« PreviousContinue »
any supplies extraordinary, either out of record, or such instruments of state as I could procure, I have given a true account of them in the margin, so that the reader shall be sure to be paid with no counterfeit coin,, but such as shall have the stamp of antiquity, the approbation of testimony, and the allowance of authority, so far as I shall proceed herein.
And for that I would have this breviary to pass with an uninterrupted delivery of the especial affairs of the kingdom (without embroiling the memory of the reader) I have in a body apart, under the title of an appendix, collected all treaties, letters, articles, charters, ordinances, entertainments, provisions of armies, businesses of commerce, with other passages of state appertaining to our history; which, as soon as I have means to print, shall, for the better satisfying such worthy persons as may make use of such materials, accompany this collection; and to this appendix I have made references in the margin, as occasion requires.
He commences his history with giving his reasons why he did not begin farther back than William the Conqueror.
Undertaking, says he, to collect the principal affairs of this kingdom, I had a desire to have deduced the same from the beginning of the first British kings, as they are registered in their catalogue; but finding no authentical warrant how they came there, I did put off that desire with these considerations: That a lesser part of time, and better known, (which was from William I. surnamed the Bastard) was more than enough for my ability; and how it was but our curiosity to search further back into times past than we might discern, and whereof we could neither have proof nor profit; how the begin,nings of all people and states were as uncertain as the heads of great rivers, and could not add to our virtue, and peradventure, little to our reputation to know them, considering how commonly they rise from the springs of poverty, piracy, robbery, and violence; howsoever fabulous writers (to glorify their nations) strive to abuse the credulity of afterages with heroical or miraculous beginnings. For states (as men) are ever best seen when they are up, and as they are, not as they were. Besides, (it seems) God in his providence, to check our presumptuous inquisition, wraps up all things in uncertainty, bars us out from long antiquity, and bounds our searches within the compass of a few ages, as if the same were sufficient, both for example and instruction, to the government of men. For had we the
particular occurrents of all ages and all nations, it might more stuff but not better our understanding; we shall find still the same correspondencies to hold in the actions of men; virtues and vices the same, though rising and falling, according to the worth, or weakness of governors; the causes of the ruins and mutations of states to be alike,, and the train of affairs carried by precedent, in a course of succession, under like colours.
Daniel's History displays good sense and a manly taste; the narrative is clear and simple, and the language is remarkable for being more correct and elegant, and more resembling our modern stile, than that of any writer of his age.
This History was continued to the end of Richard III. by John Trussel, a trader, and alderman of the city of Winchester. The full title is, "A Continuation of the Collection of the History of England, beginning where Samuel Daniel, esq. ended, with the Reign of Edward III. and ending where the honourable viscount St. Albans began with the Life of Henry VII.; being a complete history of the begin ning and end of the dissention betwixt the
two houses of York and Lancaster; with the matches and issue of all the kings, princes, dukes, marquisses, earls, and viscounts of this nation deceased, during those times." The fifth edition of the complete work is dated 1685. The continuation has neither the elegance nor the judgment of the first part.
SIR HENRY SPELMAN, knight, descended from an ancient family of his name at Beckington in Hampshire, but which settled finally in Norfolk, was born in 1562. Before he had been well grounded in grammar learning, he entered at Trinity College, Cambridge, at the age of fourteen, where, after a residence of no more than two years and half, he was recalled to attend the funeral of his father, and to superintend the family concerns. After the lapse of about a twelvemonth, he was admitted of Lincoln's Inn. Here his attention was chiefly turned to polite literature, and that branch of the law which relates to the investigation of its general principles, rather than to those minutiæ requisite to practice.
On his becoming of age, he married, and