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Snobs v. Herbivores

Colin Kidd: Non-Vanilla One-Nation Conservatism, 7 May 2020

Remaking One Nation: The Future of Conservatism 
by Nick Timothy.
Polity, 275 pp., £20, March 2020, 978 1 5095 3917 8
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... pomp he sported a luxuriant beard, which made him look like another late 19th-century Tory, Lord Salisbury: jarringly and unsettlingly so, since Salisbury was Chamberlain’s rival and the proponent of an antithetical strain of conservatism, pessimistic, illiberal and anti-democratic. Now clean-shaven, Timothy is no longer ...

Godmother of the Salmon

John Bayley, 9 July 1992

‘Rain-Charm for the Duchy’ and other Laureate Poems 
by Ted Hughes.
Faber, 64 pp., £12.99, June 1992, 0 571 16605 9
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... follow. Even Day-Lewis was not wholly exempt from it when he received the laurels. His predecessor John Masefield had his merits, but writing good verse for occasions was not one of them. Indeed there is an interesting resemblance between the ghastly good taste of the modern tombstone – in chaste Cotswold or slate with a brief restrained inscription – and ...

Pareto and Elitism

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 3 July 1980

The Other Pareto 
edited by Placido Bucolo.
Scolar, 308 pp., £15, April 1980, 0 85967 516 5
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by G. Lowell Field and John Higley.
Routledge, 135 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 7100 0487 7
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Elites in Australia 
by John Higley and Don Smart.
Routledge, 317 pp., £9.50, July 1979, 9780710002228
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... Gladstone had been an Italian,’ he later remarked, ‘he certainly would only have opposed Salisbury for a couple of years. He would then have reached a compromise. England would have been governed by a Gladstone-Salisbury cabinet which would have been useful to many petty politicians but would certainly have ...

Scribblers and Assassins

Charles Nicholl: The Crimes of Thomas Drury, 31 October 2002

... with some interesting annotations. These annotations, I can now reveal, are in the hand of Sir John Puckering, the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal. This is a new fact, though not a surprising one. Puckering took a particular interest in what we might today call ‘state security’, and together with another high-ranking court official and Privy ...

Cultivating Cultivation

John Mullan: English culture, 18 June 1998

The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the 18th Century 
by John Brewer.
HarperCollins, 448 pp., £19.99, January 1997, 0 00 255537 9
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... they were accessible to all who could pay the price of admission. One of the leading characters in John Brewer’s The Pleasure of the Imagination was a visitor to pleasure gardens. Anna Margaretta Larpent was a moderately prosperous lady living in London in the late 18th century, married to the state official responsible for vetting plays before they reached ...

Late Deceiver

Robert Blake, 17 September 1981

Anthony Eden 
by David Carlton.
Allen Lane, 528 pp., £20, August 1981, 0 7139 0829 7
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... the biographising of Anthony Eden is one of some interest. He offered the task to the late Sir John Wheeler-Bennett, author of many major books including a study of the Munich crisis and the official biography of George VI, who agreed on condition that he would not be expected to publish in Lord Avon’s lifetime. By a tragic irony of events Sir ...

Blood on the Block

Maurice Keen: Henry IV, 5 June 2008

The Fears of Henry IV: The Life of England’s Self-Made King 
by Ian Mortimer.
Vintage, 480 pp., £8.99, July 2008, 978 1 84413 529 5
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... coming from the good lord King Henry the Third’. On 13 October he was crowned king. The son of John of Gaunt, Edward III’s third son, Henry was certainly Richard’s nearest male heir in 1399; but the seven-year-old Edmund, Earl of March, grandson of Philippa, the daughter of Edward III’s second son, Lionel, had through the female line a senior claim ...

Evil Man

Simon Schaffer: Joseph Priestley, 21 May 1998

The Enlightenment of Joseph Priestley: A Study of His Life and Work from 1733 to 1773 
by Robert Schofield.
Pennsylvania State, 328 pp., £35.95, January 1998, 0 271 01662 0
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... Priestley?’ asked Dr Johnson rather sternly in the course of a chemistry lecture he attended in Salisbury. Joseph Priestley was the pre-eminent public intellectual of late 18th-century England. In theology and politics, chemistry and prophecy, this seemingly dour and absurdly productive Yorkshire visionary inspired intense admiration and loathing in roughly ...

Tea or Eucharist?

Anthony Howard, 3 December 1992

The Faber Book of Church and Clergy 
edited by A.N. Wilson.
Faber, 304 pp., £17.50, November 1992, 0 571 16204 5
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High and Mitred: A Study of Prime Ministers as Bishop-Makers 1837-1977 
by Bernard Palmer.
SPCK, 350 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 281 04594 1
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... conception of the modern church leader – until real life played an unfair trick and produced Dr John Spong, the ultra-trendy Bishop of Newark, USA, thereby making satire almost impossible. Only John Betjeman and Barbara Pym stood gallantly with their fingers in the dyke upholding a vision of the dear old ecclesia ...

Seventh Eighth Men Uncovered

Humphery Spender, 7 May 1981

... publicity to my brother Stephen in some sensationally farfetched connection with Guy Burgess, John Lehmann and other names they hoped to involve.) ‘Ah that rings a bell,’ and significant looks passed between uniformed men at desks and with telephones. Our identity was doubted until Tom Hopkinson (then editing Picture Post) and the Art Editor of the ...

Bertie pulls it off

John Campbell, 11 January 1990

King George VI 
by Sarah Bradford.
Weidenfeld, 506 pp., £18.95, October 1990, 0 297 79667 4
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... as particularly ‘cultivated’; it is a little naive to suggest that the fifth Marquess of Salisbury ‘could hardly be considered a politician’; and surely no one could describe Attlee’s clipped military moustache as ‘drooping’. These are small matters: but then it is a book, despite its broad dynastic themes, largely composed of small ...

70 Centimetres and Rising

John Whitfield: Plate tectonics, 3 February 2005

The Earth: An Intimate History 
by Richard Fortey.
Harper Perennial, 501 pp., £9.99, March 2005, 0 00 655137 8
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... of rocks, climate and soil. Ever since the builders of Stonehenge carted Welsh bluestone to Salisbury Plain, we have sought to defy the ground beneath our feet as much as accommodate or exploit it. Manhattan is a good place to build tall buildings, because the island is made of a hard rock called schist; but if you are willing to sink concrete-pile ...

A Solemn and Unsexual Man

Colin Burrow: Parson Wordsworth, 4 July 2019

Wordsworth and Coleridge: The Radical Years 
by Nicholas Roe.
Oxford, 352 pp., £25, November 2018, 978 0 19 881811 3
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Wordsworth’s Fun 
by Matthew Bevis.
Chicago, 264 pp., £22, September 2019, 978 0 226 65219 1
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... Abbey’ as a ‘post-revolutionary’ work. Roe argues the poem is haunted by the spirit of John Thelwall, the radical orator who was extremely popular in the 1790s and to whom Roe’s book is dedicated. In 1798 Thelwall was living a few miles away from Tintern Abbey, having retired from political engagement after the wave of arrests which followed the ...

Less than Perfectly Submissive

Susan Pedersen: No Votes, Thank You, 20 March 2008

Women against the Vote: Female Anti-Suffragism in Britain 
by Julia Bush.
Oxford, 340 pp., £35, October 2007, 978 0 19 924877 3
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... This at least was the view of Mrs Humphry Ward. Early in 1889, hearing that ‘that scoundrel Salisbury’ (as the positivist Frederic Harrison called him) was weighing the advantages of enfranchising a small slice of propertied (and presumably Conservative) women, Ward teamed up with her old friend Louise Creighton to respond. Their ‘Appeal against ...

What’s the big idea?

Jonathan Parry: The Origins of Our Decline, 30 November 2017

The Age of Decadence: Britain 1880 to 1914 
by Simon Heffer.
Random House, 912 pp., £30, September 2017, 978 1 84794 742 0
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... for their sartorial shortcomings: Lord Rosebery was rebuked for dressing like an American and Lord Salisbury for attending the queen wearing the trousers of an Elder Brother of Trinity House (Salisbury had to apologise: he had been preoccupied by ‘some subject of less importance’). The monarchy started to celebrate ...

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