Sunday, 25 October 2009

Stat rosa pristina nomine

George Osborne, the shadow Chancellor whom I do not admire, shares his name with a character in Vanity Fair. This is by choice: he started life as Gideon Osborne but changed his forename to one he liked better.

The memorable fact about Thackeray's George Osborne is that his creator condemned him to meet his end at the Battle of Waterloo "dead with a ball in his odious bowels". That was in a letter Thackeray wrote to his mother; in the novel itself Osborne ends the battle "lying on his face, dead, with a bullet through his heart."

Did George Osborne (the one who changed his name) not know about the odious bowels? Or did he not care?

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