Advert for the London Pavilion 2527
Medium: Print on paper
On its opening in February 1861, the London Pavilion styled itself the first 'Music Hall De Luxe’ in the West End.
It was here that variety legend GH MacDermott first sang his inflammatory song 'We Don't Want to Fight'. Premiered in 1878, when the British Government had sent a flotilla of ships into Turkish waters as a buffer against an aggressive Russia, the song caused a storm of both support and dissent. The chorus ran: "We don't want to fight/ But, by Jingo! if we do/ We've got the ships/ We've got the men/ And we've got the money too." MacDermott is thus credited with introducing the term 'jingoism' into the English language: meaning a bellicose attitude to foreign powers.
The song owed a good deal of its success to the times. Written from the point of view of an average man in the street, it reflected the terrible toll taken on Britain by the still-recent Crimean War, but also an overriding sense of duty to world safety and to British interests abroad.
The tremendous success of 'We Don't Want to Fight' would ultimately backfire on MacDermott. Fewer music hall managers would employ him because of his reputation as a firebrand. He moved gradually into variety management.