Monday, 10 June 2013

1927: The Spectator

Lé magâsîn The Spectator a ouèrt ses archives. N'en v'chîn un but d'întéthêt:

Some Jersey Churches
WHILE a blue-bonneted Biscayan Frenchman was peddling onions through the streets of St. Heliers, a little mob of children followed hooting him in French (with delightful irony), for being a Frenchman. Though there is nothing a Jerseyman more detests than being called a Frenchman, and nothing upon which he prides himself more than the Battle of Jersey at which in 1781 twelve hundred invading French were beaten into surrender in the streets of St. Heliers by the Jersey Militia and some companies of a Highland- regiment, yet French the Jerseyman is; and so is his language and so is his country. In the fine old sturdy town-church of St. Heliers the morning service is always in French ; the potato-planting peasant of the outlying hamlets speaks (sometimes) nothing but the broadest of patois. But more than all, the whole atmosphere of the island, physical and moral, is French — a term which connotes a certain delicate neatness and indescribable charm. There are the long-tailed horses driven with that abandon which only the French driver can practise without disaster. There's the clean, pure air, the straight long-handled spade, the beautiful cows that are tethered at pasture — some of them wear jackets in exposed situations, and of these, despite the wind-cutting hedges of Jersey cabbage, there are plenty ; and the curious, stiffly built, gaudily painted houses, so characteristic of parts of France. We may have held these islands for a thousand years, but the flat British foot has left no trace on them. And the people are so sweetly polite.

1 comment:

L'Office du Jèrriais said...

Épis Messire Bertram Falle (pus tard Lord Portsea) rêponnit

"Mr. Meiklejohn tells us that "French the Jerseyman is and so is his language and so is his country." And this of islands never under French sovereignty, which have sheltered a conquering people for a thousand years !

The Islander is bi-lingual : all speak English and most Norman-French. The Jerseyman finds that this protects him (officially) from a horde who might eat him up. Norman-French is not French ; is the language used in England by the Court, in courts of law and by all freemen for a lengthened period ; it is the language in which King Henry VIII. wrote his love-letters and in which Queen Elizabeth wrote her aphorisms ; the language in which His Majesty in Parliament declares his assent or dissent. It is the language of a conquering people."