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few people, except literary explorers either in France or England, can claim to have read “ La Princesse de Clèves," many are aware of the influence it exercised upon the writers of fiction of the succeeding generation.
To whitewash or to wreck the reputation of previous generations of prophets has always been congenial. As the distance from the subject of criticism increases contemporary respect disappears and side-lights suggest different aspects. Mr. Francis Gribble has scant sympathy with or respect for “ Jean Jacques,” and in his volume Rousseau and the Women he Loved (Eveleigh Nash) the last rag of our belief in the philosopher's disinterested love, for even Madame de Warens, is torn to shreds. We know by his own “ Confessions” that Rousseau's standard of honour, gratitude and morality in practice was of the very lowest, just as readers of his philosophic writings only might be tempted to believe that he was inspired by the loftiest sentiments, and although at moments a self-tormentor he had aroused in women an answer to his own passion. Mr. Gribble rudely dispels any illusion about Rousseau's liaisons with distinguished ladies, and asserts that “he never succeeded in lifting intrigue to the level of romance."
Just before his premature death Professor Churton Collins made an interesting contribution to the literary history of the eighteenth century by recalling the sojourn of Voltaire, Montesquieu and Rousseau in England (Nash), and by adding considerably to our knowledge of their impressions. The two first mentioned came to this country with a sincere desire to acquaint themselves with English customs, political ways and habits of thought. They learnt the language, frequented the society of statesmen, philosophers and scholars and formed their opinions fairly on what they saw and heard. Their criticisms of our institutions was more favourable than of our leaders of opinion and they were expressed with little reserve. Rousseau, on the other hand, although treated with great kindness, was surly and quarrelsome, even with Hume as whose guest he had come over. He played his part here as in his own country, and showed no sort of gratitude to his friends or appreciation of English life and ways.
If there is nothing more to be known of Sir Christopher Wren (Duckworth) than Miss Milman has been able to bring together from the works of previous biographers, his life must have been singularly uneventful outside his professional career. His early bias was towards science, but fear of the plague drove him to Paris, where the Louvre revealed to him the beauties of the classical Renaissance, as a hundred years previously it had inspired French architects. How far Wren was irresistibly impelled to persevere in an art for which previously he had shown but a languid zeal is a question which Miss Milman allows the reader to solve for himself. The fire of London was Wren's opportunity, and it may be presumed that the citizens of London who found the money to rebuild the city churches were wise enough to leave Wren a free hand in a matter of which they were ignorant. We are grateful to them, to the architect, and to his latest biographer, whose style adapts itself to the stateliness of her subject.
Mr. Lewis Melville's aptitude for making chatty biographies out of
often dry materials, shows itself to advantage in The First George in Hanover and England (Sir Isaac Pitman), albeit he fails to raise his hero above the level of “ an honest blockhead." As a rule Englishmen's notions of the first Hanoverian King of Great Britain are vague and not altogether flattering as to his morals, his manners or his intelligence. George I. doubtless found himself in an uncomfortable position and he was unprovided with any of those qualities of tact or delicate feeling which might have smoothed away some of the prejudices with which the representative of the Protestant succession was regarded. Mr. Melville makes no attempt to whitewash the somewhat muddy reputation of the King; and he shows much laudable diligence in hunting-up mostly forgotten records of the time in order to show how George was regarded by his contemporaries.
The selection made by Mr. Harry Graham for his Group of Scottish Women (Methuen) shows that he is not a man of narrow prejudice. Some have contributed to the brighter and others to the darker pages of the country's history. Mr. Graham is moreover as ready to recognise the literary claims of some of his fellow-countrywomen as he is to recall the part played by others in passionate feud or political intrigue. Beginning with Devorguilla, still prayed for daily at Oxford-even if almost forgotten north of the border--and ending with Clementina StirlingGraham, there is a period of five hundred years during which Scotland was making history and literature and, as Mr. Graham shows, Scottish women in every generation were at hand to play their parts, for good or for evil, with unfaltering devotion and sympathy.
It seems strange that no adequate life of the most speculative financier of the eighteenth century should have appeared on either side of the Channel. Although Mr. Wiston-Glynn has undertaken the task, it may be doubted whether his John Law of Lauriston (Edinburgh, E. Saunders) brings to light much that was not already known about the projector of the Mississippi Company and indirectly of the South Sea Bubble. Law's influence over the Regent of France was acquired in the first place by real financial ability, and there can be no doubt that he introduced something like method into the French banking system. He was one of the first to recognise the value of a paper currency based upon credit or credulity, and the example he set has been followed with more or less success by succeeding generations of financiers of all countries. Mr. Wiston-Glynn has produced a very readable book, but one is surprised that there should be such a lack of original materials dealing with Law's career in French archives or among family papers in this country.
In following the vicissitudes of The Royal House of Stuart (Greening) from its origin to the death of Queen Anne, Mr. S. Cowan has brought together materials for history which have hitherto been widely scattered. In the twelfth century members of the family were already High Stewards of Scotland ; but Mr. Cowan would have us believe that the original Steward was merely a "stye-ward”-just as the Howards were descended from a “hog-ward” ancestor. The first Stuart King, Robert II., came to the throne by right of his wife, a daughter of Robert Bruce, and he displayed qualities which unfortunately were not transmitted to his descendants. It was moreover a misfortune for Scotland, then passing through turbulent times, that all the six Kings who bore the name of James were crowned as children, and during their minority the country was ruled by corrupt or incapable Regents. At all times attachment to the Church seems to have been one of the chief characteristics of the Stuarts. It was the source of constant friction between the first Stuart Kings of England and their Parliaments, and after the dethronement and death of James II. it was a bar to the recall of that King's son on the death of Queen Anne. That his attachment to the Church which his father had joined was the result of conviction, Mr. Cowan fully recognises.
After a long period of neglect the various members of the dethroned Stuart family are receiving ample satisfaction. Miss Shield's volume on Henry Stuart, Cardinal of York (Longmans) is the second biography of this little-distinguished prelate which has appeared within the last two years. Notwithstanding Mr. Andrew Lang's formal introduction of the volume, Miss Shield does not seem to have shared in the flair for unknown or unused documents which, by example if not by precept at least, Mr. Lang inculcates on his followers. In the somewhat side-issue of Charles Edward's career after Culloden, Miss Shield is, however, able to make some useful corrections of the accounts hitherto accepted of the Young Pretender's later years. The story of his mar. ried life, too, is told with a fulness of detail hitherto neglected, and presents a more coherent estimate of Marie Sobieska's character.
To such as have made a study of the rise of British influence in India the Memoirs of the Life and Military Career of Viscount Lake (Blackwood) will bring little fresh knowledge. But to many Lord Lake's career, overshadowed as it was by that of his greater contemporary and sometime commanding officer, has been scarcely appreciated at its just value by cursory readers. Colonel Hugh Pearse has now deprived all such of the excuse that Lake's career was not sufficiently detached from that of his fellows to make him the object of special attention. After varied experiences in America, Flanders and Ireland, Lake was appointed in 1801 as Commander-in-Chief in India under Lord Wellesley, the Governor-General, and together they established British rule on a firm basis, by shattering the Mahratta power in Central India. The combination of foresight and temerity which was found in Lake earned for him the distinction conferred upon him by his countrymen.
For upwards of five and thirty years John Thaddeus Delane, Editor of the Times (Murray) played a part in the political history of this country which it would be as difficult to appreciate as to deny. Mr. A. J. Dasent, by writing the life and publishing some of his uncle's correspondence, has in a great measure lifted the veil which in Delane's time covered the ways of journalists, and concealed their responsibility. Delane became editor of the only English newspaper then important at the age of twenty-three, and until within a year of his death in 1879 he remained at his post. His flair, both literary and political, was phenomenal, for during the long period of his reign as the journalistic Jupiter he seldom made an error in judgment-for the opposition
of The Times to the removal of the paper duties was a matter rather of self-protection than of political expediency. Delane's letters to statesmen-irrespective of party—are full of interest, and whilst throwing much light upon many obscure points of political history in Queen Victoria's time they also show to journalists how influence may be wielded without loss of independence.
The appearance of Mr. John Martineau's Life of Henry, Fifth Duke of Newcastle (Murray) almost simultaneously with the publication of the Panmure Papers may have been fortuitous but is certainly fortunate. The Duke of Newcastle's career as War Minister at the time of the Crimean campaign has never been fairly judged. He has been blamed in excess of his shortcomings, and subsequently regarded as a martyr or as a propitiatory victim to a popular outcry. The admission of the Duke of Newcastle to the Aberdeen Cabinet was the outcome of an attempt to leaven the Whig element by the Peelite côterie. The result was not satisfactory, and it needed a stronger statesman than the Duke of Newcastle to carry out Palmerston's war policy after the long peace during which our military system had practically fallen into decay. The part which Lord Raglan was called upon to play is now clearly set forth in some hitherto unpublished letters, which Mr. Martineau prints.
Dr. David Duncan has earned the gratitude of an important circle of readers and thinkers by the publication of the Life and Letters of Herbert Spencer (Methuen), whose autobiography was sufficient to chill the enthusiasm of his disciples. Spencer's work as a philosopher was probably not more distinct from that of his predecessors than his part in life was detached from his contemporaries. He was self-confident and also self-opinionated. He cared as little for books as for peoplebut he had a liking for animals—and his attachment to his father, as revealed in the letters now published, show a pleasing side of the philosopher's mind. One gathers from Dr. Duncan's judicious appreciation that Spencer's grasp of philosophic thought was wholly independent of external teaching. No one had read less, or knew less of what others had thought or written, and no great thinker probably ever combined such disregard for authority with such fealty to principles as Herbert Spencer.
The second volume of Mr. J. B. Atlay's Victorian Chancellors (Smith, Elder & Co.) deals with a number of eminent lawyers, who occupied the Woolsack in the more rapid changes of government which marked the later period of the Queen's reign. Between Lord St. Leonards and Lord Herschell no less than eight Chancellors were appointed, the majority of whom have so far “escaped biographical honours." Of some it may be said that apart from their professional careers they left little for the biographer, and one only, Lord Chelmsford, placed on record his personal impressions. Of such materials as were available, published and unpublished, Mr. Atlay has made discreet use, and the result is a work which not only makes interesting reading for laymen and historians, but one which commends itself to lawyers who combine legal attainments with political ambition.
BELLES LETTRES. There was obvious need of a History of Classical Scholarship (Cambridge University Press) undertaken on the lines followed by Dr. J. E. Sandys. The wonder is that its appearance should have been so long delayed. The study of Latin and Greek after they had become “dead” languages (the subject of these three volumes) never wholly ceased throughout Christendom, but it was the Revival of Letters which followed on the fall of Constantinople which gave to Greek the importance it has since enjoyed in Western Europe. There was the debased Latin of the Lower Empire, which for centuries continued to be employed as the medium of official intercourse until superseded by French. It is, however, with classical Greek and Latin that Dr. Sandys concerns himself, and his masterly marshalling of the defenders of classical learning and their contributions to the cause redound to the credit of his University as much as to his own sound scholarship.
The second volume of The Cambridge History of English Literature (University Press) brings the students to the end of the period which culminated in Chaucer. Mr. Saintsbury to whom this special section has been intrusted shows a sympathy with his author which arouses in the reader a feeling of more than interest in archaic language and form of thought. Mr. Saintsbury, moreover, is not afraid to say that many of the writers previous to and contemporary with Chaucer are dull and sometimes absurd, owing their survival more to the industry of philologists than to their own part in making English literature. Prose writing of the Middle Ages, as shown in the writings of Mandeville, Malory and others, is dealt with by various hands on whose co-operation the editors, Messrs. A. W. Ward and A. B. Waller, may be sincerely congratulated, and English readers will find no reason to quarrel with the space allotted to Scottish literature of which the survey extends to Dunbar.
If Mr. G. C. Coulton hopes by means of his study of Chaucer and His England (Methuen) to revive a general interest in the archaic poetry of our country, he will probably be disappointed. His volume, however, will find recognition amongst an increasing number of students now that the English language and literature are considered subjects worthy of a degree from our old universities. To understand Gower, Chaucer and their contemporaries it is necessary to have some grasp of the conditions, material and social, under which men lived in those days. To such knowledge Mr. Coulton is well qualified to guide his readers, and the suggestions which he throws out as to the possible topical allusions to be met with in Chaucer's writings will be gratefully acknowledged by all students. In the way of biography, however, there is little to be done in the case of Chaucer. The materials are so scanty, and the haze surrounding him and his fellow-writers is so impenetrable, that little results can be expected from any attempt to penetrate it.
The application of the principles of the higher criticism to the per. sonality of our greatest dramatist was inevitable, and Mr. G. G. Greenwood in The Shakspeare Problem Re-stated (Lane) has not shrunk from his self-imposed task. He puts aside, as foreign to his purpose,