The Methods of Historical Study

The Methods of Historical Study

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The Methods of Historical Study

The Methods of Historical Study

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Excerpt

The course of Lectures here printed, with the Inaugural Lecture prefixed, was meant as a call and an introduction to historical study in general. They were followed up in Easter Term 1885 by a course on the Chief Periods of European History. After these two general courses, I began in October 1885 the first of a series of more minute lectures, beginning at the point marked. out in the present course as a provisional beginning for the special work of a Professor of so-called "Modern" History. That point is the great barbarian invasion of Gaul in 407, the beginning of Teutonic settlement, strictly so called, in the Western lands of the Empire. I had far rather have begun at 776 B.C. than at 407 A.D.; but I believe that I have chosen the best point that could be chosen, if an arbitrary division was to be made anywhere. But I feel more and more the utter worthlessness of the unnatural distinctions which are still drawn, in matters of history and language, between periods and subjects between which no natural distinction can be drawn. An advanced time of life has its drawbacks; but I daily feel, and I find that eminent contemporaries of mine feel with me, the great advantage of having spent our youth under the old Oxford system and not under the new. The changes of 1849-50 were premature. The old system needed expansion to bring, it up to the actual level of knowledge; but its principle was good; it was sound within its own lines. Its examination in sixteen books at the end of four years was . . .

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