The Cambridge History of the British Empire

The Cambridge History of the British Empire

The Cambridge History of the British Empire

The Cambridge History of the British Empire

Excerpt

"Nothing in the early existence of Britain indicated the greatness which she was destined to attain." So wrote Lord Macaulay in the introduction to his most famous work; and though the seed of England's later imperial power may be found in the unity, the law, the institutions, and the sea instinct, of which she became possessed in the Middle Ages, it was not until late in the fifteenth century that her oceanic expansion began. It is therefore with the Tudor period that this History opens. Out of the ambitions of that adventurous age, when men dreamed great dreams for England and set out to realise them, grew the maritime State which, shaped amid the successive conflicts of modern history, has developed in the twentieth century into the British Commonwealth of Nations. A long story of colonisation and imperial policy, of the rise and growth of new nations and the assumption of vast responsibilities, a story varied in its scene, but finding its unity in the activities of a maritime and commercial people, runs through the intervening centuries. The time has not yet come when that story can be finally written. The British Empire is still in the long process of its growth. The latest phase of its development is still too near to us, and, in its past, rich but neglected fields still offer a mine of wealth to the historical student. But in the forty-five years which have elapsed since the late Professor Sir John Seeley delivered at Cambridge his lectures on the "Expansion of England" and shed a new light on the history of the Empire, much has happened to increase public interest in a subject which to an unique degree challenges the attention of statesmen and the labours of scholars. The time has passed when the research of any one man could suffice for the varied work which a comprehensive history of the British Empire demands, and it has been deemed essential in the present undertaking to follow the plan of the Cambridge Modern History and to invite the co-operation of many students who are specialists in different parts of the subject. That such a method can be entirely successful with this or any other historical theme it is too much to hope. But within the limitations imposed on them by the difficulties of the co-operative method and the vastness of their subject, the Editors hope that this History of the British Empire will exhibit the present state of knowledge of the subject and lay a foundation on which future generations of students may build.

The work has been planned in eight volumes, of which the first three will relate the general history of British oversea expansion and imperial policy, volumes four and five the history of British India (these two volumes being edited by Professor H. H. Dodwell and also . . .

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