Page:The Chartist Movement.djvu/43

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INTRODUCTION

against the widespread tendency to wrest the facts to suit various theoretical presuppositions, and to realise the fundamental blindness to English conditions and habits of thought that went along with laborious study of the external facts of our history. Though he by no means worked up all his impressions of German authors into his history, the draft, which he left behind him, bears constant evidence alike of their influence and of his reaction from it. It was at this time he first saw his work in print in the shape of a review of Professor Liebermann's National Assembly in the Anglo-Saxon Period, contributed to a French review.

On returning to England Hovell established himself in London, where he worked hard at the Place manuscripts (unhappily divided between Bloomsbury and Hendon), the Home Office Records, and other unpublished Chartist material. During the winter he took a W.E.A. class at Wimbledon. By the summer of 1914 he was ready to settle at home again and to put together his work on the Chartists. His fellowship now coming to an end, he undertook more W.E.A. courses in the Manchester district for the winter of 1914–1915, and a small post was found for him at the University, where he received charge of the subject of military history. This study the University prepared to develop in connection with a scheme for preparation of its students for commissions in the army and territorial forces.

No sooner were these plans settled than the great war broke out. The classes in military history were reduced to microscopic dimensions, since all students keen on such study promptly deserted the theory for the practice of warfare. Though anxious to follow their example, Hovell remained at his work until the late spring of 1915, finding some outlet for his ambition to equip himself for military service in the University Officers' Training Corps, in which he was a corporal. In May, as soon as his lectures to workmen were over, he applied for a commission. He had nothing of the bellicose or martial spirit; but he had a stern sense of obligation and a keen eye to realities. Like other contemporaries who had