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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 115



V.] MEDIEVAL HISTORY. IO9 rooted and sprang up, but had not yet entered into the phases in which controversy is most bitter, or in which the political questions of the day are most directly engaged, has always seemed to me to furnish very good training ; to enable us to approach questions in which we are ourselves engaged, with moderate and cautious treatment, to allow some of them to wait for solution, to determine others by the evidence of fact rather than by prepossession, and to let others alone altogether. Ancient History exercises the critical faculty in a comparatively narrow and exhausted field, although, as a matter of training, every student has to go over the field and exhaust its interest for himself before he gets the benefit of what he is reading; mere modern politics, as I have said, furnish training only, and that incomplete training, for the advocate and partisan ; the intermediate region is that in which real personal interest may be strongly engaged without much temptation to passionate controversy, and in which therefore the judgment may be best trained for its own perfect development, and for the uses of practical politics when the time for practical controversy and advocacy comes. We learn patience, tolerance, respect for conflicting views, equitable consideration for conscientious opposition; we see how very differently the men of the particular time seem to have read the course of events, which seem to us to have only one reasonable bearing; we see how good and evil mingle in the best of men and in the best of causes ; we learn to see with patience the men whom we like best often in the wrong, and the repulsive men often in the right; we learn to bear with patience the knowledge that the cause which we love best has suffered, from the awkwardness of its defenders, so great disparagement as in strict equity to justify the men who were assaulting it ; we learn too, and this is not the least of the lessons, that there are many points on which no decision


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