A Frothy Mug in the Houses of Liberty

Free speech in the coffee houses of Europe and America birthed the rise of gentility, republican government, and liberty during a time of, as Beatrix Potter said, “swords and periwigs and full-skirted coats with flowered lappets – when gentlemen wore ruffles, and gold-laced waistcoats of paduasoy and taffeta…” Whether philosophical men between sips passionately debated the latest movements of the British Army in America, or some highwaymen sat brooding plots over steaming mugs, coffee was sure to find its way at the heart of most adventures. With the introduction of coffee into Europe in the 17th century and the subsequent rise of the coffee house as a public forum in the 17th and 18th centuries, some of the greatest political, social, and literary achievements of Great Britain and America started with a cup of coffee.

Read more on Landmarks of Liberty

E. Wesley – Mackinac Center Intern

A Tribute to the Second Battle of the Marne

As we approach July 17th, the landmark date for the beginning of the Second Battle of the Marne, I thought it appropriate to wrap up the World War I theme. I’ve composed a poem, perhaps from the perspective of the French or British soldiers during the Allied counter offensive of the battle, in which the troops were expected to abandon their trenches and fight a less conventional war (Neiberg 40:10). American reinforcements are now numbering about twenty two to twenty three thousand soldiers a day, giving the French more leeway room for ambitious tactics (Ibid 59:36). My poem gets at the contradictions of the war and hints at future problems that proved all too true in our post world war era. It looks back to the 19th century Christian world for its inspiration of childhood, including the Victorian concept for an imaginative and chivalrous youth. Like Chesterton’s Ballad of the White Horse, it is an attack on Nihilism, although more pertinent to the 20th and 21st centuries. Below are some video tributes.

E. Wesley – Mackinac Center Intern

The Men at the Marne

Leave our trenches and coldly fight
To ascend the world of death and light?
And all because more men as we
Now come from a far country?
The cost of men to save more men;
Which is more costly? None now ken.
To war, from ditch to earth our height;
We fight our act; and act our fight;
The plan from those whose ends are met
Without a thought to cost or debt.
So sacrifice untallied be,
Until by war, from war, we’re free.

What lurked behind clouds of glory,
An endless war; who could foresee?
Only the wise, but they spoke not,
And with sorrow left to their lot
The foolish who’s counsel it was
Within a year to win the cause.
From death, more hard than earth their toil,
They sooner learned to hide in soil.
Now, weeping, wailing it seems,
Pours from the guns that slay the dreams,
Of a generation young but old
Between worlds modern and more bold.

More men, less care; more life, less life,
If ever we win to lose our strife.
But such a world that would arise,
Might wage new war within the skies.
Empire ends. What will next be;
Harder masters or liberty?
Time of troubles, wherein the right
Is just as wrong as wrong is trite;
Where law is law that law is not,
From naught is naught, and naught our lot?
For childhood once more we would
Stand as we stand for truth and good.

A video tribute to the Second Battle of the Marne

This was an earlier battle called Passchendaele, but it has some actual original footage worth watching.

Work Cited:
Neiberg, Michael S. The Second Battle of the Marne: The Turning Point of 1918. US Army War College. Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle, PA. 20 August 2008. Lecture. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aey6nVhZpcU

Image of General gouraud french army world war i machinegun marne 1918 from Wikipedia

Cross-posted from Landmarks of Liberty

Great Britain and the Gregorian Calendar: What is the Date?

Much confusion in the writing of history arises from the fact that history spans a diverse array of dating methods. Because man’s knowledge is finite, his methods for discovering what is true are in constant flux. One of these changes has been the altering of the old Julian calendar to the present Gregorian calendar. Great Britain and her colonies did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until Sept. 14, 1752 (The 1752 Calendar Change). Accordingly, dating American and British history before 1752 is difficult, and merits a short discussion in any context that addresses the history of these nations. Read more on Landmarks of Liberty

E. Wesley – Mackinac Center Intern

The Magna Carta: Signed June 15, 1215

“Our king a mock, a coward he
Did fail our land across the sea!
His sword was blunt, his armor weak,
From lack of use with rust did creak.

“And after this expensive venture,
He earned the Roman Pope’s censure,
Till we like Joseph have been sold,
As slaves, by a friend and brother cold.

“What is liberty but from this,
To have a sure deliverance?
At our feet shall tyrants assent,
To spurn not oaths of service lent!”

Thus spoke Sir Robert Fitz-Walter,
A cry for freedom without falter,
Which past nobility rang forth,
Telling mankind liberty’s worth.

Read about the Magna Carta on Landmarks of Liberty

E. Wesley – Mackinac Center Intern

Sir Edward Elgar: The Last Bard of Great Britain

Although the light of his musical genius has faded with the passing of time and fancy, Sir Edward Elgar resurrected English Classical music from a long slumber to a climax of patriotic fervor by setting to music the strongest British sentiments that ever beat in an Edwardian Englishman’s heart. With the performance of Elgar’s Coronation Ode at the coronation of King Edward VII himself, Elgar reached at the very heart of the splendor and moral code of the English court and all that had been “Victorian” and would become “Edwardian.” However, even with the utterance of Elgar’s invocation at the 1902 coronation, “Lord of Life, we pray, Crown the King with Life!,” the British Empire stood upon the brink of its greatest and final collapse in the 20th century, and these golden days would soon turn to blood. Elgar became the last bard of Great Britain. Read more on Landmarks of Liberty

E. Wesley – Mackinac Center Intern

The Battle of Formigny: England vs. France (April 15, 1450)

Much of Western Civilization in Western Europe has been characterized by the nationalistic animosity between England and France that took two world wars to finally end. But where did this animosity come from? In 1066, the Duke of Normandy (France) invaded England, dethroned Edward the Confessor, and became known as William the Conqueror. At that point, noble titled land in France became linked to the Norman English kings. However, as France followed the Conqueror’s model of royal feudal centralization of the nobility, French lands became a recipe for dynastic contest. Between 1337 and 1453, the kings of England and France waged perhaps the longest single national war in Western history, the Hundred Years’ War. Until 1429, the English were winning the war in almost every land encounter. In that year, nationalist hero of France and Catholic saint, Joan of Arc, broke the English siege of Orleans, setting in motion a twenty four year process of French unification and expulsion of English forces in France. However, the most decisive battle against the English on land was the Battle of Formigny on April 15, 1450. The battle would not only signal the end of the Hundred Years’ War, it would solidify the imperial contest between England and France on the national scale for future eras to come. This division within Western Civilization was born out in many key events of the founding of liberty in the West.  Read more on Landmarks of Liberty

E. Wesley – Mackinac Center Intern

Sir Robert Walpole: A New Executive

If ever a glorious concept of government arose from a scandalous politician, Sir Robert’s Walpole’s career would fit the description.  Walpole politically defined the executive for the rest of the Western World to follow.  On the surface of it, Walpole did little to advance liberty through his policy, but his political organization did much to bring about concepts of limited government and liberty throughout the Western world and beyond.  Read more on Landmarks of Liberty

E. Wesley – Mackinac Center Intern