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THE EVE OF THE
* REFORMATION

STUDIES IN THE
RELIGIOUS LIFE AND THOUGHT OF THE ENGLISH
PEOPLE IN THE PERIOD PRECEDING THE
REJECTION OF THE ROMAN JURIS-
DICTION BY HENRY VIII

BY

ABBOT GASOUET. D.D.

LONDON

GEORGE BELL & SONS

1905

U. OF M. FLINT COLLEGE LIBRARY

First Published, May, 1900 Second Edition, October, 1900 Cheaper re-issue, May, 1905 Reprinted, October, 1905

TO THE READER

(A NOTE TO THE THIRD EDITION)

The sale of two editions of this book leads me to hope that some readers may be found for a third and cheaper issue. The kind reception given to the work on its first appearance five years ago was, I am glad to think, not confined to the Catholic press. Some of my critics, it is true, hardly gave me credit for perfect honesty in the presentment of my picture of England on the eve of that great religious and social revolution we have learned to call the Reformation. But even these, though somewhat hostile, were gentle in their strictures, and distinctly "general" in their criticisms of my statements; they preferred to content themselves with well-meant warnings to their readers not to accept too readily the many specious statements in the pages of my book where they contradicted the traditional beliefs of the Protestant centuries.

For the most part, I am happy to think, my reviewers did not deny me the first and essential quality of every historian, however humble: honesty of purpose and a determination to set forth the truth in all its nakedness. Many of them indeed expressed a hope that this small volume might find its way into the hands of a wide circle of readers of different types of thought. This is, of course, what I should like: not that I have any particular thesis to prove, or controversy to assist; but because I believe that nothing is lost and much is gained by endeavouring to search out and face the truth of facts no matter whether they be pleasant or unpleasant, whether they agree with our preconceived notions or contradict them. This is, and I hope always will be, my aim. How far I have succeeded I leave to others to judge; but I have reason, I think, to be satisfied when the critic of the Athenaum is able to write of my studies as follows: "Dr. Gasquet has produced a book which will set many men thinking. He has done an excellent piece of tft>rk, and has offered to students of history a highly interesting problem. . . . The controversial element is so subordinated to the scholarly setting forth of simple facts and the adroit marshalling of evidence that one might read the volume through without being tempted to ask what the author's creed is, or whether he has any, and when one gets to the end one is inclined to wish that there were a little more."

But of all the notices accorded to the book on its first appearance, that which undoubtedly afforded me the greatest pleasure, as being the verdict of the one man in England, qualified by his studies to speak with authority, was the signed review contributed by Dr. James Gairdner to the columns of the New Era. Having stated in his Own words the main points examined and illustrated in The Eve of the Reformation, and which he speaks of as "the confutation of old errors," and as "a great step gained," he adds: "I think even if they [these main points] do not meet with general acquiescence now, all careful and candid inquirers will by-and-by agree with him; for it is really impossible to give much attention to the literature and documents of the period without coming to such conclusions."

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