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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 394



388 LACK OF HISTORIC INTEREST. [XV. said to have any, is extremely slow; there is little that calls for sympathy in men or institutions, and the pages of the annalist are dry and jejune to an exceptional degree. And what interest it has in the nature of personal incident is apart from the life of the nation. With the single exception of that part of the incident which concerns the conspiracies and pretensions of the Yorkist faction, which again derives its interest from the tragedy of the preceding reign, the pages of the annalist, where there are any, are so dull that we scarcely complain of their jejuneness. We have no temptation to follow the humdrum movements of the court as we trace the military itinerary of Edward I or the judicial itinerary of Henry II ; and it is by an effort that we have to remind ourselves what great things,' irrespective of political events, were going on in England during these years ; how it was the period of the great activity of Caxton and his early followers, the period of the foundation or development of colleges in Oxford and Cambridge, of the renewal of old studies, of the friendship of Erasmus and More ; of discovery of a new world, and of unexampled development of commercial enterprise. It is curious how little notice is taken of these things in the contemporary annals ; they lie, for the most part, outside of the limited area that we are wont to take for constitutional history. But we do not doubt that an immense part of the life of the next age was wrapped up in these things. Certainly the invention of printing, not less than the agglomeration of the new factors of the European balance, was a starting-point of a new stage of History; and the freedoms and jealousies of commerce and conquest in the New World were factors in the new drama second only in importance to the accumulations of power and territory in Europe. But they are both of them events of a class which finds for contemporaries too much work to allow of much


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