R.I.P. England

John Derbyshire mourns a world that is now lost:

I am at the point with this business about the British hostages where I really can’t trust myself to post any more, I’m so mad. Toby Harnden indeed says much of what needs saying, but I think he is too kind to the enlisted men. They are saps and worms, insults to the Queen’s uniform. I’d better change track right here—see what I mean?

….My Mum, Esther Alice Knowles (1912-98), eleventh child of a pick’n’shovel coal miner, in one of the last conversations I had with her, said: “I know I’m dying, but I don’t mind. At least I knew England when she was England.”

I discounted that at the time. Old people always grumble about the state of the world. Now I understand it, though. I even feel a bit the same way myself. I caught the tail-end of that old England—that bumptious, arrogant, self-confident old England, the England of complicated games, snobbery, irony, repression, and stoicism, the England of suet puddings, drafty houses, coal smoke and bad teeth, the England of throat-catching poetry and gardens and tweeds, the England that civilized the whole world and gave an example of adult behavior—the English Gentleman—that was admired from Peking (I can testify) to Peru.

It’s all gone now, “dead as mutton,” as English people used to say. Now there is nothing there but a flock of whimpering Eloi, giggling over their gadgets, whining for their handouts, crying for their Mummies, playing at soldiering for reasons they can no longer understand, from lingering habit. Lower the corpse down slowly, shovel in the earth. England is dead.

Being an Anglophile of English descent, I too am sad to bear witness to the loss of England’s spirit, even if I feel it far less deeply. England is a parody of its former self, ruled by Scottish Laborites and Brussels bureaucrats, its population centers peopled by “Pakistanis”, its once-proud Navy defeated by ocean-going Persians.

Derbyshire, being an atheist, would not connect this national demise with the nation’s abandonment of Christianity. I am not saying that is the sole reason, or even a primary reason, but I do think it has played a not-insignificant part.