Sunday, November 27, 2011

‘They Were Fighting as to Who Should Be President of the Peace Society’

From Radical Joe: A Life of Joseph Chamberlain, a reminiscence from his primary-school teacher:
At one time, they wanted to get up a ‘Peace Society.’ I was very much against it, as I felt sure it would stir up quarrels among them, and they were of course forbidden to fight. However, like men, I knew they would get tired of it if they had their own way. One afternoon I heard there had been trouble while I had been out, and I sent for the boys to interrogate the offenders. It was just as I had expected. They had been fighting as to who should be the President of the Peace Society, and, of course, Joseph Chamberlain was among them. 
An adult Joe Chamberlain remembered the events perfectly:
I founded that Peace Society. It was to be a charitable society, and we had a fund of five pence half-penny to distribute, of which I contributed the largest share, for I remember my uncle gave me a fourpenny bit. The quarrel was as to what should be done with so large a sum. Eventually, after long consideration, it went to a crossing-sweeper near the school, and that was the end of the Peace Society.
And that little boy with the fourpenny bit grew up to start the Boer War. And now you know . . . the rest of the story.

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