Happy St George’s Day

John of Gaunt’s famous speech in Shakespeare’s play is one of the most famous eulogies to England. Its tearful ending refers to the damage done to England by the civil wars. Today the troubling issue is England’s relationship with the EU.

“This royal throne of kings, this scepter’d isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,
Fear’d by their breed and famous by their birth,
Renowned for their deeds as far from home,
For Christian service and true chivalry,
As is the sepulchre in stubborn Jewry,
Of the world’s ransom, blessed Mary’s Son,
This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land,
Dear for her reputation through the world,
Is now leased out, I die pronouncing it,
Like to a tenement or pelting farm:
England, bound in with the triumphant sea
Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege
Of watery Neptune, is now bound in with shame,
With inky blots and rotten parchment bonds:
That England, that was wont to conquer others,
Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.
Ah, would the scandal vanish with my life,
How happy then were my ensuing death! “

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33 Comments

  1. Old Albion
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Thanks JR and a happy St George’s day to you.
    You are indeed a rare breed. An MP in the (dis)UK Gov. who recognises England’s existence and i’m very grateful that you do.

  2. Bryan
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Again a low key media coverage of St. Georges Day. This in sharp contrast to St.Patrick and St. Andrews Days.

    Why am I surprised?

  3. Iain Moore
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    I see from Conservative home that on this St George’s day Cameron is worried about Scotland, and wondering how to pander to ethnic minority votes. On this English day there is precious little mention of England.

    One day , when the Conservative party becomes a rump of a political party in England as it has in Scotland, it will wonder how they managed to ignore their voting base.

  4. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    “There is a forgotten, nay almost forbidden word,
    which means more to me than any other.
    That word is England”
    Sir Winston Churchill

    Happy St George’s Day.

  5. Cheshire Girl
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    A happy St. George’s day to you too John, and Thank You for posting that lovely speech in it’s entirety. It never fails to move and inspire me, and I suspect, many others. So good to know the remembrance of this special day for our country has not totally been ignored.

  6. rick hamilton
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Indeed. And Shakespeare’s birthday too.

    The day for Expats everywhere to take pride in the English language, English literature, English law ( in which so many international contracts are written ), English breakfasts, English tea, English muffins, English mustard, English time (in Latin America), the English gentleman and his national dress ( the Savile Row suit, worn by businessmen everywhere ), English team games ( too many to list ), English vernacular architecture, English sports cars ( in America ) the English wheel (for sheet metal workers), English bond (for bricklayers), the English horn (for musicians), the English elm and the English galingale (look it up) and no doubt dozens of other remarkable things which others can think of.

    In short, we have so much to be proud of and it’s time we showed it !

    • Robert Taggart
      Posted April 23, 2014 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      English Galingale – ‘Sedge’ who ? !

  7. DadOf3
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    The England’s relationship with the EU troubles me far less than current relationships between rich and poor, between Establishment and disenfranchised, between middle-class Middle Englanders dreaming of non-existent golden past and those whose existence they would rather forget: those who are not “our sort of people”.

    The ring-wing rhetoric of recent years – about eastern European migrants, benefit claimants, the feckless youth, the jobless and the working poor, foreign aid – rhetoric willfully constructed to create division between one group of people and another, makes me ashamed of the Conservative party I was brought up to support. One-nation conservatism indeed! The Government has a different idea of England to the one I am proud to have been born in. The tribal nationalism that attends St Andrew’s Day and St David’s Day, which many in England wish to emulate, sickens me. We can do better.

    • Iain Moore
      Posted April 23, 2014 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      You seem to hold two contradictory positions at the same time. What did you think mass immigration was doing other than widening the disparities in society? In addition you cannot have ‘one nation’ with multicultural tribalism.

      If you are a DadOf 3 then you are going to have to start fighting for the interests of your children, for while you have sat back with your confused superior attitude, your children have been buried in debt, the English sick have been discriminated against, and if you have pensioner parents then they will be taken to the cleaners as well, and all of us made constitutional second class citizens.

      • yulwaymartyn
        Posted April 23, 2014 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

        Interesting that you regard mass immigration as widening the disparities in society. I think precisely the opposite.

        • Narrow shoulders
          Posted April 24, 2014 at 7:35 am | Permalink

          Mass immigration has made the rich richer and the poor poorer, where have you been for 10 years?

        • Iain Moore
          Posted April 24, 2014 at 8:07 am | Permalink

          Apart from yourself I am not aware of anybody who thinks that mass immigration has done anything other than widen the disparities in society. When you flood a market with surplus labour it drives down wages, drives down terms of employment, in the middle and lower wage groups, and it drives up the cost of resources, like housing.

    • yulwaymartyn
      Posted April 23, 2014 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      Totally agree. Every word. Well said.

      JR – when are you and your party going to take on UKIP?

  8. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Thanks, and Happy St George’s Day.

    I see the BBC is running an article headlined:

    “What would make the English like St George’s Day?”

    almost as if the BBC hadn’t spent years denigrating the English, urging that “to complete devolution” England should be broken up into euroregions, and condemning the English flag as the racist symbol of football hooligans.

    Meanwhile with elections in the offing the English flag is flying over No 10 Downing Street alongside the British flag; and they’ve even managed to observe the correct flag protocol by giving the British flag the “position of honour” as superior to the English flag, something which has proved too difficult for civil servants to understand when positioning the British and EU flags on a podium even though it has been directly pointed out to the Foreign Office, as may be seen here last May for example:

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/benedictbrogan/100216693/the-tory-partys-gone-crazy-over-europe-and-its-camerons-fault/

    If the UK stays together, as I very much hope it will, then the British Prime Minister must remember to do the same on the other three saints’ days.

    It would also be a good idea if we adopted the US practice of “double-flagging”, so that for example the British and English flags could be flown on a single pole rather than needing to have two separate poles, as was recommended in this report:

    http://www.flaginstitute.org/pdfs/Flying_Flags_in_the_United_Kingdom.pdf

    “Sometimes it may be desired to display two flags when only one flagpole is available. As long as both flags are British this is possible. The senior flag should fly at the top, with a gap of about 30cm (12”), assuming there is enough vertical space on the pole. For example, the Union Flag can be flown over the flag of England, Scotland or Wales (as shown), or over a county, city or house flag. When flags are at half-mast the lower flag must be removed.”

  9. Bill
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this timely reminder!

  10. Robert Taggart
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Speaking as English Nationalist Republican Atheist…
    Happy Saint Georges Day – if this be the best we can do !
    June 15th – Magna Carta Day – The Liberties of England day. This has our vote.

  11. Oscar De Ville
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Excellent. Timely too. Perhaps just in time. In THIS Elizabethan age where is our Shakespeare ? Since Churchill, where is our voice ? Is there yet time to outweigh the brazen mythology, so full of hate, on which Mr Salmond has so narrowly relied ? Empires decline from within more than from without. So far we have not risen to his challenge in this very year. Your call and choice of quote are refreshing.

  12. Jennifer A
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    “Today the troubling issue is England’s relationship with the EU”

    Not half as much as England’s relationship with the Europhiles within her.

    Happy St George’s Day.

    (Had I not visited here I wouldn’t have known what day it was.)

  13. Tom William
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Thank you for this and your quiet patriotism.

  14. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    A beautiful speech straight from Shakespeare’s heart? In Tudor times however , no channel tunnel existed and the divine right of the monarch , although apparently with Richard 2 did not correlate with political ability, was the word. Still I do think of it like this when overcome by the beauty of our natural and reltively safe surroundings.

    Reply The rights and powers of the English monarch were always limited. Henry VIII had to carry out the Reformation by Act of Parliament, and Elizabeth had difficult exchanges with her Parliaments, and had to bow to them on matters like monopolies..

  15. Iain Moore
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    David Cameron wishes us a happy St George’s day. Well he could make it a happy one if he put all the spare Parliamentary time they have that they are trying to fill in to the next election by answer the English Question.

  16. Mark
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    We are indeed forever in debt (inky blots and rotten parchment bonds), our land leased out to foreigners (at least in London, and much else by the overseas borrowing that supports our mortgages) – albeit not for fur farms in our Green world – and seem to have subjugated ourselves to foreign interests in Brussels and elsewhere, including the fifth columns we have admitted carelessly.

  17. Atlas
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps Gove could set the history question “Exactly when was England formed”?

    I’m not sure I know – and I suspect Gove does not either for all his educational claims.

    • libertarian
      Posted April 23, 2014 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      Atlas

      The Kingdom of England has no specific founding date. It emerged from the gradual unification of the various kingdoms that were established following the Anglo-Saxon settlement of the former Roman province of Britannia. The minor kingdoms in time became the seven kingdoms known as the Heptarchy: East Anglia, Mercia, Northumbria, Kent, Essex, Sussex, and Wessex. The Viking invasions upset the balance of power between the English kingdoms. The English lands were unified in the 10th century in a reconquest completed by King Athelstan in 927.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted April 23, 2014 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      The formation of England was a process spread over generations, but usually Aethelstan is recognised as being the first king of all England after the decisive victory at Brunanburh in 937:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Brunanburh

      For a brief period he was also accepted as the overlord of all Britain.

      I was also unaware of this until I attended a lecture given by a Scotsman.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 23, 2014 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      Well much of it was formed and shaped by huge glaciers which strangely all melted away and without even the need for the atmospheric CO2 concentrations to be increased at all, by the industrial revolution or the internal combustion engine!

    • A different Simon
      Posted April 23, 2014 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

      No but I reckon his heart is in the right place which makes him a minority amongst the 650 .

      Are our kids even studying British Constitution now ?

      There is not much left for me in England now and I reckon we are entering a political dark age which is going to last couple of hundred years before the revisionism gets seen for what it is .

  18. Edward2
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    It is also my own birthday today.
    I have always felt some pride and pleasure at having been born on St George’s day as well as William Shakespeare’s birthday.
    I love the Tempest and of course Hamlet, finding King Lear such a powerful tragedy that it is quite draining to sit through, though still brilliant.

    I hope the Union will prevail and that a United Kingdom may find its voice again as a confident independent nation in a wider world.
    Despite some faults and some current problems is there any other nation one would prefer to live in?
    And again, thankyou Mr Redwood for your many excellent and inspirational daily articles, including your article today, on this special day.

  19. The PrangWizard
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Happy St George’s Day to you Mr Redwood. I’m just back from showing the flag!

    • A different Simon
      Posted April 23, 2014 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

      Just made a point of enjoying some real ale before Brussels finds a way to ban it .

      How about your party proposes a public holiday for St Georges day John or would that be politically incorrect ?

      Got to be worth it just to rub Ken Livingstone’s face in it (and Sean Connery’s , family Clegg and family Kinnocks ) .

      • A different Simon
        Posted April 23, 2014 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

        Apparently in the country formerly know as Rhodesia , they had TWO days public holiday for Rhode’s and Founder’s day .

        There is a challenge to the Conservative party .

  20. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 5:16 pm | Permalink
  21. Horatio McSherry
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    Happy St. George’s Day Mr. Redwood; an excellent opportunity to say thankyou for this blog. It’s a privilige to come here everyday and read your ever thoughtful posts, and just as importantly the regular commenters like Denis, Tad, and yes, even uni (although I’m sure he’d disagree). It’s a great mixture of people, all drawn here because no matter what subject you aim your steely glance at, it’s always sincere, thoughtful and thought-provoking.

    Kind Regards :)

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
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