Sunday, 6 July 2014

Countdown to War, Day 9. 6 July: rumblings still in Austria-Hungary, outright rebellion in Ireland

One hundred years ago today, on Monday 6 July 1914, Martin, our young Mancunian, might have gone through his Manchester Guardian in search of some good news – and found rather more of the other kind.

Surrey had made a magnificent start in their county match against his beloved Lancashire, posting a commanding score of 371 for only five wickets lost at the end of the first day’s play. “Their success, even from the Lancashire point of view, had its compensations,” proclaimed the journalist sententiously, “It provided an exhibition of good batting by players who are always worth watching...”

Martin snorted in disbelief. Whoever wrote those words knew nothing about supporting a team. Good play by the other side? How’s that a good thing? We want them to crumble into ignominy, not provide us with a display of inspiring – and winning – play.

The coffins of the Archduke and his wife at the train in Sarajevo
In Vienna, it emerged the couple wasn't equal in death
any more than in life
In other news, the assassinated Austrian Archducal couple had been buried at last. And what a bunch that imperial family was: the friends of the Duchess had been incensed at the funeral by the “emphasis laid upon her inequality of birth with the Archduke, as manifested in the funeral arrangements.” 

She’d been a mere countess, who had dared to marry into the imperial family, and for that they treated her with disrespect? Even though it was only because she’d thrown her lot in with Franz Ferdinand’s that she’d been murdered with him? What a crew. Worse than the Surrey cricket team.

And the dust still hadn’t settled. Another article pointed out that “unconfirmed reports say that many Servians have been expelled from Bosnia.” Still plenty of bitterness there, then.

Sir Edward Carson
Proving his loyalty by arming a rebellion 
Not sure I'd want to meet him on a dark night
Especially if he had a bunch of armed Ulstermen with him
That ghastly man Sir Edward Carson had been speaking out on Ireland again, at some public meeting.

I go on, he said, as I began and I am going on to a finish. (Cheers.) I believe in a United Kingdom – in one King, one Parliament, one flag, – and to defend that policy I am prepared to go any length and to make any sacrifices. (Cheers.) Loyalty to the Union is my crime, and if I am indicted I am prepared to plead guilty. (Cheers.) 

“That’s right,” said the resident Cynic in Martin’s crew. “His crime is too much loyalty. Not raising and arming an illegal force of religious extremists.”

Apparently Carson “had grown weary of talking and was longing for something more.”

Something more. Easy to guess what that meant, since he was behind the people running guns to the Ulster Protestants. Martin smiled: it was, indeed, curious to call it loyalty when you were arming an insurrection.

Martin gave up on the subject. He preferred the piece about the joys of having breakfast in bed. It seemed that “breakfast is always punctual because there are always two gongs to let one know when it is necessary to begin to hurry.”

Gongs? There was no gong in his place. Sometimes no breakfast.

“The hostess who leaves the matter to her guests instead of seeking to improve their character”, presumably by forcing them out of bed sooner than they’d like, “will find that of all the luxuries she provides none will be more generally appreciated.”

He smiled wryly. In his house there were never guests and precious few luxuries. And certainly no hostess. Which rather accounted for his wryness.

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