JOHN RUSKIN – SLADE LECTURES at OXFORD – 1870 John Ruskin was a renowned influencer in Victorian times. (Source: Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism) Whether it was the misidentified mushrooms that Ruskin ate for dinner or his overindulgence on the laudenum pipe, we’ll never know; but here it is anyway: perhaps the world’s first ever expression of psychedelic,Continue reading "THIS WILL BE YOUR “EQUAL” UNION."


JOHN RUSKIN – SLADE LECTURES at OXFORD – 1870 John Ruskin was a renowned influencer in Victorian times.

(Source: Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism)

Whether it was the misidentified mushrooms that Ruskin ate for dinner or his overindulgence on the laudenum pipe, we’ll never know; but here it is anyway: perhaps the world’s first ever expression of psychedelic, imperialist propaganda. 

Note: I think we Scots may be those of the “best northern blood” (line 3, below.). That’s before  being completely erased from the text, despite having been ‘equal partners in union’ for the previous 163 years.

Joking apart: Given the attitudes displayed by Ruskin words, would it ever have been possible to,  form an equal partnership or peacefully prevent our colonisation by an England that saw itself located “at the focal point of a world [    ] presided over by its power, illuminated by it’s ideas and culture [and] kept productive by the attitudes of its moral teachers, artists [and] legislators [?]” Highly unlikely, I’m bound to say, but readers must decide for themselves.    

THERE IS A DESTINY NOW POSSIBLE TO US – the highest ever set before a nation to be accepted or refused. We are still undegenerate in race; a race mingled of the best northern blood. We are not yet dissolute in temper, but still have the firmness to govern, and the grace to obey.

We have taught a religion of pure mercy, which we must now betray, or learn to defend by fulfilling. And we are rich in an inheritance of honour, bequeathed to us through a thousand years of noble history, which it should be our daily thirst to increase with splendid avarice, so that Englishmenif it be a sin to covet honour, should be the most offending souls alive.

Within the last few years we have had the laws of natural science opened up to us with a rapidity which has been blinding by its brightness ; and means of transit and communication  given to us, which have made but one kingdom of the inhabitable globe. One kingdom; – but who is to be its king? Is there to be no king in it, think you, and every man to do that which is right in his own eyes?  Or only kings of terror, and the obscene empires of Mammon and Belial? Or will you, youths of England, make your country again a royal throne of kings; a sceptred isle, for all the world a source of light, a centre of peace; mistress of Learning and the Arts; – faithful guardian of great memories in the midst of irreverent and ephemeral visions; – faithful servant to the time-tried principles, under temptation from fond experiments and licentious desires; and amidst the cruel and clamorous jealousies of the nations, worshipped in her strange valour of goodwill towards men? 29. ‘Vexilla regis prodeunt’ Yes, but of which king? There are the two oriflammes; which shall we plant on the farthest island, – the one that floats on heavenly fire, or that hangs heavy with foul tissue of terrestrial gold? There is indeed a course of beneficent glory open to us, such as never was yet offered to any poor group of mortal souls

. But it must be – it is with us, now, ‘Reign or Die, il gran ’. And it shall be said of this country, ‘Fece per viltate rifiuto’, that refusal of the crown, of all yet recorded in history, the shamefullest and most untimely. And this is what she must either do, or perish: she must found colonies as fast and as far as she is able, formed energetic and worthiest men; – seizing every piece of waste ground she can set her foot on, and there teaching these her colonists that their chief virtue is to be fidelity to their country, and that their first aim is to be to advance the power of England by land and sea: and that, though they live off a distant plot of ground, they are no more to consider themselves therefore disfranchised from their native land, than the sailors of her fleets do, because they float on distant waves.

So that literally, these colonies must be fastened fleets; and every man of them must be under authority of captains and officers, whose better command is to be over fields and streets instead of ships of the line; and England, in these her motionless navies (or, in the true and mightiest sense, motionless, churches, ruled by pilots on the Galilean lake of all the world), is to expect ‘every man to do his duty’; recognizing that duty is indeed possible no less in peace than war; and that if we can get men, for little pay, to cast themselves against cannon mouths for love of England, we may find men also who will plough and sow for her, who will behave kindly and righteously for her, who will bring up their children to love her, and who will gladden themselves in the brightness of her glory, more than in all the light of tropic skies.

But that they may be able to do this, she must make her own majesty stainless; she must give them thoughts of their home of which they can be proud. The England who is to be mistress of half the earth, cannot remain herself a heap of cinders, trampled upon by contending and miserable crowds; she must yet again become the England she once was, and in all beautiful ways – more so happy; so secluded, and so pure, that in her sky – polluted by no unholy clouds – she may be able to spell rightly of every star that heaven doth show; and in her fields, ordered and wide and fair, of every herb that sips the dew; and under the green avenues of her enchanted garden, sacred Circe, true Daughter of the Sun, she must guide the human arts, and gather the divine knowledge, of distant nations, transformed from savageness to manhood, and redeemed from despairing into peace.    


This England is the same England that Scotland was in Union with at the time this was written. Does it sound as if there is any intention this should be an “equal” Union? It is quite astonishing the total arrogance and entitlement present in these writings. Boasting of avarice and their blatant stripping of others lands, affectionally described “as waste ground” then dealing with their colonial subjects subject to being enticed into the army “ for little pay to cast themselves against cannon mouths for love of England”

This is an attitude of mind, of a superiority over others, not laden down with any consideration of right or wrong. Raw power exercised to control other countries, to remove their freedom to live peaceably in their own lands. To convince them spending each waking day enriching Mother England is their only way forward.

Reading this centuries later I can certainly confirm that many of these attitudes still exist in Westminster today with England’s entitlement over Scotland’s assets being right at the top of the list.

I merely ask the question. Knowing this attitude still exists, perhaps a little less blatant but nevertheless operating to the exact same effect, what sort of poor colonial subjects are we to tolerate it?

I am, as always



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