Thursday 31 August 2023

Grey of Fallodon’s Last Speech

    “His last speech in the House of Lords, on February 14, 1933, was not on politics, but was a plea for control of the emptying of ships’ oil round our coasts, a practice most destructive of the birds that float on the waves. Previous speakers had spoken for the birds: he added a further argument:  
   My Lords: I do not wish for a moment to minimize the terrible effect of oil pollution on bird life, which has been so forcibly put before your lordships. But there is one other aspect of the matter I would like to bring forward. One of the most famous tributes in our literature to our sea is that it performs its work of preventing the pollution of our shores.  
         [The moving waters at their priestlike task  
         Of pure ablution round earth's human shores.
                                                                   Keats’s Last Sonnet.]
Is all that to come to an end? Apart from what oil pollution does to birds, it is a horrible thought from our own point of view that our shores should be filthy. We are really proud of our sea, and rely upon the Government to take some action if possible to prevent it.” 
G.M. Trevelyan, Grey of Fallodon: Being the Life of Sir Edward Grey Afterwards Viscount of Fallodon (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1945; 1937), p. 362.