Tory Historian found this news of enormous interest. The diary of Abdul Karim, Queen Victoria's much loved munshi, was not destroyed despite Edward VII's almost paranoid desire to burn everything to do with his mother's relationship with Karim and with John Brown. It was kept by his family through good times and bad and has now been handed over to Shrabani Basu, author of Victoria and Abdul. The book, revised in the light of new information, will be very well worth reading.
Tory Historian is bemused. On the one hand, Professor Simon Schama, broadcaster, author of very popular history books and Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University, says that there should be no cuts in the state funding of arts subjects like history because if there are only rich people will be able to study history at university.
Tory Historian was quite excited by the prospect of a film about George VI, the Abdication Crisis and the beginning of the Second World War. All these events were within living memory (still) but, because of the lack of historical teaching in schools, are not as well known as they ought to be. A viewing was in order as soon as possible and a few subsequent discussions. Tory Historian has been somewhat discouraged both by the film and, especially, by the discussions. Sentimentality seems to overwhelm the need or desire to study history.
Tory Historian is most apologetic about the prolonged silence and promises a return to posting. Incidentally, TH is thinking of changing the format of this blog and turning it into more of an on-line magazine that would cover the same or similar subjects but with more outside contribution and more variation in length and shape of articles. Any suggestions from people of greater technological knowledge are very welcome.
According to Andrew Roberts, our leading conservative historian, the 3rd Marquess of Salisbury did not think so. In his magisterial biography of the great man he says after writing of the Cecil family's holiday home in France:
Salisbury was never a believer in tourism per se, perversely thinking that 'the more the faciliteis of travelling bring the two nations into contact the less goodwill is likely to be generated'. Other than the occasional visit to a Swiss spa town for his health, and one diplomatic mission to Constantinople, he never travelled beyond France, Germany and Italy in the last fifty years of his life.This raises a few questions. Firstly, is that opinion really perverse? We generally assume that if people go from their own to other countries a lot then there will be more friendly feeling between all these countries and peoples. Is that really so? Do we or anybody else feel particularly well-disposed towards hordes of tourists? Do people who endlessly travel round, boasting of the number of places they have been to, know anything of those places or leave happy memories behind them whatever they may carry away?
Secondly, one can't help comparing Salisbury's attitude to the modern insistence that political leaders should always be visiting different countries for vaguely defined puposes. As it happens the young Lord Robert Gascoyne-Cecil had travelled to various parts of the world, such as Australia and did not carry away particularly good impressions. Clearly, he did not consider that it was in any way necessary for the Secretary for India, the Foreign Secretary or the Prime Minister to visit many other countries though Britain at the time was undoubtedly a world power or, even the world power. Did this attitude and behaviour in any way prevent him from carrying out his tasks well? Can we honestly say that his much-travelled successors are better at their jobs than he was?
I entreat honourable Gentlemen opposite not to believe that my feelings on this subject are dictated simply by my hostility on this particular measure, though I object to it most strongly, as the House is aware. But, even if I took a contrary view - if I deemed it to be most advantageous, I still should deeply regret that the position of the Executive should have been so degraded as it has been in the present session: I should deeply regret to find the House of Commons has applauded a policy of legerdemain; and I should, above all things, regret that this great gift to the people - if gift you think it - should have been purchased at the cost of a political betrayal which has no parallel in our Parliamentary annals, which strikes at the root of all that mutual confidence which is the very soul of our party Government, and on which only the strength and freedom of our representative institutions can be sustained.
Tory Historian has been delving into the debates within the Conservative Party that took place in the early years of the twentieth century. There is a much to say on the subject but, at present, here is another quotation from National Revival by Arthur Boutwood, though published anonymously as Mr Boutwood was a low-ranking civil servant and was not allowed to express political opinions.
Attachment to certain relatively permanent elements in the existing order of thins, an inclination to make the new organically continuous with the old, a consciousness which seems to itself national rather than sectional, - these may fairly be said to be characteristic of Conservatism. Stability that does not prevent change, reform by amendment rather than by supersession, the nation rather than the class or group, - these seem to be the charateristically Conservative preferences.It has been said, particularly by no less a person than E.H.H.Green, that Mr Boutwood's ideas are often incoherent and contradictory. Tory Historian thinks that this paragraph is one of the better examples of Mr Boutwood's writing.