Posts Tagged ‘England’

This day the Mother of all Wars was born. Britain declared war on Germany which wanted a war, not out of any solid reasons than spite. Sheer spite. This War was an unwanted baby that would show how wars in future shall be fought. Not for glory as in the times of Alexander of Macedon but for the sheer perverseness of peoples coalescing into the hands of a few. The Military Class in Germany and the Kaiser’s wilfulness closed ranks to make a war necessary. The English nobs that called the shots wanted to cut the Hohenzollern to size.

‘On July 24 1914 the British cabinet met to discuss the diplomatic situation in Europe, which had deteriorated rapidly since the assassination of the Austrian archduke, Franz Ferdinand, a month before. An Austrian invasion of Serbia now appeared imminent, threatening to spark a regional military crisis that might easily escalate into a general war between the Great Powers.
The sense of foreboding in London was captured in a letter sent by the prime minister, Herbert Asquith, to his confidante Venetia Stanley. The situation was “about as bad as it can possibly be”, he wrote, and Europe now stood on the brink of “a real Armageddon”. Nevertheless, Asquith felt able to reassure Stanley. “Happily there seems to be no reason why we should be anything more than spectators.”
Eleven days later, on August 4, Britain declared war on Germany.
In retrospect, Asquith’s words seem strangely complacent. At the time, however, his assumption that Britain might stand aside from the looming European conflagration reflected the hopes and beliefs of a majority of his political colleagues and supporters. This, after all, was a Liberal government which had won a landslide general election victory in 1906 under the slogan of: “Peace, Retrenchment and Reform” ‘.
By the same light we can see the sanctimonious approach to International politics by statesmen especially President Wilson who expressed the wish after the war was won that it was ‘a war to end all wars’.
(quoted from Mathew Johnson article /the Conversation/Aug.4,2014)


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Lord Palmerston,Henry Temple,3rd Viscount(1774-1865)
In 1816 while in charge of the War Office, he came under criticism from the radical MP’s for keeping a standing army even after the threat of Bonaparte was long past.Some of the Tories also sided with them and demanded that the military costs should be drastically reduced. Palmerston reminded them that the Army always became unpopular after every war was over and told them the story of the soldiers who marched out of London against the Jacobites in 1745.
“There goes our brave guards!”there go the pillars of the State.” Cried the people.
“Aye,”said one of the veterans,”but when we have licked the enemy the cry will be.’there go the caterpillars of the State.”
In keeping with many aristocrats of his time he was arrogant and had a condescending attitude towards trading class. He kept the tradesmen to whom he owed waiting for months before he settled their bills. One butcher who suffered on account of his social position, once  forced his way into Palmerston’s presence and insisted on immediate satisfaction. Palmerston wrote out a check for that amount and then putting on a glove in the presence of the butler, picked up the pen as if it were a defiled object and threw it out of the window.
As a Foreign Secretary he did not endear himself to the clerks at the Foreign Office and he was nicknamed by them as’Protocol Palmerston’. None dared calling him to his face. During the confusion caused by a fire at the FO while people panicked one clerk opened the door in which Palmerston was waiting and called out,”Take care the Protocols!” Before a furious Palmerston could take a goodlook at him he ran down the stairs and made good of his escape.
His arrogance and self importance was such even no less worthy a person as Tallerand the French ambassador was made to wait for two hours. One minister while cooling his heels in his anteroom on an afternoon consoled himself reading the whole of Richardson’s ‘Clarissa’.
Because of his weak eyes Palmerston insisted his subordinates write out documents as large as he did himself. He was very stickler for the size. One clerk ventured to play a joke on his chief and once wrote the document in letters unusually larger than the norm. But Palmerston not to be outdone made comments on it thus: ‘ The writer of this paper would write an excellent hand if he wrote a little larger.’
(Lord Palmerston- Sir. Jasper Ridley-Pub: Constable&Co,London)

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Lord Melbourne when he was the Chief Secretary to Ireland ran his office in an unorthodox manner allowing Protestants and Catholics and seditious elements to approach him directly with their problems. One day a little boy, the son of a subordinate was brought in to be shown his room at the office.
“Is there anything you’d like here?”William asked him kindly. The child chose a stick of sealing wax. “That is right my boy,”said William pressing a bundle of pens into his hands,”begin life early. All these things belong to the public, and your business is to get out of the public as much as you can.”

Melbourne as the First Minister got along famously with the young Victoria who was still in her teens. She looked for guidance to the elder statesman during his official morning visits. Once when during dessert he had taken two apples she queried why he had taken two when he was unlikely to eat more than one he replied: “I would like to have the power of doing so.”(Ack: Melbourne-David Cecil)

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