November 28 is a double anniversary. In 1919 the first woman MP actually to take up her seat in the House of Commons was elected. Nancy Astor contested the seat of Plymouth South after her husband had succeeded to the title and went up to the House of Lords. She beat the Liberal candidate, Isaac Foot and, as the left-wing Spartacus Educational reminds us, her victory annoyed many professed feminists as she was definitely not one of them and a Conservative to boot. Also an American but she had made her home in Britain.
There have been previous postings about Thanksgiving and its significance both for the United States and the Anglosphere in general. (here, here and here)
This time Tory Historian brings to the notice of all the First Thanksgiving Proclamation - June 20. 1676. This was not, as it happens, the first celebration of Thanksgiving, which took place in 1621, to celebrate a bountiful harvest. Interestingly, it was not till 1942 that the exact timing of Thanksgiving - last Thursday in November - was fixed by Federal law.
A generation of children knows virtually nothing about British history and leaves school "woefully under-nourished", Education Secretary Michael Gove warned today.Even if they happen to have heard of those particular facts they rarely have an idea of which of them came first as history is taught, if at all, in bits and unrelated pieces. Time, surely, to take the problem seriously. Perhaps, my idea of setting up a school or college that taught only history to all those who are willing to pay should be thought about more seriously.
Even university students studying the subject are failing to recall basic historical facts, he said. Mr Gove said that around half of young people were unaware that Nelson led the British to victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, or that the Romans built Hadrian's Wall.
As it happens there were two events of some importance on that day, both deaths, though the immediate reporting for many days, weeks, months and, it sometimes feels, even years, has concentrated on one: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Tory Historian is a great supporter of the London Library, which is described by Wikipedia, probably accurately, as "the world's largest independent lending library, and the UK's leading literary institution".
1841: As The London Library was founded in 1841 we've been taking a look at other significant literary events that took place in the same year and as well as being busy founding The London Library, Thomas Carlyle published On Heroes, Hero Worship and the Heroic in History. Another early supporter of the Library, Charles Dickens, published The Old Curiosity Shop. In the same year Punch magazine was founded in London and Horace Greeley began publication of the New York Tribune.Hmmm.
All one can add is that the library's history collection is magnificent but nothing can beat the Reading Room and its extraordinarily comfortable armchairs. Warning: do not sink into them if you do not wish to fall asleep.
And why not? Pubs, in their many manifestations (yes, inns and public houses have changed over the centuries), are an intrinsic part of British history, different in different parts of the country.
The Duke of Wellington, one of Tory Historian's heroes was a considerably more important politician (as well as an overwhelmingly important military commander) than TH had been led to believe at school. He was also a man who was admired unstintingly by all except the Radicals (and even they inclined to some admiration).
Sadly, none of that is true and Tory Historian needs to rethink everything read in those textbooks and heard in the lessons. It would appear that the Duke did have a great deal of political aptitude and a very good understanding of European affairs as well as a great fear (like most military men) of another European war. He was central to British politics for many years after Waterloo and went on serving as a public servant almost until the day of his death. Many of his political judgements were considerably more intelligent and penetrating than those of people on the other side who were the heroes of those long-ago school lessons.His funeral on November 18, 1852 "caused as much of a stir in the mass media of 1852 as did Sir Winston Churchill's in the middle of the twentieth century". This link will lead to a list of references and illustrations in contemporary Illustrated London News. Here is a brief account of the funeral - it was the last heraldic state funeral held in Britain.
Viscount Castlereagh has never been given his full due by his own countrymen, argues Professor Bew in this article. There is, he says, an attempt to make him sound entirely relevant to the modern age but that is wrong, too.
The truth is that Castlereagh can be understood only as a product of the time in which he operated, rather than as a bearer of any timeless insights. Nonetheless, as his descendant, the Marchioness of Londonderry, argued in 1904, he was not ‘the old-fashioned Tory that ignorant opinion supposes’. Often presented as the enemy of Enlightenment, he travelled widely in Europe, read a broad range of literature and eschewed the anti-Catholicism of many of his peers in England and Ireland. He was convinced that the only approach that government could take towards religion was one of toleration and that each man had the right to make his peace with God on his own terms. True, he was an enemy of political reform, but this was because of the dangers of mob politics which he saw first-hand in Paris during the French Revolution and Ireland during the rebellion of 1798.Professor Bew's own book will undoubtedly put the matter right. Well, we hope so, anyway.
Thus Castlereagh’s mind was conservative and enlightened at the same time – and no less the one for being the other. ‘I think those people who are acquainted with me,’ he told the House of Commons in 1817, ‘will do me justice to believe that I never had a cruel or unkind heart.’
Tory Historian was delighted to read this item in the Daily Telegraph a few days ago.
RJ Balson and Sons, a butchers based in Bridport, Dorset, boasts an astonishing history that is almost 500 years old.The business has expanded and is thriving.
Experts have traced the businesses roots back through 25 generations to when founder John Balson opened a stall in the town's market on South Street in 1535.
Since then dozens of family members have worked as butchers in the market town, passing their skills down the generations.
And 476 years later, the shop remains a thriving business and has been named Britain's oldest family run retailer.
It has been in its present location since 1880, not far from its orginal location.One can but hope that the account books have been preserved somewhere for all the centuries. What a mine of fascinating information they would be.
According to the Institute for Family Business, this makes it the oldest continuously trading family business in Britain.
The firm sells its produce, including 20 varieties of sausages such as els, boar and ostrich,l all over the world, with a large customer base in America.
It also sells exotic fare such as pheasants and guinea fowl but has remained close to its traditional roots.
I am planning to have a series of articles about detective fiction on this site as it is, in my opinion, the most conservative of all genres, a proposition that I shall argue at a later date. As ever, this is also an appeal to readers: if there is anybody out there who is thinking of writing anything about a detective story or thriller writer or about the genre or any part of it in general, do please send it to me and I shall put it up on this site and publicize it as well as I can.
To start with I should like to quote P. D. James, possibly the best known and most highly regarded writer of detective fiction in Britain and other countries at present. A couple of years ago she wrote a slim volume (unlike her most recent novels, which are not just fat but obese) about the genre as a whole. I intend to write about this book as it is of interest to anyone who is interested in the genre and in conservative ideas. For the moment, however, I should like to quote two paragraphs that appear towards the end and sum up the subject:
And here in the detective story we have a problem at the heart of the novel, and one which is solved, not by luck or divine intervention, but by human ingenuity, human intelligence and human courage. It confirms our hope that, despite some evidence to the contrary, we live in a beneficent and moral universe in which problems can be solved by rational means and peace and order restored from communal or persona disruption and chaos.One can but hope. We are sadly in need of some sort of a Golden Age.
And if it is true, as the evidence suggests, that the detective story flourishes best in the most difficult of times, we may well be at the beginning of a new Golden Age.