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116Bulletin of Friends Historical Association lined with statesmanlike understanding and spiritual insight the basic philosophy of Christian outreach, commonly called the missionary motive. There is only one cause for regret in the publication of this booklet. Because of its brevity and its basic purpose, the human-interest story so aptly told in the Steeres' travel letters had to be omitted. These letters in their own right deserve wide circulation. Collins, N. Y.____________ Levinus K. Painter Laurels and Rosemary: The Life of William and Mary Howitt. By Amice Lee. New York: Oxford University Press. 1955. 350 pages. $4.80. The Victorian but gracious title of Mrs. Lee's biography of her greataunt and uncle does not quite do justice to its value as social and intellectual history. The lives of these two popular and prolific writers as told chiefly in the words of Mary Howitt's letters to her sister represent and illuminate brilliantly the central seventy-five years of the nineteenth century in England, the charm, the freedom, the tolerance, and the goodness of those who were educated but not university people, comfortably situated but not rich. Through their literary popularity they touched upon the edges of more aristocratic circles, and through their constant social and political concerns they opened windows toward the evil conditions in mines and the growing industrial cities. Both Mary Botham and William Howitt came of Quaker families, but all shades of plainness to worldliness, of gloomy preocccupation with the soul to their own youthful determinations to be "great writers" existed in their family environments. Alwayscommitted to the search for truth and to concerns for social betterment, William and Mary followed if they did not lead the social and religious movements of their time. Very early in their married life, they separated from the Society of Friends without losing any of their spiritual commitments; they needed and practiced "a little silent meeting" to the end of their lives; their servants were their friends; they kept their hatred of war from the wars of Napoleon through the Crimean and the Franco-Prussian conflicts. Even to a present-day Friend Mary Howitt's conversion to Roman Catholicism, ten years after her husband 's death, must seem but her own honest conclusion to an honest life of searching for the way. Not so, perhaps, the temporary immersion of both of them in the fashionable practice of mesmerism and spiritualism of the eighteen fifties. It was as writers that their age knew the Howitts, as their two hundred published books fully justified. The pleasure they gave with their travel books, their stories and poems, and Mary's translations from the Swedish of Fredrika Bremer and the Danish of Hans Christian Andersen was considerable, and their fame went beyond the limits of their country and their time. When I was a child I remember well my mother's bringing out an old riddle her English parents thought very clever: "What does one say when watching a house on fire?"—"Dickens, Howitt Burns." My mother did not know what Howitt had written, but she knew he was a famous author. Book Reviews117 From Laurels and Rosemary one emerges, indeed, rather with the impression of two energetic, humorous, and valuable personalities; as writers they were money-earners, as people they enjoyed life fully and weighed in on the side of what they thought right and moving toward a better world. In accordance with the pattern of their day, they had twelve children and outlived all but two; they traveled widely on foot, by coach, and with high enthusiasm by railway, when that became possible. After her husband's death Mary Howitt still felt the new life of springtime after winter passed; it was in spring that she determined finally to become a Roman Catholic. Her niece exclaimed at the news, "There, another of my aunt's adventures!" Mrs. Lee has captured this quality of adventure in her pleasant book. Swarthmore College____________ Elizabeth Cox Wright Friends School, Wigton, Cumberhnd. Edited by David W. Reed. Published by the Wigton Old Scholars Association. 1954. 376 pages. £1/1. This is a fascinating book for all who are interested in the foundation and development of a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1504
Print ISSN
0033-5053
Pages
pp. 116-117
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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