Wednesday, February 14, 2024

That day again...


Friday, December 01, 2023

Buckhounds in France...

This post is a dozen years old- somehow I never hit "publish". So here it is!

There are those who say that the Roebuck is the most challenging quarry, and that hunting him is the greatest test of hounds and staff. Agree or disagree, we had a good day with the Chevreuil hounds today.

And yes, it does sound like Chevrolet.

This was a bit of a homecoming for me, the first time I hunted in the north of France it was with this pack. I was there by accident, sent after stopping for hunting directions into the saddlery in Chateau-Thierry. When I hove up in the forest, I was a couple of minutes late. I was taken in by two women in a little car, one of whom spoke much better English than I did French. It was a good day, and the courree in the darkness wasn't the end of it. The night was one of those icy, clear skied, star spangled ones that make the trees crack. After the hounds had their reward, the horn players kept going. People brought out wine, logs were thrown on the bonfire, and it continued into late in the night.

My non-English speaking pilot and her husband took me back to their house to make sure I had good directions out. When we went in, the place was exactly what you would expect- deer horns, hunting prints, typical.

But here's the thing- it was an apartment. And not just any apartment, but one of those soul destroying Le Corbusier "machines for living" tower blocks. Amazing.

Anyway, we drove up to the meet, again in Compiegne. Husband of pilot was the first person we saw, followed shortly by pilot herself. Her English was no better, but my French slightly improved.

And she makes the BEST apple crumble I ever put into my mouth!

Her car was full though, and there were three of us, but she found us someone to follow.

We were made welcome, and we could see at a glance our guide would be excellent. In every hunt Ive seen in France, there's been a Niva.

And that Niva has been there, right far more often than wrong. So, with a cry of Cherchez La Niva, we moved off.

They were slow to find. Lots of busy roads caused the typical problems.Early on, a large stag ran out of the forest right in front of us. Hounds were not hunting him, but he did not want to wait to see if they were. He was alone, which is odd.

I am sure he said, “You women wait here, I am just going out to get bread for breakfast. I will be right back.”

When hounds did find the deer, they stuck.
The chase was in wide loops, covering a large area, but did not go far away from where we found. The hounds’ music was clear in the cold air. I think scent was not good, but the hounds worked hard. People were keen to get to the next viewing spot. Well I remember myself like this, "No, boss, he really needs to go out...

Eventually they ran him down.

Back to the meet. Some of the hounds were patient...

Some more focussed.

After the curee,
the humans had their own

with food and wine by the fire. No one bit anyone, at least not that I could see. I met two people who had hunted coyotes in the U. S., with the same pack but some 15 years apart. Small world!

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

That day again...


Friday, June 17, 2022

Neologism, "global force rejection"-

Global Force Rejection- the military and/or diplomatic ability to prevent or avoid the interference of foreign powers. A successful response to  global force projection.

"The United States has built a military force to engage in global force projection. All Afghanistan or China need is the ability to engage in global force rejection." 

Zero google hits as of June 17 2022.

Monday, January 31, 2022

Back to Work! Here's a guest column from PC Bloggs, now sadly gone away...


Treading Water

At 5 Grove Road is a man with a knife who's about to stab his wife. We know this, because he dialled 999 and told us so. After he stabs her, he's going to stab his son, then his daughter. And then he's going to kill the first cop who comes through the door. At the moment, that's likely to be me. I am therefore waiting at a distance that cannot possibly be misconstrued as coming through anything, waiting for units with taser to arrive and electro-shock the man to his sense.

It's Friday night in Blandmore, and while the man at Grove Road considers his options, a thirteen-year-old robber fresh out of custody climbs the stairs of a multi-storey car park and stands on the edge of the top level waiting to be noticed.

There's disorder brewing in the town centre. The 24hr newsagent has been serving out of hours again and the teenagers are gathering outside it and scuffling with each other. We've had five or six calls, but every time we go down there the kids are "fine". The inspector is deciding whether or not to shut the place down.

Three miles from where I sit drumming my fingers on the dashboard of my panda, a young wife deliberately writes out a final farewell to her husband, leaves it on the doormat and goes out without her coat or inhaler.

Finally the armed unit arrives and 5 Grove Road is surrounded, insofar as one officer can actually "surround" anything. Negotiators are called. Tactical decisions are laid out on the table. Some will result in the deaths of innocent people. Some will bring glory to a brave armed officer. Almost all of them will result in PC Bloggs sitting alone in the dark for a further nine hours.

At the car park, Kyle Rodgers gets bored of waiting to be noticed, and phones his mum to tell her he's about to jump.

In town, the kids start offering cannabis to passers-by.

The negotiators have Mr Kidson on the phone. They establish his basic needs: the deaths of everyone he knows, followed by his own.

Three miles away, a young husband comes home and begins a frantic search. He calls the police, but without knowing whether his wife is "high" or "medium" risk, the police aren't sure how quickly to attend. They set off slowly and are diverted to a report of a teenager standing on the edge of a multi-storey car park.

Mr Kidson decides that if he only had some cigarettes, he might not need to kill anyone.

The newsagent reports that two younger teenagers have just had their mobile phones snatched outside. The inspector gets on the phone to the chief inspector. If they shut down the newsagent, the press won't be good. If more kids get robbed, the press won't be good. It's a toughie. The inspector doesn't feel that there are enough police officers in Blandmore on a Friday night. The chief inspector is adamant that Something Is Being Done About It.

Hours pass. Laws are made and broken.

Mr Kidson stops cooperating with the negotiators. Armed units sneak into the house and taser him where he sits quietly in an armchair. He'd fallen asleep mid-negotiation and his knife-hand dropped to the floor as the armed officers entered, making them think he was about to slash himself.

In town, thirty teenagers slope off home and make plans to meet back there the following night. The inspector gets to the scene with closure order in hand, and wonders what all the fuss was about.

For another eight hours, officers plead with Kyle Rodgers to come down from the multi-storey.

In the meantime, somewhere by a river, a young wife slides off her shoes and slips down the bank into the dark cold depths. She doesn't tread water, and she sinks.

Saturday, October 02, 2021

"Lessons in the Sky: Gratitude at 30,000 Feet"


"My gratitude swelled at 30,000 feet. I counted my blessings, of which there are many.

I marveled at the tenacity of the human spirit. How we can go on loving and living and soaring through the air, despite the scariest turbulence and darkest storms."

Friday, October 30, 2020

No Longer The Gayest Lurchers EVAR !!!!!1! I know why antis get the hump...

All of my loyal reader recalls the famous "Gayest Lurchers EVAR!!!1! day. Here is its sequel.

This week end, out with the New Flat Hunt. A crisp, cool day with a clear sky that so often means a scentless day. Less than a dozen followers and staff. The secretary of my Home Hunt was riding, I think his first day here. I like these intimate little fields!

Among the group were the Gayest Lurchers EVAR!!!1!. They were still in the same little truck/launcher, with their same explosive little owner/crew.

I rode with a local farmer. As we pulled away from the meet I realised that my camera had been left behind, and told my pilot that we'd have a good day because there seems to be a relationship there.

Hounds moved toward the first wood to draw. Before they could be leud in, out of the other end crept a coyote! No need to draw, our Huntsman carried them to the line and they were off, screaming.

The coyote ran across plough and into the next covert, and hounds held on. Along through a big s curve shaped wood, and out the other side. He shed some pursuit in the process, passing two or three couple on to another coyote who smelled better to them and ran a different way out of this covert. He also shed all but two of the mounted field, who followed that smaller group.

On over another field, then into another covert. Rinse, repeat. Typical of this country, he decided to run and did. Not straight though, and not really taking to open country. He seemed to think his salvation was in the twists and turns he could make in the woods, those crack-the-whip turns which slow hounds and stretch out the distance from his pursuers.

It wasn't happening for him today though. Hounds stayed right on through every evasive twist and turn.

We pulled up in a field as we saw him run into a V shaped covert. Here's a diagram:
x < *-

The < symbol represents the covert. We were at the comma, about 60 yards below the covert near the point. Mr. Coyote came in at the asterisk, followed by the hyphen marked hounds. The period? About 60 yards up, that was the location of the GLE!!!!!1!

He was dragging. Hounds had been absolutely on him for twenty minutes or so, and you could see that he was not coping. He came out at the point of the covert, heading across an open field- toward the x on the diagram.

He wasn't going to make it. His distress was plain to see. The field was a big one, rolling uphill. The next covert was three or four furlongs off.

And hounds were screaming maybe 100 yards behind him. That undergrowth was barely slowing them down.

He was going to lose his last race.

A few years ago I was out with a pack of foxhounds in the south of England, riding with the Terrierman. They drew a small patch of rough ground, and from our vantage point we could see a fox in the middle of it.

He waited too long to get a move on, and hounds chopped him. As we checked the ragged remains over for disease, my pilot muttered, "Sometimes I see why the antis get the hump."

Me too.

At this point, my eye was attracted to a flurry of activity at the GLE!!!!1! truck.

Lock on, launch!

Those hairy demons hit that coyote like a Predator strike and rolled him over. Absolutely classic.

And up he jumped, whirling to face them, snapping defiance. As sight hounds will, the GLE!!!!1! stood there staring. "Oh noes! He's not running away! What do we do?"

He snarled again and turned to leave, and the hounds hit him in a body. The end.

This was, I think, only the second time this season these hounds had caught one. The Huntsman and staff were very pleased, as they should have been. On what was actually a poor scenting day, hounds had fairly and honestly run down a fit coyote. The lurchers' owner was ECSTATIC, she was jumping and yipping like a terrier being held back at a rat hole. I was afraid- no hopeful- she would run in to assist in the worry herself.

Alas our Secretary and most of the mounted field missed it.

And then off to find another one. Which they did, but just could not hold. I managed to retrieve the camera for an end of day picture.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Thursday, April 18, 2019


There is no better demonstration that media fame drives  spectacle criminals than the news stories about the trash that tried to burn St. Patrick's cathedral. "That's my picture  on the front page of the Post!" Which of course gives the worthless loser exactly what he wanted, and inspires the next one too. STOP MAKING THEM STARS!!!!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Saturday, August 11, 2018



So the other day, for a reason that will become apparent, I wanted to learn about someone- J. C. Abbott. I was trained to be an historian, but back before the internet when everything was on paper, in books or microfilm, in libraries or institutions. It took me only an hour to find this stuff out. 
     He was born in Winnipeg, Canada in 1896- six years younger than my grandfather. By the time he was 18, he was working as a cabinetmaker in Vancouver, B. C. His home was in Cloverdale with is parents- his mother’s name was Katherine, but she went by Kate. He was 5 feet 8 1/2 inches tall, fair haired with grey eyes and a small scar above his left eye. We know all this because on November 19, 1914, he signed on to the Canadian Expeditionary Force’s 29th Battalion- raised by a Vancouver lawyer, Henry Tobin. 

     James Curtis Abbott, now # 75042, embarked on May 20, 1915 with the rest of “Tobin’s Tigers” aboard the steam ship Missanabie and ultimately on to France. He and his mates were lucky, Missanabie and 45 men were torpedoed and went to the bottom in 1918.
     He would have worn a cap badge like this one. 
     I even found his picture! 

     The 29th were a fighting regiment, staying on the Western Front right through the war. With a full strength of about a thousand soldiers, over 4300 men served in the battalion during the war. About 600 were killed and 1400 more were wounded, not good odds at all for the originals. 

     Their battle honours are a list of awfulnesses- 

    Private Abbott was assigned to “A” company, which must have been a good outfit- as witnessed by this incident after another Battalion was so shot up as to require its dissolution.

     Private Abbott stayed a private soldier- he earned a good conduct badge and the little extra pay that came with it. He stayed lucky with diseases and flying steel, too- went to hospital with the ‘flu a couple of times and caught a bullet in the left arm at Hill 70 in the same action where Sergeant Hanna over in "D" company won the Victoria Cross.

      Maybe Abbott is in one of these pictures of 29th men in and out of action: 

     I did all this research on Wednesday, that’s the 7th of August. Thanks to the Canadian National Archives, the war diaries of the 29th are digitised- no trip to Ottawa required. I wondered what was happening exactly a century ago?

     Hmm. Let’s look at these appendices....

     Well! I can put a face to that spot, having driven through Rosieres many times. The Major is very matter of fact about the “Too late, chum” on those Boche, isn’t he? The 29th’s brigade mates in the 28th originated the term “too dead to be used as prisoners”, perhaps a pattern is emerging. 

     And Lieutenant Burridge  in “D” likes to provide some atmosphere-  I think C. T. C. channels him-

     But we're interested in Abbott-  did “A” company leave a report? Yes it did- 

     Today is August 11, 2018.  11-8-18, as a Canadian would write it-

     So, why did I have this interest? On Wednesday, I bought 

          James Curtis Abbott’s watch. Undoubtedly he was carrying it at Rosieres, and a hundred years ago today it began its journey to me from Rouen hospital. Sometimes an object can take you places all by itself. Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Abbot and James Curtis Abbott.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Thursday, January 11, 2018

"Figuring" is Shell Shock Imitation...

Apparently the New York Times thinks it IS hip 'n' cool to imitate the disabled, as long as the disabled are dead soldiers...

Thursday, January 04, 2018


n French first, because that's whom it's for:

La première fois que je suis allé en France pour chasser, je me suis montré.

Puis, et dans la douzaine de saisons depuis, les chasseurs de Compiègne-Laigue-Retz-Villers-St. Les forêts de Gobain m'ont fait, une personne qui ne parle même pas la langue, bienvenue. Ils sont tissés dans les jours de chasse qui sont les points forts de ma vie.

Maintenant, les Antis ont choisi d'attaquer là-bas. Pas seulement des gens comme moi, mais des gens dont j'ai secoué les mains cinquante fois. Je connais leurs noms et ils connaissent les miens. Je les reconnais dans les images comme je le ferais lors d'une rencontre. C'est exaspérant. Si cela pouvait faire du bien, je me dirigerais vers un travail de contre-insurrection.

Mais ce ne serait pas le cas. J'aimerais que nous puissions faire quelque chose pour aider. Il n'y a pas vraiment de défis à relever. Au moins, nous pouvons dire à nos amis que nous sommes derrière eux, et que nous voyons et comprenons les assauts auxquels ils sont confrontés. Garder une meute de chiens en marche est un véritable exploit, et c'est encore plus difficile avec ce genre de choses.

Alors. Ils ne passentont pas.

Et comme d'habitude, je recommande la chasse en France à tous mes amis américains et britanniques. Et aussi, comme d'habitude, d'inviter tous mes amis français à venir chasser au Tennessee et en Alabama, où il n'y a pas d'écologiste à voir.

The first time I went to France to hunt, I just showed up.

Then, and in the dozen seasons since, hunting people in the Compiegne-Laigue-Retz-Villers-St. Gobain forests have made me, a nobody who doesn't even speak the language, welcome. They are woven into hunting days that are highlights of my life.

Now the Antis have chosen to attack there. Not just people like me, but people whose hands I have shaken fifty times. I know their names and they know mine. I recognise them in the pictures as I would at a meet. It is infuriating. If it would do any good, I'd head over for some counterinsurgency work.

But it wouldn't. I wish there were something we could do to help. There isn't really, the challenges just have to be met. At least we can tell our friends that we are behind them, and that we see and understand the assaults they face. Keeping a pack of hounds running is a real accomplishment, and it's made even harder with this stuff.

So, hang on. Ils ne passeront pas.

And as usual, I recommend hunting in France to all my American and British friends. And also as usual, extend to all my French friends an invitation to come hunt in Tennessee and Alabama, where there is not an ecologiste to be seen.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

That Day...

Saturday, February 04, 2017

is hunting fun?

Another A. P. Herbert Misleading Case...

Mr. Justice Plush gave judgement to-day in the Harkaway Hunt case.

His Lordship: These proceedings have been instituted by the Crown against the Master of the Harkaway Fox­hounds to secure a declaration that he is liable for Entertainments Duty. 

     This tax is a singular product of our own times. Our fathers regarded the entertain­ment of the citizen as a lawful and desirable business, and the Roman emperors went so far as to provide free entertainment for the people, ranking this in importance next to the provision of bread. But the King-Emperor of our realm has in his wisdom seen fit not only to with­hold all assistance from the purveyors of public enter­tainment, but to levy a heavy duty upon them. This tax is so heavy as to partake almost of the nature of a fine, only exceeded in severity by the duties on the sale of spirituous liquors; and there is reason to suppose that in the mind of the Grown the two things are coupled together as harmful practices deserving of discourage­ment.

     The tax is not a tax upon profits but upon gross receipts; and it has been proved in evidence before me that a theatre which is not attracting the public for the reason that it is presenting one of the plays of the national poet, Shakespeare, and is therefore making a weekly loss, will still be required to render a weekly payment to the Exchequer amounting, roughly, to twenty per cent of its takings. It is within the knowledge of the Court that the bookmakers of our land were recently required to pay a duty of only two per cent on their receipts; but so energetic was the objection of these valuable citizens to a tax which had no relation to profits that it was removed. The Entertainment Tax ranges from sixteen to nearly twenty per cent, varying with the prices charged for the entertainment. The impost is a strange one in an age which announces as its chief objective a general increase of leisure and recreation, and in so far as entertainment is founded upon literature and the arts the tax may be said to be a tax upon education and the mind.1

     These considerations have a relevance, which may not immediately appear, to the question which the Court is called upon to answer: Is fox-hunting an enter­tainment?
The defendant, Lord Leather, is Master of the Hark-away Foxhounds, and he has in the box given us a clear and straightforward account of his proceedings, which I am prepared to accept as the truth. As I understand him, the country district in which he resides is subject to the ravages of a cruel and voracious quadruped of the genus Vulpes alopex, commonly known as fox. This creature is of a carnivorous habit and preys upon the poultry of the peasants and farmers, causing much distress of mind and monetary loss; it is cunning, swift, difficult to catch, and a prolific breeder. The defen­dant, therefore, a public-spirited man, has taken cer­tain measures to rid the district of this pest and so to secure the livelihood of the poultry-keeper and the food-supply of the country. He has purchased a number of specially selected dogs and has trained them to pursue the fox across country, guided only by their sense of smell, which is exceptional.   He has also organized a band of ladies and gentlemen who, like himself, have the interests of British agriculture at heart and are willing to assist him at whatever personal risk.   These helpers, loosely called the ‘Hunt’, are mounted on horses, and by their mobility and knowledge of wood­craft render invaluable aid in the intimidation, appre­hension, and destruction of the fox.   Many of them, the defendant has told us, are willing to give up a day’s work in the metropolis and make a special journey to the country in order to play a small part in one of his concerted operations against the common enemy. These operations are conducted three or four times in a week with tireless vigour all through the winter months; but even so it has been found impossible to exterminate the pest.   It was not made quite clear to me why the defendant relaxes his efforts in the summer­time, but I understand that once again he has been guided by his solicitude for the farmer, whose standing crops might suffer damage from the exertions of the defendant’s dogs.   The fact remains that during those months the fox is unmolested, as free to multiply his own species as he is to diminish that of the hen.   Indeed, the witness Turmut, a farmer, some of whose irrelevant and noisy evidence I ought not perhaps to have ad­mitted, maintained with some heat and no little ingrati­tude that the defendant and his helpers would do better to conduct their campaign against the fox with rifles and shot-guns both in winter and in summer.   But I was assured by the defendant that for technical reasons this is wholly impracticable.

     The procedure of a hunt, as I understand it, is as follows: The fox is alarmed and dislodged from its lair by the loud barking of the dogs and the playing of musical instruments. Should the quarry escape into the open country, as, to the chagrin of the hunt, it often does, the dogs at once give chase, and the horsemen fol­low the dogs; other helpers follow in motor-cars along the nearest road, and many of the poor follow on foot. Now, it is the case for the Crown that all these persons, although as practical men and women they genuinely desire to rid the neighbourhood of a destructive animal, find a keen enjoyment in the process of destruction for its own sake. No one has ventured to question the single-minded purpose of the defendant, but it is argued that what for him was a crusade has become for his helpers an enjoyable spectacle, excitement, gratifi­cation—in a word, an entertainment. The witness Turmut strongly supported this view; and he remarked with some force that the number of the defendant’s helpers is in fact far in excess of what is practically necessary or useful, and that it is still increasing. He  went so far as to say that many of the helpers did more *harm than good, but that portion of his evidence did not favourably impress me.
     If the contention of the Crown be correct, there is here a development not without parallel in other depart­ments of the national life. The Englishman never enjoys himself except for a noble purpose.²He does not play cricket because it is a good game, but because it creates good citizens. He does not love motor-races for their own sake, but for the advantages they bring to the engineering firms of his country. And it is common knowledge that the devoted persons who conduct and regularly attend horse-races do not do so because they like it, but for the benefit of the breed of the English horse. But their operations have attracted many thousands of citizens who do not conceal that they visit horse-races for their own selfish pleasure. Accordingly the State imposes an Entertainment Tax upon their tickets of admission; and a member of the Jockey Club would not be  excused on the ground that his purpose at Epsom was to watch and foster the English thorough­bred.

     The relevance of my observations on theatres will now begin to appear. The defendant has admitted in evidence that he collects an annual tribute from his helpers, from farmers, and others, who habitually attend his operations and enjoy the spectacle of his dogs and horses at their pious labours. These contributions are necessary for the maintenance of the dogs and their keepers and for other purposes; and they are willingly given by the ladies and gentlemen of the Hunt in return for the pleasure or entertainment which the defendant has provided. The Crown say therefore that he is liable to pay Entertainment Duty on the sums so re­ceived, at the statutory rates, that is to say, two shillings on the first fifteen shillings and sixpence for every five shillings or part of five shillings over fifteen shillings.

     The defendant’s answer is that the fox may be said to enjoy the hunt for its own sake—and even the dogs and horses—but that his human followers are governed only by philanthropic motives, and that his takings are devoted to a philanthropic purpose, the destruction of vermin and the preservation of poultry, and should therefore be exempt under the Act. Unfortunately for him this plea is disposed of by the precedents of the racecourse and the theatre. There is a school of thought which still holds that the plays of Shakespeare have an educative and uplifting character; but even if that could be established it would not exempt the rash man who presented them from handing over nearly a fifth of his takings to the Exchequer. In my judgment the conten­tion of the Crown has substance.

     I hold that fox-hunt­ing is an entertainment; that the moneys received by the defendant from the hunters and farmers are by way of payment for that entertainment, and that it must, like other entertainments, make its proper contribution to the public revenues according to law. Lord Leather is, as it were, the manager of a theatre: the Hunt are his audience and the dogs his actors. If, after remunerat­ing his actors and paying the duty, he is out of pocket, it cannot be helped. It is a dangerous thing to give pleasure to the people. He has been Master for six­teen years, and he must pay duty not only in respect of the current year but for every preceding year since the institution of the duty by the Act of 1916. It has been urged before me that this will be a hardship; but, as Lord Mildew said in Mope v. The Llandudno Sewage Commissioners, ‘Nullum tempus occunit regi’—or ‘Time is no object to a Government Department.’ Costs to the Crown, paripassu.
1 And sec page 247 for a full examination of the tax, per Wool, J.
² The same thought has been well expressed by the poet Herbert:
‘No Englishman—’tis one of Nature’s laws— Enjoys himself except for some good cause.”

Friday, January 06, 2017

What is Education? Guest Column by Alan Patrick Herbert

I like A.P. Herbert's Misleading Cases, and this is one of my favourites-


The Court of Criminal Appeal gave judgement in this case today, which arose out of the conviction of a canal boatman for failing to send his children to school.

     The Lord Chief Justice: This case is simple but important. The appellant, Samuel Bloggs, is a boatman owning and navigating a pair of monkey-boats (erroneously described by Sir Ethelred Rutt as barges) on the Grand Union Canal. Mr. Bloggs is a married man and has three children, who reside with their father and mother on the two boats, which are loyally entitled George and Mary. Mr. Bloggs was summoned by the Education Authority of the County of Middlesex for failing to send his children to a school for the purpose of receiving elementary education, and he was committed.

     It has to be remembered that, if the prosecution is successful, the defendant’s children will be educated free of charge. The prosecutors, therefore, are wantonly seeking to increase the public expenditure. It is difficult to see why, in the present state of the national finances, the children of a class already too prolific should be educated for nothing. If a man can afford beer, tobacco, and entertainment, and a weekly contribution to a trade union, he can to contribute some small sum weekly towards the education of his children. The State at one time could well afford to educate them without the assistance of the parents, but it can well afford it no longer, and therefore we must look  with particular suspicion on any attempt to increase the burdens of the State in this respect.

     In the course of his trade or occupation as a carrier of goods or raw materials, Mr Bloggs travels continuously up and down the canal between Birmingham and London; and he put forward the reasonable defence that it was difficult for him to send children who were constantly in motion to a. school which remained stationary. He also questioned the right of a Middlesex authority to intervene in the private affairs of a family which spent more than half the week in Warwickshire and other counties. But a defence founded on nothing more than reason and practicability was easily brushed aside by a public authority, and Mr Bloggs was driven to that second line of defence which has perplexed and divided the Courts below.

     ‘What is Education?’ says Mr Bloggs. But it is not necessary for this Court to add one more to the many answers which learned men have made to that question. The question for us is, What is meant by Elementary Education in the Education Acts of this We find, after careful research, that the expression ‘elementary education’ is nowhere defined in that long series of statutes. The omission is wise, for the notion of what constitutes elementary education must obviously vary in every age, county, and class. But, though Parliament has been discreetly vague, the Court in this case is compelled to be definite.
     The respondents ask us to say that by elementary education is meant education in those elementary subjects which are ordinarily taught to our defenceless children, as reading, writing, and arithmetic. But it has been argued for Mr Bloggs that the words mean education in the elements or first parts to be learned of any subject which may be useful or necessary to the good citizen in that state of life for which he is destined by Providence, heredity, or inclination.

     Now, the children of Mr Bloggs, though they have not attended a school, have already acquired the rudiments of their father’s and grandfather’s trade, that is to say, the handling of boats and the navigation of canals; they are able in an emergency to steer a boat into a lock, to open or close a lock-gate, to make bowlines and reef-knots, clove hitches and fisherman’s bends, and to do many other useful and difficult things which the members of this Court, we admit, are unable to do. Further, it is common ground that the children are healthy, sufficiently fed, well-behaved, and attached to the life of the water, as their forebears for three generations have been. Mr and Mrs Bloggs are instructing them slowly in reading and writing, and even, with reluctance, it seems, in arithmetic.

     It is not contended that in these subjects they are so far advanced as children of the same age who attend the public elementary schools; on the other hand, the evidence is that those children are quite unable to make a bowline-on-a-bight, to distinguish between the port and. starboard sides1 of a. vessel, or to steer the smallest boat into the largest lock without disaster, while in health, discipline, manners, and practical intelligence they are inferior to the little Bloggs.

     Standardized themselves according to a single pattern, they conceive it their right and duty to take offensive notice of any person who seems to them to be unusual, a man with long hair or a woman with a short skirt. The Bloggs children do not shout ‘Oy!’ at passing strangers, as do increasingly the ‘educated’ children of the shore; they are more courteous to persons and more respectful of property. They do not commit what are called, it appears, ‘runaway-rings’, steal flowers from window-boxes or apples from trees. They would scorn to spit from bridges or throw stones at the mariner passing below. They exhibit the same good manners and gentle bearing as their parents; and since they are not in constant attendance at the cinema their speech is uncorrupted by the slang or accent of Chicago.

     Now, Mr. Herbert Spencer said that if we give our pupils the knowledge which ‘is of most worth’ – that is, the knowledge which has indispensable practical value in regulating the affairs of life – we shall at the same time give them the best possible mental training. And Mr. Bloggs (who, by the way, can read but not write) is an unconscious follower of Mr. Spencer. It may well be that our education authorities exaggerate the value of reading, writing, and arithmetic as aids to citizenship. In these days a person unable to read would be spared the experience of much that is vulgar, depressing, or injurious; a person unable to write will commit neither forgery nor free verse; and a person not well grounded in arithmetic will not engage in betting, speculation, the defalcation of accounts, or avaricious dreams of material wealth. At any rate it will not be denied that the spread of these three studies has had many evil and dubious consequences.

     But the practice of navigation is at the bottom of our national prosperity and safety, and has played no small part in the formation of the British character. The charge against Mr. Bloggs is that he has given his children an elementary training in the arts of this noble profession to the neglect of certain formal studies which are not essential to a virtuous, God-fearing, and useful life in the calling of their forefathers.

     They are unable, it is true, to read fluently the accounts of murder trials in the Sunday newspapers; they cannot write their names upon the walls of lavatories and public monuments; they do not understand the calculation of odds or the fluctuations of stocks and shares. But these acquirements may come in time.

     Meanwhile, as day by day they travel through the country, the skies and of England are their books, their excellent parents are their newspapers, and the practical problems of navigation are their arithmetic. As for writing, there is too much writing in our country as it is; and it is a satisfaction to contemplate three children who in all probability will never become novelists nor write for the papers.

     It cannot have been the intention of Nature, which fashions the flowers and fishes in such variety, that Men, the noblest works of Nature, should be all exactly alike, shaped in the same mould and fitted to the same ends. But that, it appears, is the principle, which has prompted this prosecution.

     What is in the mind of the Education Authority, however, is no great matter. The short point in this case is that Parliament does not support them. Parliament has nowhere said that the first essentials of an elementary education are reading, writing, and arithmetic. I hold therefore that Mr. Bloggs, who is carefully, lovingly, and without cost to the State equipping his children for a useful career, is providing for them an ‘elementary education’ within the meaning of the Acts. He was wrongfully convicted, and the appeal must be allowed. Costs to Mr. Bloggs, and a lump sum of one hundred pounds by way of compensation for his time and trouble.