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Getting on

Paul Addison, 9 October 1986

On Living in an Old Country 
by Patrick Wright.
Verso, 262 pp., £5.95, September 1985, 0 86091 833 5
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Religion and Public Doctrine in Modern England. Vol. II: Assaults 
by Maurice Cowling.
Cambridge, 375 pp., £30, November 1985, 0 521 25959 2
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... society with a renewed faith in its capacity for progress. At the opposite pole of politics, Maurice Cowling abhors the secular modernity of contemporary England and the apostasy of its people from the Anglican faith of Charles I and Archbishop Laud. Given the chance, he would restore in modern dress the divine right of kings and the doctrinal ...

Erratic Star

Michael Foot, 11 May 1995

Moral Desperado: A Life of Thomas Carlyle 
by Simon Heffer.
Orion, 420 pp., £20, March 1995, 0 297 81564 4
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... been potent enough to persuade Simon Heffer to follow in the footsteps of his Peter-house mentor, Maurice Cowling, and see whether Carlyle can be given the final accolade. It seems a pretty tall order, even though, as every schoolchild knows (as Macaulay used to say), Carlyle became in old age a frantic exponent of racism and other comparable ...

How shall we sing the Lord’s song?

Bernard Williams, 2 April 1981

Religion and Public Doctrine in England 
by Maurice Cowling.
Cambridge, 475 pp., £20, December 1980, 0 521 23289 9
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... a violent dislike of Lord Snow. Oddly, since Leavis’s intense moralism is the sort of thing that Cowling most detests: but that only makes it clearer how some spirit of the place managed to affect them both. Leavis is not mentioned in these pages, but many Cambridge figures, past and present, are. The author relishes the utter inconspicuousness of some of ...

Sabre-Toothed Teacher

Colin Kidd: Cowling, 31 March 2011

The Philosophy, Politics and Religion of British Democracy: Maurice Cowling and Conservatism 
edited by Robert Crowcroft, S.J.D. Green and Richard Whiting.
I.B. Tauris, 327 pp., £54.50, August 2010, 978 1 84511 976 8
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... Maurice Cowling was the English intelligentsia’s self-appointed pantomime ogre. Hamming up his villainy, he deliberately courted boos and hisses. In 1990, on the publication of the second edition of his book Mill and Liberalism (1963), he remembered with delight that one of its original reviewers had ‘obligingly’ described it as ‘“dangerous and unpleasant”, which was what it was intended to be ...

Jews on horseback

Peter Clarke, 10 May 1990

Disraeli 
by John Vincent.
Oxford, 127 pp., £4.95, March 1990, 0 19 287681 3
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... what a magnificent tribute that would constitute to his prescience in statecraft! Alas, Mr Maurice Cowling, than whom no Tory historian is higher or drier, emerged from the murky recesses of Peterhouse with a vast manuscript, securely girdled with impeccable scholarship and a black bow-tie. It demonstrated that the Second Reform Act, though passed ...

Swearing by Phrenology

John Vincent, 3 February 2000

An Intelligent Person's Guide to Liberalism 
by Conrad Russell.
Duckworth, 128 pp., £12.95, September 1999, 0 7156 2947 6
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... he tried to bring the middle-class woman in. There is also the paradox tentatively suggested by Maurice Cowling, who has hinted that Mill was an authoritarian Liberal for whom liberty was code for a species of refined coercion. There may be something in this. If it is asked whether Mill wanted to turn an England of parish churches, Sunday Schools and ...

Policy Failure

Jonathan Parry: The Party Paradox, 19 November 2019

The End Is Nigh: British Politics, Power and the Road to the Second World War 
by Robert Crowcroft.
Oxford, 284 pp., £25, May 2019, 978 0 19 882369 8
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... is the third historian to write about the appeasement crisis explicitly in this vein, following Maurice Cowling (The Impact of Hitler, 1975) and John Charmley (Chamberlain and the Lost Peace, 1989). Crowcroft presents himself as a disciple of Cowling and The End Is Nigh is a racier, more simplistic and more emotive ...

One’s Rather Obvious Duty

Paul Smith, 1 June 2000

Stanley Baldwin: Conservative Leadership and National Values 
by Philip Williamson.
Cambridge, 378 pp., £25, September 1999, 0 521 43227 8
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... is not as novel as some of its recent practitioners like to think (he mentions as precursors Maurice Cowling and Michael Bentley), but he gives one of the most impressive proofs to date of its potential to open up understanding of ideological messaging, the importance of which in British politics has seldom been adequately recognised, and has ...

Liquidator

Neal Ascherson: Hugh Trevor-Roper, 19 August 2010

Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Biography 
by Adam Sisman.
Weidenfeld, 598 pp., £25, July 2010, 978 0 297 85214 8
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... he found that he was resented by some older dons. The bitchiest of all the sniping came from Maurice Bowra, who wrote to Waugh that ‘Trevor-Roper is a fearful man, short-sighted, with dripping eyes, shows off all the time, sucks up to me, boasts, is far from poor owing to his awful book, on every page of which there is a ...

English Marxists in dispute

Roy Porter, 17 July 1980

Arguments within English Marxism 
by Perry Anderson.
New Left Books, 218 pp., £3.95, May 1980, 0 86091 727 4
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Capitalism, State Formation and Marxist Theory 
edited by Philip Corrigan.
Quartet, 232 pp., £4.95, May 1980, 0 7043 2241 2
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Writing by Candlelight 
by E.P. Thompson.
Merlin, 286 pp., £2.70, May 1980, 0 85036 257 1
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... powers of the state have an integrity and persistence of their own. Academic historians such as Maurice Cowling and John Vincent have for years been plotting the political seduction of the aspiring middle classes into primrose leagues. It was all in Bagehot anyway. Similarly it is striking, but in some ways rather pathetic, to discover a Marxist such ...

Ideologues

Peter Pulzer, 20 February 1986

The Redefinition of Conservatism: Politics and Doctrine 
by Charles Covell.
Macmillan, 267 pp., £27.50, January 1986, 0 333 38463 6
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Thinkers of the New Left 
by Roger Scruton.
Longman, 227 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 582 90273 8
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The Idea of Liberalism: Studies for a New Map of Politics 
by George Watson.
Macmillan, 172 pp., £22.50, November 1985, 0 333 38754 6
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Socialism and Freedom 
by Bryan Gould.
Macmillan, 109 pp., £25, November 1985, 0 333 40580 3
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... and curiously detached study of the Cambridge fogeys – Michael Oakeshott, John Casey, Maurice Cowling and Roger Scruton – with side-glances at Shirley Robin Letwin and the conservative potential in Wittgenstein, Elizabeth Anscombe and Philippa Foot. Other than that, some of the conservatives are closer to liberalism than others; some ...

Tory History

Alan Ryan, 23 January 1986

English Society 1688-1832 
by J.C.D. Clark.
Cambridge, 439 pp., £30, November 1985, 0 521 30922 0
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Virtue, Commerce and History 
by J.G.A. Pocock.
Cambridge, 321 pp., £25, November 1985, 0 521 25701 8
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... those of Clark, but he relishes ‘high politics’ and concentrates as hard as any disciple of Maurice Cowling could wish on the details of élite manoeuvre. Nor is Plumb an uncritical admirer of the Whig supremacy or taken in by the England the Whigs governed – it was coarse, provincial and brutal, and infinitely less chic than contemporary ...

Votes for Women, Chastity for Men

Brian Harrison, 21 January 1988

Troublesome People: Enemies of War, 1916-1986 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Hamish Hamilton, 344 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 241 12105 1
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Sex and Suffrage in Britain, 1860-1914 
by Susan Kingsley Kent.
Princeton, 295 pp., £22, June 1987, 0 691 05497 5
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Women, Marriage and Politics, 1860-1914 
by Pat Jalland.
Oxford, 366 pp., £19.50, November 1986, 0 19 822668 3
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An Edwardian Mixed Doubles: The Bosanquets versus the Webbs. A Study in British Social Policy, 1890-1929 
by A.M. McBriar.
Oxford, 407 pp., £35, July 1987, 0 19 820111 7
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... and public health, to name only a few. Yet almost at once there came rumblings from Cambridge. Maurice Cowling, John Vincent, Andrew Jones and others rightly emphasised the Victorian politician’s relative autonomy from popular pressure, and cleverly unveiled the feebleness of provincial and popular reformers when they tried to operate at Westminster ...

The Calvinist International

Colin Kidd: Hugh Trevor-Roper, 22 May 2008

The Invention of Scotland: Myth and History 
by Hugh Trevor-Roper.
Yale, 267 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 0 300 13686 9
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Europe’s Physician: The Various Life of Sir Theodore de Mayerne 
by Hugh Trevor-Roper.
Yale, 438 pp., £25, October 2006, 0 300 11263 7
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... historical errors of – variously but far from exhaustively – Arnold Toynbee, A.J.P. Taylor, Maurice Cowling, Lawrence Stone and the Cerberus of Scottish historiography, William Ferguson. But if the softer, gentler Trevor-Roper outlived many – though by no means all – of his foremost adversaries, their pupils and heirs had not forgotten the ...

Festschriftiness

Susan Pedersen, 6 October 2011

Structures and Transformations in Modern British History 
edited by David Feldman and Jon Lawrence.
Cambridge, 331 pp., £50, January 2011, 978 0 521 51882 6
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The Peculiarities of Liberal Modernity in Imperial Britain 
edited by Simon Gunn and James Vernon.
California, 271 pp., £20.95, May 2011, 978 0 9845909 5 7
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Classes, Cultures and Politics: Essays on British History for Ross McKibbin 
edited by Clare Griffiths, John Nott and William Whyte.
Oxford, 320 pp., £65, April 2011, 978 0 19 957988 4
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... even notice – this. The volumes of essays published in 1993 and 2002 to honour the work of Maurice Cowling, after all, contain not a single piece by a woman. But scholars who learned as students to recognise gender as a key locus of power and to chide each other for being insufficiently attuned to its workings (James Vernon in 1994 discerned ...

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