23 APRIL 1937, Page 30



By Percy Colson

The public history of this extra- ordinary fanatic (Robert Hale, 12s. 6d.) begins in 1778 with the passing of the Savile Act, which was designed to remove the harshest disabilities of English Catholics. Lord George Gordon was then in his 27th year. As a midship- man on the West Indies station he had seen something of the American War of Independence. There he absorbed ideas of freedom which made him one of the early aristocratic Radicals—Mr. Colson says, oddly, the first aristocratic Socialist. Agitation in London against the Savile Act gave full play to his fierce anti-Popery, and the hideous Gordon Riots of 178o assured him his place in the history of England. The famous trial before Lord Mansfield ended in acquittal, but seven years later he was sentenced to two years in Newgate

for libelling Marie Antoinette ! By that time, however, he was no longer a Gordon, but Israel Bar Abraham, a full-bearded circumcised Jew. A Hebrew still, this strange and often generous creature died in 1793—the wildest freak thrown up by the Scottish aristocracy of the eighteenth century. Mr. Colson has worked well over all the records. Their abundance and the uniqueness of the story should have availed to keep him away from the childish comment into which he habitu- ally falls. The publisher's jacket states that the book is the result of collabor- ation with Dr. Cecil Roth, but Dr. Roth's name does not appear on the title-page or in the text.