Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Monday, August 04, 2014

All Right Let's Do This

I went to the library, looking for a biography of Parnell, but there wasn't one, so I checked out a biography of Gladstone instead.  (A fitting metaphor for Irish/British history, I feel.)  (It is at this point that I would like to point out that Parnell was only half Irish, the other half being American.  You can say roughly the same of de Valera.)  (And I never pass up an opportunity to mention Gladstone's great Home Rule speech to Parliament, containing this memorable line:  "I must further say that we have proposed this measure because Ireland wants to make her own laws.  It is not enough to say that you are prepared to make good laws.  You were prepared to make good laws for the Colonies.  You did make good laws for the Colonies according to the best of your light.  The Colonists were totally dissatisfied with them.  You accepted their claim to make their own laws.  Ireland, in our opinion, has a claim not less urgent."  Are the "Colonies" what is now the U.S.?  If so, I wouldn't say that Parliament gracefully accepted "their claim to make their own laws."  And also, were there any great British speeches that weren't obsessed with the United States?  Recall this from Churchill's "finest hour" speech:  "But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science."  I appreciate the name-check, but note how he is careful to distinguish between the United States and "all that we have known and cared for."  In reality I think he mentioned the U.S. with an eye toward encouraging us to enter the war, which we weren't to do for another year and a half.  That's still better than de Valera's Ireland, which entered the war never.)

Anyway I didn't realize it at the time, but the author of the Gladstone biography, Roy Jenkins, was himself a Labour MP and indeed served as Home Secretary and (later) as Chancellor of the Exchequer.  (He even did a stint as a Social Democrat MP up in Scotland.)  So it is a book written by a prominent British politician about a prominent British politician.  I will not reveal which publishing house published the book in the United Kingdom, leaving that as an exercise for the reader.


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