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REVIEWS 2O7 In theformer,it became increasingly arbitrary;in regardto the latter,Dr R.R. Daviesconcludes, the king'sover-dependence on Cheshireand its men must occupy a prominent placein anyanalysis ofRichard's downfall. Thusit stillseems probable thatRichard,in spiteof hisunquestioned intelligence , profoundly underestimated theextentto whichhissubjects wouldreact againsthisattackupontheirliberty.Of course it is not veryfashionable these daysto regardthequestion of politicallibertyasbeingoneof thegreatissues in theMiddleAges. Ashasbeensaidrecently, thecurrentviewisthatpatronage, localinfluence, and dynastic fortunes werethe main concerns of the political classes. Butthecontributions tothisvolume donot,onthewhole,seem tosupport thisopinion.On the contrary, theysuggest that the old traditionof seeing late mediaevalhistorypre-eminently in termsof constitutional conflictwasnot far fromthemark,though it isquitewrongto thinkthatthisexcludes otheraspects ofthecommunity's life. At any rate, the impression left by the variouschaptersis that in the end RichardxIdestroyed himself, asEdwardII haddonein a differentway,byalienatingthegreatmajorityof hissubjects through actions whichviolated thespirit,if notthe letter,of theEnglish politicaltradition.Indeed,therewasperhaps no reignin mediaeval history whichwassodominated bydeepconstitutional issues asthis,whichsawthebitterconflict oftheMerciless Parliament, thefar-reaching royalist restoration afterI389, andthefinaltragedyof I399 whenRichardfound himself, in spite ofallhisefforts, standing virtuallyalone. That finalimpression is not the least of the attractive features of this book. B. WILKINSON Toronto VictorianAttitudes toRace.CHRISTINE BOLT. London,Routledge & KeganPaul; Toronto,University ofTorontoPress, I97I. Pp.xviii,•54. $IO.5O. In thepresent deluge of Victoriography andworkson racerelations onlyoriginality or syntheses of exceptional clarity can commandour attention.What ChristineBoltof the Universityof Kent hasto add on Victorian racialattitudes towhatwegainfromV.G. Kiernan,PhilipMason,G.R. Mellor, A.P. Thornton, orEricWilliams isa greatdealofinteresting detailandfitfulpercipience, butfar toolittle contextual analysis. MissBolthasminedavaluable if heterogeneous mass ofcontemporary sources, including newspapers, journals, pamphlets, andthebooks writtenby travellers, missionaries, and someof the earliest socialscientists. Yet while thishelpsto demonstrate that racialprejudice increased ratherthandiminished andbecame sowidespread asto be almost general,the author's tendency to hopbackwards andforwards in timeandherfailuretodistinguish between importantandtrivial sources ortoassess influences makeit almost impossible at anyonetimeto know precisely which'Victorians' sheiswritingaboutor howideasweregenerated and disseminated. Furtherconfusion arises fromMissBolt'sfailureto risefromthe descriptive 208 THE CANADIAN HISTORICAL REVIEW to consider largerissues and causes. Quite properlysheis appalledthat the advance of science wasnotmatchedbyan increase in tolerance, thatfamiliarity seemed to breedcontemptfor subjectraces,and that in promoting amity the record of Christianity wasat bestambivalent; butin thewelterof examples and exceptions thecauses areobscured, sothatfortheaverage readerVictorianracial attitudes remainpuzzling phenomena. Perhaps MissBolthad difficultymaking upherownmind.In thebook's coverblurbit ispromised thatherstudy'shows how hostilitytowardscolouredracesresultedfrom greatercontactwith such peoples'; yetasearlyaspage5 in thetextsheasserts, 'Oneof thereasons for the misconceptions entertained aboutracewasthe unfamiliarity,amongthe mass of the Britishpeoplewith "representatives of the many peoplewhom we governed." ' Surely thekeytothepuzzle liesin thefactthatformuchof thebook(andparticularlyin theIndiansection)MissBoltisnotreallydealing with racialattitudes atall,butwiththeattitudes ofrulers towards theruled.Victorianracialprejudice wasnomorerationalthanprejudicebeforeor since.Peoplewill alwaystendto argueandevenbelieve others tobeinferiorif it isin theirinterest todoso.Needs determineviews,and evenlawsreflecttheneedsof the dominantclass. In earlier daystherewasa needforplantation slaves, thoughthiswaslimitedto theruling classes and the mass of Englishmen wereindifferentto the plight of enslaved negroes, aswell asignorant.The endingof the needand the phenomenon of popularemancipism broughta respite, but within a generation the imperative of empiresupervened: theneedto regardasinferiorthemillionsof persons of coloured racewhoma few hundredthousand Englishmen sought to rule. Victoriansuccess andsocial theoryconspired tomakeeventhinkingmenbelieve that thematerialinferiorityof darker-hued subjects provedthat theywereintrinsicallyinferior ,andthisbourgeois fallacywashandeddown,likemostideas, to the English lowerorders throughthenewmass mediumof thepennypress. MissBolt'sbookisdividedintofivetopicalchapters. Eachhasitsmerits,but it isa sadreflection on theworkasa wholethat thechapters arecogent almost in reverse proportion to theiroriginality. Besides, an unevenness in the depth andbreadthof treatmentdoes notaidperspective. In dealingwith theJamaican revoltof •865 the authorfocusses on a singleevent,in the 'Africa Rediviva' section sheconcentrates on the two decades after •88o,andin the chapteron the achievement of freedomfor negroes in the United Stateson the somewhat restricted areaof her own specialized interest.Moreover,not evenin the first chapter on'TheScientific View'orthelast,onIndia,does MissBoltkeeprigidly to thedefinition of theVictorianage (•85o-•9oo, not •837-•9oe) shesets out to cover,but drawsparallelsfrom moderntimeswhile alsoimplyingas exclusively 'Victorian'attitudes whichmighthavebeenmatched a century or even two centuries earlier. Potentiallythe mostvaluablechapteris that which dealswith the theories, opinions, and attitudesof Victorian scientists. Typically, Miss Bolt provides muchintriguingdetailof the waysin whichsuchquasi-scientific branches of primitive anthropology asskinspectrometry, craniometry, linguistics, andeugen- REVIEWS 209 icswereusedastoolsof racialprejudice. Yet in treatingthemuchmoredecisive influence of Darwinism, MissBoltmakes toomuchof the scientific impactof polygeneticism on the monogeneticism œavoured by Christianfundamentalists. Surelythesuccess of HerbertSpencer's crudepopularisation of Darwin'stheory of natural selection as 'the survivalof the fittest'merelyshowsthat when so minded,Victoriansupremacists wereascapableof turninga scientific theory of humanevolutionto their purposes aspre-DarwinianChristianslave-owners wereabletousebiblicalmyths-suchastheexpulsion fromEdenorNoah'scurseto 'explain'theinferiorityandperpetuate thesubordination...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-1093
Print ISSN
0008-3755
Pages
pp. 207-209
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-06
Open Access
No
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