The war will bring about theocracy

Lady Mary Glyn wrote a long letter to Ralph. She had strong, if eccentric, views about politics, and was almost as shocked by Australian soldiers’ democratic nature as she was by the Easter Rising.

April 26 1916
Peter[borough]

My darling own blessed Scraps

Easter Day makes me long for you, but all days make me long for you….

I distinguished myself at Windsor by getting bad with indigestion, but it was good to be with John & Maysie, & see them so happy in another Windsor spell of work, and yet being together. He heard when we were there that another operation will not be necessary, but as his Medical Board gave him 3 months they have taken a very good house, “Essex Lodge”, the present house being required by the owner, and this is a much better one with a garden & tennis ground. John is of course very busy, and up early, & at work till late. He looks well, and is in good spirits, evidently liking his work. We saw Cecily Hardy & her Giant, and Tony & Sylvia, & a new Coldstream acquisition – a very Highland McGregor who till lately was engineering in India – quite a new type in the Brigade!

The Political Crisis made those days full of excitement, but none of these soldier people seemed to care, or to look at the papers, and were sure the King would come whatever happened. And he did, but the Crisis was supposed to be over, and the Cabinet once more firmly (?) in the saddle of Compromise. Now the Secret Session, and the result whatever it may be of that settlement is to be made known to so many talkers & plotters and schemers that it will be impossible for all the cats to be in the bag long. Meantime there is a shaken confidence, a longing for a leader other than we have, for this strange growth of freedom to know its limitation, and to recognise its own dependence on laws not made by man, but inflexible because “just and true”, and belonging to the Kingdom that will endure throughout all ages. When we really will, that will come, and its obedience, and we shall learn what freedom is. It does not lie with Democracy, or in Kaiser rule, or in a Republic, but it does in a Theocracy – and my belief is that it is to be restored through this War and “tumult of the nations”….

France is surely ahead of us in the spirit of a new vision, & Russia is invincible because of that vision long accepted – and we wait for it, and you all are bringing it nearer.

(more…)

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Heavy breathing and foul language – but a great success

Sydney Spencer faces his last day at the YMCA camp, and looks back over his experiences.

Thursday Sept 24th
[Opposite a page setting out the Morse code]
The following is the Morse Code written in this book for me by one of the privates here. He lent over our impromptu letter box & wrote it earnestly with much heavy breathings. I want to learn this code if at all possible…

Tomorrow I leave the camp. Am I sorry? Yes, I must own that I have quite a number of regrets in leaving Harwich. The last two or three days have been such a pleasure & I have so warmed to the work that I shall distinctly leave behind many pleasant memories, & but very few unhappy ones. With the exception of one man’s foul language to myself, for which I just straightly attacked him, I have had not one unpleasant passage of arms with the men. Our concert last evening was really a huge success. The place after a most strenuous two hours preparing looked – use a university modernism – “top hole”. I had a very busy time of it preparing, & when it was done – the platform made, the counter covered up, and candles placed in saucers on a form for footlights, then I really felt that we were well rewarded for our labours. The items on the programme were all or nearly all quite successful, & Private Macgregor who sang Father O’Flinn and Long Live The King, & other songs, really was the best item of the evening for his healthy figure & his splendid voice, & his splendid taste in singing made him for me the best of the bunch. He took a real joy in his singing & made the whole air tingle with the splendid swing of his singing. Today has been a rather hard day for me, as Hayes has been out most of the day to get a rest from yesterday’s concert. Tonight he has gone out with the “light” signallers, with Lieutenant Chadington who was last night at our concert, & also sang. He sang very well indeed – rag times – and delighted the men. Daldry was very cut up because we had the counter closed up. I should think that the concert would have been lowered 80 or 90 per cent at least.

Sydney Spencer’s diary, 1914 (D/EX801/12)