Et in Arcadia Ego 8

200 General Strike
a national strike of British trades union members in key industries from 4th to 12th May 1926. The Trades Union Congress, an organisation of all the major trades unions in the country, called it in support of miners who were resisting the imposition of lower pay and longer hours. The government, however, was prepared for it and called out troops and volunteers to distribute food and keep services running. Charles becomes one of those volunteers, some of whom, on doubtful authority, exercised a coercive discipline. The T.U.C. decided to stop the strike after only nine days because its members were horrified at the prospect of violence, and because the miners were unwilling to moderate their demands in any way and so blocked any compromise.

201 Futurist
an adherent of Futurism, an early 20th-century movement in art that rejected all tradition and instead glorified contemporary life, especially machines. Many of its artists (e.g. Giacomo Balla, 1871-1958) tried to capture the effect of motion in their works. Futurism at its peak lasted only a few years and by 1926 had been overtaken by other movements, especially surrealism.
M. la Motte seems also to be influenced by Fascism, which did in fact take over Futurisms love of modern machinery.

201 all parts of Europe
At the end of World War I, the regimes of many countries in central and eastern Europe collapsed. Syndicalist or communist revolutions ensued on a more or less large scale and were opposed by government or counter-revolutionary action. The whole era was characterised by violence and confusion, though by 1926 stability was returning or being imposed in most of Europe.

201 mud of Flanders flies of Mesopotamia
These are two of the war zones of World War I familiar to the British public. Flanders is in northern France and Belgium, where rain could result in vast paddy fields of almost impassable mud. They had a reputation for horror because badly wounded men often drowned in them; the mud was sometimes waist-high. Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) is where British forces fought Turks in desert conditions often of extreme heat.

202 garçonnière Auteuil
an apartment in one of the fashionable suburbs of west Paris near the racecourse. A garçonnière was originally a place, often an attic, where the boys slept, supposedly safely away from the girls. In modern times it is an apartment generally for one person (usually a bachelor). The fact that the girls are living in one can be taken as an assertion of sexual equality.

202 Café Royal
a famous restaurant in Regent Street in London, just by Piccadilly

202 one group, from Cambridge
The Oxford men may seem to be supporting the government and employers, the Cambridge men the strikers. In reality it was not like that - university men flocked to both sides from either place. EW, having been at Oxford himself, likes to have the Oxford men doing what he approves. He himself became a special constable during the General Strike, and was appalled by the poor quality of his fellow-guardians of public order.

202 Transport House
the headquarters of the Transport and General Workers Union, and also of the Labour Party. The strike was co-ordinated from here.

202 Budapest Horthy
Admiral Miklós Horthy (1868-1957) had a distinguished career in World War I and was asked by the anti-Communist parties in 1919 to organise resistance to the Communist coup in Budapest, the capital of Hungary. He won the consequent civil war within a year. He went on to be Regent of Hungary until 1944.

202 Black Birds
A London review by a black American group was named Blackbirds of 1926. Its company was led by Florence Mills, who had already made a great name for herself in London in 1923 in the musical Dover Street to Dixie. The popularity of American jazz bands and singing groups increased enormously in the 1920s, especially with the easy availability of records. Many of these groups crossed the Atlantic.

202 Bricktops Bal Nègre in the Rue Blomet
nightclubs in Paris specialising in cabaret. Bricktop was the nickname of the clubs founder, Ada Smith (1894-1984). Bal Nègre was the name of a 1927 review starring Josephine Baker (1905-1975) which inspired a famous poster; the club became famous for its promotion of the beguine.

203 Belgrave Square
the very centre of high society's residential area in London (Belgravia)

203 Lesley and Roberts
fashionable tailors in Hanover Square. The Oxford aesthetes employed them to make wasp-waisted suits, according to Cyril Connolly.

203 Nada Alopov ... Jean Luxmore
I have not identified these characters. I imagine they are fictional though EW may have based them on real people whom some of his readers might have been able to identify.
There has been some interest aroused by Blanches mentioning that Nada Alopov was quite the best man. Best man for what? Judging from the context it seems to mean, the best man for intoxicating Sebastian. Some commentators therefore think that Alopov was an experienced male prostitute. He might equally easily be a drug-dealer - his having thug friends might suggest drugs more readily.

203 Regina Bar
a popular spot to meet at in Marseilles, though I have not identified where it was

204 s-s-stumer
a worthless check

204 Tangier
a city on the Moroccan coast, since 1923 an international city with its permanent security provided for by Great Britain, France, and Spain

204 footman in Warning Shadows
a character in a German silent movie (German title Schatten, 1923), directed by Arthur Robison, which was both popular and very influential (on Alfred Hitchcock, for one). It starred Fritz Kortner and Ruth Weyher. EW saw it in November 1924 and thought it quite superb.

204 Foreign Legion
a unit of the French army consisting of volunteers of other nationalities, in 1926 based in Algeria. It could be sent anywhere in the world to protect French interests. Its regimen is famously tough.

204 Kasbah
the older part of a north African city where the markets are found

204 Florence Mills
(1896-1927), African-American singer and dancer, one of the most famous black entertainers of the Jazz Age. There appear to be extant no film of her dancing (which was admired in all circles, including ballet) and no recording of her singing, with the result that her status as the first great black female entertainer is unappreciated today. She was nicknamed Blackbird from her signature song Im a Little Blackbird Looking for a Bluebird. During her stay in Europe she became seriously ill, returned to New York and died following an operation for appendicitis. 150,000 people reputedly attended her funeral.

205 Like Australians.
Charles and Mulcaster are undoubtedly thinking of the large number of Australian soldiers who died in the unsuccessful Gallipoli campaign (1915) in World War I.

206 Commercial Road
a main road into London from the east. It is therefore in the East End, a working-class area where sympathy for the strike was strong.

207 Camden Town
a district in London, then a working-class area but now gentrified

207 bandanna
a large square of brightly coloured cotton or silk cloth which can be worn over the hair or around the neck. Sir Adrian uses his for a handkerchief.

207 Hansard
the official (and supposedly) verbatim account of the debates in the Houses of Parliament. The clerks are usually gracious enough to tidy up the realities of the speeches.

208 kudos
a word from Greek meaning credit or glory.

209 Casablanca Fez
towns in Morocco, then ruled by France as a protectorate except for a part of northern Morocco that was Spanish

209 remittance man
a man living abroad who depends on a regular allowance from home. There is a hint of scandal about the term, since it was applied generally to men who were paid by their families to stay away. The point of the consuls remark is that, though things will generally be all right in peaceful times, there are no certainties about Sebastian being able to sustain himself in times of disturbance and war. Actually, the consul has misunderstood Sebastians finances. We learn later, on page 207, that Sebastian did not have a regular allowance at all but cabled home for money when he thought he needed it. Charles is able to regularise the situation and make Sebastian a true remittance man.

209 milord
a French term for the stereotype French people entertain of a British aristocrat

209 Abdul Krim's army
Abd al-Karim (1882-1963) (full name Muhammed ben Abd al-Karim Khattabi), leader of the Rifs and only President of the Republic of the Rif (1921-1926), organized a revolt in Spanish Morocco in 1920. After driving the Spanish forces out, he turned upon the French in their part of Morocco. France and Spain then agreed to work together against him and appointed Marshal Pétain as commander-in-chief. Pétain had won the campaign by 1926, though sporadic outbreaks continued for another decade. Krim (as he was known in the West) was exiled to Réunion Island for over twenty years but then escaped and went to Cairo to take part again in North African nationalist politics. He died just as he was about to return home after more than 35 years absence.

209 the Moors
Moors are nomadic people of Arab and Berber descent who originally occupied lands in various parts of North Africa.

209 Rabat
the capital city of Morocco, on the Atlantic coast

210 Dubonnet, Michelin, Magasin du Louvre
Dubonnet, the tonic wine, aperitif or vermouth according to taste, and Michelin the tyre company both thrive today. Les Grands Magasins du Louvre, founded by Alfred Chauchard in 1855, disappeared in 1974. It was a fashionable store in Paris; as Somerset Maugham wrote of his character Mildred in Of Human Bondage, she had heard of the Magasin du Louvre, where you could get the very latest thing for about half the price you had to pay in London.

210 Sudan police
Technically Sudan was ruled at this time by a joint British and Egyptian condominium. In practice Britain ruled the country and organised the police force.

211 a French record of a jazz band
The French adopted jazz in the 20s with even more enthusiasm than did the British.

212 the Atlas
mountains of North Africa where some of the heaviest fighting in the war against Krim took place

213 Franciscans
order of friars founded in 1208 by Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), devoted to missionary and charitable work. They are frequently found working in the impoverished parts of the world.

213 grippe
the flu (French). Possibly in Sebastians case it is a euphemism for pneumonia.

213 secondary syphilis
Syphilis is a disease contracted by sexual intercourse. The secondary stage is a latent period of the infection in which no outward signs or symptoms occur, but inflammatory changes may take place in the internal organs. The secondary stage can last 20 or even 30 years. The tertiary stage that often follows is invariably fatal.

214 A real Samaritan.
a reference to Christs parable of the Good Samaritan (Gospel of St Luke 10, 30-37). A foreigner helps a Jew who has been attacked and beaten by robbers. His own people had not given him aid and out of fear hurried on past him as he lay on the ground unable to help himself.

214 poor booby
Booby means simpleton, a foolishly simple person. At this point Charles appears to believe that Sebastian has not taken Kurt in for purely charitable reasons, and consequently judges the friar to be a booby for thinking so. The only other reason, surely, is sexual interest. Later, however, Charles tells Bridey that he is sure there is no vice in the relationship (pages 216-217). Either he has changed his mind (which is possible after Sebastian tells him that Kurt is the only kind of man whom he is fit to look after) or he is dissembling.

214 Seven Dolours
the Seven Sorrows of Mary (see note for page 189)

214 femme fatale
an attractive but dangerous and destructive woman (French)

216 P. & O.
a ship belonging to a prominent British shipping line

217 D.T.s
delirium tremens - tremors and hallucinations which occur when one is attempting to recover from alcoholism

217 You know it's being pulled down?
The destruction of Marchmain House, besides acting as a staging post in the decline of civilised values, echoes a real process which accelerated in the early years of the twentieth century. Many large town houses belonging to the aristocracy were pulled down in that period so that today there are very few left in London. They were expensive to maintain, and the money gained from developers was welcome.

218 Adam room
a room designed by Robert Adam (1728-1792), Scottish architect of immense talent whose designs were popular all over Britain. They are always impressive in their cool, classical elegance. A number of Adam designs were destroyed in the inter-war years with the result that the growth of conservation societies was encouraged.

218 Green Park
one of central London's major parks. Iain Gale (in his book Waugh's World) places Marchmain House in Arlington Street next to Green Park. It certainly is in Saint James', and so close to Buckingham Palace.

219 penthouse
a top-floor apartment; clearly an unfamiliar term to Cordelia though already well established in London society in the 1920s

220 Requiem
the mass for the dead which may, as here, accompany the funeral and burial services

220 altar stone
a consecrated stone container containing two relics of canonized saints in a concealed cavity. It is what converts an otherwise unconsecrated structure into an altar. During Holy Mass the priest places the chalice and the Sacred Host (the body of Christ under the appearance of bread) on this stone. As Cordelia implies, it is removable and easily transportable for use elsewhere, though naturally in acknowledged churches it is usually considered a permanent fixture.

220 wads of wool with holy oil on them
There are three oils commonly used in rituals in churches : the oil of catechumens which is to serve at the anointing of candidates previous to baptism with the intention of giving them the strength to combat evil; the oil with which the sick are anointed in the Sacrament of the Sick; and the chrism which is used in the administration of the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Ordination and for the consecration of altars. They are usually made of olive oil though chrism also has a pleasant perfume, invariably balsam.
It is not entirely clear why there are wads, as oil is usually stored in bottles or vials. Perhaps the priest has just mopped some of it up.

220 as if it was always to be Good Friday
The tabernacle is left open and empty at the end of the Maundy Thursday service and remains so until just before the Easter Vigil service on Holy Saturday. No mass is said during this period though there is a Good Friday service.

220 Tenebrae
a service for the last three days of Holy Week, actually the combined offices of Matins and Lauds brought forward to the previous evening. The name means darkness or shadows and refers to the fact that the services end in darkness. There were many variations to the service, but essentially, during the service fifteen candles were extinguished one by one after each psalm until only one was left, perhaps to represent Christ, the light in a world of darkness. Then that candle was hidden or extinguished and the service was concluded in tenebris (in darkness); having been begun in daylight it ended with dusk. The effect was inexpressibly beautiful, though that beauty was shattered by a loud noise at the end to represent the earths shaking upon Christs death. Sometimes the single candle was returned to its place as a symbol of Christs coming resurrection.
Perhaps unfortunately, the Church reformed the Holy Week services in the mid-1950s and Tenebrae in the form described here scarcely exists, though many variants of it survive or have been revived in other denominations and in recent years the Vatican itself has encouraged bishops to reinstate the service.

220 Quomodo sedet sola civitas
the first words of the Lamentations of Jeremiah in the Latin translation (the Vulgate Bible). They are a lament for the desolation of Jerusalem. This first verse provides the opening of the first lesson of Tenebrae of Maundy Thursday. You can read and hear it if you click here.

220 Father Brown
Cordelia's quotation comes from a story entitled The Queer Feet, in the opinion of many people (including mine) the best of the Father Brown stories of G.K. Chesterton.

221 Adrian Porson's poem in The Times
It was quite customary then for newspapers to commemorate occasions of solemnity or rejoicing by commissioning, or at least printing, a poem.

221 I heard almost the same thing once before - from someone very different.
Charles is remembering his conversation with Cara towards the end of his holiday in Venice with Sebastian. Cara said, When people hate with all that energy, it is something in themselves they are hating (page 103). She was talking about Lord Marchmain's hatred for his wife, which arose out of his immature love for her as a youth.

222 Browning's Renaissance
As the following sentence makes clear, Charles identifies at this point in his life with a Renaissance devoid of religious significance, something which Browning also did in his many poems with Renaissance settings. His religious figures are a weird set of maladjusted ne'er-do-wells. Of course, EW's point is that the art and achievement of the Renaissance cannot be separated from religion.

222 Genoa velvet
a very lush form of velvet on a satin ground and heavily plushed, with patterns (usually multi-coloured) created during the weaving process. It was very expensive to manufacture and to buy.

222 Galileos tube
i.e. a telescope. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) used one of the early telescopes to look at the planets and in 1610 discovered four of the moons which circle Jupiter. The discovery dismayed the Church because it showed that not all bodies circled the earth, as had been commonly thought.

222 spurned the friars 
In his imagination Charles is fancying himself as a great creator. He feels superior to merely ordinary men as in his day Galileo had been to the narrow scholars around him.


  1. wads of cotton: I think they were used as a holy "envelope" to protect the altar stone containing the relics

  2. The Church wasn't dismayed by Galileo's scientific hypothesis of heliocentrism, which it had already approved in Copernicus. It had a methodology beef, and for the Pope, personal political gripes.


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