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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 124



opinion heard. This is the way in which members of parliament ought to read history, and I take leave to say that, if they would submit to hold their tongues until they have so read it, it would be all the better for the nation and for themselves. In working thus through the history of our own country, we should come, no doubt, upon many lines of inquiry as to institutions that have long been obsolete, and influences that have np direct representative among the influences of the day; we shall trace the pedigrees of extinct families, and the growth and disuse of worn-out fashions of thought, dress and manners ; but without such reading we cannot trace the origin of existing institutions and influences with anything like a true appreciation of their proportion and relation to national life. We may, as we proceed, have to discard much that has seemed historical as now become archaeological, but we cannot dispense with the recollection that without that obsolete material, that .obsolete influence or form, that which has succeeded, survived and continued to flourish, could not have become what it is. The tree that has stood for centuries bears to the microscopic investigator marks of every winter that has passed over it ; it has not cast aside one dead leaf or rotten branch which would not, had it remained, have made the tree something different from what it has become. I do not advise microscopic minuteness in this study to the neglect of other methods, but I do claim for it a place and a function ; and further than that, I maintain that this synthetic reading of the subject is the best of all ways for those who have time and patience to follow it up. But here we must be cautious ; lest having begun to build we be not able to finish ; and having begun to read history at the Norman Conquest, we find ourselves stranded at the battle of Waterloo, or earlier still. Observing a due scale and proportion of study, much educational benefit will accrue


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