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This review is taken from PN Review 9, Volume 6 Number 1, September - October 1979.

BIAS IS AS BIAS DOES Donald Davie, A Gathered Church: The Literature of the English Dissenting Interest 1700-1930 (Routledge & Kegan Paul) £4.25.

Muswell Hill Congregational Church, its style "having the flavour of English Gothic precedent throughout", its architect the son of that Ealing hymnologist whose work a younger Dissenter dismissed as spiritual Keating's powder and the perfect distillation of the Hampstead mind, its benefactor the proprietor of Great Thoughts and its site, down whose avenues of limes (or were they elms?) a Baptist essayist had once walked with a Baptist publicist, lately owned by the Congregational founder of Mudie's Library, was opened in October 1898. At the opening it was cheerily announced, in the same breath as it were, that a neighbouring new cause had been given a communion service and a tea service. "If that could be done at Bowes Park, he was hoping for wonderful things at Muswell Hill."

Thus, if only by association, can one gather Morley and Garrett Horder, Bernard Manning, Thomas Smith, John Foster, Robert Hall, and C. E. Mudie, to link the second half of the eighteenth century with the first half of the twentieth, or to concentrate the larger part of Donald Davie's period upon a single event in the decade which he likes least. And what does one find there? The sanctification of the second rate? The Chapel philistine as opposed to the Church militant? Or the reverse-that prosperity described two years earlier by P. T. Forsyth and quoted by Davie as "passing through variety of interest, refinement of taste, aesthetic emotion, tender pity, kindly careless catholicity and over-sweet reasonableness, to ...


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