Seventeen Lectures on the Study of Medieval and Modern History and Kindred Subjects: Delivered at Oxford, under Statutory Obligation in the Year 1867-1884

By William Stubbs | Go to book overview

PREFACE.

IF I were asked what is my reason for printing these lectures, I might be at a loss for an answer. They are not printed by request, or because they seem to me worthy to be preserved, or because they are likely to be useful reading, or because they supply a want. It may be that they owe their present form to the fact that the love of correcting proof-sheets has become a leading passion with the author.

Some part of the volume may be readable, some part useful: it may be that the useful part is hard reading, and the readable part trifling, but I will give myself, unphilosophic as it may be, the benefit of a doubt. The lectures were written under the pressure of statutory compulsion, and against the grain. I know, by sad experience, how often the best lecture, the best sermon on which I have most prided myself--eloquent, lucid, learned, logical,--has gone the way of all fireworks. There is a chance that something may be said for work elicited by forcible pressure, under weariness and vexation, against stress of time, under statutory obligation and a conscientious sense of duty.

The statute under which these lectures were delivered was a burdensome statute to me; it would not be so to every professor, but the discomforts of working under it could only be explained by experience: and the statute itself is now a thing of the past. The feeling of compulsion, the compulsion to produce something twice a year which might attract an idle audience, without seeming to trifle with a deeply loved and honoured study, was so irksome that

-v-

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