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WILLIAM STUBBS Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects


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 

Chronicles of Enguerrand De Monstrelet (Sir John Froissart's Chronicles continuation) in 13 volumes 

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Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects
page 390

PARCHMENT OR PAPER. [XV. But still it is dull : we do not much care about the effete struggles of the dynastic parties, and we cannot get up a lively interest in the negotiations for the Scottish or Spanish marriage. It is our own fault perhaps that we want more sensationalism. But there is a lack of it notwithstanding. One reason I will shortly dismiss. I verily believe that one reason why this period is dull is that it was the period of the discovery and development of printing, and of the use of paper instead of parchment. Men began to write freely and to destroy freely ; instead of writing for private purposes of record, they wrote for other men to read ; they wrote not what was worth writing, but what would catch readers ; they wrote what it was safe to write when every one could read ; they wrote because they could write, not because there was a necessity for them to write ; that is, anybody wrote, and few wrote what was worth preserving. One popular book destroyed a thousand chances of having invaluable records of timid private annals. And, when destruction began, it found paper more easy to dispose of than parchment : the age that could make tailors' measures out of Magna Carta, lighted its fires with State papers. Growing criticism, careful public administration, even before the age of destruction began, had not learned to be careful as to what should be preserved and what should be destroyed. And when the age of destruction did come, it was divided between the Roman Catholic force that destroyed everything new, and the Puritan force that destroyed everything old. So it is not so much a wonder that we have so little documentary remains of Henry VH's reign, as that we have anything at all. The only strictly contemporary account of the king's life and character is to be found in a few half-rotten, half-legible paper sheets in the Cottonian Library. All the more circumstantial parts of the history have to be worked out of the annalists of the next generation.

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