Sunday, 9 March 2008
There is nothing weighty or authoritative about the gadfly, yet for all that its sting has sometimes so tickled or exasperated the noblest of the brutes that his plunging reactions have changed the very course of history.
The generously endowed English seem to have been given a special immunity against visual beauty that only the most violent attacks can break through, and it is in the hope of piecing the thick and often calloused skins of my countrymen, and injecting a little doubt and discomfort, that I have deliberately envenomed my small dart.
Individuals as well as classes can well defend themselves, and I am less concerned about being wholly just to them than in shocking tem into some realisation of what their defenceless England is becoming through the acts and omissions of its prodigal people as a whole.
The biological use and justification of pain is to give warning of damage or ill-heath, and the following pages are designed to provoke a sensibility that must mean discomfort for the reader rather than pleasure. A state of things that some of us already find intolerable can only be changed by enlisting, through pain, a great body of active sympathisers who have come to see that to go as you please is not always to arrive at what is pleasant.
England and the Octopus
First published 1928 reprint 1975