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Kettle of Vultures

Jamie Martin: A History of Interest, 16 November 2023

The Price of Time: The Real Story of Interest 
by Edward Chancellor.
Penguin, 398 pp., £12.99, September, 978 1 80206 015 7
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... all, he insisted, on the ‘price of the hire of money’.Locke’s argument is a turning point in Edward Chancellor’s polemical history of interest from antiquity to the present. It was Locke who supposedly first recognised what all anti-usurers before him had not: that interest wasn’t only an appropriate instrument for use in complex societies, but ...


Edward Pearce, 26 July 1990

A Sparrow’s Flight: Memoirs 
by Lord Hailsham.
Collins, 463 pp., £17.50, July 1990, 0 00 215545 1
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... Quintin Hogg suggest themselves. Perched upon the horsehair seat known as the Woolsack is the Lord Chancellor, hands clasped at the top of his walking-stick, tricorn hat sitting on his full-bottomed wig. On such a formal occasion he looked totally a man of the 18th century, so much did the face and manner fit the rigout. Most modern men in fancy dress look ...
Citizen Lord: Edward Fitzgerald 1763-98 
by Stella Tillyard.
Chatto, 336 pp., £16.99, May 1997, 0 7011 6538 3
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... do now ‘but fumble in a greasy till’. Was it For this that all the blood was shed, For this Edward Fitzgerald died, And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone, All that delirium of the brave? ‘Delirium’ suggests Yeats’s usual equivocal insight; but more magnificently it celebrates the fever in the blood which was about to quicken the national pulses yet ...

High Priest of Mumbo-Jumbo

R.W. Johnson, 13 November 1997

Lord Hailsham: A Life 
by Geoffrey Lewis.
Cape, 403 pp., £25, October 1997, 0 224 04252 1
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... Suez, the head of various other ministries, Tory Party Chairman and, for a record 12 years, Lord Chancellor, formally the country’s highest office. (The Lord Chancellor has often earned more than the prime minister and outranks him on all official occasions.) He had every advantage: a wealthy background, a Lord ...

Queen Croesus

David Cannadine, 13 February 1992

Royal Fortune: Tax, Money and the Monarchy 
by Phillip Hall.
Bloomsbury, 294 pp., £18.99, February 1992, 0 7475 1133 0
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... she should not. Her eldest son, however, had other ideas, and when he acceded to the throne as Edward VII in 1901, he immediately asked the Conservative Government of Lord Salisbury whether he might be ‘relieved’ of the income tax he paid on the Civil List. Much to the King’s regret, the Cabinet refused to budge, arguing that he must continue to ...

Renewing the Struggle

Penelope Fitzgerald: Edward White Benson, 18 June 1998

Father of the Bensons: The Life of Edward White Benson, Sometime Archbiship of Canterbury 
by Geoffrey Palmer and Noel Lloyd.
Lennard, 226 pp., £16.99, May 1998, 1 85291 138 7
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... self-expression, self-justification and self-explanation. Yet they did not give themselves away. Edward White Benson took charge of his five brothers and sisters at the age of 14, after the death of his father in 1842. This father had been an unsuccessful research chemist who had invested what money he had in a process for manufacturing white lead, but ...

Frisking the Bishops

Ferdinand Mount: Poor Henry, 21 September 2023

Henry III: Reform, Rebellion, Civil War, Settlement 1258-72 
by David Carpenter.
Yale, 711 pp., £30, May, 978 0 300 24805 0
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Henry III: The Rise to Power and Personal Rule 1207-58 
by David Carpenter.
Yale, 763 pp., £30, October 2021, 978 0 300 25919 3
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... tears whenever he was saying goodbye to his (far tougher) wife, Eleanor, and his son, the future Edward I. After his blood row with Edward in 1260, he at first refused to see him, because ‘if he appears before me, I could not stop myself kissing him.’ Unlike his tight-fisted father, King John, Henry was generous to a ...


R.W. Johnson: Magdalen College, 19 November 2009

... was founded in 1458 by William Waynflete, a farmer’s son who became the bishop of Winchester and chancellor of England, and so endowed the college as to make it the richest in Oxford or Cambridge until the foundation of Cardinal College (renamed Christ Church after Wolsey’s fall). It did no harm to Magdalen that Wolsey, who was one of its fellows, himself ...

Lord Vaizey sees the light

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 20 October 1983

In Breach of Promise 
by John Vaizey.
Weidenfeld, 150 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 297 78288 6
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... all. ‘They were the best.’ Hugh Gaitskell, Iain Macleod, Richard Titmuss, Anthony Crosland and Edward Boyle. They were all ‘clever, honest, admirable and honourable’. They were all, except Boyle, who was at school at the time, affected by the slump. They were all excited by the political changes and administrative advances of the war. Four of them ...

Don’t lock up the wife

E.S. Turner: Georgina Weldon, 5 October 2000

A Monkey among Crocodiles: The Life, Loves and Lawsuits of Mrs Georgina Weldon 
by Brian Thompson.
HarperCollins, 304 pp., £19.99, June 2000, 0 00 257189 7
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... it did not get her into the usual reference books. She was the subject of a biography, in 1959, by Edward Grierson, Storm Bird: The Strange Life of Georgina Weldon, which Brian Thompson commends in his bibliography as ‘genial and entertaining’. His own book is as genial as the subject will allow, often extravagantly entertaining, and as shrewd as it is ...

Tea with Medea

Simon Skinner: Richard Cobb, 19 July 2012

My Dear Hugh: Letters from Richard Cobb to Hugh Trevor-Roper and Others 
Frances Lincoln, 240 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 0 7112 3240 2Show More
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... genteel domesticity could come from a Mike Leigh script. Take his description of tea with Edward and ‘Medea’: She was about to pour the tea. Instead, she hurled the full teapot across the room, in the direction of Edward’s head; it was quite a good, very powerful shot, but it just missed him, shattering ...

Dining with Ivan the Terrible

Malcolm Gaskill: Seeking London’s Fortune, 8 February 2018

London’s Triumph: Merchant Adventurers and the Tudor City 
by Stephen Alford.
Allen Lane, 316 pp., £20, April 2017, 978 0 241 00358 9
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... New Lands, patronised by the Duke of Northumberland, then the most powerful man in England (given Edward VI’s youth), and bankrolled by eager investors. The colossal sum of £6000 was raised. Combining what Alford calls ‘formidable ambition and startling ignorance’, an expedition to find the north-east passage set off in 1553, armed with a letter from ...

Coke v. Bacon

Stephen Sedley, 27 July 2023

The Winding Stair 
by Jesse Norman.
Biteback, 464 pp., £20, June, 978 1 78590 792 0
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... That wonderful Edward Coke,’ wrote the great Maitland, ‘masterful, masterless man.’ Others prefer the judgment of the Australian judge and historian James Spigelman: Coke’s mind ‘was so narrow and unsubtle, so incapable of jettisoning detail, so often inconsistent, that no one has ever speculated that he wrote the works of Shakespeare ...


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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... It was about property, and how best those who had it could keep it safe from those who hadn’t. Edward Pearce was an eloquent and observant parliamentary commentator for the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian. He delighted and, to his credit, often infuriated his readers with his sardonic wit and readable prose. Eventually shunned by both papers, he wrote an ...


E.S. Turner, 23 February 1995

Edward Lear: A Biography 
by Peter Levi.
Macmillan, 362 pp., £20, January 1995, 0 333 58804 5
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... poet-painter was the 20th child of a dodgy stockbroker? Yes, it was the man in the runcible hat, Edward Lear. His latest biographer, Peter Levi, confides to us that, like Lear’s mother, his own grandmother also had 21 children. Easily lured into digression, Levi adds that ‘it is not uncommon in such families that by some mysterious compensation of nature ...

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