Sunday, October 13, 2019

CULLODEN


John Prebble, Culloden [1746]
New York: Atheneum, 1962, pp. 20-21

        The Age of Reason may have wished its armies would behave like Hectors, and every man may indeed, as Johnson claimed, have thought meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, but the reality of life was not that imagined by the Patriot Muses of The Gentleman’s Magazine. It was dirty, depraved and despised. All men preyed on the soldier, and in his turn he robbed and bullied them. To his colonel he was frequently a toy, to be dressed in bizarre and fanciful uniforms that must have given battle an added horror. He stood on a no-man’s-land outside the law, its victim and its guardian. When called to support it during civil riots he risked death by shooting if he refused, and trial for murder by the civil authority if he obeyed. The whip, the nine-tail cat with knots of precise size, kept him in order, and his wife or his woman could be disciplined by the whirligig. In this chair she was strapped and spun through the air until she suffered the vomiting sensations of sea-sickness. A solder who asked permission to marry a doxy who had loyally followed him through a campaign, risked a hundred lashes for impertinence. Flogging was notoriously commonplace. Almost every day’s entry in the Order Books contains the names of one, two, or three men sentenced to the lash, receiving anything from the minimum of twenty-five strokes to the maximum of three thousand. Men boasted their endurance of the cat. A drummer bragged that he had received twenty-six thousand lashes in fourteen years, and his officers agreed, with admiration, that four thousand of them had been given between the February of one year and the February of the next. Life for the foot-soldier was punctuated by the lash and the pox. Battle came almost as a relief. It was often his only discharge in a war.


        For his sixpence a day he was expected to march from a town where innkeepers had either refused to serve him, or had robbed him when drunk, to eat a breakfast of dry bread and water, to watch his officers indulge in chivalrous courtesies with enemy officers while the lines closed, and then to endure a murderous exchange of musketry or grape at one hundred paces. “We ought to returne thanks to God,” wrote a sergeant of Foot from Flanders, “for preserving us in ye many dangers we haue from time to time been exposed unto...” But thanking God was not always easy when His mercy was hard to find...

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

HENRY V

CHORUS

O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
Assume the port of Mars; and at his heels,
Leash'd in like hounds, should famine, sword and fire
Crouch for employment. But pardon, and gentles all,
The flat unraised spirits that have dared
On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
So great an object: can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?
O, pardon! since a crooked figure may
Attest in little place a million;
And let us, ciphers to this great account,
On your imaginary forces work.
Suppose within the girdle of these walls
Are now confined two mighty monarchies,
Whose high upreared and abutting fronts
The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder:
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;
Into a thousand parts divide on man,
And make imaginary puissance;
Think when we talk of horses, that you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i' the receiving earth;
For 'tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
Carry them here and there; jumping o'er times,
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass: for the which supply,
Admit me Chorus to this history;
Who prologue-like your humble patience pray,
Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.

First Chorus: Henry V
William Shakespeare. The Complete Works of Shakespeare
 (Kindle Locations 48274-48302). Latus ePublishing. Kindle Edition.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

EUGENE GENOVESE

THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Eugene D. Genovese, President
1487 Sheridan Walk, Atlanta, GA 30324

14 July 1998

Will Fitzhugh
Editor & Publisher
The Concord Review
Concord, Massachusetts 01742


Dear Mr. Fitzhugh:


        May I take this opportunity to congratulate you on your splendid journal, The Concord Review. That you are performing a valuable service to American education goes without saying. What I find most remarkable is that the journal is intrinsically worth reading as interesting historical writing and not merely as a celebration of young talent. The articles would delight any professor of history if submitted to an advanced undergraduate class, and the best are of graduate student quality. With each issue I feel better about the future of American education and of our profession.

        I wonder if The Concord Review would care to explore an attachment to The Historical Society. As you know, we are making a serious effort to recruit secondary school teachers and to promote the teaching of history in secondary schools, public and private. Since some people, most notably Diane Ravitch and yourself, are connected with both organizations, may I suggest we hold informal discussions with a view toward seeing how we might help each other.

                       
                        With good wishes,
                        Sincerely yours,
                        [signed]
                        Eugene D. Genovese
                        [Past President, OAH]

Thursday, October 3, 2019

WILFRED M. MCCLAY

October 2, 2019

Will Fitzhugh, Founder
The Concord Review
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776 USA

Dear Mr. Fitzhugh,


        The whole nation owes you a debt of gratitude for the years that you have devoted to the creation and sustaining of The Concord Review. Your achievement is nothing short of heroic. You have almost single-handedly, relying on a tiny sliver of the massive funds we spend on education in this country, fought the good fight against the dumbing-down of American secondary-school education in history, a fight that has not only pitted you against the enemies of history, but also against the enemies of writing. It is a magnificent concept, a publication devoted to recognizing the kind of superior effort that is entailed in producing an extended research project. Formulation of the question, wide research, careful reading, bibliographical discernment, note-taking skills, organizational skills, outlining, writing, revising, refining, and finally with painstaking care bringing everything into final order: there is nothing like a history research paper, to develop every aspect of a student’s mental capacity. It is like the equivalent of an all-body exercise, in which every muscle gets attention. 


        But until the advent of The Concord Review, these student productions were (to use a different metaphor) like plays without an audience. Now they have one, and can find a home in a journal whose very existence will call forth additional such efforts in the years to come, from the most talented students. One can hope that this example will spread, and that the central importance of the history research paper can be restored in American education. If that happens, and one can hope it will, a lot of the credit will go to Will Fitzhugh and his quarterly HS history journal. 


        On behalf of the whole nation….thank you.


Yours,
Wilfred M. McClay
G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty
University of Oklahoma
[Author, Land of Hope, 2019]

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

FEDERALIST PAPERS #1

To the People of the State of New York: AFTER an unequivocal experience of the inefficacy of the subsisting federal government, you are called upon to deliberate on a new Constitution for the United States of America. The subject speaks its own importance; comprehending in its consequences nothing less than the existence of the UNION, the safety and welfare of the parts of which it is composed, the fate of an empire in many respects the most interesting in the world. It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force. If there be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind.

This idea will add the inducements of philanthropy to those of patriotism, to heighten the solicitude which all considerate and good men must feel for the event. Happy will it be if our choice should be directed by a judicious estimate of our true interests, unperplexed and unbiased by considerations not connected with the public good. But this is a thing more ardently to be wished than seriously to be expected. The plan offered to our deliberations affects too many particular interests, innovates upon too many local institutions, not to involve in its discussion a variety of objects foreign to its merits, and of views, passions and prejudices little favorable to the discovery of truth.

Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers,
October 27, 1787, Number one (p. 1). Kindle Edition.