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Libel on the Human Race

Steven Shapin: Malthus, 4 June 2014

Malthus: The Life and Legacies of an Untimely Prophet 
by Robert Mayhew.
Harvard, 284 pp., £20, April 2014, 978 0 674 72871 4
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... The​ Rev. Thomas Robert Malthus liked to look on the bright side. True, that hasn’t been the usual assessment: his Essay on the Principle of Population (1798) was intended to drench the parade of Enlightenment optimism about human possibility. The Radical writer Richard Price reckoned that an expanding population was a good thing, and that it would follow inevitably from more virtuous forms of government ...

What Fred Did

Owen Bennett-Jones: Go-Betweens in Northern Ireland, 22 January 2015

... MI6 officer seconded to MI5 who introduced himself as Colin Ferguson and later said his name was Robert McLarnon. Believing in neither name, Duddy called him Fred. The Northern Irish members of the link were relatively optimistic that a peace deal might be possible. The conflict had reached a stalemate: the British could contain the IRA but not defeat it and ...

Dishonoured

Michael Wood, 5 May 1983

The Rapes of Lucretia: A Myth and Its Transformation 
by Ian Donaldson.
Oxford, 203 pp., £15, October 1982, 0 19 812638 7
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The Rape of Clarissa 
by Terry Eagleton.
Blackwell, 109 pp., £10, September 1982, 0 631 13031 4
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Samuel Richardson: A Man of Letters 
by Carol Houlihan Flynn.
Princeton, 342 pp., £17.70, May 1982, 0 691 06506 3
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... and many days more, no doubt. But then presumably, since the girl later talked calmly enough to Mayhew, the drawer gradually closed, the glint of the knives softened, and life continued. Slums, years, have buried you. I would not dare Console you if I could. If the girl had been a heroine, of course, she would not have survived her disgrace. She would ...

Connections

Colin Wallace, 8 October 1992

The Red Hand: Protestant Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland 
by Steve Bruce.
Oxford, 326 pp., £25, August 1992, 0 19 215961 5
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... policy in Northern Ireland. In January 1988, the then Attorney-General, Sir Patrick Mayhew, told the Commons that, given certain ‘considerations of national security’, no charges would be brought against eight named RUC officers for various offences including conspiracy to murder, nor against certain MI5 officers involved in conspiracy ...

Who now cares about Malinowski?

Robert Ackerman, 23 May 1996

After Tylor: British Social Anthropology 1888-1951 
by George Stocking.
Athlone, 570 pp., £50, January 1996, 0 485 30072 9
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... sources – he makes much, for example, of the ‘domestic savagery’ reported by Engels and Mayhew. In After Tylor, however, he forgoes multiple contextualisation in favour of straightforward chronology. We begin in 1888, at the high noon of evolutionism, with Tylor delivering a paper on kinship to the Anthropological Institute, and we conclude in 1951 ...

Diary

Tam Dalyell: Yesterday’s News, 18 September 1986

... by Sir Lewis Namier had more patronage at his disposal than Mrs Thatcher has enjoyed: and Sir Robert Walpole and his successors were vulnerable to visits from grandees, who called on him with the word that it was time for a change. As a friend of mine, a Conservative Privy Councillor, put it when I said post-Westland that I was not asking for a general ...

Pooka

Frank Kermode, 16 October 1997

Jack Maggs 
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 328 pp., £15.99, September 1997, 9780571190881
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... novel. Clarke wrote about the penal settlements, more recently and more harshly described by Robert Hughes. While Carey’s hero was held in such places he was flogged with unforgettable violence, his back permanently scarred and furrowed, and two of his fingers severed. (There was a specially destructive New South Wales double ‘cat’.) Having made ...

A Question of Breathing

John Bayley, 4 August 1988

Elizabeth Barrett Browning 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 400 pp., £14.95, June 1988, 0 7011 3018 0
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Selected Poems of Elizabeth Barrett Browning 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 330 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 7011 3311 2
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The Poetical Works of Robert Browning: Vol. III 
edited by Ian Jack and Rowena Fowler.
Oxford, 542 pp., £60, June 1988, 0 19 812762 6
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The Complete Works of Robert Browning: Vol. VIII 
edited by Roma King and Susan Crowl.
Ohio/Baylor University, 379 pp., £47.50, September 1988, 9780821403808
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... irregular line of elms by the deep lane’. And like Sonnets from the Portuguese, which Robert Browning had advised Elizabeth to present as translations, and which were not published as her own until her death, Aurora Leigh is a remarkable tribute to the way in which new female independence, intelligence and sensibility can go with an equally ...

Traffaut’s Heroes

Richard Mayne, 4 September 1980

The Films in My Life 
by François Truffaut, translated by Leonard Mayhew.
Allen Lane, 358 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 7139 1322 3
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... his American heroes – including not only Lubitsch, Hawks, Hitchcock and Orson Welles, but also Robert, Aldrich, Frank Tashlin, Robert Wise and Nicholas Ray. Characteristically, his best remarks about them home in on technique. ‘Hitchcock’s mastery of the are grows greater with each film and he constantly needs to ...

What did they do in the war?

Angus Calder, 20 June 1985

Firing Line 
by Richard Holmes.
Cape, 436 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 224 02043 9
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The Right of the Line: The Royal Air Force in the European War 1939-1945 
by John Terraine.
Hodder, 841 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 340 26644 9
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The Bomber Command War Diaries: An Operational Reference Book 
by Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt.
Viking, 804 pp., £25, May 1985, 0 670 80137 2
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’45: The Final Drive from the Rhine to the Baltic 
by Charles Whiting.
Century, 192 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 0 7126 0812 5
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In the Ruins of the Reich 
by Douglas Botting.
Allen and Unwin, 248 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 9780049430365
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1945: The World We Fought For 
by Robert Kee.
Hamish Hamilton, 371 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 241 11531 0
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VE Day: Victory in Europe 1945 
by Robin Cross.
Sidgwick, 223 pp., £12.95, May 1985, 0 283 99220 4
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One Family’s War 
edited by Patrick Mayhew.
Hutchinson, 237 pp., £10.95, May 1985, 0 7126 0812 5
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Poems of the Second World War: The Oasis Selection 
edited by Victor Selwyn.
Dent, 386 pp., £12, May 1985, 0 460 10432 2
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My Life 
by Bert Hardy.
Gordon Fraser, 192 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 86092 083 6
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Victory in Europe: D Day to VE Day 
by Max Hastings and George Stevens.
Weidenfeld, 192 pp., £10.95, April 1985, 0 297 78650 4
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... more crazy if we were to have more casualties on our side to save the Japanese. This is quoted in Robert Kee’s 1945 – The World We Fought For. Kee’s method is to construct an account of the year from contemporary newspapers and journals. Its vice is that it can look rather lazily tacked together. Its virtue is that it helps us to see events as the ...

Suck, chéri

E.S. Turner: The history of sweets, 29 October 1998

Sugar-Plums and Sherbet: A Prehistory of Sweets 
by Laura Mason.
Prospect, 250 pp., £20, June 1998, 0 907325 83 1
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... cinemas, where mega-ice-lollies and straggly Yellow Bellies are sold in a state of nature. Henry Mayhew, frequently cited in this book, told how a street vendor of sweets wrapped his wares in pages torn from old books and a heap of Acts of Parliament. The old damerun sweet shop usually supplied sweets in a conical paper poke not unlike the one from which a ...

Desmondism

John Sutherland, 23 March 1995

Huxley: The Devil’s Disciple 
by Adrian Desmond.
Joseph, 474 pp., £20, November 1994, 0 7181 3641 1
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... betters’ patent leather shoes. There was undoubtedly a lot of it going on, but not that much. As Mayhew testifies, there seem to have been no more than a few hundred juvenile crossing-sweepers in the 1840s and 1850s, mainly congregated around Trafalgar Square. Desmond’s reckless way with incidental background detail – he is much more scrupulous about the ...

Diary

Andrew O’Hagan: Orders of Service, 18 April 2019

... account of her life by Bamber Gascoigne, and then David Attenborough’s reading of two poems by Robert Frost. There appears to have been a Feddenesque delicacy and some well-placed dabs of humour to the whole affair. ‘Very Mary,’ Catherine said. The phrase ‘order of service’ isn’t Catholic. I never heard it in the chapels of my youth (we had ...

Be careful what you wish for

Stephen Sedley: Human Rights Acts, 30 August 2018

The Conservative Human Rights Revolution: European Identity, Transnational Politics and the Origins of the European Convention 
by Marco Duranti.
Oxford, 502 pp., £59, February 2017, 978 0 19 981138 0
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... desire to see them included, had to be kept out if the project was to have any credibility (though Robert Boothby, another of its protagonists, suggested that Salazar might ‘concoct a special brand of Portuguese democracy’ to get Portugal under the wire). It also followed, particularly in the view of British conservatives and French Catholics, that some ...

Diary

Tom Paulin: Trimble’s virtues, 7 October 2004

... suspicion that none of the Unionists could be trusted. Even now, Godson says, Patrick Mayhew, Northern Ireland secretary at the time, describes Trimble’s performance at Drumcree as ‘undoubtedly triumphalist’. He aroused great hostility in nationalist Ireland and among what Godson calls ‘mainland progressive opinion’, which helped him ...

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