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In these days of many books it seems necessary to give a few words of apology or explanation for venturing to add another to the number, especially on a subject already so well worked as to be almost trite. The only apology I can offer is, that in writing these Lectures I had no most distant intention of making a book. They were genuine Lectures, given week by week to a class of students in the College for Men and Women in Queen Square.
My pupils and I having wandered for some time in the intricate mazes of modern English Grammar, and finding the study somewhat barren, I proposed that we should turn our attention to English History, as likely to bring more interest, variety, and fruitfulness to our work. When I began to prepare the lessons, I found indeed innumerable books, but no book, no one book, which was not either too learned, too copious, too trivial, or too condensed for my exact purpose. I had neither power nor ambition to bring new materials, but I had to choose and shape afresh those already so bountifully provided, in order to reach my aim, which was to awaken a real and vivid interest in so noble a study as that of the life and growth of England through 2000 years.
Whilst owning obligations to so many, I may, perhaps, be permitted to express my special indebtedness to Mr. Green, not only for the constant guidance of his most original and delightful