Friday, 31 August 2012

1933 - Letter A

BFTF has been fascinated by the contents of a multi-volume 1933 Odhams Press publication entitled "The British Encyclopedia". The volumes provide a glimpse into the the way the world looked at that time and BFTF thought you, gentle reader, might be interested to read a few extracts from some of the somtimes surprising, sometimes shocking, sometimes sad entries. See here for extracts from other sections of the encyclopaedia

Please note that these are only tiny extracts and are not meant to be a summary of the entire encyclopedia entry.

Aerodrome
…In the London area the chief aerodromes are Croydon, Heston and Hendon..

Afghanistan
…On account of his [Afghan ruler Dost Mohammad’s] dealings with the Russians the British resolved to dethrone him and restore Shah Shuja, a former ruler. In April 1839, a British army under Sir John Heane entered Afghanistan , occupied Kabul, and placed Shah Shuja on the throne, a force of 8000 being left to support the new sovereign…

…The Afghans soon organised a widespread insurrection, which came to a head on 2nd Nov 1841 when Burnes [assistant envoy] and a number of British officers, besides women and children, were murdered… The other British leaders now made a treaty with the Afghans…agreeing to withdraw the forces from the country, while the Afghans were to furnish them with provisions and escort them from the country…

…On 6th Jan 1842 the British began left Kabul and began their most disastrous retreat. The cold was intense, they had almost no food - for the treacherous Afghans did not fulfil their promises - and day after day were assailed by bodies of the enemy. By the 13th, 26,000 persons, including camp-followers, women and children, were destroyed…only one man, Dr Brydon, reached Jalalabad which, along with Kanadahar, was still held by the British…

In a few months Gen Pollock, with a fresh army from India, retook Kabul and soon finished the war…Dost Mohammed again obtained the throne of Kabul and acquired extensive power in Afghanistan. He joined with the Sikhs against the British and afterwards made an offensive and defensive alliance with the latter. He died in 1863, having nominated his son Shere Ali his successor.

Shere Ali entered into friendly relations with the British, but in 1878, having repulsed a British envoy and refused to receive a British mission (a Russian mission being meantime at his court), was was declared against him and the British troops entered Afghanistan.[resulting in a treaty giving the British control of Afghanistan’s foreign policy]

In 1921 Britain recognised the independence of Afghanistan…

Africa
The great races of which the population of Africa mainly consists are the Eastern Hamites, the Semites, the Negroes and the Bantus…

…In religion a great proportion of the inhabitants are heathens of the lowest type; Mohammedanism numbers a large number of adherents in North Africa and is rapidly spreading in the Sudan; Christianity prevails only among the Copts, the Abyssinians and the natives of Madagascar…

…Great areas in Africa have been apportioned among the European Powers as protectorates of spheres of influence…

Aga Khan
...The hereditary chief of the Ismaillite sect of the Mohammedans. His real name was Hassna Ali Shan and he was born in 1800. [He] settled in India and supported the British in their wars against the Sikhs and the Afghans. He died in 1881. His grandson, Aga Khan III rendered great service to Britain during the Great War…

Alexandrian Library

..The largest and most famous of all the ancient collections of books, founded by Ptolemy Sotor (d.283BC), King of Egypt…at its most flourishing period it is said to have numbered 700,000 volumes, accommodated in two different buildings…

[one collection] was burned during Julius Caesar’s siege of the city..

[the other collection existed until the building housing it] was gutted (A.D 391) by a fanatical crowd of Christians and its literary treasures destroyed or scattered.

The library was again accumulated but was burned by the Arabs when they captured the city under Caliph Omar in 641. Amru, the captain of the Caliphs army, would have been willing to spare the library, but Omar is said to have disposed of the matter in the famous words “If these writings of the Greeks agree with the Koran they are useless; if they disagree they are pernicious and ought to be destroyed”. This story, however, which rests solely on the authority of Abulfaragius, a writer who lived six centuries later, is now generally discredited.

Algeria
…The Moors and the Jews, who had been driven out of Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella at the end of the 15th century, settled in large numbers in Algeria and revenged themselves on their persecutors by the practice of piracy…

Alien
[Entry relates solely to people who were newcomers to a country and did not have full citizenship rights - no mention of alien as meaning “from another plantet”]

Alkali
From the Arabic “al-qali”, the ashes of the plant from which soda was first obtained.

…the Alkalis may be regarded as water in which part of the Hydrogen is replaced by a metallic radical [possibly the best explanation of the term BFTF has ever read!]

Almeh
The name given in Egypt to a class of girls whose profession is to sing for the amusement of the upper classes, as distinguished from the “Gawasi” who perform before the lower classes. They perform at feasts and other entertainments…

Alpha particle
…their charge is twice that of an electron and their mass is four times that of a hydrogen atom…

America
…The American Indians [are] now forming a very small portion of the population , especially in N. America, where the white population has almost exterminated them.

These people [American Indians] are divided into branches, some of which have displayed a considerable aptitude for civilisation. When the Europeans became aquainted with the new World [which was] inhabited by populations that had made great advances in many things that pertain to civilised life, dwelling in large and well built cities under a settled form of government.

Anglo-Saxons
…The scir-gerefa (shire-reeve or sheriff) was an important functionary...

Anthropology
…of the existing races the aboriginal Australian is much the most primitive and represents the survival of the earliest type of homo-sapiens…

Anti-Semitism
…The movement assumed vast proportions about 1880 and manifested itself in various countries, especially Russia, Austria-Hungary, Germany , Rumania and France...

…In western Russia there was a great outburst against the Jews in 1881 in which men, women and children were slaughtered The Government of the Tsar , by its anti-Jewish policy, may be said to have sanctioned this murderous outbreak…

…in 1933 an organised anti-semite campaign on a large scale was carried out in Germany under the leadership of Herr Adolf Hitler…

Arabia
…The Wahabis appeared towards the end of the eighteenth century and took an important part in the political affairs of Arabia, but their progress was interrupted by Mohammed Ali Pasha of Egypt and they suffered a complete defeat by Ibrahim Pasha…

[Arabia returned to Turkish control around 1840]

…On 9th June 1916, the Grand Shereef of Mecca declared himself independent of the Turkish government and an Arab revolt spread rapidly. The Grand Shereef Hussein then announced to the Muslim world that the Shereefate of Mecca was henceforth independent and on 4th Nov 1916 he had himself formally proclaimed King, or Sultan, of Arabia…

Arabs
…Their features are well cut, the nose straight, the forehead high. They are naturally active, intelligent and courteous; and their character is marked by temperance, bravery and hospitality…

Arnold
…An urban district and market town of England, Nottinghamshire, 4 miles north east of Nottingham, with lace and hosiery manufactures etc. It has a church built in the twelfth century, and a tower dating from the fifteenth century and restored. Pop (1931) 14,470

Asbestos
…A remarkable and highly useful mineral. . . in modern times it has been manufactured into incombustible cloth, gloves, felt , paper etc. [No mention of danger Asbestos poses to the lungs]

Asthma
…It seldom proves fatal except as inducing dropsy, consumption etc…

Atoms
…The view held at present is that the atom consists of a massive central nucleus of positive electricity, round which minute charges of negative electricity, called electrons, revolve at enormous speeds …

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