The BL is about to close and I won't be back until the 19th Jan, The following is a bit muddled as I've had to try to group stuff together but I expect I'll be writing about this one in detail for the chapter.
Lane, J. (1943). England for Sale. London, Andrew Dakers Ltd.
It's not very likely at all that Geoffrey Trease saw this book because he was in India, but England for Sale is a perfect mirror image of Trumpets in the West (although with a lot more sex), and comes, I think, from the same fear/anticipation of social upheaval. This is not a romantic book, in the way the work of Brent-Dyer or Bowen, or even Margaret Irwin is romantic, but clearly political and polemic.
Michael Hugh is the younger son of a respectable gentry family, who still maintain old feudal traditions: the servants eat in the hall, there are no enclosures, etc. etc so that once at court he thinks
"From their conversation, it appeared that they regarded their country estates as mere refuges in time of trouble and at all other times as mere investments; he had heard them brag of how they had let out large portions of their lands to woollen merchants, and of what rich profit they derived from these transactions; it never seemd to occur to them that such measures ruined the poor countryman... The way they treated their servants, too, astonished and infuriated the feudal Michael; there was none of that interest in one's own household, and protection of it, which was an essential part of the old order, and he observed how in return the servants paid only a very surface respect to their lords, leaving their service at the first opportunity of higher wages elsewhere." (47)*
However, Michael is an outsider anyway because his forefathers held by the Old Religion and he is a Catholic in a Protestant country.* Michael is also the son who killed his mother at his birth, and his father is anxious to get him out of sight, having never forgiven him. That he is like his mother, gentle yet stubborn (she once held off a Roundhead incursion) only makes it worse. with this in mind, his father, ignoring Michael's taste for scholarship, finds him a place with the Gentlemen Pensioners, to which Catholics are being accepted.
But Michael is a scholar and idealist and in his spare time he is writing a treatise on monarchy (which is always caitalised in this book). He writes the following:
"Though the conclusion that Monarchy is the best form of Government may be strengthened by Historical and Practical arguments, its main support is philosophical reasoning as to the Essence of all human communities, our Fore-fathers discovering that there is to be found throughout animate and inanimate Nature a Monarchical form, and declaring further that the Essence of the Social Organism lies in Unity." (16)
This is not untypical and throughout the book there is a constant tension between the belief in God inspired Divine Right, and Natural Order, which are not actually compatible as philosphies when you get right down to it.
Michael falls in with his Lieutenant, Sir Noel Tredennis. a committed aetheist and experiment, who is, yet, a firm supporter of James II and the Divine Right. Through him, he spies on his own brother, reports conspiracies to the King--and is dismissed as a scandal mongerer--and eventually is forced to watch while the King is abandoned and Michael's warnings come true. All the time Michael is convinced that if the King appealed to the people, rather than to the aristocracy, they would rise for him. In the end however, he ends up accompanying the King to the coast. His mentor leaves for the continent, and Michael stays behind, rejecting his One True Love (who had been promised to Michael's now dead brother--poisoned, Michael is initially accused of the crime, but Hugh has been a catspaw in others' plots--p. 193) and instead shacking up (and there is no other phrase for it) with his mentor's ex-mistress, who eventually refused to emigrate with him, as she has refused to emigrate with Sir Noel.
Michael struggles at court. He cannot accept the corruption and bribery to which his older brother attempts to introduce him (p 22). His brother is borrowing heavily, and we see how bad things are, because he thanks Cromwell for bringing back the Jews to act as bankers. (22-23)
We see him get caught in an anti-Catholic riot on November 5 (p, 60), although later he will be taught by Sir Noel that this is not real anti-Catholicism but drummed up hatred that the King could over come.
Sir Noel is a classic Heinlein grand old man, although an atheist (And proponent of sex outside marriage) he acts as teacher to MIchael. When he sees Michael's defense of Monarchy getting stuck in the Lancastrian period (he regards the "Lancastrian Usurpation" as "a blow aimed at the whole structure of Monarchy" (79) he roars at him to start paying attention:
"The Restoration of 1660, Michael, far from establishing Monarchy for ever, was a mere armistice..." (80) and convinces him that William of Orange is plotting to displace the King, up to and including supporting Monmouth (he provides "evidence" that Monmouth's weapons were provided by the Dutch, which is unlikely--why would William support a rival claimant?)
On p. 82 we get a long lecture on the attack on the Divine Prerogative: "in inviting Charles II back the new aristocracy took care to hang on like grim death to the priviliges they had filched; thus had you, all through the last reign, continual opposition to the check from the Throne, continual encroachments on the Prerogative." (82)
Sir Noel is politically alert (and very likeable) and notes that "when Orange comes, if he comes, he will not come in the guise of an invader. Oh dear me, no! He will come as a liberator, to free the nation from arbitrary power and from the menace of Popery." (148) He is also keen to point out that even honest Peers fear that a papist KIng will demand the return of Church lands (148)
Eventually Hugh, the elder brother, realises he has been seduced (by wine, money, and even women in the form of the woman he loves--but who loves Michael), confesses all and puts it all down to William of Orange's plotting. (171) Just before he heads home, already suspicious that the wine his borther served him--that was a gift from someone else--is drugged, he declares.
"They're selling England, those bastards; selling her, I tell you, like a horse at a fair. England's for sale..'(174)
One problem for Lane of course, is that James I is still a Bloody Fool (tm) and in this book we are shown him ignoring warning after warning (declaring the warnings about John Churchill "a lie, a filthy lie!" (237) and refusing to stand his ground when Michael thinks he should "There is a limit to what a man can endure, and I will not remain to be handed over the counter to the Prince of Orange in return for dukedoms and offices." (245) When Michael offers his service, the King responds, "Mr. Montague, I have asked you to be my guide upon this journey, not because I have faith in your loyalty, for I can have faith in no man from henceforth, but because you know the road." (245) a response which would have destroyed a less blind loyalty.
Lane gives Michael these thoughts:
"If he stayed, we could make a fight for it at least; if he goes, many among the loyal ones will lose heart and throw in their hand. It will take a very high degree of courage for any among the great ones to hold out for him if he quits the kingdom... But he beat down his emotion; he was acting under orders, he was a puppet and must obey the master's string." (246)
Later, he begs the King not to go.
"For the love of God, do not abandon us to the mercy of greedy traitors. With all respect I say to you that, though so many of your subjects have failed in their duty towards Your Majesty, your duty to your people remains. Theirs is to obey and serve you, yours is to protect them and their liberties." (271)
The King responds (and I wonder if this is a quote from a letter?):
"I can no longer afford protection to my people. since certain among them have so far failed in their duty towards me as to admit a foreign army into England. Protection and subjection fo hand-in-hand, and you cannot have one without the other. When the governed seek to govern they must accept the full consequences of their desire; as when a child throws off the authority of its father it can no longer look to him to defend it." (271) which sounds rather oddly like the social contract.
He goes on to add "Without the authority of the monarch to curb the desures of the greedy and the insolence of the wealthy, there is no liberty for honest men, but unless such authority can be accepted it becomes mere tyranny, and neither king nor people can be free." (271)
So the King goes, and Sir Noel goes, with the parting shot that "I do believe that the people of England have common sense at bottom; I do believe that monarchy is the best form of government" (275) which is odd because this is a usurpation, not a revolution. They will still have a king.
Michael responds: "I know that though the cause of King James the Second may be lost, the cause of true Monarchy can never be lost, for it is the natural form of goverment." (275)
There is a nice bit on p. 276 where Sir Noel condmens the rituals of loyalty, such as the prayers for the royal family, the wearing of the oak leaves etc. as rank hypocrisy, and identifies the fatal mistake in the restoration of Charles through the "time-server" Monck rather than Charles II's loyal followers. (276)
pp. 281-285 Michael calls in on his One True Love, Eve. She is waiting for him, offering him first to find a place at court once the fuss has died down, and then telling him she will live with him in poverty. But Michael has a Cause!
"This our native land is faced with spiritual if not material ruin!... the rule of a king is substituted from this day forward the rule of a class, of a clique, of moneyed interests.."(284)
Eve has no interest in politics "what doth it matter whether James or William rules this kingdom, if only we have each other? Are you mad that you would refuse the substance of my love for the shadow of a defeated ideal?" (284)
She dares him to leave, never to see her again. He does.
Ironically to find pleasure in the arms of Sir Noel's ex mistress, the lively Moll, who calls William of Orange "a pervert, and such men like nothing better than to shut up brothels and persecute poor honest whores". (289) Until such a time as he decides to leave for his home estate, thinking as he does, "he could find happiness in an impersonal love...he regretted nothing save that he had not served more faithfully, had not given more of himself, had not poured into every minutist actionthe full measure of his devotion." (324)
His father welcomes him, gives him a speech about how he now realises Michael's claims of a plot (reported on a trip home) were true, and has prepared for battle. (334) Michael has to explain that there will be no battle (338) because "How can you protect them, sir, when your own protector is already dispossessed?" (338)
Sir Noel writes from the continent of the wonders of Versailles. Michael writes back of the introduction of (tax free) Dutch Gin and its affect on Londoners (293/295) along with a summary of the political changes and the debate over the crown. One of the annecdotes he relates is of his old landlady, Mrs. Fluggins who is shocked by a character, "this weren't no woman that was 'anging outer that there winder, though by its painted face and mincing air you would 'ave took it for such at first sight. It were a man, but so pinked out and coquettish it could 'ave come straight from Madame Snelgrove's in Drury Lane; it turned my stomach, it did indeed..." This turns out to be Mr. William Bentinck, William of Orange's best friend.** See wikipedia. Lane is clearly not averse to a bit of homophobia to drive her point home.
I am left with the impression of someone whose politics would have aligned pretty well with the contemporary Spanish monarchist movement. Is the phrase Ultra Montaine?
*There are strong overtones of Protestant = ruthless capitalism, in this book. Also concern for the inter-war servant problem?
**See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Willem_Bentinck,_1st_Earl_of_Portland The man had several children and two wives.