The “Demure One” [pseud.] (1882) The Battle of Boulogne: Or How Calais Became English Again: Another Version of the Channel Tunnel Affair
1882 was a significant year for the student of apocalyptic writing. It is then that more apocalyptic books were published in England than at any other single time before 1914, and it was also a point at which the religious apocalyptic book temporarily gave way to its far more fashionable Future-War apocalyptic brother. The concerns centered chiefly on the proposed building of the channel tunnel and its possible use as a means of invasion by a foreign army. The idea of a channel tunnel was first proposed at the beginning of the nineteenth century by a French engineer who recognized the architectural possibilities inherent in the chalk floor. Napoleon showed interest, but intermittent periods of war prevented him from realizing any project along these lines. Private companies began digging a railroad tunnel near Folkestone, Kent, early in the Century. A 6,000 ft. long tunnel was bored from the English side, but this project was halted after a national frenzy over the possibility of invasion from the mainland. While religious or primary apocalyptic authors continued to converge on issues such as the “Eastern Question” the future of the tottering Ottoman Empire, Future-War novelists, perhaps more attuned to popular opinion, set to work inspiring fear of a channel tunnel. The Battle of Boulogne: or How Calais Became English Again, Another Version of the Channel Tunnel Affair, by Hector Chauvin (writing under the pseudonym of the “Demure One”, a one-time French demagogue), was one such venture. [Ernie Hilbert (1999) “Preludes to Armageddon: Apocalyptic Clamor and Complaint in Britain, 1850-1914”, Journal of Millennial Studies, Vol. 1 Issue 2]
In the year 1892, Monsieur Hector Chauvin, who was at that time a refugee residing in Soho Square, after having been Prime Minister of France, wrote the following justificatory memorandum to explain how he had brought his country to defeat and disgrace by trying to employ the Channel Tunnel as a means of aggression against Great Britain.
M. Chauvin had been at one time a great and very popular statesman. He represented the war party in France. He had been conspicuous for his detestation of England. He hated that country, first, because it Royalist; secondly, because it was religious; thirdly, because it was wealthy and prosperous; fourthly, because, while holding an indisputable commercial supremacy, it had also, in an unaccountable way, managed invariably to get the better of all its enemies on sea and land. M. Chauvin, who was a Republican, an Atheist, and man of pleasure, had never been able to understand how a people, who feared God and were loyal to their Queen, should have been able to succeed in commerce and war at one and the same time. He had always thought that the prosperity of England a thing monstrous and absurb, which, as it gave the lie to all Republican logic, must be accounted as due only to a series of lucky accidents. He had always acted upon this belief. He had prided himself upon being a French Cato, crying continually Delenda est Britannia ; and we have the results of his policy in the following narrative.