The Age of Erasmus: Lectures Delivered in the Universities of Oxford and London

The Age of Erasmus: Lectures Delivered in the Universities of Oxford and London

The Age of Erasmus: Lectures Delivered in the Universities of Oxford and London

The Age of Erasmus: Lectures Delivered in the Universities of Oxford and London

Excerpt

The importance of biography for the study of history can hardly be overrated. In a sense it is true that history should be like the law and 'care not about very small things'; concerning itself not so much with individual personality as with fundamental causes affecting the rise and fall of nations or the development of mental outlook from one age to another. But even if this be conceded, we still must not forget that the course of history is worked out by individuals, who, in spite of the accidental condensation that the needs of human life thrust upon them, are isolated at the last and alone -- for no man may deliver his brother. In consequence, it is only in periods when the stream of personal record flows wide and deep that history begins to live, and that we have a chance to view it through the eyes of the actors instead of projecting upon it our own fancies and conceptions.

One of the features that makes the study of the Renaissance so fascinating is that in that age the stream of personal record, which had been driven underground, its course choked and hidden beneath the fallen masonry of the Roman Empire, emerges again unimpeded and flows in ever-increasing volume. For reconstruction of the past we are no longer . . .

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