The Lamps room Going Out, yet Where?December 3, 2012

Author: beach Combing | in : contemporary , trackback


Lord Grey’s renowned quotation that ‘the lamps space going out anywhere Europe’ came eventually to encapsulate the horror of 1914. Grey, then Britain international secretary and an exquisitely cultured and civilised individual, speak the indigenous on 3 respectable 1914 just prior to the great powers jointly committed suicide. He recorded the declare in his autobiography in 1925 and there is no reason to doubt that this comment was in reality made. Except the reality that Grey was always honest we additionally have a witness, the British reporter Alfred Spender who admitted, in 1927, that the sentence was stated in his presence:

I experienced again late in the night at his room at the foreign Office top top Monday, august 3, and also it to be to me he used the words i m sorry he has repeated in his book , ‘The lamps are going out everywhere Europe, and also we shall not watch them lit again in ours lifetime.’ we were standing together at the window looking out into the sunset throughout St. James Park, and the illustration of the first lights follow me the Mall suggested the thought.

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The phrase seem come have captured on no in the 1920s but only in the 1930s and 1940s, i m sorry is surprising since by then the light has flickered on and also off another time. However, coast is troubled by something else and also that is where the lamps were going out. He would instinctively interpret Grey’s phrase as meaning. ‘Christ, Spender, the bloody Continentals are around to ruin themselves v war.’ In various other words the brother were no to be connected in Armageddon.

This would certainly be a characteristics British usage of words ‘European’ the takes for granted that the British are not part of the continent. Because that the 99% of humankind who have actually the good or poor fortune no to be born in the Green and also Pleasant Land, this can seem a little eccentric: look at a globe. But it is deeply embedded in brothers skulls. Because that example, as soon as Beach was creating ‘the bloody Continentals’ above, he automatically wrote ‘the bloody Europeans’ and then had to go earlier and ‘correct’ it because that an international audience.

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In the 1920s, Grey, that course, may have reinterpreted the sentence. By then it was fairly clear the Britain’s participation had actually been disastrous. (Arguably her non-participation would have actually been catastrophic, the though is an additional question.) yet there space two points that give Beach courage in his interpretation. First, over there is a long tradition of the British looking eastwards, shaking your head as occasions unfold ‘over there’ and also just pulling up the drawbridge. The most famous of these is Pitt’s ‘Roll up the map: it will not be want these ten years’ ~ Austerlitz. Grey was, ns suspect, speak in that tradition.

Second, is the reality that Grey was motivated by seeing the gas lamps gift lit in the London streets. Doesn’t the tell us around his state of mind? ‘The lights are coming top top in too ~ old Blighty, whereby a cozy, safe evening is pushing in, however those poor buggers in France and also Germany…’ the course, Britain was going come fight: Grey was one of the reasons that Britain went in guns blazing. However 3 respectable 1914 there to be still the idea the the UK would certainly do many of its shoot from ships against a crappy German navy: the massive BEF of 1915 had actually not however been imagined. Therefore let’s regain this sentence come what it originally was. A melancholy cry at the misfortune that Britain’s neighbours, no a breast-beating woe-is-me. There would certainly be lot of of time for the later… Other opinions: drbeachcombing in ~ yahoo period com


4 Dec 2012: From mr a comment that adds substantially to our knowledge: as Grey waited for the reply come the brothers Ultimatum (delivered by Goshen in Berlin at 7.00 pm), ns was told that Grey to be looking across the park toward 9 Carlton house Terrance ( the German Ambassador’s Residence at the time), actually NW if girlfriend look from the foreign Secretary’s Office. There offered to be a mantle gas lamp at the foot the the battle each other of York’s steps, just below the rear of No 9, and also I to be told as a young that this was the lamp stand in particular that influenced Grey’s remark’. Sunset in London on August third occurs at 8.44 afternoon GMT. Suspect the lamplighters functioned as they did as soon as I was a young the desk lamp would have been lit about 8.30 p,m., just before sunset. For this reason Grey made the comment to Spender having actually not heard native Goshen. (Goshen’s telegram native Berlin come London, informing London the the ultimatum had to be rejected immediately, was sent from Berlin but not ceded in London — suggesting interdiction of the cable traffic by Germany). Grey would therefore assume that he to be at war with Germany, but that the participation of the UK would certainly be limited to the naval commitment he had given to the French on august 2nd. As of august Britain had no extant plan for the embarkation of any kind of force come France.’ many thanks MR!!!