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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 152



145 MEDIEVAL LETTERS. [VI. purposed, or said they purposed, pilgrimages to Compostella, and it is well known how great was the debt of the infant kingdom of Portugal to English pilgrims. We see, too, how the elaborate surveys of the Spanish coasts found their way into several of our chronicles, so that Spanish geography, scarcely less than German political history, owes' something to the English of this period. T o go, however, one step further; the diplomatic intercourse is illustrated not merely by the occasional visits of ambassadors, but by the constant interchange of letters between Englishmen abroad and at home, or between Englishmen and foreigners. Now the subject of medieval letter-writing is one on which a very great deal of entertaining discussion might be taken, but I can now only note a few points in this particular connexion. At first sight, medieval letters are disappointing; the amount of sentiment, and especially of religious generalities, seems altogether out of proportion to the amount of news. That arises from two causes : firstly, many of our collections of letters are edited collections, made by the writers, who prided themselves upon their correct Latinity, and published their correspondence rather as literary exercises than as historical memorials ; thus, so far from setting special value on the spontaneous unartificial morsels, which are to us the bonnes bouches of letter-writing, these men actually cut them out of their codified letters. This may be seen in almost every case in which copies of the original letters can be compared with the revised editions put out by the writers ; especially is it the case with Alcuin's letters. Many of the letters of Peter of Blois look as if they had received the same treatment, and in the Becket correspondence the reader is often nonplussed by finding a provoking etcetera, which marks the point at which the gossip, or even the serious news, was expunged by the editor.


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