2 DECEMBER 1899, Page 13

/Pra Giro/am° Savonarola. By Herbert Lucas, S.J. (Sands and Co.

7s. 6d.)—One of the principal functions of the writers of history in our day seems to be 'the correcting of the impressions left on the minds of readers by the work of earlier historians who allowed themselves to be swayed by personal prejudices in forming an estimate of some character, or who failed to use some store of original information now open to the investigator. Such work has besmirched many cherished heroes and whitewashed many recognised villains ; and the general public pursues its way with a feeling of doubt as to who shall be the permanent occupant of any place in. either list. The character and history of Savonarola lend themselves with special facility to the panegyric of the disciple or the vituperation of the opponent, and have received plenty of treatment of both kinds, though not fully meriting either. Father Lucas takes the position of the modern historian, and disentangles the story he has to tell from the con- fusion which covers it. He has not discovered fresh facts, but he has re-read the old ones, has gone back once more to Savona- rola's own sermons, to the reports of his conversations kept by some of his brother monks, to the lengthy correspondence between him and the Vatican authorities, and, finally, to the accounts, official and other, of the statements made by him when undergoing repeated examination by torture. From this material Father Lucas is able, with the dispassionate judgment of these days,' to form his opinion of the character of the man he is con- sidering. Such an opinion is of permanent value to students of mediteval history, and to all who wish to know more of one of its

• most interesting figures. It is presented to us in a clear and readable form by Father Lucas, and though his narrative has lost something of the picturesque vividness of older writers, it will occupy a worthy place in the list of books devoted to the study of Savonarola, as summing up all the information respecting him available at the present time.