Saturday, July 08, 2006

Books v sport

The sixth form fights back

William Rees-Mogg

The Times 26 June 2006

As long as ministers prefer Wayne Rooney to Isaac Newton, Britain's literary heritage will never be safe

IN THE SECOND half of the 19th century, English public schools fell under the spell of athletic prestige. Both masters and boys were encouraged to admire the “muddied oafs” of the first XV or the first XI. Correspondingly they tended to look down on the scholars of the sixth form. This anti- intellectualism is well described in the memoirs of those scholars, such as Robert Graves’s brilliant account of pre-1914 Charterhouse, Goodbye To All That.
I feel sure that Graves’s description was accurate; my father was at the school at the same time, and experienced the same exaggerated worship of games players. The effect was to infantilise the school, with senior masters joining in the athletic hero-worship which may be natural for 14-year-olds but is not for grown-ups.
By the time I went to Charterhouse, in the early 1940s, two reforming headmasters, Frank Fletcher and Robert Birley, had counterattacked this cult of games. We enjoyed the successes of our school teams, and Charterhouse had in Peter May one of the greatest batsmen of all time, but there was no tendency to worship even the best players, or to rate success in games above the pursuit of knowledge. The Victorian cult of games was no more than a rather disagreeable memory. That remained the case until the present day.
Modern England seems to have reacquired some of the characteristics of the late Victorian public schools. The Prime Minister, with his breezy manner, has an easy charm when talking to the boys; he is like one of the clerical headmasters of the 1890s. His best speeches resemble little sermons. He exhorts us all to pull up our socks, show house spirit, obey the rules and demonstrate what the Victorians believed to be the Christian virtues of keenness and industry. He admires athletes, but is inclined to think that sixth-form boys should get out of their stuffy libraries and breathe some good fresh air. He encourages his house masters, some of whom are pretty dim, to impose endless petty restrictions.
This has never been a congenial atmosphere for those who do not share late Victorian attitudes. Sooner or later a reaction was bound to follow. Last weekend saw the sixth form answer back. Protest was written by the right person for the right journal.
Nicolas Barker is the hero of bookmen everywhere. He has worked in serious publishing; he has held a senior position at the British Library; he is an expert in the conservation of books; he has written his own excellent books; he has protected and edited The Book Collector for more than a generation; and he is respected as a fine scholar.
His article appeared in Friday’s Times Literary Supplement. The TLS is a radical publication. It has always devoted itself simply to English literature and to maintaining the highest possible standards of literary criticism and scholarship. It is a journal to be wondered at and admired.
Mr Barker was writing about the preservation of the literary heritage. As he observes, “the English language and its literature are all pervasive, and, as our largest and most successful export, might seem to need no defence”. Unfortunately, when it comes to the most important collections which illustrate our literary or scientific heritage, this is far from being the case.
Mr Barker was one of those who approached the complex heritage bureaucracy to help to save two extremely important collections, the Macclesfield Library of Scientific Books, which goes back before Isaac Newton, and the John Murray archive, with its amazing 19th-century collections. Macclesfield is being dispersed; Murray seems almost to have been saved for the National Library of Scotland. In fighting these battles, Mr Barker had to negotiate with the Treasury, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the Heritage Lottery Fund and Resource (or the Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries, now MLA).
Some of the reasons given for the failure to help were bizarre. In the case of the Macclesfield Library, a unique collection that should have been held together, one problem was Lord Macclesfield’s tax position. It was not that Lord Macclesfield owed too much tax, but that he did not owe any at all. The purchase of collections or works of art or scholarship for the nation is based on the remission of tax. Apparently when there is no tax to remit, there are no funds for purchase. Another excuse was given in 2004 by Lord McIntosh of Haringey, the Minister for the Media and Heritage. He wrote a letter which effectively ended the hopes of saving the Macclesfield Library. He wrote that it was not for Resource to approach private owners “as auction houses would take great exception to this”.
It would be hard to think of a less plausible excuse. No auction house is known to have objected to Resource or the department approaching private owners. On the contrary, auction houses often helped to initiate such negotiations. If they did object, their objections would have no standing.
Mr Barker was, however, told a real truth by one civil servant with whom he negotiated. “When it comes to priorities you have to read DCMS backwards: Sport before Media, Media before Culture.” That is proved by the statistics of funding. “Between 2001 and 2006, the DCMS will have increased funding for sport by 91 per cent, the arts by 63 per cent, and museums, libraries and archives by 26 per cent.” A report by the London School of Economics suggests that museums, libraries and archives have nothing less to do but “prepare for an orderly management of decline”.
But the digital age offers infinitely better access to museums, libraries and archives. Far from being a period of decline, it opens up an unprecedented opportunity. This opportunity will not be taken so long as ministers believe that David Beckham and Wayne Rooney matter far more than John Murray and Isaac Newton.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your website has a useful information for beginners like me.

2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really amazing! Useful information. All the best.

8:24 PM  
Blogger Coach Factory said...

kate spade handbags, prada outlet, nike air max, louis vuitton, nike air max, louis vuitton outlet online, burberry outlet online, burberry outlet online, tiffany and co jewelry, michael kors outlet, gucci handbags, tory burch outlet, louis vuitton outlet, chanel handbags, jordan shoes, longchamp outlet online, nike shoes, louboutin shoes, red bottom shoes, coach outlet store online, kate spade outlet online, polo ralph lauren outlet, oakley vault, coach outlet, prada handbags, coach purses, louis vuitton handbags, longchamp handbags, christian louboutin outlet, oakley sunglasses, cheap oakley sunglasses, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet online, louis vuitton outlet, polo ralph lauren, christian louboutin shoes, michael kors outlet online, ray ban outlet, nike free, longchamp outlet, michael kors outlet store, michael kors outlet online, coach outlet, true religion, ray ban sunglasses

2:55 AM  
Blogger Coach Factory said...

abercrombie and fitch, longchamp pas cher, north face, vans pas cher, nike free, nike air max, longchamp, tn pas cher, hollister, air max pas cher, michael kors canada, chaussure louboutin, oakley pas cher, sac vanessa bruno, ray ban uk, louis vuitton uk, hollister, new balance pas cher, lululemon, nike free pas cher, north face pas cher, scarpe hogan, nike trainers, air max, nike roshe, ralph lauren pas cher, barbour, nike huarache, burberry pas cher, guess pas cher, nike air max, true religion outlet, longchamp, lacoste pas cher, sac michael kors, ralph lauren, louis vuitton pas cher, michael kors uk, nike blazer pas cher, mulberry, nike air force, air jordan, hermes pas cher, louis vuitton, nike roshe run, timberland, sac louis vuitton, ray ban pas cher, converse pas cher, true religion outlet

2:57 AM  
Blogger Coach Factory said...

herve leger, soccer jerseys, uggs outlet, jimmy choo shoes, lululemon outlet, nfl jerseys, canada goose pas cher, vans outlet, soccer shoes, roshe run, valentino shoes, moncler, rolex watches, chi flat iron, uggs on sale, canada goose, north face outlet, ghd, new balance outlet, north face jackets, mcm handbags, ugg soldes, moncler, canada goose uk, mont blanc pens, beats headphones, canada goose outlet, celine handbags, instyler ionic styler, ferragamo shoes, ugg boots, bottega veneta, ugg, moncler outlet, abercrombie and fitch, ugg outlet, wedding dresses, mac cosmetics, birkin bag, reebok outlet, canada goose outlet, insanity workout, moncler, giuseppe zanotti, asics shoes, hollister, canada goose outlet, babyliss pro, marc jacobs outlet, p90x workout

2:59 AM  
Blogger Taibai Li said...

huangqihang0602cheap oakleys
michael kors outlet online
soccer jerseys
ray bans
air max 90
hollister clothing store
oakley sunglasses
michael kors outlet
toms shoes
coach outlet
cheap oakley sunglasses
oakley sunglasses
tory burch handbags
tory burch outlet
tory burch outlet online
coach outlet store online
chanel outlet
true religion outlet
kate spade outlet
pandora jewelry
burberry scarf
polo ralph lauren
michael kors bag
mont blanc pens
fitflops outlet
chanel bags
prada outlet
michael kors
michael kors outlet online
michael kors outlet
kate spade uk
kate spade outlet online
coach outlet online
gucci outlet online
pandora outlet
ralph lauren uk
ray ban glasses
kate spade

10:08 AM  
Blogger 林磊 said...

celine bags
canada goose jackets
Coach Outlet Store Online
Canada Gooses Sale,Canada Gooses Jackets,Canada Gooses Coats,Canada Gooses Parka
Toms Outlet Shoes
Louis Vuitton Handbags Outlet Stores
coach outlet
oakley sunglasses cheap
Jordan Retro 13 Hot Sale
ugg boots
Abercrombie Store
Christian Louboutin Sale For Men And Women
Air Jordan 8
coach outlet online
michael kors uk
hollister uk sale
coach outlet online
Mont Blanc Pens
Louis Vuitton Outlet Online Shop
michael kors outlet online
louis vuitton handbags
cheap ugg boots
Coach Factory Outlet
timberland outlet
ralph lauren outlet
Coach Outlet Coach factory
Abercrombie kids - Official Site
michael kors outlet
Louis Vuitton Handbags Official Site
ralph lauren uk
cheap ugg boots
michael kors outlet clearance
true religion outlet
nike trainers
michael kors outlet

3:57 AM  
Blogger princess Totta said...

2:14 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home