Author’s note: This clerihew was first published in Gilbert Magazine, the official publication of the American Chesterton Society.
G.K. Chesterton and George Bernard Shaw were great friends, but they were in many ways physical, intellectual and spiritual opposites. Chesterton greatly enjoyed food and drink, was a devout Christian, and embraced a political philosophy – distributism – that rejected established versions of both socialism and capitalism. Shaw was ascetic, vegetarian, socialist and atheist. He was an early member of the Fabian Society, a group that promotes the introduction of socialism into modern society by means of gradual reforms.
The Fabian Society takes its name from the ancient Roman general Quintus Fabius Maximus, whose strategy for defeating the Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca relied on avoiding the pitched battles that Hannibal was almost certain to win.
One opinion that Shaw and Chesterton DID share was a dislike of gambling – which leads to the subject of this clerihew. The racing of thoroughbred horses is one of the pillars of gambling around the world, and all modern thoroughbreds are the descendents of a small number of Arabian stallions imported into England in the 17th century.
The increased popularity of ‘Fabian’ as a given name in the early 1960s reflects the fame of the teen music idol of that name. In addition to his music career, Fabian also appeared in a number of movies (notably Five Weeks in a Balloon) and still has a following of nostalgic fans. But I’m pretty sure they don’t call themselves the Fabian society.
The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.– G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)