Mittwoch, 16. November 2011

John Bright

John Bright wurde heute vor zweihundert Jahren geboren. Kennt man ihn noch? Wenn er sonst nichts hinterlassen haben sollte, so hat er die englische Sprache um den schönen Ausdruck flogging a dead horse bereichert. Kann man bei vielen Gelegenheiten verwenden. Wird im Augenblick in der englischen Presse gerne mit Blick auf Griechenland verwendet, in Sätzen wie The concern is, how long do you keep flogging a dead horse? How long can Greece continue to be bailed out before someone says enough? John Bright ist ein Politiker gewesen, der die Kunst der politischen Rede beherrschte wie kaum ein anderer, one of the most gifted orators that England has ever produced hat Karl Marx gesagt. Die Kunst der politischen Rede liegt ja heute bei uns etwas im Argen. Und da meine ich nicht nur Herrn Pofalla.

Vor hundert Jahren, da kannte man John Bright in England noch. Auf jeden Fall in Lancashire. Ein Gelegenheitsdichter aus Lancashire namens William Baron (der auch unter dem Pseudonym Bill-O'-Jack's Verse im regionalen Dialekt schrieb) veröffentlichte diese etwas hölzernen Verse:

John Bright

'A soul on highest mission bent,
A potent voice in Parliament,—
A figure steadfast in the storm.''

A hundred years have winged their flight,
And left their furrows on Time's brow,
Since Rochdale's greatest son first saw the light,—
He whom we honour now. 

Sink differences of sect and creed,
And Party rancour let us shun ;
At such a time, the one thing that we need
Is perfect unison.

This feeling should predominate ;—
To pay our homage reverently,
And, with one will and purpose, celebrate
John Bright's centenary.

For 'tis our privilege to boast
That Rochdale was his native town ;
We shared in all his early struggles most,—
We share in his renown.

The people's wrongs he made his own,
Nor ever feared to take their part.
He won his way by deeds, not words alone,
Into the nation's heart.

And all the nation lauds to-day
The statesman, long since dead and gone;
Adding its tribute unto those we pay
To our illustrious son.

Time cannot dim his memory :
Secure he stands on Fame's steep height,
' Great souls are portions of Eternity '—
And great indeed was Bright!

Das Tennyson Zitat hat sich William Baron willkürlich bei Tennyson geborgt, nicht dass der diese Zeilen über John Bright geschrieben hätte. Er hat zwar über John Bright geschrieben, aber hat nicht so nette Dinge gesagt. Nicht jeder in England mag John Bright. Er war Quäker, und deshalb war er gegen den Krieg. The most belligerent of pacifists hat man ihn genannt. Er lässt sich von der britischen Großmannssucht und Kriegsbegeisterung beim Ausbruch des Krimkriegs nicht anstecken: The Angel of Death has been abroad throughout the land; you may almost hear the beating of his wings. Er war ganz energisch gegen den Krimkrieg (weshalb die Engländer sich da hineinziehen lassen, nachdem sie sich gerade in Afghanistan eine blutige Nase geholt haben, bleibt sowieso rätselhaft):

And what is that cost? War in the north and south of Europe, threatening to involve every country of Europe. Many, perhaps fifty millions sterling, in the course of expenditure by this country alone, to be raised from the taxes of a people whose extrication from ignorance and poverty can only be hoped for from the continuance of peace. The disturbance of trade throughout the world, the derangement of monetary affairs, and difficulties and ruin to thousands of families. Another year of high prices of food, notwithstanding a full harvest in England, chiefly because war interferes with imports, and we have declared our principal foreign food-growers to be our enemies. The loss of human life to an enormous extent. Many thousands of our own countrymen have already perished of pestilence and in the field; and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of English families will be plunged into sorrow, as a part of the penalty to be paid for the folly of the nation and its rulers.

When the time comes for the 'inquisition for blood,' who shall answer for these things? You have read the tidings from the Crimea; you have, perhaps, shuddered at the slaughter; you remember the terrific picture,— I speak not of the battle, and the charge, and the tumultuous excitement of the conflict, but of the field after the battle—Russians, in their frenzy or their terror, shooting Englishmen who would have offered them water to quench their agony of thirst; Englishmen, in crowds, rifling the pockets of the men they had slain or wounded, taking their few shillings or roubles, and discovering among the plunder of the stiffening corpses images of the 'Virgin and the Child.' You have read this, and your imagination has followed the fearful details. This is war,—every crime which human nature can commit or imagine, every horror it can perpetrate or suffer; and this it is which our Christian Government recklessly plunges into, and which so many of our countrymen at this moment think it patriotic to applaud! You must excuse me if I cannot go with you. I will have no part in this terrible crime. My hands shall be unstained with the blood which is being shed. The necessity of maintaining themselves in office may influence an administration; delusions may mislead a people; Vattel may afford you a law and a defence; but no respect for men who form a Government, no regard I have for 'going with the stream,' and no fear of being deemed wanting in patriotism, shall influence me in favour of a policy which, in my conscience, I believe to be as criminal before God as it is destructive of the true interest of my country.

Als der Krimkrieg mit all seinem Schrecken vorbei ist, veröffentlicht Honoré Daumier diese satirische politische Zeichnung: die Herren Cobden, Bright (in der Mitte) und Sturge langweilen sich, weil sie nicht mehr gegen den Krieg wettern können. Er hat diese drei englischen Politiker noch mehrere Male künstlerisch verunglimpft. Woraus wir lernen können, dass es nichts wert ist, wenn man ein englischer Pazifist ist und vernünftige Meinungen hat, wenn man im falschen Jahrhundert lebt.

Keine Kommentare:

Kommentar veröffentlichen