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Monday, 4 March 2013

An excess of patriotism

Sunday, March 4th., Fulham Park Gardens, London.

At the musical evening at Marriott's last night, Sharpe led a great demonstration of patriotism, apropos of Ladysmith: - Flag-waving, portrait of Buller, reading aloud of a leading article from the Telegraph, cheering, singing of 'Rule Britannia'. It was distinctly an exhibition of insularity. I must say that I have been quite unable to join with any sincerity in the frantic and hysterical outburst of patriotic enthusiasm of the last few days. Such praise of ourselves as a nation, such gorgeous self-satisfaction and boastfulness are to me painful.

Redvers Buller, V.C.

On February 28th., 1900, General Sir Redvers Henry Buller's troops relieved British forces at Ladysmith near Durban, KwaZulu Natal. The British forces had been under siege by the Boers since 2 November 1899. They were besieged almost a month after the outbreak of the Second South African War (also known as Second Anglo-Boer War), which broke out in October 1899.

I met Fred Marriott in 1890 at a musical soiree in Blackheath. He was an art teacher from Goldsmith's and became a life-long friend. The Marriott's lived in Victoria Grove, Chelsea and I lodged with them as a paying guest. Fred was six years older than me and had been born in the Potteries but retained no connection. His was a cultured household with musical evenings, improvised theatricals  and constant talk of art. Later I helped to organise the musical evenings, insisting on printed programmes and evening dress. Perhaps it was only natural in this atmosphere that my mind should turn to writing because everybody else I met was engaged on some kind of creative or intellectual work and I had to 'keep my end up'.

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