Thursday, 7 August 2014

The London Crowd



London is back in Mafficking mood, and the blood lust has gripped its people. I hope the provincial towns are meeting the crisis in a far more serious mood. I wish I could blot from my memory the scenes of the last three days. They have been of the kind that shakes one’s faith in all those things which makes for moral and spiritual advancement in mankind. I saw London twice during the South African war. I witnessed the orgies of Ladysmith night. I saw them again on Monday and Tuesday evening, in the East End, West End, and the South side of the river, and I confess I was appalled with the light-hearted wrecklessness of my fellow men and women. Judging by the demonstrations of the crowd it might have been a picnic that nation was entering upon instead of the greatest crisis of a century – shouting, singing, cheering mobs; beside themselves with blood lust and war intoxication. They shouted patriotic songs, sang “Rule Britannia”, they clamoured on the top of the buses, waved miniature Union Jacks, and generally conducted themselves in a way that proved they could have no idea of the gravity of the situation.

(Halifax Courier, 8 Aug 1914)

[James Parker was the Labour M.P.  for Halifax from 1906 until 1918.  Mafficking (referring to loud and boisterous public celebrations) was a word invented after the news of the relief of Mafeking in 1900 during the South African War reached London, and led to widespread 'Mafficking'.  It seems obvious that James Parker had judged the situation better than the London crowds.]  

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