Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Hating your neighbour

Here is Horatio Bottomley (1860-1933), editor of John Bull, politician, swindler, Hun-hater, British patriot. No man did more to create a division between two Englands. I thought of him today while reading Frost's Notebooks.

'You must love your enemies at home at least better than your enemies abroad or it ends the nation.' --- Robert Frost, Notebooks, p. 304.

'I wish the Bosche would have the pluck to come right in & make a clean sweep of the Pleasure Boats... and all the stinking Leeds and Bradford War-profiteers now reading John Bull on Scarborough Sands.' --- Wilfred Owen, Collected Letters, p. 568.

'Besides my hate for one fat patriot
My hatred of the Kaiser is love true.'
--- Edward Thomas, 'This is no case of petty right or wrong'.

I take it that the fat patriot is Bottomley, although on this question Edna Longley's otherwise exhaustive edition remains silent.


  1. Blogger is playing up, so George Simmers (author of the Great War Fiction blog) has emailed me the following comment:

    Whom does Owen mean by 'war profiteers'? I can't see industrialists sitting on the Scarborough beach reading John Bull, a paper that purported to speak for the working-class and the ordinary soldier, against the authorities. So I guess that, like many of the period, he was using the phrase to cover the munition workers who were earning more than in peacetime, and a great deal more than the soldiers at the front. Bottomley was an awful man, but John Bull was quite a lively paper.

  2. I have to admit that I hadn't considered that possibility. By 'war-profiteers' I took Owen to mean the businessmen, not their employees. That said, Owen is pointedly critical about people (especially women) doing their patriotic bit for the war effort: as he reports to his mother on one occasion, 'shells made by women in Birmingham are at this moment burying little children alive not very far from here'.

    The obvious comparison is with the devastating double meaning in Sassoon's 'Glory of Women': 'You make us shells'.