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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 178



LOST BOOKS. [VII. independence between the kings of Scots and English ; and in his train poets, preachers and writers of histories, who are one after another continuing the work which had been begun by Bede, and continued after long breaks by Simeon and the Hexham writers. And so, having completely traversed the literary world of England, he may come south, through either the eastern or the western counties, sure to find at every monastery or cathedral he may visit some one employed in keeping up the record of public as well as local history, or otherwise attempting to keep alive the fire of literary zeal. He would go away, I think, from such a view with the impression that, whatever drawbacks there might be to the full enjoyment of life, England was a paradise of clerks. True, the cruel legate, Hugeson, had betrayed them to the king, had actually yielded the point, that most important point, about the forest law, and allowed the king to prosecute clerical offenders against the peace of the king's venison, and have them hauled before the sheriffs in the county court ;— but that was the only drawback to the free enjoyment of clerical society. So far as books were concerned, there was such a supply of writers and readers as would be found nowhere else in Europe, except in the University of Paris itself. Such an impression, I take it, would not be far from the truth : for the extant remains of the literary work of the period are so great, that, if we suppose them to bear the ordinary proportion to the lost works of the same age, they would prove it to be enormously prolific. I do not claim for it such a distinction, because I think that most of what was really worth preserving has been preserved ; preserved because the men whose task it was to take care of it were sensible that it was the work of an age of transcendent importance in every region of English life; constitutional, moral and intellectual.


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