Blog Project 2

This is Sir Edward Grey a contemporary of Ramsay MacDonald. When MacDonald was elected to the house in 1906 Edward Grey was already Foreign Secretary. He is most famous now for this quote from the outbreak of the First World War: “The lights are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”

MacDonald would also go on to be Foreign Secretary, whilst he was Prime Minister. They belonged to different political parties and had very different backgrounds: Grey was Viscount Grey of Fallodon, MacDonald was the illegitimate son of a farm labourer and a housemaid. It’s interesting to speculate none-the-less that they may have at some time discussed their mutual love of the outdoors.

Grey wrote “The Charm of Birds” a book chiefly about birdsong which he describes disarmingly in his introduction as of “no scientific value”. It is however extremely readable, and his enthusiasm is apparent on every page. I particularly liked this passage form the introduction:

One who reviews pleasant experiences and puts them on record increases the value of them to himself; he gathers up his own feelings and reflections , and is thereby better able to understand and to measure the fullness of what he has enjoyed.

It could be my blogging manifesto. Along with this from Loren of In A Dark Time:

The best reason I’ve found to keep blogging is that it keeps me doing precisely the things that I most enjoy doing, like walking, birding, and reading poetry.

Well…no more posts about early 20th Century politicians for a while at least. I’m off to brew a cup of Earl Grey – named after a relative of Sir Edward, and then I shall write-up today’s brief but enjoyable jaunt.

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Blog Project 2

4 thoughts on “Blog Project 2

  1. I love that “Charm of Birds” book. I have an old second-hand copy (1947, 14th ed, 5th printing – must have been hugely popular in its day!)illustrated with Robert Gibbings woodcuts.

    Re Hillaby who you mentioned earlier, “Walking Through Britain” was the very first book to turn me on to the idea of long trips and wildcamping and the connectedness of Britain. The way he mixes history, natural history, conversations in pubs, his own opinionated thoughts etc was quite irresisitible. My copy has long been lost, though I seem to remember I received it as a school prize in my mid-teens – swot that I was!

  2. beatingthebounds says:

    My copy of “The Charm of Birds” also has the Robert Giddings woodcuts. Its a new (2001) edition, apparently the first in a Charm Of Birds Library – although a quick search on Google hasn’t revealed any further volumes.

    I really enjoyed Journey Through Britain, which I picked up second-hand many years ago. He seems to be so knowledgeable on so many subjects. Hamish Brown in his equally good ‘Groats End Walk’ moans that Hillaby spends most of his book on Devon and Cornwall and finishes of Scotland in relatively few pages, which is actually a fair point, but it’s still a great book.

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