Tory Historian's attention was called to a review in the Wall Street Journal of a book that will be borrowed from London Library at the first possible opportunity: Joel Mokyr's The Enlightened Economy. The reviewer, Trevor Butterworth who is the editor of STATS.org and a columnist for Forbes.com, thinks this is the tome that should be read by all those who are interested in financial and economic matters.

The theme of the books is a question: why, of all European countries, many as advanced if not more so, it was Britain that had the Industrial Revolution?

Here is a paragraph from the review that points towards some of the answers:

But the power of knowledge would not, by itself, have given Britain its formidable economic edge; the Continent, too, had an array of scientific genius as brilliant as any in Scotland and England. (Think only of the French chemist Antoine Lavoisier.) The reason for Britain's exceptionalism, Mr. Mokyr says, lies in the increasing hostility to rent-seeking — the use of political power to redistribute rather than create wealth — among the country's most important intellectuals in the second half of the 18th century. Indeed, a host of liberal ideas, in the classic sense, took hold: the rejection of mercantilism's closed markets, the weakening of guilds and the expansion of internal free trade, and robust physical and intellectual property rights all put Britain far ahead of France, where violent revolution was needed to disrupt the privileges of the old regime.
Rent seeking remains a constant problem, perhaps a greater one in the Britain of the twenty-first century than that of the eighteenth.

On July 30, 1990 Ian Gow, Conservative MP, a strong opponent of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, an erstwhile close friend and colleague of Airey Neave's, a man who worked closely with the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, was assassinated by a bomb planted under his car in his constituency. Direct violence entered British politics again as it had done with the assassination of Airey Neave.

In the Guardian Jonathan Aitken and Edward Pearce called him "a Thatcherite romantic" and said

With the assassination yesterday of Ian Gow, the House of Commons has lost one of its most admired and courageous characters. In government he had played a pivotal role in the making of the Thatcher revolution, while on the backbenches he was one of those rare parliamentarians who could captivate both sides of the House with a stylish humour that was sui generis.
Mrs Thatcher lost one of her strongest supporters in her fight for her position though, apparently, Mr Gow had decided that her premiership had run to its natural close and she ought to resign. Perhaps, with him around the resignation and events surrounding it would not have been quite so messy. Perhaps.

David Torrance, author of the book about Noel Skelton that so fortuitously arrived in the post the other day, has an article in the Scottish edition of The Times (channelled here by his publisher BiteBack). He writes about the hero of his book, a man who was a Unionist, Scottish and British, a Conservative and the man who saw clearly the importance of property-owning democracy, which is the exact opposite of socialist re-distribution by the state in whatever form.

The poet, essayist, MP, irascible Catholic, Hilaire Belloc was born on July 27, 1870 in France but became a British subject in 1902.


There are so many aspects to Belloc's life, some less pleasant than others that only a very long posting would do anything like justice to the man. It seems wrong on his birthday to do anything but to celebrate him as a poet but it is difficult to decide on the poems, those well-known and delightful children's ones or one of the West Sussex ones?

As this is the Conservative History blog, perhaps one should stick to the political poems, few of whom are better than Lord Lundy [scroll down], who
from his earliest years
Was far too freely moved to Tears.
Well, we know what happened to Lord Lundy:
It happened to Lord Lundy then,
As happens to so many men:
Towards the age of twenty-six,
They shoved him into politics;
In which profession he commanded
The Income that his rank demanded
In turn as Secretary for
India, the Colonies, and War.
But very soon his friends began
To doubt is he were quite the man:
It was that terrible tendency to be far too freely moved to tears.
They let him sink from Post to Post,
From fifteen hundred at the most
To eight, and barely six--and then
To be Curator of Big Ben!. . .
And finally there came a Threat
To oust him from the Cabinet!

The Duke -- his aged grand-sire -- bore
The shame till he could bear no more.
He rallied his declining powers,
Summoned the youth to Brackley Towers,
And bitterly addressed him thus--
"Sir! you have disappointed us!
We had intended you to be
The next Prime Minister but three:
The stocks were sold; the Press was squared:
The Middle Class was quite prepared.
But as it is! . . . My language fails!
Go out and govern New South Wales!"
What could be more conservative and, therefore, anti-utopian and anti-political than Belloc's famous quatrain about an election:
The accursed power which stands on Privilege
(And goes with Women, and Champagne and Bridge)
Broke and Democracy resumed her reign:
(Which goes with Bridge, and Women and Champagne)
Readers of the blog may well have other favourites. They are welcome to post them.

Since the sixtieth anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War (too often forgotten by commentators) was marked by Tory Historian, it is worth pointing out that it ended on July 27, 1953 with the signing of a peace agreement at Panmunjom. It lasted three years and cost around 5 million lives.

... a very interesting looking book by David Torrance, a previous contributor to the Conservative History Journal, about Noel Skelton and property-owning democracy. Once I have read it I shall try to interview David for the Journal or the blog.

Tory Historian remembers this very well, indeed. One of the great non-events of the year, for which we may be thankful, though questions were raised at the police handling of the planned but failed second series of blasts on the London tube.

Tory Historian returns with a round-up of recent finds in the historical and archaeological world.

Of greatest interest to TH is this collection of Victorian photographs of golfers playing at St Andrews.

Ladies are pictured wearing enormous frocks and wielding their clubs while spectators look on.

The women were playing for the Ladies' Monthly Medal in September 1884 and the clubhouse can be seen in the background.

The distinctive sandy beach is also shown in some of the snaps of the course that will host the Open Championship later this week.

Other photographs show a match played between a pair of "strangers" and two locals.
The album was auctioned on July 13 by Mullock's Auctioneers at St Andrews as part of a Golfing Memorabilia sale.


Now we need to move further back in history and in the news items. On July 5 it was reported that the earliest illustrated Bible has been found in an Ethiopian monastery and is being preserved by a British charity, the Ethiopian Heritage Fund.

So much for the Garima Gospels, which are beautiful and fascinating. Not to be outdone, the Hebrew University, whose archaeological department is one of the best in the world, has
recently unearthed a clay fragment dating back to the 14th century BCE, said to be the oldest written document ever found in Jerusalem.
It is, indeed, a fragment but its historical significance may well turn out to be very big, indeed.
The minuscule fragment contains Akkadian words written in ancient cuneiform symbols. Researchers say that while the symbols appear to be insignificant, containing simply the words “you,” “you were,” “them,” “to do,” and “later,” the high quality of the writing indicates that it was written by a highly skilled scribe. Such a revelation would mean that the piece was likely written for tablets that were part of a royal household.

The find was uncovered in a fill taken from the Ophel area, which lies between the Old City’s southern wall and the City of David. The Ophel digs are being carried out by Dr. Eilat Mazar of the Hebrew University Institute of Archeology, through funding from US donors Daniel Mintz and Meredith Berkman of New York.

According to Mazar, the fragment was discovered over a month and a half ago during wet sifting of the Ophel excavations, but was only released to the press this week because researchers wanted to wait until analysis of the piece was complete so as to be absolutely certain of the details of the find.

The most ancient piece of writing found in Jerusalem before the Ophel fragment was a tablet unearthed in the Shiloah water in the City of David, dating back to the eighth century BCE – nearly 600 years “younger” than the Ophel find.
That is not all. Nearer home, a huge treasure trove of more than 52,000 coins dating from the third century AD was found by that ever-useful person, a man with a metal detector near Frome in Somerset. Admittedly, the actual find was made in April but it has only just been announced because archaeologists from the British Museum have been working through it and local officials have been making comments about how wonderfully well the scheme they had set up for the finding of local treasures has been working.

In fact, the Portable Antiquities Scheme, as outlined on the British Museum site does seem to be very useful.

Some of the coins will go on display in Frome Library on July 22 and visitors will be able to talk to the man who made the discovery as well as archaeologists from the local Society and from the British Museum. According to the Daily Telegraph, some of the coins will also go on display in the British Museum but there seems to be no trace of that on the BM website.

Then there are the finds that are just beginning in the Baltic Sea. The Nord Stream pipeline that is supposed to bring gas directly from Russia to Germany, by-passing various countries in between, may be a political and environmental nightmare but archaeologists are rejoicing, according to Der Spiegel
The remains of a thousand years of maritime trade, as well as the products of dozens of wars, are crumbling in the mud and silt at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. In addition to items with great cultural and historical value, the depths conceal the rusting remains of poison gas grenades, high explosive shells and aircraft bombs, all of which represent obstacles to pipeline construction. "It was not an easy situation," says Nord Stream spokesman Steffen Ebert. "We were under considerable time pressure."
The Baltic Sea can yield all sorts of interesting objects, even champagne. Swedish divers found about 30 bottles of 220 year old bubbly in a shipwreck off the Island of Aaland.

The Battle of Britain began on July 10, 1940.

The day was characterised by convoy raids off North Foreland and Dover. During the night, the east coast, home counties and western Scotland were attacked. The weather was showery in the southeast and Channel, with continuous rain elsewhere.
Germany was not really in a position to invade though people may be forgiven for thinking so at the time. The Battle of Britain was the first real set-back for the German forces. Let us not forget the non-British who took part in it, particularly the Poles who were not allowed to take part in the Victory Parade fly-past in 1946.



July 7, 2005 London - four suicide bombers blow up three underground trains and a bus

Tory Historian was intrigued to find this quotation from the Economist of May 3, 1845 on the subject of Sir Robert Peel's Bank Charter Act:

It is because we feel strongly that the interference of Parliament, under the pretext of supplying prudence, and regulating the interests and responsibilities of commerce in any way, has always proved a serious failure, and a miserable substitution for that individual caution which it is so well calculated to supplant, that we feel bound to oppose such legislation generally. And particularly so in the present instance, because we believe that the means proposed are calculated to have an opposite tendency: to endanger more the solvency of banks, and very materially and unnecessarily to aggravate the evils arising from commercial revulsions and adverse exchanges, to which a great commercial country must ever be less or more subject.
Tory Historian cannot help wondering whether such words could appear in any media outlet today.

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