07/07/2018
7 Jul 2018

190th Anniversary issue

7 Jul 2018

190th Anniversary issue

Featured articles

Features
Freddy GrayFreddy Gray
The ‘Stop Trump’ blimps

Last summer, the crowds in the fields at Glastonbury Festival filmed themselves chanting ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’. It was the fashionable political statement of the summer. This year, there’s no Glastonbury — those fields lie fallow — and Corbyn-mania suddenly feels very 2017. Britain’s Instagram-addled middle classes are eager for a substitute form of mass entertainment dressed up as radicalism. How else do you stay cool and smug in this hot weather? The answer, apparently, is to join the protests against Donald J.

The ‘Stop Trump’ blimps
Sam Leith
You can say that

‘There. I said it.’ That phrase, and the attitude it strikes, says something pretty specific. It doesn’t just say: here’s what I think. It says: ‘Here’s what I think, and, you know what? It’s what nobody except me dares to say in public.’ It says: I’m brave. It says: I speak truth to power. It says: here I am on the battlements. It also says: I’m a grade-A chocolate-coated plonker. And though most people are too fly these days, too aware of the lurking threat of Craig Brown, to use that form of words, there’s a good deal of there-I-said-it-ism about these days.

You can say that
Isabel Hardman
Keep off the grass

The autumn squill, Scilla autumnalis, has bright bluebell-coloured starry flowers. It is rare in the British Isles. It is also tiny, so small that most people could easily clodhop straight over it without noticing how lovely it is. I nearly did just that when I went looking for it in Surrey last summer until a kindly local botanist helped me find it flowering away on a grass verge. I went home pleased to have met such a minutely pretty wild flower.

Keep off the grass
Christian Wolmar
False start | 5 July 2018

I was worried that going to the autonomous vehicle exhibition in Stuttgart would be tantamount to an atheist walking into St Peter’s while the Pope was conducting a mass. There is something religious about the fervour with which adherents to the driverless credo practise their faith and promise us a new kingdom. Their proselytising has indeed convinced many. Politicians are making outlandish statements, such as Jesse Norman’s two weeks ago, that ‘Our entire use of roads is to be revolutionised by autonomous vehicles’, and pouring large sums — a promised £180 million so far — into bizarre research projects such as the development of strange robot cars slower than a Reliant Robin and allowed only on pavements in Milton Keynes.

False start | 5 July 2018
Crispin Kelly
Gimme shelter

How we love our homes: we make them cosy and secure, protected from the outside world, defended by locks, bolts and burglar alarms. But we haven’t always had our own private dwellings, and under the invasive influence of the internet, home, as we’ve come to understand it, may well soon be a thing of the past. In early medieval times, a home was often just a basic tenement, a shelter shared with cattle, owned by an employer.

Gimme shelter
Gavin Mortimer
Football, not rugby, is now the gentleman’s game

Most British sports fans are familiar with the maxim that ‘football is a game for gentlemen played by hooligans, and rugby union is a game for hooligans played by gentlemen’. It was coined more than half a century ago by Arthur Tedder, then chancellor of Cambridge University, and for decades the saying stood the test of time: George Best and Gareth Edwards, Paul Gascoigne and Gavin Hastings, John Terry and Jonny Wilkinson.

Football, not rugby, is now the gentleman’s game
More features
David Butterfield
No mere Spectator

Although The Spectator (literally) defined ‘The Establishment’, it has never been its organ. In fact, it was founded as a vehicle for root-and-branch reform that sought from the outset to upend the establishment. Its first editor, the Scottish firebrand Robert Stephen Rintoul, argued that, in spite of the magazine’s pointedly chosen title, ‘It is difficult to be a mere spectator in times like these.

No mere Spectator
The Spectator
The Spectator’s Mission

190 years of The Spectator   5 July 1828   The principal object of a Newspaper is to convey intelligence. It is proposed in The Spectator to give this, the first and most prominent place, to a report of all the leading occurrences of the week. In this department, the reader may always expect a summary account of every public proceeding, or transaction of interest, whether the scene may lie at home or abroad.

The Spectator’s Mission
James Bartholomew
The awful rise of ‘virtue signalling’

190 years of The Spectator   18 April 2015 Go to a branch of Whole Foods, the American-owned grocery shop, and you will see huge posters advertising Whole Foods, of course, but — more precisely — advertising how virtuous Whole Foods is: ‘We are part of a growing consciousness that is bigger than food — one that champions what’s good.’ This is a particularly blatant example of the increasingly common phenomenon of what might be called ‘virtue signalling’ — indicating that you are kind, decent and virtuous.

The awful rise of  ‘virtue signalling’
Simon Sebag Montefiore
Spice girls back sceptics on Europe

190 years of The Spectator   14 December 1996   The Spice Girls were at the time the biggest girl group in the world, their debut album selling 23 million copies. The interview brought the magazine its highest sales figure for a generation Interview the Spice Girls, I thought. But the Spice Girls are interviewed all the time. My interview, however, would be different. I would ask only questions that I would ask Mr Major, Mr Blair, Mr Heseltine or any other politician.

Spice girls back sceptics on Europe
Nicholas Coleridge
The new club of rich young men

190 years of The Spectator   15 March 1986   It is difficult to estimate the number of young investment bankers, stockbrokers and commodity brokers earning £100,000 a year. Perhaps there are only a couple of thousand, but they are so mobile and noisy that they give the impression of being far more numerous. Most are aged between 26 and 34, and two years ago they were being paid £25,000, in some cases even less, until the opening up of the City markets precipitated an epidemic of headhunting and concomitant salaries.

The new club of rich young men
The Spectator
Out – and into the World

190 years of The Spectator   4 June 1975   At no time during the campaign have the opponents of our membership of the EEC been remotely as unbalanced, as hysterical or as deliberately personally insulting as those in the opposite camp. Naturally, as in any vigorously fought campaign, there have been some fibs and half-truths on both sides; and each partisan has looked eagerly at evidence which may have several possible interpretations in order to find material that will support his cause.

Out – and into the World
The Spectator
Sweeping the streets

190 years of The Spectator   6 September 1957 There are two ways of looking at sexual immorality. One is to regard all illicit intercourse as a crime; the other is to regard it as a sin but not as something which concerns the State unless it has obvious anti-social consequences. The first has been out of fashion since the 17th century, when adultery was still a capital offence, and in most civilised countries the second attitude now prevails.

Sweeping the streets
Graham Greene
Ideas in the cinema

190 years of The Spectator   19 November 1937 Not even the newspapers can claim so large a public as the films: they make the circulation figures of the Daily Express look insignificant. The voice of Mr Paul Muni [who stars in The Life of Emile Zola] has been heard by more people than the radio voices of the dictators, and the words he speaks are usually a little more memorable. The words of dictators do not dwell in the brain — one speech is very like another: we retain a confused impression of olive branches, bayonets and the New Deal.

Ideas in the cinema
Donald Hankey
The honour of the Brigade

190 years of The Spectator   11 December 1915   The road was full of troops. Columns of infantry slogged along at the side. Guns and ammunition-wagons thundered down the paved centre. Motor despatch riders flew past with fresh orders for those in rear. The men sucked their pebbles in grim silence. It was no time for grumbling. This meant business. They forgot their fatigue, their thirst, their hunger.

The honour of the Brigade
The Spectator
Review: Mr Oscar Wilde’s poems

190 years of The Spectator   13 August 1881 The reading of this book fills us with alarm. It is evidently the work of a clever man, as well as of an educated man, but it is not only a book containing poems which ought never to have been conceived, still less published, but it is almost wholly without thoughts worthy of the name, entirely devoid of true passion, with very few vestiges even of genuine emotion, and constituted entirely out of sensuous images and pictures strung together often with so little true art that they remind one more of a number of totally different species of blossoms accumulated on the same stem, than of any cluster of natural flowers.

Review: Mr Oscar Wilde’s poems
The Spectator
The duty of England and the American crisis

190 years of The Spectator   1 June 1861 The time has arrived when the national will on the American quarrel ought to be expressed. A party, numerous in Parliament and powerful in the press, is beginning to intrigue for the recognition of the South. They are aided by the fears of the cotton dealers, who dread an intermission of their supplies, by the anxiety of commercial men, who see their best market summarily closed, and by the abiding dislike of the aristocracy for the men and manners of the North.

The duty of England and the American crisis
The Spectator
The country gentleman and the Corn Laws

190 years of The Spectator   14 January 1843   The country gentlemen of England never committed a greater blunder than when they passed the Corn Law of 1815. If they would but allow themselves to examine dispassionately their own objects, they could scarcely fail to discover this, and also the necessity of retreating as speedily as possible from the false position in which they then placed themselves.

The country gentleman and the Corn Laws
The Spectator
To our non-political readers

190 years of The Spectator   21 May 1831   Lucretius tells us, in some famous lines, that it is a pleasant thing to watch the sea in a tempest, from the shore: it is a far more gratifying employment to be throwing out Manby’s lifesaving apparatus, and saving the sinking mariners from the wreck. We have more than once observed, that it is difficult to be a mere spectator in times like these. It is all very well, in the piping times of domestic content, to sit still and report progress; but when, as in the great business of Reform, everything is at stake, it is the duty of even neutrals to arm.

To our non-political readers
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