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A Regular Grey

Jonathan Parry, 3 December 2020

Statesman of Europe: a Life of Sir Edward Grey 
by T.G. Otte.
Allen Lane, 858 pp., £35, November, 978 0 241 41336 4
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... in office. For twenty years after 1846, Liberal government was kept on the road not just by Lord John Russell and Palmerston but by their two most reliable and businesslike cabinet supporters: Sir George Grey, Charles’s nephew, and Sir Charles Wood, Charles’s son-in-law. Commentators fond of political flamboyance considered both men dispensable, but ...

Misguided Tom

Eric Stokes, 5 March 1981

Letters of Thomas Arnold the Younger 1850-1900 
edited by James Bertram.
Auckland/Oxford, 276 pp., £15, August 1980, 0 19 647980 0
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... J.P. Gell was dispatched in 1839 to start up the interdenominational Christ’s College at Hobart; John Buckland followed in 1846 to be headmaster of the Hutchins School. In his uncertainties over employment Clough kept open the antipodean possibility, making an unsuccessful application for a chair of Classics at Sydney in 1851. J.A. Froude, after the ritual ...

Are you a Spenserian?

Colin Burrow: Philology, 6 November 2014

Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities 
by James Turner.
Princeton, 550 pp., £24.95, June 2014, 978 0 691 14564 8
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... I would feel uncomfortable. Philology, according to the OED, was first used in English by John Skelton in the 1520s of ‘the branch of knowledge that deals with the historical, linguistic, interpretative and critical aspects of literature’. The earliest usages of the word philologist in the 17th century are often qualified by an adjective of praise ...

Victorian Vocations

Frank Kermode, 6 December 1984

Frederic Harrison: The Vocations of a Positivist 
by Martha Vogeler.
Oxford, 493 pp., £27.50, September 1984, 0 19 824733 8
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Leslie Stephen: The Godless Victorian 
by Noël Annan.
Weidenfeld, 432 pp., £16.50, September 1984, 0 297 78369 6
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... supremacy where it belonged, with the ‘richer classes’. In an age which saw Ruskin calling John Stuart Mill a ‘loathsome cretin’ we needn’t be surprised that Harrison was also capable of strong language. When Joseph Chamberlain was said to have hurt his ankle in 1906, Harrison prayed ‘for the sake of our poor dear country’ that the trouble ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2005, 5 January 2006

... a commodity squandered as I had never known it before. 22 May. Reading Frank Kermode’s review of John Haffenden’s life of Empson makes me regret a little that Empson was cut out of The History Boys. In the first version of the play Hector sings the praises of Sheffield where he had been taught by Empson, then recounts to the boys wanting to go to Cambridge ...

Against the Same-Old Same-Old

Seamus Perry: The Brownings, 3 November 2016

The Brownings’ Correspondence, Vol 21 
edited by Philip Kelley, Scott Lewis, Joseph Phelan, Edward Hagan and Rhian Williams.
Wedgestone, 432 pp., $110, April 2014, 978 0 911459 38 8
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The Brownings’ Correspondence, Vol 22 
edited by Philip Kelley, Scott Lewis, Joseph Phelan, Edward Hagan and Rhian Williams.
Wedgestone, 430 pp., $110, June 2015, 978 0 911459 39 5
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Robert Browning 
edited by Richard Cronin and Dorothy McMillan.
Oxford, 904 pp., £95, December 2014, 978 0 19 959942 4
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Browning Studies: Being Select Papers by Members of the Browning Society 
edited by Edward Berdoe.
Routledge, 348 pp., £30, August 2015, 978 1 138 02488 5
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... a visionary monologue notionally addressed to a love-object, though her reality is pretty foggy. John Stuart Mill read the poem attentively in preparation for a review which never appeared, although Browning did later get to see his notes and was understandably struck by one of Mill’s sharper comments: ‘The writer seems to me possessed with a more ...


Andrew O’Hagan: The Bournemouth Set, 21 May 2020

... the sea. Stevenson looked from the top window and saw his characters out there: Billy Bones, Long John Silver and the emerging cast of Kidnapped. The Channel was busy with the ghosts of real seafarers, such as the smuggler Slippery Rogers, who once came to Bournemouth in a boat rowed by forty men, carrying thirty thousand gallons of Dutch brandy. For ...

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