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Voices of Europe produced and recorded by Milton Mayer in cooperation with the University of Chicago under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters on this program. Milton Maier will conduct an interview from London and present candid recordings from famous Hyde Park in London. And now Milton Mayer and I won't kill innocent lives in the northeast of love is the great grandson of Elfreda Lord Tennyson. The great poet of the Victorian Age of England at 34. Mr Tennyson has distinguished himself in English life and letters as an independent traveller and observer and as a novelist he has published books on such remote
places such widely separated places as Yugoslavia and India and closer to home. He enjoys distinction as an authority on the life and times of his immortal ancestor. What would your great grandfather say if you came back human in one hundred fifty six or seven. Well Mr. Mero I think I'm afraid that he would be rather horrified by what he saw in this country which he admired so greatly and which he thought was on the civilising mission for the rest of the world. And indeed I don't think we today are in the position to civilize and invite it and we haven't even civilized ourselves properly yet. Was it a civilizing mission in fact during your great grandfather's. Now that's a very complicated question I think requires a very complicated answer.
I think that I think that my great grandfather genuinely thought it was a civilizing mission perhaps was blind to the very large amounts of capital investment which his countrymen had put into the underdeveloped parts of the earth from which they were drawing a very good dividend. So yes what blinded him. I suppose it was a delusion of grandeur of the French with an idea that if they had so much power in the rest of the world they had to find a moral justification of it. They couldn't face the some of the truths upon which their power rested and therefore they had for their own peace of mind to believe that that was exercised in the best interests of the people over whom it was held and what opened as a great grandson. Well that is a very personal question as to me I wouldn't like to see in a few words what
was succeeded in doing that I think the answer would be the whole breakdown of the Great Western tradition which my ancestors had believed in in the 1930s the way that when it when the other nations of the world started to rise started to claim their rights we didn't seem to have any answer for that nationalism which had been the great foundation of the various world empires when it broke out in Germany and Italy and elsewhere in the other European nations who hadn't come in early enough on the scene to get hold of sufficient power who came in so late that all the colonized all areas of the world already under the control of the French or the British when they came late on the scene they had to seize in order to acquire national prestige their rights or their imagined rights by whatever means they could and those means that they used in the 1930s were not very attractive ones and I think it opened up one's eyes to the real basis of the power
held by the other Western nations of the world where these means used by Germany Italy. Day in the thirties actually less attractive than those used by England and the great powers of the time of your great grandfather. They were of course identical left just what I'm getting at but they were exercised on our fellow Europeans and not on the distant peoples living five thousand miles away and therefore it was very difficult for us to escape the fact that the means which we had used a hundred years before where equally unpleasant although exercised out of vision and therefore not quite so compelling we were more easily able to delude ourselves about means. Now am I to understand that the most civilized people on earth as I think most most of us Americans regard the English had in your great grandfather's
time succeeded in deluding themselves all together in such fundamental problems as servitude and equality freedom independence and slavery. Well you remember that Macaulay brought as he believed English civilization for the Indian nation through persuading the Indian leaders themselves that it was to their advantage to be taught English in the secondary schools from the high schools that were set up in India in order that they and this is the reasoning which McCauley used I think was very typical. In order that the Indians could acquire the art of self-government so that they could then take over their own destiny. You see in those days a hundred years ago it was easy enough to think of self-government of something happening in many distant ages which didn't immediately affect your
position as an Englishman in India. It was easy to put that as an almost unattainable goal to which you were training the uncivilized Indians to reach. And therefore the having that girl in front of your Which was as I say almost unattainable way beyond the actual generations an existing You were able to fool yourselves temporally that the power you exercised in India was for the good of the Indian. The great crisis came of course when the Indians themselves got wised up to the fact that this girl was in front of them and that they only had to exert themselves in order to achieve it and that was when the great conflict came and of course once the conflict came as we had set ourselves this go as a distant prospect in order to to blind ourselves. The real basis of our power. We were so to speak undermined from within we had the psychological disadvantage because we had been taught this idea of freedom and we
had to yield to it. What why there are these backward incredulity were leading to an ever distant go or freedom. How did this happen. I imagine because they began to study the arts of self-government practiced by the West they began to acquire a sense of nationhood which they had for various historical reasons not developed to any very marked degree unlike any other nation when it acquired a sense of community they wanted to get rid of the foreigners who ruled them and to put their own house in order. The consequences of which as I see them here Mr. Tennison are that what was once the British Empire is now a small island overpopulated at that.
Well I think that you must give us with all this moral hypocrisy which went on in the 19th century you must give us also the good results of being hypocritical as well as the bad ones. Well I think I can name one at least and that is that we have had to a certain extent I wouldn't put it more cogently than that that we have had to a certain extent the power to adapt ourselves to the new conditions and to a certain extent to turn the old idea of empire into the beginning of a new sort of Association the Association of Free and equal peoples in a commonwealth. Now I know this Commonwealth doesn't of the mean very much in terms of actual organization in terms of real economic cooperation but it is a beginning and if we had faith in this new idea I think we could make it into something very much more meaningful than it is at present. And at least I think we can say that because we had this dose of moral hypocrisy which forced
us so to speak to live up to the goal which we had set ourselves originally as a very distant one that we have at least shown a certain adaptability in creating a new type of power. What has been the effect of this transition. Mr. Harrison the England of the streets and the roads in the byways that you live in that your great grandfather did now. Well there have been many changes in my lifetime even though I'm only just in my thirty fifth year. There have been very many changes since I was a boy in this country. Changes of course in England happen very slowly they're not dramatic. They don't happen because of a law or because of a revolution because of a sudden shift of emphasis they happen gradually. But there is an erosion going on underneath
the surface of British life and we're still in this state of erosion in the state of flux if you like. And I think that the actual form of the changes hasn't yet crystallized into anything very clearly marked. There are a great many rather conflicting tendencies at work which haven't yet formed a new pattern. Are there any marks of these changes in the British character. Well I think that one must admit that the British people in the last 15 20 years have lost a great deal of self-confidence. They haven't yet a climate eyes themselves to being a small part very small power indeed which may well be pulverize between the great giants of east and west. They haven't yet a climate eyes themselves to the loss of their empire they haven't yet grasped eagerly the opportunities represented in the idea of the Commonwealth of Nations about which I spoke.
And I think that in that sense one might say the British people were going through a period of hibernation I do think we have a capacity for when things get difficult instead of forming extremist groups like you would find in certain other European countries instead of seeking violent solutions we go into a sort of dream. We go underground and I think at the moment that we're going through an underground period you can see it in every branch of British life. Lack of experimentation or lack of vigor or a lack of confidence in our architecture our arts our novel writing dramatic writing every kind of field you can see this so to speak this hibernation period going on in Britain. Now I have enough confidence in our fundamental toughness in the fundamental things that make the British character tick to feel that we're going to come out of this period with something new something of a certain meaning something which
is going to advance us on to the next stage through this despond if you like but at the moment it is a very difficult period for an Englishman to be living in there's no doubt about it. Is your fundamental part as you call it Mr. tennis and different from ours or from that of the Germans or the Japanese or the Russians. I think it's different in this way of course we all talk about the the phlegmatic nature of the Englishman and I think that this toughness has a sort of dollar phlegmatic quality which is perhaps a little different to the to the the type of toughness which you're talking about Mr. Mayor it's more it's more a toughness of in durance without realizing that they're even enduring but just sort of carrying on. It's in a way it's very similar to the sort of spirit which was supposed to animate us during the Battle of Britain we weren't all sort of waving flags and dancing on the housetops. We were enduring without ever speaking
about it all without ever actually realizing consciously that we were going through a heroic time we just carried on. The moment I think we're just carrying on in that same way. Last question Mr. Curtis and quit your great grandfather or Queen Victoria have been happy in England today. Well I think one can still be happy in England. It's like one can be happy anywhere which sounds a great platitude but I do think there's one thing about England and that is that it's still possible as you must have seen in your travels around to get away if you like into a life of leisure and solitude and reality away and some of the more distant parts of England when we think of England. We so often think of the South of England of London of the great industrial sprawl sort of spreading round the great centers of urbanization. But there are still many Englands
and there are many beautiful parts of England and I think that even the Victorians could have found much that was similar in the life of our countryside. Still going on in some of the more isolated rural districts of England. Thank you Mr. Carter. From my heart. And orators corner or any institution which becomes dear all the time for this period of democracy where it is supposed that no matter what any man thinks or say as long as he can be brilliantly heard the social order in which he gets a hearing need not be afraid for its own security. Wandering about in Hyde Park. I have
tried to pick up some of the voices that are to be heard there. One of the big you know that like I said if we took this to the what to the Britain got never a leg to stand on it demonstrated here one of your lot I'd be out one of the PR said that I was not an advocate that you are not quite possible because I am sure every living African today too but me. And the Africans the Indians the Chinese and whatnot but I don't share with them south with the rights of the Egyptians and nationalized around here when I was here are my state but they both may be due to chance. After all we're once I'm back in this
country where we'll stand back and left. I don't know. Coming from the couple of and says well you know I'm right and if I don't know about it I don't know but at the same time that we didn't go far enough from their side we would never go to invade anyone's their recovery when it comes to get it right and I am not sure they will fight the last one. He will have to fight. But yet he is causing the fight to far enough. You want it to be more than that. This is after all.
I remember at one point in the not since I'm the one I never follow of the plan never think of my friends I know Chris out because they you know as much. Well he has no end of the day you can have a look at Germany. It is still an occupied country by country but not just by one nation. But never I love the one thing that never votes. Because you yourself have experienced and I've seen landed a punch. Never never understands that. I think it is nice if you tell us you want to pick
up the dark that's your cup of tea. But remember when you are in other people's countries don't. With you or not with the French the Germans I don't have a. Problem with them. But if Europe is that we don't know what other people do and it would be otherwise generation.
And it's only with. Byron as you know. You're probably going to get it. Get yourself but if you get a job it's time to grow up here at uni well in mind if you're like let's have a cup. Man what a way to something jump me. And you'll probably be surprised that he didn't go to but that what you would want the money and what is the right way. Well was there anything I can say is that look like this I say
sounds opossum in the straight. Out to be not straight. Millions of people are as mean as mean and. Mean and what an awesome in the Drake. I remember somebody saying you must have like in that. House I mean. You say that. To the best of it that's your industry to maybe look at may be a very dear friend that I've got something. That's a think. Of what you think of thank God I'm going to get that idea that we're going to without chatting Everybody mean that I would. Have made I would not let him out. Somebody I was getting a lot off of. And now there is one side toward the other way. You know about what if you love something and annoyed
that a Catholic cleric it themselves they never hear what it is that morning and sell the body. Got a little bit of a good read. And. Quite a number. But what's your point about that. Well we could get that judgement on any part of the of the doubt about it but it got off to a time when you are probably not that but don't go to the back. Of the thing I don't know about the guy. It got to you. Well they do they do. Well I want to get out of a point that I don't know the intimate life in them and not know that you are.
How did you know. But I thought it might be. Oh have you stopped me that way. Oh great. Yet what is it like you think you are. I think that's a clear the gentleman I have not heard any said I believe his writings are really right. Read everything. You can think if you begin to live with. It. I don't like what he's going to. Well the gentleman who admitted he had it been a bit about. I mean if I went into a lobster typing pool room and I was taught typing standing on a chair. There you go mad as you begin to think that there have been anywhere and you probably thought the most. If you don't like that. If it fit. If you rape them this horrible thing is a shortage of be happy.
Would you be happening. Why she became vivid. I mean many and many who ever did but they may in the end date I'd rather not live in the abstract tell me that jet or not I've got the freedom. An old am I the Holy Spirit is piling them while they say come on Reverend. What do they want. Anything again. Then all is well you know they love something and so you think that the essence of the misery of the elbow buried in those terrible old freshman but just got to hold your back going back in a pub landlord you told us about is what I'm going to get it I want to give you before you get down and I'm going to do it. What would you more you thought and I don't get. It why should I have you know Martin your I have not been a good jockey you ended up making it and I mean I don't know you don't mean you are getting what
they meant because you might turn to that moon the night amid of you heard the music from the not yet it's meant you know it and I don't know that we could have I don't add part of the night party yet no we're not we don't know when to meet you at a party. John what do you know why do you believe them or not pay homage to your how do you bring me when I like you but the Nuggets run from the wellspring good you're young you're going to die tonight you mean would you mind speaking did not I'm going to yawn. But you know I never did I mean not you were you are you don't name the not anybody and hold it into your head group that yes you're not going to win. No it's not going to slow down.
What I'm going to throw doubt on what about pulled out of the bucket brought in a load of rubbish no one called them about the desktop. They were the floor not something that you do when I read it I hope you didn't go that hard about about it but you cannot get what you want the wild weather I mean. Right oppressive to do this but the mythical hero to profit you get it I mean the book to the root of the member of the government. I don't I want a lot of that was the route of collaborators that it was the bit about the I don't I want this rather not what the members of the West. Now today they're not about the US German Government them and us and
there are no women today. Big reason why you believe there are not because the have not yet hoppy the child to build concentration camps again but any time to get a chance you can build long you are young but the old men who believe in oppression of people and murder innocent women and children. You can't get a photo. That we know of the police talking about you could change me from my policy for I am already here on a grown up story. You can't change me and I'm younger than the one we're talking about one of the little Or with one of them I said you got to the mouth of the coffee it up if you don't care what you do and I'm on the fifth. I'm far away from that and you can't change me. These battles in Germany cannot be changed and that they're the peculiar young ones didn't teach you
not to ride out there. But unfortunately for you that the world is soft changing even America and Britain because Africa got then is a cargo that needed the kind of got to or because of they are part of now what you order for them to get back to going to happen you know I don't remember ever not one. People in America people like the war. Voices of Europe was produced and recorded in Europe in
cooperation with the University of Chicago under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center. This program is distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This program has been introduced by Marvin price. This is the Radio Network.
Voices of Europe
Hallam Tennyson and voices on the street.
Producing Organization
University of Chicago
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program features an interview with Hallam Tennyson, the great-grandson of Alfred Lord Tennyson. The second part of the program features interviews with various people in Hyde Park about the state of England at the time.
Series Description
Interviews with noted Europeans on a variety of subjects, conducted by Milton Mayer, American author and broadcaster, lecturer and professor in the Institute of Social Research at Frankfurt University.
Broadcast Date
Global Affairs
Great Britain--Civilization--20th century.
Media type
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Interviewee: Tennyson, Hallam, 1920-2005
Interviewer: Mayer, Milton, 1908-1986
Producing Organization: University of Chicago
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-7-22 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:45
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Chicago: “Voices of Europe; Hallam Tennyson and voices on the street.,” 1957-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 16, 2024,
MLA: “Voices of Europe; Hallam Tennyson and voices on the street..” 1957-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 16, 2024. <>.
APA: Voices of Europe; Hallam Tennyson and voices on the street.. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from