Bonar Law Home Rule speech 1912

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Bonar Law Home Rule speech 1912

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Tue Nov 26, 2019 3:27 pm

Would any one reading this be able to help with this puzzle?

At Edward Winter's page on Bonar Law:

http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/extra/bonarlaw.html

There is a bit about speech Bonar Law gave in 1912:
From page 152 of the American Chess Bulletin, July 1912:

‘Speaking against Home Rule, Mr Bonar Law said, among other things: “I don’t know whether any of you play the game of chess. I am rather fond of it myself. If any of you understand anything about it you know it sometimes happens, when two players have been engaged in a game for some time, that one of them announces mate in so many moves and his opponent examines the board, and if he sees the mate is there he surrenders the game. That is the position on the political chess board now. Mr Redmond [John Redmond, the leader of the Irish National Party] has played his game so successfully and, with the Government as sleeping partner, announces mate in three moves. But suddenly the pawns, those vigorous pawns, spring to life, and refuse to be moved by them, and insist on moving themselves, and what becomes of the nice situation then?”’

More particulars about Bonar Law’s speech would be welcomed.
I found the ACB page here:

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id= ... up&seq=160

But there are no further details there.

I have been trying to find where that speech might have been given. I looked in Hansard and failed to find anything there. It might have been from the Blenheim Palace rally speech that Bonar Law gave on 27 July 1912, but that depends on whether that is too late for publication in the July 1912 ACB (I am unsure what date that magazine would have gone to press).

In any case, the tone of the speech ("I don’t know whether any of you play the game of chess") doesn't sound like one made to a big rally of Conservative Unionists (but it might have been), nor of a speech made in parliament. Bonar Law would have made lots of speeches on this topic in June and July 1912. I also tried looking in the archives of The Times, but drew a blank there.

Can anyone find a primary source for this (or think where the ACB might have sourced it from themselves)?

David McAlister
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Re: Bonar Law Home Rule speech 1912

Post by David McAlister » Tue Nov 26, 2019 10:57 pm

I have found a newspaper report of a speech given by Bonar Law on the 7th December 1911 to 4,000 people at the Skating Rink, Stanley Road, Bootle [Bootle was Bonar Law's constituency]. The report does not have the first 3 sentences of the chess metaphor and has some other minor differences. Perhaps another report can be found with the version in the ACB - either of the 7th December speech or a later speech where Bonar Law had refined the metaphor.
But the position of the political chess board was this - Mr Redmond had played his game very skilfully and the Government, as sleeping partner, had announced mate in three moves, but suddenly the pawns - those vigorous pawns from Ulster - sprang into life. They refused to be removed by others, insisting on moving themselves, and what became of the nice calculations then?”
Source: Belfast News-Letter Friday 8th December 1911, page 9.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Bonar Law Home Rule speech 1912

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Wed Nov 27, 2019 1:10 pm

Brilliant! Thanks so much for finding that. Which newspaper archive did you search to find that? It might be possible to find some more, but that is close enough that I think it should be sent in to Edward Winter as an update to that Chess Note (if this has not already been drawn to his attention). Would you be able to do that? (If you'd prefer not to, I'd be happy to send it in and credit you for finding it - note that on his website Edward Winter asks those contacting him to provide full name and postal address.)

David McAlister
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Re: Bonar Law Home Rule speech 1912

Post by David McAlister » Wed Nov 27, 2019 2:33 pm

Brilliant! Thanks so much for finding that.
Glad to be able to help. Have sent you a PM.

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: Bonar Law Home Rule speech 1912

Post by Gerard Killoran » Wed Nov 27, 2019 3:25 pm

The full speech and quotation can be found in The Scotsman - Friday 08 December 1911 p.9

for subscribers

https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co. ... 8/267/0009

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Bonar Law Home Rule speech 1912

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Wed Nov 27, 2019 4:04 pm

Northern Whig of same date reports it also as does an Aberdeen paper - the speech got wide coverage.

I was amused that the venue was the Bootle Skating Rink as it was certainly not the last time a politician might be on thin ice...

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Bonar Law Home Rule speech 1912

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Wed Nov 27, 2019 4:06 pm

That is very interesting. That verbatim report of Bonar Law's speech gives a preamble from him to the chess metaphor:

"Speaking on this subject a few weeks ago, I gave an illustration that I think is sufficiently to the point to justify me in giving it again."

[This earlier use might not have been reported.]

He then follows with the words almost exactly (*) as reported in the July 1912 ACB (either they were very behind with publishing or they were told about this very late or Bonar Law did use the metaphor again or a reporter recycled a report of it or something like that).

[(*) 'know that it sometimes happens' vs 'know it sometimes happens'; 'at a game' vs 'in a game'; 'though he sees that the "stale" is there he surrenders the game'' vs 'if he sees the mate is there he surrenders the game'; 'nice calculations then' vs 'nice situation then'.]

Most of the differences are minor, but the use of "stale" instead of "mate" is puzzling. Can't really explain that.

How did journalists report such speeches back than? Shorthand and then sending in their report?

(Do the different newspapers differ slightly in wording, or are they all working from a 'wired' central version?)

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