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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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... that mystique must be one of the first priorities of democratic socialists in establishing an alternative society with a renewed faith in its capacity for progress. At the opposite pole of politics, MauriceCowling 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 ...

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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... deep in Mill’s outlook offended Toryism, old or new, whereas something deep in Carlyle’s has been potent enough to persuade Simon Heffer to follow in the footsteps of his Peter-house mentor, MauriceCowling, 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 ...
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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... mind, oddly enough, of another Cambridge writer, the late Dr Leavis, as do some turgid writing and 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 ...

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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... MauriceCowling 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 ...
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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... large numbers of working men to get the vote. Having failed to keep the working class out, next day he tried to bring the middle-class woman in. There is also the paradox tentatively suggested by MauriceCowling, 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 ...
10 May 1990
by John Vincent.
Oxford, 127 pp., £4.95, March 1990, 0 19 287681 3
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... Disraeli’s professions about educating his party into an acceptance of household suffrage in 1867 – what a magnificent tribute that would constitute to his prescience in statecraft! Alas, Mr MauriceCowling, 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 ...

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, 978 0 19 882369 8
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... war with Hitler, and allow him to exhaust his resources fighting Russia over eastern Europe. Crowcroft is the third historian to write about the appeasement crisis explicitly in this vein, following MauriceCowling (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 ...
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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... linguistic turn’ to the explication of political ideology through the scrutiny of political language is not as novel as some of its recent practitioners like to think (he mentions as precursors MauriceCowling 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 ...


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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... the German national character’, views popular at the time but now embarrassing to read. Back in Oxford, 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 ...
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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... movements against slavery and cruelty to animals, and for free trade, family allowances, factory-hours and public health, to name only a few. Yet almost at once there came rumblings from Cambridge. MauriceCowling, 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 ...
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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... such fatuities as base-superstructure models, it is no news to them that the political and legal powers of the state have an integrity and persistence of their own. Academic historians such as MauriceCowling 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 ...


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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... the most important is religion. All of this comes out well in Charles Covell’s scholarly, discriminating and curiously detached study of the Cambridge fogeys – Michael Oakeshott, John Casey, MauriceCowling 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 ...

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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... figure than the controversialist who once seemed to delight in giving offence when correcting the historical errors of – variously but far from exhaustively – Arnold Toynbee, A.J.P. Taylor, MauriceCowling, 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 ...


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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... were not on the left, I doubt whether the editors of their festschrifts would worry about – or perhaps even notice – this. The volumes of essays published in 1993 and 2002 to honour the work of MauriceCowling, 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 ...
30 March 1989
Theoria: Art and the Absence of Grace 
by Peter Fuller.
Chatto, 260 pp., £15, November 1988, 0 7011 2942 5
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Seeing through Berger 
by Peter Fuller.
Claridge, 176 pp., £8.95, November 1988, 1 870626 75 3
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Cambridge Guide to the Arts in Britain. Vol. IX: Since the Second World War 
edited by Boris Ford.
Cambridge, 369 pp., £19.50, November 1988, 0 521 32765 2
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Ruskin’s Myths 
by Dinah Birch.
Oxford, 212 pp., £22.50, August 1988, 9780198128724
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The Sun is God: Painting, Literature and Mythology in the 19th Century 
edited by J.B. Bullen.
Oxford, 230 pp., £27.50, March 1989, 0 19 812884 3
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Artisans and Architects: The Ruskinian Tradition in Architectural Thought 
by Mark Swenarton.
Macmillan, 239 pp., £35, February 1989, 0 333 46460 5
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... the disadvantages of a narrowly British education. Far quainter, however, is the proposal that the ‘intellectual attitude’ of Degas, Renoir, Cézanne and the like ‘was closer to that of MauriceCowling than to Nikolaus Pevsner’. It’s as if a boy had supposed that, because one of his schoolmasters won a medal in the war, he must have been a hero whose exploits were familiar to all adults ...

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