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Scotch Urchins

Denton Fox, 22 May 1986

Alexander Montgomerie 
by R.D.S. Jack.
Scottish Academic Press, 140 pp., £4.50, June 1985, 0 7073 0367 2
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Letters of King James VI and I 
edited by G.P.V. Akrigg.
California, 546 pp., £32.75, November 1984, 0 520 04707 9
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The Concise Scots Dictionary 
by Mairi Robinson.
Aberdeen University Press, 819 pp., £17.50, August 1985, 0 08 028491 4
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... scholar would undertake such an edition. Nor is there any consensus on the quality of his poems; James VI, in his youth, termed him ‘maister poete’ and ‘prince of poets’, and some modern critics adopt these terms with enthusiasm – indeed, Helena Shire calls him an ‘arch-poet’. (I suppose that if one has to use a periphrasis, ‘the maister ...

At the National Portrait Gallery

Rosemary Hill: ‘The Lost Prince’, 6 December 2012

... not, it is sometimes suggested, have taken place at all. In the case of Prince Henry, the son of James I who died in 1612 at the age of 18, romantic counterfactual possibilities began to gather round his memory almost at once. Those who found King James unsatisfactory for his reluctance to enter the Thirty ...

Smuggled in a Warming Pan

Stephen Sedley: The Glorious Revolution, 24 September 2015

The Glorious Revolution and the Continuity of Law 
by Richard Kay.
Catholic University of America, 277 pp., £45, December 2014, 978 0 8132 2687 3
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... When Charles II died in 1685 without legitimate offspring, the throne passed to his brother James, Duke of York, who had been brought up in exile in France as a Catholic and who now began publicly attending mass. Within a few months the Duke of Monmouth’s abortive rebellion and Baron Jeffreys’s judicial revenge, the Bloody Assizes, spread fear that ...

Under the Soles of His Feet

Stephen Alford: Henry’s Wars, 4 April 2019

The English People at War in the Age of Henry VIII 
by Steven Gunn.
Oxford, 297 pp., £35, January 2018, 978 0 19 880286 0
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... In the​ First Book of Kings (5:1-5) Hiram, King of Tyre, sends servants to Solomon, ‘for he had heard, that they had anointed him king in the room of his father,’ David: For Hiram was ever a lover of David. And Solomon sent to Hiram, saying: thou knowest how that David my father could not build an house unto the name of the Lord his God, for the wars which were about him on every side, until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet ...

King Cling

Julian Bell: Kings and Collectors, 5 April 2018

Charles I: King and Collector 
Royal Academy, London, until 15 April 2018Show More
Charles II: Art and Power 
Queen’s Gallery/London, until 13 May 2018Show More
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... Perched​ on one platform, King Charles I; perched on another, the Dutch painter Daniel Mytens; lowered in between them, a canvas some two feet taller than the king, who was reportedly of small stature. If, as an inscription on the finished portrait insists, the likeness was painted ad vivum, then this might have been the way to do it ...

Newton reinvents himself

Jonathan Rée, 20 January 2011

Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World’s Greatest Scientist 
by Thomas Levenson.
Faber, 318 pp., £9.99, August 2010, 978 0 571 22993 2
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... plotter was a scion of the royal house of Orange-Nassau and nephew and son-in-law to the British king, but he had none of the poise and magnificence that were supposed to go with a royal pedigree. William, Prince of Orange was a mousy, middle-aged sociophobe, famous for combining blatant adultery and sanctimonious piety, and loved by no one ...

Burlington Bertie

Julian Symons, 14 June 1990

The Last Modern: A Life of Herbert Read 
by James King.
Weidenfeld, 364 pp., £25, May 1990, 0 297 81042 1
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... even a dead Enemy might bite back.) Still more complex was his relationship with Eliot. Professor King suggests that Eliot was for Read a father figure ‘whom he could emulate, rebel against and, at times, loathe’, and that seems about right. Eliot published Read’s poems, his essays, and some of his books about art, but at times was sharply critical of ...

A prince, too, can do his bit

K.D. Reynolds: King Edward VII and George VI, 27 April 2000

Power and Place: The Political Consequences of King Edward VII 
by Simon Heffer.
Weidenfeld, 342 pp., £20, August 1998, 9780297842200
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A Spirit Undaunted: The Political Role of George VI 
by Robert Rhodes James.
Little, Brown, 368 pp., £22.50, November 1998, 0 316 64765 9
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... despots and tyrants all); Victorians tended to view George III as the first constitutional king (disagreement from across the Atlantic notwithstanding): his reign and especially his insanity and confinement were seen as marking a shift of political power towards Parliament. Commentators in the early 20th century took Victoria to be the first ...

Queen to King Four

Robert Taubman, 19 June 1980

The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five 
by Doris Lessing.
Cape, 245 pp., £5.95, May 1980, 9780224017909
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No Country For Young Men 
by Julia O’Faolain.
Allen Lane, 368 pp., £5.95, May 1980, 0 7139 1308 8
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The Girl Green as Elderflower 
by Randolph Stow.
Secker, 150 pp., £5.50, May 1980, 9780436497315
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The Sending 
by Geoffrey Household.
Joseph, 192 pp., £5.95, March 1980, 0 7181 1872 3
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... day, the fable goes, it occurs to the Providers, who control their destinies, to arrange for the King of militaristic Zone Four to marry the Queen of gentle, intuitive Zone Three, and then in due course to marry the wild, anarchic Queen of Zone Five. These moves carry the suggestion of a game of chess, and they don’t indeed have any very subtle or original ...

The Bells of Saint Babel’s

Allen Curnow, 10 June 1999

... Kermadec reef cries to the sun, Me! Me! This day dawns first on me, you won’t find that in your King James nor Maori story of a half-god’s trap for the sun, that sun ...           which one? Which thousand years? 5. Next time you look, he will have stepped out of the shade the West Front casts into a sun-stuffed ambulatory called Cathedral ...

Time to Mount Spain

Colin Burrow: Prince Charles’s Spanish Adventure, 2 September 2004

The Prince and the Infanta: The Cultural Politics of the Spanish Match 
by Glyn Redworth.
Yale, 200 pp., £25, November 2003, 0 300 10198 8
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... called themselves John and Thomas Smith. Their mission was to win the hand of the sister of the king of Spain, the Infanta María. The courtly duo were not well suited to a life in mufti. The only coins they carried were of a suspiciously large denomination. A ferryman to whom they gave a silver 20-shilling piece decided they must be noblemen who were going ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Not by Henry James, 23 September 2004

... the maiden’s cheek, and fell upon the faded chintz. You guessed it. Who could it be but Henry James? There would be no shame in your not recognising this as James’s work, however: it has languished in peaceful obscurity for more than 140 years, only now to have its authorship revealed by Floyd Horowitz, recently ...

Great Palladium

James Epstein: Treason, 7 September 2000

Imagining the King’s Death: Figurative Treason, Fantasies of Regicide, 1793-96 
by John Barrell.
Oxford, 7377 pp., £70, March 2000, 0 19 811292 0
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... of treasons drawn up in 1351, it was an offence to ‘compass or imagine the death of our lord the king’. The meaning of these strange words was already archaic in the early 1790s when William Pitt’s Government brought an array of British radical reformers to trial for high treason. The words ‘compass’ and ‘imagine’ had entered the English language ...

Do hens have hands?

Adam Smyth: Editorial Interference, 5 July 2012

The Culture of Correction in Renaissance Europe (Panizzi Lectures) 
by Anthony Grafton.
British Library, 144 pp., £30, September 2011, 978 0 7123 5845 3
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... When the King’s printer Robert Barker produced a new edition of the King James Bible in 1631, he overlooked three letters from the seventh commandment, producing the startling injunction: ‘Thou shalt commit adultery.’ Barker was fined £300, and spent the rest of his life in debtors’ prison, even while his name remained on imprints ...

Raven George

James Brookes, 24 May 2018

... The Tower from Within claims the Earl of Dunraven believed his ravens were all the avatars of King Brân the Blessed by which he kept watch over every cantref of Britain. So it was with George. And when he tore the aerials from the Tower Hamlets rooftops he knew his exile irrevocable only as Arthur’s rest in Avalon rex quondam rexque futurus his time ...

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