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Dr Leslie Mitchell is a leading British authority on 18th century history.

Mitchell is historian and Emeritus Fellow of University College and a member of the History Faculty at the University of Oxford, England.[1] He has been Dean of the college, appeared in the Univ Revue, and was editor of the University College Record, an annual publication for former members of the college. Mitchell is counted among a talented generation of post-war historians, including Maurice Keen, Sandy Murray and Henry Mayr-Harting.

Contents

Books

Reception to 'Bulwer Lytton: The Rise and Fall of a Victorian Man of Letters'

  • Kathryn Hughes (The Guardian): 'Leslie Mitchell has organised his book along thematic lines. This allows him to sidestep the deadening effects of a linear narrative and to bury in the background the kind of relentless detail that can make reading biography such a slog. It also means that Lytton springs to life from the very first chapters, which concentrate on the relationships with his ghastly mother and peculiar wife. The downside is, inevitably, a certain loss of coherence. This, though, is a small price to pay. Mitchell has a kind eye for this curious man, who now, on the second centenary of his birth, needs not simply an introduction, but a whole book to explain who he once was.'

Reception to 'The Whig World'

  • Kathryn Hughes (The Guardian): 'In 10 wonderful chapters, as fluid and generous as anything that Macaulay or Trevelyan ever wrote, Mitchell sets about describing a tone, a temper and a style that was emphatically Whig. He takes us from those great "power statements in stone" of Chatsworth or Woburn Abbey to the buffing and polishing that went on during the grand tour, only reluctantly and temporarily abandoned thanks to a little unpleasantness in Paris; we visit languorous Lord Melbourne, Queen Victoria's earliest crush, who believed that parliamentary reform was probably inevitable, although he couldn't be bothered to read the detailed clauses of various bills. The result is an elegant exposition of a way of being that informed, without directing, let alone controlling, some of the most important social and political developments of the second half of the Georgian period.'

Selected quotations from 'The Whig World'

  • 'If Parliament is controlled by public opinion, and that public opinion is moulded by an international media, who then effectively governs?'
  • 'Living with the Whigs for the whole of a professional career has been very congenial…Lecture audiences and pupils in tutorials have patiently listened to the stories, often laughed in the right places, and have exercised a sobering restraint on undue enthusiasm'.
  • Guizot to Lord Melbourne: 'Les dispositions du Gouvernement du Roi a l'egard de la Grande Bretagne sont aussi bienveillants, aussi conciliantes qu'a aucune epoque.'
  • 'Charles X was 'a Hypocrite', or 'that old idiot', or 'a bigoted superstitious and wicked Ultra prince.' He and his brother were natural persecutors, who, left to their own devices, would have preferred a massacre of their liberal and Bonapartist opponents.'
  • 'By calling the Glorious Revolution 'that modern Magna Carta', Whigs neatly gave historical context to these events. The barons of 1215 and the Whigs of 1688 were warriors in the same battle. It was 'Glorious' because it was bloodless, and it was bloodless because it was 'not effected by an indignant and enraged multitude, but was slowly prepared by the most virtuous and best informed amongst the higher and enlightened classes of people, who took prudent and effectual steps for securing its success without bloodshed…These were the Whigs of England at the Revolution.'
  • 'So who were 'the people' in a Whig vocabulary? Who were these paragons for whose benefit all legitimate government existed? … When Whigs talked about 'the people' in the context of civil rights, they referred to everyone. When the same words were used in association with political rights, they meant only people like themselves. Confusion between the two was always possible, not least in the minds of their opponents, but context was everything.'
  • 'So Whiggery died unmourned by either Tory or Radical. The first thought that they had received their just deserts and the latter showed no gratitude. Yet Britain's march towards full democracy was slower than in any other European country and more moderated.'

References








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