My brush with history

By Stephen Pollard
November 23, 2009

Michael Gove has a perceptive column about the contrast between Lord Palmerson and the relative pygmies in office today. But it's not his serious point which interests me; it's this:

There are any number of reasons to wish we had Palmerston at the helm. Perhaps
the only British Foreign Secretary to dye his sideburns and father a child
in his sixties after ravishing a housemaid on a billiard table, he is worth
venerating not just for his sheer animal spirits but for the direct line he
took on Abroad — as the Greeks discovered when they allowed an anti-Semitic
mob to run riot in the 1840s. 

No, not the anti-semitism; the reference to the child he fathered. Because in the mid-1990s, I worked in the very room in which it happened.

I used to work at the Social Market Foundation, whose offices in those days were in a house in Queen Anne's Gate - a house which just happened to have belonged to Lord Palmerston. And my own office was up a narrow stairway at the very top of the building, in a room which used to be the housemaid's.

There you go. 


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