By Hugh Ross Williamson
THE EDWARDINE ORDINAL, by Rev. C. Hoare (St. Augustine's Nursing Home, 25 Upper Maze Hill, St. Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex, 12s. 6d.).
SIR WILLIAM DAI, by Patrick J. Crean (Catholic Truth Society of Ireland, 6d.) ELIZABETH THE GREAT, by Elizabeth Jenkins (Gollancz, 21s.).
THE STUARTS, by J. P. Kenyon (Batsford, 25s.).
THE KING'S WAR, by C. V. Wedgwood (Collins, 35s.).
THE JACOBITE MOVEMENT, by Sir Charles Petrie (Eyre and Spottiswood, 35s.).
IN the Church of England Convocation of Canterbury of January 1959. the two Arch bishops were asked by the Anglican clergy to devise a method by which the ordinary press of this country could be prevented from referring to Catholic priests as "parish priests."
Though one was at first tempted to treasure this piece of hilarious nonsense merely as a new record•in the annals of historical ignorance, the query of how far it might be a deliberate attempt to mislead the simple obtrudes itself.
The non-Christian newspaper reader might not know that. ever since the coming of Christianity to Britain. there have been Catholic parish priests and that the recent assumption of that title by a small section of Anglican incumbents is at odds with both original Protestant theology and modern Protestant practice.
The great majority of Anglicans still use the term " vicar " by which the great majority of incumbents still prefer to be known. A move to make " parish priest" an exclusive title of Anglican clergy might well he a deliberate fostering of the illusion of "continuity'. In any ease, it was an indication that the Edwariline Ordinal of 1552, and the proper understanding of it. is still a living, contemporary issue of 1959.
FOR this reason, if for no other, Fr. Hoare's "The I-dwardine Ordinal" is of cardinal importance. It contains a scholarly and detailed examination of the famous Preface on which Anglo-Catholics still rest I their claim that the clergy of the Church of England are in the Apostolic Succession.
By exposing clearly and patiently the seven ambiguities of the Preface and by setting it against its historical background, the author shows-finally. we may hope-that their position is completely untenable. and that the Anglican Bishop Philpott was correct when he said of the Ordinal: "There is perhaps no formulary or document which marks more clearly the essential difference between the office of a minister of the Church of Rome and the functions of ministers of the Church of England."
WITHIN the generation to which the Ordinal was a novelty. there was no misunderstanding. " Nowadays Catholics in England have the custom of greeting priests on their knees". wrote William Robins. the youngest companion of William Davies, who was the first of the Elizabethan missionary priests to die for the Faith in Wales.
"Sir William Dai " ("Sir " was the title regularly applied to a priest) gives a most excellent account of his work. his trials and his death. written by Dr. Crean with simplicity and learning. The C.T.S. of Ireland are to he congratulated on publishing it for so small a sum as sixpence and it is to be hoped that their enterprise will be rewarded by extensive sales.
The hook --fifty-six pages long, with illustrations and referenceswould make good reading for retreats as well as being indispensable (because it contains new material) for historians of the Elizabethan period.
ELIZABETH herself is the subject of a full-length study of Miss Elizabeth Jenkins, who is, perhaps, best known for her "Six Criminal Women ". In devoting
an entire book to a seventh, she has. however. minimized the criminality and produced a conventional Protestant portrait, based on printed sources already well enough known.
It makes pleasant reading, as long as it is not taken seriously or confused with the historic Elizabeth. Catholics arc the less likely to be thus confused when they read that March 24 is the lecast of the Assumption.
A mere 34 pages is devoted to the last crucial 15 years of the reign. as compared with over 200 to the first 30. Since "the last act crowns the play ", this disproportion fatally affects the portrait.
Miss Jenkins make no pretensions to being a professional historian. Dr. J. P. Kenyon is one. Yet, making all possible reservations. her "Elizabeth the Great" is a better hook even historically
than his The Stuarts ". The latter. however, is a " Batsford Book" and, as such, has a great number of attractive illustrations.
How and why
THE second volume of Miss Wedgwood's monumental history of the Great Rebellion, "The King's War ", has not received quite the acclaim of the first. "The King's Peace ": but it is a finer hook. The infinite complexity of the subject is such that only a great historian could have tackled it at all; and she demonstrates her right to this title not least by refusing to be side-tracked into speculations but deliberately pursuing a chronological method which allows the reader to experience uncertainty even though he knows the result.
By asking (and answering) " How ? " she gives the clues to " Why ? " The last two chapters, dealing with the immediate aftermath of the war and disentangling the intricate religio-social web, must rank with her best and most perceptive writing.
A new ' edition. largely rewritten, of Sir Charles Petrie's history of the Jacobite Movement is also most welcome. This will remain a standard work. for its learning, its style and, above all for its understanding of historical truth.