“Riverbank Walk 1” – RWS Photography
“Riverbank Walk 2” – RWS Photography
“Riverbank 3” – RWS Photography
“Muddy Path 1” – RWS Photography




C.E.M Joad [1891-1953]

The Joadian Way

“The Joadian Way Ramblette”

Described as “probably the most beautiful short walk in the South Downs National Park”, the Joadian Way Ramblette will take place the weekend before Easter – Saturday April 8 – to mark the 64th Anniversary of South Downs philosopher and writer C.E.M. Joad (1891-1953), who became famous in the wartime Brains Trust.

Starting from Amberley Station at 11am, the short walk will pass through North Stoke near the South Downs Way (with its unique red Telephone Box/Information Point), and then on to South Stoke where Joad wrote many of his 100+ books in the 1940’s. On arrival back at Amberley Station by 12.30 (approx), there will be an option for lunch at the Riverside Restaurant by Houghton Bridge.

All are warmly welcome. Good walking boots are strongly recommended as it is likely to be muddy in places.

There will also be a “Joad Exhibitionette” in Arundel Museum from Friday April 7 to Friday April 14 2017.

For more information, please contact Richard by email: or text: 07540 309592

Richard W. Symonds

The Joad Society

2 Lychgate Cottages

Ifield Street, Ifield Village

Crawley, West Sussex

Tel: 07540 309592 (Text only – Very deaf)


Further information




The Sarawak Gazette, April 30, 1953. “Death of a Philosopher” by “P.S.J.” (Philip Suttill Jones – Ed)
On April 9th 1953 there died in London a man whose name ten years ago was a household word in England, and well-known wherever the BBC’s famous Brains Trust was heard – Dr. Cyril Joad.
People clamoured for his autograph; jugs and book-ends were modelled from his face; he brought Plato and philosophy into every house where there was a wireless set; traffic was stopped in the streets by crowds trying to get into halls to hear him speak.
One Sunday afternoon in 1942. Dr Joad went to Dartmoor Gaol in Devon to address five hundred of the toughest convicts in England. He spoke in the prison chapel. He was supposed to be talking about the moral issues of the war, but at the last moment, as he mounted the lectern, he changed his mind and gave a lecture on philosophy.
He talked for an hour, with shining lucidity and wit, about the theory of philosophers called ‘idealism’. He argued that hard tangible matter does not really exist : it is no more than an illusion in the mind of man. He finished by saying to those five hundred men, many of them in prison for life :
“And so you see, and I am sure you will all agree with me, that: 
‘Stone walls do not a prison make 
Nor iron bars a cage.’ “
When he sat down, it seemed as if the clapping and cheering would never end. When silence came at last, the Prison Chaplain – a quiet, earnest man (“P.S.J.”? – Ed), proposed a vote of thanks. He doubted, he said, if all his listeners would agree with Professor Joad’s conclusion, “and even some of you who do so now may later say, like a cockney I once knew, ‘Blimey then, I must be ‘ypnotised!'”…and the clapping began all over again.
The war ended, and later the Brains Trust. By his own fault and folly, life turned sour on Joad. He cheated a railway company. He was convicted and fined. The BBC was closed to him. He was expelled from his London club, a place he greatly loved. Yet it is perhaps wrong to call it folly. It was, rather, a mental quirk – something related, in a bastard way, to his dislike of bureaucracy and to his passion for the freedom of the human mind and spirit.
He used to illustrate this rebellious force in him by the especial pleasure with which he told of something he had once seen. It was in London, during the General Strike of 1926. The only motor lorries then being driven in the streets bore placards with the words “Driven by permission of the Trades Union Congress.” No others dared go on the roads. But one day, in the Strand, Joad saw a different lorry go by. It was driven, very fast, by a little red-haired man (“he could only be a cockney,” Joad said) with a bristling red moustache, and on the bonnet there was a poster, with the words, “Driven by my own bloody permission.”
He enjoyed telling stories against himself. Before the last war, he gave a lecture at a well-known girls’ school. After the lecture the head-mistress offered him a cheque. “Now,” Joad would say, “I’m not in the least averse from being paid for what I do, but on this occasion I had spoken on a subject near my heart and I didn’t want any money, so I asked the head-mistress if she would keep the cheque and give it to any charity she might choose.” He thought no more of the incident until he was leaving. Then it occurred to him that his fee might be given to some object of which he disapproved, and as he said good-bye he asked the head-mistress what she thought of doing with it. “If head-mistresses could hesitate,” he said, “she would have hesitated. If head-mistresses could blush, she would have blushed. She did neither. She looked me calmly in the eye and said: “The money, Dr. Joad, will be paid into a fund for providing the school with better lecturers next year.’ “
Though he lost much by his strange lapse, he never lost his mental clarity and brilliance, and he never faltered in his allegiance to beauty as he saw it, or in his generosity. Joad had no connection with Sarawak, except for his vivid interest in far places, his curiosity about all that goes on in the world, and his concern for his friends. One of them, about to set out for Kuching, went to say farewell (This was Philip Suttill Jones – “P.S.J.” – who met Joad at his Stedham home in June 1952, according to hand-written information at the back of a ‘page of 1st typescript’ given to him by Joad – see Note below). Joad was already, and knew that he was dying. He lay in his garden, a pale semblance of the tubby, vigorous, rosy-faced man he had been. But he was full of curiosity and questions: the climate, the ways of life, the Rajah and his rule, how the different peoples live and work together. Later, still alert and interested, he wrote: “I have got steadily worse and weaker. But please keep me on the list of your letter recipients. You may not have to send them for long. Please do that.” (This was letter written by Joad to his friend on October 3 1952 – six months before his death on April 9 1953. See Note below)
In his latest book, “The Recovery of Belief – A Restatement of Christian Philosophy”, finished and published during his last illness, Dr. Joad describes his conversion to the Christian faith.
(Note : I have Philip S. Jones personal copy in front of me – within which I found this Sarawak article and other enclosures, including a letter from Cyril Joad to “My dear Philip” – from which the initials “P.S.J.” were identified)
For most of his life he could not accept the religious view of the Universe. It seemed to him, he writes, “no more than a pious propensity to believe in propositions which there was no reason to think true”. Through 250 pages closely – and sometimes toughly – argued, he moves to his conclusion:
“On the whole…I think I can subscribe to the testimony of the innumerable people who have tried to practise Christianity – the thing does, at least sometimes, work.”
Now there is no more argument. He may know the answer. All he learned on earth is ended, and all his skill. Memories will grow dim : they always do. The time comes when even the most sensitive human ear can no longer recapture the tones and colour of an unheard voice; and though there are doubtless many records of Dr. Joad’s sometimes almost squeaking lisp, and his “It all depends what you mean by…”, they will not often be listened to now.
But his writings remain, high in the long line of English prose, lucid, musical; witness to a hatred of violence in an age of violence, and to the lifelong service of truth.
It is not perhaps foolish to imagine that service still unended and, not as an incantation of empty words but as a confident prayer of amnesty in a well-fought field, to ask :
“Rest eternal grant unto him, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him” (“Lux perpetua luceat eum” – See Note above)


‘The Story of Civilization’ by C.E.M. Joad – A Sweet Short Profound Book

‘The Story of Civilization’ by C.E.M. Joad – A Sweet Short Profound Book

“… being civilized mean[s] making and liking beautiful things, thinking freely, and living rightly and maintaining justice equally between man and man. Man has a better chance today to do these things than he ever had before.”

CEM Joad’s The Story of Civilization is one of the best examples of the cliche that awesome things come in small packages. All of 94 pages in big font, it packs in some profound philosophy in palatable, often delicious, lines. I read it as a child when my guru, my English teacher, lent it to me (he used to say I bought this book only for two rupees from a roadside book vendor). The book and its take on what it means to be ‘civilized’ have stayed with me ever since. If you want to introduce a child or a young mind to philosophy and good ideas, this is the go-to book. In fact the book’s intended primary audience, when it was first published, was kids.

The Story of Civilization was written in 1931. Author Cyril Edwin Mitchinson Joad was one of Britain’s most colorful and controversial intellectual figures of the 1940s. It is very difficult to find this book or references to it these days: I was surprised to see that even goodreads‘s page on CEM Joad does not mention it. The oblivion that the book currently is in prompted me to write this post. While a lot of what Joad wrote is out-dated information, the beauty of some of his ideas is eternal.

Joad begins his discourse on civilization with a chapter titled ‘A Talk’, in which he describes a wonderful conversation with Lucy (probably his daughter). Below are screenshots of the first two pages of the book:

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 3.52.58 pm  Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 3.53.15 pm

The remaining post contains select lines and passages from the book, chapterwise. (I have italicized my personal favorites. I urge readers to remember, at all times, that all of this was written some 90 years back.)


Most of the people who appear most often and most gloriously in the history books are great conquerors and generals and soldiers, whereas the people who really helped civilization forward are often never mentioned at all. We do not know who first set a broken leg, or launched a seaworthy boat, or calculated the length of the year, or manured a field; but we know all about the killers and destroyers.

And I think most people believe that the greatest countries are those that have beaten in battle the greatest number of other countries and ruled over them as conquerors. It is just possible they are, but they are not the most civilized. Fighting means killing, and civilized peoples ought to be able to find some way of settling their disputes other than by seeing which side can kill off the greater number of the other side, and then saying that that side which has killed most has won. And not only has won, but, because it has won, has been in the right.

Chapter 1 – The Great Religious Teachers:

The earliest civilizations of which I shall write are those of India and China… In the sixth century before Christ there arose in India and China three great teachers who tried to make men understand that it was important to do what was right for its own sake, quite apart from whether there was a God or not… The teachings of Buddha, Lao-Tse and Confucius are known in China as the Three Teachings.

He is the only king I shall mention in this book, and his name is Asoka (264-227 B.C.)… Unlike other conquerors in history, he seems to have realized the suffering that war involved… He did much to make India prosperous by digging wells, planting trees, founding hospitals, and educating his people. He even tried to educate women, which was an unheard-of thing in those days.

Chapter 2 – Greece and the Making of Beautiful Things:

From time to time in the history of the world a small section of the human race has gone up like a rocket, and, breaking out like a shower of sparks, lit up everybody and everything around it. Of all these soarings of the human spirit the uprising of the fifth century (B.C.) Greeks was the most startling.

Socrates used to go to the market place and ask people inconvenient questions, the sort that children sometimes ask grown-up people, and which always annoy grown-up people when they find that they don’t know the answers, although they thought they did. Socrates annoyed the Athenians so much that they accused him of harming young men’s minds and had him poisoned.

[Joad proceeds to talk about the ancient Greeks being doctors, historians, scientists and philosophers, and also talks about Dutch and Italian painters, and German musicians. I omit chapter 3.]

Chapter 4 – How Science Has Changed Our Lives:

Human beings today know more than they did two hundred years ago.. and they are not so much afraid of things. This last point is important. Through most of history men have been terribly afraid.. not only of wars and pestilences and famines, but also of unreal things, of the wrath of angry gods, of curses, of the Evil Eye… We call this fear of unreal things superstitious fear, and one of the things science has done is largely to free men of superstitious fears.

The discovery of anaesthetics does not sound particularly important, but it is probable that no single discovery of science has done more to increase people’s happiness.

Chapter 5 – The Spreading of Knowledge:

Once printing was discovered, it did not matter how soon you died or how many copies of what you had written were eaten by mice, for, so long as one copy remained, the idea could be made to last for just so long as people could go on printing it.

Books are the chief carriers of civilization; because of them ideas live and spread.

(The following discourse on tolerance assumes enormous importance in today’s highly fractious times.)

A tolerant person is one who does not interfere with other people, even if he thinks they are wrong, but is prepared to let them think what they like and say what they think. If he thinks they are wrong, he may try to persuade [italics from the original] them to believe differently, but he will not force them… Intolerance has been particularly common in religious matters.

This is how he further beautifully elaborates tolerance:

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 8.10.31 pm   Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 8.12.03 pm

Chapter 6 – The Sharing of Money:

An economically just society would be one where everybody who is prepared to work is certain of getting a reasonable amount of money… In spite of revolutions the advance in economic justice has been very small… We cannot have an all-round civilization while the rewards which people get for their work are so unequal.

Thus the good things that science has brought into this world have not been distributed equally, a fair share to everybody… And much of the money has just been wasted; for example, on wars, and on guns and battleships and tanks for fighting wars.

One thing is fairly certain, and that is that there cannot be any good and lasting civilization in the world until whatever wealth there is, is more fairly divided than it is at present.

Chapter 7 – Our Own Civilization:

Science has given us powers fit for the gods, yet we use them like small children… Machines were made to be man’s servants; yet he has become so dependent on them that they are in a fair way to become his masters.

And this brings me to the point at which I asked, “What we do with all the time which the machines have saved for us, and the new energy they have given us ?” On the whole, it must be admitted, we do very little. For the most part we use our time and energy to make more and better machines; but more and better machines will only give us still more time and still more energy, and what are we to do with them? The answer, I think, is that we should try to become mere civilized. For the machines themselves, and the power which the machines have given us, are not civilization but aids to civilization.

TS Eliot, CEM Joad’s fellow communicant at Stedham, accepted the commission to write a play – “Murder In The Cathedral” – for the Canterbury Festival in June 1935, at the request of George Bell, Bishop of Chichester.

In September 1944, Bishop Bell convened a Conference on the Church and the Artist. Attendees included Duncan Grant, TS Eliot, Hans Feibusch, Edward Maufe and Dorothy Sayers.

The Bishop confronted his Dean in November 1947 when the latter sold 120 rare books from the Cathedral Library to Christie’s without telling him:

“The Dean, Duncan-Jones, was apparently impenitent, affirming that the books were the property of the Dean and Chapter and nothing to do with the Bishop. Bell thereupon took legal advice and, though the sale of 120 books went ahead, he was able to arrange for the withdrawal [from Christie’s] of 10 volumes” ~ Source: “Chichester Cathedral – An Historical Survey” – Editor Mary Hobbs (Phillimore 1994)


Tourist Information Centre
Take a trip back in time in the old red telephone box that now serves as a tourist information point at North Stoke.

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