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Herbert ButterfieldHistorian as Dissenter$
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C.T. McIntire

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780300098075

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300098075.001.0001

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General Horizons

General Horizons

(p.78) 4 General Horizons
Herbert Butterfield

C. T. McIntire

Yale University Press

This chapter looks at the time when Butterfield received a resolute offer from an unexpected source. As he recalls the story, the venerable Trevelyan had just read The Whig Interpretation of History and found it disturbing. Trevelyan summoned Vellacott to his rooms in Trinity College. “I am the last Whig historian,” he declared, pacing the room, and asked if the book was directed against him. Vellacott persuaded him it was not. Vellacott would have known that Acton was the target, but he also would have known of Butterfield's paper on Charles James Fox in which he criticized Trevelyan's handling of Fox in Lord Grey of the Reformed Bill. This was the episode that had started him thinking about the problems he eventually discussed in Whig Interpretation. Very soon after Trevelyan and Vellacott talked, two large crates of Fox papers arrived unannounced in Butterfield's rooms in Peterhouse, together with the insistence that Butterfield should write the biography.

Keywords:   resolute offer, Trevelyan, Vellacott, Whig historian, Acton, Charles James Fox

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