It is timely to be reminded that the burning of books associated with totalitarian regimes was a feature of British society, and it was Today in 1660, a time of the restored monarchy under Charles II, which saw a Resolution passed by the House of Commons.
It read: ‘That his Majesty be humbly moved to call in [John] Milton’s two books (the Conoelastes and the Defensio) and that of John Goodwin ( the Obstructors of Justice), written in justification of the murder of the late King, and order them to be burned by the Common Hangman; and that the Attorney-General do proceed against them by indictment or otherwise’.
On the 27th August following as many copies of the offending books as could be met with, were publicly burned and it was reported that, ’The said John Milton and John Goodwin are so fled’.
However the Act of Indemnity and Oblivion, within three days after the burning ‘relieved the poet from his enforced concealment’.
Restriction on free speech has always been alive and well in Britain’s past, and the Licensing Order of Charles I of June 1643 saw pre-publication censorship in England.
It was against this that the Puritan and liberal John Milton in his 1644 Areopagitica railed against, arguing as he did for a free press and opposed to any unwarrantable power, whether political or ecclesiastical.
Milton as a Republican and writer was always going to be in trouble at the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, especially as a one-time backer of the execution of Charles I, and as one who had spent ten years as Cromwell’s Latin Secretary composing his dispatches to foreign governments.
Then it was Milton who had been commissioned by Parliamentarians to write a riposte to the Eikon Basilike (Royal Portrait) supposedly written by Charles I as a treatise on Monarchy.
When Charles was executed he quickly became much more than a failed political leader for popular books such as the Eikon Basilike created the idea that he was martyred in defence of the Church. When the monarchy was restored in 1660, this was not an idea that anyone wished to discourage.
Published by Milton as Eikonoklastes (image breaker), it portrayed Charles and his notion of absolute monarchy as idols, no doubt ready to be toppled.
Milton’s Iconoclastes and Defensio pro Populo Anglican, contained sentiments which the restored King Charles and his Court couldn’t tolerate. So the Restoration saw greater need for censorship, with printing requiring a permit from the Stationers’ Company, though the Act expired in 1679, censorship in its many form was set to continue for two centuries.
In 1658 Milton, a year before Oliver Cromwell died, started to write Paradise Lost, which attempted to show that God had led them through the conflicts of 1650.s and then had abandoned them in 1660.
In 1671 Milton wrote ‘Paradise Regained’ where the Biblical Jesus finally triumphs over Satan.
Newspapers were once considered a luxury and the taxes on their publication was justified in that they wouldn’t affect the poor, but they did constitute a form of censorship.
Today the Royal Assent was given to the abolition of the Stamp Act in 1855 which came into effect on the 1st of next month.
The Stamp Act of 1712, of 1d a sheet, on all newspapers was to increase revenue to be used to fund a lottery encouraging people to buy bonds to finance the War of the Spanish Succession.
By 1815 the tax had increased so the Times newspaper cost 6d of which 4d was tax, and publishers had also to pay duties on advertising and the paper for the printing.
This was the era of revolutionary ferment after the Napoleonic Wars and the repression of the later Peterloo uprising when the authorities were frightened that radical ideas could be spread by newspapers and pamphlets.
To stifle this under the repressive Six Acts, a tax on newspapers and pamphlets was now expanded to all publications sold for less than 6d which dared to express an opinion. Also any meeting for radical reform was considered as an ‘overt act of treasonable conspiracy’.(1)
One publisher Richard Carlile, bravely ignored the Tax who apart from publishing the radical works of Tom Paine’s ‘Age of Reason’, was critical of the Church of England in The Republican.
Found guilty in October 1819 of Blasphemy and Sedition he was imprisoned at Dorchester for three years and fined £1,500. Then in 1835 a destitute man was jailed for 4 years for selling the above newspaper. He was one of many sentenced for similar ‘crimes’.
The previous year The Poor Law Commissioners’ Report said: ‘The dearness of newspapers in this country is an insurmountable obstacle to the education of the poor. I could name twenty villages within a circuit of a few miles in which a newspaper is never seen….’ In 1836 the tax was reduced.
The hated ‘Trinity of Taxes’ regarded as a tax on knowledge was eventually to be abolished by Liberal Prime Minister, Gladstone in three Acts: on Advertising in 1853, on Newspapers in 1855, with the tax on paper following in 1861.
The Daily Telegraph was launched on 29th June 1855, cutting its price from 2d to 1d on 17th September, and soon to have the largest circulation in the world.
New forms of journalism such as the Illustrated London News and the Manchester Guardian arrived as dozens of papers were now being published. By 1871 the Daily News was published as a 1d daily. The new literate working class had now won the freedom to be informed: democratic voting was to follow.
(1) Introduced by Henry Addington 1st Viscount Sidmouth, it passed Parliament by December 30th 1819 despite Whig opposition. One of the leaders in the Tory Government responsible was Lord Castlereagh, the unpopular Leader of the House in the Lord Liverpool Government.
‘If to collect cigarette cards is a sign of eccentricity, how then will posterity judge one who amassed the biggest collection in the world?’ ‘Frankly I care not’.
The words of Edward Wharton-Tygar who died Today in 1995. Sometime businessman, SOE Agent, and who as a Phillumenist was the owner of the largest collection of some 2 million cigarette cards, confirmed by The Guinness Book of Records and which now reposes in the British Museum. (1)
One of the earliest tobacco companies was James Taddy and Company founded in 1740, which by 1897 was issuing cards featuring ‘Actresses’, and in 1907 issued a series of ‘Footballers’, oval-shaped, in black and white (below left), and ‘Clowns and Circus Artistes’, (below right).
However in 1920 the workers complained about wages and working conditions which the Company refused to meet and therefore ceased trading.
Cigarette cards came out originally to stiffen paper packets then the advertising benefits became apparent.
WD and HO Wills in 1887 were one of the first to include cards, followed by the John Player series, in 1893, ’Castles and Abbeys’.
Then Ogden’s in 1894/5 issued ‘Ships and Sailors’ and ‘Cricketers’ in 1896 and in 1906 brought out their ’Footballers’, one of the first in colour.
Below are some of the 50 ‘Action’ cards issued by Players in October 1928, followed by another 25 in February 1929.
In September 1934 Players issued a series: ‘Hints on Association Football’ (above and below).
Many tobacco companies were to be found in ports which imported tobacco: Glasgow ( Arthur Gale & Co Ltd) and Liverpool and London especially.
Early cigarette Brands had exotic names: Camel, Lucky Dream, Myrtle Grove, Twin Screw, Ark Royal, Three Birds, Workman, Star, Salome, Trap (Dog Racing).
Kensitas logo had its butler and tray and, ‘As good as really good cigarettes can be’. The ‘Winged Horse’ logo of Turf Cigarettes.
Military association names saw Greys, Guards; heroes; Sir John Lubbock, Lord Tennyson, Charles Bradlaugh Lord Baden-Powell and Grace Darling. Foreign service in Diplomat, Ambassador, Embassy and Consulate. London names: Pall Mall, Piccadilly and the ill-starred Strand.
‘Karam’ from Major Drapkin & Co Ltd, ‘Kilties’ (showing a Highland Dancer) from D&J Macdonald’s Glasgow; ‘Virginia Beauties’ from Singleton & Cole, Birmingham.
One of last famous designers of ‘faggies’ was Frank Henry Mason the watercolour painter of marine subjects who did the art-work for Player’s ‘Sea tramps and Traders’ 1938, and the October 1939 series, ‘British Naval Craft’, one of the last produced owing to paper shortage in the early days of WWII.
(1) President of the Cartophile Society of GB to 1995.
Ref: Punch Magazine. April 24 1968. E.S. Turner. p.599.
Ref: Wills’ Family. Wikipedia.org.
Ref: spartacus-ed.com/Pic of footballer.
Ref: ebay.Taddy Cigarette Cards/Pic.
The blitzes on London, Coventry and other places are well-documented, but on the night of 13th and 14th June, 1943 another area was targeted, but in another form.
It started in the Air Raid Precautions (ARP) Centre in the basement of Grimsby’s Municipal Offices as messages were arriving at the rate of one every six seconds and a ‘red alert’ sounded, after a heavy formation of bombers had been reported heading up the Humber Estuary.
Hull which had already taken a pounding over the years was thought to be the target, but before long ‘‘immediate danger’ replaced the earlier ‘alert’.
It was a time when everyone thought the worst of the bombing was over as there hadn’t been a serious raid since August 1942.
Grimsby’s 92,000 residents and those of nearby Cleethorpes had been used to bombing and the raid on this night did not seem unusual where by 1943 the local docks had been run by the Admiralty for repairs to minesweepers, many of which had been requisitioned from trawlers.
The Home Office concluded that by the attack, the Germans had misinterpreted the activity for an embarkation to invade Europe; whatever the reason within 48 hours, 66 were dead and 100.s injured.
What was so unusual was the nature of the bombs, weighing about 2 kgs and designated SD2 ‘Butterfly Bombs’ so named because of their shape.
They rained down in their thousands, lodging everywhere in hedges, gutters, sewers, as a result they were picked-up and kicked around with devastating results. It took nearly a week to clear of those reported, amounting to 2250, representing 60% of those dropped.
However though new to Grimsby, ‘Butterfly Bombs’ were first reported back in October 1940 when a number were dropped around Ipswich and on nearby RAF Wattisham.
It appears that the SD2.s had been specifically banned after their use in 1940, and a 1943 memo of Albert Speer to Hitler might explain why, in that he said weapon development should go step by step, only enough to keep us ahead of the enemy. Clearly the ‘butterflies’ were a step too early.
The heroes apart from those who showed bravery at the scene of devastation, once again were the members of the Royal Engineering Bomb Disposal Unit under Major Parker and Lt. Wakeling, and others who had the task of dealing with the bombs.
theguardian.com/butterfly-bombs.Pic of bomb. James Roberts. 21.6.2013.
grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/Pic of rescue.
A number of pre-Romantic poets in the 18th century known as ‘Graveyard Poets’, due to their obsession with moody meditation, mortality, skulls, coffins and epitaphs, were later recognised as precursors of Gothick novels and the Romantic movement.
Graveyard Poets included Oliver Goldsmith, William Cowper and Christopher Smart, but the most memorable Thomas Gray, only one of 12 children to survive infancy, saw his ‘Elegy on a Country Churchyard’ completed Today in 1750, after which he immediately enclosed the poem in a letter to Horace Walpole. (1)
The Elegy was privately circulated, but was widely pirated and printed in Magazine of Magazines, forcing publication in 1751.
The earliest recognised as a Graveyard Poem was Thomas Parnell’s, ‘A Night Piece on Death’ of 1721. Then 20 years later came Edward Young’s, ‘Night Thoughts’, where a lonely traveller in a graveyard reflects lugubriously on death. Then came Robert Blair’s, ‘The Grave’ (1743), where, ‘Wild shrieks have issued from the hollow tomb’. Very uplifting!
Dr.Johnson said of Gray that he spoke in two languages: one public and one private and that he should have spoken more in the private language as in his Elegy where: ‘The curfew tolls the knell of parting day/the lowing herd winds slowly o’er the lea’, one of the best known and loved of any poem’s opening lines.
Thomas Gray wrote in other modes and considered his two best Pindaric Odes (lofty and heroic, after the Greek poet Pindar), were the ‘The Progress of Poesy’ and ‘The Bard’.
These contrasted with the calmer and more reflective Horatian Odes, as in Gray’s, ‘Ode on a distant prospect of Eton College’ (1742): ‘Where ignorance is bliss-tis folly to be wise’.
By using phrases such as, Paths of Glory, Celestial Fire, Far from the Madding Crowd and Kindred Spirits, we are celebrating the genius of Gray, and though only writing 13 poems is regarded as second only to the great Alexander Pope of the 18thc poets.
(1) Son of Robert Walpole.
It was on 3rd June 1750 that Gray moved to Stoke Poges.
Today in 1956 illustrator, designer and painter, Anglo-Welsh, Sir Frank Brangwyn RA died, a reclusive and forgotten man, but responsible in his lifetime for a prodigious output in art and design.
An autodidact he had his first painting shown at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition at the age of 17, and in his heyday much acclaimed.
His mural below was originally created for the House of Lords, but rejected as being ‘too colourful and lively’, so in 1934, the 16 panels were bought by Swansea Council.
It was a rejection from which he never fully recovered, and this and his declining influence was to cause his depression and withdrawal from life.
Brangwyn born in 1857 in Bruge, later to be become a Royal Academician (RA), was apprenticed to the Arts and Crafts Movement guru, William Morris and developed his skills as a print maker, furniture designer and integrated the Movement into everyday ‘art for the people’ as seen in his popularist murals.
The late 19thc saw a vogue for things Japanese and in the 1920.s Brangwyn teamed up with a Japanese artist in Britain who produced 50 prints in which Urushibara realised the artist’s compositions using traditional woodblocks printing techniques.
Brangwyn integrated western and oriental artistic trends and though never visiting Japan he designed a a gallery in Tokyo, the Sheer Pleasure Pavilion funded by a shipping magnate who owned a large collection of Brangwyn’s works.
The magnate went bust in 1926 and the project abandoned and part of Brangwyn’s oeuvre lost which on top of his rejection by the Lords, left him a diminished figure when he died.
Now largely forgotten, Marius Gombrich, the art-historian, linked the decline of Brangwyn to that of Empire, where the bold, vigorous and outgoing ethos, was replaced by something inward-looking, less confident and intellectually effete.
telegraph.co.uk.frank-brangwyn. Mark Hudson 3.2.2017.
wikipedia.org/brangwyn/Pic of Swansea and Poster.
london-se1.co.uk.Transport of London/Pic of Southwark.
‘I would fain believe that it is the privilege and boast of the country that no man but a madman would attack the most gracious sovereign of this country’. (19thc judge).(1)
Certainly many of those involved in attacks on royalty, over time, have proved to be psychotic or suffering a measure of mental disorder.
William IV (1830-7) hit by a stone at Ascot, seems to have got off lightly, as judged by his successor Victoria, who was attacked seven times, once whilst on Constitution Hill Today in 1840 by Edward Oxford. Later charged with high treason he was declared insane before being transported.
She was also a victim to a planned kidnapping, as well as being plagued by stalker Edward Jones, the ‘Boy’ Jones, between 1838-41.
She received a black eye from a missile whilst riding in her carriage, and subjected to egg-throwing when the public mobilised behind Flora Hasting, slandered in 1830 by the Court as being pregnant by Sir John Conroy.
Some effort of Job’s Comfort was offered by Prime Minister, Gladstone when he tried to reassure the Queen that while, ‘foreign assassination was political, here the perpetrators were madmen’.
Between 1778 and 1994 there were 23 attacks on royalty (including those committed abroad), most on reigning monarchs, with George III, who reigned for 60 years) being attacked six times, once on 29th October 1795, on his way to open parliament.
This followed a mass meeting on the 26th in Copenhagen Fields to present remonstrances on the state of the country, included the price of bread which had risen sharply.
The coach carrying the King to open parliament was attacked in the Mall by an angry crowd, some holding loaves wrapped in black crepe and shouting ‘no war, no famine’! His coach was badly damaged and he was shot at with attempts to drag him out.
Parson Woodforde was to record in his Diary that, ‘his Majesty was very grossly insulted by some of the Mob, and had a very narrow escape of being killed going to the House, a Ball passing thro’ the Windows as he went thro’ old Palace Yard’. He went on, ‘the Mob was composed of the most violent & lowest democrats’.
In January 1817 there was an attack on George, Prince Regent’s coach on his return from the State Opening of Parliament, having been appointed Regent on 5th February 1811 after George III’s madness.
Then as George IV in 1821 he had to be rescued from the mob by officers of the 85th (Duke of York’s Own Regiment of Light Infantry), whence to show his gratitude they were absolved from standing whilst drinking the King’s health. (2)
Of recent times in 1936, the 10-month King, Edward VIII, and in 1981, Queen Elizabeth were fired at, the latter, albeit with a blank-pistol, whilst at the trooping of the Colour. Then the following year she had the indignity of an intruder, in her bedroom, which beggars belief.
The revolution which began in 1642 effectively ended royal power and the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and resolution in 1689 in the Bill of Rights, confirmed the relationship between Crown and Parliament, which now became the seat of power. The Bill of Rights assigned the monarch some role of mediation between public and parliament, so Regicide has ceased to be a way of grasping power.
(1) Alderson. J. sentencing after an attack on Victoria. R v Pate 8 St tr N.G.
(2) Later the King’s Light Infantry.