Pen as Sword - Social Commentary

Civilization and modern English culture

Listening to and sipping a fresh pressed Dark Espresso roast. Sun’s coming up and looks like no more snow for a while. Thinking about the Aubrey-Maturin series, possibly one of the greatest literary series ever, or at least that I have read, a couple of times now, by Patrick O’Brian. Richard Snow characterized Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey-Maturin naval adventure novels as “the best historical novels ever written. On every page Mr. O’Brian reminds us with subtle artistry of the most important of all historical lessons: that times change but people don’t, that the griefs and follies and victories of the men and women who were here before us are in fact the maps of our own lives”.

Watching and thinking about the Super Tuesday chatter on American media this morning and the inevitable decline and fall of “democracy” in our great neighbour to the south. I rather think I much prefer Queens and Kings so in the words of our National Anthem:


The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II as monarch of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon took place on 2 June 1953.

God save our gracious Queen!
Long live our noble Queen!
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the Queen.

Thy choicest gifts in store
On her be pleased to pour,
Long may she reign.
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause,
To sing with heart and voice,
God save the Queen.

Not an unalloyed failure of culture and civilization but one interspersed with glimpses of what could be, shot through with golden moments amongst the dross of the daily drivel. Perhaps, rather than a picture of the inevitable end men come to, it is more a picture of what could and should be when one puts loyalty to Queen and Country and self sacrifice for the greater good above self love and self interest. I wonder what the Great Grand Windsors will inherit?

“David Warren writes that there is a photograph of our Queen, taken by Annie Leibovitz for her ninetieth birthday last week, showing her serene, and surrounded by a selection of her great-grandchildren, all properly washed. (Try here.) It broadcasts civilization, right down to the Hogarth touches (the one on her lap has Her Majesty’s spectacles, and the one to the left has her purse).

Now, I mention this to a constitutional purpose, but not the usual Loyalist one from up here in the Monarchy of the Far North — that the United Statists were wrong to rebel. (As my ancestors explained: “I choose one tyrant three thousand miles away, over three thousand tyrants one mile away.”)

Rather, I should like to advertise that our Canadian sovereign — for Elizabeth is she — has just the right amount of power, over me. It is limited by the fact that she does not know me (another non-reader, I’m afraid), and does not care if I live or die, provided that she isn’t obliged to endure the funeral. Better, she has no need to bother me with paperwork, in the meantime. I therefore hold her up as an example of good government: the very best.

Rather than ask if we continue to be worthy of her — the Jamaicans, for instance, like to flirt with republicanism, but a recent poll showed the great majority there would rather return to colonial status — we should give our attention to the rest of the executive. Are they necessary?”


My Sovereign Lady Her Britannic Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 160421_charlotte_and_queen_0

My Sovereign Lady Her Britannic Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 160421

So we think today of the very British roots of all English Western culture and our society, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. I think it helps no one to pretend in the name of PC “niceness” that we are not suffering from a surfeit of Bad and Ugly these days. But it is equally unhelpful not to acknowledge all the great good that has sprung from English culture.

63 years on and I think about the woman who has been present to me all my life, who I have owned as my sovereign and made my oath to and consider that she has done a considerably better job of it all than virtually any of the self centered contemporary western politicians of the last 60 years, all wriggling in the muck of the daily “I Love Me” show.

Having just experienced yet another exercise in electing our latest class president here in Canada, and watching  the spectacle south of the longest undefended border in the world and am truly puzzled on how one is to responsibly choose the lesser of two weevils, it seems to be not as obvious or easy as in the movie Master and Commander.



Gandalf Study

Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.