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8 August 2013updated 26 Sep 2015 12:17pm


By Stephen Brasher

George William Erskine Russell was a Liberal MP for Aylesbury (1880-85) and Biggleswade (1892-95). In 1906, he wrote Social Silhouettes, pen portraits of contemporary “types”. Many were political, including “the candidate for parliament” who should “have his hair cut short and neatly brushed” unless he wants to elicit cries of: “Keep your ’air on!”

Then there was the “middle-aged MP” who “must realise his oratory will never be reported except in the Little Peddlington Gazette” and “opens the bazaar for the restoration of the parish church on the second day – the first has been assigned to the lord lieutenant”.

“The carpetbagger” is “dogged by the ungracious suspicion that he has an axe of his own to grind or a log to roll”. His “opinions are of the haziest. The carpet bag is often a wind bag.”