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

By Michael Bentley | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 10
The legacy

LANGUAGES

Salisbury's voice endures in his journalism, his speeches, his letters and an assortment of reported remarks. It is a voice with several registers, however, and they have survived neither in equal volume nor with consistent authenticity. The journalism attracts attention for its accessibility and also for its polemical quality. It gives a picture of Lord Robert Cecil's posturings between 1859 and 1865. Yet he disowned in private every page of it, refused to discuss it and regarded it as the necessary frothing of a man made poor. Earnest students who examine it for the 'ideology' of Conservatism or in a search for the inner man thus begin in the wrong place. The texts present a valuable and unusual resource; but they always demand situation and contextual understanding rather than excerpting as the pronouncements of a Carlylean sage. His public speeches, when he could be made to give them, now appear mostly flat and desultory. Compared with the brilliance of a Randolph Churchill or a Chamberlain, they seem ponderous and awkwardly modulated to their audience. Follow him into the House of Lords, on the other hand, and he becomes transformed into the maestro of the red benches: the register shifts appreciably as the intimacies of the chamber he best understood loosen Salisbury's language and tone. Follow him still further to Hatfield and the leather-topped desk, and his voice eases still further in his favourite medium, the private letter to a friend or colleague in which he can play with expression and deploy not only the humour, but also the charm, which other registers sometimes concealed. He was not Baldwin's tutor, assuredly, though he must have come across his father, who was a backbench MP in the 1890s. All the same, he often feels like one making a model for those among his successors who could learn how to rule by cultivating a variety of dialects.

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vi
  • Abbreviations viii
  • Introduction - Situations Vacant 1
  • Chapter 1 - Time 8
  • Chapter 2 - Space 33
  • Chapter 3 - Society 65
  • Chapter 4 - Property 94
  • Chapter 5 - Thought 125
  • Chapter 6 - The State 159
  • Chapter 7 - The Church 188
  • Chapter 8 - The Empire 220
  • Chapter 9 - The Party 251
  • Chapter 10 - The Legacy 295
  • Sources and Further Reading 322
  • Index 327
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