Title Reviewed:
Essays in Modern European History

Author Reviewed:
John J. Murray

Robert R. Rea


Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 90-93

Article Type:
Book Review

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Essays in Modern European History. Edited by John J. Murray. Social Science Series, No. 10, Indiana University Publications (Bloomington: Indiana University, 1951, pp. 150. Portraits. Paper edition, $2.25; cloth edition, $3.50.)

"The end of the voyage at last!" So wrote William Thomas Morgan upon the completion of his monumental Bibliography of British History, 1700–1715. So might the reviewer treat of these Essays in Modern European History dedicated to the memory of the late Professor Morgan by the authors, his students. But it is one of the great felicities of the teaching profession that the very dedication belies itself in seven articles which still further extend the lines of inquiry pursued by Morgan at Indiana University.

Of the man and his work little need be said. The appreciation of his university has been graciously expressed by President Herman B Wells in a preface to this volume. The editor has provided a sketch of Morgan's career as a student, as the winner of the Herbert B. Adams prize in 1919, and as an internationally honored professor of European history at Bloomington for twenty-seven years. With his passing in 1946, the historical profession "lost a most dutiful and devoted son, and Indiana … lost an excellent teacher. Yet neither were complete losers, for Professor Morgan will always live in the minds of historians and in the hearts of his students. He has already taken his place as part of the tradition of Indiana University. … Future generations will profit by his scholarship … but they will unfortunately be denied the joyous stimulation which was only to be had through personal contact with the man."

The essays which compose this memorial admirably reflect the interests of their intellectual sponsor. Two articles delve into the politics of Queen Anne's reign, a field in which Morgan was the unrivaled master. Drawing upon a wealth of pamphlets and parliamentary materials, Doris M. Reed follows the fortunes—or more exactly the misfortunes—of "The Tackers in the Election of 1705." Political principle was seldom a decisive factor in eighteenth century elections, but Miss Reed clearly indicates the disastrous effect upon its supporters of the attempted tacking of Occasional Conformity to the 1704 Land Tax Bill. Catherine E. Langford's essay on "The British General Election of 1713" is more ambitious in scope but lacks the nice completeness of the preceding article. Miss Langford unveils many interesting scenes from an election which was marked by the usual amenities, but never quite flood-lights the entire stage. The Tory victory is attributed to popular approval of the peace, Oxford's political skill, and royal patronage, but the importance of the Protestant succession as an issue is left as beclouded for the modern reader as it was for the contemporary elector. The author has amply demonstrated the need for further studies of this type and of this particular election. A primary objective would seem to be the determination of the results of the polling in terms of actual membership in the House of Commons.

While politicians fought for loaves and fishes at home, English seamen built and defended an empire. Robert H. Irrmann touches upon the career of a great naval leader in his essay "Gallia Frustra: Edward Russell and the Attempted Jacobite Invasion of 1696." In that year William III was marked for assassination and French forces were assembled along the Channel. But the king was forewarned and Admiral Russell forearmed. The French refrained from offering battle to superior English forces and this threat, like so many others, came to naught. There was nothing exceptional in Russell's guard-mount, though much illustrative of English defensive tactics, and even Irrmann is at a loss to find any "remote implications" in his hero's last sea action. As the First Lord of the Admiralty retired to the beach, however, younger officers sailed afar. John J. Murray follows the wake of Commodore John Norris as he tersely describes "Anglo-French Naval Skirmishing off Newfoundland, 1697." Except that Norris was shackled by a divided command and faulty reconnaissance the episode might be termed a comedy of errors. The loot of Cartagena slipped through Norris' fingers as he dug in at St. John's, but his presence there safeguarded the colony from utter destruction at the hands of a powerful French battle fleet which was awed by his preparations. The negotiators at Ryswick had already guaranteed British Newfoundland, however, and the hapless Commodore's reward was loss of his command! But then "Foul-weather Jack" Norris was never noted for his good luck. That same ingredient was noticeably lacking in the career of Daniel Parke, the storm-center of Ruth M. Bourne's "Anitgua, 1710: Revolution in Microcosm." Parke, who brought Queen Anne the news of Blenheim, was the "dissolute, arrogant, avaricious" governor of the largest and richest of the Leeward Islands. He was "a self-seeking placeman on the one hand, and, on the other, a brave and loyal defender of the royal prerogative in the plantations." To say that those he sought to govern were little worse or that Parke's loyalty bordered on stupidity is not to extenuate but rather to explain why, on December 7, 1710, the governor was seized by a mob and most viciously done to death. Miss Bourne finds at base such factors as colonial opposition, the mercantile system, and demands for self-government and the rights of Englishmen, but wisely she does not push them to the fore. Parke was his own excuse for a revolution in microcosm.

The last two essays in this volume deal with Anglo-French diplomacy. James E. Swain's "Talleyrand and the Independence of Belgium" comes from the French and English archives and adheres closely to the dispatch boxes. In evaluating the work of the Parisian emissary to St. James the author declares: "the legend that Talleyrand engineered the settlement for Belgium, that he carried it through single handed, and that he dominated all the sessions is utterly without support." He is portrayed as a feeble old man who went home admitting defeat. Along a quite different tangent David White Trafford approaches "The Ruhr and French Security as Reflected by the British and French Presses, 1923." This is a study of opinion expressed in some twenty newspapers concerning the occupation of the Ruhr by the French army. The tortuous course of diplomacy is meticulously paralleled by press comment, and the result is a clear picture of post-war English feeling toward a late ally.

Essays in Modern European History concludes with a list of the "Publications of Professor William T. Morgan"—five books and fifty articles—and the names of twenty-six "Students who received degrees under Professor Morgan's direction and their theses' titles." John J. Murray, who has capably succeeded to Morgan's position at Indiana University is to be commended upon a thorough editorial assignment and the presentation of an almost faultless text. His selection of essays has produced a volume both interesting and valuable—a worthy tribute to the man whose scholarship and teaching ties the whole together in memoriam.

Alabama Polytechnic Institute

Robert R. Rea

Published by the Indiana University Department of History.