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

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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 

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WILLIAM STUBBS
Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects
page 99



IV.] NO USELESS KNOWLEDGE. benefit arising from the study of original materials to lie in the gratification of our natural instinctive desire to get to the bottom of a thing. I suppose that such an instinct is given us for some good end, and that that which lies at the bottom of the historical well is historical truth : Truth that defies the all-dissolving processes of criticism, or at least such an approach to truth as may be credited to a record incapable of further analysis. The results of such minute study are the little pebbles of the concrete in which the foundations of the historic superstructure are laid. Every great historian has been his own Dry-as-dust, however much he may, as Carlyle does, point the moral of the lesson of labour with small type and inverted commas ; for, I take it, the prophet does not adopt this plan as a means of disguise, but rather to show that to a great extent historical genius consists in an unlimited capacity for taking pains. The man who has, out of independent study, produced such results, has made a contribution, small or great as the case may be, to the great stock of sound material which constitutes real knowledge. This consciousness may be its own reward ; but, as I said before, if the love of history for its own sake goes no further, such ambition ranks among the lowest forms of the historical spirit. We take a real pleasure not only in cutting out our sound and perfect stone, but in fitting it into its place in the building : we wish to increase the sum of human knowledge not only by the accumulation of facts but by following them up and making them a part of history. The botanist is charmed when he finds a new plant, and the astronomer when he discovers a new star, but we scarcely should call ' the one a botanist or the other an astronomer if he did not straightway go and fit in his discovery into the general system of his science, reunite the missing plant to its kinsfolk in genus, and species and variety, or find out the relation of his star to the rest, and assign it to its group and class in the


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