most of all lies at the basis of what is unique in the training of the École des Chartes.

The course in French institutions by M. Jules Roy is of a distinctly different character. It involves no research beyond the study of well-known manuals, and will disappoint any one who comes to the École des Chartes expecting to do research work in history proper. It is fortunate that there are other institutions at hand to supplement the instruction of the school in this respect. M. Roy's course covers the field in a painstaking way and it insures a knowledge of the elements of the institutions of the Middle Ages, but it involves no research among the original sources. M. Roy's research course is given at the École des Hautes Études.

The “Service des Archives ", to which M. Eugène Lelong devotes a weekly conférence, is intended for the practical training of archivists in French archives, yet the long historical introduction contains not a little valuable history. The actual description of present conditions of work in the archives does not begin until the close of January. The manual by Langlois and Stein, tested by actual investigations at the archives, will largely compensate for the loss of this course if for any reason it proves difficult to attend it; for, although of the greatest value to the French student, it is perhaps too special for the American, unless he intends to work extensively in France. The same remark is true of the course on the “ Sources of French History”, which cannot in the nature of things contain much of independent value since the publication of Molinier's Répertoire. M. H. F. Delaborde pursues this subject through both the second and the third year, with enlargements upon Molinier. But nowhere else does one obtain such a keen realization of the loss to historical research by the untimely death of Molinier as in the classroom where his work took shape. The course remains much what Molinier made it, a survey of the narrative sources of French history; and it gains still from a sense of his prodigious labor, for Molinier followed true French traditions and did the work himself instead of exploiting his students. It is interesting in this connection to refer to Molinier's own comment on the importance of this course. He tried in it to save the École des Chartes from neglecting the chronicler and annalist for the exclusive study of charters. The tendency of the student trained in diplomatics under such masters as Giry and Prou is instinctively away from the literary sources. Molinier's work was in a sense more difficult than that of Giry, for his materials were both vaster and of more uncertain value. His manual is a lasting witness to the way he faced his responsibilities at the École des Chartes.1

In the third year, besides the second course of M. Delaborde, there are two others: one on the history of civil and canon law in the Middle Ages, by M. Paul Viollet; and the other by M. Robert de Lasteyrie on the archaeology of the Middle Ages. M. Viollet evidently recognizes that the day of the canonist is doomed in France, for the history of the canon law itself is finished before Christmas, and then the course shifts into a history of French law through the Middle Ages. The historian of French law and institutions has fortunately already published much of what he gives in the classroom; but, in spite of a delivery difficult for a foreigner to follow, the students regard his course with the respect due to so distinguished a master, and speak with reverent affection of his genial personality.

In medieval archaeology one naturally places next to the name of Jules Quicherat that of Robert Comte de Lasteyrie—master and pupil. M. de Lasteyrie's task as the successor of Quicherat was naturally a heavy one, but he in turn has imparted to his pupils the inspiration which has produced a manual like that of Enlart, and an interest in medieval archaeology which has extended much beyond the classroom of the École des Chartes. The history of art has received from this course a legitimization which should find some echo in the serious programme of historical studies in America. One cannot there, it is true, take his class in the spring on excursions to Coucy and Blois; but a well-equipped history department can in other respects follow the method of instruction of the École des Chartes. M. Lasteyrie's health prevents him from conducting his conférences regularly, and they are often taken by his former pupils Enlart or Lefèvre-Pontalis.

Such are the courses at the École des Chartes. One must remember that their great value consists in the steady and close application which they demand of the student. Recitations which are real tests, and which are faced with the sense of their importance, develop a spirit of work which is the distinctive mark of the “Chartist ”.

After the examinations on the courses, a thesis has to be written. This must be ready for the formal defense in the January following the completion of the three years' work. The student therefore spends all the summer and fall of his third year upon the completion of a thesis which he has begun during the regular terms. It generally involves practical investigations in the national or provincial archives, and one can see the serious character of the work by a glance at the synopsis published yearly under the title “ Position des Thèses." In more than one case the thesis has been made the basis for a contribution of the first importance.

1 Cf. Moliner, Les Sources de l'Histoire de France, V. clxxvi: “ Toutefois, il faut reconnaitre que dans cette sévère école, trop fidèle à certaines traditions bénédictines, on a longtemps montré plus de prédilection pour l'étude des documents diplomatiques du moyen âge que pour celle des sources narratives ; beaucoup des excellents érudits qu'elle a formés ont donné de remarquables éditions de chroniques et autres textes historiques, mais aux temps déjà lointains où l'auteur du présent ouvrage en suivait les cours, on n'y parlait guère des historiens latins ou français du moyen âge; on s'occupait exclusivement de chartes et de diplômes."

The defense of the thesis is a public function; and the examiners consist of a “Conseil de perfectionnement", including besides the professors the administrators of the Bibliothèque Nationale, the Director of the Archives Nationales, the Director of the École des Chartes, and five members of the Académie des Inscriptions elected by its members. The president is the venerable Léopold Delisle. His rugged Carlylean features are lighted up by a genial sympathy as he comments upon the work of the young students who one after another are called to the table facing the jury. The presence of the aged and distinguished historian lends dignity to a scene marked by the utter absence of formality. The unsuccessful candidate is simply told by his professor that he must do his thesis over again ; the successful learn their order of merit in a list posted up after the tests are over. It is an anxious period of waiting, for the first on the list is sent by the government to the École Française de Rome.

One naturally asks what there is in this limited curriculum to yield such important results. The very limitation of the studies to a single field is no doubt an important factor ; but since the students generally take courses in the Sorbonne, the École des Hautes Études, or the École de Droit as well, this cannot be the main reason. It lies rather in the thorough practice which is exacted of every student in the subjects which are covered. There are no superficial courses along the gilded margin of attractive subjects. The work is intensive and severe. The discipline is as valuable as the knowledge acquired. This seems to be the secret of the power of the École des Chartes. “Not eager for quick returns of profit", it has reaped more largely of the years that followed.

J. T. SHOTWELL. 1 A distinguished alumnus thus sums up the reasons for the success of the École des Chartes: “ L'École doit sa valeur : (1°) au petit nombre d'élèves, (2) à l'obligation stricte de suivre les cours, (3°) à l'entrainement auquel les examens de semestre et annuels soumettent les élèves, (4°) à l'obligation de toujours recourir aux originaux, d'apporter des documents inédits, bien lus, bien ponctués, bien compris, prêts pour l'impression, (50) à la sévérité de l'examen des thèses, et à la terreur qu’inspirent certains professeurs ou membres du conseil ; et ces messieurs sont inaccessibles aux recommendations extra-scientifiques. Viri boni, discendi periti."


THERE is one period of English history that is to us Americans of more significance than all the centuries which preceded and have followed it; for it is the pit from which our nation was digged and the rock from which it was hewn. It covers a part of the sixteenth century and the whole of the seventeenth, but its earliest portion is of the greater importance. Some eighty years, say from 1580 to 1660, covered the adult life of the whole body of early emigrants from England to New England, Virginia, and Maryland. Every man who came from England to America to build up the colonies was born, or at least grew to maturity, and gained his impressions, characteristics, and early experiences in England in those years. How much do we really know about England during that period ? How clear and how adequate is the knowledge we can obtain from accessible historical works of life in England at the time our earliest American forefathers lived in it and were formed by it? These first settlers not only were raised under English conditions; they brought over with them the ideas and training they had gained at home, and they established these English institutions in America. Where can we turn to find what the English institutions of the time were?

This paper is intended as in a certain sense an answer to these questions. It is intended to indicate, first, what has been done and what still needs to be done in the study of English history during the two generations between 1580 and 1660; secondly, what materials for performing the remaining work exist; and thirdly, how far these materials are accessible.

In examining what is already done we turn in the first place naturally to the narrative history of the period, the account of its events. Curiously enough, this is nowhere very minutely and familiarly given. That part of the period which falls within the reign of Elizabeth has suffered from the length of her reign and from the relatively more exciting character of its earlier years. Froude, it is true, called his work a History of England from the Fall of Wolsey to the Death of Elisabeth; but with his instinct for the picturesque he brings his work to an end with the defeat of the Armada, in 1588, fifteen years short of his previously announced date of conclusion. He may have grown weary in well-or ill doing, or he may have had a justifiable feeling that twelve volumes are quite as many as any one man should write on any one subject; but what he says is, “Chess-players, when they have brought their game to a point at which the result can be foreseen with certainty, regard their contest as ended, and sweep the pieces from the board." So, looking upon the history of sixteenth-century England as a sort of drama of the Reformation, after the execution of Mary Queen of Scots and the defeat of the first great attempt to avenge her death, he considers the play ended, and brings it to a close which is far more dramatic than either scholarly or historically justifiable. Nor have others who preceded or have followed Froude given an appreciably fuller account of the last fifteen years of Elizabeth's reign. An impression has grown up that it was in some sense a triumphant period, a time of well-earned rest from earlier labors, but all details are wanting. The contrary is really the case: the queen outlived her ability and her popularity; the country groaned and muttered under the enormous exactions and taxation; repeated Spanish armadas terrified the towns and the seaboard ; Ireland, as so often before and since, just failed to shake off the English incubus ; golden opportunities to crush England's great Spanish rival were lost by vacillation and mismanagement—but of all these, too, details are still wanting.

With the accession of James I., we come into the light of the great work of Gardiner. Solid learning, scholarly accuracy, and an admirable freedom from partizanship mark a history that extends in time well beyond the period of early American settlement and falls but little short of the limit he had planned for it. Yet Gardiner's work is merely political; and consists besides, if carefully examined, rather of a series of descriptions of a few successive great events or movements than of a continuous, well-balanced narrative. His historical writing appeared first as a series of detailed studies : Prince Charles and the Spanish Marriage (1869), England under Buckingham (1875), and others; and the recasting of it into a continuous form did not materially alter its character. It cannot be said that we have a well-rounded and lifelike account of the period of the early Stuarts, even from Gardiner. Nor is this want supplied by other narratives, nor by the many excellent biographies of the men of the time that have appeared. A clear, continuous, and inclusive account of the occurrences of English history during the period referred to is certainly a desideratum.

1 Volume XII. (ed. of 1856-1870), 530.

« ForrigeFortsett »