The King's Reign. A commentary in prose and picture. By God Save the King. By Lady Cynthia Asquith. (Chapman and.
Hall. 2s. &I.) - The Reign of King George V. By Sir J. A. R. Marriott. (Methuen. 2s. 6d.)
The Book of the King's Jubilee. Edited by Sir Philip Gibbs. Five hundred illustrations. (Hutchinson. 3s. 6d.) THE first book on this list is purely and simply a picture- book; Sir Austen Chamberlain's contribution being limited to a
one-page introduction in which he proposes the King's health in conventional terms. The pictures are by no means
restricted to • the activities of the Royal Family. We have• also—is it for contrast or merely for variety ?—studies of Mussolini, Trotsky, and Gandhi, and photographs illustrating
the triumphs of speed.
The King's Reign may be called more than half a picture book, for it had its genesis in a film presented at the Movietone News Theatre, for which Mr. Drinkwater wrote and spoke a commentary. To the present volume - he contributes a survey of some eighty pages, covering not only the King's activities but the progress of science, art, literature and sport during the King's reign. The paragraph in which Mr. Drinkwater 'states the difficulty confronting King George as a king of a democratized society, the difficulty of being dignified without being aloof, is very happily and judiciously phrased.
The next two books, God Save the King and The Reign of
King George V, are both of pocket size and, though illus- trated, are by no means primarily picture books. Lady
Cynthia Asquith's book is a personal study of the King and Queen, written with great felicity and a good deal of inside information. The contrast between Edward VII and his son could not be better expressed than in the statement that King George's subjects "had to grow accustomed to gentle kindliness in place of infectious geniality, to shy dignity in place of easy courtliness." Admirable, too, is the account of the Queen, who has spent more time in the library and less in the kitchen, the larder, and the linen cupboard than some of her admirers appear to suppose. In fact this is an excellent little hook. It is the only one of these six books that the present reviewer feels any desire to keep as a personal possession.
With Tht Reign we pass into the hands of a professional
historian, and learn that no British sovereign has ever cele- brated a Silver Jubilee before. Whether anything would have been done on June 20th, /862, one cannot tell, for all notions of festivity had been rendered inappropriate by
the death of the Prince Consort in the previous December. The mind strays backward to the contemplation of other possible but uneelebmted Silver Jubilees. Henry VIII, for example, could have fitted it in neatly between the divorce of Catherine and the judicial murder of Anne Boleyn. Sir John Marriott's little book is a short and rather text-bookish .hi4tOry- of the reign. It has in it very little about the King and Queen until the last chapter, and, incidentally, it mis- states the result of the 1910 election.
If quantity be what is wanted, then The Book of the King's Jubilee easily heads the list. With its 500 pages and 500 pictures it must contain more than as much illustration and letterpress as the four previous books all taken together: . The sub-title of the book is "The Life and Times of our King
and Queen and their, people, 18654935." Thus it covers a very much wider field: It is an excellent compilation mi.,' very good value fcir the money: • Among the many- etnions facts I Shave learnt from its pages is this: that King George invented and patented- a circulating fire-place *hitch; 'fixed in the wall between two rooms, can be swung round to warm either as occasion requires.
The last book on the list, The King's First Ambassador,
is not; strictly speaking, a Jubilee book at all. Mr. Basil Maine traces the admirable career of his hero in a style nikieh can hardly be called terse. Perhaps the most valuable thing in the book is an -appendix containing thirteen Of the Prince's speeches on public occasions from 1919 to the present day.
D. C. SOitERVELL.