1920s >> 1921 >> no-198-february-1921

My Lady Tells ‘Em Orf

Ingratitude is a most despairing fault. Whenever or wherever it rears its ugly form combat must inevitably be given by those among us of culture, tone, and gentility. Small wonder then, that my good Lady Bathurst should feel so distressed at the alarming evidences of working-class ingratitude around her. So disturbed is she in her contemplation of the dire effects of their ungrateful attitude that the kindly lady has spared a few of her precious moments to rebuke them, gently but firmly, in a letter to the Press.


Let us hope that their ingratitude is not so hopelessly ingrained that they will not feel at least a tinge of gratefulness for the solicitude so potently portrayed in this generous admonition. Hear her !


  Nowhere in the world was so much done for the working class as in England. Privileges and gifts were showered upon them by the Government, by local authorities, and private individuals. Clubs and halls, hospitals and libraries, were maintained for them, but she had noticed of late years these things were accepted as a matter of course ; they were not in the least grateful.”—(“Daily News,” 15.1.21.)


The charm of this rebuke lies in its restraint. Who could have been surprised if her ladyship had adopted a tone more curt? Even violence of expression the circumstances would warrant. Her ladyship’s late lamented friend Lord Fisher would doubtless have done greater justice to the theme. It is quite possible the time given to penning this kindly warning to the workers might have encroached on a visit to the opera, or perchance have delayed her in allowing her maid to dress her for a ball. Surely the reasonableness and charity of my lady cannot be lost on those workers she has had to chide, and the spirit of her homily will not go unheeded. Let those workers see to it that in future no such cause for complaint is left to agitate this generous lady. Remember, she and her class never show ingratitude toward you, the workers. True, they never show gratitude either, but where’s the need ? You plough their land for them ; you till the soil ; you burrow your way into the bowels of the earth and bring to them minerals for their use and wealth for their aggrandisement. You sweat yourselves and stint yourselves in your mad haste to procure and fashion all that makes their lives an orgy of enjoyment. You starve your minds and bodies and your children’s minds and bodies, so that they and theirs may have pleasure and leisure. You shed your blood, you mangle your limbs, you surrender to the tortures of the factory hell your progeny in their service. And yet they need not show you gratitude ! They need not even show you decency.


On, on, fellow workers, will you go in your hopelessness, and idle parasites will lecture you in their mocking tones until— —. Until you learn the simplicity of your emancipation ; until you see the hope that lies in your dormant mighty strength, and, rousing yourselves, you sweep away for ever the subjection of your class. In the consummation of your mission you will have rid your contemporaries of the pest of indolent ladies and their patronising insolence will have been forgotten.


W. H. S.