by ELISARETHE CORATHIEL Sermons and Society An Anglican Anthology edited by Paul A. Welsby (Penguin Books 50p) -r-r was decidedly a good idea to illustrate social conditions in Britain from the Reformation onwards by a selection from the Sermons of the best known Anglican preachers. This is what thepresent volume sets out to do.
For Catholics one or two names stand out. We turn to John Donne (1570-1631), brought up in the Old Faith but ordained as a protestant divine at the age of 43, after soldiering in Cadiz and the Azores. Attracted by his reputation as one of our most elegant poets and prosewriters, we nevertheless find his dissertation on punctual taxpaying and respect for one's betters, and the obligations of the rich towards the poor somewhat long-winded and disappointing.
We turn to Dean Swift and find not a breath about the "iron penny" or other bones of contention between England and Ireland. Instead a very straightforward and sensible discourse on some of the advantages of not being so well off, which might offer profitable reflection for many moderns harassed out of all harmony by their perpetual strain of "keeping up with the Joneses."
We read with genuine appreciation, utterances by men like Charles Kingsley, William Temple, Henry Parry Liddon, Dean Farrar and others who were so actively interested in improving the lot of the working classes; and of our own John Henry Newman who later became Cardinal Newman.
A very rewarding little paperback to keep at hand for occasional dipping into.