Bruce Anderson: Spencer Perceval Deserves Better from PosterityRoundup: Talking About History
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
- Theodore Lowi, Zealous Scholar of Presidents and Liberalism, Dies at 85
- What LT. Gen. H.R. McMaster will offer as new national security adviser
- Fareed Zakaria hails historian Nigel Hamilton’s series as the memoir FDR never had the opportunity to write
- French Historian Says He Was Threatened With Deportation at Houston Airport
- McMaster knows how national security policy can go wrong. Will that help him?