Friday, 31 August 2012

The World in 1933

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.

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

…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…

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.

…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…

[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”]

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!]

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…

…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.

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

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

…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…

…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…

…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…

…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

…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]

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

…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 …

… The doctrines of a Mohammedan sect whose headquarters are in Persia, founded by Seyd Ali Mohammed in 1844...

...the morality of the sect is pure and cheerful, and it shows great advancement in the treatmetn of women...

...A schism divided the followers of Babism inot tow sects, Bahais and Ezelis. The former have carried on an active propaganda in America.

Baghdad Railway
A railway starting at Konia in Asia Minor...and intended to run to Baghdad and Koweit on the Persian Gulf... German capital was used throughout, and the line was part of the Berlin-Balkan-Baghdad scheme which was to provide Germany with a safe means of transport to India.

A Russian port on the western shore of the Caspian...the naptha of petroleum springs of Baku have long been known; and the field of fire, so called from emitting inflammable gases, has long been a place of pilgrimage with the Guebres or Fire-Worshippers.

Balkan War
The First Balkan War (Oct.1912 - May 1913) was the effort of thge Balkan League to dismember Turkey in Europe. Each member of the League [Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro and Greece[ was alloted a definite strategic objective, and each gained a considerable measure of success.

...Its prosperity is due to the mines of red hematite iron-ore which abound in the district...It has numerous blast-furnesses and one of the largest Bessemer steel works in the world.

A Mohammedan people of Arab race inhabiting chiefly the deserts of Arabia, Syrai, Egypt and North Africa...

...They lead a nomadic existence...varying the monotomy of pastoral life by rading each other and plundering unprotected travellers...

...they are lax in morals and unreliable even in respect of the code of honour attributed to them...

A light woollen fabric made of wool of the natural colour.

A town...with large cotton mills, foundries etc, and in the neighbourhood numerous collieries.

The birthplace of Christ; a small place in Palestine, 5 miles south from Jerusalem..

A great manufacturing city of England, situated on the small river Rhea…It is the principal seat of the hardware manufacture of Britain, producing metal articles of all kinds from pins to steam engines. It manufactures fire-arms in great quantites, swords, jewellery, buttons, tools ,stee-pens, locks, lamps, bedsteads, gas-fittings, sewing-machines, articles of papier-mache, railway carriages etc. The quantity of solid gold and silver plate manufactured is large and the consumption of these metals in electro-plating is very great. Japanning, glass manufacturing and glass-staining or painting form important branches of industry as also does the manufacture of chemicals. At Soho and Smethwick in the vicinity of the town were the famous works founded by Boulton and Watt, who there manufactured the very first steam-engines, where gas was first used, plating perfected and numerous novel applications tried and experiments made…

A town of the United States, near the centre of Alabama, a great seat of the iron trade, having iron-ore, coal and limestone in abundance at hand, so that its blast furnaces, foundries and other works are readily supplied. It has grown up since 1880. Pop. 259,678

Birth Control
…In recent years, the ideal of quality of population rather than quantity has become general; and birth control has been a keenly discussed subject…Dr Marie Stopes is its chief exponent. A medical committee has recommended that no married person should be hindered from obtaining knowledge of contraceptive methods ; while, on the other hand, the Roman Catholic Church denounced all such practices as definitely sinful.

…although the English Law still embodies the tradition which treats blasphemy as a sin, in practice it treats it as an offence against the peace and good order of society. ..

Blast Furnace
[mentions the following improvements : use of hot gas (James B Nielson, 1828, Glasgow); drying of the air (Gayley, 1905, Pittsburg, output inc by 25%, fuel consumption reduced by 20%)

An attack on a locality by explosive missiles from land sea or air. A bombardment is one of the recognised and legitimate methods of making war but, by the Laws and Customs of War as laid down by the Hauge Convention of 1907, its use is confined to the case of defended localities. Fortifications are not necessary to constitute a defended locality, the mere presence of troops is sufficient . A bombardment of an undefended town or locality by any means whatsoever is forbidden. The only apparent exception to this is the case of a naval bombardment, which may be resorted to to coerce an undefended town if such town refuses to comply with requisitions for supplies legitimately made under the Laws and Customs of War...

[Manufactures section] …Takin these in order of importance, we begin with cotton. In this branch of industry Great Britain still remains a long way ahead of other countries… The total value of the cotton goods (including yarn) exported in 1932 was £62, 845,000.

[Wool] is next in importance to that of cotton and draws large for its supplies on other countries, particularly the Australian colonies. The total value of the woollen goods (including yarn) exported in 1932 was £24.004,000.

[Linen and artificial silk also mentioned as being important] …Amongst the most important [of other industries] are the trades connected with iron and steel and other metals, and the manufacture of all kinds of machinery (giving in 1934 a total export of £33,636,000)

[Paper manufacturer and Ship-building also mentioned as being important]

[Commerce section]..It has been generally recognised that the Empire can be self-supporting and for this reason such organisations as the Empire Marketing Board have spared no efforts to foster Imperial trade.

…In his mildness, his readiness to overlook insults, his zeal, chastity and simplicity of life, he was not unlike St Francis of Assisi…

…Although now long banished from Hindustan by the persecutions of the Brahmin, Budddhism prevails in Ceylon, Burmah, Siam, Annam, Tibet, Mongolia, China, Java and Japan…

A fatty substance produced from milk, especially cow’s milk. When the milk is first drawn, this fatty matter is disseminated through it in minute clear globules enclosed in membranous sacs or bags which in a short time rise to the surface and form cream. The cream is then skimmed off to undergo the operation of churning, which by rupturing the sacs effects a separation of the cream into a solid called butter and a liquid called butter-milk, the latter consisting of whey and other caseous matter…the butter, being formed into lumps, is washed till all the butter-milk has been expelled.

…One of the finest churches is St Pierre [built in 1308]… there is a public library with over 100,000volumes.

In Mohemmedan mythology, a mountain, which surrounds the whole earth as a hedge encloses a field. Its foundation is the stone Sakharal, which is an emerald, whose reflection gives the sky its tints.

…The most celebrated of the Abbaside caliphs of Baghdad was Haroun al Rashid (Aaron the Just), 786-808, under whom learning, science and art were in a flourishing state. Subsequently the Muslim kingdom lost province after province and the temporal authority of Baghdad was destroyed.

… the most brilliant period of the Western Caliphate was in the ninth and tenth centuries, when literature, science and art were in more flourishing condition than anywhere else in Europe…

[this entry deals only with camouflage against observation from the air, no mention of camouflage clothing etc]

Capital Punishment
Formerly in Great Britain, as in many other countries, it was the ordinary form of punishment for felonies of all kinds, but a more accurate knowledge of the nature and remedies of crime; a more discriminating sense of degrees in criminality, and an increased regard for human life have all combined to restrict, if not to abolish, the employment of the penalty of death.

…The work of practical reform initiated in 1770 by Sir William Meredith…but the modifications secured [by proposed bills] were few, owing to the opposition of the House of Lords, which continued down to 1832 to oppose all attempts at criminal law reform…

[Reports an authoritative statement given to the House of Commons in May 1921 regarding WW1 casualties : Great Britain(743,702 dead, 1,693,262 wounded); India(61,398 dead, 70,859 wounded); Australia(59,330 dead, 152,171 wounded); Canada(56,625 dead, 149,732 wounded)]

Catholic Emancipation
…[ In 18th century Ireland, Roman Catholics] were deprived of the guardianship of their children…

Cetacea [Whales and dolphins]
…The blood vessels in these animals break up into extensive plexuses or networks, in which a large amount of oxygenated blood is delayed, and they are thus enabled to remain a considerable time under water. Injury to these dilated vessels leads to profuse hemorrhage, and hence the whale is killed by the comparatively trifling wound of the harpoon…

…these substances, by union of which all the different sorts of known matter are built up, are about 80 in number and are called chemical elements.

…the recent work of J.J. Thompson and others indicates [that] these atoms are themselves complex and are built up of positive and negative electrons. According to this conception the atoms of all elements are formed of the same material - these electrons - but in different quantities and it is thus not inconceivable that one element should be transformed into another…

…An electrical theory of the nature of atoms, based on the properties of electrons, has made great progress in recent years. According to the theory, the mass of an atom is derived from a nucleus which is made up of some whole number of elementary nuclei, all perfectly alike.

In 1880 its population was 503,185; in 1930 it had increased to 3,376,438.

Child Labour Regulation
…It has been increasingly realised how bad are the after effects of employing young children in factories and workshops…

…The international protection of children in industry formed an important subject of consideration at the Conference held at Washington in Oct 1919 under the League of Nations, when recommendations were made to the several nations of the League for levelling up the legislation of the more backward nations to a common minimum standard…

…In 1920, in Great Britain, the Women, Young Persons and Children (Employment) Act was passed. It made it illegal to any child under the age of 14 to be employed in any industrial undertaking other than an undertaking in which only members of the same family are employed…The Act does not apply to domestic service, agriculture of transport by hand…

Children’s Games
The study of children’s games is an important branch of folk-lore. These games are historically valuable on account of their derivation from the ancient ceremonies and religious rites inseparable from every great occasion in the lives of our ancestors.

…[Line Singing Games] are contestant in character and consist of two lines of players, representing rival tribes or villages which alternately advance and retreat before each other. “Nuts in May” is a popular example of the line game and preserves the ancient custom of marriage by capture, the boy, or prospective husband, advancing to carry off the girl for his wife.

…[Circle Singing Games] are the survivals of those occasions when the people of one community met to celebrate some special local event, such as a marriage, seed-time or harvest. “Oats and Beans and Barley” belong to this time and depicts the ceremonies of seed-time combined with marriage customs. “Kiss in the Ring” is also a circle game representing an early form of marriage by choice.

In bodily strength they [Chinese] are far inferior to Europeans, but superior to most Asiatics, and their great assuidity and patient endurance of fatigue make them valuable as labourers. They are considered to be deficient in courage. In their moral qualities there is much that is amiable. They are strongly attached to their homes, hold age in respect, toil hard for the support of their families…In the great mass these qualities are counterbalanced, or rather supplanted,, by numerous vices - treachery, lying and various others.

In the western parts Mohammedanism has many followers, estimated at 20,000,000.

[on trade:]…a second embassy in 1816, by Lord Amherst, was treated with insolence ; and subsequently the treatment of British merchants became such that a collision was inevitable. In 1840 the British, on being refused redress for injuries, proceeded to hostilities, and a treaty was concluded (1842) , by which the five ports…were opened to British merchants”

[after a definition of Christianity:] This comprehensive statement defines…its universalism, which differentiates it from Judaism and Islam, both of which remain national forms of theism.

The average length of the common cod is about 2.5 or 3 feet and the weight between 30 and 50lb, though sometimes cod are caught weighing three times this.

A town in south-west France…pop 6640.

…Reduced by a long course of oppression and misrule to a state of degradation, the number and national character of the Copts have greatly declined. At present they number about 700,000.

… the women go out with veiled faces, like the Moslem women…

The Copts are quiet and industrious, have a good capacity for business, but are servile and crafty.

National Dept
...The Bank of England was, indeed, founded upon a perpetual loan of £1,200,000 to the State [in. This loan was the first national dept...

National Debt
1694 : £1.2 million (initial national dept on formation of Bank of England)
1697 : £21.5 million
1713 : £52.0 million
1748 : £79.3 million
1763 : £138.3 million
1783 : £250.0 million
1814 : £742.5 million
1914 : £711 million
1919 : £8079 million

National Health and Unemployment Insurance
...The idea of State responsibility fo rrthe distress arising to the individual out of illness...grew very gradually in the British public mind...

In 1911, however, was passed an Act of Parliament which imposed...a State system of insurance...[This entry covered a rather impressive 4 pages]

...Another innnovation of this period [~1880] was a structural alteration whereby a ram took the place of the old-fashioned bow...and proved a frightful source of danger to consorts by aggravating the effects of accidental collision...

12 pages [regarding the invention of the underwater mine and torpedo] the great wars which followed vastly more loss was occasioned by underwater weapons than by the gun...

[worth noting that this entry was a very impressive 12 pages long!]

...Some astronomers think that the spiral nebulae may be external galsaxies of stars, or island universes comparable with our own, and at enormous distances from it, but others consider that they are subordinate parts of our universe, being star clusters too closely packed for telescopic resolution.

...A race of mankind probably indigenous to equatorial Africa. ..

...The typical negro is described as having a black skin, wooly or crisp hair...calves poorly developed and feet comparatively long...

...A sultanate of Central Arabia, inhabited by Wahabis. . . Ibn Saud, Sultan of Nejd, annexed Jebel Shammar and made captive the representative of the Ibn Rashid dynasty in 1921; andin 1924 he made war on the Hejaz and captured Mecca, the Sherifian capital. In Dec 1925 he entered Jidda and, on the abdication of ing Ali in the same month, became King of the Hejaz. A treaty embodying Britain's recognition of his complete independance was signed at Jidda in 1927...

[No entry, this particle was only discovered in 1932]...

...During the seventeenth century...the main barrier [to the printing of newspapers] was provided by the Licensing Laws, which forbade the setting up of manuscript in type without a license from the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Bishop of London, and not until 1695 was the Licensing Act finally abolished... the middle of the [18th] century the Stamp Act [a tax on newspapers] was made even more exacting... "taxes on knowledge" continued to be multiplied and by 1804 the Stamp Tax amounted to no less than 3 1/2 d per copy... [The Tax was abolished in 1855]

Northern Ireland
[Only ref to conflict there was: ] ...After the settlement of the Irish problems in 1922, boundary disputes between Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State continued. . .in 1925 Mr Baldwin intervened and a settlement was arrived at whereby no boundary alteration was made A commission to inNo entry, this particle was only discovered in 1932]...

...The chief mineral is coal. The soil is generally extemely fertile. . .The manufactures include lace, hosiery, machinery, silk and cotton spinning, bleaching, coal mining, iron adn brass founding, glove making etc...

Old Age Pensions was not until 1909 that the first statute providing for old age pensions came into force. . .the claimant must have reached seventy years of age...

...The habitual use of opium is most common in China...

Large quantities of opium used to be consumed in China. . .the use of opium was put down between 1906 and 1916. In 1917 the importation of opium into China ceased [no emntion of the British involvement in forcing China to take Opium as payment for silk etc)

A maritime country of the Mediterranean administered by Great Britain under mandate from the League of Nations, as a Jewish national home...

The predominant race is Musselman-Arabs, but the Jews are rapidly increasing, mainnly by immigration from Russia and Rumania...

The principal farm crops are wheat, barley, millet, tobacco, olives, melons and lentils. Sheep, goats and camels are raised...

Oranges (from the Jaffa district) are exceptionally thick skinned and are more suitable for transport than any other competitive oranges on the market. The best are sent to Liverpool, which receives 2/3 of the crop. Egypt and Turkey take the remainder. Each orange crop is worth £2,000,000.

The ostensible aim of the British Government, in accordance with the Balfour Declaration, is to make Palestine the Jewish national home without prejudicing the non-Jewish communities within the mandate area.

Population (census 1922), 757,182(590,890 of Mohammedan belief, 83,793 Jews, 73,024 Christians, 7028 Druses, and 163 Samaritans)

The Future of Palestine.-Much has been said about the development of Palestine, its future prospects and the probable effects of concentrating a small number of Jews in a territory that is overwhelmingly Muslim..

The Jew accepts Moses but rejects Christ and Mahomet; the Christian accepts both Moses and Christ but not Mohamet; and the Mahommedan accepts all three, Mahomet, Christ and Moses, as prophets, and in virtue of such a recognition he would appear to have a paramount right to th custody of the holy place of civilisation.

An Ottoman political ideal having as its basis the reunion of of the scattered religious sects and political divisions of Islam under one head, for the resistance of further encroachment by European powers, and for the ousting of European rulers from Asia and Africa. This ideal finds expression in Arabic by a phrase Ittihad al-Islam, meaning "Islamic Union" or Pan-Islamism, and was first mentioned in English in the Times of 19th Jan. 1882.

The Ottoman interpretation of the movement was simply a confederation of Muslim peoples on German lines and under Turkish hegemony. 1911 the Young Turk Committee...were canvassing all Muslim states under European control on behalf of the Pan-Islamic doctrine, urging all good Mohammedans to achnowledge the Sultan of Turkey as their legitimate, and emphasising the oriental fact "religion first, nationality second".

The Persian was urged to "remember he was a Muslim and to forget he was a Shiite"

Under a similar scheme the smaller sects of Islam (Ismailis, Zaidis, etc) which rendered any system of unification impracticable, were to be wiped out and their adherents incorporated with the break bulk of Muslims.

With the advent of the European War, events moved rapidly. Turkey subordinated her foeign policy to [Germany] and went to war claiming a jihad that nobody would either countenence or join. The keeper of the Holy Places, the Sherif of Mecca, entered on the British side in 1916 and in doing so he damned forever the Turkish cause in the eyes of the already disgusted and Turk-ridden Arabs. . .

At the end of the war...the general shrinking of Turkish power, extent and prestige gave Pan-Islamism a blow from which in all probability it will never recover.