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226 THE UNIVERSITY OF · TORONTO QUARTERLY THE REFORMATION AGAIN! G. G. COULTON This small volume of 136 pages is connected with one of the most curious episodes in modern literary history. · About twenty years ago, a "Westminster Catholic Federation" was. formed, under the patronage of Cardinal Bourne, in order to put pressure upon publishers and the London County Council for the revision of school history manuals in a direction less unfavourable to the Roman Church. Prominent in this Federatlon was Mr E. Eyre, who contributed liberally also from his own private fortune. The work was so strictly private that the officials have never been prevailed upon to deposit, even in the British Museum, a single copy of the three bulky volumes which constituted its tirst general , report to the numerous members.2 Soon afterwards, Mr Eyre expended time, energy and money upon a History oj European Civilization, in seven large volumes, for which he collected a numerous and curiously varied band of contributors. His object, as explained in the Preface, was to counteract certain ' tendencies of modern historiography, nationalistic and fatalistic, tempted to believe that whatever ·succeeds is that which ought to succeed. A~. against this, he was anxious to revert to that purer light which reigned in Europe· during the centuries of Religious Unity. He paid his contributors liberally, and recruited them as he chose. All these seven volumes, therefore, are'History with a Purpose, frankly avowed. That is not the highest kind, but neither is it the lowest; and, though the large majority of Mr' Eyre's contributors were remarkable mainly for their religious orthodoxy, he was able to enlist also a few of real distinction, such as the Oxford Professors' J. L. Myres and F. M. Powicke. Nobody will for a moment suspect such scholars of yielding to editorial pressure; but Mr Eyre would naturally choose those whose known opinions would be least likely to contrast too violently with the general spirit of this Co-operative History. Professor Powicke's own essay is summarized in his first sentence , which is naturally quoted as a clear key-note by the only IThe Reformation in England, by F. M. POWICKE. Oxford University Press, 1941, $2.00. zFor much fuller details of these activities, see my Romanism and Truth, I, xv and 120-6; II,31.0; and Sectarian History, 9, 36, 46, 101. See also J. W. Poynter, Roman Catholic Scheme jor Tampering with School Histories (Church Association) Buckingham St., London, W.C.2). REVIEWS two reviews which I have seen.S He writes: "The one definite thing which can be said about the Reformation in England is that it was ' an act of State."4 Yet this is far less definite than might appear at first sight. Can this complicated proc, ess} with all its ups and downs during four reigns, be adequately labelled off-hand as "an ace'? Again, Professor Powicke is among those who warn us most emphatically against the anachronism of separating too ,clearly State and Church.IiWhat is the relation, then, between that State whose quasi-ecclesiastical character we must never forget, a-pd this State which, four hundred years ago, dealt a blow from which Church and Civilization are still reeling, and which Mr Eyre has devoted his life to redress? As we read on, we see that State, throughout this book, means only the Government. Therefore, does not this key-sentence, placed in the forefront and formulated as our one definite verity, convey at best a misleading half-truth? The New York reviewer, evidently an enthusiastic Roman Catholic, seizes upon this opening sentence, quotes it in full, and heads his article "A King's Revolution." I{e proceeds: '

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 226-233
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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