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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 93

IV.] ORIGINAL RESEARCH. 87 even in the humble office of providing materials for men who work with a higher purpose and idea, cannot be gainsayed. The mere archaeologist, the mere genealogist, the mere antiquary, are not the parasites of historical study, as they are too often regarded by men who find it easier to borrow than to estimate the results of their researches; they are working bees in the hive of historic knowledge. And the curious fact that the contemptuous toleration of archaeological research is very often found in the speeches and writings of men who profess to set a high value on the study of original sources, a fact so curious as to lead to the conclusion that the critic is dealing on both hands with unknown quantities, may serve to lead on to the question, what are, and what is the value of the study of, original sources? We hear a great deal about them at the present day; not only are our bookshelves actually broken down with the weight of them, but the exact study of them is becoming a subordinate science with method and rules of its own, and with a great apparatus of material appliances in the shape of palseographical tests;"a science of historical palmistry, if that is the word, that attempts to refer, by distinctions of penmanship, parchment, paper, ink, illumination and abbreviation, every manuscript to its own country, district, age, school, and even individual writer. Truly we may say the study of Geschichtsquellen is not to be approached without clean hands and an open mind. And after the initial investigation comes the criticism; first we have to identify, then we have to value our historical inventory. Both these processes are involved in the study of original sources; it means not merely the reading, or the restriction of reading to, the primary authorities, but the weighing and critical analysis of the primary authorities themselves.

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