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The Sanity of George III

Theodore Draper, 9 February 1995

Paul Revere’s Ride 
by David Hackett Fischer.
Oxford, 445 pp., £17.99, September 1994, 0 19 508847 6
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... tanner, were originally sent to warn two of the Revolutionary leaders, John Hancock and Samuel Adams, who were staying at a parsonage in Lexington, that a British force was on its way to arrest them. Both Revere and Dawes successfully completed this part of their mission, which was based on misinformation: the British had been sent to confiscate the ...

Marching Orders

Ronan Bennett: The new future of Northern Ireland, 30 July 1998

... World War, the volatile and charismatic lawyer Edward Carson, together with his energetic deputy James Craig, mobilised Ulster Protestants of all classes to resist Home Rule. Carson, who had served as solicitor-general in Lord Salisbury’s Administration, colluded in the illegal shipment of 25,000 rifles and three million rounds of ammunition from Germany ...

The Party and the Army

Ronan Bennett, 21 March 1996

... constitutional party or continue as a front for the IRA. Ignoring renewed protestations from Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness that Sinn Fein is separate from the IRA, that it is a political party with a democratic mandate from its voters, most politicians and observers have, like Major himself, accepted almost without question the Unionist formulation: Sinn ...

Miserable Creatures

C.H. Sisson, 2 August 1984

The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy. Vol. IV: 1909-1913 
edited by Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 337 pp., £21, March 1984, 0 19 812621 2
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The Letters and Prose Writings of William Cowper. Vol. IV: 1792-1799 
edited by James King and Charles Ryskamp.
Oxford, 498 pp., £48, March 1984, 0 19 812681 6
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The Land and Literature of England: A Historical Account 
by Robert M. Adams.
Norton, 555 pp., £21, March 1984, 0 393 01704 4
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The Complete Poetical Works of Thomas Hardy. Vol. II 
edited by Samuel Hynes.
Oxford, 543 pp., £35, June 1984, 0 19 812783 9
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... about how to read books than about how to understand his friends. The Foreword to Robert M. Adams’s The Land and Literature of England gives some indication that this merely humane view of literature is now felt to be under threat. His bland intention is ‘to set forth the outlines of English history so that they may serve as background for the study ...

Diary

David Bromwich: President-Speak, 10 April 2008

... and a few celebrated statements about the duties and limitations of democracy by John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. Adams’s 1821 Independence Day address to the House of Representatives was delivered while he was secretary of state in the administration of ...

The Corrupt Bargain

Eric Foner: Democracy? No thanks, 21 May 2020

Why Do We Still Have the Electoral College? 
by Alexander Keyssar.
Harvard, 544 pp., £28.95, May, 978 0 674 66015 1
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Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College 
by Jesse Wegman.
St Martin’s Press, 304 pp., $24.50, March, 978 1 250 22197 1
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... in check and prevent a demagogue, perhaps beholden to a foreign government, rising to power. James Madison had a more self-interested objection to popular election. The political power of the South, where slaves made up 40 per cent or more of the population, had hugely increased, thanks to a clause adding three-fifths of the slave population to the ...

Damnable Deficient

Colin Kidd: The American Revolution, 17 November 2005

1776: America and Britain at War 
by David McCullough.
Allen Lane, 386 pp., £25, June 2005, 0 7139 9863 6
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... especially on the right – appear to regard Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and John Adams as the American equivalents of Plato, Aristotle, Cato and Brutus, while the wider culture acknowledges the near-superhuman qualities of the men of 1776. The founders in their periwigs, breeches and ...

Dangerously Amiable

Nathan Perl-Rosenthal: Lafayette Reconsidered, 16 February 2017

The Marquis: Lafayette Reconsidered 
by Laura Auricchio.
Vintage, 432 pp., £11.99, August 2015, 978 0 307 38745 5
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... were doubts about how to square his aristocratic pedigree with his republican principles. Abigail Adams warned her friends to beware of building a republican government that relied too much on ‘military characters’ such as the marquis. Domestic politics soon forced Lafayette’s attention away from the US. By the mid-1780s, the French government was ...

Adored Gazelle

Ferdinand Mount: Cherubino at Number Ten, 20 March 2008

Balfour: The Last Grandee 
by R.J.Q. Adams.
Murray, 479 pp., £30, November 2007, 978 0 7195 5424 7
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... Five years later, Rosebery bitterly opposed Balfour’s OM. It is perhaps over the top for R.J.Q. Adams to subtitle his Life of Balfour, ‘The Last Grandee’, with Rosebery lurking up the Firth of Forth getting steadily fatter and redder in the face, while Balfour remained lithe and bonny on his 36 holes a day. But ...

Diary

Stephen Smith: Encounters at Holy Cross, 18 November 1993

... the blur of his mufti. ‘Are you filming?’ he said. ‘Filming what?’ said the cameraman, James Nicholas. The priest said: ‘Please don’t show this family.’ James reached along the stock of the camera and flicked a switch. Trimming what you film has become second nature in the province. Camera crews do not ...

The Last War of Religion

David Armitage, 9 June 1994

The Language of Liberty, 1660-1832: Political Discourse and Social Dynamics in the Anglo-American World 
by J.C.D. Clark.
Cambridge, 404 pp., £35, October 1993, 0 521 44510 8
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The Debate on the Constitution: Federalist and Anti-Federalist Speeches, Articles and Letters During the Struggle over Ratification. Vol. I 
edited by Bernard Bailyn.
Library of America, 1214 pp., $35, July 1993, 0 940450 42 9
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... notably Britain, the American Revolution may still be unfinished. Looking back in 1818, John Adams asked a fundamental question: ‘But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the hearts and minds of the people; a change in their religious ...

No Accident

Zachary Leader: Gore Vidal’s Golden Age, 21 June 2001

The Golden Age: A Novel 
by Gore Vidal.
Little, Brown, 467 pp., £17.99, October 2000, 0 316 85409 3
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... father, wrongly, claims his great-granddaddy was). In the unrevised version, an elderly Senator, James Burden Day, a recurring character, is surprised to discover himself still capable of arousal: ‘at a time when he thought himself altogether free of the demands of the flesh, he had become like a boy again, or almost.’ In the rewritten version, ‘it ...

‘I thirst for his blood’

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Henry James, 25 November 1999

Henry JamesA Life in Letters 
edited by Philip Horne.
Penguin, 668 pp., £25, June 1999, 0 7139 9126 7
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A Private Life of Henry JamesTwo Women and His Art 
by Lyndall Gordon.
Chatto, 500 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 7011 6166 3
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... Henry James was a generous correspondent in more senses than one, but his fellow writers may have found some of the Master’s letters rather exasperating. ‘I read your current novel with pleasure,’ he wrote to William Dean Howells in 1880, ‘but I don’t think the subject fruitful, & I suspect that much of the public will agree with me ...

They never married

Ian Hamilton, 10 May 1990

The Dictionary of National Biography: 1981-1985 
edited by Lord Blake and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 518 pp., £40, March 1990, 0 19 865210 0
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... to have gone off the rails. In the present volume, however, it is hard to believe that John Bodkin Adams would have won a slot as a medical practitioner. Indeed, the Adams entry is something of a puzzle. He was acquitted of the murders he is famous for having been accused of, but his DNB biographer evidently believes that he ...

Tony, Ray and the Duchess

Alan Bell, 21 May 1981

A Lonely Business: A Self-Portrait of James Pope-Hennessy 
edited by Peter Quennell.
Weidenfeld, 278 pp., £12.50, April 1981, 0 297 77918 4
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... James Pope-Hennessy, who was murdered in 1974 when he was 58, will be remembered for several of his books, among them London Fabric, an architectural study made in the nick of time in 1939, a young man’s book which has worn well; the two volumes of his life of Monckton Milnes, Lord Houghton; Verandah of 1964, with its autobiographical element added to family and colonial history; and the excellent Queen Mary (1959), an unusually sympathetic study ...

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