Memories of Herbert Asquith

Asquith-as-Chancellor-1907Found among papers at Jot HQ is this carbon copy of an anonymous typescript article on the Liberal Prime Minister H. Herbert Asquith (1852—1928). The author—evidently a Liberal supporter and a great fan of Asquith—reveals various tantalising clues as to his identity, but remains a mystery, despite intensive online research by your constant Jotter.


As he was a junior member of staff at the Home residential school in Heaton Mersey ( a reform establishment ) from 1905 – 1910 and remembers reading in 1907 ‘ a wrong prognostication in a Manchester newspaper, the Daily Despatch ‘  concerning Asquith’s cabinet, he was probably born in the early eighteen eighties. An online site devoted to the school from around 1893 to 1909 does give the names of the teaching staff  during this period, including the Head Teacher  (a Conservative), who took part in ‘ exciting arguments ‘ with our writer on various hot topics of the day , most notably Lords Reform. However, when the names of the teachers were searched for , the results were disappointing. If our Asquith supporter made some sort of name for himself as a teacher or mover of some kind in Manchester or elsewhere, it seemingly wasn’t big enough to figure online. If those in the Jottosphere can make anything of W. M. Powell, Mr Barlow, Mr Mayall, J. W. Ross, Mr Milburn or J. R. Burns, then we at Jot HQ would like to hear from them. What the Asquith supporter has to say on his hero is rather interesting.


He felt that Asquith’s ‘ parliamentary gifts ‘ were equal to those of Gladstone and that the reform of the Lords, against immense opposition,  was his ‘ crowning glory ‘. He revealed that as a young man two of his ambitions were to see Frank Woolley bat for Kent and to hear one of Asquith’s ‘ oratorical triumphs ‘. He fulfilled the first, but was disappointed in the second. However, consolation came in the form of a visit to the City Temple, Holborn, where he heard Asquith deliver an ‘ exquisite ‘ and ‘decidedly witty’ address of ten minutes alongside the Education minister, Donald Maclean. He also conceded that his hero was capable of errors, the most significant of which was his opposition to Proportional Representation, which the first Labour leader, John Burns, had supported. ‘ Had Burns been successful in his quest ‘, our writer declared,’ today there would have been more Liberals in Parliament ‘. A prescient remark, given the long-standing campaign by our present-day Lib Dems ! Continue reading

A. J. Balfour

A good piece from the papers of *L.R. Reeve on A.J. Balfour, as a former U.K. Prime Minister he is the highest ranking subject so far (along with Lloyd George.) As usual Reeve is good on his subject's voice and oratorical skills. Reeve's frequent presence at congresses and symposiums of 'leaders of thought' shows him as an almost Zelig-like figure...He ends on a joke, that if not true, ought to be.

Despite his deceptively ornamental appearance, the late Earl Balfour was a worker. Although his attractive manner was unperturbed and casual, he must have experienced periods of unremitting labour through many months; otherwise he could never have written so many theses and philosophical books, added to political publications, parliamentary labours, constituency engagements and university visits.

   His career as a statesman, philosopher and eminent speaker, is too well known to need emphasizing in great detail, but a few outstanding phenomena regarding his life should never be forgotten.
   In appearance he was probably the most aristocratic representative of his period, and was the greatest asset to the perpetuators of the class system. When in his seventieth year he was the leader of a mission to America in 1917, he was one of the most popular visitors England could have sent at any time, because he increased our prestige and disarmed criticism. I mention "perpetuators". Let me make it clear I am not suggesting that Balfour was a determined fighter to maintain the contemporary status quo. He seemed to be fully aware that in this world of fluctuations, there must be modifications of the class system, and an acknowledgement that injustices should be eliminated until the rights of all people are recognized.
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Snapshot of W.E. Gladstone

Found - a snapshot of W.E. Gladstone (1809 - 1898) the original 'Grand Old Man' (G.O.M.) at his country seat Hawarden Castle.  He was Prime Minister 4 times, resigning finally at the age of 84. At the time of this shot (1877) he was out of office. Written on the back of the photo (found in a book by  W.N.P. Barbellion) is 'Gladstone Centenary, December 29th 1909' (crossed out). Unique photo of late Rt. Hon. W.E. Gladstone taken at Hawarden in 1877.' Under this is a stamp 'E.J. Lavell 115 Bedford Hill, Balham S.W.' This is presumably the shop that processed the photo. An online image search reveals another fuller shot (on flickr) from the same session  revealing that the implement to his right is an axe and showing his straw boater on the ground beside him. There is  a note stating that he was relaxing after chopping wood.