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Much to be endured

D.J. Enright, 27 June 1991

Samuel Johnson in the Medical World: The Doctor and the Patient 
by John Wiltshire.
Cambridge, 293 pp., £30, March 1991, 0 521 38326 9
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... writings and those of contemporary medical men, besides the testimonies of friends and strangers, John Wiltshire examines Johnson as both sufferer and physician (or healer). Hence his punning subtitle. Some of Johnson’s best friends, starting with his godfather, were doctors, and in addition to being himself a monumental patient, he was ready to give ...

Noticing and Not Noticing

John Mullan: Consciousness in Austen, 20 November 2014

The Hidden Jane Austen 
by John Wiltshire.
Cambridge, 195 pp., £17.99, April 2014, 978 1 107 64364 2
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... over her own want of presence of mind’, and we sense the denial of feelings hidden from herself. John Wiltshire’s finely observed study of Jane Austen’s six completed novels is all about the way she conjures characters’ hidden feelings. His title might lead you to expect some revelation of Austen’s private passions but, while knowledgable about ...

Seventh Eighth Men Uncovered

Humphery Spender, 7 May 1981

... Geoffrey Grigson and I were touring Wiltshire in a hired car, a black Morris 1000 saloon, doing a piece of photo-journalism for Picture Post. I was taking the photographs. It-was 1951. The Mail had offered a reward of £10,000 for any information leading to the capture of the fleeing diplomats, Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean ...

I have written as I rode

Adam Smyth: ‘Brief Lives’, 7 October 2015

‘Brief Lives’ with ‘An Apparatus for the Lives of Our English Mathematical Writers’ 
by John Aubrey, edited by Kate Bennett.
Oxford, 1968 pp., £250, March 2015, 978 0 19 968953 8
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John Aubrey: My Own Life 
by Ruth Scurr.
Chatto, 518 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 0 7011 7907 6
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... that J.G.A. Pocock told him that Conrad Russell told him that Bertrand Russell told him that Lord John Russell told him that his father the sixth Duke of Bedford told him that he had heard William Pitt the Younger speak in Parliament during the Napoleonic Wars, and that Pitt had this curious way of talking, a particular mannerism that the sixth Duke of ...

Diary

Alison Light: Wiltshire Baptists, 8 April 2010

... way of carrying on our talks, but I was also prompted by reading the Victoria County History of Wiltshire, which reveals that on Census Sunday 1851, 350 people, more than half the population of Shrewton, attended Zion Chapel’s services. In this village the Baptists were not a minority sect. Even without the pictures I’d downloaded from the internet, the ...

High Taxes, Bad Times

John Pemble: Late Georgian Westminster, 10 June 2010

The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1820-32 
by D.R. Fisher.
Cambridge, 6336 pp., £490, December 2009, 978 0 521 19314 6
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... members) as county constituencies whose population was more than a million. The Wiltshire borough of Old Sarum returned two members, but its only residents were sheep. Its 11 vote-carrying properties were owned by an absentee patron who granted leases for the duration of elections to friends and trusted tenants. The fact that he was a nabob ...

Make the music mute

John Barrell, 9 July 1992

English Music 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 400 pp., £14.99, May 1992, 0 241 12501 4
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... music. Then, without being told why, Timothy is packed off to live with his mother’s parents in Wiltshire, and there for the first time he sees the English countryside, goes to school, and meets other children – in particular, the crippled Edward Campion. He also cures his grandmother, who suffers from nervous shakes. In ...

Diary

Will Self: Walking out of London, 20 October 2011

... on his destination: the manor house of friends of ours who live in prelapsarian splendour on the Wiltshire/ Hampshire border; friends who grow hundreds of acres of wheat, ride to hounds and potter in their walled garden. History, Stephen Dedalus groaned, is a nightmare from which I’m trying to awake – but these friends of ours are for the most part ...

Short Cuts

Rosemary Hill: Stonehenge for the solstice, 6 July 2006

... 21 years this summer since the Battle of the Beanfield, the bloody confrontation at Cholderton in Wiltshire between police and a travellers’ convoy heading for Stonehenge, which resulted in 420 arrests and the end of the Stonehenge Free Festival. For more than a decade after that the authorities kept the public out at the solstice with a ferocity bordering ...

At the Ashmolean

Rosemary Hill: The Capture of the Westmorland, 19 July 2012

... subjects might as well have stuck their heads through a hole in a pre-painted background. But as John Brewer emphasises in his catalogue essay, the Tour was more socially mixed than it might appear. Basset, the biggest spender among the consigners to the Westmorland, was not an aristocrat but the beneficiary of a recent family fortune made from Cornish ...

At Tate Britain

Rosemary Hill: ‘Ruin Lust’, 2 April 2014

... for the Megaliths’ by Paul Nash (1935) ‘The Destruction of Pompei and Herculaneum’ by John Martin (1822) ‘Sketch for Hadleigh Castle’ by John Constable (1828-9)PreviousNext Within it there are tantalising themes. The one which the Tate’s collection is best suited to develop is England’s relationship with ...

Going Native

A.N. Wilson: Theroux’s portait of Naipaul, 13 May 1999

Sir Vidia’s Shadow: A Friendship across Five Continents 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 376 pp., £17.99, December 1998, 0 241 14046 3
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... The Enigma of Arrival. This is a book about Naipaul having stopped writing. He is living in Wiltshire within a stone’s throw of a large house in which a scarcely-disguised Stephen Tennant is, like England, gathering dust and going to seed. Nothing happens in the book, yet the writing is hypnotic. Naipaul has always had a mage-like quality, weaving a ...

Shoy-Hoys

Paul Foot: The not-so-great Reform Act, 6 May 2004

Reform! The Fight for the 1832 Reform Act 
by Edward Pearce.
Cape, 343 pp., £20, November 2003, 0 224 06199 2
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... debates on the second reading of the first Reform Bill was made by the young MP for the rotten Wiltshire borough of Calne, Thomas Babington Macaulay. He denounced the aristocracy’s blind insensitivity to the upper middle classes from which he came. He stressed the contribution that class could and should make to politics. It was precisely the urgent need ...

Homage to Braudel

Geoffrey Parker, 4 September 1980

Civilisation matérielle, économie et capitalisme, XVe – XVIIIe siécle 
by Fernand Braudel.
Armand Colin, 544 pp.
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... by foreign scholars. Thus pages 447-8 of Volume II contain an account of a weavers’ riot in Wiltshire in 1738, based on an article published in Portuguese by a Brazilian historian. This may seem fair enough. But, upon investigation, we find that the article is little more than a translation into Portuguese of two pamphlets about the riot, published in ...

Theophany

Frank Kermode: William Golding, 5 November 2009

William Golding: The Man Who Wrote ‘Lord of the Flies’ 
by John Carey.
Faber, 573 pp., £25, 0 571 23163 2
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... John Carey has had access to voluminous archives stored in the Faber basement or in the keeping of William Golding’s family. No one else may see them; he alone can quote from unpublished novels, journals, memoirs, correspondence and conversations. He has made excellent use of these privileges, and the result is a full, friendly, and on proper occasions candid, account of a remarkable man, who took a long time to achieve an understanding of how truly remarkable he was, and then did so only fitfully ...

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