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STATE OF EUROPE
THE MIDDLE AGES.
HENRY HALLAM, LL.D., F.R.A.S.,
AUTHOR OF THE "CONSTITUTIO: AL HISTORY OF ENGLAND," ETC.
Εκ Χάσος δ' Ερεβός τε μέλαινά τε Νυξ εγένοντο»
REPRINT OF FOURTH EDITION, AS REVISED AND CORRECTED.
PATERNOSTER ROW, E.C.
OBITUARY NOTICE FROM THE TIMES,' JAN. 24, 1859.
The constellation of writers who shed a radiance on the early part of the prese«t cere
tury is fast vanishing away. Not the least remarkable of these, the historian of the Middle Ages, of the Revival of Letters, and of the English Constitution, Henry Hallam, died on Saturday last, at the great age of 81. He has left but few of his companions behind him. Among historians, we doubt if there is to be found one equal to Mr Hallam in impartiality. There have been historians erudite as he, not less acute, more inspiring as thinkers, more elegant as writers, out for stern justice he is probably without a rival. His unflinching integrity, his subjugation of per sonal prejudice, his determination to speak the truth under all circumstances, is one of the rarest things in literature. This perfect frankness never takes in him the form which it assumes in minds less accurately balanced, of an impatient desire to speak unpalateable truths in season and out of season. Perhaps there never was a critic who was so little of an egotist, and whose judgment was so little swayed by personal feelings. He belonged to that school which in history deals with principles rather than with persons. Mr Hallam, in striving to be a classical historian, has shown but little ambition to be a popular one. The student finds in his works a mine of wealth, unbounded erudition, accuracy that has never been impugned,
a wise judgment that almost always leaves one satisfied, a brevity of statement that prevents exhaustion, and an elegance of style that draws him along. In all the writings of Mr Hallam, there are passages instinct with fine feeling, which may well fix the attention of the most desultory reader. Never writing for effect, but conscientiously and laboriously striving to elicit the bare truth, this great historian, whose works are as valuable as any that have ever been written, often attains, without seeking it, an effect which the masters of popular applause might envy.
In 1818, he gave to the world the first, and perhaps the greatest, of his works, THE VIEW OF THE STATE OF EUROPE DURING THE MIDDLE Ages-a work which, though somewhat expensive, (first Edition, 2 vols. 4to, 845.,) has gone through a dozen editions. In every page of this history we are struck with the enormous industry and the conscientiousness of the writer, which, in union with his sagacity of thought, and pith of composition, have rendered every work produced by him standard of its kind. He who has now gone from among us, full of years and of honours, was a good and a great man, genial in his nature, wise in judgment, truthful to the last degree, and doing with might whatever his hand fokard to do.
It is the object of the present work to exhibit, in a series of historical dissertations, a comprehensive survey of the chief circumstances that can interest a philosophical inquirer during the period usually denominated the Middle Ages. Such an undertaking must necessarily fall under the class of historical abridgments: yet there will perhaps be found enough to distinguish it from such as have already appeared. Many considerable portions of time, especially before the twelfth cen. tury, may justly be deemed so barren of events worthy of remembrance, that a single sentence or paragraph is often sufficient to give the character of entire generations, and of long dynasties of obscure kings.
Non ragioniam di lor, ma guarda e passa. And even in the more pleasing and instructive parts of this middle period, it has been my object to avoid the dry composition of annals, and aiming, with what spirit and freedom I could, at a just outline rather than a miniature, to suppress all events that did not appear essentially concatenated with others, or illustrative of important conclusions. But as the modes of government and constitutional laws which prevailed in various countries of Europe, and especially in England, seemed to have been less fully dwelt upon in former works of this description than military or civil transactions, while they were deserving of far more attention, I have taken pains to give a true representation of them, and in every instance to point out the sources from which the reader may derive more complete and original information.
Nothing can be farther from my wishes than that the following pages should be judged according to the critical laws of historical composition. Tried in such a balance tney would be eminently defective. The limited extent of this work, compared with the subjects it embraces, as well as its partaking more of the character of political dissertation than of narrative, must necessarily preclude that circumstantial delineation of events and of characters, upon which the beauty as well as usefulness of a regular history so mainly depends. Nor can I venture to assert that it will be found altogether perspicuous to those who are destitute of any previous acquaintance with the period to which it relates ; though I have only presupposed, strictly speaking, a knowledge of the common facts of English history, and have endeavoured to avoid, in treating of other countries, those allusive references which imply more information in the reader than the author designs to communicate. But the arrangement which I have adopted has