Anarchists of Weary Gait

Welcome to the latest in our series of audio adventures, Tales for Our Time: it’s Part Three of my serialization of The Man Who Was Thursday by G K Chesterton, a tale of anarchists on Edwardian London streets to divert you from the anarchists on 21st century American streets. We’re always happy to hear from Mark Steyn Club members who enjoy our radio adaptations, and Kitty, a First Day Founding Member from Massachusetts, likes this one so far:

I read this book more than a decade ago. It is so much more pleasurable to hear it read by you! Thank you!

I’ll have to take your word for that, Kitty – unless you want to come in to the studio and we can compare readings. In tonight’s episode of The Man Who Was Thursday, our two poets find themselves in a stand-off:

“Don’t you see we’ve checkmated each other?” cried Syme. “I can’t tell the police you are an anarchist. You can’t tell the anarchists I’m a policeman. I can only watch you, knowing what you are; you can only watch me, knowing what I am. In short, it’s a lonely, intellectual duel, my head against yours. I’m a policeman deprived of the help of the police. You, my poor fellow, are an anarchist deprived of the help of that law and organisation which is so essential to anarchy. The one solitary difference is in your favour. You are not surrounded by inquisitive policemen; I am surrounded by inquisitive anarchists. I cannot betray you, but I might betray myself. Come, come! wait and see me betray myself. I shall do it so nicely.”

Gregory put the pistol slowly down, still staring at Syme as if he were a sea-monster…

The mass of the anarchists entered the room heavily, with a slouching and somewhat weary gait; but one little man, with a black beard and glasses—a man somewhat of the type of Mr Tim Healy—detached himself, and bustled forward with some papers in his hand.

I’m not sure there is any other man “of the type of Mr Tim Healy”. In 1908 he sat in the House of Commons as the Member for North Louth: Tory? Liberal? Irish Parliamentary Party? No, he was a member of the “Healyite Nationalist” caucus, one of half-a-dozen parties he belonged to over the years, although Healy was always a Healyite at heart. He started as a loyal acolyte of Charles Stewart Parnell, but fell out with him over his affair with Kitty O’Shea. A famous exchange that nearly ended in fisticuffs:

Parnell (asserting his authority): Who is the master of the party?

Healy: Aye, and who is the mistress of the party?

At the time of The Man Who Was Thursday, Tim Healy had been most recently occupied as counsel for Sir Arthur Vicars, the Ulster King of Arms on whose watch the Irish Crown Jewels were stolen. He ended his career in the Twenties as the first Governor-General of the Irish Free State.

Members of The Mark Steyn Club can hear Part Three of our adventure simply by clicking here and logging-in. Parts One and Two can be found here.

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If you’ve only joined the Steyn Club in recent days and missed our earlier serials (Conan Doyle’s The Tragedy of the Korosko, Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent, Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel, Anthony Hope’s The Prisoner of Zenda, plus Kipling, Kafka, Dickens, Gogol, Louisa May Alcott, Jack London, H G Wells, Scott Fitzgerald and more), you can find them all on our easy-to-access Netflix-style Tales for Our Time home page. Indeed, it’s so easy to access that we’ve introduced a similar format for the new audio editions of The Mark Steyn Show.

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