BLTC Press Titles

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The Bhagavad Gita


The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting

The Worm Ouroboros

E. R. Eddison

Vanity Fair

William Thackery


by John Richard Green





Frontispiece—The Tower of London .

New Oxford College and the Hundred Clerks

Buckingham Palace ......

The Great Fire of London ....





For the conquest of Britain by the English our authorities are scant and imperfect. The only extant British account is the " Epistola" of Qildas, a work written probably about A.d. 560. The style of Gildas is diffuse and inflated, but his book is of great value in the light it throws on the state of the island at that time, and as giving at its close what is probably the native story of the conquest of Kent. This is the only part of the struggle of which we have any record from the side of the conquered. The English conquerors, on the other hand, have left jottings of their conquest of Kent, Sussex, and Wessex in the curious a-nnala which form the opening of the compilation now known as the "English" or "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, annals which are undoubtedly historic, though with a slight mythical intermixture. For the history of the English conquest of mid-Britain or the Eastern Coast we possess no written materials from either side; and a fragment of the Annals of Northumbria embodied in the later compilation ("Historia Britonum") which bears the name of Nennius alone throws light on the conquest of the North.

From these inadequate materials however Dr. Guest has succeeded by a wonderful combination of historical and archaeological knowledge in constructing a narrative of the conquest of Southern and Southwestern Britain which must serve as the starting-point for all future inquirers. This narrative, so far as it goes, has served as the basis of the account given in my text; and I can only trust that it may soon be embodied in some more accessible form than that of a series of papers in the Transactions of the Archaeological Institute. In a like way though Kemble's "Saxons in England" and Sir F. Palgrave's " History of the English Commonwealth" (if read with caution) contain much that is worth notice, our knowledge of the primitive constitution of the English people and the changes introduced into it since their settlement in Britain must be mainly drawn from the "Constitutional History" of Professor Stubbs. In my earlier book I had not the advantage of aid from this invaluable work, which was then unpublished ; in the present I do little more than follow it in all constitutional questions as far as it has at present gone.

Basda's "Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum," a work of which I have spoken in my text, is the primary authority for the history of the Northumbrian overlordship which followed the Conquest. It is by copious insertions from Breda that the meagre regnal and episcopal annals of the West Saxons have been brought to the shape in which they at present appear in the part of the English Chronicle which concerns this period. The life of Wilfrid by Eddi, with those of Cuthbert by an anonymous contemporary and by Baeda himself, throw great light on the religious and intellectual condition of the North at the time of its supremacy. But with the fall of Northumbria we pass into a period of historical dearth. A few incidents of Mercian history are preserved among the meagre annals of Wessex in the English Chronicle: but for the most part we are thrown upon later writers, especially Henry of Huntingdon and William of Malmesbury, who, though authors of the twelfth century, had access to older materials which are now lost. A little may be gleaned from biographies such as that of Guthlac of Crowland; but the letters of Boniface and Alcwine, which have been edited by Jaffe in his series of "Monumenta Germanica," form the most valuable contemporary materials for this period.

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