With all the various court cases going on and complaints about nasty things being said on twitter, it might be worth looking at certain aspects of censorship as practised in 1703. On July 31 of that year Daniel Defoe, the writer, journalist, merchant, probable royal spy and political muckraker was placed in the stocks as punishment for writing a curious pamphlet entitled The Shortest Way With Dissenters.

It is written in the style of existing attacks on Dissenters, attacks that became more frequent and more hostile as Queen Anne succeeded to the throne in 1702. Defoe took those attacks further and ended his pamphlet:

Alas, the Church of England! What with Popery on one hand, and Schismatics on the other, how has She been crucified between two thieves. NOW, LET US CRUCIFY THE THIEVES!

Let her foundations be established upon the destruction of her enemies! The doors of Mercy being always open to the returning part of the deluded people, let the obstinate be ruled with the rod of iron!

Let all true sons of so holy and oppressed a Mother, exasperated by her afflictions, harden their hearts against those who have oppressed her!

And may God Almighty put it into the hearts of all the friends of Truth, to lift up a Standard against Pride and ANTICHRIST! that the Posterity of the Sons of Error may be rooted out from the face of this land, for ever!
The pamphlet caused a great deal of excitement and was eventually decided to be ironic and generally seditious.
This resulted in the issuing of a warrant by the High Tory Secretary of State, the Earl of Nottingham, for the arrest of Defoe on the charge of seditious libel, the order being given to "… make Strict and diligent Search for Daniel Fooe and him having found you are to apprehend and seize together with his Papers for high Crime and misdemeanours and to bring him before me …"

Defoe was finally imprisoned on 21 May 1703 after avoiding his summons and evading capture. He was fined, made to stand in the pillory on three occasions and remained in prison till November; in the meantime, his business affairs sank into ruin. The whole affair left a lasting impression on him, which can be felt in his subsequent writings.

In the years following his arrest and release, Defoe made several attempts to explain The Shortest Way and his own viewpoint. Amongst the series of explanatory pamphlets doing this are An Explanation of a Late Pamphlet, Entituled, The Shortest Way… (1703) and A Dialogue Between a Dissenter and the Observator (1703). In addition, the suspected involvement of the Tory Speaker of the House, Robert Harley, in obtaining the release of Defoe is credited as the beginning of their professional relationship, in which Defoe worked as a propagandist for Harley after he succeeded Nottingham as Secretary of State in 1704.
The pillorying of July 31 did not have the desired effect as the populace threw flowers at him rather than the conventional rotten vegetables and dead cats.

In addition there was a broadsheet published by Thomas Brown in Edinburgh in 1706, entitled A Dialogue Between the Pillory and Daniel Defoe.

The results of the 1945 General Election, in which votes took a long time to count because of the numbers that were still overseas, were declared on July 26: an astonishing though not altogether surprising (if I may use such a paradox) landslide victory for the Labour Party, led by Clement Attlee who, as Deputy Prime Minister during the war, managed to spread many of the party's ideas and create the necessary structures even before he withdrew from the Coalition and demanded and election. This blog has referred to this in a posting on Robert Crowcroft's Attlee's War.

The reasons for that victory were many. Debates about it have gone on since that day and will go on for a long time. These debates and discussions are of importance because they have shaped and will continue to shape Conservative Party politics.

Was it the memory of the "heroes" coming back after the Great War to broken promises? Was it the desire never to repeat the Depression of the early thirties? Was it Churchill's undoubted lack of popularity but how popular was Attlee? Was it the dishonesty of Labour accusing the Conservatives in not seeing the dangers in Hitler's Germany while they and the unions had tried to prevent rearmament as long as they could? Was it the lack of Conservative Party structures as so many active members were still serving one way or another? Was it the lack of Conservative ideology to withstand that of the Labour Party? Or was it simply the regular exhaustion the electorate feels with one party, too long in power? As the saying goes: discuss.


The Conservative History Journal blog is very pleased to be publishing this article about an unjustly neglected Conservative politician and personality. The first Lord Hailsham played an important part in the Conservative Party in the twenties and thirties but has suffered the fate of so many politicians of that period in that attention has been concentrated on the Second World War and the events leading up to it with too many important issues set aside to be dealt with only by a small group of experts. Dr Chris Cooper's article seeks to restore the first Lord Hailsham's place.



The First but Forgotten Lord Hailsham 

Chris Cooper 

Dr Chris Cooper was recently awarded a PhD at the University of Liverpool. He has taught at a variety of higher education institutions and has published a number of articles on different aspects of modern British political history. 

 In the course of the twentieth century only one family succeeded in occupying cabinet posts in Conservative governments over three successive generations. Douglas Hogg served as Minister of Agriculture under John Major from 1995 to 1997 and, as a successful barrister, he must have nurtured hopes of eventually following his father and grandfather by becoming Lord Chancellor. But he did not prosper under subsequent Tory leaders and his career ended in controversy when his claim for cleaning the moat at his country manor-house epitomised the ‘expenses scandal’ of 2009. Douglas’s father, Quintin, was one of the century’s longest serving cabinet ministers. Becoming Harold Macmillan’s Minister of Education in 1957, he finally stepped down as Margaret Thatcher’s Lord Chancellor thirty years later. He came tantalisingly close to the party leadership and premiership when Macmillan resigned in 1963. Though Quintin Hogg, second Viscount Hailsham and, in a later incarnation, Baron Hailsham, died in 2001, he is well remembered for his formidable intellect, passionate oratory and ebullient personality. By contrast, Quintin’s father, also called Douglas, the doyen of this remarkable political family, is a largely forgotten figure. He wrote no memoirs and has yet to be the subject of a full-scale biography.

The rest of this article about the first Lord Hailsham can be read on the second Conservative History Journal blogsite that is reserved for longer pieces.

Last autumn I attended a conference (as I do from time to time) on Dickens and Russia, parts of which were fascinating. Others, mostly profound academic analyses of Dostoyevsky's debt to Dickens considerably less so.

However, one astonishing account to emerge was the story of Dickens's supposed meeting with Dostoyevsky in 1862, first written about by Stephanie Harvey in the The Dickensian in 2002. The story was picked up by the two most recent biographers of Dickens, Michael Slater in 2009 and Claire Tomalin in 2011. However, when American reviews of the biographies started appearing and the meeting between two giants of nineteenth century literature was mentioned, the Dostoyevsky scholars bestirred themselves, asking the obvious question as to why nobody had ever heard of such a momentous event. They also asked what language the two spoke to each other and what on earth was the supposed Kazakh academic journal whence Stephanie Harvey culled her information. At least two of those questions should have been asked by the Dickens biographers but was not.

Anyway, the story became quite farcical with Stephanie Harvey's sister writing a letter to the editor of The Dickensian to tell him that the lady had suffered a near-fatal car crash and could no longer communicate with anyone and lots of egg on everybody's face.

Last week the Guardian published an interview with the perpetrator of the hoax, one A. D. Harvey, whom I actually know or knew in his short stint as the editor of the Salisbury Review. He would hover round the place and propound all sorts of historical facts that he had gleaned in various libraries and archives. I am ashamed to say that I did not appreciate his writings as they tended to be of the "look what I found in this archive" variety with no particular conclusions or analyses.

It now transpires that in all that time Arnold Harvey was engaged in the creation of a number of mythical personalities: writers, poets, historians who would produce articles promoting and and praising each other's work. The Dickens-Dostoyevsky meeting can be described as the most successful of these hoaxes and as Mr Harvey says, if it had not been for American Dostoyevsky students, he would have got away with it. In fact, for many years he did.

Here is the whole story of the uncovering of Arnold Harvey, the latter day James Macpherson who merely "translated" Ossian in some detail in the venerable pages of the TLS. I am afraid I found the story too exquisitely funny to be able to sympathize with Professor Naiman's apparent distaste for A. D. Harvey's behaviour or to accept his pity for the man. In my view Arnold Harvey definitely has the last laugh on all those editors and scholars who blithely published and quoted his spurious writers and historians. Who can be so heartless as not to laugh at the sight of egg on the face of pompous Dickens biographers?

Tory Historian finds on Londonist's excellent blog that the British Library will be celebrating the anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta in excellent style next year:

the four surviving copies of Magna Carta will be united for the first time, marking the 800th anniversary of the landmark legal document’s signing. During a three-day event at the British Library, visitors and scholars will get to see the quartet in one room. Currently, the Library holds two copies, while the others are at Salisbury and Lincoln Cathedrals.
Sadly, it is not clear who and how will be able to view this astonishing exhibition apart from scholars.

A new double biography of those two nineteenth century giants, Gladstone and Disraeli. The Great Rivalry by Dick Leonard is published by I. B. Tauris and concentrates on the rivalry that shaped British politics for several decades. It is not, by any means, the first time the rivalry has been written about and the two men's differing personalities and backgrounds have been covered before. To be fair to the author, Dick Leonard, he says this in the Introduction; why the publisher needs to produce such inaccurate hype is unclear.

My first reaction was that Dick Leonard was an unlikely man to write about these two politicians, he being a Fabian, a former Labour MP and a man who is responsible for the unduly favourable light in which the European Union is viewed by some of this country's media. However, I note that he has written a number of books about British Premiers, most of whom were not and could not be socialists.




And here, just to make a change and have a break from all the rejoicing is the text of Dr Johnson's response to the Resolutions and Address of the American Congress, entitled Taxation is No Tyranny. The great sage, incidentally, was unimpressed by the yearning for liberty by a group of slave owners.

Legislation that gave women the right to vote on the same terms as men received its Royal Assent on July 2, 1928. Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act 1928 is sometimes referred to as the Fifth Reform Act or the Equal Suffrage Act but that is its proper title.

Or so I was reminded by Mike Paterson of London Historians. Two of them died on this day, Spencer Compton, the Earl of Wilmington in 1743 and Sir Robert Peel in 1850 as well as the man who, according to some, should have been Prime Minister, Joseph Chamberlain in 1914 (a good time to go). As against that, one, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, Lord Home of the Hirsel, was born on this day in 1903. You win some and you lose some.

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