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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 133



v.] POPULAR LECTURING. 127 fought over the character of Tiberius, and the 'lues rehabilitandi ' has given a new reading to the history of Marius and Sylla. The reason which led me to say that even an indifferent book is better than no book at all, that an encyclopedic history or a popular compendium, or a cram-book, or even a party pamphlet is better than no book at all, because even if it misleads and misrepresents, it deceives a man one degree less than he would be deceived by a mere party agent ; because it makes him think, even if the extent of the thinking be that he thinks that he thinks ; because it either suggests to him that he ought to form a judicial opinion, or keeps before his mind the duty of inquiry and furnishes him with a starting-point; the same reason that led me to say this of popular books, leads me also to estimate at something more than their intrinsic value the popular lectures, or lecturesystem, of which we have recently heard a good deal. We are told that even a short course of lectures, clearly and interestingly delivered, will be sufficient to put the popular mind in possession of such an elementary knowledge of history, its course, influences and material lessons, as will enable men to approach the, great questions of the day with some useful amount of foresight and theoretic experience. Now, if I have mis-stated this prescription, I am very sorry ; but I think I have not. I am quite willing to admit that a popular lecture may give information that is better than total ignorance ; I am inclined to value highly the inducement to begin real study which a popular lecture may put before the mind of the audience ; I am thankful to the popular lecturer, although he may get no further than to rouse the hearers to the sense of the fact that he is talking about things of which they have no comprehension at all ; at all events he tells them that there is such a study as


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