AND DEBUNKING THE GLUM KNOX
Spanish Tudor. By H. F. M. Prescott. (Constable, 18s.).
The Life of John K X. By G. R. ?reedy. (Herbert Jenkins, 15s.).
The development of Religious Toleration in England. By W. K. Jordan, Ph.D. (Allen and Unwin, 21s.).
Church and Society in England from 1800. By Maurice B. Reckitt. (Allen and Unwin, 7s. 6d.).
Reviewed by BERNARD BASSET, S.J.
ny a quaint coincidence Mary Tudor and John Knox are here thrown
together, with a volume on the development of religious toleration as a suitable sequel to the study of their lives.
To begin with Bloody Mary; Miss Prescott has accomplished a noble task in fleeing the Spanish Tudor from the gross calumnies of sectarian history. All historians should be compelled to begin their careers with a life of Mary Tudor, for by their treatment of this much maligned woman their sincerity and historical insight might best be judged. The charges against her and her advisers have been shouted down the. centuries by a mob of professional agitators, and many a sober scholar has been duped. If Lingard, Strickland and Maitland saw the truth, their verdict passed unheeded, and the moral integrity and sincerity of Mary. Gardiner, Pete and Bonner has been ignored. Few who read Miss Prescott's delightful pages wilt doubt the truth of her conclusions, and the wonder is that such a book was not written many years ago. There are some irrelevancies in this book and a few disputable decisions, for the author, while sympathising with the old faith strives anxiously to be generous to the reformers, too. Such generosity, though praiseworthy, is not always fair to the Pope, to the monasteries or to Mary, and there is a faint suggestion, at times, that Miss Prescott is hampered in her judgment of the Queen by a too great admiration for Eit7.abeth. Such blemishes are slight when balanced against the dignity and sympathy of the whole study which will long remain the classical biography of one of the most tragic and most heroic figures in history.
TOHN Knox deserves and, indeed, receives J very different treatment from Mary
Tudor, arid it is a joy to see this preposterous man debunked in an amusing but superficial way. Knox scarcely merits other than superficial treatment, for he was never a profound man and could not have been taken seriously in any other age. His austerity of life and glum Calvinistic outlook should not be judged apart from the incoherent violence of his message and the brutal injustice of his behaviour throughout
his turbulent life. Consider his austerity alone and you have an Old Testament prophet and reformer, but take his life as a whole and you discover the disgusting demagogue of Mr. Preedy's hook.
The author is scathing in his criticism of Knox and of the gloom which he imposed an Scotland, but he is also outspoken on the faults of the Catholic side. His picture is accurate and he bestows praise where it is merited, to Cardinal Beaton where he deserves it, and above all, to Mary of Guise.
There is a painfully vivid account of the young and lonely Mary Stewart, and sonic grim paragraphs on the fate of that young girl, Marjorie Bowes. who was doomed to live and die at Geneva as the first Mrs. Knox. The book is marred by some sweeping generalisations and by one illinformed and objectionable passage about devout women which could have been omitted without sacrifice of truth.
Apart from this passage Mr. Preetly's account is most entertaining and refreshing and it offers to the reader a good historical survey in a most vivid form.
DR. Jordan's scholarly work is less likely to appeal to the general reader, but for students it will be invaluahle.
It is the author's contention that by 1660 the principles of religious tolerance had been accepted as axioms by the lay mind. This view is supported by a detailed study of the writers and pamphleteers of the seventeenth century. and in this fourth volume is preserved the conclusions of many penetrating thinkers, Latitudinarians, Anglicans, Catholics, Independents.
It would be dangerous to conclude from this study of advanced opinion that Leglishmen had adopted the principles of toleration at the Restoration. Dr. Jordan's "lay mind " was not the mind of the man-in-alestreet. Vane. Hobbes, Hale and the Platonists were not typical Englishmen, and had the reigns of Charles TI and James II worked out differently would Toleration have come so soon? Dr. Jordan implicitly makes this qualification when he talks of indifference settling slowly like a damp fog.
SPACE does not permit more than a brief mention of the admirable little volume added to " The Church and the World series," by Maurice Reckitt.
It is an excellent guide to the last centuryand-a-half of Church history, illustrating the problems of the Christian Churches in England by many well-chosen excerpts from the great writers of the past.
What pleased me most was the obvious goodwill which lay behind the choice of material and in this book the reader escapes from futile controversy to face great problems in a great way. With what genuine pleasure we read the courteous remarks about our Catholic contribution and the well-chosen passages from the Encyclicals. Manning, Plater, the Catholic Social Guild and other Catholic activities and actors find mention and thc finest quotation in the book comes from Mr. Christopher Dawson's Religion and the Modern State.