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Parliamentary History, Vol. 10, pt. 1 (1991), pp. 229-41 REVIEWS Charles 1 and the Road to Personal Rule. (Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History.) By L. J. Reeve. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1989. xi, 325 pp. S35.00. This is a splendid book. Building upon an excellent Cambridge Ph.D. thesis on ‘The Secretaryship of Viscount Dorchester’, Dr Reeve has now given us much the fullest and most persuasive account to date of the origins and early years of Charles 1’s Personal Rule. He draws on a mass of diffuse and often neglected sources to construct an intricate and wholly convincing story which locates ‘the road to personal rule’ within the context of Charles’s own personality, and of a ‘new politics’ which emerged from the time of his accession. Reeve’s argument will fascinate (and disturb!) any student of parliamentary history, for it clearly reveals that the rationale for personal rule lay as much in ideology as in political calculation. Whereas James 1’s I I years without signing a statute (1610-21) were largely the result of international peace, his son’s desire not to summon Parliament after 1629 preceded and necessitated a withdrawal from continental conflict. Unlike his father, Charles had actually come to prrfer ‘non-parliamentary government’ (p. 290). Four features of this book stand out as fundamentally important in enhancing our understanding of Charles 1’s reign in general, and of the years 1628-32 in particular. First, Reeve presents by far the most perceptive and precise analysis yet published ofthe ways in which Charles’s personality made him ‘woefully inadequate’ as ‘a reigning monarch’ (p. 3). Chapter 6 in particular demonstrates that Charles’s personal traits - his ‘essential insecurity’, his ‘moralistic disposition’, his ‘lack of a political sense’, and his commitment to ‘uniformity and symmetry’ - left him ‘thoroughly ill-equipped’ to manage English politics and government. Applied to public affairs, these characteristics produced a self-fulfilling paranoia about disloyalty, an inability to compromise, and above all a wish ‘to define the point at issue’ which proved disastrous in a constitution whose operation ‘depended upon avoiding the activation of the various potential conflicts contained within it’ (p. 178). This portrait of Charles is more penetrating and subtle than that painted in any biography. Second, Reeve shows how these traits influenced Charles’s policies and decisively affected the nature of his regime. He concludes that ‘a series of developments pointed to the date of [Charles’s] accession as a crucial political and religious turning point’ (p. 95). The years after 1625 saw the emergence of a ‘new politics’ - characterized by ‘increasing resort to exclusive government’ - which constituted ‘an internal assault on the customary framework of English politics’ (p. 3). In his handling of Church, Parliament and common law alike, Charles discredited ‘the liberal interpretation of broad traditions in national life’ (p. 97), and so irreparably damaged the delicate but viable Jacobean consensus between monarch and political nation. Reeve’s work thus follows that of Jenny Wormald, Ken Fincham and Pctcr Lake in pronipting a rehabilitation of James 1’s reputation. Compared with his son, the first Stuart king of England seems a wise and able ruler. 0264--2824/y1 $3.00 0 The Parliamentary History Yearbook Trust 19y1

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Page 1: REVIEWS

Parliamentary History, Vol. 1 0 , p t . 1 (1991), p p . 229-41

R E V I E W S

Charles 1 and the Road to Personal Rule. (Cambr idge Studies i n Early Modern British History.) By L. J. Reeve. Cambr idge : C a m b r i d g e Universi ty Press. 1989. xi, 325 pp. S35.00.

This is a splendid book. Building upon an excellent Cambridge Ph.D. thesis on ‘The Secretaryship of Viscount Dorchester’, Dr Reeve has now given us much the fullest and most persuasive account to date of the origins and early years of Charles 1’s Personal Rule. He draws on a mass of diffuse and often neglected sources to construct an intricate and wholly convincing story which locates ‘the road to personal rule’ within the context of Charles’s own personality, and of a ‘new politics’ which emerged from the time of his accession. Reeve’s argument will fascinate (and disturb!) any student of parliamentary history, for it clearly reveals that the rationale for personal rule lay as much in ideology as in political calculation. Whereas James 1’s I I years without signing a statute (1610-21) were largely the result of international peace, his son’s desire not to summon Parliament after 1629 preceded and necessitated a withdrawal from continental conflict. Unlike his father, Charles had actually come to prrfer ‘non-parliamentary government’ (p. 290).

Four features o f this book stand out as fundamentally important in enhancing our understanding of Charles 1’s reign in general, and of the years 1628-32 in particular. First, Reeve presents by far the most perceptive and precise analysis yet published of the ways in which Charles’s personality made him ‘woefully inadequate’ as ‘a reigning monarch’ (p. 3) . Chapter 6 in particular demonstrates that Charles’s personal traits - his ‘essential insecurity’, his ‘moralistic disposition’, his ‘lack of a political sense’, and his commitment to ‘uniformity and symmetry’ - left him ‘thoroughly ill-equipped’ to manage English politics and government. Applied to public affairs, these characteristics produced a self-fulfilling paranoia about disloyalty, an inability to compromise, and above all a wish ‘to define the point at issue’ which proved disastrous in a constitution whose operation ‘depended upon avoiding the activation of the various potential conflicts contained within it’ (p. 178). This portrait of Charles is more penetrating and subtle than that painted in any biography.

Second, Reeve shows how these traits influenced Charles’s policies and decisively affected the nature of his regime. He concludes that ‘a series of developments pointed to the date of [Charles’s] accession as a crucial political and religious turning point’ (p. 95). The years after 1625 saw the emergence of a ‘new politics’ - characterized by ‘increasing resort to exclusive government’ - which constituted ‘an internal assault on the customary framework of English politics’ (p. 3). In his handling of Church, Parliament and common law alike, Charles discredited ‘the liberal interpretation of broad traditions in national life’ (p. 97), and so irreparably damaged the delicate but viable Jacobean consensus between monarch and political nation. Reeve’s work thus follows that of Jenny Wormald, Ken Fincham and Pctcr Lake in pronipting a rehabilitation of James 1’s reputation. Compared with his son, the first Stuart king of England seems a wise and able ruler. 0264--2824/y1 $3.00 0 The Parliamentary History Yearbook Trust 19y1

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A third major strength of this book lies in its delineation of ‘the underlying historical framework uniting English and international affairs’ (p. 75). In Chapters 2 and 7 especially, Reeve elegantly deploys much original material from the various classes of State Papers Foreign (in the P.R.O.) and from several Belgian, French and Spanish archives to enrich our understanding of English politics in three specific ways. He documents how competing views of England’s role within the Thirty Years’ War helped to destabilize Parliaments during the later 1620s; he reconstructs more fully than ever before the negotiations of 1629-30 which enabled Charles to cut his foreign policy to suit his parliamentary cloth; and he reveals the close correlation between an individual’s stance on foreign policy and his attitude towards domestic issues. Thus, the ‘Spanish faction’ (Weston, Cottington, Laud, Arundel, Windebank) was commonly associated with ‘crypto-Catholicism’ and ‘a prejudice in favour of high monarchy’ (p. 187), whereas those most committed to the constitutional role of Parliament (Warwick, Pembroke, Saye, Pym, Rich) generally favoured closer links with France and the United Provinces, and expressed more strongly Protestant beliefs. Moreover, since ‘the Hispanophile clique was in a definite minority’ (p. 247), Charles’s pro- Spanish sympathies helped to isolate his ‘ideologically inflexible Court’ from the mainstream of public opinion and thus exacerbated broader processes of ‘alienation’ and ‘political polarization’ (pp. 96-7).

It is, however, Reeve’s careful avoidance of such a polarization within current debates on this period which is the fourth striking quality of his book. He rejects any anachronistic division between ‘principled’ and ‘selfish’ aims, and argues instead that ‘personal ambition and intellectual conviction can develop . . . almost as one’ (p. 5 ) . This is a truly valuable insight, for only by thinking ourselves back into the minds of people for whom ‘ideological’ and ‘political’ objectives were not necessarily incompatible - or even separable - can we recover their motives sensitively and accurately. Reeve’s own work provides a model of what such an imaginative leap can achieve.

This book also indicates one area where we urgently need more systematic research. Like the recent monographs by Richard C u t and Thomas Cogswell, it suggests that developments in public opinion under the early Stuarts offer very fruitful (and relatively unexplored) territory. At present, we know too little about provincial perceptions of high politics and high politicians. Yet, despite Charles’s repeated proclamations, numerous members of the ‘political nation’ still spent enough time in London to be able to relay extensive information and gossip back to the localities. Reeve makes highly effective use of many of their newsletters, and of provincial reactions to them. But much more manuscript material - often in the form of correspondence, diaries and commonplace-books - remains hidden away in county record offices and private muniment rooms. Such archives cry out for more thorough investigation, not least because they would, I suspect, yield further evidence of growing public anxiety about Caroline policies. If so, this would only strengthen Reeve’s case.

In sum, its cogent argument, immense erudition and graceful prose combine to make Reeve’s first book a tour deforce. His persuasive exploration of Charles 1’s shortcomings confirms and extends a number of arguments recently advanced by, in particular, Conrad Russell, John Morrill and Richard Cust. Reeve has amply demonstrated that the problems facing Caroline England - at any rate in the years 1628-32 - owed far more to bad government than to ungovernability. Above all, he has shown that Charles’s personality made his accession a crucial and ultimately disastrous turning

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point in English history. It is a view which contemporaries as different as Clarendon and Pym would have shared.

DAVID L. SMITH Selwyn College, Cambridge

Algernon Sidney and the English Republic, 1623-1677. By Jonathan Scott. (Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1988 . xii, 258 pp. 227.50.

The first volume of Jonathan Scott’s two-volume study of Algernon Sidney examines Sidney’s career and the development of his thought from the English Revolution to the ‘Restoration Crisis’. The approach is at once biographical and intellectual. Scott intends to rescue Sidney from the smug piety of nineteenth-century liberal biographers who recast ‘one of the most passionate and bellicose rebels of his age’ as ‘the moderate man’, a model of the gentleman turned reformer. Scott’s Sidney is much less the romantic hero and much more the committed republican. If this volume is any guide, the completed work will do for Sidney what Richard Ashcraft has done for John Locke; and it will join a number of recent studies pointing to the continued vitality of radical and republican ideas during the Restoration.

Sidney’s intellectual development proves exceedingly complex in Scott’s analysis. Although Sidney belonged to the English ‘classical republican’ school of thought, he may be differentiated on two grounds from James Harrington and ‘neo-Harringtonian’ ideas about political balance. The first ofthese is the Christian Platonism he shared with John Milton and the younger Henry Vane. This perspective, in part a family affair, was combined by the author of the Discourses on Government with a political scepticism derived from the more famous Discourses of Machiavelli. From early modern Platonism, Sidney drew both an intense personal spirituality and a high regard for moral truth deduced from natural law. From Machiavelli, he drew both his political activism in the face offortuna and the relativistic belief that, given the inevitability of historical change, ‘the laws that may be good for one people are not for all’. These influences converged in the ‘Court Maxims’, a critical and only recently discovered Sidney treatise of 1665-6. Written in the Netherlands, this extreme republican work shows the influence of Dutch ‘interest’ theory and was intended as a manifesto for rebellion.

These principles and influences also underlay Sidney’s complicated public and parliamentary career. For him, among the greatest misdeeds of the early Stuart monarchy was its weakening of the nobility as an independent constitutional arbiter. Associated in 1647 with ‘middle group’ politicians who hoped to restore the Gothic balance of King, Lords, and Commons, Sidney became convinced that royal tyranny had not only sapped the nobility but destroyed the ancient balance forever. His commitment to the republican Commonwealth, as an M.P. and a member of the Council of State, was a commitment to the liberty of a virtuous citizenry, to parliamentary government, to freedom of conscience, to military and commercial expansion, and to friendship with the Dutch republic. With the man ‘acknowledged’ as King by Parliament in 1660, Sidney at first sought reconciliation without recantation. But when the principles of restored monarchy and ‘the interest of God’s people’ proved

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incompatible, Sidney embarked in exile upon a conspiratorial and philosophical campaign against Charles Stuart. And, in good Machiavellian manner, he did not hesitate to seek assistance for the republican cause from that French epitome of monarchy, Louis XIV. The best friends of the exiled republican, however, proved to be the aristocraticfrondetrrs and Huguenots of the French south. Given the variety of his continental experiences and intellectual interests, the ageing gadfly who returned to England in 1677 was far more a European thinker than the rather insular radicals and parliamentarians who now embroiled the nation in crisis.

Scott is concerned with much more than the recovery and reinterpretation of Sidney. He challenges the centrality of the Harringtonian paradigm for understanding early English republicanism. He adds enormously to the newly emerging view of the Restoration as a fragile, tenuous and makeshift regime, or to use Scott’s words, as a misnamed and unsuccessful parliamentary ‘Reaction’. He replaces Sidney in the international contexts of Dutch political theory, of French aristocratic rebellion, and of civic commercialism. Unfortunately, the digressive writing and uneven editing of the book may not recommend it to the broad audiences that both Sidney and Scott deserve.

GARY S. DE KREY St Olaf College

The Imperial Challenge: Quebec and Britain in the Age of the American Revolution. By Philip Lawson. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press. 1989. xi, 192 pp. 529.65.

The French regime in Canada came to an end in 1760 with the capitulation of the remaining French troops. A new province of Quebec was formally annexed to the British empire after the Peace of Paris in 1763. Its boundaries were provisionally fixed later that year in a royal proclamation which also made certain promises about the system of law and government to be adopted in the new colony. These promises proved impossible to implement and a new settlement on very different principles was finally enacted in 1774 by the Quebec Act of Lord North’s government. The provisions of that act included a very great extension of Quebec’s boundaries, a degree of recognition for the Catholic church, the survival of French civil law and government by a nominated council without an elected assembly.

The Quebec Act provoked rancorous controversy in Britain and in the American colonies and both it and the early years of British rule that led up to it have attracted much attention from historians. Philip Lawson re-examines this familiar story with the benefit of a considerable body of new evidence from the British side. Some of this new evidence comes from the work of others, for instance from the very much fuller record of parliamentary debates that has recently become available; much of it comes from Dr Lawson’s own research in manuscript collections not previously used or in the contemporary press. He gives new authority to certain conclusions that have come to be fairly widely accepted. He shows that in spite of the robust assault on the policy of the Quebec Act outside Parliament, within the spectrum of practising politicians there came to be a wide measure of agreement on what had to be done about Quebec. The principles on which the new settlement was to be made can be detected even in the last years of the Grenville government, which had been responsible for the 1763 proclamation. Under the Rockingham administration of 1765-6 recommendations

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were formulated that would ‘form the very basis’ of the 1774 act. That it was to take another eight years for legislation to appear owed much more to political instability and administrative ineptitude than to real differences of policy. When North finally introduced his measure, Lawson argues, it had no significant connexion with the American crisis that had exploded in the winter of 1773-4. The implication is that almost any British government could have brought forward such a settlement at almost any time in the previous ten years.

Lawson’s book is, however, concerned with more than clarifying the record of events; it aims to establish a new interpretative framework. Its Preface begins with the proposition that eighteenth-century ‘domestic’ and ‘imperial’ history are too often written in isolation from one another. Putting them together in this case will show that the acquisition of new colonies could exert a very powerful influence on Britain itself. The price of integrating French Canada into the empire was the acceptance of Catholicism, alien law and authoritarian government within the King’s dominions, a flagrant contradiction of the Revolution Settlement of 1689 and ‘a fissure in the rigid constitutional structure that had been established in Britain over the eighteenth century’. Quebec raised questions that were disturbing ones for eighteenth-century public opinion.

Even if Lawson may be a little unfair in implying that historians have been unaware of the highly charged issues involved in the settlement of Quebec, the emphasis that he places on the Quebec ‘challenge’ raises very interesting problems. In some degree at least his thesis that the governance of Quebec within the empire posed a fundamental ‘challenge’ to British preconceptions may be at odds with his finding that so many politicians readily accepted the principles ultimately enacted. Lawson attributes the commitment to a fully representative assembly and English law in the proclamation of 1763 to the personal intervention of Lord Halifax, ‘a Whig of the old school’, and he describes how Lord Hillsborough continued to advocate such things into the 1770s. Yet few other leading politicians or administrators seem to have believed that Quebec could be treated as a colony of British settlement and alternatives had been put forward while the proclamation was in the making. Thus it seems reasonable to ask whether British political opinion was converted en masse to a reassessment of sacrosanct fundamentals by the ‘challenge’ of Quebec or whether confidence in what Lawson helpfully calls the ‘elastic spirit’ of the constitution allowed eighteenth-century Englishmen to view with relative equanimity the adoption of differing practices in what were recognized to be different parts of the British empire. Attempts had of course been made for centuries to impose a degree of uniformity on Ireland, but alien legal systems had immemorially operated in the Channel Islands and more recently were allowed to operate in Minorca. There was never any question of imposing British legal, religious or constitutional norms on the East India Company’s new provinces. Lawson may well be right in arguing that the timing of the Quebec Act was not determined by the American crisis, but there would probably have been less public commotion about the issues which it raised if the two had not coincided.

The issues of religious toleration and specifically of the recognition of the Catholic church were central to the Quebec ‘challenge’. Did the need to settle Catholic French Canadians peaceably within the empire lead to an unprecedented measure of toleration that was to have wider implications elsewhere, ukimately in Britain itself? Or was the Quebec settlement part of a wider movement towards toleration of Catholicism? In the present state of knowledge such questions cannot. be answered with any degree of certainty, but Lawson at least raises the possibility of a ‘common impetus’.

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It is possible that Lawson’s main theme about the Quebec ‘challenge’ may be a little overstated and some of the minor themes seem slightly suspect. For instance, the attempts to reinstate the decision to retain Quebec after the war as a contentious one and to link the advocates of retention with the promoters of the 1774 Act are not very convincing. But important as the early history of Quebec under British rule has always been in the historiography of Canada, Lawson has a very strong case in arguing that it belongs firmly in the mainstream of British history as well. That is where his book successfully places it.

P. J. MARSHALL King’s College, London

Lord Grey 1764-1845. By E. A. Smith. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1990. viii, 3 3 8 pp. 237.50.

The second Earl Grey - ‘Grey of the Reform Bill’ - is one of the more famous Prime Ministers of the nineteenth century. Yet the printed biographical material on which we had so long to rely was remarkably thin. There were the two volumes of Correspondence with William IV, published in 1867; the Lfe and Opinions edited by his son and published in 1861; G. M. Trevelyan’s well known L$e published in 1920 - and that was all. O f these the royal correspondence covers only 20 months from November 1830 to June 1832; General Grey’s respectful but factual and useful book, modestly entitled Some Account ofetc., stops in 1817; Trevelyan’s biography, based mainly on the Howick Papers, is an elegant memorial in the classical Whig tradition. A space has long been waiting for something more substantial; Mr Smith has now filled it.

The superiority of his book over its only real rival is manifest. Trevelyan’s natural habitat was the age of the Stuarts; Smith on the other hand is a specialist in the parliamentary history of the Grey period. His book is longer and more detailed than Trevelyan’s and based on an incomparably wider range of archival material. His treatment is more dispassionate and more objective. He has also kept a better balance between the climacteric Reform ministry of 1830-4 and the 43 unspectacular years of Grey’s career which went before it. Trevelyan devoted nearly two fifths of his space to the final phase starting in 1830; Smith just over one fifth.

This more austere structure has a further advantage. The Reform Bill crisis has been so thoroughly analysed in a number of monographs that even the most assiduous biographer can add little to what we know of Grey’s role in it. Essentially there is broad agreement among historians that Grey’s achievement was at the time one of great courage and statesmanship even though profoundly conservative in its intention and unable to satisfy the high and unrealistic hopes of some of his supporters. The present biography does not seek to alter that judgment. What it does - and does admirably - is to draw attention to the fortuitous, almost capricious elements in Grey’s long career. The picture drawn by Trevelyan is of the aristocrat who embraced liberal principles in his youth and after waiting in political exile for most of his life was finally summoned, like Cincinnatus from the plough, to save his country from disaster. Smith sees things differently. Grey, he writes, ‘became a Whig by accident, and a reformer by miscalculation’. While Trevelyan thought that ‘it was lucky that Grey fell under the influence of Fox’, the conclusion to be drawn from Smith’s book is that it was a misfortune. Grey, he writes, ‘was better suited to office than to opposition’ and he

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quotes with approval Burdctt’s judgment that Grey ‘should not have been a patriot; he should have been a Minister, that was his line’. As it was, the early association with Foxite opposition from which he was never able to recover condemned his best years to sterility.

M r Smith has an illuminating chapter on Grey’s personal and domestic life. He is also fair and candid on his merits as a party leader. H e was a great parliamentary orator when oratory was still a political weapon; he had courage and imagination. These qualities were offset by an imperious temper, an impatience of criticism, moods of doubt and dejection, bouts of irresolution, which unfitted him for the steady grind, session after session, of leading what seemed a party in a permanent minority against what seemed a government with a permanent majority. All this is convincing. Where perhaps one can criticize Smith’s handling of the political narrative is over his use of that slippery word ‘party’. He writes constantly of ‘the Whig party’ where a more accurate terminology would be ‘the opposition Whigs’ or the ‘Whigs in opposition’ or even ‘the Foxite Whigs’. All late eighteenth-century governments were Whig; all leading politicians, in and out ofpower, were Whigs; Pitt called himselfa Whig; as late as 1812 his successors in office regarded themselves as possessing at least an historical right to that name. Smith, however, habitually writes as though the Foxites were in fact ‘the Whig party’. He refers to ‘the formation of the [Whig] party under Rockingham in 1766’ and to the Whigs returning to office in 1806 ‘after 23 years of opposition’. I t is noticeable by contrast that when he allows contemporary politicians to speak for themselves, their language is more discriminating. Grcy, for cxamplc, in 181 I talks of ‘our division of the party’; Grenville in 1812 of ‘what is called the opposition party’. The author himself has at least one reference to the ‘Portland Whigs’ and on another occasion makes it reasonably clear that the Grenvillitcs too were genuine Whigs. All this is calculated to confuse the non-specialist reader. In the course of the book sensible things are said about the machinery of politics and government; but it is a pity that the question of party nomenclature was not cleared up at the outset.

This, however, though a not unimportant issue, does not detract from the book as a biography. This new life of Grey is a most welcome addition to nineteenth-century historiography and will become for the foreseeable future the standard authority on a statesman who deservedly ranks as one of the architects of Victorian Britain.

N O R M A N GASH

Whig Renaissance. Lord Althorp and the Wlz& Party 1782-1845. By Ellis Archcr Wasson. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1987. viii, 439 pp. $72.00.

Most of the leading figures of the Whig administration of 1830-4 - Brougham, Durham, Russell, Melbourne, Palmerston - have received biographical treatment, albeit of varying quality, in recent years. Lord Holland’s diaries havc bccn handsomely edited by Abraham Kriegel and in I990 E. A. Smith published a fine study of Earl Grey [reviewed ante, 234-51. By contrast, John Charles Spencer, Viscount Althorp, and from November 1834 third Earl Spencer, though Chancellor of the Exchequer and leader of the House of Commons in that ministry, had been rather left out. Now E. A. Wasson has rescued him from this neglect in a very well researched biography which draws heavily on primary sources, notably, of course, the papers of the Spencer family.

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Although there is n o bibliography of secondary sources, Dr Wasson’s endnotes reveal a thorough acquaintance with recent (and earlier) scholarly literature, including several unpublished theses, such as Dean Rapp’s important study of Samuel Whitbread. The presentation is learned, the tone sympathetic but far from uncritical towards its subject, the style admirably lucid. The reader may still profitably consult Roland Thorne’s essay on Althorp’s early parliamentary career in The History of Parliament: The House of Commons, 1,790-182o (V, 238-41), but it is difficult to conceive a biography of Althorp to match, let alone supersede, Dr Wasson’s book in the immediate future.

The approach, quite reasonably, is chronological, with due attention paid to Althorp’s agricultural and other interests outside the immediate concerns of party politics. Much stress is placed upon his commitment to Whig principles, mainly of a libertarian sort, early in his career, as seen in his conduct over the Duke of York’s affair (1809) and his criticism of the Liverpool ministry’s security policies. Dr Wasson insists that fear, not of popular radicalism but of an over-powerful ministry, convinced Althorp of the need for reform. H e detects a consistency of principle among those ‘Young Whigs’ of Althorp’s generation during the long period of opposition and distinguishes sharply between those (like Grey and Althorp) who remained aloof from the coalitions with Canning and Goderich in 1827-8 and those (like Tierney and Lansdowne) who joined, and lost prestige in the party as a result. By 1830 the Whig party, purged of many of its faint-hearts, was well organized, confident and ready for office; hence the ‘Whig Renaissance’ of the title.

There are four substantial chapters on Althorp’s contribution to the reforming ministry. Dr Wasson is excellent on the parliamentary battles of 1830-4 and has much to say of Althorp’s skill (and occasional disasters) as leader of the Commons. His research will undoubtedly be of value to those interested in the history o f that office and of parliamentary management more generally. For all his apparent amateurism and reiterated wishes to retire, Althorp emerges from this study as one of the most dedicated reformers in the Cabinet - more convinced than Grey of the need for action, more level-headed than Brougham or Durham in undertaking it. Dr Wasson illustrates the tensions within the ministry between those of Althorp’s persuasions and those who, like Stanley, were less committed to change, especially in the ecclesiastical sphere. If much of the story is familiar, its presentation from Althorp’s point of view is a considerable asset. The author’s interpretation of the Reform Act of 1832, strongly critical of D. C. Moore and theories of ‘deference’ which postulate as a prominent Whig intention the preservation of the homogeneity of traditional communities, will not command universal assent. Yet his conclusions are temperate and balanced. The assertions that Britain was ‘radically transformed’ in 1832 and that ‘the hegemony of aristocracy, gentry and Church was destroyed forever’ (pp. vii, 244) are shrewdly qualified by cautious reminders that ‘the evolution of the Commons was a slow process . . . hundreds of small changes over the next fifty years made the final demise of the old system apparent’ (p. 245) and that ‘We now know that the effect of the Act was enormous, but this was often to be seen only in subtle ways or in the long term’ (p. 248). Similarly, Dr Wasson allows that Althorp’s political ideas were strongly tinged with a paternalistic strain with which he consciously mitigated the practical impact o f the ideas of those classical economists with whom he associated. Professor Perkin is chided (p. 380) for his premature dismissal of paternalism.

To this reviewer, two questions remain unanswered. In the first place, Dr Wasson rightly points out the strong religious influence upon Althorp’s perceptions of politics and society. We are told that he was inspired by the evangelical campaign against

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slavery (an acknowledgement of Roger Anstey’s work would have been appropriate here) and, above all, by ‘religious beliefs’ which hinged on a Christian concept of stewardship (p. 126). Yet though justice is done to the intellectual sources of Althorp’s interest in political economy and education, the reader will find very little about the inspiration of these all-important religious beliefs. This book presumably was completed at too early a stage for the author to consult Richard Brent’s Liberal Anglican Politics. Whiggery, Religion arid Rgorm, 1830--1841 (Oxford, 1987 [reviewed ante, VIII, 172-41). Dr Brent’s use of the category ‘Young Whigs’ is similar to that deployed here, but Brent offers a far clearer survey of their religious beliefs, of which much manuscript evidence (notably in the Althorp-Brougham correspondence) survives. One would expect a biography ofAlthorp to explain what he read and how he responded to it. As it is, D r Wasson makes brief and unspecific references to Althorp’s theological reading but, frustratingly, does not elaborate. That he read Paley at Cambridge will surprise no one; that he opposed the purchase of Bolingbroke’s works for the libraries o f Mechanics’ Institutes (p. 331) is intriguing, but the point is not developed. We are left to assume that Althorp adhered to a broad Anglican churchmanship which was quite compatible with Whiggisni. But in the Anglican tradition there were many mansions, and one would like to know much more precisely about Althorp’s involvement in that tradition. The second question concerns the nature and extent of Althorp’s popular support. There is a fascinating account of the fiercely contested Northamptonshire election of 183 I , and Althorp was indeed a county M.P. with a large electorate for most of his parliamentary career. There are brief glimpses of those outside the e‘lite who regarded him as an acceptable spokesman for their aspirations: he enjoyed the approval of the ‘dissenting and trading communities’ in his own county and in 1822 was given the freedom of Nottingham by a corporation dominated by Dissenters (pp. 135-6). I t would be interesting to know more of his cultivation of Dissenters, which denominational groups were most receptive to him and how he was perceived by them. The Unitarian Monthly Repository, for instance, while revering Fox, treated Althorp with some coolness. The point is an important one because Dr Wasson emphasizes the role of extra-parliamentary opinion and admonishes those who regard ministerial preparations for the Reform Bill as a ‘parlour game’, insulated from external reality (p. 245). That being so, the relations between Althorp and his Dissenting and other grassroots contacts invite more elucidation than is provided here.

These cavils apart, however, this book can be commended as a valuable guide to early nineteenth-century British Parliamentary politics and another step forward in the wider reappraisal of the Whiggery of that period.

G. M . DITCHFIELD University of Kerit at Canterbury

The Blind Victorian. Henry Fawcet t and Bri t ish Liberalism. Edited by Lawrence Goldman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1989. xv, I99 pp. &25.00.

Who has ever felt a crying need for a book on Henry Fawcett, that second-rank politician, third-rank economist, and arguably third-rate human being - particularly in the shape of a medley of specially written essays, conference papers, discussants’ comments and a memorial lecture from 1984 showing no consistency of purpose, level

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of scholarship, or interpretation? Yet against all expectations, this variety show proves worthwhile, thanks chiefly to its impresario, Lawrence Goldman, author of well over a third of these pages. His long introduction convincingly claims that a study of Fawcett and British Liberalism corrects the usual GIadstone-dominated view of Liberal ideology and practice c. I 859-1884 and demonstrates that ‘Gladstone’s idiosyncracies were not to all Liberal tastes’. The very incoherence of Fawcett’s positions makes him ‘both representative and historically significant’ - representative, moreover, of two new mid- Victorian breeds: academic radicals from the reformed universities, and popular politicians aiming to ignore class divisions and integrate opposed economic interests. Through Fawcett’s career we can reassess what it meant to be an ‘advanced Liberal’ at the moment when mass political participation developed.

Not every contribution, however, quite fits this brief. The material is grouped into three sections. In the first, on ‘Personal Life and Sensibilities’, Boyd Hilton makes some Iucid comments on Stefan Collini’s disquisition on ‘manliness’ as a central ingredient of the moral and aesthetic sensibilities characteristic of mid-Victorian Liberalism, and points out that ‘manly’ and ‘masculine’ were not necessarily synonymous for all mid- Victorians, however much they were so for Fawcett and his friend and biographer Leslie Stephen. David Rubinstein next brings his expertise as Millicent Garrett’s biographer to bear on the Fawcett marriage, which ensured that Fawcett never jumped off the feminist bandwagon. The following section on ‘Economics’ is the most substantial of the three. Phyllis Deane and her discussant, Donald Winch, agree that although Fawcett’s political economy was ‘Mill and water’, his talent for applying orthodoxies to current practical issues made him a useful ‘plain man’s economist’. In sharp contrast Giacomo Becattini’s Fawcctt Lecture for 1984 argues that the young Fawcett’s paper on strikes given to the Social Science Association in 1859 introduced ‘the propensity to combine’ into classical political economy, by seeing the power to strike as tending to remedy a failure of the market to secure ’natural’ wage-levels, and to bring about profit-sharing. This original and carefully developed argument deserves attention, the more so since Becattini believes Fawcett’s paper had some influence on the intellectual process which led Mill to recant the wage-fund theory. In the final section, on ‘Politics’, some of this ground is covered again in Goldman’s paper on Fawcett and the Social Science Association, although here Fawcett reappears as a rigid, narrow, conservative economic thinker. Refreshingly the discussant, Christopher Harvie, diverges into a neat and skilful profile of Fawcett as careerist and prophet of the obvious. Those who wish to learn about Fawcett’s politics, however, should turn to the introduction, where the editor gives a shrewd account of this cussed, dogmatic, assertive ‘advanced Liberal’, who successfully opposed Gladstone’s Irish Universities Bill in 1873, denounced profligate spending by the Indian government, and weighed in to preserve common land, and whose years as Postmaster-General were ‘a quiet, almost uncharacteristic c0d.a’. A bibliography of Fawcett’s writings ends the book.

The focus is thus on the context Fawcett provides for Liberalism, feminism, economic thought, and the hitching of labour to the Liberal Party. This may indeed be the way to claim the interest of professional historians today. Yet do not Fawcett himself and his traditional claims to fame also deserve some fresh thought? Was his life really ‘a beacon for the blind’, at least in the sense of an exemplary triumph over physical disability? Docs it not rather illustrate how a self-centred man who made no effort to acquire the skills which would have made him independent but could afford to employ a succession of first-rate ‘secretaries’ as guides, amanuenses and dogsbodies could successfully exploit his disability in order to deflect criticism and attract the help

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and publicity vital in building a political career? O n the other hand, did not his work in 1880-4 as Postmaster General fully deserve the popular approval it won, and more? At the Post Office, Fawcett’s innovations gave practical shape to his views on feminism, thrift, efficient service to the general public, and ‘the labour qucstion’. (He introduced not only a parcel post, for example, but wage-levels high enough to obviate discontent, as well as an established grade of women clerks appointed by open competitive examination.) Hitherto Stephen’s tombstone biography has been the last as well as the first word on its subject. This book proves that there is currently something worth saying about Fawcett and mid-Victorian Liberalism, and even perhaps about Fawcctt himself.

OLIVE ANDERSON Queen Mary and Wes$eld College, London

‘Pax Britannica’?: British Foreign Policy, 1789-1914. By Muriel E. Chamberlain. London a n d New Y o r k : Longman. 1988. viii, 224 pp. Hardback: 216.95; paperback: 27.95. British Foreign Policy in the Twent ie th Century . By C. J. Bartlett. London: Macmil lan. (British His tory in Perspective.) 1989. x, 144 p p . Hardback: 225; paperback: 26.99.

For more than a generation diplomatic historians have eschewed increasingly the kind of approach to their discipline which has been mocked by the view that the sum total of their work is merely what one foreign office clerk wrote to another. The more traditional approach can still produce interesting studies based on a trdwl through the minutiae of official diplomatic exchanges at the level of High Politics, but it is the study of ~ n n e n p f f l i ~ ~ & . rather than of aussenpolitik, which is now de ripeur. Along these lines Paul Kennedy and Bernard Porter have produced syntheses dealing with Britain’s external relations since the middle of the nineteenth century, but no one hitherto has tried to do so from the time of Britain’s emergence as a sort of superpower in the era of the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, industrialization and the classic formulations of the official view of Britain’s position in the world by such as Castlereagh and Canning. N o w Professor Muriel Chamberlain has produced a brief, but stimulating and interesting survey, which should satisfy those students wanting an analysis of the topic right through the nineteenth century.

Professor Chamberlain’s book, in fact, starts with the British loss of the American War of Independence, the elevation of William Pitt to the premiership and the foundation of the Foreign Office as an autonomous office of state in 1782-3. This is the right place to start and gets away from orthodox starts in 1815 so it is a pity that this is not reflected in the title of the book. Moreover it is a shame that more attention is not given to other sources of decision-making in the official apparatus like the Colonial Office, the War Office, the Admiralty and, after 1858, the India Office nor that the opportunity was not taken to end at a less conventional point than 1914. Could it not be suggested that a better point for identifying the end of a particular form of British influence came in 1917 with American entry into the Great War and the British financial collapse of July-August of that year?

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Pax Britannica starts with a most useful Introduction, called ‘The Myths of British Foreign Policy’, which correctly takes up about ten per cent of the text in which all the factors involved in the ‘new’ type of diplomatic history are discussed. This is the most interesting, useful and novel part of the book and is just what is required to make students think in new and productive ways. What is disappointing, therefore, is that thereafter these ideas are not always incorporated into the later chapters and that the further the book proceeds the less do these ideas seem to be remembered or taken into account. By the time the reader reaches the second half of the nineteenth century the piece has rather reverted to a more traditional, blow-by-blow, analysis of international relations and the making of foreign policy. Of course, as one would expect from this author, it is very well done at that level and is a synthesis based on the most up-to-date knowledge of the literature, but, in the end, it is not quite what one had expected at the beginning.

The book is inevitably very compressed so that it may seem petty to draw attention to omissions and areas of disagreement. However, it must be said that inadequate attention is given to the vital importance for Britain of loans from the Netherlands in the last two decades of the eighteenth century. Next, although there is a most judicious assessment of Castlereagh’s European policies, there is an incomprehensible omission to discuss his policies towards and relations with the United States, which were of such importance. Thirdly, the account of the Eastern Question in the 1830s and 1840s is not wholly satisfactory: the Quadruple Alliance of 1834 is not properly seen within its context in Eastern Europe, the importance of both the Straits Convention and the Nesselrode Memorandum is underplayed and Palmerston’s devastating use of his Discretionary Order is never mentioned at all. Indeed given the supposed rationale of the book the domestic political context within which Palmsteron manoeuvred himself to the top of the greasy pole, and Palmerston’s relations with the court, especially with Prince Albert, are curiously at low key as explanations of Palmerston’s policies. Perhaps Professor Chamberlain considered that she had covered these matters in her studies of Aberdeen and Palmerston, but this book is, of course, intended for a different readership, so it ought to be explained. Gladstone ought to be discussed much more in the context of his Evangelical origins and, also, in that of the continuity of his thoughts on matters of international relations with those of Castlereagh. There seems to be insufficient account of Britain’s declining position after about 1860 and it is curious that there is no discussion of the unwillingness of sections of the electorate to pay the high taxes, which would have been necessary for a more forward foreign policy and greater expenditures on armaments. N o notice is taken of the importance of Salisbury being given sight of the text of the Austro-German Alliance in 1889. There is some confusion over the 1886 election (p. 146) and Gladstone left office in 1894 not in 1895 (p. 128). His advice to the Turks in 1876 was to leave Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Bulgaria (p. 139). There are misprints on pp. 10s and 152. Any analysis of Anglo-Russian relations in the 1890s requires some consideration of the Pamir Agreement.

If Professor Chamberlain tries to write a book which starts from a non-traditional position, Professor Bartlett makes no bones that his book ‘is deliberately selective, with a definite bias towards high politics, or the more traditional approach’. Within that framework it is a highly competent analysis of the problems of British foreign policy in this century based on the latest monograph literature. Inevitably it has to be very selective and compressed, as everything in about 90 years is covered in only 12s pages. It is so compressed that again it may seem unfair to highlight those areas which the author does not discuss. Nevertheless it does seem a serious omission not to take

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more account of the economic dimensions of British perceptions and room for manoeuvre. Thus therc needs to be much sharper analysis of the effects of the financial crisis of 1917, of the debt repayment negotiations of the I ~ Z O S , of the influence of the Treasury on policy in the 1930s and the role of sterling in British actions after the Second World War. It would also add to aii understanding of Britain’s post-1945 situation if there was more discussion of diplomacy between 1939 and 1945, especially in 1940-1, than is given here. O n the Suez Crisis there is a failure to point out the disastrous consequences of Anglo-French action being taken brfore the U. S. Presidential election and, then, the similarly fateful effects of Britain’s unilateral withdrawal from the enterprise upon her relations with France and her subsequent attempts to enter the E.E.C., which werc blocked by the French. The great sea-change of the events of 1989 came too late to be considered by Professor Bartlett.

All the above merely shows how difficult it is to compose wholly adequate analyses of such large topics as Britain’s foreign relations over such long periods of time, particularly when the nit-pickers get to work. Despite some minor disappointments both these works are to be recommended to students as excellent introductions to the matters with which they arc concerned. One final thought is that the hardback edition of Bartlett’s book is ridiculously expensive.

T. BOYLE Goldsmiths’ College, London