Letter: Turn of the year

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Ted Hughes said: "Before us stands yesterday." So it does, but what if we choose to ignore it?

Throughout 1998 we have seen fit to dismiss the 350th anniversary of 1648, the climactic year of the English Revolution: the Second Civil War, the defeat of Stuart absolutism, Pride's Purge and the creation of cabinet government in the Council of State. It was the year that set the pattern for the American and French revolutions. Bunyan said of its message: "Until you know this you are to yourselves unknown."

There may be some remedy at hand. The new year is the 400th anniversary of Cromwell's birth and the 350th of the end of Charles I, to be marked by an exhibition at the Museum of London. Into both we can read the deeper constitutional significance of 1648.


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