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“HALF-Hours of ENGLIsh History,” although forming a Companion Series to “HALF-Hours witH THE BEST AUTHORs,” differs in several particulars from the plan of that collection.
1. Although the articles, taken on an average, will each furnish reading for about a Half-Hour, they cannot, from the nature of the work, be so arranged as to supply continuous reading for every day and week of the year.
2. They are not selected as specimens of the excellence of style, although many articles are necessarily taken from those who may be included amongst “the best Authors”; but chiefly as affording a succession of the more graphic parts of English History, chronologically arranged.
The Editor was led to the conception of his plan, from the consideration that the portions of History upon which general readers, and the young especially, delight to dwell, are those which tell some story which is complete in itself, or which furnish some illustration which has a separate as well as a general interest.
This Volume, which extends from the Roman period to the end of the reign of Elizabeth, is, with some few exceptions, necessarily drawn from modern sources. The early Chroniclers tell so much that is fabulous or conflicting, that they afford little assistance. But as we approach the period when History becomes more exact—when actual observers—such as Froissart and Clarendon,<relate the scenes they have witnessed with the spirit which always belongs to real impressions—and philosophical annalists such as Bacon and Camden draw from authentic documents or vivid traditions —we shall find ample materials in the original sources. In such as these we have to search for narratives that have charms rarely found in any historical digest. Beyond these, we have the Memoir-writers, and the Auto-biographers, in whose pages we have those pictures of manners without which History is too often a record of court intrigues and aimless wars.
The principle which has guided the introduction of Dramatic Scenes, whether original or selected, is indicated at page 93.
The Editor has to request the indulgence of any living author, or any proprietor of Copyright, from whose stores he has selected without permission—but always with due acknowledgment. His respect for the rights of literary property will always prevent him abusing the indulgence upon which he has thus presumed.