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PAUSE FOR THOUGHT
|The glories of our blood and state|
Are shadows, not substantial things;
There is no armour against fate;
Death lays his icy hand on kings:
Sceptre and crown
Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crooked scythe and spade.
|Fear no more the heat o' the sun,|
Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone and ta'en thy wages;
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.
|E'en such is time, which takes in trust|
Our youth, our joys, and all we have,
And pays us naught but age and dust;
Which in the dark and silent grave,
When we have wandered all our ways,
Shuts up the story of our days.
And from which grave, and earth, and dust,
The Lord shall raise me up, I trust.
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in their dust.
Among the numerous acts of weakness, self-indulgence and secret treachery committed by the sleazy dynasty of Stuarts, the public execution of Sir Walter Ralegh, 1618, ordered by James I, in order to curry favour with the King of Spain, must be accounted the most craven and foul-smelling.
It has been convincingly suggested that this vile act, on its own, remorselessly led in return to the public trial and execution of Charles I; just as the desecration of the grave of Robert Blake ultimately led to the ejection of James II.
King James I's tongue was so big that whenever he ate he would slobber his food all over the table. Throughout his life he had a tendency to dribble and stutter. He was baptised a Catholic, but that was not his fault. He has been strenuously rehabilitated by modern revisionist historians. History is only a version of events, and that's a fact.
Recently it has been claimed that "Many historians now trace the origins of modern globalization to the eighteenth century, pointing to the global circulation of goods, labour, and information as its defining feature." Huh? Eighteenth century? John Dee, who created the concept of the British Empire, died in 1608. The reason it was to be British was because he was the Welsh wizard serving Queen Bess, and she (as also later Oliver Cromwell) was of Welsh origin.
John Dee, 1527 - 1608
Many modern British histories, such as, eg, Linda Colley's popular Britons, 1992, start from far too late a terminus a quo, in her case 1707. Every good American knows in his heart that history did not begin until the 1770s, and is delighted to be told that his country's values are a vast improvement on those that came before. Liberty gave him the freedom to drive his slaves with unbridled vigour, and extend his genocidal land-hunger ever further west. Is there something just a touch ambivalent about Linda's sub-title, "forging the nation"? What about shaping the nation? In fact, the nation had already been shaped, much, much earlier.
No doubt it is because of her time-frame, 1707-1837, in her book Britons, that Colley virtually omits what, to my mind, are three vital threads in the creation of the British nation. [A]. There is very little about the Fleet; no mention at all, for instance, of George Byng, Lord Torrington, or Admiral Vernon. Byng's shattering defeat of Spain at Cape Passaro, 1718, was a critical pointer to Britannia's total domination of the seas by 1759. Vernon's capture of Porto Bello in 1739 uncompromisingly spelt out the British challenge. [B]. There is no mention at all of the Huguenots: scour the index in vain. The influx of 50,000 Protestant French craftsmen is the greatest ever single formative body of immigrants to the British Isles --- in percentage terms. David Garrick's grandfather, immediately on arriving in England, launched his privateers: The Protestant Cause, and The Revenge. [C]. Most importantly, there is a total absence of any reference to the Marranos and Conversos initially ejected from Portugal and Spain, who, as endenizened English Jews, largely as a result of the policies of Oliver Cromwell, came to flourish remarkably during the length and breadth of the 18th century; and arguably supplied the ultimate impetus to the final triumph of Britain's empire of the seas.
A rapid glance through Colley's later book, Captives, 2002, which only today (17 February 2012) has come into my hands, suggests to me that it is actually a much better work than Britons. At least, that was my impression until I reached page 247. There, I discovered a reproduction of the East Indiaman painting which appears at top left of this very web-page. To my astounded astonishment and horror, I found it to be attributed to an otherwise unknown painter called Paul Monamy ! Well, we all nod: my own shame at confusing a ship's ensign staff with her jackstaff, in print, will mortify me on my deathbed.
Captives is subtitled Britain, Empire and the World, 1600-1850, which explains why it appears to address the shaping of Britain from a more constructive starting-date. The title is somewhat bewildering, however, when one finds out that the captives are actually the empire-builders themselves. It's an unexpected cultural bouleversement of traditionally received opinion. Of great interest is this comment (p xi): "The illustrations in this book form an integral part of the text". In a manner rather similar to this website, it could be said that the text is pictorially driven.. Or is that an exaggeration?
22 February, 2012. More solid reading matter arrives. Try From Strangers to Citizens: The Integration of Immigrant Communities in Britain, Ireland and Colonial America, 1550-1750; edited by Randolph Vigne and Charles Littleton, 2001. Here, at last, is the meaty stuff I have been looking for, and which should be seized upon by anyone who takes these matters seriously. But does anyone?
see next page
Above, top, are Ralegh's famous words, but I have not yet discovered when they first appeared in print. They cannot have failed to inspire Robert Blake, the true founder of England's maritime ascendancy, who paved the way for all that followed.
Colley, in Britons, p 65, does quote Lord Haversham, 1707, "Your fleet and your trade have so near a relation, and such a mutual influence upon each other they cannot be well separated; your trade is the mother and nurse of your seamen; your seamen are the life of your fleet, and your fleet is the security amd protection of your trade, and both together are the wealth, strength, security and glory of Britain." Haversham was simply re-cycling Ralegh, as no doubt he knew.
English art history has been mendaciously distorted over the centuries by arbiters of taste. Here are three quotes:
1. From The English Connoisseur, 1767, by Thomas Martyn, quoting Walpole, Preface, page ii:
"It should be observed in commendation of the taste which our countrymen in general have showed, that they have preferred the greatness of design and composition in which the Italian masters are so well known to excel, before the gaudy Flemish colouring, or 'the drudging mimicry of nature's most uncomely coarsenesses', upon which the Dutch so much value themselves."
2. From The Harbours of England, first published 1856, by John Ruskin, and 1895, pages 27-43:
"Shipping, therefore, in its perfection, never can become the subject of noble art … A ship never yet has been painted at all … in the technical ship-painting the life of the ship is always lost … Dutch painters … having, in reality, never in all their lives seen the sea, but only a shallow mixture of sea-water and sand … Dutch marine paintings may be simply, but circumstantially, described as the misrepresentation of undeveloped shipping in a discoloured sea by distempered painters". Ruskin went insane from time to time, and it has been noted that critics who feel unhappy with Ruskin's judgments attribute them to insanity. In his writings on "shipping", excerpts above from the 1895 edition of Harbours, the man seems to be completely off his rocker.
3. From The Spirit of Britain, a narrative history of the arts, 1999, by Sir Roy Strong, page 680:
"The landscape looms large, and yet ironically England's economic greatness was owed to the sea, to maritime endeavour, but there is no great literature of the sea, nor great school of marine painters."
No great literature of the sea. Fantastic! What planet does Sir Roy inhabit? The Spirit of Britain?
Masefield, Conrad, Kipling, Arnold, Stevenson, Tennyson, Coleridge, Marvell, Shakespeare, Chapman, Hakluyt, the line stretches out to the edge of doom. Are these writers insufficiently great?
|Give me a spirit that on this life’s rough sea|
Loves t’ have his sails fill’d with a lusty wind,
Even till his sail-yards tremble, his masts crack,
And his rapt ship run on her side so low
That she drinks water, and her keel ploughs air.
|There is no danger to a man, that knows|
What life and death is: there's not any law
Exceeds his knowledge; neither is it lawful
That he should stoop to any other law.
Here is some more drivel from some unknown person who should know better: "Peter Monamy was one of the first English artists to continue the tradition of Willem van de Velde the Younger's marine painting into the 18th century and his work is representative of the early British school of maritime art, which still shows the overwhelming influence of the Dutch style. Monamy was self-taught, but may have worked in van de Velde's studio in Greenwich." Utter garbage ! Monamy wasn't an artist --- he was a painter. When the van de Veldes left Greenwich, Monamy was eight years old. He was underwhelmed by their influence.
Capt. Gardiner's last words, before engaging the Foudroyant, 1758: "This ship must be taken, she appears above our match, but Englishmen are not to mind that, nor will I quit her while this ship can swim, or I have a soul left alive."
a technical and lifeless piece by Monamy.
Ruskin: in the technical ship-painting the life of the ship is always lost. Bravo, John.
the misrepresentation of undeveloped shipping in a discoloured sea
J.M.W.Turner is celebrated among the semi-educated for his innovative employment of "the selective fall of light". "Instead of merely recording factually what he saw, Turner translated scenes into a light-filled expression of his own romantic feelings."
Feel like a good laugh? Here's an excruciating joke.
Monamy lacks light expression here: couldn't be less romantic.
"In one view ... the history of scholarship is a history of error".
"When we are confronted with the expression of the mind of someone long dead, embodied in a work of art, ..... we have to develop a technique of questioning, asking questions which arise out of the work itself."
Helen Gardner, 1959. The Business of Criticism.
What a curse it is to be burdened with a critical mind.
"Mediocre minds cannot understand it when a man does not submit to hereditary prejudices."
Albert Einstein: amateur mathematician
Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.
"Monamy's paintings don't seem to be primarily about the ships."
Exceptionally perceptive artist visitor to the Monamy exhibition, 2009.
Raving insanity from an OUP Dictionary, 1988
truth lies at the bottom of an inexhaustible well
incipient globalization 2000 BC
Monamy: forging the Nation: 1681-1749
Raleigh, Rawleigh, Rawlegh, Ralegh, etc
sea trade sea power
chronology & authenticity
monamy moonlight oils
monamy website index
© Charles Harrison-Wallace 2012
all rights reserved
A Reading List
|Wallace, Willard M.|
|Sir Walter Raleigh|
That Great Lucifer: A Portrait of Sir Walter Ralegh
The Governorship of Sir Walter Ralegh in Jersey
Ralegh's Last Journey
Bess: Wife to Sir Walter
For the spelling of Sir Walter's name, see Mathew Lyons, here.