This article is from the May issue of Total Politics
My favourite book is probably my well-thumbed copy of The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. It’s the third edition, which I bought with a school prize I was given in 1985.
It’s a book of endless delight and use. Sometimes, it’s possible to spend an age wandering from one quotation to the next. A fantastic cheat’s guide, it allows a smattering of knowledge to go a long way. However, it’s also an introduction to literature and history, which can whet the appetite for more. Over the years, I’ve added newer editions and other books of quotations, but none is as fun. Perhaps it’s familiarity – or the collection of bookmarks (often credit card receipts) stuck in to draw me back to a particular page.
I’ve memorised a few of the quotations, but have flicked through the book often enough to have a store of ideas. Thus today, I was able to use the magnificent lines from Pitt the Elder in relation to Lords amendments on search warrants: “The poorest may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail, its roof may shake; the wind may blow through it; the storm may enter, the rain may enter – but the King of England cannot enter.” How would I ever have known he said this without this magnificent book?
Jacob Rees-Mogg is the Conservative MP for North East Somerset