Lord Salisbury's World: Conservative Environments in Late-Victorian Britain

Lord Salisbury's World: Conservative Environments in Late-Victorian Britain

Lord Salisbury's World: Conservative Environments in Late-Victorian Britain

Lord Salisbury's World: Conservative Environments in Late-Victorian Britain

Synopsis

Lord Salisbury (1830-1903) is now a subject of intense historical attention. But while other scholars have chosen to present biographies of him, this important and accessible new study moves away from the conventional "life" and reconstructs the thought-world of late-Victorian Conservatives for the first time. In doing so it provides a new location within which Victorian politics and Salisbury himself can be evaluated. The book will therefore be essential reading for anyone interested in British political ideas.

Excerpt

For the Cecils – or 'Sissels', as they pronounced themselves until quite recently – the historical clock ticks evenly but slowly. They have maintained a presence in British history, sometimes national in their importance, sometimes provincial, since their rise to grandeur through the political careers of Elizabeth I's minister, William Cecil, Lord Burghley (1520–98) and his son Robert, first Earl of Salisbury (1563–1612). the twin genealogies descending from William Cecil's two marriages, one of them issuing in earls and marquises of Salisbury, the other in earls and marquises of Exeter, come down to the present and reflect chronologies no less different than the competing clusters that make up the two wings of the family. Rarely have Exeters captured headlines; the tempo of their existence in the great house at Burghley, near Stamford, has a certain regularity of pulse with a quickening in the late seventeeth century when the socalled Little Bedlam Club brought some society and a certain drunken panache to the house. the Salisburys took a different curve: powerful in the later sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, quiescent during the eighteenth century, rising to major prominence in the subject of this book, Robert, the third Marquis, and then continuing their serious political and social importance until half way through the twentieth century. in our own century, the Exeters of Burghley have become ghosts wandering the corridors of their property on the occasions when they visit from Canada. the Cecils of Hatfield House still live there and maintain a social cachet reflected in London Clubs (anathema to the third Marquis) and Lord Cranborne's Conservative leadership of the House of Lords until the spaniel in him brought it to a spectacular end at the hands of Mr William Hague. This distended sense of time within one of the . . .

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