1 JOURNAL OF EUROPEAN INTEGRATION HISTORY REVUE D'HISTOIRE DE L'INTÉGRATION EUROPÉENNE ZEITSCHRIFT FÜR GESCHICHTE DER EUROPÄISCHEN INTEGRATION edited by the Groupe de liaison des professeurs d'histoire contemporaine auprès de la Commission européenne 1996, Volume 2, Number 2 NOMOS Verlagsgesellschaft Baden-Baden
2 Editors Published twice a year by the Groupe de liaison des professeurs d'histoire contemporaine auprès de la Commission européenne in cooperation with the Jean Monnet Chairs in History of European Integration with the support of the European Commission, DG X University Information Editorial Board DEIGHTON, Anne St. Antony's College, Oxford DUMOULIN, Michel Université catholique de Louvain Jean Monnet Chair GIRAULT, René Université Paris I - Sorbonne GUIRAO, Fernando Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona Jean Monnet Chair KEOGH, Dermot University College Cork, Ireland Jean Monnet Chair KERSTEN, Albert Rijksuniversiteit, Leiden LOTH, Wilfried Universität-Gesamthochschule Essen Jean Monnet Chair MIL WARD, Alan S. The London School of Economics and Political Science POIDEVIN, Raymond Université de Strasbourg III SCHWABE, Klaus Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen Jean Monnet Chair TRAUSCH, Gilbert Centre Robert Schuman, Université de Liège VARSORI, Antonio Università degli Studi di Firenze Jean Monnet Chair JOURNAL OF EUROPEAN INTEGRATION HISTORY REVUE D'HISTOIRE DE L'INTÉGRATION EUROPÉENNE ZEITSCHRIFT FÜR GESCHICHTE DER EUROPÄISCHEN INTEGRATION Editorial Secretariat Gilbert Trausch, director Prof. Monique Kieffer, assistant director Address: Centre d'études et de recherches européennes Robert Schuman 4 Rue Jules Wilhelm L-2728 Luxembourg Tel.: (3 52) / Fax.: (3 52)
3 Dieses Dokument wurde erstellt mit FrameMaker Introductory note Introduction Einführung 1 JOURNAL OF EUROPEAN INTEGRATION HISTORY REVUE D HISTOIRE DE L INTÉGRATION EUROPÉENNE ZEITSCHRIFT FÜR GESCHICHTE DER EUROPÄISCHEN INTEGRATION edited by the Groupe de liaison des professeurs d histoire contemporaine auprès de la Commission européenne 1996, Volume 2, Number 2
4 2 Introductory note Introduction Einführung The Liaison Committee of Historians came into being in 1982 as a result of an important international symposium, that the Commission had organized in Luxembourg in order to launch historical research on European integration. It consists of historians of the European Union member countries, who have specialized in contemporary history. The Liaison Committee: gathers and conveys information about works on European history after the Second World War; advises the European Union in the matter of scientific projects to be carried through. Thus, the Liaison Committee was commissioned to make publicly available the archives of the Community institutions; enables researchers to make better use of the archival sources; promotes scientific meetings in order to get an update of the acquired knowledge and to stimulate new research: five research conferences have been organized and their proceedings published, a sixth conference will take place in Oxford in 1996, the seventh conference will be organized in Rome in The Journal of European History Revue d histoire de l intégration européenne Zeitschrift für Geschichte der europäischen Integration is totally in line with the preoccupations of the Liaison Committee. Being the first journal of history to deal exclusively with the history of European Integration, the Journal intends to offer the increasing number of young historians devoting their research to contemporary Europe, a permanent forum. At the same time, the Liaison Committee publishes the Newsletter of the European Community Liaison Committee of Historians and of the Jean Monnet Chairs in History of European Integration. The Newsletter publishes in particular an important current bibliography of theses and dissertations, books and articles dealing with European integration and presents the syllabuses of research institutes and centres in the field of European history. The Liaison Committee is supported by the European Commission and works completely independently and according to the historians critical method. Le Groupe de liaison des professeurs d histoire auprès de la Commission des Communautés européennes s est constitué en 1982 à la suite d un grand colloque que la Commission avait organisé à Luxembourg pour lancer la recherche historique sur la construction européenne. Il regroupe des professeurs d université des pays membres de l Union européenne, spécialistes d histoire contemporaine. Le Groupe de liaison a pour mission: de diffuser l information sur les travaux portant sur l histoire de l Europe après la Seconde Guerre mondiale; de conseiller l Union européenne sur les actions scientifiques à entreprendre avec son appui; ainsi le Groupe de liaison a assuré une mission concernant la mise à la disposition du public des archives des institutions communautaires; d aider à une meilleure utilisation par les chercheurs des moyens de recherche mis à leur disposition (archives, sources orales...); d encourager des rencontres scientifiques afin de faire le point sur les connaissances acquises et de susciter de nouvelles recherches: cinq grands colloques ont été organisés et leurs actes publiés, un sixième colloque aura lieu à Oxford en 1996, un septième à Rome en L édition du Journal of European Integration History Revue d histoire de l intégration européenne Zeitschrift für Geschichte der europäischen Integration se situe dans le droit fil des préoccupations du Groupe de liaison. Première revue d histoire à se consacrer exclusivement à l histoire de la construction européenne, le Journal se propose de fournir un forum permanent au nombre croissant de jeunes historiens vouant leurs recherches à l Europe contemporaine. Parallèlement le Groupe de liaison édite la Lettre d information du Groupe de liaison des professeurs d histoire auprès de la Commission européenne et du réseau des Chaires Jean Monnet en histoire de l Intégration. La Lettre d information publie notamment une importante bibliographie courante des thèses et mémoires, livres et articles consacrés à la construction européenne et présente les programmes des instituts et centres de recherche en matière d histoire européenne. Le Groupe de liaison bénéficie du soutien de la Commission européenne. Ses colloques et publications se font en toute indépendance et conformément à la méthode critique qui est celle des historiens.
5 JOURNAL OF EUROPEAN INTEGRATION HISTORY REVUE D'HISTOIRE DE L'INTÉGRATION EUROPÉENNE ZEITSCHRIFT FÜR GESCHICHTE DER EUROPÄISCHEN INTEGRATION 1996, Volume 2, Number 2 Anne DEIGHTON, coordinator Philip BELL, A Historical Cast of Mind. Some Eminent English Historians and Attitudes to Continental Europe in the Middle of the Twentieth Century 5 Yves STELANDRE, Les pays du Benelux, l'europe politique et les négociations Fouchet (26 juin avril 1962) 21 Hartmut MAYER, Germany's Role in the Fouchet Negotiations 39 Gilbert NOEL, Le Patronat: CNPF et CCI face à l'organisation d'une communauté agricole européenne entre 1950 et Monika DICKHAUS, Facing the Common Market: The German Central Bank and the Establishing of the EEC, Book reviews - Comptes rendus - Buchbesprechungen 109 Notices - Informations - Mitteilungen 121 Abstracts - Résumés - Zusammenfassungen 125 Contributors - Auteurs - Autoren 131 Books received - Livres reçus - Eingegangene Bücher 133
6 4 Introductory note Introduction Einführung Editorial notice Articles for inclusion in this journal may be submitted at any time. The editorial board will then arrange for the article to be refereed. Articles should not be longer than 6000 words, footnotes included. They may be in English, French or German. Articles submitted to the Journal should be original contributions and not be submitted to any other publication at the same time as to the Journal of European Integration History. Authors should retain a copy of their article. The publisher and editors cannot accept responsibility for loss of or damage to author s typescripts or disks. The accuracy of, and views expressed in articles and reviews are the sole responsibility of the authors. Authors should ensure that typescripts conform with the journal style. Prospective contributors should obtain further guidelines from the Editorial Secretariat. Articles, reviews, communications relating to articles and books for review should be sent to the Editorial Secretariat. Citation The Journal of European Integration History may be cited as follows: JEIH, (Year)/(Number), (Page). ISSN NOMOS Verlagsgesellschaft, Baden-Baden and the Groupe de liaison des professeurs d histoire contemporaine auprès de la Commission européenne. Printed in Germany. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of the publishers.
7 Dieses Dokument wurde erstellt mit FrameMaker A Historical Cast of Mind 5 A Historical Cast of Mind. Some Eminent English Historians and Attitudes to Continental Europe in the Middle of the Twentieth Century Philip Bell The cast of mind which predominates in a generation is not easy to assess or define. Yet an understanding of that cast of mind is every bit as important for historical study as, let us say, the analysis of specific decisions by statesmen or officials.* James Joll urged us long ago to look for the unspoken assumptions which often lie at the back of political leaders minds and influence their actions. 1 Among those assumptions are those arising from views of the past. The historians who are the subject of this essay reached a readership far beyond the restricted circles of professional historians or academic students of history. Their books were indeed widely used in universities and schools, but they also formed part of the staple diet of the intelligent reading public. Their role was a dual one. On the one hand they gave literary expression (and this phrase is important) to a trend of thought which was powerful in their own generation; and on the other they transmitted that trend of thought to others, partly through the force and quality of their literary style, which gave their works a wide appeal. The three historians chosen for discussion are George Macaulay Trevelyan, Herbert A.L. Fisher and Arthur Bryant. Of these, the most eminent was certainly Trevelyan, whose standing in his later years has been precisely caught by David Cannadine: Britain s unofficial Historian Laureate, the Hereditary Keeper of the Nation s Collective Memory. 2 That description lies at the heart of the discussion which follows. Fisher and Bryant did not enjoy such unchallenged pre-eminence; but in their very different ways they attained considerable reputations. This essay sets out to examine what these eminent historians had to say about relations between Britain and continental Europe; or rather, in most cases, between England and Europe. Trevelyan deliberately entitled two of his key books History of England and English Social History. Fisher often continued to refer to England long after Britain had come into existence. Bryant tended to use the two words almost interchangeably. The point is more important than one of simple nomenclature, because attitudes towards continental Europe in Scotland, Wales and Ireland have often differed from those prevailing in England. We must be aware of this difficulty, but for practical purposes can do little about it, because we can only follow the usage of the authors themselves. Close reading of their work shows, with * Not for the first time, I am most grateful to David Dutton, who read an earlier version of this essay and made invaluable comments. 1. J. JOLL, 1914: The Unspoken Assumptions, Inaugural Lecture at the London School of Economics, April 1968, reprinted in H.W. KOCH, ed., The Origins of the First World War: Great Power Rivalry and War Aims, London D. CANNADINE, G.M. Trevelyan. A Life in History, London 1992, p.26.
8 6 Philip Bell very little doubt, that all three had a strong sense of English history, identity and destiny which lay at the heart of their thought and (more important) their sentiments. We shall be primarily concerned, therefore, with the views of these three historians on English relations with Europe. Some detailed exposition is required to bring out the weight of their authority, the extent of their readership, and the main themes which they expounded. In conclusion I will try to sum up the cast of mind which they both expressed and encouraged, and speculate on its influence on the vexed question of Britain s place in Europe in the mid-twentieth century. The family background, education and intellectual standing of the three writers help us to understand the platform from which they expounded their views and some of the sources of their influence. 3 George Macaulay Trevelyan was born in 1876, the youngest son of Sir George Otto Trevelyan, himself a nephew of Lord Macaulay, whose History of England dominated the Victorian historical landscape. His family were landed gentry from Northumberland, accustomed to the life of country estates, politics, public service, literature and learning. He was educated at Harrow, one of the most distinguished English independent schools, and then at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he took a First Class degree in History. He married Janet Ward, who was herself part of a formidable family of Victorian intellectuals. He moved easily in the highest academic, cultural and political circles. The phrase effortless superiority would have fitted him to perfection, if he had not in fact devoted most of his life to unremitting intellectual and social effort. He was appointed Master of Trinity by Winston Churchill, the then Prime Minister, in One of Trevelyan s friends, through historical, Liberal Party, and personal connections was Herbert Fisher. Fisher was a few years older than Trevelyan, being born in 1865; and they were of similar class and intellectual background. At the time of Fisher s birth, his father was private secretary to the Prince of Wales. He had family links with Leslie Stephen, and so with Virginia Woolf. He married Lettice Ilbert, daughter of Sir Courtnay Ilbert, later Clerk of the House of Commons. He was educated at Winchester, the intellectual power-house among independent schools (where he won a prize medal for an essay on The insular position of Great Britain ); and then at New College, Oxford, where he took a Double First in Classics before becoming a Fellow of the College. He was later Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield; a member of a Royal Commis- 3. On Trevelyan, see CANNADINE, Trevelyan; M. MOORMAN, George Macaulay Trevelyan. A Memoir, London 1980 the author was Trevelyan s daughter; and J.H. PLUMB, G.M. Trevelyan, London On Fisher, D. OGG, Herbert Fisher, A Short Biography, London On Bryant, there is an admiring personal memoir by P. STREET, Arthur Bryant. Portrait of a Historian, London 1979, and a highly critical essay, Patriotism: the Last Refuge of Sir Arthur Bryant, in A. ROBERTS, Eminent Churchillians, London, paperback ed., 1995.
9 A Historical Cast of Mind 7 sion on the public services in India; and President of the Board of Education (effectively, Minister of Education) in Lloyd George s government. In he was one of the three principal British delegates to the Assembly of the League of Nations. He returned to New College as Warden in 1925, and remained there until his death in Arthur Bryant was born in 1899, and so was of a later generation. However, his father (like Fisher s) was a member of the Prince of Wales s household (and it was still the same Prince). Bryant went to school at Harrow, where he was taught by the same History master as Trevelyan. After that, his path diverged from the golden road followed by the other two. He joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1917, when he was just 18, and served in France until the end of the Great War. On demobilisation he went to Queen s College, Oxford, where he achieved a Distinction in History on a shortened course for ex-servicemen. He then taught in a London school; became Principal of an adult education college in Cambridgeshire; and later moved to Oxford, not as a Fellow of a college but as a lecturer in the Extension Delegacy, mainly offering evening classes to the general public. Bryant thus never held a fully-fledged academic post, but remained an outsider in university life. He wrote successful popular biographies of Charles II and Samuel Pepys, and in 1936 he succeeded G.K. Chesterton as the writer of a weekly column, Our Notebook in the Illustrated London News, a weekly magazine with a wide middle-brow readership. This launched him on a career in journalism which lasted for most of his life; notably he wrote for the mass-circulation Daily Express and Sunday Express, entering a very different environment from the rarefied atmosphere of Trinity or New College. In politics he was strongly Conservative, in contrast to the Liberalism of Trevelyan and Fisher; in the 1930s he was editor of the Ashridge Journal, a quarterly produced by a Conservative think tank, and he directed a right-wing book club, the National Book Association. Nonetheless, he also wrote a short book on Macaulay, from which there developed an association with Trevelyan, who despite their political differences encouraged Bryant in his historical work. Both Trevelyan and Fisher were strongly European in their culture and personal contacts. Trevelyan, when he was only twenty-one, visited Milan with Lord Acton. In 1899 and subsequent years he walked through the mountains between Rome and the Adriatic (the scene of Garibaldi s retreat from Rome in 1849), and he developed the same feel for the Italian countryside as he had for his own Border hills. His three glowing volumes on Garibaldi expressed his love for an idealised Italy. During the Great War he raised and led an ambulance unit on the Italian front. He was also at home in Paris and familiar with French historians. Fisher s education in the classics gave him a profound belief in the unity of European civilisation, derived from ancient Greece and Rome. When he took up his Fellowship at Oxford, he spent six months in Paris, where he attended lectures by Sorel and Lavisse, met Taine and Renan, and absorbed a French intellectual influence which pervaded his later work. In 1909 he published a book on Bonapartism. After the Great War his post at the League of Nations enlarged his European contacts. In his last published article, in 1940, he expressed the hope that the Nazi fever would pass away, and
10 8 Philip Bell that France and Britain will at last find a modus vivendi with the Germans and Italians who have helped with them to build up the fabric of European civilisation. 4 Politically as well as intellectually, Trevelyan and Fisher shared a type of Liberal internationalism which formed part of the Gladstonian inheritance. Bryant did not. In the 1930s he made forays into European affairs, writing favourably about Hitler in 1934 (when several others did the same), and as late as 1939 choosing an abbreviated translation of Mein Kampf as Book of the Month for the National Book Association. He made an ill-judged visit to Germany in July 1939; advocated a compromise peace during the phoney war; and published in April 1940 a book, Unfinished Victory, which offered a sort of apologia for the Nazi regime in Germany. At that point, in the summer of 1940, he swung rapidly and completely round, and adopted (along with the rest of the country) a fiercely patriotic stance. 5 His historical works during the rest of the war concentrated on encouraging the British people by reminding them of their endurance and final victory during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. This made a very different approach to the past from that adopted by Trevelyan and Fisher, and makes it all the more interesting and significant that all three often shared the same attitudes on relations between England and Europe. All three practised, in their different ways, immensely readable styles: Trevelyan s romantic and pastoral, Fisher s spare and elegant, Bryant s colourful and nostalgic. But style alone does not explain their wide appeal. They wrote for readers who were willing to tackle books of five hundred, seven hundred, or even (in Fisher s case) twelve hundred pages; and they presented something which those readers were eager to hear and absorb. Let us look at some of the books published by these authors, chosen by reason of their intellectual significance, wide circulation, and the nature of their contents. The works chosen are: Trevelyan s History of England, with some reference also to his English Social History: Fisher s History of Europe; and Bryant s Years of Endurance, and Years of Victory, Trevelyan s History of England was first published in June Second and third editions appeared in 1937 and 1945; and each of these first three editions was reprinted several times. By 1949 the book had sold some two hundred thousand copies. Its popularity has continued since then, notably in two illustrated editions. This is a remarkable publishing history, especially for a book of over seven hundred closely printed pages. 6 In addition to sales, it was popular in public libraries and prominent in the libraries of schools and universities. Usage in academic librar- 4. Fortnightly Review, Feb. 1940, quoted in OGG, Fisher, pp This account rests on the new material set out in ROBERTS, Eminent Churchillians, pp The publishing history may be traced from the British Library catalogue and notes in the various editions; the sales figure is in CANNADINE, Trevelyan, p.23.
11 A Historical Cast of Mind 9 ies has now almost ceased; but it can easily be observed that it is still borrowed from public libraries. It was during his war service in Italy that Trevelyan s mind began to turn towards a history of England: (...) in this age of democracy and patriotism, he wrote, I feel strongly drawn to write the history of England as I feel it, for the people. In 1923 he wrote to his daughter that he was beginning to form a vision of the evolution of English society and character, and to be conscious of the differences between England and other countries. Their differences from us interest me largely because they are differences, making one feel the value or the curiosity of English institutions one always took for granted. 7 Trevelyan announces this theme of the differences between English institutions and those of the rest of Europe in the Introduction to his History of England. Britain, he writes (not England in this case!), is famous as the mother of Parliaments. In answer to the instincts and temperament of her people, she evolved in the course of centuries a system which reconciled three things that other nations have often found incompatible executive efficiency, popular control, and personal freedom. The origins of this state of affairs lay in the medieval development of Parliament and the Common Law. Then, between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, came the full growth of parliamentary power, as opposed to the despotism which evolved on the continent; and also the transplanting of parliamentary institutions across the seas. These were the great events which raised the political history of Britain into a sphere apart from the political life of the continent. 8 Trevelyan traces the origins of this separation back to the time of the Roman Empire. The greatest fact in the early history of the island is a negative fact that the Romans did not succeed in permanently Latinising Britain as they Latinised France. 9 The Norman conquest in 1066 brought England back into the mainstream of European civilisation. The English knight spoke French and the English cleric wrote Latin; but even while the country was so closely bound to Europe, English nationhood was in the process of development. English Common Law and the English Parliament gave us in the end a political life of our own in strong contrast to the later development of Latin civilisation. 10 The growth of the English Parliament, as distinct from other institutions of apparently similar type in other parts of Europe, was at the heart of Trevelyan s interpretation of the Middle Ages. The English parliament had no one man for its maker, neither Simon [de Montfort] nor even Edward [I]. No man made it, for it grew. It was the natural outcome, through long centuries, of the common sense and good nature of the English people, who have usually preferred committees to dictators, elections to street fighting, and talking shops to revolutionary tribunals The quotations are taken from ibid, pp. 165, G.M. TREVELYAN, History of England, London, 3rd. ed., 1945, pp.xix-xx. 9. Ibid., p Ibid., pp Ibid., p.178.
12 10 Philip Bell Despite this view of English good nature, Trevelyan emphasised the part played by war especially against the French in the country s development. England developed a sound administrative machinery and a form of national consciousness, and then she exercised these new powers at the expense of that clumsy giant, the French feudal Kingdom. The new English patriotism took shape as racial hatred of the French. This violent anti-french sentiment proved persistent, so that even a hundred and fifty years after the end of the Hundred Years War, Shakespeare s Henry V still presents Agincourt as embodying the central patriotic tradition, only partially replaced by the much more recent victory over the Spanish Armada. 12 Conflict with France stimulated national self-consciousness, but this was only the prelude to the geographical revelation which Trevelyan saw as probably the crucial element in English history. In Roman and medieval times, as he repeatedly points out, England lay on the outside edge of the known world. But then: (...) the mist is suddenly rolled back one day off the Atlantic waves, revealing new worlds beyond the ocean. England, it seems, is no longer at the extreme verge of all things, but is their maritime heart and centre. She has long been half European; she shall now become oceanic and American as well, and yet remain English all the while. 13 In a striking passage, Trevelyan describes the barren close of the Hundred Years War, with England faced by the rise of continental monarchies. The English seemed shut in upon themselves, doomed for ever to an insular and provincial existence, sighing in old manor houses for the departed glory chronicled by Froissart, and the spacious days of Harry the Fifth. 14 Then in Tudor times they achieved a new lease of life by taking to the sea on voyages of discovery, trade and colonisation. (In the 1990s, it has often seemed that the English sigh for the departed glory of the Second World War and the spacious days of Winston Churchill, chronicled by himself. What can rescue them now?) During the sixteenth century there were, in Trevelyan s view, great currents common to both England and the continent Renaissance, Reformation and oceanic enterprise. But there were also profound differences. In the course of religious change, the English monarchy allied itself to Parliament, because the Tudors could never afford a standing army or a centralised bureaucracy, and so had to operate by consent and co-operation. In the seventeenth century, England definitively parted company from the continent: (...) the English developed for themselves, without foreign participation or example, a system of Parliamentary government, local administration and freedom of speech and person, clean contrary to the prevailing tendencies on the continent, which was moving fast towards regal absolutism, centralised bureaucracy, and the subjection of the individual to the state. 12. Ibid., pp.222-3, Ibid., p Ibid., p.338.
13 A Historical Cast of Mind 11 While the Estates General in France and the Cortes in Spain withered, the House of Commons made itself the governing organ of a modern nation. English freedom, rooted in insular peculiarities, reached its full growth. 15 In the same century English colonisation of North America began; or as Trevelyan puts it, England planted self-governing communities in North America. The emphasis was crucial. Neither political nor religious freedom was to be found in Spanish America or French Canada It was England who first planted the flag of liberty beyond the ocean. Here was found the beginning of a free Empire, of a widespread Commonwealth of many races and religions, the ideal which both the United States and the British Empire of today  realise in two different ways but in a kindred spirit. 16 The eighteenth century was, for Trevelyan, a period of stagnation in British institutions; but even so the British State and Constitution was the most efficient as well as the most free of the governments of the world in those last days of the ancien regime. 17 In that age of equipoise there was a balance in the relations between Britain and Europe: the British aristocracy admired continental culture, went on the Grand Tour and returned with as many works of art as they could collect; in return, Europeans admired Britain s free institutions. 18 This balance of mutual admiration was wrecked by the French Revolution and Napoleon. Trevelyan pays the tribute of an English Whig to these great events and a great man. The new regime in France, whatever its defects or crimes, filled the humblest French peasant and bourgeois with pride as a citizen and zeal as a patriot, opened military and civil careers to talent without distinction of birth. Napoleon supplied the country with a new and efficient administrative machinery. 19 Despite such praise, Trevelyan had no doubt that Britain had to fight the wars of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic period, which he set in a long historical perspective. Modern England has four times fought with success a great war to prevent the conquest of Europe by a single power: the Spain of Philip and the Inquisition, the France of the Grand Monarch and the Jesuits, the France of the Jacobins and Napoleon, and the German military monarchy of our own day have each in turn been foiled. On each of these four occasions England had a double end in view the Balance of Power in Europe and the security of her own mercantile and colonial future beyond the ocean. 20 This picture is worth pausing over. England stands outside the continent, saving it from successive tyrannies; and while Trevelyan makes no bones about the selfinterest which dictated British policy, he also draws attention to the ideological nature of these different struggles. The Inquisition, the Jesuits, the Jacobins and 15. Ibid., p Ibid., p.378, and cf. the contrast between democratic New England and the autocracy of French Canada, pp Ibid., p Ibid., pp.516, Ibid., pp.572, Ibid., p.570.
14 12 Philip Bell German militarism were all the enemies of freedom. Before his History of England reached its third edition in 1945, Hitler s Germany could be added to the list. Following the success of his History of England, Trevelyan shifted his focus to write his English Social History. This book was first published in the United States and Canada in Wartime paper shortage delayed its publication in Britain until 1944, when it achieved a rapid success. By April 1946 it had sold two hundred and twenty-five thousand copies, and by 1949 three hundred and ninety-two thousand. J.H. Plumb wrote in 1951 that: In many homes it must be the one and only history book. This work is not only a social history but a social phenomenon. Plumb thought that this success arose in large part from the wartime context. The war endangered the traditional pattern of English life, and so nurtured a nostalgia for the past: It was natural to read with avid longing of ages more gracious and secure, and to draw strength from our chequered past. 21 This is surely true, but cannot explain the lasting success of the book, which has continued to be reprinted, with the addition of a popular illustrated edition in paperback, showing that its appeal was by no means limited to the circumstances of wartime. By its nature, English Social History makes little direct reference to relations with Europe. When it does, it repeats the message of Trevelyan s History of England. The Hundred Years War again appears as a crucial event, after which England was left as a strange island anchored off the Continent, no longer a mere offshoot or extension of the European world. 22 Failure in France contrasted with the successful colonisation of North America in the seventeenth century. The English race began once more to move outside its island borders, this time in the right direction. Trevelyan emphasised again the instinct of the first English settlers to manage their own affairs ; and he contrasted this with the Spanish, French and Dutch colonies, which remained undemocratic and subject to their home governments. 23 Trevelyan also drew a contrast between the development of the English and French aristocracies: the English nobility and gentry remained open and fluid, while the French noblesse formed a rigid caste, and so headed for catastrophe in In a passage which is sometimes invoked even now in the more literary cricket reports, Trevelyan described cricket matches in the eighteenth century, in which all classes took part; and observed that If the French noblesse had been capable of playing cricket with their peasants, their châteaux would never have been burned. 24 When the French historian François Crouzet, himself deeply versed in English history, reviewed English Social History, he emphasised that the book embodied a whole philosophy of English history; and he found it wanting. He reflected that it might well have been entitled L heureuse histoire de l Angleterre ; and he argued 21. PLUMB, Trevelyan, pp G.M. TREVELYAN, English Social History. A Survey of Six Centuries, Chaucer to Queen Victoria, 3rd. ed., London 1946, p.xii. 23. Ibid., pp.208, Ibid., pp.126, 228, 408.
15 A Historical Cast of Mind 13 that Trevelyan knew nothing of the real relations between the French aristocracy and their tenants. 25 Crouzet s view now carries general conviction among historians, and Trevelyan s picture must now appear somewhat naive. But at the time Trevelyan wrote with his customary authority, and his book has had a constant appeal which has been largely unaffected by professional criticism. The Social History certainly reinforced the message of the History of England: that the development of England was not only different from that of the continent, but in crucial ways superior to it. Fisher s History of Europe was first published in 1935, in three volumes. In 1936 it was issued in a one-volume edition, which was reprinted five times by The three-volume edition was revised in 1938, and then re-issued in two volumes in After continuing popularity, it was re-issued in paper-back in 1960, and reprinted nineteen times by 1982; it is still (1995) in print. By its very nature, the focus of Fisher s work differed from Trevelyan s studies of English history. It was constantly informed by the author s sense of a common European heritage and civilisation. 26 The three foundation stones were ancient Greece ( We Europeans are the children of Hellas ); the Roman Empire; and Christianity, which Fisher saw as the key to European identity. To be Christian was to be admitted (...) into the fellowship of the European nations. The unifying factor of European civilisation was thus an inheritance of thought and achievement and religious aspirations. 27 At the start of the book, Fisher observed that various attempts to impose a single controlling system on this common civilisation had all broken down. The Roman Empire collapsed; the Christian Church had split; the Napoleonic Empire had foundered. But he was sensitive to European aspirations towards some form of unity: (...) ever since the first century of our era the dream of unity has hovered over the scene and haunted the imagination of statesmen and peoples. Nor is there any question more pertinent to the future welfare of the world than how the nations of Europe, whose differences are so many and so inveterate, may best be combined into some stable organisation for the pursuit of their common interests and the avoidance of strife. 28 Fisher thus adopted a different frame of reference from that of Trevelyan. But they were from similar intellectual stables; they knew one another well; and the History of England had been in circulation for five years when Fisher embarked on his own work in Whether by borrowing, or more likely through a common outlook, Fisher 25. F. CROUZET, Tout va très bien, Madame l Angleterre, Annales, vol.3, 1948, pp.34-40; cf. CAN- NADINE, Trevelyan, p H.A.L. FISHER, A History of Europe, revised and enlarged edition in two volumes, London 1943; see especially the introduction. 27. Ibid., pp.1, Ibid., pp.6-7.
16 14 Philip Bell pursued some of the same themes as Trevelyan. He too began with Rome. Under the Roman Empire, France and Spain had been permanently Romanised, while Britain had received only a superficial imprint, almost obliterated by the Saxon conquest. 29 Then, through conversion to the Roman Church and by the Norman conquest, England was drawn once more into the life of Latin Europe. By the start of the thirteenth century a traveller would have found little difference between England and France. But despite the similarities, Fisher argued that the two countries were already set on different lines of constitutional development. The English Parliament developed into a very different body from the French Estates General. French monarchy already tended towards the absolute, the English towards a limited form of authority. 30 For Fisher as for Trevelyan, the Hundred Years War confirmed the separation between England and France and transformed it into antagonism. The war, wrote Fisher, brought to an end the close inter-penetration of France and England (...) Between the two nations a steady feeling of bitterness and estrangement replaced the old relations of tolerance. For the English, A war with France became part of the national background. 31 But in the end the adventure turned sour, and in terms closely reminiscent of Trevelyan s, Fisher described the English as growling over the loss of their French possessions, not realising that a good fairy was preparing to place their remote island right in the centre of the habitable globe. 32 Fisher here followed one of Trevelyan s favourite themes. Once the forlorn attempt to conquer France was definitely abandoned, England was able to find her true line of development in the enlargement of her influence over the British Isles, in the expansion of her commerce and industry, and in the foundation of colonies beyond the ocean. 33 Fisher contrasted the English colonies with those of France: While the New Englander breathed the air of liberty, the society of colonial France was cabined and confined by the control of an ultramontane Church and an absolute monarchy. Fisher was particularly scathing about Colbert s mania for regulation, which he even tried to extend into the pine forests of Canada. 34 During the English wars against Louis XIV the two different systems of government came into conflict. In 1689, Fisher wrote, the French monarchy was the most imposing spectacle in Europe, while the English system of Parliamentary government was new and untried. Yet it was the English system which proved better adapted to a great war, particularly through its financial organisation. Victory in war enhanced England s prestige, and began an admiration for English institutions which flourished in Europe during the eighteenth century. 35 At the 29. Ibid., p Ibid., pp Ibid., pp.333, Ibid., p Ibid., p.471; a view repeated on p Ibid., p Ibid., p.679.
17 A Historical Cast of Mind 15 same time the English admired French culture, which dominated the whole continent. French civilisation (...) ruled supreme and gave the law to every social group which aspired to the faintest tincture of culture, from the Russian border to the Atlantic Ocean. 36 At the end of the eighteenth century came the French Revolution. Fisher saw the French Republic as a government of conquest and propaganda, combining the role of the missionary (...) with that of the bandit. But to the English these missionaries had nothing to teach. Fisher wrote dismissively that civil liberties intoxicating from their novelty in France were in England matters of long established usage. 37 When in 1815 France adopted the forms of constitutional monarchy, the change inspired Fisher to reflect further on English superiority. The constitution of England could be copied. The good-humour, the moderation, the pleasant give and take, the graded loyalties which made the working of that constitution successful were less easy to emulate. Indeed, the French could not manage it, partly because they were not sportsmen. The French legislator did not hunt the fox. No French Epsom or Newmarket sweetened the severity or abated the logic of his political meditations. He thought with bitter clearness, spoke with a bitter violence. 38 While the French had their political revolution, the British led the way in an industrial revolution. This was fostered by the country s flexible institutions, and by the willingness of the English aristocracy to take an interest in commerce, factories or mines. 39 Britain thus became the workshop of Europe, a change which itself brought social problems which sometimes appeared insuperable; and yet, Fisher argued, the country managed to produce political and social change in the nick of time. Again Fisher found a contrast to point: (...) while the continent was shaken by revolution in 1830 and again in 1848, there was in England a smooth and tranquil enlargement of liberty and well-being. 40 Fisher found similar comparisons in other events of the nineteenth century. Palmerston and Russell promoted the cause of Italian liberty and unification. Cavour was a disciple of English liberalism, who sought to create the sort of political system which he found in England French abstractions made no appeal to [his] practical intelligence. 41 Fisher contrasted Cavour with Bismarck, who was not disposed to copy the English system of constitutional government. Prussia was more feudal and more military than England, and by an easy inference went wrong. Earlier in his History, Fisher had drawn the striking comparison: England grew. Prussia was manufactured. 42 Fisher s final reflection on completing his enormous work was that only once in the whole period covered by his History did civilised 36. Ibid., p Ibid., pp Ibid., pp Ibid., pp.774, Ibid., p Ibid., pp Ibid., pp.966, 742.
18 16 Philip Bell Europe have the benefits of a single government; and that was under the Roman Empire. At the time of the French Revolution and Napoleon the possibility again appeared, but by then it was too late. The nations of Europe were too strong, and a coalition led by Britain shattered the dream of French hegemony. 43 Fisher showed no regret at that shattering. Arthur Bryant s two volumes, The Years of Endurance, (1942) and Years of Victory, (1944) were very different books from those which have just been discussed. They dealt with a mere twenty years, as against a great sweep of the past; and even so they were more superficial. They were written at high speed, under wartime conditions and to serve the purposes of war they were in fact a form of propaganda, designed to encourage the British people amid the trials of the Second World War. In the Preface to The Years of Endurance Bryant explained that he wished to draw out the lessons of the war against revolutionary France; and he began the Preface to The Years of Victory thus: I wrote The Years of Endurance the story of how England survived a flood which overwhelmed Europe when she was again alone, withstanding a worse and greater flood. (...) Because we forgot our history we have had to relive it. We, too, have stood where our ancestors stood in Napoleon s day. 44 The books were a patriotic manifesto at a time when patriotism was the order of the day. 45 The parallels which they drew were widely accepted. The books enjoyed large sales; appeared at once in book club editions; and continued to be popular even when the war was over. The books themselves were narratives of political, military and naval events, with Pitt, Nelson and Wellington as their heroes. This vivid narrative gave them their popular appeal, but it is not germane to discuss it here. In the context of this essay, we may distinguish three elements which are directly linked to the theme of British relations with Europe: Bryant s views on the essence of English society, on the nature of the French Revolution, and on the character of Napoleon. The first chapter of The Years of Endurance presents a glowing and idealised portrait of English society, conveying the essence of what Bryant claimed to be Englishness. At its base there was an immense stability. England with her solid heart of sober, quiet folk had such reserves of strength that it is hard to estimate her breaking point. The living oak could carry an astonishing burden of dead wood. 46 Liberty, and even licence, was tempered by respect for law and an iron insistence on the sanctity of private property. The power of the state was tightly limited. In Eng- 43. Ibid., pp A. BRYANT, The Years of Endurance, , London 1944, p.ix; The Years of Victory, , London 1945, p.vii. 45. Contrasting views of Bryant s patriotism may be found in STREET, Bryant, p.135, and ROBERTS, Eminent Churchillians, p BRYANT, Years of Endurance, p.31.
19 A Historical Cast of Mind 17 land there was no droit administratif: no sacred principle of state with which to crush the cantankerous subject. 47 Parliament represented property, not numbers of people, and was inimical to both high taxation and the power of the executive The cost of administration in Prussia was twice as much, in France many times that of Britain. 48 In discussing the French Revolution, Bryant drew parallels between revolutionary France and Nazi Germany. Within these pages the reader will find many of the familiar phenomena of our own troubled time. He will see on the Continent the corruption and final breakdown of an outworn society and the emergence from its collapse of a dynamic and revolutionary force (...) He will see the early enthusiasm to which that national rebirth gave rise turned into a terrible instrument of force by the cruel and purposeful men who rose on its waves to power. At that point Bryant drew back from the conclusion to which his argument was leading. It would be easy to carry the parallel too far. The French Revolution was marked in its early stages by nobility and generosity: it was inspired by a creed not of hatred and racial discrimination but of love and brotherhood. In the long run it permanently broadened the horizons of mankind. Nonetheless, Bryant held firmly that the Revolution had to be opposed, and confined within lawful bounds by the resistance of Britain (...) without that resistance it would have consumed the earth. 49 The parallel with Nazi Germany recurred later, and this time Bryant did not draw back. Discussing Burke s Reflections on the Revolution in France, he wrote: looking up the long avenue of promise which led through the self-worship of the State and nation to the precipitous final crag of the Dictator and the national stormtrooper, [Burke] foretold the course of the Revolution (...). 50 Bryant described the Terror in terms of an outbreak of unadulterated evil. Into Marseilles, he wrote, there went subhuman beings with unrestrained powers. During the suppression of the rising in the Vendée, Men of incredible evil pushed or wriggled their way to the broken surface of French life and wreaked their will on everyone within their reach. Bryant identified these scenes with revolutionary philosophy, and even with the entire French race. 51 At the end of his book Bryant returned to his parallel, describing the Jacobins as prototypes of the Nazis, and claiming that both broke on the rock of the British people. 52 After the Revolution came Napoleon, and Bryant found obvious parallels with Hitler. Napoleon planned the invasion of England, and later marched on Moscow. So did Hitler. Napoleon set out to unite Europe under his own rule. So did Hitler. And Bryant added: (...) in the last resort, tested by any moral touchstone, men like 47. Ibid., p Ibid., p Ibid., pp.ix-x. 50. Ibid., p Ibid., pp.104, 110, Ibid., p.396.
20 18 Philip Bell Napoleon and Hitler are maniacs. And it was the British people, with all their imperfections, who first afforded that touchstone. 53 Near the end of The Years of Victory, Bryant commented severely on the magnetism exercised by Napoleon s personality: The belief in Napoleon and his star was a mighty force. (...) But it was not a faith founded on the verities of existence. At its heart lay a pathetic and childlike lack of realism. The French were the slaves of an illusion. 54 Bryant s picture of the wars against France in these twenty years is cruder and less profound than the writings of Trevelyan and Fisher, yet it fits into a similar pattern. England, with its stable society and institutions, confronted European (i.e. French) tyranny, and won through in the end as it did against Philip of Spain, Louis XIV, the Kaiser and Hitler. Four main themes dominate the picture thus presented of relations between England and Europe. First, the character of England was separate from that of the continent. This separation dated right back to the time of the Roman Empire; was diminished in the two or three centuries following the Norman Conquest; but was then fiercely reasserted in the Hundred Years War and thereafter remained profound. Second, English institutions and society were not merely different from those on the continent but superior to them. This superiority lay in the growth of ordered political liberty, as against continental despotism and regulation; and also in a combination of flexibility and stability in English society, which was thus saved from the extremes of rigidity on the one hand and revolution on the other. Third, England found her true destiny when she turned away from Europe to the oceans and planted colonies across the seas. In relation to Europe, England was a mere offshore island on the edge of the continent. In the wider world, she was a mother country and the founder of free and dynamic societies in America and the Dominions. Fourth, when England turned back to Europe from time to time, it was in order to save the continent from tyranny in various forms, from Philip II of Spain, through Louis XIV and Napoleon, to Kaiser Wilhelm II and Hitler. England was thus by tradition the opponent of forced European unification in the name of European liberty. These themes emerge with great simplicity and force from an examination of the books discussed above. To readers in the 1990s such views doubtless appear far too simple and self-satisfied, and based on an ill-founded sense of superiority. It is therefore all the more important for us to remember that their authors were the products of the highest forms of English intellectual and cultural life. Trevelyan and Fisher represented the intellectual cream of their time, and they were also men of wide European culture and sympathies, and heirs to the great tradition of Liberal 53. BRYANT, Years of Victory, pp.xi-xii. 54. Ibid., p.465.