English Identity 114 Years Ago

Last summer I was spending the day at a National Trust garden in Cornwall with friends and family. At the end of our dreary, rainy tour (typical) I went into the second-hand book shop adjacent to the gift shop with the vague hope of finding something obscure and awesome, possibly historical (as a history PhD I often scour such places for interesting trinkets). After much rummaging around I found a small, tatty red book titled “King Edward’s Realm,” a souvenir that was printed to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII (June 26th 1902). For those who are unfamiliar with “recent” British History, King Edward VII was the eldest son of Queen Victoria who came to the throne at the ripe old age of fifty-nine. He was a prolific gambler and playboy who had his own siege d’amour crafted for his personal use at the famed French brothel Le Chabanais. Hardy a paragon of Christian virtue was the future fidei defensor. Now, I’m typically not that much interested in Edwardian history for the simple reason that, as a medievalist, I consider Industrial Age/Modern history to be utterly depressing and unworthy of serious scholarly inquiry. Quite frankly everything started to go really, horribly wrong with Western traditions and society after 1815 [not 1814 — that was a good year, sorry America], if not as early as c. 1760 (as far as I’m concerned the inception of Western decline was 1054, but that’s entirely another story). However, once I started reading this rare tome I saw that its focus was, in actual fact, much broader than its title would suggest. Specifically it is oriented to be a popular history of the British Empire from c. 1475-1902 for the general consumption of the English peoples across the empire. This assuaged my initial concerns somewhat, and having delved a little deeper I quickly came to realise its immense value to conservative-minded folks, in particular those who wish to connect more with their Anglo-sphere roots and observe first-hand the type of semi-organic, “establishment” patriotism that existed in Europe during La Belle Époque.

The reason for this understanding is that King Edward’s Realm provides its readers with an unapologetically strong and forthright understanding of English history, heritage, and identity in order to explain the origins of the Empire and its continuing relationship with its founding people. In other words, it explains how the Empire is a unique product and living embodiment of (White) English, identity, skills, and values. Now as the entire book is a testament to the (then) healthy state of English nationalistic sentiment and the quality of English grammar, I am unable to share all of it with you, dear reader, (short of scanning the whole thing — which I will not do in its current dilapidated state). But as I want to offer an insight into how the expression of White English Imperialism was conveyed to the average citizen and to point towards methods that those on “the Right” might seek to employ to greater rouse their kith, kin, or thede, including the inert general public, and (perhaps) better engage with the otherwise “cucked” and “bluepilled,” I will provide some interesting highlights. I hope that the following extracts — which have been cited unadulterated (except any errors on my part) — will make those with hopes of the continued, or renewed, existence of our people, amid the steamy destruction of the West at the hands of our eternal enemies (both internal and external), beam with pride, cry in desperation, and rage against the heavens, at the clear sense of belonging, might, and purpose, that flourished in our (recent) ancestors hearts and minds. What follows are some fantastic encapsulations of the glorious “heart of oak” spirit of the English peoples one-hundred and fourteen years ago.

Excerpt 1: Preface (complete).

As Englishmen we have been born into a great inheritance, which we hold in common with our kinsmen in all parts of the Empire. It is quite time that all who share in its possession should have some knowledge of the way in which it has been founded and built up, and should learn something of the great men under whose guidance and inspiration the work has been done.

The writer has attempted to impart such knowledge in an attractive form, avoiding mere dry details, and that closely-packed synopsis of facts which may be desirable in a work intended for a student preparing for examination. But this little work is not written for the student, but as a pleasant course of reading for young or old, who desire to know something of the men who have made the Empire, and of the principal events which stand out as mile-stones on the road along which our nation has travelled.

Whilst selecting the more picturesque parts of the story of empire for special treatment, an endeavour has been made to keep up the community of the narrative, so as to enable the reader to trace the connection between events, their results and causes, and to help in sustaining his intelligent interest from page to page throughout the book. An endeavour has also been made to foster that imperial spirit which takes a true pride in what our forefathers have achieved, which resolves to hold what they have won, and which broadens our view of public questions by setting them in relation to the interests of the empire at large.

Excerpt 2: Introduction: “The Empire and its Living Link” (incomplete).

1. A glance at the map of the world in which the part of the British Empire are coloured may well fill us with astonishment that the little spot marked England has expanded into an empire that covers one-sixth of the habitable globe, and measures more than one hundred time as much as the island that forms its heart and home. …

8. The British Empire it is true, is scattered over the face of the globe, but in some respects this is an advantage. Being so widely sundered its different portions differ much in climate and productions, and thus can the better supply each others’ wants. England for instance, serves as the great manufacturing shop for her colonies, whilst they in return send her the raw material for her factories and food for her children. England, indeed, would soon suffer from famine if a constant supply of did not come from other lands. To insure this supply without interruption to our traffic, we must be able to keep the seas open to our merchant-ships whether in peace or war, and for this purpose our navy must be supreme.

9. Nothing is more interesting in the story we have to tell than the daring exploits of our seamen, by which we have risen to the command of the seas, and we are able to sing Rule Britannia with the proud happy feeling that Britannia does indeed still rule the waves, and that as far as in us lies it shall never cease to do so, since it is only by “ruling the waves” that we can look to the sea as a friend that unites the whole family of English-speaking peoples, and enables them to aid one another.

10. But we need something warmer than sea-water to unite us all, and make us in heart and mind one people, in whatever quarter of the globe we live, and this is the spirit and sentiment that spring from the fact that we are of kindred race, that we all speak the same language, read the same books, enjoy the same freedom, make our own laws, and passionately love justice and fair-play. …

11. As a symbol of that unity we have one king, one flag. The king, indeed, is more than a symbol of unity, he is a link, a living link, that actually binds that parts together. Every true Briton, throughout the empire, looks to the sovereign as the head of the centre of national life, from whom to administer the laws, or exercise command in the army or navy, derive their authority. …

Excerpt 3: Chapter I: “England preparing for Empire,” Part 2: “Invention of Fire-Arms” (incomplete).

5. In the last chapter we have spoken of the beneficial effects of the effects of the printing press. Can we speak in the same way of gunpowder? It may seem strange to talk about gunpowder as if any good could result from its use, but it would be a mistake to think that the work it has done in the world has been wholly bad, for there are times when force is the only argument that can convince, when force is the only way of putting down evil. In reality it has played a large part in the making of our empire, and, therefore, in establishing the reign of justice and order.

6. It was by means of fire-arms that our forefathers were able to gain a secure footing in the countries of uncivilised races, to make new homes among them, and to establish law and order in their midst. It was by the superior weapons of the white man — a superiority due to the use of gunpowder — that he was able to prevail over the Red Indians of America, the Negroes and Kaffirs of Africa, and the Cannibals of New Zealand. To the simple savage there is something magical in the effect of fire-arms. …

7. Even when the natives are brave and well-armed, like the Zulus, with their terrible assegais, they cannot stand against one-tenth as many Englishmen armed with repeating rifles, and supported by maxim guns, grinding out bullets by the score. It was never more evident than it is to-day that “Knowledge is Power,” and that the greatness of a nation is based on knowledge and character. …

Excerpt 4: Chapter III: “Expansion by Conquest,” Part 2: “A Famous Victory and a Lucky Capture” (incomplete).

(On the Battle of Blenheim.)

5. … The French horsemen fired their carbines, wheeled, and fled. This decided the day.

Excerpt 5: Chapter V: “Progress of India and the Colonies (Since 1815),” Part 4: “The Good of the Governed” (incomplete).

(On the services of Lord Bentinck as governor-general of India.)

3. A still greater service, perhaps, was putting an end to the custom of suttee. When any Hindu died, his widow was expected, in some parts of India, to accompany him to the next world by throwing herself into his funeral pile, and perishing in the flames. So common was the practice that in a single year, in Bengal alone, seven hundred widows were burnt alive. To this day the country is, in certain districts, thickly dotted with little white pillars, each in memory of a suttee. Lord Bentinck made a proclamation declaring that henceforth all who took pant in a suttee would be held guilty of murder.

4. When Bentinck’s seven years of office were over, a statue was erected to his memory with this inscription:

William Cavendish Bentinck
Who Infused Into Oriental Despotism The Spirit
Of British Freedom
Who Never Forgot That The End of Government Is
The Happiness Of The Governed

Excerpt 6: Chapter V cont., Part 4: “Bars to Progress (Australia)” (incomplete).

5. As the native productions of Australia are of little service to man, it is not surprising to find that the natives a low order of savages. There is no bond of union between them. They consist of many tribes, always ready to go to war with each other. It is supposed that about 50,000 survive, but through intemperance, wars and diseases, their numbers are gradually dwindling. They have already disappeared from the more settled parts, but as such a large proportion of Australia is uninhabitable by white men, they will probably long linger in the more remote quarters of the continent.

6. Like all wandering savages, their senses are remarkably acute, and their skill and cunning in hunting and snaring beasts and birds can hardly be surpassed. …

7. The natives were at first a source of great trouble to the settlers. They stole their sheep and ran off with their horse, caused their cattle to stampede, and killed their shepherds and herdsmen. But as the colonist never moved out of doors without this firearms, they soon gained a wholesome dread of his power. …

Excerpt 7: Chapter V cont., Part 13: “A Great Extension of British Territory (South Africa)” (incomplete).

(On the settlement of Rhodesia.)

8. It was however, difficult to make a settlement here, because it was partly occupied by the warlike Matabele, a tribe akin to the dreaded Zulus. Their king, Lobengula, kept an army of 10,000 warriors, who lived only for the joy of fighting. … Before two years had passed it became quite clear that the Matabele warriors must be crushed before any progress could be made. Thanks to our machine-guns and modern rifles, this was soon affected.

Excerpt 8: Chapter VI: “Unity of the Empire,” Part 1: “Growth of the Empire” (incomplete).

2. But the colonies which are peopled mainly by our own kinsmen enjoy with us the advantage of liberty in its fullest sense. It is worthwhile considering what is included in that liberty. It means the right to form our own opinion on all subjects, and to express the same freely, without injury to others, in speaking or writing. It means the right for employers and workmen, like buyers and sellers, to settle their own terms without interference. It means the right to worship God according to conscience without having to suffer penalties or disabilities on account of our religion. It means the right to be governed according to law, and to be judged without fear; and above all, the right to take part in the levying taxes and making new laws by means of our representatives in government.

3. So far as a people enjoys the last right named, it may in a real sense be said to govern itself. And it is this self-government which constitutes the crown of liberty. Only it must be remembered that it is not every nation, nor all in any nation, that are fit to govern themselves. Some nations are like children, not wise enough to know what is for their own good. Every nation, indeed passes though the stages of childhood and youth before it reaches an age when it becomes capable of managing its own affairs with discretion.

4. In the colonies where men of our race have chiefly settled, the period of childhood and youth has soon passed away, because I suppose their ancestors had spent a long period in these stages in the old country. …

5. Much of what is here said about us resolves itself into one great characteristic, which stamps us all as one people, in whatever part of the empire we may chance to live, and that is the passionate love of justice or fair-play. What men of our race ask for is a fair field and no favour.

Evidently, the Empire was built upon and preserved by the efforts of men of iron; matter-of-fact conquerors possessed of profound vision and purpose; men who felt no shame in recalling or promoting both the glory and power of their peoples. Only the dire consequences of industrial war and the treat of nuclear suicide could lay them low and leave our peoples prey to the insidious machinations of demented, genocidal ideologies and peoples. This book teaches its readers that the English race is a mighty, nigh unstoppable, force for good, one that is capable of great feats when it is unleashed upon the world on its own terms. Today we should strive to re-forge a sense of the Imperial spirit so that we are able to rise again and bring the world to heel without remorse or regret. Rule Britannia!

Arcane Archivist

O lente, lente currite, noctis equi!

4 thoughts on “English Identity 114 Years Ago

  1. Very good, but I can’t help but be disappointed with the British Empire; I find it difficult to have any profound attachment to it as I do the exploits of Ælfred. The Empire existed as an exertion of will merely on the horizontal plane, on the plane of force and money. Whilst indeed such an exertion is a positive thing — a sign of good health and vigour on the part of the British people — the lack of verticality apparent in the Empire, its secularism, makes it difficult for me to really latch-upon it one-hundred percent. Had we had an Emperor who emphasised the Faith in that period, things might’ve been different. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. The Empire was an opportunity missed for the English — and the British as a whole — to apply Ælfred’s vision on a grand scale: instead of the warrior and philosopher leading at the front lines, it was the merchant and banker. A dreadful pity.

    1. Such was inevitable with the abandonment of Catholicism. It’s not an accident that mercantilism (which is essentially pre-industrial capitalism) became entrenched in the Protestant nations. As they were Judaizers, they were much more tolerant of the Jews, who fueled their economies through usury. During the colonial period, the Netherlands had the largest navy in the world despite being a relatively new, and small, country. (((Dutch banking))) allowed them to expand massively. Cromwell realized that it was largely the Jews contributing to Dutch success, which is why he invited them back in. Anglicanism’s “middle way” is still too Protestant, which is why the British shifted their attention to the “lower.” Whereas Spain, though certainly focused on money and colonization, became the center of Catholic learning after the Reformation. The Spanish quest for the conversion of the Americas is quite unlike anything the British Empire accomplished, despite its impressive feats.

      1. Another difference between Protestant North America and Catholic South America is that in the south the Indians are still there, whereas in the north they were subject to genocide. In South America (& the formerly Spanish north) the natives were given protection against merchant interests by the missions, especially the Jesuits. Gold-hunters such as Cortes weren’t the only story. The more-than-nominal Catholics saw the Indians as souls to be protected and saved.

  2. It is easy to get enthralled by imperial nostalgia… I too did as a kid in Spain. However empires seldom or never benefit the home country.

    J.A. Hobson’s “Imperialism: A Study” (1902) makes that case with tons of data to back it up. A book worth checking for those interested in economics. Lenin is believed to have heavily plagiarized it for his “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism” (1917).

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