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IN 1890 the author published a small book, entitled The Industrial History of England, which met with a somewhat undeserved success, and has rapidly gone through several large editions. It was described in the first preface as "an attempt to relate in a short, concise, and simple form the main outlines of England's economic and industrial history," meant "to serve as an introduction to a fuller study of the subject, and as a preliminary sketch which the reader can afterwards, if he wishes, fill in for himself from larger volumes;" and it seems to have attained its object of awakening popular interest, to some extent, in a very important branch of national history. But it had all the faults of a brief outline, and contained errors of fact and of expression which no one has regretted more sincerely than the author. It has therefore been my endeavour, in this larger work, to produce a History of Industry of a more satisfactory character, while at the same time retaining the essential features that characterised the earlier effort. As before, I have attempted, as far as possible, in the brief limits of a work like this, to connect economic and industrial questions with social, political, and military movements, since only in some such mutual relation can historical events obtain their full significance.
The Industrial History of England has been taken, on the whole, as the basis of this book, and the arrangement
of periods and chapters has been but slightly altered; but the original book has been entirely re-written, and so much new matter has been added that the present volume is quite three times the size of the first essay. Fresh maps have been drawn, new tables of statistics added, and footnotes have been given for every statement of any importance.
The first period also, up to the Norman conquest, contains entirely new matter, involving a certain amount of original work. For some time it has appeared to me that the results of archæological and antiquarian research into the pre-historic period have not been sufficiently utilised in dealing with our industrial history, and that the origin of the manor, in especial, derives added light from these investigations. It has therefore been my endeavour to weave into the story of industrial progress several of the results arrived at by investigators of pre-historic conditions, believing, as I do, that the many centuries of industrial human life which elapsed before our written history began must have left upon our nation some traces of their course. At the same time, I have not wished to emphasise the pre-historic period unduly, and have therefore confined the remarks upon it to a very limited space. But I hope that the "survey of the origin of the manor," in § 32, may be some contribution to the discussion of the subject.
Throughout the book I have tried to review the industrial life of England as a whole, and to present a general survey of it throughout its gradual development. In this respect Industry in England differs from most works of the kind, for they have generally been devoted either to some special period or some special aspect, or have dealt
with industry only as a branch of the national commerce, I have endeavoured to give full weight to the views of other writers, especially on disputed points, but have also indicated my own (though with considerable diffidence) where there seemed reason to differ from them. I do not suppose that I have succeeded in being impartial, for, though impartiality is the ideal, it is also the will o' the wisp of the historian, and generally deserts him when he needs it most; but I have at least endeavoured to give reasons for my conclusions. And while in some points I differ, no one admires more than myself the work of such historians as Dr Cunningham and Professor Ashley, whose names I venture specially to mention, because I wish gratefully to acknowledge the magnitude of the help rendered to me, as to all students, by their recent contributions to industrial history. My obligations to them are, I trust, acknowledged as often as possible in the footnotes, but mere references of that kind cannot convey by any means adequately the extent to which a student like myself has benefited from their researches.
As regards the footnotes generally, every endeavour has been made to acknowledge all the sources which have been consulted, and any omission in this respect the author sincerely regrets. Considerable difficulty was occasioned by my change of residence during the completion of the book, and a consequent compulsory recourse to different libraries; and the indulgence of readers and critics is therefore asked for any omission or error thereby caused. It might also be added that this book has been written in
1 As, e.g., The Peasants' Revolt, the condition of the Labourer in the fifteenth century, the Poor Law of Elizabeth, the Assessment of Wages, &c., &c.
the intervals of a very busy life, and out of reach of any special collection of works on industrial subjects or of any of the greater libraries of the kingdom.
I cannot conclude without paying a tribute to the memory of the late Professor J. E. Thorold Rogers, to whom I showed, as a mere beginner in his special subject, the proofs of the first few chapters of the little book (The Industrial History of England) from which this larger volume has developed. To his kindly encouragement and to the inspiring teaching of his economic works, I owe whatever knowledge I possess of that side of our national history which is of such vast importance to a citizen of modern England.
LIVERPOOL, SEPTEMBER 1896.
H. DE B. GIBBINS.