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THE period of six hundred years (from about A.D. 466 to 1066), during which the Anglo-Saxons were dominant in England, has always been viewed with much interest and attention by the modern English, particularly of our own day. Nor are we at a loss to discover the true explanation of this fact. A nation will always be most attached to that portion of its former history which developes a state of things, polity, and institutions, similar to their own, and adapted to become a model for their imitation. Now the tendency of the present times is to enlarge the rights and privileges of the people, that they may-all, and not merely a section of them-enjoy as much happiness in their social life and during their existence on the earth, as the constitution of their nature requires; and, moreover, that they'shall, as a body, have the privilege of judging for themselves in what way the largest share of enjoyment may be obtained. Hence has arisen that renewal of attention which the people of England at present devote to that part of English history which preceded the Norman conquest. Then are supposed to have been planted those seeds of national liberty which, under every form of cutting and pruning to which the plant may occasionally have been subjected, have nevertheless con tinually germinated, until the tree, like that which sprang from the grain of mustard-seed, bids fair to overshadow all of us.
To such a spirit of inquiry must be attributed the fact that the Anglo-Saxon Ecclesiastical History by the Venerable Bede, has already, before the appearance of this volume, been published in three separate editions in about seven years; and to the same cause must be ascribed the publication of this volume, in which, at an unprecedented low price, are now for the first time presented to the public the two great