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Midlands in 1469 did he show any signs of more than ordinary generalship. As for more peaceful administration, he never had a air opportunity of proving whether he possessed capacity in this direction or not. But he had a strenuous and vigorous personality which made him a great force in anything that he undertook. On a pinch he could turn sailor, and handle a ship in stormy weather, with as much confidence and energy as he showed in battle or at the councilboard. With this talent, and with estates in half England at his back, it is not surprising that he could turn the scale between the Red Rose and the White. At the same time it is fair to acknowledge that he was not the unprincipled turncoat which one is apt vaguely to imagine him to have been. Mr. Oman makes it clear that he only changed his allegiance once, and that under great and deliberate provocation from the prince whom he had seated on the throne. In conclusion, Mr. Oman is to be congratulated on having produced the first biography of the Kingmaker, and on a very able monograph on an almost untouched period of English history.
2. Mr. Julian Corbett, on the other hand, has for his subject the story of one of the most famous men and of perhaps the most brilliant period in the country's annals; but it is a story of which Englishmen will never grow tired. Mr. Corbett rightly remarks that the narrative of Drake's exploits is aglow with a romance which has affected all that have to tell it. 'The soberest chroniclers reeled with unscholarly gait as they told the tale, and the most dignified historians made pedantic apology for the capers they felt forced to cut. From his cradle to his grave the story is one long draught of strong waters, and the very first sip intoxicates.' Certainly his latest biographer has not escaped this intoxication, and his narrative continually suggests the novelist rather than the chronicler. Mr. Corbett seems to forget that he is not writing a story, but a history. Doubts as to the facts and questionings as to the motives of the chief actors are put aside. He would have us believe that he has fathomed the depths of Burleigh's statecraft and tracked the windings of Elizabeth's policy. Above all, he knows the feelings, the hopes, fears, inspirations, suspicions, which filled the mind of Drake at every moment of his career.
The narrative does not gain by this treatment. Drake's achievements—as indicated in some previous pages of the present Number —have romance enough of their own without being narrated in the style of a novel. The man who surprised Nombre de Dios with seventy-three followers; who raided Valparaiso and Lima and took the great treasure galleon; who sailed the first English ship into the Pacific and round the world; who captured Cartagena and made the whole of Spanish America dread the sound of his name; who singed the King of Spain's beard at Cadiz and tore his Armada to pieces at Gravelines, is more impressive when his deeds are narrated soberly and historically than when they are presented in a manner which forces us to remember that, after all, even Drake had his failings, and that there were many good men among his fellows. The air of certainty with which even the minutest details and the obscurest motives are recorded makes the reader doubtful as to where the biographer is relating established facts, and where he is drawing on his imagination. Take, for instance, the most obscure and unpleasant action in Drake's career—the execution of his friend Doughty during his voyage round the world. Mr. Corbett professes to know that Burleigh had deliberately instructed Doughty to wreck the enterprise, and that Drake frustrated the plot; but if Mr. Corbett has any evidence for his assertion it is a pity he does not publish it, and, meanwhile, it is hardly fair to let his readers suppose that this mysterious affair is as clear and certain as the details of the battles in the Channel in the summer of 1588.
In spite, however, of these defects of style, the narrative of Drake's career cannot fail to absorb the interest of the reader. The record of the deeds by which he astounded his countrymen, and still more his enemies, is put before us in picturesque, if somewhat too florid, detail; and it is the story of a period which is perhaps the most splendid, and certainly the most romantic, in English history. It must stir the blood of any Englishman to read again the exploits of the men who assailed the colossal empire of Spain and riddled its strength by their desperate, almost incredible, daring; who averted from their country the most dangerous storm with which it was ever threatened ; who won for England the empire of the sea, which she has never since lost. And of these men the foremost and the most active, the most desperate and the most successful, was Francis Drake.
The Curate of Rigg: a Sketch of Clerical Life, taken behind the Scenes. By W. H. H. (London: Griffith, Farran, Okeden, and Welsh, n.d.)
The preface of this book states that it is not a novel, but a sketch of real life, in which only the names are altered, while the facts are real and are truly related. Its object is to set out the persecution to which a certain curate was subjected by a prominent and influential parishioner, which resulted, at the end of fourteen years, in his being dismissed by his rector, although the latter admitted that no charge had been substantiated against him. The story is written in the third person, but it is not unjustifiable to assume that the author is the curate himself. It is, necessarily and avowedly, an ex parte statement, and all that can be said is that, on the face of it, the curate appears to have been hardly used. The concluding chapter, however, raises a point of more general interest. The author th1nks that the curate was badly treated by the bishop of the diocese in not being presented to a living to compensate him for the loss of his position in the parish in which he had worked so long ; and he takes occasion to complain of the hard case of those curates who, for whatever reason, fail to obtain livings, and who, consequently, when they reach an age beyond that at which rectors are generally willing to receive a curate, are reduced to very serious straits for their subsistence. This is surely a real defect in the organization of the Church. Not all curates can become rectors or vicars; not all curates, it may be added, are fit to become rectors or vicars; but they have given their work to the Church, and some provision should be made by which they may be pensioned off when they reach an age at which there is no further demand for their services as curates. If a man has not misused his position as a minister in the Church, and if he falls out of the race merely for want of intellectual ability, or tact, or administrative capacity, although the individual in question may not be personally attractive or likely to win active sympathy, the Church, which has accepted his services until a time at which he can no longer turn to any other means of earning a livelihood, should at least provide him a decent maintenance. With this plea (which the author of The Curate of Rigg words somewhat differently) it is to be hoped that most people would agree, though they may not be interested in the main story of the book, which, it must be admitted, is not presented with any literary power, and does not always carry the reader's sympathy along with the writer.
Social Questions of To-day. 1. Trade Unionism, New and Old. By George Howell, M.P. (London: Methuen and Co., 1891.)
It is usual for reviewers to utter a groan over the appearance of a new 'series;' but perhaps in reality it is only those misguided persons who take in every book of a series, regardless of its contents or quality, who suffer from the fact that a number of works on somewhat kindred subjects are issued in similar bindings and at the same price. A book must stand or fall on its own merits, whether it belongs to a series or not, and a failure in one work is not the less so because several of its fellows may be brilliant successes. Therefore we are not distressed at the appearance of the series issued under the auspices of Messrs. Methuen, of which the volume before us is the first. Social and economical questions are undoubtedly the most pressing problems which confront the public men of to-day, and the only way in which a satisfactory solution can be obtained of the difficulties which this generation has to meet is by the diffusion of information on the subjects in question, and the creation of a healthy public opinion in respect of them. The volume with which the series opens deals with that aspect of the labour problem which has been most before the public for the last eighteen months, and in this respect the choice of the subject is a wise one. On the other hand, a question of immediate contemporary interest is apt to be treated too much from the position which the writer takes with reference to the passing incidents of the day, and Mr. Howell's book suffers, we think, from this cause. Mr. Howell, writing as a representative of the 'old' Trade Unionism (though he resents the halfcontemptuous application of this epithet to a movement which only took shape forty years ago), is very sore at the treatment which those who agree with him have received at the hands of the 'new' Unionism. Especially does he fall foul of the decisions of the late Trades Union Congress, in which the new Unionists obtained a majority on many of the questions raised, and passed resolutions displaying an almost childish impracticability coupled with a touching belief in the efficacy of State interference. Mr. Howell holds strong opinions on these subjects, and the result is a distinctly polemical tone, which is unsuited to a volume intended to serve as an introduction to the subject for the general reader.
With the principles laid down by Mr. Howell we, for the most part, agree cordially. We agree with him that the position of labour throughout the country—not to say throughout the world—requires to be improved. We agree with him that State interference is at once the clumsiest and the most dangerous way of arriving at any end which can be attained by individual effort. Consequently we agree with him that the true way to arrive at the end desired in this case is for labour to combine in order to exert its voice more effectually. But we also agree with him that this combination must not be effected by intimidation, and that the less violence the unions display, whether towards non-Unionists or employers, the better for the cause which they wish to promote. The older unions answer these conditions, for the most part, very sufficiently, and they promote the welfare of their members in a multitude of ways quite unconnected with strikes or labour conflicts, by means of the various provident agencies established by them. The new unions differ from the old in more respects than one. They incorporate unskilled labour in place of skilled; and with this there is no fault to be found, since the position of unskilled labour requires to be raised as well as that of skilled labour. Further, they are essentially fighting unions, and have little or no organisation for other purposes, such as provident insurance. Finally, they—or, at any rate, their prominent leaders— believe in the necessity and efficacy of State interference—a belief which is not incompatible with the freest declamation against most of the existing forms of State activity. Mr. Howell, however, appears to forget that in the last two points the same description might have been applied to the old unions when they were still in their infancy; and it is to be hoped that the new unions will in course of time follow in the footsteps of their predecessors—and not in these respects only, but also in the decreasing use of that violence which has characterised the new unions as it once characterised the old.
If Mr. Howell had devoted less space to polemics, he might (in addition to his interesting sketch of the mediaeval guilds which were the forerunners of the modern unions) have dealt with a question which lies at the root of the economical problem of to-day—namely, the relation of Trades Unions to movements which aim at securing for labour a fairer share in the joint products of labour and capital, such as profit-sharing and co-operation. He does just allude to them, but does not discuss them; yet surely they are of vital importance, and we should have been glad of some fuller explanation of the reason why Trades Unions are generally opposed to profitsharing schemes, and why co-operative production is—as, it is to be feared, must be confessed to be the case—anything but a success at present. Further light on these points would have made more useful a book, which, in spite of its polemics and of a bad literary style, we have found both interesting and instructive.
Soap-Bubbles and the Forces which Mould them. Being a course of
A Synopsis of the Daily Prayers, the Liturgy, and Principal Offices of
By G. V. Shann. (Kidderminster, 1891.) Our 'unhappy divisions' and the long-standing confusions of even Catholic Christendom, dating from a time when the unconstitutional claims of the Papal See, rudely pressed, in the face of the faithful protest of the East, resulted in the miserable schism of East and West, may account for many anomalies, and even go some way towards justifying many irregularities. It might seem, at first sight, a strange thing that any English Christian still resident in England should join the Greek Church, whose born representatives, and whose places of worship, exist here in only a very few of our larger towns. The fact that some few have done so, and those among the upper and educated classes, from 'Deacon Palmer' onwards, deserves con