Monday 6 August 2018

How to get on in our globalised world and the lion in Sir Edwin Landseer's drawing room

The late Marquis of Bath and friend
I shall be in London shortly, a city I so love, and may have to show some teenagers around, so I read this article in the Daily Telegraph entitled
Six educational London days out, as chosen by a teacher.
It was moderately interesting, though I understood a quite different thing about Landseer's lions at the foot of Nelson's Column, which the writer says were modelled on cats and are anatomically impossible.
In fact, though, like much stuff in the financially ailing quality press these days, it is a cunning advertisement made to look like journalism. An advert, in this case, for an international school. What struck me was part of the advertorial's conclusion.
How can we prepare our children to thrive in our increasingly globalised world? Liberal thinking and a desire to contribute to society will increasingly become the marker of success.
A desire to contribute to society is uncontroversial but liberal is a pesky word.  

If liberal thinking  means thinking worthy of a free person taking part in civic life (which is what the word liberal meant for the ancient Greeks and is how we get the expression "liberal arts") this is very important. 

If liberal means wide-ranging or implies free thinking then I am very strongly for it. I am unusually broad-minded myself, a quality I like in people I meet, but which has advantages and disadvantages. It can be dangerous if whole countries are too open minded. 

But being broad minded and being a social or a political liberal are far from being the same thing, especially now that liberals have taken over the developed world and impose their liberal ideology, most of all through schools.  It is right-wingers who are often more open to new and radical ideas than liberals. Liberals are more often the bigots.

But what is interesting is that being a liberal globalist is advertised as a way of getting on in (international) society and your career. This tells us much about where power lies.

Pace the anonymous teacher who wrote the article I linked to, Trafalgar Square is a depressing, pompous and ugly piece of urban planning that replaced what had been a lively, raffish place. It is not a place to waste too much time in, though it has been much improved by being semi-pedestrianised.

As for Sir Edwin Landseer, who designed the lions at the foot of Nelson's column, I read long ago in someone's memoirs that he bought an old circus lion to model his lions. One day he invited some society ladies to tea forgetting that his lion was in the drawing room. The ladies ran away in horror (it was before feminism) crying out, 'Oh, Mr. Landseer, a lion!'

If you want to know what the lion that terrified them looked like, go to Trafalgar Square.

This was before Landseer killed his wife and was certified insane. After that, when he was invited to spend the Friday to Monday in great houses, he had to be accompanied by his minder, which was regretted by other guests who considered the minder a very vulgar man.


  1. Wonderful stuff about Landseer.

  2. Brutal that "liberal thinking" is being sold as a "mark of success" - what they really mean is "support our form of politics or you will not get a good job", which as modern corporations demand a "commitment to Social Justice and Diversity" is quite true.

    A "liberal gentleman" was someone who treated other people with respect - not because it was of benefit to him in his career, but because he wanted to be decent. Sadly modern schools are not interested in producing such gentlemen.