16 NOVEMBER 1907, Page 11


Factors in Modern History. By A. F. Pollard, M.A. (A. Con- stable and Co. 7s. 6d.)—Mr. Pollard is one of the few writers on matters historical whose views are sufficiently liberal to admit of the conception that neither the dignity nor the value of their subject is impaired by the infusion of a certain amount of light- ness of style into the treatment of it. His latest volume consists of eleven thoughtful and illuminative essays which are delight- fully lacking in that cumbrousness of style and seriousness of aspect which so many historical writers seem to regard as a sine qua non. In consequence, it unquestionably merits the adjective "readable," which is more often bestowed than deserved. The standpoint from which the essays are written is explained in the second of them, which has as its subject " The Advent of the Middle Class." "There are three or four questions which every student of history is called upon to answer ; some of them elementary, some profound. There is the question' when ? and the question where? the question how ? and the question why ?" So stated these questions are, Mr. Pollard thinks, in inverse order to their importance. The one whioh is at the same time the most profound and the most neglected is the question why ? In pursuance of this belief, he concerns himself with causes rather than with effects. In one of the essays, for instance, he subjects national oharaetsr—that " &us ex machind which is evolved to settle any problem that cannot readily be solved by methods of rational investigation "—to a searching analysis, which results in it being deprived to a great extent of its causal importance. " 'Saxon, or Norman, or Dane are we,' sang Tennyson : but the exigencies of time, space, and metre prevented him from giving an exhaustive list. We are also Scots, Irish, Welsh, Germans, French, Spaniards, and Italians

—not to mention the lost Ten Tribes Nationality, then, is something more and something less than race. It is mutable: it is complex : and compared with race it is modern It is the effect rather than the cause of history, though in its turn it does affect the course of history." "Underlying principles" and "basic. facts" may be the stock-in-trade phrases of many a writer who deals in neither, but it is with these in their truest signifi- cance that Mr. Pollard's volume is concerned.