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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

“I do not really think the House of Commons is ‘My Cup of Tea’, I am too much of an individualist, and also, too self-centred and set in my ways. Enough if I remain a mute, just adequate back-bencher, but frankly most of the problems that so excite ‘the Hon. Members’ leave me quite cold and indifferent.”

– Sir Henry “Chips” Channon in his diary entry for December 5th 1935.

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8 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Paul

    I just thought I’d take this opportunity to wish Chris Tame (certainly a major leading light in the fight against oppressive authority) the very best in his personal fight against his oppressive illness.

  • Julian Taylor

    This being the same Henry Channon who was one was one of the principle appeasers under Chamberlain’s government, once describing Halifax and Neville Chamberlain as, “.. doubtless very great men, who dwarf their colleagues; they are the greatest Englishmen alive ..”? Apropos Adriana’s earlier post about attitudes to Americans (‘Mrs Miniver is Dead’), one of Channon’s other more unpleasant quotes is,

    “The more I know of American civilization, the more I despise it. It is a menace to the peace and future of the world. If it triumphs, the old civilizations, which love beauty and peace and the arts and rank and privilege will pass from the picture.”

    Channon was a born in Chicago and became a naturalised Briton in the 1920’s when he married Honor Guinness, the eldest daughter of the second Earl of Iveagh. He was regarded very much as a highly conceited dilettante but I’ve always found that one particularly hilarious diary entry, for 11th March 1938 stands out from the others – it reads, “An unbelievable day, in which two things occurred. Hitler took Vienna and I fell in love with the Prime Minister.”

    When you consider that this Prime Minister was Neville Chamberlain you might get the picture.

  • Verity

    Julian – what a totally fascinating post!

  • Findlay Dunachie

    A good corrective to Chips Channon’s Diaries are Harold Nicolson’s. True, HN was rather a snob – but there was a lot of that about those days. He was a strong anti-appeaser and, after he lost his seat in the the Commons, would have been an ornament in the House of Lords, where he very much would have liked to have been. Unfortunately he seems to have alienated both the Tories and Labour.

    Harold Nicolson wrote several excellent books. The Congress of Vienna is a classic. The biography of his father, Lord Carnock, is actually a study of pre-war I diplomacy, just as his Curzon the Last Phase is a study of the chaos in the Levant after the same war.

    His life demonstrated that it was possible for a gay man to have a happy marriage with a lesbian – and have two sons. They wept every time HN left for his diplomatic post in Iran (she couldn’t stand the life). They wrote to each other every day when they were apart, even on the weekdays when he was in London and she in Kent. He probably never recovered from the shock of her death: his diary ceases on the day she died

    Chips Channon come across as a truly dreadful man: I found it difficult to read his Diaries; indeed, I never finished them.

    Please don’t encourage people to read them. Try the good guy, Harold Nicolson. I had to write this.

  • George Harris

    The diaries of Chips Channon are the best read that I have had in years.

  • (Link)The diaries of Chips Channon are the best read that I have had in years.

  • Andrew Daley

    I am currently reading Chips’ diaries.
    What is most refreshing about the is that he is so devastatingly honest about himself. He is weak, sentimental (especially regarding “Old Brolly”) and shallow. He is also charming, witty and observant, able to conjure up a portrait in a few well-chosen adjectives.
    I especially liked the way in which he portrays his relationship with Churchill; he does his best to please, but is painfully aware that “Winston” sees right through him.
    It is also interesting to see the detailed explanation of a viewpoint that has often been ignoredor dismissed- that Chamberlain’s procrastination bought valuable time for Britain to re-arm and prepare for war.

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