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here that any historical work worth doing involves going to actual, original, contemporary documents. But many of these are easily accessible, being already printed in extenso. Such are the statutes, proceedings of Parliament, famous trials, statements of religious principles, the more conspicuous state papers, and a great body of foreign and domestic correspondence. Others, like the Acts of the Prity Council, are being printed more or less rapidly by the English government.
Few persons realize what a large body of records exists, published in full form, in the series of transactions or periodicals published by various societies; and these are constantly being added to. Historical work in England is poorly organized to the last degree, and no known force except chance decides what is going to appear in any one of the twenty or more uncorrelated forms of publication. Bibliographies for this period do not exist, and it is often almost as hard to find what documents have appeared as to find what are going to appear-but nevertheless appear they do, and in considerable numbers. Far behind Germany, France, Italy, and the United States in systematic historical production as England certainly is; with her universities devoted principally to secondary study, and her historical investigators working in unsupported loneliness, even when they are not losing much good energy in personal controversies; nevertheless the fact remains that through the government, through various societies, and through other agencies a great amount and variety of historical material is constantly being made accessible to all historical students. The immoral custom of issuing but a small and limited number of copies of certain works is more widespread in England than in other countries, as in the instance where Oxford University some years ago issued some very important facsimile maps in an edition of only fifty copies; but this seldom applies to documents of any great value or interest-to real students. I repeat that the possibilities.of work from existing printed material are very great. A thesis has recently been issued from one of our universities which involves the use of more material concerning the later English craft-gilds than all the other existing works on the subject, English and American, together; and all this material was found in one American university library. The history of local political institutions, those of the county, hundred, and parish, could probably be quite sufficiently studied from material already in print. Local manuscript records are in very bad shape. Ill-written in the first place, subsequently they have been neglected or scattered or forgotten or destroyed. There has never until lately been any pressure from above to require local authorities to keep their records in order, and when the county councils recently took the matter up to the extent of requiring parish officials to provide a tin box for their records, they met an almost ludicrous amount of resistance. Nevertheless the total bulk of local records has been so great as to leave still, after all losses, an immense residuum. For the study of local institutions these county and parish records are indispensable; for the knowledge of real social conditions they are almost equally important, for here more than anywhere else we read the plain, unquestionable records of what people actually did under actual, ordinary circumstances. It is here that we find the true corrective to “ drum and trumpet history "-real people living their lives, quite unaware of the lurid story of them which later writers of romance might tell. How could a plain churchwarden, attending a parish meeting where money gained from the Hock-Tuesday play was brought in and appropriated to repairs on the church-steeple; where the men who had rung the bells to welcome King James, as he passed through from Edinburgh to London to take his new crown, came to get their fees; where the constable reported how many vagabonds he had whipped and turned over to the next parish; where a new parish mole-catcher was appointed; and where ten pounds of the parish funds was loaned out to apprentice a boy to a neighboring tradesman—how could this churchwarden who has left us his minutes of the meeting be supposed to know that England was at that very time torn to shreds by quarrels between Anglican and Puritan, and that all usual employments were suspended while Parliament and the king were settling their disputes as to the extent of the prerogative?
The value of this class of records has lately come to be recognized more and more, and in the usual English way a new society has been formed to provide for the printing of such material; but its systematic publication will involve much difficulty and a long time. In the meantime there is a great body of local records already in print, as in the case of the records of broader interest already referred to. They are printed as appendixes or foot-notes in various works of local history, and in local periodicals. This material is hard to gather and hard to co-ordinate. There are no bibliographical guides, or almost none. Local histories are always questionable and generally inferior in scholarly qualities. Nevertheless such material is well worth collecting and utilizing. But little has been done or is likely to be done in this direction in England. It is much to be desired that the Library of Congress, the Carnegie Institution, the American Historical Association, some state historical society, or some well-equipped university or public library should take up the task of collecting, listing, and critically valuing the books and periodicals on English local history which contain in them bona-fide English local records referring to the period of American settlement.
Turning from documents published in full to printed abstracts of manuscripts, we are immediately brought face to face with the publications of the Public Record Office in London. The splendid body of national records preserved there, more voluminous, more continuous, more accessible, probably, than those of any other European nation, are for the most part now classified by subject and date. The authorities have been engaged for many years in printing calendars or analytical lists of certain classes of these papers in such a degree of fullness as will often preclude the necessity of the student's seeing the manuscript itself. These are the well-known Calendars of State Papers, of which there are now about three hundred volumes in print.
Unfortunately for the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, some other periods have been recently receiving a disproportionately large share of attention. About four volumes for the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries are being published to every one for the sixteenth and seventeenth. Curiously enough, there are at present many more people desirous of studying the patent-rolls and close rolls of the fourteenth century than the records of later periods, and it is they whom the Keeper of the Records is trying to satisfy. This must be amended by pressure from this side of the sea. The authorities of the Record Office, like all other authorities, are amenable to pressure; and if there is a steady, strong demand they will eventually recognize that American and English students want access to the papers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and turn their attention toward satisfying them. However, both the Domestic papers and the Colonial records are already calendared well down beyond the dates chosen for this paper; and Foreign, Admiralty, Treasury, and other classes of papers are for our purpose less important. These printed calendars can be found in every large library in America and Europe, and an astonishingly large amount of useful investigation can be made from them alone, or from them in conjunction with other printed documents.
Nevertheless, the desire to do thorough and detailed work will in most cases sooner or later draw the investigator to London and make him for a while what is technically called a " searcher " in the Record Office. It is no hard fate. The conditions of study there are pleasant, the rules few and reasonable, the officials courteous and
helpful. If handwriting is illegible and the reading of manuscripts slow work, it is in most cases made as light as possible by their careful preparation and their accessibility. Some of the manuscripts, it is true, are still crumpled, stained, dusty, and strung like fish on a string, but those yet in this raw state are few and are being steadily reduced in number. The officials are usually ready to put those of any special bundle quickly in order. The dust of ages is sometimes not metaphorical—but wash-stands are handy. Most explorers like to meet an occasional bit of jungle or desert, if only to give variety to the journey, and something to boast about afterward. Plans are being discussed for the organization of American historical work in London which will make it more pleasant and more profitable. In the study or exploitation of any such mass of material as that deposited in the Record Office and the British Museum there is always a plenteous harvest of new information to be garnered. The manuscript records of any great national collection contain just as much unknown material and of quite as much human interest as do the graves and mounds of Egypt or Babylonia, and there is much of the same fascination in the work of excavating it.
This being the condition of the sources, it is evident that there is no lack of material for study of the period 1580 to 1660. This paper is intended, then, simply to plead for a more minute, careful, methodical, scholarly study of English conditions and English events at the time of the first American migration, and to point out the practicability of such an investigation. What is needed is not so much a study of the great men of the period as of the typical men; not so much an account of the casual occurrences of the time as of its wide-spread institutions ; not so much a narrative of the temporary conflicts of the English people as of their normal development. There is room for many laborers. The young historian, looking for work worthy of his enthusiasm; the worried professor, at a loss where to advise his young charge to go in search of a thesis-subject : the old, hardened investigator, looking for some new world to conquer; the student of American colonial history who follows his subject backward till it brings him tantalizingly to the very edge of the Atlantic-all these may find occupation and interest and enlightenment for themselves and for others in the field of investigation here pointed out.
And it is no uninteresting or repellent task. It takes us back, wandering children that we are, to our mother-country; it places us in the midst of the life, the variety, the excitement of Elizabethan and early Stuart England; in the study of local institutions, indeed
AM. HIST. REV., VOL. XI.-51.
in the study of almost any of the phases of the time, we are brought into contact with the rural and civic gentry of England, that great homogeneous, patriotic, and gifted body which was the real governing class of England, and from whose ranks came so many of the leaders at court and in Parliament, on land and at sea, in England and in America; it makes us onlookers at one scene in the development of English history, that longest, most continuous, and most momentous historical drama that the world has yet known.
EDWARD P. CHEYNEY.