Monday, 17 February 2014

They droned on about this in High School .... but now

It was about fifty five years ago that a history teacher at Fairfield Grammar School  (equivalent to an American High School) droned on and on about the Reform Act for England and Wales of 1832.  (Similar Acts for Ireland and Scotland were passed later).

Reform Act  blah blah blah
King William IV blah blah blah
Lord Grey, Lord John Russell blah blah blah
The Duke of Wellington blah blah blah
Whigs and Tories  blah blah blah

Blah, drone, bored, why do I need to know this stuff.

All these years later I have been fascinated to read about the high drama and low skullduggery which surrounded the debates about this Act in both Houses of Parliament.

This fascination was birthed by reading

"Perilous Question === Reform or Revolution?  Britain on the Brink"   (Public Affairs Books,  USA, or  Weidenfeld and Nicholson,  Great Britain) 2013.   by the superb author Antonia Fraser.

I wrote a bit yesterday about Spencer Perceval (the younger) and his objections to the Act.

Today, and for the next three days I will give you "tasters" from the book  -  which I hope you will want to buy or borrow.

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 (Following the dissolution of Parliament by William IV)

Page 111

“ Queen Adelaide (a Tory sympathizer) was questioned by William’s twelve year old nephew, Prince George of Cambridge, who had gleaned that something exceptional had happened. “What has the King done?” he asked anxiously, “Has he not done something odd? Queen Adelaide responded with dignity: "The King can do odd things”

 

Page 112  Re: King William's Dissolution of Parliament.

“Certainly the incident added to the enormous popularity of William IV. The very different stages in his feelings were hidden from his grateful subjects as they hallooed their joy. Much was  made of the happy coincidence of the King’s nickname – ‘Vote for the Two Bills’ was a favoured cry. 
John Doyle produced an amusing drawing of the King, unmistakable with his stout figure and turnip-like face, gazing at a wall on which were the words “The Bill and nothing but the Bill”:  William asked ‘Is that me?’"

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