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WILLIAM STUBBS Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects

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WILLIAM STUBBS
Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects
page 64



WASTE OF POWER. [III. to create new manors, in the reign of Edward I ; reflecting, as it could easily be made to do, the local and dynastic arrangements of parties and families during the fourteenth, fifteenth, and seventeenth centuries, arrangements which still survive but are destined, by the operation of legal changes most of them intended to facilitate the alienation of land and to amend the administration of justice, to speedy extinction. Well, I only adduce these as feeders, so to speak, of th e stream of historic interest. Here and there they add a really precious contribution, but chiefly they are valuable as drawing in students to the higher and nobler study. Without them I doubt not we should have our Macaulays and Froudes, our Maines and our Freemans, but without them those writers would have to dispense with nine-tenths of their intelligent and interested readers ; and without their contributions the historians of the grand school would have to content themselves with portrait painting; they would lose all minute details of character, and background and foreground alike of local colouring. The ' Worthies of AH Souls ' have shown us how even more directly and more personally the dry stores of the College Treasury can bring us into relation with the great men of old days, and the same plan followed out by the Colleges generally would serve to fill up a great gap in our national history. But considering the magnitude of the subject, I have said enough about local influences. They prove the increasing interest, but they do not yet prove that interest to be of the most refined and educated character. If we test it by the character of the work it welcomes, we shall perhaps be inclined to put a drag on historic zeal. I cannot help thinking that, although sound historical books find a hearty welcome for the most part, unsound and sensational books, which pretend to the character of history, are too often welcomed quite as heartily. High patronage as well as large circles of


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