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any means of reference whatever. They relate to a period when so many of the families of rank and mark in later and in present times were obtaining or struggling to make a position for themselves-to a period which comprises the origin of a large portion of our present peerage. It may be mentioned that among the Star Chamber proceedings of the reign of James I. is a remarkable case, in which the family of Cavendish attempted to bring the action of the Court to bear upon a person of inferior position,-one Margaret Chatterton, who had inveigled a scion of their house into a marriage with her. The oppressive action of the Court of Wards and Liveries soon became notorious. An auditor of the Court, John Audley-the name of whose estate near London is preserved in that of the "Audley" streets, near Hyde Park-is taken as a type of oppression and avarice by the elder D'Israeli; and we read of an ancestor of Baron Poltimore having been taken "to ward" by some great person, who carried him into a distant country, bred him up in the drudgery of the family, concealing from him his quality and property, which he only discovered by some accident.

Another extraordinary addition to the collection of public documents was caused by the dissolution of the monasteries and the seizure of their property. With this property came very many of their titledeeds and records; but, alas! a very small portion indeed. There is no doubt that the greater part of them were scattered far and wide; and no collectors of such curious and now valued stores arose till very

many of them had perished, by accident or design. Still the "Court of the Augmentation of the Revenues of the Crown," which was specially constituted to deal with the religious houses, and with the great wealth which flowed into the Exchequer by their dissolution, took possession of, and has preserved, a large number of their muniments. It is in this collection that so much of the most curious and valuable information relating to those establishments is to be found. Many of their charters and rolls of accounts of various kinds are still preserved; together with a few cartularies. By some accident, perhaps, many of these documents got into the section of the Treasury of the Exchequer, into which was transmitted the large mass of official and officious papers relating to the dissolution itself, the causes from which it sprang, and the means by which it was designed and carried out.

To the period of the dissolution of the monasteries we may assign the commencement of that later and large series of documents which is the staple of the "State Paper Office" collection, and which is known by the title "Domestic." Any attempt to describe so vast and miscellaneous a collection, extending from the first year of Henry VIII. almost to the present time, must not be here expected: it must be sought for in the valuable and comprehensive Calendars of that series, and of its branches, "Foreign," "Colonial," and "Irish," which are now in the course of formation under the superintendence of the DeputyKeeper. And in the able prefaces to those Calendars will be seen the best epitome of the general

bearing of the documents upon the history of the country, and their value to archæological science. A large addition to the general collection of documents has been made, by the transfer of the old books and papers of various departments of the State to the custody of the Master of the Rolls. Perhaps the most important and interesting of these are those which relate to the business of the Treasury, and which consist chiefly of the minutes of the board upon the various and important matters submitted to its consideration, or otherwise dealt with by it.

It is only within a comparatively recent period that any systematic attention has been bestowed upon the general collection of public records. Those which were required for legal purposes have always been well tended, while their value continued; but those which are most valuable in the consideration of the archæologist have suffered lamentably. It would be a long and unpleasant tale to tell the adventures of many of these most valued documents-how they had lain huddled up in the most unfitting places, covered with dirt, and with no possible facilities for being examined or read-of their being shifted from place to place, and crammed into any cellar or garret that happened to be empty and unfitted for any other purpose-how they have been lost and purloined-how many of the Welsh documents have been actually cast into the sea-and how a large mass of papers, among which were many most curious bills, warrants, and accounts, was sold for waste paper.

Let us be thankful that those times are passed;

now all receive the consideration they deserve. It may be advisable even to reduce the bulk of the Public Records by some careful system of selection. The task of their arrangement and calendaring is no light one. In the year 1833, the estimate for the calendaring of the contents of a single office was £366,800.

As it is, the bulk of the Public Records is enormous. In the main building itself—a building of the most substantial character-are nearly eighty rooms, chiefly cubes of seventeen feet, fitted up in the most economical manner as to space, and entirely filled, or to be filled, with documents. Temporary accommodation is still required outside for a considerable number.

Of the advantages which have accrued to archæological pursuits by the improved condition of the Public Records much need not be said. To deal with them thoroughly would be to review the whole progress of historical writing and antiquarian research since the commencement of the century. The new edition of Dugdale's "Monasticon," edited by the Secretary of the British Museum, the Secretary of the Bodleian Library, and the Keeper of the Records in the Chapter House and the Augmentation Office, was one of the first works upon which documentary evidence was brought to bear on a comprehensive scale; and in the work still in progress, under the hands of Mr. Froude, may be seen how extensively such materials may be used for the general history of the country.





FEW periods of English history are more wearisome to the historian, none more carefully avoided by the general reader, than the period which separates the death of Henry I. from the accession of Henry II. The reign of Stephen seems at first sight a mere series of dynastic struggles, purposeless revolutions, battles of kites and crows waged over a nation's agony. But it is in fact to uninteresting periods, such as this, that we have to look for the birth of those great intellectual movements and political principles that leaven all after-history. Behind the veil of blood and fire that hides these stormy years from us a little patience may discern a great religious revival going on, which was to affect in a marked degree the very balance of the Constitution itself. The final defeat of feudalism in the exhaustion of the great houses left England free for the judicial and administrative reforms that throw a lustre over the reign of Henry II. Above all, it was in the Revolution which seated Stephen on

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