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ENGLAND AND FRANCE
THE HOUSE OF LANCASTER;
INTRODUCTORY VIEW OF THE EARLY REFORMATION.
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.
The period to which this work relates is one of great interest in the history both of England and of France. The events recorded, and the characters of those by whom they were brought about, deserve to be closely examined. Nor are the judgments which may be pronounced upon them confined in their bearing to those remote times; they are of more general application. A careful consideration of the events may teach us how a great country may be brought to the verge of ruin by the follies and the crimes of faction; a dispassionate contemplation of the characters may show how little genius crowned with success is entitled to the admiration of reflecting minds when allied to cruelty and fraud. It has oftentimes been laid to the charge of authors that they encourage, when they should restrain, the propensity of the multitude, dazzled by the glories of war, to pass over the guilt of conquerors, the enemies of the human race. A sounder view, however, is not to be inculcated by passing over the talents of those men, and only dwelling on their faults. The historian must above all things be calm and impartial. Forbidden to extenuate crimes, he is alike forbidden to conceal merits, though never allowed to regard the one as a compensation for the other. His conclusions are neither to be attack nor defence, invective nor panegyric; he is rather a judge than an advocate; on no account must he be a partisan.
It is to be feared that, facts being closely followed and opinions plainly expressed, this work can find little favour either with the French or the English reader. Yet the time will come when those who have been most enamoured of warlike renown shall regard unjust aggression as not more wicked than it is disgraceful; and when they to whose ambition the independence or the freedom of their country has been sacrificed, shall no longer, to the lasting injury of mankind, be revered as its benefactors, but regarded only as criminals upon a large scale.
Nearly the whole of this work was written a considerable time ago. It is indeed above five years since the first portion of it was printed.