Scribbling Rascal

Leslie Mitchell

  • John Wilkes by Peter D.G. Thomas
    Oxford, 280 pp, £25.00, March 1996, ISBN 0 19 820544 9

With a lamentable record in actually winning power, English Radicals have been content to comment on, be rude about and occasionally constrain those in office. To be tolerated by a conservative majority, a Radical should be as patriotic as any right-wing xenophobe, so disreputable in private life and judgment that the country would have no qualms about denying him office, and so good-hearted that the rumour could get about that Radicalism was really nothing more than a misplaced desire to tease. John Wilkes met all these criteria, and was therefore much loved.

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