Amazing Grace: The Great Days of Dukes
"A fully-equipped duke costs as much to keep up a two Dreadnoughts. They are just as great a terror and they last longer". So said David Lloyd George, the fiery Welsh duke-baiter in 1909. "Amazing Grace" surveys the dukes of Great Britain in their prime, chiefly in the 18th and 19th centuries. Dukes were expected to bring something extra to the grand manner, writes E.S. Turner, "something which unmistakably conveyed that here was a man who owned Belgravia or Eastbourne or Ben Lomond". He offers an anecdote led study of "godhead, eccentricity, noblesse oblige, self-indulgence and landlordism"; but his eye for the outrageous does not prevent him from paying tribute to those dukes to whom humanity has been much indebted. In these pages can be found a Duke of Somerset who cut #20,000 from a daughter's inheritance because she sat down while he slept; an heir to the Duke of Richmond who embarked on the Grand Tour within minutes of contracting a marriage of convenience with a Georgette Heyer-like conclusion; and a Duke of Northumberland who defiantly assured a Coal Commission that he owned all the minerals in his lands right down to the centre of the earth.
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