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PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION,
BY THE AUTHOR.
A SECOND edition of this work being required, I have taken the opportunity to revise it carefully throughout. While preserving the original arrangement, I have added much fresh matter, and several portions, more especially the chapter on “The Succession to the Crown," and the last chapter on the “ Progress of the Constitution since the Revolution," have been to a considerable extent rewritten. The latter chapter, from a fear lest the volume should extend to an inconvenient length, had originally been too much compressed. It has now been broken up into two chapters, which will, I trust, be found to treat with adequate fulness the important topics which fall within the post-Revolutionary period.
As stated in the preface to the first edition, the aim of the present work is to give a concise but comprehensive history of the origin and development of the English Constitution. Intended primarily as a text-book for students at the Universities and Inns of Court, it was my hope that the book might also prove not unacceptable to the general reader. For all of us alike, the history of the Political Constitution under which we live must possess a practical value, apart from the interest attaching to the many stirring events which light up the story of its genesis and growth. A clear apprehension of the varying political aspect of the English nation throughout its long career, is as essential to a true knowledge of English history as a familiarity with the wars and the social phenomena which mainly arrest the attention of the general historian.
The very favourable reception which this work has met with, and the short space of time within which its position has been established, constitute a source of legitimate gratification, and I have spared no pains to make the present edition as complete as possible.
My obligations to the older writers, Kemble, Lappenberg, Palgrave, and Hallam, as well as to the more recent works of Stubbs, Freeman, and May, are apparent, and have been duly acknowledged. But numerous other writers of eminence have been referred to, and while gladly availing myself of the guidance of previous workers in the same field, I have also personally consulted the Rolls of Parliament, the Mediaeval Chroniclers, and other original authorities, and have endeavoured to arrive at an independent judgment on all points of importance.
The arrangement adopted is still, in the main, chronological, but with occasional deviations when some particular topic seemed to require a continuous treatment.
I have adhered to my original plan of considering ecclesiastical matters purely under their political aspect, and of endeavouring, as far as possible, to keep aloof from all party spirit in describing the nature and growth of our institutions.
The Texts of Magna Charta, the Petition of Right, and the Bill of Rights—those three great landmarks of English Constitutional History—which were given in full in the first edition, have been supplemented by the text of the Act of Settlement, which completes the written code of our Constitution.
T. P. T.-L. THE TEMPLE, December 1879.