd Dec 2008, 08:09
Davaar, you're seeing a tree while missing the wood.

Kipling was an extraordinarily complex man. Mixed in with his humanity and occasionally mawkish sentiment his oeuvre is populated with scenes of great cruelty of which "Mary Postgate" is only one.

Perhaps this had its roots in the misery of the time he spent with the Holloways in Southsea as a child (The House of Desolation), perhaps it has to do with his pervading fear of blindness, perhaps from the agonies of gastric pain he suffered from most of his adult life. And perhaps from the fact that he recognised that sometimes even good people can be extraordinarily cruel.

Many of his early and Indian stories in the Civil and Military Gazette and later The Pioneer have examples of this as well as many later stories. Just read "Plain Tales from the Hills", "Soldiers Three", "The Story of the Gadsbys", "In Black and White", "Under the Deodars", "The Phantom Rickshaw", and "Wee Willie Winkie".

Kipling was initially not anti-German at all, in fact Germans are generally portrayed sympathetically in his prewar works. Look at Muller, the German "...head of the Woods and Forests of all India, Head Ranger from Burma to Bombay" in the story "In the Rukh", he is the only one to truly understand who Mowgli is.

I think that there were quite enough gratuitous horrors perpetrated during the German advance through peaceful Belgium in 1914 to give anyone a frisson of anti-German sentiment - shootings, executions, pillage (the wanton destruction of the great library at Louvain) and more. I know it's fashionable now to love everyone but the rape of Belgium was very real and produced widespread shock and revulsion.

Mix this with Kipling's personal demons and you will understand his writing better. To see Kipling as merely a strutting jingoist tool is a lamentably shallow vision.

In short, I suggest that you "Drink deeply or taste not the Pierian spring"


23rd Dec 2008, 09:27
To see Kipling as merely a strutting jingoist tool is a lamentably shallow vision.

Goodness me! Tu Quoque, Mac. Do some reading yourself. Nothing I wrote above warrants your innuendo that I see Kipling as a strutting jingoist. I even excluded jingoism in one post. How much more explicit would you like me to be? I wrote that I do not see Mary Postgate as jingoism, but as something more radicaly wicked. I dated jingoisn from the 1870s. I could give you the song, if you like ("We don't want to fight! but by Jingo if we do", etc., etc). There is anyway to jingoism a certain rough good humour that is totally absent from the vicious Mary Postgate.

When I write of Mary Postgate and the Hate poem, I write of Mary Postgate and the Hate poem, not of "McAndrew's Hymn:" or "The Mary Gloster" or "The Truce of the Bear" or "The Song of Diego Valdez". Before I am misunderstood must I give a list of the exclusions from the 844 pages of the Definitive Edition? Why do you suggest otherwise? How can you possibly reconcile "jingoism" with my post #31 above on "The Gardener", that last written in the mid-1920s and some think part of his quest for his dead son. My own condensed assessment of Kipling is as the poet of duty.

ORAC. Of course in a war there are atrocities. To produce an example here and there from one side or the other is an empty achievement. I can produce British sources (would Captain B H Liddell-Hart be good enough for you?) for British atrocities in World War l. Then again, I found it long ago in he volume itsef, not by search engine, so I'd have to go through the book again to find it (so you can do it: see Captain B H Liddell Hart's History of the First World War), for the case of the Empire -- Australian, in fact -- soldier who made a disarmed German prisoner stand horrified to one side while the captor took his bayonet from its sheath, fixed it to his rifle, and ran the prisoner through). There were many others, on land and at sea. It could not be otherwise.

From my own days I recall the British naval VC who from his submarine ordered that torpedoed German survivors in the water be machine-gunned; and they were.This was notorious throughout the RN long after the war while he was still serving -- by that time in flag rank -- and was explicitly mentioned in his obituaries. No one said Jolly Good Show!, but no one seemed ternbly upset either. Even among my own oppos I heard of strafing runs on North Korean civilians ("We really shouldn't have done that!") and one who used a ship's guns to bracket a fleeing North Korean soldier-cyclist. Not cricket, but I might well do it myself, given the "right" circumstances. But I was addressing the propaganda that I have read repeatedly with justification cited was untrue.

Those examples do not make me say the British ran wars of atrocity. Let me repeat that: Those examples do not make me say the British ran wars of atrocity. Just in case I am misunderstood I'll give it again: Those examples do not make me say the British ran wars of atrocity.

If you want to study British World War l Propaganda, I need not intrude on your own legendary research skills. The materials are ample. My own reading on the subject was adventitious, not programmed. I have no "axe to grind".

My comments now under review were directed, as I stated over and over, to the Hate poem and to Mary Postgate, both of them to my mind loathsome pieces; but I said there are different interpretations, and we can all decide for ourselves which to take. "Wicked" is mine; and Yes, from the Pierian spring I long ago drew Ernst Lissauer's "Hymn of Hate", an offering from the other side of the hill.

23rd Dec 2008, 09:36
Davaar, my post was in response to your statement that: I believe no case was ever found of any Belgian or other baby being thus or otherwise impaled. so I provided one. :ouch:

23rd Dec 2008, 09:57
ORAC you give an example of an allegation. I do not carry page references of an entire library in my head, but my reading was as I stated it. Perhaps there was one case of such bayoneting. If it was established, I shall concede it. De minimis non curat lex. If you want to split hairs, go ahead. My point is that the Brits ran a lying propaganda machine, Kipling was part of it, and the Hate poem and "Mary Postgate" were part of his part.

The result was that hundreds of thousands of young men died needless hellish deaths. For that Kipling shares in the blame.

"My Boy Jack" evidently meets with some approval. Kipling's remorse brings some sympathy, but not from me. He owed that remorse. His efforts to get his boy a one-way ticket to Loos were far beyond the call of duty, his or the boy's.

John was turned down by official channels, but Dad would not let it rest at that, No Sir! He made sure John got killed, and "Mary Postgate" helped make sure others were killed.


tony draper
23rd Dec 2008, 10:30
A number of the Edwardian men(and women) of letters)generally thought of as sympathetic recorders of the human condition had some pretty strange ideas in private, seemingly for some reason a shared hatred for the working classes of their own country,DH Lawrence advocated the rounding up of the surplus population the unemployed and feckless and the gassing of same in special chambers? he predated the chaps of the SS by a couple of decades, and old H G Wells was horrified at the idea being mooted at the time of educating the lower orders,a held a return to a kind feudal system would be the best solution.:
Who was the poet who penned
How I hate the working class,I'd see their women eating grass.
The lumpen lower orders had no place in their utopias.

Mac the Knife
23rd Dec 2008, 12:31
Davaar, you seize upon the one part of my post (the 'jingoist tool' bit), which I now concede and completely ignore the rest. "Mary Postgate" is sickening, but rather less so than rounding up a bunch of villagers and shooting them as franc-tireurs.

It seems a pity that you determinedly ignore me when I try to explore why Kipling could be driven to write such stuff. The mawkish "The Gardener" is a reflection of Kipling's loss (and "The Road to Endor" is his courageous rejection of the refuge of spiritualism).

You counter ORAC by avoiding any discussion of the rape of Belgium and stating that there were atrocities on the British side too (no doubt there were, but hardly on the German scale). Of course there was British propaganda but there exists quite a body of incontrovertible fact - dozens of Belgian villages have their little memorials to those who were "Fusillé (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042492/) par les Allemands" in 1914 and Louvain was destroyed (but perhaps it, like the Reichstag, was fired by agents provocateurs?).

"War is hell" said Sherman (and certainly he made it so) - all of us are aware of this and many of us have experienced it at first hand - it seldom makes any sense, particularly with the benefit of hindsight.

Kipling (and for all we know John too) wanted to do his duty - he used his influence to get the myopic boy into the army. No one at the time had any inkling of the scale of the senseless slaughter that the trenches would bring. And perhaps, had John been a couple of years younger, his by then wiser father would have pushed less hard.

"The road to Endor is easy to tread for mother or yearning wife.
There, it is sure, we shall meet our dead as they were even in life.
And nothing has changed of the sorrow in store
for such as go down on the road to Endor!"


23rd Dec 2008, 14:06
Mac, you hit it on the nail in your opening words :
Davaar, you're seeing a tree while missing the wood.

Yes. I was not writing about the wood. I was writing about a tree. If I write an apercu on Chippendale, must I add a library on the forest?

I intended the first, not the second. I delivered the first, not the second. I did, though, add enough to indicate that the forest is there, and that I was not proposing to introduce Dutch elm disease.

You find "The Gardener" mawkish. I do not, and apparently Kipling did not. Chacun a son gout (just imagine a circumflex there to exclude a sore toe). As is now established ad nauseam "Hate" and "Mary Postgate" are not to my gout.

As I browsed on books over the years, I have read often of the British propaganda and the recruitment of journalists and noted authors to grow popular support for World War l. "Hate" and "Mary Postgate" are both fruits of that vineyard.

Some at least of those who tended those vines later regretted the lies and suggestions of falsehood they had told. So I have read. I believe Kipling was one of them.

That was casual reading. I did not make notes in the expectation of a challenge twenty years ahead, and I am not inclined to go back now and try to dig them up. Either they are there or they are not.

Perhaps mistakenly, I associate francs tireurs more with 1870 than 1914. No matter; no regulars can long tolerate attack by irregulars. The rasing of villages in Mesopotamia, or Iraq as we call it now, by bombing to discourage or punish insurgency was a settled task of the RAF long after World War l. Did Kipling write a "Hate" and "Mary Postgate" about that? Or were no children killed? The Americans shot German troops who had worn US uniforms at Malmedy. Why not? They all sang "Stille Nacht" together just before the machine-guns opened fire. Was that mawkish too?

A contributor asked about some lines from a poem. I identified them. That poem was associated by Kipling's publishers with one of his short stories. Both exemplify his thinking and statements in 1915. My comments were addressed to that poem and, as a bonus, that short story or as we may conveniently class them, the tree.

Feel free to write about the forest.

G&T ice n slice
23rd Dec 2008, 18:18
I now remember where I heard the poem - read to the class by the Head of English at skool (45 years ago now). We also had to study the subsequent story. The accepted interpretation was that (through the haze of ancient memory) Kipling frequently wrote exaggeratedly negative stuff to highlight the unacceptable. Rather in the same way the Mark Twain would (in Huck Finn there is conversation about a river-boat explosion:
"was anyone hurt?"
"No, but a couple of niggers were killed"
(from memory so may not be exactly correct)
Twain knew what he was writing - think of all the kindness shown to Huck by a variety of "niggers" and then he hits you with that snippet of conversation.

But it has been 40+ years since I read either piece so....

By the way .. I'm not sure about my crazy Yankee red-ink Commander being in "away all boats" as I can't trace a synopsis anywhere

Just as a sort of p.s. about our Head of English...
He served in one of the Scottish regiments in WW2, decorated several times,saw some pretty nasty action involving Germans, ended up as a colonel. He could also speak fluent Chaucerian "English", and gaelic & (of course) Rabbie Burns & various sub-dialects of Scots. English lessons tended to be confusing on occasion (he would castigate in several languages none of the 'current English'. Strangely he didn't have a Scots accent when speaking English.

23rd Dec 2008, 23:10
I had thought to leave this tale of Hate and Postgate, but I chanced on one of my books of authority.

The Dumfries Standard of 16 September 1914 reported the fate of one Grace Hume, a 23-year old local nurse who had gone to serve in Belgium. Nurse Hume wrote to her sister Kate that the Germans had taken away her right breast. A Nurse Mullard was with Nurse Hume when she died. Nurse Mullard told how Nurse Hume had shot a German who attacked a wounded soldier, and how her left breast also had been cut off. Pretty awful, we must agree, and I would not for a moment dispute the horror.

Very understandably the story was widely reported in the Evening Standard, Pall Mall Gazette, and Westminster Gazette, the local Dumfries paper and elsewhere.

Hold on a minute! What's this? Nurse Hume was not in Belgium? Huddersfield was as close as Nurse Hume had ever got to Belgium? No Nurse Mullard existed at all? Nurse Hume retains both breasts? Dearie me! The plot, ummm, thickens!

Well! Well! The tale emanated from the imaginative hand of Miss Kate Hume, 17-year old sister of Nurse Grace. Little Kate was charged on 30 September 1914 with forgery and convicted. No headlines announced the forgery or the conviction.

No sense, though, in killing a good story.

The Times of 12 September, 1914 published a letter from "a London vicar". This good man told that his son, an officer at the front, had written of three girls “outraged” by the Germans, and one who had just had both breasts cut off. Not worry, though:
“I caught the Uhlan officer in the act, and with a rifle at three hundred yards, killed him”.

Think about that! Lord Selborne protested that such statements
as these cannot possibly be allowed to rest on anonymous authority. Discussion followed in the Daily News about the technicalities of breast cutting and immediate execution by rifle at 300 yards while under heavy fire.

No authentication ever came from the heroic British officer.

The Sunday Chronicle of 2 May, 1915 – that fertile year for hatred – told of the little Belgian girl whose hands the Germans had cut off. This was, reportedly, a favourite activity of the Germans. The Times reported on 2 September, 1914 that they cut off the hands of little boys (French -ones this time) so there would be no more soldiers for France.

A correspondent wrote to the Daily News: “Will anyone who has actually seen such cases here in England send me particulars? No reply ever came.

Some of the allegations could be traced back to the Crusades when the accused were the Turks, much like our own urban legends.

The author Robert Graves traces the story of the fall of Antwerp from (stage 1)
the church bells were rung (Koelnische Zeitung)

to (stage 4)

the [Germans] punished the unfortunate Belgian priests for their heroic refusal to ring the church bells by hanging them as living clappers to the bells with their heads down [
(Le Matin).

The newspaper proprietor Lord Northcliffe offered Two Hundred Pounds for an authentic photograph of widespread reports of civilian mutilations. The prize was never claimed.

Of course, faked evidence was used. Three German cavalrymen were shown holding up trophies of war. In fact the picture was taken from the Berliner Lokalanzeiger of 9 June, 1914 of prizes awarded at an army steeplechase in the Gruenewald.

“Hatred became an indispensable part of civilian morale”. As Conan Doyle wrote in 1918
“Hatred ..... is the means to attain invincible resolve and it is as such that I have recommended it”.

You will see cartoons of Germans putting babies to the bayonet. If necessary I can supply at least one. There must have been many photographs of such events. Can any one here produce one?

Literary men had an important part in these Good Works, one notable exception being George Bernard Shaw. Rudyard Kipling directed propaganda to colonial countries at the Ministry of Information. His “human beings and Germans” appeared in the Morning Post of 22 June, 1915.

Just by chance when I went looking in my shelves I came across “Keep the Home Fires Burning”, by Cate Haste, Allen Lane (Penguin), London, 1977, ISBN 0 7139 08173. The above snippets are taken from that book, which I recommend to any who are overwhelmed by sympathy for Kipling, whom I still admire, but not so much as before.

23rd Dec 2008, 23:57
Davaar, I refer you back to my link in my previous post, which you seem to have ignored, which draws on later academic reports than yours above. I copy below. I leave others to decide whether the British based their propaganda upon facts as they were known or on some giant conspiracy theory as you seem to believe.

Propaganda, Atrocities, and the Limits of the Thinkable; the Bryce reports and others. (http://www.jottings.ca/john/kelly/sbar14.html)

24th Dec 2008, 01:03
The evil men of history, such as Hitler, Goebbels, Himmler and Stalin often get full credit for their wickedness but some do not. To my mind Clemenceau was one of these. He was largely the author of World War II.

Davaar, anyone who puts Clemenceau in the same bracket as Hitler and Stalin needs to read a bit more (to say the least). I have yet to come across the accounts of the millions that Clemenceau "liquidated", or the genocide for which he was responsible.

And to believe that "appeasers" may have been right in 1939 implies an acceptance that the complete domination of Europe by a nihilistic dictator was a better option than the freedom you now enjoy.

A few books off the top of my head that you might find illuminating would be:

Winston Churchill's "History of the Second World War", part one;
William Shirer's "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich";
Piers Brendon's "The Dark Valley";
Albert Speer's "Inside the Third Reich";
Alan Bullock's "Hitler, a Study in Tyranny";
Simon Sebag-Montefiore's "Stalin";

You write elegantly, but it is mostly glib and superficial, "full of sound and fury, signifying ... nothing".


24th Dec 2008, 01:13
I have looked at it and I'll look again. It appears to me less than conclusive, but then to be fair it could never be conclusive. One or two or a thousand can expand anecdote into volumes. As I said above great events usually have many causes. A principal cause of World War l was the secret understandings between Grey and the French Command. The fact that war entails cruelty is so obvious it needs no statement.

I am addressing the lying allegations, of which there were many, not the true. Can I make that more clear? If babe impalation occurred as alleged, the Continent must have been awash with photographs. Rewards were offered to produce them. They were not produced.

To put it briefly, the cream of British literature made every effort not to report but coldlyt to induce hatred because, as they said, support for the war was iffy. They were right. Private Kemp, at the front from 1915 to 1917, wrote: "We had lost the hatred of the enemy which had prompted us to enlist". That would never do. Renewed hatred by any means was their stated objective, Kipling, Doyle, Northcliffe.

The British press acted as recruiting agents, which Lord Northcliffe found hard because, as he wrote to Asquith in 1914, they needed the work of "photographers, ARTISTS, CINEMATOGRAPHIC OPERATORS and WAR CORRESPONDENTS: "the public cannot be aroused by present methods". That is: Give us propaganda!

Well, he got that support in 1915 from the cleverest authors, Kipling for example with "humans and Germans", HATE, and Mary Postgate.

Robert Graves wrote: "It never occurred to me that newsapers and statesmen
could lie.... I was ready to believe the worst of the Germans...... I discounted perhaps 20 per cent of the atrocity details as wartime exaggeration. That was not, of course, enough".

Too bad about poor John Kipling, dead at Loos, dead at 18, and all the others dead at 17 and 18 and 19 at the Somme (1, 2, and 3), at Passchendaele, at Vimy, at Ypres, at Chemin des Dames, and all for nothing. Too bad about: "Have you seen my boy Jack ..... Not this tide nor any tide". You did it, Dad. You did it or you helped with your evil poem and story; and no chit-chat or equivocation here will alter that.

Incidentally, I do not use the word "conspiracy". I use the word "policy".

24th Dec 2008, 01:16
So you say, and you have every right. Clemenceau was the architect of the humiliation at Versailles in 1919 that assured World War 2.

Clemenceau: "My life hatred has been for Germany because of what she has done to France".

Churchill: "The hatred of France for Germany was something more than human".

Lord Keynes: "Keynes had come to loathe the French and what he saw as their inordinate greed."

"Responsibility for the disastrous consequences [of Versailles], so the argument goes, begins with the peacemakers of 1919: the vengeful, grasping Clemenceau ..... Keynes did not create the picture on his own, of course, but he painted it most persuasively and most persistently".

24th Dec 2008, 02:07
Can I just say how much I love this thread, it seems to me to show this forum at its finest,what started as a simple question has mutated/evolved to become a discussion about propaganda, morals,the history of world war one and many other things as well.
all of it well written and well argued.thank you all for making me think,though possibly not in your favour!but it is the thought that counts.

Mac the Knife
24th Dec 2008, 08:02
To be honest I'm somewhat nonplussed that such an acute mind as Davaar should persist in throwing the bathwater out with the baby here.

Certainly all those stories of babies-on-bayonets and breast-cutting-off are the sort of urban myths that always arise, equally certainly the government of the day did nothing to deny them (and why should they? It was hardly in their best interests, once the war had started, to portray the Germans as charming humanitarians).

But equally certain is the fact that the invading German armies cut a swathe of looting, destruction and executions as they marched through neutral Belgium on their way to France. They had been led to believe that the Belgians would offer, at the most, only token resistance and were outraged by Belgian hostility. The evidence, even when the hyperbole is removed, as I have pointed out, is incontrovertible and physical rather than anecdotal.

Yes, the legend of the franc-tireurs originated in the 1870 war, but it seems to have produced a strong impression on the German mind for it was extensively used to justify the wholesale "reprisals" shooting in many villages during August 1914.

More worrying are the attempts to attach the causes of WW1 (and WW2 no less) to Clemenceau and the British - "A principal cause of World War l was the secret understandings between Grey and the French Command." which is really absurd.

Germany was horrified by the entente cordiale of 1905 (which was a defensive agreement in response to the Triple Alliance of 1882) and immediately (well, in 1905 anyway) began to elaborate the Schlieffen Plan which was the German General Staff's early 20th century overall strategic plan for victory against France. Prussian militarism had long been readying for war against France (and the Schlieffen Plan demanded a sweep through neutral Belgium). And a war against Russia, who with Britain and France formed the defensive Triple Entente was also in preparation.

There is no doubt that Germany was the aggressor - I think, Davaar that you have been listening too much to the Kaiser's lachrymose protestations that he did not wish it (the War) - well, if he didn't, he made a remarkably good job of hiding it.

I'm sorry, but using putative or even actual atrocities of the one side to excuse well established greater atrocities by the other doesn't even qualify as sophistry.


31st Dec 2008, 17:25
1. This thread opened with a request to identify a poem and a short story.
2. I did both and should have left it at that.
3. All that follows is obiter.
4. Having identified poem and story I added the view, not mine alone, that both are wicked.
5. Some differed.
6. Kipling’s Verse, “Definitive Edition”, is among my books most frequently read. All authors write to persuade, and some maybe to manipulate, the reader. I regret reading these pieces again because I think they set out to do the latter. I wish I had left them alone.
I do not care for a person who has won my affection and then manipulates me as Kipling does in these pieces. Like his comment on “humans and Germans”, these led as they must to twisted death for innumerable young men. Those deaths were reality, not mere words; and for what?
7. I have seen the TV documentary: “My Boy Jack”. Kipling did not write that and it may not accurately portray him. I hope not.
8. As part of the context in relation to the hate, I mentioned World War l. I did not wish to refight it, so I was careful – vain hope! – to qualify, viz:As for all great events there were many causes for World War l, but large factors in Britain’s involvement were indeed the French and the cozy links and secret staff understandings between their government and Sir Edward Grey
I suggested Clemenceau was largely the author of World War II.
9. One poster quotes me:
"A principal cause of World War l was the secret understandings between Grey and the French Command."
which, he writes, “is really absurd”. I may well be wrong, but absurd? Let’s see:
... on January 16 [1905], without approval of either the Prime Minister or the Cabinet, secret talks between the British and French staff officers began. They focussed on plans to send 100,000 British soldiers to the Continent within two weeks of an outbreak of hostilities. On January 26,when Campbell-Bannerman returned to London and was telephoned, he approved “Dreadnought”, Robert K Massie, Ballantine, NY, 1991, ISBN: 0-345-37556-4.
One well-placed observer, Winston Churchill, wrote that only Lord Rosebery read the real meaning of the Anglo-French entente:
“Only one voice – Rosebery’s – was raised in discord: in public “Far more likely to lead to War than Peace”; in private “Straight to War”
see “Great Contemporaries”, U of Chicago Press, 1973, p 27. See also “Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War” by Patrick J Buchanan, Crown Publishers, NY, 2008, ISBN 978-0-307-40515-9, p. 7.
Were they all absurd, or am I alone?
10. Again, I got:
I'm sorry, but using putative or even actual atrocities of the one side to excuse well established greater atrocities by the other doesn't even qualify as sophistry .
Where have I done that? I realise now that if I even hint here that infantry in wet fields may suffer “trench foot”, I may in reply expect: “Flanders Shock! – Ingrown Toenail Epidemic – Davaar Accuses Nurse Cavell ”; irrelevant and untrue , as in “You’ve been reading the Kaiser too much” (I have never read the Kaiser: what did he write?) or “When was Clemenceau in charge of Dachau?”; the tree is not the wood; the thin edge of the wedge has been inserted; the first step taken on the slippery slope. Not sophistry. Just not true.
11. Fly-by-wife kindly volunteers his opinion that I am glib and superficial, etc. Even more kindly than he, I keep to myself my opinion of him. For the pre-World War I links between French and British authorities that challenge his credulity, see “Dreadnought” (above); and “Paris 1919", by Margaret MacMillan, Random House, NY, 2001,ISBN 0-375-76052-0, for Clemenceau’s deep hatred from 1870 to the mid-1920s for all that is German. Look under “revanchism” in just about any text-book.
Clemenceau, principal force of the Versailles Treaty, was not loved there. and when someone later asked where Hitler was born, Lady Astor said “Versailles” (“Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War”, p. 110).
Clemenceau at Versailles did all he could not only to impose a treaty, but to humiliate Germany as a nation and its representatives personally. See Professor Fisher (paragraph 13 below) on international hatred. Marshal Foch (who disliked Clemenceau) said the Kaiser had lost the war; but Clemenceau had lost the peace; and called Versailles an “an armistice for twenty years”. Winston Churchill said as late as 1937:
“If our country were defeated, I hope we would find a champion [e.g., Adolf Hitler] as indomitable to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among the nations”
Cause and effect.
12. There are two kinds of hatred: Good and Bad.
13. Good Hatred is felt by Brits and French and in the popular literature of late 19th and early 20th century England, found expression in John Buchan, Saki, William Le Queux, Erskine Childers, Lord Northcliffe (newspapers), W E Henley, Sir Tomkins Chesney, William Laird Clowes, H G Wells, et al fanned anti-German emotion (it was up to them, of course; but not good for good feeling) (anti-semitic too, by the way; take a look at E W Hornung and Dornford Yates).
Good Hatred allowed Lord Salisbury to insult the Kaiser to his face (“Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War”, p. 11) but that’s Okay because Salisbury was One Of Us, and the Kaiser’s judgment was not always of the best anyway, was it? Few would deny that.
Still he was a good boy to his Gran, Queen Victoria, grieving by her side in England as she lay dying, marched at her funeral; and again, in the uniform of a British Field Marshal, at the funeral of his uncle King Edward VII. In 1915 we had more Good Hatred, the Bryce Report, Mary Postgate, the whining “Beginnings”, and the “humans and Germans”.
One poster [You know who you are. I was going to recommend a great book “Boswell’s Clap and Other Essays”, by William J Ober, to you, available used on Amazon; but now I shall not even mention it] tells me I allow untrue atrocities to blind me to real atrocities. Where do I do that?
My topic is the flood of untrue atrocity stories. There must have been real atrocities on both sides, some I know about, some not: same with you. Brutality happens in every war. The Germans burned a library here and there; we and our allies pulverised an ancient monastery at Monte Cassino a few years later; we machine-gunned swimming survivors in the ocean. That happens.
I even met a serving officer in the RAF, former Spitfire pilot, who had shot down his own section leader: so he told me. I made a point of forgetting his name right away. As for francs tireurs, I have read G K Chesterton’s defence and it leaves me unpersuaded. Shoot soldiers from behind a hedge in a private war and you are going to get shot as soon as they catch you. Get used to the idea. We must take the real cases as we find them.
I am addressing a policy reduced to practice by which respected, I should say honoured, people coldly abused their personal reputations to deceive millions of young men by lies and distortion, and get them killed.
13. Bad Hatred is the kind felt by Germans for Brits and French. It comes about because Germans are naive and emotional. I know that, and so should you, because H A L Fisher tells us so: Of all luxuries of the heart the most perilous is international hatred. Pre World War l, The Germans, a naive and emotional people, were successfully encouraged to abound in this sentiment
see “A History of Europe”, Edward Arnold & Co., London, 1936, p. 1108.
Who was H A L Fisher? Remember that name for we meet it again below. He was no trivial figure, He might have looked at British literature of the period, as it too encouraged young British people, perhaps also naive and emotional, to abound in the same sentiment. No mention of that in his book.
Some Germans had Bad Hatred but were not good at it. In 1914 Ernst Lissauer wrote “Hassgesang gegen England” (“The Hymn of Hate”: “We love as one; we hate as one; We have one foe, and one alone – ENGLAND”), from which we plucked the well-loved “Gott strafe England” or, for Scottish troops, “Gott strafe the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland”. Ironically, Herr Lissauer was a Jew, ill-regarded in the Fatherland by the anti-Semitic set for his "unreasonable", "utterly un-German", "fanatical hatred", "characteristic of nothing so much as the Jewish race". He got no respect and died in 1937, in obscurity: Rodney Dangerfield could have warned him.
14. The widespread tales of “Belgian babies” in 1914 and 1915, Kipling and Bryce in 1915, and others were spread in large part to influence America, as was the Balfour Declaration of 1917.
15. ORAC finds me silent on his “academic” atrocity reports. No, I have not read all 450 pages + 150 pages of the notes from Yale in 2001, and I do not intend to. I did read the summary, which I found unpersuasive. Read it for yourselves.
ORAC raises, more than once, the “official” Bryce Report. I wonder why, really. It was prepared by the very best of British public life: (a) the Rt Hon Viscount Bryce, former ambassador to the United States; (b) Sir Frederick W Pollock, KC, distinguished lawyer, legal writer par excellence; (c) Sir Alfred Hopkinson, KC, eminent lawyer; (d) our old friend (see above) H A L Fisher, MP, member of the cabinet, historian, vice-chancellor of the University of Sheffield, academic; (e) Mr Harold Cox; and later (f) Sir Kenelm Digby, KC, GCB. These all command respect. We can, surely, take their word for anything they say. Goebbels, for example, might lie at the drop of a hat; but not these chaps. Say it ain’t so, Joe!
The Bryce Report was published by HMSO in 1915, translated and circulated in 30 languages, on murder, lust and pillage “over many parts of Belgium on a scale unparalleled in any war between civilised nations during the last three centuries”. It must be taken seriously. It narrates the usual drunken German soldiery; the impaled babies; and the obligatory sliced womb, stuffed a la mode husband’s head. How kinky and fixated must have been those British propagandists, ever alert to breast slicers in the front lines, the husband-head womb stuffers never far from focus.
After the war, people had time to brood. Remember that Bryce Report? How about those horror-stories?
How many witnesses had appeared for interview by that blue chip committee? None.
Where did the Report come from? Why, from 1,200 depositions by Belgian refugees.
Where were these taken? In Belgium? No! In Britain! Given the wartime demands of 1915 on ships and rail stock for moving troops and materiel to Flanders, the U-boat menace in the Channel, shortage of accommodation en route and at destination, all 1,200 were brought over to Britain?
HMSO or the Home Office must have good records, then. None?
Depositions were taken by whom? By twenty-two British barristers!
French-speaking? Flemish-speaking? Don’t know?
Did all of these 1,200 witnesses testify on oath? No? No evidence at that any did at all?
Okay, Let’s not be picky; just give us their names. Oh! You don’t know those? Why not?
Ah! Names were omitted to protect their relatives [“Just to protect the record”, as Sergeant Joe Friday used to say in “Dragnet”] back home in Belgium?
But surely the barristers looked for corroboration; on cross-examination, perhaps? No?
The two and twenty accepted hearsay evidence at full value?
But the depositions themselves were filed at the Home Office? No one could find them, then or since!
What of Belgium, then? Yes! There was a Belgian Commission of Inquiry in 1922.
What did it establish? It failed to corroborate a single major allegation in the Bryce Report! No kidding!
And yet that Bryce Report was directed to swinging America into the war. Well done! Lord Bryce, Sir Frederick, Sir Alfred, Principal Fisher, Mr Cox, and Sir Kenelm.
The Bryce Report has been discredited these eighty years past. See “The First Casualty”, Phillip Knightly, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York and London, 1975, ISBN 0-15-631130-5 pbk., pp. 83,84. That had a side effect in World War II, when it led to disbelief of true atrocity stories about the fate of Jews and others in Germany and Poland. That is where the lies brought us. Why does ORAC bring it up? Behold, it being dead yet speaketh.
The Kaiser, needless to say, personally ordered the torture of three-year old Belgian children, right down to specifying the tortures to be inflicted. Must be true: after all, the London “Financial News” said so, editorial, June 10, 1915.
16. Fisher’s book was required reading when I bought it in 1953 . I believed the agitprop. Those who opposed World War I were undesirables; rotters, socialists if not worse, sort of chap who did not play the game. Those who opposed World War II were appeasers. Poor show, old man. The more I read Bryce Reports, patronising and slanted rubbish by historians partis pris, and Mary Postgate, the greater grow my doubts.