Page:The Chartist Movement.djvu/34

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THE CHARTIST MOVEMENT

tive point of view knew little of short cuts, either to social amelioration or to the solution of historic problems. He offered sound knowledge coupled with sympathy and intelligence, and it is as much to the credit of the auditors as of the lecturer that they gladly took what he had to give.

Hovell's lecturing, important as it was, could only be subsidiary to the attainment of his main purpose in life. As soon as he graduated, he made up his mind to equip himself by further study and by original work for the career of a university teacher of history. His degree course had given him a practical example of the character of two widely divergent periods of history, studied to some extent in the original authorities. One of these was the reign of Richard II., which he had studied under the direction of Professor Tait. He had sent up a degree thesis on Ireland under Richard II., written with a maturity and thoughtfulness which are rarely found in undergraduate essays. This essay he afterwards worked into a study which we hope to print, when conditions again make academic treatises on mediaeval problems practical politics. It was evidence that he might, if he had chosen, become a good mediaevalist. But his temper always inclined Mm towards something nearer our own age, and his other special subject, the Age of Napoleon I., seemed to him to lead to wide fields of half-explored ground in the first half of the nineteenth century. He attended for this course lectures of my own on the general history of the period, and made a special study of some of the Napoleonic campaigns, which he studied under the direction of Mr. Spenser Wilkinson, then lecturer in Military History at Manchester, and now Chichele Professor of that subject at Oxford. It was Mr. Wilkinson's lectures that first kindled his enthusiasm for military history.

Hovell's main bent was towards the suggestive and little-worked field of social history, and his interest in the labour and social problems in the years succeeding the fall of Napoleon was vivified by the practical calls of his W.E.A. classes upon him. I feel pretty sure that it was the stimulus of these classes that finally made him settle on the social and economic history