December dates

Posted by Tory Historian Monday, December 17, 2007

Tory Historian feels a little overwhelmed by the number of important dates in December that have not been noted on this blog. Let us have a go at making up for lost time.

The first one is the death of Henry I from a surfeit of lampreys on December 1, 1135. This is not specifically conservative news but is of importance in its influence on that great history text book "1066 and All That" as well as on Dame Ngaio Marsh who produced a seriously daft novel of that title in 1941.

December 2 is the anniversary of something far more important - the opening in, 1697, of Sir Christopher Wren's masterpiece, the new St Paul's Cathedral, one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, seen above in the iconic World War II photograph.

Of course, one of the problems with dates before the Calendar Act of 1751 is that we do not know how accurate they are but we have to assume that these dates have been adjusted.

Moving right along, we come to a more ambiguous date. On December 6, 1921 (St Nicholas Day) the Irish Free State was created. Cue, methinks for an argument about the Irish Question.

Then we come to the most important date of all from a conservative historian's point of view. December 7, 1783, William Pitt the Younger became Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer at the age of 24. Was he, perhaps, the greatest British Prime Minister? This blog will have to have a competition on that subject. How many votes will our readers give Pitt the Younger, Disraeli, Churchill, Thatcher or sundry others, I wonder. Should we allow the likes of Gladstone, on the grounds that he is unlikely to be Lib-Dem or Labour nowadays?

December 9, 1608 saw the birth of John Milton, one of the greatest English-language poets in a literature that is filled with wonderful writers and poets. It is words that the Anglosphere excels in, though there are more gret English artists and musicians than some people allow. (Another posting on that subject will follow.)

One of those great writers, Jane Austen, who has already figured on this blog, was born on December 16, 1775.
Then there are a couple of dates in American history, of importance to the whole of the Anglosphere. On December 16, 1773, some colonists over the Pond boarded three ships in Boston harbour and emptied the tea over board. Known as the Boston Tea Party, it was, of course, a tax riot and was to lead to important developments just three years later.

On December 15, 1791 the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, are incorporated into that document. Their sole purpose is to protect individual rights and liberties from possible government encroachment.

Let us end on science and engineering. On December 12, 1955 Christopher Cockerell patented his new invention, the hovercraft.

And today, December 17 is the anniversary of the birth in 1778 of Sir Humphrey Davy, inventor of the safety lamp for miners, who also discovered sodium, magnesium, calcium, barium and strontium.

Not too bad for one month that is not finished yet.

Then again, one cannot really leave the subject without quoting a couple of clerihews about two of the people mentioned above.

Sir Christopher Wren
Said "I am going to dine with some men.
"If anybody calls,
"Say I am designing St Paul's"
Sir Humphry Davy
Abominated gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium
Many more where those came from.

1 Responses to December dates

  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. Worth reflecting on what makes a great Prime Minister. Balfour thought it was the ability to use words and certainly communication is the mark of successful political leaders. But surely a track record of a successfulPrime Ministership needs more than good government. As for Gladstone, enough of his toryism survived (Ireland apart) to keep him in the frame.

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