The Diary of Roger Lowe, of Ashton-In-Makerfield, Lancashire, 1663-74

The Diary of Roger Lowe, of Ashton-In-Makerfield, Lancashire, 1663-74

The Diary of Roger Lowe, of Ashton-In-Makerfield, Lancashire, 1663-74

The Diary of Roger Lowe, of Ashton-In-Makerfield, Lancashire, 1663-74

Excerpt

With the sole exception of letter-writing, diary-keeping is the single form of literary achievement to which all may attain. We readily grant professional status to the essayist, the novelist, the poet: but who has ever heard of the professional diarist? Every man and woman, of high and low estate, of adventurous or monotonous daily life, has one story to tell, and who can tell it better? "No kind of reading," wrote Macaulay, "is so delightful, so fascinating, as this minute history of a man's self." And for the student of history or of society no document is more revealing. Kept under lock and key by the author, no writing is less influenced by self-consciousness or promoted by self-interest; there is no confessional more secluded.

Unfortunately for students of bygone days the keys to many diaries have been lost forever. Particularly is this true of those kept by persons of humble estate. It is only comparatively recently that Clio, occupied with the annals of kings and war-lords, has considered the butcher and baker and candlestick-maker worthy of her attention. Diarian entries not relating to public events or to persons listed in Who's Who have been rigorously blue-pencilled by the most scholarly of editors, and deposited in the waste-baskets of many a publisher. The incentive of preservation is thus gone, and the means, too: for the cottager has no muniment-room or library in which to file his papers with those of his forefathers.

A diary of a seventeenth-century apprentice, such as is presented here, can therefore be regarded as an historical document of considerable rarity and importance. Roger Lowe was an apprentice to a south-Lancashire mercer, a dealer in small wares, and resided in Ashton-in-Maker-

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