London Walks Pen & Daily Constitutional Special Correspondent David Tucker pauses by a statue hidden in plain view (continued from yesterday)…
Yesterday we signed off looking at the bottom rung of the Edith Cavell statue.
Time now to do a U turn and go right up the monument. Up past Cavell. Past the word Humanity. Past the For King and Country inscription. See what it does there? There’s sort of a cross there. And on the drapery – the drapery that echoes Cavell’s garment – there’s a Geneva cross. A red cross.
And then the woman and the child. Who are they?
They’re also facing that firing squad. Especially the child. See how the child is frightened. Who wouldn’t be?
The woman – shrouded, there’s more than a hint of a mourning veil in that garment – represents Humanity. The child represents small states. The woman is protecting the child. Humanity is protecting small states – like Belgium.
Germany’s invading Belgium was of course the casus belli for the British declaration of war.
But the statue – like all of its patriotic kin – is taking the high ground. There’s so much more to the question. There’s Belgium’s virtually being the creation of the 19th century British Foreign Minister Palmerston and his deep dyed sense of Realpolitik – seeing the Belgian coast as virtually the coast of England and wanting to make sure that it wasn’t the England-facing sword edge of a great continental power like France or Germany. And indeed, in the matter of that “small state’ – poor little Belgium – well, ask the Congolese how they felt about King Leopold and his harmless, innocent little state.
Anything else? Oh, yes. For sure.
There’s this chap.
Notice the direction he’s facing. East. Toward Brussels. Toward the Kaiser’s Germany.
Notice his lashing tail. He’s angry. He’s going to do something about what he doesn’t like the look of.
He pretty well sums up how the British people felt about the outrage that took place at dawn, in Brussels, on October 12, 1915.
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