The Influence of the Commons on Early Legislation: A Study of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries

By Howard L. Gray | Go to book overview

PREFACE

FOR several patent defects of this volume the author asks the indulgence of any who may read it. Some of these defects arise from its introductory character; for it is far from being a comprehensive treatment of even a single century of parliamentary history. It may seem to be the description of a formal rather than of a fundamental aspect of its subject, inasmuch as it relates largely to the final stages of the legislative process rather than to earlier ones in which formative influences have play. Its progress is from later and fuller evidence to that which is earlier and fragmentary; and this method not only sometimes leads those who adopt it to attribute to an early time features which are really later but it likewise departs from the logical development of a theme. The chapters, again, are often laden with dull summaries of legislation, occasionally not free from repetition; and blunders have probably been made in attempting to summarize in a sentence or phrase bills which are often verbose or obscure.

In excuse for these defects I can only plead the desirability of making an initial examination of a subject little studied of late; the necessity of utilizing first the more obvious documents at hand; the convenience of a method which supplements somewhat the reticences of the documents; and, finally, the scientific demand that all evidence of one sort be adduced, voluminous and obscure though it be.

Three gentlemen have been good enough to read the manuscript -- Professor W. E. Lunt, Professor Conyers Read and Dr. G. O. Sayles. They have made valuable suggestions for its improvement without in any way associating themselves with such shortcomings as remain. I am grateful for their help.

-vii-

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