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Welsh History Review


Vol. 6, nos. 1-4 1972-73

The politics of reform , 1884: Book review.

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Wrth drafod y Llyfrau Gleision rhoddir safbwynt Lewis Edwards a
Thomas Phillips, sef Methodist ac Eglwyswr, ond nid safbwynt yr hen
Ymneilltuwyr, megis Ieuan Gwynedd a Henry Richard. Nid rhyfedd felly
na ddangosir mor bell-gyrrhaeddol oedd y trauma na sut yr enillodd
addysg anghyffredin ymhlith y werin Gymraeg. O'r llyfr hwn gallech
dybio mai rhodd ar blat gan Gladstone oedd Adroddiad Aberdar a'r
cwbl a'i dilynodd. Cyflwynir Deddf 1889 fel cydnabyddiaeth o lwyddiant
Deddf 1870. Pam ynteu y bu'n rhaid i Loegr aros hyd 1902 am ei hysgolion
canol hi? Dyma lyfr ar addysg yng Nghymru heb gyfeiriad at Tom Ellis
nac Arglwydd Rendel na Herbert Lewis na neb o'u tebyg!
[This new series, on the evidence and commentary pattern, is published
by the Welsh Joint Education Committee under the editorship of Hugh
Thomas, presumably for use in the upper forms of secondary schools.
Many of the documents are in English, coming from official documents,
press commentaries, etc., but the presentation is in Welsh throughout.
Vol. 1 by Hugh Thomas himself, is on Social Unrest in Wales, 1800-C.1843.
Vol. 2 by Ieuan D. Thomas, on Education in Wales in the Nineteenth
Century. Vol. 3 by Muriel Bowen Evans, on the Revivals of the Eighteenth
THE POLITICS OF REFORM, 1884. By Andrew Jones. Cambridge University
Press, 1972. Pp. 282. £ 6.40.
This is a volume in the Cambridge Studies in the History and Theory of
Politics series, which also includes Maurice Cowling's 1867: Disraeli,
Gladstone and Revolution. Dr. Jones's book is essentially an immensely
detailed study of the politics of the passage of the third Reform Act in
1884 and of the related Redistribution Act in 1885. Dr. Jones seems
curiously defensive about his whole project. He finds it necessary to add
a section called 'Epilogue: A Necessary Discharge', in which he replies in
advance to the criticisms which he thinks his book is likely to attract-an
unusual proceeding. '1884', he says, 'does not have the makings of a
compelling narrative.' This he believes to be no accident. Although the
third Reform Bill was a major question in British politics, it failed to
generate a major crisis. In this he takes sharp exception to Dr. Weston's
article, 'The Royal Mediation in 1884', in the English Historical Review
LXXXII (1967), in which she subscribes to the more orthodox view that
the third Reform Bill was the cause of a serious crisis concerning the role
of the House of Lords in an increasingly democratic electoral system.
Was 1884 'a landmark comparable to 1689' and the one solid achievement
of Gladstone's second ministry, which was otherwise beset by 'failure and
frustration', or not? The publisher's advertisement invites us to consider
these questions but it is difficult to determine exactly where Dr. Jones
himself stands on them. This is essentially because of the very narrow
terms of reference which he gives himself. 'There is,' he says, 'in this work
only a cursory account of the operation of the franchise in the United
Kingdom before 1884, and no attempt to see it in relation to the bill as
it was passed.' He is not interested in outside pressures or social con-
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