[[UNIVERSITY OF LONDON INTERMEDIATE SOURCE-BOOKS
OF HISTORY, NO. I]
THE immediate object of this volume, and of the series which it inaugurates, is of a practical character. It is to remove some of the difficulties which beset students, teachers, and examiners in connection with the original texts prescribed as part of the Intermediate course and examination in history in the University of London. That students, even in their intermediate stage, should have occasion to study something in the nature of original sources is nowadays a principle so well recognized as to need no defence. But there is a considerable difference between the recognition of a principle and the provision of means for its application; and the authorities which prescribe these original texts have hitherto been compelled to rely on a marked that is not supplied on any definite plan or from any educational source. The printed documentary evidences for English history consist of shreds and patches produced by individual enterprise and interest in particular epochs or aspects of history, and generally unavailable in sufficient quantity for students in schools and universities; and when any design other than that vi of producing a saleable book has stimulated their publication, it has seldom been that of meeting the needs of university students.
Even the rare exceptions have suffered from at least one serious defect. Nothing, for instance, could be more admirable in their way as historical sources or illustrations than Horace Walpole’s “Letters” or the “Paston Letters,” Fortescue’s “Governance of England” or Burke’s “Reflections on the French Revolution”. But such works almost invariably illustrate no more than one aspect of a period or exemplify but one kind of historical source; and the numerous students, who cease to study history after their intermediate examination, stand in particular need of source-books, which will illustrate the various aspects of their respective periods and provide some means for comparing different kinds of historical evidence. A political pamphlet or a ballad has not the same kind of value as a contemporary letter; and the weight to be attached to a chronicle differs from that which an official record will carry. The student loses many opportunities of historical education if his source-book is restricted to one type of evidence and provides him with no means of comparing the multitudinous material of which the temple of historical truth is built. The absence of source-books selected and arranged according to recognized principles of historical science has constrained the Board of Studies in History in the University of London to embark vii on the experiment of which the present volume is the beginning.
It is hoped, however, that the series will serve other purposes than those for which it has been primarily designed. Others than professed students of history are interested in historical studies; and in particular there is an increasing weight of opinion in favour of the view that the language and literature of a country or of a period cannot be satisfactorily studied apart from its history. Readers of Chaucer can hardly be indifferent to these authentic illustrations of the age in which he lived; and while not every volume in this series can be expected to make so direct an appeal to the student of English literature, few of them are likely to be devoid of interest and instruction for the historian of letters.
Apart from the general outlines and supervision of the scheme, this volume is the work of Miss Dorothy Hughes, whose “Early Years of Edward III”1 has borne witness to her knowledge of the sources for the history of the period. These documents will not, of course, enable the student to dispense with further reading on the subject, and Miss Hughes has provided the following notes to guide the reader; her own previous volume should be added to her list of authorities.
A. F. POLLARD.
1 Published for the University of London Press by Messrs. Hodder & Stoughton, 1915.