Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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( 'Nother Solent is this blog's good twin. Same words, searchable archives, RSS feed. Provided by a benefactor, to whom thanks.
I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)

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Monday, August 06, 2012

Sunday, August 05, 2012
Discussion Point XXXVIII over at Samizdata asked,
What have you failed to find on the internet that you expected to be there?
In the course of the comments, a minor literary mystery was, I think, solved by Guy Herbert. I'll reproduce the relevant comments for the benefit of future searchers. First I said,
The two unfound internet things that made me think of this post were (a) truly easy to follow instructions on how to prolong the life of various types of battery. Yesterday I finally found Battery University: Summary of Do's and Don'ts, although these instructions still demand more mental engagement from the instructee than this instructee wants to supply.


(b) In 1940 C S Lewis made a speech to a pacifist society called "Why I am not a Pacifist." It included the words

From the dawn of history down to the sinking of the Terris Bay, the world echoes with the praise of righteous war.

From context, the Terris Bay was a ship, presumably recently sunk in the course of the war, although it could also have been a poem or story about the sinking of a ship of that name. I can find no other mention of it. I can't even find a reliable-sounding mention of a place called Terris Bay, although there is a Terrace Bay in Ontario.

Alisa pointed out that there is a Terris Bay in Australia, and then Guy Herbert said,
@Natalie 09:18 - (b) Submit this is a misprint. The internet very literal-minded. If you know the naval-historical context it is obvious Lewis would have been referring to the Jervis Bay
Alisa replied,
Guy, the net is full of references to that speech, and all of them have it as 'Terris Bay' (I tried to google 'C.S. Lewis and 'Jervis Bay' together, and nothing came up). If that is a mistake, it seems to have been made either by Lewis himself or by a chronicler.
I replied,
Alisa & Guy Herbert,

I think you are both right. Guy's suggestion that Lewis meant the Jervis Bay rather than the Terris Bay sounds very probable. If the sacrifice of the Jervis Bay was very recent at the time he spoke, it would make perfect sense for him to place it at the near end of a line of accounts of heroism in righteous war stretching back to 'the dawn of history'.

Assuming that the date of the speech, which I only see given as "1940" can be shown to have been after 5th November 1940, you may have solved a minor literary mystery.

The introduction by Walter Hooper to Timeless at Heart, the collection of essays where I found the speech, says that "Lewis made a copy of the manuscript for his former pupil and friend, George Sayer, and I have Mr Sayer to thank for providing me with a reproduction of it." That suggests that the line of transmission was a single handwritten manuscript, and it would be very easy to misread a handwritten "Jervis Bay" as "Terris Bay".

Guy's comment included a link to the Wikipedia entry for HMS Jervis Bay which makes it very clear why that ship might well have sprung readily to Lewis' mind. It reads:
She was the sole escort for 37 merchant ships in Convoy HX-84 from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Britain, when the convoy encountered the Admiral Scheer. The Captain of Jervis Bay, Edward Fegen, ordered the convoy to scatter, and set a course straight towards the German warship to draw its fire, guns blazing.[1] The Jervis Bay was hopelessly outgunned and outranged by the 28 cm guns of the German ship. Even so, Fegan and his crew fought on until their ship was set ablaze and sunk 755 nautical miles (1,398 kilometres) south-southwest of Reykjavík. Captain Fegen went down with his ship.[2] However, although Admiral Scheer went on to sink five merchant ships out of the convoy, Jervis Bay's sacrifice bought enough time for the convoy to scatter, and the remaining ships escaped. Sixty-five survivors from Jervis Bay were picked up by the neutral Swedish ship Stureholm. Captain Fegen was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross as a result of this action. The citation for the Victoria Cross reads "Valour in challenging hopeless odds and giving his life to save the many ships it was his duty to protect.")
Alisa suggested that I add a note to a relevant Wikipedia entry. This I have totally failed to do, due to idleness, ignorance of the technique, and the fact that my IP range seems to be blocked from editing Wikipedia. If you reading this feel inclined to add such a note, please do.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Wednesday, August 01, 2012