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Smuggled in a Warming Pan

Stephen Sedley: The Glorious Revolution

23 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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... to a revolution in its modern sense – an oversetting of the political and legal order. The epithet ‘Glorious’ is not a later historian’s conceit. It appears to have been coined by the Whig MP John Hampden, grandson of the hero of resistance to Charles I’s ship money, in testimony to a committee of the House of Lords in the autumn of 1689. Hampden was exulting that, in contrast to the ...

Secret-Keeping

Rosemarie Bodenheimer: Elizabeth Gaskell

16 August 2007
The Works of Elizabeth Gaskell 
edited by Joanne Shattock et al.
Pickering & Chatto, 4716 pp., £900, May 2006, 9781851967773
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... apprentice becomes infatuated with his daughter that he remarries, bringing unhappiness to himself and Molly. Mrs Thornton in North and South is aggressively jealous of her son’s love for Margaret Hale, while Margaret lovingly serves her father, and is deeply offended by any indication that she is considered as a romantic object. In Ruth, Jemima Bradshaw fights off her incipient love for her father ...

Wolfish

John​ Sutherland: The pushiness of young men in a hurry

5 May 2005
Publisher 
by Tom Maschler.
Picador, 294 pp., £20, March 2005, 0 330 48420 6
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British Book Publishing as a Business since the 1960s 
by Eric de Bellaigue.
British Library, 238 pp., £19.95, January 2004, 0 7123 4836 0
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Penguin Special: The Life and Times of Allen Lane 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Viking, 484 pp., £25, May 2005, 0 670 91485 1
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... quality of Publisher – a book which seems to have been dictated down one of these phones – Maschler’s achievements as a general trade publisher rank him with Archibald Constable, George Smith, John Blackwood, George Routledge, Frederick Macmillan, David Garnett, Ian Parsons, Allen Lane. It was one of the most highly regarded of today’s younger publishers, Peter Straus (now an agent), who ...

Urban Messthetics

John​ Mullan: Black and Asian writers in London

18 November 2004
London Calling: How Black and Asian Writers Imagined a City 
by Sukhdev Sandhu.
Harper Perennial, 498 pp., £9.99, November 2004, 0 00 653214 4
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... life in the city is again described rather little. There are flashes of the place. Sancho is outraged by the sight of potato-sellers whipping their asses in the street; he visits the theatre to see John Henderson play Falstaff; he takes his family down the Thames to Vauxhall Gardens. He also studies the newspapers, intrigued most of all by the doings of high society. His outraged account of the ...

All that matters is what Tony wants

John​ Vincent: Reforming the Lords

16 March 2000
Reforming the House of Lords: Lessons from Overseas 
by Meg Russell.
Oxford, 368 pp., £18.99, January 2000, 0 19 829831 5
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... amendments, hot from the minister’s office. The real revising chamber is the Civil Service, which uses the Upper House as a clerk might use Tippex. The ‘sober second thought’ which Sir John Macdonald, the first Canadian premier (and a notable inebriate) attributed to senates is largely the stuff of legend. To see what lessons may be learned from abroad, Meg Russell has examined seven ...

A Lot of Travail

Michael Wood: T.S. Eliot’s Letters

3 December 2009
The Letters of T.S. Eliot, Vol. II: 1923-25 
edited by Valerie Eliot and Hugh Haughton.
Faber, 878 pp., £35, November 2009, 978 0 571 14081 7
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... Perhaps. Eliot’s poetry, all the way through to the last of the Four Quartets, suggests strongly that orthodoxy calls most persuasively to those who know, as Christ told the woman of Samaria in John 4.10, that there is no living water in this life. Eliot could state this perception without complaint, and even joke about it in his sober way. He tells his brother about ‘the kink in my brain ...

Zounds

Frank Kermode: Blasphemy

14 January 2002
Blasphemy: Impious Speech in the West from the 17th to the 19th Century 
by Alain Cabantous, translated by Eric Rauth.
Columbia, 288 pp., £21.50, February 2002, 0 231 11876 7
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... Blasphemy, from which the author courteously distances himself. Levy is mostly concerned with the history of the offence in England and America, a history in which that judgment of Lord Chief Justice Hale in 1676, later disputed by Jefferson, figures rather largely. Incidentally, the American record is a good deal less repressive and cruel than the English or the French. Levy remarks that the Supreme ...
23 July 1992
Haunts of the Black Masseur: The Swimmer as Hero 
by Charles Sprawson.
Cape, 307 pp., £15.99, June 1992, 0 224 02730 1
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... because the tide was so rapid and strong. He found it easier to swim all the way from the Lido to Venice and up the Grand Canal to his palazzo; and took pride in the fact that he was then still quite hale enough to eat a ‘piece’ and retire to bed with Boccacio and ‘a black-eyed Venetian girl’. On that occasion he had been competing in the swim with a bachelor friend, Alexander Scott, and the ...

The Vicar of Chippenham

Christopher Haigh: Religion and the life-cycle

15 October 1998
Birth, Marriage and Death: Ritual, Religion and the Life-Cycle in Tudor and Stuart England 
by David Cressy.
Oxford, 641 pp., £25, May 1998, 0 19 820168 0
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... rather than statistics. Despite Coverdale, Gouge and the Admonition, a wedding was not only a religious ceremony, but the culmination of weeks or months of courtship, gift-giving and negotiation. John Hayne of Exeter pursued Susan Henley with godly vigour in 1634: his presents included Arthur Hildersham’s Lectures upon the Fourth of John, a Bible and two books of sermons, as well as ribbons ...

Sitting it out

Paul Sieghart

2 August 1984
Two men were aquitted 
by Percy Hoskins.
Secker, 221 pp., £9.95, May 1984, 0 436 20161 5
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... The trial of Dr John Bodkin Adams at the Old Bailey in 1957 was one of the causes célèbres of the post-war years. Apart from sex, it had everything. Adams was a fashionable Eastbourne doctor. Portly. With a chauffeur ...

A Toast at the Trocadero

Terry Eagleton: D.J. Taylor

18 February 2016
The Prose Factory: Literary Life in England since 1918 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 501 pp., £25, January 2016, 978 0 7011 8613 5
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... a typical English puritan, in the usual lazy caricature of the sour-faced, high-minded left. He is easily irritated by talk of class conflict, and is not exactly in congratulatory mood when he calls John Carey the most class-conscious critic of the modern age. (The literary hackles raised by Carey’s recent memoir, The Unexpected Professor, which puts the petty-bourgeois boot into patrician dons ...

Like Unruly Children in a Citizenship Class

John​ Barrell: A hero for Howard

21 April 2005
The Laughter of Triumph: William Hone and the Fight for a Free Press 
by Ben Wilson.
Faber, 455 pp., £16.99, April 2005, 0 571 22470 9
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... of the Black Dwarf, and Hone himself, now the editor of a new periodical, the Reformists’ Register. Hone had also just written and published three parodies of the Book of Common Prayer: The Late John Wilkes’s Catechism of a Ministerial Member, The Political Litany and The Sinecurists’ Creed, which satirised the venality of Tory MPs willing to say, vote for and even believe whatever their ...

Bus Lane Strategy

Tristram Hunt: London Governments

31 October 2002
Governing London 
by Ben Pimlott and Nirmala Rao.
Oxford, 208 pp., £15.99, May 2002, 0 19 924492 8
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... decisions. In Gaskell’s North and South, it’s only when the spectre of centralisation is raised that the sturdily ineloquent mill-owner Mr Thornton can rise to the rhetorical level of Margaret Hale: I belong to Teutonic blood; it is little mingled in this part of England to what it is in others; we retain much of their language; we retain more of their spirit . . . We hate to have laws made ...

Blame Robert Maxwell

Frederick Wilmot-Smith: How Public Inquiries Go Wrong

17 March 2016
... interest, from the Aberfan disaster to the death of David Kelly, Profumo to tabloid phone hacking. On 15 June 2009, Gordon Brown announced an inquiry into the Iraq war – to investigate, as Sir John Chilcot, the inquiry’s chairman, put it, ‘the UK’s involvement in Iraq, including the way decisions were made and actions taken, to establish, as accurately as possible, what happened and to ...

Colonel Cundum’s Domain

Clare Bucknell: Nose, no nose

18 July 2019
Itch, Clap, Pox: Venereal Disease in the 18th-Century Imagination 
by Noelle Gallagher.
Yale, 288 pp., £55, March, 978 0 300 21705 6
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... in his essay ‘A Modest Defence of Publick Stews’ (1724) that ‘Whoring’ was ‘now-a-days mistaken for Gallantry and Politeness’ and any resulting disease considered a badge of honour. ‘A hale, robust Constitution is esteem’d a Mark of Ungentility; and a healthy young Fellow is look’d upon with the same View, as if he had spent his Life in a Cottage.’ Young men on the Grand Tour ...

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