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DAVID MASSON, M.A., LL.D.,
PROFESSOR OF RHETORIC AND ENGLISH LITERATURE
IN THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH.
MACMILLAN AND CO.
A. L. CROSS 2.6.41
PREFACE TO VOLUME VI.
Ir is naturally with some satisfaction that I complete at last a work begun so long ago. It is a satisfaction also, to myself at least, to have been able to persevere to the very end in the original plan, omitting nothing, slurring nothing, that the plan required. In the present volume, for example, I have done my best towards the conjunction of a sufficient History of the Restoration and its Consequences with the concluding Fourteen Years of Milton's Biography.
It is unnecessary, I hope, to repeat my assurance that the historical
portions of the six volumes, even those that are most summary in appearance, are no mere compilations from any existing history, or from all existing histories together, but are the results of original and independent survey and inquiry, according to gradually formed notions of what English History ought to be and to include, with very deep digging, and much use of the pickaxe, in many tracts and spots of previously neglected ground. What may be more necessary is the repetition of an acknowledgment made, more than eight years ago, in the Prefaoe to Volume II. “I never can pass a sheet of the historical kind for the press," I then wrote, "without a dread lest, from inadvertence or from sheer ignorance, some error, some blunder even, may have escaped. me." No sincere historical inquirer but will understand this confession and sympathise with it; but I would repeat it now expressly with reference to the entire work. The errors of fact that have yet been pointed out in the previous volumes are few and slight; but I am aware of some that have not been pointed out.
execution of the work and the publication of it in successive instalments have occasioned also some flaws of mechanical form, which revision might amend. As it stands, I can but offer it as, on the whole, a faithful fulfilment of a large design, and trust that it may not be without its uses in its professed character, as combining a more thorough and minute Life of Milton than had before been attempted with a new Political, Ecclesiastical, and Literary History of Milton's whole Time.
Though the dimensions of the book are somewhat unusual they are even moderate for such a combination of the Biography of Milton with a History of England, and of the connexions of England with Scotland and Ireland, and with foreign countries, through the Civil Wars, the Commonwealth, the Protectorates of Oliver and Richard, the Anarchy, and the first fourteen years of the Restoration. A copious Index is needed and is in preparation ; and meanwhile there may be some convenience in the Tables of Contents prefixed to the several volumes and in the studied fulness of those for Volumes IV, V, and VI.
EDINBURGH: December, 1879.