Yamba Surf Club was founded in 1908. The photo shows Tommy Walker surfing at Yamba around 1911. (Photo by O. B. Notley, from Manly Life Saving Club Australian Surfing Museum.) The post title is a reference to an O. Henry story.
Archive for the 'History' Category
Re-reading Ian Hancock’s fine history of liberal white politics in Rhodesia reminds me that the first politician in that sad country to harass and intimidate his political opponents was not Robert Gabriel Mugabe, but Ian Douglas Smith. Smith and his Rhodesian Front party arrested, tortured, silenced, detained, and killed black opponents of white rule. As far as I know, no white opponents were murdered, but they were arrested, deported, silenced, shouted-down in public meetings, made the victims of malicious innuendo, traduction, and defamation, and otherwise intimidated if they dared oppose RF rule. I know at least one opponent who committed suicide rather than kill his fellow citizens in defence of white privilege. These actions, Smith insisted, were for the maintenance of Western, Christian, values. Bah, humbug! As early as May 1965, in Smith’s first election as an incumbent prime minister, he prevented any white or black opposition politician from gaining access to state-owned media. In contrast, Smith himself was treated with great deference and respect, despite continuing to hold racist views that would have shamed a Klansman, after Mugabe came to power in 1980. He should have been tried as a war criminal. In a more just world, he would have been.
The terror that Robert Mugabe has unleashed on his homeland is different in scale, perhaps, but not in kind from that of Ian Smith. The evil that men do may well outlive them.
Ian Hancock : White Liberals, Moderates and Radicals in Rhodesia 1953-1980. New York: St Martin’s Press.
This post is a history of the family of Charles Burney FRS (1726-1814), musician and musicologist, and his ancestors and descendants.
Sir MacBurney was one of the 60 Knights who participated in a jousting tournament, supervised by Geoffrey Chaucer on the orders of Richard II, held at Smithfield in London in 1390.
One James Macburney is said to have come south to London from Scotland with King James I and VI in 1603. His descendant (likely a grandson), also James Macburney, was born around 1653 and had a house in Whitehall. His son, also called James Macburney (1678-1749), was born in Great Hanwood, Shropshire, around 1678, and attended Westminster School in London. In 1697, he eloped with Rebecca Ellis, against his father’s wishes. As a consequence, the younger James was not left anything when his father died. The younger man’s stepbrother, Joseph Macburney (born of a second wife) was left the entire estate of their father.
This younger James Macburney (1678-1749) was a dancer, violinist and painter, and was supposedly a wit and bon viveur. He and Rebecca Ellis had 15 children over 20 years, of whom 9 survived into adulthood. By 1720, he had moved to Shrewsbury, and Rebecca had died. He married again, to Ann Cooper, who apparently brought money to the union which helped her somewhat feckless husband. This second marriage produced 5 further children, among whom were Richard Burney (1723-1792) (christened “Berney”). The last two children were twins, Charles Burney (1726-1814) and Susanna (1726-1734?), who died at the age of 8. Their father James had apparently dropped the prefix “Mac” around the time of the birth of the twins.
One of Charles’ half-brothers was James Burney (1710-1789), who was organist at St. Mary’s Church, Shrewsbury, for 54 years, from 1732 to 1786. Charles Burney worked as his assistant from 1742 until 1744.
For a period, Charles Burney and his family lived in Isaac Newton’s former house at 35 St Martin’s Street, Leicester Square, London. Among Charles’ children were:
- Esther Burney (1749-1832), harpsichordist, who married her cousin Charles Rousseau Burney (1747-1819), also a keyboardist and violinist.
- Rear Admiral James Burney RN FRS (1750-1821), naval historian and sailor, who twice sailed around the world with Captain James Cook RN.
- Fanny Burney, later Madame d’Arblay (1752-1840), novelist and playwright.
- Rev. Charles Burney FRS (1757-1817), classical scholar.
- Charlotte Ann Burney, later Mrs Broome (1761-1838), novelist.
- Sarah Harriet Burney (1772-1844), novelist.
Charles’ nephew, Edward Francisco Burney (1760-1848), artist and violinist, was a brother to Charles Rousseau Burney, both sons of Richard Burney (1723-1792), Charles’s elder brother. This is a self-portrait of Edward Francisco Burney (Creative Commons License from National Portrait Gallery, London):
In 1793, Fanny Burney married Alexandre-Jean-Baptiste Piochard D’Arblay (1754-1818), an emigre French aristocrat and soldier, and adjutant-general to Lafayette. Their son, Alexander d’Arblay (1794-1837), was a poet and keen chess-player, and was 10th wrangler in the Mathematics Tripos at Cambridge in 1818, where he was a friend of fellow-student Charles Babbage. He was also a member of Babbage’s Analytical Society (forerunner of the Cambridge Philosophical Society), which sought to introduce modern analysis, including Leibnizian notation for the differential calculus, into mathematics teaching at Cambridge. d’Arblay was ordained and served as founding minister of Camden Town Chapel (later the Greek Orthodox All Saints Camden) from 1824-1837, and then served briefly at Ely Chapel in High Holborn, London. The founding organist at Camden Town Chapel was Samuel Wesley (1766-1837).
Not everyone was a fan of clan Burney. Here is William Hazlitt:
“There are whole families who are born classical, and are entered in the heralds’ college of reputation by the right of consanguinity. Literature, like nobility, runs in the blood. There is the Burney family. There is no end of it or its pretensions. It produces wits, scholars, novelists, musicians, artists in ‘numbers numberless.’ The name is alone a passport to the Temple of Fame. Those who bear it are free of Parnassus by birthright. The founder of it was himself an historian and a musician, but more of a courtier and man of the world than either. The secret of his success may perhaps be discovered in the following passage, where, in alluding to three eminent performers on different instruments, he says: ‘These three illustrious personages were introduced at the Emperor’s court,’ etc.; speaking of them as if they were foreign ambassadors or princes of the blood, and thus magnifying himself and his profession. This overshadowing manner carries nearly everything before it, and mystifies a great many. There is nothing like putting the best face upon things, and leaving others to find out the difference. He who could call three musicians ‘personages’ would himself play a personage through life, and succeed in his leading object. Sir Joshua Reynolds, remarking on this passage, said: ‘No one had a greater respect than he had for his profession, but that he should never think of applying to it epithets that were appropriated merely to external rank and distinction.’ Madame d’Arblay, it must be owned, had cleverness enough to stock a whole family, and to set up her cousin-germans, male and female, for wits and virtuosos to the third and fourth generation. The rest have done nothing, that I know of, but keep up the name.” (On the Aristocracy of Letters, 1822).
K. S. Grant: ” Charles Burney”, Grove Music Online. (Accessed 2006-12-10.)
POST MOST RECENTLY UPDATED: 2014-08-30.
On 22.00 on Monday 4 August 2014, Ryoji Ikeda turned-on an installation of a vertical light at Westminster, entitled Spectra, to commemorate the centenary of the entry of Britain into World War I. The light can be seen from many places elsewhere in central London, appearing to curve over the viewer and ending in a burst of brightness. The effect is ominous and hauntingly beautiful, particularly in the early hours of the morning when alone on the streets.
Kriegsspiel 1914: A war game re-enactment of the battles between German and Allied (French, Belgian, BEF) forces on the Western Front between late August and late September 1914, organized by Philip Sabin of the War Studies Department at King’s College London. Our team comprised Evan Sterling, Nicholas Reynolds and myself, and played as Germany. We beat the Allies, capturing more territory than Germany had captured in actuality in 1914. In other words, we not only beat the Allies, we beat History.
The photo shows the final placement of German forces (black boxes) after 6 rounds of fighting, with the yellow boxes showing territory held by Germany. Cells without yellow boxes are held by the Allies. This was immense fun. (Photo credit: Nicholas Reynolds.)
The actor Richard Burton famously played Hamlet at the Old Vic in 1953. The following story is from a profile of Burton written by journalist John McPhee in 1963 for Time Magazine, and recounted in the current New Yorker (“Elicitation”, 7 April 2014, p.57):
He [Burton] had completed about 60 performances and the box office was beginning to slide when the house manager came to his dressing room one evening and said, “Be especially good tonight. The old man’s out front.”
“What old man?”
“He comes once a year,” said the house manager. “He stays for one act and he leaves.”
“For God’s sake, what old man?”
As Burton spoke his first line – “A little more than kin, and less than kind” – he was startled to hear deep identical mutterings from the front row. Churchill continued to follow him line for line, a dramaturgical beagle, his face a thunderhead when something had been cut. “I tried to shake him off,” remembers Burton. “I went fast and I went slow, but he was right there.” Churchill was right there to the end, in fact, when Burton took 18 curtain calls and Churchill told a reporter that “it was as exciting and virile a performance of Hamlet as I can remember.” Years later, when Winston Churchill – The Valiant Years was under preparation for television, its producers asked Sir Winston who he thought should do the voice of Churchill. “Get that boy from the Old Vic,” said the old man.
They got that boy from the Old Vic.
I was headed out down a long bone-white road, straight as a string and smooth as glass and glittering and wavering in the heat and humming under the tires like a plucked nerve. I was doing seventy-five but I never seemed to catch up with the pool that seemed to be over the road just this side of the horizon. Then, after a while, the sun was in my eyes, for I was driving west. So I pulled the sun screen down and squinted and put the throttle to the floor. And kept on moving west. For West is where we all plan to go someday. It is where you go when the land gives out and the old-field pines encroach. It is where you go when you get the letter saying: ‘Flee, all is discovered.’ It is where you go when you look down at the blade in your hand and see the blood on it. It is where you go when you are told that you are a bubble on the tide of empire. It is where you go to grow up with the country. It is where you go to spend your old age. Or it is just where you go.
It was just where I went.”
Robert Penn Warren : All the King’s Men. Harcourt, Brace and Company.
Only the other day, I was reporting on revolutionary communists in the Rhodesia of the late 1950s. One of those alleged revolutionaries, a founder of a non-racial co-operative farm and of rural health clinics, Molly Clutton-Brock, has just died aged 101. Her obituary is here. Her late husband, Guy, is the only white Zimbabwean buried at Heroes’ Acre national cemetery, outside Harare.