Monday, November 16, 2015

Today -100: November 16, 1915: You’ll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race



Motto of the Day -100:


Winston Churchill gives a speech to Parliament, refuting point by point the charges against him for his many miscalculations as head of the Admiralty, and specifically denying that he had imposed policies against the advice of career Navy officers and experts. In other words, he’s trying to spread the blame for the Dardanelles campaign and earlier disasters as widely as possible. And he says of his decision to join the military, “I alone have open to me an alternative form of service whereto no exception can be taken and wherewith I am perfectly content.” Winnie certainly had a way wherewhichwith archaic adverbial forms.

Woodrow Wilson orders that Assistant Postmaster George Burkitt of Winnetka, Illinois be reinstated. He was fired for saying that Wilson should have waited longer after his first wife died before getting engaged (and for many other offenses).

George Bernard Shaw’s playlet O’Flaherty V.C.: A Recruiting Pamphlet is banned by the censors ahead of a production at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. The hero, who joined the army to get away from his family and from small town Ireland, as you do, will now on his return home have to explain his decision to his Fenian mother. “She’s like the English: they think there’s no one like themselves. It’s the same with the Germans, though they’re educated and ought to know better. You’ll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race.”

In my Complete Plays, it says this play was “first performed on the Western Front Belgium 1917.” Take that, censors. In the preface to the (postwar) published edition, Shaw notes that when he wrote this play recruitment of Irish Catholics was going badly. “To attract them, the walls were covered with placards headed REMEMBER BELGIUM. The folly of asking an Irishman to remember anything when you want him to fight for England was apparent to everyone outside the [Dublin] Castle”. Another line from the preface: “Finally the British blockade won the war; but the wonder is that the British blockhead did not lose it.”


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