Glossary entry for
Haunts of Ancient Peace

From Martin J. Wiener's English Culture... comes this story about the original "Haunts of Ancient Peace" and the writer of it:
"The late Victorian Poet Laureate Alfred Austin (1835-1913), whose fondest subject was "the older and simpler modes of our national life, when still unmenaced by displacement by less comely and more mechanical conditions" made a Pilgrimage in search of the past through England in 1901, and published a widely sold account of it, entitled "Haunts of Ancient Peace". Austin's aim in travelling through the country was to find, as he put it:
"Old England, or so much of it as is left... I confess I crave for the urbanity of the Past... for washing days, home-made jams, lavender bags, recitations of Gray's "Elegy", and morning and evening prayers. One is offered, in place of them, ungraceful hurry and worry, perpetual postmen's knocks, an intermittent shower of telegrams."

In his travels the Poet Laureate happily found "Ancientness... in abundance", and concluded his book with the reassurance to his readers that Old England still lived. The nation as a whole was yet a "haunt of ancient peace. May it ever remain so!" he rhapsodized."

One of Austin's poems concludes:
Let hound and horn in wintry woods and dells
Make jocund music though the boughs be bare,
And whistling yokel guide his teaming share
Hard by the homes where gentle lordship dwells.
Therefore sit high enthroned on every hill,
Authority! and loved in every vale;
Nor, old Tradition, falter in the tale
Of lowly valour led by lofty will;
And, though the throats of envy rage and rail,
Be fair proud England, proud fair England still.

The Penguin Companion to Literature has this to say about Austin:
For his services to Tory journalism, he was made Poet Laureate in 1896. Austin has written 20 volumes of bad verse, trying most forms, including 2 dreary narratives, "The Human Tragedy" and "England's Darling". Austin was a 'follower' of Byron. He wrote a very popular prose piece, "The Garden That I Love". His "Autobiography" (2 vols, 1911) is impossibly pompous.
Contributed by Bent Sorensen

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