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Was He One of Them?

J.G.A. Pocock, 23 February 1995

Edward Gibbon: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vols I-VI 
edited by David Womersley.
Allen Lane, 1114 pp., £75, November 1994, 0 7139 9124 0
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... as Tory. Gibbon quotes Burke to this effect, and it is interesting that he enjoyed the company of Charles Fox while disapproving of his politics. In rallying to the Hanoverian regime – and toying with a history of the House of Brunswick from its medieval beginnings – Gibbon was accepting that aristocratic yet commercial and modern society and ...

A Cheat, a Sharper and a Swindler

Brian Young: Warren Hastings, 24 May 2001

Dawning of the Raj: The Life and Trials of Warren Hastings 
by Jeremy Bernstein.
Aurum, 319 pp., £19.99, March 2001, 1 85410 753 4
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... become a patron of Oriental learning, overseeing important translations of works on Hindu law and Charles Wilkins’s pioneering translation of the Bhagavad-Gita. When Sir William Jones, the inspirational instigator of Indo-European studies, arrived in Bengal as a judge, Hastings was one of his strongest supporters. Though it has long been fashionable to ...

Irish Adventurers

Janet Adam Smith, 25 June 1992

The Grand Tours of Katherine Wilmot: France 1801-3 and Russia 1805-7 
edited by Elizabeth Mavor.
Weidenfeld, 187 pp., £17.99, February 1992, 0 297 81223 8
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... they met the painter David, an Englishman who had befriended Charlotte Corday at her trial, and Charles James Fox – ‘rather lourd and maladroit’. With the help of a young American, Margaret and Katherine visited Tom Paine, ‘up half a dozen flights of stairs, in a remote part of the town’, and found him making ...

At least that was the idea

Thomas Keymer: Johnson and Boswell’s Club, 10 October 2019

The Club: Johnson, Boswell and the Friends who Shaped an Age 
by Leo Damrosch.
Yale, 488 pp., £20, April 2019, 978 0 300 21790 2
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... The famous Turk’s Head was in Gerrard Street in Soho, a precinct first laid out under Charles II, popular with authors and artists from the start (Dryden moved to Gerrard Street in 1687 while still poet laureate), and by the mid-18th century thronged with coffee houses and taverns. A blue plaque commemorates Dryden, but on the wrong house. At ...

Prinney, Boney, Boot

Roy Porter, 20 March 1986

The English Satirical Print 1600-1832 
edited by Michael Duffy.
Chadwyck-Healey, February 1986
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... prints and gave Gillray his blooding. Thereafter cartoons went from strength to strength, guying Fox and Pitt, depicting in blood-curdling detail the Terror and the perils of the swinish multitude at home, and then, slightly later, exposing the debaucheries of Prinney and the enormities of Old Corruption – and all against the bugbear backdrop of Boney. If ...


Ian Gilmour, 1 August 1996

The Younger Pitt: The Consuming Struggle 
by John Ehrman.
Constable, 911 pp., £35, May 1996, 9780094755406
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... top. Entering the House of Commons at the age of 21, which was by law the minimum age, although Charles James Fox had earlier been ‘elected’ when 19, Pitt immediately made a profound impression with his maiden speech. Instead of being the usual over-rehearsed address bearing little relation to what had been said by ...

How They Brought the Good News

Colin Kidd: Britain’s Napoleonic Wars, 20 November 2014

In These Times: Living in Britain through Napoleon’s Wars, 1793-1815 
by Jenny Uglow.
Faber, 739 pp., £25, November 2014, 978 0 571 26952 5
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... by radicals. Although he belonged to a different branch of Whiggery from the more francophile Charles James Fox, Pitt too was a Whig. He never described himself as anything else, and had championed parliamentary reform during the 1780s. At Horne Tooke’s treason trial, the reformer claimed that he was only repeating ...

Darwin among the Gentry

Adrian Desmond, 23 May 1985

The Correspondence of Charles Darwin. Vol. I: 1821-1836 
edited by Frederick Burkhardt and Sydney Smith.
Cambridge, 702 pp., £30, March 1985, 0 521 25587 2
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The Survival of Charles Darwin: A Biography of a Man and an Idea 
by Ronald Clark.
Weidenfeld, 449 pp., £14.95, April 1985, 0 297 78377 7
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... in 1837-9 and devise a mechanistic theory of organic transmutation? The gentleman of course was Charles Darwin. And the magnitude of the problem is highlighted by the publication of the first volume of his meticulously-edited Correspondence. This eagerly-awaited collection of letters, copiously annotated and with a plethora of social detail, promises to ...

Tolerant Repression

Blair Worden, 10 May 1990

Thomas Starkey and the Commonweal 
by Tom Mayer.
Cambridge, 326 pp., £32.50, April 1989, 0 521 36104 4
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Politics and Literature in the Reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII 
by Alistair Fox.
Blackwell, 317 pp., £35, September 1989, 0 631 13566 9
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The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn: Family Portraits at the Court of Henry VIII 
by Retha Warnicke.
Cambridge, 326 pp., £14.95, November 1989, 0 521 37000 0
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English Travellers Abroad 1604-1667 
by John Stoye.
Yale, 448 pp., £12.95, January 1990, 0 300 04180 2
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... it is likely to gather strength from the important books in which Thomas Mayer and Alistair Fox examine the literature and politics of early Tudor England, especially of the reign of Henry VIII. Mayer’s concern is the literature of political theory. His study examines the ideas of Thomas Starkey, the friend of Cardinal Pole and adviser of Thomas ...

I met murder on the way

Colin Kidd: Castlereagh, 24 May 2012

Castlereagh: Enlightenment, War and Tyranny 
by John Bew.
Quercus, 722 pp., £25, September 2011, 978 0 85738 186 6
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... to rebut the Anglican smear that they were king killers, that Presbyterian disloyalty had brought Charles I to the block. On the other, Presbyterians – being solidly Whig – dissociated themselves from the divine right principles of non-resistance and passive obedience inculcated by High Church Anglican Tories. Some Presbyterians, including Castlereagh’s ...

The King and I

Alan Bennett, 30 January 1992

... historical characters got a tick if they were on the side of liberty (Cromwell, Chatham), a cross (Charles I, James II) if they held up the march of progress. Because he went in for active royalty and made some attempt to govern on his own account rather than leaving it to the Whig aristocracy, George III had been written up as a villain and a clumsy ...

The devil has two horns

J.G.A. Pocock, 24 February 1994

The Great Melody: A Thematic Biography and Commented Anthology of Edmund Burke 
by Conor Cruise O’Brien.
Minerva, 692 pp., £8.99, September 1993, 0 7493 9721 7
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... to accept them. These claims were kept up by Rockingham and Burke as long as the former lived, by Charles James Fox and Burke thereafter, and by Fox after his breach with Burke over the French Revolution. They always carried intimations of improper royal behaviour, and came to amount to ...
A Traitor’s Kiss: The Life of Richard Brinsley Sheridan 
by Fintan O’Toole.
Granta, 516 pp., £20, October 1997, 1 86207 026 1
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Richard Brinsley Sheridan: A Life 
by Linda Kelly.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 366 pp., £25, April 1997, 1 85619 207 5
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Sheridan’s Nightingale: The Story of Elizabeth Linley 
by Alan Chedzoy.
Allison and Busby, 322 pp., £15.99, April 1997, 0 7490 0264 6
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... between Richard and his father (as, in The School for Scandal, the balance between the wastrel Charles and the puritan Joseph echoes that between Richard and his brother). Naturally, ‘within the insistent artifice’ of The Rivals, Sheridan represents ‘almost everything that had happened to him in the previous two years’; while the marriage between ...

Period Pain

Patricia Beer, 9 June 1994

by Stella Tillyard.
Chatto, 462 pp., £20, April 1994, 0 7011 5933 2
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... Emily, Louisa and Sarah Lennox, daughters of the second Duke of Richmond, the grandson of Charles II and his mistress Louise de Kéroualle. The main story starts with the birth of Caroline in 1723 and ends with the death of Sarah in 1826. About these four sisters and every single thing connected with them, one comes to feel, Aristocrats is ...

Waiting to Watch the War

Charles Glass: A report from an observation post in Northern Iraq, 3 April 2003

... not that anything can protect them from American friendly fire. (CNN and Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Television seem to travel with private armies.) The press pack and television crews plan to enter Kirkuk, if its oil wells are not alight and spewing poisonous smoke, with the Kurds and ahead of the Americans. One PUK commander has, like Casanova, made ...

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