All Who Glory in Progress and Others
Should Read Jerrold's "Storm Over Europe" Storm over Europe. By Douglas Jerrold. (Eyre and Spottiswoode, 4s.).
Watch Below. By William McFce. (Faber, 9s. 6d.).
The Distant Drum. By Theresa Charles. (Longmans, 8s. 6d.).
The Onlooker. By D. M. Large. (Methuen, 7s. 6d).
Reviewed by FRANCIS BURDETT
TT was an admirable idea to bring out at this moment a cheap edition of Storm Over Europe. For the historian its interest is enhanced when it is remembered that it was first published ten years go.
All that has happened in these intervening years underlines its message. It deserves the widest circulation and provides the sort of tonic that the intelligent, in increasing numbers, arc so desperately seeking.
It shows us a European State united in government but geographically divided. On one side of the dividing mountains lies a
largely feudal and agricultural territory, on the other an industrialised and prOgresske State. The traditional monarchy fell allcr the Four Years' War, and since then a republican and democratic government had been in power There is a brilliant, amusing and informative criticism of much that has been taken for granted by all who glory in progress. For instance. the shock aroused in Cisalpania by the insorent statement that "the power of parliamentary majorities is nut absolute," is a shock that might be Nhared elsewhere. There is satire but hardly caricature in the description of democratic politics. There is a love story that is neither fatuous nor feeble. There is action that rises to moments of dramatic intensity and, above all, there is a profound knowledge and wisdom.
It is as delightful to read of the liberals for whom " to be laced with the pussibilits of a situation where mere words might be useless was intolerably irritating." us of a Minister of Health whose " ambitious programme began long before birth and ended only, reluctantly, with death."
There is the sort of common sense that
is so intolerably rarc. as when we read about the Church: " Rome always preserves her doctrine by compromising on her political SilliHS—u measure of great wisdom. as the deriine of the Reformed Churches, which have always folluwed the opposite course, makes sufficiently clear."
Incisive, penetrating, clear-sighted, it stimulates and clarifies even those who would most profoundly disagree.
mR. McFee has an estraordinary gift for telling a story. The Beachcomber was an admirable hook and Watch Below is in the same tradition. We miss Mr. Spenlovc with his garrulous memories and shrewd and amusing criticism of his many acquaintances. But we learn, and it is only Mr. McFee who could make Us learn it in quite this way, that the tradition of life on tramp steamers has an equal interest to that of more splendid lines. Perhaps we learn almost too much that is technical and obscure to a mere landsman, hut as soon as we emerge from the intricacies of the ship and make acquaintance with the crew our interest is held by their idiosyncracies and temperaments.
It is a quiet, smooth and compelling book that carries the reader into little-known places and amongst a little-known race to whom England is deeply indebted.
THE heroine of The Distant • Drum is an I exceptionally idiotic young woman who tells at length the sentimental story of her life. She is maddening in her fatuities and follies and yet, it is only just to note it, can make very real those of whom she speaks.
A constant dream recurs in her life and she is in love with the man she meets in it. But a vital, if crude, male wins her in her waking life and they live a passionate' and stormy life until the dream man materialises, dies and, by his death, gives her a modicum of sense.
The reader is almost suffocated by the sentiment but something keeps him going to the end.
THE ONLOOKER tells of life in an Irish village as seen by a " loyalist " and landowner during the troubles.
It is a gentle and sympathetic tale that reveals the virtues and difficulties of those who lived in Ireland yet loved England and tried to steer clear of politics.