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George Dangerfield, The Strange Death of Liberal England: Language and Sources


The opening sentence in this extract draws a comparison between what happens in the Commons and a play: ‘a curious scene took place’, ‘Mr Asquith was the chief actor in it’. The image is maintained in the next sentence as Dangerfield considers the different audiences Asquith has in mind. He then describes Asquith’s manner of speaking, twice describing him as ‘begging’, first the miners and then Parliament. Much of the central body of the passage comes from Asquith’s own words, preserved in Hansard, the official record of proceedings in Parliament, but Dangerfield manages to take them over by describing the manner in which Asquith delivers them, hesitating between words and speaking in ‘low thick halting tones’. Effectively Dangerfield places the reader in the same position as the MPs, watching the Prime Minister, waiting to see where his speech is going, until that final image that ends both the passage and its chapter section in the book.

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