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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 of thenegro. Despite thesubject's abidinginterest, thisbookhaslittlefor thegeneralreader. Eventhelong-suffering 'specialist' wouldwelcomean adequateintroductionon sources and the historical and sociological context,aswell asa summarythat tiedthedetailintoa valuablesynthesis. Instead,all we haveisan unsatisfactory 'Noteon Press Sources' tackedon thebeginning, and a Conclusion that consists of a reiterationof someof the ideasof the firstchapterand a strivingfor contemporaryrelevance that simplyaddsa trendygloss to what is, in sum,an industrious but tedious exercise in exhumation. MICHAEL CRATON University o[ Waterloo Drink and the Victorians:The TemperanceQuestionin England, •8•5-•87•. BR•aN H•a•RtSON. London,FaberandFaber[Toronto,Oxford UniversityPress], t97•. Pp.5xo,illus.$t9.oo. For theVictorianworkingman,learning to copewith drinkwasa criticalstep towards'respectability,' that blessed stateof moral seriousness and economic independence whichcontrasted markedlywith the waysof the 'rough'poor. It wasnotan easystepto take.AsBrianHarrisonshows in thismassive and thorough book,alcoholic drinkwasan ever-present part of the fabricof life in the pre-Victorian decade;the principalescape from slummisery,its consumptionwasalsothechiefentertainment of thepoor.It wasa universal pain-killer, thefocus offestivity,andthecommon tonicformentalandemotionaldepression. Drinkingplaces wereeverywhere: centres of recreationand meeting-places for thepoor,bases of comfortin a roughworld,centres of news,gossip, and trade, andkeypoints in the system of publictransport beforetherailwayage.By the •87osmanyfunctions of pre-Victoriandrinkingplaces were beingperformed by otheragencies. Yet statistics showthat 'drunkenness wasstill rampant.'The temperance movement, whichwasbornandgrewpowerfuland complex in the earlyandmid-Victorianyears,'hadinsulated an •lite from temptation;it had produced nonation-wide temperance "reformation".' Howeversmallthe success of themovementin achieving its main end,there canbenodoubtofitsimportance asaVictoriansocial andpoliticalphenomenon. Harrisonisat hisbestwhen he analyses the class characterof the main modes of temperance agitation. At oneendofthescale werephilanthropists andAnglicanbishops whofinanced andpatronized theverymodestly successful 'roodera- 210 THE CANADIAN HISTORICAL REVIEW tionist'Britishand ForeignTemperance Society, whoseobjectwasto 'confirm thesober in theirsobriety ratherthantoreclaimtheintemperate,' to strengthen thesocial orderratherthantochange it. In contrast, teetotallers appealed directly to the drunkard,identifiedwith theworking-man's aspirationfor respectability, andprovided himwith a vehicle for achieving thatstatus. Teetotalleaders were mostly politicalradicals andnonconformists, menwhoprotested against thingsas -they-were in many waysand throughmany organizations (including,of course, theLiberalparty), andwhoworkedin combination with thearistocracy of theworkingclass. Twenty yearsof persuasion failed to bring aboutnationaltemperance, and by the mid-5os manyteetotallers abandoned voluntaryism, formedthe United KingdomAlliance,andpressed forlegislation toenforce ortopermitprohibition of the saleof drink.Far from dogmatic devotees of laissez-[aire, these middleclass Victorians( themovement recruited fewsupporters fromthetoporbottom ofsociety) sought torestrict theircountrymen's intolerable freedomtogetdrunk. Alliancepressure onan unsympathetic Parliamentreached astonishing proportions in the•86os;andin theearly•87osGladstone's government responded with a billthatproposed radicalrestrictions onthesaleandconsumption of alcoholic drink. It did not,however, go all theway. Unable to toleratecompromise, the Alliancefailed to providestrongsupportfor the government's positiveaction. Altogether, Harrisonfindsfar moreweaknesses than strengths in the principal formsofVictoriantemperance agitation. Only the'counter-attractionists' (those whoreliedmoreonprovidingalternatives to drinkthanonrestricting consumptionwhetherbymoralsuasion or legislation)receive hiswholehearted approval. Drink and the Victoriansgivesa pictureof VictorianEnglandwhichwill fascinate historians foryears tocome.It isa strikingly symmetrical picture;and themain linesare cleardespitea massof intriguingdetail.Readersmay occasionallywonderif the clarity of the designhas not somewhat obscured the complexity of thematter.For example, in hisconcern to emphasize thesignificanceof 'the "two nations"of Anglicanand Nonconformist' for temperance reform, the authoris keento demonstrate the overwhelmingly Nonconformist baseof both the early teetotaland prohibitionist movements and the general Anglicanopposition to these campaigns. He isright to do this.Yet, on hisown evidence, Anglicans providedthe second largestsingledenominational group amongthe teetotalleaders whose religionisknown(4• out of •73). Similarly, of those whoattended an I857 alliance ministerial conference, thesecond largest group(16 per cent) wascomposed of Anglicanpriests. One maydoubtHarrison 's viewthatthechurches' developing enthusiasm fortemperance (asfor other campaigns for social improvement)had a 'long-term secularizing tendency' in attempting to 'substitute a unitedmoralreformcrusade for the traditionalconcentration onliturgical,doctrinalandorganizational questions.' 'Secularization' isaslippery concept, muchdisputed bysociologists ofreligion. Whatever it really means,it is clear that mid-VictorianAnglo-Catholics, BroadChurchmen,and LiberalDissenters didnotaccept thesharpdivision between religious andsecular whichHarrisonascribes to the Evangelicals, and whichhe assumes to be the accepted theological frameworkof mid-VictorianChristians. REVIEWS 211 These aresmallcriticisms. DrinkandtheVictorians isa veryimportant book. It isessential reading foranystudent of VictorianEngland. BRIAN HEENEY Trent University...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-1093
Print ISSN
0008-3755
Pages
pp. 209-211
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-06
Open Access
No
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