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OUR history is full of great events, and extends, since the time of Caesar, over more than nineteen hundred years ; but the more important part of it, considered as it affects us at present, is comprised within the modern period. Students of the history of our language usually consider this as beginning, for practical purposes, with the accession of Henry VII.; and it was near the beginning of the eighth year of his reign that Columbus discovered San Salvador. The events of the last four hundred years concern us therefore most nearly; but there is also much that we cannot rightly appreciate without some acquaintance with the laws, manners, and customs of medieval times.


The law of progress has always involved great and important changes. Many of these, especially as regards the pronunciation of our language and the history of our spelling, have been so slight and imperceptible at the time as to have usually escaped much observation ; but constant flux and steady movement produce important differences at last.

One difficulty of watching events consists in the perpetual change of time and place; and it is for this reason that it is a partial gain—because it affords us a steadier view—to eliminate one of these
elements by making the place invariable. This is why it is often of much assistance to peruse the annals of a single parish, such as that of Theberton, in order to understand how it is fully subject to the general law, changing from day to day for the most part imperceptibly, yet not unfrequently even violently affected by the shocks of great events. It is extremely interesting to note, in the following pages, several instances in which even a quiet parish has passed through its trials. See, for example, the remark at p. 8, that " from that act of a pope, who died seven centuries ago, our rectors have still to suffer !" The " first prosecution of a poacher " goes back to 1299 (p. 10). In 1131 there was "a deadly pest amongst the animals, such as had never been in memory of man " (p. i I). And it was ascribed to the appearance in the sky of an exceptionally beautiful exhibition of the aurora borealis. Much interest attaches to the prices of wheat and bullocks in 1281 and 1288 (p. 22). A pheasant cost as much as a goose. In 1348-9 came the terrible Black Death, when "harvests rotted on the ground " (p. 24).

Few of us realise, even in a slight degree, the many comforts of life which we moderns enjoy. Even the peasant may now protect his windows with glass ; but the medieval noble, who knew but little privacy, often had to dine in hall, protected only by a clumsy hood, or not at all, from the horrible draughts pouring through apertures in the cold stone wall. " How women got on without pins is hard to imagine" (p. 30). There is a strange story about the arrest of the rector of Theberton in his own church, whilst he was celebrating divine service, on Ascension Day, 1445 (1). 55). In 1528, we have the trials of two " wise women," who pretended to effect cures (p. 63); and somewhat later, of a wizard who practised divination by help of a sieve and a pair of shears (p. 65). In 1514, the new hand-guns were challenging the use of the bow ; but the parliament decided in favour of the latter (P. 69).


These are a few specimens of the multifarious kinds of information to be here found; all within the first 70 pages. It would be easy to multiply them largely ; but I hope enough has been said to recommend to the reader a careful perusal of the whole volume.

Rev. Prof. WALTER W. SKEAT.