Saki on Edwardian Religion


Saki (Hector Hugh Munro, 1870-1916)

One tends to think of Saki as a rather flippantly cynical sort of blighter, whose famous last words – “put that bloody cigarette out” – were entirely fitting. My confidence in this view of Saki was shaken by the glowing tribute that Maurice Baring pays him in The Puppet Show of Memory.

He certainly was certainly a great satirist. Here is a magnificent sneer at Edwardian Christianity, which was the predictable harvest of Victorian Liberalism:

They had come to look on the Christ as a sort of amiable elder Brother, whose letters from abroad were worth reading.  Then, when they had emptied all the divine mystery and wonder out of their faith naturally they grew tired of it, oh, but dreadfully tired of it.  I know many English of the country parts, and always they tell me they go to church once in each week to set the good example to the servants.  They were tired of their faith, but they were not virile enough to become real Pagans; their dancing fauns were good young men who tripped Morris dances and ate health foods and believed in a sort of Socialism which made for the greatest dulness of the greatest number.  You will find plenty of them still if you go into what remains of social London. (When William Came)

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