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THE 'ESTIMATES,' now published in a collected form, have appeared at intervals during the last two years in the columns of the Spectator' newspaper. They were undertaken, at the suggestion of the Editors of that periodical, with the hope that they might assist in supplying a want which has been felt by many readers of English History, of some more distinct conceptions of the English Kings as living men than are supplied by the incidental notices scattered through the record of their reigns, or by the meagre and often incongruous summaries of qualities which precede or conclude the narrative of each reign. Though something has been done in this direction in the case of particular Kings, I am not aware of any previous attempt having been made, on the plan here pursued, to present a complete series of personal delineations of our Princes from the Norman Conquest. Such delineations are of more significance and value as elements of National history in the case of England than in that of most countries, in consequence of the personal ability of the great majority of our Kings, and the close cooperation of King and People implied in the Spirit of the English Constitution.
There must be necessarily some appearance of dogmatism in a work in which conclusions alone are stated; so I have endeavoured, wherever space would allow, to suggest the considerations which led to the conclusions, or to illustrate the views put forward by corroborative facts. This was, of course possible much more in the earlier than in the later * Estimates; ' but I do not think that any Estimate will be found to be simply dogmatic. Though any at. tempt of this kind must as yet be, to a certain extent, tentative and provisional, the positive judgments here embodied have not been hastily formed ; and I have little expectation that they will be materially modified by future historical investigation. At any rate their definite exposition will facilitate their correction by other historical students, and so contribute to form a more settled public judgment.
In availing myself of the best aids afforded by previous writers, I have not adopted the conclusions of any without thoroughly considering the grounds
on which they seemed to rest; and, as a consequence, I do not think that my view of any King's character will be found quite identical with that taken by any preceding writer, though it would imply absurd arrogance on my part if a greater or less similarity were not found in the great majority of the Estimates to the general tone of the conclusions of some other writer. A specific enumeration of authorities in a work of this description is impossible, but I may mention here a few of the writers to whom I am under the greatest obligations. Besides older standard historians, such as Hallam, Lingard, and Sharon Turner, I owe much to Mr. Freeman, Dr. Lappenberg, Mr. Pearson, Sir E. Creasy, Mr. Froude, Dean Hooke, Mr. S. R. Gardiner, Lord Macaulay, Lord Stanhope, Mr. Massey, and (not least) Sir Erskine May. Quite as much am I indebted to the various editors of the volumes issued under the authority of the Master of the Rolls and of the Camden Society :-in particular to Mr. Walter Shirley, Mr. Hingeston, Mr. Stubbs, Mr. Riley, Mr. Nichols, Mr. Halliwell, Mr. Cole, Mr. James Gairdner, Professor Brewer, and the late Mr. John Bruce. Other authorities I have referred to in the Estimates' themselves; but I must not here omit Sir H. Nicholas' Introduction to the Proceedings of the Privy Council,' the volume on Tudor Legisla
tion by the late Mr. Amos, the works of Mr. Luders and Mr. Tyler on the early life of Henry the Fifth, and Mr. W. D. Christie's Life of Lord Shaftesbury. For the reign of Charles the First and the Commonwealth, with which my own studies have inade me most familiar, I have naturally relied more entirely on my own researches.
The Estimates' have been revised throughout, and a few additions and omissions made which seemed desirable.
J. L. S.
ATHEX ÆUM CLUB: August 9, 1872.