Bruce Anderson: Spencer Perceval Deserves Better from Posterity
Bruce Anderson is a British conservative political columnist.
We are approaching the 200th anniversary of the death of a largely forgotten prime minister. Yet it is odd that he should be ignored. Spencer Perceval is unique – our only prime minister to be assassinated – but he has several other claims on our attention.
For a start, he had an interesting and unconventional youth. The younger son of an extravagant earl, he had to make his own way, which he did, as a lawyer. He fell in love with the daughter of a rich businessman, who was unimpressed by the suitor’s lineage and sought to reserve his chick for a rich man. But true love prevailed. On her 21st birthday, Jane climbed out of her father’s drawing-room window and the pair eloped. They began married life in rented lodgings above a carpet shop in Bedford Row. Overcrowding pursued them. Jane Perceval bore 12 surviving children; their Downing Street must have recalled the tale of the old woman who lived in a shoe.
If the elopement makes Perceval sound like a Regency buck, that is an erroneous impression. A committed evangelical, he was profoundly religious (one reason why he hated slavery). He and his fellow-evangelicals believed that his accession to the premiership was an example of divine providence, and his co-religionists were thrown into confusion by his murder: what did the Almighty mean by it all?..
comments powered by Disqus
- Historian author Antony Beevor says his new World War 2 book may anger Americans
- Ron Radosh and Allis Radosh plan to defend Warren Harding in a new book
- Historians tackle America’s mass incarceration problem
- Report: Russian studies in crisis
- Ken Burns: Donald Trump’s birtherism — a “politer way of saying the ‘N-word'” — proves America isn’t remotely “post-racial”