Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor, 7 February 2024

According to a Mr Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (the Daily Mail, December 30, 2023), western liberal capitalist countries are best because they “produce the most danceable pop songs,” the “biggest blockbuster movies,” and “the best night clubs”; oh, and superlatively free and democratically effectual elections. What most serious analysts of current affairs cannot dispute, however, is the comparative geo-strategic decline of the West, aggravated by economic turmoil, transnational terrorism and trafficking, Chinese and Islamist resurgence, plus an unprecedented sub-Saharan birth-rate. Concerning the latter, according to Steve Jones (writing in The Language of the Genes) “A third of the world’s population may be of African origin by 2050”. 

Hitherto dogged by what Correlli Barnet calls “overstretch coupled with underperformance”, our overcrowded island is currently a sitting-duck yet countenances WMD conflict against Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, an “Evil Axis” whose area jointly exceeds 10 million square miles. The political class has allowed British defences to become weak and inefficient, highlighted by the Royal Navy’s recent sea-lane action in a situation nevertheless provocative of regional explosion. Meanwhile, the Chief of the General Staff calls for war-footing “mobilisation” of the “whole nation”.  But “Britain’s collapsing birth rate could lose us the next war”, warns Michael Deacon (Daily Telegraph, 27 January 2024). The ONS expects a 6 million population increase by 2036, almost entirely from immigration. Just how many of these polyethnic incomers would willingly join a perilous offensive on behalf of Bibi Netanyahu, Volodymyr Zelensky, or Lai Ching-te?

Our military vulnerability is compounded by the insidious combination of internal social decline and a dominant ideology that impedes its reversal. Data on crime and behaviour, health and addiction, education and childcare, transport and communication, banking services, tax-aided charities, council funds, asylum management and landscape conservation, show that the sheer numbers of people requiring cure, care, coaching or control are beginning to overwhelm the available personnel competent adequately to provide the facilities required. Declining national intelligence is doubtless another key factor, for which environmental causes are proposed, although genetics cannot be excluded. Regarded as a primary cause of the decline and collapse of several great empires, differential birth-rates between creative elites and citizens of limited abilities remain a legitimate concern of thoughtful, albeit sometimes execrated, observers.

“The burdens of civilised life grow heavier in each generation,” observed W. R. Inge, back in 1927. Science and technology can solve many problems, including some they previously helped to create. But they require enough scientists and engineers for innovation and implementation, and wise leadership. Can we escape the present grip of inertia and incompetence, complacency and corruption, and rescue civilization from woke induced decadence or nuclear annihilation?

From David Ashton




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Tough Crowd

Pictured here is a scene still from the 1916 film “Intolerance.” Credit Wikipedia

Tough Crowd

Tough Crowd: How I Made and Lost a Career in Comedy, Graham Linehan, Eye Books, hb, 288 pp, £19.99, reviewed by Edward Dutton

In the summer of 2000, queuing up outside the Almeida Theatre in London to attend Celebration by Harold Pinter, your reviewer noticed, standing behind him, Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews, the writers of Father Ted, the most beloved sitcom on TV, and the creators of Big Train. The latter brilliantly played with conventions and did something new with a tired, decades-old format – the sketch show. Celebration itself was a comedy which explored darker themes, such as incest, and which tried, albeit in a clunking way, to highlight the poignancy of life beneath a veneer of humour.

There is nothing “clunking,” however, about Tough Crowd, the autobiography of the creator of two of the best sitcoms ever, to wit, The IT Crowd and Father Ted. A superb read, it examines the vicissitudes of his career as a comedy writer. If you want celebrity gossip, this is present in abundance. For example, it transpires that Dermot Morgan, who played Father Ted, was a prima donna who took calls about other jobs during rehearsals and who assumed that any ban on mobile phones didn’t apply to him. Such is the mind-set of the narcissistic thespian.

The standard stories you would expect are all here: how Father Ted was conceived, how to write a successful joke, how jokes are tested, refined, and thought of. And there are also childhood recollections and revelations. Linehan never went to university but began his career writing about film and contemporary music for the Irish press. He subsequently turned to comedy sketches, submitting them to shows such as Alas Smith and Jones.

As Linehan notes, comedians have the opportunity to debunk power, privilege and pomposity. This was ever the role of the court-jester and helps explain why Father Ted was so subversive in 1990s Ireland. In the 1980s, there was still a “traditional society” in the UK that could be lampooned. The war generation ran the show and Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. But gradually, the Marxist radicals of the 1960s took power, establishing a kind of cultural hegemony. In his 2008 series of The IT Crowd (by the way, he reveals that the Irish character, Roy, was based on himself), Linehan presented a character unhappy to discover that his girlfriend used to be a man. This type of humour was acceptable then, but the Cultural Revolution subsequently accelerated. Linehan even contributed to it, attempting to stop “Count Dankula” (Mark Meechan) from raising money for his defence when in 2018, he was put on trial in Scotland for uploading a video of his dog doing a Hitler-salute. This is an intervention that Linehan now regrets.

Linehan was bullied at school, though he does not go into detail. There seems to be a side to him that is easily upset; an insecurity, a volatile temperament, which led him to storm off when a different director was appointed for Black Books. Tough Crowd is an account of what was essentially a religious conversion. During a conversion experience a person’s identity can dramatically change. It generally happens to a particular psychological type; a type that is usually highly sensitive and creative. Linehan gives the distinct impression of being this type. He is now on a veritable mission to defend the arts, free-speech and comedy against those who, in his judgement, want to circumscribe it, notably activists of the Trans Movement.

Linehan recalls being driven out of polite society. Contracts were cancelled, work withdrawn, his family harassed beyond breaking point (he blames his divorce on this battle), his reputation shredded. He has evidently suffered financially, professionally and psychologically because of his involvement in the culture wars and his uncompromising critique of Trans ideology. The pusillanimous response to trans extremists of his fellow comedians and script writers etc appears to have been an epiphany. Linehan has discovered what William James called the “religion of the sick soul” in which a person who, on some level, has experienced suffering, realises a fundamental truth which they have hitherto been supressing. He has been born again, evangelically promoting this truth, burning with zeal and understanding reality in a new way.

Why, ultimately, is Tough Crowd so compelling? You feel as if you have just met the author in a pub; he has obviously had a few drinks, he seems to like you but he’s down on his luck and he needs to tell you his story.

[Editorial note, “A sad coda”, as Fiona Sturges remarks, “to a once towering talent” (The Guardian, 1 November 2023)].

Edward Dutton is Professor of Evolutionary Psychology, Asbiro University, Poland

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Endnotes, February 2024

The Valkyrie’s Vigil, by Edward Robert Hughes, credit Wikipedia

Endnotes, February 2024

Wagner from Denmark, reviewed by Stuart Millson

Die Walküre (The Valkyrie) by Richard Wagner is a music-drama comprising three Acts and forms the second part of the composer’s epoch-making operatic achievement, Der Ring Des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelungs). Set in the Teutonic forests in a time out of mind, the opera was first produced at Munich in the June of 1870, but as music-writer J. Walker McSpadden notes in Opera Synopses, it, did not receive a performance to the composer’s exacting standards until the August of 1876, when it came to the stage of Wagner’s own Bayreuth opera-house. And as McSpadden also observes:

“In order to understand the purport of “Die Walküre” as related to the “Ring” a certain amount of narrative is necessary which is not represented on the stage. Wotan, foreseeing the doom of the gods because they are pledged to respect the power of the magic ring, endeavours to protect Walhalla by creating a band of Valkyrie or warrior-maidens; their duty is to convey on their winged steeds the bodies of the noblest warriors, slain upon the field of battle, to the abode of the gods, where the warriors will live again, a mighty race to defend Walhalla. Upon the earth, also, Wotan has begotten two children of his own, Siegmund and Sieglinde, who grow up in ignorance of each other.”

To provide us with a revelatory reading of this opera, the STERLING CD label has issued a three-disc box set of a 1987 live recording, given at Den Jyske Opera, Aarhus; the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Francesco Cristofoli, with ~ centre-stage ~ the distinguished soprano, Laila Andersson-Palme as the Valkyrie, Brunnhilde.

The curtain goes up and a storm is raging through the German forests ~ the hut of Hunding (sung by Aage Haugland, bass) providing shelter to Siegmund (Sven-Olof Eliasson) who, we learn, is a foe of Hunding. Sieglinde (Lisbeth Balslev), Hunding’s wife, ushers Siegmund in from the gale, but as they converse, a (fatal) attraction begins to envelope them, despite their true relationship ~ unknown to each other… of brother and sister.

For a 1987 recording, a live one at that, one might think that the sound quality might even now seem somewhat dated, or at least surpassed by today’s gleam of a perfectly recorded orchestral palette. Not a bit of it. Put your headphones on, close your eyes and revel in the magnificent sound of the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra; its rich, melancholy cello playing, and throughout the string section, the immediacy, the close-up, gutsy sound of real, present-before-you violins ~ not a studio-engineered sheen.

From the gripping, nervous, even terrifying opening tempest, to the long, involved Scene 2 ensemble of Hunding, Sieglinde and Siegmund, to the surging conclusion to Act 1, Denmark’s (perhaps) lesser-known orchestra truly rivals Bayreuth or Berlin. A Lohengrin-like nobility, seemingly a quotation from an idea in Wagner’s 1850 opera of the same name, rises in the music ~ and in the sensational horn and brass writing, it becomes clear how Wagner ‘mapped out’ the future symphonic scores of Bruckner and Mahler. Yet so far, we have not yet encountered Brunnhilde, who is to appear in Act ll ~ the great god Wotan summoning his favourite of the Valkyrie maidens, to deliver Siegmund to face his enemy, a task she finds impossible to carry out, sheltering both him and his love, Sieglinde. (And in this time, the future has taken root: the child, Siegfried ~ the subject of the third part of The Ring cycle ~ will be born from the union of the fleeing lovers.)

Brunnhilde’s defiance of Wotan (sung by the splendidly-named bass-baritone, Leif Roar) is one of the great moments in Wagner, and it is clear from this Danish performance that Laila Andersson-Palme has the full measure of her brave, but foolhardy character ~ foolhardy, because she ends the opera, thanks to Wotan, on an inaccessible mountain peak, cut off from the world by a circle of magic fire, which only a true hero could breach.

This Wagner box set is a firmly recommended for those who seek true realism in their listening, not just the authentic Wagnerian atmosphere generated by the singers and orchestral players, but by the inclusion of the wild applause of that 1987 Danish audience ~ transporting you to the very edge of the stage. And with an informative booklet, synopsis and interview with Laila Andersson-Palme in which she discusses her career and the challenges of performing Wagner, this is an opera CD not to be missed.

CD details: Wagner, Die Walküre, Aarhus Symphony Orchestra/Cristofoli. STERLING CDA 1870, 1871, 1872.

Stuart Millson is the Classical Music Editor of The Quarterly Review


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Charlotte Salomon, Kristallnacht, credit Wikimedia Commons


Resisters; How Ordinary Jews Fought Persecution in Hitler’s Germany, Wolf Gruner, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2023, h.b., 212 pp, reviewed by Leslie Jones

In a letter to Arnold Zweig, dated December 15, 1935, the German satirist Kurt Tucholsky concluded, “Judaism is defeated, as much defeated as it deserves”. Judaism, according to Tucholsky, “just does not fight”. This notion of Jewish passivity, of the Nazis leading the Jews like “sheep to the slaughter”, was subsequently endorsed by other commentators. Historian Raul Hilberg, in The Destruction of the European Jews (1963), bemoaned their “almost complete lack of resistance”. Saul Friedländer agreed, upping the ante by suggesting that the Final Solution was facilitated by “the willingness of the victims to follow orders”. More recently, in KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps (2015), Nikolaus Wachsmann averred that “defiance is rare in totalitarian regimes”.

Wolf Gruner, Professor of History at the University of California, once subscribed to this conception of “the passivity of the persecuted”. But in 1998, Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer pointedly asked him, “where are the victims in your narrative?”, setting in motion an eventual change of perspective. Professor Gruner came to realise that, hitherto, studies of Jewish resistance had concentrated on organised, armed resistance at the group level, generally ignoring a multiplicity of individual acts of resistance. Yet concerning the latter, police reports, Gestapo files, prison cases, judgements from the Special Courts in numerous German cities contained a wealth of evidence hidden in plain sight. Survivor testimonies in the form of video interviews held at the Visual History Archive, University of California, and perpetrator files in the Yad Vashem archive and US Holocaust Memorial Museum archives have enhanced this picture.

The author’s thesis is neatly elaborated by a series of biographical studies which identify the different historic forms taken by “the forgotten resistance of German and Austrian Jews”. Daisy Gronowski is the subject of chapter five, entitled ‘Acting in physical self-defense’. Born in Königsberg, East Prussia in 1921, her father Bruno was a merchant and manufacturer and the proud possessor of the Iron Cross. In the mid-1930’s, Daisy practised martial arts under the auspices of Hashomer Hatzair, a Zionist group. In 1938, she enrolled in a Jewish agricultural camp in Urfeld, to prepare for eventual emigration to Israel or Latin America. During Kristallnacht (the November pogrom) the camp was attacked by anti-Semites. Daisy recalls that she stabbed and head-butted the gang leader, thereby refuting the Nazi libel of the “weak Jew’.

Those who protested in writing against the Nazi regime risked torture, incarceration in a concentration camp, prosecution under the Treacherous Attacks Law of 1934 and/or arraignment for treason before the People’s Court in Berlin. Witness the fate of members of the White Rose group. Ditto that of Benno Neuberger, the subject of chapter four. Born in Munich in 1871, his father Max was a real estate broker. After Kristallnacht, Benno Neuberger was incarcerated in Dachau concentration camp. The persecution of Jews instigated by the mayor of Munich Dr Karl Fiehler and Hitler’s eliminationist rhetoric incensed Neuberger. The proverbial last straw was the 1941 decree requiring all Jews over six to wear the “yellow star”. During 1941 and 1942, he mailed anonymous postcards replete with abusive comments about Hitler, such as “The eternal mass murderer”. Arrested by the Gestapo in March 1942, he was sentenced to death by the People’s Court and duly guillotined. His family were required to foot the bill for his execution.

In The German-Jewish Soldiers of the First World War in History and Memory, Tim Grady identifies two contrasting narratives. “All Jews are shirkers” was a recurrent Nazi motif. In Mein Kampf, Hitler had accused the Jews of avoiding front line service. But there was also a ‘national conservative’ take on the role of the Jews in the war. According to President Hindenburg, anyone “good enough to fight and to die for Germany” deserved to be commemorated on war memorials. In July 1934 he insisted that a new war medal should be issued to all veterans, regardless of race or religion. But after Hindenburg’s death in August 1934, all German-Jewish war veterans were dismissed from public service and excluded from German citizenship (see History Today, June 2013, review by Leslie Jones of The German-Jewish Soldiers…).

In chapter two, ‘Verbal Protest Against the Persecution’, Professor Gruner highlights the shameful treatment of German-Jewish patriots, such as Henriette Schäfer, after 1933. Born in 1882, the daughter of a Jewish shoemaker, she had worked in an ammunition factory during the First World War. The allegation that German Jews were traitors incensed her as did the harassment by the municipal authorities of the large Jewish community in Frankfurt where she had lived with her husband since 1909. On the morning of November 10 1938, the day after the Nazi leadership instigated the nationwide pogrom called Kristallnacht, she told her landlord that the members of the government were “…black-guards, scamps, and criminals” and that “Hitler is the biggest bandit”. In November 1939, she was sentenced to six months in prison and was deported to Theresienstadt in February 1945. She survived, thanks to the vagaries of war.

“Toute notre dignité consiste…en la pensée”. “Travaillons donc à bien penser” (Blaise Pascal, Pensées). We commend, accordingly, Professor Gruner’s endeavours.

Dr Leslie Jones is Editor of Quarterly Review

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Labyrinthine Linguistics

Theseus & the Minotaur, Attic black-figure lekythos, 500-475 BC, credit Wikipedia

 Labyrinthine Linguistics

Stanley E. Porter, The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text. Baker Academic. 2023. Pp.i-xxi, 1-969. $70.00, reviewed by Darrell Sutton

This important book is the result of close reading and scrupulous study. The approach is linguistic, guided by the rules of Formal Systemic Functional Grammar, which is ‘a system-based functional linguistic model that connects socially grounded meanings with instances of language usage… defining and examining various theoretical strata that connect context to expression’ (p.3). Stanley Porter (henceforth SP) maintains, however, that The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text is not a full-blown linguistic commentary. It is.

To begin with, readers may well struggle with SP’s language. He provides functional explanations, definitions, and classifications to aid the reader: monosemy ‘is the principle, or perhaps the orientation or predisposition, of seeing singular rather than multiple meanings for any linguistic element’ (p.4); grammatical monosemy posits that ‘grammatical features also have abstract semantics that are modulated or constrained by contextual features, including grammatical environments’ (p.5). He does find many common descriptions to be outmoded, saying ‘there are some who still use the terminology of VSO (verb, subject, object)… but this assumes a grammatically explicit subject… which many Greek clauses simply do not formally express (they have an implied subject with verbal morphology)’ (p.7). On the Greek verb, SP’s views are governed by his notions regarding ‘aspect’. As he maintains, ‘the Greek verb is aspectual, with the aspects realized by the so-called tense forms. The aspect system functions within the ideational metafunction. He sees three forms of aspects: (1) perfective, realized by aorist tense for a process seen to be complete, (2) imperfective: realized by represent and imperfect tenses for a process seen to be progressive, and (3) stative: realized by perfect and pluperfect tenses for a process seen to represent a state of affairs (p.9). He concludes this section professing ‘I do not believe that interlingual translation is a particularly reliable or even useful indicator of understanding of a language’ (p.17).

The author accepts Pauline authorship of the Pastoral epistles and does not find multiplicity in speech or in theological themes to be an impediment to reaching that conclusion. As he says, ‘diversity in language is not a necessary or sufficient indicator of difference in authorship but may instead reflect only a difference in what is often called register or genre’ (p.21). Some critical views provoke his derision. SP ridicules Raymond Brown’s assertion that few academics believe Paul wrote the Pastorals: ‘his estimate that 80-90 percent of scholars hold this skeptical view shows that Brown probably needed to extend his circle of scholarly friends’ (p.22,fn.2). Through thirty pages, beginning on page 44, SP outlines Authentic Pauline Authorship, looking into linguistic differences and statistical studies.

Numerous writers are mentioned by him. Some of this is monotonous, and one wonders why first-readers of the Pastorals would need to know everything these people said about these texts, or indeed why all that they said even matters? On the other hand, SP believes that along with Philemon, these Pastorals ‘are personal letters, however one wishes to categorize their designation’ (p.79). He includes comprehensive outlines of each book (pp.102-106). Proceeding to a systematic examination, SP devotes 392 pages to the scrutinizing of Paul’s wording in I Timothy, 200 to II Timothy and 150 to Titus. It took a mastermind to compile the many annotations provided. Not everyone will be attracted to them. But a good example of SP’s learning can be found in his remarks on 1:9-11. Much is to be gained from an inspection of his lines of reasoning. Several differences of opinion are noted below.

The Pastoral Epistles (PE) is distinguishable by three areas of concentration: translation, word-analyses and notes.  Specified parts of a large work like this one, i.e., the analyses of stated expressions, must be studied with care because they are essential to grasping the  special points that SP accentuates, particularly conversions of words from one language to another. They require extensive knowledge of the vocabulary of the receptor language and the source-texts. So whenever examining a critical piece of scholarship and encountering wording which says, ‘the translation of the Pastoral Epistles that I provide is included only as an attempt to show how my linguistic decisions might be turned into serviceable English’ (p.17), one should focus on ‘serviceable English.’ If a translated text is not logically expressed it needs revision. One should do his or her best to ensure it is intelligible. A translation, even if provisional, and the application of punctuation to it, are the hallmarks of one’s comprehension of textual matter.

Paul assigned Timothy to lead the church(es) at Ephesus. This letter to him addresses various issues that Timothy will need to deal with as minister;

1.1 Παῦλος ἀπόστολος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ κατ’ ἐπιταγὴν Θεοῦ. SP’s translation: Paul, apostle of Christ Jesus on the basis of command of God [sic]. But it also could be construed to say, ‘Paul, Christ Jesus’ apostle by God’s decree…’. Literary merits were not his goal; nevertheless a translator should give definite reproductions of a writer’s ideas. SP highlights what he perceives to be ‘command’s’ indefiniteness in its Greek syntactical construction; but his English gloss is cumbrous. κατ’ ἐπιταγὴν Θεοῦ, as a predetermined act of God is not limited to indeterminacy in the language.

6.20-21 Ὦ Τιμόθεε, τὴν παραθήκην φύλαξον, ἐκτρεπόμενος τὰς βεβήλους κενοφωνίας καὶ ἀντιθέσεις τῆς ψευδωνύμου γνώσεως, ἥν τινες ἐπαγγελλόμενοι περὶ τὴν πίστιν ἠστόχησαν. Ἡ χάρις μεθ’ ὑμῶν./O Timothy, guard that entrusted to you, avoiding religious empty talk and oppositions of falsely named knowledge, which professing, certain ones have departed from the faith. Grace be with you.

SP’s comments are difficult to follow at times. Below I supply an exemplary extract.

‘The clause complex that constitutes 1 Tim. 6:20-21a consists of a primary clause, an adjunctive participle clause, and a relative clause with its own embedded participle clause. The primary clause consists of the simple command “Guard that entrusted to you” (τὴν παραθήκην φύλαξον, tēn parathēkēn phylaxon), with complement + predicator clausal order. The complement may be fronted to show the importance of the tradition with which Timothy is being entrusted by Paul, but the clausal ordering is one of the most frequent in the NT, and so more likely it simply thematizes the topic of the clause… . The second-person singular aorist active imperative φύλαξον (phylaxon; see 1 Tim. 5:21) as predicator directs Timothy to watch over or safeguard his charge (the noun and verb are collocated in all three occurrences in the Pastoral Epistles),’ p.495.

No less abstruse and even lengthier comments follow on page 497:

‘The participle clause is an adjunct of the primary clause of the dependent unit, “certain ones have departed from the faith” (τινες… περὶ τὴν πίστιν ἠστόχησαν, tines… peri tēn pistin ēstochēsan), with a similar clause being found in 2 Tim. 2:18. The subject of this clause is the indefinite pronoun τινες. This indefinite pronoun may be translated in different ways, such as, “some” or “anyone,” but here it has the sense of those among any greater number who, having professed false knowledge, have departed from the faith. The subject + adjunct + predicator + ordering has the verb ἠστόχησαν as predicator, used similarly in 1 Tim. 1:6 to speak of those who have missed the mark (note the use of the alpha privative) and hence departed from the standard, which is the faith. The standard “concerns” (περí) the faith, with the preposition of the adjunct indicating being located around something (S. Porter 1994:168-69) and with the entire phrase here translated as “from the faith” (περὶτὴν πίστιν). The faith, with specifier, indicates here the body of Christian teaching on which Paul has been focused throughout 1 Timothy; he is concerned that Timothy faithfully upholds it in the Ephesian church’.

Below are SP’s English Translations of 2:1-13, 14-18, 23-24

You yourself, therefore, my child, be yourself empowered in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you heard from me through many witnesses, entrust these things to faithful people, who will be adequate also to teach others.

Suffer evil together as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one, while soldiering, is entwined with the practicalities of life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him. But if indeed someone competes athletically, that one is not crowned unless one competes according to the rules. It is necessary for the working farmer to receive first from the fruits. Consider what I say. For the Lord will give to you understanding in all things.

Remember Jesus Christ raised from the dead, from the seed of David, on the basis of my good news, in which I suffer evil to the point of restraints as a criminal, but the word of God is not bound. On account of this I endure all things on account of the elect, so that indeed they themselves may obtain salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. Faithful is the statement:

            For if we die together, we also will live together;

            if we endure, we also will reign together;

            if we will deny, he also will deny us;

            if we do not believe, he remains faithful,

            for he is not able to deny himself. (pp.556-557).


Remember these things, bearing witness before God, not to fight over words for nothing beneficial, for the ruin of the hearers. Fervently undertake to establish yourself approved to God, a worker without shame, rightly distinguishing the word of truth.

And avoid irreligious empty talk, for they will advance godlessness more and more, and their word will have a spreading as gangrene, of whom are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have departed from the truth, saying resurrection has already come about, and have overturned the faith of some (p.582).

  1. 23-24

And reject foolish and uneducated disputes, knowing they beget fights. But it is not necessary for a slave of the Lord to fight, but to be gentle to all… (p.583)

For verse 1, Σὺ, SP says ‘it is not reflexive’ (p.557). Then why interpret it as ‘you yourself’? Again, for ἐνδυναμοῦ, he takes as second person imperative: but ‘be yourself empowered’ lacks lucidity. In verse 2 ἱκανοὶ ‘adequate’ is hardly better than able or qualified, the former which he mentions in his comments (p.560). But his evident desire to distance his renderings from the language of The Authorized Version of 1611 results in sacrificing clarity for less satisfying terms. Verse 4: what of the word ‘soldiering’? στρατευόμενος in Greek parlance here definitely takes in the notion of fighting and conflict. However, the English term ‘soldiering’ may imply non-combatant duties too: i.e. marching in rank, repairing sandals etc., and is as misleading as the Revised Standard Version’s construal, ‘no soldier on service…’, which is derived from the Revised Version (1881). Verse 9: ἀλλὰ ὁ λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ οὐ δέδεται/but the word of God is not bound. Also SP says, ‘to translate the semantics more expressively, Paul says that the word of God “does not stand bound,” with any hostile forces constituting the implied agency.’  But what does ‘stand bound’ have to do with δέδεται? I suggest that readers interpret it as ‘unfettered’. Again: his phrase ‘I suffer evil to the point of restraints as a criminal’ stultifies English and dulls whatever Greek nuance SP wants to convey, as does his comment ‘’in the realm or domain of the gospel, he suffers evil’ (p.571). At 14, he translates μὴ λογομαχεῖν, ἐπ’ οὐδὲν χρήσιμον, ἐπὶ καταστροφῇ τῶν ἀκουόντων/not to fight over words for nothing beneficial, for the ruin of the hearers. SP struggles to find the right way to express dative and prepositional clauses in coherent English. As a result, rather muddled meanings and awkward verbal constructions are furnished.

At verse 24 we read δοῦλον δὲ Κυρίου οὐ δεῖ μάχεσθαι/but it is not necessary for a slave of the Lord to fight. The chattel slave of ancient times lacked liberty: his master could have him flogged, treated shamefully or crucified. However, there were several servile statuses and experiences connected to characterizations of δοῦλος. And in the technical sense of the word bondservant alone is correct, for as P.A. Brunt observes, ‘In the early Republic the poor would enter into a contract (nexum) which somehow made them the debt-bondsmen of their creditors’, (‘Libertas in the Republic’ (p.285), in The Fall of the Roman Republic and Related Essays (1988, rep.2004)).  Paul’s specific indebtedness to God for redemption from sin and for forgiveness of sin is articulated fully by him in the Greek wording he employed.

Modern connotations of the word ‘slave’ in the west are linked to a master’s malice. SP believes that the word servant softens or distorts the meaning of the term’ δοῦλος (viz.p.710). SP suggests that it refers to spiritual slavery and thinks that ‘Paul is modulating the term from actual physical slavery…  without necessarily minimizing its implications, including physical ones’ (p.710). It is true that Paul’s use of δοῦλος is figurative, as in Sophocles Oedipus Tyrannus 410 where Tiresias, a blind seer of Thebes with prophetic gifts, says ‘I live as a slave to Loxias [Apollo]/ζῶ δοῦλος… Λοξίᾳ. His oracles were legendary in ancient Greek tragedies. Therefore δοῦλος in Pauline salutations refers to a [consecrated] servant or attendant of a deity, i.e. servus Dei, whose love for the controlling figure in their life is great. He readily desires to fulfill his god’s wishes; but the envisioning of an Apostle who is suffering from an abused slave-mindset, united symbolically with God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, should not be inferred from either the English or Greek passages.

Titus was assigned to the island of Crete to set up a fellowship that needed guidance on its organization and Christian lifestyles.

[Tit. 1:1-4]. 1 Παῦλος δοῦλος Θεοῦ, ἀπόστολος δὲ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ κατὰ πίστιν ἐκλεκτῶν Θεοῦ καὶ ἐπίγνωσιν ἀληθείας τῆς κατ’ εὐσέβειαν 2 ἐπ’ ἐλπίδι ζωῆς αἰωνίου, ἣν ἐπηγγείλατο ὁ ἀψευδὴς Θεὸς πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων, 3 ἐφανέρωσεν δὲκαιροῖς ἰδίοις τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ ἐν κηρύγματι ὃ ἐπιστεύθην ἐγὼ κατ’ ἐπιταγὴν τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Θεοῦ, 4 Τίτῳ γνησίῳτέκνῳ κατὰ κοινὴν πίστιν· χάρις καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ Θεοῦ Πατρὸς καὶ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν.

¹Paul, slave of God and apostle of Jesus Christ on the basis of faith of the elect of God and knowledge of truth that is on the basis of godliness ² upon hope of eternal life, which the unlying God promised before time eternal, ³ and manifested in his own times respecting his word in proclamation, with which I myself was entrusted on the basis of the command of our Savior God; to Titus, genuine child on the basis of common faith. Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

Notes. For SP, the breadth of meaning for κατὰ in Pauline greetings means little more than ‘on the basis of’.  In verse 1, would not ‘through the belief of God’s elect’ be better than on the basis of…? He translated so on page 714. SP assumes that his system of linguistic exegesis rules out any theological bias on his part. His footnote on M. Harris’ book, Prepositions and Theology in the Greek New Testament (2012), asserts that Harris ‘reads too much theological nuance into prepositions’ (p.713fn.13). Maybe. In another place, he argues that I. Allen, ‘emphasizes the significance of the conjunction because of the important theological section that follows’ (p.818,fn.30). But an argument easily can be made that SP diminishes theological shades of distinctions, passim, and attributes to grammatical units a meaning or significance of Formal Systemic Functional Grammar that they do not possess. All of the above is a fair illustration of how SP understands Greek and English in the commentary.

Grammatical notes in PE  are distributed profusely. Beyond question, some Formal Systemic Grammar labels do not help readers penetrate to the core meanings of Greek speech, nor do they always bring them to credible conclusions about Greek words and their relations to one another. For one who is so particular about linguistic descriptions, it is clear from the proposed English glosses that SP values linguistic reports of Greek terms more highly than fluent renderings of Greek locutions. And his translation theory is not equal to the exacting theory of linguistics he applies to the Greek scriptures. The reviewer selected a set of passages that are representative of his translation technique. Sometimes literal, at other times paraphrastic, rarely idiomatic. The alpha privative –– is rendered attentively by compound words in English prefixed with un. Still, here and there he even struggles to deal with genitive constructions in Greek or to put adjectives in a place that make for sensible English.

There is much that is redundant and cryptic in SP’s linguistic descriptions of phrases. In SP’s hands, Greek terms usually have broader or narrower semantic domains than are normally detected by grammarians, depending on the type of clause or word he is considering. His linguistic schemes do not supply constant assurances. E.g., repeatedly readers meet with ‘probably’ locative (p.602), ‘probably emphatic’ (p.603), ‘probably here to draw attention to the complement either by fronting or by expansion’ (p.605), ‘seems to indicate that this prepositional unit is better understood as…’ (p.606), and ‘probably middle, indicating internal agency within the medium process-core’ (p.610). More than 200 similar propositions can be documented. His aspectual theories cannot firmly or fully account for the verbal phenomena he explicates. The commentary suffers from an excessive amount of intuition; although an intense struggle toward a deeper understanding of the text is obvious.

In what is purportedly a diagnostic study of PE’s Greek wording, SP offers no emendations. He adheres closely to UBS⁵/NA²⁸. But MSS show variances in haphazard ways. In some places help is needed. Without listing the textual reasons why these MS readings recommend themselves to this reviewer, at I Tim. 1:1, ἐπιταγὴν survives in the text, επαγγελιαν from codex  א. It is enhancive, intensifying the force of God’s command which fixed Paul’s apostleship in eternity. In addition: I Tim. 1:17, for ‘immortal’ (ἀφθάρτῳ), replace it with αθανατῳ from MS D. The perfections of God enumerated by Paul in this verse are superlative and need continuity. II Tim. 2:16 has κενοφωνίας, καινοφώνίας (MS G) is more nuanced. An escalation of impiety is due to ‘heretical words’ of a new and unusual sort. In reference to female domestics, in Tit. 2:5, οἰκουργούς lacks a literary tradition and is improbable. Replace with οἰκουρός (א², D², H), which easily is inferred from the former reading.

Some statements made by SP simply are frankly naïve. For instance, on any definite article preceding faith/πίστις, he states that might imply an ‘objective sense of institutionalized faith’, he writes, ‘The assertion seems to be based on the idea that the article indicates definiteness, which it often does in English. Greek, however, does not have a definite or indefinite article per se but merely an article that is used as a modifying specifier’ (p.75, as well:p.113,fn.9,p.151,615). That claim is unequivocally wrong. Also, he does not believe that the ‘specifying function’ is ‘grounded in the demonstrative pronoun, as was previously thought, but possibly in the relative pronoun’ (p.75). Over time this new line of thought has led dedicated scholars fall again for the views of the editors who issued the 1881 English Revised Version. B. Gildersleeve’s (1831-1924) treatment in his Syntax of Classical Greek: Part One: section 514, is not superseded by Formal Systemic Functional theory. Better still, see The Cambridge Grammar of Classical Greek (2019), which states: ‘Greek has a definite article… because it refers to someone/something that is identifiable’ (p.328). It is in the front ranks of Greek grammars despite all the advanced depictions of ancient Greek composition made by modern linguists.

Appraising the value of this commentary is difficult. It may have some specialized uses, maybe in a Proseminar. Notwithstanding its merits, its value to New Testament studies will be much more important if viewed as a tertiary text to I.H. Marshall’s The Pastoral Epistles (2004,ICC) and G.W. Knight III’s The Pastoral Epistles (1999,NIGTC). Substantial revisions of the translation, expansion of textual notes, the reduction of redundant descriptions and an index of Greek words will increase its overall usefulness. All the categories and subcategories used by SP produce taxonomies that burden ancient words with modernistic verbal echoes, through which it is doubtful ancient authors intended readers to listen to them. The time spent learning them all, however, could be better spent reading long extracts of Greek, whence comes one’s proficiency in Greek grammar. In what other way would one learn of Polybius’ use of the imperfect when depicting individual incidents in battle or of his use of the aorist chiefly for narrating on wartime events? Besides, Plutarch’s liking for the participle could be learned second-hand, but direct inspection of his texts extends one’s knowledge and experience.

SP’s embrace of Formal Systemic Functional Linguistics harkens back to attempts to utilize the new philology of Francis Bopp (1791-1867) in the 19th century. For a time his philological ideas controlled how scholars perceived the origins of Greek and Latin or how those origins were understood, building on the researches of British Orientalist Sir William Jones (1746-1794) who pioneered comparative linguistics. He proposed the common ancestry of Sanskrit, Greek and Latin. And so, enthusiasm for Sanskrit language and literature prevailed, the mastery of which was thought to resolve most Indo-European philological problems. This proved to be untrue. Likewise, if the form of linguistic studies transmitted in this commentary is any indication of new trends, then, aside from biblical students who will be compelled by Professors to use it as a textbook, the form of it all will need to be reconsidered because the truths of the Greek text do not appear clearly in English translation when Formal Systemic Functional Grammar techniques are the basis of New Testament scholars’ exegetical strategies.

[Endnote: Several pages have blurred typefaces: e.g., 814,815,839. The editors of Baker Academic should have directed SP toward a more serviceable goal and arranged this commentary in a more functional way].

Darrell Sutton is a Classicist

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Letter to the Editor


Letter to the Editor, 7th January 2024

I entered University College Hospital in the Euston Road for the second time last year after several heart attacks. Later I also had spells in the Royal Free Hospital in  Hampstead and Barts Hospital.

Much to my astonishment, I found that the aforementioned hospitals had embraced a much wider duty of care than is generally recognised as reasonable. In practice this meant that these hospitals were able and willing to prevent patients from leaving even if they wished to do so. It also imposed what amounted to imprisonment  without trial by insisting that patients are kept in hospital longer than is strictly necessary.

The current  madness in the NHS seems to be  this, they assume that everyone must not be exposed to the slightest risk. This means that anyone can be in effect forced to undergo treatment. Carried to  extremes in the NHS is this is not only deeply unpleasant but potentially financially ruinous.

To police this situation the hospitals employ a computer system whereby only the  staff can enter and leave without permission. This is policed using a swipe card system. No card, no entry.

To enforce these rules the hospitals employ heavy handed security personal – – I was assaulted on several occasions when I attempted to get past the door systems.

The legal mechanism of what is effectively imprisonment without trial is probably Deprivation of Liberty orders https://www.gov.uk/guidance/deprivation-of-liberty/ These require much less justification than, for example, criminal charges.

My advice to those contemplating going into hospital is to think very carefully about any treatment other than the most obvious emergency procedure although even that can result in a Deprivation of Liberty order. Something, evidently, is profoundly wrong with the NHS.

From Robert Henderson

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Endnotes, January 2024

Hans Knappertsbusch, credit Wikipedia

Endnotes, January 2024

In this edition: music from Iceland; vintage Bruckner from the Berlin Philharmonic, reviewed by Stuart Millson

Orchestral music for the stage is the theme of a recent disc from Chandos, except that the composers concerned are ~ until now ~ almost completely unknown to British audiences. Iceland’s Jon Leifs is known to audiences here at home (a dramatic piece of his was performed at the Proms some ten years ago) but his fellow countryman, Pall Isolfsson (1893-1974), and countrywoman, Jorunn Vidar (1918-2017) are surely making their debut.

Vidar’s ballet score, Eldur ~ or Fire (a work from 1950) starts the programme, occupying just under ten minutes of the disc. Written for the, then, new National Theatre in Reykjavik, Vidar’s piece brings the element of fire from Iceland’s rocky landscape into the concert hall. The performers here, the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, field a very fine woodwind section, whose clarinet player particularly stands out; the instrumental sound captured as if in a chamber hall. But the orchestral combustion spreads and the listener will enjoy (as in Wagner), a motif, representing flames; then a waltz-like touch to the writing; and a growing sense of overpowering forces, via brass ~ the horn section, in particular., but it seems that this Icelandic composer has a near-unique style of her own: not quite romanticism, and certainly not atonality, but a simplicity, a directness, no doubt sculpted by her island-nation’s remoteness, darkness and elemental forces. One listens in vain here for echoes of Nielsen and Sibelius

However, for Vidar’s second ballet on the CD, Olafur Liljuros (1952), a more nostalgic, old-world, storybook-style emerges ~ perhaps reminiscent, in part, of Grieg’s setting of antique, baroque tunes in his Holberg Suite (or even similar folk-like pieces by our own Warlock and E.J. Moeran). And the eight-part ballet sequence presented here works like a suite, rather than a work for dance, charting the adventures of one Olafur ~ a figure from the old Norse ballads of Iceland ~ whose life is in peril after chancing upon a group of elf-maidens. Beware of appearances is the moral of the story. Yet despite its simple, fairy tale quality, there is ~ once again ~ some beautiful writing here: ravishing violin playing by the Icelanders, which achieves a rare quartet-like intimacy; and crystal-clear brass, with a trombone tone that ‘hangs’ in the air. Curiously, this Super-Audio CD creates an all-enveloping acoustic, as if you are sitting in the very heart of the orchestra pit in the Reykjavik Theatre.

Finally, Isolfsson’s incidental music to Ibsen’s The Feast at Solhaug adds a true flourish to the disc, not least through a four-minute maestoso Overture, and gentle andante, entitled, The Mountain Dweller. Anyone seeking national flavour in music, or an enthusiast for lesser-known Nordic composers will derive endless pleasure from this well-recorded disc. Conductor Rumon Gamba leads his forces with total conviction: a triumph for this orchestra at ‘the edge of the world’.

Our last recommendation for the New Year edition is in the category of ‘historic performance’: a gripping reading by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Hans Knappertsbusch of Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony, ‘The Romantic’, recorded on the 8th September 1944. As Allied Forces closed in on the soon to be defeated and exhausted German army, artists of the calibre of those recorded here still found it within themselves to conjure a 19th-century idyll of forests, folk-festivals, hunting horns ~ all leading to one of those towering finales for which Bruckner is famous.

The Archipel label serves the history of recorded music well on their remastered Bruckner disc, allowing us to absorb the power which came from conductors such as Knappertsbusch and Furtwangler ~ figures for whom Beethoven, Wagner and Bruckner were gods. Here on Archipel, players from 80 years ago are on the edge of their seats as the world spins, and war and ruin advance. Yet music, as Carl Nielsen memorably remarked, remains inextinguishable.

Stuart Millson is the Classical Music Editor of The Quarterly Review

 CD details:

Icelandic Works for the Stage, Iceland Symphony Orchestra/Gamba, CHSA 5319.
Bruckner, Symphony No. 4, ‘Romantic’. Berlin Philharmonic/Knappertsbusch. ARPCD 0044.

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The Missing Link


Malcolm McDowell as Alex DeLarge, in A Clockwork Orange, credit Wikipedia

The Missing Link
Bill Hartley hits Stockton

Recent remarks by the Home Secretary, wherever they were directed, shone an unaccustomed spotlight on Stockton. [Editorial note; James Cleverly allegedly called Stockton a “s**thole” in the House of Commons]. Some towns never really succeed. Others go through a period of prosperity before sinking into decline. Stockton, on the north bank of the Tees, falls into the latter category. Like many councils Stockton’s local authority pours out optimistic propaganda but the townscape has all the signs of a decline which may be impossible to curtail. There is a revival plan though and it is going to cost a great deal of public money.

The high water mark of 19th century prosperity is often reflected in town centre architecture. Some places possess handsome commercial buildings and arcades adorned with sandstone facades, ornate windows and other decorations. Stockton is a depressing exception. The original port on the Tees was Yarm which had the good fortune to be superseded by Stockton, before it could be overwhelmed by industrialisation. Hence it retains the charm of a Georgian market town. In contrast, Stockton has a ragged row of undistinguished buildings along its high street.

Stockton was predestined to fail despite becoming the terminus for Mr Stephenson’s new railway, built to reach the Tees by the shortest route. From here South Durham coal could be shipped out. Even back then though, farsighted businessmen such as Joseph Pease who promoted the Stockton and Darlington Railway, saw it as merely a stepping stone. The ultimate destination was Middlesbrough, a place with more room for expansion. Stockton continued as a port serving the coal trade but no-one was going to spend money on handsome buildings which might signal confidence in the future.

There are today two Stockton’s. Just out of town along the A135 towards Yarm lie new housing developments, office parks, trading estates and car showrooms. In effect, people and businesses have gone elsewhere. These places may have the same postcode but it is quite possible to live here and never enter the town centre, which is only a short bus ride away.

Stockton’s life as a river port effectively came to an end with the opening of the Tees barrage in 1995. It was done with the aim of controlling the river’s flow to prevent flooding. The Tees is still in theory navigable and it is possible for light craft to reach Yarm. However, the operators PD Ports, ‘do not encourage’ recreational craft to travel upstream. Looking out over the wide expanse of river at Stockton, there is no sign of any craft, even of the light variety.

Behind the high street there are a few surviving Georgian town houses tucked away and enthusiastically promoted as ‘heritage’ by the council. Unfortunately the overriding impression is of worn out 1970s shopping developments whose tenants have fled, and for which demolition would be a merciful release. Pictures of the High Street from the 1980s show a last gasp of prosperity at a time when people still went to town on the bus to shop. The nostalgia sections of online local media feature memory lane pictures plundered from the archives. For long term residents of Stockton it must all seem rather poignant.

A walk down the bleak high street prompts a comparison with Durham’s dying coalfield communities further to the north. There are former retail premises with sufficient floor space to have been transformed into low end night spots. In close proximity lies a pawnbrokers and a slots arcade, plus of course the ubiquitous tattooist and a place where you can have your nose or eyebrows pierced. These are poverty row businesses found in low rent corners of most northern towns. In Stockton they have most of the high street.

Futurology plays a big part in local government planning, dutifully reported in the Northern Echo. For example, back in 2020 there was headline telling readers, ‘What the future could look like for six Teesside town centres’. Stockton and its hinterland have been the unfortunate recipients of boundary changes, done in a series of mainly futile attempts to create a sense of place under the banner of Teesside. In 1968 seven local councils were merged into a single district. Then in 1974 ‘reform’ came to the rescue when a new county called Cleveland was invented. Stockton came under the same authority as Middlesbrough, even though they lie on opposite sides of the river. Teesside now has a combined authority dishing out development grants. Looking back on the recent history of local government in the area, it might be understandable if the average person is completely baffled by who does what. The term six towns incidentally, is hardly common currency. It seems unlikely that the residents of genteel Yarm will wish to be associated with Stockton. Essentially it’s an artificial construct of the sort beloved by local government lifers, to try and give meaning and coherence to something dreamt up in a committee meeting.

More recently in 2021 the Guardian carried an article headlined, ‘Bulldoze the high street and build a giant park’. The story referred to what the local council, funded by grants from the combined authority, plan to do to rescue the place. The idea is to make the river an asset once more. A library is to be built and the local bureaucracy merged in a new council headquarters close by. In order to achieve this a gargantuan open space is to be created; essentially a huge landscaping project with an ‘urban park’ and a piazza. These spaces are seen as having potential for festivals and the like. All very well of course but such events don’t happen on every day of the year. Currently there are earthworks hidden behind hoardings next to the bush shelters. These are decorated by an artist’s impression of what life is soon to be like. Racing shells are depicted languidly rowing past parkland, like the Oxford Eights Week transported north. This forms part of an imagined aerial view with river and town blended seamlessly together. In this scene the high street has been purged of bookies and tattooists.

The problem with such a development apart from its sheer size (anticipated to be three times larger than Trafalgar Square) is the lack of ownership. Opening up such a large space will make it hard to integrate with the high street or dovetail into the town. Making it the venue for occasional festivals and other one off events leaves a gap during the remainder of the year. A gap if the example of similar projects is anything to go by, which will be filled by street drinkers and drug users. In turn others will find the place less inviting. Elsewhere when this has occurred the ‘solution’ is to employ street wardens to liaise with these people; additional unforeseen expenditure together with increased cleaning costs. It doesn’t solve the problem of course, merely demonstrates that it is being ‘managed’.

A better approach might have been for the council to acknowledge that economically speaking the high street is beyond salvaging. The places where people wish to live and work are up the road. Rejuvenation might have a better chance of success by seeking ways to bring old and new Stockton together, accepting that the nexus has moved. A riverside location has an aspect which could make it attractive for housing. Instead they have opted for a vast open space.

William Hartley is a Social Historian

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The Darkened Light of Faith

Frederick Douglass, credit Wikipedia

The Darkened Light of Faith; Race, Democracy, and Freedom in African American Political Thought, Melvin L. Rogers, Princeton University Press, Princeton & Oxford, 2023, 380 pp, hb, reviewed by Leslie Jones

The European is to the other races of mankind “what man is to the lower animals; – he makes them subservient to his use” (Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1835). Tocqueville despaired of ever seeing an aristocracy “…which is founded upon visible and indelible signs”, ever disappear. The habit of servitude, in his estimation, had given the slave “the thoughts and desires of a slave”. He noted that the prejudice of race was even stronger in the states which had abolished slavery, where the white “…fears lest they [the blacks] should someday be confounded together”.

Tocqueville’s pessimism about Europeans ever mixing with blacks was shared by several American commentators, notably Martin Robinson Delany. Born in 1812 in Virginia, Delany’s father was a slave, but his mother was free. Between 1850 and 1851, he was one of only four African Americans allowed to attend Harvard Medical School. He left in March 1851, never to return. The Dean, Oliver Wendell Holmes snr and many of the students had vehemently opposed the admission of black students. Professor Rogers considers Delany’s The Condition, Elevation, Emigration; and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States (1852) a “powerful indictment of American life”. Delany espoused a theory of history in which the role of elites was pivotal. Human nature, he averred, “generally produces political and ethical hierarchies to organise human relations” (Rogers, p158).

For Delany, his dismissal from Harvard Medical School and the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 underlined the unequal status of blacks in the United States, based on prevalent notions of their inborn racial inferiority. Unlike Frederick Douglass and David Walker, author of the incendiary Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World (1829), Delany regarded the white citizens of the United States as beyond redemption. The law, as Tocqueville maintained, is an expression of the underlying ethos of the people and it made African Americans “alien to the polity” (Rogers, p119). Frederick Douglass, in contrast, believed that man “is still capable of apprehending and pursuing that which is good”. He opposed Delany’s support for an independent black state by colonisation and emigration, accusing him of spreading “hopelessness among the free colored people …and thereby…resigned to the degradation which they have been taught …must be perpetual”. According to Delany, however, Douglass obfuscated the alien status of black people. In a letter to William Lloyd Garrison’s The Liberator, dated May 1852, he confided, “I have no hopes in this country – no confidence in the American people – with a few excellent exceptions – therefore I have written as I have done”.

Could the revolutionary spirit of 1776 transform America into what the author calls “a racially just society” (page 160), or the “more perfect union” referred to by Barack Obama, in a speech in 2008? Douglass, for one, concluded his eloquent 1852 Address ‘What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?’ on a relatively positive note, stating “I do not despair of this country…I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope”.

However, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11: 1). Faith is transcendental, whereas social science endeavours to be realistic, evidential and empirical. Professor Rogers acknowledges that in the 1890’s even Douglass’s faith in democracy dimmed, as, towards the end of his life, did that of W.E.B. Du Bois. In his autobiographical work Dusk of Dawn (1940), Du Bois states that the focus of his Souls of Black Folk (1903) was “the admission of my people into the freedom of democracy”. The lynching of Sam Hose in 1899, he also informs us, disrupted his sociological work of the 1890’s, as “one could not be a calm, cool, and detached scientist while Negroes were lynched, murdered and starved…” “Chin up”, he urged a friend, “and fight on, but realize that American negroes can’t win”.

Melvin R. Rogers regards Donald Trump as a supporter of “white supremacy [and] nativism” (p 3). And while he generally eschews Afro-pessimism, he advises black Americans to “always look on their white counterparts with suspicion”.

“Men”, Marx contends, “make their own history, but they do not make it as they please” (The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte). We commend Professor Rogers for his indefatigable labours.

[Editorial note; many thanks to Judith Cannon for her technical prowess]

Dr Leslie Jones is the Editor of QR

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Endnotes, December 2023

Lemminkäinen’s Mother at Tuonela, Robert Wilhelm Ekman, credit Wikimedia Commons

Endnotes, December 2023

In this edition: Collectors’ corner, vintage Elgar and Sibelius; Parry, Symphonic Variations, reviewed by Stuart Millson

Occasionally, it pays to walk away from the current CD catalogue and download ‘playlists’ and delve into the still-living and listened-to treasury of gramophone records. There is a true acontact with the spiralling grooves spinning at 33 1/3 rpm on the turntable; a real sense of pride in a collection as one holds the record cover ~ often a tangible, physical reminder of a particular time in life; a favourite composer, an obsession with a particular piece.

Those who think only of CDs, or whose music collection is locked inside an electronic bank of files –  think again. A trip to a specialist record shop, or trawl through internet lists, may put you in touch with an almost lost world of orchestras and conductors from times past; captured with recording techniques which can sometimes prove worthy rivals to contemporary labels. This month, we look at two such examples: medium-play microgroove records (i.e. c. 12 minutes of music per side) from the 1950s: Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro and Serenade for Strings played by the New Symphony Orchestra under Anthony Collins; and Sibelius’s The Swan of Tuonela, coupled with a thrilling recording of Lemminkainen’s Return, Op. 22, No. 4, from Thomas Jensen and the Danish State Radio Symphony Orchestra.

The conductor Anthony Collins has faded from view today, unjustly, as he recorded for Decca the first British Sibelius symphony cycle ~ a set which was transferred to the stereophonic Decca Eclipse label in the 1970s, joining a re-engineered mono-sound Vaughan Williams cycle from Boult and the LPO, and Holst’s The Planets in a 1958 rendition by Sargent and the LSO. For his Elgar music for strings, Collins (as in Sibelius) takes a direct, no-frills approach to those two curtain-raising staples of the English repertoire ~ generating in the (1905) Introduction and Allegro a tinge of that sea-breeze freshness which so inspired the composer on his musically fruitful holiday to Cardiganshire.

Unlike many modern interpretations, Collins (in straightforward Decca sound quality) exerts no pushing or pulling of the music; no unduly over-sensitive touches, no over-elaboration. Some, of course, might argue that alongside classic recordings (Barbirolli and Britten, or more recently, Edward Gardner and the BBC SO), the Collins approach lacks emotion. But by ‘playing a straight bat’, the (old) New Symphony Orchestra, allows listeners to savour a simplicity of style and faithfulness to the score. Yet that is not to say that the New Symphony strings lack vitality, for in the impetuous concerto grosso passages (so associated with Ken Russell’s 1960s’ Elgar film) listeners will find themselves lifted to the high trackways of the Malverns, the surging waters on the River Severn, the skyscapes of the English-Welsh border where Elgar roamed and (in his words) ‘dreamed of something very great’.

The Danish State Radio Symphony Orchestra of 65-75 years ago was clearly a force to be reckoned with; Decca’s sound-technicians of the time capturing a woodwind sound of sparkling intricacy ~ a sunlit Nordic tide bringing the Finnish folk-hero, Lemminkainen, to the country of his childhood. Part-Don Juan, part-Siegfried, the legendary warrior clearly inspired an outburst of national rejoicing in Sibelius’s writing, as an inextinguishable orchestral surge builds and recharges, before releasing the tension in a finale of affirmation and victory.

Any listener will surely be gripped by the cutting call-to-arms delivered by the very forward brass sound of the Danish orchestra ~ a startling blast, in a somewhat unnatural ambience, reminiscent of trumpets as famously captured in Janacek performances on the Czech Supraphon label.

Sir Hubert Parry’s Symphonic Variations were premiered two years before Elgar’s rather longer-in-span and more famous ‘Enigma’ Variations, yet some passages match (or rival) Elgar for heroic melancholy. And yet in Parry, the autumnal elegies of Brahms’s slow movements are never far away: the English master taking the clarinet and horn sound of the great Johannes, transposing it from Hamburg or the Rhineland to the willowy walks of Sussex.

Listen, though, for a change of mood just over halfway through the work; a furrowing of the brow by Parry, as urgent, stormy strings and organ-like blocks of sound from French horns create a terrible grandeur ~ like glimpses of winter sunshine through a tempest. Playful, bittersweet woodwind usher in delight and nostalgia, so we are hearing far more than stately, Teutonic gestures ~ the woodwind managing a final re-appearance ~ giving the work an optimistic ending.

The variations run as a continuous whole, Parry emerging as a true master of our English musical renascence ~ the foundation-builder of what was to come in the age of Elgar and Vaughan Williams.

Stuart Millson is the Classical Music Editor of The Quarterly Review

Record and CD details:

Elgar, Introduction and AllegroSerenade for Strings. New Symphony Orchestra of London, Anthony Collins. LW 5047.

Sibelius, The Swan of TuonelaLemminkäinen’s Return. Danish State Radio Symphony Orchestra, Thomas Jensen, conductor. LW 5105.

Parry, Symphonic Variations. London Philharmonic Orchestra, Mathias Bamert. Chandos 6610.

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