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The original essay, of which these pages are a development, won the Hulsean Prize at Cambridge in December 1888. My excuse for their appearing so long after the event, must be the rare leisure of a schoolmaster's life; my excuse for their appearing at all, lies in the conditions of the founder's will. The trustees of Dr Hulse's benefaction generously granted me, more than two years ago, permission to expand and improve my manuscript; but an essay of this kind can never be more than prodromic and tentative, and the subject is too wide to be adequately treated in a single volume of reasonable dimensions. Some of the chapters, notably those which deal with the influence of Boethius on medieval thought and literature, would furnish material each for a separate treatise.
With regard to the present work, I ought perhaps to specify how and in what degree it differs from my original scheme. The part that remains intact is chaps. i., iii., and iv. Chaps, ii. and v. had to be rewritten—the one because T could no longer honestly say that I agreed with Dr Hodgkin's explanation of the 'Trial,' the other because I could no longer regard the 'Anecdoton Holderi' as conclusive evidence of the authenticity of the Tracts. Chap, vii. is entirely new, and will, I hope, fill up a gap in the argument. Chap. vi. has been altered beyond recognition. The pages of it which deal with 'Beowulf' may seem a little out of place in a chapter professedly confined to vernacular translation; but, to be honest, I could not refrain from airing my views on the sources of the strange philosophical element in that poem.
My warmest thanks are due to those friends who have helped me in my work,—to Professor Hort for reading chap. vii. in manuscript; to M. Paul Meyer for performing a like office for chap, vi., and offering many suggestions and some invaluable criticism; and above all to Professor Earle, who has crowned a long course of kindness by allowing this little book to go out with his name inscribed upon it.
Marlborough, April 1891.
BO E T H I US
HUGH FRASER STEWART, M.A.
TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE
WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS EDINBURGH AND LONDON
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