The Empire strikes back: This awesome painting of a bloodied British soldier will star in a brave new exhibition of the Empire’s most stirring masterpieces. And it will drive the PC lobby hopping mad! HUZZA!
‘The Remnants of an Army’ 1879 by Elizabeth Butler (Lady Butler) 1846-1933
Nestled in the dusty hills of eastern Afghanistan, the British sentries on the walls of Jalalabad saw a speck in the distance that afternoon of January 13, 1842. As the speck came closer, they realised it was a man, bloodied and weary, astride an exhausted horse. It was Dr William Brydon, assistant surgeon in the British Army that had occupied the Afghan capital, Kabul, just over two years earlier.
Brydon was in a terrible state. Part of his skull had been sheared off by Afghan attackers, and it was a miracle he was still alive. Where, his rescuers asked, was the rest of the British Army? Brydon stared back at them. Then he said hoarsely: ‘I am the Army.’
To the Victorian public, the story of Dr Brydon, the lone survivor, became an irresistible reminder of the dangers of imperial hubris. Years later, his story was immortalised in a stunningly powerful painting by Elizabeth Butler, pointedly titled The Remnants Of An Army — a picture that, in the aftermath of our latest retreat from Afghanistan, is charged with a new poignancy.
‘General Gordon’s Last Stand’ by George William Joy (July 7, 1844 in Dublin, Ireland – October 28, 1925.
It is a relief to see that, on this evidence, the Tate’s exhibition will not present the story of the Empire as a simplistic, hand-wringing tale of wicked British colonialists and virtuous, oppressed natives. For the truth, as the best historians have shown, is that the Empire was always a collaborative enterprise, in which British merchants, administrators and missionaries often worked hand in glove with local people themselves.
During the heyday of the Raj, for example, barely 20,000 British administrators and soldiers ruled an Indian population more than 300 million strong. As any sensible observer would surely conclude, they could only have done so with the close co-operation of the Indians themselves.
This is not, however, what many Left-wing writers like to believe. They prefer an infantile fairy story in which hard-faced British oppressors went out across the world to steal and murder, leaving a trail of devastation in their wake.
And to their undying shame, some of our less principled politicians have endorsed this twisted view of our history. Tony Blair, for example, loved nothing better than going around the world offering unctuous apologies for Britain’s alleged sins, from our role in the slave trade to the mishandling of the Irish potato famine.
The occupation of Afghanistan had been a disaster, and the British retreat from Kabul, in which almost 17,000 were massacred by tribesmen, was one of the greatest military catastrophes in history.
I’ve added the above painting for the sheer hell of it; ‘The Battle of Rorke’s Drift’ which took place in Natal during the Anglo-Zulu War in 1879 – by Alphonse-Marie-Adolphe de Neuville. De Neuville based the painting on eye-witness accounts and it depicts several events of the battle occurring at once. It shows actual defenders depicted in the painting.
As far as I’m concerned – the lily livered politically correct can go sit on a brass gun pintle mount, and swivel! It is history, and forms part of Great Britain’s foundation stones. And if ever I see Tony B’Liar in the street, I’ll spit in his rancid eyes. Begging your pardon from all non-politically correct readers… Yours_Aye.