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


Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France, Spain and the Ajoining Countries from the latter part of the reign of Edward II to the coronation of Henry IV in 12 volumes 

Chronicles of Enguerrand De Monstrelet (Sir John Froissart's Chronicles continuation) in 13 volumes 

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Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects
page 66

one subject. Ten to one the most indifferent author knows more of his book (I speak of bonafide authors, not of bookmakers) than his reviewer does. In fairness he has a right to demand that his critic should have tried to put himself in his place and looked at the subject from his point ; but how very seldom does he find himself so treated. What we want, I take it, in historical reviewing is that the critic should first give a fair account of the work; that he should exhibit, in doing this, just so much superior knowledge as will justify his claim to sit in judgment upon it, and not put in a word for mere display; that he should discuss the subject-matter judicially and as a whole, not confining himself to the portions in which he is presumedly better informed, .but gauging the work by the author's standard as well as his own; that he should not dogmatise where the points of difference are matters of opinion—how many a sore heart would have been spared if the critic would have said, ' Here we differ,' instead of saying, ' This is a great mistake ; '—and finally that, in recounting blemishes, he should not confuse structural with incidental error. I do not recommend German reviews as models for English ones ; too often they seem to me to be written by rival competitors in the same field with the author ; but as a rule they give, more real information as to the work criticised than ours do ; and they are more moderate in denunciation. So much of our reviewing is done in newspapers and critical notes in magazines and quarterlies that this sort of criticism nearly engrosses the name; and the great old reviews are come to be collections of essays, the book supposed to be criticised standing merely in the place of text or thesis to a discourse in which neither book nor author may be mentioned. But the historical value of this sort of essay might be very great ; and, as history is of course only one of the subjects that compete for a limited number of

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